Khaas Baat : A Publication for Indian Americans in Florida
Guest Column



Before we know it … here comes February 2011. It was like yesterday the malls had Christmas decorations all around and now it seems like love is in the air. So guess what that means … Valentine’s Day! This is one occasion that is not specific to any culture, country or region.

A grade-school boy wants flowers for his first true love; high school seniors plan a romantic rendezvous; a TV sports reporter gets the assignment to find romance in LA; a business person contemplates his future; two strangers meet on a plane; grandparents, together for years, face a crisis; and, an "I Hate Valentine's Day" dinner beckons the lonely and the lied to. Can Cupid ever finish his work?

I remember it was our first Valentine’s Day together when I was dating my husband and he had sent a box of beautiful long-stem roses with a big box of chocolates. It continued into a romantic evening with more beautiful gifts and dinner. It was exciting and well appreciated.  Falling in love was like falling from the sky … without a parachute. And then … came marriage and babies in a carriage and slowly but surely the roses stopped coming …

So, why is it important to express love? Every expression of love carries in it the seeds of possibilities.

A dear friend recently said that he would fall in love a million times and risk being hurt then to live without that feeling. I had a different opinion at the time and thought that it was better to protect one from being hurt. Once we allow our hearts to open and reveal the full expression of love, it comes with great risk. We have hopes and expectations. We want it to be reciprocated and valued. When we choose to risk our hearts, we take a chance of being hurt or rejected. If we don't risk anything, what is the alternative? Remaining numb and safe.

When we nurture and honor love it has the ability to lift us up and give us hope, tenderness and affection. We must allow ourselves to love our partners, children, pets, parents, friends and all the people who put a smile on our face. My mother cooks for my dad even when she has no energy and my dad still makes sure that her efforts are appreciated … He makes sure she rests well and watches her favorite TV shows. They make sure my sister reaches work safe everyday and comes home safe. My daughter makes me tea when I come home from work and my son always asks me to sit and relax when he sees me work in the kitchen. He brings me a blanket when I sit and watch TV. My friends call just to show they care. All an expression of love …

Here are a few tricks that can facilitate the expression of love within our environment … our families and our loved ones. Let’s not wait for Valentine’s Day …

Turn off that phone
Maintain eye contact when you communicate
Be spiritual together
Be physically affectionate
Pay attention
Be emotionally available
Accept unconditionally
Be supportive
Laugh together
Find common interests and pursue them
Give lots of compliments .

Spoil those kids, hug the people around you, show your love through acts of service and next time your friend is stressed, and offer to help her with something, or have a nice dinner ready for your wife. Easing the burden for others is a great way to show that you appreciate all that they do and you love them enough to make life a little easier for them.

I accept all types of love – unconditionally. I know that the expression of love is all that matters. On a higher level, those who I send my love to receive it. I feel the love returned to me ten-thousand fold.

Sending you unconditional love and many blessings … don’t forget to return it with lots of chocolates and flowers …

Guest Column



With enough solar energy reaching the earth's surface every hour to provide all the power the world needs for a year, solar power has the potential of becoming an essential component of the long-term solution to our energy needs. As solar technologies get cheaper and conventional energy prices rise, solar energy is increasingly becoming a choice of alternate energy. Photovoltaic (PV) is a solar energy technology that uses unique properties of semiconductors to directly convert solar radiation into electricity. PV systems use wafers made of crystalline silicon that are sensitive to sunlight and produce a small direct current when exposed to light. When these PV cells are combined into larger systems called modules, they produce electricity with no moving parts, noise or emissions.

A home PV system is an electrical system consisting of any array of one or more PV modules, conductors, electrical components, connected to one or more loads such as lighting, A/C, heating, pool pumps, etc. The most common PV system is a utility-connected system on a residential building, which is also sometimes called a grid-connected system. The PV system may or may not include battery storage. The battery option provides electricity during night when there is no sunlight available to produce electricity. Additionally, when a PV system is connected to grid, often times the power company offers a net metering option, which allows the owner of the PV system to sell excess power generated by the PV system to the utility company. Most power companies participate in this program, including Tampa Electric.

PV technology was invented more than 160 years ago, but has progressed exponentially in the last few decades. PV has only recently become a practical technology for power generation. United States accounts for only 12 percent of the world’s total installed PV capacity. Currently, the global PV industry is dominated by Japan (35 percent) and Germany (40 percent), which is primarily driven by progressive incentive policies and high utility rates. The most attractive incentive offered in the United States is the 30 percent Federal Tax Credit without any upper limit. For example if a PV system costs $30,000, a $9,000 Tax Credit may be extended to the homeowner.

Besides PV systems, solar thermal heating is also widely used for heating water for pools and home use. Solar thermal heating collectors are dark colored containers with working fluid that convert absorbed solar radiation into heat and transfer the heat to the working fluid. The working fluid is usually a type of antifreeze, but could be water if there is no danger of freezing. The working fluid is circulated through a heat exchanger which transfers the absorbed heat to the water for use. Solar thermal heating systems are either passive or active. The passive systems utilize convection to circulate the heated water through the rest of the system. In active systems, fans and pumps are used to circulate the fluid. Additionally, standalone pumps such as swimming pool pumps can be run by dedicated solar pumps with PV modules.

So for 2011, consider installing a PV system in your home or business and tap into the sun – a clean and virtually never-ending alternate energy source.

Kiron Senapati is an environmental consultant based in the Tampa Bay area, specializing in water and wastewater treatment and alternate energy. He may be reached at ksenapati@hotmail.com

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