Continuing fermenting adventures

Since watching Michael Pollan’s Cooked documentary series couple of weeks ago, I’ve been inspired to take up fermenting Sauerkraut* again.

Making Sauerkraut is something I dabbled with last year. I bought a small fermenting jar suitable for a small kitchen, but was immediately hamstrung by just how small it was – it couldn’t even fit half a cabbage in it! I made a few batches of Sauerkraut, experimenting with both white and red cabbage and spices like caraway and juniper berries.

Unfortunately, I invariably overfilled the small jar and the fermentation process caused the contents of the jar to try and escape, making an awful mess in the process. This discouraged me (I can be easily discouraged, sometimes) and I put it in the “too hard” basket.

Mad Millie fermenting crock with ceramic weights
Mad Millie fermenting crock with ceramic weights

As I said, though, Cooked inspired me to try again, so one night I drunkenly ordered a modestly-sized fermenting crock and gave it another shot. The crock is advertised as taking “up to two medium-sized cabbages”. This must mean that the cabbages in Perth are large, as I couldn’t fit both in there! Thankfully, I still had my smaller fermenting jar to take the excess.

I now have a large batch of plain Sauerkraut and a small batch with caraway that will be ready in early April. Once they’re done, I planning to get stuck into kimchi…

* I capitalise it because I’m German. Nouns are capitalised in German, so there.

Subtleties of research data publication

Until recently I thought about research data publication along a single continuum that I’d call Private/Mediated/Public.

  • Private research data is completely private. No third party even knows it exists.
  • Mediated research data is publicly advertised with a metadata record, but third parties need to apply or register for access. This is most appropriate for sensitive research data.
  • Public research data is fully public and openly downloadable and hopefully openly licensed. No application or registration required.

I realise now that there is a second, temporal dimension that needs to be added, based on where a project is in the research lifecycle. This second dimension adds complexity to mediated access as data needs to be shared in different ways at different stages in a project:

  • During peer review
  • During an embargo period
  • After completion of project

During peer review some publishers (e.g. Nature) now require data to be made available to peer reviewers. Since we all love blind peer review, the access must be anonymous! This means we can’t ask for peer reviewers to register. We also don’t necessarily want to publicly release data. Perhaps a mechanism that produces a long, cryptic, hard-to-guess URL (a la Dropbox sharing links) would be a good solution for this.

Sometimes a significant dataset is collected and can support multiple research projects at multiple locations. There is a plan to openly share the data eventually, but we want to tightly control access during an embargo period. This means not only do we want to know exactly who is accessing the data, but we also need a licence in place so that everybody knows how the dataset may or may not be used. Ideally, this licence will have some sort of termination clause that recognises the data will eventually be made fully open.

Finally, we get back to what I originally considered the only kind of mediated access. After a project is completed, a dataset might be considered sensitive and can never be openly shared. We need to maintain the mediated access with a licence that outlines how the dataset may or may not be used.

I suppose I could create a diagram, but I don’t think that way. Has someone else already created one?

What other kind of data publication scenarios are there? I have specifically avoided talking about sharing data with close collaborators – researchers at different institutions that are working on the same project because it’s not “publishing”, per se, even though it bears similarities to my scenario of sharing data during an embargo period.

The downward spiral

Anybody that’s met me in person knows that I’m fat. In fact, according to the BMI scale, I’m obese. I know that BMI isn’t the best measure of these things, but it will do. I acknowledge that the amount of fat I carry is a problem.

Losing weight has long been a goal of mine, and I have achieve varying levels of weight loss. At one stage, I tipped the scales at the whopping 105kg. Today I weighed 87.4kg.


I have discovered the secret to weight loss. It’s very simple, in fact:

Burn more energy than you consume.

If you pay attention to your laws of thermodynamics, you’ll understand how this works.

The principle is simple, but unfortunately the implementation is much more difficult. If you’ve been gaining weight, it’s because you haven’t been exercising enough and you’ve been eating too much. Your body has gotten used to this, and it’s probably comfortable.

If you suddenly ramp up your activity levels and try to limit your eating, you’ll end up a hangry beast like me.

Thankfully, I was able to push through the hangriness and have now hit a stage where I’m not constantly starving.

The best thing is that I’m not too far off my end-of-year goal of 85kg. It might be the first time I’ve actually managed to enact a New Year’s resolution.


Dive report Sunday 2014/01/19

Went diving on Sunday January 19th with some mates at the Kwinana Grain Terminal in the southern suburbs of Perth.

The weather was damn near perfect, although the visibility could have been a little better.

Saw no less than four octopus and a few different species of nudis. The better photos are available here for your viewing pleasure.

The quantified Matthias

I use a variety of sensors, apps and web sites to track my fitness and (eventual) weight loss.

Fitness data flowIn this diagram, rectangles are sensors/inputs, rounded rectangles are iPhone apps and ovals are web sites/servers that store my data. Arrows indicate which way data flow.

Looks kinda complex, doesn’t it? It’s mostly complex because, unless you’re buying ALL of your fitness tracking devices from one company, the various sites don’t like talking to each other on the scale that I demand. Furthermore, there is no granular control over which data is sent where. For example, linking Withings to Fitbit, and then both to Runkeeper means Withings sends your weight data to Fitbit, and then both Withings and Fitbit send that data to Runkeeper. You get double entries, clog up your feed and annoy your friends. I use Syncmetrics to tidy some of the syncing up, but unfortunately it can’t do everything I want it to (yet).

I’m going to write a series of rants/blog posts about each of the devices and apps I use, and how they all work together to help me lose weight.