Thursday, May 26, 2005

The Contender

I've been religiously watching The Contender for the past few months. It's a great show. The boxers are all likeable, entertaining people who you want to root for, and the storytelling & editing is fantastic, signature Mark Burnett (see also: Survivor & The Apprentice). The Contender season finale Tuesday night featured two great fights. My summary wouldn't do it justice, so I'll just link to my favorite sports columnist for a summary of the finale, and a column he wrote earlier in the season (subscription required). I really hope this show returns for another season. And if you haven't caught an episode yet, try to catch the re-runs on MSNBC.

Frustration is...

trying to teach your mother how to format an Excel spreadsheet. Especially when she would rather you just wrote down a detailed list of instructions. She'd rather just blindly follow a recipe than actually learn the how & why behind each step for future use. That way when the shit inevitably hits the fan, and she can't get it bolded & aligned exactly the same way, she can blame your crappy incomplete instructions and absolve herself.

My latest pet peeve: People who click the mouse once, and when it doesn't produce their desired result, click-click-click twenty times rapid fire style and act surprised when the result is something undesirable.

I love my mom :)

Monday, May 23, 2005

You got served

In my family's debt collection business, we make every effort to work with consumers (aka debtors) to help them pay their bills. But when all of our efforts have failed and the consumer isn't acting in good faith to handle their debt, we use legal means to resolve the issue. If we have a judgment against them, we're always on the lookout for an asset, such as a bank account or wages to garnish. Today, I served writs of garnishment to a few banks. That's the part of the business I really enjoy...finding people that don't want to be found, and finding assets they don't want us to find. Then I get to swoop in with a bank garnishment, yee haw. People don't realize how much dishonored checks and past due accounts can damage the bottom line of a small business, and I think it's cool that we're able to help these businesses recover their bad debt. Some people see bill collectors as the bad guys; I see the more heroic aspects of the role.

On that note, I'd like to clear up a few preconceived notions about bill collectors. I don't own a set of brass knuckles, I don't know how to break kneecaps, and my dad's name is not Guido.

I'm so disappointed

Since I'll be in Chicago this weekend, I'm going to miss the Sasquatch Research Conference. Damn. Those fury fellas are out there somewhere, I'm tellin ya. One in particular shows up regularly at Key Arena, and he puts down a mean 360 dunk.

I was up in bigfoot country on Saturday, hanging out with my friend's family in upper Skagit County in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains. We had a BBQ and rode their quads all over the property around Baker Dam. It's pretty creepy to hang out at the base of a dam, thinking about what would happen if it failed. It was fun to get up there again, it's so pretty and I hadn't been up to Baker Lake since a kegger during my senior year of high school. Plus, it just feels good to get dirty and get some fresh air.

Picture of Baker Lake, courtesy of the USFS.

I realize that one thing I'm really going to miss living in Chicago is mountains. As someone who grew up in the shadows of the Cascades, it was a bit unsettling to look out from the top of the John Hancock tower and see how flat as a pancake that part of the country is. Everywhere I've lived to date has been mountainous, or at least hilly...Western Washington, SE Washington, Central Virginia, Southern California (you could see mountains when the smog wasn't too bad). It'll be weird. Thank goodness there's a big body of water nearby, otherwise I'd be completely out of my element.

Mt. Baker from Bayview-Edison Road in the Skagit Valley. Photo by: Wade B Clark Jr, November 11, 2003.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

MBA Applicant Bloggies

Best of Blogging

Much like high school "superlatives", Clear Admit recently conducted a survey to recognize the best of blogging among this year's MBA applicant bloggers. Yours truly was nominated, and I let them know what blogs and posts I enjoyed the most and found the most useful. Clear Admit released the results today and I would like to say kudos to the cream of the crop. I was not surprised to see Dave, PowerYogi, & Brit-Chick leading the charge. For the full results, click here.

I think every MBA blog adds an invaluable new voice and perspective to this process. Each blog has little gems of information and support to make a process, that is normally stressful, competitive, and lonely, quite the opposite. I found priceless advice, insider info, support, and a laugh when needed, through the MBA applicant blogs. I have no doubt they helped me put together a more competitve application, not to mention maintain my sanity while awaiting decisions. Thanks bloggers!

Let me say that I was very pleased to be nominated, then very surprised and very flattered to finish in the Top 5 overall. I really enjoy writing this thing and hope to continue doing so for a long time. The fact that people actually enjoy reading this stuff is just icing on the cake. Thanks :)

Proof that I'm living in a small town

I played bingo tonight. No joke. For the second time since I moved home no less. My friend J and her family go once a month for birthday bingo (if it's your birthday month, you get a lucky number and each time it's called you get $5). I didn't win jack. J didn't win at bingo either, but she coaxed $30 out of the penny slots. Fun times...really, it is kinda fun because we get goofy and get shushed by the old ladies.

Saturday, May 14, 2005

Memorial Weekend Plans

Booked my ticket to Chicago for Memorial Weekend to figure out my living
situation, hang out with friends, catch a game at Wrigley, etc. Should be fun, although it means missing out on the annual family & friends camping trip that I haven't been on 5 years (and I was kinda looking forward to going again). My parents have a big group of friends from high school & college that we've been camping with at least twice a year since forever (we're talking 10-15 families). Everybody used to be in tents, then as their incomes improved, most upgraded to motorhomes. We kids stayed in tents, of course, to get away from our lame parents during our teen years. Our parents would play cards and get drunk, and we'd get
drunk on whatever we could smuggle into our tents. We were bad kids :)

My mom and I went out to Thai food and a movie last night. We saw Kingdom of Heaven. We both thought it was pretty good. Ridley Scott was definitely making a not-so-subtle commentary on the current quagmire in the Middle East. Worth seeing in the theaters for the war scenes on the big screen with surround sound, so long as you're prepared for the barbarity of Medieval warfare.

I'm off to shop for my dad's birthday. He wears golf/polo shirts *all*the*time and the few favorites he keeps in rotation are just gross. Grease stains, faded shoulders, etc. He's looking pretty schlepy these days so my mom and I are only buying him clothes for his birthday.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Finally, we have a series

After watching my Sonics get destroyed by San Antonio (both on the scoreboard and with injuries) in the first two games of the NBA Western Conference Semifinals, I was just hoping for a close game last night. They delivered that, and a win. It was close down to the wire and I was completely stressed out. Literally, my heart was trying to pound its way out of my chest. I was so wired that it took me a good 2 hrs after the end of the game to mellow out enough to go to sleep.

My grandma had back surgery this morning, and so far it sounds like this one was a success. She has been suffering from chronic back/nerve pain for almost 2 years now and her last surgery did almost nothing to improve the situation. She'll be 77 next month and surgery at her age is no joke. My grandpa called the office this morning to report that she came through with flying colors and the surgeon felt he found (& fixed) the real underlying problem this time. I hope he's right because it must be miserable to be in that kind of pain all the time. My mom and I are headed to the hospital after work for a visit.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Chicago apartment hunt

Based on my two trips to Chicago, I've determined that I would most enjoy living on the north side of the city, even though that means commuting down to Hyde Park for class. I need nightlife and neighborhoods that have lots of personality, and I was really drawn to Lakeview & Lincoln Park. Plus, all the GSBers say everyone that doesn't live on the north side in 1Y moves up there in 2Y, so why not eliminate the additional move. I'm not into high rise living (feels too much like a dorm or hotel, in my opinion) so I've been looking at mid-rises, flats, rehabbed brownstones, and the like. All online mind you. Couple of sites I've found useful (not just for Chicago):

MBA Properties A free apartment locator service specifically for MBA students. Available for Columbia/NYU, Harvard/MIT, Kellogg/Chicago GSB, & Miami. You fill out a questionaire, they narrow down a list of properties that meet your needs, and they either take you on a tour if you're in town, or you can do a virtual tour online/over email. They also have a database you can search on your own. They seem like really cool people, and a current GSB student used them last year and gave them a strong endorsement.

Google Maps + Craigslist = Awesome What a genius idea. This is a great way to see exactly where the listings are so it's easier to eliminate apartments that are totally wrong and really zero in on apartments that are near your favorite places/landmarks.

However, I've done this research and now I've had a golden opportunity fall in my lap. My friends who live in Lakeview just moved into a new place that they love. It's a three flat of two bedroom apartments. The landlord lives on the bottom floor, they live in the middle, and two women live on the top floor. Turns out one of the gals upstairs is engaged and just bought a condo with her fiancee. They need to fill her spot around August 1st. It's a big two bedroom about 3 blocks from Wrigley Field, it has a sun deck, and my share would be $750-800/mo including partial utilities AND PARKING. This is a fantastic deal, too good to pass up. I had assumed I'd be living alone, I've been doing that the past 3 years and I figured it'd be easier and maybe worth the expense. This little opportunity has me rethinking that. My potential roommate is also a sports nut, has her MBA from Mizzou, and is a corp auditor who is traveling 60% of the time. In other words, PERFECT. Maybe too good to be true. So I'm trying to find a cheap ticekt to get to Chicago for Memorial Weekend, hang out with my friends, meet their upstairs neighbors & landlord, check the place out, and see what happens. If it's a match, then I'm done. If it's not, I can spend the weekend checking out other places too.

Haven't blogged much about financing my MBA, probably because I don't find it that fun/interesting. It's just one more hoop to jump through, and U of Chicago has made it pretty easy. U of C has their own loan program that has competitive rates, low to no fees, and it's very very simple. And the GSB Financial Aid officer rocks. So I'm not worried about it. I just wish they'd release the final figures for 2005-2006 tuition so I can finish my budget and send off my loan paperwork. Word is tuition will increase from the 36K neighborhood to the 38K neighborhood. Lovely.

I suppose I'm overdue in writing a "lessons learned from the application process" blog to sort of summarize my experience, where and why I think I succeeded/failed, etc, especially since applicants for Fall 2006 are sure to be gearing up soon. Maybe I'll put something together for my blogiversary in June, a retrospective of the year's highlights and lowlights. I'll also probably try to figure out the direction of this blog now that I'm no longer an MBA applicant. Is this an MBA blog, about my specific program and/or course of study and/or career track? Is it a personal diary with no limits? Is it a way to keep my friends and family up to date? Is it for entertainment purposes, or just a brain dump and a way for me to keep a written history of my life? I'm not sure yet, but it's something I'm thinking about, as are many of this year's MBA applicant bloggers. It'll be interesting to see where our paths lead, beyond just the programs we'll be attending in the fall.

Monday, May 09, 2005


Saturday afternoon, I judged tryouts for my high school’s dance team, a team I was on all four years of HS. I’ve only been back to my high school a handful of times since I graduated 9 years ago. (Crap…that means it’s reunion time next summer…note to self: start the diet now.) It was a trip. I first tried out for the team as an eighth grader THIRTEEN YEARS AGO! Doesn’t seem like that long ago. It made me miss being part of a team, dancing all the time, learning & perfecting new routines, performing at games, going to camp & competitions, etc. We had such a good time.

My friend J also judged, and during a break told me she had someone she wanted to set me up with. This is the friend who is hoping I meet someone local this summer, fall in love, and never leave….0.0001% chance of that happening. Anyway, I’m open to being set up, going on dates with new boys is fun, so I ask her what he’s like. “Well, he’s single, he’s a cop, he’s single, he’s not hot but he’s not bad looking, he’s single, he has a 14 year old kid, he’s single, I think he’s taller than you, he’s single, he’s friends with my neighbor (whom J can’t stand?), he’s nice, and oh, he’s single.” So other than the fact that he’s single, are there any compelling reasons why you think we’d be a good match? Thanks, but no thanks. I know it’s weird to be almost 28 and never married here in our pretty little valley, but getting out of the valley means your taste in men becomes a lot more discriminating. Being single and having steady employment are only two of the many minimum requirements to get on this ride. And the older I get, the more discriminating I get. Ladies, repeat after me…there is nothing wrong with being single. It’s fun to date and enjoy your 20’s with friends. Why hurry up the rest of your life, it’ll come soon enough.

As for my concern with the valley rumor mill, turns out it’s not unfounded. My friend J told me that one of my good friends from high school K (whom I ran into at the gym a couple weeks ago) even asked her if there was more to the story of me being home than what I told her. Ah, life in a small town…is it August yet?

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Family biz

Last night, my dad & I left the office around 5 pm while my mom worked late. (Our commute is about 25 miles and they both have company cars. I ride with one or the other, so I'm at the mercy of their schedules.) Anyway, I came in this morning to find that the things I left on my desk had been moved. My mom felt compelled, for whatever reason, to "tidy up" my desk. Not that it was untidy, mind you. I had a couple of small piles of work in progress, nothing with information on it that couldn't be left no stretch of the imagination did it need to be "tidy'd up" by my mother.

Meanwhile, both of my dad's offices here have been declared disaster areas. We're working on applying for federal aid so we can begin the clean-up and reconstruction process. (Yes, he needs TWO offices for all of his clutter.)

This is what you get when two people who are complete opposites (a middle child who is anal about organization & process, the other an only child who lives & dies by the hang loose/organization be damned philosophy) have been married for 33 years and have run a business together for the last 15. Frankly, I don't know how they've managed not to kill each other by now. They certainly drive each other crazy, and are on track to driving me crazy before I leave for Chicago.

Such is my life for the next few months.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Runaway Bride

Here's the latest article about her on for those who haven't heard.

My theory: She met someone (online or somewhere) and rather than break off her engagement like a normal person, she decided to runaway with the new person. So she changes her hair and hops a bus to rendezvous in Las Vegas. Only something went foul with the rendezvous (either the person she was meeting didn't meet her expectations, or she didn't his/hers, either way someone wanted out) so she had to go back to Plan B, AKA the dude she was supposed to marry. But she can't go back without an explanation that doesn't lay the guilt on her, so she concocts the kidnapper story...only she's in way over her head at this point since her actions indicate premeditation. Whoops.

Why do people insist on taking the hard way out, creating layer after layer of deceit? Wouldn't it have been simpler and kinder to all involved to be honest and say, look, I have doubts/cold feet, let's postpone? Her poor family. All the quotes from the family & church friends have been pretty kind to her; I think it was a town member who said he was glad she was safe but that this was an act of the most extreme selfishness. I agree. I hope the district attorney sends her the bill, and I hope her family makes HER pay for it (and the wedding bills).

Radio stations

Another interesting aspect of my move from So-Cal to Western WA...

In San Diego, I had a selection of radio stations that included San Diego/Tijuana crossovers that featured a mix of English, Spanish, and Spanglish. They were also required to play the Mexican National Anthem a couple of times a day (usually in the wee hours) and announce their call letters in Spanish. Now, I live closer to Vancouver than Seattle so I have a selection of Canadian stations to choose from. I get to hear the temperature forecast in degrees centigrade, hear "about" pronounced "aboot" and I have options in Chinese and French.


Sunday, May 01, 2005

My not-so-little little brother

Just got home from Bellevue. My parents and I spent the weekend down there watching my younger brother & his girlfriend compete at the Emerald Cup. It is the premier bodybuilding competition in the Pacific NW. It was his first show ever, and his girlfriend's second, and while neither of them won, they both did really well and had a lot of fun.

My brother has been wanting to do this for several years and has been working really hard towards this show over the past 12 months (kinda like me & b-school). He's about 6'3" and by Christmas he had bulked up to about 285 lbs, then in January he started dieting to lean down for this show. He weighed in this weekend around 240 and looked absolutely shredded. He's still got work ahead of him, and at 25 years old, he's just a baby in the sport...he's only just begun.

I'm so proud of him. He has come a long ways since his high school days. We used to be very different people (I'm the typical oldest child overachiever, he's the rebelious youngest child), but as time goes on we've become more alike. We may have different goals, but we have the same drive now. He has bad knees like me. When he was in school, attending classes & doing homework were simply a means to the end of participating in sports. When he blew out his knee, his days of football, basketball & soccer were pretty much done, so there was no point to school as far as he was concerned. He bummed around doing odd jobs & manual labor, but in the past couple of years he's found his home in the gym, and is now the general manager of a beautiful fitness club and is on track to be a district manager. Plus it's given him a great outlet & the contacts to pursue his bodybuilding dream. He's very ambitious and works hard toward his goals. It's an inspiration.

I'm off to the gym!

PS--My brother can kick your brother's ass ;)
PPS--Another funny/random run-in (small world part 2)--the guy who won last year's Emerald Cup Light Heavy & Overall Men's championship was there last night--it's a guy who was in my freshman biology class at WSU, I was in a study group with him. I remember him having to eat plain tuna & brown rice, nice to see he stuck with it and had some success.

My "Little" Brother, Emerald Cup Body Building Competition, Super Heavy Weight Division, ready for quarter turns Posted by Hello

Back double bicep Posted by Hello

Front bicept & chest Posted by Hello

Front lat spread Posted by Hello

Front tricep Posted by Hello

Front chest & arms Posted by Hello

My brother's girlfriend in the Figure competition Posted by Hello