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Fin de siecle

May 11th, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Every limit is a beginning as well as an ending. Who can quit young lives after being long in company of them, and not desire to know what befell them in their after-years? For the fragment of a life, however typical, is not the sample of an even web: promises may not be kept, and an ardent outset may be followed by declension; latent powers may find their long-waited opportunity; a past error may urge a grand retrieval.” – George Eliot, Middlemarch 

Well this is it, my academic career ends today. Well, not exactly…I still have two papers and a take-home final to finish off.  But today and tonight are my last two classes. It’s some sort of rite of passage, but I really don’t feel anything at this point.

It’s quite possible at this point that I may end up leaving DC after a fantastic two years here. And I do find myself reflecting a bit on this point…did I take enough advantage of the area and all it has to offer in the time I was here? I felt the same way when I left Austin almost two years ago. It’s hard to definitively answer that question…it’s part of my temperament and makeup to always be asking if I could have done more. So perhaps there’s nothing that can be done on this front. What I do know is that I am ultimately better off for having gotten my MBA here in the Washington DC area, no matter what happens in both the near and distant future.

I can’t quite bring myself to be excited about graduating…it’s really not resonating with me on any level. In one regard, it’s really not the same when you’re 30. But that’s only a singular aspect of it, and admittely a minor one. The main reason is the obvious X-factor that trumps all others. The job search continues….there are interesting possibilities, but I will remain consumed by it until it is done. There is no satisfaction, nothing to savor, until a conclusion is reached. It colors everything I do and a large part of who I am at present; it is the prism through which I view the world. I remain focused, committed, and driven – there is no other alternative.

Song: Depeche Mode “Wrong”

Didn’t really care for it at first listen, but I heard it twice yesterday and it’s really starting to grow on me.

Quote: Some more George Eliot….

“For there is no creature whose inward being is so strong that it is not greatly determined by what lies outside it.”

Certainly applicable to modern life in America circa 2009. By no means an excuse, but simply a fact – whether I want to fully accept it or not.

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I have submitted to Twitter

April 27th, 2009 by under Uncategorized. 1 Comment.

When peer pressure from the likes of Ashton Kutcher, Oprah, and longtime column favorite Britney Spears starts to build and multiply. what choice do I have?

I tried to hold out as long as I could, but Twitter has hit the tipping point and it’s time to get involved.

http://twitter.com/plbaird

Maureen Dowd once famously asked, “Are Men Necessary?” Well I wonder…is Twitter necessary? Regardless, it’s happening. And as it so often goes, businesses and brands of all sizes need to get involved – whether they like it or not.

For PR crises are playing out it real time on Twitter. Brands that were built and carefully cultivated over the course of years and even decades can be damaged considerably overnight.

Some companies are handling these so-called “Twitter Storms” well (Dominos), some are not (Amazon).

What’s clear is that at the least, Twitter is necessary for brands and companies as a preventive strategy.

I found this from Mashable.com particularly insightful:

“With a flood of new [Twitter] users every day, it may become more difficult to find value in all the noise. This value comes in different forms: links to useful articles, best practice advice from industry leaders and live, up to the minute news stories to name just a few.”

Essentially, when used effectively, I believe Twitter can be a powerful tool for transparency, building brand capital, and engaging with consumers directly.

And yet it can also be exceedingly trite, bordering on worthless…see the Kutcher phenomenon. I can’t say I care about 99% of the things I see people posting.

But for the 1% that is interesting and relevant, I’m in.

Ms. Dowd talks to the inventors of Twitter, very funny stuff: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/22/opinion/22dowd.html?_r=2

Quick MLB note: Ellsbury’s steal of home, electrifying as it was, makes me sick to my stomach as a diehard Yankee fan. Don’t want to get too hyper, but not sure if Girardi will last the season. I wish the Boss was coherent enough to rattle his sabre and unleash a needed round of firings. No, it’s not like it used to be….

Songs:  The Pixies   “Vamos (Surfer Rosa)” 

              Talking Heads  “Wild Wild Life”

Quote:

“She should have died hereafter;
There would have been a time for such a word.
To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury
Signifying nothing.”
— Macbeth (Act 5, Scene 5, lines 17-28)  
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Social Media Survey

April 27th, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

My apologies for being inconsistent with the blog updates. I’ve been a bit distracted these days, which is no real excuse, but things happen. Everything in its right place.

My singular focus remains the same. I promise a proper blog post later today. In the interim, I need your help….

As you may or may not be are aware, one of the places I’m currently interviewing is a social media startup company.

I would greatly appreciate it if you could click on the below link and fill out a quick survey on social media. It will take you no more than 5-10 minutes. And it just might help me get a great job.

http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=4ZAmsGEYUq5gcoIw8Ejsew_3d_3d

It’s a general survey, so not every question will be applicable to you personally, but some definitely will. Anything you could do to pitch in prior to this Friday would be fantastic.

Thanks. And of course…I’ll keep you posted on what happens.

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Easter musings

April 12th, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

I am only aware that it is Easter because a couple different friends have asked me if I have Easter plans.

I suppose a great many people have spent this morning studying Scripture. I saw that Salome was on this morning; though it was not an adaptation of Wilde’s version, it nonetheless inspired me to re-read De Profundis. This is about as spiritual as I get any day of the week, much less this one. Only those who have never read De Profundis will scoff at this last remark – for those who are familiar with this epic letter know that, at its core, it is explicitly concerned with faith, spirtuality, and even individualism.

The closing lines of De Profundis are among the most stirring and evocative in all of literature. For me, only those that close Eliot’s Middlemarch (quoted in a previous blog, search it) and those of Dorian Gray can match it:

Society, as we have constituted it, will have no place for me, has none to offer; but Nature, whose sweet rains fall on unjust and just alike, will have clefts in the rocks where I may hide, and secret valleys in whose silence I may weep undisturbed. She will hang the night with stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send the wind over my footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.

Nothing short of remarkable. No one writes like this anymore, or perhaps more simply, there is no one else capable of writing this well. I sent a recent paper I wrote to a friend (it concerned the business sphere which she is currently immersed in) and prefaced it by saying “not the best thing I’ve ever written….but not terrible either.” She responded after reading it with “i (expletive) love it. not terrible at all.” And I guess it wasn’t. Though mildly interesting on the face of it, the writing and subject matter itself is little more than inconsequential and offers no contribution or value to any literary canon. Maybe it’s silly, ridiculous, pretentious, absurd – all of the above, perhaps? – to view one’s own writings through the prism of Wilde and Joyce, but that is the mirror which I hold up. If it is not of such standard, then it is subpar. As crazy as it sounds, if one sets an unreachable goal, then one always has something to be pushing forward and onward towards. If perfection is the ideal, then it ultimately can never be achieved, and one always has something to strive for. This is what motivates me.

So for me, it isn’t about reaching the summit, it’s about relishing the journey there – all elements of it, positive and negative, satisfactory and unsatisfactory. Remembering the past not to wallow it, but as a frame of reference to sharpen one’s focus on how good life is at the present and how one should stop and savor the finer things, which can and do vary for each individual. For my goals are not society’s goals, they are my own – and there is peace and comfort in that, as much as can be allowed in modern life. I have extracted this if nothing else.

Hang the stars, indeed.

School is school…it is being disposed with clinically and methodically at this point.

As for post-graduation plans, there is a positive development that will play out to a tangible conclusion in the very near future. There is nothing more to report until it breaks one way or the other. I continue to maintain conversations along several other fronts as well. Sometimes interviews materalize out of the blue in disciplines you never would have imagined – this happened recently. I am confident that with this many things going on, something will break my way.

Quote: See above, it’s impossible to top Wilde…

Song: The Smiths, “The Boy With The Thorn In His Side”

Ha ha…I think I telegraphed that one. On Easter morning, where a great many are musing on the life of Christ and a very few others are musing on Wilde’s musings on Christ, why not a little Morrissey? 

And now, back to Atlas Shrugged….oh yes, it’s quite a diverse reading list. I’ve been catching up on past issues of the New Yorker as well. I must enjoy the existence of a student while I still can, the expiration date on this silly life is drawing near.

Watching the Masters is also involved, and Rock of Love. Yes, I do believe you need a fine balance of high and low art. Too much of one can make you intolerable, and too much of the other can do just the same.

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We eat kids

March 25th, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

I’m typing up this entry, trying to think of a title, and sure enough I see Testudo on PTI. Maryland basketball and Mike Tyson…sure, why not?

Classes started back up again the other day. This is it – the final lap of my academic career. But that’s just a peripheral issue. Papers and presentations – it all seems like background noise. I might be less happy when team meetings get fired back up again soon, but for now, things are well.

I wish I had something else to write about as opposed to not having landing a job yet – but to be quite honest about it, I don’t. This is what consumes me. I’m going to have to network my way into something – the school is here as a sounding board, but I’m not counting on them for anything else. In October – October – I had more interviews than I knew what to do with. But nothing came out of this multitude of interviews – and that is ultimately on me. There is a good career prospect that seems to be developing for me up in Philly, but it is too early to speculate as to whether it will lead to a concrete offer. And I certainly don’t want to jinx it. I just have to put my head down, keep working, and make it happen for myself.

Go Kentucky hoops tonight…I would love to see a Penn State-Kentucky NIT Final Four showdown. Bragging rights with V and her family would be on the line if this happens.

Pirates baseball 2009….it could be a historic year. If setting an all-time sports franchise record for futility with a 17th straight losing season is your idea of history.

But all that aside, this article is downright bizarre:

http://postgazette.com/pg/09084/958138-100.stm

In other news, some fans are bigger than others….

http://pitchfork.com/news/34906-great-moments-in-morrissey-fandom-the-tattoo/

Song:  The Band “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”

One of my friends recently revealed that he was moved to tears by this song while re-watching The Last Waltz…however, he’s never lived south of the Mason-Dixon line. I’m not sure what this means.

Quote:  ‘“[W]hen you leave school finally you will find that life is a game, sometimes serious, sometimes fun, but a game that must be played with true team-spirit . . .” – Shelagh Delaney

I can’t lie… I just wanted an excuse to quote Shelagh Delaney.

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Ouija board?

March 19th, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Would you, ouija board
Would you help me ?
And I just cant find
My place in this world

Oh, it’s not that bad. In fact, I remain optimistic.

Some people go to exotic and tropical locales for spring break; I go see the great, inimitable, perpetually maudlin Morrissey in concert twice (Richmond, Pittsburgh). Viva Morrissey.

And visit my parents in Erie. And hang out with friends and family in Pittsburgh. And watch as much of the NCAA tournament as possible in Philly with my girlfriend, who – as I love to note – takes off of work for it.

If I had something of note to report on the job front, I’d post it here. But I don’t. I am meeting some interesting people and having some great conversations about start-ups and established companies alike. Yet nothing resembling a concrete job offer is on the table at present.

Everybody I talk to thinks that they are the ones who possess the SILVER BULLET. However, I do appreciate all of the advice and suggestions. Until it is done, keep them coming.

Song: “Walk on Water”  Eddie Money   This is a tribute to some good friends who are going to see this fabled performer at the Wheeling Island Racetrack tomorrow night. The show is purportedly sold out?

Quotes:

 “News is something someone wants to suppress. Everything else is advertising.” – Lord Northcliffe

“The good old days are good and gone…and that’s why they’re good, because they’re gone.” – Loudon Wainwright

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Jobseekers Anonymous

February 23rd, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Not much has changed from two weeks ago, as should be apparent from the title.

I had what I felt to be a pretty sold interview a week and a half ago – now it is a matter of waiting to hear whether there will be further interviews with that specific company. I do have a few other leads, and I’m pursuing them vigorously. Still, the pressure is definitely building. The goal is to get something lined up by Spring Break. This objective is becoming more difficult as each week passes, but is still something I’m shooting to accomplish.

Career Servies has set up a job search group that is actually quite helpful in terms of setting priority and direction. It’s a great resource to take advantage of, and yet another reason why to go to business school. (True, it’s one I wished I didn’t have to take advantage of.) There are only 3 in our group (1 has dropped out of the group, having secured an offer), but other groups have as many as 16 members. I like the small group size – more personal attention / feedback. We (the group members) joke that it’s something of a 12-step group.  So it goes like this:

“I’m Pete and I’m unemployed.” 

“HI PETE” (group in unison).

Well it doesn’t really do down like that….but it’s not that far from the truth.

School keeps plodding along. I don’t have any work or projects of any significance to deal with in the present or immediate future.

It’s off to Alabama next week for V’s brother’s wedding. This figures to be a highly enjoyable time down in the Deep South.

The song and quote this post come from a gentleman who released his ninth solo album last week. It’s one of his best in years.

Song: Morrissey  “Something Is Squeezing My Skull”

Quote: “You have to, at least from a distance, look as if you know what you’re doing , and I can manage that.” – Steven Patrick Morrissey

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Mixing it up

February 9th, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

I’m presently putting together a new mix CD, few things in life crack me up more than setting up the segues between songs.

There are some signs of life on the job front…we’ll see what happens, but it’s a start. It’s like stumbling upon an oasis and getting a cool drink of water after wandering in the desert. It’s no guarantee of more water, but it’s something.

I watched Weird Science the other day…I hadn’t seen it in probably 10+ years. Yes, my Friday nights are now a lot different than they once were. (As Robbie Robertson remarked in The Last Waltz, “It’s not like it used to be.”) Anyway, this led to some vigorous debate amongst some friends, which remains presently unresolved.

The question – and it is quite vexing – is this: what is Bill Paxton’s greatest role?

A) Chet in Weird Science

B) Simon in True Lies (aka Carlos the Jackal)

C) Bill Hendrickson in Big Love

Do I have too much time on my hands? Likely so. But seriously, this is tricky stuff we’re dealing with here.

I cannot wrap myself around class right now. I don’t know that I’m going to back to the point where I’m ever fully into it. I’m obsessed with getting a job, and that is where my efforts and concentration are being directed. Right now, I average about two classes a week due to cancellations and scheduling quirks. I hadn’t really figured on doing a ton of schoolwork this semester by design, but this is a bit of a farce nonetheless. I’m better when I have a lot of things going on and need to priortize.

It’s off to Philly this weekend for V-Day (but frequent readers, you know well that every day is “V Day”). Wine will be drank, and I’m gearing up for a Trivial Pursuit rematch of epic proportions. Last summer’s defeat at the hands of two of my favorite females still stings, and on Saturday, my pal Tornado and I will be back with venegance.

Not a good week for Michael Phelps or A-Rod. The Yankees haven’t been to the World Series since they signed A-Rod. That’s not a coincedence, despite his gaudy stats. He’s not a leader, not a winner, and I regret ever cheering his signing. He’s not a Yankee.

They should probably just all fess up at this point – the owners, the commissioner’s office, every player..basically all parties. Then they can set up a Steroid wing at the Hall of the Fame so that it can be addressed head on. “This is the Steroid Era, take the numbers you view inside with the proper perspective.” Just deal with it and move on.

Then let in Pete Rose and Shoeless Joe…

No chance of any of that happening. Pitchers and catchers can report as early as Saturday, now that is something to celebrate.

Song:  R.E.M. “South Central Rain (I’m Sorry)”

Quote: “Computers make it easier to do a lot of things, but most of the things they make easier to do don’t need to be done.” – Andy Rooney

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Back from hiatus

January 25th, 2009 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Two hiatuses, really.

I’ve been on semester break since the middle of December. As for this blog, it’s been down since early November due to technical difficulties I’ve never fully understood. But no matter…onward and upward.

This semester, I have only one priority. Sounds easy enough, but this priority will consume the large majority of my time and there is no alternative. That, of course, is getting a job. I graduate in May and presently much is uncertain. The state of the US economy is not an acceptable excuse for not accomplishing this. Putting that aside, it is I and I alone who must make this happen.

I have a scant 10 credits this semester. For the first half of the time, this works out to class Monday evenings, Wednesday mornings, and every other Friday. School at this point is little more than a formula; it’s not that grades matter on any level real or perceived, but I find myself doing less work and achieving higher marks. The classwork becomes a rhythm you find when you need to; gone are the late nights and high stress of 1st semester.

The high stress is focused on the job search. There’s a large void facing me four short months now; it is as yet undetermined where I will be living and what I will be doing. This is both a crisis and opportunity. It wasn’t like anyone was going to hand me a job, regardless of the external circumstances. It just means I have to push myself that much harder and raise my game that much more.

Here’s what else has been going on:

I turned 30 just over a week ago, an event V and I celebrated this with an amazing couple days in Miami. This was the plan all along: to graduate at 30 with my MBA with a new career. I have never put my stock in birthdays, and turning 30 fazed me very little, if at all. But it did remind me of what I initially set out to accomplish by going back to school – and of what I need to now do to finish out strong.

I went to the Inauguration the other day with a few friends from Pittsburgh. It was a mad scene, and there’s little I can write than hasn’t been covered ad nauseaum in other media vehicles, but it did make me very grateful to live in a city where I could take advantage of seeing this event.

I’ve started swimming a couple times a week – it’s time to whip myself back into some semblance of shape.

Weddings a plenty this year – 4, maybe 5, each in a different city. I’m in two of them, which certainly keeps things interesting. It kicks off in March with V’s brother’s wedding in Birmingham.

Really, the only thing that matters is getting a job….I can’t stress that enough.  Everything else involving school is little more than trite. From uncertainity, I will find clarity.

Quote – “It is the dull man who is always sure, and the sure man who is always dull.” – H.L. Mencken

Song – “God”  John Lennon

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I shall be free…of politics

November 6th, 2008 by under Uncategorized. 1 Comment.

Now, the man on the stand he wants my vote,
He’s a-runnin’ for office on the ballot note.
He’s out there preachin’ in front of the steeple,
Tellin’ me he loves all kinds-a people.
He’s eatin’ bagels
He’s eatin’ pizza
He’s eatin’ chitlins
 

 – Bob Dylan, “I Shall Be Free”

After twenty-two excruciating months, the nation has made its choice for president. Barack Obama has proved himself masterfully, almost preternaturally, adept at getting elected – soundly defeating both the Clinton and Bush political machines in one calendar year is no small feat. Now comes the really interesting part: we will now find out how he plans to govern. He has many formative decisions in front of him over the coming weeks and I look forward to seeing the team he’ll be putting in place.

With that settled, this blog will end its admittedly bizarre digression into political discourse and return to its de facto purpose of discussing life, liberty and the pursuit of a job at Smith.

For the interview process is what it’s all about; everything else is little more than busy work. The most important element is getting as much practice in as you possibly can. The more interviews you do, the better you perform. It’s no different than how professional athletes need the preseason to perform at a high level when it counts. My first interview this semester was erratic at best – I could tell that I was a bit rusty, not at the top of my game. But in subsequent interviews, things started coming to me more naturally, I was able to develop a rhythm. So the best advice I can give is simple but vital: practice, practice, practice. Take every mock interview available. If there’s a training opportunity through the Office of Career Management, don’t hesistate to sign up. Interview early and interview often.

Songs:

“Paper Planes” M.I.A.

Not my usual fare, but I really enjoy this…it’s an outstanding reworking of the Clash’s “Armagideon Time”

“The Promised Land” Bruce Springsteen & the E Band. 

Before the faint flicker of hope is crushed by reality, pragmatism and bureaucracy…

Quote: “Silence is the virtue of fools.” – Sir Francis Bacon

(thanks to V for this quote)

Shameless Plug: The Phyrst, State College, PA. I look forward to quaffing a few beverages at this fine establishment (dive) with old friends next weekend, one of whom has just moved back to the East Coast after 6 years in California. The Phyrst Family is one of the great bar bands anywhere in this fair country….it is a great feeling to walk in after a few years away and find the same lineup singing the same classic songs. And the eternal debate still rages on….Jen Dixon or Connie Fisher?

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