August 8, 2007

An Internet Moment

I’d ordered an item from a local on-line retailer and had been following its progress using one of those handy package tracking sites. There was a gap in the record when it left Texas and headed out across the desert toward the green Northwest, so it slipped my mind for a day or two. When I next went to check it, I noticed that the last entry had the word “delivered” in it. Wait! It’s here? So, I opened the front door and, sure enough, that sneaky UPS guy had slipped past the canine alarm (she has a real thing for Brown) and dropped off the package in the last 30 minutes.

I had to check the Internet to find that out what had just happened on my front porch.

1 comment:

Duncan said...

Mike, you're not alone in using computers or other reference methods to find out what's happening just outside. Many years ago, I worked as a photographer for a national astronomy observatory. I was sent to Hawaii to photograph the site of one of 'our' telescopes there, and in doing so, hung around the control room on occasion, while I was making time exposures outside at night.

On one such night, I was just watching (fascinated, as an amateur astronomer) the clever guys (the ones with PhDs) set up to observe a particular object. This was done by sitting at a control console, entering coordinates for the telescope, and checking the monitor prior to and during data acquisition.

Now, there was some consternation because of a large swathe of light covering half the screen; much animated discussion ensued. Yours truly took a quick step outside and noted that the scope was pointing within a few degrees of the bright moon. I went back in and nonchalantly asked them if they knew where the moon was that night. Did any of them get up and stroll outside as I had done? No, they scurried around, looking for an ephemeris, which eventually told them that they were indeed close to the moon; the swathe of light was simply flare within the optics.

I was somewhat amazed that not one of these very intelligent people had the wit to stick their head outside - or, for that matter, to realise what the problem was - but that's professional astronomers for you! Or maybe just oxygen deprivation at high altitude.