Mastering life’s courses for running, wine, and business school

Life experiences and interests from abroad

A Dynasty Uncovered March 16, 2008

Filed under: MBA,Travel,Wine — emccan2 @ 12:52 pm

I’ve made it out of Shanghai and am enjoying the warm weather of Byron Bay, Australia.  Tomorrow, I head out for New Zealand, where a world of new Pinots and Sauvignon Blancs are soon to be discovered.  The trip to Shanghai was unbelievable – beginning with the speedy magnetic train that gets you from the airport to the center of Shanghai – to the smog filled sky that blocks the beauty the country is developing.  During the trip, my classmates and I enjoyed excursions to various global companies and spent an afternoon with Communist leaders at the China Executive Leadership Academy Pudong (CELAP). CELAP is a Shanghai-based national institution that assists in developing China’s senior leaders and executives across the government and state-owned enterprises.  The building itself is breathtaking, having just finished construction in 2005. 

dynasty-wine.jpgOf course, I could not have gone to China without sampling their wines, so while at dinner on Sunday evening, I purchased a bottle of Dynasty wine to compliment our family-style meal.  The wine was described as a Dry Red Wine, but honestly, it was far from that.  To be fair, I will simply say that the Chinese have a way to go to compete in the developing wine market.  My friends who were brave enough to sample the wine also felt that the wine needed a little extra care and development, and after one sip, decided to stick with the Tiger Beer for the rest of the evening. 

Now that I’m on my way to New Zealand, I will be overwhelmed with fantastic wine from this relatively new wine growing region.  I hope to enjoy many Pinot Noirs, but anticipate that I’ll find some new gems as I explore around the islands. 

A quick note on the wedding festivities I have engaged in the past few days.  The wedding was absolutely breathtaking and delightful.  The setting in Byron Bay, the east coast of Australia, couldn’t have been more perfect, and the company, along with Ann and Adam’s friends and family made the experience so genuine and inviting.  It was such an honor to be part of the occasion and to see the union of two people who are meant to spend their lives together.  Once I have my photos loaded, I’ll share them some great pics of the wedding.


From Pinyin to Shiraz to Pinot Noir March 7, 2008

Filed under: MBA,Travel,Wine — emccan2 @ 10:30 pm

Tomorrow marks the beginning of a whirlwind tour of China, Australia and New Zealand.  The majority of the time will be split between China and New Zealand, with the highlight of the trip being a weekend in Brisbane for Ann’s wedding.  I can’t wait to reconnect with my best girlfriends from high school, Natalie and Ann, and do some much needed catching up.   

My time in China will be concentrated in Shanghai, where I, along with 60 other Full-time and Executive MBA students will be meeting with companies and exploring the cross-cultural opportunities of doing business in China.  We have some free time scheduled in, so I hope to do some exploring also.

Being the wine adventurer that I am, I will be scoping out the wine scene of these 3 incredible locations.  I was fortunate enough to tour Australia in June and visited the Barossa and Hunter Valley.  This time, however, I will be focused on the great Pinot Noirs and Sauvignon Blancs from New Zealand’s wine regions.  But, I’m not going to hold off on my wine exploration until I head to Australia and New Zealand – I am going to try to make it to a wine bar in Shanghai to sample some pinyin (Chinese for wine) to see how Chinese “grape liquor” compares to my Californian standards. 

 I’ll be sure to keep the blog updates along my way.


Thanksgiving Party Success November 23, 2007

Filed under: business school,MBA,Wine — emccan2 @ 1:59 pm
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I can’t think of a better word than success to describe last night’s festivities.  The food, beverages, dancing, singing, moustache contest and great company were a definite success.  I was reminded by many friends and family in the past few days that I have so much to be thankful for, and they’re absolutely right.  Emails, phone calls and the party last night reminded me of what great friends and family I am surrounded by and who care about me so much.  As for last night, here are some priceless photographs to show a rundown from start to finish.

PREPARATION:  Thanks to Wyllys (cutting the Turkey), we had Turkey, aka America’s dirty bird, as part of the meal.  One bird was cooked in the oven and the other was prepared in Wylly’s smoker.  Both turned out delicious!  To accompany the meal, Katharine and Lisa slaved in the kitchen for hours making mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, apple and pumpkin pie, salad, green beans, and several appetizers.  Our classmates brought over tasty appetizers, desserts and loads of wine.  So much wine, that we’ll have to have another party to try to put a dent in it.  I settled on getting Beaujolais Nouveau, Chenin Blanc, and Tuvel Rose.  All were delicious, I’m not ashamed to say.  And to complement dessert, we shared a Sauternes dessert wine from Rich.

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ROOMMATE PHOTOS: After we cleared everyone out of the kitchen, the roommates finally got some pictures together. (Back row: Elizabeth, TJ, John, Gordon, Robin; Front row: Lisa, Katy, Katharine)


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THE FEAST: It was difficult making room for all the food, but once we crammed it all on the kitchen table, we set up a queue from the living room to the kitchen and filtered people through the line.  We had so much food that people started getting second helpings – which is expected, of course at Thanksgiving. 

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ENTERTAINMENT:  This included a mustache contest, singing and dancing.  Over the past few weeks, the men in the class decided to compete with each other in growing ‘tashes.  Bala was the winner, Ciaran came in second and Hugh got third.  Jenny and Claire did a great job of giving out prizes for the winners.  Here are the contestant’s mugshots:


(Hugh, Vijay, Jim, Ciaran, Bala, Ken, Andrea)

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SINGING AND DANCING:  Aaron, Andrea and Mike brought their guitars and entertained the class with a medley of fun tunes.  John joined in showing off his talents as well.

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Following this up, Ciaran did an acapello rendition of You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling from Top gun and others got down to the music, including Robin with his slick moves and Rahul and his wife showing off their Indian dancing skills.

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GREAT FUN:  And finally, we ended the night finishing off the keg, drinking more beer – thanks to Dave, and goofing off.  This Thanksgiving will definitely go down as one of my favorites.

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Holiday in Ischia November 4, 2007

Filed under: business school,MBA,Travel,Wine — emccan2 @ 11:45 am
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I’m back from a wonderful and much needed holiday to Italy.  I apologize in advance for being somewhat absent this week, for I was in a state of great relaxation and out of touch with the real world.  That’s what vacation is supposed to be like, right?  Katharine and I had a lovely time on the island of Ischia and also were able to enjoy an incredible day on the island of Capri.  


Here’s a run-down of the trip:

img_0789.jpgDay 1 – A taste of Rome.  We arrived late in Rome with just enough time to get settled in our hotel by the train station and grab our first Italian meal.  The problem with that is that we weren’t really in the mood for pasta, so we settled on an omelet and chicken.  Though this wasn’t ‘true Italian’, it was excellent and provided us with some protein after snacking on trains, planes and automobiles all day. 


img_0790.jpgDay 2 – Ischia.  After traveling via train and ferry (with a frightening stop in Naples), we finally made it to Ischia, where we stayed for the next 3 nights.  The day couldn’t have been better with blue skies and lots of sunshine.  Our hotel (Poggio Del Sol was quite a hike up the mountain, and our legs and glutes were feeling it by the end of the trip, but the view was well worth all the trips up and down the mountain.  The hotel staff were wonderful and at 60 euro a night, it was a great deal.

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Once we got settled, we set off to explore the island.  We wore ourselves out from all the walking and were disappointed to find that most of the restaurants don’t open until 7pm or 8pm.  Fortunately, we found a place that opened at 6:45pm and arrived with hunger-stricken faces.  I finally got a real Italian meal – linguine with muscles in a light tomato and wine sauce.  It was delicious.

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img_0804.jpgDay 3 – Thermal Bath at ‘Tropical’ in Sant’ Angelo (  I know Katharine is killing me right now for posting this picture, but I think it’s hilarious that they made us wear shower caps in the thermal baths.  The thermal bath we settled on is called Tropical, and despite the fact that the day was all but tropical, we made the most of the experience.  Fortunately, most of the baths were really warm, so we didn’t mind a little drizzle.  The spa sat up high of the cliff in Sant’ Angelo, on the south side of the island and the views were magnificent.  Our favorite part of the trip was going from the 20 degree pool to the 40 degree pool (Celsius).  The shock of the cold to hot was exhilarating, and I needed much convincing from Katharine before shocking my body into those extremes. 

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We managed to clean ourselves up and get in a nap before having a fantastic dinner at our hotel’s restaurant.  The mom and dad who own the place are the cooks and made the incredible dishes.  Katharine had gnocchi with fresh basil and pesto from their garden and I had a whole piece of sea bass.  We were in heaven and in complete relaxation….the wine probably helped as well.  1/2 carafe’s of vino at 4 euro is one deal we didn’t pass up.


 img_0817.jpgDay 4 – Capri.  The translation of Capri is the plural version for goat (I previously thought it was boar, but thanks to Mary K, I have incorporated the correct meaning) but it should be ‘unforgettable’.  The weather couldn’t have been better for our day trip to Capri – the island of money, spectacular views and shopping.  The narrow streets were lined with Gucci, Prada and all the top designer labels.  Our student budgets kept us from venturing into these places, but we did spoil ourselves on manicures.  Just seeing the breathtaking views made the 1.5 hour trip worthwhile.  I’d highly recommend putting Capri on your list of must-see vacation spots.


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Now, vacation time is over and it’s back to my studies.  Term 2 starts tomorrow and I already have loads of reading to catch up on.  However, I think I’ll be going into this term a lot more relaxed thanks to a wonderful holiday with Katharine on the islands of Ischia and Capri. 



Overconfidence Bias October 24, 2007

Filed under: business school,MBA — emccan2 @ 6:35 am

I am just about to head into my second final – Decision making and Data Analysis.  It’s about 7:15am and the exam is in just over an hour.  There is no possible way that I can cram any more additional information into this overstretched brain of mine, so I am moving on to more important things, like blogging.  My average sleeping hours/night over the past few days have been about 5-6, and I’m starting to wonder how that will contribute to my exam performance. 

Perhaps it would have been wiser of me to run an analytical decision model to understand the incremental increase or decrease in exam performance as a result of an increase in sleeping hours per night.  I’m sure I could come up with a decision tree for that.  Or, maybe I should apply Hindsight Bias for my future exam performance and anticipate that since I’ve managed to do well on exams back in my undergraduate days, I will therefor do well on exams for my masters program. You can probably tell by now that I have spent more than 50% of the past 24 hours studying for this exam on Decision Making and am deliriously applying the styles and techniques to everything concerning my daily decisions.  Hopefully, once I regurgitate my knowledge on the exam, all will be lost from my brain and I can go back to everyday illogical thought processes. 

After today, I will have just two more exams and then a wonderful week-long break.  I’m heading to Italy (Rome, Ischia and Capri) for some well-deserved R&R. 


Finally, a break from studies October 14, 2007

Filed under: business school,MBA — emccan2 @ 7:34 am

The stress of preparing for Term 1 exams has set in, as we are now only 2 weeks away from our first exams of the course.  Before settling in to a week of cramming, the group decided to have a night out together at a pub just south of the city centre called Searsons.  Even though we are together all day and sometimes throughout the evening, many of us didn’t pass up the opportunity for social interaction outside college. 

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Before hitting the town, my roommate Lisa and I enjoyed a fantastic home-cooked meal thanks to our lovely friends Maureen and Kevin.  You can read more about this lovely couple at  I was a bit tacky and brought over a 2005 Robert Mondavi Merlot that I’d open the previous evening, but had to share the remainder with my American friends because I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity to share some fantastic Californian wine.  

Lisa and I decided to head into the city after going to Searsons and had a night of exploration as we stopped at Anseo and then Davy Byrnes  (picture below).  index_05.jpg I much prefer the latter establishment, as Anseo gives me the feeling that I have just stepped into a high school party at someones overly-cramped basement. 

 The rest of the weekend has been devoted to schoolwork, but I’m glad to have had one night out before settling into study mode.