The Daily Parker

Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog

Sick on flying?

The Economist's Gulliver blog this morning asked exactly the same question I did when I woke up: how likely is it to get ill from flying on an airplane? Not very:

Planes are widely regarded as flying disease-incubators. If one passenger is sick with a contagious disease and coughing those germs into the air, it makes sense for fellow-flyers to feel that the germs will simply be inhaled by everyone else on the flight, since there is nowhere else for the things to go.

In reality, though, the situation is not that bad. Allen Parmet, a former US Air Force flight surgeon who serves as an aerospace medicine consultant, explained recently to The Verge, a technology and science news site, that infections actually don’t spread well on planes. The reason is the very dry air in the cabin. Many bacteria die in the low humidity. As for viruses, they travel on water droplets when a person coughs or sneezes. But these water droplets also evaporate in the low humidity, and the plane’s fast airflow from ceiling to floor prevents them from travelling far.

[M]ost viruses take days to show symptoms, and there were indications that the illness was contracted by people before they boarded the plane. This tale will probably end the usual way. A few passengers, by the laws of probability, will get sick in the coming week, and they will assume it had something to do with all the germs floating around the plane. It may not be true, but it is for them a satisfying enough explanation.

Well, sure, but I swear the dozen or so babies and toddlers running around (literally) my cabin earlier this week may have contributed to how I felt today.

Missed the rain, barely

Yesterday, the Cubs and Mets played to a 1-1 draw at Wrigley when the game got suspended in the 10th due to torrential rain. (They resume in about 20 minutes.) My department bought us rooftop tickets, so we got to see most of the game between the waves of thunderstorms that preceded and interrupted it:

I got supremely lucky: the first wave of thunderstorms hit just as I was getting on the bus to go to the park, finished its deluge just as I got off the bus, and the second wave hit while I was on the bus going back home. So I caught the tail end of the second wave, but only a few drops between the bus and my house.

I'll update this post with the final score whenever they have one.

Update: The Cubs won, 2-1 in the 11th.

It was 30 years ago today

I found this photo just in time for its 30th anniversary. That's me on my first full day on campus, 27 August 1988. The guy in the '80s mesh shirt is my first college roommate.

That night, he and a few of his new friends did beer funnels in the room, forcing me to go to sleep with two drunk idiots lying on our floor in pools of beer.

I got a new roommate the day room moves opened up 4 weeks later. I have no idea what became of the guy, but I imagine he sells insurance or something.

Update: According to his Facebook profile, he's a chiropractor now. I would never have guessed that. Never.

New personal record

It's official: until noon today, I hadn't left the state of Illinois for 215 days, 20 hours, and 15 minutes. Then I crossed into Wisconsin and stayed about a hundred meters over the border for a few hours. The previous record was 214 days and change, set when I was, oh, 11.

Today is also the 30th anniversary of the day I arrived at university. Tomorrow, I'll have art, unless I lose my nerve.

Also, it was really, really warm today. But that wasn't a record, just a bad day to spend outside.

Not such a batty idea

The Cook County Forest Preserve District is building "bat condos:"

The 4-by-4-foot structures, which look like doghouses without doors or windows, rest atop 12-foot stilts and are big enough for as many as 2,000 bats, or, more specifically, bat mothers.

“These ‘bat condos’ are really bat maternity colonies,” said Margaret Frisbie, the Friends’ executive director. “You get a whole bunch of bats in there and then they help each other survive.”

Bats help control populations of mosquitoes and other insects, pollinate plants and disperse seeds that play an important role in the ecosystem.

Longtime readers may remember that a bat tried to move into my condo a few years ago:

Weekend!

Lots of running around today doing chores and such. Not that interesting, though I did pick out some paint colors. 

Right, not that interesting.

At least you don't have to watch it dry.

Late summer lazy day

The weather today inclined me to spend a lot of time outside in my neighborhood, except for the part that I had to spend inside working on the new Apollo Chorus website. (We're launching this week!)

Regular posting will probably resume tomorrow.

Yuck

It's the hottest weekend of the year so far. We beat the high temperature on June 30th by half a degree (35.6°C v 36.1°C) yesterday, and so far today we've hovered around 32°C for the past four hours. So, naturally, I walked about 5 km earlier today to check out some open houses.

I'm ready for fall. Just as soon as I take my second shower of the day...

Personal note on travel

I love to travel. So I was surprised to learn, after chasing a hunch, that I haven't been outside the state of Illinois since January 22nd, 194 days ago. I confirmed this with Google Timeline.

The last time I've gone this long without traveling to another state (or country), as far as I can tell, was 3 August 1981 to 5 March 1982, a gap of 214 days. But my family probably went up to Wisconsin at some point during that period, so I can't exactly call that a reliable record. Same with the 213-day gap between 4 January 1979 and 5 August 1979 that's on the record. (These dates come from my mom's journals, which is why I'm not sure they're complete.)

So it's possible that this is the longest time in my entire life that I've gone without crossing a state line. And if I don't leave Illinois before my next scheduled trip on August 31st, that'll be 221 days, and absolutely a lifetime record.

What surprises me even more is that I didn't realize this until yesterday. Weird.