July 13, 2004
For some reason, I have to wake up at the crack of dawn everyday. I have not been able to figure this out yet! Another mighty weird dream, this time about Misuk�s room mate Sara. I don�t know why she would be such a prominent feature in my dream because I don�t know her really. We have at most exchanged a few sentences the once I was up in Misuk�s room. Anyway, I was up again at 7.30 waiting for the alarm to go off at 8 am. This time I actually shaved in the morning finally! I decided that Masao should see my clean face sometime. Hehe. I don�t feel like cleaning up in the morning because I feel yucky by the time I get to work anyway. It doesn�t even feel like I have showered or anything. I wish he had his air conditioners running. I left for work around 8.30 after a few glasses of milk as breakfast. At least I am getting my everyday calcium. This time I remembered to stop by the post office and sent my postcards. I am going to send some more since I got a few more addresses. Sending postcards were only 70 yen each which is surprisingly cheap! I was assuming it would be atleast 200 Y each. Good for me I suppose. I rode a bit easier today so that I didn�t perspire as much. Usually I zip through pedestrian lights if there is no traffic on the road. I also keep as much as possible on the road instead of the side walk because walking people are impediments!
When I got to university, I hooked up the laptop and got it running. I got an email from Andi. I wrote her the email yesterday thinking that I would make it short but it turned out to be pretty long. She�s roller blading and having a lot of fun with it. I sent her a reply. She�s lucky that she gets to see her friends from home. I wish I could that:(. When I hear her tell me the fun she is having with her home friends, I miss my friends back home even more. At least I still have some correspondence running primarily by email or instant messaging. I chatted with Britta for quite sometime which was great because I haven�t talked to her for about a week. There is some excitement headed her way with the bachelorette party. I think the bride wants strippers but she wants alcohol more. So, I think alcohol won this round. She actually read in between the lines in my journal which made me happy. I miss hanging out with her. We saw a lot of each other since April especially in May term. She being around made May term bearable. I�ll get to see her in about a month when she comes in early for the Diplomat thing. Which reminds me that I have to still get the Diplomat info from Pat or Deanna because I have to assign the incoming international students to the volunteers. I have to remember to email them. I also talked to Robi because he was online pretty late in the night. He also read my journal entries in the email that I sent them. He got a 30 GB Nomad Zen jukebox for graduation! Lucky guy! He has changed! I hope I recognize his scrawny ass when I see him in December. He is planning on getting his hair dyed red. My mum agreed because it was either hair coloring or body piercing. I don�t know if my brother can handle body piercing actually.. hehe. I told him to tell mum and dad to get online to chat with me.
And then Masao got to work at 10 am and we checked up on the solutions from yesterday. They were still not done which meant that I was not making any glasses today. So, my work is delayed till tomorrow. I then gave him the present I got for him, the elephant inside the elephant. He was very happy to get this from me. He was amazed at the intricacy of the work involved. He has been getting me a Vitamin D drink which tastes pretty good and not medicinal like I expected. For good health he says. Later, he started checking his results, so I was back on my computer since I had nothing to do all morning. I sent more emails. I got a couple of emails today from people. Inga always sends me a quick reply which is awesome! I really miss her because I got attached to her during the short 4 months she was here. She also gave me some very valuable advice. She is preparing for her examinations and I hope she does well. I sent an email to Greg updating him to stuff happening here. I also asked him to get an update about my paper from Doc. I have a lot of time in the evening to make corrections in my paper. I showed Masao our research results from Coe and he was impressed. He was interested to see our results from an extension of his method and wants read my paper after it�s fully corrected and stuff. I told him that I might get to present this paper later if I get more data for the glasses. I need to get a complete Tg picture of the high alkali content borates. While talking to him later, he suggested doing some electrical conductivity tests for high alkali borates because they should be good ionic conductors. The stuff I am doing might actually have some real world applications. We have to been told that conductive glasses are the best bet for light weight batteries which are not toxic. A possible use would be in space missions. But that�s in the distant future. People at Iowa State are doing research in glasses for this application and they are getting funded by NASA as far I know.
We head out to lunch at noon to go to a curry place about 15 minutes away. It was my first Japanese version of curry and cost 850 Y which translates to about $8. It tasted very good and I was pretty hungry at that point. I had a chicken and sausage curry with cheese on top. It had rice on the bottom of the plate. It was piping hot and kept me lingering for more after I finished it. This time it was the right amount of food and I didn�t over eat.
We head straight back to work because we were going to do a DSC run on one of his borates. Except as it turned out, the software was in Japanese. So, I couldn�t use it and I just watched Masao use it. The prep involving this DSC equipment was different from Coe�s. He ran the sample through 3 chemical cleans to remove the moisture contamination from the surface. First distilled water with vigorous shaking, then ethanol, and finally acetone. He normally doesn�t use acetone to clean his metallic equipment because he thinks it can also contaminate the glass. And since gloves are not used here for any chemical processes, ethanol is safer to use. And then he broke the glass into small pieces because he only needed a 30 mg sample. He used an analytical weighing balance which was sensitive upto 10 �g. I think it is amazing sensitivity because this balance is affected by even a minor temperature change. The most sensitive balance at Coe has an error in 1 mg or 1000 �g. This is the reason he has really accurate results and intricacies can be seen in his data. He then annealed the glass in the platinum DSC pan at 1000 �C for 5 minutes. He used a hand built furnace for this. It seems like antiquity but it works great for his purposes. And it�s cheaper, by a few orders of magnitude! He does two runs because the first run is usually the bad run and the second run gives better results. Each run takes 80 minutes while compared to 15 minutes at Coe. He had done a thorough analysis of the change in results due to varying heating/cooling rates. We heat/cool at 40 K/min and he does it at 10 K/min. I never knew about differing results due to different rates of cooling/heating, and I don�t know if Doc has thought about this. I think we would get better results with finer data with a slower heating/cooling rate because it would give the glass more time to respond. But it could be that at Coe, we don�t need such accurate results. Or maybe we do, and we just don�t know about it. A 10% error is normally considered ok but that�s not the case in Japan. While he was doing his runs, I was free to use the internet again. I also tried calling home again and failed to make a proper connection. I thought it connected at home but it disconnected as soon as it connected. I don�t know if they can call me, so I plan on waiting to talk to them till I get back into the US. For now IM or email is fine although they haven�t replied to my email yet.
I did more mailing and browsing. I think I am caught up with people I can mail because I emailed most people I normally email in India. I checked on incoming traffic on my blog and it has increased since I have been telling people to check it out. I am writing pretty long journal entries but I like to do it. People can read it completely if they feel like it. I know a couple of my friends are reading it fully. I got to chat with Doll for a long time and caught up with stuff happening on her end. She really liked the Terminal when she watched it yesterday. It�s a very well made romantic comedy. At least I think so. I chatted with Abhiram for a bit because it was his birthday and I sent him an ecard. He says that it made his day :)! He turned 20 and got 20 bday bumps. His butt hurts. Hehe. I talked to tubldi and mammi for a while too. Actually, I chatted with a lot of people today! Tubldi is having her bouts of preginess and she just fractured her right foot! That really sucks because she has to wear a cast for 6 weeks. For some reason, this laptop refuses to load my picture blog. So odd. But other people can view it. As Doll puts it, I need more pictures with me in it. True. I will get some with me in it this weekend.
After another drink break, I went into my last stretch of internet access for tonight. I noticed that spymac has changed its interface and I like the new version. And around 8.30, I packed up to leave. Both I and Masao left at the same time, so we walked till he had to deviate to go towards home. Before that, we stopped at a convenience store and he bought me some food again but this time I bought the alcohol. I got a fermented distilled rice alcohol called Shochu which differs from Sake which is just fermented rice alcohol not distilled. I got back home around 9 and opened my freezer to remove my frozen Nalgene because I forgot to take it out of the freezer to take with me to work. It took me around 10 minutes under hot water to un-freeze my bottle so that I could use it again. I took a shower and ate my small dinner with my usual couple of glasses of Vitamin C carbonated drink. The dinner was a curry filled bread thing and then for dessert, a Japanese sweet bean filled thing. It was a 250 Y meal which is really cheap! I watched a bit of a soccer match between Japan and Serbia. Japan was kicking Serbia�s ass. And then I continued my journaling from work. I will head to bed soon but before that I want to write about some other stuff that I thought about after talking to Masao.
I am working at a Chemistry department without gloves!?! It is very strange after coming from the US where the usage of gloves is always stressed on. I splashed some of the barium hydroxide onto my skin yesterday but Masao said that it didn�t have any bad effects with our physiology. This seems exactly like India because I never used gloves there as well. Actually, when I asked the lab assistants for gloves, they just laughed at me. In the US, we are so health conscious in labs due to the potential lawsuits. Coe has to be very careful in these legal aspects. To make sure our hands are not contaminated here, we wash our hands with soap! Different worlds, different time zones, different rationales. Masao was joking about keeping me here for a year to do research with him. Well, I am the Solution Guru in the US because I don�t think anyone in the US is using this method. He was also stunned to hear that we use 18 platinum crucibles at $800 a pop at Coe and we have to clean crucibles at least twice a day to keep them in circulation. Hehe. He knows that we are a high cost facility. We get a shit load of money to do research. I saw the list of the equipments the physics department has and its mind boggling that a school as small as ours has so much of stuff. Our floor may be worth close to three quarters of a million and we are getting some more 100 Grand + equipment. We also have a lot of students doing research for an undergrad school of our size. I must say that I am extremely lucky to have such wonderful experiences!