Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Planet Earth Blu-ray

I've been meaning to get my dad a copy of Planet Earth on blu-ray for a while now. Unfortunately, the set has just been too expensive to purchase. However, my folks can now admire the sights of the world on Christmas day. Thanks to a link on slickdeals.net, I found Planet Earth for $32 on the amazon.co.uk site! One Christmas present down, many to go!

We're #1! We're #1!

While surfing the CNN.com website, I found a link that read Stressful jobs that pay badly. Clicking the link, I was not surprised to see what was number one on the list.

Being number one on this list is not something we should be proud of as social workers. Furthermore, a person with a masters degree should not be making $12 an hour. I understand that social workers are not in it for the money, but it becomes unacceptable when people with education levels this high can barely afford to support themselves.

As social workers, we are constantly advocating for the needs of our clients. It's time we advocated more for ourselves in ensuring better wages and working conditions. What kind of social workers would we be if we couldn't help ourselves?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The name of this blog

It's the weekend! For this post, I figured I should discuss the story behind the name of this blog.

Ironically, I am actually not that cheap. Just like everyone else has a weak spot for something, two of my weaknesses are shopping and eating out. Given that I'm in school right now and don't have much income, I try to do the two aforementioned activities while spending the least money possible. My friends have commented that I always seem know when a particular store has a sale, and can list where all the cheap restaurants are and times and locations of places that have decent happy hour specials. Knowing what my field pays and my personal goals in saving up and having some financial security, I doubt my current shopping and eating out habits will increase much once I graduate and have an actual job. In fact, I should work on eating out and shopping less anyway.

The name of this blog is inspired by my boyfriend, who completely blows me out of the water in terms of cheapness. He is so cheap that his ex-girlfriend wrote a prize-winning blog titled "My super cheap ex-boyfriend" (which I won't link so as not to embarrass him). Having a general idea of what my blog was going to be about prior to creating it I knew I had to incorporate "cheap" into the title, even though it didn't necessarily describe me. In fact, upon showing my blog to my boyfriend for the first time he commented that I was indeed not cheap at all. I wholeheartedly agreed, stating that I should probably take more lessons in cheapness from him. I'm sure his tips in saving money will wind up on here at some point, the first being to cook more and shop less.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why certain majors are more profitable than others

The other day, I read an article on the San Francisco Chronicle website which discussed the increasing phenomenon of college graduates having to move home due to being unable to find a job. This particular article focused on three struggling recent graduates - a sociology major, an English major, and a double-major in economics and political science. These individuals expressed their frustrations at not being able to find a job and thankfulness that their parents allowed them to move back home.

Now, what struck me about this article was not the article itself, but the comments section. Many readers had no sympathy for these students, claiming that their humanities majors had no practical use in finding a job. Some claimed that if these students had majored in the hard sciences instead of merely fooling around during college, they would have jobs right now. Others stated that their situation was a result of not being intelligent enough to study the hard sciences. A commonly recurring theme was that those who chose majors such as sociology or psychology were epitomes of sorority girl, fraternity boy, and student athlete stereotypes.

I suppose none of this is new to me, coming from a school where sociology and mass communication majors were stereotyped as the partiers and underachievers. In actuality, I never thought much about until it I went to grad school and realized that most of my classmates were indeed sociology and psychology majors. From having interacted with a number of them, I know firsthand that these people are extremely intelligent, driven, and hardworking, hardly fitting of the aforementioned stereotypes. Additionally, I have a number of classmates who were science majors as undergrads, including biology and computer engineering. In fact, I found out recently that one of my friends has done work on particle accelerators. While I don't know the reasons as to why they didn't choose to pursue a more science-related career, I highly doubt that lack of intelligence is one of them.

Why am I talking about this? I suppose part of it is a little bit of transference because I admit I had a rather negative reaction to this comments left on this article. Another reason is to process my thoughts, which is one reason I like to blog. Similar to these undergrads, social workers are generally frustrated due to lack of pay and stressful working conditions (or lack thereof). Many people do not understand or even see the value of the work we do, with our academic field being grouped with the other fields that are notoriously underfunded and under appreciated. To some level, many negative stereotypes are applied to the academic portion of our field because it is not perceived as rigorous as hard science curriculum.

Fact of the matter is that appreciation and more pay would be nice, but the fundamentals of the social work field prevent this from happening due the nature of our society. In our capitalist market economy driven world, more jobs are going to be available in sectors where there is a demand for workers. In recent history, this has been the science and tech industry and not the humanities or social sciences. Additionally, today's economic world is heavily driven by production and profit. While social workers help many people with whatever issues they may be facing in life, they do not exactly produce a tangible and profitable product. A few weeks ago, a friend of mine asked, "How exactly do you measure productivity among social workers?" Indeed, it is quite difficult to quantify the end results of what we do on a mathematical or economic scale.

I don't think the problem is that social workers, social science majors, and humanities are unimportant. The issue is that the worth of our profession/degree is defined in terms of the world market. Sociologists and psychologists study the plight of the disenfranchised. While admirable, the surplus of these majors does not bode well for one looking for work. English, philosophy, art, film, and music majors are important in furthering culture in our society. Unfortunately, the important of culture in the past few centuries has been greatly diminished by advents in science, greatly increasing competition among artists, writers, and thinkers and hence decreasing the amount of money and job opportunities in these fields. As for social work, social workers oftentimes work with undesirable populations in situations that generally do not produce profit. In today's world, there is certainly a need for social workers to pick up after the mess society leaves behind. Unfortunately, the nature of what we do and who we work with may not lead to prestigious jobs with high salaries. Despite constant talk among social workers and social work organizations about advocating for more respect and better pay, I'm skeptical to think that any big change is going to happen unless there is a major paradigm shift away from the current economic philosophies that run this world.

I suppose when choosing a career, one must evaluate what is important to them. If you want to study sociology, but place more importance in making money, realize that with your degree you'll probably have to do more work in the long run to achieve wealth as opposed to if choose more lucrative field in the hard sciences instead. Hence, if being wealthy is important to you, then it's best to think about the profitability of your future career. Essentially, it's what you value in life. If one feels that being wealthy is the only way to achieve happiness, I'm not opposed to them pursuing a lucrative career. However, there are some things simply cannot be measured in terms of supply, demand, profit, and monetary worth. Life is temporary, and money can only take you so far and buy you so much.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ebay win!

While I was at a local art and pumpkin festival this past weekend, I spotted a pumpkin lampwork pendant that I really liked. Unfortunately, it cost $15, which I deemed to much to spend on the tiny glass trinket. I put the pendant down and walked away only to have second thoughts later when it was too late.

Tonight, I decided to check and see if I could find a similar pendant online for a cheaper price. Lo and behold I found these:



For the price of $5.99 (including free shipping) I can how have six lampwork pumpkin pendants! I'll probably wear one as a necklace and use the other five for other art projects and presents. Thank you, ebay!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

FluMist

One of the nice things about this practicum is that when flu season comes around, all employees, volunteers, and interns receive free flu vaccines. Unfortunately, everytime I have tried to get vaccinated in the past three weeks the hospital has been completely out. This is despite the fact that social workers are on the priority list to receive them.

Today, my supervisor called the employee health office and was told that the vaccine was available. However, it was FluMist, the nasal spray. My supervisor was wary about getting this vaccine because unlike the normal flu shot, the nasal spray uses a weakened virus as opposed to a dead one. She decided to wait until the normal shot was available, and said that it was up to me if I wanted to get the FluMist vaccine.

After reading more information about FluMist on the CDC website and looking at numerous news articles, I was still undecided over whether to take the spray. There seemed to be a number of conflicting reports regarding its effectiveness compared to the regular shot. I then decided to call my mom, a nurse, who proceeded to talk to her co-workers and a nurse practitioner. They all agreed that I should be okay, but to be aware that I may have some side effects. Given my luck with getting the flu vaccine these past few weeks, I decided to just get it over with already. For me, a moderate amount of protection is certainly better than no protection at all.

During my lunch break, I drove over to the employee health clinic and the nurse sprayed both my nostrils with FluMist. Since I was between the ages of 2-49, not pregnant, and without chronic health conditions I qualified for the spray. It was an extremely painless process, and I recall no unpleasant taste of smell. It was also a quick process, as I was in and out of the office in less than five minutes. So far I have had so side-effects, but those might not show up for a few hours. If all goes well, I would recommend FluMist as a way to protect oneself against the seasonal flu without the pain of needles.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Cast iron skillet

Hello! It seems like things are going to be busy for the next few weeks. Next week, I have a literature review due for my thesis class. I also have a number of other papers, presentation, and exams coming up. On top of that, my supervisor is going to start assigning patients to me at practicum. Exciting times!

Now, to go on a major tangent. I don't think I've mentioned this before, but one of my hobbies is cooking. While I don't claim to be a good cook by any means, I like to pull up random recipes of foods I enjoy and make them at home. Some of my favorite dishes to make are desserts such as cookies, cobblers, and brownies.

Anyway, on the subject of cooking, several people have been telling me of the joys of cooking with a cast iron pan. These include great heat distribution, easy cleaning, a nice non-stick surface (granted you season your pan properly), and a sturdy pan that lasts you a lifetime. Wanting to try out one of these pans myself, I took advantage this past weekend's 25% off friends and family sale at Cost Plus World Market and bought a 10 1/4 inch pre-seasoned skillet by Lodge Logic.

When I got home, the first thing I cooked on my pan was some bacon to add an additional layer of seasoning. The next day, I decided to try making an egg over easy, which cooked evenly and did not stick. Today, I made pancakes, which also did not stick. Later this week I hope to try my luck making steak. I hope it turns out as well as the other things I've cooked so far. So far, I can certainly see why my friends enjoy cooking with cast iron cookware.

When they came for a visit this past weekend, my parents told me that they had an entire set of unused cast iron cookware at home that has been sitting in the garage since 1990. I might ask if I could borrow it (on a permanent basis) the next time I go home.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Feculence happens


Every Wednesday, I sit in on patient case conferences. At my practicum, this is where the doctor, nurses, social worker, and speech, physical, occupational, and recreational therapists sit down and discuss each patients needs one by one. The dynamic essentially parallels to that of a corporate business meeting, with the doctor serving as the CEO and everyone else pitching ideas. For each patient, the doctor ultimately has the final say and signs off on all the necessary paperwork.

Anyway, during today's meeting we were discussing the bowel problems of a particular patient. One therapist detailed how this person basically saturated a diaper, along with her hand, with human by-product. Everyone in the room looked at her sympathetically and joked about how they hoped she got paid extra for her experience. While these exchanges took place I quietly sat in my seat, in the process of consuming an angel food cupcake and attempting not to visualize what she had just described. Later in the meeting, someone commented that the rash between a different patient's buttocks had the same yellow color as the frosting of another cupcake sitting on the table. Fortunately, the cupcake I was eating at the time had blue frosting.

Now one might wonder why am I writing about such less palatable things on my blog. When I entered my MSW program, I knew that I ultimately wanted a job that allowed me to work in a hospital and use the medical model of social work. I essentially wanted to avoid anything that involved stabbing people with needles, slicing them open with scalpels, and cleaning up various forms of human waste - things that deterred me from pursuing other medical occupations. As of now I have yet to see anything too disgusting, though there are times I find myself trying not to hold my breath or gag while in a patients' room. Knowing that other practitioners in my unit regularly handle sights and smells I am still learning to tolerate, I have a much greater respect for them and am glad that I do not have to do their job.

My apologies to anyone who was eating while reading this.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Quiz Day and Fast Food

I spent most of the day lounging around my apartment and casually studying for tonight's psychopharmacology quiz. Having done rather well on the professor's practice quiz, I wasn't too worried. While the actual quiz was slightly trickier, I take comfort in the notion that the rest of the class felt the same. I'll find out the results next week.

To "celebrate" my friend and I are planning to go to Target to get supplies and then treat ourselves to discounted fast food courtesy to my soon expiring 2009 Entertainment Book.



For those of you who do not own an Entertainment Book, I highly recommend it as a great way to save money on your favorite local food, shopping, and entertainment places. Simply go to the link above, enter in your zip code, and order an Entertainment Book specific to your location. While it costs $35, there is currently a special where you receive a $25 restaurant gift card with your order. On top of that, shipping is free. It's definitely worth the price, considering I've saved more than $35 this year on movie tickets, fast food, restaurants, groceries, and other shopping expenses!

Anyway, break is over, so I should go back to paying attention in class!

Monday, October 5, 2009

A new beginning...

Hello, and welcome to my blog! This blog is project I have been putting off for a while now, but how that I've started I hope that I can keep up with regular updates and practice my writing!

The main purpose of this blog will be to document by various exploits as a social work student and ultimately as social worker. Additionally, I hope to incorporate a number about different ways I save money. Given that I am entering a profession that is notoriously underpaid, buying things I want at the cheapest price possible has conveniently become a new hobby of mine. While the majority of my posts will pertain to these social work and money issues, I'm probably end up posting other random things as well. I like to keep my options open.

Anyway, I suppose I should talk a little bit about myself. I am currently in my final year of a two year MSW program. My subject emphasis is mental health, with a research interest in mental health issues among college aged students. My practicum is at a local hospital's inpatient rehab facility, where I do discharge planning for victims of stroke, traumatic brain injury, and other illnesses/accidents. I hope to work for a hospital or the federal government when I graduate next May.

In the little free time I have these days I pursue my other passion in life - music. I currently play percussion in a local wind ensemble and maintain participation in various musical ensembles from my undergraduate alma mater. During my lunchbreaks at practicum, I sneak into the patient dining area to practice piano or play for patients. When I have more free time, I hope to start taking music lessons again!

Well, I guess I'll leave it at that for now. Hope to post more updates soon!