Tuesday, January 12, 2021

New year, new work rules?

After the switch to remote work for many in 2020, the new year is an opportunity to refine the not-so-new daily routine. While lots of people enjoy new flexibility, research shows working from home also led to longer hours, so redefining work-life balance may be an aim in 2021. Saying no to video is another resolution for some people. Some say the work from home culture has given them a new appreciation for straightforward phone calls. Most successful resolutions involve minimal effort, experts advise – and in the WFH world, it could be as simple as getting dressed. (Financial Times)


A strategy to stop procrastinating

Procrastination is a struggle for many, but new research suggests it can be overcome with a few simple questions. Focusing on four “reflection points” each day can cut to the psychological root of procrastination to help eliminate distraction and get work done, according to a study led by researchers out of Griffith University in Queensland, Australia. They found that procrastination dropped significantly for people who reflected on these questions:

  • How would someone successful complete the goal?
  • How would you feel if you don’t do the required task?
  • What is the next immediate step you need to do?
  • If you could do one thing to achieve the goal on time, what would it be?



Pentagon moves forward with renaming of bases named after Confederate leaders

The Pentagon announced it is moving forward with plans to rename military bases named after Confederate leaders by appointing four members to lead the effort. Acting Defense Secretary has appointed a White House associate director, a White House liaison to the Defense Department, acting assistant secretary of defense for Legislative Affairs, and principal deputy general counsel for the Army. The four will serve on the ponderously-named Commission on the Naming of Items of the Department of Defense that Commemorate the Confederate States of America or Any Person Who Served Voluntarily with the Confederate States of America. The commission is mandated under a $740 billion defense policy bill that went into effect when Congress voted on New Year’s Day to override Trump’s veto. President Trump has argued in the past that stripping Confederate names from military bases means washing away history. Meanwhile, President-elect Biden supports removing the names. (The New York Post)


Who’s more stressed about money?

Despite coming from age-adjacent generations, Generation X is more worried about money than baby boomers. Studies and interviews with money experts suggest the younger generation, age 40 to 55, is feeling pinched as its members grapple with caregiving responsibilities, debt and job losses amid the pandemic. Next Avenue reports they’re generally “hurting much more than boomers” — roughly 42% of Gen Xers say they feel stressed about their finances compared to about 23% of boomers. (Market Watch)


Vaccinations show stark racial gaps

Minorities have been harder hit by the coronavirus, yet early data show COVID-19 vaccinations are going to more White patients. A recent study looked into vaccine data from six states and concluded that shots given to the Black population of these states lagged “far behind” those received by their white counterparts, with the starkest gap being in North Carolina. Some argue states must track vaccine allocation carefully to avoid worsening “the racial disparities already exacerbated by the pandemic.”  (Business Insider)


The jobs of the future

Caring for people and their pets as they age will fuel explosive growth in health care jobs in the coming decade, according to data from the Labor Department. The data show aging baby boomers will shift the economy toward health, wellness and elderly care. Fast-food service jobs and restaurant cooks are expected to bounce back, and software development roles should increase through 2029 as the tech industry continues to boom. High-skilled tech and professional jobs, temporary help workers and construction jobs increased in December, while hospitality and public sector jobs retreated. (The Wall Street Journal)


Man hospitalized after setting himself on fire while allegedly trying to burn down home

Tampa, Florida police say a 51-year-old man was hospitalized with serious injuries after burning himself while trying to set a home on fire early in the morning recently. Police say the man broke a window at a home. Then tried to throw a bucket full of accelerant into the home, but it ignited, exploded and set him on fire, according to the Tampa Police Department. Police say the residence was not set on fire and no occupants were injured. Canine units tried to find the man, but police say the trail was lost after he got into a vehicle and drive away. After the man’s description, including his injuries, was broadcast to all officers, an officer working extra duty at St. Joseph’s Hospital detained him when he showed up to the facility with obvious injuries. He was taken to the Tampa General Hospital burn unit and his vehicle was impounded. According to TPD, arson investigators are taking the lead to determine appropriate charges. The man remains in the hospital. (Fox 13)


A huge sinkhole, 66 feet deep and 21,500 square feet, opens in parking lot of Italian hospital, disrupting COVID-19 care

An Italian hospital remained on backup power recently, two days after a giant sinkhole opened in the parking lot and forced the closure of a residence for recovering COVID-19 patients. Though electricity and water services were interrupted, backup systems allowed care to continue at Naples’ Hospital of the Sea, and firefighters said it didn’t appear anyone was injured. The regional governor said the residence would reopen after utilities were fully restored. The 66-foot deep, 21,527-square-foot sinkhole consumed three cars in the hospital’s mostly empty visitors’ parking lot and also forced the relocation of six people who were recovering at the residence for COVID-19 patients. Sinkholes are most often natural occurrences, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. They can be dramatic or happen over time. They can also be “human-induced” through construction and groundwater pumping, the USGS says. Though a 66-foot deep sinkhole seems catastrophic, it’s only a fraction of the depth of the world’s largest above-ground sinkhole. That sinkhole is 2,100 feet deep, found in 1994 in a Chinese province. (USA Today)


‘No excessive barking’ signs at dog park draws mixed reviews

Frequent visitors of a downtown Winnipeg, Canada dog park weren’t wagging their tails when new signage told them to be quieter. During the pandemic, the city has seen an uptick in traffic at dog parks, and more dogs means more noise. Recently, Bonnycastle Dog Park in downtown Winnipeg has been the source of complaints from residents saying the noise is excessive. Residents say in the summer there was close to 40 or 50 dogs in the park at once, and noise was definitely an issue. Part one of the city’s Responsible Pet Ownership By-Law says to ensure that a dog does not bark or howl or otherwise unduly disturb the quiet of any individual. Officials said the signs weren’t installed to police dog owners, it’s about being mindful of how the barking impacts others in the area. They also say that excessive barking could also be threatening to other dogs in the park. (CTV)


WHO experts arriving Thursday for virus origins probe

Experts from the World Health Organization are due to arrive in China this week for a long-anticipated investigation into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic, the government said. The experts will arrive and meet with Chinese counterparts, the National Health Commission said in a one-sentence statement that gave no other details. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the experts would be traveling to the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first detected in late 2019. Negotiations for the visit have long been underway. WHO Director-General expressed disappointment last week over delays, saying that members of the international scientific team departing from their home countries had already started on their trip as part of an arrangement between the WHO and the Chinese government. (Associated Press)


Vancouver couple sues Mercedes-Benz over $160,000 car they’re too scared to drive

A Vancouver couple says they are afraid to get behind the wheel of their luxury vehicle after the dealer refused to repair a steering defect. The $160,000 Mercedes-Benz sedan has been parked for almost three years. “They insisted I can drive the car, but I’m afraid to,” said the owner. “I drive on the highway all the time and it could be life-threatening.” His wife bought the 2017 S550 new in the spring of 2017 and they drove it for over 4,000 miles. Less than a year after buying it, the steering wheel seized up while they were driving, but the Mercedes-Benz Richmond dealer allegedly said it could find nothing wrong. The court documents allege the dealer failed to adequately repair the vehicle. It has sat in their garage since April 2018. The car isn’t on a recall list in Canada, but the carmaker recalled a number of vehicles in the U.S. for steering problems, including S-class models built between 2015 and 2019, according to the cars.com website. The carmaker’s Richmond dealership suggested the couple continue to drive their car or to sell it. The man said he could do neither because he’s concerned about endangering their lives or the lives of the next buyers and possibly others on the road. His fight sent him to the manufacturer’s headquarters in Germany, where he was told the vehicle should be recalled and repaired. He said it was important to him to have the defect inspected and fixed, not only for his family’s safety but for the safety of other Mercedes-Benz drivers who may be facing a similar problem and not yet know it. (Vancouver Sun)


Firms suspend political donations

Major banks Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley, as well as hotel giant Marriott International, are among the U.S. corporations suspending political donations following the violent Capitol riots. That comes as some CEOs are now looking for ways to help ease President-elect Joe Biden’s transition. Shortly after Congress formally confirmed the election of Biden as the next president, President Trump released a statement saying there will be an “orderly transition.” (Bloomberg)


Airlines change service animal rules

United Airlines is joining American, Delta, JetBlue and Alaska Airlines in banning emotional support animals from flying for free starting this week. The policy changes come after the Transportation Department modified its rules to strictly define the function of a service animal as a dog “trained to do work or perform tasks for the benefit of a qualified individual with a disability.” Owners will need to submit paperwork for their dog before flying. Those whose pets don’t qualify as service dogs will still be able to bring them on as carry-on or in cargo, depending on the airline. (Travel & Leisure)


Tuesday Creeps In With:

  • Asarah B’Tevet
  • Curried Chicken Day
  • Hot Tea Day
  • Kiss A Ginger Day (Red Heads)
  • Marzipan Day
  • Pharmacist Day
  • Poetry at Work Day (2nd Tuesday)
  • Shop For Travel Day (2nd Tuesday)

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