Friday, July 16, 2004

100 bucks a day to surf the net and chat!

July 16, 2004
For the first time, I had solid sleep till 7.45 am when my alarm went off. I must have been pretty tired because I slept through my ritual dawn awakening. Apart from a minor glitch in biking, the ride was smooth. I jumped too many gears together and the chain came off. I had to dismount and get my hands dirty while putting it back on. It was pretty easy except my hands were now smeared with grease. I tried to rub it off on a nearby mossy tree and succeeded to get most of it off.
When I got on the net and onto blogger, I noticed that they now allowed formatting which is really cool because now I can try different colors. I checked random blogs and they all mentioned this upgrade. The blogger community is pretty excited about it now. Before that, I just used html formatting and it�s more convenient. I also got an email from Barbara who is the ESL Department head. She said that there were 10 more boys coming which got the boy�s tally upto 17 now! She wanted to hire someone else to help me with them because it would make my job easier. So, now there are 27 Japanese students coming for the 2 week orientation period from 3 different Japanese universities! I still have to tell Andi about this development but I think she�ll get it off my journal before I can tell her. I recommended Fumi because I knew he had applied for the RA thing as well and I thought he would have time to help. Plus he also is paid $150 a week with free room and board. Not a bad deal. I also spent a lot of time on Vanderbilt University�s website because that feels like my best bet for grad school so far. I like what I see so far. I know they have a good nanotech program and now it seems like they have a good college life experience too.
Masao got to work and we checked up on the solutions and they were still not done. These are taking longer than usual. They were now to be taken out tomorrow. We don�t have time to make these glasses so I will just carry the precursors with me. I also typed up a letter that Masao later signed talking about the contents of my sample bags in case I was questioned at the airport during baggage checks. So I hope I don�t have any troubles during travel now. After that he said that we would do a DSC run on one of his sodium borate glass. And about an hour later, he tells that he had a faculty meeting at 1.30. He said that it might go for a while but he�ll try to get out if its goes too long. And we could do the test after that. So, we did another quick lunch with stuff we bought at the handimart.
And then he left. I waited and waited. While waiting for him to come back, I was on the net. A couple of hours in, Doll got online. What ensued was a pretty long discussion about gay marriages. I wanted to know what people thought when they said no to this issue because I think gay marriages should be allowed and made legal. This has been a major controversy in US politics and society for sometime now. We chatted about this for a couple of hours and didn�t conclude on anything. So, we decided to carry on the conversation after I got to the US. While random blog viewing, I found a website of a Jennifer Smith from Buffalo, NY. I also saw that she blogged about this issue. So I sent her a comment and then we emailed back and forth about some issues. I wonder if more conversation will ensue tomorrow. I also chatted with Mammi for a while and realized that she was planning to move to UK with her hubby. I am excited about this new development which means that I have more than one reason to visit England! I wish they were coming to US because then they would be easier to get to and in the same country! She told me that grandmom and my cousin were reading my journal. Her hubby saw my picture blog which was cool! And then finally, I got to chat with mum around 5 pm. It was good because I was missing them a lot. I haven�t chatted with papa yet but that might be remedied tomorrow because he has weekends off. She told me about Tubldi�s miscarriage and that made me very gloomy. I was looking forward to seeing the baby next year when I went to visit them. But on the other hand, they had a successful Dubai stopover. And then I decided to leave for my apartments. So today, I did absolutely no work. I was on the internet all day! Is this what I am getting paid a hundred bucks a day for? I feel like working here but things move really slowly. I don�t think Doc will be particularly happy but it�s not my fault.
I got back to the apartment and bought a sandwich and another local beer. I am attempting to sample some of the Japanese beer because they are supposed to be very good. I showered and ate my small dinner. I also finished one of my yogurts. I now have one yogurt left along with some jam, Pepsi Blue, and the rice alcohol. I need to finish all of it before I leave. Today�s entry is considerably shorter because I didn�t do much today.
I guess I can talk a bit about the younger Japanese generations and some observations I have made. Guys and girls are into fashion here. I see them sport trendy outer wear. The girls are always immaculately dressed and surprisingly most of the Japanese girls are pretty cute. However they are usually little with an average height around 5�2�.  The only thing that mars the look is their teeth. But on the other side of the spectrum of dress fashion, I did see a lot of punk fashion which was a refreshing sight in a conservative culture. And then there are Japanese boys. They define the term metrosexual. At a distance, they seem like girls with their delicate features and long-er hair. They also carry large hand bags which are in for male Japanese fashion. I remember talking to Masao about this and he didn�t like that the guys didn�t look like guys anymore. He attributed this to all the junk food that young people eat instead of a balanced diet. It makes their body weaker. One thing that ties them together is that all of them have cell phones. People on bicycles, scooters, cars, buses, trains. Everyone, everywhere is connected. It is amazing to see everyone having a cellphone which is 3G enabled which means that they all have internet access and can do practically anything on the phone. Rich, poor, middle class. Cell phones are a unifying factor in Japan. My apartment doesn�t have a phone because they assume that everyone has a cell phone. And oh yeah, almost everyone smokes. People smoke in class rooms, labs, restaurants, public areas. There are no smoking/non-smoking sections anywhere. Most of the time while eating, I had to eat with cigarette fumes floating around. A lot of them however use bicycles to get around. Only the richer young people can afford cars. And the car dwelling people are dressed in haute couture. They have the best of the best. The people who work in offices are always dressed in suits even the women! It�s a funny sight to see a formally dressed man traveling using a bicycle. About the English proficiency of the general populace if I were to make an educated guess is less than 10%. I have talked in English only with 5 people so far. Most of the young people I have met cannot understand spoken English and can understand some written English. Well, they don�t really need to know English except they learn some in school but never use it. So, teaching them English has null effect. Masao was kind of sad due to that because his students took a whole day to read one page of scientific literature. I saw a girl sitting with her dictionary and she has Japanese translation on top of the English word on the paper. That is also a reason he never sends a student to Coe. I spoke to some of his students and they didn�t speak a word of English. I usually don�t hear a word of English when I go out. They have a few word vocabulary because they understand hello and thank you. It is sad if the only sustained English conversation has been with Masao and I have been here for about a week. By sustained, I mean more than a few minutes. I suppose it�s the same way in France or Germany or someplace where English is not used in everyday life.

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