Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Last Excel Modeling Class Q12, 13

Excel Modeling

Last night was the last class ... I'm so glad that class is over. I am counting my blessings that I didn't have Snir for statistics. I asked a few questions about the final case last night. I don't think I set it up correctly the first time. I got some ideas while I was sitting there enduring his last lecture. Thankfully I have until Friday to finish it.


Tonight is the big night. My negotiations partner sent me his scoring spreadsheet yesterday. I sent him mine. It looks like we have two issues in common while the other two issues are unique. I don't know if they are related in some other way or not.

Quixote Update
Chapters 12 & 13

Quixote and Sancho are still hanging out with the goatherds. A man from a village brought them some provisions. He told them of the death student-shepard. He tells this story of this young man who was very smart and brilliant. He went to school and learned astrology and helped the village out a lot. Then he became a goatherd ... all because of this beautiful girl named Marcela. It turns out that Marcela was a daughter of rich man. Because all the men wanted to marry her, she got upset and became a wandering goatherd. When she became a goatherd, so did a bunch of other men. One of them was this student-shepard. He doesn't say how the young man died. For this reason, Quixote and Sancho will go to the funeral.

Chapter 13 is about the journey to the funeral and the actual funeral. While they were on their way, they came accross another company who was travelling to the funeral. One of men in the company was named Vivaldo. He asked Quixote why he was dressed up like a knight when all the country is in peace? Quixote explains to him that he is a knight-errant. He basically says that he doesn't want the "easy" life. He wants a hard life full of adventure. At this point, Vivaldo and company understand that Quixote is mad. The two go back and forth about the philosophy of knight-errantry, such as if the knight is more loyal to God or to a woman. Vivaldo sounds reasonable while Quixote sounds like he's just making excuses. They arrive at the funeral. The young man had some papers he had written. They were going to burn them at the young man's request, but Vivaldo convinced them to give them to him. The chapter ends with Vivaldo about to read what the papers contained.

Chess Update

I didn't play chess last night. I went straight to bed when I got home.

Today's 2/28/06 chessgames.com puzzle has black to move. I'm not sure on this one. I would move 20. ... Qxa2 threatening to take the rook at b1 which would lead to mate. Another option would be 20. ... Rb3 White has to move his queen or move his rook to protect the queen. This leave black with eithe QxR or RxB.

The answer is 20. ... Rb3. I got it right! If the white queen takes the black queen, RxR with mate to follow. If the queen defends her rook, then RxR with the black queen taking the other rook. Any way you look at it, black will be up a piece.

As always, I'm looking forward to playing some more chess. I hope to play tonight ... if my negotiation doesn't take too long and if I get some quality work done on my Excel model.

When I play, I play at FICS under the handle RockyRook. I'm usually on between 9:00 and 11:30pm Central time. Right now, I'm not playing long games ... just trying to get one or two 2 12 blitz games in ... looking for tactics. I'll usually play a crazyhouse game or two to wind down before going to bed.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Why I'm Reading Don Quixote

I've explained before why I'm reading Don Quixote, but it got lost in the mix of all the postings. I decided to copy a part of that post and then link to this post for future reference. It explains why I'm reading Don Quixote and thus, why I provide daily updates of the novel.

From February 16, 2006:

Yesterday, I was poking around all the chess blogs out there. I was curious why Man de la Maza named his blog as such. His whole blog has a quixotic theme to it. So part of my day yesterday I was reading up on the history of Cervantes novel Don Quixote. I found that it is considered by many to be the best novel ever written. When I was at BYU, I'd walk down the halls of the JKHB and see all these posters about Don Quixote. I always thought it was just some obscure old novel ... never really paid much attention to it. But after reading about it yesterday, I thought that I might be interested in reading the actual book. So I took some money I received from my birthday and bought Edith Grossman's translation of Don Quixote. I also bought another book that I had heard was really good ... The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. After class last night, I made my lunch, watched a little TV and then delved into Quixote. Judging by its size, I think I'll finish right about the time I'm done with school and just in time to follow in the footsteps of Man de la Maza ... which, by the way, is a play on words of the play Man of La Mancha which is based on Don Quixote.

Spring 2006 Mod A - Beginning of Finals Week, Q11

This is it! I'm ready to rumble for the next couple of days. I have my last Excel modeling class tonight and then tomorrow I'll do my last negotiation.

Excel Modeling

After the kids were in bed, I worked on the Eli Lilly case. I had to write up the flexible plant option as well as our recommendation. Our group was emailing each other all over the place yesterday. I have about 15 emails sitting in my inbox that are all about this case. If I get another email from the group, then I might need to work on it some more today. But for the most part, it is done. All I have left is to finish the final case. It is due Friday.

Today is the last class. We have class this week because we didn't do the make-up class the same week of Martin Luther King Jr. day. I plan on chatting with Snir about the final case ... I need to buckle down and get that finished.


As I've said, we're meeting tomorrow to do the final case. I read the case last night and it is pretty simple ... I don't know if this will be difficult or not. It could be very easy or it could blind-side us all and be hard. We'll see. There are only 4 things to negotiate. I'm hoping everyone will share information and we can find the optimal solution and all get a good grade. I really love this class! I actually look forward to these negotiations.

Quixote Update
Chapter 11

Yep ... still plugging away at it. It could be one of those books that takes me several months to finish ... I don't mind. I just hope I finish it before I join up with the Knights Errant in October and go on my crazy, mind-numbing, tactical adventure.

Quixote and Panza head for the woods. Quixote is still injured. They find some goatherds (goat-herders?) and end up eating dinner with them. Quixote goes into this long story ... I didn't read it and I'm glad I didn't. Then one of the goatherds says that they have a friend who sings and plays music. This goatherd walks up and sings a long song ... again, I skipped over that part. Then the goatherds fix Quixote's ear.

Chess Update

I didn't play a lick of chess this weekend. I was busy with school work and family and church. I doubt I'll play tonight. I didn't get up and go to the gym this morning, so I think I may go there after school tonight ... since I'll be wide awake (I slept in til 7:10am).

I did the 2/27/06 chessgames.com puzzle last night. I got it correct ... 25. Qh7+ Kxg5 26. Qxg7+ 1-0. It was very easy.

And one last thing ... I've been reading the Boylston Chess Club Weblog every (week)day. It is a very good blog that is updated very regularly. Today, I noticed that they found my blog and have added me to their Active Other Chess Blogs page. THANKS BCC!

I ran accross the BCC blog a day or so after I read Man De La Maza's blog. They keep a listing of a bunch of chess blogs as well as the active list of Knights Errant De la Maza. It is a great resource. I've added them to my chess links as well.

OK, I lied ... this is the last thought ... BCC noted that Man De La Maza updated his blog to make it more useful. It looks very nice and navagable (is that a word?)

Saturday, February 25, 2006

chessgames.com puzzle 2/25/06

The 2/25/06 chessgames.com puzzle today is 34. ?

This is what I would do: 34. Nf7+ Rxf7 35. Rg8 Kh7 36. Bxh5 ... and then the two rooks would somehow work together to capture the black rook and mate the king.

And the answer is 34. Nf7+ Rxf7 (got the first tow move right!) 35. Rg5 Ng6 ... wow! Check out the rest of the game for a very good ending. I don't know if Saturday puzzles are hard or not ... I've not done too many of them.

This is about all I've done for chess lately. I'll proably play a few games later today & tomorrow. I've got to get some studying done ... need to read my negotiations case and get ready for that.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Spring 2006 Mod A - Week 8 Review

Now that I am done reviewing all the classes I've taken in the SMU Cox PMBA program, I will simply provide updates in the classes I'm currently taking ... much like I would have done if I had kept this blog up from the get-go.

Excel Modeling

The first class I'm taking, and just about finished with, is Business Modeling Using Spreadsheets. The course is taught by Eli Snir. This has not been my favorite course. I thought I'd enjoy it when I signed up for it. But that is proved to be otherwise.

We've had to do 3 group cases and 1 individual case ... each worth 25% of our grade. For the first two cases, one of our team members did pretty much all the work. For the third one, we met last night and took about 3 hours to hash it all out. This weekend we'll put the write-up together and then turn it in on Monday.

As for the individual case, I still need to come up with the 3rd part of the model and then do the write up. I have until March 3rd to turn it in.


The other class I'm taking is Master Negotiation taught by Robin Pinkley. She is a great teacher and presenter.

I've really enjoyed this class and am looking forward to taking the 2nd half of her class next Fall.

All that I had left to do in this class is the final. The four of us will be meeting Tuesday night and then I'll be done with this class.

One last comment about this class ... Robin told us, just before class ended, that we have been a really great class to work with. She said that we've all done much better than previous classes and that we are a saavy class when it came to negotiating. She also said that we had an excellent sense of humor and that it made the negotiations go very well. I'm looking forward to taking the 2nd half.

Quixote Update

I didn't read at all last night. I watched the Olympics with my wife and then went to bed and fell fast asleep.

Chess Update

I didn't play any games last night either.

And now for the 2/24/06 chessgames.com puzzle ... 36. ? I must be completly wrong because it seems too easy. 36. Ra8+ Rf8 37. Rcc8 Rdd8 38. Rxd8 Rxd8 39. Rxd8++

OK ... this has to be something difficult becaust it's a Friday!

The answer is 36. Rc8+ Rf8 37. Raa8 Rdf6 etc. click on the link to see the end. Well ... the idea was the same with the same result. By move 37, all the pieces were in the same place that I had put them. The difference was that black moved 38. ... Rdf6 instead of Rdd8. The real tactic comes next when Nh7. The king has to take the knight and then white grabs the rook .... a N for R exchange and that makes all the difference. This was too easy for a Friday puzzle.

Spring Break is March 5-11 ... I'm so looking forward to the break. I plan on buying my books for the next two classes and then get a start on the reading. Besides that, I plan on spending some much needed time with my wife and kids and then I'll spend my nights playing chess.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Fall Semester 2005 Mod B - Uncertainty & Strategic Decision Making

The last class I took in Fall 2005 was Uncertainty and Strategic Decision Making. One of my least favorite teachers taught this class ... Michael Davis ... the same one who taught the econ class the year before. Now let me qualify that statement. I don't dis-like his lectures. On the contrary ... they are very interesting and entertaining, but I don't think he does a good job at actually teaching concepts ... he is so disorganized and flies by the seat of his pants, that the lectures are filled with funny anecdotes, the real important content is briefly and basically covered. He doesn't delve into the real important subject matter. Rather he provides a broad smattering of basic information and then moves on.

The reason I say this is because when it comes to his finals, I find that I know the basics, but he hands out advanced problems. I'm probably completly wrong on this ... it could be that I just don't feel like I need to study in his classes (or simply don't know what to study) and therefore I am unprepared for the final.

Uncertainty and Strategic Decision Making

The content of the class was very interesting. But as I said above, I found myself unprepared for the final. We talked a lot about decision trees, game theory, prisoner's dilemma, two pigs in a box, etc. I guess the reason I like the content is because it is all about games and strategy on playing those games. The lectures were entertaining and interesting.

We had one case that we worked on as a group. We did OK on that one. Then we had the final. I felt like I did OK on the final. There were a few topics that I was unprepared for just because he expected us to know everything. Most teachers tell you what you should focus on when you study for the final. Davis never does.

I got a B in the class.

The 2nd half of this class is Game Theory. I'll be taking this class next mod.

And one final note about Davis. I noticed that Davis taught both international finance classes last Summer term ... I'm signed up for both of them this Summer term! I am praying that he won't teach them.

Spring 2006 Update

Our last negotiations class was last night. It was a very interesting class. She debriefed us on the Working Women case. I got yet another B+. I have a solid B+ in that class right now. Hopefully last night's case and the final will bump me up to an A-.

After the debrief, we did the Harborco case. It was a six-way negotiation. I had the easiest role. All I had to do was sit back and let Harborco do all the talking. I would pipe in once in a while to the defense of Harborco, but other than that, I sat back. Any deal was better than my BATNA. Everyone else had a hard time getting above their BATNA. The negotiations were extremely difficult. We thought that there were possibly 3 or 4 solutions. When she debriefed us, it turned out that there were 55 solutions! Everyone was amazed. But the point of it was that when there are so many parties and issues involved, everyone is overloaded with information and decisions become difficult.

She also talked about how Harborco had the power to stand up there and push his agenda. She said that the first thing Harborco should have done was get the pen and in big letters write down on the board what he wanted ... to anchor everyone else. She said that if Harborco did that, then everyone else should do the same thing ... to get their interests represented visually. If they didn't, then Harborco could push everone around.

My BATNA was 30 points. I ended up with 53. I hope I get an A- on this one ... it would sure help.

Excel modeling ... I went over my final again yesterday and started thinking about how I'd approach the 3rd part of the problem. I came up with a few ideas, but I'm not exactly sure how to implement them. This will be my main question for Snir on Monday.

Tonight we're meeting for our last case. I hope it won't take too long.

Quixote Update

The next chapter picked up where the previous left off ... the sword fight between the Basque and Quixote. The Basque gave Quixote a pretty big hit on the head that cut Quixote's ear. Quixote gave it right back to the Basque. He fell down and Quixote left him there.

Quixote & Panza left the situation and headed for the woods. Panza tells Quixote that he needs to stop the bleeding. Quixote says that he knows the recipie for healing severed limbs and other mortal wounds. He says he learned it from reading a book. Panza is amazed at this and says that he'd rather have this recipie than the island. Panza is also worried about the Brotherhood ... some sort of police. Quixote tells him not to worry about them. Next Panza worries about the food. Quixote says that he can go without eating real food for a long time. There is a funny exchange about this topic, but I won't go into details.

Chess Update

I played one game last night. My wife was in bed and kept complaining about the bright light from the monitor ... she can fall asleep watching TV, but she can't fall asleep with the computer on?? I don't get it either. Anyway ... I did by best to concentrate on this 2 12 blitz game. He actually had a pretty good little move on me that exchanged a knight and a rook for my queen. But I was still up on material. I think I had a rook, both bishops and a knight to his knight, rook and queen. I think I was up a few pawns too. He did his best to mate me, but I avoided it well and used my free bishop and rook to pressure his king. His flag finally fell and I escaped with a victory. Even if he had more time, I was close to skewering his queen with my rook.

And now for the 2/23/06 chessgames.com puzzle. 36. ...? Well, if white moves first, the game is over. So black needs a check to keep going. Re1 would prevent white from mating. I think it would also put a lot of pressure on the king.

I didn't see it. I thought about it, but not long enough. Rg5+ is the correct move. It turns out to be an excellent move. Click on the link to see the end of the game. Pretty cool.

I'll be studying tonight on campus. When I get home, I'll probably play a few games.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Fall Semester 2005 Mod B - Fixed Income Securities

As I wrote in my previous post, I was registered for the 2nd half of the Valuation & Analysis class, but after enduring Allen for 8 weeks, I dropped that class and signed up for a bonds class. Little did I know what that class would be like!

Fixed Income Securities

Fixed income was a really obscure class. I really didn't know what to expect. The teacher was Natalia Reisel. This was her very first class that she would teach at Cox. She had just graduated from Rutgers with a PhD in finance. We think she is from Russia because she talked with a little accent. She was also very soft-spoken. It was very difficult to understand her the first couple of classes. But by the end of the course, I could understand everything she said.

Whenever bonds were brought into the picture in other finance classes, all the relevant information was given. All you had to do was calculate the amount of debt a company had if they had issued bonds. I was half-expecting that this bonds class would be relatively easy. I was wrong. The bond market is huge and complex. It is a HUGE market, but in order to make a lot of money in that market, you must deal with HUGE quantities.

She lectured each week for about 90 minutes. The rest of the time was filled with groups doing a presentation on a case. There was one mid-term and one final. I did well on both. Our group project also went smoothly.

I don't remember a whole lot from that class. The one thing that I did learn was that I don't want to make a career out of working with bonds and fixed income securities.

I earned a B+ in this class.

Spring 2006 Update

Yesterday, I got most of the simulation problem done. There are three parts to it. I finished the first two parts. I plan on reviewing it today ... do a reality check to make sure it all makes sense. Then I have to figure out how to do the third part. It's a little more complex, so I'm not exactly sure how to do it.

I read the case for negotiations last night. The case is about a company named Harborco and it is wanting to build a huge port that will generate lots of revenue. Harborco has to get a licencse to build and to receive a license, it has to go before the Federal Licensing Agency (FLA). The FLA won't approve until at least 4 of the 6 parties involved agree upon the terms. The parties involved are Harborco, the environmentalists, the governor's office, some federal loan agency, another federal agency and the Union. I'm representing the governor's office. I put all the important issues and their point values in a spreadsheet. Judging by my BATNA and target points, I'm sitting pretty well. It will be practically impossible for me to go below my BATNA. All I have to do is work to get as many points as possible.

Quixote Update

The servants burned the books and then sealed up the library all the books were in. They figured that if Quixote wakes up, he'd go looking for the books in the library. If the library is gone, then they think Quixote's madness will leave too. When he wakes up, they lie to him and tell him some demon took his library away.

Quixote later hooks up with a farmer named Sancho Panza. They leave in the middle of the night and go on an adventure. Quixote promises Panza that he'd be a governor of an island if he helps Quixote. Panza isn't as crazy as Quixote, but he's still a little off his rocker.

They encounter the windmills. Quixote attacks the "giants" and gets injured. Then they come across a travelling party. In the party are a couple of monks and a lady who is travelling with her entourage. Quixote thinks the monks have kidnapped the lady. Panza sees them for who they are and says that this will be worse than the windmills! Quixote yells at the friars and then attacks them. One of them falls to the ground and then Panza runs up to him to take his clothes! He says that those are the spoils of war! For this, Panza gets a royal beating from the lady's entourage. Meanwhile Quixote is talking to the lady in the coach. One of her helpers gets in a word-fight with Quixote and then the two begin a sword-fight. The chapter ends there and that is where I left off last night.

I'm really enjoying this book!

Chess Update

And now for the chess update ... I played 4 games last night. Two blitz and two crazyhouse. I went 0-4! I simply sucked. The first two games were blitz. I played the same person both times. We entered the end game and I was up a pawn. I had two pawns against his one pawn on the kingside. I lost both pawns on the kingside, he advanced his one, queened him and then beat me soundly. I was dejected ... my blunder cost me the game. I rematched him. This time, we entered the endgame and I had my rooks and queen ready to blast away at his king. I overlooked that my king was locked away with no defense. I failed to notice this and he mated me. I was so dejected. So I played a couple of crazyhouse games. I got whooped both games. I went to bed depressed. I'm still bummed. Tonight, hopfully, I'll do better.

The 2/22/06 chessgames.com puzzle ... 27. ? Well, right off, I'd probably play 27. Rxg7 Bxg7 28. Qg4. Now that wouldn't work ... the black a6 rook would move to g6.

OK ... how about this. 27. Bh6 ... I don't know what would happen after that.

3rd try ... this is what I would do. 27. Ng7 Bxg7 28. Rxg7+ Kxg7 29. Qg4 ... but he can still place his rook at g6.

I don't know ...

The answer is 27. Rxg7 Bxg7 28. Qg8 Qxf5 29. Qxf5 ... OK! That makes sense now. I was thinking the rook would go to g6. But if he did that, I'd place the knight at h6+ which leaves the queen en prise. The games goes to 45 moves, but black eventually resigns.

Chess is a mental game. Not only do you really need a sound mind to play, but you also have to have confidence in the fact that you can see all the moves and make the best one. One thing that I need to work on (as last night shows) is thoroughness. I need to take my time and look at all the options for me as well as my opponent.

I think Dan Heisman said it one time ... something to the effect that you need to make every move as if your whole life and reputation depended upon it. That way, you'll ensure with a higher level of confidence that you are doing your best.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Fall Semester 2005 Mod A - Valuation & Analysis

The most pompous teacher I've encountered at Cox taught Valuation & Analysis in the Fall of 2005. His name: Jeffery Allen. To his credit, he is one of the smartest professors that I've had. He's a hot-shot who takes great pride in flunking students (so say the rumors). He is also a fellow LDS member.

Valuation & Analysis

For the first day of class, he got up in front of everyone and basically said that we'd better know our finance stuff or else this class would be very difficult. Now, to give a little backgroud ... this class, along with the theory class, is the first finance elective you can take without having the theory class as a pre-requisite. But he gets up there and acts like this should be the last finance class you should take ... like its the seminar class before graduation. There was lots of confusion and worry because of those comments.

The format of the class was the case-study. We'd read the case and then different groups would prepare and give a presentation. The group would make the presentation at the beginning of class and then we'd discuss it. The last thing he would do was toss up some spreadsheet and then NOT go over the details! But, he would make the data available after class. Each class discussed two cases.

There were a couple of lectures that were worth while. He talked about some methods for finding NPV and APV. He also went over a few ways of coming up with a cash flows statement. Other than those few lectures, his discussions were pretty worthless.

For the final, we read a case and then had a few days to work on it. After that, we'd turn it in and he would review it and send it back with a couple of comments and the grade. We then had a few more days to work on it some more before turning it in for the final grade.

Suprisingly, I did OK in that class. I got a B+.

Originally, I had signed up to take the 2nd part of the Valuation & Analysis class. He also taught the 2nd class. But after enduing him for 8 weeks, I had had enough. I dropped his class like a bucket of bolts. Instead of taking his class, I took a Fixed Income Securties class. There were about 4 other people who did the exact same thing as I did and who knows how many others dropped Allen's class and took another class besides Fixed Income. Do you think there might be some issues with Allen?

Spring 2006 Update

We turned in our credit scoring model last night. We did OK. We went over the solution in class. I don't think our numbers exactly matched up, but Snir said that that doesn't mean the model was bad or wrong.

After that, we went over simulation. We reviewed three different models that all used random numbers for the variables. It seemed pretty clear and straight-forward. Today, I'm going to review that and start the assignment. I hope to be able to get most of it done by next Monday so I can have him take a look at it. Our group also has to meet a few more times for our last group project. I'm so glad this class is coming to an end! The great thing about the module format is that you only have to endure classes for 8 weeks. You're sad to have the good classes end, but you're also very grateful when a bad class (or teacher) is over.

Negotiations ... I read part of the case yesterday. I need to really focus on it tonight. The case is very long and the negotiations involve 6 parties! The format will be different too. We'll have 3 rounds of voting on issues ... no back and forth negotiations.

Quixote Update

I read one chapter last night. Our knight-errant is lying in bed recovering from the beating he took. While he is asleep, the servants and priest go through the countless books Don Quixote has collected. Some books they keep, others they throw in a pile to be burned. The purpose of the chapter is to show all the books that Quixote has read and to provide some commentary on all the knight-errant books that were published back in the day.

Chess Update

After class, I got my lunch ready and got all my workout clothes together. Then I sat down, checked email and played 3 blitz games. I won 2 and lost 1. The two games I won, my opponent dropped some big pieces. I think he resigned both of them. On the one I lost ... I tried to sacrifice some piece ... don't really remember. I got in a bad position and it went downhill fast from there.

The 2/21/06 chessgames.com puzzle ... 20. ... ? I'm having a tough time coming up with a plan for this one. I'd probably do the following: 20. ... Rxd4 21. Rxd4 Rxd4 22. Qxd4 Qxa3+ 23. Kb1 Qb3+ 24. Kc1 Qb2+ 25. Kd1 Qa1+ 26. Ke2 Qxh1 and black is up a bishop with the opportunity to clean up the king-side pawns.

And the answer is 20. ... Rgxd4 21. Rxd4 Qxa3+ 22. Kd1 Rxd4 23. Qxd4 Qa1+ 24. Ke2 Qxh1 25. Qxc3 Qxg2 and it goes on a few more moves before white resigns. It wasn't exactly as what I thought, but still the same moves and plan. The result was the same ... black goes up a bishop.


In the news today is an article about a couple of doctors who walked out on an execution of a man who was convicted of rape and murder. They walked out for ethical reasons. Read the article here. The first thing I thought of was that the prison has no need for doctors ... just get Jack Kevorkian to do all the executions in the US. I mean ... he loves what he does and all these states need to carry out executions ... seems like these two parties need to come to an agreement.

Monday, February 20, 2006

Fall Semester 2005 Mod A - Finance Theory

Summer 2005 was the end of my core classes. Fall 2005 would begin my elective classes. The whole semester, my mind would be wholly focused on finance.

Finance Theory and Practice

Finance theory was simply a continuation of the first finance class I had. We went over most of the same topics we covered in the first class, but the emphasis was much more focused on theory. The teacher was Chun Lam. He was a pretty good teacher ... older gentleman who was difficult to understand at times because of his accent.

The first day of class, I sat on the front row. I was determined to get some good grades this semester. Plus, I was really worried and intimidated about the finance concentration. Since I had started the program, I had heard that the really smart students in the PMBA program were the ones who concentrated in finance. The rest of the students either did a general studies (took whatever class they wanted to) or they concentrated in marketing. A few, choice, select individuals concentrated in accounting or information & operations ... but those students generally worked with that stuff all day long anyway.

So, I was a little fearful of finance. The first week of the class, my head was spinning and I was starting to get lost. But I kept at it and eventually the material started to sink in my dense head.

All we had in that class was a mid-term and a final. I did well on both. My favorite part of the class was discussing the portfolio theory and asset pricing models. I'll be taking a class specifically about those subjects in mod B (here in a couple of weeks).

There really wasn't much to the class. He would lecture and we would study. Pretty simple and straight forward. I enjoy those types of classes. I earned an A- in this class ... the elusive A still getting away from me.

Spring 2006 Update

Our team worked on the credit scoring model via email all day yesterday. The model is all put together, so we just had to put some BS in the document. Only today's class and next week's class is left! I'll be so glad to get this class over with. If it weren't for negotiations, I'd be really hating this module.

I still havn't read the negotiations case yet. I'll probably do that today while I'm waiting for class to begin. Wednesday is our last class!

For mod B, I'll be taking 'Portfolio Theory and Asset Pricing' and 'Game Theory for Business Managers.' I'll have to go buy my books here next week so I can get started on my reading during spring break. It never ends. After reviewing the course websites ... it looks I'm going to be very busy next mod.

Chess Update

Now for the 2/20/06 chessgames.com puzzle ... 29. Rg8+ Rxg8 30. Nf7++ Fairly easy ... took me about 30 seconds.

And the answer is Rg8+ 1-0. Hey ... it's a Monday puzzle.

I played about a dozen blitz games on Saturday. I lost almost every one. But now, my RD is back to normal at least. My rating isn't swinging up and down wildly now. To my credit, I did win the last two blitz games. I'll probably play some tonight. I need to get my crazyhouse RD down now.

Quixote Update

Don Quixote is turning out to be a really good read. I think I'll give a little review each time I write up a blog entry.

So far, our noble knight has had delusions of grandeur and has set off on a quest to right wrongs and to help the oppressed. He arrived at an inn with no money. Everyone goes along with his insanity ... they know he is insane, but they joke around with him in a cruel manner. The innkeeper learns that our knight has no money, so he ends up staying outside. A couple of men need to feed their horses and they need to get to the watering trough and Quixote starts to fight them (thinking they are trying to take his armor away from him). Quixote lays it on them. At this uproar, the innkeeper comes out and dubs Quixote a knight and sends him on his way before he causes more trouble.

He starts for home because he needs more money and clothes. On his way, he hears crying. He finds a farmer beating a boy. He stops the farmer and the farmer explains that the boy has cost him several sheep. Quixote saves the boy and demands the farmer pay the boy his wages. The farmer says that he'll return home to get the money. Quixote trusts him. The boy pleads to Quixote not to leave him alone with the farmer or else he'll beat him up worse. Quixote says that he trusts the farmer and that Quixote will beat the farmer senseless if he doesn't give the boy his wages. Well, as you might imagine, Quixote leaves thinking he's done something great and the famer beats the boy almost to death. The boy vows to find Quixote and tell him what the farmer has done. The farmer just laughs.

Quixote ... still on his way home, encounters a group of traders. He tells them his lady, Dulcina something or another ... is the fairest lady to look upon. The men and Quitoxe argue about this. Quixote begins to charge the group, but his noble steed (Rocinante) stumbles and Quixote falls off. Then one of the men beats the snot out of Quixote.

Quixote cannot move. He begins to recite a poem he'd read. A man from Quixote's village finds him on the road and takes him back home. His servants and the preacher talk about how all of Quixote's books have made him insane and that they should burn them before others read them.

I'm really loose on the details ... I think writing a summary will help me to comprehend more ... so I think I'll continue with this review.

Well ... that's about all for today.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Summer Semester 2005 Mod B - Strategy

Just like at BYU, one of my last required classes I had to take was Strategy. At BYU, my teacher was Darral Clarke (link to his picture ... he has no profile on the Net). I think he's retired. I can't find any info on him other than the picture at BYU.

A good friend of mine and I took his class together. I really didn't care too much for the class. Clarke just got up there and lectured. Harry Potter was coming out at that time and Clarke was reading those books. He would talk about how cool Harry Potter was. I wasn't in to Harry Potter ... to me it was a fad and I didn't think too much of it. I actually enjoy Harry Potter now. I'm just waiting for all the books to come out so I can read it from start to finish. Then I'll watch the movies from start to finish.

As for the class ... don't remember much. I just wanted to graduate and all I had to do was pass the class.

Strategic Management

Here at Cox, David Lei taught the Summer 2005 strategy class. He was a very nice person, but I think he was on medication ... a lot of medication. He was very quircky and would say the most obnoxious and outrageous things during class. I remember during one lecture, he said something about Las Vegas, sex and bondage. Sometimes teachers will say outrageous things and it's funny. But when he said some wheels-off comment, everyone was left with their jaw on the ground.

All we did in that class was read cases, think up some comments and discuss them in class. He had some pretty good lectures about the morphasis of companies and how firms adjust to a changing world and environment.

Strategy is one of those topics that is so cool to discuss, but very difficult to manage. Strategy requires a big-picture view as well as the ability to bring in multiple areas of expertise. It would be fun to be a CEO and make up the company's strategy, but every decision you'd make would either be the life or death of the company.

Anyway ... good class. I got a B in it.

I didn't take a 2nd class for Mod B in the summer. I didn't like any of the classes that were offered. I had registered for a corporate governance class, but then dropped it. It was a nice break.

Spring 2006 Update

Nothing to report really. I need to read and prepare for negotiations. I may be meeting with my team member and Snir at lunch today.

Chess Update

The 2/17/06 chessgames.com puzzle ... Friday's are always difficult. The move is question is 83. ? white to play. Off the top of my head, I think white needs to distract the black king away from the f pawn so it can promote. The method for doing that would be to use the h pawn. So, 83. h7 Kxh7 84. Ke7 Kg7 85. Rg5+ Kh6 86. Rg2 and then the f pawn can promote. The king would be "sealed" off in the h file and the white king defends the f pawn. OK ... that wasn't bad. Let's see what really happened.

The answer is ... 83. Rg5+ Kxg5 84. h7 Re1+ 85. Kd7 Rd1+ 86. Ke8 Re1+ 87. Kf8 Rh1 88. Kg7 and white will promote both pawns and exchange the h pawn for the rook.

OK ... I see the error of my analysis. After 83. h7 Rf6+ 84. Ke7 (or d5) and black captures both pawns which leads to a draw rather than a win.

Wow ... when you truly understand all the positions and what really works and what doesn't, it makes the correct line seem so much more beautiful. It's so awesome.

Some people are emotionally moved by analyzing paintings or scultures or architecture. Some are emotionally moved by a fine movement of music. And then some people, like me, love the artistry of chess movements.

I played one blitz game and one crazyhouse game last night after I figured out how to capture video from my new Panasonic camcorder. I also uploaded some home video to my family blog. Technology is so cool! Anyway ... I won both games. The tactic from the previous post is from the blitz game I played. For the crazyhouse game, my opponent had never played crazyhouse before. So I explained to him how it worked and directed him to the help page.

After that, I read some more Don Quixote and then fell asleep peacefully.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Black to Move and Win

This is from a game I played on February 16 on FICS. I was pretty proud of my little tactic.

The answer is in the comments section.

Testing Embedded Video

Here's a great little chess movie by Pixar.

Summer Semester 2005 Mod A - Org. Behav.

I was interested in three concentrations at BYU in the business school. 1) Information Systems 2) Finance and 3) Organizational Behavior. I really enjoyed the OB class at BYU. It was probably the most confrontational of all the classes I took at BYU. The reason it was confrontational was because of the teacher and his assistent. The teacher was Bonner Ritchie. He was a lot like LaTurner ... he liked to talk. He didn't lecture; he just got up there and shot the breeze for 3 hours a week. He was a Democrat and an open-supporter of Clinton. Utah (and particularly BYU) is very conservative and Republican and so for obvious reasons, there were a lot of debates. I remember him saying that Clinton was a great president except for the unfortunate event in the Oval Office. It was almost unbelievable listening to Bonner go on and on about Clinton.

But, what was even more interesting was Bonner's TA. I don't remember her name, but she was probably in her mid 30's at the time, had blonde hair, attractive and ultra-liberal (think Tina Fey with blonde hair). She had just earned a degree at Berkeley and was at BYU for either an MBA or PhD. One time, Bonner was off on a negotiation in the middle east or something and the TA was teaching. Some discussion we were having spurred the topic of affirmative action. Boy ... that set off the fireworks for the rest of the class. The big debate was whether affirmative action was racist in and of itself or was it really helping minorities. A few students had the TA flustered and she was visibly riled up about the whole conversation. For me, it was pure entertainment ... it was like watching Sean Hannity debating with Al Franken.

Anyway ... Bonner's lectures had more to do with ethics and equality and how to treat people. Besides the lecture, we had labs where other TA's would get into the textbook part of the course. We had to write up papers and we discussed in smaller groups Bonner's lectures. It was a very interesting class ... I can honestly say this about the class ... I never slept in it.

Organizational Behavior

OB Cox-style wasn't any less dramatic than Bonner's class. Our teacher was Mel Fugate. There weren't any liberal or conservative slants in the class, but there weren't any dull moments. The first day was a lot like my very first day of school ... in 1st grade. He had rules up the wazoo! He could have had a separate course on just the rules of the class. If there had been an exam about the class rules, I don't think I would have passed it. It would have been like taking a bar exam. On top of the rules, he took a whole 10 minutes and discussed the proper pronunciation of his last name! He even began the last-name discussion with a question ... "how do you pronounce my last name?" A few raised their hands ... foo-ga-té ... fyou-gate ... and my personal favorite ... fugg-it! There was a big laugh about that one. We just called him Mel.

The class content was decent. He had us reading a buttload of material. The bad thing about the reading was that he quizzed us on it! Most teachers will assign reading material from the textbook, but after about 3 chapters, you just skim over the chapter and still understand what is going on in the lecture. But Mel was a nazi about reading the textbook. We took 3 quizzes over the textbook reading. It was crazy ... it was like we're in high school all over again ... and he treated us that too.

His lectures were very funny. He was a great presenter and I never fell asleep in his class. For one lecture, he brought in Robin Pinkley. She is my negotiations teacher right now. But in Mel's class, she discussed negotiating your salary. I didn't like it at the time, but now that I look back, it was a cool lecture. That class and the rave reviews of her negotiations class are the reasons I'm taking her class now.

Another lecture I really enjoyed was his presentation on leadership. He had us read a few articles besides the chapter in the textbook. I remember writing down a few notes on that subject. It was from that lecture that I decided to take the leadership class. Hopefully they will offer it this summer and I can take it.

I don't remember what we did for the final. I think it was an open book final, but the book really wouldn't help us if we didn't study beforehand. Overall, it was a good class. I got an A- in it.

Spring 2006 Update

Negotiations was last night. We did the Working Women case. I was the seller ... we were trying to sell 100 episodes of a popular sit-com to some local TV stations in Chicago. My partner was pretty level-headed and proved to be a really good negotiator (in my opinion). She just looked like a negotiator. She was very cool and calm. The two opposite of us were good to work with. The one guy reminded me a little of Johnny Weir (since the Olympics are on right now). We were shooting for $2.5 million net. We started off with an offer a little above that. We finally had to work with the other team and ended up with just over $2 million. We weren't going to settle for anything below two mil. The negotiation took almost the whole time. Robin didn't even get a chance to lecture.

Modeling ... I still need to find some credit data. I'll be doing that while I'm working on a server build today.

Chess Update

I didn't play chess last night. Yesterday, I was poking around all the chess blogs out there. I was curious why Man de la Maza named his blog as such. His whole blog has a quixotic theme to it. So part of my day yesterday I was reading up on the history of Cervantes novel Don Quixote. I found that it is considered by many to be the best novel ever written. When I was at BYU, I'd walk down the halls of the JKHB and see all these posters about Don Quixote. I always thought it was just some obscure old novel ... never really paid much attention to it. But after reading about it yesterday, I thought that I might be interested in reading the actual book. So I took some money I received from my birthday and bought Edith Grossman's translation of Don Quixote. I also bought another book that I had heard was really good ... The Life of Pi by Yann Martel. After class last night, I made my lunch, watched a little TV and then delved into Quixote. Judging by its size, I think I'll finish right about the time I'm done with school and just in time to follow in the footsteps of Man de la Maza ... which, by the way, is a play on words of the play Man of La Mancha which is based on Don Quixote.

The 2/16/06 chessgames.com puzzle ... 57. ...? Well ... I see that the black bishop can fork the two white rooks ... don't know how that could be done successfully. Maybe Rg3+ will allow the bishop to be placed at d4. How about this ... Rxd5+ 58. cxd5 Rg3+ 59. Kc2 Bd4 ... that doesn't make a whole lot of sense ... the fork can be easily broken.

The answer is Rg3+ 58. Kc2 Rg2+ 59. Kb1 Rxb2+ 60. Kxb2 Rxd5 0-1. OK! Not so bad. I had the right idea, but just needed more time to adjust how to accomplish it. I don't take more than 3 or 4 minutes on these puzzles.

Today I don't have class. If I get my credit data today, then maybe I'll have more time to play chess (or read Quixote).

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Summer Semester 2005 Mod A - Operations

I took one operations class at BYU. My professor was Tony LaTurner. He was a very layed-back teacher. His view was that he wanted the student to learn something, but at the same time, not be a nazi about tests and finals. I really enjoyed his lectures. He's not a professor type. He is more of a lecturer where he gets up and spouts off for two hours and then you leave feeling like you've learned something, but you really haven't.

I don't think he's a professor at the Marriott School anymore. It looks like he's more of a continuing education professor who does conferences and workshops ... judging by the link above. Anyway ... it was a good class, but I don't remember much of it. The one thing that stands out in my head was when he talked about how companies will lay-off people to save on costs as opposed to actually driving down costs. I remember jotting down some notes on that subject in light of the fact that I was going to begin interviewing for jobs soon.

Operations Management

The class at Cox was a little more in depth than the one LaTurner taught at BYU. I had Chester Chambers for operations at Cox. Boy ... I had a hard time with this nut for the first couple of classes. I knew he was pretentious before I even went to the first class ... all I had to do was look at the picture on his profile page. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seemed like he acted too high and mighty no matter who he was.

I also had a problem with is presentation skills. He would say, "ahhhhh" and "uhhhh" a LOT ... to the point that it was very annoying.

The content wasn't so bad. We had to read The Goal by Goldratt. I think every operations class ever taught has had the students read that book. It was an interesting read the first time. When I had to read it the 2nd time for Chamber's class, I had to do a write-up on it. I hate book reports.

For the last day of class, we played The Beer Game. It was somewhat fun. It was a lot better than having to listen to him ramble on for 3 hours. We played the game for an hour or so and then we had to endure his pointless lecture for another 90 minutes. The last thing we did in that class was write up a short report about how well we did in participating in the class. I really didn't participate that much (as far as providing comments and such) so I put down some BS and turned it in.

The final was a take-home. He gave us a case and we were supposed to do a report with recommendations and all. It wasn't too painful.

I ended up with a B for the class. I was a little worried that I was going to get a B- or C+. I was very content with a B.

Spring 2006 Update

We met as a group for our modeling class last night. One person in our group is the brain and he has done pretty much all the work. He is pretty sharp. Yesterday, he went and saw Snir. Snir gave him a lot of help. We met and discussed the results of the model. I'm supposed to find some information about durable goods and credit default rates. Then on Friday, we're going to try to meet with Snir and get some help with a couple of questions.

Negotiations is tonight. I've got to do some prep work for it before class.

Only one more week of classes! I'm SO looking forward to the Spring Break ... I plan to play lots of chess!

On a side note ... somewhat related to school ... another person has quit here at work. She and I started to work here at the same time. This was our first job out of college. She is the 2nd person to quit in the last 3 months. The other person who quit also started working here the same time I did. If this means anything for me, it means that my job is more "secure." I don't put much weight in that theory, but the trend of people quitting continues. It also offers me a little encouragement that I can find a decent job after school is done. It is quite possible that I'll be working for another company a year from now. Of course it is also quite possible I'll still be here next year. If they keep giving me a decent raise every year like they have been doing, then there really is no major reason for me to leave. I'd have to earn just as much or more AND live closer to family in order for me to leave this job.

Chess Update

The 2/15/06 chessgames.com puzzle ... white to play on move 160??? WOW! That's a long game! Obviously it's an endgame. Black is pretty much holed up, but I'm not entirely sure what white can do.

The anwer ... Re5 1-0. Wow ... that makes complete sense. White's rook is aiming for a5. The black rook cannot defend a5 or else the bishop captures him. Once white moves 161. ra5+ Kb1 162. Bd3+ Kc1 163. Ra1++. Very cool.

I didn't play chess at all last night. I watched the Olympics with the wife and kids and then I put the kids to bed. After that, I studied a bit and then worked on digitizing some more old 35mm slides. I was in bed by 10:00pm and asleep by 10:15pm. It was a great rest! Maybe tonight after class I might log on and play a couple of games. Since I got more than 6 hours of sleep last night, I might be up for a while.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


I read an article on ChessBase a while ago about chessboxing. For obvious reasons, I found it fascinating.

I just added a bunch of links about chessboxing to the side. It will be interesting to follow this new hybrid sport.

Spring Semester 2005 Mod B - Marketing

The joys of marketing ... I hate them.

At BYU, I took one (required) marketing class. I didn't do too well in that class. I had this lady by the name of Smoot. The one thing I recall from that class was that she marketing these padded bras one time. She made the mistake of telling her students (she was blonde) and since then her "product" has been known as "SMOOTERS HOOTERS." That's all I remember from that class.

Marketing Management

Marketing at Cox was OK. My teacher was James Kindley. At our orientation, he gave a demonstation lecture. He was a pretty easy-going professor. We would read a case, prepare some notes and then we'd discuss it in class. He would usually start out asking some basic questions. For example, we had this case about a paint company. The first question he asked was, "who has painted their house within the last year?" Then he'd ask whoever raised their hand what type of paint he used. Then he'd ask what influenced his or her decision to buy that particular brand of paint. Then we'd delve into the certain aspects of the product and eventually get into the nitty-gritty details. However, he would not get too nitty-gritty.

The class was enjoyable. It was entertaining. It was informative ... but again, I don't remember much of what I learned. Well, I take that back. I do remember a few things like brand identity and competition. The main thing I learned in that class was that you focus on the strengths of a product and that you can really never compete on price.

For the final, he just gave us another case and we did a write up on it. It was really pretty painless. I ended up with a B+.

Spring 2005 turned out pretty well. I got 2 A-'s and 2 B+'s and was taken off academic probation! It was a really good semester for me.

Spring 2006 Update

Nothing major to report now. I had the modeling class last night. We talked about the Eli Lilly case. We'll be doing decision trees for this case. But the decision trees are more deep and complex that what I've seen before. He said this would be the hardest case of the class. After the Eli Lilly case, we'll just have Monte Carlo simulation which is basically our final. We have to work on it individually. Then we'll be done with the class! YES! I'll be glad to be done with this class.

Negotiation is tomorrow. I've read the case, but haven't done much else.

Chess Update

The 2/14/06 chessgames.com puzzle ... 50. ... Na3+ 51. Kd1 Nxb5

And the answer is ... Na3+ 0-1. That was like a Monday puzzle ... too easy.

I didn't play chess after class last night. I had to help get some sleepy kids in bed and get ready for the next day. I also was taking some digital pictures of some old 35mm slides. My mom gave me this book of slides that my grandpa took of me when I was a baby and kid. I've been wanting to digitize them. I've always thought about taking a digital picture of them, but I needed to have a slide viewer. Well, long story short, I found one. It turns out that the place where I bought it was just down the street from where I work. So last night after class, I was using it and taking pictures. Some of the pictures turned out very well. I'll have to go back and re-take a few that turned out a little blurry, but overall, I think it will work. Maybe tonight I'll play a game or two. I have a group meeting for the Excel class, but after that, I should be able to fit a game in before going to bed.

Countdown Timer Added

Yesterday, I added a countdown timer to the blog. Once it expires, I think I'll use that section for tracking 7 Circles and other info I'd like to track.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Spring Semester 2005 Mod B - Finance

By the time the 2nd mod came in the Spring term in 2005, I was feeling my oats ... two A-s! WOW! Any doubts about how I'd do in the MBA program left me. I felt much more confident. In fact, I was probably too confident going into the 2nd mod.

Managerial Finance

My first finance professor at Cox was Sara Moeller. She was quirky. I had a hard time for the first couple of weeks, understanding what she was saying. She would talk a million miles an hour. Plus, there was so much information that she had to cover, it was difficult to assimilate that much content. But, after about 3 weeks, I was feeling better. I was able to sort out the irrelevant information and focus on what really mattered. She did a good job of reviewing each week what we were trying to accomplish.

We didn't use the textbook at all. All of the content came from her notes. We did one case and then we had the final. She let us have a cheat sheet. I came to realize that those cheat sheets are valuable. If you really work hard to understand the concepts and then capture the formulas and problems on the cheat sheet, it becomes a nice reference page for future use.

I did well in the class ... I earned a B+.

We were Sara's last class that she taught at SMU. She had accepted an offer to teach at Wake Forest. She is a big basketball fan (she's pretty tall). The NCAA mens' basketball tournament was on TV during class. So, during breaks, she would turn on the TV and we'd watch the action. Anyway ... she kept telling us that she'd be so much happier at Wake. She'd be able to do more research, live in beautiful state and be right in the middle of basketball-land ... especially in the ACC. So it was a no-brainer for her.

I look back on that class and time with fondess. It is memorable for me. The warm weather was returning, the NCAA basketball tourney was on and I also bought a new laptop ... a Dell Inspiron 700m. I sold my old laptop on eBay and then bought this one. It's been a great purchase. I'm not sure if I'll hold on to it or sell it after I'm done with school.

Anyway ... fun memories. That was just last year! Time goes by quickly.

Spring 2006 Update

Not much of an update right now. I found I got a B+ on my 2nd negotiation exercise. That's what I expected. Only two more class exercises to go and then the final. Should be a breeze.

Excel modeling ... class is tonight. I worked on the case a little. Our group will meet tomorrow.

Chess Update

I took the day off on Friday. I caught up on homework and then played chess! My rating deviation (RD) was very high, so whenever I won or lost, my rating would wildly swing up or down. I'm just trying to work out the bugs in my blitz and crazyhouse game. Sometime around August, I plan on getting back into standard playing mode. I want to go to the 7 circles too ... get my tactics strength up. Anyway ... it was a lot of fun playing chess! I feel much better after playing ... even if a lose a bunch of games.

The 2/13/06 chessgames.com puzzle ... so easy ... Rh7+. Since the white king cannot move (into check), the white rook needs to keep checking and be captured to gain the stalemate (black is up on material by 2 pawns, so a stalemate is better than losing). There is a big debate in the kibitzing about weather stalemate should be a draw or a win. I can undertand both points of view. I think I'm in the stalemate=draw camp. It would make sense to make the stalmate=lose for the person who has to move his king in check (much like a resignation). But by adding the stalemate=draw rule, it gives the "underdog" or person with little material left, a fighting chance to make the game a draw. It just gives the game another layer of strategy. Of course, stalemate=draw falls right in line with the rule that you cannot move your king into check. Interesting debate.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Spring Semester 2005 Mod A - Decision Analysis

The other class that I took during the first module of the spring 2005 semester was Management Decision Analysis. I had heard lots of rumors about this class ... mostly bad.

Management Decision Analysis

Neil Keon taught our class. Neil has been the coolest teacher I've had so far. He is fairly young and extremely smart. He really struggled trying to find a way to teach us linear programming and other maximization and minimization problems. But after a few weeks, he was doing a great job and finding new ways of explaining the same thing. There were some parts of it that I enjoyed and there were other parts that I really didn't like. The current Excel modeling class that I am in right now is simply a continuation of Management Decision Analysis.

The homework was tough. In class, he explained it so well, but when it came time to actually do the homework, I had a really hard time figuring it out. But once you figure it out, it all seems so simple.

We used Excel extensively throughout this course. But for the final, we had to write out the program. We couldn't do a trial and error approach. But Neil did a great job of coaching us through it so that we'd do well on the final.

I remember going to a review session and there were a bunch of students who really didn't get this stuff at all (they were the HR/OB touchy-feely students). I just had to laugh at them. After Neil explained things for the 15th time, I just chuckled. Yeah ... I had to have it explained to me about 2 or 3 times, but I got it eventually. For a lot of people it was just not their forte.

I did well on the homework and final and I came out of the class (suprisingly) with an A-.

Excel Modeling

I'm taking a day off from work today. I will be working on trying to understand our next case for this class. We're meeting next Tuesday as a group. I hope to be able to understand all the issues and get some numbers in a spreadsheet so we won't have to spend too much time on this case. Snir told us in class that this would be a tough case. He said the other two cases we have left will be "fun" so I assume they won't be as difficult as this one.

I'm really looking forward to getting out of this class!

Master Negotiation

I haven't looked at the next exercise yet. I'll do that on Saturday or Sunday.

Chess Update

The 2/10/06 chessgames.com puzzle ... 36. ? white to play.
I would play 36. Bxg5 hxg5 37. Qxh5 ....well that won't work. The black Q would take my rook. The white rook would have to move ... maybe attack the black queen. Another option is 36. h4. Boy this is tough ... it is a Friday puzzle.

The answer is : 36. Bxg5 hxg5 37. Qf7 Kh6 38. Re7 1-0

So I had the right idea to begin with ... I just needed to think about it some more. No matter what black does, it's over. The rook and queen have it all covered. I love chess puzzzles!

As soon as I finish studying, I'm going to play some chess! Motivation is great!

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Spring Semester 2005 Mod A - Accounting II

After having our third child and a nice Christmas break, I was well-rested and ready for the Spring term. I had my goals in place and I was ready to work hard to get off academic probation.

Financial Accounting II

We had the choice of taking either Financial Accounting II or Managerial Accounting. Judging by the size of our class, I assume that a lot of people didn't like the first financial accounting class. Our Financial Accounting II class was very small. Most of the PMBAs took the managerial accounting class ... and from talking to a lot of those students, it sounded like they wished they would have taken the financial accounting course.

I took managerial accounting at BYU. I didn't do too well in that class. It was a weeding class ... to weed out all those who said they wanted to get their MACC and those who really were going to get their MACC. I had John Hardy. He wasn't too interested in teaching as much as he was interested in consulting on the side. He often was late and sometimes missed class. It was really disorganized. I really hated going to class and doing the assignments. The lectures sucked and didn't help a whole lot. I was totally lost in that class. My experience was so bad, I wasn't going to risk taking that class again. I took my chances with financial accounting.

Our teacher was Hogan. I was very worried before class started that she would be just as bad as Riffe. I was horrified when I looked at her profile. But after the first two or three classes, I found that I really liked her teaching style. Her presentations were clear and easy to understand. The homework that she gave us was challenging, but do-able. I studied hard for that class and it paid off. I thought that since there were so few students in the section, I would be on the lower end of the curve. But I was pleasantly suprised when I found out my grade. I earned an A-! I was off to a great start of getting off probation.

Master Negotiations

Class was last night. We did the BMW buyer/seller exercise. I was the buyer this time. I did better than I did last time, but I still didn't do as well compared to other buyers. The actual negotiation was very easy and smooth. The other guy was level-headed and we worked well together. We found, pretty quickly, the issues that we were willing to give in to and we held our ground on the issues that mattered most. My BATNA was around 2450. He said his was around 2400 (we disclosed this info after the deal was done). I was aiming for around 4900-5100 or roughly double my BATNA. He said he was aiming for 6000. He got his 6000 and I got 5400. If the negotiation were perfectly balanced, it would have turned out 6600 each. There was one issue that I didn't ask for the max and I was disappointed afterward about that. It would have pushed me up close to 6000. I think I did well. I'll probably get a B+ again.

What I need to remember is to put out my offer first. Last night, he put out his first. I think this anchored me toward his number. I need to make the first offer next time. The second issue is that I need to be a little more aggressive. I find myself looking to co-operate more as if that were the sole purpose of the exercise. My goal should be to maximize my gains rather than feel good about a negotiation.

This was the last one-on-one negotiation we'll do. The rest will be more difficult and in teams. When we did our first team assignment, there was lots of debate. All that debating chewed up our time. I wonder how much time she'll give us next week?

Excel Modeling

Tonight and tomorrow night I'll be working on reviewing for this class and working on the assignment. Not much to say other than I really don't enjoy this class. It sounds great when you say that, "I'm taking an Excel modeling class!" But in fact, it truly sucks. I'm not a brainey geek that gets this stuff too easily. I'm more well-balanced. But, I'm still going to bite the bullet and do the work.


I played last night! I hadn't played in a long time. I just played as a guest. After a couple of crazyhouse games, I played a few blitz games. I did well. It felt great to be playing again. 15 minutes of playing chess before going to bed turned into a two-hour obsession. It was fun getting on the board again.

The 2/9/06 chessgames.com puzzle (11. ? white to play). My guess is 11. Bxf7+ Kxf7 12. Qb3+ Kf8 13. Ng6+ ... I think that's mate. If not, the knight has forked the rook and king.

And the answer is ... Bxf7+! After that, I didn't place the black king in the correct position, but the idea was the same. The knight goes on to f6 with the Queen threatening to mate at e6. Black has to defend against this and then white's knight takes the rook.

It took me a while to figure out how the game would end. It turns out that black is in a real mess with those knights. Anything he does, the other knight will fork the Queen and King. It's really quite brilliant!

The Office is on tonight ... funniest show I've seen in a long time.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Fall Semester 2004 Mod B - CS/MYC

Cox has changed graduation requirements many times over the past few years. The program used to last almost 3 years! The administration has cut that down considerably. Currently, the PMBA program lasts 2 years ... if you follow the suggested schedule of classes.

In Fall 2004, it was required that everyone take a Communication Skills and a Managing Your Career class. Each of these classes lasted only 4 weeks and was either a pass or fail ... no credit was received. Since then, these courses have been cut from the mandatory classes. If it weren't for these two classes, I'd be done in August, as opposed to October.

Managerial Communication Skills

For this course, we were divided up into sections of 5 or 6 people. Each week, we were given a topic to present and then asked to stand up in front of the class and present it. We were to practice good standing, speaking and gesturing techniques. For me, it was uncomfortable. I had to take one if these classes at BYU. Whenever I have to publically speak, I get nervous and when I get nervous, I begin to sweat. I try really hard to keep calm. Usually I'm OK, but sometimes I just can't help but be nervous. We did our presentations and I got somewhat comfortable and survived the presentations.

Along with the public speaking stuff, we had to do some writing. She gave us a few scenarios and we had to write memos to our "boss" or "client." I had absolutly no problem with this. I enjoy writing. That part was easy.

Overall ... the class was a breeze. I passed.

Managing Your Career

This course was somewhat useful. The whole thing was more of an FYI rather than to learn anything. I really don't remember much about this class. I skipped it a few times. My wife was pregnant at the time and our baby was due in December. The only requirement that we had was to do this Meyer's-Briggs test and comment on the results or something like that ... I really don't remember. In my opinion, the course was didn't add a whole lot of benefit. They could have easily put all that info on a website and let us just read up on it.

Anyway ... I passed that course too.

Fall 2004 Semester Summary

My first semester was a rough one. My GPA was for the semester was 2.77 and as I've said, I was put on academic probation. Thankfully, I did much better the following semester. Fall 04 was a stressful time ... we had our 3rd child, I was starting school, our oldest started kindergarten ... we had a lot on our plate. But we survived.

Master Negotiation

Class is tonight. I read chapter 4 in the textbook last night. I also worked through some offers I intend to give in hopes of anchoring the other party. My target is twice that of my BATNA. I don't know if that is setting it too low or not. I'll find out tonight.

I think the whole exercise will be one of those "orange" negotiations where two people are negotiating over an orange. They finally decide to cut it in half. One person uses his half of the orange for just the peeling and discards the fruit part. The other person uses her half for the fruit part and discards the peeling. Had they negotiated better, they could have gotton more than what they received.

I think tonight's exercise will be similiar ... there are about 7 issues at hand. I think the dealer won't budge on some issues while being more flexible on others. I don't think our interests will be the same, therefore it will behoove us to work out a win-win situation.

I'll post the debriefing tomorrow.

Chess Update

The chessgames.com 2/8/06 puzzle ... I got the move in question, but I had to read the kibitzes to figure out how the game would have played out. I agree with the kibitzers who said that move 30 would be a good puzzle. It really was a beautiful move.

If I'm wired tonight after class (can't get to sleep), I'll probably play a few blitz games when I get home. I havn't played a chess game since January 6th!

540 days completed
254 days to go

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Fall Semester 2004 Mod B - Statistics

Stats ... it's a great science. It's pretty useful. It's pretty convoluted.

My first college encounter with stats was at BYU. If I hadn't worked in a group with a couple of friends, I don't think I would have done as well as I did. Stats was a required course in order to get into the Marriott School. I earned an A- and I was happy.

Managerial Statistics

Marion Sobol, the legend, was my stats teacher at Cox. The picture of her at the link I've provided must be about 30 years older. She is much older now than when that picture was taken. She must be around 70 years old now. I think she's from New York or Jersey beacause she talks with an eastern accent. I must admit, she is as sharp as a tack still. But there were times when a student would ask a question and she really didn't understand what the student was saying. Which brings up another comment.

There are lots of Indian and Asian students in the PMBA program. I find it (sometimes) amusing watching a teacher attempting to decipher what a student asked. Other times, I am very impressed at how well the teacher understands what a foreign student is asking. I am also highly impressed with a lot of students who don't speak English as their first language. I don't think I'd do too well attending a university in Spain or Mexico and taking all my classes in Spanish. It's simply amazing how some students do that.

I digress. Sobol ... I enjoyed her teaching style. She is a pretty logical person and explained the concepts well (for me). I think other students would disagree. Others had a hard time with her age as she stumbled or mumbled a few times.

The homework wasn't too difficult. We had a group case to work on. Our group did well enough. The final was OK. She gave us a cheat-sheet with all the fomulae on it. I can't remember how I did on the final ... I was a little above average I think. My final grade was a B+. I thought I was going to get an A or A-, but I was OK with a B+.

Finally, as a side note ... there is a statue of a Möbius strip that stands in front of the Cox business school. I read the inscription on it one time and learned that Sobol donated the statue to the school. The above is a picture of the actual statue.

Excel Modeling

We went over a cancer detection model. It was over my head. It makes perfect sense when Snir is up there showing you how to do it, but when it comes to actually working on the case ... it's a whole other ball-game. We got our first case back ... we scored a 20/25 ... 80%. Apparently we missed a question (?). I don't know how that happened. Our next case is a credit scoring model. We have to figure out who is a good candidate for a customer for a credit card and who is not. Our group won't meet until next Tuesday, the 14th. So, I'll be trying to make heads and tails out of the case before then.

I really don't enjoy this class. I thought I would when I signed up for it. But I've found that most of it above me. Thankfully, I have a couple of smart people in my group.

Master Negotiation

I really like this class. Robin Pinkley is the professor. The first time I heard her speak was in my Organization Behavior class that I took last summer. She talked to us about salary negotiation. So far, I've really enjoyed this class. I've heard and been told several times that this class is one of the best classes in the business program. It is always a full class.

Each class, for the first hour, we work on a negotiation. The last negotiation was between two divisions in a company. One division wanted to purchase some technology from another division. I played the role of buyer. The last time I played the buyer was for our first negotiation exercise. It wasn't graded. I thought I did well, but compared to the others, I scored a little below average. I didn't want that to happen this time. So I get in the room with the other person. I had seen him before in other classes and he seemed like a nice person. We chatted a few minutes and then we got into the negotiating. He seemed like a reasonable person and I trusted him. I thought that we were going to get pretty close to the middle ground. Leaving the negotiating table, I thought we'd both done well. But when everyone else in the class revealed their data, I realized that I didn't do so well. I was about average. I was somewhat ticked.

The lesson I learned was to not be such a "nice guy." I need to fight a little more for my part. I needed to reason a little more and put in some good BS to convince the other person that I was really adding value. That last exercise was the first graded assignment we had. I earned a B+ on it. About 30 people got A's and A-'s. Another 15 or so people got B+'s and B's. Two people got B-'s ... these were the people who went below their BATNA. Rule #1 - NEVER go below your BATNA.

In the debriefing, she showed us that the exercise was really a value-creation scenario. The pay schedule was such that the two parties could maximize the whole company's profits while at the time time benefiting the division. It wasn't a simple pie to be sliced up.

This week's assignment is another buyer/seller exercise. I am again the buyer. But this time I'm buying a BMW from a car dealer. I have to get the most for my money. The payoff schedule is more complicated than last week's. I put all the numbers in Excel so it will be easier to calculate the offers.

Pinkley teaches an Advanced Master Negotiation course. I'm going to be taking it next fall (my last class!).

Chess Update

The chessgames.com 2/7/06 puzzle was fairly easy. The move is question is white's 26th move.

It was another removal of the guard. A rook takes out the knight, then the bishop comes in and eats a few pawns with huge backup from the queen. I don't know if this is correct or not, but my solution to the end would be ...
28. Bg5+ Kg8 29. Bh7+ Kf8 30. Qh8+ Ke7 31. Bf6+ Eventually black loses his queen and the king is chased until he's mated.

After reading some of the kibitzes, it looks like a better move would be ...
28. Bf8+ Kg8 29. Qh6 Bxf8 30. Qh7++

I see that that variation is much cleaner and mates much sooner :-) ... I'm still learning.

Well ... that's all for today. Since I am so ready to finish my MBA, I'm going to start the countdown. If I recall correctly, our classes started the week of August 17, 2004. I am going to use that date as the starting day. The ending date for me will be October 20, 2006. This is the Friday of finals week for Mod A for this fall. I think it would be calculated as 136 in 2004, 365 in 2005 and 293 in 2006 for a grand total of 794 days while in MBA school.

539 days completed
255 days to go

Monday, February 06, 2006

Fall Semester 2004 Mod A - Economics

Managerial Economics ... I hate econ. For my undergrad, I had to take three econ classes. The first one was the standard Econ 110. I've been told (and I believe it) that either you get it or you don't. I simply don't get it. I understand the basic concepts, but beyond that, I'm lost. Econ 110 at BYU was my first experience with economics. I did well enough. I got a B in that class. I had to take it as part of my application into the Marriott School of Managment.

Once I was in the business school, I had to take a micro and a macro econ class. The micro class was more of a finance class as I remember it. Crawford was my teacher. It was the 2nd worse grade I received at BYU. I think I got a C- or something. Then I took the macro class. I actually enjoyed the lectures, but I didn't do too well on the final. My teacher was Koller (I can't believe he's still teaching ... he was a relic when I was there 6 years ago). I got a C in the macro class. I think I got a grand total of 4 C's while at BYU. Two of them came from those econ classes.

Managerial Economics

The managerial economics class at Cox was no different. I enjoyed the lectures and the teacher, but when it came to homework assignments and the final ... I bombed. I remember going to the review session. Davis, the teacher, got up there and went over the homework assignments. The problems and solutions started to make sense to me, but by the time the final rolled around, I was probably more confused than before. The final was ... horrible.

To offer a little background ... after I returned from a 2-year mission to Central America, one of the first classes I took was calculus. I was so confused in that class. These freshmen were running around me in circles when it came to math. I was the most un-prepared student going into that final. It got so bad, during the test, that I started writing down random numbers ... whatever popped into my mind. I knew I was going to flunk the class, so I didn't invest too much time in actually taking the test. I ended up getting somewhere around a 30%. Fortunately for all the homework assignments (you got the points for simply turning in something), I passed the class with a C+. I ended up taking the class over and got a B+, which helped me get into the business school.

So back to econ at Cox. The final was just about as bad as the calculus final I took. I stared at this one question for about 45 minutes. I was CLUELESS. I remember thinking about how I was going to drop out of school and all that jazz. It wasn't a great feeling. I didn't get off to a good start. I earned myself a solid C in that class ... which is like a D- in MBA school.

Because of that class, I was immediately put on academic probation! That was a first! You must maintain a GPA above 3.00 while at Cox. At the end of the semester, I received this letter from the office telling me I was on probation. I got pretty stressed. During the holiday break, I made all these goals and study plans to do better.

Anyway ... I'm done with economics. Hopefully I won't have to deal with taking another econ class for the rest of my life!

Chess Update

Everyday, I go to chessgames.com and attempt to solve the puzzle. Mondays are usually very easy. Today's was no different. It was simply a removal of the guard. The exchange was a rook for a queen and knight - not a bad trade!

Excel Modeling

Right now I'm taking an Excel modeling class ... maximizations, minimizations, etc. We're supposed to be working on this extra credit problem. We're supposed to find an arbitration for a foreign exchange using the transportation model. It's pretty hard. The teacher said it'd be difficult. Work looks like it's going to be slow today, so I'm going to work on this problem.

Next time, I'll talk about my stats class.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Fall Semester 2004 Mod A - Accounting

At the Cox school of business, they have a regular full-time MBA program and then they have the PMBA program. The P stands for professional. I am in the PMBA program. Each semester is divided up into two modules. Mod A lasts for 8 weeks and Mod B lasts for 8 weeks. In the summer, the mods are cut short by one week, but classes are longer.

Classes are the same for everyone for the first three semesters.

For Fall 2004, I had Financial Accounting, Managerial Economics, Statistics and a couple of no-credit classes ... public speaking and a career management course.

Financial Accounting I

Financial Accounting was not fun. It was a blitz of information, especially for a person who hasn't been to school for 3 years. I remember sitting there in class with my eyes glazed over and wondering what the heck I got myself into. Riffe was the teacher's name. She was a good teacher, but the amount of information was incredible. I did my best on the homework assignments and quizes. Thankfully, she let us make a cheat-sheet for the final. I remember sitting at work watching the Oklahoma v Texas game while working on my sheet. It was a rainy, cold day and I spent about 5 hours working on that paper. It helped me somewhat. I did a little above average on the final.

I ended up with a B in the class.

I really don't remember a whole lot from the class. A lot of that stuff didn't even start to sink in until I took the 2nd financial accounting class.

Chess Update

I am trying to teach my 5-year-old daughter how to play chess. She can set up the board and knows how to move the pieces most of the time. Today we played a game using the pieces on the BabasChess interface ... we were just sitting at the computer when we decided to play. So I took off all my major pieces. All I had were my king and pawns. She was supposed to checkmate me. I let her take a lot of my pawns. She failed to stop one of my pawns and I promoted it. Soon, the game was over. I had to tell her that I won ... we're still working on trying to grasp the concept of checkmate, thus the reason for today's game. When she realized that she had lost, she got really upset. I told her that to be a good sport means that you are nice even when you lose. You are always supposed to shake the other person's hand and thank him or her for playing. She absolutely refused and was being a big stinker about it. I knew she was lacking sleep and that was the main reason for the temper, but I wanted a lesson to be learned.

I explained over and over again that everyone wins and loses in life. That it is OK to lose and that when you lose, you need to be happy for the other person and congradulate them on the game or at least thank them. I told her that it's OK to cry, but that you still need to shake the other person's hand and be a good sport. It took about 15 minutes of explaining and a couple of timeouts (for her to think about it) before she finally calmed down. By the time that was all over with, she was still a little shaken up about the loss. I let it go for the time being.

Later, I had been upstairs reading for my negotiations class. I went downstairs and she came up to me and gave me a big hug and then stuck out her hand for me to shake it. She smiled and said, "good game, Dad." That made me feel so good. She was sincere about it and said that she was sorry. I gave her a big hug and told her how proud I was of her. It really suprised me that she was big enough to do that. I sure love her! What a great girl!

Next post, I'll write about the dreaded economics class ... ugh!

Friday, February 03, 2006

Beginning Again

Well ... how to begin (again) this blog? I have been actively blogging, since July 2005, under a different handle. Mostly, I've been blogging about my running and exercise regimen and my family. I've also been reading tons of blogs ... chess blogs, photography blogs, lds blogs and on and on. Blogging really is somewhat addictive.

Yesterday, I came across a very interesting blog about Michael de la Maza's 7 Circles. The name of the blog is mandelamaza.blogspot.com. Today, I read it from start to finish (about 6 months worth of blogging). It was really interesting and at times very humorous.

But before I delve into that story, let me provide a little history about this blog.

Before I went back to school to earn an MBA, I was playing lots of chess. I played in a few on-line tournaments and was starting to show some progress. I would spend hours playing chess and trying to improve. My wife would occasionally give me a hard time about not pursuing an MBA. Although I didn't want to admit it, she was right. All the time I was playing and studying chess, I could have spent it studying the GMAT and applying to grad school. I remember this one game I played. I spent over two hours brain-battling this guy in a chess match. It was a close game and in the end, I lost. I was SO frustrated and angry. I mean, veins were popping out of my head. I seethed for hours. The one thing that bothered me the most was the nagging feeling I had that I could have spent those two hours studying the GMAT. It was at that point that I became serious about earning an MBA.

I went to work early in 2004. I started studying the GMAT on and off in January and February. It was during this time that I first became aquainted with a web log or blog. In my search of MBA information, I found Tad's blog. Shortly after reading his blog, I registered at blogspot.com and created this blog with the intention of tracking my MBA application process, admission and experience. As you see, I did two entries. We spent a week in Hawaii in March and when we got back, I hit the books hard ... I didn't keep up with the blog! By May, I had submitted my application to Cox business school. By June, I was admitted. Immediately, they assigned us homework! School wouldn't start until August! So I studied accounting and stats during the months of July and August. I also was enjoying the last few long games of chess before I started school.

School started August of 2004 and now four semesters later here I am. I am a quarter way through my 5th semester. After this semester is over, I'll just have summer term and two classes in the Fall. My graduation date is December 9, 2006!

Anyway ... work has been very slow. When I have absolutely nothing to do, I read blogs. Yesterday, I came accross a whole bunch of chess blogs. One of them is the blog I mentioned above. After reading it today, I got to thinking that I would like do what he did ... track my tactics training and my chess improvement in general. Of course, I'll have to wait until I'm done with school to really get into it. So tonight, I was dinking around on the blogger during my study break. I thought I'd register my FICS handle and use it for a blog name. I attempted to register it, but found that it had already been taken (!?). So I tried to log in with the name and used a few old passwords and lo and behold I'm in! To my amazement, I found this old MBA blog. I had completly forgotten I had set this one up!

So tonight, I've been updating it and making it look nice.

Obviously, I'm not going to post here a whole lot. Maybe I'll post some info about the classes I'm taking and the teachers who teach them. That ought to provide some humor! Then, when I'm done with school, I'll pick up where I left off two years ago ... improving at chess!