Day 665 – Who knew?

According to this article – written by a Professor of Health Sciences, a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry, a Professor of Mechanical Engineering and… er… a Research Scientist punching way above his weight – being with a lot of people, in a poorly ventilated space, without face coverings or while singing, shouting and exercising, (or any combination of the above) can result in a higher likelihood of you catching Covid-19.

This isn’t new news, of course. We’ve known all of these things for quite a while, but the authors here have come up with a way of putting a figure on each of the scenarios. They’ve even made a calculator for you to estimate your own risk in doing whatever you are doing, including how long you are doing it for.

Clever stuff.

But these are just estimates. We can’t put an exact figure on any of this. And we can’t say that being with someone silently, outdoors, with a mask on, in the breeze means that you won’t get Covid. This is a Swiss Cheese Defence, where no one single precaution will prevent transmission completely, but where a combination of efforts can limit your chances of being infected. The more precautions you take, the more likely you are to avoid getting it.

Of course, underpinning all of this is our best weapon: the vaccine. That’s the single thing you can do to protect yourself and your family more than anything else.

This is especially important to understand with the Omicron variant, given that it is so much more infectious than the previous iterations of the virus. And I know that you knew all this already, but there are an increasing number of people who are proclaiming that the pandemic is over, and thus giving up on the measures to stop it, and that is still a bit of a stretch. We’re not there yet.

Keep safe.
Avoid klapping gym boet in an overcrowded Crossfit place built in a light industrial unit.
Or going to church.

Day 662 – That Comet

It all seems so long ago now. In a galaxy far, far away.

But it was actually less than 3 weeks ago when the boy wonder and I stood on the front stoop at Suiderstrand and tried to find Comet Leonard somewhere in the vast Western skies over the South Atlantic Ocean.

A little route finding via instructions on the internet and a bit of good fortune, and there it was (sort of) in plain view. Kind of about that far [indicates an approximate distance] across to the left at about 10 o’clock from Jupiter.

Don’t bother looking now, of course.

Things will have moved.

We tried a million (only just an exaggeration) different ways of photographing it, fiddling with the ISO and the shutter speed on most every shot, and given that the wind was PUMPING, the locals had the place lit up – appropriately enough – like a Christmas tree, and we didn’t have any specialist equipment like a tracking mount and the like, I’m fairly happy with the results. A little tweak here and there in Lightroom has made a difference too.

Here are a few of our efforts:

Both at 211mm | 6s | f5.6 | ISO 6400

Yes, some streaking because of the exposure length required to get enough comet action, but actually, that only serves to make it look like it was moving very fast. Which it was of course (see below), but this isn’t whizzing in and out of the stars like you see in a movie or a cartoon. And yes, those two above are crops because even at 200mm, it’s still just a tiny smudge in the sky:

200mm | 8s | f5.6 | ISO 8000

In fact, even at 150mm (the widest my chosen lens could get) you’re still getting quite a good zoom on the thing. I should have taken a shot of the whole sky. The more I think about it, the more I realise that we did well to find it, let alone shoot it.

150mm | 2s | f5.6 | ISO 16000

A quick wave to (and a wish upon) the photobombing shooting star on that one.

Many people (with or without better equipment than me) will have taken many better shots of Comet Leonard, but I don’t care. We went out after dinner, stood in the relative darkness and the northwest wind with a tripod and a basic DSLR and took photos of a little 1km diameter ball of ice travelling away from us at 254,411 kph (70.67 km a second!!) and already 106,909,845 km distant.


More Comet Leonard information.

Day 658 – Use it/Don’t use it

I get asked a lot about the best way to vaporise chicken legs. You do a bit of microbiology and messing around with science, and suddenly everyone thinks you’re the go-to for all things vaporisey (at least as far as chicken legs go).

But I quickly deflect to my default position on this sort thing, pointing people straight to the maker of this video, “NileRed Shorts”.

It’s well worth 1:51 of your time.

Watch and wince…

Fascinating – and terrifying.

For me it was the bit at the end (spoiler) when he says: “There was absolutely nothing left”, and I looked and thought, “Yeah, but it’s just masked by the bubbles. Wait til they clear and….HOLY F!”

Anyway, as the title suggests, I’m just putting this out there for the science of it all.

Use it/Don’t use it.

And by that, I mean… Don’t use it.

Really. Don’t.

Day 657 – Webcams

We’ve covered the Isle of Man webcams quite extensively on here, not least when some kind soul popped out into the cold to wipe down one of the lenses for me, using – it turned out – a duster on a pole.


Well, now I’ve stumbled across a channel on Youtube on which you can watch some South African (actually exclusively Western Cape) webcams – live.
Strand, Clifton, Ceres, Milnerton and Muizenbeagle are all represented with impressive HD feeds:

…(albeit occasional wonky horizons), and so you can check out the surf, the chicks and the fynbos from the comfort of your home.

Click through to their website and you can view other places like Durban, Pretoria, Kruger National Park and even Tau Lodge where we went, back in… (yikes)… 2007!

Happy viewing, viewers!