A November Treat

“A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship.” 
― Markus ZusakThe Book Thief


One of the misconceptions about Ohio and snow is the need for there to be unbearable temperatures and for it to be just down-right cold! Well, I got hit in the face with a snowball today and found a lasting relationship with Columbus. I looked outside and thought, “UGH! Snow…”

Now this looks cold!
Now this looks cold!


I walked outside and thought it’s not even cold, and the snow is actually snow and not ice and slush and all the other nasty things that make me hate winter. Coming from the south, I thought this experience would be an awful one, but I am in love with this weather.


Doesn't even look cold!
Doesn’t even look cold!


Other than the weather not being nearly as bad as I thought it would be, you can see 3 of the 5 buildings at Fisher in the pictures above. One of the best things about Fisher is, I can get to all 3 of these buildings through temperature controlled underground tunnels.

Yes… You read that correctly. There are underground tunnels at Fisher. I can go to Mason Hall and get a hot chocolate or coffee and walk back to class without ever stepping outside.

I can definitely say that when I was hit in the face with the snowball this morning, it made a lasting relationship. I cannot wait for the months to come in Columbus and at Fisher!



Neil Building Graduate Housing at Ohio State

One of the things that I worried about the most when coming to Columbus was where I was going to live. Upon submitting my intent to enroll in the SMF program, I was given a comprehensive list of nearby apartments with monthly rental rates and reviews from past student residents, which I found extremely helpful. Knowing that I was not making the drive to Columbus from San Francisco, I focused on a place within walking distance to the Fisher College of Business. I initially considered Fisher Commons, which is a relatively new complex with well appointed kitchen amenities that is a short fifteen minute walk to campus. The only drawback for me was that the apartments were not furnished. The last thing I wanted to worry about at the end of the program was how to get rid of my old mattress.

Neil Graduate Housing

Since I probably cannot bum rides from friends all the time, I had to make sure restaurants and grocery stores were also within walking distance. After looking over the various locations, I decided on the Neil Building Graduate housing. Located at the corner of Neil Avenue and West 10th Avenue, the graduate housing is a twenty minute casual stroll to Fisher College of Business. CVS pharmacy is half a block away for the occasional allergy relief or late night munchies. A Kroger grocery store is also close by on East 7th Avenue and High Street (about a ten minute walk).

However, to add icing on the cake, the best part of the Neil Building by far is the Marketplace located on the street level. The Marketplace is an OSU dining food court that serves pizza, salad, pasta, sushi, Asian stir-fry, and my favorite, the Memphis BBQ beef brisket grilled panini. In addition, there is a VIP access door that connects the rest of the building to the Marketplace. I love how I can go downstairs to grab a quick bite without dealing with the outside elements, especially on a rainy or snowy winter day! How’s that for awesomeness?

BBQ brisket panini hot off the grill!

Beautiful Ohio

I’m reading my compensation book outside on a Thursday evening, mower buzzing away in the background while my dog pants at my feet. A hummingbird, attracted by my pink shirt, thought she’d come in for a quick drink, shot back, and decided to feast on the blooming columbines instead. Ah, spring in Ohio.

Central Ohio’s had a bad rap this spring. Too much rain. Too much wind. Too much rain. Repeat. The area is also known to be a bit temperamental in her climactic preferences. One day flirting with summer, the next day snuggled down with winter. She’s a bit flighty that way.

As a lifelong central Ohio resident, I think I’ve just become immune to most of it. I can only imagine what a sunny transplant from San Diego must have felt this past spring wondering if the sun would ever shine or the gray skies would ever clear. But that’s just life here. And if you are considering Ohio State, it’s something to keep in mind. Yes, we do have shorts weather and long-coat weather. But there are some days when the sky is a perfect blue, the wind doesn’t purr and the humidity keeps itself in check that are just as beautiful as anything you’d feel anywhere in the world. That’s the Ohio I love.

So what should a student do when faced with a few fleeting days of gorgeous Ohio weather? Go take a hike! The Hocking Hills in southeast Ohio are post-card scenic. About an hour’s drive southeast of Columbus, the state park is a wonderland of hiking trails, rivers, and the famous Old Man’s Cave. There are places to zip line, canoe, picnic, camp or just lounge under a hemlock canopy.

Closer to home, Franklin County Metro Parks are well-maintained, free natural wonderlands in the center of urban sprawl. One of my favorite parks, Slate Run, features a 19th century farm with cattle, chickens, lambs, hogs and various other creatures. I have a particular affection for this park because part of my father’s family once lived in that very farmhouse. As a child, my father grew up in a different house, which has since been demolished, that was near the present-day park entrance. The rented home, featuring modern amenities, such as an out house, offered cold comfort in the winter time. As my dad likes to say, it was so cold in the house that the medicine he kept in his bedroom for his rabbits froze one night. How could I ever whine about central heating?

Campus itself is an oasis of natural beauty. Anyone who has ever studied by Mirror Lake on a clear morning with few students around could understand why this natural spring attracted university founders to this very site. And, of course, there is the Oval. This is Columbus’ Central Park. I’m not sure if the main attraction from my undergrad days–Jed the preacher–still makes the rounds, but the Frisbee players, sunbathers, book readers and dog lovers still chillax on sunny afternoons.

There are only a few weeks left of spring quarter, but there’s still time to get out and enjoy the weather while it lasts. Soon enough tropical humidity and Midwest heat will drive us back into indoor comfort.

Best Combination Since Saturday and Sunday

A couple of months ago I was watching TV and I came across a commercial that I thought was quite ingenious.  It was for Reese’s Peanut Butter cups.  The commercial was insinuating that chocolate and peanut butter was the best combination since Saturday and Sunday.  I would definitely have to agree.  Well, at least with the Saturday and Sunday part.

Up until about 3:45pm EST on Tuesday, February 1, 2011, I thought that the Saturday and Sunday combo would be untouchable.  But after today, I’m going to have to say that I found a new combination that I like almost (if not more than) as much as Saturday and Sunday.

Here is a list of other great combinations:

1.  Batman and Robin – great combo of super heroes.

2.  Saturday and Sunday – enough said.  DUH.

3.  Peanut Butter and Jelly – greatest combo on two slices of bread…ever.  This one never lets me down, especially when I’m hungry.

4.  Beavis and Butthead – greatest combo of fictional characters…ever.  Too bad MTV let that one die out.

5.  Surf and Turf – gotta be one of my favorite combo foods.  Joey’s Seafood always did it right.

6.  Garren C. (fellow MLHR blogger) and any class at OSU – class can be boring.  But class would be double boring without Garren.  Thank you G$lyce.

7.  Brad Pitt and Jen Aniston –  This was a good combination that is no longer a combination.  Stupid, Brad.  Angelina has nothing on Jen.  Just sayin’.

8.  Milk and Cookies (e.g. Oreos) – I could eat my weight in Oreos and milk.

9.  John Mayer and a Guitar – Thank you for some great music, John.

and…my new favorite combination

10.  Bad Weather and OSU canceling my class on Tuesday night – simply awesome!!

So as I sit in my apartment with NO CLASS and bad weather, I’ll have to admit, I’m liking it.


The Day Of Falling Cotton

As one of my OSU friends called today.  Sounds better than “snow day”, doesn’t it?

Today is Thursday, 01/20/2011 and it has been snowing all day and all of last night and it doesn’t look like it’s going to let up.  How do you know whether or not you should go to school based on OSU’s requirements or based on your personal sense of safety?  Do you scour Facebook for ways to bolster your courage through friends’ posts like, “No way in hell I’m wrecking my car going to Entomology 101!” or “I am not risking life, limb or deductible for this class!”?

First things first, here is the official OSU emergency management page.  This will list the current snow emergency level and whether or not classes have been canceled.  For a more general snow emergency level page that relates to Franklin County, here is the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office’s snow emergency level page.  It saves you the time and trouble of digging through NBC4’s website and also the trauma of reading local news (so boring!).

Second, you have to make the call yourself sometimes.  Being that we are not under any snow emergency level right now, OSU is operating under normal conditions.  That means that your professor cannot cancel class and is obligated to have it.  But you have to ask yourself sometimes if you’re confident that you can get to and from campus without risking your life or the lives of those on the road with you.

I drive a hybrid, which was designed to be about 1/3 lighter than the standard Camry and was engineered to glide further than a normal car as well to boost fuel efficiency.  In other words, it is as my classmate called it, “an overgrown sled.”

I did not feel safe driving to campus, especially considering the fact that the roads by me have not even been touched yet.  I e-mailed my professor and she understood. Keep in mind that on days like this, your professor is well aware of the weather and has probably been contacted by several of your classmates already with the same question, albeit more properly worded: “Do I HAVE to go to class??  Do I??  I don’t WANNA!”  Give him or her a heads up and get their opinion.

So this evening, rather than sledding down 315 North in a very large and expensive toboggan, I am going to finish this blog post, read the slides that the professor posted on Carmen for tonight’s lecture, and read ahead while drinking hot cocoa and trying to keep my kitten from laying on my warm laptop keyboard to take a nap.

Drive safe out there everyone!

Cbus Winter

Over the last four years I have lived in no fewer than six states. On top of that, I have visited several other states for weeks at a time. The list includes Washington, California, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Idaho, Indiana, Ohio, New York, North Carolina, Texas and more. One of the advantages of visiting so many states is that you feel like you have a solid understanding of different climates around the US. Brian Regan once did a comedy skit surrounding the “Me Monster.” While most people dislike frigid winters, few people like to admit that others have it worse than they in terms of winter weather. Take it from someone who has been there and seen it. Columbus winters are cold, but not that cold.

There are generally three main arguments that people make when qualifying their worst winters. One is temperature. This argument doesn’t hold too much water in a lot of states because sheer numbers would dictate that plenty of regions in the US are worse off than they. Because of this, some argue that the humidity found in the slightly warmer temperatures creates an air that will penetrate coats and skin to hit your very bones. Others will make up for higher temperatures with wind speed. Obviously, the more the wind blows the more severe a windchill will be. Another argument is precipitation. Again, particular areas of the U.S. win in terms of sheer quantity of snowfall. To compensate for smaller amounts of snow, citizens of dryer states will argue that when snow falls, its worse because of the lack of preparation. Or maybe, the snow fall is slicker and creates worse driving conditions than in other states. Finally, some talk about the sunshine. They say the lack of sunshine creates an atmosphere that drive spirits down. Seasonal affective disorder is all too real.

While I’m only in January (arguably halfway through the winter weather), RSS weather tells me I’m in the middle of the worst month Columbus has to offer. According to their winter statistics, Columbus is mostly in the middle of all those arguments. The temperatures rarely dip below zero but there is some wind and humidity to decrease the temperature feel. Snowfall is real; however, it’s mild and there are plenty of snow plows and salt trucks running around to keep the roadways clear. Paying closer attention to the levels of sunshine, you can see that Columbus indeed has little sun during the winter. Once again though, there are plenty of regions who have the same or even less sunshine and you’ll notice that those levels only stay low for three months. If you’re wondering about the winters, bring a coat and a hat. You may want to bring layers if you’ll be outside for long periods of time but you’ll likely be okay otherwise. Here at Fisher, there are even basement tunnels that connect Fisher buildings if you’re really uncomfortable with the cold. You may be in for a surprise if you come from a sub-tropical state but if not, you’ll likely be used to whatever Columbus gets.

Under the Weather

Actually, if you talk to a number of people in the program, you’d hear the opposite: they’re “so over the weather”.  Yes, friends, we’ve just started to get some more snow over the past two days.  Heh.  In the melodic words of Bachman-Turner Overdrive: “You ain’t seen nothin’ yet”.

As for me, since starting on our student health insurance plan, I have encountered three occasions that required prescription meds.  The most recent occurred this week.  The quarter started on Monday and by Tuesday afternoon in Cost Accounting, I could tell my cold was developing into something more.  I hoped for the best (2pm) and opted to see how things developed.  By 8pm that night, I was miserable and opted to inform my roommate of that fact every couple of minutes.  He knew I was sick but had no idea to what extent . . . until I grabbed a flashlight and had him glance at the back of my throat.  Sparing you the details, I’ll leave it at: it was quite a mess.

Here’s the thing: as students, we have health coverage for doctors appointments and unanticipated illness.  We can make appointments to be seen at the Wilce Health Center… which is fine and dandy as long as you don’t need to be seen outside of the hours of 8am-5pm M-F or 8am-noon on Saturdays (unless there’s a football game and then you’re out of luck).  Appointments are meant to be scheduled in advance.  Unfortunately, many of us can’t pre-plan when we’re going to really need to see a doctor.  Considering that, you can call in the morning and try to get seen the same day.  I had to do that in October and it happened to work out extremely well.  That time, I called at 7:30am and got a lab appt followed by a doctor’s appointment within about an hour.  The process there went like clockwork: all ran on time and I was in and out within about an hour.  There’s a pharmacy on site and I was good to go.  That was October . . .

. . . flash back to the nastiness of my throat infection on a Tuesday night ….

After seeing the mess my throat became, my roommate was a bit freaked out and worried (it really was nasty) and believed I should seek more immediate medical attention rather than wait until 7:30am and try to score an appointment at the health center.  By this time (10pm), the alternative treatment options listed on the website had all closed for the day… all except for one: the OSU Medical Center Emergency Room.

Desperate times call for desperate measures . . . but I really did not want to be one of “those people” tying up emergency resources for something non-critical (it’s not like I had a severed arm).  I was really on the fence: my situation was becoming increasingly dire and I didn’t want to be up a proverbial creek the next morning unable to attend class AND unable to get an appointment.  For reassurance, I called the phone number listed and spoke with a delightful woman named Nicole.  She said they’ve treated people with less serious issues; if I wanted to come in to see a doctor I should.  Given that, I opted to give it a go and head over there . . . knowing the wait would likely be a long one.  I wasn’t mistaken.  My roommate, aspiring for sainthood, chose to accompany me.  By 3am we were at a 24-hr CVS picking up my prescriptions.  We woke up at 7am to make it to classes (8:30am start).

The first time I needed to see a doctor was a few days after our insurance began but a couple of weeks before school was actually in session.  I did not have my student insurance card yet and was unsure of how everything worked.  Luckily, there is a lot of pertinent information listed on the OSU web and I was able to reach the website of the administrator of our student insurance plan.  On their site, I registered and gained immediate access to a version of my insurance card.  With a printout in hand, I visited a local urgent care center (the Wilce Health Center wasn’t open; it was a weekend during break) and was taken care of rather promptly.  The only dismay came when getting my prescription filled: if you don’t do it at the pharmacy on campus, the cost is out of pocket.  Luckily, I was still on my previous employer’s insurance and could use their prescription coverage to make ends meet.

So, to quickly summarize: OSU has outstanding facilities and services available to students.  With pre-planning, all works like clockwork.  Unexpected illness can be dealt with rather timely although a small wait could be involved.  Our medical staff and support personnel are professional, courteous, and very patient-oriented.  They are truly a first-class operation at the OSU Medical Center as well as the Wilce Health Center.  I am very happy with the treatment I’ve received and I’m confident you will be too.  To me, it is just one more reason to illustrate the power of a large research university backing an intimate and individual MBA program like Fisher.  You get the best of both worlds.

It’s All Relative

One thing I guarantee you: it snows in Ohio.  Being from the Cleveland area, I don’t think it snows much in Columbus.  However, I forget how many people aren’t used to snow . . . and how many of my classmates have never seen snow before (much less driven in it).  This year, the weather turned colder earlier than usual and we’ve had snow accumulation for at least a week.  Right now I’d guess we have only 2-3 inches on the ground… which really translates to nothing major… especially if you’re from Minnesota (where they received a couple of feet within a single day last weekend).  My roommate is from France: according to him it was a blizzard.  What can I say?  It’s all relative.

Speaking of my roommate, he accompanied me home for Thanksgiving.  From my perspective, it was really neat to be able to extend a warm welcome to a friend that has never celebrated such a holiday.  Thanksgiving is an American custom that I’ve taken for granted all my life.  When I think of “Americans”, I don’t consider us to have a culture per se.  We all come from different backgrounds and heritages – which means many of us still practice the customs and traditions our ancestors did.  It was nice to realize that, as Americans, we share a common bond and tradition that dates back a few hundred years.  Nicer was the fact that my father decided to cook the turkey Martha Stewart-style (he covered it with cheesecloth) and it came out beautifully (my roommate took the picture to prove it).  Along with preparing a fine meal, my dad set the table and decorated the dining room with harvest-time colors and patterns.  I felt quite proud when my roommate first saw it and whispered “It reminds me of home”.  Being far away from loved ones for an extended amount of time has got to be difficult.  I’m glad I was able to share my family with him… surrogate relatives.

Final grades just finished posting = fall quarter is officially in the books.  One thing that can throw you for a bit of a loop in b-school is the way you are graded.  Grades are distributed on a forced curve with the average at B+.  Being the achievers we are, we aren’t exactly used to being average . . . much less *below* average.  Sadly, the fact of the matter is: someone has to be below average (technically, half of us).  What you’ll need to figure out, amongst many other things, is how much effort you need to spend on your academic work in order to achieve the standing you want… and then hope all of your cohort teammates share the same goal.  Grades aren’t everything but they do matter.  Realistically, your final grades should come as no major surprise… most of the time.  By the reactions I’m reading on Facebook, many of us got surprised by at least one of our grades (class varied by individual).  Inherently, your calculated percentage could normally equate to an A- but you get a B+ in the class.  Why?  Because it depends how the rest of your classmates scored.  So, as much as you want to celebrate each others’ successes, you also want to stay near the top of the pack.  Yes friends, it is all relative.

Turkey Martha-style

the table is set for Thanksgiving

Ohio: The Sunshine State?!?

Whenever I have a chance to talk to our fellow MLHR students from abroad, I like to ask them about their impressions of America, if they have had any culture shocks, etc. Maybe it’s the old reporter in me coming out–I just can’t stop asking other people questions! I know whenever I travel outside the Midwest, there are always little subtleties that surprise me about people in other regions. So, I would certainly expect that someone from China would find the same surprises about life in Ohio.

So after talking to a few students from China I’ve found that the thing that surprises them the most about life in the Buckeye state isn’t the portion sizes, music, automobile culture or slang, it’s … Ohio’s sunshine! Anyone who has lived here for a while knows Ohio isn’t known for its sunny skies. Weather that can change in an hour, yes. Tornadoes in spring, yes. News stations that turn flurries into snowmaggedon, yes. But, sunshine? Well, we do have those few weeks in May and September that are calm and clear. And if you can see through the humidity in July while running back into the A/C, there is sunshine out there just lurking.

During a nice talk with a fellow student Friday night at the Fisher Women in Business meet and greet, we talked about the sunshine. She lamented that suntan lotions don’t seem to protect her skin and asked whether any of us carry sunbrellas. We agreed that most Ohioans don’t use sunbrellas (and we chuckled at the thought). We assured her that soon enough our unusually dry and sunny weather would soon turn damp, rainy, gray and eventually down right cold.

While we enjoyed record breaking temperatures this weekend, I thought about this glorious dose of sunshine. I tried to ignore it on Saturday when I needed to read. And when I was watching my son’s flag football game on Sunday, it was actually hot. That’s when the sunbrella didn’t seem like such a bad idea. And, frankly, my mom always brings one to these games. So when my daughter brought along her Hello, Kitty umbrella to shade us from the elements, I quickly cozied in. After awhile I was the holder of a kitty cat sunbrella basking in its shade. Who says we don’t have sunshine in Ohio?

New to Columbus? Prepare for some unpredictable weather

Living in Columbus, or Ohio for that matter, you have to get used to the unpredictable weather. I can’t tell you how many times during my undergrad career at OSU I woke up in the morning to sunshine, went to class in sandals, and lost a toe to frostbite on the way home because it was snowing. (I’m down to 7.) What I’m really trying to get at is that when you leave your house/apt./RV/houseboat in the morning, make sure you bring attire for a vast array of weather and temperatures. Dress in layers, utilize the provided lockers in Gerlach Hall, keep a jacket in your car. Not only is the weather unpredictable outside but in the classrooms at Fisher as well. If it’s warm outside, chances are they are pumping the A/C at Fisher so keep a sweatshirt in your locker.