Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Please Do Not Use Permanent Markers On The Whiteboards

January 29, 2008

You say that we’ve got nothing in common
No common ground to start from
And we’re falling apart
You’ll say the world has come between us
Our lives have come between us
But I know you just don’t care

And I said what about “Breakfast at Tiffany’s?”
She said, “I think I remember the film,
And as I recall, I think, we both kinda liked it.”
And I said, “Well, that’s the one thing we’ve got.”

I see you – the only one who knew me
And now your eyes see through me
I guess I was wrong
So what now? It’s plain to see we’re over,
And I hate when things are over –
When so much is left undone


You say that we’ve got nothing in common
No common ground to start from
And we’re falling apart
You’ll say the world has come between us
Our lives have come between us
But I know you just don’t care


“Breakfast At Tiffany’s” – Deep Blue Something


02:04 (GMT+01:00) Brussels, Copenhagen, Madrid, Paris

46 hours to make a potentially life-altering decision. The blue smoke of burning leaves over a mist shrouded Seine make for some stunning sunrises. Guess I’ll see another one soon, though it may be one of my last in this country.

Mull, mull, mull. Someone needs to grate some cinnamon on my head, stuff me full of cloves and simmer for 20 minutes. I’m sure I’d make a tasty mulled wine.

On second thought, a little bit of sugar is probably in order, to cut the bitterness.

It’s the bottom of the 9th, the score is tied, it’s time for the big one.
You up for this one, Maverick?
Just a walk in the park Kazansky.


Vinieron, Fueron

October 24, 2007

“A monopolist (INSEAD campus bar) faces the following demand curve (perfectly inelastic) for beer at 12:00 noon on the day of the last exam:


Please calculate the profit maximizing and revenue maximizing quantities.”

Yes, that’s right; the slope is positive. If you’re a P1 and actually caught that, your 50K Euro have been well spent.

By the look of euphoric, rapturous, orgasmic joy on students’ faces at noon today, you’d think that England won the World Cup or something. INSEAD should really schedule  the Open Days for new and potential admits on the last day of P1 every year. They’d have no trouble convincing the “I’ve got to choose between LBS and INSEAD” crowd to plunk down their deposit. Immediately. In cash.

The bar area was so full that it wasn’t possible to walk through to get to the cafeteria. I ended up swinging a wide arc around the smokers’ patio and going through a side door in order to get lunch. On a regular day, you might see a few small groups sitting around, chatting over the thimble-sized drafts the bar has on offer. This afternoon, I don’t think I saw anyone with anything smaller than the cannonball-sized goblets that they keep on hand for occasions like this. I swear, these things are the size of a small child’s head.

So yeah, for you “academically oriented” folks out there who’ve heard rumors about INSEAD being a cake walk, rest assured; it’s not. The exams are long, tedious, spleen-grinding affairs that are as much a test of your grasp on the material as a test of your stamina. I’m certain that part of the reason so much beer was consumed today was not because people were thirsty or wanted to drown their sorrows, but rather because we’d had every drop of life sucked out of us over the past 3 days and needed something to fill the void.

But let’s not talk about tests. There’s a whopping 4-day break (inclusive of a 2-day weekend) ahead of us where we have no work….No, wait, we do! Yay! So those of you who are going to Barcelona, Morocco, Rome, Pakistan and various bits of France, don’t forget to bring your case reading that’s due on Monday!

Bon voyage.

– 3 STDEV, u=2.5

October 4, 2007

I’m doing horribly in school and quite probably toeing the FAIL line!

This should be a bad thing, and would cause undue concern under most circumstances, but since I’ve slowly been telling myself I’m not here to get on the Dean’s List, it isn’t and doesn’t.

Well, the lack of concern in and of itself gives me pause for, uh, concern, but I’m weaning myself off of the need to be in the top percentile and focusing on what I’m here to focus on, which is, err, hmm. What was it again?

The weather. Yes, that was it. The weather. We had a few days of sun, but it’s back to the gloom-and-doom of Fonty Forest. So much for the skirts and sandals. It’s back to not-so-flattering bundles of heavy grey stuff that makes everyone look like depressed sheep.

And here’s an excellent segue into a totally unrelated subject that might interest the fresh meat of the D08 class:

Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving to Fontainebleau, In No Particular Order

  • If you haven’t lived in France recently, take whatever you’ve budgeted for the year, multiply it by 1.5 and add a few extra grand for silly stuff, like eating
  • Not having a car is totally viable and will save you a few grand, if you A) Live 2 minutes from school, B) Do not want a social life, C) Like to beg for rides to the market so you can, like, eat and stuff
  • Gasoline is ridiculously expensive
    • Those who bought/leased diesel cars were the smart ones after all, as there’s a 0.15-0.25 Euro differential between a litre of petrol and a litre of gazole (diesel)
  • Food is ridiculously expensive
    • A meal of XYZ mystery meat and fries, or a small-ish sized pizza at a restaurant in town will damage you for 11+ Euro
    • A weekly trip to the local supermarket to stock up on staples will somehow shaft you for something in the 30 Euro range
      • I bought 3  4  EDIT(Apparently, B-school have teached me how too ad) oranges the other day for 1.60 Euro. Not 3 kg. Not 3 bushels. 3 as in 1+2.
    • A sandwich at the bar on campus goes for 3.61 Euro
  • Beer is ridiculously expensive
    • A pint of Heineken at a ratty bar in town will hit you for a minimum of 6 Euro
  • Office supplies are ridiculously expensive
    • A standard ringed binder at the local supermarket will run you 3+ Euro
    • 5 pack of black Papermate pens set me back 5+ Euro
    • It is impossible to fine horizontal-lined notebooks or notebook paper; everything in France is gridded, and, you guessed it: expensive
  • Not speaking French doesn’t work here, at all

To be continued…

A bientot.


August 15, 2007

200+ dead from coordinated IED explosions in Iraq, infrastructure collapse in China, catastrophic flooding in North Korea, alleged terrorist attack in Russia, 35 hour workweeks in France: Situational Normal, All Fucked Up.

Smile! : )

Napolean’s home base looms large, and I’m not too keen on dealing with it. I don’t feel up for the requisite inaugural cigarette on the foreign porch. I don’t feel up for the not-so-stellar summer weather in Fontainebleau (thanks, I don’t feel up for the inherent inefficiencies of the French system. I don’t feel up for school and dealing with Alpha-Squared people.

Life is hurtling forward at Warp Five, and I want it to slow the hell down. I reach for the emergency brake, and all I find is a stale baguette in its place.


He who is certain he knows the ending of things when he is only beginning them is either extremely wise or extremely foolish; no matter which is true, he is certainly an unhappy man, for he has put a knife in the heart of wonder.


-Tad Williams


El Camino

August 9, 2007

The Road goes ever on and on
Out from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
Let others follow it who can!
Let them a journey new begin…

-J.R.R. Tolkien

Catch you on the flip side.


July 24, 2007

I love American tourists. They’re so cute. I want to take one home in one of those shoulder-slung LV dog carrier that American females seem so fond of. I saw two while I was traveling. One would’ve been bad enough, but two? Break out the nuclear football and end it now, please.

Overheard while on vacation:

American girl to another American girl: “Getting ripped off is, like, a part of traveling, y’know? It’s like being a local!”

American girl to another American girl: “Ew, this isn’t pizza! There’s onion under the cheese!”

American guy to another American guy: “Dude, <points at sign stating ‘Massages: $25 / h’> do you think that’s a happy-ending massage?”

American girl to another American girl: “Like, I never say I’m American when I go places. I always tell people I’m Canadian. People like Canadians better!”

This one always bugs me. Sure, the current Administration may not be the best, but when did misinformation and obfuscation trump patriotism? What’s next, Chinese claiming Japanese heritage? Armenians pretending to be Turkish? Come on people, grow some backbone and stand up for yourselves and your homelands. When Americans are actively pretending to be maple syrup drinking, tree-hugging, French babbling Canadians, God of Groundhogs help us all.

American girl to another American girl: “Where was the bomb on the bus again?”

This one went down on one of those low-slung, bus-like airport people movers which was shuttling a planeload of passengers from our aircraft to the immigration building. Apparently, they were talking about the similarity of the bus to the one in the movie “Speed,” but this comment was stupid enough that I had to comment and tell her that it wasn’t very funny.

American guy/bar owner to Norwegian couple/patrons: “I’m from Santa Monica, California so it’s safe to say that I KNOW beaches and I KNOW surfing!”

The speaker was about 5’8″ and 250 pounds. Of fat. The only time he ever saw a beach in LA was when he went down to the pier to stuff his face with funnel cake. The Norwegians on the other hand, were tall, tan, fit and looked like they were born on the beach. Weird. Must be all that snow.

It felt wrong to be off the grid for so long, but that was probably my last opportunity to unplug for, uh, well, forever. Back to the intravenous NV drip and constantly refreshing Gmail.

T-Minus less than a month.Pura Vida


July 13, 2007

I saw Hot Fuzz the other night.  Funny, funny movie.  A bit slow to start, but a real over-the-top action flick, once it got swinging.

Anyhow, I’m off for an unspecified period of time, to an unnamed country, for a vacation I don’t think I really need or want.

Hasta luego.

Los Otros

June 27, 2007

Anxiety is driving my days. Productivity seems to have left the building, assuming it was ever inside to begin with. I don’t think it’s so much stress, per se, so much as a desire just to jump in to the thick of things and get going. I’m a procrastinator at heart, but when there’s an imminent, colossal life-altering change up ahead, I’d rather take it on sooner than later.

I put together a paper checklist when this whole INSEAD thing started back in March, adding to it every time another issue would pop in to my head, which usually happened after my daily perusing of NetVestibule. The list hadn’t seen the light of day for a while, so I figured I’d dust it off this morning, just to see how far I’ve come in the last month-and-a-half or so since I last looked at it. The big “must do to get in-country” bits are done, for the most part. The “must do so I can feel good about leaving” bits are far from it.

Selective memory + procrastination is an awesome combination that should be granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status in order to ensure the opportunity for future generations to experience it in its full, unadulterated glory.

So who wants to rip all my CDs to iTunes and transfer ’em all to my portable hard drive?


June 26, 2007

This weekend was interesting. Tasked with taking the teenage son of a family friend around town in order to spare him the misery of having to hang out with old folks catching up on times he’s only read of in history books, I hadn’t the foggiest idea of how to burn an entire day’s worth of time. How on earth do I keep a 16 year old boy entertained, I thought? Quiet, you. He can’t drink, can’t gamble, can’t get in to clubs, and is probably just discovering that the opposite sex doesn’t have cooties. This sounds like a job for Captain Google Maps!

So I spent Saturday playing tourist in my own city. If you’ve never done this, give it a try. It’s neat. You get to see and do all sorts of things regularly taken for granted. I realized I’d never actually eaten at that famous greasy spoon where the line for a table stretches around the block at any time of day during any day of the week, or strolled down the pretentious shopping boulevard lined with luxury boutiques while working on a horribly overpriced sugar cone full of delicious rich creamy cherry-flavored gelato, or seen those famous landmarks so up close and personal that it required a drive up back roads and dirt trails.

Sunday found me in the scorching sun with a friend who I probably won’t see for years, as we’re both off to graduate school in very different parts of the world. What better way to spend the day than mixing bad local lager, Jägermeister and .223 rounds? Two days later, my right shoulder still feels like someone took a meat tenderizer to it.  For 17 hours.

Requisite sunset shot below.  Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?

Hodge Sunset

Los Grandes

June 21, 2007
  • Convince the French Government to issue me a long-term student visa

This process actually ended up being fairly painless. I prepared per all the advice posted on NV, and it was a little like using a tactical nuke to take out a rabbit den.

  • Open a French bank account

I’ve received 3 important looking letters and piles of documents from my bank of choice over the past week. Too bad I can’t read French. They’re probably not that important. What does this mean, anyway?


Nous vous volons tout votre argent. Avoir un beau jour.

-Banque Locale Amicale

  • Lease French car

Yeah, I jumped on the car bandwagon. I’ll be driving one of the red-license plated, generic colored Frenchmobiles puttering around Fonty and its environs later this year.

The big items have all been squared away. All I’ve really got left on my list is packing, and last minute binge shopping for stuff I “need.” Unfortunately, these are not complimentary activities, though I found out that my baggage limit is 2x 32 kg. Nice. One can never have too many coats. Or shoes. Or finance books.

There’s an “Online Chat” scheduled tomorrow, with another bureaucratic entity within INSEAD. Stay tuned for my transcript synopsis.