Looking Ahead

Here are some of the latest comments I've received on my blog:
"Your blog has become a food blog...!"
"Who are your dates? Send me a picture!"
"Are you still studying at Chicago?"

The answer to the last is "yes". And I'm looking ahead for the next few weeks and feeling the big hurt: 14-pager of personal strategy (don't ask, I don't know) that counts for 40% of my grade, a take home final that's worth 50%, two marketing projects together worth 40%, and the new venture lab class that I am auditing, of which I hold a responsibility to my teammates.

Not good times. I don't know what exactly happened this quarter; I've been very busy all the time but not very stressed out. Perhaps the stress will come in a few days.

I like most of my classes this quarter. The audit New Venture Lab has been very rewarding, albeit a little discouraging when I learn more about our entrepreneur's business. The marketing channel class has potential if the class time was halved and more advance issues are discussed. The private equity class has opened new windows for me... and also opened windows for a potential C.

I have mixed feelings for the Business Policy class: for the most part, this is the most inspiring class I've taken at the GSB; at times, I feel that the class is a drag. It's inspiring because Professor Davis seeks to provoke thought. His methods are a bit unconventional (including listening to a Jazz band perform improv to teach creativity) but entertaining. If you listen carefully and keep linking his lectures to your life experiences, you will find more meaning in your life and hopefully help you be more aware of your own adventures.


GSB Rumor Mills

GSB rumor mills are always fun. Obviously there's the Big V rumor since the start of the school year. I was probably one of the last to know so there was no guessing involved. The latest rumor of a person getting arrested after the Winter Formal, however, has taken a life of its own. In our marketing channel study group, we started to list clues of who the person might be. So much for studying. Today at DimSum, we were discussing the various stories that happened. So far, I've heard consistent descriptions of the person and different versions of what happened. As a result, we've commissioned BlogSat to investigate. I expect a SOAR analysis.

Anyway, some random thoughts:

Heat is an awesome movie and Robert De Niro is really good. Oh, and the federal agent in Prison Break and President Palmer in 24 is also in Heat. It's on TNT, I can't help it. Good stuff. I've posted about 24 before here and here. Prison Break will deserve its own post soon.

Shmoo's comments on me having TWO smoking hot dates solicited a comment from one of the two smoking hot dates. Either she's oblivious to the fact that she's smoking hot or she's oblivious to the fact that she was hanging out with me for a long time... or she's silly. Actually, the more I think about it, she's just oblivious in general. haha.

We seek advice from all sorts of friends all the time. Questions on career, academic, relationships, family, friends, etc etc. How serious should one take advice from other people? I'm thinking this because, one, I give advice all the time and I find myself wondering whether people take my advice seriously, and, two, I have been the subject of advice lately and I find those advices sometimes questionable and hurtful. Which circles back to the advice I give people: maybe I give advice that hurts others too.

Or... I just think too much.


Chinese New Year

Sadly, this picture is the only thing Chinese about my Chinese New Year this year. Chinese New Year coincided with the GSB Winter Formal. Being a member of the Greater China Club, I got a $30 discount off the $80 ticket price. Also, I didn't have to rent a tux because traditional Chinese outfits would qualify as formal. All hail being cheap! I'm in.

Turns out I wasn't the only cheap Chinese. haha. Just kidding. We had a great time. This picture obviously was the most fun with myself, CI, CC, and CM. Otherwise, not many highlights from the night: the facilities were great, date was smoking hot, music was okay, it was crowded, the booze was good, the food was half bad, and the sushi was downright scary - they came in three to four colors, including blue, yellow, purple, and white. Scary.

Rumor has it that someone got arrested after the Formal and someone was sent to the hospital. Who said Chicago MBAs are boring!?

The rest of Chinese New Year did not involve any Chinese food, which is highly unusual. I especially miss 年糕 (year cake). Sigh. Finally had some 餃子 (dumplings) on 年初五 (fifth day), which 2R told me was customary. Oh well, I guess this is, sadly, my best efforts. Double sigh.

By the way, I was told by some of my Asian friends at the GSB that it should be lunar new year, not Chinese New Year. I say for me, it's still Chinese New Year. But I'll try and call it lunar new year if the context is with other people.

I hate

When Tim Hardaway said he hates gay people, I was waiting for my car to arrive in the valet. I was shocked and, frankly, mortified. I'm more shocked at his stupidity than his views. Here's a former NBA player, fairly popular in his days (man, I miss the TMC), has been around media for a while, etc etc. How could he just go on radio and say such things!? Is he out of his mind?

Anyway, regardless of what you think of Tim Hardaway or his views, here's a great interview of Hardaway. I now have a bit more sympathy for him.


She who makes dessert

is the greatest classmate. And I apologize (please keep inviting me for the next dessert tasting) for forgetting to put that in the food review:

Rose shaped chocolate cake

Dessert platter with the above, banana sponge cake, and strawberry shortcake

Dessert platter again with creme brulee (my favorite), apple pie, and chocolate mousse cake

Someone asked me what is the most important take away from school. I say people, especially she who makes dessert. =)

Another restaurant I left out was Heaven on Seven. If you go with a party of six or more, you should definitely try the Slices of Heaven, consisting of eight different desserts from the restaurant, including pecan pie (another Josekin favorite), chocolate pecan pie, peanut butter pie, creme brulee, mud pie, some coconut thingy (not a big fan), and others I have now forgotten about.

This week I'm heading to Gibson's... their desserts are HUGE. Last time we had the turtle pie (one of my all time favorites, right behind Shula's creme brulee) and the six of us couldn't finish the dish.

Anyway... she who makes dessert is the best classmate. I will not return to private equity homework... with a very empty stomach.



Somehow, this has become a week of indulgence. Good times all around, though my mid section won't agree. To hell with the mid section (especially for you, MZ)... I'm gonna eat first and worry later.

Bandera - lunch on Capitalist Trap Day was excellent. I had a steak sandwich with hand cut freedom fries (oh, how easy we forget about the follies in our government). The steak sandwich was one of the best I've ever had. Having the radish on the side was a good idea too. However, the star of the meal is the Oreo Cookie Ice Cream Sandwich. A full stomach didn't stop me from devour that thing. Next time I go I will try some chicken - the rotisserie that we could see from the door looked very inviting. Verdict: can do a lot more times since it's so close to home.

The Tasting Room - I skipped dinner on Capitalist Trap Day (sorry, I can't resist; I'm not bitter; I just find it funny that we need one special day to proclaim our love for someone else; nope, I'm not bitter.) and went to The Tasting Room instead. Had a champagne flight - three glasses of reserve champagne - that was too good for me to recognize how good it was. There was also a couple making out on the sofa behind me that kept distracting our table. haha. The final damage was damaging though. Verdict: come with a real date instead of three other single people.

Erwin - after reading La Voyageur's blog, I've had this restaurant on my hit list. They only serve brunch on Sundays, so I've waited my fair share of time before finally being able to go. The place surprised me a little with the ambiance - just feels comfortable and happening, yet I can't really pinpoint what it is. It wasn't packed, which was surprising, but certainly welcoming for a cold Sunday morning. Anyway, the food was of course very good. La Voyageur talked about poached eggs, which I remembered wrongly as eggs benedict, so I ordered one. It was pretty good and the salmon on it was excellent. It got a bit cold towards the end of the meal though. Dessert was yet another ice cream sandwich. Good... but not Oreo. Verdict: I like the place more than the food, and the food was also pretty damn good. Oh, here are some pictures... the eggs benedict, crab cake, and ice cream sandwich. I should take more pictures of food.

Vermilion - 2R's birthday was at this Indian-Latin American fusion place. There were little stalls that they used red curtains to create some privacy. I didn't like them. To the food: the Indian style tapas was an excellent fusion dish. While fusion is generally good, it is not always great. Often the dish ends up in the middle of the two cuisines and some of the original tastes are lost. After ordering a lobster for entree, I said "I usually don't order lobsters outside of Boston because the standards are so high, but this is an award winning dish, so..." I can't remember which award it won, and I should really dig that list out, because I want to be a bit weary of it. The lobster was cooked too much and wasn't really tender. It didn't feel like seafood. The Indian sauce and Latin American condiments were pretty good, but the lobster and the coconut rice didn't really cut it. PP made a blueberry cheesecake that was pretty good. Vermilion's chocolate cake was a bit to much after the meal. Verdict: overrated by a bit, but a tapas based meal could be surprisingly good.



If you are using Google Reader, you won't see the map on the right of this post. Very interesting... someone from India, Vietnam, and middle of China is reading my blog.

Anyway, I wanted to bitch about the weather. All you in Chicago know it's cold, but yesterday really reminded me of Boston. Last winter I don't think I've used the shovel to dig. Yesterday, unfortunately, I did. It was quite a work out, damn it. Yup, I was digging a parking space for myself and then digging the car back out of that spot. In all honesty, it wasn't bad: only about 5 minutes of digging. It's just that I haven't done that in a while and it's frustrating to smell rubber burning.

Interestingly, our marketing channel class just went through the Goodyear Tire case. Mmmm... burning rubber.


V Day Special: Thoughts from Classes

I'm not sure if my recent deep thought mode is a function of free time or of inspirations from classes. I would like to believe that it's the latter. After all, I did spend $4,000 per class at the GSB, damn it. Anyway, here's my fake proof (to myself, really) that it's worth the ticket price.

A couple of days ago, I had an epiphany on why I will be single on Valentines Day (don't fall into the Capitalist trap!): funny Eric is what people come to like... but intense Eric is a bit much given the contrast. Just keep this in mind for a while...

Tuesday night was photography class on portraits. The assignment was to pick a picture that most represented the subject, who was a stranger to the photographer, and one that least represented the subject. Everybody in class would see the photo and answer the question "What does this picture say about this person?". Apparently, the three pictures of me represent many different characters and emotions. The enthusiastic and passionate Eric was the one I liked the most. The relaxed and easy going one was the one my photographer liked the best. In as simple a thing as a photograph, the different sides of me are actually quite evident.

Wednesday morning was Business Policy, which I talked about a lot in prior posts. The class was about creativity and how to harness it. But the part I liked the most is the theater of characters. Basically, you have five different sets of personalities: one that you show to the audience, one that you are uncomfortable showing to the audience, one that you don't show to the audience, one that the audience sees but you don't, and one that nobody knows about, not even yourself. Very inspiring for me. Perhaps by thinking about this more, I can "solve" my epiphany.

Anyway, that's about it for classes. I had a nice V-day get together with single people at the GSB. I sat there and thought that this is what business school is all about. Know your friends better and have a good time. We went through many interesting topics, including whom from our current class would you want to have dinner with in 20 years, whom you buy stock in, the new marketing campaign at the GSB, is love a feeling or experience, are student leaders self serving, would you rather have Bush (he went to HBS by the way) as a classmate or someone who is a true business school student, among others...

Was this a function of being single on Valentines Day? Or was it just a natural step in my maturation as a person? I don't know. But I do know this: the coincidental collision between my epiphany, two subsequent classes, and one night of conversation has helped me grow in the last 48 hours.

Oh well, while I'm on the virtue and worth of classes: The New Venture Lab class that I am auditing has three entrepreneur speakers... rather than describing my feelings, I thought two pictures would tell the whole story of entrepreneurs. (yes, I'm lazy)


Animal Planet and MBA

Well, it's come to my attention that Animal Planet is finally showing Massive Planet this Friday (Feb 16th) at 1:00 pm. I highly recommend it, as you can see from my previous posts here and here. There are lessons to be learned by MBAs there, I think, for better or worse... and of course this relates to my business policy class.

Anyway, just wanted to give that friendly reminder. I doubt I would be able to see it myself since I have group meetings then... arg.

Oh, this picture is from in front of the Art Institute. Da Bears. Post-SuperBore. Sadly, it gets more attention than the artwork inside the Art Institute. =)


Fun Picture

Now here's a picture that's fun, taken in 2Y's apartment. It's a little over-exposed, but it was fun to try different settings to get the best effect. This one was it, after 5 to 6 tries.

I was looking at this picture, and suddenly felt that it most represented my feelings in some of my classes, that I was sometimes there and sometimes not... but in general relaxed and happy while I was there. =)


Speed Dating

I'm sorry to tell you that I met neither Ms. Perfect nor Ms. Psycho-Bitch at speed dating. So unlike my counterpart CL, I don't have any crazy stories from the speed dating event at the GSB. Nonetheless, I can share some thoughts with you.

Here's how the whole deal works: there were 180 of us, half men and half women. I sit across from a gal for three minutes, and then I move five spots (more on this later) down and repeat the process with another gal. It's that simple.

Obviously, three minutes is a very short time and not enough to talk about anything significant. Hence when I get asked which year of business school I am in, or what concentration I am on track to get, or where I will be working, I get quite restless. Can we talk about food and traveling instead? Or music? Or movies? Or books? Anything but school and class, please.

And how many people asked me about class and school? All but three. Two were GSB gals whom I knew from before so we weren't limited to three minutes. One was a cool gal who liked to travel so we talked about that. I tell you, U of C does weird things to non-MBAs.

Since there were 90 pairs of men and women, one can't really meet everybody. Hence the "plus five spot" rule. It's a good way to get people moving around and tour the entire room... but, uh, there were certainly a few times when I wish it was a "plus four/six rule" instead.

Anyway, it's time for a top ten list: if I could do this again, I would...
10. ask the first question: what is your favorite food (courtesy of CS)... or if food isn't your thing, ask about the last movie she watched
9. not talk about Chicago weather
8. put some simple notes on the back of the sheet - by the end, I couldn't remember any names... not even the numbers, actually
7. let her talk... if this doesn't work, she's a keeper. heh heh.
6. write down all the numbers of everybody I met (save the psycho bitch). Since three minutes is too short, if you didn't feel like fleeing, it's probably okay. You need two sides to agree anyway.

If I were the organizer, I would...
5. offer some of the above advice to participants
4. organize a smaller event with pre-screening, so all dudes gets to meet all gals, and save those "I wish I was a plus four this time" feelings and help the guys focus on the task at hand rather than the lost opportunity next seat.
3. allow one "skip card"... I didn't need it, but I'm sure some did. You may have one guy whom all the gals uses the skip card on. He can then at least get a refund.
2. have multiple breaks that allow for more alcohol, and maybe some catch up time. Have an after party at a real bar / club.
1. allow one "change seat card" to be used - yeah, it would be controversial, but it'll also be hilarious...!


Interacting Parties Assignment

This is an exercise when we take pictures of no more than three people interacting. I guess the point of the exercise was to have the photographer get close to the subject and interact with the subject before taking pictures. I asked everybody whether I could take their picture before I did take their picture. Frustrating because a lot of them become very aware of my camera's existence. very difficult assignment.

Hamza was talking to Akshay when I took this picture. I go enough of a background to get a story told. I'm willing to sell this for him to put on I think it will generate some traffic, as well as rebut some anonymous comment about GSB boys. haha. How about it, Hamza?

Two first years (I think) in the Winter Garden. I really liked this picture because it was very sharp and the background was compelling. It's a classic Winter Garden shot during recruiting. You can also see shmoo in the background. Ops, did I blow your cover?

Helen and Sean discussing something with Sharron. I don't particularly like this picture. But I needed a picture that had three people interacting, and this was the closest one I could present. The contrast between Sean's jacket and Helen's sweater is nice. Helen's hands are funny and make a good story. The back shot of Sean also gives a sense of seriousness that also contrasts Helen... and it also shows that he is listening intently despite not seeing his face. The third person, Sharron, is not in the picture, but she is clearly involved in the picture, so I like that irony as well. The background was a little too soft for my tastes and it wasn't entirely clear where they were discussing.

Depth of Field Assignment

Depth of field is basically how much area near your subject remains in focus. This assignment is for us to understand the use of f-stops. I didn't really understand the assignment until after I submitted it. At least I knew afterwards. I did this exercise in HPC. There's much more to the the HPC than the Winter Garden, as I found out.

This is a picture with shallow depth of field. Only the first ball is in focus. As you can see, the focus was not on the number, due to my lack of experience. I used auto focus, which finds the contrast points; in this case, it was the edge of the first ball and the darker table. Should have used manual. Other feedback included using a larger f-stop and probably better arrangement of the balls. The background on top was distracting.

Lonely student walking across the deserted Winter Garden. I snapped this picture quickly without much thought since the person was going to get out of the center soon. Hence the composition was a little odd. The GSB flag was cut off and the reflection (I like not having the whole body reflected) was unintentional. Feedback included the nice symmetry of the furniture that led the eyes to the subject. This picture, however, missed the assignment objective. I wanted to show deep depth of field, but could only think of taking pictures at a distant to create it.

The sofa shot is my favorite. I like the contours created within the picture from the sofa and the staircase behind it. I actually knelt there for a while to try and get a good angle. I think this one is pretty good. Good contrast with the wood and sofa. Feedback was quite positive... mostly on the subtle lines that run through the picture. There was some overexposure on the sun reflection.

Shutter Speed Assignment

This is from our first photo assignment, which was to freeze motion and allow motion.

This is a picture from Cultural LPF at the GSB. Japanese students took lead in cultural LPF and did mochi pounding, traditionally done during new year celebrations.

I can't remember who was pounding it, but I do remember I deliberately avoided the person and focused on the real action.

Feedback (my favorite part of photo class, only because there are so many subtleties that I as the photographer don't even notice. But the critic's eye is much sharper): a bit far from the action since the hammer draws the attention yet it is small in the picture, or a bit too close for the audience cannot see the context of the action or the subject making the action, difficult to understand the story behind the photograph unless explained. Water bucket on the left a bit distracting.

Posted by Picasa

This is the picture that freezes motion. Personally, I didn't like this picture very much. Too much space, especially at the bottom. If I could get close the lower to take the picture, I would have. Feedback: the columns on the side compliment the picture a lot; I honestly cannot remember whether that was intentional, but it's gotta be since it fills the frame nicely. With everything straight in the background, the subject being tilted helps it stand out. Contrast is nice.



Someone asked me how my quarter was going... I gave it some thought, and this is all I could come up with: busy, but not stressful.

Some food for thought, from quotes from my Business Policy class (which, by the way, I described to a friend to day as "having flashes of brilliance, and then moments of boredom"):

"I have always found that if I could create an environment around me in which everyone felt that they were learning, I would have a hot group. I have always tried to include people in what I was doing, to encourage them..."

"What I am interested in doing is helping to create a kind of musical space. And I enter this space with my ideas, and all of my colleagues... with their ideas... in this space we find one another"

Being (very / too) involved in student activities, I see a lot of my colleagues in action in their respective leadership positions. Since the above quotes illustrate the golden standards for a leader (along with desire and vision) for me, I did a quick mental survey of my colleagues. I think a lot of them have a I-can-do-it-all mentality and lead by example. Not many lead through motivating others. Obviously it's difficult when you put together a bunch of alpha dogs together. But still... anyway, I strive to be that.

Meanwhile, I'm doing a case on Pizza Hut on their channel strategy. SO HUNGWY.

Doing a very interesting photography project now. Will share results. Also, I've had some favorite pictures from my class. They are all on my CDs, so it will take some time before I get them here. Meanwhile, here's picture I took from a one-year olds birthday party. Who said GSB doesn't have cute girls!?



SuperBowl was boring. You can never guarantee the quality of the game, but the American advertising world usually makes sure you have a good time with the ads. Unfortunately, not this year. (BSLW, you didn't miss much) I have two suggestions:

1. Segment the ads into offends a stereotype and PC / doesn't offend a stereotype; pick half from each segment.
2. Ban car ads... and ban exclusive advertising rights to one beer.

The game itself was alright with a thrilling first quarter and somewhat thrilling second quarter. The second half I could have slept through.

But the ultimate highlight is of course the first time Wing Squad did their work outside of Boston. Three of them flew in from Boston and one from San Francisco, plus spectators. You know all those college debacles which forever gets discussed whenever you and your buddies meet up? Except that the first few minutes you feel kind of awkward bringing it up because it was so embarrassing and you haven't seen your buddies for a while? Well, it took all of 10 minutes to make the first "he peed on your bag" joke (don't ask). And then all the good (and bad) times started to pour out. I love college.

Wings were from House of Wing (singular...) and were quite small, contrary to the Wing Work Wings which feature mutated chicken, tumorous wings, and hair. I miss Wing Works. Anyway, we each ate 30 and accomplished the mission. No struggle though, which usually becomes the highlight of the SuperBowl when the game slows down.

Next year, I will be in Hong Kong during SuperBowl... maybe I should fly to Boston for the game.

By the way, Chicago is below zero degrees (-18 Celsius) today. It's been like this for a solid week. Outside my apartment on the bridge? Probably -15 degrees windchill (-25 Celsius). I need a beach for Spring Break.


The Fortune Cookie says...

"An intriguing new romantic interest cheers you up."

Amen. Just in time for speed dating, Valentines Day, and Winter Formal. Yay!

And since first years are turning the Winter Garden into the hub of stress, I recall one of my favorite posts. And if you are a first year reading this, it's all true.

Photography and life

This is the 812th time that I'm mentioning my photography class outside of my regular course work. Let me recount the week:

Monday: Lab from 7 to 10. We printed out work (contact sheets and favorite pictures from the depth of field exercise) from the previous week. After that, we took out our first assignment (shutter speed exercise) for critique. Basically how this works is that you show your photo to a small group of students and ask three questions: what do you like about my picture, what do you not like about my picture, what would you change about it.

I guess you could apply those three questions to anything in life! For example, this past week, I liked efforts in class (staying awake...), I did not like my efforts in my study group, and I would change my schedule to do the lab on Sunday night instead. Yet I digress...

The feedback I got was very good. There are many subtle things that I would not notice myself. This doesn't just cover the bad things, but also the good things as well. One person commented that I framed the picture with the surrounding structures - I didn't notice it... but I will next time.

Tuesday: Class from 7 to 10. Today, the lesson was to review the depth of field exercise and also talk about the psychological impact between the photographer and the subject. This is when I realized that I didn't really understand the depth of field exercise fully. I was supposed to play with F-stops to adjust the depth of field, which I did... but not really playing it to the full extent. Instead, I used the distance between me and the subject as the primary tool to create depth of field.

In the second half of class, we talked about when we can take pictures of people and when we can't. It was a very interesting discussion. What gives me the right to take pictures of strangers while they are enjoying the scenery? That's why I rarely take portraits... I enjoy buildings and wild life - I don't have to ask them for permission.

Our instructor claims that, as a photographer, he has never paid for or provided favors for a picture to be taken. Fascinating. I think I will follow his lead. So far, I have not violated it. Denise, on the other hand, has been coerced into paying after taking pictures of local people at Kathmandu and Tibet.

Friday: Me being photographer from 9 to 11. This was an exercise to create connection between the photographer and the subject - I'm the subject today. Now, I 've never modeled before, but my partner Y-san took the approach that I was thinking about. Ask questions and then take pictures. After an hour of conversation that covered mostly traveling, the project was done. Phew. Very interesting though, as when we talked about photography, I actually found myself smarter (in photography anyway) than before.

Tomorrow: I'll be doing the aforementioned exercise, but with me being the photographer. My subject is a fellow consultant who has been at it for years. Should be interesting.

In other news... the Wing Squad is revived... they are coming to Chicago for this years Superbowl.


Provoking thoughts

First years are finally starting their recruiting and have managed to transform the Winter Garden into a hub of stress. Back to the post.

People in Business Policy have mixed feelings about the class. On one hand, you have me who loved The Alchemist.... and these people who left comments; on the other hand, you have the others who left different comment.

A bit more on The Alchemist. I've gotten quite a few emails and responses about it... mostly on how the book doesn't tell you how to identify a dream. I might be repeating myself here, but I don't think anyone can teach you what your dream is. You are the sole owner of the dream even if it's not apparent to you. And even if you don't know (yet), your decisions in life (presumably to maximize your utility) are implicitly directing you towards a dream. The Alchemist would argue that sooner or later the dream will become apparent.

Anyway, back to the class. Today's topic was twofold: first is how theories and stories are related and second is some stories of leaderships. I don't want to give the class away, but Davis' class has really provoked thoughts. Today, for example, I felt a rush when he started talking about showing vulnerability during a story to convey genuineness. I felt another rush when I watch the film clip on how a conductor gets the choir to work as one team.

Sort of like how I reacted when I read this Poweryogi post.

Sort of like how I reacted when my photography class started critiques of pictures I took.

Life, after all, is more than just classes and student organizations and rankings and recruiting.