“You prob shouldn´t stare into the camera when you take the picture–I mean… do you ever blink?”, I tell the writer.

“Well”, he replies as he smooths his hair back, “I want to get my good side.”

“Writer”, I reply as I adjust the aperature on the camera, “you´re not very good looking–you don´t have a good side.  Let´s just take a picture that shows that your hole did catch a penguin. Your hole building skills are top notch–but you prob shouldn´t try to pay your bills with your face.”

“That´s rude.”

“Someone needed to say it.”

“So are you going to take the picture?”

“Quiet writer”, I reply as I turn on the flash, “close your mouth–but leave it open a little and look intelligent.”

The writer puts his hand on his chin.

“You look constipated.”

“I want people to think that I´m intelligent.”

“Let it go–people are not thinking about that.  People are looking at you as a baseline by which they judge themselves–don´t be too good or you´ll make people feel insecure; don´t look too bad–then you´ll get the hero that tries to rescue you and fucks up everything.  Try to just be yourself.”

The writer points at the hole and smiles.

“That´s rather strange–your pose–but it works well.”

I hit record on the camera and the photo is taken.  I look at the camera and scroll through the settings.  I select preview and view the photo.

“You weren´t smiling”, I remark as I scan the photo, “it´s perfect.  Also, the penguin is poking his head out of the hole–you look accomplished– like very manly.”

“Thanks.”

“Yeah, sure”, I reply as I hit save on the camera and the file is transfered to the digitalmicrochip.

I pause; what data do we need?

“What do you want to do with the penguin?”, the writer asks as he looks at the captured animal.

“I want to understand how they handle disruptions in their normal routine–see how he is.  Does he look stressed? Stick your hand near his face to see if he bites you.”

“I´m not going to stick my hand in his face.”

“Well”, I reply as I turn my head to look at the penguin, “I´m not going to either, and I´m the boss–so I´m delegating that you have penguin behavior duty.”

The writer sticks his hand near the head of the penguin; the penguin doesn´t move.

“He seems calm”, I remark as I pull a notepad out of my back pocket.

The writer starts petting the top of the penguins head.

“I´m not paying you to make friends”, I reply as I turn my head down to the notepad and start writing the observations.

“Can I get him out of the hole, now?”

“Yeah, sure”, I reply as I turn my head to the penguin.

The writer grabs the wing of the penguin and pulls him out of the hole.  The penguin scuttles away.

“Did you learn what you needed to know?”, the writer asks as he turns his head to me.

“Yes and no”, I reply, “the scientific method says to look at what´s going on and make a hypothesis, consider your assumptions, and develop tests to see the validity of what you suspect.  In time, I think that we can have better data–but now we have a test and results and can start to look at what´s happening to determine how they really behave under diress.  In a tense situation, such as moving to a new planet, like we are proposing, how will they handle it–what do they do for coping skills?  What do they do when shit hits the fan? What is their fall back method for handling the difficulties that this change will inevitably cause–do they adapt?  Do they internalize the difficulties and feel a sense of insecurity, or do they externalize and lash out at others? It could be a penguin pandemic!”

“I think that they will do well.”

“That´s your observation based on one situation–keep that as an idea, not a conclusion.  Look at that as a starting point upon which the data, observation, evidence, will lead to a more definite answer–that´s a start, not an end.”

“Speaking of which, boss–are we done here, now?”

“Writer”, I reply as I turn and take a step towards the spacejet, “when it comes to penguin research–do we ever really finish the observations?”

Jamie Smith
therenegadeinc@gmail.com

It's all about the story, man.



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