Pari pari par-ri

In college I was lucky enough to land a summer internship at a nuclear power plant; it paid almost double than my previous gig (at a movie theatre), gave me regular ‘office hours’ and included every-other-Friday off. I had originally been hired to do office grunt work but, after a chance conversation with someone in the simulator division, was asked to come upstairs and help them out.

All nuclear power plants are required (by the NRC) to have a simulator that is an exact replica of the control room. And I mean exact, even the color and type on the paper labels that hang from the panels must be in perfect parity with their on-site counterpart.

Our job in the simulator division was to create scenarios that would test the knowledge of each operator and team, ensuring they could handle the worst-case sequence-of-events that would, if left unchecked, result in a catastrophic total shut-down of the reactor. Safety was certainly priority one but that’s just because a meltdown would result in a non-functioning reactor and, considering a power plant’s profitability is in direct proportion to its up-time (even a one percent reduction in output could mean hundreds of thousands of dollars lost), it’s in everyone’s best interest to know their shit.

If left unchecked the reactor would safetly shut itself down so your typical Hollywood, everything-is-FUBAR storyline would be deftly dealt with. As a result, I learned it was far-more interesting to fail a minor, seemingly insignificant pump or circuit, watch its effect cascade rapidly through the system and observe how the operators would deal with it. How quickly could they define the source of the issue? Could they keep the plant operating at peak-capacity while enacting the fix?

It’s essentially min-maxing in a JRPG, a particular flavor of OCD hyper-optimization that, when targeted at a suitable problem, makes my brain squirt out the happy juice.

One summer I was tasked with translating some on-paper schematics of an electrical sub-system into the codebase that had yet to be integrated into the simulator. For nearly two months I was left (mostly) undisturbed in my first-ever cubicle, discman strapped to my ears, bathed in light from a CRT monitor while I meticulously followed the diagrams, laying out and connecting each diode, capacitor and gate until a page of the circuit was faithfully reproduced.

Though what I was doing was exceedingly more interesting that any previous minimum wage job my fickle, easily distracted primate brain soon started to wander, embroidering elaborate scenarios to cope with the plodding tedium. I imagined electrons squealing with delight as they raced through the loops of an inductor or crowding together as they funneled into a diode.

Anything to pass the time.

So yeah, I get the attached. I’m there man; I’ve been there.

One of the cool things about my extended vacation from posting is that I get to catch-up on what some of my favorite artists have been up to in my absence. I’m happy to report that Takashi Ohashi has been continuing to use simple line and color to create thrilling, intuitively evolving music videos. This one is for Megu & Patron’s “pari pari par-ri-” (メグとパトロン - パリパリパーリー) and Takashi’s playful visuals are a perfect backing to the optimistic, joyful chiptune vibe of the tune. In fact, I couldn’t decide whether or not I wanted to post this or his equally-rad video for Ryusei Girl so I decided to just do both.

Stay tuned!

[ メグとパトロン - パリパリパーリー (pari pari pa-ri) ]