Making Investment Plans

Steps In Investing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Considering Personal Taxes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Investing Over the Life Cycle

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

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

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

Investing In Different Economic Conditions

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

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

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

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

Stocks and the Business Cycle

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

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

Bonds and Interest Rates

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

My Relationship with my Parents

I truly value my relationship with my parents. The role of my parents and my siblings in my life can hardly ever be overstated. To begin with, I should state that my parents have always provided me with support. Their opinion has always played a significant role in my decision making process. Whenever I had a problematic situation over the course of my life I would necessarily talk to my parents about an issue that generated a seemingly irresolvable dilemma. I could go talk to my father about almost anything. When I was in high school and actually all my way through college my parents used to give my valuable advices as to what kind of men I should choose for relationships, what classes I should take and what cloths I should put on. They always taught me something. I cannot say that I necessarily followed their advice. The ultimate source that I always refer to when I have to make an important decision is my own brain. I believe that I am smart enough as well as experienced enough to make my own decisions. However, it is always important to consult my parents simply because they might give me a different perspective that I would never think of on my own. Even though their opinion might not be exactly what I am looking for at a particular point in my life, their contribution is extremely valuable. It is hard to explain but sometimes when I get in a really complex position and I feel that I know the answer to a question that torments me I go talk to my parents anyway. Most of the time I am totally positive that I will not take their advice and that my own decision will the one that I will take eventually but it is just important for me to have my parents hear my story and contribute to my decision. In other words there are times when I need someone to talk to. My parents and my siblings are the only people that I will select for that role.

My parents and siblings provide a great deal of moral support at times of trouble. However, the role of those people in my life is not confined to comforting me when I cannot find a way out of a complex situation. My relationship with my brother and sister is somewhat different. Of course my brother and sister support me a lot in almost any situation and I am sure that they are the people that I can count on in case I have a dilemma to deal with. However, there has always been tremendous competition among us in the family. It was always vital for me to excel my siblings in almost every aspect of life. Back when I was a high school student I felt like I needed to pick better grades in all the classes that we took together. When it was time for me to pick a university to apply to I always had to know what schools my brother and sister applied to so that I could apply to a better one. That ultimate desire to be the best in the family has always dominated my personality. At this point I cannot say for sure whether it is a good or bad thing. Sometimes I happened to excel in something and that brought me enormous satisfaction. Other times I would sustain a considerable failure and that would just devastate me completely. Nevertheless, now that I can take a look back at my entire life and consciously evaluation everything I ever did I can confidently state that I would not have accomplished most of the things that I have ever done in my life had I not have my siblings. They were the source of my energy and my drive that motivated and inspired me to persevere and keep going even when a situation was bleak and hopeless. My brother and sister are that people that I have to thank for almost everything that I have achieved over the course of my life. I did not realize that when I was younger. Now I can clearly see their role in my life.

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.

A Fragile Lifeline: Lessons I Learned Answering The Aids Hotline

Dial 1-800/AIDSNYC

Every Monday and Wednesday morning, promptly at 10 a.m., I leave behind

my daily life and turn to volunteering as an AIDS Hotline counselor at New York

City’s GMHC [Gay Men’s Health Crisis], the nation’s largest social service

agency for AIDS.

For the next four hours, my co-volunteers and I sit in front of a bank of

constantly-ringing telephones, talking to men, women, and teens who call in

from across the nation with urgent questions about AIDS, the ravaging disease

that has left 13.9 million people dead worldwide.

After almost 20 years, a whole generation, families are still facing the

heartache of tending the sick, while scientists continue to be confounded by

this stubborn, ravaging virus.

Although the federal government currently spends$4 billion per year on

AIDS research, and $15 billion worldwide, there is no cure in sight for the viral

infection and no vaccine available. Small wonder that the GMHC AIDS Hotline,

the nation’s first, is flooded with more than 40,000 calls each year.

Listening to callers 8 hours each week, I often think the Hotline is actually a

direct link to the soul of callers–an anonymous forum that allows each to

reveal secrets and fears that they might otherwise never discuss with anyone.

A Morning in May

This is the way it began: “Good morning, GMHC AIDS Hotline, can I help

you?”

“Yes…I have a question…[hesitantly] My son…he’s 21…and he just found

out…he’s HIV-positive [voice breaking] I’m…..alone, divorced. And I need some

help…someone to talk to…”

“Of course….happy to talk to you…it sounds like this has been devastating

for you….”

“It’s terrible. He told me two nights ago….he’s…he’s so young….I don’t

want him to die. He’s my only child….why did this have to happen?” [crying]

Her son, she explains, had sometimes neglected using condoms, convinced

he wouldn’t contract HIV infection from his female partners.

“How could he be so stupid?” she now asks angrily. “Why didn’t he know

how to protect himself? I don’t understand. What am I going to do?”

We talk for 35 minutes, and by the end of the conversation, I notice I’m

barely breathing. The distraught woman’s anguish is palpable. Her situation is

every mother’s worst nightmare.The life of her child is in jeopardy and she

feels helpless and afraid. I can’t imagine anything worse.

During the call, I do my best to employ the GMHC Hotline protocol of “active

listening,” which involves using silence, empathy and gentle probing with

open-ended questions. I’m also having my own emotional reaction to the panic

in her voice, and I’m worried about whether I’m doing enough.

Toward the end of the clal, when she exclaims: “I don’t want my baby to

die,” my heart plummets: “I know….I understand that, but there is hope,” I tell

her. I find myself on the verge of tears.

The Bad News

This mother’s story is too common. According to the Centers for Disease

Control in Atlanta, Ga., 40,000 Americans (half of them under 25) are newly

infected with the AIDS virus each year. Unprotected sex and intravenous drug

use remain the principal modes of   transmission .

“Teenagers,” notes AIDS activist Elizabeth Taylor, “are being very hard hit.”

She refers to the three million adolescents who contract a sexually-transmitted

disease annually.

“Heterosexual teenage football players who are healthy and drink milk can

get it too!” says the 71-year-old actress, who has singlehandedly raised $150

million for AIDS research. “But teens are very ignorant and feel invincible. They

believe there’s an invisible shield protecting them from the virus, when it’s

actually aimed right at them.”

Taylor believes in addressing the problem head-on: “Tell your teenage son:

‘Maybe a condom doesn’t feel as good, but if it saves your life, it’s better than

being six feet under.’ Intelligence must replace random sex.”

Although a new generation of AIDS-fighting medications is prolonging the

lives of thousands, nearly half of the 900,000 people infected with HIV in the

U.S. cannot afford these drugs. Since the virus was discovered in l981, 410,800

Americans have died from AIDS-related complications, and the disease has left

13.9 million dead worldwide.

Who Calls a Hotline?

Not long ago I took a call from a 15-year-old boy living in a small town who

said he feels guilty about his sexual attraction to other boys and is scared to

discuss this with his parents. I ask him if there’s a school counselor or relative

he might talk to, but he says he’s too afraid to confide in anyone.

Being a teenager is hard enough, I thought, without the pressure of

keeping this kind of secret. I felt angry and saddened that this child can’t

comfortably discuss his feelings with his own parents.

I encourage him to call the Gay Community Center Youth Program in a

nearby city. In the meantime, I assured him that he could call our Hotline

anytime, that we’d be there for him.

This call was typical of the many we get from teenagers,whispering from

their parents’ homes, confiding their blossoming sexual feelings and concerns.

Our Hotline also receives calls from married men who phone from their offices,

worried about extramarital sexual encounters; gay men suffering side effects

from medications; mothers caring for a sick child or grieving for one lost to

AIDS; even health care professionals themselves confused and requiring

burnout support.

One particular morning, I’m struck by the number of single women who

turn to our hotline for help. At 10:15 a.m. a distraught young woman calls,

explaining that she had been dating someone “very charismatic,” after a two-

year period of sexual abstinence.

“At first we used condoms and I was taking the pill to avoid pregnancy,” she

says. But after her partner assured her he was HIV-negative, the couple began

having unprotected sex. A few months into the relationship, she recounts, his

behavior became “unpredictable,” until he finally admitted he was sleeping with

other women and was addicted to heroin. Now she has to withstand the

“terror” of waiting 3 months before getting an HIV antibody test. To help her

cope, I give her the names of three terapists in her area. The call lasts 43

minutes.

At 11:15 a.m. I take a call from a woman who is breathing heavily.

She says that four months earlier she’d had a brief affair with a limousine

driver, “not out of passion, but because I felt lonely. This was so totally unlike

me,” she continues. “I come from a traditional Orthodox Jewish family…”

Although they used condoms, and she has since tested negative for HIV, she

feels deeply ashamed, and has stopped seeing him. And because she has both

a persistent vaginal yeast infection and a rash on her neck, she’s convinced she

must be infected by HIV.

Although rashes, high fever, swollen lymph glands, heavy night sweats, sore

throat, or other flu-like symptoms may indicate HIV, they can just as easily

accompany the common cold or flu, or other type of infection. I encourage her

to seek medical help and counseling, but the calls ends on a down note. “I

must have it [AIDS],” she moans. I’m exasperated because it doesn’t sound

that way to me, yet I can’t get through to her. The call lasts 22 minutes.

It’s 11.38 a.m. when a well-spoken woman, who says she’s an attorney,

calls from her office, asking for the names of anonymous testing sites. At first

very businesslike, she calmly takes down all the information. I ask her why

she’s considering a test. Total silence. Then she begins to cry: “I….I can’t

talk….I’m sorry…you see, I have swollen lymph glands….[crying]….And my

doctor wants to rule out HIV…I feel overwhelmed…” Then, abruptly: “Where

can I send a donation?” She thanks me and hurries off the phone after just 3

minutes.

These were one-time callers, but, as in any epidemic, an element of panic

prevails, and our hotline also attracts an army of “chronic” or repeat callers

who are intensely fearful no matter how benign their risk, many revealing

continued misconceptions and paranoia about a disease that can be effectively

prevented. We do our best to help them, but often they’re impervious to

counseling.

Most poignant are calls we get from AIDS patients, phoning from their

hospital beds, attempting to navigate the exhausting labyrinth of insurance

and health care matters. One man, in hospice care, said he craved

companionship and missed the “good old days” when he was handsome and

healthy.

That call was a tough one for me as just the day before a close friend of

mine, Joe, who had battled HIV for 16 years, had finally succumbed. Although

at the end Joe was a mere skeleton, he was nonetheless at peace. “I’ve done

what I wanted to,” he told me on our last visit. An avid gardener, he insisted

on a final trip to his country house to see his garden one last time. For a

moment the caller’s reality and the memory of my deceased friend blurred in

my mind and I was overcome. Time for a break.

Face to Face

One of the most and unique services GMHC offers is called “A-Team

Counseling,” a one-time, in-person session that’s free and anonymous.

Recently, I was on an A-Team counselling a 26-year-old HIV-infected

mother from the Midwest. She had traveled to Manhattan by bus to find her

estranged boyfriend, who, she recounted tearfully, had kidnapped her 7-year-

old son. Disheveled, painfully thin, the woman was a disturbing sight. She’s

learned that the two had already returned home where the boyfriend was, and

the child put in his grandmother’s custory. custody of his grandmother.

Meanwhile she’d run out of money for the return trip, been refused a loan by

her family, lost her ID, gone hungry and spent two nights on the street.

Fortunately, this woman was registered at a local AIDS organization in her

town. I telephoned her caseworker and persuaded him to buy her a one-way

Greyhound bus ticket for $115.00. I also gave her subway tokens, a basket of

food, juice and coffee. Smiling shyly, she thanked me for caring.

Shaking hands good-bye with this woman was a bittersweet farewell. What

will happen to her? I wondered will her health deteriorate or improve? Will she

gain control of her life and be able to provide for her son? I’ll never know. One

thing I do know: She’d appeared with the sorrow of a difficult life in her eyes,

but when she left, she was elated at the thought of being reunited with her

child. It seems that with faith and a helping hand, almost anything is possible.

* * * * *

10 BIGGEST MISCONCEPTIONS ABOUT AIDS AND HIV

(This list would probably be most effective when presented in a vertical chart,

the misconception on the left, the correct answer on the right.)

1)The AIDS virus can be transmitted through saliva, sweat, tears, urine or feces;

also through deep kissing.

1) HIV can ONLY be transmitted through four bodily fluids: blood, semen,

vaginal secretions and breast milk–and can also be transmitted from a mother

to her child before birth, during birth, or while breast feeding. The exchange

of saliva through kissing is no-risk, unless the saliva has blood in it and both

you and your partner are bleeding in the mouth simultaneously.

2) HIV may also be transmitted through casual contact with an infected person.

2) You can’t get infected from toilet seats, phones or water fountains. The virus

can’t be transmitted in the air through sneezing or coughing. You can’t get

HIV from sharing utensils or food or from touching, or hugging. HIV dies after

being exposed to the air. Therefore, touching dried blood on a shaving blade, a

toothbrush or a bathroom counter top is no risk. In any case, unbroken skin is

impermeable, like a rubber raincoat, and cannot absorb the virus whether it’s

alive or dead.

Blood transfusions and medical procedures in the U.S. are safe. Giving blood is

completely risk-free. The chance of getting HIV from dentists or other health

care providers is too low even to measure.You can’t get it from mosquitoes or

other insect or animal bites.

3) Oral sex is just as risky as vaginal or anal intercourse.

3) Although not 100% risk-free, oral sex is considered a low-risk

activity,except if: you have bleeding gums, recent dental work, open sores such

as a herpes lesion, any cut, blister, or burn in the mouth, or if you’ve just

brushed or flossed your teeth. Also, oral sex with an infected woman is riskier

if she is having her period, since menstrual blood can contain HIV. Overall,

latex barriers, (such as condoms or dental dams) used during oral sex reduce

the  transmission  of not just HIV, but other sexual transmitted diseases.

4) Animal skin, latex and polyurethane condoms are all equally effective in

preventing HIV infection and you can use ANY lubrication on the condom

desired.

4)Only latex or polyurethane condoms may be used, as HIV can pass through

an animal skin condom. With latex condoms, only water-based lubricants–like

K-Y jelly or H-R jelly–may be used. No lubricants with oil, alcohol, or grease

are safe.Petroleum jelly,Vaseline, Crisco, mineral oil, baby oil, massage oil,

butter and most hand creams can weaken the condom and cause it to split.

However, with polyurethane condoms, petroleum-based lubricants can be

used.

5) Women have to rely on men using condoms during intercourse to protect

themselves against HIV.

5) Women may employ the “female condom,” a plastic sheath that can be

inserted in their vaginas and used for protection against HIV. It can be inserted

up to 8 hours before sex, has rings at both ends to hold it in place and can be

lubricated with oil-based lubricants that stay wet longer. In addition, women

can carry conventional condoms for their male partners’ use.

6) If a woman is HIV-positive, her offspring will automatically be born infected

with HIV.

6) With no medical treatment taken, about 25% of HIV-positive women will

give birth to infants who are also infected. However, the use of anti-HIV

medications has resulted in a significant decrease of mother-to-child

 transmission  of HIV in utero and during delivery to less than 5%. (NYT 10/19/

99].

7) AIDS is fundamentally a gay disease contracted by white males.

7) Recent data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

indicate that young gay Hispanic and African-American men and heterosexual

women are the fastest growing segment of the population being infected with

HIV. Women now account for 43% of all HIV infected people over age 15. [NYT

11/24/98] African-American and Hispanic women account for more than 76%

of AIDS cases among women in the U.S.

8) Heterosexual men are not really at risk for contracting HIV, even if they

don’t use condoms.

8) The inside opening of the penis is composed of highly-absorbent, sponge-

like mucous membrane tissues, which can provide a route for HIV-infected

vaginal secretions or blood to enter the bloodstream. Proper condom use

protects men from infection.

9) The AIDS epidemic is largely over because new AIDS medications like

protease inhibitors and others have turned AIDS into a chronic, not a terminal

disease.

9) In the U.S., AIDS is the fifth leading cause of death for people 25-44 years

old. Roughly half of all those infected with HIV in the U.S. are not receiving any

medications or medical care. AIDS now kills more people worldwide than any

other infection, including malaria and tuberculosis.[NYT 11/24/98] In 1998

alone, 2.5 million people died of AIDS worldwide. 13.9 million people have

died since the virus was discovered in 1981.

10) If you think you’ve been exposed to HIV through unprotected sex, you can

take an HIV antibody test 2 weeks later and get an accurate result.

10) The standard “window” or waiting period remains a full 3 months. However,

because the widely-used HIV antibody tests (The ELISA and Western Blot) have

become so sensitive, about 95% of people will procure an accurate result 4-6

weeks after a possible exposure to the virus.

* * * *

[Note:The information stated above was reviewed for medical accuracy by Dr.

Todd J. Yancey, an infectious disease specialist practicing in New York City and

affiliated with New York Presbyterian Hospital, NY, Cornell Campus.]

THE CHILD LIFE PROGRAM

“Mommy takes a lot of medicine and Mommy’s really tired sometimes and she

can’t take you to the park as much as she used to. It’s not that I don’t love

you…and that I don’t want to…but Uncle Jack’s going to take you to the park

today.” –A mother living with AIDS, a client at GMHC, talking to her 6-year-

old son.

In New York City alone, 28,000 children have been orphaned by AIDS since the

epidemic began [NYT 12/13/98]

GMHC’s unique Child Life Program serves HIV-infected parents and their

children–who may, or may not, be infected with the virus. “We help families

strengthen their ability to cope, relieve the pressure of parenting with support

services, and teach parents how to talk to their kids,” says Child Life Program

Coordinator Alison Ferst. “Unfortunately, should a parent or child be sick

enough to be facing death, we also help them walk through it with grace and

dignity—as opposed to feeling alone, isolated and frightened.

“We also encourage sick parents to make stable legal plans for their

children who may be left behind,” adds Ferst, “and to have disclosure

conversations with the children in advance, so you don’t have a child standing

at her mother’s funeral, not sure where she’s going next.”

When an HIV-infected Mom arrives at GMHC to have lunch, attend a support

group, consult with a lawyer, or access the acupuncture clinic, she can leave

her children in a spacious playroom, decorated with fanciful murals and a giant

tree hand-painted by the famed children’s story writer and illustrator, Maurice

Sendak, who donated his art. [see photos] The program provides: child-

sitting, nutrition services, a food pantry, art and magic classes, and

recreational trips–church picnics, seasonal apple-pumpkin picking,

amusement parks, zoos, museums, beaches. Also: homework help sessions,

holiday parties, hospital visits, summer sports and weekly support groups for

HIV- positive parents and their HIV-negative children.

This unique program also features: Cooking classes for kids who sometimes

prepare meals for sick parents; Pediatric Buddies, GMHC adult volunteers who

play with sick children and also assist with family chores; Fun With Feelings

Support Group, Friday Evening Family Time, Birthday parties, and a Holiday Gift

Drive.

“Children infected or affected by AIDS,” concludes Ferst, “want to be like

other kids: They want to play with their friends, want to know that someone

will always take care of them, want to know they’re not alone, and often

wonder if it’s their fault when Mom or Dad gets sick.” These children need a

helping hand and any of us can provide one.

Fax Machines Reviews

In the field of telecommunications, the word fax (facsimile) refers to the act of transmitting copies over a telephone network. This system enjoys a distinct advantage because the transfer is immediate. This machine consists of a modem and an image scanner. Sometimes, the equipment is equipped with printers and photo-copiers. Although these machines have existed since the last century, they began to gain popularity in the last two decades due to their economic affordability.

Digital fax machines gained popularity in Japan. In recent years, the internet has made inroads into the field of telecommunications but the machines have continued to remain a popular choice, even in the corporate world,for the transfer of documents. Fax servers have replaced the old fax machines. These can receive faxes and transmit the information over the internet to the user. There are two kinds of fax machines.

The analog machines used earlier, are no longer in vogue. Digital machines have replaced them. The digital machines have two groups, Group three and group four. The machines are classified on the basis of the time they take to transmit a document. There are also different classes of this machines and different transmission rates. These machines use a variety of modulation methods to transmit data. It use two different methods of compression to reduce the amount of data that needs to be transmitted between two machines. These methods are Modified Huffmann and Modified Read. In the Modified Huffmann method each word is scanned and compressed independently. The amount of white space is also reduced considerably. This helps in minimising the time taken for transmission. The Modified Read Method uses a slightly different method of compression.

The first line is scanned using the MH method. The second line is scanned and the differences are determined. These differences are transmitted after a process of encoding. This method pre-supposes that these differences are minimal. The Matsushita White Line Skip is another method of compression but it can be used only on Panasonic machines.

Most of the machines that are used currently belong to the Group Three. Documents are scanned in black and white. Thermal printers that were hitherto used have given way to a generation of this machines. Thermal transfer printers,laser printers and ink-jet printers are some of these machines. Thermal fax papers, however, do not possess legal validity as the ink used in these papers is not indelible.

Fax machines come now in compact sizes and are very portable. They are also all-in-one machines that lend themselves to official and personal use, that can print, scan and fax. These machines have become versatile and they are invaluable in any corporate setting or a business house.

Spyware, Viruses, Malware, Worms, Trojan Horses, and Adware: Symptoms, Solutions, and Prevention

Virus:

A Virus or Computer Virus is a self-replicating program or piece of script or code that make copies of itself and then either attaches itself to an existing file on the infected system or store copies of itself on the system with innocuous sounding names like ‘repair tool’.

The virus is limited to spread itself only by either being transmitted or sent by an unwitting user or carried on a portable storage medium from one system to another. However, if a virus gets embedded somewhere on a network drive then anyone who opens or clicks on the infected document or file can end up getting infected as well.

Spyware:

Spyware is software that gathers information about a users Internet habits, browsing patterns, email passwords, usernames and even credit card information, in essence, ‘spying’ on the hapless user. This type of software usually gets installed without the knowledge of the user and can transmit the collected data to a third party over the Internet secretly as well.

Malware:

Malware can refer to any number of malicious forms of software or code that has been intentionally designed to perform one or more of the following malicious acts:

> Infiltrate a users computer system without their consent.

> Gather sensitive personal information such as credit card numbers, social security numbers, birth dates, or system passwords.

> Create back doors or remote entry points to allow hackers access to the system.

> The destruction of critical data and/or corruption of system files.

Malware is a general term and is commonly used to include, Viruses, Worms, Spyware, Trojan Horses, and some forms of Adware. The actual intention of malware can vary but by definition it is any software that is destructive by nature. Because the term Malware is so broad it is hard to cite one specific source for the most infections.

Worm:

A Worm or Computer Worm is a self-replicating piece of computer code that uses a computer network to spread copies of itself to the other nodes on the network. Unlike the Virus a Worm can accomplish this without any intervention or help from the user. Also unlike a Computer Virus the Worm does not have to attach itself to an existing computer program or file.

Many times a Worm will also be used to carry a ‘payload’. The ‘payload’ is code that is designed to perform some specific function. In some cases the payload allows the Worm to send documents through the email accounts of the infected system attaching itself and its payload to the email as an attachment. When the unsuspecting recipient of the email opens the attachment the process starts again.

Trojan Horse:

A Trojan or Trojan Horse Virus is a program that usually gets downloaded installed and executed on a computer system which then appears to be performing some useful function but is unknowingly allowing unauthorized access to the user’s computer system at the same time.

Hackers use Trojans to gain access to a user’s computer remotely and then perform any number of malicious activities. These nefarious activities can include but certainly are not limited to:

> Data Theft.

> Keystroke Logging.

> Downloading or Uploading Files.

> Viewing the Victims Screen.

> Crashing the Users System.

Adware:

Adware is advertiser supported software that displays, plays or downloads advertisements either onto the computer desktop or into the computers web browser as a condition of the software installation. Most Adware is free to use as long as you don’t mind annoying pop-up windows appearing at random intervals advertising some product or another. I have seen some Adware that opened a new window about every 1 to 2 minutes, making it nearly impossible to use the system at all until the software had to be removed.

Additionally, Adware will almost always be collecting data about your Internet habits and browsing behavior to tailor ads specifically to best match the data recovered. In that respect it is actually very similar to many types of Spyware. In most cases Adware is simply a way to place advertisements in the face of the user although it’s a fine line before you could also classify it as Spyware.

With Adware however, in some cases you may actually be given a chance to review and choose whether or not to accept the terms and conditions associated with the software before installing it.

IT WOULD BE ADVISABLE TO READ THESE TERMS VERY CAREFULLY BEFORE CHOOSING TO ACCEPT.

Symptoms of Infection:

> Very sluggish computer performance.

> Random system lockups or crashes.

> Browser redirection – you are taken to websites you were not searching for while browsing the Internet.

> Excessive number of popup windows appearing at random while surfing the Internet.

> You are informed that your system has ‘hundreds’ of active infections and you are redirected to a website that insists you pay for and download their specific software package to remove the infections.

Solution:

There are many good anti-virus / anti-spyware products on the market designed to detect and remove these types of infections. McAfee and Kapersky are good but AVG and Avast! have similar products and offer a free downloadable version. Be sure to complete a ‘Full’ system scan and quarantine and remove all active infections. Configure your anti-virus software to perform ‘active’ scanning or real-time system monitoring.

Prevention:

> Do not install software you have downloaded from the Internet unless it has come from a known, reliable source.

> Use caution if using file sharing platforms such as LimeWire or torrent sites to download files.

> Do not open any email attachments from unknown sources.

> Use a good anti-virus/anti-spyware application and scan your system at least weekly. Be sure your anti-virus software is totally up to date with the latest virus definitions.

> For Windows users: Be sure to visit the Microsoft update site and download all the latest Microsoft security patches.

The Search for the Best Treatment for Common Cold Symptoms

Opinions vary about the best treatment for common cold symptoms. Zinc common cold remedies are much in the news, but some controversy surrounds their use.

Over the counter products, vitamin supplements and herbal remedies are really the only options a person has for treating a cold. Because colds are caused by viruses, there are no effective prescription medications and a visit to the doctor is usually unnecessary, unless a secondary bacterial infection, such as a sinus or ear infection occurs. Antibiotics are not effective for either preventing or treating a cold. Over-use of antibiotics has led to the development of more resistant strains of bacteria.

According to many experts, the best treatment for common cold symptoms is to get plenty of rest and drink lots of fluids. Probably, because so many people have a busy lifestyle, pharmaceutical companies keep coming up with products like zinc common cold remedies and other multi-symptom cold relievers. Advertising for these products typically suggests that these can help you “get on with your life”. But many of these products have unwanted side effects. Some can be relatively serious, considering that cold symptoms are typically gone in a week or so.

Some people who have used a zinc common cold nasal spray or gel have lost their sense of smell. One company was sued and settled out of court without admitting fault. At least two different clinical studies have confirmed that these zinc common cold remedies effectively reduce the duration of symptoms, but other studies confirm that these preparations can cause a permanent loss of the sense of smell. In fact, one study performed by the George Eby Research Group in Austin, Texas concludes that “it is unethical to introduce any potentially permanent anosmia-inducing agent such as zinc or other heavy metals into the interior of the nose in a manner that could result in contact with the olfactory region to treat a temporary discomfort such as a common cold or allergy.” The term anosmia means loss of sense of smell.

Several other studies confirm that when zinc common cold remedies come into contact with the lining of the nose, permanent loss of the sense of smell can occur. Manufactures of these products claim that they may be the best treatment for common cold available and can reduce the duration of cold symptoms to as little as two days. But, in fact, many people recover from a common cold in a couple of days, anyway. Some viral infections last longer in some people and symptoms may last as long as two weeks, but the study in Texas showed that the zinc common cold remedies did not significantly reduce the duration of common cold symptoms. The majority of volunteers had recovered within a week, whether they were given the zinc common cold remedies or a placebo.

Because some people recover from symptoms so quickly, without treatment, it has been difficult for researchers to determine the best treatment for common cold symptoms. Some people are more susceptible to infection with cold viruses than others. A recent study indicates that asthma sufferers, who typically have more than their fair share of colds, produce less anti-viral proteins than normal. Supporting the belief that efforts to improve immune system function can be the best treatment for common cold symptoms, as well as the best prevention.

Vitamin C supplementation is considered, by some, to be the best treatment for common cold symptoms, but opinions vary. Some studies have shown that it is an effective preventative; others have shown it to be less effective. Again the difference in the results of these studies is probably related to the difference in people. Injecting the rhinovirus directly into the nose causes an infection in 95% of people, but only 75% of them develop any symptoms at all. If you decide to increase your vitamin C intake and you develop diarrhea, then you are getting too much vitamin C and should reduce the daily dosage.

Many herbalists still recommend Echinacea as the best treatment for common cold symptoms. Some still recommend it as a preventative, but clinical studies have shown that taking the herb for extended periods of time can be toxic to the liver. It was used traditionally by Native Americans as a treatment, not a preventative. For occasional use Echinacea appears to be safe, but there are safer herbs.

Andrographis paniculata, an herb used in traditional Asian medicine, may be the best treatment for common cold symptoms and an effective preventative. In one study, a group of volunteers were given the herb or a placebo and results showed that those who were given the herb were less likely to become infected with influenza viruses; these are some of the viruses that can cause common cold symptoms. In those people who took the herb and did develop the flu, symptoms were less severe and complications, such as pneumonia, did not develop. Andrographis paniculata has been shown to have no toxic effects on animals, even when used in large amounts.

The complications that are associated with zinc common cold nasal sprays or gels are not associated with dietary supplements of zinc. And, zinc is important to proper immune system function and overall good health. For more information about natural products that are believed to be the best protection from and the best treatment for common cold symptoms, visit www.immune-system-booster-guide.com.

The Avian Plight

In 1997, the world’s attention was caught by an alarming passage of Avian influenza from birds to humans in Hongkong. All chickens and ducks were killed upon the order of the Hongkong government to contain the spread of the deadly H5N1 virus.

Avian influenza or more commonly called as bird flu is an infection caused by avian (bird) influenza (flu) viruses. All birds naturally have these influenza viruses in their bodies. Wild birds have these viruses in their intestines but their bodies do not get infected or damaged by them. When passed on domesticated birds, avian influenza can cause sickness and death. Chickens, ducks, and turkeys are mostly hit by the   transmission  of avian flu among birds. Infected domesticated birds can pass on the virus to humans when they are eaten or consumed. *Migratory birds* infected with avian flu also become agents of viruses’ transfer from one place to another.

H5N1 carrier birds pass on the virus to other birds through their saliva, nasal excretions, and feces. Birds get infected when they come in contact with these contaminated excretions even by just staying on a surface or ground where virus carriers have stayed. Cages, dirts, water, feeds, infected waterfowl or other poultries that have been exposed to the virus are the common sources of infection among domesticated birds.

Two forms of bird flu exist among domesticated poultries infected with avian influenza viruses. The low pathogenic form is almost invisible and undetected for it causes only very mild symptoms that can be mistaken as non-avian flu effects. Manifestations of low pathogenic avian flu infection include low egg production or ruffled feathers. The second form of avian flu is the high pathogenic avian flu disease. This form leads to multiple organ failures and damages among infected birds. About 90 to 100 percent of birds infected with this form die within two days upon contamination. The spread of this form of avian flu is more rapid among birds in flocks.

Albeit basically a matter among birds, humans are also susceptible to bird flu or avian flu infection. The first known cases of humans getting infected with bird flu happened in Hongkong in 1997. 18 people were recorded to have acquired respiratory illnesses after having contacted infected surfaces from poultry farms, the infection claimed six lives.

The virus’ passage to humans that happened in Hongkong caused a global alarm. Health institutions worldwide raised concerns that the avian flu might be as damaging as the pandemic of flu that claimed about 20 million lives back in 1918. Reasonable enough, the fear and alarm are worth noting. What is essentially fearful is the idea that humans can be infected and actually die from a virus that is basically existing among birds only. The premise the Hongkong incident set is that the virus is mutating into something deadly for humans.

As of 2005, worldwide coordinated statistics recorded a number of 130 people having been infected of avian flu of which 67 have already died. In recent years, cases of human infection have been high in Asian countries. The World Health Organization believes that Asia is at higher risks since people live in close distance with domesticated birds like chicken and ducks. Animal domestication and poultry raising are common among many Asian countries who are agricultural by nature. What worries many is the common fact that humans have little or even a lack of immunity to the virus known to be infecting only (until the 1997 Hongkong incident) the birds.

An even higher cause of alarm has been found in recent studies on the H5N1 virus. Recent researches have shown that H5N1 strains have become more deadly among chickens and mice. This mutation is also found to be making cats or feline susceptible to the infection. H5N1 is also found to be resistant to some of the drugs used to treat flu (such as amantadine). New strains of the virus are also said to be possibly emerging especially in Asian countries.

What is now being focused on by scientists and health experts around the world is the prevention of human-to-human  transmission  which is believed to be the possible case that happened in Thailand in 2004. If it becomes widespread, human-to-human  transmission  is believed to be harder to contain that bird-to-human  transmission . Experts say that the virus’ continual change will make it hard for the human body to naturally develop immunity against the infection. The H5N1 virus is found to be changing over time through the changes happening in their structure called antigenic drift and antigenic shift. This continual change of the virus disables the immune system to respond accordingly whenever the flu virus enters the body. The only possible solution seen by experts is for infection-prone people to have a yearly immunization with up-to-date anti avian virus strains. But the big problem is, until now there is no medical treatment available to combat the H5N1 virus, making the yearly immunization update a far-fetched option.

Alcohol Education

A multi-billion industry across the world, the sale and marketing of alcohol is a very lucrative one and when enjoyed in moderation and in the right setting, it can be a very enjoyable lubricant to social interaction. However, like anything else in life it is the excess usage and consumption of alcohol that causes the problems of which their severity is only matched by their number.

Part of the problem with trying to raise education and public awareness about the dangers of excessive alcohol consumption is that we live in a very alcohol dominated society and so trying to get people to give up is no easy task. This is oftentimes a direct consequence of an anxiety about being alienated from their peer group.

However, the sheer volume of evidence that is available which clearly demonstrates the very dangerous nature of alcohol is too high and too extensive to casually sweep aside.

Alcohol has a significantly detrimental impact on our overall sexual health and wellbeing on a variety of different levels. First, it reduces our fertility which makes it all the more difficult to conceive a child. In addition, alcohol can also impair a man’s ability to obtain an erection and this impotence can be long term.

The fact that alcohol impairs our judgment and reduces the inhibitions we have is also of grave concern and this is because people will be more likely to find themselves in a situation of sleeping with a person that they may not have otherwise done. Furthermore, there is also the risk that they people who are under the influence of alcohol will not be as cautious as they should be when it comes to ensuring that they have some degree of protection when it comes to sexual intercourse.

This raises the risks of the person acquiring sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) such as HIV, syphilis, chlamydia and genital warts to name but a few. It is important to note that the potential possibility of an unwanted pregnancy, along with all the heartache and emotional disturbance that will undoubtedly bring, must also be weighed in the equation.

Studies have proven that people who habitually consume higher than the recommended safe limits of alcohol will place themselves at a greater degree of risk for the contraction of a stroke. A stroke is the process whereby a clot in the bloodstream takes place in the “pipes” of the body, the arteries. It can also arise where a blood vessel ruptures in the brain.

The reason that alcohol makes this grim reality even more so is due to the fact that it increases the dehydration of the body which in turn, renders the blood flowing around the body, much more viscous and thick. Because the blood is thicker in its nature, this means that is also more sticky which makes it more likely that a clot will form.

By virtue of the fact that alcohol will raise the blood pressure of the body, this also serves to increase the risk of a stroke.

Transmission Repair Shop – Sneaky Tactics

I hate to say this but transmission repair shops employ some of the most dishonest practices in the automotive industry. They are able to get away with this for two reasons.

The first reason is for every 50 general automotive mechanic shops there are may be five transmission shops. So supply and demand naturally hires the prices these companies can charge. This is nothing new but some of these transmission companies get outrageous.

Second, unless you are a a specialist in this field you most likely know nothing about transmissions. Any technician can tell you anything and you have no verifiable way of double checking.

Here are some common scams in the transmission repair industry and some common mistakes that customers make:

We need a new transmission a shop will give usually give you two options. They can either install a brand-new transmission, which will cost a lot, or they can install a rebuilt transmission, which will still cost a lot but possibly be half the cost.

You have to understand the dangers in getting a rebuilt transmission. There is a good possibility that these will not be as good as a brand-new transmission or may not last as long. If you’re dealing with a reputable shop who has capable employees they can rebuild a long-lasting transmission.

They should also factor work up with some type of warranty. Do not get a rebuilt transmission without a decent warranty of some type. Make sure you get it in writing. There have been many shops who have sold customers rebuild transmissions and they failed within a matter of days or weeks.

Those same customers, of course being irate, came back to the shop only to find that that particular shop would not honor its “verbal” or “implied” guarantee. If you do however agree to a rebuilt transmission please do not come crying to the transmission repair shop when after the warranty you have problems again. He did go the cheapest route and you must understand that it comes with inherent risks.

Beware of transmission shops that have all sorts of low cost transmission maintenance services and specials to get in. Many of the automotive companies or what I like to call “commission fee based shops.” The shops pay their employees a small hourly wage but make it so they receive a percentage of their total gross sales.

Avoid these companies at all costs! These transmission repair shops have a system where they trick volumes of people every single day into their place of business with the lower at cheap rates and then convince them into buying services and parts they do not need.

This practice has become standard among many of the big box national chains and quite recently has been adopted by many of the small local ones. If you feel like you’re being pressured into buying something you feel you may not need, please, get a second opinion.

I have already touched a little upon the subject but I need to bring up the matter of warranties again. Every warranty and every guarantee needs to be in writing. Do not any transmission repair facility just tell you they back up all their work.

Do not just let them tell you you can bring your car back, and they will fix it for free, if within a couple weeks or months you experience the same problems they were supposed to fix. Every agreement should be in writing including all the terms and conditions.

And speaking of terms and conditions this brings us to the most common scam that most transmission repair facilities do. It is sad that many of these companies resort to what I’m about to say but all you have to do is look online and you will hear hundreds of horror stories.

You’re having transmission problems. You go to a local transmission repair shop and get an estimate. The parts and labor cost $1200. It seems fair see make arrangements to leave your vehicle with them for several days.

Within one day you get a call from the transmission shop. They proceed to tell you that the price is going to be more than what was on the estimate. The excuses are more numerous than the sands found on the beach. It could be any excuse from the parts costing more than expected to them not being aware of the certain problem when they first gave you the estimate.

So the result is that the price that was “$1200” is now “$3500.”

Now your typical person in this position has two options at this point. He can bite the bullet and pay the $3500, in effect paying $1800 more than what was agreed upon, or he can pick his car up.

Keep in mind that the cars is most likely already torn apart at this point. Here is where shops get even worse. In order for you to pick your car up the transmission shop is still going to charge you a fee for putting your car back together, storage, towing, and trust me they will find other miscellaneous charges to add upon that.

So you end up getting the work done, but in the process getting ripped off, or you’re left with the same broken car but you paid 500 bucks just to be able to pick it back up from a shop then attempted to screw you (and they did). It’s a no-win.

This is why you should only do business with reputable transmission repair shops. How do you know if the shop is reputable? In this day and age where honesty and honor are as common as black-and-white televisions you must do your homework.

Ask family, friends, coworkers, and acquaintances for recommendations. The good transmission repair shops are out there. You just have to find them among the many bad ones.

Once you get a recommendation from someone you know look the shop up on the Better Business Bureau, local websites where people post reviews, and forums. Ask a transmission shop for customer references.

If they are in fact reputable they should be able to produce one or two happy customers you can talk to. A little due diligence goes a long way because once they have your car you are at their mercy.

Hopefully this article will have giving you insight about the tricks transmission repair shops employ to make a quick buck and hopefully you will be able to take this information and benefit from it.