WEF 2011

| No Comments

I left for Marinette, WI on Sunday October 25th way in the morning because I know it's going to be a long drive. I woke up, kissed my wife goodbye and off I go. This year, part of my goal is to cook some of my own meals if I can, so I brought along a few silverware, bowls and plates and stopped in my native St Paul for a box of instant pho just in case I get the midnight cravings. The drive was mild and unadventurous, essentially listening to football the whole way. The Viking and Lions game was pure pleasure in the first half but noting but pain in the second half, whatever, I've learned to erase bad memories quickly.

On the Monday, I completed the fair and make my way down to Fond Du Lac. Along the way I stopped for lunch at Buffalo Wild Wings and thought it was a good idea to eat some blazing wings for lunch. Now, I can take more spice than most people, so keep that in mind and don't call me and an idiot. I had 9 wings, all blazing and yes they were hot, not unbearable but hot. I bet I can easily complete their wing challenge no problems. I did almost get into a car accident when I left Bdubs though and that was probably the extent of any craziness during this week.

As I was driving on the turning lane to get into the highway, and yes it was raining something bad, I saw this car in front of me on the right lane. Knowing how crazy Wisconsin folks can drive, I was cautious but as I pass him, the man swerves into my lane because he wanted to go into the highway too. I stomped on the brakes hard, and the Prius is not built for sports driving like my Eclipse is so I drifted for a bit. Was I happy, no. Was it fun? Honestly, sort of, but knowing how close I came to wrecking the university vehicle, I wasn't laughing. I proceeded to my hotel and the rest of the week was pretty uneventful.

Sheboygan was semi fun though. I stayed at the Holiday Inn and Express and right across the street is a huge Walmart. I completed homework and work for the night so I decided that I am going to reward myself with a six pack and what did I choose? Shocktops, these were very good. I got the Shocktops punpkin wheat limited edition and boy it rivals a summit any. Good stuff.

I'm working on my Masters of Education now and so I am constantly busy; therefore after each fair I go straight to the hotel and do work and homework. Another goal this year is to get healthy, so after the evening fairs, I would hit the gym and run a couple of miles. This wakes me up a bit so that I can do all the boring stuff at night. Yep, I had to lie to a several people a few times so that I don't get pressured to go out. I heard that they had a great time on Wednesday night at the Abbey in Green Bay. O'well, maybe next time.

Summarizing First 3 Weeks

| No Comments

I'm going to break these parts into three entries like I have done in the past and I do apologize for not being able to keep up. I have been extremely busy such that I barely have time to complete work and homework so obviously blogging is the last thing on my mind. Why now? I woke up in the middle of the night and can't fall back asleep; been up since three. I slept too early last night and unless if I'm intoxicated, I can't sleep for more than 6 -7 hours before having to be on the go; hence I watch some TV on the bed and once I realize I'm probably going to be up for awhile, mind as well blog for my followers.

The first week I spent in Wisconsin covering the Wisconsin Educational Fairs (WEF). From there I came back to Minneapolis for the Nationals and then off to Chicago up until today. I've had my share of adventures and seen weird things but it's been mild compare to the past. So without further ado, here we go folks, ready for the ride?

Last Week In the Office

| No Comments

Alright ladies and gents, I've been prepping myself all last week for this. This is going to be my last week in the office and I'm already packing to go out. Seven weeks doesn't seem too long, but by the end of it one does feel a little exhausted. I'm still waiting for two guidance counselor's to call me back to confirm out appointments and still trying to call two career counselors in Chi-Town to confirm for fairs. I do hope to get that done prior to the end of the week.

It definitely feels like fall now as applications are now coming in. I have a lot to pack and a lot to get done before I leave including MnACC accounting stuff, cleaning my office, and making sure that I have everything that I need. True story, when I went off on my first college fair circuit ever in North Dakota, I forgot my table banner. Totally sucks to do that and I had to drive back down from Fargo to get it. I have this thing with forgetting things and I do hope to not run into this situation again. Alright, next time I post, I promise that it will be about one of my Meng Adventures. Thanks much and can't wait.

Preliminary Travel Planning

| No Comments

I am working on finalizing my travel schedule for the fall and it looks like I will be quite busy. I wanted to go to Texas so bad but my first weekend of class is going to interfere; thus my colleague will have to cover. She didn't seem too happy but was optimistic about taking on the challenge. If it wasn't for that darn class meeting, I would be all over the chance to go down south again. It's okay; I promised to go next year.

That leaves me with starting travel on the last week of September to Eastern Wisconsin where I will explore the shores of Lake Michigan and sample Milwaukee-brewed beer again. Next I will come back to cover the National College Fair in Minneapolis before possibly flying out to Chicago for nearly a month. This will be my third year covering the area so I am confident that the adventures will get crazier as I get bolder. Upon completion of Chicago, I will be back in Minnesota for the rest of the time.

Between the last week of September and the first week of December, I will only be back in the office for a total of one and a half week. I'm super excited to be out again even though I know I will be exhausted by the time I come back. I intend to try out some awesome Chicago cuisine via Vietnamese Town, China Town, and inner city Chicago BBQ. I do hope to not gain my travel 10, but it is always tough on the road.

That's it for now. In two weeks when I confirm all my fairs, I will for sure begin to reserve hotels. I'm super stoked because this fall I'm going to finally make a breakthrough to platinum priority club status that comes with really cool features like free upgrade to spa suites pending availability, free drinks at the bar, more points per visit, the works. I took me over 100 nights at holiday inn chains, intercontinental, candlewood suites and staybridge suites to get this status, but it I will definitely take advantage of it to its fullest.

Almost a Year since my last Post

| No Comments

I have been very busy since my last post almost a year ago and have completely forgotten how fast time flies. I cannot even believe that I am beginning my third year as an admissions counselor. Here are some bullet points of what happened since my last post:

- I covered the MnACC fairs and ate tons of food at Hmong Village in my hometown
- We sponsored the Hmong New Year and I had a table there. I witnessed a fight there by the way
- I did some high school visits and wrapped up my fall 2010 travels
- Begin work on my Masters of Education at UMD, taking advantage of my University of Minnesota Regents Scholarship that I have as a staff.
- Spring Travel begins and I went to Chicago
- In Chicago I got to visit Navy Pier in the Spring and shopped around
- My hotel was this fancy Intercontinental in downtown right on the magnificent mile so I did tons of shopping there
- Finished Spring travels
- Bought my wife a brand new 35,000 dollar car, like I don't have enough bills already!!!
- My role as the Treasurer of MnACC is to be changed so next year I will be the Chief Financial Officer, fancy
- We went to the MnACC conference in St Peter on my B-Day and I got super wasted to the point that I decided to cut back on drinking. Now I only drink a maximum of 3 drinks if and when I do drink at all.
- Now, August 2nd, 2011 I am preparing for Fall travels again.

Holy Cow, and that is just what I can remember. Time flies too quickly here in this admissions field. Each day is never the same and each trip is never alike. I'm hoping to get to go to Texas in early September, that should be a blast. This year I will try my best to keep up with my blog but as my followers know, it is nearly impossible. Hence, I decided to reactivate my facebook account so that I can be connected again. When I first started on the job, it was a professional judgement on my part to get off facebook, but now I have decided to get back on. Of course I plan to clean up my profile from my wild college days first. Anyways, that's it for now. I'm in the office blogging and facebooking, I mean what is there to do right? Suppose I should work every now and then. Peace!

MnACC and my Final Chicago Run

| No Comments

I want to first and foremost apologize to any readers who expects me to update this often. That isn't going to happen. Life as an Admissions Counselor is rough sometimes and blogging is probably the last thing on my list to do. Hence, like last time, I am going to divide this up into several entries based on events.

The week after my National Milwaukee College Fair was pretty mild. It was a lot of catching up in applications, phone calls to my students, and figuring out what has been going on in the office since I was last there like weeks ago. I was super excited to meet everyone again, but it being the last week of October going into November, only a couple of people are still around. Everyone else was out! It was my in house week but I had to go for a couple of fairs on the 26th and 27th so I was really in the office for just 3 days. It was good while it lasted.

Before too long, I had to prepare to be out again. I already know that this is probably going to be one of my toughest weeks because by now I kind of realize that I just a little tired. I went down to Saint Paul on Halloween night and checked into my hotel in East Paul for the first day of the MnACC. On the Monday of the fair, I got done with the fairs at 3:00 PM and then have to drive down to Chicago. That was rough. I did not even get into my hotel until like 11:20 or something. Good thing I got the Monday night football game to listen to while I drive, but driving for 7 and a half hour with four of them being dark is not fun.

This whole week in Chicago I ate everyday at a pho restaurant at some point. I found this chain that was similar to a Saigon, except it has this really dumb name: Noodles Pho U. What kind of name is that for a restaurant? I get it, but it is horrible. I have to admit, their portions are huge and not too bad at all. I had the fried squid tentacles, mango salad, and their pho is big, similar to a Saigon Jumbo sized pho. I also ventured into Vietnamese town where I saw the first Hmong peeps in chi-town ever that doesn't work in admissions. I was walking down the street enjoying the scenery when I heard a group of gals walking by, and Wow, I understand them and they were not speaking in English! Of course I didn't stop them to talk, that would be weird, hence I continued on. But that is huge, Hmong peeps in Chi-Town. Not unheard of, but rare.

I knew that I was tired of travel when I almost did not want to go to that last Morning fair before the end. Seriously, I did not want to go to the fair just because I was so tired of Chicago and being alone at this point, but I went and it was a long two hours before I'm finally done with Chi-Town for the week. The drive back was what I thought it was, long, tiring, and I even forgot to enjoy the Wisconsin drive. Well at least now I can spend the rest of the time in my Hometown instead.

Milwaukee and them Darn Vikes

| No Comments

On my last day of this travel session, I stayed in a really nice hotel in Milwaukee. I checked in to find out that there were two weddings going on and it was super loud, so I went off to find some dinner. I drove to the west side of town and feasted at a chinese buffet. Now here is my rule of thumb about china buffets, only eat the seafood because everything else is fried and not as good as a sit down place. I feasted on octopus, shrimp, mussels and crayfish and then headed back hoping to find a few Milwaukee buddies to hang out. I was told the next day that they didn't respond to me because they were at the casino and forgot to check their phones. Disappointing, I could have used a few poker hands and might of pulled in a few black jacks. O'well, I knew there was a casino in town, I just never thought about going to it. I settled on drinking spotted cows with a few of the wedding peeps in the hotel bar before calling it a night. I slept early and well because I wanted to prepare for the drive back to Morris.

After the fair, I hurried out to beat the rush and took off. I was really enthused because the Bears had just lost and if we beat the Packers, we will be right in the battle again for the NFC North playoff spot. I tuned into the radio and listened to all them talk shows and hype and finally the game kicks off. I cracked a bottle of Amp Energy and turned up the radio and off the game goes. Ok, lets not relive this nightmare, this is as far as I will go about them darn vikes. I avoid the newspapers, and espn several days after such a game. It just hurts man. Well, I got into Mo-Town at about one thirty and did not even unpack, just too tired. I'm off to bed.

The End of Part 2

| No Comments

I met up with Kia from UW-Ea Claire at the Aurora National Hispanic Fair. She was one of the gals that has never been to Chicago before and she told me how scared she was. Originating from Wausau, she thinks Minneapolis driving was bad. Yes, she told me she was so terrified of tolls because she didn't have coins and she had already missed two that she did not go out to find dinner after making to her hotel in Aurora. Poor Kia, she should have called me was what I told her. Anyways, we became friends after I agreed to be her chauffeur to Chinatown. Kia does not want to drive there after finding out from me that traffic there sucks, but she really really wants to see it. I'm a nice person, I agreed to it. What I found to be really funny was that I forgot to tell her that Chicago interstates have an express lane, so the lanes will part and the middle part won't have access to merging in and out, hence faster - express.

Our game plan was that I will follow her to her hotel, let her park and she can hop into my car to Chinatown and I will just drop her off after that. As we were going down the interstate, she pulled off to the right exit off of the express lane and I stayed on. I knew it then that the GPS told her to go that way, and I also knew that because we are not in rush hour, she won't be slowed at all and we will meet up again. Boy was she surprised to see me driving next to her when she merged back into the express lane, I waved. When we dropped off Kia's car, she asked me how fast I was driving to "catch up to her". That was when I help educate her about express lanes. We did find a nice Chinese restaurant where I had some amazing braised chicken feet, shrimp dumpling, and fried wide noodles.

I walked around with her for awhile giving her time to do some shopping and stuff before dropping her off in busy downtown before heading back to my hotel. I'm glad that I was able to help a fellow Hmong sister out.

Meng Unique

| No Comments

I'm not going to lie, I'm unique. How many other college counselors can say that they will wake up at 4:00 AM to drive and be happy with that. How many other people in general can survive on energy drinks and run on 3 hours of sleep and be happy with that? I woke up on Tuesday the 19th at 4:00 AM from my stationed hotel in Oakbrook Terrace to drive to Milwaukee for the National Hispanic College Fair to avoid traffic. I like to make my life easier by not having to live out of a suit case, and I don't want to drive at night. Either way you look at it, I will be driving in the dark. I just prefer to do it in my elements. I made it to the fair in Milwaukee fine and was so happy to see peeps that I recognize again from MnACC. I did meet a couple of new Wisconsin counselors that has never been to Chicago before. I did the right thing by warning them with my terrible stories. Even after all that I found out later that they had a tough time with traffic in Chicago. Poor gals, I bet they don't sign up for Chi-Town again.

On this day, I spent almost 15 dollars in tolls just traveling from my hotel (western suburbs) to Milwaukee, back down through the cities into the southern burbs for the college fair. Wow, I continue to not like tolls. The next day was almost as bad. I woke up at 4:00 AM to go to Rockford, that means leaving the city perimeter and then weaving through it again on the way back into the heart of Chicago. Lots of coins found a new home that day. I did meet Ryan Jordan from Duluth though, it was fun to speak with him again. He thought it was funny how I found dinner.

So before that Palatine fair, I had a few hours to burn. I have never been to an official sushi restaurant before and it being payday, I decided to try it out, alone. Before that, the only sushi I have ever had was at China Buffets and they have them ready made for you to pick from. This time, I went in and had no clue what to do. The server knew little English and there was a communication problem. I picked out a few options (3) and thought they would be good for starters. I did not know that picking 3 options means 3 complete rolls of sushi. So that was my dinner right there and I don't care what anyone says about how much they like sushi but a complete dinner of just sushi will make anyone sick. This place charges if you don't eat everything you order. Yea, I got really sick after that. I tried the free seaweed soup hoping that something warm will help me, except it only made it worst.

I promise myself not to go to a sushi restaurant alone again. Ryan did promise to take me out during the MnACCs for sushi. I think he has a good grasp on what he's doing; I hope next time I won't be so sick from raw seafood.

Toll Trouble October 16

| No Comments

Up to this point, I have been good about not missing any tolls. It just so happen that this Saturday Morning, I was in a rush to get to the University of Illinois - Chicago for the 100 black men of Chicago Fair. I did not do the usual waking up at six because I figured Saturday traffic was going to be mild. What I forgot to do was check my coin stash in my jelly belly bean container. All I have left was a whole lot of pennies and I don't know if they will take pennies or not. So I got to the toll and apparently this guy had a rough night or something is is just being such a BEEP. I looked and wasn't sure if he will take pennies or not so I told him to give me a slip so I could pay online. He was such an in your face guy, man, seriously, it made go into the hate side of my relationship with Chicago. After a few moment of trying to settle for a solution, he decides he want to call trooper on me to give me a 75 dollar fine. I was so pissed, seriously, 75 dollars for 80 cents? Finally I pulled out my jelly belly bottle and handed to him and told him to take what he needs. He was not happy having to count pennies, but I said that the penny is money, manufactured by the US government and that it is legit and if he wants to he can call trooper go ahead. The dude did not even call trooper, he took his 80 cents and let me go. Got me all worked up for over 80 cents. I was not happy.

What made my day worst was the location of my table. I got wedged in between the University of Michigan and Missouri University. These are two big schools in this location. Now, at this fair, they allow on the spot admission to take place so long lines are inevitable. The problem was that the tables are your standard college fair tables and Michigan has five people there with tons of materials, their helmet, the who deal. Yes, the long line of people began blocking my table and I was not happy. Mizzou's rep happens to be a buddy of mine, so he finally did asked people to clear out and luckily two tables down, the University of Miami did not show up so Michigan took over that table too. The crowd was kept in check, but my results this year was nowhere near where it was last year. It was still a very good fair and I got several applications filled out, but it was disappointing. I made sure to note that in the survey. Please have bigger space because the students that we are servicing is no longer a 30 second affair, it is a 2 minute minimum per student talk. At least I got a break after that and I found an ATM to bolster my bean bottle. What a day.