Here there be dragons...

"I'm telling you stories. Trust me." - Winterson

The MBA Journey continues

Two more classes complete.  These were two of the top three I was looking forward to.  Managing Change last term was a horrible disappointment.  

Strategic Management this term was slightly better.  The instructor at least appeared to have an interest in instructing so that helped 😂.  While the course wasn't quite as useful as I'd hoped since much of it was covered already in other classes, it was still interesting.  The first paper was a waste of time really, but the second one was a good learning exercise.  It may even have been practical in a smaller org, but by focusing on RBC it's highly unlikely I'll ever be determining RBC's overall strategic approach.  We could do it for a single line of business; arguably I could've used the PMO which I *am* responsible for.  But that's not nearly as much fun ;)   If you're gonna dream, dream big.  

The one significant objection I had to this course was being graded both on a forum post and our response to a forum post.  If you're going to grade me on a post, make it part of an assessment.  And responding to other people's posts is essentially a giant waste of my time.  It took a TON of reading of really pointless posts before I found one with enough meat to respond to in any worthwhile fashion.  And while there were several comments on my post, they were all of the "this is excellent" or "I hadn't thought of that" variety.  Which would be an ego boost if it was anybody I knew or whose opinion I cared about.  But it was complete strangers and not at all helpful in evolving or challenging my thinking.  So yeah - found that super ignorant, which in-turn made it very hard for me to engage with the rest of the course.  I understand what they were trying to do, but really - that kind of learning comes organically through the chat groups and random zoom chats.   And THOSE conversations really have helped my learning.   But that's not something profs have access to to mark so they do this kind of stupidity.   This paper took me twice as long to write as it should've mostly cause I was bored and dis-engaged.  Almost every aspect of it has been covered already in another class.

Side note - if you ever end up in a situation where you have to write the SAME thing a dozen times but can't repeat yourself verbatim -- Quillbot is awesome!  lol such a thing didn't exist when I was in uni, and I definitely can see it being used for nefarious purposes.  But I have zero issue with using it to rewrite my *own* writing.  lol.

The other course I was taking was Artificial Intelligence for Business.  It was the primary reason I chose AIB for my MBA and also the *last* course I got to take.  I was super-disappointed that my favourite prof so far, who was supposed to teach this class, left the school right before this term started :(   The replacement was good and enthusiastic, but nowhere near as good as the person who was supposed to teach it.  The course itself though was *excellent*.   Partially, to be fair, that's because I have a significant interest in it, but also partially because all the material was current, there was a wide variety of sources, and the assessments were relevant.  The only piece I didn't care for is part of one of the assessments included an implementation plan.  Now for me, this is easy marks.  But I would've greatly preferred spending those marks on learning more about AI strategy than writing up what was essentially a project agreement for a project that will never happen.  I didn't use the bank for this one - I don't have any line of sight into their AI strategy and I suspect in some areas its fairly advanced (I was somewhat surprised that the financial industry is one of the leading adopters of AI).   So I made use of a smaller semi-fictionalized company that I've used for other projects that similarly needed less-scope than RBC offers.   But yeah, this one was definitely one of my favourites.  Maybe not as immediately relevant to my real life as some of the others, but super interesting.

And now I'm done coursework!!!   All that's left is the mini-thesis.  It's nothing compared to my other Masters level work for sure (I mean really, it's an eight-week effort.  How big can it be?).  The biggest challenge for me will be picking a topic -- I know broadly it'll have to do with Leadership (we had to select the subject already, from a finite list), but more than that I really haven't decided yet.  Hopefully I'll think of something interesting so this isn't a completely horrible eight weeks.

AIB administration continues to be pretty horrific.   The very senior people are awesome and will go out of their way to solve problems.  But they seem to be one-off solutions unfortunately, and that attitude doesn't trickle down.  For instance - they still aren't able to provide webinar times that don't conflict with one another.  This isn't hard.  I did it for every class the entire term as an example last time around and it took me less than ten minutes.  And for reasons I don't understand, while every class to date has been during the work week, as per all schools ever, for this one it looks like it's going to be on the weekends?  It's either going to be Fri nights at 9pm or Sundays at 5:30.  And that's IF we even get a time that works for Canadian students -- that has been guaranteed for every class, but apparently not for this one.  So we shall see.  I will be very glad to see the end of this.

The new normal?

As some of you may know, I experienced a *few* issues with my eye a few years back.  As a result, I still have annual check-ups with the surgeon -- as much to make sure the good eye is still good as to check on the iffy one.   Anyways - today was that day.   But it's more of an adventure when I'm not downtown every day.  

And an interesting experience since *nobody* is downtown anymore.  Wow.   Caught the train at mid rush hour am.   In the before times, this would've been a sardine ride at best.  Definitely no seat.  And thankfully express from one stop past where I boarded.  

The world shut down in March of 2020;
this was a pic from Feb 2020.  
Note on this day I was lucky:
I had a seat and nobody I felt obligated to give it to.

Well I pulled into the usual parking lot...  And it was completely empty.   Like growing grass empty.   Drove over to the "main" parking lot, which, since I'm not an early morning person, I've never experienced before.  And it too was empty.  There were people on the platform.   I mean, a couple of them - not the packed several layers deep of the past, but signs of life at least.

You can't even really see the parking lot I used to park in from here;
yet still more empty spots than not.

Found my platform and waited for the train.  A little disconcerted because half the platform was closed for construction and because I couldn't remember where to stand so the doors would open right in front of me.  Not that it mattered - everybody on the platform could have their own car with many left over. 

Rush hour.  I'm not even kidding.

Express trains no longer exist and it's easy to see why.  Interesting balance of eerie and awesome to have the upstairs pretty much to myself (I think there was one other passenger).  Once I got downtown, same thing.  Even exiting the platform - while not social distanced, was nowhere near the overwhelming pack of people that made me hate commuting so much. 

Before times I rarely entered this tunnel in rush hour  because 
people were packed side to side and I found it claustrophobic.  
Today, well suffice to say I didn't bother with the slightly longer
outdoor walk that would let me avoid said tunnel.

So last night I had calculated what the last train I could get that would make me on time for my afternoon meetings was if I was planning to work at my parents, or if I was planning to go all the way home.    And I kinda scoffed at the all the way home one as not possible.

But then I got through the dr process super fast.  Doctor had seen me (all status quo - nothing exciting, nothing scary; we'll deem that a win), and I still had 15 min to check out and have enough time to make the train.  Their checkout is traditionally slower than the average sloth, but maybe?   Except the the doc took my paper and disappeared :(.  And 15 min later, reappeared.  So now I could go to checkout but now was when I had to be walking to the train.  Hmmm

Alright we’ll for the first time ever, not checkout AND the phenomenally slow elevators were aligned in my favour.  Okay so end up in front of the hospital, 11 min before the train will leave.  It’s a 15 min walk and a flight of stairs to get to the platform.  

I used to run for the train all the time.  And, well, there are no pedestrians to dodge, so sb good to go.  

I'm not exaggerating about the empty streets.
This was shortly before 9am.

Lol - used to run.  Used to.  As in, not currently.  But I gave it a solid effort - I still had drops in so couldn’t even see my watch to see if I was likely to make it.  And the worst - about 3/4 of the way there, some dude jogged by me like it was an easy stroll while I was huffing and puffing my sprint to the station.  Talk about demoralizing.  Sheesh

Had a moment of concern that I wouldn’t be able to read the platform board - and there were all kinds of notices on the way in that platforms have changed, but when I got there, I could make it out.  Win!

Had a moment of east or west?  Crossing the bridge has entirely f’d my sense of direction.  But I picked the right one and took the stairs two at a time, jumping into the closest car with more than 30 seconds to spare!

Except - heard the end of a message about “if you want to get off at *insert my stop here*”. Hmmm. So I walked through the train to the customer service person to find out that all was well - just certain cars weren’t opening there for consareuction, but the one I had randomly hoped into was fine.

However, by thiis point I was a hot mess.  Panting and sweating buckets.  Ugh.  So I went and found an empty car (ie - literally the first one I checked) so I could walk a bit till I cooled off.

All good, made it home in time for my call, but what an experience.  Toronto in pandemic time is a very different world.  Will be interesting to see where it lands once those people inclined / required to return to offices actually do so.

Procrastination: working tomorrow for a better today

Today I had exactly one thing on my list: write my paper for Strategic Mgmt.   This paper needs to be written this weekend and has a ridiculous amount of work that needs to happen before it can be written.  ONE thing on the list.  One.

Now, let's consider the things that *actually* happened today.

  • Went with Chris to pick up temporary fencing for our yard.  This was a FB marketplace pickup, so clearly had to be done right away.  And obviously took two people (narrator: it most definitely did NOT require two people).
  • Did some banking (this required the computer, so it was a good start)
  • Got caught up on some Spanish (also requires computer AND is educational!)
  • Decided to make cookies
  • Realized I had no unfrozen butter with which to make said cookies
  • Got groceries
  • Actually made cookies!
  • Took Tucker on multiple walks
  • Vacuumed 
  • Finally put the anti-slip mat under the rug in my office (this was more of an adventure than it should've been)
  • Folded and put away some laundry
  • Made up the spare bed in our guest room.  To put in perspective - we don't have an actual bed frame, or any furniture for that room, nor are we likely to have guests anytime soon lol.  But Tucker was pleased ;)
  • Had a nap.  I mean, it'd been a busy day so far.  And it was a *wonderful* nap - the kind dreams are made of.  The kind where several hours later you wake up wondering what day it is.
  • Did my workout for the day.  Side note: I'm loving the stretching program that's part of my current rotation.  Definitely the first time in my life I've said that, but it's awesome.  And it keeps moving so I don't get bored the way I generally do.  For the curious, it's here: Power Stretching.   Also - I will *never* be able to do the move pictured on that site, although it was in today's workout lol.  The beginner version, however, was easy (neither back bend nor splits required!).
  • Unpacked and organized a bunch of stuff that definitely won't be used before the paper is due
  • Am back in Oakville next week, so booked a few things there that don't exist in my new world
  • Deemed today a mental health day and walked to 7-11 for a slushy instead of using what little reasonable work time was available to actually work
  • Researched and purchased a few items that have been on the list for a while but clearly not important enough they also couldn't wait
  • Went down multiple online rabbit holes -- but hey, I now know and understand about the Olympic fencing rule changes.  lol the fact that I didn't know anything about fencing before this is completely irrelevant ;)  That's educational right?   Have to laugh that one of the rabbit holes included watching the TED talk about procrastination (I'm not even kidding).  
    Procrastinator's Brain, according to the TED talk (it's on the Internet, so it must be true!)  
  • Wrote this very long list.

Things that didn't happen today:  
  • Writing the paper.  Or even reading the requirements of the paper.  Oops.
I mean, to be fair, I also avoided both stabbing or reading (of non-educational material) - either of which has the ability to slurp an entire day away, and both are high on my "after MBA" priority list, so overall I'm deeming that today was at least somewhat productive procrastination.  That's a thing, right?

Anyways - future Lauren is going to hate me when the Panic Monster steps up, but today Lauren is happy, energized, and relaxed, so we're deeming it a win.