Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Career Services 
I went to the Career Development presentation that is built into Foundations today and got the results of the Business Career Interest Inventory test that I took back in March. Most of the results were basically in line with what I expected, but to see them out in front of me was a little surprising. On several metrics I fell well below the HBS mean by about a standard deviation, including Creative Production (no surprise there), Entrepreurial Attributes (again, not shocking), and Enterprise Control. Wait, now that's a little strange. Enterprise control is essentially about having a desire to have control and make decisions within a business. Not necessarily to manage a big department, mind you, just to have control over the future of the unit/fund/business. It shouldn't really surprise me that I am not motivated by making decisions, but for some reason it did.

Based upon an entirely superficial analysis of my results it looks like I am very well suited to be a b-school professor. As that career path requires more education and doesn't pay relatively well I think I'll put it on the back burner. My two prior career ideas, returning to operations and going into investment management, are actually pretty consistent with my test results, although they each have minor issues. I may not get the kind of interpersonal interaction I need from an investment management job, and I may not get to do much conceptual thinking while in operations. Other than that, I fit those two career paths pretty well. It will be interesting to see how my analysis changes as I get deeper into the career development process.

Monday, August 30, 2004

We had a nice weekend, it was very relaxing. Friday night was low key, and on Saturday I studied for a while at Starbucks, where I was pleasantly surprised when one of the employees noticed I had finished my coffee and brought me ice water. What good customer service!

Saturday night we went out to dinner with several other couples in North End, home of many great Italian resturants and bakeries. I had lobster ravioli, which was very tasty, and followed it up with a cupcake and a lemon ice from a nearby bakery. I was so satisfied I almost had to loosen my belt. Sunday was another re-charge day where we mostly just lounged around the house. We managed to clean the place and I got a lot of things knocked out that I had been putting off. All in all, a nice weekend.

I am coming to the realization in my Creating Modern Capitalism class that there are a lot of smart people here, and if I'm not careful I will have to settle for mediocrity among them. Although I have been a regular contributor, my comments do not seem to contain that extra bit of insight that can be found in about a third of the comments. I think part of the reason is that my background doesn't lend itself to the discussion the way it will in some other classes, like TOM (Tech. and Ops. Mgmt.). Reading a textbook and then making inferences and coming to conclusions has never been one of my strong points (I was an engineer, remember), so perhaps this is a skill that I will have to work to develop. Anyway, to make a long story short, I think I will have to work hard in order to perform extremely well in class.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Busy busy 
Well, the first week of Foundations is now pretty much at an end. We finished Crimson Greetings off Wednesday morning and then in the afternoon found out our personality types and again got together with our CG groups. For the most part I think I could have guessed who was introvert and extrovert, but some of the other traits were harder. Everyone in our group did a very good job of coming together as a team and not forcing others to operate in a particular manner. So, the fast and loose types didn't irritate the detail people and vice versa. Everyone worked in their own style but still fulfilled their role in the team. It was a fun exercise, and I was proud that our team had the highest final Net Income of any team in our universe.

One thing I don't like about HBS (and I don't know if other schools are like this as well), is that my schedule is never the same. Some days I have Creating Modern Capitalism in the Morning and Afternoon with Economics in between, other days Economics is first with two straight CMC classes later in the day. There's no consistency MWF or TTH either, it's all chaos. They released the Term 1 schedule (still no word on which section I'll be in, though), and the whole term is like this. Some Fridays I get out at 11:40, others 2:40, there's no rhyme or reason that I can figure out. Although I don't like to be bound by schedules (I am an INTP, after all...), I do like regular patterns and this chaos bothers me.

Anyway, this afternoon a few people are getting together to play Ultimate Frisbee and then it's off to TGIF at 3 or 3:30. I think Jie and I are going to lay low tonight, after going on the Boston Harbor cruise last night. Saturday we're going to go have dinner with some other couples in North End, which is a swanky Italian neighborhood with lots of great restaurants. That should be a lot of fun. There aren't any activities scheduled for Sunday, so hopefully we'll be able to go get groceries and dry cleaning out of the way and I can get a head start on the homework for next week.

Oh yeah, I also found out that at least two of the Foundations courses (Economics and CMC), have online tests that have to be taken over Labor Day Weekend. Ugh...

Tuesday, August 24, 2004

Well, Foundations is now 20% complete. Monday started off with a welcoming address by the Dean of the business school, the head of the MBA program, an alumnus, and a 2nd year student. Interestingly enough, the 2nd year was far and away the best speaker of the group. It was an varied series of speeches, but very un-HBS-like because they ran way over, so our first real class was cut short.

That class was Learning to Lead, where we did a short case designed to teach us about management issues as well as introduce us to the case method. The case discussion was ok, not great, partially I believe because the instructor was not real experienced in shaping the discussion. My afternoon class was Creating Modern Capitalism, where we had an excellent instructor and I really saw the strength of the case method. At several comments I found myself thinking: "Wow, I didn't even see that" or "Huh, I didn't think of it that way..." All in all, very impressive.

Today we spent the entire day on Crimson Greetings, which is a business simulation of a greeting card company. There are 13 people in my company, and we are divided into Production, R&D, Sales, and Admin. I'm in Sales, along a with former finance guy from Japan. The simulation itself is fairly stressful and feels like something out of The Apprentice (much more so than Sunday's "Apprentice" games...). Unlike the TV show, though, our team has bonded under the pressure and it was a really fun day. I'm looking forward to wrapping up Crimson Greetings tomorrow and then getting to the Learning to Lead follow-up course where we discuss personality types and group interaction. It should be interesting.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

The Donald 
Today the entire class of 2006 did a team building exercise they called the "Apprentice" games. Only at the very beginning and end was The Donald, or actually a very weak parody thereof, involved. The middle portion was put on by Treasure Hunt Adventures, and we had a large treasure hunt along with group activities to complete. It was pretty fun, and the weather was absolutely perfect, so I'm glad we went. Our team finished first both in the hunt itself and also in the scores on the group activities, so we were pretty proud of ourselves.

Classes start tomorrow and I have to read a case and review Chapter 1 from Creating Modern Capitalism. The first 2-3 days of class are pretty full, running into the late afternoon, so I want to try to get a lot of sleep tonight in preparation. We'll see...

Saturday, August 21, 2004

Great post 
This is a great post on John's blog. I found it very helpful and informative.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Registration, Orientation, and then later, relaxation 
Yesterday we went through day one of the orientation process at HBS. There isn't that much to do, so we got it all done and today we are going downtown to explore Haymarket instead. Anyway, the recap from yesterday:

We arrived early, around 8:45 or so, thinking it wouldn't be crowded. We weren't exactly wrong, but there were definitely more people than I thought there would be. When we went to the registration table I was told that I had to walk all the way over to Teele Hall, almost a mile away, because I still had a tuition bar. Now, I paid my tuition back in early July, so this was pretty irritating. When we got to Teele, we found that it was a month of unpaid rent (for September!) that was causing the bar. Now, the housing office told us we could wait until September 1 to pay that. Not so, said Ms. M, a true bureaucrat, we couldn't register until we owed Harvard nothing. Anyway, after some argument we paid and were on our way.

Before 11am, the start of the first presentation, I registered, Jie registered as a partner, we checked in with the Student Association and got our t-shirts for Sunday's HBS Apprentice Games (some form of team building excercise, I believe), got our permanent parking sticker, and joined the Harvard Coop. Not Co-op mind you, but coop. Oh yeah, I also had my photo taken for my id and registered my laptop with this nifty anti-theft service, STOP.

At 11am I went to a pretty interesting Technology presentation that introduced the HBS student portal, which is really very cool. They have created this web-based interface that tells you just about everything you need to know while you're at HBS. It has your class schedule, homework assignments, notifies you of announcements, etc. There is a section with information about your classes, complete with syllabi, course overviews, assignments, and class rosters. There is also a nifty section with FAQ's about all different aspects of HBS life, like grading and abscence policies, as well as student support resources, and more mundane things like how to find your locker.

Speaking of lockers, that's a funny topic all on its own. We have these lockers (think small post office boxes), in the bottom of Spangler, where the people behind the scenes at HBS put our cases and other handouts before we will need them in class. Yesterday we had to go pick up our cases and books that we will need in Foundations, along with our nametag and class placard. Apparently people usually have so much trouble opening their lockers, that they took the effort to record a helpful video and then play it on a loop on a big TV in the hallway with the lockers. The funniest part is that many people needed the video, because sometimes it would take 20 minutes or more for them to get their locker open. They have combo locks that you turn left-right-left, and many people were having serious trouble. On the other hand, one student's one year old daughter managed to open one all on her own. I guess she's future HBS material... ;)

After the Technology session I went home for lunch and then was back at 1pm for the presentation on library resources. Baker Library, though currently located in Kresge while Baker itself is renovated, has a lot of cool resources, almost all of which are located on the web. I'm a big library nut, so I think I'll try to swing by Kresge some time and check it out.

Next we had a panel discussion on forming study groups. There were three second years and one recent grad, and they talked about their experiences. It was pretty comical, a significant minority of HBS students take study group formation very seriously. One girl told stories about how she was interviewed about her background, motivations, study habits, and goals before she was allowed in a study group. It seems that most of those groups die out eventually, though, and the ones that last are the friendly ones where people just discuss the interesting points of the case. I think my number 2 criteria for a study group (number 1 being people I like), will be that attendance not be required. Study groups should be a relaxed atmosphere, IMHO.

At 3pm Jie came back up to school and we went to a safety and security session. It seems that most students pass on this, but I found it to be pretty informative. Harvard has a very good relationship with its police department, and both the security guy (a private firm), and the police Seargant were very nice and approachable.

After a nice nap, we went to our small group dinner that the SA put together. Our's was at Brother Jimmy's, a pretty good BBQ place in Harvard Square. We had a really good time, and met some really nice people. We talked and ate and drank for several hours, and then went to meet up with the rest of HBS over at John Harvard's. Harvard's was packed though, so we changed course and went to Grafton Street instead. We finished off the night there and walked home.

I can't stress enough how friendly and nice everyone is here. If there's one thing I would like future applicants to get from my blog it's that the stereotypes about HBS are wrong. Yes, there are people here who hold interviews for their study groups, but the vast majority are nice, cooperative people who are looking to make friends and have a good time.

Ok, if you read all this then bravo, I'm impressed. Please let me know of any specific questions about the activities, I don't really know what's useful and what's not, so if you are curious about something just make a comment or send an e-mail and I'll fill in details.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Somewhere out there, Martha is smiling... 
Jie and I have five closests in our apartment. One in each bedroom, two in the hallway, and one in the dining room. It's good that we have so many, cause we don't have a pantry and none of them are very deep, so we need every one.

They're pretty ugly, though. They're kind of a weird light tan color and they're metal and have various and sundry dents from previous occupants who apparently got frustrated opening and closing them.

Anyway, we had the bright idea that we could order picture magnets and decorate the doors. You know, to liven the place up. Photo magnets are a bit pricey, though, so instead we ordered the DIY kind on Amazon. We got a 50 pack of magnets that are sticky on one side, and also ordered a bunch of pictures. We got all the pictures today and I think it looks really nice.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004

Of movies and beers 
Yesterday was a good day. We met Adam at a place called Anna's Taqueria, which is a local chain that sells halfway decent mexican food at incredibly low prices. Jie and I both ate for less than $10, which may not sound like a bargain to my Texas readers, but it's really very inexpensive by Boston standards. It was good to see Adam, we spent a good hour catching up, and if possible I think we'll have him and his girlfriend over for dinner some time.

Between lunch and meeting 3app and PY for drinks we went down to the Boston Commons and saw I, Robot. I've read just about every sci-fi novel by Asimov, and so I expected to hate the movie, since it seemed like such a perversion of the book based upon the previews. On the contrary, I thought they had an Asimov-worthy storyline and I was very impressed. I certainly liked it better than either Bourne Supremacy or Collateral, both of which we saw recently.

We met 3app and PY at John Harvard's in Harvard Square and had a very good time. PY ordered the sampler, which is a fifth-pint or so of five different beers they brew there. It looked great, so I got one as well. We stayed for a while and chatted about b-schools, parking and driving in Boston, Canada, and several other topics. We had a great time.

Tomorrow I think we are going to head out to the closest Wal-Mart and pick up some supplies on our last day of freedom. I'm glad we came early enough to get all of the logistical issues out of the way before school starts. I'm hoping that by this time Thursday I'll be a registered HBS student with a schedule and everything. We'll see...

Sunday, August 15, 2004

Seeing friends 
Right now Jie and I are pretty much just passing the time until orientation on Thursday and then classes and job the following Monday. On Friday we had lunch with Power Yogi, and then on Saturday a friend from Houston, Brian, came in town to visit.

This morning before Brian left we went to see the Stata Center on the MIT campus, which is a really cool looking building. I'm not sure I've ever seen anything quite like it, except maybe in a cartoon or nightmare.

Tomorrow we're having lunch with my first roommate out of college. Adam and I were roommates for 6 monthes before he was transferred to Virginia. A few weeks ago I decided to e-mail his old address, on the off chance he still checked it. I was surprised to find that not only did he get the e-mail, but he's now living in Boston just 2-3 miles from me. A strange coincidence.

Speaking of strange coincidences, I don't think I've mentioned that Jie and I share a balcony here at SFP with a guy that I lived down the street from way back in San Antonio in the late '80's. It's a very small world.

Tomorrow evening we're going to have beers with Power Yogi and 3app, so that should be fun as well. I'm glad I'm getting a chance see all these people before school starts, cause I have a feeling I won't have so much free time after Thursday.

Thursday, August 12, 2004

Service without a smile, and a network 
Water had been condensing on the top of the inside of our fridge and dripping down all over our stuff, so we called the office on Tuesday morning. The maintenance guy didn't make it out until late in the day, so he said he would come back Wednesday to work on it. He came back by yesterday right before we left to run some errands, and I was a little worried because he wasn't friendly at all, so I wasn't sure he was going to do anything for us. We came back after 3-4 hours and to our extreme surprise we found a brand new refrigerator waiting for us. On top of that, everything in the new fridge was arranged in the same spot we had it in the old fridge! I don't know what's more surprising, that they moved a new fridge up four flights of stairs just like that, or that this gruff maintenance guy took the time to make everything just like it was. In any event, I was impressed.

I could never get our computers to transfer files between them and share a printer back in Houston, but for some reason it's working now. So, that more or less eliminates the need for the print server that I sent back to Amazon today anyway. As long as one of us is hooked up to the printer then the other one can print.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

I give up! 
Ok, today I received the Brother HL-1435 printer I ordered a few days ago along with a Netgear PS121 print server. Since it arrived 4 hours or so ago, I have been struggling to get everything working. Here's where I stand and what I've done, in case anyone can help:
1. I followed all the Netgear instructions, including installing their software for the server and then installing the printer. Couldn't get the printer to print.
2. I then used the Brother setup disk to install the printer in USB mode and connected it straight to my PC. That worked.
3. Emboldened by this, I reconnected the printer to the server and used the Brother CD to install the "server" version of the install files. Couldn't print via the server.
4. I pinged the print server, got no response. Just to make sure I pinged the router and Jie's laptop and both of those responded. So, for some reason I can't ping the print server. Can't do it from Jie's laptop either.
5. I finally uninstalled the Netgear and Brother software and started from scratch using the XP utilities, installing the printer as an LPR port. When I specify the IP address (from the DHCP clients table in the Linksys router), and the server name it tells me it can't find the device. If I continue with the installation anyway it won't print.
6. If I press the dignostics button on the back of the print server it does print a test page on the printer like it's supposed to do, but instead of actually printing anything it just cycles through a blank page. I don't know if that's good or bad.

So, I seem to have communication problems between my PC and the server (since I can't ping it), but I have communication (or perhaps miscommunication) between the server and the printer. Any suggestions?

I'm going to give up for the night and try again when I'm fresh.

Update:Nevermind, I searched the Netgear website and found that GDI printers are not compatible with their print server (and my new printer is GDI). That doesn't explain why I can't ping the server, which is still suspicious, but it means that I am unlikely to get the printer to work even if I get the server talking.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

Interview and Grafton St. 
Back in early July I received an e-mail inviting me to participate in a research study at HBS. The purpose of the study is to learn what aspects of HBS promote the development of leadership and how the program develops the students. It isn't intended to provide feedback to the administration, it's actually for a faculty member's research into leadership.

Anyway, I volunteered for it (in part because they are going to pay me...), and today I had my initial interview. The interviewer just asked me to describe myself and my background so that they could have a basis for evaluating how I change and develop. It was fun, I always enjoy talking about myself for an hour or so... ;)

Tonight we went to Grafton Street with our neighbors from across the hall. A whole bunch of HBS students going through Analytics were there. I met a lot of people, and once again it struck me that everyone at HBS is so down to earth and nice. One person and I even discussed about how we weren't big on HBS when applying because we thought students weren't friendly here, but that stereotype couldn't be further from the truth.

I also talked to Melanie on IM today. She wanted me to mention her. Hi Melanie!

Monday, August 09, 2004

Moving In 
After we got everything from the moving van to the apartment we started the long process of unpacking and moving in. Back when we thought we had movers we asked my mom to come up to Boston ahead of the movers so that she could let them in the apartment in case Jie and I had car trouble or something like that. She still came even though we drove the truck, and I'm glad she did because with three of us here I think we unpacked in record time, and actually had fun in the process.

We had a great weekend, including shopping for apartment stuff and groceries, and we went to see The Bourne Supremacy. I wasn't real impressed with the movie, but it was decent enough. After we dropped mom at the airport today Jie and I went back to return some stuff at Target and we decided to go ahead and buy a desk at Office Max. I'm glad we waited, cause the same desk I wanted Saturday was now on sale for 25% off.

We now have 10 days to hang out around Boston, meet the other people who are moving in, and just get ready to start work and school. Tomorrow Jie is going to sign her paperwork for work and I have a meeting at school for some sort of leadership study I was randomly invited to participate in. I'll give more details after the meeting tomorrow.

Sunday, August 08, 2004

The roadtrip 
Well, here's the overview of the roadtrip:

We left Houston on I-10 at around 9am on Wednesday with about a half tank of gas. I drove past Beaumont and then we stopped for gas and Jie took over. Somewhere past Lafayette people started pulling up next to us and motioning for us to pull over. The first guy was kind of sketchy, and I thought it might be some sort of scam, but after the second car we figured there must be a problem. We realized we had a flat on the trailer when Jie closely checked the mirror and could see rubber flapping around on the trailer. We pulled over in Duson, LA, and called Budget. They sent out a Goodyear tire repair guy, Curtis, and he had us back on the road about an hour after we got the flat.

Jie drove all the way past Slidell, LA, and onto US-59, where we refilled and switched drivers again. After I drove an hour or so we started to get weird engine warning lights, which we couldn't interpret because Budget doesn't put the manuals in the trucks. The lights would come on and then go off again, so at first we didn't worry about it. After a while, though, a third light starting coming on, and when that happened I would lose acceleration. We pulled over somewhere outside of Meridian, Mississippi, and called Budget again. They informed us that the problem was likely a coolant issue, and so we filled up the coolant reservoir and had no further problems for the rest of the trip.

We decided to try and make it to Tuscaloosa that night and then find a hotel room there. With the coolant delay, it was dark well before we made it to Tuscaloosa. Once there, we checked three or four hotels and motels, but they were all full. At a La Quinta we were pulling the truck through the parking lot (a 24 footer plus trailer), and we came to a corner that we couldn't pass. Someone had parked their car on the curb, and because of that we couldn't get through. I thought I was going to have a mental breakdown. We'd been on the road for 13 hours at that point and all I wanted was to get some sleep. Luckily, our truck was so loud that the owner of the car looked out the window and saw our predicament. He came out and moved his car and we were on our way. We were about to head to Birmingham, thinking we would have better luck there, when we saw a Quality Inn. It had a wide open parking lot and rooms available, so we slept there. It was not well kept, unfortunately, and I don't think we will be staying in any more Quality Inn's in the future.

After about 6 hours of fitful sleep, we got up and prepared for day two. Jie drove the first leg, which took us from Tuscaloosa until just past Chattanooga. We ran into some light rain and heavy construction here, and it had been about 3.5 hours, so we switched drivers. I then drove through the only heavy rain of the trip, and got us into Virginia before Jie took over again. While Jie drove I searched for accommodations for that night, determined not to repeat the previous night's problems. I located a Holiday Inn Express with truck parking in Falls View, West Virginia, and made reservations. I took over driving after Roanoke, I believe, for what should have been a 2 hour drive or so to the hotel. Unfortunately, there was a lot of traffic on US-81, and it turned into a 3+ hour leg. We got into the hotel after 10pm central (which made it a 14 hour driving day), and promptly crashed, this time in the crisp, clean sheets of a brand new hotel.

Day 3 was much like the previous day. We got on the road early and had no truck trouble all day. We avoided the major cities by taking 81 to 84. We did hit a lot of traffic in Connecticut, though likely far less than we would have had in DC, Baltimore, NYC, Philly, etc. Less tolls, too. We got on the Mass Turnpike and rode it all the way in to Cambridge. We arrived around 5pm EST, and had the truck unloaded by 8pm. Not too bad.

The next morning we got up at 8 and went to try and return the truck. I knew basically how to get to the rental place, but the address wouldn't come up in MS Streets and Trips so I knew I would have to guess a little. At first I got us lost in East Boston, but we stopped at a diesel station (to save the $25 refueling charge), and the guy there gave us perfect directions, once again reinforcing the observation that Boston people are really very friendly. We returned the truck in one piece and I could finally relax...

Anyway, I have a few takeaways for anyone planning a similar roadtrip in the future:

So, that's how it went. It was worse than I thought it would be but not so bad that I wouldn't drive cross-country again. Next time I want to drive something a little shorter than 24 feet, though...

Saturday, August 07, 2004

Go to smugmug and check under featured galleries for pics from the road. Be sure and see the flat tire shots. No password required...

I know that you're all waiting anxiously... 
to find out how the trip went... ;) Anyway, everything went smoothly. I will write and post extensive pictures later this weekend, but I'll just tell you that we are now 50% unpacked or so and we returned the truck without hitting any other vehicles, and only a few curbs, after driving it about 2000 miles. I'll write more later!

Tuesday, August 03, 2004

Ready to roll... 
Truck is loaded. Celebratory pool party is about to commence. Good grief it's hot here.

Disaster, then possible redemption 
Disaster struck this morning when the truck arrived and there was absolutely not enough room for our things. There were perhaps 3 feet available, although they claimed they could get up to 6-7 feet for us by reorganizing. I wasn't convinced.

After much wrangling, arguing, finger pointing, etc., we thought we were going to be stuck with a move this Friday using our back-up plan with Penske. The movers seem to be coming through in the end, though, by arranging for a discounted truck out of Austin and driving it half-way to Houston so we can get it. So, Jie and I are now driving a 24 foot truck with attached car carrier starting tomorrow morning, assuming all goes well.

I'm still waiting on the mover to call from Austin with the truck, so there are still no guarentees.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Moving Misery 
Is it possible to move from one city to another and actually feel good about the process?

We were told this morning by our movers that the other couple we are moving with had more stuff than expected and took up more room in the truck. There should be room for all our things, but no guarantees. If not, they will ship some of our boxes via a freight company. When asked which freight company the movers weren't sure, they asked us if we knew of any in Houston. Hmmm... They called back later to say the are all set with a freight company now, but they're still hopeing everything will fit in their truck. Ugh...

We got some car work done on Jie's car to get ready for the move. A timing belt replacement, some brake work, etc. Turns out we had some additional needs and the final price tag was close to $2000. To add insult to injury, the brakes are still vibrating.

The plan is still to depart Wednesday morning and attempt to make it in two days. I've got my fingers crossed...

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