Saturday, April 29, 2006

2 down, 2 to go 
My afternoon final yesterday wasn't bad at all, it turns out. Although I did write almost 2400 words, it only took 2.5 hours so it was ok. Today Jie and I have spent most of the day packing and getting ready for our drive tomorrow. In a way it's actually a good thing that we had to buy a new car, as I don't think there is any way we would have fit everything in the Honda.

Today was the NFL Draft, which is probably my favorite day of the year after the Super Bowl and before the start of the college football season, except perhaps for my birthday. I was a little surprised by the Texans decision to pass up on Reggie Bush, but it does make some sense. Kudos to Tennessee for seeing the potential in VY and drafting him at #3, though it does pain me to see Bud Adams take a homegrown Houston talent. Ah well, I guess I should be following the Bears now anyway...

Friday, April 28, 2006

One down... 
Oh man, I wasn't ready for that final at all. I'm not sure what I could have done to be prepared without spending many hours reworking models from the beginning of the course. Given the incentives I outlined below, that wasn't going to happen. Ok, time to regroup for the afternoon.

A few pre-finals thoughts 
  1. Google Calendar is really, really cool. A few features deserve mention: You can share calendars with another person (like a spouse) and their appointments show up in one color while yours show up in another. This makes it really easy to see what you have going on, particularly if you're married with two separate calendars but one social life. It also has a quick add function where you can just type in appointments. So, I can type something like 'Dinner with Melanie at Sushi Sake in Austin at 7pm on 6/21" and it will automatically generate an entry at 7pm on 6/21 titled Dinner with Melanie and with Sushi Sake in Austin as the location. On the entry there is a map link to Google Maps which pulls up the exact Sushi Sake location. Very cool.
  2. Everyone is getting pregnant here. Some very good friends of ours announced last night that they are pregnant, and they are merely joining a long list of couples we know who are preparing for a(nother) child. (Note to parents: Don't read anything into this!)
  3. I start the first of my four finals in about 2 minutes. This afternoon I have the most difficult of them, a 2500 word word-limit marathon that touches on just about every case of the entire course. The "1-2-3" grading method creates strange incentives for me, as I only have a long shot at 2nd year honors, no shot at Baker Scholar, and no shot at MBA w/ Distinction (1st & 2nd year honors but not Baker). Since I have about a 90% of getting a 2 in my classes it leads to things like inadequate preparation for my finals, taking two in one day when I could spread them out, and so forth. With all that said, wish me luck!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Dean Light = More strenuous academics 
The announcement today that Jay Light will go from Acting Dean to the real thing was probably not a real surprise to people who have followed the situation closely, though I was caught a little off-guard. I guess with the situation with Summers at Harvard they wanted to get someone in here before Summers left so there wouldn't be the uncertainty and instability of two Dean searches at the same time.

Regardless, it is probably important to know that the official appointment of Dean Light is definitely a signal that HBS will be returning to it's academically rigorous roots in the coming years. The creation of Learning Teams and the return of grade disclosure already heralded more rigor in the program and this is just confirmation of the trend. According to classmates who had Dean Light as a professor last year, he was a big fan of the cold call and didn't tolerate students who were unprepared. I think that's great, as nothing kills class discussion faster than a low level of discipline and thus lack of preparation. However, as I outlined in my position on grade disclosure, this institution needs to make sure that the benefits of the HBS experience outside the classroom aren't diminished more than the experience inside the classroom is enhanced. It will be interesting to see how the administration accomplishes its goals without a return to the supposed cutthroat days of HBS.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

An abysmal repeat 
Alas, the chili cook-off ended once again in a drunken defeat for the team of Section G. This time I think we were even more robbed than last time, but it's cool, I've learned to accept it. Just 10 classes and four finals left and then I'm completely done.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

You can't spell revenge without G 
Among other things, my apartment currently contains just over 25 pounds of beef, 8 pounds of roma tomatoes, paired bottles of champagne and orange juice, a 30-pack of Coors Light, several gallons of beef broth, chicken broth, and tomato sauce, and miscellaneous other chili-making ingredients.

It’s a good day for revenge.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Hand off successful 
We just finished handing off stewardship of the Career Teams program to the next generation of captains. Career Teams has been one of the most important parts of the HBS experience for me, and I can honestly say that I think I got more out of the program, both as a participant and a leader, than any other aspect of my HBS experience. I have a final dinner with my own career team this Sunday and then after that it's all memories.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

You are looking at... 
...the proud new owners of a 2006 Toyota RAV4!!! We went down to test drive one at 5:30 this afternoon and by 9:30 we'd settled on a price, traded-in our car, and were heading to Anna's Taqueria to finally get dinner. Woo hoo!

Sunday, April 09, 2006

21 days and counting 
I had this grand plan to post something every day in April, our last month in Boston, but sadly I have completely failed to do so.  Not without a very good reason, though, as my roommate from college Kelsey and his then-girlfriend now-fiancée Sandy were in town.  Kelsey and I lived together my junior year at Texas and he was instrumental in several important days of my life, including the day I met Jie, our wedding, and the sailing trip where I set my personal best for beers consumed in a 24-hour period (28).  With that history it should be no surprise that I was too busy over the last few days to write anything.

I’ve got a lot that I would like to accomplish between now and April 30th, the day we drive out of here for the last time (we’re flying in and out for graduation).  The handover of the Career Teams program to next year’s Captains will happen within the next few weeks, as will my last meeting with my Career Team, the conclusion of my field study, and a great number of irritating tasks that you have to do when you move from one city to another.  It looks to be a busy three weeks.

In Professional Services we found out on Thursday that our professor did not make tenure and thus is concluding his teaching career at HBS.  The school has a pretty strict up-or-out policy and so professors denied tenure are out within a year.  It’s too bad, because Professor Nanda works hard than just about anyone to prepare for class, teach cases that fit a specific purpose, and engage students in the classroom.  Though over-theatrical at times, he’s one of my favorites here and it’s a shame future classes won’t get to experience him.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

I've been transformed! 
Jie and I have finally more or less finalized our summer plans.  We decided to eschew the Europe trip and instead will use that money towards nice furniture and other furnishings for our new place in Chicago.  So, it looks like we’ll be driving down to Texas during finals (I have several days between my only in-class final and my first at-home final) and then enjoying the lake for most of May.  Then we’ll be in NYC in early June for a post-wedding party for a classmate and Boston for graduation.  After that the movers come and pack us up here to store our stuff until we move in sometime around August.  We’ll be going to Chicago to look for a place to live and then back to Texas for the duration of the summer.
The typical summer vacation for b-school grads involves travel through many countries, so we’re going against the grain on this one.  The general consensus is that in 10 years the $7-10k that a 3-4 week vacation would cost us will be long forgotten while the memories of Europe will be invaluable.  I take issue with that reasoning for a couple of reasons.  I’ve always been adamant about taking all my vacation each year, so I don’t think this is my last opportunity to go to Europe (and as a consultant I may have miles and points to use in the future that I don’t have now).  Furthermore, I can’t imagine a more relaxing and invigorating way to spend my “last free summer” than lounging at the lake for nearly three months.

The clearest sign of my HBS “transformation” was my long chain of idle thoughts while walking through the knock-off market in Shanghai over Spring Break.  Rather than spend the time wondering what we would do the next day or how many more hours Jie would spend shopping, instead I found myself fascinated with the supply chain and industry structure around the market.  Take the supply of fake Louis Vuitton purses, for example.  It seems to me that these products are probably manufactured in small shops around China and then shipped to the major knock-off markets, probably by a few powerful distributors.  These distributors then turn around and extend financing on some undoubtedly draconian terms to the merchants that then sell to the public.  This raises all sorts of interesting questions about securing inventory, payment terms on purchases, margins at different points in the chain, and so on.  I guarantee that none of those thoughts crossed my mind when I was in the same market three years ago, pre-HBS.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

A very belated congratulations to all the R2 Admits! As I said this time last year, this is the beginning of a great time. You start winding down at work, making those travel plans, and enjoying the next two years. Congratulations!

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