“To die with elation is a crappy way of dying… A warrior dies the hard way. His death must struggle to take him. A warrior does not give himself to it.”
Carlos Castaneda

Tales of Power

Two Surreal and Surprising and Hillarious Movies

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The first movie we saw months ago, had a great time watching but I never got to writing about it. Then yesterday we saw another movie – hillariously well done. They seemed to belong to a new genre – a class of their own. Great fun and surprising movies both – “Kick Ass” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” – enjoy 🙂

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Romania – Cheese Makers

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Sometime before noon today we had a power-out, so we go dressed and went out for another walk through town. Our primary objective was coffee and tea cups. Coffee cups is a very personal thing – I can’t tell you quite what it is that makes a coffee cup good for me – it has a little to do with size (many cups are just to small – no room for the milk froth) – but I know one when I see one – and ascetics have a lot to do with it. Tea cups are a different story – there is where size (and an accordingly good handle) really counts – big is good. Today, finally, we found both.

We also stopped and visited two natural foods shops. One was unimpressive – though we did find a nice Indian tea-blend (which will work wonders in the new cups tonight) – we were as happy leaving it as we were entering it. The second one was a hugely pleasant surprise. The King of RLomania told us about this shop and that they carried fair-trade coffee. Not only do they carry it, they also serve it in a lovely coffee shop on the second floor – complete with bio-milk if you order a capuccino and all-organic sweet-cakes to go along with it.

The place had two employees – one working the shop and the other the coffee shop – both with a pleasant and welcoming air about them – the place had a great vibe. After sampling the coffee (which was a bit strong and sour to our taste) we went back down and took off the shelves another brand of coffee to try at home and some sesame seeds. Andreea begins to interact with the store-clerk and I soon realize that the conversation has stretched out a bit longer then I expected it to (definitely beyond just paying for the products) – apparently Andreea found a welcoming ear and was sharing her work.

She learned that the store is relatively new and that the coffee shop has just opened. That it is owned by a young couple who have a vision. There was great resonance and mutual interest – they exchanged contact information and the store-clerk promised to share what she had just learned with the store owners. It felt great. A quality connection was made. We now have a charming place, 15 minutes from our home, that serves great organic coffee and may be a great place to hold workshops and courses! How about that?

As Andreea was having her conversation I continued browsing the store and I revisited the cheese section – where there was a variety of cheeses – organic and made by locals. As I was looking at them I realized that they all had labels on them with contact information on them. Suddenly I saw not just cheese but also people who know how to make it – people who may be willing to share their knowledge and experience so that we too will be able to make our own cheese!

We feel so good where we are and in the direction we are heading – it promises to be filled with new unprecedented richness.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-11-21

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  • someone is playing flute somewhere nearby … how wonderful 🙂 #
  • Are "gree" technology products expensive because of increased R&D/Manufacturing costs or because of a fashion statement they make? #
  • some movement can only come from stillness #
  • My journey to Romania began with a warm embrace from a red jasper crystal: http://bit.ly/95czG0 #
  • getting acquainted with and finding an apartment in Cluj-Napoca (Romania): http://bit.ly/cQrTIM #
  • A vinyasa for building relationships: RT @fredwilson F***cking Brilliant: Invest in Lines, not Dots bothsid.es/897 via @msuster #
  • being able to cook my own food has transformed these walls into a home #
  • @tvol @mollyali @msurman re: Attribution Generator – my friends @ BinPress have recently developed an opensrc license generator cc: @adambn #
  • @lifeinromania are there holiday sales in Romania (we want to get a new TV) – if so do u have any tips on how to find them? #
  • @lifeinromania thank u – haven't been to polus yet (better then Iulius?) – when do the sales kick in? are they advertised? #
  • The (industrialized) milk in Romania is so much better then the milk we had in Israel #
  • Cluj-Napoca is not yet into recycling at all … disappointing #
  • and it seems that in Romania when your door-bell rings you should be careful – often its gypsies asking for money – can mean trouble! #
  • and you will be hard pressed to find a non-smoking place to sit for a coffee or food in Romania – smoking all over the place .. yuck! #
  • We r again enjoying a Romanian tea mix (which we couldn't find in Israel) of Elder-flower and Linden + honey from Linden flowers. delicious! #
  • @lifeinromania we'd be happy to have you over for a cup of coffee (we make good coffee) or tea and meet u face2face 🙂 #
  • "the American taxpayer in1962 is paying out morethan 1billion dollars a year as the total carrying cost of the surplus-food storage program" #
  • if you want to practice and are not sure what to do – lie down in savasana #yoga #
  • having a vata-dominant constution in a period of change means I need 2eat something every couple of hours … must plan movement accordingly #
  • Let your WordPress published thoughts travel further with enhanced commenting using IntenseDebate: http://bit.ly/cQduRe #
  • strange movie RT @lifeinromania Children of Men: The other day I was reminded of yet another Romanian in TV/film http://bit.ly/bOTMAL #

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Romania – Our Temporary Home

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So we rented a nice apartment in a quiet neighborhood to the south of the city center (10-15 minute walk). At first I thought we were living in the only apartment building in the neighborhood – but I have since spotted a few more (quite near to us) – so we are not alone 🙂  When you walk in our door you arrive in a small hall and pantry closet AND super cool trolly for carrying food from the market:

Tip to first time trolly owners: the 3-small-wheel mechanism really does climb up stairs – but the small hard-plastic wheels can be very noisy – I would stick with the simple two rubber wheel version (so much so that there is a devlish part in me that can’t wait for this new one to break already – so we can get a quiet one : )

To your left is the kitchen:

If you continue straight you arrive in the living room:

From there you can see the not too complicated maze of doors that connect all the other rooms. Back from the hall is the room we chose to make into a bedroom:

In case you are wondering, like I was, why all the doors – keeping doors closed improves the efficiency of the central heating. Every room has a water based radiator – all hooked up to a central gas heater (that you can see in the kitchen – it looks like a small cupboard with a bunch of pipes running in/out of it) which is configured to heat water to a fixed temperature. There is a wireless thermostat that we can place wherever we want – we set it to the temperature we want in that room and it tells the heater to switch on whenever the temperature falls below the desired temperature. If the room is closed it will warm up faster and less energy will be expended by the heater.

Down from the kitchen is the bathroom:

And at the end is our designated Yoga & office room:

… and the view out the window when sitting in the chair is this (well it was this today):

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Romania – The City of Cluj-Napoca

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Romania is divided into regions within which there are counties each of which has one main city associated with it (and usually a few smaller cities). Cities are usually surrounded by villages – sometimes so densely you may not even know that you’ve left the city. Roads generally cross straight through the villages – we could see this on the flight from Bucharest to Cluj – villages are a small area in which houses are grouped on smaller roads through which runs a main road.

We are in the region of Transylvania, county of Cluj, in the city of Cluj-Napoca. We will be in the city for a few months until we find/make a permanent home in a village outside the city (at least that is our intention at the time these words were written). The “online identity” of Cluj describes it as the 2nd largest city (after Bucharest) in Romania and in a state of extreme development. I’m happy to say that the Internet makes it out to be more then it actually it is. From ground level, though parts of it are definitely seeing a boom in development, it is still a modest city that hasn’t yet been taken over by western grandiose and commercialism (except for a McDonalds stuck like a wart in the city center). Still, and to give my words and images proper context, I don’t like cities. They are too busy and hectic and aggresive for me and though we’ve found a lovely apartment in a quiet neighborhood I’ll be happy when we leave the city.

I’ll start this part of the tour from a tree that overlooks a small lake in the city. We reached it after a long walk through the city and breathed a sigh of relief to be close to an artifact of nature.

It isn’t without irony that two minutes after I took this serene image an airplane appeared above the houses from the airport just outside the city. Which also leads us to what’s hiding behind the tree on the right side of the image. This is to assure those who consider Romania to be in any ways backward that they are wrong and to remind me that I need to leave the city soon. I give you Iulius Mall one of two large shopping malls in Cluj-Napoca which puts to shame any shopping malls I encountered in Israel:

By the way – Audi’s, BMW’s and Mercedes cars are all over the city – and they aren’t taxi cabs (those are mostly the cheaper Romanian made Dacia cars)- they are private cars. The shopping mall is filled with western brands including a Starbucks, Pizza Hut which greet all visitors.

And for those in my family who can relate, this small shop sits rights outside the mall and at least one other place that we know of (there may be more) in Cluj-Napoca. For those who may not be able to read it’s sign clearly, it says “Kurtos”:

Getting around in the city is possible either by foot, bus/tram or taxi. Bus tickets cost a minimum 3.5 lei for 2 journeys (in the same day) – either using a connection to get where you want to go – or for a back and forth journey. The bus-lines take some figuring out – which we are just starting to do. We usually go out together – which brings the bus fare to 7 lei – which comes close to the cost of a taxi drive within the city  – so far we have gotten around with taxis. Taxi’s are nicely arranged all over the city in designated parking areas – almost always available – just walk into the first taxi in the queue and the rest move forward:

There are all kinds of neighborhoods in Cluj. In those that we visited we found both old and renovated structures. There are run-down buildings and houses that look like they shelter well-to-do and even rich people.

Our hostel was in the Marasti neighborhood which is north of the center and close to the industrial area of the city. We walked through the Gheorgeni neighborhood and though it has mostly large block buildings it is on the periphery of the city and felt relatively peaceful. Manastur is a relatively remote neighborhood in the south-west side of the city – Andreea was warned to stay away from there, but we went to see for ourselves. It is a very crowded neighborhood filled with huge block-buildings (our taxi driver told us it was built in the 70’s as housing for workers who got to the industrial area by tram. Our walk from Manastur to the neighboring Zorilor brought us to a vantage point where we could take in the diversity of the city – crowded blocks on the right and rural houses on the left:

That walk also happened to take us on a path alongside a large cemetery which didn’t make the walk too pleasant but was visually impressive.In the first image you can see what the cemetery looked like from Manastur:

We rented a 3 room apartment in a neighborhood called Andrei Muresanu – it is just south of the center of the city. It is considered a good neighborhood with mostly private villas in it. Ours seems to be the only apartment building in the neighborhood – so it’s a very quiet neighborhood. A 10 minute walks brings us to the southern side of the city center:

A 15 minute walk east into Gheorgeni brings us to the closest food market, which we happened to visit during our apartment searching. It’s a small and cozy market but the variety isn’t that great (compared to the impressive market we visited in Andreea’s homw town of Piatra Neamt) and the prices a bit high.

We visited about 10 apartments – we moved into the first one we sat. We knew it was the one but we wanted to see more of the city before settling into it. We were not impressed by most of the apartments we saw but I am confident there is a potential to find well kept apartments. There are plenty of apartments on the market. Most of the apartments you can find online are through real-estate agents (which generally charge 50% of one month rent). We used a local newspaper filled with ads and there too we found many apartments – including the one we now live in. The apartments online look much better maintained then most of the apartments we saw through the paper.

The following three images are left over from the first selection. The first picture is of a brick wall which seemed to reveal the city’s past similar to a tree rings that indicate a tree’s age and development.

The next image is a simple composition I enjoyed coming across – great light, great textures – simple 🙂

The last image is a mysterious reflection of a single street light through the textured window of the bathroom of our hostel.

More soon 🙂

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