Tuesday, June 26, 2012

So Much To Learn

Standardization, standardization, standardization. Thats the one message that stuck with me from Mark's lecture this morning. That's not to say that the other aspects he hit on didn't stay with me, but standardization is something I will apply to my CHESS simulation. Originally, I was going to have different rates for different times of the week, but Mark and Reneta explained that we need to shoot for standardization because a person that comes in a Sunday can't have a higher or lower quality amenities on Monday just because I wanted, for example, to give my leisure customers higher quality amenities on the weekend when leisurely customers are more likely to arrive. What if a leisure customer stayed until Monday? Does that mean he or she gets lower quality amenities? That is why there needs to be standardization. The amount I spend on guest room supplies is totally dependent on the number of rooms I sell. That is, I can set my rate for the supplies leisure customers get for the whole week and I'll have consistent service yet only really pay on weekends when more leisure customers are likely to come and stay at my hotel. I found this really interesting.

In the afternoon, Mark led Group A for a workshop on Microsoft Word. I had no clue I could do so much with Word. Mark walked us through setting up a business memo template and showed us the ins and outs of Word such as setting up our own style and making custom tabs. He taught us so much and surprised us by saying "By the way, be ready for you quiz tomorrow". Time to play around with Word and try to get familiar.

After the information session, we were assigned what hotel company we would be doing research on for our group presentation. My group will be presenting on Host Hotel and Resorts, Inc. While we didn't get the requirements for our presentation, I cannot wait to jump in and begin researching with my group, but first, I need to practice using Microsoft Word because I refuse to let Word use me, I will use Word!

Hotelies Do Not Get "Me-Time"

Day two of class, and I'm already exhausted. It often feels like I have no personal time to just...take a breath. So far, my schedule has been unbending: I woke up at 7 today, rushed to beat other girls to a sink, changed, ran down to the cafeteria by 7:30, and I'm walking to class by 8. This morning started with another lecture, this time about standardization and efficiency. Then we went to the computer lab to learn how to properly use Microsoft Word 2010. Our homework assignment is to create a memo template that's original by playing with all of the different tools; we will also have a quiz tomorrow morning about both the lecture and the different functions of Word. During lunch, we were assigned (yes, we still have to work, even during breaks) to talk with our assigned groups, establish norms (rules to abide by to ensure respect and efficiency), and to type it all up in our memo template with our signatures on it. Colleen (one of our members) took notes on the rules we decided on, and agreed to type it up before office hours.
Class fills up fast. One guy even posed for the camera.
I walked back to class with another member, Alva, who wanted to know how being gay was treated in the U.S. Surprisingly, he is the second person to ask me that. He explained to me that in China, they have a country-wide equivalent to "Don't ask, and don't ever tell." He says his generation, though, has become more accepting of it, and are interested in the topic because no one is allowed to discuss it in school and most other places. It was an interesting insight to Chinese culture and life, but I wasn't really surprised. After all, this is the same country the used to bind girls' ankles because they thought the deformed walk was attractive. Thankfully, that practice has long been banned, and it seems that people my age are thinking more globally and progressively, rather than relying on the thousands of years riddled with heavy, strict tradition.

Our afternoon class was all lecture; Reneta went over the CHESS program, and gave us a few helpful tips for the more complicated concepts. Then she further built upon hotel structures. At 4 PM I briefly met with my group before heading back to my dorm to take a quick nap. At 6 I was once again rushing through my dinner (salad again), and arrived to class at 6:50. We worked some more on our memos - both the template and the group norms - and then worked on playing with Word. I also started to research our assigned hotel group: the Choice Hotels International, a franchise group that includes brands like Quality and Comfort Inn. We have to turn in a PowerPoint presentation by Friday, as well as a memo explaining what we plan to do in CHESS to try to run our hotel successfully (using our new templates, of course). Two projects with two more days to do it! This class cannot be taken lightly.  
We put trays here in the cafeteria; unfortunately, I spend little time here exploring.

Mr. Constitution

We had our first official, full class today. Again I got up at 7:15 on the dot. I hope this trend continues. Professor Kramnick did say that if we wake up late we could come in quietly and he would not ridicule us, but I do not plan on testing that. Fortunately it seems like we are beginning to fall in to a comfortable schedule already. Alex, Calvin, and I got to breakfast just as our Hotel Management friends were leaving. Then, after eating, we headed off to class at 8:30.

Our friend, Matt, playing the bagpipes
Our lecture today discussed The Old and New Testaments. I feel like this will probably be one of my favorite topics, because I love reading the Bible and the messages it contains. Even though I am not religious I still appreciate the lessons it teaches. In our discussion groups we delved further into the teachings of the Testaments and talked about our own interpretations. We then compared the Old and New Testaments. The last thing we did before lunch was a quick group activity in which we identified the kinds of justice (formal, retributive, distributive, or restorative) in various passages from our readings.

This time at lunch I had a better understand of how Trillium's dining system worked, and I used that to my advantage to get a spicy beef burrito, a small drink, and a muffin. Needless to say, I was excited.

After lunch we returned to the lecture hall for a guest lecture from a local lawyer. His name was Ray Schlather, or (as Professor Kramnick dubbed him) Mr. Constitution. This was made immediately evident when he handed out a pocket Constitution to everyone. He spent his time telling about how the Constitution and the law are living entities. They change throughout time and we "the people" breathe life into them. He told us a few stories of cases (three of which he was involved in) in which Constitutional rights, or the denial of them, were exemplified. It was a moving lecture. We could tell he was extremely passionate about the Constitution and creating a just society.

The Discussion Room
The rest of the day was calm. We did our assigned readings, hung out, and ate a particularly big dinner. I love the college experience so far. I really feel my horizons expanding in this environment of higher learning.

The Bible and Bagpipes

After performing our normal breakfast routine, we took a new a new route to class, which appeared to be a five minutes shorter, and was a lot more scenic, crossing the East Avenue bridge across the gorge.  Today we talked about the philosophy of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas, analyzing their conflicting thoughts and recognizing the religious influence in their theory. Last night the readings of St. Augustine were particularly lengthy and difficult, but this morning Professor Kramnick went into greater depth, dissecting the text until all of my previous questions were answered. 

In the discussion section today with Ulas we discussed the differences between the views of St. Augustine and St. Aquinas.  About 900 years separated the lives of these two philosophers, and we observed the cultural and social changes that occurred that separated the ideas these two theorists, Augustine more pessimistic and disciplinary, and Aquinas more rational and accepting to the societal evolution.  We noticed in particular that the role of Jesus Christ in Augustine’s time period has a larger role than in Aquinas, where God as the dominant leader, with representatives on Earth, influenced the people.  I have realized in class, as we are becoming more comfortable with each other in our discussion group, more people have been participating and the conversations have become more intricate.  

After lunch we returned to McGraw Hall to begin our second day of writer’s workshop, where we received our essays about freedom back with revisions.  We buddied up to exchange essays and ideas and tried to help each other enhance our writing.  We spent the rest of the class rewriting our essay. 

Tomorrow we will start learning about Plato, so after class we went to the Uris Library to review Plato Republic.  I feel like it helped that we had read the book prior to our trip, so we all feel well-prepared for tomorrow’s class.  Personally, I like the teachings of Plato the most because of the organization of the text and the logic he uses in his simulation of an ideal community explained in the given selections.  I cannot wait for Professor Kramnick as well as Ulas to further analyze the literature so as for me to gain a full understanding of the teachings of Plato. 

After gathering at Bailey Hall for a meeting with Mr. Chan-Law, we planned out a day trip a day trip to Cooperstown and then a college tour at Colgate University for next Friday, where the Freedom and Justice students do not have school (to make up for having class on July 4th, where we will have of Preliminary Exam.)  Later we walked down to the Cornell Store to choose our sweatshirts; Eric Wilson, Calvin, and Mr. Chan-Law all bought the same sweatshirt. 

We ate an early dinner with Frank and Eric as usual before they ran down to office hours. Matt broke out the bagpipes when we got back to the Mary Donlon before settling down to study, and later going to bed.   

My First College Lecture

Today was our "official first" day of class since we started our real lectures and discussions about our readings. The lecture by Professor Kramnick was focused on Justice in Christian Political Thought. He touched base on many sub-categories about God's Laws and the contradictions found in the New and Old Testament. After Professor Kramnick's lecture, we broke into our discussion groups and talked about how some forms of justice were justified and if there was a standardized definition of justice. The whole discussion required a lot of deep-thinking. After our discussion groups, we went to lunch and then reconvened at the lecture hall for our guest lecturer Ray Schlather, a local lawyer that has been in famous trials and will be speaking for a federal case. He taught us mainly of our rights in the 4th and 5th Amendment (rights against unjust search and seizure, and the right to remain silent). He told us three real cases that he worked on where his client was practicing their rights and throughout the lecture, told us to "breath life" unto the Constitution.

Once class ended Eric, Alex, and I went to the Donlon Hall lounge to starttonight's reading. Shortly afterwards, we went up to dinner with the rest of the Cornell cohort and Matt. The Hotelies had to leave early to go back for office hours while the four of us went back to the Donlon lounge. Matt ended up playing the bagpipes for a while, and we were amazed. He told us he played when we met him, but to actually see him was simply amazing!

Our friend Matt playing the bagpipes
Although we've only had one, I think I will extremely enjoy these guest lecturers. Class, as a whole, also seems to be getting more and more engaging. Well, now it's time to finish reading the works of Saint Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.

A Long Long Day

Today was the second day of class. After breakfast, I walked down to the Statler Building. I sat with my new group, which was assigned yesterday. To start the class, Mr. McCarthy discussed standardization. This is all about the management of hotels, including efficiency and consistency. A company has to be consistent in quality throughout their hotels, and efficiency describes the ability to use resources with the lowest cost possible. After, each group was told what hotel they were going to get for their group project. My group got Best Western. It is a private company, so it was harder to gather information on the company. I would have preferred to research a luxury company, but this huge hotel chain is good too. Later in the day, the professors separated the class into two sections again. My group and I went with section B and arrived into the computer lab.

In the computer lab, Mr. McCarthy taught everyone how to use many of the Microsoft Word gadgets. We only grazed the surface of all the functions of Word, but it still took over an hour. He told the class that it would take another decade or so to finally master Word. It was interesting though, learning new things. I learned about themes, and how to copy and paste folders onto desktops. He was able to make the class fun with jokes here and there. Finishing this part of the class, I went with my small group and ate lunch.

After lunch, I walked back to class. It was an estimated 2 hour lecture. The only way I was able to not be drowsy was by taking notes. Mrs. McCarthy described the CHESS simulation, giving us some tips on how to succeed. After the lecture, we joined the other section again, and  Mr. McCarthy came back and talked about how the hotel industry was broken down. It is divided into three groups: real estate, management, and owners.

This day passed super slowly. It felt like the last two days felt like a week. I guess I'm not used to these long classes. Tomorrow, I'm guessing that it will be better because I will have gotten used to it.