funranium: (Default)

Protip: When you decide to spout off in a bar about how stupid you think a person/group/department is, you should chose a venue closer to your home turf than theirs.

And now the story.

A co-worker and I decided to conduct the final phase of our workday at Beckett's, a pub style bar close to the office.  I find that a collegial atmosphere in the presence of decent music and a pint of 1554 inspires much more productive thought in the field of radiation safety.  We're have a decent chat about the lay of the land and cunning plans for how to fix some of the errors of old, when a horde of people wandered in talking loudly in order to be heard over each other.  Classic researcher pay-attention-to-me-my-research-penis-is-bigger-than-yours increasing volume shouting.

We were about to move to another place in the bar, when I sushsed my co-worker in order to listen to a story being told which was sufficiently interesting to the horde for the yelling to die down.  It was being told in the "aren't these people idiots?" tone of voice and cadence (I know it well since I seem to use it often).  The keywords of "tritium" and "dose" were what got my attention.

He was talking about a tritium contaminated piece of land at Lawrence Berkeley Nat'l Laboratory and the interactions he'd had with various people regarding the contamination.  He'd had members of the public who wanted to talk about the ethical quality of tritium, with the implication that tritium contamination in the soil that came from medicine was good tritium but contamination as a result of research was bad tritium.  I sympathize with coping with that kind ignorance and emotion applied to things.

But then he went a step too far.

Spouting Off Idiot: "Of course, they let goats graze there.  You know what happens next?  The guys from EH&S actually collect the goat urine and test it."
Other Person: "Why do they do that?"
SOI: "Why does EH&S do anything?  They've got nothing better to do."

I put down my pint a bit loudly on the bar.  Reached in my wallet and took out a business card.  I then walked over, extended my hand, introduced myself, and offered my card.

Me: "Hi, I'm Phil.  I do radiation safety for EH&S on campus."
*crowd gets rather quiet and backs away from the two of us*
SOI: "Uh..hi."
Me: "Do have any idea what the Superfund cleanup requirements and sampling protocols are for LBL?"
SOI: "No."
Me: "Did it occur to you that the goats have been put there on purpose to collect bioaccumulation data on tritium?"
*SOI says nothing*
Me: "Perhaps you'd like to learn a bit more about it so you can speak on the topic more intelligently to your colleagues here.  You got a business card?  I'd be happy to send the folks from EH&S up at LBL your way to fill you in."
SOI: "Sorry, man."
Me: "No need to apologize to me."
*Phil returns to his drink at the bar*

Conversation was somewhat subdued after that and the party moved upstairs.  I'd killed the everyone is stupid but us buzz.
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: (Boozles)
I apologize at the outset for not having photographic evidence of what follows.  While we all were [livejournal.com profile] waltzingmatthea 's dancing monkeys, none of us thought of photodocumentation.  I, being as old as I am, can be forgiven for forgetting this MySpace memory maker oversight.  We lacked, as the man in Fear & Loathing says, "TOTAL COVERAGE!!!"

So, I had two unopened copies of Dance Dance Revolution and a dancepad that had never been used.  When this was pointed out in combination with the Broughton Alcohol Archive, Drunk Drunk Revolution was born.  We chose to do a handicapping feedback style drinking game, where the winner takes a shot theoretically making them less capable in the following round.  This, in my circle of friends, is known as "taking a Kenny".  That requires some explanation from a camping trip to Crater Lake, OR (other information about that trip may be found here)...
The Origin of Kennys )

DRUNK DRUNK REVOLUTION LAB REPORT )
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".

funranium: (USAP)
I just picked up the Twin Peaks gold box, which is what dredges the story up from the depths of memory.

Mark the Science Electrician, Patty the Cargo Mistress, and I tried to organize a Lynch-A-Thon over the course of several weekends during the summer.  This didn't work out well since the only day off during the summer is Sunday and people generally decided to devote that to drinking (or the recovery from).  Understandably, it ended up being just the three of us in the Summer Camp Smoking Lounge.

Oh the poor smokers of Pole.  They only had two indoor places to hide and both are gone now.  The new elevated station is decidedly non-smoking.  There had been plans for a smoking lounge but they were changed.  If you want a smoke now, it's out into the wastes for you.

I really can't do justice to the windowless, thick point sharpie marker graffiti'd, place where furniture came to die that this was.  Every time you sat down, you were enveloped in a fog of ash and cigaratte funk.  The only thing you could ever find left in the bar was a bottle of Jack Daniels but there were never any shot glasses.  The profane scribbles on the wall spoke to a heritage of five decades of drunken, surly construction workers and Navy enlisted men.  Once upon a time, it had been the Last Chance Saloon, its facade somehow constructed from crates.  Truly, it was heaven second only to Club 90 South.  I long to be seated behind the bar there with my feet propped up on the cooler still....

A little after 3am, after the the last of my victims passed out or staggered home, I packed away my portable bar and the three of us went over to the smoking lounge to watch the pilot of Twin Peaks which had just arrived in the mail for Mark.  He had shipped his complete VHS set to himself two months before leaving for Pole, making a total transit time of four months before it came off the plane in Antarctica.  After finishing the pilot, I dug into my portable bar and brought out the bottle of Hapsburg absinthe that had been smuggled to me from New Zealand by the pilots.  I figured that the green fairy was the only way to cope with Senor Lynch after nearly a decade without watching the show.  Mark and Patty agreed. 

After a glass each, we figured what the hell, we can watch the next two and it'll be time for breakfast.

After four episodes, and a few more glasses, we decided that alcohol metabolized to sugar just like all other food which meant, basically, that we were having breakfast already.  (I do not claim that this was good reasoning)

Eventually, we had watched it all including 'Fire Walk With Me', had drank an entire bottle of absinthe between the three of us, and hadn't eaten in 24 hours nor slept in 48.  We were, understandably, a little bit loopy when we finally emerged into the never-ending daylight glare of Antarctic summer.  When I turned around to look back at he entrance of the smoking lounge, door still open, it seemed an inviting gateway to infinite darkness.

That was when we decided to rename it The Black Lodge.  Shame they tore it town 4 years ago.  Probably still in trash boxes waiting to be shipped out.
funranium: (Snidely Doright)
Somewhere in southern Oregon along I-5, I stopped at rest stop to take care of a Mighty Need.

I do not keep my hair in a ponytail while driving because that interferes with the headrest and eventual leads to neck pain.  So I always wear it down.

Anyway, I'm standing there admiring the tasteful grafitti above the urinal when a father and his young son, age 4 tops, come in.  The kid shout-whispers "There's a girl in OUR bathroom!"

Dad answers, after a short pause, "No, that's a boy, Timmy."

Timmy: "But he has long hair!"
Dad: "Some boys have long hair."
T: "But why?"
D: "Because they want to."
T: "Can I have long hair."
D: "No."
T: "Oh...why is it red?"
D: "Some people have red hair.  Like your friend Billy."
T: "Billy's hair isn't like his.  His looks shiny...like a penny."
D: "Maybe he dyed it that color."

I heard the tailing off can't...not...finish...this...sentence in the father voice when he said this.

T: "You can make your hair different colors?!?!  Can I have...green hair?"
D: "No."
T: "But I wanna have green hair..." *BEGIN WHINING*

I left the bathroom at that point.  I had expanded a child's horizons greatly merely by existing and taking a whiz at the right time.
funranium: (Attention!)
You are the denizen of a squalid corner in a developing world country. You find a metal tube filled with a metallic powder that glows blue dribbling out of it (after you've punched a hole in it of course). Would you: 

A) Find it so beautiful that you decide that you should use it to make jewelry for your significant other. 
B) Give into your child's pleas to play fingerpaints on the floor with the pretty, pretty "blue". 
C) Consider this amazing stuff to be a gift from the Lord Jesus which is best used as a glowing cross shaped tattoo on your arm in His honor. 
D) Believe this glow to be as spooky as ghost pirates and take it to your local shaman/hounan/faith healer of choice. 
E) Sell it for chump change and buy dinner with the proceeds with no profits leftover.

,[profile] twistedcat, begin considering now what to do if someone brings you something as spooky as ghost pirates.


December 2012

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