Friday, November 30, 2007

Time to Pay

Here I am, the classwork from my first semester in my MBA curriculum all but done. It's almost midnight, which means I'm just about 12 hours away from perhaps the most dreaded exercise of the entire semester: our in-class final for Accounting. It's worth 20% of our grade, and all of us are predicting mass failure. The biggest surprise this semester has been that Accounting was much less enjoyable and much more difficult than Stats-- going into the semester, I had assumed the opposite would be true. In the end, I really enjoyed Stats and learned a lot, but Accounting has been sheer punishment at every turn.

Much of this is due to the fact that accounting is, as a general profession, torturous. Why anyone goes into this field voluntarily, I'll never know. They clearly possess a mindset I'll never grasp. I think it takes a certain--maybe a sick--mind to actually enjoy accounting. All semester I've struggled through quizzes that make me more angry than learned, more frustrated than eager to learn. Maybe that motivation works for undergraduates, but for people at my stage of life, it just makes me want to smack the professor.

Today in class, the professor said he assumed we'd all spent 10-15 hours studying for tomorrow's final. That sounds like something an undergrad might have time to do, but I gotta tell you, I sure as hell don't. So I gave studying a shot tonight, reviewing the book and trying some cash flow statement construction, and I'll study bonds and shareholder's equity for another 30 minutes tomorrow, but more than that I just can't do. I've long since ceased enjoying the class, and I'm mad as hell about having to take a traditional in-class final tomorrow, so at this point I'm just like "bring it on, pal."

The question is: will I be mentally prepared to face the music tomorrow? Will I be able to confront an exam I likely will not finish, and be ok walking out once time expires? It's something I would have lost sleep over in college, but at this point, life is way more important than this little Accounting class.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

B's are......Bokay?

Well, time to put your money where your mouth is. All along I've been telling myself I'm not in this MBA program for grades-- I'm in it for the degree and the experience. Well, I seem to be stuck writhing beneath the thumb of a devious Accounting professor who thinks trickery is more important than actual learning, so after taking the midterm 2 of 2 allotted times, my highest score is an 83.3%. Pretty good, given the hell the professor put us through.

Now, seriously facing a "B" in this class, I need to remember what I've been saying to myself all along: that I'm not in this program for the grades. In all things, I try to use the 10-year test: in 10 years, will really matter? My Accounting midterm score won't matter, the Accounting class itself won't matter, none of my grades will matter (assuming I still graduate), and even the MBA itself will only matter in the most indirect of senses. So why sweat the small stuff?

Thankfully, as with most things these days, I'm almost too tired to care.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Entering Hell

Remember about how I've said when you feel peaceful and like you're caught up with your classwork, it usually means you've forgotten something or that you're not working as far ahead as you need to be? I'm in that very situation now-- it's been weeks since I used the part of my brain dedicated to my Accounting class, and now that's all coming back to bite me. Although we don't have class again for two weeks, tonight is the official beginning of Accounting Hell Weeks.

Check it out:
  1. Take-home final due in four days, covering seven chapters (only six of which I've read as of tonight). Two chances to take the final, each 60 minutes. 30 questions. Immeasurable pain and suffering.
  2. Take-home questions from the final. Due November 16. Seems easy, but the questions themselves are impossibly difficult, and wait until you read all the rest of the crap that's due on the 16th and 17th as well.
  3. Textbook chapters 8-9, along with homework problems, both due November 16.
  4. Textbook chapters 10-11, along with homework problems, both due November 17.

Normally this would be a bone-crushing load, but to add to it, we've also got Organizational Behavior reading and homework to do-- including reading an entire book! And there's also a session of Ops Management, with homework, due that same weekend.

I think I may slip into a coma at 4:30pm on Saturday the 17th, when all this crap is done and handed in. Stay tuned, and please say a prayer for me if you have a little Altar of Accounting anywhere in your home or office.

Taste of Pain

They treat us pretty well at this executive MBA program: catered breakfast, lunch, and snacks at every session. Along with that comes mountains of soda-- all you can drink, in fact. Since the school has an exclusive contract with Coke, Coke is what we get. Right after the program began, I tried my first Coke Zero. For those of you who don't know, Coke Zero tastes just like regular coke but it's like Diet Coke (no calories, etc.). Only it doesn't taste like Diet Coke (I much prefer Diet Pepsi over Diet Coke)-- apparently there is a Diet Coke taste and a diet-but-tastes-like-normal-Coke taste. Coke Zero is the latter, and I liked it so much that I've since stocked up at home.

Only problem is, I've come to associate the taste of Coke Zero with the taste of pain: the pain of homework, the pain of impossible questions, the pain of utter sleep deprivation. So now I have all this Coke Zero in my fridge and I hate the taste of pain!


Once I graduated from college, I wondered how I was able to accomplish so much with so little sleep (informal analyses indicated that I plowed through college on an average of 3-4 hours' sleep each night). I realized that napping was the answer. There were numerous breaks in my college schedule, enough time to walk back to my dorm (later, off-campus housing) and catch a few Zzzzs. In the workplace, of course, you can't do this, but even Winston Churchill at the height of WWII was rumored to have taken a one-hour nap every day, so there must still be hidden value here.

While I still can't just conk out for a nap midday at the office, I am getting much better at taking shorter naps in the evenings (just before dinner) or on weekends. 20-40 minutes is enough for me, and it works much better than trying to make it through a late-night study session on caffeine alone.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

My Brain is Full

Here's a good indicator of just how jaded we're all getting: today in a breakout session to work on a financial model, one of our team members worked with us to run the model twice, then proudly declared, "OK, I get what we're supposed to learn here. I'm done." That was about 10 minutes into our 75 minute exercise. Rock on.

Let Me Listen

Higher education has to be one of the only environments were you can have a professor walk up to a group of students arguing in the hall an offer to moderate their argument. This morning while getting my second cup of coffee, our Ethics professor walked up to a group of students from the other class who were arguing and said, "if you two are arguing, I would like to listen in to observe and maybe help mediate."

Wouldn't it be great if we had people like this in our offices, offering to help us resolve our differences?

Friday, November 2, 2007

On Language

Today in our OB class, the professor used the word "irregardless." I really don't think that's a word. Do you think I'm entitled to a refund for a portion of my tuition? Shouldn't we have the right to expect that our professors will at least use proper English?

As says:

Usage Note: Irregardless is a word that many mistakenly believe to be correct usage in formal style, when in fact it is used chiefly in nonstandard speech or casual writing. Coined in the United States in the early 20th century, it has met with a blizzard of condemnation for being an improper yoking of irrespective and regardless and for the logical absurdity of combining the negative ir- prefix and -less suffix in a single term. Although one might reasonably argue that it is no different from words with redundant affixes like debone and unravel, it has been considered a blunder for decades and will probably continue to be so.

Kinda makes you wonder, huh?


This is the first week I've basically phoned in this class. Until now, I've been luck enough not to have had significant amounts of "work" work to do at night, which is why I've been able to do my classwork at night. Lately, though, work has picked up significantly, to the point that I wasn't able to do any reading for the classes today. I'm having a conversation right now, in fact, with other classmates, many of whom apparently have also skipped the readings. And others are even debating skipping out on the afternoon class. So I think we're all reaching a point where we know what's required, we know the flow, and we know what we can let slide.

It's evolving into the art of minimum contribution!