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Back Buzz - February 4, 2012

pumping heartLa Patisserie, 619 Ecclesall Road, Hunters Bar, Sheffield, South Yorkshire

Although I no longer work near Ecclesall Road I do occasionally walk down the popular thoroughfare, and I wonder about some of the shops and cafes I've never visited. Near Hunters Bar, the narrow frontage of La Patisserie is set back a bit from the pavement, with the tables out front lending it a distinctly French-cafe sort of look. I've always wondered just how French it really is.

On a recent Sunday afternoon we had a chance to find out. As it was late afternoon we decided to play it safe and order single macchiatos, knowing they wouldn't deliver quite as much punch as our usual doubles. But they were nicely made with LaVazza beans and nicely presented in pleasant white china tulip-shaped cups with demitasse spoons.

We sat at a small marble-top table on surprisingly comfortable French-styled padded chairs and sipped our Italian coffees while we spoke of quiche. In the deli case under the counter were displayed not only sweet pastries and cakes, as one would expect in a patisserie, but also some very yummy-looking quiches and pasties with tempting fillings like spinach and feta and salmon and watercress. Fortunately we'd had lunch, as they were a bit pricey for our budget.

Next to us were deux hommes et deux femmes qui parlent de Paris -- sorry, I meant four Brits having a chat about Sheffield. The view from the cafe windows across Ecclesall Road is pleasantly leafy, and the art on the walls is classic French-cafe art, including one of the famous Chat Noir ads. The massive Newgate London train station replica clock above our heads tempted me to check the Eurostar timetable for our train back to Paris. But I didn't, as we were having a coffee in Hunters Bar and only going back to Crookes.

Speaking of alternate realities reminds me of a very recent e-mail exchange with a workmate about Lego sorters:

While scouring the internet with a brillo pad, I found this video demonstration of a Lego sorter which makes me wonder if a good deal of our university's money could've been saved: clearly we could've built our own book sorter out of Lego. That's amazing! How does it detect the colours? Does this mean that different coloured Legos that look the same size are actually slightly different in size, perhaps by only one molecule in each direction?

This would be much more fun than the book sorter. And it would be so much easier to be pushing trolleys loaded with red Legos up to Level Red, green Legos to Level Green, and so on. I suppose it might get boring after awhile...but perhaps I could program the software so that it constructs fire trucks and ferry boats and dogs and whatever else one wants to draw using the 3D CAD software provided. Yes! Yes! I want to be the 3M Lego Sorter CAD Software Engineer! This is my new career!
I wish I had that much Lego.

Of course, this reminds me of an old story about a ship carrying Danish mathematicians to the United States for an important conference in the early 1950s. apparently, the ship encountered a storm, and the passengers were so tossed about that when they reached landfall in New York, the "s" from "Maths" had fallen off and attached itself to "Lego" [Etymological fart: "Math" predates "Lego" by c.100 years, and "Maths" by c.50 years].

It is a little known fact that, owing to the greater energy-state of green Lego over red Lego (by about a third of an electronvolt), the molecules within a green brick are more animated than those in a red brick. Consequently, a green brick exerts more pressure on its surroundings and is therefore heavier. So I assume that the machine has a lever which is delicately poised so as to be tipped only by the green bricks and not by the lighter red bricks.

By the same logic, the blue text of your last email makes a stronger impact than the green text in my previous email and the red text in your email before that. However, the violet of this email is so weighty as to potentially knock you unconscious should you be reading this unbraced.