No Target? No Problem

[This is post #5 in a mini-blog-post series for NaBloPoMo 2015. Jump to the first, previous, or next post.]

Sjoerd Visscher asked a great question on yesterday’s post: what to do if you can’t get this specific brand of straws? (Or, extrapolating, if you want a different color palette? Or just generally like doing things the hard way?) Thankfully, this is no problem. Comparing the long end of the straw (not including the flexy bits) to the diameter, you’ll want a ratio between 23 and 24. (This needn’t be too too precise. I’ve had success even at a 25-to-1 ratio—it felt only a tad loose.)

calipers

Measuring directly is certainly an option, especially if you have easy access to some calipers, but for a lower-tech solution, just line ’em up! These straws below are perfect, at 23 and change.

length to width ratio: 23 and change

Keep in mind that there will be some manufacturing variation (these are not precision-critical parts in their intended use, after all!), so don’t worry too much about getting the absolute perfect ratio, or measuring each straw overly carefully.

length variation
Slight variation in length: when lined up along the right end, the flexy bits are not perfectly aligned.

So practically speaking, if you buy straws that are too long, cut to size. And if they’re too short, just leave them sticking out a bit:

pushing straws in
Left: with ideal length, push until flush with flexy bits. Right: compensating for short straws.

But where does this “perfect” 23ish ratio come from? How might we compute it, without resorting to trial and error? We’ll talk about this tomorrow.

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