Irish Folk Songs

Today I met two guys in a park in Cologne. One of them plays the banjo and the other plays the fiddle. I play the guitar and sing and now I am member of a small band dedicated to playing Irish traditional folk songs and some other Irish-influenced stuff. (From The Dubliners, Flogging Molly and The Pogues).

I first got to know them online because between all the bands doing “insert-whatever”core looking for musicians their offer for a folk-rock project stuck out.

Our first meeting went really well, we had agreed on a couple of songs to play and so we just met and played along and it worked out really nice. I didn’t have so much fun making music for a long, long time…so I hope this goes on for a while…



The last post was dedicated to my sheer happiness about having finished my thesis.

This one is for all the people who helped me along.

My supervisors at the IFHT, the institute for high voltage technology, who were always there to answer my questions.
My colleagues at the IFHT, for a nice working atmosphere, for the fun we shared and for the exchange of tips and talks about our theses.
Helmut, from the institute’s workshop for always providing me with the much-needed testing material just in time.
Bernd, (thesis-wise my predecessor) who developed a method for measuring arcs which I found impossible to improve.

Matthias, for helping me in an amazing way with MatLab and providing valuable data-processing knowledge.

Jens, for the clarifying talks about self-blast circuit breakers and undefined potentials.

Andreas, for helping me getting some LaTeX issues sorted out.

My brother, for helping with all the other PC issues I faced.

Last, but not least:

Tanja, for being a great help to me at all times, for putting up with my bad moods and for always encouraging me to go on.

submission accomplished

Yesterday I submitted my thesis.

After several busy weeks I still had to pull out an all-nighter to finally finish it. But that’s the way it goes,  I suppose.

Anyway, I’m approaching graduation. Two weeks of a school internship, two more papers, one more oral exam.

And then, finally. But today I’ll enjoy some well-deserved quiet hours on the couch. I don’t really know what to write. My head was filled with thesis, thesis and thesis and right now I don’t really know what it’s filled with. But it’s a nice feeling. 🙂


I am very busy these days, writing my thesis and all that. At the same time I have to learn quite some additional IT skills, e.g. how to use the amazing numerical mathmatical software MatLab or the “document markup language” LaTeX.

This is at the same time very very frightening and very rewarding. Frightening because the time I have to spend to understand and use software I never used before takes up quite some of my precious time. Rewarding because it was long ago that I truly learned something new and I started to be a bit bored.  Plus, there are not many things like the feel of having accomplished something.

Fingers crossed that I will accomplish a lot today. 😉

Lab work

As you already know, I am working on a thesis concerning self-blast circuit-breakers.

Hopefully, the lab-and-testing part of the thesis now lies behind me. I have acquired quite a lot of data and what I have to do now is to find out what this data can tell us about the processes in a self-blast circuit-breaker at current zero.

After the mobile phone disaster the rest of the testing went quite well.  The last part was a bit more strenuous because I changed the insulation gas from CO2 to SF6. SF6 is a gas with very good insulation properties but also a greenhouse gas (22000 times the global warming potential of CO2) and the chemical byproducts produced when it is exposed to arcs are somewhat unhealthy. Therefore it needs to be handled with care. For the climatic part there is a filter and a tank so the gas can be reused several times. For the health part, we use this:


Looks good, isn’t it?

It’s rather cool to work with dangerous stuff. Makes work more thrilling. And it kind of compensates for the uncoolness of a lab in the basement which nobody (except the people who need and use it) ever enters.

And my mobile phone went BOOOM

For my thesis I’m working in the lab in the Institute for High Voltage Engineering where I am researching on a self-blast circuit-breaker, trying to measure the voltage drop within the arc during switching.

A self-blast circuit-breaker needs a pressurized insulating gas to quench the arc. Therefore the CB that we use is installed in a vessel. From the vessel the air is evacuated and then it is filled with insulating gas – either SF6 or CO2. Because it is very dark in this vessel, I switched the light of my mobile on and put it inside the vessel, connected the breaker, checked the connections, checked again and then closed the vessel.

Well, the phone was still inside. I evacuated (10 mbar), put in the CO2 (4 bar) loaded the test circuit and gave the breaker some 5 kAmps (peak).

Measurement went well, data is safely stored, labmate comes in talking on his mobile, I think, hang on, where’ s my mobile? and the thruth dawns on me…I rush inside the lab (not forgetting to check for safety) open the vessel and … there it is, the light still on.

Good lord, I thank thee for salvaging the stupid ass’s mobile. And I never ever again want to feel like I felt in the moment I realized what I had done…

South East Asia part 3: Thailand

Well, actually, that’s what I should write right now. But there were so many things I had to do in-between that by now our holiday is such a long time ago that it’s hardly appropriate anymore to write about it.

You deserve a short overview, however.

We spent one night in Bangkok in a lovely hotel close to the über-touristy Khao-San road which we visited in the evening. For the following day we had hired a driver with a Volkswagen van who brought us to Kho Chang. This island is situated off the coast of Thailand’s region bordering Cambodia.  The island is a national park except for the beaches that are packed with hotels and tourists. In the last years innumerable hotels, ressorts, pubs, shops and restaurants have popped out of the ground and turned an Robinson Crusoe island in a standard tourist-place. Except that they refrained from building the hotels more than 2 storeys high. Which is at least something.

It seems that tourists, no matter how much they seek to be remote from civilization and immersed in nature, still do not want to forego commodities as pubs, beer, internet and shopping.

We made a terrific snorkeling trip. That was probably the highlight of our Thailand holidays. So clear water and an abundance of colourful fish. Otherwise we did nothing special on the island because we were all in need of some serious relaxing. After all, we had spent quite a long time before on the move and seen a lot of things already.

After leaving Koh Chang we spent two more days in Bangkok, visited the king’s palace, Wat Po, Wat Pra Keo and Wat Arun. The architecture is strikingly different from what I knew from Europe. It was really nice. On our last day we visited the national museum which was also really cool. The history section was very interesting with the facts arranged in a way that they gave the impression that Thailand always was the leading power of the region. Moreover it supported Thailand’s claims on certain areas that once (a long time ago) belonged to Thailand. It was as if in a German national museum there was be a display of Sicily as a rightful part of the German empire (because, of course, as everybody knows, Sicily belonged to the German empire in the times of the Holy Roman Emperor Friedrich II). Okay, I admit it, that is a bit too far fetched. But you’re getting the point. For the critical mind of mine it was a tad too biased and that again a bit too obvious.

But the people of Thailand were usually extremely friendly people and made us visitors fell very welcome. It is indeed a nice country. But before going to Asia again I want to see America north and south.