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The face mask that's worse than not wearing one
Newsletter cover photo
Fisher-Price may or may not be mocking your refusal to buy AirPods
USC's new construction tech degree, Procore's Groundbreak 2020 news, and a revealing study that suggests some face masks are worse on the jobsite than not wearing a mask at all; grab some coffee and let's hit the links—


A new project study by
SMACNA's New Horizons Foundation
examined the financial impact of COVID-19 safety protocols on jobsites by sifting through productivity data of 113,000 labor hours performed by a myriad of different types of specialty contractors from January-May 2020.
The study revealed a
7% loss on construction projects
Everyone assumed there'd be a substantial financial hit due to COVID-induced safety demands. Productivity suffers from any instituted precaution en masse, which inevitably leads to a net profit loss. This is the first time we've had tangible data to know just how bad the hit was:
The 7% profit loss stemmed from a 17.9% dip in productivity (the sum of 8.7% from precautions involving fit-for-duty checks + 9.2% from PPE, social-distancing from co-workers, and tool sanitation). The study also noted 85 minutes lost per day per an employee's 8-hour shift. That's the length of two episodes of
, completely shot.
The study notes that the true impact of the financial hit due to safety protocols
won't be fully realized for another 3-6 months
"to fully play out in a company's finances." For now, we'll have to assume a 7% loss is conservative.
Based on a new study by
, jobsite workers should take heed: all face masks were not created equal. Researchers from Duke University
used optical imaging technology to track saliva droplets
14 of the most common types of masks
and found a wide-ranging level of effectiveness.
Here's our power rankings of things we found interesting from the study:
Cotton bandanas and neck fleeces are objectively worse than no face covering at all, as droplets are dispersed in such a way that they stay in the air longer. Sell your neck fleece stock immediately.
The safest mask is the fitted N95, which is what we knew well before six packs of Corona remained on shelves for all of March and April. The valved N95, on the other hand, is nowhere near as safe.
The tested speech with each mask was apparently "Stay healthy, people." The choice of using a double-p word like "people" surely revved the saliva droplet engines.
announced a virtual format and dates (October 27 + 28) for
Groundbreak 2020
. While we had a blast in Phoenix last Groundbreak, it's definitely a tad more convenient that it will be in our living rooms this year. Whether you opt for the freemium Starter Pass or a $99 Premium Pass, everyone will be gifted a fireside chat by the queen of TED Talks herself, Dr. Brene Brown.
USC's Viterbi School of Engineering
has announced that they're launching a new master's program in Advanced Design and Construction Technology; that's right,
you can now go to school to get your master's in ConTech
Students will develop expertise in topics such as sustainability, data analysis and visualization, computing, modeling, simulation, process engineering and manufacturing with an in-depth curriculum integrating AI and IoT technologies.
This program couldn't have come sooner, as the construction industry notoriously deals with the candle burning at both ends nature of 1) a labor shortage
continuing to be fueled
by the smallest incoming crop of new workers ever, and 2) an
industry-wide neglect of technology
compared to every other industry. USC's ConTech program answers both problems.
Hopefully in-person schooling is safe by the time this program is up and running. A hands-on approach seems much more practical for this degree, plus trying to properly frame your kegstand on camera for your USC Zoom party isn't ideal.
Construction Dive
reports that Maryland's Howard County Council has passed
a bird-safe building mandate
, which is the second such East Coast mandate following
New York City's legislation last year
. Other cities already under bird-safe mandates include San Francisco and Portland, OR.
Two takeaways from this article that made us feel not unlike an unsuspecting bird in the flightpath of a building:
Building collisions account for upwards of 2 billion bird deaths a year. We'll never look at a building the same way again.
Bird-safe buildings are actually cheaper to produce, and will save companies money in the long run due to energy savings from the design. Save birds, save some money. What's not to love here?


G̶e̶t̶ ̶o̶u̶t̶ stay in the vote
: Everything
you need to know
about mail-in voting, including the first day you can cast your ballot in the 2020 election filtered by what state you live in.
No more brainscraping
: Yale and the NBA teamed up
to bring us easier COVID testing
: Uber and Lyft
will likely suspend services in California
(looks at watch) Friday. Request your $11 ride to that outdoor restaurant practically in walking distance while you can.
Be kind, remind
: Story of the week goes to
the last Blockbuster in America
available to Airbnb in Oregon. We're reminded that
Pearl Harbor
was two separate VHS tapes (because it was so long) and we used to pay Blockbuster $4 to borrow those bulky rectangles. Say what you want about that movie, but you have to admit
the score was incredible
Nuts and bolts
: Planters' new baby mascot (RIP Mr. Peanut,
but actually
) aged roughly
21 years in the last 7 months
along with the rest of us.
Act like we give a Dame
: We haven't talked much about the NBA's return, mostly because we've been too busy watching games. Here's a Ringer article on
the biggest lineup question
for every team as we enter the high-stakes Bubble Playoffs.
To live and sweat in LA
: While we very much like to complain about our LA weather should it veer off its ideal-99%-of-the-time course,
it just hit 130 in Death Valley
which is the hottest recorded temperature on earth since 1913.
High volume
: Check out this nifty
ambience creation tool
to play while you work, because sometimes "white noise" isn't as good as "10% rain, 50% coffee shop, 25% waves."
: There's now a cute
work-from-home playset
so your kid can pretend to be you. The coffee cup and headset are dead on, the upward-trending bar graph is optimistic, though there probably should have been a childlike Zoom screenshot up with a bunch of cartoon animals. Hit us up for design brainstorming next time, @Fisher-Price.
A keanu hope
The Matrix 4
restarted filming in Berlin
, exciting all 8 of us who saw
The Matrix Revolutions
and said "There should be another one of these."
Any stories you wish we featured? Easy pun layups we completely missed? Let us know!
See you next week for more news and notes.