From the monthly archives:

December 2009

Christmas Tree in RockefellerCenter

Christmas Tree in RockefellerCenter. December 2009

Some more amusing stuff about New York city from our holiday trip.

When I say “amusing”, you need to keep in mind that it is amusing from a “countryman’s” perspective of a suburban Washington, DC dweller. So these are the “amusing” things in New York for me. The NY city residents just take it as a matter of fact, of course.

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  • I took my laptop with me in expectation that I would be able to check out some stuff when I need it on the internet. We stopped at the Starbucks shop and I fired up my computer to get a location of some store we wanted to stop by. I was utterly bedazzled to find out that there is no free wi-fi access in New York city Starbucks. That was a shock. In DC area Starbucks shops have wi-fi free for all. Not that I ever used it, but I saw the signage and people using it every time I get into Starbucks around here. 
  • I enjoyed walking down the streets which were not wide enough for both the vehicles and pedestrians, so that pedestrians had continuously to overflow on the road from the sidewalk.
  • I heard more foreign speech than English while walking down the streets of New York. And those foreign languages were not all Spanish!
  • The New York city Central Park Zoo is not much to boast about. It’s very small, and adult admission is $10.  The Zoo in DC is at least ten times bigger and it’s free! The most disappointing thing is that they don’t even have most of the animals prominentlly featured in Madagaskar/2  movies. The only characters that could be related to that cartoon movie are penguins and lemurs. But no lions, hyppos, giraffes or zebras for that sake.
  • Getting out of the city on a holiday weekend is a lot of fun (not). It took us two hours fifty minutes to go 2.5 miles from the parking lot to Lincoln tunnel. That was really an eye opener to spend all this time in traffic with average speed of about one mile per hour.
  • I really liked the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center. It was gorgeous, marvelous eye candy. I also liked the crowdiness of the Rockefeller Center plaza. It was energizing.  Here are some pictures of the Christmas tree and Rockefeller plaza  for those of you who did not make it to it. All pictures are taken with my new smartphone Nokia E71x, I’m loving it.
Rockefeller Plaza Christmas 2009

Crowd at Rockefeller Plaza in New York. Yuletide 2009

Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center-2. December 2009

Christmas Tree in Rockefeller Center-2. December 2009


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How smart is your Theme?  How good is your support? Check out ThesisTheme for WordPress. On Sunday we had a day trip to New York. The main goal was to get the feel for New York during the holidays. While getting this experience we visited the Central Park Zoo and the Christmas tree at the Rockefeller Center. Time in between was just gettting back and forth between the two destinations with stops at some stores.

There were a few notable things I would comment on.

  • New Jersey full service gas stations law. I used New Jersey gas stations at least a couple times before. First time I was intrigued by the fact that I could not pump my own gas as I always do anywhere else. I was wondering why it was a law in the past, but never went to the trouble of researching it more. This time, probably this is the mindset being forged by my part-time MBA program, I had some explanation of my own and I was determined to check out if it had anything in common with reality. 

First for my explanation. I thought that New Jersey either had an unproportionately high ratio of high-school drop-outs or unprecedently conscious law makers who were concerned about the fate of high school drop-outs, so this law was the way to deal with this social and economic issue by providing thousands or may be tens of thousands jobs to these people.

I did some research on internet and digged out a few interesting facts. My assumptions were not directly confirmed by those findings. Nevertheless, here are the facts:

  • The law to ban self-service gas stations in New Jersey was made in 1949. Rationale for it was that it was safer to allocate a trained person to do it (today the attendants have to log 8 hours of training before being qualified to do that job). I don’t remember having any formal training before I pumped gas for the first time in my car ;-)
  • Today the full-service gas stations have become a part of Jersey “identity”. Many Jersyites have become so used to having their gas pumped by an attendant that they feel that removing this law will deprive them from their inherent rights and identity. They also have pity for the rest of the country where people still have to do this “dirty job” themselves and yet pay higher prices for self-service gas.
  • New Jersey does indeed have some of the lowest gas prices in the nation. It hardly has anything to do with full service gas dispension, but rather with the low gas taxes imposed by the state.
  • Given all the surrounding circumstances, the issue of full-service gas station is highly sensitive and very explosive political and economical matter in the state. The latest attempt to remove this law by the state governor in 2006 was a huge fiasco and disgrace for him.
  • Tipping the gas station attendant is optional. Most Jersyites have never done it, nor have they ever seen any of their acquantainces or neighbors do it.  (Since I was not aware of this until now I did tip gas station attendents every time I had my tank filled in New Jersey) 
  • Oregon is the only other state in the nation who makes a company to New Jersey by enforcing full-service gas stations law. 

So I admit, I was wrong to tie the issue so narrowly to the high school drop-outs. I was close to evaluating New Jersey law makers as very “conscious”, as they did defeat the governor in his attempt to remove the law, and they did upheld the New Jersey “pride” by keeping the outdated law. If not for any other reason than keeping the privilege to have their own tanks filled without leaving the comfort of their vehicles. It did have a trickle down beneficial effect on all other “concerned” citizens of the state. Oh, as additional side effect it did save jobs for some 1-2% of the state population, majority of whom are the voters. But isn’t this how politics work anyways?

As for me, I did appreciate paying a lower price for gas, even though it was a very minimal difference after adding a tip.

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Now that the fall term is formally over, I can draw the line for my first term in part-time MBA program at George Washington University School of Business (GWSB). It has been rather interesting learning experience.

I had some classes that really grabbed my interest, such as Microeconomics, Decision Making. There was a subject that made me shiver all the time, namely Financial Accounting. Business Ethics was OK, with some brighter spots when I learned interesting background facts of the stories that made national headlines in the very recent past.

I had some great instructors, some good ones and one I would not want to take another class with. I learned the importance of asking around in advance about other classmates’ experiences with other professors in other classes, so I could at least try to avoid the bad learning experiences. It is not always easy or even possible, but well worth trying. 

It has been very time-demanding and time-consuming endevour. The last three weeks, after the short Thanksgiving recess, have been especially intense for me. Mostly because I had two quantitative classes at the same time, and quants have always been a challenging domain for me. So preparation for the finals and the demands of the starting holiday season have collided into a very stressful mixture.


During the term, and actually from the time of starting preparation for the MBA, I have been keeping my log of expenses related to this process. To give future part-time MBA students idea about financial and other demands of part-time MBA program I am going to give a peek into my personal statistics related to part-time MBA program. Of course, it would have to be adjusted for every personal circumstances, but overall it will give you a representative snapshot of resources and efforts involved into getting the MBA degree part-time.

So here is my rundown of the results for the first MBA program term:

Academics

  • Completed total of 5 classes, 1.5 credits each
  • Accrued total of 7.5 credits towards my 52.5 credits required for graduation
  • Maintained 3.06 GPA

Financials

Direct costs:

  • Tuition and fees – $9,071
  • Purchase of textbooks – $428
  • Tuition covered by scholarship -$3,624
  • Costs covered by accrued student’s loan – $5,500
  • Direct costs paid out of pocket – $375

Incidentals and other indirect costs:

  • Parking – $155
  • Gas – $111
  • Laptop & software – $970
  • Total incidentals paid out of pocket – $1,236

Time & effort

  • Required reading – over 1500 pages
  • Time in class – 85 hours
  • Commute time – 38 hours
  • Time spend on preparartion for classes and exams – well over 200 hours, but no exact data, as I eventually lost track of it

 As they say in legal disclaimers: “every effort has been made to provide accurate account of  bla-bla-bla… Your results may differ due to many variables … bla-bla-bla”.

And of course, I wish Merry Christmas to everyone who cares.

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Today I received my last grades for the second half term in fall semester. This makes it closed both officially and emotionally ;-)  I am happy that I made it through. My GPA is actually still over 3, inspite of my little snafu with Financial Accounting-II. Hurray and on into the winter break and celebration time!

I mentioned before that I was looking forward to reading some books that are not textbooks on my vacation. The books are still related to my MBA program though. That is not much of a surprise to me, as I am trying to tone my brain for the business stuff covered in my core MBA courses. Albeit maybe from a bit lighter perspective.

About a month ago I put a hold on a couple of books in our public library with expectation that I would have time to read them during the winter break. The books are:

The first one I picked as I quite enjoyed reading the first book Freakonomics by the same authors this summer before the start of the MBA program. The second book was on more than one “recommended reading” lists for MBA students on summer break.

When I originally put a hold I found out there was a queue for both of them. I don’t remember what was my position in queue at that time. Today, however, I checked it again: Superfreakonomics – position in queue - 147, Outliers-75. That’s quite amazing. With this speed I will be lucky to get them by spring break, but more likely for summer reading!

It’s OK, I have already identified other reading targets for the winter break to keep myself busy.


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Spring Term Part-time MBA: Managerial Accounting

December 22, 2009

My professor in one of the classes I signed up for a spring term has already placed the syllabus and the home assignment for the first class. It actually happened a week ago, I just did not have time to get to it before. That’s almost a month before the first class! I appreciate this […]

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Mobile Phone for Part-time MBAer

December 21, 2009

I have been resisting the fad of getting a fancy latest model mobile phone ever since I got the very first one. I am not  a heavy phone user by any standards. I don’t need, neither do I want to be hooked up 24/7 via talk, texting, e-mail and so forth. I have always looked […]

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Big Dig-out Sunday in DC Area

Thumbnail image for Big Dig-out Sunday in DC Area December 20, 2009

As I wrote a few weeks ago, this winter could be a snowy one. This weekend it was officially confirmed. I did not check the news lately if this ended up to be an officially record-breaking snowfall for DC area, but they did forecast this could be the case. At any rate we do have a lot of snow. It started late Friday […]

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Part-time MBA on Winter Break!

December 17, 2009

On Thursday I had my last class in Fall term. My part-time MBA first term is officially over. In Business Ethics class we turned in our final research papers. Professor said he will get to grading them next day, so he hoped we will have our grades within a week. I also got my grade […]

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Fall Term Is Over, Almost

December 16, 2009

My first term in Professional MBA program at GWSB is just one day shy of conclusion. I am back from my final exam on Financial Accounting-II. This time I was not nearly as depressed as after my Fin. Accounting-I in the first half-term. It does not mean that I necessarily did any better than that […]

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Flash Mob Revelation

December 15, 2009

It probably just illustrates how outdated I am, but until today I did not know what “flash mob” means. I probably heard it before, but never was qurious enough even to find out its meaning. I thought that may be it is somehow connected to web designers’ community working with flash animation. Funny, ha? One consolation is that […]

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Decision Making Final Exam – This Time Final for Real

December 14, 2009

The full name of this course in our MBA program is Judgement/Uncertainty&Decisions. During the exam the main descriptive of my state was “Uncertainty”. Out of this uncertainty was the necessity to make some decisions, based on a limited judgement. At least the torture was limited to just two hours. Some problems were related to the stuff […]

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Decision Making Final

December 13, 2009

Today I spent half of the day reviewing material for the take home part of the final on Decision Making. It was excruciating. After 5 PM I decided that there is no point to try to catch all the pieces of the course. So I downloaded the exam and just worked on the problems. It […]

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Holiday Party – MBA Is not “All Work, No Fun”

December 12, 2009

I admit, I tend to take my MBA classes quite seriously. It is especially true, because, being a “poet” I have to struggle quite a bit with my quantitative subjects. So I have to spend considerably more time to get those done, while some of my classmates breeze right through it with minimum effort. That said, one […]

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Finals Are Coming, Parties Too

December 11, 2009

Yesterday was the last official class of scheduled sessions in my first semester of part-time MBA program. However, since our class in Business Ethics fell on Thanksgiving we are going to have a makeup next Thursday. But it is mostly irrelevant. Our final research paper is due at next class. This is probably the only reason I […]

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Financial Accounting Jeopardy

December 10, 2009

Yesterday we had our final class in Financial Accounting-II before the exam. This was probably the first time I was not depressed after the class, because I was actually able to rather adequately follow the lecture. Professor gave us handouts for exam preparation and announced the materials available on the Blackboard in order to do […]

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Whole Foods Market And Brand Differentiation

December 9, 2009

The other day on my way to work I had a sugar craving. I decided to stop by at the store to pick up a doughnut for breakfast. When I have such cravings occasionaly, I usually stop at the Giant Supermarket. This time I decided to check out what the doughnuts are like in Whole […]

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Girding Up for MBA Term Finals

December 8, 2009

Now is the final week of classes for this half-term. Yesterday I had my last class before the exam for Decision Making. Professor has announced the format of the final. It will be a combination of in-class and take home assignments that need to be submitted online. This time instead of 24-hours window for submission, […]

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Welch MBA – Any Takers?

December 7, 2009

Read an article today about new online offering in business education: online MBA degree from Jack Welch Management Institute. The guy has already made a name for himself, even if occasionally in dubious nominations. Nevertheless, he was named the Manager of the Century by Fortune in 1999, and obviously has something to say about business. Now he […]

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Direct-to-Consumer Advertising of Prescription Drugs Research

December 5, 2009

Added on October 4, 2010: I have uploaded my write-up for the case Effect of Pharmaceutical Companies Direct to Consumer Marketing on Doctor/Patient Relationship, which I did for Business Ethics class in my MBA program at GW, in the Business School Cases section of the blog. My MBA program studies take more and more serious toll on […]

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MBA Application Season Tips

December 4, 2009

There are many things that the applicants to MBA programs have to do during the application phase. Of course, on top of the list for most aplicants is getting GMAT nailed. Whether one needs 750 or just 550 score, it still requires preparation. The reason is that the test itself is rather challenging, there is a […]

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Financial Accounting Double Mixer

December 3, 2009

Yesterday I got a news on my final grade in Financial Accounting-I, finally. I got a “B” and was extremely happy about that. I had been really concerned about a possibility of just barely passing it. It is a good news, as it means that I am legitimately continuing with my part-time MBA program.  Obviously, […]

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Business Ethics Research Paper

December 2, 2009

Added on October 4, 2010: I have uploaded my write-up for the case Effect of Pharmaceutical Companies Direct to Consumer Marketing on Doctor/Patient Relationship, which I did for Business Ethics class in my MBA program at GW, in the Business School Cases section of the blog. Yesterday I had no classes in the evening, but […]

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Decision Making Mid-term Results

December 1, 2009

On Monday we received our mid-term papers for the exam we took last week. The answers had been actually posted a few day earlier, so I had general idea where I was standinng. Nevertheless I was waiting eagerly as I saw some of my solutions to more complicated problems were conceptually correct, but had some […]

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