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Author: kate

in which i feel sorry for my work self for a bit

in which i feel sorry for my work self for a bit

my officemate took another job after being at the college for a little over four years. i’m actually surprised he worked here for this long – he lives in the cities and it’s a long commute. plus, he has a one year old, and, as i told my old boss, it was just a matter of time. i had given him a year after his kid was born, and he surprised me with a year and four months.

it still really sucks.

when you’re a department of two, a loss of one person lays groundwork for some lonely days ahead. six months after i first started this job, my then coworker quit for another job. i had only been there for six months and didn’t know anyone well; it takes me a long time to get into a groove at a workplace, normally around three years. on top of that, i was in a remote location on campus and didn’t see much of anyone.

i remember sitting in my office one day, just doing the work i could manage to do, and i felt this overwhelming sadness. had i made the right decision leaving my other job for this one? would i ever find any work friends? what was i doing here anyway? i didn’t even know that coworker for that long, but he was at least there, and i collaborated with him on a daily basis, so i wasn’t lonely.

tonight, after a week and a half of knowing my current officemate would be leaving, i was slammed with that sense of sadness, melancholy, and loneliness again. i know that it won’t be the same this time; i’ve been here for five years, know people well, count many as friends. i’m not isolated – i share a cube wall with an IT guy and we have a wonderful time during the workday. but it’s still hard to see someone you’ve talked to on a 5-daily basis for four years, who i spend more time with than my husband (the perils of working opposite shifts). he’s one of the most complementary workmates i’ve had, skillswise, and I don’t know if finding a replacement will be easy.

my hope is that we move on hiring someone as soon as possible. i haven’t even heard the confirmation that we will replace him, and that kind of scares me. i’m being overly cynical and pessimistic about what’s going to happen in my tiny department, but i at least know that there will be support in my other coworkers.

i wish him the best, but dang this really blows.

sounds of spring

sounds of spring

tonight i went for a walk instead of a run. it was close to 80º and i needed a day to stretch out my legs with a walk. i started off listening to a podcast, but when i turned off the county road near my house and onto one of those little side country roads, i turned it off and took out my earbuds.

you see, there is a little bit of a marshland right on that road, and the frogs were out in force tonight.

one of my favorite things about spring is the sound of frogs croaking delightfully in the evening. there is a low rumble of frog croaking, with highlights of croaks that almost sound like crickets. as i walked past, the croaks paused for a moment, then started up again after i’d left the near vicinity.

compared to the silence of winter, enveloping and complete, the sounds of spring is pure cacophony. on top of the frogs, birdsong flitted through the air, the light, high-pitched tunes of songbirds. occasionally, i heard the dinosaur-like call of cranes, sounding like something otherworldly. then in the background of wildlife, the low hum of the freeway whined on, with breakout motorcycle engines revving.

i walked the rest of the way home listening to the sounds around me. it’s a weird time of year; there is no green, so it looks like november, but the light is long in the day and the air is wet and getting warmer. the hope of spring like the frogs: loud and nonstop.

now i’m in my living room with my windows open, surrounded by frogs croaking and a weird owl making a racket.

 

A Bathroom Review – or, why I don’t mind a portapotty (reprint!)

A Bathroom Review – or, why I don’t mind a portapotty (reprint!)

this is a reprint! for his birthday, my dad requested “presentations” from everyone, and this is what i chose (probably much to his dismay). i have made a couple edits since my first print of this, and i have added a postscript!

Some people are very particular about where they do their business. I know people who wouldn’t do doo-doo in a portapotty to save their lives. But when it comes down to it, everybody poos, and the end result is always the same: a pile of crap you gotta put somewhere.

During the summer of 2003, my dad planned a canoe trip to commemorate the bicentennial of Lewis and Clark floating up the Missouri river and then back down the Missouri river. He commissioned my uncles Jon and Greg, cousin Karl, and my brother (Charlie) to go with him. After sticking my nose in his canoe planning one too many times (I had, at the point, been on one canoe trip in my life), he relented and let me come too. Yes!

Looking back, it wasn’t a bad trip, but it wasn’t the greatest. There was a profound lack of estrogen in the company, my bro was a whiny little bugger, and the whole thing kind of seemed haphazardly thrown together (my dad didn’t pack any bowls… or spoons…and the menu for night two was stew). There was a lot more that happened on this trip, like the weird canoe and a Delorean, but that’s not what this story is about. This is a bathroom review. Back to the task at hand.

What was most inconvenient for me during this trip was the lack of bathroom facilities. Guys have it easy most of the time. Girls do not have it as easy.Now, I’d been on trips where the plumbing hasn’t been the greatest. Numerous times I’ve been in campgrounds where there is a vault toilet – a wooden building with a deep hole and a place to plant your butt to do your business. I’ve been out in the boundary waters where the facilities are much more open – no building whatsoever around the deep hole in the ground, but there was a place to sit. And sure, I’ve popped a squat behind a tree and visited plenty of portajohns (holding my breath, of course). At the times of these trips to the restroom, they didn’t seem like the best facilities in which to do a necessary deed. I didn’t know what was to come.

This canoe trip was entirely different than any other “roughing it” outing I’d been on. For starters, we didn’t stop at pre-assigned stops where there might be a building with a hole and a place to sit and all that jazz. We decided to stop at random spots. This, I learned much later in life, was my uncle Jon’s mojo, and I guess no one thought to question it. So, for the most part, I held it as best I could. But inevitably, ya gotta pee.

So, let me tell you about a latrine. It is literally a hole in the ground that you dig with your collapsible shovel. You choose a spot that is far enough away and shielded so that people don’t have to listen to you or watch you, but close enough so that it is easy to get to. You dig maybe a foot and a half down, and a foot diameter hole. The ousted dirt goes right next to the hole and the shovel stuck in the pile of dirt so that once you’ve finished doing your thing, you can cover it up with dirt so the next person doesn’t have to look at it or smell it.

When you head to the latrine site, you bring a roll of TP and a bottle of hand sanitizer.  Then, after finishing your business, you throw dirt in the hole. Of course, this isn’t the easiest thing to do because you’d have to dump a lot of dirt in to cover it up, and you want enough dirt to last the stay. So it’s not uncommon to smell or see past duties/doodies when your turn finally comes around. Once you’re done with your camping site, you shovel the rest of the dirt in the hole and pack it all down. Latrine!

The first night of our float was on an island with waist-high yellow mustard weeds all over that we had to stomp down to set up camp. Thankfully, it wasn’t raining, so this was easily done, and camp was set up rather quickly. That night, my cousin Karl was in charge of latrine duty.It was a quaint little latrine hole, and good start for the first night. Karl found a low-lying branch that was perfect for sitting on during your time in the latrine, and there was even a handy little jutted out branch that the TP roll fit perfectly. That night was a learning experience as I tried sitting on a bumply branchy woody piece of log to do my business. It wasn’t the most pleasant experience, but it was the better of the two nights we camped on the river.

The next night was also an island night. After a long day of canoeing into the gusty wind, a sudden storm popped up and we had to find a place to camp – fast. A little island with no trees was the choice. We camped on the lower, beachy part of the island, and the latrine for that night was on the upper, grassy part of the island, behind the biggest bush (well, the only bush). (Don’t think that this was some superlong hike up a hill to get to the bathbush – the elevation climb was maybe 6 feet.) Charlie was on latrine duty that night, and he made it quite clear that he’d found the best spot for the latrine and thank goodness he got it dug before the storm whipped through.

Except…. This latrine was literally only a hole in the ground with no convenience of branches or ANY support. Everyone peed before the rain hit that late afternoon, but the next morning the latrine was a soggy, muddy mess. A recipe for disaster, especially for a not-morning person such as myself.

There I was, in the best position I found for latrine business: one leg out of pants, squatting as best as possible, feet as far from the edges of the latrine as possible. The mud just made everything 100 times more difficult. I tried to keep my pants out of the mud and keep me out of the mud at the same time. The TP went on the bush, but there was always the possibility that IT could’ve fallen into the mud as well. As I finished my business, I suddenly lost balance. I could see my possibilities flash before my eyes. On the one hand, I could take my chances with adjusting my footing, possibly slipping feet-first into the muddy, poopy, icky latrine, or go with the sure thing and throw my exposed self the opposite way onto my pants and into the large prickly bush covering me from peering eyes. So little time, such a harrowing decision. I chose the bush.

My pants were all wet, I had prickly bush scratches all over my legs and bum, and I lost my shoe for a moment, but I was unpoop-scathed. And the TP survived.

Later that day as we floated down the final leg of our journey, we stopped for lunch at a designated rest stop on the river. And I have NEVER EVER been so thrilled to see a vault-style, hole-in-the-ground poop-station. There were walls. There was a door. There was…. an elevated place to sit. There was even a roll of toilet paper on a holder. For that moment in time, I think I reached nirvana. I at least reached civilization. Sure, it was stinky. Sure, it was probably dirty as all get out. But it was bliss.

That night, we reached the end of our river journey with flush toilets and a comfortable place to sleep, not to mention other people and a little store where you could buy junk food and other essentials you’ve missed in the wilderness. The next night, I spent a half hour in the shower at my aunt and uncle’s house washing away the five days of grime that had built up on my skin and in my hair.

Besides a horrendous sunburn on my chin and thighs, I came away relatively pleased that I went on the trip and with a greater understanding of the uses of sunblock.

Despite the scenery I witnessed, despite the ongoing bets of when my brother would give up, start crying, and throw himself into the river, and despite my awesome blistering chin, when people ask me about the trip down the Missouri River, the one story I inevitably tell is how I averted the disaster of falling into the latrine. Then I explain that I will never, ever fear a portapotty.

A post-script:

Since this trip, I’ve experience quite the array of different bathroom offerings. A few highlights on the facilities, as it were:

  1. MN State parks have quite the system with their vault toilets, and I recommend them to anyone. They are clean! If you keep the lid down, they don’t stink! They’re in every park, and I’ve actually stopped at a park just to use the vault toilet.
  2. I learned a couple summers ago that cousin Lori apparently doesn’t do vault toilets, but has a goal to pee in the woods in every state park.
  3. When in Mexico… you don’t flush toilet paper! Paper products in general aren’t great for water treatment, so much of Mexico has gone fully out-of-toilet with their paper. When you’re done, just drop your used paper in a handy wastebasket next to the toilet. It was a little weird at first, but after a while, you got used to it, and it’s better for the environment.
  4. I’ve since gone back to the boundary waters for another canoe trip, and while you may think that you don’t need that extra roll of TP to take up space in your pack, it’s probably good form to bring it just in case. By the end of the trip, we were all drip drying. Thank goodness my bowels were in discord the night BEFORE we got on the water.
  5. The portapotty status at Ragnar is definitely dependent on when they get cleaned out. Sometimes you’re lucky, and they have just unloaded the rows of portajohns and pumped in a “clean” scent, which does absolutely nothing except cover the smell of portapoos with disinfectant flowers. Or you get not so lucky and note that if you decide to use this portaloo, your bum will touch something that’s not the seat, and no thank you. I do not go THAT far. The good news is that I have noticed that the farther away the bank of johnnyonthespots, the less frequently used they are, generally, and I’m definitely willing to walk another 50’ to get to a better place to plant my bum.
  6. EXCEPT WHEN IT’S 37º OUTSIDE HOLY CRAP NO ONE WANTS TO SIT ON AN ALMOST-FREEZING TOILET SEAT, EVEN IF IT’S CLEAN, SAAADD FACE. My poor, frozen bum didn’t get warm til I got home and took a bath.
thoughts on lesley

thoughts on lesley

i checked my email this morning, and there was an update on lesley fightmaster from her husband duke.

he asked for comments about lesley to share during her memorial. here’s what i wrote. 

What I loved best about Lesley is that her practices were exactly what I needed at exactly the right time. One day, I’d had an especially disheartening review at work and was working on building myself up, but I knew that I would be all right when I brought up Fightmaster Yoga and the new video for that day was yoga for letting go.

I’ve been practicing Fightmaster Yoga since 2013, and after we lost Lesley, I considered finding a new channel. BUT – I found that grief is best spent honoring the one you lost. And so I continue to spend my evenings with Lesley. I love her gentle manner toward ourselves, I love her lilting, encouraging voice, and I love that she is there – and will be (thank you, Duke and family).

Right now I am in the middle of YogaFix90, and I felt a jolt of happiness when I heard Indy was also practicing it. And when Emma Kitty came on screen while I was watching this video, as I was petting my Stannie cat, I could do nothing but smile through tears for Lesley. I never met Lesley in person, but I do my best to honor her legacy on and off the mat.

yay axial tilt!

yay axial tilt!

too often it seems i am deriding the axial tilt rather than giving it a pat on the back occasionally. so, here’s a little ditty about the positive axial tilt we’re seeing this time of year! i know many people think daylight saving is horrible, but you know what? if i can get out of work at the end of the day and have a chance to relax just a bit and then go on a run rather than rush around to get a run in before the sun sets, I’LL TAKE IT.

so, spring is on its way. meteorological spring was march 1, and come march 20, astronomical spring will be upon us. it won’t be another month at least until the ground and grass catch up, but the birds are out there chirping away, and chipmunks are chittering and trying to take over my garage. due to the lack of snow this winter, i was able to avoid having to dig out a ditch for the snowmelt that runs down my driveway and into my pond.

and there’s definitely a lighter feeling in the air, whether it’s due to the long last year we’ve been through as a collective people with the pandemic, or i’ve just been so inured to the winter blahs* that anything different is great.

i went shopping on saturday evening, and it was definitely a different atmosphere out there (and not really for the good). i don’t know if i’d just not been out on a saturday night recently or what, but there were a lot more people out in the stores without masks, roving in gangs. i have to feel bad for the employees having to deal with this, ugh. once i get my vaccine (AS SOON AS I CAN, DAD!), i’m still wearing my dumb mask. (i also can’t imagine any of those weirdos were vaccinated – you can spot a redneck from a mile away. however, they may have had covid already.)

i was able to get out for a 7-mile run on saturday, which is the first time i’ve run that distance in probably 4-5 months. and it wasn’t bad! in fact, i’d say it was pretty good. my time was good, and my muscles were pretty chill afterward (usually my muscles are ready to poop out after mile 5, but i maybe could’ve gone another mile and been ok). we’ve got another couple chilly days coming up, but maybe wednesday and probably thursday i’ll be able to get out for an outdoor run. (the treadmill isn’t retired quite yet.)

i have a short work week this week and then on friday i’m off to st charles for birthday fun. unfortunately, my workweek is going to be nutso and i’ll be burnt out, so that 3-day weekend will probably be just me unfizzling just in time to go back to work. this is not a fun time of year at work.

anyway, this has turned into less about axial tilt, so let’s bring it back. a haiku:

yay axial tilt
slowly pushing the north to
a sunnier place

*i have said in the past that february is really the worst month, but you know one good thing about feb? the light stays up longer. it may be edging into second-to-last place. (sorry november. you lose.)

warm weekend welcome

warm weekend welcome

first of all, let’s just give a shoutout to the weather. i know it’s unrealistically optimistic march weather and there’s still a lot of opportunity for snow, but let’s take what we can get after that deep freeze we had a month ago.

so this weekend, i had my best ever 10k run at 11:12 / mile on saturday, then i went for an “easy” run on sunday and ran that at about 12/mile. this is the sort of treadmill to road transition i always hope for, and i’m not holding my breath that it will last, but i’ll take what i can get.

also this weekend, i had about 24 hours of vaccine gloriousness during which i thought i was eligible to get the covid shot for educators. i made an appointment! i was ready to go tuesday morning! i was gonna take a selfie and post it all over! but alas, i had to cancel because centracare couldn’t go against MDH rules, even though they had appointments open and are having trouble filling them.

know what this tells me? if you haven’t made an appointment yet and are in an eligible group, get your shot! (dad!)

but the highlight of my weekend was having an argument about plural possessives on twitter. like, has the general populace just never retained anything they learned in third grade? so many people just did NOT get that 43 families’ homes should not be 43 family’s homes or, weirdly enough, 43 families’ home. unless we’re talking about a housing complex. so, thanks to NPR originally for a giant typo in the article that prompted this. they could have avoided all this if they had just said 43 homes. good grief.

so, another couple warm days before we dip down to regular march temps, but that’s still better than -20, so welcome spring. in more ways that one!

idle times – a background on doldrums

idle times – a background on doldrums

whoa. so my mom requested to know more about the term “doldrums” and a whole new weather world has just opened up!

we’ve all heard doldrums: a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or depression. i think it’s safe to say that we know that it’s related to ships and sailing and no wind. but here’s some super interesting background on the doldrums: it’s actually the region of the atlantic ocean that’s over the equator, where two sets of tradewinds meet, and conditions can be all over the place.

 

 

no wind. this is a low pressure area from 5°N to 5°S of the Equator. the winds are calm, which means there’s no way for ships with sails to get moving.

tradewinds meet. the doldrums are also know as the Inter Tropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ) because of the tradewinds meeting. because of the two systems meeting, conditions can be all over the place.

it’s not good.this area of the ocean was to be avoided in sailing of yore. ships could be stranded for weeks and weeks, running out of provisions, not to mention scurvy, deliriousness, and cabin fever.

but why? this section is caused by the sun’s radiation. the heat from the sun on the equator causes the air to warm and then rise straight up instead of to either side. the tradewinds also meet here, converging and moving upward. hence, no wind to make you go. or really erratic wind! it could be nothing or it could be violent storms.

but what the heck are the horse latitudes?? the two areas above and below are known as the horse latitudes. spanish ships that were transporting horses to the colonies would get stuck in the horse latitudes, and because of the extra long voyage, the horses would die and get thrown overboard.

and it’s kind of unpredictable. the doldrums can change with the season, and it’s susceptible to the temperature of the ocean. sometimes it can double, one on the north and the other on the south side of the equator.

weirdly enough, the etymology of doldrum is surprisingly late, considering how many ships were out sailing the atlantic before the birth date of doldrums: 1803. could be that the word had been in use for some time but hadn’t been written down.

and, in a neat convergence (unlike those tradewinds), doldrum comes from the word “dulled” and “tantrum”.

the oldest written sample i found on an etymology site was in a poem: “if you’ve the doldrums or ennui (!), forsake the town and come to me.” (a marine picture)

in related news, it’s kind of amazing how much land is ABOVE the equator. and also how big the pacific ocean is.

doldrums

doldrums

the only saving grace that february has is that the sunlight is out substantially longer than the previous two months. i’m so happy that i still see a glimpse of the gloaming after 6:30 these days. but THANKS climate change for this absurd weather. there’s maybe 2″ of snow on the ground outside, and then it’s -40 for like, two weeks. whatever, weather. and then tomorrow (feb. 22), it’s supposed to be 40º after we had highs in the sub-zeroes for like, a week.

i’ve been plugging away on the treadmill, and just tonight i was like, is this ever going to end? i’m about at the end of my treadmill rope for the season, so it’s a good thing march is right around the corner. march is fickle running time, and it’s always difficult to dress for running in march. but i’ll take it over the treadmill. plus, now that i have my handy sports mask, that will help out with breathing in cooler air.

i started the most difficult puzzle i’ve done so far. it’s a collage of seed catalogs, so they all look similar, and it’s all vegetables. so while i’m getting inspired for spring, i’m also getting annoyed with the puzzle part of it. i’m slowly getting through it, though. can you tell i’m struggling for blog posts? ha! it’s a sad day when i have to wax non-eloquent about my puzzling in my blog.

i’m getting burnt out at my job. ugh. maybe a change in seasons will help. there’s a lot going on and not enough peoplepower behind the projects.

just 3 months until vacation! i’ll keep that in my sights as a thing to get me through the doldrums of the season!

PS

PS

i was on the treadmill running away, happily covid free because i was breathing like normal, when i realized that i forgot a MAJOR component of my covid post!

but it’s going into my body

ugh, i hear/read this over and over: it’s unnatural and it’s going in my body blah blah blah. you know what else is unnatural that we put in our bodies?

plastic.

microplastic is found in lungs, liver, spleen, and kidneys in donated human cadavers. which means the probability of you having plastic built up in your body is pretty good. the average person ingests about 5 grams of plastic every week (equivalent to a credit card!).

cigarette/cigar smoke, a carcinogen and tar-ridden. that causes lung cancer.

processed food in general is not healthy.

trans fats are awful for you.

and that doesn’t include all the things we do to our bodies physically, like botox, metal plates, implants, reconstruction, any type of surgery.

if you’ve ever smoked, eaten margarine, american cheese, or anything with high fructose corn syrup, or just lived recently (apparently that does it), i’m going to say that you shouldn’t worry AT ALL about sticking your arm with an approved vaccine.

in which i talk about the covid vaccine and peer pressure you!

in which i talk about the covid vaccine and peer pressure you!

i am pro-science. there’s never been any doubt that once the covid vaccine becomes available for me, i will get it. once it opens up for the public at large – for healthy, low-risk people – i will get up at 4:30 a.m. to get in on an online lottery if i need to, for as many days as it takes. i will get that vaccine and not think twice about it.

with the current anti-vaxx movement and people questioning the speed at which this one was approved, i though it would be useful to do a little research for you all on how the advances in medicine are such that vaccines can be produced at this rate. i’ve read headlines and tweets from scientists, but a deep dive into the actual science (i’m assuming my readers all still believe in science) would also be helpful for me.

but first, an aside. i had listened to a podcast recently about the “godfather of vaccines” (click to listen to it! super interesting) who basically came up with all our childhood vaccines (MMR, etc.) and wanted to know the public’s reaction to the polio vaccine. polio was a devastating disease, and i’d heard that parents all over the country volunteered their children for vaccine trials to make sure the vaccine was safe before distribution. so i called my dad to see what the public sentiment was surrounding the polio vaccine, since it seemed that the public sentiment surrounding the covid vaccine was one of trepidation, at best, for a lot of people.

my dad said that it was like a giant sigh of relief for everyone once the polio vaccine was available. so i wondered why we don’t have the same reaction today, and my mom got on the phone and talked about something that i think needs to be shared. modern medicine is amazeballs. people don’t realize how bad it WAS and that our advances in the past 40-50 years have been just outrageous. then i watched a video from john green (my fave youtuber) about vaccines and he mentioned that the advances in VACCINE medicine in even the past TEN YEARS is such that a pandemic in 2010 would be much more devastating because we wouldn’t have a vaccine as quickly.

here’s his video:

so, that’s one long introduction for a post that may be long as it is.

let’s get into the science behind the covid vaccine, why it was produced so quickly, and whether or not you should take it (i can predict that yes, yes you should take it). please let me know if i’ve got anything wrong here; i’m a summarizer and researcher, not a scientist.

how it works

the covid vaccine uses new technology that’s actually been around and studied for a while, mRNA vaccines. the vaccine you get for mumps, measles, rubella, flu, etc., uses the actual live virus to prompt your immune system to recognize it and create antibodies that resist the virus when it attacks full bore. it’s just a little bit, which is the reason you may feel a little flu-ish after getting the flu shot, but it’s a much better than getting the full-on flu.

the mRNA instead just send instructions to our cells on how to make a piece of protein that triggers an immune response, which prompts the antibodies to protect us. after the protein is made, our cells break down the instructions from the shot and get rid of them (think of all the other stuff your cells get rid of – this is nothing).

how it came to be

mRNA stands for messenger RNA. the covid vaccine is the first vaccine that’s been approved using this technology, though scientists have been working with it for many years. a hungarian scientist named katalin kariko* had been working in the 90s to get grants, funding, and even support for mRNA. it made sense – naturally, your body relies on proteins to keep health, and it uses mRNA to tell cells which proteins to make. if science could design specific mRNA, you could create any protein that helps keep you healthy, reverse diseases, mend damaged tissue. in 1990, it worked in mice. but synthetic RNA had one problem – the body’s natural defenses would likely destroy it before it had a chance to do its thing.

katalin ran into barrier after barrier. no funding, demotions, ridicule. instead of giving up, she pressed on, and about 10 years after trial and error, she was working with an immunologist MD/PhD when they discovered the way around the problem. in its synthetic form, mRNA was signaling the immune system with one of the four nucleosides, but they substituted it for a slightly tweaked hybrid version that could bypass the body’s defenses (biology was a long time ago for me and probably you too; let’s just take her word for it that this makes sense, since she’s the scientist and expert).

starting in 2005, several scientific papers described the process, and that was the start of a big vaccine advancement. two scientists grabbed onto it as a way to create stemcells. when they were able to do this, they went to visit a biomedical engineer at MIT, who recognized the technology as a way to pretty much have a huge number of applications to save lives. they created moderna, (which, haha, contains the letter mRNA).

this biotech was mostly being experimented with for immunotherapy, not vaccines. this required several doses over and over, and at high levels of the mRNA. that was proving to be difficult to work around the immune reactions, like katalin had found a workaround for.  so instead, they had to focus on using the biotech for something that only took one or two low-dose injections for an effect: vaccines.

why it was so quick

the technology is much quicker than using a live virus to create a vaccine, so that was one reason a vaccine came to the public so quickly. another was that this was FUNDED. i saw a tweet from a scientist who works in the field, saying that half the time they spend working on new breakthroughs is waiting and applying for grants and funding.

but why does a live/inactivated virus take so long to develop in the first place, in comparison to the mRNA? vaccines can take 20+ years to develop and get approved! the HPV vaccine took 26 years. rotavirus took 25. they still don’t have one for AIDS.

using the actual virus in a vaccine means that a lot more can go wrong. they need a LOT of testing and can take years. plus, they need to be able to mass-produce the actual proteins for the virus, and the mRNA vaccine just uses the genetic material to signal to our cells to create the proteins, which is easier to mass-produce.

then there’s testing. since this was a world-wide pandemic, finding volunteers to test the vaccine after animal testing was easy. this is done in three phases, and phase three is time consuming. they have to wait for enough participants to be exposed to a virus naturally. well, considering that covid was/is rampant and people have trouble even wearing a mask, i think phase three moved along more quickly than normal.

plus, scientists had been working on vaccines for other coronaviruses. they’d been working on SARS and MERS in 2003 and 2012, but stopped when the outbreaks were under control. scientists knew what to target and how to stabilize it.

as far as production, because manufacturers don’t know what vaccines will be approved when, they’re reluctant to invest in prepping for making the vaccines.

but, because this was widespread, everything sort of happened quickly and absolute MORE quickly than we expected. the science was there. the prep work was partially done. the demand was there. the funding was there. and through it all, covid was there.

the results

when covid first hit, we were told that it would at least 18 months for a vaccine, if not longer. but in late 2020, pfizer announced its trials were over and the mRNA vaccine was 90%+ effective after two doses. the FDA was ready to approve a vaccine that was 50% effective. the vaccine has not actually been 100% approved yet but is being used under the emergency use authorization, which is NORMAL. don’t let that deter you at all.

many people have already had the vaccine and had no ill effects. we may hear about people that have had ill effects after getting the vaccine, but one does need to take a look at what the chances of that ill effect happening WITHOUT the vaccine. if 2% of the population gets a heart attack every day, having gotten the vaccine a week before does not change that percentage. it would’ve happened with or without the vaccine.

the benefits of the vaccine GREATLY outweigh any potential risks.

final thoughts

like i said, as soon as i am eligible to get a vaccine, i’m going to be first in line. after reading about side effects in the lungs that last and last and last, and how every single thing i read about runners who’ve had to take baby steps to get back to where they were before they had covid, along with heart problems?? (and we’re talking every. single. runner. , no matter how bad their covid was) come on, there’s not a lot as far as short-term side effects that i wouldn’t take to make sure i avoid all that. i had absolutely no adverse effects from my flu shot this year, so i’m guessing i’d probably be ok with a covid shot.

and you would too. if there’s ever a time to succumb to my peer pressure, now would be it.

and let me say, i am kind of excited about this new mRNA biotechnology. if they can cure cancers and autoimmune diseases with cell-specific therapy instead of blasting us with radiation and chemotherapy and drugs with awful side effects, that’s the kind of future i want to live in.

science for the win.

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*you will note that i only mention her by name, as she was the one who persevered with this science. she deserves all the credit.

sources:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/different-vaccines/mrna.html

The story of mRNA: How a once-dismissed idea became a leading technology in the Covid vaccine race

Why Does It Take So Long to Develop a Vaccine?

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