Wednesday, August 31, 2005

First Day Of Classes

Well, today was the first day of classes. I had two: Data (aka Statistics) and Economic Analysis. Today's Data lecture was designed to familiarize people with probability. The Econ lecture was part lecture, part class exercise.

The Econ professor took 12 students (myself included) and gave them each one ticket to a baseball game. Each ticket was valued at $55. We were instructed to sell the tickets to the buyers - another group of 12 students. Before we started selling, someone in the group had the idea of setting a maximum and minimum price that all of us sellers agreed to adhere to no matter what. Our max was $400. Our min was $200. What we didn't know was that the buyers were given an amount that they were willing to pay and that they couldn't exceed that amount. Those amounts ranged from $25 to $50, with most buyers at $30. Obviously, when the buyers and sellers got together to begin the negotiations, the gap was quite wide. When a buyer who could only pay $25 for a ticket informed me that he had a max and showed me the slip of paper verifying this, I decided to search for someone who was able to pay more. I found someone with a maximum of $40 and sold my ticket to her. The thing was, sellers were told that they could not get a refund for the tickets, nor would they be able to use them. If we didn't sell our tickets, we would be out $55. Some of the sellers didn't end up selling their tickets as the buyers who were left could only spend $30 or less. I don't understand why some of the sellers decided to lose the entire $55 instead of just $25. It probably had something to do with the fact that this was simply an exercise and not real life. In the real world, we probably would have taken $1 if it was all we could get.

And this, ladies and gents, was our simple introduction to supply and demand. We graphed the demand curve and the supply curve and then plotted the actual results. This enabled us to see the consumer surplus and producer surplus. I really enjoyed this class.

Monday's and Wednesday's are short days for the folks in my cohort: We start at 1 p.m. and end at 4 p.m. with one 20 minute break in-between. Tuesday's and Thursday's are going to be more challenging, with classes beginning at 8:15 and ending at 2:20.

Tomorrow: Finance, Strategic Environment of Management, and Accounting.

Monday, August 29, 2005


I've already started to procrastinate. My accounting assignment is due on Wednesday, but I just can't bring myself to start doing the work.

Instead, I've decided to confess my admiration for Dolly Parton, who once said, "You'd be surprised how much it costs to look this cheap!" Compare the if you can't make fun of yourself... humility of Dolly Parton to the I will not be mocked arrogance of George Clooney and other annoying celebrities, and you can see why I find her a compelling personality.

I downloaded "Islands In The Stream" the other day and added it to my Shits & Giggles playlist. The song makes me laugh. It probably makes Dolly laugh, too. Dolly rocks.

Image hosted by

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Orientation Is Over

The second week of orientation began with us breaking up into large groups and doing a case study together. We spent the weekend between the first and second weeks of orientation prepping – reading the case and answering questions – so that when we met up on Monday we would be able to participate in the professor-led discussion at the beginning of the day. We were then divided up into smaller groups and asked to focus on a particular issue. My team was tasked with answering the Economics questions - demand and competitive advantage. We were given an hour-and-a-half to work on the questions, but my team wanted extra time and decided to work through the lunch hour. My team was comprised entirely of shepherds. And yet, we got along very well. Everybody managed to take on a different leadership role. I served as the group’s secretary, typing our responses. This meant that I also had to keep the group on track, reminding my team mates of how much time we had remaining and calling upon them to synthesize their ideas into answers suitable for presenting. When we were finished, we met up again as a larger group and gave our presentations. It was a great introduction to case studies. Afterwards, we had wine and cheese with faculty in the courtyard.

On Tuesday, we went to the Yale Center for British Art and performed an exercise whereby we were each asked to describe certain aspects of a painting without interpreting what we were seeing. This was nearly impossible. Afterwards, we went to the gym to compete against other cohorts in events ranging from bacci ball to basketball. I believe this was intended to develop cohort pride. A few of my classmates, however, wound up with sprains. And one cohort was a little too competitive, which most of felt was not in spirit with the event or the school. I hope the school reconsiders its approach to this event next year. Afterwards, we went for a picnic at a local beach and had barbecue. It was a very civilized way to end the day.

Wednesday was spent with the CDO, looking at our resumes and going through the ins-and-outs of the recruiting process. We then met our SYAs (second-year advisors) for dinner. After dinner, we met up with some other SYAs and their groups. I met somebody I hadn’t yet and ended up talking to that person for two hours. When I looked at my watch, it was a little past midnight. It was time for me to go home because the next day was going to be a busy one.

Thursday was “SOM in the City” day. We met at the school and loaded up onto buses. We headed to Union Station and took over the last four cars of a train heading to New York City. About two hours later, we were at the Yale Club in Midtown Manhatten. If you’ve never been to the Yale Club, see if the club offers tours. It’s really a stunning space. We had lunch there and heard Ranji Nagaswami speak. She is Vice Chairman and CIO of Alliance Bernstein Investment Management. She’s also an inspiring speaker and someone to emulate. After lunch, we went on our company visits. We then made our way to the New York Stock Exchange for a gala reception on the trading floor. Just being there made for a truly awesome experience.

On Friday night, some second-years decided to have a party on Mansfield street, which is where many SOMers live. They had two kegs and plenty of hard alcohol. They also hired the guy who runs a burrito cart in front of the SOM during lunch hour to bring his cart to their house and serve burritos to guests in the backyard. The theme of the party was eighties/early 90’s and many of my classmates dressed up. “Livin’ On A Prayer” by Bon Jovi was the best song selected for the event. But the best thing about the event was having so many second-years there. I was impressed at how happy they were to see each other and to be back at school. They seemed very confident. Will the class of 2008 make the same observations about me and my classmates next August? I hope so.

Orientation lasted two weeks. This may seem like a long time, but I can honestly say that I have never felt more prepared for anything. Classes start on Wednesday and I already have homework that needs to get done. The professor who led our case-study discussion on Monday described the first year at SOM as “boot camp” because there’s a lot to learn and not a lot of time in which to learn it. These two weeks have exposed us to a lot. It was “Go! Go! Go!” from 8 a.m. to midnight (7 p.m. for the less social among us, of which there were not many) every day. But we all survived, just as we will this year.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

What Do We Want?!

MONEY! (with social consciousness . . .)

What do we want?!

MONEY! (with social consciousness . . .)

This is what our Math Camp instructor had the class shout at the beginning of yesterday's session.

It's very, very Yale. I love it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Orientation (So Far)

These past three days have been something of a blur, but I will try to give a coherent account of what's happened along with some of my impressions.

Day 1 started with us meeting in the Hall of Mirrors to pick up our name tags. Our name tags also had our group assignments, which we needed to know for the team-building exercises that we would have later in the day with Outward Bound of NYC. After meeting in the Hall of Mirrors, we went to hear the Dean speak. His speech included examples of accomplished alumni. He spoke about our class. And he encouraged us to think about our values as we moved through our professional lives. He officially welcomed us to SOM, then we all went to meet with the facilitators from Outward Bound. The rest of my day was spent with a group of 12 other people from my cohort. We worked together to solve problems like: building a bridge to cross an imaginary river using 6 boards of varying lengths, fitting everyone on a see-saw that had only one access point, and building a rocket ship that we then had to present to other groups from the same cohort. It was fun and even challenging at times. That night, almost everyone went to a local bar. I ended up coming home at around 1 a.m.

Day 2 began with a laptop configuration session. It took longer than the alloted two hours. Fortunately, I had time to grab lunch before my first day of Math Camp.

Math Camp has been frustrating for me insofar as there are a lot of people in the class who do not need it. Clearly, many of classmates have a firm grasp of Calculus. I haven't taken Calculus in years, so I feel like an idiot every time I see one of the people who don't need Math Camp go up to the board and complete a problem without any difficulty. Truth be told, that's my problem. I find working on math problems in a group setting a little intimidating. I need to get over this . . . and fast.

That night, many of us (although a much smaller number of people than the night before) went to a graduate student bar on campus. Again, I got home at 1 a.m.

Day 3 (Today!) was a little more difficult. The energy required to make it through the first two days resulted in my oversleeping this morning. I missed a mandatory class and will now have to try to go to the Friday session. I did manage to make it to my class on professional communication. Very interesting stuff. Common mistakes made in professional writing and speech. We even had to sing a little bit - an attempt to help us understand the musicality of the English language. Particularly relevant to those of us who speak in monotone.

My impressions so far: Great school, amazing students. The team building exercises presented us with an excellent opportunity to see some of our classmates' strengths and weaknesses. We also got to see how each of us behaved in a group setting. I was impressed overall by our ability to work together. There was one person on my team, however, who made it a point to (unnecessarily) correct other people in the group. I don't think I would want to have him in any study group of which I am a member.

Overall, I'm in a class full of very talented people from an incredible number of backgrounds. I have yet to meet anyone with a profile like mine; and, listening to my classmates, it's become evident to me that no one in my class is very much like any one else in terms of his/her professional experience. In broad strokes, maybe; but certainly not in the details.

One thing does irk me, but it has nothing to do with the school. It's my perception that West Coast people and East Coast people are very different, especially the guys. Most of the men here, while friendly enough, strike me as hyper-masculine. And words like "dude" and "bro" are used far too often. Is it insecurity? Or is it simply a socialization issue? In any case, I find it easier to talk to people from my own coast and international students. East Coast people seem more foreign to me than actual foreigners. Very bizarre.

Two more days of nuts-and-bolts sessions. Then, it's off to New York for the weekend. I have to be back in New Haven on Monday for the second week of orientation, which will be busier and more interesting. Actually, I'm getting somewhat impatient for classes to start. I want to get this show on the road.

Monday, August 15, 2005

The First Day

Well, I made it home in one piece. I'm really very intoxicated. Needless to say, I met tons of people from a variety of backgrounds and had a great time.

I'm exhausted and hope to write more tomorrow. I have a feeling these next few weeks will be more about developing friendships than anything else.

Tomorrow morning, I pick up my student ID card, my schedule for the first term, and my new computer. Then, it's Math Camp in the afternoon. I met a few people who will be in Math Camp with me. Apparently, a number of people opted to the take the course. It should probably be required given everything that's covered. I will give a more thorough description of the course tomorrow. . . . I hope.

Okay. I'm off to bed. Goodnight.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

In 9 Hours . . .

. . . I'll be joining my classmates for coffee.

In 10 hours, I'll be in an auditorium, listening to the Dean welcome the Class of 2007 to the Yale School of Management.

In 12 hours, I'll be doing team-building exercises.

In 24 hours, I'll be writing about the day . . . or drinking with classmates.

After months of preparation, August 15th - the first day of orientation - is officially just 17 minutes away.

It feels really good.

The Trip

Warning: This is a very long post.

On the afternoon of Wednesday, July 27th, my friend and I embarked on our cross-country adventure.

Day 1: California & Nevada

Image hosted by

Driving along the 80 out of San Francisco, through the Central Valley, and into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada felt familiar. We made it to the Nevada border in about four hours. Shortly after passing Reno, we switched to Highway 50, aka “The Loneliest Road in America.” It lives up to its name. We passed maybe 7 vehicles on the drive through Nevada. We stopped for gas in Eureka – a sad little town with big bug problem. According the grizzled gas station attended, Mormon Crickets were the town’s biggest worry. We were encouraged to kill as many of them as we could because, “They destroy the crops.” My friend and I found this statement odd. As far as we could tell, the town was in the middle of the desert. We continued on through Nevada at night. We opened the sunroof so that we could enjoy the view of the sky. I have never seen so many stars. It was truly breath-taking. After thirty minutes of feeling as though I were in a Volkswagen commercial, an enormous beetle dropped in through the sunroof and landed in the car with a thud. This insect must have been as big as my head. And it looked hungry. When it comes to giant insects, I’m flight (no fight). So what do I do? At 90 mph, I start to open the car door. Obviously, I wasn’t thinking clearly. I don’t know if I intended to jump or if I hoped that opening the car door would create the suction necessary to tear the beetle from its dashboard perch and send it flying into the ether. In any case, my friend (who was driving, thank God), managed to slow down the vehicle and bring it to a complete stop before calmly removing the beetle from the car. I truly admire her bravery. My friend spent the rest of the trip trying to convince me that the beetle was not only much smaller than I remember, but harmless as well. I disagree. It looked like it was big enough to hold a fork and a knife. It wanted to eat us. In any case, we continued on through Nevada and arrived in Ely, a town on the eastern end of Nevada, at around 1 a.m. We found a motel with a vacancy and slept the rest of the night. Total miles traveled: 540.

Image hosted by
California mountains and stream.

Image hosted by
Nevada desert and mountains.

Day 2: Nevada, Utah, & Colorado

Image hosted by Image hosted by

We were back on the road at 9:30 a.m. the following morning. In no time at all, we were in Utah. The western third of the drive was mostly desert – not very inspiring. But the middle third was incredible. Beautiful red mountains and rocks. We decided to swing by Arches National Park, near Moab. It’s very impressive – this nature stuff. Unfortunately, I once again found myself under attack. This time, by mosquitoes. I fought them off as best I could, but a few of the lucky ones managed to bite. We left Arches after about an hour and were in Colorado by dusk. Most of our journey through the western half of Colorado happened at night, so I missed the scenic part of the state. We arrived in Boulder at 11 p.m. and pulled into our friend’s driveway. We left immediately for a nearby restaurant and finished the night with a couple of beers at a bar before returning to our friend’s place to crash. Total miles traveled: 700.

Image hosted by
Arches National Park 1.

Image hosted by
Arches National Park 2.

Image hosted by
Arches National Park 3.

Day 3: Colorado, Kansas, & Missouri

Image hosted by Image hosted by

I started off the morning by going to a gym in Boulder called Rally. Very nice facilities. We didn’t leave the city until noon. Boulder was very charming and almost all of the people there were very athletic and tanned. It was like being in L.A., only the people in Boulder had a more natural beauty to them. Driving out of Boulder, through Denver, and into eastern Colorado was depressing. That half of the state was flat and appeared to be reserved for the raising cattle. I’m sure you can imagine the smell. We were very relieved when we crossed the border into Kansas a few hours later.

Kansas was surprising. I was sure it would be flat and dull, with corn and wheat fields for miles and miles. Actually, southern Illinois looked more like the Kansas of my imagination than Kansas did. Kansas is rolling hills and grass. On the side of the highway, I saw an enormous billboard that read, “Stop Abortion. Save a life.” Not surprising for a state that went to Bush in 2004. However, several miles down the same highway I saw another sign with similar colors and lettering that read, “Keep abortion. Save a beating.” It seemed kind of odd to me that this sort of debate would be taken up on billboards along a major interstate highway, but it was refreshing to see that both sides of this issue were being debated at all, especially in the more conservative western half of the state. Eventually, we had to stop for gas, so we pulled into gas station. I walked into the bathroom and straight to the urinal. I guess the guy who was giving himself a paper-towel bath at the sink decided that he didn’t like me very much because on his way out the door, he said, “You have a lot of never coming in here looking like that. I ought to kick your ass.” He then slammed the door behind him. I was the only one in the bathroom, so I assumed he was talking to me. People, I was wearing a pair of Levi’s, a t-shirt, and sneakers. I could have been anyone’s next door neighbor in any state in the country. Was he upset that I didn’t say, “Hi”? Or did the standard-issue plain white tee just really piss him off. I think he was just looking for a fight. We left the gas station and drove to Topeka. Being close to the end of the month, we passed a number of ticket-happy state patrol officers looking to meet their quota. Once in Topeka, we pulled off the highway and into a Denny’s, where everyone was very friendly. After dinner, we drove through Kansas City, which has a beautiful skyline, to Columbia, Missouri, where we pulled in around 1:30 a.m. We found a motel and crashed at 2:00 p.m. Total miles traveled: 750.

Image hosted by
The mighty Mississippi.

Day 4: Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, & Pennsylvania

Image hosted by Image hosted by
Image hosted by Image hosted by

About a hundred miles west of the Missouri River was where the hot, humid weather began. It stayed with us through rest of the trip. We spent Day 4 going through the eastern half of Missouri, southern Illinois, central Indiana, northern Ohio, and eastern Pennsylvania. The Indianapolis skyline wasn’t terribly impressive, but it was nice to see my mom’s home state and to see the exit sign for her home town. I took a picture of it to send to her. In Ohio, we began to encounter a lot of road work. And, near Akron, a lot of drunk drivers. It was a Saturday night. I guess we should have expected it? There was also a lot of road work in Pennsylvania. We wanted to get through as much of it as possible, so we drove until we reached Danville. (I’m kind of sorry that we did. I hear Pennsylvania is beautiful. We traveled through the Appalachians in the wee hours of the morning, which means that we probably missed some great scenery.) We found a motel and went to sleep at 3 a.m. Total miles traveled: 950.

Image hosted by
A field in Indiana.

Image hosted by
Pennsylvania countryside.

Day 5: Pennsylvania, New York, & Connecticut

Image hosted by Image hosted by

We got up at 10 a.m. and went to breakfast. We were on the road by 11:30. We crossed the rest of Pennsylvania, drove just north of New York City, and into Connecticut. Upon reaching Connecticut, we were in desperate need of a restroom, so we kept stopping at food stores and gas stations – mom-and-pop outfits that didn’t have public restrooms. Finally, we spotted a Dunkin’ Donuts and stopped there. It was while standing outside of this establishment that I realized just how terrible the weather was. The humidity in the eastern half of the country smothers you. The short walk from the car to the entrance of the Dunkin’ Donuts was enough to make my clothes stick to me. Once ready, we carried on toward New Haven. We got a little lost on the way to the apartment and wound up in some not-so-safe neighborhoods. We found our way quickly enough and were soon pulling into the driveway adjacent to my new home. The time was 4:30 p.m. Total miles traveled: 250.

Image hosted by
A New York farm.

Overall, the trip was a lot of fun. Would I do it again? Probably not. I got to visit states that I would most likely never travel to again (like Kansas and Missouri); but the Plains aren’t very exciting, and there isn’t any way to avoid them on a cross country trip.

Moving was the real hassle. Packing boxes, dealing with movers, fitting all remaining items inside the car – these were frustrating. I, of course, waited until the last minute to pack my belongings. Denial, I suppose. I worked for two full days on three hours of sleep with two friends helping me to make my deadline. It was insane. I had so much stuff, and every time I thought I was finished with a room (especially the kitchen), I would find more items that needed packing.

My advice for anyone planning a similar journey:

  • Do not wait until the last minute to start packing.
  • Bring a friend who enjoys driving.
  • Make sure your friend is unafraid of giant, man-eating bugs.
  • If heading East during the summer, be mentally prepared for the heat and humidity.
  • Take lots of pictures.
  • Enjoy the ride.

Image hosted by
The route.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Another Quickie

Just a quick post to let everyone know what's going on.

I arrived in New Haven on Sunday, July 31st, as anticipated. The trip across country was great. My arrival in New Haven wasn't. It turns out that my apartment isn't finished quite yet. I have no toilet, no shower, and no kitchen. The landlord has been really cool about the whole situation and I am currently staying in his guest room. But I have not been able to settle in to my new apartment, which is why I moved here when I did.

As with any move to a new town, finding things has been a little difficult. The student intranet site tells you where to find your bank, where to buy groceries, etc., but it doesn't tell you where the nearest electronics store or gym is.

I've been spending a lot of time in NYC. Tomorrow's my birthday, so I'm heading into the city to celebrate. Then, it's back to New Haven and, hopefully, an apartment that is ready for me to move in to.

I'll write more about my trip, life in New Haven, and the SOM once I get access to the internet on my own computer. (I'm buying a wireless card in NYC tomorrow.)

I wish I had more time to write, but I'm being charged by the minute here. I look forward to catching up on my blog reading in the very near future.