5th Reunion Recap

Tuesday, May 31, 2005
I went to my 5th reunion this past weekend. At Princeton, reunions is a very big deal. About 70% of the class comes back for each of the major reunions so it ends up being a pretty big deal. I wasn't going to go back initially but overall I'm glad I did.

I had a good time but I don't know if I will be going back to any of the next major reunions. I know I will go back to the 25th, only because its the largest of the reunions, but other than that I doubt I will go to the 10th, 15th, or 20th. Don't get me wrong, I had a good time, but it wasn't the best time I ever had and its kind of a pain in the butt to go all the way from California.

I guess my big problem with the whole thing was that there is a lot of fake politeness that goes on. The typical conversation is always.

"Hey, how are you? Where are you at? What do you do?"

I had that conversation literally 50 times this weekend. Again, it was good to see people I haven't seen in a while but it isn't something I really want to go out of my way to do again. I also think the weekend was a few hours too long. I got to Princeton Friday afternoon. I got to catch up with people Friday night which was great. Saturday afternoon is the P-Rade which is a great opportunity to catch up with even more people. But by the end of it, around 5:00 p.m., you have kind of caught up with everyone you want to catch up with. Later in the evening is more drinking and partying but I'm not that much of a big party person any more. I'm not trying to relive my college days and nor do I enjoy traveling with a hangover. So for me, Saturday night was kind of a waste except for the fact that I had a real good conversation with someone who was real important to me. Except for that, I was tired of having my 5 minute conversations with a bunch of people I won't talk to again for another 20 years.

But again, great event. Princeton really does a great job of pulling it all together. Really does a great job of instilling a sense of community and family. No wonder it has like a 70% alumni giving rate.

Poor Bambi

Wednesday, May 25, 2005
Bambi gets it bad. Bambi might be just the most feminine name there is but do people realize that Bambi was a male deer? Not only was he a male deer but he was prince, and eventually king of the forest.

How did Bambi become such a feminine name? I know Bambi was a pretty cute deer but jeez, to be synonymous with girls is just a little much. Poor guy. Was Bambi even a name before the Disney movie came out?

I Thought This Degree Was Supposed to Work For Me?

Monday, May 23, 2005
I have now been on two dates where the date told me they were kind of concerned about me when they heard I went to Princeton. Their concern? They were worried that I was going to be arrogant.

OK, look. I don't mind if you think I'm arrogant after you get to know me, I will admit that I can definitely come off that way. But how come these women have an automatic negative stereotype of Princeton men? I would have thought my degree would have worked for me, that it would signal that I'm smart, driven, etc. But so far, my dates with Non-Princeton women have resulted in my dates telling me that they were worried about me, that I would be cocky and obsessed with my job.

Why I Hate Technology

Thursday, May 19, 2005
I just spent the last few days trying to get a demo for work to work. We had a similar demo last year but for some reason when I tried to port it over to a newer platform it wasn't working.

I did everything to debug it. I tried installing older versions of the program, combing through it and every related programs' configuration file, and actually looking at the code. None of this was successful.

Than, by chance, I found a small post on a message board that told me exactly what was wrong It ends up being that in the version of Linux I was using, Fedora Core 3, a new feature was added that basically stops programs from being able to execute certain commands. By simply changing ONE WORD in a configuration file from "enforcing" to "disabled" fixed the whole thing.

3 days - One Word. I was overjoyed that I found my problem but still so angry that it was all caused by a single solitary word. Got to love technology.

You Can't Understand the Power of the Dark Side!

Wednesday, May 18, 2005
In case you live under a rock and don't know it Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith opens tonight. On my way to lunch I passed by a movie theater and saw a small but significant line already forming for people wishing to catch the midnight show.

I really just don't understand this mentality at all. Do you really have to be the first? Is it so bad to wait a few hours and catch it first thing in the morning? Better yet, be like me and wait a week or two before catching it just to avoid standing in any sort of line at all.

I guess there is something to be said about watching a movie with a bunch of other crazed fans like yourself, and I do mean CRAZED. Where else are you going to get people dressing up in costume to go to the movies? Maybe Lord of the Rings but Tolkien fans are freaks too.

Found: Hot Asian Male

Monday, May 16, 2005
Thanks to Lisa and Amanda, several people have found their way to my blog by searching for "Hot Asian Men" on Google. Thanks guys.

Just Another Reason to Pay Your IT Department Well

Morgan Stanley is in big trouble. In a lawsuit filed by Ron Perelman, Morgan Stanley is accused of defrauding Mr. Perelman. Morgan Stanley was ordered by the court to produce a slew of e-mails. An executive at Morgan Stanley signed an affidavit stating that all documents had been turned over. But then backup tapes continued to pop up, many contained critical e-mails. As more and more tapes were found, 1600 in all, the judge ruled that Morgan Stanley was deliberately acting in bad faith and in an unprecedented legal move, ordered the jury to just assume that Morgan Stanley had indeed helped to defraud Mr Perelman.

Mr Perelman had earlier offered to settle for $20 million. Morgan Stanley rejected the offer. He then sued for $2.7 Billion dollars. That is a VERY big difference and Morgan Stanley looks almost certain to lose, albeit probably not for $2.7 Billion.

Morgan Stanley blames the problem on technical glitches and their inability to perform full searches and provide complete and accurate data. IT is one of those things that you don't really think of until something goes wrong, and then it REALLY goes wrong; sometimes to the tune of $2.7 Billion.

Who is Responsible?

Thursday, May 12, 2005
A Judge ruled yesterday that United Airlines will be allowed to default on its Pension obligations. Why should you care? Because you are about to pay for it instead.

When companies like this default on their pensions, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation assumes responsibility for the plan. This government backed agency is funded by your tax dollars. I no doubt have sympathy for the thousands of workers who will now see a reduction (as opposed to an outright removal) of benefits when responsibility is transferred to the Guaranty Corporation. But should the government really step in here?

Think about it. It now gives an incentive for other large companies to default on their obligations. United now has a large advantage in the airline industry because it is no longer saddled with this debt. Imagine, if GM (remember my post a few post ago) does the same thing. Believe me its possible. We could see a wave of companies declare bankruptcy, default on their obligations, and be allowed to continue on running a business. That's absurd.

But now the burden is placed on the Taxpayers, YOU are now forced to pay for these benefits even if you have never flown on United or if you never flown on an airplane at all. How fair is that?

I'm not sure what the answer is. I wouldn't want to see 1000's of workers on the street but at the same time I refuse to say that everyone else is responsible either. I certainly don't think United should be allowed to continue to operate without having to pay for these obligations at some point.

How Stupid Do You Have to Be?

Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Imagine you sign a contract that is worth several million dollars. For this money, all you have to do is do something you love to do anyway. The only restriction is that you don't do anything crazy off the job and get yourself physically injured so that you are unable to perform your job. Even if you get hurt on the job, you will still receive the money due you and insurance will cover most anything else. Explicitly in this contract it states you can't do overly dangerous things like hang glide, sky dive, or ride a motorcycle, at least without the explicit permission of the other party. Now would you go and ride the bike?

I know I wouldn't. At the very least, I might attempt to get the permission of the other party but even if they said no, I'm certainly not risking several million dollars for the thrill and excitement of riding a bike. Well that is exactly what Kevin Winslow of the Cleveland Browns did when he got on a motorcycle and crashed, possibly ending his career and putting his contract in jeopardy.

Some are giving him a lot of sympathy. They point out that he is young and stupid and that he didn't know any better. While I certainly don't wish anyone to be injured, especially seriously, at what point does "He is young and stupid?" stop working? Kevin Winslow is almost 22 years old, he is playing a man's game. When does he have to take a man's responsibility?

Some argue that the Browns should do the nice thing and let him keep his money. After all, aren't they rich and can't they afford it? I really hate this argument. I really don't care how much money anyone has. The Cleveland Browns made a huge investment in Kevin Winslow. He was a first round draft pick, 6th overall. First round draft picks are vital to the success of an NFL franchise and Kevin Winslow betrayed the faith the Browns put him in by getting on that motorcycle. He made the decision, he made the error, and now he should live with the consequences.

Of course there is a double standard here. He has lots of talent and so the Browns will probably forgive him if his injuries turn out to not be that serious. Reminds me of how in High School when I was on the basketball team the best players could get away with murder. They could show up late, be lazy during practice, and just get away with it while the rest of us had to tow the line or else. Even being on the short end of the stick, I understood it then and I will understand it now if that is how the Browns decide to handle it. Completely unfair, but life is hardly if ever fair.

Jude Law IS in every movie

Monday, May 09, 2005
Chris Rock joked during the Oscars that Jude Law is in every movie. He might be right. Here is a list of movies I have seen in the last two month with Jude Law.

Sky Captain
I Heart Huckabees
Cold Mountain
Road to Perdition
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

I have seen other things he has been in but this is just the list from the last two months. This guy must be working overtime.

Death of the American Automobile Industry

Friday, May 06, 2005
Slowly but surely the American auto-industry will die a slow and painful death.

My family never buys American cars. Other than some false sense of patriotism we never understood why someone would want to buy one. Koreans do it cheaper, the Japanese do it with higher quality, and the Europeans do it with more flair and performance. I've driven plenty of American cars because it is what you normally get when you rent a car and I have never really enjoyed my experience.

But all signs point to problems with the American auto industry. A recent WSJ article pointed out a sharp decline of truck and SUV sales in Texas. Yes, Texas. GM and Ford both make the majority of their profits from SUVs and Trucks and god knows if Texans, who are notoriously stubborn about their trucks, are giving up their gas-guzzlers you know that segment is going to take a turn for the worse.

Add on top of that the huge problem facing American manufacturers in terms of benefits. Both GM and Ford have huge outstanding pension and benefit costs that puts them at a significant disadvantage in the marketplace. Part of every dollar earned must be diverted not to making products better but to pay for work done in the past. It's like buying on credit, at some point its going to come bite you in the ass.

And just another blow to the industry. S&P just downgraded both GM and Ford bonds to Junk status. Yes JUNK status. Not only does this point out that most of the industry believes GM and Ford will default on their obligations but it makes it extremely difficult for them to raise money through the debt markets because they will have to pay a higher premium.

People cry out that America needs its auto industry. I say that is hogwash. I am bullish on the American economy and I know that America is resilient. Once America was the king of the Textile industry until cheap Asian labor took that market away. I didn't see the American economy collapse when that happened and I'm sure it won't happen this time either. America will find a way to bounce back.

The Flip

Wednesday, May 04, 2005
I was talking to a girl the other night who said something to me that somewhat insulted me. I was only a little upset but we talked about it for a few minutes.

At the end of the discussion she said, "I'm kind of hurt that you thought I meant that in an offensive way".

I quickly responded, "Don't be a women and try to flip this on me. You said something bad and now you want ME to feel bad about it?"

She immediately broke into laughter and chuckled, "You caught me!"

Women are hilarious with what they try and get away with.

The Great Filibuster

Tuesday, May 03, 2005
I love my alma mater. Going on at Princeton right now is the Frist Filibuster. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is a princeton alum and is contemplating "going nuclear" in the Senate. In protest, the Princeton community has set up a piece of theater and is performing a non-stop filibuster in front of the very building which Bill Frist's family donated money to create.

I'm glad that the protest has been allowed to continue. It is important that all ideas, even those you don't agree with, get heard. That being said, I will say that eliminating the Filibuster in the Senate is a bad idea. It is vital in our country that minority opinions are heard. It is important that the majority does not impose its beliefs of the minority. The same of course can be said of the minority opinion, they should not be allowed to overrule the majority. Where is the line?

I know what I think about this, but that may be a topic for another day.

Who Would Your Parents Be?

Monday, May 02, 2005
I feel like I need a completely frivolous post so I will pose a question someone asked me.

If you could choose any two famous people to be your parents, who would you choose and why?

I chose Warren Buffett and Serena Williams. OK, odd combination I know but let me explain. Buffet, not because he is rich but because he is successful, intelligent, and very humble. He has a folksy humor and wisdom that I find particularly charming.

I would choose Serena Williams because I love sports and want an athletic gene. I didn't want to pick a male athlete because

A) most of them cheat on their spouses and would make lousy fathers
B) I wanted to pick Warren Buffett
C) I'm pretty sure Serena could beat up most male Athletes.
D) racial harmony and I have always liked how mixes look. :)

So what would you do?