Where do you live?
Well, when this question came through I petitioned Sang for the right to answer it. I know part of the mission of this lab is a certain kind of free-wheeling public outreach, which I wanted to be a part of (if for no other reason than to understand how dating advice figures into such a strange marine biology lab) and I figured this question would also satisfy some of my own curiosity about the work I have signed up for. What follows is my journal regarding the search for the answers to this very basic question.
I hope that you, Terry, find this as edifying as I did.
So, as I was saying, I saw this question come through on my terminal in the Data Center. I IM'd Dr. Hsien about it and he did not respond. I have always felt when starting new work it was best to assume that forthrightness was appreciated until instructed otherwise, so I got up from my terminal and hunted the Doctor down.
I found him at the window working on his personal laptop. He was startled by my approach.
"Dr. Hsien—" I held my hand out just over his shoulder. Should I touch him?
"Sang," he responded without turning away from his work.
"What?" My hand froze in the air above his shoulder.
"Everyone here calls me Sang." He paused in his work and gazed out into the rain.
"Sorry. I apologize. Sang—"
"I don't like being called Sang. I just meant to say that everyone calls me that."
"Hrm." I let my hand come down to my side. I shifted my weight from side to side and wondered if I might not be better off just fending away the janitor, Rob. The air was damp from the rain, the vents breathing cold dog-breath down on us both. Of course, it could actually be the breath of a dog. I kept one eye on my immobile boss and with the other eye I glanced up at the vent. On more than one occasion I have seen the eyes of a haggard escaping cocker spaniel looking down.
No escaping dogs this time. Just clammy air.
"What do you want?" Sang sighed.
"What are you working on?" I tried to be cheery.
"Go away." He closed his shoulders. I grimaced and took a deep breath.
"May I answer this question?" I held up the printout of the email.
He narrowed his eyes at me. Outside, the rain beat against the window and you could barely even see Windsor in the charcoal air of the afternoon.
Finally, "Fine." He returned to his typing. When I tried to glance over his shoulder, he closed the laptop and stared out the window until I walked away.
So, here it goes, Terry. Where do we live? let's find out.
The Renaissance Center:
"You know, if you're here, like, at six in the morning, it's totally awesome when the sun rises, and Lord Archeteuthis is there, and the light is coming in over Windsor and the River and through the pollution and then the windows and then all the little bits of floaty gunk in the tank, all around him. It's totally fucking awesome. It's like— like—"
This is Rob, the janitor, who I shudder to reflect, has something of a crush on me, despite our disparate ages. Also, he appears to believe that the giant squid— who is nonetheless a magnificent and curious specimen of his kind— is some manner of space-alien royalty.
"It just fucking rules."
"But you know what I worry about, you know, like, when I'm up here, looking in on Lord A and out into the city and shit?"No, Rob, what's that?
"Bernoulli. You know, like, Bernoulli's Principle, in physics? 'Cause it's already a problem, right, in buildings like this, way up high, where the air thins out and there's always sheer wind, and you have positive pressure from the vent system and shit, and then you get pressure lowered along the surface when the wind kicks up— I mean, this is the shit that makes planes fly, right, high pressure under the wing, low pressure on top— but, so, you already got strong prevailing winds, and so and you're just waiting for it to kick up to a gail and POP, window comes out. Happened in Boston, in the Hancock Building, in, like, the early '70s. Cut a mom in half while she was holding her little girl's hand, just standing there on the sidewalk when the glass came down like the Wrath of Hancock. Fucked up shit. Mega lawsuit. Sure, ole Ren Cen, she has extra thick mullions and three-quarter inch glass, so that shouldn't be a problem, but, like, those clever fucks who designed her in '77, they didn't figure on Lord A pushing a coupla metric tons of water up against the glass. I mean, the back wall of the tank, have you looked where the front piece and the back come together? It's caulked right to the outside wall, shit you not. When the wind kicks up, like in a big storm, I totally get this vision of one of those windows snap-crackle-popping out and sending a sluice of juice and squid a thousand feet straight onto the glass roof of that fancy mezzanine. Man."
Rob shakes his head and shudders at what is, admittedly, a fairly terrifying prospect.
Having based my opinion of Rob on past experience, I am flabbergasted at this astute observation, and say as much, noting that I had taken him to be a high school drop-out.
"Shit," Rob says, waving his hand and blushing to the roots of his hair— which is mostly waded under a dirty, backwards Tigers cap, "Physics, man, physics was no problem in high school. Right, it's just a bunch of shit you already know, but with new names. I know a ball comes back down when I throw it up, I know that a curved surface got more area than a straight shot and so slows down the air passing over and decreases pressure, I know that the strength of gravitational attraction decreases inversely with distance— that shit's just the way the world is. All I had to learn was the names. Like Spanish. Good at Spanish too, porque mis amigos narcotraficos me enseñan muy bien. Me and the Spider Brothers . . . shit. Those assholes got some ingenious filth in their heads."
Rob smiles broadly. I shake my head and turn to go to the Data Center, Rob dogging my heels.
And that's where Rob and I started. Next week, I'll fill you in on what happens around the lab, and even out in the city proper.
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