Friday, February 05, 2016

Chinese New Year: The Year of the Monkey

Whilst the Chinese New Year's Day always falls on the first day of the Chinese lunar calendar, the date varies each year on the Gregorian calendar, between January 21th and February 20th. Only the first three days of Chinese New Year (February 8–10, 2016) are statutory holiday, but many people take 7 consecutive days off. This year is the Year of the Monkey and for people born in a year of the monkey (1920, 1932, 1944, 1956, 1968, 1980, 1992, 2004), 2016 it is considered a bad year. "Monkeys" are witty, intelligent and have a magnetic personality but must ensure they protect themselves from bad luck Red in Chinese culture is associated with luck, so is important Monkeys wear red. Favoured items of clothing include a red belt, red socks, red shoes, or red clothes, but red underwear is highly recommended during the zodiac year. To ensure good luck however it is important the red underwear should be bought by a spouse, family member, or friend. Jade too is a lucky talisman and pendants, earrings, rings, and bracelets are ward to ward off bad luck. According to traditional belief,Tai Sui the God of Age, is offended by people in their zodiac year and they can incur his curse so it is important people in the year of their birth sign should always seek the help of lucky talisman in the zodiac year.

As an agricultural culture, the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival holiday traditionally was set to start at the beginning of the growing season, which nowadays corresponds to the beginning of a new business year. The hope is always the new zodiac year will bring prosperity and success so it is important to get a good start to the year. During the Chinese New Year thousands flock to the temple, to pray for good fortune in the coming year. In preparation, family’s homes and surrounds are cleaned prior to the festival in order to rid the home of any bad fortune from the previous year. Old decorations are removed and replaced with new ones for the Spring Festival. Having a clean home also makes way for good luck in the New Year. Domestic cleaning is never undertaken during the festival in case it sweeps away good fortune.

Chinese New Year is a time for family and get together. The New Year’s Eve dinner is a major event with certain foods are prominent because of their symbolic meanings, based on their names or appearances. Fish is a must, as the Chinese word for fish sounds like the word for surplus. Eating fish is thought to bring a surplus of money and good luck in the coming year. Other favourites include dumplings, spring rolls, glutinous rice cakes, and sweet rice balls.

Pyrotechnics are a tradition at Chinese New Year. The significance of the fire crackers is to "sound out" the old year and "sound in" the new year. Displays start with one string of small firecrackers, followed by three big firecrackers. The louder and more colourful (red) the three firecrackers are the better and luckier it’ is for the coming year. Evil spirits have an aversion to anything red and loud noises.

During the Spring Festival, gifts are exchanged with the most common Hong Baos or red envelopes, containing an even number of new bank notes. Traditionally these are given to children, young unmarried adults and (retired) seniors but sometimes employers will reward their workers with red envelopes. In the cyber age young people exchange cyber money via red envelope apps for fun. The practice of giving Mandarin oranges (always in pairs) is also a symbol of good luck. Giving gifts of clocks, watches or other time pieces should be avoided. To the superstitious these symbolise time running out, as well as relationships coming to an end.

Families follow a set of beliefs and superstitions to start the year on the right note and there are many superstitions observed during the Spring Festival season. These taboos usually apply up to a month before the festival and continue to the end of the festival (day 15, the Lantern Festival).

Washing Hair in the first three days is considered bad luck for fear of washing away good luck.

Crying children is bad karma and so the young are placated fastidiously. Children are also spared from all punishments even if they are misbehaving.

It is normal is clear all debts before the beginning on the new year and asking for a loan, lending or begging during the festival is not a done practice, as it is believed it will only bring misfortune.

Talking about anything related to death is strictly forbidden as is wearing black clothing.

Using knives or scissors should be avoided as they may cut off fortune.

In the Year of the Monkey, Tai Sui sits in the southwest of the zodiac calendar. Some Monkeys believe to get Tai Sui behind them will bring them good luck. They adjust their beds, seats, desks, and even where they live and work to face away from Tai Sui. When doing something important, such as a business negotiation, they prefer to face northeast, during negotiations. It is not a consensus however, and some believe facing in the opposite direction to Tai Sui will bring them good fortune.

> Zao Jun is the Kitchen God (or Stove God) and he is a popular domestic deity. Many household keet paper effigy in his honour and he has a very important role to play. At the Spring Festival. The common belief is he returned to Heaven ach year at this time to report on the activities of every household over the past year to the Jade Emperor The Jade Emperor (Yu Huang). who will in turn either reward or punish a family based on Zao Jun's yearly report. To prevent Zao Jun from giving too much information about the family sticky sweet cakes (Chinese New Year's cake) are left as offering in the hope his mouth will be too sticky to tell all on the family. The lips of Zao Jun's paper effigy are often smeared with honey to sweeten his words to Yu Huang (Jade Emperor), or to keep his lips stuck together. After this, the effigy will be burnt and replaced by a new one on New Year's Day. If the household has a statue or a nameplate of Zao Jun it will be taken down and cleaned on this day for the new year.


Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Sir Terry Wogan RIP

Electric Styles LED shoes

The Electric Styles LED shoes will be the latest in clubbing shoes and contain an integrated battery pack which should be able to function for up to half a dozen hours on a full charge. The hi-tec kics have seven colours of illumination which can be set to strobe or change its colours like a moving rainbow. The Electric Styles LED high-top shoes are available in black or white colour options.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Mahatma Gandhi’s total worldly possessions.

Running Shoes: Buyer beware !!

Seems consumers need to be more aware when buying running shoes. Scientific studies have shown sport shoes are prescribed and sold with over-simplistic claims not based on independent evidence. Injury prevention or comfort are not always the outcome from expensive purchases. Three dimensional analysis of movement (biomechanics) is complex and difficult to comprehend without considerable study, gait studies and computer analysis do help considerably but the data needs to be carefully interpreted. Laden with nomenclature, sports science is easily manipulated for market over-hype in a lexicon filled with jargonese and ill prepared shop assistants, not always able to decipher. Consumer beware!

Findings from independent studies support running shoes are less likely to prevent injury, and in some cases, can contribute to it. Hence, footwear companies are now shying away from overhype. Fallacious marketing claims of comfort and injury prevention are quickly discovered as recent high profile court case findings have shown. Manufacturers, keen to maintain their reputations and sales, are now more guarded but still prone to pander to the ill-informed. Serious runners are usually well read and often brand loyal, rarely changing style on a whim. So it appears the less well informed are the most prone to be influenced by glib tongued marketing jobbledegook.

Running shoes are marketed in four different types:

Motion control shoes are rigid for support and leverage. These shoes tend to be heavier than the more fashionable, lightweight runners.

Stability shoes are recommended for unstable (hypermobile) feet that roll inward when weight bearing. These usually include all the whizz bang biomechanical controls.

Cushioned shoes give protection and general comfort to the stable foot.

Minimalist/Barefoot shoes are novel foot shaped shoes with minimal protection and favoured by the faddists

Most stores dedicated to just running shoes have trained staff to help customers with fitting and style choices etc. The best outlets engage assistants with a working knowledge of sport science who can match stock to customer goals and training intensity etc. High street sports outlets on the other hand purvey popular brands promoting the latest releases at the front of the store. New models date quickly with on average a shelf life of three months. These stores do carry a limited range of popular evergreens which are often on display at the back of the store or on request. Shop assistants are usually enthusiastic but not always expert and rely heavily on fitting paraphernalia such as computer aids. Commercial software is written to move manufacturers’ stock and is not always a true independent indicator of the collected data.

All experts agree fit and comfort are key to proper shoe fitting. Price and make alone are not the best criteria, to buy shoes. Professional endorsements, marketing rhetoric and personal recommendations need to be taken with a pinch of salt when shopping for running.

Athletic Shoes American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeon's athletic fitting guide
Ryan MB, Valiant GA, McDonald K, Taunton JE. (2011) The effect of three different levels of footwear stability on pain outcomes in women runners: a randomised control trial. Br J Sports Med. 2011 Jul;45(9):715-21. doi: 10.1136/bjsm.2009.069849. Epub 2010 Jun 27.

"Y-3" Spring/Summer 2016 : New kicks on the walk