Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Grocery bags, art supplies and imaginary films


I've been running some errands today: post office, groceries, art supplies. I had a dire shortage of ink retarder. My friends know I carry this great, compact, indestructible nylon grocery bag, printed with constellations everywhere I go. So, as I got to the cash register at my local art supply store, I got it out before the clerk could offer me one of their plastic bags.

Art Store Clerk 1 (who looked improbably like the 10th Doctor, including the tweed): Oh, that's a great bag!

minouette: Yes, I like it. It's indestructible too.

ASC1: I was just recently in New Brunswick and the skies were so clear.... like, I can see Orion out my window here, but there, I could see all the other dozens of stars which make up his belt, which aren't officially part of the constellation.

Thinking to myself that I must not tell my one story about Orion's er... belt to a stranger...*

minouette: Ah, yes. I spend a lot of time at sea, and it's a different thing entirely.

ASC1: Oh, really? And the moon... tell me... does it really rise over the horizon at sea and look bigger than anywhere else or is that just a Joe versus the Volcano myth?

Really not expecting to have to answer astronomy questions at the art supply store and thinking furiously that I must not use the word steradian because that would definitely scare most people who did not volunteer to study spherical trig and/or take me 20 minutes to explain.

minouette: Well, there's an optical illusion. The moon always appears larger to us when it's near the horizon though it always takes up the same amount of sky.

ASC1: Oh, yes, that's true. So, why do you spend time at sea? Are you a sailor?

minouette: Um... I'm a marine geophysicist.**

ASC2: Wow. That's a great job title.

ASC1: Isn't it? It sounds like the person you would need on all your adventures.

minouette: Maybe

ASC1: Like, if they made a movie, you would be played by Julianne Moore, and Jeff Goldblum would be your unreliable ex-husband...

ASC2: And Morgan Freeman...

ASC1: And Morgan Freeman.

ASC2: And Morgan Freeman would be the President of the United States.

ASC1: And Benedict Cumberbatch would be... would be the villain, because it seems that Benedict Cumberbatch must now be in all movies.

minouette: So it would seem.

ASC2: So, we'll have to work on that.

ASC1: Yes, we'll have to give that script a treatment, and then you can come and consult on it.

minouette: Um... okay then. I'll be back.

*I always remember going to an astronomy colloquium as a first year undergrad. I must confess, I fell asleep. When I awoke, I distinctly heard the prof say, "...and this is Orion, and this is his belt or other euphemism..." so I turned to my friend and neighbour TW and whispered urgently, "Did he just say what I think he said?" but, while she had remained awake, she had been lulled into drowsiness and had no idea what I was talking about. So, I guess I'll never know... but I assure you, I had never previously considered it Orion's three-star euphemism at his midsection and it made me wonder about astronomers and what they see.

**I never know how people will respond to that, but it seemed less complicated than saying I was a marine geophysicist/printmaker, or vise versa, despite being the the midst of attempting to buy ink.

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