Starstruck Soil Scientists

10 11 2004

We didn’t need an excuse to go to Seattle. But we had a good one. Months ago George submitted an abstract to the Soil Science Society of America, describing his research and offering to present a paper at their convention. They bit, which meant he had to put together a power point presentation and a fifteen minute talk.

George was a little nervous about the presentation. The world of soil and worms has its celebrities just like every other subculture, and the thought of these science giants scrutinizing his research and statistics made his heart beat so hard you could see his pocket protector jump. (Okay, I made that up. He doesn’t wear a pocket protector. Not since I accidentally “lost” it.)

I attended the opening night of the conference with him. Since he was scheduled to present first thing the next morning, he sought out the practice room that night — just to go over his slides one more time.

We entered the designated room and found it divided into three sections: one row of computers set aside for e-mail, one for reviewing abstracts, and one for presenters to practice. George sat at the only available practice monitor and inserted his disc in the CD drive.

I meandered over to the e-mail computers and logged on. I didn’t accomplish much, though, because a young woman on my left kept speaking loudly to a young man on my right. He answered in equally loud tones. They didn’t seem a bit concerned about my hearing their conversation, probably because they were speaking Swedish or some Scandinavian-sounding language. (This was an international conference, so Swedish soil-types joined the fun.) After openly eavesdropping without the slightest twinge of guilt or comprehension, I moseyed back over to check on George.

About this time another gentleman entered the practice room. I’m not exaggerating when I say he could have been a model for Gary Larson. Round around the middle, a wispy comb-over, frumpy jacket hanging from slumpy shoulders, thick glasses, and a mouth that seemed frozen in a slightly open, numbed position. I kept expecting to see a stream of drool any moment.

Dr. Cartoon Scientist Man entered the practice section and paused behind George. He watched through several slides, then moved to the next person. He continued his progress down the line, finally parking at the last computer in the row, which had just been vacated.

Having nothing else to do, and being an observant (i.e., nosy) type, I took in the following scene.

First, Dr. Cartoon Scientist Man couldn’t figure out how to get his power point up and running. The man beside him — Scientist from India — kept getting out of his chair and going over to help. This commotion drew the attention of two young women who were seated in the adjoining section reviewing abstracts. They struck me as young grad students, probably 25-ish, and they obviously knew each other. One of them, a cute girl in jeans with a funky short hair-cut, glanced at Dr. Cartoon Scientist Man’s monitor. Then she gasped and covered her mouth.

She grabbed her friend’s arm and mouthed the words, “Do you know who that is?”

The friend didn’t.

Cute girl told her.

Friend gasped, too, and also covered her mouth. They both blushed and pointed and generally acted like a couple of teenagers who’d discovered Orlando Bloom sitting at the next table at McDonald’s.

As it turned out, Dr. Cartoon Scientist Man had authored a book. An important book. A book that young, female science people study, memorize, and go gaga over.

I know I had a huge grin on my face. They probably assumed I was as impressed with Dr. CSM as they. For his part, he never noticed them. He was still trying to figure out how to work the computer.

So, kids, what do we learn from this story? Hmmm. Maybe this. Next time you see a Far Side science cartoon, don’t be so quick to laugh at the nerdy lab guy. The cute girl sitting next to you may have a crush on him.

The End.


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12 responses

11 11 2004
ragamuffen

So this was basically like a star trek convention or dragoncon or whatever…lol

WormCon’04, prepare to get down and dirty!

Tell George if he needs a groupie that wears funny ears, I’ll be his girl. I’ve actually raised worms before!

11 11 2004
ragamuffen

So this was basically like a star trek convention or dragoncon or whatever…lol

WormCon’04, prepare to get down and dirty!

Tell George if he needs a groupie that wears funny ears, I’ll be his girl. I’ve actually raised worms before!

11 11 2004
jeannedamoff

This is the second international worm convention I’ve attended with George. The first was in Wales. Of course, this Seattle one wasn’t technically about worms, but soil and worms go together like, um, stuff that goes together. At any rate, these shindigs are surreal and super-fun for the outsider looking in. I love them.

“Prepare to get down and dirty!” I will have to share that slogan with George. He will like.

Vermiculture is all the rage. I would imagine wearing funny ears enhances the experience exponentially. Send me your resume, and I’ll pass it along to the Worminator.

xo

11 11 2004
jeannedamoff

This is the second international worm convention I’ve attended with George. The first was in Wales. Of course, this Seattle one wasn’t technically about worms, but soil and worms go together like, um, stuff that goes together. At any rate, these shindigs are surreal and super-fun for the outsider looking in. I love them.

“Prepare to get down and dirty!” I will have to share that slogan with George. He will like.

Vermiculture is all the rage. I would imagine wearing funny ears enhances the experience exponentially. Send me your resume, and I’ll pass it along to the Worminator.

xo

12 11 2004
allenb

(raises hand) I know! We learned today that Smart is Sexy! And also, if you happen to be a scientist guy, you are very lucky if you find yourself a wife smart enough to “lose” your pocket protector. 🙂

12 11 2004
allenb

(raises hand) I know! We learned today that Smart is Sexy! And also, if you happen to be a scientist guy, you are very lucky if you find yourself a wife smart enough to “lose” your pocket protector. 🙂

12 11 2004
jeannedamoff

A+

12 11 2004
jeannedamoff

A+

13 11 2004
entreact

All things wormerful

I enjoyed your stories of your trip to Seattle, but rather than reply to them all individually, I’ll do a sort of combined reply. Your description of Dr. Cartoon Scientist Man was great. I’m especially intrigued with the whole groupie thing that was going on. BTW, how did George’s presentation go? I’m disappointed that Grace did not do any magic tricks at the Chinese restaurant we took her to in Chinatown. I want Brett to serve me tea. That sounds very cool.

13 11 2004
entreact

All things wormerful

I enjoyed your stories of your trip to Seattle, but rather than reply to them all individually, I’ll do a sort of combined reply. Your description of Dr. Cartoon Scientist Man was great. I’m especially intrigued with the whole groupie thing that was going on. BTW, how did George’s presentation go? I’m disappointed that Grace did not do any magic tricks at the Chinese restaurant we took her to in Chinatown. I want Brett to serve me tea. That sounds very cool.

17 11 2004
jeannedamoff

Re: All things wormerful

George’s presentation went grand. All the worm people lifted him up, and he body-surfed around the room.

No wait. I’m mixing it up with something else. Never mind.

Thank yer.

17 11 2004
jeannedamoff

Re: All things wormerful

George’s presentation went grand. All the worm people lifted him up, and he body-surfed around the room.

No wait. I’m mixing it up with something else. Never mind.

Thank yer.

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