pandemic forces professional cuddlers to get creative

Christel Deskins

When Jean Franzblau, the founder of Cuddle Sanctuary in Los Angeles, first heard of a contagious virus spreading across the globe in March, she set stringent policies for all participants: wash your hands the moment you arrive to a cuddle; don’t come if you feel ill; if a client appears sick or is coughing, a cuddle session leader may send them home.

“We implemented that for two events, a Wednesday and a Saturday. And then we were closed,” said Franzblau, who won’t reopen until a vaccine is made widely available. “It was so quick: here’s our new protocol and then our protocol is we’re closed. It was very intense and very dramatic.”

Professional cuddle organizations like Cuddle Sanctuary aim to provide clients with a sense of calm and bliss, thanks in part to the anxiety-reducing hormone oxytocin which is released in response to positive, social touch, like a hug from

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The Next Pandemic Hobby To Sellout This Summer

Christel Deskins

Transportation appears to have entered a time warp this summer. Everywhere we turn, groups are rattling around the city on boneshakers like Victorian dandies at the turn of the century or traveling the country by RV like a 1950s-style family. And now we’ve got another set of wheels to add to this nostalgic list — eight of them, to be exact. Yes, we’re talking about roller skates. These wheeled booties (commonly associated with grainy images of 1970s SoCal) were recently catapulted back into the public consciousness by the hottest of all the social networks: TikTok. 

But, don’t call it a comeback. Seriously. Prior to the subculture’s moment in the social-media sun, a diverse and inclusive roller skating culture flourished on rinks and in skate parks for decades (exemplified by present-day skaters like Courtney Shove). Refinery29 even profiled the all-female Moxi Skate Team back in 2016 — which eventually gave rise

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Nasdaq Likely to Exceed 2019 Returns Amid Pandemic: 5 Picks

Christel Deskins

More than half of 2020 is already over with no major economic, financial, political or technological breakthrough. The global economic and financial landscape is rotating around a health hazard — coronavorus — and its economic devastations.

The U.S. and the global financial markets are in a downturn facing severe volatility. Despite the gloomy scenario, the Nasdaq Composite Index is up more than 20% year to date, much to the delight of market participants. In comparison, the S&P 500 has just managed to enter positive territory and the Dow is still in the red.    

Impressive Performance by Nasdaq Composite

Nasdaq Composite ended 2019 providing 35.2% return, its best performance in six years. The tech-laden index started 2020 from where it ended last year. Barring a cornavirus-induced short bear market, the index maintained its north bound trajectory.

On Jul 20, Nasdaq Composite ended at 10,767.09, its 28th closing high so far this

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Thematic Investing Makes Way Through the Pandemic: 5 Picks

Christel Deskins

People often use themes to organize ideas and make sense of the massive changes the world is undergoing. These themes are used in the financial market to adapt to new trends, emerging from geographical, political, environmental or technological changes.

At the beginning of this decade, the world was hit by a life-threatening disease that has led to drastic changes in human lifestyles and also the stock market. Investors have been focusing on a special bucket of stocks to play safe during the slump. Now, with economies reopening, investors are focusing more on building their portfolios around several investment themes to trade safely during the market volatility.

Top Themes to Look Out For

With new cases rising daily and no effective vaccine available yet, the coronavirus pandemic continues to aggravate and chances of a second wave are high. The current conditions demand highly-resilient investment options and strategies. Thematic investment helps investors

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4 Industry-Beating Restaurant Stocks to Buy Amid the Pandemic

Christel Deskins

The coronavirus pandemic has impacted the restaurant industry on a global scale, starting from job cuts to temporary shutdowns. Moreover, decline in traffic on account of the coronavirus-induced crisis has been hampering business.

However, with increased focus on off-premise business along with necessary changes in business model, the industry on a whole has shown some resilience. Moreover, restaurateurs are focusing on third-party delivery channels, digital innovation, mobile ordering, rollout of self-service kiosks and loyalty programs to drive growth during the current scenario. Despite the pandemic, it is worth noting that the Retail – Restaurants industry is currently at the top 26% (with the rank of 65) out of 251 Zacks industries.

Off-Premise Business Model a Driving Factor 

Although majority dining rooms have been reopened with safety protocols, dine-in restaurant revenues are still very low in comparison to the pre-pandemic levels. In such a scenario, restaurateurs are surviving by focusing more

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In Kashmir, military lockdown and pandemic combined are one giant deadly threat

Christel Deskins

<span class="caption">Kashmiri commuters at an Indian military checkpoint in the city of Srinagar, July 17, 2020. </span> <span class="attribution"><a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/an-indian-paramilitary-trooper-speaks-with-commuters-after-news-photo/1227662789?adppopup=true" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Tauseef Mustafa/AFP via Getty Images">Tauseef Mustafa/AFP via Getty Images</a></span>
Kashmiri commuters at an Indian military checkpoint in the city of Srinagar, July 17, 2020. Tauseef Mustafa/AFP via Getty Images

COVID-19 is taking a terrible toll worldwide. But in the Himalayan territory of Kashmir, it’s only the latest indignity in a 73-year cycle of oppression, militarization and scarcity.

At least, that’s what the minimal news from Kashmir indicates. The Indian part of Kashmir – which shares volatile borders with Pakistan and China – has been an information black hole since August 2019, when the government of Prime Minister Narendra Modi stripped the region of its autonomous status and split it in two territories to be directly governed by India.

To enforce this radical change, a military lockdown was imposed, which saw Indian soldiers using brutal and indiscriminate violence. As a result, Kashmiris had already been confined to their homes, fearful and isolated, for months before the coronavirus pandemic began ravaging

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How Online Poker Became My Pandemic Self-Care

Christel Deskins

Millions of people have lost their jobs during this period of economic downturn. I am one of them. If you’ve never been laid off before, it sucks. I spent the few hours after the Bad Conference Call in a state of numb shock, an inability to think concrete thoughts disturbed only by the occasional sense that that the past two years I’d spent at my job had been a waste. And so, with nothing to do and a whole lot of newly free time with which to do it, I decided to start playing online poker. Call it a self-flagellatory instinct: I’d just been brutally and arbitrarily punished by the free market, so it was high time to jump into a game that Danish economist Ole Bjerg refers to as a “parody of capitalism.”

I had never really played before, I’m bad at math, and the one skill I picked

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86-year-old therapist shares 5 tips to help seniors endure pandemic loneliness

Christel Deskins

The risk for the severe form of COVID-19 increases with age, so like many older adults, Katharine Esty spent many weeks this spring without leaving her home at all.

Esty, who turns 86 this week, knows all too well the toll such self-isolation can take on mental health. She’s still a practicing psychotherapist who helps patients cope with life — though the sessions are now by phone as the coronavirus outbreak grips the country.

Katharine Esty, is a social psychologist, practicing psychotherapist and an activist for aging well.
Katharine Esty, is a social psychologist, practicing psychotherapist and an activist for aging well.

Esty has stayed “amazingly healthy,” she said, in part because her busy schedule and the company of her live-in partner Peter, whom she met after her husband of 59 years died, made the quarantine easier.

“But there are lots of people who are alone and it’s been really hard… it’s just devastating,” Esty, who lives in a retirement community in Concord, Massachusetts,

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Trump team relaxed training rules for nursing home staff just as pandemic hit

Christel Deskins

Shortly after the first coronavirus outbreak ravaged a nursing home in Kirkland, Wash., the Trump administration moved to fulfill a longstanding industry goal — waiving the requirement that nurse’s aides receive 75 hours of training and allowing people who study only eight hours online to become caregivers during the pandemic.

The industry had been fighting for years to reduce training requirements, saying they make it harder to recruit staff. The day after the administration announced the change, the industry rolled out a free online training program for certifying the new role — called a “temporary nurse aide” — that has since been adopted by at least 19 states.

Now, after more than 55,000 nursing home residents and workers across the country have died from the coronavirus, advocates for older adults and families of residents say they fear the change was premature, and contributed to the spread of the disease. Nurse’s

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Bespoke Makers Employ New Strategies to Survive Pandemic

Christel Deskins

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Holding a fabric up to a camera is no substitute for an in-person meeting, but that’s one of the strategies bespoke makers are using to reach customers during the pandemic. They’ve also turned to Instagram and YouTube videos, videochats and even tutorials on how to take the most accurate measurements as they search for viable alternatives to communicate with customers in a virtual world.

In a webinar Tuesday morning hosted by the upscale fabric mill Thomas Mason and moderated by Simon Crompton of the British blog Permanent Style, a group of custom shirt- and suit-makers and retailers took on the topic of how the luxury men’s wear industry can adapt to a more digital future.

Luca Avitabile, owner of the custom shirtmaker based in Naples, Italy, said since his atelier was forced to close, he has been offering videochat appointments instead of in-person

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