Monday, April 17, 2006

13: Spice

Soft couches, backless uniforms, chicken samosas, kumquat mojitos and blogger buddies at Spice Market.

Scrolling: Nick Warren at TLV Tel-Aviv

After driving 160 miles to NYC through rain and toll booths, waiting for the C train which never came, hopping on to C's neighbor, and a few transfers, I reached Spice Market for the bloggers' underground meeting.

I asked for Cutie but the maitre d' was clueless. Then a girl came over and started talking to him. I caught the word 'MBA'. It was Cutie - MBA Cutie. We were then led into a room with verdigris on the walls, intricately carved wooden windows, white couches that one could sink into and a few round tables in the center.

Vikram arrived. Then Redwolf056, MBAformein08, Wheresmydessert, Marina and MBA Jackass. MBAformein08 brought a friend along - let's call her Caroline. She was wearing pointy shoes. I made it a point not to offend her.

The menu consisted of cocktails, appetizers and desserts. Ordering the food was a good team-building/leadership/management exercise. After the budding bschoolers failed to come to a consensus, the smart waitress suggested that we order two of each item. That would've been fine, except that the vegetarians would have gone home hungry; there were limited veggie offerings. So, we modified the smart waitress's suggestion a bit.

We then closed the curtains. MBA Jackass started chugging scotch on the rocks and telling us about the importance of being punctual to a classical music concert. The appetizers came and vanished. Wheresmydessert said, "Where's my dessert?". Seven of us ordered the Vietnamese coffee tart. Caroline got the Ovaltine Kulfi and MBA Jackass got the Rice Pudding.

Redwolf056 had quit his job a few hours ago and was leaving on a twenty-country tour soon, so he left after dessert to meet other friends. The rest of us tagged along with MBAformein08 to her friend's going away party.

It was interesting to meet other bloggers. All of them are nice, easygoing people. I still don't know what their long term career goals are.

Friday, March 17, 2006

12: Game

I just finished watching two real life experiments in Game Theory on ABC's Primetime.

Scrolling: Dining Rooms - Catania City Blues.

In the first experiment, six pairs of people started out at different locations in Manhattan and each pair had to find the other five pairs, whom they knew nothing about. Within three hours, three pairs were able to find each other in the Empire State Building, while the other three pairs collided at Times Square! Unknowingly, the participants applied Game Theory by thinking " Where would the other pairs expect to find us and at what time?"

In the second experiment, five people, who wanted to lose weight but had been unsuccessful in the past, were photographed in skimpy swimsuits. A deal was struck in which each person had to lose at least fifteen pounds in two months, failing which, her/his swimsuit photograph would be shown on network tv and the internet. Four out of five people lost more than fifteen pounds, one was three pounds short! The theory was to use a seemingly real threat to drive people to action.

Both theories are prevalent in our lives. Examples given by Primetime were relationships and war. I think, for bschool applicants, bschoolers and business people, a brush with these theories is quite common.

Even though adcoms harp about letting your true self shine through in the essays, I think applicants use game theory and try to write what they think the adcom wants to read. If they have a weakness, they strategize how to put it in a way that would have the minimum impact on the adcom, all the while sprinkling their strengths on the weakness and on top of that striving to show their strengths in a unique light. The same goes for interviews. If the interviewer is a student, your answer to a question would be different from the answer to the same question asked by an admissions officer - you theorize that the student and officer might have different perspectives and would like to hear different answers. Bschoolers go through the game while networking or applying for jobs.

What are deadlines? They are a threat. What are rolling admissions? Threat again.

Business people would be able to go nowhere without playing the game. If a TV executive doesn't think about what people want to watch, or an investor can't think about what other investors might be thinking, then poof!

Looks like business/management is gradually becoming 100% science. Using game theoretic methods to predict human behavior, one could just put parameters into a computer and get step-by-step moves on how to be a perfect leader or strategist.

My point is: I was concerned about being unable to find other bloggers at the Spice Market gathering in NYC on April 14th because I don't know what they look like. Since six pairs of strangers could find each other in Manhattan, I think I'll manage. Maybe we could play a game and make it unmanageable.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

11: Back

I am back.

Scrolling: Laptop fan, humidifier purr, hard disk murmur but no music

I submitted my UCLA application yesterday. I am finally done with applications. Now I have to wait. If I don't get any interview calls, life will be easy. If I get any interview calls, I will have to match my socks with my clothes and pluck my eyebrows. If I get dinged after going through all that, life will again be easy. If I don't, ah! Life will be really hard.

While working on my applications, a number of times I would just wander in random directions. The essay questions are so hard that even Google doesn't have answers. Trying to concoct answers long enough to come close to 90% of the word limit, I kept going off track. For example, when I was answering the "Why UCLA" question, first I got sensible reasons like "proximity to the pacific coast highway", but as time went by, all that came to my mind was "why a tie?"

Why a tie? That's something Google has answers to. 226 answers. Wait, I take my words back. Google does have 9420 answers to "Why UCLA". Why didn't I see this 16 page answer before? The professor puts the answer to the question on her website and I still fail the test. Then I complain.

Anyway, back to ties. I read the first answer Google came up with. It didn't convince me. Sometimes I think a tie makes sense, after all, it's an accessory, like a nose ring, or a highlight, like a tattoo or a statement, like the word "Mom" shaved on a person's head. But it's really not. It's made of fabric. So it has to have a purpose. Everything else made of fabric has a purpose - shirt, skirt, pants, jacket, shorts. I talked about this with my neighbor and she added that caps are made of fabric too. They do have a purpose though - you can put the initials of the bschool you went to or are currently attending, right smack on the cap in big letters on the front, the full name on the back, and the logo on the right and left. They also hide bald spots, shade your face from the sun and stares (or son and stairs? heh, that's cool), save other people from getting a taste of your hair in their food, enable you to play frisbee if you don't have a frisbee, protect you from bird droppings and last but not the least, work well as a begging bowl.

Writing bschool essays has paid off. After writing reasons for why I chose to do better in subject A and not in subject B in 7th grade, why I went to college instead of auditioning for roles in Tarantino films, why I decided to be in charge of procuring donuts at work and why the long term goal in my career is to retire (how long is long?), I can now answer any "Why X?"

But I still don't get it, why a tie?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

10: Ding

I got dinged by Columbia.

Scrolling: Fila Brazillia - It's A Knockout

It would've been nice to get in. Although I am happy that I can still watch Seinfeld and sleep 8 hours a day. I am grateful that I have good food, clean water and heat. I am thankful that I did not lose my house or loved ones in a hurricane, flood or earthquake.

This means that I need to apply to more schools, which requires me to write essays, fill out forms and beg for recommendations.

Happy Holidays!

Friday, December 16, 2005

9: Electricity

Yesterday, the power went out for 4 hours and then some more.

Scrolling: ...

I didn't know what to do. I couldn't access the internet because the cable modem needs electricity to work. I could've used my cellphone to check my mail but since I am not eagerly awaiting any admission decisions, I didn't. I couldn't watch tv. I could've cooked using a flashlight but it would've been a hassle.

So I just slouched on my couch. I started thinking. I tried to dig up memories from my youth. I was trying to come up with an answer to the UCLA question: "Please provide us with a summary of your personal and family background. Include information about your parents and siblings, where you grew up, and perhaps a highlight or special memory from your youth. (Limit to two pages, double spaced)".

Whenever I try to fool myself into thinking that lying down on the couch and trying to think of answers is a highly constructive utilization of my time, sleep shows up and brings me back to reality.

I slept for 3.5 hours. I was interrupted by numerous phone calls, but everytime I hung up and tried to think about UCLA's question, sleep popped up. When I finally defeated sleep, sat up, grabbed my laptop and typed the lone idea that I dreamed of while sleeping, the electricity came back.

Now I had to do all the stuff I had postponed due to lack of electricity. So I threw my laptop away and turned on the TV. Nothing. My cable box probably blew up when the electricity decided to take a walk. Hmmm. I freak out when things stop working. Tried to catch the waves using the TV's built in antenna. Nothing. Then I bypassed the cable box and stuck the cable directly into the TV. Got it! But I couldn't use the interactive TV guide. So I started from Channel 1. Finally converged upon something interesting to watch. Pop. Zhuck. Crackle. The electricity went out again.

I didn't try and fool myself anymore. Flopped into bed. Fell half asleep. The electricity came back. Fell fully asleep.

Woke up. There was ice outside.

I am stinkingly dependent on electricity for some reason. In 2006, I will try and live without electricity for a week.

Monday, December 05, 2005

8: LA

I am back from a wonderful trip to California.

Scrolling: ...

First, the business school part. I visited UCLA. Although I had planned to apply there even before the visit, now I am even more convinced. The essay questions are a bit weird though.

UCLA Anderson students are pretty people. Even the prospectives were mostly good looking. The students are also a fun-loving, carefree bunch, at least the ones present in the class I attended. They all managed to smile, laugh and crack jokes in a class on a boring, mind-boggling subject. Reminded me of high school. The girls' clothing was quite varied - it ranged from pants that had a good cut and fit well coupled with a nice top and a quality cashmere sweater to white tee, fleece and jeans. Only one student had a Mac. The buildings were sparkly squeaky clean inside. There was a big lawn nearby, with lots of sunshine. And a cafe with lots of fireplaces.

Second, the leisure part. Drove from LA to SF. Got drunk and did some gymnastics on the BART. Next afternoon, took the Pacific Coast Highway back to LA. That was nice, nice, nice. Stopped at Carmel (governed by Clint Eastwood at some point, I think)on the way. Desginer shops, rich people, pampered dogs. It got dark on the way, which made it even more fun. I felt as if I was in outer space, no signs of humanity for miles, just the vast, dark ocean.

Decided to stop at Santa Barbara, since we weren't going make it to LA before the clubs closed. The music in Santa Barbara clubs was really to my taste, especially at this place called Madison. The waitresses were sweet too. Continued to LA, reached home and dropped dead.

Woke up next morning, hit the Walt Disney Concert Hall, MoCA, Schindler House, Pacific Design Center, Urth Cafe, Rodeo Drive, Santa Monica Promenade, The Grove and a club called Here.

Uh, I don't feel like writing any more essays.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

7: Wish

I wish I could read all applicants' "goals" essays before applying to bschool.

Scrolling: Doris Days - To Ulrike M. (original mix)

My computer seems tired. There is a lag between my pressing a key and the alphabet appearing on the screen. I just typed a whole sentence, but it hasn't shown up on the screen, oh wait, here it is! Phew!

I wish I could read about other people's goals because I can't find one of my own. I can't find one that I like. One that I'll stick to. I think of something, feel thrilled about it, start to type it up and then it doesn't come out well.

I don't feel like going to business school. Finance, economics, strategy, marketing, accounting, statistics, operations etc. So boring and so futile. I have a new goal now and they won't help. I want to meet people from another planet. Of course, I might not stick to this goal and go back to my earlier goal of running the Red Cross.

Looking back, I've always hopped goals. In middle school, I wanted to be a magician. After that, for a long time, I didn't have a goal. Then I wanted to write a new Operating System. Didn't last long. New goal: Make a new microprocessor. Too hard. After that I started thinking more down to earth, more practical. Instead of the destination, I started thinking about the journey. I started thinking about career paths. I chose a hardcore engineering path. Couldn't take it. Diversified into making omelets. Seemed interesting for a while but then I thought "what's the point?". Then tragedy struck - the hurricanes, the floods, the earthquake. I decided to make it my goal to help other people. Business school will teach me how to run the Red Cross. I don't feel like doing that either.

I am selfish. I want to enjoy my time here, not spend it helping others. Although I don't want to be here. I want to be on some other planet with some other people. I want to launch myself into space and get lost. Then I can just sleep or look. Look out of the window into space. I have been dreaming a lot these days and the dreams are amazing. I think they'll be even better if I am lost in space.

It's weird that I am thinking of space travel and extraterrestrial intelligence because I used to despise all that. I had no interest in all the balls floating around us or any of NASA's missions. Now I envy Neil Armstrong. Now I think it is better to read his recently published biography "First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong" than write bschool essays. From David Copperfield to Neil Armstrong.

What I am really cut out for is an 8 AM to 5 PM job with an hour for lunch and weekends off. Come home and watch Seinfeld followed by Everybody Loves Raymond. Eat and drink. Have sex. Sleep. Die.