science

The eyes have it…

eyes in green

Well.. suggestive biscuits, hiccup trucks, typing on the pewticka and a visit to the Balistica in Venice – our kids (and the occasional grown-up…)  have a much better lexicon than we do.  Some brilliant comments in response to Monday’s post; here’s another one to distract you from all the important and useful things you have planned for today (but we can at least justify it as being an intellectually highbrow diversion; read on).

Research published in the journal Science this week established a connection between the reading of literary fiction and our ability to intuit expressions and understand the emotions of others.  And not only do they seem to have better emotional intelligence than others, they also apply it, resulting in enhanced empathy and social skills.  In a crude and unsound scientific algorythm, this might be represented as those who tackle Tolstoy & DeLillo for fun = nicer people.  Alas, there doesn’t appear to be the same correlation with the kind of trashy novels we recline with on the beach (the researchers gingerly used a Rosamunde Pilcher novel as the ‘control arm’ in this experiment, just to check).  The hypothesis is that because writers of true literary fiction tend to be sparing in their description of what’s going on in the minds of their characters, readers are required to fill in the gaps and make leaps of understanding and assumptions about what they are thinking and feeling.

But never mind the science, let’s get to the fun part.  A quiz; yay.  Click here and interpret each of the expressions, with a maximum of 36 to be scored.  The normal range is 22-30; if you get below that there could be a number of valid reasons including a) a complete failure to concentrate or b) a lifestyle where you only tend to encounter people who look Aghast or Anxious, thereby skewing your ability to detect other emotions.  Actually, I made that up.  I got 33/36 and am disproportionately proud, but also a little deflated as it means I have to return to doing all of the domestic things I was supposed to be doing today.

Oh, and then when you’ve done it, ask the man in your life to do the same; mine got considerably less, to his great surprise.  ’I got all the female expressions right, though’, he said, in some sort of naive attempt to rationalise the score.  I put it to him that this might be down to a life spent studying women; he wisely chose dignified silence as a response.

Give it a go, and let me know how you do…

More crafts next week, once we get off this psycho-analysis excursion (it’s fun though, isn’t it?)

 

Spring Fever

After a couple of stuttering false starts, it’s clear that Spring is just around the corner and Harry and I are alternating between indoors and outdoors at the drop of a hat.  Thank heaven for wipe-clean wood flooring. When the sap is rising and the buds are bursting into colour, it makes me come over all green-fingered, so this week we’ve been experimenting with growing cress, the ultimate in instant-gratification gardening.  There’s something so bafflingly magical about being able to toss a generous and unfettered handful of seeds onto some damp cotton wool and see them sprout forth overnight. For those with patchy childhood memories, each stage is demonstrated with gusto by Harry, below. Our admittedly rather camp collection of Cressmen are now 5 days old and ready for a first trim…



Step 1: moisten some cotton wool in lukewarm water

Step 2: Insert carefully into your egg cup.  Pause to wipe hands on your jumper.

Step 3: Scatter a small handful of seeds carefully into the cup, covering the cotton wool

Step 4: Abandon this plan; instead, scatter seeds flamboyantly over all surfaces

Step 5: Your work is complete. Retire for a nap whilst Mummy clears up and entertains herself attaching eyes and moustaches to your efforts, in homage to The Village People.

And then… For something a little more grown-up, and to give the impression that great culinary endeavours occur in my kitchen, I also planted up a few wilting supermarket herbs into a variety of different decorative containers (including a copper coffee tin, right), and am diligently watering, trimming and tossing into any dish which may warrant additional greenery… aesthetics may outweigh flavour here, but at least they look pretty. Maybe a little understated compared to the Cressmen, but then there’s only so many things you can attach fake eyes to…