IKEA Releases Instructions for 6 Kinds of Forts You can Build at Home

With many of us being stuck at home since March, some are channeling their inner creativity to make time spent at home worthwhile. 

We’ve seen a rise in baking, cooking and also the much weirder trends such as the dalgona coffee craze; if you find yourself getting short of ideas for yourself and the kids, fear no more, as IKEA has released a new campaign with instructions on how to build 6 different types of furniture forts.

We loved them as kids, so there isn’t a reason to why furniture forts shouldn’t make a comeback this year, especially during quarantine year. 

These designs were created by an ad agency called instinct and they consist of detailed instructions on how to build castles, forts or any furniture forts your imagination can conjure up of.

1) Cave

One of the simplest designs here, this fort requires only a chair, a sheet or blanket and some some sort of heavy object to hold it down to the floor. Lights are optional too if you want some light while reading in your own fort.

2) Camping tent

If you’ve watched the Conjuring 2, you’d recognize this as the home of the “crooked man”. Safe to say, IKEA’s version of it is less scary and contains no “crooked man” of any sorts. Using a clothing rack and some pins, this fort allows for infinite head space.

3) House

As mentioned in its name, here’s where things can get real as the forts now get sturdier. All you need is a table and some sheets or blankets.

4) Wigwam

Here’s where things get creative as you would only need a light stand and of course some sheets. Optional lights too can be added for that aesthetic or ambience that you are looking for.

5) Fortress

We’ve all seen this one, heck, we might’ve even built one of this before. The most simplest of forts, you would only need couch cushions with a sheet over the top and you’re all set.

6) Castle

The best of them all, this fort requires four chairs and some kind of stand in the middle to give it the iconic castle pointed roof.

Italian Baker Who Fed Neighbourhood During Covid-19 Pandemic Dies

When the coronavirus hit, the north of Italy saw an economic crash and also hardship among many; in a time where many would ponder on where to get their next meal from, Gianni Bernardinello, an Italian baker, saw this as an opportunity to provide.

Outside his shop in Milan’s Chinatown, Bernardinello would leave baskets full of bread, pizza and sweets for anybody who needs it.

A sign above the basket would read “to give a hand to those in need, help yourself and think of others too”.

After leaving out the baked goods and goodies, he would then immediately disappear as he didn’t want to embarrass anyone he might kno who would be waiting in line for the hand out.

“He said he was putting out leftovers at night but I also saw him putting out fresh bread in the middle of the day,” Alessandra De Luca, 56, a client and a friend said, “He was really worried.”

Unfortunately, Bernardinello died on Nov. 9 due to Covid-19 at a hospital in Milan, his daughter, Samuela Bernardinello, said. He was 76.

Before falling in, he would be at his bakery everyday even though his daughters begged him to stay at home.

“Between these walls there wasn’t a day in 130 years that they stopped making bread,” he used to say, “even under the bombings in 1943.”

Bernardinello was born in 1943 December 22nd in Montù Becaria near Milan. He started working at 12 as a goldsmith apprentice and then later on in life as a fashion photographer and starting a yarn business. A crisis in the 1980s led him to wanting to sell a “product that the people always need,” he told his daughters.

He bought Macchi Bakery in 1989 and never looked back, learning the art of bread making as the years went.

The bakery today is renamed “Berni”, Bernadinello’s nickname, and is a meeting place in the neighborhood where locals would stop by for coffee or listen to Berni talk about drones that he built or jazz festivals.

Scotland Becomes 1st Country to Make Period Products Free

Scotland has recently made history by being the first country in the world to provide free and universal access to period products, a move that has shifted the public discussion around menstruation.

After four years of campaigning, The Period Products (Free Provision) (Scotland) Act passed unanimously on Tuesday and will officially place a legal note on all local authorities to make period products available for all who need them, amplifying on the work done by councils like North Ayrshire which has been doing so since 2018.

Monica Lennon

Spearheaded by Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman, Monica Lennon, she told the Guardian in an interview that this was “a proud day for Scotland”.

“This will make a massive difference to the lives of women and girls and everyone who menstruates.” Lennon said.

“There has already been great progress at a community level and through local authorities in giving everyone the chance of period dignity.

“There has been a massive change in the way that periods are discussed in public life. 

“A few years ago there had never been an open discussion of menstruation in the Holyrood chamber and now it is mainstream. 

“MSPs have enjoyed being a part of that, and it has encompassed the menopause, endometriosis, as well as the types of products we use and their sustainability.”

The scheme would cost an estimated £8.7m a year and the legislation will require schools, colleges and universities to provides the products for free which was announced by first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, in 2017.

In the meantime, a number of individual business such as restaurants, pubs and even football clubs – started providing free products independently which has made common for women in Scotland to walk into a women’s toilet and find free period products by the sinks, or with an honesty box.

“It’s an important message in the middle of a global pandemic that we can still put the rights of women and girls high up the political agenda.” said Lennon.

Finding it Hard to Focus When Working from Home? You’re Not Alone

What may seem like a comfortable task at first is turning out to be trickier then thought as the effects of Covid-19 is slowly beginning to unearth itself, especially in terms of our work.

 Experts say that the extra anxiety that we are feeling due to the pandemic has harmed our working memory, this only adds on to the mental health triggers that we are facing. 

We’ve all been there, walking to your workplace on a mission to complete any tasks for the day, but then quite literally stop midway and completely forgetting about why you’re there in the first place.

Study by the University of Notre Dame studied on the subject and found out that the brain is only built to hold so much information at once, a change in location works like a trigger to forgo data in order to make space for more.

1) Soft focus

businessman working in office with film colors tone, soft-focus in the background. over light

“Think of it as the mental platform for our cognitive operations, for what we’re thinking now,” says Matti Laine, a professor of psychology at Åbo Akademi University in Finland. “Working memory is closely related to attention. You’re focusing on some task, some goal, some directive or behaviour you want to get accomplished.”

In order words, it is the ability to reason in real time situations, and it’s also essential to what makes the brain the most powerful tool in the human body. However, research has shown that a rapid change in environment, worry and anxiety can all have an impact on that.

2) Rapidly changing circumstances

Studies before the pandemic saw a trend of negative relationship between anxiety and working memory; “We saw a trend of a negative relationship between anxiety and working memory. The higher the anxiety, the lower the working memory performance.”, says Laine.

“We’re talking about anxiety and stress that’s not acute,

“It’s related to a deeply uncertain future. You don’t know – does it continue this summer, this autumn? Nobody knows. It’s leading us to a more chronic anxiety situation.”

Even if you are not aware about what’s at stake, you’re processing it all the time which adds to the cognitive load your brain is having beyond its capacity.

Well, the good news is that you can improve your deteriorating memory.

3) Brain workouts

There are lots on “brain games” out there, but experts agree that it doesn’t actually do anything then to make you better at that game or as one research put it “Cognitive training games don’t make me better at remembering my shopping list, that’s like trying to train people to play tennis by having them run”.

There is one specific type of training exercise though that seems to show some promise. The N-back task, similar to a classic concentration game requires players to find pairs of matching cards, but, instead of pairs, there is only one object that moves around the grid-style board. Players have to remember the object’s position through a certain number of turns – 1-back, 2-back, and so on.

Its impact on working memory remains up in the air but a few rounds would definitely help with the tension . After all, it’s the anxiety that is the root of the problem.

4) Reboot

Therapists sometimes use the term “things aren’t as bad as they think they are”, but it may be controversial to say the least especially during this time. 

So, one other way is to rebooting your memory by cutting down on news consumption and considering a much needed break from social media; the most important thing of all, convince yourself that it is completely okay to be struggling and there’s nothing wrong with not being to be 100% for work when we’re still in the midst of a pandemic.

Malaysian Group on a Mission to Teach Refugee Women to Read and Write

(AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

Seated on the floor in the room are a few students, notably women, who are reciting the alphabet; but these aren’t ordinary students, they are refugee women in Malaysia and they are learning to read and write in both Malay and English for the first time.

Conducted weekly at a rather gloomy room outside Kuala Lumpur, classes are led by the Women for Refugees group. The group was formed in September by two law students who wanted to empower them to be more than the portrayable wife by helping with their literacy and also with their integration into the local community.

“I don’t know even know my ABCs, but now I am learning,” Zaleha Abdul, 54, a Muslim Rohingya refugee, said in an interview with the Associated Press, as she struggled to remember the alphabet during a class last month. She said she wants to be more independent when going shopping or anywhere else.

Many refugee women, Zaleha among them, have picked up the local language but are still only confined to surroundings that they are familiar with as they don’t know how to read or write.

Arissa Jemaima Ikram Ismail, was a volunteer with a relief agency at first in Selayang and aimed to help to uplift women in this community. 

She and fellow law student Davina Devarajaan then met with the women who to their surprise, wanted to learn English and Malay. Arissa also said that education if often viewed as a low priority for refugee women.

Women for Refugees was then formed and they proceeded to recruit teachers via Instagram. Having about 20 volunteers now, the group is offering two-hour literacy classes in both English and Malay in a two-story block that has up to 50 families.

“It was very essential for us to not pitch the refugee women as a charity, where they are constantly requiring external aid,” Arissa said. “We want to equip them with the necessary skills so that they can sustain themselves … and contribute back to the community.”

Although open to all migrant women, majority of the students are from Myanmar and Indonesia. Davina hopes to expand to other neighbourhoods in the future and also to include technical skills that could lead to more opportunities for an income.

She also added that teaching still goes on with pre-recorded lessons due to the country’s coronavirus crisis; they were being viewed on three shared laptops while live classes were still being conducted once a week for older migrant children.

As the pandemic subsides, she would also “love to integrate more volunteers … to actually come and teach them and have this very community-based integration between” the women and the locals, whom many view migrants as a burden on the country’s resources and healthcare system.

Arisssa’s group may not be the first that is offering literacy course, but it is the only few that does this while focusing on women. Almost 178,000 refugees and asylum seekers are registered with the United Nations High Commission of Refugees, and many of them are left out educationally.

Shahidah Salamatulah, 38, was among three women at that time learning how to communicate in English when needing to seek treatment at a medical clinic. 

Shahidah, a Muslim from Myanmar and a mother of two, was preparing for a new life abroad. She was called for interviews three times last year by the UNHCR on possible resettlements, but the coronavirus pandemic has put all that to an unscheduled and timely halt.

“English is important for us … when we go overseas we will need English,” she told the Associated Press.

“Take Care of Yourselves” Covid-19 Patient Writes Goodbye Note From Hospital Deathbed

As Covid-19 continues to take a toll on the country, it has unfortunately taken the life of a father who had to say his last goodbye to his family through a hand-written letter.

The 325th person to have died due to the virus, 58-year-old Ahmad Bin Ahmad Taib reportedly died from Covid-19 on the 19th of November 2020 alone and separate from his loved ones at the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital (HRPB) in Ipoh, Perak.

Before succumbing to the disease, Ahmad scribbled his final words on a piece of paper that was dedicated to his wife and children; he had asked for forgiveness and also to request for the family to take good care of themselves.

“Please pray, continue praying slat hajat (special prayers). Forgive me, take care of yourselves” the note showed.

The image of a healthcare worker holding the note was shared by his daughter, 32-year-old Syafiqa Humairak on Facebook.

“This is the final note from Abah before he was put to sleep last Monday. I cried everytime” Syafiqa wrote in the Facebook post.

Shfiqa also told reporters that the family was not allowed to keep the note as it may be contaminated with the virus. She added that her father who had been treated for Covid-19 when in quarantine, was unable to talk and wrote the note before being sedated.

Although, the family managed one last video call before he was finally put to sleep.

Syafiqa has since urged the public to not take the virus lightly and to abide the Covid-19 guidelines.

“I was the only one who could attend the funeral. It is sad because I couldn’t kiss him for the last time. I could only watch him from afar.” she said.

“Covid-19 is no joke and no one is immune. It only took a week for the virus to kill my father. 

“I hope people will take this virus seriously and observe all the safety measures set by the Health Ministry.”

Ahmad has since been laid to rest at the Jalan Bendahara Muslim Cemetery in Ipoh, Perak

KL’s Future, The City’s Upcoming Skyscrapers and Developments

Kuala Lumpur, an iconic and an ever growing city in Southeast Asia; although the size, it’s not even among the top 10 biggest cities in the world, but it surely tops the list for most buildings over 100 meters.

Out of the five buildings over 400 meters in the region, Kuala Lumpur is home to at least four of them. All these only adds to the extravagant skyline that attracts not only locals to visit it often but also photographers near and far to capture that perfect portrait of the city.

Safe to say, development for the city is in no way halted as many projects are either in the talks or is going on underway to make it that much more vibrant and livelier, here are a few of them.

1) Merdeka 118

Built to resemble the iconic Tunku Abdul Rahman when he lifted his right hand up to declare Malaysia’s independence in 1957, the rumored to be named Merdeka 118 stands at 118 stories and 644 meters. The project is located at Jalan Hang Jebat, next to the historical Merdeka Stadium, Stadium Negara, and the Merdeka MRT station on the Sungai Buloh-Kajang Line opened in 2017. A drive-by the site today would also allow you see glance at what could possibly be after it’s done.

2) Tradewinds Square

Announced in 2011, the project is located on the site of the former Crowne Plaza Mutiara Hotel and Kompleks Antarabangsa near the Raja Chulan monorail station. It will be 775 meters tall with 150 floors, towering that of the nearby Petronas Twin Towers. Demolitions of old buildings have gone ahead but the site remains much empty as of today and it is possible that the final version being not as high.

3) 8 Conlay

The ongoing development features 3 towers on a retail center just under its floors. The 68 story tower will be home to Kempsinky Hotel and Hotel Residences while the two residential towers will be YOO8 serviced by Kempsinki. When it finishes, the project will have the world’s tallest spiraled twin residential towers, similar to a larger version of Dancing House in Prague.

4) Plaza Rakyat

Considered as a sleeping project, much of its work began in the 90s and remains stalled ever since the 1997 Asian financial crisis hit. It remains today as a blighted abandoned site while there have been regular echoes and announcements of an impending revival.

5) Bandar Malaysia

A transit-oriented development at the former Sungai Besi Airport, the site of it will be a terminal for the Singapore – Kuala Lumpur high-speed railway developed by 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB). As we know the mayhem 1MDB is facing, the project is rightfully being delayed as investigations go on and on.

6) M101 Skywheel

Part of the Kampong Bharu City Centre Complex, ths 317 metre high building is topped with an observation wheel between two smaller towers. It will include residential apartments, a hotel, retail, and of course that observation wheel; definitely not a design you expect to see up in the skies.

7) IBN Bukit Bintang

At 325 metres, this 68 storey tower will include serviced apartments and a 5-star hotel. Upon completion, it will also be among the five tallest buildings in Kuala Lumpur and be located at the site of the former Hotel Fortuna.

8) KL Metropolis

A city within a city, this commerce, living and transport hub will be over 75.5 acres and be one the region’s largest expo and convention centres that includes residences, hotels, shops and offices.

Black Seed Oil, Carpets, Apple Cider Vinegar, Among the Many Things that People are Buying During MCO

We’re months into living with Covid-19 and we’ve been spending most of it social distancing and staying at home. 

In the first few weeks, of the movement control order (MCO) we saw a surge of panic buyers sweeping what they can off the shelves while the government tries to call for a calm after quite literally making a storm.

As we’ve seen lockdowns be a major part of 2020, it ponders us though as to what Malaysians are buying during a time where many are staying safe at home.

According to commerce.asia, latex gloves saw a rise during a time where health was a major concern among many, 888% rise to be exact and shampoo too at 3255. Lady’s underwear had a whopping 909% increase in sales too along with frying pans and woks at 880%.

Baking and cooking at home sure became quick hobbies picked up by many as ingredients such as gelatin powder seeing a 347% increase, salt at 250% and apple cider vinegar at 200%.

With many finding new ways to spend time at home, exercise equipment too quickly became a popular item among buyers, going up to 200% in sales. Baby products also gained popularity most likely because nothing is worse than a distraught baby to deal with while you’re trying to work from home; babies blanket clothing had a 266% increase and 83% increase respectively.

A couple of unusual items too top it all off, house carpets at 156%, toothpaste at 134% and libido enhancers at 104%. 

The Pandemic May Be Bad, But You Don’t Have to Panic About It

1000 new daily cases, 2 deaths today, four figure cases for four days in a row, these are the examples of the many headlines we come across during the Covid-19 pandemic.

It’s as if the whole world is talking about the coronavirus and the internet only adds on to all those that you hear about our current situation. On top of that, we’re pretty sure your Mom has been texting you non-stop about what she got from WhatsApp groups about the virus.

If you panicked each time the daily new cases are released, chances are you’re not alone as the entire nation is doing the same as you. 

It’s only human of us to go through these emotions as our knowledge of coronavirus unfold and have these signs of panic:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Anger, anxiety, worry and panic.
  • Being overly sensitive about your health and body.
  • Feelings of helplessness. 
  • Fear of people who are coughing or appear sick.
  • Social withdrawal.

Thankfully, much like every other major global catastrophe, there are ways to calm down and manage your much anxious mind.

1) Understand the facts

It’s important to stay up to date to the latest news, but the latest news can just be harmful if it isn’t true. Be careful and be cautious when reading news from the internet, from messaging platforms and especially from comments and articles that are being shared around social media.

2) Give yourself a break

Even if you need to stay informed, that doesn’t mean to scroll the news 24/7 as it’s important to focus on what you as a person can control on instead. Take a break from refreshing the news and move on to other parts of social media instead such as memes or even cat videos on YouTube, literally anything that can keep your mind off things for a bit.

3) Self-awareness

Know what has potential harm and what doesn’t as not everything you do or everyone you come in contact to is a possible exposure to Covid-19. You can do what you can with preventing getting infected, but not everyone who coughs has the virus do they? Focus on what you can do instead and be self-aware.

4) Try to keep things normal

It can be tricky especially with majority of us having to work from home and quite literally social distance until the eventual end of this, but some sort of daily schedule as if things were normal is essential to make you and people around you feel safe. Follow your usual schedule to sleep, meals and other activities that can boost your mood. You can even take a walk around your neighborhood as good air outside the house is always a good idea.

Why Is the Weather Lately Hot then Rain then Hot then Rain…

Unless if you’re all cozied up in an air-conditioned room for the past few weeks, you’d notice of the ever-changing weather scene in Malaysia lately.

It’s weird isn’t it? One minute it’s scorching hot and the other minute it’s pouring rain, it doesn’t even stop there as this process all just repeats itself multiple times in a single afternoon.

Even though Malaysia is well-known for hot weather, the intense heat we’re experiencing now is abnormal and due to climate change.

Like us, we too are wondering what in the world is taking place and the luckily, experts have the answers to our questions.

The Migrating Monsoon 

Malaysia experiences the Northeast monsoon season every year from November to March where the South China Sea wind brings heavy rain to us. However, the monsoon migrates in this period and causes different weather behavior at different points in time throughout the season.

Prof Fredolin Tangang, Chairman of Department of Earth Sciences and Environment at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia says in The Rakyat Post that “the monsoon actually migrates south from southern Vietnam in early November to Java, Indonesia around January”; around mid-November to mid-December, the moisture is transported from South China Sea and released over Peninsular Malaysia.

As Peninsular Malaysia has minimal rainfall and high incoming solar radiation (insolation), the air temperature is usually increased too, hence, the somewhat unbearable heat at times.

Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO)

Malaysia experiences a weather disturbance known as Madden-Julian Oscillation (MJO) once every 20 to 60 days. Simply think of it as a moving ball of clouds, rain, wind and pressure that crosses the equatorial region of the earth eastwards.

Fredolin explains that the MJO grows as it travels from the Indian Ocean to the Pacific Ocean. It also has two phases, enhanced rainfall that hits Malaysia in December and suppressed rainfall during the third week of December where there is lesser clouds around the Peninsular and the weather is dry.

Eastward clouds head into Malaysia during mid-January and fills the gap left behind by Northeast monsoon clouds and brings rain again; Malaysia goes back to having dry weather after all these is over.

Why does it rain even when it’s hot?

According to Dr Renard Siew, climate change advisor to the Centre for Governance and Political Studies (Cent-GPS), the reason is climate crisis.

“We will continue to experience both warmer temperatures and stronger storms and rainfall throughout the year in Asia Pacific due to changes in jet streams -fast flowing, narrow, meandering air currents in the atmosphere.” he said for The Rakyat Post.

When jet streams that typically help keep cool air near the poles and warm air near tropics swing out, it creates a dramatic bend and can carry pockets of warm air up north and cool air down south.