Sunday, February 28, 2010

Closer to outta here

New Zealand I am on the edge of my seat, awaiting my thrilling world travels. Yesterday I completed our take-home exam for Employee, which means I have finished all the requirements for this quarter's three core courses (Employee, The Operations Engine, and The Global Macroeconomy). The exams in the other two were fine; macro was easier than I expected, and operations was harder. Anyway, all that's left are two more requirements for my elective, Statistical Modeling: A take-home exam, which I'm about to jump on, and a paper, which is just a write-up of a presentation I already gave. I am hoping to finish both of these things today.

Meanwhile, I've sent off a couple more internship applications, to Coca-Cola and PBS, and have printed out my materials for The Associated Press, which is the first internship to which I've applied that requires physical copies of applicants' letters and resumes. Any of these would be fantastic opportunities, although I must say The AP is the one for which I'm vying.

Anyway, once my stats stuff is out of the way, I just have to pack! My flight leaves Tuesday afternoon, which means I will have to start traveling Tuesday morning. Talk about a trek ... a cab to the train station, a train to Grand Central (two hours), a cab to JFK, a flight to LA, a flight to Auckland, and then a flight to Queenstown. It's basically 33 hours of straight travel. Blech. Fortunately I am totally prepared to entertain myself because I have a bag of trail mix and some sort of conservative manifesto my brother sent me for Christmas. It has red, white and blue all over the cover.

I am planning to take my laptop because I would like to blog while I'm in New Zealand and Australia. I'm not totally sure if I will have Internet access, or how expensive it may be, but I will at least take pictures and write some things in Word to post when I get back. Either way, you will have one hell of a story, loyal readers.

Friday, February 26, 2010


A fellow student, Carolyn Potz, took some portraits of her classmates. I'm one of her classmates, and I had my picture taken, by her. I got about 30, and here are my two faves. I welcome feedback.

John Metz

John Metz

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Exam food

Apples with peanut butter and raisins Oh yes.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Laundry room manners

Connecticut's OK, but one thing I've noticed is that good manners are not particularly practiced or valued, relative to Texas. Case in point: At least two out of three times I do laundry, someone removes my clothes after either the washing or drying stage before I've had a chance to do so.

You might conclude that I need to be more prompt, but I'm adamant that I'm not to blame. This morning, for example, I took up all three washers and fired them up at 9:02. I can be that specific because I looked at the time because I am a considerate person. I walked back down to the laundry room to move my clothes into the dryer at 9:32. As I got off the elevator, I saw a pair of legs running up the basement stairs, and one of my loads of wet clothes had been removed and was sitting in my laundry bag. A new load in progress was going in the washer.

Sometimes I feel like someone is actually spying on me and strategizing his/her laundry use just to irritate me.

In response, I began to try to stuff my three loads into two of the three dryers to make sure the other person had an empty one readily available and would not be held up. Images of very wrinked dress shirts began floating in my head ... an extra half-hour of ironing in a very busy week ... wet jeans I'd have to hang up in my apartment. Then I thought, "Why am I inconveniencing myself to reward obnoxious behavior? Screw this." I guess I'm adopting the Northeastern mentality, which is to have little to no regard for others.

So I used all three dryers, firing them up at 9:43. I left a note atop the in-use washer: "Hello. The dryers will be free at 10:43. I am sorry if this holds you up. I will be down at 10:43 to get my clothes. Please be patient. Thanks." So we'll see if patience is indeed exercised. Half of me expects to come down to find three dryers hacked to pieces or burning.

Yale Health Services: Conclusion

4:04 p.m. Monday: I called them to make an appointment because I thought I might have early symptoms of bronchitis.

4:55 p.m. Monday: They called back, but I missed it because I had another iPhone application open. They said I could call back by 5 or try emergency services.

4:57 p.m. Monday: After getting the message, I called back but was told the nurse who'd just called was busy. I left a message and did not call emergency services.

Tuesday: Feeling better. No follow-up on either end.

9:14 a.m. Wednesday: A very nice nurse called to say that she hadn't heard from me and just wanted to make sure I was OK. I said I was feeling much better.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Two updates and a CEO walk into a blog

Update 1: Yale Health Services called back at about 4:55, but I missed the call because I was using another iPhone app and didn't realize I was getting a call until it told me I had a voice mail. This has happened before. The message said I could call back before 5, which I did, but the nurse was busy, and I didn't get a call back, although I was advised to call emergency services or whatever it's called. I didn't do so because I had to run to a macro review session, which served the purpose of making me even more nervous about Thursday's exam.

Update 2: My Littlefield group ended up in 11th out of 23, "respectfully in the middle" as I'd said I wanted. Yay!

Today, Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi, an SOM alumna, is speaking on campus. Even though I am too busy to go, I will go, because that's sort of a big deal. She has several times been ranked among the very most powerful women in the world.
It's a big day in general, which seems to have happened a lot on Tuesdays: Three classes, and in one of them I'm giving a presentation; Indra's speech; a 30-minute phone interview; a CABO board meeting that was postponed last week because of snow (it's snowing now, so maybe that will happen again); and, of course, a LOST gathering, which it's my turn to host this week. What won't be happened = much studying.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Testing Yale Health Services

Bronchitis As a student, I am entitled to access Yale Health Services. I went in maybe a week ago to make a non-emergency appointment, and there wasn't one available until early March, which meant I had to make one for late March since I will be spending most of March in New Zealand and Australia.

Starting last night, I felt a little achy. I got lightheaded. My throat hurt. I've been smoking a bit (I know, I know, I'm terrible), so I attributed it to that. But I feel a bit lousy today too. Not full-blown sick, but not full-blown healthy either. I would normally just go about my business, but my friend Aaron, who I spent last night with at bowling and beyond, mentioned that he went to the doctor today and was diagnosed with bronchitis. Nobody ever needs bronchitis, but one especially doesn't need it the week of finals and a week before traveling abroad. Nosiree.

So I am putting Yale Health Services to the test. I called at 4:04, explained my story and was told a nurse would call back to assess whether I needed to come in to see someone. I am being perhaps overly cautious here, but I just want to make sure that if there are antibiotics or something for bronchitis, I get ahold of them ASAP. Updates to come. Let's see how responsive and helpful the health services here are when it really counts.

Today I'll lose control of a simulated factory

Littlefield Factory For the past week in my Operations Engine class, we've been working in preassigned groups of three in a competitive online factory simulation activity called Littlefield. Each passing hour has represented a day in the life of the factory; today we lose the ability to make changes, and the factory continues on for 50 more simulated days. The team that makes the most money at the end wins ... I don't remember what.

The first step in this activity was to read a case about how the factory works. With this info, which included a lot of data, we could apply some formulas and models to figure out things like how many machines we should have at each station, how often and how large our raw-materials orders should be, what type of prioritization should be used as materials moved through the process, how to charge our customers (i.e. what type of lead-time guarantee we should offer), etc. We had to write up an action plan and submit it. I thought ours was pretty good.

Once the activity started, my group was pleased to be ranked respectfully in the top third -- around 7th or 8th out of 23 ... not sure why there are 23 groups, come to think of it, since there are 56 people in my cohort and 56/3 = 18 2/3. But whatevs. Anyway, we would check into the simulation and make sure the factory was flowing correctly -- that certain machines weren't being pushed too hard, that lines weren't forming, etc. Pretty fun ...

... Until we suddenly started falling in the ranks like a stone. In an act of "what do we have to lose," we made some purchases that were not part of our original plan, and those investments hit our cash so hard we fell to last but kept our fingers crossed we would rise again. We're still not sure what went wrong.

Fortunately, we've been doing better ... we got back up to 13th place somehow this morning, but have since fallen because we had to purchase some inventory. In the end I would just like to be respectfully in the middle, especially considering we worked pretty hard to make our plan. I suppose everyone else did, too, though. (That's one of the drawbacks to going to a good school ... it's hard to stand out for any positive reason.)

I guess the point of this story is to illustrate that, especially when it comes to something dynamic like operations, there are better ways to learn than just reading a case and having a discussion (although we do plenty of that, too). There is randomness and motion in operations that can be nicely simulated by a computer. This was not the first time in the class we used a simulation; we did the same in a case about a hibachi restaurant.

The final for this class is Friday, although I'm trying to get approval to take it a day earlier so I can attend a media conference at NYU on Friday. That would make for a pretty awful Thursday, however, because we also have our macro exam that morning. Those are my only two sit-down exams; I have take-home exams in my other two classes, Employee and Statistical Modeling.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Avatar is beautiful and exciting

I spent yesterday morning studying operations and then treated myself to a dinner-and-movie outing with Mike to see Avatar in 3D. I am perhaps among the last to see it, but I nevertheless would like to recommend it.

My favorite movie of all time is Titanic, also directed by James Cameron, and there were a couple similarities. James Horner composed the scores for both, and at times they resembled each other. Some aspects of the action sequences seemed borrowed from the sinking footage. And at the heart of each is a love story to pull the viewer in to a larger, broader theme and message.

The visuals in Avatar are, of course, original and very lovely. That I expected. What I did not expect was such compelling action; I was really on the edge of my seat. I would say that Avatar doesn't quite have as much heart as Titanic, but then again, what does?

This morning I continued obsessively writing a cover letter, which I must tear myself away from to do some real studying because I have plans to bowl this evening. Back to it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Quiz: What's going on in this picture?

Salvador and Colin try to jump a car.Here's a quiz as to what is going on in this photograph, which I took last night. Is it:

a) Members of my Australia trip group went to the Outback Steakhouse to get accustomed to genuine Australian cuisine, and upon leaving, one of our classmates' car wouldn't start. The photo is an attempt to jump it.

b) While heading to a night club with a few friends, one of those friend's car got tangled up in what appears to have been a mess of red wire netting, sitting on the highway. It got caught around the wheels, and we had to pull off at an exit to cut and tear it off.

c) Some classmates and I who volunteer at Food For Thought were throwing an international food festival in Caulkins Courtyard on campus and activated a spotlight as a signal, representing the light we bring to not-for-profit businesses at which we intern over the summer.

The answer is here.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Don't get Smart PDF Creator Pro!

I needed to convert my resume to a PDF and found myself in a familiar situation ... scrambling online to find some free download that will let me do this.

My first try was Smart PDF Creator Pro, and it is useless because the free-trial version puts an obnoxious watermark all over your document; you have to purchase it to get a version you might actually want to use.

Next I tried Primo PDF Converter, and maybe I'm stupid but I couldn't figure out how to use it after I installed it.

Finally, on the third try (this is sounding like Goldilocks) I found one that works for now: Nitro PDF Professional.

Who knows what kind of viruses I got along the way. Gotta have that resume in the right format, though.

Racist record-store owners, circa 1990-91?

After the introduction of SoundScan, more black people made it to the Top 10 on Billboard. I may have made an amazing discovery and am pretty excited.

I mentioned a couple posts ago that I'm working on a final project for my stats class that looks at a policy change on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart that was implemented in 1991. The change was the introduction of SoundScan technology, a method invented by Nielsen to count sales of singles. Before that, record stores just reported their sales.

So I created a data set with all sorts of variables to see which ones might have been affected by the change. Most weren't -- things like how many songs debuted each week, how high the highest debut was, the amount of movement into the Top 20, whether men were more likely to be No. 1, etc., were all statistically insignificant. Two things I found that appear to be statistically significant, and which I expected, were that the change made songs go to No. 1 faster and stay there longer.

What's interesting is the third thing I found, something unexpected and even more statistically significant than the first two things: More black artists were in the Top 10 after the change than before. You can actually eyeball this in the graph above (nobody wants to see my Stata output, right?). Time is on the X axis, counted in weeks from Dec. 1, 1990, to Nov. 28, 1992. On the Y axis is how many songs by black artists were in the Top 10. (If you look closely you may wonder why there are fractions of black people ... it's because of duets and groups that shared vocals, like Color Me Badd.) I've drawn in a red line to show where SoundScan was brought in.

I think that unless I've made a mistake in my little model, this is an awfully interesting discovery. It basically implies that record store owners might have been under-reporting sales by black artists. It could certainly be a coincidence too -- maybe there were just more popular songs by black people in 1992 than in 1991. Maybe radio warmed up to black artists in 1992. Both of those seem a little far-fetched though ... There's a pretty stark difference between what you see to the left of the red line and what's on the right. I love being armed with tools to discover things!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

My brother has thyroid cancer

As a full-time student it's all too easy to stop taking care of "things," like exercise and oil changes and calling friends and family on their birthday. Yesterday I noticed on my computer it was Feb. 17, and I thought, "Damn, I missed my brother's birthday," which had been the day before. Oh well, back to work.

Come to find out later that he had a pretty terrible 38th birthday, as he found out he has thyroid cancer. Of course, now I feel really bad about not calling. There seems to be no cause for alarm, though. It's a small tumor, so they'll just remove the thyroid and put him on pills forever. He may have to watch what he eats, too.

His doctor recommended that our other brother and I get an ultrasound. I had coincidentally made an appointment with Yale Health Services for when I get back from Australia, so I'll discuss this then. Anyway, my takeaway from all this is that, no matter how busy I am, (a) I will try harder to make those birthday calls, and (b) I need to visit my brother more often. I haven't been since Thanksgiving, and he's only two hours away. Ridiculous.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Immersed in Billboard stats

Billboard SoundScan For my Statistical Modeling class we have been working -- or, perhaps more accurately, were asked to work -- on a project all quarter in which we collect data and apply models to it. So far, of the three people I've seen present their projects, two examined economic indicators in foreign countries, and the third looked closely at the auto insurance industry. That stuff is, like, way too businessy for this unconventional candidate.

Instead, I will be looking at the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in the early 1990s. Anyone who has ever said hello to me probably knows that I am obsessed with Billboard. As a wee lad of 12, my mommy would drive me to the library each and every week so that I could read the magazine and photocopy the pages that most interested me. It cost 30 cents; the magazine, at the time, was like $4.50, so a subscription was a little out of the question considering I was really only interested in a few pages, and it's a very thick magazine for industry insiders.

I'm not sure why I found the charts so interesting, but I'm not the only one. There appears to be some sort of dedicated cult of people into this, as is evidenced by the devoted following of Fred Bronson's now defunct Chart Beat Chat columns each week on (and, I assume, in the print edition). He even printed some of my questions! He retired last year. Anyway, I just loved the charts -- I always watched the countdown shows on MTV and VH1 and wrote them down, I had my own personal chart of my 20 favorite songs each week, I listened religiously to Casey's Top 40. Just loved it. My interest waned slightly once I could drive and started interacting with humans to a greater degree, but I still check the Billboard Hot 100 every Thursday to see what's hot. I usually gasp in horror and then complain about how awful music is today.

So my project. Prior to November 1991, Billboard based its Hot 100 Singles chart on sales figures reported by retail stores. There wasn't yet the technology to measure actual sales. Then Nielsen introduced its SoundScan technology, and Billboard started using it to compile its sales data. The Hot 100 Singles chart is sort of the aggregate chart that ranks the popularity of songs across genres, and it combines sales and data information.

Who cares, you ask, if you're even still reading. Well the thing is that in the few years after this change, several important records were broken or tied, most imporatntly the record for longest-running No. 1 song. If you look at this list you will notice that the songs that hold the record for most time at No. 1 were released after this change. The longest running No. 1 song ever is One Sweet Day by Mariah Carey & Boyz II Men, released in 1995. It was No. 1 for 16 weeks. No song has been No. 1 for 15 weeks. Six songs have been No. 1 for 14 weeks and, of those, four were released between 1992 and 1997. The other two were released in 2005 and 2009. Amazingly, as you scroll down, you don't see a single long-running No. 1 song released between 1982 and 1991. It's a little suspicious ... One wouldn't be crazy to hypothesize that the methodology had something to do with it.

Anyway, that's what I'm trying to analyze. Since I went to the trouble of entering in tons of data I'm also looking at some other things, like whether being male or writing your own song has any influence on how long it takes to reach No. 1 or how long you stay there. So far I'm not finding anything too interesting except the fact that the introduction of SoundScan made sounds statitistically significantly more likely to get to No. 1 faster and stay there longer.

"You should work for Billboard," You suggest. I contacted them a couple months ago; they only hire undergrads as interns. :-(

Monday, February 15, 2010

Outrage: Good movie!

Tonight I went to a screening of the documentary Outrage, which looks at closeted politicians and the detrimental effects of their closetedness on the rest of society. I felt especially inclined to attend because two of the three clubs of which I am a member, the Media & Entertainment Club and the Q+ Gay/Straight Alliance, co-sponsored the event.

It was good. I've seen several left-leaning documentaries in may day, and often they suffer from being too clouded in agenda and too lacking in research and reason. Outrage, while not balanced, did a pretty nice job of sourcing; I learned a lot and came away angry and convinced that closeted politicians who espouse venomous anti-gay rhetoric and push anti-gay agendas are awful hypocrites who should be exposed. I didn't necessarily need this movie to reach that conclusion, but I have to say I didn't realize how widespread this problem is.

I haven't talked politics on this blog, but I'm an increasingly right-leaning fellow who never votes Republican because the GOP hates me, and I refuse to support them out of principle. (For those just tuning in, I'm gay.) My family is all very conservative, and it's a widely known but rarely mentioned point of shame that I've voted Democrat in presidential elections. My parents and brothers tend to bombard me with conservative philosophies (my brother even sent me a conservative manifesto for Christmas). I think they might find it puzzling that I generally agree with their espousals (generally ... certainly not always). I'd love lower taxes, and not to be forced against my will to surrender my earnings to be redistributed to government programs about which I have no say. I am all for privacy and freedom and capitalism and all the rest.

But the gay thing trumps everything else without question -- I'm not going to vote for people who routinely vote against gay marriage, hate-crime laws, adoption rights, etc. (To be clear, I lean left socially on other issues beyond those that affect me.)

Anyway, Outrage is the kind of documentary I wish they would see, even though I could never get them to.

A YouTube pick-me-up

I've been a little blue today. I hate being sluggish and down on Mondays because I give tours, and feel like I'm letting down the prospective students by not being 100% smiles and energy. I just didn't get quite enough sleep and have had a busy day ...
Fortunately, I know how to recognize my funks, and especially how to eradicate them. See video above.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

The bowling did happen

John Metz bowls.For two periods in my life, I've been a bowling league. The first time was for five years, from 5th grade to 9th. Yes, I was popular and sexy in middle school. The second was about four years ago, in Corpus Christi. Some co-workers at the Caller-Times and I were The Gutterschmucks. For a week, we were in first place, I think. My average was about 135.

Tonight I subbed on a gay bowling league -- only in Connecticut, I tell ya! -- and was successful. It was pretty fun. Whether I can/want to spend $13 a week to commit to this activity each and every Sunday, I cannot say. School is a priority. But the notion of having some totally unintellectual outside-of-school activity is awfully appealing. Reminds me of when I made choices based on what I wanted to do to make myself happy.

My friend Aaron introduced me to the league. Here he is bowling, unaware that I was filming him. Mwa ha ha ha ha ...

The Vagina Monologues

Women Never had I seen The Vagina Monologues, but as of last night, now I have.

This production was a fundraiser for the Haven Free Clinic, and was performed by people in my roommate Susan's PA program, as well as the nursing program, the med school and some other places. For those who are not familiar, the play is based on interviews with about 200 women, with topics ranging from the funny (personal hygiene and sex) to the very sad and serious (rape and mutiliation). Without an intermission it got a bit tiresome; a couple parts could have been edited down. But overall it was entertaining and thought-provoking, and well-performed. I'm obviously not the target audience.

Apparently there is such a thing as The Penis Monologues. Sign me up.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Nice weekend ahead, if I can make it there

Today is going to be hell.

I have two morning classes for which I am underprepared, then I'll dash home to put together materials for a presentation tonight, dash back to attend an earlier section of a class, meet with my group for a couple hours to keep working on a paper due tomorrow, and then give the aforementioned presentation. It's going to be a continuous race for the next 13 hours. I doubt my morning Honey Nut Cheerios will sustain me.

But there's a blinding light at the end of the tunnel, as I have fun evening plans each day this weekend: A low-key date to hang out and watch movies Friday, some Vagina Monologues with friends on Saturday, and then subbing for a gay bowling league, followed by dinner, on Sunday. The days will be quite busy though. I have to put together data and models for my final presentation for Statistical Modeling, and we have a Macro problem set due Tuesday as well as an Operations write-up.

Oh, and I'm supposed to be finding a summer internship. I have one in mind that would be perfect, but I'm scared to say what it is. I will, however, take suggestions.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I recommend H&R Block

I've always done my taxes online because they've been simple to do -- I earned a modest income as a journalist and received a W-2. Single. No loans. No property. No kids.

This year it wasn't too much more complicated, except that, of course, I returned to school and took out loans. I also cashed out my 401(k) when I left my old job. So I did my taxes online again and was told I would be receiving a decent refund, but not nearly as much as I'd hoped. So I figured there had to be some credits or loopholes out there that I could take advantage of as a student. Hence an appointment with H&R Block. And I was right! My tax advisor found a credit that tripled my refund. So it was well worth a trek in the blizzard and the $140 fee. Well, well worth it.

Drinks on me! Or basic survival on me.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Chance of cancellation? 0.

Class will continue, snow or shine. There's a "blizzard" in the forecast, with snow starting tonight and continuing tomorrow. Right now 8-12 inches are expected, and a guest speaker who was on tap for one of my classes has canceled. It made me wonder -- what would it take for Yale to cancel classes because of the snow?

According to my Statistical Modeling professor, Yale "never" cancels because of snow, and certainly not for a piddly 8-12 inches. (His kid's school, on the other hand, cancels when there's even half an inch. I think that's how it ought to be.)

My boots are ready.

Monday, February 8, 2010

When your calendar makes you sweat

The week as it stands Pictured above is my week as it stands, and it doesn't even include classes, of which I have one on Monday and Wednesday and three on Tuesday and Thursday. Prior to SOM, I was never much of an electronic-planner guy. Life was reasonably simple -- work, social plans, a few volunteer obligations here and there, but basically nothing I couldn't keep in my head. From time to time, I would buy a physical planner and determine to keep it up to date, but that plan always dissolved within a couple weeks. Maybe I should have put my plan to update my planner in my planner.

Here, it's more or less impossible to function without the help of Outlook or some similar calendar. And this week is particularly "brutal," even though you may notice (if you can read the small print) that a couple things are leisure -- wait, actually just one, a Lost viewing party. Everything else is a group project meeting, a required appointment, a seminar, a volunteer obligation, or something at which my body must be present. This is, of course, the point of being here; no sense in moving 1,625 miles and getting almost $150,000 in debt just to go to class and come home!

The clock is ticking on my impending trip to New Zealand and Australia. I've not yet decided whether to bring my laptop, as I am not yet clear on the extent to which I will have Internet access, or time to use it. Part of what's nice about SOM is that they take student feedback seriously, which is why the international trip was moved from January to March; the problem with January was that it was the height of recruiting, especially for finance and consulting jobs. Unfortunately, March is smack in the middle of most other recruiting cycles. Today I was wondering why the international trip isn't a second-year activity ... Wouldn't it be nice to go in March next year, after most people have their full-time gigs lined up. Or do they? Well I'm certainly not complaining. I'm very excited to go and hang out with cheerful beer-drinking Aussies.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Yale beats Dartmouth, 1,000,000 to 0

Dave, Kasia and John at the Yale-Dartmouth hockey gameWhen Matt, Dave, Kasia and I walked into the rink (which is next to SOM), Dartmouth was up 2-0. Because Matt had on his trusted Dartmouth shirt and was excited to root for his team, the Big Green quickly lost its lead and was handily defeated 4-2. It was fun, although frosty. And no beer? Really? And Coke is $4? And a bad, cold hot dog is also $4? Lesson learned, The Whale.

Afterward we wanted a bar that would be fun but allow for conversation. Not sure where to find one on a Friday night, and somewhat reluctant to hike excessive distances in the icy cold, I decided Anna Liffey's would do. At first, it did do. Then, of course, in comes a band, to ruin everything. Not the band's fault per se, but what is the deal with bars taking a nice place with happy people and drowning it out with dreary electric stringed instruments? That sounds like an old person's complaint, but I've been saying that for 10 years. Nevertheless, laughs.

Meanwhile, I've made my first-ever appointment with H&R Block to do my taxes. I've always just done them online, but I think (a) this year's are going to be a little more complicated, and (b) I have less time this year to deal with taxes. There is much to do.

Friday, February 5, 2010

How Agnes resonates with me

Talent abounds

Star Search at Yale SOM Pictured above is the closing act of last night's Star Search talent show to raise money for SOM's internship fund. The fund helps support MBA students pursuing unpaid (or low-paid) nonprofit work over the summer. It was a lot of fun -- talent varied from really great acting, singing and juggling to lighter gags and skits. Both the singers I accompanied did an amazing job, and I did not appear to have ruined anything.

The evening was followed by a late night and wild time at GPSCY, which I've mentioned is a bar primarily for grad students. I went several times when I first moved here but started going less frequently when it got super cold. And last night was a reminder -- we called a cab and the Yale shuttle and waited for what felt like ages in the freezing cold before finally deciding to hike back to East Rock on foot, which isn't exactly safe. I was probably just being impatient; usually Yale's shuttle service is decent, and cabs are even more decent.

This afternoon I'm meeting with a couple members of CABO, a (actually "the") LGBT chamber of commerce in Connecticut. Their mission is to "create, identify and enhance business opportunities for GLBT and GLBT-friendly organizations, thereby fostering a more inclusive and vibrant Connecticut economy." My friend Brian, a second-year student at SOM, is a board member but is stepping down because he's graduating. They are interested in having another SOM student take his place. Brian's enjoyed it, and it seems like a great opportunity to learn, network and contribute. (Man, I sound more businessy every day ...)

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Sailing toward efficiency

Yale SOM students assemble sailboats for a class project. At SOM we have classes, and sometimes those classes will have an outside-of-class activity to bring a new dimension to something we're talking about. Last quarter, for example, we all went to the Lawn Club for a stock trading game, which coincided with our Investor course. In that game, we pretended to buy and trade stocks, and it was pretty fun, although probably more fun for the more extroverted among us.

This week, we all did a similar kind of activity called Sailboats, for our Operations Engine class. In this one, we were set up in different departments and asked to assemble little boats out of Lego-like blocks that were not Legos. And for each run, we had to come up with ways to cut costs and be more efficient. My assigned role was "Quality Manager," so I, you know, tried to throw out some ideas to make things better. Pictured above is the setup we got pared down to, after moving tables and firing people and generally making the whole thing run quickly and smoothly. A neat activity, it was.

Speaking of neat activities, tonight is the talent show, aka Star Search, and I'm accompanying two singers from my cohort (on the piano). One is doing a fast, lively number from The Full Monty, and the other is doing something slower and more operatic from Porgy and Bess. It's been fun practicing with them; this is just the kind of thing I wish I had done more in undergrad and am seizing the opportunity to do in grad school, because after grad school, it's not as if people send you e-mails asking if you want to help out in talent shows. Anyway, with the fun does come quite a bit of pressure, but I'm well-rehearsed. I do get nervous performing, but at least I can take a little comfort in the fact that all eyes are really on the singers. I just have to not screw up in a massive way that derails the show.

Great. Now my hands are all sweaty.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Oscars and Dengue Fever

Dengue Fever Four weeks from today I will be flying to New Zealand for a few days of fun before a school-sanctioned group trip to three cities in Australia. In advance of our departure, today we had a health meeting, which is more relevant to those traveling to other countries (like Bangladesh) than for us. My only takeaway was to wear bug repellent with at least 30% DEET in Cairns because mosquitoes carry Dengue Fever, a potentially deadly and generally awful-sounding thing. Beyond that we were just told to be careful of pickpocketers, not trip and fall into the sea while we're drunk, and avoid unprotected sex with prostitutes. All sound advice, even if I were staying in New Haven.

Meanwhile, this morning was noteworthy to entertainment and film buffs because Oscar nominations were announced. Normally -- meaning when I'm not in school -- I care very much about the Oscars. In my journalism career I devoted undue time to Oscar podcasts, articles and contests, all in feverish anticipation of the biggest night in Hollywood. This year, not so much. First of all, I have not had time to see most of the movies because 2009 was so busy. Of the 10 (yes 10) best picture nominees, I've seen four (Up, Up In The Air, Precious, and The Hurt Locker). I normally try to see all the best picture contenders, although I doubt I'll get to the other six.

Another reason I'm not as interested this year is because there are indeed 10 nominations. I dunno -- it just sort of lessens my interest in the whole thing, for whatever reason.

And, finally, I will probably not even get to see this year's ceremony (March 7), because I'll be in Australia. I can't remember the last time I missed it, although there have been occasions when my attention was split between watching it and working (editing, designing pages, writing, whatever I was doing that year).

Monday, February 1, 2010

LOST = Where I'll be found

LOSTIf anyone needs me Tuesday night -- and, believe it or not, there have been people who do -- I will be delightfully indisposed viewing the season premiere of LOST, a series of which I have seen each episode, despite not necessarily believing it to be that great of a show. So why bother? Sometimes it's important to sync up your consciousness with the rest of society. It's a good conversation starter. It introduces fascinating themes about faith, science and power. And, perhaps most importantly, Sawyer frequently chooses not to wear a shirt.

Meanwhile, I did not tend to my studies as rigorously as I had wanted to this weekend, and soon I will pay. It's going to be a mad busy week. In addition to my usual host of school and social obligations, extra ones this week include four rehearsals and the performance at Thursday's "Star Search" talent show; attending three Australia-related meetings; an extra two-hour "Sailboat" game/meeting/activity for my operations class; a hockey game Thursday; two Food For Thought shifts; a campus tour (well now I'm just being silly ... that happens every week) and, most importantly, LOST.

Guess you get what you pay for.