funranium: (Default)
This morning, before a suitable amount of coffee was consumed, I had to do a radiation safety presentation to a group of students at Nuclear Engineering. While we were waiting for everyone to show up, the professor and I were discussing the experiments the class were going to do with the students that were present. When we hit the x-ray fluorescence experiment and discussed how they were going to be identifying unknown materials for elemental composition, the professor whipped a rock out from his jacket pocket. It was a somewhat non-descript looking hunk of basalt.

Prof: "As some of you may know, I just returned from vacation in Tanzania and I got to climb to the top of Kilimanjaro. One of the samples we'll be looking at is this" *waves rock around* "to figure out what's in it."
Phil: "Ooo...the frustrated geologist is intrigued."

He passed the rock to the student on his left. When it got to me, I looked at it and asked, "How many people in here have taken a geology course?" One student and the professor raised their hands. I then asked, "Do either of you remember the rock identification guide and the qualities you test to make your ID?" The professor had a look of "huh?" while the student had the "crap, I used to know that".

Phil: "One of the methods for identification that is no longer in the rock guide is taste."
*I licked the rock to the shock of the class and mild disgust of the professor*
Phil: "Yup, that's East African Rise igneous. You can tell by the salty flavor due to the high sodium & potassium content of the shallow extensional zone magma source."
*The look of mild disgust from the professor turned to awe*
Professor: "Seriously? You can do that?"
Phil: "Yes, but don't do it with the minerals of California. We have an awful lot of borates, selenates, and arsenates courtesy of all of the marine melange deposits and evaporated lakes. There is a reason that Taste was removed from the rock guide."
Professor: "Remember that class, don't lick things unless you know they are okay for licking."
Phil: "Doubly so in a radiation lab."

The professor then high fived me.

Today was a great day in teaching.
funranium: (Default)
2010 Reading Log, In Chronological Order:

The Iron Hand of Mars (Completed 1/3/10)
After The Ice (still reading it from 2009)
Poseidon's Gold (Completed 1/12/10)
Last Act In Palmyra
On Intelligence
Expiration Date
funranium: (Default)
A shared space is everyone's responsibility.  When something goes wrong, it is thus everyone else's potential fault, but obviously not yours.  When everyone takes this attitude, it is no one's fault because everyone can prove, with plausible deniability, that it wasn't them.  Therefor, the person who the space actually belongs to gets stuck with all the problems because they've got the real estate in their name.

This is how you get Superfund sites.

Today was spent keeping the landlord of one of these shared spaces from falling into the Black Hole of No Responsibility.  I happily appropriated a new metaphor for him to operate his laboratory with: Pack It In, Pack It Out...Leave Only Data.  No chemicals or rad material are allowed to reside unattended in this lab anymore.  If it isn't in your hand walking in or out the door, it better be on a machine.
funranium: (Duck 'n' Cover)
NB: I held a DOE "Q" Clearance, which is the nuclear weapons secrets side of the house.  As I've since discovered, classified materials rules are somewhat less stringent outside of there.  I'm not sure whether I'm happy or disappointed about that.

No, I don't have an opinion on any of the stuff released so far because I haven't read any of it, nor do I intend to unless specifically ordered upon re-issuance of security clearance with requisite 'Need To Know".

"Why?" might you ask.  Because it was classified information.  In the United States, it is a crime to be unlawfully in possession of classified material.  The common defense of "Well, it was all publicly available information anyway" doesn't hold water in the face of that.  Which is why the classification control officers at LLNL are tearing their hair out as people say things like "Should I look at it here on secure networks, or should I wait until I go home to look at it?" The correct answer is, "Neither.  As the possessor of a security clearance, you should not be knowingly seeking out classified materials, regardless of the venue in which they are presented."

Now, why would this stop me, considering I don't have a security clearance?  Answer: because I might want to have a clearance again someday and this might be career limiting.

Also, current and former clearance holders are also known as Informed Individuals.  Because we have been privy to restricted information, we have the ability to confirm and debunk any or all of this information.  Of course, the act of doing this is also a security violation.  It is a Schroedinger's Cat problem where all of this is a disclosure, but it's not an actual crime until someone confirms that it's a disclosure of classified information, which is an crime too.

Even if we don't give a yea/nay on any given bit of information in the Wikileaks documents, the things we go look for as we inspect what has been revealed is informative in and of itself.  That's why people at the Lab want to go look at things, to research what has been divulged.  But the act of the search itself may constitute classified information.  Is your brain hurting yet?

I'm not going to address declarations that none of this should be classified or that "information should be free".  I can only address my personal desire to not go to jail.  Anyone who has ever held a security clearance before should consider this before going to peek.
funranium: (Science Diet)
 I may, perhaps, have done something rather foolish involving a very large Stein of Science, 4.3L of beer, and a pith helmet.  Because, as [ profile] warren_ellis says, LJ is run on steam pipes and rubber bands I must redirect you to the post I made over at Funranium Labs:

Rising To The Challenge - Using the 4.3L Stein of Science
My hand, wrist, and shoulder still hurt.
funranium: (Default)
I'm tired of arguing about the scanners now.  From now on my answer is going to be, "Yes, it will make your balls ignite and/or uterus fall out.  The TSA will hand remove them if you refuse the scanner.  Don't come near airports; they aren't safe."

The idiots have won.  They've exhausted my patience to teach.  Asshats.
funranium: (Duck 'n' Cover)
Gonna do this short and sweet, just hoping you'll trust me:
  1. No, you are not going to die of cancer.  It is safe unless you getting scanned more than 100000 times per year.  This is only likely to happen to the seriously bored TSA agents in East Bumfuck, MO.  
  2. Seriously, chill the fuck out.  I don't need to think of the children because THEY HAVE SKIN, just like you do.
  3. The unborn are just fine.  They get to use your skin.  Chill the fuck out.
  4. Yes, they will see your bits.  Please understand that your bits aren't that interesting.  If they are interesting, you've probably made them that way on purpose.
It is also annoying the shit out of me that they keep quoting the wrong dose limits.  The public dose above and beyond background is limited to 100mrem/yr of deep, penetrating whole body for members of the general public.  The scanners barely penetrate the dead layer of skin.  In this case the only exposure is to a single, rather radio-resistant organ: the skin.  Skin dose limits, by contrast, are 50,000mrem/yr.  Dose per scan is roughly .02mrem.  Please accept that THE DEADLY RADIATIONS are not going to get you and that this is preferable to getting The Grope.  Yes, it is fallible and easily evaded.  It is a very expensive prop in security theater that still requires thoughtful screeners to be useful.  No, I'm not thrilled about them.

I am spending far too much time fielding questions about this.  Don't even get me started on the radio/microwave toxicity fucknuts on the rise in San Francisco.  I can only make my withering glare for questions related to that work in person.
funranium: (Default)
Christmas is at hand and Herr Direktor Funranium is inclined to be most generous to you wonderful nutters who made [ profile] robyngoodfelloe  and i feel at home in Christchurch.  If there is interest, I would like to send a Case O' Caffeination your way.  Sadly, I cannot eat the full cost of this but I can toss a significant discount toward the person willing to place the order for KAOS if there are enough good homes for 12 bottles.

Drop me a line.
funranium: (Default)

It is not quite 10am. I have already voted, been to the post office, and just finished breakfast at Ikea.

This is my 35th birthday, but judging by activities so far it might be my 70th.

Fear not, it will perk up.

Posted via

funranium: (Default)
So, my name appeared in a Huffington Post article courtesy of a happy BBotE Test Subject.  The server is still pinging a bit as it cools down.  Funny thing is that a link from [ profile] warren_ellis and a tweet from [ profile] rstevens generates more traffic than the Huffington Post.  Go figure.
funranium: (Default)
This is a problem that has been vexing be for a while, but came up again in conversation with [ profile] twistedcat.

A while back, one of my lovely researchers in the Electrical Engineering group approached me with a desire to make his new cleanroom absolutely perfect.  He was shooting for a Class 100 certification and knew that having any paper in the lab was going to make him fail.  So he wanted to make all records in the lab entirely electronic, including the logbook of machine usage which is one of those regulatory required thingees. He was not going to let the logbook for one machine cause his entire two building floor cleanroom fail, so he was ready to fight.  Let's call him Bob.  The conversation went something like this:

Bob: I've got everything, training, access, job recharge logs, everything tied in electronically.  Use is already logged electronically so I can bill people, so why do I have to do a damn paper log?
Phil: Per the regulations, you have to maintain use logs of machine usage with user name, date, time, and technique factors.  Do you electronically log all of that?
B: No, but it easily could.
P: Okay, the next part is that your records have to be unalterable.  If there are changes, the changes also have to be logged.  This means part of your project analysis for radiation safety is that you have to provide the department's network security plan, specifically as it relates to this machine and the collected data.
B (looking a little deflated): Seriously?
P: And lastly there is the requirement for records retention.  Logbooks must be kept for 30 years after the termination of the license.  Seeing as how we've been playing with radioactive materials and machines for 60 years prior to the advent of the Atomic Energy Commission, I think it is safe to say the license won't be terminating any time soon.
B: So?
P: So, you are going to have to also provide your data management plan that will ensure the accessibility of your use logs for perpetuity.  My office just upgraded to Excel 2007, which means I can't talk to files I made the week before.  Your lab here is littered with equipment that MUST use an old 386 architecture computer for data capture and output to 3.5" floppies.  They just stopped making those!  How will your files be accessible in 10 years, or 25, or 200? 
I think there's probably a doctoral thesis or two in that.
B: I can't do electronic logs can I?
P: No, but you could use those nice cleanroom paper logs made of plastic they've been doing since the mid-70s.  Sorry to force you to be a Luddite.

Hard copy is great, but the problem it doesn't solve is translation of semantic drift.  As [ profile] twistedcat's father states:

"My bookshelves have copies of the Hebrew bible from more than 2,000 years ago, the Vulgate (Latin) from 1,600 years ago, several English versions from 400 years ago, several copies of Shakespeare's plays from that time.  A mere 30 years would include several items that are so new they still have their original dust covers.  If you want to store a file for 30, or 3,000, years. don't let Bill Gates any where near it -- he'll invent a new language every month and do his darndest to convince you to switch so that he can make more money.  The technology you want has been in use since Gutenberg about the year 1500."

Yes, he has those books on his shelf (admittedly current printings) and they have preserved wisdom from the ages but if he was handed the original, would he be able to read it?  Handed a ceramic wheel from Ur, would you assume you had a record of a government official or a part of a child's toy cart, etched for better traction?

This is a problem I've come across before.  The most current example is the WIPP in New Mexico where they are trying to properly communicate that this nuclear waste repository is a dangerous place, do not dig here until at least 12000AD.  I would like to point out how successful the Egyptian warnings to this effect were from keeping grave robbers out for the last 3000 years.  Their warnings were truly dire, but we assumed that is because there was something valuable worth having down there.

On the flip side, we would like our descendants from The Bold & Amazing Future to know where to dig in order to clean up our messes.  Heck, once you decide that nuclear power is the way to go, the WIPP becomes a mine for enriched uranium and actinides.
funranium: (Duck 'n' Cover)
I am to understand a bit of a write-up on Funranium Labs is about to hit the Huffington Post within the next 24-48hrs.  Don't mind me, I'll be duck 'n' covering over there in the corner waiting for the server to explode and dodging the shrapnel.

It was nice to get a warning at least.  [ profile] warren_ellis, take note: the rest of the world has taken a cue from your respect for server life.
funranium: (Sad)
I have mixed emotions about having spent an afternoon exploring and identifying the possessions of a dead man who was prone to accumulating somewhat dangerous detritus, much like me.  To make it more exciting, every time I went rummaging deep in a drawer I was half expecting a boobytrap.  I was actively checking for them, waiting for the thermite to go off at any moment.  The fact that we had discussed such boobytraps on many occasions made all the more a real possibility.

The only boobytraps I really encountered were gifts that I had given him and gifts he had planned for his wife and been conspiring with me to make.  Those were purely emotional and unintentional; all fingers & hair are intact even if composure took some hits.

An evening of "Priscilla: Queen of the Desert" and cocktails helped.

I miss you Erik.
funranium: (Default)
I have previously described some of Berkeley's Finest and their bathroom habits which making walking around downtown a fragrant surprise everyday (Berkeley motto: breathe shallow and watch where you step).  This morning, courtesy of an abnormally long crosswalk signal opposite of mine, I got the pleasure to really observe Unidread. 

Yes, I know it's not nice to call him that and I'm sure he does have a name.  If he does, I'm not entirely sure he knows it.  An attempt many years ago to reach whatever planet he is on resulted in a not quite audible mumble conversation with someone other than me.  The mumble was sort of like Foul Ol' Ron's from Discworld.  So, I'll stick by my name for him which is no longer accurate as his single, matted dreadlock was shorn by the paramedics when they picked him up back in March.

I'd be willing to guess that his vision is shot although it is hard to tell if he actually focuses on anything.  He's suffering arthritis which makes for a very slow, stiff legged pivot walk.  I also know that he's broken his foot at least once in the last five years and I seriously doubt it healed well. 

What this means is that he appears to walk very deliberately because any misjudged step could send him crashing down.  Except if you actually watch the path he walks, it is on a serious random walk that occasionally does complete loops.  I have no idea if there is an intended destination.  What it does look like is that he is avoiding invisible obstacles in addition to talking to the people that aren't there (although not with the same level of animated bantering half of a conversation that Crazy Mark Twain does).

It made me think that he is what a Marauder heading dangerously toward Quiet from the old Mage game would be like, viewed from the outside.  He is definitely the reason why I am listening to "Aqualung" right now, which makes me glad he lives here in the People's Republic of Berkeley for his sake.  With no mental health professionals handy to help him, the best he can hope for a place more pleasant than December's foggy freeze of England.  The SF Bay area is cold but there will be no ice clinging to his beard with freezing agony here.
funranium: (Stealing A Moment)
Once upon a time, over four years ago, [ profile] benchilada  wrote a wonderful story under the auspices of his FUCK WITH MY ART program.

I then wrote many more because I just couldn't stop fucking with his art.

After reading a whole bunch of them aloud last night, I think there may be more there.  I think it's probably time to discuss religion in the post-temporal era.

Because the clock in San Dimas is always running...
funranium: (Science Diet)
Just to cover all bases for maximum whorebaggery, there's only 3 weeks left on the "Oktoberfest" coupon code for  Oktberfest proper begins this Saturday, so if you want a Stein of Science and you're in Germany it's probably too late already.  However, the coupon continues through the end of Oktoberfest proper on October 4th.  Just because Oktoberfest ended doesn't mean Scientific Drinking does.

And yes, the coupon code works for Black Blood of the Earth too.

Here endeth the LJ whorebaggery.  Now, I have a new album from The Duke of Uke to go buy. *pimppimpimp*
funranium: (Default)
Let me start with this, zeppelin hangars are very large. 

Hangars 2 & 3

Hangar 1 from the far end of the air field

Many Pictures and Much Blathering )

In summation, it is sad to see many Big Science facilities barely used due to lack of funding and interest.  Of everywhere I went, the Supergun sees the most business.  All the other facilities I visited seem to be used as storage for files and equipment from "When We Did Stuff".  Oh, I'm told the computational areas see a great deal of action but eventually you have to make a model into reality and we don't seem to be doing that much anymore.

As [ profile] warren_ellis says, DO SOMETHING.
funranium: (Default)
Subject Line Explanation: I am too fat and out of shape to be scaling ladders to the top of a former zeppelin hangar.  Everything hurts today, including my brain.  This is not Hangar One Vodka's fault, it is instead Moffett Field's Hangar 2.

I will expand more upon this when my brain doesn't hurt so much.  In the meantime, a picture.

funranium: (Science Diet)
Cross-posted from Funranium Labs

Several days ago, Test Subject & Steinwielder Langford declared that he had created, and I quote, “the new most besterist drink ever with BBotE”.  I suspect he may have been hep’d up on goofballs at the time with that use/abuse of grammar.  His recipe:

  • 1/3 Cup BBotE (yes, slightly unhealthy amount), 1 Cup moo of choice (we made two batches, one with Fat Free and one with Low Fat – Both goodness), 1/4 block of Mexican Hot Chocolate, finely grated (available in your local Mexican market)
    …Bit o’ Mint (fresh or otherwise)
    Ice (small cubes work better)

    Melt Mexican Chocolate into Moo until dissolved. [You can modify this set and use a Mexican Hot Chocolate mix package if you prefer]

    After mixed, pour Choco-moo into blender. Add BBotE and Ice (aprox 1 cup).

    Blend until desired thickness is reached – we preferred a “thick shake” level, but the longer you blend it the thinner the mixture will become.

While this recipe is delicious, I couldn’t help but look at it and note that there is a distinct lack of alcohol.  The idea of a BBotE Mexican hot chocolate was tempting and the brain said that this flavor might be achieved with amaretto and tequila (in this case St. George Spirit’s Agua Azul Cristal “agave spirit”).  I was skeptical of my brain because it has thought things like this before and my tongue has strenuously disagreed.  Also, as long as I was breaking out the labware and going to be mixing anyway, my beloved Filthy Assistant suggested that I try to whip her up something with Drambuie, The Drink That Satisfies (says so on the label and everything).

NOTE: my girlfriend is part hummingbird with a sweet tooth that puts my pre-diagnosis preference for sweets to shame.  Seriously.  I’m off by orders of magnitude with respect to her.


The Recipes w/ Pics, Cut For Size )


Damn You LJ

Sep. 4th, 2010 09:51 am
funranium: (Default)
I had a good rant going about radiation education and MAN PLAY FIRE, OOK...until LJ ate it.

Too despondent to rebuild it.  Helping people building plausible radiogenic cancer arguments to get full benefits for their survivors is not fun research.  It is a titch early in the morning to be drinking yet.

Short Version: Ionizing Radiation is Promethean Fire.  Be an informed monkey before playing with the balefire.

Did I seriously make the Oktoberfest coupon for Funranium Labs through Oct 4th?  I suppose I have some BBotE decanting to do as well.

December 2012

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