Monday, July 26, 2010

Been to Corinthians, now its time for Sao Paolo FC

I'm going to Brazil in late September, but have quite a bit of flexibility in my exact trip timing.

Obviously that means I'm timing my trip around soccer games. Last trip to Sao Paolo only Corinthians was playing, so I got to see Ronaldo play at the Pacaembu. Pretty awesome stadium; come to think of it I'm not sure I ever put up pictures.

My tentative dates for travel this time leave me with two home games for Sao Paolo Football Club, meaning I should be in good shape to see at least one game at the Morumbi. Of course, Corinthians is currently top of the table, so I may have to shift dates around to see if I can go watch Corinthians again, who also have signed 37 year old Roberto Carlos.

Friday, July 23, 2010

lol MBAaments

In 2003, I graduated from Rice. Every business school admissions cycle since, I have considered applying to MBA programs. I even wrote the essays a few times, but I never sent an application in. No regrets; I wasn't ready nor certain enough at the time to make a $100k+ investment.

But I'm certain that I'm applying this year and that means I have to start selecting my application list. At about $300 per application (fee + sending GMAT score fee) plus the considerable time investment, it's a choice that requires careful thought. The funny thing though is how in flux this list is. If you asked me a week ago, you'd get a completely different list, and a month ago, another one entirely.

Nearly 100% that I apply: Wharton, Texas, MIT Sloan, Yale. Wharton is known as the finance MBA, but I'm also going to have a foreigner wife and a newborn so being close to my family in Philadelphia is a pretty key reason to choose Wharton. Sloan is entrepreneurial and quantitative, plus carries MIT along with it, which has tons of nerd cachet. Yale is historically not a great MBA program but has recently risen dramatically in the rankings and shown a commitment to improving its program. As a value investor, it looks like a bargain: exactly the sort of school which will be higher ranked in the future than it is now. Texas is my safe school: as an in-state resident, if I don't get into Texas or the other 7 or so schools where I am likely to apply, I have to consider whether I should be paying $100k to get an MBA. But Texas has some factors that make it an extremely attractive safe school: in Texas, weather, Austin, 1/2 the price of other MBAs, local recruiting, etc. It's definitely plausible that I get into bigger name schools yet go to UT. On the other hand, my interactions with the McCombs admissions folks have definitely left me...less than palpably excited about McCombs.

Very good chance: Stanford, Chicago, Kellogg. Stanford is something of a dream school, but it's also the most expensive application fee which I find annoying even though it makes sense as they are by far the most difficult MBA to get into. I like the way they structure their essays though: classy and intelligent. Chicago is known as a finance school, which I dig, but I'm still a bit hurt that they rejected me for law school 7 years ago, although I'm glad they did. Probably not rational, but I think it's important to fight to be rational only where it truly matters. I don't really like their "make a powerpoint presentation about yourself" essay question either. It strikes me as slightly inane. Northwestern is obviously also a great school, but I'm not so sure how well I'd handle the cold of Chicago.

In flux: Harvard, Duke, Dartmouth, NYU/Columbia. At many points, I would have had Harvard on my definite list, but for whatever reason it's currently here. Dartmouth is a fantastic school, but cold, kinda middle of nowhere, and not in a city. Lack of a brand name like Harvard* doesn't help if I need to get a job in Argentina because the wife wants to come home. Duke has a good name, good weather, high quality of life, but I'm not sure I envision a scenario where I go there over Texas. NYU/Columbia are on the list simply because I'm not sure I want to be in NYC with a newborn.

* When I went to the Stanford MBA presentation a year or two ago, I was pretty amused by the Stanford folks having to give more of a hard sell than they seemed to be used to. The highest caliber Argentine applicants want to go to Harvard, because it's better known than Stanford here.

24 hours later: Columbia has jumped to the "nearly 100% that I apply" list. Funny how that works.

Further update: List has changed, also I forgot to put Acton MBA on this list.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Ah, Brazil, all you so you can have your feelings of revenge

According to the Brazilian consulate in Buenos Aires, in order to get a tourist visa, one must make an appointment by phone. Of course, if you call the number provided, you'll find that it's out of service.

That sounds like a Jennifer Noronha-designed system to me: as citizen-unfriendly as possible!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

On dealing with the federal bureaucracy known as Jennifer Noronha

Since the US Embassy of Buenos Aires rejected my wife for a tourist visa, I've had a wonderful education in just how immovable the federal bureaucracy is.

I've filed a complaint with my congressman, John Culberson out of Houston. His staff forwarded my complaint, and we received back a response filled with spin and falseties from Jennifer Noronha, the consul general of the US Embassy to Argentina in Buenos Aires. I had Culberson's staff complain again, pointing out the inconsistencies in Jennifer W. Noronha's response. Ms. Noronha sent us back the bureaucractic equivalent of a middle-finger.

So, I complained to my Senator. Same thing, except this time Jen Noronha decided to simply forward to the Senator's office the original response, but with names changed. She continues to help the interviewing consular officer coverup the fact that the original officer didn't know the law.

Now, the day after we were treated so horribly by the US Embassy, we found out that Ceci is pregnant, so we wouldn't have been visiting the US anyway (our plans were that we would have been there right now).

Even so, Jennifer Noronha refuses to reply to any of my polite emails. She refuses to take her job seriously as consul general of the US Embassy. She even refuses to reply to any specific details I've raised in my complaints. I'm very tempted to tell our story and Consular General Noronha's role in it and then make it the first result in Google for "Jennifer Noronha" and all variations.

It doesn't seem right that federal bureaucrats can act with such mendacious impunity and no one ever knows about it.

Edit to note: amusingly, this is already the #1 result for Jennifer Noronha, and it's not even the result of work that I could do to make sure that it stays the #1 result for the next 20 years.
Edit 2: probably depends on your data center, as this post is now 11th or so when I just searched it.

A reading sofa

You know what I've wanted all my life? A sofa where I could lie down, face-down, and read. That is, it would have a slot open for the eyes, and it wouldn't be too high off the ground from the book. It'd also need to be convenient to turn the pages. And obviously, face-area comfort is a must.

I've wanted one of these since I was 6 or so. Apparently I'm the only one in the world who wants one.