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Observations: ‘Boredom’ can lead to interesting finds

August 19, 2014

in Local

SWO-webBy Pete Daniels
Contributing editor

Boredom is not a good thing. When it afflicts kids, mischief can result. When found in adults, it can have even worse results. But when politicians are stricken with the ailment, disaster can be expected.
It seems there are different sorts of boredom. There is, for example, indifferent boredom and people suffering from that “appear relaxed, calm, and withdrawn…”
Then there is something known as “calibrating boredom” and people suffering from it “find that their thoughts wander and they want do something that differs from what they’re currently doing. But they’re not exactly sure what or how they might go about it. This state occurs when people perform repetitive tasks and want to reduce this boredom, but generally seem unsure of what to do.” (Maybe that could explain some of the goofy stuff you see coming out of Washington or Jefferson City.)
Reactant boredom “is the worst — people experiencing this tedium are highly aroused and have a lot of negative emotions. They’re also restless and aggressive. People experiencing reactant boredom really want to leave their dull situations and flee from the people they blame for it, including their teachers, bosses, or parents. They waste their time thinking of situations they’d rather be in that seem more valuable than their current circumstances.”
If you’ve digested all of that and made sense of it, you may be ahead of the game, whatever it may be.
Then there is “searching boredom” and folks with it “experience negative feelings and a creeping, disagreeable restlessness. They look for ways out by focusing on more interesting activities…” About describes everybody at one time or another, doesn’t it?
The source for all you’ve read in quotation marks is from something called “mental floss,” which appeared when the word “boredom” was typed on Google’s page at a time involving, well, boredom. The “mental floss” page had a picture of a pretty blonde woman who appeared about ready to fall into a deep sleep.
Evidently trying to keep my mind off the fact that our home air conditioner had just failed (and finding a topic for this column), my efforts led me to discovering all of this heady material.
And being a bit weary of all the gloom and doom news inundating us all on a daily bias led to further probing of the bottomless pit of information that is the Internet — and to other discoveries.
Did you know, for instance, that “a man once sued his doctor because he survived his cancer longer than the doctor predicted”?
And, I’d bet you didn’t know that “an airplane mechanic invented Slinky while he was playing with engine parts and realized the possible secondary use for the springs.”
Or that “Austria was the first country to use postcards” or that “an ounce of platinum can be stretched 10,000 feet.”
It was also fascinating to learn that “beer was the first trademarked product. British beer Bass Pale Ale received its trademark in 1876.”
We’ve all had to deal with the Internal Revenue Service, but few of you might know the agency has an employees’ handbook for its collections division. That book contains a guide telling these “employees how to collect taxes after a nuclear war.” Talk about being thorough. You might say that if they had the time, energy and ability to collect taxes after such an event, they deserved everything they got.
A factoid or two you might want to remember for the next family gathering:
John D. Rockefeller became the first billionaire in 1916; the first self-service food store opened in California in 1912, the same year the first crossword puzzle was published in the New York Journal; the first passenger meal served on a commercial airline happened in 1914 on a flight from Russia to Ukraine; and, in 1913, Georgia “Tiny” Broadwick became the first woman to make a parachute jump.
Fascinating stuff, right?
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