Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Rant About Lines (aka Queues)

Two posts in one day - this might be a first. But, I couldn't hold back, I just had to rant.

I, like most women, love to shop. But, I hate HATE waiting in lines. Especially lines that are arranged inefficiently. As an industrial engineer in undergrad, I took a course at USC, ISE 331, that included queuing theory. It was actually one of my favorite classes and I learned about efficient ways to set up queues. It's complicated and I know that my comments below simplify it, but bear with me. ;)

Today, as my Mom and I walked up to check out at a department store, there were 3 cashiers open and no line. We opted to stand in a location that didn't commit us to any line, naturally. A line formed behind us until one woman asked what cashier we were waiting for which led to a cashier stating that there should be one line for each of the three check out stands. This caused near chaos as everyone tried to identify the fastest line and re-shuffle.

This makes me want to scream. Anyone who has taken a queuing theory class has learned that the way to minimize average wait time of all customers is to offer one line that feeds ALL cashiers. ONE LINE. This then balances out those people that take a year to find their credit cards or who bring up items without price tags and allows no one to be "punished" for getting behind the slow pokes.

I know some people could argue with me about the details of service type, number of cashiers, etc... but, honestly, this is the way it should be. Group similar customers and put them in one stupid line. Just Do It. I promise, not only will it get customers through the lines on average the fastest but it will also limit the anxiety customers feel when trying to pick that "fastest" line.

Rant. Over.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Winter Break is a Great Time to... Watch Football!

Ok, Ok, I know I probably should have said something like spend time with family or reconnect with old friends or enjoy the spirit of the season. But, bear with me. I was in Europe for all of football season so I am doing my best to watch as much football as I possibly can while back in the US and the last 2 weeks of December happen to be a great time to do that.

I must admit that not every game is exciting or one I'm even remotely interested in, but I can always find joy out of making fun of the announcers, watching terrible cheerleader squads and yelling at the overpaid NFL players who can't kick/catch/throw no matter which game. Yes, it's true. I'm a nut when it comes to football.

But, the absolute best part of my winter break and the culmination of the football season was the fact that USC landed in a Bowl Game 1 1/2 hours from where I was spending Christmas break and on a day I could actually GO to the game. So, I went. Yay!

The game was a blast. It was rainy and cold, a bit sloppy play, my cell phone died and there was a flood in our original seats. But, I enjoyed every minute of it and am so glad that I was able to make it to one football game this season and, that USC won!

And, now, some pictures:

AT&T Park - normally where the San Francisco Giants play, but for this game, it was transformed into a football stadium!
I *heart* Kettle Corn at football games. This is a photo taken after I removed my poncho and discovered I had "saved" some kettle corn from the bag I was eating earlier. Naturally, I ate those saved pieces. ;)

USC Won! That's the best part.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tschüss Deutschland

It was just 6 1/2 months ago when I showed up here in Germany with no idea what I was getting myself into except that I was living in Europe until December. It's now less than 48 hours before Drew and I get on a plane back to the US. I am happy to return "home." Missing the US is hard to explain. I actually am an incredibly independent person and thought living in Europe would be a piece of cake. But, I was so wrong. I have become 100 times more patriotic than I was before I left. And, I place a lot more value on being on the same continent as family and friends than I ever thought I would.

But, I am still very sad to leave Germany. I am sad to close this chapter of my life. I would venture to say that these 6 months have been both the most incredible and the most challenging for my mental sanity. :) But, I loved it. So, on that note, there are actually many things that I Love About Germany. Here are some of them:

Gelato & Chocolate. Wow, I had no idea how much the German's loved their sweets, but they do. And rightly so, they are good! So good, that I will in fact declare that Germany's Gelato is BETTER THAN Italy's. Insane, I know. But I spent about 2 weeks in Italy and had some Gelato while there and all I know is that the best Gelato I had was in Germany. Also, they have Kinder candies here which are typically for kids, but there are these Happy Hippos that are awesome. Awesome. Thank you Germany for giving me a severe sweet tooth.

The Autobahn & Driving. As I posted once before I learned how to drive a manual when I got here. It is so much fun. Also, I like having no speed limit. I drove over 100 mph. It was awesome. it would have been a lot better if we had an Audi instead of a Nissan. But, oh well. Either way I loved the no speed limits and the fun associated with a manual transmission. Oh, and even w/ no speed limits, Drew and I still managed to get 3 tickets... Parking Tickets. Ha.

German's Love & Abide by their Rules, but they also Lack Some That I Appreciate. I get it, I like rules, I like organization. But, come on, when the walk signal says stop but there are no cars coming, I cross. The German's don't. It's insane. Groups of people stand at the lights while no cars pass and don't cross the street until the light says to. This stressed me out because suddenly, I feel GUILTY when I jaywalk. So, instead, I waste my precious time Just. Standing. There. I get it, but I actually don't. I believe some rules are made to be broken. With that said, though, they do lack rules in areas that I love... Drinking anywhere and anytime. No Problem. Speeding. Also, no problem. Swearing on TV and Radio. Not a big deal. So, I guess it balances out.

And, finally, my favorite thing about Germany... the Festivals (aka. Awesome. Parties.) It is said that in Germany there is a festival in some city every day. We went to beer festivals, wine festivals, city festivals and Christmas festivals. We drank and ate currywurst and danced and totally rocked the festivals. The atmosphere was so incredible at every one we went to, even when it was raining or freezing cold. I love drinking. I love eating. I love dancing. Therefore. I. Love. Festivals.

And with that, my dear Germany, I bid you Auf Wiedersehen.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Is it possible for 6 months to go by that fast?

I guess it is...

This time next week I will be back in the US and my LGO internship will be complete. Well, at least the working in an office part will be complete. The thesis writing part might take an extra day or two. Ha.

I am excited for a... hold your breath... 5 week break before there are any requirements for me to be back on the MIT campus. The first 2 1/2 weeks will be spent celebrating the holidays in California. 10 days in Northern California followed by 7 days in Southern California will offer everything a girl could want after 6 months in Germany... warmer winter weather, English, In-N-Out Burger, American football.

First, though, I must get through this last week of my LGO internship... (aka. The Time When Jo Sees How Many Places She Can See in Europe in 6 Months).

Monday, December 7, 2009

It's confirmed; German's are as crazy football fans as you think!

On Saturday night Drew and I went to see the Eintracht Frankfurt football (soccer) team play in Frankfurt against Mainz. It was absolutely insane, but... I. Loved. It.

There's no denying the fact that I am a crazy sports fan. I jump up and down in front of the TV screaming when both good and bad things happen. I even set my alarm to get up at 3 AM on a Sunday earlier this football season so that I could watch the big USC/OSU game. BUT, the German fan's are for real.

I have some photos and videos in my Picasa Albums linked on the right that barely do it justice. But, here is my attempt to list my top 5 favorite experiences while at the game:

5. Police. In riot gear. Yeah, for real. Apparently it was a big rivalry game and they were prepared for craziness to ensue pre and post game time. For good and bad, I did not witness any riot gear in use.

4. The Rowdy Section. Standing room only. Die hard fans. Flags required. (There were flags in the stands seriously 20 feet tall!) I am sure you must be able to sing/chant every cheer (see #2) to get in. And, I am also pretty sure that you need to consume a minimum of 4 beers before entering. This kinda reminds me of the student section at USC football games, except then when we were under 21 drinking it actually was not legal. ;)

3. Finish a beer bottle? Throw it down the stairs. I don't totally understand it, but they did it.

2. Cheers: we all do it and we do it for the ENTIRE game. Seriously it was non stop cheering and it was loud, and it was AWESOME. I only learned the cheer for the score, it goes something like this:
Announcer: Eintracht Frankfurt
Crowd: Zwei
Announcer: Mainz
Crowd: Null
Announcer: Danke
Crowd: Bitte

1. Fireworks... in the stands. Everyone loves a good fireworks display and my favorite holidays are those that include fireworks. So, why not bring it up close and personal... like IN THE STANDS. The Mainz fans set off some bright red lights in the middle of their rowdy section. And the security guards didn't even care!

My one regret? We didn't go to a game sooner. I could totally buy into this crazy football fan action in Germany. ;)

Sunday, December 6, 2009

How I Plan to ENJOY Documentation

So, it turns out I REALLY do not like to document things. I find it boring. I love to create something new and exciting and "solve a problem" but if I have to WRITE about it, I become unhappy pretty quickly. I have had to document a lot during the last 2 weeks at work (and for the remaining 2 weeks) and my fellow NV&D interns are getting instant messages from me nearly every hour complaining about how bored I am and posing questions such as "Why do none of my Facebook friends post updates when I am at work and looking for distractions?" On Wednesday evening, it got worse. I was in the taxi from Florence to Siena mulling over the next 2 days of training that I was doing for the inventory model I built when I suddenly realized that my thesis is a whole other type of documentation that will last til April! As a good friend of mine says, "Panic at the Disco!" Ok, I am being a bit dramatic, but this is what my life is right now.

Anyway, I kept pondering documentation for most of the taxi ride (yeah, really) and then it hit me... I love to blog. I like talking, I like typing, I like sharing my experiences, I actually really like to DOCUMENT MY LIFE. So, from that moment I decided to put aside my documentation complaints and approach documenting my inventory model and writing my thesis with the zeal I approach writing blog posts.

To my MIT thesis advisers,
I apologize if my thesis now reads something like this: After stressing over how to set up the calculations in the model so that they aren't obnoxious, I pulled out one of the books from my Supply Chain classes (a book that I am pretty sure I never read while I was actually IN class) and tried out method XYZ.... Method XYZ totally sucked, so next I decided to try method LMN and WooHoo! it worked, so that's why that method is in the inventory model.

On a side note: I really need to work on diversifying my transition words. I overuse the word "so."