Floridians Are More Confident About Economy

28 02 2007

A variety of factors made Florida consumers a little more confident about the economy in February, but the declining housing market makes the overall picture uncertain.

Consumer confidence rose two points in February to 91, according to research by University of Florida economists.

The increase was attributed to relatively low gas prices, low unemployment and a strong stock market. There were gains in four of the five components in the survey. The biggest gain was in perceptions of personal finances, which rose four points. Expectations about personal finances a year from now, U.S. economic conditions over the next five years and perceptions about whether it’s a good time to buy big-ticket items rose three points each. Expectations about the U.S. economy over the next year were unchanged.

Chris McCarty, director of the survey research center at UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, said the big question is how much declining real estate values will affect consumer spending, and if business investment and exports can offset any drop.

McCarty expects lower housing values to affect the rest of the economy by May or June.

“This should be more pronounced here in Florida, given the enormous gains in the value of Florida real estate,” he said. “It has much further to fall than other states.”

UF conducts the Florida Consumer Attitude survey monthly. February’s survey was based on 466 responses and has a margin of error of plus or minus 5 percentage points.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal

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Jacksonville Home Sales, Median Prices Drop in January

28 02 2007

The Florida housing market continued its decline in January, and the Jacksonville area was hit as hard as the rest of the state.

Sales of existing single-family homes fell 17 percent in Jacksonville and the median price fell 5 percent to $185,000. The numbers, from the Florida Association of Realtors, did not include data from the Amelia Island-Nassau County Association of Realtors.

The drop in sales was not as severe as the 27 percent drop across the state, but the median price decline was steeper than the state’s 2 percent drop to $239,300.

One of the few bright spots was a livelier market in existing condominiums. While sales of condos fell 30 percent across the state, sales in Northeast Florida rose 10 percent. But the median price fell 13 percent to $147,600. The statewide median price of condos dropped 1 percent to $209,000.

Source: Florida Association of REALTORS





Paying Too Much Property Tax Bill?

26 02 2007

Income tax, sales tax, estate tax, excise tax, alternative minimum tax…and just when you thought you’d paid them all…along comes your property tax bill as a homeowner. But did you know that the National Taxpayers Union estimates that as many as 60% of homes are assessed for too high of a value, resulting in an incorrectly larger property tax bill? Chances are good you might be in that group of people paying too much, so taking the time to review your property tax bill could save you a nice chunk of change.

The good news is that it’s easy.

First, contact your local tax assessor’s office and ask for someone in the reassessment area. Find out when appeals are heard, and how the process for submitting a property tax appeal works. Additionally, ask for a copy of your property card. Review the card and confirm that the basic information about your property is correct. For example, is the square footage and number of rooms for your home accurate? If the number is incorrect, the county may change the assessment without a formal appeal. If everything on the property card is correct but the assessed value still seems too high, your next step is to gather the following documentation to support an appeal. And don’t be surprised if the assessed value is lower than what you think the market value for your home is – many counties use a formula which uses a percentage of market value to determine assessed value. Ask what the formula is, because an assessment which is less than market value still might be too high.

If you have a current appraisal that supports the value being lower using recent market-value information, many counties will accept a copy of the appraisal with the appeal. If the appraisal is outdated, you can order a new one – just call me for a referral to a great appraiser. You can also visit the local assessor’s office or search online, and look through the public records for other homes that have similar features to yours, but have lower assessments. Additionally, contact me to get current market information for your neighborhood, and help you see how your market value and assessed value stacks up against your neighbors.

Submitting an appeal is generally a fairly simple process, but make sure to take the time to fill out all forms in advance and be prepared with your documentation if there is an in-person hearing that needs to take place.

More good news – according to the National Taxpayers Union, about 33% of property tax appeals succeed! Taking the time to review the accuracy of a tax bill could easily save you hundreds of dollars per year, adding up to thousands of dollars during the time you own your home. Please feel free to contact me for more information on this money-saving tip.





Paying Too Much Property Tax Bill?

25 02 2007

Income tax, sales tax, estate tax, excise tax, alternative minimum tax…and just when you thought you’d paid them all…along comes your property tax bill as a homeowner. But did you know that the National Taxpayers Union estimates that as many as 60% of homes are assessed for too high of a value, resulting in an incorrectly larger property tax bill? Chances are good you might be in that group of people paying too much, so taking the time to review your property tax bill could save you a nice chunk of change.

The good news is that it’s easy.

First, contact your local tax assessor’s office and ask for someone in the reassessment area. Find out when appeals are heard, and how the process for submitting a property tax appeal works. Additionally, ask for a copy of your property card. Review the card and confirm that the basic information about your property is correct. For example, is the square footage and number of rooms for your home accurate? If the number is incorrect, the county may change the assessment without a formal appeal. If everything on the property card is correct but the assessed value still seems too high, your next step is to gather the following documentation to support an appeal. And don’t be surprised if the assessed value is lower than what you think the market value for your home is – many counties use a formula which uses a percentage of market value to determine assessed value. Ask what the formula is, because an assessment which is less than market value still might be too high.

If you have a current appraisal that supports the value being lower using recent market-value information, many counties will accept a copy of the appraisal with the appeal. If the appraisal is outdated, you can order a new one – just call me for a referral to a great appraiser. You can also visit the local assessor’s office or search online, and look through the public records for other homes that have similar features to yours, but have lower assessments. Additionally, contact me to get current market information for your neighborhood, and help you see how your market value and assessed value stacks up against your neighbors.

Submitting an appeal is generally a fairly simple process, but make sure to take the time to fill out all forms in advance and be prepared with your documentation if there is an in-person hearing that needs to take place.

More good news – according to the National Taxpayers Union, about 33% of property tax appeals succeed! Taking the time to review the accuracy of a tax bill could easily save you hundreds of dollars per year, adding up to thousands of dollars during the time you own your home. Please feel free to contact me for more information on this money-saving tip.





Forbes: Jacksonville No. 3 in Country for Jobs

19 02 2007

Jacksonville is the third-best city in the country for jobs, according to Forbes magazine. Six Florida cities are rated in the top 25 cities in the country for jobs.

Jacksonville had the highest rating in the state, moving into third place, from eighth place last year.

Forbes based the rankings on unemployment rate, job growth, income growth, median household income, and cost of living in the largest 100 metropolitan areas, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.

For the second straight year, Forbes has listed the Orlando-Kissimmee metropolitan area the fourth-best city in the country for jobs.

Other Florida metropolitan areas that made the top 25 included Fort Lauderdale (9th, up from 25th), Sarasota-Bradenton (11th, up from 26th), Tampa/St. Petersburg (13th, up from 29th) and West Palm Beach (16th, up from 37th).

Raleigh-Cary, N.C., occupied the top spot, followed by Phoenix.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal





Happy Lunar New Year 2007

19 02 2007


Chinese New Year is ushered in on February 18, 2007 since the Chinese calendar is based on a lunar system which is different than the traditional Western calendar which celebrates the New Year on January 1st. This new year will be the year of the Pig which is the last animal in the twelve animal Chinese zodiac. Furthermore this year is also represented by the element of Fire. Thus, many people are calling this year the year of the “Fire Pig.” According to Chinese Astrology, this is an event that occurs once in every 60 years and will ensure that a baby born on this year will experience a prosperous and wealthy life and he/she will be taken care of for this rest of his or her life.

Water is the Pig’s fixed element. In Chinese, water plus fire equals disaster. Also, the fifth month of the Chinese calendar is the month of the Fire Horse; fire sitting on water is a symbol of conflict and skirmish and this may bring a relatively less peaceful year with more international conflicts and struggles. This will be a time of daring accomplishments and serious calamities.

In China, the most populous country in the world, seemingly everyone will be celebrating the year of the Fire Pig by spending time with loved ones and families. Festivities will begin on Chinese New Year and run for 15 days. The day before Chinese New Year, around 155 million Chinese people have begun the trip home to celebrate with their family. In total, the Chinese government estimates that there will be at around 2.17 billion trips made which is a record. Many of the travelers are migrants who have been attracted to the economical prosperity and opportunities on the coastal cities in China like Shanghai. They will be hurrying home to welcome the year of the Fire Pig at their homes.

While Fire and Water = Disaster in Chinese Astrology, the Chinese also believe that Danger and Opportunity are synonyms. Confusing, maybe, but think about the times you’ve been close to the edge, only to return to a great accomplishment. In the stock market, the more you risk the more you stand to gain. In sports you must push yourself to the limit if you hope to reach the top.

The year of the Fire Pig is meant to bring prosperity and good fortune. In fact, there has been a run to get married to have children born in the year of the Fire Pig. Although the year of the Fire Pig will be auspicious, it will also bring calamities with it. These natural disasters can be in the form of hurricanes, El Nino, tsunamis, and earthquakes. In 1995, the Hanshin earthquake rocked Kobe, Japan. Evidence of acceleration in global warming and a formidable El Nino year are pouring in.

The pig is also considered as a “Traveling star”. So this year will stimulate more traveling. However, the Pig is in clash relationship against the snake. This is a clash between water and fire elements and will often bring accidents related to both air and the sea. The snake can also symbolize the train. So traffic accidents related to train, shipping, and airplanes could be more serious this year.

It stands to reason, that if one benefits from the year of the Fire Pig, that they should make a pledge to donate some of their good fortune to the less fortunate through organizations like the Red Cross. Or one can donate their time to non-profits that help disaster stricken victims. Natural disasters can strike anyone, anywhere, so one should be thankful if they avoid them and instead greet prosperity.

CHINESE ZODIAC

The animal signs are linked each year to the ancient binary opposition of yin and yang and to one of the five elements of metal, fire, wood, earth and water. This gives a combination that recurs every 60 years.

The Golden Fire Pig year is the 24th of each 60-year cycle. In astrological lore, people born in a Pig year are regarded as chivalrous and pure of heart, courageous but inflexible. Pigs will sacrifice themselves for others, but are sometimes naive, gullible and stubborn. Astrologers claim that Pig years are characterized by calmness, harmony, pleasure and absence of conflict. Tibet’s exiled Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama, was born in a Pig Year. He will turn 72 this year. Other famous pigs include President Ronald Reagan, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, writer Ernest Hemingway, film director Alfred Hitchcock, actors Humphrey Bogart, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Woody Allen, singer Elton John.

Yin-fire makes the 2007 Pig year a “golden” one and is said to add charm and good fortune to the characters of those born in the year. Together with the surge in marriages last year, the desire for “golden” heirs is is the main reason for the expected increase in births this year.

The Pig is the 12th and last sign of the Chinese zodiac. We have come to the end of the cycle, and it’s time to celebrate our accomplishments. Yes, it’s party time! Be good to yourself this year; you’ve earned it. Family reunions, extended vacations and a spa membership are in order.

Like last year’s sign, the Dog, the Pig calls us to focus on family. Now we need to concentrate more on relationships. It’s a Fire year, a year filled with passion. What a great time to begin a new romance or take an existing one to a new level — a vacation in Paris or Bali vacation might be just the thing. When is the last time you shared a hot tub with your sweetheart? Make it a priority this year.

The West has their fat cats and the Chinese their fat pigs. We’re talking money! Yes, this is a year to make more than a little, so be alert for opportunities.

It may seem incongruous to link the Pig with scholars, but the association is there; and it’s a positive one, due in part to the fact that the Pig’s fixed element is Water. This could thus be a very good year for those in academia.

Although Pig is the last year in the 12-year cycle, it is only the 24th in the larger, 60-year cycle. At this point it should be emphasized that 2007 is a Fire year. This is not a year for the faint of heart. On the positive side, Fire provides each of us the energy we need to initiate action, regardless of whether or not immediate attention is required. It is not a time to sit on the sidelines.

Fire and Pig together call us to work on vigorously attacking existing projects and completing them. It is not a particularly favorable time to conceive of and begin new ventures. With the clash of Fire and Water, now is not the time to take a lot of risk. Use the energy of positive Fire to raise your work level to a high intensity, but avoid the foolhardiness associated with negative Fire, and your business interests will prosper.

Since this is a Fire year, those people born in an Earth year will generally fare better than others of their animal sign, while those born in a Metal year are likely to do worse than those born in Wood, Fire, Earth and Water years.

Health issues vary not only by sign but by each individual. Your best bet is to visit a Chinese doctor to have your balances checked and get some advice for the coming year. It is a Fire year, so one thing we can say in general is to be on the lookout for signs of stress and a tendency to overextend one’s self.

2007 will be an exciting year. We will experience passion and crises on and off throughout the year. The Pig is a go-with-the-flow type. If you follow the Pig’s example by enjoying life’s pleasures and heating up your relationships, this will be a very memorable year indeed.

FENG SHUI TIPS

Looking at history we find the 12 animal signs came into usage about a thousand years ago. Throughout history, however, scholarly treatises rarely mentioned the animals, referring instead to the 12 earthly branches. On the other hand five element theory dates back over 2,000 years and every major Chinese treatise on astrology addresses the five elements. An early application of the theory, for example, is to be found in ‘The Spring and Autumn Annals of Mr. Lu (written about 240 BC).

Perhaps the earliest integration of the five elements into Chinese thought involves their association with the five directions (in Chinese center is a direction). To be more specific there are five cardinal points and eight directions. The eight directions are relevant to discussions of feng shui and the luo pan compass. All we need to say here is feng shui practitioners make extensive use of the five elements.

Characteristics of the five cardinal points lend themselves to those of the five elements. The points and elements are matched as follows: Center – Earth, North – Water, South – Fire, East – Wood, and West – Metal. These also dovetail with an association with the seasons that also dates back over 2,000 years. The Book of the Prince of Huai Nan identifies five seasons and their corresponding elements: Spring – Wood, Summer – Fire, Middle Season – Earth, Autumn – Metal and Winter – Water.

In the northern hemisphere (China) the sun is in the southern sky in summer, a time of heat, hence Fire. With heat you get plenty of action, physical and mental, but also stress. On the other hand life is easier during warm weather and plentiful food, so there is also an association with relaxation and nowadays vacations. Summer is also a time of danger, especially from fires and drought.

Rains generally come to China in Winter, hence the association with Water. New plant growth tends to be in Spring, so that is the time ruled by Wood. Metal is connected with Fall, as that is the time metal tools are used to bring in the harvest. Earth has been assigned to a fifth season, occurring what in the West would be considered late summer and early autumn.

Seasonality recalls a very important aspect of Chinese thought, cyclicality. The seasons follow one another year after year in a predictable cycle. In China circular reasoning is more prevalent than in the West, where linear dominates. This has two, major implications for Chinese astrology.

First, the most basic procedure for dividing a person’s life into periods follows the five-element, cyclical pattern. The associations are also in harmony with the changing of the seasons. Birth, the period of new growth is governed by Wood, as is Spring. The second, Youth, is the Fire time, a time when children are very active, begin developing their mental capabilities, and test the limits of acceptable behavior. The expressions “down to earth” and “earthy” are familiar to the West. The same idea holds for Chinese astrology. Earth is the time of maturation, the time of crossing the bridge from youth to adulthood. A person identifies with the practical needs of job and family, arrives at a measure of self understanding, and adapts to their surroundings. With full maturity comes mid-life, a time to harvest the fruits of previous education and present labors. As with Fall, Metal rules here. Then there is Water, the element associated with retirement. As Youth is the hot time, the later years are the “cold” time. This is not the end, however, as the cycle begins again at 60, a most important birthday in China.

A second, vital consideration is the idea of constructive and destructive cycles. When the elements follow in order, Wood – Fire – Earth – Metal – Water – Wood …, there is harmony or a constructive cycle. Water makes plants (Wood) grow and Wood fuels a Fire for example. In a destructive cycle there is disharmony. That cycle is Water – Fire – Metal – Wood – Earth – Water …. Water puts out Fire, and Metal destroys (chops) Wood.

This has many implications for astrology. Here are two. A life cycle chart is part of a Four Pillars reading. Each of the five periods of life is governed by an element. If that element is in harmony with the normal element of the time, the person will have a favorable chart. As birth is the time of Wood, Water is the best element to have in a chart at that time. Conversely, if the person’s birth element is Metal, the person could be in for a challenging life. Elements are also crucial for relationships. According to Chinese astrology a person born in the year of the Sheep is extremely compatible with a Pig partner. What, however, if the Sheep was born during a Water year and the Pig in a Fire year, is the compatibility? In Chinese the characters for fire and water together spell disaster!

Speaking of the Pig, it is now time to look at the year of the Fire Pig and apply this background knowledge of the elements. What does the year portend, and what kind of “luck” can a person expect? Perhaps the best place to start is to look at the constructive and destructive cycles again.

The year 2007 is a Fire year. From the constructive cycle we see Fire is very beneficial for Earth. Thus people born during an Earth year have the best chance for a favorable year. Since Wood precedes Fire, it is in harmony with it and bodes well for people born in a Wood year. Fire year people can expect a mixed year. You’re in your element and will find the pace and environment agreeable. Unfortunately there is the old problem of too much of a good thing. You will be vulnerable to Fire’s excesses/weaknesses as well as benefited by its strengths. The destructive cycle shows that Metal people will have the most difficulty in a Fire year. Water is a close second, as Fire plus Water in Chinese equals disaster.

Fire is associated with many aspects of our lives. It is in those areas where those with a favorable cyclical relationship with Fire (Earth and Wood) will tend to experience the most positive results. Likewise Metal and Water people can expect the most difficulty in those. Health issues, for example, are most likely to involve the heart, tongue or small intestine.

Action is synonymous with Fire in Chinese astrology. Signs that love action include the Rat, Tiger, Dragon, Horse and Monkey. One aspect of action is passion. Whether it is directed toward work, hobby or a relationship it could produce some significant results for those having a favorable year. If this is not your year, the negative results of too much (passionate) activity could include stress, strained relationships, and a hot temper.

A second aspect of action is decisiveness. Fire favors those in leadership position and anyone who needs to make a quick decision. The negative side of this is a tendency to rush into things without thinking through the consequences. Remember, “Fools rush in where wise men fear to tread.”

A third is energy. People will not just be doing a lot, but they will be acting with gusto. This is a great time to dive into a project that takes everything you have—assuming the year is favorable. If not, you could become a victim of “burnout” or just find yourself “spinning your wheels,” that is doing a lot without much to show for it. The negative side of energy is violence. Things are going to heat up in a Fire year. It could be a good time for revolutionaries and terrorists.

Water is the element normally associated with mental activity, for example, academic success. Fire, however, does favor some aspects. Inspiration and innovation flourish in a Fire environment. This is a time to brainstorm and to make a serious effort to act on some of your more outlandish ideas.

Finally, it must be said Fire is the element linked with career. If you are an Earth year person with a favorable year you could be looking at significant success and possible advancement. You certainly want to give it your very best effort. If this is not your year, you want to play it close to the vest. In other words avoid risky new projects, conflicts, especially with your boss, and a career change. Play it safe.

There is another, major way elements affect your success. Each of the animal signs has a fixed element. The Water signs are Pig, Rat and Ox. The Wood signs are Tiger, Rabbit and Dragon. The Fire signs are Snake, Horse and Sheep. The Metal signs are Monkey, Rooster and Dog. The same correlations stated above concerning the constructive and destructive cycles also apply here. Analyzing the results here, however, is more difficult. This is because the favorability of the sign, for example Snake (and Pig), might be radically different than that of the elements Fire and Fire (the Snake’s fixed element). Although the fixed element is neutral, the sign relationship (Snake-Pig) is very negative. Rather than trying to work this out, it is probably best to just start with the favorability rating of each sign and then consider the effect of your year element, as described above. In general people born in an Earth year can raise their rating by at least 10%, while those born in a Metal year need to lower their rating by at least 10%—regardless of animal sign.

Here is a favorability rating for each of the 12 signs for 2007:

Rat – 65%
Ox – 42%
Tiger – 65%
Rabbit – 79%
Dragon – 69%
Snake – 37%
Horse – 50%
Sheep – 73%
Monkey – 58%
Rooster – 50%
Dog – 64%
Pig – 49%

Raymond Lo is one of world renowned Feng Shui masters. He predicts the following:

“The Year of the Pig, 2007, in the Hsia calendar, is symbolized by two elements – with fire sitting on top of water. According to the cycle of birth and destruction, which governs the inter-relationship between the elements, fire will be conquered by water. Therefore, fire sitting on water is a symbol of conflict and skirmish and this may bring a relatively less peaceful year with more international conflicts and struggles. In recent years, the last time such fire and water elements appeared was in 2002 in the year of the water horse, which was the year immediately after 911 and terrorist attacks became a global threat . The fire standing on top in 2007 is yin fire which is compared to the candle flame. Whilst the yang fire in 2006 symbolizes the sun and represents openness, optimism, warmth, politeness and care, the Yin fire in 2007 symbolizes tension, temperamental emotions, agitations, and illusions. The Yin fire is candle flame, and a spark of fire. There is a common Chinese saying that “A spark of fire can burn down the whole plain”. As such, yin fire can be more damaging and destructive than yang fire. It is anticipated that there will be more international conflicts and disharmony which will even lead to regional warfare, uprising and unrest, or over throwing of the government in certain countries.

The Chinese calendar year goes on 60-year cycle. This means that we have experienced the same year of yin fire on pig in 1947. This was a year when the Second World War is over and the Cold war between USSR and USA began. In 1947 the U.S. President Truman declared his famous doctrine to stem the spread of communism. And the USSR rejected the US plan for UN atomic energy control. So the race to produce nuclear weapon began. In the same year India and Pakistan became independent from British rule and then engaged into a bloody war.

The Chinese character for “Yin fire” is like the shape of the alphabet “T”. One can remember the “T” shape as the mushroom cloud which appears during a nuclear explosion. Indeed, the Yin fire can bring fire disasters and big explosions. In recent history we have found quite disastrous explosions happened on a Yin fire day. The obvious examples are 6th August, 1945, the day when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, and 11th September, 2001, the famous 911 terrorist attack on USA. Both these days are Yin fire. The Yin fire symbolizes fire arms, and the deadly weapon AK-47 assault rifle was actually designed in 1947. Exactly 60 years ago, same year of Yin fire on the pig. So it will not be surprising that there will more gun battles, murder with guns, bombing attacks in the year 2007.

The Pig belongs to water element, however, it represents the beginning of winter and is the birth month of wood. As such, the pig symbolizes the germination of a plants, a new life is born. As such, the pig year can bring a new beginning of international relationships and social order, this could bring new regimes with new government in some countries. The pig is also considered as a “Traveling star”. So years of the pig will stimulate more traveling and this will very much benefit tourist industry. However, the Pig is in clash relationship against the snake. This is a clash between water and fire elements and will often bring accidents related to both air and the sea. The snake can also symbolize the train. So traffic accidents related to train, shipping, and airplanes could be more serious in this year.

As the Pig is the animal in clash against the Snake, and forms a configuration called “self penalty with the Pig itself. Therefore people born in years of Snake and the Pig have to be particularly careful in 2007. As it is water clashing against fire, the danger could be associate with water and fire disasters such as traffic accidents in the air or at sea. Therefore, for people born in the year of Snake and Pig, it is recommended that they carry the pendant of a Tiger which will help to attract away the Pig, so as to minimize the negative influence of the clash or penalty. Anyhow, people who are born in the year of Snake will experience a more turbulent year with more movements and traveling, changes. It is suitable to engage in such movements, such as moving house or moving offices. Traveling is also good but one should avoid going straight towards the Northwest direction as it is the direction of the Grand Duke in 2007.

The Five basic elements also represent different parts of our body, fire in general relates to blood circulation and the heart, and yin fire also represents the brain, the eyes and the nerve system. As such, the health problems related to yin fire could be heart disease, inflammation, hyper tension, in serious cases; it could bring about heart attack and stroke, or nervous breakdown, anxiety, depression and insomnia as well as obesity. Therefore in 2007 we should pay more attention to health of the heart as well as mental health. For people who are born in the day of yin fire, it is always advisable to take up more relaxation exercises such as Taichi and yoga in order to reduce tension and stress. It is necessary to take more fresh fruit and vegetables, vitamin C, vitamin E, omega 3 oil, COQ10 etc, to prevent cardiovascular diseases. It is also necessary to pay attention to problem related to eyesight.

The famous people who are born on a day of Yin fire include Bois Yeltsin, Ariel Sharon, David Bowie, Tony Blair, Harrison Ford, Chairman Mao Tse tung and most of these people are known to have suffered stroke or problem of the heart.

In recent years world wide epidemic such as avian flu has been worrying and there is also reason to see such threats could intensify in 2007. In human history the most serious outbreak of epidemic is the Black Death which started in Europe in the year 1347 which is exactly a year of yin fire on the Pig. This epidemic wiped out about one third of the population in Europe and this is estimated to be about 34 million people. . Another signal of such threat to health in 2007 also appears in the feng shui flying stars. In 2007 the star number 2, representing sickness is in the centre. This centre number often reflects the focus of events prevailing in the year. Take for example, in 2005 we have 4 in the centre and the number 4 symbolizes the chicken. So this the year the threat of avian flu began. In 2006 the star 3 in the centre represents conflict and earthquakes, and so we have to assume the 2 in the centre in 2007 will bring more health problems. The best precaution against such health threat is to take a more healthy diet and taking health supplements such as anti-oxidants to improve our immune system.

The economy in the year 2007 showed yin fire on the Heavenly stem. Fire is the symbol of the financial market and yin fire is illusive candle fire. Illusion of a good market can also generate over optimism that will drive up the stock market in the first half of 2007, when the spring and summer months of wood and fire make the candle fire appear stronger. However, yin fire standing on water pig – the terminator of fire, is illusory fire. But the stock market is often driven by illusion of profitability. So it is expected that the economy and the stock market will shot up to very high levels in the months from February till about July. However, investors have to be cautious towards autumn and winter as there will be substantial set back as the fire element will disappear in 2008, the year of the Earth Rat. The situation bears some similarity to the Asian currency crisis that broke out in around August of 1997. 1997 is also a Yin fire year and such illusive fire pushed the stock and property market sky high in first half of 1997 before the collapse came in August. However, in general, we do not expect the setback in second half of 2007 will be as serious as that of 1997. The reason being that there is hidden wood element in the Pig which still provide support to the Yin fire even in winter time.

The strong water of the Pig year favours earth and metal industries, as earth conquers water, so the Pig is a symbol of money to the earth industry, which includes property, mining, hotel, chemicals, insurance… As for metal industries, metal gives birth to water, so the strong water element in the year indicates productivity and strong activity in metal industries – this include machinery, computer, high tech industries, skincare, health business. The Wood industries, which include textile, fashion, books, publications, paper, forestry, furniture is not as strong as previous year, but still remains reasonably prosperous as the yin fire year symbolizes productivity of wood industry.

The less prosperous industries in 2007 will be businesses of water and fire elements. Water industries refers to shipping, communication, drinks…etc. The strong water appearing in the Pig year will bring stronger competition in the water areas and this will very much weaken the profitability. Fire industries refer to finance, stock market, energy, electricity, entertainment, and airline businesses. As fire conquers metal and produces Earth element, so to Fire industry, metal represents money and earth represents productivity. However, in 2007 both metal and earth elements are absent. That is why it is a relatively weak year for the industries related to the fire element.

The property market is symbolized by the earth element. This industry had stronger activities in the past years of monkey and rooster in 2004 and 2005 as the metal elements represent productivity of earth industries. There had been some slowdown in 2006, as the fire ad earth year brought stronger competition and eroded profitability. However, in 2007 the water element of the pig will bring some money luck to the earth industry, despite there will be some setback towards the second half of the year when the stock market is undergoing some adjustments.

With respect to the hi-tech industries sector, as represented by the NASDAQ. I have postulated that this industry is mainly represented by the metal element. As such, the prosperity of hi-tech industry requires the strong appearance of water and wood, which are symbols of productivity and money of the metal industry. In 2007 the water element, meaning activities to hi-tech industries returns. As such, it is anticipated that the year is favourable for hi-tech or internet types of business. But the absence of wood in this year could mean there are more activities without real substantial money gains.

In summary, the industries that will perform well in the year of the Pig will be industries related to earth and metal elements – such as property, hotel, mining, insurance, machinery, engineering, health, computer, and high tech industries. Industries relating to water and fire will not be doing so well. Water industries include shipping, communication, drinks , and fire industries are stock market, finance, energy, electricity, entertainment business. The wood industries – such as textile, publications, fashion, furniture, etc are into a year with some superficial prosperity but not substantial.

In general, the yin fire Pig year, with fire on top conquered by water below, is symbol of more disharmony and struggle before the birth of a new world order. There will be more international conflicts and uprisings and unrest but such events may bring positive changes leading to longer term benefit for the future of humanity and global well-being.

The animal sign which is most unfavourable is the Snake which is in direct clash against the Pig. Such clashes will usually bring about turbulence, movements, accident or changes.. So people born in the year of the Snake will anticipate more traveling , or movements such as changing jobs or moving house. It is necessary to carry the pendant of a Tiger as protection to attract the Pig away. For the Snake people, the clash against the Pig could bring accidents related to the water and fire element, such as explosion, fire disasters, air and sea traffic accidents. For people who are under clash with the year, it is ok to travel more, making changes such as moving house, or change job. However, for people born in the year of the Snake, it is recommended not to travel directly towards the direction of the Grand Duke, which is the northwest direction, and it is also not recommended for them to travel by sea. The other animals signs facing unfavourable positions is the Pig, as when Pig encounters a Pig year will form Self Penalty relationship. . Such self penalties will usually bring irritation and frustrations, such as putting in a lot of effort without any concrete achievements. Also the imbalance of fire and water elements brought about by the Snake and the Pig may bring fire and water diseases, such as high blood pressure, heart burn, inflammation, diabetes, and kidney problems. As such, it is necessary to take heavy dosages of anti-oxidant, omega 3 oil or COQ10 which is good protection against cardiovascular diseases, hyper-tension and inflammation problems.

The animals combining with the Pig year are the Tiger, the Rabbit, the Goat. These animals are into a year of harmony . However, such animal astrology is not totally reliable as the system is not recognized as a formal type of fortune-telling. For more reliable assessment of ones fortune in the year of the Pig, it is recommended that one checks the full Four Pillars of Destiny, which requires full birthdata information of the Year, Month, Day and Hour of birth. As the animal signs can appear in all four pillars in a person’s birth data, the clash and penalty relationship with the Pig will not only impact people born in the year of Snake and Pig. Such clash and penalties can also impact any one who has such animals in the birth month, or day or hour.

Some examples of famous people born in the year of the Snake and under clash in 2007 are Tony Blair, Bob Dylan, Ben S. Bernanke, Martha Stewart, J. K. Rowling, Stephen Hawking, and Brooke Shield. There are people who are not born in the year of Snake, but they are also under clash because they are born on the day of Snake, so they will also face a challenging year. Some examples of these people are – George Bush, Osama Bin Laden, Taksin Shinawatra, Kobe Braynt, Angelina Joli, and John Travolta.

For people who are born in the year of the Rat, the Pig year will bring “Flower of Romance” so one can anticipate a more sociable year with more opportunity to develop friendship with the opposite sex. People born in the years of Snake, Rooster, and Ox will see a traveling horse in the year of the Pig and will expect more traveling, movement and changes in their lives.

Feng Shui energies also change from year to year. Therefore, it is necessary to watch for the re-allocation of good and bad energies at the beginning of each year, so that we can take necessary precautions if some bad energy happens to arrive at important locations of our residence or offices. In the year of the Pig, the bad energy called “Five Yellow” – symbolizing obstacles and misfortune, arrives at the Northeast. If your northeast of the house is an important area such as bedroom or entrances, it is recommended that one hangs a metal windchime there to dissolve this bad energy. The worst months will be in February, August, and November. Another bad star number 2, symbolizing sickness, will arrive in the centre in 2007. The traditional method to dissolve this 2 is to hang a string of six metal coins in the affected area in the Centre of the house The Grand Duke this year is in the Northwest, hence it is not favourable to “move earth” or make substantial construction work in this direction. It is also not recommended for one to sit with back against exact West as you will be sitting against the unfavourable energy called “Three Shars” or “Three Killings”. The bad star 3 is a star of conflict and robbery. This is present in the northwest of the house. It is necessary to put a piece of red paper in the northwest to minimize such a bad influence. Also the bad star 7, representing scandals is in the North, the traditional solution for this bad star 7 is to place 3 or 4 of bamboo plant grown in clear glass vase of water in the North location.”

Gong Xi Fa Cai or simply Happy Chinese New Year! Wishing you a happy, healthy and prosperous Year of the Pig.





Forbes: Jacksonville No. 3 in Country for Jobs

19 02 2007

Jacksonville is the third-best city in the country for jobs, according to Forbes magazine. Six Florida cities are rated in the top 25 cities in the country for jobs.

Jacksonville had the highest rating in the state, moving into third place, from eighth place last year.

Forbes based the rankings on unemployment rate, job growth, income growth, median household income, and cost of living in the largest 100 metropolitan areas, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau.

For the second straight year, Forbes has listed the Orlando-Kissimmee metropolitan area the fourth-best city in the country for jobs.

Other Florida metropolitan areas that made the top 25 included Fort Lauderdale (9th, up from 25th), Sarasota-Bradenton (11th, up from 26th), Tampa/St. Petersburg (13th, up from 29th) and West Palm Beach (16th, up from 37th).

Raleigh-Cary, N.C., occupied the top spot, followed by Phoenix.

Source: Jacksonville Business Journal








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