Saturday, April 4, 2020

Luxury Quarantine

Inside a Le Bijou apartment in Switzerland.

Le Bijou, a luxury Swiss hotel brand, has set up “quarantine apartments” which include in-room health services, such as coronavirus testing. 

A stay in one of these apartments ranges from $800 to $2,000 per night. 

Facilities include food delivery and a personal chef, as well as a private gym, in-room spa treatments and a home office. In addition to Covid-19 testing, which costs $500, guests can also pay for other coronavirus health services such as twice-daily nurse visits for $1,800 and an around-the-clock nurse for $4,800 a day. 

Le Bijou introduced the quarantine service after their CEO, Alexander Hübner, noticed fewer of the typical three-night bookings and more reservations for 14 days or more. When asked why guests were extending their stays, many said they were specifically booking the apartment for quarantine. 

He then decided to adapt its traditional services to make the apartments fully automated, including extending its digital services to include a virtual butler called James, thus removing the need for human contact at check-in and check-out. 

Note: The Swiss government has kept hotels open.

I guess if one can afford it, it may be worth getting sick leh.

And how sick is Switzerland? 

The country has the sixth highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Europe.

Friday, April 3, 2020

More of Angelina Jordan

More of Angelina Jordan. 

The 7-year-old precocious singing talent auditioned for Norway’s Got Talent by performing Billie Holiday’s "Gloomy Sunday":

She also sang Frank Sinatra’s "I’m a Fool to Want You":

Her semi-final number was Cher’s Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)”:

And on May 23, 2014, 8-year-old Jordan sang a George Gershwin composition "Summertime" to emerge triumphant at Norway's Got Talent:

I’ve also included her rendition of Dinah Washington’s "What a Difference a Day Make" as a 10-year-old:

Angelina Jordan: Child prodigy and singer talent extraordinaire!

One Million Confirmed Covid-19 Cases

Almost everywhere in the world, Covid-19 is having a deleterious impact on populations. More than 3.9 billion people, or half of the world's population, have now been asked or ordered to stay at home by their governments to prevent the spread of the deadly pathogen. 

And another grim milestone is recorded – we have now gone beyond one million cases globally. Half of this number are in Europe and nearly 25 percent are in the US, although the real number of infections could be a lot higher.

The US accounts for the most cases; Italy the highest death toll. 

And yesterday, the death toll in Spain passed 10,000, as the hard-hit country reported its highest number of deaths in a single day since the outbreak began. 

In Belgium and Germany, the fatalities crossed over the 1,000-death mark – and joined the Netherlands who achieved this dubious distinction on Tuesday. 

My country, Malaysia reported 208 new coronavirus cases, taking the total to 3,116, the highest in Southeast Asia – although in terms of active cases, we are in second position after the Philippines: 

WHO had said on Thursday that based on available data, the number of coronavirus cases in Malaysia is expected to peak in mid-April. And that there are signs of a flattening of the infection curve in the country.

I really hope they are right.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

900,000 Confirmed Covid-19 Cases

The confirmed number of Covid-19 cases worldwide has now gone passed 900,000.

In the United States, the numbers have surpassed 200,000 cases yesterday. And I just saw that todate, more than 5,000 have died – of which twenty percent are from the state of New York. 

Bloomberg News, citing White House sources, reported on Wednesday that US intelligence officials believe China has undereported both the number of cases and deaths from Covid-19. The extent of the understatement was not disclosed. 

If the Americans don’t have hard evidence to support this “belief”, I wish they would cease and desist from spewing misinformation.

Yesterday too, Spain had already reached 100,000 coronavirus cases and Singapore topped 1,000 confirmed infections.

Meanwhile, Malaysia’s Health Ministry Director-General opined that the Covid-19 curve is flattening. 

According to MIER’s projection, Malaysia would have 4,087 new Covid-19 cases by March 31, with an increase of 200 to 399 new cases per day. 

However, Malaysia has only recorded 2,766 Covid-19 cases as of March 31, a difference of 1,321 cases compared to MIER’s projection. On average, the daily number of new cases is about 100 to 150 in Malaysia since March 23, with an unusual spike of 235 on March 26. 

“The next two weeks are crucial. It will decide whether or not the government’s MCO has produced the intended impact”, Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (left) said.

Let's hope he is right because I'm dying from the stay-at-home syndrome.

Angelina Jordan

I first came across Angelina Jordan (left) when I spotted her on an AGT: The Champions episode on YouTube. (This was during the Covid-19 stay-at-home period, you understand and life moves at a snail’s pace). 

She sang an Elton John song, "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" – and I perked up. I savored her voice and I absolutely loved it. Check her out here:
Of course, she progressed to the next stage and she did a remarkable interpretation of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. (I was livid she did not win in the Final – never mind, as far as I am concerned, she's a winner).

And when I googled her, I discovered that she was just 7-years-old when she won Norway’s Got Talent in 2014. 

She has done more than 130 covers and in addition to the two above, I have picked another 3 which make it to my playlist.

Lana Del Rey’s “Born to Die” (2011):

Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “I Put a Spell on You” (1968):
I tell you, her version is as good as the other versions whether from Annie Lennox and/or Nina Simone and there are those who would venture to say it’s better than even the original!

Aretha Franklin’s “A Natural Woman” (1967):
Angelina Jordan: Simply awesome!

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Amazon Make Tons of Money at Workers' Expense

In the US of A, as the coronavirus outbreak escalates, many people have hunkered down in their homes and are turning to online marketplaces like Amazon to get essentials delivered to their door. 

While physical stores run out of stock and cities are on lockdown, Amazon’s warehouse workers, delivery drivers and contract employees have been praised for their fearlessness in continuing to go to work during a crisis. 

Amazon have proudly called their employees “heroes fighting for their communities” and CEO Jeff Bezos (left) boasted his workers’ efforts were “being noticed at the highest levels of government”, whatever that implies. 

But these employees are not stupid – they know better. And they definitely don’t view their jobs with the same rose-colored optimism. 

CNBC were told by at least a dozen Amazon workers that they’re terrified to go to work during the pandemic, while others have expressed frustration over how their employer has responded to the threat of the coronavirus at their workplaces. (Many of the workers asked to remain anonymous so as not to “upset” their employer). 

There is this CNBC report published March 26 that there are at least 10 facilities in the US that have workers who have tested positive for the virus, and they all remain open. 

″(The facilities) do feel unsafe”, one worker in Kentucky said. “Our building typically has 400 [people] or so per night shift. That’s a lot of people in a single building”. 

It seems that at some places, essential supplies like hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes are rationed or there’s none available, leaving workers at risk. 

Amazon even issued a letter for their drivers to show to police officers if they get pulled over for being on the road. The letter, dated March 23 and viewed by CNBC, says that the driver is “an employee of a supplier that provides vital services for Amazon, an essential business” and is “allowing members of the community to remain at home and reduce the risk of Covid-19 exposure and transmission, including the elderly and vulnerable persons”. 

Not only that but workers say they’ve become paranoid that managers aren’t being honest about whether employees are sick with the virus, so that they can keep the facilities open and the goods flowing to shoppers around the country who need them. 

A serious dilemma is brewing at Amazon: Go to work and risk getting sick or stay home and find themselves unable to pay their bills. 

This is clearly, unfettered capitalism. Jeff Bezos is making $8,961,187 per hour but refusing to provide paid sick leave for all his employees! Shame on Amazon! Shame on Bezos!

The danger is very real because the death toll in the US has now passed China's official count with more than 3,500 Covid-19 fatalities – the former accounts for 1 in 10 deaths worldwide – and many more deaths are anticipated.

The New York Times’ Shane Goldmacher was at Donald Trump’s White House briefing where numbers were given for predicted deaths in the country! And he tweeted this today: “This White House briefing room slide lists as “goals” 100,000 to 240,000 deaths. Breathtaking”: 

Wow, 'deaths' have become an objective!

Of course, Trump being Trump, he cannot resist adding that there will be “light at the end of the tunnel”. We are going to see things get better “all of a sudden” like a “burst of light”!

Trump, America's No. 1 fool, whom you can always count on to give you fake optimism and false hope.

Thank You, Toastmasters!

I’m grateful for the fortuity to chance upon Toastmasters and they helped me to kick start my adventure in public speaking. 

‘Tis an adventure because over 11 years and 9 months (or 4,292 days to be exact), I have learned so much and I have achieved so much. And yes, I've made many, many speeches too because that is what public speaking is all about.

In fact, I presented a grand total of 880 project speeches from 109 manuals. It's no mean feat because I’ve been a Toastmaster since July 01, 2008 – and if you do your sums, on average, I did one speech every 4.88 days.

Undeniably, my Toastmasters output has been extraordinary. I shouldn't be surprised because I invested a lot of time, money and energy in order to amass a meritorious collection of 132 Toastmasters awards in Communication and Leadership: 

Truly, I can be proud of my accomplishments:

Of course, I would not have been able to achieve all of the above – if not for Toastmasters everywhere who kindly gave me speaking opportunities and meeting roles – but more than that, they offer me their friendships. Thank you, Toastmasters! 

My parting words to aspiring Toastmasters shall consist of just 5 words. Toastmasters is all about DCP. 

“Diligence, Commitment, Passion”.

Finally, my love affair with Toastmasters is at an end. Farewell, Toastmasters!