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

Speak to Me

The fall at Ohio State is a special time. School starts in August (at least nowadays it does) and football starts in early September (unless it, too, happens to start in August). Football season is great for Ohio State (see my other posts for more information on that topic), but not just because I love Ohio State football. Football season at Ohio State means a lot of guest speakers come to campus. Maybe I’m attributing too much causation for the abundance of speakers in the fall to football season, but it’s why I’d come if I were in their shoes. In case you think I may be exaggerating, here’s a list of just some of the folks visiting our campus (and, in many cases, the Fisher campus specifically):

Tuesday, Oct. 2nd: Pavlos Yeroulanos, former Minister for Culture & Tourism of Greece

Wednesday, Oct. 3rd: Jim Griffith, President & CEO of The Timken Company

Thursday, Oct. 4th: Bill Isaac, Chairman of Fifth Third Bancorp

Friday, Oct. 5th: Lynn E. Turner, Former Chief Accountant of SEC

Monday, Oct. 8th: Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Chrysler and Fiat and John Jay, Creative Director for Wieden+Kennedy

That’s just the line-up for the seven days ending Oct. 8th. Throughout the quarter we’ve had the opportunity to hear from many other people, such as Andy Rose (CFO of Worthington Industries), KR Kent (Controller, Americas for Ford), Jim Meeth (Past President of the CFA Society of Columbus), and Danielle Fallon, Tod Schneider, and Bhavik Khothari (all of Diamond Hill Capital Management, Inc.).

In the interest of keeping this post short, I’ve left out a lot of people who have taken the time to give back to The Ohio State University. Their generosity is greatly appreciated by the students. Getting to hear from people in industry, people who have built successful careers in their fields of interest, is a unique opportunity for us to learn about the opportunities that may be available to us after graduation.

In conclusion, to all of the people who have come to campus to share their experiences with us and to all of the people who are coming later this semester or next, on behalf of all of the SMF students, Thank You.

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)


A stroll around Wright-Patt

Back in March, before I had any idea that I’d be leaving my job to return to school full-time, my wife and I signed up for the Air Force Half-Marathon. On September 15th, my body had to cash a check that my big mouth wrote six months ago. My wife, her mom and sister, 15,000 of our closest friends and I walked or ran or otherwise propelled ourselves (there were a lot of wheel-chair racers and hand-crank racers, which I think is just amazing) for distances of 10K, 13.1 miles, or 26.2 miles.

The day started bright and early. Alarm set for 5:15 AM. On the road to my sister-in-law’s house by 6:00. We were standing near the starting line just after 7:00 AM. The starting gun for the Full Marathoners and 10K participants went off at 7:30 AM. Our race, the Half Marathon, started at 8:30 AM, but when 15,000 people want to do something at roughly the same time, it’s best to show up early. The highlight of the day, other than finishing the race, was the fly-over by a B-2 bomber, a plane I’ve seen in person at the National Museum of the USAF but never seen in flight before today. Check out this video if you want to see it in the air and hear “The Sound of Freedom.”

Some details worth noting:

1) My sister-in-law is six months’ pregnant. Does her OB know she’s doing this? This is the 2nd half-marathon she’s walked while pregant (different pregnancy last time).

2) My mother-in-law turns 60 this year. Goes to show that you’re never too old to abuse your body by walking way farther than anyone alive today in America really has to.

3) I beat my wife by one second. She knew, as we approached the finish line, that beating her was the last victory available to me that day.

4) Don’t worry… I didn’t miss the OSU-Cal game. Thank you, DVR. One of the Top 5 technological innovations in my lifetime. I know that sounds like hyperbole, but my wife knows my catchphrase well: “I don’t watch commercials.”

5) If you ever want to walk or run a long distance and you’ve never done it before, it’s important to get out and practice. But don’t practice too much, lest you realize how bored you’ll be at Mile 11 of 13.1. At about that point, your mind shifts its focus off of the road in front of you and onto the beer and pizza and bananas and Gatorade waiting for you at the finish line. But if you’re practicing, none of that good stuff is waiting for you. You just end up back in your own crappy house staring into your own empty refrigerator. How disappointing.

I just have one photo I’d like to share with you today… this is the flagpole outside the entrance to the Air Force Museum. The flag is at half-staff in honor of the slain US ambassador to Libya and the other Americans who lost their lives in service to their country recently.

Flag at the National Museum of the USAF at half-staff in honor of those who have given their lives in service to their country.



Bloomberg: So Many Functions


The Bloomberg TerminalOne of the big selling points for the SMF program for me was the technology and the tools that would be at my disposal for learning and schoolwork. In my undergrad, I was able to use it once and loved that experience and couldn’t wait until I had one at my disposal. I finally got my hands on my first one recently.

The Bloomberg Terminal: The most powerful financial research and database in the world.

A massive data stream, unparalleled in scope and depth, delivered to your desktop in real time. Along with data, the Bloomberg Professional® provides access to all the news, analytics, communications, charts, liquidity, functionalities and execution services that you need to put knowledge into action.

Dr. Pinteris had one of the Bloomberg representative’s come in and provide more or less a crash course in the technology. He briefly covered how powerful the terminal was. You can do anything from look up historical bond yields to exclusive news stories to dividend discount models for any of the 410,000 equities. The rep added that there are so many functions that he doesn’t know all of them.

In the past week, I’ve spent 6 hours working on the terminal. Working at this point with my frame of mind is more like playing though. I just sit there, watch instructional videos and go into functions to learn more and obtain a better feel.  It is an important skill to have because in the Investments community, knowledge of Bloomberg is essential. Having the navigational skills on the terminal before entering the job market will give a boost to my marketability.


Topiary Garden–a Great Place to Refresh Yourself

Does this picture remind you of Edward Scissorhands? Do you feel it’s a pity that you cannot go into the movie? Luckily the Topiary Garden is a perfect place to go. And it’s right here in downtown Columbus!

When I temporarily lived with my host family at the beginning of the school year, they took my friends and me to the Topiary Garden on a sunny afternoon. It’s a really nice and quiet place for you to relax and enjoy the sunshine.  It is an amazing place full of beauty.

Why not make a schedule and go for a walk by yourself?!

 The following is the description from Columbus Recreation & Parks Department website.

Situated in downtown Discovery District, the Topiary Garden Park sits on the remnants of the Old Deaf School Park.  Though it has become affectionately known as the Topiary Garden Park, the park land actually dates back to the early 19th century, when it was a dormitory and campus for the adjacent Deaf School.  Today, the Topiary Garden in Old Deaf School Park is the only public park of its kind, not only in Ohio, but in the world as well. The Topiary Garden is a living recreation of Gorges Seurat’s famous post-Impressionist painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of LaGrande Jatte.

The idea for the topiary garden was conceived and sculpted in 1989 by Columbus artist James T. Mason and his wife Elaine, also an artist.  The pond is meant to represent the River Seine was installed in late 1989, as were the artificial hills.  In the years since its creation, the Topiary Garden has appeared in a multitude of magazines, periodicals, books, and documentaries including Life, National Geographic, The Wall Street Journal, and programs aired on the BBC.

The Topiary Garden Park is open daily from dawn until dusk, and admission is free to all visitors.  April through November is the recommended time for viewing the garden, as the park is blooming in full. Don’t forget to stop at the point of “As He Saw It,” the marked location that represents how Seurat saw the scene as he was painting it.

TGI Football Season

Saturday saw the beginning of the Urban Meyer era at THE Ohio State University. A slow start was followed by several exciting scores (if you’re a Buckeye fan, that is). Without looking at the archives of the 2010-2011 season, I can’t say with certainty that the Buckeyes scored 56 points in their first 4 games combined last year (they must have, but the fact that I’m not certain should tell you something about my recollection of last year’s offensive prowess). All in all, it was an exciting game to watch as a Buckeye fan. Braxton Miller (whom my wife calls “B” like they’re BFFs) set a single-game rushing yardage record for an OSU quarterback. Devin Smith had what LeBron James tweeted was the catch of the year (The King may be right), and the oft-maligned Travis Howard had two interceptions.

So why have I recounted all this for you, my captivated reader? Because at Ohio State, football matters. An ESPN Sports Poll in 2011 revealed that the Buckeyes are the most popular football team in the country (follow link, scroll down to last paragraph of the story). That, plus the football program brings in about $35 to $45 million in profit, some of which goes right back to the University’s general fund. None of that even takes into account the economic benefit conferred upon the city of Columbus by 100,000+ people huddled into The ‘Shoe and countless (OK, they’re probably countable) others who come out of their hovels to simply be near the action.

But I digress… I don’t really, deep down in my soul, care as much about any of that financial/economic benefit mumbo jumbo as I care about the football games themselves. I grew up in the suburbs of Columbus, less than 20 miles from Ohio Stadium. Buckeye football is on Saturdays… Church is on Sundays. Let’s just say… I’m a fan.

Some of you may be unfamiliar with Ohio State football, college football, or even American football altogether. If you’re thinking of visiting campus this fall, I encourage you to schedule your trip to coincide with a home football weekend (assuming you can get a hotel room). If nothing else, please make a point of walking by the stadium just to bask in its glory (ok, I’ll stop gushing now). And if you’re like some of my classmates of international origin and have some questions about American football, just ask. People who love football love to talk about football.

GO BUCKS! Here’s another picture of my rascally animal from his youth…

We took this on the day we got Captain home. I think this is still set as the wallpaper on my wife’s phone.

The World Is Yours (not Scarface related)

With grad school in full swing now, it’s fair to say one thing is certain: Everyone and everybody seems to want your attention. Let me elaborate. First, your professors, they all have passion for what they teach and are very excited to share that wealth of knowledge they have with their students. Whether it be economics, the NPV of a capital budgeting problem, or even professional development and mannerisms; they point is they want to teach you; therefore asking for your attention.

Second, consider your group projects.   Everyone in the SMF program is placed in a group early in the semester.   Its fair to say this group that is used for basically all of your semester classes quickly become like a small family, wanting to work on group projects, thus, asking for your attention.

Third, consider the wealth of extracurriculars that Fisher has to offer.  Whether you decide to join or not, participate as a board member, or casual member, these groups are asking for your attention.

Finally, career services here at Fisher want us to succeed.   As Audra Fry, my personal career guidance partner, excitedly wants to share the wealth of resources available to landing that awesome job after grad school.   You may conclude where I am going with this: they are asking for your attention.

I wouldn’t recommend using the example of Tony Montana, however accept the attention of others is a way to truly make the world your own.

The point is easily made.  What about your personal attention?   That comes with good time management, planning and sometimes a little luck.   However when you choose to focus your attention to something, usually it’s in the form of doing something to better one’s self. Yesterday marked Fisher’s career fair at the Ohio Union.   Approximately 137 employers were present, looking for those that decided to accept the attention others were giving and turn it into something personal for yourself: A Job.  The career fair presented plenty of options for business students both in undergrad and grad school to dive into opportunities of all proportions.   In the end, the attention you choose to accept from others, and turning it into productive personal attention (i.e. the job fair) is just another way as a grad student you can set yourself up for success.  Accepting the attention of others in grad school is of major benefit.   You will learn more, be involved, land a job and even make a few friends in the meantime.   The world truly is yours…