Y-12

20180417_072218As I am driving thru Oakridge, Tn – I see atomic symbols everywhere – so my interest is peaked.  Following signs to the Y-12 museum – I have to investigate what this unusual atomic symbol is with the name of Y-12.  I learn Y-12 is a national security complex tucked away and rarely heard and the small museum is a wealth of interest to a physicist and history buffs.

Y-12 itself is a National security complex with three primary national security missions that protect our country.  They maintain the US nuclear Stockpile, reduce global threats, and fuel the US Nuclear Navy.

The museum show cases instruments and stories of Radioactive history.  My favorite part of this museum is this newspaper article.  This is the site the Atomic Bomb was made!  For some reason… Manhattan Project, made me think the WW2 Bomb was made in NY, but nope, it was made here.

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A few more interesting pictures to share:

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A “Moon Box” manufacturered here at Y-12 that was used Moon lunar geological samples to Earth.

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Sample badges and ID for Y-12 workers, looks just like the badges I recall from Manhattan project workers, although these are just samples.

Interesting side trip for a Radioactive Geek Girl!

 

Gatlinburg, TN

I am spending a few days in Oakridge, Tennessee for Work training, and our group decided to take a quick trip to Gatlinburg.  1.5 hours on the back roads and we were there – an explosion of all tourist trap style shopping, drinking, eating, and things to do you can squeeze into a small area.  We walked around downtown, which is right around the corner from DollyWood.    We stopped in the Ole Smoky Tennessee Moonshine store and for $5, you get to sample 13 mini shots of liquor of every kind and a $5 coupon for anything over $5 in the store.  I bought my husband a T-Shirt our group pooled our money and bought a fifth of our favorite Moonshine – Caramel Apple Pie.    We shared our fifth with a few fellow students in the hotel lobby after class, then ate at Calhoun’s on the Water in Oakridge.  A delicious meal at a beautiful location for a fair price.   Love Gatlinburg!

 

5 things I wish I knew before I went to Cuba

 

20180409_213740I knew you cannot use credit cards in Cuba, and they have cigars and rum, but I did not know….

 

  1. We were told we had to have a cultural tour booked or we would not even be allowed to step off the Cruise ship (or if we flew in – not step off the plane).  This is not true.  The threat is empty.  We saw several couple walk off the ship (they were Americans) they said they had nothing booked and were unconcerned and when we were back on the ship they said they had a wonderful day.

2.  Everyone in Cuba, LOVES Che Guevara!

 

ErnestoCheGuevara  was an Argentina Marxist Revolutionary, a doctor, an author, guerrilla leader and HERO in Cuba.  He was a major figure of the Cuban Revolution, his picture and vision has become a symbol of rebellion in Cuba and popular culture.

I saw two pictures of Fidel Castro, saw 1000 pictures of Che Guevara.

3.  Every person in Cuba (except politicians) make only $50 per month.  You could be a doctor or street dancer, it is the same salary.

4.  We had no idea how much to get in Cuba dollars, so we got $150, which was more than enough since there was not much to buy when on a tour.  We did buy rum, one cigar, a necklace at a local children’s center and could have bought typical tourist trap t-shirts and carvings and plastic items you could get at any tourist trap location, but we are past that type of vacation item. When your on a tour, you do not have an opportunity to buy much, but if your so inclined sharing a few dollars with the locals, would be wonderful, considering #3.

5.  The Cuban people are wonderful, we expected them to be angry with many things, including our President, but did not find that true.  I was not afraid even for a minute, and would not be even if we were wondering around town ourselves, it is a safe place.   We would go back in a heart beat, but first so many other choices to explore!

Retirement seminar

So David and I went to a Retirement pitch dinner, where they try and upsell you on a product.  Honestly we know so little about the variety of retirement programs out there.  What we do know:  A Traditional IRA is a tax-deferred retirement account. You save your $ today and are taxed later when you withdraw the money.  A Roth IRA, is like and IRA where you don’t get a tax deductions for the $ contribution today, but later can withdraw the assets when you retire without paying taxes.    A 401k or 403b is an employer sponsored retirement program. Taxes aren’t paid until the money is withdrawn from the account.  Sometimes employers match these on a smaller amount.  A SEP, is a Single Employer Pension Plan, which really is a small business owner traditional IRAs (SEP-IRAs) set up for employees.  Do not put all your eggs in one basket and diversify as much as possible, save and save in as many different methods for retirement as possible.

But If I am going to retire early, I figure I need to know Everything and make best choices, saving money is good, but saving it smart is better. So this seminar did teach me some things.  What I learned:

  • On a Roth or 401k/403b, you can withdraw your money as soon as your 59.5years old, (before will cost you 10%) and have to start spending these (or be penalized 3%) by age 70.5.
  • 403b’s are more restrictive, but also can allow higher contributions.
  • An annuity can go up, down, or stay the same.
  • A fixed annuity can go up or stay fixed – this is what they were selling – so going to learn more on this and report back later.  It sounds fabulous, but things always do at free dinner seminars.  I plan on researching this subject and getting back to everyone.

What do we have as far as retirement plans and income- well we currently we have a huge diversification – I have a 403b, with a small match plan.  David has a 401k.   We are not 401 millionaires.   We both have retirement accounts – David has stocks, and mutual funds, and MESP accounts for the kids college, which he is still adding to.   I have two SEP accounts – one for each business I own – an education website, and a physics consulting group.  These were added to at the advice of my tax accountant, who told me send a certain amount of money to these each year to avoid taxes in the current year.  I have a small Roth IRA, and an IRA.   I have three MESP accounts for the kids, that a funded.  We have three rentals, which I bought one at the peak of the market and two at the downfall.  We have an investment property, that too this point has not generated any money.  I have two pensions (one fairly small), and two pensions from my ex-husband (which can be collected upon 6 years after we retire).  David has a pension.  We cannot collect on our pensions until 3 years after we retire (at 55 years old) but that would be at a low rate, and waiting would be smart.

So we are need to bulk up and figure out how to live for those years in between when we retire and we can collect on our retirement funds.  Another post in the future will detail our plans, even though these are in flux and well honestly we are not 100% sure.  I guess we will learn and figure it out as we go.

 

 

Next Trip?

The cover picture, is David is holding a baby turtle at a turtle farm we visited in Grand Cayman, our first family trip together in 2015.  So we are now together almost 4 years.  I was divorce Feb 13, 2014 and joined Match.com the end of Feb 2014 and met David after about 30 coffee dates in 30 days (yep marathon dating) and after a Tim Hortons coffee date, I was hooked.  So end of March 2014 will be four years.

So now, we are trying to plan our next trip, which is always a masterpiece theater trick of timing, cost and minimizing kid inconveniences.    There is an upcoming winter break we could slip away for a few days, and so trying to find some close by 4 day trips.  Maybe New Orleans, or Mexico, or a 3 day cruise.  Some place warm for sure, but too short to head to China, or Greece or Italy.  So next we must plan.   I think the planning is half the fun, and waiting for the next trip is so much fun imagining what we will do once we are there.

Disney for Two

David and I just returned from Disney today, What a fun time.  Two and a half days alone with my husband, what a treat!

Yes, we were just in Disney in July, but that was with four kids, which had its drama and I was exhausted at the end of the trip.

Florida this October weekend was cooler, and actually invigorating.

We stayed at the time share – Summers Bay, which is a timeshare my husband has from way back.  We went down for an owners meeting, that turned out to be a sales pitch.  We did not let that stop our good time, and it was interesting to hear their offers.  They start with a deal for $11,600 upgrade, then only $8,000 for a lesser version, then $4000, then $3000.   I learned alot, so my time did not feel wasted, but don’t think I will be sitting thru one of those again soon.

The rest of the weekend was wonderful.  Sharing some pictures of us at Universal City Walk, we also enjoyed an afternoon at Disney Springs (used to be Downtown Disney).

Ok, so reviewing the images, I realize, we  saw the blue man group show, and then mostly ate.

We stopped at the Toothsome Chocolate Emporium at Universal City Walk … they specialize in milkshakes, wow they looked amazing, the table behind us was a birthday party and they had one each.  We saw them making a potted chocolate cream, which was a pot of what looked like hot fudge – super decadent.  We had the chocolate bread, a peanut butter candy, baked apple macaroon, and a savory chili Brussels sprout dish to counter all the desserts.  I LOVED this place.  Steam punk meets Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

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On Saturday we took a break from eating and cooled down in Disney Springs, Jock Lindsays Hanger Bar.  The cool headed monkey was so lite and refreshing, I want one right now.

 

We also had a quick snack at Universals City Walk – Camacho Cantina.  The corn pudding in the enchilada was so moist and delicious.   I was just starting to enjoy the mariachi band, when the finished up for the nite.

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The nite before we went to Joes Crab Shack and David ate all he could. 20171013_213207

We were back home Monday early and we really just love these little escapes.  I forget sometimes just how much I love being with David, and then I Also feel guilty for wanting him all to myself, he is also a wonderful Father and sharing him when were home is important to me, but damn I love all this alone time.

Next alone trip…. Chicago in November for RSNA – Radiological Society of North America.

What Does a Nuclear Physicist Do?

Most people when they find out what I do for a living, they stop talking to me, sometime they walk away.  For awhile there I stopped telling people what I did for a living, but after being shunned (but also made some of my best friends) at a pre-school meeting, I decided… I am who I am, if I am shunned or berated for being me, I will accept that.

So what do I do?   Let me give you a little past history of my career, I have been practicing 29 years this November 2017.

I’ll start with most physicist have multiple jobs, and most are introverts who have ADD and quite a few of us have type A personalities.  I like to keep busy, but not at the expense of my family.  That would mean for me for years when the kids were little, I often took my children along with me to work ALOT.    I can remember bringing my elementary school children with me to my hospital office, which was the size of 10 normal offices (it was also next to the morgue in the sub basement) and I had space to let them run.  I would tell them, if they played nice while I answered emails and filed away papers, I would take them for McDonald’s, which was a great bribe that worked.  They have sat under tables in the Operating room conference area while I spoke on surgical radiation safety.   I dragged them to nuclear offices and asked for them to sit quietly for 20 minutes in the empty because closed office reception area when they were as young as 10 and 12 years old, while I quickly worked and had a receptionist keep and eye on them.  I would tell them if mom could do two nuclear accounts today, we could go to the zoo afterward.  If mom could write one lecture this morning, we could go out to lunch.  If mom could just test one quick test on mammography machine after dinner and you guys could sit in the closed facilities break room, I would buy a video on the way home and we could all stay up late and watch it together.   Physicist often work before and after hours, or weekends when patients are not around, we are called hospital vampires for our slipping in and out and being unseen.

I have worked at two large hospitals in the Metro Detroit area as both a Diagnostic Nuclear Physicist and a Radiation Safety Officer.  These jobs allow flexible hours perfect for raising children and working the most during school hours, but they also often allowed me to type paperwork at home, often with the kids asleep.  I work for a consulting group, that only wanted me to work evenings and weekends, which was ideal.  I started performing my own consulting for small jobs, such as helping to clean up and close nuclear facilities, or write radiation safety education lecture materials for facilities, or performing nuclear audits.  I decided to partner with a friend and worked endless extremely early mornings, even on family vacations, writing lectures to start up my website on education for the required training of 80 hrs for all Cardiologists who want to open their own clinics, or practice Nuclear Cardiology.

This week for me was the end of a quarter, last week of September, which means all Nuclear sites I cover must have an audit completed.  I work hard to not cram them into the last month, but it is always a busy week.  I also performed a nuclear lecture on Radiation Hormesis (the theory that small amounts of radiation exposure are actually healthy for you) at the local chapter of the Society of Nuclear Medicine.  I had to perform one digital mammography unit service call re-evaluation.  It is federal law that certain repairs performed on mammography have to have a physicist evaluation prior to human use, they are closed until that physics test is passed.  I performed a preparation and surgical procedure using Sir-Spheres, a liquid Yttrium 90 radionuclide used to treat liver cancer (these are long and exhaustive procedures, but the patients are last option of treatment stage, and I feel good to know this is life extending for them).  I visited a Nuclear Cat facility to start a re-calculation on reduced time of holding cats after an Iodine-131 thyroid treatment, this is a medical vet technology, but also performed often on humans as well.  I had my annual review with my hospital job, she said she thought it was unique I said in my comments about my job, that I love my job, which I do, I told her I was retiring in three years, and we laughed.  I performed multiple audits of my hospitals cancer treatment center, to audit the other physicists work with HDR (high dose rate- nuclear materials) cancer treatments to assure these physicists are performing their work with the highest standards.  I audit their work and I am audited by many different federal, state and insurance agencies to assure my work is at the highest standards.  I performed four lead room shielding evaluations, where you place a source of radiation Tc-99m in the center of a newly leaded x-ray room, and measure the radiation on the circumference of the room to prove there is not radiation exposure leaking out of the room, it should be a perfect lead box that is sealed from radiation leakage, so they can start using x-ray radiation in the room and keep people on the outside of the room safe.  I tested one new orthopedic office and three new CT room installs.   Whew!

I am so happy the week is over, and I get a rest week, although I don’t intend on resting too much, I am going to try and finish up outstanding work and send out a ton of emails tomorrow.

I’ll post another weeks work schedule in the future, sometimes I do really fun things.  More to share……Radiation symbols