Improving One’s Lot

How does a person go about improving their lot in life? For some it might be attending college to get a degree or certificate in a course of study. The majority of people probably think it is related to finding the perfect job with the best pay possible (if there is such a thing). In this post I’m going to continue along the lines of my original opinion that jobs are available if people are willing to take what’s there and work their way up to something better.

I still firmly believe that if a person wants to work, there are jobs available for them. They may need to take the job that is available while looking for their ‘perfect job’. Michigan is supposed to be one of the worst states for unemployment, yet as I travel around cleaning windows for people, it’s common to see signs in windows that businesses are hiring.

One of our window customers told me a few years ago that her grandson graduated with a marketing degree, but it had already been six months and he hadn’t found anything he could do with his degree. He made a decision that if he didn’t find something within a certain amount of time that he would go back to a McDonald’s he had worked at before and possibly get his manager position back. He would then continue to look for something related to his degree, but he’d at least be earning a living while doing so.

I mentioned in my opinion paper that other than a couple of times, I never went more than a couple of weeks without work. This included travels to several different states in the course of an eight year period. In the late seventies I went to New Hampshire with my church to do a type of missionary program for one year. While there we were expected to work a morning shift and work about 20-30 hours per week. My shift began at seven am on the days that I worked, and I never worked past one in the afternoon.

I went from Ohio with several other individuals to share housing and expenses for the year. Our first priority when we arrived was to find housing. Once that was taken care of we all began the hunt for a job. Only one person had problems working consistently all year and to my remembrance that was because they were never happy with the work they were doing.

Then one of the girls I met in New Hampshire asked if I wanted to move to her home state which was North Carolina. Once I settled in with a group of girls I got a job at a 7-11. I worked there for two years, one and one half years as an employee and the other half as a manager.

During that last year there I knew that I wanted to attend my church’s leadership training program, which is a four year program, two years in a work/study program and the other two years on staff at one of the locations or on the field. I chose to stay ‘on the field’ by doing another missionary type program. I went to Connecticut with three other women who I had never met before to work part time and start a church in the home while there.

It took a little longer to find a house this time, so because of that it took longer to be able to begin job hunting, which was taken care of within a short amount of time after we found a place to live.

One thing that really helped during these years was living without debt. When you don’t have stress from debt weighing you down, any job will do for the short term.

I know someone that lives in the Detroit area. Within the past year or so his company downsized and without warning his job was no longer available. He was some kind of mechanical designer without a college degree, although he did attend some type of a trade school under his dad’s tutelage. (His dad was in a similar line of work). When this person first lost his job of about twenty-five years, he was in a bit of a funk, as anyone would be. Within several days or so, he came to himself knowing that wouldn’t help him find another job. He got his name and qualifications out in the proper places and continued to pray about it, expecting God to work it out.

Within one month, he had a  new job, better than the one he’d had before. He didn’t let fear get to him and continued to expect the best.

Something that employees and American citizenry in general should strive to do rather than searching for the ‘elusive’ higher wages trying to match their cost of living would be to get their spending habits under control. One place to start would be to eliminate all credit card debt. Once debt is eliminated another thing to work towards is living within a budget which would be the same as living within one’s means.

There would be several benefits to living this way. The major one would be that much of the stress most of us have become accustomed to would be eliminated. Another benefit would be that it would be easier to work on a savings plan and set money aside towards retirement. Finally, if any catastrophe hits, it would be easier to work through without dealing with debt.

If all age groups would strive towards living debt free and have several months worth of pay set aside in a savings account ( I think the suggested amount is six months worth), then if something major did happen like a job loss or medical situation, then the money would already be set aside to pay for those things and having the time to work out the necessary details without getting stressed out.

So, the best way to improve your lot in life is remain debt free or if you’ve already started to build up debt, then work towards paying it off. There are ways to build credit without getting into debt.

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The Unemployment Rate

In October of this year I decided to write an Opinion paper, for an assignment,  about my view on the unemployment rate. I have believed for over ten years that the government and the media has propounded their idea that the unemployment rate is higher than I believe that it really is.

The next assignment I had was to write an annotated bibliography looking for material to support my opinion. What I found was a wide range of articles from government statistics to the reports of economists, to blogs on the topic. The majority of the research I found showed how the unemployment rate is decided and what statistics are taken into account.

The government survey is performed monthly and looks at tens of thousands of households to find out their job situation, whether any are unemployed and for how long. A similar survey is done with even more companies and “government agencies who employ American citizens”. This appears to be a great picture of how well the economy is doing as it’s related to jobs, employment and whether any that are unemployed are discouraged enough to quit looking.(ycharts)

One of the sources showed that once in the past when the unemployment rate fell to zero percent it caused inflation to skyrocket, therefore economists and others prefer that the rate doesn’t drop below 4-5% (Summers). Another source showed the opposite, that inflation is one of the many factors that causes unemployment to climb. This is because as inflation increases, employers have to decide how high they are willing to raise wages. Do they want to cut employees so they can afford to raise the wages of the rest, or do they want to leave the wages as they are and hope their employees will stay. (Duerr).

Many employees leave their employment voluntarily because they are looking for higher wages. It would be better for them to continue working where they are while looking for something better. This is something many don’t learn until it’s too late. Some may even decide they need to take some college courses to be able to get the wages they prefer or need to sustain their families. Whether a person is looking for higher wages, a job they might enjoy more, or planning on some college courses, it’s always better if possible to continue to work where they are rather than having the possibility of gaping holes in their employment history.

The President is trying to pass a law that will ban employers from not choosing a prospective employee based on their work history, or lack thereof. It is the concern of the authors of The Economist that if that law is passed then certain employers may chose to limit their hiring for fear of reprisals.

One of the sources discussed how individuals furthering their education will probably affect future unemployment rates. As employees have better skills by way of college degrees it could force prospective employers to have to raise their wages to hire the more qualified people.(DePrince and Morris)

The Wall Street Journal has shown that it is believed that the American economy will take another twelve years, if that, before the unemployment rate is back towards 5%. (qtd. in Finfact of Ireland)

A phrase that has been coined in the past several years by the younger generation is ‘funemployment’. This is when those that have been laid off choose to continue as a non-worker for an undetermined amount of time as their funds last. Some of them head to the beaches while other might do things they haven’t been able to do for a while for lack of time. (Yekits)

Personally, I don’t believe wages will ever catch up to the cost of living. The cost of living will continue to go up and one of the factors that affects it more than anything else is the price of gas. Unfortunately in the rare times when gas prices do drop, the majority of companies do not follow suit by dropping their prices on their products, although some might offer more sales than would otherwise be possible.

In summary once I learned what factors are taken into consideration in determining the unemployment rate, I have to say my opinion is incorrect. In fact certain business people that I have talked to in the area believe the statistics provided by the government and media are even lower than stipulated. Only those who are actively looking for employment or those who have been unemployed for only a short time are considered in the reports.

Therefore I will have to adjust my opinion. I know there are plenty of jobs available, although I also know that many of those eligible to work may not want those jobs. I’m talking about restaurants, fast food eateries, gas stations, and retail stores. Even those offering benefits are shunned by some.

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Works Cited

DePrince, Albert E., Morris, Pamela D. The Effects of Education on the Natural Rate of Unemployment. Springer Boston, Pub. Business Economics. Web. 2008

Duerr, Michael G.  Unemployment, Causes and Cures.  New York: The Conference Board, Inc.  May 1978. Print.

The Economist”. The long term unemployed. The Ravages of Time. An intractable problem is getting worse. Web. October 1, 2011.

Finfacts Team. “It Could Take Until 2024 for U.S. Unemployment Rate to Fall to 5%.” News: US Economy. 25 July 2011.

Summers, Lawrence H.  The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. “Unemployment.” Web. 2008.

YCharts. “Unemployment Situation Report Definition” and “Unemployment Rate.” A Stocks and Bonds Website. 4 December 2011

Yekits, Funemploymentblog. Blogger. Web. 27 July 2009.

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I owe my training on html formatting for utilizing hanging indents for these citations to this site:http://www.tnellen.com/school/basic.html#indent

Using indents and tabs

I thought I would write a post on the different types of indenting and the tab stops. After working with the hanging indent for the annotated  bibliography, I got the hang of that type of indent, yet I still wasn’t sure which section was considered the hanging indent. I decided to put this together to help anyone else that is still having a problem with it, or maybe hasn’t/haven’t(?) used it yet. It could be done a bit differently on other Word processor programs, I’m sure there are help menus that would explain it to the writers satisfaction.

First is the common first line indent. This is used by probably just about everyone that has written any type of paper. Most of us utilize the tab key to indent the first line of each paragraph. What if you’ve written a long paper and find that you were supposed to indent the beginning of each new paragraph? This shows an easier way to do it as one unit rather than having to go through and fix it little by little.

First Line Indent

Put your cursor at the left of the first word that needs to be indented. Hit the tab key. The first line is now indented. Look above at the ruler and you will find that the indent marker, which is the top triangle, has moved to the section on the ruler above where it is indented. If your paper was complete, it would stay there, but if you make any other changes it moves back to its original position.

This image shows the top triangle which is the first line indent on the right, and the lower triangle/rectangle which is the hanging indent/left indent (one unit) on the left. The next image will show the left indent back on the side of the ruler even after the indent has been made.

The left indent marker will move back if you add more text or want to make any further changes. In order to indent all the remaining paragraphs as one unit, highlight the text and then manually move the top triangle to line up over the indented area. It will move all the first lines over. Then it will stay where you put it, and it should indent the first line on its own without you having to remember to do so.

This image looks a bit odd and that is because it indented the bolded areas also, not just the first lines. It still gives you the general idea.

The hanging indent

The hanging indent marker is the bottom triangle, and the left indent marker is the rectangle below the lower triangle. Why these two have separate names doesn’t make a lot of sense to me as they do not separate. It’s probably because they do two different things, depending on what the need is. There is also a right indent marker which can be found at the top of the ruler, on the right side. That can be used to streamline the page.

Using the hanging indent is indenting every line except the first line in the document. You must drag the triangle section, not the rectangle under it, in order for it to work properly. When you drag the marker over, it says left indent in a little box, so don’t be confused.

You will probably have to manually move the hanging indent marker over for two paragraphs, then it should work for you automatically as you add additional paragraphs.

Tab Stops

We haven’t used tab stops for this semester, but I thought I’d include them briefly. At the top left of the screen is the tab selector. It may be left aligned, right aligned or center. You need to place your cursor on the tab selector and click on it to change it between selections.

Click on the bottom edge of the ruler on the right hand side to pick where you want the tab stop to be. More than one tab stop can be used on a document. If you change your mind about using them, they can be dragged off the page by pulling down.

I wasn’t able to show this properly as the screen wants to save on the left side, and the tab stop is on the right.

Any word processor program should contain a help program for its users to check out so they can utilize all the many features of the program.

Without the images 735wds.

Vonage

I have about four ideas of things to write about and then a situation came up with Vonage, so I thought I’d share about that first. If I get enough words this will be my post for today, if not, I’ll try to do another one later today.

For the past two years my husband and I have been without a cell phone, mainly because of finances. (I was going to make that latter part  a sentence, but since it isn’t, did I put it in the right place)? My girls took over our account two years ago and this past June got a new plan, they decided to let me have a phone on their plan with them.

Recently, they decided to change plans knowing full well they’d have to pay an early disconnection fee, but they wanted to switch to one of the Apple products, and found that Sprint had the better  plan for them. They were going to wait until February hoping to get money from taxes or something, but since my daughter had money in the bank switched plans this past weekend.

Knowing that they were planning this, I remembered that my daughter got mail about Vonage. I don’t watch TV and haven’t seen the ads about it, but I did take a look at their Web site  to see what it was all about. I read quite a bit before making my decision. I really thought it was for cell phone use, it didn’t make sense to me how a cell phone would work with an internet connection. I figured technology isn’t understandable to those of us that don’t work with it, right?

I think part of what caused me to think this way was the fact that they mailed an invitation to my daughter who is not the one with the home phone, but only has a cell phone. Probably anyone reading this would question how I could misunderstand how Vonage really works. I thought that just in case someone else is in the same boat, a post on this might be helpful.

For those looking to change your home phone provider, Vonage is one of the best Voip providers.Voip stands for Voice Over Internet Protocol. It’s a way to pay less for one’s home phone service, the only problem is that the minutes are limited like a cell phone. It can also be used with another phone number, but I think generally the thinking on that is having another family member on your plan. Whether they have to also have internet service I don’t know. If you have  your cell phone as a part of the plan, you still have to maintain your current cell phone subscriber status for it to work properly.

Skype is also a VOIP service, although most users only use it as a way to communicate using their internet service and their computer and webcam if they have one. A phone can be purchased to use the service if you don’t have a computer. This is not the best way to utilize the Skype service, as it then puts Skype low on the scale for reliability. Otherwise, from what I’ve heard (my kids and others I know use it), it works nicely. The rating can be found at http://www.nextadvisor.com/voip_services/index.php?a=2&kw=gvcv+VoIP%20service%20provider%20compare-fq-\’Voip+providers,+who\’s+the+best?\’&gclid=CJehn8eQqqwCFcLAKgod7DxvfA. “Home, VoIP services”

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If someone want to critique my writing, it would be fine with me. There’s a few places where I wanted to put a ‘that’, but Tracy I was thinking of you, so I left the ‘that’s’ out and put comma’s instead. 🙂 In my phrase:the only problem is that the minutes are limited like a cell phone/ it says that ‘are limited’ is passive voice. Does that really matter in this instance?

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Plagiarism – What is it?

Plagiarism is a concept all writers should be aware of so they can avoid it in any shape or form. Most people know that copying another’s work without giving the author credit is plagiarism, but many may not realize the other areas that are considered plagiarism also.

In Pioneering Success, a Delta College textbook, on page 164 it states “Using another writer’s words, content, unique approach, or illustrations without crediting the author is called plagiarism and is illegal and unethical.”

Plagiarism not only includes you writing down words verbatim from a source without crediting that source, but it also includes other aspects that most people wouldn’t consider as plagiarism. Some of these include paying a person or service to write your paper for you, or using the same paper you have written for more than one class project in one year or over several years.

Unfortunately, there are many students across our nation who haven’t pushed themselves to learn to write better and rather than taking the time to do so, they have located a service that provides papers on any subject for a price.

I read an article several months ago in The Reader’s Digest in which a person that wrote these papers made very good money from students that didn’t take the time to develop their own ability to write their own papers. He didn’t work for himself, but for a company that specialized in writing papers for students.

He said that many of the students, even if they were finishing their degree or even working on a Masters or Doctorate, couldn’t manage simple spelling when requesting help to write their papers.

Another form of plagiarism is to incorrectly paraphrase the material you are using for research. This happens when the paraphrase is very close to what was stated previously in the material. The best way to stay honest in writing is to read larger sections of material, close your book and then write what you remember.

When only reading several sentences at a time it may be harder to write in your own words without duplicating the authors tone or too many of the same words to be considered completely your own paper.

Don’t ruin your college career by partaking in any form of plagiarism. Be informed in all the aspects plagiarism takes so you can be honest in all areas of your research and writing, and then after graduation into your career itself. If you want to know more, check out your college handbook to make sure you are steering clear of this form of cheating and lying.

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Planning Ahead

Have you ever dealt with procrastination, or known someone who procrastinated a lot? I know I have.  I’ve met many people who procrastinate.  When younger I never thought I had that problem, yet over the years I find that I’m many times in the same boat. It could be because I get involved in too many things all at once, so something has to give. That is the majority of my problem I think.

What I want to talk about today is planning ahead which we all could get better at I’m sure.

I work in a retail store. The holidays are fast approaching. There is always much to do, presents to buy, deciding how much to decorate. Are you going to use your decorations from last year, or keep your eye out for new items that you would enjoy owning?

The store I work in sells leftover items on clearance after the Holidays are over, but lately, in the past few years, they’ve put things on mark-down several weeks before the Holidays. I’m sure they are hoping to sell the items at a smaller discount that they would be when marking them down after the event. Even though I’m mainly referring to Christmas, this could be applied to any Holiday throughout the whole year: Thanksgiving, Halloween, Easter, summer holidays, and other personal events like weddings and showers.

The store I work at lets you buy something, and if it goes on sale within two weeks, you can bring the receipt back and get the current discount for the item. I would recommend shoppers taking advantage of this if the item they want is running out of current stock. It would be better to purchase it then rather than wait for a sale that may never happen, or the item disappearing and not being re-ordered in time for the event.

A situation happened recently where one customer found an item and wanted a rain-check for several more. We used to give out rain-checks taking the customers word on whether the item was really out of stock or not. Someone finally realized that not everyone was being honest in this regard and would get a rain-check even if the item in question was still in stock. So now, we have to call the department first to make sure we are really out. If we find that there is more in the back room, the stock guys will bring it to the floor and oftentimes bring up the quantity of the item the customer wanted. If out, then we can write out a rain-check.

Some things on our ad are specialty items and aren’t in stock on a regular basis. For instance, I got a rain-check for some Bounty paper towels a few years ago. I don’t think I ever did see them again on the shelves, because it was a package size that we don’t normally carry. If you get an ad for your favorite store, I’d recommend that you not wait until the end of the week to purchase the item, even it that is your normal shopping day. The earlier in the day you can come in the better also, then if it’s a particularly busy day we should still have the desired items in stock.

Getting back to the customer I had recently, she was upset with me that I wouldn’t just hand her the rain-check, as she was in a hurry. (I’m not going to comment on that one, another pet peeve of mine). After checking with the department I found out that we don’t give out rain-checks when the item is a percentage off. Later after my shift was over, I went to the department to see where the item was and found well over fifty of the same item in stock.

Even remodeling fits with the idea of planning ahead. When you are ready for the tub enclosure, you would hate it if you found out that Lowe’s sold the last one yesterday. What if it takes a few weeks to get another one? Anything in life that we want to do, we should do some type of planning ahead, and follow through with whatever needs taken care of then rather than later, or tomorrow.

I think many people would say, “Of course, planning ahead is necessary, who doesn’t know that?” I see where it gets missed in other situations. For instance, in the business I co-ordinate, there are those that plan on getting their windows cleaned before a wedding or something similar. They plan ahead on everything for the wedding, and they know they want the windows cleaned, but they neglect to let us know what they are planning and call us several days before the wedding, expecting us to drop anyone else we have scheduled to fit them in.

One of our current employees in our window cleaning business told me that when he worked in Florida, it was common for those that needed wood to repair their boats to wait until the season began again to try to purchase the wood. When they waited until the last-minute, rarely was there any wood available. They weren’t too happy to learn they had to wait for the new shipment to arrive.

So it behooves all of us to plan ahead in all situations in life. Don’t put off for tomorrow what you can do today, if at all possible. It should help eliminate some of that stress we all deal with also.

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Opinion paper

For my opinion paper, I’m going to write about the unemployment rate. Our country faces unemployment problems many times relating to individuals not wanting to work. This is my opinion, which I’ve had for some time now, say at least ten years, Obviously this is not the case with everyone that isn’t working. I don’t mean to imply that you or a family member that isn’t working has this problem, but I know it is a problem.

I’m a business owner and in one year, while trying to keep nine people on the payroll, we went through seventy-five employees. That’s a pretty big turnover.

If I’m able to find research that corroborates my opinion I will be surprised and happy.

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