Monday, March 28, 2011

It seems like every job pays the same

There are always a million advertisements promising wages two or three times greater than what seems to actually be available on the market. However, whether you're a beginning public school teacher, or a truck driver, or an airplane engine mechanic, or a journeyman electrician, when all the smoke has cleared, it seems that you end up making a real wage of around $15 in most parts of the country. On the coasts, of course, that would be a bit low, and in some places they would be glad to have it. It's certainly not what most people expect to be paid. It's almost like it doesn't matter what you do. Society doesn't seem to care or value even the better educated any more.

Even with tons of education you will still keep banging your head against some of these real wage levels. And there is always an excuse. There is always more training you could have. There are always completely arbitrary and unnecessary demands that applicants must have 5+ years of experience in an area where such job might not have even existed in their present form for 5+ years. In a high tech field 5 years of experience might mean experience with obsolete hardware, software, and methods. And if you try generalism that won't work either, because employers will demand that you have narrow, specific skills. Many employers have absolutely no clue what they even want when they write a given job description. They fill them with fantasies about how the applicant has to have several times the knowledge and skill level of the actual people who work there. And you better not embellish your resume, even when they embellish their job descriptions with unnecessary requirements.

They will also often make the asinine demand that your resume be no longer than a page, but still include every pertinent detail about you. Here's a free clue. A person who is 21 might be able to fit all their work experiences and skills on a single page. A person who is 31 or 41 or 51 will have progressively more work experiences, skills, etc. The one-size-fits-all, one-page resume rule is ridiculous for older, more experienced workers. However, most employers would have no clue what a CV was, and they wouldn't read your resume even if it were one page. I've gone to a number of interviews where they ask me multiple questions that are explicitly stated on my resume or my cover letter. The interviewers walked into the interviews having never read either my cover letter or resume.

It's a good thing that I have a job/jobs for now, but it is scary to think about the future when I may have to look for other jobs, or even consider switching careers. A master's degree is no guarantee of a job. Professional licensing is no guarantee of a job. The jobs that you can get fairly easily are low enough paying so that you do nothing but slowly kill yourself while running in place. There have got to be better solutions for intelligent, hard-working people. So much brain power is going to waste while only the tiniest fraction of people ever see their ideas turned into new technology ventures.

We, as a nation, and as a global community have got to figure out how to tap more of the brain power and potential which is out there, if we want to have any hope of overcoming the problems which exist in the world today.

Tips on buying a mattress

If you go shopping for a mattress unprepared you could end up dropping thousands of dollars more than you expected. Some people are not surprised by this, but the rest of us probably weren't even aware that it was possible to have a mattress that costs in excess of $4000-5000. Mine was far more modest, because I resolved to buy it only with the money I had and not on any kind of financing that would encourage me to spend more now and pay later. As one might expect, those "financing" deals usually have APRs in the 25% range. Given all that, here are some tips that could save you some money.

Usually the more expensive mattresses are the ones near the front. The cheap mattresses usually aren't even set up on a bedframe, but are stacked on their side toward the back of the store.

Those are usually the ones that are advertised as on sale. You should make sure that you bring any advertisement with you to the store, because otherwise they will go based upon the prices on the tag and pretend that knocking a little bit off that price is a big deal. It's usually nowhere near the advertised teaser deals. It's also good, if possible, to go in with a friend or relative who has a military id, or who is a senior citizen, since they will sometimes give discounts to those individuals.

Another game the mattress stores like to play is charging for the mattress frame and delivery. In reality, you could probably find a perfectly fine, basic mattress frame for $5 to $10. They will charge a minimum of $40 to $80 for essentially the same basic metal frame. This doesn't include any special head board, foot board, etc.

They will usually also charge at least $40-60 for same day delivery. If you have a friend with a truck or van then you can save on this too.

Often the stores will claim that they have money-back guarantees, but the major conditions is that there can be no stains, snags, tears, etc on the mattress and the legal tag cannot be removed. I would recommend that you buy a can of Scotchgard and spray the mattress thoroughly. This will make it much easier to remove stains that may occur. Most people don't want to sleep on a plastic protector sheet that they sometimes make for people who are chronic bed-wetters, though I've known people who will take these kinds of measures to protect their beds.

Many of the mattresses come with 5 or 10 year warranties. Of course they do not cover all types of damage. Usually they cover defects that might lead to "collapse" or "mattress failure". These warranties are usually factored into the price, but I would not buy any additional warranty. In some of the places I went they were selling warranties as long as 20 years, but realistically, who is going to have the same mattress for 20 years? Do you really know that the company you bought it from will be there in 20 years to honor the warranty. 10 years is the max that would probably be reasonable for most people to warranty.