Dec 212008

December 2004 Issue 2
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Have the Happiest of Holiday Seasons and a prosperous 2005!
From us and ours, to you and yours!

New Year’s Resolution?   How About a New Job?
Dan Simmons (about Dan)

As you all know, the holiday season is traditionally the time when many people make their resolutions for the upcoming New Year. And there is virtually no end to the kinds and types of resolutions that people make. One of the more popular ones, of course, is to lose weight (similar to the resolution that President George Bush made following his most recent physical). Other popular New Year’s resolutions include quitting smoking or starting a workout regiment.

It’s interesting to note that many of these resolutions are health-related. But while some people are focusing on the health of their bodies as they contemplate their traditional pledges, why not focus on the health of your career, as well? There’s no doubt that the job market has been especially tight these past few years, due in large part to the most recent recession, which analysts have called the most severe since the Great Depression.

The good news, though, is that the haze is lifting and the economy is in the midst of a steady recovery. Jobs are becoming more abundant, and more and more of those jobs are attractive positions. Companies are seeing the need to hire again, and as always, they want to hire the best and brightest. Are you one of the millions of employees who aren’t completely happy or satisfied with where you are? Or maybe you deem your job as “okay”, nothing that’s horrible but nothing to write home about, either. Then perhaps your New Year’s resolution for 2005 should simply be this: to find a better job.

Regardless of your level of job satisfaction, there is one ritual, besides a New Year’s resolution, that you should undertake at the end of each year. That ritual is an achievement analysis and corresponding updating of your resume. Keeping tabs on your professional accomplishment now will make updating your resume a snap, saving time and effort during your next position change or job search.

Open a new document on your computer and type “Career Accomplishments 2004” at the top of the page. Next, list the companies you worked for this past year, the titles you held, and the projects on which you worked. If you changed jobs or worked on multiple assignments, list the number of months you worked at each company. List all training courses, certifications, awards, and promotions you received. Mention any articles or tips you’ve written and where they were published. List the three best projects you completed in 2004 and write three to four sentences summarizing each project. Most importantly, list your role on each project. If you are in sales, list the number of accounts you sold, the dollar value of these sales, and the amount of product you sold. Additionally, list how your sales compared to the sales target that was set for you. Mention all additional accomplishments for which you’d like recognition. Now hit the save button, and you’re ready to upgrade your resume at a moment’s notice.

And why is that important? Because there are literally more and more job openings on the market every day. Your perfect job could be out there. Do you really want to be unprepared to find it (or unprepared when it finds you)? Losing weight and quitting smoking are noble endeavors, to be sure. But the single most important New Year’s resolution for you this year could be to find a better job.

After all, when you’ve found a job you truly enjoy, your stress level decreases; which means you’ll eat less and be less prone to pick up that cigarette. Having a healthy career can provide ways to improve other areas of your life, as well. Don’t be unprepared. Do all that you can to make sure that 2005 is your best year ever, all the way around.

Goverment Refines Mad Cow Testing
Don Hunter (about Don)

As we prepare to enter a New Year, mad cow disease is certainly a topic of conversation in the Animal Science industry, especially considering the developments of this past year. It was just one year ago that the only confirmed case of mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE), occurred in the United States. (The case in question involved a Canadian-born holstein in Washington state.)

Since that time, the government has been doing a lot to enhance its testing program for the disease, especially in the last four months. Since August, the Department of Agriculture has made at least one major change in its testing policy. Now, instead of just one positive test, the department requires two such tests from an animal suspected to have the disease before any public announcement is made concerning the case.

This change stems in part from a series of events that occurred this past summer. First, in late June the Department of Agriculture announced the possibility of two new mad cow disease cases. However, those cases were eventually proven false by the National Veterinary Services Laboratory. And as you might have guessed, the department made that announcement after only one preliminary test, not two.

The Department of Agriculture is certainly right in devoting a lot of time to more accurate and rigorous testing measures for mad cow disease. First, there is the severity of the disease to consider, as well as its potential for great harm. BSE attacks and debilitates an animal’s central nervous system. While that’s bad news for the cow, that’s even worse news for people who eat meat taken from the cow. If people eat contaminated meat, they can fall prey to a disease called variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.

According to the World Health Organization, variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a “a rare and fatal human neurodegenerative condition.” What does that mean, exactly? Well, the WHO breaks it down even further, as follows:

“Early in the illness, patients usually experience psychiatric symptoms, which most commonly take the form of depression or, less often, a schizophrenia-like psychosis. Unusual sensory symptoms, such as “stickiness” of the skin, have been experienced by half of the cases early in the illness. Neurological signs, including unsteadiness, difficulty walking, and involuntary movements, develop as the illness progresses and, by the time of death, patients become completely immobile and mute.”

Clearly, mad cow disease and its potential impact on the public health are not to be underestimated. Even though the Department of Agriculture is improving its testing procedures, there is much more that needs to be done. Many critics are advocating a national tracking system for livestock and poultry, an endeavor that is sure to take a fair amount of time to develop and implement.

In the meantime, the results of definitive testing on a second possible case of mad cow disease in the United States is expected to be released this week. This second case is undergoing the Department of Agriculture’s new two-test method of determining whether or not an animal does indeed have the disease. And if the testing process does confirm a second case of mad cow in the U.S., the department could discover that public concern over the disease may overshadow any progress it has been able to make in the effectiveness of its preventative measures.

And until the disease is largely eradicated, that’s a phenomenon that will last well beyond the New Year.

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