Archive for the ‘Academics’ Category

Saturday March 29, 2008 ii

March 29, 2008


I woke up ~0600 to daybreak, freezing, half-dressed in yesterday’s crumpled clothes, lying on top of the sheets with my laptop open to some mind-numbing game, wondering what the hell happened.  Must’ve been another steamroller.  No; I wasn’t drinking last night. I guess the exhaustion and confusion finally caught up. It’s been a really trying week, heavily back-loaded with, well, everything.

“Forget <insert menial job here>, you need to write,” said an email from a high school friend, who I see every couple of years. Where has writing gotten me?  No one likes to read about success, so I suppose I’ve got a lot of material to go on. There comes a point, though, where the shit I type becomes too depressing, even for me.

It’s time to make a move. Well, at least from this west wing cubicle where I’ve been parked since this afternoon, trying to hammer out an assignment for Industry and Competitive Analysis.  Great class, but way too much work. It’s like Corporate Entrepreneurship all over again, except Karel Cool (M) isn’t as pretty as Michelle Rogan (F). The dregs of the Balvenie bottle beckon. To infinity, and beyond!


The Gap

March 22, 2008

It’s a long road
When you’re on your own
And it hurts when
They tear your dreams apart
And every new town
Just seems to bring you down
Trying to find peace of mind
Can break your heart
It’s a real war
Right outside your front door I tell ya
Out where they’ll kill ya
You could use a friend
Where the road is
That’s the place for me
Where I’m me in my own space
Where I’m free that’s the place
I wanna be
‘Cause the road is long yeah
Each step is only the beginning
No breaks just heartaches
Oh man is anybody winning
It’s a long road
And it’s hard as hell
Tell me what do you do
To survive
When they draw first blood
That’s just the start of it
Day and night you gotta fight
To keep alive
It’s a long road …

“It’s a Long Road” – Dan Hill


20:00. I’m empty. Really, really empty. PIM slammed the hell out of me today. Playing into Fernando’s constant reminder that we’re all closet alcoholics, I came home and kicked back a dram, neat, and cooked. I’ve been accused of being a basketcase when I cook, stressing too much (Type A personality, you know) over every little detail, and never having anything ready on time. Tonight, I was only cooking for myself, which in terms of quantity, translates to about 65 portions instead of the usual 130. As my veggies simmered, I went on a hunt for housemates, looking for someone to feed, only to find nary a hint of light peeping out from cracks, and nothing but pitch black darkness. Perhaps that’s what I need tonight: abyssal silence. Yet I know what I really need, after Fernando’s lecture. But it’s not really much of a possibility. If I ask, I’ll fall and lose, which, after further consideration, is what I’ll do anyway.

Peeling the Onion: Why do I like to cook? To feed people. Why do I like to feed people? To feel needed. Why do I need to feel needed? Because there’s a titanic gap between my self-ideal and self-esteem. There, that feels better.

Or not.

We read a nice, cheery piece about a highly successful man who killed himself in class this evening. Bartolome asked how many of us were familiar with suicide, either through family, friends, or people we’d worked with. About a quarter of the class raised their hand. I sat there wondering what kind of stories everyone had to live with every day. What kind of demons is everyone harboring? How many of my classmates have walked up to the casket of a friend to find an unnaturally serene, made-up husk of the person they once knew, dressed to the nines, with fifteen bullet holes in his chest? How fucking many? What the fuck do people here know about stories?

How do you fight existential angst? How the fuck can you even begin to fathom the human condition? Sure, the existence thereof makes us appreciate the joys of little things. The sun peeking out from high cirrus after a storm. The smell of wet grass drifting on the wind as I take a long drag on a smoke. The fundamental rightness of physical intimacy. The knowledge that I’m not alone…

How do I reconcile the pluses and minuses? Who the fuck can I drop the mask for, and how can I be sure they won’t push me away when they see me, like so many have? Am I loved for the conception of being, or for the real deal?

105 days left, dear reader. Live it alone, or go out in a goddamn blaze of glory? I’ve already made the call, this time without considering the input of fucking idiots who, though well intentioned, don’t have a fucking clue.

It’s on you.

“We get sick alone. We die alone.”
-F. Bartolome

And nothing but…

March 21, 2008

Wouldn’t it be nice if we were older
Then we wouldn’t have to wait so long
And wouldn’t it be nice to live together
In the kind of world where we belong

You know its gonna make it that much better
When we can say goodnight and stay together

Wouldn’t it be nice if we could wake up
In the morning when the day is new
And after having spent the day together
Hold each other close the whole night through

Happy times together we’ve been spending
I wish that every kiss was never ending
Wouldn’t it be nice

Maybe if we think and wish and hope and pray it might come true
Baby then there wouldn’t be a single thing we couldn’t do
We could be married
And then wed be happy

Wouldn’t it be nice

You know it seems the more we talk about it
It only makes it worse to live without it
But lets talk about it
Wouldn’t it be nice

“Wouldn’t It Be Nice” – Beach Boys


I should be in bed, recovering from the week’s worth of madness and back-to-back nights of company presentations, career fairs, shitty hors devours, bad champagne and threadbare suits.   Instead, I’m sitting in this rickety chair, hammering away at this rickety keyboard, wondering why this rickety blogger can’t bring itself to reply to the countless “where have you gone and what the hell has happened to you” emails that are collecting dust in various inboxes, nor to write the all-important, ass-kissing cover letters required for the numerous interviews I won’t get, for jobs I’m not really sure I want.

On the upside, classes this period have been excellent thus far. Granted, there haven’t been more than a handful of sessions for any subject, but I’m already a fan of both the content and the professors, especially “Negotiations Strategies” with Ayse Öncüler.

Last Friday, we discussed a few key ideas in negotiation, one of which was Degrees of Truth, of which there are varying iterations, all considered “the truth.”

Why wouldn’t everyone use the maximum degree, I wonder? This ties in with a topic we covered in PIM about espoused values (values which you proclaim to uphold) versus _______ values (values which you actually exercise in daily life). The value of “honesty” was brought up, and I’m sure many a student in class counted it among their espoused values, but probably don’t live it 75%, let alone 100%.

It’s really no surprise then, that life is lived and played like one big game, but it still makes me wonder. Sure, I’ve played the game, and I still do, to some degree, but as I get older, I see less and less point in obfuscation and misinformation. I’m bound to get some readers who are shaking their heads so hard at my perceived naivete that their vertebrae are in danger of snapping like kindling, but it’s their right to laugh.

Does this make me guilty of seeing the world in shades of black and white? Probably.

Is it wrong of me to try to keep some ideals alive in that lump of coal known as my soul? Probably.


    March 12, 2008

    You don’t know a thing about me
    Is there something you should know?
    I can tell you what you want to hear
    Let your inhibitions just go

    No, you don’t know what you will give up
    You don’t know what you want
    It may take you years to find out
    You don’t know what you need
    It’s something that may never come to you

    Trust is something that comes easy
    When you’ve never been a victim
    Lies and promises and words are said
    It’s your decision to accept them

    No, you don’t know what you will give up
    You don’t know what you want
    It may take you years to find out
    You don’t know what you need
    It’s something that may never come to you

    “Disconnected” – Face to Face

    This, and “Anything Anything” by Dramarama are probably two of my favorite songs in any genre. I first heard this song ages ago, in the pre-Internet days, and spent a good number of years looking for the title. It would’ve made a great background for my angst-filled teenage years.  Hell, it’d make a great soundtrack for my INSEAD year.


    It’s settled. I like PIM, and am staying in the class, much to my discomfort.

    Today, we took a self-assessed “Rogerian Attitudes Questionnaire” in which we had to describe the extent to which we possessed a list of traits, some positive, some negative on a scale of 1 to 5, with the high end signifying “very much so,” and the low “not at all.”

    Some positively Rogerian traits/behaviors, with my self-scored ranking in parentheses included in the sample were: Caring (5), Patient (2), Compassionate (5), Good at Perceiving Others’ Feelings (2), Comfortable With Ambiguity (2). Some negatives: Judgmental (4), Spontaneous (4), Uncomfortable With My Own Emotions (5), and the zinger, Like Action Movies (4).

    We were then asked to sum the 4’s and 5’s for both positives and negatives. My results were +:43, -:29. I think that makes me slightly Rogerian, but the extremes worry me a little. Though I haven’t mustered up the courage to speak in class yet, it’s kind of funny how honest and open I’m being with myself in the course.  I shrunk a little when Fernando busted out, “Many of you like to play closet psychologist…” Yup; guilty as charged. I think I have the answers for everyone else, but I can’t even solve my own problems. Go figure.

    I gasped (thankfully, no one was close enough to hear) when he asked us to write down what we thought the risks of empathy were, from the point of view of the person feeling empathetic. Empathy, as defined by Fernando, is the ability to get in touch with not only the thoughts, but the feelings of another person. The ability to not only put yourself in their shoes, but in their heart as well.

    I’ve thought a lot about this topic over the last few months, and have been trying to figure out where my penchant for empathy comes from, and how far back this somewhat nefarious trait goes.  The first, I’ve got a shaky handle on.  The latter, I won’t be able to peg, because I’ve already gone as far as memory serves.  This might sound like some self-tooting of the ol’ horn, but I know I’m not Mother Theresa, and I’ve never really viewed the behavior/trait/ability as a good thing.  Do I want to get rid of it?  Probably not, but I can’t say I don’t wonder what life would be like without it.  Easier, is my guess.

    There are some who would disagree with the assertion that I’m empathetic.  Pathetic, maybe, but not empathetic.  And they’d be right, in a narrow sort of way.  How many times have I been blind to, or lied to myself about what someone else is feeling?  How many times has that come back to bite me on the ass?  I don’t think it’s an issue of empathy so much as self-awareness and transparency, two concepts that Rogers believed to be crucial to his idea of “healthy” person.

    Well, fuck, we all know I’m the paragon of health, right?  Whiskey, smokes, burning the Citroen’s transmission on low-gear sprints through the forest late at night, sleep deprivation, and participating in the INSEAD MBA program.  All signs of a healthy blogger.

    Tomorrow is the same day.  Just with a different suit.

    Desperately Seeking Mangrove

    March 7, 2008

    Which of the bold face lies will we use?
    I hope that you’re happy
    You really deserve it
    This will be best for us both in the end

    But your taste still lingers on my lips
    Like I just placed them upon yours
    And I starve
    I starve for you
    But this new diet’s liquid
    And dulling to the senses
    And it’s crude
    But it will do

    Which of the standard lines will we use?
    I’ve been meaning to call you
    I’ve just been so busy
    We’ll catch up soon
    Lets make it a point to

    But your taste still lingers on my lips
    Like I just placed them upon yours
    And I starve
    I starve for you
    But this new diet’s liquid
    And dulling to the senses
    And it’s crude
    But it will do

    “Hope You’re Happy” – Dashboard Confessional


    I attended the first session of “Psychological Issues in Management” (PIM) today, taught by the infamous Fernando Bartholome. It’s an interesting class so far. I’ll post on this when I have more data, but I didn’t find it shocking or offensive as many others in the classroom did, if the looks on their faces were anything to go by. For me, it was incredibly draining more than anything. I sat there, coiled and tense, waiting to be cold-called and flip on the flight-or-fight instinct, with an inclination toward the latter. Maybe it was just the jam-packed amphi and my closet claustrophobia kicking in. Maybe it was the way some of Fernando’s comments hit home, hard. Maybe I’m just imagining things and should stop listening to the little green men.

    “If you know what this class is about, why are you taking it,” I was asked.

    “I dunno; to challenge myself, to spite myself, to push myself,” I replied.

    Who knows why I do the things I do? I sure as hell don’t. An impartial third party thinks I take selfless actions to further my path to sainthood whilst ignoring my Rogerian conception of “self.” Well, if that’s the case, then once my stigmata arrive from, I’ll be fit for canonization.

    There are various parties going down tonight: P1/P2 section reunion deals, house gigs, get-togethers, and whatnot. I didn’t receive an invitation to any of them. Now let’s just get this straight: I do not crash parties. That’s just not my thing. If I haven’t made it to a mailing list and I receive a double, triple forwarded email with details, I just won’t go. Sure, this is INSEAD, and I constantly hear, “everyone crashes, who cares? Don’t be stupid,” but I won’t do it. Call it principle. Call it idiocy. Call it being antisocial. Call it what you will. I’m not whining about the state of affairs. It is what it is. I could network better. I could care more.

    I’m tired, hungry, spent, and not really sure what’s coursing through me right now, though in an attempt to be Rogerian, I’m trying hard not to benchmark whatever it is against anything/anyone else, and am stewing in the deserted West Wing typing this by the harsh, clean glow of a lonely fluorescent tube.

    The job hunt is already starting to overwhelm me. Thirty-nine messages were waiting in Outlook when I booted up this morning, a good two-thirds of which had something to do with employment. There seems to be a career services event workshop of some sort happening every night, and though I know from experience that I won’t extract much value out of them, I feel guilty if I don’t attend each and every one. There are something like six presentations that I want to go to next week, and the consulting firms have all sent out panic-mongering emails offering slots in limited-availability, “non evaluative information sessions,” asking us to reply ASAP and indicate our office geography of choice. As much as I hate to curse in a public forum, and as much as my excessive use of language bugs one particular reader, there’s no more appropriate turn of words here than a good ol’ “Fuck me.”



    February 20, 2008

    The sun’ll come out
    Bet your bottom dollar
    That tomorrow
    There’ll be sun!

    Just thinkin’ about
    Clears away the cobwebs,
    And the sorrow
    ‘Til there’s none!

    When I’m stuck a day
    That’s gray,
    And lonely,
    I just stick out my chin
    And Grin,
    And Say,

    The sun’ll come out
    So ya gotta hang on
    ‘Til tomorrow
    Come what may
    Tomorrow! Tomorrow!
    I love ya Tomorrow!
    You’re always
    A day
    A way!

    “Tomorrow” – Annie



    Search Views
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    The wheel turns, and the madness begins. You know it’s getting bad when P1s are coming to this blog in search of academic tips. Hah! Silly students. Just write what you really feel about your group mates. You know you want to. Let it all out. Come on; it’s your last chance. Well, that is unless you decide to have another heart-to-heart “feedback session.”

    Let’s see how many projects I can churn out in a day’s time and how much sleep I can get between now and Monday.

    03:17. Do I love you, oh tomorrow?

    When did everything stop making sense? Tomorrow.

    Fish + Bicycle = ???

    February 18, 2008

    Now that she’s back in the atmosphere
    With drops of Jupiter in her hair, hey, hey, hey, hey
    She acts like summer and walks like rain
    Reminds me that there’s time to change, hey, hey, hey, hey
    Since the return from her stay on the moon
    She listens like spring and she talks like June, hey, hey, hey, hey
    hey, hey, hey, hey

    Tell me did you sail across the sun
    Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded
    And that heaven is overrated

    Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star
    One without a permanent scar
    And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there

    Now that she’s back from that soul vacation
    Tracing her way through the constellation, hey, hey, hey
    She checks out Mozart while she does tae-bo
    Reminds me that there’s room to grow, hey, hey, hey, hey

    Now that she’s back in the atmosphere
    I’m afraid that she might think of me as plain ol’ Jane
    Told a story about a man who is too afraid to fly so he never did land

    Tell me did the wind sweep you off your feet
    Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
    And head back to the Milky Way
    And tell me, did Venus blow your mind
    Was it everything you wanted to find
    And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there

    Can you imagine no love, pride, deep-fried chicken
    Your best friend always sticking up for you, even when I know you’re wrong
    Can you imagine no first dance, freeze dried romance five-hour phone
    The best soy latte that you ever had . . . and me

    Tell me did the wind sweep you off your feet
    Did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day
    And head back toward the Milky Way

    Tell me did you sail across the sun
    Did you make it to the Milky Way to see the lights all faded
    And that heaven is overrated

    Tell me, did you fall for a shooting star
    One without a permanent scar
    And did you miss me while you were looking for yourself

    nah nah nah nah nah nah nah
    nah nah nah nah nah nah nah

    And did you finally get the chance to dance along the light of day

    nah nah nah nah nah nah
    nah nah nah nah nah nah

    And did you fall for a shooting star
    Fall for a shooting star

    nah nah nah nah nah nah
    nah nah nah nah nah nah

    Are you lonely looking for yourself out there

    “Drops of Jupiter” – Train


    What a weekend. I’m pretty drained, on all levels, and my liver is still cowering in a dark corner somewhere. I’ve tried to lure it out with water and promises of detox, but it’s not having any of me for a while. If you happen to see it running around, grab it for me, would you?

    The Dragon Week party ended up being more of a cocktail reception in a nice venue with muted music than a full-blown INSEAD shirt-ripper, but it was a good night overall. Interesting, as all nights are, when you involve INSEAD “participants” and open bars. I’m pretty bummed that I didn’t win the raffle draw for 2 round-trip plane tickets from Paris to Hong Kong, though. I mean, who can say no to a free trip to Asia?

    Incoming disclaimer for those who think that INSEAD is all about drunk and games. Uhm, fun and games, even. Saturday morning was an eye-opener, with seventy some-odd Market Driving Strategies students packing the Lower Gallery cubicles for two marathon decision rounds followed by an excellent closing lecture by superstar professor Markus Christen and a champagne reception paid for by said professor. Yeah, yeah, this last bit didn’t really further my intention of dispelling the notion of INSEA(lcoholics)D, but hey, you can’t turn down free champagne.

    Everyone’s sprinting down the P3 home stretch this week, trying to wrap up projects, gear up for the break and mentally prepare for what’s laying in store. The P4 Job/Career/Life Direction Madness Express is due to pull into the station in seventeen days. I’m curious (in a sticking-scissors-in-an-electrical socket kind of way) about how the student, campus, social, and housing dynamics of P4 are going to play out, what with the shift of human mass from Singapore back to Fonty.

    Gotta polish up those track spikes for tomorrow. Here we go again!

    “Pour ce qui est de l’avenir, il ne s’agit pas de le prévoir, mais de le rendre possible.”

    Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


    February 8, 2008

    Lying in my bed I hear the clock tick,
    And think of you
    Caught up in circles confusion –
    Is nothing new
    Flashback – warm nights –
    Almost left behind
    Suitcases of memories,
    Time after –

    Sometimes you picture me –
    I’m walking too far ahead
    You’re calling to me, I can’t hear
    What you’ve said –
    Then you say – go slow –
    I fall behind –
    The second hand unwinds

    If you’re lost you can look – and you will find me
    Time after time
    If you fall I will catch you – I’ll be waiting
    Time after time

    After my picture fades and darkness has
    Turned to gray
    Watching through windows – you’re wondering
    If I’m OK
    Secrets stolen from deep inside
    The drum beats out of time –

    If you’re lost…

    You said go slow –
    I fall behind
    The second hand unwinds –

    If you’re lost…
    …Time after time
    Time after time
    Time after time
    Time after time

    “Time After Time” – Cyndi Lauper


    I was going to post the lyrics to The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside,” until I read them and realized that they’re not exactly right for the moment.  For such a catchy song, the words sure are depressing.  Yes, yes, I know.  “Pot, I’d like you to meet kettle…”


    Oy, vey.  I’m out of candles, this report is coming together slower than I had anticipated, and I’ve got class in 4 hours.  But there’s a giant, themed party at Tavers tonight to look forward to, so I’m going to shelve the Sonites and Vodites for now and head to bed for a short nap. I hope this doesn’t turn into one of my trademark 8 hour deals.

    For today is already here; and it is a new day, after all.

    Color In Between the Lines

    February 4, 2008

    If I should stay,
    I would only be in your way.
    So I’ll go, but I know
    I’ll think of you ev’ry step of the way.

    And I will always love you.
    I will always love you.
    You, my darling you. Hmm.

    Bittersweet memories
    that is all I’m taking with me.
    So, goodbye. Please, don’t cry.
    We both know I’m not what you, you need.

    And I will always love you.
    I will always love you.

    (Instrumental solo)

    I hope life treats you kind
    And I hope you have all you’ve dreamed of.
    And I wish to you, joy and happiness.
    But above all this, I wish you love.

    And I will always love you.
    I will always love you.
    I will always love you.
    I will always love you.
    I will always love you.
    I, I will always love you.

    You, darling, I love you.
    Ooh, I’ll always, I’ll always love you.

    Whitney Houston – “I Will Always Love You”

    Yeah, it’s cheesy, but hey; it brings back faint glimmers of a wonderful evening, and I’ll take every little bit I can get my hands on.


    0, 17, 28, 32, redline <shift>; 36, 42, 61, redline <shift>; 67, 76, 82 redline <shift>, one eye on the broken yellow lines, and the other on the lookout for boars. Takeaways: My transmission is still crying. Long, deserted forest roads are great. Diesel motors are fun. They’re even more fun when you’ve got a leased car.

    The P1s of Villecerf hosted the “Integration Party” at their lovely stone-walled compound on Saturday night. I have to say, it was pretty fun. Well done, guys. Thanks for giving me a great excuse to procrastinate on everything that I was supposed to do this weekend. The good times are soon to stop, though, as I feel this was the calm before the storm.

    Our P3 schedules are starting to pick up, with a torrent of deliverables coming due in the next week and change. Those taking Market Driving Strategies (great class, great professor; you know you’re in for a ride when a mechanical engineer is teaching one of the best marketing courses at INSEAD) have their giant company report due on Friday. Those (un)fortunate enough to be taking the very, very, very academic Corporate Entrepreneurship (as much as I’m on the fence about this one, it’s also a great class, even though it’s taught by a LBS strategy wonk with a penchant for black pants of the tight and tighter variety) have a paper due in a few hours, which I should probably get around to writing sometime.

    What with International Political Analysis presentations, the resuming of Macroeconomics lectures after a week-long hiatus, and the whole pool of “oh, you mean there’s more to life than INSEAD” thoughts doing a leisurely breaststroke through my head, I’m not sure when I’ll find time to breathe until P3 is over.

    A good friend who I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing in a handful of years asked me tonight, “DTLF, what do you want out of this? Really. Rationally. Think about it. Think about how you’re going to get it, and if it’s even possible. Will it make you happy? Then think about how much you’re willing to give up in order to get it.”

    It was sound advice, albeit a bit trite. So, what if I know what I want, know it’ll bring a little (ok, maybe more than a little) zest to this blogger’s existence, and am willing to lay it all on the line to get it, but haven’t the foggiest about the rest? Thinking it through, rationally, makes perfect sense, but rationality and reason are the bane of passion and life; so I’ll play the hand, short-stacked, against the odds, and pray for Lady Luck to smile on me, just this once.

    Hit it, dealer.

    P3 1/2

    January 23, 2008

    There’s half of P3 left. See, the glass can be half full. Actually, wait…

    So we’ve got a “Macroeconomics in the Global Economy” quiz in a few hours. Our professor is a Frenchman with a US PhD and an accent that people generally find hard to place. It’s kind of a mix between Sylvester, Elmer Fudd, and Pepé Le Pew, if that makes any sense.

    No? I didn’t think so either. His accent, combined with his manic level of energy and engaging personality make MGE one of the more interesting core courses (read: one in which there aren’t more than 3 sleepers at any one time), though the class’ placement in P3 makes it a tough sell, as there are so many other things going on, like the 3.14159 million electives with which we all loaded up . Was that one giant run-on, or just my serial comma fetish manifesting itself?

    Electives are everything and nothing like I thought they’d be. The results of a very scientific poll that I conducted (ex. Q1: How bad does XYZ class/prof/workload suck?) are in, and half of all students in any one elective hate their class/prof/workload, while the balance won’t stop raving about how good life is. After all, electives are what we came here to for, right? I’m pretty content with my line-up, and can’t say it wasn’t what I expected. I’ve generally shied away from the oversubscribed (and over-hyped, in my opinion) courses and tailored my P3 towards subjects in which I have a real interest in A) learning about, B) working with/in, C) A&B.

    But like all things INSEAD, there isn’t enough time to take everything I want to, so I’ve got to be picky and choosy about how I stack my P4 and P5 schedules so as to focus on classes/activities/people that I consider an important part of my INSEAD experience. I’ve already seen and experienced the results of what happens when you neglect any one of the three, and trust me, it’s not-so-nice.

    Way to end on a high note, huh? Off to read about how an increase in government spending in a small, open economy affects the real exchange rate of the local currency.