All them reviews...

Deja Vu - saw this movie during the ski trip. It reminds me of Matrix and I thought it was pretty good. Denzel at his usual best.

Da Vinci Code - on the plane to Quito. Awful.

Julius Meinl again - our wait was 30 minutes which crossed the 2pm mark, hence breakfast was not an option. Sigh, will have to try baked eggs another time. We tried three desserts... a raspberry pistachio cake, a chocolate mousse banana cake, and the always welcoming molten chocolate cake. Oh yes, my American diet is returning in a big way.

Meanwhile, there are a couple of movies I'd love to see: Blood Diamond, The Good Sheppard, The Pursuit of Happiness...

Pub food...

Man I miss pub food. I had a nice a juicy hamburger yesterday at PJ Clark's. I can't believe I miss American food; it wasn't that Ecuadorian food isn't good - they were excellent - it's just that most meals were fish and veg based and was extremely healthy.

Mmmmm... oily and greasy burgers... tonight I need to reconnect with Chinese food.


Back from Galapagos

It was awesome. Unfortunately, I don't have time to write much (still in a hostal in Ecuador)... BUT... to give you an idea on how great the trip was, I'll share a photo of our guide:

This dude could find anything anywhere, as far as wild life was concerned. More will be shared later on my website and picture albums. I literally have thousands of pictures I need to sort out. Merry Christmas (me celebrated with decent turkey and awful Ecuadorian bubbly on the boat) and Happy New Year (GSBers, I need a party guide when I go back to Chicago tomorrow)!


Totally unprepared

I feel totally unprepared for the Galapagos Islands. I blame United for this. I got back home late and was just way too tired to do anything. Nonetheless, I needed to do laundry and pack and get information that I need when I arrive in Quito tonight at 9:30pm. I fell asleep during the drying process and got up at 5:30 am. Still dead tired from the whole day of traveling yesterday from the ski resort to Chicago, I managed to pack for the trip in the next hour or so.

But... I didn't really finish my Quito reading... I didn't really learn the Spanish that I should have learned... I just found out which airport (O'Hare, damn it) I was departing from today... I also just found out that I have a 3 hour wait in Miami... arg...

Then again, traveling totally unprepared has its merits. Sort of like going into a Corp Fin final... NOT. There's more surprises, for better or worse. My default is still doing my homework and organizing things before walking into a foreign place. I'm quite flexible, so even if I planned a lot, it's not like I visit a place like a tour group. I figure out what I want to see and compare it to where I am and make adjustments as I go. Not this time, I guess. I'll have to ask around in Quito to see what's there to do!

Merry Christmas, my dear readers. I'll be back to Chicago before New Year. Galapagos will deserve a dot in my map; in the meantime, you can see the updated map. The load time is slow and I blame it on the server in HK (more research needed, but I'm convinced it's not the file... by the way, check out this awesome site!)... my HK friends should have an easier time loading the map.

United Sucks

I hope this post will... uh... confirm what I already know but continue to go against my heart. Chicago can explain this: I have significant sunk costs (mileage) and high switching costs (no benefit on other airlines).

Anyway, on the way to Denver, our United flight had a malfunctioning radar. Yup, the usual delay ensues. They were trying to fix the part but United didn't have the part on hand. So instead, they had to go to another airline to get the part for our plane. Good times.

Coming back, United was able to one-up itself. They cancelled our flight from the resort to Denver entirely after checking all of us in and passing us through security. Chaos ensues. We were supposed to hop on a bus that would drive us to Denver. Only that there weren't enough seats. There was supposed to be a second bus. Only that now we have another option of waiting for an afternoon flight.

Five hours later, we arrived in Denver via the stupid bus. The only consolation prize was that I go to sit in Economy Plus.

I hate United. I cannot wait to go back to Asia Miles.



Compared to my first day skiing, the next few days were much better. I regained the feel and was starting to come down some easier blacks. Good times. I'm going to miss skiing when I am back in Hong Kong... sigh.

Anyway, since being in Chicago (Midwest), I have had great experiences with all strangers that I've met. They're all nice and polite. (Some of my Chinese classmates have found this disturbing because the is no prior relationship build up and they find it hard to accept a stranger's random hello.) But during this ski trip, I had an unbelievable rude experience. After a grill-your-own-steak meal and a couple of drinks, a bunch of GSBers left the restaurant to go back to the ski condos. The shuttle made one stop at a local restaurant to pick up people. The shuttle had two seats left and a family of four came aboard.

There were two young kids so I offered my seat to the kids and knelt near the driver's seat. The father and his daughter took my row and I crouched right in front of them. I offered a smile. No response from dad. Maybe he didn't see me. I looked at him a bit, just a bit pissed off that he has completely ignored me. He stared right back at me. No smile. No nod. No nothing. A completely blank look. Never said anything nor acknowleged me. The family got off the shuttle at their stop. As soon as the driver closed the door, everybody in the bus started talking about how rude the family (well, dad and mom, I guess) was. Even the driver chipped in: maybe they are from the East coast. haha. I held my tongue: I'm from the East Coast...

I'm courteous on public transportation not because I want to be praised for my actions. It's the right thing to do. But... I've never experienced such rudeness!


Ski trip report

My first day ended in disaster, so to say. Was cramping from 2pm and on. My time away from skiing probably hurt. The altitude hurt. The overconfidence hurt. The great powder in Steamboat did not. I had fun, that's the most important part. Now let me inject some oxygen into my legs.

A lot of drinking so far. I'm considering putting beer in my reservoir. Not. Why would I need to do that when there's free booze at 3pm to 5pm and discounted booze from 9pm onwards.

By the way, the State Department has just condemned Iranian president for saying that Israel will soon be wiped out. I condemn that too... and then there's the double standard of letting Japanese politicians get away with claiming the Nanjing Massacre didn't happen. How can you claim to lead the world to democracy/freedom and make the world a better place for everybody? Shouldn't you have the same standards?

Meanwhile, Taiwan elections again proceeded in quite a messy way. For the presidential elections, there was the dramatic "assassination attempt; for the mayor (it's the mayor, for god's sake! a freaking mayor!), there was the dramatic "buying votes" accusation.

In Hong Kong, the pro-democratic (I have a beef about this name, I believe most politicians are pro-democratic in Hong Kong - won't get votes otherwise - the difference is in time frame and format) party won a huge victory in the preliminary rounds. It probably won't matter at the end, since you do need blessings from China to make anything possible. But it's a start.



I'm off to Steamboat to ski with a bunch of GSBers (140 strong)... this will be a better experience than my last ski venture. Can't wait.


Something Lighter...

Time for a lighter post... apparently I reflect upon myself and eat in my free time.

Volare: really excellent Italian food. I had a linguine that was perhaps the best I have had in years. The risotto was also very good (I stole some off PP's plate). Dessert was tempting; but like all Italian dishes, we were filled with pasta already. Upon hearing my praise for Volare, a friend of mine commented that Italian food taste the same everywhere. Come to think about it, she's quite right. Boston's North End offers some of the best Italian food in the country (though one of the best lies in a little corner of Somerville (Slumerville), where I had my graduation dinner); oh, but you can't discount NYC's authenticity; but wait, Toronto also has very good Italian restaurants; in fact, Italian food in Hong Kong is also very good! Yup, they taste the same everywhere. But hey, that also means you can't go wrong anywhere. Even Edinburgh! Anyway, highly recommended restaurant.

Takkatsu: I was tempted to add my own review in citysearch. If there were a score, it needs to be a 9.6 and nothing lower. Here's a decent review. Let me start by recommending two dishes, which was recommended to me by Mr. YM, who commented that Takkatsu was the best pork cutlet restaurant in the US. Talk about high expectations! They were met with ease. My recs are the same as Mr. YM's: the crab croquette and #3 on the entree list, which is Tonkatsu (Pork Cutlet) made from black pork. Also decent on the menu is the agedashi tofu (great sauce) and #5 on the entree, a slightly more meaty pork cutlet choice. The succulent pork obviously does the magic, but I should also give credit to the katsu sauce. If I had a bottle of that stuff, I think there will be a few meals with only white rice and sauce... hmmm... Anyway, I wish I could try all the other options at some point. No worries, I'm definitely going back for more. My only complain? Lack of desserts options.

The week after exams...

Man, what a waste. I finished exams on Monday but accomplished absolutely nothing since then. It was a remarkable coincidence that the week had to be freaking freezing in Chicago. I can't wait till I can ski. Anyway, for most of the week, I found myself being trapped in my apartment. There was an odd reluctance to reach out to friends (besides an excellent Italian meal on Monday night after the exam... more on that later, I hope), so I ended up staying home doing miscellaneous stuff all day. But, really, there's a reason why they are called miscellaneous: there isn't that much of it.

With alone time came lonely time; with lonely time came reflection time. It isn't bad, I guess, though sometimes it can overwhelm me. I've mentioned that the quarter has been strangely unsatisfying. That feeling magnified during the freezing week. In particular, I reflected quite a bit on how much I've changed and why I have become who I am now.

Take my reluctance to reach out during the week. Why is that? Hong Kong and Tufts me would have certainly reached out way before any boredom materialized. In fact, I was always the one organizing events for my friends, being the good host during parties, working the crowd... I guess I still do some of that, but not nearly as much as I used to. When I delved deeper, I find that, now, I only do those things when I'm "official," when I have the responsibility to do them. No more volunteering.

I attribute some of it to age. With age comes the more mellow me. However, mellow usually doesn't lead to me sitting alone at home when I could have called friends. As uncomfortable an answer it was, I found that Alan has really contributed to this particular change. Maybe it's being afraid of being too close; maybe it's not wanting to have too much fun... to be honest, I can't really articulate it clearly(which makes me feel bad... cus I'm not trying to blame it on some intangible), but the subconscious me seems to know.

Unfortunately, the subconscious me doesn't wake up during blog writing. So, to review the week: I worked on my website (check out!), read some books, got hostals set up in Galapagos, laid out finances for the next year (I'm so broke; thank you MBA), typed up my Scotland trip (uploaded), checked out possible courses to take next quarter (I have only one, sigh), and made one small step closer to photo lessons thanks to Huckle Cat. Now if only I had the time to actually take those classes.


Bait Ball

I love coming home at 3am, turning the TV on, and getting good programs on Animal Planet. I've seen this episode before (Called "Massive Nature," shmoo, not "Blue Planet") before and blogged about it. Yesterday's viewing was from the beginning though. The particular segment that I stayed awake to watch was the sardine bait ball. (Come on, even at 3am, the mention of a sardine bait ball should always excite you)

The dolphins separated the pack of sardines (called a bait ball) from the main pack by blowing bubbles into the pack of fish. Afterwards, the sharks, birds, and seals joined in. The rest you can see in my previous post. The program concludes that "becoming separated is what made these fish vulnerable" and that the sardines' doom was facilitated because "these predators have ignored each other (because of how easy it is to hunt sardine bait balls)".

So... stick with the pack. If you show weakness, every one will want a piece of you.



I forget that MBA costs money...

Oh well, that's what those loans are for...

I'm going on the GSB ski trip... then Galapagos... Yes, I'll need those loans.

I just realized that a bunch of my colleagues are going to be studying abroad next quarter... I knew a few of them would, but I didn't really realize the extent of it. It's going to be a lonely winter in Chicago!

I'm so bored.


$12,000 well spent!?

Some fellow classmate commented that my blog has been reduced to food and movie (read: fun) reviews since the middle of the quarter. Quite true, perhaps, because those things inspire me to write. There are other things that inspire me to write, but they may not be appropriate in this forum. Anyway, back to the blog.

Chicago is freaking cold now. I went from T-shirt in Boston to full ski gear in Chicago. It was so cold outside that I had brain freeze from just walking outside. And my bathroom door frame shrunk (seriously, due to coldness) and I almost got stuck in the bathroom. I've also never swore that much while walking alone. I hope the slopes aren't this cold...!

Corporate Finance - for all the hoola about the GSB being a finance school, this class is quite disappointing for many who have no background in finance. The teacher is actually above average, and yet sometimes he just looses the class. I can't really identify exactly what I learned from the class, which is my biggest beef with it. There should be some tools I can take home, but there weren't many (which is good for my finals, actually). Instead, what I think I learned was some very high level views on the world of financing. In fact, this is probably quite typical of what the GSB is about... giving you some high level tool kits and see what you can do with it. Didn't like this class that much, but intrigued by the subject nonetheless.

This also happens to be the only class this quarter in which I got cold called. Arg. My finals were quite disastrous, I think, but could go either way since I kept pulling sh!t out of my behind. For high level things, these may work. If I get an A, it will be the biggest insult in the Chicago education system. I don't really want a C though...

Negotiations - some have called this "an extention of LEAD." I have to disagree. One way to judge a class is from the finals, which was a group paper on an actual negotiation process. I'm not sure how the professor is going to grade it, but I have to say that I learned a lot from writing the paper. It consolidated what we've learned all quarter and addressed each tool one by one. Much more than LEAD.

I loved this class. I think every MBA should take some form of this class. You could argue every part of life is about negotiations... (uh oh, this is wandering into LEAD world) so this class is going to be useful at every part of life. =) haha. Seriously, I think a lot of people, like myself, went into the class skeptical. But through all the actual negotiation exercises, many of us realized that there is, in fact, some science behind negotiations. If we are able to break down the elements like we do in class, we can influence the negotiations in our favor. And that's all I ask in life: to had the odds stacked for me and not against me.

Organizational Change - heavy class discussions about nothing solid always makes a class fun... if the teacher and the students have all done their jobs. I'd say 90% of the time the class is in good flow and that we're learning a quite a bit. It's a VERY soft class, basically about how to make change happen - from motivation to creativity to gaining buy in to admitting mistakes to assessing blame in times of failure. Did I learn a set of frameworks that I can use? Perhaps. Was it worth my time? Absolutely. Would I take it again? Most likely. Would I recommend it to you? Only if you are interested in understanding how organizations work.

It's that kind of class.

Chicago Asia Pacific Group - this might as well be a class. haha. I loved everything I did for them.


Why AG?

It was a very odd feeling walking around AG and chatting with the various people that I still know. On one hand, I have made the decision to follow my goal all along; on the other hand, I am witnessing what I will miss out on.

For many people, returning to the old firm usually means visiting a few people here and there. For me and AG, it's from the CEO to the analyst that I helped hire out of undergraduate. It's no surprise that I spend a whole day at AG every time I visit.

Perhaps I will do this for shmoo... why AG is the right firm.

For any consulting firm, it starts from the people. Obviously, they are all nice people: friendly, helpful, driven, sharp, smart, etc etc. With a mix of PhDs and MBAs, AG avoids the typical cut throat career path that many other consulting embrace. It's a very intellectual/ academic/ collegial place to work. Everybody seems to be having fun and enjoying life.

Workwise, fundamentally, all AG hires like to do problem solving with the data at hand. Because of the nature of the work (consulting for law suites), there is very little pressure to find an answer to please. Rather, it's finding the right answer and doing it correctly. Highly intellectual yet not too much pressure from the clients. I would venture to say that dollar per pressure is very very high among the similarly paid.

So why am I not heading back? Because the location (Boston) isn't right now. More importantly, which brings me back to the nice things about AG, is that the door is always open for me to return.

Needless to say, I'm very grateful for what AG has done for me the person and my career. It's sad to walk around the Boston office saying "I'm not coming back" and goodbye to people that I truly care about. Yet, I'm very happy that I went through AG in my life. For every thank you I received from AG, I also want to thank them back. It was a great run.


Boston Review

Picture from Carlton Hill, Edinburgh...

Someone doesn't like me mentioning Oishii... I wonder who he/she is... man, it makes me hungry just thinking about it. Other things that make me hungry are all the places I got wined and dined at this weekend. Oh, Boston, how I miss you; nostalgic again; Boston is a pretty nice city when it's warm... which was odd given that it's already December. Anyway, the important stuff... chronologically:

Grafton Street - yummy recommendation from the cooking stories. She never disappoints. The seafood was excellent: I ordered a pan seared salmon that was cooked to perfection while cooking stories ordered a scallop dish that was so good it beat my dish. Good start to the food in Boston. The dessert menu included pecan pie... but somehow we resisted that temptation. Passing by Bartley's was cool too, I smelled the grease and was almost tempted to go in for a burger and a milk shake. Oh, the milk shake. It was closed, so I saved my body a little bit.

Mentei - lunch with an old friend. This little noodle shop is tucked away in the middle of Newbury Street (if that's possible) and is always popular with Japanese students in the area. Excellent noodles as usual. The pork cutlet was excellent, and the noodles were nice, although the soup base was a bit salty towards the end.

Oishii - sorry, I can't resist. But... I also wanted to clarify a bit that my dinner, while excellent, was not as good as I expected. The fatty tuna sashimi made my day, but I have to say the other items were not as good as I remembered.

The Palm - although The Palm is everywhere (there's one right beside my home), I've never been there. The lunch didn't disappoint at all. I took a sliced tenderloin that turned out quite surprising. The sauce was some peppercorn variation and it complimented the beef very well. The "The Palm's Famous Cheesecake" was the common choice over the other dessert option and it was very good. The slightly sweet crust was expecially tasty.

Fleming Steakhouse - Supposingly the best steak in Boston, they served a medium to me rather than the mediem rare that I wanted. Didn't complain or ask for a change. Anyway, even the medium steak was pretty good. At the end, I took a slice of medium rare and that was much better. Arg. Should have asked for a change. As a result, I can't comment on the steak; my imagination says it's really really good. Is it Gibson good...? Have to compare on dessert.

Dessert was interesting... I ordered the creme brulee, still my personal measuring standard for steak house dessert. (Shula's still has the best - from 3 years ago) And had a great discussion with one of the offerees on the quality of this one. We agreed on everything: the creme was too think and the crust was not heated enough for the sugar to melt, resulting in little sugar crystals getting stuck in between our teeth. Needless to say, my current comparison places Gibson's over Felming.

But this brings me to another point. I love having food with other people who appreciate food. I'm no food expert or connoisseur (maybe just on a few food items), but having the creme burlee discussion with the other offeree was fun. Maybe it's too hard on the food, but at least someone knew how to evaluate the food we were eating and not blindly submitting to the price.



Oishii... finally, I come back to you. I had so much sushi I had food coma. Ironically, really not the best result from having sushi. Oh well. It was good. Especially the fatty tuna sashimi... it melted in my mouth. The spider roll was a little disappointing, though the taco sushi more than made up for it. There's a South End version of Oishii as well, but I really just wanted to go to the old place where I met Teddy Bruschi. Good times, good times. Maybe if I have a chance I will go to the South End Oishii... but for now, let me sleep in food coma.

Twas a great day in Boston.


This blog entry is a result of accidents

I almost didn’t catch my flight to Boston. Almost. Instead, I barely made it and I have a story to tell. With a flight at 1:55pm, I never worried when I called for a cab at 12:00pm going from the GSB campus in Hyde Park to O’Hare. It was a 45 minute ride max. I would be in O’Hare by 1:00pm. Perfect plan, as always. Here’s what transpired:

1200: called cab, sit comfortably in the GSB lounge, chatting with a friend
1215: nobody called back to confirm a cab… getting nervous and walked outside to call cab company…
1216: “Your call is very important to us; the next available representative will answer your call”
1217: “Your call is very important to us; the next available representative will answer your call”
1225: I spotted a cab, not from the company I called, wandering around the campus entrance. This never happens. I quickly flagged it down – it was indeed available! This is my lucky day.
1245: Hitting traffic on I-90/94. No sweat… mostly cus I’m sound asleep in the cab.
1308: Arriving at O’Hare. $58 cab ride. Thank you, Bain.
1315: Cab driver still trying to get the credit card thingy to work. Meanwhile, I’m getting nervous.
1316: still trying… life is a funny thing: if it weren’t for this cab wandering in front of the GSB, I would have never made it in time, and I would have come to terms while on the cab. Instead, here I am with a ray of hope, and THE CREDIT CARD READER DOESN’T WORK. Ahhhh.
1320: Finally. That took freaking FIVE minutes. Proceeding to check in counters.
1321: New security rules say that liquid cannot be carried onboard. There’s a ridiculous 3-1-1 rule that has absolutely no point but to boost the sales of zip-locks. Anyway, since my hair gel and tooth paste are in violation of safety regulations (too big), I obediently line up to check in my bag. Meanwhile, a man is arguing with a United agent about his delayed flight and that he’d rather drive to Milwaukee. Drive, brother, don’t hold up the line. Arg.
1325: E-ticket machine won’t take my credit card at all. Visa, AE, Chase Debit card. Nothing. Frustrated, I ask a United person why… “sir, please calm down” was all I got. Results, lady, results.
1328: Good, the next machine reads credit cards. “Are you going to Boston” Yes. “You cannot check into your flight now. Would you like to view other flight options?” WHAT? I can’t check in!? Another United person says I can’t check in because there’s a 45 minute cut off. Damn.
1330: I mindlessly book myself on the next flight at 4:00pm (A lot of waiting… and a $25 charge. I wonder if Bain pays for these mistakes. I wonder if they’d still pay if they read this.) and somehow formulated a backup plan. I would NOT check in my bags, try and get through security, sacrifice hair gel and tooth paste, and try and hop onto my original 1:55 pm flight. This could work. Maybe I can put the tooth paste in my pocket and try and get through.
1331: Okay, I will execute this plan.
1332: Long security line with a bottle neck at the ID stage! Even he who almost failed operations knows you need one more server at the check ID stage! That should never be the bottleneck! All the X-Ray guys are idle! Why do I keep using exclamation marks!? 23 minutes before take off.
1336: There are three lanes. I lined up behind a family that seemed to have fed all their belongings into the X-Ray. Always a good sign. I unload my laptop and start feeding mine in too… except that the security kept wanting the kid to take off his bracelet and the mother had a hard time convincing the kid to take it off. Alerted, I immediately pulled my half fed bag out from the X-Ray feed (believe me, it was that dramatic) and moved to the next line where there’s a man in front. Like I said before, life is a funny thing: if it weren’t for the inefficient ID-check, I wouldn’t have the chance to change lines at X-Ray since the lines would have been full.
1338: Oooo… I forgot about hiding my hair gel and toothpaste. Oh well. Everything is going into X-Ray. Wow, nobody said anything. I’ve been stopped twice before and forced to check in my bags. Not this time. This particular security line was very lax and mostly falling asleep, unlike the person in the next line who gave the kid a hard time.
1340: I’m through! With my hair gel and toothpaste. AND THE BOSTON FLIGHT IS AT THE GATE RIGHT ACROSS FROM SECURITY! Sweet Jesus, this IS my lucky day.
1341: NOT (Borat, you have revived this “joke”). There was nobody at the counter but a lady at the gate. I quickly went over and asked if I could get onto this flight. “Sir, I’m sorry, I’ve signed off from this gate.” I’m on the 4:00 pm flight and would really appreciate not having to wait… “Let me see what I can do.” Thank you so much, I’m sorry I’m so last minute. “That’s okay, sir…”
1345: She’s typing while I’m sweating. I’ve come so far to be so close. Please let me… “Sir, you’re at 21A, we have to close the gates now” THANK YOU!
1346: I just fastened my seatbelts when the flight attendant announced that they were closing the doors and all electronic devices should be turned off.

Phew. That was a close call. Literally everything had to go right and go wrong for me to be on the plane typing up this blog entry. The original cab had to forget about me (who knows how long it would have taken them). The alternative cab had to wander around Hyde Park looking for business, a very rare occurrence. The credit card reader had to malfunction (to create drama for the blog). The E-ticket reader had to malfunction (more drama). The ID lady had to be slow (to create the possibility of switching from a strict security lane to a lax one). The security lane had to be lax (if they asked to see my luggage and take out the hair gel and toothpaste, I don’t think I would have made it even though I was ready to sacrifice them). The gate had to be right in front of security. The lady had to be there.

What can I say… everything thing had to be perfect for me to get on this flight! Sort of like many other things in life. Circumstances are very important. You can call it luck or whatever. I call it results-oriented good thinking plus a lot of luck.

Boston. Oishi. Here I come. (This was written on the airplane and posted a day later due to lack of internet)



Just finished Jeffrey Sach's "The End of Poverty," an aggressive plan laid out to terminate extreme poverty by 2025. Hmm... looking back at my blog, I started this book around mid September! Business school, you are evil.

I liked the book a lot. These types of book - as in the simplified economics / common sense / academic types - are quite prevalent in the market lately. For a person like myself, with some economic training, they are a delite to read. Not only do I understand most of the methodologies and approach, but I also can scrutinize the book with some confidence.

Back to the book. I believe in the solution Sachs has suggested. It is very comprehensive and it has proven to work in other previously struggling countries. The real question is, as he has clearly laid out, whether the donors will have enough faith in the effectiveness of the money given. Here, he credits U2 singer Bono for ingesting faith into politicians and different sections and making them believe in the solution.

Relating to what we learn in business school, this is the relationship side of business, the soft side, the LEAD side. Too often among the MBA ranks are people who are results-only-driven... which is great, we should all be results-driven; but we shouldn't forget about the soft skills. Results matter, which is why economists such as Jeffrey Sachs is retained to do developmental work again and again. Soft side also matters, which is why Sachs would have never succeeded without te help of Bono. Even Sachs acknowledges that. Results results results... but also relationships.

Read the book. At least know that there is a solution for all the bad things happening around the world, and all the good things that could happen.


Almost done with Edinburgh

It's kind of weird that I've spent more time in Dublin and Edinburgh than I have at Exeter. Maybe the inner me is just rebelling against my former colonial masters. Despite all the warning of awful weather and chilling winds in Ediburgh, I have found the city a very charming and classical city. The only complain is food, though I've been warned of that many times. Haggis and Black Pudding. That's all you need to know.

Will return to Chicago Monday night, skiving my Corp Fin class (it's a Scottish word, don't ask...).

Can't wait to go to Boston next. Also can't wait for Corp Fin finals to roll around. Also can't wait for the ski trip. And Galapagos. And then I can look forward to being broke. I love the life of an MBA.


It's Break Time!

Oh, it's so nice to finally reach Thanksgiving Break. I'm heading to Scotland to visit my little brother before I can no longer understand his English. I have no idea what I will be doing in Scotland, as the last few days have been littered with study groups, final projects, and general (though destined to fail) catching up with classes. I'm ready for Whiskey, with a capital W.

(for the curious, I'm in Atlanta right now waiting for my transfer; also doing my corp fin homework, negotiations final project, and org change final presentation)

In a recent email to a friend, I claimed that I have accomplished my target with regards to business school. It's true. In my application to the GSB (two freaking years ago!!??), I said I wanted to end up in Hong Kong as a strategy consultant after my MBA. Within weeks of my GSB experience, I said I liked Bain the most. I also said I wanted to be a student leader for an Asian club and lead a visiting trip back to Asia.

There were many more targets that I set. Somehow, I have almost accomplished them all. Yet, this has been a strangely unsatisfying quarter for me. There were up times (conference) and down times (post-conference). Up times I wrap myself in work and labor on. Down times I watch TV and sit on the couch. So now, my blog consists of food and movie reviews... which isn't a bad thing, I guess. But... as I wrote in the same email, the lack of a target in life is frustrating.

My friend said "congrats," as in congrats that you've met all your targets. I guess I should look at it that way!


Quick reviews...

2R and I went to brunch at Julius Meinl last Sunday. A classmate of ours went and kept drooling for the rest of the day. As a rule, I like to drool for the rest of the day.

Lovely place to start the week. The crepes were delicious but I wish we ordered the baked eggs. It looked so good from two tables away. We shared a chocolate molten cake for dessert. It was pretty good, but not Finale good. mmmm... Finale... can add that to Oishi for my Boston trip. Should have had the fresh pastries... especially the mango tart. Highly recommended. I need to plan a trip back.

Last night, I saw Borat with CL, R, 2Y and her husband. Should I even honor it with a review...? Sure, maybe a few words. It was a good movie if you can appreciate the irony that the actor is trying so hard to convey. A really bad movie if you focus on the god-awful jokes. Having said that, I have never laughed so hard during a movie. I think my face muscles still hurt. High five. Yes, I did appreciate the irony. Now let me get rid of that visual (oh, you know what I'm talking about... if you've seen the movie). Damn it, it's imprinted in my visual cortex. Go away! GO AWAY!


The Answer is No

I didn't remember any parts of my dream, besides the fact that I did have one.


Milton Friedman died last week. Professor Gary Becker can do a much much much better job remembering the great Chicago economist. I highly encourage you to read it. As for my comments, I'd just want to apply this to things that I deal with.

In general, the GSB works like a free market in many aspects. The bidding system (arg), the flexibility of classes, the freedom and non-funding of student groups, the membership fees student group charges, the freedom to choose your own study group, public information on professor ratings, etc etc. The idea is that the ultimate user of the MBA (i.e. that would be me and my colleagues) will know what is best for him or her. The individual will act according to incentives offered and results he or she wants to achieve.

And in general, I believe that the market works as well. The students know best. Provide the path(s) and the tools to walk the path(s)... and the students will do the rest according to their incentives and preferences. But then of course there are many big egos in the school who think they know what's best for all the others. Sometimes, they are right; other times, they are wrong. For the few who try to provide tools, paths, and also the not-so-subtle push that you should follow my lead or else you will drown, I say think about Milton Friedman. You might be right about some points, but at the end it's up to the individual.

I have just formed a positive correlation between me being bothered and me remembering my dreams. Lately, I've been remembering my dreams. Some of them were really really weird (along the lines of shit in a bathtub... not good) too. Anyway, I'm going to sleep... I will let you know if I remember my dream in a few hours.

I'm slowly linking names and faces to blogs. Slowly. Look, I'm not that perceptive, okay?


Do I blog too much?

Maybe I do, even if I have to make that question the title of a blog.

Yesterday was Bain's presentation. I am officially on the other side of the table now. First years forming circles around me. Presentation was quite interesting, but let's just cut to the chase: dinner.

Dinner was at Vivo. The 2nd year Bain Greater China presentation was also at this restaurant earlier in the quarter. They had really good h'orderves (why can't I find the right spelling for this word on the internet!?) . I chose a Ceasar salad (decent croutons), a pork chop entree (more on this later), and a cheesecake (decent).

It got me thinking. What the hell happened to pork as an entree. I honestly cannot remember the last time I had pork chop as an entree. Pork of course comes in all forms: sausage, bacon, ham, burgers, dim sum, etc etc. But as an entree, it has been completely eclipsed by beef, chicken, and all types of seafood. But for ribs, I guess... but even ribs are mostly from a cow rather than a pig. Weird. What happened to all those pig meat? It can't just all become mystery meat, right? Right!?

Well done pork will always taste drier than the alternatives, so I suppose the drop in popularity makes sense. Nonetheless, I enjoyed my pork chop very much as I knived through the bones. I'm craving some steak and sushi now. Will be in Boston (thank you, Bain!) in a few weeks. Oiishi. Oiishi. Oiishi.



Yet another movie we have to watch for class. Okay, second one. This time it was 12 Angry Men, a black and white classic from 1957 which was nominated for 3 Oscars including Best Picture and Best Director. "Per usual," since I couldn't make the scheduled screening, and PP offered again to show the movie at her place, I jumped at the offer. This time it was redemption for PP. She did a great job, all the way to the yummy popcorn that probably took a whole 3 hours off my life. =)

Great movie... especially for some of my MBA colleagues. Right now, I'm not sure if I want to talk about the movie more or about people who should watch this movie. Alright, I'll play nice. The movie was very good. The simplicity of the premise and the focus on dialogue made it very intriguing. Basically a story about 12 opinionated people and how they got influenced. Spectacular material for management training. The greatest thing about the movie was that it accurately portrayed 12 different types of personalities, motivations, and think process. So you can observe each of the men make their decisions.

The biggest lesson (uh-oh, this brings me back to the MBAs who needs to watch this movie) from the movie is that having a strong opinion and wanting to be the alpha dog is not what inspires and influences people. It is about being in good faith and using a non-confrontational argument. Why is this particularly useful for MBAs? Because in the real world of working, you'll have a boss or you'll be the boss of someone. But in an MBA, we are all equals. Some people don't seem to realize that...

Anyway, went to a new dinning place De La Costa; so new that cityseach doesn't have them listed yet and that there is no official website (!?) yet. Last Friday's LPF was there, and the snacks were great. Not quite good enough to forget the walk there though: we were battered by wind and rain and cold... anyway, so that's the reason I never wrote about it. Oh the trauma of being bowled over by wind and soaked by horizontal rain.

Anyway, CL and I decided to head back there for some real food. Much better night to walk there this time. The food was even better than the snacks. We have a Peruvian / Ecuadorian seafood appetizer, a Tuna tartar cold tapas, and two hot Southern American starters. Yummy stuff. I especially liked the lamb chop and the raw scallops. Next time I will go and try some of the entries and dessert. (Instead, I'm having Ben and Jerry's: Coffee Heath Bar all the way.)


Stranger than Fiction

Friday's LPF was hosted by the alumni office and was held downtown. It was really bad weather out and we made the really really really really really bad decision of walking over from Columbus Plaza. Should have just drove there and parked illegally - the police can't give any tickets cus they won't be able to stand anyway. Usually a 10 minute walk, we took 30 minutes to get there. Drenched in water and completely miserable, we were denied entry to the party room and settled for hanging out near the kitchen and grabbing the snacks as they came out. Food was good, situation was not.

Eventually, we got in and hung out and decided that we needed real food followed by a movie. Stranger than Fiction, a movie about a tax agent trying to avoid certain death, narrated to him by an unsuspecting author suffering from writer's block, was the choice.

It was a pretty good movie. Characters were likable and borderline adorable. The irony is, of course, is that the movie presents several scenarios that taxes and deaths can indeed be avoided. Taxes - hire an ex-IRS agent. heh heh. Death - face it with a reason to live. With the courage to look death in the eye (ops... just made a phone call to sign and deliver myself to Bain Hong Kong... back to the blog), his life was spared. Oh... I'm not trying to link accepting offers to looking death in the eye.

Damn, I hate it when I'm so easily distracted. Stranger than Fiction. Will Farrel accepted the inevitable and then lived life the way life should be lived - in companion and with purpose. That is how you avoid meaningless death. On the flip side, I guess, is when companionship and purpose is lost, a meaningless death is probably meaningful.

Yet I drift.


Top Dings

Some from my own experience... some from others... rest be assured, the last one is the inspiration for this post.

10. Ding before interview - it's quite a bruise to the ego when a firm doesn't even want to interview you. On the bright side, you will be stressed for two less days in your life. Suggested solution: carry a chip on your shoulder, bash the firm, bash their prospective interviewees, employees, Gary Sheffield style.

9. Phone call ding - what is the most common ding method is also the most dreaded. The phone call starts innocently with a "hi, how are you doing?" Meanwhile, you are screaming inside. Wait, is this the partner calling? That's good news, right? HR person!? Not good. Just tell me the freaking answer! Don't tell me how great I was during the interview. Seriously, don't. Yes or no, that's all I need (want) to know. Suggested solution: "I'm doing well, do I have a/an second round interview/offer?"

8. Email ding - cold but direct. One firm apologized about the impersonal nature of an email ding and then dinged me. Thanks for the apology, very considerate. At least when you see the email pop up from the recruiter, you know what's up. Suggested solution: apologize for emailing to say thank you for the email ding. It's quite impersonal to thank someone in email.

7. Ding squared - a mis-communication means two different people pour salt in your wounds. Hopefully they are close enough; else you'll be in a confused state and wondering if the first one was real. (Don't worry, the second one is) Also, it's not like you can tell the second ding that you've already received your ding. You have to be gracious in (second) defeat. Suggested solution: there is none; they obviously need to get coordinated. Since you aren't hired, there's nothing you can do about it.

6. Ding after the fact - you wait and wait after your first interview... meanwhile, people are getting second rounds, second round dings, and offers. And you are still waiting, and waiting, until you finally get the #9 email ding (cus the interviewer already forgot about you, hence the HR person sending the email). Waiting for the inevitable is not cool. Suggested solution: when people are going to second rounds, call to ask if they missed your name for second rounds.

5. Ding during the interview - ever been promised 2 interviewers and after the first one, you are told that the interview is over, thanks for coming, and that you'll hear from us later this week? That's the ding during the interview... bless the poor soul who thinks he or she has blown away the first interviewer and is a lock for seconds. Suggested solution: face it, you've been defeated. Or play dumb and ask where the second interview is... just so you can taste defeat again. You have to wonder, however, what the answer could be?

4. Ding on the way to the airport - almost just as brutal as #5. Basically, a minute after your interview, they've decided you need 20 more minutes to digest how badly you did. Nothing you did gave them anything good to think about. Suggested solution: upgrade to business class... or take an extra excursion to explore the city. Save all receipts. ALL of them.

3. The silent ding - they never called back. Surely you are on the waitlist. Surely they are still considering. Surely you have a chance. Surely... they've forgotten about you. Suggested solution: give them the silent ding. Don't even tell them you are not considering them. Take THAT.

2. Ding without applying - you just got dinged by a firm that you aren't even interested in. So many whys... but none bigger than "why didn't I apply in the first place so I get a real ding?" Either that, or "maybe I accidentally applied after TNDC?" Completely inexplicable. Suggested solution: tell them you didn't apply, but you would like to apply now; send them your unedited non-targeted resume, just so they can repeat the process. Then place odds on which ding (#10 to #3) you will receive.

1. Ding before interview after ding after interview - in order to solve this complicated situation, start from the end: after an interview, you get dinged (ding after interview); after that ding, you get another ding. Only that this isn't the ding squared (#7). This ding is saying that your resume wasn't good enough for an interview (hence ding before interview). Should you be humored or should you be angry? I haven't quite figured this one out yet. Should you let the second dinger know that you've already interviewed? Should the second dinger be introduced to either your interviewer or the first dinger? Suggested solution: write a blog entry about the various dings.



Well... I'm waiting for some pictures... then I'll have a post on threesomes. mmmm... pictures...

Per my LEAD class, I just want to set the expectation right. Shmoo, it's not about negotiations. EP, hold on to your pants. I've discussed the threesomes in my prior posts. You might find them in separate posts. And no, this isn't a ploy to get you to read all my posts.

Just wait.


Cold call...

At first, I wanted to talk about a threesome... but since I got cold called as I was typing about it in class, I will delay my rant on threesomes. Your lost. I blame corp fin. You should too.

Nah, just kidding, but knowing me, you should know that I think about threesomes all the time - which includes class time in corp fin. Anyway, will discuss (my) threesome another day. mmm... can't wait.

So today in Corp Fin, I was drifting in and out. Part of it was that the case was rather boring. Part of it was that there were many silly questions that the professor took way too seriously. This particular corp fin class has never been big in cold calling. Occasionally, there will be a "Anyone? Anyone? Anyone?" moment, but even those won't materialize into a "What do you think, Mr. Bueller?" moment. The professor usually answers his own questions. People had their laptops on and nobody gave them a hard time. No consequences anyway.

So when a cold call came attacking a student with a laptop on in the back row, it raised some eyebrows. Then again, the "sorry, I wasn't paying attention" and "that's okay, how about you, what do you think" exchange doesn't really raise red flags for the innocent MBAs.

Therefore, I was very surprised when the professor asked what I thought about the... (flipping through classnotes to recall what the question was. here it is) risk shifting for our star client in a typical HBS case. I was drifting, but I was looking straight at him, my laptop closed, my notes opened, etc etc. WHY ME!? What did I do? We may never know... but here was our exchange (thoughts):

Prof: So, Eric, what do you think?
Eric: (what the...!?) Um... let me see...
Prof: (stare down)
Eric: Risk shifting isn't a big problem
Prof: Ooookay. Why?
Eric: (#!@&%!) Well, our team didn't really discuss this issue, but... (buying time to reach into my behind for some answers)
Prof: That's alright... (stare down)
Eric: Because our client has historically not taken part in risky projects (keep buying time for nothing in particular), and there's no evidence of it doing so after the deal. (Time buying successful) blah blah blah, blah blah blah.
Prof: That is absolutely correct. (shifting focus to himself) blah blah blah, blah blah blah.

Of course, my blah blah blah and his blah blah blah were a bit different. But that time buying definitely felt like eternity. Back with a threesome soon. =)


The Smile

You know that moment when you are looking inside yourself and reflecting, and then your face smiles in reaction? I had that moment last night, seconds after saying goodbye to KL, a very good friend from my Tufts days.

KL and I go way back. In fact, she was literally the first person I met in orientation. I often wonder whether the two of us would have become good friends if we didn't meet the first day in school. It was good that we did. Last time we saw each other was in Boston, when she was visiting for a conference; that was probably 2 years ago. She used to be based in DC and is now in NYC... which is where I am now. I traveled to NYC for an interview with xxx consulting firm. Finished my last interview (for my MBA career!) this morning. As usual, could have done better on the case, overall decent interview, looking forward to hearing their assessment of me. Anyway, this post is not about jobs or interviews.

Once I knew I was going to NYC, I immediately pulled out the address book and figure out whom I should meet in NYC. KL was number one. We probably need three days to catch up but this was going to be limited to a meal. Sigh. On the brighter side, KL studied food (she was a nuclear specialist before - talk about career change!) in NYC. So I knew I could count on her to make the right reservations.

Damn, I can't resist to talk about food. I'll get back to the smile after talking food... which also brings a smile. I had requested Japanese sushi since Chicago has no decent yellow food and has no fresh seafood. KL recommended Sushi Yasuda; we made a 630 reservation and got there slightly late. This is what NYC does to people: I was worried that the snobby restaurant receptionist had already given our table (two week advance reservations... 630 was the only one left) to desperate New Yorkers who indulge sushi. Table still there. On to the food... hmm... how to put it? It was freaking great. Especially the sashimi. The tuna was great - and it kept me wondering about the fatty tuna. Here's the biggest difference between sushi in NYC vs. sushi elsewhere: NYC sushi places serve authentic sushi. None of that Dragon Roll crap. Not that fusion Japanese is bad, but they seem to have become the only sushi on Japanese restaurant menus. Not good times. Yasuda was back to the basics and very authentic sushi. I'm still thinking about the tuna sashimi.

Okay, back to The Smile. KL and I finished dinner and wandered over to Rockefeller Center to grab dessert. There were two restaurants that were in the basement that gave a lateral view of the ice skating rink. So we sat down, ordered two $15 whiskey (Irish, awesome stuff... KL knows her food and drinks, what can I say) and an apple strudel, and sat there and chat. Chat and chat and chat. Catching up is a funny thing: it seemed like yesterday that we sat down and caught up. So much has happened yet so little was missed... and so much has changed.

The details of the conversation would perhaps bore you; but for KL and myself, it was long due. Anyway, at the end, we both had to be places. I needed to sleep to be ready for the interview; she needed to be home. I walked her to the subways, gave her a big hug, and said goodbye. A pity we don't have more time, I said. Yes, but I'll see you next year, she replied.

And with that, a smile on my face as I headed towards the hotel.


Burma and Lenovo

On the surface, you'd think Burma and Lenovo have nothing to do with each other. Oh, but they do! Allow me to illustrate:

The other day, I received a postcard from Burma, a.k.a. Myanmar - I'm not really sure which is more familiar to you, but Burma it is for me. Mom the travel agent was invited by the Burmese government to visit the great country of Burma to look at their tourism and hopefully help the country... which is ironic because Burma actually limits the number of tourists allowed each year. Anyway, it was a nice postcard of a cave with Buddhas in it. Curious about efficiency at a 3rd - some would argue 4th - world country, I looked at the post dates. Mom mailed it off October 1st. I received it October 27th.

The connection between Burma and Lenovo?

Well... I ordered a Lenovo T60 on October 10th. ALMOST forgot about it. Until the Burma postcard came. "Wait a minute... didn't I order a computer right when my mom mailed this postcard...!?" were the words that went through my mind when I read the postcard date. Not that I really needed a new laptop; the old one had problems: it can't shut down - must be done manually, takes 3 minutes to boot up, can't press anything during those 3 minutes, the mouse pad sometimes doesn't work, multiple programs will freeze the computer, and, lately, "corrupted personal profile," which I was able to fix somehow. But they were fatal. So there was no urgency. Probably why I sort of forgot about the order almost. Could it be possible that Lenovo's assembling a computer and then mailing it to me would take longer than a postcard!?

Alas, Lenovo barely beat Burmese post offices. I received in November 2nd. A bit more than 3 weeks, compared the the 4 week delivery of a Burmese postcard.


The Departed

Finally, I watched the much heralded mob movie. Based on a the Hong Kong hit Infernal Affairs (無間道), The Departed is about informants in the Southi