A). What are the odds that a person owns a slide rule?
B). What are the odds that a person needs to use their slide rule?
C). What are the odds that anybody would need to use their slide rule just after lending their slide rule out?
And D). Who the hell borrows a person's slide rule?
Google was not able to answer these questions either.
It began with a simple conversation between my Sweet Sven and I regarding the black hole, which came up due to all the hullabaloo over the first picture ever taken of the place.
I am sure you are familiar with what I am talking about as it was plastered all over the internet last month.
Of course that is not where Sven saw the picture.
Sven saw it on the 6:00 news.
"I need my slide rule," he says.
"What?" I answered from the kitchen.
"Have you seen this picture of the black hole?"
I wandered out there.
First of all, let me clarify.
We, as in Sven, Hunter the wonder dog, and I, live in the black hole. A special place that is off the grid from all of today's modern conveniences, such as cell service, live streaming and high-speed internet. I have taken thousands of pictures of it. They are very pretty. However, I was never aware that astronomers would have been interested in any of my photos. If so, I certainly would have made them available.
But you know how it is. The grass is always greener on the other side.
Apparently, this black hole located between Cemetery Hill and Nelson's Repair isn't black enough for today's scientists.
Nor the media.
They care only about a black hole that is fifty million light years away, which is ridiculous when you consider how much unnecessary government spending is going on, when they could do the same research right here on planet earth.
And that bogus news program would be the reason Sven was in sudden need of his slide rule.
"Millie," he says. "A light year is equal to the number of miles light travels in one year."
"I know that."
"Which is approximately six trillion," he says.
"Okay," I say, and turn to go back to the kitchen.
"Which I think is like, one hundred eighty thousand miles per second."
"Sven, I just retired from pricing. I will not listen to math talk. Stop it."
"I figured it out on my slide rule," he continued. "A long time ago."
I just stared at him.
"But Pierre has my slide rule now."
"I know. I dropped it off there yesterday," I answered.
"Well, I need it back."
"I am sure Pierre will return it."
"Yeah. But I could use it right now."
That is when I hollered up the stairs, "Okay Google. What are the odds that anybody would need their slide rule back right after lending their slide rule out?"
"I am sorry. I am not able to answer that question," she says.
She says that a lot.
"Just use the calculator," I offer to Sven.
"They don't have enough decimals."
Of course, he tried to calculate it on the calculator anyway while I held my hands over my ears, chanting, "La-la-la-la-la-la-la."
"See," he says, holding it up.
There were sixes all the way across the thing.
And then he starts mumbling. I think I heard something about a nineteenth power.
"Stop it," I said. "I can't even stand infinity. And now you are taking infinity and blowing it up. When a woman says stop, she is to be respected."
But he couldn't hear me. He was in a mathematical trance.
Numbers were floating in front of his face.
Numbers that only he could see.
I couldn't take it.
"Okay Google," I yelled up the stairs, "How many miles away is fifty-million light years?"
"Fifty million light years is equal to 2.1939 x 10 to the 20th power," she answers.
"Oh. 2.1939," says Sven. "That makes sense."
And that is why we won that costume party contest at Joe Mamas the year we showed up as nerds.
Sven's slide rule, which sadly is not in view in the above picture, is hanging from his belt.
It's as big as a sword.
And is great for twirling around while you dance.
"Sven," I said just the other day. "Has Pierre returned your slide rule yet?"
"I wanted to take a picture of it."
"Can't you just take a picture of my other one?"
"You have two?"
I sure do love that nerd.