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    Category: Feng Shui

    Feng Shui and T-Junctions – - December 5, 2019 by admin

    Dealing with T- Junctions is a common topic of discussion in the practice of Feng Shui. So, why do homes located on a T-Junction get such a bad rap? In the shortest of responses, the energy rushes down the street so quickly, its slams into the home, potentially making the occupants feel uncomfortable, while also allowing for an accumulation of negative energy to build up over time. The T-Junction is said to have a few symbolic names, including "tigers eyes," "poison arrow," "sha energy," and "cross roads." It's important to note, there are different degrees of T-Junction situations that could affect the home. To know which is which, it requires a bit of investigation and keen observations.

    Below is a quick gauge:

    Essentially, the less traffic along the T-Junction street and slower the pace of the cars, the better off you are.

    The image above is of a case study with a home located in Los Angeles, CA, which happens to be on a very busy T-Junction Street. This house falls into the every 2-5 minute traffic pattern of movement.

    The image of the same home from ground level. As you can see, the white car is turning left, but if something were to go wrong, the speed and force of that car would move toward the yellow house, even if they try to turn suddenly. Not to mention, at night the car headlights (Tigers Eyes) are facing directly into the home. This is a very high level of sha energy hitting into the home.

    The Feng Shui recommendations for this particular home to block and protect the occupants was to build a separate wall with a door from the actual home's structure.

    Above are quick highlights for the observed Feng Shui recommendations in plain sight for this particular home.

    Keep in mind, with all these small changes to deflect the T-Junction, the owners still made it easy to access the actual front door and 'see' the home.

    Feng Shui Manhattan Official Website

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    Feng Shui and T-Junctions -

    How to Keep Warm While Winter Camping – The Manual - December 5, 2019 by admin

    Winter camping can be a challenge. It often requires specialized gear, lugging a heavier pack, and contending with the constant threat of cold, wet, miserable nights. However, keeping comfortable when the mercury drops is not about packing more, but packing smarter. Heres how to stay toasty warm in the backcountry, even in the dead of winter.

    Most campers know that cotton is the worst material for hiking and camping. It can be downright lethal if worn in winter, especially when sweat is a factor. Once wet, it takes forever to dry and loses most of its heat retention properties as well. Merino wool is far superior or, if you prefer, there are many great synthetic alternatives as well.

    Its tempting to blindly pile on the layers to keep warm. This can be effective, but it pays to consider each layer individually. Wear fitted, but not tight, layers that dont restrict blood flow. Sock liners and a cap that keeps you warm without making you sweat are essential. Fingerless gloves can be a great option as they allow for better hand dexterity without having to completely remove them for essential tasks like cooking or pitching a tent.

    This is less about feng shui and more about flattening your sleep space and minimizing heat loss in the night. If camping in the snow, find a campsite early. Flatten the ground beneath your tent or sleeping bag as early as possible. Once the snow thaws and refreezes, its next to impossible to smooth out. Carve out a small trough thats roughly the size of your sleep pad to serve as a bed platform. This helps minimize the ambient space around you, which in turn maximizes heat retention in the night.

    Some four-season tents are only rated down to around 20 degrees Fahrenheit. Pack a tent designed for the surrounding climate. Theres no need to go overboard, but a 20-degree tent whether its billed as four-season or not isnt going to cut it when youre camping in Montana in February. Consider the size of your tent as well. Sizing up (e.g., buying a two-person tent for your solo outings) for extra square footage in the backcountry might seem tempting. However, all that dead space forces your body to work harder to heat it. Use gear backpacks, jackets, even pets to line the perimeter of your tent and act as insulation. If camping with a buddy, arrange your sleep pads as close together as is comfortable. Two warm bodies can maintain collective heat much faster than one.

    Sleeping on cold ground is one of the fastest ways to lose body heat. Winter sleeping bags help keep you warm and insulated from the cold air but do little to stop conduction heat loss between your body and the earth. Consider an insulated, closed-cell foam sleeping padlike those from Therm-a-Rest. Theyre durable, lightweight, and comfortable. Most importantly, however, they can be a literal lifesaver when the mercury dips well below freezing.

    Non-insulated stainless steel bottles are incredibly versatile in the backcountry. Fill one with hot water at night to create a makeshift sauna stone, then place it in your sleeping bag. This trick is incredibly effective, especially if the bottle is placed strategically near your core or femoral artery. Depending on how cold you sleep, the bottle will keep warm for hours. Unless youre in a survival situation, dont attempt this with a plastic water bottle(even BPA-free bottles), however, as harmful chemicals could leech into the water.

    Fuel (i.e., food) generates heat. Downing a snack or meal just before bed can rev your bodys engine to help keep you warm. Choose high-calorie foods rich in fat and carbs. Peanut butter, nuts, cheese, and Clif bars are all great options. Dont hesitate to grab a similar midnight snack as well.

    Even with a door cracked, frost can form in your tent in the morning. This can quickly melt once the sun rises, and all that water will likely fall onto and dampen your gear. If youre an early-riser, sweep the frost away before it becomes an issue. Stowing gear overnight under a tarp or in a garbage bag can also help.

    Most of us carry at least a smartphone and a camera when hiking. While its something we dont often think about, all electronics are designed to work within a safe operating temperature. Most outdoor gear like GPS devices and weatherproof cameras work within a wide range, so this likely isnt an issue. But, its worth double-checking the limits of your gear. Charging or operating your gadgets outside of these limits could cause irreparable damage.

    Originally posted here:
    How to Keep Warm While Winter Camping - The Manual

    Launch pad: Five new homes with closet space to burn – Metro Newspaper UK - December 5, 2019 by admin

    MOVING into a new home is everyones dream, but packing a lifetimes worth of stuff can be daunting and we all dread thinking about whether it will all fit. Developers are getting their thinking caps on to consider the needs of storage. Take the Kings Ridge scheme, providing basement space for those bulkier items, White City Livings hidden interlocking and clever storage, and Postmarks generous walk-in wardrobes. In dire need of more space? Here are some new homes with great storage solutions.

    This mixed-use scheme (pictured top) with 24-hour concierge, residents cinema and rooftop terrace in Farringdon will boast 681 one, two and three-bed apartments. Theres pigeon-hole storage inspired by the sites postal heritage in the bathrooms and kitchens, huge walk-in wardrobes in the master bedrooms, plus more space in the hallway to jam in your clutter. From 1.32m for a one-bed apartment,

    St James has launched its first onsite show apartment at White City Living, designed by Jigsaw Interior Architecture with feng shui in mind. Theres interlocking cupboards with double storage capacity. From 1.04million for a two-bed Mulberry Collection apartment,

    The kitchens in these striking one, two and three-bed apartments and three and four-bed houses have lots of cupboard space, with further units in the hallways of each flat, or under the stairs in the houses. Bedrooms have floor-to-ceiling wardrobes, theres allocated parking and much-desired open space. From 225,995 with Help to Buy available,

    Part of a regeneration project in Harrow, the collection of one, two and three-bed apartments plus three and four-bedroom houses come with plenty of storage solutions, as well as a residents gym and landscaped parklands. Apartments have fitted wardrobes, two large cupboards off the hallway, one on the terrace plus a bin store better than most two-bed homes. From 345,000 for a one-bed apartment, with London Help to Buy available,

    This stunning collection of 12 apartments overlooks the 18th green of the prestigious Camberley Heath Golf Club. All have separate utility rooms, large cupboard spaces in the hallways and access to private basement storage areas. Many apartments also have a balcony or patio area. And its 34 minutes direct to London Waterloo from Farnborough station, just three miles away. From 510,000,

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    Launch pad: Five new homes with closet space to burn - Metro Newspaper UK

    ‘I was chicked and here are my excuses’ – Canadian Cycling Magazine - December 5, 2019 by admin

    Even on my trainer I see it. There are dudes who cant deal with getting passed by a woman. In my pain cave, it may seem like Im alone: just me and my bike driving watts to my Elite Direto X trainer with its integrated power meter. But those guys are around, those guys afraid of getting chicked.

    Chicked. I dont like the word. Its ugly. And of course, its silly. Even in a virtual environment, I see guys doing whatever they can to stay in front of a female rider. I shouldnt let it bug me, really. But

    Recently, I came up with a modest proposal. Id message other virtual riders who seemed in the midst of a chicking panic. A Zwift avatar may not have much expression, but you can tell when a dude is doing all he can to stay in front. So, I thought Id say hi and see how the ride was going. Hows the ride? Pushing big watts? Then Id carefully turn the topic to getting chicked. It took a while to hone my technique, but eventually I could get riders to open up. I wouldnt actually use the word. They wouldnt either. No one ever said, I was chicked and here are my excuses. But they would use lots of excuses. Lots of them.

    Here are the tales of three little chickees, my term for guys whove been chicked. Ive changed their names out of courtesy. While the names are as virtual as the men, their rides and their stories, their behaviours and their fears are real, and by real, I mean real weaklike their riding. (Sorry, I couldnt help myself!) Maybe we can learn something from these chickees.

    Im not bragging, but Im fast. I got power. Out on the road, Ive often caught and passed groups of cyclists all by myself. I do it all the time. Now Im no engineer. I dont know about computational fluid dynamics. But, a buddy I ride with did say Im probably the most aero rider he knows because of the way I can get my head so low, below my backside, he said. Or was it up my backside?

    When you and your womens peloton went past me the other day on the Richmond course, I knew something was up. Im positive that if it was in real life, IRL as they say, I would have been able to catch up and get ahead of you. But, I couldnt. Your group just moved farther and farther away from me no matter how hard I mashed on the pedals. I knew it wasnt a problem with my Elite Suito trainer. Its a direct-drive trainer with +/-2.5 per cent accuracy. It can provide 1,900 watts of resistance, which I totally need. I figured there was a problem with the aerodynamics algorithm.

    Like I said, Im really aero, but the virtual-riding program didnt seem to be taking that into account. And, I think Zwift was actually a little too generous with the draft and speed of your peloton. Sure, the programmers have put a lot of thought into how drafting and pack dynamics work in the virtual world, but I gotta say, the way your group kept away from methere was something not right. And I should know because Im really aero.

    Also, I think you and your group must be lying about your weights. Its a classic cheat, right. I get it. I mean, we all shave a few kilos off our avatars. Am I right? But theres lying about your weight, and then theres really lying about your weight. I do the former, but Im pretty sure that you girls were up to the latter.

    Oh, and at the end of my ride, I realized I was in erg mode. It was set at 175 watts the whole time. No wonder I found everything so, so easy but couldnt move fast. I dont know how that happened. Must have been a glitch.

    I didnt save my ride.

    Let me start off by saying that I dont have a problem with female riders passing me. I have a problem with most riders passing me. But, of course, as a rider, you get passed on an alpine climbs or bike paths. Then you do everything in your power to get in front of the rider who passed you, whether its on an alpine climb or bike path and whether or not you actually have the strength to hold the lead. You just get in front, even if you then slow down, especially on a bike path. But, like I said, gender is not a factor.

    The other day I was on the Alpe du Zwift as Cameron Childs rode passed me. I gave him a Ride On thumbs up from the companion app running on the smartphone strapped to my handlebars. Then you came around me. So, I did what I do. I hammered on the pedals to get around you.

    I got in front and kept up the pace. Did I mention I was on rollers? I use the Elite Nero interactive roller, which is sweet. Did I mention I had a new fan? I got a big one, powerful like me. I pulled the fans remote from my jersey pocket and set it to Crazy High, because I was hot. Crazy High was probably too high. The breeze started pushing me and my deep-rim wheels around. The Nero has parabolic rollers that gently guide you back to their centres, but they are not designed for a fan that creates hurricanes on movie sets, I guess.

    I remembered that Zwift had introduced the ability to steer not too long ago. I thought I could use that feature to weave across the road and keep you behind me. Then, with all the weaving and the gale, I came off the rollers.

    On the floor, it occurred to me that you actually got a pretty good draft from me up that climb. Really, I paced you for about 50 m or so. Did you give me a thumbs up? I didnt see one.

    At the end of the session, I didnt see any point in saving that ride

    I didnt get enough rest. Sure I had nine and a half hours of sleep, but it wasnt the right kind of nine and a half hours of sleep. I blame my butler for that as he didnt put out my lucky pyjamas that I like to wear the night before tackling the Volcano Climb. (The pyjamas are the colour of magma. Cool, right?)

    My playlist wasnt dialed. Actually, it wasnt my playlist at all. It was my three-year-old daughters. I said, Hey Alexa, play Crush Virtual Ride playlist. Instead of playing that selection of songs, which starts with Queens We are the Champions, it launched into Baby Shark, then If You Are Happy and You Know It, (I wasnt!) and then Baby Beluga, and then Baby Shark again. Despite shouting at Alexa, I couldnt get anything to play but that playlist. Doo doo doo doo doo doo. Thats still in my head.

    When you passed me, the sun was in my eyes. I know what you are thinking: how could sun get in my eyes in Watopia? But l can explain. My Elite Drivo II trainer setup and the room its in are both stunning. Its like one of those Peloton ads: lots of space and no clutter. The vibe of the room is what I call Elon Musk Zen: high-tech but so relaxing. It was weird, then, when I freaked out as sunlight suddenly fell across the flat-screen TV. I thought the feng shui was totally dialed.

    I rode as hard as I could. Not only were my legs straining but my eyes too as I tried to make out details on the screen. I started to overheat. My butler, it seems, didnt set the rooms temperature and fans exactly as I like them. It felt as if I was riding through the volcanos magma itself. I started shouting, Alexa, optimal trainer temperature! Optimal trainer temperature! But it still felt like an oven, and the volume seemed to go up on Baby Shark.

    Finally, it occurred to me that today was a rest day. Im pretty sure thats what coach put into my calendar. I stopped the ride and didnt save it.

    by Ally Stradapresented by Elite

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    'I was chicked and here are my excuses' - Canadian Cycling Magazine

    Accor Releases White Paper on the Business of Wellness and Hospitality – Hotel News Resource - December 5, 2019 by admin

    In 'It's a Wellness World: The Global Shift Shaking up Our Business', Accor's Emlyn Brown explains how exceptional wellness experiences are good for guests, business and the hospitality industry

    Accor Releases White Paper on the Business of Wellness and Hospitality

    When stepping into a hotel these days, one cannot help but notice a growing wave of smoothie bowls, pilates poses, and mindfulness seminars. For many years, Accor has been at the forefront of the wellbeing movement, leading the way to integrate health and wellness into all aspects of the guest experience. In a new white paper, "It's a Wellness World: The Global Shift Shaking up Our Business", Accor explores the fundamental societal shift currently underway as the lifestyle goal of feeling healthier has moved out from beyond the walls of the spas and gyms and entered the mainstream. The report goes on to discuss the opportunities the wellness movement provides for hoteliers, and some of the unique ways that Accor brands will deepen their commitments in this vital area throughout 2020 and beyond.

    "At Accor, our goal is to have guests experience a sense of wellbeing during their stay and that they leave feeling better than when they arrived; better rested, more nourished and in a happier state of mind," said Emlyn Brown, Global Vice-President, Wellbeing, Luxury & Premium Brands, Accor. "A delighted guest is naturally more inspired to return. Therefore, by investing in holistic wellness experiences that help our guests feel good throughout the customer journey, we are establishing a model for strong revenue growth through return bookings, word-of-mouth referrals, and positive social media presence, contributing to a steady and sustainable business for years to come."

    "It's a Wellness World: The Global Shift Shaking up Our Business"reveals that 77% of consumers "take steps in their daily lives to stay healthy, make informed food choices, stay active and manage stress."* Furthermore, some56% of affluent travelers place a top priority on the statement, "I'm striving to become healthier in the coming year."** The report also explores numerous economic and social factors that are driving the rise of wellness around the world.

    "As the wellness movement matures, and wellness offerings become a standard expectation within the hospitality industry, we are seeing a growing emphasis not only on healthy food options, relaxation and movement, but on such fundamental health necessities as clean water and air," said Anne Dimon, CEO & President of the Wellness Tourism Association. "The mindset of wellness has evolved beyond spas and workout spaces, challenging the hospitality industry to consider how it integrates other health considerations such mindfulness and time spent in nature, along with environmental concerns such as reducing indoor pollution and eliminating plastics - into its daily operations."

    Accor's well-being white paper will act as a catalyst to help energize the company's wellness teams globally, while also informing and enhancing the five key pillars that guide Accor's overall approach to well-being - Active Nutrition, Holistic Design, Bodies in Movement, Leveraging Spa, and Embracing Mindfulness all of which are adapted and adopted by the company's hotel brands based on a number of important factors including guest preference, demographic, brand positioning, culture and location.

    The report also delves deeper into this tailored approach and showcases several examples of how some of Accor's leading hotel brands are uniquely evolving with the wellness movement. For example:

    "Wellness is a golden opportunity for the hospitality industry," added Brown. "Feeling healthy is a universal, emotionally-charged, and frequent concern for all demographics of guests and cuts across all areas of life, from daily routines to exceptional, transformative travel experiences. Our diverse hotel brands look forward to embracing the challenge of continuously surprising and delighting our guests with new ways to achieve health and well-being during their travels, inspiring them to choose our hotels again and again."

    * Foresight Factory | Base: 26810 online respondents aged 16-64, Global Average, 2018 July. TheGlobal Average has been created by taking the average response across the following countries: Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, Denmark, Finland, France, GB, Germany, India, |Indonesia, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, UAE, USA.

    ** Affluent Perspective 2018 Year End Report, YouGov

    Download the Whitepaper here.

    Logos, product and company names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.

    2019 Hotel News Resource

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    Accor Releases White Paper on the Business of Wellness and Hospitality - Hotel News Resource

    The Pagan Power of ‘Frozen II’ – The Mary Sue - December 5, 2019 by admin

    When I say that Frozen II was a profound spiritual experience for me, I know that makes me sound a bit insane. But its nevertheless true and I know from conversations Ive had in the week since the films release that Im not alone. For me, it spoke to my own spiritual practice as a Wiccan and student of goddess lore but it works on a deeper level too. Frozen II is an amazing film that takes its heroine on a profound journey and in doing so it touches on elements of paganism and goddess archetypes in a way thats rare and astonishing.

    Fair warning, we are going to get into deep spoiler territory for this examination, so if you havent seen Frozen II, be warned.

    When I talk about paganism, it means a few things and that works because the paganism of Frozen II exists on several levels. The term pagan was first used to refer to people who werent Christian, and pagan religion can mean anything from pre-Christian or non-monotheistic religion to specific religious beliefs and practices that still exist to this day in the form neo-Pagan religions, like Wicca, and well be talking about the movie in both such terms.

    Paganism in many ways is the opposite of Christianity whereas the Christian tradition focuses on a single God who holds power and grants salvation, the pagan worldview sees not only many gods and goddesses, but also divine power in all things, especially nature. Paganism in the modern day is deeply rooted in recognition and veneration of the female divine often in terms of the Great Mother Goddess. In religions like Wicca, the divine power in everything and everyone is seen as something that can be bent and worked with, in what we call magic.

    So, what has this got to do with a Disney movie? Well, Frozen II is all about magic and power and where it comes from; and it shows magic and female power in a way that fits with pagan teachings old and new. For one, Frozen II is all about the balance of the elements.

    Frozen II has no real villain, which is cool. The conflict in the film begins when Elsa, called by a voice only she can hear, wakes the spirits of the enchanted forests and those spirits represent the elements familiar to anyone with a passing familiarity with modern Wicca or whos seen The Craft: Earth, Air, Fire, and Water. This might also be familiar to fans of The Fifth Elementor Captain Planetor Avatar: The Last Airbender.

    The idea of the elements is ancient, and comes in all sorts of different forms, from Platos four elements to the similar five elements of Chinese Feng Shui (earth, wind, fire, wood, metal). The elements are the forces of the natural world and they exist in balance and that balance is what Frozen II is all about. Its a balance that is out of whack because the people of Arendelle more modern and disconnected from the Earth murdered and manipulated the indigenous Northuldra, who live in harmony with the elemental spirits, and are closer to magic.

    Elsa is magical and she goes on a magical journey to reveal the past and, along with Anna, restore the balance. The sisters journey is about realizing that they do not exist in opposition to nature, but as part of it and that its power must be respected and allowed to be free. Elsa confronts and tames three elemental spirits, all inspired by real mythology, in her questand Anna completes it. Anna doesnt tame her elemental force the earth giants but she still works with them and thats magic too.

    Of course, there is a fifth element and the journey to discover and master it where Frozen II journeys into the unknown realm of The Goddess.

    The Goddess in Wicca and neopaganism is many things: shes a mother and we begin Frozen II as Queen Idunna sings her daughters to sleep with a lullaby recounting a legendary location called Ahtohallan. This river isnt a real place or myth, butthe idea of an in-between place where the elements meet as a spiritual nexus is a real feature of much mythology and paganism.

    Idunna is named after a real goddess, Iduna, the Norse goddess of spring and keeper of the apples of immortality. Its not a coincidence that Elsas journey brings her closer to her mother, who she learns was Northuldra and lived and worked with the spirits of nature and the four elements. Elsa is called to Ahtohallan by a voice she believes to be the fifth element, but what she discovers is so much more.

    There is no bible or holy book in paganism, but there are certain texts that express, simply and beautifully, the essence of the Goddess and what she means and is. One of those is The Charge of the Goddess by Doreen Valiente and it applies so perfectly to Frozen II that its almost magic. In this work, the Goddess speaks to the seeker, the reader to tell them where to find her and what her essence is.

    For I am the Soul of Nature, who giveth life to the universe; from me all things proceed, and unto me must all things return.

    Thats Ahtohallan, the place where Elsa ends her quest. In the beautiful ballad Show Yourself she pleads to the divine female power thats been calling her, asking Are you the one Ive been waiting for all my life? But in Ahtohallan Elsa finds her past, connects with the divine spirit of her mother and discoversthe fifth element, the divine thing, is her.

    And thou who thinkest to seek for me, know thy seeking and yearning shall avail thee not, unless thou know this mystery: that if that which thou seekest thou findest not within thee, thou wilt never find it without thee.

    For behold, I have been with thee from the beginning; and I am that which is attained at the end of desire.

    These words of the Goddess are the essence of the modern pagan teaching, that divinity and power dont come from a distant god but from the divine within us. When Elsa and her mother sing: Show yourself, step into your power, they are sharing the same message. The greatest power is right there inside you.

    Elsa reaches Ahtohallan by taming a water horse called Nokk, real figures of germanic and Scandanavian folklore. In doing so she channels the Celtic-Roman goddess Epona, a horse Goddess who brought both fertility but also served as a psychopomp guiding souls into another world, which is where Elsa must go on her heroines journey.

    Youve heard of The Heros Journey but there is a Heroines journey too, an archetype of myth specifically goddess myths like that of Persephone that involves a journey through the underworld and death to rebirth and thats exactly what Elsa goes through. She (and Anna) must journey through their darkest moments. Anna is the one that completes that journey, step by step through the darkest moment in a literal underworld as she chooses to Do the next right thing.

    Elsa and Anna find themselves and their power and journey through death itself, to be reborn. For Elsa its literal, and by claiming and embracing the power that was always inside her, she becomes and becomes an awesome, divine, magical womanthat is, a goddess.

    You are the one youve been waiting for, is a powerful, essential Goddesss message. Its not new. In fact, its a fundamental sort of truth weve seen in other films with heroines journeys from the Wizard of Oz to Moana. But here, in this film, as a message of affirmation from a magical queen surrounded by the elements and goddess imagery, its especially powerful.

    Frozen II, is a movie about the feminine divine. Its about magic and power and elements, mothers, sisters, daughters and goddesses finding their way through the dark to restore balance and light. That may sound silly talking about a kids movie, but stories for children are often where we teach our most profound and important lessons. These are our myths in a new form, so of course, well find a goddess or too there.

    Perhaps I see a goddess in Elsa because I see myself in her, and thus, I see the divine in both of us. We are the ones weve both been waiting for.

    (images: Disney)

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    Chasing the American dream: I found my grandpa’s slice of the Old West in the Philippines – Courier Journal - December 5, 2019 by admin


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    Gnarled tree roots and thick underbrush block the dirt path to where Im told my grandfathers long-abandoned ranch house still sits decaying in a remote part of the Philippines.

    This overgrownvegetation halts us in our tracks, 90 minutes from the closest town. For one helpless moment, it appears well have to turn back, an 8,600-mile trip from where my mom lives in New York all for naught.

    Then the ranch hands accompanying my mother and me on our journey unsheathe their wide bolo knives. They hack at the growth and direct every turn of our drivers steering wheels as we crawl through inch by inch.

    Ten minutes later, were in the sunlight again. The path winds its way up a hill and terminates at a cluster of cinder block buildings. Theyre the first man-made structures Ive seen in miles. Weve arrived.

    Sprawled across the grassy hills of Masbate Island the rodeo capital of the Philippines my grandfathers cattle ranch was so remote that getting there from where he raised his family in Manila during the '60s and '70s usually involved a small plane and at least one outrigger boat.

    Ranching was an unusual venture for my grandfather, Francisco Lee-Llacer, who died before I was born. He was a Chinese-Filipino accountant based in the bustling Philippine capital. And yet, Im told he would trek to this sweeping ranch he had cobbled together after World War II as often as he could, braving the swirling undercurrents that make navigation near some parts of Masbate Island treacherous, and bouncing down the provinces then-unpaved roads aboard makeshift buses sometimes hitching an open-air ride on the roof.

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    Many times, hed bring his wife and kids, my mother among them. All her best stories are tied, in some way, to the ranch.

    It was not far from the ranch that my mom learned to shoot bats with an old Winchester rifle, and it was also en route there that my grandfather encountered the sea turtle that, for a brief period, would become a beloved family pet, before my grandparents sent it back into the wild.

    The far-flung ranch sat miles away from town, an outpost on the Philippine equivalent of the Old West. There, my grandfather could take his family back to a simpler time as all around them life was growing increasingly uncertain, first because of a threat of a communist uprising, then the subsequent imposition of martial law in 1972 by then-President Ferdinand Marcos.

    I cant help but wonder whether the ranch was my grandfathers slice of the American dream in a land that 73 years ago was a commonwealth of the United States.

    Family photo albums that I discovered on a trip toManila last year contain images of my grandfather, always sharply dressed in a suit and tie, posing beside American ranchers in their cowboy hats and jeans. Its unclear whether he actually knew these men but Im told the photos were souvenirs from his trips to cattle shows in America, where he'd watch small vials of bull semen sell for tens of thousands of dollars.

    His love of American culture was likely born out of his experience in World War II. Like many veterans, my grandfather didnt talk much about his time in the war. A Chinese national living in the Philippines, my grandfather wasnt even supposed to be conscripted into the Philippine Army. But in the chaos that preceded the outbreak of war, relatives say he was drafted anyway, to fight alongside the Americans.

    On Dec. 7, 1941 Dec. 8 in the Philippines the Japanese launched their infamous surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and other U.S.- and British-held locations in the Pacific, including the Philippines. Outgunned Philippine and American troops stationed in Manila endured a monthslong siege before surrendering. They were then forced to walk at bayonet point some 65 miles to a woefully inadequate prisoner of war camp. My grandfather was among them.

    Thousands of Filipino soldiers and hundreds of Americans died on the way, either succumbing to starvation and illness or at the cruel hands of their captors in what later became known as the Bataan Death March.

    You may like: For my family, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro was true test of faith

    With their floppy ears and distinctive hump, Brahman cattle are well adapted to the Philippine heat.(Photo: Alfred Miller)

    My grandfather survived and was eventually released along with thousands of other Philippine captives who were wracked by disease. When he recovered, he joined the Philippine resistance movement until the end of the war.

    Im told he wasnt bitter about getting drawn into World War II. On the contrary, in later years, his idea of a good time was listening to a well-worn album of American military tunes. Maybe his outpost in Masbate was a tribute to those days. He planned to retire there.

    But it was not to be.

    In November 1984, shortly after he had arranged for his children to seek out their own American dreams new lives in the United States my grandfather died of a sudden heart attack while working on the ranch.

    It took my mom, who had moved to New York, met my dad and started a family, years to bring herself to come back to the Philippines, let alone the ranch. Maybe she was in denial that my larger-than-life grandfather had been anything but invincible. But prompted by the death of her brother last year also of an unexpected heart attack she decided to return. And she wanted me, her only child, to come along.

    That is how I found myself, a native Staten Islander who now lives in Louisville and who, like my Russian-Jewish father, hadnever slashed my way through tropical vegetation,fresh off a predawn flight from Manila early one September morning. I was in Masbate City, a town of 95,000 people 230 miles southeast of Manila, and about to become the highly unlikely passenger of an unfamiliar white Kia pickup truck.

    My guide and driver that day was the chatty son of a prominent Masbate rancher who had helped establish the provinces rodeo scene in the early 90s. His father trundled ahead in a red Toyota pickup containing my mom and her sisters.

    Some 40 years ago, my accountant grandfather would start his treks to the ranch with a visit to a local baker, a friend whose books he kept. But that bakery is long gone, replaced by a building with a store advertising knockoff Lee jeans (Stylistic Mr. Lee). So we begin our journey instead by pulling up to the drive-through window of Masbates only McDonalds, which opened two years ago.

    The smell of America or, at least, of McMuffin sandwiches and hot coffee fills the cab as we start down a two-lane highway that will get us to where my grandfathers ranch house was abandoned more than three decades ago, the perfect spot for a bill hilly, jokes my guide, who knows I now live in Kentucky.

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    Family photo albums that I recently discovered contain images of my grandfather, always sharply dressed in a suit and tie, posing beside American ranchers in their cowboy hats and jeans.(Photo: Alfred Miller)

    Squint and you might actually mistake the cattle ranches of Masbate for those of Kentucky. Locals, like my guide, encourage such comparisons to America.

    Freedom is no seat belts, my guide says, in English, with a smile. So youre freer here than in the U.S.

    I cautiously unbuckle my seat belt for a taste of that freedom. The trucks dashboard doesnt yell at me. How liberating. But I clutch the door handle a little more firmly now.

    Along the highway, palm trees, stray dogs and water buffalo punctuate the dusty landscape. Crossing a river, we spot goldpanners below. My guides cell phone rings. Its the theme to the old Western film The Magnificent Seven.

    Perhaps my guide has watched too many such films. He talks casually of hired guns and standoffs as we speed heavily down the road, stray dogs fleeing in our wake.

    At a Philippine Army checkpoint, we slow down and my guide turns unusually quiet. There must have been a killing, he says, noting the presence of a soldier armed with a large rifle.

    For decades, the New Peoples Army, a communist rebel group that the U.S. and European Union have designated as a terrorist organization, have essentially owned the hills of some of the Philippiness most remote regions (other isolated areas are dominated by ISISs Southeast Asian affiliate Abu Sayyaf and the unfortunately nicknamed Moro Islamic Liberation Front, MILF). But the NPAs grip here is said to have loosened in recent years, thanks in part to roads like the one were on.

    Why join a terrorist organization when you can now ride to work in the city?

    An hour and a half into our drive, we turn off the highway and onto a dirt road. Six ranch hands, who work for our guides, are there to meet us.

    The ranch hands of my moms stories rode horses, but these sit astride motorcycles. Ranch hands prefer motorcycles to horses these days, my guide explains. Motorcycles are less temperamental.

    In the lead is Ulde, the rodeo king. Well into his 60s, hes still able to wrestle steers to the ground with his bare hands, my guide assures me. Studying his gait after he hops lithely from his motorcycle, I see no reason to doubt this.

    Up and down the grassy hills we roll. Its been nearly two hours since we left Masbate City.

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    My mother takes me on a tour of the tiny building that loomed so large in my imagination.(Photo: Alfred Miller)

    The land is still part of an active cattle ranch and we pass some Philippine cattle now. Growing up, Id sometimes hear, but never really appreciate, my mom waxing poetic about the virtues of different types of cattle when wed drive past farms. Then again, the cows Ive seen in upstate New York never looked quite like these.

    With their floppy ears and distinctive hump, Brahman cattle are well adapted to the Philippine heat, I learn from my guide. Ranchers here like to cross-breed them with the Angus cattle that we are more familiar with in America. Suddenly, my moms obsession with cattle breeds starts to make a little more sense.

    We drive on and I see a flock of black and white ducks land furtively behind some tall grass. My guide says Im lucky. If they're the kind of duck he thinks I saw, theyre endangered and his family has been working to protect them. I wonder whether my grandfather, who Im told loved animals, was familiar with these ducks.

    Finally, we approach a hill and the terrain becomes heavily wooded. It's herewhere we fear the path is impassable until the ranch hands draw their knives.

    Afterward, in the sunlight atop the hill, I see the first of three buildings, and in it, I can almost see my grandfather, though I never met the man. The buildings largely unblemished cinder block walls are strong and practical, while its corrugated metal roof gives it a vaguely Chinese feel.

    My mom and aunts get out of the truck in front of me and dont bother to wait. Stepping gingerly over the weeds that threaten to obscure the path to the house, I join my mom and aunts a couple of minutes later.

    The front door is gone, but somehow the wood shutters of my grandfathers beloved ranch house have survived decades of neglect. I cross the doorways tall threshold (a nod, I wonder, to the feng shui my mom is always so concerned about?) and into the house.

    The room smells of the dead leaves that have piled up in its corners and at the base of a white-tiled sink at the far end. Below the leaves, the floor is level and firm, as are a short set of red brick steps leading to another room.

    Im not sure my mother, a no-nonsense Tiger Mom,is capable of crying, but as she walks down these steps I notice her eyes are bright, the way they get when shes recounting memories of my grandfather. She takes me on a tour of the tiny building that loomed so large in my imagination. Here is where she used to strum the guitar; and here is where the food was prepared; and here on the porch is where the family gathered after dinner.

    Thats where we gather now to hear one of the ranch hands tell a harrowing tale involving the NPA, and I feel transported to the Philippines of my moms youth. The hulking tree that today dominates the front porch is a skinny sapling again, and I have a clear view of the open fields beyond.

    I realize its a scene not unlike the landscape of rural Kentucky. Perhaps something about my grandfathers unfulfilled dream has called me through the generations to make my home there instead of my native New York.

    Suddenly, less than 20 minutes after we arrived, its time to go. The NPAs presence makes lingering here unsafe.

    Satisfied that my grandfathers American dream still lives, were back on the road, down the hill, past the Brahman cattle that still feed on the land and back to town.

    Reach reporter Alfred Miller at or 502-582-7142. Follow him on Twitter @AlfredFMiller. Support strong local journalism by subscribing today:

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    Chasing the American dream: I found my grandpa's slice of the Old West in the Philippines - Courier Journal

    What was life like for Chinese Americans in 19th-century St. Louis? Our accounts from Hop Alley might be too obscured to really know – St. Louis… - December 5, 2019 by admin

    Chinese Americans have been active participants in St. Louis since the 1850s. While the population of Chinese Americans in the city numbered only in the hundreds for most of the 19th century, they faced intense prejudice and discrimination, much of which is now forgotten. Forced to live in a single block of downtown St. Louis, they endured decades of suspicion and misunderstanding that lasted into the mid-20th century and is well-documented in the pages of newspapers.

    To understand the Chinese American immigrant story in St. Louis and the United States in general, we must look to the West Coast, and particularly California, where the twin economic engines of the Gold Rush and the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad encouraged immigration to the newly admitted state. China, then ruled by the Manchu Dynasty, was suffering a series of military and diplomatic defeats in the Opium Wars, which allowed for British and American merchants to import the drug into Chinese ports. The drug epidemic in China, coupled with the Manchu Dynastys flagging fortunes, encouraged emigration.

    At first Chinese immigrants to California, mainly men, were greeted with curiosity, but as economic circumstances changed on the West Coast, they quickly became easy scapegoats for white Americans. A series of legal decisions and laws passed over the course of the late 19th century assured that Chinese Americans would not be relegated to second-class citizens, but to no citizenship at all. Bigotry can be cloaked in pseudo-intellectualism, as well, such as when the California Supreme Court ruled in 1854 inPeople v. Hallthat a Chinese man could not testify against a white man in court. The ruling reasonedthat because historians had posited that Native Americans had crossed over to the Americas via the Bering Straits Land Bridge, and thus were descended from Asians, and becauseNative Americans were lesser humans, by extension then Chinese were lesser humans as well. This was not a violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution, the Court assured, because the penalty for a conviction would still be the same.

    Laws passed starting in 1882 restricted immigration and stripped Chinese immigrants of their rights as citizens; further laws continued this trend over several generations. While initially Chinese workers were lauded for their hard work, they were now characterized as being lazy and shifty, always looking to steal or swindle from white Americans. And of course, in a pattern seen throughout American history, drug abuse was blamed on a small minority: Opium addiction was blamed on Chinese drug dealers, ignoring the fact, of course, that the opium originally reached the United States from India or Turkey on American- and British-owned ships.

    Then there were the massacres and lynching of innocent Chinese immigrants.Jean Pfaelzer, inDriven Out: The Forgotten War Against Chinese Americans,has documented over 150 major incidents of violence in American history. Perhaps the most infamous was the Rock Springs Massacre on September 2, 1885, when a mob of white miners attacked a Chinese mining settlement, killing at least 28 people if not dozens more in Wyoming. Most of the bodies were burned or mutilated. While in many of the instances of anti-Chinese violence, federal troops were dispatched to the scene, little could be done when the entire white population of the town was behind the violence. In a scene that would be repeated throughout the West, the soldiers could do little more than escort the survivors to safety.

    Months later, the ethnic cleansing of the entire Chinese population of Seattle ranks as one of the worst incidents of racial violence in America, following similar actions nearby in Tacoma, Washington, in 1885. On February 7, 1886, a huge mob invaded the homes of hundreds of Chinese residents, forcing them to hurriedly pack their belongings before beginning a march to the docks where a steamer waited to take them to San Francisco. Sheriff John McGraw responded in force, shots were fired, and both police officers and members of the mob fell in the streets of Seattle, seriously wounded.McGraw regained control of the city, but as had happened in Rock Springs, it was the sheriff against thousands of his citizens. Shortly thereafter, the Chinese community departed from the city, and McGraw was voted out of office in the next election.

    Back in St. Louis, the plight of Chinese immigrants followed a similar path as their countrymen on the West Coast, though thankfully there was no outbreak of violence seen in the late 19th century. The first Chinese resident of St. Louis was Alla Lee in 1857, as Huping Ling inChinese in St. Louis, 1857-2007recounts, and he would marry an Irish immigrant. He was also viewed as a curiosity, was fluent in English, and assimilated to local European American culture. When hundreds of fellow Chinese laborers, who immigrated internally from other parts of the United States to work in mines, came to the city, he served as a sort of go-to source for information on his native culture.

    But discrimination in employment forced most Chinese immigrants into the laundry business, which was hard, dirty work that required very little startup costs. Likewise, de facto housing discrimination forced the several hundred members of the Chinese community to live in one block of downtown, known as Hop Alley or Chinatown, surrounded by Market, 7th, Walnut, and 8th streets, which is now the location of noted architect Philip Johnsons General Life Insurance Building (Spire Gasheadquarters). The district was not, as frequently and erroneously stated, demolished for the construction of Busch Stadium, which was not even on the same block; an aerial photograph from 1955 reveals that most of the historic structures were already demolished for surface parking and other early 20th-century buildings long before the stadium was built in 1966.

    Likewise, an examination of Compton and DrysPictorial St. Louisfrom 1876, and fire insurance maps from 1874, 1892, 1897, and 1907, reveal that Hop Alley was far from some sort of Midwest version of Hong Kongs Kowloon Walled City, a densely packed multi-tired slum of Chinese people living in horrid conditions. In reality, those primary source maps reveal that the block containing Hop Alley was actually less dense than many blocks of low-income tenements surrounding downtown. There were even large swaths of open land throughout the backyards of many of the buildings. While there were small apartment buildings lining the alley bisecting the block, for the most part there were just the standard two-story commercial building typical of Soulard fronting the major streets. One begins to wonder if the tales of cramped conditions arose more out of newspaper accounts own prejudices than actual direct observation. There was, however, a giant lead smelter upwind from the block, which certainly was not a positive contributor to the health of the residents. Their houses also probably shook every time a train passed by in the tunnelunder 8th Street heading to the Eads Bridge. Burials were restricted to Wesleyan Cemetery and later Valhalla.

    Unfortunately, our main source of information of life in Hop Alley comes from racist and sensationalized accounts, mainly concerned with linking Chinese immigrants to drug dealing and miscegenation. The authors seemed most concerned with the white women who were married to Chinese men, as onePost-Dispatchauthor makes the assumption that since a Chinaman knows his inferiority, that he must treat his white wife better in order to keep her loyal. The description of Hop Alley in the article as far as density simply does not match up with contemporary documentation. Likewise, while there were certainly some opium dens in the neighborhood, the author chooses to only focus on those businesses, despite evidence that there were grocery stores, restaurants, carpenters, and other legitimate businesses. Another articles headline from 1900 simply proclaims Superstition Wields a Strong Influence Over All Chinamen, before going into a bizarre explanation of feng-shui.

    The fortunes of Chinese Americans in St. Louis and elsewhere changed in 1943 in the midst of World War II. While many Americans forget today, China was an ally of the United States, and had been fighting its own wars against Japan since the 1930s. The image of China changes again in the American conscience, as war propaganda now showed Chinese soldiers fighting bravely against Japanese imperialism. Along with aid, the anti-immigration laws that had been in effect throughout much of America were abolished in 1943 in tandem with the war effort. Anti-Asian bias of course shifted to Japanese Americans, 120,000 of whom were then forcefully expelled from their homes and interred in camps for the duration of World War II.

    What was life like for Chinese Americans in 19th-century St. Louis? Our accounts from Hop Alley might be too obscured to really know - St. Louis...

    Enhancing Wealth Chi – Star of Mysore - November 25, 2019 by admin

    Activating thework space, be it home of office, ensures a clear vision, goal and a pathtowards prosperity. The science of Feng Shui gives an opportunity to tap intothe universal energies and achieve the dreams and desires of good business.

    The ancientChinese art of orienting buildings, aligning the space, interiors and placingobjects to maximise their harmony with surroundings is a age old method in thepractice of Feng Shui. The philosophy is grounded in the idea that consciouslysituating objects allows them to better absorb the Earths natural energy.

    For business andoffice spaces, Feng Shui activates the energies to usher in team spirit,networking, finance, growth and stability luck.

    Good Feng Shui,does not bring you wealth if you do not strive for it, but it gives you thenecessary support to seek your wealth and fortune. It helps you use variousFeng Shui cures to create an environment, be it home or office. Thisstrengthens the occupants and the space to attract the Feng Shui energies ofprosperity and wealth.

    The workplace isone of the key areas where Feng Shui can be implemented which can in turn helpyou focus on your intentions, clear your mind to produce high quality work thatyour clients, bosses, and co-workers will admire.

    The entrance toyour office is a key component of Feng Shui because it is what allows energy toflow freely into and out of your space. Therefore, making sure it is free ofclutter is imperative. Also, the door to your office should open completelywithout anything getting in the way.

    For goodbusiness, choose locations where main door entrances face open spaces to allowlight to enter. And most importantly, make sure business offices and customerreception areas are well-lit to attract positive energy.

    Avoid anyclutter on the surface of your desk and place plenty of organisers on top of itso that you can keep files and tools out of your way. This will allow theenergy and creativity to flow while you work. A good rule is to aim for half ofyour desktop to be free of clutter at all times.

    In Feng Shui, alot of significance is attached to flowing water and aquariums. When placedcorrectly, they usher in big wealth luck as water is thought to be a powerfulFeng Shui element, promoting good business and prosperity.

    Colours andappropriate wall dcors harmonise the prosperity Chi. Hence, some colours havea great significance in Feng Shui. Six important Feng Shui business colours areas follows:

    Purple is alsoa colour of wealth and prosperity. It is a colour which can quell stressfulbusiness and is also suitable for those in antique art business.

    The colourBlue is the most universal colour in business as it is said to invoke trust,loyalty, reliability and responsibility. It is the colour of water. Hence, excess blue is not good. Moderate the colourand shades of indigo would be better too.

    Green is thecolour of nature, freshness and harmony. Darker shades of green are related tomoney, prestige and wealth, while lighter shades represent freshness, growth,kindness and sympathy.

    Yellowstimulates the logical side of the brain and mind clarity. However, use yellowas a supportive colour and not a standalone bright shade as excess yellow issaid to cause anxiety.

    The colour Orange boosts concentration, as well as creativity. It is warm and vibrant colour and hence, using it in proper combination with other shades will enhance the Yang feel.

    The colour Red is the colour of good fortune, confidence, luck and money. It also signifies anger hence even this shade should be moderated and combined with other colours.


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    Enhancing Wealth Chi - Star of Mysore

    Illness appears first in the mind before the body – - November 25, 2019 by admin

    Inquirer columnist Randy Davids piece, The smell of illness, in the the papers Nov. 17 issue caught my attention and interest.

    In the article, Mr. David narrated the story of a Scottish former nurse, Joy Milne, who could smell Parkinsons Disease long before it manifests physically. Her story was featured in the German magazine Spiegel Online, which David had read. This rare ability is called hyperosmia, according to the magazine.

    But theres another name for it in the psychic and parapsychological literature.

    Many years ago, I remember a young man who attended my Basic ESP and Intuition Seminar. During a psychic exercise where he had to work with a partner he had never met before, he discovered that he could tell the disease his partner was suffering from by its smell.

    He did not know this before. Even if he had a cold, he could tell, which means this ability is not a purely physical or accidental thing. Because of this psychic ability, we called him The Nose.

    In my years of conducting ESP seminars, I have encountered only two students who had such an ability.

    There is a name for each of this heightened sense perception. For example, the ability to see things (like ghosts), which are not normally visible to ordinary sight, is called clairvoyance. The ability to feel subtle energy of people is called clairsentience. And the heightened ability to smell things which may not yet be physically present is called clairolfaction.

    There are some highly sensitive and psychically developed individuals who can do such things effortlessly. These are really forms of psychic ability or power. They are neither supernatural, nor are they hallucination or imagination.

    And why is it possible to sense the presence of an illness before it manifests on the physical place?

    The reason is not hard to find. It has long been known by psychics, shamans and spiritists around the world that before anything exists on the physical plane, it must first exist on the spiritual and mental planes. And so, before sickness manifests in the physical body, it already exists in the spiritual and mental planes. This is because the physical is the last to manifest in the order of creation.

    As the American psychic and prophet Edgar Cayce used to say, The mind is the builder, the physical is the result. The spiritual and mental planes are in the realm of causes, while the physical is in the realm of effects.

    Some psychics can detect ailments in the aura of an individual before it manifests on the physical body. And thats why Kirlian photography, which was developed by Russian photographer Semyon Kirlian to see the human aura, can detect the onset of illness before it manifests in the physical level.

    Expectedly, Kirlian photographys ability to do this is disputed by mainstream scientists. This obviously needs further research to validate its reliability.

    I am certain that through more practice, Joy Milne can detect diseases other than Parkinsons before they manifest in the physical body. Because before a person gets sick physically, he or she is already sick spiritually and mentally.

    The next Soulmates, Karma and Reincarnation Seminar will be held on Dec. 7, 1-7 p.m. For more details and information on seminars, books, past life regression and consultancy, contact 88107245 or 0998-9886292; email [emailprotected]

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