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By Christine Mason, CEI Executive Director

Did you know that the FDA regulates that size of holes in Swiss Cheese?  Apparently the size of holes has created some difficulties in slicing, so the size is now regulated to be 3/8 to 3/16 inches in diameter.

So is there a hole regulation industry? 

  1. The holes in Dunkin Donuts, according to a top-secret online recipe are about 1 1/4 inches in diameter. About the size of a small bottle cap.

  2. Manholes  range in size from 18-36 inches across.

  3. Peepholes, while they can vary in many dimensions, usually fit in a standard 1/2 inch opening; although, extra large brass viewers are available. These fit one-inch openings and with a fish-eye lens, they give a better 180 degree panoramic view.

  4. Looking for regulations on the holes in macaroni, I found a website  describing the history of macaroni, documenting the earliest reference to macaroni as somewhere between 800- 1200 A.D. While some suggest that Marco Polo may have discovered macaroni in his travels, others believe macaroni may have originated with Italians, Etruscans,  Spanish, or Arabs.  Over the years the definitions of macaroni have shifted and the standards also seemed to have changed. Sometimes macaroni has been defined by the hardness/softness of the wheat. At other times, shape has been the most definitive factor. However, the shape has changed over the years too. Macaroni may have originated as “small balls” of wheat,  although others describe an early macaroni as “boiled bread.” So, while macaroni holes have not been strictly regulated, macaroni has its own history and the cultural definitions have shifted over time.

  5. Looking to nature, to cite one example, controversy erupted in the early 20th century regarding whether changes in the size of the cells in honeycombs was influencing the size of bees.  Bee keepers, attempting to cultivate larger bees and obtain more honey, have even experimented with changes in the size of the artificial base to increase cell size, giving bees more room to grow.

I imagine without too much looking we could find recommendations for the size of copper pipes and sewers, apertures for camera lens, and a host of other holes.  Last week, I wrote an article for the CEI Wow! Ed newsletter on how humans seem to acquire “holes.”  The article, Oh to be so Beautiful, described how over the years, with seemingly little effort, humans accumulate a collection of holes. In some cases, there is a stark contrast between standards for the mundane and for our emotional and psychological well being. Isn’t it fascinating, that we have so many specifications on  the size of holes, perhaps even regulations, for many seemingly mundane things? In terms of the numbers of holes per mile, I can envision a Department of Transportation policy recommending a timetable for pothole repair that references the depth and breadth, or even number, of potholes per mile- – a policy that identifies what is allowable, and what requires immediate attention.

However, for holes that humans collect, the story is different. How would we begin to suggest a timeline for repair? Where would we even begin to regulate how to prevent or repair the holes that arise? Should this hole repair be left to families, or is repair and prevention a matter for society? For schools?

According to an article in the Huffington Post by Melisssa McCreery, “Food and emotional eating can fill a lot of gaps, holes, and crevices in our psyche.”  McCreery suggests that these holes and gaps may lead to a sense of perfectionism and that “when we are afraid we aren’t good enough emotional eating comes into play as a way to: 

  1. Push down feelings

  2. Distract yourself from your feelings

  3. Comfort yourself

  4. Procrastinate or avoid tasks you’re afraid of not doing well enough

  5. Calm the anxiety or fear of not being enough.”

This example just scratches the surface. Damage can be manifested in a multitude of ways. I ended last week’s article with an observation that as we remove the holes we have, we may find a void — we may even feel like we are missing something. Fascinating that a void could feel different than a hole. Consider family dynamics in the case of chronic illness or abuse.  As one person heals, what happens to the others?  Sometimes there is movement to maintain the equilibrium — even with healing. So one person heals and another suddenly acts out, manifesting anger, sorrow, hurt, or pain. Ah, the void.


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