Pierce Pioneer

Dogecoin: The Joke Worth Almost $50 Billion

What is Bitcoin and how to get your hands on it?

 

What started as a joke has now turned into a worldwide asset valued at almost $50 billion. 

The cryptocurrency Dogecoin has gained national attention for its massive gains of more than 6000% this year alone. According to CoinMarketCap, Dogecoin rose from less than a penny to over 25 cents. For being so cheap, Dogecoin is something that almost anyone can get their hands on.

 

How did it start?

such wallet, very blockchain, good boi
An example of the Doge internet meme.

In 2013, software engineers Billy Marcus and Jackson Palmer created a cryptocurrency as a tribute to the popular “doge” meme that year. The meme purposely misspelled the word dog to describe the Shiba Inu character that is the face of the cryptocurrency. Since then, the cryptocurrency has remained cheap but has gained support and usage through Reddit by tipping artists and meme accounts.

 

Who is involved?

The most predominant figure to push for the investment in Dogecoin has been Tesla CEO Elon Musk. With over 50 million followers on Twitter, Musk continued to tweet sometimes cryptic and subtle messages in his support for the cryptocurrency. Since his involvement in 2021, the value of Dogecoin has skyrocketed.

Dogecoin is the people's crypto
A tweet from Elon Musk advocating Dogecoin.

Additionally, Dogecoin has seen a push due to the involvement of the cult status Reddit group WallStreetBets. This group was most recently responsible for the push against Wall Street hedge funds over GameStop and AMC stock that made big money investors lose billions. The internet messaging board has remained a stronghold for organized investing and rises in quirky companies like Dogecoin.  

 

How does it work?

Similar to Bitcoin, Dogecoin runs on a blockchain system that is a secure digital archive that records transactions. This secure ledger provides copies of the transactions for all to see which acts as a proof of work system.

People known as “miners” must use high-powered computers to solve complex math equations that add to the blockchain and process transactions. For completing these math equations, the answer is then confirmed by other miners and the correct miner receives Dogecoin in return to sell or keep. Very few people can access these computers as they are expensive and require an immense amount of electricity.

 

How does Bitcoin compare?

Dogecoin is often compared to the popular cryptocurrency Bitcoin, which has exploded in value since its creation in 2009. Bitcoin started at only more than a few cents but has now peaked over $50,000 per share in 2021. Both are digital currencies but have a few significant differences.

The first is the fact that Dogecoin doesn’t have a set amount of coins to max out at. Bitcoin has a lifetime cap of 21 million coins, which means that miners will have to work longer and harder to add to the currency’s blockchain. 

On the other hand, Dogecoin doesn’t have a lifetime cap and the market sees an average of 5 billion coins issued every year. Making it harder to crack open more Bitcoin has added to its value gain, while Dogecoin has seen a minuscule increase in comparison.

Furthermore, it is easier to add to Dogecoins blockchain than it is for Bitcoin. Comparatively, according to Forbes, it takes around 10 minutes to confirm a transaction and add to the blockchain, while only taking one minute on the Dogecoin blockchain. This adds to the number of Dogecoins available and makes transactions significantly easier than its crypto competitor. 

 

Where can you buy it?

To buy direct Dogecoin, crypto exchanges such as Binance or Kraken provide the opportunity to do so. With the usage of a debit or credit card, you can directly purchase Dogecoin and set up an account to house your funds. From there it is advised to move your coins into a crypto wallet that protects against hacks and is transported to your smartphone. Other than buying direct Dogecoin, some online brokers such as Robinhood or E-Trade sell Dogecoin and treat your investment like stocks.

Those who joined the Dogecoin craze in 2021 have seen significant gains, but the risk in investing in cryptocurrency is still high. Compared to other cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin or Ethereum, Dogecoin has the threat of major inflation and lack of maximization. Yet the reward may outweigh the risk as many are getting their hands on a meme dog currency that has attracted the support from billionaires to college kids. It’s not too late to take a chance to get involved in the crypto-craze that has risen to fame.

Students and professors share their experiences switching from in-person classrooms to fully virtual learning one year after the fact

On March 16, 2020 Pierce College closed its campuses to students following the sudden uprising of COVID-19 cases in Washington State. One year later, Pierce College has proceeded to do its teaching virtually. 

Announcements to continue in person teaching have since been extended to a small number of classes for Fall 2021. As Pierce prepares to bring students back to campus step by step, and other campuses and school districts begin to open their doors, many students and staff at Pierce feel as though the overall transition from being in person to fully online was mostly successful. 

While some issues regarding communication and overall engagement brought mixed feelings for some, the general consensus seemed positive, with part of this being due to the accommodations made by professors. For Jade Dickinson, writing tutor and Running Start senior, she’s felt that Pierce College has done the best they could do, given the circumstances.

“Pierce and its professors have a strong commitment to quality,” Dickinson said. “I find that I have still been learning in my online classes and that most of the professors that I’ve come across have been really understanding. [However] I know that’s not the case for every professor.”

Dickinson can recall earlier March of 2020 when Pierce first closed its campuses and transitioned to online learning. “At the beginning of the pandemic, everybody was really really confused—including Pierce,” Dickinson said. 

“I remember, we actually went online four days before classes ended and I had to do my last week of classes online. I think there was just so much fear around what could happen and we didn’t know anything about the virus. We barely knew how it spread, and we didn’t even have a mask mandate at that point.”

Mika Asiag, another Running Start student, also thought Pierce handled it well but felt that not everyone likes online learning and would have preferred other methods instead of fully online classes.

“I think they honestly could have done hybrid,” Asiag said. “I just feel like not everyone likes online learning—especially me. I hate online learning, and it’s hard for me to grasp ideas when [I] have to learn on [my] own.”

Students were not the only ones affected by the switch to online. For math professor Claire Gibbons, Ph.D., she’s been trying to view the whole ordeal in a positive light, not just for herself, but for those around her as well. “I think if I have the privilege, that I need to be using that to make a good situation out of this,” Gibbons said.

“If I’m just kind of feeling bad for myself—when I actually have so much—I don’t think that is the right way to handle it. The empathy that I can feel for my coworkers who are going through this I can try to share with my students, because my students also might have things going on at home—they might have kids, they might have jobs. I have lots of stuff that’s been impacted,so to be warm and understanding of that is good I think.”

Gibbons shared how a small disconnect between admin and higher-ups and the actual experience of faculty in their classes felt present at times. Overall though, Gibbons is grateful that Pierce was able to provide the needed support for this transition. “I think that [the higher-ups have] done a lot, especially with transparent communication and trying to be as supportive as possible; so I’ve been overall really impressed, personally.”

For math professor Cody Fouts, this was his first time having to teach full time online. Fouts had to adapt his class to online, as he’s been attempting to find different methods of teaching that may help his future students.

“I actually, prior to the beginning of the pandemic, had no desire to teach online because I think that one of my strengths as an educator and a teacher is in-person interactions with students, and I thought that was gonna be really hard to replicate online—, which has been true,” Fouts said.

For Fouts, getting students to register to the proper locations for his class, such as WAMAP, proved to be a small issue, as Pierce’s primary work-space for students is Canvas. But one thing in particular that has been difficult for Fouts has been interpersonal relationships with students and being available to his students while juggling his schedule.

“I think one of my biggest struggles as an educator—online or not—is trying to meet all students where they’re at, but I also want to keep myself in mind,” Fouts said. “I have things that I want to do in the evenings and weekends too that are not work. And it’s not that I don’t care about my students; I just only have so much time during the week.”

For Dickinson, she felt as though the school should do more to make their basic information more visible to students. Dickinson further said how she thinks sometimes info needs to be shoved in peoples’ faces.

“I think they’re doing a great job and making the right decisions personally, but just remind students through email [and] Canvas when tuition is due, when registration starts and any other important dates they should know about instead of relying on the students themselves to look in the handbook or look in the calendar,” Dickinson said.

For Fouts, what he felt could have been done differently had less to do with Pierce and more to do with himself personally. “I don’t know [if] I would have been as optimistic that things were going to be as short lived as they were,” Fouts said.

“I also would have really sought out more resources for how to effectively facilitate an online course. I think again during those first initial quarters, [it] was in my mind [that] all this was still very temporary, so I was still trying to do a very similar version of what I do in person; I was trying to do that online.”

Pierce has been trying their best given the situation. A year ago they were scrambling to move everything online as soon as they could. Some people understandably disliked online learning; others have tried to make the best of it despite the isolation. One thing Fouts misses most about in-person learning includes the simple “good mornings” and the relationships that could be built from getting to know students personally. 

 

“You just know that when you’re seeing someone every day or even every couple of days you get to know things about their lives,” Fouts said. “You know maybe their families or things they’re looking forward to, or even just why students are in school, and then [you’re] able to ask them about that,” Fouts said.

 

“I am really goofy and silly in the way that I teach generally and so I really miss being able to do that every day with my students and see the look on their faces when they roll their eyes at my stupid math and dad jokes.”

Pierce has been in quarantine for over a year now with signs of returning to campus in Fall 2021. If there’s anything the pandemic has taught us, it’s to not take things for granted and the importance of compassion. 

Reach out to people; no one is above burnout. Find little things to be grateful for—they exist everywhere. Be proud for making it an entire year.

Could Washington survive the same storm that hit Texas?

Starting on Feb. 10 through 20, Texas experienced widespread blackouts after a record storm hit the state. Over 3 million people were without power and hundreds of thousands more were without drinkable water. This sparked a statewide emergency that claimed the lives of 40 people many of which from carbon monoxide poisoning or hypothermia when conditions reached 0 degrees fahrenheit.

The state’s energy sector froze over and left equipment and power resources unusable, in what was deemed a generational storm. Many Republican lawmakers pointed to the ineffectiveness of renewable energy and criticized the wind turbines that froze. It took over a week in Texas and its surrounding states to restore power for millions of people.

If Washington state was to see a similar record freeze like Texas did last February, the state could rely on its usage of hydroelectricity to power residents. This provides a renewable energy source that is carbon neutral compared to Texas who relies on fossil fuels.

According to Power Magazine, hydroelectric plants are less susceptible to freezing due to the depth of water taken in by pipes leading into the plant that remain above freezing temperatures. This allows hydroelectric plants to run year round and in colder climates around the world in places such as Norway, Russia, Iceland, and Canada. 

Hydroelectricity makes up 62% of Washington’s energy production, while Texas’ largest energy source is natural gas making up 52% according to the U.S. Energy Information Association. Texas’ largest energy source was limited due to icy conditions and freezing temperatures. If Washington saw the same conditions, the state would see a far better outcome due to the reliability of its natural water sources.

Texas Congressman Dan Crenshaw tweeted the blame for the outages on the state’s reliance on outlets, including wind turbines. “This is what happens when you force the grid to rely in part on wind as a power source. When weather conditions get bad as they did this week, intermittent renewable energy like wind isn’t there when you need it.”

According to The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state’s wind turbine production consists of 23% of the total electricity. This is more than double Washington’s usage at 8% of all electricity produced. If Washington’s wind turbines were to freeze over like they did in Texas, it would not have had as much of an impact in Washington.

Many years prior, the ERCOT refused to implement a weathorized system for their renewable energy. According to Newsweek, the frozen wind turbines could have been avoided with implementing a heating proponent or lubricants that colder states such as Wisconsin use to keep their wind turbines functional all year. Texas is a generally warm climate and rarely sees freezing cold temperatures, and therefore chose not to implement weathorized equipment.

Likewise, a combination of nuclear, coal, and gas power froze over and could not keep up with the increase in demand due to the freezing weather. According to The ERCOT, the state fell short of demand by 45,000 megawatts. This included 15,000 megawatts from wind and 30,000 megawatts from coal and gas. Both were responsible for the lack of power, but may have been prevented if the proper precautions were taken.

Furthermore, America has three main national power grids that connect communities and states. One covers the West side of the U.S., another covers the East side, and lastly, Texas is its independent grid. Since Texas is its own grid, it could not tap into other areas to match their increase in energy needs. According to the ERCOT, it controls 90% of the power resources in Texas and could not rely on outside sources for energy due to their isolation and wintery conditions. 

On the other hand, the majority of Washington’s electricity and energy production comes from hydroelectric power. According to the EIA, Washington’s Grand Coulee Dam is the largest power plant in the country and can power up to 4.2 million households annually.

This contradicts Texas’ energy sector that has the majority of their energy deriving from natural gas and wind, and only gets .5% of its energy from hydroelectric power, according to the EIA. Texas receives less rain per year and has less access to large rivers like the Coulumbia. Additionally, Texas has an abundance of natural gas located in the state and results in a more reliable source of energy within the state.

With all of this in mind, Washington State would surely see outages if the state was faced with a generational storm as seen in Texas. Yet, thanks to hydroelectric power the weather’s impact on living conditions would be far less catastrophic. Going forward, if Washington State contributed more of its energy towards wind turbines, then it would need to weatherize these machines to ensure that none will freeze over. 

COVID-19’s Effect on Sports

Feb. 19, 2020 – the last day that we stepped on a field together. 

It has now been almost 12 months since we last laced up our boots, but we finally resumed play on Feb. 9. We were given a second chance to play the game that we love, for after what felt like an eternity away from my teammates.

Unlike Feb. 2020, this year looks very different. Every player is required to wear masks; players aren’t allowed to socialize outside of practice and social distancing is a part of our daily lives. Yet, with a different appearance to the world’s most beautiful game, on the field, it never changed. 

I still love this game just as much if not more. It has done so much for me over the years and I will do whatever it takes to compete on the field every day.

My teammates all seemed to share this opinion and on the first day of practice, you could not see the faces of each teammate, but you could tell that they were smiling from ear to ear. After all the strenuous and annoying suspension of Pierce College athletics, the team had never been more ecstatic to compete. We had 12 months of energy and passion balled up inside waiting to be poured out on the soccer field. 

Playing for Pierce College’s men’s soccer program has been one of the most enriching experiences of my young adult life. It has brought me new friends, new possibilities and a chance to play at the collegiate level. Yet all of that would be put on hold when the Covid-19 pandemic took over all of our lives.

Back in February of last year, the team was in good spirits and met for the first time since Nov. 2019. We had a new class of recruits to build upon a strong list of returning players, who represented essential leadership going forward into a new season later that year. 

The previous season ended with a devastating 1-0 defeat in the first round of the NWAC playoffs. We were left with a bitter taste in our mouths and knew we had to push ourselves to the maximum during the off-season.

Consequently, our off-season was postponed when all Pierce College athletics were suspended in March 2020. This was a hard pill to swallow as the opportunity to strive as a program was stripped away from us. The team could no longer meet in person, workout together, or even hang out outside of practice, we were deprived of the opportunity to play the sport that we loved.

Although, this didn’t stop us from persevering through the separation of players, as we engaged in individual workouts and training sessions. Our coaches required us to download and participate in a virtual training app called Techne Futbol. 

We were required to complete five hours of training sessions each week, as the app would track our minutes. This created a competitive atmosphere between the players who wanted to improve the most, but it lacked accountability.

Fast-forwarding throughout the off-season, our start-up date continued to be pushed back further and further. We were originally told April, then July, then August, then December, and finally January.

The team continued to get our hopes up for a return to play, but our hopes were crushed every few months. It was hard to gauge when we had to turn on the jets and train hard for the season and created an emotionally draining process that left us feeling grim. Yet, when given the first opportunity to return to the field, we took it, even if that meant wearing a mask knowing that we were healthy.

From now until the end of the season we are required to wear masks at all times, from when we step out of our cars until we leave. I have been wearing masks for months now and have become accustomed to wearing them in indoor places, but never while running outside. The majority of us aren’t in game shape going into the first weeks of training and wearing a mask while running only makes these matters worse. 

I am all for taking priority in players’ health, but it can’t be doubted that masks bring performance complications and hinder the amount of oxygen that we take in. According to our Athletic Director Duncan Stevenson, our state government and the NWAC are moving forward in hopes of not wearing masks during games, which would be applauded by players who on average run seven miles per match.

Our current safety protocols include filling out a health check form every day that we meet, temperature checks before entering the field, and applying hand sanitizer before each competition. These protocols may cause extra pain and add to more things to remember daily, but they have the best interest of players in mind. 

The thing that I will miss most is having fans at every game. Seeing my friends, family, and fellow students at each game adds to the motivation and competitive atmosphere. My parents never missed a game last year and were disappointed by the news, and I’m sure that they still find some way to watch my games. For everyone else, our games will be streamed online which expands our outreach but takes away the in-person spark that fans fuel you with as a player.

This season is unlike any other season, but I will trade Covid-19 protocols any day of the week if it gave me the opportunity to step foot on the soccer field one last time. All I can ask for is an opportunity to prove myself as a player and a man, thankfully I got the opportunity this winter. 

Is Cancel Culture Striking Fairly?

On March 2, Dr. Seuss’s birthday, Dr. Seuss Enterprises announced on their website that they would stop the printing of 6 of their books. The statement listed: And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street (1937), If I Ran the Zoo (1950), McElligot’s Pool (1947), On Beyond Zebra! (1955), Scrambled Eggs Super! (1953), and The Cat’s Quizzer (1976) as the titles being discontinued.

“We are committed to action,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises stated. “These books portray people in ways that are hurtful and wrong.” 

The decision to stop publication and licensing for the 6 books was made last year after Dr. Seuss Enterprises worked with advisors who evaluated the titles. Much of the public has opinions either for or against the decision, and it seems Dr. Seuss Enterprises is not making any further comments about their statement or actions. This leaves the rest of us to wonder if the right decision was made.

The 6 books that have ceased publication and licensing.

The idea of “Cancel Culture”, as it has come to be known, is slowly sifting through many established franchises and either removing them or slapping a disclaimer on them. The timing seems to be appropriate for some and not for others. The looming question is if cancel culture is being fair about its judgment as well as its motivations.

Protecting the minds of children seems to be the priority, but what can be gained by hiding the history of the culture from them in literary form or in any other form for that matter? 

There are many books which are considered classics such as Huckleberry Finn written by American Author Mark Twain in 1884, in which the n-word is used multiple times portraying a historically accurate picture of the cultural behavior at the time.

If the goal is looking seriously into books branded as offensive and removing them, then school curriculums could begin shifting in a different direction where the history on those pages could be lost for good. Touching the surface of social issues could be a temporary solution and good conversation starter by cancel culture. Yet there is still real evidence of racism in the world which seems to have no answer.

Ravi Zacharias the late christian apologist and author said to a question posed by an anonymous news reporter about moral ethics at an open forum, “The reason we are against racism is because a person’s race is sacred. A person’s ethnicity is sacred. You cannot violate it. My race is sacred; your race is sacred; I dare not violate it.”

To take a stand against violations such as racism would be a continuous effort by all in society, and using examples of such would have a beneficial effect. What the public considers before giving an opinion about any social issue is of great importance to the structure of society. Merely picking what to be upset about is the answer for continued discord.

All of the books discontinued by Dr. Seuss Enterprises have various cultures being represented in an unflattering way.

Some of the illustrations are clearly evidence of the cultural norm at the time, while others are disturbing, such as the depiction of black people resembling monkeys in If I Ran the Zoo.

A collage including examples of Seuss’ racist imagery.

Any and all races have a right to feel some offense, and yet there is something about certain minorities not being considered people at certain historical times that keeps alluding the present social mentality. The heart of the issue seems to be based on doing the right thing and the focus is lost when people are told what to be angry about.

Co-Authors of On the Perpetuation of Ignorance Dr. Steven Shepherd and Dr. Aaron C. Kay published in Journal of Personality and Social Psychology wrote, “Individuals are often confronted with information that they do not know how to comprehend or evaluate, even though this information can be of critical importance to the self (or society as a whole).” 

Believing in the feelings of the culture seems to be an easy sell for all sides of the issues, but then arises a more prominent issue of missing the point. There are those frustrated with the facts not being taken into consideration before making a decision that can steer the culture down into the mire.

Many have taken to buying the remaining prints of the books canceled by Dr. Seuss Enterprises and have started selling them online. Some prices start at around $200 while others are going for up to around $1900.

Does the action of profiting from a social issue such as racism speak louder as a cultural norm than cancel culture? Again, the motivation of discontinuing any trace of history is key to understanding and learning to grow from past errors.

“Ceasing sales of these books is only part of our commitment,” Dr. Seuss Enterprises stated. The statement by Dr. Seuss Enterprises went on to say they will ensure their product will represent and support all communities and families.

Quarantining Making Us Apathetic to Crime?

Crime rates continue to spike in Pierce and King County, yet support for these issues seem minimal

I began my morning the usual way, which involved waking up early to take my dog out. I walked down my steps to take her to the courtyard, only to be stopped in my tracks upon a realization — my car was not where I parked it last night.

I questioned myself at first; I must have parked it somewhere else and clearly forgot. I grabbed my keys so I could press the lock button and hear my car alarm sound off, only when I did so the sound never came. I circled the parking lot for about five minutes, growing frantic as I searched for my car to no avail. It soon became clear that my car had been stolen.

Since beginning quarantining in late March of 2020, support for crimes have felt “off” in general. Understandably, with COVID running rampant it makes sense that many officials have fires needing to be put out. But it doesn’t change the fact that with everything going on, finding support, especially for crime related concerns, feels at its lowest lately.

“In October, the FBI reported that the homicide rate across the country between January and June rose 15% compared to the same time period in 2019. In Seattle, the increase has been even greater. In 2019, there were 28 homicides in Seattle. That number has nearly doubled, with 55 homicides reported this year.” ”

— Vanessa Misciagna, King5 News

When I contacted officials, the police issued out a missing car report and that was that; from there it became a waiting game. My apartment landlords, however, were less than helpful; they had no idea what happened, and because they don’t fund any form of security on their sites — such as security patrolling our ungated community at night or even just camera installation — there was nothing that could be done on their end. 

Not even a month later on Jan. 26 my boyfriend Carl, who lives with me, had his work van broken into and all his tools stolen on the same lot. We didn’t even bother notifying the police or our apartment that time; we kind of just knew nothing could be done about it.

One thing I began questioning the day my car was stolen was the overall safety of my neighborhood. Was Lakewood always this bad, or has COVID and quarantining simply made some people become desperate thieves? It turns out, there is in fact a trend between the two, according to data provided by neighborhoodscout.com.

Residents in Lakewood have a one and 22 chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crimes as of 2020, with crime rates ranging around 46 per one thousand residents. With this, Vanessa Misciagna from King5 News also reports a rise in homicides in Tacoma during 2020, with these statistics not being seen since the early 90’s.

It is possible that part of the reason for the spike in crime is reactionary to a number of misfortunes caused from quarantining. Jason Rantz from MyNorthwest speculates that crime rates have increased due to a lack of people outside due to restrictions.

“When you look at the precincts most impacted by the burglaries, they tend to have normally busy business districts,” Rantz stated. “But at a time where there is no one around, they’re easier targets for burglaries.”

While crime rates may have gone up due to the window-of-opportunity increasing itself for criminals, I feel as though there is more to why this is happening. Since COVID began, it was mass reported that many individuals were put out of work due to restrictions. 

According to PewSocialTrends.org and the Center of Budget and Policy Priorities, around 25 million Americans have filed for unemployment, with this number only continuing to increase as time passes. “Overall, one-in-four adults have had trouble paying their bills since the coronavirus outbreak started,” PST stated.

With this information in mind, it makes sense that more desperate behaviors and crimes of theft have begun to increase. Many people are most likely simply trying to make ends meet, and thus may have gone to stealing from their own communities as a way to survive.

Despite the hardships many of us are facing during these times however, I find theft amongst our community to be highly deplorable and inexcusable. Job loss or even death in one’s family does not give one the right to steal one’s property or harm another individual. I myself have been struggling with keeping up with rent and small bills that I’ve never had issues with paying before, but I have not used this struggle to further disadvantage others.

The area of Lakewood I lived in wasn’t immune to crime, but I never thought I’d be a victim to it. But what hurt most was how helpless and violated the incident left me feeling. In a way, it felt as though the theft were my own fault and absolutely unpreventable.

Days after my car was stolen, I felt as though the last slither of my motivation for that horrid year had finally given way. I felt I couldn’t focus on work and I ended up dropping my fall classes due to all the stress. While my insurance company was very supportive of the incident, I still couldn’t shake the fact that I’d been robbed and something that was once mine was probably gone for good.

I never ended up getting my car back; it was filed as a loss and to this day I am still car shopping. But what this incident has truly left for me, is the idea that justice and resources for crime-related concerns during the pandemic feel minimal. 

Calling 911 and contacting the police, while being something you should absolutely do if faced with a crime, won’t magically fix the situation. But if there’s anything the year 2020 has taught me, it’s that this year is truly unnatural and I am not the only one being affected negatively by it.

Some advice I had to tell myself that day is that things can happen that are out of my control, but regardless I have to continue doing what needs to be done in my life. It took me a few weeks to get out of my funk, but I’ve since been taking classes again and working normally, thanks to the support of my family. 

Finding that motivation isn’t a quick process by any means, but it’s something that just has to be done during this pandemic.

The pandemic’s impact on seasonal depression and mental health overall

A year defined by loneliness and anxiety, but also resilience is finally behind us.

Over the past few months, there were days that I would suddenly have dark thoughts. I’d be in the middle of homework and suddenly think, “Why am I doing this? What’s the point?” and then continue before stopping shortly after because I lost my motivation.

It’s no surprise that 2020 became sluggish towards the end. With the days getting shorter approaching the winter solstice, it’s important to shed light on something that affects up to one in 10 people in the Pacific Northwest—Seasonal Affective Disorder. 

SAD is just one part of the bigger conversation around mental health. Though the stigma around it has gone down, it’s far from gone. As quarantine fatigue lingers, it’s more important than ever that we normalize discussion around mental health. 

SAD is characterised as a depression that comes around during certain parts of the year; usually during the winter months. There are many similarities between SAD and clinical depression, but what differentiates them is that SAD has a pattern. 

According to Faculty Counselor Jennifer Wright, the most common symptom is a lack of motivation. Grief and loss are common themes that people with SAD express, whether it be direct or indirect.

For Megan Irby, Faculty Counselor, she feels that quarantine will only make the effects of SAD worse for those experiencing it. “Everything has been exacerbated by the quarantine, especially with the second wave and more limitations,” Irby said.

“People are starting to get out a little bit more, [but] now with the new restrictions, they won’t have as many options to see people. It is going to get worse for people that already struggle with it.”

I myself wonder if people with SAD have noticed a difference between this winter and last winter. Is it hard to tell what is causing a lack of motivation? Or is last winter just a blur that no one remembers? 

According to Jennifer Wright, she doesn’t hear a trend one way or another. “[On] the flip side of that, I wonder if people were already so well practiced at it that it’s like, ‘Eh, I’m already used to being indoors,’” Wright said.

I try not to self diagnose. I don’t know if others have had similar feelings or what caused them. What I do know is that my feelings happened and that the pandemic might’ve been a factor. 

Covid fatigue is a pain. The past year felt like a jumbled mess to me, which is why it’s been hard for me to pinpoint exactly what I’m going through. So, I stick with what I know. I started writing down my thoughts in a journal so I can look back for patterns. This isn’t an immediate solution; it’s going to take some time.

There are things you can do if you suspect you have SAD. According to Irby—if you’re able—getting your blood levels check during a doctor visit can tell you if there are any deficiencies. Taking vitamin D supplements is a good idea for anyone living in the Pacific Northwest since we don’t get much natural sunlight. There are also light boxes that mimic sunlight on places like Amazon.

While discussing the stigma around mental health, Faculty Counselor Brenda Rogers mentions how she wants mental health to be an easier topic to talk about. “I wish seeing a counselor seemed like a tool—like having a trainer [at the gym],” Rogers said.

The conversation around mental health needs to be normalized. Speaking from personal experience, it’s no coincidence that Millennials and Gen Z joke about their mental health; It’s our way of coping. 

Even before the pandemic hit, the rate of depression among teens and young adults was on the rise. As an Asian-American student, I’m too familiar with how mental health issues are brushed to the side by family. 

Pierce College has a website with mental health resources and counselors who provide short-term therapy. I have been seeing a counselor for a couple months now and would honestly recommend it even if you don’t think what you’re going through is ‘serious enough.’

To say quarantine sucks is an oversimplification. The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s mental health, whether they admit it or not. “If someone’s telling me, ‘I feel great! Everything is fine.’ I don’t believe them,” Wright said. “Nobody should be feeling fine right now, that’s not normal. It’s ok [not feeling fine], we’re in this together, and this is a time to support and love one another.”

You don’t always have to keep your chin up; what you feel is what you feel. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Whether it’s to the resources listed above to your friends. Brighter days—quite literally—lay ahead.

Writer Lizbeth Martinez Santos shares her New Year Resolution and its potential for others to stay motivated during these hard times in 2021.

My boyfriend Victor and I made a plan together that we have followed this week. This plan consists of waking up at 6 in the morning, keeping track of the time and healthy habits such as cleaning, doing homework, drinking water, eating and exercising on schedule. This is our New Year resolution.

For many people, New Year’s resolutions are a goal or something you tell yourself you want to accomplish that year. To me it’s more than a goal; it’s a promise, something I will do. It’s not going to stay in a closed book, I will open it and fill it up with each step taken. So let’s start together!

With the right resources and people by your side, you can accomplish anything. I am no professional, but one thing we all need this year is motivation. Rather than leaving our goals in a closed book, let’s open them and fill it with each step we take! You are not alone. I write this for you because I want you to know you’re not alone just like I am not. 

2020 has taken too much from all of us and brought so much loss. According to UAB Medicine, only 8% or less Americans actually stick to their resolution each year, 2020 being partly the blame. In another article published by Stanford Medicine, it explains that due to COVID-19 many people have been having symptoms of depression and anxiety. This is due to a number of reasons, ranging from the loss of a loved one or job, to schools being closed due to the pandemic.

Knowing this information gives me more motivation to keep on going with my resolutions, to improve my health and give others an opportunity to make their own resolutions and accomplish them.

Having something or someone to remind you why you’re doing this and to push you so you keep doing it truly helps. I say this because for me personally the only reason I haven’t given up is because of Victor. 

He is my person, the one who gives me motivation to keep pushing myself. The main reason I created this resolution was to find myself again; I have lost who I was these past years due to my worsening depression and anxiety, as well as my own short-comings getting the best of me. 

Yet because of certain people in my life I was able to get back up and take control of my life again. This plan has helped me realize that I have more time than I thought to do everything I need for school or work. To organize myself to give me time to focus on my health as well.

Not only did I get happier from the plan I made. I learned from this article called, The Science of Motivation. It states that motivation not only gives us support but it’s a chemical in our brains that helps us more than we know. This chemical is called Dopamin. When we perform a task before rewarding oneself, it tells our brain that if we finish this task something good will happen. Which then goes to our whole body.

You can do so much, the first step is believing in yourself and that it’s ok to be vulnerable and to ask for help. This is one reason why I stayed on the path I am now, I kept on pushing myself to show that I am better than others think I am. I asked and looked for help, which just encouraged me more

I know times are tough right now but if you believe in yourself and push through. The results will be worth it trust me, I feel so much better and happier now that I am active and finishing my work on time. I am more organized than I was before, by putting my health before anything else made me feel so much different in a good way.

Some days are bad, and I feel like giving up. But what pushes me to succeed is knowing I am not the only one. I will keep on going to help you and give you the motivation to get up and do what you always wanted to do but never did because you thought you couldn’t. Well you can and will!

 

COVID Affecting the Holiday Spirit

How online shopping and COVID restrictions is affecting our yearly holiday festivities

This time of year my family would be overjoyed with the Christmas spirit. We’d watch movies and drink hot chocolate together as we’d happily wrap gifts for everyone. But now it’s different; I feel depressed and not in the mood to do anything festive this year.

This is especially the case after Thanksgiving, where all we did was buy food and go to my grandma’s house for the holiday. After we ate, we left because everyone was tired. This pandemic has affected my family so much, and has left many of us stressed and drained.

For me, it’s having to do schoolwork online with the pressure to pass that has affected my holidays. On the other hand, my parents are worried about money and having to work during the pandemic.

Gov. Jay Inslee put the restrictions to prevent more cases, such as limiting group sizes for gatherings or in-store shopping. Yet many people, including my family, have gone Black Friday shopping, by either using curbside pickups or shopping online. 

I thought Black Friday wasn’t going to be a big thing like the years before. However, while it was, it mostly took place online with events like Cyber Monday. But to me, shopping online isn’t the same as going to the store and picking the item out yourself, wrapping it and giving it to someone. Instead, if you shop online, you can just ship the gift to the person.

Many things have changed since the pandemic, but we can change too. We might not be able to shop like we could previously, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything to do for the holidays. Doing little things at home, such as baking and giving them to our families can return some of that festive spirit that seems to be missing.

One other thing people can do to make this year a little better is visit the Pierce County Light Shows, with the Fantasy Lights at Spanaway Lake Park, located on 14905 Bresemann Blvd. South, Spanaway, taking place daily from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. all the way until Jan. 3.

This can make someone’s day, even if that something is as little as baking cookies, watching a movie, or just driving around seeing Christmas decorations. So let’s not be as gloomy as the Grinch and get up. Watch something with your family and do the traditional things you would before. COVID does not have to define how you end your year.

Shelitia Pratt, Pierce College student and friend of George Floyd’s cousin, shares her thoughts and experience regarding racial injustices and the global pandemic.

I was born in Centreville, Illinois, and raised in Lovejoy, Illinois before I moved to St. Louis, Missouri.  I identify as African American, and recently I found out that through my father’s side I am multicultural – black, white, creole and native.  

The town that I grew up in was a settlement of African Americans escaping slavery; it later became the first black town in America to be incorporated and named after Elijah Lovejoy, who was killed by a pro-slavery mob in Alton, Illinois in 1837.  

My morals and beliefs were embedded in me through my grandparents who raised me.  They taught me to love myself before I love someone else; be honest with others and myself; be loyal; trust no one; do my best at everything I do, and treat people how I want to be treated. They also taught me that hard work pays off; two wrongs don’t make a right; silence is golden, and every response doesn’t need a reaction.  I learned to abide and respect these things as I grew older and later taught these same things to my children.  

Today these guidelines, along with my life experiences and things I have seen, have supported making me who I am today.  I believe that what makes me unique is that my heart always looks out for the best interest of others, and I tend to often recognize my blessings because I give generously. This quarter, I gave a lot.

Being biracial myself, I have never completely “taken a side”.  However because of the one-drop-rule, I do know that I am African American and will always be looked at in this manner, because of the color of my skin. Black lives and every life has always mattered to me growing up.

These days I have been speechless, confused, depressed, and anxious back using my meds to support my anxiety along with increased blood pressure. My reaction to the injustice black Americans have recently faced is mind-blowing, but it does not surprise me at all. 

These injustices have been this way for hundreds of years and nothing has changed.  I have raised my children here in Puyallup, Washington and we all have faced injustice, discrimination, and racial profiling. 

Not all cops are bad and not all black people are criminals, but to wake up every day and know that because of my color I have to work harder than average and still get turned down opportunities, not because of my educational background, but because of the color of my skin; it breaks my soul and aches my heart, to the point that I continue to educate my children, siblings, and nephews.  

Black communities, and other communities, are in pain due to recent events and how things have continued to play out along with our President.  I am friends with George Floyd’s cousin and I’ve had to be a huge support for him, allowing him to vent to me on his feelings, and the family and him just needing a safe place to come to and get away from things. 

During the protesting, my friend got a call from his son’s friend in Bellevue. His son had been racially profiled and the police had his son and three of his biracial friends handcuffed on the curb. He saw his son on television while talking to me about the protest the night before that he and his family attended.  

I am not sure how the Pierce College community can help support those of us who are grieving the injustices that communities of color face. I personally have been just over it and have given up; I have never done that on my education or anything. I’m afraid every time my kids leave my home, and I call them more often because of it.

If someone has to be harassed or killed for being black, out of my children and family, I would rather it be me. I am aware that I should not feel this way, but it’s been a norm to live a life like this; from my hometown to here and across the world, this is the life of being black in the world.

My experiences during this pandemic and social unrest have been very hard to describe. Right now however, I am most concerned for my family. If things open too quickly in Phase Two, they may get sick. I am also concerned about whether my children and I will pass our online classes during this time. 

I have been attending Pierce College for the last three quarters taking classes to finish up getting my degree in human services, along with taking some CMST courses to better educate myself on some of the cultures that I work within my career field.

When I learned that Pierce College was going online, I was planning to withdraw because I am a hands-on learner and learn best being in a classroom. I freaked out a bit and asked my college student kids who have taken online classes what it would be like.  

I anticipated being frustrated often because I don’t navigate computers as well as I could. This online journey has been a struggle for me, as I anticipated it would be, but 10 times worse given how much of my time was devoted to serving others.

I realize this year has been especially hard on several families. At times, I wasn’t even aware of my own coming and going and just stress ate to the point where I gained over 10 pounds.

My household went from two people to six. My two college students came home from Canada and the other from Eastern Washington. I struggle with health issues myself, and fear for my daughter-in-law who works in an emergency room dealing with COVID-19 patients. I fear for my two-year-old granddaughter,  and for my daughter who has one kidney; all-the-while, I continued to fear every day that I could lose my salon business. It is important that I go to work to support my family and keep the business I built.

I was able to navigate through those challenges with lots of prayers; reaching out to my instructors, my supervisors, and my co-workers; and being honest to my building owners about what was truly going on in my life. If only they could have seen how regularly my eyes filled with tears and how constantly my voice cracked. Things constantly happened in my family.

I will do it all over again until I complete it to my satisfaction, but I will be glad when it’s over and I will continue to fight for injustice and peace.

My COVID Experience

COVID-19 has brought discomfort to the world as we continue to physically distance ourselves from each other. We all feel somewhat trapped and overwhelmed with what is going on; within three month of quarantine the United States isn’t taking the shutdown well. The COVID-19 virus, in my reality, isn’t what I envisioned. However it’s all I can visualize during these times. 

Being the type of individual that craves freedom on repeat every day, adjusting my schedule has been very difficult. Spring Quarter has always been something I loved, and having to sit inside, rather than taking my normal walks from school, makes this quarter less exciting. 

The shutdown defeats the purpose of school. Having school from home feels as though it is taking away some freedom we have. Although online classes already existed, it’s hard to not question and stay motivated without being in school physically. 

When it comes to the scheduled times of classes on campus, not only is that being disrupted by the shutdown, but it also has been extremely inconvenient to my ability to learn. My schedule consists of Math, English, and Art for the most part, and all of these thrive in person. With programs such as Zoom taking over and having to wake up for a lecture that is harder to understand due to the lack of interest I have in learning now.

With classes being online, I’ve noticed a shift in the amount of work we are now given. Normally each quarter, our professors would give a manageable amount of work, most likely due to the fact that we’d meet in person. The first week of school was tough with almost two assignments each class due back to back. My math class continues to have work every single day. It’s a surprise being able to catch a break.

Stress has filled up my life just from these first two weeks of school. However usually I give myself a break every other day to feel less overwhelmed. Consistency right now is hard and distractions are all around. The workload is not fair, but we have no choice but to get it done if we want to succeed.

However we now have a reason to get in contact with our professors for help. Before this, it would have been brushed off.  

We are still able to use this time for self-care, extra time with loved ones, and the things we always wanted to do but always put off. In these times, we are all able to evolve and become better as one. Looking towards the positive aspects of this pandemic is definitely something we all can work on.

As we all wish for face-to-face contact, schools, and civilizations to run back up, and just normal to come back to all of us. We all aren’t sure when the end of this pandemic will come. In the meantime to get back to that lifestyle, it is very important that we all are staying safe. 

So when we do leave our homes, we should keep a minimum of 6 feet of distance from everyone, wash our hands often, cover for protection, and go to the doctor if ever feeling ill. So that we can avoid getting this virus as this is a worldwide setback. In the end, we can all come back stronger, connected, and together as a whole.

Animal Crossing: Just a Kids’ Game or a Modern Coping Tool?

Matt Slater / Staff Photo 

Young or old, you have probably heard of the video game Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Amidst the uncertainty that is global affairs in 2020, Animal Crossing’s cheery exterior and light-gameplay have been welcomed into the public light with open arms. 

But what about Animal Crossing: New Horizons has made it so successful? Could the raging popularity be accredited to individuals just searching for ways to escape their current situation, or is there a deeper benefit? 

The video-gaming industry as a whole has seen an increase in sales due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the current global atmosphere being very tense and many individuals stressed about COVID-19, whether it be work or health-related, Animal Crossing has offered a type of peaceful sanctuary. 

Animal Crossing can be used as a daily escape from the frightening reality of life. It allows individuals to take control of anxiety-provoking situations and vent any frustrations or fears they have about the real world. 

This pursuit of an outlet to funnel attention to is called escapism. Escapism has historically been given a bad rap because it is associated with relief from an unpleasant situation, but it is not always negative. 

Animal Crossing offers a video-gaming experience that is often compared to soothing meditational practices. The franchise is not dominated by heavy story-telling and the narrative guidelines can be completed at your leisure. This self-pacing mechanism offers players many choices, and with it, control. 

In Animal Crossing: New Horizons, players can decide what their character does day-to-day in real-time; whether it be tending a garden, catching fish or bugs, decorating villager’s houses, or visiting friends from around the globe. Original music, characters, and dialogue make Animal Crossing quite unique in the gaming world. 

New Horizons launched on March 20, 2020; In record time, it exceeded the lifetime sales of each previous game in the Animal Crossing franchise. Also during March, the Nintendo Switch console, which is the only platform New Horizons is offered on, saw a sales increase of 150 percent. 

Individuals like Jeremy Bailenson have worked to investigate the connections between escapism and virtual enrichment. As he explores in his book, Experience on Demand, virtual reality, and social simulators can help individuals recover from trauma. 

Traumatic events, such as global pandemics, bring a degree of uncertainty, which can lead to serious psychological repercussions. 

A 2002 study of children in psychologically traumatic situations showed that playing with toys or art materials helped rebuild emotional stability. Having the opportunity to play comes with the notion that people are beginning to put their lives back together, and life is going back to normal.

In this way, Animal Crossing: New Horizons might be the relief that our modern generation needs. 

Anyone could make the argument that COVID-19 has been a traumatic experience. Life for many around the globe has completely changed. The loss of communities such as school, work, and religious gatherings, as well as the uncertainty when communities will be able to gather again, can lead to serious mental health repercussions.

Maybe the reason New Horizons has gotten so popular is that it is tending to the psychological human need to play in order to deal with trauma. 

New Horizons is fundamentally simple. It allows for easy repetition, which can soothe nerves or anxiety. Additionally, New Horizons is open to creative expression. As a player, you are not confined to a strict rule book. Almost every aspect of the game is moldable to your artistic vision. If players don’t have a specific vision in mind, the game inspires them to create one with the tools provided. 

Finally, New Horizons lets you build and nurture new relationships and communities. It has become a new resource for individuals to connect to one another. In a time when everyone is a little lonely, thousands of players congregate online to share resources and playthrough tips.  

Animal Crossing: New Horizons may pave the way for new, innovative virtual simulators, especially if quarantine persists. It will be interesting to see how different aspects of the media industry will cope with life restrictions or if more companies try to capitalize on stay-at-home requirements. Regardless, New Horizons will be written in the history books as a smashing success.

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