Tuesday, October 28, 2008

On the Properties of Breakfast Cereal

Breakfast cereal was one of my childhood cornerstones.  I was raised on raisin bran!  Sprinkled spoonsful of sugar on my frosted flakes.  My brother and I ate chex like it was going out of style.  Cereal was our meal of choice watching cartoons on Saturday morning.  We ate tons of the stuff just to get to the toy prize at the bottom of the box. 

So I consider myself an aficionado when it comes to the qualities that make a good cereal experience.  One element that remains key to thoroughly enjoying a bowl of cereal is minimizing the splash.  That moment after you've chosen your bowl and spoon, poured the right amount of cereal to just  match the three-serving picture on the box, and gotten out the milk.  Suddenly a feeling of trepidation;  is the milk going to splash out of the bowl?  

Here's a quick ranking of cereals from greatest splash factor to least:
Corn Flakes (or any flake cereals), Frosted Mini Wheats (or Life), Raisin Bran, Cookie Crisp, Honeycomb, Lucky Charms (I swear it's because of the marshmallows), Kix, Cheerios, Rice Crispies (or , Grape Nuts), and finally Chex (surprisingly).

My research (and the frequent presence of near-empty boxes of cereal) led me to blending my cereal mixes.  During commercial breaks on Saturday morning I would race to the kitchen.  Generally I would blend various cereals for their texture (making sure not to put floating cereals like Cheerios or Kix at the bottom of the bowl--of course) layer upon layer, and finish with a non-splashing cereal like Kix or Chex.  (NOTE:  Rice Crispies at the top tended to get everywhere, and meant I couldn't fit as large a quantity of cereal.)

Here are a few of the most intriguing cereal combinations:
TOP:            Corn Chex  
MIDDLE:    Rice Crispies
BOTTOM:   Frosted Mini Wheats

TOP:            Honey Nut Cheerios
MIDDLE:    Raisin Bran (too splashy to be on top!)
BOTTOM:   Grape Nuts

T+M+B:   Quaker "Crunchy" Corn Bran   (It's actually my favorite)

Least Favorites:  
#3 Cap'n Crunch (because it shreds the inside of my mouth!)
#2 Life Cereal (i.e. sweetened wood shavings) followed by 
#1 The the worst cereal experience is pouring out the last of a box of cheerios and getting a large mass of crushed+powdered cheerios on top of your happiness.  

...but I digress.... since it seems I am not the only person who knows about mixing breakfast cereal.  Instead I propose a challenge. The Splash is a function of height, surface tension of the milk, and cereal shape. There must be a use for such exhaustive research on cereal Splash!  Somebody here had better come up with a good application. Discuss.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Each year I end up working on a project that embraces the feeling of Halloween. 

In college I started work on a clay sculpture of a gargoyle that was essentially me channeling this horror show I watched on TV when I was a kid:  The Gargoyles (1972).  The plot synopsis calls it: "A horror tale involving an anthropologist researching his book on demonology with his photographer daughter in a bizarre adventure that has a group of gargoyles, descendants of a monster whose skeleton the two have stumbled on, menacing the pair in order to retrieve the bones of their ancestor."  It scared me [lots]!

I made the hideous clay gargoyle friendly looking and called it Elgin.  Up to last year he sat on the porch of our house.  Then he got stolen!  (The sincerest form of flattery for an artist, right?)

So this year I decided to make another gargoylesque thing out of rolled newspaper tubes and tape.  I call it a "skink".  
Watches Amanda gather leaves.

He's a little camera shy.