Tag Archives: BlogType4

Why You Need to Get a Minnesota State Park Pass

Have you been to one of Minnesota’s 66 different state parks?

If the answer is no, or even if it is a yes, I’m here to tell you why you need to start planning visits to as many as possible right now.

No matter where you live in the state of Minnesota, there is likely a state park located not too far from you. In the Twin Cities area alone, there are at least three parks located within a half an hour you can drive to: Fort Snelling, Afton, and William O’Brien. The map provided below shows that these three particular parks are located in the deciduous forest section of the state, which means that the trees in these areas lose their leaves every year (hello fall!). There are also prairie and coniferous forest sections, which are breathtaking in the spring and winter months respectively.


But what awaits you at a state park? Why are they better than a free local park?

I want to start with a fact you may already find convincing due to the global pandemic: These parks are quiet. I don’t just mean quiet in the sense of seeing fewer people due to the entry fee – the reality is they accumulatively get over 9 million visitors a year – I mean quiet in the sense that a small herd of deer will cross your path without even blinking; quiet as in you can hear the trickling of waterfalls and the wind as it winds its way through the trees. It’s a stillness that can be found even in the more metropolitan areas of the state due to the large acreage each park has managed to secure.


If that’s still not enough to convince you, let’s talk amenities. Many if not all of these state parks have paved and non-paved trails for hiking, interpretive trails for informational walks, picnic shelters, and water access since we are the state with over 10,000 lakes.

The parks also have varying degrees of camping available: Backpack campsites, drive-in sites, RV sites and camper cabins are all available to reserve between the months of May and November. Every park has restrooms, some have both portable toilets and restrooms with plumbing, and a few even have showers for their reserved guests.

These parks also have many rentals available to guests, from kayaks to snowshoes, but the COVID-19 pandemic has put these rentals on hold.


And let’s not forget to mention that these parks possess spectacular views and work to protect parts of Minnesota’s native wildlife that you may not be able to find outside of the park limits.


Within the boundaries of the various parks located across the state, the DNR reports that there are 205 different species of flora and 84 different species of fauna considered state endangered or threatened. These parks serve as not only a place of solace for these threatened and endangered species, but also as an environment that can be utilized to foster the species’ growth.

Each park can be found to possess a plethora of information on the specific species they are focusing on. For example, Lake Maria State Park focuses efforts on revitalizing the presence of the Blanding’s Turtle; one of Minnesota’s most threatened species. Likewise, Wild River State Park is working simultaneously on prairie restoration and the bolstering of white pines within the park limits.


At this point, you’ve likely decided you are in fact going to head out to a state park sometime soon. While you begin planning your trip to one of these beautiful Midwestern utopias, take my advice and buy yourself a year-round state park vehicle permit pass.

The cost of a year-round vehicle pass is only $35 and the profits from the sale go towards helping these parks maintain and improve the natural resources, facilities, and education and outreach programs that exist within them. Essentially that means that just by buying the pass, you’re helping save endangered species that are native to your home state. And, considering your other option is to buy a $7 daily pass each time you visit a park, it really only takes five visits a year to get your money’s worth.


So, which park are you going to visit first? Share your favorite Minnesota State Park in comments below!

Food Waste: A Forgotten Climate Change Contributor

Did you know that, according to the EPA, on average you throw away over 200 pounds of perfectly good food every year? Think about that, you throw away the food equivalent of a six and a half foot male every single year under the guise that this food is no longer usable.

What if I told you that majority of that food was still usable? Allow me to explain.

What is food waste?

Food waste is the food we buy from grocery stores and order at restaurants that ends up in landfills, therefore releasing methane gas into the environment and contributing to global warming. It currently accounts for approximately 30-40% of the total food supply in the United States and about 21% of all of our landfills.


Some of this food waste is unavoidable as spoilage can occur during any phase of production and supply: Equipment malfunction, insects, rodents, birds, molds, over-ordering, bacteria, and the culling of blemished produce can all contribute in their own way. However, some of it can be utilized in different ways.


So, what can you do?

There are a TON of options you have when it comes to reducing your carbon footprint through food waste: Buying less, using your scraps, and donating unopened or unused food are all simple yet effective ways to lessening the impact of food waste. Below some suggestions have been broken down by actions you can take now, things you can do in the next week, and some simple habits you can add in before your next grocery trip.

Right now

  • Clean out your fridge, reducing the clutter helps you better understand what food you have and what you need, and remember to FIFO (First In, First Out).
  • Make sure your food is being stored properly. If you don’t know how to store something to avoid it spoiling prematurely, try this website as a guide or use Google.
  • Drink more water! Studies show that this can help curb your hunger and therefore reduce how much food you buy and consume. And, if you have some fruit that looks less than perfect, try adding that into your water for more flavor!
  • Learn the difference in “use by,” “sell by” and “best buy” dates when it comes to your food; as it turns out these are astronomically different. Read more about it here.

This Week

  • Learn how to pickle, dry, can, ferment and freeze your food to save it longer.
  • Save your leftovers and invest in some reusable food storage containers. I prefer Pyrex due to their wonderful versatility.
  • Be creative with your cooking! There are always new ways you can utilize yesterday’s leftovers for today’s meals. Pinterest is the best place to see what unique ways others have repurposed their leftovers!
  • Start saving your scraps! This link here can show you how to use the scraps from bananas, citrus fruits, avocados, potatoes and coffee grounds for your regular beauty routine. Or, save scraps to make homemade broth for a simple crockpot soup.
  • Save your yolks because they’re excellent for a hair mask! Just don’t rinse it out using hot water or your egg will cook.
  • Eat the skins, they’re shockingly good for you.
  • Try the seeds! Pumpkin and squash both have delicious seeds that can be roasted to make an excellent and easy weekly snack!

Before Your Next Grocery Trip

  • Try composting! There are multiple locations across the state that will take your scraps and compost them for you.
  • Before you head out to get your groceries, try meal planning for the week. Making a list of what you need from the grocery store rather than going with your gut can not only save you money, but it will prevent you from buying things you don’t need.
  • Shop smart by sticking to your list and, if you can swing it, try making multiple trips to the store each week.
  • If you plan to make smoothies or freezer meals, buy some of the “ugly” food. It’s still edible and you can help reduce the environmental impact of your local grocer.
  • Just in case, try making a weekly food shelf trip prior to getting new groceries. This will help reduce clutter in your home and it could help someone who is struggling with food insecurity.

Have other suggestions for using food scraps? Please share in the comments below!

Western accolades – why do you fear awarding Asians?

Commentary: There's nothing 'foreign' about Minari - The Aquinian

The 2021 Golden Globe Awards took place just a few days ago and it was truly a reflection of the times. Celebrities, unable to walk the red carpet due to COVID, hired photographers and other staff to have photoshoots at home. They gussied up as best they could while sitting on their sofas waiting for announcements. The Golden Globe Awards is known for celebrating both American and international films and television, which made the online audience accessible for those around the world. While stars and others alike celebrated their wins and nominations, the Golden Globes had a controversy that had been bubbling under the radar.

When film Minari was nominated for Foreign Language Film, it stirred conversation online – both positive and mainly negative. Minari follows the story of a Korean family immigrating to Arkansas and details the experience of adjusting to the American life in the 1980s. The family converses in both Korean and English, with Korean-American actors Steven Yeun and Alan Kim as well as Korean actors like Yeri Han and Yuh-Jung Youn. Due to the usage of the Korean language in the film, the Golden Globes stated that Minari was not eligible for other nominations because it was being counted as foreign film – despite being filmed in America, having an American director, and featuring Asian American actors.

The Hollywood Foreign Press Associate (HFPA) rules that a film must be 50% in English to be eligible for main awards. This isn’t surprising as critically acclaimed films like The Farewell and Parasite have also been ineligible for awards due to the movie being mainly in an Asian language. The problem comes from the inconsistency of said rule.

“In the foreign language category, the HFPA’s strict 50-50 language rule has fluctuated in the past, allowing films such as “Babel” and “Inglourious Basterds” — both of which coincidentally starred Brad Pitt — to be nominated for best picture, drama, with “Babel” winning the prize.” (Jen Yamato, Los Angeles Times)

Inglourious Basterds is only about 30% in English, with the rest of the dialogue in German, French, and Italian.  So what circumstances allow the 50-50 language rule to be bent? Apparently no one knows, but an investigation on the HFPA about the lapse in their ethics and lack of diversity on their 87 member board might clue you in. The 50-50 rule is even stranger when you consider that the United States does not have an official language – English just happens to be most commonly used.

Minari, a film about another aspect of the American experience in America with Asian-American actors and an Asian-American director – is considered foreign simply for having a language other than English. The Farewell, a film about another aspect of the American experience in America with Asian-American actors and an Asian-American director – is also considered foreign simply for having a language other than English. Inglourious Basterds, a film about an alternate history of Nazi Germany with American and European actors and an American director – is not considered foreign despite not being based in America and having several languages other than English.

What is the difference then?

If anything, it has more to do with the western misconception that “American” equals cishet white people. It doesn’t have anything to do with the language – Asian people just aren’t considered for western success.

Rina Sawayama: "Us pop girls are really trying to lift 2020 in the only way  we can!" | Features | DIY
Rina Sawayama

This isn’t anything new with western accolades. British pop star Rina Sawayama was not considered “British enough” to be eligible for the Brit Awards and The Mercury Prize despite living in the United Kingdom for 25 years and having a right to work in the UK and permanent residency. Part of the entry process is to provide proof of citizenship and because Sawayama has retained her Japanese citizenship, she was not eligible.  But in 2005 Antony and the Johnsons, a New-York based group and resident of the United States, was eligible because they owned a British passport. Many have called out the gate-keeping nature of the Brit Awards as problematic, even describing it as “border control.”

Just this year, the Brit Awards changed their eligibility guidelines thanks to the outpour of support for Sawayama, with twitter trending #SawayamaIsBritish in the UK. The new rule states that artist who have been a UK resident for more than 5 years qualify.

Even if Asian people from Asia succeed in the west, western accolades continue to shut them out. The Grammy 2021 nominations confused many when South Korean band, BTS, was only nominated for one award even with their dominance on the American music charts rivaling the likes of Doja Cat and Lady Gaga. Expert predictions assumed that the band would at least be nominated for Best Pop Vocal Album but when the nominee list came out, many claimed that BTS were snubbed. Acts like Justin Bieber, Harry Styles and Dua Lipa were nominated despite BTS’ submitted album, Map of the Soul:7, outselling the nominees. Taylor Swift and BTS were the only artists in all of 2020 to sell half a million copies of an album in the United States, yet only Taylor Swift’s album Folklore was nominated.

While some take comfort in the fact that BTS at least have one nomination, it can’t be ignored that BTS were shut out of last year’s Grammy awards as well despite having one of the most successful tours of 2019 and only received a nomination once they sang a song in English.

JUNGKOOK BTS on Instagram: “bts with taylor swift ✌🏻” | Billboard music  awards, Taylor swift, Bts boys
Korean band BTS with Taylor Swift at the Billboard Music Awards

The language barrier appears to exist as an excuse for western award organizations to ignore and discredit work based on the need to other Asians. Board members for awards need to not only be diverse in their background, but cultural understanding as well. By diversifying the members, they would be able to see that the American experience is varied in its makeup. Americans love to brag about America being a melting pot of cultures – then why not celebrate the different languages and cultures that make it so? By limiting what media is worthy of celebration, it closes the door on sharing the various perspectives that art, film, and music have to offer.

Support Net Neutrality

Look at the image above and identify the familiar sites that you frequently visit. Now see the price on the right of it? What if cable companies and internet providers charged you based on the websites you visit and the various functions you need?

Looking at television, you already see this with Comcast or DirectTV and their channel packages. To get the premium channels there is an upcharge. Want to watch Game of Thrones? Then that will be an extra $30 dollars added to the $100 you are already paying for cable. This scenario could be in the distant future for consumers if net neutrality is taken away.

Net neutrality is the principle that internet service providers must treat all data on the internet the same, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication. Essentially, the internet should be a place that is not regulated by the government or media conglomerates.

I’ve read the book 1984 by George Orwell and sacrificing Net Neutrality would bring us as a society one step closer to a dystopian reality. A little bit of background about the novel, it was written in 1948 when there was fear of global war and Orwell describes a totalitarian dystopia that is characterised by government control and subjugation of the people. Every method of communication would be monitored and controlled. Without Net Neutrality, internet providers can speed up, slow down, or block any applications or websites you want to use. I say fight for a free internet because that is the way it has always been!

Save The Internet: What You Need to Know


Violence Against Men

When a man hits a woman — it’s abuse. When a woman hits a man — it’s self defense.

While most organizations and advocators say victims of domestic violence “can be of any age, sex, race, culture, religion, education, employment or marital status”, women continue to be the vast majority. Women are often labeled as fragile, vulnerable, and victims of violence. Studies and statistics by CDC shows that 1 in every 4 women is a victim of violence versus 1 in every 7 men. Most women are granted protection by the law and support systems when it comes to violence.

A video clip done by a group of amateurs demonstrate how the bystanders jump to the rescue when a woman is being mistreated in public. In contrasts, it also shows how the bystanders do not take into account when the man is being abuse by the woman. This is another article that sums up what violence against men looks like today. Often time, men cannot find the help and support they need because “a woman can’t hurt you”.


This shows that society have isolated men from being victims. Men are seen as strong beings, protectors, and the penetrator. This kind of generalization prevents them from protection, support, and the possibility of being a victim.

Domestic violence can range from physical to emotional abuse and other unwanted contacts. It should not matter whether the penetrator is strong or weak, black or white, male or female. Any person should not be seen as more or less of a victim just because of their physical image and potential strength. When society picks and chooses who fits the profile of a victim, it takes away the fact that violence can happen to anyone regardless of their “age, sex, race, culture, religion, education, employment or marital status”.

Choose your Halloween costume wisely

Image result for halloween pumpkins

Halloween is the one time where you can dress up as anything that you want and you wont get judged for being “slutty” or really cheesy because everyone is doing it. But listen, there has to be a line.

I work in a coffee shop, in a small town with a lot of pretty wealthy people that have a chip on their shoulder, so it’s not that foreign for me to see some ignorance here and then. I was working this evening and all of the sudden, I see a white male dressed up as a terrorist walking right by our window, just taking a stroll, smoking a cigarette. Me and my other coworkers were in complete awe. How, especially with all of the ignorance that is going on in the world, would you ever dress up as a terrorist? It is simply just not appropriate and I have no patience for anyone who has even an ounce of racism. Thankfully he didn’t come in because I honestly would not have served him.

So my position is this, you can’t dress up as something for halloween that makes fun of anyone, especially not a specific culture/race. 

There are a lot of racist people in the world, hell our country is being run by a misogynist racist. So how have people not caught up and realized that dressing up as someone of another culture IS NOT OKAY? Even dressing up in a sombrero and a poncho and dressing up as a “Mexican” (in quotes because people from Mexico don’t dress like that) is offensive. When has cultural appropriation ever been okay? As a person from a different country, I would never dress up as someone from another culture and think that it was funny.

I just had to write about this because it completely angered me that someone would do something like that and think that it was okay. I guess with a president (not my president, sorry not sorry) like this one, people can think they can do whatever the hell without any consequences because he does the same thing.

So please, choose your halloween costume wisely.

On a lighter note and in the spirit of halloween, here’s a picture from my class instagram of some of me and my friends with the pumpkins that we carved.



Calling all Scientists

There is something missing from the world today … actually, there are a great many somethings missing from the world today.

I refer of course to the species that have gone extinct throughout history. Some of these extinctions occurred naturally over a great span of time. Others occurred as a mass extinction caused by some cataclysmic event. dino

The “natural” rate of extinction is about one-five species per year, but in recent history, scientists have estimated about twelve species per day are going extinct!!

At this rate of acceleration, it appears we may be heading for another mass extinction. This time it will be the end of the Age of Mammals (the Cenozoic Era).

We as humans discuss a lot of issues, politics, religion, social injustice, and yes even the environment. But where we seem to focus our attention is at the very high level, big picture aspects. When we talk about the environment we talk about the ice caps melting (which will take a long time and have obvious widespread effects), we also talk about our grandchildren and providing them with clean air and water. Long-term, big picture stuff.

But what about the small things? The microbiology of Earth? EO Wilson, a microbiologist, speaks out about the importance of insects and microorganisms. For example, he talks about a tiny marine-bacteria in the oceans that was only recently discovered, in 1988. They are now considered to be one of the most populace life forms on Earth, and one of the smallest. This sub-microscopic entity is now thought to be the leading producer of photosynthesis in the ocean.

These are things that go unknown and unnoticed to most people. Because of this ignorance of the world around us. We continue to generate contaminants that we think are protecting us, but are probably actually leading us down the path to extinction. Many small organisms and insects are absolutely vital to our survival, but we spread pesticides and antibiotics with ease.

Wilson has a dream of knowledge, spreading knowledge of every species on Earth and how they might interact with and support our own selves. He calls it the Encylopedia of Life. The idea is an opensource online encyclopedia where scientists can log their knowledge about any and every species on Earth.

That fits into what we discuss in class very nicely, I think, it is basically a scientific forum for sharing information and knowledge. It could inspire a movement to help save some of these species that we unwittingly rely on for life.

Another TED talk given by Wilson is a call to young scientists to take up the mantle of research and discovery. It seems Wilson has a concern about a reduced interest in the field of scientific research. He cites a fear of failure as what he thinks is the reason for this decline. Amusingly, he spends some time trying to convince the audience that math isn’t that hard to learn, and he goes so far as to say that professors and academics should focus less on mathematics, and more on imagination. He suggests that if you make a brilliant discovery, or have a brilliant idea, you can always hire a mathematician to join the research team.

Shakespeare Where art Thou?

As a writer, I have a great respect for the English language. Don’t worry, this blog post is not going to be an introductory course into grammar and the proper usage of pronouns. But, I do want to look at one word that has become popular in news outlets and social media sites. That word is hate.

Regardless of all of the negative connotations, hate simply means intense dislike for someone or something.  From this very simple definition, hate has become a word that describes groups or individuals who are intolerant, prejudiced, and fundamentally single-minded.

Languages evolve naturally through the ages. Pirates would be shocked to find out what the term booty means now. Obviously, none of us walk around saying “Thou shalt not procrastinate this semester!” Shakespeare himself believed in a changing language and was known for making up words to use in his plays.

But, when looking at hate, we see a different type of evolution that may not be the best for society.

“I want to applaud the many protestors in Boston who are speaking out against bigotry and hate,” President Trump tweeted.

An opaque statement against hate does not help society mature and grow; instead, it may cause the exact opposite. Because of how general the term hate is, it makes individuals within society afraid to voice their opinions for fear that they might be labeled as a hater. When this fear infects a populace, it causes the exact thing that we are trying to prevent. It creates a nation made up of narrow–minded individuals.

By ostracizing people who do not share our viewpoints and labeling them “haters,” it allows the people with the majority opinion to rule over a minority

This brings us to the main question: who has the right to label someone a “hater?” Do we as a society have the responsibility to give out these terms? If this is true, then we are subject to groupthink and mob rule.

I am not saying that society will collapse because we use the word hate incorrectly. I just simply want to prove that even little things like words and definitions can have a larger impact than most people realize.



Okay, okay I know. How awkward is it that I am writing about nipples for class, right? Well before you get all worked up, hear me out.

Now although I love going braless as much as the next girl, I must admit this movement did take me off guard. I have a few friends who were posting photos in support of the moment and I didn’t understand the need to make all nipple showing acceptable. Well, probably just like most of you, I was just seeing the very tip of this movement. So, let’s dive in.

Free the Nipple is one of the most powerful social movements working in our generation. Their goal is not just aimed at the social acceptance of women showing their breast, it is to create social change.







Inequality is found in our work structures, government, and even in our social norms. For example, women are still earning less than men for doing the exact same jobs with the exact same qualifications. A man sleeps with multiple girls and he is a “stud” or “the man” while a woman is a “slut” or “whore”. Now I am not condoning “sleeping around” but everyone should have the right to do what they want and not be judged for it based on their gender.

That being said, it is not just the male verse female equality this movement fights for. As it is clearly stated above, they believe that all humans are created equal. To this, I say Amen!

They have a great stance but so do other groups. So, why do I say they are one of the best social movements of our time? Because, if a girl walked into a room with no shirt or bra on, not a single person could say they wouldn’t notice her. They force you to pay attention and will not be ignored. Put the getting attention together with a great cause and you have one powerful movement.

For more information or to see their documentary, click here.