Posted by: Annette | January 27, 2009

Good Sportsmanship

A coach for a women’s high school basketball team in Texas was fired yesterday for unsportsmanship behavior.  The crime?  Letting his team go on a 100-0 run against a defenseless opponent.  Here is the article.  The winning school apologized and is attempting to forfeit the game to compensate.

Is it unsportsman-like to play your best against a much weaker team?  Imagine if after half-time, the winning team decides not to score and just run around dribbling the ball.  Would that be better or worse?  Of course, the answer to pretend to play while not playing your best. 

Which brings to another topic.  I watched a program yesterday about the super-rich in America, produced by, of course, CNBC.  It was clearly produced at a different era (before the crash!) – It is hard to tell whether the intention is to arouse envy or despise.  Probably a bit of both.  Is there also a point whereby being too rich is disgraceful?  Or, perhaps in the same way as it was for the basketball coach; it is all in the packaging.  If you have $50bn but drive an old mercury car (and own a jet!), that’s to be revered.  But if you have $75mn and owns 70 antique cars?  Well, that’s to be frowned upon.

Posted by: Annette | January 26, 2009

What would you do if you were unemployed?

Pink Slip

With all the news going on about lay-offs, I can’t help but wonder whether I am going to be next.   Luckily this is not new to me (it does get easier the 2nd time around!) – I was laid off once back in 2000.  That was catastrophic; I had not entertained the possibility of my name being in the hat even until the very last minute.  A mistake I vowed not to make again ever. 

So I ask myself.  If I do get fired tomorrow, what would I do?  I know from experience that looking for a new job in this environment is not going to be fruitful.  Not in the short-term anyways.  As I sat down and thought about it, I suddenly realize that I am not any more prepared than I was last time!  If anything I was less prepared.  Last time, I went to business school as an escape.  What can I do this time around?  I will let you know if I ever figured that out. Given my track record, blogging is not going to earn me lunch.

Posted by: Annette | January 26, 2009

The Art of Blogging

If I were to give myself a grade for Blogging, I will give myself a D.  Well, C if with grade inflation.  I haven’t blogged on here for so long I forgot what I used to blog about!  I also have two other blog sites: thinkchina which I do blog on and off, and thinkmedia which is merely an archive of my past life. 

But here I am, back and giving it one last try.

Posted by: Annette | August 31, 2006

Staying awake for Roddick

Back in June, my friend and I debated on which US Open night to attend.  The logic goes like this… Since our options are very limited (we’re apparently not VIP of anything or anyone), it boils down to paying $75 for a row Y seat for the semis/finals and watch it on the big screen, or…  $11 for row U seat on a weekday.  We opted for the “value-play” whereby we thought we can also see other matches… 

So we went yesterday, and here’s what we got.  Watched Roddick against Pless; struggled to keep my eyes open since, while impressive, watching huge serves back to back was not at all entertaining.  To distract myself, I started to focus on the linesmen…  don’t they get tired and bored as well?  Dodging serves and focusing on just one line.  The new “challenge” format convinced me that they are doing a wonderful job – from my very unofficial stats, they seem to be getting it 60% right.  Not bad!

All in all, my first US Open attendance was uneventful – I must say that unless you get the VIP seating, better stay at home…  you can at least flip the channels.

Posted by: Annette | August 21, 2006

Summer in NYC

I have a love-hate relationship with NYC’s summer.  I love the fact that I don’t have to freeze, tennis courts are open, streets are quieter, the park is beautiful, and that I can get a reservation at restaurants that were impossible to book.  On the other hand, the summertime constantly reminds me of what I don’t have.  Mind you, I consider myself relatively lucky and self-sufficient, but NYC has a way of making me feel like I’m in poverty. 

I hate the fact that people brag about their weekend getaways to the Hamptons and Jersey Shores; if you are in the city, you’re considered “stuck”.  And then they came back and complained about the traffic, etc…  It’s hard not to get jaded here with all the wealth that’s floating around, particularly in Wallstreet.  It makes you question what really is important to you –

On balance though, I do wish the summer will stay… just a bit longer.

Posted by: Annette | August 11, 2006

Restaurant Review: Alias

76 Clinton St,   New York 10002
At Rivington St 

Cuisine: New American

Dishes to try: Duck confit, Short Ribs, Scallops
Dishes to avoid: None so far

Menu
Went to this restaurant per a friend’s recommendations yesterday night – got hit by thunderstorm on the way, but well worth the drench.  The duck confit was tasty, and fork-tender…  spiced short ribs with huge onion rings that’s to die for.  Everything was just perfect.  A laid-back cozy place with perfect pricing.  Only downside is the exterior… but on a rainy night, you won’t even notice!

p.s. I should rename this sector to be Restaurant recommendations since… well, there’s little incentive to write about the places I don’t like! 

Posted by: Annette | August 9, 2006

United World Colleges

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Amidst all the chaos and aggressions around the world, today, I thought I’d devote this post to introduce my alma mata, the United World Colleges.  I suspect few of you have heard about it – which is a bit of a shame given the good work they do. 

The United World Colleges (UWC) is a set of 10 colleges around the world with the following mission:

“Through international education, experience and community service, United World Colleges enables young people to become responsible citizens, politically and environmentally aware, and committed to the ideals of peace and justice, understanding and cooperation, and the implementation of these ideals through action and personal example.”

It brings together students (age 16-19) from around the world on a need-based, merit system.  I attended the Atlantic College in Wales back in ’92 – It was a 2-year pre-university program.  We had 180 students per class, coming from over 70 countries.  The scholarship system enabled students from developing countries to attend; giving them an incredibly valuable opportunity, and giving the rest of us a truely global education.

Unfortunately, for one reason or another, scholarships (and particularly those dedicated to countries-in-need) have declined over the years.  This is indeed a pity since what made UWC so special was the diversity of the student body – in my 2 years there, I had roommates from Kenya, Norway, Czech, Belgium, Venezuela, Wales, England and Canada.  We had students from Israel, Iraq and Iran under the same roof.  We had heated discussions on world issues not as spectators, but with the principle parties involved. 

UWC was a huge part of my life, and my values.  I was old enough to digest what I hear, yet young enough to have an open-mind.  Most importantly, idealistic enough to believe the impossible: that the world can be united one day. 

Check out also www.atlanticcollege.org.

Posted by: Annette | August 7, 2006

How do you procrastinate?

I don’t know about you, but I like my news the way it should be: informative, comprehensive, and perhaps a bit of thought provocation.  Then I want my weather forecast and a goodnight.  When I watch news, I want information.  News these days are just not that;  in fact, it’s far from that.

What I get is daily tabloid – I get the news that people are “interested” in, not news that are important.  For instance, there was a poll on the news the other night about how people procrastinate at work.  Viewers call in, with things ranging from playing solataire to blank stare, to napping in the ladies room.  Fascinating stuff – who cares about Chavez and Somalia and Congo when you have such intriguing stats?

But I digress again.  I meant to write about some perfectly good ways to procastinate.  1) write a blog, 2) read a blog, 3) miniclip.com, 4) starbucks, and 5) start a workplan.  Heading to #5 now.

But before that… give me back my news. 

Posted by: Annette | August 7, 2006

Long Tail slowly eroding…

When I first read Chris Anderson’s article on Wired a year or so ago, I found it very thoughtful and useful for putting things into perspective.  Then everyone I met in the investment community starting ranting about the long tail, much in the same way everyone quoted “The World is Flat”, as if Friedman discovered China –

As in most brands, however, the “Long Tail” can suffer from over exploitation.  I recently borrowed Anderson’s new book from a friend – made me recall my days writing literature papers in college; convering it from a draft ot 500 words to 1500 to fulfill the requirement.  Worse, the effort put an otherwise thoughtful piece into the spotlight; getting the level of scrutiny it cannot withstand. 

Personally, I believe the Long Tail phenomena will, in the end, destroy value (as measured in profits).  If we apply Porter’s 5 forces, the onset of the Internet reduces the attractiveness of the media/entertainment industry by weakening the barriers to entry and thus increasing rivalry.  Yes, the long tail will contribute more value over time, but I suspect it can hardly make up for the value destruction at the other end of the specturm. 

The industry will undergo a painful but necessary restructuring period – which, I suspect, will be a good thing for consumers. 

Posted by: Annette | August 2, 2006

Are you kidding me?

Little Green PillsI was watching Donny Deutsche a couple of days ago, and saw a story about these little green pills – apparently, a few tablets in your fuel tank can extend gas mileage by 30% or more.  People were holding hands, singing hymn-like songs, and rejoicing over the company’s aim of making 1,000 millionaires this year.  Astounding, and eerie.  Can you believe this is happening in our own country?  What happened to critical thinking?! 

What then occurs to me is that life is tough in many parts of this country.  Factories are moved half way around the world, Walmart charging in, medical costs piling up, pensions buckling…  there’s desperation for hope, any hope – this makes them vulnerable to marketing ploys like this which promises fortune; in addition, it gives them a sense of purpose, a community to rely on, and a support network that’s comforting. 

We are, afterall, human and vulnerable.

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