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.


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...


funranium: (Lazy)
So, here's your pro tip for the day:

When someone asks you what you think of it round here (that being West Texas), the correct answer is not, "It reminds me a lot of Bakersfield and the Lost Hills."

Some people take that as a dirty damn slander.  I too would be upset if someone compared my hometown to Bakersfield, but having been to both places I think this is a very honest comparison, physically speaking.  Both are flat, featureless expanses full of brown cotton plants, oil derricks, windfarms, and large pickup trucks. 

Now if I had said "The people around here remind me a lot of Bakersfield's", then I think someone would be justified in calling me out for a duel.  While I saw more than my fair share of toothless mutants, none of them expressed racist sentiments nor proudly displayed white power tats.  I cannot say the same for Bakersfield.

It is good to be back in California but I already miss the BBQ.
funranium: (Lazy)
Today's Texas oddity revolves around a table at Allen Family Style Meals.

When I hear the term "family style" in relation to restaurants, I am inclined to think of places like TGI Friday's and Applebees.  Wholesome places with fried foods for the whole family.  This is not what family style means here it seems.  At Allen's, it is something akin to a German hofbrau long table where you just take a seat at a table, any table, and then pass around the bowls of food coming out of the kitchen in a never ending stream.  It's sort of like a buffet that comes to you.

Foods served included: fried chicken, roast beef, creamed corn, green beans, turnip greens, okra, sweet potatoes, german potato salad, cole slaw, biscuits 'n' gravy, and a peach cobbler so sweet it would send a diabetic into shock by looking at it.

Our group that was doing training at Ludlum Instruments included two fine Army gents from the Aberdeen Proving Grounds.  Across from them, a giant slab of Texan in his late 50s sat down and started a conversation with them because they looked like "good ground pounders" whereas he was retired Air Force.  He got to talking about the WASP Museum here in Sweetwater, which is to say the Women Airforce Service Pilots.  I found this interesting as this was a bit of history I didn't know. 

As he got up to leave, he gave a wink to the Army guys and told them with a perverse chortle, "Be sure to visit the museum now, ya hear? hur hur hur"

We all got the impression that he was trying to give his military brethren a lead on the local cathouse, but we were confused by the implication.  Was he implying unwholesome things about the WASPs or perhaps that the museum was the front for a brothel?  Maybe there is a kink going on for this man I don't want to know about.

I will never know.

But I can report the Whataburger is populated by mutants, oil worker meth addicts, and hopeless greasy high school students.

Also, 1.5MW windmills are fucking huge.  Twenty goddamn story windmills.  I want one along with the royalties one entails.

funranium: (Lazy)
Since I was a small child, I remember women being amazed by my hair and driven to compliment and/or touch it.  From ages 3-8, actively fled from the little old ladies in supermarkets because I hated it so much.  I got more relaxed about it as time went on and, in general, came to enjoy the uniqueness of my metallic looking hair.  On the occasions when standing out was a detriment, like professors asking questions in class, I made do.

That said, it comes as no surprise that many of the women I've met in Sweetwater have been driven to comment on my hair.  The strange thing that almost all of those that commented added this little prefacing statement:

"It feels funny/weird/strange to say this to a man..."

I gather Texas conditioning has left them women not used to either long hair or pretty hair, or both, on men.  I must admit I see a lot of bald men around rocking it Stone Cold Steve Austin style.  
funranium: (Default)
This needs to be committed to posterity while it is still fresh in my mind.

SCENE: Our Hero, Phil, is seated at the bar of the closest consumption establishment within walking distance.  He is dressed in shorts, sandals, t-shirt and wearing his long red hair in its typical ponytail.  There is a pint of beer in front of him and he is waiting for his cheeseburger.

Enter Belligerent Drunk in Camo who sits to Phil's rightPhil cannot help but notice the enormity of the man's belt buckle and the cowboy hat with linked silver Texases hatband.

Belligerent Drunk in Camo:  What brings you to Sweetwater, 'cause you certainly ain't from round here?
Phil:  Here doing a training class for work.
BDC:  Who you work for?
P:  UC Berkeley.
BDC:  BERKELEY!?!?!!  I shoulda known...

BDC launches into a rant about goddamn hippies, fuckin' queers, and strangely enough, vegans, who he seems to hold a special hate for above the other two though all three are obviously connected.

BDC:  That's what I think at least.  Sure as fuck glad I ain't from there like you.  I'd probably be shooting people in the streets.
P:  Oh good god, no.  I don't live in Berkeley; I live in Livermore.

The clouds of anger depart BDC's face.  It seems he's done some work in Livermore up at the windfarms in Altamont Pass and now works down here on the big wind turbines outside of Abilene.

BDC:  Sorry, buddy.  You shoulda said you were from Livermore off the bat.  That may be one of the few bastions of Real America left in California.
P:  Don't mention it.
BDC:  I mean, looking like you do...
P:  That's alright.  I've met any number of people dressed like cowboys that have turned out to be flaming homos.  Can't judge a book by its cover, eh?

BDC turns purple, decides not to deck Our Hero, and storms out of the bar.  Bartender, who has been watching and listening to all this, decides this may be the most hilarious thing he's seen in months.  He gives Phil a free pint.


funranium: (Lazy)
It is 2am Central and I just arrived in my room in Sweetwater, TX.  Why does this city, and the whole stretch of I-20 once you get out of Abilene, smell like mercaptin (the odorizer that makes natural gas smell like something)?  I kept waiting for something to explode the whole time I was singing along with Rocky Horror for that stretch of highway in the dead of Texas night.

Dallas-Fort Worth...fuck you very much.  As an airport and a city you have entirely lived up to my low expectations.  You managed to convey everything I dislike about southern California while simultaneously incorporating the bits of Florida I can't stand too.  Bravo.

At least there will be BBQ ribs sometime tomorrow.  Hopefully my nose will go dead to the smell of a gas leak by then.

It is now time to crash and achieve with coffee on 4hrs sleep while playing with radiation detection instruments.

December 2012

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