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Posts tagged “COVID19

Everything you should know about the COVID vaccine

I’ve already written several posts on my experience with the first COVID vaccine dose (here and here) and the second dose (here and here). Today we’re putting it all together. I’m going to run through everything you should know about the COVID vaccine from how it works, to why you should get it, and what to expect when you go through the shots. My goal with this is to make it accessible as possible so you can make an informed decision and feel comfortable getting the shot. Sometimes the science is hard to understand, but I think we can simplify it enough to make sense to just about everyone. That said let’s give it… a shot.

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COVID Vaccine: The second shot update!

Well today is a full day since I had the second dose of my COVID vaccine. I promised honesty and transparency so here it is, the second dose isn’t as smooth as the first. So we’re going to go over why that is, what my issues have been, and why it’s still very much worth it.

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New year’s eve!

It’s that time of the year again, new year’s eve. It’s been one hell of a year, even for the awful last few years. I have a lot of thoughts this year given that we are living in a pandemic and new year’s eve is usually a time for celebration. I doubt anyone will listen, but stay home.

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I got my COVID Vaccine – update

Well today is day 1 post COVID vaccine. That was the first of two shots that I need to get, the second one will be in the middle of January (already scheduled). Since I was lucky enough to get the vaccine I thought I would talk a bit about the side effects of it, at least from my end. My hope is to help people relax a bit and when it becomes available to the public, you won’t be nervous to get it done.

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I’m getting my COVID vaccine today!

Today is the day! About a week ago I got an email letting me know that I could be vaccinated. While I’m a researcher in a hospital, my work involves a high risk population (people with spinal cord injury) so I’m front facing with patients on a regular basis. I’m also disabled which may have factored into my group placement. Whatever the case, I got a spot in line and now it’s my turn. My Co-PI who’s lab I work out of already got his, but he was in a higher group than I was. As usual I have some thoughts on all this…

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Happy Holidays!

If you read my blog, it’s no secret I celebrate a non-religious Christmas, but no matter what you celebrate I hope you and your loved ones have a happy holiday season. While the pandemic means that things may look different for a lot of us, we shouldn’t need a holiday to remind us to be kind and love one another. The holiday season may be a good time to remember that lesson, but it doesn’t mean we can’t celebrate any time of the year. When this is all over we can mourn the loss of loved ones and celebrate being able to be close once again properly. For now, stay safe, stay vigilant, and hopefully the new year will bring some good changes.


The pandemic, holidays, and your mental health

When was the last time you thought about your own mental health? I mean really thought about how you’re doing right now, not the typical, “Huh, I think things are going to hell, but I’ll worry about it later” kind of thinking about things. Maybe it’s just me, but this time of year is hard to begin with, add to that the fact that we’re almost a full year into the pandemic and I would think this time of year would be overwhelming for the majority of people.

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On the importance of vaccines

Once upon a time polio was more feared than the atomic bomb. Thanks to the vaccine we’ve practically (not completely mind you!) eliminated polio from the planet. We successfully eliminated smallpox, the only existing strains live in special labs now. Vaccines are a triumph of science and are so successful that people have forgotten they are necessary for a reason. In short, vaccine fear is a byproduct of vaccine success.

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Please, stay home for the holidays!

Don’t do it. Seriously, why are we having this discussion right now? It makes no sense, there is a pandemic going on and if you live specifically in the US (which I do) you’re going to need to stay home. Sure the holidays can be an important time of year for families, but do we really need a holiday to celebrate with our family? Why not wait until this is over? More importantly is it worth putting all of them, yourself, and the people you come in contact with at risk?

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Thanksgiving thoughts in a pandemic

Today is Thanksgiving, which if we’ve read our history we know is a time of mourning. I mean let’s face it celebrating the genocide of a group of people that was here in the land a group of settlers “discovered” feels a little disturbing. I mean, nothing was discovered, there were people already here, as in the land you and I are living on. The land people generations ago took from the indigenous communities who called it home.

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Stay home for the holidays

Yet again, here we are. We shouldn’t need to do this, but people are quick to kill off grandpa and a whole lot of other people in the process, so once again we need to use uncommon sense. Stay home. Seriously, don’t visit family, there are plenty of other holidays post pandemic to celebrate, for now just keep you, your family, and all the families your family comes in contact with safe. Stay the fuck home.

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COVID and Education

Not my school, but still not effective at prevention either.

Today I received an email from the Chancellor of the school I attend. This is the person that is in charge of the entire university school system (since there are several campuses). The email was with regards to a survey that was sent out asking how comfortable we would be with returning to school with the pandemic going on. Why it was up to popular vote is beyond me.

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Distractions, distractions

Comic by theAwkwardYeti

Why people think that we could be MORE productive in a pandemic is beyond me. I can barely get myself out of bed most mornings when there ISN’T a pandemic killing ~1200 people a day. I mean how high does that number need to be before you too are less productive my fellow compassionate human?

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Health in a pandemic

I don’t want to be another link in the chain. I’m selfish, I don’t want to get COVID, I don’t want to deal with the after effects (if I live to tell the story), and I certainly don’t want to get others sick. My travel is limited to places I absolutely need to go. Unfortunately, that means I’m stuck doing research in a hospital setting, but I mask, wash my hands, and do everything I can to keep safe.

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Thalidomide: A forgotten history

Distaval was the brand name for Thalidomide

The COVID-19 vaccine is coming… eventually. There is a push by Trump to get it out to the general public prior to the election no matter the cost… gee I wonder why? However, we have testing standards in place for a very good reason and while it can be medically necessary to provide promising medicine in a few select cases, this is not one of them. A history lesson is in order and like all history, we may be doomed to repeat it if we don’t learn from it.

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Path planning

One would think that the pandemic would put a lot of things on hold. Unfortunately (here in the US anyway) that isn’t the case, it just makes things harder to do because everyone expects you to perform at a higher rate now that you’re not commuting to school… how the hell that works is beyond me.

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School and COVID-19

School being cleaned in preparation for students return. This is security theater, it spreads from student to student more readily than from desk to student.
This is security theater, like taking your shoes off at the airport, it does nothing to keep you safe. Instead it makes people feel better, in this case the school for letting your children spread this virus without a care.

School, I would like to consider myself a lifelong student, but formal instruction is a little different than learning on the job or via the web. With classes starting, my stress seems to be slowly ratcheting up. Oh I’ll be fine, I’m taking an online course this term, I’m worried about everyone else.

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Day 339: What will school look like?

School

Here in the US we paused, it was only for a moment, it wasn’t long enough, and not everyone did it, but we paused. Then just as quickly as we tried to adapt to the changing times we went back to pretending everything was normal. Beaches opened, restaurants opened, bars opened, we saw celebrations and parties and we ignored a single digit daily death count, which turned into a double digit, then triple digit, now we’re hovering in at roughly 1000 deaths a day from the pandemic.

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Day 321:Wear the damn mask

Daily Life In Belgium Amid Coronavirus Outbreak

Today is just a simple plea to my readers. Wear the damn mask. It’s not that hard. When you go out you put on your clothes, you can put on a mask too. Since people seem to be making this a political statement now, I guess I can explain why it’s not one.

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Day 312: Yes, the protests are still going…

George floyd

It still appears there is a media blackout on the protests (first mentioned in my other post). That doesn’t mean we’ve stopped though! It also unfortunately doesn’t mean the police have stopped. In fact we’re seeing some really… umm scary tactics being used by the police to * checks notes * beat us until we stop protesting police violence.

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Day 311: When voting isn’t enough

Gerrymander

Rawr! Beware, the Gerry-mander!

I’ve been debating about writing this post and it’s just been rattling around in my head for the past month or so. Voting can change the course of history, frankly we saw that in the 2016 elections, but we also saw something else. Your vote doesn’t matter and that isn’t by accident. But wait, I just said voting can change the course of history, so how does it not matter? Well for that we need to go back, way back.

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Day 309: No tests, no worries

head in sand

If I ignore my bills, I would have very few, if any. If that logic seems, well wrong, then I’m not surprised. Ignoring something doesn’t make it magically go away. Yet, Trump has touted, yet again, that if we slowed or stopped testing, we would have very few, if any cases of COVID19. I mean, with that kind of logic, you could have no more bills with this one weird trick!

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Day 307: COVID19 and BLM or why you should wear a mask

statue

Despite the media blackout the Black lives matter protests are still going strong. To say I’m proud would be an understatement. Unfortunately with all the protests going on people are claiming that COVID19 isn’t as bad as people said it was, or that the protesters should stop because of the pandemic. The critiques all miss the point, this one simple trick will slow the transmission and it really works.

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Day 304: It’s still just the first wave

COVID-19

♫ One of these things is not like the other… ♫

COVID-19 is making headlines again and news reports are claiming the second wave is here. Well, that’s not quite right, we never actually stopped the first. We literally cannot have a second wave of outbreaks if the first wave is still going strong, it’s just a continuation.

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Day 281: The New Colossus

Statue of liberty

The march of time stops for no one, yet we shut down the world. Only for a moment. Then that moment passed, but not by choice. There is a pandemic going on, tomorrow we will most likely pass the somber 100,000 official deaths from COVID-19 in the US. There is a very good chance the actual number is much higher. It hasn’t stopped, it won’t stop, but somehow we are choosing to ignore it.

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Day 253: A race to the finish

finish line

Well still quite a bit of work to do and some of it was frustrating, but here we are. So let’s run through what I’ve got left to do before the end of the term (ALREADY?!) and talk about the next few posts since I have somewhat of a plan… for once.

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Day 252: Dead…line

dead...line

Today is the day, my group presentation is due. Is it done? Well… sort of? Okay not quite, but we’re getting there. My group member still sucks, but since I yelled at him (in a professional manner of course), he’s gotten a little better and has been more responsive, so what’s the hold up? What a great question, let me explain.

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Day 251: Deadline tomorrow

deadline

Well the apocalypse can’t stop the gears of education. Tomorrow is our final presentation for the class I am in, so there is work to be done and expectation maximization will come another day. For now let’s give a quick rundown of what I’m working on.

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Day 250: Maximum Likelihood Estimation

probability

If we are going to talk about expectation maximization (now that I’m done complaining for a bit), we are going to have to introduce the idea of maximum likelihood. It’s going to be very easy to introduce, but it is a very powerful tool in estimating the state of something. Of course, it takes understanding a little bit of statistics, but trust me, if I can understand it, so can you.

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Day 249: A stern email later…

angry

Photo of me responding to his email …

I don’t want to jinx it, I really don’t, but I have an update on my group member situation and it isn’t completely awful! I mean, I’m still doing all the work and blah, blah, blah, but I’ve got an interesting story and I hope that things will be better now.

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Day 248: A Virtual Conference

background

Every zoom meeting I try to break my PI and get him to laugh, this was my last attempt, still nothing… my work continues.

This will be my first conference since the pandemic and it will be a virtual one. To be completely honest, it wasn’t until yesterday that I was reminded we had one today. It’s a little bit different from our normal routine and I think that is what is throwing me off.
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Day 247: The Kalman filter – Part 2

Kalman filter estimate

The Kalman filter converges on the optimal state estimate using noisy measurements and a model that we create.

Okay I lied, I think we can do a better job explaining the Kalman filter, more importantly I have a fun little demo I can share with everyone. It’s not mine, but I like it a lot and it will give you a feel for what the kalman filter does. So let’s get started!
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Day 246: The Kalman filter

We have 3-dimensions here even though it is a 2 dimensional problem. the third dimension is time, this way we can see the path over the course of the recorded time. Notice there are no units, becuase in this case we were working with synthetic data so the units were meaningless and I did not include them.

We have 3-dimensions here even though it is a 2 dimensional problem. the third dimension is time, this way we can see the path over the course of the recorded time. Notice there are no units, becuase in this case we were working with synthetic data so the units were meaningless and I did not include them.

This is just one application for the Kalman filter, I estimated a two dimensional position using a random walk model. We have 3-dimensions here even though it is a 2 dimensional problem, the third dimension is time. This way we can see the path over the course of the recorded time. Notice there are no units, becuase in this case we were working with synthetic data so the units were meaningless and I did not include them.

Since we’ve been talking a lot about it, I thought it might be a good idea to formally introduce the Kalman filter. This will be a semi-high level introduction (like my knowing your spinal cord series), but at the end of it you should have a relatively good feel for what a Kalman filter is.
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Day 245: Fine, I’ll do it myself.

Thanos - I'll do it myself

I will not fail this class becuase of a shitty team member. I will not allow it, I’ve put too much effort and time into this class to do poorly at the last minute because my team member can’t be bothered to do the job he agreed to do. I suppose, this was… inevitable

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Day 244: The end of the term!?

end of term

Okay, where the hell did that come from?! It’s almost the end of the school term. WHAT THE HELL!? It feels like we just got started, but my instructor just sent out the final assignment, which is due the last week of school… next week. I’m sort of freaking out right now.

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Day 243: Deadlines approaching!

deadlines

It seems like it’s been non-stop for me left and right. I have experiments to do, papers to write, and classes to work on. With the pandemic I was hoping to get a chance to take a break, but nope it seems like I’m even busier than normal. I HAD thought that I was caught up finally when I finished processing some of the experimental data I had laying around, but nope I was reminded yesterday that I had not one, but two major deadlines coming.

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Day 242: Experimenting in the time of a pandemic

Experiment-blur

Another day forward in our new normal. I’ve left the house exactly once in the last two weeks and while it’s nice not having to commute to school, I do miss living in a world without the constant fear of catching the virus. What day is it? Who knows, it doesn’t matter anymore. I do have some things coming up though, so let’s talk about experimenting in the age of COVID-19.

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Day 241: Modeling the COVID-19 Pandemic

COVID-19

COVID-19

Today is the day. I submitted my super high level explainer video on how I modeled the COVID-19 about  a week ago and I got an email from my professor telling me that it was great (yay) and that she had uploaded it to her labs youtube channel. That means I finally get to share it with all of you!

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Day 240: Conferencing at a distance!

video conferencing

video conferencing

Not everyone has access to such luxurious setups.

It’s that time of the year again, well one of two times of the year really (for us anyway). Unfortunately with the coronavirus conferences are better held virtually than in person. While I have mixed feelings about the usefulness of meeting virtually to share our work, I am grateful that there are workarounds, don’t get me wrong, but there are some logistics that make it, well painful and some things that make this worthwhile.

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Day 238: Well spoke too soon…

USS Roosevelt Outbreak Navy Guam

USS Roosevelt Outbreak Navy Guam

Yesterday I gave an update on the USS Roosevelt situation. It was basically an update to the predictions I made about how the military was going to handle it and it turns out I was on point. Today is going to be a short post, but I guess there is more to add to the story so let’s just go ahead and get started.

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Day 237: Coronavirus and the military response – Part 3

USS Theodore Roosevelt

USS Theodore Roosevelt

Well it’s been ten days since I made my predictions about what would happen with the crew of the USS Theodore Roosevelt and it looks like we have some updates so let’s see how close I was to guessing what was going to happen. Let me just start by saying, I hate it when I’m right about this stuff. Some of the things I predicted were longer term, but some of the shorter things we can compare.

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Day 236: Ugh, coder’s block

coder's block

Okay, maybe not just coder’s block, but I feel like I’ve hit a wall. Every homework assignment I’m given for this class includes a “create your own problem and solve it,” element and for the first two assignments I feel like the topic sort of found me. We can talk about what those two projects were, but let’s first talk about this latest assignment.

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Day 235: Video making issues

microphone

microphone

I’m not normally one for making videos, in this case I have to make (or rather narrate) two videos for this class. The first one was for our big class project and the second was explaining the COVID-19 model I created. It turns out narating isn’t as easy as it looks, even with a script.

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Day 234: Learning… at a distance

distance learning

distance learning

Believe it or not, I don’t mind the quarantine. I mean sure going out without the fear of catching the coronavirus is nice, but I’m not generally a social person. There is one thing that has taken some getting used to however, that would be the education portion of the quarantine. Distance learning isn’t particularly enjoyable for me and I’m fairly sure I’m not the only one.

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Day 233: Coronavirus modeling – Part 6

DeathsModel-NEW

Model estimated death rate plotted in blue compared to the actual death rate plotted in purple. The model predicts deaths based on the previous infected datapoint, so it’s only predicting 1 day ahead, which is not very helpful. However, it lets me check that my model is running correctly.

Another day another unfortunate datapoint for my model validation. On one hand it’s good to be able to further validate my model, on the other, it’s heartbreaking to see it coming to pass. My model prediction isn’t pretty and the trend so far has been very similar to the model. Let’s talk about how we validate the model.

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Day 232: Coronavirus modeling – Part 5

SEIR flowchart

Well I did it! I finished my model to the best of my abilities. There are a few things I wish I had time to change or do differently, but I think that just comes from actually doing it and not having a clear idea of how I wanted to do it when I started. Let’s take a little look at some of the outputs from the model and I’ll talk a little bit on what the model is designed for, it’s limitations, and the things I wish I could’ve done differently

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Day 231: Coronavirus modeling – Part 4

Deadline

Still working on my model. It’s taking a little bit longer than I wanted it to take, but I’m getting somewhere finally… I think. In any case, I don’t have a lot of time for an update. So for now this is it. I’m making progress, but I still need to get it done before my deadline, which is fast approaching. Hopefully I can manage before then. Back to work I go!


Day 230: Coronavirus modeling – Part 3

Models

Comic by: XKCD

Well today will need to be short. I broke my model… on purpose, but it still broke. That means I need to go back and check my equations, make sure my assumptions are correct, then figure out why the heck I’m getting the results I’m getting. I have a good idea about what the problem is, I’m just not sure how I want to try to fix it.

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Day 229: Coronavirus modeling – Part 2

Here we have my estimated exposed population vs the measured infected population, the exposed population is calculated two ways, the first using our susceptible population dynamics (blue) and the second is using our measured infected rate (orange). This is compared to our measured infected since we would expect to see a much higher exposed (asymptomatic) population than infected (symptomatic) population, which we do.

Here we have my estimated exposed population vs the measured infected population, the exposed population is calculated two ways, the first using our susceptible population dynamics (blue) and the second is using our measured infected rate (orange). This is compared to our measured infected since we would expect to see a much higher exposed (asymptomatic) population than infected (symptomatic) population, which we do.

Here we have my estimated exposed population vs the measured infected population, the exposed population is calculated two ways, the first using our susceptible population dynamics (blue) and the second is using our measured infected rate (orange). This is compared to our measured infected since we would expect to see a much higher exposed (asymptomatic) population than infected (symptomatic) population, which we do.

I’ve made a lot of progress! Unfortunately, my model needs some more work and the code is pretty messy right now. For now, I’ll share some of my outputs and discuss what I need to do to finish my assignment. It turns out I have a few extra days to finish the work, I thought it was due Monday, instead it is due Wednesday. The slides and write up are going to take the longest so I’m still crunched for time even though I am mostly done. Let’s go over it.

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Day 228: Coronavirus modeling – Part 1

Coronavirus modeling

Well the CO of the Roosevelt just got reprimanded just like I predicted. Ever predictable as usual, thanks military. In any case, that isn’t what we are talking about today. Today we are discussing the coronavirus model I’m creating, why it’s important and why no one should believe a model. I’m being slightly facetious, but read on and I’ll explain. I’ll even share some of my model results, it’s not finished, but I thought it would be interesting to share anyway.

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