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.

Harvard Blog #3

Yes, we arrived at our palatcio,  Your Boston home, should you exit hibernation and endure border crossings.  At the 72 Room modest apartment we were greeted by Robbie Burke and (what’s his name) the professor Richard Cooper (owner).

The Canadian greeter came with he correct attitude a brought a bottle of wine and needless to say, the required corkscrew to open that tight French cork.  Yes, it was Robbie. He also conveyed vast amounts of new linen purchased on Black Friday. The linen was all white, go figure.

We recounted in moaned terms our stories of the day to Robbie who was half asleep and bored absolutely to death. He did help us to consume that last bottle of wine.

We will forgo the pleasures of the bedroom for this particular diatribe, simply because it is unbelievably boring. There were no, nada rising moments of particular interest.  Clunk!

The next morning in our apartment we ferrited around for victimless Coffee beans but to no avail. They were out with the luggage at the local Starbucks. A cup of hot water will do when you’re desperate.

Diana of course is getting more and more agitated by the luggage issue. It had neither been seen nor found by the invisible hand of Air Canada.

Set up of the visa at the Harvard foreign student welcome centre was both painless and very efficient. The way it should be. Do you think they talk to Border people?

We travel back to our apartment and not having a winter coat I was forced to cover myself with my Gucci scarf to try and stay warm.

The evening was spent in the company of a this year’s cohort and six of the future Cohort (2018). A group of people who are unbelievably accomplished all suffering from the same sophomoric high school jitters. Oddly this common weakness was exposed over a fine dinner.

The Figeac claret far exceeded the quality of the main course, if not quality simply quantity.  My main course were sea scallops from Martha’s Vineyard that are the size of Air Canada pretzels. While the meal was good the wine was better.  I do not recommend Martha’s Vineyard scallops. They are tiny. They do talk to Air Canada pretzels.

Off to the Charles Hotel  …. Low and behold the snow God is on our side and he better be, after all we’re Canadian. Our luggage actually had been delivered. Diana’s stress level is now under control.

I’m sure the bottles of Claret helped.

To be continued….