Like a lot of you on the wrong side of 30 (but on the good side of 34), I have two different types of friends: One group is the type with ill-advised tattoos who think alcoholism is a riot and talk about their band — or some other wiener band — non-stop, and think it’s cute to be poor; the other type are doctors and lawyers and scientists with kids who own houses, and are just all around much better people than I’ll ever be. Except the lawyers.

So my friend here is a fucking rocket scientist. Or something. Anyway, I asked my friend what it’s like making bombs that murder innocent brown babies just because their version of Superman is different than ours. Just kidding, he doesn’t do that. Or does he?

SBTVC: I’m not entirely sure what it is you do, because whenever I see you we’re both pretending we can still drink like we did when we were 20, and then we either talk about The Big Lebowski non-stop or else I complain about my job of deleting emails from publicists all day until everyone gets bummed out. For real though, what the fuck do you do all day? What is the name of your job even called?

ROCKET SCIENTIST: So I work for a really big company that makes big and small airplanes, spaceships, lasers, airplanes with lasers, missiles, helicopters, bombs, radars, radios (walkie-talkie kind), huge rockets for launching spaceships into outer space, space shuttles, and probably a lot of other stuff too. My company hired me as an engineer / scientist a few years back. I thought that was a good title because I went to school and got a physics degree and an electrical engineering degree, making me both an engineer and a scientist. About every other year my title changes. I have been a product engineer, a systems engineer, a test engineer, and now I’m an electro-physics engineer. I think that I have almost come full circle in the titles but my work has remained the same. There must be some dude who gets paid to come up with new names for what I do. He probably does it because it’s kind of difficult to say exactly what it is that I do other than I make stuff that has to do with lasers and optics.

I should interview that guy! So, har har, it’s not exactly rocket science right? Or is it?

I used to work with a lot of rocket scientists. They used to always say, “It isn’t rocket science… Oh wait, it is.” I don’t even think that they thought it was funny after a while but I think they felt obligated to say it.

Walk me through your day. You check your emails, then go build a missile? Don’t you ride a bike to work? I like the idea of a guy who builds spaceship lasers riding a bike to work for some reason.

I don’t really have a typical day. I have a couple labs that I am responsible for. One is in a Cold War era building that is located in a Dr. Evil like facility / camp on top of a mountain. The other labs and offices are spread around the city that I live in. We have some bad traffic here so when I have to go to some of the more distant locations that I work at, I ride my bicycle instead of sitting in my car for over an hour.

Regardless of how I get to work I’m rarely in before 10. I usually get to my desk and check some emails, maybe look at Facebook a bit, and definitely check the news on Slashdot. After that I’m ready for some light work. Light work would entail going in the lab and starting up the equipment (warming up the laser, turning on the oscilloscopes, etc.) or organizing the data from the previous day. I take my lab work pretty slow when I first get in. The lasers that I work with are kind of dangerous. They could burn a person or permanently blind you if you aren’t careful around them. So I take my time and pay attention to what I’m doing. I usually take lunch before I get to the meat of the experiment of the day.

I spend a lot of time warming up the laser at my job too, if you know what I mean. Penis-wise…. So there you are, it’s after lunch, now what?