Hello from the Depths of an MBA Program

I know I should focus this blog, but if you ever flip through my idea journal, you’ll see that focus is not my strong point (which is how HBS came about in the first place).  I’ve learned that I need to expend enough energy to at least decide if an idea may have legs.  Then I need to find additional people to run with the idea (with me), so the idea can go somewhere.  Well, I’m not going to talk about ideas in this post (that’s for later), this is simply a recap of the past seven or eight weeks.

I have enough material for 10 posts, but I’m tired and time is short (bedtime was about 45 minutes ago…).  Life has been busy since I wrote my last post.  I can very quickly recap:

1) Friday before classes started, I got a phone call from one of my residents to inform me that a van drove into the living room.  I received this phone call at 11.59pm; I had been asleep for about two hours, so I was really groggy and trying to make sense of what my tenant really meant by “a van is in the living room”.  Believe me, it’s just not worth speeding 60MPH while 3x over the legal limit to try to get to the bottle shop before it closes at midnight (see when I got the call from my tenant…).  There are about 1000 complications to this crash…the driver was violating parole, the driver was drunk, the insured (van owner) has not spoken with either insurance company yet (???)

I received a quote for construction and the repairs have started (ever ponder how to suspend an entire story of brick?):

Really nothing more to report on this one.  Questionable tenants moved out, so I can renovate their side (with the help of my brother!) and get that rerented.  Hopefully generate a little more cash flow, but again the renovations were REALLY unintended, so there may be a near term cash crunch.

2) I’m going to brag here a little, so if you don’t like bravado, move to ‘3’ below.  School is going well.  Received grades for the first Mod (essentially a quarter; 4 mods per year, two year program).  Grades are A, A-, A-, B-.  Overall a 3.53.  One of my professors took the time to write me about my contributions in class.  Here is what he had to say “As you well know, I enjoyed working with you this fall.  In fact, I looked forward to our class time together with some anticipation, which is a really good sign for someone who has been teaching MBA’s for more than 25 years now.  I thought we created a good experience together this year. Thank you”.  I realized that I haven’t received feedback like that from any superior (boss or otherwise) for probably eight years.  It honestly felt really good to read that email.

3) The Flip….well, it hasn’t sold yet.  I’ll have to make some tough decisions about it (eg keep as a rental, drop the prices, or ????).  Back to running some numbers.

4) Because “idle hands make the devil’s business” (or something like that), my wife asked that I finish remodeling our 2nd floor.  Destruction is complete and I’ve started installing bits and pieces.  My brother helped with sanding this weekend and left looking like a coal miner.  There was a random dead animal that fell from the ceiling.  Looks bigger than a mouse and was surrounded by a bunch of nuts…maybe a chipmunk?  I also found two carefully folded $10 bills from 1950 (worth $200 after inflation).  Also, found one potentially unrequited love note.:

My help is a TON of fun to have around (this was right before my helper strapped on her tape measure, grabbed her hammer and started rolling carpeting to be thrown in the dumpster)

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5) Odds and ends:
– Drive to 5 is still moving forward, albeit slowly
– I’m biking to school most days now, so gas consumption is significantly lower.  Should have details at the end of the year.
– I’ve been reading “Lincoln” by David Herbert Donald.  It is so packed with information that it is a slow read, but entirely worth it.  Look for a book report, probably in 2015.

BtW: Weeks 6-9

These past few weeks have been incredibly cold (yes, I’m a wuss) and snowy (I only have a road bike…need to save for a fatty).  So yes, I’ve been creating a ton of CO2 while driving to and from work, not to mention the gasoline consumed.

About three weeks ago, before one of the more recent snow storms, I had brought my bike to work, anticipating riding home.  After 6″+ of snow, the ride home was not to be.  Finally, this past Friday, I was able to ride home.  On this particular ride, I decided to take a different route home.  The new route took me up a steep, snow covered hill.  As I approached the hill, I saw a sled at the bottom with no one around.  Perfect end to a LONG week.

I grabbed the sled and with bike in tow, headed up the hill.  About two thirds the way up, I saw this sign:



I decided that the sled was steerable so long as I used my feet to steer to the right and left.  I got to the top of the hill, set my bike down and got on the sled.

It was a great ride to the bottom.  I haven’t really ridden a sled since high school and this was tons of fun.  I left the sled where I found it, hiked back to the top of the hill and continued on my way home.

Savings: None.


BtW: Week #5



BtW was a massive fail this week.  No only did we have sub-zero temperatures, we were also forecast to get 1″ of snow.  The picture above is from Thursday evening.  The snow continued to fall into Friday morning.  Friday was cloudy with no snow, but Friday night/Saturday morning the snow started again.  Again, we are forecast to ‘only’ receive 1″ of additional accumulation.  I just finished shoveling 3″ off of my driveway (7am Saturday morning).

Needless to say, I didn’t bike to work at all this week.  Not one single day.

On Wednesday, I had had enough, so I decided to play hooky from work for an hour or so and went for a hike on some of my most favorite trails in PA in Rothrock State Forest.  It had been so cold on Wednesday morning (-19degF in some areas) that when I got out of my car, I thought the local temperatures had warmed up a bit, so I hiked in a wool sweater, down vest and a ball cap.  The hike was beautiful.  Clear blue skies, bright sun, white snow.  Some of the local streams were still flowing, casting off some mist that quickly froze to form really neat ice formations.

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By the end of my hike, I was feeling a little cold but had a great hike.  I turned on my car and the car’s thermometer was reading 12degF.  Certainly not warm, but on a relative scale, almost 30 degrees warmer than -19!

I love to run in the snow, so when the forecast called for 1″ of snow on Thursday, I figured I would go run the trails in Rothrock.  By the time I got to Rothrock, there were almost 6″ of snow on the ground.  The run was great, but I was sore on Friday.  Here’s a pic from the end of the run:



Here’s to hoping BtW#6 is a much more active week.


BtW: Week #4

Trusty Steed

Hoo boy this week was a rough week.  I knew it was going to be cold this week, but intended to bundle up and ride through the cold.  I wasn’t prepared for the snow.  I closed on the house I’m flipping on Monday.  The lawyer’s office is all of 1.5 miles away.  Even in the car, it took me nearly 10 minutes to get there!  By Wednesday, the roads had mostly cleared, except for the freezing rain we received Tuesday night…another busted bike day.  Thursday I was able to get a ride from a coworker, so I saved a little money.  Friday I had to be at the Shop and it was damn cold, the bike trails were all snowed/iced over and I needed to pick up some tools…another busted bike day.  Altogether a weak showing for my BtW goal.

BtW Week 4 Stats:
Miles Biked: 0
Car Miles Saved: 14.2 (my coworker picked me up)
Gallons of Gas: .68
Dollar value of Gas: $2.35


BtW: Week #3

This week was cold.  Really cold.  Two of my units had some frozen pipes.  One thawed with no problems, in the other, the pipe burst.

In my other pursuits, I didn’t technically bike to work this week (too cold), but was able to car pool with one of my coworkers for three days this week and I rode my bike TO work on Friday.

I didn’t bike to work as much as I wanted, so I won’t count this week toward my 2014 goal of biking to work 66% of the time.  However, I will count this towards my 2014 frugality goals.

BtW Week 3 Stats:
Miles Biked: 9.6
Car Miles Saved: 57.6
Gallons of Gas: 2.74
Dollar value of Gas: $9.55

BtW: Week #2



It was a cold week for riding my bike.  A simple Google search for “Cold Bike Ride” came up with the above image, which is how I felt on two of my rides.  But, luckily I’m not Johnny!

This week I managed to save three car trips by biking.  I biked to and from work on Monday, to work on Tuesday and from work on Friday.  The way I figure my math is as follows: My wife had a pet sitting client very near where I work, so she needs the car each day.  If she were to drive me to and from work each day, plus visit the client, she would have a minimum of two trips per day, up to three trips, depending on our schedule.

On Tuesday, we had one trip (one trip saved) and on Friday, we technically had two trips, but would have had three if I needed to be picked up, so again, one trip saved.

The Friday trip home was better than the Tuesday trip into work, less painful, but still cold.  I decided to wear my steel-toed boots, after having warmed them up.  That helped keep my feet warm for about 1/3 of my ride.  For the 2nd third of my ride, my toes were cold.  The last third of my ride I knew I needed to get home.

About two miles from home, when I was really thinking my toes hurt and worrying about frost bite, I remembered the 101st and 82nd Airborne in the Ardennes.  When the Germans asked that the allied forces surrender, Lt. General Kinnard replied “Nuts!”  That was my mantra as I finished my ride home.

BtW Week 2 Stats:
Miles Biked: 38.4
Car Miles Saved: 57.6
Gallons of Gas: 2.74
Dollar value of Gas: $9.62


Trusty Steed


Coldest bike ride today, but I’m feeling more confident riding on some busy roads to get to work.  It was sub-32degF this morning when I left home, but the roads were dry.  Tried a new route in to work and it only requires me to be on one busy road (45mph) for approximately one quarter mile.  The only downside is that the ride home heads up a big hill.

Savings: I’m going to start reporting only cumulative savings at the end of each week, only because the daily savings will vary very slightly: I bike the same path to work and I used to drive the same route to work.

Cumulative savings:
Car Miles Saved: 57.6
Miles Biked: 54.3
Gallons of Gas: 2.75
Dollar value of Gas: $9.63 (Pays for the weekend visit to the local coffee shop)


Well, I survived a second day biking to work.  I picked up two lights for my bike, a front and rear light.  I’m not quite the UFO I want to look like, but I’m one step closer.  I next want to get a light for my helmet and a second light for the rear of the bike.

It was cooler today.  Frost was starting to form as I rode home.  I scared one rabbit that was being stalked by a cat.  My running myst help with the biking, because while I am winded while riding, my legs aren’t aching (too much), and I wasn’t at all sore today.

I realized that my math in BtW1 was wrong.  I calculated the savings as if I had simply driven the same path I biked.  I should have calculated the savings from driving the route I would have had to drive to get to work.  Savings actually increased slightly from the numbers on BtW1.

19.2 Car Miles
0.91 Gallons of Gas