Thursday, May 8, 2008

Week Fourteen

In this blog entry, I want to talk about my future. Mostly because it won't require me to do any research and it's something that's fresh on my mind right now.

I took my last spring semester final exam the other day, and although I'm on my way to Mexico to study abroad this summer before I graduate, I can't help but thing about what's to come next.

I wonder if I'm ready. I wonder what type of person I'll be in the workplace. I wonder about what my next group of friends will be like. I wonder if my college years were the best ones of my life.

I just look at my parents or my elders altogether and am amazed that they have lived so much longer than me. It's crazy for me to think about how much more they have been through than I have and how much stronger they are than me. They've gone through heartbreak, the loss of loved ones, separation from some of their friends, maybe money problems, maybe they've witnessed something horrible, etc. I just think I've experienced a lot, but then I think about people who have lived three, four or five times my life span and just am floored to think what will have come through my path.

It's just coming more of a reality lately; now that I'm about to end an important stage in my life. Not only am I leaving college, but I'm ending my softball career, and that's something that's been a huge part of my life since I was 10 years old. It's kind of surreal, and it hasn't hit me too hard yet.

I just wonder what affect it will have on my first career. Will I work in PR? Is it really even for me? I really just picked this major because one of my friends (whom I am not even that terribly close with) told me that was what she was doing on the phone one day. I was like, "That sounds cool." And that was it. Easy as that.

I know it'll all fall into place; I'm not worried.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Week Thirteen

I’m excited about our class party. I think it’ll be a great time. I have really enjoyed my time with our class, and I think we’re a pretty good group of kids. It makes me anticipate working one day, because I figure my co-workers will have a similar feel to what our class had. It will probably be mostly girls, and the people will be educated and well-spoken. They’ll have their opinions, which won’t always mesh with one another, and you’ll always have those personalities that are unforgettable. I enjoyed this class largely because of its small size; I think it’s a healthy number. We have had our ups and downs, and I think with a different teacher, the class would have had a dissimilar atmosphere. I think with another teacher, things would have been forced more.

You got out of this class what you put into it, and I think that’s how the real world will be. Nobody is going to really force you to do anything, and when you choose not to apply yourself, you’ll learn the hard way that maybe you should have went about something differently. I learned more in this class than any other one I took this semester for that very reason; I applied myself more in this class even though it was the one I missed most often.

I really hope to stay in touch with everyone, and I’m sure by some weird twist of fate, I’ll randomly run into one of my Ethics classmates down the road. I look forward to that. We’ll talk about our masterpiece Wikipedia assignment or the trip we took to Golin-Harris. We’ll laugh remembering something someone said in class one day, and it’ll be nice. Really, when I think about it, I think the tipping point to enjoying this class so much was because we made one another laugh. Also though, I really had a sincere interest in the material. Deciphering between right and wrong is really what life is about, and that made me anticipate coming to class every week. I applied myself to this class because I know it will help me in the long run. I know I can hold on to something from Cosmopolitanism or our case studies that will help me out someday, and it may not even be in the workplace.

Like I said earlier, I really hope we keep in touch. And hopefully, I remember to bring the chips Monday.

Week Twelve

I haven’t done much research on it, but it seems lately that a lot of corporations are hitting this “go green” idea really hard. I think it’s great; it’s awesome that companies in America are making an effort to help save the environment and doing their part, but there’s something else about the whole movement that kind of gets on my nerves.

I guess just since it’s all coming out at once, I feel like one of the main reasons corporations are jumping on this fad bandwagon is because they feel pressured into doing so, not so much because they know it’s the right thing to do. I just feel like they, as someone in another one of my classes put it, are “going green to get green.” It just irks me. I have no proof to back my theory, and maybe I’m just being a pessimist, but something about it just appears fake to me.

Another concern I have about this is how long it will really last. Being environment-friendly is a lifestyle change. I think about diets in the States that people test out, and look at where that has taken us. It’s fine for a couple of months, but after that, things are back to the way they were. It’s just easier to do what you want; it’s easier to go to the drive-thru instead of park and go inside, and it’s easier to give in to that tempting hamburger instead of eating a salad. I’m just concerned that America as a whole lacks the will power to stay committed to this, in my opinion, vital trend. Americans want things that are easy and more importantly not time consuming, and going green requires a time commitment and a sort of training, if you will. I just don’t know if it will really happen.

Week Eleven

This past Friday, the majority of our class took a trip to Golin-Harris in Dallas. It was great for me because I had never been inside a PR agency before.

There wasn’t one thing I didn’t like, other than the fact that I feel so behind in furthering my career compared to all of my classmates.

I liked being dressed up in business stuff for a day. It’s not what I‘m usually dressed in, but I know that I’ll get used to a new wardrobe once this school year is over with. It’s weird to think that one day I won’t be the girl who wears sweats and a t-shirt every day.

I enjoyed the atmosphere; there was some feeling of professionalism and yet a laid-back kind of vibe that made me feel comfortable.

I liked the people there. They seemed educated and friendly, and I could see some people had a good sense of humor. I’m going to need to be around people who can make me laugh. I can’t be around a bunch of stiffs every day.

It’s exciting to know that soon things are going to change in my life… in a big way. But it is scary. It’s because I’m just unfamiliar with anything different, and I realize that. Sitting in that office Friday, something I thought about a lot was just how things are going to be in a years time or five years time.

I thought about all the mistakes I will have made at work and wondered what friends I will have made. I thought about who will be “that person” in our office. You know? Like the “Dwight.”

Anyway, those were just some of my thoughts throughout the day.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Week Ten

I’m right in the middle of my season for softball, and for this week, I’m going to talk about how my team has issues that could be solved using PR tactics.

For the most part, we are a very healthy group of girls. I would challenge anyone to find a set of 18 females who get along as a unit as well as we do. They’re my best friends in the world, and I think they always will be. There’s something about being a part of a team that makes you have closer friends I think than you ever will have from another group of people. The "something" is the amount of time you spend with one another.

Along with the time commitment, though, comes tension and disagreement and personality clashes and a little bit of drama. We’re with one another six days a week for four months, and after a while I guess it’s inevitable that claws are going to come out.

During the games now, some of the non-starters bicker on the bench about how they could be doing a better job or how things are ridiculous or whatever. It makes me think about how I could fix the problem through some of the things I have learned in class.

I think the best way to handle a team is to think in communitarianism ethics. We have to work for the betterment of the majority and within our community. We have to do what’s best for the most of us. Not everybody is going to be happy all of the time.

And we are doing that. The majority of the team doesn’t bitch all of the time and isn’t negative. But it’s those couple people who hold us back from something more that we all deserve.

How do you handle co-workers who aren’t on the same page as the rest? How do you get them on the bandwagon? Is it best to get rid of them? Is it best to let them go and have them wear themselves out? What if you have done too much mentoring already and your words fall on deaf ears?

It's wearing.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Week Nine

I got this from Brian's blog. I don't know how to better write this one than to look at direct quotes from the article he provided and give direct feedback.

When water providers find pharmaceuticals in drinking water, they rarely tell the public. When researchers make the same discoveries, they usually don’t identify the cities involved.
There are plenty of reasons offered for the secrecy: concerns about national security, fears of panic, a feeling that the public will not understand — even confidentiality agreements.
“That’s a really sensitive subject,” said Elaine Archibald, executive director of California Urban Water Agencies, an 11-member organization comprised of the largest water providers in California. She said many customers “don’t know how to interpret the information. They hear something has been detected in source water and drinking water, and that’s cause for alarm — just because it’s there.”

Problem: It's a cause for alarm because most people in the States are 1. uninformed 2. uneducated and/or 3. lazy. People don't care what's going on around them enough. I know that I'm stereotyping and not all people are like this, but I'm just saying that a lot of people have pre-conceived notions based on stupid pretenses. That, and people are way too damn paranoid.

As The Associated Press documented in a five-month investigation, drinking water provided to at least 41 million people living in 24 major metropolitan areas has tested positive for trace amounts of pharmaceuticals.
Reports don't reveal all. Most Americans probably think they have a good idea of what’s being detected in their water. Federal law requires water providers to distribute annual “consumer confidence reports” that reveal levels of regulated contaminants. Providers are not, however, required to tell people if they find a contaminant that is not on a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency list. And there are no pharmaceuticals on the EPA list.

What is logic in not requiring providers to tell the public if they find a non-EPA contaminant? Are those reasons ethical or are they just put into effect to save their own asses? That'd be nice to know, and I'd like to not believe the latter theory.
In Philadelphia, the water department has not informed its 1.5 million users that traces of 56 pharmaceuticals or their byproducts — like the active ingredients in drugs to treat depression, anxiety, high cholesterol, fever and pain — have been detected in the drinking water, and that 63 pharmaceuticals or byproducts had been found in the city’s source watersheds.
Initially balking at the AP’s request to provide test results, Philadelphia Water Department spokeswoman Laura Copeland said, “It would be irresponsible to communicate to the public about this issue, as doing so would only generate questions that scientific research has not yet answered. We don’t want to create the perception where people would be alarmed.”

I get that. You're not going to release incomplete information to the public. It would be stupid to let people know that stuff is in water and not be able to answer with conviction the heavy load of questions about safety concerns and what will happen to the people who are drinking it and so on and so forth. The problem here though is, they already have created the perception where people are alarmed. They already have unanswered questions and paranoia has already risen. Maybe unjustifiably so, but nevertheless, it's present.

New York City water officials declined repeated requests for an interview and waited more than three months before participating in an AP survey, supplying information only after being informed that every other major city in the nation had cooperated.

This makes sense; they were making sure everyone was on the same page so they wouldn't dig themselves a bigger hole.

The AP learned that the New York state health department and the U.S. Geological Survey detected heart medicine, infection fighters, estrogen, anti-convulsants, a mood stabilizer and the active ingredient in an anti-anxiety medication in the city’s watershed upstate. And the city’s Department of Environmental Protection ultimately said that it does not test its downstate drinking water.
Officials in Arlington, Texas, said pharmaceuticals had been detected in source water but wouldn’t say which ones or in what amounts, citing security concerns. Julie Hunt, director of water utilities, said to provide the public with information regarding “which, if any, pharmaceuticals or emerging compounds make it through the treatment process can assist someone who wishes to cause harm through the water supply.”

Mayor Robert Cluck later said a trace amount of one pharmaceutical had survived the treatment process and had been detected in drinking water. He declined to name the drug, saying identifying it could cause a terrorist to intentionally release more of it, causing significant harm to residents.
“I don’t want to take that chance,” Cluck said. “There is no public hazard and I don’t want to create one.”
Ron Rhodes, water treatment plant supervisor in Emporia, Kan., explained why he wouldn’t disclose whether his community’s source water or drinking water had been tested for pharmaceuticals. “Well, it’s because of 9/11. We want everybody to guess.”
How, Rhodes was asked, could it endanger anyone to know if Emporia’s water has been screened for traces of pharmaceutical compounds?
“We’re not putting out more information than we have to put out,” said Rhodes. “How about that?”

Milwaukee’s water department is an anomaly, posting on its Web site an 11-page detailed drinking water quality report that includes test results for 450 unregulated contaminants, including pharmaceuticals. While they found minute concentrations of cotinine, a nicotine derivative, they didn’t detect hundreds of other contaminants including estrogens and other hormones, acetaminophen and ibuprofen.
When asked what power the EPA had to require public disclosure when pharmaceutical contamination is discovered in a water provider’s supplies, Benjamin H. Grumbles, the agency’s assistant administrator for water, said, “We work very closely with utilities across the country and we encourage them to share with their community information they find out about their source water.”
But there’s no such requirement if the detected contaminant is not regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act, he said in response to a question.

'More work to do'
Grumbles was asked how he thought water providers have been responding to the EPA’s “encouragement.”
“I think we have more work to do,” he said.
Several hours after the interview, Grumbles issued a statement: “As head of the National Water Program, I will do everything in my authority to make certain that public water suppliers inform their consumers if they detect pharmaceuticals in the drinking water.”
It’s not just the water departments that have failed to disclose such information.
The AP spoke with many scientists, federally funded researchers, university professors and private drinking water experts who have detected pharmaceuticals in drinking water, but would not say where they had obtained their samples.
Archibald said her organization joined an American Water Works Association Research Foundation study with the understanding that secrecy would be assured.
“We agreed ahead of time that no specific agency would be mentioned in terms of which place had detections,” Archibald said. She insisted that even she didn’t have the test results. “It’s all being held very carefully. Water agencies were assigned numbers so none of us would even know what was detected in each other’s water.”
Robert Renner, the foundation’s executive director, said AWWARF study participants are routinely promised anonymity. “Being involved in a study, they don’t want this information blown out all over,” he said.
Fearing public will overreact

Citing confidentiality agreements, he declined to name the 20 different drinking water treatment plants around the U.S. where pharmaceuticals have been detected in water heading to more than 10 million people.
“It’s a hard topic to talk about without creating fear in the general public,” Renner said.
Some said those fears could lead to much larger problems than the actual contamination.
Doctors “don’t want people to be afraid to take their medicine because of environmental concerns,” said Virginia Cunningham, an environmental executive for drug maker GlaxoSmithKline PLC.

But what about on the flipside? What are the health concerns if people do continue to drink the contaminated water? Do they just want to cover themselves and hold off lawsuits of people who would claim to have health problems? Sure, but what if the water is the problem. Then, there's a big ethics concern.
Utilities also generally only allow scientists to test their water if they ensure confidentiality. In order for research to progress, scientists “need the confidence of utilities and other public/private stakeholders to allow us access to waters which we can study without any negative implications for those stakeholders,” said Howard Weinberg, an environmental chemist at University of North Carolina. “Without this confidence, such research could not be undertaken.”
John Vargo, program manager at the University of Iowa’s University Hygienic Laboratory, said he found traces of pharmaceuticals in the finished drinking water of several major Midwestern cities but, under terms of those contracts, he could not disclose their identity.
Peter Rogers, Harvard University professor of environmental engineering, said improvements in detection techniques could help fuel fears among the general public.
“We’re chasing this down to molecular-sized measurements, so the more you look, the more you find,” said Rogers. “I think the government and utilities are quite right to be very skittish about telling people their results. People will claim it is causing all sorts of problems. If I were a water utility, I would stop those measurements right away because if you measure something, it will get out, and people will overreact. I can just imagine a whole slew of lawsuits.”

I definitely agree with Rogers here. Like I said above, people will overreact. People will sue. People will probably make up conspiracy theories. It's a problem that stems from something else; a number of things. There are many ways in which this "problem" bothers me.
1. It's amazing to me how many people take medicines today. And I truely believe that a lot of people who take medicines for things like depression or anxiety or restless leg syndrome or whatever could get over it if they weren't told by the media or people they're surrounded by every day that they may have it. I just think people are a lot tougher than they ever allow themselves to be. I don't mean this for all people. Medicine cures and I get that. I had the flu last week and some medicine made me better sooner than all of the people I was around who had it. I'm just saying that for some people, some simple mental health exersize could be the solution.
2. People who are sick would try to milk every cent from whoever they think they could sue. That pisses me off. Greed is a horrible sin.
3. You're not even supposed to flush your left over medicines down the sink or toilet. Didn't people's moms teach them that?
4. Who knows what we consume every day without our knowledge. And I'm pretty sure that most of us live.

A lot of problems we come across today are so avoidable if they were dealt with earlier. A little education, a little knowledge and know-how. Maybe even knowing a little less about things to avoid paranoia could work. This stemmed from so many things.

I hope everyone has a great Spring Break.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Week Eight

This past week was the Texas Primary (or is it “were the Texas Primaries”?) so I think that’s an appropriate subject to write about. I did not vote because I don’t feel like I have know enough on all of the candidates to make the most educated, well-rounded vote. However, I plan on being confident in my vote for President come Nov., whether that will be picking a candidate I am confident in or choosing between what I feel is the lesser of two evils.

Politics really interest me. I’d like to learn more about the psychology of it all; what makes people be left- or right-winged, outside influences, strategies for politicians, what goes on under the table, etc. and I know that public affairs people are right in the middle of all of that. I hate the stereotype politicians have; I think it’s pathetic that things are like that in the States. Those people make decisions that dictate our safety and future as a country, and I know I have heard in class that the government is one of the least trusted industries in the nation. That just doesn’t make much sense to me. Where did that distrust stem from, anyway?

This morning, I was talking to one of my friends about Obama, and she was saying that she didn’t fully trust him because he reads the Koran and attended a Muslim public school for a couple of years. One of my other friends had overheard us talking about it and printed off an article (from what I consider an unreliable source mind you… It was from an urban legends Web site) acknowledging the claims and telling the “truth” of it all. Apparently there were also rumors of him not putting his hand over his heart while the National Anthem was playing at some function he was at and that he was a radical Muslim.

Despite what is the truth, I just thought of how his campaign team had to “right the wrongs” of the rumors flying. I thought of the research they had to do and the ways they had to present the facts of Obama without stepping on any Muslim organization’s toes. And I thought about how quickly they had to present and distribute all of this information.

I imagine if rumors leaked out and they were completely false, I would enjoy having a job where I was supposed to set the records straight and be the one who said, “No, you‘re wrong, and this is why…” and sound really smart after those ellipse

Anyway, if we get class time, I’d like to talk about the presidential elections. I’d like to see what everyone thinks. Last Tuesday in Wells’ nonprofit class, a few students pitched the person they were voting for and why, and I really enjoyed hearing everyone’s differing opinions. I liked the tension.