Monday, July 18, 2005

I would appreciate insight from current employees

From Anonymous:

Recently, I have engaged in very preliminary discussions with LANL staff regarding TSM employment in a national security position. Given the recent changes at the laboratory, and the potential for more in the future, I would appreciate insight from current employees as to whether I should pursue this position.

For background, I am a mid-career professional (MS only) with approximately 7 years of experience on DOE programs. I would like to be vague about the position of interest, but will note it is either in the S or N divisions. Ideally, my next career move will serve as a springboard to further opportunities in the safeguards/nonproliferation community, either at LANL or elsewhere.

I have read many old posts on this site and am familiar with the RFP and site management issues. These have been quite useful and I thank the contributors for the recruitment aids, although that might not have been the original intent. Understandably, most of the posts are tailored to those later in their careers with the most at stake. I am curious, however, how those "in-the-know" would approach my situation, given all that you see day-to-day at the Lab.

Thanks in advance.


Comments:
Use extreme caution with N-div. management, in particular Scott (div. ldr.) and Knepper (grp. ldr.). Scott is poison with no integrity, does not give credit/attribution, is untrustworthy, etc. Knepper takes her lead from Scott. Also since you mention S-div you must be looking at safeguards security, with respect to N-div. understand that TA-18 is shutting down and all material is being transfered.
 
It's a simple matter of deciding whether you are leaving a poor job or going to a better one. LANL is not what it once was. Between the DOE, UC, and Admiral Butthead the place has certainly deteriorated in terms of quality of employment. BUT, there are certainly worse places. One of the very positive aspects of LANL is that it is BIG (8000 UC employees plus 1500 students and postdocs plus 2500 contract personnel). If you come to LANL and the organization that you join sucks, making a change is not that difficult.

On the downside, with the change in contract, the pension plan is very definitely going to change for the worse. It will probably go from defined benefit (no contributions presently) to some kind of 401K plan with employee contributions at the level of about 7%.
 
If you do decide to accept the position at LANL, do NOT live in Los Alamos. This is a one horse town and the horse ain't too well. You could easily be trapped by poor housing values, or worse, lose net worth. Sad, but true.
 
As far as living in Los Alamos, it is a risk, but housing here is at very
cheap prices and the selection is large. This is an unusual situation
for Los Alamos. Prices in Santa Fe are extremely high right now, so
if you go that route, you'll also take some risk if/when the housing bubble
begins to burst. If you are not completely risk adverse, there is some
advantage to locating in Los Alamos at this time. For around $500 K, you
can have a very nice, large house with your back deck looking directly
over the sheer cliffs on a mesa edge -- not too shabby! If you have kids,
it's a no brainer to live in Los Alamos, as the public school system in
Santa Fe is of very poor quality.

As far as the future of the Lab, the real answer is no one really knows
how it will all turn out. We could be looking at RIFs in a few years.
We could be looking at a surge in employment for "bean-counter" types
with a new contractor (as apparently happened with Savannah Research Lab).
My guess is the Lab will be seeing a decrease in the influence in science,
and a move to being more of an engineering lab. We are definitely about
to enter unknown territory.
 
If all that you want is a springboard, then I'd give LANL a chance. It sounds like you are still relatively free (not tied down, no golden handcuffs, etc) so the risk is minimal. If things go sour, then as the 7:57 poster stated, changing orgs is not that hard.

I don't really know Scott, and I don't work for Knepper, but I don't share the 7:00 poster's opinion of Knepper. That said, I suspect that you are not looking at N-3, so the point is probably moot. (I suspect this because I also suspect that we were at the same 4th of July party and already had this conversation.)

Good luck.
 
If you want a future in the non-proliferation community, I suggest N-1. Sara, reversing a string of previous clueless appointments, has just appointed Sheppard as the N-1 group leader. Gavron, Alvar, and now Sheppard will continue leading the momentum of top notch safeguards science.
 
I would avoid N Division if I were you. While there are some good folks scattered within it, there are a lot of sharks who will take credit for your work, pass you over for promotion, and otherwise make your life miserable. The "national security" work that much of N claims to do is bogus, as well.
 
LANL is a very sick place at the moment. Current management and UC have nearly completely destroyed what was once a decent place to work. If you decide to come work at LANL, you need to be aware that UC stands a very good (and well deserved) chance at losing the contract, and that Lockheed Martin would therefore win it. Personally, I view that as a good thing, as there is much about LANL that is broken and needs to be fixed, and I think LM would do a good job at reviving LANL. Just pick your horse very carefully; many of the current managers who were part of the now-departed director Nanos' cadre will be gone if LM wins the bid.
 
LANL used to be a fun place to work. Not so now. It may get better when the new contract manager comes in. But then again DOE is a pretty scary place too, so you may not find LANL to be so different from that.
 
The poster at 12:17 AM is right. Be very wary of buying a home in Santa Fe
these days. The price of the median house in Santa Fe is now at the same
rate as super-hot Boston!

Realtors: Santa Fe median home price at all-time high - KOB TV - 07/17/05

http://kobtv.com/index.cfm?viewer=storyviewer&id=20521&cat=HOME

When the housing bubble bursts, those who recently purchased a home in
Santa Fe may be in for a nasty surprise. Los Alamos housing is a much
better deal at this time. Housing prices here have barely moved up
during the last two years, and I doubt there is any real risk that LANL
will ever be completely shut down. If you plan on working here for
at least the next few years, then Los Alamos offers you more home for
your money and less financial risk. It also offers you living space in
a friendly, safe mountain community, and your commute to LANL will be
very quick (i.e., less than 10 minutes). Note that Los Alamos has
been rated as THE best place to live in the whole US for the last two
years running by at least one organization that rates these types of
things.
 
11:50, Los Alamos was rated as the best place to live in the US by whom? The religious right? Because the overall quality of life in Los Alamos sucks. Nothing to do, no culture, no good restaurants, and located in the sticks.
 
Well, there's no crime. It's against the law!
 
Prof. Amy Rocha:

I think that your attempt to use this blog to locate sources of information on a potential employee is unprofessional and unethical. I doubt that even the management of a third-rate institution such as San Jose State University would approve of this.
 
It is interesting to note how many people throughout the DOE/NNSA/lab complex claim to work in the arena of "nonproliferation" but it is unclear what they actually do.
 
Be careful with what they promise you, such as a great secure TSM job, potential to move up, nice place to live. You might get here and have the rug pulled out from under you soon after you land.
 
The Rocha posting is a ruse. Her real address is rocha at mathcs.sjsu.edu.

Suggest it be removed...
 
Los Alamos is a great place if you like outdoor life - camping, hiking, skiing, fishing, biking, etc.

If you are looking for city life (restaurants, shows, theatres, concerts, stores, people in the streets, etc.), you will find these in Santa Fe at a low level.
 
The "Rocha" comment is removed.

--Doug
 
If you are at DOE headquarters, I wouldn’t leave Washington to come here. Mainly because if you come here and are not happy, and chances are good that you will not be happy, there is no where else to go work without moving yourself and your household. On the other hand, in Washington you can find work elsewhere easily, especially with a clearance in hand, and not have to move residences.
 
LANL is a GREAT place to work, in particular S division. I have read many posts to this blog and I am once again reminded of the whiners that work here and have never had a REAL job. They were kept under their parents wings, sent to college, pampered, graduated, and then joined the LANL staff. We have it made here, Los Alamos is God's country, the housing market wil always be strong and we have the BEST eduaction system in the state.
 
There’s a little hint about Los Alamos in this blog. Nearly no one wishes to sign his name. Think hard about what that implies. Another hint can be found in any discussion of the metrics of a productive lab. All metrics are rejected except the few that favor LANL like the R&D 100 award. Take a careful look at that metric. You’ll also find a blog full of derision for LANL management failures that predate the admiral, that perfect scapegoat. Mix these observations with the LANL reputation in Washington and the move to consolidate the labs announced this week. Come to your own decision, of course, about investing in a Los Alamos home.
 
7/19/2005 02:45:42 PM
S Division????? Share with the rest of us whatever it is you are smoking.
 
To the original poster:

LANL is in a state of major turmoil, with (as you can see from the blog) a great deal of back-biting and uncertainty. If you are comfortable where you are, I would wait until the recompete dust settles.

The next (FY06) budget battle between Domenici and Hobson will set the future of the whole nuclear weapons complex. The SEAB report recommends consolidation and reinvestment, but my expectation is that there will be only ever-declining budgets and dead-end science.

That said, I moved back to Los Alamos for the quality of life - outdoor recreation, comfortable climate, small town atmosphere and no crime - boring in other words. If you need restaurants, theatre, and an active social life, you will be very disapointed.
 
I think that the previous poster has it right. Waiting would seem to be the optimal strategy right now. There were quite a few managers (division & group level) and technical staff members that retired at the end of June. I would predict a larger number leaving next year June. That should open up many management opportunities as well as put top-level applicants in a strong position to negotiate salary.

As much as I have enjoyed working at LANL, I would not come here right now. Even with the departure of Admiral Buttheat, there are still many problems and major uncertainties.
 
I would personally say not coming to LANL for a couple of years... until the contract is dealt with and whoever gets it (Bechtel or LL) have had time to put in business practices and really cleaned out the muck from the last 20-30 years that has built up here.

There are a lot of good people here, and they work really hard.. but the true mission of the lab has pretty much died in most peoples hearts when the bomb building went away. Heck.. each group has its own idea of what the labs mission is here.. and very few of them agree.

The housing in Los Alamos is poor. Most of the homes were built before 1980, and few have been updated or upgraded because housing prices would go up 10% per year whether you spent a penny on paint or not. You can get some fabulous views in some places, but that Corp of Army Engineers built house isnt worth the 300k that it is being asked for. There is currently a lot of anxiety with retires because a lot of their nest-eggs are put into that 10% and the fact that the home might be revalued at 50% of 2002 values is petrifying.

The school system isnt as good as advertised either. Well it is if you're kids are in the top 10%. The other 90% have major problems getting their teachers attention or getting help if they need it. Having sent my kids to both the valley and the hill.. the valley can be better in helping a mid-level student even with all the other problems that the valley schools have.

If you are used to city life, you will have a hard time getting used to Los ALamos and its rolling up the streets at 9pm. I have had more potential employees and some hired people leave after spending a night (or a month in town) because it was just too hard to adjust to. The county council has been working on a plan for about 5-8 years to address the downtowns 'deadness'.. but most retail businesses have given up or gone away. [This is very similar to what most small towns went through in the 1980's.. Los Alamos is about 20 years behind.]

There is a lot of politics at the lab. There are some people here who hold grudges for silly things that happened 20 years ago and treat them like they were yesterday. That happens everywhere, but the lab seems to have built up a larger section of them than I have seen at IBM or other DOE labs.

Sorry for the stone cold assessment, but if you want to come after all that.. I think you will be able to stay and find a good career here... no matter wha
 
I think that the previous commenter has most of it right with the possible exception of some of the statements about the schools. Yes, "average" students are not taken care of very well in the Los Alamos school system. If you child is not going to attend college, then s/he may not have a pleasant experience. BUT, the schools in the valley (Espanola for instance) are absolutely aweful. Pojoaque is much better. The drop out rate in the Santa Fe public high schools is 44%!

The statements about the houses and the politics (grudges) are correct.
 
The Doom and Gloomers are out in full force at this site. Frankly, I think
some of them are simply scared to death that some really good people may
actually decide to hire on at the lab and give them a run for their money.

It sounds like you may have visited Los Alamos, so you know about the natural
beauty of the place. If not, you first need to come out and take a measure
of the land. Some housing stock here is old (pre 60s), but a lot of new
housing stock has gone up over the last five years and the prices are very
competitive compared to placed like DC and Santa Fe. Also, consider the
fact that if you come in before the contractor switch-over, you may have
a chance to get in on a good deal with the UC pension -- not certain on
this but it is worth checking out. The pension deal for new hires after
June 1st is not going to be nearly as generous, so that is something to
consider if you decide to wait a year before hiring on at the lab.

The worst part of the job, now that Admiral Butthead has gone, will likely
be working with some of the older staff, who can be constant whiners and full
of gloom and despair. We could use some fresh viewpoints from the outside
world, so come aboard if you wish! In a year or two things will most likely
look much better than they do today. This place is not Nirvana, but to
me, it still the best G-d damn place to live on the planet, and I thank
my lucky stars that I get to live up here on the mesas.
 
To Poster 12:16 pm -

The best place to live rating was done by the American City Business
Journal (ACBJ), and you can read the article talking about Los Alamos'
winning first place in this MSNBC article (below). BTW, Los Alamos also
took the first place spot in this year's rating, too:

Where's the best place to live in America? - MSNBC - May 27, 2004

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5023308

And no, Poster 12:16 pm, the ACBJ is not a religious right organization.
 
Perhaps the original poster could say a little more about what his/her job and avocational goals are. You say your "next career move will serve as a springboard..." To what? What does your ideal job look like? Be aware that you ain't gonna get it, here or anywhere else, but a clearer understanding of the ideal will help identify the pluses and minuses of looking for it here. Likewise with lifestyle issues. (Personally, I love the lifestyle here, but enough said on that.)

That said, some observations from someone well familiar with both S and N divisions. There are elements of truth in most of the comments here, although I disagree strongly with the characterization of one of the people. (I won't say which one, nor whether my view is positive or negative; this really shouldn't be about individual managers.) S division is almost entirely a "service" organization that doesn't originate much of anything, but rather has to deal with a number of issues arising from the outside. It's not a place for creativity, originality, etc. On the flip side, it's a growth industry, whether we like it or not (most of us don't but that's not your problem), with as much job security as anywhere at the lab is likely to offer. I wouldn't want to work there, but I'm not you.

N division is considerably more complex. As a general rule, it is a very poor place for "basic science," but that doesn't sound like one of your priorities anyway. (Right?) On the other hand, if you're willing to work in "applied science and engineering" and run off to Japan, Russia, etc., installing stuff, they are constantly looking for more people to work on those programs; I have detected few biases as to whether you have to be an insider to "get" one of these trips (since many of them are a very long way from junkets); and there are few impediments to a non-Ph.D. advancing into important roles in those programs, which isn't true everywhere at the lab. It used to be that staff in N division had very few opportunities for professional advancement and recognition at the lab or in Washington. That's certainly no longer true on the Washington side, and as for the lab end, who knows? The new contract will bring reappraisal of that, regardless who wins. Stay tuned.

Somebody mentioned the TA-18 situation, and it is indeed a complete mess. If you get sucked into that as a part of your N division job, you'll regret it. Not everyone does, however. One of those "that's-not-a-bug, that's-a-feature" aspects of the division is that many of the managers are so busy dealing with TA-18 issues that they don't have much time for interactions with staff. Is that good or bad? Depends whether you'd rather be "mentored" or left alone to find your own path. If the former, you're likely screwed. If the latter, you may get along just fine.

More later, this is too long. Incidentally, if you remember a conversation today (electronic or otherwise) about the "dangers" of a terrified spouse driving on the "steep mountain roads," you know who I am, and how to get hold of me.
 
Natural Beauty? What the hell are you talking about? The park service decimated 57,000 acres of the some of the most beautiful forest in the state. If you like hiking amongst the black sticks and dying trees then more power to you. But, much of the forest has been closed off for many activities and the interior department is currently trying to make more of it off limits to the public. For those of us that have to live in the burned area, five years after the fire, the roads are still torn apart and the place has the look and feel of a third world country. This isn't the magnificently beautiful place it used to be. Between the fire and hurricane Pete ther isn't much left to destroy.
 
Poster 10:53 PM -

So why don't you leave this place? You obviously are not happy here.
Over the last five years, I've learned to come to grips with the effects
of the fire (and I live right next to the burned out forest). If, by this
time, you are still having problems coping with its effects, you should
move on. The forest will heal, but your soul will wither just like the
burned-out trees if you keep letting it eat at your heart.
 
The extraordinaryly high suicide rate in Los Alamos County is something I have never understood.
Before living here, I never knew anyone who committed suicide. In 25 years, I have known or known of atleast 30 cases. That is to say men, women and children. Strange.
 
11:57, Read Joseph Kane's Time article from December 10, 1979, "Los Alamos: A City Upon a Hill," for some insight. Only things have gotten worse since then with the demise of the nuclear weapons mission.
 
Interesting comment about the suicide rate. I remember when my
family moved here many years ago, three rumors we heard about Los Alamos
were that it had a high divorce rate, high alcoholism rate, and high
suicide rate. I'm still married (going on 25 years), drink in moderation,
and have no desire to end my life. However, I have observed, sadly enough,
that the rumors appear to be true.

My observation is that people who are of a classical conservative
bent (i.e., want tomorrow to be pretty much the same as today, enjoy
a quiet lifestyle, have no desire to shop at malls, etc.) do fine
living here. If you like the new and crave change and excitement,
this is not the place to live. It also helps tremendously if you
are married and have a family. However, I don't find this to be
a town that is owned by the religious right. People here are generally
too smart to be taken in my easy answers. In fact, I've been amazed
at just how liberal the views are of many people in Los Alamos. It is
a Republican county, but it is nothing like the far-right Republicanism
you see in places like Kansas or the deep South.
 
Suicide rates are HIGH in NEW MEXICO Period. Is this because of the so called high rate in Los Alamos. I think not, A study conducted by National Center for Health Statistics shows that in 2002 New Mexico ranked 5th in the US with an 18.8 per 100,000 suicide rate. (A total of 349) That's the good news in 2001 New Mexico ranked #1 in the US for suicides.
 
Is New Mexico also #1 in the
nation for DUIs?
 
Not while there's still an Arkansas.
 
Well, I have been here for 20 years. I was told about the divorce rate, suicide rate, alcohol abuse rate and the expensive cocaine habits. In 20 years, I have seen the first three but have never met anyone who used/abused cocaine. In fact, given all the security clearances, I do not see how it would be possible.
 
".....the overall quality of life in Los Alamos sucks. Nothing to do, no culture, no good restaurants, and located in the sticks."

Strange. I find the quality of life here vastly better than the Washington area I came from. Lots of music and art and good outdoor sports and a number of good restaurants and a great library and good, smart people. If you prefer bar-hopping night life this might not be the right place, but if you want a safe healthy place to raise kids it's great!
 
Because of its expense, cocaine abuse is not that big a problem. The
biggest problem in the community, and the country as a whole, is meth (speed).
Its use has been growing at a tremendous rate. If you have kids, you
should be very concerned about meth. From what I'm hearing, it's cheap
and very plentiful here. Some people think meth is a "good" drug, because
it helps them get things done. But kicking a meth habit can be very
difficult. If you haven't yet heard about the meth epidemic, you soon
will. BTW, as a historical aside, History Channel ran a story about Hitler
and his meth abuse. He had his personal doctor give him an injection of
multi-vitamins each morning. However, the doctor also added in meth to
give the man a "lift". Hitler was a meth addict. Perhaps that helps
explain some of his poor strategic thinking during his final years.
 
Based on that I wouldn't be suprized if Nanos was a speed freak. Talk about bad decision making!!
 
Nanos, a speed freak?? Too funny!! Have you ever taken a good look at the man's eyes?? Like Nancy Regan's eyes; they just have this crazy look!!
 
He maybe a cross-dresser too.
 
What was fun, and I do truly mean _fun_, was watching Nano's eyes as I shook his hand just prior to receiving my annual Patent Awards Ceremony (TM) reward. What made it fun was watching the slow realization dawn that he was shaking the hand of the Author of "LANL, The Real Story" as approx. 200 people watched.

--Doug
 
I must comment on the religious right idea. I have lived here for a number of years and I have seen all sorts of crap in and out of LANL. Were any of you here during the infamous Al Tiedman (AD), Karen Loose Tiedman (AD wife and Group Leader) and Nancy Simpson Holt (budget person, concubine and AD wife) desktop sex? Nothing, in my opinion, has ever topped that event. I would not make the mistake of naming this place and religion in the same sentence.
 
There was Larry Austin (Puritan, Quaker, Friend, Jehovah whatever) and Dottie Van Hecke (Baptist). Now that is religion.
 
What are we talking about? Runaway bride eyes? Talk about crazy.
 
8:29 poster,

Hey lay off man. We have all been there before. It is human nature. It
does mean that they are bad people. Really who you sleep with has nothing to do with what kind of person you are. I think we should just drop the whole subject. It never gets anywhere.
 
There are many posts regarding Rich Marquez, I think Mr. Tiedmann could teach Rich some tricks.
 
Oppenheimer had a mistress as I remember the facts. Nothing ever changes.
 
Oppy may of had a mistress but with Nanos we all got screwed. I hear that Foley is doing his best Clinton impression waiting around his office with his pants around his ankles. He's hoping they get the contract so he can go back to sticking it to us. Who says who you sleep with doesn't matter.
 
Forget about Tiedman, remember the Eddie Roybal and Debbie (Jaws), Martinez at the time, event. She bit off more than she could chew. Also, cocaine use, a clearance doesn't keep anyone off of drugs, check out one of the weapon auditors in CFO-1, he can tell you about drug use. Many people from the valley also use and abuse drugs. Just had a suicide of one young woman on drugs and involved with the murder of a grandmother, she was a lab employee.
 
The post about meth use in Los Alamos is alarming to me. Sounds like meth labs exist in every ABQ neighborhood. I have only heard of one meth lab here in Los Alamos. That being next door to UNM-LA where they found the dead body. Are there others?
 
EDDIE ROYBAL. Lost his Johnson. I remember that story. Happened our in the parking lot back in the early 80s. The original poster should be catching on.....this place is better than a soap opera.
 
'a clearance doesn't keep anyone off of drugs'

Is it not true that employees are screened for drug and alcohol abuse once a year during their physical exam? I too, am alarmed at these posts. Substance abusers are often very dangerous people. I have kids.
 
Yow. Debbie Martinez belongs in a *penile* institution.
 
ONLY HRP enrolled employees are drug and alcohol screend yearly and at random, the rest are never tested.
 
ONLY HRP enrolled employees are drug and alcohol screend yearly and at random, the rest are never tested.

I am a Team Leader. I know for a fact that HSR-2 will notify DOE if ANY cleared employee's liver enzymes are high (pointing to alcohol abuse)as evidenced in routine physical exams. I do not know what indicators point to cocaine use, for instance. This is completely independent of the PSAP, PAP, HRP, Human Reliability ect. programs.
 
I was heavily involved in the drug scene for a while, long before I coming to LA. Without a doubt, the most dishonest and malicious people are those I have met since I moved here. The worst usually seem to have blue badges...
 
I am a Team Leader. I know for a fact that HSR-2 will notify DOE if ANY cleared employee's liver enzymes are high (pointing to alcohol abuse)as evidenced in routine physical exams.

THE ONLY EMPLOYEES SUBJECTED TO THE ROUTINE EXAM THAT WOULD INVOLVE BLOOD WORK AS YOU SPECIFY ARE HRP
 
To Anonymous at 7/21/2005 12:51:57 PM:

I believe that he is known as "Short Eddie."

Note that many people do not believe this story. But, I have a friend who worked in the ER at the LA Medical Center at the time and she claims to have been there when Eddie came in.
 
To Unknown at 7/21/2005 03:28:30 PM: you are full of crap. Yes, there are a few stinkers in the LANL workforce. Clearly no organization (employer or town) of 12,000 is going to be free of bad actors. But, at LANL, the percentage of these individuals is quite small, except of course among the ranks of managers.
 
To 7/21/2005 05:38:55 PM: I neither stated or implied that the majority of people at LANL are scumbags. Most people are OK, but there are some real lowlifes. And yes, the main individual I was thinking of is in management.
 
"I am a Team Leader. I know for a fact that HSR-2 will notify DOE if ANY cleared employee's liver enzymes are high (pointing to alcohol abuse)as evidenced in routine physical exams. I do not know what indicators point to cocaine use, for instance. This is completely independent of the PSAP, PAP, HRP, Human Reliability ect. programs. "


Well, I am a team leader on HRP who had high liver enzymes that cropped up during one of my annual medical exams. Never did HSR report my liver enzyme levels to DOE. In fact, I do not drink alcohol, and at the time, I was on the Atkins diet. The HSR doctor questioned me about alcohol consumption, meds I might be taking, etc. Coincidentally, I went off Atkins and my enzyme levels returned to normal. I also went to my PCP and he said HSR "over reacts" when they see blood chemistries out of normal range. Liver enzyme levels can be an indicator of alcohol abuse but sometimes there might be underlying medical causes BESIDES alcoholism. That is why the HSR doctors interview the employee and look for trends in blood chemistries. It would be silly on HSRs part to prematurely jump to conclusions and report anything to DOE without giving the patient the benefit of the doubt.
 
Los Alamos has a lot of beautiful scenery, but unless you are a hard-core hiker in very good physical shape, able to hike for many miles; or a horse rider, most of the surrounding countryside isn’t accessible. The access roads into the surrounding countryside have been nearly all closed. This was supposedly due to the fire in 2000. But I’ve heard that the underlying reason was to fulfill an agenda of placating the greenies; and that most of the roads will never be re-opened. If you love the outdoors, but are a more casual user that likes to drive a vehicle to near where you want to go - to have a picnic, take a short hike, or participate in other forms of outdoor recreation - you will be disappointed with Los Alamos – you can admire the view from a distance, but you can’t get there. The Forest Service and Los Alamos County Government pander to the hard-core, radical-left-wing, anti-internal-combustion environmentalists. We usually wind up driving several hours away from Los Alamos to do our outdoor recreation.

The entire town is surrounded by either Forest Service, DOE, or Indian Land. On the latter two, your outdoor recreational opportunities are restricted or forbidden. It also means that most of the housing areas are squashed together in a small space, on tiny lots. Forget about owning a house way out in the woods. (Unless you want to drive 45 minutes into the Jemez Mountains, on a narrow two-lane road with sharp turns and drop-offs; and take off several days of vacation each year, when the roads are snowed in.)

The local stores are small and poorly stocked. Most of them close by 6pm. They are more like stores you would find back in the 50s, in some little town of 1000 people, out in the middle of nowhere. The storekeepers hover over you when you come in; and get annoyed, if you can’t tell them what you want to buy immediately. The two grocery stores, in the main town and in White Rock, are medium-sized, and do stay open until 9. They are also often out of many items. They are both run by the same Salt Lake City-based company; and have a monopoly. Their prices are way above even the grocery prices in Santa Fe, which are already quite expensive. The auto repair shops are all some combination of incompetent, dishonest, slow to complete work, or expensive.

Even the nearest Wal-Mart is a 35-minute drive away in Espanola. And the Wal-Mart, and a Lowe’s Home Improvement store, are basically all there is there. The Wal-Mart is not kept well stocked, and isn’t managed very well. Some of the people here are so starved for shopping, they rave about it. The local merchants in Los Alamos have successfully kept a Wal-Mart out of here, and will probably be able to keep doing so, effectively discouraging anyone from bothering to try shopping in Los Alamos.

Santa Fe is 40 to 50 minutes away, depending on where you’re going to there. It has several “big box” stores. It also has a lot of souvenir stores, some of which sell the usual tacky junk; but also some “Galleries” which sell extremely expensive art. It also has a lot of restaurants, many of which cater to tourists – some are fairly good – most are pricey. Some of the auto repair shops are a little bit better, but not much. Despite being quite a bit larger than Los Alamos, and having recently experienced rapid growth, there isn’t that much in Santa Fe either.

For major purchases, specialty items, technical and hobby items, specialized repair shops, etc. - and even less common auto parts - you have to go to Albuquerque. Most people wind up going several times a year. It is a 1 ½ hour drive to get there. Most expeditions to Albuquerque and back wind up taking most of the day, usually at least 5 or 6 hours. Thus, a lot of your time is used up on shopping trips. In a larger town, you could make these same trips over your lunch hour. Even if you don’t take vacation time to go to the city, it is a big cut into your free time.

Why do I stay here? Well, a day-long trip to Albuquerque every few weeks is probably better than a two-hour commute every day in the Los Angeles traffic.

But the main reason is that I was on a 24 day-a-year vacation system, from the first year I worked here. You can’t get that at most private companies. (Currently, as a new employee, you only get 15 days - but also 3 extra holiday days for Christmas, that the 24-day people are made to take as 3 vacation days – but both systems may be cut way back under the new contractor.) I haven’t advanced as far, or been paid as well, as I would have been elsewhere. I was willing to work hard, but people here don’t like to see that. But I’ve enjoyed some leisurely vacations, and seen more places before I’ve retired, than many people will get to see after they retire. I’ve been able to keep my mind sane in this velvet-lined rural detention center, by getting out of here for 5 weeks every year.
 
Two employees in our group lost their badges because of 'suspected
alcohol abuse.' One employee admitted to being a heavy drinker but was seeking help from AA. The second was eventually terminated. No one in our group is HRP. Both employees had elevated liver enzymes. This came as a surprise to me because alcohol is legal. I never knew either person to be intoxicated at work.
 
My routine physical exam at HSR-2 indicated abnormally high liver enzymes last year. The PA questioned me about my alcohol consumption. I had never drank much alcohol in my life. I was referred to my primary care doctor. Two weeks later, I had to have my gall bladder removed during an emergency procedure. My enzymes returned to normal. I was told the elevated liver enzymes can indicate a bad gall bladder.
I have never been in HRP.
 
"If you love the outdoors, but are a more casual user that likes to drive a vehicle to near where you want to go - to have a picnic, take a short hike, or participate in other forms of outdoor recreation - you will be disappointed with Los Alamos – you can admire the view from a distance, but you can’t get there. The Forest Service and Los Alamos County Government pander to the hard-core, radical-left-wing, anti-internal-combustion environmentalists." This is such utter nonsense as to be not worth refuting, but I will make an offer. If the person who asked the original questions is interested in hiking -- of whatever difficulty ranging from half an hour to multi-day backpacks -- please post again when you get here, and I will give you some tips on trailheads within an hour of the town where you can do it. Yes, some trails are closed or inaccessible since the fire. Others have opened that were not open before then, and there is an effort in progress to open some others, ironically enough, in the vicinity of Cerro Grande -- the Cerro Grande that gave its name to that fire.

The sheer venom of some of the comments here just amazes me. "Mid-career professional," whoever you are, take heart; we aren't all like that.
 
I honestly do not know if DOE is interested in who is abusing alcohol or not. I do know that in some cases the high liver enzymes indicate Hepatitis C.
 
If you attempt to hike down the East Los Alamos Canyon trail to the visit the historic E=MC2 rock, you will be apprehended by PTLA guards, admonished for trespassing on Federal property and asked to leave. This has nothing to do with the fire. It has everything to do with increased security. BTW, you are no longer allowed to ride a bicycle in East Los Alamos Canyon either. In years past, these trails on DOE land were well maintained, advertised and were not off limits to hikers, runners, cyclists ect.
 
I've lived here most of my life and I never heard of E=MC2 Rock. What and where is it?
 
Likewise. I grew up here and I never heard of it. Urban legend, or does it really exist?

--Doug
 
Yes, I've seen it.

It is on a trail leading up out of the north side of Omega Canyon, up towards the bridge.

Whether it was put there by the original Mahattan Project people, or at a later time, is a subject of speculation.
 
To 7/22/2005 08:14:22 AM:

I feel I must respond, even if I appear to be rude. You weren’t very polite to me when I expressed my opinions, so I won’t pull any punches either.

No, I don’t need to know where there are more hiking trails. I know where they are already. In fact, I think there’s an over-surplus.

Could you please tell me where within Los Alamos County I could find a nice AUTOMOBILE trail (not necessarily even a JEEP trail to drive back into the woods and relax? It doesn’t need to be challenging, it could even be driven with a regular car, just something that leads back into the countryside.

There are a some of us that aren’t medically able to hike more than half a mile, that would still like to enjoy the outdoors. And not everyone cares to either, even if they are able.
The Forest Service and the County have closed everything off in the county, except to hikers and sometimes horses. (And in a few limited places, bicyclists.) There are a LOT of people in this town, who would like somewhere they could drive to get away from the built-up areas, without traveling for hours. I know, I’ve talked to many of them. But most of them have to hold down jobs and have children to raise; and don’t have the spare time to expend in meetings and lobbying efforts.
Who are the selfish ones here? The hikers have taken ALL the unpopulated land in the county for themselves.
“Venom”? When their beliefs are challenged, liberals love to label people and their statements. Why not just call me a “Nazi”, its very convenient one-size-fits-all label that can be used against anybody who isn’t liberal enough for you. You’ll feel much better.

“Mid Career Professional”:
8:14’s message demonstrates two more disadvantages to Los Alamos:
1. There are a lot of self-righteous, self absorbed people in Los Alamos who don’t like having their beliefs challenged, and haven’t had a real reality check in years. 2. Special interests (including hikers and environmentalists) control the county government.

Colonel Klink
 
It is on a trail leading up out of the north side of Omega Canyon, up towards the bridge.


Descriptions of the rock and the trail are/were available in most Los Alamos trails and hiking publications. Legend has it that the rock existed during the Manhatten Project.
 
Go to the DOE Building, drop straight down into Los Alamos Canyon. You will run right into it. The 'caveman' lived just above the E=MC2 rock. Security concerns about the old reactor in the canyon has apparently closed the area.
 
Be careful with what they promise you, such as a great secure job, it seems if you’re white you stand a better chance to move up in the lab. I work for a group in the NMT division at TA55 and it seem like you are working for the good old boy system. I think this group prefers you to be white are have a degree rather than knowing your job. It seem like minority don’t stand a chance, because all the white’s that have come to the group in the last few year have better jobs and make more money than the minority that have been there a lot longer. As a hole I think the lab is a joke all the way up to the HR system they have in place. So where is the fairness because the more you bring it to there attention the more lies and excuses they make up? I think it would be better if some one else got the contract and made some changes, for as mangers in the NMT division. I’m not talking about all groups in this division, just a few, one in particular.
 
It seem like minority don’t stand a chance, because all the white’s that have come to the group in the last few year have better jobs and make more money than the minority that have been there a lot longer.

Obviously this is a joke - it's exactly the other way around
 
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