Sunday, July 31, 2011

Last Post

My time at DIL has come to an end, and I'm on my last week in Germany--as such, this will probably be my last post.  Thanks to all who've posted comments, and to all who read this blog.  I've been toying with the idea of continuing with another blog after this but, considering how far few posts I made this past month, any kind of updating would be entirely sporadic.  If anything comes of it, I'll be sure to let you know.

Last time, I covered my trip to Goslar and the Welcome Party.  I'll go through, more or less, what's happened since.  Work ended up being relatively straight-forward.  I ran through trials with various chemicals (all common salts and things that wouldn't hurt if you spilled it on yourself) and compared the waveforms.  After that, I spent about two weeks working on the actual meat.  I bought four cuts of meat--a lean pork slice, a pork shoulder section, a beef slice, and a slab of pork-fat (not sure what you do with this).

Then I would perform three sets of measurements with the probe--one set of four raw, then I soaked them in salt water overnight and probed them again, then I probed the salt water they sat in.  That's twelve measurements; then factor in five different concentrations of salt-water and I end up with 60 waveforms sampled.  To try and get an idea of the random variation going on, I took two measurements of every step--giving me 120 all told.

So I had a mountain of data, and I spent the next month trying to come up with something useful out of it.  Just looking at the waveforms overlapped was interesting--I compared them by day, by cut of meat, and by set.  What I noticed was that a lot of places had parallel waveforms with slight variations, so I took differences between waveforms to remove the overall amplitude from the picture and just look at the variations.  I did that  for many combinations, and I also took the approximate derivatives of several waveforms to see if the rate of change was different for the samples.

After three months of effort, I was a little disappointed by how things turned out.  I was hoping for something clear and conclusive from the analysis, to be able to say one way or the other if one could identify cuts of meat by waveform.  What I ended up with was a lot of inconclusive information--the probe was influenced by so many factors (and there was so many un-isolated elements to the environment) that the differences between measurements of a sample over a period of time and between samples on different days were huge.

In the end, I had to say that there was no way to be sure the probe was doing anything more than a conductivity meter with the current setup.  I listed the changes which would have to be made to progress the project, and stated that I lacked the experience to say whether these changes were cost-effective and whether the chances of success were worth the cost.  However, Dr. Hucklmann seemed satisfied with my performance and I left on good terms.

Following are random-ish items and accounts (in no particular order).

The goat things.  On the way to work every day, I biked past a fenced mini-pasture containing an unknown species of some domesticated biped.  They were probably goats, but I just can't be sure because of their strange appearance.  They were kind of cute, and not knowing kind of bothered me a little.

The Chinese Restaurant.  Germany has the best Chinese food, and I think my fellows from last-year will agree.  I've had the best Chinese of my life in Germany without a doubt.  On my way home from the gym twice a week, I went into the Chinese place (with real Chinese Immigrants and their kids; they spoke better German than me) and ordered off a print-out English menu.  They had great stuff--I'm suspicious that their chicken was tempura fried, and their duck was fantastic.

Travel stories have become less interesting the more experience I gained--gradually it became a simple matter of deciphering maps and double checking with people going the same way.  I never actually made a mistake on my trip, the only thing was one time when I was trying to get home and I accidentally got into the first-class section.  I ended up having to pay there, but traveling was free otherwise.

All I wanted to say about Bremen, I think I've said with the pictures I posted.  Virtually everything I saw was out-of-context, so there's nothing I can say to add to my stream-of-conscious commentary.  The same can be said of Munster, with the exception of the fact that finding the City-map was much more difficult.  I ended up crossing the street twice before I found the person who knew where the map was (the first people I asked didn't think such a thing existed), and then I had to walk from one end of the terminal to other and back before I could orient myself to the map.  Once I got going, however, things went well.

About a month ago, there was a Goodbye Party for the Study Abroad students.  Travel had become easy by this point, and I easily made my way to the school by bus and walked back to the train-station afterwards.  The problem came when I had been told the building the party was in was the same as last year, and at (literally) the last minute they decided to change it and forgot to notify me.  So I walked around the plaza for a few minutes, calling people who had forgotten I was invited, and no one decided to pick up.  I had given up and was leaving when someone finally called back and walked outside the room the party had been changed to and led me in.  It wasn't of much note beyond that.

I had a quiet sendoff from DIL, (one guy who worked in my room one day a week left at about the same time as me, and after I said we'd probably never meet again [considering he'd be gone even if I did come back to DIL], he said, "Have a nice life.") except for Stephan--who helped me plan my way to the Frankfurt flight (I'd been having trouble finding the schedule for the X150 bus) and who got me a going-away present of a special Northern Germany tea.

I have learned a tremendous amount during my Internship, gaining new skills and confidence along the way.  As I've thanked Dr. Hucklemann and Dr. Werner, I also thank you one last time for you time and attention.  Thank you for reading my blog.

To those who noticed, clearly this is what I meant.


  1. "an unknown species of some domesticated biped."
    -goat things

    oh god, the horror

  2. I too thought the biped thing was hilarious. I have seen goats walk on their two hind feet, it is usually just before they charge you with their horns.

  3. That's the craziest thing I've ever seen. I had no idea a Google search for bipedal goat would have any results at all. Nuts.