photos

    Hackney Marshes on a Monday morning in October
    This is what Hackney Marshes looks like on a Monday morning in October

    #WeStandWithRNLI

    My parents taught me to always give to the RNLI when they’re collecting, because of how important and dangerous the sea is. Lifeboat crews deserve all our support.

    Some idiots don’t think so. Instead they want our seaborne heroes to let people drown if they don’t have the right papers.

    Fuck that shit, and fuck those people.

    HOPE Not Hate’s We Stand With RNLI image
    HOPE Not Hate’s We Stand With RNLI image

    Vax 2

    Got my second dose of the vaccine today, just about an hour and a half ago. Down to a local pharmacy, fifteen minutes early for my appointment, and home before my actual appointment time. It was empty! Worryingly so. Why aren’t people queuing up to get their jags?

    Me with the pharmacy in the background
    Me, after vaccination, with the pharmacy in the background

    At the Olympic Park Again

    Cycled down to the Olympic Park today. Took a few photos.

    I’m writing a story at the moment – a novel, part of which will form the dissertation for my MA – which is set during the London Olympics. Nine years ago. Nine years! Anyway, the ArcelorMittal Orbit will probably play a role.

    Today’s weather report
    Today’s weather report

    Good morning (just).

    These days I double-mask
    These days I double-mask -- as well as using tape

    Stop Your Glasses Steaming Up by Sticking the Top of Your Mask to Your Face Using Micropore Tape

    The problem

    If, like all sensible people, you wear a mask over your mouth and nose when you go out these days; and if, like me and millions of others, you wear glasses; then you will have experienced your breath causing your glasses to steam up.

    The cause is a fundamental flaw in mask design: the mask fabric makes a straight line from our cheeks to the bridge of our noses, leaving a gap between face and mask seam. Most of our out-breaths are directed that way, just by taking the path of least resistance.

    Some masks have a wire insert that lets you mould the top section around your nose. I find that improves things, but is still imperfect. There are always gaps.

    The Bigger Problem

    This means that the masks are not as effective as they should be for their primary purpose. All that warm, damp air that’s condensing on our glasses is also the air that might be carrying virus particles.

    So while this solution helps with the steamed-up glasses problem, it also helps to make masks more effective, by ensuring that more of our potentially-poisonous breath goes through the fabric.

    The Solution

    It’s quite simple: apply a strip of micropore tape to the section of the mask that goes over the bridge of your nose, and seal it down well.

    A COVID-19-type facemask lying on a surface alongside a roll of micropore tape.
    Mask and Micropore

    Micropore tape is normally used for fixing dressings on wounds, so it’s designed to stick to skin and come off with minimal fuss (though see below).

    The roll we had when I thought of this is quite wide, so I’ve been folding a piece over and attaching it to the inside of the mask (at @FranChats’s suggestion).

    A COVID-19-type facemask with a piece of micropore tape attached.
    Mask With Micropore

    As you can see, it’s not attached very tidily, but we’re not in this for the aesthetics.

    A balding man (the author) wearing a COVID-19-type facemask and glasses.
    Martin With Mask With Micropore

    And it’s not actually visible when the mask is on.

    The New Problems: Removal, and Sensitivity

    Taking the taped mask off is the worst part, in my experience. I’ve been doing it quickly: take off my glasses (otherwise they might go flying across the room); unhook the ear loops and take a firm grip of them; close my eyes; then tug sharply forward.1

    It can make your eyes water, but honestly, for clear vision outside on these cold days, it’s worth it.

    Removing it slowly might be better for some people. And the whole thing will not be for some. If you have very sensitive skin, or get a reaction to the adhesive, then this won’t be for you. But if you can take it, I highly recommend it.

    Lastly, my pictures show a reusable mask, but it works for disposables too.


    1. Though see my later post. I think I’ll be doing it slowly from now on. ↩︎

    A Christmas cake (rich fruit cake) sitting on a cooling rack.
    Christmas cake cooling on a rack

    When Election Night Went On For Days

    For the first time in my life (apart from occasional odd minutes in hotels on business trips) I’m watching CNN. It’s 5am on the US east coast, 3am on the west; yet every few seconds, it seems like, we get this:

    A placeholder card on CNN Go, saying that a commercial break is in progress and that the broadcast will resume momentarily.
    An ad break on CNN International

    Sometimes, too, there’s an actual advert, but luckily I’ve been able to scrub through them.

    The actual coverage is good, though. They’re providing good information, lots of details. They’re also calling out Trump’s lies, as is the proper thing to do.

    Of course, since most of the time there’s nothing much happening, they’re having a hard time of it.

    We remain gripped.

    A blue sky with mottled, fluffy, white clouds. The type sometimes called a mackerel sky.
    The sky over Hackney, this morning
    Lava lamp, processed with Prisma
    Lava lamp, processed with Prisma

    Covid Track

    This is one of our local parks. Look at that desire-line track, fading into the distance (click or tap on the picture to see it bigger).

    A footpath worn in grass across a park.
    A path made by many people, avoiding each other

    The paved footpath is off to the right. That track – a simple, direct route, that avoids the footpath – wasn’t there a year ago. The novel coronavirus changes the landscape.

    Last night’s pizza: the wee tables in the box were triangular! I’ve never seen the like.

    Takeaway pizza with triangular support 'tables'
    Takeaway pizza with triangular support 'tables'

    This is the least rustic-looking bread I’ve ever baked.

    Two loaves of surprisingly-professional-looking homemade bread on a wire cooling rack
    Some surprisingly-professional-looking homemade bread

    This street sign in Hackney today represents the times we live in.

    Electronic street sign showing question marks
    Electronic street sign showing question marks

    How I prepare to go out on days like these.

    Masked, Hatted, Shaded

    Lying Sack

    Nice to see the gentle description of Mary Wakefield in Wikipedia this morning:

    The start of Mary Wakefield's Wikipedia entry, this morning

    In case you don’t know, Wakefield is married to Dominic Cummings. She works for The Spectator, and wrote the now-famous piece about her and Cummings’s experience suffering from Covid-19. All without mentioning their drive across the country.

    Hence the delightful opening – now removed, predictably – in Wikipedia, describing her as “a lying sack of potatoes”.

    Homemade Rolls

    Not to blow my own trumpet, but I made these rolls today. They are the closest thing I’ve ever had this side of Scotland to the rolls I grew up with.

    My New Rolls

    I used this recipe that was published in The Scotsman. It involves overnight fermentation in the fridge, and the trick to getting the crispy outside is coating them with a mixture of plain flour and rice flour before baking.

    Main problem is 500g of flour makes only eight rolls! And it’s kinda hard to get bread flour at the moment.

    Just been for a bike ride. I think I’ve forgotten how my legs work.

    Lots of people out, mostly keeping their distance.

    Down to the Olympic Park. Nice view of the Orbit.

    Venturing Out: A Status Report from Hackney

    I had cause to go to Westfield in Stratford the other day. It looked like this at about noon:

    IMG 3608

    The Levis shop was open. I was picking up some jeans that had been in for repair. That’s a good note for when this is all over, incidentally. If your Levis wear into holes or get torn, most of their shops offer a repair service now. They may have done for years; I only learned about it a month or so back. But it means that for significantly less than a new pair of jeans, I have two good-as-new pairs, including the ones which were already my favourites. One antidote to fast fashion.

    There was almost no-one around, and no-one was getting very close to anyone. In Lakeland I was able to get a refill (really, replacement) for one of our SodaStream CO2 cylinders. But they didn’t have any new ones. It seems unlikely that those have been panic-bought, but I was thinking of getting an extra one in case it becomes hard to get replacements, so others might have been ahead of me.

    In and out within half an hour, and the parking was the least I’ve ever paid at Westfield: £3. I wouldn’t normally drive if I wasn’t buying much, but getting on the Overground would have been the opposite of social distancing.

    Or maybe not, if it had been as empty as the mall.

    But just yesterday I gave my daughter a lift to a friend’s house — same idea, avoid the bus — and up in Stamford Hill at around 4:30pm it was really busy with pedestrians. A lot of cars on the road, too. Maybe that was normal or less than, for that time on a Tuesday, though.

    Dropped into the wee Sainsbury’s on the way back. No fresh fruit or veg at all. Most tinned goods and bread gone — no toilet rolls, obviously — plenty of snacks and crisps, surprisingly. Either panic-buyers prefer healthy options, or Sainsbury’s are quicker at getting unhealthy supplies back.

    I have to confess to feeling a small amount of smugness at having stocked up over the last year or so. Brexit was the initial trigger, but I soon realised that having a supply of non-perishable items is actually pretty useful. If you can afford to buy a bit extra from time to time, and you’ve got the space to store it all, of course.

    On the other hand, meals are going to get dull really fast without a regular supply of fresh things.

    But if that’s the most we have to worry about, we’re doing better than many. I hope you are coping OK, dear reader.

Older Posts →