It’s the Holiday Season

It truly is the most wonderful time of the year, the Christmas season! With Black Friday sales just a few weeks ago, the “official” start of the holiday season has begun. Everywhere you go, people are putting up Christmas lights, decorating doors with wreaths, and playing familiar Christmas tunes. These are just a few things I love about Christmas, but for an exhaustive list, check this out.

Our Specialized Master in Finance class decided to follow this trend and get into the holiday spirit, as well, before Finals kick off here at the end of the week. The majority of the class attended a holiday celebration at Professor Fuller‘s home this past Sunday night. We are very grateful to be able to celebrate together, and enjoy the wonderful appetizers, cookies, and hot cider that Mrs. Fuller had for us.

Appetizers & Cookies
Appetizers & Cookies

In addition, the Christmas tree was left undecorated for all of us to help. For some, it was their first time putting ornaments on the tree and this was a cool experience to be a part of. Also, I had the honor of placing the angel on top of the Christmas tree (mostly because I am a tall human being); nonetheless, it was a cool thing to do.

The decorated Christmas tree from the house.
The decorated Christmas tree from the house.

During the week prior, our Specialized Master in Finance Council also had organized a Secret Santa gift swap. For those unfamiliar, basically you are assigned another person in the class and you get to give that person a gift (we had a $20 limit on gifts). At Professor Fuller’s, we all exchanged gifts with whom we were assigned. I received an exquisite box of delicious chocolate mints– thank you very much to my Secret Santa!

Finally, the neighborhood of German Village had its Village Lights Festival, in which houses and businesses in the area are decorated and all lit up, to put the neighborhood in the holiday spirit. We drove though the neighborhood instead of walking, due to the cold rain that was falling, but still were able to enjoy the Christmas spirit.

It was a great event to kick the season off, and I am looking forward to getting back to Cleveland to celebrate even more with my family!

My Winter Break Excitement

Ah, finally back in Columbus after a very relaxing Christmas break in the South Dakota.

For the 2nd time, I decided to drive instead of fly home for Christmas break.  I certainly question my career choice at times because it seems I turn more into an armchair meteorologist than anything.  It astounds me how much I hawk The Weather Channel making sure I don’t get caught in some crazy winter storm that always seems to try to ruin the last few days of the year.  As mentioned in my previous blog, last Christmas was mucho frio — as in -30 degrees Fahrenheit plus factor in wind chills of -40 to -50.  Needless to say, I did not want a repeat performance of that this year.  As for this winter break, I got more than I bargained for…again.

Here are some highlights of my break:

1.  The drive from Ohio to SoDak was wonderful!  Great weather – All sun and NO snow, just how I like it!  I got to do a little bit of shopping in Omaha, NE, before making my way north to Sioux Falls, SD.  But, as I journeyed north to Sioux Falls, SD, the temperature dropped 25 degs from 28 degs to 3 degs.  Only one word to describe that:  dumb.

2.  I tried to get up at 2am in the morning to see the Lunar Eclipse.  Unfortunately, it was too cloudy but I didn’t miss much – my uncle took some sweet pictures with his camera and showed me during our family xmas!

3.  I ate at my two favorite restaurants ever:  Johnny Carino’s and Tokyo.  I would have to say Carino’s has thee best Italian food I’ve ate in my life.  I recommend the Lemon Rosemary Chicken or Bowtie Festival.  Second, I miss good sushi!  Tokyo has an amazing California Roll and Fried Salmon Crab Potstick roll.  Miss the maki rolls!

4.  Got to spend CHRISTMAS with my family!!!  Lots of food, lots of fun!

5.  I managed to get 3 super cold, snowy days of pheasant hunting in during my break.  I shot a lot and I missed a lot.  No pheasants for me this year – which is a first.

6.  Played a lot of DDR with my niece.  I swear I heard Lady Gaga and Jordan Sparks at least ten thousand times…not because the dance sequence was cool, but because my niece is in love with those songs!  I was regretting that purchase for her until I saw Vanilla Ice and NKOTB songs were on it – YES!  Nothing like jumping on a plastic mat to Ice Ice Baby!

and lastly…

7.  This is my favorite.  Well, not really.  To make a really long story short, for the past 6.5 years I’ve intermittently battled kidney stones.  For some odd reason, after my tour of duty in Iraq, I occasionally have a random flair-up episode.  To my surprise, my last minor brush with the stones was last xmas break.  Well, as luck would have it, I got them again.  And this time, it was bad enough that I had to go to the hospital.  I’ve been told by many doctors who have administered me pain meds for my kidney stones that passing a stone is like giving birth.  For me, I can’t say either way, but if that is true, then I’ve had about 7 children so far.  My only regret about the whole kidney stone thing is this:  I feel like I’ve been a dead-beat dad because I haven’t named any my “children of the stone.”   Check the picture at the end of the blog…I managed a ‘Go Bucks’ thumbs-up.

Takeaway from Winter Break:  No Blizzard (which I dodged by less than 12 hours)!!!

I hope everyone had a wonderful winter break!  Now its time to rev up for Winter Quarter 2011!


The logistics trek to Germany

Over the past 10 days, I’ve been touring Germany with 29 other colleagues from college. We went to Hamburg, Berlin and Munich. The site visits were planned to allow us enough free time go around the cities and do our own thing as well. The best part was that most of us were strangers to each other, from various courses and majors. But what a trip it was!!! We’ve had so much fun. Any trip when you don’t sleep for more than 5 hours a night has to be an awesome trip I guess.

This being Christmas time, there’s merry everywhere. Christmas markets are around every corner, selling all sorts of knickknacks, Christmas decorations with people everywhere in the freezing cold. Of course, not to forget field visits which were very enriching in terms of how companies are viewing logistics these days and organizing the entire supply chain to meet daily needs and demands.

Here’s my pick of one picture from each city, along with a description of it:

Hamburg: We went to the Kuehne + Nagel logistics center here and toured the facility to understand how they handle contract logistics for Yamaha music.

The next factory we visited was the Nestle plant where we toured the Kit-Kat factory.

Hamburg doesn’t have much to see or do. What it does have is the best Christmas markets. The Christmas markets everywhere have something called Gluwein (glue-wine). It is hot wine served in a small mug. You can carry the mug as you walk along the market. Also, the food is great – you get all sorts of baked cakes and pastries and the German special – sausages. My personal favorite however, is the stir fried mushrooms with sour cream on it. It’s called Champignon and is simply heavenly. My next favorite was the stir fried noodles with vegetables with the hot Chinese sauce. I guess my love for Indian Chinese will never go away.

Here’s one of the roads decked up for Christmas:

Berlin: In Berlin, we had the opportunity to listen to a lecture by Prof. Carl Marcus Wallenburg at the Technical University of Berlin. He showed us a World Bank report about logistics in Germany. This was followed by a visit to the Knorr-Bremse Systeme plant for a tour of their factory. This company builds the braking systems for almost all trains in the world. Berlin by itself was a really depressing city with lots of history and museums dedicated to the Cold War and World War 2. This city typifies the Nazi Germany in terms of history. But who can forget the Olympic stadium and the Berlin wall?! It also has some of the most beautiful architecture from the Renaissance period – most of them copies of Italy or Greece.

Berlin wall:

Munich: This is the most happening city here. It has the BMW factory and the Olympic stadium. The BMW plant is phenomenal – I was awestruck by the sheer level of automation they have! The factory has a 97% automation level. Most of the manufacturing is done by robots. It’s almost like Transformers in real life!! It was freaky to say the least. Munich also has the OktoberFest every year, so this is generally one of the most lively cities here.

Architecture-wise, this city has about 700 fountains – the most in Germany. But most of them were closed now in the winter.

Here’s the BMW office designed in the shape of the 4 cylinder engine.

The last day was for ourselves, and some of us decided to visit a castle nearby. A 2 hour train ride away from Munich is the Neuschwanstein castle. It is situated on a hill, has the Swiss alps in the backdrop, a lake and waterfall in the front, and pine forests all around. It was one of the most picturesque settings I’ve seen to date.

So hope you guys enjoyed seeing the pics as much as I enjoyed being in them. This trip doesn’t give you any course credits, but if you want to hang out with a bunch of Buckeyes in an unknown land during winter break and have fun while at the same time learn about logistics, I would strongly suggest you do it. After all, college life is a luxury which won’t last for long.

Statutory Warning: Maximum fun guaranteed!!


Christmas Break

It has been a great break.  I haven’t had 3+ weeks completely off in a long time.  Even during my undergrad years I was never fully off.  As a rower on the lightweight crew team, every free moment was spent training for the racing season.  It was no surprise that I was a little unsure how to spend my winter break.  To make it easier, I broke up the break into three blocks.

The first block of time off I spent doing nothing… and it was great.  I stayed in Columbus and slowly unwound from the hectic life I lived during finals.  Each day I read the paper, went to the gym, checked on grades, watched movies, attended ugly sweater parties, etc.

For the second block of winter break, I returned to Cincinnati to spend time with my family.  Of course it was great to be home and see everyone, not to mention all the excellent food I ate.  Plus I was able to go to the Bengals v. Chiefs game in which the Bengals clinched the AFC North title.  Hopefully they can make a good run in the playoffs.

Block three officially began when I returned to Columbus a few days ago.  I am currently trying to adjust back to a more realistic life – one with priorities, deadlines, and homework.  I’ve already bought most of my books and now I need to start reading course syllabi and preparing for another quarter at Fisher College.

This quarter is starting off just fine!

Some things I’m thankful for:

After buying/ordering all the books for Winter Quarter, I added up everything… and was thrilled that the total was only $188.07… About a third of what Autumn Quarter was!

I made it through a week-long road trip and nearly two weeks with the family over winter break without any mishaps.

Christmas with my extended family was relaxing, and everyone enjoyed their gifts.

I successfully achieved > 90% on the SAT I took this afternoon – in order to teach SAT prep classes at Kaplan, your score has to be over 90% AND from within the past five years… mine was eight years ago!

New Year’s Eve is shaping up to be a nice, low-key event with friends, music and of course some tasty beverages.

I hope everyone is enjoying their last few days of “freedom” before we start classes again!

Best wishes,


Saint Christopher

I script this on Christmas, on two fifths of Swiss Miss,
Connect quips like isthmus, been tested like litmus,
White elephant gift sits, like presents I rip this,
My presence is witnessed, so pleasant it gives fits,
Good heavens, he spits quick, I wrap raps like gifts,
I amass stacks like blackjacks, and attack tracks and riffs,
This melody brings memories, I blast back to six,
With flashbacks to backpacks with Snack Packs and Twix,
On this fast track I miss, when love was unconditional,
And life was so traditional, we didn’t need additional,
No concept of rich/poor, bought outfits at thrift stores,
Now tons of opportunities, but I can’t pick which door,
Ignorance was bliss, now I search for reasons for living,
But reminded by a friend, that ‘tis the season for giving,
Who found a higher purpose by going under the knife,
To prove the struggle’s worth it, cause “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

An amazing front page article in the Arizona Daily Star about one of my best friends in Tucson:

Happy Holidays,

Mike ^_^

Chris McCline: A real life superhero

Random Rants: dreaming of a white Christmas

A white Christmas is actually a dream where I come from, as it NEVER snows. I’ve seen some people actually make decorations with styrofoam just to have the color (cleaning up the mess afterward must be quite time-consuming).

Also, I’ve heard that there is usually not much snow in Washington, DC (the Fairy Godmother actually told me that a single snowflake in DC has the power to shut down the city). However, here’s what DC looked like this holiday season.

White Christmas in DC
White Christmas in DC

And yes, shoveling snow is boring.

“Llamé pa verte… tú quieres conocerme y yo conocerte…” — Wisin y Yandel