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Presenting – Ben Viccari – A Lifetime Dedicated to Multicultural Communications

Interesting people are everywhere. I met Ben Viccari a few weeks ago at the initial screening of a documentary called “Small Places – Small Homes”. The documentary profiled the life of four immigrant families who had chosen to settle in small rural Canadian towns and spoke to their unique challenges and adjustment experiences. During the party afterwards I was introduced to Ben Viccari, a distinguished writer and journalist, and a pioneer of Canadian multiculturalism.

Ben is a fascinating individual – at almost 90 years of age he is in the process of creating his second television documentary and involved in multiple projects at the same time. Ben has decades of public relations experience and during the last quarter century also became involved in ethnic publications. At present Ben is the President of the Canadian Ethnic Media Association which speaks to issues of immigrant settlement, heritage preservation and the ethnic communities’ role in nation building.

He is also a regular commentator on Omni Television and runs an online publication called “Canscene” which introduces the reader to multicultural issues in Canada. In this article Ben shares with us his life experience throughout his early years, the Second World War, and his almost 60 years in Canada. He also gives us insight into his unique views on Canada’s role as a potential model nation in terms of how we deal with immigration and immigrant settlement, notions that are very dear to my own heart.

I was amazed by Ben’s energy and creativity and enjoyed the time we spent in a little restaurant along Bloor Street, learning from a man whose life experience spans almost a century, a man whose energy, creativity and broad-mindedness captivate.

1. Please tell us about yourself and your background.

I am a Canadian well qualified, I believe, to speak for multiculturalism and diversity through my mixed parentage, early education at a London school with an international student body, travel abroad, followed in Canada since the late 1940s by a diverse career in communications much of which has placed me in contact with Canadians from a wide variety of origins and backgrounds

Ben at the provincial archive, Winnipeg with the complete issues of
the Icelandic Framfari, first ethnic newspaper published in Manitoba,
in a scene from The Third Element

2. You grew up in England as the child of Italian immigrants. Please tell us more about that.

My father, an Italian immigrant to Britain, met and married my mother, an Englishwoman. They had two children, my younger brother John and me, seven years his senior. Our delight was to grow up in a home in which husband and wife enjoyed mutual respect for each other’s national traits. We lived in an ambiance of being loved and in turn, loving.

In those days, marriage to a foreign citizen who was not naturalized meant wife and children were Italian nationals and a sense of duality became natural to us. We ate chicken cacciatore and olives, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and rejoiced when Dad came home with sticks ot torrone, Italian nougat bought at Barale and Crippa an Italian grocery in the heart of Soho. Also their tangy salami. And while my Italian grandparents were still alive, they mailed boxes of home made salami, soppressata and goat cheese to us.

3. Your working life originally started out in the barber shop of your father. Please tell us more about that.

From childhood, I loved being read to and even made up my own stories. I remember my mother recounting that I had created a fictional country that I frequently “visited.” It was peopled entirely by cats and I called it “Abloo Labloo Land.” Even before I started kindergarten I knew the alphabet and could detect certain printed words and by seven sensational papers like News of the World were hidden away from me.

My favourite subjects were English, French and History and not being much of a sportsman or gymnast I reveled in opportunities to participate in school dramatics and class performances of Shakespeare.

There was a brief fling at pro theatre when at 15 I joined a troupe of youngsters at the spacious Wimbledon home of the Thursby-Pelhams. The husband was a prominent English lawyer and his wife born in Mexico but raised in England had brought up her children Lola and Marshall in a theatrical atmosphere. She had written a children’s Christmas play in which a school is magically transported to all corners of the world.

I played Ronnie, the third juvenile lead after Lola and Marshall and the famous music hall comedian Harry Tate was engaged to play the school teacher. By the time the show was sufficiently rewritten, rehearsed and ready to go, no London theatres were available and the idea of a West End production abandoned, but we gave a few performances in aid of charity at town halls and other locations with stage facilities. I remain a ham at heart and during my army years, organized a number of shows performed by soldiers.

My reverence for the spoken and written word is perhaps what has most governed my life. I attended Pitman’s College where I learned typing and shorthand skills. I was disappointed that I could never get into journalism even at the entry level of copy boy or some other menial job. Oddly enough, my father encouraged me in my search and never insisted on my becoming a hairdresser.

At age 17, I became a hairdresser feeling I owed it to my father who had tried so hard to get me introductions to press people. I was first apprenticed to a large salon at Liverpool St. Station and then attended hairdressing schools.

My father remained a barber but had excellent management skills and rose to be manager of the ladies and gents salon at the world renowned Claridges hotel. In 1935, he opened a small salon of his own and two years later a much larger business on Cork Street, in the heart of the Saville Row district. The clientele included the aristocracy, the greats of politics and diplomacy and many people from the arts and entertainment world: Anton Walbrook, Valerie Hobson, Jan Masaryk, Sir David Lean, Sir Arthur Bliss, Alexander Korda, to name a few. The window of the salon carried the Royal Warrant, the official coat of arms of the House of Windsor, granted because one of Dad’s personal clients was a Royal Duke — I can’t remember which one.

I worked at the entry level at the Cork Street establishment and then found jobs in the suburbs, but my heart was never in the craft deeply enough to take it to the art that my father and his contemporaries raised it. Today, in the light of the fate that befell millions it seems sinful to say that I joined the army with a sense of relief.

4. You were also fighting for the British Army during World War II. What was your role and where were you stationed?

I was able to claim British citizenship at age 21, along with my mother and thus eligible to join the army. Although I would have been conscripted anyway, I was able to volunteer and so to choose the Royal Artillery rather than the PBI (Poor Bloody Infantry.)

I was one of the few people of my age to be fortunate enough to own and drive a car, which I’d been given for my 21st birthday, so I automatically became a driving instructor at the helm of a dual control vintage Rolls Royce which to my chagrin was speed-governed to 30 mph.

That period lasted from October ’39 to March ’40 when I was shipped to France with a draft of reinforcements, not to replace casualties for this was the period of the Phony War and two mighty armies faced each other across the Maginot Line, only firing token shots occasionally. Many troops were already going home to England on leave and as they trickled off, some of us were sent to the front lines to replace them in their activity.

New Years’ Day, 1948. Why Bill McVean was holding his golf club, neither of us can remember, but in my own memory, this was and still is a landmark of my life here — to enjoy such hospitality so soon after arriving in Canada.

5. Please tell us some of the stories you remember most from your time during WWII. What was your personal experience during this crucial time in history?

The phony war ended May 10, when the panzers came pouring into Belgium and Holland and the front line troops were eventually driven back to the sands of Dunkirk. In desperation it seems, the British Army rallied the troops who were well out of harm’s way during the Dunkirk evacuation — mostly raw replacements like ourselves and formed them into impromptu units like “E” Field Battery to which I was posted as a driver.

We move up from Nantes where we were formed into a unit and headed toward Paris, where it was assumed we’d defend the city along with the French until reinforcements arrived from Britain. This became impossible, we leaned later, since the troops who’d been fortunate enough to be evacuated from Dunkirk had few arms and there weren’t enough ready in srmy storage in England.

When we reached a certain point miles short of Paris and dug gun pits it was with dismay that we witnessed what seemed like the entire French Army in retreat; south they went in weary dejection, leaving Paris to the Nazis. Then we heard the capital had fallen and Italy had entered the war against us. We had all of us — officers and men — now become true companions, and apart from a few light hearted remarks to buoy up my spirits after Mussolini’s decision, I sensed neither prejudice nor concern at my being one half Italian.

My lot was to drive one of the two senior lieutenants in the unit on reconnaissance of the neighbourhoods at which we would build gun sites, contact supply depots for food and try to locate command headquarters.

It is difficult to describe the fluid state of affairs when often, not even our commanding officer knew nothing of the overall Army plans. On one occasion, we thought we were being strafed by enemy aircraft but the commotion was a dogfight and suddenly from our cover in a small stand of trees, we saw a Britis
h fighter plane ploughing through the earth. Two of our fellows dashed into the open to find the pilot alive and well except for a sprained ankle. He was dragged into cover, fed and driven to the nearest RAF airfield remaining in France.

On another occasion, Lieutenant Jack Lowery and I were driving on a rural road when coming rapidly toward us was a strange looking vehicle which we suddenly realized was a German armoured car. In a flash, we both saw a side road to our left, and swinging the steering wheel madly, we turned into it on two wheels and drove like hell for several miles. We’ll never know why the Germans didn’t fire at us or attempt pursuit. Maybe they thought our light van was one of theirs.

And so it went for eight more days. Dig in, await orders, and then retreat until finally we arrived at Cherbourg where the guns were loaded onto a ship. The vehicles were driven into a field outside the city where they would be destroyed. However, as driver of a lighter vehicle, I was one of ten who were told that remnants of a company of Cameron Highlanders were stranded outside Caen, some 90 miles to the north of Cherbourg and we’d have to go back to pick them up.

By now the roads were clogged with refugees moving south, thousands on foot, some travelling on bicycles, a lucky few in vehicles, even a hearse. The going was rough when we set out before daybreak but we made the rendezvous just after noon only to find no Cameron Highlanders. We drove around the area, found nobody and assumed the Scotties had been picked by others. As a short cut, we decided to drive through the south end of Caen, which wasn’t such a good idea since we heard the rattle of German gunfire as the Nazis poured into Caen. Fortunately they must have paused to regroup since we were able to leave unhampered.

The road back to Cherbourg was even more difficult and eventful than the road up to Caen. We did manage to find a few British soldiers going it on foot along with the other refugees but as we crawled back to the seaport we were machine gunned twice in 15 minutes by a lone Stuka. Each time refugees and ourselves threw ourselves into roadside ditches. We searched for dead and wounded but couldn’t’ find a scratch.

We reached Cherbourg in the last hours of daylight and were ushered into the hold of a cargo ship. I lay down on the bare metal and slept like a log, waking to find myself on a cloudless June morning in Southampton harbour

‘E” Field Battery was quickly disbanded to the regrets of the entire group. Jack Lowery had been promoted to captain and we were dispatched hither and yon.

Within three weeks I found myself drafted into the Oxfordshire Yeomanry, an anti-tank regiment assigned to garrison duty in Northern Ireland. From then on, after the few weeks of high excitement in France, life seemed anti-climactic and I whiled away boredom by writing an account of the three months I’d spent in that beautiful, doomed country. After the manuscript was typed, I submitted it to a few publishers but by then so many first-hand accounts had already been published and other conflicts — Greece, the Middle East — had broken out and my MSS was stale news. But I never regretted the confidence that completion of the 30,000-word book gave me.

Other wartime memories are legion and would take a book to fill. My 36 months in Northern Ireland gave me some insights into the “troubles” that began nearly 30 years later. Back in England promoted to bombardier (corporal) I specialized in administering spare parts supply to the regiment’s vehicles until one fortunate day I was dispatched to the land of my fathers.

I was posted to Italy as a reinforcement but my knowledge of Italian soon got me special status wherever I went until eventually I was posted to the Military Mission to the Italian Army as an interpreter/translator with the rank of staff sergeant. It was fairly routine work but I was in Rome, a city l already knew, and one in which by now were it not for my love for Canada, I would otherwise have found some way to settle.

6. What happened when you returned to England after the war?

My first job on being discharged from the Military Mission to the Italian Army in 1946: was as a reader with Paramount Pictures’ London office, feeding the great maw of Hollywood with synopses of new books. Then to the fast-growing J. Arthur Rank Organization as a story analyst, where I not only read but saw new plays and foreign-language films. I was also earmarked for a training program with Rank’s junior production unit, Highbury Studio. My ambition then was to become a writer-director.

Rank was seeking a vehicle for an English production featuring Hollywood great Frederic March and his wife, Florence and I was asked to write a treatment of a short story by Rudyard Kipling about an American industrialist and his wife and how they become enamoured of rural life in England. Which I did, to some praise, but unfortunately the producer chose Christopher Columbus as their vehicle.

Disaster arrived in the form of the “Bogart or Bacon” tax with the Labour government slapping a 70 percent tax on all Hollywood films. Instead of bolstering the British film industry, the tax had a reverse effect on Rank, with five British studios. Reciprocal distribution agreements with the U.S film industry went out the window and hundreds of men and women were fired. That included me!

7. Why did you decide to go to Canada and what were your experiences just after your arrival?

No job, no prospect. Rank was the only game in town and for writers, newsprint shortage had reduced newspapers and magazines to shadows of their pre-war selves. Travel held no terrors for me and through meeting Canadians in England, I’d come to see the potential of a “new”country. It was the late Alan Jarvis, an expatriate sculptor who eventually returned to become director of our National Gallery who finally helped me make up my mind.

8. Several people assisted you in the beginning when you came to Canada. Please tell us about that.

I owe my first job to two people. Broadcaster and travel writer Bill McVean and the late Harry Savage, one of the best ever Canadian publicists.

I arrived in Canada December 15, 1947 and reaching Toronto two days later; after finding a room, wrote to Bill Mc Vean in Woodstock who while in the RCAF had been befriended by a family in London. At a farewell party at my cousins’ home I met this couple who insisted I contact Bill. The reply to my letter was a telegram to the effect that I was invited to spend New Year’s with him and his parents. Bill was then a broadcaster/D.J at a station in Wingham and after some wonderful hospitality, on January 2, I started out for Wingham with Bill but heavy snowfall forced us to literally dig our way back to Woodstock for several few miles before the road was cleared sufficiently.

9. How did your career progress once you were in Canada? How did you originally get into the media business?

Bill knew Harry Savage , a brilliant Toronto publicist and writer, and back in Toronto, I met with Harry who gave me several contacts. I picked the least likely job first, and landed it! within three weeks of arriving here, I was working at Turnbull Elevator Company Limited Company writing brochures and creating a house organ. I was subsequently appointed its first public relations officer.

So the line passed from McVean to Savage to Gordon Turnbull, proud of the fact that his all-Canadian company was second only in sales here to the mighty international Otis Elevator. Gordon was, for his background (son of a Scottish immigrant engineer) an extraordinarily broad-minded man. When he asked me the origin of my name
I felt no discomfort at his attitude. He expounded on the need for large-scale immigration to keep Canada out of American hands.

At the Turnbull Company, I was surrounded by engineers, not among the most imaginative members of society, but Gordon — himself an engineer –asked me how I thought his company’s name could achieve greater prestige. In the mid 50s, self-service elevators were being introduced into large office buildings and we had to steal a march on our competitor, Otis.

I had one of those flashes of imagination that have helped me on many occasions. I said “Why not introduce the world’s first elevator hostess? Dressed smartly in a distinctive uniform like an airline stewardess, “Miss Turnbull” would stand in lobbies of large buildings and help people adjust to self-service travel. He mulled over the idea for five mites as I trepidated, and then proceeded to call the general manager, the chief engineer and one or two other executives into his office. Gordon wasn’t feared by his staff, but as he asked me to explain my idea it was clear to the others that he approved. And so Miss Turnbull was born. On her first appearance she made the Toronto newspapers and television. By the time Miss Turnbull had appeared in several new buildings, I received a president’s award from the Canadian Public Relations Society.

For five years, I was part of the Sidney S. Brown School of Radio Drama. Having first attended class in 1948 because I wanted to get a handle on radio playwriting, I found myself as a teacher and genial assistant to Syd Brown, who remained a close friend until his death in 1979. Together we produced Sunday night plays featuring the students, first on CHUM, then on CKFH and finally back to CHUM. Classes were always in the evenings and so didn’t conflict with my daytime job.

Because of Miss Turnbull, I had also attracted some job offers, but when General Foods Limited, Canadian subidiary of the giant White Plains Corporation — Jello, Birdseye, Post cereals, Maxwell House coffee — showed interest, I couldn’t resist and so in 1956 parted with the Turnbull company.

Important Information About Operating Bucket Trucks In Canada!

The opportunities for being a bucket truck driver and operator are as wide open as the North American continent. Any United States operator of such vehicles that is looking for a greener pasture or newer vistas can certainly rely upon those operating skills to get a unique opportunity. One of the most promising destinations to pursue is right across the United States border in Canada.

Temporary Opportunities

Canada has a progressive economy with close ties to the United States. Starting a bucket truck business in Alberta, for example, could be very fulfilling because there are many opportunities and jobs available. Realistically, all of the potential uses of this versatile vehicle can be used in all the provinces of Canada, including locations with lucrative temporary opportunities that occur in the aftermath of seasonal summer thunderstorms in Winnipeg or winter snowstorms in Quebec.

The electric utility and telecommunications industries in Canada face the same difficulties in needing many extra vehicles to help repair the damage brought by these blasts from seasonal storms. For a bucket truck owner/operator, it’s just a matter of paying attention to the news, locating the affected communities and offering needed services to the local governmental agencies and utilities.

Temporary License Usage

So how can the operator of these vehicles in the United States transition that undertaking to Canadian soil? In terms of licenses, for a temporary assignment the two countries have worked out an agreement to recognize each others commercial permits for a limited period of time. Of course, it will be up to each operator to determine how long their authority is valid and at what point consideration will have to be given to getting a Canadian commercial license.

Physical Requirements: Engine

In terms of physical requirements, consideration will have to be given to the time of year that the truck will be operated and the exact location inside of Canada as well. The weather conditions particularly in areas like Whitehorse or Dawson tend to be colder, particularly during the winter months. Any time or location near Baker Lake that would bring this aspect into play will require an engine that operates on gasoline as opposed to diesel fuel. The reason for this is that diesel fuel can actually freeze which would completely stop any operations for a diesel-fueled bucket truck. So conversion to a gasoline-powered engine may be a possibility to consider only if the time and location in Canada will be that cold. Normally, working in Regina or Toronto would not necessitate such a commitment.

Physical Requirements: Outriggers and Brakes

The terrain of the Canadian countryside will also be a part of the overall assessment of bucket truck operations in another country. Aside from the cold temperature, some parts of Canada such as Vancouver or Victoria on the West Coast of British Columbia are known for frequent rain that makes the ground soft and not an optimal place to deploy outriggers. It will be wise to contemplate having stronger outriggers that would cover a wider area for better stability. For any travel or work in the mountains of Canada such as at Edmonton, a strong braking system would be very beneficial when covering the steep slopes of those Canadian Rocky Mountains.

Canada is a promising destination for bucket truck owners/operators who are looking for new challenges and greener pastures. With the right training and skills, it is possible to survive becoming a successful commercial vehicle owner/operator in this northern location. Outfit that truck as noted above to suit a new environment across that border of the United States. Most of the requirements to operate that vehicle are not that difficult – good luck with operating your bucket truck in Canada!

Introduction to the Grain Complex

Temperature, precipitation, and the changing needs of customers all contribute to the supply and demand for commodities like wheat, corn, or soybeans. All these changes greatly affect the price of commodities, and the grain markets are essential to managing these price swings and providing global benchmark prices.

Anyone looking to invest in futures should know that the risk of loss is substantial. This type of investment is not suitable for everyone. An investor could lose more than originally invested. Only risk capital should be used. Risk capital is the amount of money that an individual can afford to invest, which, if lost would not affect their lifestyle.

What are grain futures contracts?

A grain futures contract is a legally binding agreement for delivery of grain in the future at an agreed upon price. The contracts are standardized by a futures exchange as to quantity, quality, time, and place of delivery. Only the price is variable.

There are two main market participants in the futures markets: hedgers and speculators:
Hedgers use the futures markets for the purpose of risk management. Hedgers have some risks associated with the price or availability of the actual underlying commodity. Futures transactions and positions have the express purpose of mitigating those risks. Speculators generally have no use for the commodities in which they trade. Speculators willingly accept the risk in return for the prospect of dramatic gains.

Advantages of Futures Contracts

Since they trade at the Chicago Board of Trade, futures contracts offer more financial leverage, flexibility, and financial integrity than trading the commodities themselves.

Financial leverage is the ability to trade and manage a high market value product with a fraction of the total value. Trading futures contracts is done with performance margin. It requires considerably less capital than the physical market. Leverage provides speculators a higher risk/higher return investment.

For example, one futures contract for soybeans represents 5000 bushels of soybeans. Therefore, the dollar value of this contract is 5000 times the price per bushel. If the market is trading at $5.70/bushel, the value of the contract is $28,500 ($5.70 x 5000 bushels.). Based on current exchange margin rules, the margin required for one contract of soybeans is only $1013. So for $1013, one can leverage $28,500 worth of soybeans.

Advantages of Grain Contracts
There are numerous unique qualities inherent to the grain since it is a tangible commodity. First, when compared to other complexes like the energies, grains have a lower margin making it easy for speculators to participate. Also, in general grains are not one of your bigger contracts in terms of total dollar amount, hence the lower margins.

The fundamentals in the grains are fairly straightforward. Like most tangible commodities, supply and demand will determine the price as well as weather factors.

With the new side by side (pit and electronic) trading, entries into the market are coming down rapidly.

Contract Specifications
There are seven different grain products traded at the Chicago Board of Trade: Corn, Oats, Wheat, Soybeans, Rice, Soybean Meal, and Soybean Oil.

There are similar grain products that trade around the world: Minneapolis, Winnipeg, Hong Kong, Brazil and India to name a few.

Corn
Corn is used not only for human consumption, but also for feed for livestock such as cattle and pigs. Also, higher energy prices have made people look at utilizing corn for ethanol production.

The corn contract is for 5,000 bushels or roughly 127 metric tons. For example, when corn is trading at $2.50/bushel, the contract has a value of $12,500 (5000 bushels x $2.50 = $12,500). A trader that is long $2.50 and sells at $2.60 will have made a profit of $500 (2.60 – 2.50 = $0.10, $0.10 x 5000 = $500). Conversely, a trader who is long at 2.50 and sells at 2.40 will have lost $500. So every penny difference equals a move up or down of $50.
The pricing unit of corn is dollars and cents with the minimum tick size of $0.0025, (quarter of a cent), which equals $12.50 per contract. Although the market may not trade in smaller units, it most certainly can trade in full cents during ‘fast’ markets.

The most active months for corn delivery are March, May, July, September, and December.
Position limits are set by the exchange to ensure orderly markets. A position limit is the maximum number of contract a single participant can hold. Hedgers and speculators have different limits. Corn has a maximum daily price movement of 20 cents, up or down.

Corn traditionally will have more volume than any other grain market. Also, corn will be less volatile than beans and wheat.

Oats
Oats are not only used to feed livestock and humans, but are also used in the production of many industrial products like solvents, and plastics.

An oats contract, like corn, wheat, and soybeans is for delivery of 5000 bushels. It moves in the same $50/penny increments as corn. For example, if a trader was long oats at $1.40 and sold at $1.45, they would have made 5 cents per bushel or $250 per contract (1.45 – 1.40 = 5 cents, $0.05 x 5000 = $250).
Oats also trades in quarter cent increments.

Oats for delivery are traded March, May, July, September, and December like corn. And like corn, oats also has position limits. The maximum price movement of oats is 20 cents.

Oats is a difficult market to trade because it has less daily volume than any other market in the grain complex. Also it daily range is fairly small.

Wheat
Not only is wheat used for animal feed, but also in the production of flour for breads, pastas, etc..

A wheat contract is for delivery of 5000 bushels of wheat. Wheat is traded in dollars and cents and has a tick size of a quarter cent, like much of the other products traded at the CBOT.

The most active months for delivery of wheat according to volume and open interest are March, May, July, September, and December. Position limits also apply to wheat. The daily price limit for Wheat is 30 cents.

Next to soybeans, wheat is a fairly volatile market with big daily ranges. Since it is so widely used, there can huge daily swings. When I was working on the floor in the grain, it was not uncommon to have one piece of news move this market limit up or down in a hurry.

Soybeans
Soybeans are the most popular oilseed product with an almost limitless range of uses from food to industrial products.
The soybean contract is also traded in the 5000-bushel contract size. It trades in dollar and cents, like corn and wheat, but usually is the most volatile of all the contracts. The tick size is one-quarter cent (or $12.50) like the other contracts.

The most active months for soybeans are January, March, May, July, August, September, and November.
Position limits apply here as well. The maximum price limit for beans is 50 cents.

Beans have the widest range of any the markets in the grain room. Also, generally it will be two to three dollars more per bushel than wheat or corn.

Soybean Oil
Besides being the most widely used edible oil in the US, soybean oil has uses in the bio-diesel industry that are becoming increasingly important.

The bean oil contract is for 60,000 lbs., which is different than the rest of the grain contracts. Bean oil also trades in cents per pound. For example, let’s say bean oil is trading at $0.25 per pound. That gives a total value for the contract of $15,000 (0.25 x 60000 = $15,000). And let’s say you go long at $0.2500 and sell at $0.2650; you have made $900 ($0.2650 – $0.25 = $0.015 profit, $0.015 x 60000 = $900). If the market had gone down $0.015 to .2350, you would lose $900.

The minimum price fluctuation for bean oil is $0.0001, or one one-hundredth of a cent, which equals $6 per contract.
The most active months for delivery are January, March, May, July, August, September, October, and December.
Position limits are enforced for this market as well. 2 cents is the price limit for bean oil.

Soymeal
There are numerous uses for soymeal that such as baby food, beer, and noodles. Soymeal is the dominant protein in animal feed.

The meal contract is for 100 short tons or 91 metric tons. Soymeal is traded in dollars and cents. For example, the dollar value of one contract of Soymeal, when trading at $165 per ton, is $16,500 ($165 x 100 tons = $16,500).
The tick size for soymeal is $0.10 cents or $10 per tick. For example, if the current market price is $165.60, and the market moves to $166, that would equal a move of $400 per contract ($166 – $165.60 = $0.40, $0.40 x 100 = $400).

Soymeal is delivered on January, March, May, July, August, September, October, and December.
There are position limits on this contract as well. The daily price limit for Soymeal is $2.

Rice
Not only is rice used in foods, but also in fuels, fertilizers, packing material, and snacks.

The rice contract is 2,000 hundred weight (cwt) or hundred pounds. Rice is also traded in dollars and cents. For example, if rice is trading at $10/cwt, the total dollar value of the contract would be $20,000 ($10 x 2000 = $20000).
The minimum tick size for rice is $0.005 (one half of a cent) per hundred weight, or $10 per contract. For example, if the market was trading at $10.05/cwt and it moved to $9.95/cwt, that is a change of $200 (10.05 – 9.95 = $0.10, $0.10 x 2,000 cwt = $200).

Rice is delivered in January, March, May, July, September, and November.
Position limits apply in rice as well.

The daily price limit for rice is 50 cents.

Hedgers and Speculators
The primary function of any commodity futures market is to provide a centralized marketplace for those who have an interest in buying/selling physical commodities at some time in the future. There are a lot of hedgers in the grains markets due to the many different producers and consumers of these products. These include but are not limited to soybean crushers, food processors, grain and oil seed producers, livestock producers, grain elevators, and merchandisers.

Using Futures and Basis to Hedge
The main premise upon which hedgers rely is that although the movement in cash prices and futures market prices may not be exactly identical, it can be close enough that hedgers can lessen their risk by taking an opposite position in the futures markets. By taking an opposite position, gains in one market can offset losses in another. This way, hedgers are able to set price levels for cash market transactions that will take place several months down the line.

For example, let’s consider a soybean farmer. While their soybean crop is in the ground in the spring, the farmer is looking to sell his crop in October after harvest. In market lingo, they are long a cash market position. The fear for the farmer is that prices will go down before they can sell their crop. In order to offset losses from a possible decline in prices, the farmer will sell a corresponding number of bushels in the futures market now and will buy them back later when it is time to sell the crop in the cash market. Any losses resulting from a decline in the cash market price can be partially offset by a gain from the short in the futures market. This is known as a short hedge.

Food processors, grain importers, and other buyers of grain products would initiate a long hedge to protect themselves from rising grain prices. Since they will be buying the product, they are short a cash market position. They would buy futures contracts in order to protect themselves from rising cash prices.

Usually there will be a slight difference between the cash prices to the futures prices. This is due to variables such as freight, handling, storage, transport, and quality of the product as well as local supply and demand factors. This price difference between cash and futures prices is known as basis. The main consideration for hedgers concerning basis is whether it will strengthen or weaken. The final outcome of a hedge can depend on basis. Most hedgers will take historical basis data in consideration as well as current market expectations.

In general, hedging with futures can help the future buyer or seller of a commodity because it can help protect them from adverse price movements. Hedging with futures can help to determine an approximate price range months in advance of the actual physical purchase/sale. This is possible because cash and futures markets tend to move in tandem, and gains in one market tend to offset losses in another.

Making Decisions Key to Business Growth

In the past week, I’ve had to make some key decisions. Some were surrounding life, some around money, others around business. What I realized is that each decision shapes my future. Let me walk you through some of these decisions and how it impacts my life now and in the future.

Last week I spoke at a seminar at the Public Library. While the Adult Programmer was setting up the computer and overhead, the laptop she was using started to count down to restart since updates had been installed. The computer said it would restart in 16 minutes, and when I checked the clock there was 26 minutes before the speaking engagement would start. Looked like it would have 10 minutes to spare, so the decision to let it restart (and we tried to hit ‘cancel’ which it wouldn’t do). As time came for the event to start, the laptop still hadn’t restarted. Obviously the computer’s 16 minutes and my 16 minutes were two different amounts of time. As a backup, we had our laptop booted up and ready to go.

Now I could have said, “to heck with it” and not used the PowerPoint presentation I had prepared. And I would have been fine with that. But I did recognize that when speaking to Adult Learners, a variety of learning styles are typical with a group, so it was important to me to provide learning to each of the styles.

The weekend brought about another decision. We were going to go to the cottage at the Lake, hoping for a quiet weekend where we would be cutting grass, preparing flower beds, and taking note of what needs to be done this year for repairs. Our daughter Melanie and our son Jordan were going to the Lake as well, so it would be a fun, relaxing weekend. One where tasks were completed quickly, suntanning and reading books would be the order of the day.

By Friday, the weather was forecasting rain and snow, so it was a debate on whether to go or to stay home. Melanie decided to stay at her home, which then left us to decide. Jordan had a different commitment come up, so he decided he wouldn’t go. Greg and I considered going, but since we couldn’t get the yard work done that we wanted to, we too decided to not go. It ended up raining and snowing a small amount, but we managed to get some things done around home.

With the extra time at home, I also managed to squeeze in some work time, following up with a few people, connecting with others I hadn’t spoken with for quite some time. Each interaction was a decision to pick up the phone, create an email, or send a letter or note.

I also began arranging meetings for the upcoming week when I travel to Winnipeg. Melanie and I will be attending Stars on Ice Thursday evening, so while I’m there (and she’s at work), I’ll meet with people to build my business. Again, I made a decision to maximize my time while enjoying time with our daughter.

We also received an opportunity to invest in some stocks at an Initial Public Offering price. The stock’s price has risen dramatically, so we’re fortunate to have the opportunity to invest. Although past performance is not a guarantee of future income, we’re arranging funds to be able to invest an amount that is right for us.

So you see, every day and in many ways, the decisions we make today impact our current life and our future life. The amount we invest could affect our future for the positive or negative. The decision to meet with people while I’m in Winnipeg could impact our income and future business.

My business is taking some new directions in the upcoming months. Be sure to keep reading to see exactly what they are. Next week I’ll be in Connecticut with my mentor, Fabienne Fredrickson, brainstorming with one of my Virtual Assistants, Sharon to up-level my business. I can’t wait to see all the changes and new directions we implement upon our return.

Oh, yes. About that laptop that was rebooting? Good news. It restarted and was booted up right on time (with less than a minute to spare… whew!). Looks like the decision to let it reboot worked well.

Your Assignment:

Write down what decisions you need to make: in the next 24 hours? In the next week? What about next month? Each decision you make will affect future decisions, so take some time to make sure you’re OK with the decisions you’re making, whether consciously or unconsciously.

Get a Head Start in Business With Your Own Franchise

Would you like to go into business for yourself, but are not sure where to start? Many franchising opportunities exist that will give you a head start and also provide help in building your own business. If you are ready to work for yourself and have the drive and desire to succeed, here are some great franchising opportunities for you to choose from!

Top Franchises in 2008:

1. 7-Eleven: Named the top Franchise of the year, this company will provide you with support and training. Fees and Costs may vary, but the company provides great marketing and national exposure. For further information, call (800) 255-0711.

2. Subway: With a nationally recognized name, this sandwich shop is a great opportunity for those looking to own their own business. Fees are approximately $15,000 and you can expect to invest between $80K -$310K to open your own store. Please call (800) 888-4848 for further information.

3. Dunkin Donuts: If you are looking for a more moderate investment, consider starting your own Dunkin Donuts shop. Fees and Costs will range from 40K-80K, but will give a great return on investment. For more information please call (781) 737-3000.

If you desire to find great franchising opportunities, but are dealing with a limited income, here are some ideas to consider!

1. Liberty Tax Service: Known as one of the fastest growing businesses, Liberty Tax Service provides a proven success format. Fees and Costs will range from $53K-67K.

2. Closetmaid: If you enjoy helping people to get organized, consider Closetmaid. Learn to design, sell and install custom closets. Fees and Costs are moderate at up to a $25K investment. Business can be run from home and materials are easy to assemble. Company provides a one week intensive training program as well as extensive start-up materials.

3. Coffee News: Does the thought of running your own newspaper interest you? Check out Coffee News! Originating in 1988 in Winnipeg, Manitoba (Canada), you will be given your own territory and be able to reap the benefits of a popular newspaper. Place your product in restaurants, motels, beauty shops, etc. Company provides great support and training. For more info, please visit coffeenewsusa.com/

4. PaintBull: Are you looking for a business with minimum investment and a turn-key proven system. PaintBull is your business. Start up costs can be as little as $5K and the company will train you from the start. They offer a great apprenticeship program and follow-up support. PaintBull also offers a financing plan and can be run from your home. For further information, go to paintbull.com.

These are just a few ideas of franchising opportunities to choose from. Running your own business can be very gratifying and rewarding. Just because you have to work doesn’t mean you shouldn’t enjoy what you do. With all the businesses available, you are sure to find something that will make you successful.