Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Hello Kitty has prevented me from posting...

No Seriously.

In my Business Law Class my professor admits the slides and content are really boring. In an effort to liven them up he puts completely random pictures on the slides. Yesterday, while we were going over sales remedies he chose a hello kitty theme. All semester long he has had random pictures (most of October were animals in Halloween costumes), and thus I have not been able to pay attention at all. Seriously, how can I focus on torts when a dog is in a princess leia costume on the same slide?

And that is why I haven't been blogging. Tomorrow we have a huge paper that is due. And what have I learned so far in this class? To never ever dress up an animal in a halloween costume, except in dire need of amusement. Not so much about strict liability, intentional torts or negligence. So instead of blogging, I have been learning/cramming Business Law the past few days in attempt to not bring up animal cruelty in my paper.

So enjoy a few of my faves from our last lecture. And really, a banana purse?

Thursday, November 12, 2009

# 38: The system, not the people

Today I had a really interesting experience in one of my classes that made me have an AHA! moment and put some things in perspective for me.

We were doing a simulation where the class was divided into 6 departments of a company with a few people in each department. Our goal in the simulation was to maximize profit for our own department. During the game there were 10 weeks where each department had to decide to "sell" or "buy". The payout schedule was such that if every single department decided to buy, each department made $1000. However, if one department decided not to buy, it would make $5000 while every other department lost $1000. There were multiple levels of this payout depending on how many sold or bought, but the gist is you typically made more by selling . However, if everyone sold, each department lost $1000. So for you to be profitable selling, you had to make someone else lose a lot. Are you following me?

So my department decided we wanted to work for the mutual benefit (and encourage other people to all buy too, so we would all be positive and no one would lose). Time after time we were the only department to invest. Even after we had a "company wide" meeting and every single department agreed to invest, still most firms decided to "cheat" and sell thereby gaining a lot at the expense of all the other departments.

You may wonder--what the heck does this have to do with anything? Well, I was kind of bummed by this game. I felt like people were lying, cheating and otherwise only acting in self interest when playing this game. I have felt like this in a lot of other experiences, most of which were not simulations. I have felt really lonely in caring for causes greater than myself, and have even felt angst to those who didn't share in my fight.

But after discussing the simulation I realized something really important. It wasn't the people, it was the system. They were set up with an incentive system that made them act only for themselves. They were not un-ethical or wrong in doing their best for the goal laid ahead of them, the flaw was that their incentive WAS to only think of themselves.

This makes me think a lot about the work that I do, and a lot of the societal problems our country faces right now. You know, I don't really think it is because people generally are un-ethical or greedy or just plain mean. It is because the incentive system in much of society makes it that to get ahead (or our standard of ahead), often someone most only think in their short term self interest, and not in a common interest.

So how can I be upset when someone doesn't care about something as much as I do? Or someone doesn't advocate for the common good in most situations? Well, its not the person. Its the system.

I will still always be the person who invests, who tries to change the system. And I still will try to recruit every other person I can to change it with me... but in the end it may be a little while before society finally invests in its shared future. And I am okay with that.

#39: Cat Pee Glows in the Dark

So, you know this may be silly... but after my first semester of college I compiled a list of what I had learned so far. And... that made it on the list. It was written on the bathroom door at Cottage Inn Pizza, one of my favorite home town restaraunts in Ann Arbor.

Lesson Learned: Cat Pee Glows in the Dark.

I never said they were all life changing or even relevant.
Also, enjoy a lolcat from one of my favorite homework procrastination sites.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

#40: Snow Boots

No, I was not in Kansas anymore. Or Texas for that matter. During my first semester in Michigan as November crept in I began to realize something very hard to deal with, something uncomfortable, something horrid-- that my feet were always cold!

You know, southern shoes are just not made the same way northern shoes are. Albeit that most of my shoe wardrobe (shoe-drobe?) consisted of open toed shoes and sandals as appropriate in Texas, even my more hearty shoes really couldn't take the looming call of winter. I remember my mom trying to "equip" me with some shoes for the cold weather. From this quest comes the tale of my first pair of snow boots.

My Mom and I (in September mind you) were searching for snow boots and just couldnt find anything, and then a handsome fellow at the payless said he had just the idea. He rushed to the back and came out with-- nothing else but moon boots! YES! MOON BOOTS! They were big and puffy and silvery and shiny and... they were just moon boots!

Don't believe me? Check out those babies! They were the only winter boots I had most of my freshman year. Eventually I felt like such a dork (I mean so incredibly cool) that I begged my aunt to take me to the store for some new boots.

My new boots were plain and black and could be worn with everything-- but they were not my moon boots :(

Lesson Learned: Don't shop out of season, always use the proper foot wear and last but not least, moon boots are still IN!

40 days and 40 ways: A tribute to my Collegiate Experience

Today I was reflecting on the fact that I graduate from the University of Michigan in only 40 days! I have realized that so much of this experience has been of an individual nature, and that I have rarely had the opportunity to share exactly what I have been learning (or how I have been changing) since I arrived 3 and half years ago.

In celebration of my last 40 days, I plan to write daily about some tidbit of information or lesson I have learned through my college experience. This may be something I learned in a classroom, on a job, in a meeting or who knows-- in a bathroom stall. I will spend 10 entries on each year of my undergraduate experience. This will most likely not be chronological, primarily because it will be more interesting for me that way :)

I hope you enjoy, share and comment on these entries. I also hope they give you a little more insight into who I am and how I have grown.

Thanks for reading.

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