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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Lands Apart

Seemingly isolated in their own world, most of the things never changed in Itbayat, Batan and Sabtang, the three main islands of Batanes, and its only over 15,000 inhabitants. This is one of the reasons why the Batanes Islands must be visited.

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PHOTOS BY GEORGE TAPAN, COURTESY OF THE DEPARTMENT OF TOURISM

Full of wonder wandering in Batanes Islands

Kuha lang, kuha lang (Just get what you can),” the old Ivatan woman said, wide smile baring tiny, almost mouse-like, yet perfect teeth that easily contrasted with her sun burnt skin, appearing like coconut flesh pressed against dried husks. Hands on hips while sweating profusely, the salty water of her skin cascading, as if like rivers, from her face to her neck before disappearing under the collar of her blouse, she signaled towards some baskets lining the road in front of her, many filled to the brim with crops still coated in dried mud, and fruits still attached to branches teeming with black ants.

Magkano (How much)?” I asked, face already voraciously pressed against a juicy kaimito (star apple), sucking the milky juices while eating the fibrous flesh, even more famished instead of feeling full with every bite. In between spitting seeds, I looked at her askance, trying to look cute for whatever it’s worth to get a fair price, though feeling the fruit’s juices escaping my mouth to embarrassingly flow down my chin.

Once again signaling towards the food on display, the old woman repeated, “Kuha lang, kuha lang.” Everything was for free.

Embarrassed, my companion offered her a bagful of choc chips, what was left of our food, thus our stopping by her place in the first place, which she took, immediately pocketing it in the wide mud-stained apron wrapped around her scrawny waist. Then, waving at us dismissively, she turned and walked away, heading towards a group of women braving the scorching heat of the sun to till the land, their only protection the vakul (cape) over their heads. Like the kanayi (vest), the headgear is made of combed dried voyavuy (palm leaves), normally used for protection from the pounding rain, though also used to protect them from the harmful rays of the sun.

It was a peculiar experience, this bartering, like harking back in the olden times, a scene straight out of old movies – a common occurrence, they say, locally, since people grow their own crops, with the extras displayed for those who may need them.

But this is Batanes, after all, the islands left by time. Fortunately.

ALREADY ELSEWHERE…

“At night you can even see the lights from Taiwan. Vice versa, the Taiwanese who visit us say that they can hear our roosters crow at daybreak,” a tourist guide provided me by the local government once told me, seated somewhere near the shores of Valugan Bay, at the foot of the 1,008-meter tall Iraya Volcano. “The tendency to exaggerate is there, of course, but you get the concept.”

“At night you can even see the lights from Taiwan. Vice versa, the Taiwanese who visit us say that they can hear our roosters crow at daybreak,” a tourist guide said – something ALMOST believable.

I nodded, didn’t know what to say, the landscape before me taking every word out of my mouth. We were overlooking the forested area of Mt. Iraya – a picture-perfect scene straight out of a postcard, I remembered thinking then – which is not far from the truth, though not a postcard of the Philippines. More like New Zealand in the fresh milk TV commercials. Or Texas in the Marlboro advertisements. Or anything else to this strain, though definitely not the Philippines.

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“We are closer to Taiwan than to mainland Luzon,” he added, his eyes squinting as he looked in the distance. “They’re that way,” he pointed at distant islands mostly covered in mists so they could be hardly made out, like the mythical Avalon coming and then going from view.

The Ivatans, of course, trace their roots to the Taiwanese immigrants who inter-married with the Spaniards who went to the islands in the 16th century – a combination most obvious in their peculiar dialect that is “pidgin Spanish, spoken with the rhythm of the Chinese language.” Seemingly isolated in their own world, most of the things never changed in Itbayat, Batan and Sabtang, the three main islands of Batanes, and its only over 15,000 inhabitants. In fact, fast forward to another time, when the sky was still amazingly clear, as if mocking the rain said to frequent the island to arrive, everything looked unreal, even surreal, though the distinction between the two is hard to find there. From the mountains seemingly trying to overlap each other, occasionally giving way to cascading bodies of water, at times hardly making any noise as they placidly flow though some suddenly merging with wild rivers that crush at everything on their way, to the largely untouched still lush forests, divided here and there by prairies, wild flowers swaying with the tall grasses when the wind blew, and then everything abruptly ends when the view is shortly cut by cliffs that plunge to the seas below. Nothing looked as foreign to me, especially knowing I was right at home.

Standing atop one of the hills of Payaman (a.k.a. Marlboro Country, supposedly because the area is said to be any rancher’s idea of a paradise), my companion started singing on top of his voice, without a care since no one else was around except for the horses running free, mingling with cows and some kalabaw (water buffalo) with their calves, that the hills are alive. And maybe they were, with memories as old as time, though are now exposed with the long-overdue interest in Batanes (and yet legally protected from abuse by virtue of Presidential Proclamation No. 335 (under former Pres. Fidel V. Ramos) that recognizes Batanes as a Protected Area).

Seated on a blanket, trying to enjoy the tough flesh of pating (shark) that still managed to look menacing even when already dead and wholly cooked, a feeling of dislocation came over me – like not knowing where one exactly is, though, in this case, I did know where I was: atop one of Batanes’ hills, enjoying the warmth of the sun as it kissed my naked torso, immediately tanning at its smallest provocations, while savoring the best that the place has to offer, peculiar food that are delectable ulam (viand) that add to the impression that one is elsewhere but locally located. And it never felt as good feeling lost.

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STILL IN THE PHILIPPINES…

Spanish architect, and former director of the Instituto Cervantes de Manila, Javier Galvan, once commented that, in his dealings with the country’s historical treasures, the Filipino architecture never fails to pique his interest because it is “quite unique as it is filled with various influences.” “(Reflecting this) in the same way, (I find) the Filipino culture as very interesting because it is filled with various influences,” Galvan said, stressing that it is the “blend” that helps define the uniqueness of the Filipino.

After all, the Philippines has long been criticized for not having its own cultural identity, that it is but a combination of various influences that aren’t its own. But an opposing perspective is the contention that this – the hodge-podge of influences – is the very definition of the Filipino culture. And, often, this point is driven home by the peculiarity of various local practices that combine the traditions and the influences, making up something that is not either of the two, but both at the same time. In this, Batanes is an ideal subject to study.

In Diura, a fishing village, the locals still gather before the men brave the seas to catch fish. They hold a katayan (slaughtering) of pig, and then check, even foretell, the luck for that trip by looking at the lamang loob (viscera). Considering that some fishing villages fish only enough for their consumption, with the catch also often communal, abundant catch to see them through is the ideal. And yet, despite the seeming animalistic ritual, come Sunday, many flock to the old Roman Catholic churches of Uyugan and Ivana, seeing no conflict in their ways of living, their beliefs now carved in stone as they were passed from generation to another, safely practiced without being doubted as if their validity was proven by time.

The churches, the latter built in 1791 while the former less than 100 years later, are ideal representations of Galvan’s perspective of potpourri Filipinism – perfection in the combination, the parts making up the whole. And yet, like the bahay na bato (stonehouses) still common in the area, they signify the undaunted spirit of the Ivatans, who, consistently beleaguered by the strong blowing of the winds, continue to make it through come hell or high water.

That there is a hodge-podge of influences in the Filipino culture may be true, and Batanes is an ideal subject to study on this.

A stone throw away is the improvised wharf, housing a gathering of bancas (dinghies) that don’t look like they are strong enough to go out in the sea, young men were flaunting what they caught, presumably while only going for a swim, mainly colorful fish that would have looked more comfy in well-kept aquariums that in a frying pan.

Masarap tingnan (Looks delicious),” I said to a young boy, getting off our vehicle as soon as I spotted him carrying some gigantic tatus (coconut crab), which abound in the islands, making it the major ingredient of some of Batanes’ famous delicacies. But when asked to sell, he giggled, hiding the scrawny and odd-looking tatus behind him.

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Limang piso (Five pesos),” he said, apparently joking. Like most, these weren’t for sale, but to be cooked for his family’s meal later.

A WORLD ON ITS OWN…

Once, I was hopping from one rock to another in Valugan (sand is a rarity at most beaches because the strong blowing of the wind pushes towards shore big boulders), when, seemingly out of nowhere, an old woman emerged, complete with a yuvok (crop container) tied around her neck, as if its weight didn’t bother her at all. She was an interesting sight as she, herself, hopped from one big rock to another, then stopped on the smaller ones to overturn them, picking up seashells hiding from under them to place them in her basket.

Ulam (viand),” she said, toothy grin directed at me, before she went back to overturning stones. It was almost lunchtime and here she was, still gathering what she will still be cooking for her family to eat, not in any hurry at all. But then, it crossed my mind, why would she when she was in Batanes, a part surviving detached from the whole, a world on its own in so many ways.

An acquaintance, asked what the most underrated tourist destination in the Philippines is, offhandedly said, “It would have to be Batanes.” And he could well be right.

Aboard a plane to head back to Metro Manila, the islands looked like giant green quilts from under us, sections of which were darker than the others, with the occasional spray of golden wildflowers, all closely knit by shrubs that form lines like divisions in a map. At the ends were cliffs, hiding caves, perhaps, like Chawa, said to be haunted by an engkanto (supernatural being) that shows herself to those she likes. Or giving way to beaches, at times sandy though more often rocky. Or enclosing villages where, for ages, and despite what they have been through, the people continued to live and even thrive, little worlds on their own, aware of the outside world yet surviving without its interference.

Just before the islands were completely hidden from view by the clouds as the plane continued its ascent, I had a quick last look of the islands from afar, seemingly as Wendy may have seen Never Never Land when Peter Pan first took her, John and Michael there. It was distant, as if unreachable – if not physically, at least a feel of it, as if it would rather be kept hidden, its many wonders would rather not be discovered. Having grown up fed with folkloric tales, Batanes could well be the island to visit to see the characters of tall tales of wonder – duwende (dwarf) running from boulder to boulder, avoiding detection, leprechauns dancing in the openness of the vast fields, sirena (mermaid) hiding behind giant boulders, and more. The place, definitely, was more than idyllic, a representation of things naturally beautiful when left untarnished.

This land lost and found thrived for long. It will for more, too. This is Batanes, after all, the islands left by time – only to be discovered over and over and over again, never ceasing to cast its spell on whoever does so.

The founder of Outrage Magazine, Michael David dela Cruz Tan is a graduate of Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies) of the University of Newcastle in New South Wales, Australia. Though he grew up in Mindanao (particularly Kidapawan and Cotabato City in Maguindanao), even attending Roman Catholic schools there, he "really, really came out in Sydney," he says, so that "I sort of know what it's like to be gay in a developing and a developed world". Mick can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (DUH!), shoot flicks, community organize, facilitate, lecture, research (with pioneering studies under his belt)... this one's a multi-tasker, who is even conversant in Filipino Sign Language (FSL). Among others, Mick received the Catholic Mass Media Awards (CMMA) in 2006 for Best Investigative Journalism. Cross his path is the dare (read: It won't be boring).

Travel

Why a used car could be perfect for a backpacker in Australia

If you are giving the matter some serious thought, let’s look at why a used car makes for an ideal solution for a backpacker in Australia.

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While backpacking around Australia is one of the best ways to see the country, sometimes it can be a bit difficult to sort out transportation. Ridesharing is an option, but it is not always feasible. When you are roughing it and living out of your backpack, you may also not always have the budget for plane flights and more luxurious travel options. 

For these reasons, investing in a used car can make a lot of sense for a backpacker in Australia. If you are a little light on funds, or if you want to use your savings for other purposes during your travels, you can easily find low rates when it comes to financing a used car loan

If you are giving the matter some serious thought, let’s look at why a used car makes for an ideal solution for a backpacker in Australia.

Freedom Of Movement

One of the biggest advantages of having access to a used car as a backpacker in search of adventure is the ability to move freely at your own pace. Used cars will allow you to move around the country where you want and when you want. This makes it ideal for spending more time seeing the things that intrigue you the most and to bypass the areas that are less interesting to you.

Conversely, relying on public transportation or even plane flights places you at the mercy of the schedules set by the companies involved. You are also likely to be more confined to larger urban centres where this type of infrastructure exists. Used cars, on the other hand, will provide you with the ability to venture into areas that are less commonly explored in the country.

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Fits With A Backpacking Budget

The great reason why buying a used car is good for a backpacker is that the price is usually just right for such a travel budget. While a new model may be out of reach for a traveller with a shoestring budget, a used car can be a prudent investment. After ensuring that the used car you are thinking of buying is in good working order and not in need of major repairs, you can be confident that the investment will provide you with affordable transportation for at least the duration of your trip.

Store Your Belongings

While a car is not always the safest place to store valuable possessions, it does represent a reasonable option for keeping your things secure. It can get tiring to constantly have to watch your backpack. Lockers are usually available at hostels and major transportation hubs, but these places are a hassle to travel back and forth to constantly.

When you have a used car at your disposal, you will be able to keep your belongings locked in the vehicle or even hidden from view in the trunk. This provides you with a more flexible means of keeping your possessions close by but does not require you to continually check in on them.

Split The Cost

Travelling with a used car also allows you to fill up the remaining spaces with fellow travellers. Beyond the benefits of meeting new people and making friends along the way, this will also allow you to cut down on the cost of fuel for your trip. By ridesharing with friends or even with trustworthy strangers, your travel budget will be able to take you further down the road.

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Used Car, New Adventures

For the reasons outlined here, consider making the investment in a used car as a backpacker. While it might seem like a bit of an investment, you will be pleasantly surprised at the many benefits that it can bring to your travel experience.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

The fears we can all face and how to overcome them

Figuring out what is causing you to feel fearful and then facing your fears is an excellent way to overcome them.

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Dealing with fear is something many people have to handle on a daily basis. Some people have such high intensity towards something they dear that it stops them doing it or causes them to feel anxious and stressed when faced with the situation. However, while it may not be something you completely get over, you can learn to deal with the fear itself. Or certainly get to a point where you are prepared to handle the situation.With that in mind, here are some of the common ways people can face their fears.

IMAGE SOURCE: PIXABAY.COM

Finding alternative ways to face the fear

Fear can manifest in many different ways, it may be that you develop anxiety because you have to go to the dentist. It could be that you that you fear career progression or you get anxious about anything to do with your finances. Figuring out what is causing you to feel fearful and then facing your fears is an excellent way to overcome them. You could also try alternative things to calm your nerves, such as twisted extracts, herbal remedies designed to calm you down or even therapy that can help you talk through the fears that you have and how best to combat them. 

Try and focus on other things instead of what you are afraid of

Let’s be honest, a real common fear for some people are bugs, insects, spiders and creepy crawlies. They aren’t exactly the most pleasant thing to be in the company of, and they can make your stress levels rise the moment you set eyes on them. Of course, you can try and rid your home of such things by using powerful bug sprays, repellents or gas bombs, there will always come a time where you will face it head on. Sometimes in situations like this, the best remedy is to focus on other things. Perhaps what you are doing at that moment, maybe focusing on how small they are, or just concentrating on your anxiety levels. Doing this can take the focus away from the fear and keep your mind occupied on something else. Focusing on other things can help in other scenarios such as your career, your home life and other factors that are causing you to feel fearful. 

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Be positive about the situation

I understand that it is easier said than done to be positive about things, but often this form of mindset can help you in all sorts of circumstances and dealing with something you are fearful of is one of them. A common fear might be the fear of heights, so going up tall buildings or getting on a plane may feel like the biggest challenge in the world. Positive thinking, such as remembering the feeling of liberation and exhilaration when you have faced a fear, can be a good way to feel you up with the right sort of emotion to face the fear. 

Let’s hope some of these tips help you to face your fears in the future. 

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

It’s 2020, time to teach teens ‘safe’ sexting

This is not about encouraging sexting behaviors, any more than sex education is about encouraging teens to have sex. It simply recognizes the reality that young people are sexually curious, and some will experiment with various behaviors with or without informed guidance, and sexting is no exception.

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Photo by Cristofer Jeschke from Unsplash.com

Preaching sexual abstinence to youth was popular for a number of decades, but research repeatedly found that such educational messages fell short in their intended goals. Simply telling youth not to have sex failed to delay the initiation of sex, prevent pregnancies, or stop the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases. Since the advent of photo- and video-sharing via phones, children have received similar fear-based messages to discourage sexting – the sending or receiving of sexually explicit or sexually suggestive images (photos or video) usually via mobile devices. Unfortunately, messages of sexting abstinence don’t seem to be reducing the prevalence of adolescents sharing nudes.

Consequently, in a new paper published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, researchers from Florida Atlantic University and the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, say that it is time to teach youth “safe” sexting.

“The truth is that adolescents have always experimented with their sexuality, and some are now doing so via sexting,” said Sameer Hinduja, Ph.D., co-author and a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice within FAU’s College for Design and Social Inquiry, and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center. “We need to move beyond abstinence-only, fear-based sexting education or, worse yet, no education at all. Instead, we should give students the knowledge they need to make informed decisions when being intimate with others, something even they acknowledge is needed.”

Hinduja and co-author Justin Patchin, Ph.D., a professor of criminal justice at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and co-director of the Cyberbullying Research Center, acknowledge that although participating in sexting is never 100 percent “safe” (just like engaging in sex), empowering youth with strategies to reduce possible resultant harm seems prudent.

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Hinduja and Patchin collected (unpublished) data in April 2019 from a national sample of nearly 5,000 youth between the ages of 12 and 17, and found that 14 percent had sent and 23 percent had received sexually explicit images. These figures represent an increase of 13 percent for sending and 22 percent for receiving from what they previously found in 2016.

The authors do want youth to understand that those who sext open themselves up to possible significant and long-term consequences, such as humiliation, extortion, victimization, school sanction, reputational damage, and even criminal charges. But they also want youth who are going to do it anyway to exercise wisdom and discretion to prevent avoidable fallout.

“This is not about encouraging sexting behaviors, any more than sex education is about encouraging teens to have sex,” said Hinduja. “It simply recognizes the reality that young people are sexually curious, and some will experiment with various behaviors with or without informed guidance, and sexting is no exception.”

Simply telling youth not to have sex failed to delay the initiation of sex, prevent pregnancies, or stop the spread of sexually-transmitted diseases.
Photo by Jack Sharp from Unsplash.com

Hinduja and Patchin provide suggested themes encapsulated in 10 specific, actionable messages that adults can share with adolescents in certain formal or informal contexts after weighing their developmental and sexual maturity.

  1. If someone sends you a sext, do not send it to — or show — anyone else. This could be considered nonconsensual sharing of pornography, and there are laws prohibiting it and which outline serious penalties (especially if the image portrays a minor).
  2. If you send someone a sext, make sure you know and fully trust them. “Catfishing”– where someone sets up a fictitious profile or pretends to be someone else to lure you into a fraudulent romantic relationship (and, often, to send sexts) — happens more often than you think. You can, of course, never really know if they will share it with others or post it online, but do not send photos or video to people you do not know well.
  3. Do not send images to someone who you are not certain would like to see it (make sure you receive textual consent that they are interested). Sending unsolicited explicit images to others could also lead to criminal charges.
  4. Consider boudoir pictures. Boudoir is a genre of photography that involves suggestion rather than explicitness. Instead of nudes, send photos that strategically cover the most private of private parts. They can still be intimate and flirty but lack the obvious nudity that could get you in trouble.
  5. Never include your face. Of course, this is so that images are not immediately identifiable as yours but also because certain social media sites have sophisticated facial recognition algorithms that automatically tag you in any pictures you would want to stay private.
  6. Make sure the images do not include tattoos, birthmarks, scars, or other features that could connect them to you. In addition, remove all jewelry before sharing. Also, consider your surroundings. Bedroom pictures could, for example, include wall art or furniture that others recognize.
  7. Turn your device’s location services off for all of your social media apps, make sure your photos are not automatically tagged with your location or username, and delete any meta-data digitally attached to the image.
  8. If you are being pressured or threatened to send nude photos, collect evidence when possible. Having digital evidence (such as screenshots of text messages) of any maliciousness or threats of sextortion will help law enforcement in their investigation and prosecution (if necessary) and social media sites in their flagging and deletion of accounts.
  9. Use apps that provide the capability for sent images to be automatically and securely deleted after a certain amount of time. You can never guarantee that a screenshot was not taken, nor that another device was not used to capture the image without you being notified, but using specialized apps can decrease the chance of distribution.
  10. Be sure to promptly delete any explicit photos or videos from your device. This applies to images you take of yourself and images received from someone else. Having images stored on your device increases the likelihood that someone — a parent, the police, a hacker — will find them. Possessing nude images of minors may have criminal implications. In 2015, for example, a North Carolina teen was charged with possessing child pornography, although the image on his phone was of himself.
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Health & Wellness

Having less sex linked to earlier menopause

Women who reported engaging in sexual activity weekly were 28% less likely to have experienced menopause at any given age than women who engaged in sexual activity less than monthly.

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Photo by Joe deSousa from Unsplash.com

Women who engage in sexual activity weekly or monthly have a lower risk of entering menopause early relative to those who report having some form of sex less than monthly, according to a new UCL study.

The researchers observed that women, who reported engaging in sexual activity weekly, were 28% less likely to have experienced menopause at any given age than women who engaged in sexual activity less than monthly. Sexual activity includes sexual intercourse, oral sex, sexual touching and caressing or self-stimulation.

The research, published in Royal Society Open Science, is based on data from the USA’s Study of Women’s Health Across the Nation (SWAN). It’s the largest, most diverse and most representative longitudinal cohort study available to research aspects of the menopause transition.

First author on the study, PhD candidate Megan Arnot (UCL Anthropology), said: “The findings of our study suggest that if a woman is not having sex, and there is no chance of pregnancy, then the body ‘chooses’ not to invest in ovulation, as it would be pointless. There may be a biological energetic trade-off between investing energy into ovulation and investing elsewhere, such as keeping active by looking after grandchildren.

“The idea that women cease fertility in order to invest more time in their family is known as the Grandmother Hypothesis, which predicts that the menopause originally evolved in humans to reduce reproductive conflict between different generations of females, and allow women to increase their inclusive fitness through investing in their grandchildren.”

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During ovulation, the woman’s immune function is impaired, making the body more susceptible to disease. Given a pregnancy is unlikely due to a lack of sexual activity, then it would not be beneficial to allocate energy to a costly process, especially if there is the option to invest resources into existing kin.

The research is based on data collected from 2,936 women, recruited as the baseline cohort for the SWAN study in 1996/1997.

The mean age at first interview was 45 years old. Non-Hispanic Caucasian women were most represented in the sample (48%), and the majority of women were educated to above a high school level. On average they had two children, were mostly married or in a relationship (78%), and living with their partner (68%).

The women were asked to respond to several questions, including whether they had engaged in sex with their partner in the past six months, the frequency of sex including whether they engaged in sexual intercourse, oral sex, sexual touching or caressing in the last six months and whether they had engaged in self-stimulation in the past six months. The most frequent pattern of sexual activity was weekly (64%).

None of the women had yet entered menopause, but 46% were in early peri-menopause (starting to experience menopause symptoms, such as changes in period cycle and hot flashes) and 54% were pre-menopausal (having regular cycles and showing no symptoms of peri-menopause or menopause).

Interviews were carried out over a ten-year follow-up period, during which 1,324 (45%) of the 2,936 women experienced a natural menopause at an average age of 52.

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By modelling the relationship between sexual frequency and the age of natural menopause, women of any age who had sex weekly had a hazard ratio of 0.72, whereas women of any age who had sex monthly had a hazard ratio of 0.81.

This provided a likelihood whereby women of any age who had sex weekly were 28% less likely to experience the menopause compared to those who had sex less than monthly. Likewise, those who had sex monthly were 19% less likely to experience menopause at any given age compared to those who had sex less than monthly.

The researchers controlled for characteristics including oestrogen level, education, BMI, race, smoking habits, age at first occurrence of menstruation, age at first interview and overall health.

The study also tested whether living with a male partner affected menopause as a proxy to test whether exposure to male pheromones delayed menopause. The researchers found no correlation, regardless of whether the male was present in the household or not. Last author, Professor Ruth Mace (UCL Anthropology), added: “The menopause is, of course, an inevitability for women, and there is no behavioural intervention that will prevent reproductive cessation. Nonetheless, these results are an initial indication that menopause timing may be adaptive in response to the likelihood of becoming pregnant.”

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

Factors to consider in hiring a personal injury lawyer

If you don’t trust a lawyer from the get-go, then it’s most likely that they are not the right people to represent your case. With your gut feeling and the above tips, finding the best personal injury will be a walk in the park.

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Hiring a personal injury lawyer is one of the most important decisions you can make after being involved in an automobile accident, workplace-related injury, a slip-and-fall, or an animal bite. When choosing a lawyer, you want to make sure that they’ll have your best interests at heart and that they’ll work diligently while using a proactive approach to investigate all the facts in your case. With so many law firms tightly concentrated within major cities, it can be an uphill task to find the right lawyer to work with. 

To help you out and make the process less daunting for you, below are factors you need to consider in hiring a personal injury lawyer.

Reputation

It’s very important that when looking for a personal injury lawyer, you consider getting a lawyer with a solid reputation. If it’s your first time hiring a personal injury lawyer, consider asking for referrals from past clients and looking at some reviews on their website as well as from other online sources and asking around from friends or family members. You want to work with a lawyer who garners respect from their peers, judges, insurance companies, and clients alike. One thing to note is that the quality of services offered by a lawyer will be determined by how exceptional they are in their line of work. Personal injury lawyers who have a good reputation will have distinct characteristics such as competence, commitment to quality, accountability, and loyalty, to mention but a few.

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Experience

An experienced personal injury lawyer will be able to analyze your case and provide you with reliable insights and counsel that will be beneficial in your case. Before hiring a personal injury lawyer, it’s imperative to ensure that they have enough experience in handling your case. Personal injury cases are complex and in addition to this, they are very demanding. For this reason and more, it’s also important to ask all the right questions when determining your prospective lawyer’s experience. Ask them whether they’ve taken on similar cases in the past and how successful they were. Additionally, you also want to take their focus on practice into account since personal injury law is broad with various subcategories. For instance, medical malpractice laws are different from those that involve animal bites and work-related injuries. Your personal injury lawyer should, therefore, have a lot of experience specializing in the particular area of personal injury law your case falls under. Additionally, it’s also important that the lawyer in question has trial experiences. You don’t want your lawyer to use your case to refine their skills. They need to know what they are doing and have the acumen it takes to find you the best settlement.

Cost

Before hiring a personal injury lawyer, it’s important to consider how much they charge for their services. Some personal injury lawyers charge a specific fee to their clients depending on the services rendered. On the other hand, you have a personal injury lawyer who works on a contingency basis, which means that you’ll only pay them if they win your case. These lawyers come highly recommended because they are highly motivated and you can expect them to work on your case in the best possible way.

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Personality

Before you select a particular injury lawyer, it’s important to ensure that the two of you get along. Their overall personality should be likable and they also need to be people you can get comfortable with. Consider hiring a lawyer who’ll be willing to take your calls whenever you need them; one who will not blow you off whenever you need help. Avoid lawyers who are out looking for a quick fix in your case so that they can move to the next client. Lawyers with the best attributes have good communication skills and will deliver the best services.

Credentials

The best personal injury lawyers will be willing to show you their certifications and other credentials. Actually, these are among the first things you will see hanging on their walls. A fancy office and sleek suits are not enough to represent your case in a court of law. A personal injury lawyer needs to have the lawyer qualifications it takes to represent your case. This includes holding a practice license in addition to pre-law and law school certifications. They should have passed the bar exam to continue to hold their practice license.

Finally, it’s important that you also trust your gut feeling. While it’s a good idea to ask around and talk to referees, you should always trust your gut feeling when making the final decision. If you don’t trust a lawyer from the get-go, then it’s most likely that they are not the right people to represent your case. With your gut feeling and the above tips, finding the best personal injury will be a walk in the park.

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LIFESTYLE & CULTURE

How does foreign exchange market work?

If you haven’t heard of Forex trading before, you might be wondering how the foreign exchange market works.

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The foreign exchange market or Forex trading operates through online brokerages. These brokerages, trade international currencies and operate comparably to stock market exchanges. The foreign exchange market offers a large amount of liquidity compared to the stock market and this attracts some investors to this form of trading.

If you haven’t heard of Forex trading before, you might be wondering how the foreign exchange market works.

The Basics – Baby Steps

Foreign exchange markets are essentially markets that operate the same way that stock market exchanges do, but they are traded in international foreign currencies. Geopolitical circumstances can make currency values fluctuate, so you’ll want to pay attention to the news and global ongoings. The online currency is generally traded on online platforms or through online brokerages which may charge commission rates/fixed fees. Foreign currency exchanges may carry a higher amount of risk than national stock trading, but this volatility may be something to be taken advantage of.

With a Forex broker, you’re able to set up automatic transactions or have them alert you when currencies hit a certain value. Foreign currency exchange can be confusing, so set up with a platform that offers a demo account that will allow you to trade “dummy” money to get a feel for the markets.

Getting Started On A Platform

Many platforms will only require you to invest an initial amount of 100$ or less in order to start trading. As mentioned previously, you will likely want to find a platform that offers a demo option so you can learn the ropes without losing any money. You can track how other traders are trading via a platform, and investigate the historical value of different currencies. The professionals from forextrading-online.com mention that you should also seek a Forex broker who is searching for clientele who also meet your demographic. Investing a large sum of money into a trading exchange you’re just getting into maybe too risky if you don’t want to lose your investment.

If you haven’t heard of Forex trading before, you might be wondering how the foreign exchange market works.

Never Stop Learning

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Research an excessive amount about what currencies you should be investing in prior to involving yourself in trade. Always keep up with the news regarding the currencies that you’re trading in, and attempt to develop a personal strategy. Pay attention to previous changes in the currency market and its history to see if you think any event will have a major impact on value.

The great thing about the foreign exchange market is that you’re able to buy and sell quickly due to the large volume found on the market. Once you develop a consistent and profitable flow, there’s no real reason to divert from these strategies. Gauge your win and loss percentage and ensure you’re staying above a profitable amount. If not, reassess and review where you should make your next move. You do not necessarily need to generate a profit every trade that you may, but you want your overall rates of trades to represent “wins”.

What You Need To Know

You’ll also want to look into your local regulation regarding profits made from the foreign exchange market. Just like the stock market exchange, there are taxes associated with Forex trading. Speak to a taxation lawyer if you’re worried about what taxes you’ll be expected to pay.

Also, don’t just settle on any Forex trading platform, do some shopping around. Find a platform with commission rates you find tolerable, and initial fees that won’t put too much of a dent into your finances. If you’re using this on a regular basis, you won’t want to feel like it’s a headache when you’re trading currencies. You might want to keep in mind some trading platforms may charge you an inactivity fee with use, so cancel any accounts with platforms you don’t think you’ll continue to use in the future.

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As you can see, there’s a lot of information to take in when it comes to the foreign exchange market. You won’t learn everything all at once, but if you keep researching you’ll get a handle of the ins and outs of Forex trading. Remember the initial costs of utilizing a Forex trading platform through a broker and ensure you review your investment goals prior to placing money into your online account. Trialing demo trading on platforms is really going to help you get a grasp on how to adjust to Forex trading. Make sure you’re constantly researching and learning in order to develop a better understanding at all times and be aware of taxation laws within your region. After some time and strategy enhancement, you’ll develop a better understanding of how foreign exchange markets operate.

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