Archive for the ‘work’ Tag

Work loos, stifling innovation   Leave a comment

Following a history of work loo stories (most recent, here), the urinals in the main lobby of our 10-year-old building (the huge cracks in the basement walls that leak copiously during heavy rain despite burial 15 feet below paved surfaces first appeared at least 8 years ago) have been marked “Out Of Order” for all but yesterday of the preceding 6 weeks.

 

The signage returned this morning.  Insult added to bladder injury came by way of the signs prohibiting an engineering remedy involving the sinks:

 

 

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Posted October 10, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Made Me Laugh, work

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William J Simonsick, Jr   Leave a comment

I was forwarding a job advert to a bunch of people for a postdoc position here in the lab and Bill Simonsick’s email bounced back. I did a search for an updated email and eventually stumbled across this FaceSpace Memorial Page. Awww, shit.

 

Some people I meet think I must be immortal for having survived far more trauma far too frequently to generally be believed; but, I could give you endless stories about how I found Bill indestructible. That makes his passing that much more unnerving … if he can die, where does that leave the rest of us?  Instead, I just have this for you:

In 1997, my PhD adviser took the research group to present their work at the ASMS Conference in Palm Springs. He left the flight bookings to me and the senior PhD student at the time and we found flights into Las Vegas the day before and the day after, rooms at Circus Circus for each of those bookend days, and a rental van for the week for less than other travel options.

As a result of these travel choices, I was standing in front of my poster on no sleep for the previous 3 days with some Chinese graduate student who misunderstood everything on the publication and babbling incoherent questions. I was on my best behaviour and patiently trying to explain that he had his head up his ass without saying it explicitly.

 

 

Across the herd of suits and ties and slightly more casual business attire I spotted a guy in flip-flops, dripping Bermuda shorts, a ragged tank top covered in the most rudimentary fashion with a Hawaiian shirt, and a couple of gigantic glasses of rum and Cokes — not highballs, but short and very wide diameter, wading pools of liquor. He spotted me at about the same time and ambled over in an idiosyncratic walk I would become very familiar with over the next 10 years or so.

He stepped in front of my inquisitor and, over his shoulder, said, “you can fuck off now. We’ve got shit to talk about.” Then, to me, he handed the drink in his right hand and then shook mine; “I’m Bill. Your boss told me you had some cool shit to see.” I was now madly in love with this man.

He reached for his extra beverage and I pivoted on my hips to protect my newly found refreshments.  “The fuck you call this? No backsies, bitch.”  I had assumed this glass was meant for me, anyway, because the other one had a little umbrella in it and, since I was “working” I needed the more professional looking vat of booze.

His grin at this was enormous. “Tell me what you got, here,” he demanded, pointing at my work (such as it was).  I started to go through the practiced presentation and he stopped me. “No. TELL me about it.” The resulting conversation swerved recklessly across a wide range of things we could do with small tweaks to the techniques we could each bring to the table.  Along the way, others tried to speak to one or the other of us and — if they met his criteria — he would include them for a while. At one point, he sent a student — who was working security at the conference and had told us we couldn’t be drinking in there — to get us refills; these appeared without charge about five minutes later.

“We should do more of this,” he suggested. “I’ll meet you in the hot tub after the Hospitality Suites close.” Over the next several years, I got most of my good ideas smoking and drinking in ASMS Convention hot tubs with our Bill.

Rest in peace, buddy.

Posted June 22, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Obits, work

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Crown, Charlton-on-Otmoor, Oxfordshire   Leave a comment

 

My boss held her annual barbecue at her house in Islip, Friday, and I haven’t attended a lab function in ages so felt a bit of pressure to go.  I’ve run to things there in the past (and from things, as well) and, having lived in Bicester a little over a year also had cleared most of the pubs-to-do already, years ago.  So, I decided to catch the train out and do a run to one of those rare pubs I HAVEN’T yet hit in the area, the Crown in Charlton.

 

 

As is my way, I got lost despite having good maps and clear skies.  At one point, a young deer bolted from the weeds and knocked me into some nettles; soon after that I was faced with the prospect of doubling back or fording a stream.  I soon spotted the church tower in Charlton and knew the pub must be close (across the street, in fact) and there I was able to wring out my soaked socks whilst listening to a chorus of retirees taking the piss out of each other.

 

Topics ranged from “On The Buses” to the general election the night before.  The five of them barely let the one speaking finish before the next one stuck his own 2p in:

“Hear, what was the name of Reg Varney’s sister in ‘On the Buses?'”
“Oh, I wish you hadn’t asked.”
“The ugly woman.”
“She wasn’t ugly she just wasn’t…”
“What wasn’t she?”
“Okay, so maybe she was ugly.”
“But, what’s her name?”
“Anna Karen.”
“No, that’s not it.”
Olive, it was.”
“Oh, I thought you meant her real name.”

Despite this Goon Show, I got swept up into the political conversation but deftly escaped for the picnic. Quite a nice house and worthy a second stop, certainly.

Spotted this eyeless bunny with a broken neck on the run to the barbecue:

Posted June 11, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Pubs

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Iron Duke   1 comment

 

Almost exactly a year ago I rode to Reading with one of the professors I work for/with/despite (strike through as appropriate). On the trip back to Oxford, he was telling me about this wild professor — John Albery — that preceded him and who, amongst quirks too numerous to review here, would demonstrate the enthalpy of solution with gin-tonics. Alcohol figured, as it should, prominently under his tutelage:

His first year chemistry tutorials usually (depending on the time of day) involved a glass of sherry which, by the end of the third year, had become a “White Lady” (gin, Cointreau and lemon juice). Research students graduated to “dry martinis of ludicrous proportions” and, as a “coup de grace”, at chemists’ dinners were often served with a lethal concoction known as “Iron Duke punch”.
–From John Albery’s obit in The Telegraph

 

 

 

The Iron Duke punch is named after the ship (HMS Iron Duke) that is named after Wellington and this may go some way towards explaining Albery’s preferred salutation, “Hello, Sailor.”

So now nearly a year later, my erstwhile leader has tracked down the original recipe for The Iron Duke. I suggested it might blunt the edge of some upcoming student talks and he gathered supplies forthwith and, the next day, appeared at my office with a sample of this brutish concoction. Not at all vile, it still rates somewhere between ghastly and dreadful. And, oddly moreish … I could drink this until the Iron Puke.

 

Posted April 27, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Booze, Recipes

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Lyme Bay Garden Mead   Leave a comment

lyme-bay-garden-mead

The day after I bottled the Winter Solstice 2016 Mead, I had scheduled a day after Burns’ Night lunch with some fellow offalteers from around the labs.  Two of them had just returned from a group retreat in Devon where they, when not brainstorming how to push back the frontiers of science, went on a winery tour.  From this, they brought me back this bottle of professionally made mead (unaware that I was making mead at all).  Hooray.  So, now I have the baseline of our immature mead tasted at bottling AND this bottle to tell us how it actually should mature.  Exciting.

And, intimidating.  This one is very crisp and clean and slightly sweet with a hint of fresh mint.  It would be great with a splash of club soda and, while I expect our run to mature to something like this, ours is much drier and may benefit from a shot of simple syrup along with that fizzy water spritz.  We’ll see.

For the next couple of days, though, this is our dessert beverage.  Yum.

 

Posted January 27, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Booze, work

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Colonel E. H. Taylor Small Batch   Leave a comment

taylor-small-batch-bourbonAt the end of a logistical note from a former visitor to the lab who was returning after a few years to gather some data to answer reviewers’ concerns, she asked a dangerous question: “Do you need anything from the States?”  At the end of my reply, I took a punt with, “No, nothing from the States, thanks.  I like decent bourbon, but I can get that here.”  Then, I hoped for the best.

And, very nearly the best came out of it: a bottle of Colonel EH Taylor Small Batch.  No complaints, mind, as a bottle of Evan Williams (even the green label) would have made me quite happy … I can GET decent bourbon here, but it costs a fortune (factoring in the exchange rate, I could buy more than 3 bottles of this in the States for what only 1 would cost here).

And, it IS remarkable booze.  Bottled in bond, 100 proof, and evokes wisteria, magnolias, kudzu, and the heat…the glorious, Southern heat.  I try not to review things that deserve a proper review.  Here is a lovely one if you really want to know what an expert thinks.

I, on the other hand, love to have something like this around for when a doubting visitor asks what I mean by ‘good’ bourbon. I can then hand them a glass, neat, and stammer over the words, “well, this one is all right…see what YOU think.”

Posted January 25, 2017 by Drunken Bunny in Booze, work

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Last year can fuck right off: 2016 by the numbers (mostly)   1 comment

2253-mile-asics-soles

Numbers, or so, listed in bold and underlined.

Everyone has shit to talk about 2016, and so do I; but, I’ll minimise that, here.  I finally sprang for two new pair of running shoes to replace the pair, featured in the photos here, that I picked up in Chattanooga in September 2015 and subsequently added 2253 running miles on before retiring them last weekend (with walking, as these were my usual day-to-day shoes, these had much closer to 4000 miles on them).

2253-mile-asics-top2253-mile-asics-toes

 

Over the Christmas break, we watched a shitload of TV and a bunch of really cheery movies (highly recommended of these are the drama Martha Marcy Mae Marlene and the documentary The Coming War With China.  To recover from those you might want to find Twenty Feet From Fame.  But, we also caught a bunch of shit tele and some old stuff.  In keeping with the theme of the year, we downloaded a collection of the Tonight Show (with Johnny Carson) and spent the entirety of each show playing the middle-age white person version of Jew-Not-A-Jew (aka the straight person’s version of Queer-Not-A-Queer) by pointing at each corpse we spotted on screen and saying, “DEAD.” “Bob Hope. DEAD.” “Joan Rivers! DEAD.” “Gary Shandling, DEAD.” (By the way, that’s Not A Jew, Jew, and a little of both).

2016-sgt-reapers-lonely-hearts

 

So, instead of the multitude of other celebrity deaths everyone is banging on about, here are the 17 I noticed but did not eulogise (and some of whom you may have missed):

17 January: Blowfly, 76
2 February: Bob Elliott, 92
16 February: Boutros Boutros-Ghali, 93
6 March: Merle Haggard, 79
3 June: Muhammad Ali, 74
17 June: Fred Tomlinson, 88
22 August: Toots Thielemans, 94
29 August: Gene Wilder, 83
8 September: The Lady Chablis, 59
16 September: Edward Albee, 88
30 September: Hanoi Hannah, 87
18 October: Phil Chess, 95
2 November: Dolores Klosowski, 93, American baseball player (Milwaukee Chicks)
7 November: Leonard Cohen, 82
25 November: Ron Glass, 71
22 December: Miruts Yifter, 72
25 December: George Michael, 53

In a similar vein, here are the other numbers of my year…

Obits actually in the blog: 16

Bowie
Alan Rickman
Nancy Reagan
Swindon’s Stagecoach Bus Depot in Old Town
Robert Ford, Madman Mayor of Toronto
Prince
Station Jim
Atlanta/Fulton County Stadium and Turner Field in apparent murder-suicide
Brownie’s dad
The jihadi sparrow
American democracy
The villages of Longford and Harmondsworth
America, the not so great pre-Trump version
Fidel Castro
Andrew Sachs
AA Gill

New Years Honours of Note: 1 (for the name): Mr Fabulous Flournoy, (MBE)

Mileage (running): 1589.8, quite the slack year — the least in two decades of keeping track

2016-cumulative-mileage

Pub write-ups 1 January thru 30 June: 38

Pub write-ups 1 July thru 31 December (we moved house 28 July): 216 (254 for the year)

Recipes, such as they are, published here: 5

Brunswick Stew and BBQ Sauce
Chicken Llewyn
Malted Milk Ball Hot Toddy
Chicken Breasts done as if for Pakoras
Pesto

Kebabs: 2

Fish: 22

International trips: Except for returning from Cork, technically a 2015 trip, 1 (Bremen)

Marathons: 1 (Wales Marathon)

Other races: 0, but a few planned for 2017

Weight (high): 169 lbs (12 stone 1 pound, Winter drinking weight)

Weight (low): 150 (10 stone 10 pounds, at the Marathon)

2016-weight