b3ta.com user Seismologist
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Hello. British seismologist and vulcanologist (and ex-military officer) based in the US with US Geological Survey.

Volcanoes = woo.
Seismic events = woo.
Tsunamis woo. :(

Claims to fame:

1. Owns Blue Peter badge not purchased on eBay
2. Was on plane on way to Indonesia within 12 hours of tsunami of Christmas 2004 :(
3. Participated in Op GRANBY

Just finished second PhD-standard research project and supervising four other PhD students. Woo. Yay. Big me up...etc.

Recent front page messages:


Best answers to questions:

» Mugged

Arrested for being mugged
1991. November. I'm still doing the whole military thing. Just coming off a six-week course with the Royal Marines in being thrown against a wall (officially called "Self-Defence" or "Unarmed Combat" or (less officially) "Ow! Fuck! That hurt!").

Was studying in Scotland at the time, the course finished on a Friday so decided to get off the train in Birmingham to visit some friends at university there.

Picture, if you will, yours truly - no hair, dressed in bottom half of my uniform (green trousers, black boots) with a Royal Marines sweatshirt on and a green bergen (rucksack).

Walks out of the station, along taxi rank and up and alley way on the way to visit said friends. Young member of the local criminal community jumps out at me and pulls knife demanding my wallet.

I put up my hands and, looking him in the eye tell him I'm moving my hand to my back pocket to get it, and please will he put out his non-knife holding hand palm-up so that I can put my wallet thereon.

Young chap complies with request.

I place wallet gently in his hand, grab both of his wrists simultaneously and head butt him as hard as I could muster. When he crumbled before me I started hitting him and, when the Police arrived a few minutes later, I was still hitting him.

For obvious reasons, I'm arrested and taken to the local station. Explain my story to them and take out my ID card to prove that I'm a kosher military officer (and not a local skinhead). No action taken against me.

Moral of the story, folks : if you're going to mug someone, pick your target carefully.
(Thu 15th Jun 2006, 15:28, More)

» Heckles

Liquid Heckle
RAF Lossiemouth late 1980s ... American in the officers mess pretending to be an engine with 3 RAF officers pretending to be other engines. You had to be there.


American chap getting well into this making engine noises at maximum volume when "aircraft" captain shouts "fire in number 4 engine" at which point everyone (and I mean everyone) pours their beer over him!

Yes, yes, length, girth...
(Thu 6th Apr 2006, 19:20, More)

» Never Meet Your Heroes

Condoleeza Rice
Met Condi at a ball at Stanford when I was studying for my PhD (she was Provost (similar to Vice-Chancellor) there at the time).

I'm glad she's US Secretary of State mainly because she's one scary woman.

Charming intelligent eloquent quite attractive (in a strange way) and at the same time...scary.

PS : Please vote for me. I'm not a Republican (hell, I'm not even an American) but please vote it'd be nice to make it into the "Best of..."
(Thu 25th May 2006, 15:17, More)

» Awesome Sickies

Awesome Sickie
Did once claim that working in the San Fernando Valley for three weeks straight (NB : think "hot", multiply it by ten, double it - and that's still not enough) had left me unable to properly distinguish colours.

USGS were kind enough to pay my opthalmologists bill and get my laser eye surgery that I would otherwise have had to pay a fortune for! Result.

A student of mine however - late with a chapter for his PhD work - claimed to be in hospital when he called me for an extension. I'd have been happy to give him the extension (he was doing well enough anyway, and certainly on the right track) were it not for a shout of "FORE" from right next to him. Fecker was on the golf-course.
(Fri 9th Jun 2006, 8:54, More)

» Putting the Fun in Funeral

I've been to a couple of funerals.

Danny, a colleague of mine, was killed in a volcano accident in Hawai'i and because he'd not specified a religion as part of his personal details for our mutual employer they put him through a Hawai'ian Protestant Christian service. When his estranged family arrived (he hadn't spoken to them in years, and his wife wasn't on speaking terms with them either) a massive fight kicked-off as his family were all seriously Jewish and Danny was the most atheist chap I'd ever met. They ended up with a non-denominational service at a crematorium. One thing : he was so passionately into his work that he asked that his suit (flame retardant, that had so radically failed him) be buried with him and he went into the oven his damaged body head to foot in a v-suit, including hat and visor!

From a more sobering perspective my friend Jim in Scotland who was very, very ill several years ago made me promise that I'd ensure that when it was his funeral (which he expected to be in a matter of weeks at that time (thankfully, he's still with us)) the church would have thousands (and he meant THOUSANDS) of white candles and "Who Wants To Live Forever" (Queen) playing. Despite its' being one of my favourite songs of all time every time I hear it now I get a shiver up my spine thinking of my commitment to Jim.

Finally a funeral I attended as a student of a distant relative was planned to such an extent that Rod (a musician, hippy, and all round nice chap) had instructed everyone that there were to be no tears and everyone was to smile. The non-denominational service was beautiful and all of his friends who he lived with at the time came to the front and one at a time told everyone their favourite memory of Rod. Laughed (sombrely) more that day than I have in a long time.

Hope it's a long time before mine.
(Thu 11th May 2006, 21:22, More)
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