Quarantine Chronicles Day 23: It’s craft time; let’s make a mask! It’s safer than taking one from strangers

Here’s the latest from the idiotnet. Warnings are going out that somewhere (no one says where. IT COULD BE ON YOUR BLOCK!) there are people going door-to-door handing out masks, saying it’s part of a local government initiative.

They ask you to try it on to see if it fits, but, thing is, it’s doused with a chemical that knocks you out, and so they step over your comatose body and steal your jewelry, your grandmother’s silver candlesticks and everything else of value.

So, the spreaders of this obviously wack story, seeking only to be helpful, advise you not to accept masks from strangers, and to make sure you pass along this info to your friends.

Eventually, through the power and reach of the internet, these poison-mask gangs will run out of victims who don’t know about this gambit, thanks to you. You’re a hero.

The yarn is, naturally, false so far, though it might give some aspiring thieves an idea, so, out of an abundance of caution, you probably still shouldn’t accept masks from strangers.

So, with the Centers for Disease Control recommending everyone wear a mask, how are you supposed to get one, with stores sold out and the door-to-door gangs not worth the risk? Once again we retreat to the internet where you’ll find hundreds of helpful sites and videos about how to make your own mask.

The biggest batch of DIY mask instructions involve sewing, and I know more about open-die drop-forging  than sewing. (Although, in my favor, I did run a blind stitch machine in my tween years. What, you’ve never worked in a sweatshop?) So, right away I tossed out all ideas involving sewing as being undoable.

Most of the non-sewing alternatives involve stuff you have around the house. Vacuum-cleaner bags, coffee filters, socks, mechanics’ shop towels and T-shirts. The vast array of life-hackery instructions on how to make a mask is amazing, and most of them scared me off because, look, I’m a stylish guy, and it’s really hard to look good in most of these contrivances.

For instance, I considered one of the ideas on how to make a mask by cutting up a T-shirt, but the end result had the user tying the mask’s strings not only behind the neck, but also on top of the head and, as much as I want to live forever, I’m not gonna do it if it involves tying a bow on top of my head. I may look like a filthy hermit right now in Day 23 of living like an aging Howard Hughes, but my dignity remains intact.

I searched some more and was beginning to figure I’d just wait until some strangers came to the door offering me a mask, and then I found a short video someone posted on Facebook. I wish I could find it again, but on Facebook, whenever you find something interesting, you can never go back later and find it again, so I can’t credit the woman who made the instructional. But, happily, I had memorized the technique: You take a T-shirt (you with me so far?) and cut off one of the sleeves, cutting about an inch and a half away from the sleeve’s seam. Done! (I know!) Now you just slip the sleeve over your head till it’s covering your nose and mouth. And you can increase its already impressive efficacy by tossing a coffee filter into the front

True, you might look like Mort from the Bazooka Joe comics (sorry, I don’t have a more modern reference), but as a medical health expert would say, “Them droplets ain’t going anywhere.”

It’s the Occam’s Razor of DIY safety masks.

Now, go ahead and lop off the other arm and you’ve got an extra to wear while the other one’s in the wash.

With that said, if you want some advice on how to make or buy a mask without mauling a piece of your wardrobe, the Long Beach Post has you covered.

Turning to the mailbag: Reader Janine Ransom sent in a nice letter about her isolation (her essentially working husband comes home in time for dinner).

“My husband and I binge-watched ‘Outlander,’ all 5 seasons. Claire makes way too many poor decisions! We have started over with season one of ‘NCIS.’

“Of course, I prepare a delicious, gourmet dinner for him each evening and keep the house clean and tidy. (Make your bed every morning!)

“Today, I repaired the broken tiles on the kitchen sink counter.

“I have a teddy bear in my window.

“I’m finding my enthusiasm for being ‘safer at home’ is waning. I watched videos on my phone today for two hours. What a rabbit hole that can be! Sleeping until noon is looking better all the time.”

And how is everyone else handling this cave-dwelling days? Drop me a note about how you’re filling your time at [email protected], or @grobaty on Twitter and Facebook.

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Tim Grobaty is a columnist and opinions editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his newspaper career at the Press-Telegram in 1976 as a copy boy and moved on to feature writer, music critic, TV critic, copy editor and daily columnist. He’s the author of several books, including I’m Dyin’ Here, and he lives in Long Beach.
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