At our lab this winter, we had a secret Santa draw. I got a pair of white mittens from a fellow grad student, along with chocolate and a selection of lip balms. I knew the young woman who bought me the gift had spent a good deal of time thinking about what to buy, but when I first opened it I didn’t get the significance of her choice. Then she reminded me of one day when she and I had walked to lunch that I had commented that I would like to have a pair of white gloves to wear on the subway to see how dirty the TTC really was. I love them and they’ve taught me something: the TTC handrails are not nearly as dirty as the TTC washrooms. I got the mittens December 16 and have been downtown using the bus and train at least a half-dozen times and they aren’t visibly black. I’m sure that won’t last long once all the people out on Holiday holidays are back filling up the rush hour buses and cars, but for now I’m impressed. If I can keep from dropping them in the mud or touching the side of the van with them, I’ll keep you posted as to their demise.