When Your Job is to Find a Cure

It has been a sad week for my family. My stepmom’s sister, a woman I’ve known since I was 9, passed away early this week after a long struggle with cancer. I am sad, but I am also finding that I am very angry too. Back when I participated in sorority rush in college, the rush leaders who asked us to vote on extending invitations to join our sorority admonished us from presenting a candidate because she was “nice.” Too general, I guess. However, Karen was just a genuinely nice person. It makes me angry because nice people like Karen should not have to suffer. No one should. This is a disease where the pharma industry needs to come together, stop playing pattycake politics, give up the “me first” for recognition and get the job done. Find a cure. We as human beings are more intelligent than that. Need has to trump competition. We have been waiting so long.

Cancer takes a toll on family and the sick ones. However, cancer also affects those trying to cure and treat it. Please remember as you are giving thanks this holiday the medical personnel, the administrators and everyone who goes the extra mile to help those who are sick and their families. Have a safe and very thankful Thanksgiving.

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Contract Nation

You may be hearing a lot of grim speculation about the job market right now: that hiring will not pick up until late 2012; that you need to be employed to get a new job; that salaries are not going back to pre-recession levels; or that permanent jobs are permanently gone. While there is no absolute certainty that any of this is true, I was told by recruiters back in 2006 that contracting would be the new work style. This seems to be true. I’ve had more luck getting contract work than a full-time, in-house position as a writer.

Contracting is not necessarily a bad idea if your skill sets are in demand and you are willing to set up your own business and work space. The benefits for me have been that I do not need a car or money for car expenses; I can work from home; I can set my own hours; and I can choose which projects to take on. Marketing your skills can be the biggest downside of contracting; however, if you possess good writing skills, for example, your work does the marketing for you. Many contract recruiting agencies or online freelancing companies will also give you the option to buy health insurance. You just have to ensure that you work the minimum number of hours to keep eligibility for health insurance.

Getting paid on time can be another concern. However, if you work through a recruiter, the recruiting agency, rather than the employer, pays you. This may promote on-time, correct payments. As is true for any type of contract, do not sign an employment contract until you understand everything required of you. You may find that you have signed away your rights to arbitration or that you have signed a non-compete clause without realizing it. A non-compete clause may specify that you cannot work for the company’s competitor or within a certain industry for a specified period of time after leaving contract employment. A non-compete clause is illegal in CA and may be illegal in your state. Find out before you sign one.

Should you try contracting? How flexible are you willing to be? Contracting is not that difficult to set up. I started a contract writing business with a laptop. That’s it. You can test the waters by signing up for one contract while you look for something more permanent. It keeps you employed and helps you create a body of work that you can show to potential employers. You may just decide after that first contract that you like the freedom of contracting and want to continue with it.

Definition: Lollygagging

Lollygagging by KissySquirrel @ Photobucket

As a writer, I really have to know the definition of the words I use. However, some words just have more private, familial definitions, like the word “lollygagging.” In my family, it is exactly what it sounds like: Actively trying to make a sibling giggle, then gag while sucking on a lolly. This was usually brought about by tickling, poking, slapping, shoving, pinching, 360 degree wedgie (with the assistance of other siblings) or throwing things at the offending sibling. Sometimes, General Mayhem worked when these other tactics didn’t.  A lollygagging punishment was usually earned by a certain sibling (not me) who hoarded her lolly and then ate it in front of the other siblings long after theirs were gone. A fitting punishment, no?

Work, Shop, Eat, Repeat: Foods to Love

When I ask people why they work, they usually say, “To pay the bills.” Why do I work? Because I love to EAT!! There’s nothing like moving across the country or to another country to shake up your taste buds. There are foods I miss from NY, but I’ve discovered a lot of great things to eat in CA. A lot of my favorite foods are healthy and make it easier to stick to a diabetic diet. Here are some of my favorites:

Pho – (pronounced ‘fuh’) Pho is Vietnamese soup, which is more like a meal, or several meals, and summertime all in one bowl. It can be made with a variety of different meats, seafood or tofu. All varieties have rice noodles, sprouts, basil, and spices such as coriander and cinnamon. Find recipes for it at foodily.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 OK, don’t ask me why I had to move to CA to discover the best NY bagels, but here they are. Just Bagels are served in the Barnes & Noble cafes here. They are loaded with carbs, but also have whole grains and are yummy. They also have, like, a gazillion different kinds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kashi hot cereals and granola bars taste so good, and they do not have any high fructose corn syrup in them. Good for lowering cholesterol and filling you up. They may be a bit expensive, but there are online coupons for both.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s hard to find tortilla chips that aren’t too greasy or salty. My Nana’s are perfect. Thin, crunchy, but hearty enough to scoop up salsa or guacamole. Yum! No saturated fat and not too many carbs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Like blue tortilla chips? Then Garden of Eatin’ is for you. Their blue chips also come baked or popped with flaxseed, multigrain, no salt, a little salt, regular salt, whatever your diet calls for. They taste great, and you can load them up with whatever heavy toppings you love, and they won’t break.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Now for the toppings. Gente garlic salsa is the BEST. It is made mild or hot. However, do not, I REPEAT, do not buy the hot if you have a sensitive tummy. It will burn the eyebrows off your dining mates when you open your mouth. But it is, oh, sooooo good.

Fountain of Health’s hummus is extra creamy because it has a ton of tahini in it, as well as lemon juice, garlic and ground chickpeas. It is a good source of protein and goes well with tortilla chips.

Mango salsa is another great topping for tortilla chips. Mangoes and red peppers are substituted for tomatoes. Yum. Check foodily.com for recipes.

 

 

 

 

Need to lower your cholesterol? Honey Nut Cheerios and soy milk are great breakfast foods that can help. I’ve been eating these FOREVER, and I am always craving them. Another cereal that can be expensive, but there are online coupons to defray the cost. Double YUM!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Many diabetics have a problem with lactose intolerance. Silk products solve this problem. They make soy, almond and coconut milks and eggnogs. Light, chocolate, organic — whatever you need, and it is fortified with the same amount of calcium as milk. Bonus: I have found that the hot flashes I’ve experienced as part of pre-menopause have stopped after switching to soy milk. Soy products such as soy milk and tofu are reputed to help with this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anything made by Starbucks is fine with me. Unfortunately, even their light versions of their specialty drinks still have quite a few carbs in them. So a trip to Starbucks is reserved for special occasions. A tea latte made at home with black or orange pekoe tea, soy milk and some Splenda can hit the spot, especially if I am feeling under the weather. Something to drink that is warm and comforting…

 

 

It sure isn’t Wegmans, but Whole Foods carries some great foods too. One of my favorite is the pretzel roll. Yup, it is just what it sounds like — a roll made from pretzel dough, sprinkled with just enough sea salt to make it tasty. Sorry, no picture, but if you are a Whole Foods nut, you know what they look like anyways.

 

A perfect spread for pretzel rolls, Brummel & Brown is not margarine or butter. It is a yummy tasting spread made with yogurt. No carbs, 1.5 grams of saturated fat per tbsp, it will not ruin your diet. It also comes in strawberry as well (but hard to find!). Warning: This spread does not melt well and is not really suitable for baking.

There are many, many other foods I love and will work my fingers to the bone for, including some of the not so healthy ones. I won’t mention those, but if you are looking for nutrition info for food you are considering eating try these links: foodily.com, Calorie King, Nutrition Data and CalorieLab. Happy Eating!

Can a Bracelet Put America Back to Work?

The Indivisible Bracelet

So today the CEO of Starbucks, Howard Schultz, held an open conference call. Know what it was about? Putting Americans back to work. Shoot, I wish I would have known earlier. I would have been on that call. I do agree — small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy. Will people donate 5 bucks that goes to Opportunity Finance Networks?  They might if they know that this organization provides seed funding for new small businesses. They also may donate if they are among the 99% of very pissed off people. Big government is too slow to help. It can’t even get us a real health insurance plan — for everyone. Because everyone deserves health insurance, whether they have a job or not.

It is ridiculous. I’ve talked to medical professionals who are trying to keep the unemployed and underemployed healthy while they try to find jobs or  better jobs. These are people like myself who have a Master’s degree and are clueless on how to get health insurance help because they have never had to ask for help before. Free clinics like the one I had to go to last week for help with bronchitis are overwhelmed. If health insurance is going to continue to be linked to jobs, then we need to get people back to work. In good jobs that provide access to USABLE health insurance. That’s the only way overall health costs in the U.S. are going to come down.

So will people donate for a bracelet? Maybe so. However, that does not let “The Administration” off the hook. C’mon Washington. Step on it. The people who gave you your jobs need a little help. Now. Your incentive: People in the “real” work world who do not make good on their promises get fired. Just sayin’…

Pick Your Poison… Uh, I Mean Platform

OR

The "Other" Platform

 

Time was when I used Microsoft for work and Mac for entertainment. MS-DOS? Yup, I knew the commands. Windows up to Windows XP? Sure, I could figure it out. They all were stable and they all worked fine. Until Windows Vista. That was it for me. I was working in a PC-only office at the time. The boss had Windows Vista, the rest of us Windows XP. Nothing ever worked after that.

I left. I took a few weeks, and moved my personal stuff from a PC to a Mac. I went to the Mac store and did all of the free workshops. Just like that I switched. It was easy. Everything works.

However, when it comes to looking for in-house copywriting work, I am finding I still need to know both platforms. Oh, crap. I really hate Windows. The Office package takes forever to load, forever to find what I need. I get updates every week that there are more security patches to download. Word and Excel are way more complicated than they have to be. Yes, I know you have the larger share of the platform market. But you could be a little more user-friendly, Microsoft.

This is a case of knowing that I have to acquire skills that I do not want or like to use. I’ll suck it up, but I’m not happy about it. Microsoft avoidance has become a way of life. Where are the free workshops, Microsoft?