Category Archives: Research

Tail-end of the sunrise

Lined up at terminal five...

Happily the sunrises are coming earlier and earlier now.  I had been up for about 5 hours by the time this one came along,  so I got to really anticipate it.

Measurements at the airport have really got into full swing, and seem to be rolling more smoothly after some initial hiccups.  It is a bit of a challenge to do the early shifts, late shifts, and graveyard shifts, but on the bright side I don’t have to spend the whole time lifting suitcases.

Peanut power

Finished peanut pyramid

How do you take on a lot of calories quickly?  This question seems out of place when almost everyone talks about calorie-restriction and weight-loss, but it depends on your application.

While following the workers at the airport, we take breaks when they do.  Except we also have to download data and take care of things during lunch, which doesn’t always leave a lot of time for sit-down eating.  The workers also fit in their breaks between flights, and sometimes they eat at a different terminal (where my lunch is not stored) or they buy something somewhere in the airport (which is only useful if you brought your wallet!)  And that is just lunch… these are long days where we stay at a hotel that doesn’t have a very nice restaurant, and spend a lot of time airside where we have access the vending machine food that I would rather did not comprise a large part of my diet.

So it would be nice to have a portable, easy-to-store, healthy and tasty snack that is easy to eat with one hand while you hold a video camera. Graham makes power bars for regattas, but our activity is not really that high-intensity (walking around in the cold holding a video camera) so it might be nicer to have something with a lower glycemic index that will stick with you a bit longer.  Enter peanut butter balls!  Norman might like these because they are high-protein, but Grunow will hate them because they are high-fat (although they are good fats!)

Swedish ingredients. Not the best peanut butter, maybe....

Here is the recipe if you want to try them:

  • Peanut butter (you could also use other nut butters or soy butter)
  • Honey
  • Milk powder (you could also throw in some soy flour if milk is not your game.)
  • Diced dried fruits: raisins, apricots, prunes, figs, etc.
  • Seeds: pumpkin, sunflower, flax, sesame, etc.
  • Coconut

Mixing! This is where Graham usually chips in

Mix it all up so that it holds together. If it is still too sticky, you can add some oat bran or wheat bran or even wheat germ if you feel there is not enough calories in it yet.  Roll them into balls.  If you want to get fancy you can roll them in black sesame seeds or even cacao.

Store them in the fridge for the long term, but they are fine out of the fridge for a couple weeks with no problem.

Adding the seeds

Jump right into it

737s always remind me of domestic travel on Westjet.

I had a good trip back, and despite taking 3 separate flights leaving from 3 countries I got here without delays and with all my luggage.

Yesterday was my 8th full day in Sweden since coming back from Canada. Most of those days have been spent at the airport doing the flight loader project rather than at my apartment in Gävle.

When my plane landed, I went to the hotel and met with my colleagues to plan the next day of research at the airport. I wasn’t exactly adapted to the 9-hour time difference, but luckily we had to get up at 03:30 for a morning shift, so my sleeplessness would be put to good use.

Naturally we had some challenges in the first days of sampling, but we seem to have settled into a rhythm. The days are long; we arrive before the workers show up, and then they arrive before their shift starts so we can set up the equipment, then they work all day (un)loading planes. THEN we take off the equipment and start the process of data download and back-up, which can take a while.  After that we go to a hotel, sleep, and repeat for 2 additional days.

I think this explains why I haven’t made many posts since coming back. 😉

Forwarned is forarmed

The flight loader project promotional poster hanging up at the airport

Unfortunately we have found out that we will not be able to make any measurements at the Stockholm Arlanda airport until January.  It would have been nice to get a head start on these measurements before the Christmas break, but it was not to be.  However, I think the extra time will be useful, as it will give us a chance to map out our data processing and analysis plans.  This is helpful because it means we can hit the ground running once we have our data, but also since having a firm plan for analysis can improve our data collection methods.  It is painful and all-too-common to come to analysis stage and wish you had collected one extra piece of information or collected it in a slightly different way.  The silver lining of waiting a few extra weeks means we have the opportunity to do that kind of wishing with our pilot data and make any adjustments we need.

Rockin’ the kroner

The lovely Korsnäs paper factory in Skutskär, sparkling on a sunny day...

On Thursday our exposure modelling research team here at CBF was awarded 2.2 million kroner (roughly 350,000 CDN). Marina Heiden is the lead researcher on this study, and I am a co-investigator on the grant. It is a nice acknowledgement that they chose our study out of all the applicants; there is typically a 10% funding rate at the Swedish National Council for Worklife and Social Science.  It will also be exciting to plan this next study in a more concrete way now that we know we will be moving ahead… and it looks like there will be some more data collection to keep me busy in the Spring!

This study is called ‘Cost-efficient modelling of physical work load – an empirical study of postures in industry’  (Kostnadseffektiv modellering av fysisk arbetsbelastning – en empirisk studie av arbetsställningar i industrin) and will investigate the working postures of pulp mill workers at a variety of different machines and tasks in a paper mill.  This will help us understand the exposures and risks encountered by these workers, but our main goal will be to find cheaper and better ways of measure posture exposures, so that future research and risk identification will be cheaper and easier (and therefore more likely to be completed successfully).

Snökaoset på Flygplats

I spent this week pilot testing at the Stockholm Arlanda Airport.  I realize in this context, ‘pilot testing’ sounds like breathalizing the flight deck.  We were actually doing some advance test measurements for the big sampling campaign we plan to start in a few weeks.

Heavy lifting, with a bit of blur since plane loading happens quickly!
All bundled up and filming the workers

The first workers we were scheduled to measure worked the afternoon shift, starting at working 14:00 and ending at 23:30.  It was a great test, and helped prepare us for the next afternoon shift on Tuesday, during the first big snowstorm of the year.

A snow picture of us in the brief periods of daylight. It was windy, so squinting was a must! L to R: Calle, Me, Jens, Jennie

If the goal of piloting is to test our methods and our mettle, mission accomplished! It was cold and chaotic and blowing ice shards and everyone was really busy trying to de-ice the planes and get the bags loaded and unloaded. It was a little surprising to me that tractors and other machinery at Arlanda has non-pneumatic, slick tires without any tread at all.  There is no chance for these to get through the snow when it starts piling up!

One of my favourite shots: Jennie filming the plane coming in. Notice our custom vests!