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March 26th, 2011

Six degrees

(One thing I like about Live Journal is that we are protected from attacks of the random Googlers by not using peoples' full real names, hence their absence in the following...)

So, on Thursday I met up with my friends D. and G. and their daughter S. We'd seen each other at Capricon last month, and D. had mentioned they were all going to Israel in March, via Rome; was there a chance they could visit me and the observatory? Our travel plans did indeed overlap, so I was happy to show them around.

At the last minute, they asked if they could be joined by an old family friend of G.'s who also works in Rome, whom I will call Father J. O'Typical. Sure, the more the merrier.

As soon as they stepped off the train in Albano, I realized who Fr. J. was. (Given his Typical Irish name and the fact that I can never recall names and faces together, it was no surprise that I hadn't caught on earlier.) He is in fact a fellow Jesuit whom I had met when I was doing my philosophy studies in Rogers Park low these 20 years ago. (Which is also when I met most of the Chicago fans I know, including D. and G.) The perfect small world triangle.

And in fact he's a good friend of at least two other Jesuits here at the observatory.

During the tour, it came out that a high school classmate of Fr. J. later went on to become a Big Shot at NASA. Even later, the name of said Big Shot finally emerged -- someone whom I had worked with (and at times against) during my stint as chair of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society, as he is the former, and current, head of the division that provides the grant money to most of the DPS membership to do our research.

Had I but known! Ah, the blackmail opportunities that were missed... I didn't even know that he'd been Jesuit educated.

On the other hand, that may have explained why he looked so nervous whenever I showed up wearing my collar.

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