All posts for the month January, 2014

I can connect to WordPress (obviously), but it won’t load the comments. I can’t comment, I can’t see comments (if there are any, I can’t tell). I might turn them off just to avoid confusion.

This isn’t the only extremely selective hole I’ve noticed in their internet filter. I can watch things on Netflix, but I can’t rate videos. I can view things on Amazon, but everything having to do with reviews is filtered. Also, on certain days, particular vowels seem to be censored. I haven’t been able to get into my Facebook or Twitter at all.

The common thread seems to be that communication channels, no matter how innocuous or narrowly purposed, they seem to be, are being blocked. Given this, maybe it’s more likely to be an oversight that I can update a blog at all, but since I’m not actually circumventing their filtering efforts I think I’m still cool.

This morning I had a blue barrel. It had a lightning bolt stamped on it. I’m really not sure what that means. Caution: electrically conductive? Keep away from electronics? I asked Collette if she knew what was in it, and she said, “electrical fluid”. I laughed, thinking about the old archaic model of energy-as-liquid, but she didn’t see the humor and she also didn’t elaborate on what she actually meant. I was too self-conscious to ask, especially since I had more barrels to move.

According to one of my co-workers (Dr. Collette Cruces, though I’ve noticed that no one else calls anyone below grade 7 “Dr.” even though I’m pretty sure we all have doctorates), Dr. Cranor is one of the leading voices in the field of n-dimensional phase shifts in n-dimensions. It’s not exactly what I was hoping to do with my degree, but looking on the bright side, maybe it would have been if I’d known anything about it. There’s something exciting about being part of a team that’s studying something so bleeding edge I’ve never even heard of it.

I’ll have to do my homework. I don’t want to be caught flat-footed when I’m called upon to do something more taxing (mentally, I mean) then carrying away barrels of toxic byproduct from the experiments. I don’t know exactly what’s in them, but the barrels seem to be color-coded: the green ones contain viscous green liquid and the red ones contain viscous red liquid. Actually, maybe the by-products themselves are color-coded. The red ones have a fire safety symbol stamped on them and the green ones have a poison symbol.

I guess that’s convenient? I mean, I know poison isn’t always or even usually a cartoonishly bright green, and the color of fire depends on the temperature and the composition of the fuel, but there are some pretty strong associations there. I wonder if they add something in the processing to make them those colors. That seems like an extreme step to take, but it wouldn’t be the most redundant safety rule I’ve ever seen.

I went to the firing range for the first time. The instructor there scanned my badge and then issued me a handgun. She showed me how to load it, and also how to break it down and clean and oil it. I didn’t even know you could break down a handgun, but apparently that’s a thing.

I wasn’t sure why she was teaching me how to take care of the thing, but I figured this was just like gun range etiquette. The equivalent of “be kind, rewind”, you know? But then after I’d finished shooting and I went to turn it back in, she told me it was my personal weapon. She wasn’t checking it out to me, she was assigning it to me.

So, now I have this pistol I have to be responsible for.

Okay, so I found out why I was the only one on the train this morning. It’s a little thing called “let’s fuck with the newbie”. You know, when they have us living on site and there’s nowhere to go out at night or anything the idea that the work day would start bright and early at 5 in the morning doesn’t sound that unreasonable. It doesn’t sound like my idea of fun, but I figured that working underground there wouldn’t be a lot of difference between 5 or 10 after a while.

But as Dr. Cranor pointed out when she showed up to open the lab four and a half hours later, if there’s no difference then there’s no reason to start at such an ungodly hour. I don’t think I made a great first impression, getting fooled like that. We’re all supposed to be smart here. Of course the dicks who set me up are supposed to be equally smart and they had the home field advantage on me, but the only thing worse than looking like a fool is looking like a fool and then whining about it. I don’t think complainers make it very far at Federated Para-Sciences.

When I took this job, I was excited. Not just because I’d been looking for something that would actually use my degree for so long, but because so few companies do pure research any more. Federated has a lot of government contracts (mostly military) but apparently most of what they do is research for research’s sake. At least that’s what the pitch they gave me said. I’d never heard of them. Apparently due to the classified nature of a lot of their work, their major advances that they’re responsible for sort of filter out indirectly. Like apparently it was a program here that was first responsible for the technology behind the compact fluorescent light.

Today, they do the kind of cutting edge stuff you wouldn’t even dream was being done, and if putting up with a few juvenile pranks is the worst thing I have to deal with in order to be a part of that, then so be it. I can handle that.

I can tell I’m going to have to do quite a bit of ladder-climbing before I’m actually involved in anything really exciting. I mean that literally. I had to climb so many ladders today, you wouldn’t believe it. A lot of time today was spent going over basic safety and security protocols, and then I was basically toting palettes, pushing carts, climbing around on catwalks, and throwing switches. This place is an OSHA nightmare. Obviously a lot of stuff was grandfathered in.

At the end of the day Dr. Cranor asked me to send her my shooting range stats and I had to tell her I had no idea what she was talking about. I knew there was a shooting range in the rec center, but shooting has never been my idea of recreation and I told her that. She told me that it wasn’t hers, either, but she still expects all of her research associates to log at least three hours a week there.

I don’t know what that’s about, but what the hell. I’ll have to find something to do with my evenings. After the mess I made of things today, anything that will improve my boss’s opinion of me is bound to be worth it.

I’m writing this on the train ride in. My living quarters are on site (everyone’s is) in what they call the dormitories, but like I said, this place is HUGE. In the dorms, they call this train line “Fred (Flintstone)’s Bus”, because you only need to ride it if you’re going to work in bedrock (Bedrock).

I’m choosing to interpret the fact that my phonepad lets me connect to my WordPress as a sign that blogging from the workplace is at least tacitly accepted. After all, they aren’t shy about clamping down on the things that they don’t want you to do here.

They wouldn’t put a payphone in the lounge if they didn’t want employees making phone calls, right? Same principle. Of course there isn’t a payphone in the lounge, or anywhere else that I’ve seen. But I think that just illustrates my point.

This is a really long train ride. The thing doesn’t make a lot of noise as it rumbles along, which I guess means it isn’t really “rumbling” per se. But at this speed I don’t know what else you would call it, really. Lumbering? I’ve had to stop a couple of times for big security doors to open. An automated cargo tram just went by. It seems like there has to be a more efficient way to get employees from the living quarters to their work places, especially since I seem to be the only person on the train this morning. I don’t know if that’s normal or not. It doesn’t seem normal.

Technically, I don’t start work until Monday, but I’ve been on campus (as they call it) for almost a week now. “Orientation” is pretty literal here. This place puts the “sprawling” in “sprawling secret quasi-military research base”, for real. We each have one of these little touch screen things that have a special nav app on them, but even with one of them it can be hard to find your way around. One wrong turn and suddenly you’re in a forgotten storage room with like three clips of ammo for a handgun, a battery, and a mop.

Seriously, that’s not even a made up example. That’s an actual room I found attached to the lab where I’m going to be working. I was looking for a single-occupancy bathroom, and I opened this door and it was mostly just empty boxes and metal shelves with a few miscellaneous machine parts on them. I would have closed the door, but something caught my eye: ┬áthree little magazines just sitting there on a folding table. Not even strewn, just sort of spaced there like the world’s saddest stall at a gun show.

Obviously at some point in the dusky past this storeroom was used for ammunition, but when it got cleaned out they just randomly left three clips of nine millimeter bullets behind, artfully arranged in a tableau with like a 50s atomic-age-chic 6-volt lantern battery. That thing was weirder than the bullets. It had like diodes or vacuum tubes or something coming out of the top, but there was also the positive and negative contacts and a little lightning bolt symbol on the side just in case there was any doubt it was a battery.

I would have loved to get a picture of the whole thing, but they don’t allow cameras. I can’t even have my own phone. The pads they give us have telephone functions and IM capabilities, but they only work on the internal network. That’s why I’m not quite sure what to call them. They’re not really big enough to be a pad, but not enough of a phone to be a smartphone.

Hey everyone. Well it finally happened. After ages and ages of searching, I’ve finally started a job. Actually I was hired six months ago but there was a ridiculous amount of training (on top of my degree) before I could begin and I was completely out of contact with the world for parts of it and I had to sign a bunch of bullshit non-disclosure forms that said I couldn’t talk about the rest of it. So sorry for keeping everyone worried that I still hadn’t found anything for all those of weeks, plus all the cryptic “something’s coming around the corner” statuses and posts that I’ve made everywhere.

To celebrate that I’m turning a corner in my life and starting a new chapter of my story I’ve decided to start a brand new blog. Well that and I’m pretty sure my new bosses have Googled my name six ways to Sunday, so I’ve kind of got to be on my best behavior on my old blog, my Facebook, and pretty much anything that has my name or face on it. Actually, I’m not sure I can even connect to those things from here. But anyway, even though the only people who will have any reason to read this are my friends and family, let’s keep my name out of the comments, okay? The last thing I need is to get written up or fired because something I said didn’t reflect the company’s core values or whatever.

To be completely technical all communications are supposed to be vetted by the communications department (i.e., the PR flacks) but I figure this is basically going to be 95% a personal blog and maybe 5% a work blog, just when I need to vent about something. But better safe than sorry, right? If this blog gets shut down because someone decides that I accidentally gave away some kind of super critical confidential privileged information that no one’s supposed to know, then I’ll be stuck under a million tons of rock under the Painted Desert with no real line to the outside world and nothing to do between streaming episodes of Torchwood and Dexter.