Monthly Archive: October 2008

How hard can it be to find a broadcast of the presidential debate…?

Last night, before I had class, I spent a good 20 minutes wandering around from building to building on campus trying to find a broadcast of the debate.  The servers at were overwhelmed and I couldn’t quickly find another online stream.  I tried the business school building in general – believe it or not, I could not find it anywhere.  I realized that I don’t think there is a general lounge anywhere, either.  I think there are areas in which we can lounge, but not a lounge.  

So I tried arts and sciences and they had one small room, packed full.  No good there.  

So then I wandered over to my office, where I thought a wired network connection (the connections at the biz school didn’t seem to want to give me an IP) might help me get onto the CNN servers.  Fortunately, the student lounge here had it on.  It was the Fox News feed, which was kind of funny (though it’s not like they had biased commentary running on a ticker or anything).  I was hanging out in the student lounge with various law students, trying to blend in with them (it’s a fine line when you’re administration with the students and trying not to look like an actual student or mistaken for one).  

I cannot believe how much trouble it was to find a broadcast of the debate on a university campus.

Random thoughts on the the 2nd presidential debate

Truly random

  • Obama needs to calm down after McCain speaks and, IMO, distorts the former’s position.  That’s the nature of a debate.  Things are distorted.  Obama keeps jumping out of his chair.  
  • McCain recommends nuclear.  I like that he grabbed that.  No one likes to talk about nuclear, but he did.  Interesting.
  • Energy independence is my big thing (kinda hard to say that with the giant mortgage crisis right now).  A mixed plan is really the only way to do it (check out T. Boone Pickens’ plan, which I think is pretty okay).  I’m not sure Obama has addressed the infrastructure needs to get there.
  • Actually, I don’t think either has addressed the infrastructure.  
  • Wow – “Manhattan project like effort” to fix energy issue.  That’s a great question.  And goes to infrastructure.
  • Off-shore drilling to bridge the gap (McCain) – yeah, cuz it takes no infrastructure time to set up off-shore rigs
  • Lots of talk before the debate about how well McCain does in town-hall style debates.  So far, he’s been a lot…well, his comments aren’t very veiled at all.  He’s sneaking in a jab with every sentence.  Don’t like that.
  • Wow, McCain just pounds on this “Obama hates small businesses” thing…
and…now I’m off to class.  So can’t comment anymore.  And this is mindless stuff – I’m sure not much substance here.

Review: Robert Collins, Finance (OMIS), Leavey School of Business

At a glance

  • Workload:  Heavy
  • Teaching Style:  Lecture
  • Interest in students: High
  • Relevance to outside world: Moderate (this is baseline theory)

Overall Professor Rating: 4

Overall Course Rating: 4

Finance 451 is a baseline, theory-oriented course that examines some of the general principles behind finance.  One really learns to apply these concepts in later courses.  While I obviously haven’t taken 451 with professors other than Collins, I really enjoyed the course, and I felt a big part of that positive but challenging experience is due to Collins, specifically.

The Review

This is the latest of my reviews on the professors I’ve had while an MBA student at Santa Clara University’s Leavey School of Business. There are lots of sites out there that provide feedback and rates – ratemyprofessor is the most notable. The SantaClaraMBA Yahoo group also has a big database of comments and lots of additional information in its message archive. That database can be a bit hard to wade through, and the comments are short and often just link to other threads, which are themselves pretty short and superficial. Only here can I write as much as I want  🙂

I review professors from a variety of perspectives.  First, I explain the context(s) under which I took the class.  Time of year, time of day, etc.  Then I talk about the quality of the class and the professor, and finally about the professor as a person.  After all, we are trying to learn about our interactions with people, so knowing that side of a teacher is critical, too.  So these would be interactions outside the classroom, etc.  I also just write whatever it is that I think is relevant or will be helpful to others.  That is my overall goal.

This review goes way back to Fall 2007, which is a full year ago.  I might stop my reviews of past classes after this one just for fear of having lost too much since I took it.

The facts

I took Finance 451, as I said, a year ago in Fall 2007.  It is the first of the finance courses and is a core requirement of the MBA program.  I have no idea whether I took the class on a Monday/Wednesday or Tuesday/Thursday schedule.  Collins is actually in the OMIS (operations) department, but teaches Finance 451 in the fall (followed by OMIS 355 and 357 in the winter and spring, respectively).  He is obviously there because he offers a compelling and effective introduction to the topics of cost of capital, net present value, etc.

Them’s the facts (slim as they are). Now read on for the review.

Another telling paragraph…economic plans of the candidates

Examining America’s presidential candidates | Examining the candidates | The Economist

On his plans to fix the financial crisis, Mr Obama averages 3.1, a point higher than Mr McCain. Still, some said they didn’t quite know what they were rating—reasonably enough, since neither candidate has produced clear plans of his own. 

This is the interesting line in the article, at least to me.  The candidates haven’t put out their plans yet.  Why?  Because there is no pretty picture to this mess.  There is nothing that can be proposed that won’t come off as a horrible, terrible scenario.  So no one says anything…

Getting an MBA – why we do it (not that I have any clue)

As I’ve progressed through my MBA program at the Leavey School of Business at Santa Clara University, I have lately been thinking about why I am doing this.  Why I am pursuing this degree in particular.  And, as I’ve thought about that, I have begun to wonder about the motivations of my classmates and thought more about what they have said they hope to take out of the program or how they hope to make use of the degree down the road.  It has been an interesting and illuminating exercise.

This is really a very generic post and is not about anyone, any group, or any…thing in particular.  I am speaking generally here, with sweeping generalizations about everyone I’ve seen and met at the school.  I say this because I have friends in the program and obviously I want to be clear that I am not thinking of particular people as I write this.  I truly am not.  I am in fact purposely mashing a few people together when I think of certain examples.

I’ll cut it here before I can’t find a better place to do so…


The frustration of the 360 eval

Recently, I was asked to completed a 360 degree eval of a colleague.  I’m sure most either know what this type of evaluation is or can make a pretty good guess, but the idea is that everyone around the individual – superiors, peers, subordinates, outside and inside the organization – are asked to evaluate that person.

For the most part, it’s all numbers.  1 = never, 10 = always, and everything in between.  Anonymity is very safe.

However, in this case there were also written responses.  These were optional, but I feel that, if someone is seeking feedback in order to become a better leader, then something more than just number is necessary.  But once I put my own words down…I rather think it is easy to spot when I’m writing versus someone else.  Not that I’m Dickensian or anything, but I speak and write a certain way when I’m doing so formally (which I don’t always do in this blog, btw) and I fear that it’ll be obvious which responses are mine.

And thus the problem of the 360 – no one wants to be honest lest that honesty comes back to haunt him or her.  I took my chances.  But I’m worried, sure.  Don’t ask questions if you aren’t ready for what types of answers you’ll get back, but that doesn’t stop people from getting upset anyway…

A truly terrible commercial

There is a commercial for Sobe Life Water, starring Naomi Campbell, that is so bad, so stupid, that when I am having trouble waking up in the morning and turn on SportsCenter as some random background noise to keep me awake, I jump out of bed to avoid watching or even hearing it.  It involves her walking our out of the water onto a beach, dripping with water, and then these crazy friggin’ lizards jumping up to drink the Life Water that she is spilling now and then.  It turns into a lizard dance-dance-revolution party of sorts where they all fall out of an umbrella and start groovin on a table.

Now, if a lizard started hoping up like it was on acid to drink water I was also drinking, I’d stop drinking that water.  And if I opened an umbrella and a bunch of friggin’ lizards fell out, I’d go to a different resort or beach.  And if I saw lizards dancing at all’well, I better be on acid, too.

Alaska Excursions: The Misty Fjords of Ketchikan


Originally uploaded by kaiyen

Perhaps more so than on a cruise to, say, the Caribbean or around Europe, an Alaskan cruise really requires booking a few excursions. Most of the ports of call are tiny cities – Ketchikan does not even have roads leading to it – so getting away from the city to see the surrounding areas is a good idea. In comparison, walking around a city in Europe or lying on the beach in the Caribbean does not require special bookings.

The first excursion that I did on my trip to Alaska was in our first port of call – Ketchikan. As alluded to above, one cannot get to this city by road. Plane or boat only. That tells you that it’s pretty remote, though it’s also a big, big fishing city. So interesting place.

We decided to go on an excursion that took us by floatplane to a ‘dock’ then on a boat through the ‘Misty Fjords.’ Photos can be found throughout our Alaska flickr set , and this one and this one are among my favorites so far (we took a lot of photos’).

This is a short review, but click on ‘more’ to read the rest.


Review: Calero County Park, Los Cerritos Trail, McKean Rd entrance

This afternoon I decided to try a new park and went to Calero County Park, in San Jose.  It’s about 30 minutes south of my home in Santa Clara to the entrance just a bit past the intersection of McKean and Bailey Roads.  Unlike most of the parks in the area, Calero is equestrian and hiking only – no bikes – which means it’s pretty quiet, and you don’t run into a lot of people whizzing by.  It’s also probably why it’s simply not as crowded, even on a nice Sunday.  Since the quiet is a big part of why I like to go hiking, I thought this might be a good start.