Tuesday, January 31, 2006

On Being Late (from Mungowit's End)

Mike Munger is at it again. He has a great post on poeple who are chronically late. Here's Mungo's "Five True Facts About People and Time" in distilled form:
  1. The busier the person, the less likely they are to be late.
  2. The closer the person's office to the meeting room, the more likely they are to be late to the meeting.
  3. Small meetings can have convergence problems, just like maximum likelihood estimations (gotta have some econometrics background to fully appreciate this one).
  4. If you are always late, it's not an accident.
  5. Lateness is ingrained, as a social convention.
There's more - read the whole thing here.

I'd also add a sixth one: "The person who's always on time for meetings is more productive than the one who's chronically late." The inability to self-disipline yourself to do something as simple as making it to a meeting on time is a very good predictor of self-displine in other areas.

And self-disipline (not intelligence, training, or anything else) is IMO the single most important factor in being productive.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Monday's Are Tough This semester

I can tell Mondays will be tough this semester. I teach two sections of introductory finance (at 11 and 2), and then teach a case course (advanced corporate) from 6-8:40.

Since the Unknown Son and Unknown Daughter get up before 7 and I have a 45 minute commute each way, it makes for a long day (particularly since I was prepping for the advanced class tonight almost up until it started).

On a good note, so far this year I'm up to 30 days in which I spent at least an hour on research each day. One of the best things about keeping a log of my research time is that skipping a day means you have to put a big fat zero into the log. So, when I got home (after unwinding a bit with the Unknown Wife in front of the tube), I fired up Hal (my notebook) and put in an hour editing tables for the paper I'm working on. The tables should be finished tomorrow morning, and will then get sent out to my coauthor for him to do a "nit check" on.

While the coauthor checks out the tables, I have to put in some time on a proposal for a summer funding grant from my university with another co-author. The grants are awarded competitively, and the process involves submitting a 6-7 page grant proposal. It's nothing new, and I get summer funding more often than not, but the due date's next Monday, so it's time to get started.

It's not that much money (a couple thousand), but since I'll be working on the project anyway, I might as well get paid for it.

Ah well, now that I've wound down from teaching, it's time to go to bed.

Go UConn Huskies!

Since Larry Ribstein just mentioned about his Illini (not a half bad team there), I thought I'd weigh in with my $0.02. Justlook at who's at the top of the rankings for now.

And no, it's not Duke.

Go Huskies! (at least while it lasts...)

This Week's Carnival Of The Capitalists

This Week's Carnival Of The Capitalists is up at Phosita. As always, there's a wide assortment of posts up in a number of categories. My picks of the week are:
David Porter at Pacesetter Mortgage answers the question, Should Home Buyers hold off buying for 2006?

FreeMoneyFinance explains Why I Use a CPA to Do My Taxes Searchlight Crusade explains how to choose the best loan in Payment, Interest Rate and Up Front Costs.

James Hamilton at Econbrowser looks at the relationship between U.S. monetary policy and commodity prices in Soaring commodity prices

The Japan Stock Blog examines Why Pioneer Delisted Its ADRs from NYSE (PIO).

My Money Blog has a Java applet that takes some of the work out of figuring out whether switching banks is worth in Rate Chaser Calculator - Just Plug It In!

Personal Finance Advice addresses where to look first if you have a little bit of extra money in Where To First Invest Extra Money .

As always, take some time to browse around a bit. I only had a bit of time (Monday's my heavy teaching day), I thought I'd highlight a few that caught my eye.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Resolution Update- Week 4

Here's the latest in the continuing saga of my New Year's resolutions.

First off, I'm still not getting my sorry backside (or any other part) out of bed by 6 - I only managed it twice this week. I blame it on the semester starting, but the simple truth is, I need to get to bed at an earlier hour (by 10:30 at the latest).

I've done much better at my research resolution. I still have my string of no "zero productivity" days since the start of the year intact. It's now up to 29 in a row.

I put in an hour on research three days, three hours on two days, and four hours on two days this week. The best news is that I finally finished the empirical part of a paper I've been working on for the last few months (on and off), and the results look promising. Now for the writing of the paper - I've got an earlier draft, but the empirical part has changed so much that this will almost be a new paper.

I've also had a good week as far as getting exercise. I rode on five of the seven days once (for 20 minutes) inside on my wind trainer, and four days (for at least 30 minutes each day) outside. On one day, it was 35 degrees with winds gusting up to 20 mph, so I felt pretty good about just getting outside. This might not seem that cold to you non-cyclists, but heading into the wind on a bike makes for some severe windchill. On one day, the temperature got up to 53 degrees, so I got in a ten miler. Again, it's not much, but it all adds up.

My weight is still unchanged, but if I keep up with the exercise, it should take care of itself.

"Fairness" In The Classroom (via Inside Higher Ed)

From Inside Higher Ed:
At a session entitled "“Perceptions of Fairness in the College Classroom,"” at the annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities in Washington Thursday, faculty members pondered the student who works his or her tail off, but never quite edges out some talented peers who rarely study but ace the test nonetheless.

When that hard working student gets an 89.3 percent, and 90 is an "A"” wouldn'’t it be fair to just give him or her a nudge over the bar?

Read the whole thing here.

I just had a conversation with one of the other professors on my floor. It's always interesting talking to him - he teaches Management, and views many issues in ways that are completely foreign to me (and vice-versa, I'm sure). What always impresses/amuses me about our conversations is how we can both use the same term (like "fair") and have it mean two very different things.

I wonder - how many professors give credit for effort (as opposed to going strictly by "objective" measures like test grades)? And if we do, do we help or help or hurt our students? My impression is that if we're clear about our standards and stick to them, it puts more pressure on the students. And that pressure is not entirely a bad thing (Lord knows, they'll have enough of it in the post-college world). Knowing that a standard is firm and that there's no slack for "trying" makes students work harder, since the chance of failure is greater. And the reason "winning" is so sweet is that losing stinks.

I have quite a few students who took my class, failed once, and came back the second time after "getting religion". I'd guess that more than half of the repeaters ended up with a "B" or better the second time around. Most of these told me afterwad that it was one of tproudestodest academic moments. And a couple of years later, they still remember some of the material.

I also wonder if there's a difference across disciplines in the attitude of professors toward giving "points for effort". At least in my experience, it's much less common in disciplines like finance, accounting, or engineering than it is in ones like marketing, management, or english. If my experience is representative, I'd guess that it's due to several factors:
  • Disciplines like finance are more objective than fields like management (i.e. the payment on the loan is either $635 or it's not).
  • As a result, there's more potential error in assessing performance in less objective topics, and the professors take steps to make sure they don't mistakenly grade students down for errors on their part.
  • Finally, the nature of the discipline determines the type of people who choose to be faculty in that discipline. I've found that finance/accounting people are more likely to view the world in absolute terms than are those in management or marketing. This has a big effect on how we choose to organize our classes, set up our grading, and view performance.
What's been your experience?