Daily Archives: August 23, 2002


My husband just came home and said, “I brought you mice.”

Yes, I did a double take as well. He handed me a package of, yes, white mice. Little ones, about the size of a peanut. They’re candy.

“I got them free with my Sloche today,” he said. “And I know you love trying to figure out the Sloche ads, so here.”

‘Dead in your hand, Alive in your mouth’ the slogan proclaims on the back. I opened the package; we tried them. They’re raspberry-flavoured gummy mice. I love them. He hates them.

Woo-hoo! More mice for me!


Heavy cream is lighter than light cream because it contains more butter fat, which weighs less than water.


Science. It gets me every time. It explains the unexplainable. And proves, of course, exactly how much we don’t get it; how much we just don’t understand the world around us. Even when we think we do.

Take, for example, the popular expression “it’s so hot you could fry an egg on the sidewalk!” Sure; it’s a figure of speech. But Robert Wolke, professor emeritus of chemistry at the University of Pittsburgh, actually tested it out for his book What Einstein Told His Cook. Others have done this (even at least one person of my own acquaintance). Wolke, however, went a step further. Actually, he took a whole hike further:

To investigate the egg assertion, he actually went out and measured the pavement temperature in Austin, Tex., during a heatwave. He found that the hottest it got, even on blacktop, was 145 degrees F — well below the 158 degree minimum needed for an egg to start coagulating. Not satisfied with pure theory, he cracked an egg on the pavement and waited. Nothing happened.

Helpfully, Wolke then went around measuring the temperature of other surfaces, and reports that a dark blue Ford Taurus reached 178 degrees F, making it a better frying pan than sidewalks or roadways.”The wonderful thing about science is that it can even explain things nobody needs to know,” Wolke concludes.

Heck, yes.

Makes you want to go out and experiment. Our dark blue station wagon won’t work; it’s a Saturn and made of resin. Hmm; I know someone with a dark blue Ford. I wonder if she’d be willing to experiment – all in the name of science, of course.

(Check out BusinessWeek Online’s article called Plenty of Food for Thought, their review of Wolke’s latest venture into science.)


Over at The Times Online, author Jeanette Winterson has written a rather straightforward look at art in our time, what it means to create it, and what it means to appreciate it.

Of course much of what passes for art today is merely hype, or fashion, or showmanship, but this has always been the case. Art makers and art fakers live side by side in any century. Time sieves them out. What matters is not to be endlessly labelling and judging, but to be open to our own culture � to assume we have something to say. The past was not better or richer, but it was slower. Art needs time. Our impatience with art might be just that � we�re in a hurry, and art needs time.

Hmm. Wasn’t I arguing this a month or two ago? Something about our contemporary culture being rush-rush and beset by microwaves and lightning-fast internet connections, and losing our ability to appreciate culture?

Winterson says something similar:

The released energies of art, in whatever medium, are a kind of radar trying to steer us back to sanity. We are not sane. We live in a 24-hour emergency zone called real life, where money is the core value, and where our inner life is denied.

Hmm. So, art validitates inner worth? Art constitutes a sort of moral compass?

When you sit down to read a book or to listen to a piece of music or walk round an exhibition, without interruption, the first thing you are doing is turning your gaze inwards. The demands and distractions of the world have to wait.

This, I think, is the problem. People can’t stop to listen to what art evokes from within them, because they’re afraid. Why else do we stop up our metaphorical and literal ears with noise and busyness? We’re losing our ability to listen; yes. What should we do about it? Telling people to go walk through an art gallery is fine, but will it actually succeed? I doubt it. The people who are going to go to an art gallery are those who are already predisposed to do so. Those people who are filling their lives with white noise are precisely the ones who have no idea that silencing the tumult around them might be beneficial.

As appreciative as I am of the article, and as much as I agree with it on the surface, I sense an imbalance. I know it’s supposed to focus on art as opposed to the rest of life, but it seems to infer that anything not art (nice, quiet, slow, coaxing out our valuable inner lives) is detrimental. The article is, of course, arguing for a balance, a contrast, a healing change of pace now and again, but she’s preaching to the converted, I think.