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Getting Vaccinated? Here’s How to Prepare

As of this week, approximately 33% of all adults in the State of Minnesota are considered to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and an additional 46% have received at least one dose of the vaccine. That means that by the end of June, at least 79% of the state will be vaccinated against COVID-19; just in time for summer!

However, if you’re anything like me, you might not be fully vaccinated yet.


There are a lot of reasons people have chosen to wait; ranging from a lack of information as these vaccines are under emergency order to the fact that some people, such as myself, aren’t even leaving their homes so they chose to wait for others. Nevertheless, COVID-19 vaccination appointments are now available to all adults over the age of 16 in the State of Minnesota ,so now is the time to get yourself scheduled.

Appointments can be found just about anywhere across the state, and you don’t need insurance to be eligible to receive the vaccine. The appointments take around an hour as the distributors of the vaccine want to monitor you to make sure you don’t have a strong reaction, and the shot itself is literally a pinch.

However, a lot of people are still extremely nervous about receiving one or both doses of the vaccine due to how little research was conducted prior to the emergency rollout. If you are one of those people, or even if you’re not, let me assure you that it’s okay to feel a little nervous. But I also want you to know that there’s lot of ways you can prepare for your appointment that might help you feel better about going:

Prior to Booking your Appointment:

  • Get to know the types of vaccines that are available to you: Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Moderna. As I said before, there are a multitude of vaccination sites across the state, but not all offer every type of vaccine. If you have a preference, make sure to book at a site that has that particular type.
  • Professionals at the University of Maryland Medical Center also note that, if you have had any severe allergic reactions in the past, make sure you consult your doctor prior to booking.
  • Also, if you are really nervous, it might be best to read up on the myths about the COVID-19 vaccination as explained by medical professionals.
  • Schedule your vaccine! Some places may even allow you to schedule your second dose at the same time as your first so be aware.
  • Add the appointment(s) to your calendar and isolate yourself prior to getting your vaccine! This is very important because the last thing you want is to get COVID right before you are vaccinated for COVID

Before Your Vaccination Appointment:

  • A few days or so prior to the vaccination, try to do a small stock up: Grab easy food, like canned soup and crackers, and painkillers such as Tylenol and Ibuprofen.
  • Prepare all of the documents you may need (again, insurance is not required, but having some of this documentation may help speed up the paperwork part of the process): State issued photo ID and a copy of your insurance card. When in doubt, read up on the site you are scheduled to visit and read about what they require.
  • Plan your day with enough time and try to arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment. Like I said before, the appointment only takes about an hour but that does not include drive time or extra waiting times at the sites.
  • If you have one, pack your EpiPen. It never hurts to be prepared.
  • Along those same lines, be aware of any and all allergic reactions you have had in the past as there may be questions from the vaccine distributor.
  • Drink A LOT of water. Being hydrated will help combat the icky flu-like symptoms you have likely read about and is generally just good for you.
  • Do NOT take any anti-inflammatory drugs such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen prior to getting the shot as these can inhibit your immune system from working with the vaccine.
  • Make yourself a ‘post-vaccine’ self-care plan, and make sure that it is mellow. Some people say that mildly using their arm throughout the day both prior to and after getting the vaccine helped combat some of the second-day soreness, others were rather fluish and preferred to stay in bed and watch movies. Whatever counts as your favorite way to relax, schedule that in for after your vaccination appointment.
  • Wear comfortable clothes and try to wear something with short sleeves as the shot is administered to the upper arm of your choosing. And don’t forget your mask!
  • Before you head out to the appointment, try to eat a small snack.
  • Finally, when you arrive, express any concerns or fears you still have to the professional you are receiving the vaccine from. They are trained to work with you, and they will do what they can to make you feel comfortable.

After You Receive Your Vaccine:

  • If you have only gotten one dose, and are getting the Moderna or Pfizer types, make sure you are scheduled to receive a second dose. For those who get the Pfizer vaccine, this does needs to be scheduled out a minimum of three weeks after the first. For Moderna, the minimum distance between the two appointments is four weeks.
  • Start chugging even more water. Again, hydration is immaculate in helping our bodies function properly.
  • Avoid any rigorous workouts you have scheduled; arm pain is the most prevalent symptom reported and being mid-plank when you find that out might not be the most fun you’ve had this week.
  • Before you start partying with your friends, try to avoid alcohol for a day or two to let the vaccine settle into your system.
  • Finally, wait the entire two week period after receiving your second dose of the vaccine to be considered fully vaccinated. Yes, that’s right, you still have to stay home for two weeks after your second dose to make sure the vaccine has taken effect and you can consider yourself to be fully vaccinated.

The bottom line, it’s time for our society to return to a semblance of normality, and the best way to do that is to eliminate the threat of getting severely ill from COVID-19. As I said before, there are many reasons why people have waited and even more as to why they may never get the vaccine, but I hope this blog at least makes you feel more comfortable and confident in your decision to get vaccinated.

Stay safe, Minnesota!

Respect ASL

Have you ever been at a concert or speaking event where you were absolutely fascinated not by the presenter themselves, but rather by the interpreter who was translating for someone who is deaf or hard of hearing (HOH)?

Take for example this interpreter you see below. She is signing one of Eminem’s fastest rap songs while it is being performed in real time at one of his concerts. She signs so quickly and with such determination to keep up with the rapper, it’s almost hard to avoid recognizing the amount of talent that she is portraying.

But, this isn’t necessarily a talent: It’s a language and a form of communication that is being socially promoted as performance art.

Like oral languages, American Sign Language (ASL) is a beautiful and complex form of communication that takes a high level of dedication to learn. Many of us likely know how to sign a word or two, but could never carry on a conversation using only ASL. This hasn’t stopped some individuals from trying to make up their own signs for the words and, even worse, promote their efforts as inclusive.

One of our classmates, Ly, wrote about this in the blog post Hearing people – your fascination with ASL is a problem. In the post, Ly talks about how social media, specifically TikTok, has become a growing problem in combating ableism. Many TikTok creators have decided to forgo the structural accuracy required for the communication to make sense, and have instead chosen to saturate their material with visually appealing gestures.

Take for example @rosaliee_ospina on TikTok. Ly mentions her in the original blog post, but this girl is such a strong example of ablest culture that it’s hard not to bring her up again. After posting multiple videos in which she incorrectly signs along to the likes of popular songs and being called out for it by the deaf community-who also have reached out and offered to teach her proper ASL only to be blocked-she still had the audacity to say that the ASL community was bullying her and other similar creators for posting their extremely incorrect content.


So, why is she posting this content? If she is signing incorrectly and getting backlash for doing so, why would she keep posting these videos on her account?

She claims that she signs as a way to help her deal with her anxiety.

Now, I should note, I have struggled with Generalized Anxiety Disorder since I was five years old, and I’m not trying to judge how someone might handle their own anxiety in the context of their own life. That being said, for me, attempting to post videos where I have no idea what I am doing to a platform that gets over a billion visitors a day would actually cause me severe anxiety. Even right now, I have anxiety over this very blog; putting your creative work out into the world where it could be critiqued is rather intimidating.

There is a difference, however, that it appears creators like Ospina have yet to realize: Dancing with your hands as a way to manage your anxiety is different than American Sign Language.

It is absolutely fine if you chose to use your hands for dancing, in fact it is one of the various popular ways people participate in dance challenges on TikTok. The video below is an example of a recent dance trend on the platform, and it uses emojis as a way to “translate” what actions people are supposed to do.


Could these types of dance videos get confused with the likes of ASL if you are unfamiliar with the language? Absolutely. But tagging the video as ASL is creating the façade that you know what you’re doing, and therefore you are participating in ablest culture. Frankly, it’s also a form of cultural appropriation to bastardize a language for entertainment purposes as culture is not solely defined by race and geographic location, but mainly by language.

Would we be okay with a content creator butchering Spanish or Mandarin or French on their videos under the pretense they know what they are saying? No. Someone signing incorrectly is no different.

Again, I recognize I am part of this problem as I just called out the fact that I believe interpreters are extremely intriguing to watch, and the way they can flow between signs so effortlessly is absolutely extraordinary. But I respect this language the same way I respect all languages: I may not understand what is being said in the moment, nor do I fully grasp the vast history of the language, but it is insanely cool to me that the world is full of so many different and unique cultures. Me being fascinated with ASL is the same as me being fascinated when someone can switch between Hmong and English in the same sentence; it is the same as me being fascinated by the development of language as a whole from the beginning of human existence. I am a communications major after all.

But, as Ly points out, the difference lies in the respect for the culture. You can respect a culture without making it more appealing to the homogenous masses. You can respect a culture even if you chose not to learn about it. And, finally, you can respect a culture without exploiting it for your own social clout.

Blog Post 1: Graduating during COVID

During the onset of COVID-19, most Americans believed that the pandemic would subside within the span of a year. 2020 graduates had the unique experience of graduating and moving onto a new segment of their life without an actual celebration. Many universities canceled their ceremonies – rendering the gown and cap seemingly useless. Their families didn’t get to cheer for them as they walked across a stage and they had to wait for their diplomas to be mailed to them without the pleasure of accepting it on stage. 2020 graduates then struggled with the frustration of knowing that all their effort over the years felt unrewarded.

New Year’s has passed and it is now 2021. COVID-19 is as rampant as ever – perhaps even more so. While vaccines are finally available in Minnesota, there is no telling when it will be regulated to every Minnesotan.

Just the thought alone emerges with complicated feelings, but 2021 graduates have the advantage that 2020 graduates did not – trial and error. During 2020, universities tried various methods to ensure that their graduates could celebrate. The most common method was an online virtual celebration, where peers could congratulate each other in a chat box. This came with its own challenges as livestreams froze, names were skipped, and more. The effort was appreciated as most of the complications occurred due to the last minute planning.

But 2021 graduates have quite a few months to go before graduation, which means they have more time to plan and offer insight to the university before the ceremony. 2021 graduates can contact their universities and share ideas. What do you want to see? What would you like offered? 2021 graduates have the time to take it upon themselves to let their university grow its options and work as a team with its staff. You would be surprised at how a single suggestion can grow multiple branches of action.

That’s due…now?!?!

“I thought you were doing homework mom?” I drop the rag in the sink, wash my hands and turn to give dinner on the stove a quick stir as I ask, “Can I help you with something?” my tween rolls her eyes, puts one hand on her hip and wags her finger in my face, “No mom, I need to help YOU, my homework is done, is yours?”

I wish this was a one-time thing. I still keep procrastinating with valuable things like laundry(Who doesn’t like clean clothes?) I’ve been told this work, life, school balance thing is important but what about when it’s all coming at you at once?

Deep Breath.

Check the calendar.

Jenny Rush on the blog LearnHowtoBecome.org recommends writing things down. She keeps a household calendar, a personal planner, and an online work calendar. She recommends getting everything written out on Sunday before the week starts.

Having assignment due dates, lectures and meetings, and even study sessions blocked out between laundry, and work emails can make all the responsibilities of the day blend and even work together seamlessly.

Then it is down to making the schedule your priority. Yes I have a teenage son, yes he is always hungry, yes he can make himself food. I repeat this to myself over and over. Remember the plan, follow the schedule, and nothing will be late…now where did my planner go?

The Future is Blockchain Technology

I’m sure you may have heard about Bitcoin in recent news, especially in the world of investing. Bitcoin is known as a cryptocurrency, a digital currency in which encryption techniques are used to regulate the generation of units of currency and verify the transfer of funds, operation independently of a central bank. For those of you that aren’t tech savvy, it essentially means that currency will not be controlled a central authority such as federal banks or the government.

Imagine being able to transfer money or making payments without having to deal with transaction fees, with guaranteed anonymity for payments, and secure transfers. That is the goal of  cryptocurrencies, to decentralize wealth and give individuals more control over their money. We have seen several market crashes in the past decade such as the Dot Com bubble in 2000 and the recession in 2008. There has been movements to bring attention to this like the “We are the 99%” Occupy Wall Street. People are tired of having the economy controlled by huge corporations and want alternatives.

That is where Blockchain technology come into play, which is a digitized, decentralized, public ledger of all cryptocurrency transactions. Transactions are recorded and added to ledger and allow market participant to keep track of digital currency transactions without central recordkeeping. This is primarily used to verify transactions within the global network and then verified by the network using nodes (computer connected to the network). The most popular cryptocurrency is Bitcoin, however there are thousands of different cryptocurrencies developed in the past few years.

I encourage you to learn more about this because it will eventually be used for a variety of practical applications. Here is the website for Bitcoin: https://bitcoin.org/en/



More money saving, green living tips

In keeping with my theme of the environment and my earlier blog with tips to save money and the Earth. I thought I’d share another low-cost tip for living green.

I recently came across a really cool new cleaning product. Except that it isn’t new, and it’s not exactly a product, but there are products made from it and you can buy it?

This is starting to sound like a riddle, so I’ll get to the point. SOAP NUTS!!

What is a soap nut?

Soap Nuts, which are actually berries, grow on trees and have actual soap in them!

Soapberry Tree

The berries contain saponin, which functions as a surfactant a.k.a. soap. They work to release dirt from fabric and other surfaces, then suspend the dirt in the water to be rinsed away. Some species of soap nut have also been found to be anti-bacterial and anti-fungal.

Soap nuts have been in use for literal ages, in the subtropic Asia, in countries such as India, China, Taiwan, and Nepal. There is also a western soapberry tree that was used historically for the same purposes by Native Americans.

What can I do with a soap nut?

Soap nuts can be used to make an array of cleaning products.

  • Produce rinse
  • Laundry detergent
  • Dish detergent for use in a dishwasher or handwashing
  • Shampoo
  • Face and body wash
  • Shaving Cream
  • All-purpose cleaner
  • Glass cleaner
  • Insect repellent
  • Jewelry cleaner
  • Automobile washing

How to use them

There is more than one method for using soap nuts, and the exact measurements may vary based on the exact species you are using. So I advise testing out a few methods to see what gets the best results with the nuts that you have available. That’s what I’ll be doing! But for this blog, I will cover some of the ideas and recipes I have found during my research.

Use the whole nut

Put 4-5 nuts in a mesh bag, tie it off and toss it in with your laundry. Reuse the same bag for approximately 10 loads of laundry, or until the soap nuts seem mushy. To test if the nuts are still good, run the bag under hot water and give it a squeeze, you should see some suds come out.

Note that this works best when using warm water to wash clothes. If you are washing in cold water, then you should steep the bag in hot water for a few minutes to activate the saponin for best results.

Another use for the whole nut is to take 10-12 nuts and let them soak in a bucket of hot water for about 30 minutes. Then use this water to wash your car, your floors, or anything else that you might need a bucket of water to clean. Since the wash is all natural and biodegradable the water can be reused to water your trees or plants. It may even keep pests out of the area watered. If anyone does try watering plants with the leftover water, I’d love to hear how it goes! (I don’t have any plants or yeard to test this out myself).

Make a concentrated liquid cleaner

I have found a number of recipes for a liquid concentrate, ranging from 2 nuts per cup of water to 15 nuts per cup. I went with a middle ground of about 10 nuts per cup of water.

Boil the soap nuts in the water, occasionally smashing them down with a bamboo spoon or something similar, for about 30 minutes. You can add essential oils if you want a scented product. Strain the liquid into a jar, and store in the fridge. Will last about 2 weeks. Another idea is that you can freeze it into cubes and just throw a cube into the laundry machine, dishwasher, or bucket of water.

The concentrated product can be used for multiple purposes

  • Mix 1 TBSP into a bucket of water for mopping floors
  • Mix 1 TBSP into dishwater for dishes
  • Add concentrate directly to dishwasher, or laundry machines (low sud product perfect for machine washing)
  • Mix 1 TBSP concentrate with 1 TBSP white vinegar into a spray bottle and fill with water for glass and multi-purpose cleaners
  • Apply a dab to your cleansing cloth for face or body cleansing. The antibacterial properties of the berry make this an excellent wash for acne prone skin, but it is also not drying and is very gentle for sensitive skin.
  • Mix .5-1 oz into 12 oz water in a jar and pour over your scalp for shampoo (follow up with an apple cider vinegar rinse as your conditioner!)
  • Mix 1 TBSP into a gallon bucket of water for another way to get floor and car wash
  • For a jewelry cleaner, use either the straight concentrate or about a 50/50 mix with water, let jewelry soak in it for a bit and then scrub it with a toothbrush.

This list could go on and on, get creative and post your ideas in the comments below!

Make and use as a paste

To make a paste you would take the leftover skins that you boiled to make your concentrate (you would want to remove the hard seeds at this point if you did not buy seedless) and put them in your food processor to create a mash. Then add coconut oil, or olive oil, or grapeseed oil (or whatever type of oil you prefer to use on your skin) and blend it down into a more liquid state. Once you apply to wet skin it will suds up and you can shave away!

The paste of the skins can also be used as a concentrated cleaner and degreaser for tough messes.

Make a powder

You can just buy soap nut powder (and many of the other cleaners listed above), but if you are a DIY sort of person, take the dry nuts and just throw them in your blender, coffee grinder or food processor. I think you would want to use just the skins as the seeds don’t contain any saponin and are rather hard, so they would wear down your blades with no added benefit.

The powder can then be used in basically the same ways as the liquid by putting a scoop into your laundry or into your dishwasher or dishwater.

What else?

The possibilities seem rather endless at this point. I have read that insects are naturally repelled by the plant, which means that no pesticides are needed to grow them. It also means that it has the potential for use as mosquito repellent! Although everything I have read indicates the results are not in as to how effective it might be or the best way to apply it.

It is all natural and very mild so you can use it for your children’s laundry, or for someone with a skin condition such as eczema. You can also use it to shampoo your pet, and supposedly it will help discourage fleas and ticks from them.

Free Knowledge

It has taken me exactly 1 hour and 3 minutes to come up with the next topic for my blog (yes–I kept track). For some reason, finding a worthwhile resource on the web is a lot harder than it sounds. You would think that with millions and millions of links, it would take me five minutes to get this blog done.

Well, I finally came up with an idea–

The library. No, I am not just talking about the physical building, although that is also a terrific resource. But, instead, I am referring to the online version of the library, which can be just as important as the physical library–especially for students.

The library is underrated and overlooked. As a community, we should value what the library provides for us: free knowledge.

Who doesn’t want free knowledge?

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Washington county library website

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For me, I live in Woodbury, so I use the Washington Country library. This website is so useful that I am baffled when I realize that most people don’t even own a library card. When I went to the Washington County library, it took me exactly four minutes to get a library card and to start checking out books. It is arguably the easiest thing that you’ll ever do.

It’s not just about checking out books, it is about the homework help centers, the free databases, the audiobooks, and the classes. All of these things can be found on the website and has the potential to be useful for every student.

I typically agree with T.S. Eliot’s opinion of  libraries.

The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man

Everything in the library is free, but it is up to us to use the resources. We need to take the intuitive and learn. This will not only help our grades, but it will help our brains and will help us become better critical thinkers.

Who doesn’t want to be considered a critical thinker? As the old platitude goes: readers are leaders.

So turn off the TV, and grab a book. It doesn’t have to be long–25 minutes a day is a good place to start. You’ll be surprised how much reading can affect your life, your outlook, and your empathy.

Don’t take my word for it–Albert Einstein once said,

The only thing that you absolutely have to know, is the location of the library.

We take libraries for granted, but we really shouldn’t. Many historical cultures and civilizations would envy us for our immense storage of knowledge.

So don’t take it for granted. Appreciate libraries and use them regularly.

Since we’re talking about books, I figured I’d add a picture of one of my personal favorites:

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Best book ever?

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Keep the library in mind when you have a homework assignment you are struggling with. All you have to do is check out the library website.

Ask, and it shall be given you.


The Longhairs

First, click here.

Screen Shot 2017-05-22 at 3.25.33 PM.png

The Longhairs is a group of men who have a simple mission: to provide a community for guys with, you guessed it, long hair. This group spoke to me immediately, not because I am a guy with long hair, but because this group’s motivation and way of spreading their mission aligns with Sprout MSP‘s. Like the Longhairs, Sprout MSP is meant to build a community through shared vision. Both groups spread the word about their cause without including harsh consequences that apply when one doesn’t follow in the community belief.  Seeing the Longhairs method of outreach helped me understand the path that, perhaps, Sprout MSP should be following.

The Longhairs use multiple channels to reach their audience including their website, blog, subscription newsletters, Facebook, and even their own line of products. (I know what you are thinking ladies, do it! Don’t worry you won’t be alone, I totally signed up for the haircare tips and purchases some ties myself.) By having multiple channels this group is opening themselves up to more exposure and therefore are spreading their mission one internet user at a time. Two inventive channels they focus on are their products and newsletters. By having their own products, The Longhairs are able to bring the attention back to their goal every time an onlooker asked about the logo on the front of someone’s shirt or another “bro-dude” with long hair asks to borrow a ponytail binder. In addition, by having a daily newsletter, The Longhairs are able to reach their community members directly, encouraging them to share the mission with others.

Now while I do not have any motivation to create a line of products for this group mission, I did appreciate the inspiration The Longhairs brought me. Now I am refocused on Sprout MSP’s mission, and am standing for my first newsletter about hair care!

How to save a life

If you know anyone that has been effected by cancer or any horrible blood disease, you know that it is a very sad and painful process that a person has to go through. Years ago, I personally went through a situation of losing a nephew at 9 months old because he was diagnosed with leukemia and there wasn’t much that anyone could do about it. I know that I am not the only one who has gone through this situation and all you can do is move forward and think of what else you can do.

If you ever wondered if there was something that you can do, you can make a difference and potentially save someone’s life. If you are from the ages of 18 to 44, you have a high chance in being a match to donate your bone marrow to save a baby, child, adult, or anyone with this life-threatening disease. All it takes is to be registered on a national bone marrow registry like, Be the Match and DKMS, and to be listed for patients that are in need.

When you first join, you take a buccal swab test so that your HLA (Human Leukocyte Antigen) is listed on the registry for patients and their physicians to access. Once you are a match, there are two ways to donate and that is through PBSC (Peripheral Blood Stem Cell) and bone marrow donation. Both processes are harmless to the donor and an extensive examination is done before donation.

Doug Sundin/UW OSHKOSH from people.com

Here is a story about 22-year-old college student, Brett from Wisconsin who saved a 10-year-old girl from Indiana. This wonderful story details the experience of these two people and their journey to a successful transplant. This and many stories has been successfully shared online and with joining and supporting a bone marrow registry, you can also make a difference in someone’s life.

For more information and to learn more, check out: Be the Match and DKMS