Wednesday, February 10, 2010

In honor of Duke/Keralina

I'm pretty excited about this.

Evil MBAs commit to being slightly less evil...

Leave it to HBS to come up with the MBA Oath. Money quote (emphasis added):

"One of Jeff Skilling's classmates has recalled a comment the ex-CEO of Enron made during a class about a dangerous consumer product: "I'd keep making and selling [it]. My job as a business man is to...maximize return to the shareholders. It's the government's job to step in if a product is dangerous."

As a student today at Harvard's business school, I hear echoes of those comments from my classmates."

Yikes. The author goes on:

"In their reverence for the individual, business schools are remarkably bad at creating a sense of common purpose beyond an ambition to make money. Without a higher calling, bad actors flourish and those who want to speak out against them have little basis on which to challenge them."

With much love to my HBS chums, this is not the way things are at all top business schools. And honestly, I can't imagine that (outside of a small, perhaps vocal element) that this isn't what it's really like at HBS it?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Top 10 Live Shows, 2000-2009: part the second

This is the second in a three part review of my favorite 10 shows of the decade that was. I've figured out the last show to include, but I'll save that for another post so I don't drown everybody with words.

5/05 Shins in OKC—A very nice show (Shins sound live exactly like they do on record) that was nicer because I was there enjoying it with Lauren. We hadn’t been dating that long at that point, and we drove up with our friends Bill and Rick. We all made it back to Ft Sill the next day to attend my Hail and Farewell from the Army. I was allowed a speech, and as many know I enjoy (a bit too much) any chance to be on the microphone. My speech that day concluded with: “Peace in the middle east, no blood for oil, I’m out!” and made a lot of people mad. It also caused one of my fellow officers, a 6 foot 5, 280 lbs black guy, to tell me that I was “one funky Caucasian”. Good times. Lauren and I wrapped up the weekend with a going away party at Rick’s place. Great weekend, and the Shins were a big part of it.

08/04 Wrens/Magnolia Electric Co in Denton—drove down by myself from Fort Sill to Denton, a city famous for death metal bands and being north of Dallas. I didn’t know anyone so I chatted with either band before the show. Indie shows are cool like that (especially back in 01-05 before indie blew up). Both performances were strong, and it was great to see two of my faves on the same stage. After several beers at the show I slept in my car until the next morning and then drove the 4 hours home.

6/06 Radiohead in Berkeley—The perfect culmination to years of Radiohead hero worship. Memorable because of the beautiful Berkeley summer night, and time spent with friends David Hyman, the Rotblats, and Nate Anthony. If I never see Radiohead again it would be a shame, but I am very cool with this night being my lasting memory of the Radiohead experience.

4/05 Wilco in OKC (2)—Bill Rausch and a sportsjacket. I don’t think I can legally say anything else about this show besides that. (Also, go see Wilco live. It’s expensive to do, nowadays, but it’s worth it.)

Friday, January 8, 2010

Top 10 Live Shows, 2000-2009: part the first

In no order whatsoever, here is the first half of my live music retrospective on the decade that was. Part 2 will run later in the week. These aren’t necessarily the 10 best shows I saw, but for one reason or another they were the 10 most memorable.

(Editors Note—part 2 currently only has 4 shows. If you attended a really memorable show with me in the last 10 years that didn’t make it in this post, please send me some inspiration!!!)

5/03 Built to Spill in LA—I’ve seen these guys more than any other band, and one show had to go on the list. This was easily the best show I’ve seen them play. They closed with a 15 minute version of Cortez the Killer during which Jim Roth did things with his guitar the likes of which I’ve never seen before or since. Epic. I have a poster of this show on the wall of my apartment.

4/06 Daft Punk at Coachella—I was there with several great friends Berkeley friends, to include the Kaplans and Anna Utgoff. DP wasn’t why I went to this festival, but it’s the one thing I’ll never forget about Coachella. This was the first show DP did with their giant laser pyramid (top left). It was as cool as everyone says it was.

12/05 Wrens in SF—I love the Wrens, and they’re always great live. I had seen them maybe 6 months earlier at the Pitchfork Intonation Music Festival in Chicago. At that show, for one song, they brought fans up on stage to play percussion with the band. When that song came up at this show I left my friends (Dan and Kelly) and pushed to the very front. I had a Bruce Springsteen/Courtney Cox moment with a member of the band, and he pulled me on stage with several fellow fans. When the singing came in I did what I do at shows—sang along. The band member, seeing I knew the words and wasn’t a completely awful singer pulled me into the mic so I could sing along with the band. We did it up, back-to-back 80s hair metal style, for the rest of the song. It was probably the coolest moment I’ve ever had at a concert, hands down.

3/06 Magnolia Electric Co/Okkervil River in Austin—At SXSW I won an MBA music case competition with Any, April Chris and Sung Hu. We had no passes (the guys at McCombs let us down) but a couple of us managed to hop the fence at this outdoor set and enjoy two really nice performances.

9/06 Silver Jews in SF—This was a good but unspectactular show on September 10th 2006. I went by myself and had made plans to try to meet up with David H, but he got held up doing other stuff. The show was memorable because I got my letter in the mail from Uncle Sam the next day calling me back to the Army. I saw a few other good shows before I cut myself off from music in 2007 to go overseas (Islands and Phoenix in SF come immediately to mind) but music wasn’t quite the same for me after this show, not for a long while at least.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

A Decade of Music, In Context...

Once upon a time I loved making music lists. Really, really loved it. The problem was that my list skills never quite caught up with my enthusiasm for making them. For example: I spent an entire summer in 2003 trying to come up with a mix CD worth of songs that featured hand clapping. Sounds simple enough, right? But the project never really came together.

In my mind, the songs had to be good, satisfactorily indie and/or ironic, and non-obvious enough that I would feel good (and snobby) about attaching my name to the list (so no “Theme from Friends”, etc). The whole thing started when I was driving around Alaska listening to “Nothing’severgonnastandinmywayagain” by Wilco, a song I loved (still do) so much that I would take my hands off of the wheel to clap along with the chorus. Same deal for “Alone Down There” by Modest Mouse and Ted Leo's “Timorous Me”.

But those three songs ended up as the list. When I couldn’t think of any other songs that really got me excited I brought Megan and her brother Jeff into the conversation, and they had great suggestions that for whatever reason still didn’t quite make me happy. The final analysis: good idea, poor execution.

In business school and in Seattle (when I was with Amazon) I made a lot of live music lists in an effort to get people to come to shows with me. It was fun, but didn't work that well either (I went to a lot of shows solo).

Putting all that aside, I want to start 2010 with a few music lists for old time's sake. In a couple of days I'll lay out my favorite live music experience of the last 10 years, but tonight I'm going to rank where music fits in with all the other crap going in Exnicios-land circa 2000-2009. We'll call my parents emeritus to this list and not in the official running. Without further ado:

1. Lauren (my beautiful wife)

2. Graduating Duke (and all that went along with it)

3a. Going to war (even if I wasn't getting shot at)

3b. Being in the Army generally (I'm better at push ups and shooting things than I would have been)

5. Graduating from Berkeley (and all that went along with it)

6. Calhoun and Bailey (my dog and cat)

7. Music (only top's got to feel a little disappointed)

8. All of my other friends and family not captured by Duke, Army, Berkeley, etc.

9. The Washington Redskins (0-1 in the new decade!)

10. All the books I read

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Goodbye 2009, Hello 2010.

It has been more than a year since my last post. That means it’s been more than a year since I got home and picked up again with my life with Lauren. In the last 14 months (Nov 2008 until now) we got a dog, had a re-wedding and went to New Zealand. I started working as a consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton in March, but not until after I got to say that I was unemployed during the great economic meltdown. All told Lauren and I celebrated 7 other weddings with family and friends (very fun) and had to say goodbye to one of the best guys either of us had ever met (very, very sad).

Lauren and I live in Old Town Alexandria, about 5 or 6 miles outside of DC proper. We both work in the District and we’ve settled into a really nice routine.

I miss blogging. A lot. I think that I’m not awful at this, and I wish I had been better about writing in 2009. But for some reason it’s been hard for me to look at Army 2.0 for the last year. I don’t know why. In general I’ve had trouble engaging technology. Technology was my entire focus for 2 years at Haas, and I stayed pretty well connected to that world while I was in Afghanistan of all places. Home in DC, I feel more detached from the West Coast than I ever did in the war zone. Weird, I know.

Life is great all the same. Lauren and I are really happy. And we’re going to figure the Coast thing soon (by which I mean before Lauren divorces me for indecision).

So in conjunction with that decision, here is my 2010 to-do list:

1) Re-engage technology—spend less time reading about NBA teams I don’t care about and more time reading tech blogs

2) Blog a couple of times a week—I appreciate that anything I say now is less interesting than anything I said while on the forward edge of freedom, but still. Writing is fun.

3) For the first time, really embrace Facebook and Twitter—read above…poor, innocent social networking sites have suffered for the same reason my blog has.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Back in Virginia

I am safely home with my family in Northern Virginia. As far as I know I have no further obligation to the Army for the next 6 months, and after that I'll be eligible to resign my commission. Sultan Jeff is home as well, but Chris is still over in Afghanistan. He was the last of my group to arrive, and he'll be the last to come home.

Thank you for all of your thoughts, prayers, and well wishes (and clicks and eyeballs and links) over the last 16 months.

The blog is not going to go away. We still have VPs to settle on, and the IRR story is something that will continue to develop as we see what direction the wars take under a new president.

Thanks again, and I'll talk to everyone soon.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

IRR Statistics...sorta

The other day I received an article on the Army's utilization of the IRR, generously forwarded by Vice Presidential Candidate Sultan Jeff.

The article is interesting, and it marks the first time--literally--that I have ever seen an Army official discuss statistics regarding how many people have been drafted out of the IRR.

The problem, then? COL Good claims that only 4% of IRR call-ups have failed to report. This number is so wildly different than all the anecdotal evidence would suggest--everyone seems to agree that there is about a 50% report rate--that it calls into question the rest of the information presented in the article.

Furthermore, if the Army were serious about "debunking myths about the IRR", they should release far more descriptive statistics than the ones listed in this article. Namely, break things down by officer and enlisted, by different military occupational specialties (infantry, artillery, etc). Break the numbers down by year, and let us know the stats on delay and exemption requests.

Until the Army does that, the IRR process will continue to be looked at with fear and loathing by the men and women who make up its ranks.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Maverick Choices You Can Believe In: Checking In

Welcome back, everyone.

I wanted to check in and let you all know that I don't have internet in my room anymore. As such, I have to use the public computer lab, and that might mean less frequent updates in the Army 2.0s continuing series: Vice Presidential Race 2008--There's Still Time.

Though we don't have any new candidates tonight, the race to replace the current running mates remains as important as ever. With Troopergate continuing to blow up in Sarah Palin's face, and with Joe Biden still being from Delaware, both major parties stand to gain from an eleventh hour switcheroo.

So stay tuned, and keep your eyes open for our next installment--the Judge Advocates.

Until then!

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Maverick Choices You Can Believe In: The Adorable Ones

Greetings, loyal followers of the 2.0, and welcome to the 4th installment of our continuing series: Vice Presidential Race 2008--There's Still Time.

When last we left you, the 2.0 had broken down 4 potential replacement-running mates ready and willing to step in for Biden and/or Palin.

After starting our list with 4 straight male candidates, it's time to reveal the first of our female potentials. And if you thought Sultan Jeff or Patrick had a compelling case to be made, wait until you see what the Adorable Ones have to offer.

First up is everyone's favorite sign wielding newborn, baby Abigail. Now, we feel compelled to mention that the adorable infant is constitutionally banned from the office of Vice President for another 34 years and 8 months. Putting that aside, though, one must admit that baby Abigail combines all of the adorableness of the Palin family with the same basic level of readiness in a single, more efficiently sized package.

Both candidates are said to covet the little baby’s unquestioned cuteness and quickly developing gross motor skill. Should McCain tap Abigail it would be mark the first time a national ticket ran two candidates with less-than-total bladder control.

Pro: Has no experience, has never been to Washington, has never said anything incriminating or embarrassing (or at all), has never met or associated with any politically controversial figures, isn’t old, isn’t a fake-Muslim, isn’t from Delaware.

Con: Easily distracted by shiny colors, pleasant noises.

Pet Issue: Legislation ensuring that she isn’t forced to receive sex education for at least another 21 years.

Favorite Parent: The nicer smelling one with the long hair and milk

As cute as little Abigail is, there is one potential running mate that scores as high (or higher) on all the relevant adorability indexes--our very own guest blogger, Bailey the cat. The 10 pound feline is a delightful mix of orange fur and pink paws, and she sports highly valued working class roots from her youthful days on the mean streets of Saint Louis. Bailey would also mark the first vice president in recent memory able to hide from tiresome, visiting heads of state by jumping on top of a bookshelf and laying perfectly motionless for hours on end.

Republican strategists believe that a blogging cat might be just the solution the GOP has been looking for to assuage voter fears regarding McCain’s lack of tech-savvy. The Obama campaign thinks that this already historic election could be made even more important by pairing the first ever black candidate for national office with the first ever orange one.

Pro: Daily routine of sleeping, eating, bird watching is basically equivalent to a typical day-in-the-life of a sitting Vice President.

Con: Tendency to knock pencils, important documents off the president's desk creates tension between adorable orange cat, president.

Pet Issue: Mandatory sentencing for mommies who don’t feed kitties prior to 7 AM each morning.

Favorite Beatles Album: Rubber Soul

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Maverick Choices You Can Believe In: The Comment Leavers

Hello again, loyal 2.0 readers, and welcome to our next installment in the Army 2.0s continuing series: Vice Presidential Race 2008--There's Still Time. While last time we looked at a couple of Dark Horse candidates--guest bloggers Sultan Jeff and Laser Rocket Arm--today it's time we expand our search to include two of the Army 2.0s most frequent comment leavers--Patrick and KyleC.

Strong candidates both, I think that this race just got a little more interesting (as if that was even possible). With all of that said, let's get to the candidates!

Patrick—no fancy nicknames here, he’s just Patrick—is a loving husband and father. He also might be an honest-to-God scientist pretty soon, but who are we kidding—we’ve been hearing that rumor since he started grad school like 10 years ago.

McCain hopes that by tapping a young, up-and-coming biologist like Patrick—who isn’t really that interested in policy or politics—the Vice President could eschew all typical VP duties to devote the majority of his attention to finding a cure for being really, really old.

Obama, while also intrigued by the valuable insight a biologist-as-VP could bring to many of the great ethical and scientific issues of our day, is mostly interested in Patrick for his body.

Pro: Torture survivor had to wait an entire summer to find out if Jack Bauer would escape from China after Season 5 of 24—brutal!

Con: Seriously, if the candidates don’t leave him alone to finish grad school this fall it’s probably never gonna happen…

Pet Issue: Mandatory display of the 10 Commandments in University biology labs

Favorite Vowel: U…but sometimes Y

KyleC, a cat owning San Franciscan family man, is quite possibly the 2.0s most reliable comment leaver. McCain might look to tab Kyle with hopes of increasing his share of the Bay Area vote from infinitesimal to barely-above-zero—a huge moral victory that could help a McCain/KyleC ticket in other key states.

Obama, who gave up a career with a huge Wall Street firm after Law School to pursue political activism, is said to be attracted to the fact that Kyle gave up a career with a huge Wall Street firm after Business School to pursue a career in software-as-a-service…which is like political activism, but with more small-and-medium enterprises and fewer members of the Weather Underground.

Pro: On the McCain ticket, the former child star could benefit from the “Republican Actors from California” bump.

: Billboard modeling work generally considered less Presidential than playing Notre Dame football star, poorly-dubbed Greek hero let loose in New York City.

Pet Issue: California Independence Party’s proposed vote for Northern California secession from Southern California.

Favorite Type of Plane From Which to Shoot a Wolf: Cessna 172

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Army 10 Miler--Bagram Airfield Shadow Run

This morning I ran the Army 10 Miler here at Bagram Airfield. While the flagship race is held each October in VA/DC, the Army holds satellite or "shadow" runs around the world to coincide with the main event.

At the start of this deployment my hope was to be home to run this race in DC in front of my wife and family, but alas, twas not to be...

Still, I've been training for this run for the last 6 or 8 weeks, and I'm very pleased with how the race turned out. The particulars are as follows:

Time: 1:15:34
Avg / Mile: 7:33
Elevation: ~5000 feet
Place: 36th (out of ~500 here at Bagram)

This is me (on the left) with Patrick, and we ran the first 6 miles of the race together. We helped each other stay loose and find our pace, and I probably would have run 2 or 3 minutes slower without a strong partner to help push me through.

The event was very well put together by Task Force Warrior, the unit that took over the mission that I was working on for my first 7 months in country. Above you see the band that played at the start/finish line. They drew liberally from the Rocky soundtrack, and really, who doesn't run faster when they've just finished listening to Gonna Fly Now?

This is my training partner Nigel, an officer from New Zealand who I worked with for several months. Nigel is the guy that forced me out of bed early in the morning to go on long training runs--thanks a lot, Nigel. (No really, thanks a lot!)

You can also see in this shot what a beautiful morning it was here in Central Asia. It still gets pretty hot during the day, but the mornings lately have been wonderful.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Maverick Choices You Can Believe In: The Dark Horses

If you can feel the excitement in the air, it's probably because it's time to reveal the first set of potential VP candidates in the Army 2.0s continuing series: Vice Presidential Race 2008--There's Still Time. As we discussed yesterday, the Army 2.0 will spend the next several days weighing the relative merits of a number of potential VP choices either party can use to replace their current dead weight and lift their presidential candidate to a sure-fire victory in November!

Now, for those of you expecting to see nothing but politicians and public figures on this list, you're in for a disappointment. In case the title of this series didn't tip you off, the 2.0 is a change-loving maverick with no interest in cow-towing to the inside-the-beltway elites. We're not much interested in the outside-the-beltway anti-elites, either. In fact, no one you'll see on our list has legislative OR executive experience--because really, look at all the good that crap has done for Biden and Palin.

Enough of my time wasting! Without further ado, the Army 2.0 proudly presents the Dark Horse Candidates:

Here at the 2.0, Sultan Jeff is a part time contributor and a full time good guy. A former Division I basketball player, Jeff could team up with President Obama to form the second greatest backcourt pairing in Presidential history (slightly behind the often overlooked Nixon/Agnew combo). On the other hand, a McCain/McFarland ticket would lead to so many more hilariously clever Mc-fill-in-the-blank jokes that voters couldn’t help but put the pair in the Mc-White House--see how easy but completely annoying that is? McAwesome!

Pro: Up and coming family man boasts beautiful wife, loyal dog.

Con: Nation uncomfortable with Jeff's familiarity with Islam, Julie Andrews' show tunes.

Pet Issue: Drilling for oil in the protected Cinci-tucky region at conjunction of Kentucky, Ohio.

Favorite Skittles Flavor: Grape

Our second Dark Horse Candidate is Mr. Laser Rocket Arm himself, guest-blogger Chris. Chris is an MBA with an ear for foreign policy, and he’s currently reading Dr. Kissinger’s magnum opus: Diplomacy. I think most pundits will agree that both candidates could use a guy like Chris shoring up their foreign policy team. And the next time McCain and Obama debate what Kissinger did or didn’t say about—I dunno, the spread of the neo-global islamo-fasciast jihad—wouldn’t they like to have a guy like Chris on their side?

Pro: Passing resemblance to current Vice President. Like Cheney, derives powers from his male pattern baldness.

Con: Only written two guest posts—Cheney would have found a way to secretly take over the blog by now.

Pet Issue: Public funding to construct new football stadium in Indianapolis, giant Peyton Manning Theme Park in Chris’s parent’s backyard.

Favorite member of N’Sync: Chris Kirkpatrick

That's it for this installment of Vice Presidential Race 2008--There's Still Time. Check back tomorrow when we bring you the second round of exciting party-irrespective VEEP choices--the Comment Leavers.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Vice Presidential Race 2008--There's Still Time

Hey everyone.

I don't know if you have paid much attention to the VP candidates this time around, but if you're like me you are less than thrilled with what the Dems and the GOP have offered up for the electorate's approval.

What's my beef, you ask? Unfortunately, as an Army officer on active duty I'm not allowed to share my opinion of the common criticisms you hear about Biden and Palin...but let's jsut that I'm not overly impressed with either candidate--and I'm guessing many of my loyal readers feel the same way.

All of this leads me to wonder--does it really have to be that way? Do we really have to settle for less than the very best, year in year out, election after election?

Call me naive, but I think that we can expect more from our political system. And because I'm generous, I'm gonna do both parties a solid.

No, I'm not going to endorse anyone--the legality of doing that is questionable, even if the ability of the IRR-blogging crowd to tip this thing one way or another is not. And no, my back-of-the-napkin plan for saving the banking system still isn't ready for me to share with the world, much less the 2.0, so hold tight on that one as well.

Instead of all of that, the Army 2.0 is going to provide a still more valuable service to the presidential candidates, and to you, the American people. I'm going to take a few days away from my normal tales of sports and Russian literature to provide both Senator Obama and Senator McCain with a list of perfectly viable replacement VP candidates that--irrespective of party--are almost sure to guarantee victory for their running mate this Fall.

I appreciate that this might set the election cycle back weeks, and it's really not that fair to anyone who cast an early ballot without the benefit of knowing any potential running mate changes. But all the responsibility is to give all the involved parties the information they need to make the most informed, enlightened decision possible.

Check back later today for the first round of candidates: The Dark Horses

Update 1: The Dark Horses
Update 2: The Comment Leavers
Update 3: The Adorable Ones