I’m not applying for a career change

Never, ever take a dapper website for granted. In today’s increasingly sophisticated online environment, even small changes require craftsmanship. I take my hat off to all the web developers! I’m moving my website and making cosmetic changes, and guess what? It’s not easy and missteps are common.

Patience . . . patience . . . I whisper to myself.

Interview with Bronson Botha

I’ve never met Bronson, nor do I know anything about him except this: he’s a fine runner whom I follow on Strava, and early this year he announced on Strava that he’d embarked on “500 Days of Sobriety.” This struck a chord with me and three months later, I’ve interviewed him by email.

[What was your relationship to the demon drink?]

If I said I spent far too much time dancing with the demon in years before this, my other half would call me a liar, but my views differ and there’s a reason for it, as there are reasons for most things in life. I don’t have an issue with drinking, rather I have an issue with using the drinking to cope with life stresses. That’s where it all goes wrong for me. Too easily you’d have a challenging day at work and find yourself sipping for sweet revenge on all the stress, to hopefully numb the mind. That’s where the issue lies for me. Not the alcohol but the confrontation of issues; rather than talking about it, I’d let the issue consume me further. 

[Why, precisely, 500 Days of Sobriety, including why you called it that instead of something like Alcohol Free?]

Why 500 days? Well I’ve done it before, it’s my second run at doing it for the full term, but this time is different to the first. Different this time because my better half and I got hitched in Feb of this year and with marriage comes the age old question of “when are we having kids?” Now I know this is far from the true extent of what a woman will go through, but one thing they would do, most women anyhow, is to give up alcohol. So I’ve started this time because it’s only fair if she’d have to give it up too. I’m doing it to show I’ll make the necessary sacrifices too and once it’s over we will start trying for a family. Well, that’s the plan anyhow ?.

[How is it panning out?]

So . . . 10 weeks in and the temptations are always around, but there’s a certain joy that lacing up your sneakers brings when you hit that footpath. Running or walking, sprint sessions or just crawling to make it back to the front door, the general idea is to use that time out to focus on issues in my mind rather than letting them fester with me sitting back on the couch with a beer in hand.

So this is what a big year looks like

You wake on time. Dark outside. You do your stretches, almost Zen-like, and settle to work: radiation dose history. By breakfast, daylight outside, peace has a hold, and the rain-drenched walk to Bar Ristretto is productive mental labour. You work well. After lunch, another big year, the fitness one, takes your time but you don’t begrudge it. You work. You cook a tofu dish for dinner. Out socialising (no red). To sleep weary but focused.

This is what a Writing Big Year looks like: a lit workroom beckoning.

Rock Music Big Year: Who remembers the feel of a heavy 33 RPM record?

To listen to Whiteout Conditions, the newie from New Pornographers, I click once in Spotify. Five decades ago, I’d have gone into the city, headed down a dingy alley, bought a round slab of vinyl that rustled when I removed it from its sleeve to place on my turntable, before finally dropping the stylus on its first groove. Am I nostalgic? Not at all – the music is the music.

Writing Big Year: Russia is tough

I’m in awe of professional historians who effortlessly glide between the archives of different countries. Me, I find it arduous enough to dig into American and British records. The former Soviet Union was amongst the most closed of societies, but even after is demise in 1991, only the briefest flowering of “real historical work” in my nuclear field occurred in the mid-90s-to-early-00s before Putin shut up the shop. The image is of a series of historical articles collected by ex-atomic-scientist Victor Sidorenko. It’s priceless in terms of disclosure but proved hard to translate and is ultra-technical rather than “here is the story of what we did.”

In the end my knowledge of how Soviet reactors came to be is not deep and is informed more by the work of better researchers than me, rather than my own work. Should I have done better? Maybe so, but I’d have needed to make many trips into Russia to find survivors and interview them, with the help of an interpreter and research assistant, and I could never justify the effort. Have I guessed “the truth”? I think so but I’ll stand ready to be corrected. All I can hope is that young Russian researchers one day tackle this fascinating local aspect of a fascinating global technological development.