What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Smile, You're On Google Earth!

The other night a couple of friends and I dragged our sleeping bags outside and, roughly a hundred feet from our comfortable beds, lay down on some uneven cement to watch the stars and sleep in the great outdoors. The material we laid our heads on was designed more for aesthetics than comfort, but our goal in spending an entire night outdoors was so pure and altruistic that we scoffed at all insinuation that a little hard ground could deter us.

When we first started making plans for this outdoor night adventure, I had expected the party to include Reginald, who often tags along in unpleasant activities if his friends are doing them. In fact, Reginald was all ready to go, extra stuffed sleeping bag and all, until we told him there would be no tent overhead. He insisted, for several argumentative quarter hours, that a tent is an absolute must for any outdoor adventure and that he wouldn't go along without it. We intoned that a tent defeated the purpose of star-gazing and invited him to stay inside while we roughed the outdoors.

Only after we implied that we would be going outdoors no matter what did Reginald get a wide-eyed look in his earnest commie eyes and beg us not to go out alone.

"It's Google; they'll see you." Reginald whispered the words as if Google had a sound detection device in the room with us. Then he ran into the room he appropriated some years ago, shut the door and, as is his custom, pulled the comforter over his head.

Are you reading this, Luce? He pulled the comforter over his head, like a small child; like a scared papoose in need of his Sacajawea. Reginald's afraid of Google! A search engine with fewer employees than that little town in Iowa that John Edwards was campaigning in yesterday, and he runs for his blankie! Poor Reggie!

Ok, back to the story.

Only slightly discombobulated by Reginald's behavior, my friends and I made our way outside and lay down on the hard cement. Small pieces of gravel had accumulated between the decorative cracks in the deck and I had to wiggle for several minutes before finding a place to rest that didn't stab me like Brutus. Then, if I could ignore the jostling of my friends, I gazed at the wonder of the star-scape in tranquility until an appendage started to fall asleep.

The first part of the night followed a seemingly endless cycle of adjust, pain and readjust, until I discovered I could live with something poking into my back or no feeling in the left part of my body. The affliction was severe, but I could cope.

At about 2:37 AM - for reasons that will soon become apparent, I checked my watch to memorialize the moment - a series of bright flashes filled the sky. I saw the first of what looked like small sulfur-fueled explosions come up from the western horizon and then ease gently overhead, creating a colorful line in the sky. One by one the tiny flash bulbs entered my vision and then slowly eased away.

"Hey, did you see that?" I shook my friends to see if they had noticed the spectacle. Their murmured replies expressed disgruntlement at the rude awakening and the fact that they had missed the lights in the western sky.

Maybe, I thought, the explosions were the result of an overactive imagination fueled to eccentric ramblings by the hard surface upon which I was laying. But I've never had these kinds of dreams before, even in past rough excursions. Maybe it was some terrible accident like a plane crash or space satellite failure. Or perhaps I had witnessed something I shouldn't have seen, like a missile test, alien invasion or the posthumous rise of Anna Nicole Smith. In fact I couldn't think of any good reasons why the explosions weren't all of those - maybe even at the same time.

Later that morning, after a pained levitation exercise and a shuffle into our house that was more fitting for Bill Walton, I sat down in front of Steve to resolve a hunch. Something Reginald had said made me wonder if those late night flashes were generated by the worlds' most fantastic search engine.

I ordered my computer browser to Google Earth and entered my address. Then I zoomed in as far as the pixels would allow and strained with bloodshot eyes to make out the image. There, clearly impregnated into my computer screen, was the image of three teenagers lounging outside a large house, at least the house looked pretty large zoomed all the way in.

I couldn't believe it! I had made the Google pictorial! Reginald was right! How in the world Reginald was able to figure out that Google was taking pictures that night is a query too distressing to even contemplate. But he had, and they did.

I wanted to scold Reginald for not telling me more sincerely, so I could have made some signs beforehand or had a Google photo party, but instead of going to see him, I printed the image and showed it to my friends, both of whom had an attack of the privacies and became hysterical.

My new picture makes me very proud. I sincerely wish I could show them to you without completely violating my personal privacy. Regardless, the pic shows that Google and I have a connection; we picked the same night to do our thing. And the photo really isn't that bad, either. If you squint just right, the pixels align to almost make it look like I'm smiling. Almost.

1 comment:

Grace said...

That was amazing.... *laughs*