Thursday, March 30, 2006

The beginning of the end 
I only have 34 classes left this semester.  That’s just amazing to me, I’m not sure where the last two years have gone.

China was a blast.  We flew into Beijing, spent 1.5 days in Xian, and then spent the rest of the time in Shanghai.  In Xian we used Hyatt points (thank you consulting firms!) to get a queen room, but we got lucky and were upgraded to a King Suite instead.  It was a really nice room and on the same level as the Regency Club, which is Hyatt’s little perk room where you can get free breakfast and cocktails.  We assumed we were upgraded to Regency Club since it was on our floor so we partook in a free breakfast before realizing that evening that we weren’t.  Ah well, the breakfast was nice for the first morning.

Shanghai was a whirlwind trip involving numerous lunches and dinners with Jie’s family.  The food was fantastic and it was great to reconnect with all the people that I last saw three years ago.  There were two new kids to play with this time, which is always a lot of fun for me.  Aside from eating, I got to ride my first Chinese train this trip, which was an interesting experience.  We also went to pay respects at the grave’s of Jie’s three deceased grandparents, which was a personally and culturally significant experience.  My China galleries are available on smugmug, just follow the smugmug link to the left and look for the featured galleries.  They’re also listed under Travel.

Now that I’m back for the final run in school Jie and I have turned our attention to summer plans and the number and timing of trips to Chicago to look for a place.  I suppose I’ve also got to figure out what to do with this blog.  I think I’ll keep blogging in one form or another, but I have a feeling that the best thing for this blog is to end at graduation and live on to provide a somewhat encapsulated recording of the HBS experience.  Any other thoughts?

Oh yeah, special thanks to Ben who loaned me a copy of The Face of Battle by John Keegan.  The book was great and I recommend it to anyone looking to read a little history.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Of visitors and trips 
This last weekend we had some very good friends in town from Austin, our first non-family visitors this year.  We had really warm and fairly nice weather so we did quite a bit of touristing, including the Freedom Trail in its entirety and dinner on Newbury Street.  Jie and I are aficionados of a “cult classic” board game called The Settlers of Catan, and I’m pleased to report that I won 5 out of 8 games.  That’s unusual for me, as I generally drink myself out of contention on board game nights.

Summer travel plans are way up in the air for us right now.  We’re planning on buying in Chicago and so it’s hard to rationalize spending $5-7k on a vacation right as we’re about to put $40k+ down on a condo, part of which we’ll be borrowing from somewhere.  And that’s just to hit 10% for an 80-10-10 loan.  It feels a little irresponsible to pay for a big trip, especially when we have a sweet lake vacation spot in Texas, with the home purchase looming.  On the other hand, when are we going to have three months off at the same time again?

We leave tomorrow for Spring Break in China.  We got our RT airline tickets to Beijing for just 30k miles each, and our hotel in Xian is paid for with Hyatt points, so it will be a pretty inexpensive trip.  It should be a lot of fun, too, as we’ve never been to Xian and we’ll get to feast with Jie’s family in Shanghai for almost a week.   I’ll put pictures up when we get back in a few weeks!

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Grading at HBS 
One of the things that bothers me about grade disclosure at HBS is the arbitrary nature of grading at the school.  Most classes base 50% of your grade on your final exam or paper and 50% on class participation.  The final semester grade is in the familiar 1/2/3 format, with ~20% receiving 1’s, ~70% 2’s, and ~10% 3’s.  Final exam grades are shown on your grade report as well, though for those they use I/II/III/IV to denote the quartile ranking of your exam grade within the section.  For classes with papers you only get a final semester grade, they don’t tell you what you got on your paper.

Now, this is all well and good, except that it has come out in conversations with fellow students that grades sometimes don’t add up.  Here are a couple of examples from trusted sources:

Anyway, I have more stories but I don’t have approval from those people to share them so I’m not going to.  I no longer think grade disclosure is going to be the cultural disaster that I once made it out to be, but I still think it causes unnecessary stress in the first year and is troublesome due in part to the arbitrariness of the grading system at HBS.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Admit Weekend 
It was really nice to see all the (hopefully) future Class of 2008 students around campus today for Admit Weekend. Jie and I are not as involved this year as we were last, though we did attend the Partner’s Club event last night at Tommy Doyle’s and we each participated in Career Panels today. I had a lot of fun meeting people last night and managed to get free drinks off the Texas Club, Canadian Club, and Partner’s Club. Hopefully I didn’t say anything exceedingly stupid to any of the admits like I did last year, though for the record that guy still came to HBS so I think it turned out ok.

I finally got around to putting up my pictures from DC last weekend, so if you want to see some choice shots from around the Capital City you can check them out. I’ll be the first to admit that my photography hasn’t been very inspired lately, but the views from the top of the Washington Monument are pretty cool, as is the “Freedom is not Free” wall at the Korean War Memorial

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