Wednesday, December 5, 2007

A Long Overdue Update

Okay... so things have been extremely crazy around here lately. So this is now what I look like 24/7...

With the holidays arriving fast it always means more things crammed into the same amount of time... lets break it down.

Work: I've had two huge projects, preparing for a large conference in the cities this week, and creating informational binders containing anything and everything that is Southwest Minnesota to send to a national talk radio host in Fargo in hopes of gaining sponsor for a national movement we have begun. Well, I am proud to say that I finished them on Tuesday, so now I move on to two other major projects... Speech Spectacular 2007 and taking on a major role in the application process for accrediation of the first corporate university in the world (Schwan's University). So things are just going to get crazier from here...

School: Well I have one and a half weeks until finals... so of course all of the large projects that I have avoided all semester are all due next week. Figures... but hey, I work best under pressure and as my mother would say "it's a rush!" Only one more semester after this, and I have to admit I can not wait!

SIFE: Well as most of you know SIFE is a major part of my life. Lately I have been freaking, because I have a little over two months to complete 29 projects... wish me luck! Nature's Backyard is taking up a lot of time lately, as well as the rest of the projects. I'll keep you all updated on how these go. I am hoping to start sleeping again after our directors meeting on Saturday; we will be going through all of our projects and breaking them down... we're looking at 8 hours... ugh.

FAMILY/FRIENDS: This is what is keeping me sane! Thank you all! Mom, Tiana and I went shopping in the cities last weekend and had a great time! We got to see my aunt Kim and cousin Aubrey while we were there, not to mention all of the fabulous shopping (IKEA)!!!

Also, last month my family and I attend the Vikings/Chargers game in Minneapolis. Wow, what a great game!

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Saying Goodbye to NYC

So day seven was sort of bitter-sweet. I finally got to go and see the two major highlights on my NYC itinerary, Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.
The day began with me having a little fun with the "Techno Echo." Just so you know, this giant mega phone is located underneath an interstate overpass. I'll be needing awesome benefits to cover hearing aids next week!
Another interesting point... they look like normal bricks, right?! Nope, these are made of wood. They are located at an old railroad terminal where the ferry from Liberty State park departs.

Ellis Island!!! This was the only major tourist site that I had hoped to see while on this trip. I was so happy to be able to do this today! I only have one hour on the island so I ran to see the major areas such as the registration room. Due to this lack of time, I did buy a DVD all about Ellis Island, so I look forward to learning even more!

After the island the ferry went to Liberty Island, where I got to view the famous lady up-close and personal. She is magnificant, although not as large as I had imagined, still astounding! I only had an hour here also, so I made sure to walk around the island and take a few different pictures. Hopefully, I will be able to share a few more pictures in future posts.

And like I said at the beginning of this post... a bitter-sweet ending. I have fallen in love with this city, it's history, and it's scenery... I am very sad to be leaving... BUT I could not be happier to finally getting home and spending some much needed time with family and friends!!!

I miss you all!!!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Simply Beautiful

I moved into my new hotel in Jersey City on day six and I must say... it is beautiful! Below are a few pictures from the hotel property.
The beautiful bridge connecting Statten Island and Brooklyn.

Lady Liberty and Ellis Island.
A giant duel sundial right behind the hotel.

Incredible Manhattan!!!

This was probably one of the most interesting things I have seen in some time. My hotel is actually located atop a pier in the Hudson river. Along the pier are many fisherman... ok so not that interesting so far, right?!

Well... they are not baiting their hooks... The lures that they are using are HUGE and all have at least three giant hooks on them! And what they are doing is dropping the lure to the bottom of the river and yanking the line so that they hook through the fish.

I was amazed to see them all drop in a line and immediately pull out fish. Some of these fisherman had numerous hooks on one line, so they were able to pull out multiple fish at a time.

Now... was that interesting?! Maybe not, but I liked it :)

Big City Squishin' Mission

Day five was a extremely thrilling day. I decided to spend the majority of the day touring around NYC on my own.

So I set out on a mission... squished pennies!!!

For those who may not know, my little sister collects pressed pennies and I do have to say it is a great item to collect! They are inexpensive, easy to pack/lightweight AND they help big sisters who are travelling to find destination points.

So I set out with my list! I went to visit the Empire State Building, Times Square Info Center and many other numerous places, but then I found my favorite squished penny location... M&M World!!!

M&M World was was a total blast! I was shopping, sampling and kickin' it with Blue!
There was this "machine" there, and when you stood on a mat in front of the TV screen, ti would determine your color mood! Mine was Electric Green! I have to say, what a great way to pitch your M&Ms! I can't tell you how many kids I saw do this and then throw fits until thier parents bought them some (might I add that they are $9 per pound!!!). I will let you all know, that although I was seriously craving some M&Ms by the time I left, I didn't buy any there... I went to the local drug store! And that's why I go to college, Mom will be so proud! :)

I also had to include a couple extra pictures from that day. I decided to go to a clothing store that was about 15 blocks away. **Keep in mind that I didn't bring a jacket or an umbrella on this trip! Bonehead move on my part!** Well when I stepped out of the hotel, it was down-pouring! I had intended to take the subway, but didn't want to walk the 3 blocks to the station in the rain. So I decided I would take a cab!
Well, when it rains in Manhattan everyone takes a cab. So after standing in an extremely long line for 30 minutes, and only moving 3 feet, I decided to take a ride in a cart behind a bike! So I took a few pictures!

To finish my story... I got to the store, made my purchases and then figured I would go back to the hotel. Well now I was in the middle of no where, with no cab in sight. By this time the rain had intensified (I didn't believe it was possible, but mother nature proved me wrong!). So I ran 2 blocks in the torrential rain and bought an umbrella! I then stepped outside and opened my umbrella to walk to the subway station... no rain. Haven't seen a drop since :)

Work Hard - Play Harder

Well I am sorry to inform everyone, but on day four I did not take many pictures. I spent the majority of the day in my hotel room working on school assignments, sife projects, and schwans work. But that day was also the opening ceremony for SIFE World Cup.

SIFE World Cup, happens to be smaller than the United State's National Competition. I just heard an update on the number of teams around the world, and we have reached 1514 teams! This number allows us to continue to hold our title as the largest student network in the world! At the World Cup, there were representative from 54 different countries, and getting to see some of these many diverse cultures was astounding!
After the ceremony many of us decided to hit the town and have a couple of drinks. All together there were probably 50 of us that invaded this little Irish pub. And throughout the night we all got to know eachother on a more personal level, leaving the suits behind!

The City That Never Sleeps

Day three was quite a long day. I participated in a finanical literacy forum all day, but it did have many highlights. I had the opportunity to learn many interesting facts and about the experiences of others. There were 100 students choosen from around the world to participate in this forum, so needless to say networking with such a diverse group of individuals was amazing.

That evening we split into three groups to go on a couple different outings. Two of the outings included the Statten Island ferry and the Empire State Building... well seeing how I had already gone on the ferry ride and had visited the Top of the Rock, I decided to go with option three.

Myself and 24 others walked up to Times Square! WOW!!! This was absolutely wonderful! We walked around for about an hour and then went to eat at the Hardrock Cafe. It was a wonderful time!
And I got to meet Samual L. Jackson!
OK... so maybe he was made of wax...
but I can dream can't I?! :)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Ongoing Journey in NYC

Welcome to Day 2 of my NYC adventure!!! Well this was my last day with Jenny and she let me sleep in, woohoo!!! So in the afternoon we went and checked into my hotel and then went to do some final site seeing together.

But first Jenny insisted on taking some unpacking and "the room before the invasion pictures" pictures!

We then walked a few blocks to visit Saint Patrick's Cathedral, one word... gorgeous!

After the cathedral, we walked across the street to the Rockefeller Center. Jenny has a friend who works the "Top of the Rock" tours, and she was able to hook us up with passes and audio tours. This was probably the neatest thing I've done thus far!

The Top of the Rock tour takes you up 67 floors to an open-air roof top with spectacular views! Jenny has been to the Empire State Building and says that the Top of the Rock offers better views just because you are able to see the Empire State Building and you get a better view of Central Park (from the Empire, Rockefeller blocks this view). It was an amazing experience, and I couldn't be more pleased to have had the pleasure to do it with Jenny!

These last two pictures are of the views from the Top of the Rock. In the picture of Central Park there are many interesting sites visable, including Yankee's Stadium. The bottom picture shows an incredible view of the Empire State Building and on the right-hand side near the middle of the picture, there is a little "speck" in the middle of a river... that is the Statue of Liberty!

Monday, October 8, 2007

The Big Apple

Well here is where it all began. I flew out of Minneapolis at 7:00AM on Sunday (10.7) and this was my view! I love flying above the clouds! Absolutely gorgeous!

My cousin Jenny met me at the airport and then we went back to her place in Queens. I had to do some work on my computer quick, so Jenny played with the camera. Then we took off to Central Park!
First we got on the wrong train, but still managed to find our way. Luckily we made that mistake because it lead us into the park right by a penny pressing machine! Tiana is going to be so happy!

Central Park was absolutely beautiful! We got to see many interesting people and places! There were these giant rocks that so many little kids were climbing, so Jen and I decided that we would at least take a picture on them!
There were many different statues throughout the park. Here are two, the one is a angel that stands on top of a giant fountain, and we believe that the gold statue is George Washington being lead into battle by an angel.

We met up with Jenny's boyfriend and another one of their friends. We went over to Strawberry Fields and seen the memorial for John Lenon. Very neat to see!

Another park perk were all of the performers. We got to see many great "shows" and some not so great ones...

After Central Park we went down to the tip of Manhattan. We grabbed some food, saw ground zero and rode the Statten Island ferry! Then we walked through the financial district, and I got to see the New York Stock Exchange and Wall Street. Then we went to Bedford and to meet and hang out with some of Jenny's friends. All in all, it was a great day!

Friday, October 5, 2007

Three Days in DC

Hello everyone! Sorry I have been absent for the past couple of weeks! Last Monday (09/24) I found out that I need to be in Washington DC on for work, so things got crazy very fast, as I am leaving for New York on the 7th. Well anywho... myself and two others from Schwan's University flew down to DC on Tuesday (10/2) and came back Thursday.

We had a great time! We got there Tuesday afternoon and got ready for the BEST Awards Ceremony that evening. Everyone attending knew that they had received an award, but the ceremony is where you find out your rankings, we came in at 42nd. Anywho... after the ceremony we decided to do some quick nightime sight-seeing.

We went to the WWII memorial, the Korean memorial, and the Lincoln memorial. Then we had our driver give us a tour around the city. We saw many wonderful monuments and then went back to the hotel to get some much needed sleep.

On Wednesday we finished up our work by giving a presentation on leadership development and then continued being tourists. Beth and I walked all over DC and our feet are remembering Capital Building, the Botanic Gardens, some of the Smithsonian museums, the Holocaust Museum, the National Archives, White House, Vietnam Memorial, and the Jefferson Memorial. In addition to these, we also got to see the Presidential Motorcade... as we were coming up on Pennsilvania Avenue, we saw that they were shutting down the entire street, then all of a sudden there were numerous cop escorts and black SUVs, as well as a helicopter circling above us. Both drivers that we had that day, also gave us tours of the city! Our drivers were great and we could not have been any more pleased with the hospitality in DC, it was very impressive!

Eventually, Thursday came around and we decided that we still wanted to head up to Arlington National Cemetary. Although our feet were killing us we figured that we had to make this trip. So we ventured out once again and saw all of the famous memorials within the cemetary. We saw JFK's gravesite and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I was taken back by the size of this place. There are over 310,000 people buried there, and they have an average of 28 burials each day. Below is the view from JFK's grave, looking out at the capital building.

Also, there are a couple pictures of me that Beth took on this trip. The first is me, posing as a statue at the Korean Memorial (they told me to play "tragedy" so I'm playing "broke"). Then there is me at the Botanic Gardens and then in front of the Jefferson Monument. Mine and Beth's motto for the day was "Strike a Pose!" So I thought I would share... :)

I'll write from New York! Talk to you all soon!!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My Summer Project

Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. - Ralph Waldo Emerson

As many of you may already know, I am the President of the SMSU SIFE team, and we own and operate our own store. The store is called Nature's Backyard, and we sell wild bird supplies, lawn decor, and a variety of gift items.

A little background info - Nature's Backyard is located on the corner of two streets, Main and Third. Well Main street has been closed, due to construction, since last May. Main street is the main enterance to our store, so this made the summer tough for us, especially with it being our typical busy season.

So with the slow down at the store, I decided that I would take this opportunity to undertake a large project, sprucing up the "Yard." I pooled all of our resources and dramatically increased our inventory! In addition, another volunteer and myself decided that we wanted to revamp the interior. We landscaped the inside of our store with pavers and mulch. Then in a spur-the-moment decision, we also put in a pond. With the help of our other volunteers, we were able to complete the landscaping. We also gathered antique items to use in our new display areas. The entire project could not have turned out any better! The store looks wonderful!

With the grand opening of Main street happening next week, we still have some work to do. We have two huge walk-in displays surrounding our main enterance that could use some rework, and we need to make a new store sign.
Wish me luck!

Pictures - The picture at the top of this post is the new view of our store when you come in the main enterance. To the left is a picture of a section of our extened Droll Yankees line. To the right is a picture of the landscaping and merchandise surrounding our porch. And below is a picture of two of my favorite products at Nature's Backyard! Please forgive me, there was a smudge on my camera lens, and it shows up in the majority of these pictures.