Thursday, November 02, 2006

Lunar Lunacy

Life's been a little busy lately and been ignoring blog. Just back from a whirlwind trip to Madurai and another Kovai-Madurai-Pudukkottai-home trip happening next week. When I am not traveling, its visitor time here at home in Kerala. Though must say that its mostly inertia that's been keeping me away from blog. That and the fact that there's enough entertainment in moi's life without resorting to blogging. But Bill, over at the other side of the world is having a bit of trouble with his advisor experiencing separation pains weeks before he's scheduled to defend and he claims he sorely needs more entertainment that Cecilia can provide and so he's decided to blog! Well, no, he is too lazy to actually log into Blogger and start a new blog and all that but he's been sending me stuff that I am supposed to put up here on this blog. So without further ado, here's Bill's Lunar Lunacy. Before you go on, a word of caution - I have not seen so many bad moon puns in one place, so please proceed at your own risk!

Veena: Hey, you know A?

Bill: Yeah, the one who got married last month?

Veena: Yeah, did you know her husband gets her one-month anniversary gifts?

Bill: Good for her. I think it's technically called a honeymoon month.

Veena: I don't remember getting a honeymoon gift. Technically or otherwise.

Bill: You now want an anniversary gift? You mean you are past denial phase now and are admitting that we indeed got married?

Veena: No, no, that would so bad. Ofcourse we aren't married.

Bill: Thank God! For a second there I thought we would have to get divorced now that you think we are married.

Veena: Yeah but wait.

Bill: What now?

Veena: So okay, no anniversary gifts. But that doesn't mean I shouldn't get gifts.

Bill: Maybe. But I am a poor grad student, not an earning member of society. I think that lets me out.

Veena: Yeah, yeah. You have enough money to go gallivanting around the world, just not any to spend on me.

Bill: Oh oh, that sure is subtle. What gift do you want now?

Veena: Well, I am known to have the subtlety of an elephant. Now you go get me something that is out of this world.

Poor me! So here is where I start thinking, hey, what kind of gift is out of this world? Bear in mind it has to be affordable on a student stipend. Maybe one of the minor planets, eh? I certainly can't afford Saturn, or any of the rings either. Not Pluto, so downmarket now, isn't it? Wait, what did the poet say?

"But soft, what light through yonder window breaks?"

If you are not worried about going down the beaten track, the moon is always considered oh-so-romantic. No less an authority than Shahrukh Khan has promised "Chaand taare, tod laoon..." But then, that was reel life. For those of us who cannot strum the guitar strings, but do have to pay extra state tax on luxury items, it is not that easy to go get the moon. I mean, think about it. Where would you go to get the moon? Certainly not a big store, that so kills the romance. Everyday Low Prices, 50% off the second one, with a mail-in rebate? I don't think so. What you want is one of those small shops in a corner, specializing in planetary deliveries since the time of Galileo. For the bleeding heart liberal types, only certified natural would do, of course. One of a kind, packaged individually in pristine deep space, untouched by cosmic radiation. We use only the finest comet gas! Guaranteed fair trade. No moonshine was consumed in the production of this moon.

Say for a moment that it is do-able. I can afford it. What next? Setting and packaging. There are rocks that can be polished and put into the perfect setting. But the one we want has to be set just right, in a precise Keplerian setting. It has to be in tune with the Pythagorean harmony of the stars, right? And then the delivery options. Delivery next day before sunrise might be overdoing things. On the other hand, you cannot make her wait for a blue moon either. Airmail is out of the question, though space mail might cut it. Maybe someone with a fleet of Apollos could undertake the job? Fedex?

Paying insurance will be another headache. Not exactly replaceable. Sure, Jupiter has a lot of moons, but is not known to give them up easily. There are strong risks of being damaged by meteorites, not to mention astronauts putting up flags and playing golf. And of course, if you are shipping it internationally, customs is going to be a huge problem. What are you going to declare on the form? One moon. Not explosive, or volcanic, or anything like that. Not a biohazard, though it may be made of green cheese. If it turns out to contain green moon bugs, please don't send Homeland Security after me. I don't want to be exiled to some camp in what the popular press calls the lunar landscape.

So you can see that this is a whole host of trouble. But that is how it is when the world is not enough. Getting that gift can leave you shaken, and stirred. All things considered, its not exactly a small step for a man. Regardless of what these moonwalkers say. So no, all these unworldly ideas are not for poor grad students like me. No sir, we deal only with real practical things. What are these ideas you talk about? Logic. Math. Programming. Proving theorems. How about sending this beautiful proof that I have here over by Fedex? Will she consider it out of the world? Yes, it is a possibility. Oh hang on, the proof needs to go here in this paper. Due in two days time! Away, sleep! Disappear like a pale moonbeam!

1 comment:

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