Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Words Don't Paint a Picture

While the first day of class felt like a slap in the face, I felt like everything was going to mesh perfectly for my schedule.

For our first lecture and lab of the day, we were untaught by Mark McCarthy on Microsoft Word. The focus with utlizing business tools like Microsoft Office revolved around being "efficient and effective." We dug deep into the unknown functions of using Word from setting up boxes and borders to fixing up proper indentation. I am a shameful abuser of constantly using the spacebar, indentation key, and the enter key to get text in the way I strive to make it become. But Mark helped show us the proper way to do everything so that our memos appear professional and clean. While it may not be as simple as simply hitting Return, it certainly makes everything on the paper look so polished, and in the end, first impressions always make a difference.

Prior to our second class lecture, my group in class was taught by Reneta McCarthy in an introduction into the CHESS program that simulates a hotel. For our specific simulation, the hotel is a luxury 250-room lodging facility with no food & beverage factor added in. She taught us how to change rates, how to close rates, how to manage expenses, and how they can play a part in your hotel's revenue. We were also assigned a memo to explain our strategies for our CHESS Hotel on Friday and she has suggested that we be as creative and imaginative as we can as the simulation is not visually appealing. I have already started a game plan, thinking that the first factor I will monitor within my hotel is to block out the lowest rates available so that I can get more money from the more expensive rates. However, the lowest rates will not be completely closed off as they will be reserved exclusively for patrons that come in a group so that I still can attract all three types of hotel customers (business, leisure, and group).

For my office hours, I decided to get to the computer lab early since there is no time to complete anything else before then. Looking at the sky resulted in flashing bolts of lightning behind the clouds. The thunder was tremendously loud and rain began to pour in a sudden manner. Even despite an umbrella, my shoes and pants were absolutely wet, but through rain and shine, I managed to get to my office hours early so that I could get straight to working on my assignments. My four-member group and I had to compose our own memo to explain our rules and guidelines within our groups, and I spearheaded that project. I managed to get reading done on a narrative written by Donald Trump himself. He explained the story behind how his property on 42nd Street came to fruition and it was definitely a good read, explaining his struggles behind getting tax alterations and financing to getting the Hyatt to manage the hotel.

Everyone always argue behind whatever study method they think is the best. Some go for highlighting text while others believe that writing down actual notes is the victor. Because I have exclusively taken notes already, I thought it would be nice to just highlight different points for once. Many people have their own personal ways of studying, but a synthesis of taking good notes while highlighting important passages has become a very effective studying method for reading material. And to think that there are thousands of ways to properly read and understand the text assigned!

Both Sides of the Spectrum

Since it is rather late, I will try to be concise.  Tomorrow is a long day, and we are going to be dealing with a lot, so we'll see, I hope.

Today however, was extremely interesting and very extreme on both ends.  On one hand is was dry and hot and sweltering, while on the other, it was roaring with thunder and rain fell from the skies unrelentingly.  The good thing was that I was able to share an umbrella with Terilyn, which turned out to be really fun, if a "little" wet.

The lesson plans that were going by today were rather intricate.  During our lab sessions, Mark taught our class the ins and outs of Microsoft Word, such as the format painter and the many types of formatting available in page, paragraph and font sections.  He also challenged those that knew what they were doing to not use a mouse.   So I will resolve not to use a mouse.

During the lectures, Reneta taught the class about the CHESS simulation, a simulated hotel game that we will be dealing with to learn more about operations.  It seemed to be really fun, but quite complicated all the same.  Meanwhile, we also learned about corporate structures, such as c-corporations.  That in of itself was rather rigorous, and without much knowledge in economics, it turned out to be even more confusing.

It is quite strange because I feel like I have been here for weeks, but only really for two days.  Maybe time passes that slowly, yet that quickly around here.  Or maybe it is just me.

A Thundering Start

Day two of Freedom and Justice and I must say Professor Kramnick was better than I could have asked for. He is the first teacher/professor I have had who can lecture for an hour and a half without losing my interest or attention.

Today we talk about the ‘Old’ and ‘New’ testament. I put old and new in quotes because Professor Kramnick explained that there is a movement to change new to something that would not imply that one was better than the other. I personally could care less what the books are called, but do strongly feel that B.C and A.D should be changed to B.C.E and C.E because I am not religious and think that was a non secular nation we should separate ourselves from religion. I am going to use this as my intro into the lecture. Today Professor Kramnick’s lecture touched on how the ‘New’ testament is a canonical text. He referred to the many thoughts and quotes even that can be seen in the ‘New’ testament in our political system today. Along with talking about quotes and thoughts, he talked about the difference between the two books, about how in the ‘Old’ testament the continuous story was about God being the law making and judge, but how in the ‘New’ testament was more about love. As a nonreligious person, reading the text was very interesting to me. I had never seen the theories that drive modern day Christianity.

After lunch we had our first guest speaker. Professor Kramnick referred to her as Judge Judy to try and get some laughs and his joke was well received. The Judge talked to us about a recent case she was just working on and explained the process from start to finish of trial. As a “want-to-be” lawyer her lecture was incredibly insightful. I learned so many new things that my crime shows were lacking. I was aware that both sides had some say in who the member of the jury were to be but I was unaware that for the prosecutors to request bail the case had to be seen by the grand jury. This was news to be because from what I had “learned” from the all-too-many crime shows I watch I would have assumed that bail was set and decided on by the judge.

After all of this excitement my day took a turn towards athletics. For those who do not know I am a very committed soccer player who dreams of playing in college, so it was wonderful to have to opportunity to talked to the Assistant Coach for the Cornell Women’s Varsity team today. From my conversation with the coach I learned about the Cornell program, the Ivy League training rules, and most importantly what it would take for me to make a spot. I have to thank the ILC because if I were not in this program at Cornell I would never had this opportunity. The coach told me that my being here for the summer program showed my interest in the school and my taking the lead on communicating with her showed my dedication.

To top off that soccer experience I had my first Intramural soccer game today. I cannot tell you how great it felt to be back on the field running around. But it is time for bed because I have class tomorrow.

Until Tomorrow, Over and Out blog readers.

The Cornell Challenge

I've been working hard and eating well. The food at Cornell is pretty great. Once you get to a college campus, there's just so much variety; the dining halls are giant international buffets. I just wish I had more time to work out after sitting in class for nine hours a day.

When I’m not enjoying the food or feeling restless to go for a run, I’m definitely studying or catching some Z’s. Yes, we were warned that this was going to be the most intense course on campus, but there are some students, especially those who are part of the family business, who make it seem like it should come natural. I want their brains.

In the meantime, I will be taking some thorough notes (the Cornell Notes style we learned in school will come in handy on its birthplace campus) and attempting to think up intelligent questions so I don’t make a fool out of myself in class.

After a fair amount of reading assignments on it, we were formally introduced today to CHESS, our hotel simulation which will be running individually in the lab over the course of two weeks. I am anxious yet simultaneously cautious to test it out and experiment. It seems like a really interesting piece of software, and there’s a lot of decision-making and business strategizing involved. I never considered myself business-minded at all, but I’m willing to learn from mistakes.

Another thing I’m concerned about is how I’m going to manage my priorities. Getting in shape and maintaining it before the fall sports season is really important to me, and it’s a responsibility I take seriously. Maybe it’s not my responsibility as an ILC or summer college student, but I owe it to my teammates at home and to my own well-being.

When class runs until 9 PM, the 4-7 PM break we have seems inconsequential once the one-hour round trip from Statler Hall to the dorms and back, plus time for dinner, studying, reviewing notes, or napping is considered. There are group presentations, research projects, readings, business plans, and reviews to worry about.

I understand that school comes first, but I also worry about being healthy. Do I want to get up at 5 AM for that much-needed, therapeutic morning run, or should I rest up for the whole day of class ahead? Would it be worth it to chuck $65 on a gym pass I might never find the time to use? Or maybe I might find a balance by cutting dinner and studying time short to go for a quick afternoon jog? Learning to make my decisions, moreover to effectively and efficiently utilize my time will be the ultimate Cornell challenge. I hope you’re all rooting for me.


So today I have the pleasure of learning about college homework loads. That lesson is not quite over yet, so I will have to keep this blog brief if I hope to get to bed before 2:00AM.

I woke up at 7:00AM again so I could get ready by 8:00AM and then have breakfast with my cohorts and newer friends before class starts at 9:00AM. I believe this will become a pattern, and I honestly hope it does, because there are not too many teen-age boys getting up that early to shower here, and a long breakfast definitely gives me some time to wake up before class begins.

Today, class went pretty well. Professor Kramnick lectured for his normal hour and a half about Love, Law, and Christianity, which was very interesting, but at the very beginning of his lecture he announced the names of the six students that would be eating lunch with him today (he picks six students to have lunch with him every day so he can get to know us better). And I was on today's list.

As I said, the lecture went well, and the discussion group afterwards was great, but my mind was on the lunch the whole time. I've been dining with high-powered individuals all week, but this is my professor now! I have never had to do this before! I was hoping for an initial bias in my favor since he seemed to like Mr. Ramsey so much at orientation, but there was no way for me to really know what to expect.

Lunch did arrive eventually though, and Professor Kramnick actually turned out to be an awesome guy! We had to wait a while for everyone to get their food, but once the table was all situated, the conversation began to flow. We all learned each other's names, where we were from, what kind of school we went to, and why we were taking the Freedom and Justice Course. Professor Kramnick knew I was from the ILC as soon as I said that I was from El Cerrito, and he seemed to like me from that point on (biases can work wonders).

We found out from a lot of information from him too, but he said he wasn't too big on technology and I'm not sure if he would want his info on the web. Cool guy though. He's very lively and I really enjoyed the lunch. Hopefully this experience goes as well for our other ILC'ers.

So that was really the highlight of the day, and I have to do homework now, so I will talk to you all tomorrow! Good night readers!

Already Nostalgic? It's the Second Day of Class!

I am very prone to feeling pre-nostalgia. Today, our 1-4 pm lecture flew by and that scared me quite a bit. It’s the second day of class, and already everything is going by much faster than I would like it to.

At the same time, though, I also feel like I have been here at Cornell for weeks and weeks. It is incredibly easy to get accustomed to a routine, even if one has only lived according to the particular routine for 2 days.

Speaking of routine, I have gotten used to the bipolar weather here. It no longer surprises me when out of nowhere, thunder starts roaring and rain starts pouring, which is exactly what happened today. I enjoyed it. It was great being outside while the storm started and it was also great watching it from inside the Robert Purcell Community Center Marketplace, which is where I was eating dinner.

A large portion of the content we learned from Reneta today focused on concepts we could use to run our personal CHESS, or Competitive Hospitality Education Simulation Series I, hotel. On Friday, we will turn in a 2 page business memo stating our plan for our virtual hotel.

We were reminded to consider closing or restricting rates for our hotel during certain days of the week. I have yet to decide if my hotel, the Teril Inn (Get it? Teril Inn= Terilyn), will offer entertainment every day of the week, or only on Fridays, or what types of amenities I will offer in the rooms. We were also reminded that when setting rates, we must consider what types of customers would visit the hotel on a weekday as opposed to on a weekend. For example, more businesspeople would probably visit on weekdays, while more leisure travelers would visit on weekends. How many rooms will I expect housekeepers to clean during an 8-hour work period? Will I accept group reservations? Which particular ones will I accept?

I must consider all of these things to successfully manage the Teril Inn, a 250 limited-service hotel located (virtually) in Syracuse, New York. Hopefully, I will pull it off. Hopefully, I will find a way to fully immerse myself in the course without feeling like everything is speeding by.

Wait... That Judge Judy?!

Today I woke up on a whopping 8 hours of sleep, which was still way short of the recommended 9 and a quarter we learned was necessary at Sunday’s studying crash course, but I felt more refreshed than ever heading into the first true class this summer. I say first true class because unlike the Hotellies, our first day was more of an introduction to the course, and although we did have some enlightening discussions, it was nowhere near as rigorous as their class, although that was how everyone had told us it would be, so that isn’t much of a surprise.

After a quick breakfast I was waiting in the lecture hall, curious on just how these lectures would work after we had read something the previous night. Last night’s reading was the New Testament, and I was curious to see how our professor would show all the political ideas in what I had originally considered pretty much solely a religious text. Right away Mr. Kramnick explained that because the Bible’s ideas dominated throughout Western culture, those ideas also dominated politics. Even though we had only read excerpts from the “New” Testament, Professor Kramnick also explained the politics of the so-called “Old” Testament (Professor Kramnick included these quotations because new make it seem like it’s better than the Hebrew Bible).

I have never really heard someone speak with such passion about any subject, and it rubs off on all of the students in class. He made so many intriguing points I lost count, but the overall theme of his section on the Old Testament was that God commanded his people and gave them countless rules to follow, 613 laws in all according to a fellow student, and that in return, God offered his people protection. There are also contradictions of contradictions of contradictions throughout both the “Old” Testament and “New” Testament, which our professor cited as the most likely reason it has stayed around and important for so long, since its less sincere followers can pick and choose whatever aspects of the Bible they want to follow (although the rules are pretty mandatory of course).

We then discussed Christian ideas of justice, for both the final half of the lecture and among our discussion groups and it showed me just how ignorant I had been of political ideas in the Bible, and that with good teaching it was easy to pick it up and start making connections between the concepts of Justice in the Bible and our justice today. I personally found Jesus Christ’s interpretation of justice to be wonderful, because according to Christ, everyone should love everyone, and that is how one receives true justice. As Christ says in Corinthians 13 (and I completely agree), “If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have all faith, so as to move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.” This truly shows how Jesus believed in overall togetherness in a community, something that I at least, don’t see much of in the present day.

After our discussion and lunch, we headed back to the lecture hall, who Professor Kramnick had introduced earlier in the day as Judge Judy. In what ended up turning out to be a good thing, it ended up not being that Judge Judy, but rather a judge in Ithaca’s city Court, Judge Judith Rossite, who gave a bit nicer of a lecture than I would have expected from the TV Judge Judy. The Judge mainly told us about a recent case involving burglary and rape, and when she explained all the little nuances she had to deal with in cases like this, I truly began to appreciate all the hard work involved in making our judicial system run as smoothly as it does.

It was yet another wonderful class, and I had just finished studying St. Augustine and St. Aquinas, when in the middle of me writing this very blog, the skies just completely opened up on us, and an intense thunderstorm just now stopped after about an hour, although it is still raining. While many of my cohorts will write about this awful weather, I actually decided to go on a run in the pouring rain, which was much better than running in the humidity yesterday, so I fully enjoyed this “horrible” weather.

The Testament And Testifying

Since I blogged yesterday afternoon, I'm going to give a brief summary on how the rest of my evening went yesterday. I started to go to the gym immediately after blogging with Taylor to get membership passes for the duration of these three weeks, but it turns out we could only do that between 8 and 4 o'clock- so we went and did that this morning. Instead, we went on a short run around a small beautiful lake, did, some core, and met a new friend! The rest of the night consisted of just eating, practicing, doing homework, and hanging out with students from many diverse backgrounds in the lobby. It actually resembles what I have done so far tonight.

However, today did differentiate a little bit. It was the intramural day for soccer, and I got to play which was alot of fun and a good bonding experience with other peers. Because it started to THUNDERSTORM, it ended a bit early, but Taylor and I went to use our newly purchased gym passes to finish our workouts. After dinner there was a "diversity training" session, but was really not much more than some college students reviewing the rules with us; i.e. the dangers of the gorges and policies of dorm rooms. We all sat and thought about our goals for the next three weeks and how lucky we are to be in such a wonderfully different group of people who all are here to share a wonderful experience together.

Speaking of college experience, my class is truly a great learning environment. Today we had our first proper lecture that was based on the Old and New Testaments and the different kinds of love within them, as well as punishment in terms of justice and violence. This was appropriately the discussion of our study group. This topic is really interesting to me because I am not very religiously involved or well-versed in such texts, so it is really an enlightening experience.

Our guest speaker of the afternoon was Judge Judith Rossiter. You may call her Judge Judy! She had alot of experience and therefore insight into the New York court system, and discussed many legal terms and cases with us. One in particular had only occurred a week ago, and was about a rape case, but the defendant had additionally been charged with assault, kidnapping, and burglary. It was quite an interesting lecture, and I'm sure it will be a hard one to follow. On that note, sweet dreams everyone!