Name: neener
School: USC Marshall School of Business
Status: Employed...finally
E-mail: Click here!
Reason for blogging: I'm incredibly self-absorbed.
I'm listening to...
::"Stay Beautiful," The Last Goodnight
::"Spaceman," The Killers
::"Green Light," John Legend
::"Superstar," Lupe Fiasco

I'm watching...
::The Office

I'm reading...
::Taiwan, A Political History, by Denny Roy
::The Devil and Miss Prym, by Paulo Coehlo

I've just seen...
::Slumdog Millionaire
::I Love You, Man
::The Reader
06/01/2003 - 07/01/2003
07/01/2003 - 08/01/2003
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09/01/2003 - 10/01/2003
10/01/2003 - 11/01/2003
11/01/2003 - 12/01/2003
12/01/2003 - 01/01/2004
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05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007
07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007
08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007
06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008
09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008
10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008
11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008
02/01/2009 - 03/01/2009
03/01/2009 - 04/01/2009
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11/01/2009 - 12/01/2009
12/01/2009 - 01/01/2010
02/01/2010 - 03/01/2010
04/01/2010 - 05/01/2010
05/01/2010 - 06/01/2010
06/01/2010 - 07/01/2010
07/01/2010 - 08/01/2010
08/01/2010 - 09/01/2010
09/01/2010 - 10/01/2010
10/01/2010 - 11/01/2010
11/01/2010 - 12/01/2010
07/01/2011 - 08/01/2011
10/01/2011 - 11/01/2011
12/01/2011 - 01/01/2012
02/01/2012 - 03/01/2012
03/01/2012 - 04/01/2012
Saturday, August 30, 2003
Sleep is Underrated  
They keep telling us first-years that "sleep is overrated." I wholeheartedly disagree. Sleep is desperately underrated at this school. Don't people realize that when you're as cute as me, you need beauty sleep? Let's take a look at what has been happening in the past week.

Sunday: I spent the day at Hermosa Beach for a Marshall social event. At Marshall, there's a strange group of people who identify themselves as "active people." They have this weird philosophy about being physically active. I mean, has anyone heard of such a thing? I was at the beach, doing normal beach stuff --- eating, reading an entertainment magazine, lying on my back, lying on my stomach --- and all of a sudden these weirdos burst on the scene with a variety of spheres that they refer to as "volleyballs" and "soccer balls." They proceeded to expend calories by throwing, hitting, and kicking these spheres to one another. It was very intriguing. After I got home, I tried reading my microeconomics textbook. It took Herculean effort to remain awake. I think that book would make a great sleeping aid. It's effective. You only have to buy it once (no replenishing your pills). You wouldn't have to worry about getting addicted. I think I finally dropped off to sleep around 11:00 PM. Sleep counter: 4 hours.

Monday: I woke up around three to start working on a presentation assignment. I had to craft a 5-minute presentation to give to my teammates in one of the Experiential Learning Center (ELC) rooms. We have this assignment so my communications professor has an idea of my baseline presentation skills and help me improve. I'm pretty scared of giving presentations in general and the idea of giving it in the ELC can be intimidating. What is the ELC? Well, have you ever seen one of those police interrogations rooms on Law & Order? And have you ever seen those tapes of people under observation in psychiatric wards like on X-Files? Well, the ELC is like a combination of the two. From the inside, you feel like you're in a small conference room, complete with tables, chairs, whiteboards, and projectors. At one of the room is mirror and above it, a video camera. From the outside, you see a counter with pairs of headphones. Above the counter is the two-way mirror that lets people from the outside observe you. As you can guess, one needs to be careful about what goes on in the ELC since someone could be taping you or watching you.

I got to school, gave my presentation, and engaged in yet another failed attempt to read microeconomics. After a lunch where second-years and the Career Resource Center (CRC) staff talked to us about career and resume stuff, we had microeconomics class. Our professor is great and has a great sense of humor, but I was having so much trouble staying awake because I didn't get enough sleep the night before and was suffering from an after-lunch food coma. One of my classmates tried to keep me awake by making faces at me from across the room, but it took a large cup of Pepsi (not my usual diet Pepsi because I needed the caffeine AND the sugar) to keep my head from falling onto the desk. After school, I headed home. I took a one-hour nap before attacking a packet on business ettiquette and a slew of self-assessment tests. When I got the results I was pretty irritated, since it basically told me I should go into Training and Organizational Development. I'm not sure what it is, but it sounds a bit like teaching people how to do stuff, and I've always been an impatient person, so I don't know where this career assessment test got this idea that I'd be good at teaching. Luckily, today was a day where I'd get some major sleep. Sleep counter: 5 hours.

Tuesday: The beginning of the day was all devoted to analyzing the results of the battery of assessment tests we had taken since the beginning of orientation. We then had a fancy lunch where we had to practice our "business ettiquette" and some important guy at USC gave us tips and rules to follow about dining ettiquette and how not to embarrass ourselves in front of future clients, bosses, interviewers, etc. After lunch, we had a communications class where we were debriefed about our baseline presentations and talked about how business writing differs from academic writing. We also got an assignment about ethical decisionmaking. We were given a problem and different roles (I was the district attorney, someone else was the president of a company, etc.) that we would have to solve the next day in one of the ELC rooms. I got out of class by 3:30 PM and was very stoked, since I would FINALLY have enough free time to get my car washed. Being in school is like being at work in terms of have to grasp any free time you get for running errands because you are just so busy. I got home and read my ethical decisionmaking assignment and then attacked accounting, which I believe will kick my butt. Not only was our reading assignment long and hard to understand, but we also had long homework problems and a case to read. Sleep counter: 4 hours.

Wednesday: I started the day with the ethical decisionmaking exercise. We assembled into groups into the various ELC rooms and had a mock "meeting" where all of us tried to come to a solution. After we finished negotiating, we were taken into a larger room where we talked about ethical dilemmas and watched video clips of ourselves working together. I had a lot of free time afterwards, so I spent my lunch break attempting to finish my accounting assignment. Then it was off to accounting class. Our accounting professor is very dynamic and funny, and he really tried to accomodate those of us who had zero accounting experience. After the accounting class, we had a MBA Club Fair, where we could learn about all the different clubs at school and apply to join them. The problem with these clubs are dues. I think I may have to take out another loan just so I can pay for the club dues. Being cheap, I tried to look for clubs that were dues-free, but the only ones were those I couldn't join, like the club for gays, lesbians, bis, etc. and the club for significant others of Marshall students. Luckily, we had no homework, so it was another good night of sleep for me. Sleep counter: 7 hours.

Thursday: We had yet another communications class where we talked about preparing team presentations (for example, a team of consultants presenting their action plan to a company). This was to help us prepare for our case competition, which was kicking off in 4 hours. After class, we had some free time during which I chatted with some classmates. During lunch, the MBA Program Director gave a short presentation wrapping up our Orientation activities, and then my communications prof gave us an overview of our case competition. We received our case materials and were told to have our presentations ready by 8:15 AM the next morning. If you aren't familiar with cases, here's a short explanation. You're given a scenario, usually involving a business having some sort of dilemma or problem. You then have to evaluate the sitatuion and come up with a recommended course of action. There's rarely a right or wrong answer; it's more about learning to evaluate a situation with limited information, choosing a solution, and being able to back up your recommendation. My team reserved a room in the library so that we could work on the case until 8 PM, by which time we should have finished. However, I knew better. I knew that given the time management abilities on our team, we would take way longer. We ended up working until 1:30 AM.Sleep counter: 2 hours.

Friday: I got up at 4:30 to finish working on our PowerPoint slides and dress in business formal attire. I drove to school, met up with my teammates at 6:30 AM, ate half a muffin and two pieces of fruit for breakfast at 7:45 AM, and fine-tuned our presentation until our presentation time, 9:15 AM. Even though I was not a presenter (my job was that of PowerPoint-Slide-Advancer), my stomach was still tied in knots, and I was totally freaked out when the judges started asking us questions. After that, we gathered in a room with our entire core and we voted for the best presentations in our core (the winners would advance to the finals). The finals were held in Town & Gown, one of the nice banquet facilities on campus. We listened to presentations from each core, and judges from the Marshall faculty chose a winner. Many people dozed off since they had not gotten sleep from the night before and because it was a bit like listening to the same thing over and over again as the different teams came up with very similar solutions. We all rejoiced when the winner was announced because that meant it was time for food, and about time too! It was practically 2 PM! That's 6 hours without food! Since we are business school students, no celebration would be complete without alcohol. Since I couldn't deal with the long lines at the reception, I just snagged half a cookie and walked with the rest of my classmates to the Radisson hotel bar next door for some early afternoon boozing. After waiting an appropriate amount of time, I drove from school to Beverly Center, where I met up with Lil who bought me some shoes (I was looking, she paid) as a present, and then we headed to Chaya Brasserie, where I had my birthday dinner with Katy, Greg, Joyce, Lil (duh), Em, Wendiva, Jenny, and Christina. The food was very good. They even got me a birthday dessert (i.e., they added a little glass with fruit and a lit candle to my dessert plate). Christina and Jenny asked if the restaurant employees would sing "Happy Birthday" or if they should sing it but Wendiva, determined not to be embarrassed, gave an emphatic "No." After our huge dinner, we headed back to Lil's house, where she proceeded, as usual, to fall asleep on us while the rest of us chatted about many things, but the conversation pretty much always returned to guys, which probably made Greg feel a bit uncomfortable, but he was a good sport about it. We got home around 2 AM in the morning. That meant that I had gotten 5 hours of sleep in the last 48 hours. I went home and promptly conked out, only to be awakened at 9 AM by my sister asking me if I wanted to go out for breakfast.

Today was very anticlimactic. I spent the day with a plumber trying to fix an overflowing drain in the house. I hate dealing with plumbing problems. After this, I'm going to either clean the house or start doing homework. *sigh*

Tuesday, August 26, 2003
Thank You, God  
Oh-ho! Everyone better watch out! I just got DSL up and running at my house! No more sitting in front of the computer for hours just to read 2 e-mail messages. No more disabling graphics in my e-mail just so it'll load faster. No more taking a shower while downloading a Microsoft Word attachment! This is just too awesome. Get this: I have two browser windows open on my PC right now. And I am fearlessly opening yet another window. Uh-huh, you read me right: I've got THREE browser windows open. How do you like me now?

Saturday, August 23, 2003
Dog Tired  
The past three days have flown by. I've been so busy and/or tired that I haven't been able to update until now. So here's the recap.

We kicked off Wednesday with a class on communication for management where we got our first assignments (we have to give a 5-min presentation in front of our teams, which is going to keep me from sleeping well since I hate public speaking), and we also got a short tour of campus. After that, we separated into our cores for a pep rally where 2nd-years showed us slides and videos of the fun stuff they did last year and tried to instill some core spirit, since the cores were going to compete in the afternoon. The afternoon event is known as Teamwork at Marshall Day (known as T@M Day, pronounced "tam"). It's a competition in which teams from each core compete in a variety of activities, trying to accumulate points, and the core with the most points at the end wins. You can liken the competition to a string of Survivor-esque reward challenges, except you don't get voted off if you mess up. The cores are like the tribes on Survivor. We were all wearing our core T-shirts and were waving around little pom-poms and donning face paint. Very spirit-y. My core did not do well (had it been Survivor, we would have been voted off), but not for lack of trying, I can assure you. Marshall people love to talk about getting out of your "comfort zone," and for me, these activities definitely had me out of my comfort zone. One activity was called "The Spiderweb" and required teammates to carry one another in attempt to pass them through these small gaps in the "spiderweb" (big gaps, fewer points; small gaps near the top, more points). Now, let me just state that I hate being carried. It just makes me feel self-conscious about my weight, but since I was one of the shorter people on my team, everyone just assumed that I should be one of the carried instead of the carriers. All I could think the whole time was, "What if I'm way heavier than they think and they drop me? I'll be mortified!" On one hand, I felt sad to be in the "flabby" minority at Marshall; on the other hand, since there are so few flabby people, there were plenty of really strong, fit people who were able to carry me. On another activity, I had to sit on someone's shoulders. Although everything came out ok, I was frightened out of my wits during the actual activity, for several reasons: (1) I was afraid I was going to make the guy carrying me buckle under (remember, I feel self-conscious when I'm being carried?), and then we'd both be in the hospital. (2) My sense of balance sucks, so I was digging my heels into the guy carrying me while my two hands were grabbing the shoulders of two other teammates with a vise-like grip for fear of losing my balance. Every time the guys moved around (we had gotten to our spots way faster than the other team and the guys were getting restless), I'd plead, "Don't move! Stay here!" for fear that I'd fall off and crack my head open. (3) I'm scared of heights, and my perch just happened to be the tallest guy I've met. I was sure I'd teeter over, but my teammates were very good and didn't let that happen. Anyway, although it was scary, it was a fun day and there was a lot of physical activity involved, which was good because we'd spent the previous two days sitting in conference rooms all day.

After the T@M activities, I was tired and sweaty, so I opted out of the comedy club performance we were invited to and instead went home and changed into something nice before going to the night's other social event: The Standard, a hip, relatively new bar on the roof of the Standard Hotel in Los Angeles. I knew that most of the students were too tired to go, but since I had never been, I figured this would be the perfect opportunity to go and take a look. From what the second-years have been telling me, I'm going to forget what "free time" is very, very soon. Dubya joined me, and we mingled a little bit. I wanted to talk to more Marshall students, but I was having trouble recognizing them without the usual business casual wear and nametags. I would approach someone only to swerve away at the last second when I realized that I wasn't positive that I'd seen them before. Dubya and I did talk to several Marshall students (including the one I think is cute and one she thinks is cute), and played some of our favorite games for bars/clubs: "Who's Gay?" and "Male or Female?" Oh, don't look all know you wonder about certain people too. I'm just being candid. The Standard has some funky, modern furniture that I liked a lot. The lounge chairs beside the swimming pool are these sleek, curved shapes, and they have these little enclosed waterbeds that Dubya calls "Hershey Kisses" because the enclosures are kind of shaped like the candies. They were fun to sit in, but I can't imagine actually sleeping on one...too much movement, and I had an arm workout just trying to get off the bed. Ol' anti-social me actually stayed until 11:30 pm. Quite an accomplishment, if I do say so myself. I am amazed at the number of "social" things I've done so far. I'm really quite proud of myself for going to these places, given my predisposition to vegetate in solitude.

Thursday was all about leadership. We spent the entire day in the same conference room listening to people talk to us about important qualities leaders need and the issues leaders face. We talked about the different issues that people have to address when they're working in a team and common problems that teams run into when they consist of people with very different styles of working and interacting. During lunch, we had a guest speaker who talked about his experiences and what leadership skills he needed to accomplish his goals. It was kind of boring to have to sit in the same room for the entire day, but I did think that the information we were given was interesting. In addition, the international students, who had arrived at Marshall one week earlier than the rest of us, gave a very entertaining presentation that made us all laugh and gave us a much needed break from the many lectures we had to listen to that day.

Today, we were introduced to the case study method. It was scary with all the cold-calling that was going on, and I was just sitting in my seat, thinking, "Don't call on me. Don't call on me." I already know that I don't always "think on my feet," and I think that's a large part of what case analysis is. The case study method is very different from the lecture style that I'm used to, so I know it'll take some time for me to adjust. I can't copy the notes from the board like when I was in math class at college. If I did try to copy the notes that way, they would end up making very little sense and wouldn't help me on future exams or in future classes. It's more about the process of analyzing situations and coming up with solutions than about the actual solutions themselves, which I'm not used to. I think my statistics class will be more the style I'm used to. After the case study, we had a barbecue lunch. While the food was not the best, it was a great opportunity to meet more people and to see our favorite faculty members trash-talk the students, who were trying to dunk them into the dunk tank that was set up on the lawn. All in all, it was an enjoyable week, but it was just soooo busy, what with all the different activities and events that had been set up.

I'm looking forward to the weekend and a chance at getting more than 4 hours of sleep a night.

Wednesday, August 20, 2003
It Just Doesn't Stop  
Second day of orientation. There have been new developments. In the morning, we lined up to receive our core T-shirts. What's a core? Well, the MBA Program Office takes the entire class and divides it into four cores. A core is a group of people who share the same class schedule and classroom. That way, you basically deal with the same people all year. This is useful because the cores are further subdivided into teams. Each team, usually with five to six people, works on various class projects together for the entire semester. We are then assigned to new teams for the second semester.

We then prepared for a day of sitting. We started the day by learning a little more about the career and leadership development services offered to us, and then participated in an ethics workshop led by a very entertaining speaker. She posed some interesting questions about being a "good" professional vs. a "good person, amongst other things. It was also very interesting to learn more about our fellow classmates as we evaluated their solutions for a case that was presented to us. After the workshop, we had a lunch. As we ate, the organizer of the PRIME program (one of Marshall's unique programs) gave us a presentation about the exchange program. Essentially, PRIME is a class. Students are assigned a consulting project for an overseas company in the Pacific Rim. They spend a term working on the project while taking classes specific to the country in which the company is located. At the end of the term, students travel to those countries and give presentations to the company itself, thus gaining valuable knowledge about business in a particular country while getting to travel at the same time. After lunch, we were given our team assignments. Thus I met the five people with whom I will be working extensively for the next 18 or so weeks. During the team-team building workshop that followed, we had to come up with team values and names, which was an interesting exercise that gave us some insight on how the various people in our team work and contribute. I make it sound short, but these workshops took a LOOOONG time. Finally we were able to get our butts out of the chairs for a mixer where we learned more about Challenge for Charity, a joint effort of West Coast business schools that uses competition to do good for the community. Community service is a BIG thing at Marshall.

After meeting some more classmates (it's not a huge class, but it's harder to meet everyone than one would think) at the mixer, I headed back home and took a quick jog around my house before going to the "social event" for this evening. There are social events every day this week! My old, tired body can't take much more of this! This event was in an L.A. bar called Saddleranch that boasts a mechanical bull. The event, although it will contribute to my inability to wake up tomorrow (actually, it's past 1 AM, so I really should say "today" not "tomorrow"), was fun in that (1) I got to meet even more classmates, and (2) I got to see a certain faculty member ride the mechanical bull. The faculty member fell off the bull with rather spectacular somersault, the best dismount of the night by far.

Finally, I was able to come home and check my e-mail and see my latest fee bill. I was very happy to see that my loans (both the Stafford and the private) had been disbursed, making my bank account that much happier. Now, it's off to do some homework, go to bed, and repeat the cycle!

Tuesday, August 19, 2003
Am I dreaming or awake?  
It is 1 AM in the morning. I just got out of the shower after finishing up with my first day of orientation. I am dog tired. It started bright and early at 7:45 AM, and didn't end officially until 7:00 PM. It was pretty much filled with welcome speeches, presentations about various aspects of b-school life, and icebreakers/networking stuff. After that, I had to go to an optional "social event" (i.e. gathering with alcohol) because, let's face it, no one wants to be labeled the "antisocial" person from day one. I was going to read through and organize the huge sheaf of flyers and papers we were given today, but I am so dog-tired that I think I'm just going to crash now. At the orientation, all the students were saying that we should try to do everything they planned for us and that sleep is "overrated." I'm not sure I agree with that last statement. From my perspective, right now, sleep is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, August 12, 2003
Fun (Yeah, right...) Stuff  
I got back from New York last week and have since been preparing for school (i.e., shopping for school supplies). Even as a kid, I loved funky writing instruments and could spend hours at Sanrio or Office Depot browsing at different pens/pencils/pen-and-pencil-in-ones. Nowadays, there are so many different types of pens to choose from! You've got your standard ballpoints and rollerballs, and then you've got the the gel-inks (milky pastels, metallic colors, even "lightning" colors!), and THEN you've got the new liquid gels. Office Depot, Staples, and Target are to me what Shoe Pavilion is to shoe lovers and Filene's Basement is to clotheshorses. So fun!

Alas, preparing for school isn't all fun and games. I've also been slogging through Essentials of Accounting by Robert N. Anthony and Leslie K. Breitner (ISBN: 0131025716), which was recommended by the accounting profs at Marshall as good prep materials for people like me, who are totally inept when it comes to all things accounting. It's formatted like one of those workbooks we used to use in high school French class (with pictures and fill-in-the-blanks). On one hand, I feel a bit retarded working out of a workbook. On the other hand, the "dumbing down" of the material is the only reason I kind of understand what's going on. *sigh* I am not looking forward to accounting class. When I finally get my pictures from New York organized, I will upload them onto Neener Elementary. Til next time.

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EBITAS (noun):
Abbreviation for "Earnings Before Income Tax, Amortization, and SGARA." Next week, find out what SGARA is.

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