Environmental energy or “Politics as usual”?

As the American presidential campaign continues, one of the most pressing issues concerns the soaring price of gasoline and its availability. Despite the increase in what are now being called “specialty fuels”, i.e., liquid hydrogen and natural gas, ethanol, bio-diesel fuel, and others, most people in America are still filling their tanks with that stuff known as benzene (in Europe) , petrol (in the U,.K.), or just plain gasoline. Fuel prices are now reaching the $4.00 per gallon level, and despite this people still fill their tanks with the petroleum derivative, even if they have to sell half of their household contents on E-bay to do so.

Consumer surveys conducted on the subject of energy for cars in America’s mobile society found that despite the cost issues and the dwindling availability of gasoline, people haven’t yet devised habits of personal energy conservation. In fact, it was found that despite fuel prices being at least 50-60% higher than they were at this time last year, the demand for gasoline has not abated and has even risen.

Fuel consumption in America now hovers around 400 million gallons a day, making Americans the highest energy consumers in the world, on a per-capita basis. Use of car pools and public transport are still confined only to some locales, with most people preferring to use their own vehicles to get to and from work.

CarsIt was found, however, that more and more smaller cars – which have better fuel economy – are being purchased, as well as models like hybrid cars. Companies such as General Motors and Ford have reported a decrease in the sale of SUV’s and other fuel consuming models by amounts ranging from 27% to 38%; while Toyota, maker of the highly successful and environmentally friendly Prius hybrid car, reported increases in sales of more than 60% for hybrids. Hybrid models (those with both a gasoline and electric engine) are getting more attention by America’s big car producers General Motors and Ford.

But taking the success of Japanese car makers like Toyota and Honda into account, American company efforts are almost in a “too little – too late” scenario as the Japanese make better and more reliable cars that hold up better on the road. Both Ford and GM were in their heyday when souped-up gas guzzlers were favored over tiny foreign “Econoboxes”. Of course this was happening when gasoline was selling for around $0.30 per gallon and supplies seemed unending as oil was fetching around $8-$10 a barrel.

At nearly $120 per barrel, and supplies definitely limited (Will Rogers once said “they ain’t making it any more”) more energy conservation should be practiced by everyone, and preached by governmental officials. If not, we may all soon be resorting to bicycles just like the Chinese – who are presently the world’s second highest petroleum consumers – once did.

And as for the American presidential candidates, including the ones advocating “change”, all they seem to be doing is trying to win votes, with no real energy solutions in sight.

The Popular Ginger

Ginger is the edible part of the plant Zingiber officinale. Many people mistakenly think that ginger is a root, but we’re actually talking about a rhizome. Ginger is commonly known as a popular spice, which has many culinary uses in various cuisines across the world. Ginger is indispensable product in Asian and oriental cuisine. Ginger has been used by Chinese medicine for centuries. Ginger assists in digestion by enhancing production of digestive fluids. Ginger thus helps to treat dyspepsia, general stomach aches and diarrhea. Ginger can also relieve nausea in pregnant women or sea sickness.

Other therapeutic properties attributed to Ginger are: detoxification of body chemicals, stimulating blood circle, and relieving respiratory diseases such as asthma. The good news is the ginger is not only healthy but also easy to get and relatively cheap. Ginger serves as a very useful product in the any kitchen: it can be cooked as an ingredient in numerous dishes, such as fish, meat or even cookies. Fresh ginger can be added to salads. You can also use ginger in beverages : to make a ginger tea, jusr put a slice of fresh ginger root in hot water, and add honey and sliced lemon.

The Zodiac and Its Astrological Signs II

Part One: Zodiac and Its Astrological Signs

Leo Zodiac Sign AmuletThe present day names of the Western constellations and signs of the zodiac were first described by the Greek astronomer and astrologer Ptolemy (120-180 AD). The twelve constellations bear Latin names which were the source of the zodiac signs used by astrologists as well.

It is interesting to note that the three main traditions of astrology, the Western, Indian and Chinese, share the same fundamental idea of a twelve sign zodiac with the signs divided into four basic types. It is possible to match up the twelve signs across the traditions, and despite differences, a basic similarity can be seen in their characteristics.

The twelve zodiac names, signs and their corresponding zones along the ecliptic, are: Aries (The Ram: 21 March – 21 April); Taurus (The Bull: 22 April – 22 May); Gemini (The twins: 22 April – 22 May); Cancer (The Crab: 23 June – 22 July); Leo (The Lion: 23 July – 22 August); Virgo (The Virgin: 23 August – 22 September); Libra (The Scale: 23 September – 22 October); Scorpio (The Scorpion: 23 October – 22 November); Sagittarius (The Centaur: 23 November – 21 December); Capricorn (The Goat: 22 December – 20 January); Aquarius (The Pitcher: 21 January – 18 February); Pisces (The Fishes: 19 February – 20 March).

As New Age thinking becomes more popular there is a growing awareness and an individual approach to spiritual exploration referencing the coming astrological Age of Aquarius. Zodiac signs and astrological symbols are used and considered to a certain degree by a substantial percentage of the population, whether in private or publicly.

Arranging Our Homes According to Feng Shui

Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese doctrine, practiced for thousands of years, which is based on the belief in the flow of energy or “chi” through the universe and in its influence on our daily lives. The Feng Shui tradition, considered by many to be both a science and an art, relates to elements of nature, such as physics, philosophy, astronomy and astrology, with the intent of creating balance and ensuring harmony. It is based on the belief that by providing compatibility between nature and people’s physical surroundings, it can impact on the physical and spiritual ambience and quality of their lives.

This compatibility with nature is accomplished by the way people’s furniture and other objects are arranged, within the space of their home or workplace. According to Feng Shui tradition, good relationships, wealth, success and health are dependant on just the right kind of arrangement of our belongings in our physical environment. Therefore, it requires adherence to a set of principles, which dictate just how to arrange objects so as not to hinder the flow of positive energy in our environment and cause disharmony and negative energy.

The arrangement of objects in our living space is determined with the aid of a special compass, the bagua, which designates how to place each object in the correct position and direction and how to align it with other elements in the environment. The bagua determination of the space is just one of the seven basic steps to promote positive chi energy. These steps include: clearing out clutter; having good quality air and good quality light in your space; defining the space with the Feng Shui bagua; studying the five elements in the home; finding the personal Feng Shui birth element and planning accordingly; finding the personal Kua number to adjust directions and positions; paying particular attention to the state of the “health triangle” at home, namely, the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.

In addition, it is recommended to adhere to several basic design tips: avoid long straight entrances to your home’s front door or office door; avoid sleeping with your feet to door of your bedroom; and place a mirror in areas that are stagnant, such as at the end of a hallway, in order to help the flow of energy throughout your home or office.

Good Feng Shui Bedroom Can Promise Rest, Fun, and Love

Chinese Compass
Picture: FengShui.co.il
Planning a bedroom according to the principles of the ancient Chinese tradition called Feng Shui, is believed to promote a harmonious flow of positive energy which influences the different functions of the room. It will make the room more inviting, luring, exciting and calming, all at the same time. By planning a good Feng Shui bedroom, one will be able to enjoy pleasure and fun, as well as calm and a good night sleep.

When arranging the bedroom, the basic factors to be considered include the placement of the furniture, as well as airing, lighting and colors. First, the bedroom should not have any kind of equipment which is not related to its inherent functions, and therefore should not have a television set, a computer or exercise equipment. Secondly, the room should have lots of fresh air and oxygen, coming in from open windows. Therefore, plants in the bedroom are considered bad Feng Shui and are not recommended. As for the lighting arrangement of the room, there should be several levels of intensity, in order to provide various levels of energy in the room. This can be attained by use of a dimmer, although candles are considered the best Feng Shui bedroom lighting. The colors one chooses for the bedroom should be of a soothing nature, so that they will provide a good balance in the bedroom. The best Feng Shui colors for the bedroom are the “skin colors”, namely a range of colors from pale white to rich chocolate brown.

As for the décor of the room, the Feng Shui tradition places great importance on choosing the right kind of images, which will provide powerful positive energy. It recommends choosing images that reflect what one wants to see happening in one’s life.
Feng Shui provides clear guidelines for the placement of the bed itself and the quality of its components. The bed should be approachable from both sides; it should have two bedside tables; and it should never be aligned in a direct line with the door. It should be of good quality, with a good mattress and sheets made of natural fibers.

Finally, the room itself should be kept closed during the night, in order to make the most of the flow of energy in the room itself. Therefore, the bedroom doors, including closet doors and en-suite bathroom doors, should be kept closed.

These guidelines, based on the Feng Shui aspiration for harmony and balance, all aim to provide the most positive energy for those using the room, so they can achieve calm, relaxation and love, and inevitably lead healthier lives.

Bagua: The Feng Shui Compass to Balance and Harmony

Picture: FengShui.co.il
Bagua is one of the main tools used to analyze the Feng Shui of any given space. Feng Shui is an ancient Chinese tradition which strives to achieve harmony and balance between the forces of nature by designing and constructing the home and workplace according to certain guidelines and principles. Translated from Chinese, Bagua literally means “8 areas”, which are: North, Northeast, East, Southeast, South, Southwest, West, and Northwest. It functions as a unique compass, in which each direction has an Element, Color, and Life Area associated with it.
Feng Shui involves five basic elements – wood, fire, earth, metal and water, which interact amongst themselves in cycles defined as either productive or destructive. Each element is associated with certain Feng Shui colors, which when used properly, will bring the desired Feng Shui energy into one’s environment.

The Bagua can be superimposed over a diagram or plan of the home, office, room or desk and serves as a guide to achieving a good Feng Shui. It provides location and specific areas, which address the different aspects of one’s life. Enhancing a specific area by planning accordingly, may lead to an improvement in that area of one’s life. Thus, the Bagua is actually an energy map of any given space and a guide to optimal harmonious energy flow in that space.

The eight Feng Shui areas are:

North (compass reading from 337.5 to 22.5)
Element: Water
Colors: Blue and Black
Life Area: Career/Path in Life.

Northeast (compass reading from 22.5 to 67.5)
Element: Earth
Colors: Beige, Light Yelow, and Sandy/Earthy
Life Area: Spiritual Growth/Self-Cultivation.

East (compass reading from 67.5 to 112.5)
Element: Wood
Colors: Brown and Green
Life Area: Health & Family.

Southeast (compass reading from 112.5 to 157.5)
Element: Wood
Colors: Brown and Green
Life Area: Prosperity & Abundance.

South (compass reading from 157.5 to 202.5)
Element: Fire
Colors: Red, Orange, Purple, and Bright Yellow
Life Area: Fame & Reputation.

Southwest (compass reading from 202.5 to 247.5)
Element: Earth
Colors: Beige, Light Yelow, and Sandy/Earthy
Life Area: Love & Marriage.

West (compass reading from 247.5 to 292.5)
Element: Metal
Colors: White and Gray
Life Area: Creativity/Children.

Northwest (compass reading from 292.2 to 337.5)
Element: Metal
Colors: White and Gray
Life Area: Helpful People/Blessings.

Feng Shui Principles and Yin and Yang Compatibility

Yin Yang
Picture: FengShui.co.il
One of the fundamental principles of Feng Shui is the philosophy of Yin and Yang, which represents the interdependence and complementation of opposites i.e. balance and continual change, activity and passivity, lightness and darkness, hot and cold, night and day, sound and silence, male and female. According to this philosophy, everything in the universe consist of two opposing but deeply interconnected forces and the movement and interplay of these two forces, is what creates the life around us.

Whereas in many religions the notion of duality involves one element overriding another, as in “good over evil”, the Chinese concept of duality requires an inherent and mutual dependency between opposites in order to achieve harmony and balance. Yin and Yang are the dependent opposites that must always be in balance. They cannot survive one without the other and they flow into and out of each other, just as do the seasons. The aim to achieve an equilibrium between Yin and Yang, in order to create balance and happiness, is the ultimate goal of the Feng Shui practice. The best representation of the interaction between Yin (Black) and Yang (White) is the Tai Chi symbol of a perfect circle with two components, represented in black and white, flowing together and each containing inside itself a dot of the color, or the essence, of the opposite sign.

The quest for equilibrium is also the basis of Feng Shui’s “Five Elements Theory”. These elements, namely fire, water, metal, earth and wood, all interact with one another. Their interactions can be either of constructive or destructive character.

In the constructive cycle, water is a source of moisture for wood, namely trees, to grow; wood is a source of fuel for fire; the remnant of fire is ash- soil of the earth; the earth forms metals, and metal allows moisture – water, to condense on it as it cools. In the destructive cycle, water extinguishes the flames of fire, fire melts metal, metal cuts through wood, and wood controls the earth by over growing it.

Massage Stone Therapy

Massage stone therapy is a holistic medicine technique that has its origins in ancient Chinese medicine. The technique involves the use of heated basalt (volcanic) stones together with cool, harder stones which are placed on certain parts of the body, and together with various massage techniques influences the energy centers of the body and helps remove lymph blockages, relieves stress, and eliminates negative energy forces.

Therapists who specialize in this technique use what they refer to as a “balance” between both the warm and cool stones which are usually placed either on the patient’s shoulders, back, pelvic region, and limbs; areas where negative energy build-ups are often present.

The use of warm and even hot stones as a healing aid has also been use by Native American tribes for centuries. Tribal healers often used these stones to help people suffering from a number of ailments including fevers, with the idea that the heat from the stones would “draw out” the poisons and negative forces present in the body. In this therapy, the practitioner first uses massage on parts of the body where the negative energy forces as suspected to be present. Then the practitioner places several flat basalt stones that have been heated to a temperature of between 125 and 150 degrees F. These stones are then placed on the body’s energy points, including the back, hands, toes, stomach and forehead. Cool stones, usually colored white, are placed on areas where inflammation is present. Sometimes the hot stones are placed under a layer of towels, and the patient simply lies on them.

Many therapists combine this therapy with suction cups which help to bring negative energy forces and blockages to the surface. These therapies can be very helpful in relieving problems of muscle tension and stress.

Stone therapy is now being seen more in use in spas and professional massage parlors; and combined with therapeutic massage techniques are being said to create a truly unique and beneficial therapeutic experience.

Ring in Chinese New Year with Herbs and Remedies

Although the 2008 Chinese New Year is still several weeks away (February 7), it’s never too early to begin ‘celebrating’ the Year of the Rat by using medicinal remedies and treatments that have been proven effective for hundreds of years. The Chinese people rely on a myriad of natural herbal remedies to cure virtually all types of physical complaints and diseases ranging from allergies and skin conditions to problems associated with aging and sexual dysfunction.

Regarding remedies involving herbs and other natural plant products, some of the most common ones are those many people use on an almost everyday basis. These include cinnamon bark and powder, ginger root, ginseng (which is actually three different kinds of roots), garlic, and of course a number of medicinal teas. Ginseng roots in particular are used in wide variety of remedies ranging from capsules, teas, ointments, and other forms. The most common variety is what is known as panax ginseng radix or Oriental ginseng is very much in demand in Chinese medicine. It is a favorite among athletes and others needing remedies to increase physical endurance. Due to its being a natural product, it is accepted by international authorities monitoring athletic competitions. Oriental ginseng is also effective in nourishing the spleen (one of the body’s main supplier of blood cells), the lung, and in replenishing vital body fluids.

Another common Chinese herb, ginger root, called Gan Jiang in Chinese, is used to treat a number of conditions including nausea, motion and morning sickness, flatulence (bloated feeling connected with overeating and constipation), and for upper respiratory infections including coughs and bronchitis. It is especially effective for cancer patients who suffer from nausea when undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Ginger can be drank in medicinal teas, taken in capsule form, or simply eaten raw. Ginger is also an important spice and taste additive in Chinese and other types of foods.

Cinnamon is a common spice that is also widely used in Oriental medicine. Cinnamon bark and powder is used to warm the body and stimulate the kidneys as well as reproductive organs. It is widely drunk in teas and is easily prepared by simply boiling pieces of cinnamon bark in water.

Flowers are also widely used in Chinese medicine, with the chrysanthemum flower (the national flower of Japan) being widely used to cure sinus congestion and to aid digestion, especially after eating heavy, greasy foods. It is often made into a tea and is a refreshing drink on a hot summer day.

Virtually all kinds of plants and animal products, including fungus, bones and deer antlers, and marine plant and animal products are used in Chinese medicine. Due to their usage for more than 3,000 years, one can find a Chinese medicinal remedy for virtually any type illness.

Feng Shui at Home and Office

Feng Shui, or wind-water, is an ancient Chinese philosophy that is centered around making a harmonious balance between Man and the natural elements. This philosophy, which is said to have been in existence even longer than the sayings of Confucius, believes in the concept of living in harmony with the earth’s natural forces instead of trying to oppose them. In China and other eastern countries, many businesses or new homes will not be occupied until a Feng Sui practitioner is invited to come and make sure that items such as furniture, plants and other greenery are arranged in a an order that is most compatible with the natural elements.

The Five Elements of Feng Shui are wood, fire, metal, earth and water, and each element in represented by a particular color. Fire is red color and is usually located in the south. Water is black color and is located in the north. Wood is green color and is located in the east. Metal is either a white or gold color and is located in the west. Earth, the last element, is yellow and located in the center.

In a house for instance the location of doors and windows are important for allowing the maximum admission of natural light and air circulation. Other things such as lamps, paintings and pictures, and even the colors of walls and ceiling should be coordinated to create a more pleasant and light filled effect. In Feng Shui, importance is made towards the creation of happy, pleasant surroundings, which will help to create the same feeling in the lives of those who live there. This concern for pleasant effect in the environment results in making sure that doors and mirror are positioned properly and that certain rooms will have green plants, while other rooms will have flowers or other symbols of natural beauty. Colors representing the previously mentioned Five Elements are arranged in each room according to the items placed there and their appropriate directions.

In Feng Shui there are two main energy forces, Chi (chee) which is a spiritual or supernatural force, and Sha which is a nard of natural energy. As these energy forces are constantly opposing each other with both “good” and “bad” energy, the arrangement of items in rooms, plus the positions of doors are important in respect to which energy force is dominant and thus controls our lives. It is almost as if one is talking about electromagnetic fields or other forces that can have an effect on the balance of harmony in our lives. For example, if a door is not positioned properly, or is left open unnecessarily, Feng Shui philosophy will say that this supposedly insignificant thing can upset the balance between our Chi and Sha energy fields.