Havard Blog #7

A move to Cambridge.

It started at 7:30 Am Wednesday Jan 3 2018, a clear morning I think. The sky was black-black.  It being so early that either the sun had gone out or we are in the middle of winter in Canada, where in the wisdom of governments we are subjected to delight savings.  If we have been saving all this time, don’t I get some back as a dutiful Goldie Oldie?  No. The scant sliver of daily sunlight in Northern climes is reserved for Kindergarten children who come home at 2:00PM while their parents are subjected to this merciless cold blackness.  I think hell was invented by people from southern hemisphere. Cold and black is Hell.

The drive started well enough with our little electric car struggling under the weight of Diana’s 10 suitcases,  I had exactly one suitcase.  I figured I could wash my underwear at at least once in a year.

Again I struggled with the concept of Border crossings and a car packed to the gills.  The potential of being made to take it all apart again to find that sliver of space required for Diana’s 7th carry-on bag. Cars are like airlines they only allow one carry-on.  Every flying woman boarding a plane I have ever seen has at least seven carry-ons.  To  my complete joy and possible orgasmic relief the Homeland Security Chap took our visas and passports, give them back and with a smile waved us on. Yes, he did.  God knows our car was so laden-down it could have been full of smuggled genuine Ontario Maple Syrup.  This being a complete falsehood because the real Maple Syrup suff comes from Quebec.

The roads and weather were fine.  Always leave before the storm. The American media was in anti-fake news frenzy as they reiterated the “Bomb Storm” was coming to Boston.  It seems the Meteorologists invent a new word for interesting weather patters every year.  Last year it was “A Polar Vortex”.  Do they think we are stupid?  Its a “Snow Storm” .  Thats it.

Our little Tesla surged on bravely and asked for electron feeding stops at regular intervals, which mercifully did away with the usual female banter of suggesting that driver (me) needs a coffee.  The phrase is a common feature in the female of the species, and translates to,“stop the car I want to pee”.   Now, I went to an all boys school, where we learn with avid ardour the nuances of women.  We males, after many years, have  learnt this turn of phrase, if not at our peril.

Diana had an uncontrollable urge to use her 15,000 words/day as we drove down from Toronto.  The unbridled loquaciousness all started by reading out loud every single road signs to me as we drove for 1000 kilometres.  Men can actually drive a car with out talking…all the time!.  We just think dirty thoughts to stay awake.

However, in her defence she did buy food at one of the charging stops in preparation for the “Bomb Storm” so yesterday we set up house.  The down side is the food selection.  No English muffins and Marmalade oozing with butter.  Diana has decided we are on a diet for 30 days. The worst of which is, no wine…at all…Oh My God, I don’t beleive it!  How will I ever survive?

Arrived at 10:30 PM un-packed car and slid into cold sheets to dream about the ensuing “Snow Bomb”.


Harvard Blog #6

The last day of orientation began at 6:15 in a darkened house dark and cold street with overcast black skies. It seems to me we were the only people stupid enough to move out of the Charles Hotel and into our apartment. The Charles hotel was very posh and also very expensive.

Freshmen students should suffer. It’s a given.

The Charles hotel have redeemed themselves from fire alarm fantasy by returning lost bundles of cash.

We were whisked off to the HBS, yes another acronym Harvard business school for a breakfast of muffins and yoghurt all quite good.

Rising at ungodly hour in the black requires vast quantities of potent coffee the downside of that is that you have a tendency to Pee a lot. I am now familiar with every public private and otherwise washroom in a 10 mile radius of Harvard Square.

ALI explained the nuances of Harvard and when classes actually start. The things that we must do to be totally prepared. Sitting in a room of triple type As is a very difficult exercise for someone to shy as I am. However, I did get to ask one question where the washroom was.

Lunch was served in the room the size of a small Gothic cathedral with a commensurate ceiling height and being absolutely cold where the people are. I am told that the room was heated.

Off to dinner with Will Robbie Carling and Jeff. This should be a great lark as we lurch into the darkness of Cambridge.

I shall report back tomorrow after my hangover clears.

We are back in Toronto tomorrow night.

Harvard Blog #5

The warm cuddly feeling of the Harvard welcome yesterday has been completely shattered. The relaxed informal way was shot to death very early in the morning as we had to rise at 6:15 AM in order to be on time for the walk to the Harvard Kennedy school. I don’t think I have ever been up that early even when I was working. ALI is clearly making us old people understand that school is starting as of today. Early to bed early to rise.

I must say that I am so excited having attended the opening session at Harvard Kennedy School marketing was alive and well. The programs they offer sound interesting exciting and border on totally thrilling. It’s like I’m a student again… for real!!

As in all major conferences we were served a light breakfast primarily of purple yoghurt and good things like granola. I am still reeling from last night’s dinner.

The schools’ various faculty’s participation and salesmanship of their courses they are offering is riveting.   I started getting goosebumps in anticipation of the learning excitement.

At the various lectures that we went on today Diana and I did not sit together or hold hands but tried to sit with different people to learn about them and their desires within the program. By desires I mean educational expectations.

Lunch was served at the Harvard Law School with some discussion on the wrongly convicted.

Harvard Medical School and public health initiative. Quite frankly I never knew that public health could be so complicated. The concern was not necessarily public health within the context of the American environment but globally. I did ask the question of which public health system was thought to be the best in the world. Australia was chosen. Sorry Canada. Canada we have to pull up our winter socks.

At the end of the day we had a walking tour of Harvard being given by a young student who was charming attractive and of Irish extraction. Diana wanted to take him home for lunch. Interestingly enough, he was all of 21 years old knew more about Harvard than probably Harvard knew. He was finishing a four year degree in social anthropology. Good Lord, I can’t even spell the word, let alone know what it means.

Such a neat young man of course I tried to adopt him on the spot. If he was what the student body of Harvard is, the world is in good hands. There are no slackers here.

Dinner was served with hovering hors d’oeuvres and sufficient quantities of Pully Fuisse. It will be depressing going home having to eat Kraft dinner.

The other excitement of the day which is totally off-the-wall and surprising is that the hotel actually found the money that I had lost ($250) and clearly it was fond by the lady that cleans the room. The honesty that was displayed was exemplary. She could’ve pocketed it and no one would have ever known the difference. She deserves many kudos.  Good for you Charles Hotel!

We checked out of the hotel early and are now back at our 72 room palace with the heat struggling to keep up.

Overall the day was unbelievably exciting fruitful and rewarding.

Most of this year‘s cohort are Americans, there are people from other countries who are ultimately interesting and all have something to say as they are articulate expressive and sincerely want to change the world for a better place. After all that’s what ALI is all about.

Tomorrow brings another day of early classes… I’m excited.

Harvard Blog #4

Oh yes, the Charles Hotel, having arrived at the hotel post dinner with great surprise and relief our luggage and my deodorant were safely delivered to our room. The hotel is a very posh. A large eiderdown type bed in Boston Massachusetts is an anomaly. The bed in fact is so big and so American that I have to take a taxi to get to the other side. I must’ve lost Diana at least three times during the night. The hotel was exceedingly helpful in helping us over come our lost and found situation.  The down side of the Charles Hotel s their fire alarm which all started at about 1:30 AM and no one certain terms.  The room fire alarm is a 300 decibel speaker.  It went off not once, but three times to encourage guaranteed insomnia. If that didn’t work the hotel apologized at least 18 times post each event. This is not fake news, but it might be a Russian plot  after all we are in America.  Diana slept through the last alarm sequence.

Fire alarms want you to leave the building. Being in a somewhat lethargic state I did not leap out of bed, nor did I leap down to the front lobby scantily clad in a pair of boxer shorts. This of course preserved my dignity and was perhaps a considerate conclusion for the other guests.  No one wants to see me naked.

Think of it this way, I saved a major international exhibit from being over exposed by not following fire alarm. No,  I stayed snuggled in the bed and put the pillow over my head and said “fuck off” .  The third adventure with the fire alarm seemed to be excessive. I have no idea why public address systems or those in control insist on apologizing about  everything seven times.

I suggested to the manager that they should give us a free breakfast at which he laughed uncontrollably. As you can see, they were not at all sympathetic.

We walked over to the ALI officies for a computer sign-up process. Harvard seems to take Security to an extreme level.   I must’ve entered my password no less than 28 times with a very nice young accommodating PhD student helping me walk through this process. I assure you, to complete this process nothing less than a PhD is required. I now have a Harvard ID.

Wow, anything dealing with the Internet and security is completely exaggerated. The young student helpers were always courteous and helpful suggesting that Security was of prime concern for older students as you will never remember a 16 digit totally made up word. I now have a password that includes all variations of the keyboard. Will I remember it?  No !  Help…

Now, I find it hard to remember my mothers first name let alone a Harvard password. It is of course secure, primarily from its intended user.

We are then back to our rooms to freshen up to be ready for the initial classroom exercise at the Harvard business school.

Remember education is a business and Harvard is very good at selling you the program. The first third of the lecture was how great Harvard is.  The second third is how great the cohort is.  The last third is how great the Harvard Business School is. Of course every thing at Harvard uses acronyms, just to confuse the uninitiated.   HBS could stand for a number of less attractive words.

This cohort, who I must say, are very bright, accomplished and very talented. Quite frankly, I shouldn’t even be here. One member of the cohort is the first female Prime Minister of Peru. I find it hard to travel in these circles.  I am, but a mere simple Canadian peasant.

Dinner was sponsored by ALI which was good and included an acceptable California red.

The overall day was fascinating. The downside, I lost $250 out of my wallet. Really dumb.  I do hope some impoverished MBA student found it and it makes her day a little better.

Off to bed.