“Mommy, why are there holes in my cheese?”
“Eww…did a mouse chew on my sandwich?”
“How come there are more holes in my cheese than Johnny’s?”
Hard to imagine a good ham sandwich without a tasty slice of Swiss cheese. But, do any of those questions sound familiar? Have you ever tried to explain to a child why there are holes in the cheese you are feeding them?
I’m usually pretty curious about these types of things, myself, and I’m sure I must have asked similar questions of my own parents. Interestingly enough, I can’t recall their attempt at explanation, but that doesn’t mean that no one was trying to figure it out. Actually, research into this mysterious phenomenon has been going on for nearly a century!
Back in 1917, it was an American scientist, William Clark, who launched a study that resulted in the determination that there are carbon dioxide “burps” from some sort of bacteria floating in the milk used to make the cheese. It then took nearly a hundred years for the Swiss (of course) to discover the origin of the bacteria. They now seem pretty convinced that it comes from tiny particles of hay that are present in the barn.
Not especially appetizing, huh? Of course, microscopic particles of all sorts of things are on everything so it really doesn’t pay to think too hard along those lines. The good news, unless you’re a big fan of the holes, is that with modern technology, fewer and fewer contaminants make it through the process. That’s why you may have noticed that the holes in the Swiss cheese we now find in our dairy cases are smaller, and there are less of them.
So, mystery solved! And you can now give accurate answers to all of those questions. Although… launching into a discussion of hay debris in your youngster’s lunch may take you down a road you’re not ready to step out on just yet.
But, that’s the way with kids. They want to know about everything and are always ready with questions, some a little easier to handle than others. If it hadn’t been for one youngster, nicknamed the “how much longer kid”, constantly asking about time, the Time Timer wouldn’t have been invented. More than twenty years ago, Jan Rogers realized that in order for her daughter, Loran, to understand the concept of elapsed time, she needed to see it move. Just looking at a clock or digital display wasn’t enough for her to relate the changing numbers to “how long” or use them to visualize how much time had passed.
One child’s questioning led to the timer with the disappearing red disk, a tool that is used by children, parents, teachers and others all over the world. Spending a hundred years tracking down the answer to “why are there holes in my cheese?” doesn’t seem quite as worthwhile to me. Especially since people are already starting to complain about the disappearance of the holes!
Don’t you love this picture? It was posted about a week ago by the National Weather Service in Tennessee when they were in the mid-nineties. Right now, where I live, the mercury has kept moving higher and higher and we’re threatening triple digits. Not unheard of, but it just seems to be really hot all of a sudden! Fortunately, this isn’t the norm and, in fact, the Weather Channel says that we’re a good five to fifteen degrees above average.
Even though some areas expect this kind of heat, I Imagine the folks in Las Vegas and Phoenix and Palm Springs, where temperatures are anywhere from 105 to 115, feel even worse than our melting hound. Personally, I probably complain more about the cold, but I can’t understand why anyone would want to live somewhere that reaches and stays over a 100 degrees for a good part of the summer.
Oh, I know, they talk about it being a “dry” heat and that it’s a different kind of experience. I suppose there’s some truth to that. I know that when you get off a plane in New Orleans or Houston in the middle of July, the humidity is so high it’s like walking smack into a wall. A very hot, sticky wall. Not pleasant but, still, 115 degrees? No, thank you.
Of course, sometimes being really “hot” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Supermodels and certain celebrities vie for that particular distinction. So do new products that have just hit the market. And, it just so happens that one extremely hot little item is making its debut on the shelves of Time Timer this week! Check out the brand new Time Timer MOD!
The MOD comes with all of the features that you know and love about Time Timers, as well as a sturdy silicon case, durable clear lens cover and handy center knob. But what really makes the MOD extra special is that you can change the color of its case whenever you want to! Optional, snap-on colored cases come in bright blue, berry and green.
How hot is that??? Get yours today before they melt right off our shelves!
We all know the answer to “why did the chicken cross the road?” but the real story is what happened to it during the attempt. Getting to the other side of any sort of roadway is a life and death undertaking for all animals and the sad fate of wandering chickens is often the same as the countless deer, raccoons, turtles and others we see along our highways.
Why bring this up in a blog you expect to be about timers?
Do you ever ask yourself why so many animals are so determined to make such a risky trip? Why don’t they just stay where they are instead of jumping out in front of rapidly moving vehicles? Once again, the answer involves time. Not time as we use it to consciously schedule our activities and interact with the world around us, but more of an internal sense of timing that prompts animals to migrate, prepare for winter or find a mate. We call this instinct, but is it really all that different from a timer going off and motivating a course of action?
Unfortunately, the natural habitats of most of our species of wildlife have been disrupted by residential and commercial developments and, perhaps even more so, by the thousands of miles of highways that crisscross the U.S. To us, this all spells progress, but to wildlife it can mean death, whether they get hit while crossing or choose to stay put.
“Animals fundamentally require the ability to move on the landscape, and if we prevent them from doing that we can block their ability to find food and mates and new habitat when conditions change.” Jen Watkins, Conservation Northwest
The good news is that there is a strong effort underway to reverse this trend. Conservation organizations are educating and teaming up with government agencies, most notably various departments of transportation, and developing solutions that enable animal populations to safely move from one area to another. Bridges, fully landscaped and park-like, are being built in key spots as well as underpasses being created that not only allow migration but also reopen the flow of streams and rivers.
This is a fascinating project taking place in several areas. Personally, I believe it would be worth the cost just to undo some of the havoc we have created and find solutions that let us coexist on the planet we all call home. But, as it so often turns out, doing this significantly reduces traffic fatalities and actually saves money in the long run.
You can learn more in this video about the current efforts in the Cascades:
It would be hard to imagine anyone more focused on the concept of time than we are here at Time Timer. We invest a lot in making our timers the most useful and versatile available. We never underestimate how much understanding and managing time affects our quality of life. But we rarely think in terms of life and death.
In many ways, whatever it is that controls the internal timing mechanism for animals pretty much has the power over their basic survival. It might not even be too much of a stretch to say that nature has hard-wired them to make every moment count.