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6 Minute English
What's on your to-do list?
EPISODE 190307 / 07 MAR 2019
Pay bills, clean the house... these are boring tasks we all have to do regularly even if we don't feel like it. They're part of what we call 'life admin'. Neil and Rob discuss what could make life admin tasks more interesting and teach you related vocabulary.
This week's question
The website Hotels.com commissioned some research about how much time young adults – that's millennials - spend doing life admin. Do you know what proportion of their free time they spend doing life admin tasks? Is it…
a) a quarter of a day
b) a third of a day
c) half a day?
Listen to the programme to find out the answer.
a chore a boring, ordinary task you do regularly
admin short for 'administration' – the activities and tasks you have to do to make a business, organisation or just your life, run smoothly
aka also known as
utility company a company that supplies something such as electricity, gas, or water to the public
procrastinate delay doing things until later, probably because you don't want to do them
super-doers an informal term to describe people who get satisfaction out of doing life admin and do lots of it
Note: This is not a word for word transcript
Neil Hello and welcome to 6 Minute English, I'm Neil. And joining me it's Rob.
Neil Now Rob, would you say you're someone who is quite organised?
Rob I'd like to think so.
Neil What's the best way to organise everything?
Rob You need a 'to-do' list – a list of all the jobs you need to do that you can work your way through.
Neil That's a good idea and something we can include in today's discussion about life admin. Admin is short for administration – that describes the activities and tasks you have to do to make a business or organisation run smoothly – but life admin is administration you have to do to make your day-to-day life run smoothly – like doing housework, or paying a bill. And the first thing on my 'to-do' list is to ask you and the listeners, a question.
Rob Yes, you wouldn't want to forget that.
Neil So, the website Hotels.com commissioned some research about how much time young adults – that's millennials - spend doing life admin. Do you know what proportion of their free time they spend doing life admin tasks? Is it…
a) a quarter of a day
b) a third of a day
c) half a day?
Rob Based on my personal experience, I would say about a quarter of a day.
Neil Well, we'll see if you're the same as other people at the end of the programme. But as we all know, life admin is necessary but it can be a bit of a chore – a boring, ordinary task you do regularly.
Rob Experts have studied the subject and looked at how we do it and how we can make it less boring. One of them is Elizabeth Emens, Professor of Law at Columbia University and author of The Art of Life Admin.
Neil She's been speaking to the BBC Radio 4 programme, Woman's Hour, and described what she thought life admin is…
Elizabeth Emens, Professor of Law at Columbia University Life admin is the office work of life, it's the invisible layer of work that is the kind of thing that managers and secretaries, aka admins, do for pay in the office but that everyone does in their own lives for free.
Rob She calls life admin the invisible layer of work – so it's work, tasks or chores we carry out that people don't notice we're doing – or don't realise we have to do them it's extra work in our life.
Neil And we don't get paid for it – unless we're at work when it is the role of someone to do it – such as secretaries or aka admins – aka is short for 'also known as' – so secretaries might also be known as admins – that is short for people who do administration.
Rob Right, so we know life admin is boring and we don't get paid for it – and also, trying to renew your house insurance or trying to query a bill with a utility company can be frustrating and feels like a waste of time. A utility company by the way, is one that supplies something such as electricity, gas, or water to the public.
Neil My problem is I never get round to doing my life admin – there are better things to do – so you could say I procrastinate – I delay doing things until later, probably because I don't want to do them.
Rob You are what Elizabeth classifies as an 'admin avoider'. So this is where my to-do list comes in handy Neil. You have a written record of tasks that can be quite satisfying to cross off as you do them. But this is something Elizabeth Emens has found to work, at least for some people. Let's hear from her again. What type of people did she find get most satisfaction from completing a to-do list?
Elizabeth Emens, Professor of Law at Columbia University If you've ever made a list and put things on it you've already done, just to cross them out, then you know the kind of 'done it' pleasure that goes with that. But actually I interviewed people, especially the super-doers that I interviewed, actually can find real pleasure in the actual doing of it - so trying to understand how we can get to that when we have to do it - how we can make it so that there is some meaning in it and some texture and there're ways of doing it that please us.
Neil So she was describing the super-doers – these are the people who love admin and would spend an evening putting their book collection into alphabetical order!
Rob Elizabeth mentioned that we should learn from the super-doers and get some 'done it' pleasure in doing our life admin. We need to find a meaning for doing it – in other words, what is represents – so we can see the benefit of completing our to-do list.
Neil How we find pleasure from doing life admin is different for different people – so personally, I think I'll stick with being an 'admin avoider' – but that might explain why I just got charged extra for not paying my credit card bill on time!
Rob Well, please don't avoid giving us the answer to the quiz question you asked us earlier.
Neil Yes. Earlier I asked, researchers, commissioned by Hotels.com, polled 2,000 young professionals about their lives. How much of their free time do they spend doing life admin? Is it…
a) quarter of a day
b) a third of a day
c) half a day?
Rob And I said a) a quarter of a day.
Neil Yes, they spend a quarter of their days carrying out tasks like doctor’s appointments, waiting in for packages to be delivered and doing household chores. Boring!
Rob Unlike this programme Neil, which is not a chore – one of the words we discussed today.
Neil Yes, our vocabulary today included chore - a boring, ordinary task you do regularly.
Rob We also mentioned admin, short for administration – the activities and tasks you have to do make a business, organisation or just your life, run smoothly.
Neil We heard aka – meaning 'also known as' – so for example, Rob aka The master of 6 Minute English!
Rob Thanks very much Neil. Next we heard utility company. That's a company that supplies something such as electricity, gas, or water to the public. And we also heard how Neil likes to procrastinate – that's delay doing things until later, probably because he doesn't want to do them.
Neil Finally, we mentioned super-doers – an informal term to describe people who get satisfaction out of doing life admin and do lots of it.
Rob Like me.
Neil Well, it's time to go now but there's plenty more to discover on our website at bbclearningenglish.com. Goodbye for now.
Rob Bye bye.
Senate approves $2.2 trillion coronavirus bill aimed at slowing economic free fall
How the proposed coronavirus bill compares to government spending and revenue in 2019
By The Washington Post · Erica Werner, Mike DeBonis, Paul Kane · NATIONAL, BUSINESS, POLITICS
WASHINGTON - The Senate unanimously passed a $2.2 trillion emergency relief bill Wednesday night aimed at limiting the financial trauma that the coronavirus pandemic is inflicting on the United States, and lawmakers acted with unusual speed to produce the largest economic rescue package in the nation's history.
The sprawling legislation, which passed 96-0, would send checks to more than 150 million American households, set up enormous loan programs for businesses large and small, pump money into unemployment insurance programs, greatly boost spending on hospitals, and much more.
Illustrating how grave the situation has become in the United States, the most liberal and conservative senators joined to support the mammoth spending bill.
The legislation's goal is to flood the economy with money at a time of nearly unprecedented financial chaos, with entire states on lockdown, many business closed, and the number of infections and deaths from the coronavirus quickly on the rise.
The Senate vote sends the bill to the House, where Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., expects it to be approved Friday morning. President Donald Trump said he intends to sign it immediately.
"Our nation obviously is going through a kind of crisis that is totally unprecedented in living memory," Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said ahead of the vote, after which the Senate intended to recess until April 20 unless urgent legislative action is needed before then.
"Let's stay connected and continue to collaborate on the best ways to keep helping our states and our country through this pandemic," McConnell said. "Let's continue to pray for one another, for all of our families, and for our country."
In a fresh reminder of the dangers reaching into the Capitol itself, a spokesman for Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., the No. 2 Senate Republican, announced just minutes before the vote that Thune was returning to South Dakota to self-quarantine because he was feeling unwell.
The vote came on the eve of the release of new figures from the Labor Department on the number of workers who applied for unemployment benefits during the week ending March 21. The number is expected to set a record, with estimates ranging from 2 million to 4 million. The prior record was just under 700,000 during a week in October 1982.
"The gears of the American economy have ground to a halt," said Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y. "Our country has faced immense challenges before, but rarely so many at the same time."
The bill would extend $1,200 to most American adults and $500 for most children, create a $500 billion lending program for businesses, cities and states, and a $367 billion employee retention fund for small businesses. It would direct $130 billion to hospitals and provide four months of expanded unemployment insurance, among other things.
Lawmakers and the White House were bombarded with lobbyists and special interest groups seeking assistance during the negotiations, and the price tag rose from $850 billion to $2.2 trillion in just a matter of days.
With confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States climbing swiftly to over 65,000 Wednesday with more than 900 deaths, lawmakers acknowledged that no amount of economic relief from Congress could stop the pain for the American public. In addition to layoffs, many workers are dealing with salary reductions or furloughs. And despite Trump's push to restart much of the economy by April 12, there are growing signs that the drag on business could last well into the second half of the year.
Wednesday night's vote capped drama-filled days of up-and-down negotiations over legislation originally introduced by McConnell a week ago, but which Democrats viewed as unacceptably tilted toward corporations. They negotiated major changes, including an approximately $250 billion increase in spending on unemployment benefits that would expand eligibility and allow laid-off workers to receive an additional $600 a week for four months, on top of the benefits their state unemployment agencies pay.
Schumer touted the measure as "unemployment insurance on steroids," but in one of the final hang-ups Wednesday a group of four conservative senators raised concerns that the program would provide incentives for people to leave the workforce since in some cases they might end up making more on unemployment than would at their job. Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin spoke with the objecting senators - Ben Sasse of Nebraska, Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott of South Carolina, and Rick Scott of Florida - with Mnuchin explaining that it was the most efficient way to structure the program since the alternative would require working with a patchwork of different state unemployment systems.
An amendment the senators offered to try to scale back the new program was defeated Wednesday.
Late resistance also came from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, who voiced complaints Wednesday that the legislation didn't do enough to help his state, the hardest-hit in the country by the virus, where doctors and hospitals are pleading for relief.
Ohe final holdup, according to two congressional aides, surrounded one final condition for the more than half-trillion in corporate rescue funding: Schumer insisted on language requiring the terms of those loans to be disclosed to the public within seven days. The change was made, and the final bill circulated to Senate offices shortly after 10 p.m.
The legislation ensures that taxpayer-backed loans cannot go to firms controlled by Trump, other White House officials or members of Congress. This would suggest that Trump-owned properties, including hotels that have been hurt by the downturn, cannot seek taxpayer assistance.
The airline industry, which has suffered huge losses in the past two months because of canceled flights and travel restrictions, would be a top recipient in the bill. Passenger airlines would qualify for $25 billion in loans and certain other guarantees and could have access to $25 billion in things like grants, which might not have to be repaid.
Sen. Patrick Toomey, R-Pa., said he would have preferred long-term low-interest loans to airlines instead of grants, "But we had this argument, we had this discussion, and it turned out the way it did."
Cargo airlines and suppliers would qualify for a different batch of money.
And another provision of the bill would authorize $17 billion in assistance for companies deemed crucial for national security, language that was written in part to ensure assistance for Boeing, three people with knowledge of the internal deliberations said.
There's also an employee retention tax credit for many firms hurt by the coronavirus fallout and provisions to allow businesses to defer payment of payroll taxes for two years.
Even with all the new funding in the bill, the unemployment system isn't designed to handle the surge of new applicants for jobless claims, but even with all the new funding, it's unclear how smoothly any of the changes might work. For example, the bill would dramatically expand the Small Business Administration's ability to guarantee loans, but millions of companies could seek these guarantees all at once, putting enormous pressure on a system that has never been tested in such a manner.
After falling 10,000 points in two months, the Dow Jones industrial average regained more than 2,500 points on Tuesday and Wednesday amid optimism about the recovery package. The precise impact of the legislation could take months to understand. Many businesses have been hammered, perhaps beyond repair, by the economic impact of the virus.
Trump has signaled he wants some parts of the economy to reopen quickly, but many of the country's biggest economic engines - such as New York, Chicago and San Francisco - are seeing problems escalate.
As the bill was coming together in the final days, Democrats fought to make numerous changes. For example, the White House and Republicans agreed to allow an oversight board and create a Treasury Department special inspector general for pandemic recovery to scrutinize the lending decisions and detect abusive or fraudulent behavior.
"Every loan document will be public and made available to Congress very quickly so we can see where the money is going, what the terms are and if it's fair to the American people," Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday.
The bill also contains a grab-bag of provisions that in some cases seem to range far afield from the coronavirus pandemic, including $13 million for Howard University, $25 million for Washington's Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and $75 million for the National Endowment for the Humanities. Senate aides said those allocations and others were justified to help the institutions prepare for and respond to the coronavirus outbreak.
Although Republicans have been attacking the inclusion of funding for the Kennedy Center, Trump said he personally approved it, saying, "the Kennedy Center has suffered greatly." Trump noted that it started out as a Democratic request, adding, "You know, it works that way. The Democrats have treated us fairly. I really believe that we've had a very good back and forth. And I say that with respect to Chuck Schumer."
Trump acknowledged, though, that assisting an institution like the Kennedy Center might come across like "not a good sound bite, but that's the way life works."
Now that the Senate has passed the bill, the steps ahead in the House are a little less clear. The House is out of session, and many members have voiced concerns about returning to the tight quarters of the Capitol, with at least two House members testing positive for the coronavirus and others in quarantine.
Pelosi had favored passing the bill by "unanimous consent," which would require agreement from all members of the chamber. But one prominent liberal - Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. - has already suggested she could oppose it.
Another option, which Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., endorsed Wednesday, would be to pass the legislation by "voice vote" in the House. That could allow any members who wanted to debate the issue publicly to do so, before passing the legislation without a roll-call vote that would require a quorum to be present. McCarthy suggested time for debate should be allowed on the House floor.
"I know we're in a very challenging time . . . but I don't think we should pass a $2 trillion package by unanimous consent," he said. Pelosi said later that she, too, would support the "voice vote" route, and "I'd like to see a good debate on the floor."
Congress has already passed two much smaller coronavirus relief bills: an $8.3 billion emergency supplemental package for the health-care system and a $100-billion-plus bill to boost paid sick leave and unemployment insurance and provide free coronavirus testing.
Covid-19 patient caught after escaping from Krabi hospital faces charge
A 25-year-old Covid-19 patient, who fled Krabi Hospital where he was being treated in isolation, was caught at a checkpoint on Wednesday (March 25).
The man was brought back to the hospital to resume treatment but faces a charge for violation of the Communicable Disease Act BE 2558.
Dr Supoj Phukaoluan, director of Krabi Hospital, said that the Covid-19 patient had been at the hospital since March 21 but escaped on Wednesday (March 25) evening.
“The patient had travelled from Phi Phi Island and had tested positive for Covid-19 on March 21, so he was sent to receive treatment in a negative pressure room on the first floor of the 45th Anniversary Building of Krabi Hospital,” he said. “On Wednesday evening, the hospital staff found him missing from the room and assumed that he had escaped by jumping off the balcony.”
The hospital contacted Muang Krabi Police Station to track down the patient, while later that night staff from Transport Co Ltd informed the hospital that they had found a man with high fever trying to pass the checkpoint at Krabi Bus Terminal.
“Hospital staff and police officers went to check him out and confirmed that he was the escaped patient,” said Supoj. “He was brought back to the hospital to resume treatment. The hospital’s legal staff will press a charge against him for violation of the Communicable Disease Act BE 2558.”