Purpose of This Particular Blog

I thought I should write and mention that the reason I began this particular blog was for an assignment for an English course in college. We had to write a certain amount of blog posts including sections of homework that were being done for the class.

Since I have several other blogs, I’m saving this one to utilize in some manner or another when I begin classes again. I’m considering taking more classes this coming winter, beginning January of 2013. I may change my mind on that and take classes offered by a writing site I’m a part of instead.

So if you happen by this blog and notice that I’ve not been posting on here much, that is the reason. You are welcome to visit my other wordpress blogs.

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Why Write?

A Must Read

I finished Stephen King‘s book on Writing a few days ago. I thought it was going to be on our final exam and isn’t, but it is still filled with a lot of great information, well worth finishing. I expect the majority of those reading this post now and in the future won’t be writing for a living and may think that this book won’t help them much with the rest of their college education. In fact, Stephen himself states that a writer doesn’t  need to study any book on writing to learn to write better. He says we (I’m a beginning writer) need to do as much reading and writing as we can, and that will improve our writing in the long run.

If you haven’t seen the exam questions yet, you will find out that our Professor for this course believes that writing plays a large part of any job in any field we plan on working. (I’m not discounting this idea, just letting you know it didn’t originate with me).With this in mind it would behoove each and every one of us to do whatever we can to improve our writing. This might entail finishing the textbook for this class, or keeping a dictionary on your desk not only for definitions but also for finding the correct spelling, or continuing your blog as has been suggested.

If you want to be a writer like I do, it would be pretty obvious that you’d want your writing to improve.  On the other hand, even though I hadn’t thought about it before this week,you don’t want to find a great job and find out too late that they expect you to do more writing than you anticipated. Most of us want to be taken seriously, if we can’t spell or utilize English correctly, then will our superior listen to us?

For those of you that would like to read a lot more so that your writing will improve, I’m a part of a writing web site that has loads of things to read. From novels in the making to long stories and short stories, poetry and about anything you would be interested in. You can even post things you’ve written, you can get assignments critiqued if needed to improve your own writing. You can have a free life-time membership, or if you later decide you want something more from the site, you can upgrade your account in a variety of ways.  If you want to check it out, look here: http://www.writing.com\authors\sha4852. (It looks like this doesn’t utilize a direct link, I’ll have to find out how to do that-so you’ll need to copy and paste it). That will take you to my page where you can sign up if you’d like. I’ve been a part of this site for four years and it has helped me immensely in my writing.

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For any that would like an e-book on Grammar, this link has one free, which can be downloaded to your computer, or possibly Kindle app if you have one. I don’t know about the latter, as I don’t have one. 🙂 She also has daily writing tips which could be set up on your Google reader for ease of use. For this location you only have to click on the highlighted area in this paragraph and it takes you directly to the web site.

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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.

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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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