The Square Peg - I Have Met the Enemy and He is Dust
© S. Bradley Stoner
It must be cleaning day for me. Well, I don't know if it must, but it is. With vacuum, mop and bucket in hand, I attacked. It was a battle, but I defeated the crumbs in the kitchen, the tracked in outdoors indoors, spots in the shower, splatter on the stove top, soap scum in the sinks, and overdue leftovers in the fridge. Yep... they fought me all the way, but my sinks are now whiter than white, the tile floors are shiny, and the carpet has been relieved of bits of grass, leaves and that funny looking smudge that came from I don't know where. Ahhh... I took a break for a cup of coffee and glanced out the glass of the French doors to the patio. Arghhh! What is that floating in the sunlight?!
Dust... those tiny little specks of... Of what? Does anybody know what that stuff we call dust is made of? Somebody has to have analyzed it. I know! Google it! Aha! Wikipedia has a whole section on the stuff summarized in the opening paragraph...
"Dust consists of particles in the atmosphere that come from various sources such as soil, dust lifted by weather (an aeolian process), volcanic eruptions, and pollution. Dust in homes, offices, and other human environments contains small amounts of plant pollen, human and animal hairs, textile fibers, paper fibers, minerals from outdoor soil, human skin cells, burnt meteorite particles, and many other materials which may be found in the local environment."
I now have a basis to narrow down my dust source. I have filters on my central air... really good filters, so the only dirt and pollen that could get in is what sticks to me when I've been outside working or what wafts in when I open a door. And I can't think of any recent volcanic eruptions in the neighborhood, so we can cross that one off the list. Human and animal hairs? Okay, I'll buy human... we've both got a good head of hair, but it isn't short and I'm pretty sure whiskers from shaving go down the drain... in fact, I know they do. That's why I have to clean the traps periodically. Yuck. Textile fibers... boy they must be tiny. Burnt meteorite particles? Seriously? How would they get in my tightly sealed home? Human skin cells. Well, that's kind of disgusting. If the other things are relatively small in percentage, I'd better stop exfoliating.. oh wait, I can't. It's kind of a natural process. Judging by the accumulation, if I started saving the stuff, I could build a golem in about a year and a half. Maybe, I could put him in charge of dusting. Sigh.
Well... dusting doesn't do itself, now does it? I grabbed our duster... it's one of those fuzzy nylon affairs that the manufacturer advertises that it grabs dust and doesn't let it go. Sure it does. As I set to work, wielding that weapon of mess destruction, I notice in the streaming sunlight that the enemy is escaping in hordes and regrouping on things I just cleaned out. Tricky little bast... um particles. I know they are just gathering for a counter attack with the first gust from the central air... and I have a feeling they aren't all going to get sucked into the filter trap. They're slippery little devils. I get out my Dust Buster... maybe that will work. The enemy clings to the brush tip, refusing to go down without a fight. I pull off the brush, reverse it and let the nozzle such as much as it can. Better, but not perfect.
Resolutely, I go for the big guns. An impregnated dust cloth to which I add a spritz or fifty of Endust. Finally, I have decimated their strength through sheer determination. But the cost was heavy. I'm sapped... I'm hot... I'm sweaty... and, HORRORS! I notice little motes falling like snow from my arms. Oh no! Betrayed by deserters from my own body! CURSE YOU DEAD BARREN! I have met the enemy and he is dUSt! It's a no win situation... it's a war of attrition... and, unless I can control my own troops, I'm gonna lose.