Jan 1, 2008

Blog closed during the holidays

The Blog will be closed December 24 through January 1, 2008. Regular Blog operations resume on Wednesday, January 2, 2008.

Well ok, not closed exactly. We'll be around to approve comments and post any news but we mostly plan on relaxing.

Merry Christmas everyone!

Questions, news tips: send an e-mail to Gussie or Pinky.

Photo (c) Eric Fairfield 2007


Anonymous said...

Everyone, have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful new year!

Or, if I may (mis)quote Tiny Tim, "God bless us everyone!"

Anonymous said...

I see some shiny new luxury cars on tap for certain good little PAD/AD boys and girls at LANL this year. The rest of you have been very bad and will get nothing.

- Santa

Anonymous said...

Well Doris Heim has her's already. Saw her driving around in a little silver Audi TT convertible. Her and Mickey are twins.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... Isn't Doris Heim the one responsible for Concur? She should be driving a junker.

Merry Christmas, Pinky and Gus! Your work is appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Pinky and Gus,

Amazing job at running this site, enjoy the well-deserved break. Have a great holiday!

Anonymous said...

Pinky and Gus:

Great job running the blog.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Anonymous said...

Thank-you for saying "Merry Christmas". I've been PC in the past years and wished everyone happy holidays - not this year. I too have been saying Merry Christmas. - So, Merry Christmas EVERYONE!

Anonymous said...

Sorry to interrupt the vacation, but people may be interested in today's NYT, "The Way We Live Now
Intimate Shopping"

Begin Quote:

The concept of “implicit contracts” was developed in a landmark 1988 paper by the economists Andrei Shleifer and Lawrence Summers. Their subject — hostile corporate takeovers — seems far from cyberprivacy, but it is not. Shleifer and Summers showed that increases in share price following takeovers were not due to gains in efficiency, as the defenders of those buyouts claimed. There often were such gains, but they were not the source of the profits. The profits came from reneging on implicit contracts — like the tradition of overpaying older workers who had been overworked when young on the understanding that things would even out later. These contracts, because implicit, were hard to defend in court. But the assets they protected were real. To profit from them, buyout artists had only to put someone in place who could, with a straight face and a clean conscience, say, “I didn’t promise nothin’!”

Anonymous said...

Oh, let's keep it PC, just for old times' sake!

Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, our best wishes
for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress,
non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice
holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious
persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with
respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of
others, or their choice not to observe religious or secular traditions
at all. We also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling
and medically uncomplicated recognition of the generally accepted
calendar year 2008, but not without due respect for the calendars of
choice of other cultures.

Anonymous said...

Thought this might interest those who took the RIF
Not sure where to post it but I figure you can find a place for it. You guys are doing a hell of a job with this Blog. Happy New Year:)


The Special LANS Retiree CD

If you've recently accepted a separation agreement from Los Alamos National Security, we have the perfect investment with guaranteed returns.

Our special-rate 5.5% APY* CD is available to LANS retirees with proof of separation agreement.

We appreciate all you've done for our nation and community.
At LANB, we're committed to helping you through this transition.

* No Penalty for early withdrawal
* 6-month CD
* Local service
* High yield
* FDIC Insured up to $100,000
* No minimum balance required to open or maintain rate

*Annual Percentage Yield

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the great work, kids.

Merry Mithras!

Anonymous said...

Not to criticize, but you sure don't meet my definition of "CLOSE FOR THE HOLIDAYS."

Keep up the good work.

Anonymous said...

Pinky and Gus,

Many thanks for all of your work.

I wish we didn't live in such challenging times.

Happy Holidays

Anonymous said...

I'll add my thanks for your considerable efforts on this blog!

Nice photo, Eric!

Anonymous said...

I'd like to wish Pinky, Gussie, and all of my former associates at LANL the very best in the New Year.

That said, as a former resident and coworker who really likes most of the people who work at the lab and live in LA, I'd like to throw out a new topic that integrates most of the current blog discussions into a single question.

The Lab, NNSA, and the state for that matter, have all been given a budget reprieve for at least 9 months (yeah I know it wasn’t great, but it was a lot better than it could have been). St. Pete has probably pulled the last few rabbits out of a magic hat that will disappear for good sometime within the next year. By February 2009, New Mexico will have ZERO congressional representatives with seniority, ONE (generally uninterested in pork) Senator with some seniority, and a DOE/NNSA that is midway through the 18-24 month “make no decisions” mode that they always retreat to over a change of administration. In summary, this time next year the Lab will probably be implementing massive personnel cuts to balance a grossly reduced (-50%?) budget; Sandia will be experiencing some of the same; projects, pork and earmarks from Federal agencies that affect ALL regions of the state will be reduced or under fire; and nobody who counts for score in DC will care about how tough life is out on the mesa. What will YOU -- LANS employees and Los Alamos residents -- do? The clock is ticking. You have nine months to develop and implement a plan. Nobody is going to do it for you. And while you deserve better, nobody outside of Northern New Mexico is losing sleep over the fate of LANL.

Anonymous said...

No offense, 10:47, but why do the employees of LANL "deserve better"? Entitlement? What have they done to help prevent the changes that brought LANL to its current state?

I'll answer that for you: nothing.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 12/29/07 7:47 AM writes "What have they done to help prevent the changes that brought LANL to its current state?"

What could the employees have done?

We wrote letters to our congressmen. That did no good. They didn't care.

A few of us quit. Nobody cared about that either.

What did the employees at Livermore do about the same thing?

Anonymous said...

OK 7:47, I’ll try to answer the entitlement question for you.

While I really do like most of the people at LANL, I don’t for a minute believe that they or anyone else is entitled to anything, least of all continued employment for life at whatever it is they would prefer to spend their time doing.

My original post, which reflects my belief that LANL contains a significant fraction of our country’s intellectual capital ---literally some of the best and brightest (although they’re leaving fast) --- was intended to try to steer the discussion on the blog away from pro/con arguments over all of the various machinations of LANS and NNSA, and toward discussion of what you’re all going to do when Domenici’s funding machine grinds to a halt. It’s going to happen. It’s a national tragedy. But its going to happen.

The LANL staff and LA Council can piss away the remaining 9 mos. (or 19 months at best) of funding arguing with each other about whether pit production makes more sense than basic science, and whether NNSA should be funding more items from column A than column B. But the harsh reality is that when the cash machine stops, you’re going to be looking at a Lab that gets something like 50% of the dollars it gets today. And make no mistake, it won’t matter whether that 50% is spent entirely on Pit production, Basic Science, or a mixture of both --- you’re going to get 50%.

So once again LA, you have the highest concentration of smart people on the planet. What are you going to do? What’s your plan?

Anonymous said...

"So once again LA, you have the highest concentration of smart people on the planet. What are you going to do? What’s your plan?"

I think I see part of the problem -- an over-inflated sense of importance and smarts.

Most of the better (I won't say smarter) people that I knew when I worked at LANL have already left, 11:53. Admittedly, that's only ~30 - 35 people, but if I know that many good staff who are no longer there, then lots more than that have already voted with their feet.

Making strategic decisions regarding the future direction of a place like LANL, or Sandia, takes commitment and time. Sandia started planning for this moment about 8 years ago, and as a result are much better positioned to deal with the current situation.

LANL has neither time nor commitment. About the only goal that LANL staff can accomplish other then developing individual exit strategies is to moan and wring their hands. And there has already been plenty of that.

Anonymous said...

LANL is not looking at a 50% reduction in our funding for next year. We have enough stress to deal with at the moment without people like 11:53 AM pouring gasoline on a bad situation.

Yes, there will be more layoffs at LANL. Worse case is that we'll probably be looking at a lab with 25% fewer workers and this is going to happen sooner rather than later. We'll probably see layoffs in FY08, FY09, and maybe even FY10. There is little that LANL or its staff can do about the matter. These decisions are made at a level way beyond our control. As bad as a 25% reduction over 3 years may sound, it is not 50%. LANL will survive through this difficult period. It will be smaller when the dust finally settles. If you have the means to leave and don't wish to deal with the continuous turmoil, then by all means find a better and saner place to work. Other than that, we'll all just have to muddle through the coming financial storms as best we can.

Anonymous said...

As the Lab loses programmatic dollars, staffing is reduced, and the footprint is scaled back (maybe a lot), there will be a fairly long-lived spike of a different flavor of funding for:

- Dismantling and packaging equipment and hardware for relocation to other NNSA sites as part of Complex Transformation - examples include CEF (the criticality machines will be going in the near future) and DARHT (to be relocated to the NTS by 2015)
- Dismantling equipment and hardware currently taking up valuable space in order to accommodate equipment being relocated to LANL in support of pit manufacturing
- Decontaminating and decommissioning large amounts of square footage throughout the Lab as buildings are vacated (Bechtel Nevada earned a lot of fee doing just that at the NTS between 1996 and 2006)
- Waste management and environmental restoration
- New construction in support of pit manufacturing

In addition, it takes an awful lot of engineering expertise just to keep the specialized facilities and equipment up and running to support the remaining programmatic work.

The skills required to support all of the above are generally highly technical in nature. As such, the slant will be much more towards engineers, and less towards scientists. So the mix will change but, after a temporary drop, the funding may pick up again for quite a few years. There will still be a wealth of employment opportunities for those interested in that type of work.

Just my prediction based on my 50+ years living and working in Los Alamos.

Anonymous said...

"The skills required to support all of the above are generally highly technical in nature. As such, the slant will be much more towards engineers, and less towards scientists. So the mix will change but, after a temporary drop, the funding may pick up again for quite a few years. There will still be a wealth of employment opportunities for those interested in that type of work."

Interesting prediction, 7:11.

Isn't this the type of work for which Bechtel, BWXT and WG are known?

Would you expect them to fill openings with their own employees? I've met people at the GL level from the parent companies who have experience related to this type of work.

Anonymous said...

I can't see "relocating" DARHT in the sense of loading the hardware onto trucks. Besides, Complex Reconfiguration specifially called for LANL to continue "contained" high explosive experiments.

As in "vessel shots."

Anonymous said...

PTLA becomes SOC - Los Alamos Monitor, Dec 30th

Signage, uniforms, vehicles and most everything else reflecting the familiar Protection Technology Los Alamos Inc. (PTLA) logo is changing to SOC, which according to a company spokesperson are simply initials.

"SOC is not an acronym - it's the name we're branding our government security division," said Maureen Omrod, director of public relations for PLTA's parent company Day & Zimmermann Inc., (D&Z). "It's a name used by the minority partner coming into this, SOC-SMG of Minden, Nev."

...Headquartered in Hawthorne, Nev., the SOC-SMG training center, High Desert Special Operations Center (HDSOC) is the largest, most comprehensive security training facility west of the Mississippi, according to the company. It comprises more than 4,000 acres of varying terrain, several multi-purpose pneumatic and flat ranges, special purpose training munitions, simulator systems, and state-of-the-art classrooms.

...From 1992 to the present, PTLA has provided physical security services to LANL under a subcontract most recently worth some $40 million for four years.


Wow, only $40 million for the SOC/PTLA security contract? KSL burned through that much just using their sleazy 'over-charge' accounts last year!!!

Anonymous said...

"Besides, Complex Reconfiguration specifially called for LANL to continue "contained" high explosive experiments."

That's correct - for quite a while. Under the Preferred Alternative a DARHT-like capability would be established at the NTS around 2025 - way after I'm retired for good.

From the Preferred Alternative:

"Hydrodynamic Testing. Cease open-air hydrotesting at LANL and LLNL in 2009, and conduct future open-air hydrotesting at NTS. Consolidate in-place LANL and LLNL hydrotesting facilities. Close CFF at LLNL in approximately 2015 which could enable transfer or closure of Site 300. As the LANL Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test (DARHT) facility approaches end of life in approximately 2025, plan for a next generation facility at the NTS."

I imagine there's a very good chance the "next generation facility" will use proton radiography technology instead of X-rays. So somewhere along the line, NNSA will have to fund additional R&D (under the "Advanced Radiography" campaign?) to further develop the technology and construct an initial facility to demonstrate the single-axis capability. Gaining support for funding such a facility will not be easy, but if funded, could open up some more employment opportunities.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't help but listen in on a conversation at Smith's Grocery today of a 40-something woman talking to a friend about how her husband was close to accepting a position at "The University of...".

Seems like escape from Los Alamos is on a lot of people's minds these days. One way or another, the best and the brightness are all looking for ways to get out of town.

Anonymous said...

It's time for everyone's New Year's Predictions!

Here's my prediction. Mike will resign as LANL Director shortly after June 1, 2008. On that date he will have met his 2 year LANS contractual agreement to serve as LANL's Director. He'll take a nice position with his friends over at LLNS after he leaves LANL.

Rumors of Mike's plans to leave LANL will circulate around the lab, but Mike will down play them by constantly telling everyone:

"I am not leaving LANL and have no plans to leave LANL."

By the late summer of this next year, he'll leave LANL.

Anonymous said...

New year, new job? Resolve to search seriously
- Experts say be deliberate in deciding what you want and how to achieve it


By Eve Tahmincioglu
MSNBC contributor
updated 2:22 p.m. MT, Sun., Dec. 30, 2007

When you ring in the New Year tonight and decide in your excitement to make some resolutions there is one you shouldn’t include: Finding a new job.

I know, it’s one of your biggest goals, but resist adding it to a list of resolutions you’re probably never going to follow through on in 2008.

Only about 15 percent of such resolutions have long term success, says Stephen Kraus, author of “Psychological Foundations of Success: A Harvard-Trained Scientist Separates the Science of Success from Self-Help Snake Oil.”

“People don’t really come up with a plan for executing their New Years resolutions. They just think, ‘I’m going to make big changes this year,” he explains.


The key is putting in the time to really understand what you want, Remling advises.

To that end, she offers individuals a four-point process to figuring that out:

1. With pen and paper, or laptop, go to a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Picture yourself doing exactly what you would like to be doing in your next job or career. Go all the way to possibility: Don’t limit yourself. Begin writing out in detail the vision you want to create. Don't hold back — just let it flow and go as big as you can with it.

2. Clarity is in the details. It’s not just the big idea that’s important, but what you do with your idea, how you pursue it, who you enlist for help, the way you execute, etc. Think about (and write out) all aspects of what you want to do. Think about the impact you want to have, the attributes of your ideal job and the people you want surrounding you. Think about your perfect office. Think about the income you want to create, your lifestyle and time for your family. Think about how it feels. Think about how your day will flow. It’s yours to create.

3. Now, it’s time to organize. Read what you’ve written and summarize it into a single page in present tense as if you were realizing your vision right now. Why present tense? Because in order to understand and articulate your vision, you have to feel it. And, in order to feel it, you have to stop focusing on what you want (i.e. don’t have) and visualize yourself actually doing the things you’ve imagined.

4. With a clear, articulate vision intact, it’s time to put it to work. Take a few minutes every morning to read your vision summary and — most importantly — feel it. You don’t have to spend a lot of time. Once you get the hang of it, a few minutes will get you in the right mindset. From there, create a to-do list of high value activities that get you closer to your vision. What small steps can you take today? Over time, your vision will probably change. Go with it. Let your passion and vision evolve.


Somehow, I doubt that 6 month shut-downs, layoff stress, and crazy new policies are part of anyone's vision of the perfect job. Do your homework, though, and remember what others have been saying on this blog. There is life after LANL. Some have reported it can even be a much better life.

Good luck and best wishes to everyone in 2008!

Anonymous said...

# 12/31/07 2:38 PM

Yeah, the probability is high that Las Vegas won´t accept that as a bet.

And then LANL is saved by the previous bidder Los Alamos Alliance, e.g. Lockheed Martin/UT, this is a script that the screenwriters of Hollywood (now on strike) could´nt figure out, even if every screenwriter had n+1 lives.

(Pinky and Gus, Thanks for great work, and Happy New Year!)

Anonymous said...

I'm reading "Lifelines for Money Misfortunes: How to Overcome Life's Greatest Challenges" and am finding many of the guidelines to be very helpful as I consider where this next year may lead our family and many others around us.

The core message centers around the following rules to follow when your life has taken a turn toward disaster:

- Accept the problem and own the solution
- Unburden yourself
- Diagnose the impact
- Take your financial pulse
- Start palliative measures
- Launch revenue rehabilitation
- Cultivate antibodies

The book describes 33 "Lifelines" that include many catastrophes including "You've Lost Your Job". Using the above, accept that LANS is what/who it is (even if they're going to be a largely shifting entity with people from parent corps doing 2-year stints here and not seeming to be vested in the community...) and accept that you're being cut loose to seek the next green pasture. Unburden yourself by sharing the concern in healthy ways - tell those who are in your life rather than bottling up or swallowing the fear, anger or other emotions. Determining the impact is a tough pill to swallow and tied in with the financial pulse-taking if you're a home owner in the LA market because if your home isn't going to sell in a reasonable amount of time (a huge unknown), you could be in for a rough and unpredictable ride. Launching revenue rehabilitation is probably going to be dependent on moving to your next job opportunity, if you've got one lined up, and get back to earning enough income quickly. How much that will need to be in dollars depends on whether you're staying here in town (and thus won't necessarily be selling your home) or moving to an area where the cost of living is markedly lower without your income declining too far.

Cultivating antibodies strikes me as one of the best ideas and to me this means trying to not allow one's life to center around a company town with a politically-charged existence an aging advocate. I'm not sure I would know everything I'd need to do or be aware of in the next go 'round, but perhaps being more aware will allow many of us to be more agile and adept at mitigating personal crises when industry or employment changes are beyond our control.

Anonymous said...

> I imagine there's a very good
> chance the "next generation
> facility" will use proton
> radiography technology instead of
> X-rays.

Yeah. That'll be part of MaRIE.

Salvenos, Santa MaRIE-a.

Eric said...

To 3:46,

Thank you very much for the post, especially during the holidays.

I will try to find the book. Mesa Public Library does not seem to have it. I have a number of related books if someone wants to borrow them.

The advice that you laid out is the same advice that has been successful in many places. It is the only advice that seems to work. Friends who used to be here have taken it. It is very hard to get yourself to do the necessary work, but the payoff is huge.

The part about antibodies slowed me down in my reading. :-P

Then I realized why I slowed down. I am a biologist and have been a professional antibody guy for years. I wandered off in the wrong direction of thought. I has thinking about the three dimensional structure of an antibody and the disease multiple myeloma.

Fortunately, you brought me back on track. ;-)

Anonymous said...

2008 Prediction:

Yet another major story with bad press for LANL will emerge via leaks using POGO's pipeline over in DOE HQ which will cause Congress to hold more hearings. During these hearings, Congressman Stupak will again shout, "Shut the place down!"