Balloon Framing Gable Walls

Prior to the 1950’s balloon framing of new homes was the standard construction method, until the advent of platform framing. Platform framing is a safer, quicker, and more cost effective method than balloon framing. With that being said, balloon framing still has many effective uses in modern house framing that can be incorporated with platform framing for a safer, sturdier, and more cost effective home.

Balloon framing originated in Chicago in the early 1830’s and replaced the prior construction method of mortise and tenon. The name originated from the old mortise and tenon carpenters when they first saw the framing method in use. With the long skinny framing members being utilized and held together with only nails, they thought it would probably be blown away with the next strong gust of wind just like a balloon. The name caught on and has endured to this day.

Disadvantages

  • Balloon framed gable walls are very tall, usually eighteen feet or more above the floor level. This added height requires the use of scaffolding for the framing carpenters, electrician, plumber, heating ventilation and air conditioning, insulator, drywall installer, painter, and trim carpenter resulting in higher labor costs.
  • Fire can travel up the stud bay just like in a chimney, to mitigate the risk of fire, blocking should be installed at each ceiling and floor level.
  • The required use of longer studs increases the cost per lineal foot resulting in still higher expenditures.
  • These walls can be very heavy and dangerous, even life threatening, to raise requiring the use of proper lifting equipment and highly trained personnel. The hazards of manually lifting balloon framed walls has been clearly defined by OSHA.

Advantages

  • The longer studs resist wind loads better and help to reduce drywall cracking and nail pops.
  • Very large windows with rounded, arched, or angled tops can be installed to enhance the aesthetic appeal of the home.
  • Ability to construct a tall chimney.
  • Two story open foyer.
  • Great room.

When considering the use of balloon framing to enhance the look and livability of your new home the advantages and disadvantages should be weighed carefully.



Source by Rickie Bell

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Horizon PST6 Treadmill Review For the Fitness Enthusiast

The Horizon pst6 treadmill is a great treadmill with lots of features. This treadmill would be an excellent choice for anyone from expert or beginner at a good price. Horizon is also a very trusted brand in the fitness equipment industry.

The pst6 goes from 0-12 miles per and can easily be adjusted. It has a zero to twelve percent incline range. The higher your range and speed the more weight you will lose and the more stamina you will build. Some of the brands in the same price range only go ten miles per hour and don’t even have an adjustable incline.

There are 8 built in workout programs that can help you meet your fitness goals. You could do a different workout each day of the week and never get bored! Other models that are the same price have workouts on cards that are sold separately. You’ll save money right from the start and not have to worry about losing separate cards.

Horizon Fitness designed their PTS6 model with a blue backlit high-definition screen that gives you super clear viewing. The one touch speed and incline keys are also backlit. For those of you that can’t read the monitors on other brand the pst6 model would give your eyes a break! The monitor shows speed, time, pulse, distance, incline, calories, program profiles, and pace. All the information you could ever want to know about your workout is right there.

The pst6 model has a two and a half horsepower MagForce motor. It holds up to a 375 pound. weight capacity and is perfect for larger people who need a wider belt. This tread belt measures 20″W x 55″L.

The warranty on the Horizon pst6 is one of the best offered! It has a lifetime frame warranty, a 20-year warranty on the motor, and one year on all parts and labor. Some of the other brands only offer 90 days!

The Horizon pst6 also has a pulse grip heart rate monitor which is very convenient ant. Just hold onto the handles and your heart rate will be displayed. This keeps you from having to stop your workout to take it manually.

The Horizon pst6 treadmill is a great treadmill with many of features not offered on other treadmills in this price range. With this treadmill you get a great brand and a fantastic warranty. This could be the only treadmill you ever have to buy.



Source by Adam Hefner

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Epic t60 treadmill

The Epic T60 Treadmill – Putting New Limits On Economy

The Epic T60 Treadmill is made exclusively for Costco, the discount retailer. It sports useful and desirable features for the home gym and for general fitness training, yet is often discounted for far less than $1000.

Icon Health and Fitness, Inc., which uses the Epic brand name on exclusive models, is the largest manufacturer of quality treadmills worldwide for training, weight loss, and personal fitness as well as other sports equipment for weight and fitness training, and it markets products like Epic t60 treadmills specifically for large retailers like Costco.

Strong Machine, Lean Price

The Epic t60 incorporates the best of Icon’s designs for treadmils. Designed for use in a home gym with the larger user in mind, the t60 features an adjustable cushioned platform with a large surface and is capable of supporting weights up to 350 pounds.

Equipped with a strong motor and power incline, the t60 is suitable for both light and intense weight loss and fitness regimens, as well as general sports training.

Additionally, feedback and readout displays keep track of time, distance, calories burned, speed, and pulse measured through the pulse sensor grips. Heart rate is measured and displayed using an optional chest pulse sensor.

The Epic t60 offers preprogrammed and customizable workout programs and iFit.com, the interactive workout technology found on most Icon exercise equipment.

With the optional chest sensor, iFit will control the speed and incline of the treadmill in response to your heart rate providing a workout under the guidance of trainers online or on CD.

Your home stereo, computer, portable device, and VCR can all be connected to the Epic t60 to keep you entertained while training.

And, like many of Icon’s treadmils, the Epic t60 folds away after use.

While the motor carries a 12-year warranty, the parts and labor on everything else carry only a 90-day warranty, a concern voiced by TreadmillDoctor which does not sell treadmills but does rate the Epic t60 a ‘winner’ for Costco.

Costco offers ‘threshold delivery’, not curbside, and its return policy applies at all 400 of its warehouses.



Source by Steve Ecclestone

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Service Industry Lean Manufacturing – Implementation Guide

Non-manufacturing industries have not embraced lean manufacturing to the same extent as those producing a product. Some service industries have found the same principles apply, although the use of lean manufacturing tools is different.

For example, a value added analysis is just as easily conducted with a worker talking on the telephone as someone using one.

The 5S tool can be used to organize the surroundings in the telemarketing office. All materials the telemarketer uses should be organized and within reach without having leave the area. This 5S organization enables the telemarketer to continuously utilize any material in front of them as well as keep an eye on a computer.

The same SMED tools can be used with a administrative assistant as a machine operator. The process map and movement will show the waste in each. The assistant’s travel shows the motion waste. The waiting waste is often huge in any white collar or service job. For example, the waste from waiting on a colleague, manager, supplier, or anyone else can be eliminated. There are ways to minimize it by removing the root cause as well as finding activities to fill the time. These activities should be of short duration, such as data entry, filing, or printing.

Line balancing is easy in a service environment. The key is flexibility. For example, two tellers at a bank may be required 6 out of 8 hours per day, but the trained lean expert or industrial engineer is required to notice it. The additional two hours of waste comes in buckets of 1-2 minutes throughout the day. Again, this time must be filled with value added activities in a standard work format. If the job isn’t standardized, the two individuals may absorb the time and appear 100% busy. There are many other instances where job combinations are obvious.

The value stream map is an excellent tool for service industries. Rather than the traditional macro level view of the system, the value stream map can be used in a department or area of the business. An example would be the service desk at a department store. Begin with the information flow and trigger for activity, which might be a customer. Break the map into various segments showing the few activities that comprise 90% of the work, such as returned goods, request for information, or complaints. Standardized Operations should be utilized for returned goods to minimize motion and waiting, such as a decision flow diagram. If the manager is called a large percentage of the time, the decision flow diagram needs improved. Obviously the 5S and SMED tools are also relevant, as well as root cause problem solving to eliminate the complaints.

Service industries often use kanbans without knowing it, such as ordering supplies. The same pull systems can be used in service industries as the manufacturing sector. The supply distribution center is one obvious example. Inventory waste can be eliminated using pull systems beginning with the end downstream customer.

When implementing lean manufacturing in a service industry, it is important to tailor the training to the business. Most SMED (single minute exchange of die) training is developed using examples of setup activities for equipment. It is easier for people to understand and see the waste in their processes when the training has obvious applicability.

One of the best long term lean manufacturing tools to apply in a service industry is the kaizen event. Kaizen means “incremental improvement” in Japanese. The kaizen team is comprised of a cross functional team developed to quickly and substantially improve a business issue. For example, a kaizen might be developed to reduce hospital check in time for testing. The team might include the individuals conducting the check-in, a nurse, manager, an IT representative, and a couple customers. If the average check in time is 35 minutes (the elapsed time from walking into the building until seated in a private room), the kaizen objective might be to reduce the check in time to 20 minutes within 5 days.

Cellular manufacturing can be used in many service businesses. Rather than placing individual pieces of equipment such as the postage meter, copier, fax, and file drawer throughout the area for everyone to use (and wait on), consider placing these items together in a U shaped cell to minimize movement.

The “One Piece Flow” concept is a great tool for processing items such as quotes, bills, or mail pieces. For example, if four people must review a quote, and the first person processes 500 prior to moving to the second individual, and so on, the cycle time is going to be very long. Also, if the fourth person notices a mistake the other three missed, all 500 are bad and much labor was spent unnecessarily. Moving the piece in a flow of “one” or in small batches minimizes the error cost and reduces cycle time.

Service industries have a terrific opportunity to reduce waste. Sometimes it is simple and obvious, while other times it takes the same creativity as in the factory.



Source by Carl Wright

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Prayer 2010 – How to Pray Your Way Into 2010

There are 3 basic fundamentals that you need to arm yourself with, as we prepare to crossover into the new year 2010.

Here’s the VERY first one. And you need to apply it diligently at the “gate” i.e. midnight December 31, 2009. If you’re ready, let’s go…

We’ll open this section with a short prayer. Please just close your eyes where you are now and take this singular prayer point with fire in your spirit:

“O LORD, open my spiritual understanding in the name of Jesus. Amen.”

We’ll take off by looking at the popular story of the ten virgins. In Matthew 25:1-10 we read:

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.

And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.

And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut.”

I believe we are all familiar with this story. Two phrases are of particular interest to us here:

(i) at midnight there was a cry made…

(ii) and the door was shut…

In summary…

Midnight is the time when “doors” are shut in the spirit. It is also a time when a “satanic cry” is made against people by the evil powers of their ancestral lineage.

Please hold these thoughts while we back up to Psalm 24:7-10:

“Lift up your head, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle. Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory.”

Again we see the word “doors” but this time…

Instead of being shut, the door (and gates) are being commanded to “open.” Putting what we’ve read so far together, we arrive at the inescapable conclusion that doors can be opened and shut in the in the spiritual realm.

In many places in the Bible, we come across doors and gates at the entrance to: houses (Acts 3), camps (Exodus. 32), prisons (Acts 12), temples (Acts 3), beaches (Nahum 2), palaces (Esther 5), cities (1 Kings 17).

At the gates of the city, the most important decisions affecting the lives of citizens were made. Courts and meetings were held there. Also, people were judged, and while some were punished, deserving citizens were honored at the gate. Even commercial transactions were conducted at the gate.

It was no coincidence therefore that in times of war, the enemy’s first point of concentration was at the gate.

What’s this got to do with the New Year 2010?

You can liken the new year to a well-fortified city with a strong gate. The gate is the entry point into the city.

For the purpose of this conversation… The door or gate of the New Year is currently shut. It is supposed to swing open IN THE SPIRIT at 12 midnight on December 31st.

Notice that I used the words, “supposed”… that is what should happen in an ideal situation… The reality, however, is that for most people, the gate of the New Year never opens to them spiritually… it remains tightly shut against them year after year, often without their knowledge!

Why is this so? The Bible reveals that there are invisible “horsemen setting themselves in array at the gate” (Isaiah 22:7). And here’s the SECRET:

The entrance or gate to the New Year is the midnight hour of December 31.

The truth remains that this gate is the point of the hottest spiritual battle you can think of. Whoever takes control of the gate in the crucial first few seconds of the New Year determines what happens throughout the entire year!

What I’m sharing with you is well-understood by the children of darkness. No wonder our Lord Jesus once said (in Luke 16:8b): …for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light.

At the critical midnight hour of December 31st, the children of this world (darkness) that Jesus is referring to here will be busy issuing evil prophetic decrees to capture the entire year (and shut the gates of the next 12 months against ignorant people).

At this exact same time, most modern day believers will be dancing and partying the night away!

Unknown to most people, at this critical hour of midnight when the new year is being “delivered” (think of a woman in labor), whatever decrees are being made (good or bad) have the capacity to alter the destiny of an individual, family or nation.

You remember how many prophecies of greatness that Christians usually receive at the beginning of every year?

How many of them ever come to pass?

You know why?

At the most critical first few seconds of the New Year, the enemy gets busy “shutting the gate” against people, using words anointed with satanic power!

No wonder:

o Doors of opportunity remained shut throughout the year.

o The heavens refuse to open and pour out the expected blessings.

o Divine benefits refused to manifest…

o Prayers went unanswered… leaving many believers scratching their heads.

If you keep records of these prophecies every year (like I do) you’ll realize that most of them never come to pass. It doesn’t matter how many great men or women of God prophesied.

Why?

Because most Christians allow the enemy to take control of the GATES when it mattered most…

… at the critical moment of transition… when most people are in slumber.

You see, in the spiritual realm, just one second’s delay can cost a person an entire year. Like the prayer points you will see shortly, if you were to pray them at any other time of the year, you won’t achieve the same results.

Thankfully, the Lord has not left us ignorant. He has given us a battle plan. If we execute on this plan diligently…

These 90 minutes AT THE GATE can save us 9 months of frustration, disappointment and sorrow.

Prayers To Storm The Gate of 2010

Now… let’s go to the prayers.

Here’s our prayer plan.

The Prayers Will Be Prayed In 3 Hot, Aggressive Sessions:

o Session 1: Prayers to close out 2009

o Session 2: Prayers to open the womb of 2010

o Session 3: Prayers of re-dedication

*** Session 1:

Close out 2009 (from 11:33 – 11:55 pm Thursday night, December 31, 2009)

Consists of 14 prayer points to deal with any unfinished business of 2009… and to ensure that there are no evil carryovers. Timing is CRUCIALLY important.

*** Session 2:

Transition (11:56 – 12:30 am Friday morning, January 1, 2010)

You stand on the powerful platform of Scripture to forcefully command the doors and gates of 2010 to open… followed by 42 special prayer points to deliver to you your divine benefits for the entire year… in a moment of time.

*** Session 3:

Prophetic action to re-dedicate your life to Christ for 2010.

As you’ll see, without this re-dedication, the enemy will try to ensnare you one way or the other.

How Do We Prepare?

Midnight Wednesday – Dec 30th

1. Start of 24 hour fast (from midnight Wednesday to midnight Thursday).

2. Please repent of every known sin and ask the LORD to wash you clean with the blood of Jesus (the Bible points out that if we say we have no sin, we make God a liar).

3. Prepare yourself by praying these 21 prayers all through the day, if possible.

1 Holy Spirit, I open the door of my heart to you; come in and dwell in your fullness in my life in Jesus’ name.

2 Anything in my life that will grieve the Holy Spirit, depart now in the name ofJesus.

3 Any besetting sin hindering the move of the Holy Spirit in my life, be washed away by the blood of Jesus.

4 O Lord, forgive me where I have rebelled against your Spirit this year in Jesus’ name.

5 O Lord, restore me to fellowship with you in Jesus’ name.

6 Holy Ghost, fill me with your fresh fire in Jesus’ name.

7 I challenge every throne of iniquity in my life with the fire of the Holy Ghost in Jesus’ name.

8 Fire of God, burn to ashes every altar of sin and idolatry in my life in the name of Jesus.

9 Let the voice of God thunder against all the enemies of my salvation in Jesus’ name.

10 Let the voice of the Holy Spirit speak destruction unto every darkness in my life in Jesus’ name.

11 Holy Ghost, breathe life into my spirit, soul and body in Jesus’ name.

12 Let the light of God dispel every darkness in my life in Jesus’ name.

13 I arise out of darkness into light by the power of the Holy Ghost in Jesus’ name.

14 I arise out of weakness into strength by the anointing of the Holy Ghost in Jesus’ name.

15 Let every situation in my life receive the touch of fire in Jesus’ name.

16 Holy Spirit, incubate my life in Jesus’ name.

17 I speak destruction unto every evil growth in my body in the name of Jesus.

18 I release my spirit from every satanic chain and padlock by the power of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name.

19 Holy Ghost, illuminate my life with the light of heaven in Jesus’ name.

20 Let the fire of the Holy Ghost expose and burn to ashes every stranger hiding in any area of my life in Jesus’ name.

21 LORD I thank you for the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon my life.

*** Crossover Prayers Begin Here…

Thursday night (11:33 – 11:55pm)

Pray session 1 prayers.

Thursday night (11:55 – 12:30 am Friday morning)

Pray session 2 prayers.

Friday morning (12:30 am – whenever the Holy Spirit releases you)

Re-dedicate yourself to God for 2010.

CLOSE THE PROGRAM

Note:

All prayer eagles are to continue with their ESTHER FAST… till January 2, 2010.

Even when you break your fast or fall asleep, please remain alert in the spirit… for a divine visitation.

Now to the prayer points (please note that we are not referring to human beings here… where applicable our prayers are targeted at wicked spiritual beings as listed in Ephesians 6:12)

——————————————————

*** SESSION 1: CLOSE OUT 2009

Thursday (11:33 – 11:55pm)

NOTE: You will pray these once at exactly 27 minutes to midnight on Thursday, December 31, 2009.

Here are the 14 prayer bullets.

1. Every evil cry of family idols against my destiny, be silenced by the blood of Jesus.

2. Satanic accusation against me at the gate of my father’s house, be cancelled by the power in the blood of Jesus.

3. Any contrary power demanding worship or sacrifice from me, I present to you the cross of Christ and the blood of Jesus.

4. Every problem with long tail afflicting my life, be consumed by the fire of God in the mighty name of Jesus.

5. Satanic evidence tendered by wicked spirits against my life, be rendered null and void by the blood of Jesus.

6. All my blessings that have been captured and transferred by witchcraft spirits in 2009, be released now by fire in the name of Jesus Christ.

7. All my blessings that have been captured and transferred by ancestral strongmen and women in 2009, be released now by fire in the name of Jesus.

8. All my blessings that have been captured and transferred by satanic horsemen at the gate, be released now by fire in the name of Jesus.

9. All my blessings that have been captured and diverted by familiar spirits, be released now by fire in the name of Jesus.

10. All my blessings that have been captured and buried by “frenemies”, be released now by fire in the name of Jesus. (NOTE: frenemies are enemies masquerading as friends).

11. All my blessings that have been captured by spiritual wickedness in the heavenly places, be released now by fire in the name of Jesus.

12. All my blessings that have been captured by evil, marine powers, be released now by fire in the name of Jesus.

13. All my divine benefits that have been arrested by principalities in 2009, be released immediately in the mighty name of Jesus.

14. All my divine benefits confiscated by rulers of darkness in 2009 be released now, now, now in the mighty name of Jesus.

*** SESSION 2: THE TRANSITION

Thursday night (11:55 – 12:30 am Friday morning)

Confession: Psalm 24:7-10

“Lift up your head, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

Who is this King of glory? The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

Who is this King of glory? The LORD of hosts, he is the King of glory.”

1. Let the doors and gates of 2010 open unto me now in the mighty name of Jesus

(at least 5 minutes please).

2. You my heavens in 2010, be open by fire in the name of Jesus

3. Let the womb of 2010 open and release my divine benefits now in the name of Jesus

4. Let my divine helpers for 2010 be released to locate me now in the name of Jesus

5. All my assigned helpers for 2010, hear the word of the Lord, arise and locate me in the name of Jesus

6. This year I appoint all my spiritual enemies to the sword, to captivity, to famine, and death in the name of Jesus

7. In this year 2010, the heavens shall declare the glory of God over my life in the name of Jesus

8. In this year 2010, the sun, moon and stars shall cooperate with my divine destiny in the name of Jesus

9. O God of signs and wonders, overshadow my life with signs and wonders this new year in the name of Jesus

10. Any satanic agent that accepts evil assignment against me this year, receive the slap of the angels in the name of Jesus (note: demonstrate this, as if you are slapping someone).

11. My destiny, receive divine momentum this year in the name of Jesus

12. O Lord, perfect all good things concerning me this year

13. Let God be God in my life throughout this year in the name of Jesus

14. Let God arise and disgrace any power challenging my God in the name of Jesus

15. Let all my disappointments become divine appointments in the name of Jesus

16. Let all satanic winds and storms be silenced in the name of Jesus

17. You God of new beginnings, begin a new dimension of signs and wonders in my life this year in the name of Jesus

18. Let that which hinders me from greatness be smashed to pieces in the name of Jesus

19. Let every anti-breakthrough altar fashioned against me be destroyed in the name of Jesus

20. O God of new beginnings, open fresh doors of prosperity to me in the name of Jesus

21. O Lord, give me anointed ideas and lead me to new paths of blessings in the name of Jesus

22. Let all my wasted years and efforts be converted to multiple blessings this year in the name of Jesus

23. My finances will not enter into the clutches of financial hunger in the name of Jesus

24. O Lord, bring honey out of the rock for me and let me find the way where men say there is no way in the name of Jesus

25. This year I will not turn back at the edge of my miracles in the name of Jesus

26. Let every architect of hatred, hostility and conflict in my home be paralyzed in the name of Jesus

27. I command every satanic limitation to my home and finances to be removed in the name of Jesus

28. I refuse to eat the bread of sorrow this year in the name of Jesus

29. I cast all pursuing serpents and scorpions into the fire of God’s judgment in the name of Jesus

30. Let the East wind paralyze and disgrace all my spiritual Pharaohs and Egyptians in the name of Jesus

31. O Lord, give me the divine mantle to cross every problem-Jordan in Jesus’ name.

32. I will not dance to any unprofitable tune this year in the name of Jesus

33. My God shall supply all my needs according to His riches in glory in the name of Jesus

34. I shall not die but live to declare the works of God in 2010 in the name of Jesus

35. Let my blessings for 2010 come from the four winds and glue themselves to me now

in the mighty name of Jesus.

36. I claim explosive miracles for every department of my life this year in the name of Jesus

37. Let my life experience revival fire this year in the name of Jesus

38. O Lord, let new things begin to spring forth in my life this year in the name of Jesus

39. O Lord, let me be at the right place at the right time this year in the name of Jesus

40. Let the angels conveying my blessings receive overcoming divine assistance in the name of Jesus

41. O Lord, reorganize my body system to reject satanic arrows this year in Jesus’ name

42. Begin to thank God for answering your prayers… and for moving you into 2010 with power and dominion authority.

*** SESSION 3: RE-DEDICATION

Friday Morning (12:30 am – till the Holy Spirit gives you a release to stop)

1. Re-dedicate yourself to the Lord for the New Year

2. Anoint yourself, your academic certificates, wedding certificate or gown, business documents, check books, your home, and anything you want to receive divine acceleration in 2010… using the Scripture in James 5:14-15; then forcefully and loudly speak the blessings of Deuteronomy 28: 1-14 on yourself. (Please do this passionately.)

3. Praise and thank the Lord for as long as you can.

4. Now is the time to pray for your friends, family, Church, your nation… and whoever the Holy Spirit brings to your heart.



Source by Elisha Goodman

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Ubon Ratchathani – A Retirement Haven

When planning for your retirement you should consider the possibility of retiring to Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand.

Why should Ubon Ratchathani be included on a list of places to enjoy your leisure days? It is a foreign country. The native language is Thai. It is far from your homeland.

Many people, when the are nearing the age of retirement face the realization that they must adjust their lifestyle. Retirement income is often much less than during their working life. Where do you make the cuts?

Ubon Ratchathani is the largest province in Thailand in terms of land mass. It is located in the northeastern region and is bordered by the Mekong River and Laos to the East and Cambodia to the south.

One of the main points for making a new home here is the cost of living. It is easy to maintain an excellent quality of life for a fraction of what it will cost in western countries in Europe, Scandinavia and North America. You can secure quality accommodations, including all utilities, for less than you have been paying the bank for your car payment. You can enjoy three meals a day of tasty Thai food for less than a single meal back home. Medical care is surprisingly affordable at one of the four major hospitals in Ubon.

You can easily travel to Ubon Ratchathani by plane, rail, bus or private auto. The city benefits from being serviced with multiple schedules daily with three major modes of transportation. The buses and trains originate and terminate between Bangkok and Ubon but there are ways to make connections for domestic travel. The buses can take you around Ubon as well as around Thailand.

There is a small but growing community of western expats who call Ubon home. You can meet others to socialize with. If you want to get a taste of your homeland there are stores and shops to acquire the ingredients your need.

If you enjoy traveling you will discover it is quite cheap and convenient to get around Thailand from Ubon. You can walk the beaches of Phuket or Samui Island for a fraction of what you would pay in Hawaii or Florida. Take a trip north to the Lanna culture and mountains of Chiang Mai.

From Ubon you can be in Laos enjoying a step back in time or head south to Cambodia and visit the awesome magnificence of Angkor Wat. The journey to these places is only a few short hours. If you are wanting to visit friends and family back home it is a one hour flight to Bangkok to make your connection.

Living in a foreign country has requirements that never come to mind when at home. The local immigration office is just a 45 minute drive from Ubon city. All the foreign embassies are a train, bus or plane ride to Bangkok away.

Retirement is a time to enjoy the fruits of your labor. You should seriously consider Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand as an option to maintain or even raise your quality of life.



Source by Darwin Dennis

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"Because I Could Not Stop For Death" – A Discussion of the Poem by Emily Dickinson

Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.

We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –

We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –

Or rather – He passed us –
The Dews drew quivering and chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –

We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –

Since then – ’tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity –

Emily Dickinson was an innovative and talented American poet who wrote nearly 1800 poems during her brief lifetime from 1830 to 1886. Dickinson became publicly well known as a poet only after her death because she chose to publish only a very small number of her poems, somewhere between seven and twelve, during her lifetime.

Emily Dickinson’s Life

Emily Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, to a well known family. Her grandfather helped to found Amherst College and her father, a lawyer, served for numerous years in the Massachusetts legislature and in the United States Congress. Dickinson had a one year older brother and a three years younger sister.

As a young girl and teenager Dickinson acquired many friends, some lasting a lifetime, received approval and attention from her father, and behaved fittingly for a girl during the Victorian era. She received a classical education from the Amherst Academy and was required by her father to read the Bible. Though she attended church regularly only for a few years, her Christian foundation remained strong throughout her life.

Dickinson attended nearby Mount Holyoke College for only one year, due to numerous reasons, and then was brought back home by her brother, Austin. The Dickinson family lived in a home overlooking the town’s cemetery, where she is buried, for a few years before moving into the home her grandfather had built, called “The Homestead.”

At home in Amherst, Dickinson became a capable housekeeper, cook, and gardener. She attended local events, became friends with some of her fathers’ acquaintances, and read a number of books given to her by her friends and her brother. Most books had to be smuggled into the home for fear that her father would disapprove of them.

Emily Dickinson enjoyed the writings of an impressive list of contemporaries such as Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne, Longfellow, Whittier, Lowell, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. She also read from the Victorians, Charlotte Bronte, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Thomas Carlyle, and George Eliot, and the Romantic poet Lord Byron. She also loved “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens. When she discovered Shakespeare she asked, “Why is any other book needed?” In her home she hung portraits of Eliot, Browning, and Carlyle.

Dickinson grew more reclusive into the 1850’s. She began writing poems and received favorable response from her friends. Throughout the rest of her life she adopted the friendly practice of giving poems to her friends and bouquets of flowers from her garden. Her garden was so varied and well-cared that she was better known as a gardener than a poet.

During the Civil War years of the early 1860’s, Emily Dickinson wrote more than 800 poems, the most prolific writing period of her life. During this period Dickinson saw the death of several friends, a teacher, and the declining health of her mother who she had to tend closely. These unhappy events saddened Dickinson and led her to treat the subject of death in many of her poems.

Following the Civil War and for the remaining 20 years of her life, Dickinson rarely left the property limits of The Homestead. Her father, mother, and sister Lavinia all lived with her at home, and her brother lived next door at The Evergreens with his wife, Susan, a longtime friend to Emily, and their children. She enjoyed the company of her family and wrote often to her friends, but residents of Amherst only knew her as the “woman in white” when they infrequently saw her greeting visitors.

After several friends, a nephew, and her parents died, Dickinson wrote fewer and fewer poems and stopped organizing them, as she had been doing for many years. She wrote that, “the dyings have been too deep for me.” Dickinson developed a kidney disease which she suffered from for the remaining two years of her life. The final short letter that she wrote to her cousins read, “Little Cousins, Called Back. Emily.”

Characteristics of Dickinson’s Poetry

Emily Dickinson’s sister, Lavinia, gathered Emily’s poems and published them in 1890. Editors changed some of her words, punctuations, and capitalizations to make them conform to a certain standard. Later editions restored Dickinson’s unique style and organized them in a roughly chronological order.

Emily Dickinson’s poems have many identifiable features. Her poems have been memorized, enjoyed, and discussed since their first publication. Many critics consider her to have been extraordinarily gifted in her abilities to create concise, meaningful, and memorable poems.

The major themes in her poetry include Friends, Nature, Love, and Death. Not surprisingly, she also refers to flowers often in her poems. Many of her poems’ allusions come from her education in the Bible, classical mythology, and Shakespeare.

Dickinson did not give titles to her poems, an unusual feature. Others have given titles to some of her poems, and often the first line of the poem is used as a title.

She wrote short lines, preferring to be concise in her images and references. A study of her letters to friends and mentors shows that her prose style was composed of short iambic phrases, making her prose very similar to her poetry.

Dickinson’s poems are generally short in length, rarely consisting of more than six stanzas, as in “Because I Could Not Stop for Death.” Many of her poems are only one or two stanzas in length. The stanzas are quatrains of four lines. Some poems have stanzas of three or two lines.

The rhythm in many of her poems is called common meter or ballad meter. Both types of meter consist of a quatrain with the first and third lines having four iambic feet and the second and fourth lines having three iambic feet. The iambic foot is a unit of two syllables with the first syllable unstressed and the second syllable stressed.

In her quatrains the rhyme scheme is most often abcb, where only the second and fourth lines rhyme. Such a rhyme scheme is typical of a ballad meter.

Many other poems are written in a meter that is typical of English hymns. This rhythm pattern is characterized by quatrains where lines one, two, and four are written in iambic trimeter and the third line is written in iambic tetrameter.

Often her rhymes are near rhymes or slant rhymes. A near rhyme means that the two rhyming words do not rhyme exactly. They only make a near match.

In Dickinson’s poems, capitalizations and punctuations are unorthodox. She regularly capitalized the nouns but sometimes she was inconsistent and a few nouns were not capitalized. For punctuation, she frequently used a dash instead of a comma or a period, and sometimes she used a dash to separate phrases within a line. Some editions of her poems have attempted to correct the punctuation of her poems.

A dozen or more composers have set Dickinson’s poems to music, including Aaron Copland who produced “Twelve Songs on Poems of Emily Dickinson” in 1951. 0ne of the interesting ways to treat some of Dickinson’s most famous poems, often learned in school, is to sing them to the tune of “Amazing Grace,” or “The Yellow Rose of Texas, or most humorously, the theme to “Gilligan’s Island.”

Because I Could Not Stop for Death

“Because I Could Not Stop for Death” is a brilliant poem, well constructed, easily understood, and filled with many poetic conventions. The first stanza is often quoted alone and represents one of the most inspired quatrains in American poetry.

In the first stanza Dickinson has created a wonderful metaphor that is carried throughout the poem. She has personified death, giving him a name, a conveyance, and a companion. The presence of Immortality in the carriage softens the idea of the arrival of Death. And the fact that He kindly stopped is both a reassurance that his arrival was not unpleasant and an expression of the poet’s wit. It is ironic in a humorous way to imagine Death being kind. The speaker in the poem is speaking of an event that happened in the past, another reassurance that there is survival after death. Dickinson’s Christian view of eternity and the immortality of life are evident in these stanzas.

The second stanza is about Death arriving slowly such as the result of a disease, which in fact Dickinson did succumb to at the end of her life. Again, there is an ironic reference to Death, this time to his civility, which rhymes with “immortality” from the first stanza and ties the two stanzas together. Notice that there are a couple of examples of alliteration, one in the first line with “knew no,” and another in the third line with “labor” and “leisure.”

The third stanza gives a picture of the journey. The children and the school in the first line refer to early life. The fields of ripening grain in the third line refer to life’s middle stage. Finally, the setting sun in the fourth line refers to the final stage of life. Notice the use of anaphora to effectively tie all of the stages of life together. The repetition of the phrase, “we passed,” at the beginning of the lines is known as anaphora. There is also a pleasant example of alliteration in the second line, “recess” and “ring.”

The fourth stanza contains two more examples of effective alliteration and creates the image of a person who is not dressed appropriately for a funeral. In fact, the gossamer gown is more like a wedding dress, which represents a new beginning rather than an end. Notice also the near rhyme in this stanza as well as in several other stanzas. Oddly, this stanza was not included in early editions of Dickinson’s poems; however it appears in all of the more recent editions.

The grave or tomb is described in the fifth stanza as a house. The description indicates that the poet feels at ease with the location. The last stanza indicates that centuries have passed, though ironically it seems shorter than the day. The “horses’ heads” is a comfortable alliteration and ties the vision back to the first stanza. The final word, “eternity,” which rhymes with “immortality” in the first stanza also brings all of the stanzas together and brings the poem to a calm close.



Source by Garry Gamber

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Very Early Sign And Symptom Of Pregnancy – Initial Signs Of Pregnancy

Watch out for very early sign and symptom of pregnancy. These symptoms are your body’s way of responding to the changes those occur to support growth of your fetus. Therefore, if you are planning pregnancy, it is imperative for you to know about all the pregnancy symptoms that you are likely to experience at the primitive stage of pregnancy.

Primitive Signs Of Pregnancy

If you are getting pregnant, you must be prepared to experience an array of symptoms, as follows –

1. Missed period – Often a missed period is considered a sure very early sign and symptom of pregnancy. However, your periods can be delayed under the condition excessive stress or as side effects of medication. However, if you use this missed period as an alarm of pregnancy, then you have for a long while and till then you are already pregnant by many weeks.

2. Vaginal spotting – Vaginal spotting marks slight vaginal bleeding after the few days of conceiving. You may notice little bleeding in the form of pinkish color because of the implantation of the fertilized egg at the inner lining of the uterus. This is an early sign of pregnancy.

3. Changes in breast and areola – This symptom of pregnancy is one of the surest signals sent by your body. Your breasts show significant changes during the earliest stage of pregnancy. These changes may include getting enhanced, feeling tenderness, pain and more sensitive. The areolas also show prominent changes as they become darker and show varicose veins surrounding the area.

4. Nausea and queasiness – Pregnant women tend to feel queasy and discomforts of nausea in the morning or even throughout the day. To alleviate discomforts of queasiness and nausea, stay away from some particular odors or flavors of foods that arouses this morning sickness or vomiting symptom. You are prone to avert from the foods you used to die for! Likewise, there are some foods most of the pregnant women crave for such as those greasy foods, chocolate ice creams, sardine sandwiches etc. This way you can deal with this early pregnancy symptom.

5. Increased discharge – If you experience a sizeable amount of increase in discharge, you may presume it as a very early sign and symptom of pregnancy. Such increased vaginal discharge is a result of formation of mucus plug as to keep the womb at a safe distance from bacteria infections and toxins. Such discharge marks no harm until and unless it is shown as greenish or grayish and contain foul odor. Call for your doctor, if you happen to observe such vaginal discharges.

6. Increased fatigue – an enormous degree of tiredness and fatigue may often dominate early stage of pregnancy. Low blood pressure during early trimester of pregnancy causes this tremendous degree of exhaustion and often leads women to take a nap. They must take care of themselves as they might faint due to this low blood pressure, which is an early sign of pregnancy.

7. Frequent urination – Because your uterus gets enlarged day by day to accommodate your baby, you may need to rush to the loo now and then and very frequently. In the early stages of pregnancy, frequent urination is your body’s response to hormonal changes and in later period, heavier uterus leads your bladder to release urination frequently.

Pay attention to the very early signs and symptoms of pregnancy to detect both progress and complications of pregnancy.



Source by Saurabh K Jain

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Mandatory Provident Fund

Ideally, retirement means a person retire from their regular career; enter a new life span to review what they have contributed to their profession throughout their early and middle adulthood. When a person entering retirement, they must enjoy the rest of their life, the fruitful harvest gain from their previous efforts and pursuing a new goal with their spare leisure time.

The beautiful picture of retirement can only be achieved if you are being protected with a good retirement protection, such as provident funds or personal savings. Without these schemes, I am afraid the retirement will only be a start of a nightmare. In fact, before the implementation of the Mandatory Provident Fund scheme, only about one-third of the workforce of 3.4 million people have some form of retirement protection.

Contribution from the advancement of education level, numerous breakthrough in the medical treatment, modern technology to combat the natural disasters and so on, Hong Kong ‘s population are living much larger than before, but also getting older in a fast tempo. Nowadays, already ten percent of our population is aged 65 and above. By 2016 the proportion will be 13 percent and one senior citizen in every 5 people by 2035.

Unless some way is found of funding the welfare and health needs of the growing population of elderly, a massive burden will fall on the shoulders of the taxable working population. Their wages will be heavily taxed to meet the demands. Without sufficient financial resources, the scarce resources will jeopardize the well medical services and welfare we are enjoying now, something must be done to cope with the predicted situation.

The Pathway to Retirement Protection—Mandatory Provident Fund

The World Bank have outlined a framework of the protection for the elderly, so called ‘three pillars of old age protection’. This recommended that old-age programs should protect the old and also promote economic growth. The three pillars recommended by the World Bank are

Mandatory, privately managed, fully funded contribution scheme.

Publicly managed, tax-financed social safety net for the old.

Voluntary personal savings and insurance.

The SAR government is operating a Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme, which provides basic social security to the needy, and after much debate it was decided in 1995 that the Mandatory Provident Fund (MPF) Scheme should be introduced, there was considerable argument as to the best system for Hong Kong. With the introduction of MPF, complemented by personal savings, Hong Kong will have in place all the three pillars for old age protection.

Mandatory Provident Fund Scheme Ordinance requires all employees (irrespective of their status as a temporary staff or part time worker) and self-employed persons to join a MPF scheme under which contributions will be saved for retirement. The ideology is to ensure people are adequately provided for upon reaching retirement age.

Employer and employee each pay 5 percent of an employee’s monthly salary into a privately run pension plan. The MPF law gives an employee a range of investment choices under an employer’s MPF scheme. Generally speaking, without other circumstances, the member can only collect the lump sum of the MPF benefits when they attain the retirement age of 65.

Problematic MPF?

Mandatory Provident Fund scheme which starts in December 2000, this scheme represents a starting point for forcing individuals to plan for their retirement. Besides helping to provide for the retirement needs of millions of people, the MPF is likely to radically reshape savings habits and investment attitudes and it will extend the pension umbrella to the remaining two million employed by about 250,000 small and medium sized companies.

Different retirement protection systems have their advantages and disadvantages. After careful consideration, it is generally accepted that MPF best suits Hong Kong’ needs, but as we know, no system is prefect, MPF is no exception, this controversial policy have drawn many criticisms.

Libertarians claim the system run contrary to the Hong Kong spirit, as individuals and firms are coerced into savings decisions they are better placed to make alone.

Other claim many workers with high mobility are able to avoid taxation by frequently changing employment and a lack of information about them would make it difficult to capture them in the MPF network.

Many more criticisms and oppositions have also targeted the MPF, in the following paragraphs; I will divide it into different aspects and analyze these criticisms and oppositions, so that we can get more detailed picture about this far-reaching policy.

Protection for all?

MPF is adding a pillar for our retirement protection; if it is true, it will consolidate the foundation of an enjoyable retiring life and the retired people are no longer worrying live under poverty. In fact, will it really protect all future retired people in Hong Kong? It seems to be the most challenging questions and controversial part of the MPF policy. Will the scheme really protect the elderly, unemployed, housewives and so on? I will divide the question into four parts—high income group, low income group, no income group and young, middle and old aged worker to look for the answer for the above questions.

High income people

Before we consider who will benefit the most from the scheme, we should know what you get out of the scheme depends on what you put in. As a result, low-income workers will enjoy less protection than the higher paid worker.

Many high-income people are working large companies and occupying the middle, high or senior position. Since they are specialized in their relevant profession and they possesses some kind of expertise knowledge in their working field, their bargaining power in the labor market are relatively higher, so their companies and organization will provide them many welfare and special allowances in order to lure them staying in the company. Nearly all of them will enjoy a pleasant retirement even without the implementation of the MPF, since many of them have significant amounts of personal saving, high value property or investment and existing pension fund.

Now the MPF has been implemented, both employers and employees will have to pay a minimum contribution of 5% of relevant income, this group of people seems to be much protected and secured from the policy.

Low-income people

As the points illustrated above, low income workers will enjoy less protection than the higher paid because what you get out of the MPF scheme depends on what you put in.

The greatest untruth of the MPF is that a gross 10 percent deduction from salaries, capped at a maximum income of $20,000 a month can make a meaningful dent in funding old age. This mandatory contribution level of the scheme is a good basis to start with, but it is not enough. People will need to pay more to get a better life in retirement. A simple example will illustrate more about the concept, for example, a young man who starts to pay into an MPF plan at 20 years old with an average income of HK$15000 per month. Assuming the investment grows with 5 percent inflation, after 45 years of contributions, he would receive just HK$771429, that would leave him just HK$4300 per month for the 15 years after retirement, if we assuming he die at age 80 (the average life expectancy in Hong Kong).

We should remember most low-income workers are earning only around $10000 or below per month. After many years of contributions, they would receive just around $2000-3000 a month. Also due to their income would merely cover their monthly expenses, they are without personal savings, their retirement may not be funded in a pleasant way, the effectiveness of the MPF scheme may not create a beautiful picture for this group of people.

The MPF scheme not only can’t provide an effective retirement protection for them, but also create some difficulties and hardships for them. Some unscrupulous employers are avoiding pay extra for the Mandatory Provident Fund scheme by slashing wages and making their staff become self-employed. Many of these problems came from the catering and construction industries.

Since Hong Kong are still recovering from the 1997 Asia financial turmoil, the most hard hit industries (transports, catering, restaurants, construction, manufacturing) are still struggling, most low income workers are working in these sectors (an estimated 500,000 people are working in the construction and catering industries, which account for about 17 percent of the total workforce in the SAR). Some employers were ‘playing tricks’ to avoid their financial responsibility because the MPF is an additional cost for these employers. They only cut staff salaries to save costs rather than taking risks to breach the law.

Some restaurant owners treated part of their staff wages as special allowances instead of basic salaries in an attempt to lower the employers’ contribution. Others effectively cut salaries by imposing an unpaid holiday arrangement on staff. Some construction firms had changed staff into self-employed contractors to avoid responsibility. The affected construction workers would no longer enjoy the benefits of MPF or other staff welfare scheme.

Transport employees are also affected by the scheme. A survey conducted by the Container Transportation Employees General Union members found 86 percent had experienced some reduction in pay and benefits by employers using the MPF as the reason. The cutbacks include reducing pay and benefits such as bonuses, travel allowances and telephone payments, signing new contracts that waive past years of services without compensations. They were forced to register as a business so they have self employed status. Since it is very difficult to find a job in the current climate, so they have to accept the new arrangement reluctantly in order to survive.

All those unscrupulous employers are not only exploiting these low-income workers they are also undermining the effects of the SAR government to build a provident fund system for Hong Kong.

We can see clearly the long-term benefits are far from the low-income workers, but the immediate negative consequences they should face now, so there is no doubt why the most opposite voice are coming from this sector.

Protection for Young, Middle and Old aged People

The benefits from MPF not only depend on the salary input, but also depend on the choice of funds. The choice of fund may be greatly influenced by the age of employee and what you can collect after retirement. For example, a young worker can afford to invest more in high risk, higher reward funds because if markets tank, they have a long time to recover. By contrast, an employee close to retirement cannot afford to risk short-term volatility taking a chunk out of his capital. Young workers seem to be the most benefit from the MPF scheme, compare with the middle or near retiring aged people. The majority of low income earners in their 40s and 50s have no chance of achieving what pension planners call a minimum replacement rate sufficient to fund a pleasant retirement, for example, a man who works for the next 25 years on the median wage of $10000 a month might get only $1700 a month upon retirement, based on commonly quoted return rate of two percent, less than social security assistance for a single person.

Finally, as workers cannot take any money back before reaching 65, and there are investment risks involved. The private sector rather than the government will manage the funds. The MPF in no way safeguards every citizen’s right to the security of basic provisions in life.

No income group

Many people have criticized the MPF scheme which starts in December 2000, neglects the elderly, unemployed and women particularly housewives, since the MPF requires ’employer’ and ’employee’ contribute to the scheme, so the well being of the no income people will not be guaranteed.

MPF scheme as a compromise package that does not serve the well-being of the most vulnerable. There are now 600,000 people over 65 and in 1996, one quarter of people over 60 were living below the poverty line, with a monthly income of under $2500.

Women will also remain stuck in a dependent role under the MPF scheme, less than half of the labor forces coerced by the scheme are women because many are either causal workers or housewives. When they get old, they can only expect to rely on their husband, if they have one or obtain comprehensive social security assistance.

At present, Hong Kong is operating a Comprehensive Social Security Assistance Scheme, which offers basic social security to the needy. With the introduction of MPF, complemented by personal savings and CSSA, Hong Kong will indeed have in place all the three pillars for old age protection. In fact, it is far from saying that the scheme provides an effective retirement protection for all and easily believes the problem of elderly poverty will be eradicated.

Burden for investors in Hong Kong?

Hong Kong acts as a financial center in the world and playing a significant role in the Asia. The implementation of MPF will definitely affect the investors, no matter the multi-national investors, big business entrepreneur, small and medium sized enterprises.

Investors of big business

Big companies in order to recruit the talents from the labor markets, many of them have been offering various welfares for their employees, these including a well-sound pension system. Before the implementation of the MPF systems, many big companies have start selecting their company’s MPF provider. For example, Swire Pacific said the process of selecting the company’s provider began two years old. As one of the Hong Kong’s biggest companies, Swire are operating companies, such as Cathay Pacific Airways, hotel, trading, marine and properly-development and employing 25000 employees, for this kind of big companies, it is important to have a provider with a sound administration system to deliver pension services to all their employees, since employees are the biggest assets for these big business operators.

Large companies appeared to be concerned about their employees’ opinions when choosing a provider, it can reflect large companies seem to support MPF scheme and it come along with their existing pension policy, it seems not to create financial burdens for this kind of companies compare with small and medium sized companies.

Investors of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs)

Coming at a time when small and medium firms are struggling back into the black after the financial crisis, it is not surprising that the MPF is off to a shaky start. There is no doubt that the MPF presents an extra financial burden for companies that work on narrow profit margins when these kinds of companies were badly hit by the Asia financial turmoil. Small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) have protested vociferously over the MPF’s introduction, insisting they cannot afford it with the economy still recovering from recession.

Although MPF will extend the pension umbrella to the two million, employed by about 250,000 small and medium sized companies, the financial burden seems to be unbearable for the investors.

For small business investors, they are reluctance to join the scheme is not just about the financial burden. They also resent the time consumed by MPF decision-making and paper work because many of them were far too busy with the day-to-day business of running the firm to take on extra paper work.

How MPF scheme affects the Hong Kong’ economy?

MPF not only will have far reaching effects on the fund-management industry, service providers, but also the general economy. Since MPF is an investment programs, it will increase the pool of institutional funds invested in the SAR, broadening and deepening the financial markets, promoting their efficiency and thereby economic growth, it will bring positive charges for financial market.

On the other hand, some people criticize the MPF scheme will eventually upset the flexibility of Hong Kong because workers cannot take any money back before reaching 65 and there are investment risks involved. This compulsory saving scheme, unable an employee who leaves a company can get cash in a lump sum or use it to buy property or whatever and invest in other areas.

Conclusion

Although it is far from saying that MPF provides an effective retirement protection for all and elderly poverty will be eradicated, it really encourages people to save for their old age. No schemes are perfect, the MPF is no exception, but it is the scheme most suitable for Hong Kong’ needs. Since Hong Kong has a well-established and sound financial services sector. A privately managed retirement system under prudential regulation and supervision is the most effective and secure way offer retirement protection to the workforce. Also under a free competition environment, it tends to increase efficiency and reduce costs of operating the MPF scheme, which will benefit scheme members ultimately.

Nowadays, a large part of the social welfare expenses are spending on the Comprehensive Social Security Assistance (CSSA), in the long run, MPF scheme may reduce the financial burden of CSSA, spare welfare expenses can be spent on other social welfare areas, every citizens will benefit at large.

The scheme may be viewed with some skepticism at the moment, but after people have a chance to see the plan in action, attitudes towards long term saving and retirement should change. Then retirement could be something to look forward to with pleasure, rather than worry. But one things should be bear in mind, our government should also take care of the most vulnerable people in our society as the paragraphs mentioned above, provide them with appropriate assistance, especially the low income people. Only with that, Hong Kong will be a better, fairer society for everyone to live in.



Source by Chin Pang Wong

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Finding Life’s Purpose Through Mahabharata

Finding one’s life purpose and deepest life intentions can help one to move with greater focus and clarity every day of one’s life. There are many ways to find and develop life purpose and intentions. The meaning of life constitutes a philosophical question concerning the purpose and significance of human existence. The concept can be expressed through a variety of related questions, such as Why are we here?, What’s life all about? and What is the meaning of it all?. It has been the subject of much philosophical, scientific, and theological speculation throughout history and there have been a large number of answers from many different cultural and ideological backgrounds. This suggests the meaning of life is different for each person. Albert Camus observed, we humans are creatures who spend our lives trying to convince ourselves that our existence is not absurd.

The meaning of life is deeply mixed with the philosophical and religious conceptions of existence, consciousness, and happiness, and touches on many other issues, such as symbolic meaning, ontology, value, purpose, ethics, good and evil, free will, conceptions of God, the existence of God, the soul and the afterlife. Scientific contributions are more indirect; by describing the empirical facts about the universe, science provides some context and sets parameters for conversations on related topics. An alternative, human-centric, and not a cosmic/religious approach is the question “What is the meaning of my life?” The value of the question pertaining to the purpose of life may be considered to be coincidental with the achievement of ultimate reality, if that is believed by one to exist.

If we look around to seek the life’s purpose or goals in the indian contexts, it would be better, we consider Mahabharata, the great epic, as an authentic source to know one’s life purpose, considering its immense importance to culture in the Indian subcontinent. Its discussion of human goals or human’s life purposes (ARTHA or PURPOSE, KAMA or PLEASURE, DHARMA or DUTY, and MOKSHA or LIBERATION) takes place in a long-standing tradition, attempting to explain the relationship of the individual to society and the world (the nature of the ‘Self’) and the workings of karma. Before we know the life’s purpose we should know what are the goals the human shall have to achieve the ultimate goal or the life’s purpose.

Since the dawn of human existence, four aims have brought purpose and meaning to our lives. These are the same aims that the poet Tulsidas wrote about in the Hanuman Chalisa centuries ago when he called them “The four-fold fruits of life.” These are the four “Great Goals” or “Purusharthas” recognised by the ancient rishis and documented in the Mahabharata and the Bhagavad-Gita. These aims are:

Artha, Kama, Dharma & Moksha

The Hindu Sanathana dharma’ outlines the four “Purushartha” as, Artha, Kama, Dharma and Moksha, which stand as four major quests in everyone’s life. There are many explanations for the word ‘Artha’. Artha means ‘The Meaning’ or ‘Wealth’. Artha also means as ‘The Objectives’. Life’s Artha lies in “Artha”, so says a commentator. Dharma precedes Artha, in other words, the generation of wealth must abide by the “Dharma-Way”. The wealth yearned in this manner will be the means for leading a healthy life in all sense. The word ‘Abyudhaya’ connotes dharma. Artha and Kama in one. The Artha earned circumventing the ‘Dharmic Way’ will create anarchy only.

The war on Iraq can be cited as an example. More the wealth gathered in the wrong manner, more will be the dominating spirit over the downtrodden. There is a story about a king, Venon, who demanded from his citizeneries riches for his own selfishness and the people were put onto untold miseries. God incarnated, to end Venon’s regime, this time as his son in the name ‘Prethu’. The new King Prethu brought about the much wanted Renaissance and today the good Earth or Prithivi has been named after the King Prethu. The Sanathana Dharma quotes that the Almighty can become the wealth of living beings when they lead a spiritual life.

Artha (Purpose)

Artha is a Sanskrit term meaning “purpose, cause, motive, meaning, notion”. It refers to the idea of material prosperity. In Hinduism, artha is one of the four goals of life, known as purusharthas. It is considered to be a noble goal as long as it follows the dictates of Vedic morality. The concept includes achieving widespread fame, garnering wealth and having an elevated social standing. It is the second lowest rung on the ladder of purusharthas, above kama (physical or emotional pleasure) but below dharma (righteousness) and moksha (liberation). Artha is one of the dharmas (duties) of a person in the third stage of life, the householder (Grihastha – The ideal householder life is spent in selflessly carrying out one’s duties to family and society, serving the saints, and gainful labor.) stage, and during this period a person must accumulate as much wealth as possible, without being greedy, to help and support his family.

Conversely, Artha (wealth) stands for the means by which one’s life may be maintained, in the lower sense, food, drink, money, house, land, and other property; and in the higher sense the means by which effect may be given to the higher desires, such as that of worship, for which artha may be necessary, aid given to others, and so forth. In short, it is all the necessary means by which all right desire, whether of the lower or higher kinds, may be fulfilled. As the desire must be a right desire, for man is subject to dharma, which regulates them, so also must be the means sought, which are equally so governed.

Kama (Pleasure)

Kama is pleasure, pleasure of the senses, desire, eros, the aesthetic enjoyment of life in Sanskrit. In Hinduism, kama is regarded as one of the four goals of life (purusharthas): the others are worldly status (artha), duty (dharma) and inner freedom (moksha), Kama-deva is the personification of this, a god equivalent to the Greek Eros and the Roman Cupid Kamadeva is the Hindu deity of love. His other names include Ragavrinta (stalk of sassion), Ananga (incorporeal), Kandarpa (“inflamer even of a god”), Manmatha (churner of hearts), Manasija (he who is born of mind, a contraction of the Sanskrit phrase Sah Manasah jata), Madana (intoxicating), Ratikanta (lord of Rati), Pushpavan, Pushpadhanva (one with bow of flowers) or just Kama (“longing”). Kamadeva, is son of Hindu goddess Sri and, additionally, is the incarnation of Pradyumna, Krishna’s son. In his spiritual form he is believed to be Krishna, by Vaishnava followers in Hinduism. Kama-rupa is a subtle body or aura composed of desire, while Kama-loka is the realm this inhabits, particularly in the afterlife.

Dharma (Duty)

The term dharma is an Indian spiritual and religious term, that means one’s righteous duty or any virtuous path in the common sense of the term. In Indian languages it contextually implies one’s religion. Throughout Indian philosophy, Dharma is presented as a central concept that is used in order to explain the “higher truth” or ultimate reality of the universe.

The word dharma literally translates as that which upholds or supports, and is generally translated into English as law. The word “dharma” can also be translated as “the teachings of the Buddha”. The various Indian religions and philosophy (Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, and Sikhism, among others) have all accorded a central focus to Dharma and advocate its practice. Each of these religions emphasizes Dharma as the correct understanding of reality in its teachings. In these traditions, beings that live in accordance with Dharma proceed more quickly toward Dharma Yukam, Moksha or Nirvana (personal liberation). Dharma also refers to the teachings and doctrines of the founders of these traditions, such as those of Gautama Buddha and Mahavira. In traditional Hindu society with its caste structure, Dharma constituted the religious and moral doctrine of the rights and duties of each individual.. Dharma in its universal meaning shares much in common with the way of Tao or Taoism. The antonym of dharma is adharma meaning unnatural or immoral.

The purpose of dharma is not only to attain a union of the soul with the supreme reality, it also suggests a code of conduct that is intended to secure both worldly joys and supreme happiness. Rishi Kanda has defined dharma in Vaisesika as “that confers worldly joys and leads to supreme happiness”. Hinduism is the religion that suggests methods for the attainment of the highest ideal and eternal bliss here and now on earth and not somewhere in heaven.

Moksha (Liberation)

In Indian religions, Moksha or Mukti, literally “release” (both from a root muc “to let loose, let go”), is the liberation from samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth or reincarnation and all of the suffering and limitation of worldly existence. In Hindu philosophy, it is seen as a transcendence of phenomenal being, a state of higher consciousness, in which matter, energy, time, space, causation (karma) and the other features of empirical reality are understood as maya.

Liberation is experienced in this very life as a dissolution of the sense of self as an egoistic personality by which the underlying, eternal, pure spirit is uncovered. This desireless state concludes the yogic path through which conditioned mentality-materiality or nama-roopa (lit. name-form) has been dissolved uncovering one’s eternal identity prior to the mind/spirit’s identification with material form. Liberation is achieved by (and accompanied with) the complete stilling of all passions – a state of being known as Nirvana. Advaita Vedantist thought differs slightly from the Buddhist reading of liberation.

Anything that helps human being to reach god is dharma and anything that hinders human being from reaching god is adharma. For instance, in the epic Mahabharata, the Pandavas represent dharma in life and the Kauravas represent adharma or we can say, the winning of good over evil. It is believed that Yudhistira, the elder pandava was the personification of Dharma (he often referred as Dharmaraja), who is not able to divert from the dharma or truth.

While these truths are identified directly in Hindu texts, they are quite universal. A Hindu becomes a better Hindu by learning about these truths, but a Christian becomes a better Christian by living life in awareness of the right of each one of us to enjoy pleasure and earn success within the framework of virtue and duty. A Buddhist will recognise many of the facets of the Eight-Fold interweave with the study of the purusharthas. A Moslem might be liberated in communion and submission to Allah, knowing that pleasure, success and even everyday duty pale in comparison to a living relationship with the supreme divinity.

One can start to find and develop his own purpose and intentions by stopping for a moment and asking to self two questions: “What is most important to me in my life? What are my deepest values and beliefs?” Consider inviting divine guidance and one’s own inner wisdom to help him with this. Give time to explore these questions and notice what comes up that touches and inspires one most deeply. Once one has some answers to these questions, use the answers to develop your life purpose and intentions.

Once he find and develop his life purpose and intentions, he should consider finding a good place to keep them and review them frequently upon rising in the morning to help one to move more effectively and powerfully through the days. In difficult situations, it can also be checked to see the life purpose or one of his intentions, or we can say goals, so that it can give him direction to navigate through the stormy waters and difficult situations. By frequently reminding self about one’s purpose and intentions, one becomes more focused and effective in building a brighter future for himself and those near and around him.



Source by Satish Nair

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