Sunday, November 20, 2011

Black Friday

The article writes about the crazy hours of retailers on the day after Thanksgiving.  "Normally the big day is “Black Friday”, so named because the day after the holiday is when retailers supposedly move into the black and become profitable."  

Retailers are opening earlier and earlier trying to beat out their competition.  It used to be that retailers would open early that Friday morning with many advertised sales, but year after year, that opening time is being pushed earlier and earlier.  Some feel that they are opening earlier to persuade shoppers to come to their store rather than shopping online.  Also, many retailers are trying to open up at the same time, if not earlier, than their competitors.

Since the beginning of the financial crisis in 2008, retailers are showing a decrease in Black Friday sales.  Sales are expected to be low again this year.  "According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), sales in November and December will increase by only 2.8% to $465.6 billion, compared with a 5.2% rise last year. On the other hand, 68% of online retailers say they expect their sales to grow by 15% or more."

Personally, I will do a little shopping in the stores and a little shopping online.  I have never gone shopping on Black Friday because I do not want to fight the crowds.  I think this shopping ritual has grown extremely out of control.  There is nothing about Christmas in the Christmas shopping people are doing on Black Friday.  It's a craze of people running and fighting for final items.  People are irritable, grouchy, and hateful!  Where has the holiday spirit gone?

Technical Communication Ch. 8

Chapter eight is titled, "Drafting Paragraphs, Sections, and Chapter."  It highlights the importance of grabbing your readers attention and transitioning smoothly from point to point.

Chapter eight encourages getting your readers attention by announcing your topic first.  It also writes about piecing your segments of information together to create more usability of your reader. "To understand any segment, whether a short paragraph or an entire communication, readers do the same things to determine what the topic is and figure out how its parts fit together."  With highlighting important parts and transitioning segments smoothly, you will be more likely to persuade your readers.  The chapter also states about using "top-down or bottom-up processing."  Top-down processing is to give your reader the overall picture before going into detail, and bottom-up processing is giving details first and the overall picture will be more visible by the end of the segment.

I agree that top-down processing is very important.  By listing the topic first, I feel you are more likely to grab your reader's attention and keep it.  By using bottom-up processing, it is possible that your reader will become lost and lose interest before the main point is revealed.  By having smooth transitions, it will help you reader understand when you are switching from one detail to the next.  They won't be confused in thinking you are still explaining points from the previous detail.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Does Making Cents Make Sense?

For five consecutive years, it has cost the United States Mint more than what the penny is worth to produce and distribute it.  In 2010, the average cost to make a penny was 1.79 cents.  Is it worth almost twice the face value to continue making the penny, or should this senseless coin be eliminated?

Soaring prices of copper and zinc are to blame for these rising costs.  A penny is made up of 97.5 percent zinc and 2.5 percent copper.  In 2005 the cost of a penny barely made a profit at .97 cents.  Since then, the price of zinc has increased by almost 40 percent.  The nickel has also exceeded its face value at 9.22 cents per coin, whereas paper money only cost six cents per bill to manufacture.

There are a few options to overcoming this deficit.  The penny could be reconstructed, eliminated completely, or left as is.  Recently, The U.S. Mint has considered redesigning the penny to become more cost efficient.  One of the most popular suggestions is to use less expensive metals to make it, such as steel.  It wouldn’t be the first time it has been changed.  The U.S. Mint has changed the composition of the penny several times since 1793, including in 1943 when it was switched to zinc-coated steel due to a shortage of copper during the war.  Another time was in 1982 when they switched to the composition that is currently used today.

You can’t buy anything for a penny, so why alter it when it can be eliminated completely.  There are several contradictions to abolishing the penny entirely.  Some feel much attached to the penny; it holds symbolic value.  U.S. Mint Director Edmund Moy states, “People still want pennies, which is why we’re still making them.”  If the penny was eliminated, there would be no more lucky pennies, a penny for your thoughts, or getting your two-cents worth.  Others feel if the penny was removed that the poor would become poorer due to retailers rounding up to the nearest nickel.  They would be forced to pay cash because they don’t have checking accounts or credit cards.  Another concern is that charities would suffer without the penny.  Would the community be as willing to part from their nickels as they do with their pennies?

On the contrary, there has been success in eliminating coins.  In 1992, Australia stopped issuing one and two cent pieces, Brazil eliminated one cent coins in 2005, Britain abolished the half-cent coin in 1983, and Hong Kong stopped making its five cent coin in 1980.

Another option could be to leave the penny alone.   In 2010, the U.S. Mint produced 3,487 million pennies.  Almost 35 million dollars worth of pennies costs over 62 million dollars to produce.  Could those 27 million dollars be put towards the nation’s debt?  Some would say that amount is chump change compared to the trillions of dollars of debt owed.

Out of all of these options, I do not feel that leaving it alone is an option.  Making cents does not make sense!  Something has to be done; change needs to happen.  Redesigning the penny and lower the cost of production is a good thought.  If the U.S. Mint feels that American’s need the penny, then this would be the best option.  We’ve adapted to the changes in the penny in previous years, so I do not see why we couldn’t again.

Personally, I think the penny should be eliminated from circulation.  They are a bother and useless.  Nothing costs a penny, you can’t use them in a vending machine, and when you dump out your pennies to pay for something at a store, you hear the cashier sigh.  Jeff Gore, a young scientist at MIT, developed an equation of productivity to figure out how much time people waste on pennies.  He came to the conclusion that 2.4 hours per year per person is wasted dealing with pennies, whether it’s counting them out in stores, giving them back in change, or fishing them out of the couch and putting them in a penny jar.

Without pennies, there is a way to even out rounding without losing a couple cents on every transaction.  First of all, the loss of the penny will only relate to cash transactions.  Debit cards, credit cards, checks, and direct deposits can all still utilize the cent.  Next, I believe if cash transactions are rounded up and down, it’ll even out for everyone, the retailer and the consumer included.  No cents will be lost.  For cash transactions ending in 1 or 2, the total price will round down and for transactions ending in 3 or 4, then the total price will round up.

Although there are many opinions about whether or not the penny should be removed from circulation, I think most would agree that losing millions of dollars per year should not be an option.  What does the penny mean to you?  The next time you see a penny on the ground, are you going to pick it up or keep on walking?

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Should We Make Cents?

Should we make cents?  This article describes the cost of the penny soaring above the actually worth of the penny and the costs the American citizens may face if the penny was eliminated.

"Every year, the U.S. Mint turns out eight billion shiny new pennies." To get this $80 million in pennies, the government is spending $134 million.  Most American's say they want to keep the penny.  Rounding up sales to the nearest nickel could cost American's $600 million per year. Because of this rounding, CBS's fans say, "A penniless America would leave the penniless truly penniless."

I think we should do away with the penny.  Even though saving $54 million per year is nothing compared to our nation's debt, it's a start.  Or else I think the government needs to rethink better ways to lower the costs of making the penny and nickel, even if a completely new design and size it what comes out of it.  I think that you could still use the penny on purchases made electronically, such as debit or credit cards, but eliminate it in cash transactions.  It may be weird at first, but American's will get used to it eventually.  They'll have to!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pox Parties

Chicken pox laced lollipops?  This is insane!!  Instead of getting their children vaccinated for chicken pox, parents are spreading lollipops that have been licked by an infected child.

This is their idea of building immunity without having the child vaccinated.  Parents are actually paying for these infected candies.  The article states. "The transport and sale of contaminated items has been linked to a Facebook group called "Find a Pox Party in Your Area," which helps people anonymously arrange for the swapping and sale of contaminated items."  

It is illegal to to tamper with consumer products and it is also illegal to send a virus through the mail.  Dr. Harpaz from the Centers for Disease Control said, "It's kind of like playing Russian roulette with your child."  She also says that children that are not vaccinated are more likely to get shingles later in life.  Also, not only are these lollipops infected with chicken pox, parents could be unknowingly spreading other diseases such as influenza or hepatitis.

This is the craziest thing that I have heard of in a long time.  I think that people should have their children vaccinated.  I believe that a lot of schools require children to be vaccinated to start school.  If the child gets chicken pox, it's not uncommon.  The article states, "Before the vaccine was licensed, there were in the order of 100 kids (in the U.S.) who died of chicken pox per year. Now there are very few among vaccinated children"

Technical Communication Ch. 6 - 7

Chapter six is titled, "Gathering Reader-Centered Information," and is all about doing your research and collecting evidence.  Chapter seven is titled, "Analyzing Information and Thinking Critically."  This chapter focuses on arranging your information to find significant relationships.

Chapter six presents four places to get information that may be helpful, "Persons affected," "Persons involved," "Other organizations or groups engaged in similar efforts," and "Professional publications."  These are great places to start when doing research because they are almost right in the middle of the action.  Also, when writing documents, make sure to note where you got the information to avoid plagiarism.

Chapter seven stresses how important it is to analyze your information and find meaningful relationships.  "Interpretations may take many forms, including generalizations, explanations, and comparisons, along with exceptions, and counterevidence."  It is very important to explain the relationships to your readers to minimize confusion.  I think the book showed some good examples in the confusion that can come from different interpretations.

Technical Communication Ch. 4 - 5

Chapter four is titled, "Planning for Usability."  It discusses the processes to reaching out to your reader to keep them interested in what have to write.  Chapter five is titled, "Planning Your Persuasive Strategies."  This chapter focuses on how to persuade your readers by building credibility.

One of the most important facts that chapter four states is, "Give the bottom line first."  This is so important in writing when you are trying to get a point across.  If you fill a paper with a bunch of nonsense, you will lose your reader before they finish the first paragraph.  Another important thing when writing is helping your readers find what they want.  "At work, readers often want to find a particular piece of information without reading the entire document that contains it."  To help your readers find the main facts, you want them to stick out from the rest of the document.  You can do this by using bold headings, bullet points, or graphics.  I think this chapter had good information about how to weed out pointless information that will bore your readers.

Chapter five states the following reasons to persuade your reader's attitudes, "Reverse an attitude," "Reinforce and attitude," and "Shape their attitude."  Gaining credibility is important to persuading reader's attitudes.  It is very important to do proper research to gain evidence to support the point you are trying to get across.  At some times, you may have to try and persuade your reader's thoughts before you can get to the main point.  This chapter was good in showing that if you can build a good relationship with your readers, they will be more likely to trust you and find you credible.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

How Your Online Reputation Can Kill Jobs for You

This article summarizes how employers are more and more using the internet to screen applicants.

Believe it or not, it's the truth.  Among US recruiters and HR professionals, "89% have used online data mining as part of the hiring process and most consider it appropriate to consider personal data."  This number is huge!!!  Even crazier, the article states, "70% have used data they've found online to reject job candidates"

If I were in charge of hiring people for a company, I would definitely use the internet to search the applicants.  I think it is a great idea and it is obvious that the idea has caught on fast.  I don't personally have anything on the internet that I should be ashamed of and it is that way for a reason.  You never know who is looking and what opportunities could arise.  If you do not approve of employers search you on the web, then I would recommend checking your security settings and more importantly, deleting some data.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

This article summarizes how Bank of America has decided not to charge a $5 monthly fee for debit card usage.
They were trying to offset lost revenue that was caused by a law that lowered the fees they could charge retailers.

Many people are already starting to move their accounts out of Bank of America over this potential fee.  It seems that the big banks are trying to charge for anything these days.  Most local banks waive a fee for using your debit card.  It's less expensive for customers to use their debit card than to write checks.  This is the second time in a year that their CEO has disclosed plans that didn't follow through.  Definitely makes me think that current customers are not going to be confident with the company holding onto their money.  I think Bank of America needs to think things through a little more thoroughly before release information to the public, or I could see them being the next bank to go under.