Monday, November 30, 2009

Feng Shui and the Flow of Chi

lucky bamboo

The world is insecure, full of conflicts and negativity; so people are looking for security, warmth and harmony inside their homes.

Feng Shui - theory based on the unobstructed flow of energy (Chi) - is a way of arranging and decorating one's home to create a balanced and harmonious environment that will provide positive energies and attract Health, Wealth, Luck and Love to the house.

Personally, I tend to adopt those principles of Feng Shui that are simple to follow, available, reasonable and not costly, such as: daily opening of windows to let fresh air come in, adequate light, display of live plants and fruit in the rooms, no TV or computer in the bedroom, prevention of clutter in the house, smart use of colours and mirrors, special attention to the main door through which, according to this chinese theory, Energy (Chi) enters the house.

Change in wall structure and furniture to improve flow of Chi in the house or appartment - could be quite expensive, and the result not always satisfactory.

My favourite Feng Shui item is the gracious Lucky Bamboo plant. Among the many other plants which symbolize life and growth, this one is considered the bringer of luck and fortune into the house. It requires water once a week, preferably distilled water , as tap water makes it ill - it becomes yellow and thus emanates bad energy and has to be removed.

I like the Feng Shui idea of placing a bowl of fruit, citrus mainly, in a strategic position such as near the entrance, to attract abundance and prosperity to the house. One must , however, constantly replace the fruit with fresh ones and not let it get rotten in which case it will result in bad smell and bad energy.

Many people will object to the Feng Shui 'demand' of no computer and no TV in the bedroom, but bedrooms are not meant for work or watching TV stupidities; bedrooms are meant for sleep and love.

Choosing of colors is not a light matter , at least not for me. I usually like bright colours like white, off- white, pale yellow . Feng Shui suggests , for example, painting the kitchen in yellow or orange , and the main door in red. However, the bottom line regarding colours and lights, is - whatever stands in harmony with the rest of the house, and makes one feel good.

Saturday, November 21, 2009


My computer has been giving me a hard time lately. It is six years old, and completely exhausted . I'm proud that during these years it didn't require any technician work; I was the only one to touch its inside when opening the case to clean the ventilators and throw a loving look at the Motherboard. There were problems with it now and then, but I managed to solve them with whatever little knowledge I have on computers.

Only once did I need the intervention of an outside factor. Two years ago, the computer got attacked by malware. It was a shocking, frightful experience; it looked as if some kind of monster
within the box was trying to torture me by interfering with my work in various nasty ways. In fact, I couldn't do any work.

It started with the sudden appearance of a big blue Microsoft ad in the middle of the screen offering an anti virus program. Luckily, I understood right away that it was not Microsoft but some dangerous, invasive agent, and so I didn't get tempted to install the program. After a few unsuccessful trials to deal with the situation, I phoned Microsoft technical support and they promptly emailed me an anti malware software. It helped, of course, but it took me several days to make sure everything was under control.

The whole thing scared me so much that I tried to forget all about it. When the attack was on I took a shot of the ad but apparently didn't care to save it.
Anyway, that's all behind me now, and I'm looking forward to get a new computer, hopefully by the end of next week. In the meantime, things are not easily done and certain things (slideshows, for instance) will have to wait .

Thursday, November 12, 2009


I'm a great believer in the marvelous, free source of energy, the Sun; solar energy, solar power, solar cooking, solar heating - all these terms just "turn me on".

I remember holding in my hands a little book named "How to live without electricity - and like it" by Anita Evanghelista. I said to myself : with such a title and with such an author's name , the book must be interesting. It was. Especially the chapter which deals with solar cooking. The author mentions there cooking a casserole. Casserole? It took me nearly an hour to boil some water for a cup of coffee. But the blame is on me - lack of practice in handling the solar cooking device and also the fact that I had to wear heavy-duty sunglasses (according to the instructions in the book) which is not exactly something I'm used to in my conventional cooking.

And then there was this other litttle book "547 ways to be fuel smart" by Roger Albright. Again, I said to myself : such a precision, not 500 and not 600 but 547 - there must be something in this book. There was. I learnt from it , among other things, that the simple, primitive device known as the clothesline on which I hang out my clothes , is in fact a solar dryer, and I happen to agree with the author "it works like a charm ..." and saves money. Wow! I was using a solar dryer and I didn't even know that!

But the book that got me daydreaming ( on the possibility of living in a solar house), was "The solar home" by Mark Freeman. On the back cover of this book, a smashing pair of sentences caught my eye. Listen to this: "Baking really good bread is difficult. Building a house is easy". I totally agree with the first sentence, but as to the second one, if it's easy to build a house how come he wrote a whole book on that?!!

(Honestly, the above three mentioned books are good books on the solar subject as opposed to a fourth book which I won't even mention its title and name of author. This book had great publicity and I was extremely dissappointed by it).

Although Israel , where I live, is a country with sunny days most of the year, the only significant use of the sun's energy is displayed in the water heaters that cover roof-tops all over the country.

I've always been fascinated by the work of these south-facing water heaters. The unit consists of a water storage tank, and two flat panels that absorb solar radiation, and heat the water in the tank. Even in winter, if there are sunny days, there'll be hot water in the storage tank, and from there, through insulated pipes, in the bathroom and kitchen taps. It saves a lot of money on the electricity bill. and a good heating system can last as much as twenty years.

There are three main models of solar heating systems (enlarge attached pictures) : a vertical tank with two panels (collectors), a vertical tank with only one( big ) panel, and the latest model: an horizontal tank with one panel. In my non-expert opinion, the oldest model is the most efficient one; besides, if one panel happens to get damaged, you can carry on for a while with the remaining one and still get hot water . The other two models evolved out of esthetic considerations.

(On solar gadgets, and on my tiny collection of solar items in slideshow format - in another post).

vertical tank with one panel; vertical tank with two panels

horizontal tank with solar panel

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Turkish "Delight"

potatoes on the israeli market.

still in use in some turkish markets

Turkey , as far as I know, is the largest producer of potatoes in the Middle East. I like the texture of those smooth reddish potatoes imported from Turkey.
I eat them mainly as mashed potatoes accompanied by cheese ,meat, or fish.

Lately, the relationship between Turkey and Israel has developed into something ugly ; israelis have reported meeting with great hostility in many parts of Turkey. One of the Turks' favorite "greetings" is to spit on the israeli tourist. As a result of this atmosphere, and of some political issues between the two countries, there are voices calling for a boycott on turkish products. A neighbour of mine is rather 'active' in this initiative.

Last month, she "caught" me at the supermarket with turkish potatoes in my basket and criticized me for that. I said : " Look, I don't drink turkish coffee, I don't buy turkish lokum (also known as turkish delight), I don't eat turkish kebab or lachmajun, I don't even intend to visit Turkey ,although I could if I wish , go as a non israeli (I own also a romanian passport); Isn't that good enough for you? I won't give up the potatoes. Period".

I'm not much in favor of boycotts, but those here who want an efficient boycott, should , I think, concentrate on the touristic issue. All year long, israelis 'invade' Turkey, and so, nicely contribute to its economy. One of the most popular regions favored by the israelis is Antalya , known as the 'Turkish Riviera"; this resort offers lots of attractions at very reasonable prices.

Soon after the incident at the supermarket, I met my neighbor's son, a fresh computer science graduate, and asked for his expert advice on buying a new computer. "Can it wait a week" he asked me "I'll be back by then from Antalya and we shall discuss this matter at length" "Antalya?! Does your mother know where you're flying to ?" " She bought me the tickets as a graduation present" was his reply.

How about that?!!

Antalya - beach

on the way - in Antalya

Monday, November 2, 2009

The Man on the Train

'Ayalon' bridge - to the central railway station in Tel Aviv

Waiting on the train platforms

I like to travel by train. The wide windows bring you scenic spots along the route; on a train you have a comfy seat, enough room to stretch legs ; you can go to the vestibule to take a fresh breath, and you can meet unexpected people.

I got on the train Tel Aviv - Haifa. Someone sitting on the opposite bench stared intensely at me and this made me feel very uncomfortable. He sensed that , and finally opened his mouth:
" I saw you on the platform waiting for the train and heard someone calling you Duta, so I decided to follow you. You probably don't recognize me as I'm very much changed physically , but I was one of your brother's best friends."

He gave me the details . I was familiar with the name ; it brought back to me unpleasant memories of a young successful man guilty of the sin of Pride. I was surprised to see him on a train as I knew he was a very rich guy who had a personal car driver and even owned a private light plane. Well, not any more. He told me his story.

The troubles in his life began with his only son falling into drugs. To buy the stuff, his son used to steal money and jewelery not only from his parents but also from neighbors , relatives, and friends. Next, he joined a gang whose specialty was breaking into houses and empty them.

The man's wife got into depression and never recovered from it. After her untimely death, he ceased to function and lost almost everything he had. Luckily, he met the woman who was to become his second wife, a naturopath by profession, and by using the naturopathic approach , she gradually put him back on track.

''The other night" the man said " I had a weird dream. Your brother was chasing me with a stick . This running and chasing thing happened a lot in our childhood games, but such a dream just before meeting his sister on a train - this must have a meaning, maybe more than one. I know , I deserve to be beatten. I was vain, turned my back on my friends including your brother, departed from my authentic roots . Perhaps
this dream was also a warning of your brother saying stay away from my sister, you're Trouble."

I told him that in my opinion both his interpretations of the dream are correct. We pay for our vanity , and my brother, may his soul rest in peace, wanted to spare me the treachery of friendship.

When we got off the train I realized he hadn' t said a word on the whereabouts of his son. I was afraid to ask, and I wanted us to part on a positive note.