Thursday, May 24, 2007


Oh, here's a fun fact that I forgot to mention earlier - I'm not radioactive.

I'm sure that's a relief to many, but the question of why it would be important that I declare it is a story that I have been witholding from the blogosphere at large.

Back in early November, I was in Germany working with Blue Byte on their game - The Settlers: Rise of an Empire (which is looking real cool, by the way). Flew into Heathrow, smaller plane to Dusseldorf, and then back. Partial story of the trip is here. But about the same time as I was jetting about, former KBG agent Alexander Litvenenko was poisoned by a massive dose of Polonium-210

Time passes, as does Litvenenko. I'm back in Seattle and it is early December, and I get an urgent email from Blue Byte to contact them. The Brits had found trace amounts of PO-210 on four planes, including the one I was on for the Dusseldorf/Heathrow hop. There was no immediate danger, but everyone on board was encouraged to see their physician, just in case. Now.

Oh, joy.

So I call my GP, was told that things were kinda full, explained to them that there was an outside chance of my being radioactive, and was given an immediate appointment. There was a general determinance of my good health (no surprise - in the mean time, the LB and I had the great Thanksgiving disaster, which resulted in us walking four miles uphill in the snow) and a recommendation that I see the staff radiologist. He was in turn interested (I was his first Litvenenko-related case), ran a radiation counter/tricorder/studfinder over me, and declared me OK.

Mind you, Polonium-210 is a heavy particle that can be stopped by clothing or skin. The only prob is if it is injested (which is how Litvinenko got it - through a teapot). Since I didn't lick the pull-down seat tray on that flight, I was pretty sure I was good. Plus the fact that if I had pulled up even a mild dose, I would have showed some definite signs (like keeling over dead) in the month between by fateful flight and the warning.

I was concerned, though, and took it with some gallows humor. And my co-workers were amused. One of them said "The symptoms of Polonium poisoning are similar to those of being stabbed through a curtain." That made me laugh. Even in our darkest hour - Shakespeare humor!

So that's my brush with international espionage. Why didn't I mention it sooner? Well, two days BEFORE I got the call to check myself for radiation poisoning, I was talking to my Mom on the phone, and she was worried (as Moms worried) that the Brits were checking flights and since I was on a flight in Europe, I was at risk. And of course I said that there were a lot of flights in Europe, and it was unlikely I was affected.

And of course I was wrong, but I didn't want to then CALL her back and make her worry, so I resolved to mention it in person when I was back in Pgh this past month, when I could demonstrate I was in good health and ... well, not dead.

And I've been mum on the blog as well, but the sudden meme-tagging made me realize that I haven't shared THIS particular fact. But now I have. So there you have it.

How am I? Not Radioactive! Thank You!

More later,