Today, I spent most of my workday cooking. The remainder was spent putting out fires and giving speeches…ha – caught your attention, didn’t I! No – I’m not as flashy and important as that sounds, but today was – as usual, an adventure!
In working with a grill, I also get to work with food – and cook it to get data and information that we require. My boss asked me to write up a procedure, so I set it up like a lab that we have to do in class… (see, I did learn something in school!) I set up a procedure and a list of required materials, and made a data sheet to fill out for each one – to keep it organized. Then we cooked for the morning, right up until lunch. There’s a picture of me below (from the other day) setting up the data acquisition system we use.
After lunch, there was a meeting of all the researchers at our facility (~50 people). It caught me off-guard when my boss asked if I was ready to go, because I thought it was tomorrow! I had to introduce myself in front of everyone in Japanese. I had to stand up at a podium on a small stage, in front of everyone! I have to admit: I was scared out of my mind. It reminded me of Grade 9 French class when we had to give presentations and didn’t quite understand what we were saying or how to pronounce it – this case was worse, though, because everyone spoke fluently the language I was attempting not to butcher! It went well, though, I think. After that we headed back to keep cooking up a storm. Having trouble keeping the thermocouples where they were supposed to be, I suggested we use a small block of wood to hold them in place (drill holes, put them through, etc). It sounded like a good idea, so we made one up, and it worked wonderfully! We started up the grill and sat back to watch the temperatures rise slowly on the computer screen in front of us. This was the third experiment of the day, and the first two had given varied results, but nothing solid like we were hoping for. This third one was working perfectly and seemed to be in synch with what we were expecting. Out of the corner of my eye, I caught a flash of light, and the grill chamber seemed to have new life, in the form of flames! I said, “Uh – it’s on fire!” and my boss said, “Should I turn it off?” I tried not to laugh, because it seemed to me that the first thing to do would be to shut off the heat source… We tried to blow it out, but it was still producing pretty red and orange flickers. I’m sure my boss thought I was an idiot, because I was laughing pretty hard. Nothing was really in danger, except our food, and I thought it was kind of a funny situation. I suggested water, but he said that would be a last resort. We kept blowing but nothing was happening…there was a minute or so of sitting and watching it and looking around the room for something that might help put it out. I was still laughing, but trying to make sure my boss knew I understood that this was not a good thing. I blew again, and it finally went out. The food was fine – cooked to perfection, I thought! The block of wood didn’t fare so well and was more of a crumbly charcoal chunk. I was shocked that it had lit on fire – I would have thought the food would light on fire before the wood! We did get enough data to make it useful, however. Takemori-San said he would look into getting a chunk of aluminum to re-create the block with. We cleaned up and had some experimentally cooked tempura, then called it a day.
Another day, another adventure…tomorrow will also be an adventure (I’m sure) as I attempt the mysterious gym & pool again – wish me luck!