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1995: A (Work-) Space Odyssey

Home may be where the heart is, but the majority of NCAR and UOP staff spend almost as many of their waking hours at the Mesa and Foothills Labs as they do at home. It's no surprise that employees try to make their work spaces their own, in ways that help them to work more happily and productively. Here are profiles of six of the most distinctive offices we could find at ML and FL. (Honorable mention goes to Bob Chervin and Joe Tribbia, two CGD scientists in competition for the most paper-intensive offices in the known universe. Bob's in the lead.)

Carter Emmart

It all started when CGD's Carter Emmart saw 2001: A Space Odyssey at age seven. The experience triggered an interest in space- based science and a love for the surreal. Both are evident in Carter's ML office, where he creates graphics routines for climate models. Posters he designed for the conference series The Case for Mars adorn the walls. Carter's work has been featured at the Smithsonian's Air & Space Museum, as well as the ML galleries this past June. He likes to collect cheesy postcards promoting sci-fi movies: Forbidden Planet, Crack in the World, The Night the World Exploded. He has tiny statues of Marilyn Monroe and Tyrannosaurus rex on display. And he has the statuesque figure of Barbie looming from nooks, crannies, and atop his terminal. "One day I went to a store with a buddy and he was aghast at all the Barbie stuff. I was fascinated and went out and bought one the next day. My ex-girlfriend hated Barbie up until meeting me. Now she's in film school at the University of California, Los Angeles, doing her thesis on Barbie collectors."

Dave Kennison

What may be NCAR's only azalea--certainly its largest--greets you at the door of Dave Kennison's ML office. Dave's love for the outdoors permeates his space. An avid hiker and scrambler when not writing software for SCD, he's assembled a substantial collection of leaves and plants: "I have a number of trees in my yard that started out in my office." A Hawaiian ti plant--"they have enormous roots"--is now pushing its way out of a pot, but that isn't half as frightening as the Alien-like experience Dave had not long ago with a plant behind his desk. "There are a few earthworms in the soil; ocasionally I hear them behind me making a rustling sound as they turn things over. One morning I put water in the pot. It must have been exceptionally cold water. An earthworm that must have been a foot long shot itself almost all the way out of the soil and then fell over the edge of the pot. Needless to say, it scared the hell out of me."

Kay Hockensmith

There are philodendrons, and then there are big philodendrons. And then there's the behemoth in buyer Kay Hockensmith's office. "The story behind this?" she asks, innocently enough. "I just started it from a small pot when we [Finance and Administration] were at 55th and Arapahoe. We moved over here [to FL1] and it just took off." From a discreetly placed pot in one corner of Kay's office, the plant now extends across the entire length and breadth of the ceiling and halfway down the walls. "I use straight pins on the walls and paper clips on the ceiling to hold it up. People that haven't been over here are just in awe when they walk by. They might see it through the window, but they don't get the full effect unless they walk in." Kay maintains that she hasn't a particularly green thumb: "I just water the plant and that's about the extent of it. I think I've given it plant food once. Now I'm trying to get one started at home."

Joan Burkepile

Visitors to Joan Burkepile's FL2 office don't have to guess what her favorite beverage is. There is a sudsy miscellany all over the associate scientist's walls, including a map depicting "Beers of the World" and anecdotes on "Great Beers in History." The international collection of beer bottles in Joan's office window is only a subset of the 500 or so she has at home. "I've actually had some scientific visitors mail me bottles of beer from around the world," she says. Joan and HAO pals have been known to quaff their way through the Corporate Beer Tour at the Old Chicago restaurant, where "you do the whole tour in one evening." But, she hastens to add, "we also do nonalcoholic things." Louise Beierle and Becky Ruttenberg joined Joan in designing the HAO head gear for this year's up- the-hill races. Also, each month a mass birthday party recognizes those in the division celebrating another year. "We all pitch in--the division doesn't pay a thing."

Carol Makowski

Faced with a less-than-ideal office location, RAP administrative assistant Carol Makowski has adapted like a fish takes to water. The corner of her modular FL2 office is a hexagonal aquarium standing four feet high. Because Carol's office is on a corridor intersection point, "people gather here all the time, and they used to look in over my partitions. It's kind of dark in this part of the building, so the aquarium brightens things up. It also masks the noise from the elevator. It's really solved a lot of problems." After clearing the idea with her supervisor, Carol installed the aquarium and stocked it with a variety of exotic fish, including a maroon clown, a needle-nose butterfly, two wrasses, three green gnomes, and a flame angel. "I do have to come in on Saturday and Sunday to feed them. That just takes a minute, of course. I enjoy the fish more here than I would at home, and everyone else gets to enjoy them, not just me."

Leeann Fields

"It's civilized." That's how a Staff Notes scout described the office of Leeann Fields. The quality assurance specialist for COMET has something like a mini-salon in one corner of her FL3 office. Color- coordinated and immaculate, the decor is Leeann's way of making her workplace harmonious. "If I'm going to spend eight to ten hours a day here, I want it to be as nice as possible," she explains. Leeann was shifted from office to office during COMET's rapid expansion over the last couple of years. "There was never any permanency. I told myself, 'When I get my own office, I'm going to make it warm and comfortable.' So now that's how I start my day off." Leeann's office is also a showcase for photos of her daughters Brittney, Breeann, Brilynn, and Brooklynn, whom she likes to call "the killer B's."


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Edited by Bob Henson, bhenson@ucar.edu
Last revised: Thu Mar 30 11:23:38 MST 2000