Friday, February 09, 2007

COLUMN: Fake Pee

Technology has caused me to devolve.

Ever since I got my hi-def TV at Christmas, I've become part of the furniture. All I want to do is sit... and stare. Outside my window, people whizz by. People with lives. People with an agenda. My agenda consists of making sure I don't lose the remote control within the cushions of my sofa.

I'm not a couch potato. I'm a couch rock. Potatoes have potential. They can grow into potato trees, or bushes, or whatever they do. I wouldn't know - the Home & Garden Network isn't available in hi-def yet. Which brings me to my one complaint about this captivating world of modern television:

The selection. As a good Mediacom junkie, I've got digital cable with all the 20-kajillion channels. But once you've had a taste of the good stuff - all 1080 pixels of hi-definition greatness - digital cable becomes child's play. The problem is, there are only TEN hi-definition channels to choose from. The 4 networks, ESPN, HBO, and some other random stuff. Mostly stuff I could care less about. But in hi-def, even the boring stuff is awfully pretty, which is why I keep on sitting and keep on staring.

And I'm getting smarter, too. See, one of the hi-def channels offered in town is Discovery HD. Finally, an excuse to become cultured! No more roller derbies or "Pants-Off Dance-Off" for me. Yes, thanks to Discovery HD and the knowledge that pours out of that channel, I'll soon be the hit at wine-tasting parties. I'll be the one providing the droll anecdotes at the Outing Club. I will become... learned. (The TWO-syllable kind of learned. Lear-ned. Fancy.)

With that ambition in mind, my friend Jason and I sat down the other night for a little high culture and historical analysis courtesy Discovery HD. The show? Well, I forget the title, but it was something akin to, "The 100 Most Awesomely Brilliant Scientific Discoveries of All Time, Ever."

This was it. The exact moment my sophistication would begin. I sat and pondered during the opening commercial. What would I soon be learning? What knowledge would this show impart on me? With what could I wow the folks at the water cooler tomorrow? The possibilities were limitless. The 100 greatest discoveries of all time? Nuclear fission! The theory of relativity! The wheel! I was at the edge of my educational seat.

Then the first discovery was unveiled. A scientific marvel beyond words. A discovery that would rock the foundations of our world. An advance in science that would certainly help out mankind... or at help fans of the Grateful Dead procure gainful employment for years to come.

That's right -- we tuned in just in time for the great scientific discovery of... synthetic urea. No joke. And in case you're slow, urea is a nice way of saying, umm, the letter after O. Stop giggling, this is science.

Stunningly, it turns out that in a lab back in the year 18-whenever, a scientist created synthetic, umm, urine. Even more stunningly, this is considered one of the 100 Most Awesomely Brilliant Scientific Discoveries of All Time, Ever. Apparantly it was the first time that a naturally existing substance had been created by Man. Call me crazy, but I'm a man, and all I need to create it is a tall glass of water and about an hour. But that's beside the point.

A discovery of this magnitude begs several questions, chief among them: Why? Why devote resources to the creation of THAT? Was there a shortage back then? Then I became lear-ned. It turns out that the discovery of said synthetic urea happened in the lab ACCIDENTALLY.

Accidentally? What were they TRYING to make? "Heeey, this isn't Mello-Yello!"

Still, we remained resolute in our quest for knowledge. Chuckles were stifled. We were now cultured, refined, distinguished gentlemen, and no synthetic urea would stop us, no sir.

Until, of course, the show revealed that the inventor of synthetic urea was one Dr. Gay Lussoc. And yes, the last name's pronounced as comically as you could possibly imagine. That's when I made my own Awesomely Brilliant Scientific Discovery: Snorting Pepsi out of your nose hurts. I started laughing. Jason started laughing. Class was over.

That's right. One guy's silly name turned us from cultured students to snickering 10-year-olds in a second flat. We laughed... and laughed... and then turned the channel to some movie with dudes shooting at other dudes.

So I am not lear-ned. I am, in fact, immature and goofy. And I'm kinda okay with that. Life's too short for refinement. As for Dr. Gay Lussoc, he went on to develop the system for measuring alcohol content in fluid that today we call "proof." Which kinda makes sense, because if I was going down in history as Gay Lussoc the Urine-Maker, I'd probably be hitting the bottle, too.


Wendy said...

OW! Sprite thru the nose feels no better... LMAO! I know - I should have known better than to read your column while eating or drinking, especially after seeing the title...

Anonymous said...

How old was the scientist when he discovered created pee in the lab? Hell, I've been making it since day one.