Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum are digital currencies that allow people to make anonymous transactions electronically without involving third parties, such as banks, credit cards or companies like PayPal. This is appealing because third-party institutions often charge fees and slow down the transfer process, especially for large, international transfers. Cryptocurrencies eliminate the need for a middleman by using a peer-to-peer network that relies on cryptography — the practice of encrypting information so that only select people can read and process it.
These currencies are not only virtual but also decentralized, meaning that no government or central authority controls how much is in circulation. Instead, circulation is monitored by the user community, and transaction data is stored on computers across the world.
How blockchain works
Rather than using intermediaries, cryptocurrencies use blockchain technology to record and verify transactions. A blockchain is a list of all transactions that occur using a cryptocurrency, with each block representing a specific transaction. It can be accessed by anyone using the currency but is encrypted so your private information stays secure.
When you start using a cryptocurrency, you receive a digital wallet and a public and private key. Your private key is a string of letters and numbers that you use to sign a transfer to confirm that it’s from you. Once entered, it becomes encrypted, but other users can use your public key to check that you’ve signed it with your unique signature.
So, how exactly do transactions get recorded on the blockchain? When you enter your private key to send cryptocurrency, it spurs an encryption process that generates a complex math problem. Blockchain users compete to solve the problem by running high-powered computers that eventually find the solution to the algorithm. Solving the algorithm results in a new block being added to the chain.
The users competing to solve algorithms are called miners because the user who solves the problem first is rewarded in new digital coins. Each time a block is added, more cryptocurrency is generated. Mining cryptocurrency thus verifies transactions while rewarding the people responsible for keeping the blockchain updated.
Investing in cryptocurrencies
Financial experts are divided on whether cryptocurrency is the future of money or just a passing fad. In any case, at the moment cryptocurrency is a high-risk investment. Since digital currencies have no fixed worth or government backing, their value is purely speculative and can fluctuate wildly, even within a few days. If you buy cryptocurrency, spend only what you’re prepared to lose.
Instead of buying cryptocurrencies, some experts recommend investing in companies that are developing blockchain technology. Blockchain has applications beyond cryptocurrency, and many people think that even if cryptocurrency doesn’t last, blockchain could transform how we do business in the years to come. If you’re looking for investment opportunities, consider buying stock in companies that are finding new uses for blockchain.
Did you know?
Microsoft, Subway, Expedia and PayPal are some of the major companies that are now accepting certain cryptocurrencies as payment. Customers can pay for goods and services out of their digital wallets when making online purchases.
An introductory guide to cannabis consumption
Cannabis is a plant genus that produces three species of plants: Cannabis indica, Cannabis sativa and Cannabis ruderalis. Most varieties on the market come from indica and sativa plants. Since ruderalis contains only trace amounts of tetrohydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis, it’s rarely grown for commercial use.
It’s often said that indica is more of a nighttime variety that promotes full-body relaxation whereas sativa sharpens your mental focus and provides an energy burst. However, your physiological responses have less to do with the species and more to do with the chemical makeup of the particular plant. Depending on growing conditions and methods, different indicas and sativas have varying high and low percentages of THC and cannobidiol (CBD) — another active ingredient that has calming but not mind-altering effects.
Indica and sativa plants are often crossbred to produce hybrid strains with certain characteristics, such as higher levels of THC for users looking for intense highs or elevated levels of CBD without THC for those using cannabis for medical reasons. When choosing strains, pay attention to percentages of THC and CBD and figure out what ratio of active ingredients works best for you.
Cannabis consumption methods vary. Here are some common ways marijuana is distributed:
• Flowers. Dried cannabis flowers are typically smoked using hand-held pipes, water pipes, hookahs or rolling papers. It’s also possible to vape the flowers with certain types of vaporizers. The effects of the drug are felt immediately.
• Edibles. Though slow to take effect, foods that contain cannabis tend to cause powerful full-body effects. They’re usually made with one cannabis-infused ingredient that’s high in fat, such as butter or olive oil.
• Ingestible oils. These can be ingested like edibles but have the consistency of oil. They can either be eaten or made into digestible capsules.
• Tinctures. The liquid extracts are consumed by placing a few drops underneath the tongue. They’re fast acting and allow for maximum dosage control.
• Topical lotions. Topical products are primarily for medical use. They provide localized relief to tense or sore parts of the body without producing a high.
Before consuming cannabis, research different strains and delivery methods, along with their positive and negative effects, to identify which ones may be right for you.
What to know when adopting a rabbit
If you’re thinking about adopting a rabbit, you need to be ready to make a commitment. These furry creatures need lots of care and attention and have lifespans ranging up to 12 years. Here’s what a pet bunny needs to thrive.
• To be spayed or neutered: rabbits that are sterilized live longer healthier lives, and are easier to train and bond with. Fixing your bunny may also make it less prone to aggressive and destructive behaviors.
• Lots of exercise: your rabbit should be left in its cage while you sleep and while you’re away from home, but make sure it gets lots of time out of its cage to roam around the house and play with you.
• Something to chew: a rabbit’s teeth never stop growing and chewing is how they keep their chompers in check. Give them lots of things to munch on like hay, crunchy veggies, twigs and chew toys. Don’t forget to bunny-proof your house so they don’t gnaw at your furniture and electrical wires.
Rabbits make great pets but require as much maintenance as cats do. As long as you’re prepared to spend time caring for your long-eared friend, you’ll have a wonderful companion for years to come.
The origins of 420
Though there are many stories about where the association of cannabis with the number 420 comes from, it in fact all started with a group of teenage boys who used to hang out together after school in San Rafael, California during the 1970s. The group, who called themselves the Waldos, found out about an abandoned cannabis crop nearby and developed a plan to meet after school at 4:20 p.m. to search for it. Soon, the Waldos started meeting up regularly to smoke and drive around looking for the deserted crop. The code for their secret missions was 420.
Although the Waldos never found the cannabis plants, 420 became slang for smoking marijuana among youth in the area, and in particular with fans of the Grateful Dead — a band that embraced cannabis culture and whose members had ties to San Rafael. Soon, the term spread to cannabis users around the world.
Today, 420 is an unofficial holiday devoted to celebrating cannabis culture that occurs annually on April 20 (the date was selected due to its numerical representation, 4/20). Each year, people across the globe stage demonstrations to support the legalization of marijuana and host festivals and events featuring cannabis in its many forms.
Agricultural equipment operators: the force that powers our farms
Equipment operators play a vital role in the farming industry. They operate and maintain the equipment used in virtually every stage of modern agricultural production, from the combines used to harvest crops to the loading machines that prepare them for market. Agricultural equipment operators work with all kinds of farming machinery including tractors, raking equipment, berry pickers, threshers and hay balers. Their important work is essential for tilling soil, planting seeds, fertilizing plants and harvesting crops.
Working with heavy-duty farm equipment requires a unique skillset and specialized training. To be a successful farm machinery operator, you need to have excellent physical coordination and driving skills as well as mechanical aptitude and the ability to make decisions quickly. In short, you need to be good with machines and good with your hands. You should also love spending time outdoors.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average wage for an agricultural equipment operator is $15.12 an hour.
If you think you have what it takes to become a farm equipment operator, there are certification programs available that combine classroom instruction with hands-on experience. In these courses, you’ll acquire a thorough knowledge of how various machines work and learn safe operating and maintenance techniques along with tips for how to maximize machine productivity. Becoming a certified farm equipment operator can improve your chances of landing a job at a competitive salary.
Cannabis in pop culture
Here are five of the most iconic depictions of cannabis in pop culture from the last few decades:
1. Cheech and Chong
Deservedly number one on the list, this comedy duo made their love for cannabis the hub of many of their celebrated stand-up routines, studio recordings and feature films during the 1970s and 1980s.
2. The music of Bob Marley
3. Fast Times at Ridgemont High
This 1982 coming-of-age comedy featuring Sean Penn as Jeff Spicoli, a perpetually stoned surfer, has become a cannabis culture classic.
This Showtime series starring Mary-Louise Parker as a weed-dealing soccer mom ran for eight seasons and received rave reviews for its darkly comic take on American suburbia.
5. Pineapple Express
This 2008 stoner comedy follows the antics of a processer server and his weed dealer after they witness a murder and flee to escape a drug lord. Pineapple Express is the name of a cannabis strain, but it’s unclear which came first — the movie or the strain.
Swinging into golf season
For golf lovers, spring is synonymous with swing. As soon as the snow has melted, they’re reaching for their clubs. However, before teeing off, golfers need to get back their groove. Prior to heading onto the links this season, make sure you properly stretch, check your equipment and get some practice in.
Pre-season stretching and exercise
Most people become less active during winter. Any return to athletic activity after a lull needs to be done gradually and should involve stretching. Even if you were active last winter, stretching remains imperative: given that your muscles haven’t executed the specific motions involved in the golf swing for months, they can injure easily if not properly stretched.
The most important areas to stretch are the wrists, fore¬arms, triceps, shoulders, neck, lower back, glutes and hamstrings.
As for pre-season exercise, Golf Digest stresses the importance of strengthening your glutes. These large muscles not only stabilize your golf posture but also protect the lumbar spine from the stress involved in swinging a golf club repetitively. Some exercises that help train your glutes are squats, glute bridges and deadlifts.
Getting your gear ready
Golf might well involve more equipment than any other sport. Before starting your season, you’ll want to make sure your gear is up to snuff. Inspect your clubs, grips, shoes and the individual cleats on your shoes to make sure everything is course-ready.
Additionally, ensure you have what you need in the way of golf apparel. If you’re looking to hit the links straightaway, make sure you have clothing designed for nippy spring weather.
Finally, make certain your golf bag is well stocked. That means balls, tees, markers, an emergency kit and the rest.
Getting your swing back
Don’t expect to be at the top of your game right from the get-go. Before heading out on the course, you’re going to want to visit the driving range. It may be tempting to unsheathe that driver and start letting them fly; however, the best method is always to start with the wedges and work your way up to the big guns.
Having done all this, you should be back in the swing of things and ready to venture out onto the tee box.