Sunday, November 23, 2008

My Ransome

This resume looks a lot like a ransom note. More like a "ransome."

It would have been easier to write this with a jar of ink and a quill. 

The question is, why do prefabricated "projects" inevitably turn into disasters? I especially like the small 'b' in bACHELOR'S degree. 

Anyone have any answers?

My Resume: Fonts gone insane

Abram Katz


New Haven Register

·     Science Editor                                                      1986-2008

     Wrote weekly Health/Science page consisting of feature story and column, Gray Matters. Selected and edited wire copy for page, and assigned art.    Supervised two reporters, assigned and edited their stories.   Covered Yale University, Yale School of Medicine, University of Connecticut, Wesleyan University and other local colleges and universities.  Also wrote daily and Sunday stories.


·     Environment Reporter

Covered state and federal departments of environmental protection. Issues included solid waste, hazardous waste, and Superfund sites. Followed enforcement of federal and state laws.


·     Transportation reporter

Beat included state and federal transportation departments, condition of bridges, highways, mass transit, Mianus River Bridge collapse, state DOT policy.


·     West Haven Reporter                                            1979

Responsibilities included city government. Series of stories on municipal corruption led to resignation of police chief, and city treasurer pleading guilty to felony involving illegal loans.

Fitchburg – Leominster Sentinel and Enterprise   1976-1978

·     Covered police and fire departments, community development block grants, wrote features, took photos.


Boston University 1975-1976

Received Master of Science degree in print journalism. Wrote master’s thesis on life and career of Upton Sinclair. Wrote additional thesis on Social Darwinism and development of American newspaper design. Courses included news and feature reporting and writing, communications law, survey of foreign press. Covered Middlesex Superior Court and wrote for school publication Boston Courier.

Washington University in St. Louis                   1971-1975       

Bachelor’s degree with honors in English Literature. Wrote honors thesis on Andrew Marvell political symbolism. Also took courses in biology, mathematics, astronomy, linguistics, vertebrate paleontology, philosophy, European history and art history.

University of Chicago Laboratory High School.


Able to explain complicated subjects clearly and on deadline in clear concise writing.

References and awards on request

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Gotta do something about that water

Goodness, there's uranium in Madison's drinking water!

Something must be afoul. Who dumped it there? Is it tailings from a uranium mine?

None of the above. The fact is that uranium is a natural element found in sedimentary rock all over the world. 

Fortunately, all but a minute percent has a nucleus with 238 protons and neutrons. This renders the material incapable of sustaining a nuclear reaction.

No need to worry about mushroom shaped clouds.

Occasionally a uranium atom will emit an alpha particle, which is two protons and two neutrons. This turns the atom into thorium. Alpha particles are big, but weak. They cannot penetrate a piece of tissue paper.

The problem with drinking uranium-containing water is that uranium is a metal, and metals are often toxic, like lead or mercury, although we require iron, copper and a few others. 

Uranium deposits naturally break down into lighter radioactive elements, and in the process, release radiation.  Uranium is ultimately reduced to lead. Along the way, a bunch of other elements are formed.

This is where radon comes from. If there weren't uranium underground in these parts, radon wouldn't seep into basements or out-gas from bath water. Wherever there's radon, somewhere relatively nearby there's a uranium compound.

If you're not terrified of radon, no need to get excited about a little uranium.

If the water in Madison is absolutely loaded with uranium, by all means, stop drinking it or bathing in it. Perhaps the town could install a water supply system and draw from reservoirs.

Meanwhile, the Madison uranium has been there for at least a few million years. But water-borne uranium is not a freakish curse.

 There are plenty of other water sources that we avoid because of chemical "contamination."  People avoid drinking water with too much fluoride, we don't consumer water from sulfur springs, and no one can consume ocean water very long without dire consequences.

We shouldn't assume that any water is safe and potable unless a few basic tests are done. Since we've known about radon for decades, perhaps it should have occurred to someone to check for uranium. 

While we're at it, check the bottled water, too. After all, it comes from the same subterranean geology as the water in Madison.

Monday, November 17, 2008

But, why?

There are billions of blogs, more than anyone could look at in a lifetime.

So, why clutter the impossibly complex thicket of electrons with another one? Not solely because I think my thoughts are somehow more interesting or thought provoking than anyone else's. (They are. We'll get back to that.)

Consequently, this blog will not be another unexceptional exercise in solipsistic complaints or existential dread. At least not all of the time.

The goal here is to display some of my writing, perhaps a resume, and so on. Kind of dull, true, but it may -- just may -- allow me to find a job not at Wal-Mart. 

Or it might be my first step on the way to Wal-Mart.

We shall see.