Monday, July 2, 2012

Fireworks with Friends

Summary of Freedom and Justice Week 1,
we are very happy with our work.
July 2nd, the start of our second week at Cornell, and quite an eventful day. I did not too far behind on sleep this past weekend so getting up in the morning was easy. It was back to the same routine. Breakfast, lecture, discussion, lunch, writing workshop, and then the school part of the day is over. Our class today revolved around John Locke and his theories of State of Nature, Natural Laws, and Natural Rights of life, liberty, and property. Luckily I studied Locke (and Hobbes) in both my 9th and 10th grade history classes, so I was more than prepared for this lesson. I find Locke's ideas and the era he lived in to be very interesting and I am  very happy to get the chance to study it again. The writing workshop after lunch covered the fundamentals of building a string arguement or thesis and how to outline an essay in anticipation of us revising our Plato essays.

After class Calvin, Alex, and I heads off to a group discussion room in the library to study. We used a white board and made a chart summarizing everything we have learned so far. It was actually very helpful, and we have plans to do something similar tomorrow with Morgan and Sam.

The "Harry Potter" Library
We then spent the rest of our time before dinner relaxing and watching tv. After dinner we played pool, unfortunately I got crushed. Hopefully I will do better in our rematch later in the week. After playing pool, Calvin, Alex, and I went to watch the Ithaca Firework Show, which for some unexplained reason is on July 2 not the 4th, with our new friends Morgan and Sam, and our even newer friend, Alyssa. We got a great spot to sit, with what we thought would be a great view. Unfortunately, we misjudged where the fireworks would be and a tree was right in the middle of our view. The show was still very entertaining, and was big enough and close enough that the tree barely blocked anything. We had to rush home right after the finale to 
make it back in time for check in.

After check in I finally skyped with my parents and sister, and got to see them for the first time since that cold, early morning two weeks ago. I am glad I finally got the chance and it made me realize how much I miss them and everyone else back home. I am going to make more if an effort to stay in touch in these next two weeks.

Apparently Calvin is an accomplished
pool player
Tomorrow will be a long day. With an extra lecture to make up for the Friday we have off, immediately followed by studying for the midterm. Every test and paper counts and is the difference between an A and a B or even C, as we only have three graded assignments. It is a little stressful knowing how much it counts for, but I know that it I study and maintain healthy habits an A is well within my reach, but it needs to be earned. I have every intention of earning that A and I will do everything in my power to get it. For me, the WCCUSD, and the ILC.

We are Number 1 Because...

Today we turned in and presented our first big project: PowerPoints on different hotel companies. I may have said this in an earlier post, but just as a reminder, my group had Choice Hotels International, Inc. which includes brands like Quality and Comfort Inn. They are most known for their midscale brands, and are a pure franchising company.... This is how everyone's presentations went today; we got through all twenty in six hours.

Yesterday I was up until about 3 AM redoing my research on stocks and finances (my part of the slide show), as well as helping out my other group members. Unsurprisingly, I overslept my alarm clock a bit, but I was still able to make it to class early. Everyone was dressed very professionally, and I felt like I was at another ILC event. All of the presentations were good, but I was surprised at how many people brought a script up with them to read from while occaisionally looking up. They may not have made as many mistakes, but sometimes it felt too structured. I did not go up with any script, as a couple other kids also chose to either memorize a script or just to go by the basics. Although I forgot to add some of the exact percentages, my presentation went over really well, and I was able to cover them later when a finance question was asked. While most groups covering finances pointed out incomes, I decided to show the profit margin (a company's efficiency) and quarterly revenue growth year-over-year (a company's improvement of sales each year) of Choice Hotels compared to its competitors. I don't know if that's what Mark wanted, but it is an accurate representation of how a company is doing, and investors heavily rely on those two statistics to make their decisions.

Before we went back to the classroom after lunch, we all took a group photo in our business attire. The first one was just a normal, smiling picture; for the second one, Mark told us to "show our right-click fingers." Basically, hold up the finger you use to right-click with a computer mouse, and you will know what I mean. As a reward for working hard and doing well with this project, Mark and Reneta cancelled office hours as well. I used my extra time to take a nap; grab a later, unrushed dinner; and finish my homework. I also got to see the fireworks by sitting on a hill behind the Arts and Sciences buildings. Ithaca puts on its July 4th fireworks early, though I don't know why. It was really nice to just sit there without having to stress about homework; unfortunately, tomorrow is probably another story, with hotel business as usual.


Today was the big day. Presentation Day. I was surprised because I didn't feel nervous as group after group present and the time for me to present came closer and closer. I took notes on all the other presentations about not only content but how that group presented so I could make mental notes about what to do and what not to do.

After ten presentations, we had lunch which I ate quickly so I could make it back to Statler Hotel where I practiced by myself for a good half hour. I went over and over and over what I was going to say and when I was done practicing, I got to know some students from China as we waited for the rest of our class to show up for a class picture.

When class resumed, the next 10 groups, including my group, presented. It was cool to see Mr. Chan-Law who came to class just to watch us present. Right before my group had to go up, the other group presenting about Host Hotels and Resorts had information that was conflicting with mine, but when we calmed down and reviewed our notes, we were confident that we had the right information. That gave us a little bit of a confidence boost that we carried into the presentation. When it was my turn to talk, I felt like I was beginning to lose the class because they had already sat through 15 presentation that repeat information, but Mark's thumbs up and nods gave me more confidence as I moved along.

At the end of class, Mark and Reneta announced that office hours would be canceled today because we had worked extremely hard on Sunday and just assigned us homework and told us to study for our quiz tomorrow.

Also, today we watched Ithaca's Fourth of July fireworks that was put on tonight. ( I have no clue why.) Matt, Frank, and I walked to the clock tower to see the fireworks. We sat with the rest of the Hotelies and snacked on food that our T.A.s provided. The firework show was pretty good for a town like Ithaca and it gave Matt, Frank, and I some time to relax and talk before we made our way back to our dorms to attack our homework.

Exhausting Presentations

Presentations have finally arrived. Every one had to dress up, and it was very uncomfortable walking in dress shoes. I must be honest though, I was concerned about nervousness because our group didn't even put together our finished PowerPoint before breakfast. Luckily, our group was really organized, so I was confident that we would finish before class started, which we eventually did.

Presentations started at 8:45 AM, and they were all very informative. There was a total of 10 groups that went up before lunch, which meant 5 hotels, as every 2 groups do 1 hotel. After a quick lunch and a group picture, I was about to go up to present. Mr. Chan-Law came to see Eric, Rachael, and me, since we all presenting close to each other. My group went up to the spotlight in around 2:15 PM. It was not as intimidating as I first thought. As I stood up behind the podium, Mr. McCarthy was always giving me encouraging nods, which helped. After all the groups presented, we received great news. Our office hours for today was cancelled.

After class, Eric and I met up with Alex, Calvin, Matt, and Eric Wilson in the TV lounge and because there was no rush to get to office hours, watched part of the Brides Maid. It took way too long so Matt, Eric, and I went to dinner while the other three continued to watch. After dinner, everyone was waiting for the fireworks. For some reason, the fireworks weren't going to be on July 4th, but instead, be 2 days early.

The place was packed. There was at least 300 people lying on the grass. I met up with the hotel  management TAs, who provided snacks to us. The fireworks were not bad, but not the best I've ever seen. It was pretty cool because everyone was just gathered in one area. The fireworks were not as high as I was used to seeing with fireworks, but because the location was great, as Cornell University is on a slope and a person could see the surroundings, it was worth going to. 

This day was one of the most eventful days in Cornell, with the presentations and fireworks.

Happy 2nd of July!

Our first weekend has come and gone, and now it's back to work. Our lecture today covered the beliefs and ideology of John Locke in the mid 17th century. The main theme throughout both the lecture and discussion session was about Locke's natural rights to "Life, Liberty, and Property" and the consequences of infringing on these rights. After a week of lectures, I noticed that it gets more interesting as Professor Kramnick goes on in the lecture. Maybe it's the coffee kicking in, but I definitely get more and more engaged as the lecture progresses, so by the end, I really don't want it to end. 

After class, Eric, Alex, and I found this neat little group study room in the Uris Library where we reviewed all of our reading for our midterm on Wednesday. We actually quite quite a lot of work done in that time span that we decided we should go there after class everyday to trade notes and go over what our TAs said (I have a different TA from Eric and Alex). After our review session, we explored the so-called "Harry Potter Library" which was jaw-dropping, but unfortunately, I did not have any picture-taking devices at that time. We then went to the Technology Center so that Alex could get wifi on his iPod Touch. We then headed back to Donlon Hall and watched the movies Armoured and Bridesmaid. Funny story, in the middle of Bridesmaid, I went to the bathroom and discovered that I had a bloody nose (probably from the heat, so drink a lot of water!).

Our review board in our secret hideout
After a quick dinner, we all went to play pool for a while before watching the fireworks. I guess I forgot to mention that Cornell actually has it's 4th of July fireworks on the 2nd. Eric Wilson, Alex, and I went with our friends Samantha (better known as Sam), Morgan, and Alyssa. We eventually picked a spot on the hill and waited for about 45 minutes for the fireworks to begin, only to be disappointed that our view was blocked off by a tree. However, the majority of the fireworks were big enough that the tree didn't pose a huge problem. The finale was absolutely amazing with bright flashes everywhere and the boom of the rockets resonating throughout the city.

View from before the fireworks began
Overall this day was extremely productive with the discovery of our review room. The fireworks were amazing and my pool-playing is actually really good! I now have to put that all behind me since I need to study for my midterm on Wednesday!

Into the Night

A Nice Letter from Asher and Riley, our R.A.'s
We got up particularly early this morning because we had to go to the computer lab to print our Plato essays before class. The job was easier and faster than we anticipated, and arrived to class about 25 minutes early. Today we were introduced to John Locke, an English philosopher in the 18th century. He focuses especially on the principles of the individual's rights and justifies his theories through what he calls the "State of Nature." Even though I spent the weekend reading about the philosophy of John Locke it took me a while to understand the concepts that Professor Kramnick and Ulas were explaining. We compared the ideas of John Locke to the other people we have studied: St. Augustine, St. Aquinas, Jesus Christ, and Plato. This will be particularly important as the preliminary exam approaches. We received a copy if an example of the format of the preliminary exam to preview the test, which consisted of a choice of an essay between three broad questions, and five short answer questions that are to be chosen from eight.

After class Eric and I, who are in the same discussion group, met up with Calvin and headed toward Uris Library to study and outline what we have learned so far. We reserved a private group study room and reviewed the teachings of each philosopher and religious text. I found that studying in the lounge where the different conversations and activities are always taking place is sometimes distracting; working in the library with only Freedom and Justice students proves to be a lot more beneficial.  Before leaving Uris, we went upstairs to check out the  "Harry Potter Library," where certain parts of Harry Potter had been filmed.

Looking over the southern side of the campus before fireworks
The evening was spent in Donlon Hall, playing pool and watching television before dinner, but once the sun went down the real fun started. Cornell seems to have a tradition of having a fireworks display not only on the Fourth of July, but for all the days in the week leading up to the holiday and then lasting through until the ninth. We joined friends Morgan, Sam, and Alyssa for the fireworks, finding a perfect spot on the hill behind the McGraw clock tower.  We saw the fireworks light up the sky above the lake; unfortunately it was too dark to capture any pictures.  The evening ended up being a nice break away from our studies.

Tomorrow we will conclude the teachings of Locke and hopefully have enough time to study in the afternoon, since our preliminary exam is on Wednesday. Wish us luck!