On the Hill

September 24, 2006

Delayed Update on the Week

Filed under: Fall @ 2:08 pm and

So I have been working on this paper for awhile now for my AEM 200 class. The paper is based on a mock proposal from the board of directors of a charitable organization People4People to me, the organization’s president. It is based on whether the organization should undergo a campaign to free 1 million bonded laborers in South Asia at the cost of 90 million dollars. The opposing view is that the funds could be better used to institute change at the root of the cause rather than pump more money into this black market. It was a pretty interesting topic and I thought I wrote a solid paper but I didn’t receive the grade I was looking for… So Wednesday morning I went in to speak with the professor about how I could improve my paper since I had to give an oral presentation on it Friday morning during section.

After meeting with the professor I went over to the Statler (where the hotel school is) at met up with a girl for lunch at the Terrace. She was quite interesting – she had emailed me and asked if I would sit down with her and talk about Marine Corps Officer Candidates School. Her boyfriend was a Marine killed in Fallujah and she now felt the calling to become an officer of Marines. It was pretty moving to hear some of her story and I wished her luck regardless of what she decided to do. The rest of the day on Wednesday was pretty normal – finance section, derivatives class, and then later in the night I did some work for my management strategy class. We have a group of 4 guys and part of the class is that we participate in what is called a competitive strategy game. Our group is a firm and we have to make decisions about fictional markets to enter, levels of capacity to build, and prices to charge in each market while competing against other firms.

I had my typical full day of classes on Thursday and then sat down early in the evening to revise my AEM 200 paper and make a PowerPoint presentation for Friday. The revision went pretty well and I designed a nice slideshow. Since I finished early on Thursday I had a chance to go out with my friends for a little bit in Collegetown. We didn’t really do anything crazy, especially since I had to wake up the next morning at 5:30 am for PT. I met up with my girlfriend Ange after she got off work at Miyake and then went to sleep.

Friday was a pretty long day. PT was difficult in the morning – we ran about 4 miles and it was freezing outside that early in the morning. I went back to sleep after PT and woke up later in the day to do some more work practicing for my presentation. The presentation went OK I suppose, although it was probably one of my worst public speaking displays. For some reason I just was having a hard time with the flow of my speech and getting across what I was trying to say. Hopefully I did well; I think that in comparison to some of the other presentations I saw mine was good. After the presentation I sat down with 7 other TAs and we graded the finance exam. It took nearly 2 hours! Plus, my two person team had probably the hardest question so it was quite difficult piecing together some of the totally wrong answers some of the students submitted. Friday night I hung out with the guys from Cook St. and we went out and about in Collegetown later that night.

Saturday was a pretty lazy day. I watched a few college football games and mostly just lounged around the house. That evening I went over to Psi U for a little bit to say hi to the guys and then got on a bus next door with the fraternity that a lot of the guys I live with are in. The bus took us back down to the lake for another cruise on the MV Manhattan (I am becoming a regular down there). However, this cruise didn’t go over as well as the one with Ange’s sorority. They experienced some technical difficulties half way out to the middle of the lake and all of the lights went off. This led to some of the guys getting quite irate and pulling some shenanigans which were not appreciated by the staff of the MV Manhattan. Suffice it to say, the MV Manhattan was prematurely turned around and the cruise was put to an end. I went back over to Psi U for a little while and then met up with Ange when she got off work.

I’m just watching a little football today and will probably start some schoolwork later. I have a problem set due for derivatives tomorrow that I haven’t started but I don’t think it should take me too long.

September 22, 2006

Finance Prelim

Filed under: Fall @ 8:26 pm and

Sorry it has been so long since I have posted anything. It has been quite a busy week. Tuesday was the finance prelim which ended up taking me from 5 pm until 12. The first thing we did at five was take the prelim which we do for a number of reasons – to assess the difficulty level, look for typographical errors, and I think to make sure we know the material ourselves… My finance skills were a bit rusty but I think I did alright on the multiple choice section (the portion I took) although we did converse a bit between each other while taking the test. After we took the test, we set up the testing rooms and got ready for the exam to start at 7:30. The exam went two and half hours (keep in mind there are 4 of these throughout the semester) and we had to wait around a bit longer for the students with extended time. At around eleven everyone was finally finished so we alphabetized the tests and entered everyone’s data into the computer. I finally got home at around 12:15 and was exhausted which was unfortunate since all of my friends had thrown a bar tab the same night.

I will post a bit more about my week tomorrow…

September 17, 2006

POW/MIA Day, Cayuga Cruise, What’s a Prelim?

Filed under: Fall @ 4:06 pm and

On Thursday I was walking back through Collegetown with the full intention of doing homework all night. However, as I walked past Collegetown Bagels (CTB) I heard the increasingly frequent shouts of “Crovelllaaaaa” from a table on the patio. I had no choice but to sit down and hang out with the guys from Psi U. Much later in the afternoon I finally found my way home after grabbing a slice of pizza from Collegetown Pizzeria (CTP). The guys from my house went out later but I was pretty tired and knew that I needed to wake up early on Friday to get the work done that I had put off that evening.

Again, I planned on getting my work done (a group project for my marketing class on marketing for the Cornell women’s lacrosse team) but I received an email from the Gunnery Sergeant at the NROTC Unit instructing me to see him ASAP. It turns out after the FLEX we didn’t inventory all of the equipment properly so I spent the morning inventory all of the sleeping bags, canteens, packs, etc. I then had to run for thirty minutes carrying the POW/MIA flag for the POW/MIA Remembrance Day. So… I didn’t get my project done until later that day, just in time for my group meeting.

(This is a picture of my marketing group – we are supposed to be confused about what the lacrosse stick is while the girl in our group, who is on the lacrosse team, looks on)

Friday night I went out to the lake for the annual POW/MIA watchfire which is a nice celebration where all of the veterans and ROTC students come out to the lake and we all throw a piece of wood on a much larger stack of wood, then dump a ton of gasoline on it and light it on fire. The new Army ROTC commander who is an LtCol fresh back from Iraq spoke a bit about the current situation with prisoners of war and those missing in action. Apparently there are already a few military members who have been officially captured and are still missing to this day due to Middle Eastern conflicts. I had always assumed other than publicized things like the Jessica Lynch retrieval it was more of a thing of the past (Vietnam era, etc.).

After the ceremony I came back home, changed out of my uniform and went to Rulloffs’ Bar and Grill to meet Angela and a bunch of other girls from her sorority along with their respective dates. Luckily, two of the other guys her friends were bringing were also Psi U brothers. After dinner we took a bus back down to the lake and got onto the “MV Manhattan” to take a cruise around Lake Cayuga. It was pretty fun and it was only seniors in her sorority along with their dates so most of the guys were also seniors I knew from various things. After the cruise we came back to Collegetown and I met up with a few of the guys I live with at one of the local bars – Dinos.

Yesterday I pretty much just relaxed and took it easy. I took Angela over to the mall to see “The Last Kiss” with Zach Braff (the guy from Garden State and Scrubs). It was actually a really good movie, not a great date movie since the plot revolves around infidelity, but a good movie. I didn’t really feel up to going out or doing much Saturday night so I went to bed early and did some reading while Angela went to work at Miyake (one of the local Japanese restaurants).

Today I am just going to hang out and do some work until the Patriots game starts. I have to hold extra office hours tonight at eight for the finance prelim next week. Oh, I guess you all don’t know what a prelim is… It is a test that is sort of like a mini midterm or final that is given throughout the semester. A lot of people stress out about them since they all seem to come at once and typically account for a good portion of your final grade. In reality, they aren’t much to worry about and honestly no different than a normal test (they just have a fancy name and sometimes run two hours).

September 12, 2006

Psi Luau

Filed under: Fall @ 7:18 pm and

Alright, so I have gotten some complaints about the lengthiness of the majority of my posts. Well, it has just been my friends complaining and I suppose they are my only readers anyway… As a result here is a quick post about our Psi Luau party this past Saturday.

As you can imagine I was pretty tired and beat up after the FLEX and in need of some good socializing with my buddies from Psi U. Luckily we were having our first, big, open party of the semester – Psi Luau (clever right?). We have thrown this party every year I have been in the house and it is usually quite the event. This year was no different – a good number of freshmen and upperclassmen poured into the house some in luau attire some not (although everyone who walks in does get “leid”). All of the brothers try to get into it as well and throw on Hawaiian shirts, board shorts, etc. It was a pretty good night and I can definitely attest to the fact that I am glad I don’t live in the house and bear the responsibility of cleaning up after it in the morning.

That is all for now, I have a paper to write tonight and I am venturing the library for the first time all semester… wish me luck

September 10, 2006

Inauguration and the FLEX

Filed under: Fall @ 3:50 pm and

I went to the inauguration of President Skorton on Thursday afternoon. I got there at 2:45, which was quite early since it did not start until 3:30. I thought I might be able to do a little reading before the inauguration started. However, that wasn’t the case. Pretty much at 2:45 the ceremony started with a music professor named Spencer Topel announcing that he was going to play over the speakers a musical piece that he had composed for President Skorton. This music was pretty darn weird; he had composed it only using a few instruments and only certain musical notes (I forget the exact specifics). The result was a drawn out number that sounded literally like someone haphazardly slamming on some sort of keyboard or synthesizer. Perhaps it was just so genius that I could not grasp it… After that, the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Peter C. Meinig, came out and introduced Carolyn “Biddy” Martin the University Provost. She spoke a few kind words about President Skorton and told a pretty funny story about when she had first met him. Apparently in the middle of their first conversation he stopped her mid-thought and said, “Did I tell you about the article in the New England Journal of Medicine that just announced some surprising news about diet and health? Well, they claim none of us is gonna make it out of here alive.” So that was pretty funny, and it was a nice change for the somewhat dull tone of the academic symposium the previous day. After Biddy Martin spoke, the inaugural speaker David M. Feldshuh took the podium and offered more kind words about President Skorton. Dr. Feldshuh was also quite entertaining and kept the audience’s attention with a combination of intriguing points and jovial undertones. Feldshuh is a pretty impressive guy – he is a professor of theatre arts and the artistic director of the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts (our on campus theatre) but at the same time he has a M.D. and practices medicine on the side just for fun. He spoke of the first time he also had come into contact with Skorton and how Skorton had humbly introduced himself saying, “I am not quite sure if you know who I am.” But, as Feldshuh pointed out, “The entire city had been buzzing with the excitement of the new guy coming to town that played the saxophone and had a great sense of humor.” Feldshuh also stressed creativity in his speech and hinted at the ushering in of a new era of creativity at Cornell with Skorton at the helm. With all this said, Skorton took the stage to give his inaugural address. The theme of creativity was truly fitting with Skorton’s speech. To be honest, I was pretty lost and confused and what Skorton was even saying but apparently it was pretty unique and poetic. To give you a general idea, here is how the speech opened up, “The silent, unknowable rhythm of possibility, of uncertainty, of doubt, of yearning, of despair, of joy…” and it sort of went on like that for a while. It kind of reminded me of one of those open mic nights at an artsy coffee shop where struggling poets get up on stage and read their poetry to music. With that said, I am sure the speech was just beyond my ken (Skorton is certainly an incredibly intelligent guy) and I did enjoy the periodic breaks in the speech where the different musical groups performed. I found the Klezmer Ensemble to be especially interesting and enjoyable. It also impressed me how diverse Skorton’s interests are: a leading doctor in the field of cardiac health, a professional level saxophone player, a poet, etc. I guess I was just expecting the speech to be a little lighter and include some humor. I suppose you can’t satisfy everyone…

On Friday I went on what is called FLEX. It is a field exercise that the marine options in ROTC do every year. In addition, the new freshmen ROTC midshipmen are required to attend. What we do is pack up a bunch of supplies (ponchos, sleeping bags, etc.) into individual packs and hike a total of five miles. We started at water level and actually hiked up to the observatory tower, which is the highest point in Ithaca. So, it was pretty much straight uphill. Once we got to the bivouac site (military jargon for camp site) we set up our sleeping bags (we don’t use tents so we prayed it wouldn’t rain) and I led the twenty midshipmen in learning fire team tactics and maneuvering. Essentially, we just want to give them a little taste of what the Marine Corps is like in case any of them are considering switching over from navy option to marine option. After the fire team tactics we all got issued an MRE (Meal Ready to Eat – these are the standard issue food in the military) and ate around a campfire while talking about the USMC. When we were finished eating we all roasted marshmallows and the freshmen told funny stories from their ROTC orientation week. I didn’t get much sleep that night since the mosquitoes were pretty bad and we had to wake up at 6 a.m. We didn’t have to hike back to Cornell instead we got rides back in the ROTC van. I finally got back home around 8:30 and went back to sleep for a few hours.

Right now I am watching the Patriots take on the Buffalo Bills and we are up two points so that is good. I have to do a problem set for my derivatives class tonight so I am not looking forward to that. I will post some more stuff about the weekend a little later in the week.

September 6, 2006

President Skorton’s Academic Symposium

Filed under: Fall @ 7:58 pm and

I decided to pick up tickets for the academic symposium this afternoon for Cornell’s new incoming president, David J. Skorton. For a little background on Cornell’s having a new president, to start with it is quite a big deal. The reason it is such is a big deal is that when I was a freshman we had a brand new president: Jeffrey S. Lehman. This may not seem like a big deal but presidents at universities do not come and go typically within three years. In fact, Skorton is only the twelfth president ever (A.D. White opened up shop in 1865…). So, it was quite a big deal both when Lehman left and now with Skorton arriving. Hopefully he will stick around for a little bit longer – at least the board of directors probably has their fingers crossed. From what I have heard Skorton seems like a really down to earth, genuine guy and I think he will bring good things to Cornell. He comes to us from being the former president at the University of Iowa and his educational background is in internal medicine. He stirred up some not controversy, I guess excitement would be a better word, when he decided to live with his wife for a week in the freshman dorm, Donlon. Now if you have ever been a freshman at Cornell you may know that Donlon is probably not the dorm you would choose to stay in if you ever came back to Cornell as president… However, I guess things went OK for him there, and I did see him in person today so he made it out in one piece. I also heard somewhere (this may just be hearsay) that he only owns three ties though – what is up with that?

So, back to the symposium. I dragged my girlfriend Ange along with me since I wanted to have someone else there in case it was too boring. I really do hate to say this, but it was too boring and trust me I am not the only one who holds this belief. With that said, I did try my hardest to pay attention and I learned a good amount along the way. The speaker was Robert Kagan who is a columnist in the Washington Post and the author of the New York Times bestseller, Of Paradise and Power. He spoke, at length, about prevailing American mentalities from the founding of the country to present day. He made a few interesting points as well, first of all he noted that 80 percent of Americans view war as “acceptable if completely necessary” while only 40 percent of Europeans feel the same way. He also pointed out that while many Americans speak of “better days” when the country was driven by pride instead of greedy imperialistic motives in fact the country has been driven by those same motives since before its founding. Finally, he spoke of a liberalism that drives the U.S. and the worldwide societal evolution towards a unified liberal democracy. At least, those are a few of the things I took away from it. I imagine that someone a bit more informed on U.S. history and current events (a history or government major perhaps) might have found the speech a bit more intriguing and might better explain what was said. Unfortunately, I had to go to hold my office hours for accounting so I was not able to stick around for the Cornell faculty responses to the speech. I was very interested in hearing Professor Peter J. Katzenstein speak since I have always heard that he is one of the most highly revered professors at Cornell. I have not had the chance to take one of his classes, since he teaches government, but I always hear students talking about trying to get into his classes.

Anyways, that is all for now, I will post again a little later in the week.

September 4, 2006

Monday Evening Rant

Filed under: Fall @ 9:05 pm and

So, anyone who has been following the blogs somewhat closely (I’ll pause for a quick second so my friends can make the joke that no one follows them closely) may have become aware that we have been under fire of sorts from certain students and recent Cornell alums. Apparently a lot of us bloggers are viewed as a PR machine for the University and many students have been critical of the blogs and what our motives are. I want to start by saying that I am totally open to criticism from all areas – current students, prospective students, etc. Any time that I receive a comment about my blog not being genuine I will thoughtfully consider it and keep those comments in mind while writing future entries. With that said, I am a tour guide at Cornell, and I do enjoy this place a lot. This should be kept in mind while reading my posts.

Now that I have gotten that out of the way, I will make a somewhat controversial statement here (get ready…) Cornell is not perfect. In fact, I am willing to bet that there is not a student at a university anywhere in the world who is totally content with everything that occurs during their four year college experience. So, to answer the critics I’ll let everyone know something I am not happy about that is going on at Cornell lately: charging students for athletics events. Here is a little background: all of Cornell athletic events (football, soccer, lacrosse, wrestling, basketball, etc.) have been free of charge to students for my first three years here. The only exception has been hockey which runs students about ten bucks a game for season tickets. The reason Cornell has never charged for athletic events is because there has never been a problem with overcrowding at any games so free tickets actually encouraged attendance which was a good thing for all teams. Without getting into the details of exactly why this happened, it essentially boils down to a lack of communication between the student assembly (our elected representatives) and the administration. So there you have it, not everything is always copasetic at Cornell. You can read more about it here: http://www.cornelldailysun.com/node/17871

OK well back to schoolwork. I am trying to plow through the book “Conspiracy of Fools” by Kurt Eichenwald right now for my Applied Finance class. It is a really detailed account of the Enron scandal and unfortunately runs about 700 pages. Although it has been a good read so far I am a little concerned about finishing anytime soon. I also sat down to write a three to five page paper last night and got hit with the “first paper after taking the summer off from writing” writer’s block. What should have taken me only a few hours ended up taking most of the night and when I went back to look at it this morning I realized it was not very good at all. So I guess I’ll be doing some editing/rewriting tonight as well…

September 3, 2006

Next, The Fedderation and Fanmail

Filed under: Fall @ 4:31 pm and

Since classes are still just picking up (i.e. no real work yet) we have had a lot of free time on our hands at Cook St. This has amounted to us TiVoing a lot of cheesy shows (since we are not that into commercials). Some of our favorite shows which we have on “season pass” are Blind Date and Next. If you are familiar with Bill Simmons from ESPN you know what the term unintentional comedy means. Both of these shows are at the pinnacle of unintentional comedy. On Friday night we had a Next marathon where we literally watched 7 straight shows from about 3 pm on. As the night went on we started taking running bets with each other on what would happen during each episode of Next. Some bets included, “10 bucks she will ‘next’ all five guys” or double or nothing, “this girl is going to get ‘nexted’ before she walks off the bus.” Thinking back on it, the Next marathon was probably the most fun any of us had all night, even for the guys who came away from it down 40 bucks.

Saturday afternoon we discovered that on September 1st Kevin Federline (K-Fed) had dropped his first single “Lose Control” on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9hD_DEoUyE). If you’re not familiar with who Kevin Federline is, you have probably been living under a rock for the past couple of years. After multiple viewings of the video, everyone from my house was seen out and about Saturday night spontaneously yelling, “And I’m a Supastar, and I married a Supastar.”

So all in all it was a pretty good weekend filled with a lot of laughing and good times. I am actually heading over to Psi U right now for a house meeting where we are going to elect a couple new officers. Unfortunately I do not think I can go any longer without doing actual schoolwork. I will most likely have to head over to the library for a couple hours to write a 3-5 page paper on accounting scandals for my Applied Finance class.

Finally, here is a quote from an email I received and my attached response:

“And how is it being in cow counry? I live in Maine, and I know what it’s
like. Personally, I hate it…but there seems like there is a lot to do
on campus. Do you agree?”

Well, it is a lot different here than New England. However, it’s not as cow country as you might think. I honestly never get that impression whenever I am in Ithaca. There is a surprisingly good amount of things to do here, in fact the population of Ithaca literally doubles when classes are in session so it really is a city built for college students.

August 30, 2006

First Week of Classes

Filed under: Fall @ 8:05 pm and

So… I am sitting here at my “office hours” for my TAing position in Finance and pretty bored so I thought I’d write a quick entry. The office hours are quite bland this first week since not many students need serious help or tutoring yet. Operative word – yet. Finance is a pretty difficult class for most AEM students and definitely was the most challenging class I had taken at that point within the AEM major. To give you a general idea – there is a 400 page course packet that each student is reponsible for intricately understanding, a 600 some odd page textbook which test questions are drawn from (so it is imperative to know that as well), a two hour long section each week which goes over new types of problems (so section is quite important to attend), and then in case you needed more study materials there is an optional review manual with additional problems. However, with all that said, it is still a quite manageable class as long as you stay on top of the workload. I tend to find that this is the case with most Cornell classes…

But, there are some exceptions. Like my derivatives and risk management class. Although the first lecture today was quite easy to follow along in, I am not going to lie – I am a bit scared. There is quite a few grad students who are just begining to study financial engineering so that is always a bit disconcerting. I mean, I have taken classes in the Johnson Graduate School of Management, and I am sure the class will end up being not that bad but the first week jitters always do seem to set in.

Other than classes, not much to report about the week. As always, my Tuesday was pretty rough, and not at all aided by a Finance TA meeting from 8:15-9:45 PM. I was pretty burned out when I got back to Cook St. which was unfortunate since the guys I live with were all hanging out and planning on going out that night. I got back to Cook St. after my meeting, plopped down in one of our broken La-z-boys and focused in on what was on TV. House of Wax. If you havent seen this movie, don’t. All I can say is that I will never stick any of my extremities through an air vent since there is always the possibility that someone will have wire cutters waiting on the other side…

Today was Wednesday, which means I wore my uniform to classes all day (each branch of ROTC wears their uniforms on different days). It was cool wearing the new digital pattern cammies (see the photo section) but I would’ve traded them for a pair of shorts. The weirdest thing about the weather up here right now is that it is overcast almost every single day but muggier than anywhere I have ever been so everyone still sweats just walking up and down the hills to class. Oh, Ithaca…

August 28, 2006

Out of our element

Filed under: Fall @ 10:05 am and

On Friday night all the guys I live with on Cook St. were hanging out and we were discussing the fact that we were already starting to get a little bored with the social scene in Collegetown and on our street. So, we made the decision to trek into the virtual unknown and explore the social scene in downtown Ithaca… Now, downtown Ithaca is not a place Cornell students venture to often other than to go shopping, etc. This is because downtown Ithaca is where Ithaca College students primarily reside and socialize and although there is no rivalry or hostility between the two schools for whatever reason we rarely interact. They typically spend their evenings at the establishments on the “commons” and we spend our time in Collegetown. So we sought to break down that barrier and spend a night down on the commons. No one in the house wanted to spend money on a cab ride so we walked all the way down the treacherous Buffalo St. (this is quite a walk if you are familiar with Cornell). What we didn’t realize before getting all the way down to the commons was that Ithaca College was not yet in session and it was completely empty. Woops. With little time left to salvage in the night, we again decided that we did not want to pay for a cab and foolishly started to walk UP Buffalo St. Three of us started, and only two finished the walk in less than twenty minutes. An unnamed roommate of mine was seen finally limping back to Cook St. some thirty minutes later literally drenched from head to foot in sweat. Due to the failure of our idea, it might be a long time before we again march down Buffalo St. but I do recommend it to others – the commons can be a pretty fun place.

In other news, Friday was my second day of classes. Now, I usually try to schedule my classes so that I don’t have any on Fridays, but this year I wasn’t able to get that lucky. I had my section (a section meets in addition to your lecture each week and serves to break down the class into smaller discussion groups in order to review the material presented that week in lecture) for Contemporary Controversies in the Global Economy and since it is primarily a writing class we actually spent some time free-writing about whether the government should allow a market for new born babies. After we each wrote a response we took turns reading them out loud and arguing our points. It was a pretty good section and I think that I will really enjoy this class.

On Sunday I went grocery shopping at Wegman’s which truly holds a special place in the hearts of most Cornellians. Wegman’s is much more that a grocery store, it is literally a destination that brings joy into many people’s lives each visit they take. The reason Wegman’s is so acclaimed is that first of all it is open 24 hours a day which is key for those all-nighter study sessions. Second, Wegman’s has the market caf

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