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Feng Shui not so fun

By Walter Jowers

AUGUST 10, 1998:  I subscribe to a couple of home-inspector discussion groups on the Internet. In one of the groups, I've been arguing with a faraway fellow inspector who has started selling ozone-generating "air purifiers" to his customers right there at the house to be inspected, before he even walks inside. I've held that this is a conflict of interest, bordering on a con game. He respectfully disagrees, and adds that he makes a 100-percent profit every time he sells one.

Last week, another faraway inspection guy jumped into the discussion. He said that I should be more open-minded and entrepreneurial. He said I should consider not only selling air purifiers, but also offering Feng Shui and Bau-Biologie services.

I wasn't familiar with either concept, so don't you know, I just had to look 'em up.

Here's your Feng Shui, as defined by Elaine Paris and Sue Ruzicka, Ed.D., who run a Feng Shui outfit in St. Louis: "Feng Shui is a unique form of interior design that works with the overall energy of your home or office. It is similar to environmental psychology in that your space mirrors what is going on in your life. The goal is to bring balance and harmony into the many areas of your life through placement of furniture, the use of healthy and appropriate lighting, careful selection of color, positioning of unique accessories, etc."

Sounds OK so far. But Mizzes Paris and Ruzicka go on to list some "biomagnetic products" they sell, which include: Crystal Catalyst Tabs, which block radiation from computers, printers, fax machines, and such like; and Tri-pak Resonators, which neutralize "harmful fields" in homes and offices. The women tout the resonators as a "Traveler's companion when flying. Place in carry-on luggage with flat side facing down."

But what if the plane went into a barrel roll and turned upside-down? The harmful fields would reappear! You'd be screwed!

When Paris and Ruzicka come to Feng Shui your house, you have to pay with cash money up front, stuffed into nine red envelopes. No white envelopes. They say they need the power of the red envelopes to block bad ch'i.

OK, some of it sounds loony, but I think these Feng Shui people are on to something. I know that bad furniture placement has fouled up my personal balance and harmony more than once. For instance, about every third house I go into has a door that won't open, because a piece of furniture is in the way. I just can't figure out why people would booby-trap their own house.

If I tried to open a door at my house, and that simple act was complicated by toppling a knick-knack-filled etagere on the other side, I'd get pretty danged disharmonic. Most likely, I'd rip the door off the hinges and toss it out into the yard, pro-wrestling-style.

I've seen cute little dining tables shoehorned into cute little breakfast nooks where there's not enough room to pull the chairs away from the table. Nobody can sit down. Nobody can actually eat at the dining table. The table is a cruel mirage, and it needs dusting besides.

If I went into the Feng Shui business, I would suggest this simple two-step process: 1. With the exception of true family treasures, grab everything in the house that you haven't touched for a year, and bring it out to the front porch. 2. Call the Salvation Army and tell them to come get the stuff.

Problem solved. Give me my nine red envelopes fulla cash.

I couldn't find out much about Bau-Biologie. From what I could gather, it's a movement composed of folks who believe that just about everything in a modern house is bad for you, because all modern products emit some kind of deadly gas or radiation. Solutions involve building simple mud houses with thatched roofs, changing your diet, and putting crystals (which go for 15 bucks and up) in critical locations. One Bau-Biologie adherent said that we'd all be happier if we'd just sculpt our homes, neighborhoods, and communities to honor ourselves and Gaia.

I say keep the roof patched, the house clean, and be good to the people you live with. Do that, and I think you can skip the crystals.


Visit Walter's Web site at http://www.nash-scene.com/~housesense. Or e-mail him at walter.jowers@nashville.com.


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