Tag Archives: covid19

My latest attempt at being healthy… foiled. Thanks Covid.

I don’t know about you, but I have had moments in my life where I went something like “Alright! Enough. Time to implement healthy habits into my life! Time to be awesome!” and you would go out to try to implement something healthy like a new hobby, habit or something. Well this blog is inspired by such moment that happened to me recently.

For the Runners out there…

I appreciate you. You are the pinnacle that I aspire towards, although I will not *run* after you to get there (get it? haha. sorry). Many people I know have become regular joggers, running at least several times a week to be healthy and the such. I have infact attempted something similar, but after running for 10 minutes, I realized that you get nowhere and everything hurts. So for those runners out there, I salute your efforts.

Last year I lived in Florida for a time and was able to get a bicycle to ride around. And I soon fell in love with biking. Not only do you exercise, but you actually get places too! I was able to go to parks that were miles away. Stores to get snacks and just go biking to clear my mind. Eventually I moved back to Minnesota, and have been planning to get a solid bike for myself here too.

A little look at how happy I was in Florida. I had a bike, a Uke, and the sunrise on the beach.

More reasons to have Coronavirus

I had a rise in inspiration and desire to start biking again, and in that spirit, I went bike shopping. Turns out, there is a massive bike shortage going on! See the link below detailing information on why and what is going on:


So as of today, I am bummed out. I WANT to start biking again, and I will probably resort to borrowing a bike like I did in Florida. But still, its sucks. Out of all the supply chain issues to be had, why did bikes have to be impacted too! For all those who did get a bike during the pandemic… good on you. For me, the wait continues.

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!

Twin Cities Takes Care: mRNA vaccines

2020 will be remembered as a year of many things. One of those would be the COVID-19 pandemic. Here we will be looking into the biggest differences with a new form of vaccine technology, and the awesome benefit that it brings with it!

The big idea with mRNA vaccines is based on HOW they cause the immune system to respond and how it trains the immune system. While more traditional vaccines tend to inject the human body with weakened strands or even dead versions of a certain disease, the mRNA vaccines tend to focus in on a protein strand, or part of it.

Traditional vaccines work as they show in cartoons or movie (for those who remember anyways) where you are injected with a weakened version of a disease, with the aim of your body having to fight it, while having an advantage. After fighting off the new infection, the body then arms itself for future battles against any such incursions moving forward.

The mRNA works in theory the same way, differing in WHAT is put into your body. Instead of teaching the body to recognize the whole part of an infectious disease without having to actually go through the struggle of fighting off the disease itself. Once injected with (most commonly) a protein strand found in a certain disease, like Covid-19, the body recognizes that there are foreign proteins present, and goes to build an immune response. The person who later encounters someone sick with COVID might pick up a thing or two, but the body immediately recognizes those same proteins in the COVID cells, and immediately goes out to protect the body, ensuring the person does not go through the struggle of learning to fight the disease.

For more information, please visit the CDC website, where they can go into further detail on the issue!


I’m Not The First To Say This But “It’s Been A Year”

March 16, 2020 was the last day I worked at the restaurant I was serving at. I didn’t know if I would be able to go back to working in this environment since I am the parent of an immunosuppressed child. Like most people I was unsure of what was to come. Unlike most people I knew that things were going to be different for a while.

How did I know everything was going to change?

As I stated previously I am the parent of an immunosuppressed child; I am also a health science major. So I had some inside perspective into medical phenomenon, knowing there was rather contagious novel virus that has made its way around the world… let’s say I had a feeling we were in for a new normal.

Our distance learning set-up

We rearranged our lives and adapted to being at home for almost everything.

After a year of this we our now having to relearn how to interact and have the opportunity to emerge from our daily comforts of home. Some now able to be around in groups maskless if vaccinated. This will be a slow re-entry for many after so much restriction and caution from this invisible enemy.

Hopefully, some of what we learned in this time will stick with us and hopefully we remember the impacts we make on each other after this year on unknowns and emerging science.

Are microtransactions in games an avenue to gambling addictions?

Everyone spends money frivolously on at least one thing. Pre-COVID, I attended the movie theatre monthly. It didn’t matter whether the movie was decent or objectively trash, it was a minor activity I could splurge an extra $20 on. Fast forward to current times, mid-COVID – I have a lot of extra cash with nowhere to go.

The inability to really “go” anywhere seems to be taking its toll on people. Recently, I had a conversation with a close friend about how their family is doing during social distancing. They stated that yes, they were worried about their family’s health, but more than anything they were concerned about their parent’s gambling addiction.

What is a gambling addiction?

Don’t most people enjoy spending a little money for the possibility of a win? My parents sometimes indulge in a scratch-off or the occasional Powerball ticket. I never thought of it as a problem, but that is most likely because my parents have the ability to say “okay, time to stop.” Gambling addictions may sound lightweight, but it’s actually quite the public health concern. It’s classified as an impulse-control disorder and can harm psychological and physical health. People with a gambling addiction struggle with the ability to stop.

And what about the symptoms? “Returning to gamble after losing money” and “lying to conceal gambling activities” sound like rather normal reactions when getting caught unnecessarily spending money, but that’s where gambling addictions become a threat. It’s hard to identify and easy to conceal. Gambling addicts may feel a personal investment in their gambling with little payout and continue to feel a sense of achievement. They may spend a large amount of money (that they may not even have) for a reward that is objectively less.

It’s not about the reward itself at that point, it becomes about the feeling of winning against small odds.

Gambling in COVID

You can imagine that having excess money accumulate over months of social distancing can make one feel as if they have more freedom to spend recklessly. While my friend’s parents haven’t been making trips to the casino as often due to COVID, they’re still getting their gambling fix through other means – smart phone app stores.

“They can find all these video games through the app store,” my friend explained. “It’s not a slot machine, but you can keep going and going until you’re satisfied with your digital reward. It’s the same thing.” Most phone apps you download nowadays have the option of paying in exchange for a little something. Microtransactions have became a norm among all apps and video games.

Micro transactions appear to bank on pushing the limitations of a person’s impulse-control. Facebook was when free games with microtransaction began (seriously, reading the history of micro transactions make you realize that Facebook games were testing the waters) but one of the most popular current forms of this are gacha games. Gacha games are free games that let you essentially “roll” for a chance to get a limited character, outfit, etc. You’re basically turning your real-world money into fake money to get an item that doesn’t exist in reality but in a digital space. With COVID and our inability to really go anywhere, this seems like a real threat for anyone trying to pass time playing any phone app or video game with microtransactions.

One such game that’s blowing up right now is Genshin Impact. The game launched late fall of 2020 and before the end of 2020 already gained around $6 million every day. Like most gacha games, Genshin Impact is free with optional microtransactions. The game’s gacha allows players to roll for characters or weapons, with rare characters and weapons changing every 2-3 weeks. One article notes:

“The game’s rarest characters and weapons have an absurdly low acquisition chance of 0.6 percent; that rises to 5.1 percent for other characters and middle-of-the-road weapons. A pity system guarantees players will unlock a rare item every 90 rolls; a more common item, every 10 rolls. Even with daily play, it could take players months to possibly acquire a specific rare character or weapon. With the game’s rarest characters (referred in-game as “5 stars”) available only for a limited period (usually three weeks), Genshin Impact is designed to perpetuate FOMO.” (Indiewire, 2020)

A 0.5 %to 5.1% chance of acquiring a digital award isn’t even 50% of a chance yet Genshin Impact is making bank. Using the idea that a player is guaranteed a rate item at some point, the game succeeds in making players feel as if they’re actually making some sort of progress by spending money. Of course that’s not to say the fault is entirely on the companies for exploiting this as people are responsible for themselves, but it’s a tactic seeped in psychology. Genshin Impact players can pay $5 for 300 Genesis Crystals (the in-game currency) to pay for extra goodies, which doesn’t seem like much until you realize that Genesis Crystals aren’t actually what is used to roll for characters. Players must exchange Genesis Crystals for Primogems at a 1:1 ratio. 160 Primogems allow players to roll a single time while 1,600 Primogems allow players to roll 10 times.

So let’s do the math. 300 Genesis Crystals gets a player 300 Primogems. It takes 160 Primogems for a single roll.

300 – 160 = 140.

300 Primogems only gives a player 1 roll with 140 Primogems leftover.

And it isn’t a coincidence that players have 140 Primogems leftover. Players can also spend $0.99 for 60 Genesis Crystals, converting into 60 Primogems. For two rolls, players can spend $6. The most expensive purchase, $99.99 for 6,480 Genesis Crystals (converting into exactly 6,480 Primogems) gives players about 40 rolls. Players are guaranteed a rare character or weapon at 90 rolls, which means that even the most expensive microtransaction doesn’t guarantee that players even get the rare item.

With the cost and low percentage of success, players are encouraged to spend money again and again. This definitely reads like a slots machine at a casino – each machine is programmed to reward less than the money put in, which gives the casino profit. The slim chance of winning doesn’t even register for most people as they believe “it’s just $5″ until it turns into “it’s just $100.”

Microtransactions in videogames can put anyone at risk of developing a gambling addiction under the innocent visuals. Of course there are precautions that responsible adults can take, but the problem with microtransactions in games is its accessibility. This could be seen as an easier avenue for a gambling addiction to be born, especially because there is no age limit to an app or video game (because really – all you need is a password or a parent to buy their kid that rated M Dead by Daylight). Kids can start gaining an addiction early on and we hear plenty of stories about children spending $16k on an iPad game.

In our current day and age, there doesn’t seem to be many solutions. Every individual is different and the only thing we can really tell one another is to be mindful of spending. Recent conversations on Twitter have stirred discussions on prevention practices. I for one am trying to be a little more mindful of that excess money I mentioned earlier…especially because I play Genshin Impact. I haven’t spent any money yet, but everyday it looks tempting.

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.