james connors

Learn to Let It Go...

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Maybe it's that time.

How do you know when it is time to let go?  I find this to be one of the hardest things to do in my life.  Whether it be parting ways with that extra snack that you were about to eat, or saying goodbye to a close friend.  Sometimes the RIGHT thing isn't fun or interesting or even popular.

I believe that the way that we make decisions is a direct reflection of who we are as individuals.  So many times in our lives we give into the group, let our "friends" influence our choices, or otherwise forfeit our ability to choose for ourselves and be independent.

I'm making a choice.  I'm letting go.

Maybe it was the crappy weekend that you had.  Perhaps it was a fight you had with a best friend.  Perhaps you were let down by someone that you thought you could trust.  No matter what the issue was, it's time to let go.  Dwelling on the past doesn't bring more insight - just pain... especially when it's a bad memory.

I have made many mistakes in my life, done a lot of things that I wish I could take back.  That said, I am starting to let go.  The United States Air Force Academy was a really hard and sucky place to live.  I decided that the straight up misery I experience wasn't worth the end result (I had decided I didn't want to fly anymore).  So I left.

After leaving, I had to learn how to be a human again - I was a robot.  Cadet James Connors now needed to become a normal person again.  For a long time I hurt and was down about my decision.  I had nightmares about the sucky parts of the Academy, the affects it had on my life and my relationships.  Eventually they started to fade intot he noise.

Now, I only remember the good parts of the Academy.  I have let the bad stuff go.

While in Ireland, I had repeated dreams of going back to USAFA and rejoining.  The visions would leave me restless in the morning because I honestly wish I could go back most of the time.  Then again, most of the time, I don't remember the bad parts.  So it's up to me to remind myself of why I went and why I left.

Everyone has challenging situations and experiences in their lives.  Some of them turn out really well, some totally suck and still other scome out with a mix of both.  Let go of that nasty bits.  They aren't going to help you move forward with you life.  Do yourself and everyone around a favor, let it go.  Just be.  Stop worrying - you can't change it now.

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A Weekend Of Lasts

Trim Castle  

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This is our last weekend in Ireland...

This thought screamed through my head this morning as I woke up.  Tomorrow is the last full Saturday that we'll be in the country, the last Sunday, Monday et all, following too.  This weekend is last bit of our European adventure.   I'm left stunned at all we did.  I'm stunned with all that I've done.  I came here saying "no judgement" and "no regrets" so it's been a few days that I've been thinking back through trying to evaluate my successes on that account.

It's time to remember the great times, the trying times, the hard times, the late nights of laughs, and the early mornings of tears.  It's been a trip filled with a lot of firsts and a lot of lasts.  Funny how the time seems to have been stolen back away from us.  It was just yesterday that I was feeling the same bits of anxiety as I prepared to embark on this adventure in January... I have those feelings again.  What will Boston, the US, the summer have in store for us - for me?

At the same time, I feel myself getting ramped up for production.  I fell into this semester from the highest functioning lifestyle that I've ever experienced.  Needless to say, my Irish lifestyle did not match the fervor of that pace.  Having completed a number of phone interviews in the last few days, the first few conference calls for Accenture and some student groups, I'm reminded what it feels like to be back "on edge."  Listening to my fellow interns address the analysts on the call while my mic was muted gave me the first example of how we Americans are always "on edge."  They sounded tense, wound up but held back - like a mouse trap ready to spring.  Is that really how we are?

This weekend will be busy with seeing my Irish friends and saying goodbye to them.  We have the International Street Performers Championship going on too - I hope to make it over to Marrion Square for that one.  Here's one that I never thought I'd find here in Ireland - International Gay Rugby Championship.  I was on the bus with one team and helped steer them to the pitches the other day.  In any event, they will be playing for an international cup this weekend just a few hundred meters away from our accomodation.

My projects are on their way to completion.  I was able to collect over 115 responses to my online survey regarding student experience - that was amazing!  Thank you to all that participated.  That will be going into my research project that I will present to my office on Tuesday and hand in a report on Thursday.  Also due on Thursday will be my research project comparing the Irish and American teaching methods at University as well as a internship journal.  So, needless to say there will be a lot of working to be done... and of course, as soon as I say that the roommates are telling me that we're going to some gardens.  So stay tuned for further info, I guess.

PS - photos are now up at my new flickr account.

 

 

 

 

15 Days To Go

I promise that I will write more... I promise, promise, promise.

As the headline says, our program has 15 days remaining before we leave the Emerald Isle for the harsh realities of the United States. I don't mean that to be a negative statement but rather a sobering fact. We've been in a world where a dollar means nothing, where cars run on the wrong side of the road, where it rains every day (almost). Returning to Boston is going to be a shock to our system much the same way arriving in Dublin was - but we're "normal here" (not many of us are actually normal to begin with so... I'm not sure how to put that into thought, sorry).

Our impending departure illicits a whole plethora of emotions, mostly panic. There are a mulitude of things to wrap up here before I can even think about heading home. Our internships have projects that need to be delivered (more on mine in a few), we have a portfolio and research project for BU that no one has even looked at. On top of that, I just don't want to leave. I like the abstract world that we live in. My decisions here don't necessarily have real-world impact. Allow me to unpack that.

First, our grades don't matter. They do, but they don't. Whatever mark that we earn from University College Dublin is then passed through a matrix to yield a conversion to the "American" system. That matrix tells me that a 70% is an A... you tell me if you wouldn't laugh a little bit. Euros are funny money. Long past are the days that we were converting the currency in our minds. Pints are well over $7 USD and just hopping on the bus feels like an investment (over $2.70 each way). On top of all that, I speak differently. It's sloppy, inprecise, and sort of bugs me. I'll say something such as, "Oh, he was acting like a fool, like" and my questions no longer have the proper syllabic emphasis, e.g. questions don't end with your voice being "high" we sort of put it in the middle.

Did I mention that my rambling has gotten worse? That sentence was how many lines long... geez.

The moral of the story is that we're changed but it's as if we're in a playground. Our choices here don't impact our career (in theory). Mostly, I'm thinking of my internship with that thought. I'm using this experience as an opportunity to practice being at a real internship, practice for Accenture and EMC this summer. It's actually really helpful to see what I'll be able to get away with and what won't fly even whenconsidering what the different expectations will hold. I guess it's like I get to expell all the bad habits now... to include blogging while at work (oops).

So now that the kvetching is over, let's talk shop a little bit. I've been living in another culture for so long, I sometimes forget that all of you are sort of watching this game from the bleechers. I love Ireland. Despite the ups and downs in my personal life and the various other concerns that have come up, this semester will go down in my Wikipedia page as one of the best experiences ever. I am eternally grateful to my parents, Paul, Laura, and Brian, for their unending support, latenight phonecalls (my time, not theirs) - I could not have been here in Dublin without their support.

By the way, remember that melodramatic post a while ago about needing to find that "BIG" answer... some sort of wholistic change?  Well I found it.  Let me tell you a secret - it was with me the whole time.  Basically, I got a dose of reality - some would call it a good smattering of perspective.  Not only have I finally grown to see my parents as good friends instead of those people that try to embarrass me all the time, but I've found myself.  I've found the internal value in myself that doesn't require external validation for me to know that I'm me and that's really ok.

While my world no longer plays like a Las Vegas slot machine, I can tell there are going to be many, many new adventures to be had and all I have to do is be patient for them.  Hopefully you all will be a part of that with me.  I intend to quintuple efforts for this blog between now and my return.  There will be a few post-return entries that will hopefully have some interesting stories.  Then I'll be archiving these posts into my other blog, http://www.jamesmconnors.com under their own tags so they don't disappear when the jamesindublin domain expires.  Thank you for stopping by - I hope to see you next time!

 

 

Starting A "Real" Job

I've started a new chapter in my time here in Ireland. With exams now over, it's time that I turned my eyes away from the pages of notes and stick my head into the wild world of business. Yes, that's right, I'm at my new job... internship, work placement - whatever you want to call it. I just posted up a bit on how the whole exam thing went down... very interesting indeed. I'm currently mooching my lunch as much as possible and have the entire room of the office to myself. So, what am I doing? I'm working as a management intern at Campus IT ltd. Their main offices are in Dublin, Ireland with another office in the UK. It's an interesting company - they build software applications on top of Oracle database programs and sell them to colleges and universities. The real wonder is how they can exist when the market is so small. Since there are probably as many college in all of Ireland as there is in the Boston metro zone, I would say that their market is rather small.

What am I doing here? Well, it's not computers and it's not finance either. I'm actually going to be running a research project on what makes up a student's experience. Since their market is primarily the administration of these large colleges and universities, the student experience they talk about is the one that is tied to the differing models of administrative back-ends. I think it could be an interesting project and will definitely be a good conversation piece for future interviews. My role will be lead project manager, interviewer, head researcher, presenter, and coffee guy.

In reality, though, I'll have the opportunity to stretch this oddly creative brain of mine to try new things and experiment with the way I think. Having no background in sales, marketing, or market research, I wouldn't think that I'd be a good fit for the role BUT we had that amazing thing called the Cross Functional Core Curriculum! Hurray for Boston University School of Management and your ability to make me stretch my mind further and further every year.

I'll keep you all posted on the outcomes of the research and periodic updates for sure!

Exams Are Over

I last wrote about a week ago about how studying early wasn't so much fun. Well, it's not and apparently my mind doesn't like to work that way either - early, that is. Instead of following the detailed study plans that I generated, I was much more inclined to work on the "fun" stuff. The fun stuff being my blog, podcast, personal branding strategy, networking, etc etc etc. Basically, I found every opportunity to not study that any college student would be able to manage. It was brutal... but that wasn't even the worst of it. Saturday's exam was, in my mind, going to be the hardest - the mathematical modelling for decision making. I had extensive study guides, past exam papers, notes, problems, and all the rest printed out... all for nothing. The final exam was basically the exam that the instructor had set in 2005... not impressed. I hardly had to think about it since we had already worked through it, just adjusting my work for the new numbers (he did change a couple of those).

OH! Before I forget, let me say a little bit about UCD exams. Basically, imagine a large conference hall at least two football fields in area. Now, fill that hall with 4,000 desks and chairs in rows. Now, place 4,000 students into those chairs, an "invigilator" talking over a PA system, more invigilators pacing up and down the aisles in random intervals and a dead silence. That might be about what we experienced - it was truly something out of Harry Potter.

Monday's exam was a breeze - the Management of Information Systems comes to me as if it were hard-coded into my brain, gosh I love technology! Unfortunately, this particular exam didn't get over until after 7pm leaving me scant hours before the finance exam the next day. At the same time, two of my close friends from softball were headed back to Virginia the next morning ?. It was a sad night indeed. I did, however, pop over for a while to hang out and say goodbye. I dominated at charades but was constantly killed off when playing mafia. In any event, I made it back to my dorm by mid-night and faced a tough decision. Continue to study until I was tired and then sleep for a bit or sleep now and get up really early. Knowing my night-owl tendencies, I opted for the former option working until just about 5am, sleeping for 3 hours, getting up at 8, walking to the convenience store for some coffee and breakfast, getting home, popping the first redbull of the day and then carrying on the studying.

I was furiously trying to fill my little head with knowledge all the while under the gun that I hadn't realized it was going to be so hard. After the first exam, I figured that this class would be no different... I was wrong. Needless to say I didn't feel as confident as I usually like to when it comes to exams but I was able to answer enough questions that I think I did reasonably well (plus I only needed to get 45% of the points on the exam to pass the class with a B).

Microsoft Selling Away Office 2007 Ultimate for $60 - 90% Off

ATTENTION STUDENTS I wanted to send a note off quickly to let everyone know that Microsoft is selling Office 2007 Ultimate, their flagship productivity suite for $60.  That's about 90% off the retail cost - all you need is a .edu email account.

LINK: http://snurl.com/27xux [this is a non-affiliate link]

Get everything you need: Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook, Access, Infopath, Publisher, Groove, and OneNote.  It's a great opportunity if you haven't picked up a productivity suite lately.

An Essay on the Value of a Degree

I wanted to throw a link up to send you all over to my www.jamesmconnors.com blog to check out the latest post.  It is a short essay about the value of Irish educational systems in comparison to American systems.  You can find the article at http://www.jamesmconnors.com/pontification/irish-education-or-american-you-decide. In other news, I've posted up more photos to the Ireland photo set at www.flickr.com/photos/nalgene1080 please take a minute to look through them when you can.  I'll be tagging and describing them in the near future.

The Gratitude Campaign

I wanted to take a few minutes to blog a really great organization that I’ve found. It’s called the Gratitude Campaign and the mission is simple - say thank you.  They have a very nice video that explains everything about it but let me share why I feel so strongly about this organization.

Some of you may know that I spent some time at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado as an Active Duty Air Force cadet.  In that time I came to a new understanding of what it meant to love my country, to be proud of my job, and be willing to give it all up so that others may live in freedom.  I’m no longer affiliated with that institution, nor do I hold any current ties to the military.

However, I do have friends there.  I have friends in Colorado, Florida, Arizona, Kansas, and all of the other States.  I have other friends that are in the Middle East, or on a boat on an Ocean somewhere.  All of these friends are in the profession of arms, they are the professional fighting men and women that serve our country without asking for more than some shoes to wear and some food to eat.  I also know that they don’t get much more than that.

In the Vietnam era, our country was fighting a highly unpopular war.  The country was more or less in revolt about our involvement in that conflict and hated everything attached to it.  So it was no surprise when riots welcomed home soldiers returning from the fight of their lives, shouting their slogans and hatred at the men and women who had put their lives on the line to do as their country had asked them to.  This concept rocks me to my core.  I understand the politics around our current military engagement and I say forget about those details.  You don’t have to support the war, but I think you should support the men and women that are serving our country.  That doesn’t mean you have to go out and buy cell phones for every soldier or even offer to make a dinner for the family while the soldier is away.  It’s as easy as saying thank you.

I’ve found a simple thank you to be one of the most meaningful gestures that anyone has ever offered to me while I’ve been in uniform either for the Air Force or for the United States Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol.  Immediately following the tragedies of 9.11, I can remember people opening doors, buying meals, and saying thank you for my service.  I felt embarrassed at the time because I didn’t think I deserved the thanks but they weren’t thinking of me, James Connors - it was the uniform, the soldiers they were thanking.  Now, six an a half years after that day, we’re starting to forget about those soldiers that are still away from their families and friends.  We’re forgetting about the men and women holed up in the sand.  We’re overlooking those people that are fighting for their lives in a battle to keep our country free from fear and terror.

So, this is what I ask: please go to the website, www.gratitudecampaign.org and watch the video.  Then, the next time you see those whom have been fighting for your rights and your freedom, give them the sign.  It doesn’t take words or grand gestures.  You don’t have to buy their lunch or write them letters.  Just give thanks in any way you can, as simple as a sign.

For more information about The Gratitude Campaign visit their website at www.gratitudecampaign.com.

The Gratitude Campaign

I wanted to take a few minutes to blog a really great organization that I've found. It's called the Gratitude Campaign and the mission is simple - say thank you.  They have a very nice video that explains everything about it but let me share why I feel so strongly about this organization. Some of you may know that I spent some time at the United States Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado as an Active Duty Air Force cadet.  In that time I came to a new understanding of what it meant to love my country, to be proud of my job, and be willing to give it all up so that others may live in freedom.  I'm no longer affiliated with that institution, nor do I hold any current ties to the military.

However, I do have friends there.  I have friends in Colorado, Florida, Arizona, Kansas, and all of the other States.  I have other friends that are in the Middle East, or on a boat on an Ocean somewhere.  All of these friends are in the profession of arms, they are the professional fighting men and women that serve our country without asking for more than some shoes to wear and some food to eat.  I also know that they don't get much more than that.

In the Vietnam era, our country was fighting a highly unpopular war.  The country was more or less in revolt about our involvement in that conflict and hated everything attached to it.  So it was no surprise when riots welcomed home soldiers returning from the fight of their lives, shouting their slogans and hatred at the men and women who had put their lives on the line to do as their country had asked them to.  This concept rocks me to my core.  I understand the politics around our current military engagement and I say forget about those details.  You don't have to support the war, but I think you should support the men and women that are serving our country.  That doesn't mean you have to go out and buy cell phones for every soldier or even offer to make a dinner for the family while the soldier is away.  It's as easy as saying thank you.

I've found a simple thank you to be one of the most meaningful gestures that anyone has ever offered to me while I've been in uniform either for the Air Force or for the United States Air Force Auxiliary, Civil Air Patrol.  Immediately following the tragedies of 9.11, I can remember people opening doors, buying meals, and saying thank you for my service.  I felt embarrassed at the time because I didn't think I deserved the thanks but they weren't thinking of me, James Connors - it was the uniform, the soldiers they were thanking.  Now, six an a half years after that day, we're starting to forget about those soldiers that are still away from their families and friends.  We're forgetting about the men and women holed up in the sand.  We're overlooking those people that are fighting for their lives in a battle to keep our country free from fear and terror.

So, this is what I ask: please go to the website, www.gratitudecampaign.org and watch the video.  Then, the next time you see those whom have been fighting for your rights and your freedom, give them the sign.  It doesn't take words or grand gestures.  You don't have to buy their lunch or write them letters.  Just give thanks in any way you can, as simple as a sign.

For more information about The Gratitude Campaign visit their website at www.gratitudecampaign.com.

James In Dublin Newsletter

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Well, the Eagle (that's me) has landed! I've safely arrived here in the Emerald Isle and I couldn't be happier! It's rainy, windy, cold, and expensive but I'm away and having a blast. Of course, I miss you guys back home and all too ;-) . I hope this email finds you all well and good back in the USA where a dollar really is a dollar and not 60 cents.

This newsletter is going to be an occasional note put out by yours truly to try to keep all of you that aren't IM'ing or Skyping me on a regular basis. Speaking of which, you can find all the ways to contact me at http://www.jamesindublin.com/contact. Feel free to call, text, whatever you want and I'll try to respond as soon as I can.

So, what have I been doing?! Other than starting the first two days of classes, it's been an exercise in thriftiness, Guinness, and meeting WAY too many people all at once. Some of my observations thus far: if it's not raining, it's windy; if it's not Guinness it's not beer; the only way to meet people (in a platonic sense of course) is to go "out" - a.k.a. pub/club; the Euro makes my savings look insignificant. If you hadn't figured it out yet, it's expensive to live abroad and the current state of the Dollar puts us Americans at a HUGE purchasing power disadvantage.

Enough complaining. It's been an absolute dream to be here, it really has. Sometimes I have to step back and realize that I'm taking classes thousands of miles away from my best friends, my favorite haunts, and the familiarity of Commonwealth Avenue. I'm sure that the Dublin City Centre will become a new fixture of familiarity at some point it the not so distant future, hopefully, and I'd be more than happy to show it to you if you decide to come visit. Officially I can't host anyone in our apartment but the reality is that there's space enough on the floor and my room has its own bathroom with shower.

Let's go out with a story - this tale comes from the first Saturday we were in country... the 3rd night since arriving. Our group of 11 BU students were on our way to a pub in Raneleigh, just north of campus. It was latish - for me anyway - at about 10pm. As we walked along the sidewalk as a group, I felt a sharp pain in my arm like someone had hit me with a stick or something - come to find out it was an egg. We were, I was, egged in the first 72 hours of being in this country, which is supposed to be filled with some of the nicest people in the world. Let me tell you, Mr. I drive a car on the wrong side of the road and throw eggs at Americans, we were none too pleased with your mischief. But really... were we THAT obvious to the locals?!

I hope you found this entertaining - remember to sign up with the link to the newsletter for further fun tales and antics. This message will be posted up on the main site, http://www.jamesindublin.com too in case you delete this pretty little message before you get a chance to click the links. There's a sign up box in the right hand navigation of the website as well.

Cheers,

James Connors

International Student Extraordinaire

A Beautiful Start to a Green Year

There's less than 48 hours before I am speeding across the Atlantic Ocean on my way towards what I am sure will be a VERY exciting semester studying abroad in Dublin, Ireland.  That's right, I, James Connors, will be spending roughly the next half year studying abroad in a the Emerald Isle.

Ok, James, big deal - why am I reading this?  Well, I'm going to be using this as sort of a travel journal.  I'll try to write often with personal experiences, insights, trip recaps and the like.  I plan to have this as sort of the nerve center for those people that want to keep up on me or as one friend put it "trans-atlantic stalk" me as I take part in this new and different place.  Check out the different pages linked above for more information about the blog, contact information, schedules and more!

Let me throw out some basics:

  • Day of departure - January 16, 1900hrs EST
  • Day of return - June 22 (Tentative)
  • Place of study - University College Dublin, Quinn School of Business (Belfield, Ireland)
  • Areas of study - Information Systems and Finance
  • How to contact me - go to the CONTACT page

Well, that's all for now.  I'm going to throw the contact information up so that the link works and then get on my way to bed.  Goodnight, everyone!  I hope that 2008 is shaping up for you all as well as it has been for me!!

People Search With a Twist

When you post messages to your friend's wall, do you consider how an outsider might perceive your message?  Are there any items in your "interests" or "activities" sections of your profile that you wouldn't want your mother, teacher, or future employer see?  If so, you need to keep reading. Computer users my age have a false sense of privacy while they prowl through the pages of Facebook and Myspace.  They tend to believe that just because someone isn't their "friend," they can't see what information you've posted.  This isn't true.  There are a number of technologies out on the market and in development that facilitate the quest to gather more information about YOU.

Two new projects are leading the charge of indexing social networking as a method of profiling every user on the internet.  SPOCK is a search engine in private beta testing that browses and analyzes internet profiles of a few major social communities.  The fore-runner of the social indexing project is WIKIYOU.  This search engine launched last month and provides a robust interface delivering search results for close match names as well as exact match.  Both of these engines have the same mission but  operate in a different manners.

When searching for myself, SPOCK presented to me four pages of users with real names matching "James Connors" scattered all around the world.  My actual entry existed on the last page and contained a number of inaccurate items.  Spock prowls profiles looking for identifying information such as your zodiac sign, age, hometown, occupation, etc.  The engine then builds a tags for your entry into a profile that users can then "claim." Similarly, WIKIYOU allows users to claim their profile for their engine as well.  Their method of indexing is to pull clippings, or small snippets, of your various profiles online and reproduce them in their search results matching keyword searches.

This movement towards social indexing represents a major shift in the way the internet works.  Instead of categories or keywords, tags and social networking provides the basis for search results.  The most important bit about these programs is that you do go and claim your profiles because, as in my experience, there can be false information contained within your profile.  Claiming these profiles also allows you to build out the interface with your activities, other links, and aliases throughout the net thus providing potential employers or other checkers the accurate and correct information.

I'm planning another blog entry regarding this idea of claiming your identity on the net in the next few days because I think it's a really important issue to remember as an internet user of the 21st century.  Thanks for reading, and I'll see you... next time.