Millions of Americans are planning summer vacations this year yet the economic situation has led travelers to seek vacations that are exciting but also easy on the wallet. One way to do this is to plan for a road trip vacation that weaves low cost yet high visually rewarding scenic drives into an area with a good network of local attractions. By traveling to these scenery and attraction concentrated areas, you’ll be cutting down on the travel, lodging, & food costs by pegging your fun & excitement meter in less overall travel days. There are three US states that standout among the crowd for their ability to offer travelers both beauty and amenities – Colorado, California, & Tennessee.It is no secret that California is viewed by many to be the ultimate vacation state as it combines an almost endless array of tourist attractions sprinkled throughout what is widely viewed as one of the most scenically endowed of all US States. No matter what your age or your interests are, there are attractions that will satisfy just about everyone. Traditional amusement parks abound in this state to include Disneyland, Sea World, and Lego Land as well as the Hollywood movie theme focused Universal Studios Theme Park. If roller coasters and large crowds are not on your wish list, there are more eclectic attractions such as the William Hurst Castle, Alcatraz prison, and the Carmel Mission.Adults will especially enjoy the wineries of Napa Valley and Sonoma, the cosmopolitan Mecca of San Francisco, and the shops and restaurants in Monterey’s Cannery Row. If natural beauty is high on your list, wonderful coastal scenery is available all along California’s Pacific Coast from the many free public beaches. For a unique coastal experience, take a boat to Catalina Island just off the coast of LA. Or if you want to sample the wide diversity of California’s coastline, start in the south near San Diego or LA and travel north. You’ll start out with Southern California’s tame sandy beaches and culminate in the dramatic rocky shorelines indicative of Northern California. While traveling this coastline, you’ll be traveling potentially the most famous scenic drive in the world – Highway 1 Along the California coast. When you are done with the ocean scenery tour, head inland and take in Redwood forests areas, or the alpine mountain scenery of Lake Tahoe, or the famous collection of waterfalls at the incredible Yosemite National Park. The list and possibilities go on and on in The Golden State.If you are looking for a vacation to provide you with some cherished mountain memories, Colorado is an ideal choice. It is host to an expansive share of the US Rock Mountains; approximately half the state is comprised of mountain country. And, it is blessed with a particularly inspiring tract of the Rocky Mountains as a large number of its peaks extend past the vaunted 14,000 ft altitude mark… “fourteeners,” as mountain climbers refer to them are an elite group of peaks found in only four US states – Alaska, California, Colorado and Washington. And, if you use the number of “fourteeners” as an objective way of measuring a mountain state’s level of “mountain majesty,” then Colorado is the hands down king as it is home of 54 of the US’s 88 peaks rising past this milestone.In the non-winter months, you can travel the mountain areas and take in the world class Rocky Mountain National Park, see the plummeting topography of the Royal Gorge, become part of the club of hikers that have climbed famous Pikes Peak, try your hand (and oar) at whitewater rafting, enjoy world class mountain biking, travel through the mountains in a vintage steam driven locomotive, and the list goes on and on. In the winter months, of course you can enjoy arguably the best downhill skiing slopes in the world, as well as mountain country snowmobiling, cross country skiing, and even good old fashioned sledding… with the assistance of ski-lifts to get you to the top again. There is no shortage of possibilities in the “Centennial State”, and if you are looking for a state with a good mix of awe inspiring scenic drive possibilities along with a robust selection of tourist attractions, Colorado should rank high on your list of candidate states.Lastly, the US state east of the Mississippi river that has the most to offer travelers looking for both a smorgasbord of scenic miles as well as large array of interesting attractions is Tennessee. The dominant scenic feature of Tennessee is the majestic Appalachian mountain range that characterizes the eastern portion of the state. Within this area you can visit a gem of the US national park system – The Great Smoky Mountains National Park. This premier US national park encompasses over 500,000 acres of pristine Appalachian mountain country and offers all the amenities of a top shelf national park to include -camping, hiking, horseback riding, nature workshops and a wonderful collection of roads that snake through the mountain valleys as well as over the top of high rising fertile peaks. If you desire more of the outdoors, in Tennessee you can also find robust white-water rafting areas, ATV riding areas, and of course hunting and fishing spots.Aside from the rural mountain areas, the state also is host to some cities that are favorites among many tourists. Nashville Tennessee is known as Music City and has a vast collection of museums and cultural centers as well as a healthy nightlife scene. Near Knoxville Tennessee and conveniently positioned near the entrance to The Great Smokey Mountain National park is the tourist magnet Gatlinburg Tennessee. This town is packed to the gills with things to do and see for the kids as well as adults. Attractions such as the 400 shop “Mountain Mall,” live entertainment, and all the kids favorites such as miniature golf, go-cart tracks, arcades, bungee jumping, and water parks. Additionally, it has a very robust network of lodging facilities that range from traditional large corporate hotels, smaller mom & pop motels, bed & breakfasts, & a host of diverse artesian lodges modeled after ski chalets, Indian teepees, and quaint log cabins. There is no doubt about it, in the eastern half of the US, Tennessee, like its many mountain peaks, rises above the crowd in vacation and road trip options.
The United States of America is a nation full of natural riches, from rain forests, rivers, lakes, oceans, desserts, and whatnot. If sustained, supported, and consolidated properly, these natural resources can turn into economical and industrial behemoths that can serve the people environmentally and financially.For this reason, the United States Government has developed a slew of agencies that are established solely to render concerns related to the country’s natural resources.The United States Forest Service, one of the agencies in the natural resources sector, is an agency operating under the United States Department of Agriculture that administers the nation’s 155 national forests and 20 national grasslands, which encompass 193 million acres of land.The mission of the agency is “to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the Nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations.”The agency is divided into three primary divisions, the National Forest System, State and Private Forestry, and the Research and Development branch. The agency carries out its mission by establishing grant programs such as the Collaborative Forest Restoration Program, which was generally intended to encourage individuals, businesses, groups and other organizations to collaborate on the design, implementation, and monitoring of projects that value local and traditional knowledge, promote healthy and productive forests and watersheds, and build ownership and civic pride.The National Park Service, on the other hand, is a United States federal agency that manages manages all national parks, various national monuments, and other conservation and historical properties with various title designations.The grants and programs of the National Park service are all geared towards the achievement of its primary agency mission which is to “provide quality law enforcement to safeguard lives, protect our national treasures and symbols of democracy, and preserve the natural and cultural resources entrusted to us.”Meanwhile, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, operating within the United States Department of the Interior, is the primary agency dedicated to the management of fish, wildlife, and natural habitats.The mission of the agency, which is “to conserve, protect, and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people”, is carried out by creating several grants and initiatives that serve this purpose.One of these grant programs is the Evaluation of Mixed-grass Prairie Biotic Communities Project, which was developed to assist with research study design, statistical analyses, data assimilation, and development of written scientific manuscript or report regarding the present situation of mixed-grass prairie biotic communities.
Soccer Rankings of the NSR website will be based on national, regional league results and also based on tournament itself. This will be the main objective of the National Soccer Rankings website. They will be the one who will ranks teams through the following determinants such as head to head results, how consistent the wins are and the quality of the competition. The State, Regional and National Cup tournaments are most given the priority in any specific region or state. Results from these tournaments are usually weighted more than local league due to the developmental aspect of local league play. The NSR website makes use regional and state specialists to establish the rankings.There is another issue which involve the local league upon using a tie-breaker scheme that would determine the ranking if ever there are two or more even teams. This is the reason for challenging teams to play more than a year and there are also instances that girls play in a boy’s league to move their competition to a higher level. This is mostly done in many parts of the country. Such results are factored and considered into rankings that wind up the league season.On the other hand, there are results which are not counted for the rankings and these are the following:· Results from friendly games or tournaments
· Indoor game results
· Game results played up in age group
· Showcase Tournament Results but must bear quarter final, semi final or final
· Results of academy team which are not eligible for the NSR rankings.
Recording The WeatherIn 1870, the National Weather Service (NWS) was founded by a resolution from President Ulysses S. Grant. The resolution stated the National Weather Service “to provide for taking meteorological observations at the military stations in the interior of the continent and at other points in the States and Territories…and for giving notice on the northern (Great) Lakes and on the seacoast by magnetic telegraph and marine signals, of the approach and force of storms.” George Washington, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Jefferson all established an interest in weather-related recordings prior to the establishment of the National Weather Service. This interest influenced the role and development of the National Weather Service.NWS Progressiono 1869 – The telegraph was invented, in which weather observations could quickly be transmitted to and from several locations. This helped weather predicting and reporting become easier.o 1870 – General Albert J. Meyer was named the director of the Weather Bureau, and the National Weather Service was implemented. At this point in history, the National Weather Service was operated in the same line as military traditions.o 1890 – The Department of Agriculture reformed the Weather Bureau to make it a civilian enterprise. This was done by the request of President Benjamin Harrison. Due to this change, the Kentucky Derby (in its 15th year) was able to take a weather report!o 1891 – The National Weather Service weather experiments and directions were given by the Secretary of Agriculture in 1891.o 1901 – The first 3-day forecast was made; and the mail carriers would put slips of paper sharing the forecast into the newspaper as it was delivered each morning.o 1927 – The ability of the Weather Bureau to make predictions about the weather was greatly enhanced with the beginning of air travel. The NWS learned about air currents, upper level moisture, etc.o 1951 – The National Weather Service established the Severe Weather Warning Center at the Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma. This Center is the predecessor to the National Sever Storms Center.o 1960 – The first weather satellite was launched at Cape Canaveral.o 1967 – The Weather Bureau was officially renamed the National Weather Service, which is made up of members of the Volunteer Corps who notify the NWS on a regular basis on their observations.Use The NWS Daily!By utilizing all that this governmental agency has to offer, we can plan recreational activities, monitor storm activity, know what to wear each day, etc. You can check out the NWS website for customized forecasts for you local area, throughout the United States, and even world-wide. Other information on the NWS website: local air quality details; educational resources for helping your children learn about the weather; and more!
When we earn less than what we need to spend, what we do is borrow money. The “we” can apply to individuals, to corporations, or to sovereign countries or governments. Often-for governments especially-borrowing money is not a problem. They borrow money to pay for borrowed money, and lenders are easy to find. For example, latest available data show that the total (gross) amount of US government debt (USD21T) is bigger than that country’s gross domestic product, or GDP (USD20T). Stated differently, the current debt-to-GDP ratio of the federal government of the USA is 105 percent.Some countries even have higher debt-to-GDP ratios: Japan (236 percent), Italy (131 percent), and Singapore (110 percent), among others.Philippines? The trend over the past decade shows a decreasing rate: from 55 percent in 2008 to 42 in 2017. Amount of total national government debt in 2017 stood at Php6.6T, 67 percent of which was domestic debt while 33 percent was foreign debt.The debt-to-GDP ratio is one of the indicators of a country’s capacity to pay. Experts tell us that a low debt-to-GDP ratio indicates an economy that produces and sells goods and services sufficient enough to pay back debts without incurring further debt.Because government borrowing does not seem to worry policy makers even for debt guzzlers like the US and Japan, perhaps what may interest taxpayers more is determination of the “need to spend.”There are cases where countries (or areas within them) can promote people’s welfare better by buying public goods and services now, using borrowed money (at cost, meaning with interest) than waiting for a later date when cash flow positions can be expected to improve. A quick example is expenditure on key infrastructures, like road networks or hydro-electric plants that stimulate job-generating private investments, and further promote downstream livelihood opportunities. Investments like these often pay for themselves over a long period of time.The development goal becomes more attractive when economic opportunities are seen spilling over the countryside, with added expected benefits-from the whole nation’s perspective-of easing urban poverty and congestion, greater equity in wealth distribution, creating a variety of conditions for social levelling, etc.-all of which can go a long way in checking rural insurgency.This idea is cropped from the backdrop of the Philippines’ possibly becoming a federal nation where, as an assumption, the federal states will have more autonomy at finding sources from which to fund their development projects. A possible set up can emerge where, like what the national government does, LGUs can issue debt papers or instruments (such as notes or bonds) to raise money.While other countries like the US and Brazil have enabled their municipal governments to issue debt instruments or securities, consideration of this funding option has yet to gain traction among most LGUs in the Philippines, except for some mega cities like Cebu City. Rather the more common practice has been for LGUs to vie for bilateral loans, involving in many cases development banks like Land Bank and the Development Bank of the Philippines, whenever they see the need to borrow money.Over the past several years, the Bureau of the Treasury, in collaboration with the Department of Finance and Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas, among other related government agencies, has developed a robust environment for debt management operations that include improved investor relations, enhanced organizational capacity and optimized analytical tools for policy action, streamlined processes for origination (eg auction of Treasury Bills and Bonds), as well as big data management required from recording, monitoring and servicing of national government debt.The external environment contributes to the vigor of the entire debt management apparatus, such as the overall health of the economy-buttressed by a predictable political climate-that can justify positive credit ratings on a consistent basis. It is this kind of ratings that makes it easy for governments to find lenders, and incur debt at the least possible cost to the taxpayer.Investment opportunities for LGUs are legion, and I wish to broadly discuss a few of them here.(1) Real Estate DevelopmentThat Metro Manila needs to be decongested is obvious for LGUs easily see opportunities from that big problem. Hint: Build a hub for a national government agency, one that offers free housing for 1,000 to 2,000 employees, on top of state-of-art digital connectivity infrastructures. Then invite a government agency that rents property for its offices in Metro Manila or nearby areas to relocate. In five years, the host LGU should see a rapid increase in the number of economic establishments within the area, providing livelihood opportunities for its residents.Urban planners would also do well to shape ideas for similar ventures. For example, the Tacloban North Township Project of Tacloban City can be a model for uprooting entire communities from danger zones to more a more ideal settlement area.(2) Land BankingLGUs that think through issues of squatting (which is a tax on idle property) and disaster response should also do well to buy land now (while still available and relatively cheaper) for future needs of their constituency.(3) Aged Care Homes and ServicesLGUs can add value to what the Philippine Retirement Authority offers by building specialty facilities for the elderly, including those that require medical care for dementia, Alzheimer’s and other physical ailments caused by wear and tear. Filipinos excel (competitive advantage) in caregiving largely because of their culture: respect for elders and moorings from extended families. The market is simply too big (and growing by the day) to be ignored. Estimates show that in 25 years almost one-third of the population of the USA, Japan and most European countries would be nearing retirement age. Unlike the Philippines, the ties that bind families in these countries are not as “strong,” where elders are often left to fend for themselves. These elders, one may further note, are not “freeloaders,” boosting financial viability of these investments.(4) Organic AgricultureThe objective is to help local farmers compete with the established producers and traders by organizing and continuously training them, and providing them with the required start up and working capital requirements. The “organic” niche can help them stand out from the competition.(5) Franchisee for Disaster ReliefLGUs can “sub-contract” from DSWD its disaster relief operations on a bill-me-later basis. Government personnel, except probably those who have military or police training, are hardly known for their skills in logistics management. But all other things being equal, LGUs are in a better position to respond more effectively to disaster relief needs due to their proximity to affected areas.In conclusion, I tried to show that LGUs do have many opportunities to innovate on their service delivery systems by investing in projects that are outside of their usual development portfolio. A robust structure for managing public debt, led by the Bureau of the Treasury, exists. It can be tapped to help them generate the funds they need from the domestic capital market.
Whether you’re an American wanting to re-discover your own country, or a foreigner wanting to see the sights and sounds of the beautiful, red-striped USA and experience the ultimate American dream, a USA honeymoon with your loved one could prove to be one good way to a life of marital bliss.From Maine to Hawaii, from Alaska to Florida, you get to enjoy an assortment of activities – surfing and swimming for the couple who like the waters, snowboarding and skiing for a winter honeymoon, rock climbing and hiking for the outdoor couple, windsurfing for the more adventurous type and many others you can choose from.Looking for some sun? Explore Florida on your honeymoon. Visit the Caladesi Island State Park and go traipsing in its white sand shores and the boat ride. The Blue Spring State Park in Florida offers fishing activities, scuba diving and swimming and a look at the Manatees. There’s also the Bok Sanctuary, popular for the singing Tower and the Coral Castle Gallery with the Three Bears’ Grotto.On the other hand, if you’re looking for more action, you can put California as your honeymoon destination. Walk down the streets and take snapshots of the famous statues of Auburn, like the naked man wrestling with the chains, the coolie and the Amazon Archers. Explore folk art at the Salvation Mountain or go have your temperatures’ checked by the Baker Thermometer, the world’s largest thermometer. Of course, don’t; ever forget to visit Hollywood and get a chance to get up close and personal with the Hollywood celebrities. Who knows the two of you may star in one of the movies being filmed there?For those who’d like to go on the wilder side, go north with an Alaskan honeymoon. Go bear-sighting at the Anan Wildlife Observatory and at Pack Creek. Don’t definitely miss the Alaskan Native Heritage Center and the Anchorage Museum of History and Art for a glimpse of Alaska’s culture and local history. Climb Mt. McKinley, the highest peak in the North American region at the Denali National Park and discover the local flora and fauna at the Alaska Sea Life Center, which, by the way, also houses many bird species and sea mammals.Other things to watch out for in your USA honeymoon destinations are the country’s string of national parks – the Yellowstone National Park, famous for the throngs and the sparring bull elks, the Joshua Tree National Park with its yucca tree, and the Texas’s Guadalupe Mountains National Park for a winter, snow-filled honeymoon.Check out Chinatown and see a different culture in San Francisco. Don’t forget to visit New Mexico and have a taste of their spicy, tasty Tacos and take photos of the adobe constructions. Go crazy over the sights and sounds of Las Vegas – the casinos, the cabarets, the clubs.Of course check out local American delicacies like the American pie, go shopping at Fifth Avenue and walk holding hands at Central Park – a natural refuge in the middle of the busy city.Whether it’s a spring or a winter honeymoon you’re planning with your loved one, USA offers you more than just the sights, the sounds, the smell and the taste of American beauty. It offers variety, color, and the idyllic start to a future filled with marital bliss.
To transition to a greener economy with green careers, local level participation and collaboration is vital. According to the U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, just throwing jobs out there does not get anything done; a mix of services must be provided to make sure that there is a workforce prepared to take on these jobs. Therefore, it is important to consider the local level when developing green careers to fuel the green economy. The U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis and other authors of the Green Jobs Act of 2007 have acknowledged that for effective use of the monies from the Stimulus Package and the Green Jobs Act local level coordination is crucial. This includes assessment of need, training curriculum of those coming in new to green technologies, assessment of readiness for individual candidates, job openings awaiting the trained candidates, social services to enable these workers to connect to transportation, child care, and other resources needed to make the work experience and transition successful. Local agencies who applied for money under the Green Jobs Act had more success when they could demonstrate coordinated group participation in the process of building green careers among many of the stake holders. This carries over to the coordinated Stimulus Package funding which provides funding extension to many existing national and state job training and job readiness programs to supply the green economy with the skilled workforce need to progress quickly. The three favored job categories are green jobs, emergency services, and jobs within the health field. The job training programs specifically authorized within the Recovery Act that will help prepare Americans for jobs in renewable energy, environmental protection, and green building trades are AmeriCorps State and National Recover Act Assistance, Department of Labor Employment and Family Services Job Corps Centers, Department of Labor Workforce Investment Act, and the Housing and Urban Development Tribal Governments. AmeriCorps current grantees are eligible to apply for additional funding. The AmeriCorps personnel scope includes construction and rehabilitation of housing and other buildings. Fifteen percent of the $250 million dollars allotted for the Dept. of Labor Employment and Family Services Job Corps Centers can be used towards training programs for careers in renewable energy, energy efficiency, and environmental protection. Additionally, funding made available through the Green Jobs Recovery Act may be continued. Almost $4 billion dollars has been earmarked for the Workforce Investment Act which provides training and employment services to youth, displaced workers, and older adults. Money has also been set aside to train tribal members in skills associated in building trades such as pipe-fitting and plumbing through the Housing and Urban Development Tribal Governments Act. U. S. Secretary of Labor Solis uses her current position to showcase exemplary community partnerships throughout the country that are implementing environmental career training programs through the Green Jobs Act and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA.) She further states that the ARRA is all about putting people back to work and creating new jobs to help the U.S. work its way out of recession. The collaboration among existing programs and creating the new locally controlled green economy will help us to build green careers needed to further create and sustain our energy independence.
The Free State is South Africa’s Cinderella province.However, the Free State is landlocked so it doesn’t have Cape Town’s beaches, and its economy is based on large scale maize agriculture and mining, neither of which are particular decorative. But, it is seriously underrated.There are lovely mountainous areas in the east, where the dramatic, concave sandstone cliffs and bright green rolling grasslands form the foothills of the Maluti Mountains and the Drakensburg. The main farming activity here is the growing of cherries, which tends to be a much prettier crop than maize.There is great hiking and mountain biking in the hills, and the scenery is awesome.The Golden Gate Highlands National Park, with its many day walks and hiking trails, pony trails, lovely rock art and small game, gets its name from the magnificent golden-hued sandstone cliffs.Adjacent to the park is the Basotho Cultural Village, which showcases both historical and contemporatry aspects of the Sotho culture, which straddels both the Free State and the adjacent kingdom of Lesotho.Small towns, such as Clarens, are idyllic little hideaways with a significant population of artists, crafters and other rat-race refugees, and many lovely old houses are built from the glowing golden sandstone.The Ash River, which tumbles into the eastern Free State from the mountains of Lesotho, has some of the most dependabel white water rafting in South Africa. There is excellent fly fising in the Eastern Highlands – both for trout and the far more interesting indigenous yellow fish, which is found in abundance in the huge Sterkfontein Dam.The small farming town of Marquard is the centre of the cherry growing area, and is a mountain biking destination of note. Every November in Ficksburg – another small farming town with pretensions to becoming a hip spot – throws a cherry festival. It’s an excuse for the local people to see a few outsiders as the huge band of gypsy traders that travel from festival to festival turn up in force. You may – if you’re lucky – even find a few cherries.The northern boundary of the province is the Vaal River, which supports some fun rafting trips, particularly near the town of Parys. Parys, which is the Afrikaans, version of Paris, is a great little town, with excellent coffee shops, loads of arty crafty outlets and – it must have something to do with the name – a good number of fashion designers. Close to Parys is the Vredefort Dome, which is South Africa’s newest world heritage site.It’s the site of an ancent meteorite impact, the scars of which are still discernable. As well as the spectacular, rather rugged terrain, which is as a result of the impact, attractions here include some small game farms, hiking trails and some pretty mean mountain biking trails. Bloemfontein, the capital of the Free State, is a pleasant small city with lots of open space and some interesting museums. So there is loads to do in the Free State, but bear in mind that it’s all pretty low key and laid back.This is still the agricultural heartland of South Africa – a place where things should not be rushed.
Halloween arrives on October 31st every year, and with it comes excitement for all. There are the parties, the decorations, the festivities, the laughs, and of course the costumes. Whether you view Halloween as scary or humorous, or maybe a bit of both, we can all agree that it is an enjoyable holiday. Popularity and participation seems to swell each year. Initially a holiday for children only, Halloween has become the holiday for everyone. Adults spend more time and more money each year preparing for this big day. As a matter of fact, Halloween is quickly becoming an acceptable holiday season versus just a one day activity. Halloween has surged in popularity holding its own right up there with Christmas. With all the hustle and bustle of party preparation, costume construction, and decorating, the question arises regarding Halloween being declared a national holiday. Halloween is a day of fun and the closure of federal and state buildings, businesses, offices, and schools may not be such a bad idea.Halloween is traced back to a ritual of honoring the dead over 2000 years ago. Initially called All Hallows Eve, it falls on the final day of the celtic calendar which is, of course, October 31st. This is also the eve of All Saints Day which is a Christian holiday honoring the saints. Over the centuries, there were many traditions revolving around All Hallows Eve. These Halloween traditions varied greatly among the many cultures that celebrated it. The tradition of gift giving is a spinoff from the Celts who believed the souls of dead people roamed the streets at night. Many of the souls and spirits were thought to be unfriendly, the gifts and treats were left outside to pacify those that were evil, grant health for people in their family, and ensure next year’s crops would be abundant. This custom eventually evolved into today’s trick-or-treating from door to door involving children dressed as ghosts and goblins eagerly awaiting the treats from the doorstep.From a commercial standpoint, the USA far exceeds any other nation in sales of Halloween costumes, Halloween decorations, party supplies, and other Halloween themed merchandise. Although it’s difficult to pin down exact sales figures regarding this holiday, it is conservatively estimated by some analysts that Halloween may eventually catch up to Christmas in terms of dollars spent annually. Past estimates have been as high as five billion dollars for recent Halloween seasons which would still rank it behind other gift giving holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, as well as religious holidays like Easter. As for future growth, the buzz with Halloween, especially with the adult consumers, is the spending itself.Store-bought decorations in particular can be expensive. Some Halloween retailers even go as far as selling full size coffins and animatronic, robot-like, life-sized figures. These realistic props can cost hundreds and even thousands of US dollars. Combine this type of Halloween enthusiasm with national costume sales and the numbers can add up very quickly and continue to grow even in a slowing economy. This commercial explosion is a far cry from decades gone by where local retailers would carry a few select cookie-cutter boxed costumes, some Halloween themed candy, and some plastic pumpkins to carry the loot. The only thing lacking at this point in time would be some type of large scale gift exchanging tradition which is the common denominator in driving retail sales during the holidays.Overall, the possibility of Halloween being proclaimed a national holiday is still only a pipe dream for Halloween enthusiasts. At the time of this writing, there has been no formal request made and my research concluded that no organization has taken the initiative to even begin the process. Commercial success is alone not enough to earn national holiday status. Halloween appears as though it may remain nothing more than a fun-filled day (or night) for both children and adults wishing to celebrate this centuries-old tradition in their own way.
The drilling technology revolution now sweeping the country has already turned America into the world’s leading natural gas producer, and by next year will make us number one in oil production as well. The economic benefits are being felt far and wide.But not in New York, which has essentially decided to sit this one out.This is quite a turnaround for the self-proclaimed Empire State, where economic progress was once almost a religion. In the 1820s the Erie Canal made New York Harbor the portal to America’s heartland; it vaulted Manhattan past Boston and Philadelphia to become the nation’s commercial center. Later the state capitalized on railroads that used gentle routes across the Appalachians, on abundant hydropower from Niagara Falls and elsewhere, and on forests, farmland and fisheries that supported a vibrant rural life. Downstate, New Yorkers built an intricate web of subways, tunnels, bridges and highways to bind five counties into one great city, and to bind that city to its suburbs. One of New York’s leading personalities of the mid-20th century was Robert Moses, known as the “master builder.”But Moses’ approach was to bulldoze opposition to his projects the same way he bulldozed the earth on which he built them. Partly in reaction to that aggressive approach, New York today is, along with California, the theological center of American NIMBYism. Some projects still manage to get built downstate, where profits from the service economy are robust enough to overcome the drag of endless what’s-in-it-for-me demands. But most of upstate New York has devolved from an Industrial Revolution powerhouse to an economic backwater. A few cutesy places scratch out a living on tourism and servicing the vacation-home crowd. Meanwhile, cities from Poughkeepsie to Buffalo struggle to stay relevant.This is the backdrop against which we should view, with considerable sadness but little surprise, the recent court decision that all but ensured New York will only watch its neighbors prosper from energy development.The Court of Appeals, New York’s highest court, upheld zoning laws that effectively ban hydraulic fracturing and other energy development in the upstate towns of Dryden and Middlefield. Because fracking is both an industrial operation and an instance of local land use, the decision centered on whether the towns overstepped their power to regulate land use by effectively outlawing an entire industry within their borders.The court said the towns were within their rights to do just that. Dryden can – and did – forbid you from looking for gas and minerals on your own land, or from trying to extract them, if you happened to know of any. In the court’s view, this outright prohibition on extracting oil and gas does not actually relate to oil and gas; it relates to land use, and merely happens to prohibit oil and gas incidentally.If this logic seems tortured to you, then you probably agree with the dissenters in the 5-2 ruling. Dissenting Judge Eugene Pigott argued that the zoning laws do relate to the industry they effectively forbid; thus the state law should trump local zoning concerns in this instance.The majority, which evidently found this reasoning unconvincing, observed that the state Legislature is free to overrule these zoning laws, but given New York’s political culture, this is unlikely. So New York will continue to just say no to the energy boom that is reviving the economic fortunes of other parts of rural America, from Appalachia to North Dakota to the desert Southwest.Whether this result is good or bad depends on your point of view. If you are a landowner with property that sits atop the Marcellus Shale, the state’s six-year-old indefinite moratorium on fracking is already depriving you of income that is helping similar landowners make ends meet in nearby states like Pennsylvania and Ohio. You have already been told to wait while Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to order studies before deciding whether to lift the moratorium on fracking that he inherited.Now, even if Cuomo did decide to lift the moratorium, landowners unlucky enough to hold property in towns like Dryden or Middlefield can be (and have been) told that, for all practical energy development purposes, their property might as well be on the moon. Their fellow townsfolk, most of whom presumably do not own valuable mineral rights, can decide that there are no circumstances in which they are prepared to see landowners profit from their property. Energy companies are unlikely to invest much money in mineral leases, exploratory well, pipelines and other infrastructure in a region where those investments can be wiped out on short notice according to local whim. The industry has already turned its focus away from New York thanks to the moratorium.However, if you are one of the non-landowning townspeople, or if you are a vacation homeowner who does most of his living in, say, a rent-stabilized apartment in Greenwich Village, you are no doubt delighted that the Court of Appeals has given your town the power to prohibit mineral development and the inevitable traffic and visual impact such development would bring, as well as the mostly overblown environmental hazards that you fear.In New York, the interests of property owners usually take second place behind the interests of those who don’t own property but who believe they are entitled to benefit from the investments of others. This is why thousands of downstate apartments are still under “emergency” rent regulations first enacted in 1943.The Legislature in Albany could step in to make the state a more appealing candidate for investment by curbing bans like Dryden’s zoning laws. In all likelihood, however, New York will sit back and watch America’s energy revolution happen elsewhere in America.