Monday, March 3, 2008

Snakes on a Brain

(Note: I realize that many people have extreme fears of reptiles. If this applies to you, please skip this article!)

Last week, I took a little break after making substantial headway on one of my latest tasks at work. The excellent Mark Morford had a new column, so I surfed over to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Web site. As I enjoyed Mark’s latest musings, a title in the “most read” box got my attention:

New threat to our way of life: giant pythons


Here’s America’s real threat. Forget the tanking economy, disappearing glaciers, and terrorist cells. Oh yeah, and forget my work. A new cause celebre had commandeered my thought processes, especially with this quote from a government geologist:

"We have not yet identified something that would stop their spreading to the Bay Area."

Did I mention that the giant pythons currently reside in the Everglades? You know, in Florida, diagonally across the country from San Francisco?

Naturally, I’m creeped out by the story. But forget that. The logistics of potential migration of giant pythons to northern California fascinated me. By my underestimation, I spent the next several minutes on my employer’s dime trying to figure out how the giant pythons would get to the Bay Area. Obviously, they wouldn’t take I-10 to the 101 because they can’t drive. And they don’t have identification, so forget about flying. (Plus, it’s been done before.) Amtrak now requires ID, so the train’s out, too.

Or suppose the giant pythons wanted to go it alone. How would they cross the Rockies? They lack the necessary hands, feet, or paws for scaling the mountains.

This story was too important for me to keep it to myself, so I shared it two guys I work with. Not surprisingly, H. made some silly analogy about men being pythons and women being rattlesnakes. Citing a line from the article, I actually agreed with him:

Lifestyle: When young, the pythons spend much of their time in trees. In adulthood, their weight makes tree-climbing too difficult.

Next, I mentioned to S. that perhaps the military could consider drafting the giant pythons as a secret weapon. S. claimed that my idea wouldn’t work because it lacks the element of surprise. To which I remarked:

“You wouldn’t be surprised if a giant python came after you?”

When I went out at lunchtime, I reflected on my question to S. What would I do if confronted by the beasts? First of all, I’d scream like a little girl. And I’d run, of course. But the shoes I was wearing weren’t conducive to escaping from giant pythons. I could perhaps kick off my shoes, then run into a building and take the stairs to the highest floor. That’s the best option I could think of. I’m quite proud of my plan because I’m now prepared for what seems like the inevitable.

Back in the office, all thoughts of giant pythons slithered from my head. A new assignment and an upcoming conference call fortunately brought my focus back to work. I’m lucky that I got in gear so quickly, because on other days, I’d need a giant python chasing me to do some work.

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