Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Just One More Day of Stress

Well, I finally finished my essay on Plato’s critiques of democracy, and I feel very confident in my writing. Although the essay took up a lot more time than I would have liked, and will probably lead to a much shorter blog than I have been posting to date, I believe I wrote the best paper I possibly could. Today we were lectured more on Marx, and it was interesting to hear his reasons for why the Proletariats should have power over the bourgeoisie through the state, at least until they can abolish the state altogether.

We also had our last writing seminar, which brought about a bit of nostalgia for me at least. I have grown to appreciate all the little quirks that each of my classmates have, and am starting to realize just how much I will miss getting to spend time with people from an entirely different culture. I’m really grateful for this academic as well as cultural experience the ILC has given me.

Anyway, tomorrow will be our last real day of class, covering MLK and Malcolm X, and I’ll need all the sleep I can get to fully prepare for Friday’s final, so I’m off to bed.

Midweek Mayhem

The day never slows down for a Hotelie.

We rose early this morning, breakfasted, and came to class treated to Hotel Horrors, clips revealing the deeply disturbing and unhygienic conditions throughout the service continuum. Basically, whether you’re at a budget motel or luxury suite, realize that there were people before you, and inevitably against a backlight, there will be normally invisible gunk as well as harmful bacteria revealed all over the bed, sheets, pillows, remote, phone, and even the walls.

To add to our disgust, we found out that it was common practice for housekeepers to “clean” dirty hotel room glasses with a single rinse in the bathroom sink, then dried by a dirty towel, which spreads bacteria even more.

Then, the tables were turned as we viewed these desecrations from the hotel’s point of view. When word gets out about these things, companies have to have a systematic way of communicating with employees, fixing the problem, and regaining reputation and customer trust. Thus began our lesson on crisis management.

Students took turns role-playing from the perspectives of various levels of managers, assistants, and housekeepers. The dialogue was entertaining and it was interesting seeing how to deal with these situations differently. Apparently there are separate leadership approaches to use when dealing with different kinds of people, from delegating, directing, coaching, to supporting. I can say that if I had known about this methodology useful when working in groups, high school projects would have been so much easier.

In the afternoon, we visited the topic of casinos. I’m a frequenter of Vegas, but had no idea about Atlantic City, NJ or Macau, which has surpassed Sin City as the gaming capital of the world. It was exciting hearing familiar big names such as MGM & Mirage, the Harrah’s/Caesars conglomerate (including Bellagio, Paris, Bally’s, Rio, Flamingo, Planet Hollywood, and more), and most of all, the Wynn & Wynn Encore all of which I’ve stayed in or visited. The latter is a brand new luxury property, in which I last stayed over Christmas Break and remains my favorite hotel to date.

On the other hand, I had never heard much about the Native American casinos outside of Cache Creek and Thunder Valley commercials. Harrah’s Caesars recently opened the hugely successful Harrah’s Cherokee, which was one of the focuses from today’s presentation.

Casinos are a fascinating and variable segment of the hotel industry. While some are focused on being a hotel with a casino, others are “casino hotels” and even give away free luxury rooms to turn in the big profits from high-stakes gambling, big-spending loyalty customers.

Before I go to bed, I thought I’d share one of my side adventures. During lunch break today, I adopted some tadpoles. The fattest one’s named Jimmy. They will be returning to the pond tomorrow.

What Happens at Hotel School, Stays in Hotel School

When I was younger, whenever I would visit a place like Reno or Las Vegas, I would take an hour or two drawing on the hotel's notepad, creating designs for complicated hotel casino resorts that would adorn the skyline of some random city, on top of the ruins of an imploded monument of money.

Reminders of that came today as the class focused on casinos and gaming.  We discussed the difference between hotel casinos and casino hotels, as well as the gaming focus of casinos and how important it is that the hotel supports the casino.

We also had a quick run-through of the casino mogul Steve Wynn, and the importance of his role in turning Lsa Vegas from a smaller casino town to the "entertainment capital of the world."  He seems like a very nice person who happened to take the right chances in life, but then again, that is how all businessmen work.  Well, when it comes to the gaming industry anyway.

The most peculiar and interesting thing I noticed, there are extremely small details that go into working casinos successfully.  Things such as dim lighting, low ceilings, and even the way cards are dealt give gamblers a reason to be more comfortable, thus spending more money.  It is amazing how this kind of psychology works on gamblers.

On the flipside (again, if you understand this, you are great), we worked a little more on our project.  We managed to get new data and a working system, which is good.  I just hope that tomorrow, we can finish before the end of the day.  I do not want to worry about working on it before the premier tomorrow.

My side story today involved a nice little tour of the Statler Hotel.  Our TA Patrick took us around to see a few of the rooms, as well as the back office and conference rooms.  It was a fun little tour, and we finally got to see where the Hotel students could apply what they learned.

Anyways, it's pretty late, so I think I will turn in.  Tomorrow is a long day, and there is a lot of work to do.  I have a feeling it will be a good one.

The Essay...

The final drafts of our Plato essays are due tomorrow morning...meaning my whole day today was devoted to the essay.

I went to class, learned about Marx in lecture, talked about Marx in discussion, (to show that I learned something: Marx believed that capitalism would inevitably fall to communism due to the fact that the proletariat made up the majority of a capitalist society and would therefore have the power and will, as the weakest links of the community, to rebel) and then I was off to the library to start my revisions.
I went to a different library than usual, however. This place is called Uris Library. Admittedly, it's a bit difficult to get a picture of the place that does it justice, but I swear it is one of the most beautiful buildings on campus.

From the couch that I decided to lounge at while studying, this was my view...

It started to rain about two minutes later, so the sky doesn't look very nice, but you can see Cayuga Lake in the background and the trees and mountains just made it a peaceful area to work.

Also, if i was to turn around and actually look into the library, this is what I would see...

Probably the most books I've ever seen in my life. And maybe about 6 other people in the room. This may be the most peaceful/quiet place I've ever been in. I felt like I was disturbing the ambiance just with the sound of my backpack zipper.

I finished my introduction and went to see my TA, just to make sure that the points that I had given were direct and answered the question correctly. He approved it and again attempted to map out my paper. I've been working on it all day since, and I am really hoping to finish by tomorrow. I'm making A LOT of changes this time...

I'll tell you how it goes tomorrow though. Wish me luck! Good night!

Only Two More Days of Class, Everyone.

Just like at the beginning of this trip, everything happening around me right now is feeling a bit surreal. I am still waking up in the morning, grabbing breakfast with friends while simultaneously studying reading assignments, frantically taking notes in class, walking to lunch, planning future trips to visit the friends I have made here and working on group projects and papers. This is what I have been doing since Day One at Cornell.

But everything is different when you know you only have two more days left.

Class was different today because we spent three hours in a classroom we had never been in before. We switched to a larger room to accommodate some visitors who sat in on Reneta's lecture about the casino and gaming industry.

It was our first lesson about casinos, so it was very broad. We first learned about the major players in the industry like Wynn and MGM Resorts International. It was very much like our first day in class, when we learned about the major players in the hotel industry. This similarity, as you can probably imagine, made me really sad. (Again with the nostalgia...)

Anyways, just like I never expected myself to find interest in business, I never expected myself to find interest in the casino business. It still doesn't particularly appeal to me, but interesting it most certainly is.

I honestly never expected to fear leaving Cornell this much, but you have no idea how scared I am right now because I love it here. I love it.

The Last Couple Marx

I think the title is clever since today was our last day on Karl Marx. Anyway there are three days until I am on a plane headed back to the best coast. So I will write 3 thinks I will truly miss about Summer College:

1. The friends I have made

2. Professor Kramnick

3. Being independent

The last one isn’t to suggest I don’t like being with my parents, but I just fond that it was really nice to be in charge of myself and completely responsible for my own actions.

Today was a good day. As my title suggests today was out last lecture on Mr. Marx and tomorrow we are going to tackle race with a discussion on MLK and Malcolm X.

Yesterday I was on the same page as Marx, but today I think he lost me. I agree that capitalism during Marx’s time was pretty awful I don’t think that communism or socialism would really work. Marx suggests that the proletariat class will revolt against and defeat the capitalist class, and that to implement a system of socialism there would have to be a temporary dictatorship and that is where he lost my support completely. I do not believe that there can be such a thing as temporary dictatorship. What is to stop that person, or people, who have all the power from keeping it? Why would they every give up that ultimate power source? I just don’t think that Marx thought it out to the best of his ability, although in his defense professor Kramnick did mention that Marx was quite sure what would happen after the proletariat class took power.

After class today Joe and I went to Uris Library to study and fix up our essays before our meeting with Janna. This is Uris and the view from where we sat, and yes right after we got in to the library and took this photo it began to rain.

It was truly a great place to study. It was super quiet and comfy.

At 3:15 P.M we had a meeting with the lovely Janna. The weather had cleared up by this time and the sun had come out to play again so we had our meeting outside. We talked about our experience with the program so far, all the activities we have done so far and how much we all love Professor Kramnick. It was a short meeting but still very nice.

Now I am rereading the MLK and Malcolm X sections to make sure I am on top of their thoughts. I am also working on the third draft of my second draft because my TA really liked my second draft of my second draft and only had a couple of suggestions. Wish me luck since this is 25% of my grade.

Until tomorrow, Over and Out blog readers.

The Final Countdown

Meeting with Ms. Bugliosi- she chose the pose

Today was a jam-packed day. It seems like there is all this intensity and anticipation building up these last few days, and it will culminate with an explosion after the final that will send us all the way back home. One of the first questions Ms. Bugliosi asked us as we began our lovely talk this afternoon was about just that- were we looking forward to this plane ride or dreading it? My answer was one of bittersweetness. For as much as I am homesick and miss certain things such as my family (or bed), there are so many friends and memories here at Cornell that I am truly sorry to be leaving behind. However, I know I will always carry them in my heart.

Me in Eurice Library

With Harry Potter's final premier in just a day or so now, I could not put off any longer going to see the infamous library on Cornell Campus that closely remsembles Dumbledore's office and really has a whole "Hogwarts" vibe going on.

I went to the library after our last discussion group's writing session where I touched up my last draft of the Plato essay that is due tomorrow. Plato was a nice break from Marx, whose views we finished getting lectured on today, and can be quite severe in his ideals sometimes.

Sorry about the brevity of this post, but Internet Explorer crashed and apparently did not save my draft... Til tomorrow readers, here we come last lecture; Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcom X!

Bright Light City Gonna Set My Soul On Fire

The day opened up with a lecture on housekeeping and how it works and operates within a hotel. From what we picked up, it will in fact be one of the largest departments in a single hotel. The main goal for housekeepers are to clean rooms not to "decontaminate" everything completely, but instead to give the impression that the next guest will feel like they are the only person to have ever checked into the room. We also saw a few "housekeeping horrors" videos that showed popular videos of bad hotel publicity. In one instance, housekeepers would not change the glasses found in hotel rooms and would simply rinse them in the bathroom sink. In fact, they would use the same gloves and clothes to clean the glasses as they did to clean the rest of the bathroom! While it should be a good measure to think in a hotel that you should be careful of what you are using, the main argument critics point out is that everyone is entitled to a "clean room."

During lunch and in the afternoon, tours of the Statler Hotel were being offered, and I took the opportunity up. We looked at a few hotel rooms and the contemporary design of each of them are amazing! With a scheme of gray and red, there is a simplistic yet systematic feel with the room. And I will admit that it was definitely nice to see a room like that after being in a dorm for three weeks! We were also able to see a lot of the "behind-the-scene" stuff going on in the hotel including service elevators, banquet kitchens, and linen laundry.

The next lecture of the day was held downstairs and was also being offered to Microeconomics students in the school. Titled "Introduction to Casinos," I absolutely fell in love with it from the start. I have always been a huge fan of Las Vegas. While I may not exactly be old enough to gamble, I absolutely adore the extravagance and the intricacy that are the casino resorts. It was absolutely fun to see a few documentary videos on the subject as I can eat up any second of Las Vegas I could find. But the lecture wasn't completely surrounded by the desert town as we touched upon bases regarding the fact that Atlantic City is the second-highest gaming market in America and that Macau has exceeded Las Vegas as being the largest gaming market. But as Reneta stressed, you can't help but think about casinos when you think of Vegas.

It's like what they say.
"What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas."