June 2006

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June 13, 2006 T #

Apparently the movers have finally made it as close as New York. That was the word yesterday, when they were supposed to head directly to Boston next... but I haven't heard from them today. I've been living in a week worth of clothes since I left Los Angeles, and I'm getting tired of the same thing day after day. Nobody else notices, but I'm getting bored with it.

"If you don't believe in Unicorns, then why would you waste your time calculating how many of them can be expected to drive Toyota Corollas?"

For the full effect, imagine that quote said with the intonation of Yoda teaching young Skywalker.

Our Probability and Statistics professor is hilarious. That's the one class I was dreading, but it's been a riot so far... even with good technical content.

Our Materials class has been very unorthodox, but indirectly useful in a way I didn't expect. Our professor reminds me of my crazy Machine Design professor from back at BYU (picture Dr. Mortensen with blond hair and several of his grandiose theories on life, economics, engineering, and the universe, all committed to paper. Yes, he's that far off from normal). The content centers around materials, with occasional reference to the science we've already learned as undergrads, but he diverges into all sorts of historical experiences over his last thirty or so years in industry and academia. Seeing the way trends swing and sway with new technologies, new materials, and new applications, always with the funding coming from people who believe this may be the next new breakthrough that will finally give us some new revolutionary capability... it has given me a new background in which to place my observation of the present rage over carbon nano-tubes. I hope carbon nano-tubes pull through, but having this history to place things in perspective, including the funding dynamics, research motivation dynamics, industry dynamics, and so many other factors that jointly guide where research money is applied and where it is left behind... I feel I am in a far better position to know which references to check with before committing investment funds to R&D for some new dream research. Example: "Hot Superconductors" were a big rage many years ago, and even MIT collected some heavy funds for research in this field. However, only one of the five professors who had any previous experience in superconductors chose to pursue this research (the one who opted for the research didn't have tenure, and desperately needed funding from anywhere). The result... no new breakthroughs. Our professor rambled through several other similar but varying cases in other contexts of research and materials. Stuff you would never get in a book, and couldn't possibly organize under an official course outline, but it becomes very valuable in the strategic outlook on technology and business.

Our first week was this "leadership" oriented thing they called "The Universe Within". We all had our doubts up front, but it actually turned out to be very worthwhile. The first day was slow and dull, but from day two on, we actually had several discussions and associated activities that were highly effective for bringing out our group dynamics and allowing us to observe our personal character in different settings. I personally have some characteristics which, under the wrong conditions, make me a terrible team player. Overcoming those tendencies in my character is part of what I want to accomplish over these next two years, and I was surprised at how well our activities and discussions were able to bring both my strengths and these deficiencies to the surface. I could observe them, and confirm what I want to enhance and what I want to get rid of. It gave me a handle on observing what causes these tendencies to come forth so I can generate some predictability and understanding with which to start developing my role within a team.

(tethered and blindfolded)

There are 47 of us in this LFM class, and we've been split into teams of 6 for the summer. They assigned us teams before the first day based on our background and what characteristics they could observe through interviewing. I'm tempted to say I got lucky with a very well balanced and diverse team, but it looks like every team carries a similar balance of complimentary character and background.

It makes me laugh that at least three different professors have made it clear they could care less about the grades they give us in these classes, but even so, every team seems to have been going overkill on our cases and preparation. To me, it's relaxing to be surrounded by people who are so intrinsically driven to learn and understand. There is no external pressure for us to perform, but we drive a good pace anyway.

Having said that, I haven't had such a busy social schedule since I can remember. We seamlessly transition from school anything fun except school. Never a dull moment. It takes a dedicated effort to get any down time.

But not everyone has the same social patterns. It's becoming clear who the party crowd is (reference many of these pictures). In addition, I've taken opportunities to spend some evenings and weekend afternoons on an individual basis with several others who are married, or just prefer a lower key social setting. It continues to be surprising how grounded and rounded everyone is.

And for as much as everyone has experienced prior to starting LFM, every single person I've spent time with individually talks about some way in which they're growing and learning some new aspect of themselves, of those around them, and of life. Just by throwing us in this bucket and letting us interact... it has been a very positive experience for everyone I've talked with. I don't think you can duplicate something like this any other way.

June 29, 2006 R #

Time to breathe. Life has been full, without a moment to pause.

My little bro Brandon got back from his two years in Mexico this week. This is from the last time we saw each other, climbing Space Shot. We were supposed to spend two days and one night on the rock. We finally earned this summit shot after our second night, and still had a solid day getting ourselves and our gear off the rock. Fun times (and grueling). It'll be good to see him again in July.

My stuff came in almost two weeks ago... exactly one month after it left my place in LA. For the most part, everything came through unscathed. One box did get traded with some other mover. I lost a throw pillow and all my dress socks, but scored a great set of knives, some cool looking shower curtain hangers, and a bottle of Godiva that I'll give to someone who will enjoy it. Best of all, I finally have my camera.

I'm finally all moved in, and it's amazing how much better it feels. I guess most people don't post pictures of their places, but I'm pretty stoked about what I'm doing with this loft. I have some work to do on the pictures (framing), and that shelf with my bed isn't what I envisioned. But whatever your place looks like, Air Conditioning is an absolute necessity. The heat isn't so bad, but the humidity makes your skin sticky.

And you really have to appreciate these hand stitched, custom designed, eight foot drapes. They took longer than I expected, and more material (they're 8 feet tall!!!), but they're totally worth it.

The beams in my loft made the perfect tooling to sewing them. Picture compliments of Amber (presently on an anit-blogging stint) who was a huge help over those first few weeks.

And I sewed some more professional drapes for the side of my loft with my computer.

Most of my furniture comes compliments of craigslist, and a few graduating LFM '06's.

BBQ a couple weekends ago.

Today we had the CEO of Dell, Kevin Rollins, come for a Q&A session with us. I didn't know he's a fellow BYU alum. He did both his undergrad and MBA at BYU, went on to become a VP and Partner consulting with Bain, and then joined Dell as COO in '96. Historically, Kevin spends several hours with the LFM group when we tour their manufacturing facility. Cool guy.

Just two days earlier, Vah Erdekian, Cisco's VP of Worldwide Manufacturing, came to speak to us. It's great having these sharp and successful leaders join us, but it's even better to have a whole class of people with enough experience and insight to really pull out a valuable conversation. The time is so much more valuable when spent with people who know enough to ask worthwhile questions.

It's a small world sometimes. At least, BYU seems to make it that way. Dave and I immediately recognized each other when we met out here for interviews. Then his wife Angie walked into the bbq and instantly recognized me, remembering both me and my brother Greg. We were friends before Angie and Dave even met.

Several of us have families. It was fun getting everyone out with their kids.

Ram (pronounced Rom) is on my smaller team of six (Go Big Fish!!!), so we spend several hours working together every day. He did his undergrad at the India Institute of Technology (IIT). He claims that CNN hypes it up to be a more grueling place than it really is, but if everyone there is as mathematically fluent as Ram, I'm more inclined to believe the hype. Sometimes we work at his place so he can be there for his son while his wife is at work.

Sanjay is also from India. It's interesting seeing what kind of assumptions we take for granted in being from different cultures. Different cultures instill slightly different world views and assumptions regarding consumer and organizational dynamics. You can be told what these differences are, but it really sets in when you get to see the difference point blank in the thought processes leading to different conclusions.

On a fun note, four graduating LFM '06's are starting a road trip from Boston all the way down to Honduras, spanning two months... and they're blogging it!!! The Volkswagen Golf Diaries. One of these guy's did his engineering in Aero Astro, served his six month internship in Israel with Intel, and helped me out a lot by connecting me to professors at MIT. Now he's moving to Chicago (after the trip) and working with United in Operations. If all goes according to plan, they shouldn't have to stay in a single hotel the whole time. Between friends, friends parents, and other connections through the Sloan B-School and LFM'ers, they'll have a place to stay every night.

Ada, the girl playing football in a skirt, throws like a girl, but hit's her receiver like Joe Montana to Jerry Rice. Then she skips to the end zone like Alice in Wonderland.

Hey there Ilyssa!!! You hate me for posting this picture, don't you?!?!

We've had the world cup playing every day in our lunch room... on the Spanish channel.

And I finally took a little bit to read some of the blogs I like following. Mr. Behi over in Iran wrote this funny little entry on "After the 'After Life." The comments after are also entertaining.

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