( – promoted by buhdydharma )
S : 32.065
Smells like rotten eggs, that’s how you can tell if you have it on your hands or not.
Burnt match heads and chewed fingernails smell like sulfur too.
One of the times my family drove cross country we stopped at Yellowstone national park. Besides the geysers I remember most vividly the sulfur pits. The smell and heat and fumes bubbling up out of the mud. It was like walking on a distant planet. There were also roaming buffalo (or bison?), and like all roaming and free animals they do what they please. One in particular followed a woman to an outhouse and just stood there. All 900 lbs (according to Oregon Trail) just hanging out in front of the outhouse door. She started screaming and park rangers had to rescue her from the harmless immobile buffalo by yelling at it and wishing it would move. I didn’t really think buffalo hung around sulfur pits.
Maybe they just did it for the laughs.
There’s a reaction I do at work involving sulfuric acid and peroxide that used to terrify me. It requires 3 layers of gloves, 2 lab coats (including 1 purple neoprene suit dubbed ‘Barney’), goggles and a face shield. It can digest pretty much anything besides glass, including skin and bone and will react violently if you’re not careful. Even containing the waste is dangerous because it will outgas for weeks afterwards. One of the first times I was doing it on my own the reactants mixed late and I saw what an ‘overzealous’ reaction looked like. I kept it under control but it took me months to get over the fear again. Which really surprised me. For a while I would physically shake at just the thought of running it.
I’ve only hurt myself once in a lab though. While heating mineral oil to 250 C in an overly complicated glassware apparatus I removed the bottom flask and it brushed up against my other hand. Before I knew what happened my arm was pulling back and I was washed over in this sudden and overwhelmingly warm wave of shock. I’ve hurt myself before, but this was different. I felt eerily calm and focused for a short period during and after, didn’t spill, didn’t panic, didn’t scream, didn’t cry. Just reacted.
The glass left an absolutely perfect circle burnt into my skin for months afterwards before it eventually faded. I had a sort of fascination with it and of all the scars I have that was the only one I wish would have stayed.
But now I’ve finally conquered my fear of death. Well, ok, my fear of death by uncontrolled chemical reaction, but I’ve developed a new fear of the cute guy who works in the polymer lab next door. I’ve been accidentally staring at him for months. Originally I wanted to steal the comfy looking chairs that inhabited the empty office space. Since there’s a huge window running the length of the lab space, every time I pass by I feel the need to look in and see what’s going on. Now it’s fully occupied by equipment, chairs, and lab techs. And the cute guy in the lab coat and latex gloves that always catches me looking at him. It’s gone on so long that we both do this awkward smiling at each other thing like idiots and now sometimes we even make stupid small talk in the hallway. For all the clever and amusing thoughts in my head I say dumb things like ‘thank god’ when he says ‘it’s almost Friday’ while fumbling for his keys. I might as well have just asked him about the weather.
Lately I’ve been thinking that people who enjoy working in labs have a slow death wish. Sort of like smokers…..(I used to defend one with the other). You can’t really blame them though…between the pollution in the air, the contaminants in food, lead in products, medications, george bush…..every time you turn around you’re letting something slowly kill you. I just like to know I’m the one in control of slowly killing myself. It makes me feel comfortable.
I ultimately quit though because of other people’s perception of me as a smoker. It’s not socially acceptable anymore and if I want to live the life I’ve been working for I can’t be a smoker. I just can’t. So I spent a few months mentally preparing myself and quit over the holidays. It’s felt like loosing the only thing I’ve every truly loved (chemically speaking). Bummer.
So now I just breathe in burning polymer, nitric fumes and rotten eggs all day while being exposed to low grade e. coli and staph from my microbial co-worker and running life threatening chemical reactions.
I have been eating more fresh fruit lately though and practicing stress reduction techniques. Like not following the primaries and sleeping 8 hours a night. So I’m hoping it will all just cancel out and that what I’m doing can constitute a healthy living in some alternate reality. Like people who order a diet coke at mcDonald’s.
I guess you do need to start somewhere.