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Sep 7, 2017

"Very unhealthy" reads the daily smoke report on the internet for our area. I've been checking this website each day for the past week, as the smoke from state wild fires has surrounded and filled our valley. The AQI is what I look at: the air quality index. I've only just (1)found out what that means. It is a number generated by measuring the levels of four things: carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, particles, and ground ozone. Each day a new number is generated several times, so the public can know if it is safe to go out or not. The situation is very frustrating because there is nothing you can do to change it. I had planned on getting some big projects done in the garden which involved digging and mixing concrete, you know, the heavy work. So, how on earth can I get that done in a garden full of smoke? The answer is a good quality face mask. It's big, and makes me look like an astronaut, but it's worth it because it filters out 97.9 percent of airborne contaminants(2), plus the filters are pink and make me look pretty. Of course, it's the type of apparatus that comes with hard-to-understand instructions. I had to fix two thin, long, plastic strips together to form a head band. One strip had nodules(3) or teeth; the other had holes, so I had to snap the nodules into the holes to form one band. Are you following me? This band goes on the top of my head to hold the weight of the face mask. The strips are attached to elastic cords that go through the face piece and out of the bottom. At the end of the cords are two plastic clips that fit together. You pull the cords on either side of your head towards the back of your neck, and you snap them together. Voila! Instant clean air. I think when you are learning a language, it is a good challenge to try and follow directions like that. There are so many uncommon words used when assembling a product, that it is worth the extra practice. Understanding the instructions is one thing, but giving them with no notes would be quite a test, don't you think?

1. 'I've only just' this is a common expressions that is very native-sounding. You could simpy say 'just', but the 'only' emphasizes that a lot of time has gone by while you were ignorant about something. When we say the two words together, generally we emphasize the 'just'.

a. I've only just figured out how to turn on my air conditioning in the car! 

b. I got the job in April, but I've only just received my contract!

c. We came to the clinic for our 3pm appointment. It's 5:30pm and we've only just been checked in.

2. Some fire disaster words:

'Airborne contaminants' the 'borne' part of 'airborne' means 'carried', just like waterborne means 'carried by/in the water. Contaminants are the objects which contaminate.

'Filter out particles' is like saying 'to strain out/trap bits'. Filter is both a verb and an object. The word 'out' here simply shows how the particles will be separated from everything else, they are targeted to be trapped.

'Air quality, water quality, sound quality, light quality'

3. Some vocabulary from instruction manuals:

'Nodule' = like a lump in a certain shape, usually a simple small cylinder or ball. I also used the word 'teeth' because the nodules were in a row, just like teeth.

'Clip' is usually metal or plastic. It could be two parts that fit together, or one part that, when moved, bent, or twisted, will make the sound of 'clip!' or 'snap!' Clips are used to hold material in place. Ex: a hair clip, a tie clip.

'Band, strip, cord.' A band is a thick line which can be soft or hard or two dimensional. A strip is the same, usually thin. A cord is three dimensional, like a rope, but thinner.