Monday, November 17, 2008

Not Going Where No Man Has Not Gone Before

With cycling season winding down for me I've been getting back into running so I can still enjoy that occasional bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream topped with a shot of Kahlua. This morning I woke a little early and cut up a gala apple to mix in with my oatmeal. Combined with a cup of Earl Grey containing a generous dollop of honey and I had a breakfast that makes me go. I read the paper to give my breakfast time to settle before donning my hat, gloves, and highly reflective jacket for the run to work.

Since running is rather monotonous I tend to let my mind work on things that exercise it but probably also contribute to my social retardedness. For example, I haven't developed black and white photos in years but just for fun I'll start from a baseline, e.g., a 4-second exposure with the light 13 inches above the paper, pretend I'm cropping the photo and compute the exposure time with the light at 19 inches. And then I'll zoom in to make a smaller print with the light at 8 inches distance. If you haven't recognized it, I'm using the inverse square law, which is pretty geeky but it's actually an extremely important law to remember when you're using the flash on your camera. Many people have taken pictures in arenas and stadiums at night without realizing the inverse square law would inform them they were wasting their time--and film in the old days. Is it any wonder that people are drawn to me, the conversational magnet that I am? Ha!

So I'm running and squaring and dividing, when the STA 124 Express bus passes by on Wall St. That bus leaves the Hastings Park 'n' Ride every 15 minutes from 5:15 to 8:45 am. The bus that leaves at 5:15 arrives at the STA Plaza at 5:40 and then departs at 5:45. There's a constant flow of buses going back and forth. After a few minutes I got to wondering how many buses are required for that effort. I'm pondering my approach to that problem when, with four miles left to go, my attention was urgently diverted. Before I tell you about my change of focus you need to know that, for the last four miles, instead of computing the number of buses I thought about how I would write about the rest of this post.

Scene: The bridge of the Starship Distensible

Intercom Speaker: "Engineering to bridge."

Captain Staccato-Pause: "Bridge here. What is it, MacStrain?"

MacStrain: "It's the dilithium crystals, Captain. They're drowning. That wee cup of tea wasn't so wee and we need to wee."

Captain Staccato-Pause: "How we have?"

MacStrain: "Aye, we're holdin' her as tight as we can, Captain, but we don't have long. It's backing up on us."

Captain Staccato-Pause: "MacStrain...we've got...four astronomical units...before we reach...our final destination. Can you...hold it that long?"

MacStrain: "Do you realize how far an astronomical unit is? The ship will never hold that amount of pressure, Captain."

Captain Staccato-Pause: "We've choice. YOU'VE GOT TO HOLD IT, MAN!"

MacStrain: "We can let a wee amount go, just to ease the load."

Captain Staccato-Pause: "Absolutely not! Do you...know...what's at stake here? We...can't wee...can we? Mr we...have time?"

Jacque: "My computational parameters apply to beer ingestion, but they may be applicable to tea if I null the carbon dioxide input."

Captain Staccato-Pause: "What...does the computer...predict?"

Jacque: (raises one eyebrow) "Odd. A divide by zero error. It would appear the nought is for naught."

Captain Staccato-Pause: "In plain English, man! Do we...have time...before we wee?"

Jacque: "My calculations show the Distensible can withstand the pressure for another four point zero zero eight five astronomical units with a margin of error of plus or minus point zero zero zero five. Regardless, it will be somewhat unpleasant."

MacStrain: "Aye, unpleasant for you on the bridge, but we're drowning down here!"

Captain Staccato-Pause: "Get a hold of yourself, MacStrain. For the sake of the must...not...wee."

MacStrain: "(gurgling sounds)...put a cork in it, Captain, and stick it up...(bubbling sounds)"

Captain Staccato-Pause: "Thank you, MacStrain. We're all...counting on you."

Needless to say, the relief I felt when I was done running was indescribable. I was please to see I handled myself well under pressure. (Man, I love the English language.)

BTW, any resemblance between a real person and the fictional characters portrayed here is purely coincidental.

1 comment:

Jacque Hendrix said...

Dammit! How did you know my nickname is MacStrain?