Sorry about the non-blogs... wish I had more time and effort, but I just don't. Peru pictures and text are coming soon to my website. Um... but you can always experience paragliding first.

Random news:
  • In Friendster, you can see who viewed your profile; I was shocked to see the Big V (GSB... ex-GSB) viewed my profile. I clicked on her picture just to make sure it's the same V. Fast forward two days, she's requested to be a friend! Amazing!
  • Some bloggers (TB, I will miss you) have ended their careers. May they RIP.
  • Hey, CNN writes about me!
  • The GSB photo mosaic project is finally finished.
  • Meanwhile, my good friend Erica is battling some HK media.
  • I've been waiting for my movers for the last 4 fucking hours.
  • Peru was good, but not spectacular. It's not as tall as Tibet. The architecture isn't as good as its contemporary comparable. The food is fresh but not that much better.
  • I'm still trying to find time to slow down and reflect. Shouldn't have scheduled everything so tight. Sigh.


Moving on...

to Cusco.

I joined my family in Cusco finally after the misadventures. Getting a temporary passport turned out to be easier than I thought so I flew out of Lima a day earlier.

Turns out that I didn´t miss that much as my mother and my brother both fell victim to high altitude sickness and they didn´t get to see much of Puno anyway. I guess the bad luck wasn´t going to just stop!

We toured the Sacred Valley yesterday and will tour the city of Cusco today. This city is buzzing with energy all the time. Finishing a great dinner (I had the guinne pig - remember, I am Chinese, so don´t judege me) at 930pm, the streets were still jamming with a parade!

Machi Pichhu tomorrow. I can´t wait. Oh, and my new camera is awesome.


More bad luck!?

Is it even possible after day 1 and day 3?

Worse, no. Bad luck, yes! On my birthday, aka day 4 of my so far hellish (negativity dominance, slowly evolving into my favorite bias!) Peru trip:
  • face plant on the streets of Lima - ouch
  • jacket stolen at a night club, I think - may retrieve today
On the bright side:
  • used something from P&I class - by stating that I have no money, the merchant gave me an automatic discount and then some more discounts on my purchase of a bag
  • sorted out my flights due to the disruption
  • decided to do some handgliding, with or without the camera
  • met some awesome folks in the hostel
  • blah blah blah
I have replaced my camera through the almighty Ebay. D80 and a 18-200 VR lens, courtesy of a great review and photography website by Ken Rockwell. I'm convinced this may be the ONLY lens I will need. I may need an extra macro lens for food shots, and an ultra wide angle for building and indoor shots. But for now, this will have to do.


More mishaps...

Just when I thought things couldn´t get worse, I one upped myself. Good job, Eric.

After traveling and traveling, we settled in the city of Chiclayo (destination was Trujillo, but that didn´t work out). We toured a very good museum and a very big archelogical site before taking the bus, finally, to Trujillo. Stayed in a very nice hotel (family paying, yay!).

The next morning, my beloved Domke bag was stolen from me during breakfast. With it, my passport, my D80, my four lens, my 3 filters, my 2 hoods, my 2 polarizers, my 1 spare battery, my 4 2GB memory cards, my cleaning kit, my sun glasses (aka my best purchase in years), my travel log, my reading book (ironically on chaos theory - this all started with the Trujillo flights cancelling on me) were all GONE. That bastard made out with about $2300 worth of merchandise.

We even spotted the person on security camera... he scouted us for about 15 minutes before making a smooth move to take the bag without any of my family noticing. But just like a 24 episode, the video was recorded over and the clip forever lost.

Anyway, police report and phone calls ensued, and I now have to break away from my family to get my passport done and possibly buy a new camera if available. So... tomorrow is my birthday, and instead of spending it with my family on the majestic Lake Titicaca, I will be running around Lima with my travel agent trying to reroute my flights to join my family once my passport is settled. Even my surprise birthday party was cancelled (it was at the same hotel restaurant where my bag was stolen).

While negativity dominance (a social psychology term) took reign, there is some perspective. The reason we went to Trujillo was to visit a volunteer there. She showed us around; I´ve seen poverty, but not that up close. I guess losing $2300 worth of stuff isn´t that bad afterall.

By the way, if I can take back one piece from the lot, it would be the memory card with all my pictures from the first two days. Second in line would be my camera body. Then the bag. Then the passport. Funny how I prioritized.


First day traveling... and traveling...

Yesterday at about 330pm, my family and I set off from Columbus Plaza to Peru. THIRTY hours later, we've finally settled in. Oh yes, you read that right. No disrespect to my Indian friends traveling back home, but this was still quite an ordeal.

Let's just say I haven't done anything weirder (this includes my ordeal with United in Denver and then my unbelievably timed trip to Boston) than:
  • Arrive and depart from the same airport FOUR times in a day
  • Fly from one airport to another TWO times in 12 hours

Our consolation prize was a great meal at a restaurant called TanTa. My god they were awesome. Maybe it was the whole travel mess; or maybe just hunger. I'm not sure. Either way, they were good, and they immediately quelled my fear of sub par food experiences instilled by 2R, whom famously said that she craved McD after her Peru trip.

Anyway, it was fitting that with all this adventurous mishaps in Peru that I finished reading Touching the Void, an amazing true story of how two friends survived broken souls and legs. Reading how the author survived his certain death fall and then managed to crawl himself to safety reminded me of my Tibetan experience (at the end of the page), which of course pales in comparison but still looms big in my life as my closet death encounter. Anyway, I thought the author had a very accurate desription of how one physially and mentally feels when he or she brushes death. I don't know how lose I was to death, but I had very similar experience - the voice vs. thoughts, setting into a pattern, collapsing one help came, etc. Very good book for a quik read. I can't imagine myself in a similar situation; well, part of it is because I am a wuss and I would never plae myself in that kind of danger... but also the guilt would just bury me alive. Highly reommended. I now want to read the other hiking books!


Graduation and Summer

So, finally, I am an Chicago GSB MBA! Yay!

I have a lot of thoughts I want to write down.

I have a lot of people I want to thank.

But I think I want to write about my summer schedule: Chicago Lima Trujillo Lima Puno Cusco Machu Picchu Puerto Maldonado Lima Chicago LA Chicago Copenhagen Helsinki St Petersburg Moscow Talinn Riga Vilnius Munich Salzberg Ibiza Amsterdam Brussels Amsterdam Paris Nice Monaco Barcelona Budapest Csurgo Budapest London Hong Kong

=) I'm off to Lima tomorrow, so maybe those thoughts and people can wait a little bit!



This quarter I took 4 classes (damn, I can't believe I'm graduating):

Pricing Strategy: I've mentioned before that Dube is on steroids as he can talk non-stop for about 3 hours. Luckily, we also have someone in the class who loves to make random comments that may or may not relate to the class. JKip and I started to tally the times she spoke, and we had to segment the occasions into "raised hand and called upon," "raised hand, not called, and spoke anyway," and "just spoke." Good times. Her record is 13 times in the first half - she left after break, presumably because she lost her voice. Anyway, the class is decent and the learnings just scratch the surface. Since Dube speaks non-stop, he actually covers a very broad range of topics but doesn't get into any great detail. For people who are heading into Marketing, I can imagine this being a very good class to take. For me, however, I'd say learning how to do different pricing strategies is quite irrelevant besides the fact that I now know that I'm being screwed over when I buy stuff. Ah, the curse of knowledge.

Managing in Organizations: This might be one of the best classes I've taken at the GSB. Epley is no Dube, but he's still on steroids, evident from him waving his hands like crazy and jumping up and down during class. He uses a lot of classic experiments and in-class examples to make his points, so the points are easy to remember yet the effects are profound - all the biases, the ways to achieve productivity without changing much in personnel or capital, simple yet fundamental mistakes organizations make and how to correct them, etc etc. One important point: I'm not sure if the point of the class is to teach us to take advantage of the biases or correct our own. I think the former will have great benefits in management! Also, the problem with social psychology is that they make points by comparing the average, such as 80% of respondents performed better under ABC situations compared to 40% not under ABC. What about the 20% who didn't perform better? Do you account for those? Why don't they perform better?

Power and Influence: Menon won the Phoenix prize for excellence in teaching this year, so she's a proven professor. While she's not as excited as Dube and Epley, her enthusiasm is definitely unmatched - and that's saying a lot given the enthusiasm of all teachers at the GSB. She cares deeply about the class and about the students. I had shared some of my thoughts about Alan with her - she replied with passion and compassion, and I appreciated it very much. There are a lot to learn from the class, but most will not be useful in the first few years on my job. It will be something that I need to constantly remind myself of and keep developing MY power and influence. Great take aways, though somewhat disjointed, especially towards the end.

Strategy and Structure: Bothner has a certain style that not everybody appreciates. He's very stubburn and will only accept your answer if it matches his word by word; and he'll make you say it his way too. He also pokes fun at people as the class goes. I appreciated the antics... as long as it isn't me. There are a lot of frameworks used in the class that are sometimes quite obvious and sometimes quite irrelevant, yet some are fundamental to the understanding of a firm. My question is... without the HBS cases, are these frameworks that easily applied to companies? Know that HBS cases are altered so that all the pieces fit into these so-called frameworks. Is real life that easily dissected as well? Me think not. Anyway, the class is valuable and very useful for consultants.

All highly recommended. One of the best quarters I've ever had, even though I never studied hard (or maybe that contributes to it being the best)...

And now it's goodbye and graduate. It hasn't hit me yet.


Applying GSB Classes

I bought my VW Golf in a very unexpected way. I remember walking into the dealership with Alan to explore the options, and walking back out 30 minutes with a signed purchase agreement. Alan was like "huh, did you just buy a car?" Good times. I went in prepared and the deal they offered me was just above the invoice. We shook hands (The dealer guy was called Jim Carrey - I will always remember this) and I had myself my first car!

The goodbye to my beloved Golf was just as unexpected. I drove the car for someone to see. He took a look, asks some questions, test drove it, and then said "I have cash for you back at the store." Completely took me by surprise!

I found myself reaching back to my OB classes (Negotiations, Power and Influence, and Managing in Organizations) when I negotiated. He seemed in a hurry to close the deal, while I was hoping to keep the car for a couple of days. Apparently he wants to buy a car for his gf and he's had bad car testing experiences and he doesn't want to deal with other sleezeballs who try to sell him lemons. We negotiated on price a little and closed the deal. Negotiations are about relationships, not money.

And thus my exodus from Chicago begins. IT commented that I was selling my life (yup, almost everything!). Indeed I am. It hasn't really hit me yet, but I'm sure it will in a few days time.



There were 25 courses for dinner at Alinea (5 stars of course)... but one course required us to hold on to the bowl and I couldn't take a picture of it. The food was delicious and a once in a life time culinary experience. Service was excellent and not pretentious. In fact, the staff there were mostly under 27... anyway, back to the food. There were a few dishes I thought was a bit too salty, but the overall balance was great and each dish had a specific theme to it. The best was Apple, Duck, and Caramel. Like I said, once in a life time... aka until my next bonus! Highly recommended; it'll take a big hit on your wallet, but it's well worth it!


Things that made me smile

LeBron James finally making the leap and becoming a relentless leader on the basketball court. He followed up on his 29 of 30 points in 4th quarter and OT game with a 20 point 9 assist game and won both. That's how great basketball players get born. On the other hand, Flip Saunders again proved himself to be bad, failing to double team LeBron early in the series and attack LeBron whenever. Whoever LJ is guarding on the Spurs in the finals will head to the basket everytime. I promise you.

Saw my picture on the back of ChiBus... weird.

Drawing the strategy chart for Blockbuster - that baby has so many arrows it'll make my basketball coach proud.

Having our last class in which the final presentation is on how the Boston Red Sox transformed itself from good team that makes money to great team that makes money and wins.

Speaking of the Red Sox, they are up 13.5 games on the Yankees. Actually... they are 10 games ahead of the O's - that's where the focus should be. I bet the O's and the BlueJays are extremely miffed that the media focuses on the race between first place and FORTH place.

Food... more on this later... but Frontera Grill is possibly the best Mexican food I've ever had. Alinea's 27 course meal is to die for - taste-bud-wise and monetarily. Bongo Room's sweet brunch is, of course, SWEET. Will post pictures and slide show later.

And thus I head into the final week... almost done.