Saturday, December 25, 2010

Vibrams Five Fingers Bikila

I usually buy new running shoes ever year or two. This time, I decided to try something different. A few weeks ago I bought a pair of Vibrams Five Fingers Bikila. What the heck are those? Shoes, socks, or something else? I guess 'something else' is most appropriate.

I have had a long and disappointing history with running shoes. You see, I have a normal but lowish arch in my left foot and a flat right foot. My legs also curve outwards from my knee before coming down to my feet - the term for this is 'bow-shaped'. My feet are also relatively big and wide. Put together, I don't have the ideal build for running. Yet, I do it anyways because I enjoy it. Despite my awkward build, I slowly clawed my way to the finish in the 2004 Boston Marathon, one of my proudest accomplishments.

In the last few years I have mostly bought Brooks Stability and Asics Motion Control shoes. These shoes, especially the latter one, are built for people like me who 'over-pronate'. The feet of over-pronators bend inwards at the moment the foot strikes the ground because the runner lacks an arch to counter-balance inward movement foot. This results in excessive pressure on the knee and meniscus. As a result of this pressure, I have torn the meniscus in each of my knees (although only the right foot is flat). This injury takes a long time to heal. A few years ago I started wearing Superfeet orthotics in my shoes to provide additional arch support.

While the orthotics and shoes have reduced pressure on my knees, they have taken the fun out of running. The arch support can be especially uncomfortable and can pinch my feet where I'm lacking an arch. So, after going on a run with a classmate who was wearing the Vibrams shoe, I decided to get a pair for myself.

Vibrams has historically made the soles of shoes. For example, my Merrill hiking shoes have soles made by Vibrams. In the last few years, they have ventured into shoes. Vibrams Five Fingers are meant to simulate barefoot running, the act of running without shoes. Proponents of barefoot running believe that humans were built to run and are quite capable of running without shoes. This is essentially the premise of Born to Run a book (which I hope to read) about the barefoot running habits of humans. However, years of wearing shoes have weakened numerous muscles that are no longer needed when shoes do the work. One example of a weakened muscle is the Achilles tendon, which grows shorter when people wear shoes with heels. Shoes have also changed the biomechanic motion of running. Because shoes contain significant shock absorbing material in the heel, runners can land on their heels (a heel strike) and take long strides without pain. However, this is not the correct /natural motion for running. Rather, the barefoot method of running involves striking in the midfoot and taking shorter strides.

The Bikila, which costs about $100, is the running model of the Vibrams Five Fingers. The shoes features five slots for the five toes, a strap for holding the shoe on, and light tread on the soles of the shoe. There is no lift in the heel. All of this means that running in the Bikila is pretty darn close to running barefoot.

City Sports in Philadelphia, where I bought my shoes, is a big believer in Vibrams and has figured the shoes prominently in the center of their shoe section. Traditional shoe manufacturers have taken notice as well - Nike, Adidas, and others have started making their own minimalist shoes. Vibrams has the potential to really shake up the shoe industry. As shoe technology gets more complex (Nike Air Max, Reebok air pump, Speva Asics sole, etc.), Vibrams says simple is better. I do believe that the barefoot running movement is symptomatic of the minimalist trend that is taking place in the world: 'raw' or 'organic' diets, increased privacy in computer software, etc. The minimalist movement says that we should get back to basics.

I have now run 6 times in my Vibrams: 2 miles on the treadmill, 3 miles on the treadmill, 7 miles outside on the Schuylkill river path, 3.2 miles on the Schuylkill path, 3.4 miles around my house, and 3.4 miles around my house. Here are my experiences so far:

  • Socks are needed. When I ran without socks, I got some chafing above my right heel and on the side of my foot just below my big toe. So I bought socks with toe holes and the chafing doesn't happen. The Bikilas are also a little hot so I like the thin socks/liners unless I'm running in the cold.

  • The shoes work a lot of muscles that I don't typically use, so there has been a significant adjustment period. I have had soreness in my Achilles tendon, lower calf, and in my right calcaneofibular ligament, which goes from the ankle to the outside of the foot. Because there is no arch support in the Bikilas, my foot does move inward, which is putting pressure on this ligament in my right foot. Hopefully all of this soreness goes away as the muscles get stronger.

  • I have had some arch pain in my right foot. This will need to be monitored.

  • I may have slightly injured my left knee. A few sessions ago, I tried to run fast and probably the landed the wrong way on one of my strides, causing shock to my left knee. Hopefully it's not a big deal and will heal with time. I'm continuing to carefully run though as there is no shooting pain.

  • So far I haven't had any issues with running over rocks. The soles dull the impact of most stones - I can still feel them but generally don't get any sharp pain.

  • I felt self-conscious wearing these odd-looking shoes the first few times, but not anymore.

  • My running form seems to be changing. I'm consciously avoiding the heel strike and am trying to take smaller slides, while lifting my knees.

  • Most importantly, it's a lot of fun to run in these shoes. I get valuable 'ground feedback' with these shoes. It's especially fun to run on soft surfaces like grass or mud. I am also able to run faster since my arches have an opportunity to expand and contract, giving me a bounce in my step. Also, I am able to push off my toes, something I can't do in regular shoes.

  • I've had a positive-enough experience with the shoes to want to get another pair of Vibrams. I have my eye on the black Trek-Sport model, which I can use for hiking.

So there you have it. I really like the Vibrams Bikilas. To be fair, I have had some issues, particularly the knee injury and soreness in my right foot. However, the best thing about the shoes is knowing that they haven't caused the injuries, so you can't blame them. If things heal up properly, I'd like to do a 10 mile run in the Bikilas when I get back to Philly. I think I'm only going to attempt this in 30+ weather, though.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

HCMG 890

I can safely conclude that HCMG 890 - a.k.a. Medical Device Seminar, is my favorite class of my first semester at Wharton. The picture to the left illustrates a transcatheter aortic valve replacement procedure. The Transcatheter Valve is possibly the most cutting edge piece of technology in interventional cardiology.

HCMG 890 meets once a week on Wednesday from 4:30pm - 7:30pm. During this time, we hear from various industry speakers on various medical device topics. The class has a good mix of science and business - in the end I am always more excited when the primary discussion is science, with some business mixed in.

The best thing about the class is the opportunity to have dinner with the speakers. So far, we have had entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, Medtronic VPs, medical device sales managers, medical device lobbying groups, etc. At these dinners, food, drink, conversation, and money flows freely. This class might be the best kept academic secret at Wharton.

There is an interesting conflict in the perception of medical devices. On the one hand, these devices are exceedingly simple - what are clips, stents, and catheters but clips, barbed wire, and tubes? Yet they cost tremendous sums of money, which insurance companies pay. Ultimately, slight differences in the geometries and materials of these products can have slight differences in clinical effectiveness. But this industry persists on slight differences. Because, in the end, how much would you pay to mitigate adverse reactions (like death) by 3%, or to increase blood flow by 2%? Apparently you would pay a lot (but that number is probably coming down).

Until we can elegantly solve these problems before they start using gene therapy, we'll have a need for devices.

If these devices excite you, check out some of the clips below. If they don't excite you, check out these clips anyway, and you might get excited:

Mitral Clip:

Transcatheter aortic valve replacement:

Monday, November 1, 2010

Medtronic BD Competition

This past weekend I worked with two teammates on the Medtronic Business Development case competition. Our objective was to present a BD strategy for Medtronic's Surgical Technologies division. The Surgical Technologies division is comprised of ENT tools, Neurosurgery tools, and Navigation / Imaging tools. My team worked Friday, Saturday, and Sunday to come up with our BD strategy:

1) Partnership with ENTrigue, a venture-backed company developing surgical tools for ENT doctors.
2) Partnership with Xoran, maker of portable ENT CT scanners.
3) Partnership with Cochlear, maker of implanted hearing devices for the severely hearing impaired.

Unfortunately, we did not progress to the finals. But, it was still a good learning experience. BD is extremely open-ended, and I don't think there are any right or wrong acquisition targets. Success will depend on execution. But, without intimate knowledge of the division and its needs, it's hard to do well in this kind of case.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Q1 Ends, Q2 Begins

The whirlwind that was Q1 ended yesterday, and now the whirlwind that is Q2 begins. The focus of Q1 was squarely on academics. I got through it, but it wasn't pretty (not that it needed to be). Accelerated accounting was the toughest class, but also, surprisingly, it was the most interesting. I'm no fan of accounting, but the cases we did illustrated that general managers need to know enough about accounting in order to make informed management decisions.

My other classes varied in quality but were generally good. My heart just wasn't in Finance. I did finance in undergrad and having worked in it, I view this subject as too theoretical. Statistics was interesting and should be especially useful for me, though the pace was slow. Marketing was fun and well taught. Healthcare Systems is a full semester class that often seems too high level to be practical.

All in all though, I was pretty impressed with the classes in Q1. Most of my classes had cold calling which I think is a great way to elicit class participation. The quality of discussion was high and few comments were extraneous. Lastly, people mostly showed up on time and were attentive, which was in stark contrast to a lot of my engineering classes, where there was very little classroom discipline.

Now Q2 begins, and the focus shifts from academics to recruiting. I am focused on industry companies and start ups with a preference for start-ups. Right now, I'm interested in product marketing positions because I think this will put me on the path to general management (having P&L responsibilities), and hopefully to CEO one day. In terms of classes, I will be taking Managing People at Work, Competitive Strategy, Healthcare Systems, and Medical Devices. This set of classes will be less technical / quantitative then Q1 classes.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Strengths or Weaknesses?

It's 2:45pm on Thursday in the Lipincott Library, and my Accelerated Accounting Final is in 3 hours and 15 minutes. I have all but thrown in the towel. I'm reading the words on the page but I don't understand what they mean. This reminds me of my undergrad days in classes like Microelectronics when the words on the page might well have been written in another language. It's an unsettling feeling of defeat. Pure and utter defeat. You don't want to give up, but giving up would be so comforting. Looks like this is going to be my first LT of my Wharton career. If I can avoid an LT here, it will be a small miracle. The irony? I got an A in this class in undergrad. I guess that tells you something about the quality of the competition at Wharton.

This led to a conversation with my neighbor in the library about strengths and weaknesses. At this point in our lives and careers, do we focus on our strengths or weaknesses? I'm starting to understand what my strengths and weaknesses are. I've usually considered myself to be 'well-rounded' in that I can hold my own in most areas. But, being that as it may, I've realized that you can't compare yourself to the general population. If you do, you'll come out pretty far ahead in most categories and won't really know what are your true strengths and weaknesses against the people who matter. Rather, you need to compare yourself to your peers (classmates for example), so the bar is set higher in every aspect. Then, with this new mean, see where you are relative to your peers. That will give you a better idea of your strengths and weaknesses.

My current thinking is to spend 3/4 of my time focusing on my strengths and 1/4 on my weaknesses. With my real career beginning now, there's not much time to waste doing things I'm not good at. I think my 20s were the time to address those weaknesses. What do you think? Should we focus on our strengths or weaknesses?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Hiking in the Poconos

Last Saturday I went hiking in the Poconos with 5 of my classmates. Thus I accomplished one of my goals for the Fall - seeing the leaves change color. We were supposed to do the Pinochot trail in the Lackawanna State Park here: The hiking was absolutely splendid, even though we didn't do the trails that we intended to do. I hate to say it, but the scenery was even more beautiful that the scenery in the hikes I've done in California. Clearly, different trees grow in the Northeast and there is more precipitation over here, so it's not uncommon to see random ponds and rivers. Contrast this to the fairly dry California climate. I can take solace in the fact that California still probably has a better coastline.

We left Philly at 7:30am, hiked from 10am to 3pm, and returned to Philly at 5pm (in time for Cohort Cup - Flag Football; Cohort B beat Cohort C by a score of 32 - 0. Yes, we are athletic). I would like to go hiking once more before all the leaves fall.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Small Victories

Wharton has been holding a writing competition for all 1st years, where 1st years are divided into groups of 6 and over three rounds they write three essays. The top scorer from each group gets to proceed to the semifinals. I'm one of those people!

The essay topics over the three rounds were:

1) If you could compose or perform music, which would you choose and why?
2) What is your favorite city and why?
3) Describe a time when you could have changed something said during an interview. This could be something said by an interviewer or interviewee.
What would you say in response to these questions?
Getting to the finals is tough though. Out of the approximately 137 people in the semifinals, I have heard that only 6 are selected to the finals. In a school where it's hard to shine because of the talent around you, this is indeed a small victory for me :)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Cohort Cup - Dodgeball

Cohort B came in 2nd place, losing to our hated in-cluster rivals, Cohort A. This was the first time Cohort B has ever lost in dodgeball. We won the learning team retreat dodgeball tournament (Cohorts A - F). Our strong attendance is usually the source of our victories.
In the official Cohort Cup tournament, we dominated the early rounds. We beat A and C to advance from our Cluster, and then beat Cohorts I and E to reach the final. In the final, we faced an A team that had doubled in size. Our first 5 minutes were terrible, and our best players were eliminated. The rest was history.

We came in 2nd place, earning us 11 points. But we also got 3 points for style, thanks to posters etc., so we're now first place in Cohort Cup. Only 1 second year showed up, which was pretty sad. Lack of attendance from 2nd years is going to hurt us.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Q1 Catchup

The pace of life has picked up substantially in the last few weeks, as if pre-term wasn't busy enough. I placed into Accelerated Accounting, Accelerated Finance, waived Managerial Economics, waived Operations and Information Management, and received permission to substitute an HR strategy class for Managing People at Work. I had planned to take more waiver exams, but I got tired of studying for the exams so decided to just take the classes.

My Q1 classes are:

Accelerated Accounting
Accelerated Finance
US Healthcare System
Marketing Strategy

I was waitlisted on the Quantico leadership venture, so I may try again in the Spring. This leadership venture takes you to a marine base to experience a day in the life of a Marine officer.

I got a new laptop because my old one crashed, and was luckily able to retrieve my old data. I also got my Droid X, and so far I love it.

Q1 is pretty busy, but I suspect later quarters won't be as busy. We had a Club Expo last week and I saw a lot of cool clubs, all of which I would like to join. But I will have to pick just a few and go with those. Right now, I'm thinking Soccer, Entrepreneurship, Surf and Beach club (the one we're starting), and maybe a few others.

That's all for now!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Pub + WGA Jersey Shore Party

Social Thursdays are here again. Yesterday I went to my first official Pub and later went to the WGA (Wharton Graduate Association) Jersey Shore party. Pub is simply awesome: all you can drink beer, wine, etc. and all you can eat pizza. It's a place for 1st and 2nd year's to congregate after a not-so-hard week of work. Have you ever seen the Smirnoff Ice commercials where bros 'ice' other bros? (by giving them a Smirnoff ice and forcing them to chug the bottle with one knee on the floor?) Well, I got iced. I actually had more fun at Pub than the Jersey Shore party.

Later I went to the Jersey Shore Party. I just started watching the show and I like it. The characters are over the top. It's a stupid show but it's entertaining. Funny thing is, I tend to go to the Jersey shore a lot for surfing. In fact I'm going on Sunday since we have an HCM party at a professor's house in Margate. I think we need to bring back 'man jewelry' - heavy chains, rings, etc. Interestingly, a lot of guys in India (the bhaiyas) dress like the Jersey shore cast. I'm hoping the Jersey Shore dressing style goes mainstream. Why be subtle when you can be loud?

The party itself was pretty fun, with everyone in costume. My costume was a little weak. I lacked jewelry or the loud, tight shirts that the guys wear on the show. One guy came dressed as Snooki. Just about every party at Wharton seems to be a theme party.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


As part of MGMT 652 - Foundations of Leadership and Teamwork, I had to take a personality test. My stats were compared to that of the incoming Wharton class (parenthetical data is the standard deviation):

Positive Affectivity4.09(.83)3.77(.90)
Negative Affectivity1.93(.92)2.55(1.13)
Decision Style: Maximizing / Satisficing 2.92(1.26)3.13(1.23)

Explanations of these traits can be found here:

What do you think, is this an accurate representation of me? (sorry for the big space, HTML tags are doing something weird to the page)

Poconos White Water Rafting

Last Sunday I went whitewater rafting with 11 friends from Wharton in the Lehigh area (about 2 hours from Philly). The river was an easy Class 2 - 3, so there was a lot of time for splashing and squirting other rafts with water guns. One of the fun things about rafting this river was that we guided our own raft, as opposed to having an experienced guide in the raft. About 30 rafts went in our session. The two Wharton rafts (of 6 people each) emerged in front of the pack - I guess our teamwork class paid off :) But having rafted about 15 times, I knew how to steer and guide the raft. Only one guy in our raft fell out of the raft (twice). I also rescued a stranger who was ejected from his raft (not that he was in any serious danger).

After rafting, we went to Jaipur for dinner, since it was on the way home. Luckily for us, the son of the owners of Jaipur is a first year at Wharton in the Healthcare Management program. So dinner was on the house - I had my favorite Sarson Saag and Jalapeno naan. I can't wait to go back!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Surfing, Round 2

I went back to Ocean City on Tuesday for another round of surfing. I went with one of my friends - we left at 6:45am and returned at 11:30am. This was perfect timing because my MGMT 652 simulation began at 12pm. My classmates were shocked that I could fit surfing in before class. Most didn't know where the beach was. Anyways, I had a much better outing this time because I wore a wetsuit and used a longer board. Plus, I was better at avoiding waves as I swimming out to the break point. Lastly, I'm getting into better shape, with my weight being down to 156 lbs now. As a result, I got up 3 times during the day. But the best part of the day was seeing dolphins - that's right - dolphins! They were about 100 feet from me.

I was going to go to the beach again this weekend because Hurricane Earl was supposed to create huge waves (8 - 12 feet) in New Jersey. The other term for 8 - 12 ft is double overhead - it's what good surfers dream of. Being a beginner, I wouldn't dream of surfing in double overhead conditions. Boards can break in those conditions. But I definitely would watch.

I'm now working on starting a surfing club with a bunch of other first years. I estimate that 50 - 100 students would be interested in becoming members. We may expand our club to include general beach visits and scuba diving. I was thinking about calling it the Wharton Waveriders, how does that sound?

Monday, August 30, 2010

Cohort B's Boathouse Bash

Last Friday, my cohort had a party at Bachelor's Boathouse on the Schulkyill River. One of my cohort mates' parents are members of the boathouse and allowed us to rent top floor of the boathouse for a party. The event was a potluck so I ordered samosas and pakoras from San Samosa (I have no idea how to make those things!). It was a warm, summer evening and a great night for a party. I'm pretty sure no other cohort had a party this cool. The view from the boathouse was nice, though not as nice as the Charles River of course. Ah, this takes me back to my crew days. Swanky parties on the river banks, I guess this is what b-schools is all about?

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Learning Team Retreat

I just got back from the Learning Team Retreat in Iriquois Springs, New York. The point of the retreat was for first year MBA students to to meet their learning teams and build leadership and teamwork skills with them. I already knew my learning team because all healthcare MBA students in a cohort will be on the same learning team. Thus when I met my cohort 3 weeks ago, I knew who my learning team would be.

We left at 6:30am from campus on Saturday morning and returned at 7pm on Sunday night. The retreat consisted of a lot team building simulations, most of which I had done before. I'm fairly skeptical of the value that simulations provide, because they are so different from what we'll actually be doing as a learning team. I've also done them several times, so it's hard to get excited about yet another 'trust fall'. The camp itself was beautiful, although it rained on Sunday, which prevented us from going in the canoe (and possibly canoe tipping, which is the main reason to canoe).

The highlight of the weekend was the free time on Saturday night, which I spent playing dodge ball in a cohort competition. Cohort B, my cohort won the tournament, beating A, C, D, E, F, and G. Many of those cohorts joined forces to play us, since we had all our team playing but they each had half of their cohort playing. I did not get injured, thankfully, but many others did. Stretching and warming up are crucial - I can't stress that enough.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Competitive Strategy

My big win of the pre-term auction was Competitive Strategy, taught by Nicolaj Siggelkow (the professor who delivered our convocation address). It was a fascinating lecture on the nature of business competition. The 10 key factors currently affecting competition, according to Siggelkow, are:

1. Supply of natural resources
2. Speed of globalization
3. Trust in large corporations
4. Role of government
5. Consumption around the world
6. Growth of Asia
7. Speed of innovation
8. Future price stability
9. Aging population
10. Trust in models

We discussed a few interesting case studies. The first one was about the car industry and Toyota. Toyota has the most efficient manufacturing processes and Ford (or was it Chrysler) had tried everything to replicate Toyota's efficiency in their own plants. They failed, and eventually installed Toyota managers into one of their plants in exchange for helping Toyota sell into the American market. The lesson here was that it was the tactics used by the Japanese managers that did the trick.

The second case study though was Southwest. Southwest is incredibly successful through it's low cost, efficient model. Other airlines tried to copy Southwest by forming their own low cost subsidiary airlines, but were unsuccessful. The lesson from this case was that it's not 1 particular thing that creates a sustainable competitive advantage - it's about the system. And the system is harder to replicate.

Phillies vs. Giants

I bid 500 points on the Phillies game in the pre-term auction, thinking that the game would be expensive. The clearing price was only 10. The Giants won, 5-2. This was an important game since both teams are 2nd place in their division and are competing against each other for a wild card slot. But, few people from the Wharton crowd were focused on the game. Given that 35% of our class is international, many people didn't know how the game was played (just like kickball). Even I am not as passionate about Bay Area sports as I once was. Around 2004/5, I started losing interest (the demise of Barry Bonds and the departure of Steve Young). I eventually got bored and left the game in the 7th inning stretch. It's going to be a busy weekend with the Finance placement exam on Friday, another small group dinner on Friday night, and the learning team retreat on Saturday and Sunday.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Cohort Cup - Kickball!

Our first inter-cohort competition has ended - cohort kickball. What is kickball you might ask? That's a great question, given that half the people playing today didn't know the rules. But that's okay. Kickball is essentially 11-man baseball but instead of hitting a baseball with a bit you kick a red bouncy ball (the kind you used in foursquare when you were a kid).
Cohort B, my cohort, aka the Killer Bees did quite well. We were one of the last 3 teams when I went home due to injury (right quad and left calf). I must be getting older because I can't remember the last time I pulled a calf muscle. Need to stretch more.

Each of the 12 cohorts participated in an elimination style tournament. We beat Cohort A (our in-cluster rivals) and then C before losing to K. K played G but the game went into extra innings. When I left at7:45pm the game was still going on (the day started at 3pm). It was raining off and on all day.

The quote of the day, by Scott, my cohort-mate: "It's kind of sad that the best play in kickball is a slow roller to 3rd". True, because anything in the air is usually caught. Your best play is to bunt the ball to 3rd.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Vision before Execution

Today I attended a seminar called 'Vision before Execution', taught by Eric Clemons. I won this class in the pre-term auction. The topic of the class was essentially 'Risk Management' and how to predict undesirable events in the future. This can be done by analyzing patterns - 'remembering the future'. The class was a nice contrast to my other, more quant heavy pre-term classes (finance, accounting, managerial economics, and statistics). To be honest, I don't totally understand what the seminar was about, but it was entertaining. Some analogies cited were:

1) What to do when you're driving 150mph and your breaks don't work (turn off engine)
2) What to do when you land at an airport and 750 people are in line at customer service (book a hotel for a week)
3) Predicting the quagmire in Iraq (when people are fighting for non-economic reasons, it's hard to win)

It was nice to use a different part of my brain (the philosophical / conceptual part) for a change. Professor Clemons went on many tangents, and spent quite a bit of time talking about Brewmaster's Guild. In addition to consulting for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Department of Defense, Professor Clemons is a beer reviewer, works for Victory (a Philly brewery), and is an expert on barbeques.

The most important lesson from the lecture? Hop Devil by Victory is apparently a great beer.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Like a Ton of Bricks

Among other things, surfing is about persistence, and that's a lesson I learned today. I went surfing in Ocean City, NJ with 3 other Wharton classmates and had a great time though it was the hardest surfing I've done.

We left Philly at 6:30am and were in the water at 8:30am. We had 3 - 5 feet waves with weak onshore winds. I bought a rash guard (a tight shirt to protect the chest from scrapes and rashes) but it wasn't that effective. I rode a 9 feet board for 1 hour of the 1.5 hours I was in the water. The waves were 'pitchy' meaning that they crested quickly and broke abruptly, near shore. Apparently, this is how all of the surfing is on the east coast. I've been surfing 8 times in Santa Cruz, Half Moon Bay, Jaco (Costa Rica), Wakiki (Hawaii), Rabat (Morocco), and Oualidia (Morocco). All of the places I've surfed have had slower, rolling waves of a maximum of 2-3 feet.

Today's surfing was quite a bit harder. Wipe outs were more intense, which I wasn't prepared for. Getting pummelled by a wave was like being hit by a ton of bricks. Just swimming out 100 feet to the surfing spot was hard enough because one had to get through 4-5 strong waves. Several times I was knocked back to shore and had to start over. I was fairly defeated and demoralized about half way through the day. Today's session felt like white water rafting in Costa Rica back in 2003, when I rafted a choppy river just after it had rained and our raft flipped twice. I was shaken and didn't want to get back in the water for the rest of the trip, though I eventually did.

However, today I learned some new techniques for getting through waves out to the surf spot, which involved some combination of the following: ducking under the wave, leaning into the wave, jumping when the wave approached, turning sideways to let the water go past me, etc. After about an hour I got tired and switched to a classmate's body board. I wore fins, which made it harder to walk. However, with a body board, it's much easier to get through the waves because you can just swim through the waves and let the board come with you (it's attached to your bicep). The critical lesson I learned was that the force of the wave is highest right at the break point. So do your best to avoid hanging out in the spot where the wave breaks. Today, you would only get smacked around. But with waves that are over 6 feet, you could end up paralyzed or with a broken board. Not a good situation to be in.

While I barely got up on the board for about .5 seconds, today was an important day of learning. East coast surfing is tougher, and requires persistence to get through the waves and to recover from wipe outs. 3 feet waves feel like 10 feet waves, and wipe outs where your under water for 3 seconds feel like you're under water for 10 seconds: it feels worse than it looks. Mentally, I have to accept that almost every attempt to ride a wave is going to result in a wipe out, but when it happens I need to relax. In about 5 seconds (max), I'll be back up to the surface. I don't have great lung capacity but even I can hold my breath for about 30 seconds so there's no reason to panic. So I'm excited to get back to Ocean City for Round 2. The first time I was caught off guard, but next time I know what to expect. I plan to wear a wetsuit and bring a sizeable amount of determination to my surfing venture in Ocean City.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Marigold Kitchen

Yesterday I went to a 'Small Group Dinner' at Marigold, a Southern restaurant near campus at 45th and Larchwood. It was a high-end restaurant with pricey food, but the setting was fantastic (a house turned into a restaurant). We were seated in a private room upstairs. I've never had Southern food, and it was quite interesting. There were 10 of us at the dinner, and we were all from different cohorts. Conversation ranged from the conflict in Sudan to losing bets in drinking games to the Wharton Follies. For 10 people, we had 8 bottles of wine. How can you not have a great time with that ratio?

Thursday, August 5, 2010


The Wharton MBA Class of 2012 was treated to a lecture on the newest element discovered, 'Corporationium', delivered by Nicolaj Siggelkow. It was one of the sharpest and funniest speeches I've heard, and I guess the 4000 points or so that are need to win Professor Siggelkow's 'Competitive Strategy' class are well-deserved. After the speeches, the class gathered at the Penn Arts and Sciences Museum for a reception. The museum garden was just beautiful - it was the perfect setting for a reception. I enjoyed a nice, cold, lemonade with mint ice and cucumber. Very swanky. When will the royal treatment end? I hope never.

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