This is part of a series of short interviews with individual members of the Forum.
Forum name: nukediver
Profession: Government Health Physicist
Location: Metuchen, New Jersey
Forum member since: 4/23/11
Favorite Tom Bihn bag: This is easy—the Synapse 19. I love it so much I have, um, a few in different colors. It is so versatile that it meets my needs almost every day. It’s small enough that I can carry it in New York City museums without being asked to check it. It’s big enough to function as my EDC [Everyday Carry], even if I’m carrying my laptop (an 11” MacBook Air). It’s great to use as a personal item when I travel with my Aeronaut 45. It’s perfect for the beach. It works really well for short hikes. Need I go on?
Q: Can you tell us the story behind your forum name?
A: I’ve spent my whole career making sure people don’t do stupid things with radioactive materials, and making sure problems get cleaned up if things do go wrong, hence the “nuke” part. I’ve also been a scuba diver for the same amount of time, ergo the “diver” part. Just so we’re clear, I have never combined the two activities, and have no desire to do so. Ever. Although that didn’t stop the Tom Bihn staff from creating some of the most awesome box art ever!
Q: Not that it would likely matter that much, but in the event of a nuclear crisis, do you have a bug-out bag? What’s in it?
A: That would depend on how you define “nuclear crisis.” I suppose that for most people that would mean something horrific, like an atomic bomb. I have no bug-out bag for that because what would be the point? But then again, the odds of that happening are pretty slim.
Now, there are other mini “nuclear crises” that could happen, and for that I am prepared. I often have my Black/Iberian Synapse 25 completely set up for work since I’m always on call. I’ll usually carry the following:
- a set of procedures (and forms, always with the forms) for responding to an event involving radioactive materials
- emergency contact number who’s who list for New Jersey government (a paper backup for my electronic versions)
- personal radiation monitor
- handheld radiation detector
- personal dosimetry (to measure any radiation dose I might receive)
- toiletries in a Size 2 Iberian Travel Stuff Sack (toothbrush, deodorant, etc.)
- chargers and battery backup for personal and work phones
- pens, binder clips, post-it notes in a Small Double Organizer Pouch
- 2 protein bars and some beef jerky
- a 1-litre bottle of water
I also have a separate duffle bag that has my work boots (steel-toed, of course), work jacket, hard hat, safety vest, safety glasses, several types of gloves, and a change of clothes in it.
Q: Besides TB bags, do you have any collections? Can you talk about one or two of them?
A: It’s not a true curated collection, but my house looks like a library because I have so many books. The “collection” isn’t limited to just a few genres, either. You’ll find books on everything from opera to baseball to sharks to physics. I cannot walk past a bookstore without going inside. And maybe making a purchase. For me, there is something very soothing about a physical book—its heft, its smell, the sensation of movement through time as the pages are turned while I read...all of it together evokes such a visceral response in me.
Q: What are some of the dive trips you would most like to take?
A: Although a little earlier I said I’d never mix work with diving, I would like to dive Bikini Atoll. Bikini was one of the many sites of US atomic bomb testing in the 1940s and 1950s. It boasts the only place in the world where you can dive on an aircraft carrier (it was intentionally sunk during a bomb blast). Because the atoll has remained undisturbed, it now hosts a plethora of sharks, game fish, and beautiful coral. Diving there is offered sporadically due to its location, and in a very limited fashion (~10 divers per week).
A more realistically achievable destination would have to be the Lembeh Strait, Indonesia. This place is known for its weird, tiny creatures in the muck. It’s really a special interest kind of place, and attracts loads of macro photographers.
Last but not least would have to be a cage dive off the coast of South Africa to see a great white shark. No one has ever accused me of being completely sane.
Q: What is a moment that was life-changing for you?
A: The space race during the 1960s was life-changing for me. As a young girl, I became obsessed with all things space-related. I wanted to be an astronaut in the worst way. Unfortunately for me, it being the late ‘60s - early ‘70s, that couldn’t happen. In the early days, astronauts were almost always Air Force pilots. I had two strikes against me—I was (still am) very nearsighted, and I was (and still am) a girl. The Air Force wanted nothing to do with either one. Instead, I focused on reading every science fiction book I could get my hands on and I ended up studying science in college and graduate school.
My other minor obsession was the TV show The Undersea World of Jacques Cousteau. We know how that turned out for me.