Your Car Needs a Bath

On top of all the craziness of being in grad school, along with the daily living responsibilities you will encounter, it’s at these busiest times that one may forget to do other “required” things.   One of them could/may be car maintenance. While most people are good about getting oil changes, inflating their tires and preparing the car for winter, one major activity needs to be done for keeping the body of your car beautiful. Yes, it is washing your car.  The simple expense of a car wash in the winter could save years of value in your car.

Since Columbus recently has seen snow (as have many other Eastern and Midwest states), the slushy mix up and melting snow on the roads usually splatters onto cars.   This mess includes the salt used by road crews to better maintain clean streets and avoid ice build up. Sources such as the AAA and auto repair blog sites do in fact recommend getting your car washed through out the winter. Once temperatures rise above freezing, removing the salt from your car should be done. This helps to avoid rust and corrosion not only on the body of your car, but also the undercarriage which basically is the support of your car.

Sax Car Wash: They even promise to remove the french fries left in your seat

However how does one spot a good deal on car washes?   Yes, gas stations usually offer a car wash at a cheap price (usually $5-9) after filling up, however most of these washes do not include undercarriage washing.   As many readers of this blog know, I like to promote local establishments that in my opinion offer great value for your dollar.    Today I present Sax Car Wash on 5th Avenue (1319 W 5th Ave, Columbus, OH 43212).  The place not only cleans your car, but offers great affordable packages to detail, wax, and even freshen up the scent of your car.   Not only does it come with great customer service, but, after the car is washed, you also get the door jars cleaned, a simple vacuuming, and even the dashboard gets wiped down of dust, etc..  For the “works” package, which is priced under $20, you receive the car wash, undercarriage wash, wax, vacuum, and a choice of over 8 different air fresheners that are pumped directly into the fan of your climate control.

Regardless of where you go to get it done, I recommend all drivers and students (and students to be) in Columbus during the winter to take extra good care of your car.   You will be glad you did when the resale value and appearance show.


The Bloomberg Lab at Fisher

I have the great opportunity to serve as the proctor of the Bloomberg lab for the Fisher College of Business. This however is not job a task of simply browsing the web or working on homework. I have to learn the ins and outs of Bloomberg, while trying to remember the a few of the hundreds of prompts and other various commands. The interesting part of this job is that I have access to the most powerful business analytic tool in the world.

Fisher is fortunate enough to have a dozen or so terminals in the lab, making research for various finance projects exciting and comprehensive. Also, the tools within Bloomberg make report and template building a cinch. Bloomberg however is not just for searching company information and obtaining financials. You have access to worldwide business news, market trading floor updates and even sports and entertainment information.

In all, Bloomberg is a powerful tool, available to all Fisher students, but the best ability to learn is through exploration. Students have access to take Bloomberg exams to become Bloomberg certified; meaning you understand the basic prompts, keyboard and functionality of being able to “get around” Bloomberg. Definitely worth a visit on a trip down to Fisher!

It isn’t as intimidating as you think!

What Winter?

Thus far the weather since returning to school has been fair to say the least.   However, for those non-Ohio natives, Columbus traditionally has sometimes-unpredictable weather patterns that not even local meteorologists understand (in my opinion).    For example, last weekend, temperatures hit 65 degrees in Columbus by mid Saturday afternoon.   People were dressing like it was the middle of May, forgetting that next week, things could easily drop 40-50 degrees.   But to this point, Columbus hasn’t seen much snow.   Most snow fall, occurred over break, when most of the SMF students were already away back at home, or as many foreign students did, traveled to other cities in the USA (mostly warmer, tropical places).

While winter has been fair to students thus far, we are in for a twist. Monday (MLK Day) and the day after, flurries are in the forecast.   Sure flurries are a normal part of winter weather, which accounts for an easy meteorologist pick to settle any indifference as to if precipitation will actually fall or not.  The part that is alarming however is the low temperatures in the next few days will be in the single digits.   With the wind that will be accompanying the colder weather will actually make the temperatures feel like below zero.    The winds traditionally in Columbus can be nasty, almost making that snow we haven’t had yet, seem better than arctic blasts of cold air.

Last Weekend

Freak out for Finals? Never!

It’s a fact.  My SMF finals are done!

With that being said I did a few things different this time versus what I used to do in undergrad preparing for finals.

1.  Start Studying a Week Ahead – This works great, especially if you end up with the flu the day before your exams begin.   I felt comfortable and not as anxious as in the past because I was able to review the material instead of learn it the evening before the exam.

2. Sleep – Sounds crazy during finals week, but I actually managed 7-8 hours of sleep the night before exams this semester.  Helped a lot.

3. Relax – It pays to take time out of your day from studying.  Whether its going out to eat with a few buddies, or popping in a movie or catching a game on TV.   We aren’t wired for constant studying – especially for grad school.

Sounds too easy doesn’t it?   Depends.  It took some getting used to, but in the end, they benefits were great!   Cramming doesn’t work anymore, especially at a higher (and more demanding) level of education.   This practice is proof, after our 17 page exam today for investment finance, the word “relax” had to have run through my mind at least a dozen times!


While it may be easy to follow the advice of this sign… it doesn’t need to be mandatory during exams!

SEGA Breaks

Everyone needs a break from the routine of studying, group projects and homework.  SMF students are no exception. Some people play sports (I enjoy tennis – be sure to check out RPAC), some work out, others turn to art (playing instruments, painting, etc…).  In addition to playing tennis on OSU’s campus, I also enjoy playing retro video game systems.   My particular favorite is the Sega Genesis.

Sega Genesis was undoubtedly one of the most memorable video game systems of the early to mid 1990s, and will be always remembered for its deep rivalry with Nintendo and Super Nintendo.   While the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) was slowly fading out by the middle part of the early 1990s, Super Nintendo had to compete fiercely with Sega.   Sega Genesis system had 915 games that were made compared to Super Nintendo’s 784, although the Super Nintendo did cannibalize some of its NES system games as well.

Perhaps the most notable character of Sega is Sonic the Hedgehog.  He appeared in many games, however his most notable are in the classic Sonic the Hedgehog series’ games of Sonic the Hedgehog, Sonic the Hedgehog 2, Sonic the Hedgehog 3, and Sonic and Knuckles. Both Sonic and Sonic 2 were respectively the top 2 grossing games of the franchise with Disney’s Aladdin at number 3.   The system has sports, action, fighting, racing, strategy and many other categories.   The beauty of the system was perhaps its limitations.   The games involved memorizing enemy attacks and mastering precision at times. For me, its also a visit to the joys of my childhood.

If you are in Columbus and are in need of obtaining this retro system, there is a local store, Super Game Team on Northwest Ave that sells Sega Genesis systems and other used games for your enjoyment.

Any child of the 1990s should recognize this logo and immediately associate it to Sonic the Hedgehog
A scene from the classic first level of Sonic the Hedgehog, Green Hill Zone

Eating Italiano in Columbus

For those that actually read my random musings here on this board, I wrote about some local restaurants in the Columbus area that had more American style specialties.   This time, I would like to cover some great places for Italian food within a 5 minute drive of OSU’s campus.

Carsonie’s Stromboli and Pizzeria Kitchen, 1725 W. Lane Ave

Carsonie’s is a niche pizzeria style restaurant.   They have a good product and they know it, therefore the casual yet intimate, small dining room and bar is perfect for the mood they try and represent.   They feature a fair amount of traditional Italian dishes, as well as salads, seafood and soups.   But, the reason you go to Carsonie’s is for the pizza and Stromboli.  I decided to try the traditional Stromboli while my friend created his own spicy pepper pizza.   The Stromboli was excellent, well worth the wait (which was about 20 minutes after ordering) due to the perfection on how it is baked.   Comes with dipping sauce and just enough of a portion to satisfy someone with a decent appetite for dinner.  My friend reported the pizza was tasty as well.   Prices are fair, I think with a beer and Stromboli look to drop around $15.  Good stuff.

Pizza or Stromboli? Or you could go twice and try both.

Z Cucina, 1368 Grandview Ave

I walked in the Z Cucina with a couple of my friends and immediately felt under dressed.   This is most definitely an upper-end Italian restaurant perfect to take your significant other for a special occasion.   The menu is completely seasonal so don’t expect it to be a redundant compliment similar to that of Olive Garden.  Like most gourmet Italian restaurants, the menu had 15-20 entree selections, again seasonal, and in our case the menu was geared towards “Fall” flavors (squash, pumpkin, ginger, etc).   I went with the Classic Lasagna and I must report it was average.  Perhaps it was the fact that the center of the large portion was a bit cold, but flavor wise, the use of homemade sauce and hand made Italian sausage surely saved the day after the cooler interior of my meal.   The price on a glass of wine and the meal will run you easily near the $25-30 mark for one, I think on most good nights this place has great food and is worth a shot for a special occasion or to simply celebrate round 1 of SMF finals done.

Looks fancy? Darn right it is! Great for special occasions!

MLB Playoffs!

If anything helps to subdue the increasing about of work this fall and as SMF finals roll through this week for the 1st half of the year, something needs to keep one sane.   For me, it’s the MLB Playoffs.   Both of my teams, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Cleveland Indians, failed to make it this year, but there are some “new” teams to the playoffs this year.   By new I mean, some teams that haven’t been in the playoffs lately.  I have my predictions on who will advance and who will find themselves with a world championship.

American League Divisional Series’

Baltimore Orioles vs. New York Yankees- As I am writing this on Monday, the Orioles are already down in this best of 5 series.  However, Baltimore’s younger pitching staff and more versatile offense still has the edge in my opinion.   My predictions depend on this series, but I still have faith in Baltimore who is playing in the playoffs for the first time since 1997.  Baltimore wins series 3-2

Detroit Tigers vs. Oakland Athletics- Oakland entered the season with the 28th lowest payroll in MLB (out of 30) and found themselves with an excellent second half run.  Bob Melvin, manager of the A’s has experience in the playoffs yet playing against the repeat AL Central champs in the Tigers is a rough task.  Detroit has stable, power hitting, and a great staff to back it up in the pitching department.  Detroit wins series 3-1

National League Divisional Series’

St. Louis Cardinals vs. Washington Nationals- The Nationals boasted the best record in the NL after a breakout season.  The controversial closing down of starter Stephen Stausberg caused many to wonder if the National’s still had a chance?  In my opinion this is the most balanced team in terms of age, production and performance. Washington makes its first return to the playoffs since the 1980s when they were the Montreal Expos.   St. Louis squeezed into the playoffs yet again, but their run will be short lived.  Washington wins series 3-1

SF Giants vs. Cincinnati Reds- The Reds easily rank near the top in terms of MLB teams, and their pitching staff and offense are the best rounded in baseball.  However a recent potential injury problem to starter Johnny Cueto could be an alarming point for a deep playoff run.   The SF are literally finished as I write this, so Cincinnati wins series 3-0

American League Championship Series:

Baltimore Orioles vs. Detroit Tigers- Perhaps in what will be the closest series of the playoffs, the Detroit pitching staff will fall just short of Baltimore’s power hitting offense and will find enough pitching to sustain a trip to the world series.  Baltimore wins series 4-3

National League Championship Series:

Washington Nationals vs. Cincinnati Reds- While the Reds are the favorite of many, the magic rests with the Nationals and bringing playoff baseball back to Washington for the first time since the 1930s.   Nats will win a nail bitter of a series.   Washington over Cincinnati 4-3.


The world series will see 2 fresh faces.  The Orioles who last made it to the Fall Classic back in the early 1980s will be thirsty for a championship, however the Nationals will prevail.   The Nationals win the world championship and set a president for future championship. Washington over Baltimore 4-2.

Only time will tell how accurate my predictions will be, but it should be a fun time.   Fall is always perfectly transitioned into with playoff baseball!

In a bold prediction, I have the Nationals winning the world series over the Baltimore Orioles, 4-2.

New holiday on my calendar

As the semester marches onward, naturally the workload and project demand builds quickly.   However, the hard work (in my opinion) can’t be appreciated as much unless you build a bond with your classmates and find ways to deflate after a long week of work.

Caught ya singing off key 🙂
Mooncakes: Nothing offered at your local carryout

This past weekend I had the pleasure of hosting a party with my fellow SMF students to celebrate the Chinese holiday “Mid Autumn Festival”.  According to Wikipedia, the Mid Autumn Festival is a romantic holiday, of great importance in Chinese Culture.  Ohio State does a good job of integrating foreign students within the university, and this is no exception in the Fisher School of Business.   This “social” event had a bit of everything: authentic Chinese Food, such as moon cakes (nothing like – and better than! – Panda Express), karaoke, music and other extracurricular games.

The point is, I felt that its easy at times for students to quickly find a small niche within social groups, whether at school, work, etc., and one fails to truly appreciate the opportunity to learn new things (and even try new foods).   This festival celebration was the work of the SMF Student Council organizing the opportunity to get together and celebrate a holiday important to the Asian community.

In summary: It was fun.

Sing with all your heart

Oktoberfest – It must be fall

This weekend I had the pleasure of leaving Columbus and all of the demanding schedules of grad school to relax and attended “The Nation’s Largest Oktoberfest” in Cincinnati.  Rumor has it, the 5+ blocks of 5th Street that Cincinnati closes every year for this celebration is by far the largest Oktoberfest in the USA, and ranks close to the top with some globally.

Oktoberfest: Good for beers and tons of crazy people

For those that are unfamiliar, Oktoberfest’s traditionally are German celebrations held in the fall to drink, eat and enjoy music and other entertainment.   Some people choose to dress in traditional German outfits as well.

The Oktoberfest in Cincy proved to live up to its expectations.   There were over 20 different beer vendors sampling and selling their brews of fall seasonal flavors.   For the low price of $4, you could purchase a plastic stein and enjoy refills in your cup for a reduced price.    The city truly was alive, and with music, drinking and authentic and unauthentic (deep fried) German treats and eats, Oktoberfest in Cincinnati proved to be fun.   The Cincinnati Reds also clinched the National League Central Division as well that evening which helped to intensify the celebrations.

Columbus and local cities around have various Oktoberfest celebrations and opportunities to take part in this fall event.  Columbus’ happens to be this weekend, and the admission is free!  See for yourself



Intellectual Exercise

I recall from high school and undergrad days that the professors and teachers that assumed they were cool by calling exams “intellectual exercises” didn’t realize it wasn’t all that funny.  Now that school has well been in full swing, the time came to take my first exam as graduate student.

I studied, re-read notes, homework assignments, the usual, all study habits I learned from undergraduate classes (unfortunately these “habits” didn’t pick up until late junior year and the GPA recovery window had all but closed).   I think it’s fair to say that most students had a little apprehension over how the exam would be formatted, worded, what material would be tested, would it be tricky, etc…

From what I can say now that its all over is this:  Unlike most undergrad exams, where it basically is an activity of vomiting all you studied the night before until the break of dawn, simply to memorize information, grad school tests thus far appear to be quite different.  I didn’t experience the feeling of panic or the feeling that I would have to consider dropping out of school after the exam.  From what I could gather, the professors for grad courses wish to drive home a series of points and facts that are not only most memorable but also applicable and necessary to succeed in a career in finance.  The test was fair, yet I felt the items that were most subjectively important were there as well.

In all- I feel graduate level exams are beyond the days of grinding out a memorization scheme to get through exams- similar to many undergrad tests.   Graduate school presents the opportunity to continuously learn, yet most importantly, apply the key concepts and information most prevalent to land success both academically and professionally.   Hopefully going forward I can say the same for other exams. 🙂

Joe Benny: studying for an exam circa 2004 (ok its not really me)