Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Summer Plans 
It occured to me just now that I failed to write about my confirmed summer plans now that I have finally contacted everyone I needed to. I will be in Houston for the summer, working for a financial services firm. I actually started laying the groundwork to getting a job with this firm back in November of 2003, when I chose a person from the firm for my interview for the McCombs School at UT. It turned out my interviewer was the head of the department I wanted to work for, and so I contacted them early in the recruiting process, went through the process, and it eventually led to an offer. It seems that preparation can actually lead to great results, who knew???

On another note, Director Mitch was nice enough to assist me with one of my cases that directly relates to his industry. You can find his comments here. He made many of the same points as the professor, and I think it's an interesting read.

Congratulations to all the Round 2 Admits!!! It's a great time, when you finally get your admissions decisions and you can relax! If any of the R2 HBS admits has any questions for me, feel free to leave a comment or send an e-mail.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Brilliant Idea of the Day 
Every once in a while I come up with something that I think would be really cool. Here's what just appeared in my head:

Napster, iTunes, Rhapsody, etc. should come up with a Java script that people can insert on their blogs that automatically displays recently downloaded music. That way people can easily and automatically share what they are listening to. At the same time, it would provide free advertising for those services. Ok programmers, make it happen!

By the way, I'll be satisfied with a mere .05% royalty on gross revenues.

Monday, March 28, 2005

Open Letter to Dean Clark 
This letter was in the Harbus today. I really enjoyed reading it, as I completely agree with just about everything said by the author. I thought this was particularly good (and true): To claim that a relatively minor ethical misstep disqualifies someone from a Harvard education is to indict me, along with most people I know here.

This thing has been completely beaten to death, so I'll not go any further, but I thought I would post this for those who are interested.

Sunday, March 27, 2005

Beach Bums 
Here's how a typical day unfolded for Jie and me on Vieques:
9:30 - Get up and go eat breakfast
10:00 - Apply copious amounts on sunscreen and head to a beach
11:00 - Arrive at beach, set up, Mark begins sipping drinks while Jie sunbathes
2:00 - Move to the second beach of the day
4:30 - Head back to the hotel for a dip in the pool and a shower
6:00 - Head out somewhere to watch the sunset over drinks
7:00 - Dinner time
9:00 - Back to the hotel to read before crashing around 10 or so

We spent about half our time sleeping, another quarter on the beach, and another third eating or waiting to eat. In case you were wondering, that is the way to run a relaxing vacation.

I'm hoping to post a full review sometime very soon, but there's no telling when that will be, as I have a pretty full schedule for the next...hmm...month or so. Nothing big, mind you, but a long series of isolated tasks (taxes, finaid, modeling seminar, career teams, etc.).

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Next Stop, Vieques 
The campus has been a ghost town the last few days. I played squash yesterday morning and I don't think any of the other courts were in use the entire time we played. EC students (2nd years) had their spring break last week, while ours is this week, so there was no one around Saturday and this morning.

Jie and I have been enjoying our vacation thus far, we've run last minute errands for our trip and generally vegged out. We watched Ray on Friday night, which I thought was good but could have used some more aggresive editing. Last night we went to the Symphony, courtesy of some fellow Texans at HBS. It was a fun time, and I'm glad we went, but I once again proved to myself that I really don't care for live music. I love music, and for example am really enjoying Napster to Go, but it's more of a background thing for me and not the main event. Having said that, I had never been to the symphony before, and I'm glad we went.

We also had sushi last night at a place called Ma Soba in Beacon Hill. It was pretty damn good fish, and they had some original rolls as well. I still miss the Oysters on the Halfshell at Miyako in Houston, but Ma Soba is pretty good.

Alright, this is it until this time next Sunday. We're flying out to San Juan in the morning, then taking an hour cab to Fajardo to catch the ferry to Vieques. Hopefully we'll catch the 2pm ferry, but if not we'll have to wait until 4:30. The ferry is around 90 minutes, and then we have to take another cab to our B&B. We'll have a Suzuki Sidekick for the week while we're there, with plenty of beaches to explore. See you Sunday!

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Lost update 
I wrote an update a few days ago but then blogger crashed and it was lost. Ah well, such is life.

Tonight Jie and I are going to the symphony to celebrate the fact that the summer internship decision is made. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to reach the firm I didn't select, so I don't want to say anything here until I've done that. You never know who's reading.

In an effort to save money Jie and I are taking some liquor with us on our trip to Puerto Rico. I figure drinks on Vieques will be pricey, and so I picked up a bottle of Famous Grouse Gold Reserve today. Famous Grouse is my favorite blended scotch whiskey, and I figured for a special occasion like a trip to PR I might as well spring for the 12 year old Gold Reserve.

We leave for PR on Monday at 7am, and we can't wait. While the weather in Boston was great today (Sunny, low 40's), the weather in PR was better (Sunny, low 80's). I'm well over halfway through The Confusion, and I picked up a copy of The System of the World from the library today, so I'll have plenty of reading to do while laying on the beach sipping Grouse.

I'll probably provide one last update tomorrow, and then it'll be total blackout until next Sunday when we return.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Deja Vu 
As of yesterday I'm in a very similar spot to where I was a year ago. I've got two great options for the summer, along with another option that while good, is not on the same level. If this is not very clear, I apologize, but I'm being purposefully vague.

This is the third time since college that I've been faced with three options in life, and the first two times things worked out pretty well. I had three job offers out of undergrad (two were very difficult to choose between, the third I eliminated reasonably quickly), and three options for b-school (same pattern). Now I have the same issue for summer employment, and I do believe it's going to drive me crazy.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Why I Blog 
I've been thinking lately about how this blog has evolved since its inception. There were several reasons why I decided to start the site, the first being that it was an effort to write a little more, something I really enjoy and had not done since high school (the unfortunate side-effect of lots of AP classes and an engineering major). I also wanted to provide a way for our family and friends to keep up with our lives while we spent two years all the way up in yankee-land. The final big reason to do it was to give a little back and hopefully aid future applicants in their own struggle to find out more about schools and get accepted.

I'd like to think that my writing has improved, at least marginally, by staying in practice a little bit more. A few family members and friends do indeed use the blog to keep up with us, though many more are bizarrely focused on their own lives and don't spend time reading about mine... ;) I think I've also helped a few people along the way, so all in all I would say mission accomplished.

The point of all this, if there is one, is that I have thought several times about discontinuing the blogging business but haven't. It's always weird to know that strangers and unknown classmates are reading my thoughts, and for this reason it just seems easier and less of a hassle to not share my thoughts with who know's who. In the end, though, I've decided that I really enjoy blogging, and so I just keep doing it.

As a side note, it did occur to me that one benefit of shedding anonymity from the start is that you never can say the things that could really get you in trouble. If you start out as an anonymous blogger and then are outed at some point, you likely wrote things from behind your false veil of secrecy that go on to get you in trouble once your identity is known. With no perceived secrecy there is no inclination to say anything really risque, and thus less chance of a blow-up at some point. Of course, you are also adding less value in the meantime, but by blogging more and longer than those who get exposed and have to quit, perhaps I'll make up the difference in the end.

Spending Spree and Decision Time 
I've been on a spending binge over the last few weeks. After getting the Creative Zen Micro, which has been great, I saw the need for a networked external drive for Jie and I to jointly share the songs we get off of Napster-To-Go. Though the service is meant to work with multiple computers per account (you can have up to 3), the actual implementation is a little uneven. Essentially, if I put a playlist on the Zen from my PC, and then Jie puts her own on there from her PC later, my playlist will no longer show up. It's easy enough for me to drag all our existing playlists from my PC onto the Zen, since Napster shows them on both PC's regardless of where they were created, but then if I haven't downloaded all the songs from Jie's playlist onto my PC (nevermind that they are already on the Zen), Napster downloads them to me before checking the Zen to see that they are already there. With a networked hard drive this should no longer be an issue.

Anyway, so after getting the Zen I'm now getting a nifty 80GB hard drive that will work with my wireless router. Down the road, perhaps for my birthday, I want to get one of those Creative, Linksys, or Dlink Wireless Media Routers. The Dlink looks like the most bang for the buck, but apparently it doesn't play nicely with non-Dlink routers. On a more b-school related note, I'm also now thinking of shelling out $200 to participate in a 2-day Training the Street financial modeling seminar. Has anyone been through one of these? Was it worth the money?

Decision time for the job search is almost upon me. I sometimes suffer from a lack of decisiveness, particularly when making a decision will necessitate turning someone down or delivering bad news. Hopefully by tomorrow afternoon all the cards will be on the table and I'll be able to make a decision. I'll try not to spend too much time driving myself and Jie crazy. At least career services was nice enough to give us a helpful presentation in how to say no.

Friday, March 11, 2005

I scored a 172 in my first round of bowling tonight at Jillians! That's certainly in the range of my alltime high scores. Of course, I did follow it up with a 98, but whatever...

Skydecks Galore 
I was thrice mentioned during Skydecks this week, which represents a personal best. It was good end to a pretty good week, one that went by really quickly. Only one more week to go before Spring Break, I can't wait.

I've decided that Napster-To-Go and the new generation of iPod competitors (including and especially the Zen Micro) probably have a good shot at taking a reasonable amount of market share from iPod and iTunes. The $15 all-you-can-download price is very reasonable, and I love being able to jump from artist to artist and download my favorites. The only downside is the lack of availability for certain music, like Dave Matthews Band to name just one. None of their stuff is available under the $15/mo plan, so you would have to buy it. I know they are trying to get more and more music under the To-Go umbrella, so it will be interesting to see how this develops over time. It will also be interesting to watch how long it takes iTunes to unveil a similar approach.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The toys have arrived 
The nice things about ordering from J&R over the web is that you don't have to pay taxes, since it's in NY, the prices are really competitive, and even with the cheapest shipping it gets to Boston in just a day. As such, I've got a couple of new toys and I don't expect to be blogging a lot in the next few days.

My early impressions of the Creative Zen Micro and Napster-to-Go are definitely positive. The sound quality is as good or better than iPod, at least to my ears, and the interface works pretty well. I did have to do a firmware update, which was a slight pain, but not too bad. All in all, I would recommend both.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Good news! 
I finally got the good news regarding my interview last Thursday! I don't know the specifics of the job yet, but will hopefully hear that later in the week. Now I just have to sit down and think through my options and figure out what would be the best option for the summer. I still haven't heard back from my Chicago or Boston 2nd round interviews, and am still potentially interested in the Boston job, so things aren't over quite yet. It will be a tough choice between my offer in NYC and the one in Houston in terms of the quality of the opportunity and the potential to learn more about the industry and field. We'll see...

Today during the BGIE quiz there was a lot of commotion surrounding how long it would take me to finish. I wrapped it up in about 20 minutes, although I'm pretty sure I missed at least one question. Ah well, it's just 10%...

It looks like I will be one of the Career Team Captains for next year. I wrote a lot about Career Teams before, I believe, and I will probably be one of the two students who runs the program for next year's RC class. I'm looking forward to it, as it will give me the chance to spend more time with Tim Butler, our resident career guru and one of the guys behind CareerLeader.

Monday, March 07, 2005

We've got a mid-term exam in BGIE tomorrow, but it's only 10% of our grade so I haven't studied too much. Today was a busy day, since I had to get groceries and go to an interview for that leadership study I'm taking part in. I just finished up the last of the practice tests, which means I have likely overprepared.

No news yet from my interview on Thursday. I was hoping to hear today, but hopefully I'll get good news tomorrow.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

One of the problems of business school is what I call lifestyle creep. It's the slow and steady process of increasing your standard of living due to the observation of those around you. It's especially prevalent at business school, where everyone has massive loans with low interest rates to subsidize their spending on cars, trips, tv's, electronic goodies, etc. Of course, many people came here with sizable savings from working high paying jobs that kept them too busy to spend, so it's not all credit.

In any event, I now have my eye on a few toys. The more immediate purchase will likely be an MP3 player, which I think we'll get before our trip to PR. I'm somewhat anti-Apple (I don't like products that are specifically designed not to work with the rest of the world), so I've been looking at the new Creative Zen Micro. The FM radio and recording capabilities are one benefit over the iPod, and I'm also looking at the Napster To Go service since I've never been a real big collector of CD's. I'll gladly pay $15 a month for access to a giant music collection, since I'm too lazy to create my own. Any advice on my planned purchase?

This summer I plan on making the switch to HD. After watching a few NFL and College Football games on HD this year, I've decided I can't go back. In order to get the most bang for my buck, I'm looking at the Samsung DLP TV's. Hopefully the new 46" will come down in price a few hundred bucks in the next six months, but if not maybe we'll get the older 50" model instead.

ApplyYourself Snafu 
Like many others, I've been following the current admissions drama at HBS and several other schools who use the ApplyYourself admissions software. Though described by many media outlets as 'hacking,' what they actually did was take advantage of a poorly designed website that wasn't properly secured. This is the most accurate depiction of the event I could find, labeling it "a digital loophole discovered by a computer hacker."

My take on the situation? I never liked AppyYourself, though I thought it was at least as good as the software at Kellogg and Wharton. I'm still surprised that they could allow such a basic security loophole to exist. If I were admissions I would be very careful about how I document the use of the information, as this could certainly wind up in court.

I've had a great time the last few nights celebrating the fact that I have no more interviews. I still haven't heard back from any of my 2nd round interviews (except the one offer I have), but hopefully things will clear up in the next week. The firm in Chicago is really irritating me. They said they would get back to me within a week, but it's been two weeks and still no news. I called my contact yesterday morning and asked if he knew what was going on. He said no, but he would find out and call me back. I still haven't heard anything, though.

My theory is that they are still concerned that I don't want to be in Chicago and so have extended offers to people who definitely want to be there, and are leaving me hanging until they hear back from those people. If that's the case, I completely understand, but it would be nice if they would tell me that! It does no one any good to refuse to let me know what's going on.

That leads me to two pet peeves about the recruiting process:

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Eat Mor Chikin 
I'm back in Houston for the weekend. We stopped on the way back from the airport and picked up Chick-fil-a, one of my favorite fast foods, and something I can't get in Boston. Tomorrow morning I have an interview, and then after that it's just a relaxing weekend with family and friends.

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

13 down, 1 to go 
I finished my 13th interview today. I think things went pretty well, but they are interviewing the HBS people early, so I likely won't hear back for almost two weeks. I'm not real happy about that, but such is life. I've got one more on Thursday in Houston and then I'm all set.

Still no word from Chicago. It's really frustrating, because I really liked the firm when I interviewed, but now I'm getting irritated. Hopefully I'll hear something soon.

Tonight has been a relaxed night. After my interview I waited in the Park St. subway stop for 20 minutes for a train and then picked up calzones and beer for dinner. Now I'm packing for the weekend, as I'm leaving straight after class tomorrow for Houston. It's going to be nice to spend a weekend back in Texas, I can't wait. Oh yeah, the best part is that Jie logged in to continental.com and secured me the ultimate seat for the flight tomorrow. There's nothing like being able to completely stretch out to make three hours fly by (pun intended).

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