Trapit learns what is relevant information instead of the vomitous deluge you can get from other places.
User: Richard Helmich, Ph.D.
Location: Lakewood, Colorado
Official Title: Chemist, Mine Safety and Health Administration
Unofficial Title: Canary in the Government’s Coal Mine
Favorite Featured Trap: Bees
Q. That picture you sent us is amazing! Where are you?
This was a hike to the summit of Gray’s Peak on April 6th, 2012. Here’s one more, Johnny Bravo-style.
Q. How did you get where you are today, and what do you do for a living?
I went to school for a long time, and took the worst job in the best place possible. As a chemist, I analyze the gases in underground mines to ensure the safety of miners.
Q. Outside of work, what might we find you doing?
Typically you’ll find me doing anything and everything under a sunny blue or dark, clear and starry sky. Lately this has consisted of hiking, skiing, and camping in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado. I’ll look up recipes for ideas about what to cook for dinner when I get home. I daydream about about various fun stuff I’d like to buy, for example: an ice axe so I can climb mountains in the winter time; a motorcycle since I sold mine back in college; a Les Baer 1911 .45 because it’s an amazingly accurate pistol. I also do fairly extensive research for any purchases that I make over $100. So I’ll look up tech specs, reviews by pros and everyday people, and hunt for the lowest prices.
Q. What sort of information do you usually seek out for work? And how do you get your news?
I’m typically looking up detailed chemical information. This ranges from looking up a MSDS on a chemical that might have been spilled/released at a mine site, chemical equilibria, to new technology for measuring hazardous gases commonly found in underground mines. I used to get this information from Scifinder, but now I have to go to the various research journal publishers’ webpages to do searches.
For news, I’ve been listening to NPR while commuting, and typically keep up with current events that way. I also follow my curiosity on topics from my friends’ Facebook posts and blogs.
Q. You found out about Trapit from our science and health editor; can you describe your experience with Trapit so far?
My experiences with Trapit have been really good. The featured traps help introduce new topics that I might not have heard of/seen on the news or from NPR. Creating my own traps also allows me to keep up to date on my own intrinsic interests. It is also easy enough to delete old traps I might not be interested in so much anymore and create and train new ones. A few minutes of thumbs up or down narrows things quickly.
Q. What sorts of traps are you making? What is your favorite?
My current traps are airport security, bees, biofuels, bread, comic book movies, cyber attacks, chemistry, solar energy, hockey, outer space, LHC, and snowboarding to name a few.
My favorites recently have been cyber attacks, bees, and airport security. Cyber attacks have been interesting lately since China seems so hellbent on stealing everyone else’s secrets. I also like reading about Anon’s hijinks trying to stick it to the man. Bees are HUGE part of the US agricultural complex that hardly anyone seems to think about, and they’ve been having a rough time recently between disease and pesticides trying to wipe them out. Lastly, I like to hear about the newest, latest, and greatest hoop I have to jump through before I catch my next flight. I’m greatly opposed to the body scanning technology being used by airports to screen passengers, while TSA agents stand around looking imposing but doing nearly nothing.
Q. So, is there any way we could displace NPR on your morning commute? What if we got the robotic Stephen Hawking voice to read articles from your favorite traps?
Replacing NPR…blasphemy!! Where else can I get all that great news and some pun-itry to keep me smiling while in traffic on the way to work? That said, however, I have created traps based on what I’ve heard on NPR. My cyber security trap is an example.
Q. Have you found anything particularly useful, unique or interesting?
The daily email I get is probably the most useful part of Trapit for me. I guess I’m kind of lazy, and don’t always make it to the webpage to browse. The email basically puts the things I’m interested in in my face. So like Homer Simpson, I’ll open the email and be like, “OOO!” And follow the link to read the story.
I also feel that the sources that I read articles from on Trapit have much less bias compared to other places I can look at the latest headline news, i.e. CNN, WSJ, the Onion (j/k).
Q. Thanks for being such a great user profile; anything you’d like to add?
Yes; any views and opinions in this post are those of the author and not in any way affiliated with the Dept. of Labor or the Mine Safety and Health Administration!