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The boredom pandemic

Bill Fox

Bill Fox

By Bill Fox/Columnist

I often wonder how everyone is doing right now.  How are you coping?  One can only watch so much TV.  You soon realize that Netflix has only a limited number of movies.  A friend who’s a doctor suggested we watch the news only twice a day at most.

I know when we first went into isolation; I watched the news probably five to six hours a day. I believe presently that boredom is at an all time high. However, there is a vaccine against boredom and it’s called, “Learning something new.”

As a silly example, I am so frustrated with trying to buy good blueberry muffins. They are too much like cake, or they crumble too easily and have only a few blueberries. Finally, this morning I decided to try baking again. I found a great recipe for blueberry muffins and will make some today. My dearly departed dad enjoyed making fantastic shortbread when he retired. It is time for me to follow that family tradition.

The future will indeed be better when you are better. So here are some suggestions to end that boredom.

-How about reading a book you have always meant to read. You can even find some online.

-You can learn an instrument you have always wanted to master. Again there are free lessons online.

-How about mastering another language. Now is an ideal time to learn Canada’s other official language.

-You might want to research other cultures. Perhaps in your family background you had ancestors from other countries you never really explored. The more we appreciate and learn about other countries, perhaps the more we will all benefit and get along.

-If you are interested in history, now is a great time to research certain time periods, from ancient history, to the Great Depression, to the last time the Toronto Maple Leafs won the Stanley Cup – and yes, I was at the last four Stanley cup parades. I’m very old and some would say ancient.

-You may wish to research other topics you have always been interested in – things like astronomy, psychology, spirituality, nature, etc. There are now terrific online resources, as well as TV channels dedicated to nature, etc.

-Today is a great opportunity to learn a new skill. One of my daughter-in-laws just made a beautiful herb garden on her balcony by using parts of a wooden pallet or skid and painting and decorating it.

-You may have always wanted to explore art. I know several friends that like to paint or draw or even colour, which is thought to be a soothing pastime.

-There are lots of websites which teach us how to dance, become better public speakers, etc. If you go to the Second City website, you may fulfill your ambition to be a stand up comic, or improv. artist.

-Now might be a really good time to explore yoga, or other different exercises.

-I was astounded to learn about Nicola Tesla, from readings and also online documentaries. What historical figures would you like to learn about?

-They say bicycles are making a comeback. But in parts of Europe they never lost their appeal.

Finally, to get you started I thought I would reproduce my dad’s famous scotch shortbread recipe. Something you and your children or grandchildren could make in 30 minutes and enjoy for weeks to come.

You will need one lb. of butter, one cup of icing sugar, one teaspoon of salt and four cups of all-purpose flour. How simple is that?

Cream butter until smooth, gradually adding sugar and salt. Beat in the flour. Form into one-inch balls. Place on an ungreased baking sheet. Flatten slightly with a fork. Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes, reducing heat to 325 and baking for another 10 minutes then reducing to 300 for 10 more minutes or until edges are slightly brown. Makes four dozen. (For a change you may use brown sugar instead of icing sugar for a crispier texture). You may also indent the centre of the shortbread with your thumb and add nuts or cherries or blueberries. Store in an airtight container, tin or baggy. Of course you can always experiment with this recipe and add your own touch.

Let me know how your cure to boredom works. I’m busy in the kitchen at