Write a piece on the possible outcomes of the Zurich Premiership, they said. Simple, until it became apparent they were not willing to finance a trip to Washington DC. So without the help of NASA here goes...
The Premiership season reaches it denouement tomorrow afternoon with five teams still contemplating losing not just a night's sleep but something altogether more important - their status as an elite rugby club.
To an increasing degree London Irish, Leeds Tykes, Northampton Saints, Worcester Warriors and Harlequins all face the prospect of spending next year in the National One twilight having endured the topsiest of turvy seasons in living memory.
Not since Bristol and Bath were locked in final day relegation conundrum of the 2002-3 season has the race gone to the wire but, compared to tomorrow, the nuances that day were the mathematical equivalent of Key Stage One arithmetic.
Just two points separate 'Quins at the bottom from the Exiles in eighth position, Worcester and Northampton have got to play each other and the intangibles of bonus points make identifying a resolution as easy as untangling a plate of spaghetti with a paint brush. Nevertheless with league table and fixture list in hand, we'll give it a whirl.
Whose future is in whose hands?
That's easy. Everyone is responsible for their own destiny. Even though they are bottom if Harlequins beat Sale at home they should stay up. Victory will give them 41 points and a likely 11th place finish.
The only way a win would not be good enough is if Worcester and Northampton draw, earning two points, and each score four tries for an extra bonus. That would put Warriors 41 and Northampton 42 and Quins would still go down on a tiebreaker (games won). The only way they can ensure against that extremely unlikely eventuality is to win and score four tries themselves.
But if Harlequins lose they're down, aren't they?
Not necessarily. They could still get two points in defeat. One try bonus and another for losing by less than seven. That would give them 39 and if Worcester fail to take anything from Saints then the Warriors would finish bottom.
So who's got the best chance of winning their games?
Irish will fancy their chances of containing and therefore beating Newcastle Falcons but, on paper at least, Leeds and Quins have got much more difficult tasks. The Tykes have to travel to third placed Bath, who are one point ahead of the Londoners' opponents Sale.
Both are going for a top three finish, a spot in the Premiership semi-finals and an automatic Heineken Cup berth, so neither will be looking to lie down. The Worcester/ Northampton tie is intriguing. The winner will stay up, the loser might too.
What does the formbook say?
Suddenly the old adage about form being temporary and class permanent goes out of the window. It's the sides who've been winning who'll fancy it. That means Leeds, who've won their last three league matches and the Powergen Cup in recent weeks are flying as are Northampton who have taken the honours in four of their last five outings.
At the other end of the scale London Irish have only been victors once in five matches, 'Quins have lost their last three, including crucial battles with the Tykes, Exiles and Saints and Worcester have only beaten one of their last four opponents. Overall it's 'Quins who need to worry.
What are Worcester's chances of beating Northampton?
Their chances are vastly improved by the fact they are playing at home. They are a different side at Sixways, backed by a partisan crowd revelling in their first Premiership season.
Their record there is comparable with the best, having lost just once at home in the league since November 13. Worcester won the first meeting between the two sides at Franklin's Gardens with a heroic defensive display. Saints have returned home with the spoils three times this campaign.
Much will depend on the ability of Warriors' pack to dominate their opposite numbers and starve them of possession. It is a match Worcester should win.
Has anyone mentioned draws?
No-one. Probably because they are impossible to predict. But if a stalemate suits anyone, depending on what's happening at The Stoop, it could be Worcester and Northampton.
Two points would help both teams no end. There has been an increasing tendency to draws in recent years.
Three seasons ago there were five, six the following year and seven in 2003-4. So far in this campaign there have been six so what price a couple more?
Does any of this matter?
Despite the fact that they boast the biggest goalposts of any sport in the world, rugby union officials are dab hands at moving them.
There is a school of thought that suggests relegation could only happen to a couple of clubs, i.e. Worcester and Leeds and the prospect of Harlequins finishing bottom has sent a few pacemakers at Twickenham into overdrive. Their chief executive, head coach and teaboy par excellence, Mark Evans, has dispersed his toys far and wide about the prospect of visiting Otley next season. What would he make of Sharmans Cross Road?
The official line is that whoever finishes 12th will go down and that National One champions Bristol look to have satisfied all the entry criteria so 'Quins' shiny new stand could be 'packed' with Newbury fans come September.
Yes, but what will happen?
I was rather hoping we wouldn't get to this. Prediction time.
London Irish will beat Newcastle by seven, Leeds will get a loss bonus at Bath, Worcester prevail over Northampton by three, with Warriors' bound fly-half Shane Drahm missing a last minute penalty, and Harlequins get the roadmaps out after losing to Sale.
And for anyone who cares Leicester will finish top after denying Wasps in the final and Martin Johnson will get his hands on the Premiership trophy in his last game.