Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Light Water Reactor: A Nuclear Power Conference and a Three Mile Walk

Bonus points if anyone gets the bad puns encapsulated in this entry's title ...

Aerial view of the Three Mile Island (TMI) nuclear power plant with its still functioning Unit 1.

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I am feeling physically very worn out. Yesterday (Tuesday) was very busy as I got up at 7AM -- after falling asleep finally around 330AM -- and got ready by 830AM.

I first went to the Bank of America at Dupont Circle, where I was the first customer and I took out $150 in cash and then headed on the Metro to Metro Center and went to the RCN office at the corner of F and 13th Streets, NW, to pay the most overdue part of my cable / internet bill. I think that avoids having both shut off.

Thereafter, I went to the post office in the Ariel Rios EPA building on the other side of Pennsylvania Avenue, except the place is apparently no longer open. So I walked all the way to the Martin Luther King post office at L and 14th Streets and mailed in my rent -- and actually ON TIME for once.

The new monthly rate has kicked in at $994/month -- up a frickin' $41 per month because increase was based on the 2008 (not 2009) inflation rate. This does include all utilities, though, and there are no other hidden fees.

I then walked to Farragut North and took a Red line (car 2005) all the way to White Flint to attend the 22nd annual Regulatory Information Conference (RIC) 2010.

This is the big, annual conference sponsored by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission that brings together a ga-gillion people in the nuclear power sector. I missed the opening speech by Chairman Gregory B. Jaczko, but it along with all the other general / plenary sessions are now available as archived video Web casts.

I stayed for the speech by INPO President / CEO and retired Navy Admiral James O. Ellis, Jr., who was quite a character and excellent speaker, and then I hurried back to the Metro and went to Bethesda to my contacting job office, where I picked up a check for $640. I quickly deposited it at the B. of Am. nearby -- thus ensuring I had enough money to cover my March rent. Recall LP lent me some money as well.

Riding the Metrorail Red Line from White Flint to Bethesda in suburban Maryland on a bright, mild early March day, 11:47AM, March 9, 2010

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Aerial view of the Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Plant near Toledo, Ohio

Thereafter, I went back to White Flint on the Metro Red Line -- again, coincidentally in car 2005, meaning in the intervening 2-1/2 hours, the train had gone up to Shady Grove, all the way back to Glenmont, and then was headed back to Shady Grove -- and walked over to the Bethesda North (it's really Rockville) Marriott Hotel & Conference Center where the RIC event is held.

I attended two more sessions including a commissioner plenary with outgoing Commissioner Dale E. Klein speaking and Commissioner Kristine L. Svinicki giving one of her interesting speeches.

BTW, these RIC events and the nuclear power sector in general are, like, 80-20 male-female and (among the Americans), 95-3-2 white-Hispanic-black.

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I left around 5PM and headed back into D.C. However, I ended up meeting Chris T. at his place and we went to Adams Mill Pub, where we got kinda drunk but had a fun time, including a good theological conversation after several drinks. I went home by 10PM, but then I went back out to Cobalt around midnight and stayed until it closed at 130AM.

Aerial view of Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Station at its marvelous Pacific coast location.

I walked home and fell promptly asleep and, well, didn't get up until ... 4PM today ... totally missing the Wednesday RIC sessions. However, the Wednesday morning plenary session is also Web video archived and, more importantly for me, nearly all the presentations at the two technical sessions are available as PDFs. In fact, nearly all the technical sessions are available as PDFs from the RIC program overview page.

A few of the panelists' presentations are not available but I contacted the session coordinator to see if I can get them. All of this is necessary for the final 30-page report I have to put together by next week, incorporating some of the slides as figures.

The INL Advanced Test Reactor core and the characteristic and yet stunning Cerenkov radiation effect.

Tomorrow is the final day of the RIC and I WILL be there on time at 830AM. I may try to go into the contracting office to print out some material after I get out of the last session tomorrow (which ends at 4PM). Tomorrow evening, I may meet LP for dinner in Bethesda but that is not sure yet.

I also have to finish one of my biweekly climate change news compendiums by Friday "COB."

Let me just say here that I realize it must sound odd, maybe even slightly jarring, that someone as unusual and weird as I am is involved in nuclear power stuff. However, let me reassure everyone that I am NOT at all part of this sector -- whether in industry on the utility side or as a regulator -- but instead I merely write ABOUT it, sort of like a journalist whose beat is that topic.

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While I did not do anything "productive" this Wednesday, and did not actually get out of my apartment until nearly 8PM, I took one of my night time walks -- 1.5 miles each way or three miles round trip -- down to the Watergate Complex to the Safeway.

The Watergate East Shops promenade -- as seen with my crummy cellphone camera -- outside the Safeway, 9:02PM, March 10, 2010.

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I realized that part of the reason I like that whole area so much -- aside from getting out of the enervating, life-draining gayborhood "ghetto" in which I uneasily and so tentatively live -- is that the Watergate buildings and the sunken shopping "promenade" reminds me of some 1950s/1960s-era Jersey shore place ... Long Branch and even Sea Bright ... where I grew up in the 1970s and spent summers into the 1980s.

The soup aisle of the Watergate Safeway, 9:05PM, March 10, 2010

The Watergate is right along the Potomac and you get the sense that it is almost a "seaside" place -- or at least as close as D.C. has to one. And when the jets fly into/out of nearby DCA, their passing creates that roar that reverberates mournfully and slowly fades away.

This whole little excursion takes about 2 hours.

OK, that's all for now. I'm watching reruns of The Golden Girls on Hallmark Channel. I should be OK as long as I get to bed by 130AM. It helps there was no liquor involved in my day, too.

Lastly, I have decided to "reopen" my Arcturus blog to make it generally accessible to the public. This is my Mr. Sirius blog. However, I'm not really sure what, if anything, to publish over there anymore. There's really nothing to say "to" him or even about him anymore.

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We are still on target for a prolonged period of showery rain starting tomorrow, and there are flood watches up in parts of the Appalachians as the big snow pack quickly melts.

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My next planned blog update will be on Saturday.

--Regulus

6 comments:

krzysztof said...

Oh the Arc blog is back! Thank Heavens. I was experiencing withdrawal symptoms (that may or may not have anything to do with the blog).

BTW those names: Jaczko, Svinicki... are you sure it was an RIC meeting not a 2nd generation-I-spell-it-with-a-"v"-now Polish-American bigos cookout?

Regulus said...

Thank you for the comment. As for the conference, I, er, didn't make it today either ... but I went into the office and printed out all the presentations for the five technical sessions I was supposed to attend ... I should have enuf material to write up my report.

I thought the Chairman's name -- Jaczko -- was more Czech or Slovak rather than Polish.

krzysztof said...

I was wondering about that too but the 'cz' thing looks kind of Polish so I don't know

krzysztof said...

Then again there's a 'cz' thing in Czech but I think they spell it differently, Česká republika

Regulus said...

How do you spell in Polish the word for that cicada - insect? The word with no vowels at all?

krzysztof said...

Chrząszcz
but it's a beetle not cicada. Cicada is easy it's just "cykada" Here's a famous tong-twister