Tag Archives: Uranus

Contemplating Uranus

Hubby is an avid amateur astronomer… and an alliterative archetype, apparently.  (Sorry, I couldn’t resist the chance to string together eight A-words without using the word ‘anus’.  We’ll get to that one later.)

Anyhow, Hubby is my go-to guy whenever I spot something in the night sky that intrigues me.  I’m not much of an astronomer – I can spot the Big Dipper and Orion and the North Star, and that’s about it.  So, early in the evening I’d point to a bright dot near the horizon and sing out, “Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight…”

And Hubby would say, “That’s not a star, that’s Venus.”

Oh.

So I learned to say, “Oh, look, there’s Venus!”

Then we got wrapped up in our move, and summer arrived with its long hours of daylight, and we didn’t have much time for stargazing.  But the other night we were sitting beside a little bonfire enjoying a cold beverage and I pointed happily to the bright dot in the southern sky.  “Oh, look, there’s Venus!”

Hubby said, “That’s not Venus, that’s Saturn.”

“Oh.  Where’s Venus?”

“You can’t see it now.  Planets move around, you know.”

“Right, so that explains why you haven’t mentioned Jupiter or Venus lately.  What about Neptune?  And weren’t you talking about seeing Mercury a few years back?”

“Yes, but you can’t see them right now, either.”

Mellowed by beer, my next question slipped out before I even considered it.  “But you never mention Uranus.  Can you ever see Uranus?”  As soon as the words left my mouth, I started to smirk.

In the firelight, Hubby didn’t notice my expression, or maybe he was ignoring it in an attempt to keep the conversation above a third-grade level.  “I saw Uranus the other night,” he replied seriously.

I couldn’t resist a straight line like that.  “Dang, I guess I should have put on some underwear.”

He gave an ‘oh-lord-here-we-go’ eye roll, and I attempted to veer back to the path of maturity by adding, “So what does it look like?  Can you see it with your naked eye?”  (Yes, I said ‘naked’ with a completely straight face.  See, I can act like an adult… for several seconds at a time.)

“No, it’s not very bright.  Even with my telescope, it’s just a fuzzy gray ball.”

I blame the beer.  My moment of maturity vanished without a trace.  “Uranus is gray and fuzzy?  That can’t be healthy.  And you say you can’t see Uranus without a telescope?  How does that even work?  If you have to look in the eyepiece at one end to see your other end, you must be very flexible…”

By this time we were both snickering.

“Yep,” Hubby agreed.  “It’s hard to get a glimpse of Uranus.  I can’t even spot it without help; I have to enter coordinates into my telescope to make it point in the right direction and then I use a computer program to track Uranus…”

“Okay, I’m never gonna turn my back on that telescope again.”

The conversation ended in a blaze of glory… literally.  We spotted a big meteor sailing erratically through the sky shedding sparks, and at that point we lost interest in Uranus… or anyone else’s, for that matter.

But now, inquiring minds want to know:  Have you ever seen Uranus?

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Weapons Of Ass Destruction

So, this morning I was thinking about toilet paper.  (Never mind what I was doing at the time.)  And it occurred to me that toilet paper is the keystone to civilized behaviour in the western hemisphere.

You know I’m right.  All you have to do is walk into a public washroom that’s out of toilet paper, and you realize how superficial our veneer of civilization really is.

I know lots of countries get along just fine without TP, but I want to be there to see the expression on the first westerner who finds nothing but a pitcher of water in the bathroom instead of a cottony-soft roll.  Or, hell, I’ll settle for seeing their faces while they watch this video.

You know what bothers me most about this?  Water might be “very-very clean”, but it’s also very-very wet.  And there’s nothing to dry off with… except maybe the hand towel… if there is one… not that I’d want to touch it…

Yep, toilet paper rules the modern western world.  All our technological toys are as nothing next to it.  People may profess utter dependence on their electronic devices, but would you rather be caught without your technology or without toilet paper?  I’m thinking that sleek new iPhone isn’t very absorbent.

Centuries ago, people used whatever was at hand.  Apparently wealthy Romans used silk or goose necks.  (I presume the necks were no longer attached to the geese.  I’ve been around geese enough to know you don’t wanna let those suckers anywhere near your tender bits.)

Grass, leaves, and pine cones worked for indigenous people, though I assume their elders passed down critical wisdom like ‘leaves of three, let it be’ and ‘use the pine cone with the direction of the scales unless you need a hemorrhoidectomy’.

In earlier America, corn cobs were a common choice.  Apparently they were quite comfortable when fresh, but after they dried they became weapons of ass destruction.  No wonder everyone heaved a sigh of relief when Sears and Eaton’s started printing their mail-order catalogues.

Today, toilet paper engineers are the unsung heroes of the western world.  These amazing folks create a product that’s strong enough to withstand zealous scrubbing of regions better left undescribed, yet designed to fall to pieces seconds after contacting water so your toilet doesn’t plug.  Soft enough to prevent abrasion, yet not so soft as to leave Klingons circling Uranus.

And it’s not just the engineers who should be lauded.  Then there’s the next step:  convincing consumers to buy.  First the marketing geniuses have to come up with umpteen ways to say ‘our product wipes your ass best’ while avoiding any scatological reference whatsoever.

Then they create ads inexplicably featuring fluffy kittens and cartoon bears.  Those commercials bring out the worst in me.  Every time I see them, I think of the joke about the bear and the bunny taking a dump side by side in the forest.  The bear turns to the bunny and says, “Do you have a problem with shit sticking to your fur?”.  The bunny says, “No”, and the bear says, “Good!”, grabs the bunny and wipes his ass with it.

I can just see the tagline:  “Soft as a bunny, strong as a bear”.

And now you know what it’s like to live inside my brain.

Sorry about that…

* * *

I’m driving 800 miles again today so I won’t be able to respond to comments until tomorrow.  “Talk” to you then! 🙂

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