Thursday, September 30, 2004

A sleeping giant is stirring

Most news services reported yesterday that the USGS has issued a "volcanic advisory" for Mount St. Helens, the most famous of 6 active volcanoes in Washington state.

I grew up in Washington state and I was 3 years old when Mount St. Helens blew in 1980. I don't remember much of it because I was so young and because I lived in the least impacted part of the state. However, volcanoes were always a big part of our science curriculum and they've always fascinated me. I was watching Nova on PBS a couple weeks ago and they had a special on volcanoes and how the USGS monitors them for seismic and magmetic activity. It's amazing how they can pick up on the smallest of tremors and even the slightest shifting of the mountain, then use that information to try to predict erruptions and other volcanic events.

It sounds like the recent activity at Mount St. Helens is likely leading up to some sort of volcanic event, but nothing like the catastrophic event of May 18, 1980. What's interesting is that Mount Rainier and Mount Baker pose a much bigger threat to the Seattle/Puget Sound region, should another catastrophic erruption occur. Rainier has the largest glacial load of any peak in the lower 48, and Baker has it's fair share of glacial coverage, too. If those glaciers melt and/or a debris avalance occurs, it will mean big trouble for the river valleys coming off those mountains. My hometown is in the Skagit River valley and it would be in deep doo-doo should Baker errupt because the debris avalance and glacier melt would likely cause Baker Dam to fail (unless they had enough warning to be able to lower the level of the lake in time). Scary thought. Let's hope that guy on Nova gets his erruption prediction model fine tuned.

Back-to-back-to-back hurricanes in Florida, earthquakes in central California, and now volcanic activity in Washington state...this season Mother Nature sure seems determined to make us aware of how much we are at her mercy.

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Haas info session and a belated weekend recap

Last night, I attended a Haas information session here in San Diego. I thought the representatives from the admissions office did a great job of communicating a lot of information in a fair amount of time, despite warning us that their presentation might be a little rusty since it was their first road trip of the season. It was entertaining and gave me a feel for the Haas culture. Since I've already decided to apply and I got a lot of information about Haas from a friend, it was nice to just kick back and enjoy the show rather than furiously take notes and try to think of a bunch of questions on the fly. I found the panel of current and former students to be really interesting. One of the panelists just graduated and is working for a golf equipment company here in SD County. I was able to pull him aside later and get the scoop on a sports business seminar he initiated with the help of a fellow student and what it was like networking to get his internship and job. I also got answers to my more tactical application questions from the adcom folks, and I ran into a friend from undergrad (same one I saw at the Wharton info session awhile back) so we were able to catch up and compare notes on this whole application process.

I booked plane tickets for my visits to Berkeley and Northwestern/Chicago, so I'm working on schedules for my days on campus. I'm really looking forward to seeing the schools, meeting students, checking out some classes, interviewing, etc. I've made contact with people in each program's sports business/entertainment/media clubs so I'm hoping I'll have some folks in my area of focus lined up for lunch or just a meet & greet. It is going to be a BUSY month of October, but I seem to do my best work when I'm busy. I'm trying to schedule my Anderson interview and it is a pain in the rear. They just released another group of interview slots, but they all conflict with my schedule. ARGGHHH! I wish they'd get their San Diego/La Jolla info sessions scheduled soon so I can see about a local interview. Other than that, I'm just plugging away at my essays and data forms, waiting for my transcripts to be delivered, and making sure my recos have all the information they need. I updated my resume with feedback from a couple friends, my mom, and a co-worker. I have to say...I am damn proud of my resume. I may not have started my own company or commanded billion dollar Wall Street deals, but considering I'm four year post undergrad and I've been with the same company that whole time, I have a foundation of solid, significant experiences to build on in business school. This is obviously a high self-confidence week. Tune in next week when the self-doubt will surely resurface ;)

It was a great weekend for me, football-wise. My Wazzu Cougs beat Arizona in a barnburner, the Seahawks destroyed the 49ers, and my fantasy football team won. The guy I beat in our fantasy league is quite embarrassed that he lost to a girl, but this chick knows her football and is a force to be reckoned with. Next weekend will be a sad one since both my teams have BYEs, but that will be to the benefit of my application essays.

I put in some time at the beach on Saturday, then I hit Lake Elsinore for some wakeboarding Sunday morning with my usual crew, plus two of my friends who wanted to learn. One of my favorite things about wakeboarding is teaching other people. I remember that feeling of pure joy the first time I popped out of the water (followed shortly thereafter by "Oh $#%@! What do I do now?!" to faceplant). I love passing on that feeling to other people and I get the biggest rush from the look on their face when they finally do it. I have become very efficient at coaching people and it usually only takes them a couple tries to get it. The guys I ride with now refer to me as "coach." I know how good it feels to progress to the next level with my riding, and it makes me feel even better to help other people do it, too. Anyway, both girls got up and got some decent rides. At the end of the day you could tell that they had caught the wakeboarding "stoke" (to use a REALLY overused "extreme" sports word, but it is the best way to describe that feeling of excitement and desire to conquer a new challenge). You could not wipe the grins off their faces.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Forte Forum

I'd rate last night's event a B-. It was OK, but it wasn't great. 6 months ago, it would have been great, but at this stage in the game most of it is useless or it's stuff I already know. I'm kinda feeling that way with all of these information sessions. They are geared more towards people who are researching MBA options, not those of us who have done the research, narrowed down the list of target schools, and are currently working on applications. That's definitely the last time I'm driving to LA for one of these things, it's just not worth it.

It was cool to be at a "women only" event and I did enjoy the panel discussion even though many of the questions were pretty surface level. The presentation was definitely targeted at those who are still deciding if an MBA is right for them. The GMAC presentation ran long and was laced with marketing pitches for the various products they offer. They are the primary sponsor of Forte and I realize they should get some plugs in there, but at $225 a pop for the GMAT and $28 per score report I feel like I've already forked over more than enough money to them. After the presentations, each of the member schools had representatives available to answer questions. I was able to talk with an adcom from McCombs and get some insight into their essay questions, how to survive the Texas Common Application (it's a bear, let me tell you), and what to expect from career services with my intended career path. I also got to chat with a Chicago adcom and an alum. This conversation would solidify my decision to apply to Chicago. I like that it's big, but not too big, the curriculum is extremely flexible, and my experience with Chicago folks has been very positive. Chicago is one of the schools I originally applied to back in 2000 and I feel that it's only gotten better since that time. The alum told me about a student/faculty project that is of high interest to me and could provide interesting material for my application, so I sent an email to the adcom I met and she is going to send me a presentation about the project. Now I just gotta figure out an idea for the mascot question! So, that means that Wharton is off the list. A little disappointing because it means I won't be taking a gamble on any of the big 3 H/S/W, but I'm just really not sold on a program that big and I'm definitely not sold on living in Philly. The early deadline doesn't help either. I know this is the right decision for me, and it's one that I've arrived at while focused on my own thoughts and opinions, tuning out all the ranking and message board distractions.

It was nice to see Dirty Martini last night and hear all about her trip to NYC. She has definitely got her stuff together and is way ahead of the game. I will be anxiously awaiting her admission decisions. I'm confident they will be positive.

Work is much slower this week, my co-worker and I think our boss is taking it easy on us since the last two weeks were a bit crazy. I'm moving offices tonight...well, actually big dudes are moving my stuff tonight, but I had to pack it all up this afternoon. I'll be in something smaller than my current office and I'll lose the window, but I've enjoyed it while I could the past 9 months. Our team is lucky, most people at our level in the company are in cubicles, but we all have offices by some stroke of luck. In a way though, I miss life on the cube farm. It's much more social than an office. However, it is nice to be able to shut the door when I need to concentrate or when I have a conference call.

I'm making dinner for my boyfriend tonight. This is the first time I've cooked for him. In the two months we've been dating, he's cooked for me twice (and brought flowers 3x :) chivalry is not dead!) so I owe him one. On the menu tonight, chicken marsala with garlic mashed potatoes and green beans with caramelized red onions, served with a nice Chianti Classico. Then we'll watch Survivor with full bellies and pity those poor fools in Vanuatu.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Mid week check in

Just wanted to pop on here quickly during lunch before I leave for LA. I'm attending the Forte Forum this evening and really looking forward to it. Looking forward to catching up with Dirty Martini, too, and hearing all about her New York trip. I'll provide a recap of the Forte Forum later in the week.

I kicked some serious application butt this week, but I still feel like I'm behind the 8 ball. I completed the majority of the data forms for each application, distributed my resume to a couple of friends for review, requested transcripts and/or completed the self-reported transcript option if available, finished a couple essay drafts, and compiled all the information my recommenders will need to be sent to them tomorrow. It's the essays that are really stressing me out and I'm in the world is it already September 22?

Southwest Airlines is currently running an internet special for intra-California flights one way as low as $39 so I'm trying to figure out if I can squeeze in a trip to Berkeley before the Oct 19 Round 1 deadline since it would be nice to be able to answer their question with, "Yes, I have been to Berkeley..."

More to come later...

Friday, September 17, 2004

Kellogg info session & other ramblings

Last night I attended a Kellogg info session here in San Diego. To be honest, I was disappointed, but I don't think it was an accurate reflection of Kellogg. I left feeling that I didn't learn anything that I hadn't already found online. I don't know if other participants felt the same way and I'm curious if this experience was unique to the San Diego session. There were only four alums and one person from adcom present. They had technical difficulties so rather than giving a nice presentation with Powerpoint, the adcom representative had to read from her notes. I found it to be contradictory that they were telling us Kellogg is very collaborative, all about teamwork, known for strength in marketing, and has a large and extremely loyal network, yet they were only able to round up FOUR Kellogg alums in San Diego??? Things that make you go "hmmm." Still, I feel like I need to give them the benefit of the doubt, San Diego is definitely a smaller metro area than LA and it's not the adcom's fault that the host was unprepared technically. I also had really high expectations based on my experience with the Wharton info session I attended in LA. They really set the bar. I was glad the Kellogg session was local because if had I driven up to LA for that I would have been a little ticked off. However, I'm still really interested in Kellogg and I think it's probably a great program that just had a bad night. The alums that did attend had interesting stories to tell and seemed like they sincerely enjoyed their time at Kellogg.

Last week I spoke with a friend who is a Haas alum. Great conversation with lots of good tips for the application that I'm happy to share here. He served as a student on the adcom so he's got the experience to back it up. I think some of his advice is unique to Haas, but a lot of it is applicable to other programs as well.

1. Be sincere & be original. Don't say what you think they want to hear. It's boring and it dilutes who you really are, which is what they are after. The adcom is looking for diversity in the class so if you're trying to sound like someone else, you're not helping your case.

2. Be consistent. Make sure the story you tell in your essays aligns with the story told by your resume, recommendations, short answer questions, etc.

3. Short answer questions are very important! Take them seriously. Be creative and have fun with them. They are just as important as the long essay questions so give them the same level of attention and due diligence.

4. Give your recommenders plenty of lead time and do not be passive. Don't write the letter for them, but give them some guidance. Also, sincerity in the recs is just as important as in the rest of the app. Make sure your recommenders have an understanding of business school in general and the application process so they can write their letter in that context. (It should be much more professional than recs for undergrad and you need to set those expectations with your rec providers, he had a personal experience with this issue.)

5. Student involvement is a big deal at Haas so make sure to incorporate how you plan to get involved into your story.

Work should be getting back to normal next week. Today we make our final budget submission to corporate and then I get to breathe again. Woo-hoo! I had an excellent birthday Labor Day weekend and last weekend we had an awesome crab feast at the bay. I have several friends here from Maryland/Virginia so about 25 of us went in on getting 2 bushels of crabs (~150) overnighted from MD and we had a 3+ hour crab picking extravaganza last Saturday afternoon. Beer, crabs, & was perfect! Well, almost perfect. After winning their season opener at New Mexico, my Wazzu Cougars lost to Colorado in an ugly game. I was glad I was too busy with the crabs to watch it (although, I did Tivo it and watch some of it later). Tomorrow they play our neighbor university, the Idaho Vandals. WSU & UI are the two closest D-I public universities, separated by only ~8 miles. An old tradition is for the losing team to walk home after the game. I don't think my fellow Cougs will be making the walk this year.

Survivor returned last night. I Tivo'd it while I was at the Kellogg info session and watched it as soon as I got home. This season is battle of the sexes and the ladies won it last night. Go team! How much would it suck to be the first person voted off one of these shows? Actually, it would be embarrassing, but then you'd get to spend the rest of the time on a 35 day vacation in paradise...that might be even better than staying in the game, except for the million bucks, of course!

Tonight I've got a date with the boyfriend, we're going to do the traditional dinner & a movie. Tomorrow, the girl that I mentor and I will be participating in Hands On San Diego and volunteering for Meals on Wheels. Should be fun. Other than that, it will be a weekend filled with football & b-school apps.

Friday, September 03, 2004

College football is back!

This is going to be an awesome weekend. Holiday on Monday, birthday on Sunday, and countless hours of college football on Saturday, but it will start with a bang tonight. My beloved Wazzu Cougars kick off their season tonight at New Mexico (check out ESPN at 8 ET/5 PT). I'm so excited I can hardly stand it. I don't know how I'm going to stay focused at work today, but I've got a ton of work to keep me busy and have no intentions of coming in to work this weekend so I need to bust tail.

Happy 3-Day Weekend to All!

Washington State University. World Class. Face to Face.

Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Pictures from Richmond, VA

Check out these photos of damage from Tropical Storm Gatson in Richmond, Virginia.

Slideshow of Richmond Flooding

Huge sink holes, 120+ roads damaged, severe flooding. Amazing. I lived there for three years, part of that time in Shockoe Bottom just a few blocks from the Farmers Market depicted in a few of those pictures. I used to park my car right in front of the canal off the James River that caused all that flooding. I've wakeboarded on the Chickahominy River. Scary. Richmond has had a tough go of it lately. Last year, they had a hurricane roll through town and just a few weeks prior had an earthquake. Most of my friends are on high enough ground that they should not be impacted, but I'll be making phone calls this afternoon.

What does your birth month say about you?

Suave and compromising. Careful, cautious and organized. Likes to point out people's mistakes. Likes to criticize. Stubborn. Quiet but able to talk well. Calm and cool. Kind and sympathetic. Concerned and detailed. Loyal but not always honest. Does work well. Very confident. Sensitive. Thinking generous. Good memory. Clever and knowledgeable. Loves to look for information. Must control oneself when criticizing. Able to motivate oneself. Understanding. Fun to be around. Secretive. Loves sports, leisure and traveling. Hardly shows emotions. Tends to bottle up feelings. Very choosy, especially in relationships. Systematic.

What does your birth month say about you?
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Kinda fun. Most of it is right on the money, but I don't think I'm nearly as critical as this description. Well, maybe I'm a little critical :)