Friday, June 29, 2012

Cheez-its and Research

Going into class today, I had one thought: Get that CHESS business memo turned in. Before I could get to the computer lab to turn in my memo,  however, we had a guest speaker, Stefani Robson, who is an environment physiologist. She spoke about design and how our five senses lead us as customers to make purchases. The presentation was very interesting. We looked at how hotels such as ACE Hotels can be profitable by spending money on designing and an enhancing an existing building as opposed to building from scratch. ACE does implements sense of place into their designs. This means that ACE takes advantage of the location of it's property as the characteristics of the location are found in the design. For example, the ACE hotel in Brooklyn has a wallpaper that is covered in sights that one would see around Brooklyn.

In addition to learning about hotel design, we learned several neat facts such as for men, hearing is the first sense to go and often times, the first frequency of sound that men cannot recognize is the sound of a woman's voice. When Ms. Robson said this, Mark promptly said "What?". Another interesting fact we learned was that in a study on music in a wine shop, people are more likely to purchase wine when there is classical music in the background as opposed to the Top 40 songs. Moreover, when Italian opera was played, people purchased Italian wine, when German opera was played, people bought German wines, and when French opera was played, "people bought wines that they cannot pronounce the names of". Today's guest lecture was incredibly interesting.

After the lecture, Frank and I promptly went to the computer labs where we proofread each other's memo, and then submitted our memos at the same time. It was an incredible feeling to get to walk to lunch knowing I just turned in my first major assignment and I had put my new Word skills to use! It was also a great feeling to know that I took the time to pour over data from my CHESS hotel trial to find  our how I should spend my money to make the most profit.

When we returned from lunch, my group got right back into the swing of things and started to work on our PowerPoint presentation. Host Hotels and Resorts is and interesting company. It isn't a major hotel brand or company. It is an REIT that purchases land a properties which it then has managed by upper upperscale and luxury hotels such as Four Seasons and Ritz Carlton. Host used to be a part of Marriott Corporation and as a result the vast majority of Host's properties are under the Marriott brand name. Also, unlike other hotel brands that  other groups will present about, Host doesn't have any brands. It would be more correct to say that there are brands on Host's properties. Host doesn't operate any of its properties so it doesn't have any other brands like Comfort Stay by Host. 

I find this company to be extremely fun to learn about and I can't wait to work more with my group tomorrow so we can put everything together.

On the way back from class, Frank and I took a shortcut through the science building where we saw a lady standing looking pretty sad as she stared at the vending machine, When Frank and I looked at the vending machine, we saw that the lady's snack was stuck - right above where she could grab it. Frank and I tried to help by sticking paper, our folders, and hands through the flap on the bottom to grab it to no avail. Just when the lady gave up and walked away, Frank and I thought, if we buy something that is heavy enough that is above the stuck bag of chips, then would our snack falling down get the bag of chips unstuck? We tried and sure enough, our small bag of Cheez-its came down with the bag of chips. We then spent the next ten minutes or so walking around looking and asking if anyone had seen the lady we tried to help. After awhile we found her, gave her the bag of chips, and walked away feeling pretty good about ourselves. The $1.00 we spent on a small bag of Cheez-its was well worth it.

Help From Some Cheez-Its

Finally, the last day of school of the week was here. I was able to wake up an hour later because class started at 9 AM instead of the usual 8:30 AM.

In the beginning of class, we had a guest speaker again. Her name was Stephani, and she was graduated from the Cornell’s hotel college. It was a very interesting lecture, because we learned how to examine people’s behavior. Her job was to observe behavior in order to make hotel designs. She explained that design’s goal was to please customers, and the best way to know what they want is studying them. It was funny how she explained how a mob of police always questioning her when she took pictures of random people walking in public. It was a very valuable lecture, and from now on, I will always pay attention on how a stranger stands, and the way they act. This was basically the entire class.

After a quick lunch, I met up with my group in the computer room. We technically had office hours from 11:30 AM-3:30 PM, but if we finished our business memo, we really had to come there at 1:30 PM. My group and I tried to finish as much of our PowerPoint for our presentation as possible. We all were able to finish our research by the end of office ours.

This was the first time I ever exited my classroom before 4:00 PM, besides lunch. Eric Wang and I went to college town to by some body wash. The walk back to campus was too intense though. The sun was so strong that my back turned into a faucet. My shirt was extremely wet, and longed for air conditioning. We both decided to enter the science building to cool off. What are the odds that we would help a stranger there? Well, that’s what happened.

We were going to leave on the other side because it was close to Bailey Hall, but this lady was having trouble on the vending machine. Her chips were caught on the bottom, and there was no way to get it out. After she left to find help, we felt generous, and bought Cheez-its above the chips so they would both fall through. It was a very rewarding day, and considered ourselves good Samaritans.  
Eric with the Cheez-Its

Finishing off the day, everyone met up with Mr. Chan-Law to eat. We discussed about the plans for next week. This day passed much faster than the past week. I was finally able to relax. Tomorrow is going to be the first day without class. I’ve been waiting for Saturday for a while now.

First Week Has Come and Gone

The first week of class is over and it felt like the last day of school today because our class ended at 12:00 PM. However, our workload is no less than before. Our lecture was a continuation on Plato's Republic. Professor Kramnick mainly talked about the justifications that Plato gave in regards to the natural hierarchy in his ideal society which, funny enough, contradicts the title "Plato's Republic."

During our group discussion, we mainly just clarified the meaning of the text as a whole. Afterwards, we received our topic for our final paper: What was Plato's critique of the democracy in which he lived. Once class was dismissed, we (the F&J group) had the luxury of eating a relaxed meal; school was finished for the day.

Eric, Alex, and I decided to do our laundry, but we realized that the detergentwas in Eric Wang's room, who was, unfortunately, still in class. We decided to hang out with our newfound friend, Hannon, who is from Albany, CA. We ended up watching Coach Carter and The Shawshank Redemption.

We later ate dinner with Mr. Chan-Law who gave us some brochures from his campus visits to Rochester University and Syracuse University. It's great to get more information on schools outside of the Ivy Leagues since there may be other schools outside of them that interest students. After dinner, Eric Wilson, Alex, Matt, and I took a bus to the Ithaca Mall. It seemed that all of Summer College went to the mall to enjoy their weekend. We ended up spending most of our time putting on the green inside Dick's Sporting Goods. Now we are back in the lounge watching The Matrix and everyone is in awe at how I have never seen it. 

It was amazing how much time we had to do anything we wanted. I have never experienced so much freedom in my life.

TGIF (This Greek is Fascinating)

Today class started with day two of Plato.  We talked about the natural social hierarchy in an ideal community and how everybody’s purpose in the society is to benefit the people as a whole.  The lecture progressed to Plato’s examples he gives to support his idea, mostly through theoretical metaphors, including his famous Allegory of the Cave.  We specified what qualifications define a Philosopher King (such as Plato or Socrates) and what responsibilities they have to serve the public.

In the discussion section we further explored the characteristics of the Philosopher Kings, and whether or not their motives for serving the public are for the good of the people or for their own personal benefit.  We decided that the kings gain personal satisfaction by serving the people, but argued whether that fulfillment was selfish or not.  We also decided that selfishness was not always a bad thing either, providing as an example that the self-satisfaction by doing charity work may be considered selfish by your personal gain, but is still morally a good deed.  We later discussed Plato’s ideal society in a general sense, whether this hierarchal society could function in our life today, and if it has ties to modern Communism.  We ended the class and concluded the school week by receiving our assignment for our Plato essay, asking us to elaborate on Plato’s opinion of democracy. 

We spent the afternoon and evening hours indoors, meeting Mr Chan-Law for dinner after he returned from Syracuse University.  We took our first bus ride and exploring the Ithaca Mall at night.  Tomorrow we hope to catch the bus to Buttermilk Falls for a hike and potential swim, but we are currently on the waiting list so our fingers are crossed.  The rest of the weekend may be spent reviewing Plato’s The Republic and writing our first draft of the essay, which is due Monday. 

Reflecting on the week, I cannot believe how much I have learned and how I have changed during my time at Cornell.  Being away from home has demanded me to be responsible and to manage my time.  The class has allowed me to become a better critical thinker and a more comfortable speaker.  Next week we will begin the teachings of John Locke and will have our Preliminary Examination on Wednesday.  

Exploring Plato

Today was the first Friday and our only true Friday with a normal schedule, since we have next Friday off and our final the Friday after that. In class Professor Kramnick lectured on Plato again. Today's today was more complicated than yesterday's but also more interesting. Kramnick talked about Plato's view on a hierarchy within government and how he justified this hierarchy.

In our discussion section we talked more deeply about Plato's justification for a hierarchal society. We further analyzed why he thought such a society was necessary, and his views of the differences between leaders and commoners. We also got our prompt for the primary essay of the class.  "What about democracy does Plato not agree with?" Ulas helped us by giving us some pages and passages which could be helpful in writing out essay. Class got out at 12 and we were done until Monday.

Due to the intense heat I spent the early afternoon inside: blogging, working on my essay, and watching sports and "Coach Carter." About halfway through "The Shawshank Redemption" we left to meet Mr. Chan-Law for dinner. After dinner we went to the Ithaca Mall to explore. I saw a lot of things I want to buy for myself and as souvenirs for family and friends at various stores around the mall, and I look forward to going back later. The mall was a lot of fun and a great social venue. I do not have any plans for the weekend yet, except to work on the first draft of my Plato essay.

This first week at Cornell has been great. I have already learned so much. The college environment supports learning much more than high school. It has already been a fantastic academic and social experience and I look forward to the rest of the course. I am once again reminded of everything to ILC has given to me, and it is a huge inspirition. Knowing that we are a chosen few who represent all of West Contra Costa Unified School District makes performing well in class and acting respectably out of class more than a personal choice, but instead a matter of responsibility. I look forward to the rest of the program and continuing to represent my school district.

The End of a Long First Week

Finally, Friday. This week has felt more like a month, but at least it seems to be getting easier to manage, rather than more difficult. I've met more people than I can count in just five days. I often run into people and we will have a conversation without ever using each other's names because we can't remember them! This is especially true in the narrow stairwell of the dormitory - which I have started to call "Home" instead. After all, I will be here for two more weeks.

Class was shorter today (thank goodness) - it started at 9:00 AM and went to 11:30; after lunch, we came back and worked on our presentations until 3:30 PM. We had another guest speaker who discussed the importance of hotel design and the psychology behind it. It was very engaging, and I found the analysis of human behavior as well as the descriptions of experiments most interesting. At the end of class, I did not know what to do with so much free time. I decided on an early dinner, and got a text from Eric Wang telling me that Mr. Chan-Law was coming to eat dinner with us. He gave us information about the University of Rochester and Syracuse University. My uncle sometimes lectures at Rochester, so I know a little bit about it. I've never looked at Syracuse before, but they do have a Nutrition Science program.  After dinner I picked up the laundry detergent from Eric Wang so that I could throw in a load before taking a walk.

Once the sun started to set, it was much nicer outside; before, it seemed to be in the upper 80 degrees. Unfortunately, the bugs also came out, and I felt like a food source while walking around. I brought my iPod with me, and it was nice to have a break from worrying about class. The highlight of my walk was the deer, though. I was taking the longer loop back to Donlon Hall (past all of the sorority and fraternity houses) when I looked up and saw a family of deer - a mother and two fawns - grazing right outside one of the houses. I crept up slowly, but they seemed incredibly used to humans; in fact, they appeared to be the true inhabitants of the area. The college students, looking at the amazing site in awe and reverence, were mere guests. I took a picture with my iPod, but it did not come out as clear as I would have liked it. Still, a picture would not have justified how cool it was to see them.

By then I remembered that I had to get my laundry, so I walked back to Donlon Hall to retrieve it. After the necessary calls to my family (except for my sister Chelsea, who I called earlier because it was her birthday), I returned to my room, and have been relaxing in front of the fan. Thus, with all of my chores finished, I finally am getting my blog done before 11.