Saturday, March 21, 2009

Freefall Physics

Relatively irrelevant relativity, that heretofore ill-documented time-warping phenomenon which most often manifests itself in bubble form encapsulating the Colonel, a man curmudgeoned before his time, demonstrated the never before observed characteristic of “transferability” here at the northern end of southern nowhere the other day.

The Colonel was up in the air, quite literally, walking the high steel... uh, toes clinging to the fiberglass top of a ten foot step ladder…, adding boardage to Semper Field's new tractor shed addition to the Eegeebeegee Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility, one hand on a hammer, the other on a nail, and, you guessed it... no hands left to anchor me and prevent my ultimate reconnection with the hallowed capital grounds of the Tallahatchie Free State, a government in opposition established with hand on wallet as much as tongue in cheek. Said ladder has long since achieved the state of repair that gives the word rickety a whole new meaning, and Miss Brenda, the comely and kind-hearted chairperson of the Tallahatchie Free State Committee on Safety has decreed that the Colonel is prohibited from ascending beyond the first step without her provision of stability and verbal encouragement to "be safe," as if I intentionally flirt with danger and disregard all rules of workplace safety every time I stir from a nap (I mean complete a strategic planning session) and take hammer in hand--okay, I do have a penchant for skirting safety regulations, but that's not important right now. The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda was providing effective stability for the Colonel whilst I was up the ladder, until the phone rang in the Sawdust Production side of the Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility.

A phone in the Eegeebeegee Man Toy Storage and Sawdust Production Facility?” you ask. But of course. I spend a great deal of time at, around, or in the EMTSASPF, and with the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda’s full social calendar and burgeoning circle of girlfriends in what can only be described as a middle-aged girl gang (hereinafter referred to as her MAGG), a phone in the EMTSASPF allows the Colonel to fulfill his critical responsibilities as the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda’s answering service in her absence.

As the phone continued to ring, I glanced downward at the upturned visage of my best friend and beheld the picture that should be in the dictionary next to the definition of the word, “indecision.” The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda was, in a word, “torn.” Her phone answering service was perched above her on the dilapidated collection of aluminum and fiberglass that long-ago assumed a condition inappropriate for assignment of the term, “ladder.” Leaving her post as the Colonel’s safety supervisor, even briefly, would, she was certain, expose her man to the dangers inherent in allowing doufi (plural of doufuss) to operate machinery (hammers qualify as machinery for doufi) at altitude without female (doufi are strictly male) supervision. Not answering the phone would almost certainly result in missing the announcement of the next unscheduled convocation and economic stimulatory shopping trip of her MAGG—a turn of events much too painful for the comely, kind-hearted, and shopping centric Miss Brenda to contemplate.


Don’t MOVE. I’ll be right back.” The comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda is nothing if not commanding when it comes to giving direction, and I froze, hammer in mid-swing.

And, then, the bubble of relatively irrelevant relativity surrounding the Colonel, shimmered briefly, popped with a distinct, “pffft,” and reappeared simultaneously around the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda. That visual stimuli to my optic nerve should have provided sufficient warning that I was going to be perched precariously on the aforementioned dilapidated collection of aluminum and fiberglass that long-ago assumed a condition inappropriate for assignment of the term, “ladder,” with hammer frozen in mid-swing, for an inordinate amount of time during which I was certain to observe the hastening approach of winter. However, comma, the Colonel has long and painful experience with disregard of the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda’s commands, and I endeavored to persevere in obedience.


At some point in the next seven hours and twenty-seven minutes, during which I maintained nearly inhuman motionlessness while perched precariously on the aforementioned dilapidated collection of aluminum and fiberglass that long-ago assumed a condition inappropriate for assignment of the term, “ladder,” with arm and hammer frozen in mid-swing, a combination of minor muscle fatigue and major attention deficit began to erode the Colonel’s obedient perseverance. There began to creep into the paltry collection of amorphous grey goo lying fallow in a forgotten recess of the bony brain housing group within which my dim consciousness resides the thought that I might very well have been, if unintentionally, abandoned by the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, and that I might want to consider engaging in some relatively minor muscle movements designed to reduce the precarious nature of my perch atop the aforementioned dilapidated collection of aluminum and fiberglass that long-ago assumed a condition inappropriate for assignment of the term, “ladder.”

The almost imperceptible of minor muscle movements designed to affect the least bit of readjustment of the Colonel’s precarious perch on the aforementioned dilapidated collection of aluminum and fiberglass that long-ago assumed a condition inappropriate for assignment of the term, “ladder,” resulted in launching the man curmudgeoned before his time from his high altitude perch and into mid-air as if shot from the proverbial cannon. At exactly the same moment, the bubble of relatively irrelevant relativity that had transferred to the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda seven hours and twenty-seven minutes previously, reappeared with a shimmering “ding,” around the Colonel and slowed the passage of time to a creep approaching the speed at which sorghum molasses pours from a bottle on a cold day. The Colonel’s otherwise catlike reflexes, on which I would rely for terminal ground approach, were delayed in initiation due to indecision regarding choice of an appropriate landing zone, said choice being complicated by the vast array of mostly pointed and sharp edged tools littering the ground, in strategic order of last use, at the foot of the aforementioned dilapidated collection of aluminum and fiberglass that long-ago assumed a condition inappropriate for assignment of the term, “ladder.”

As the Colonel sorted through the limited and rapidly diminishing collection of available courses of action with regard to clear landing sites, it occurred to me that, due to the lack of airspeed resulting from my previous perseverance in obedience to the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda’s “Don’t MOVE” command, said lack of airspeed would have the ultimate result, despite out-stretched and wildly gyrating arms attempting to achieve a modicum of lift, of reducing my glide ratio to that of a bag of bricks. As I drifted earthward, the surrounding bubble of relatively irrelevant relativity provided sufficient time, once I had exhausted the list of available landing sites and accepted a lack of control over same, to contemplate the foot pounds of energy that would be exchanged upon impact with terra firma, and calculate the degree beyond which I was likely to exceed my pain threshold subsequent to gravitational contact.

As I neared less than one half foot AGL, the bubble of relatively irrelevant relativity surrounding me shimmered and disappeared with a barely audible “pffft” and, in the intervening six inches, a radical transition from sorghum molasses time warp to hypervelocity occurred causing me to accelerate to just below terminal velocity prior to impact. In spite of my best efforts to induce lift, and despite a lack of forward airspeed with which to achieve course correction, I managed to deposit my carcass on the one patch of bare ground devoid of the aforementioned vast array of mostly pointed and sharp edged tools littering the ground in strategic order of last use. The resounding thud with which the Colonel’s body made contact with Mother Earth is reported to have registered on seismographs across a three state area.


Evidently the bubble of relatively irrelevant relativity transferred once again, shortly before my hypervelocity and thunderously ground-shaking impact, to the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda, as I was able to process through a lengthy checklist of skeletal structures and provide myself a preliminary damage control report based on lack of any searing pain registering in the amorphous grey goo passing for cognitive cells lying dormant in the cavernous recesses of my brain housing group, before the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda initiated return to her abandoned post as the Colonel’s worksite safety supervisor. In the intervening interminable period of relatively irrelevant relativity bubble-governed time it took Miss Brenda to pry herself from telephonic conference with her MAGG and respond to the in-flight scream of terror and post-flight low moans of the Colonel, I had completed a thorough diagnostic check of all critical systems and was contemplating initiation of positional readjustment from the very-still prone position to a more dignified head-between-the-knees sitting readiness posture.

Ed, are you alright!?” A high, querulous voice cut through the ground fog that had suddenly appeared coincident with my arrival ground-side.


Sure! Never better!” I answered. Aural distortions attendant to the lingering effects of the relatively irrelevant relativity bubble caused the comely and kind-hearted Miss Brenda to hear my answer as a low moan.

I told you not to move!

I didn’t—at least not for several hours.
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