Saturday, December 19, 2009

We're Centerfolds!

Towards the end of the tasting for our reception (way back in May), Matt jokingly asked our amazing wedding planner, Linnea, if she could get our wedding into one of the fancy glossy wedding magazines we'd been reading.

And she did!

We just received today the 2010 issue of Southern New England weddings where we are one of the featured couples. I think it's pretty funny that we're actually in a magazine - just one more wonderful memory to add to the thousands from that day

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Unacceptable: Boston weather in the last 72 hours

The concept of "seasons" was nice. It was a great way to organize activities and wardrobes and just generally feel like we're in control of things. But the time has come to admit we're not in control of nature and just chuck this whole idea of seasons.


See 72 hours of weather in Boston:
Thursday, DECEMBER 3 - 68 degrees and SUN (in Boston! In December!!!)
Friday, December 4 - 54 degrees (closer but stilly absurdly warm)
Saturday, December 5 - 29 degrees and SNOW

Three seasons in three days. Not acceptable.
(but I did enjoy the heat wave, just cruel that it's now freakin' cold!)

Sunday, October 25, 2009


It's been a bit rainy here in Boston which reminded me that I had yet to share photos from another water-logged spot from our honeymoon - Venice. Venice is always truly unique, but there was just something quite magical about it this time...

Cinque Terra

It's been 6 weeks since we visited Cinque Terra on our honeymoon. Even though it's taken forever for us to upload the photos, I'm sure it would have taken us even longer to actually hike the 5 towns (thank goodness for trains, even ones that have no discernible schedule)

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Now on Blogcritics!

I'm taking another writing class at Cambridge Center for Adult Education (CCAE) and learned about a site called Blogcritics. Here's the scoop:

More than 100,000 daily visitors rely upon — the famously
"sinister cabal" of more than 2,500 writers — for the latest news, opinions, and
reviews on music, books, film, TV, popular culture, technology, and politics. is an online magazine, filtered microcosm of the blogosphere,
and a full service news and reviews source, covering all aspects of contemporary
culture and society.

Every week, more than 250 new articles add to an
archive of over 70,000 pieces dating back to 2002. Published articles on begin the conversation, after which commenters chime in to
create an ongoing dialogue. Overall comments to total more than
600,000. is a new kind of online magazine, an interactive
community in which writers and readers from around the globe talk about stories,
issues, and products. If it's happening in the world – from global political
issues to obscure rock bands, from the latest best selling novel to the TV shows
that aired last night – has it covered.

I submitted a couple of writing samples, was "accepted" to be one of their writers and my first essay was just published - The Indians, the Browns, and Me - an essay about the lessons you learn as a Cleveland sports fan (you should also be able to find the article just by going to the Blogcritics front page and scrolling down to the Sports section).

Hope you enjoy the essay (would love to hear your thoughts, either on this blog or as a comment on Blogcritics) and keep checking back for more!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Wine, Naked Men, and Unbridled Power and Ambition

AKA - Brunello wine, Michaelangelo's David, and the Medici family
Gotta love Florence and Tuscany.
We did

Sunday, October 4, 2009

More news from Rome

To tide you over until I'm able to get the photos from Florence posted (soon, I promise), here's a story about how hard it is to truly get away from work, even if only in my own mind

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Rome - The Eternal City

We're finally getting around to uploading, organizing, and captioning photos from the Italian leg of our honeymoon.

Here's the link to our photos of Rome. We hit the high points - The Vatican, Palatine Hill, Roman Forum, Coliseum, Spanish Steps, and the Trevi Fountain. Not bad for essentially 2 days.

In addition to the fun of watching Matt experience all these sites for the first time, I thoroughly enjoyed the moment in St Peter's when, 30 minutes into our 40 minute Rick Steves podcast, Matt quietly came up to me and asked if I was listening to the podcast for St. Mark's.

"Umm no, we're in St. Peter's in Rome. St. Mark's is in Venice. Like the title of the podcast says. So I'm listening to St Peter's"

"Oh, that would explain why I'm having difficulty"

He was really jetlagged

Monday, September 7, 2009

Quick update

We're wrapping up in Florence (spent today in the Tuscan countryside tasting some fantastic Brunello wines) and heading to Cinque Terra tomorrow.

The internet connection at the hotel is crazy slow (yes, we're taking lots of photos but not nearly enough to warrant 7 hours of upload time). Blogger's "Post via e-mail" function let us down so we're going to give SMS and MMS updates a try. This feels dangerously close to Twittering but I'm going to try to ignore that and focus on the band-aid solution it offers for the next week.

"I don't think 'casual' means what we think it means"

(Since we now have to pay for Internet access posts will be slightly less frequent, there will be no photos, and filled with a lot more typos since I am relying on Matt's iPhone)

When Di moved to Seattle, she lamented that her "Boston casual" was apparently "West Coast formal." Knowing that East Coasters tend to erron the formal side, Matt and I were reasonably confident that ourcasual attire would meet the "casual" requirement for our hotel'srooftop restaurant with the panoramic Views of Rome.

We were wrong

we walked in - the waiters were in coats and tails, all the malecustomers were in dark suits, and the women were in cocktail dressesand fab jewelry. In contrast, Matt was in jeans and a dress shirt andI was wearing a t-shirt capris and flip flops. Nothing but class.

Only one thing to do in a situation like that: own it.

The meal was amazing and I was able to survive with only a minor complex.
More from our next city - Florence - soon (I hope)!

Monday, August 31, 2009

Do they make Bull Bars for the VW Eos?

Matt and I concluded Phase 1 of our two-phased honeymoon this afternoon when we departed Bermuda and, after a surprisingly uneventful flight, arrived back home in Boston.

Although we had many non-fun chores ahead of us (unpacking, laundry, errands, re-packing), we were happy to be home, if only for a few hours. That happiness quickly faded once we realized what we had come home to - college move-in time

There are many many colleges in Boston and they're all on the same calendar (not literally, but it sure feels that way). This means that there are two truly horrible times of year for Boston/Cambridge residents. Graduation is one - when new graduates drink away the rest of their loans and stumble about our streets while their parents try to pack 4 years of college stuff into whatever rental vehicle they could get their hands on.

But far, far worse than graduation is move-in week(s). This is because (1) tens of thousands of people who have never driven are now driving in Boston, (2) tens of thousands of people who have never walked in Boston, let alone tried to cross a street in Boston, are now walking around and crossing streets, (3) every store that sells anything resembling necessities - grocery stores, office supply stores, Target - look like they have been ransacked by the barbarian hordes.

It is a truly truly horrible time. So while running around and navigating around the new residents of the Commonwealth, I remembered something I learned about last summer when working on my Trucks project. We spoke to a fair number of ranchers and farmers and several mentioned "bull bars." For the city-folk reading this, think of the half pyramid thing on the front of train engines and the imagine something like that (except more rectangular than pyramid shaped) attached the front of a truck and used to move stubborn bulls (or cows) out of the way without damaging the truck.

I wonder if they make something like that for people because, seriously, the new pedestrian/drivers are no smarter than the average head of cattle. I don't want to hurt them, just nudge them out of the way.

It's a good thing we leave for Italy in 12 hours. We're taking a taxi to the airport.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

"Perhaps it's a good thing we bought the supplemental insurance"

Sorry kids, no photos from Friday. That's because our activity for the day was not camera friendly - we rented a jet ski and went on a tour of the eastern part of the island.

Just a short trolley ride from the hotel is Jews Bay, which is notable only for its 4-star steakhouse and the jet ski company that runs tours for hotel guests. Since we made our reservations late (i.e. the morning of the tour), Matt and I had to share a jet ski. Since we've shared a snowmobile before (see trip to Ice Hotel), I was not terribly concerned about being a passenger despite Matt's tendency to be an aggressive driver.

We set out from Jews Bay, through Little Sound, under Somerset Bridge (the smallest drawbridge in the world, when it is fully up, the opening is only wide enough to allow the mast of a small sailboat to pass through), and into Ely's Harbor. The harbor is actually named for a small outcropping of rocks that has been worn away to look like elephants drinking from the harbor (it made me think of Big Bird in China or Japan, the one with the phoenix and the monkey). It's tradition that when fishermen set out from this harbor, they throw fish to the elephants for good luck. From there it was out into the open sea and, I'm not kidding, the Bermuda Triangle. We saw a shipwreck, stingray, red snappers, and a sucker shark (they usually attach to whales but sometimes get confused and attach themselves to jet skis and go on little rides). We did not see Amelia Earhart.

We were a bit early getting back to Jews Bay so our guide said we could spend 5 minutes doing doughnuts in the open waters. He was also surprised that Matt hadn't yet bounced me off the jet ski and suggested he try to accomplish that in the final few minutes. Obviously, this guide did not know me well. Matt did a few doughnuts which only succeeded in making me a bit nauseous. However, on the last doughnut, he forgot to accelerate properly and flipped the entire jet ski, thus launching both of us into the water. Our guide quickly came to our rescue, giving us his jet ski (which I pulled myself up onto, thank you Cory for all the ab and arm workouts) and jumping into the water to right ours.

As all this was going on, one of the other people on the tour floated by and asked what happened. "He tried to bounce me off so I just decided to take him and the ski down with me." The response - "I get it. Don't get mad. Get even."

Yep. Pretty much sums it up

(p.s. we did not actually need to use the supplemental insurance, but I will no longer question Matt when he suggests that we get it)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Relaxation and Romance

Hi Everyone! This is Matt, and this is my first contribution to ever-so-witty blog that Robyn has started for us. As Robyn mentioned, I am in fact writing this post during the Bucs game - but hey, it's only preseason :) ...

Yesterday, Robyn and I enjoyed one of the most relaxing and romantic days that either of us can remember.

The day started with a couple's spa treatment called "The Ritual for Two." This treatment involved taking an hour to give each other multiple skin treatments in a private room with a warm jacuzzi, sweet aromatics, and very relaxing music (with prior coaching from the experts on Fairmont Spa staff, of course). Following this hour, we were then treated to a simply wonderful whole-body massage - this was definitely the best whole-body massage that either of us can remember.

This was a great start for any day. In fact, this start was so good that it required us to nap almost immediately, and for many hours :)

Thankfully, we recovered from our napping in time to make our "Bermuda Moon Dance" dinner. What is a "Bermuda Moon Dance" dinner you ask? Simply put, it is a very romantic, delicious, fun, and memorable dinner experience that included a five course meal with great wine on the Fairmont hotel's private beach in a beautifully decorated cabana, with table-side food preparation and two butlers to cater to our every need. What really made the evening so special was having the beach to ourselves and being able to take our time talking, laughing, and doing whatever we wanted - this included a break between courses for us to walk the beach and even do a little dancing under the moon.

The picture at the top of this post was taken as we were walking to the cabana at the beginning of the evening. The picture below gives you an idea of what the cabana looked like.

Romantic and relaxing dinners don't get much better! This dinner was the perfect end to what was a truly memorable, fun, relaxing, and romantic day!!

"Holy crap! Is that Ben Stein?"

Post about Wed activities coming soon (I'm going to try to convince Matt to write it, despite the fact that the Bucs game is on) BUT just couldn't wait to write about today's exciting event

We met Ben Stein in the hot tub.

The Fairmont has a fantastic spa (best we've been to) and, if you get a spa treatment or pay a daily membership fee, you get all day access to the private indoor pool, terraces, and hot tubs. So, after our facials (which were awesome), Matt and I decided to spend the day in these exclusive digs.

After several hours of lounging outside, I wandered into the pool area where Matt was lounging. As we were chatting, I looked up and saw across the room someone who looked very much like Ben Stein. I apparently need to work on my "inside voice" because when I uttered the words in the title of the post, the man turned and looked at me.

To avoid further embarrassment, Matt assured me that it was not Ben Stein because the hair color was all wrong and suggested we go outside and sit in the hot tub.

After a few minutes in the hot tub, the man who looked like Ben Stein (probably because he IS Ben Stein) joined us. He gave us a bit of applause for getting married, congratulated Matt, wished me good luck, and gave us the following advice: "Walk around with one eye closed" (considering he's married the same woman twice, he may know what he's talking about. Matt just thinks he's a cynic). We also chatted a bit about politics (the passing of Sen Kennedy and plans to fill his seat) and the importance of getting a hot tub for our apartment in Cambridge. Also, in a rare display of self-control, I did not ask him to say, "Bueller. Bueller" Possibly because I wanted to avoid further embarrassment or because I thought I should mention something slightly more recent than a 23 year old movie quote.

It was only a few minutes, but it was the most super awesome non-romantic things that's happened. He's very nice (especially after my outburst) and sounds EXACTLY the same in person as he does on TV.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hamilton, Bermuda


I know Matt and I are supposed to be spending quality time together (and we are), but we're uploading photos each night which means I simply can't resist posting a quick note to say hi and tell you what's going on.

Yesterday was a lost day (apparently, after 11 months of working and planning a wedding and trying to have a life, my body thinks that 5 seconds of down time = time to go into a 5 hour coma), but today we were wildly productive. And by "wildly productive" I mean getting out of bed at Noon and making it to Hamilton for a 4:00 reservation for High Tea.

We've uploaded photos to Kodak Gallery. I was able to caption the photos but not rearrange them into a somewhat logical order (which is driving me nuts). Anyways, hope you enjoy them and we'll continue to post to this album while in Bermuda

Love you all!

Robyn and Matt

Wednesday, August 12, 2009


Although I've been terribly remiss about updating this blog, I have found the time to post to my company's blog (which is a bit like cheating on this blog, but we have an understanding)

So, in lieu of an actual posting here, you can read my lasting posting there about our new Kindle. Yes, a blog post linking to another blog post is cheating, but I'm just a wee bit busy...

Follow-up to office excitement

The Craigslist posting that caused all that excitement happened in the morning. Then around 10:30 we decided to order Thai food for the office for lunch. The excitement of Thai food was enough to permanently distract us from the Craigslist excitement of the morning. As a result, I have no update (but I don't think anything happened)

This is probably a sad commentary on our sad and simple lives but, whatever, I'm just going with it

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Office Excitement

This is probably exciting only to me, but it's been awhile since I posted and this seems like as good a reason as any...

Innosight appeared in Craigslist Missed Connections Personals this morning!

For the uninitiated, Missed Connections is where people can post a message in an effort to meet back up with someone they met but didn't get contact info for. You'll get the idea when you read the post

Anyways, this is even more amusing given that the Innosight employee who was running the session is a 25 year old Mormon guy (married, no kids). Shortly after this link started circulating in the office, he updated his Facebook status to "I did not take the elevator last night" He claims it was his intern Austin who is the subject of the inquiry

There's another group tonight, and there's talk of responding to this girls' post (since Austin will be here. BTW, no one has ever seen this Austin kid, even though he's one of our interns) and then lurking about to see if we made a love connection.

Knowing us, it's all talk. But a happy distraction for a Tuesday

Monday, July 6, 2009

CONFIRMED - Eat Dirt. Live Longer

OK, not exactly. But very close.

For a while I've been lamenting the fact that kids don't play outside anymore and do all the things we did as kids - play tag (and the 932,874 different versions of it that can be spontaneously created), play baseball with 5 people (thank goodness for those Ghost Men who ran the bases), and, most importantly, spend hours gleefully playing with water, dirt, and mud.

These laments are often summed up by the statement, "That's why kids these days are always so sick. They don't eat dirt like we did. They need to eat more dirt." And, being someone who does not have kids, I am fully qualified to make these proclamations.

Now it seems that agrees with me. Admittedly, this article leaves out those of us who came of age in the 80s but I think it still applies. Goodness knows, none of use ever wore a helmet when riding our bicycles (I still remember the kid on the news who was probably 10 years old when he explained to the reporter that he wouldn't wear a helmet because, "you can't pick up girls with a piece of Tupperware on your head")

Now, go feed your kids some dirt. They'll be better for it.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I'm not sure that's a compliment

Yesterday, just like every Tuesday morning, Matt and I went to visit our personal trainer, Cory. As we were sweating our our warm-ups, she happily announced that we were the inspiration for her latest venture.

As a bit of background, in addition to being a great personal trainer, she's started her own business focused on helping people adopt healthier lifestyles through exercise, better eating habits, etc. Right now it's just a blog with info about her boot camps and exercise tips like how to get a workout in while shopping.

So anyways, she announces that we're the inspiration for her latest product - a DVD/CD-ROM that will help people quickly identify bad habits and give them ideas on how the small steps they can take to be better.

"That sounds like a great idea!" we said, "why are we the inspiration?"

"It's titled 'Your job is killing you' and it's for workaholics."

It's one thing to think that your job is killing you, it's a whole 'nother thing to have that confirmed by someone else

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Do you remember the Letter People?

The topic came up at work on Friday (yes, in the context of food, and yes, it is pretty sweet to work at a place where my random and strange thoughts are occasionally helpful) and NO ONE knew what I was talking about and EVERYONE thought I was crazy.
So, if you remember the Letter People, would you let me know? It will help to know that I'm not alone (even if it does turn out to be a show only people in Mentor watched)
And, if you want a stroll down memory lane, just check out some of the clips on YouTube

Monday, May 4, 2009

UPDATE - Getting Published

The first issue of Puffin Circus, the lit mag that picked up one of my essays, is now on sale.

Despite what the subscription page says, it's $0.99 for a downloadable copy and $5.99 for a bound copy.

If you've got the $0.99, please support the magazine that supported me!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009


Loyal readers of this blog know that I have a slightly strange crush on (one of) CNN's Senior Political Correspondent, David Gergen. He is the voice of reason in the mad mad world of politics and cable news commentary.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to see him in person AND hear him speak

He was speaking as part of The Cambridge Center for Adult Education's "Wicked Smart" series at the First Universal Church in Harvard Square. Matt joined me (I think he wanted to make sure I didn't try to run off with Mr. Gergen) for the 1.5 hour interview session. He spoke about a broad range of subjects - the economy, foreign policy, the Obama administration. But the topic that was most surprising and endeared him even more was his passion for education.

He became absolutely animated (if you've seen him on AC 360, you know what a change that is) when talking about the need to invest heavily in K-12 education, of its importance to every aspect of the nation, and its necessity to achieving our short and long term goals.

He's so wise. And that's why I have a strange crush on him and why I was so happy to finally see him in person

(BTW, he was on AC 360 later that night wearing the same tie. I got irrationally excited about that. )

Thursday, April 23, 2009

End of an Era

You may have noticed that blog posts have slowed a bit. That's because last Monday, I finally got staffed. I'm working on an 8 week case and actually spent Tuesday in Chicago leading a 3 hour meeting (yes, that's a 3 hour meeting with the client exactly 7 days after we started the project).

Hours aren't much crazier than usual but it is cutting down on my blogging time. Sad, especially since these is so much to blog about! But I'll try to catch up this weekend so stay tuned :)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Happy Patriots' Day!

Welcome to the world of the quintessentially Boston

Today is Patriots' Day, perhaps the most exciting day in the year to be in Boston. The Red Sox game starts at 11:00 so you can start drinking before Noon without feeling like an alcoholic and the Boston Marathon is broadcast on the local networks so you don't have to feel like a lazy drunken slob and stand on the marathon route to cheer on the runners. Many people have the day off and those that don't wish they did. And, this year it's not raining AND it's above freezing. So all in all, a very good day.

So why doesn't the rest of the country celebrate Patriots' Day too? Good question. It could be because they're not as patriotic as us Bostonians (although I think some people in the Red States may take offense to that assertion). Or because Bostonians will take up arms (again) and revolt against the powers that be (again) if you take away a holiday focused on drinking AND baseball. But I'll let you decide. Here's the history of Patriots' Day (thank you Wikipedia):

Patriots' Day (sometimes incorrectly spelled Patriot's Day or Patriots Day) is a civic
commemorating the anniversary of the Battles of Lexington and Concord, the first battles of the American Revolutionary War. It is observed in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and state of Maine (once part of Massachusetts), and is a public school observance day in Wisconsin. Observances and re-enactments of these first battles of the American Revolution occur annually at Lexington Green in Lexington,
, (around 6am) and The Old North Bridge in Concord, Massachusetts (around 9am). In the morning, a mounted reenactor with State Police escort retraces Paul Revere's ride, calling out warnings the whole way.

I also think there's a nice symmetry to the fact that Tax Day is occasionally postponed to accommodate Patriots' Day. Good to know that the idea of "no taxation without representation" is alive and well (although this time the lack of representation would be due to, again, the lawmakers and taxpayers likely being drunk and/or at a Red Sox game).

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Sweet Victory

Before the baseball season started, I told Matt that if the Indians won only one game all year that I would be happy as long as that one game was the Yankees home opener. Nothing could possibly be more awesome than handing the Yankees a loss in their first game in their brand spanking new ballpark.

And the Tribe did just that. After spending the first week looking like they'd be lucky to win one game (any game) all season, they went to the Bronx and beat the Yankees 10-2 on Thursday night. Then, as if that were not awesome enough, they had a 14-run second inning yesterday to beat the Yanks 22-4 (interesting stat, the Yankees' 4 worst losses in history are all to Cleveland).

As a native Clevelander, I say: Go Tribe!
As someone who's lived in Boston, I have to say: Yankees suck!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Matt Jarman's Day Off

You need to expect the unexpected when working at a start-up. Add this to Matt's already manic work ethic and it leads to very very long hours and few weekends off (which works well, since, depending on the case that can often be my schedule too).

But Friday, Matt took the day off (well, half a day, but that's HUGE progress)!

I went to his office at Noon (figured that my physical presence would help minimize the chances that "something came up") and we did 30 minutes of cardio at the gym in his office. Then it was off to lunch, a couples massage at our favorite spa, shopping, and dinner downtown.

It was a wonderful and relaxing day and I am SO proud of Matt for finally taking a day off!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I want to be Juicy Bling Bling

Last night, while uncomfortably wedging myself into half-pigeon and trying very hard to focus on my breathing (which is hard when your leg is threatening to snap off), our yoga instructor announced that he wants to be Juicy Bling Bling.

The proclamation went something like this: "Let go of all that the world is putting on you. That you are letting the world put on you. Let go of the person the world is trying to make you be. Become the person you want to be. Breathe into the person you want to be. I want to be Juicy Bling Bling."

Now, I know that I'm supposed to be present and focus on my breathing, but when a Scottish man named Gregor announces that he wants to be Juicy Bling Bling, it is VERY hard not to laugh

BTW, Juicy Bling Bling is apparently a doll he bought for his fiancee's daughter and he wants to be this doll because with a name like Juicy Bling Bling, you're unstoppable. Umm, ok.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Every journey begins with a single step

I'm about to be a published author.

There are notebooks scattered (in mostly secret places) around our apartment where I've jotted down thoughts and stories for years. In down times at work, I've taken writing classes and, for a few months, was part of a writer's salon in Cambridge.

But, like all insecure people, I was terrified of sending my writing out to be published. It is so personal, very very much a part of me, and to get rejected would be devastating. But, when I graduated from HBS, I made a public promise that I would refuse to be afraid and instead welcome the rejections "as evidence of a dream pursued."

In February I took a class all about the business of getting published - how to find publications and approach them, building a resume, negotiating rights, etc. With my considerable downtime and inspired by the old book smell of Baker Library, I sent an essay to a few publications, just to see what would happen.

Less than 24 hours later, it was accepted by Puffin Circus, a new literary journal out of Pennsylvania.

The story may or may not appear on-line and if it does, I will definitely post a link to it here. The bound version of the journal will probably come out sometime in late Summer (submission deadline is June 30) and, of course, I'll keep you updated on that too.

I am about to be published. It is a single step towards one day - maybe, hopefully - writing the novel that replaces Moby Dick in the American Lit canon and spares millions of kids the irritation of discussing "Call me Ishmael" for 50 minutes. (Hey, we all have to have a motivating goal)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Mentor on the national stage

Diana and I have a long held theory that EVERYTHING is somehow connected to Ohio. If you live outside the state and pay attention, you will find that Ohio is mentioned with an eerie frequency in news stories, conversations, and interactions with strangers.

But this week, our dear little Mentor made the front page/top headlines on both CNN and MSNBC.

One story is happy:
Natasha's lesson helps save Ohio girl

One is sad:
Parents sue school over bullied son's suicide

But at least neither is as embarrassing as the news out of Newark, Ohio (just east of Columbus)

Thursday, April 2, 2009

The Joys of Old Book Smell

Things may be slow at work for me but some of my co-workers are still diligently working away on cases for their clients (thank goodness). As such, I've been tapped to help one of the teams develop a business plan for the business they are creating for their client.

You may assume that, as an MBA, I have some clue about how to write a business plan. I do not. I understand the concept and, like most other MBAs, can talk about it rather convincingly. But I have never actually written one. In fact, I'm not sure I've even seen one.

But this feeling of absolute cluelessness is not a new one for me and thus I know exactly how to handle it. Google + HBS = enough information to be dangerous

So today, instead of going into work or lounging around the apartment in my bathrobe, I walked across the river to my alma mater and Baker Library. Baker was under construction during my 2 years at HBS so I was quite excited to use it. Convincingly disguised as a student, I didn't need to show ID to get access to the Reading Room (photo above, not too shabby, eh?) and spent a lovely several hours hunched over one of the giant desks typing away. But my true joy came when I went to the Stacks.

The Stacks are accessible only by an elevator located just outside the Reading Room. They are in a sub-basement of the library, in a sterile room that simply overwhelms you with light beige the moment the elevator doors open. The bookcases are on tracks and you have to crank giant wheels to pry them apart and create enough space for you to walk between them and find your books. But the best, most absolutely wonderful, simply joyful part is the smell - it smells exactly like a library filled with old leather bound books. Damn, I love that smell. It's the smell of history and knowledge and discovery and if someone bottled it and sold it I'd buy a case.

It reminds me of grade-school trips to the library, hunched over the card catalog, wedging a stack of books between my cupped hands and clenched jaw, slamming them down on the check-out counter and listening to the ca-thunk of the date stamp on the card before the librarian slips it back into its pocket and flips the cover shut.

Those days are over. Not because I'm old (which I am) but because everything is on-line. No more card catalogs with drawers filled with manually typed index cards. No more checking out a 300 page book just to have access to the 2 paragraphs you need. No more ca-thunking stamps or envelopes. Just computers and bar codes and Google.

Yes, it makes life A LOT easier but I also feel like I miss out on something. The triumph of locating a book on the shelf. The satisfaction of finding the passage the perfectly sums up and supports your thesis. The comfort of believing that the more books you have, they easier your paper will be to write

And, of course, the old book smell of a library

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

You have chosen... wisely

Now that I am firmly immersed in crazy Sauna Yoga, it is time to re-balance the universe and become obsessed with something that requires minimal to no (preferably no) movement.

Enter: Wii LEGO Indiana Jones

As some of you will remember, when Matt and I went to LEGOLand in Billund (Denmark) we spent hours playing LEGO Star Wars and, when we got back to the US we purchased our own copy (but it was for the PS3 which doesn't really work anymore, so we haven't got to play it much). When Matt heard that LEGO had an Indiana Jones game coming out AND that you could use the Wii nunchuk as Indy's whip, he quickly bought a copy.

It lay untouched for about a year until one lazy Saturday we decided to unwrap it and play a bit. Since then, I have been obsessed. Wide-eyed, non-blinking, drooling, snapping, bossy obsessed. I am manic in my insistence that we beat every single element of every level (Completed, 100% True Adventurer status, post, and all artifacts). I haven even gone so far as to go on-line and find a manual of hints so that when I get stuck I can get un-stuck (but I never read ahead and only use the manual once I really feel like I've given it my best shot 20-30 times because to do otherwise would be cheating)

So far, we've completed all the levels in the first movie and I've achieved all the elements in the first two scenes of the first movie. We have a long way to go but, with Di and Adam as examples, and some slow decision making by my client, I'm sure we can make it!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Sauna Yoga - Take 2

Friday, still slightly sore from my crazy yoga experience, I excitedly recounted my adventure to the friend who recommended it.

FRIEND: "Where did you take the class?"
ME: "Bikram Yoga in Harvard Square."
FRIEND: "You went where! They do crazy %$$ *&^% there! How did you even survive? Are you )*^$@!# nuts!)
ME: "I thought they were kind of crazy but you told me to go do hot yoga so I did. You didn't tell me there were different kinds of hot yoga. These are things you need to mention!!!"

(On a side note: the fact that my friend was swearing like a truck driver is all my fault. When we started working together we had a particularly disastrous meeting and, afterwards she looked at me and said, "Robyn, I was so mad at him I was swearing in my head." Now, after working with me for 4 months, she swears like a sailor. Go me.)

She pointed me to a different studio a bit further from our apartment (in Porter Square for those who know the area). This one practices vinyasa yoga in 90-100 degree temperatures. Oh, and the poses are far more reasonable - they still do Dead Body pose but also Warrior 1 and 2 (2 is my fave) and Tree (which I'm getting a bit better at, which means I don't fall over instantly)

I'm totally hooked, so much so that I actually bought a towel to place on my rented yoga mats (it catches the sweat and sticks to the mat a bit better than a regular towel, so when you're hopping from pose to pose you have less chance of slipping)

Tomorrow is a 4:00 class. I am so excited you cannot imagine!

Friday, March 27, 2009


This post may be a bit gauche given the current economic times, but it's just such a momentous event that I can't help but share....

Getting an MBA is not cheap. In fact, I often describe my two years at HBS as "the best 2 years $120,000 can buy." Most of that money, of course, came in the form of loans - some from the US government, but most from CitiBank.

Last Friday, I paid off my CitiBank loan!

This is HUGE because (1) the amount I owed was huge and (2) the original repayment schedule was 10 years meaning I would be 40 before I paid it off.

But now I am free of that horrible predatory lender (don't get me started on the games the play) and can finally start spending that money on more important things. Like shoes.

(just kidding Dad, it's going into savings)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

It seemed like a good idea...

Since my last case wrapped up in early March, I've been "on the beach" waiting for our client to come through with more funding so we can do the follow-on work. "On the beach" is a consulting term that technically means you're not staffed on a client project but you are helping out with internal firm-building activities like writing, recruiting, training, etc. And I am doing all those things. Seriously. But you eventually get to a point where all those things do not take up 8 hours meaning that you essentially have a lot of spare time.

I have been trying to fill my "beach time" productively. Today's adventure (I'll post some of my past adventure soon, but today was just too much) was Bikram Yoga

What is Bikram Yoga? It's essentially 90 minutes of yoga in a sauna (the room is between 90-100 degrees).

Why would I do this to myself? After a couple of weeks of Wii Yoga, I was beginning to realize that yoga really was a tough workout and helped a lot with breathing, so I wanted to get a bit better at it (Tree pose in my world is better known as Timber!). Several people who I consider reasonable, sound decision makers with an average threshold for pain swear by Bikram Yoga and recommended that I try it out.

At Noon today, I did just that.
And I learned 5 things:
  1. The Swedes were right about what should be done in extreme heat. The Swedes love their saunas. The go in, sit down, swear, and occasionally throw water on hot stones. This is reasonable. Bending your body into unnatural positions for 90 minutes in a sauna is not reasonable.
  2. My internal organs can sweat. This is the only way I can describe my body's ability to produce so much sweat. 10 minutes into the class, I looked down at my feet and the had beads of sweat on them. At the end of the class I went to shower and could literally wring sweat out of my underwear. Think about that. I produced enough sweat to make my underwear as wet as if I had jumped into a pool. That is not natural.
  3. The only pose I can do is "Dead Body". Seriously, that's the name of the pose. You lie on your back with your palms up and breathe. And I even had to get corrected on this pose (my palms were flat).
  4. Oak is more flexible than I am. I knew that some of the more crazy poses (like when you stand on one leg, kick your other leg back, reach your hands over your head and grab your leg, essentially turning your body into a giant O balanced on your one leg) were not going to happen. But when you can't even flex enough to touch your toes, it's just embarrassing
  5. I should have started this experiment in the winter. It would have helped me appreciate the -20 degree days more because, I assure you, once you spend 90 minutes in a sauna nothing makes you happier than cold air

What does all this mean? I'm going back tomorrow for the 3:00 class. And I'm bringing extra underwear.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Making sense out of nonsense

It's official. The economy sucks. We've known this for awhile courtesy of the non-stop reporting on unemployment, GDP declines, plummeting consumer confidence, the housing crisis, etc.

But why have things gotten so bad and how did we even get into this situation?

If you're like me and watch 10+ hours of CNN a week (seriously, the chance to see David Gergen always gets me to tune in to the full 2 hours of AC 360 even though I know that hour 2 is just a replay of hour 1. and I'm not the only one) you have maybe cobbled together a vague understanding that, if we're honest, is just a regurgitation of non-stupid things said by Ali Velshi (he says so many stupid superficial things that it's relatively easy to remember the semi-intelligent comments).

OR you could watch these fun and amusing videos:

The Crisis of Credit Visualized

(Thanks to Matt for finding and sending this)

The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

Bird and Fortune - Subprime crisis

WARNING - this is a British comedy duo so they don't have American's sensitivity for political correctness. There aren't any swear words but the characterization of people who took out mortgages that they couldn't afford may offend some.

Monday, March 9, 2009

I. Have. Had It!

I will admit that one when chooses to live in New England, one gives up the right to complain about cold weather and snow. Complaining about cold New England winters is like complaining about hot Arizona summers - you knew what you were getting into, so shut it.

I will also admit that when one has lived in New England for any period of time, one becomes accustomed to the fact that seasons do not occur in an orderly fashion. In fact, one can experience multiple seasons (for example Winter, Spring and Summer) in a 24 hour period. And it is not unusual for it to be 90 degrees on May 30 and 35 degrees on June 1 (yes, those are consecutive days). When you're new to New England, you have a right to complain about this because it's not a widely publicized aspect of the region. But once you've lived here for, oh, say going on 6 years, you have lost the right to complain about absurd temperature swings in 24 hours because you know that such nonsense happens every single year.

But today the weather has gone too far!

Last Monday (March 2), Bostonians awoke to 8-12" of snow. We were not surprised because (1) it's March and everyone knows it can still snow in June and (2) the weather people told us it was coming. Another 4-6" fell during the course of the day. Again, we were not surprised because, well, weather just sucks that way.

It stayed around freezing most of the week until Friday. That's when the weather jumped up to 55 and it rained. We all became a little hopeful that we had seen the last snow of the season and that maybe, just maybe, the 12' high piles of snow (I am NOT kidding) would begin to melt. But, we knew not to hold out breath.

Saturday it was 61. The population of Boston seemed to triple as everyone emerged from hibernation.

Sunday it was 60. We opened the windows in the apt and turned off the heater. It was glorious and we were going to enjoy every fleeting moment of it.

On Monday, we woke up to this:

(note: this is taken from my office window and does not at all give a sense for the heavy swirling snow that is greatly diminishing visibility)

No. Absolutely not. This is unacceptable. We have not seen the ground since January. Every time you see even a granule of dirt (because, let's be honest, the grass has all be suffocated under unending piles of snow), wham! another 12" of snow falls (and that's if we're lucky).

And then, the weathercasters have the absolute gall to get on TV and happily proclaim, "We've finally exceeded the total snow fall from last year!" Bite me. I was here last year and there is no way we got even half as much snow last year as we got this year. I seriously question your measuring methodology AND I do not appreciate being taken for an idiot.

So there. Yes, I know that I should not complain. But HONESTLY. This is ridiculous!

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Heart your heart

February is American Heart Month (has been since 1963, apparently every year Congress requires the President to declare it as such) so I would like to take a short break from my usual ramblings for a public service message

In 2005, my Mom died of a massive heart attack. For years she had high blood pressure despite taking the medication prescribed. She always seemed to be retaining water (swollen ankles), tired, and coughing. We chalked all this up to her busy schedule and her thyroid problem. Now, I know those are all signed of congestive heart failure (CHF). Although she was admitted to the hospital for several days for CHF, her symptoms returned but her doctors just attributed it to her thyroid. Her doctors weren't evil or incompetent, they were just lazy and/or busy (in today's healthcare insurance system, if a doctor spends more than 16 minutes with you, he/she is losing money).
Cardiovascular diseases, including stroke, are the #1 cause of death in the US. It is estimated that one-third of Americans have high blood pressure (hypertension) and that 25% of those people are unaware of their condition. Uncontrolled hypertension can lead to congestive heart failure, heart attack, and stroke.

This means that you need to be your own advocate and since there is a 75%+ chance you have high blood pressure, here are some facts to help you make sure that you are getting the care you need and deserve:

In 2003, Joint National Committee on Prevention, Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Pressure issued its 7th report (JNC-7) on the clinical guidelines to assist practitioners and patients in the treatment of high blood pressure. The expert panel of clinicians was pulled together by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) and its guidelines are the standard physicians should follow.

  • If you have a BP of 120/80 to 139/89 you are considered pre-hypertensive
  • BP of 140/90 to 150/99 is considered Stage 1 hypertensive
  • BP of 160+/100+ is considered Stage 2
  • Every increment of 20/10 mm HG (millimeters of mercury, how BP is measured) over 115/75 doubles your risk of cardiovascular disease
  • These classifications are different for diabetics, so keep that in mind

The American Heart Association is a great first stop for patient friendly information and the latest news and info ( )

  • Hypertension is asymptomatic which means there's no way of knowing whether you have it unless you have your BP taken.
  • It's best to have your BP checked by your healthcare provider but it's estimated that 25% of people currently being treated for hypertension actually have what's referred to as "white coat syndrome." This means that they get nervous just by being in the doctor's office so their blood pressure goes up and it seems like they have hypertension when they're actually just stressed out
  • You can also take your own blood pressure by going to machines in pharmacies or buying a home blood pressure monitor at places like CVS or Wal*Mart. These devices aren't always accurate so call your doctor if you have questions or get a strange reading

Again, according to JNC-7, there is an algorithm for the treatment of hypertension that starts with lifestyle changes (more exercise, healthier diet, reduce sodium) and progresses through a series of different drug classes (diuretics, ACE inhibitors, ARBs, Beta Blockets). Keep in mind, everyone responds differently to medication so you should communicate openly with your doctor if you are having side effects or if the meds aren't working. Whatever you do, DO NOT stop taking your medication just because you feel fine or because you don't like the side effects. Just talk to your doctor and work together to find another way to control your BP.

Finally, the best thing you can do if you or a family member is diagnosed with hypertension or cardiovascular disease is to educate yourself about the diagnosis, prognosis, treatments, and side effects. In addition to the websites above, here are some other good sources:

Now, keep in mind, I'm not a doctor so you definitely shouldn't depend on me or this post for medical advice. In fact, you need to depend on yourself (and your healthcare provider).

I often wonder if my Mom would still be around if we had had access to this information to better understand her conditions and diagnoses and to better work with her doctors to demand better care. But we didn't have access and, heck, she was seeing cardiologists at the Cleveland Clinic, so we didn't think we needed to become experts.

But now you know that you HAVE to be a smart patient and how to access some good info. So celebrate American Heart Month by taking care of your heart so that it will take care of you for a long long time

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pittsburgh Steelers - World Champs

Congratulations to:

- the Pittsburgh Steelers for being the winningest franchise in NFL history

- the fine state of Ohio, whose universities educated both the Steelers Quarterback (Ben Roethlisberger, Miami U) and the MVP (Santonio Holmes, THE Ohio State University)

- Mike Tomlin for being the youngest coach to win a Super Bowl, the 2nd African-American coach to win a Super Bowl, and for bearing an uncanny resemblance to Omar Epps

Thank you to:
- The Pittsburgh Steelers for giving me yet one more set of bragging rights over Matt (who cheered for the Cardinals)

- NFL Network for the 1 full week of pre-game coverage, you've helped break my addiction to CNN (maybe)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Sometimes, I come across or hear something so true that all I can possibly say is, "Yes." Nothing more needs to be said. In fact, nothing more can be said.

When I came across this NYT's op ed piece on the dying art of witty insults (courtesy of a link from another fabulous blog), all I could say was "Yes."

In today's uber-PC, everyone-who-participates-gets-a-trophy world, insults are considered rude. While I agree that stupid, blatantly obvious, or completely irrelevant insults are rude (mainly because they're a waste of time for all involved), some insults are downright essential.

Take, for example, Simon Cowell (admittedly, not the most witty example, but it's late and nothing better is coming to me). Yes, sometimes he does beat a dead horse but think about it people, if he doesn't tell someone who is an awful singer that he would rather listen to a cat being strangled while its claws are dragged down a chalkboard then it is highly likely that that person will go on to (1) believe that they have a future in the music biz, (2) sacrifice years and countless dollars to pursuing that dream, and (3) continue to inflict pain via singing on friends and family. Yes, it sucks to have your dreams crushed. Get over it. It happens to all of us and, personally, if my dreams are going to be crushed, I'd prefer they be crushed with a bit of wit.

So, now that the entire universe has changed due to the inauguration (at least according to CNN, which I continue to watch too much of despite the fact that we are no longer getting CNNHD), please make an effort to dole out witty insults. It is an art form that must not die.

p.s. calling someone an "[expletive] moron" is ok. It's not witty but it's ok. I bring this up only because I'm watching Larry King interview Gov Blagojevich and, really, what else can you call someone like that who compares himself to Mandela and MLK Jr?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Hope. Service. Responsibility

A few notes before we begin:

  • Matt and I maintain a bipartisan household and, as such, we seek to make this a bipartisan blog. So while this post deals with a political event, I will try to stay away from a discussion on politics.

  • I have been watching CNN pretty much non-stop for the past 2 days (thank goodness I have a job that lets me "work from home")

  • I've probably watched West Wing and American President far more than is reasonable
Regardless of your political affiliation, you have to admit that something amazing happened today. A peaceful transfer of power occurred, not just from one person to another but from one party to another. An African-American became President. The Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court screwed up the oath of office (seriously? Dude, it's 38 words long and it's not like you didn't have time to prep or even write down a few notes).

During the non-stop coverage of history in the making, I started to reflect on the 3 themes that seem to have carried us to today...

HOPE - During the campaign, there was a lot of talk about Hope - that it's a good campaign slogan but no way to govern a country, that it's hard to deliver in the face of Washington politics, that it's no reason to vote for someone. And while there's truth in all of those statements, I just have to ask, "What's wrong with hope?" Every day we see stories of increasing unemployment, home foreclosures, and bankruptcies. It's easy to get overwhelmed, scared and depressed. So maybe it's a good thing that someone remind us to have Hope. Seems like we need some right now.

SERVICE - Yesterday was a national day of service in honor of MLK Jr. I hope it's only the first of many. It's so easy to get caught up in our own problems and our own worries. To focus on what's not going right for us or what might not go right. Instead, we need to focus on what we have and on what is going right. It's much easier to do that when you are engaged in helping other, when you realize how relative everything is and how much you truly have to give. So let's give - money, food, time, kindness, a smile. Let's serve - volunteer your time and talent, do a favor, hold the door for a stranger.

RESPONSIBILITY - From President Obama's Inaugural Address:

"Our challenges may be new. The instruments with which we meet them may be new. But those values upon which our success depends -- hard work and honesty,
courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism -- these
things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of
progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these
truths. What is required of us now is a new era of responsibility -- a
recognition, on the part of every American, that we have duties to ourselves,
our nation and the world; duties that we do not grudgingly accept but rather
seize gladly, firm in the knowledge that there is nothing so satisfying to the
spirit, so defining of our character, than giving our all to a difficult task."

for the full transcript, click here: ttp://

You cannot imagine how happy this call for responsibility makes me. Last week, MSNBC posted an article stating that Gen Y is being disproportionately affected by the economy. I found this quote from a 24 year old in CA particularly striking: “Growing up, my parents were telling me, ‘The world is at your fingertips. All you have to do is educate yourself, go to college, and you’d get a prime position right out of school.’ They were wrong.” (you can read the full article here:

As someone who manages a lot of Gen Y-ers, I can tell you that many of them demonstrate an alarming lack of responsibility and an abundant sense of entitlement. I hope that those kids who worked so hard to get Obama elected hear this message and start acting with a sense of responsibility, return to values like hard-work and dedication which make the American Dream possible, and stop expecting everyone to do everything for them.

Hope. Service. Responsibility. These are all good things. They are things we need right now. The days and months ahead will be difficult. The problems we have are incredibly hard which means that finding the right answers will be harder and implementing them will probably be hardest of all. But I think that if we have hope, if we serve others and not just ourselves, and take our responsibilities seriously, amazing things can continue to happen.

p.s. I would also like to compliment Michelle Obama on her choice of shoes in a complimentary color to her dress and her ability to find gloves that match the shoes. Way to accessorize!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

How to make cooking interesting

As many of you know, I am no chef. I like to blame my aversion to the kitchen to a particularly vengeful set of pre-school teachers who never let me play in the kitchen station. Sensitive to the injustice, I would play there anyways, my protests often resulting in a note home.

The couple of times I ventured back in are infamous: adding 4 teaspoons of water instead of 4 tablespoons to rice, forgetting to mix the bowl of dry ingredients back in with the bowl of wet ingredients when making cookies (I still maintain that the Nestle Tollhouse respire left out that step), the chocolate mousse that could have put a hole in the wall, etc.

Eventually (but far too late for my pre-school teachers) I learned my lesson and stayed out of the kitchen.

But Matt enjoys cooking and has tried to get me back in the kitchen. He was making very little progress until his family started an annual Christmas cook-off. With bragging rights and a wood cutting board in the shape of a pig on the line, the kitchen was finally interesting enough for another try. For this Christmas' cook-off, we bought a food processor (we tried making aioli without it last Christmas and it was almost the death of us).

It changed everything. Apparently, as long as there is a fairly decent chance that someone could go to the ER before eating my food, I am more than happy to cook.

How happy? Tonight I volunteered to make mac & cheese from scratch for dinner because Real Simple had a recipe for a "healthier" version that required the food processor to make the bread crumbs and it could be used to shred the cheese.

Think about it. I volunteered to cook. From scratch. Even when it is available from a box.


Friday, January 9, 2009

The Force is with us

Pardon me while I geek out for a moment...

Like many people in my generation (I hope), I have a particular fondness for Star Wars. While I do not consider myself a fanatic (costumes and camping out are lines I refuse to cross) I do still have some of my childhood action figures, the original trilogy on DVD, and the super awesome Lego Star Wars game on PS3.

Luckily, Matt shares this fondness for both Legos and Star Wars. So in November, after enjoying the Chik-fil-a we had driven 45 minutes to get (he has cravings like a pregnant woman, that Matt) we took a stroll through the Lego store in the Burlington Mall and saw it - the most awesome Lego Death Star ever! We had to have it.

Apparently so did everyone else because when we went back a few weeks later, we were told that the only store in all of the US that still had stock was in CA and they were charging $100 for shipping. Right. Even after scouring e-Bay and other websites, we couldn't find one for sale. We were very sad.

The day after Christmas though, Matt went back to and found that they were back in stock (pretty suspicious given that 48 hours earlier it said stock wouldn't be available until Jan 29) and ready to ship. He ordered it and, on Dec 29, we got a very very large box dropped on our doorstep.

What ensued was 5 days of Lego joy. Matt did most of the infrastructure work, I did the interiors and fine details and we both got way way more excited than you should about building droids, trash compactors, and Death Rays.

It was fun and awesome and the best way to spend a week of vacation in snowy and cold Boston. And yes, we do play with it. We're Star Wars geeks. And that's OK, we going to own it.

Here's photos of the whole saga:

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

And we're back

With a new year comes new resolve and so, I'm back to the bloggosphere. After authoring a highly acclaimed (by the 3 people who read it) blog on my adventures in Denmark, I decided to bow out while at the top of my game. But, like so many who have gone before me - Michael Jordan, Brett Favre - I just couldn't stay away.

So I'm back.
Try to contain your excitement.

We're mixing things up a bit this time. First, this blog will not chronicle my adventures in some exotic locale, instead it will be about life in Boston (which I guess could be exotic depending on where you're from). Second, I will not be the sole author of this blog, instead my fiancee Matt will make occasional appearances as a guest author (he was thrilled when I told him). Finally, I will do my best to keep the blog posts short since I realized my previous blog entries were closer in length to novellas than blog posts.

There you have it. We're back and (hopefully) better than ever.
Stay tuned!