Sunday, December 31, 2006

Trends to watch in 2007

The title of this blog post makes me sound important, doesn't it? Clearly, I know not what lies ahead in the coming year -- nor does anyone else (except, perhaps, the folks at Popular Mechanics.)

Still, it's fun to ask questions. In 2007, I'm wondering:


Thursday, December 21, 2006

Building a business plan in Second Life

A few evenings ago a classmate and I met with a couple of programmers to discuss applications (the details of which I'll keep mum) that they are building in Second Life. I took a screenshot as our avatars sat around a floating table on the roof of tall building. That's me with my back to the camera, and my classmate is seated to my right. The programmers are the two other guys.

I've roamed around Second Life on my own over the past few months, but this was the first time I've participated in a structured meeting "in-world," as they say. Communicating via Skype conference call and some in-world IM, we kicked around ideas for building a business plan. My classmate and I are going to work with a few other classmates on doing the market research and drafting the business plan, and we'll enter it in a competition in a few months.

To say the least, I'm finding this thoroughly fascinating. With the time-intensive first quarter in the MBA program complete, we're encouraged to start exploring directions in business that catch our fancy. The business plan competition is one avenue for this, as is the Business Consulting Network, which I am also participating in.


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

X, Y, Z

Why do so many drug names contain the letters x, y, and z? I am curious about this.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Like Treebeard, but not in a good way

My sister, brother-in-law, and his son spent the better part of today here in my apartment, as there was no power in their southwest Seattle home until this evening. Like many Seattleites, they had an unsettling evening this past Wednesday. But they had the added bonus of listening to a tree hammer against their gutter (pictured). They said it sounded like Treebeard was out there, making a ruckus.


Friday, December 15, 2006

Wind-strewn wasteland

So, the wind was pretty intense in Seattle last night.

I walked around my neighborhood today and took some blurry pictures with my phone. Here's a couple of plastic chairs. The white chair is merely upside-down; the green chair suffered a much more grisly fate!

A lot of parked vehicles got damaged last night. There was a group of folks around this wind-felled tree, all snapping pix with their phones. I wondered to myself how many of these people work at Microsoft. The Microsoft campus was essentially closed today.

Chainsawing a tree in the yard:

Power stayed on in my building, but it went out in some houses in my neighborhood (the Internet cafe in my neighborhood was packed to the gills. More Microsofties, no doubt). Down in Southwest Seattle, where my sister and brother-in-law live, power is out everywhere. They're actually on their way up to my place right now, to fill up on gas and take showers.


My building just shook

Seriously. It's really that windy outside.

Since finishing up my first quarter as an MBA student on Tuesday, I've spent the past few days earnestly relaxing, absolutely revelling in the lack of a schedule. I've been catching up on blog-reading. I also watched 49 Up. This film gave me the same feeling I get when I look at old photos of my parents (and me): an awestruck awareness of the quick flicker of mortality.

Tonight I was walking down 15th Ave, my scarf blowing this way and that in the (then calmer) wind, when I ran into my old friend Brian. He invited me over to watch The Office and have some beer. Walking back from his place (my scarf flapping more, as the wind picked up), I thought how great it was to do something spontaneous like that, something unscheduled.

My winter break is going to be all about that.


Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Oh, my aching thumb-joint

Just finished my accounting final a few minutes ago. My thumb-joint (is that what it's called?) is hurting from all the writing. Just one more final to go - Stats at 1:30. More writing there, including an essay ... egads I'm going to have to write gently. I think I probably press down on the page too hard. I'm not used to writing so much. I (greatly) wish that all exams could be done via computer. Maybe someday.

The accounting final ... it had its good parts and its not-so-good parts. I feel good about studying up on the bonds so much; they definitely made an appearance in the exam, and I feel like I nailed those questions. I don't feel so good, however, about spending so much time on employee stock option plans, which did not show up. As for inventory, I studied LIFO and FIFO, but the exam focused on the weighted-average method - d'oh! For the most part, though, I think I did ok. Studying the practice exams was definitely helpful.

As was the triple grande americano I consumed before the exam.

Ok. Time to do some stats review.


Sunday, December 10, 2006

Finals Eve

Yes, it is Finals Eve, and not a creature is stirring in my home...certainly not me. I am an inert, stationary lump at my desk. But rest assured that my mind is aflame with the passion of learning!

Pictured is a tantalizing glimpse into my world of finals preparations.

I think posting that schedule the other night was a good idea; something about a public proclamation of "here's what I'm going to do" has helped keep me productive. We learned something along those lines in our Management class. It's a technique of influence: commitment and consistency. A declaration of public commitment to a (perhaps undesirable) task makes it more likely that you'll want to remain consistent with that declaration and follow through. That's straight from my study notes! I think I jotted that one down around 2 AM last night.

I'll get back to the Management later this afternoon. Now it's time for Accounting prep, which I am finding surprisingly enjoyable ... much more so than econ.


Saturday, December 09, 2006

The pathos is palpable

Ok, so I know I said you wouldn't see me til Tuesday. But we all need study breaks, right? I've done well; I've stayed on schedule. Over the last few hours I've been working my way through stats, listening to one of the finest albums released in the last ten years, and if you haven't heard it, I urge you do do so soon.

So anyways, I was just checking my site traffic, as bloggers are wont to do (often). In the past hour, someone in California found my blog via the Google search string cheat sheet for marketing mba (although I offer no such study aid on my blog, as I don't take marketing til next quarter, I nevertheless unhelpfully appear at #20 in the Google search results.)

Ahh, but the pathos of such a search. One can sense the late-night desperation.


Friday, December 08, 2006

The ferocity of finals

Behold my schedule for this weekend, filled to the brim with jollities and amusements:

I've pondered it for a bit and I think this will be the best way to allocate my studying time over the weekend. It gives me 10 more hrs for accounting, 11 more hrs for econ, 10 more hrs for stats, and 4 more hrs for management. That seems about right. It leaves time for nothing else other than eating and sleeping...

See you all sometime after Tuesday.


Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Post-rock productivity burst

I'm feeling mysteriously energetic this evening. Perhaps it's because I got a fairly decent night's sleep (I arrived at Victrola at a reasonable 7:15 this morning), and some good exercise from walking a fair amount of the way to school this morning.

As I plough through my final edit of our group econ paper this evening, I'm listening to Godspeed You Black Emperor!'s viscerally vibrant Yanqui UXO, the merits of which Pitchfork underestimated (they gave it a 5.6 out of 10). I was inspired to listen to some post-rock this evening after a brief chat with a barista about the Sigur Ros that was playing (in the Tully's in the cafe area of the UW business school building). We'll see how much post-rock I can cycle through tonight.

Readers may notice that I've taken to talking about music lately. Had some great chats about music with a friend of my youngest sister over Thanksgiving break, and I was reminded how much I like music--in the general genres of "indie" and electronic--and how much musical knowledge I've collected over the past five years. I didn't originally intend this blog to include any writing about music. But my music appreciation has sharply risen lately; I'm noticing the refreshing right-brain stimulation that counterbalances the pummeling my left brain's been taking. :)


The ultimate rejection letter

This was making the rounds amongst my classmates today.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Victrola in the morning

I'm in Victrola, local coffeeshop, sipping on an americano as I finish the edit on our team paper for microeconomics. I noticed that Victrola has their own blog - nice! I also noticed that they open every day at 5:30 AM. I arrived at 6:30 this morning and was feeling proud of myself. But 5:30? I'll see if I can make it in here at that time at some point this week.


Sunday, December 03, 2006

5,000 visitors

My humble blog has just received its 5000th visitor: someone googling ibm secondlife. Incidentally, the most common googlish pathway to my blog is the string "imagining the tenth dimension" review, where visitors find this page.

And as the day darkens into dusk, I am down at Online Coffee, working on our group econ paper. It's a group endeavor; I'm editing and assembling everything.

The next week and a half will be busy. This econ paper needs to get finished, as does my stats project. There's a take-home IT & Innovation final, and an evening meeting with a client that I'll be working with in a type of mini-marketing internship with a group of classmates. (This is known as a BCN project in the UW MBA program. More on this next quarter).

Then there will be the in-class finals to prepare for: management, microeconomics, statistics, and the dreaded 3-hour accounting final. A lot to keep me busy. Finals will be finished 3:30 PM on 12/12, at which point they'll roll out some free congratulatory beer for us (according to rumor).

I'm listening to Galerie Stratique's Nothing Down-to-Earth, an album full of vaguely sinister sounds wrapped in shadowy gray rhythms. It reminds me of Aphex Twin. I think it's been a while since I've listened to it in its entirety, maybe a couple years ago when I worked at Washington State Ferries.

Speaking of which, I'll be joining those ex-coworkers for an xmas dinner in a few weeks; I'm looking forward to catching up with them.


The remote control for life

A classmate forwarded me this interesting article from the Economist.

The cellphone is not a telephone. It is a—I don't know what it is. A communications device? A tool I carry in my pocket?
Bruce Sterling, a science-fiction writer whose future caught up with him, and who now writes books about contemporary design and technology, believes phones will be “remote controls, house keys, Game Boys, flashlights, maps, compasses, flash drives, health monitors, microphones, recorders, laser pointers, passports, make-up kits, burglar alarms, handguns, handcuffs and slave bracelets.” In short, he believes that the phone will be “the remote-control for life”.
From my own experience, I've seen my phone come to play an increasingly important role as an extension of my memory.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

December the 2nd: a historical perspective

In the Scientific American monthly section "50, 100, and 150 Years Ago," the editors rifle through the musty archives and reprint short articles from yesteryear.

I'm inspired to do something similar with my own life archives (I'm not quite able to go back 150 years yet ... someday). Starting in 1981(!) I began keeping a journal off and on. From 1986 through the mid-90s, I estimate that I wrote an entry every two days, on average.

Out of curiosity (to be truthful: I was seeking distractions from the ongoing Stats project), I looked through the old journals to see what I'd written on Dec. 2 in previous years.

Ten years ago, in 1996, I was a few days away from starting a temp grave shift position as a USPS mail sorter. On 12/2/96, I wrote:

This morning I got a call from the Post Office personnel department. They want me to start early, on Wednesday night. For some strange reason I am very excited.
Fifteen years ago, on 12/2/91, I was apparently in a melancholy mood:
I started to enjoy classical music immensely. I think for the past month I have become more introspective and reading a lot more. I have not had a desire to have a relationship for a couple months.
And 20 years ago, on 12/2/86:
Jonathan Bradley came back to school. I just started teaching him logo.

I started music. That means I just stay in the band room.

Today we had play practice (for church). My part is Paul Evans. I have 13 lines. (By the way, Paul Evans is supposed to be rich.)

Last night my ears were plugged. I slept upstairs.

It is 10:00 PM exactly.
I stuck to the facts back in the day.