Monday, December 17, 2007


My sister recently penned an award-winning post: Zeppercise. Please enjoy.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Bye bye, Comcast

I've been curious about Clearwire for a while now, and finally I've decided to give it a shot. Comcast has always seemed to have issues in my building, and after my Internet connection was out for three days last week, I'd had enough. So I'm up and running on my new Clearwire modem tonight -- it was very easy to set up and I'm not finding that the download speed is slower than Comcast. Actually, I'm finding the opposite: I'm able to watch episodes of The Office on without a hitch, whereas with Comcast, my connection constantly blinked out.


Here I am!

Hello. It's been a while! The first quarter of my final year in the UW MBA program has been a busy one. I've taken classes that have been time-consuming and challenging (but in a good way), spent a lot of time doing MBAA (student government) work, and over the past month, I've focused considerable energy on the job search. I should -- fingers crossed -- have an offer for a post-graduation job in the near future. If so, I'll have more free time during the next two quarters.

Which would be nice, I must admit. :)

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Healia's new Facebook application

Healia, where I've been interning this summer, has just launched a Facebook application: the Healia Health Challenge.

The game tests your general health knowledge with questions that cover nutrition, anatomy, and STDs, among other things. It starts you off as a pre-med student, and if you rack up enough points, you get promoted all the way up to Chief of Medicine.

It's definitely been a lot of fun to work on this as a group over the past few months. If you have a Facebook account, please give it a shot and let me know what you think. And if you like it, please feel free to pass it on. :)


Tuesday, August 28, 2007

This is fun

Warning: there is insta-audio in the above-linked website, which I hate. Still, though, its build-your-own avatar tool is quite fun.

Monday, August 13, 2007

I've jumped onto YouTube

I was with my family visiting my cousin over the weekend; she lives near Port Angeles, WA. My sister Bethany I and availed ourselves of her trampoline.

This little video -- in all its jerky and grainy glory -- is actually the first I've ever uploaded to YouTube. It's a remarkably easy process. I thought there would be some difficulty with the 3g2 video format that my phone uses, but there wasn't any problem; everything gets converted.


Friday, August 10, 2007

Yellow house

My appreciation of music has always been deeply egotistical. I don't pay any attention to lyrics because I frankly don't care about the meaning the artist is attempting to convey. I care only about the meaning that I create -- arbitrarily and subjectively, yes, I admit -- as I hear the music.

For me, Belle and Sebastian = my swirling sunny emotions in the summer of 1999. Camper Van Beethoven = driving back from my Dairy Queen job, night-time, humming merrily along to myself, high school 1990. I'm not so interested in the technical facts about these bands.

Unsurprisingly, then, I've long been a fan of music with lyrics difficult to decipher: R.E.M., The Cocteau Twins, and so on. I'm also quite partial to music without any lyrics at all. This is the sort of music I can easily tack my memories to and claim as my own.

Grizzly Bear's critically acclaimed 2006 release, Yellow House, is such an album. Since I first started listening to it a few weeks ago, it has become ever more entertwined with nostalgia nodes deep within my mind. You know that feeling when you hear a song or an album a few times and you realize: I will always associate this music with this particular time in my life? Yes.

A text message I sent a few weeks ago sums up my experience with Yellow House: "Floating down the sidewalk on a grizzlybear-spun cloud."

I mentioned nostalgia. Again, I don't know what Grizzly Bear is singing about in this album, nor do I care to know. The thing is, I grew up in a yellow house -- lived there from 1981 - 1991. So I declare that this album is all about me and my own memories. I'll sign off with a quotidian quote from my journal written exactly twenty years ago, on August 10, 1987:

Today we went to Ruiz's to get some games. Some of the games: Mule, Alley Cat, Pool 400. Katy and I played a game of Farming Game today down here in the basement. Katy won. When the game ended, she had 140 cows, I had 110.
P.S. Go here (warning: music starts playing when you load the page) and download On a Neck, On a Spit right away. It's a very good song.


Thursday, August 09, 2007

Fun with the Feedburner Headline Animator

I don't post for a week and all of a sudden I post three times in a day. I know, I know, I'm rebelling against blogging best practices. So be it.

I just used the Feedburner headline animator to make a nifty little widget that displays the latest posts from the Healia Blog:

The Healia Health blog

↑ Grab this Headline Animator

Fun stuff!


Daily one-minute webcast of Seattle business news

The Puget Sound Business Journal now offers a daily one-minute online video summary of local business news.

I keep tabs on national and international business news by reading the Wall Street Journal every morning on the bus. But I haven't been covering local business news too closely lately, so I'm happy to see a quick and easy way to do this.


Linkalicious: 8/9/07

Dear readers, here are some interesting tidbits, hastily proffered. More substantial posts coming your way soon.


Thursday, August 02, 2007

I'm not a woman

But Gmail seems to think that I am. These are the ads currently popping up for me (the topmost ad is particularly disturbing, is it not?):

Why am I seeing these? I'm not sure. I guess there's not enough manly talk in my emails.

A year ago, I wondered here whether other people were as curious about Gmail ads as me. Interestingly, 88% of poll respondents said that they, too, discuss Gmail ads with their friends.


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Appaholic: facilitating obsession with Facebook statistics

If you're curious about which Facebook applications are hot (or cold) at the moment, Appaholic is worth exploring. It displays statistics on Facebook applications, updated hourly.

The Viral Dashboard page is interesting, but I was confused by it at first. The site FAQ doesn't explain this, but the applications are ranked by "% change" -- percentage change in users from yesterday to today. So this list is not based on the total number of Facebook users who have installed that particular application.

Because the appaholic rank list is based on daily percentage growth, it changes frequently. At the bottom of the list are applications that are, for whatever reason, quickly shedding users. In the rapidly-growing universe of Facebook applications, these negative-growth applications might have been at the top of the list not too long ago.


Tuesday, July 31, 2007


A few days ago, I read about Picnik in a recent Mossberg column (sub req'd). It's an uncharacteristically glowing review with nary a negative word:

Picnik has a beautiful and responsive user interface .... If you want to see how good a Web application can be, take Picnik for a spin.
Intrigued, I hastened to check it out for myself. It didn't take me long to acquiesce (always loved that word) to Mossberg's assessment. It is indeed a beaut. And there's a fetching sense of humor sprinkled throughout, like in the loading screen (pictured above) -- "floating kites .... laying a blanket... warming breeze..."

Oh, so what Picnik actually does? (Guess I haven't mentioned that yet.) It's a web-based photo-editing program. It does the simple stuff -- crops, resizings, etc -- quickly and painlessly. I definitely recommend giving it a spin.

Check out their blog, too -- in a fun touch, they ask folks to help them come up with a name for the premium version, which is coming soon.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Mysteries of the bus

As I boarded the bus the other morning, I saw the scene at left: a woman seated with a "Congrats!" balloon so large that she had to turn her face to the side to make room for it.

I wondered: did someone give her this balloon -- was this burdensome prize hers? Or was she bringing it to work, to give to someone else?

What do you think?
She gave the balloon to someone else, after the bus ride.
Someone (husband?) gave it to her that morning.
A stranger randomly gave her the balloon as she boarded the bus.
It's hers; she just carries it around as an accessory. free polls

Speaking of the bus, as the Seattle Weekly has recently pointed out, bus drivers have a tough job.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Can The Simpsons improve your mental health?

I was researching connections between The Simpsons and health for today's blog post on The Healia Blog, and I ran across this story:

Simply acknowledging mental health on such a popular television show might help 'normalise' the illnesses, say Australian trainee psychiatrist Dr Hannah Mendelson and director/cinematographer Gil Poznanski from Melbourne.
This idea is not without its detractors, however.

I'm not sure what to think about this question. On the one hand, if something is suppressed and kept under the carpet, there's an argument for bringing it out into the light. On the other hand, it's possible to go too far and make people feel belittled. Has The Simpsons done that? I don't think so.

After reading about the brilliant marketing campaign over the past few weeks (The Seattle Kwik-E-Mart is a sight to behold), I'm looking forward to watching the movie and seeing if it lives up to the hype.


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Children of the 70s

children of the 70sBorn in '74 (me) and '76 (her), my sister Katy and I are children of the 70s. We wore the funny clothes. Everything was orange and brown and hazy and bellbottom-y.

In honor of the strange decade of our birth, Katy has started writing The RollerBlog. In her words:

This blog chronicles my journey into the decade of my birth, in which I will immerse myself in all things seventies. Movies, books, music, television, pop culture, and more await.

children of the 70sDefinitely take a look; her blog is a lot of fun. She's posted reviews of the film Silent Running, the discography of Yes, and a called Half Past Human.

Katy, I bid you a warm welcome to the world of blogging. :)

A few more photos of us from the 70s:


Wednesday, July 25, 2007


I've been laughing (silently to myself) at overheard snippets of conversation for years, so I was immediately charmed by a blog I happened upon via BlogExplosion the other day: Eavesdroppers. Here, you can find a compendium of eavesdropped bits of conversation, compiled by three bloggers.

One example:

[Two middle-aged women are discussing their mothers.]

Woman 1: I'm really thankful that my mother's mind is still good like it is.
Woman 2: Yeah, that's great.
Woman 1: She's still sharp for 78, aren't you Mom? Aren't you 78?
"Mom": Umm... I don't know, I guess so.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Happy Harry Potter weekend

Requisite note: no spoilers here!

Prior to this past weekend -- Harry Potter Weekend, truly an international event -- I hadn't read any of the Harry Potter books.

Now that the weekend's over, I've read fifty or so pages from the latest Harry Potter book. I was reading over the shoulder of a friend of mine, and I began to get a sense of what all the fuss is about. It's definitely an enjoyable read.

My friend and I had been at the Harry Potter release party at University Bookstore on Friday night. I wasn't surprised by the throngs of kids in costume -- no, it was all the costumed adults, all quite earnest, who threw me for a loop. There was even a band there, playing Harry Potter-themed music and shouting out the countdown to midnight after every song. We'd had a few drinks beforehand, so it was all pretty amusing.

Is this the biggest book event ever? Perhaps. I heard on a recent WSJ podcast that this was the biggest single product distribution for Certainly, a whole lot of trees went into this. Yesterday evening, it seemed like half the people in my bus were intently perusing their copies.


Monday, July 23, 2007

Your password: not a secret to Sprint customer service

If you want to change your password at the Sprint Wireless site, you're informed of the following password stipulations:

  • Must be 6 to 8 letters or numbers (A-Z and 0-9)
  • Cannot include more than 3 repetitive digits (e.g. 111)
  • Cannot be all or part of your social security number or Sprint PCS phone number
  • Should not be something easy to guess, such as your birthdate.
Such extensive precautions should be reassuring. But when you call Sprint to resolve a billing issue, as I did recently (they have not yet received the check I sent two weeks ago), you are asked to give your password for verification purposes.

And all those privacy precautions go out the window.

When I called earlier today and the representative asked for my password, I said I'm uncomfortable giving that information and asked if there is another way to confirm my identity. She responded: "I'm looking at it anyway, so you might as well just tell me."

Do you know of any other companies that routinely ask for your password? I don't. When I worked for customer service back in 1999-2000, we simply did not have access to customers' passwords. Sometimes customers would call and ask us to tell them their password, and the best we could do was reset their password -- because we didn't have access to this information. And that's the way it should be.

I'm beginning to understand why Sprint received the dubious honor of last place in call center satisfaction. Add to this the recent fallout from their mass dumping of customers, and it's clear that Sprint has a rather serious PR situation to attend to.


Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Cranes aplenty

I snapped the photo at right with my phone as I walked across the I-405 overpass this evening. I was on my daily walk from work to the Bellevue Transit Center.

As the profusion of cranes attest, construction is on a tear in Bellevue, WA, and has been for a while. There was even a tragic accident involving a crane last November.

I'm reminded of all the cranes poking out of downtown Seattle during the Internet boom, eight years ago. At the time, friends and I jokingly envisioned "crane wars" wherein the slumbering mechanical giants would suddenly come to life and battle each other, a la Transformers.

geese on the sidewalkAlthough I confess the walk over the I-405 overpass is not in the least enjoyable -- motorists on the on-ramps actually seem to purposefully accelerate in an attempt to run over my fleeing pedestrian self -- I do sometimes see fun things nearby, like the geese on the sidewalk on Monday morning.


Why phone books will probably keep getting printed

I recently mused about phone books and why they seem to stack up unnecessarily in my apartment building lobby.

Coincidentally enough, the Wall Street Journal printed an article about the businesses that publish phone books (sub req'd): R.H. Donnelley Corp. and Idearc Inc. These companies have an Internet presence, but that's not where they make their money:

Donnelley, which operates, receives less than 2% of its revenue from the Internet, while Idearc, which owns, receives about 9%.
So despite the waste and the fact that so many people don't even crack them open, and despite the fact that Bill Gates recently said "yellow-page usage amongst people,...say, below 50, will drop to near zero over the next five years," physical phone books will probably continue to be printed for the forseeable future.


Monday, July 16, 2007

Phone books: does anyone actually use them anymore?

How many phone books end up getting recycled (one hopes that's what's happening to them) immediately, without ever even getting cracked open?

In my apartment building lobby, there is a stack of new phone books. Each sits in its own plastic wrapper. So far, the stack appears to be untouched. I'm assuming the vast majority of my fellow apartment dwellers use the Internet to look up phone most of the phone books are wholly unnecessary. It was a complete waste to print them and package them.

I wish there were an opt-out program for phone books. What do you think? Do you use physical phone books anymore? If so ... why?


The Healia Blog

We just launched a company blog at Healia. It will discuss health news, emerging health technologies, and new Healia developments. Take a look here:


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

The 00's: the lost decade

How do you refer to the current decade, if you refer to it at all? Recently I heard someone confidently say "zero zeroes," as if this term were in the general parlance. But I don't recall having heard that before.

Consider the term "the eighties." It's absolutely soaking with cultural significance. The decade 1980-1989, which I experienced from age 6 through 15, is, in my mind, firmly attached to the term "the eighties."

But what of this current decade? How will today's children refer to it? Will they say: "I grew up in the zero zeroes"? Looking back one hundred years, people called the period after 1900 "the turn of the century." So will this decade be known as "the turn of the millenium"?

I suppose I sometimes hear "the post-911 era," but that's a considerably bleak way to refer to this decade.

Is a decade more puzzling, more disturbing, somehow, if we don't have an easy label for it?


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Social Networking: all over the news

Perhaps it's just the news I follow, but it seems that social networking developments are popping up everywhere in the last few days.


Monday, July 09, 2007

The iPhone: a head-turner

On the morning of June 30, the day after iPhones were released to the ravenous public, I was having some breakfast at The Globe Cafe and noticed, a few booths away, three guys gingerly passing a gleaming new iPhone back and forth. I couldn't help it: I had to walk up and get a closer look, and the owner was gracious enough to let me touch it.

The other day at work, one of my coworkers brought in his new iPhone and we all gathered round for a demo. Impressive? Yes, quite. I won't go on about its features, as they have been discussed in painstaking detail throughout the blogosphere.

People are impressed with other people's iPhones. So I predict that this summer, a sizeable number of people will successfully use their iPhones to successfully woo romantic partners. Just by flashing their iPhones as they walk down the street. It will happen. I'm sure.


Friday, July 06, 2007

The next YouTube?

Interesting statistics today on Dailymotion, leading to speculation:

"There's been a great deal of speculation in the marketplace about which site is the next YouTube, and each of these next-tier sites has a particular is stating the strongest case at the moment, both domestically and internationally."


Giant red pushpins in Seattle

I was walking by B&O Espresso recently -- a spot I've been going to for almost 15 years now (the foul is excellent). I couldn't help but notice the giant red thing protruding from the roof. I thought it was some sort of ominous symbol portending B&O's impending close (which may or may not be happening). Actually, it's part of a rather interesting marketing campaign by Microsoft to promote Live Search Maps. It's called The Pushpin Project. The giant pins can also be found sticking out of Mama's Mexican Kitchen and Garage Billiards.


Monday, July 02, 2007

Linkalicious: 7/2/07

A few stories have piqued my interest over the past few days...

  • LinkedIn is hiring new staff and preparing for its upcoming IPO. Should it be worried about Facebook encroaching on its territory? I think not. Sure, you can do your professional networking on Facebook, too, but there are all those random applications littering your profile, and the not-so-professional photos. LinkedIn, on the other hand, is the online equivalent of the events you wear your suit to.
  • Is there any connection between Neanderthals and modern humans? Perhaps we'll find out!
  • Chronic disease has quadrupled among children.
    We will see much greater expenditures for people in their 20s than we ever saw before, and no one is thinking how we should prepare for that....We call it an epidemic.
  • You should drink coffee instead of soda in the morning.


Thursday, June 28, 2007

Get your blog displayed in search results pages

Healia, where I'm interning for the summer, has just rolled out an interesting program called Healia Links. The idea's pretty simple: bloggers display the Healia search widget on their blogs, and in return, Healia displays a rotating link to participating blogs in its search results pages.

I'm not aware of any other search engine -- or any other site, for that matter -- doing something quite like this.

If you're a blogger or site owner, you should give it a shot. Note that in order for Healia to display a link to your blog, your content must meet the editorial guidelines. You don't need to be a healthcare blogger per se, but your blog can't have offensive content, ad link directories, defamatory language, etc. More information available in the terms of agreement, accessible through the program description page.

The search widget looks like this:

As an experiment, use the widget above to try a comparative search between Healia and Google on a junk-results prone search term, like, say, "diet pills."


Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Drumming again, a decade later

Over a decade ago, back in college, I drummed with a few bands. We played Nirvana and Pavement covers and it was lots of fun.

I didn't really do much drumming after that until just recently, after the end of this past school year. I've taken up drumming with a CCR cover band called Revival Revival. It's an absolute blast! We just had our first show,
at a house party, and we'll be doing more shows throughout the summer.

Drumming with a fun-focused cover band is markedly different from anything I was up to during my first year of grad school. It's a refreshing diversion, actually -- a nice way to take a vacation from school for the next few months.


Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Linkalicious: 6/26/07

Last summer I was consuming so much new information about internet trends that I often just compiled it all in link-filled blog posts. Happily, I've resumed my news-consuming ways, so I'm going to kick off linkalicious posts again for the summer. I wonder what I missed over the past nine months...


Tuesday, June 19, 2007

And my internship starts off with a bang

On my second morning with my internship at Healia, the press release came out: Healia has been acquired by the media and marketing firm Meredith.

Considering the fact that Meredith is 105 years old and Healia is younger by a century plus, it's an interesting convergence. (I'll refrain from MBA-speak.) The two companies are clearly very different, and yet the acquisition makes sense: each offers something that the other needs. A stalwart of the traditional media world, Meredith needs a way to keep its customer base from defecting to new online competitors. Healia offers an award-winning product, and needs a way to develop awareness in its target customers.

For my part, I'm already seeing why an internship is such a crucial part of the full-time MBA educational experience. Just two days in, and I've already learned a lot.

Moreover, being involved with a forward-looking search engine is, for me, very fun. Musing over the future of internet has been a pastime of mine for a while now, and now I get to keep geeking out on this subject - at work? Lucky me. :)


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Pondering product placement

I was recently discussing Knocked Up with a friend. We both agreed that it paled in comparison with The 40 Year Old Virgin (a film that left me exhausted from two hours of continuous laughter). But what really bothered my friend about Knocked Up was all the product placement.

Product placement? I told him that I didn't recall any. He reminded me of the scene with Ravenswood wine, and about how the E! Network is featured prominently throughout. One blogger comments:

The overflow of product placement makes the head spin. Occasionally, the characters even turn their chests forward, the better for us to see the labels on their designer/thrift t-shirts.
None of this distracted me as I watched the film. So perhaps I have become completely inured to integrative advertising techniques (or my mind was mush a few days after finishing the academic quarter). Truth be told, if it's sufficiently subtle (which I'd argue is the case with Knocked Up), product placement doesn't really bother me. What do I mean by sufficiently subtle? Well, not this.

How about you? Think back to the films you've seen over the past few years. Has the product placement seemed excessive to you?

Is there too much product placement in current films?
Yes - much too much.
Well...there's a little too much.
It's ok as is. I wouldn't want to see any more, though.
Nah. There could be a bit more and it wouldn't bother me.
No!! Spanish TV doesn't even sound excessive to me. free polls


A futile quest for advice

Reviewing my site traffic log this morning, I noticed that someone in Alabama chanced across a tiny post I wrote that links to the "ulimate rejection letter." Their search string? Rejection letter wording. Mysteriously, my post appears in the first page of Google results.

I can only guess as to the drama underlying this anonymous Alabaman's search for advice on penning a rejection letter. It's a shame my post wasn't of more assistance.


Monday, June 11, 2007

World without oil

I've taken advantage of my recent wide-open schedule to catch up on my favorite podcasts, which was a frequent pastime of mine last summer. My curiosity was piqued by a recent Future Tense podcast that describes World Without Oil -- an alternate reality game (or ARG) in which participants collectively imagine how we'd all cope with a major spike in oil prices.

Participants describe how a significant oil shortage would prompt them to work closer to home, and how proximity would play an important role in relationships: you spend more time with friends in your immediate neighborhood.

It's true; that's what car-free living is like. I should know, as I haven't owned a car for a full decade. I've always worked at jobs that are easily accessible via walking or public transit. And I tend to spend most of my social time with friends who are within walking distance. Not owning a vehicle: the thought is anathema to so many Americans. But I can say from experience that it's really not that big of a deal, particularly in a city with a functional public transit system, like Seattle.


Saturday, June 09, 2007

June 9: A look back

It's always interesting to look back through the journals I faithfully kept as a kid (I stopped in my mid-20s) and see what I was up to on this day in previous years. Often on this day, I was either just settling into (or about to start) a new chapter in my life.

In 1985, I was getting ready to go pick berries for the summer, as many kids used to do in rural Washington and Oregon:

Today was the last day of school. I wonder who will be my teacher in 6th grade? I am going to pick strawberries at Curt Maberry's this year.
In 1992, I was getting ready to travel to Washington D.C. for the summer, where I worked as a software tester with my uncle.
I packed, bought a road atlas, and our family played Scrabble.
In 1998, I had just moved into a house with roommates in Seattle's Central District, and I was selling flowers and berries down at Pike Place Market:
I like selling raspberries alright -- nothing to wrap, like the tulips. But if I'm not able to get at least four days a week from this job, I'm looking for another. I came home tonight and relaxed and had corn-on-the-cob. Kari inspired me; she always eats this. And it's only 30 cents per cob at the closest Vietnamese market (just blocks away). Decorated my room tonight with some framed Chinese pictures.


Friday, June 08, 2007

Blogging lapses and shifts in digital identity

I've been done with the school year for a week now. My internship doesn't kick off until next Friday, so I've been luxuriating in what feels like a vast expanse of free time. Directed by my whims, I've been walking around my neighborhood, watching great films (I highly recommend The Lives of Others), and spending leisurely swaths of time in local coffeeshops. As for the Wall St Journal that appears in my building lobby every morning -- I'm actually reading it now, rather than just glancing at it.

I've also been spending plenty of time in bed. That's where I'm at right now!

With all this free time, why the almost-month-long lapse in this blog? I've been following blogs for six years now, and the blogging lapse is a common phenomenon. Bloggers go on hiatus for a spell, and then invariably return with an apologetic post: life's been busy.

But I don't think this is why blogging lapses occur. Trust me, one can always find time to blog. :) Rather, I think it's a matter of uncertainty about how to go about constructing one's digital identity. Blogging allows people to build an online representation -- a Googleable self that is traceable by anyone around the world, presumably for a very long time to come. It's a pretty exciting opportunity, particularly for narcissists such as myself.

I've stepped back from blogging recently simply because I've been processing the changes I've gone through over the past year. As this round of processing comes to a close (I feel this happening soon), my blogging will kick off again. It's like an internal tectonic shift is going on. In a good way. Ok, perhaps not the best metaphor.

Along these lines of thought, check out this interesting article. It explores the question: what motivates Second Life users to select avatars that bear no resemblance to their real-life selves? Perhaps a better question is: when you have no limits on how you can appear in a virtual world, why pick an avatar that exactly resembles yourself (which is basically what I did in SL)?

As a recent WSJ article describes (subscription required, but you can see the video here), this really may be a generational issue. Today's teenagers and early-twentysomethings are much more comfortable with their digital selves than us older folks. We oldsters cautiously try and put our best face forward, whereas the younguns accept the very public nature of the internet and just express themselves.

An overgeneralization, to be sure, but it's clear that things are changing.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Summer internship: Healia

I'm very happy to announce that I will be doing online marketing as an intern this summer with Healia. In its own words, Healia

is the premier consumer health search engine for finding high quality and personalized health information on the Web. It serves as an independent, unbiased gateway to the highest quality health information resources.
I'm very impressed with the folks I've met at Healia thus far, including Tom Eng, the CEO, and I'm looking forward to a fascinating and fast-paced summer!


Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Internship interviews

As I stepped out of my public speaking class, Finding Your Voice, this evening, I realized that the busiest of the busy times are behind me. The past three weeks have literally been a whirlwind -- each weekend I've been out of town, leaving the weekdays to pack in studying, MBAA meetings, and internship research.

Speaking of internships, last week I interviewed with Healia, WildTangent, and Alvarez & Marsal Business Consulting. There'll be a second round with Healia tomorrow morning and additional rounds with Alvarez and Marsal next week.

Classroom hours will die down significantly over the next few weeks, and I've been talking with MBAA officers about how we're looking forward to catching up on planning meetings during that time.

Alright, early bedtime for me tonight.


Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Spring quarter is more relaxed...

...or so they say. I'm not so sure. On Monday, I worked non-stop -- homework, internship research, class, meetings -- from 5am to 3am. Yes, a 22-hour day! Actually this is due to a lot of things converging at the same time. Things will be calming down in about a week's time and I'm looking forward to updating this blog more regularly. :)


Thursday, April 19, 2007

A tantalizing description

While I was on layover at Narita airport in Tokyo, I chanced across this description of a certain packaged food: "It is so delicious, the hand expands inadvertantly."

Unfortunately I have plumb forgot what the food was, exactly.

I just love that description.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bite-sized Singapore recap

Got back from Singapore on Sunday and I've been quite busy since then catching up. Although Kien and I didn't get much of chance to sightsee, I got a lot out of the experience. We both left with a veritable plethora of ideas for how to improve our program, and the goal now is to distill those down to a few good ones. We also left feeling optimistic about our program relative to other top MBA programs from around the world. We've got some solid assets that many other programs simply do not -- such as our career center, which is generously staffed with folks that ambitiously go out of their way to scout out opportunities for us.

Back to studying for tomorrow's Operations midterm --


Sunday, April 08, 2007

Heading to Singapore

On Tuesday I will be heading to Singapore to attend the Graduate Business Conference, along with Bonnie (the outgoing MBAA prez) and Kien (Executive vice-president). This is a yearly conference for student leaders of MBA programs from around the world. I'm looking forward to the opportunity to exchange ideas with my counterparts from other programs. And to get out in the 80-degree weather a bit. :)

I had a scare a few days ago when I thought I wouldn't receive my renewed passport in time for the trip. I called the Passport Services Office -- actually I had to call 9 times to even get into a hold queue, in which I waited for 50 minutes until I spoke with someone. They're not kidding about the current increased demand for passports! The rep was very helpful and was able to get my passport bumped up to a next-day shipment, so all's well.

The class workload is certainly lighter in spring quarter, but I've been keeping myself busy getting accustomed to my new role as MBAA president. It's a fascinating experience and I've been enjoying it a lot, particularly discussions with classmates and staff on strategic directions for the program. I met with the Dean recently and he has an ambitiously optimistic viewpoint on where the program is headed -- and I must say, this sentiment is infectious.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Spring break's over already?

How sad. Time flies when you're on spring break, apparently. But I've had a lot of fun over the past few weeks. I've been very social, which is precisely what I wanted. I caught up with old friends that I haven't seen in a while, such as this fellow.

I've also spent a fair amount of time on campus, being planny and talking strategy with various folks. Lots of stuff to do over the upcoming quarter, and the question is what to focus on first. The MBAA website is in desperate need of updating; I'd like that to be taken care of soon.

Twice over the past week, I volunteered up at the Greenwood Boys & Girls Club. On Monday, a group of us got down and dirty and did maintenance work. And on Friday I played games with the kids. One of them drew my portrait, and I had fun helping another kid practice for an upcoming spelling bee. I told her and her friends that I was a spelling bee champion (it's true!) as a kid. They didn't seem that impressed.


Friday, March 16, 2007

A necessary disclaimer?

Earlier this week, I noticed an ad in the Wall Street Journal, pictured at right. It's for the legal firm Nixon Peabody. Not pictured is the accompanying text, which includes a disclaimer:

The person in this ad is an actor depicting a fictional scene.
I can't imagine why this disclaimer is necessary. Who would look at the ad and think otherwise?

And for the 0.01% of the population that thinks this ad is "real life" ... so what? Is there a possibility that someone might sue over this? The odds must be infinitesimally small.

Perhaps Nixon Peabody is showing that it's a legal firm that covers all its bases -- even those freak possibilities -- and will do the same for you.

Or maybe I'm missing something here.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

The ides of March: a historical perspective

What was I up to on the March 15ths of yesteryear?

Way back on 3/15/84, my sister Bethany was born. Happy 23rd birthday, Bethany! Yes, I feel old.


Today was Bethany's 4th birthday. She got a stuffed giraffe which she named "Snuffy." She also got a huge stuffed rabbit which she named "Snuggles."
Bethany had her 8th bday party today. I found a highly enjoyable Seattle station, 107.7, the "End." I listened to a 3-hr program on U2 today. I am getting really into U2.

3/15/94. I was working as a security guard in college, and all the officers (me too) spent much of our time mucking around in old-school online community:
It was Matt's last night at work. Most all the staff officers down there play LambdaMOO.

On 3/15/99, I wrote about how things were much better than they had been over the previous two years (1997 being a nadir), I wrote simply "Ich habe genug" -- I have enough.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Open your snack hole

A few blocks from where I live, the McDonald's "Open Your Snack Hole" billboard graces my neighborhood.

What can I say? It's just a dag-nasty ad, no matter which way you slice it. Local blogs that have noticed it tend to agree. I've blogged criticisms of McDonald's marketing efforts in the past, and I must add this to the list.

Readers outside of Seattle: have you seen this ad in your community? I ask because this appears to be a Seattle-only pilot campaign.

I was so curious about this that I asked my marketing professor. His response (excerpts thereof):

all I can say is 'Wow.' Or, more precisely (and please excuse the profane referernce) 'WTF?' The execution seems unlikely to work for most sets of customers. Too icky, too gross, too obscenely disgusting... Of course, I may not be the target audience.
My guess is that McDonald's is thinking: hey, bloggers will eat this up and it will turn into an awesome viral marketing campaign! And yes, that's happening, and I'm helping out with that. But as I learned over the last quarter in marketing class, merely raising awareness about your product is just part of what successful marketing accomplishes. You also need to cultivate a positive brand association--people should, you know, feel good about your product. So they'll go out and buy it.

Does this campaign do that? What do you think?


Did I just ... ?

Lately in the mornings I find myself unsure if I just took my multivitamin. It's my custom during breakfast to become intensely fixated on whatever I'm reading. So I've got the little bottle of multivitamins next to me, and I remember that I had the thought "I will take my vitamin" I few moments ago. But did I actually take one just now? I cannot recall.

Isn't this what happens to old people? Uh-oh. I suppose I need one of these.


Saturday, March 10, 2007

Coffee: two sides to the debate

I've been thinking I should really cut back on my coffee consumption lately. I've entered two+ cup-a-day territory, and that just can't be good. Can it?

Apparently there are two schools of thought on this issue, as this recent BBC story points out. On the one hand,

caffeine eases withdrawal symptoms which build up overnight, but does not make people more alert than normal....all the drink does is counteract the mild caffeine withdrawal symptoms people are experiencing because they have gone without the stimulant overnight.
The possible adverse health effects of coffee aren't really a secret, but aren't well substantiated either:
not long ago, in the 1970s and '80s, coffee's name was mud. It was connected — tenuously or incorrectly, experts now say — to pancreatic cancer, heart attacks, birth defects, miscarriage, osteoporosis, and other ill effects.
On the other hand, maybe it's good for you...
a wealth of scientific evidence suggests that moderate coffee consumption of four to five cups per day is perfectly safe for the general population and does have a beneficial effect on alertness and performance even in regular coffee drinkers.
Pictured above: me, feverishly imbibing coffee during last summer's family road trip.


The weight of PowerPoint

One surefire way to rapidly eat up your Gmail memory allotment: constantly email iterations of PowerPoint presentations with classmates. I find it remarkable that I'm up to 17% of my 2826 MB ... up from 7% or so, just a few months ago.


Friday, March 09, 2007

Laptops in class

I took the Strategy final this afternoon -- all four hours of it. Two finals down, two to go.

A few weeks back, our Strategy professor (he also teaches at INSEAD) tried an experiment: he asked us not to use our laptops during class. Although I prefer to take notes with One Note on my laptop, I must admit that sans laptops, class discussion improved considerably.

I'm curious to hear from students (or recent students, as this wasn't an issue back when I was an undergrad) ... what's the situation with laptops in your classroom? Do people use them and if so, does this detract from class discussion?


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Thinking through video games

I was reading the Wall Street Journal in bed last night and came across a fascinating article: Mind Control for Videogames. You won't be able to see much there without a subscription, so here's the story from another source.

This is an interesting step forward in the world of brain-computer interfaces, over an almost-decade since the breakthrough news of the fellow who used only his brain to move a mouse cursor.

I'll be curious to see what happens with BCI in video games, and how quickly popular commercial adoption catches on. I mean, the novelty of it...I'm very curious to try something like this. Aren't you?

From the WSJ article:

Emotiv Systems...envisions players strapping on helmets with electrodes that read brain signals, allowing them to issue simple commands to enhance game play....Emotiv says its technology can distinguish between patterns of brain activity that can be designated to correspond to specific commands.

In a demonstration, Emotiv researcher Marco Della Torre donned a prototype headset and was able to move objects on a computer screen by visualizing pushing or lifting them....The technology also projected Mr. Della Torre's smiles, winks, or other facial expressions onto the face of an animated character, while software registered changes in his level of excitement.
Sony's Home service--which looks to be a souped-up version of Second Life--was also officially announced yesterday. I can't help but imagine how BCI technology might work in conjunction with virtual worlds. Seems like such a sci-fi notion, yes, but it's really not that hard to imagine that people will be able to use their minds to control their Second Life / Sony Home / whatever's next avatars.


Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Finals week. Disjointed scribblings.

Finals week is upon us, and much is happening all at once!

My "presidential gestation period" is over as of last night -- we had an official handoff ceremony and the outgoing president, Bonnie, handed me a wooden gavel and a copy of Merriam Webster's Rules of Order. Inside the front cover, there are inscriptions from each outgoing MBAA president, dating back to 2000. I like the historical connection..

What else ... my apartment is a mess! Yes, I seem to have had this problem last quarter as well. Looking forward to doing a substantial spring cleaning next week. And I need to clean out my inbox, too ... inbox bloat has struck once again, this time with a vengeance..

I got my jury duty hardship letter from the MBA program office today; hopefully that will work. It would be very, very bad if I had to miss a substantial chunk of classes next quarter.

Many more things going on, but I need to work on a group strategy presentation, a group macroeconomics paper, and a few other things tonight. Finished the macroeconomics takehome final (no, I don't expect that I did spectacularly well). Strategy final is coming up on Friday, Finance final (which I need to do mountains of study for) is on Monday morning, and the Marketing take-home final is due next Tuesday.


Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Jury Duty

I have been "randomly selected to serve as a trial juror in the municipal court of Seattle, County of King." I've asked if the MBA program office can send a letter on my behalf indicating it would be difficult for me to complete my degree on time if I serve as a juror. We'll see how that goes.

My juror's instructions indicate the following:

Waiting is an unavoidable part of jury service....We have desks equipped with Internet access and Wi-fi (wireless fidelity) for jurors wishing to bring laptop computers with them. There is an extensive and current magazine collection but we do encourage you to bring reading materials, crafts, or other projects to pass the time.
Sounds like I'd be able to get lots of homework (or popsicle-stick houses? That's all I can think of when I hear the word "crafts.") done down there. But I'd be missing out on lectures and class discussion, and that would really set me back.


Thursday, March 01, 2007

March the first: a historical perspective

There's a mountain of strategy case reading to do tonight, and a meeting agenda to plan out, but first, I shall creak open the musty memory-books.

Fifteen years ago, on 3/1/92, I was working at Dairy Queen, and I used to bring home extra food. And I crowed about my fast-food fortune in my journal:

Tonight I got from DQ: 4 chicken patties, 7 chicken nuggets, a large and small frozen shake, and a medium sundae. All this would have been thrown away.
Sixteen years ago, 3/1/91, I had a crush on a girl, my neighbor Lyndi. And I was a band geek (trombone).
I talked to Lyndi briefly. These past few weeks, I have not been talking to her very much. But after I talked to her today, I started liking her again mass.

That afternoon everyone in the band went to see "The Slience of the Lambs." We went to the mall and I bought the first "They Might be Giants" tape, self-titled, made in 1986.
Back on 3/1/89, I was rolling in the dough:
Dad was in a good mood, and he gave me $10.00! He also gave me $2.25 for lunch, which I used today to buy hot lunch and two pops (one for me, one for Dorj). Today we took the test in Geometry on chapter 9, "Right triangles and the Pythogorean Theorem."
22 years ago, on 2/26/84 (not too far from 3/1), I hope I didn't have a temperature that high:
I had my pajamas on all day today. I have a bad fever. I might sleep on the couch tonight! (I'm writing in the couch). We didn't go swimming last night because I had such a high tempature. Today my temp. was about 202 degrees. The time is: 8:42 PM 45 seconds.


Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Photo from last week's Silicon Valley trip

Scurrying out into the Yahoo! parking lot:

More about the trip here.