simpson2

Covid B.1.617

Singapore was making great progress with the COVID-19 pandemic, after emerging from a difficult lockdown or "circuit breaker" in the middle of 2020. Since then, the authorities have been gradually relaxing the measures to allow large gathering sizes, and more intermingling. 

Most of us would end up being complacent.

This is what has happened (very quickly) over the past few weeks. Clusters started to form one after another, from a hospital to the airport, then to a tuition centre to schools. The government was quick to act, and imposed a Phase Two (Heightened Alert) to try to curb the community cases. 

I watched the 9pm news and the current tally of community cases has risen to over 38 counts, which set a new high since the 40 locally transmitted infected reported almost a year ago in April. 

The culprit (besides complacency of the state and the citizens) is the coronavirus variant B.1.617 which was first detected in India. This variant has created turmoil in India, but has also quickly spread beyond India to Singapore and several other countries. 

This B.1.617 variant apparently contains two key mutations to the other spike of the virus itself which can then be attached to human cells, which enables the virus to spread more easily. Because many vaccinated individuals also contracted the virus, there is a possibility that this virus is also more resistance to the current vaccines. 

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Happy Hari Raya Puasa Aidilfitri

13th May happens to be a Hari Raya Puasa, or also commonly known as Hari Raya Aidilfitri, or Eid al-Fitr, as a key holiday and celebration of the Muslim faith. In Singapore, where people from various races and religion come together, we have come to be very tolerant of one another's faith and beliefs. Even though I do not personally celebrate Hari Raya Puasa, I know that it marks the end of the month-long holy month Ramadan, where the Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Ramadan is also the time for them to offer apologies for any wrongdoings which they might have started over the past year, while giving thanks for acts of kindness.

On this day, the Muslims will also visit the mosques for special prayers before visiting friends and relatives for great food and catching up. Due to the rise in COVID-19 community cases, the government of Singapore has limited gatherings to be 5 persons or less. This might have dampened the mood of Hari Raya Puasa, but safety always comes first, especially the cases has risen up to over twenty community counts, which has not been the case for a long, long time.

So, as my Muslim friends don the baju kurung and visit friends and relatives, I wish them a great Eid, and hope for better days ahead, especially with the pandemic for Singapore as well as for the rest of the world.

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Going Plant-Based

I never really thought I would go on a plant-based diet. I have a few friends who are vegetarian. When I met them for a meal, I was usually happy to choose a vegetarian food venue, or opt for a neutral setting, where there were enough plant-based options. Definitely not a steakhouse nor a churrascaria (!) I did enjoy eating meat and having a great wagyu steak. And I did muse to myself that it was so difficult to be vegetarian that I would never attempt to do that. 

So what made me turn plant-based? 

I believe there were several reasons.

Health

Over the years, I have read enough literature extolling the benefits of going plant-based. As such a diet is low in saturated fat, cholesterol-free, rich in fiber and full of antioxidants, they help to lower the risks of heart diseases and hypertension, amongst others. 

One interesting study I read was how a plant-based diet could help reduce diabetes risk by a whopping 23%. In terms of cancer, the phytochemicals from plants and vegetables can help lower cancer rates. 

After my annual health check in February, I realised that my LDL cholesterol crept up a little. It's above the optimal level but lower than what I would term the "danger zone". Nevertheless, this was one of the impetus to get me to eat more healthily.

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Tigger and Yuki

I've two cats. Tigger is my male Oriental Shorthair cat at 8 years of age. He's very adorable, and usually follows me around like a dog. He sleeps on a little pillow right beside the pillow that I sleep on my bed, and he's been doing this for the past 8 years. 

Yuki, is the sister of Tigger. She's a 7-year old Khao Manee, and has a nice white coat and lovely greenish-yellow eyes. She's a little more edgy than Tigger and is generally more aloof except when she's expecting her chicken-tune breakfast.

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Mother's Day

With the restrictions coming in place, I thought it would be great to just drop by at Mom's salon and then spend a simple evening with her. Over the past few months, there has been movement of the tenant mix around her salon. The empty units were gradually occupied again. The KZX massage unfortunately closed, and was taken over by a partnership between HW and the owner of the maid agency on level four. They decided to start a "drinking place", which was kind of apt for my mom since she's seen as the "big sister" for the area, especially with her sociable personality.

In fact, mom has been putting this small round table with a few chairs right outside her salon, as a meeting point for her and her friends. When I visit her, I would hang out with her at this table over red wine, and then it would become a nice spot for us to catch up. 

So this evening, I surprised her with a smart watch as a Mother's Day gift. I reckoned that while she's never really wore a watch before, a smart watch would be useful for her to track her steps, monitor her sleep as well as to measure her heart rate (and of course, the smart watch can be a nifty gadget in notifying her incoming messages while she's busy with a customer's hairdo). 

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The Pitcher Plant

I have been staying in my current apartment for about twenty months already. At the thirty-sixth level, it enjoys great ventilation from the constant breeze from the south. There's also plenty of sunshine; the living room balcony faces the west, while my bedroom faces the South.

At such a high floor, I would expect no insects to be lurking around. Unfortunately, there's a minor insect issue in my bathroom. Due to the accumulation of water from the shower area into the drain pipe, I do see tiny drain flies for whatever they are called) flying out from the drain cover every morning when I am having my warm shower. 

Initially, I left them alone, thinking that they were harmless. They proved to be harmless as expected. Life went on. Then one evening, I looked up at the corner of my bathroom ceiling and found a family of more than 10 drain flies staking their sovereignty in the tiny universe of my bathroom. I was perturbed. I pried open the drain cover and sprayed as much insecticide as it was possible, then covered the floor trap to prevent any insects from escaping. I believed there were many casualties from my actions. The drain fly population decreased for a short while. A week passed, and then they were back. This time round, they occupied three corners of the ceiling, as if they were trying to mock me.

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A Complete Quantum of the Seas Experience

Since the last Royal Caribbean Cruise trip ended abruptly with a COVID scare, I was determined to use the cruise credits for another trip before the Quantum of the Seas sails away (I heard the next ship is a smaller vessel). 

As we were already familiar with the cruise ship, we cleared the immigration checkpoints fairly swiftly and after dropping off our stuff in the cabins, we went up to the open-air deck. M and I got ourselves the beverage plan (what's a trip without beverages?!) and I immediately got myself my first tipple. 

In fact, over the course of the next three nights, I would have consumed the following (in the right sequence):

Aperol spritz

Pimps Cup

Ultimate Mai Tai 

Glenridell 

Cabernet Sauvignon

Malbec

Moscato

Bionic Tea (yucky drink)

Mojito

Riesling

Riesling

Cuba Libre

Mango Daiquiri

Campari Orange

Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet Sauvignon

Mimosa

Prosecco

Prosecco

Frozen Margarita

Appletini

Watermelon Rum

Negroni

Negroni

Prosecco

Prosecco

Prosecco

Negroni

So all in all I had a total of 28 drinks (!) over the course of a few days. I was eager to try a variety of drinks, but I didn't really enjoy the sweeter ones. Ultimately I was happy with the prosecco, and I could do with just a good Negroni. The worst drink was the Bionic Tea, which was a bad mix of Blue Curacao and Tequila and some sugar syrup. 

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What's with the blogging or journaling again?

Actually, this journaling initiative was related to my social media detox. Since eons ago, I have stopped posting on Facebook (never really liked the format). While I have been posting regularly on Instagram, I did not like the idea of "likes" and "follows". The mechanism of posting for likes and follows tend to steer me away from a few things: 

Authenticity — Sometimes, I just want to post about my cats. Or my workout. Or a nice sunset. But I do get influenced by the likes that each post gather, or the number of follows that I get over time. And then I end up not posting what I might have wanted to post. 

Depth — I do lament about the good ol' days of journaling on Livejournal. Those days, we spent more time using words to express our thoughts and feelings. Somewhat, this gave a bit more depth to who we were and what we felt, as opposed to the fleeting, transient nature of stories or even Tiktok videos. Sure, watching some dance moves can be entertaining, but nothing beats reading a heartfelt post penned by another fellow (virtual) friend. 

Personality — The world of Instagram, etc. is visual. The best-looking person gets the most likes and follows. While this is not necessarily a bad thing, it does not facilitate connection on a deeper level. How much can we really know someone from a photo? 

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Switching to Samsung S21 Ultra

So today, I managed to be the first in line to get the brand new Galaxy S21 Ultra. I have been using my Huawei P30 Pro for almost 2 years already. I reckoned that I could get this brand new device slightly earlier, and then come 30th April, I'll try to switch from the rather expensive Singtel plan and then switch over to either the Circles life plan or the TPG 8OGB plan.

The Circles Life plan is usually $18 for a 50GB plan, but it has limited outgoing call minutes. The TPG plan gives 80GB for only $18 and it is also rather Generous with free incoming and 300 outgoing minutes.

I don't really use much bandwidth, but I would not turn down more free bandwidth for that matter.

Here is a photo taken using the night mode. I think the Huawei P30 Pro camera is better, but let me take a few days to learn all the tricks to use these cameras of the 21 Ultra better. 

The text recognition of any handwriting is near flawless, btw!

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Last Sunday of April

Sunday is the usual. I woke up earlier than usual today (body clock?)... after perusing the news channels on Flipboard, I decided to get myself up to feed the cats, then I got changed to head to Penhas. For once, I was earlier than A and waited downstairs for him.
Today marks the last weekend for April. Weekends are always important as we get a large bulk of customers over the weekends. If there are new customers, we will need to take time explain the processes and procedures to them. Also, there are also other areas to focus on, such as planning for the marketing activities for the month of May. May, being Mother's Day, would be our key focus area.

Work ended at 6pm, and we headed over to Ritz Carlton's The Colony for a sumptuous buffet dinner - also to celebrate Marcus' Birthday. In my opinion, The Colony has one of the best buffets in Singapore, so I was happy with the decision, and I skipped lunch for it!

All in all, it was a great dinner outing. We had great food, great company, and ended up spending almost four hours at the restaurant!