Welcome Back!

After a brief hiatus (aka winter break) we’re back in the swing of things.  Classes have started, homework has been assigned, textbooks have been purchased, friends have been greeted, and I’m back to blogging.

Winter Quarter can be a tough quarter at Ohio State, namely due to the cold temperatures to which we are exposed.  There are many days in a row where all we have is gray skies.  Cold winds hit you as you walk across campus.  Sometimes, when Mother Nature is feeling particularly nasty, we even have snow.

That probably makes Winter Quarter sound unbearable and awful, right?  Well, luckily for you, I’ve got a few tips on how to make the most out of Winter Quarter!  And trust me, after 3 Winter Quarters and 22 years of Ohio winters, I can say from experience that it’s really not as bad as it sounds.

  • Load up on tough classes:  When its cold, gray, and snowy outside, you’ll want to be inside.  Take this opportunity to load up on some of the more difficult classes you’ve got to take!  When spring rolls around, you won’t want to be inside studying.  So while you’re stuck inside, you might as well clear your schedule for spring and enjoy the sun while you can!
  • Schedule Smart:  What I mean by this, is try to schedule your classes as close together as you can.  This reduces the number of times you’ll have to leave the building, which means you’re only cold twice a day (when you get to the building and when you leave the building).  Carefully selecting your classes and planning ahead can make this a certainty!
  • Catch up on movies:  Again, you likely won’t be outside for the majority of days in winter quarter.  Luckily, the Gateway Film Center is conveniently located at 10th and High and has great student ticket deals.  You worked hard in the fall, so go enjoy some movies with your friends!  What’s even cooler is that the GFC shows more than just mainstream movies, so you’ll definitely find something that suits your fancy.
  • Ohio State Basketball:  This year, we have an incredible team.  However, every year our team is at least pretty good and definitely worth going to watch!  Student tickets are very reasonably priced and aren’t too difficult to find.  Make sure you get to at least one game – you won’t regret it!
I’ve always felt that Winter Quarter also offers some of the best electives.  Make sure you check these out well before scheduling, so you can decide for certain which classes will help you battle the cold winter temperatures!

Spring Into Action!

I know what you are thinking.  And, believe me, I thought it too.  For starters, my blog title is a bit cliche (and lame-o).  But, if you can move past that, it’s hard NOT to notice the signs of spring all around us:  Birds chirping their brains out at 6am and prematurely waking me up; trees budding; tulips beginning to push up through the ground; grass turning green, consistent 50-60 degree weather and the lovely April rain showers that produce May flowers.

With Spring in the air, I’m hard pressed not to think about the one thing I dislike that is associated with the Spring season.  The dreaded “SPRING CLEANING / TO-DO LIST”.  Yes, I said it.  Shame on me.  And shame on us for trying to ignore all those things we’ve been so covertly putting off to do because it was cold outside.

With that being said, I decided to put together a Spring to-do list that I think will be helpful for every one of us who is in graduate school.

1.  Lose the Winter Coats/Layers. Spring in Ohio can be a bit capricious.  Especially when it was snowing less than a week ago.  But, I’m going to go out on a limb and say, “PACK IT UP, PEOPLE.”  Replace your winter coats, sweaters, cardigans, stocking caps, scarfs and jackets with shorts, polo’s, t-shirts, sandals, flip-flops.  The only way I’ve found to convince mother nature to make Spring stay is to change the way I dress.

2.  Clean. I’m keeping this one short because this word around this time of year seems to be an inevitable “cuss” word.  Clean your desk, garage and car out.  Maybe you just need to tidy up your room or get rid of some old clothes.  Whatever it is, get on with it and do what I call, “The Nasty”.

3.  Take a Drive with the Windows Down. Sunday was a gorgeous 85 degrees.  What makes those days even more gorgeous is going for a drive with the windows down.  If you have a convertible, then I envy you.

4.  Flip-flops, flip-flops, flip-flops. Need I say more.  It’s time to break them out if you haven’t done so already.  Personally,  I haven’t met any more aggressive when it comes to flip-flop wearing that fellow MLHR blogger, Shawn H.  This man sets the standard for flop wearing.

5.  Bust Out the Sunglasses. With the temperatures rising and the sun staying out longer, it’s important to protect our eyes from damaging UV rays.  I can’t think of anyone else I know who dons the sunglasses more than fellow MLHR blogger, Garren C.  This man wears sunglasses 25 hrs day/ 8 days per week/  365 days per year.  Take a tip from, Garren.  He believes in protecting his eyes from damaging UV rays.  So should you.

6.  BBQ. In southern states, it’s BBQ.  In SoDak and other Midwestern states, it’s grilling.  Eh, same thing.  Nuances aside, it’s just plain time to fire up the grill, invite some friends over and enjoy some good burgers & brats and sip some cold drinks.


7.  Enjoy the Great Outdoors. When the weather is nice, it’s time to put away the TV and get outside.  Go for a bike ride or take your dog for a walk.  Maybe join a volleyball or softball league.  Whatever it is, stay active and enjoy being outside.

Go Bucks!

It’s an Early Spring!

Buckeye Chuck and Punksutawney Phil didn’t see their shadows yesterday, so spring is on it’s way! As we slip and slide on icy sidewalks this week, and some deal with power outages, this is a good thing. I enjoy living in a four seasons climate, but I understand why winter gets the bad rap. It’s cold. It’s windy. It’s icy. It’s just not that much fun. But I’d rather wear a sweater than shorts and sit in front of a crackling fire than sweating in a lawn chair.

Even so, I’m starting to miss being outside, mowing the lawn and working in the garden. We live outside the outerbelt on a seven-acre slice of heaven, or Narnia as my classmates like to call it. When the green growth season is upon us, my family will eat dinner and then work outside until the security light flickers on around 9 pm. These days I’m trekking outside around 5 pm to close the henhouse door and feed the rabbit and goats. I feel guilty about running back in as quickly as possible, and I’m sure the animals are muttering something about their wussy benefactor. What can I say? It’s cold out there!

Soon enough though we’ll be starting seeds in the basement. We plant dozens of heirloom peppers and tomatoes each year along with just about anything else that sounds good: tomatillos, sweet potatoes, corn, squash, pumpkins, carrots, lettuce, cabbage, soybeans (edamame), spinach, swiss chard, broccoli…you get the picture. We use as much fresh produce as possible, share with friends and family, feed some to the animals, and I can as much produce as time permits. Opening a fresh jar of tomatillo salsa on a February afternoon is a reminder of warmer days to come.

In a few weeks we’ll start to see the first crocus blossoms. By Easter I can plant peas, spinach and other cold season vegetables. The orchard will start to burst into bud, and we’ll anxiously watch the weather reports hoping that a late frost won’t nip our chances of reaping a bounty of apples, cherries and peaches. I can’t wait to smell the hyacinths and peonies, but I can wait a little longer. After all, once winter removes her snowy blanket and the sun begins to shine, it’s time to rise up and battle grass, weeds and wildlife for another growing season. I think I’ll sit back and enjoy winter for now.

A view of our summer garden.

Ready For Spring

For two Thursday nights in a row, it has snowed.  And for two Thursday nights in a row, I’ve had the wonderful privilege of getting stuck in traffic on 315N.  My once modest 15 min drive to OSU campus has now turned into 40+ mins, with 20 min of that drive being the last 2 miles.  I don’t know if its just me, but sometimes I feel like I’m the only one in Columbus who knows how to drive in the snow.  Now that might sound like a really bold statement.  And it is.  Because growing up in South Dakota, it was a prerequisite to drive in snow – and lots of it.  After living in Ohio for the past year, I almost afraid of venturing out on the roads after a light dusting of snow.  It seems as if people in Ohio go into panic mode.  The most dangerous thing about it is people completely “underdrive” the road conditions.  To me, driving 5 mph is totally unacceptable – even with 2 in of snow on the ground.

Since I cannot change the weather, I decided to cure my winter weather blues and compile a ‘things I’m going to do when Spring gets here’ list.

1.  Ride my bike.  I cannot wait to get out and hit the roads and bike trails.

2. Go hiking at Hocking Hills.  This is a great place to get away for the day and enjoy the great outdoors.

3.  This may seem random, but I miss washing my car.  Maybe its just the idea of getting outside that makes me feel that way.

4.  PACK UP MY WINTER COAT.  And scarves.  And gloves.


5.  FLIP FLOP TIME!  I cannot wait to rock the flip flops for 8-9+ months.

I’ve officially decided I’m ready for Spring.  And not for any other reason except that I am tired of the ‘white stuff’. (I refuse to  ‘type’ the word).  I hope that Punxsutawney Phil doesn’t see his shadow because I need some sunshine and 60 deg weather.

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.

Kid’s story: Cold lessons, or lessons in the cold… (PG-13 version)

Timeline: Thursday afternoon (what?!)

I see: gloomy skies.

I hear:  “Los Maté” by Tego Calderón on XM radio

I smell: Pineapple Cilantro…?

I feel: a surprising lack of motivation.

Note: this post is a couple of weeks old and has been edited for content.

So winter quarter is finally over. In a nutshell: I really hope spring is better. I only had lecture classes (as opposed to discussions) and I really found them less interesting than I expected. Then again, maybe it was just me.

One thing I learned during winter was that the weather is not as bad as people describe it, at least for me. It certainly was not enjoyable every day, especially during the three or four snowstorms we had between January and March, but the sun does shine with certain frequency and the snow is not much of a problem most of the time, as this city has the necessary infrastructure to deal with it adequately. Of course, you will hear people complaining a LOT about how the city of Columbus only has 60 plows or something and how they do not plow side streets down to the pavement and a bunch of other things. Then again, you kind of expect these things in “the developed world”, where people could definitely improve on their appreciation of what they have and how well things work. Whining aside, winter is mild enough to be livable; since this past winter was one of the worst in the memory of locals, it can only get better.

Also, as time goes by, people get to know you better and feel more at ease around you. It goes without saying that this is a good thing like 99% of the time. Sometimes, however, you could find that some comments go a bit over the line (unintentionally, mostly). It’s no big deal, but it kind of surprised me and I could have used a heads-up in this regard.

Another pointer: getting that summer internship is quite difficult and stressful. At the end of fall it doesn’t seem too bad, but I have dedicated considerable time and efforts during winter and have gotten NOWHERE so far. When you bring that up as a concern, people will tell you that many have already gotten their internships (mostly domestic students) and that several others are in the same internship-less situation (mostly international students). None too reassuring, to say the least. The best advice that can be given in advance is to start looking for an internship the summer before classes start, and to be relentless about it. That way, you can have a great peace of mind. However, I can also tell you that if you get your kicks out of the adrenaline rush of waiting until the last minute, you won’t be disappointed at all.

As for spring break, which is currently underway, many of my classmates traveled to other countries as part of the emerging markets class; namely Peru, Ethiopia, Vietnam, and Brazil. You will surely be able to read numerous posts on their travels in the coming days.

I decided to drive down to the Sunshine State for a few days. The trip was quite enjoyable, as the roads in this country are excellent (I think I mentioned that before), and going to a party full of undergrads on the beach is quite a sight for a single person as myself. Plus, I got to spend some time with my family and shop around. In short: pateó asno. The downside is that now the weather in Columbus seems worse than when I left, but that’s bound to wear off.

Um… Yeah, that’s about it for now.

“There’s 40 million of us in this country, and we ain’t going nowhere!”  – George Lopez

Winter Quarter – Week 1 Snapshot

So the first week of Winter Quarter is over… already. Talk about time flying! I still haven’t received all the textbooks I ordered online, but we already have several assignments due next week! That’s one of the main differences between a semester system and a quarter system I think; there is no “easy” first day (or week) to help slowly ease students back into the grind – it’s more like a dunk tank.

After reflecting on the past week, I’ve come up with a list of the most memorable things (good and bad); most of which are non-school related (mostly because of the crazy weather we have had)!

1. Tuesday, Jan 5 – 1:30 – 3:18PM: The first session of my Business and Sustainability class (MHR 841) really inspired me. We watched a very moving video of a keynote speech given by Interface Carpet’s founder, Ray Anderson.

2. Thursday, Jan 7 – 8:30 – 10:18AM: The professor of Marketing (MBA 840) gave us an excellent brain teaser, which I’ll rewrite here, for you to try. Pick a number between one and nine. Multiply by 9. If you get a two digit number, add the digits together. Subtract 5. Find the letter that corresponds to your number (A=1, B=2…). Think of a country whose name starts with that letter. Now think of an animal whose name begins with the last letter of the country’s name. Then think of a color whose name begins with the last letter of the animal’s name. I’ll put the most common answer at the bottom the post – so no cheating!

3. Thursday, Jan 7 – 10:30AM – 12:00PM: Cost Accounting (MBA 801) began with some unidentified rock music… and a quick “brain teaser” devolved into a 15 minute disagreement about what size piece would fall off if you make two random cuts into a circle hanging on a string. Wow.

4. Thursday, Jan 7 – 3:35 – 5:23PM: My 20 mile commute home took…. this long. I thought I would be “smart” and take city streets, instead of the freeway, but those tricky Columbus drivers (snow novices) apparently had similar ideas!

5. Thursday, Jan 7 – 9:30 – 11:00PM: Doing donuts, power slides and drifting with the Columbus Racing crew – six SUV’s, a brave MR2 owner, a Honda, and of course, my V8 RWD Towncar. You know you’re having a good time when you’re getting sprayed with snow even though you only have your windows rolled down about 2″! I didn’t get any good pictures, so I’m including a generic one, for those of you unfamiliar with the concept.


** The most common answer to the brain teaser in #2 is: an orange kangaroo in Denmark! I came up with an aubergine koala from Denmark… I must admit, I had some trouble coming up with a color whose name began with “a” in English! (I came up with azul immediately, but I figured that was cheating… although aubergine also is rooted in French and British English, so that may be a bit of a stretch as well)!

I hope everyone has an excellent, safe weekend!


Winter Wonderland…if you want to be optimistic

As you know, I dearly love the state of Ohio.  I love the people, I love the cost of living, I love the things to do and I even love the crazy buckeye fans.  What I conveniently forget every year however is that I do not love Ohio in the winter.  Is snow pretty? Generally, yes.  Is snow pretty when it falls everyday, parking lots are not plowed, and it takes me 25 minutes to drive the four miles between school and home? No.  Not in the least.

First about the snow falling everyday.  Snow greeted me last Saturday as I was driving back to Columbus from break.  It snowed Sunday.  Monday.  Tuesday.  Yesterday there was a little bit of relief.  And today holy cow it just doesn’t stop.  What happened to all of this global warming everyone is talking about!?!?

Now for the parking lots.  I have some complaints.  The first is to Ohio State.  Everyday I park in a large parking lot located on the corner of Lane and Tuttle and it is the closest to Fisher.  This parking lot is icy every single day and despite very lovely orange cones depicting the lanes to park in people just do not understand them.  Do the cones depict the start of a set of two rows or the middle of a set of two rows? Confusion everywhere, people blocking others in and general mayhem that has resulted in me parking as far away in the lot as I can possibly be just so I don’t have to deal with confused people and to avoid being blocked in.  It is not just OSU though.  My own apartment complex has invested not in a plow service but…get ready… in a hand-pushed plow…it would probably take the maintenance people until May to plow the parking lot with that.  I hope they have shovels to loan out to residents because I have a funny feeling I will be needing it this winter.

And lastly Ohio driving.  I have never been a fan of Ohio drivers even in the best of conditions.  I learned how to drive New York style which means a bit too fast, aggressively, and defensively.  I am not afraid to use my horn if you are about to cut me off.  Here that doesn’t translate so well.  In the snow I get even more annoyed.  My philosophy for snow driving is incredibly simple….I SLOW DOWN.  That is all there is too it.  Slow down so you always have plenty of room to stop and don’t drive like a maniac.  Not hard right?  I complain about Ohio drivers going to slow in good conditions…it’s like they suddenly enjoy speeding in four inches of snow and white outs.  I’ll never understand it.  So be prepared.

Other advice…invest in good snow boots.  I discovered these boots by a company called Bare Tracks and I’m obsessed.  They are completely waterproof yet still cute.  So if all else fails, I enjoy winter because of my snow boots.

Oh and the first week is going just fine…. 🙂