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COVID Scar Tissue: Exploring Life Post Pandemic

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It’s the question every household fantasizes about these days: what will you do after COVID 19 is in the rearview? Friends are anxious to get reacquainted. Sports fans cannot wait to go to a baseball game. Some can’t wait to book a trip somewhere far away. It is fun to think of, for sure. But the more you think about that question, the more you must consider what life will truly be like on the other side of this pandemic.

Will there be sold-out concerts with thousands in attendance?

Will you want a big 4th of July party?

Experts say the ripples of COVID 19 will be felt long after the pandemic is over, suggesting that we will, in fact, be looking at a new normal.

The Great Depression was a defining moment in American history. Children born around this time would live to see America at its most prosperous. Like every other home on the block, their homes would eventually have televisions and microwaves – a car in every driveway. Traveling cross country and overseas was easier and cheaper than ever before. But still, they grew up knowing the value of a dollar. These children would grow up to be the grandparents who give ‘a shiny quarter’ to their eye-rolling grandkids. This was because they remembered a time when things weren’t so good.

In the same way, the COVID-19 pandemic will be the defining moment of this generation. Its effects still haven’t been fully realized, but they are seeping through our daily lives.

Did it feel strange to you when you last saw a large crowd in a movie or tv show?

Wave Goodbye to the Handshake

Many have surmised that the handshake should have gone out the door a long time ago. In a paper published in 2014, Dr. Mark Sklansky cites that the risks of spreading pathogens should supersede the urge to shake hands. His paper specifically dismantles the efficacy of handshaking between doctors and patients but speaks more broadly. “Hands are warm and wet, and we know they transmit disease very well,” says Sklansky. “They’re a phenomenal vector for disease.”

“I don’t think we should ever shake hands again, to be honest with you,” Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The world after COVID may be one without social touching. Hugs, high fives, and pats on the back could be met with a cringe, but this could lead to further effects. Why do people shake hands and touch people in the first place?

Like speaking, body connection is a form of language dating back thousands of years. It’s an evolutionary practice, even seen in other primates. “We know that nonhuman primates use social touch a lot through grooming,” says Juulia Suvilehto, a researcher at Linköping University in Sweden. “It’s a way of making allies and maintaining relationships.

Tiffany Field is the director of touch research at the University of Miami School of Medicine. She explains that touch also reduces aggression. “When you’re touching someone, it’s very hard to be aggressive towards them.” Field explains results from a study in which they separated monkeys between a wall of plexiglass. “If you separate two monkeys and they can see, hear, and smell each other, but they can’t touch each other, once you remove the plexiglass, they practically kill each other.” What does this mean for the future of human interaction? For one thing, that awkward moment when you shake someone’s hand who offers a fist bump may be replaced by someone not knowing how to refuse a handshake politely.

More Prepared… Maybe

Software engineer turned philanthropist Bill Gates has been heavily involved in the COVID conversation. He suggests that our society will be more prepared for the next big disaster coming down the pike. “We’ll have practiced,” Gates said on the first episode of his new podcast, Bill Gates and Rashida Jones Ask Big Questions. “We’ll have done disease games like war games, and almost every country will respond like South Korea, or Australia did where you’re very quickly testing people and quarantining people. And our tools will be much better.” Much like the grandmother who saves her quarters, we’ll be ready if something similar comes back. But there’s another side to that quarter.

Katherine Hirschfeld, a medical anthropologist at the University of Oklahoma isn’t so optimistic. According to Hirschfeld, an increase in misinformation could lead to further political divide and future outbreaks. We will likely see “increased political division and economic inequality in the United States and elsewhere, with the basic science of epidemiology and public health attacked and undermined by conspiracy theories spread on social media,” she explains. “If this sounds unusually grim, it may be due to my years of research exploring post-Soviet conflicts, when many multicultural countries fell apart in warring factions that triggered epidemics of easily preventable diseases.” Grim indeed.

It’s Not All Bad

Society has taken measures to adapt during COVID that may have some positive lasting results. More businesses than ever are benefiting from a work-from-home model. A Gartner survey reported that 80% of the company leaders they polled plan to allow their employees to continue to work at least part-time remotely. Why? Because it’s good for business. According to Global Workplace Analytics, 94% of surveyed employers report has been the same or higher since allowing remote work.

The effects ripple on. With more remote work comes fewer cars on the road. Fewer cars mean less traffic and fewer carbon emissions. According to nature.com, after rising for decades, global carbon dioxide emissions dropped 6.4% during the pandemic. The United States wins the award for most improved with a 13% decrease. The average American household has 1.88 vehicles as of last year. Could a world without everyone commuting to work mean less of a need for multi-car homes?

Bill Gates is thinking even bigger. If companies aren’t making their employees come into the office, it won’t matter where they are headquartered. The draw of the big cities will have less of a pull. Employees won’t feel the need to stay close. “In the cities that are very successful… even for a person who’s well paid, they’re spending an insane amount of their money on rent.” This could be no more.

Education Made Accessible

Among the employees working from home, teachers are also finding their footing in a changing landscape. And so are the students. The COVID lockdowns have been inconsistent and seemingly unpredictable in the last year. A student in Virginia had a very different go of it than a student in California. Schools across the country have endured some combination of class cancellations, remote learning, and learning on-premise. But while the education system has struggled to get its footing, some are seeing the silver lining.

Anna Mueller, a sociologist at Indiana University Bloomington, speaks about the upside. “The pandemic has shown us how online teaching can be a tool that makes the classroom more accessible, particularly for students with disabilities. In the past, I’ve had students who sometimes struggled to attend class because they were coping with anxiety or living with significant pain. They needed my empathy and flexibility with class attendance but still missed the classroom experience. I now realize how easy it is to turn on a camera and pop on a microphone so they can join from the comfort of their homes.”

Mario Luis Small is a sociologist at Harvard. He suggests that secondary education may be in store for a radical makeover. “COVID-19 has shown that a lot, though by no means all, of higher instruction can happen online. Parents and students will likely ask how much of the on-campus experience is truly needed and demand alternatives.”

A New Kind of Sport

In the months after the pandemic has dissipated, there will no doubt a surge in attendance at concerts in sporting events. Those who associate summer days with hot dogs and baseball and cold Sundays with tailgating a football game are anxious to spend too much money on a beer at a game. But while these traditional sports are awaiting a resurgence, another kind of sport has been getting bigger and bigger.

Esports have boomed during the pandemic. Video gaming enthusiasts have gathered online to watch the pros play video games like Call of Duty, Overwatch, Minecraft, and thousands of more games. Viewership skyrocketed during the pandemic. StreamHatchet reports a jump in esports from 4.8 billion hours viewed in the first quarter of 2020 to 7.6 billion. Philadelphia is currently building a $50 million esports arena right next to all of their other major sports venues. It seems esports are here to stay.

Turning the Page

While everyone is excited for this chapter of society to be over, no one truly knows what to expect. What will vacations be like? What about birthday parties? Things may never truly be the same. But while some muscles may atrophy, others will strengthen. Will we see a bigger emphasis on family life as we all spend more time at home? Maybe the creativity world gets a spark as more people rely on their own faculties to entertain themselves. As the saying goes, only time will tell.

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Lifestyle

Best Zoom Fails

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As our stay-at-home situation continues, expect the ongoing online classes, meetings, conferences, interviews, and virtual court sessions. Although Zoom greatly benefited us through these trying times, there are always some epic fail moments that we wished never happened. Well, that’s the downside of video calls. No wonder I’m always paranoid if my webcam or mic is turned off. Here’s 10 of the best zoom fails on the internet we can learn from: 

Zooming While Driving

It’s ironic how a state senator drives while on a video meeting. As the video gains attention online, Sen. Brenner clarifies that he wasn’t distracted while driving. His focus is on the road while listening to the meeting. However, it’s amusing to watch the senator multitask the Zoom meeting and his driving. Well, that’s a busy life for you. 

“I’m Not A Cat” 

Lawyer Rod Ponton accidentally entered the virtual court case in a cute kitten filter. It’s funny how his frantic voice matches the worried expression on the filter. The highlight of this video is when the lawyer assures he’s not a cat. Well, don’t worry. I’m sure the judge is aware you’re not a different species. 

The Bathroom Trip

Aside from being one of the best zoom fails ever, it’s also the one mistake we never want to make. It’s unavoidable to visit the bathroom once nature calls. However, this Zoom meeting suddenly went wrong when Jennifer forgot to turn off her camera. Imagine the embarrassment once she realized her colleagues joined her bathroom trip. Yikes. 

Rocco’s Parliament Debut

Rocco, a UK parliament member’s cat, decides to interrupt the meeting while flexing its tail to the other members. It’s funny how John Nicolson casually said, “I apologize for my cat’s tail,” once he noticed the slight interruption. Well, the perks of working from home with your pet, never a dull moment.  

I Can See Your Underwear!

Another perk of working from home is never wearing pants. But, of course, you don’t have to broadcast it to everyone to see. This is not a Zoom fail video, but it’s too good not to include on the list. The lesson of this Google Hangouts call? Never forget to end the call once you’re done with the team meeting.

Always Double-Check Your Zoom Name

It’s always an awkward moment if your Zoom screen name is not appropriate to be used for formal meetings. So aside from your microphone and webcam, never forget to double-check your name.

“Are you okay? You’re upside-down.” 

Another filter failure strikes when Tom Emmer, a Republican lawmaker, got stuck upside down during a virtual meeting. This is one of the reasons why we need to double-check our equipment before an important meeting. The best part? His colleagues reassure Tom by saying, “at least you’re not a cat.” 

“Did he fall?”

This video features a teacher trying to get his students engaged in his class. First, he jokes that he’s at the ledge of the Empire State Building. Then, he continues by faking that he’s falling, but the joke turns real when he falls off his chair. At least he made his students laugh, right? 

Zoom Fail Double-Kill 

@michael_winner21

Not 200 people witnessing the most embarrasing thing that has ever happened to me #zoom #fail #embarrased #college #FallDIY #ThatWitch #fyp #trending

♬ original sound – Michael Winner

Yes, another TikTok failed. If you think painting your face blue will go unnoticed in your Zoom class, well, think again. If you believe that’s embarrassing, how about panicking and ranting on TikTok while thinking the mic is off? 

This Zoom is an instant double-kill for this poor soul. It keeps getting worse! If you make sure to follow these simple rules, you’ll avoid being listed on the best Zoom fails list.

Working from home? Learn how to optimize your at-home workspace.

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The Official Rules to Binge-Watching with Your Significant Other

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It’s happened to all of us. You started binge-watching a show with your significant other, and then somebody does the unthinkable: They watch an episode without you. Or the last episode you watched ended on a crazy cliffhanger, and you can’t wait to see what happens next, but your partner is dragging their feet to watch again. This is unacceptable.

But it’s not their fault. It’s not like there are official rules to binging TV with your partner. We’ve all just been navigating this crazy, crazy world on our own. Well, I’ve changed all that. After time and thoughtful consideration, I have prepared a list of rules to clear up any discrepancies and settle all disputes. So read below and share with your partner. I present to you, once and for all, the Official Rules to Binge-Watching with Your Significant Other.

1.    The Pilot Episode Principal

You and your significant other cannot officially commit to binge-watching a show until after you have both assessed the first episode. Maybe you and your significant other set out to watch that epic fantasy show with all the violence and nudity that ended a few years ago. Or maybe you want to catch up on the superhero show so you can watch the finale at the end of the week in real-time. Either way, you need a taste of the show before you join in on this adventure.

Watch the first episode together and talk about it before committing.

What did you think?

How did you both feel about it? Did the show grab you? Do you both like the genre? Was it too confusing? Did you like the humor? These are the questions to ask each other before watching the next episode. You might not be completely sold on the show. One might like it more than the other, and that’s fine. More on that later. Just get a gauge for your partner’s interest. Maybe she laughed harder than you did. Maybe he’s more into than you.

2.    Thou Shalt Not Cheat

Here it is in writing: No watching the show without your significant other. This cannot be stated enough. Watching the show by yourself is a HIGH CRIME. This is akin to infidelity. Once the trust is broken, it is difficult to regain.

The Sleeping Amendment

It’s 3 am, and you’re 6 episodes into your binge. Your favorite character walks in on his best friend in bed with his wife. Before the best friend can say anything, your character reaches in the dresser, pulls out a revolver, and shoots them both dead! Your jaw drops. You can’t believe it. You look at your girlfriend to see her reaction… and she’s snoring. Credits roll, and Netflix asks:

That question is for both of you. Translation: your binge-watching is over for the night. You cannot continue to the next episode while your significant other is sleeping. You may, however, finish any episode that you started together. It doesn’t matter if they fell asleep with ten minutes left or if they fell asleep during the opening credits. So, it is written.

3.    It’s Called Binge-Watching. Not Snacking.

You’ve both agreed to binge? Great, now get on with it. But remember, they call it binge-watching for a reason. The term binging refers to indulging in an activity to excess. Binge drinking does not mean a glass of wine with dinner. No one binge eats a salad. Similarly, you don’t binge-watch a show one episode at a time.

Netflix, Hulu, Amazon: they all conveniently have an automatic ‘Play Next’ feature. It’s there for a reason. You might not get to watch a whole season in a sitting. Maybe one evening, you only have time for a single episode. And that’s okay. But burning through the show as quickly as possible is the goal.

4.    The Mercy Rule

If you have committed to binge-watching a show with your significant other, but over time you realize that you’re just not feeling it as much as they are, cut it loose. I know you value the quality time with your partner as much as the show itself, but sometimes it’s okay to let it go. Tapping out of a binge is the respectable and dignified course of action. In doing so, you give your significant other permission to go on without you and watch the show in their spare time.

In doing so, three provisions come forward:

  1. You, henceforth known as the Quitter, may request a recap of what you missed should you decide to jump back in.
  2. The Quitter may watch the show on their own time should they wish to catch up, but their significant other is NOT REQUIRED to rewatch with them.
  3. The Quitter is not expected to watch the show during quality time. They gave up on the show; it is no longer their cross to bear.

5.    The Statute of Limitations

Sometimes life gets in the way of what’s really important. Maybe you picked up an extra shift, or you need to help your sister and her boyfriend move because he’s a scrawny loser who doesn’t have any friends to help. These things happen. But binging with your partner should take some priority. If your partner is consistently waiting for you to make time to watch your show together, resentment builds. Agree on a maximum acceptable time between viewings. This is different for every couple. Whether it’s two days or a week, set a cap for time off. If the said time has elapsed, either party is free to ignore the Cheater Rule.

6.    After Binge-Watching, Never Fall Behind Again

If you and your partner binge-watch to catch up on a show that is on air, you have not graduated to the status of a ‘regular viewer.’ This is an elite status that is not as common as it was 20 years ago. Some people prefer to wait for a show to end before they binge the whole thing from start to finish. But for those who enjoy a regular viewer status get to talk about the show with other viewers in real-time. You can talk about the latest episode at work, and you no longer have to run from spoilers. That’s why it is important to stay caught up on the show.

Should you and your partner miss the show when it airs (or when you agree to watch it), you have until the airing of the next episode to watch the show together. If you still haven’t watched the last episode before the day of the new episode, both parties can catch up on their own. If you couldn’t spare an hour all week, that’s on you.

By Reading This You Have Officially Agreed to These Rules for Binge-Watching

There you have it. No longer will you be able to hide behind your ignorance. These rules have been made clear. Now that you and your partner have read these rules, the slate is officially wiped clean. Any grudges or punishments for past injustices are no longer valid. But from now onward, both parties are expected to binge by the rules.

Be sure to check back with us for our upcoming article on Amendments, Exceptions, and Acceptable Punishments.

Looking for a comprehensive list on all the streaming services and their prices? Check out this article.

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Lifestyle

Staycation: My Ultimate Guide to the Best Holiday at Home

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Going on a staycation isn’t exactly new. But at the height of the pandemic, it has slowly become a norm for those who want to have a relaxing time yet have limited mobility. If you are not used to this type of R & R, I got you covered. I have here the ultimate guide for a staycation so that you can enjoy it and at the same time, temporarily forget your worries. These tips are lifted from my current staycation, so I know that it works. 

What is a Staycation? 

When I say staycation, this refers to a vacation typically near your home. It’s a practical way to remove stress, and it’s also more eco-friendly considering won’t leave much of a carbon footprint. Some choose nearby hotels or bed and breakfast, while others have staycations at their home. 

Whatever your choice is, you can always make your staycation worthwhile with the tips below. 

Start Unplugging and Enjoy a Social Media-Free Day

I hate to break this to you, but social media can be stressful. You get to see a lot of unverified news, which can also target your emotional and mental well-being. Also, there’s a possibility that you compare your life with others. You start to feel that you are not good enough because you can’t afford the same things that your friends could. Again, this isn’t healthy. 

When you have a staycation, it’s the perfect time to unplug. Instead, you can go back to reading or writing in your journal. If you haven’t been meditating in a while,  you could take advantage of this opportunity. 

You will soon realize that there’s no need to constantly scroll down through your feed. And what matters most is the life off-screen rather than the one deliberately posted for online followers.  

Work Out a Budget

Many people think that staycations are cheap. But this is not always the case, and the overall cost will depend on your chosen location and accommodation. Having said that, you need to determine a decent budget. That way, you won’t have to worry if you wish to have awesome food delivered to your room or if you want to buy an expensive bottle of champagne. 


You might think this isn’t practical. But quite frankly, splurging once in a while could be healthy. It helps you enjoy your hard-earned money. And it keeps you motivated to work smarter so you can have more.   

Unless you are going to stay at home, then building a huge budget might not be necessary. 

Set an Out of Office Response

Don’t forget to draft an automatic out of office response on your email. A staycation is no different from a traditional vacation where people don’t want to get bothered by problems, especially from work. 

To manage expectations and set boundaries, make sure that you create your OoO response ahead of time. Of course, do not forget to add an emergency contact number and highlight that this is just for urgent matters. Let the people know that you would rather not get disturbed and that you will get back to them once you are done with your well-deserved time off.     

Pre-Select Movies and TV Series to Watch

Have you ever experienced spending several minutes just to find the right movies and TV series to watch? I know I’m not the only ones. The thing is, your staycation time is limited. Would you want to spend 30 minutes of your time just choosing? 

A simple solution is to pre-select these before your staycation date. Write it down or add it to your playlist. That way, you can just turn on the TV, lounge on the couch or bed, and start stuffing yourself with pizza or popcorn – or whatever sinful food you desire.    

Consider Your Kids When Planning

As adults, we often look forward to a day of doing nothing. But if you have kids, things are different. They will eventually get bored, and chances are, they will throw tantrums for hours. 

A win-win situation is to think of activities that will keep them preoccupied as you try to enjoy your free time. If possible, look for accommodation where facilities are ideal for kids. Or if you can bring board games, Legos, or even coloring books, these should work just fine. 

Call Local Attractions Ahead of Time 

Ideally, staycations are meant to be spent in rooms where you can just relax and slowly enjoy every minute. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you can’t and won’t go out. Writing down nearby local attractions is a good idea so you can have a backup plan just in case you run out of good movies to watch or activities to do. 

Since the pandemic is still happening, you might want to call in advance and check if the attractions are open. Likewise, try to know their restrictions so you can prepare ahead.

Invite A Good Friend

You might also want to share your staycation experience with a friend. The advantage of inviting someone is that you can split the expenses and you can do more with your budget. 

However, you need to carefully choose whom to invite. As much as possible, they should respect your personal time and will give you space even if you are staying in just one room.  

Take Loads of Photos 

Don’t forget to take a lot of pictures as you enjoy your staycation. But be careful not to make it too orchestrated. Just act normally and try to capture the best moments whether you are doing it on your own or if you are with your friends and family. 

It’s always a great idea to keep happy moments so you can get back to it if ever you feel down. It keeps you inspired as well. Your photos are not just for your IG followers but for yourself. 

Have Fun! 

Like going on a conventional vacation, a staycation needs a lot of preparation. Sure, you can be impulsive and book a hotel room right away, but that could place a huge dent in your budget. As a rule of thumb, plan it ahead of time, set a budget, and enjoy. After all, you deserve it.

Check out this article on why you need to chill while on vacation.

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