Spring 2011

Our intern, Ali - an undergraduate student from Middlebury College, details her experiences from her summer with the HOT program.

Monday, April 25, 2011

R2D2 Meets the Autosal

Wednesday, the Autosal and I were mere acquaintances. By Thursday afternoon, we were thick as thieves.  Duplicate water samples needed to be run through the machine to verify the machine’s salinity measurements remained accurate throughout the processing that Cammy completed this week.  I watched Craig run ten or so of these samples trying to memorize every button to press and surface to Kimwipe dry.  The key to getting to know the Autosal, apparently, is the opposite of that of any normal friendship. You must try to be as robotic and void of character in your interactions in order to function properly together. The Autosal determines the salinity of a water sample by running current in four spiral metal probes and measuring the extent to which the water surrounding the probes conducts electricity.  Small bubbles around the spirals, variations in the time the water sits in the cell, rinsing once to many or once too few times or failing to vacuum away all the water from the past sample can affect your results in small ways.  These small effects easily compound to skew your overall patterns.  After watching with strenuous attention to detail, I tried to repeat his robotic routine.  My first few runs were littered with small mistakes – forgetting to flush the water here, forgetting to Kimwipe there. But by my fourth practice run, I was feeling pretty characterless. I stayed true to the routine to the very end – even entering my results into the database, which was powered off and could care less. Just call me R2D2.

The war against Dreamweaver continues.  Naively, I had thought that I had won the war when, 20 minutes before 1700, I came to Craig’s office to show him what I had completed so far.  He did some more clicking of his magic fingers and put my page on the honest to goodness internet. Of course, it would be quite an Easter egg hunt to find the page online without knowing the URL. But that did not inhibit my excitement at being an official webmaster.  ‘Master’ turn out to be a little preemptive. The moment we opened the page, my spry menu disintegrated into a jumble of broken links.  The battle ahead will be to recreate the links and nurse my spry menu bar back to health.

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