Thursday, August 07, 2014

The one school experience that stands out in my mind.

I received an email survey from PSU to function as a sort of "exit interview," which asked me the following question.

Thinking back over your experience in the SBA program, was there any one experience that stands out in your mind?  This could be something that was so surprising that you told others about it.  If you did have a particularly memorable experience--regardless of whether it was positive or negative--please describe it.  We would be interested in the details of the actual experience, your expectations at the time, and your reaction to it.

Professor Alan Cabelly's BA 493 HR Capstone Project was such a massive, involved undertaking that turned into much more than I thought it would originally be. This was also a team project, which presented its own unique challenges. Professor Cabelly did a great job of laying out the project format and expectations, and was very available throughout the term to answer questions and offer guidance. Looking back on that project, I realize how much I've taken from it and already applied to what I'm doing at work.

As the term moved on and we moved through the timeline of this project, the time I was devoting to it was exponentially increasing. Professor Cabelly prefaced that this was a doozy of a time commitment at the start of the project, but I think one has to experience the HR Capstone project to really understand what he means. I had also taken way too many classes that term in addition to working full time, and also had two incredible and unexpected national travel opportunities come up during the term. I moved through each week of the term, I became determined to achieve success. I felt as if I was racing in the Tour De France, passing important checkpoints, earning the polka-dot jersey and getting closer to the finish line at the top of the Col du Tourmalet.

Finally, at the 11th hour, I distinctly remember another classmate and I watching the sun rise in the Broadway Computer Lab as we made last-minute adjustments to material from tardy team members. It was about 5 after 5 in the morning, and our paper was due in 5 hours. As I stood at the printer waiting for my job to finish, I remember thinking how incredibly beautiful the fiery pink and purple sky was. There were about 5 or 6 other kindred spirits in the large, empty lab, and even though we hadn't spoken, I know there was an experiential connection occurring. My classmate and I definitely acknowledged the magic of morning as we paused between our editing and printing.

Monday, May 05, 2014

Welcome to the Hotel Canyonville

I’m staying at a casino resort hotel for a work conference right now and it’s the weirdest experience. I feel like I’m having an acid flashback, but that could partly be due to the shitty food that’s been poisoning me. The shitty food issue is actually part of a more pervasive issue in our society with people willfully eating processed food infused with unnatural chemicals. I seriously have to write a whole other blog post on that topic because bad food and not having access to good food is a huge huge problem for humans. So many people (and many who I care about) eat fast food, junk food, and all-around bad food; microwave garbage, genetically modified foods, horribly processed cows and chickens—the sins of our humanity and the variety of the afflicted go on and on.

I firmly believe that from continually ingesting those chemicals over time, we humans are altering ourselves in ways that work out to be a disadvantage. We are deprived of true nutrition, and do not give our cells the ability to successfully engage in development and respiration. From the cellular level the effects spiral out, on and on.

Anyway—I digress. Back to the casino:

We had this dinner award banquet tonight and I like to randomly sit at tables with people I don’t know. Tonight I sat with the Workers Compensation field investigators and a couple of representatives from the Preferred Worker Program (putting employees injured on the job back to work). These people were interesting and funny to say the least. They had this really involved discussion as to whether or not it would be considered workers compensation if one of the Portland Trailblazers got hurt during a game. Because this was their area of expertise, they got really detailed in their answer about what the employer’s workers comp premium would be, circumstances around the player getting injured, and a million different “what if” scenarios. The whole time everyone was asking, they were drinking alcoholic beverages and getting more and more animated about their analysis of this topic. It was all very entertaining to me, and by the time the program ended I felt I knew these people very well. One guy in particular sat on my left and revealed that he is a former cop. He retired from the force but still wanted to work, so he decided to become an investigator.

The view from my seat at the banquet
People think staying at a hotel is cool but it isn’t always what it seems like it could be. This hotel is weird, cheesy, and seems cheaply made. I hate the lighting everywhere (stupid bright LEDs) and it’s really fricking cold! The AC is jacked way up which makes no sense; it’s like 50 outside anyway. It’s a casino hotel which means people are smoking cigarettes everywhere. I think cigarettes are gross; I know I used to smoke and that makes me sound like a hypocrite. It’s also pretty loud in my hotel room; someone above me has been banging around for at least 5 hours now. I’m not sure what’s going on up there. Maybe a large active dog and the owners are downstairs in the casino getting carried away? The people on my left must be deaf because their television is turned wayyy up. Even louder then my neighbor’s TV and she is going deaf for real. I’m also guessing that this hotel is pet friendly because I hear an intermittent “YIP” coming from somewhere on my right. My room is on the first floor, which is dumb in my opinion because who wants to stay on the first floor? My window opens to a busy parking lot so obviously I can’t open the curtains.

I am pretty sure my eyes are burning from the smoke. The conference part of why I am staying here is indoors but across the expanse of the hotel, and they make you (of course) cut through the games to get there. They are hoping (and are probably successful) you stop on the way and play a game or ten. The Workers Comp guys at my table were way into the games. The retired cop on my left was up $50 when he had to come in for our dinner.

This hotel is really weird. From a distance it looks like it’d be a nice place, but upon closer inspection it’s apparent that cheap materials were used to build this place; marble-looking plastic counter tops, cheap metal fixtures on hall lamps, lower quality carpet, just obviously sub-par materials. But it’s not obvious to people, and I’m not sure why. There’s this big weird eagle carved out of wood in the front that everyone is very excited about. The valet gave me a free pamphlet on the eagle (I haven’t read it yet).

There are a lot of weird old people here. I recognize that I keep using “weird” as a modifier and don’t mean to be so vague or general. I just can’t think of a better way of explaining it. Weird as in: not familiar or comfortable, seemingly wrong but unable to put my finger on exactly why (or maybe I can). Maybe alien pod people like that movie “Cocoon.”  They seem to alternate smoking cigarettes and taking hits off of their oxygen tank. They seem to set up shop at a slot machine and settle in for a while—cigarettes, ashtrays, drinks, wallet handy...there’s a whole set-up going on. It’s quite involved. I know there’s a whole die-hard faction of bingo players too but I haven’t been brave enough to venture over there. Those seniors would eat me alive.

The couple next door with the loud TV are having a loud conversation across the room with one another. It’s kind of comical, actually. It sounds like they are having a serious debate about where to go for breakfast tomorrow—there’s two restaurants serving breakfast in this casino resort, and they are literally right next to one another. I am pretty sure they share the same menu and the only differences is in the d├ęcor or theme of the place you are sitting.

The upstairs neighbors are still stomping around. What could they possibly be doing? I miss my own bed and the peace of familiar expectation.