Declaring energy independence for a brighter future

Declaring%20energy%20independence It is time to make history by changing history. For more than 40 years – and through eight presidents – the United States has been dependent on foreign oil to power the nation. Today, energy independence is a realistic goal, one founded on American innovation, technology and hard work.  
The Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries – OPEC – has a stranglehold on the United States’ fuel supply. In fact, the United States spends more than $1 million per minute on foreign oil – adding up to more than $450 billion per year, making this the largest wealth transfer in history. This situation is not only unsustainable; it leaves the U.S. indebted to the 12 OPEC member nations, including Iran, Saudi Arabia and Venezuela. 
For the first time in decades, the United States has the resources for energy independence. The discovery of abundant reserves of shale-based oil and natural gas, combined with new drilling technology needed to produce those resources, has given the United States a long-term source of homegrown energy. The U.S. has enough oil and natural gas to power 65 million cars for 60 years and heat 60 million households for 160 years, according to the American Petroleum Institute (API). By 2030, 100 percent of U.S. liquid fuel needs could be met by resources found in North America.  
Energy independence is within reach, and its benefits extend beyond enhanced national security. Increasing domestic oil and natural gas production does the following:
* Creates jobs: Oil and natural gas companies currently support 9.2 million U.S. jobs and are among the nation’s largest employers, according to API. Increasing domestic oil and natural gas development could create more than 1.4 million additional jobs. These jobs are both direct – energy company employees – and indirect – vendors and others who support the energy industry. The increase in domestic oil and natural gas development boosts other industries as well, including steel and manufacturing. 
Declaring%20energy%20independence* Revitalizes communities: In 2010, the industry contributed $476 billion in direct support to a struggling economy. Domestic oil and natural gas are produced across the country, and wherever drilling takes place, local residents benefit from royalty payments and good-paying jobs. In fact, in 2010 oil and natural gas companies paid more than $176 billion in wages and benefits and payments to oil and natural gas leaseholders. The oil and natural gas industry also provides an influx of tax dollars, paying $86 million per day to the federal government. County and state taxes paid by energy companies contribute to schools, roads and infrastructures.
* Promotes a healthier environment: Domestic energy – particularly natural gas – offers a cleaner energy future by helping reduce air pollution in communities around the country. As an electricity source and a viable transportation fuel, natural gas emits fewer pollutants and no mercury, according to the Energy Information Administration. 
Energy independence is no longer campaign rhetoric; it is reality. If you support fueling our country from within, declare your energy independence at 

Courtesy of ARA

How To Design Posters With The Help Of Adobe Photoshop

How%20To%20Design%20Posters%20With%20The%20Help%20Of%20Adobe%20PhotoshopFor expert artist and designers, the exciting thing about utilizing personal computer sets is that most of these individuals can now combine the technology with the traditional art without compromising others aspects. Utilizing a computer program such as the Adobe Photoshop will now allow you to do the same things that would have done traditional by some people with a pencil and paper, however, much faster and with less waste materials. Most designers and even you can now redraw and get rid of illustrations and images with the aid of this advanced computer technology, even in the last phase of the design process, without having to get more pencils and papers.

This goes for all amateur and professional designers like you, you and all others that are more often than not making business marketing materials such as stickers, postcards and especially posters can now make use of the steps that is printed in this article for you to cut down on printing cost and especially on waste materials.

You will also accomplish plenty of time when it comes to setting up something errors with the aid of these programs. To further improve your know how about these things, below are some of the fundamental steps that you can consider every time you are designing your print materials with the aid of the Adobe Photoshop.

The sketching in Photoshop — most of the professional designers usually believes that the process of sketching is similar when it comes to traditional and digital art. The palette graphics of this program almost replicates the feeling of the drawing on paper materials. However, the drawing process in this program is not really as fast as the drawing process in paper materials. On the other side of the working sheet of this given program, you can make effects such as the halftones that cannot be drawn with the use of pencils and papers.

Preparing layers — after you have finished with the sketching process, it is now the time for you to convert all the images in your print materials into sepia tones before you work on the color elements. The process of converting the images into sepia tones is a very easy task that you can do on your own. After that, you can utilize the sliders to colorize the lines into yellow or some other colors that you want. In sepia, the sketch lines usually yield halftones that are subtle, which makes it easier for you to view the image but retain its given form while in the coloring process.

Working with the lower layer — always select a dominant dark type color that the secondary aspect can relate to without losing or decreasing the contrast in your print materials. It is a must for you to do this process so that you will not be lost in the details of all the given colors and images that is floating around your print materials.

Working with the top layer — finally, the top layer is usually where you can work with the lines of the drawing in your poster printing by adjusting, refining and correcting them. This is also where you can work with the lighter colors to aid you smooth out uneven shapes. Once you are done coloring your poster design, the top layer is also, where you can get rid of the lines that will just negatively affect your print materials functionality.

Courtesy of ARA

Five ways to invest in gold

Five%20ways%20to%20invest%20in%20gold In the dark about how to invest in gold? Despite gold’s increasing value and popularity, many folks don’t know where to get started.
If that includes you, you’re not alone. A recent survey shows that nearly half of U.S. investors don’t believe they’re knowledgeable enough about the precious metal to make a decision about adding gold to their portfolios. The World Gold Council highlights these five options to get you started: 
1. Gold Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)
Since 2004, U.S. investors have been able to buy Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) backed by physical gold through their brokerage accounts on a regulated stock exchange, just like a share of a company’s stock. Ownership of gold ETF shares provides investors with a vehicle that reflects the performance of the price of gold bullion, less expenses of the ETF.  With these gold ETFs, individuals do not need to physically store gold, so no need for a safe or safety deposit box. Different types of gold ETFs are available on the market but not all are 100 percent backed by physical gold, so read the prospectus carefully and ask your financial adviser to help you select the one that best suits your needs. 
2. Gold mining stocks
With this option, you are investing in a gold-mining company, rather than gold bullion. Depending on the company, you may be able to generate income from dividends. While the value of gold stocks has historically been closely tied to the price of gold itself, other factors can determine the value of the individual companies. More than 300 gold-mining companies are listed and publicly traded in the U.S. 
3. Gold Accumulation Plans (GAPs) 
Similar to a conventional accumulation plan, GAPs allow investors to set aside a fixed amount of money every month in order to purchase gold on various days. This cost averaging cushions investors from short-term variations in the price of gold. When the account closes, investors could have one or more of the following alternatives: receiving bullion bars or jewelry or simply selling the gold for cash.
4. Gold bars
Gold bars range in size from just a few grams to the 400 ounce London Good Delivery bars most people have only seen in the movies. There are many different refineries that produce gold bars and most companies that sell gold will offer a variety of sizes to suit various budgets.  
5. Gold coins
Issued by governments around the world, gold bullion coins are a popular choice for investors. Their value is primarily based on their fine gold content. Bullion coins differ from numismatic or collectable coins, which are valued on rarity, design and finish rather than their gold content. Many mints will offer “proof” versions of the bullion coins at a premium to the gold content for collectors and those looking for an heirloom gift for milestone celebrations such as a birthday or wedding. American Eagle coins are a common form of bullion coin in the U.S. and other popular bullion coins that are widely available include the Gold American Buffalo, Canadian Maple Leaf, South African Kruggerrand and Chinese Panda and Austrian Philharmonic.
Where to buy: Both bullion coins and gold bars may be purchased online or by phone from companies that specialize in precious metals.
“There are a number of ways to invest in gold and each can play its own role in your portfolio. Owning an ETF, bars or coins and mining shares may be viewed as complementary investments,” says Juan Carlos Artigas, Global Head of Investment Research at the World Gold Council.
The World Gold Council ( provides useful information on why, how and where to invest in gold.
The information provided is for educational purposes only. Consult your financial advisor before making any investment decisions.

Courtesy of ARA

Hispanic business leaders need to establish a succession plan

Hispanic%20business%20leaders%20need%20to%20establish%20a%20succession%20planStarting a business is no small endeavor, with financial, organizational and marketing challenges thrown at entrepreneurs from the get-go. Those challenges can be even greater for Hispanic business owners who often face a lack of necessary resources.
The number of U.S. businesses owned by Hispanics increased to 2.3 million between 2002 and 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. A majority of Hispanic business people report that they started their business to be their own boss and gain control of their lives and time, according to “Business Owner Perspectives: 2011 Insights in an Uncertain Economy,” a survey conducted by GfK Custom Research North America for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company (MassMutual). And 70 percent of these business owners plan to pass their business on to a spouse or a child.
“Latino business owners report to a higher degree than other business owners that providing for their families is the strongest drive for going into business,” says Chris Mendoza, assistant vice president of multicultural market development at MassMutual. “Also, Hispanics’ definition of family is quite broad, meaning they have more people counting on them. As a result, three-quarters of Hispanic business owners actually know that they want to transition their businesses to a family member; they just need to understand the advantages of having a formal succession plan.”
Here are some tips for business owners to smoothly hand over the reins of business to a successor.
1. Develop clear guidelines to becoming a leader of the business.
You may have communicated with your intended successor your intention of passing on the business one day. But by establishing an employment policy with specific guidelines, outlines for family member involvement and how the next leader will be selected, you can give everyone at the table a clear explanation of what is expected.
2. Determine the leadership needs of the business.
Use a strategic business planning process identifying the leadership needs of your business set out five to 10 years ahead. This plan should constantly evolve as the business grows and changes. It also gives you a backdrop of finding a successor who fits the leadership needs of the business and brings an essential objectivity to the grooming and selection of future leaders of the business.
3. Establish a successor development plan.
Use your successor development plan to assess the successor’s current skills and interests, as well as what additional experience, education and professional development must be achieved, with a specified timeframe and resources made available to help the successor achieve them. Pull the additional experience, education and professional development requirements from the future leadership needs of the business to help ensure the person and the business will be a match when you’re ready to hand over the reins.
4. Coordinate a succession plan and successor development with key managers.
Incorporate company managers into the strategic planning and successor development plan. You can have them participate as needed in the process, but make sure they fully understand their position during the transition process, and how it will impact them. It is important to have their support for the future leadership to ensure a seamless transition. You may need to include a conversation about the rigorous process, explaining that successor development and selection, not just nepotism, determines who leads the company.
5. Use a mentoring plan.
Bring in a mentor from outside of the business who can help coach, advise and educate your successor. This mentor should be familiar with your industry but not involved in the company or with a competitor. You can often find professional career coaches, advisory groups and professional groups to help fill this mentorship position.
Taking the time to establish a succession plan, even if you feel overwhelmed by the current day-to-day operations of the business, is essential to helping safeguard both your and your successor’s future when the time for business leadership transition takes place.

Courtesy of ARA

Creating the perfect master suite retreat

master The master bedroom is the ideal place to take refuge from reality – and when it comes to creating the perfect bedroom and bath, casual and comfortable retreats are more appealing than formal, model-home-like spaces. The right color palettes, furnishings and fixtures can transform a master suite into a tranquil escape from the stresses and headaches of the day.

But blissful hideaways are not limited to only one style and feel. Relaxation can come in a number of ways – it simply depends on the eye of the beholder. Here are some ideas and inspiration to create a serene master suite, no matter your definition of relaxing.

Bathing bliss

Before choosing a theme or color palette for the bedroom, focus your attention on the bath. This functional room deserves to be updated with elegant and understated features in order to create a haven from the stresses of everyday life. After all, a true master suite escape has the ideal spa-inspired bathroom.

To achieve a charming appearance with soft comforts, start by styling the room with fixtures and accessories that exude a clean style, like the Voss collection from Moen. Voss delivers uncomplicated glamour throughout the entire bath. With a full range of bath fixtures, including rain showers, faucets and coordinated accessories, your master bath can be transformed into a personal sanctuary that will last for years to come.

“While American bathrooms are decreasing in size, they’re actually increasing in spa-like atmosphere,” says Rebecca Kolls, senior director consumer strategist of home and garden for Iconoculture.

One way to incorporate this type of atmosphere into your bath is with a customized shower or vertical spa, like Moen’s innovative ioDIGITAL. With ioDIGITAL, you can control water temperature and flow with electronic precision. Your bathroom will become the ultimate getaway that will effortlessly flow into any bedroom theme.

Cozy country flair

An uncluttered room with rustic antique decor pieces is sure to create a relaxing environment away from the hectic world outside. The simple and charming aesthetics of an English country look accomplish this desired feeling. English country styling mixes patterns and decor elements comfortably and with a bit of flair, incorporating what Kolls calls “style telling” – or styling that tells a story. And the cozy design flow works perfectly for a bedroom setting.

To create this look, start with a simple color palette – such as blue and white or pink and brown. Patterned wallpaper, borders and curtains in floral or plaid prints are a great way to evoke that welcoming, home-style country feeling. Keep your eyes open for one-of-a-kind antiques and wood furniture to accent your country retreat. A perfect – and often inexpensive – place to start is your local antique store, flea market, or even yard sales. After all, one person’s trash is another person’s vintage treasure.

Select delicate, yet comfortable, furniture pieces to add to the relaxing and comfortable feel. Accent chairs with coordinating floral patterns and overstuffed accent cushions in a variety of shapes and sizes will make you want to curl up with a blanket and read your favorite book. Don’t be overly concerned with finding matching wood pieces. Different and unique items add to the rustic appeal. Pine, oak or mahogany furniture items all have their place in laid-back English country style.

Coastal contemporary

There’s a reason why tropical beaches are considered the fundamental escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The rush of the ocean and the feel of sand between your toes can bring anyone a lasting sense of tranquility. Those same feelings can be incorporated into a master suite by selecting contemporary and cool hues in blues, pale greens and whites, with touches of sandy brown and gold.

For this laid-back theme, use an upholstered headboard in a soft blue pattern to highlight the focal point of the room – the bed. You can even go a step further by adding plush curtains behind the bed frame, paired with a large plate-glass mirror to provide the feeling of open spaces – like the open sea. Because the bed will be the focus of the room, keep the shades simple.

Try bamboo window shades to maintain the casual flow while allowing in natural light. Use whimsical decor pieces such as glass bedside lamps and palm plants throughout the rest of the room to complete the theme. Looking for low-cost design elements? Corral beautiful shells and sea glass found at your nearest beach into clear glass cylinders and place strategically throughout your master suite.

Whether your style is more classic, country or coastal – or perhaps a combination – you can create a dream master suite retreat that fits your own personal style.

Courtesy of ARA