Dying of Boredom?

By Robert Harland
Samuel Johnson - a man of letters

Samuel Johnson - a man of letters

Samuel Johnson, the distinguished 18th century English man of letters, famously said that “when a man is bored of London, he is bored of life”. When I left London in 1977 at the age of 30, I wasn’t bored with the city or with life. I just though that life in Asia would be more exciting. And I was right.

One often hears people say they are dying of boredom. But you’re unlikely to die of the normal run-of-the-mill boredom, though indirectly, it has probably killed many people. It is often a major factor that drives people to do daring and sometimes crazy things like bungee jumping, sky diving and other extreme sports.

Certain personalities that gravitate toward high-risk lifestyles also experience chronic boredom, but it can kill in more benign ways such as falling asleep while behind the wheel while driving long distances

We all know what boredom feels like. For many of us we itch for something to do, but our bodies don’t always respond. And some of us feel a sensation of lazy restlessness.

My 90 year-old mother in England always says there is so much to do in life, no one should ever be bored. I think she’s right. Finding new interests or hobbies, physical exercise and mindfulness have all been shown to reduce boredom.

And then of course there are boring people. Yes, we all know someone we dread bumping into at the mall as we know we’re going to be stuck there forced to listen to a boring monologue — usually focused on the speaker.

These bores have never realized the reason God gave us two ears and one mouth is so we can hear twice as much as we say.

Actor George Sanders - died of boredom

Actor George Sanders - died of boredom

One person who was surely not at all boring was the suave Russian-born English film actor George Sanders, who portrayed villains or charming heels in films such as Manhunt, Forever Amber and Samson and Delilah. He was also the villainous tiger Shere Khan in The Jungle Book. His career spanned more than forty years.

But, alas, he literally died of boredom.

On 23 April 1972, Sanders checked into a hotel in Castelldefels, a coastal town near Barcelona. He was found dead two days later, having taken five bottles of the drug Nembutal. He was 65 years old.

He left behind a suicide note, which read:

“Dear World, I am leaving because I am bored. I feel I have lived long enough. I am leaving you with your worries in this sweet cesspool. Good luck.”

It must be noted, however, that Sanders suffered from depression. He’d had three failed marriages — his wives included the Gabor sisters Magda and Zsa Zsa — and his fourth wife, Benita Hume, died of bone cancer, so this suave suicide note probably came from a deeply troubled man.

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Masseur Milks New Opportunities

By Robert Harland

“I’m a high-class qualified breast masseur”, Mr. Xia Jun, CEO of the Household Service Company, told reporters in Shanghai. “And I message breasts in a very scientific way”.

Xia claims to be China’s first qualified breast massage therapist. He’s planning to promote breast-massaging services in the country and believes it offers a good business opportunity.

Mr. Xia demonstrating his techniques

Mr. Xia demonstrating his techniques

He said it was well known that breast massage can boost milk secretion in nursing mothers. In the wake of recent baby milk formula scandals many more mothers want to feed their babies naturally.

“There are male gynecologists and obstetricians so why not male breast masseurs,” he asked.

It it took Xia three months to get officially qualified as a “breast massage tutor” with a license from the China Employment Training Technical Instruction Center at the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security.

He said the instruction center was more reliable compared with private training institutes in Shanghai. He is now training his employees in the correct techniques which takes between ten and 18 days.

“For just 500 yuan (Php3,300) an hour, let me and my qualified staff boost your milk production.”

Mr. Xia claims that men are better suited to being breast messieurs, but not everyone agrees. A medical researcher said there was no difference between men and women learning breast massage skills. He added that the key problem is whether mothers are willing to accept masseurs at all.

Mr. Xia’s services have not been universally welcomed in Shanghai.

“It’s disgusting” said local resident 24-year-old Xu Boshi. “What kind of husband would allow another to massage his wife’s breast? I’d rather study the techniques and do it myself. Anyway, I’m dubious about Xia’s professional and scientific skills because his training course only takes a few days.”

Dr. Hou of the Shanghai No. 1 Maternity Hospital added “it’s not necessary for a nursing mother to employ somebody else to massage her breast. She can boost milk production by doing it herself.”

So far Xia hasn’t had any requests for his new service, but said he remains confident.

Road Hog!

By Robert Harland

In my youth I never claimed to be much good behind the wheel. In fact, I was then such a bad driver I once appeared on a TV driving quiz program as an anonymous road hog.

Some accidents are caused by overloading

Some accidents are caused by overloading

Funny thing was I beat the other panelists in the quiz and they were all so-called professional drivers. Perhaps I wasn’t as bad I thought.

These days there are dozens of Reality TV programs around the world about bad driving — all in the quest by desperate TV stations to find viewers.

Accidents can also happen when you're distracted

Accidents can also happen when you're distracted

But just who are the world’s worst drivers? I’m sure many would immediately say Bacolod Jeepney drivers. They could be, but for really appalling driving I suggest a trip toIndia or Pakistan.

Some vehicles are safer than others

Some vehicles are safer than others

According to the World Health Organization, traffic accidents kill more than 1.2 million people a year with fifty million people injured or disabled. The WHO adds that 90% of the deaths happen in poor countries. Globally, more than half the total accidents involve drivers between 15 and 44 years. Males are involved in almost 75 per cent of all accidents.

Americans own more cars than in any other country so one would expect the US to have he highest numbers of accidents. It does. There are about six million traffic accidents a year in the US.

Texting while driving is definitely not a good idea

Texting while driving is definitely not a good idea

In Europe, Italy and Poland lead the pack with the most number of fatal accidents.

Accident statistics are collected mainly from insurance companies. But in Africa and Asia many cars are not insured so statistics for accident rates are not reliable.

If you think driving standards are poor here, what about these examples of downright driving lunacy.

In Albuquerque, New Mexico a man with four previous drunken driving convictions was stopped for weaving in and out of traffic. His excuse for poor driving: his passenger spilled his beer.

A Canadian man, with 46 convictions for bad driving, is said to be easily distracted and often doesn’t look at the road when he’s behind the wheel.

A Virginia man driving at 140 kph was said to have been drunk and having sex with his girlfriend.

And a contestant on the Dutch TV show Who Is The Worst Driver In The Netherlands? well and truly staked his claim after he ran down a TV presenter during filming of the final episode.

Safe travels!

Wok the Dog

By Robert Harland

Would you eat dog meat? Perhaps, if it’s that or starve. But I think most of us would prefer not to see man’s best friend on the dinner table.

A dog is wrapped for sale at a market in the Baiyun district in China's southern city of Guangzhou

A dog is wrapped for sale at a market in the Baiyun district in China's southern city of Guangzhou

Dogs have been eaten in parts of Asia since time immemorial. In South Korea alone it’s reckoned there are around 6,000 restaurants serving over a million portions of dog meat a year.

Dogs on their way to market a South Korea

Dogs on their way to market a South Korea

In Vietnam, I’ve seen cages on street corners containing dogs bred and reared purely to end up on the dinner table.

In China dog eating goes back thousands of years, but these days with more and more middle class Chinese owning dogs the notion of eating what could be a pet is becoming distasteful. China is now considering a law to outlaw eating dog meat.

But many ask why ban eating dogs when we eat pigs and cows? What’s the difference?  A growing army of Chinese believe that dogs should be treated as pets and not food.

In South Korea there’s been a substantial increase in the number of protests against eating dog meat. The Korea Dog Farmers’ Association was recently planning to stage an open-air market in Seongnam City, just south of Seoul, but it was canceled following growls of protest from animal rights groups.

A South Korean child protests against eating  dog meat

A South Korean child protests against eating dog meat

“This is making our country an international laughing stock, and making the whole world mistakenly believe that all South Koreans eat dogs,” said Park So-Youn, head of Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth.

“Canines are the animals emotionally closest to humans. You can’t just publicly celebrate killing and eating them,” Park said.

In 2002 when South Korea co-hosted the FIFA World Cup, French actress-turned-animal rights activist Brigitte Bardot said she received thousands of death threats for criticizing the practice of eating dog meat.

Last week, the International Olympic Committee awarded the 2018 Winter Games to the South Korean county of Pyeongchang. Will South Korea once again come under international pressure from animal rights organizations? The IOC declined to comment for this article.

There is also the cruelty aspect of the dog meat trade. Devotees believe the meat is richer if the dog is beaten to death to release the blood into the meat.

And many Asian men are convinced there are medicinal benefits from dog meat. They say it enhances their sexual ability.

But these days there’s always Viagra — it’s proven to work, it’s not cruel and it’s probably a lot cheaper than a slap-up dinner with Rover as the main course.

Growing Beautiful Orchids

Distinguished Filipino horticulturist, Vicente Chin Jr, was the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Negros Occidental Garden Club on Thursday at the Pavillon Hotel in Bacolod City.

Distinguished Filipino horticulturist, Vicente Chin Jr, was the  guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Negros Occidental  Garden Club on Thursday at the Pavillon Hotel in Bacolod City. Chin, renowned for his expertise with orchids, gave members a  step-by-step lecture on growing these beautiful flowers. Pictured (l-r) Vicente Chin with garden club members Hazel Guerero, Maribel  Torre, Francis Te, Joaquin Torre

Distinguished Filipino horticulturist, Vicente Chin Jr, was the guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Negros Occidental Garden Club on Thursday at the Pavillon Hotel in Bacolod City. Chin, renowned for his expertise with orchids, gave members a step-by-step lecture on growing these beautiful flowers. Pictured (l-r) Vicente Chin with garden club members Hazel Guerero, Maribel Torre, Francis Te, Joaquin Torre

Chin, renowned for his expertise with orchids, gave members a step-by-step lecture on growing these beautiful flowers.

“Growing orchids is not easy – far from it, but with proper research, perseverance and patience, one can achieve very satisfying results,” he stressed.

“A vitally important aspect is watering. Some species like lots of water, while others need to protected from the rain. Watering also depends on other factors such as the weather, wind, sunlight intensity and the size of the pots.”

He added that in a hot and humid country like the Philippines, it’s necessary to water some varieties up to three times a day during summer.

Vicente Chin (left) with Bacolod horticulturist Francis Te

Vicente Chin (left) with Bacolod horticulturist Francis Te

Chin also covered the sometimes controversial topic of fertilizer and the care needed to ensure the right kind and the right amounts.

“Interestingly, orchids prefer organic fertilizer, but many enthusiasts find a combination of organic and chemical produces the best results,” he said.

Light, shade and temperature are also important he said noting that different varieties have differing light requirements so it’s important to adjust shade correctly as well as provide artificial ventilation when necessary.

He added that potting and mounting orchids is critical if the plants are to thrive. The species’ preference decides if they are going to be mounted on wood or in baskets or pots.

Pests and disease control is another key component of successful growing.

Orchids on sale in a Taiwan. The county is the world's leading grower of orchids

Orchids on sale in a Taiwan. The county is the world's leading grower of orchids

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” he said, citing the old adage “Problems can be avoided by proper quarantine, sanitation and nutrition. And don’t forget bird damage can be quite severe.”

With all these complexities does Chin think growing orchids is worth the effort?

“Definitely,” he said with a smile. “They are the most beautiful and spectacular of all flowering plants on earth!”

Marapara Rotary inducts new president

The Rotary Club of Bacolod Marapara inducted its new president and set of officers for Rotary Year 2011-2012 at 21 Restaurant in Bacolod City on Thursday.

Bacolod restaurateur Jose Rico Cajili is the club’s new president. He takes over from Maximo Javelona.

Rotary Club of Bacolod Marapara - new officers and directors Rotary year 2011/2012. Eduardo Coscolluela, outgoing president Maximo Javelona, incoming president Jose Rico Cajili, Emilio Infante, inducting officer David Villanueva, Paul Felton, Felix Manuel Trebol, Remegio Montemayor (l-r back row). Frederico Locsin, Robert Harland, Jose Miguel Montinola, Fidel Henares  (l-r) front row

Rotary Club of Bacolod Marapara - new officers and directors Rotary year 2011/2012. Eduardo Coscolluela, outgoing president Maximo Javelona, incoming president Jose Rico Cajili, Emilio Infante, inducting officer David Villanueva, Paul Felton, Felix Manuel Trebol, Remegio Montemayor (l-r back row). Frederico Locsin, Robert Harland, Jose Miguel Montinola, Fidel Henares (l-r) front row

Mr. Cajili said he was honored to be the new president. In addition to ongoing community activities including medical missions and feeding programs, he said he would continue the club’s focus on the very successful English Communication Enhancement project for call center agents.

Outgoing Bacolod Marapara Rotary Club president Maximo Javelona (left) hands over the club gavel and Rotary medallion to incoming president Jose Rico Cajili

Outgoing Bacolod Marapara Rotary Club president Maximo Javelona (left) hands over the club gavel and Rotary medallion to incoming president Jose Rico Cajili

He called for the continuing support of all club members adding that emphasis would be placed on the new Rotary theme of ‘Reach to embrace humanity’.

Guest of honor and keynote speaker was Bacolod businessman Ramon Uy who spoke on how to succeed in business even after bankruptcy.

The club also inducted Bobby Coscolluela and James Ang as new members.

To fund its many community projects, the club stages the annual ‘Rotary-Golf for a Cause’ tournament held at the Negros Occidental Golf and Country Club.

Celebrating the Fourth of July

Celebrating the Fourth of July. Members of the Bacolod Retired  American and Allied Veterans Organization (BRAAVO) celebrated  American Independence Day on Sunday in the clubhouse at Town  and Country in Talisay City. (l-r) Stessie Hecita, Cecilia Smith, Rene  Adad, Denis Cosgrove, Herman Augustin, Mike Jackson, Larry Bullock,  Bettie and Tony Albertoni and Emma Bullock. (Photo Robert Harland)

Celebrating the Fourth of July. Members of the Bacolod Retired American and Allied Veterans Organization (BRAAVO) celebrated American Independence Day on Sunday in the clubhouse at Town and Country in Talisay City. (l-r) Stessie Hecita, Cecilia Smith, Rene Adad, Denis Cosgrove, Herman Augustin, Mike Jackson, Larry Bullock, Bettie and Tony Albertoni and Emma Bullock. (Photo Robert Harland)

Police chief meets foreign community

BCPO Director Senior Supt. Ricardo De La Paz was guest speaker at the monthly meeting of the Bacolod Expats’ Group on Saturday at Nature’s Village in Talisay City.

BCPO Director Senior Supt. Ricardo De La Paz discusses law and  order issues with members of the Bacolod Expats' Group (l-r)  Americans Ded Vail and Ron Savage and Brit Nick Scarborough

BCPO Director Senior Supt. Ricardo De La Paz discusses law and order issues with members of the Bacolod Expats' Group (l-r) Americans Ded Vail and Ron Savage and Brit Nick Scarborough

Speaking before nationals from the US, UK, Germany, Canada, Belgium, The Netherlands and Norway, Col. de La Paz gave an overview of the law and order situation inBacolod City. This was followed by a lively question and answer session covering numerous issues, especially traffic problems.

(l-r) BCPO Director Senior Supt. Ricardo De La Paz, Robert Harland,  British Embassy Warden for Negros Occidental and Rene Adad,  former Philippine Football Federation president

(l-r) BCPO Director Senior Supt. Ricardo De La Paz, Robert Harland, British Embassy Warden for Negros Occidental and Rene Adad, former Philippine Football Federation president

This was the first time the police chief had met the ever-expanding local expatriate community since taking up his current position in January. He said it had been valuable to get the views and input of such a diverse international group.