Why Sustainable Agriculture Remains Relevant in the New Economy

Allan Savory and Bren Smith, who spoke in the 35th Annual E.F. Schumacher Lectures that was entitled Cattle & Kelp: Agriculture in a New Economy, suggested that a new approach should be taken towards agriculture.

This was in view of the fact that the current approach is not sustainable in the long run due to the prevalent issues of declining soil fertility, soil erosion, drought and super pests.

Many innovative companies have also been using agricultural technology to make agriculture sustainable, and have acknowledged the fact that this sector plays a crucial role in the new economy.

Agriculture remains relevant today for several reasons. It is widely perceived as the key to feeding the estimated nine billion individuals in the world by 2050, and will also help to increase the number of jobs.

1. Sustainable agriculture may be the solution to prevent a looming food crisis.

Price volatility and high food prices will result in a food crisis, which places food production issues and agricultural growth back on the development agenda.

Both Savory and Smith have developed agricultural models that are based on natural systems. Smith pioneered the development of restorative 3D ocean farming; this farming model was designed with the aim of mitigating climate change, restoring ocean ecosystems and creating jobs for fishermen while also ensuring that communities were supplied with healthy, local food.

There are also several companies who are using agricultural technology to prevent a food crisis. According to The Economist, the products and services that these firms are developing will significantly contribute to increasing food yields and quality, which is needed to feed the nine billion individuals living on this planet by 2050.

2. Sustainable agriculture will be able to create jobs in the new economy

According to Akinwumi Adesina, the President of the African Development Bank, the agricultural sector has four times the power to create jobs and reduce poverty in Africa as compared to other sectors.

Essentially, agriculture can help countries to diversify their economies, be less dependent on food imports, increase jobs, and revive rural areas.
In the United States, despite the fact that agricultural revenue and export opportunities have been high, rural areas have been losing their population. If this were to continue, these areas will lose their economic stability and many of its national assets.

However, if the trend is reversed successfully, the economy as a whole can benefit from long-term growth. Rural areas will also prosper. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is therefore investing in the perceived areas of opportunity for agricultural growth; these include supporting new and beginning ranchers and farmers, local and regional food systems, as well as the economy.

In conclusion, it is crucial that countries place greater importance on their agricultural sector. Africa, which is currently leading the Fourth Industrial Revolution, has more than 70 percent of its farmers utilising information and communications technology. Additionally, its agricultural and agribusiness industry is projected to hit a net worth of US$1 trillion by 2030.

This highlights the need for other countries to improve their agricultural sector, as it can help to decrease food imports and increase job opportunities for their citizens, as well as improve the state of its economy overall.

The Advantages of Booking YMCA Classes Online

Several times a year I spend time trying to figure out which activities I am going to sign my kids up for at the YMCA. I spend hours poring over their booklet trying to match available activity times with the kids’ home and school schedule.

My first step is to try to remember the name of the last Ballet, gymnastics, basketball or swim class that they had finished so that I don’t mistakenly schedule them for a class they had previously taken. When I finally feel confident that I have figured that out I highlight the classes I need to sign the kids up for in the YMCA booklet and head for the YMCA, with kids in tow, to schedule their appointments. I had tried doing this over the phone in the past but was disappointed when they had scheduled my daughter for the wrong swimming class and the one I wanted her in was filled up by the time I noticed the error. So I opt for reserving the classes in person to avoid these types of mistakes, even though it is a hassle having to make this extra trip.

On the first day of my sons swimming class I noticed that the class my son was in had 12 children and one swimming instructor. This was okay, but a class at the other end of the pool had only 4 children with one instructor so they were receiving a more individualized instruction. I mentioned this observation to the woman next to me and she said that the YMCA provides a way to view the class sizes online. She went on to tell me that she views each class she is interested in and chooses the one that is least filled. It turns out that her daughter does not do well in large group settings and the online service allows her to choose a class that is better suited for her child.

I was very much intrigued by this and inquired at the front desk about viewing the YMCA class availability online. The YMCA gave me all the information I needed to log on from home and view all the classes and class sizes from home. I also found out that I could utilize the online service to view the history of which classes each of my children had completed, schedule the classes and pay for them all from home. This turned out to be a huge time saver for me and also gave me the peace of mind that the correct classes were scheduled.

I can say without a doubt that the best way to find and reserve the correct classes at the YMCA is to book them online.

Energy Healing and the Sacred Art of Transmission

In a sense, we are all transmitting, or broadcasting energy all of the time via our thoughts, feelings and beliefs, as everything is energy and has frequency. Yet I wanted to go deeper here and share with you what I know to be possible, which I am referring to as the “sacred art of transmission” as it is a much more powerful, precise and rare spiritual and healing gift.

It is the ability to transmit spiritual, healing, and intuitive awakenings through look, touch, voice, or even mere presence. It has been over twenty years, but I will never forget my earliest memories of energy transmissions. While some happened through my spiritual teachers, many of them occurred during Reiki healing sessions, and then in teaching and attuning others to this awesome healing art.

Reiki Energy Healing Attunements are Transmissions

After I met my first spiritual teacher, I decided to take a Reiki workshop even though I had never experienced it myself. I was just so curious and my colleague had told me of her experience awhile back, but at that time I was not open, as I had no mental “box” to put it in and kind of shelved the whole concept.

I am so grateful I did. Because I noticed that while there were many great and wise people I knew who were meditating also with the same Master, and most for much longer than me, it was not common for anyone but the energy healers to expect to be able to transmit this potent energy and spiritual space. It was clearly a level of empowerment that I came to appreciate only much later. And it had to do with owning the ability to transmit energy, not just to sit in the energy.

In Reiki Level 1 there are 4 initiatory attunements, which I couldn’t possibly comprehend at that time. Reiki attunements are initiations or transmissions of energy that open the healing channels or energy pathways within everyone.

Yet I now come to realize that the Reiki Master is passing down the ability to awaken or open the healing channels that lie dormant within us all, through these specific attunements. In this instance, everyone else in class was tingling, but I feared I was a Reiki “dud” when we began to practice on each other, and everyone else’s hands were tingling, and I got nada, bupkis.

Until we got to the final two attunements. And something DEFINITELY happened. I actually heard and felt a spirit man initiating me, in addition to the woman teaching the class. When I asked who it was, I got that it was the founder, Dr. Mikao Usui, himself. I asked if he did all of the attunements with her, and she looked stunned. I can only guess that was not everyone’s experience.

Then it began happening: not from me but through me…

I have taught students, who have supposedly already taken Reiki classes with another teacher, and they were very surprised that they felt such tangible energy flow, or experienced such deep meditation states, expansion, and 3rd eye intuitive openings. I was surprised that they didn’t experience that with other teachers. It pains me, but there seem to be many people now teaching a much diluted version of what I received.

It is way more than just intention. It is more like you begin to embody the universal life energy. I now have two decades of validation that direct transmission is happening through me, and not just in Reiki attunements or private sessions. It begins to flow through you like water… and not just via the hands. One Reiki student was walking with me and we stopped at a small waterfall flowing into a pond. She gasped, and said that something was coming out of my eyes; a light, and it felt just like a healing session.

Another time, I met with a new neighbor and she was describing her chronic back pain. I felt deep compassion for her and wanted to help in some way, but it felt too early in the conversation to suggest a Reiki session. But she immediately felt relief, and asked “are you doing that thing you do, cuz my back feels better and better.”

Over time, the knowing what is possible, turns to probable. Now, with very little effort on my part I can align and focus my eyes, my feet, my heart, my thoughts and healing happens, calm serene stillness descends, light radiates. I used to be shy about stating these things, feeling like it was ego. But now I know I must tell you all what is possible for you, just as it became possible for me. I see my students stepping into this mind-blowing reality that they, too can transmit healing energy. There is nothing that delights me more!

Organic Food As a Fast-Growing Segment of US Agriculture

Lately organic food is gaining popularity, the trend being stable for at least five years. The recent research conducted by the Food Marketing Institute provides proof that majority of American citizens buy organic food at least once a month.

This segment of US agriculture shows rapid growth. Only in 2007 organic food retailers earned more than 20 billion dollars. The annual growth of organic dairy industry is estimated to be 18 percent by the year 2010.

Let us have a look at the main idea beneath organic food production, i.e. using materials and practices that could improve the ecological balance of natural systems. We cannot be absolutely sure that organic products are free of residues yet there are best practices involved in production that are directed at minimizing pollution from air, soil and water. And organic food production is controlled y strict state and federal standards, too.

Thus mostly people tend to treat organic food as that which is devoid of fertilizers or pesticides. Nonetheless the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) labelled food as organic if it is 95 percent pure.

Sometimes products contain only 70 percent of organic materials or even less. This kind of food cannot be called organic but it can be labelled “made with organic ingredients”. Thus you should differentiate between these forms of products at the supermarket.

De facto non-organic practices in the USA release more than one billion pounds of pesticides. The USDA’s tests prove that organic products contain three or four times less pesticide residues than in conventionally produced fruits and vegetables.

And conventional practices in agriculture can result in water contamination. According to Environmental Working Group’s research that was conducted back in 1955 across the Corn Belt, in Louisiana and Maryland, scientists concluded that tap water pesticide contamination was at health risk levels. The solution was in organic farming methods, as well as developing the soil.

It is important to notice that the term organic has another meaning than organic. Sometimes food producers seeking higher sales and good reputation make tricks by labelling their food as natural as it does not comply to organic food standards.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows using the term natural for food that does not contain any added colourings, artificial ingredients or synthetic substances.

That is why more and more non-organic producers try to present their products as good for health and thus, in 2008, about one third of all new US food and beverage products were labelled with the word “natural”.

An Aion Primer – Basic Aion Guide

The massively multiplayer online RPG known as Aion (full name: “Aion: Tower Of Eternity”) is NCSoft’s latest foray into the MMORPG genre. So, what’s Aion all about and what makes it different from the myriad of other popular MMO games on the market now? This article aims to be your guide to the world of Aion, to give you a primer on the basics of how Aion works and what you can expect from the game.

The game takes place in two separate “worlds”, Elysea and Asmodae, inhabited by the Elyos and Asmodians, respectively. Elysea is bright and cheerful, whereas Asmodae is more dark and sinister. Players begin the game as humans in whichever world they choose. Players gain experience by completing quests and defeating enemies, which they then use to “level up” their characters. Once characters reach the required level, they become winged immortals known as “Daevas”. Once a character has become a Daeva, they travel to the capital city of whichever world they inhabit, to begin their new lives. Features

Character Creation & Customization

An important feature in any RPG, Aion features a robust character creation and customization system. This system allows players to fine-tune the height, weight and scale of various body parts. A variety of hair styles, skin colors, facial textures and voices are available to choose from. Players can go really in-depth with their character’s detailing, by adjusting eye shape/color, nose shape, ear size/shape, and tattoos for the character’s face and/or body. Aion also features the ability to dye a character’s equipment to change its color, and the ability to interchange graphics between weapons and armor that the characters have in their inventory (though this graphic swapping must be done between items of the same type).

Skill Chains

Many RPGs allow characters to gain and improve new skills as they progress. Aion introduces a subtle twist to this game mechanic with “Skill Chains”. With “Skill Chains”, skill upgrades may only be performed in a certain order (hence the term “chain”).

Classes

There are four “primary” classes: Warrior, Mage, Scout, or Priest. Once characters reach level 9, the player can then choose from two “specialized” classes related to their original “primary” class. Warriors can become either a “Templar” or “Gladiator”. Likewise, Mages can become either a “Sorcerer” or “Spirit Master”, Scouts can be either “Assassin” or “Ranger”, and Priests can become either a “Cleric” or a “Chanter”. Professions

On top of your character classes, there are six “crafting” professions (Alchemy, Cooking, Tailoring, Handicrafting, Weaponsmithing, and Armorsmithing) and two “extracting” professions. The extracting professions are learned automatically by each player, but the crafting professions must be learned manually. A single character is able to learn ALL of the crafting professions, but only master two. Becoming a “master” of a profession gives the player a fancy title and a boost to his or her stats.

Grouping

Players can join together to form a “group”. Groups can accommodate up to six players. Certain parts of Aion are designed for group play, and in some areas a group is required for entrance. Building on the group mechanic, in Aion up to four groups may form what is known as an “alliance” when greater numbers are needed. However, being a part of an alliance can limit your rewards from smaller quests intended for single or group play.

PvPvE system

The “Abyss” is a PvP area physically located between the two game worlds. Once characters reach higher levels, much of the game of Aion revolves around PvP encounters in this area. The Abyss features strongholds which can be controlled by “Legions” (Aion for “guild”). Players battle it out to gain and keep control of these various strongholds. Again, Aion introduces another twist with siege weapons players can obtain from raids, and use in these battles. Control of a stronghold means income from taxes, and players get perks from stores and NPCs. Battling it out with your fellow players in the Abyss will get you “Abyss Points”. These points are used to rank you among the rest of the Aion players out there. Why does this matter? Well, higher ranks unlock visual upgrades to your characters wings, and you can use your Abyss points to purchase high-end armor and weapons.

Some Interesting Common Cold Statistics For The New Season

Common cold statistics provided by government agencies indicate that on the average children have six to ten colds per year, but some children have as many as twelve. Seeking treatment for a common cold is one of the leading causes of doctor visits, though doctors can do little to treat the illness. Antibiotics are ineffective and should not be taken for common cold prevention or treatment. Over use of antibiotics is believed to be the cause of an increase in more resistant strains of bacteria.

What to take for a common cold is a matter of some debate. Practically everyone has there own home remedy and researchers have studied many of these for effectiveness and safety. Over the counter drugs such as antihistamines have been evaluated for their effectiveness in treating common cold symptoms and while research indicates that these products are safe when used as directed, many of them may be ineffective. One study showed that the most effective of these over the counter drugs is one called guaifenesin, an expectorant.

Common cold statistics relating to lost days of school indicate that 22 million school days are lost each year on account of the illness. However, many products should not be taken by children. The directions for a common cold remedy will typically say “not for children under 12” and may advise doctor consultation. Additionally, parents should not give child aspirin or products that contain aspirin because of the established link between aspirin use, viral infections and Reye’s syndrome, a rare, but sometimes life threatening disease than can follow viral infections in children. A number of infant and toddler deaths have been associated with overdoses of over the counter cold remedies. When treating your children, read directions carefully, age and weight are factors. Those products that are designed for “children” are usually not safe for infants. Always check with your doctor before given any over the counter medication to a child.

Adult common cold statistics vary greatly. On the average, most adults have two or three colds per year, but some people have none and some have more than three. Those who care for school age children probably have more than the average. People who have asthma are more susceptible to colds. Scientists studying asthma patients found that they produce less than average anti-viral proteins. Anti-viral proteins, produced by specialized blood cells, can prevent a virus from being able to reproduce and can destroy viruses by attaching to them and causing holes in their cellular walls. Products that stimulate immune system function are sometimes recommended for a common cold, for this and other reasons.

Most immune system stimulants contain vitamin C. During an infection, vitamin C levels in the bloodstream decrease dramatically. Vitamins A, E and the mineral zinc are also necessary for proper immune system function. Other nutrients, such as calcium and magnesium are needed so that the cells of the body can easily absorb vitamin C. In other words, a good daily multi-vitamin, in addition to a well balanced diet, rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains can be good for a common cold and for overall good health.

The latest common cold statistics from Reuters Health Information concerns a study performed at the University of Virginia, in which researchers enlisted 15 people who were infected with the rhinovirus (the virus that causes the majority of common colds) to stay in a hotel room overnight alone. The objects in the room that the participants reported touching were swabbed and tested for active rhinovirus on the next day. The researches concluded that the virus remained active and capable of infected others for a day or longer. Previous information for a common cold causing rhinovirus indicated that the virus could remain active on surfaces for as long as three hours. What this new study means is that the virus remains active longer and is more easily transmitted than previously thought, making good health habits to prevent   transmission  even more important. To learn more about the common cold and natural products that may help reduce the number you get every year, please visit the Immune System Booster Guide.

Signs of Global Sanity? Sharing of Innovative Agricultural Solutions to Help Farmers and Consumers

Agriculture is the direct or indirect livelihood of three quarters of the world’s poor, who live in rural areas.

The 2008 food crisis and the subsequent global financial crisis, showed the extreme vulnerability of developing countries to fluctuations in food prices and supplies.

But the impact was not only on developing world farmers – it affected consumers world-wide in food scarcities, eg rice in Thailand, and higher prices.

In Nov 2008 Egypt – UNIDO (United Nations Industrial Development Organisation) sponsored the first ever international conference on Sharing Innovative Agribusiness Solutions – From Farms to Markets: Providing Know-how and Finance.

If the conference activities can be sustained it’s an initiative that would potentially benefit small farmers in developing world, consumers everywhere and the planet as a whole.

“Our vision is sustainable development”

In his opening speech Dr. Ibrahim Abouleish, Founder of SEKEM said that Sustainable development could satisfy our needs and aspirations without decreasing the chances for future generations……but that we need to learn the basic principals of ecology.

“….. Being ecologically literate means understanding the principles of organisations of ecological communities including our educational comĀ¬munities, political and business communities. So that principles of education, management and politics include the principles of ecology.”

A little about SEKEM

In 1977 the economic and social hardship of his countrymen galvanised Social Entrepreneur and medical doctor Dr Abouleish into buying 70 hectares of desert scrubland, 60 km north-east of Cairo and close to the River Nile.

He called the new experimental farm there SEKEM – from Ancient Egyptian: “vitality from the sun”.

SEKEM was able to transform the desert into a showcase example of sustainable agriculture and a healthy ecosystem through biodynamic farming methods.

Its efforts in organic cultivation led to the conversion of the entire Egyptian cotton industry to organic methods.

Starting off with a dairy and crop farm, SEKEM soon began to produce herbal teas and to market its biodynamic produce in Europe. This initiative helped other farms in Egypt to switch to biodynamic farming. A part of its mix of activities the farm uses bio-fertilizers.

The 2008 Cairo conference brought together over 400 agribusiness stakeholders from more than 65 countries, including representatives of private and public institutions (technical and financial), international organizations, donor countries, civil society, universities and research institutions to share innovative agribusiness solutions

Topics covered supply/value chains, market access and linkages, Compliance with standards and conformity assessment, Technology and value addition and Innovative forms of financing

Participants were enthusiastic about working together to achieve change. central to the debate were “Innovation and opportunity”, “partnerships based on trust” and “the need for commitment”, also the need for a holistic approach to agriculture taking into account the needs of specific groups, and avoiding the mistake of thinking that “one size fits all”.

Four key issues were identified:

1. Financial: small producers need finance to bridge the gap between initial costs and eventual benefits to help them enhance their productivity and agricultural product distribution.

2. Up to date information: small farmers and SMEs need access to up-to-date market information to enable them to compete effectively in local, regional and international markets.

One example cited was an Indian project, an e-Choupal (“choupal” means gathering place in Hindi) programme that places computers with internet access in rural farming villages; e-Choupals acted as both a social gathering place for exchange of information and an e-commerce hub.

3. Investment in supply-chain infrastructure: Governments, the food industry, agribusiness and consumer goods retailers need to invesr in supply-chain infrstructures, which have a long economic life.

e-Choupal had a role here too: Out of an initial effort to re-engineer the procurement process for soy, tobacco, wheat, shrimp and other cropping systems in rural India grew a highly profitable distribution and product design channel for the company – an e-commerce platform and also a low-cost fulfilment system focused on the specific needs of rural India

4. Use of technology: using technological know-howfor improving yields, includingbio-fertilizers applied as soil or seed inoculants and foliar spray, reduction of post-harvest losses through better product preservation techniques, quality preservation processes and innovative ingredients to reduce microbial and toxin contamination, increased cost-efficiency related to local production, collective brands and quality criteria enhancement to strengthen small-scale producers, packaging technology and efficient logistics.

A range of follow-up activities was reportedly initiated, including a new project (supported by the Italian Development Cooperation) to extend ETRACE(UNIDO’s Egyptian Traceability Centre for Agro-Industrial Exports) activities and help other developing countries to establish similar centres.

Further follow-up initiatives will focus on promotional and outreach activities such as the development of an interactive networking and matchmaking platform for agribusiness practitioners, which will allow continuous sharing of more innovative solutions and best practices with more participants and thus foster more business and development partnerships

If the momentum from this conference can be sustained the future could be brighter for all of us, consumers and farmers alike.

Copyright (c) 2010 Alison Withers

Making Investment Plans

Steps In Investing

Step 1: Meeting Investment Prerequisites-Before one even thinks of investing, they should make sure they have adequately provided for the necessities, like housing, food, transportation, clothing, etc. Also, there should be an additional amount of money that could be used as emergency cash, and protection against other various risks. This protection could be through life, health, property, and liability insurance.

Step 2: Establishing Investing Goals-Once the prerequisites are taken care of, an investor will then want to establish their investing goals, which is laying out financial objectives they wish to achieve. The goals chosen will determine what types of investments they will make. The most common investing goals are accumulating retirement funds, increasing current income, saving for major expenditures, and sheltering income from taxes.

Step 3: Adopting an Investment Plan-Once someone has their general goals, they will need to adopt an investment plan. This will include specifying a target date for achieving a goal and the amount of tolerable risk involved.

Step 4: Evaluating Investment Vehicles-Next up is evaluating investment vehicles by looking at each vehicle’s potential return and risk.

Step 5: Selecting Suitable Investments-With all the information gathered so far, a person will use it to select the investment vehicles that will compliment their goals the most. One should take into consideration expected return, risk, and tax considerations. Careful selection is important.

Step 6: Constructing a Diversified Portfolio-In order to achieve their investment goals, investors will need to pull together an investment portfolio of suitable investments. Investors should diversify their portfolio by including a number of different investment vehicles to earn higher returns and/or to be exposed to less risk as opposed to just limiting themselves to one or two investments. Investing in mutual funds can help achieve diversification and also have the benefit of it being professionally managed.

Step 7: Managing the Portfolio-Once a portfolio is put together, an investor should measure the behavior in relation to expected performance, and make adjustments as needed.

Considering Personal Taxes

Knowing current tax laws can help an investor reduce the taxes and increase the amount of after-tax dollars available for investing.

Basic Sources of Taxation-There are two main types of taxes to know about which are those levied by the federal government, and those levied by state and local governments. The federal income tax is the main form of personal taxation, while state and local taxes can vary from area to area. In addition to the income taxes, the state and local governments also receive revenue from sales and property taxes. These income taxes have the greatest impact on security investments, which the returns are in the form of dividends, interest, and increases in value. Property taxes can also have a significant impact on real estate and other forms of property investment.

Types of Income-Income for individuals can be classified into three basic categories:

1. Active Income-This can be made up of wages, salaries, bonuses, tips, pension, and alimony. It is made up of income earned on the job as well as through other forms of noninvestment income.

2. Portfolio Income-This income is from earnings produced from various investments which could be made up of savings accounts, stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, and futures, and consists of interest, dividends, and capital gains.

3. Passive Income-Income gained through real estate, limited partnerships, and other forms of tax-advantaged investments.

Investments and Taxes-Taking into tax laws is an important part of the investment process. Tax planning involves examining both current and projected earnings, and developing strategies to help defer and minimize the level of taxes. Planning for these taxes will help assist investment activities over time so that an investor can achieve maximum after-tax returns.

Tax-Advantaged Retirement Vehicles-Over the years the federal government has established several types of retirement vehicles. Employer-sponsored plans can include 401(k) plans, savings plans, and profit-sharing plans. These plans are usually voluntary and allow employees to increase the amount of money for retirement and tax advantage of tax-deferral benefits. Individuals can also setup tax-sheltered retirement programs like Keogh plans and SEP-IRAs for the self-employed. IRAs and Roth IRAs can be setup by almost anyone, subject to certain qualifications. These plans generally allow people to defer taxes on both the contributions and earnings until retirement.

Investing Over the Life Cycle

As investors age, their investment strategies tend to change as well. They tend to be more aggressive when they’re young and transition to more conservative investments as they grow older. Younger investors usually go for growth-oriented investments that focus on capital gains as opposed to current income. This is because they don’t usually have much for investable funds, so capital gains are often viewed as the quickest way to build up capital. These investments are usually through high-risk common stocks, options, and futures.

As the investors become more middle-aged, other things like educational expenses and retirement become more important. As this happens, the typical investor moves towards more higher quality securities which are low-risk growth and income stocks, high-grade bonds, preferred stocks, and mutual funds.

As the investors get closer to retirement, their focus is usually on the preservation of capital and income. Their investment portfolio is now usually very conservative at this point. It would typically consist of low-risk income stocks and mutual funds, high-yield government bonds, quality corporate bonds, CDs, and other short-term investment vehicles.

Investing In Different Economic Conditions

Even though the government has different tools or strategies for moderating economic swings, investors will still endure numerous changes in the economy while investing. An investment program must allow the investor to recognize and react to changing conditions in the economy. It is important to know where to put your money and when to make your moves.

Knowing where to put your money is the easiest part to deal with. This involves matching the risk and return objectives of an investor’s plan with the investment vehicles. For example, if there is an experienced investor that can tolerate more risk, then speculative stocks may be right for them. A novice investor that wants a decent return on their capital may decide to invest in a growth-oriented mutual fund. Although stocks and growth funds may do well in an expanding economy, they can turn out to be failures at other times. Because of this, it is important to know when to make your moves.

Knowing when to invest is difficult because it deals with market timing. Even most professional money managers, economists, and investors can’t consistently predict the market and economic movements. It’s easier to understand the current state of the market or economy. That is, knowing whether the market/economy is expanding or declining is easier to understand than trying to predict upcoming changes.

The market or economy can have three different conditions: (1) recovery or expansion, (2) decline or recession, (3) a change in the general direction of its movement. It’s fairly easy to observe when the economy is in a state of expansion or recession. The difficult part is knowing whether the existing state of the economy will continue on the course it’s on, or change direction. How an investor responds to these market conditions will depend on the types of investment vehicles they hold. No matter what the state of the economy is, an investor’s willingness to enter the capital market depends on a basic trust in fair and accurate financial reporting.

Stocks and the Business Cycle

Conditions in the economy are highly influential on common stocks and other equity-related securities. Economic conditions is also referred to as the business cycle. The business cycle mirrors the current status of a variety of economic variables which includes GDP, industrial production, personal disposable income, the unemployment rate, and more.

An expanding business cycle will be reflected in a strong economy. When business is thriving and profits are up, stock prices react by increasing in value and returns. Speculative and growth-oriented stocks tend to do especially well in strong markets. On the flip side, when economic activity is diminishing, the values and returns on common stocks tend to follow the same pattern.

Bonds and Interest Rates

Bonds and other forms of fixed-income securities are highly sensitive to movements in interest rates. The single most important variable that determines bond price behavior and returns is the interest rate. Bond prices and interest rates move in opposite directions. Lower interest rates are favorable for bonds for an investor. However, high interest rates increase the attractiveness of new bonds because they must offer high returns to attract investors.

Pit Bikes – How to Decide Which One to Buy

A pit bike differs from the dirt bikes and the mini motos in the size of their engines and the power packed in their engines. A pit bike usually has a larger engine and comes fitted with a manual gearbox and gears whereas minimotos come packed with automatic   transmission  and a centrifugal clutch.

The average maximum speed for most of the Pit bikes available readily in the market is anywhere between 40-50mph, but if you add a few accessories to your bike, you can surely get a lot more fire and power from your engine.

It is because of these performance enhancing parts, which are now becoming readily available and the otherwise constant improvement in the performance of the bikes that people have started taking a lot more interest in these bikes. It has also resulted in the setting up of various Pit Bike races and shows on international level. The popularity of this bike is going the dirt bike way. Leagues and international venues are being setup in a fashion similar to the way in which dirt biking was promoted.

Dirt bikes and dirt biking became a fashion and a sport for the adventure lovers in the 90s. There appeared a lot of leagues and similarly sponsors around that time. Dirtbiking stars suddenly became famous overnight and names like Destry Abbot, Jeremy McGrath, Derek Costella and Ryan Ambrigo became idols of dirtbiking enthusiasts.

These pro dirtbikers are a regular appearance at the famous races and shows at Las Vegas each year. These people are now also promoting pit bikes and have been spotted at various pit biking events.

Pit bikes of late have found a lot of manufacturers, both those manufacturing out of their own garage and the large companies involved in the manufacturing of other bikes as well.

Pit bikes are available in the market upwards of $500 and the price increases with the engine power, and the make. For a Pit biking enthusiast a good choice would be MonsterMoto’s 125CC bike. This bike has a 4 stroke air cooled engine and the maximum power that it can generate is roughly 9HP @ 8500 rpm. The compression ratio is about 9.6:1.

This is a good value buy because the engine is made by a company that also supplies engines to Honda, which manufactures sports bikes for events like Moto Grand Prix (Moto GP)

You can also customize your Pit bike like people do to their dirt bikes. While you can add a few parts to enhance the look of your bike, you can add a few to increase the bike’s performance. You can buy a coloured muffler to enhance you bike’s look for about $90 and you can also buy a BBR style exhaust, a stainless steel exhaust for increasing the performance of the bike.

You can similarly buy different fuel systems, carburetors etc. to improve the efficiency of the bike and also buy various accessories like alloy wheels to enhance the bikes looks.

Truly speaking, Dirt bikes and pit bikes are here to stay and will continue to rush adrenaline through the blood of all those who love adventure sitting on two wheels.

Online Agriculture Career Preparation

Becoming a part of the agriculture industry is a process that requires students to complete schooling and meet specified qualifications. Students can enter a degree program online where they learn all of the integral parts of the field. Many colleges provide online education to help students prepare for a career.

The field breaks down essential key areas that need to be learned in connection with business principles. Students can prepare for a career by completing key steps.

Key Step One: Research the Career Possibilities

Students can enter many careers in agriculture. Before enrolling in an online program it’s recommended that students consider what area of agriculture they would like to work in, as this decision often dictates what educational level and concentration to pursue. Online information can be found on the various careers to help students pin point their preferred area of interest. Greenhouse manager, plant and soil technician, ranch manager, soil composition specialist, policymaker, and educator are a couple of career options students can pursue.

Each field has students conducting different tasks and overseeing multiple aspects of their area. For example, a greenhouse manager will oversee the support structures and operation of several greenhouses. This includes being responsible for the growing of plants and where they are sold, whether it’s locally or nationally. Another possibility is becoming a soil scientist. Professionals examine the chemical, physical, biological, and mineral makeup of soil in direct relation to plant and crop growth. Students can enter these careers after first completing education.

Key Step Two: Complete Education

Once students know which area of the industry is for them, they will be able to complete the correct level of education. Online accredited schools and colleges offer students programs from the associate’s to master’s degree level. Each level presents specific career related knowledge that allows students to step into the industry with confidence. Each educational program offers students the same general coursework. Specific courses will be taken according to the specialization that students have chosen. General courses may include:

  • Soil Fertility
  • Agribusiness Management
  • Horticulture
  • Livestock Science

Students can expect to study biology, the science of soil, plant cultivation, and how to operate farming equipment. Skills are adapted through online coursework that gives lessons through video and audio demonstrations.

Completing a degree program is the best way to enter the field. Students can enter a career in approximately two years when they earn their associate’s degree. Further study at the bachelor’s level, which is often required, takes four years. Students that pursue a master’s degree can expect to earn advanced training in a two-year program.

Begin preparing for a career in agriculture by learning about the career possibilities. Online education is a great way to learn and students can begin training by enrolling in an accredited program. Full accreditation is given to agriculture schools and colleges that offer the best quality education by agencies such as the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges ( http://www.accsc.org/ ).

DISCLAIMER: Above is a GENERIC OUTLINE and may or may not depict precise methods, courses and/or focuses related to ANY ONE specific school(s) that may or may not be advertised at PETAP.org.

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