Monday, December 29, 2014

Climate Change and Jolly Old Grandma


The Fairy Tale Art of Carl Larsson

Did you hear that Jolly old grandma was developing bags under her eyes and she worried and made a fuss that her bags were getting larger and it would be her end. At the same time cancers were developing on her left, right and center and expanding slowly but surely, yet grandma worried no end about the bags under her eyes and had little attention left for the cancers, that one day would engulf her and put an end to her worries in the not too distant future.

Is our lovely dear old earth, or the humans that walk upon it, behaving like that grandma? It is making a huge hue and cry about carbon emissions that not all agree are a serious problem, some even mentioning that it is good for plants and the planet as a whole and that stronger greenhouse gases such as water vapor are a necessity for the planet and have been around for as long as life has in proportions that are hugely larger so that perhaps not even the feedback loops of NASA can deal with them, while cancers like inequality affecting large numbers, deforestation and unprecedented human population increases, desperate and devastated child refugees driven out of their homes by violence in the millions, nuclear warheads around every corner of the planet, all this like never before seen on the planet, stalk the earth.

A scientist had found that there was a perfect correlation between global temperature rise and the average size of chicken burgers being sold, much better than with carbon emission levels. A one inch increase in size led to an increase of one degree rise and that an international conference at Lima or Paris ( a visit to the Louvre never fails to delight the soul) must be called to limit the increase to two inches so that the temperature rise is limited to two degrees but our jolly old grandma was not bothered. She insisted she too had studied a bit of fudge-fudge nudge-nudge statistical correlations at school and that there was an even better statistical correlation between the size of her eye bags and global temperature increase and challenged all and sundry to prove that she was wrong as he said,

"You damn fool, go into the forest and see how much cooler it is in there, are you surprised then that there is global warming now that you have cut most down. Just plant more trees and all shall be well, and as regards those damn correlations, make a new one of global warming with forest cover on the planet and you shall find it fits like a T."
:)

http://steamcenter.blogspot.in/2014/12/how-to-make-climate-change-debate-more.html

Has the World become wicked?



While some of the leading prophets that walked the earth predicted that a day shall come soon when the world comes to an end, when wickedness shall be on the rise and the wicked shall be vanquished while removing the good to safe havens. Nevertheless, the world continues to throb with life. This does not mean that the prophets were wrong. Time scales can vary and what is soon for a prophet tuned into timeless Universal Consciousness may be quite different for you and me. In an earlier post in this blog, this blogger had remarked that the way population is increasing on the planet, it might become unsustainable by 2030 or perhaps 2050 and that might be the time that the Lord decides to step in to fix matters.

This time would also coincide, as per the prophets, when much goodness shall disappear from the face of the earth; when selfishness, meanness, wickedness etc. shall rise. Is that happening in our world? On the whole now are humans becoming kinder and nicer folk instead?

I have spent my childhood in India and also presently live here while having lived in other places as well in the interim. During my younger days in India, there was a practice in many North Indian middle class restaurants that when one ordered a meal of a nice spicy dish and oven roasted unleavened bread, dal or a dish of lentils was served free on the side. However bit by bit over the last four decades this practice has vanished and now they charge for it if you want some. There was another practice in the local vegetable shops. When one bought some vegetables for the day’s meal, some herbs like green chilies or coriander used commonly in local dishes were added free to the food basket by the vendor. This practice too has disappeared slowly but surely over the last couple of decades. Now they charge for it if you want some. Could this be a sign that the world has become meaner? However, one cannot jump to conclusions from isolated facts from a developing country. To get a clearer picture one must turn one’s gaze to the largest economies of the world and look at major data, not just a bunch of coriander leaves. Let us look at USA.

Recently it was in the news that while the US economy has started growing, the benefits have only gone to the rich and the income of the middle classes has not increased. That is something that has been happening over the last several decades. The income of the middle classes is not rising while that of the rich are and inequalities are growing. That is something one would expect in a world that has become meaner and more selfish. The rich and powerful control how the economy works. It is not that simple solutions are not available to fix inequalities or the bonuses of bankers. This blog has talked of that earlier.

As regards the poor, homelessness is on the rise even in the richest country of the world and while some might expect some humans to come out in charity, one might even see the reverse in a world gone crazy with wickedness. They might even make it illegal to feed the hungry and the homeless and that is what it seems is  happening in some places. It seems that in Florida they even jailed a ninety year old who had been feeding the homeless for many years.

A time may come when prisoners shall be captured, taken to a far away places to be locked up without trial and tortured, a time when because some one loved the profits of illegal drugs and killed others over it, little children unaccompanied by their parents will run out of their homes in fear, trekking across thousands of mile for a safe haven and when they arrive at one; they shall be gathered and locked up in cold unheated rooms. Is that happening now? This blog has articles on such minors. That is not all, in a wicked world we might see many twit there fingers while children are killed and bombed out of their homes by the thousands and millions and that too is happening unfortunately in our world.

So on the whole dear friend, with all its economic and scientific advancements, does it look like the world is getting kinder or more humane or is it that we are near times of unsustainable wickedness amongst a large and influential section of humanity?

Update: A Himalayan mystic has prophesied that comet Lovejoy is a sign that a Messiah shall be born on earth between the 7th and 9th of January and then eradicate the wicked part of the world when he grows up beginning around Himalayas. Was wondering when he grows up and begins? Anywhere between 16 and 36? that would tie in with speculations in some posts of this blog of 2030-50 perhaps. For the prophesy see
http://nainitalgoddess.blogspot.com



Mindful Breathing by Patanjali, Father of Yoga






While breathing is an automatic function of life, its conscious management has been used often from the simplest of emotional management techniques such as – ‘hold your breath’, ‘take a deep breath’ to advanced practices for yoga and the Buddhist techniques of mindful breathing. The revered Himalayan sage, Patanjali was an ancient sage who lived around 400 BC in Northern India. He is regarded as the father of Yoga. His treatise on yoga is the original and foremost text on the subject and he too has talked on the subject.

Patanjali has summarized yoga in extremely brief phrases called sutras. Their elaboration is left for later commentaries. As regards his work on Yoga, Patanjali has kept it free of any reference to religion, ritual, tradition etc. perhaps so that all may benefit from it. However he includes devotion to God as an essential element. While defining God he has not used existing nomenclature but defined Him in general terms as the supreme consciousness of Infinite knowledge and power. Since his time, many developments have taken place in various aspects of Yoga, some religious and others free of religion. The reference in this article is to a single practice called – mindful breathing that is free of religion but should be regarded simply as a technique for improving mind, body and soul, just as physical exercise is a technique for improving the body.

While Mindful Breathing is a popular practice amongst Buddhists (please see an older post and discussion on that in this blog) its interpretation differs in detail from what Patanjali prescribed in his text in a single phrase (Sutra 34, Chapter 1) illustrating that there is more than one technique to employ breathing for spiritual evolution.

By practice of breathing out repeatedly and stopping the breath also (the hindrances dissolve- added from context)

This brief phrase summarizes the essence of the mindful breathing practice due to Patanjali. It goes without saying that breathing out repeatedly is preceded by breathing in repeatedly. It is typical of Patanjali to use the fewest of words, leaving out that which can be deduced through common sense, reflection, practice and a study of his text as a whole. He has begun the text by stating that yoga is the stilling fluctuations of mind and permitting consciousness to return to its pure state. In a later part of the text, Patanjali has used a broader term for breath regulation called Pranayama as a part of an eightfold yoga system but the present one quoted here refers simply to mindful breathing independent of the eight fold yoga.

Since yoga is attended by stilling activities of the mind, this mindful breathing practice must be accompanied by stilling thought and its return to pure consciousness not trapped in thought.  It may be deduced that while practicing this form of mindful breathing there must be a gentle attempt to still thought while sitting in a relaxed position and merely observing the process of breathing inwards and outwards calmly. This is identical to mindful breathing as practiced by Buddhists however the difference is that in this practice a conscious attempt is made to stop the breathing process momentarily briefly after breathing out. It is something that can happen automatically too in the Buddhist method leading to identical results.

The entire process must be gentle since any forceful or stressful interruption defeats the very purpose of the exercise. If thoughts wander, bring them back gently. Gradually the breathing will become deeper, more relaxed and more rhythmic and a sense of peace shall prevail, rejuvenating mind, body and soul. A person may begin the practice with a few minutes a day gradually increasing it to half an hour a day, once, twice or thrice a day and then moving on to practicing it any time one is not engaged in any other designated activity. There was a time this author smoked and when many attempts to give it up failed, he tried this method and was able to give up smoking quite easily.

Image adapted from
This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Spice of Life, a gourmet’s delight




From a Spice shop in Goa, India
A variety of spices and herbs are used by humans to make an otherwise plain meal delightful. The use of the right spice makes for a gourmet’s delight. Of all the regions in the world, South Asian cuisine makes most uses of spices. There are several reasons for this, the foremost being that the climatic zones of South Asia are most suitable for the growth of a variety of spices. This region has had a long civilization history stretching back more than five thousand years, much of it prosperous times, although recent centuries have seen much poverty too. With Buddha, some two and half thousand years ago, came the concept of vegetarianism and with that also arose the necessity of making many, otherwise bland, vegetarian dishes delicious with the use of spices. Moreover most of the spices used have health benefits too. Perhaps that is the reason the Lord gave them such a nice taste. Europeans came to India in search of spices and Columbus discovered America because his ship reached another destination instead.

The British spent over two hundred years in India and gradually acquired the taste of spiced South Asian dishes. When the British left India and returned to England they missed some of these. In India they had the use of a host of professional cooks and chefs at affordable wages and therefore few British ladies bothered to cook Indian dishes and did not learn the proper use of spices. Back in England a spice mix called curry powder became popular because it was easy to use. I too have lived in the West for many years and tried the mix. Unfortunately the resulting food was not even passable. It is because commercial interests dictate the use of the cheapest (as also the most phooey) spices in the mix so that even the aroma is unpleasant. Moreover there is not just one spice mix but hundreds of different ones required for the different dishes cooked in an average Indian Kitchen each prepared by adding individual spices to the dish being prepared. Spices have also been a poor man’s aid. Cooking some of the cheaper ones with a bit of vegetables, a bit of cooking oil and water produces a broth that can be consumed with unleavened bread to save a person from hunger and is a frequent practice in poverty stricken homes of India.

However, it is not that ready made spice mixes are not used in Indian kitchens. A highly popular one is called Garam Masala (The hot spice mix) is a must for the best North Indian dishes. Its precise composition however varies form region to region and home to home. My mother by the name of Nando came from a highly cultured family of North West India and she brought with her the mixing formula of her own home. The same formula is now used in my home too and to this, based on my International travel and experience, I have added another spice mix in the kitchen that I call Hara Masala (green spice mix). Very many guests at my mother’s home as well as my own have remarked that the food tastes so much better than anywhere else. A major contributing cause is the use of these two spice mixes that along with two other spices – Turmeric and red Chilies, suffice for most dishes cooked regularly in our kitchen while other specific spices are required only occasionally. Therefore the idea came to me that I must share the formula for these two spice-mixes with the readers of this blog so that they too may produce more joy in their kitchens

Garam Masala:

Take a cup each of whole black pepper corns and whole cumin seeds. To this add a quarter cup each of cinnamon sticks, cloves and the large black cardamom pods. Spread out these spices in a tray and leave them by a sunny window to sun and air for about eight hours. Then after sunset grind them in the home blender to a fine powder. Immediately transfer and pack in a tight container while removing some to a smaller one for daily use. Frequent exposure to air would make the mix lose its aroma therefore this two-step packing is a necessity.


Hara Masala

This spice mix is also a mix of five spices. Take a cup of coriander seeds, half a cup of bay leaves and a tablespoon full of basil leaves, fennel seeds and the small green cardamom pods. Sun, grind and pack them just as for the Garam Masala.

Replacing Curry Powder

Now you can throw away the curry powder, if any in your kitchen. Instead for a dish that calls for it, use a tea spoon each of the Garam Masala, Hara Masala and half a teaspoon of turmeric powder instead. You may try variations by leaving out one of the three spice mixes for different dishes. Garam Masala has cumin in it that does not taste good without frying. Whole cumin seeds are fried in a bit of hot oil for a few minutes (until they are dark brown but not black) before including in a dish along with the oil used. However when Garam Masala is used, frying it in very hot oil for just half a minute suffices. No more than a level teaspoon each is required for a dish that serves four. You may use a pinch of hot chili powder in a dish according to taste but a lot of chili is not used in good Indian homes, while a lot may be used in a poor man's home because the other spices are expensive. The two spice mixes, Garam Masala and Hara Masala would brighten up most any western recipe of meat or vegetables as well as sauces for pasta.

Enjoy, this post has come a bit late for the Christmas dinner but not too late for New Year. Wishing you a very happy new year.

For a generic recipe of exotic North India curry dishes see

http://steamcenter.blogspot.in/2015/09/need-for-dehydrating-onions-and-other.html


Photo from Wikipedia:

This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Spices_in_an_Indian_market.jpg



Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Design of a Retreat





Figure1: Design for a yoga and meditation retreat

A few like minded friends have been pondering over developing an International Yoga and Meditation retreat in the countryside of the Himalayan foothills where the air and water is pure and a view of surrounding forests and hills inspiring. We are all retired persons and do not know if the concept would materialize. Nevertheless, I am sharing the essence of the concept in this blog so that others elsewhere may make use of the idea if interested. The idea is to provide a place in Sylvan surroundings, to group tours from different countries where they can spend three weeks, learning yoga and meditation from a competent teacher (who too would be invited for the purpose) one hour a day, on week days while joining a tour of nearby Himalayan destinations in weekends, or just relaxing at the retreat.

The Facilities:

The proposed retreat is planned on a five acre country lot that would be developed as a bio-diverse orchard and organic vegetable garden interspersed with two residential buildings and two smaller hangouts as shown in Figure 1. There would also be a small artificial lake on the premises, charged with rain water harvested from the surrounding and water pumped from the ground that is plentiful in this region with help of solar PV driven pumps. The roofs of all building shall have solar PV panels. The lake serves to partially bound the plot too.

The detailed designing of the building has been developed around a very simple concept. These consist of unit areas of 11 feet x 25 feet (excluding walls) that would have partitions to create kitchens and bathrooms or without partitions to create larger halls for lounge and dining etc. This unit construction makes construction very simple yet sturdy and comfortable.

Figure 2

Putting two such units together would create two room suites with kitchen and bathroom as shown in figure 2. The design has been taken from an earlier post of this blog concerning the design of a cottage. A row of six such suites would be the ground floor of building number two and be allotted permanently to the five directors (if it is a non-profit company) or five trustees (if registered as a trust) with one more for special guests/invitees. The first floor would have 12 single rooms and bathrooms, essentially with the design of the right hand side of the unit of figure 2, for visitors.

Figure3
Block1 as shown in figure 3 consists of twelve such 11 x 25 units divided as shown on the ground floor. It would have twelve individual rooms and bathrooms on the first floor similar to block 1

Thus the entire accommodation of the complex would comprise of six apartments for the trustees, one for the manager in block 1 plus two twin sharing rooms for younger staff on ground floor of block 1. This would permit groups of 24 persons as singles or up to 48 as doubles to be a part of a tour group. Other staff as required on the retreat would be hired from the surrounding country and would not live at the retreat.

An Alternative

An  even better alternative, if land is available, is to have four single story blocks rather than two double story ones. These hide better withing tree tops and also permit a view of trees and green for those within them permitting a more natural setting. They are also easier and simple to construct in case full construction machinery is not available at location. The tools required for a single story construction are very simply improvised. Although it may seem that the construction cost of these may be more because of extra foundations, it is not so because of lower finishing costs.

Financing: 

The five trustees or directors would begin their trust or company with a small initial and equal non-refundable contribution only as a token of their intention.  Five has been considered an auspicious number for social management in the Himalayan belt since ancient times. One of the trustees shall be the financing trustee who shall have adequate personal funds to then give a loan to the trust for the development and infrastructure of the retreat, estimated at 2.5 million dollars issued in installments as the project progresses. That sounds like a lot of money for most but then there are those with a lot more looking for a good project to chase that multiplies their money and helps them find peace and joy. The present one fits the bill most eminently. This estimate is on the higher side and it could be done with less too. Half the cost is of land. The trust shall pay back the loan over a 25 year period to the trustee or his nominee (in case of demise) at a flexible schedule depending on the income of the trust. The surety for the loan would be the entire retreat including land and buildings. In case the trust is unable to pay back the loan at the end of the 25 year period the entire retreat and bank or any other assets of the trust would become the personal property of the financing trustee (or nominee as the case may be) to do with as he pleases. With the way land prices have been increasing in the world, it would turn out to be an excellent investment for the financing trustee if he had the funds to invest, while also creating an excellent facility that will exist for 25 years at the very least.

More than one trustee could also join in to finance but in this case the repayment schedule and final ownership in case of default would be a little more complicated although it is not something that cannot be worked out after deliberation.The fact that there might be two financing trustees has been kept in mind while developing the plot symmetrically in case a need arose to divide in two. Two financial trustees would give the financing members better control on the affairs of the trust as member trustees. With more than two however the profit motive may begin to dominate and compromise the activity.

The facility would require two years for construction after acquisition of land, but the five trustee apartments would be constructed and furnished first so that some may live in the retreat at the earliest to supervise the development. Early activity can begin in prefab structures even as plantation/construction proceeds.

Management:

To manage the day to day affairs the trustees shall appoint a managing committee that consists of any or all of the trustees that wish to be in, any or all of their nominees (one each), the manager of the retreat, one of the staff member, full time sharers (described later) if any or any other persons the trustees choose from time to time.

Each trustee would assign a nominee that may be the spouse or any other person the trustee chooses and upon demise of the trustee the nominee shall take his or her place, inheriting the accommodation and rights of the trustee, so that the trust may continue in perpetuity.

It is proposed that once the retreat develops, one month time shares would be sold to other interested persons (refundable only if asked for in the first three years minus charges of time used), on a one time life membership so that the person may stay for a month free of lodging charges at the retreat (board charges would be levied as for everyone else). A person may also purchase more than one slot or even 12 slots a year so that he can stay permanently in the retreat if he or she so desires. Such persons will be designated as full time sharers.

A primary feature visualized for the retreat is to have themed programs i.e. some months for international groups, some for university faculty, authors, politicians, business owners, business executives etc. Three weeks of a stay in a green country retreat at the foot of green mountains charged by spring waters, with sun, breeze, meditation and mindful breathing in loving surroundings can do wonders to rejuvenate a stressed executive or businessman to high levels of performance while programs for university faculty can highlight the introduction of value and ethical education in their respective programs. Authors can hope to increase their creativity through meditation practice. With a three week program and a week for the retreat to refresh for a new program, one program a month for ten months can be held for ten different groups, whereas the peak tourist months of the season for the region of May and June may be left open for the general tourist.

Enlarged Concept

The present note discusses a small project on five acres but with larger availability of land and funds it can be extended. For example if  twenty five acres were available then it could also include an International Institute/Center for yoga studies and  provide one year diplomas in yoga education.

PS: Any yoga minded out there (resident of  UK, USA or India only) interested in joining and contributing to the project, please do get in touch.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Life of Senior Citizens in the Modern Age – Opportunities, Challenges and Solutions




Life of Senior Citizens
While the modern age has produced certain advantages for senior citizens, it has also thrown up new problems and challenges.

Let us mention some advantages first. Modern transportation makes getting around much easier especially for senior citizens. The internet and mobile communication devices make communications, shopping and access of information easy for a citizen who is getting on in years and less able to get around. Modern healthcare has made life easier in many ways. An aging person can easily acquire reading glasses, dentures and even some cosmetic things like hair dyes that can make him or her look and feel younger. Simple things like antibiotics can conquer an infection and increase longevity. Other simple surgical procedures are available to make the life of a senior citizen easier. However, there is a dark side to it as well, there are modern medical procedures that will make money and comfort for the doctor but leave the senior worse off than ever before and senior citizens must exercise caution and careful consideration before submitting to any such.

Financial Difficulties

There was a time when a senior citizen retired and he had some savings or pensions he knew he had some savings because then money was measured against something solid like gold and bankers did not expect a bonus that touched the sky. In the modern age there is no guarantee what savings would mean tomorrow with inflation or other financial policies the government or the bank adopts. It will impact on the near virtual money that people hold in their hands today. It is merely paper that can be printed at will, held together by mere faith in a system that is subject to change with elections and levels of greed that prevail with the powerful. Bank interest rates of term deposits hardly keep up even if a bank does not sink because of its huge bonuses, risky loans and gambling; while putting the money in an investment company could be worse in some cases when the next financial crisis comes or if the agency is owned by a Bernie Madhoff.

In case there is inflation, it is true that the value of an asset like a home can go up considerably but if one lives in that home it is of no use to the senior citizen, while if he gets a reverse mortgage with a bank he is pushed from the security of a fully owned home to the insecurity of one owned by the bank. A solution for some well off senior citizens has been to own additional two or three homes or lands besides their primary residence that they can dispose off every five or ten years, two or three times during the course of their senior years, after their retirement to reap the benefits of inflation. Some others have traditionally kept a part of assets in gold biscuits in bank lockers and although gold prices do not always rise over the short term they have risen over the long tern to suit a senior citizen just fine.

Home Alone

While modern health care can increase life spans that in itself becomes a problem when a senior citizen is left alone in life. Happily married couples do not leave for heaven together, leaving one of them behind at a stage of life when a person is least able to cope alone. In other cases a person is left single much earlier through divorce that has become more common in modern times than it has ever been in the past. While it is true that being alone is better than persisting in an unhappy marriage, being alone is no cake walk either. In the past some of the unhappy couples managed to develop a working or even a good relationship over time, whereas in the new age when a person marries again he or she may find that they have jumped from the frying pan into the fire.

Children grow up and move away in an increasingly mobile world and unlike in the past where families continued to persist in the same town for generations, there are no close relatives at hand at a moment of need. The growing population and increased mobility means that towns and cities have become larger and neighborhoods impersonal into which new people move in from time to time including criminals looking for soft targets such as senior citizens, thus creating new insecurities in the life of senior citizens that were  absent in the past.

A solution for some senior citizens has been to move in with their children or have them move in with you if they agree, or better still have an independent apartment in the home of the son or daughter. That way the senior can have company of grandchildren and call upon the son or daughter at times of difficulty while providing support to the young family too. The children get looked after better when the parents are away and so does the home. While this has been a good solution in some cases, it has not been so in many other cases for reasons that are known to the concerned person and would be too long to include here. It is also not possible in all cases.

The problem of being left alone at a vulnerable age is something that is faced not just by the poor and middle classes but also the very rich. Even a billionaire living in a mansion has to depend on staff and when a staff member goes on leave or changes jobs, life can change into misery. As regards security, this author has observed the case of a rich person who had kept security guards who robbed him eventually. Security guards can in many cases be the biggest security risk for a rich person, or even that personal nurse, who when she found out where the old man hid his diamonds doubled his medicinal dose one night to wipe her tears over his dead body next morning while she tucked the diamonds deeper into the folds of her gown : -).

Some seniors seek recourse to an old age home but here too, there are new difficulties that may crop up. First is that they may not like the management style and the regulations they prescribe that vary from home to home. Next is they may detest the food that is served in the common mess. After some time the company of persons as old as or older than them may become tiring and a visit by the church group or charity at Christmas  contrived. In the worst of cases, the old age home may levy charges that become more and more unaffordable with age until the time comes when the old person is thrown out on the street at an age when the only option that remains is to bid goodbye to the world under the starry skies on a cold freezing night.

A Possible Solution;

A possible solution for senior citizens is to come together in groups of ten, twenty or thirty of like minded individuals from similar financial and cultural background and create their own joint senior home with common essential services. That way they can mange their affairs through a committee that they elect and change every year. The problem of food from a common kitchen may be overcome if their individual apartments have a kitchen or kitchenette and if they have the option to choose how many meals to have at the common mess while also having the option to have the food delivered in a tray to their apartment at a time they feel indisposed. The problem of only having seniors for company is overcome if the complex has a portion to rent to younger working persons or families. Such a rent would also provide income to the complex and an opportunity to continue contributing to society even at a senior age aside from looking after themselves. With a carefully designed plan, it is possible that the senior and spouse has to make just a single one time payment for life so that the problem of increasing fees would not arise with age.

The nature of the complex can vary according to financial background and the required one time payment. It may vary from a resort for the very rich that has a swimming pool, sauna, gardens, golf course, fields for their own organic produce etc. to the most basic compact dormitory style accommodation with shared bathrooms for the very poor.

There should also be the provision for a senior to opt out in case he or she finds another alternative with a refund of a reasonable portion of their initial payment, a portion that would depend on the number of years they have stayed in the joint home and paid from the fees collected from a new addition to the complex.  While all this may sound utopian it is perfectly feasible with careful planning and design. Certainly it can also become a mess if that planning is not done at the outset. This author has applied his experience and mind to the issue and he proposes to discuss in future the details of such a complex in this blog to assist others although for his own self it may have become a bit late in the day.  Some aspects of it have already been suggested in an older post with drawings for design of apartments as well as a complex for a group of twenty senior citizens (here). Wisdom often comes when the time for its use has flown by, but it is a good idea to share it with others who may still be able make use of it.

An alternative route that may be simpler for a group of like minded seniors wishing to develop common housing and services is to purchase individual adjacent plots in their own individual names while creating a common society to purchase another lot adjoining it to develop common facilities, and agreeing informally to house the entire complex in a common compound. Such a purchase is possible in undemarcated countryside land from a single seller on which construction is permitted. Thereby in case the joint activity does not work well the individual members still have their own plots to do with as they please.

However, it may be mentioned that such self run senior groups and the complex cannot come up overnight. It would take from two to five years before a group is created, with new members being added as some original ones leave, acquire land, design and build the complex, prepare and register the bylaws to mange it and make it operational. While modern humans are good at planning for retirement, few are good at preparing for the latter very old age part of their retirements but it is something a wise citizen of the world may start considering soon as they are fifty or at the most when they are sixty five. It would be wise to do so and it is the need of the modern age. Quite apart from the difficulties pointed out in this note, it is necessary to mention that old age can easily be the most joyous part of life not the most miserable but it requires a human to turn his or her gaze inwards to the spiritual side and outwards to commune with nature. There is already a lot on that in numerous posts of this blog.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Colors of America 2016, Bush vs. Clinton and Bernie too




NOTE: This is an old post from 2014 when Bernie Sanders was not in the race but after he came in, an update has been added on him in a new section at the end of this note.

The media is speculating that the Presidential race in USA in 2016 might be between Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton. Since America is presently the most influential country in world affairs, the entire world is looking at this with interest. Best wishes to both although this blogger feels that a Republican may not be able to help the majority of American people at a time when inequalities have been rising for over three decades.

In an earlier post, while referring to a book ( found easily by search on Amazon) on fortunate dress colors – The CAANS System, based on some personal metaphysical (not substantiated by science but by belief and intuition) data of the person this blog had published the fortunate dress colors of Hillary Clinton. The book has terrible reviews on Amazon as can happen with things mystical but in reality has fantastic suggestions. Those reviews may be by people who fail in life while some who have conformed to the suggestions have laughed all the way to the bank or become world leaders.

To level out the playing field, at least as far as this blog is concerned, the same exercise has now been repeated for Jeb Bush. Both colors along with their precise RGB values are published below. Just to clarify, the dresses can be combined with black or white as per the book and are most effective on the upper part of the body,  e.g. a shirt or tie with white shirt of the indicated color for a man. The color the system produced for Jeb appears to be the color for a nice and friendly retiring man perhaps and not a future President.

The color shown here is the second CAANS color for Hillary, the first one was in an earlier post here:
http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2014/05/a-dress-color-for-hilary-clinton-and.html 
A Caans dress color for Jeb Bush

 A Caans dress Color for Hillary Clinton
UPDATE: April 20, 2015: Perhaps Hillary or someone on her behalf has noted the suggestion of this blog if one went by a recent picture here: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/78039006020034116/    Best wishes to her.

UPDATE May 3, 2015

Bernie Sanders

Now we have Bernie Sanders in the race too. He is a staunch advocate of greater equality and the world needs that. America appears to have done exceedingly well with a conservative right wing economic philosophy until around 1980. Even though the rich got richer, the others got richer too and inequalities did not increase. However ever since 1978 things seem to have got out of hand and inequalities have been rising with the rich getting richer and the poor being pushed into hunger and homelessness. A trickle down effect appears to have reversed into a trickle up one for more than three decades now. For more on this with data, reasons and causes see this other article in a companion blog, here:


Some concerns arise from his age but that can be fixed. If he begins consumption of some of the Himalayan herbs described in this blog and begins drinking the cocktail – Pee Johnny, also described in an earlier post, we might just have a young Bernie again. Pee Johnny is half an ounce of well aged scotch whiskey, some ice and filled up to a glass with the water of a fresh green coconut. It bears that name because aside from its tonic value it is a strong diuretic. There is another equally mystical Himalayan suggestion that could help Bernie. Some astrologically and numerological determined colors for a man’s tie or jacket seem to have helped other world leaders elsewhere. The method has been summarized in a brief book called the CAANS system for dress colors available widely.  I looked that up for Bernie to find his fortunate colors. Here it is: Both are shades of blue recommended for a tie or even jackets on white shirts with RGB values determined from his birth and name data as RGB, 50, 50, 150 and 50, 50, 250. It is illustrated in the picture, and boy, oh boy, do those colors ever look Presidential!

CAANS System Dress Colors for Bernie Sanders

 May the best man or lady win
May the Best candidate win, who can contribute to greater peace and happiness in America and the world, to the majority 99.9 percent, not just the elite 0.1, as some might have been doing for the last thirty years resulting in just 85 individuals owning as much wealth as that of half the humans on the planet according to a report by Oxfam International (see here). 
MORE
An open letter to Bernie sanders here from Mystic Himalayas
http://someitemshave.blogspot.in/2015/05/open-letter-to-bernie-sanders-from.html

UPDATE JUNE, 29, 2015

I watch all the personalities mentioned in this post from time to time whenever they happen to come on media and recently I was pleasantly surprised to note that while Bernie looks the same as always, Hillary Clinton has begun to look far younger than her years. I am wondering if she has taken up the Himalayan secrets of becoming younger again as mentioned in this note. I know from past knowledge that she loves eastern food and is open to mystic and herbal knowledge. My best wishes to her once again. May the best person win. Was just wondering what Bill would be called this time if they do since Hillary would bt POTUS. He shall be FGOTUS (First Gentleman)

UPDATE MAY 25, 2016 THE VERY REAL DONALD TRUMP 

This is a very old post that this blogger had forgotten about. He was reminded of it today when a tweeter commented on the color of Bernie' tie and realized that Donald Trump is missing from this post. This blogger apologizes for the oversight and the deficiency is now made up by reporting his mystic colors similarly. They are light pastel shades of blue and green suitable for garments on the upper part of the body, tie on white shirt, or full shirts in the color. On a white shirt a tie of this color would create more harmony than contrast but Trump has been seen in a picture with a white bow tie on white shirt so he does use the concept.

CAANS color of the real Donald Trump
UPDATE May 29, 2016

After the last update a link was tweeted to Donald Trump. He has been seen with that color in tie since

https://twitter.com/HuffPostPol/status/736922807871934465

UPDATE JULY 27, 2016 - Dr. Jill Stein

As of today Dr. Jill Stein has become a viable candidate for POTUS too. Bernie Sanders has dropped out of the race and his supporters are going over to Jill of the Green party because she has a  very similar platform and agenda as Bernie. Time has come to ascertain her CAANS color too, a link would be tweeted to her. It tuned out to be a most unusual and single color for her a very light grayish shade almost white but it does match her hair color. The precise color is defined by its RGB values. It is recommended she wear dresses in that color for maximum charisma in public as other successful leaders have done. It was ascertained based on a birthdate found on the internet, May 14.
Dr. Jill Stein, CAANS dress color
UPDATE August 2016

Since this post noticed Jill in approximately this color top here in several pictures with a contrasting shawl or jacket. Looks excellent on her. Perhaps she might consider a similar change for her twitter profile image. Will tweet her this suggestion in any case.

https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2016/aug/02/jill-stein-sanders-supporters-green-party?utm_term=Autofeed&CMP=twt_b-gdnnews#link_time=1470132588

https://www.rt.com/usa/354223-green-party-jill-stein-vice-presidential-mate/

Sunday, December 14, 2014

True Success – The Good and the Bad




The path that leads to the gate in the author's home
At the root, humans are basically a species of good beings All begin their lives by loving their mothers or care giver with utmost tenderness. They nevertheless do much wrong through the course of their life times (this author is included, hence the knowledge). This is because of lack of wisdom or a limited wisdom and habits that develop out of that and manifest according to circumstances. By far the biggest lack of wisdom is to think that all actions, good or bad shall not be brought to account at some stage sooner or later. A good person on the other hand, knowing that there is a Universal Eye that notes all, does good not for the reward but because it feels good and right to do that.

The practice of love and compassion, truth and simplicity helps one to overcome shortcomings and drives one towards wisdom and good habits. The reverse helps to enhance one's foolishness and drives one closer to the intensely dark, virtually bottomless pit of misery. A life is worthy and successful to the extent that it has increased wisdom during the course of its lifetime. It has evolved to a better state for a better new life ahead. Any other measure of success such as name, fame, wealth, power etc. is an illusion that is snatched away from him sooner or later, as are things in a dream. There is no doubt to this statement because it has happened to every human that walked upon the face of this earth from the beginning of time.

This does not imply that one should not enjoy the good things like fame, money etc. provided they arrive through good means that do not create stress or call for making compromises to the principles of love, truth and simplicity, or as a gift unasked from the Universe, this last really being how all good things come even though human ego makes them believe otherwise, because better it is to enjoy a good dream rather than suffer a nightmare. However it does imply that errors would be made the moment its transient nature ignored or it is given so much importance that they make a human disregard other human lives and compromise the very purpose of life. It is the desire of worldly gains and anger born from frustrations on this path that blinds one human from the suffering caused to fellow humans. It can assume grossly wicked proportions and thus also be termed as the path of the devil.

Such errors are the cause of huge wealth inequalities on the planet, wars, homelessness, and much other suffering and misery of large sections of humanity on the planet even the sweetest of all humans - children, for God manifests himself most clearly in children; and hunger that can only be the result of human exploitation because the Lord has made enough food available for animals, insects and the lowliest of creatures too. He does not stop a hand for taking it to the mouth but in some cases or for some grace period, for a chance to atone, He also does not banish the hand that snatches it away. The Universal hand permits the sufferers to suffer perhaps because of their unfortunate karma, a karma like the perpetuators and their sympathizers and collaborators are now generating because of their deeds that have caused the suffering or inaction to undo it when it was within their rights, obligations and abundant means to do so. The latter create such karma for unfolding in future, on another night, another life, if not within this very dream taking a bad turn all of a sudden, when the soul sleeps and the senses awaken.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

For some in America, why doing the right thing is no longer the right thing





Merry Christmas, May we begin with a classical tale this Christmas Season,

The Story of the Robber and the King

A dreaded robber had been captured in town. He was brought to the town square for execution in the presence of the King and townsfolk next morning. This was the custom in those parts. Before execution the King asked the prisoner,

 “It has been ordained that you be executed for your crimes but we shall grant you your last wish if you have any so that our soul may rest in peace one day when it departs.”

The prisoner scanned the crowds and saw his very old mother and father cowering with shame in a corner. He requested that he be allowed to kiss them goodbye. The wish was granted and the father came forward first. The robber kissed him with tears in his eyes. Next the mother came forward but this time the robber instead of kissing her bit off her ear. She screamed with pain and ran away.

The King then asked the robber to explain why he had done that. This is what the robber said,

“Your Majesty when I was a child, we were very poor. One day there was nothing to eat at home so I went into a rich neighbor’s house and quietly stole some money and brought it to my parents. My father was upset and said that we should return the money immediately and apologize saying that it would be even better to beg for food. However my mother intervened and reprimanded my father. She told him that he was a fool to think so. If they revealed the truth there would be a backlash against them in the neighborhood. More over the act has been effective in producing what they need.”

The robber continued,

 “Encouraged by my mother, I became bolder with time until as a grown up man I became the dreaded robber that stands in front of you today. Had she listened to my father the very first time, I would not have become the robber as I am today, that is why I kissed my father and punished my mother.”

The mother in this story was a person who looked at the ends but the father the means, the right thing to do. Similar debates have taken place through the history of mankind not just in individual homes but in halls of governance. In recent centuries there were communist revolutions in some countries. Brutal means were used to suppress the voice and rights of some humans and when there was criticism; it was explained that it was all for a good cause. It was a process to create a beautiful heavenly society and the ends justify the means. However, the gains of such revolutions did not last long as has been the case through all of human history where the cries of leading human lights from ancient times have been ignored - Plato, Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi - that have urged that it is the means that are important and the ends are not in one’s hand, that it is the duty of humans to do the right thing, not worrying about consequences.

Yesterday the world honored two persons, Malala and Kailash Satyarthi, with Nobel prizes because they are examples of humans who put their lives on the line for doing the right thing and adding joy in the lives of those that matter most to humans - children. All through human history great nations have been built on the highest of human values and great nations have fallen to dust eventually when such values have been ignored, from Rome to USSR.

The greatest nation that stands on earth today does so because of such values because someone said once, to enslave a human is wrong, it is not the right thing to do, no matter if the cotton farmers of the south suffer, no matter if they have paid for these slaves it does not matter even if there is a war over it, and many of us die, but this must not go on. However times have changed. In recent times others have emerged that justify an action by its ends and not its means not by what is right or wrong. A President rises up to say,

“We must have a war in Iraq because it is in our self interest.”

A banker cries ,

" Why should I not gamble with your money, it is legal. If I win, I get a bonus, after all I am only robbing the bank with a legal bonus not a gun."

Other voices follow,

“We shall imprison you if you feed the homeless; no matter if you are 93, it dirties our cities,”

Voices of the Grand Jury cry out,

“The law be dammed, we have to protect some, no matter if some kids are shot or someone is choked to death.”

 Some more voices cry out,

“We must torture some humans, if it is effective for what we seek.”

Other voices add,

“We must listen to the mother of that ancient robber in the story and not reveal all because there shall be a backlash against us.

A voice shouts,

"OK, OK, we know about all that but what is the solution?"

"Just do as the father advised in the story. Consider the means to a goal not just the end. Do the right thing, and if a wrong has been done , do not hide it, but reveal it and apologize when necessary."

"But that might mean difficulties ?"

"Yes for sure that might happen over the short term as the father said. The path of goodness does often lead to pain over the short term but over the long term it is joy whereas the case is reverse otherwise - some joy at first followed by sorrow."





When an underdog in society displays poor values it is less sad than when the leading lights of a society do so because ordinary men tend to follow the example of leaders. When underdeveloped parts of the world display poor values it is less sad than when those from the most developed part of the world do so. Others learn by example; hence a note on America rather than the republic of Bing Bing Tongo.

The Story of Sudama and the King






In eastern culture there is the symbolism of two types of humans that inhabit the earth. There are the people who are symbolized with a palm facing upwards. These are the people who are always asking for something from the world. They may be rich or poor. If they are beggars, they beg on the streets with palms up. If they are not beggars they keep asking anyway from all and sundry they can ask from, like relatives, friends, employers etc. 

Then there are the people, albeit smaller in number, symbolized with with palms turned downwards. These are people who will rarely ask for money or anything else. They satisfy themselves with what comes from fair labor, fate or circumstance and without asking. However, if they get an opportunity they may give to others. They too may be rich or poor. In case they happen to be very poor they become hermits and will give their blessings to all and sundry, palms facing downwards, including those who give them alms unasked. Rich or poor, such persons are Monarchs in soul. It goes without saying that the palm down people are more peaceful and happier as compared to the palm up people who lead stressful lives until the moment they are buried safely in their graves with their palms facing upwards. In ancient Indian history, there is a story about it.


The Story of Sudama

The story is about two dear childhood friends, one of whom went on to become a rich and famous king and the other became an extremely poor cowherd living in the forest. His name was Sudama. Both friends were the palms down types since there is no truck or friendship between the palms up and palm down groups aside from a relationship of giving, taking and snatching.

However, it seems that the wife of Sudama was a palm up type. She goaded her husband that since they were often starving and he had such a rich friend who was always giving alms to the poor, why does he not visit him and get some too. However being the palm down type, he resisted for long. Eventually however he gave in to the nagging of his wife. Being the quintessential giver, before leaving his home for a journey to his friend’s kingdom, Sudama looked around his hut for a gift that he could take to his childhood friend. He could not visit a much loved friend empty handed after so many years. There was nothing there except a few broken utensils for simple cooking and a few torn clothes. But then he found a few roasted grains in a pot that his wife had stored for the evening meal.  He took a fistful, tied it in a corner of the shoulder cloth and left for the visit.

At the gates of the palace he was not allowed in because of his destitute condition but he insisted that he was a friend of the King and word be sent that the King’s friend Sudama had come for a visit. Since Sudama refused to leave, the harassed guards eventually sent a message to the king. The king was in the bath at the time but on hearing that Sudama had come for a visit, the godly King became so excited he jumped out of the bath and ran to the gates of the palace in bare feet.

Listen, listen, do you hear
Guards at the front and the rear
Much news is there today to cheer
At long last, friend Sudama is here 



In the meantime, being jeered by the guards, Sudama began moving away from the palace to the outskirts of the city. On not seeing Sudama at the gates, the king ran after him and found him in the fields,  the King hugged him and led him into the palace for a feast and welcoming. However being the quintessential palms down person, Sudama could not bring himself to ask anything from the King and the King too wishing not to embarrass his friend offered nothing. After a stay of three nights at the Kingdom, Sudama begged to take leave of his friend since his cows needed him and his wife would be waiting anxiously. While at the palace, Sudama had been bathed by maids and servants and dressed in fine royal clothes but on the morning of his departure he took these off and put on his original garments again. These were a piece of cloth tied around the waist and another thrown around the shoulders. He convinced the King that he would be safer from any possible wayside robbers that way.

The King walked up to the gates to bid Sudama goodbye while requesting him to visit again soon. At the gates however, he noticed that something was tied up in Sudama’s shoulder cloth. It was the original roasted grains that Sudama had brought as a gift for his friend but was too shy to offer. The King immediately realized what it was and snatched the cloth away gleefully untying the roasted grains. He munched on the grains with joy.

On the way back, Sudama was worried that his wife would be angry because neither had he asked for anything from the King nor had the King offered anything to take except a packed meal for the journey and a bag of water to drink on the way. Sudama walked back to the forest and his hut all by himself.

As Sudama reached the clearing that housed his hut, he was surprised by a wonderous sight. In place of his hut there now stood a grand home surrounded by lovely gardens and horse drawn chariots. As he watched awestruck, his wife now dressed in fine silks, came out to say that while he was away, the King as gift for an old friend had used his army to transport the home, chariots and much else besides. 

NOTE: A modern rendition of an ancient  mythological story from South Asia. Jai Krishna, Jai Sudama

Historical Note : In the classical public domain depiction included with this story, the King is depicted as a dark person and the population as fair. Based on a study of ancient history and geological records an explanation for why it is so is contained in another blog of the author here:
http://alienaccount.blogspot.in/2015/02/on-tamil-origin-of-ancient-human.html



Castle image courtesy of:
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