Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Gambling with Whales

Today started off with the interesting lecture on housekeeping with Reneda. She showed us a clip of a reality show called "Undercover Boss," which was about the Choice Company CEO trying out employee jobs: housekeeping and maintenance officer. It was very interesting to get an inside look at some of the most important jobs in hotel operations. We continued our lecture with hotel hygiene after an hour on working with Mark on excel. We discussed about how housekeepers sometimes reuse dirty towels, resulting in the spread of contagious bacteria.  Reneda the showed us a news report on an investigation toward hotel sanitation a while back. It was a little too descriptive, informing us of the semen/urine stains on bed covers and bacteria like E-coli on surfaces most used by the guest.

After a lunch break, there was a class lecture on casinos, which was a very fascinating topic. It amazed me how Las Vegas, one of the first names that come in mind when talking about gambling, was not the top gambling city. It is actually third in the world to Macau and Singapore. I was also thoroughly impressed with how much money tourists spend on casinos. There are even names for the higher spending gamblers. People spending between $50,000 and $250,000 are called high rollers and people who spend even more are called Whales. For these people, the casinos would pay for everything, including a V.I.P room and expensive concerts so they would feel comfortable to gamble their huge amounts of money. Of the many casinos, the largest casino company was MGM, with over 50 casinos in 6 continents. This was by far the most interesting subject so far.

After class, Eric and I went to a mandatory meeting with the associate director of the summer program, Janna at 4:15 PM. There, we met Alex and Eric Wilson (Calvin had the meeting at 5:30. There were three other girls there from other programs. In the meeting, we all agreed to write a "thank you" letter to our donors to show our appreciation. We then conversed with Janna, telling her anything interesting that happened here. After about half an hour of chatting, I had 2 hours to relax before going to he lab.

Meeting up with my group there, we discussed how we were going to plan our report. We decided to split sections up and combine them at the end. Though we did our own sections, we still helped each other out. Hopefully, we would finish everything by Thursday evening, so I won't have to be sleep deprived come Friday.

It was a very productive day today. My group is nearly done with our final CHESS report. All that is needed is a quick touch up and adding everything together.

Housekeeping and Casinos

In class today, Reneta showed us a new special about the cleanliness on hotel rooms. Albeit, the clip wasn't recent, but the reporter discovered that hotel rooms - from economy brands to luxury brands - are pretty much disgusting. After searching the room under a backlight, the reporter found several stains from urine and semen all over "clean" sheets, walls, and even in baby cribs that some hotels provide. In addition to the backlight test, the reporter took samples of the bacteria living on areas where hands are most likely to touch and concluded that in general, hotels aren't using disinfectants to clean their rooms and that he reason why bacteria, that should remain in the bathroom, can be found in the other parts of the room because the same towel used to wipe down the bathroom is being used to wipe down other areas in a hotel room.

Personally, I believe that this is the case because companies are trying to reduce expenses. On average, a housekeeper will have to clean 16 rooms in one day which means that a room should be cleaned in about 30 minutes. During that half an hour, the housekeeper has to change sheets, make the bed, change the towels, amenities, wipe down the bathroom, as well as numerous other tasks.

If hotels hired more housekeepers so that current housekeepers could clean fewer rooms and dedicate more time to properly cleaning rooms, I believe that rooms would be a much cleaner place to be.

I'm the afternoon, Reneta led a lecture on casinos. I found I interesting that psychology plays such a huge role in the design and layout of the casinos. For example, the casino floor isn't designed so that anyone can see all the exits because the casino doesn't want people to feel that they've seen everything there is to see. On the flip-side, casinos don't try to trap customers on he floor because if a person feels trapped then he/she is more likely to leave early to escape feeling trapped. In order to maximize the amount of time people spend on the casino floor, the walking areas of a casino are shaped in a curve do that people can't see everything at once and don't feel trapped. This instills a sense of adventure in the patron and leads him/her to spend more time on the floor. In order to make people gamble more, the casino makes use of bright lights because it is suspected that humans are like moths in that we're all attracted to light. Another method casinos get people to gamble is through sounds. If people hear sounds of coins dropping, they feel that they have a fighting chance to win something.

If I knew psychology was so important, I'd probably have taken psychology more seriously.

On a side note, I didn't reach the goal of $10,000 daily profit. In my final run of CHESS, my hotel, Hotel 8A, earned $9,850 daily in profit, which puts my weekly profit average at $68,950.

Let the Countdown Begin

My group is awesome; somehow we have managed to write all of our sections tonight, and tomorrow we are putting them all together in one grand report that can be edited by the teacher, fixed, and turned in without pulling an all-nighter for our last night. I actually just finished writing my part - the expense strategy settings (current and future). It took me awhile because I somehow managed to delete all of my Excel files and had to recreate my tables (the gods of homework and computers are not my friends tonight). Now that I am finished, I feel tired but a lot less stressed. This report will be thorough and satisfactory (I hope).

Although my night is ending on a good note, my day did not start out so well. I overslept my alarm (again!) and rushed through breakfast; I ended up only five minutes early to class, and felt bad because my group had agreed to try to get there ten minutes prior to start time. Everyone was tired though, so I was forgiven. The lectures were hard to stay awake through in the morning, but they were interesting. Reneta discussed housekeeping, showed us a partial episode of Undercover Boss (involving the Choice Hotels CEO), and revealed a Primetime segment on the cleanliness of hotel rooms. Let's just say that firstly, people - especially males -  need to find more appropriate places to release bodily fluids (please avoid the walls and the baby cribs), and secondly, I am never jumping face-first on a hotel bed again (no matter how fluffy it looks). I spent lunch talking with my mom instead of eating - not because of the video, but because I had a stomach ache. By the end of lunch, though, I felt much better.

During all of our afternoon segment, Reneta gave a lecture on the casino business, and particularly focused on the City Project in Las Vegas. This is an amazing feat of architecture, with the ultimate goal of building a city within a city and changing the face of Las Vegas. The plan is to finish it by next year; included is two towers that lean further than the Leaning Tower of Pisa, a 4,000-room mega resort, a shopping center filled with only the most luxurious and expensive stores, and condominiums that are selling between $1.5 million and $9 million. The buildings are very modern and transparent, with glass covering all sides. One building is rumored to have a "death ray" - when the sun has hit a certain point on the glass of the Vdara tower, people standing in the unfortunate concentration spot have complained of singed hair and melted bags. I would have thought, with all the brilliant engineers working on this project, one of them would have thought of this scenario.

After class, I and about ten others had to meet with Janna Bugliosi (one of the summer college program directors) at 4:15. All scholarship recipients are asked to write thank-you notes to their donors sometime shortly after they return home. We all had to sign an agreement to do this, and Janna talked with us for awhile about our experiences so far in the program. I walked back to RPCC and decided to have an early dinner, then take a nap. I discovered white rice in the Mongolian barbecue area! It's always nice to add something to my salad besides the usual salad fixings. I took a nap before leaving for class, and once again overslept. By running to class, at least I am getting good exercise, right?

Office hours were straightforward. We divided the report amongst ourselves, and my group members and I worked on it the entire time, occasionally asking each other for help with syntax or Excel equations. The work is not hard, but it can be time-consuming; as pretty as Cornell is, I am a little relieved that this class is almost over. The countdown to returning home has begun.

Our Precious Plato Papers

Today we continued our class lecture on Marx. We explored Marx's view on the effect of society due to its economic foundation. Throughout most of the lecture, I couldn't help but to wonder how I would get communism to actually work. There are always so many debates concerning the practicality of communism. Unfortunately, I found no success. During our discussion session, we mainly went over things that were still a little grey in order to prepare for our final on Friday. We also connected the ideas of the older and newer writers. After class, I went straight to my dorm to work on my paper. I spent a good hour revising it and adding more content. Afterwards, I went to my TA's office hours where he went over my revised but still in-progress essay. He gave me some good pointers and reminded me that there is really no wrong answer, as long as I back up my argument.

After office hours, apparently, the others in the Cornell cohort went to meet with Ms. Bugliosi (the new director of the Summer College) in regards to the scholarships given. Unfortunately, I never received the email concerning this meeting so I decided to email Ms. Bugliosi to send me the information that I missed. Hopefully I will get to meet her too. I did, however, receive the email for the Cornell Admission seminar. During this seminar/workshop, we went over how to fill out the Common Application and other important aspects the Cornell Admissions Office is looking for. I found this workshop to be very helpful. 

After the workshop and dinner, Alex, Eric Wilson, Hannon, and I went to Donlon and up to the 6th floor lounge to work on our essays some more. Once again, we decided to read each others' essays to give some feedback. After two weeks of nitpicking at our own papers trying to get them perfect, after putting in hours of time trying to find those perfect words to use, after getting frustrated at not knowing what to write next, our hard work will pay off. These papers have become one with us. Never have I spent so much time writing just one, single paper.

Overall, this was one of the more productive days I have had. For some reason, doing work seems pretty fun. I don't know if it's the college atmosphere or what, but for the first time (I think in my life), I thoroughly enjoyed working on an essay. Cornell seems to have a spell cast on me.

Plato Papers to Perfection!

Today we learned more about Karl Marx, especially his ideas of the economic foundation of the industrial era and the conflicts between the proletariat (laborers) and the bourgeoisie (machine owners) classes.  Marx states through his determined development that the bourgeoisie class is meant to be overthrown one day and a communist society is to take over.  This all ties back to Marx’s idea of economic equality for all.

I had my assigned lunch with Professor Kramnick this afternoon (I was in the last group as he organizes it alphabetically by last name).  We spent the lunchtime introducing ourselves: our hobbies, life back at home, and plans we have for the future.  It was fun hearing stories of where everybody lives and what they all like to do, I wish we would have enough time for multiple sessions. 

The late afternoon was spent in Uris Library before meeting Ulas for extra help on my essay.  He clarified my introductory paragraph, which was especially useful and really mapped out my thoughts to compose a better-organized essay.  Later Eric Wilson and I met the Hotelies at Day Hall, where we met Janna, a director of Summer College. She wanted to chat about our experience at Cornell: what we have enjoyed doing, any activities we have been involved in, and what we think could be better, etc. She was very positive and encouraging, and again I would have liked to meet her earlier so we could have discussed how we have changed since arriving at Cornell, similar to the lunch with Professor Kramnick. 

Our Plato essays are due tomorrow and I am trying to revise it to perfection! We have all been putting so much time and effort into our essays and I really hope the hard work pays off!

The Peak of Productivity

Today was an extremely productive day, and I can definitely go to sleep stress free tonight. Professor Kramnick's lecture completed our section on Marx. The basic idea was that Marx thinks history is predetermined to follow a certain path which leads from feudalism, to capitalism, and ultimately results in communism. I thought it was interesting that he spends so much effort prescribing a communistic state of society, but never actually specifically describes what this community would be like. In our discussion section we talked more about the governmental evolution which ends in communism, and defined the differences between capitalism and communism more clearly.

Alex and I finally got the chance to eat lunch with our professor, along with four other students who's last names were late in the alphabet. It was an interesting experience to get to connect with Kramnick on a more personal level and learn more about my other classmates. I wish we had more time to do these lunches, as all we had time to do was introduce ourselves, but I understand that the three week program is very restricting. We had our final writing workshop after lunch, in which Ulas further defined Marx's theory, then went over what he expected for our final tests. It was a very helpful lesson.

After classes I met briefly with Ulas, then attended a meeting with the Summer College Director for students who earned a scholarship. After a little work on my essay, Alex, Hannon, Calvin, and I attended a college admission workshop in which two Cornell Admissions Officers went over the general application and gave advice on how to make ours stand out. I spent the rest of the night, aside from dinner and a quick meeting with Mr. Chan-Law, finishing up revisions on my essay and I am very pleased with the final result, although still very nervous about how it will be received and graded. Tomorrow is the last day before the final, and I already know it will be filled with studying and review.