Thursday, December 31, 2009

A virtual oracle for the children

In an effort to do a volunteer activity unrelated to SOM, I applied for and was happy to be accepted to be a tutor for They help K-8 students in math, language arts and science. I'll be "on call" a few hours a week. The technology is pretty cool; the tutors and students communicate live, interactively, using electronic drawing pads and microphones (but not video, as is depicted in the commercial above). I think I'll really enjoy this, and, as I said, it's nice to do a little something outside of SOM.

Another goal this semester: Tennis. I haven't played since I got to New Haven, but now have a roommate who plays, and I just got some new tennis shoes. So my excuses have run out. Time to hit the courts. While I'm exercising and helping others in the new year, I might as well lose 10 pounds and meditate more.

Today is New Year's Eve, and Carla, one of my oldest friends whom I met at summer camp in 1992, arrived here in Sanibel yesterday. She handles my parents better than just about anyone I know, so they love her (who couldn't, though?). Today we're heading up to Sarasota, where she lives, and then to Tampa, where I'll meet up with my friend Sarah from back in Corpus. At my advanced age, I will be delighted just to make it to midnight awake.

I was thinking today that this is has really been a wonderful year. A year ago, I was putting the final touches on my SOM application, and now here I am, a semester in. Lots of changes have been undertaken, not the least of which was a 1,600-mile move, a breakup, the opposite of a breakup, and a 100% drop in income. I am gripping eagerly to the reins as we head into '10.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Wrap me in nostalgia

Eighth-grade John.Here's me in 8th grade (truth be told, it's just a picture). What I wouldn't give to still have that shirt, and that head of hair. Sometimes when I'm at my parents' house, I like to read old elementary report cards. They remind me of how intrinsic a lot of our characteristics are. To paraphrase, John is creative and has a wit beyond his years, but is overanxious and has unreasonably high expectations of himself and others. And he's awful at woodworking. All very much still true, except the part about the wit.

All is slow and easy here in Florida. My parents are retired and somewhat elder-acting beyond their years, particularly my dad. He's 72, but he retired when he was 59, so he sort of acts like he's 80-something. But it's always a nice time ... lots of gin rummy, bran cereal, crossword puzzles, dips in the pool, bloody Marys, Sherlock Holmes marathons and the wit of Rush Limbaugh. All very much appreciated, except the part about the wit.

In other news, I have scored some new classy-ass threads that will prove useful when I return to Connecticut, as I've been invited to two marketing interviews (the two for which I applied): Mars and Unilever. I also have my courses lined up. We continue with our required first-year "Organizational Perspectives," the classes named for the viewpoints taken in the class. Next quarter, that means "Employee" and "The Operations Engine," as well as Global Macroeconomics. The two electives for which I signed up are Statistical Modeling and Financial Reporting, the latter a prerequisite for Financial Statement Analysis in the second half of the spring.

I have some friends in the area I'm going to try to get together with, and am especially looking for something interesting to do on New Year's Eve. It's so odd to me that there's been so little fanfare about this being a new decade. My dad is quick to argue that 2010 is not a new decade, but is the 10th year that marks the end of a decade that began Jan. 1, 2001. I'm then quick to argue that a "decade" can comprise any 10-year period, so even Feb. 14, 1956, to Feb. 13, 1966, is a decade, technically. He is then quick to say that a "new decade" implicitly refers to the nth decade of a new century; in this case, the first decade of the 21st century, which will end Dec. 31, 2010. I am then quick to say that nobody cares about that, since everyone but he refers to decades by the number in the tens column ('50s, '60s, '70s, etc.), not their ordinal relationship within the context of a particular century. Anyway, you can look forward to having conversations like this when your parents retire, or when you retire.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mele Kalikimaka

My view from Sanibel. Hello. I'm in Sanibel, Fla., visiting my parents for the holidays. Check out this rad photo I took from the beach this evening. It's beautiful and in the 70s 'round here.

Yesterday we toured the historic winter estates of Henry Ford and Thomas Edison. Today I bought suits and shoes and shirts and things. It's always nice to be in Florida for the holidays.

Still having academic stress dreams, despite being in a sort of paradise ... Any advice for how to get rid of them?

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Fluffy snow

Matt and Mark, shoveling snow It happened one night. Specifically, last night. Mike, Matt, Matt's brother Mark and a couple of Matt's friends and I went downtown for what was supposed to be a magical display of horse-drawn carriages and live models posing in windows, but was instead nothing. So we ate at BAR and then had a cocktail at the Owl Shop. While we were inside, the anticipated snow began to fall.

Fortunately, our status as students enables us to use the complimentary shuttle service. Unfortunately, our driver took us to the wrong address, for a humorous exchange. He opened the door -- in the snowstorm, at night -- and said nothing. We looked at each other curiously, since we were the only people on the bus, and asked the driver, "Excuse me, are we picking someone up?" He said, "No, this is _______." We said, "OK, but we're going to _________." Then the awkwardness -- he just sat there with the door open and didn't say anything. Thirty seconds went by, until I finally said, "I'm sorry for the confusion, but we're not getting off this bus at night in the middle of a snowstorm a mile from our house. Please take us to ________." Exacerbated, he did so.

This morning, we awoke to a wonderland of joy. Pictured above are Matt and Mark trying to shovel snow out of the way so that Mark may return to his home and family.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Five things you do when you don't have homework

I tried to make cookies and did not succeed on the first go-aroundYesterday was my first day rejoining the living. I felt adrift at sea, unable to recall what I once did with myself when I did not have academic concepts with which to wrestle. What is there to do?

I found five things:

1. Wake up thinking about finance, as I did before. This was short-lived; soon, I hushed myself and calmed my mind with motherly assurances that Everything will be OK ... Sssshhh ... It'll be all right now ... It'll be all right now ...

2. Vacuum in more than a cursory manner. With a little elbow grease, I got the carpet looking as good as new, which wasn't that good really, but it's the best I can do.

3. Do laundry, and consider ways to gruesomely murder the person who took my clothes out of the washers and put them in a wrinkly pile on the table.

Brian, Adam and Haris4. Bake oatmeal raisin cookies. Batch one, pictured above, was a disaster, because I misread the recipe and put in only 1/3 of the required flour. Batch two turned out spendidly.

5. Attend a holiday party, pictured at left. Lovely company and lovely drinks -- hot mulled cider and vodka stingers (vodka + creme de menthe).

In unrelated news, after we had our first significant snow, a little over a week ago, I realized I was unprepared for the winter and ordered some boots and one of those ice brush scraper things for the car. They have arrived, and not a moment too soon -- meteorologists are predicting a 100 percent chance of snow, with accumulation of 10 to 15 inches total. Sounds like an absolute delight, although it better not keep me from going to Florida on Monday, or I will freak.

Thursday, December 17, 2009


Exams are over! The semester is over!! I'm free!!!

To do what, I'm not sure. Right now I'm having a gin and tonic. In a few days, I'll go to Florida, and I'll be hanging there for three weeks.

It's a great feeling of accomplishment to know that I made it through what is supposedly the hardest of the four semesters in the MBA program. It's also a little sad, too, because even though I may complain from time to time, I really am loving this whole experience, and I know it will be over before I know it.

The final final, Sourcing & Managing Funds, was (a) the one for which I was least-prepared, (b) the class whose material most confused me, but was (c) the exam I finished in the shortest amount of time and (d) the exam that I think, objectively, was the easiest. I suppose that, somehow, knowledge did manage to trickle into my brain.

Next semester, when I get back from break, we have three more required first-year courses in the "Organizational Perspectives" -- Employee, The Operations Engine, and The Global Macroeconomy. In addition to those, I'm taking two electives: Financial Reporting, and Statistical Modeling. I may drop one, because we really only need to take one elective; I just thought both would be useful.

Anyway, enough of that. Time to eat up having the night off ... maybe I'll hit the cinema.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Three down, one to go

Just returned from the Customer exam. Well, I had lunch, then returned.

This was an odd exam -- totally open-book, open-note, open-laptop (but no internet). Our other three exams were three hours apiece, but this was four, since it also involved reading a long case. This was the only course that didn't provide previous years' exams as study materials, so it was a little hard to know what to study.

The solution: "Prepare," instead of "study." We learned some quantitative methods, so I went over those. One was called "conjoint analysis," which is a way to measure which attributes of a product are most important to customers by asking surveys in a particular way and then doing regressions on the results. Another was calculating "customer lifetime value," which is the amount of money a customer is worth over his life with a company. And the third was calculating economic value, which is pretty intuitive ... it's pricing a product properly according to other comparable products, plus added benefits.

Beyond those ideas, the rest of the class was about frameworks and cases. All in all, nothing to sweat about. It was actually pretty fun, which is good news, since I may end up doing something marketing related this summer.

Tomorrow: Sourcing & Managing Funds, our last exam, and the one that will probably be the hardest. Followed by a champagne toast in the hallway (true!) and some sushi, and then probably more drinking.

Wait, it's the holidays?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Two down, two to go

I just returned from the Investor exam.

Exams are stressful, but one of the nice things is to walk out of an exam and acknowledge, regardless of how well or poorly you did, that you learned a lot in the class. I knew none of the material before the class, and now I know a lot of it, and that makes me especially grateful to be back in school, because when you're not in school (or at least when I'm not in school) I don't learn much of anything.

One thing I liked about this particular exam is that the professor clarified ahead of time that there were two types of questions: starred, and unstarred. The unstarred questions covered the basics of the class, things that basically everyone could have learned by listening and studying. No curveballs, tricks or new applications on those questions. Then the starred questions were more challenging, and they're on the exam so people vying for a Distinction can show off their deeper understanding or advanced preparation.

I went in thinking it was possible I might get some of the starred questions, and I might have, although the time limit was too restraining for me. Often, I would read a starred question and think, "Hmm... That's awfully interesting. Well, if I had an hour, I could come up with something. But I have 10 minutes. Next." But I attempted most of them. I don't think I'm in Distinction territory whatsoever, but then again, why should I be? Investing is neither what I did nor what I intend to do.

Tomorrow's exam: Customer.

Now I just need a magnifying glass

A quarter's worth of material on one pageWhen a professor permits us to bring an 8.5x11" cheat sheet into an exam, I don't fool around.

Monday, December 14, 2009

One down, three to go

I have just completed the first of this week's four exams: Competitor. It was a bit exhausting because it was entirely short-answer questions and took almost the entire three hours ... So lots of writing, and a drained brain.

On with Investor.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Top five ways to waste time

Acrobabble. Naturally I spent most of today studying for exams, which begin Monday. It's true, I swear. But, obviously, nobody can spend every waking moment buried in study ... it's unnatural, unhealthy, and unhelpful. That's why it's important to take breaks. Here are five of my favorite study break activities:

1. Playing Acrobabble, pictured above. It's a great online game. You play against other people, all of whom are trying to construct funny or clever acronyms to randomly assigned letters.

2. Sexing someone.

3. Enjoying a laugh at It never fails.

4. Playing the piano. I wrote a song today! That's how efficient my studying was.

5. You're looking at it.

Alvin Ailey in New York

Last night, I went to New York City with a couple classmates to see an Alvin Ailey modern dance performance, the advertisement for which is above. Even though the ad does show the dancing and costumes from the performance I saw, and is set to music we heard, it doesn't really capture the evening too well, because the performance was divided into three parts. The ad focuses on the third, which was the most soulful and costumey. I really really loved the second part, which was nothing like what you see in the ad -- odd, beautiful, subtle, dissonant, sad, spooky, natural. It was fantastic.

The first section was also fantastic; a lot more humorous and fun, set to classic R&B songs like "Satisfaction." My friend Alex used to attend the Alvin Ailey school, so I was always hearing about it. And I, as everyone knows, am quite a dancer myself, having taken a semester of modern at Duke.
New York looked especially Christmassy, which was lovely to see. Obviously I didn't take a camera to a place that would have been interesting to photograph. And after the show we went to Pazza Notte for Grigliata di Pollo (barbecue chicken) pizza and 2-for-1 martinis, which sound like a deal until you realize that, given that we were in New York, each martini was $12.

Even though this wasn't the most prudently timed adventure, what with exams next week and all, I went nevertheless because I wanted to, and because I have not taken nearly enough advantage of my proximity to New York. When I first arrived I went there two times in a matter of a couple weeks, but I actually don't think I'd been back since our orientation trip in mid-August. How disgraceful! New Haven is close enough to New York that distance shouldn't be an excuse not to do something you really want to do, but it's far enough away that distance should be an excuse not to do something only sort of want to do. By train it's 91-103 minutes each way. A round-trip ticket is about $30.

The plan today is to s-t-u-d-y. After a jaw-droppingly expensive trip to my local grocer yesterday, I am ready to hunker down and shovel all these concepts into my cranium, along with some honey-roasted mixed nuts.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Classes are over

Yesterday marked the last day of classes, a cause for celebration. There were merry times at the SOM holiday party, which was a holidayed-up version of our weekly Thursday happy hours, with live music, lots of delicious victuals, hot mulled cider served in an ornate but inefficient trough, wine and beer, and photos with a snowman. After this, I had arranged (well that's a strong word ... I had made a suggestion and let other people do the arranging; that's my leadership style) for my work group of eight to dine at Ibiza, although only four of us were able to make it: just us girls. It unexpectedly turned into an impromptu belated birthday celebration, which I really appreciated, since my birthday itself was more or less an ordinary day.

After dinner I met up with Mike for cocktails at The Owl Shop, a warm, stuck-in-the-past bar downtown with fantastic service and pretty good drinks, and the only bar in New Haven that allows smoking. Then we scooted off to GPSCY, the grad student bar, at which there was one in a regular series of "Big Gay Parties," thrown by, I suppose, club leaders of gay groups across various types of grad schools. There was a tasteful amount of rump shaking.

Incidentally, it's getting mad cold out there for these types of evenings ... walking through downtown is like, well it's like, uh, walking through a super cold place. I like it though; it's a good excuse to scream.

So now it's Friday, and that means it's time to get crackin' on studyin'. Our schedule for exams happens to be in the order in which I had classes throughout the week: Competitor, Investor, Customer and Sourcing & Managing Funds. We have each exam at 9 a.m., on Monday-Friday. At this time last quarter I was very anxious and nervous, but not this time. I'm pretty up on these courses and just need to refresh my memory a bit. It'll go just swimmingly, I'm sure.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Come and meet the Letter People

Come and meet The Letter People. Business people love acronyms! I've learned a few this semester, and I wanted to share five of my favorites, which you can use in daily conversations to seem all businessy and stuff:

1. EBITDA: Earnings Before Income, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization. This is a calculation based on numbers on an income statement, and it gives you an idea about cash earnings. I think all the terms are self-explanatory, but FYI, "depreciation" refers to a physical asset losing value either because of use or because of time, and "amortization" is the same thing but applied to intangible assets, like a patent.

2. CLV: Customer Lifetime Value. This number comes from a calculation of how much a customer spends throughout his "life" with a business, discounted to today's dollar terms. It stresses the importance of retaining customers, and can shed light on which types of customers are most valuable.

3. CAPM: Capital Asset Pricing Model. Pronounced "Cap-Em," this is a measurement of how risky a security is, which is based on how much is covaries with the market. Knowing how risky a stock is helps you determine what price to pay for it.

4. ARC: Architecture, Routines and Culture. This is a framework to examine a firm's organizational design, and to illustrate how a manager can solve incentive and coordination problems.

5. 4 Ps: Product, Price, Place and Promotion: This is another framework, designed to cover the bases of a solid marketing strategy. Using this framework, we ask what we're selling, how much it costs, where we're selling it and how we're communicating a message about it.

Let's put them all together!!

"Looking at EBITDA and using the CAPM, this company clearly isn't thinking about CLV or the 4 Ps, probably because of its ARC."

Go say that to someone.

Course evaluations

You no say daddy me snow me I'm gon' blame, I licky boom boom now. Overnight, down came the snow. The walk to school was slishy, sloshy, squishy, squirty and slurpy.

Today was the last day of two of our four classes, so we were asked to complete course evaluations that allegedly get read anonymously by professors. I did a previous post about "strict/tough/mean" teachers vs. "lax/easy/nice" ones, and today's evaluations underscored that stark contrast.

Our Competitor professor ("Competitor" is the name of the class. Our first-year classes are called Organizational Perspectives and have funny names; basically it was a competitive strategy class) is a notoriously tough cookie. I liked her quite a bit and liked her class, because she wasn't tough to be mean, she was tough because she wanted us to be prepared, think critically and communicate clearly, and I can get behind those values. The work load for Competitor was disproportionately heavy, but I learned a lot.

Our Investor professor, on the other hand, had a completely different style -- he was a much more smiley, warm fellow who used humor and gave lectures based off overhead notes, which were our only written materials. Our Competitor professor, on the other hand, didn't use overheads -- she just engaged us in a discussion and used the chalk board. There wasn't much homework in Investor, and he didn't do any cold-calling, unlike our Competitor professor. Just two different ways of doing things, each probably appropriate for the particular subject.

Tomorrow we wrap up Customer and Sourcing & Managing Funds. Then it's time to hit the books and study for finals!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

I'm a tower of fitness

In graduate school, it is not always easy to live the way you want to, on several levels, not the least of which are the dietary and fitness levels. My relationship with healthy eating and working out have historically been on-and-off -- very on, and very off. In the very on stages, I was working out six days a week and eating nothing but protein shakes, fish, fruit, vegetables, yogurt and whole-wheat bread.

In the very off stages, I was 210 pounds and only watched what I ate as it was going into my mouth.
Why the inconsistency? There's always something to blame -- a dangerous neighborhood you don't want to jog through, or a work schedule that's incompatable with when you'd most like to exercise, or a tight budget that just doesn't allow for a gym membership, or a roommate who loves to cook large cheesy casseroles. It's always something.

Of course, those are all excuses. For fit people, fitness is a priority, and for unfit people, it's not. At school, I'm trying to embrace eating right and exercising as a good way to relieve stress. Unfortunately, doing so depends on a few things I particularly lack at this stage -- money and time. I have been trying to jog relatively regularly and eat relatively healthfully, but the weight-lifting has definitely taken a back seat. Three days ago I did my old routine, and I've been paying for it in unextendable elbows ever since.

With another birthday having come and gone, it's clear there will never be an ideal time to get into the shape of my dreams. After school, I'll be working hard, and maybe eventually I'll have a family. In fact, looking back, my time for that physique has probably come and gone. Don't get me wrong, I am grateful to be tall and prone to a natural normal weight, and my general health is good, so that's a whole lot more important than particular points of vanity. But being a perfectionist, I always want to improve, and doing so means making health and fitness a priority, even in graduate school.

As soon as I can move my arms again, and as soon as all this candy from Mars is eaten, I'm back on the case.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Decembers past

Little John and Santy ClausI love December. I get to enjoy my birthday (tomorrow) as well as Christmas and New Year's Eve. Wonderful music, delicious foods, happy people, presents, decorations, sometimes snow ... it's just a month of all my favorite things. And this year I'll get to add "no homework" to that list, come Dec. 18.

It's also a month that conjures nostalgia. Today as I put up the tree, I took notice of how old some of my ornaments are. There's a picture of me from 1984, a little red apple I got in fifth grade (1989), and some hand-me-down ornaments that predate me. All the traditions make me think of Christmases when. Here are five of my favorite Christmases:

1991 -- This was the year my family broke tradition and went to Disney World to celebrate Christmas for some reason. If you're not too cool to enjoy a tornado of unsophisticated Christmas delight, I highly suggest Disney at Christmas. This trip was my second time there, the first being in 1984, but it would not be my last. (I can place this trip squarely in 1991 because I remember being obsessed with this song ... It was stuck in my head while in line for rides.)

1992 -- I love my mom, but her gift-giving isn't always outta sight. That's why my brothers and I were highly intrigued by the three unusually enormous identically sized boxes beneath the tree in 1992, each bearing one of our names. These boxes taunted us for weeks as we guessed about their contents. Considering precedent, we dismissed the notion that they might be something cool like, say, stereos. But lo and behold, come Christmas morning, it turned out that's exactly what they were. I can still recall the new-electronic smell, and the first CDs I ever bought, to begin making use of this technological marvel. (They were "World Falling Down" by Peter Cetera, "I'm Your Baby Tonight" by Whitney Houston" and "The Comfort Zone" by Vanessa Williams -- typical jams that all 14-year-old boys dig.)

2000 -- I spent this Christmas, during my senior year of college, in Germany with my friend Debi, whose mom, a U.S. Army colonel, was stationed in Wurzburg. It was my first time in Europe, and I was there for 2 1/2 weeks. We went on a somewhat randomly chosen day trip every other day -- just hopped on a train to wherever to explore, walk the streets, look at the decorations, drink gluwein, eat sausages, and get yelled at by angry Germans. Those adventure days were great, but so were the alternating staying-in days, when we'd listen to music, cook and play cards. We also went to London for a few days in there.

2002 -- This was the best Christmas yet. I had moved to Corpus Christi just a few days before Christmas 2001, and spent that holiday working, but in 2002 I got a couple days off to spend with my parents, who flew in from Florida. To the extent I could with what little money I had, I went all out -- got a full-size tree and decorated it, bought each of my parents about eight presents purchased several CDs of holiday music, and cooked a rather substantial and elaborate brunch and dinner for Christmas morning and evening, the most memorable course being a from-scratch split-pea soup. I also had all my parents' favorite liquors on hand. We spent the whole day in merriment with each other, with absent friends and family via phone, and with a few friends of mine who dropped in to say hello throughout the day. It was the most perfect day I ever spent with my parents, the kind you'd like to bottle up.

Snow in Corpus Christi, Christmas 2004.2004 -- A close second to 2002. My parents again were visiting me, but what made this year so special was that it snowed in Corpus for the first time in about 80 years. It was the largest snowfall in the history of the city (4.4 inches by my paper's account), and it started coming down on Christmas Eve, no less. By the morning of Dec. 26, it was mostly melted. It really did feel like some type of magic miracle.

Meowy Christmas

Vinnie, in the Christmas spirit Today, Matt, Susan and I watched White Christmas and then decorated the apartment. And Vinnie helped.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Snow captured on video

It snowed in New Haven sometime in mid-October, but I was in Florida and missed it. So tonight's snow was the first one of the season I have seen (although it was snowing in March when I was here for my interview). Last night I had a dream it snowed. Coincidence??? No, because I think I had heard a forecast.

Anyway, thinking of my loyal readers, I wrapped my laptop in a towel and went out there for a few moments to capture it, after several failed attempts to capture it from inside. (Incidentally, what the? It's so odd to be standing in a doorway and looking at a pretty heavy snowfall, then point a webcam at it, record, play it back and see no snow. I blame the ghosts.)

Enjoy! Or tolerate, or ignore. Whatevs.

Life on Mars

Nom Nom NomYesterday I had the pleasure of accompanying nine fellow SOM students on a company trek to Mars, the $30 billion privately owned company that makes Uncle Ben's rice, Pedigree dog food and Combos snacks, as well as confections such as M&Ms, Skittles, Starburst, Milky Way, Dove and Snickers. The company is located in Hackettstown, New Jersey, which, from what I could tell, is a cute, small town. (New Jersey gets a bum rap, in my opinion ... A lot of it is lovely.)

It was a very exciting day. We got to see the office, which was beautiful, open, colorful and drenched in the inviting fragrance of chocolate. And we learned more about the company and the career paths available there. Applications for internships were due Thursday, and Mars is one of the places to which I applied. We should find out in a couple weeks which companies want to interview us. I'd like Mars to be one of them, for sure.

I'm up early today, a Saturday, to attend "Training The Street," an all-day company valuation seminar at SOM. Not that I love valuing companies, and not that I see myself valuing companies in the future, but I think it's important to take advantage of these kinds of opportunities while I'm here, and I'm here to learn, so I think it will be a good (and long) day.

Next week is our last week of classes for this quarter, which flew by. The following week we have exams (four of them, Monday-Thursday, from 9 a.m. to noon each day). Then I'm off to Florida for what should be an actual, relaxing vacation!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

What's wrong with this picture?

The heat is on.Two things are wrong with this picture, taken of the windows in my living room. The first is that there is a package of Asian strawberry snack cakes that taste like toothpaste on a coaster. But the more pressing issue is that the window on the left is open.

"John, close the window!" you might say. "It must be freezing outside!" Correct; it's 31 degrees outside. But inside, it's about 3100 degrees and dry as an Asian strawberry snack cake, because we don't control the heat.

Free heat sounds great, but, man, it's hot up in this place. My face is melting into a gooey puddle on the floor. I feel nauseated and delirious. It seems a shame, in this era of conservation, to have windows open in the late fall, but if the windows were closed, the police would find three attractive people dead in their beds ... or three charred bodies surrounded by what once were beds before they burst into flames.