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Dear Matthew Alice:

While contemplating the universe in the tub the other day, I suddenly wondered why my fingers and toes get all wrinkly when I contemplate the universe in the tub.

-- Pruno, in the tub

Let me press out some of those wrinkles for you. Your delicate bod is actually covered with a thin, tough layer of cells known in the skin game as the stratum corneum, dead skin cells that protect all the juicy stuff inside from ugly assaults by the forces of nature and cheap clothes. Your knees or arms have maybe a hundredth of a millimeter-thick layer, your palms and soles 50 times that, suggesting that man first walked on his hands before the discovery of feet. Dunk the stratum corneum in water and it soaks it right up. The thicker the layer, the poofier it gets. The smaller the body part, the more noticeable the wrinkling is. Fingers and toes come immediately to mind; you may find others. So it follows that while you're lounging in the tub, you're a slightly larger person than you were before you got in. But if this is question is an example of what ordinarily slides past that bad haircut and into your brain while you're meditating in the bath, I'd suggest all that soaking was not time well spent.

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