Friday, February 09, 2007

Catching Up

So my brother is doing well and has made arrangements to have everything cleared up. He has to serve a few weekends but he's been there before so no big deal. Mom is very relieved. As am I, but still not ready for contact.

Things have been way busy lately. Not sure if I mentioned it before but we bought a 55" HD television a couple months ago. This was followed by new livingroom furniture (I think he was tired of my bitching). Then I needed lamps (of course!!). And decided I wanted to paint. Well, we got that started when I decided to have some people over to watch a Senators game, in HD, on the big screen.

So then it was panic time to get everything done before company. Which we did, and, I had the get together this week as planned (hubby had to be in Pennsylvania - we really hate that job of his). It was great!! Definitely need to do this again. And definitely need to take a break with buying furniture for a while!!!

So earlier this year, I got a new car. A 2006 Chev Cobalt... like this one, only black with darker tint...

I was planning to add a cold air intake, headers and a performance exhaust when I heard about the new Camaro at the Detroit Auto Show.

Well holy crap!

At first I heard they were coming out in 2011. But they're actually planning to start in 2009!! That's SOON. And!! AND!!! its got a 400hp V8!!

The reason I'm so excited is that Camaro is my all time favourite car. My first two cars were Camaros. So, this is my next vehicle - hopefully in 2009, and it had better come in black.

By then, this year most likely, hubby will have his truck - so we'll trade in the Cobalt.

What else...

Work is great. I've got 3 big projects on the go. I'm doing literature reviews on ethanol fuel, and N2O emissions - these will probably be written up for a journal (omg I'll be published!) and I'm also working with data from locomotive emissions testing we did last year. Currently our techs are in Montreal doing another round so there'll be 2 reports. I also help manage a research funding program for which my boss is the leader. There's pretty regular work out of it and since year-end is coming, there will be lots of reporting to do.

A day doesn't go by without my learning something new. And I've been here long enough now that I'm able to apply my knowledge to problems without needing guidance. Well, some of them anyways. I never thought I'd have a job doing complex math and chemistry!

University has really paid off.

I'm reading some interesting books right now so I expect to have one of those good old opinion posts. Like a good little atheist.

TTFN (as Tigger would say)

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The past just bit me on the ass...

It never seems to matter how much you have on your plate, it just keeps getting piled on.

This is a tough one to keep brief. But I need to get it off my chest.

One of my brothers is an addict. Right now, a recovering addict. My Mom called this evening to tell me he's been arrested. This happened at his girlfriend's house, and of course, she doesn't know very much about his past.

Here's a wee bit of history. He was charged in an accident that happened about 15 years ago. At the time he was using drugs quite heavily but seemed to be keeping his life together. At least it appeared that way. He was to pay a $2000 fine and do community service. Well, as this progressed, he got so heavily into drugs that he was borrowing money from everyone he could find to "pay the fine" - which never got paid. Follow?

He's burned every bridge he's ever had. Four, maybe five, years later, he got picked up by the police because there was a warrant issued for non-payment. At that time, I was going through my own hell. I was unable to work, hardly able to leave the house, and very fragile. He'd been around to see me, introduce friends, and was always on the verge of money, or a job, or whatever, can I have $20 for smokes, I'll pay you back Friday. He was into everyone for thousands because we were always trying to get him back on his feet.

Well, my phone rang, it was him, in jail, crying, telling me I need to bring $2000 to get him out. I didn't have two dimes to rub together. So he had to serve 30 days (or 60, I don't remember). He was terrified, saying that there were guys in the general population that he'd ripped off that were going to kill him - he spent the time in protective custody. My friend and I went to his place to get some of his stuff because he and his room mate were getting evicted and he'd have lost everything. His everything was a pile of boxes and garbage bags, with everything from dirty dishes to family heirlooms. I can't even begin to describe it. We took what we could, what looked important or valuable, and discovered pawn slips, including one for a ring of my father's that he'd inherited. I paid to get that back from the pawnshop. He called, and begged, and lied, to the point where I had to stop taking his calls. I can't put into words what it felt like to say no to the charges hearing him say please take my call. All these years later, it still makes me cry.

Ten years have gone by now. In that time, he's been through rehab 4 times, been homeless, overdosed, back in jail. Imagine going through ten years of this - for him, its been hell and he's half-dead now because of it. For my family, he completely fragmented us.

My oldest brother hasn't spoken to him for I can't remember how long. That was partly due to his pawning a rifle that belonged to my Dad (sound familiar?). He gave it as collateral to my brother for a loan. My brother took it to be stored with our uncle. And he went to our uncle, lied to get it, saying he was going to the range, and pawned it instead. No one had any idea this had happened until one of my brother's friends saw the rifle for sale in the pawn shop. He had to buy it to get it back.

Three years ago, after more episodes than I can count (picking him up in an ice storm and taking him to the hospital because he said he was suicidal, calling police, hospitals and morgues trying to find him, visiting him in rehab, middle of the night come-get-me calls because someone was 'trying to kill him' - which was paranoid delusions from overdosing, dropping off money and clothes to the homeless shelter for him...) I got a call from a drug dealer, looking for me to pay my brother's debt. He'd lied and connived as usual, taken a bunch of people for a bunch of money and drugs, and then when they started wanting payment, he split. Only these were really bad people, and he'd told them all about his sister, lied again saying I was well off when I'd really just graduated university and didn't even have a job, and of course, let them all have my address and phone number. So I got threatened, and told not to call the police, asked "don't you want to help him?" when I couldn't have even if I'd wanted to. And at the time, we thought he was clean and working.

So that did it. I couldn't do it anymore. I told him never to contact me again, he didn't have a sister. He put my life on the line. He'd gone too far.

That was February, 2004. Since then we've moved, changed our number. He has no idea where to find me.

I've been feeling like maybe it was time to see him. He's been clean a long time, has a great girlfriend, and is doing all the right things (he talks to my Mom, she tells me). So we're back to the now, and all I can think is oh god not again. I don't know what any of this is about. It could be as simple as a fine not paid - but of course, he'd said that was all done with - court proceedings where we never really quite understood what was happening.

This is my big brother, who looked after me, looked out for me, and still talks about me all the time. His girlfriend is going to see him tomorrow when he appears in court, and depending on the reason for the warrant, will decide if she helps him, or walks away. And then I guess I'll do the same.

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Nuclear Question

Recently, over on Pete's site, the subject of nuclear power came up with regard to terrorism. It got me (us?) thinking about the debate over its use.

Several years ago at university I wrote a paper on the basics of nuclear energy. It included information on the structure of atoms, and radioactivity, and also a description of nuclear reactors designed and built here in Canada. I'm a firm believer that this is a great alternative to coal and other fossil fuel burning power generation souces. There has even been an extremely safe, viable, disposal method developed for depleted materials, and yet people are still terrified.

Anyway, in the interest of education, I'd thought I'd put up here some of the information I pulled together on reactors and such.

A nuclear reactor is a device in which a fission chain reaction can be initiated, maintained, and controlled to produce heat. Its essential components are fissionable fuel, moderator, shielding, control rods, and coolant. This paper will focus on Canadian deuterium-uranium (CANDU) reactors.

An atom's nucleus can be split apart by nuclear fission. When this is done, a tremendous amount of energy is released. The energy is both heat and light energy. This energy, when let out slowly, can be harnessed to generate electricity.

A CANDU nuclear power plant uses natural uranium (0.7% U-235, unenriched) as fissionable fuel. It is processed into tiny pellets that are loaded into rods that are then placed in bundles in the power plant's reactor. Inside the reactor, the uranium atoms are bombarded with neutrons at the right energy level and split apart in a controlled, continuous fission reaction thus releasing energy. Approximately 200 MeV is released by the decay of one Uranium-235 atom. This energy is used to boil water in the core of the reactor.

The bundles are placed in several hundred pressure tubes which penetrate the reactor vessel. A moderator of heavy water (deuterium) fills the reactor vessel and acts as a coolant. In order to keep the uranium from overheating, control rods containing cadmium are raised and lowered into the bundle as needed. Light water can also be introduced into the core to act as a neutron absorber.

This heavy water from around the nuclear core is sent through a series of pipes to another section of the plant where it heats light water to make steam. The steam in turn powers a turbine to generate electricity. The steam is then condensed and placed in a cooling tower until the water is at a temperature where it can be used again.

The safety systems of the CANDU reactor take into account human error, equipment failure and natural risks such as earthquakes. In the event that an accident should occur, CANDU reactors are designed to contain radioactive emissions within reactor buildings. There has never been an accident in a CANDU reactor where a worker has received radiation exposure which required medical treatment.

In the event of an emergency in a CANDU reactor, the first thing which happens is that the reactor is shut down. This is accomplished by dropping the control rods completely into the reactor. If the rods cannot be inserted, a system quickly injects gadolinium (64Gd) into the moderator.

If the cooling system ruptures and coolant is lost, valves will close to isolate the intact system and light water from storage tanks is injected into the ruptured system. The water is recovered from the bottom of the reactor, passes through the heat exchange system, and is injected once again into the ruptured system. Since there are independent cooling systems in the reactor, chance of a coolant loss from both at the same time is minimal. Since CANDU reactors are designed with such a large amount of pressure tubes, a failure of the pressure vessel is not possible. If all the coolant was lost and the emergency core cooling system failed then the heavy water moderator would carry off enough heat to prevent major melting.

The structure containing the reactor and its components is made of stressed concrete with a plastic liner. It also includes a spray system and air coolers for reducing the pressure in the building.

Spent nuclear fuel is kept at the individual nuclear plants. It is stored underwater or dry in concrete canisters. Water keeps the fuel bundles cool and absorbs the energy from the bundle, providing a radiation shield. The used fuel can be stored under water for long periods of time, or it can be transferred to dry concrete storage canisters on site. According to Atomic Energy of Canada Limited (AECL) there is enough space at each nuclear plant to store all of its used fuel for the operating life of the reactor.

(You can find here information on a (very sound, safe) proposed method of waste disposal.)

Nuclear reactors do release radioactive material into the environment, however, at a very low rate. The radiation from reactors can add 0.01 mSv per year to the average human exposure of approximately 2 mSv. It would take 10,000 mSv in a short_term dose to cause immediate illness and subsequent death within a few weeks. A short term dose of 1,000 mSv would probably cause (temporary) illness such as nausea and decreased white blood cell count, but not death. In comparison, in order to receive even mild radiation sickness, the average human requires a whole-body dose of 300 mSv. [Toon, 363] This demonstrates that nuclear power generates only a fraction of the amount of radiation which could cause illness and even quite an amount less than humans are normally exposed to from day to day.

As well, nuclear reactors do not release carbon dioxide into the environment as do coal and hydrocarbon burning facilities. This is a huge advantage with the current need to reduce green house gas emissions, smog, and pollution.

Anyway... that's enough. Everyone knows the "against" arguements, I just have a serious pet peeve with people who form opinions that aren't educated ones. Don't argue unless you know the facts. The risk from nuclear waste is negligible comapred to the current risk of climate change. Nuclear power is a way to eliminate enormous amounts of GHG emissions. If we don't curb that, its not going to matter if a little radiation leaks out of the Canadian Shield in a few hundred thousand years because there'll be no one here to care.

Friday, January 05, 2007

in the spirit...

I’m not feeling very political these days. I’m pleased with yesterday’s Cabinet shuffle. Especially the Ambrose/Baird switch. I’m wearing my red ribbon for the troops. And I still think Bush/Blair et al should be tried for war crimes.


Work is great. Interesting and productive. I’m thinking having a job I love with awesome people puts me in a minority. I’m lucky. And grateful.

I’ve taken a pic of one of my latest tattoos. I need to keep in the spirit of my blog right? This one is really special. Its in memory of my Dad, who, for those of you that don’t already know, died when I was 17.

The words are in my Dad’s handwriting – taken from a letter he wrote my Mom before he had his first surgery (he had cancer). The lion is the Leo from a gold charm I wear, my Dad left it to me when he died – we’re both Leos.

It doesn’t get any more unique or personal than this.

Friday, December 29, 2006


Wow... 9 days. Haven't been here for a while.

I've been too busy spending money. I LOVE Christmas money. Actually, got some new furniture too. Have to stop now though and pay for some of this stuff...

Was 1 year on the 26th since I quit smoking. I'm very proud of myself. Two years for hubby on the 28th. Wow, we've saved a lot of money.

Got some more tattoos... (after all, this is Boo's Tattoos right?) Haven't downloaded from the camera yet though. I've actually booked another for a week and a half from now. I'm on a roll.

Finished the first part of my friend's sleeve tattoo - waiting for him to send me a scan so I can post it (if you're reading this dude, make with the scanner!!). It turned out really good. I can't wait to see it tattooed on his arm.

Anyone notice the similarity between where I'll wind up in hell and the result of my "seduction style" quiz? Just curious. I must be a horny bitch or something - LOL...

Alright. Bedtime. Have to be chipper for the furniture delivery tomorrow!! :) hahahaha

Tattoo pics coming soon... promise.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

I knew it!!!

The Dante's Inferno Test has banished you to the Second Level of Hell!

Second Level of Hell
You have come to a place mute of all light, where the wind bellows as the sea does in a tempest. This is the realm where the lustful spend eternity. Here, sinners are blown around endlessly by the unforgiving winds of unquenchable desire as punishment for their transgressions. The infernal hurricane that never rests hurtles the spirits onward in its rapine, whirling them round, and smiting, it molests them. You have betrayed reason at the behest of your appetite for pleasure, and so here you are doomed to remain. Cleopatra and Helen of Troy are two that share in your fate.

Here is how you matched up against all the levels:

Purgatory (Repenting Believers)Very Low
Level 1 - Limbo (Virtuous Non-Believers)Moderate
Level 2 (Lustful)Very High
Level 3 (Gluttonous)Low
Level 4 (Prodigal and Avaricious)Low
Level 5 (Wrathful and Gloomy)Moderate
Level 6 - The City of Dis (Heretics)Very High
Level 7 (Violent)Very High
Level 8- the Malebolge (Fraudulent, Malicious, Panderers)Moderate
Level 9 - Cocytus (Treacherous)Moderate

Take the Dante's Inferno Hell Test

Monday, December 11, 2006