funranium: (Duck 'n' Cover)

Cross-posted from Funranium Labs

My old wonderful curmudgeon of a boss from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the man who gave me a not so gentle kick and made it possible to be a health physicist, has just moved into hospice care. He said, and I quote, “You’re too damn smart to spend the rest of your life swinging a meter. Get your degree and start telling guys like me what to do.” As if I’d dare tell him what to do without asking his opinion first; it’s a damn fool of an officer that doesn’t listen to the sergeant. Bill is similarly too damn smart to have spent his life swinging a meter but found his joy in being a cantankerous smartass, which is part of why he was made my boss (quote: “He’s an ass who drives people crazy, but he’s a smart ass. You two should get along perfectly.”)

We spent an awful lot of his smoke breaks listening to his stories of the Navy and decades gone by at LLNL. I did my best to absorb them all and I became a font of institutional knowledge that convinced people that I’d been working there longer than I’d been alive. It is time to share my favorite of his stories, “The Tale of the Dolphins", to honor Mr. Shea. This is a story of Navy traditions, drinking, and attempted drowning in Hawaii. Admittedly, saying "Navy traditions", "drinking", and "attempted drowning" in the same sentence is thrice redundant.

Bill was a submariner in the 70s, at the height of the prison inmate enlisted men/frat house officer Navy at the same time that Admiral Rickover’s Nuclear Navy was really coming into its own. He arrived in Pearl Harbor, fresh from Nuclear Power School to be assigned to his boat. As he approached his boat there was a large group of men punching one solitary seaman in the chest, right up until the moment one man picked him up and threw him overboard into the harbor. When Bill saw this he not-quite-quietly said, "Aww man, why did you go and do that?"

The EXTREMEMLY LARGE Chief of the Boat, the man that did the tossing, says "And why shouldn't I?" in an EXTREMELY LARGE manner to Bill.

Bill shook his head in disappointment, "You tossed him in the harbor. He's gonna leave a fucking ring around the boat we'll have to clean off before we leave." It is important to remember that the Navy area of Pearl Harbor was a goddamn toxic cesspit with untreated sewage at this time. If you’ve been to Pearl recently and think it’s still a goddamn toxic cesspit, just know that it’s much better now. To suggest that the seaman was filthier than Pearl Habor itself...

The COB squints at Bill's nametag. "Shea. I'm gonna remember you, Shea."

Old Style Enlisted Submariner Badge (courtesy of the US Navy)

Bill had walked aboard in the middle of a "dolphin" ceremony where a newly minted submariner is granted their pin with the dolphins on it that denotes that they have successfully completed their training on all the major functional areas of the submarine and, therefore, more useful than mere ballast. When Bill got his dolphins several months later, they threw him overboard twice. Oh yes, the Chief remembered him.

Oh, I forgot. The punching? That was the lucky new submariner's team punching his pin into his chest without postbacks. For Bill, when the pin was first presented, it was at a bar. It was shown to the recipient, but then quickly taken away. A water pitcher was found. Everyone in the bar poured what was left of their drinks into it. The barmat was wrung out to fill the pitcher. The dolphin pin was then dropped in and Bill was told to chug and come up with the dolphins in his teeth. Immediate vomiting would have been considered unlucky, so Bill had to make it at least through the next game of darts before a strategic chunder was approved.

There you go, The Tale of the Dolphins. If you have a tale of your time in the nuclear Navy you’d like me share with him when I go visit in the next couple weeks, I’m always happy to learn a new story. And I know he enjoys when I spin him a fine yarn.

funranium: (Default)
So, last night we were discussing bioassay techniques in my radiation safety class.

My fellow teacher, after explaining fecal dosimetry techniques, declared that no one, not the subject providing the sample, not the dosimetrist who has to process it, certainly not the rest of the lab staff, nor even the building neighbors like it when you have to do fecal samples.
 
I begged to disagree. I clearly remember an occasion that a world renowned health physicist loudly declared in my presence "I LOVE FECAL SAMPLES!"
 
There was then a three beat pause...
 
And he corrected himself, declaring somewhat less loudly, "I love the numbers I get from fecal samples."

Once again, I love making sure lessons hit home and stick for life with memorable vignettes like this to hang the information on. I'm just sad no one took video of my Rubbin' My Ass On Uranium dance to demonstrate proper dosimeter badge usage.
funranium: (Default)

Cross-posted from Funranium Labs.

If you are in Las Vegas, go to the Atomic Testing Museum. As much fun as gambling and debauchery are, make the time to head out to UNLV and visit. Getting a chance to visit the Trinity Test Site or one of the rare tours of the Nevada Test Site (NTS) is once in a lifetime event for most non-weapons complex employees, but this museum is there every day. Give yourself at least three hours if you really want to take the time to read everything they've put on display. And if any of the NTS retirees who are now docents are there, sit down and listen. It is as simple as that. Make the time as if you were listening to a WWII vet talking about landing in Normandy or Okinawa.

 

Cut for the sake of your Friends Page )

 

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)
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)
This is a problem that has been vexing be for a while, but came up again in conversation with [livejournal.com 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 [livejournal.com 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.

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.
funranium: (Duck 'n' Cover)
More than a few friends sent this story from CNN my way with a modicum of panic and hope that I could explain things a bit more. 

Now that I am teaching radiation safety at a local community college in addition to my day job, it has been made very, very clear to me:
  1. What little the average person knows about radiation has mostly come from movies and 30 second news blurbs.
  2. The students that came to my class know how little they know and lay it squarely at the feet of shitty science-ignorant media reporting.
To a reporter acquaintance, I said to his shamed face "Science reporting would have had to have been informed reporting before it could have been slanted.  Most of what I read comes across as opinion piece at best.  This article definitely would have received an F if I got it as a student paper."

I think the highlight of inconsistency in this story is the statement in paragraph 2 "...authorities discovered the Uranium 238, known as yellowcake, in a garage..." versus the paragraph 13 "...will perform an expert analysis of the seized uranium to establish the enrichment percentage and the country of origin".  Paragraph 9  "...undercover policemen acquired less than one gram of the substance and sent it to the United States for analysis, which confirmed that it was uranium 238", if true means paragraph 13 is unnecessary and this whole story belongs in the Those Dumb Crooks section of the paper.

I Explain Why They're Idiots In More Detail )

It's hard enough to convey chemistry to people.  When you try to tell them that the entire Periodic Table of the Elements is only one axis on the Chart of the Nuclides (the axis of # of protons vs. the axis of # of neutrons) so you can build all the isotopes, their eyes go funny.
funranium: (Default)
I have a piece of diagnostic x-ray equipment known as the RTI Electronics Barracuda MPD.  It is the Swiss Army knife of diagnostic x-ray testing equipment.  Of course, being able to do everything it has many functions that I have never explored.  Today, I found a way to do the filtration test on it.  This takes a while so the Swedish manufacturer decided to give some pleasant 8-bit music while it was running the test.

MY GODDAMN METER STARTED PLAYING EUROPE'S "THE FINAL COUNTDOWN"!!!

My mind is blown and I love this instrument.  I think I'm gonna go run the filtration check again right now!
funranium: (Science Diet)
To explain what the hell I was talking about the other day with the my creation of the word "nuclearche", let's fill you in on the whole story.

[livejournal.com profile] robyngoodfelloe found this article regarding the oddity of the Dry Valleys near McMurdo in Antarctica.  I would like to bring your attention about two thirds of the way down to the picture of the Most Important Seal Carcass EVAR.  "Why is this most important seal carcass", I hear you ask, "Do you have the brain worms again?"  No, I don't but let me explain myself.  It is so for two reasons:

1) It is a good example of the danger of doing science and not questioning your assumptions. 
2) It is used as a basis of support for Young Earth Creationism (YEC) that is less shaky than the idiocy of carbon dating dinosaur bones and I want you to be able to call bullshit on it.

DISCLAIMER: To people I have given this rant to in person, I have squared away my numbers.  I got several of them wrong in off the cuff conversation due to the rounding and order of magnitude errors of the brain.  As a physicist, getting it within plus or minus an order of magnitude is normally good enough.  Not this time.

First, a quick review of the basis of carbon dating for those that don't know it... 

More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About Carbon Dating )
funranium: (Rad Worker)

So, a few of you had questions for me about this story. I feel it will save some time to answer them here. Take the time to read the article first before enjoying my rant.

First, the title. The title of this article should have been something closer to the title of my post. Yes, all the words they chose are factually accurate, they are just very imprecisely used. Three Mile Island (TMI) has all manner of sources of radiation around...should the people of Harrisburg be concerned about the Deadly Radiations that TMI is emanating at them? Why are they cutting pipes at TMI? Are they trying to cause leaks to kill us all with Deadly Radiations? Definitely an eyecatching title. (there was a silent "...douchebags" at the end of that sentence)

Second, thank you for reminding us that Three Mile Island Reactor 2 (TMI-2) suffered a meltdown in 1979. I'm sure we'd all forgotten. The meltdown had fuckall to do with this. Actually, I take that back. The only reason this story is being reported is that it happened at TMI which, in general, is the only named reactor most Americans recognize other than Chernobyl. This particular kind of personnel contamination event happens with somewhat disturbing regularity every time a reactor outage happens all over the world, but you haven't heard about them have you? If I told you something like this happened at San Onofre, unless you live in San Diego, you'd probably ask me "What's a San Onofre?" But Three Mile Island, that you know and invokes and instant panic response, gaining readership thusly.

Okay, I know all of you really want to know is what actually happened. This is all supposition, but it is somewhat educated:

1) TMI-1 was idled for regularly scheduled maintenace AKA "an outage". Like any other power plant, nuclear power plants need cleaning and maintenance too, just slightly different operations. The main goal of this outage was to replace the steam generators...you know the big honking turbines.

2) One of the other regular maintenance operations is removing the limescale from the cooling lines. Just like your showerhead builds up the crusties if you have hard water, so too do the cooling lines. Unfortunately, the limescale due to dissolved particulate in the water in a nuclear reactor has been in a nuclear reactor. Thus, it is radioactive due to neutron activation. This is why we do our best to keep the cooling water in reactors as clean/distilled as possible and recirculate it. City water is waaaaay too full of mineral content to want to use for cooling. This is what they were cutting into the cooling lines to do.

3) Cooling lines are closed loop systems of some of the thickest goddamn pipes you have ever seen. You have to cut into them because they don't want even the slightest possibility of a leak at some gasket somewhere, so its all solid construction. Air handling systems are part of the integrated design because they were built with this future maintenance operation in mind.

4) The actual removal of the limescale is usually done by blasting the pipe interior with CO2 beads. Pipes as thick as these take a long time to cool down. If you are impatient about letting the pipe cool down, because every minute you delay is a minute 850MW is not on the grid, then you start throwing dry ice at a hot thing and you get a lot of CO2 gas...enough to overpressurize the air handling system filter. The overpressurized filters then burp particulate which will then crap up the workers where the filter exhaust is...and the area radiation monitor (ARM). If there is more radioactive particulate than you're allowed to breathe constantly in a 8 hour workday, then the alarm goes off.

What happens to the workers next? Well, they get decon'd. Then they likely have to do a urinalysis bioassay to see if they've had an uptake. If they have, their committed lifetime dose due to that uptake is noted in their medical records.

Comments? Questions?

ADDITIONAL: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission is interested, but not overly concerned, because the contamination for incidents like this is localized in a room or two, never got to the outside environment, is easily cleaned, but you still have to report the event to the NRC. It is NOT because the NRC is in the pocket of the nuclear power industry or because the NRC has wildly inaqequate safety margins for what they consider "concerning". No, they are not trying to sweep this under the rug. The NRC is one of the more diligent and capable bits the bureaucracy has, though it is a bit understaffed in my opinion.

funranium: (Rad Worker)
Scene: Phil and Tech are working on the instrument calibration station.  They have wheeled out the 40mCi and 4mCi Cs-137 sources to work with, both of which are still stored in their heavy lead containers (AKA "pigs").

Tech: So, do you want me to handle the sources or do you want me handle the meters?
Phil: I would never deprive you of the opportunity to wrangle the rads.  You're on tong duty.
T: Alright!  Need to work on my hormesis for today! *rubs hands together with glee*
*without missing a beat* P: Your mom is a hormesis.
Tech's head slumps like a puppet with cut strings.
T: I can't believe I just got yermom'd.  It has been YEARS.  This means war.

And thus, It Is On. 

Your vocabulary word for today is hormesis.  Please use it in a sentence on an unsuspecting person today.
funranium: (Didn't Hurt)
I am going to go out on a limb here and assume that you all may be aware of certain consumer safety concerns regarding toys made in China.  Specifically, that toys that conveniently fit in toddler mouths are loaded with lead.  While lead paint is deliciously sweet, testing for lead had generally been a prohibitively expensive bit of chemistry for the average concerned inner city mother living in a decrepit lead loaded building.

No more!  Now a quick X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) analysis can be performed by bringing a hand held instrument similar to this up to the toy's surface and pulling the trigger.  You get a quick no muss, no fuss answer.  And because it is hand held, battery powered and running at a comparatively low peak beam voltage it is intrinsically safe, right?

Wrong.



The bad part is the I KNOW that the hacker community is going to start getting a hold of these things on craigslist and ebay soon, before they're more stringently regulated, if they haven't already.  It wouldn't take all that much work to seriously deviate these instruments from their original analytical purpose.

ADDENDUM: While I have described this machine in dire circumstance, it is a description of the worst case scenario of drunken frat boys with just enough technical knowledge to be very dangerous.  Normal operation for this unit is absolutely safe, which is why no one had an particular interest in regulating it.  This unit, and the many questionable QA knockoffs of it, are awesome pieces of technology that bring laboratory grade analytical technique to every corner of the world.  Unfortunately, I have to plan for the failure mode of hooting idiots.  My job is to impede the forces of natural selection.  Pity me.
funranium: (Lazy)
Some people know the fire and electrical codes inside and out.  I swear to booze that there's this one guy at LLNL who is the goddamn Cement Listener and can tell where subsidence is going to occur and what's been poured with bad concrete mix through carpeting.  While I may know a thing or two about radiation and nuclear weapons, my true gift seems to lie in walking into empty rooms and figuring out what it had been previously used for and where to find the fuck ups.  This makes house hunting with me fun too.

Sleuthing The Remains Of Science Gone Wild )

It's not all knowing what all the equipment does.  Most of it is understanding people, particularly what happens when there's not enough time, money, and/or interest to do things right.

funranium: (Duck 'n' Cover)
Once upon a time, long ago in the reign of Carter, in a far off magical kingdom known as San Onofre, there was a nuclear reactor.  It was beautiful reactor on the sea with a tsunami wall a ways off from the beach with guard towers on it, home to The Big Guys With Guns.  On the bluff above the beach, was Richard Nixon's ranch.  In a strange fit of populism quite at odds with his other elitism and restrictiveness, Nixon demanded the beach remain open to the public despite the security threat during his presidency and it stayed that way afterward.  Perhaps he wanted to show that the power plant was safe by letting sunbathers be there despite the threat to his person.  Perhaps he wanted a good killing zone with no cover for the pinkos and surfers.  We'll never know.

As everyone knows, where there are reactors you get NRC inspectors.  This is the story of a young inspector, let's call him Bob, who was far too diligent for his own good.

You Have To Read The Story Now After Looking At The Punchline Below )

Eventually, they filled the beach back in with fresh sand.  Thirty years later, they still talk about the NRC inspector that "molested the seagull".

Fuck Yeah!

Nov. 29th, 2008 12:31 am
funranium: (Rad Worker)
Just received notification from the American Board of Health Physics.  That test I took in Pittsburgh back in July, the Certified Health Physicist Exam Part I...I passed.

Now, three more years of professional practice before I am allowed to take the much more difficult Part II.  At that point, I will be an internationally certified Master of Radiation.  Tremble, mortals.

Glorious!

Nov. 21st, 2008 11:46 am
funranium: (Duck 'n' Cover)
Two bits of radioactive good news:

1) I determined that I didn't have an uptake of Cs-137 from the cracked sealed source at Ludlum.
2) I did such a good job wrangling special nuclear material here at UCB that not only did we not get a fine, but we got complimented on the quality of work that the current incarnation of Radiation Safety is doing.

Go me!
funranium: (Butt)
When you are in the field of radiation safety, you'd think that your day would revolve around a very narrow niche of safety that makes your activities very predictable, even when things go horribly wrong.

WRONG!

That's because the field of radiation safety means that you could potentially be doing anything...but with radiation at the same time.

This is why I get to play with 2L of my own urine tomorrow.  I get to take a 1mL sample from a 24hr average (read: a big bottle o' whiz), add scintillation cocktail, and load that sample into the liquid scintillation counter to see if I've had a Cs-137 uptake.

I should count my blessings that I don't have to evaporate the sample first to do it on the other counter because that is smelly.

Why would I have had a Cs-137 uptake you might ask?  I'll let you read the somewhat sanitized NRC report (or watch the video clip where there is a brief glimpse of me surveying myself behind the glass door; I'm the less fat guy wearing Tevas on the wrong day) regarding the place I was visiting in Texas last week.  I swear I had nothing to do with it, I was just there, man.  It's a good thing I was too.  While they are manufacturers of excellent instrumentation, they don't have a lot of experience actually using it.  Should've charged for my services, but that's not what a Good Samaritan does.

That's what a master's degree will get you, kids.  A chance to play, scientifically, with your own urine.  There are some health physicists out there who do bioassays like this all day, everyday...

BE COOL, STAY IN SCHOOL!

funranium: (Duck 'n' Cover)
I got to play with the UCPD bomb squad today as I checked out their toys and methodologies for gremlins.  Did you know the University had a bomb squad?  Neither did I, but it makes some sense when I think about it considering that it's Berkeley.

A highlight from the adventure -

*Our intrepid heroes have set up the portable x-ray unit in an equipment room deep underground lit by harsh fluorescent light.  Phil sets up the electronic dosimeter 30" from the aperture of the unit and returns to the Officer's side behind the cinderblock wall.  Phil is holding the ion chamber he has just told the officer he would be putting with the dosimeter to do measurements with.*

Officer:  Hey, weren't you supposed to leave that thing in there?
Phil *holding the ion chamber at arm's length to the doorway*:  Actually, I thought I'd see if there was going to be any dose rate where we're standing first while that thing is running.
*The Officer looks down at the trigger he is holding and then around the doorway to the x-ray unit on the floor*
Officer:  That's a damn good idea!  Why hasn't anyone ever done that during surveys with me before?
Phil:  I reckon they liked taking dose more than they liked you.
*The Officer looks at me startled and then starts laughing.*
Officer:  I can't believe you just said that.  You're an asshole, but you're my kind of asshole.  You're alright, man.  One would think your momma would've taught you not to mouth off to people with guns though.
Phil:  I've had two assault rifles trained on my head for an hour as I've done surveys before.  I gave those guys crap too but I definitely didn't make any sudden movements.

*Our players continue with and complete the survey.  Exeunt all.*


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