United States Baker

There are things you can’t unsee. I don’t mean the walking in on your parents kind of sights. And I also don’t mean certain movies, such as Cop Out or MacGruber (two movies I had to stop watching after about 15-20 minutes least my brain melt; oh, Bruce, what were you thinking).

I mean things that, once you know they’re there, you can’t look at that same context ever again without seeing it.

This post was triggered by a, what I believe was a tongue-in-cheek, post on (if I recall correctly) io9. [The qualifications here come from not being able to find said post anywhere, even though I know I saw it this year. Even paging deep into Google results digs up nothing.]

That post was about how, once you know a constellation (or asterism), it’s hard to not see it when you look at that part of the night sky. Many people know the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper. Some are familiar with a nearby constellation, Cassiopeia (a big “W” in the sky). Since my northern night sky is above big city lights, these old friends are a bit washed out.

But to the south, away from the city, there are some other old friends, the most prominent of which is the constellation Orion (The Hunter), for me, the harbinger of winter.

(Orion only appears in the winter night sky here in the Midwest (of the USA).)

The Hunter’s left shoulder is represented by the star, Betelgeuse, a name known to Micheal Keaton fans as well as being the home of Ford Prefect of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fame.

The right shoulder star is another well-known name from science fiction: Rigel.

The Hunter has a belt (bonus points if you can name the three belt stars), and from the belt descends a… sword (although some astro-wags have suggested it could be something else entirely, which would put Orion in the same class as John Holmes).

What makes that waggish (wangish?) suggestion cute is that the… sword… is also where you find the famous Orion Nebula (cataloged as M42 and NGC 1976).

Why is that cute? Because the nebula is a stellar nursery; a place where new stars are born. So you see the connection (and if you don’t, I’m not going to explain it to you; ask your mother).

Orion is such a prominent constellation that, once you know it’s there, you can’t not see it. You look at the winter night sky, and bang, there he is: a pattern of stars named by some really ancient people, a meme that has permanently infected the minds of millions.

It’s vaguely like brain herpes. Once you’ve got the meme, only serious brain damage will remove it.

Which brings us back the point of this post: the Baker in the United States.

Now I warn you that once you see this, you may never be able to not see it. I’m going to give you a chance to not be infected (a blogging prophylactic, if you will). I would not want you to forever despise me for corrupting your view of the good old map of the United States.

Some of you may already know about this, and for those who don’t it’s possible that the mere hint of a description of what we’re about here might trigger your vision. For the latter group, if it’s already too late and you’re bummed, my sincere apologies. Welcome to the club. I was infected at a very early age, way back in grade school.

For those ready to infect their brains, just click on the USA map below:

Click… if you dare!

If you’re at all like me, good luck ever seeing a map of the USA and not seeing Mr. Baker! (Test yourself: do you see him now in the map above?)

And if you were wondering what the red thing in front of him is, why that’s his giant frying pan. All things considered, he may well be frying up some grits to go along with a nice tasty Hot Brown!

About Wyrd Smythe

The canonical fool on the hill watching the sunset and the rotation of the planet and thinking what he imagines are large thoughts. View all posts by Wyrd Smythe

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