Sunday, August 31, 2008

Come Sail Away

Today, I finally made good on one of the things that I'd been looking to do: MIT offers free sailing classes, and I love boats and water, but hadn't gotten around to getting to a class yet with everything else going on.

We were given around 3 hours of instruction, and then put into the boats. We found out afterwards, that the conditions out there were super-challenging today - hard wind that was changing direction every few minutes. The dinghy was tough to control - every time we trimmed the sail, the boat would catch the wind so fiercely that it would threaten to capsize (that did happen to several people).

It was after a few of those tries that my partner in the boat let me know that she had water phobias and was starting to panic... a few minutes later, she was in a panic. Unfortunately, with no accelaration from the wind, we were stuck in the water... And every time we tried to accelarate the boat would threaten to capsize until we got going (turning the boats is actually one of the hardest things to do). Finally, one of our classmates who is a volunteer came over on a motorboat and authoritatively told me to take over doing both sailing responsibilities - steering (which I had been doing), and trimming the sail to make it catch the wind and power the craft. I was able to sail back to the dock by myself - which was pretty challenging but fun and a great learning experience, though my landing wasn't so smooth once I got there.

We were referred to materials to review to become more proficient in sailing, and after we have a good idea of what's going on, we can go and take out a boat whenever. I'd love to do it, but that puts into question, do I have enough time to add this to my plate with everything else?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

CEOs and Beer Games

Thursday heralded the end of orientation. It had been a crazy week - 12-14 hours a day of constant activity. The day opened with a session with the CEO who was the protagonist of the case we'd read earlier in the week. He explained more detail on the situation, gave us the low-down of what had gone on after the case had ended, and took our questions. Then he gave us his 6 pieces of advice for running a company - and this is from a guy that ran a multi-billion dollar company - unreal.

We ended orientation by playing the Beer Game, which actually doesn't involve drinking beer. It's ultimately a market-psychological experiment that always repeats itself with similar results, and predicates that ultimately, you will not totally trust the other players, and create an inefficient market. My partner and I came up with a strategy to follow to make sure that her and I wouldn't panic at any moment, and it worked well, but the other teams weren't so fruitful... Fascinating game. I want to play again!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Team Building in The Woods

Whew, yet another whirlwind set of days. Orientation was in full swing. Tuesday found us dissecting values, and then working on our first case to get into the Case Method groove, which will consitute about 30% of our classwork. It had been about 5 years since I had done any case-work, and I was admittedly, very rusty. It also felt bizarre being back in the "classroom".

The big highlight of the week though was our time out in the woods at the Warren Center, doing team mind puzzles, raft building, and a ropes course. It had been probably a decade, if not more since I had done something like this, and I think that I wasn't mature enough then to really grasp everything... but I felt like this day was invaluable... Sure enough, I felt that many of my personality traits were revealed, some bad, some good.

Experientially, I was put into a project management role during one of the activities, and felt in my comfort zone, like I was back in the middle of a hospital go-live from my Epic days - barking orders and directing multiple activities all at one. Then, there were others where I was like a fish out of water, like one challenger where I was blind-folded through the whole thing, and had to rely on my other teammates to direct me through the woods, and then go through what seemed like a very complex activity.

A big highlight for me also was making it to the top of the Giants Ladder. I felt like I could make it up a few rungs with no issue, but the top one had only 1 rope to grab on to for 4 people, and just seemed freaky. The three other people climbing and I bonded instantly on the ladder, and we all made it up with awesome teamwork. I hate to sound so hokey, but when you're hanging on some unstable logs 2 stories up, you really get to know people quick.

I thoroughly enjoyed the day, and was ready to do even more activities. I still made it out on Thursday night to the bars with tons of other classmates, but hit the wall and had to make a beeline out to crash for the night.

Monday, August 25, 2008


Made it through Day 1 of MBA Orientation - heard speeches from the MIT Pres, Sloan Dean, and others; met our cohorts and our core team, and then went to a variety of sessions spanning from MIT Life and Team Building to Finance and Entrepreneurship. The night was capped off with an amazing Clam Bake that featured steamed lobsters to go around aside from clams and a raw bar. Exhausted now.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Pic from the Barbeque

This is the only aerial shot I've been able to find. This is just a small section of our driveway, and our living room was pretty full as well. This must have been taken in the respite I got from grilling duties towards the end of the night.

Also, below is a video I found from the Faint concert I went to:

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Non-stop Activity

The past few days have been a blur. Too much to do, and every minute chock full of activity. Besides continuing with Finance, Accounting, Econ, and Finance review, there have been numerous social events and happy hours. Additionally on Wednesday, I made it to see the Faint. They were great, but only played for about 75 minutes! At 11 on the dot, the venue turned on the lights, and that was the end of that - amazing.

The highlight though has been a party that we hosted on Thursday - ultimately 130 to 150 people made it over, and our place was somehow able to hold everyone. I was a grilling machine, trying to feed all those mouths, and though hectic, it all worked out. All of this has tired me out big time, as was evidenced by a three hour nap yesterday when I got back from class - I just couldn't take it anymore!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Smartening a Phone

Today, I figured out how to get Gmail and Facebook on my regular phone, in effect, turning it into a Smartphone without a QWERTY pad. That in turn made me feel smart. Now, to see if I can sync it to my MIT mail and calendar.

A surpising new hair accessory

Now that I'm biking to school, I had to make a vital decision: style vs. safety. Though afraid that my hair would be ruined for full days of pre-term revision class fun, meeting new classmates for the first time; the overwhelming fact that my Murphy's luck would kick in the first time I neglected to wear a helmet made me veer to the geeky, but secure side.

Miraculously, I've found that my helmet actually makes my hair better! It feels silkier, and as my hair is usually out of control a la Harry Potter, the initial pressure on my scalp in the morning somehow manages to hold it in place. Possible 100K idea here if I can figure out how to remarket this as the opposite of curlers.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Second days are always better

After re-doing many Calculus derivatives problems over again after coming back from a late impromptu happy hour, I felt a lot more comfortable with Day 1 of pre-term. Today, things seemed a lot easier... Perhaps my math wheels have started turning. Probably, it was that a lot of the material covered today was either relevant from the news, or from my GMAT prep. I found myself in the position of explaining things to others... interesting.

Back to school

Yesterday was the first day of pre-term. I rolled in with very little sleep from still having cleaned up from last night's grill test run at 7:45, and from 8-3, was bombarded with Accounting, Calc, Econ, and Finance.

Good news - Econ knowledge ain't bad.

Bad news - I could hear the rust grating off in my brain as I attempted to do Calculus after several years.

I'll be back tomorrow morning at 8 for more.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Boy meets grill

We just put our grill together yesterday and gave it a test run... This is all in preparation for hosting 80+ people for a pre-term grill-out on Thursday. The Argentine in me is on cloud 9... This thing is a monster with a bunch of grilling fine tuning... probably as much as I could have gotten without building my own into the building like they do in Argentina.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

I got wheels!

I now have a viable mode of transportation other than my legs. For the first time, I will be using a bike to get to places. I feel very environmentally friendly at the moment.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Demand is a beautiful thing

Interesting CNN article here. Apparently, there is so much pent up demand for electric cars which is being unmet by car manufacturers, that a bunch of DIYers are taking matters into their own hands and building their own. Sound like the early adopters are ready. Let's see which car manufacturer is the first with a commercially sound product.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Putting Faces to Names

Yesterday, I went to a pre-pre-term gathering at at one of the hangouts "Sloanie bars", and was confronted with a huge crowd of unknown faces. I felt like I knew a fair amount of students from the summer gatherings of DC-based Sloanies and the AdMIT weekend I attended, but apparently I was mistaken.

We have a Google board that many2010 Sloanies have been connected into (and generates 100s of emails a day), and I feel like I've gotten to know many of the frequent posters... It was interesting going around the room, meeting people, asking for their last name, and figuring out that they're the ones that wrote the amazing breakdown of the US sub prime mortgage crisis, or the person who had given spot-on restaurant recommendations in Boston, etc. The best was bumping into some of the people who I had corresponded with on the side, based on their posts, and finally putting the face to the name.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It can be done!

Although he may be oversimplifying a bit, Thomas Friedman details a case study of Denmark's energy strategy, which has led them to be completely independent from the Middle East's petroleum.

Denmark accomplished this through government intervention in setting the stage for making innovation in the energy field competitive, and then let their domestic entrepreneurs and markets take off. This has also positively affected their unemployment rate as Denmark is becoming a front runner in alternative energy technology and is turning it's market view towards the rest of the world.

Denmark is significantly smaller than the US, China, India, and many other of the top petroleum importers, but still, if they can do it, there's no reason others can't.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Soggy Boston

It's rained pretty heavily every day in Boston since we arrived in the middle of the night a week ago. Luckily, as I'm still setting up the apartment, this has made me feel better about the dashed illusions I had of playing tennis every day until pre-term.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

The Neverending Unpack

This is day 5 or so of unpacking. I've lost count. Our apartment was in bad shape when we moved in. There is a significant amount of damage, like a broken screen door, broken windows, broken light fixtures, etc. Aside from that, the place was absolutely filthy, and some of the previous tenants stuff was still in there. We didn't feel like touching anything until a professional cleaner came in.

This has slowed us down quite a bit, and half of the stuff is still broken. After multiple calls to the property manager, we may get new contractors, because the ones that are working for us are pretty unreliable, barely speak English, and as I usually am understood pretty well by Portuguese speakers (and vice versa), I think that they're pretending to not understand my Spanish.

The place is still a huge work in progress. There probably won't be many more posts until we've set everything up. There goes my expectations of effortless days of exploring and tennis before pre-term started.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Electric Slide

Here's an interesting article about technologies being developed to capture the energy that humans create when moving and turning it into electricity. Aside from some gyms in Hong Kong and Portland, there's a dance club in Rotterdam, NL, that has crystals under the floor which rub against eachother when people atop them dance. I wonder how much the Thriller dance would generate?

Monday, August 4, 2008

Finally made it

The drive to Philly was uneventful, there was no one on the road. Assuming that the ride would be as effortless as my roommate driving his scooter up the U-Haul ramp (pictured on left), we even felt the luxury to drive out for cheese steaks. And then we discovered the traffic disaster that is the US eastern seaboard. 2 hours of traffic bypassing New York, and then another 2.5 hours in separate incidents in Connecticut got us into Cambridge at 12:30AM, when we were supposed to be in around 8.

Luckily, one of our classmates was open to helping us move in at that time, and help he did! We finished moving in at 3 (without him, we wouldn't have made it before day-break), dropped off the U-Haul by 4AM, and I finally hit the sack at 5AM. After a few hours of sleep, I was back up, working all day to unpack and set things up. We made a dent, but there's so much more to be done. This whole 48 hours feels like one long alien continuum.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

You know a space is big when it echoes

The 26' U-Haul we got may have been a bit too much. My stuff, and one of my roommates things are in there, and we haven't even taken up half the truck.

Tomorrow, we're off early in the morning. First, to Philly to pick up roommate number 3 and pack his stuff in, and then on to Cambridge.

Friday, August 1, 2008


"It's always darkest right before dawn"
- Harvey Dent