Thursday, October 23, 2008

I Complain About School a Lot...

But today was a really great day at school. In one of my hated classes, Interpersonal & Organizational Behavior, we had a really amazing guest speaker today (who also happened to have a very cute assistant). His name was James P. Owen, and he wrote a book called Cowboy Ethics. I realized that this is what I am looking for in school--inspiration--and that is what Mr. Owen unsuspectingly gave to me today after I took my final midterm (yay!).

Owen is a Wall Street veteran, and he spoke to our class today, as he put it, "from the heart." He feels that the biggest problem in American business today is that there is a complete lack of morals. The country's motto has become, "What's in it for me?" Growing up, Owen's heroes were cowboys, and he says that he's never grown out of that which is made clear in his beautiful book. The cowboy is an iconic part of American culture (which was mocked incessantly by my horrid CH 203 professor last semester). Owen feels that the "Code of the West" is what makes cowboys so respectable--they live by an unspoken code of honor, integrity, and humility. In his book, he outlines "Ten Principles to Live By." Those ten principles are:

  1. Live each day with courage
  2. Take pride in your work
  3. Always finish what you start
  4. Do what has to be done
  5. Be tough, but fair
  6. When you make a promise, keep it
  7. Ride for the brand
  8. Talk less and say more
  9. Remember that some things aren't for sale
  10. Know where to draw the line

I know that I could stand to work on a few of the things on that list. Why don't professors have more guest speakers in their classes? Mr. Owen was great--he gave each of us a free copy of his book, and when I went up to thank him after class, he signed it for me. : ) I'm really excited to read the book--it was very encouraging to hear a successful businessman speak about many of the things that I hold near and dear. I do long for the days when "a handshake was as good as a twenty page contract." This class today got me excited about business school again--I am going to be able to make a difference in the world someday. If you want to check this book out, you can borrow it from me once I'm done, or you can buy it here. Besides being full of good words, it is full of beautiful cowboy pictures which makes it a great coffee table book. : )

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Starbucks Gold Card

Now, you all know that I am absolutely addicted to Starbucks. I go nearly everyday while school is in session. So, imagine my excitement when I got an e-mail yesterday letting me know about the Starbucks Gold Card (which Kimbra already told me not to buy for myself because she wants to get one for me). I am super excited about this! I was excited when Howard Schultz took over at Starbucks again and started the whole share your ideas for how to make the Starbucks experience better thing because I knew that the company would actually listen to the ideas that the customers put out there. I'm enjoying the changes being made at Starbucks, and I hope that the company can continue to grow (I know, evil corporations and all, but I'm in business school).

Anyway, more about this Gold Card. It's already being tested in Denver and Vancouver, B.C (do you have one yet, Bex?). It costs $25, and it's supposed to give you 10% off most purchases (with the exception of gift cards and digital downloads). Here are more of the perks:
  • A personalized Starbucks Gold Card signifying your Gold status
  • A Gold Card dividend – 2% of what you spend on your Gold Card comes back to you, or is donated to a non-profit organization each month
  • Coffeehouse rewards – like special discounts on Family & Friends days
  • Surprise indulgences – like something special on your birthday
  • A members-only website to manage your account

I like to see companies changing and diversifying their strategies over time in order to survive. Starbucks really is a great corporation to study for business purposes. : )

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dinner with Jen

I have always been very blessed to continually have at least one amazing girlfriend in my life. Right now, I have three, and I am so thankful for them--I hope that they know that! It's always nice to have friends who seem to be able to read your mind. Sometimes it's nice to have someone to force you to be truly honest with yourself.

On my way home from class this evening, I called Jen with the intention of conning her into going downtown to Jungle Vino to have an Espresso Martini with me because I wanted to put off studying as long as possible. Instead, we ended up planning to have dinner at Blue Plate down because neither of us had tried it yet. After crossing the street in 4.5" heels, I discovered that they were only open for lunch with the exception of Greek nights on Fridays. I then crossed the street again after Jen and I agreed to have dinner at the Cheese and Wine Seller which I discovered was only open from 10-4. Honestly, for wine and cheese? Ten 'o clock in the morning?

After two such heavy letdowns we decided to walk down the street to Blue Moon for some pizza. That's one more thing that I love about my girls--we're so flexible with our plans. : ) We ordered a red wine called Menage a Trois for $3.75 a glass, which was actually decent! We also ordered the Teriyaki Chicken pizza which was amazing--I just wish that they would use a lower sodium teriyaki sauce because it was a little bit on the salty side. I know that I always say that Pub 'n Sub is the best pizza in Reno, but if you're in Reno and you're hungry for some pizza, give Blue Moon a try. I really love the atmosphere (they also have a patio), and I really love California Street. Next time we go, Jen, we can try the Thai pizza, k? : )

Monday, October 20, 2008

Yogurt Making Attempt #1

I woke up this morning and went directly to my fridge to see whether my yogurt had set while I was sleeping. To my great disappointment (however, not to my suprise) it hadn't set at all. I wonder what I did wrong. I think that before I try again, I'll go and buy a candy thermometer so that I can follow the directions properly. Here's what I did--I would love some input from anyone who has ever made yogurt before! Do I need more fat in the process? Maybe my $1 garage sale yogurt maker just isn't working properly.

1 quart nonfat milk
1/2 cup powdered nonfat milk
1/2 cup Greek nonfat plain yogurt

I heated the milk and the powdered milk over medium heat until just before it was going to start boiling, then I let it cool down to luke warm (about 20 minutes). During this time, I plugged in the maker so that the base could start heating up. Once the milk was luke warm, I mixed in the yogurt. Then I poured the mix into the little yogurt maker cups, placed them in the yogurt maker, covered it, and let the machine sit undisturbed for 8 hours. Anyone have any tips?

P.S. I heard Christmas music playing in Borders today. Is that legal? I thought that they had to wait at least until after Halloween...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Rachel's Baking?

So far, I've had a very productive Sunday. I woke up, got ready, and headed down to Starbuck's to read a couple of chapters of my current pleasure reading book, An Irish Country Village by Patrick Taylor. I'm finally starting to get into it, and it's due back to the library tomorrow. I'm going to try to check it out again so that I can finish it. I sat out on the patio and read--I'm trying to take full advantage of these last few weeks of weather warm enough to allow for that.

When I got home, I decided to tackle my weekend projects that have gotten backlogged due to midterms. I started off with my first attempt at using my new yogurt maker (new to me--I bought it at a garage sale for $1). I didn't have a candy thermometer, so we'll see how this batch turns out. I also finished my glittered pumpkins, but alas, I have no batteries for my camera, so I will take some pictures of them tomorrow. They really are beautiful at night with soft light glowing around them. My project for next weekend is to carve pumpkins with Jackie. : )

I also made my favorite fall breakfast food: Pumpkin Cornmeal Muffins. I make these every year because they are so perfect for the season. They smell amazing while they are baking! I heat one up in my toaster oven every morning and my whole apartment smells like pumpkin spice and coffee. Mmmm... : ) You can find the recipe here.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

A Reflection

by Kate Chopin

Some people are born with a vital and responsive energy. It not only enables them to keep abreast of the times; it qualifies them to furnish in their own personality a good bit of the motive power to the mad pace. They are fortunate beings. They do not need to apprehend the significance of things. They do not grow weary nor miss step, nor do they fall out of rank and sink by the wayside to be left contemplating the moving procession.

Ah! that moving procession that has left me by the road-side! Its fantastic colors are more brilliant and beautiful than the sun on the undulating waters. What matter if souls and bodies are failing beneath the feet of the ever-pressing multitude! It moves with the majestic rhythm of the spheres. Its discordant clashes sweep upward in one harmonious tone that blends with the music of other worlds--to complete God's orchestra.

It is greater than the stars--that moving procession of human energy; greater than the palpitating earth and the things growing thereon. Oh! I could weep at being left by the wayside; left with the grass and the clouds and a few dumb animals. True, I feel at home in the society of these symbols of life's immutability. In the procession I should feel the crushing feet, the clashing discords, the ruthless hands and stifling breath. I could not hear the rhythm of the march.

Salve! ye dumb hearts. Let us be still and wait by the roadside.

This was the very last page of a book that I just finished reading: The Awakening and Other Short Stories by Kate Chopin. I love good writing. I wonder if anything written today will be sitting on bookshelves next to Dickens and Austen and Lewis and Lee fifty years from now.

This was a beautiful story--all of them were beautiful, actually, but especially The Awakening. I think that I found myself identifying with Edna on a certain level--fitting in, and yet not fitting in. Finally reaching that defining moment that breathes life into your own life. Here is my favorite quote from that story: "At a very early period she had apprehended instinctively the dual life--that outward existence which conforms, the inward life which questions." Read it; I know that you will love it.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Just Do It

Nike was onto something big--I wonder how many times the 20-year-old slogan is used a day without any reference direct reference to shoes? Maybe I'll come up with a history making ad campaign someday...

I'm feeling a little bit stressed about everything that I have to do this week, so I'm going to make a list:

1. Periods 4-5 Log Book I actually ended up doing too much work for this. Good to know...
2. Finance Midterm Part I
3. Read for Legal Environment
4. Finance Midterm Part II Yay! I aced that exam!
5. MGT 321 Midterm I only got to turn this in because Alex saved my life.
6. Packing list
7. Pack for Vegas!

Monday, October 6, 2008

One of Many Flaws

I've been criticized by some of my peers for being naive about people and human nature when it comes to my political stances. I don't think it's really naivete, but rather, hope and optimism. I believe in people--I want to see them live up to their potential. As Maslow put it, I'd like to see everyone reach the self-actualization (but I don't want the government holding everyone's hands along the way).

I'm not planning to get too political this month, but I got this quote in my e-mail today, and it made me realize part of why I am so wired to love democracy (really, I love the republic, but that's hardly feasible at this point):

"Democracy is…the conviction that there are extraordinary possibilities in ordinary people." (Harry Emerson Fosdick)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Scary Topic: Education in America

Tonight, I got to sit through two hours and forty-five minutes of the one class on my schedule this semester that I don't hate: Legal Environment. Shocking, I know. The professor has set the class up to run according to the Socratic method, which falls in line with the idea that those who do the most talking in a class are the ones who do the most learning. I love class discussion and debate--that is how college should be. Actually, this class is set up exactly as I believe college classes should be set up--we have two exams and two papers due over the course of the semester.

As we were discussing the Constitution tonight, I noticed a familiar quote by George Washington on the back of my little booklet. "A primary object...should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing...than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?"

This is why our government is failing. Tonight, our professor showed us a news article that stated that only one 1 out of 1000 Americans can state the five liberties granted to us in the First Amendment, but 1 out of 5 of us can name all five of the main characters of the Simpsons. Years ago, did all of the Communists left in the country after McCarthy's witch hunts become teachers in the United States? Did they get together and decide that instead of teaching children their great American heritage and instilling in them a sense of nationalism they would teach that white America always has been and always will be the devil, and that as a nation, we should be running around with our tails between our legs chanting peace and change and kazoo? I know that educators in this country tend to lean pretty far to the left, but I am definitely not saying that they are Communists. Just so that is clear. It makes me excited to see my friends like Jen and Kimbra becoming teachers. I know that they will be beacons of truth in this storm.

I am very proud to be an American. It excites me to live in a country where the press is not censored, where no dictator rules without checks and balances, where no one is evaluating our talents and determining our careers for us, where people can say the name of God without fearing for their lives. I also love free markets and elections.

I realize that this country isn't perfect, but at least we have the right--and the obligation--to change those things that need alterations. I don't want my grandchildren to wake up someday in a world like that of Bellamy's Looking Backward. But, if we don't educate the younger generations in the "science of government", how are we to expect good strong leaders to rise up to run our country. Perhaps this is the very reason that we are in the midst of such a heated election right now.

Now, I need to get back to studying for my exams...

In case you were wondering...the five liberties granted to us in the First Amendment are: religion, speech, press, assembly, and petition. Of the Simpsons, I can name Homer, Marge, Lisa, and Bart.