Helping Opportunity Knock

By Lisa McCue Janusz and Carole Hyder

We all want opportunity to “knock”, particularly when it comes to our professional lives. Whether we’re looking for a new job, seeking a promotion, or just want to breathe some enthusiasm into our day-to-day routine, new opportunities provide a welcome fresh perspective.

Some people seem to attract opportunities more easily than others. You might wonder how you can do the same. The answer lies in a basic principle of Feng Shui: your space reflects your life.

As Feng Shui consultants we’ve seen clients working at cluttered desks, sitting in moldy unfinished basements or even scraping around on old office chairs missing a roller or two. Many valuable hours are spent working in these less-than-desirable environments. Is that supportive? Motivating?

Here are some excellent Feng Shui tips to attract new opportunities into your own life:

• Be sure to invite opportunities by using your front door, even if you have an attached garage. This helps get energy moving. Try to use it at least a couple of times a week. For added effect, try entering and exiting your home through your front door nine days in a row.

• Make sure your house greets your visitors, as well as opportunities. Create a welcoming front path and a noticeable front door. Make sure your doorbell works and that your house numbers are easily seen.

• Your office should reflect your professional goals. Get a solid desk and a chair with a high back to support you.

• Make sure your office reflects your goals and desired career destination. A person on a corporate executive path will have a more traditional office, while an interior designer will likely include more creativity and flair in their space.

• Think of two or three well-known people in your industry. Search out or imagine what their offices might look like. (Pinterest is great for this kind of thing!) Then add a few elements from their environment into yours.

Whatever you do, never underestimate the power of your surroundings. We all know it just feels different to sit in a leather executive chair at a nice wood desk versus a folding chair and card table. It changes your attitude, your outlook and the kind of opportunities you attract!

About Lisa McCue Janusz & Carole Hyder:
Lisa McCue Janusz is faculty and registrar, and Carole Hyder is the founder of Wind & Water School of Feng Shui. Wind & Water School of Feng Shui offers beginning to advanced Feng Shui classes including a comprehensive, certified training program.

Moonlight Tarot’s Question Corner: Mystical Answers to Mundane Inquiries

By Angela Kaufman, Moonlight Tarot LLC

September harkens the transition from summer to fall and many reflect on the harvest of their labor at this time. This months’ Querent is troubled by the fear that her harvest will be meager this year as a career transition has resulted in earnings that fall short of past expectations. Her dilemma is expressed through her question; “what is my financial outlook and what can I do to make the most of what I have during this time?” An interesting question indeed as Tarot can provide insight into situations and patterns the Querent can be aware of or take advantage of, and yet it must be emphasized that these services are no substitution for financial advisement. Likewise Tarot pinpoints matters of spiritual nature so while there are ways to indicate gains, losses and general advice it should be noted there is no card that will distinguish “Money Market Accounts” from “Stock Market” or “Pay off the Credit Card”….perhaps this would make for an interesting oracle if any of the readership chooses to create a deck solely focused on financial matters….(not a bad idea come to think of it!) For the time being, this month’s Querent who we will call Judy will be guided in terms of what she needs to know to navigate her financial needs on a limited income.

The Ace of Hearts, aka The Leaper

Three cards are drawn as usual- and this reading also yields a Leaper- an additional card whose kamikaze flight from the deck during shuffling indicates the cards are ready to tell their tale. The Leaper for Judy is the Ace of Hearts. A hopeful sign, as this card indicates happiness and brings a feeling of blessing and hope to Judy’s situation. While it is not an indicator of work or money specifically it connotes that Judy’s situation has a happy ending.

The Six of Hearts is the first card of Judy’s reading. It connotes a pleasant and hopeful resolution to Judy’s problem based on the help or assistance of someone from Judy’s past- either a childhood friend or a past resource or outlet that has not been acknowledged or realized yet. Judy should remain receptive to the advice of a trusted friend, someone who will help Judy connect to solutions and resources that have otherwise not been considered. It also suggests financial growth and security with the guidance and assistance of a significant other whose income contributes to financial stability. In terms of protecting current assets it may be prudent at this time for Judy to review all accounts and assets, including some held from childhood or from earlier in life- a key seems to be finding a solution in the past, attaining security through tapping a resource from Judy’s heritage, family or past. The number six may be significant as well- increments of 600 or 6,000 dollars. Judy would do well to blend her plans with those of a significant other or trusted friend- being open to feedback but also maintaining her original plans- this solution seems to be a blend of her objectives with the suggestions from this person from her past. One thing seems indicated in this reading- it does not appear Judy will face a loss. It appears likely her finances will grow and remain protected through her initiative and the guidance of another- it does not seem likely she will face unforeseen catastrophe that would threaten her current savings.

The center card is the Knave of Bells, and this is in fact the only of these three (plus Leaper, making four) cards that directly connotes finances and work. It suggests new opportunities for growth and guidance from a young person who is business or money minded. This does not suggest staggering growth, rather it suggests early groundwork being laid for financial development at a slow and steady pace. Regardless it is not suggesting loss or retraction of savings, while earning potential may have slowed it seems stability and security are not going to be an issue. There does not seem to be need to panic. It is likely that Judy will be assisted by the advice of a person who is in training or early in their career- with sound business perspective and an ability to be flexible, open, creative, but also with a firm grasp of financial matters. It is also likely that a business proposal brought to Judy’s attention can assist her in establishing a new income source, a secondary stream of income in its early development.

The final card in this reading is the Three of Hearts, another card depicting emotional satisfaction. It seems that expansion of Judy’s current financial foundation will likely arise through collaboration with others especially through three channels- three investments, three opportunities to generate income. It also is highly likely that celebrations, friends, and family will assist in generating this income- work in entertainment, family or party events, income gained through family donations or celebratory gifts. These seem to be positive, growth based opportunities, not tragedies such as inheritances or lawsuits. Most importantly the common message through all these cards is that of expansion, success, and happiness, not of loss, hardship or financial turmoil. Through careful consideration and openness to the views of those around her, Judy will be given opportunities to make what she has last as well as to generate new sources of financial growth at a slow and steady rate. She will not likely have to contend with catastrophic losses or continued financial or even emotional downfalls at this time.

Best of luck to Judy in all of her endeavors and remember that regardless of where you are reading this article all readings are for entertainment purposes in accordance with NYS law.

Interested in being the Querent in next month’s column? Contact Angela at Trionfi78@gmail.com.

About Angela Kaufman:
Angela Kaufman has been exploring divination through Tarot cards for over a decade. She is a Certified Professional Tarot Reader and formed Moonlight Tarot in 2009 which would become Moonlight Tarot LLC in 2010. Angela uses the Tarot to assist clients in exploring personal growth and development, and in accordance with New York State Law offers readings for entertainment purposes. Angela began providing readings on a professional, “Moonlighting” basis in order to provide affordable readings to those seeking guidance, inspiration and fun. Angela is also co-author of the new book “Wicca, What’s the Real Deal? Breaking Through the Misconceptions.” And the newly released “Sacred Objects, Sacred Space, Everyday Tools for the Modern Day Witch” (Schiffer Publishing, 2011). In 2006 she joined ISIS Paranormal Investigations and has accompanied the team on numerous investigations in private residences and businesses throughout the capital region, Adirondacks, Vermont and Massachusetts.

For more information on services offered by Moonlight Tarot LLC, visit http://www.moonlighttarotllc.com

Check out Moonlight Tarot on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/MoonlightTarotLlc

For more related to Tarot and Wicca, check out: Wicca, What’s the Real Deal? At www.wwtrd.webs.com

Want a chance to get a live Tarot Reading? Check out www.cafenolany.com for listing of Tarot events at Café Nola in Schenectady NY!

This month’s reading was conducted using the Fairy Tarots created by Antonio Lupatelli and by Lo Scarabeo and published in 2000 by Llewellyn. For more information visit http://www.amazon.com/Fairy-Tarot-Antonio-Lupatelli/dp/0738700061.

Banned Books Week 2013

It’s that magical time of the year when us freedom loving people get together and celebrate the fact that we get to read what we want, when we want, the end. That’s right, it’s Banned Books Week!

Banned Books Week is the national book community’s annual celebration of the freedom to read. Hundreds of libraries and bookstores around the country draw attention to the problem of censorship by mounting displays of challenged books and hosting a variety of events. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries. More than 11,300 books have been challenged since 1982.

My favorite part of Banned Books Week is reviewing the updated banned and challenged book list. The list includes books that have banned or challenged from May 2012 to May 2013. The list includes 44 titles, and like every year you see some familiar faces and some stand out titles.

“The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian” by Sherman Alexie – this book ends up on the list every year. I mean at this point people complaining about it is a snooze-fest to me. “The Handmaid’s Tale” by Margaret Atwood – I haven’t read this but I’m guessing a lot of you guys have. This was challenged as required reading for a Page High School International Baccalaureate class and as optional reading for Advanced Placement reading courses at Grimsley High School because the book is “sexually explicit, violently graphic and morally corrupt”. We’re talking about high school students, some of them can see R rated movies by themselves, I suspect they can handle Margaret Atwood, am I right? “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card – they don’t actually say what the problem is, but it has to be with the book, and not that the author is bat shit crazy. “Like Water for Chocolate: A Novel in Monthly Installments, with Recipes, Romances, and Home Remedies” by Laura Esquivel – this was removed from a reading list at Nampa, Idaho high school because it was considered too racy for sophomores. I can’t remember when it was that I read this book, but first, it was a pretty good book and kind of racy, and second, it was when I was in high school. I think we can say that I turned out all right. Not a word out of any of you! “Different Seasons” by Stephen King – this book was challenge but retained at Roklin California High School. What’s kind of funny about this is that some charities have you buy books for children and I always buy “Different Seasons” for high school aged children. According to some Roklin California parents I suck. FYI, if I can’t buy “Different Seasons” I pick up a copy of “Neuromancer” by William Gibson. Rebecca Elson, corrupting young minds via charity. “And Tango Makes Three” by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell – marked for removal in the Davis, Utah School District because parents might find it objectionable. Every year someone has to pick on poor old Tango. Why does everyone have to hate on same sex penguin couples just trying to raise their baby penguin the best they can in this crazy world. Did you know there are some sickos out there who buy “Different Seasons” for high school kids? See what they’re up against?

If you’d like to view the whole list, which I encourage you to check out because we didn’t even get into the schools banning whole subjects or the graphic novels that popped up, click here.

If you want to learn more visit the Banned Books Week website, or the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week site, or the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Talk Like a Pirate Day 2013

Well here it is again, another International Talk Like a Pirate Day. A day of significance for those of the Pastafarian faith, but also a day of fun and hijinks for both young and old alike to break out their best pirate swaggers.

The day is also celebrated with rum….

Most of you may be aware that I’m rather fond of rum.

So in honor of this special day, and my love of rum, I’m going to share with you a rum cocktail I made up all by myself. The Civilized Pirate.

Create Your Own Religion

As many of you know, I’m a fan of learning about different religions. I like the idea of picking and choosing the things you like from them and ignoring the rest. I also toy with the idea of starting my own religion and then using it in my quest for global domination. This is why I was thrilled to get a review copy of “Create Your Own Religion: A How-To Book Without Instructions” by Daniele Bolelli. Sounds perfect, right?

In fact, it is. Bolelli’s book is this girl’s dream. “Create Your Own Religion” is wonderfully researched book that covers all aspects of all religions. Essentially encouraging you to choose what you like from them, and leaving the rest! Would it be wrong to call it so much fun? If it is, too bad, it is so much fun! Although a scholarly work, the writing is in a conversational style and although I can’t imagine it being a problem for any of my readers, the author does swear from time to time. I didn’t think any of you were reading this imagining it was the perfect gift for the first grader in your life, but still, I figured I’d give it a mention.

Although Bolelli lets his personal religious preferences show through, he encourages the reader to approach their spiritual journey with an inquisitive heart but a cautious mind. His combination of intellect and enthusiasm makes “Create Your Own Religion” a must read.

The Tormenting TeeFury

I am a possessed, obsessed. I’m being tortured, haunted. When I close my eyes, it’s there. My friends, I’ve discovered TeeFury.

Each day they offer a t-shirt for 24 hours. Not just any t-shirt. No! T-shirts with amazing, creative artwork that more often than not takes on some geek favorites. There are SO many “Firefly” themed t-shirts that have rolled through there, and “Doctor Who”, tons of “Who”. Of course “Star Wars” has been there and even some “Monty Python”.

I want this shirt!
No, this one!

There’s the 24 hour shirt, then there is a small gallery of t-shirts available that have been brought back by votes. However, in order for that to be available, you have to see all the shirts you missed. Oh the stabbing pain as t-shirt after gorgeous t-shirt scrolls past. What could have been. And then there is the matter of not being able to afford to buy a shirt every day, let alone play catch up in the gallery!

How cruel the fates have been! Can’t the universe show me any mercy? Alas no. Once you have seen TeeFury you are trapped in its vicious, addictive, 100% cotton web.

Here’s how TeeFury makes their daily tees.

To learn more, to love, to shop; visit TeeFury!

What about this one?

Geek Month in Review: August 2013

By JB Sanders

Isn’t it supposed to be mega-hot?

Ancient Underground Structures
Come for the bunkers built 2,800 years ago, stay for the sexist architecture.

What You Got There is a Category 5 Language. Yup.
The Foreign Service Institute (whatever the heck that is) has developed a list of languages, and rated them in how difficult they are for an English speaker to learn.

Toilet Tech Vulnerability
Because, really, you want the technology in your toilet to have a “vulnerability”. Maybe we should just skip having “technology” as part of your toilet in the first place. I just can’t stop snorting at this story.

Famous Guns
From all sorts of things: James Bond’s silenced pistol, Dr. Morbius’ ray gun (Forbidden Planet), a Star Trek old series phaser, and the list goes on.

Mars Rover, Huh? What’s the Blue Book On That?
Seriously, here’s an article discussing how to calculate the current “blue book” value of the Mars Rover. It has had a little wear-and-tear.

Bus Charges While It Drives
Build a special roadway, put the right equipment in your bus, and it never has to stop to charge. Pretty neat.

500 New Fairy Tales
Unearthed in an archive in Germany, 500 tales unheard for over 150 years. This feels like a Fables major story line.

Lighting a Million Homes
Guy invents an extremely easy and cheap way to spread light inside homes during the day. And millions of people use the idea.

New York City’s Secret Subway Station
Ok, more like abandoned but still amazingly cool looking. As a bonus, graffiti artists have discovered it and put up some impressive murals.

Timeline of Slang for Your Naughty Bits
Ever wonder how various adult slang developed over time and what people were using to swear in 1910? Wonder no more! Tip: be sure to click the – sign a few times to get a better overview, and slide to the right. (Link is to the Lady Bits version, but there’s also a Men’s Bits page, too.)

How Big is Wikipedia?
If you printed all the articles in Wikipedia (English), how many encyclopedia volumes would that make? About 2000. There’s a live-updating page to calculate it.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog: http://glenandtyler.blogspot.com

The Meaning of Life

By Brad Warner

In Zen we often say there is no meaning of life. When people first hear that, they think it sounds depressing. It sounds as if we’re saying that life is meaningless. But we’re not. We’re saying that any meaning you assign to life is, by necessity, incomplete. It cannot be otherwise. Trying to assign a meaning to life is like trying to stuff the whole ocean into a bucket.

But you can also say there is a meaning of life. It’s another one of those contradictions.

There isn’t a meaning of life in terms you could express as “Life means X, Y, and Z.” Yet meaning and life are intimately intertwined. Nishijima Roshi often said that there are two aspects of life, matter and meaning. These two aspects, he said, are manifestations of the same thing. It’s a different way of saying, “Form is emptiness and emptiness is form.”

Matter is matter. It’s books and tables and birds and 1962 Fender Jazz Bass guitars and so on. Meaning is that other, more nebulous side of life that can’t really be quantified. We experience meaning, so we know it’s real, even if we can’t weigh or measure it.

But what about when bad things happen to good people? If there really were a meaning of life and if there really was a God, surely my mother would have been spared the suffering she endured. If there really were a God there would be no war, disease, poverty, lousy boy bands, or crappy movies with all-star casts. How can there be any meaning to life if shit like that exists?

I get that. But the God I believe in doesn’t perform miracles. (More on that in a later chapter.) And the God I believe in isn’t just good, if good is just that which stands in contrast to evil. Joshu Sasaki Roshi, the Japanese Rinzai Zen teacher whom I quoted in the title of this book, said, “You are educated all your life to venerate God and reject evil. Zen education is totally different: it teaches you how to swallow God and the devil at once.”

When we talk about bad things happening to good people, using the word God can be problematic, as it can be in general. We tend to think of God as an independent agent who can work magic and fix bad situations. We have a long history of thanking God for things we like and cursing the devil for things we hate.

Many modern, rational people generally don’t believe in that kind of God. I certainly don’t. But we don’t need to leap to the conclusion that just because there isn’t a giant Santa Claus figure sitting on a throne up in heaven, therefore there is no meaning to life and there is no God.

The life we are leading right now is a manifestation of God. That we are alive is all the evidence we need to prove that God exists. I don’t mean that we need to postulate the existence of God to explain the fact that we’re here. I’m not talking about God as the first cause of everything. I’m saying that our direct experience of life is God. Life is God experiencing God, just as Dogen said when he said we are the eyes and ears “it” uses to experience itself.

As for annihilation, it is one of the crucial aspects of life that makes it what it is. It’s a cliché to say that we love our lives more because we know we’re going to lose them. But it’s not just that we will lose our lives at some undefined time in the future. We lose our lives every second of every day. The nature of the present moment is change, is annihilation.

It’s trendy these days to talk about “the now” and to celebrate the present moment. And that’s fine. It’s a good trend. But people often forget that the nature of the present moment is the total annihilation of what has gone before. The present moment is highly destructive as well as creative. This is why many of us fear it so much. The present moment is killing us!

But even this is a beautiful thing. The destructive power of the now, of God, is its way of creating us anew at every moment so that we can be here to enjoy its amazingness.

About Brad Warner:
Brad Warner is a Zen priest, filmmaker, blogger, and Japanese monster-movie marketer. He’s the author of Hardcore Zen; Sit Down & Shut Up; Sex, Sin & Zen; and most recently, There Is No God and He Is Always with You. Visit him online at http://hardcorezen.info/.

Excerpted from the new book There is No God and He is Always with You ©2013 by Brad Warner. Published with permission of New World Library http://www.newworldlibrary.com

The Geek Handbook and The Unofficial Hobbit Handbook

By JB Sanders

Reviewing these two books together is kind of fun. Although their covers would lead you to believe two very different things about them, they’re actually quite similar.

The Unofficial Hobbit Handbook purports to be a humor/trivia book, though it veers quietly towards a kind of hobbit-ish self-help book. The Geek Handbook, on the other hand, is very upfront about being a self-help book, but is also chock-full of great quotes and trivia about a wide variety of geek culture tidbits.

Together the books are a lot of fun.

My take away? Embrace being a geek, and setup your home like a Hobbit.*

The Unofficial Hobbit Handbook
Let’s start with what I feel is the weaker of the two: the Hobbit Handbook. It’s pretty fun, don’t get me wrong, but as either a humor/trivia book or a subtle self-help book, it feels a bit flat. The book includes an exhaustive discussion of the ways of Hobbits, and includes some amusing trivia. For example, just about every riddle from the books (including the Hobbit, of course) is reproduced, and a bunch more besides.

There’s a lot, I mean a LOT, of detail on food. As you’d expect. There are even some recipes, both humorous (Lembas pie crust! Savory garlic dragon!) and straight up (e.g. Waybread Blueberry Tart). There’s extensive advice on what to keep in the larder, and what to serve at every meal. Yes, all the meals are listed, along with when you should have them.

Where the self-help bits come in (besides keeping a well-stocked larder, which really everyone should know) is when it gets to discussing things like how to treat guests and how to talk to trolls. It’s terribly important to know how to talk to trolls, let me assure you.

On the trivia front, there’s quite a bit, but a diehard Tolkien fan probably won’t find much to sate them. Though knowing that Rivendell’s checkout time is 11am is terribly useful on those longer trips.

Look, if you’re going to cosplay a hobbit at a con — you have to buy this book. No question. There’s just every possible relevant detail in there, though the discussion on clothing (pg 130) is pretty darn light. But for everything else — pipe-smoking, travel tips, riddling — it’s a must.

The Geek Handbook
Although this is a self-help book, it’s really, really funny. It was worth reading just for the humor, good advice or not.

The Geek Handbook is a soup-to-nuts guide to being a geek, dealing with a geek or raising a geek. Really, all three! And it gives all this great advice using the “spoonful of sugar” method — and in this analogy humor is the sweet, sweet sugar. I had several laugh out loud moments, and I’m sure anyone familiar with geekiness will, too.

“Much like ice cream and Christopher Walken, geeks come in many different flavors.”

Sure, the discussion of stereotypical geeks is — you know, a stereotypical. But even when doing the cliche “type” discussion, Alex Langley (the author) does it with humor and a certain sensitivity. He both mocks the stereotype and discusses the valid bits at the same time. He uses this same technique on all sorts of topics throughout the book, too. On college majors, D&D gamer types, internet personas and the perennial Trek vs Wars camps.

I especially like the chapter on social interaction, and his advice for socially awkward people. Particularly the part on social cues, which was very well done.

There’s even a section on what to and what NOT to wear, with this priceless footnote on sweatpants:

“The only exception to this are guys who are so well endowed that sweatpants are pretty much the only pants that fit them comfortably, or people who are getting laid so much that pants are almost an afterthought. However, unless you’re Jason Stackhouse, you may not need to worry about such things, and if you are Jason Stackhouse, I feel it’s my duty to let you know that your sister has porked a lot of vampires.”

Then there are things like the hairstyles discussion. I swear, this part is practically worth the price of the book by itself.

The styles are in the section on grooming, named for the fictional character they resemble most. Some examples:

The Tony Stark: heavy on bangs and don’t forget the goatee.

The Rogue: longish hair, with that front-facing dual strips of grey.

The Professor X: bald, of course.

There are more, and each is rated on Complexity, Coolness if Done Right and Likelihood You’ll Look Like a Jackass.

For all the humor and advice, there’s also some great stuff to explore on your own, like his picks for best webcomics (broken into several categories), and the ten movies every geek should see.

I heartily recommend it, although obviously you should buy the e-book version, for maximum geekiness. (You might want to slip your favorite clueless relative a paper copy for Holiday X.)

* Though you may also want to invest in a gym membership, if you’re going to seriously eat like a Hobbit.

About John:
John’s a geek from way back. He’s been floating between various computer-related jobs for years, until he settled into doing tech support in higher ed. Now he rules the Macs on campus with an iron hand (really, it’s on his desk).

Geek Credentials:
RPG: Blue box D&D, lead minis, been to GenCon in Milwaukee.
Computer: TRS-80 Color Computer, Amiga 1000, UNIX system w/reel-to-reel backup tape
Card games: bought Magic cards at GenCon in 1993
Science: Met Phil Plait, got time on a mainframe for astronomy project in 1983
His Blog: http://glenandtyler.blogspot.com