May 23, 2020

"On average, the human body sheds its entire bag of skin — more than a billion cells — every 28 days."

"Since the beginning of self-quarantine, I have shed my husk more than twice, casting off thousands of skin cells each second.... Household dust, a lively field of scientific study, is thought to contain domestic life in microcosm: mainly sloughed-off skin and hair, but also sweater fibers and pet dander, dried-out bugs and tracked-in outdoor dirt.... My dust is me, and the friends I can’t have over. Yours is you, and the life outside your window, and the life of every tenant before you. Gross — but who right now can turn down company?... In quarantine... I dust the baseboards. I dust the dark side of the fan blades. I dust the tops of the light bulbs in my lamps. I dust for a universe I can control. The thing about dusting is it is endless. Even as you dust, you make dust.... I am so, so tired of endlessness: the unrelenting boredom, the cycles of self-pity, the constant systemic breakdown, the eternity of death. I long to think about big, dumb things that have an end: a steak from a restaurant, the nave in a church, a hug from a friend of a friend, the Grand Canyon."

From "You’re Never Alone in a Dusty Apartment" by Jamie Lauren Keiles" (NYT).

That got me reading about dust in Wikipedia, where there is a separate article on "Dust Bunnies." Excerpt:
They are made of hair, lint, dead skin, spider webs, dust and sometimes light rubbish and debris and are held together by static electricity and felt-like entanglement....

Hayao Miyazaki's films My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away feature Susuwatari, or soot sprites, which are a type of dust bunny.
There's a separate article on "Susuwatari"... which look like this:

48 comments:

Fernandistein said...

dust bunny

"Slut's wool".

article on "Dust Bunnies."

Bad link.

Phidippus said...

"...sheds its entire bag of skin..."? Really? I think of mine as a supple envelope, which is self-renewing.

There sure are a lot of navel-gazing neurotics writing for the New York Times, aren't there? And Our Hostess makes sure we hear about them. Thanks, Hostess!

"I am so, so tired of endlessness: ...the eternity of death."

When they're not whining about uncertainty, or chaos (usually someone else's), they're whining about the inevitability of their death. You can't please these people!

Naturally, our writer (hanging on as she is by her once-manicured fingernails) leaves out the most important component of our domestic dust ecosystem: the mites that eat that stuff, especially the exfoliated skin cells. Yum, yum! Nature wastes nothing.

Their poop in turn gives certain humans, almost certainly including Jamie Lauren Keiles, severe allergies.

So we see that Nature has a sense of humor, too. We happen to be on the receiving end of it much of the time, but that doesn't mean it's not funny.

I went out today and did some photography at a local nature preserve. I had a wonderful time, and so did the frogs who kept me company. The film is in the wash right now. No time to be depressed, I have new negatives to print next week!

rhhardin said...

It keeps your skin from getting dusty.

dustbunny said...

No comment.

Ann Althouse said...

Bad link fixed. Sorry.

Big Mike said...

@Althouse, how can you discuss dust bunnies without quoting the Queen of dust bunnies?

Sebastian said...

"Gross"

Why?

The only gross thing here is the government command to stay locked down and the citizen's submission to that command.

Inga said...

Moisturize! Then your dust is less dry.

Just kidding.

tcrosse said...

Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Inga said...

Or you can scrub yourself raw with a Loofa in the shower.

RK said...

Dust bunnies are also known as ghost turds by young military people who get room inspections.

Mary Beth (the commenter) said...

Speaking of My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, I am counting the days (4 more!) until Studio Ghibli movies are on HBO.

wholelottasplainin' said...

Years ago the London tube authorities reported that the main component collected by the filters used on their huge underground exhaust fans was...human skin fragments.

Ewwwww!!

clint said...

This made me seriously consider one of those overpriced Dyson HEPA filter fans, if I can find one without the Alexa-wifi upgrade.

Then it made me go and add several Miyazaki movies to my to-watch list.

Phidippus said...

RK: Ghosts are imaginary, but their turds are all too real.

Darkisland said...

See my previous comment on john Kerry in the clean room shedding contamination from his uncovered face.

John Henry

Megaera said...

We have two German Shepherds and a Malamute/Shepherd mix; we don't have dust bunnies, we have dust coyotes that run the baseboards at night. Even outside of scheduled and unscheduled shedding seasons we usually have enough hair and unidentifiable stuff floating around to build a whole nother dog every month. In spring I put a chunk of it in a mesh bag and hang it in a tree for the birds to build nests with -- seems well received.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

What's wrong with an occasional Dust Bunny? They don't pee on the carpet like puppies or scratch the furniture like cats.

(I kid...I hate dust and clutter)

My on line name was chosen to represent the forgotten and suddenly remembered memories. The odds and ends of thoughts that collect unnoticed in the corner of our minds until someone or something shakes them loose.

Hearing an old song from your wild youth, reading a passage of a book, that you read in high school, the smell of ripe cantaloupe ....."Ooooh...yeah...now I remember that from 45 years ago! I thought I forgot!" Clear as day once you discover the lost dust bunny and bring it out to examine.

Dust Bunnies of the Mind, and I am the Queen of misplaced thoughts and memories.

Tomcc said...

She needs to start a blog.
Think of all the people you've hoovered up your nose over the course of your life.

Bob Smith said...

As an aside I got a robot vacuum and it’s a revelation how much stuff it finds.

Achilles said...

Pretty sure that scene is Spirited Away. Same author better movie. Same critters more or less.

bagoh20 said...

I don't have any, but it would be helpful if tattoos would shed occasionally.

Bay Area Guy said...

"On average, the human body sheds its entire bag of skin — more than a billion cells — every 28 days."

Yep. And, while we're at it, the human body, on average, has 40 Trillion bacteria (which is more than number of human cells) swimming around 400 Trillion viruses in your body.

That's even true on healthiest of days.

Ann Althouse said...

“ Pretty sure that scene is Spirited Away. Same author better movie. Same critters more or less.”

Read the post again. It is cited.

Rob said...

I'm still not entirely clear why, since the skin regenerates itself constantly, scars and tattoos are permanent. Nor why in a world of quantum mechanics, objects have permanence. Or the appeal of rap music. So many mysteries in the universe.

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

... thousands of skin cells each second.... Household dust, a lively field of scientific study, is thought to contain domestic life in microcosm: mainly sloughed-off skin and hair

ok...

...but what about when you go to clean behind the sofa,
and you find, like, a whole corpse ? And it's not a bunny?

Ingachuck'stoothlessARM said...

maybe an OCD version of "Fatal Attraction"

...where Glen Close boils a dust bunny

Rory said...

"In spring I put a chunk of it in a mesh bag and hang it in a tree for the birds to build nests with -- seems well received."

I do this, too, except I never thought of the bag. Good idea.

BleachBit-and-Hammers said...

Speaking of poison dust in the wind.

Australian researchers see virus design manipulation

And such wonderful timing.

Yancey Ward said...

I created my own COVID-19 spreadsheet for the US from the COVID Tracking Project Data. Below is a link. I am not sure how this will work for sharing the file since it is the first time I have ever done this in Google Sheets. I added several columns of calculations based on the data, mostly daily increases in values and 7 Day moving averages of the important ones, new tests, new cases, new recoveries, and new deaths. You are welcome to make your own copy of the file if you wish, though I don't know if embedded calculations will copy this way or not.

COVID-19 US Data as of May 23rd, 2020.

Narr said...

Self-absorbed NYTwit.

Narr
All our yesterdays have lighted fools to dusty death . . .

Narr said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ndspinelli said...

DBQ, Good to read you. I wwould love a Gavin Newsom covid rant from you.

ken in tx said...

In Officer Training school, we had to rid our floors of dust by--after sweeping--taping a strip of masking tape half-on to a yard stick, and then sweeping the exposed edge of the tape over the entire room floor. We called it taping the floor. It worked, temporarily. You had to do it every day.

wildswan said...

One day and not a day that's very far away someone's going to count how many germs and fibers we force into our lungs by wearing masks. It will turn out that it's worse than smoking cigarettes or pollution from cars. It will turn out that it increases our viral load and gives the the virus particles dozens of chances at us instead of just one, and that it's worse than sitting in church praying, and worse than being in a stream of air conditioning with a covid-19er downwind. Something to look forward to - but right now we aren't allowed to know this although it's obvious that when you wear a mask that you are cut off from fresh air.

Mary Beth (the commenter) said...

COVID-19 US Data as of May 23rd, 2020

Access denied. You need to click on "share" then select "get link" and then "anyone on the internet can view". The default is for anyone with a link to view. Don't change that unless you want someone else to be able to edit.

stephen cooper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirk Parker said...

Yancey,

I am able to see your entire spreadsheet, no problem.

Any patterns you've noticed?

stevew said...

Germaphobes may be irrational about the threat but they are correct about the existence of all sorts of icky stuff.

tim maguire said...

An aspect of the quarantine I haven’t seen much talked about—the difficulty in keeping our houses clean. We’re always home, so we’re generating more mess. And since we’re always home, it’s harder to clean. An empty house is easier to clean than a house in use—that’s why I do my deepest cleaning when I’m home alone, but I’m never home alone.

tim maguire said...

Blogger Big Mike said...
@Althouse, how can you discuss dust bunnies without quoting the Queen of dust bunnies?


The first person I thought of when I read this was Quentin Crisp. Sorry Dust Bunny Queen

tim maguire said...

Sorry, that was a broken link. And then I accidentally hit paste. With no edit, there’s no getting it back. Now I’m getting “https is not allowed”. Screw it, here:

https://www.nytimes.com/1997/06/12/garden/nose-up-chin-up-in-a-room-of-his-own.html

Bart Hall said...

"Dust Bunnies" --- In French we call them "MOUTONS" ... sheep.

tim maguire said...

Thanks, Yancey. I’ve been keeping a daily tally of tests, because we need about a half million a day to be sure one is available to everyone who needs it and I wanted to see what progress we’re making. We’re about 100,000 a day more than we were a month ago, but still about a 100,000 short of that half-million goal.

New cases and deaths are stubbornly persistent. They’re getting better, but way too slowly for all the effort and sacrifice we’re making. Governments need to get serious about tailoring the lockdown to new information about how the virus is spread. Too much of what we're doing isn’t helping. Which means we should stop doing it.

Roger Sweeny said...

The Grand Canyon is now open (partially). "During Memorial Day Weekend, you must enter via South Entrance between 4 and 10 am, and can stay until sunset. Hiking trails are open for day use. Visitor services are limited. Desert View area and East Entrance remain closed." The North Rim remains closed.

daskol said...

The microbiome is both disgusting to think about and fascinating. You’ll know when we are verging back towards normalcy when the people prominently concerned with things microscopic are microbiologists. The broader microphobia will recede and most people will forget all about that world that is too small to see, and only the the OCD types will still worry and work on worrying less about germs and mites and other disgusting tiny things. This collective microphobia is a mass hysteria. I wonder what it was like in the early days of lenses that allowed people a peek into this tiny world. Probably that was not as horrifying as what’s gripped us today because it’s not curiosity about the tiny, it’s fear of death from the tiny that animates our microphobia. It reminds me a bit of the Elon Musk notion that we’re all living in a simulation for the amusement of higher beings, or the plot in Men In Black around that tiny world contained in a something the size of a ping pong ball. Our ambitions and greatness come from casting our eyes skyward and thinking big, not devolving into people fearful of microscopic death.

hstad said...

God I wish that where true in real life? I can't get rid of my stomach fat - which is mostly the skin? Any ideas anyone?

JAORE said...

Some us in little flakes of dust. Others whole like a snake.