Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Pas Mal

Bagels can be quite peculiar things.  You can bake little bits of granola and raisins and flour and mush them all up into a round, hearty bread that lasts one for about eight or nine hours.

It is always a great way to start the day, walking briskly in the wind with friends to the local Collegetown Bagels.  A bit of light conversation and a nice film of jalepeno jam, and everything was good to go.  Today was also the first day that I had coffee, which I found to be a temporary miracle cure.

Today in class, we had a very lengthy discussion over yield management, otherwise known as trying to make incremental income as much as possible.  This lead to a strange tangent about restaurants and how different they are to yield manage in relation to hotels.  It had a lot of complicated terminology, but in general, it was a simple concept to understand.

On the flipside of that (if you understand this reference, you are fantastic), we went through Microsoft Excel. Strangely enough, it turned out to be the easiest lesson of the programs we have gone through so far.  It is extremely ironic, because I don't remember Excel as much as the others.  We went over all of the basics, as well as more complicated formulas and how to use PivotTables, an interesting feature that allows me to look up any data within the spreadsheet and create graphs that minimize the constraint of doing it normally.

The lesson went by extremely fast and I realized it was nearly impossible to take notes and do the exercise at the same time.  But that was not too surprising, after all, it is an entire semester course condensed within three weeks.  So I simply followed along and did the exercises as he was going through them -- I am more of a kinetic learner anyway.

After class, our group met up with Janna Bugliosi, the Assistant Director of Summer College at Cornell.  She asked us a variety of questions to get to know us -- it was rather nice really.  She discussed improvements to the system that we could suggest, about what our plans were for the rest of the summer, and what we will do with our skills once we return home.  She is a very nice person and I hope we can see her again before we leave.

For the past few hours, I explored a bit around Collegetown, which gave me a little more time to deliberate the situation.  Walking through Cascadilla Hall, the oldest building on campus, was quite exhilarating.  Cornell has a mysterious aura that is not present in these dorms, but rather, in the older buildings across campus, that almost gives one chills.  That was one of my suggestions for Janna: make sure each student has time to explore the campus on their own.

But back to the deliberation, I noticed how glad I was to be here right now and how much effort and funds were invested in us by the program.  I would go deeper into that thought, but with a report due on Friday, things will go by as fast as they can.  But this means that I have to make the most of the time I have left, which means getting back to work.

I don't think I want to leave here anytime soon.

Staying on My Feet

I need my REM sleep! The 8-10 hours of nightly sleep we’ve been recommended since day one at the crash course hasn’t been followed through. This morning, I could tell I wasn’t the only. I thankfully missed out on the fire drill nightmare this morning, having risen early with the sun and the rest of the hotelies; I was already safely on my way to the bus stop before the shrill cacophony overtook North Campus.

However, it was after arriving to class that I realized how tired I was. Sure enough, I spent all our ten minute lecture breaks in deep naptime, and I wasn’t the only one. There were people conked out in the lobby, slumped on the couches & chairs outside the lecture room, and lolling over their desks. The Cornell Hotel course had officially caught up with us.

But, the day went on, and there were Excel tricks to learn, spreadsheets to format, and lengthy hours to work endlessly over the report template. What a day! We hotelies have barely any time to recover from one blow of a day before we’re hit with the next one. The deal is to stay on our feet and keep on moving forward. I still don’t want to believe that once these next few days are up, we only have a single week left here. Well, it’s time to put away those feelings and just catch some sleep.

No Sweat!

Today was the day of our Freedom and Justice Preliminary Exam. As I said last night, we all knew how the test would be structured, and so we all attempted, as best we could, to study accordingly. However, a crucial part of a proper "pre-test ritual" is to get yourself a good night's sleep. I went to bed at 12:00PM last night, which is much earlier than the norm here at summer college, and had my alarm set for 7:30AM (class doesn't start until 9:00AM, but I thought I would try to get a good meal in beforehand).

Now, my plan may have worked perfectly, had I not slept through my alarm. At 7:56AM, my roommate yelled at me from across the room, telling me that it was going to be awfully difficult to make an 8:00AM breakfast at my pace. I shot up out of bed and rushed into the shower, which brought me to phase two of operation "Sabotage Joe's Morning". Just as I had undressed (sorry if that seems graphic), the fire alarm went off. The administration had decided to place the fire-drill on the morning of my pre-lim. While I was naked. Great.

This little event took off about another ten to fifteen minutes of my preparation time, and so I was left to rush back to my room, grab a shower, and get ready as quickly as humanly possible.

My "good meal" quickly transformed into a cereal bar that my roommate was nice enough to give me, and we made it to the lecture hall with about ten minutes to spare (just enough time to look over my notes). I studied hard, got the main ideas of each philosopher in my head, and then simply followed Professor Kramnick's instructions as he handed out the test.

I could explain a bit about my thought process during the test, but I don't think you're really interested in that. The real point is that I think I did EXTREMELY WELL! The essay question I chose was perfect for me, and I was solid on four out of the five short answer questions, although I'm sure that I at least got partial credit for the fifth. I hate to sound over-confident before I get the results of a quiz, but I really felt good about this. I am really, really, hoping that I can represent the WCCUSD with an "A" on the Freedom and Justice Mid-Term.

The rest of the day was pretty mild after that. We had a lecture, and then a writing workshop, but after that everything was just kind of bland. We Freedom and Justice'ers had planned to celebrate our mid-terms by either ordering pizza and watching a movie, or going out to college-town for a nice dinner. However, the kid who owns the movies has a project for his class tomorrow, and we didn't want to watch his movies while he was up in his room studying. It also began storming outside, without any warning really, so that took college-town out of the equation as well.

We ended up watching a different movie than the one we had planned on and just ate dinner in the cafeteria as usual. Over-all though, I would say that it was a great day because a good pre-lim trumps any bad thing that could possibly happen to me! I am happy with my test and now all I have to do is finish the second half of the course....

No sweat!

Another Great Day

I woke up before my alarm again. It was set for 6:00 am and just like yesterday, I woke up half an hour early. I have been waking up before my alarm every morning for a while now. I'm probably just too excited for the day to start. :) This morning, I got ready, checked my email and went downstairs to wait for Jobel, and our friends Dylan and Harley. I got to the Mary Donlon lounge early, so I read about discounting methods in the hotel industry until they arrived. Then we walked to CollegeTown Bagels for breakfast.

We are all so smiley at CollegeTown Bagels!

My breakfast: hummus sandwich and coconut aloe juice.

On the way there, we were greeted with some funny chalk messages that were written on the sidewalk:

"We put the 'hot' in hotel."

"Hotelie Swag District"

"Hotelies someday you will sleep with us. <3"
(Referring to our late sleeping patterns due to a rigorous workload.)

"Smile you'r[e] in hotelie country Population.. AWESOME"

While walking to CollegeTown Bagels, we crossed a bridge over this beautiful sight.

On an academic note, I have finished my third template! Third template down!

I have now created three personalized templates on Microsoft Word- one for business memos, one for business letters, and one for long reports. The one we made today, the long report template, was by far the most difficult because of the different page number formatting for odd and even pages and because of the Table of Contents, but it was also the most fun to finish. Just like my Starwood group presentation, this report template made me feel accomplished after it was finished.

Incidentally, Jobel, Kelly, Kevin and I met up with Cornell Summer College Associate Director Janna Bugliosi today after class. We chatted about what we had been learning in class, what we did in the free time we managed to snatch, and what we thought about Cornell dining hall food. Basically, she checked in with us about our overall experience here and asked for suggestions for the Summer College organizers. She asked us questions like "Were all of the online applications straight-forward?" and "If you could redo this entire process, and you knew how rigorous this class would be, would you still have chosen it?" All of us agreed that the applications were straightforward enough. Likewise, the answer to the second question was also a unanimous "yes."

Janna also asked us about our plans after Summer College and about our plans to spread the word about Summer College back in WCCUSD. She also told us that if we ever needed anything, we could just show up at her office to talk. Even though we already have Ms. Neal and Mark and Reneta to talk to, I found it was still very nice and reassuring to know that yet another adult figure on campus was there for us just in case we wanted to talk. It made me feel very warm and before we left, we all promised to go see Janna at least once more before graduation from Summer College.

Another great day today. I am willing to be that I will wake up early tomorrow again.

Excelling at Yield Management

The humpday for the program has approached and it only feels like the class has just begun! It seems as if only yesterday was when we poured our blood & tears into our group presentations since the class obviously leaves no room to recover!

The primary focus for Reneta's lesson is an explanation on hotel discounts and yield management. While we were taught yesterday that the main characteristics of yield management include perishable inventory, fluctuating demand, segmenting customers, and high fixed costs & low variable costs, we further got into the nitty & gritty of the system. In fact, our class closed with a video from 1968 about the mechanic of yield management. Although the video was over 40-years-old, it still laid the ground-rules of the system.

Over in Mark's world, we dug into Microsoft Excel. While it is common practice to just input numbers and data into a spreadsheet, he taught us how to properly input the correct data and how to manipulate it in a way that is less time-consuming and more convenient. He touched on a lot from PivotTables to proper charting of data. Charts and graphs cease to amaze me and I have always wanted to compose one based on data from my own personal life. After discovering how easy it is to use the program, it might actually be something to consider when I'm bored!

We also met Janna Bugliosi, the associate director of the Summer College program. It was absolutely delightful to speak to someone who was obviously so interested in what we had to say and what our views were on the program and our place within it. It was if she was the kind next-door neighbor who discovered we just got back from the east coast!

Today didn't seem particularly difficult or consuming. While Mark and Reneta alluded to the fact that this course would be significantly easier than what led up to the group presentations, I'm a little skeptical as our first report is due in less than two days! But as long as I continue the pace I have set myself for throughout the rest of my time in Ithaca, it shouldn't be much of a problem!

What Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong

But do not fret- my pre-lim went wonderfully! It's just that this morning was one large nightmare, that happened to be from the moment I woke up. Trying to sleep in as long as possible to get as much rest as I could before the test, I was still in bed as the fire alarm went off. Hurtling to my feet in a dazed craze, I rushed outside with the rest of the girls on my floor to a patch of grass outside the dorm. Other victims of this ill-timed drill had it worse than being half asleep however. One boy had just started his shower and was left with nothing to run outside in other than a towel around his waist.

The problem here was that I had a very limited time to get to class- a very important day of class may I add, to get dressed and have breakfast, and we all had to wait on the lawn until the drill was over! Naturally, I was stressing about getting to class on time, but I did in fact make it and was more than prepared for the mid-term.

Out of the choices for essay questions, I decided to write mine on why the ruled are obliged to obey their rulers, and under what circumstances according to Plato, Aquinas, and Locke. Next, I had to identify quotes by all of the philosophers we have read so far, and explain their significance. I do not want to jinx my luck, but I am fairly confident with my performance. Well, I'll find out next week!

Now I am watching Inglourious Basterds with a group of friends in the movie room to wind down before I go to bed. I've had a long day, topped off with an hour at the gym and practicing violin for a bit, as well as completing my reading for the evening on women's rights.

Women Are Subordinate…I Don’t Think So

The big news of today is I survived my first college midterm. I guess survive really isn’t the word because I will be really upset with myself if I don’t get an A, but I at least made I through the test. It was not as hard as I thought it would be, although I shouldn’t say that since I don’t know what I got yet. I do, however, feel that I was prepared for the exam. The studying I did on my own, with our group, and my notes really got me through the test. I was worried that focusing on the larger picture would hurt me, but I found that in fact it helped me more than knowing the text. Anyway the test is over, I am still alive, and I got enough sleep…college here I come.

After our test we talked about my least favorite topic in the entire world—Women subordination. I absolutely cannot understand why people think women are inferior to men. I went to an all girl middle school so I got an extra dose of women empowerment and maybe that is why women subordination makes me so angry; I’m not sure I can really put my finger on what it is that ticks me off about it besides I can’t even fathom why men would think they are better. I was unaware until today that Aristotle believed, because he was also a scientist, that men’s sperm contained the baby and that women where just the vessel for procreation. Honestly how wrong can you be? I am mean my goodness. I understand that he did not have all the technology that we had, but are you kidding me? I know that out of the 4 EC kids I am pretty sure I am the only one who really can’t stand people who think women are inferior to men. I really really really can’t stand men who think women are just suppose to make them a sandwich.

And that was pretty much my day. Until tomorrow, Over and Out blog readers.

A Scramble to the Midpoint

Today I woke up feeling more refreshed than I have during this entire trip. When I looked at my phone to see what time it was, I quickly realized why I felt so good. Normally, I wake up at about 7, since my roommate is a hotellie and his class starts at 8:30, despite the fact that I only head down to breakfast with some other F&J students at 8. Today I briefly remember having woke up to the sound of our phone alarms going off, but they turned off so quickly I didn’t even think twice about waking up. When I did wake back up refreshed as ever, I saw that it was already 7:47. I shouted at my roommate to wake up, since it was he who really had to worry the most, and then I sprinted down the hall to the showers, intent on making it down to breakfast by 8. For reasons I can’t explain, I found myself back in the room, showered and fully dressed, by 7:52. I probably shouldn’t be putting this in writing since whenever my parents seem to want me ready for something, I take a long hot shower, forget why I was showering, take even more time in the shower (I have fallen asleep standing before, which still confuses me) and then only remember after my mom is able to loudly remind me, but I was actually able to get fully ready in 5 minutes on the dot. As I was celebrating by taking my time organizing my things for class, the loudest fire alarm I have ever heard went off. Still being in a bit of a daze, I walked nonchalantly out through the screaming alarm, and went outside to find a couple hundred of my peers looking absolutely exhausted. (A friend told me this was just a drill, since she saw a fireman come in and pull the alarm, apparently trying to see just how many people would be caught mid-shower, in which case he couldn’t have timed the drill any better.)

Anyway after that exciting start to the day, it was time for the mid-term, which I felt pretty good about. I know I got 4 and a half out of 5 short answer questions right, but those only count for a third of the test so I’ll know for sure how I did Friday. After the test we had a light lecture on Women in Western Thought and the horrible stereotypes they had to overcome, which prepared us for tomorrow’s lecture on J.S. Mill and Wollstonecraft, which I’ll talk about then.