A Leap of Faith

I had a chat with a former co-worker at Ciena Corporation yesterday. I was surprised to discover that since one of the layoffs there, he and his family recently moved to Israel. When I asked him where, he said north of Jerusalem. As it turns out, they moved to Kochav Yaakov, in the West Bank. There was a big feature in the Baltimore Sun about it last month.

It certainly puts that conflict in a new light for me, now that someone I know is over there. I respect Glenn for his courage and pray that he keeps safe.

Housing Bubble Burst?

Paul Krugman seems to believe so. Check out his complete column in the New York Times online (free registration required).

I live in what Krugman describes as the “Zoned Zone”, a few miles north of D.C. in Wheaton, Maryland. While a townhouse in my neighborhood recently sold for about $400,000, it took 2-3 weeks. I think they started out asking for $450,000 and had to drop the price some. Another bit of information I got, which supports Krugman’s idea somewhat, is a conversation I had with a realtor a month or two ago. He was essentially trolling my neighborhood for people interested in selling their townhouses and I asked him about some new ones being built (a 5-10 minute walk from my townhouse). He said the price tags on those went as high as $800,000, but that the builders were having to rent them out because they couldn’t sell them at that price.

Between this information and the increasing popularity of interest-only loans, real estate prices have to come back to earth sooner or later.

188 Megabytes

All the papers, projects, PowerPoint presentations and spreadsheets of three years in the University of Maryland part-time MBA program fits comes to just under 188 megabytes worth of files. Somehow I expected it to take up more space.

Regardless of the ultimate file size of all that work, my reason for getting an MBA was to gain enough knowledge to change careers. Even when I was getting my computer science degree (from 1992-1996), I figured I had maybe 10 years to write code full-time before I would want (or need) to do something else. The MBA as a degree takes plenty of flack from many angles. People with this degree take the blame for the dot-com bust. FedEx has a commercial that makes a joke at the expense of MBAs. There’s plenty to read in print and on the web about how the MBA is a waste of time. Speaking only for myself, the degree was worth it.

The degree got me my current job. Instead of writing code everyday, I manage projects (and the people assigned to them), their requirements, budgets and schedules. I still write code from time-to-time (more often lately since we’ve got a website launching this Friday), but I spend more time on design. Occasionally I’ll have to negotiate a software purchase or interview potential new hires. There’s too much to do for the job to become “routine”.

Could I do all this without an MBA? Sure. But the odds that a company where no one knows me would give me the chance to try all these things are pretty low. And without the prior exposure to topics like accounting, strategy, and negotiation, I wouldn’t be able to do my job as well. Beyond the things I learned in classes and the connections I made with classmates, I saw the MBA as a way to signal to potential employers that I was interested in more responsibility–that I wanted to become a decision-maker.

Posted in MBA

Never expected to see a cellphone here …

I finally dragged myself to the gym for the first time in awhile. The combination of business school and full-time work made a somewhat reasonable excuse for not working out, but school’s been over since May.

In any case, I was rather surprised to see a woman next to me working out on the Stairmaster while chatting away on her cellphone. Later in my workout, I saw a guy doing exactly the same thing. I’ve come to expect to see cellphones in a lot of places, but seeing them in use during a workout is a new one on me.