Wednesday, December 31, 2014

A Most Cool Day in Pasadena

Armene and Judy
      We find ourselves in Pasadena, California. While the weather is cool here by Pasadena standards, it is a cool day in that I experience a wonderful convergence of many aspects of my life. Being the last day of the year, it is fitting to be thinking of and being thankful for all of these things at the same time. 
     First and foremost, Judy and I spent the day with our daughter Armene. It is her birthday today. My little tax deduction was born 29 years ago today. She is also expecting her first child at any time now. So, this is an exciting time in her life and we are delighted to be here with her and her husband Michael as we wait for our grandson to be born.
     We began the day with a facetime call from our six month old grandson Aris. He and his parents called from New York. It was a great birthday call for Armene from her nephew, brother, and sister in-law. Judy, Armene, and I then went to Russell's an iconic diner in Pasadena. While waiting for our table there, I was seated outside the restaurant while Judy and Armene went to the cupcake
shop to by desert for our New Year's Eve festivities at Michael's aunt's and uncle's. 
     I was sitting there in the cool clear morning noticing the Rose Bowl Banners on the lampposts. Folks in Oregon or Florida State colors were walking by and I was excited to be in Pasadena at this time of year. From when I was old enough to aware of football, I have known about and have wanted to attend the Rose Bowl. This year, I have that chance. As Armene and Michael are Pasadena residents they were able to get four tickets in the resident lottery which is very cool. While, I always thought that my first time in the Rose Bowl would be to see Michigan play, I delighted nonetheless to attend the first ever College Championship Playoff game. I look forward to walking from Armene's apartment tomorrow to the famed stadium and watching the game with Michael, his father Manuk, and his brother Andrew. Just before the game starts, I will hear Dick Enberg's voice in my head saying, as I have heard so many years on TV, "as the sun sets behind the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains..."
     The last dimension of this wonderfully convergent day is the Armenian factor. Over my lifetime, with the Lebanese war in the 1980s and the fall of the
The Blimp take a test flight around the Rose Bowl

Soviet Union and tenuous start of the Armenian Republic in the early 1990s, there has been a wave of Armenian immigrants flowing into Southern California. Armenians now have a significant and noticeable presence in many of the cities including Pasadena. Every time we have ventured out to eat or walk around, we would see Armenians and hear Armenian being spoken. It is very cool. While it is very cool for us, It is so prevalent that it is just commonplace to the locals.
     What a great day for a variety of very cool reasons.
     Happy Birthday Armene.  We love you and delighted to be with you at this special time in your life.
     A most happy, healthy, and prosperous 2015 to everyone. 

Classic Cars Cruising Colorado Boulevard

Monday, December 29, 2014

Watches and The Wall Street Journal

     In reading the Wall Street Journal more regularly, I am struck by the number of watch advertisements. These are usually found on pages A2 and A3 but sometimes on other pages as well. The advertisements are not everyday. I suspect the watch companies have figured out which days the readers are most susceptible to watch advertising and plan their ads accordingly.
     Being the Wall Street Journal, we are talking about very special and very expensive watches. These watches are all for men. After all, the bastions of Wall Street that can afford the kind of watches advertised are men. They are status statement watches. They are pieces of jewelry and symbols of power and luxury. They are made of gold or stainless steel with metal, leather, and, sometimes even, rubber bands. Because of all this, and I reiterate, they are expensive. They are $5,000 and $10,000 on the low end and there is seemingly no high end limit on how much one can spend.
     In a recent paper in early December, there were five ads on these two pages for fine watches. A in the photo, the watches featured are Hublot, Oris, Breitling, Richard Mille, and Parmagiani. Of these, I was only familiar with Oris and Breitling. I have seen ads for the likes of Rolex, Cartier, Omega, Audemars Piguet, Patek Phillipe, Ulysse Nardin, TAG Heuer, and Vacheron Constantin. The vary from the simple and elegant Patek Phillipe to the dizzying array of dials and knobs that Breitling is know for. There are sporty watches that are waterproof in case only ever has to sail in a regatta or escape from a submarine. There are watches with white dials, black dials, gray dials, and see through dials where one can see the working gears of the watches underneath all the very dials. There are big bold, in your face watches, and they seem to have gotten bigger and bolder in recent years and there are the slimmer and more elegant watches.
     My preference is for the simple and elegant timepieces. There is even a watch company, new to me, named MeisterSinger that only sells watches with only one hand. The are really nice looking watches that would appeal to me if they had two hands.  I think I need an hour hand and a minute hand as a bare minimum and the only other hand I would want is a second hand.  
     I was thinking of writing this piece when lo and behold (it is after all the season for lo-ing and beholding), the WSJ printed an article on this very subject on December 26th. Until reading this article, I never gave much thought to the origin of wrist watches. Certainly, I knew that before wrist watches, men carried pocket watches that were secured by fobs and chains. I even carried one for two years during college including, duh, my sophomore year.
     It seems that wristwatches were mostly popularized by pilots. They needed to track time and could not be fumbling around for their pocket watches. From the simplest Cartier Santos (made for a pilot named Alberto Santos-Dumont in 1904) to complicated chronograph and altimeter watches, they were popularized by pilots and craved by the public who admired the flyboys. It is no doubt why “the pilots” of industry and Wall Street love big bold chronographs.
     Upon leaving the corporate world in 2008, I stopped wearing a watch simply because, for awhile, I had no real tight schedule and I was living on my laptop and cellphone both of which informed me of the time with a mere glance. In 2013, basically because I missed the fashion accessory of a watch, I got all my
watches new batteries and began wearing them. My wife bought me the case that holds my daily watches, which from L to R are, Croton, Tumi, Tissot, and a Swiss Army. The Croton and Tumi have metal bands. The Tissot and Movado have leather bands while the Swiss Army is a field watch with a canvas and leather band. There are black, white, and gray dials. Two have markings, one has numbers, one has Roman Numerals, and one is just plain faced. The Tissot and Movado watches were gifts from various Colgate events, the Croton was a gift from a friend for my 50th birthday, the Tumi and Swiss Army were purchases of my own. I do not believe any of these watches cost more than $300. 
     If I were to only to be able to wear one watch, I would choose the Swiss Army watch. I just like look and feel of a field watch.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Reading the Wall Street Journal

     With my new teaching position in the School of Business and Nonprofit Management (SBNM) at North Park University, there are a few perks, very few perks. But, I have taken advantage of a few. First, foremost, and one central to this bloggy bit, is a subscription to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). For $199, I got a two year online and hardcopy full subscription to the revered business newspaper. The same non-academic subscription would have cost $645. It is a pretty good deal. I took advantage of it.
     I never read the WSJ regularly when I was in the corporate world. I should have but for a combination of factors. There was no time which is always a kind of lame excuse. For some reason, I liked the general news of the New York Times or USA Today which was often a freebee when I was traveling. Focused business and financial news were not as critical to my job. I did, however, read quality, logistics, and supply chain magazines for that critical to my job knowledge. Even though my personal WSJ subscription didn’t begin until November 4th, I have read every issue of the WSJ since August 25th.
     We have a SBNM subscription and the Brandel Library at North Park also has a subscription. As the Operations Management Professor, I do what operations and supply chain leaders always do… I get to work early. At least three days a week, I am the person opening the office. As a result, I bring in the WSJ. After settling in my office, I would finish my coffee by reading and perusing the paper from cover to cover. Yes, it was the old fashioned reading of a physical newspaper with all the crinkly sounds and the starting of articles on one page and midway having to flip several pages to finish them. It was old school and it felt good… mostly. Truth be told, I never liked reading part of an article on page n and having to finish it on page n+5. Not having this distraction is a tremendous advantage of the online version in my opinion. 
     While the school papers are free, I did not have online access to save and share articles. In this modern era, this is even more of a nuisance to me than I would have thought. I love to cut, paste, quote, post, and forward articles of interest. Teaching operations and micro-economics, I want to do this with students often in online discussions and to create paper topics. Reading the paper everyday created all of these opportunities. Not having access to the online content required me to have to go to our admin who managed our SBNM subscription. I would have been bothering her every day with multiple requests.
     I would have probably settled for an online only subscription but they did not have that option. I even called the WSJ to try to negotiate an online only academic price. Not surprisingly, the negotiations were to no avail. Thus, I get the hardcopy at home every morning and full online access. I am enjoying reading a newspaper on a daily basis again very much and using it for classroom and assignment purposes even more than I even thought I would. 
     I am feeling like a grownup professional.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas 2014

Our Living Room Tree
Judy Gavoor is an awesome decorator
     I have been writing a Christmas letter to friends, family, and colleagues for the past several years. This little tradition began sometime early in this century. Generally being an early riser, I was up before everyone else. Usually, it was dark. I would get a cup of coffee, sit down at my laptop and write a brief Christmas greeting to valued colleagues and peers that reported to me. Over the years, as I began a daily writing routine that led to monthly e-letters and eventually my blog
     The letters have been short and they have been rather long. They all seemed to start the same with something akin to “It is early Christmas morning…” I would probably still use that opening except for this being noticed and incessantly thrown in my face by my friend and most favorite nuisance Ara Topouzian. As he says, “It least it proves I read your stuff.” Yes, it does. Thank you and Merry Christmas Ara and all my Armenian and musician friends.
     It is not so early in the morning and there is no snow this year. I started this letter at 8:30 which is rather late for this tradition. Usually, in the pre-dawn hours, I was the only creature stirring in the house and social media. At this late hour, texts and instant messages are coming from everywhere. I am writing this letter and responding real time here and on social media. 
     Another friend, just texted this message “Merry Christmas! Writing your morning Christmas letter?” Yes, I am Sharon… Merry Christmas. 
     We just got face-timed by Aram, Anoush, Ida, Steve, Yervant, and… our six
Aris visiting Santa for the first time
Seems quite happy about it...
month old grandson Aris! While we are not together this year, it was great. It was wonderful seeing his smiling face. He grabbed and kissed the phone. It was very special. Merry Christmas to all you!
     When we count our blessings for the year, Aris has to be at the top of the list. He was born June 26th. We were kind of hoping for June 25th since that is my birthday. It is also his grandfather Yervant’s birthday and Judy’s Dad’s, Aris’s great-grandfather’s birthday. That would have been very special. I do think Aris wanted to be close to our date but that he also wanted to assert his independence and has his very own day. His birth is still the best birthday present ever. 
     Last evening, my sister Ani sent a text. It included a photo of my Dad with her children, my niece Kara and nephews Kyle and Jacob. Dad is holding a plaque that says it all, “My favorite people call me Grandpa.” Perfect. 
     We have a pending Christmas present too. Armene and Michael are expecting a son any day now. We are headed their way next week to be there with them. 2014 is indeed a year of grandchild for us… assuming Baby K, as we are calling him, doesn’t decide to make us wait until 2015. Merry Christmas to all the Kapamajian’s in California.
     My cousins Leo and David both reached out Leo by text and David by email.
My Dad surrounded by
Kara, Kyle, and Jacob L to R
Merry Christmas Leo. Merry Christmas David. Merry Christmas to all my cousins, aunts, and uncles. 
     This Christmas morning tradition began as a simple email of Christmas cheer to my work colleagues. When I was at Colgate it made a lot of sense for a variety of reasons. My friends and colleagues were spread out all over Latin America. Even though every country and culture is different, there is a sameness to Latins and Armenians. We tend to make and value friendships in the same way. Last evening, I got messages from Mexico and Uruguay from Angel de la Puente and Andres Malaplate. Merry Christmas Angel, Andres, and everyone else who I have not seen in years. 
     I have new colleagues. In August, I started a position as Associate Professor of Operations Management in the School of Business and Nonprofit Management at North Park University in Chicago. I am not sure if it is my next career move, my last career move, an encore career, or whatever. I am sure that it is not just a job. I am also totally loving it. I want to say this is what I should have been doing all along, but I am not certain I would have appreciated it or savored it as much as I do now. Merry Christmas to all my North Park University friends, colleagues, and, of course, the students.
     I will close with a copy/paste first text I got this morning as I sat down to write this piece. It is from my good and old friend Richard Kamar. It says it all:

     Merry Christmas 🎄 Enjoy the blessings of the day.

Part of our Christmas Eve gathering
The Musical Instrument Ornamented Tree in my Study