Monday, August 6, 2007

In my perfect world you always know to cut the red wire first.

February-ish 2007

(old post from the myspace)

Yesterday I started to write a new blog entry. It started like this: Well, it's been ages since my last entry but I haven't had any misdemeanors to report.

It's like I willed it to happen. I finished the first sentence and then walked into the lab tissue culture room to set some media warming while I finished my blog. The three other graduate students who I work with were already in the room.

"Just ask everyone!" one student was saying to another.

"Nooooo, that's too weird" the other one replied.

"Ask people what?" I asked.

The first student turned to me and said, "She had some NutriGrain bars and a magazine in her desk that went missing. You haven't seen them have you?"
I laughed and said that I hadn't. Because I'm a jerk I asked what flavor the bars were and told her that she shouldn't have gay porn magazines in her desk anyway. Then, because I'm a really big jerk, I offered to sell the missing bars back to her at a considerable mark-up. The whole point was to tease my labmate about the possibility of someone stealing three NutriGrain bars out of her desk. I mean…they aren't even tasty. She took it in good humor so I asked around the rest of the lab. No one had the NutriGrain bars. The magazine turned out to be a Dell Computers catalogue so that also seemed like a pretty lame item to steal.

We were in the middle of writing a message on a board in the hallway ("did you enjoy the Nutrigrain bars and the Dell Magazine?") and continuing to tease my labmate about her loss (maybe the thief has a crush on you and they are making a shrine!) when a technician in our lab mentioned that she was missing some popcorn out of her desk too. I am really fortunate to work with people whom I trust and respect so at no point did any of us think that it was the work of somebody actually in the lab but we did start to feel creeped out.

I sat down to finish my blog entry, now with exciting news to report, and decided to put my ipod on for inspiration. My ipod was not in my desk and neither was the cord that goes with the ipod, nor the earphones. I informed my boss and called campus police. The man on the other end of the line told me that it might be a while. Half an hour went by and our post-doc discovered that his laptop was missing. Another graduate student was missing a T-shirt and a pair of socks from a desk. Now I felt terrible for teasing about the NutriGrain bars.

I called the police to report the other thefts. We were informed that it would be a while longer before someone could come out to take our report but they couldn't tell us how long it would be.

"Look" the officer said "I don't want to tell you that it will be ten minutes if it might be eleven".

I tell him that we can handle waiting for an extra minute; it's the difference of hours that we're trying to ascertain.

"Yeah, I can't tell you that." He says that the UAB police were all dealing with an incident and they wouldn't be able to help us any time soon. We decide to leave. One of my labmates gives me a ride to my car and on our way there we can see that two city blocks are barricaded and completely saturated with emergency vehicles. Here is what they were doing instead of taking our report…

Police Detonate Suspicious Package At UAB
Friday, Jan 26, 2007 - 12:15 PM by Chris Pallone
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- Just after four on Thursday, UAB students left their classes and discovered chaos.
Police got a report of a 'suspicious package' inside the engineering building at the corner of 11th avenue and 13th street south. Streets around many UAB buildings, including the Alys Stephens center, were back open about three hours after the bomb scare ended.

The scare disrupted rush hour traffic, students couldn't get to their cars or classes.

Birmingham and UAB police shut down at least six blocks of the University's downtown campus.

Fire trucks, Haz-Mat vehicles and police cars were scattered everywhere.

Curious onlookers didn't know what was going on.

"I didn't know what to make of it. I just hoped it wasn't in the building I was in." said Heather Torbert a UAB student.

Heather Torbert soon learned police were investigating a suspicious package. Someone had discovered what looked like a bomb in a knapsack, just inside the entrance of a UAB engineering building.

A bomb squad member dressed in a heavy protective suit went in and out of the building several times examining the device. Around 6:30 p.m., they pulled it out onto 13th street and destroyed it.

"We did trigger the device and it turned out not to be real," said Henry Irby from the Birmingham Police Department.

Police say it was a hoax, something meant to look like a real bomb.

For two hours, police prevented Heather Torbert from getting to her car but she finally left campus, glad that nothing bad came from the tense situation.

"It's scary. It's scary. It really is," she said.

Tonight, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms is leading the investigation into who put this fake bomb in the engineering building, and why."

Why did they blow the backpack up first? In my perfect world the bomb squad would have opened the bag first. I've seen how to do it on TV, you sweat buckets and shake and then you cut the red wire…or is it the blue?

Anyway, in my perfect world:
The bomb squad opens the bag, the air is tense. The lead member of the squad is training a rookie. She's tough but attractive and there has been plenty of jockeying for power position mixed with a little sexual innuendo. They will no doubt sleep together later.

"What do you see rookie?" That's what he calls her. Later, when they move past the animosity she'll ask him to call her by her first name but for now she's just 'rookie'.

"I don't know!" she's shaking but trying to hide it.

"Look, you've got to do this. It's now or never." He's unforgiving.

"Jesus" she says, almost under her breath. "It's…wait."

"There's no time! ID the wires and get them cut NOW!"

He starts to move towards her but she puts her hand up, waving him away.

"I've got an ID. It appears to be an ipod, a laptop that runs on a Japanese operating system, several NutriGrain wrappers, a computer catalogue and a pair of socks."

"GET OUT ROOKIE!! The wrappers are a fuse; it's the Kellogg's cereal bomber. Grab the ipod and GET OUT NOW!"

We see her spring to her feet, ipod in hand, running as if her life depends on it. Her life does depend on it and just as she reaches the safety perimeter the ipod starts to play the Carter Family's 'Let the circle be unbroken'. The backpack explodes. She is thrown into his arms. There is an awkward moment while they look at each other. He releases her and says,

"Good job saving that ipod. The jerk who built that bomb didn't deserve to have such a great collection of tunes. I mean, this thing has got the Carter Family and Nina Simone for chrissakes"

She looks him dead in the eye, confident again.

"Yeah, I guess we're looking for someone who is crazy but has regular bowel movements"

He gives her a questioning look but there is a tinge of respect starting to shine through his eyes.

"Well, the way I figure it, you'd have to be crazy to blow up even a single David Bowie track and those NutriGrain bars will...excuse my french sir...give you the shits."

And that's just the way it happened in my perfect world. Oh, and I want my damn ipod back.

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