My Own Personal Bowser

I’m graduating on Saturday, which is one of the most exciting, long awaited, events in my entire life. I am a part of the unique 11-semester plan. Because of the structure of the Mizzou Accounting school, I’ll be getting my minor, major, and master’s all on the same day.

That means, if I, for whatever reason, didn’t finish this semester, I go home with nothing. That’s very unlikely at this point in time, but so goes the structure of the Accounting program.

I still need to fight Bowser though. If you’re unfamiliar with the Super Mario games, #1 –  Bowser is the boss at the end that you must defeat in order to win the game, #2 – Where have you been?

My Bowser is the CPA Exam.

Yes, I’m excited about graduating, moving to St. Louis, and starting a job, but the CPA is just looming. It doesn’t matter how many stars, coins, lives, degrees, jobs, etc., without beating the boss, the CPA, my ceiling as an accountant is low.

I’m taking the exam in four parts, starting in January. I’ve already begun preparing, and this boss is going to be a doozey. Mizzou has prepared me well, but nothing is given.

So long story short, I’m excited to be graduating, but I may not be able to show it until I pass the CPA in a few months. If and when that happens, then I’ll celebrate. But as of now, there’s work to be done.

And Becker (my review course) knows there’s work to be done.

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We Got To Learn To Read

I did it. It took me six months, but I did it. For the first time in over two years, I read an entire book for pleasure. What was this book about? How we, as a population, can’t read anymore. Definition of irony.

I’m a college student. I’m obviously literate.  This book isn’t discussing the loss of the actual ability to read; it’s about losing the ability to focus our entire attention to a single piece of literature, or anything for that matter, for an extended period of time.

The book is called “The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to our Brains,” by Nicholas Carr, and it says the Internet is what is causing our inability to read. I think he makes a very interesting point. The Internet is feeding our need for information input on a level that books, or any other medium, cannot provide. How many different links do you hit when surfing the Internet for ten minutes? 15? 25? Even 50? Books can’t keep up. They’re too boring.

“I can’t get my students to read whole books anymore,” says Katherine Hayles, a Duke University professor- an English professor. She teaches literature.

Personally, I know I haven’t ever read an entire class’s reading assignments for the whole semester. I would love to hear from a student who has. I’ve had classes based on reading books and writing papers on these books. Never read all the assignments.  I can’t do it. When I do try to read, my mind can’t focus on the page. I find myself with that “What did I just read about?” thought at the end of many pages.

“Sitting down and going through a book cover to cover doesn’t make sense,” says Joe O’Shea, a philosophy major, former student body president of Florida State, and a 2008 recipient of the Rhodes Scholarship. “I don’t read books. I go to Google where I can absorb relevant information quickly.”

If the Internet is changing the way we read, it’s certainly changing the way we write.

When was the last time you checked out a book from a library? In my four years at Mizzou, I’ve checked out a total of two books for two paper assignments, and that’s only because a hard reference was required.  I’m a humanities major and I just flat out don’t check out books for references. Google is just way too efficient.

“I stopped assigning traditional research papers after the Internet boom,” says Bob Flanagan, who has been a professor of Religious Studies here at Mizzou for over 25 years, “and began assigning essays requiring critical reflection on more specific aspects of the course.”

Carr compares the Internet to technological advances like the map and the clock that have completely changed the way we perceive the world around us, but with much more negative consequences. We don’t need to think any more because computers do it for us.

“As we come to rely on computers to mediate our understanding of the world, it is our own intelligence that flattens into artificial intelligence.”

Want more information on this subject? Google it.

Talking Politics and Religion

In my quest to find other subjects to blog about besides movies and beer, I find myself just sitting in the new student center at Mizzou catching up on reading and tea. My reading consisted of a book called “Religion in American Politics,” for my Junior seminar religion class. Most of my former religion classes had very interesting books, from “Jesus, the Bible, and Homosexuality” to “Religion and Popular Culture in America,” they usually keep me entertained. This one now is especially interesting because it talkes about the two aspects that people aren’t supposed to talk about, Religion and Politics. And it discusses them together.

Ask the ol’ girlfriend Blair, I love talking about religion. I’ll always remember the late night at Steak ‘n Shake in high school with two Catholic guys vs. two Baptist girls. It was great to finally hear first hand what others believe and good to know you can defend your own faith. There were many “that sounds pretty ridiculous,” but it was all done with an open mind. And in the end, there wasn’t a “winner” in the religious arena, just friends that were glad they could ask questions they’ve always wondered.

Ask the roommates Dan and Evan, political arguments can be tough too. In the end, it did become more of an argument instead of a discussion, and I had to stand up and yell, “One more point each! Then we are done!” And I decided that even though there is a major called Political Science, politics are not an exact science at all. I find politics more difficult to discuss than religion, maybe that’s because I don’t keep up 100% with the news from DC, but who does.

Back to the book for religion class. I just started it, but chapter one is a very good insight to the beginnings of America and how religion has shaped that. Are we a Christian nation? Maybe. Is our government guilty of religious persecution at some point in history? Absolutely. There’s been a lot of change from those beginnings, but I think ultimately we won’t be able to answer a lot of the questions people want to ask. We can discuss those topics though to get a better understanding of America and religion.

Ultimately, we all want the best for America, ourselves, and each other (I hope). There are many ways to get there, but I think communication and discussion are extremely important in knowing what your path is to getting there. So talk it up. Ask me about religion and politics and I’ll be happy to converse.

Ireland Business Model

Bad service, Bad Quality, but Cheap as HELL

Anybody that has traveled around Europe has probably flown Ryanair . It’s the “low fares” airline. It’s truly the benchmark for a low cost business model. It was more expensive for me to take a taxi from Griffith College Dublin to the airport than it was for my flight from Dublin to London. This company is finding genious ways to charge customers for rinky-dink stuff ultimately lower the price of initial airfare.  They eventually want to make enough money on the side to be able to have free airfare. Some of the features of the Ryanair flying experience include:

  • Charging 40 Euro to print a boarding pass for you. You’re supposed to print it out online before you arrive at the airport. We met some American friends in the Dublin airport on the same flight as Edinburgh as us. They didn’t know about this and they were FURIOUS.
  • Non-Reclining seats. Having seats in the airplane that do not recline cuts down on cleaning time for planes between flights. This feature, or lack thereof, really doesn’t matter because you won’t find a Ryanair flight longer than 4 hours, and the average is flight is 90 minutes.
  • Charging for food and drinks during the flight. Other airlines just build it into the ticket. And again, the short flights make this more of a non issue.
  • Flying to a city’s secondary airport. This cuts down on costs to operate out of a certain city or region.
  • Minimal check in desks open. In London, we had to wait 2 hours just to get a stamp on our boarding pass because they had 2 desks open for about 200 people wanting to check in and check luggage.
  • Making their cabin crew pay for their uniforms. Kinda funny.
  • Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary even has joked that he has the pilots turn up the turbulence when the drink sales aren’t doing so hot. Wouldn’t put it past him.

Potential Plans for the future?

  • Charging to use the bathroom
  • “Fat Tax” charging overweight customers more
  • In-flight gambling
  • Standing room tickets

They get away with these gimmicks because of cheap prices. It works. Everyone flys Ryanair. It is the largest airline in the world when it comes to international passengers. Something tells me they don’t pay for the best aviators in the world either. Everybody in our study abroad group at one point in time has had major problems with ears not popping. The landings are the worst I’ve ever experienced. They are so consistently bad, that the whole cabin claps after a safe landing. One flight, we clapped twice.

Now for the positives, Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary really is a phenomenal business man. I have a lot of respect for him. The man has a goal and he’s achieving it. O’Leary took over Ryanair when it was nothing and made it the most successful airline in Europe. He took a media beating when he announced plans to charge for the bathroom. His reasoning is this: O’Leary wants to remove 2 of the three bathrooms in every airplane. How do you get rid of the line for the single bathroom? Charge people for it. That way, people do their business before ever boarding the plane. The space avail by removing 2 bathrooms will be filled by 6 additional seats on every plane, ultimately lowering airfare for everyone by 4%. Seems okay by me! His ideas seem crazy, but who can blame him for perusing his goal of free airfare. I say reach for the stars, Mikey.

My second example is Pennys. This is a college girl’s dream. Super cheap, relatively stylish clothing. I bought a hoodie there for 9 euro ($12), a bowtie for 3, socks for 1, shoes for 9, a shirt for 3, and a onesie (yes, a onesie… be prepared Pi Kapp) for 10. Seeing a girl in Pennys is like seeing the T-Rex from Jurassic Park . They go nuts for all the shoes, jewelry, tops, everything. Shoes from 3 euro! The place is messy, and the clothes are’t good quality. My shoes are already ripping after a couple weeks. But again, people will put up with ANYTHING for low prices.

I’m well aware of this phenomenon. Wal-Mart is an example. But I find these two extraordinary examples of people putting up with a lot of crap just to save a buck (especially with Ryanair). Wal-Mart is cheap, but people also go there because it literally has everything.

Check out Ryanair CEO Michael O’Leary’s thoughts. This is a great video.

He almost says “Fat Tax” haha.

So there you have it. Agree or not (you probably don’t), this is what I think I think.