Saturday, July 30, 2011

Thank you cards written in our last Thursday open Market in Delft

Thursday was our last day in Delft. We went to the Thursday open market in the center. After going around, trying herring and having good lunch at the square, we decided to find a place to write thank you cards to Unesco IHE staffs who were very kind to host us last 2 months. Thanks to all our hot models ( Kristen, Suzie, Caryssa) to help our team to express our appreciation to Unesco IHE staffs.

The people you met the people you work with (ep. 3): Lucian interviewed Anton

The people you met the people you work with (ep. 2): Lucian

So yesterday, we had a short interview with one of our friends in Unesco IHE, Lucian. Lucian is also the first student we've met in IHE. He introduced us with some other IHE student on the first day we were at IHE. We would to thank him so much for his kindness and friendship.

Interviewer: Anton
Camera man: Anh

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

We learn most from our peers

As I wrap up here in at IHE I wanted to mention one person who has been a huge help with my research this summer.  Marco Pinna, a fellow student working on his master's at IHE really showed me the ropes in the lab.  I would have never figured out how to do total nitrogen with out him.  Maro is working on subsurface constructed wetlands comparing aerated and non-aerated systems to see if it is possible to do nitrification and denitrification in both systems.  He will graduate with his masters at the end of the year from the University of Cagliari, Italy.


pasta at night in Barcelona

How can you find a good and cheap restaurant at night in Tampa ? the answer is "very difficult" or sometime "impossible". But in Barcelona, many restaurants open until 1 or 2 am which is awesome. So imagine somehow if you could not have a good dinner or didn't have time to have dinner (coz you were too busy with the lab work or research T.T) then you could find a cheap and a good food restaurant at night, that is awesomeee. In Barcelona you can do it. I went with my friend to a pasta restaurant in Barcelona around 1 am in the morning on Saturday. It was still very crowded at the restaurant. This restaurant is small but very cozy. The decoration of this restaurant impressed me a lot.The pasta was one of the best I've ever tasted before. I wish they will have a restaurant like that in Tampa someday :)

the people you met the people you work with (ep.1)

This is Pimluck, a PhD student in Dr. Lens group at Unesco IHE. She was working with me on gypsum leachate treatment in the past 2 months. I'd like to thank her so much for her help and friendship during last two months. Hopefully we will have chance to work together sometime in future.

Chemical Organization at UNESCO-IHE

I really like UNESCO-IHE's system of organization for the storage of chemicals in the lab, and I'd like to copy it for use in our USF labs. In the photo above, you can see that the chemicals are stored on labeled shelves adjacent to a poster board. The chemicals are stored for the most part in alphabetical order. Each chemical has been given a designated spot on a shelf and a shelf number. The shelf number can be found both on the container, the designated spot, and the poster.

The photo above shows the first column of the poster. You can see the shelf number, the name of chemical, the chemical formula, references in the lab manual, and safety information.

Random things

I know everyone is very busy working on finalizing our projects before the end of the trip, so I'm posting some random things I've seen here...

Graffiti in a church
Tree for sale
BestToiletpaper... ever?
How to ruin a picture
...and back to work.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

So we've doneeee with final presentations !!!

I'm so exited, no I think we all excited to say that we finally have done the final presentation today. Time's flying incredibly fast. Last week, I almost did realize that we just had few days left in the Netherlands. So we have been in the Netherlands and doing research in Unesco IHE for 2 months. Today is the day we had a chance to present to everybody about what we have done in the past two months. Before the presentation, everybody seems a little bit nervous. Thanks a lot to all IHE students and staffs who showed up to day at the presentation to support us even though it's the fact that more people would make us more nervous tho ^__^. But we all were doing great for delivering the presentation to the audience. It was a huge relief for all of us after the presentation. Then we decided to go to a BBQ  to celebrate. Thanks to Suzie and Mari to find us a great restaurant which can give us all you can eat spare ribs for just 10,95 E. The best deal ever in Europe !!!

what an exciting day !!!

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Most Anticipated Post of All Time!!!

You can spot these signs all over the Netherlands.

It literally translates to dog in the gutter. In an effort to reduce stinky-shoe-dilemas and doggy poop on the sidewalks, the Dutch suggest that Lassie and
poop in the gutters rather than on the streets and sidewalks. This brings up the issue of urban water quality and one must consider whether we really want to introduce feces into the water canals. There may be a better alternative such as picking up after your pet rather than increasing water pollution in an effort to reduce waste on the streets.


When I'm thirsty in the lab

Sometimes I wish it was orange juice, but sadly, it's just Fe3+ in Jasmina's jar tests.

Mine look more like this. If you look closely you can see the beautiful flocs forming.

 I wrapped up my final coagulation experiments last week and have been focusing on the report as Delft's skies cry for our departure (it's been cold and rainy all week!!). Hopefully the sun will come out soon.


We don't need a stress ball...

when we have our Turkish friend, the durum donor, available at all hours of the night.

Caryssa and I decided to unglue ourselves from our presentations and papers for a midnight bike ride which inevitably led to food. Don't worry, there's vegetables in there somewhere, and the cholesterol will go well with the diabetes I'm sure to develop from the stroop waffles. We'll sincerely miss you Delft.

Hopefully my nightmares will cease soon, and I'll have some sweet dreams about this tasty treat from Delft's San Marco.


Sunday, July 24, 2011

Finishing Up!!

It's truly been quite a summer. I originally thought 3 months would feel like ages, but not only did the time FLY, I want more time to research!!

Coming into the summer, I knew little about biosorption of heavy metals, but now I'm proud to announce I'm quite the expert! I'm currently writing my final report and preparing my presentation, and I feel as if I really accomplished something noteworthy this summer. I'm looking back at my experience - a combination of bitter frustration and blissful achievement - and I can't begin to describe how I have grown as a researcher. I can't wait to get return home to continue research on USF's water quality, followed by future projects! As an added bonus, I managed to travel to 4 countries besides the Netherlands this Summer. I have been instilled with a drive to explore more of the world, as my experiences in France, Germany, Belgium, Italy, and the Netherlands were each unique and absolutely incredible.

More soon, but I need to keep working on my presentation - I'm excited!!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sea Defense

The island of Ameland is north of the Dutch mainland across the Wadden Sea. There are two ways to get there: take the ferry or walk. At low tide, areas of the Wadden Sea empty out, and guides can take people from the mainland to the nearby islands across the mudflats.

Mudflats of the Wadden Sea
Due to time constraints, I had to take the ferry. The ferry leaves from Holwerd, and to get there you have to travel parallel to and over the zeedijk (seawall) or the large barrier between the mainland and the sea.

Zeedijk in the background - it goes on forever

Ferry to the island of Ameland
Birds following the ferry
The ferry to Ameland stops in Nes, one of the few towns on the island. The majority of the island is covered in dunes.

Town of Nes, Ameland

Houses on Ameland
Dunes on the North Sea
 The chain of islands makes up the first barrier, similar to the barrier beach islands in the Tampa Bay area. However, the northern Dutch islands maintain their natural dune and vegetative characteristics, whereas those around Tampa Bay have been largely urbanized. The coastline comparison follows the same trend - the sparsely populated Friesland has the land available to put space between larger population centers and the sea, as well as the space for the high zeedijk. However, in the immediate Tampa Bay area, there are many examples of development pushed to the edge of the waterline.

Lots of agriculture
Between the natural sea dunes on the islands and the man-made zeedijk on the mainland, the local population doesn't worry about sea flooding.


A different country (literally)…

This weekend I traveled to Deutschland (or Germany) with Caryssa.  It was absolutely fantastic.  We flew to Munich, Germany and stayed for a couple of nights.  We saw castles and palaces and beer…lots of beer.  During our travels in Germany one of the big things I noticed was how different the country side was and how different the architecture was.

Munich is about 850 km (528 mi) south east of Amsterdam so a little bit less than Miami to Atlanta.  The landscape changes from the flat planes of the Netherlands to the forested foothills of the German Alps.  In Germany there are trees and forests everywhere with rolling hills of grassland and farmland in between.  It is absolutely beautiful.  I would say the transition is actually pretty similar to the transition between Miami and Atlanta although without palm trees on the Florida end and a bit more forested on the Georgia end. 

Architecture also changes the country homes of the Netherlands are nothing like the country homes of Germany.  In the Netherlands they tend to have big front windows where as in Germany this distinct feature is absent.  Instead many homes have a concrete base, wooden top complete with balcony and flowers, and clay roof.  I think the one constant between both places is the clay roofs. 

Traditional Dutch home, notice the large front window and clay roof.

German countryside, taken from the train.  This sort of gives you an idea of what it looked like but sometimes there were more trees and the pockets of houses were bigger.  Imagine this pocketed with small villages

Picture of a home in Germany, again from the train.  Multiple smaller windows instead of the larger front windows of the Dutch homes.  Also many house had red flowers hanging from either windows or on the balcony, you can sort of see them in this image (the red spots).

One last note, where in the Netherlands you see wind turbines in Germany many places had solar panels.  It was interesting to see how different Germany is from the Netherlands.


Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Greetings from Friesland

Waiting for a bus in quiet Friesland
I traveled north over the weekend to the province of Friesland (or Fryslan), the home of my Dutch (or I should say Frisian) ancestors. Friesland is largely agricultural, but the countryside is dotted with small medieval towns. The region also has its own Frisian language in addition to Dutch.

From Delft, a three hour train ride will get you to the Frisian capital of Leeuwarden. From there, the only way to reach most towns is by bus. Once out of Leeuwarden, all you see are sheep, cows, and small picturesque towns.

View from the bus - sheep
I stayed in Dokkum, one of the larger (but still quite small) towns. The main part of Dokkum lies on a raised island with the Ee River cutting through. In medieval times Dokkum had a city wall with fortifications around the six points of the island. Today the wall is gone. Two of the six points have working windmills, one houses a cemetary, and another is a playground.

Raised island and fortification point
Windmill in Dokkum
Towards the town center
Dokkum's reformed church
Markings for St. Boniface's route

Monday, July 11, 2011

Delft's Oude Kerk and Niewe Kerk in Pictures

 Vermeer's grave in the Oude Kerk

View of Oude Kerk from Niewe Kerk Tower
View of Center Square from Niewe Kerk Tower


View of Delft from Niewe Kerk Tower

Interior of Niewe Kerk

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The saga continues...

 My vegetative walls when through some more modifications last week.  I've been having problems with my effluent, specifically a lack of effluent in some of my columns.  The water goes in the top and doesn't seem to come out the bottom at least not the way I want it to.  In attempt to solve this problem I added some plastic inserts to the bottom of my panels.  Hopefully they will sort of keep the panel from absorbing the influent and channel it out of the soil.  So far it hasn't been as successful as I would like but I'll keep my fingers crossed.

*Update* As of Tuesday I had effluent from 7 of 8 columns a significant improvement over my previous 5 of 8.

You can see at the bottom there are white pieces of plastic extending from the bottom.  I also added some rope to stabilize the whole panel.  There was a incident on Friday...

Here you can see more clearly the plastic.  It goes up a few centimeters into the panel to prevent water spreading from the soil to the rock wool.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Flying high in Paris

So We went to Paris last weekend. I'd like to thank so much to the NSF IRES program for giving us a great chance to do research here and also  to experience the European cultures.
1. ..2...prepare to take off

and flying

high and wow so high ^_^
Eiffel tower
We flew from Arc de triomphe to Eiffel tower (on the second level of Eiffel Tower)

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