Friday, July 22, 2005

No excuse not to call your mum

Trying to think of some things to post that may be of use to people comnig to the UK to live or go to school...

Of course you'll want to call your mum, and other people back home. Calling cards are one way to go, but one of my classmates early on told me about Telediscount as an alternative. Kind of like 10-10-321 in the states, just call 08444 621 621 to call the us for 2p per minute. Other access numbers at

Then there's also skype, which I didn't end up using, but is very popular among my classmates.

So you'll have a way to call home for relatively cheap...finding the time will probably be the more difficult part.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

One more paper to write

The last stage of the MBA here at Cambridge is the Individual Project. It's a (maximum) 12,000 paper on a business/management topic of the student's choosing, with the assistance of a member of the business school factory.

Topics range from studies of M&A trends to consulting projects to a study of customer relationship management for MBA programs. I chose to write about baseball. That's right, you can take the boy out of America, but you can't take the American out of the boy. It's actually a study on sabermetric (i.e. statistical) approches to evaluating player performance. I've included the project proposal below to give an idea of what it entails (click on each page for a larger, more readable view).

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Small World

This morning I headed off to Hughes Hall for breakfast with Jen and one of my classmates from Jordan--my fellow MBA BBQ Master:

After a while, a large group sat down the table from us. They must have overheard Jen and I talking and asked if we were American, then asked where we were from. Jen said Florida and I said Wisconsin, to which they exclaimed, "so are we!" Turns out they are a group from UW-Oshkosh taking a couple summer courses at Cambridge and they just flew in this morning. Always great to see some people from back home.

On the way out, leaving Hughes, we saw a few people coming in--easily recognized as more Americans (and, I assume, with the Wisconsin crew). The ability to pick fellow Americans out of a crowd is certainly a skill I learning since coming over here--I didn't even realize it would be possible. Funny that I came to Europe to learn about the rest of the world and in the process also gained a greater perspective on my own home country...I guess some things are easier to see from the outside than the inside.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Sad day in the UK

Today started as any other normal day. All these horrific days seem to begin that way. Fortunately I am physically ok myself, just a bit shaken, after today's attacks in London.

It was a grey, typical day as I rode my bike to work for the fourth day of my summer job at Transversal here in Cambridge. After having lived in New York and experiencing 9/11, I knew London would be a potential target (despite my previous post about security for the Queen's visit, I promise this is not a national security blog). Being 45 minutes away in Cambridge makes me feel safer, but I go to London often enough and I have enough friends who live there or go there regularly to make it something that crosses my mind occasionally. Sadly, today the fear of those thoughts became reality.

I overheard some people in the office discussing power surges affecting the tube, so I figured I'd check Google News myself, only to find the news getting worse and worse. Something about a bus too, and another train, maybe three buses. I felt the anxiety build up and return inside of me as I recalled how on 9/11 I heard one plane, saw number two, then was told of two more, then a policeman called out "there might be more!" I knew my parents and family would be worried, so I wanted to call them immediately, but it was only 4am central time in the US, so I opted to start sending emails to let everyone know I was ok.

Classmates did likewise, as we are sort of each other's families away from home, to make sure everybody was ok. While it would be ideal to be with family on a day like today, it is certainly comforting to have such great people around me here. It seems that nobody I know was directly affected, so I count my blessings, but my prayers go out to all of those affected.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

U2? Me too!

So Jen and I have U2 tickets for tonight's show at Twickenham in London. But we're not going tonight. Huh???

Too busy with schoolwork? Nope (classes ended last Friday)
Break a leg playing rugby? Nope (we're both still in one piece)
Suffering from sunburn after an afternoon in Regent's Park? Nope (though it was a great day to be there today, with the roses in bloom)
Had a sudden change in musical tastes? Nope (Bono still rocks)
Have we gone bloody mad? Well maybe, but that's not why either...

What gives? We used them last night, of course! Huh??? (again)

We took the train down from Cambridge (45 min to London, another hour or so to Twickenham) yesterday afternoon and headed over to the stadium, enjoying a warm, sunny day. We showed our tickets, they checked our bags, we got a couple beers, and headed to our seats to listen to the opening acts by Doves and Athlete (both good stuff, by the way...we bought some Athlete songs on iTunes when we got home!).

Before U2 came on, we had to leave our seats to take care of a few things (withdraw more $, t-shirt, beer, food, bathroom) and I went back to our seats ahead of Jen. When I got there, a couple guys were in our seats. They must be in the wrong row, I figured, happens all the time. They show me their tickets, I show them mine. Whoa! Same section...same row...same seat!!!

Me: Huh, that's odd.
Me (internal monologue): How do we resolve this?
Guy In "Our" Seat: One must be a counterfeit.
Me: Guess so, let's look again.
Me (internal monologue): Never buy anything on eBay again!
GIOS (to Guy In Next Seat): Check this out, buddy, same ticket, both look real.
GINS: You've got the wrong day!
Me: Oh, man, you're right...I swear we got them for tonight's show.
Me (internal monologue): Oh my god, how embarrassing, what's the fastest way out of this section?

So I find Jen and check hers too...both for the 19th and here we are in the stadium on the 18th! Now both of our internal and external dialogues match: !@#$, what do we do now?!?!

Even though they screwed up by letting us in, we decided we couldn't tell event staff or they'd ask us to leave and come back the next day, so we found a mostly empty section (for some reason they left 2 sections of the stadium totally empty, except for a few people dispersed in them. The view was as good as our original seats, so we kept them and hope the section wasn't reserved by a group on a late bus or that security wouldn't come to check our tickets.

Nobody came, U2 put on an amazing show of new and old stuff (Beautiful Day, Sunday Bloody Sunday, and Vertigo the second time to finish off were the highlights for me). Another highlight to the year abroad fulfilling a long-time wish...seeing U2 play live. Though it wasn't Dublin, it was pretty cool to see them in London.

Still one question in my head: should we have tried to get back in tonight with our ticket stubs?

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Rugby at the MBAT -- The Cambridge MBA Team Posted by Hello

Rugby at the MBAT -- Ryan running for a try Posted by Hello

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Saturday work and workout

Not too much happening today (side-effect of last night's party maybe?), so spent most of the day in front of the computer, working on a presentation for my class on Emerging Technology Entrepreneurship. Two classmates and I are working with a professor in the Chemical Engineering department who has created a new polymer he hopes to be able to benefit from commercially. Our task is to advise him on the feasibity of making his new technology into a business. Though getting our heads around the technology and all of its possible applications has been a bit daunting, it's been a very interesting class, allowing us to interact with other parts of the university and put our new MBA knowledge to practical use.

After working for a bit, I met one of my friends from the ice hockey team (I played on the Blues varsity team for Cambridge) at the gym for a workout and a run. When I got home, I found myself in the middle of a BBQ being hosted by one of my housemates (I live in a house with 6 other graduate students)...a nice surprise to be able to have some nice barbecued ribs off the grill after the gym!

Looking back at the Varsity Match vs. Oxford (06 March 2005): Posted by Hello

Nick, Ryan, and Panos at last night's Hughes Hall party Posted by Hello