Big and Small

In the UK people have been talking about lifting lockdown, with the mandatory wearing of masks in public places. My gut feel is that our government is libertarian in nature, so won’t go near that. They might advise, but I doubt they’ll mandate. “Experts” seem split on whether they are effective or not (the masks, not the government. Everybody is pretty unanimous about the government!) I think it is a case of choose an expert who fits in with what you already think. So one of the questions I have had on my list of things I really need to do, (and sooner rather than later) has been to evaluate the question of just how much use a facemask would be.

I started off, I must admit, thinking: particles small, gaps in the mesh of facemask fibres big, so really did not see the point in wearing one. But I might be changing my mind.

My plan this morning was to find out the size of your average COVID-19 particle, then to research the denier scale, previously encoutered only in the context of women’s tights! My gut feel was that gaps between fibres would be enormous in comparison to the size of this virus.

I ran out of time (I needed to call people) so I never got to find out about Denier. For all I know, it could be the wrong thing entirely. I did have some success, though. My very first hit yielded me a virus size of 0.02 microns. A micron is just 10-6m. That’s actually quite large – okay, well, it’s small, but it is more than a million times bigger than an atom, say, which comes in at roughly 10-15m. Something like my water filter claims to trap particles of that kind of size. If only I could breathe through my water filter, I’d drown instead 😆

Actually the graph that came with that number was interesting. They might have already done the work for me. I don’t own the copyright on any of this, so will just link to their graph and cross my fingers that it stays good.


So the material used to make a surgical mask will filter out 89% of particles which are the same size as COVID. Now, I have no idea who the authors are, how reputable they are, but I thought the image represented a useful start point for later. They at least read as pretty serious.

The thing I picked up from this is that even just a (presumably knitted, common-or-garden) scarf might halve the flow of covid-sized particles. So maybe I will be changing my mind after all about masks.

Probably, more to come on this one.

Fandango’s shdfjlgolggbkvbm (3 June 2020)

For my first time, I’m going to post a single response to two prompts today, both by Fandango. His One Word Challenge (FOWC) prompt is lance, and his Provocative Question prompt, which is:

What is the one thing in life that you are most excited about right now? Why?

My post is valid for FOWC, but it is a cop-out for FPQ. I can’t really think of much that is exciting. I’m sorry. I’m sure the obvious thing is the end of lockdown, but as I posted the other day, I haven’t really felt locked down. I feel my entry into and exit from lockdown has been planned, so exciting is not a word I would use.

I dunno, I tend not to get excited about things these days, because life is pretty same-same. We always used to take our family holidays at this time, before daughter got to secondary school, They were always nice, but the last time I went away anywhere (though fortunately without daughter) was in 2015.

The most excited I ever get these days is with food, and even then it is pretty small-time. I suppose that is because I have to watch what I eat, so tend to eat quite simple stuff. I normally don’t eat ready-meals because I prefer to know exactly what I’m eating, but I did enjoy my shop-bought vegetable tikka masala last night. If I cooked, I’d eat curry every night. But hardly exciting.

Aside from this, I have been thinking about Fandango’s question for fifteen minutes and haven’t come up with anything. So, I guess there’s my answer! If nothing immediately springs to mind, then by definition, it can’t really be exciting, can it?

So today I’ll just post a clip of something I used to find exciting, pre-stroke. I was heavily into my cycling and in fact when I walked away from IT, I became a bicycle mechanic. I would ride hundreds of miles per month, and even though I was way past it myself, I enjoyed watching cycle races. Of the pro cyclists, Marco Pantani was my favourite, and my first trip to see the Tour de France was to see him win on the Champs Élysées in 1998. I visited stages of the Tour maybe another half dozen times, but Pantani declined from that point. He was seemingly permanently embroiled in dope controversies and in fact OD’d, having pretty much walked away from the sport, in 2004. He was, and is, and will always be, my favourite. This clip is Marco’s last hurrah – beating Lance Armstrong on the mighty Mont Ventoux, down in Provence, in 2000.

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