Sunday, July 3, 2011

Let's Dance The Night Away

A belated birthday picture of myself with the wonderful cake.

Another wonderful relaxing weekend day! The only accomplishments I can speak of would have to be making some wonderfully cute purchases at the local Urban Outfitters in the Commons, but that just might be subjective. Other than that, my day consisted of relaxing indoors trying to escape the hot Ithaca weather and attending the Blacklight dance! That event was fun actually for the most part, I have to give props to the Summer College coordinators for organizing such an event to allow all of the kids attending to bond even further.

A picture of the beautiful sunsets we get to see every night.

I love the clouds here on the East Coast! The humidity however is one thing that leaves me homesick for California. Missing friends and family is a big challenge as well. A phone call once in a while does not make up for in the slightest seeing them in person or getting to spend more than a few minutes talking with them. Guess it's just one more experience to get under my belt while I'm here.
Tomorrow, off to Buttermilk State Park to do some swimming and cooling off hopefully for the fourth of July!

A Not-So Easy Sunday Morning

Today has been a challenge of group collaboration and management as several groups within the class, along with mine, are crunching in their time to perfect their PowerPoint presentations for Independence Day.

My group specifically received Best Western as the company we were assigned to research and present. While much of our work was wrapped up on Friday, there were several aspects that needed to be fixed, finished, and cleaned up. From the animations within the slides to the transitions and pictures, we were on a wild goose chase hunting down the perfect execution for tomorrow’s assignment.

My group working at our corner station within the computer lab.

The main reason to actually come to Statler Hall today was to do a run-through in a classroom and get critique by whoever was monitoring it. Everyone signed up for a scheduled time to receive their private audience and help on Friday, and we chose the 6 PM slot. While waiting for our number to come up, we embarrassingly learned that we mixed our group name (7B) with another one (6B). Because company assignments were designated to which number a group was, we were a little concerned that this Day 1 mishap ruined our project. Amusingly enough, the group that believed they were 6B got mixed up as well, and so Mark McCarthy simply assumed that we just swapped names. While this may have ended up as a horrible pitfall, it was a complete sigh of relief to discover that this was just a scramble of identification.

While the TAs in the class do a tremendous job in helping the students, our group was so fortunate to have Mark observe and criticize our dry-run presentation. There is nothing better than getting advice from the person who will eventually be grading this assignment, and while there were many flaws within the presentation, we took his aid to heart and tweaked the final product to seamlessly look sleek and professional.

At the end of the day, we all decided to take a little break by participating in the Highlighter Dance. At the party, everyone is given a complimentary t-shirt and the rule is that you may write on your shirt or someone else’s. Because dance is my absolute passion, it was incredibly satisfying to be able to dance the night away as if nothing was wrong in the world!

But then, the day came to a close as my group got together again within the dorm’s lobby so that we can make final preparations and practice for tomorrow’s upcoming “gauntlet.” While many of us were tired and in desperate need of a shower, we pulled it together and finished what we came to do. Regardless of the grade we will get, I will be content with knowing that we worked hard on this. Like they say, “It’s the journey that matters, not the destination.”

Our group practicing diligently on the floor late at night.

Sunday Funday

Today was my academic weekend day that wasn’t as academic as I had planned. I woke up late, again, and grabbed some breakfast with the gang (the new friends I have made). After breakfast my friend for middle school Carrie, my new friends from the “valley” in Texas (where my Abuelita lived), Vivi and I went shopping at Urban Outfitters. I have never purchased anything from Urban before so today was a day of firsts.

After shopping we call came home to work on our respective homework assignments, however I was not as motivated as I should have been and found myself easily distracted by my rather messy bed. First things first I needed a clean workspace to write my essay on, so naturally I cleaned my bed. Then it was crunch time. I worked out a pretty solid outline based off my own notes from the readings and off my lecture notes from Professor Kramnick. The essay question asks what is Plato’s critique on Athenian democracy. In my head the question could be answered with a mere he believed in hierarchy, but I know that is not what the TAs or Professor Kramnick are getting at. They want me to delve deeper into Plato’s philosophies. I know they are looking for me to take this question and explain what Plato’s theories mean to me; explain what I am getting out of them. So I think the outline I made today will help me get to that deeper level.

However, as I mentioned I was not as productive as I would like to have been. After outlining and rereading some of Plato I called my wonderful family who sent to be Cornell so that they could go to Hawaii without me. They are going to try and play it off by saying that they didn’t play this trip as a “too bad you are stuck in Ithaca where there no beaches to tan on” but they really did. Not that I think Ithaca is any worse than Hawaii and I am truly thankful I am here not there getting skin cancer. To prove I am extremely happy here I must touch on why today was such a fun day.

THERE WAS A DANCE!!!!!!! I love dances. I don’t even know if there is anything more do say than that I just love dances period. I love the getting ready before hand and I love the dancing parts. The sweaty cold feeling after dances is kind of gross and not my favorite part but you always come home with fun stories and a hoarse voice from singing along. I don’t want to dive into the dance since most dances are a “you had to be there” kind of thing and I am pretty sure most of you who are reading this would not have liked the dance since I am pretty sure most of you aren’t my age. For those of you who are my age the dance here at Cornell is a ton of fun and I strongly suggest you go.

It is bedtime for Taylor Michelle Doty. Until tomorrow, Over and Out blog readers.

Back To Work Already?

Today, I was able to split time between work and play relatively, although I am a bit peeved that I already did have to get back to work (I know I shouldn’t be complaining compared to the Hotellies, but I am starting to regret every minute I can’t spend relaxing (and there seem to be more and more of these lost minutes every day). I had another late breakfast after sleeping in (I’m still in a bit of shock from Cooperstown) and then played a nice few rounds of kangaroo (a basketball game our new friends from Long Island taught us). After around an hour of basketball in New York’s sweltering humidity, we decided it was time for a refreshing drink from Collegetown. We went to CTB (Collegetown Bagels) and had some sub-par smoothies, although in this heat anything cold was refreshing.

After the smoothies, we took a quick little tour of Collegetown, and then wandered around on campus for about a half hour or so. After a quick dinner (people were in a bit of a rush to get to the highlighter dance) my work, unfortunately, began. Although the only dance (at least to my knowledge) at this Summer College program was earlier tonight, I decided to go with my intellect over want (which would make me a perfect fit for a philosopher-king according to Plato) and worked on my upcoming Freedom & Justice essay (coincidentally, on Plato). I spent the next two hours going back and forth between wishing I was at the dance and actually writing, but I was actually able to great deal done, and have successfully mapped out my essay, on Plato’s main critiques on democracy, and have even finished a page and a half of the suggested two and a half page essay. Anyway, I’m pretty exhausted again, so it looks like I’ll have to split time between work (finishing the last page) and play (going to Buttermilk Falls to finally swim off the heat!) tomorrow, and I’ll talk to you then.

It's Almost Here!

I have a headache and my throat hurts. I am sick and have been taking DayQuil and drinking aloe and eating oranges. I also had some cough drops today. It's a bit unfortunate since tomorrow is my big group presentation on Starwood (it's 25% of our grade.) But just because I won't be feeling my best doesn't mean I won't be doing my best.

We gave a practice presentation to one of our teacher assistants, Chelsea. She seemed to be very impressed by our presentation and assured us that she wasn't just saying "it was great!" to everyone. She was helpful since her feedback was encouraging, but also because she gave us concrete suggestions on how to improve both our Power Point and our actual presentation.

She said we should include a Roadmap slide to explain upfront what topics we would be dealing with. She also told us that we did a good job coordinating what we were saying with what the Power Point said. I heard that students who practice-presented for another one of our TAs, Gorka, had a really hard time. I'm secretly wishing we got to present to him too, in addition to Chelsea, just to get two different feedback styles. Hopefully, everything turns out fine tomorrow.

Is it the Weekend, or Just a Fantasy?

Today I woke to a banging on my door. The banging that heralded Terilyn Chen ruined my plans to sleep until noon, but ushered in an interesting day. She persuaded/dragged me into accompanying her to the National Women's Rights Museum in Seneca Falls. Ms. Neal was kind enough to drive us.

Teri got her chance to see the displays featuring figures such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott as well as other exhibits that really made me question the nature of not only gender discrimination, but prejudice and society in general.

On a random tangent, corsets are disgusting. One of the displays showed how over time, they deform your ribcage, push your abdominal organs down into the lower regions of your thoracic cavity, basically crowding and harming your reproductive organs.

On the ride back, I alternatingly enjoyed the rolling green landscape unfolding around us and napped. By the time we returned to Statler Hall for class, I was ready to work.

There is so much our presentation could improve upon. It's like, whenever we finish one of our group sessions and disperse, I get this sort of separation anxiety. I start worrying over the most ridiculous insecurities and torment myself that our project may not be up to par. This morning I was afraid about our slides, organization, and basically everything, but an afternoon of hard work has calmed those nerves.

I know our content, PowerPoint, animations, and transitions are great, but after seeing so many other groups staying after and conducting multiple practice runs in front of the professors, I am quite distressed about the quality of our actual oral presentation.

I mustn't let on though. I know it's my job and most beneficial to the group to stay calm and help other nervous group members. I'm off to rehearse in the dorm lounge now. I hope we stay strong for the 9 hours left until showtime.

Long and Late

Group presentations have never been my forte, and public speaking, while very enjoyable, has not really been a strong point for me as well.  But of course, one would expect the preparation portion of any presentation to be the easy part.

Talk about being dead wrong.

This specific presentation has strangely been a pain for reasons I do not really comprehend.  Two hours of work has turned into three, four and even five extra hours than what we had planned for.  Who knew that giving an overview about a hotel company was this time-consuming?

Overall, our practice presentation today was moderately successful.  There were the weak points - lack of time being prime among them, transitions being second.  We also happened to have issues with speaking and aligning our slides correctly, but they all seem like little mistakes.

Our TA, Patrick, gave us criticism that was to the point, but did it in a polite way.  He seemed very supportive, and gave us the biggest point that would boost our morale -- we had a lot of content, and then some more.

No project is complete though without the usual squabbles of group work.  I like my group, and we usually get along together really well.  Through, when stressed out and together working for too long, things tend to be a bit heated.  But as Reneta said, conflict is not necessarily a bad thing -- it gives us opportunities to talk it out and become closer.

That is not always the end result however, but there is always time.  Either way, our presentation is tomorrow and things are going to become quite interesting.

On a side note, all of these long, last-minute stretches of work should not be foreign to me.  At least, I have a lot of experience in it.  Yet, things do not seem all that clear-cut and plain black and white.  I guess that only makes things more peculiar.

My Beautiful New Home

I have to apologize for the lack of pictures on my blogs lately. Aside from last night's Cooperstown blog, I have really been slacking on the visuals. To make up for it though, I thought that I would go out today and snap a few shots of my beautiful new home. Please enjoy one of the most beautiful campuses in the world: Cornell University.

A view from the bridge I cross to get to class every day.

View from my 6th floor dorm room.

So that's what I get to deal with every day. Everyone told me how amazing the campus was before I got here, but nobody could ever have described it to me in enough detail. This place is absolutely one of the most beautiful places on the planet, and I honestly just feel blessed to be here. Ithaca is one of the most amazing places that I have ever been, and to think that it is home to one of the most prestigious colleges in the world is just unbelievable.

My class here so far has been phenomenal. The lectures are all extremely interesting, which I have to say was much to my surprise, and our discussion groups help us see the varying sides of different arguements. The speakers that come in show us how what we are learning relates to the real world, and our writing sessions help us to form our own opinions about all of the topics that we learn about.

My stay in Ithaca so far has been...I'm trying to think of another word for amazing/phenomenal that I haven't used yet. I suppose there just aren't enough words to describe this place.

I am in the process of writing my second philosophy paper, this one is in regard to Plato's thoughts on democracy, and I have to be done with my first draft by Tuesday. I'll have to put my nose to the grindstone if I want to finish in time, so I am going to have to sign out for the night. Good night readers! Talk to you tomorrow!