In December, I began work on an epic project. Seeking to recreate one of the greatest accomplishments of my life, and share the experience with my young son, I began inserting cloves into an otherwise perfectly serviceable orange. I had completed one such clove orange in my youth, and for many years, this strange smelling object hung in a closet by a twisted strand of wire. Now, I would recreate the grandeur of this most monumental accomplishment, one small, sharp, aromatic, dried flower bud at a time. Evan found this interesting for approximately four seconds. Undeterred, in the course of several days, with the help of an unlatched safety pin, and the support and/or ambivalence of my family, Phase I of The Clove Orange Project was complete.
While the Insertion phase was rewarding on its own accord, the acute result was somewhat unsatisfying relative to my youthful remembrances. I recalled my childhood cloven orange to be rather more dense than this specimen, and was left to wonder if modern cloves had somehow evolved stronger repulsive forces, or if I had gotten somewhat lazier or less diligent about packing density in the years that have passed. Then I recalled the Shriveling Effect. Over time, the perforated orange would shed its Precious Bodily Fluids, concentrating its cloven-citrus essence as its diameter and density shrinks. This motivated somewhat obsessive compulsive data collection, measuring the mass of this curious Object at regular intervals for three months. Again, this activity would not have been possible without the support and/or ambivalence of my lovely wife and son.
I am now proud to present, for the first time ever on the Internets, definitive data on the mass of a clove orange as a function of time, while sitting in on a countertop in a suburan residential kitchen in Northern California. To help put this important dataset in perspective, I have helpfully prepared a chart comparing Clove Orange Mass with the value of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, normalized to be equal to the 227 gram mass of the Clove Orange on December 8th, 2009. The accompanying chart bears a hopeful and optimistic message: While the world economy and US equity markets seem to have been deteriorating at an exponential rate in the past three months, an investment in the Dow 30 would have performed significantly better than an investment in the water molecules contained within this particular cloven orange during the same period. So things really aren’t that bad, even if they do smell a bit strange.