Thursday, December 29, 2011

Coffee, anyone?

After a long weekend, one of my co-workers from ATC Associates encountered this.

All she wanted was a nice cup of coffee from her Keurig machine, but she had to spend a while cleaning the cup out until she decided it was safe to drink out of.

But she was kind enough to let me take a picture. Cheers!

Monday, December 26, 2011


I am a fan of the word "snark."

I was asked by a client to provide a definition of it, but I found a definition at that I feel sums up my usage of the word.

"SNARK: verbal ingenuineness that is brief, subtle, yet quite stabbing. snark is often marked by deep creativity & use of psychological attack. It employs coldbloodedness and is best served unprovoked. Snark can contain hidden complimentary meaning under a mean face, but it hurts more than it strengthens.

usu found in adjective form: 'snarky': making use of snark."

Using it in a sentence: The Industrious Hygienist sometimes makes snarky remarks about the Asbestos Beast and its inability to be consistent in scheduling attacks.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Because I am too lazy (and cheap) to send a card to everyone I know...

Happy Holidays from the Industrious Hygienist, her fantastic husband, and her crazy dog.

The adventures will continue in 2012.

This is the front of the card.

This is the inside of the card.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Holiday Manga - Part 3

Enjoy the third and final installment of the Holiday Mangas, encompassing Days 9 through 12 (and the day after Christmas) of the "12 Days of Christmas: Preparation for the Holidays Industrious Hygienist (IH) Style!"

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I am amused by weird things.

Everybody wants a little Chin Fo.

This is my neighborhood Asian restaurant, and something about the sign caused me to giggle non-stop while I was trying to order Pad Thai and Mongolian Beef for lunch today. They're used to seeing me or my husband at least every other week, so they probably just thought I was being extra friendly and smiley. But you know the truth. Chin Fo. I'm grinning like an idiot just writing this.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Abandoned industrial buildings are cool.

Something about abandoned industrial buildings captures my interest.

 Maybe its because they used to serve an important purpose, and now they just take up space and rust away. Maybe its because they serve as a record of older technology, and the wanna-be archaeologist/anthropologist/engineer in me wants to figure out how the machine worked and why they switched to new technology.

Either way, these old scrubbers are abandoned in place, and they're tall and imposing. Part of me wanted to get closer, climb inside, and check it out.

The wise/obedient part of me decided that the pictures would have to be enough. I didn't feel like risking tetanus (dirt + rust), histoplasmosis (bird poop), spider bites, cuts from sharp edges of equipment, or disciplinary action from the client.

But I can't get over how cool the derelict scrubbers were.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Holiday Manga - Part 2

Here are Days 3 through 8 of the "12 Days of Christmas: Preparation for the Holidays Industrious Hygienist (IH) Style!"

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Alaskan Malamute

If you refer to the "About Me" section on this blog, you'll probably find mention of my Alaskan Malamute.

His name is Shadow, and he is AWESOME. Yeah, most pet owners say their dog is awesome, but mine is. For seriously.

Here's five reasons why:
1.) He is taller than me when he stands up. We can dance if we want to...(we can leave our friends behind...) I am a safety professional by trade, and The Safety Dance song (linked above) is one of my fav goofy songs.

2.) He is an adept sponge, dish towel, hot pad, and food stealer. But when I give him my evil eye/glare, he runs outside and drops it in the mud for me to retrieve.

3.) He makes friends with everyone and everything that isn't a Rottweiler. All his lady friends at Camp Bow Wow and the staff there say he is quite a charmer.

4.) He has forced me to go out and met my neighbors and be all social on our daily walkabouts.

5.) He lets us sit on his couch from time to time.

This is what my husband brought home. SUPER CUTE.

Now that he has entered his teenage years, he's depressed and hates his job so much that he lays on his couch and cries.
I'm just kidding - he doesn't have a job. :) He's completely spoiled. We dressed him up as a pharmacy technician to see how well he fit into husband's clothes. Sometimes we're weird people. Our dog has his own Ikea couch. Enough said.

Holiday Manga - Part 1

So, somewhere around Thanksgiving I got it in my head that I needed to do a series of Holiday Mangas. This has lead to approximately 6 to 8 hours of time per drawing (a.k.a. my last few weekends), but I am pretty proud of them.

Introducing the "12 Days of Christmas: Preparation for the Holidays Industrious Hygienist (IH) Style!"

Sing along (if you're alone and no one can hear how ridiculous you sound) to the well-known tune of "The 12 Days of Christmas."

Monday, December 12, 2011

Weirdest sample to date

One of my co-workers from ATC Associates brought back a sample of stucco/lathe that had fallen down from an understairs closet in a historic building in central Phoenix, Arizona.

I was supposed to take a sample of the lovely salmon-colored paint *sarcasm alert* for lead paint analysis, and then split the paint/surfacing/plaster into three samples for asbestos analysis.

I wanted to take a picture of it because it was the weirdest sample I have seen yet. The stringy things stretching out of the sample are most likely horsehair or goat hair.

A cursory Wikipedia search for "horsehair plaster" explained to me that horsehair has been commonly used in plaster until about 1950. I will say that the sample smelled weird, felt weird, and was extra crumbly (in asbestos language, we refer to things that can be crushed with moderate hand pressure as FRIABLE materials).

The sample came back with no asbestos detected (yay) but it did have Lead-Containing Paint (LCP). LCP is paint that contains lead less than 0.5% by weight (500 parts per million) or 1.0 milligram per square centimeter. The issue with LCP is that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) and Housing and Urban Development (HUD) industry standard practices do not technically apply. The only guidance that the Client needed to use for the restoration project in the understairs closet was the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards for lead in construction.

But I still say it was a weird sample. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Spiders! ZOMG.

I love Arizona - I have lived here my whole life (except for a five-year stint in Mission Viejo, California).

I especially love rainstorms. Up by Meteor Crater along the I-40, in the northeastern part of the state, you can experience some spectacular storms.

This year's Monsoon was pathetic, and I am still hopeful for some good winter rains down in Phoenix.

But while I was driving back to my hotel in Holbrook, I pulled off to the side of the road to get this shot. It didn't quite capture the amazing way the sheets of rain colored the sky with every shade of the rainbow, or how ominous the thunderclouds were, and how still the high desert was. We even got some quality hail during that storm.

I arrived at the Site the next day to do some asbestos sampling of a two-level roof on a control room building. My co-worker and I had been up there just before the storm started rolling in the night before, and there were NO spiders anywhere to be seen. We were warned to keep an eye out, but we didn't see any webs or creepy-crawlies on either roof.

When we got up to the roof in the early morning, we saw this giant arachnid monstrosity waiting at the top of the stairs. We both shuddered with the heebie-jeebies and stepped around the crazy spider.

But then we took a look around the roof, and were amazed to see that it was covered in shimmering, dew-laden spiderwebs. I tried to think of it as a scene right out of Charlotte's Web, but instead I was having flashbacks to Arachnophobia.

Here's another view of my arch-nemesis. It was not a Black Widow or a Brown Recluse, but I kept my distance.

I have tentatively identified it as an Orb-Weaver Spider, which is apparently a (and I shudder to write this) friendly spider. It rarely bites and is a pretty chill spider. Makes fancy webs and such. G-d must have thought it funny to give these spiders such scary markings and then have them be Mostly Harmless.

But there were spiders everywhere. Co-worker and I guessed that the rain brought them out, but we had no idea they could spin webs that fast. Every girder, pipe, and railing had webs spun to it with spiders soaking in the early morning sun.

It made for an exciting morning of asbestos sampling, since we didn't know that most of the spiders we were encountering were harmless. We kept dodging the rain puddles and trying not to whack our heads on all the overhanging piping, all the while looking for webs to avoid.

Just for the amusement factor, I took a snapshot of the Health and Safety Plan (HASP) we filled out in the morning before starting work. "Insects" is an understatment. I tried to find the one where I wrote "ZOMG giant spiders" but I think I re-wrote it to make it look a tad more professional. :)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Personal Milestone

I reached a non-important personal milestone on Tuesday. I managed to capture the moment my odometer reached 66,666 miles. This doesn't mean anything crazy or demonic or whatever. There's a couple extra sixes in there for good measure.

This is not important to anyone but me, but I have been trying to photograph a neat-o sequence of numbers on my odometer since I bought my first car in 2000. It's very difficult to do if you are the driver and rarely have passengers.

Ironically, I was going about 66 mph when I took the photo:
66mph at 66,666 miles!
Pulled over for this picture.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

"Hmmm, your characters look a lot like another manga I have seen..."

I need to give kudos where kudos are due. (Now I want a KUDOS bar, dangit!)

Until I get better at drawing, my characters will continue to resemble the characters of Fullmetal Alchemist (FMA to crazy fans like me), my #1 favorite manga and anime. #2 is Vampire Knight, which I am only slightly embarassed to admit.

Hiromu Arakawa is responsible for both writing and drawing FMA, and she is amazing. No copyright infringement intended, or any of that legal nonsense. Every artist knows that you only get better at something the more you do it, and the best way to improve is to replicate the work of artists you enjoy. So the better I get, the less my characters in The Industrious Hygienist will look like FMA.

On a side note, my husband and I attended the Phoenix Comicon in May 2011, and I had the opportunity to meet Vic Mignogna, the talented voice actor for Edward Elric from FMA and Zero Kiryu from Vampire Knight. We waited in line for about an hour and a half to meet him and have him sign one of my FMA books, and it was worth it! He was the most pleasant individual I have met in a long time. They were selling his CDs while we were in line, and I was able to get the last one (which made the teenagers behind me very sad). We're going again in 2012 and hope to see Vic and Michael Stackpole (fantabulous author from Phoenix) there.

The reason for the LONG break between posts...

I spent the last few months studying for the CIH exam. I took it on November 16, 2011. The American Board of Industrial Hygiene (ABIH) set the passing score for the exam at 68.6% and I scored a 66.3%. I only scored a 60% in Spring 2011, so yay for improvement! But I need to get that extra few points and my studying needs to take a different approach.

Topics that need some love:
- Air Sampling and Instrumentation
- Community Exposure
- Work Environment and Industrial Processes
- Ergonomics
- Thermal Stressors
- Management
- Toxicology

I have decided to take the Bowen EHS CIH online review course to give me that extra edge. :) All month, I have been receiving emails from other participants in the Bowen EHS Premium Membership/Resource Center, saying that they passed the test thanks to Russ Bowen's fantastic review course.

In addition to that, I plan to draw mangas about the topics I seem to have issues with, and I started this weekend. Please enjoy The Industrious Hygienist: "The Noise Source - Part One" below.

So wish me luck, and watch for many more mangas!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Old Adventure in Willcox, Arizona

I first joined ATC Associates in  November after 4.5 years with another environmental consulting company. Not long after I started with ATC, I was sent to perform some respirable/silica dust monitoring at a zeolite mine in Bowie, Arizona with a co-worker. It's pronounced Boo-ee by locals (apparently), but I chose to say it like David Bowie. David Bowie makes me think of the movie Labyrinth, which makes me think of Muppets, which makes me very happy.

So the manager at the site told us that there was not much in Bowie in the way of food/gas/anything. We thought he was just being hyperbolic or funny ["hyperbolic" links to one of my favorite blogs, Hyperbole and a Half]. Turns out that it is true - Bowie has a gas station that is open at pretty random hours and a post office that is impossible to distinguish from the rest of the low-rise buildings, and nothing else. We somehow found the post office and met the contact there at 5-ish in the morning.

Then I hopped in a truck with a complete stranger (he's super nice, but still!) and my co-worker attempted to follow us through a giant dust cloud kicked up by our tires in the pitch black and freezing early morning. The mine itself was nothing more than a shallow hole in the ground with no power or running water. The miners basically scraped off the overburden (dirt that is overlaying the zeolite vein) with a diesel-powered Bobcat, exposing the zeolite vein. Then the workers manually scraped the residual dirt and ash (zeolite forms from volcanic ash + alkaline groundwater) with picks and then sledgehammered the vein into smaller pieces. The workers pretty much broke rocks all day long.

Co-worker and I figured,"Surely there's a McDonald's or Burger King or something in Bowie that we didn't see on the way in," so around lunchtime, we found our way back to Bowie. Like I said above, no food and the gas station was closed. We made the decision to drive to the nearest town (about 40 miles away from where we were) and visit lovely Willcox, Arizona.

We were beyond stoked to see the following:

Co-worker decided that she absolutely HAD to eat there and take pictures. How often do you get a chance to eat in an old dining car? The restaurant is called The Dining Car and the BBQ is pretty tasty.

I vaguely remember getting a pork BBQ brisket and about a gallon of Pepsi, with some green beans or something. By the time we got to Willcox, I was so hungry, I might have even settled for Carl's Jr. (personal note: I do not like eating at Carl's Jr...ever)

Walking back to the Jeep after stuffing our faces, we saw this:

We think it used to be an old phone booth (Cold War era), and it is located next to City Hall. I wanted it to be a time machine or one of those super-secret spy entrances. Nothing in it seemed functional and it was made of really sturdy metal. Maybe a voting booth? Or a telegraph station?

We also saw a sign at the entrance to City Hall which made both of us chuckle. And re-listening to Ace of Base's The Sign while typing this is also making me laugh, since it was the second tape I ever owned, and I have every song memorized to freakish perfection.

And that ended our adventure in Willcox, Arizona. We headed back to the mine and spent the afternoon driving between the mine sites and trying to find a spot where our cell phones would at least pick up a roaming signal. We drove back to Tempe, Arizona and as soon as I got home, I took an extra-long shower and washed my clothes twice (no power and no running water at site + Industrious Hygienist's obsessive need to be clean = minor spaz attack).

On an industrial hygiene side, the *primitive* methods of mining used at the site (pretty similar to a chain gang a la Les Miserables, not including the Bobcat) resulted in minimal respirable dust exposure to the workers and silica levels barely above the laboratory limit of detection.

More manga coming soon - they take forever to draw, but I just bought this awesome software called Manga Studio Debut that will make it easier and faster. All I have to get now is a graphics tablet and I will be all set!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Industrious Hygienist vs. Monsoon [manga]

Hidden in the desert sands of Phoenix, Arizona, the Industrious Hygienist waits patiently. Although she is a peaceful person by nature, she has developed several arch-nemeses during the course of her conquests. The Monsoon has returned to ravage her city, and she must be prepared to rescue its unsuspecting victims.

The Monsoon brought several friends along for the rampage - the Dust Devil and the Rain Monster. When they work together, these three are seemingly unstoppable. No property is safe from their wily ways! Monday night witnessed a joint attack by the Dust Devil and the Rain Monster.

The Industrious Hygienist wants to warn her fellow Arizonans about the dangers of the Monsoon. The obvious dangers are heat, lightning, wind/dust storms, and flash floods.


The Monsoon frequently causes an increase in the number of complaints about indoor environmental/air quality, due to the increased humidity and dusty conditions outside. Arizonans should be ready for this and have an indoor environmental professional (IEP) on call to provide peace of mind for you or your tenants.


Since the Monsoon joins up with the Dust Devil winds and the Rain Monster, flooding and water damage from roof leaks are common. If not dealt with promptly (within 24-72 hours) and properly (by a qualified restoration contractor), water damage can lead to mold growth in affected areas.