Sunday, January 31, 2010

Wharton Winter Welcome Weekend

The emotional thrill ride that was Wharton Winter Welcome Weekend (WWWW) came to an end this morning. For two days, about 150 Round 1 admits to the Wharton MBA program, including me, were congratulated and shepherded through various welcoming events.

On Thursday morning, we were officially welcomed to Wharton by senior folks in Wharton administration and were treated to lunch. I was fortunate enough to sit at a table with the Director of Admissions, J.J. Cutler. Most of our talk revolved around sports – baseball and football. After lunch, the admits broke into mini-cohorts – I was assigned to Cohort B. We broke into smaller teams and competed with other teams to use Tinker Toys to build as tall a structure as possible – apparently we’ll be doing stuff like this on the learning team retreat. I reluctantly stepped away from the activities for my CTT Commercialization class at 4pm, had a few slices of pizza at the monthly CTT meeting, and headed into Center City to La Viola for a Healthcare Management (HCM) dinner. After dinner, we went to Ladder 15 for some drinking (15th and Sansome).

On Friday, I attended an information session on Financial Aid in the morning. I then attended industry sessions on healthcare and entrepreneurship before attending a talk on global programs – Global Immersion Program (GIP), Global Consulting Practicum (GCP), and International Exchange Programs, including the Insead program. The best part of the weekend came next: Wharton Live. Admits were treated to 2 stand-up comedy acts, 2 comedy skits (one about Partners Club and the other about the Financial meltdown), a performance by Bateria (a Brazilian drumming group), and 2 songs by the Whartones. One of them was just awesome – it was, surprise, surprise, about the economic recession. I’m trying to figure out what the original song is called…The night’s festivities ended with yet another social at Fado (15th and Locust), where we once again took over the bar.

On Saturday morning, I attended a brunch hosted by the India club at New Delhi restaurant (40th and Chestnut).

It was a fantastic weekend, so much so that I just paid my deposit and enrolled online for the Wharton MBA Class of 2012! I am planning to attend the Spring Welcome Weekend, if only to hear Wharton Live once again.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chaat House

893 E. El Camino Real
Sunnyvale, CA
(Intersection of Wolfe and E. El Camino Real)

The Indian restaurant market in the Bay Area may be crowded, but Chaat House ( stands out as an excellent North Indian snack food restaurant. Over winter break, my cousin, who has been frequenting the establishment for the last 5 years, insisted that his mom and I give Chaat House a try. So, we went to Chaat House for lunch and ordered Chana Bhatura, Sprout Bhel, Bengan Bhartha, Sarason ka Saag, Aloo Paratha, Hara Bhara Paratha, Gulab Lassi, and Chaas.

The food was excellent, reasonably priced, and just the right amount for three hungry people. I was surprised by the food’s freshness and mildness (not too pungent or spicy). Of the above items, my favorite was Chana Bhatura. The atmosphere in Chaat House was also laid back and pleasant. We sat near the TV and watched song and dance numbers from old Hindi movies.

Give Chaat House a try if you’re in the mood for some light snacks that remind you of food from the old country.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Deal or No Deal?

During Winter Break, I watched an unusually high number of game shows since my grandmother, who loves game shows (and cheesy Indian soap operas), was at home. The most interesting one, by far, was Deal or No Deal ( Why? Because I can’t figure out if the show is pure genius or pure stupidity.

On the one hand, the game is just a measure of contestants’ risk tolerance. When more briefcases with large dollar amounts are opened, the probability that the contestant possesses a briefcase with a low dollar amount is higher; and vice versa. Contestants usually choose to reject the first few offers, either out of greed or a love of being on TV.

On the other hand, the genius of the show might be in how the deal is calculated. The deal seems to be computer-generated; if so, the Banker is there only ‘for show’. At first, I thought that the deal was just the expected value of the remaining amounts. The expected value is the remaining dollar amounts x the probability that they will be selected. But, this turns out not to be the case. I sat with my laptop and Excel open a few times while watching the show and the deal turned out to be lower than the expected value. Clearly, a more advanced algorithm is at work. The algorithm probably changes, as do the rules of the game, from time to time.

To his credit, Howie Mandell is an entertaining host. And while most game shows are high energy (The Price is Right, Family Feud, etc.), this one is larger than life given all its melodrama. But to me, nothing is more satisfying than watching a greedy contestant reject a deal and end up with a low amount. It’s like watching NASCAR for the car crashes!

Friday, January 1, 2010

Alamere Falls

Tucked away on the California coast at Point Reyes (just north of San Francisco), Alamere Falls offers some of the best scenery that Northern California has to offer. I first visited Alamere Falls in the summer, three years ago, with several friends from SAP. I was awestruck by the coastal beauty.

With those images still fresh in my mind, last week, I went back to Alamere Falls with a friend visiting from Philly. The trek was still beautiful - but this time in a wintery sort of way. The sky was overcast and the temperature was in the low 50s / high 40s. One of the good things about going in December, and later in the day, was the lack of people. We began the hike at 12pm, later than we would have liked, having gotten lost a few times en-route (we overshot the Sir Francis Drake exit by 20 miles off 101, just north of Sausalito). After a few hours of hiking, we reached the falls around 3pm. We relaxed, had lunch, and played some Frisbee. I also climbed down to the beach to get a better look at the falls. Unfortunately, the water level was disappointingly low. At 3:30pm, it started to drizzle, and we started back to the car. It was dark for most of the return hike. At about 6pm we reached the car and headed back home.

As far as coastal treks in Northern California go, Alamere Falls is one of the best. The view alternates between glimpses of the ocean and forests / brush in the hills. Unlike hill or mountain treks, the elevation changes only gradually in this trek. It feels more like a long, relaxing walk.

Catching up

Time flies - when you're having fun or when you're really busy. In my case, it has been the latter for the last several months. Hence the lack of blogging. After coming back from Cancun, I got right into the swing of things at school and haven't had any time to catch my breath - that is, until now.

I started with five classes and dropped one (advanced cell biology) to get to four: advanced molecular genetics, intro to genome science, intro to bioinformatics, and drug discovery development. After seeing my grades, I probably dropped the wrong class (molecular genetics didn't go so well). I also worked two part-time jobs - I continued my internship at Yaupon Therapeutics and started a new job at Penn's Center for Technology Transfer (CTT). As a CTT Fellow, I provide assessments on new inventions disclosed to the CTT. It's been a great experience - I'm learning how to look at new inventions from technical, business, and legal perspectives. In addition, I've been working on running the Biotech Investment Group with two other Wharton students.

Now I'm enjoying my winter break and am slowly gearing up for my return to Philly in a few weeks. Next semester is shaping up to be almost as busy as the last one. Whereas I focused on genetics last semester, this semester will be more about devices, my current interest, along with healthcare software. I'm scheduled to take Brain / Computer Interface, Tissue Engineering, and a CTT class (not for credit) on Lab to Market. I'm also hoping to take Healthcare Systems and another healthcare management class, though I'm not sure which one yet.

As for New Year's resolutions, I haven't completely decided on them just yet. But for one, I'm hoping to blog more than once every 6 months. Happy New Year!
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