The Spoons of Jupiter
by Tim Miller
Table of Contents|
parts: 1, 2, 3, 4
I got to English class a little early and asked Mr. White if I could go to the bathroom. “Is it an emergency?” he asked. What a question. I was dripping in sweat.
“Be back before class starts,” he said.
What a humanitarian. Sorry I didn’t zip my fly, there was no time!
I walked in about five minutes late. Mr. White gave me a tardy, which is a tenth of a point off your grade average, but I had a solid D in his class.
My problem in Mr. White’s class began when I started writing papers sans punctuation. I guess I just got tired of writing what teachers wanted to read. You know: introduction, body, conclusion — blahblahblahblahblah A+. Splendid paper, you wrote exactly what we told you to write. So I started turning in some James Joyce soliloquy papers. Mr. White wasn’t exactly impressed with my precociousness.
I started to get all annoyed, but I just decided to tune him out. I was in the back so I started reading my book, The Sound and the Fury. I had just started it and was having trouble following the first section. All I can really tell you is that Caddy smelled like trees.
The interiors of Io, Europa and Ganymede have a layered structure (as does Earth). Io has a core, and a mantle of at least partially molten rock, topped by a crust of solid rock coated with sulfur compounds. Europa and Ganymede both have a core; a rock envelope around the core; a thick, soft ice layer; and a thin crust of impure water ice. In the case of Europa, a global subsurface water layer probably lies just below the icy crust. Layering at Callisto is less well defined and appears to be mainly a mixture of ice and rock.
It’s like the menu at Dairy Queen, lots of variety and layers to choose from!
I didn’t hear much of the conversation during lunch. I was thinking about when I would ask Cindy. She didn’t have the same lunch, but there would be ample opportunity that afternoon. They had planned a whole slew of senior activities. At least classes were cancelled. Everyone else was talking about tuxedos and blowjobs again. The best night of your life.
When I got up to throw my lunch away, I just kept walking, all the way to the library. The bell rang, and everyone headed outside for the class picture. The seniors gather in this spot that they’ve done the senior class picture for the last forty years, and then the principal comes out on the roof and snaps the picture. They hang the picture in the main hall where you become another dot on the wall.
After the third “Caddy smelled like trees” I slammed The Sound and the Fury closed, which made the librarian jump. I wasn’t about to sit in that library all afternoon. By the time I got out to the picture, though, everyone was heading in.
Three of the moons influence each other in an interesting way. Io is in a tug-of-war with Ganymede and Europa, and Europa’s orbital period (time to go around Jupiter once) is twice Io’s period, and Ganymede’s period is twice that of Europa. In other words, every time Ganymede goes around Jupiter once, Europa makes two orbits and Io makes four orbits.
The moons all keep the same face towards Jupiter as they orbit, meaning that each moon turns once on its axis for every orbit around Jupiter. This is called synchronous motion, which is like our moon and why you never see the dark side of the moon unless you’re watching The Wizard of Oz while listening to Pink Floyd.
It’s all enough to make your head spin!
The next senior activity was to dip your hand in paint and put a handprint on the wall of the senior cafeteria, where it stays for one year until the next class paints over the wall and does the same thing. I figured I would leave as little evidence of myself as possible.
For a moment I started getting that frozen-in-the-river feeling, just standing around, towering over people. C.B. was pretending that he didn’t know that he had paint on his hand, walking around and trying to get people to shake hands with him. He was really hamming it up.
“Hey, Josh, great year, great year, we gotta hang out this summer.”
Josh Taustein extended his hand, unaware that everyone was watching. But C.B. pulled his hand away at the last moment. Keith started doing it, but he would shake the person’s hand. He went up to Gary Shickman with everyone watching.
“Gaaaaarrrrr!” Keith said. “Great year, buddy!”
Old Shickadoo took the bait: hook, line and sinker. He turned red as a stop sign as everyone laughed. “You got me, good one,” he said.
He’ll probably carry that rotten moment around the rest of his life.
C.B went over and did it to Dean Early. C.B pulled his hand away, but Dean Early, being the dork he is, actually wanted to shake with C.B. after the joke, to show how he was a good guy and all. So C.B. smeared paint on his hand. I could’ve puked.
It was almost time for the assembly. They do a mock party and then an accident with a mock funeral with all the teachers as actors, then the county coroner comes in and tells us not to drink-and-drive because she doesn’t want to knock on our parents’ door at 3:00 a.m. People were heading to the bathrooms to wash their hands on their way toward the auditorium.
“Hey, did you do a handprint?”
It was C.B.
“No. I didn’t feel like it.”
“Dude, what’s up with that?”
“With the whole C-Creepio act? You know, creepin’ out. Not doing a handprint. Not going to prom. Not going on the senior boat ride. You’re missing out on everything.”
C-Creepio. Whenever anything was slightly creepy, it was C-Creepio, from Star Wars C-3PO.
“I’m just not up for it.”
“Laaaammme.” He started sounding an alarm, like it was a “lame alert.”
“Listen,” he said. “I just saw Cindy at the class picture. She asked me if you’re going to ask her. All you gotta do is ask. OK? You can do it, ain’t no thang.”
So I put some green paint on my hand and did an eight-finger print, without writing my name. C.B. did a pirate hook, but he wanted his name beside it.
Pioneers 10 and 11 (1973 to 1974) and Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 (1979) offered striking color views and global perspectives from their flybys of the Jupiter system. Starting in 1995, the Galileo spacecraft made observations from repeated elliptical orbits around Jupiter, passing as low as 162 miles (261 kilometers) over the surfaces of the Galilean moons. These close approaches resulted in images with unprecedented detail of selected portions of the surfaces. (Indicate the poster here.) You know you’re in outer space when 162 miles is considered extremely close!
The biggest discoveries from Galileo are probably the crisscrossed cracks on the icy surface of Europa, suggesting the possibility of running water or even an ocean. Also, the large red spot on Jupiter is not a religious symbol to ward off bad luck; it’s actually a huge hurricane with counterclockwise winds of over 250 miles per hour!
Copyright © 2018 by Tim Miller