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The black hole up the road

October 24, 2007

Global warming is taking the rap for everything from fires in San Diego to tsunamis in Indonesia, but so far, no one has cited it as the leading cause of inefficiency at the UPS sorting facility in Kent, Washington.

Of course, organizational inefficiency is not idiosyncratic, so it is unlikely that it will be attributed to global warming. More likely, Kent has been subsumed into a black hole and will return none the worse but for a significant increase in its specific gravity. I doubt Kent has even been missed. But NASA should know that there is a black hole operating within 20 miles of Seattle.

Like most black hole discoveries, my discovery of the black hole that ate Kent was inferential, rather than observed. Kent’s magnitude is probably well into positive double digits (the greater the magnitude, the dimmer the stellar object appears). But I inferred the astonishingly proximate black hole  simply by calculating the difference between the date of arrival of a package at the warehouse and the package’s ETA to my home 20 miles away.

The difference was five days. According to UPS tracking information, the package arrived at the Kent warehouse on October 21st (a Sunday, oddly), and is scheduled for delivery to my home October 26th. So clearly, the only logical explanation is that Kent has actually been transported several parsecs, something a black hole conceivably could accomplish fairly handily.

If neither global warming nor a black hole in Kent, Washington is responsible for the duration of a parcel’s five-day stay in a Kent waystation, then clearly that leaves acts of terrorism, George W. Bush himself, Richard B. Cheney himself, a deployment of noose-wielding mutant ninja turtles, or something equally unimaginative.

  1. heidi permalink
    October 24, 2007 3:16 pm

    You’re hysterical. I mean, you make me hysterical. I’m having hysterics.

  2. October 24, 2007 3:20 pm

    Don’t worry, Heidi. It’s nowhere near you. And at the rate it’s traveling, it will probably get to you via Alpha Cygni.

  3. October 24, 2007 5:09 pm

    Kent is probably a gravitational singularity with an event horizon. No light can escape. Happily, at least for postal customers, most packages are not light. They therefore eventually escape.

  4. October 24, 2007 5:12 pm

    Ah, escape for packages, and containment of Kent–that is so encouraging!

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