Best Investment Ideas and Best Safe Investments for 2012

Here we list some of the best investment ideas and tackle the challenge of finding the best safe investments for 2012. What might appear to be one of the best investment ideas to the uninformed could turn out to be one of the worst.

Looking at the big picture for investment ideas in 2012, moderation in asset allocation and a balanced investment portfolio will be the most basic key to success. There are 4 asset classes, and average investors need to spread their money across at least the first three to keep their overall portfolio risk moderate. The 4 categories in asset allocation are: safe investments, bonds, stocks and alternative investments like gold and real estate (optional). Asset allocation can be simplified, because there are mutual funds available to average investors that represent each of the 4 asset classes. Now let’s get more specific about the best investment ideas for 2012 starting with safe investments.

Safe investments earn interest and do not fluctuate in price. You will need to look outside of mutual funds in 2012 to find the best safe investments because record low interest rates have taken yields on money market securities (and hence money market funds) down to just about zero. One of the best investment ideas if you have an account with a discount broker or major mutual fund company is to shop for one-year CDs paying higher rates if you can’t get competitive rates from your local bank. Do not tie your money up for longer periods just to earn a little more interest. One of these days interest rates will go back up and you will be locked in at a lower rate and face penalty charges if you cash in early.

Finding the best safe investments will be truly challenging in 2012, but here are some more investment ideas. If you are in a retirement plan like a 401k that has a fixed or stable account option do not overlook it. You can often get a much higher interest rate there (maybe 4% to 5%) than anywhere else outside of your retirement plan. If you own an older retirement annuity or universal life insurance policy, it might have a fixed account you can add money to that is guaranteed to never pay less than 3% or 4%. Remember, truly safe investments like U.S. Treasury bills and bank money market and savings accounts are paying WAY LESS than 1%!

Over the past 30 years bonds and bond funds have become a favorite with investors because they have been consistent performers and returned on average about 10% per year… basically about equal to what stocks have returned, but with considerably less risk. Many investors have fallen in love with their bonds funds and consider them to be among the world’s best safe investments. Bond funds are NOT safe investments. They have performed well since 1981 (when interest rates and inflation were at record highs) for one primary reason. Both inflation and interest rates have been falling for 30 years, which has sent bond prices higher. Loading up on bond funds now is NOT one of the best investment ideas for 2012. In fact, it is one of the worst investment ideas.

When interest rates and/or inflation turn around and head upward bond funds, especially those that hold long-term bond issues, will be losers. That’s how bonds work. One of the very best investment ideas for 2012 is to sell your long-term bond funds if you own any, and switch to funds holding bonds with average maturities of about five years. These are called intermediate-term bond funds; and average investors should have some money invested here as part of their asset allocation strategy to add balance to their investment portfolio. These are not truly safe investments, but they are much safer than long-term funds.

My best investment ideas in the stock department focus on stock funds. Do not go heavily into the more aggressive funds that invest primarily in growth and/or small company stocks. These pay little if anything in dividend income and tend to be more risky and volatile than the average stock fund. Go with funds that invest in high quality large-company stocks with excellent dividend paying histories. Look for funds that are paying 2% or more in dividends. One of the best investment ideas for 2012 and beyond: invest in no-load funds with low yearly expenses. No-load means no sales charges, and low expenses mean higher net returns to the investor.

Alternative investments include the likes of real estate, gold and other precious metals, natural resources, commodities, foreign investments and so on. One of the best investment ideas for managing a truly balanced investment portfolio is to include this fourth asset class as well. The simplest way for the average investor to add these alternatives to their portfolio is with mutual funds that specialize in these areas or sectors. My best investment ideas here: don’t go heavily into any one area, and don’t chase after a sector (like gold) just because it’s hot. Real estate and natural resources funds would be my picks as two of the best investment ideas in the alternative investments asset class.

Moderation and diversification across the asset classes will be the key to asset allocation in 2012. I have also listed some specific best investment ideas for keeping the average investor in the game and out of serious trouble should the investment scene turn ugly. Above all else memorize this: long-term bond funds are not among the best safe investments for 2012. They are not safe investments, period.

The Opposition of Emotionally Colored and Emotionally Neutral Vocabulary

A tendency to judge that speech is only an instrument for making statements is rather primitive. Some people forget that there are a lot of different possibilities. The way we speak also expresses our emotions, attitude to people interrelations between the audience and the speaker.

Sometimes it is necessary to guide people, to warn them or to show somebody’s disapproval or approval or to make your speech sound more enthusiastic or encouraging. We should take all these into consideration while investigating the lexical meaning of words. Using such terms as “emotive” or “expressive”; “affective” or “evaluative”, some people think they are synonyms, for example, that an emotive word is of necessity also a stylistically colored word, or considering all stylistically colored words as emotional. But that is not the case.

So, let us agree that so-called emotive speech is any utterance expressing different human emotions. It is easy to find in speech a great number of syntactical, lexical and intonational peculiarities. Thus, by lexical peculiarities I mean special, emotionally colored words. The emotional coloring of the word may be occasional or permanent. Let us focus on the second. Lexical units acquire their emotional coloring, in other words, their affective connotation, in emotional contexts of particular situations.

The most common type of emotional words, as it seems to me, are interjections. The fact is that they express a lot of emotions without naming them: Ouch! My! Boy! Heaven! Wow! Ah! etc. The interjections may be derived from other parts of speech or be primary interjections. For example, if you describe something as a “drag”, what do you mean? It is boring, too difficult or physically exhausting? Certainly, something that is annoying or boring. We can find a lot of emotional words in everyday small talks or in the literature: ” I love Sibyl Vane. I want to place her on a pedestal of gold, and to see the world worship the woman who is mine. What is marriage? An irrevocable vow. You mock at it for that. Ah! don’t mock.” ( Oscar Wild “The Picture of Dorian Gray” Moscow Progress Publishers 1979 Volume One, page 170)

To express irritation, mockery or any other emotions the speech should possess some special traits, that would show the audience that the speaker’s emotions are very strong. The traditional word order is not used in such cases, but one can obviously find the inversion. More to that, very interesting and vivid examples of echo-conversations can be found in everyday spoken speech. Sometimes it sounds really amusing: “Why should I… ?” – “Stop why-should-I-ing!” or “Oh, come on!”- “Don’t come-on-me!” These are examples of mockery back-chat. It is funny to find brand new words like “why-should-I-ing” invented by the speaker in the moment of utter irritation. This type of emotional speech is definitely increasing in the speech of young people today, as the native speakers assume.

The emotionally colored words are opposed to the emotionally neutral ones. These words actually express notions (It is the so-called nominating function) but they fail to express the speaker’s emotions or his attitude towards people or the speaker’s mood. However, sometimes it is very difficult to tell the sets as they are not very distinguishing, there are a lot of mixed cases. Some of them may possess traits that belong to both. Many words are definitely neutral in their primary, direct meaning but absolutely emotional in the certain conversation under the conditions of the context.

Another group of words may be called “evaluator-words” which contrasts in speech to the neutral words. These words, while we use them in the sentences, can not only show the presence of emotions but identify or specify them.

Just to sum up what have been mentioned I would like to underline that emphatic and emotional words do not show emotions by themselves but impact these to the whole utterance in the combination with syntactic and intonational means.

The Difference Between Being Smart, Educated, and Intelligent

I’ve always been intrigued by the subject of intelligence. As a child my mother would refer to me as “smart,” but I quickly noticed that all parents refer to their children as smart. In time I would discover that all children are not smart, just as all babies are not cute. If that were the case, we’d have a world full of beautiful, smart people – which we don’t.

Some of us are smart; but not as smart as we think, and others are smarter than they seem, which makes me wonder, how do we define smart? What makes one person smarter than another? When do “street smarts” matter more than “book smarts”? Can you be both smart and stupid? Is being smart more of a direct influence of genetics, or one’s environment?

Then there are the issues of education, intelligence and wisdom.

What does it mean to be highly educated? What’s the difference between being highly educated and highly intelligent? Does being highly educated automatically make you highly intelligent? Can one be highly intelligent without being highly educated? Do IQs really mean anything? What makes a person wise? Why is wisdom typically associated with old age?

My desire to seek answers to these questions inspired many hours of intense research which included the reading of 6 books, hundreds of research documents, and countless hours on the Internet; which pales in comparison to the lifetime of studies and research that pioneers in the fields of intelligence and education like Howard Gardner, Richard Sternberg, Linda S. Gottfredson, Thomas Sowell, Alfie Kohn, and Diane F. Halpern whose work is cited in this article.

My goal was simple: Amass, synthesize, and present data on what it means to be smart, educated and intelligent so that it can be understood and used by anyone for their benefit.

PRENATAL CARE

With this in mind, there was not a better (or more appropriate) place to start than at the very beginning of our existence: as a fetus in the womb.

There is mounting evidence that the consumption of food that’s high in iron both before and during pregnancy is critical to building the prenatal brain. Researchers have found a strong association between low iron levels during pregnancy and diminished IQ. Foods rich in iron include lima beans, kidney beans, pinto beans, spinach, asparagus, broccoli, seafoods, nuts, dried fruits, oatmeal, and fortified cereals.

Children with low iron status in utero (in the uterus) scored lower on every test and had significantly lower language ability, fine-motor skills, and tractability than children with higher prenatal iron levels. In essence, proper prenatal care is critical to the development of cognitive skills.

COGNITIVE SKILLS

Cognitive skills are the basic mental abilities we use to think, study, and learn. They include a wide variety of mental processes used to analyze sounds and images, recall information from memory, make associations between different pieces of information, and maintain concentration on particular tasks. They can be individually identified and measured. Cognitive skill strength and efficiency correlates directly with students’ ease of learning.

DRINKING, PREGNANCY, AND ITS INTELLECTUAL IMPACT

Drinking while pregnant is not smart. In fact, it’s downright stupid.

A study in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research has found that even light to moderate drinking – especially during the second trimester – is associated with lower IQs in offspring at 10 years of age. This result was especially pronounced among African-American rather than Caucasian offspring.

“IQ is a measure of the child’s ability to learn and to survive in his or her environment. It predicts the potential for success in school and in everyday life. Although a small but significant percentage of children are diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) each year, many more children are exposed to alcohol during pregnancy who do not meet criteria for FAS yet experience deficits in growth and cognitive function,” said Jennifer A. Willford, assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.

Paul D. Connor, clinical director of the Fetal Alcohol and Drug Unit and assistant professor in the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of Washington has this to say about the subject:

“There are a number of domains of cognitive functioning that can be impaired even in the face of a relatively normal IQ, including academic achievement (especially arithmetic), adaptive functioning, and executive functions (the ability to problem solve and learn from experiences). Deficits in intellectual, achievement, adaptive, and executive functioning could make it difficult to appropriately manage finances, function independently without assistance, and understand the consequences of – or react appropriately to – mistakes.”

This is a key finding which speaks directly to the (psychological) definition of intelligence which is addressed later in this article.

ULTRA SOUNDS

Studies have shown that the frequent exposure of the human fetus to ultrasound waves is associated with a decrease in newborn body weight, an increase in the frequency of left-handedness, and delayed speech.

Because ultrasound energy is a high-frequency mechanical vibration, researchers hypothesized that it might influence the migration of neurons in a developing fetus. Neurons in mammals multiply early in fetal development and then migrate to their final destinations. Any interference or disruption in the process could result in abnormal brain function.

Commercial companies (which do ultrasounds for “keepsake” purposes) are now creating more powerful ultrasound machines capable of providing popular 3D and 4D images. The procedure, however, lasts longer as they try to make 30-minute videos of the fetus in the uterus.

The main stream magazine New Scientist reported the following: Ultrasound scans can stop cells from dividing and make them commit suicide. Routine scans, which have let doctors peek at fetuses and internal organs for the past 40 years, affect the normal cell cycle.

On the FDA website this information is posted about ultrasounds:

While ultrasound has been around for many years, expectant women and their families need to know that the long-term effects of repeated ultrasound exposures on the fetus are not fully known. In light of all that remains unknown, having a prenatal ultrasound for non-medical reasons is not a good idea.

NATURE VERSUS NURTURE…THE DEBATE CONTINUES

Now that you are aware of some of the known factors which determine, improve, and impact the intellectual development of a fetus, it’s time for conception. Once that baby is born, which will be more crucial in the development of its intellect: nature (genetics) or nurture (the environment)?

Apparently for centuries, scientists and psychologists have gone back and forth on this. I read many comprehensive studies and reports on this subject during the research phase of this article, and I believe that it’s time to put this debate to rest. Both nature and nurture are equally as important and must be fully observed in the intellectual development of all children. This shouldn’t be an either/or proposition.

A recent study shows that early intervention in the home and in the classroom can make a big difference for a child born into extreme poverty, according to Eric Turkheimer, a psychologist at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. The study concludes that while genetic makeup explains most of the differences in IQ for children in wealthier families, environment – and not genes – makes a bigger difference for minority children in low-income homes.

Specifically, what researchers call “heritability”- the degree to which genes influence IQ – was significantly lower for poor families. “Once you’re put into an adequate environment, your genes start to take over,” Mr. Turkheimer said, “but in poor environments genes don’t have that ability.”

But there are reports that contradict these findings…sort of.

Linda S. Gottfredson, a professor of educational studies at the University of Delaware, wrote in her article, The General Intelligence Factor that environments shared by siblings have little to do with IQ. Many people still mistakenly believe that social, psychological and economic differences among families create lasting and marked differences in IQ.

She found that behavioral geneticists refer to such environmental effects as “shared” because they are common to siblings who grow up together. Her reports states that the heritability of IQ rises with age; that is to say, the extent to which genetics accounts for differences in IQ among individuals increases as people get older.

In her article she also refers to studies comparing identical and fraternal twins, published in the past decade by a group led by Thomas J. Bouchard, Jr., of the University of Minnesota and other scholars, show that about 40 percent of IQ differences among preschoolers stems from genetic differences, but that heritability rises to 60 percent by adolescence and to 80 percent by late adulthood.

And this is perhaps the most interesting bit of information, and relevant to this section of my article:

With age, differences among individuals in their developed intelligence come to mirror more closely their genetic differences. It appears that the effects of environment on intelligence fade rather than grow with time.

Bouchard concludes that young children have the circumstances of their lives imposed on them by parents, schools and other agents of society, but as people get older they become more independent and tend to seek out the life niches that are most congenial to their genetic proclivities.

BREAST-FEEDING INCREASES INTELLIGENCE

Researchers from Christchurch School of Medicine in New Zealand studied over 1,000 children born between April and August 1977. During the period from birth to one year, they gathered information on how these children were fed.

The infants were then followed to age 18. Over the years, the researchers collected a range of cognitive and academic information on the children, including IQ, teacher ratings of school performance in reading and math, and results of standardized tests of reading comprehension, mathematics, and scholastic ability. The researchers also looked at the number of passing grades achieved in national School Certificate examinations taken at the end of the third year of high school.

The results indicated that the longer children had been breast-fed, the higher they scored on such tests.

TALKING TO YOUR CHILDREN MAKES A DIFFERENCE

Thomas Sowell, author of Race, IQ, Black Crime, and facts Liberals Ignore uncovered some fascinating information that every parent should take note of. He writes:

There is a strong case that black Americans suffer from a series of disadvantageous environments. Studies show time and again that before they go to school, black children are on average exposed to a smaller vocabulary than white children, in part due to socioeconomic factors.

While children from professional households typically exposed to a total of 2,150 different words each day, children from working class households are exposed to 1,250, and children from households on welfare a mere 620.

Yes, smart sounding children tend to come from educated, professional, two-parent environments where they pick-up valuable language skills and vocabulary from its smart sounding inhabitants.

Mr. Sowell continues: Black children are obviously not to blame for their poor socioeconomic status, but something beyond economic status is at work in black homes. Black people have not signed up for the “great mission” of the white middle class – the constant quest to stimulate intellectual growth and get their child into Harvard or Oxbridge.

Elsie Moore of Arizona State University, Phoenix, studied black children adopted by either black or white parents, all of whom were middle-class professionals. By the age of 7.5 years, those in black homes were 13 IQ points behind those being raised in the white homes.

ACCUMULATED ADVANTAGES

At this juncture in my research it dawned on me, and should be fairly obvious to you, that many children are predisposed to being smart, educated, and intelligent, simply by their exposure to the influential factors which determine them long before they start school.

An informed mother, proper prenatal care, educated, communicative parents, and a nurturing environment in which to live, all add up to accumulated advantages that formulate intellectual abilities. As you can see, some children have unfair advantages from the very beginning.

Malcolm Gladwell, author of top-selling book Outliers, wrote that “accumulated advantages” are made possible by arbitrary rules…and such unfair advantages are everywhere. “It is those who are successful who are most likely to be given the kinds of social opportunities that lead to further success,” he writes. “It’s the rich who get the biggest tax breaks. It’s the best students who get the best teaching and most attention.”

With that in mind, we turn our attention to education and intelligence.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE WELL EDUCATED?

Alfie Kohn, author of the book What Does It Mean To Be Well Educated? poses the question, does the phrase well educated refer to a quality of schooling you received, or something about you? Does it denote what you were taught? Or what you remember?

I contend that to be well educated is all in the application; the application and use of information. Information has to be used in order to become knowledge, and as we all have heard, knowledge is power.

Most people are aware of the floundering state of education in this country on some level. We tell our children that nothing is more important than getting a “good” education, and every year, due to government budget shortfalls, teachers are laid off, classes are condensed, schools are closed, and many educational programs – especially those which help the underprivileged – are cut.

The reality is, we don’t really value education. We value it as a business, an industry, political ammunition, and as an accepted form of discrimination, but not for what it was intended: a means of enriching one’s character and life through learning.

What we value as a society, are athletes and the entertainment they offer. The fact that a professional athlete makes more money in one season, than most teachers in any region will make in their careers, is abominable. There’s always money to build new sports stadiums, but not enough to give teachers a decent (and well-deserved) raise.

Ironically, the best teachers don’t go into the profession for money. They teach because it’s a calling. Most of them were influenced by a really good teacher as a student. With the mass exodus of teachers, many students are not able to cultivate the mentoring relationships that they once were able to because so many are leaving the profession – voluntarily and involuntarily – within an average of three years.

At the high school level, where I got my start, the emphasis is not on how to educate the students to prepare them for life, or even college (all high schools should be college-prep schools, right?), it was about preparing them to excel on their standardized tests. Then the controversial “exit” exams were implemented and literally, many high schools were transformed into testing centers. Learning has almost become secondary.

This mentality carries over into college, which of course there’s a test one must take in order to enroll (the SAT or ACT). This explains why so many college students are more concerned with completing a course, than learning from it. They are focused on getting “A’s” and degrees, instead of becoming degreed thinkers. The latter of which are in greater demand by employers and comprise the bulk of the self-employed. The “get-the-good-grade” mindset is directly attributable to the relentless and often unnecessary testing that our students are subjected to in schools.

Alfie Kohn advocates the “exhibition” of learning, in which students reveal their understanding by means of in-depth projects, portfolios of assignments, and other demonstrations.

He cites a model pioneered by Ted Sizer and Deborah Meier. Meier has emphasized the importance of students having five “habits of mind,” which are: the value of raising questions about evidence (“How do we know what we know?”), point of view, (“Whose perspective does this represent?”), connections (“How is this related to that?”), supposition (“How might things have been otherwise?”), and relevance (“Why is this important?”).

Kohn writes: It’s only the ability to raise and answer those questions that matters, though, but also the disposition to do so. For that matter, any set of intellectual objectives, any description of what it means to think deeply and critically, should be accompanied by a reference to one’s interest or intrinsic motivation to do such thinking…to be well-educated then, is to have the desire as well as the means to make sure that learning never ends…

HISTORY AND PURPOSE OF IQ

We’ve always wanted to measure intelligence. Ironically, when you look at some the first methods used to evaluate it in the 1800s, they were not, well, very intelligent. Tactics such as subjecting people to various forms of torture to see what their threshold for pain was (the longer you could withstand wincing, the more intelligent you were believed to be), or testing your ability to detect a high pitch sound that others could not hear.

Things have changed…or have they?

No discussion of intelligence or IQ can be complete without mention of Alfred Binet, a French psychologist who was responsible for laying the groundwork for IQ testing in 1904. His original intention was to devise a test that would diagnose learning disabilities of students in France. The test results were then used to prepare special programs to help students overcome their educational difficulties.

It was never intended to be used as an absolute measure of one’s intellectual capabilities.

According to Binet, intelligence could not be described as a single score. He said that the use of the Intelligence Quotient (IQ) as a definite statement of a child’s intellectual capability would be a serious mistake. In addition, Binet feared that IQ measurement would be used to condemn a child to a permanent “condition” of stupidity, thereby negatively affecting his or her education and livelihood.

The original interest was in the assessment of ‘mental age’ — the average level of intelligence for a person of a given age. His creation, the Binet-Simon test (originally called a “scale”), formed the archetype for future tests of intelligence.

H. H. Goddard, director of research at Vineland Training School in New Jersey, translated Binet’s work into English and advocated a more general application of the Simon-Binet test. Unlike Binet, Goddard considered intelligence a solitary, fixed and inborn entity that could be measured. With help of Lewis Terman of Stanford University, his final product, published in 1916 as the Stanford Revision of the Binet-Simon Scale of Intelligence (also known as the Stanford-Binet), became the standard intelligence test in the United States.

It’s important to note that the fallacy about IQ is that it is fixed and can not be changed. The fact is that IQ scores are known to fluctuate – both up and down during the course of one’s lifetime. It does not mean that you become more, or less intelligent, it merely means that you tested better on one day than another.

One more thing to know about IQ tests: They have been used for racist purposes since their importation into the U.S. Many of those who were involved in the importation and refinement of these tests believed that IQ was hereditary and are responsible for feeding the fallacy that it is a “fixed” trait.

Many immigrants were tested in the 1920s and failed these IQ tests miserably. As a result, many of them were denied entry into the U.S., or were forced to undergo sterilization for fear of populating America with “dumb” and “inferior” babies. If you recall, the tests were designed for white, middle class Americans. Who do you think would have the most difficulty passing them?

Lewis Terman developed the original notion of IQ and proposed this scale for classifying IQ scores:

000 – 070: Definite feeble-mindedness

070 – 079: Borderline deficiency

080 – 089: Dullness

090 – 109: Normal or average intelligence

110 – 119: Superior intelligence

115 – 124: Above average (e.g., university students)

125 – 134: Gifted (e.g., post-graduate students)

135 – 144: Highly gifted (e.g., intellectuals)

145 – 154: Genius (e.g., professors)

155 – 164: Genius (e.g., Nobel Prize winners)

165 – 179: High genius

180 – 200: Highest genius

200 – higher ?: Immeasurable genius

*Genius IQ is generally considered to begin around 140 to 145, representing only 25% of the population (1 in 400).

*Einstein was considered to “only” have an IQ of about 160.

DEFINING INTELLIGENCE

Diane F. Halpern, a psychologist and past-president of the American Psychological Association (APA), wrote in her essay contribution to Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid that in general, we recognize people as intelligent if they have some combination of these achievements (1) good grades in school; (2) a high level of education; (3) a responsible, complex job; (4) some other recognition of being intelligent, such as winning prestigious awards or earning a large salary; (5) the ability to read complex text with good comprehension; (6) solve difficult and novel problems.

Throughout my research and in the early phases of this article, I came across many definitions of the word intelligence. Some were long, some were short. Some I couldn’t even understand. The definition that is most prevalent is the one created by the APA which is: the ability to adapt to one’s environment, and learn from one’s mistakes.

How about that? There’s the word environment again. We just can’t seem to escape it. This adds deeper meaning to the saying, “When in Rome, do as the Romans do.” It means recognizing what’s going on in your environment, and having the intelligence adapt to it – and the people who occupy it – in order to survive and succeed within it.

There are also many different forms of intelligence. Most notably those created by Dr. Howard Gardner, professor of education at Harvard University.

Dr. Gardner believes (and I agree) that our schools and culture focus most of their attention on linguistic and logical-mathematical intelligence. We esteem the highly articulate or logical people of our culture. However, Dr. Gardner says that we should also place equal attention on individuals who show gifts in the other intelligences: the artists, architects, musicians, naturalists, designers, dancers, therapists, entrepreneurs, and others who enrich the world in which we live.

He felt that the traditional notion of intelligence, based on IQ testing, was far too limited and created the Theories Of Multiple Intelligences in 1983 to account for a broader range of human potential in children and adults.

These intelligences are:

Linguistic intelligence (“word smart”)

Logical-mathematical intelligence (“number/reasoning smart”)

Spatial intelligence (“picture smart”)

Bodily-Kinesthetic intelligence (“body smart”)

Musical intelligence (“music smart”)

Interpersonal intelligence (“people smart”)

Intrapersonal intelligence (“self smart”)

Naturalist intelligence (“nature smart”)

Not associated with Dr. Gardner, but equally respected are:

FLUID & CRYSTALLIZED INTELLIGENCE

According to About.com, Psychologist Raymond Cattell first proposed the concepts of fluid and crystallized intelligence and further developed the theory with John Horn. The Cattell-Horn theory of fluid and crystallized intelligence suggests that intelligence is composed of a number of different abilities that interact and work together to produce overall individual intelligence.

Cattell defined fluid intelligence as “…the ability to perceive relationships independent of previous specific practice or instruction concerning those relationships.” Fluid intelligence is the ability to think and reason abstractly and solve problems. This ability is considered independent of learning, experience, and education. Examples of the use of fluid intelligence include solving puzzles and coming up with problem solving strategies.

Crystallized intelligence is learning from past experiences and learning. Situations that require crystallized intelligence include reading comprehension and vocabulary exams. This type of intelligence is based upon facts and rooted in experiences. This type of intelligence becomes stronger as we age and accumulate new knowledge and understanding.

Both types of intelligence increase throughout childhood and adolescence. Fluid intelligence peaks in adolescence and begins to decline progressively beginning around age 30 or 40. Crystallized intelligence continues to grow throughout adulthood.

SUCCESSFUL INTELLIGENCE

Then there’s Successful Intelligence, which is authored by intelligence psychologist and Yale professor, Robert J. Sternberg, who believes that the whole concept of relating IQ to life achievement is misguided, because he believes that IQ is a pretty miserable predictor of life achievement.

His Successful Intelligence theory focuses on 3 types of intelligence which are combined to contribute to one’s overall success: Analytical Intelligence; mental steps or components used to solve problems; Creative Intelligence: the use of experience in ways that foster insight (creativity/divergent thinking); and Practical Intelligence: the ability to read and adapt to the contexts of everyday life.

With regard to environment, Mr. Sternberg writes in his book Successful Intelligence: Successfully intelligent people realize that the environment in which they find themselves may or may not be able to make the most of their talents. They actively seek an environment where they can not only do successful work, but make a difference. They create opportunities rather than let opportunities be limited by circumstances in which they happen to find themselves.

As an educator, I subscribe to Mr. Sternberg’s Successful Intelligence approach to teaching. It has proven to be a highly effective tool and mindset for my college students. Using Successful Intelligence as the backbone of my context-driven curriculum really inspires students to see how education makes their life goals more attainable, and motivates them to further develop their expertise. Mr. Sternberg believes that the major factor in achieving expertise is purposeful engagement.

EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

In his best-selling 1995 book, Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman reported that research shows that conventional measures of intelligence – IQ – only account for 20% of a person’s success in life. For example, research on IQ and education shows that high IQ predicts 10 to 25% of grades in college. The percentage will vary depending on how we define success. Nonetheless, Goleman’s assertion begs the question: What accounts for the other 80%?

You guessed it…Emotional Intelligence. What exactly is emotional intelligence? Emotional intelligence (also called EQ or EI) refers to the ability to perceive, control, and evaluate emotions. Many corporations now have mandatory EQ training for their managers in an effort to improve employee

relations and increase productivity.

TACIT KNOWLEDGE aka “STREET SMARTS”

You’ve heard the phrase, “Experience is the greatest teacher…”

In psychology circles knowledge gained from everyday experience is called tacit knowledge. The colloquial term is “street smarts,” which implies that formal, classroom instruction (aka “book smarts”) has nothing to do with it. The individual is not directly instructed as to what he or she should learn, but rather must extract the important lesson from the experience even when learning is not the primary objective.

Tacit knowledge is closely related to common sense, which is sound and prudent judgment based on a simple perception of the situation or facts. As you know, common sense is not all that common.

Tacit knowledge, or the lessons obtained from it, seems to “stick” both faster and better when the lessons have direct relevance to the individual’s goals. Knowledge that is based on one’s own practical experience will likely be more instrumental to achieving one’s goals than will be knowledge that is based on someone else’s experience, or that is overly generic and abstract.

BEING BOTH SMART AND STUPID

Yes, it’s possible to be both smart and stupid. I’m sure someone you know comes to mind at this precise moment. But the goal here is not to ridicule, but to understand how some seemingly highly intelligent, or highly educated individuals can be so smart in one way, and incredibly stupid in others.

The woman who is a respected, well paid, dynamic executive who consistently chooses men who don’t appear to be worthy of her, or the man who appears to be a pillar of the community, with a loving wife and happy kids, ends up being arrested on rape charges.

It happens, but why? I found the answer in Why Smart People Can Be So Stupid. Essentially, intellect is domain specific. In other words, being smart (knowledgeable) in one area of your life, and stupid (ignorant) in another is natural. Turning off one’s brain is quite common especially when it comes to what we desire. A shared characteristic among those who are smart and stupid, is the difficulty in delaying gratification.

Olem Ayduk & Walter Mischel who wrote the chapter summarized: Sometimes stupid behavior in smart people may arise from faulty expectations, erroneous beliefs, or merely a lack of motivation to enact control strategies even when one has them. But sometimes it is an inability to regulate one’s affective states and the behavioral tendencies associated with them that leads to stupid and self-defeating behavior.

The central character in this book who many of these lessons regarding being smart and stupid revolve around is Bill Clinton and his affair with Monica Lewinksky.

WISDOM & CONCLUSION

My great grandmother, Leola Cecil, maybe had an 8th grade education at the most. By no stretch of the imagination was she highly educated, but she had what seemed like infinite wisdom. She was very observant and could “read” people with startling accuracy. Till the very end of her life she shared her “crystallized intelligence” with whomever was receptive to it.

She died at the age of 94. I often use many of her sayings as a public speaker, but most importantly, I use her philosophies to make sure that I’m being guided spiritually and not just intellectually. Many of us who are lucky enough to have a great grandparent can testify that there is something special about their knowledge. They seem to have life figured out, and a knack for helping those of us who are smart, educated and intelligent see things more clearly when we are too busy thinking.

What they have is what we should all aspire to end up with if we are lucky: wisdom.

Wisdom is the ability to look through a person, when others can only look at them. Wisdom slows down the thinking process and makes it more organic; synchronizing it with intuition. Wisdom helps you make better judgments regarding decisions, and makes you less judgmental. Wisdom is understanding without knowing, and accepting without understanding. Wisdom is recognizing what’s important to other people, and knowing that other people are of the utmost importance to you. Wisdom is both a starting point, and a final conclusion.

The Basic Principles of Preventing Infection

Basic Infection Control refers to measures designed to prevent the spread of infections or potentially infectious microorganisms to health personnel, clients and visitor. Various infection control measures are used to decrease the risk of transmission of microorganisms in hospitals.

Principles of Basic Infection Control

1. Microorganism move through space on air currents. Avoid shaking or tossing linens as these motions create currents on which these microorganisms can be transported. All isolation room doors should be closed to stop air currents.

2. Microorganisms are transferred from one surface to another whenever objects touch. When a clean item touches a less clean item, it becomes “dirty” because microorganisms are transferred to it. Keep your hands away from your hair and face. Keep linens away from your uniform. Always keep clean items separated from dirty ones, any object dropped to the floor is considered dirty.

3. Microorganisms are released into the air on droplet nuclei, whenever a person breathes or speaks. Coughing and sneezing dramatically increases the number of microorganisms released from the mouth and nose. Cover mouth when coughing and sneezing. Wash hands thoroughly.

4. Microorganisms are transferred by gravity when one item is held above another. Avoid passing dirty items over clean items or areas because it is possible for the microorganisms to drop off into a clean item or area. When storing items in a bedside stand, place a clean items on upper shelves and potentially dirty items such as bedpans on lower shelves.

5. Microorganisms move slowly on dry surfaces but very quickly through moisture. Use dry paper towel when you turn off faucets. Dry both basin before placing on bed side for storage.

6. Proper hand washing removes many of the microorganisms that would be transferred by the hands from one item to another.

Universal Precaution

1. Wear clean examination gloves for listed body fluids: Blood, semen, vaginal secretions, CSF, synovial fluid, pleural fluid, pericardial fluid, amniotic fluid, etc.

2. Wash hands:

  • a. Immediately after contact with body substances containing blood
  • b. Between patient care
  • c. Immediately after gloves are removed.

3. Wear masks and protective eyewear when appropriate.

4. Wear moisture-proof apron when appropriate.

5. Wear utility (household rubber) gloves appropriately

6. Dispose of equipment and secretions properly

7. Wear sterile gloves appropriately

8. Handle specimens of blood and listed body fluids appropriately

9. Handle soiled linens correctly:

a. Hold linen away from uniform

b. Do not shake or toss linen

c. Transport linen contaminated with blood or bloody fluids in leakage resistant proof bags.

The Best Investment Portfolio for 2014 and Beyond

If you have an investment portfolio (like in a 401k plan) take a good look at it, because it might not really be the best investment portfolio for 2014 and beyond. If you are a new investor, don’t start investing money until you are familiar with the best funds to include in your portfolio in 2014.

Your investment portfolio is simply a list showing where your money is, and for most average investors consists primarily of mutual funds: stock funds, bond funds and money market funds. Here we discuss the best funds and asset allocation to achieve the best investment portfolio in the event that 2014 and beyond becomes a tough environment for investors. You may need to make changes in your existing portfolio; and you should also be aware of the following as a new investor before you start investing money.

As an investor you should receive statements periodically which show you where your money is. The problem is that many investors do not give these statements, which clearly show you your asset allocation and your investment portfolio, the attention they deserve. That can be a problem. For example, if you had 50% of your portfolio allocated to stock funds in early 2009, you could have two-thirds of your money in these funds now. If the stock market takes a big hit, you stand to take a big loss. Let’s take a look at stock funds and the best funds for investing money there first.

The stock market and many diversified stock funds have gone UP in value about 150% in less than 5 years, and numerous financial analysts expect a correction (stock prices to go DOWN) in 2014. If your investment portfolio shows that more than half of your assets are invested in stock funds consider cutting back to 50% or less. If you are a new investor ready to start investing, allocate no more than 50% to diversified stock funds. The best funds: those that invest in high quality, dividend paying stocks vs. growth funds that pay little in the form of dividends. This is your first step in putting together the best investment portfolio for 2014, because it cuts your potential losses.

The best investment portfolio also includes bond funds, which have been good solid investments for over 30 years. Why? Interest rates have been falling, which sends bond prices and bond fund values higher. Problem: interest rates have hit all-time lows and appear to be heading higher. Higher interest rates create losses for bond fund investors. Many investors have an investment portfolio loaded with bond funds and are totally unaware of the risk involved if rates go up. If you are getting ready to start investing money you need to know this as well. When interest rates go UP, bonds and bond fund values go DOWN. That’s about the only iron-clad rule in the investment world.

Allocate no more than 25% to 30% of your total investment portfolio to bond funds to cut your risk. The best bond funds are categorized as intermediate-term funds, where the investment portfolio of the fund invests in bonds that mature (on average) in 5 to 10 years. These are the best funds now because they pay a respectable dividend with only moderate risk. The worst funds to hold now: long-term funds that hold bonds maturing (on average) in 15, 20 years or more. When you review your investment portfolio, get rid of these because they will be big losers if (when) interest rates shoot upward. New investors who want to start investing money: avoid them and allocate about 25% of your money to intermediate-term bond funds to avoid heavy risk.

Sometimes the best investment portfolio is loaded with aggressive stock funds and includes longer-term bond funds. Now, looking at 2014 and beyond, is probably not one of those times. For many years now losses in stock funds have been offset by gains in bond funds. Today the problem for investors is that even the best funds of both varieties could get hit if the economy falters and interest rates rise significantly. That makes investing money today a real challenge… one that few investors are prepared for.

So, let’s say that you start investing money with less than 50% going to the best funds in the stock department and about 25% allocated to the best funds in the bond universe… or you adjust your existing investment portfolio to these levels… where do you invest the rest of it? Even though interest rates are still historically low, you bite the bullet and invest it for safety to earn interest. In a 401k plan your best safe investment is likely the stable account, if your plan has one. Otherwise, the best fund for safety is a money market fund (even though they presently pay almost no interest). When rates go up, they should pay more. Or you can shop the banks for the best rates on short-term CDs, or savings accounts.

I expect that 2014 and beyond will be a challenging time to start investing money or to manage an existing investment portfolio. On the other hand, now you should have a handle on the best funds to consider when putting together the best investment portfolio possible. Remember, you must stay in the game in order to get ahead over the long term; but sometimes moderation is your best course of action.

Functions of Minerals

When reading of nutrition and health, minerals and trace elements are often mentioned. We respond by eating lots of fruits and veggies, and maybe a vitamin supplement. We never doubt the validity of needing these things with names from the periodic table, but have you ever stopped and wondered what exactly it is they do for us? Or for that matter what are they and where do they naturally occur? Well you can stop lying awake nights, wondering about this!! Processed food cannot provide the services in the following list:

CALCIUM: Critical for many biological functions, including nerve   transmission , fat and protein digestion, muscle contraction, healthy teeth and bones, blood clotting, nerve functions, and more.

SODIUM: Muscle contraction, fluid balance, cell life and potential, and numerous other functions.

POTASIUM: Bone formation, fluid balance, blood pressure, muscle contraction, and many more functions.

PHOSPHORUS: Bone formation, assistance in the breakdown of fats, protein and carbohydrates.

MAGNESIUM: Muscle contraction, nerve  transmission , calcium metabolism, enzyme cofactor–ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL TO ALL KNOWN FORMS OF LIFE.

BORON: Calcium metabolism–an inadequate level of boron is also suspected in negatively influencing the body’s uptake of magnesium and calcium, possibly resulting in bone density loss and elevated blood pressure.

CHLORINE: Digestion, blood pressure.

COBALT: Essential for formation of vitamin B12, metabolism of fatty acids, and synthesis of hemoglobin.

SULPHUR: Protien synthesis, collagen cross linking, and ligament structure.

COPPER: Immune system, artery strength, helps form hemoglobin from iron and assist in metabolizing vitamin C and the oxidation of fatty acids.

CHROMIUM: Insulin action, cardiovascular health, glucose tolerance factor.

IRON: Blood formation, immune function.

SELENIUM: Immune stimulant, certain brain functions, acts as antioxidant. NICKEL: Immune regulation, brain development, and DNA synthesis.

IODINE: Thyroid functions, aids in upkeep of immune system.

MOLYBDEMUM: Enzyme action.

SILICON: Enzyme action, connective tissue.

TIN: Enzyme action

MANGANESE: Bone development and growth, metabolism of fat and energy, reproductive systems.

ZINC: Enzymatic reactions, reproductive health, growth and development, immune functions.

The Top 5 Key Benefits of Purchasing and Owning Investment Real Estate

So… You may ask yourself, why should you buy or invest in real estate in the First Place? Because it’s the IDEAL investment! Let’s take a moment to address the reasons why people should have investment real estate in the first place. The easiest answer is a well-known acronym that addresses the key benefits for all investment real estate. Put simply, Investment Real Estate is an IDEAL investment. The IDEAL stands for:

• I – Income
• D – Depreciation
• E – Expenses
• A – Appreciation
• L – Leverage

Real estate is the IDEAL investment compared to all others. I’ll explain each benefit in depth.

The “I” in IDEAL stands for Income. (a.k.a. positive cash flow) Does it even generate income? Your investment property should be generating income from rents received each month. Of course, there will be months where you may experience a vacancy, but for the most part your investment will be producing an income. Be careful because many times beginning investors exaggerate their assumptions and don’t take into account all potential costs. The investor should know going into the purchase that the property will COST money each month (otherwise known as negative cash flow). This scenario, although not ideal, may be OK, only in specific instances that we will discuss later. It boils down to the risk tolerance and ability for the owner to fund and pay for a negative producing asset. In the boom years of real estate, prices were sky high and the rents didn’t increase proportionately with many residential real estate investment properties. Many naïve investors purchased properties with the assumption that the appreciation in prices would more than compensate for the fact that the high balance mortgage would be a significant negative impact on the funds each month. Be aware of this and do your best to forecast a positive cash flow scenario, so that you can actually realize the INCOME part of the IDEAL equation.

Often times, it may require a higher down payment (therefore lesser amount being mortgaged) so that your cash flow is acceptable each month. Ideally, you eventually pay off the mortgage so there is no question that cash flow will be coming in each month, and substantially so. This ought to be a vital component to one’s retirement plan. Do this a few times and you won’t have to worry about money later on down the road, which is the main goal as well as the reward for taking the risk in purchasing investment property in the first place.

The “D” in IDEAL Stands for Depreciation. With investment real estate, you are able to utilize its depreciation for your own tax benefit. What is depreciation anyway? It’s a non-cost accounting method to take into account the overall financial burden incurred through real estate investment. Look at this another way, when you buy a brand new car, the minute you drive off the lot, that car has depreciated in value. When it comes to your investment real estate property, the IRS allows you to deduct this amount yearly against your taxes. Please note: I am not a tax professional, so this is not meant to be a lesson in taxation policy or to be construed as tax advice.

With that said, the depreciation of a real estate investment property is determined by the overall value of the structure of the property and the length of time (recovery period based on the property type-either residential or commercial). If you have ever gotten a property tax bill, they usually break your property’s assessed value into two categories: one for the value of the land, and the other for the value of the structure. Both of these values added up equals your total “basis” for property taxation. When it comes to depreciation, you can deduct against your taxes on the original base value of the structure only; the IRS doesn’t allow you to depreciate land value (because land is typically only APPRECIATING). Just like your new car driving off the lot, it’s the structure on the property that is getting less and less valuable every year as its effective age gets older and older. And you can use this to your tax advantage.

The best example of the benefit regarding this concept is through depreciation, you can actually turn a property that creates a positive cash flow into one that shows a loss (on paper) when dealing with taxes and the IRS. And by doing so, that (paper) loss is deductible against your income for tax purposes. Therefore, it’s a great benefit for people that are specifically looking for a “tax-shelter” of sorts for their real estate investments.

For example, and without getting too technical, assume that you are able to depreciate $15,000 a year from a $500,000 residential investment property that you own. Let’s say that you are cash-flowing $1,000 a month (meaning that after all expenses, you are net-positive $1000 each month), so you have $12,000 total annual income for the year from this property’s rental income. Although you took in $12,000, you can show through your accountancy with the depreciation of the investment real estate that you actually lost $3,000 on paper, which is used against any income taxes that you may owe. From the standpoint of IRS, this property realized a loss of $3,000 after the “expense” of the $15,000 depreciation amount was taken into account. Not only are there no taxes due on that rental income, you can utilize the paper loss of $3,000 against your other regular taxable income from your day-job. Investment property at higher price points will have proportionally higher tax-shelter qualities. Investors use this to their benefit in being able to deduct as much against their taxable amount owed each year through the benefit of depreciation with their underlying real estate investment.

Although this is a vastly important benefit to owning investment real estate, the subject is not well understood. Because depreciation is a somewhat complicated tax subject, the above explanation was meant to be cursory in nature. When it comes to issues involving taxes and depreciation, make sure you have a tax professional that can advise you appropriately so you know where you stand.

The “E” in IDEAL is for Expenses – Generally, all expenses incurred relating to the property are deductible when it comes to your investment property. The cost for utilities, the cost for insurance, the mortgage, and the interest and property taxes you pay. If you use a property manager or if you’re repairing or improving the property itself, all of this is deductible. Real estate investment comes with a lot of expenses, duties, and responsibilities to ensure the investment property itself performs to its highest capability. Because of this, contemporary tax law generally allows that all of these related expenses are deductible to the benefit of the investment real estate landowner. If you were to ever take a loss, or purposefully took a loss on a business investment or investment property, that loss (expense) can carry over for multiple years against your income taxes. For some people, this is an aggressive and technical strategy. Yet it’s another potential benefit of investment real estate.

The “A” in IDEAL is for Appreciation – Appreciation means the growth of value of the underlying investment. It’s one of the main reasons that we invest in the first place, and it’s a powerful way to grow your net worth. Many homes in the city of San Francisco are several million dollars in today’s market, but back in the 1960s, the same property was worth about the cost of the car you are currently driving (probably even less!). Throughout the years, the area became more popular and the demand that ensued caused the real estate prices in the city to grow exponentially compared to where they were a few decades ago. People that were lucky enough to recognize this, or who were just in the right place at the right time and continued to live in their home have realized an investment return in the 1000’s of percent. Now that’s what appreciation is all about. What other investment can make you this kind of return without drastically increased risk? The best part about investment real estate is that someone is paying you to live in your property, paying off your mortgage, and creating an income (positive cash flow) to you each month along the way throughout your course of ownership.

The “L” in IDEAL stands for Leverage – A lot of people refer to this as “OPM” (other people’s money). This is when you are using a small amount of your money to control a much more expensive asset. You are essentially leveraging your down payment and gaining control of an asset that you would normally not be able to purchase without the loan itself. Leverage is much more acceptable in the real estate world and inherently less risky than leverage in the stock world (where this is done through means of options or buying “on Margin”). Leverage is common in real estate. Otherwise, people would only buy property when they had 100% of the cash to do so. Over a third of all purchase transactions are all-cash transactions as our recovery continues. Still, about 2/3 of all purchases are done with some level of financing, so the majority of buyers in the market enjoy the power that leverage can offer when it comes to investment real estate.

For example, if a real estate investor was to buy a house that costs $100,000 with 10% down payment, they are leveraging the remaining 90% through the use of the associated mortgage. Let’s say the local market improves by 20% over the next year, and therefore the actual property is now worth $120,000. When it comes to leverage, from the standpoint of this property, its value increased by 20%. But compared to the investor’s actual down payment (the “skin in the game”) of $10,000- this increase in property value of 20% really means the investor doubled their return on the investment actually made-also known as the “cash on cash” return. In this case, that is 200%-because the $10,000 is now responsible and entitled to a $20,000 increase in overall value and the overall potential profit.

Although leverage is considered a benefit, like everything else, there can always be too much of a good thing. In 2007, when the real estate market took a turn for the worst, many investors were over-leveraged and fared the worst. They could not weather the storm of a correcting economy. Exercising caution with every investment made will help to ensure that you can purchase, retain, pay-off debt, and grow your wealth from the investment decisions made as opposed to being at the mercy and whim of the overall market fluctuations. Surely there will be future booms and busts as the past would dictate as we continue to move forward. More planning and preparing while building net worth will help prevent getting bruised and battered by the side effects of whatever market we find ourselves in.

Many people think that investment real estate is only about cash flow and appreciation, but it’s so much more than that. As mentioned above, you can realize several benefits through each real estate investment property you purchase. The challenge is to maximize the benefits through every investment.

Furthermore, the IDEAL acronym is not just a reminder of the benefits of investment real estate; it’s also here to serve as a guide for every investment property you will consider purchasing in the future. Any property you purchase should conform to all of the letters that represent the IDEAL acronym. The underlying property should have a good reason for not fitting all the guidelines. And in almost every case, if there is an investment you are considering that doesn’t hit all the guidelines, by most accounts you should probably PASS on it!

Take for example a story of my own, regarding a property that I purchased early on in my real estate career. To this day, it’s the biggest investment mistake that I’ve made, and it’s precisely because I didn’t follow the IDEAL guidelines that you are reading and learning about now. I was naïve and my experience was not yet fully developed. The property I purchased was a vacant lot in a gated community development. The property already had an HOA (a monthly maintenance fee) because of the nice amenity facilities that were built for it, and in anticipation of would-be-built homes. There were high expectations for the future appreciation potential-but then the market turned for the worse as we headed into the great recession that lasted from 2007-2012. Can you see what parts of the IDEAL guidelines I missed on completely?

Let’s start with “I”. The vacant lot made no income! Sometimes this can be acceptable, if the deal is something that cannot be missed. But for the most part this deal was nothing special. In all honesty, I’ve considered selling the trees that are currently on the vacant lot to the local wood mill for some actual income, or putting up a camping spot ad on the local Craigslist; but unfortunately the lumber isn’t worth enough and there are better spots to camp! My expectations and desire for price appreciation blocked the rational and logical questions that needed to be asked. So, when it came to the income aspect of the IDEAL guidelines for a real estate investment, I paid no attention to it. And I paid the price for my hubris. Furthermore, this investment failed to realize the benefit of depreciation as you cannot depreciate land! So, we are zero for two so far, with the IDEAL guideline to real estate investing. All I can do is hope the land appreciates to a point where it can be sold one day. Let’s call it an expensive learning lesson. You too will have these “learning lessons”; just try to have as few of them as possible and you will be better off.

When it comes to making the most of your real estate investments, ALWAYS keep the IDEAL guideline in mind to make certain you are making a good decision and a solid investment.

Start With a School Radio Station

My 15-year-old nephew asked me, “How and where to practice and develop one of the working skills during school time?” My first thought, at that moment, was “College radio station”.

At 16, I joined my college radio station and began my job as an editor for an online music program. From that day, I have become acquainted with terms such as noise, sound, broadcast, frequency and so on. Luckier than many people, with that job, I could earn money for my living, besides gaining very much experience and building up many good relationships which can support my current and future career. And with such experience, now, I can give advice to my nephew or any youth who wants to start a career and develop their skill, knowledge in working.

Well, let me think about what we need for a college radio station. If just listing out, we might think that it’s too simple and easy: a studio, or source of program, and the   transmission  lines. If you are beginners, don’t think you can do much and all but step by step. It was really difficult at that time when we began with various odd pieces of equipment. We started using the easiest means of  transmission  by broadcasting in the school canteen, in classes. And later, we added more ways to reach the audience. We concentrated on serving our school and at the same time extended to other colleges in the same area. Actually, the running of our school radio station was based on fund-raising and sponsorship money. Besides some necessary equipment such as Mini-discs, computers, recorders, we faced a bigger problem for a long time looking for an old, affordable multi-track mixer. We didn’t have the advanced and efficient equipment to support our work.

The first broadcasting show of ours was a two-hour program divided into 3 smaller sections. The first one was “Hello Morning” with 3 tiny bulletins of 3 to 5 minutes each. In these bulletins, we presented all good and happy news. The second section was “Music Dedication Program”. We compiled a few collections of music and one by one was presented everyday. The third one was “School loud speaker” during which we announced important events of the school for the following week. Day by day, the program was extended and the coverage of the program was enlarged.

We received more orders from many schools for radio storytellers, puppeteers, live music programs, music festivals, and etc. The students who worked in the radio station were really in situation in which we could practice and develop the skills of drawing up plans, solving problems, devising strategies and many more. Two years later, our radio station was presented with a big gift from a local station: a voice changer software and a music editor software. These advanced softwares helped us handle our job properly. Instead of needing many students to join in dubbing for a story or a drama, now, we just need two “technical operators” and two students to make the dubbing. The old weak multi-track mixer was “retired” and the music editor.

We learnt how to apply these efficient tools in work. Of course, we found them very useful and interesting. We could easily record, remix music, add sound and effects, change one voice into many others. These jobs used to require many people and much time . However, applying our computers and these softwares, we could do the job well with just 4 or 5 people.

We spent much time, thought and labor in this extra-curriculum job, but we loved it. We made school lessons more interesting and exciting. We created a different way for children to gain experience and helped them make a presentation in a new way. We made a radio program which was considered the “voice” of students, pupils in the school. We sent meaningful music messages to friends, teachers, and so on.

I join my current company, a provider of voice changer and music editor softwares, because of many reasons. One of these reasons is that I want to support many college radio stations. My friends who used to work with me in our school radio station are all having good jobs in professional.

We are very happy to give advice and guidelines to youth in starting a school radio station or a home music studio.

One of the first advices from me is that “Don’t wait until tomorrow what you can do today”. Seize any chance you have, start with your dream, step by step, and you can see a clearer road for your future.

Marine VHF Radio

Types of VHF sets:

Non-DSC sets

Non-DSC VHF sets on yachts and motorboats will still continue to work, will still be legal to use and certificate holders do not need to do a conversion course until they choose to upgrade. After 2005 Coastguards will cease to monitor Channel 16 in the way that they do now, that is with a dedicated officer on headset watch 24 hours a day, but they will continue to have a loudspeaker watch on channel 16 in the operations room. Increasingly the boat without VHF DSC radio will be at a disadvantage.

A transportable set is an invaluable second radio for use in an emergency when it can be taken into a life raft or used on deck to communicate in a rescue situation. It is useful for safety reasons in a tender when going ashore or in a safety boat when organising dinghy sailing events. A portable set is a good buy for non-boat owners who charter or who go afloat occasionally. They have a limited range but do require licensing and certification. Portable sets with a very limited DSC facility are available. They are intended as an addition to a full VHF DSC set, not as a substitute. Note that the portable set covered by a ship’s radio licence can only be used on the vessel covered by the licence or by its tender(s). It is illegal to use the portable ashore.

VHF DSC radio sets

From 2001 all new non-portable radios sold must be VHF-DSC or be capable of being converted to DSC by the addition of an extra ‘black box’. These are called DSC Controllers. It will provide the digital selective calling (DSC) facility which is the special feature of the new type of set. What this does is to send, on channel 70, a burst of digital signals in a code to ‘call up’ another DSC set. This call can be directed at an individual, using their MMSI, a group of boats or ‘all stations’ in an emergency. Once the link has been established by the digital ‘call’, normal voice   transmission  will be used. The DSC is essentially a new method of establishing communications, more reliably than was possible before. The digital signals are of high radio quality and rapid, the alert taking just 0.5 seconds. It can be used in both routine and distress situations.

There are different classes of controller with varying levels of capability for use in different types of vessel.

The Class D controller is the one designed for use with VHF on yachts and motorboats who make passages within VHF range of the coast. Fitting one of these is not compulsory on private boats. On small boats used at sea commercially, sea school boats for example, it may become a requirement. This will be to the great advantage of their students who will be able to see the sets in use and appreciate their advantages.

Other controllers for VHF DSC are available to meet the requirements of ships. These include Class A and B Controllers, which have enhanced capabilities.

What is the range of the set?

Those sailing across an ocean, or even the Bay of Biscay, need radios that transmit over vast distances. Licensing arrangements are different too.

The range of  transmission  of VHF radio telephones is limited by a number of factors. The height of the aerial is very significant as the propagation of the radio waves is only slightly more than ‘line of sight’. This includes the aerial height of both the transmitting and the receiving station.

When talking from yacht to yacht expect a range of 10 to l5 miles with aerials fitted at the tops of the masts. Those commonly fitted to yachts are known as ‘unity gain’ aerials. They are made of thin wire and often have wind instruments attached. They are recommended because, although the range is not as good as the taller rigid aerials used on motorboats, they cope better with the heeling effect often experienced on yachts! The better range of a ‘high gain’ motor cruiser aerial is only achieved if it is mounted vertically.

It should be possible to talk to a Coastguard station from 30 to 40 miles offshore because of the height of their aerial.

Transmitting range is also affected by the transmitting power of the set. The maximum power allowed is 25 watts. There is also a low power setting, which reduces the transmitting power to 1 watt. This should be used for all short range routine communications. You might think that it is always a good idea to broadcast your signal as far as possible. This it not so. Remember that each channel can only be used for one  transmission  at a time. Powerful signals cause more inference to other radio users. If you are calling another craft nearby or a marina, use low power. Try to use low power for all routine communications. The use of low power does not change the receiving range of the set.

A portable VHF set has yet another type of aerial. This is flexible and will operate at a wider range of angles. The low aerial height and a maximum power output of 5 watts reduces the range of  transmission  of these sets. Between portable radios the range can be up to 5 miles, increasing to 10 miles to a Coastguard station, if there is no land in the way! Remember, with portable radios there is always the risk that the battery will go flat.

The information about ranges of  transmissions  is for average conditions and good circumstances. Ranges can be influenced by:

o Atmospheric conditions, especially high pressure, can increase the range and cause interference from distant stations.

o Land. Boats operating near land may have poor reception with signals being blocked by hills or buildings.

o Incorrect installation of the aerial, or damage to the coaxial cable connecting the aerial to the set, can give poor reception.

o The proximity of other electronic equipment can cause interference.

For these reasons it is best to have the fitting done, or at least checked, by a professional electronics engineer.

A portable radio has a range of 5 miles to another portable, 10 miles to a Coastguard Station.

All distress calls should be transmitted on high power.

Many yachts carry emergency VHF aerials in case of dismasting, which is a very good idea, but failure of the electrical supply is a more frequent problem! The emergency aerial has a plug attached to connect it to the back of the set. For maximum range, situate the aerial as high as possible, but realistically expect a greatly reduced range. When the mast is lost, many people are surprised to hear the radio apparently still working. This is because the co-axial cable is acting as an aerial over a short range, but transmitting without an aerial will damage the set permanently.

A portable radio could be useful under these circumstances!

“But” vs “And”

Two three–letter words: “but” and “and.” In grammatical terms, they are called conjunctions. They bridge two clauses of a single sentence together. In communication (and negotiation), these words are subtle manipulators of exclusion or inclusion. Generally speaking, “but” excludes, denies, discounts or in some way rejects the previous clause. For example, the statement “she is a very productive employee but she can be a bit demanding” is subtly different than “she is a very productive employee and she can be a bit demanding.” In the first example, the “but” tends to convey a negation of the first clause of the sentence in favor of the second clause of the sentence. In the next example, the “and” tends to convey an inclusion of the first clause along with the second clause.

Take another example: “Yes I understand you need to meet with me before tomorrow’s meeting but my schedule is packed full” vs. “I Yes I understand you need to meet with me before tomorrow’s meeting and my schedule is packed full.” In this example, by using “and” instead of “but” the speaker not only avoids negating the initial clause but also conveys to the listener that his/her concerns about needing to meet are acknowledged.

Using “and” is also a much softer way to say no. For example, the typical “yes, but” can easily be replaced with “yes, and.” For example, the request “We need to purchase new computers” can be responded to with “yes I know, but we can’t until next year” or “yes I know, and we can’t until next year.” The “and” does not negate the “yes” whereas the “but” does tend to convey a sense of canceling out that which preceded the “but.”

The use of “but” is extraordinarily common. In fact, few people actually recognize the subtle influence of using but. If you were to consciously attempt to change “but” to “and” in your speaking, you will notice how odd it feels. But, it is a worthwhile exercise if for no other reason than to become more comfortable with the ability to switch from one to the other. However, there can be a more important reason: using “and” instead of “but” can positively influence dialogue. When using “and” instead of “but” there is a sense of inclusion and acceptance even if the conclusion is a denial or refusal.

Try it out over the next several days. Listen to others’ sentences and when you hear “but” change it in your own mind to “and.” Then, start listening to your own sentences. When you hear yourself about to say “but” change it to “and” but remember one thing…oops…and remember one thing…