Swiss cheese holes shrinking

You probably don't realize it but the US Department of Agriculture regulates the size of the holes in the Swiss cheese you use to top your ham sandwich.

According to existing standards, most of the holes in Grade A Swiss must be between eleven-sixteenths and thirteen-sixteenths of an inch across. If the holes are smaller, the cheese isn't considered the cream of the crop, and cheesemakers can't charge as much for it.

The problem is, traditional Swiss cheese gets torn up in new high-speed slicing machines used in the food-service industry. So there's a move afoot to reduce the minimum size of the holes to three-eighths of an inch.

The USDA - which points out that cheesemakers, not taxpayers, are paying for this - promises not to debate the "hole" issue until the cows come home, but to take the bull by the horns and make a decision by the end of the year.

Head-Start parents get new wardrobes

When an office decides to go casual every day and not just on Fridays, what happens to all those no-longer-worn suits, ties, button-down shirts, dresses, and wingtip shoes?

One law firm - Banner & Witcoff, with offices in Washington, Boston, Chicago, and Portland, Ore. - decided to use them to do something for others. The 75 or so attorneys formed a partnership with Head Start to provide office-appropriate clothes to Head Start parents who are in the Welfare to Work program.

This ensures that some low-income parents who are attempting to enter the workforce will be dressed suitably when they go for interviews and also after they've obtained a job.

We're turning our cars into mobile homes

If you're like 69 percent of Americans, you occasionally nosh on a burger or fries while driving.

Some other behind-the-wheel behavior turned up in a survey done by Progressive Auto Insurance:

Seventy-four percent of the drivers of minivans and SUVs combine eating and driving.

Forty-four percent of all drivers said they use cellphones while driving; the figure climbs to 55 percent for 18- to 24-year-olds, and to 60 percent for SUV owners. The least-likely cellphone chatters are over 55.

Twelve percent of respondents reported that they had applied makeup or shaved when behind the wheel, and 7 percent said they had read a book or newspaper.

The driver of a minivan is twice as likely to be female as to be male.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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