Rotary club party for indigent children

Rotary club party for indigent children

Members of the Rotary Club of Bacolod Marapara (l-r) Max Javelona, Rico Cajili, Robert Harland, JJ Coscolluela with teacher Mary Ann Fernandez and the children of the Villa Gracia Day Care Center

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A Case of Left or Right

By Robert Harland

As a Brit, I’m always amused when Americans say “You limeys (American slang for Brits) drive on the wrong side of the road.”

Keep to the left so you can protect yourself with a sword in your right hand.

Keep to the left so you can protect yourself with a sword in your right hand.

There is no ‘wrong’ side of the road. Countries either have left or right-hand driving. It’s also a mistake to think that only the Brits drive on the left. A quarter of the world does – including the Japanese.

There is a perfectly good reason why the Brits drive on the left and it goes back many hundreds of years.

In the Middle Ages one was a constant target for robbers and bandits. Most people are right handed
so you traveled on the left-hand side of a road or track to make sure you could easily draw your sword to protect yourself if attacked.

In the Middle ages one was a constant target for robbers  and bandits

In the Middle ages one was a constant target for robbers and bandits

This custom was given official sanction in 1300 AD, when Pope Boniface VIII invented the modern science of traffic control by declaring that pilgrims headed to Romeshould keep left.

In the late 1700s teamsters in the United States began hauling farm produce in huge wagons pulled by several pairs of horses. Instead of a driver’s seat, the driver sat on the left rear horse, so he could keep his right arm free to lash the team.

Since you were sitting on the left, naturally you wanted everybody to pass on the left so you could look down and make sure you kept clear of the wheels of passing wagons.

Thus you kept to the right side of the road. The drive-on-the-right policy was adopted by the USA, which was also anxious to cast off all remaining links with its British colonial past.

Once America drove on the right, left-side driving was ultimately doomed. With the advent of the internal combustion engine, if you wanted a decent motor car, you bought an American model. Initially they only made right-hand drive cars.

From then on many countries changed out of necessity.

The last European country to convert to driving on the right was Sweden in 1967. I was living there in 1966 and well remember the preparations taking place for the changeover.

Right or left hand drive. It doesn't really matter when  the steering wheel is in the middle.

Right or left hand drive. It doesn't really matter when the steering wheel is in the middle.

Interestingly, in 2009 Samoa changed from right to left-hand driving. The main reason was they wanted to buy secondhand, modestly-priced right-hand drive cars fromJapan and New Zealand, which both drive on the left.

Pump boat racers hit the water

Fisherfolk from Lakawon and neighboring communities gathered last Thursday and Friday for the island’s boating highlight of the year – the annual Lakawon Bankarrera pump boat races.

Two modified pump boats thrill the crowds with a fast drive past  demo. These boats can reach speeds of 75kph.

Two modified pump boats thrill the crowds with a fast drive past demo. These boats can reach speeds of 75kph.

Staged over two days, the event features ‘small’ (under18ft) and ‘big’ boats (over 18ft). The pump boats must be regular fishing boats and not modified in anyway.

Some 20 boats vied for top honors. And spectators were treated to some close racing as well as one or two spills.

Winner in the small boat category was Nonoy Belegay. Second was Cocoy Ang and third Agi Cerafeno. Winner in the big boat category was Bagyo Caratao with Percebal Caratao in second place and Mark Caratao in third place.

A close finish

A close finish

The Lakawon Bankarrera is the island’s biggest annual boating event. Each winner took home a new Yoko pump boat engine. Prize donors included boat enthusiasts Manolet Lamata, Lakawon Beach Resort owner Victor Puey and NDB contributor Robert Harland

Full of Cold Air?

By Robert Harland
Tata's proposed Air Car

Tata's proposed Air Car

In 2008, Tata Motors, India’s largest car manufacturer, announced it had joined forces with French company, Motor Development International (MDI), to produce the world’s first car to run on nothing but compressed air.

Wow! This would be the greenest of green cars. Tata said its Air Car could achieve speeds of almost 70mph (112kph) and would have a range of 125 miles (217km) between fill-ups. And the price would be a very reasonable US$13,000 (Php566,000).

Tata said this in 2008. So where’s the car chaps? Dates for the Air Car’s much-publicized release in both Indian and American markets have come and gone, but still no car.

In 2009 the company admitted it had run into some serious snags as the excessively low engine temperature caused by the compressed air was a major problem. These issues seem to be significant though Tata has refused to say if it’s calling off the project.

The Air Car -- will it see the light of day?

The Air Car -- will it see the light of day?

If the project is cancelled it would be a great blow. Just imagine filling up now and again with Php100 worth of air rather than thousands of pesos for gas!

Although the Air Car may never make it to the market, two Indian mechanical engineering professors are working on a more  modest compressed air engine project.

Professors Bharat Raj Singh and Onkar Singh from the SMS Institute for Technology in Lucknow are working on a scheme to refit India’s scooters with an air-compression motor.

Unlike the Air Car, the scooter motor will run on low pressure compressed air — about the same as needed to fill a tire at the gas station. The Tata vehicle would require stations to install high-tech air pumps, a difficult investment for station owners in a developing country like India.

The scooter engine is still very much in the development stage. The professors say a number of technical challenges remain. Range is an issue — at the moment it’s a mere 18 miles (28km).

Although a vehicle running on only compressed air might seem like an environment’s dream, they would still have a carbon footprint.  India relies heavily on dirty coal-fired power plants so the use of thousands of compressed air vehicles would actually increase the total emissions sent into the atmosphere because of the huge amount of electricity needed to run the compressors.

Major mangrove project launched in Sipalay

Sipalay City, in partnership with the Energy Development Corporation (EDC) and Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation (NFEFI), has launched an ambitious four-year project to plant 20 hectares of mangrove forest along the city’s northern coastline.

The reforestation project aims to reverse the degradation and loss of mangrove forests in the area.

Signing the MOA on Friday to launch the mangrove project in Sipalay. (l-r) NFEFI president Paul Lizares, EDC's Roberto Cama, Sipalay City Mayor Oscar Montilla Jr, DENR's Chief Regional Executive Director Julian Amador

Signing the MOA on Friday to launch the mangrove project in Sipalay. (l-r) NFEFI president Paul Lizares, EDC's Roberto Cama, Sipalay City Mayor Oscar Montilla Jr, DENR's Chief Regional Executive Director Julian Amador

“The benefits of mangrove forests are enormous”, said NFEFI president Paul Lizares.

“More than 70 per cent of all tropical fish spend part of their lives in mangrove forests which give them shelter, food and nursery grounds.

“They provide protection from strong winds and waves, offering a buffer zone to help shield coastlines from storm damage. Additionally, they provide soil stabilization and help stop soil erosion. Sea grass beds and coral reefs depend on healthy mangroves.”

A typical mangrove forest

A typical mangrove forest

Mangroves have specially adapted aerial and salt-filtering roots and salt-excreting leaves which enable them to occupy the saline wetlands where other plant life cannot survive.

They are also useful in treating effluent, as the plants absorb excess nitrates and phosphates, thereby preventing contamination of near shore waters.

They absorb carbon dioxide and store carbon in their sediments, thereby lessening the impact of global warming.

Sure as Eggs is Eggs!

By Robert Harland
Weekend treat

Weekend treat

I look forward to breakfast at weekends. On  Saturdays and Sundays it’s two tasty boiled eggs accompanied by toasted bread – the best in Bacolod from Honey Grace’s bakery.

But delight can turn to disgust when the eggs are bad. Eggs can be the source of some superb meals, but they can also be the source of food poisoning if they are eaten when they’ve gone bad. Having had a bout of food poisoning recently, I am very wary these days.

Eggs in Negros tend to be a bit bland and the hens loaded with all kinds of chemicals and antibiotics. Eggs here also tend to have thin shells as I understand the hens have little calcium intake.

I was delighted therefore a few months ago in my local market to find a lady selling free range brown eggs. So far so good, but on Sunday I almost threw up after a spoonful of what was obviously a bad egg.

This prompted me to do some research and I now have a note on my kitchen wall to check all eggs. I tested the remaining  eggs from the market and all showed to be at least three weeks old, so I guess the lady has lost a customer.

Fresh or bad? Do the water test.

Fresh or bad? Do the water test.

Here’s the test. Place the egg into a bowl of cold water. The water level should be about 2 times higher than the egg.

Observe what the egg does.

  • Fresh eggs will sink to the bottom of the bowl and probably lie on their sides.
  • Slightly older eggs (about one week) will lie on the bottom but bob slightly.
  • If the egg balances on its smallest tip, with the large tip reaching for the top, it’s probably close to three weeks old.
  • Eggs that float at the surface are bad and should not be consumed.

When cracking an egg open, look carefully to see if there is any mold or something unusual.

How fresh are your eggs?

How fresh are your eggs?

Blood spots (also referred to as “meat” spots) don’t signify a bad or fertilized egg. It’s caused by a ruptured blood vessel during the formation of the egg. Since blood spots are diluted as the egg ages, their presence actually means you have a fresh egg. You can eat it safely, or remove the blood spot with the tip of a knife, if it makes you feel better.

Stringy, rope-like strands of egg white are chalazae which are present in every egg to keep the yolk centered. They’re not a sign that the egg is bad or fertilized and they can be consumed safely or removed.

An egg white that is cloudy or has a yellow or greenish cast to it is caused by carbon dioxide not having enough time to escape from the shell and is especially common in fresh eggs.

Bon Appétit! And if you know any anyone selling fresh, free range eggs, please let me know.

Even in God’s House

By Robert Harland

I attended a wedding last week with my partner in the chapel in the up-market Sta. Clara subdivision. It was a small affair and we knew most of the guests.

The chapel at Sta. Clara

The chapel at Sta. Clara

There were one or two non-guests present including some itinerant photographers. These people gatecrash weddings and take pictures. Guests usually think they are official photographers, and many are shocked when the itinerants demand money for prints.

But I digress.

During the ceremony, my partner stood up to take a picture and when she returned to her pew, her cell phone had been stolen. She’s not the first and she’ll not be the last. But, a pity such a thing could happen in God’s house and in such a posh subdivision.

The theft got me thinking about how easy it is for a thief to succeed, especially when one is surrounded by friends at a gathering like a wedding.

So I did some quick research. A few tips to remind me and my partner every time we go out.

The first and most obvious tip is to assume you’ll meet a thief today so never leave anything unattended.

Don’t talk to strangers. Some pickpockets will try to engage you in conversation, but they’re setting you up for a nearby partner.

Beware of crowds. Pickpockets like areas where people are packed together in close quarters.

Make sure your wallet fits in to a pocket that can be fastened. Better still, if in a crowded area, keep your hand on your wallet.

Wherever you are, always be aware of who is sitting next to you. Pickpockets usually work in pairs so they can hand off the stolen items. Move away if you feel unconformable with the people around you.

Thieves are just as likely to snatch your purse so keep your handbag tight against your body and in front of you at all times. And when you’re sitting down in the food court at the mall, don’t sling your purse behind you on the chair.

A well-known ploy of thieves is to create a diversion – pointing at something, talking loudly or spilling something on your coat then offering to clean it up. It can happen in a restaurant or a busy mall. Whenever anyone approaches you, be sure to firmly hold your purse and keep it in front of you.

Pare down your wallet. Leave everything except the necessities at home. Photocopy all of the cards in your wallet, just in case.

Good luck, and remember your possessions can be stolen anywhere – even in God’s house.*

Kids’ party kicks off new Rotary year

Incoming Marapara Rotary president  Rico Cajili serves lunch to a child at the  Villa Gracia Day Care Center

Incoming Marapara Rotary president Rico Cajili serves lunch to a child at the Villa Gracia Day Care Center

“Wow, what a treat!” said Mary Ann Fernandez, a teacher at the Villa Gracia Day Care Center in Brgy Bata, when members of the Rotary Club of Bacolod Marapara arrivedFriday morning bearing trays of burgers and soft drinks for the children.

“Surprise parties for indigent children were hosted by Rotary clubs throughout the District (3850) on July 1 to get Rotary year 2011/2012 well and truly off to a flying start,” said incoming Marapara Rotary Club president Rico Cajili.

“We adopted the Villa Gracia Day Care Center several years ago and support the children throughout the year including a big bash at Christmas.”

The Rotary theme for the new year is “Reach to embrace humanity.”

A surprise party for the children of the Villa Gracia Day Care Center. Incoming Marapara Rotary president Rico Cajili and teacher Mary Ann Fernandez serve the children with lunch

A surprise party for the children of the Villa Gracia Day Care Center. Incoming Marapara Rotary president Rico Cajili and teacher Mary Ann Fernandez serve the children with lunch