Diving Silfra
Green Mountain Audubon Center
Þingvellir
HAZWOPER Training

Burlington Uniqueness

I have already written how nice a town Burlington, Vermont is and how much I love its colorful houses. I just had to add one more post with a few photos of some of fun, arty, and unique things that I saw there that help to make it a cute town.

First, on Church Street, there is this water fountain which is probably one of the most unique and beautiful public water fountains that I have ever seen.

Water fountain on Church Street

Water fountain on Church Street

Then there is this box on Church Street where you can put donations for the less fortunate, and it is of course designed to look like Champ, the famous monster of Lake Champlain.

Donation box that looks like a very cute Champ

Donation box that looks like a very cute Champ

Then there are these paintings on a commercial building that are by far the best way to incorporate electrical boxes into the exterior design of a building that I have ever seen.

Paintings on and around electrical/telephone boxes

Paintings on and around electrical/telephone boxes

Best use of an electric meter in a painting

Best use of an electric meter in a painting

Then finally there is this sign that I spotted several copies of on Church Street. I have no idea if the second part is actually written into the Burlington ordinance, but it would be awesome if it was.

Dog ordinance sign

Dog ordinance sign

Burlington Houses

While I spent much of my time walking around Burlington, Vermont, in the downtown area, I also spent a good deal of time walking around some of the residential neighborhoods. Burlington has some historic, large, gorgeous houses, and many of them are painted in various, traditional colorful schemes. However, Burlington also has plenty of not quite as old, not quite as nice houses painted in not quite so traditional colors. Some of them are painted in almost blindingly bright color schemes, and I loved them. They are not traditional at all, but in my opinion, they are completely fun. I don’t even like some of the color schemes, but I love that someone cares enough about the house and what it looks like to paint it something other than all white.

The day that I spent much of my time photographing these houses, I walked into the Fletcher Free Library. While I was admiring the architecture of the old section of the building, Lorrie, one of the library workers asked me if I was enjoying the architecture. We had a lovely conversation about the library, Burlington, and Burlington’s houses. It turns out she knows the owner of many of the colorful houses that I was admiring. You have to love small towns, because of course I would run into someone who knows the owner of many of the houses. According to her, Stu lives in the brick house with purple trim that is situated between the two purple-painted wooden houses, and he has the purple Camino. These were some of the houses that I was admiring the most, especially since they featured the color coordinated purple car in-between them. Also, his brick house has a duck family walking on the ceiling of the entry porch because of course it does. He and his wife own and rent many of the bright houses, and he paints them that way just because he likes it and doesn’t care what others think. Stu, I am an admirer of your work. I don’t like all the color schemes, but I love that you painted them that way.

Post has been edited to correct the spelling of Lorrie’s name. Thank you Stu for the correction, and thank you for your comment!

lavender houseblue and orange house blue duplex brick and purple trim

purple house and camino

clay color house fancy blue house fancy cream hosue green and creme hosue lime green store orange and purple houses pink and red house primary color apartments purple and blue houses sage green house sunset trim wood and metal house yellow houseWell played Benjamin Moore, well played.

Benjamin Moore

Burlington

I was in Burlington, Vermont for a week for a conference. Luckily, I had a few hours off here and there, so I was able to spend some time walking around the town. Burlington is a wonderful city in which to walk around. It has some wonderful old buildings, which I love, and as it sits right on Lake Champlain, it has some really nice views of the lake. If you visit, you have to spend time just walking on the Church Street pedestrian mall and perhaps eat at the many restaurants on it or go in some of the shops. Of course, there are plenty of other great restaurants and shops downtown besides the ones on Church Street. Also, stroll along Waterfront Park and admire Lake Champlain.

City Hall

City Hall

Church Street

Church Street

Citizen Bank

Citizen Bank

Old brick buildings

Old brick buildings

Old buildings

Old buildings

Fletcher Free Library

Fletcher Free Library

Fletcher Free Library

Fletcher Free Library

Fletcher Free Library window

Fletcher Free Library window

Waterfront Park

Waterfront Park

Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain

Sunset on Lake Champlain

Sunset on Lake Champlain

Winooski

While visiting Burlington, I walked to Winooski, which is just to its north, and wandered around. Winooski is a cute little town that is situated next to Winooski Falls, a rocky area of the Winooski River. They have built a really nice river walk area on one side of the river, so you can walk past the falls and also down to the dam. The town square is also walkable and has a bunch of really good restaurants. [Normally I don't recommend specific commercial places, but I had dinner at Our House, and I highly recommend it. They have all these really good variations of mac and cheese, and it is just so delicious.] The only bad thing about the town is how fast the traffic goes around the town center, which can make crossing the street difficult.

Winooski Block

Winooski Block

Winooski town center

Winooski town center

Winooski Mill

Winooski Mill

Winooski River (upstream of falls)

Winooski River (upstream of falls)

Winooski Falls

Winooski Falls

Winooski Falls

Winooski Falls

Winooski Falls

Winooski Falls

Winooski Dam

Winooski Dam

Winooski River (just downstream of dam)

Winooski River (just downstream of dam)

Winooski River (downstream of dam)

Winooski River (downstream of dam)

Vermont Nature

After visiting the Green Mountain Audubon Center, we visited the Richmond area and also went north of Burlington to the area where the Winooski River flows into Lake Champlain. The area is really pretty, and of course Lake Champlain is gorgeous.

Sunflower

Sunflower

Coneflowers

Coneflowers

Unknown flower

Buttonbush

Cute little frog (I think my silhouette is actually reflected in his eye)

Cute little frog (I think my silhouette is actually reflected in his eye)

Winooski River delta

Winooski River delta

Lake Champlain marshy area

Lake Champlain marshy area

Lake Champlain

Lake Champlain

Green Mountain Audubon Center

I came to Vermont for a conference, but I arrived a day early to do a little sightseeing. One place we visited was the Green Mountain Audubon Center outside Huntington. It is a really lovely place to wander around for several hours. It has a hemlock swamp, a gorgeous river running through it, forests full of ferns, and lots of pretty flowers. We also saw a few nice birds, and I saw some really cool looking insects, which I cannot identify.

Fern forest

Fern forest

Huntington River

Huntington River

Swamp

Swamp

American red squirrel

American red squirrel

Beetle?

Beetle?

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Chestnut-sided Warbler

Fern frond

Fern frond

Milkweed

Milkweed

Insect

Insect

Flower

Flower

Amtrak Vermonter

I think I have written blog posts before about how much I love traveling my train. I love sitting back and watching the world go by. Train travel also sometimes allows you views you could not get any other way. I recently took the Amtrak Vermonter from Washington, DC to Burlington, VT. The latter part of the trip had wonderful views of the Connecticut River and rural Vermont and New Hampshire. It was a wonderful way to start my trip. Here are a few photos from the trip.

Triborough Bridge (East River) in NY

Triborough Bridge (East River) in NY

Crossing the Connecticut River near Windsor Locks, CT

Crossing the Connecticut River near Windsor Locks, CT

Bridge over the Connecticut River near Northfield, MA

Bridge over the Connecticut River near Northfield, MA

near Bellows Falls, VT

near Bellows Falls, VT

July 4th Fireworks on the National Mall

One of the really nice perks of living in the Washington, DC area is viewing the Independence Day fireworks over the National Mall. I set up on the Mt. Vernon trail where I could get the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, and Capitol (and in a few photos the Jefferson Memorial) in the same frame on wide views. Without further ado, here are some of my photos from last night.
wide shot

blue and white

blue white zoom

cascades

cascades zoom

launch wide

red white blue

red white zoom

smileyface

star

white

white zoomed

HAZWOPER Training

Last week I attended 40 hour HAZWOPER training. HAZWOPER, an acronym for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response Standard, is OSHA mandated training for employees who may potentially be exposed to hazardous substances and who are engaged in cleanup operations or other certain other activities involving hazardous waste. Normally I work in an office, and the closest I come to hazardous materials or waste is sitting at a computer and analyzing data from hazardous waste sites. However, there is a possibility that I may sometimes be asked to go to a site where HAZWOPER training would be necessary, and I had an opportunity to take the training, so I did.

HAZWOPER training includes topics such as basic chemistry, toxicology, biology, radiation, environmental science, analytical sampling, and law and regulations. Truthfully, I could have taught a good portion of the training. It also includes hands on training with some of the sampling methods and instruments that are used in the field. Personally, I think playing with instruments and sampling materials is fun. As part of the training, you are required to get dressed in various personal protective equipment (PPE) that would be required under various circumstances at sites. In general, you look rather ridiculous in the PPE, but of course PPE is not supposed to be fashionable or make you look good, it is supposed to protect you from hazardous materials that could kill you or cause injury or illness. What PPE does not do, is keep you cool. It was in the 90′s °F when we were dressing in the PPE. While the suits protect you from most hazards, ironically they can cause potential health hazards if you over heat. There are different levels of PPE that are used depending on what the potential hazards are. The most protective is Level A, which is a fully encapsulating chemical-protective suit with positive pressure, full face-piece self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA), inner and out gloves, and boots.

Me in Level A PPE

Me in Level A PPE

The next level, Level B PPE, is slightly less protective and includes chemical-resistant coveralls instead of the fully encapsulating suit, as well as SCBA, inner and outer gloves, and boots.

Me in Level B PPE

Me in Level B PPE

The next level, Level C PPE, is less protective still. It includes an air purifying respirator instead of SCBA, but other than that is fairly similar to Level B.

Me in Level C PPE

Me in Level C PPE

There is one final level, which is Level D PPE, which is minimal protection from physical hazards but does not include respiratory protection. This may sound strange, but if it is hot, Level A is actually easier to wear than B or C. The fully encapsulating suit is roomier, and the compressed air is continually blowing through your mask and then through the suit itself before it exits an exhaust vent. This air flow helps to cool you. In the chemical resistant suit for Level B and C, I just felt like a turkey that had been baked in a cooking bag. Side note, the SCBA tanks we used were made of a composite material and weighed  about a third of the weight of the metal SCUBA tanks I have worn before. Also, for as cumbersome as it was to get dressed out in all the PPE, I think it was easier to dress in and walk around in the PPE compared to the SCUBA drysuit I was wearing a month beforehand while SCUBA diving Silfra. Obviously once underwater, the tank weight is negligible, and the drysuit becomes less cumbersome, but above water, they are really difficult to get into and move.

For HAZWOPER training, you don’t just have to get dressed in the different levels, you need to get used to actually moving and doing various tasks in them. Hence, when we first wore them, our tasks were to play with balls, as one would normally do at a hazardous waste site.

Playing ball in Level A PPE

Playing ball in Level A PPE

Playing ball in Level C PPE

Playing ball in Level C PPE

Note in the above photo, the person in the center is wearing proper head protection in the form of a straw cowboy hat. No, he actually just being fashionable. Wearing hazardous material PPE is no reason to not be fashionable.

We also did a few exercises to practice tasks at a hazardous materials site, including decontamination. There are set steps and tasks to make sure decontamination is done properly. The first pair of people wash the worker, the second pair wash the worker again, the third set inspect the cleaning, and the fourth set help the worker out of the PPE. Notice the use of walkers for the worker to hold onto while the decontamination team washes the boots. There is no dignity in any of this.

Decontamination practice

Decontamination practice

We also practiced emergency decontamination of an incapacitated worker. We actually did not finish this task. This was due to the fact that after they started decontaminating him, someone loudly said, maybe we will have to do mouth to mouth. At that point, the incapacitated worker suddenly regained conscienness and took off running.

Emergency decontamination of an incapacitated worker

Emergency decontamination of an incapacitated worker

Since this was practice and not a real situation, we did a few things you can’t do on a real site. For example, the decontamination team stayed inside when not needed outside and did various things to stay cool. One thing that we did was lay on the concrete floor because the concrete was cooler than the air, and it absorbed some of your body heat. Sure, we looked like casualties at a hazardous waste site, but it worked and helped keep us cooler.

Cooling off by laying on the concrete floor

Cooling off by laying on the concrete floor

We also took “hits” of the compressed air from the SCBA. The full face masks we wore were interchangeable for either air purifying filters or for the hose from SCBA. In between tasks, we didn’t wear either. However, we would attach the SCBA for short periods of time because the compressed air blowing into your mask helps to cool you.

Cooling off by attaching the SCBA to the mask

Cooling off by attaching the SCBA to the mask

Another thing that should never be done at a real site was drinking water through the mask via a straw. Actually it might be acceptable to do this, assuming someone with clean hands put the straw in the bottle and then into your mask. It is not acceptable if you are doing this with your gloves.

Drinking water through the mask

Drinking water through the mask

For as hot as I was while in some of the PPE, I still had fun. I was out of the office, and that in itself was fun. Also, I learned a bit, and that is always fun.

SAS Macro to Validate CAS Registry Numbers

I wrote a simple and fairly short SAS macro to validate CAS Registry Numbers. I have gotten enough free SAS advice and a few macros from various internet sources, so I thought it only fair to share this if it of use to anyone. Hopefully the comments give ample information about what input is needed and what the output is. The macro will catch an invalid CAS RN if it is

  1. too long
  2. too short
  3. has all 0′s
  4. does not return the correct check digit based on CAS calculation

Information about proper CAS RNs can be found from ACS who produce CAS RNs. Contact me if you have questions about the macro or find an error with it.

*macro to determine if a CAS number is a valid CAS number;
*input is name of dataset to be examined where CAS numbers are character variables of variable name “CAS_number”;
*CAS number is inputed as character variable with associated hyphens;
*returns valid = 1 if CAS is valid and valid = 0 if invalid CAS;
*returns character variable “CAS” which will be CAS number with hyphens and no leading 0s;
%macro CASnumber_check(CAS_dataset);
data &CAS_dataset (drop = CAS_num CASlength R N1-N9 QR Q Rcheck j);
set &CAS_dataset;
CAS_num = compress(CAS_number,”-”);
CASlength = length(CAS_num);
R = input(substr(CAS_num,length(CAS_num)),8.);
QR = 0;
array N_(9) N1 – N9;
do j = 1 to 9;
if CASlength > j then N_(j) = input(substr(CAS_num,CASlength-j,1),8.);
else N_(j) = 0;
QR = QR + N_(j)*j;
end;
Q = int(QR/10);
Rcheck = QR – Q*10;
if Rcheck = R then valid = 1; else valid = 0;
if QR = 0 then valid = 0;
if CASlength < 5 then valid = 0;
if CASlength > 10 then valid = 0;
*builds character variable called CAS with no leading 0s;
if N9 ~= 0 then CAS = cats(N9,N8,N7,N6,N5,N4,N3,”-”,N2,N1,”-”,R);
else if N8 ~= 0 then CAS = cats(N8,N7,N6,N5,N4,N3,”-”,N2,N1,”-”,R);
else if N7 ~= 0 then CAS = cats(N7,N6,N5,N4,N3,”-”,N2,N1,”-”,R);
else if N6 ~= 0 then CAS = cats(N6,N5,N4,N3,”-”,N2,N1,”-”,R);
else if N5 ~= 0 then CAS = cats(N5,N4,N3,”-”,N2,N1,”-”,R);
else CAS = cats(N4,N3,”-”,N2,N1,”-”,R);
run;
%mend CASnumber_check;

 

%CASnumber_check(dataset name)