Wednesday, July 14, 2004

Burning off extra energy!

July 14, 2004

Today�s dream kept me engaged through the ritual 4.30 awakening, so I didn�t even look at my watch to see the time. And I woke up a few minutes before 8 am and waited for the alarm to go off but it never did. I got up to check the computer to see what went wrong. After a few minutes of tinkering around, I noticed that after the time had automatically changed when it was connected to the internet, I forgot to change the AM to PM! So, since the alarm was set to activate at 8 AM, it never went off. I took a leisurely shower in the morning because I knew that I had to stop by the post office and it opened at 9 am. I wanted to lighten my bag and I removed the book I carried everyday that I hoped to read. And I decided to go bright with today�s outer wear. I wore the red San Francisco t-shirt Andi gave me. I think this is the first time I�ve worn it and I liked the way it looked on me. And this time I remembered to get the Nalgene out of the freezer and hooked onto my bag! The ride was much better today with less strain on my back. Still, the laptop�s pretty heavy and not really meant for portability during physical exertion. After a quick stop at the post office, I got to the office at 9.10 instead of my usual 8.50. So, it wasn�t too much of a delay.

This time there was something wrong in the morning because Yahoo! Mail or Google mail wouldn�t open on the laptop. So, after talking to Robi, I restarted the computer in hopes that it would fix whatever was wrong but it didn�t. So, I just posted my journal and checked hotmail. I got a short email from Tara telling me that she was getting back to the US soon and would tell me about the experiences later when she had more time. And then Masao got to work, and I checked my other emails on his computer after he was done. I got an email from mum and dad telling me that they got online but I wasn�t there. Well, I was at lunch unfortunately.. And then they tried calling me at work but simultaneously I was trying to call them from the office downstairs. We just kept crossing each other! What luck!

And then I started work finally! We took our solutions out today morning and after it cooled down, we bottled it. These precipitates are sticking to the Teflon beaker which never happened at Coe. It�s strange.. We did all the work without gloves and I usually had powder adhere to my hand while attempting to scrape out as much of the precursor as possible. After we bottled both the preps, we were done for lunch. I waited while Masao cleaned all the stuff we just used. He won�t let me clean it! Anyway, I just went back hoping that the mail things were working now and there were. Hail Mary (Magdelene or the original?)! If you didn�t get that, Mary Magdelene was Jesus�s alleged �wife� and you know his mum of course. I didn�t get many replies to my ton of emails that went out. Anyway, I know there is usually a week long waiting period except when it comes to Inga who emails me right away. I usually have a reply waiting for me the next day.

We went to eat at noon to the Chinese restaurant to try their other options. We opted for their pork option. We sat at the same table the first time that we went there. When the entr�e got there, I knew that I would be eating the right amount again. This dish has a strong garlic taste to it just like most of the other Chinese stuff I�ve tried. It was very tasty, as Masao puts it. I was much quicker with the chop sticks today because before eating, I watched one of the men use theirs and copied his technique which worked wonders. I am proud of my mimicking skills.. hehe. Now that I think about it, my hand writing is a specimen of mimicked handwriting combinations of some friends in sixth grade. I wanted to change my hand writing because I thought my old handwriting was shabby. And when I perfected my style that was influenced by others, I decided to keep it. And I have been complimented on my hand writing ever since.. Modesty don�t come too easy.. On the way back, Masao took some pictures of me with the hills as a back ground. They came out well and would have been better if the Sun was not over head. I look pretty dark in the shadows of the contours of my face. I like the pix anyway.

We started the process of making our glass for today. The time factor involved in doing research is lax. The only thing they are not lax about is the composition and it�s accuracy to the theoretically predicted values. Masao is a stickler for procedure. We had to make about 20 g of glass and only 6 grams of precursors normally fits in the crucible. But we put it only around 4 g and melted it and then put 4 g in again. We repeated this process 5 times! The reason we do so many steps is to prevent overflow and bubbles in the melt. The addition of the sample was a two person operation with one person switching off the furnace and taking the cover off while the other person removed the ceramic cover off the crucible and then put in more sample in the hot furnace which was still around 800 �C when the addition was going on. I think my hand got burnt quite a few times because the gloves weren�t enough protection against the high temperature. His glass making process is different. His takes about 2.5 hours to make the melt. After we had all the prep in, we waited for 1 hour for it to heat at 1000�C stirring the melt once with a platinum wire. And around 5 pm, the melt was ready to be poured into the carbon mould and kept at 300�C for another hour and then left overnight to cool at 1K/min. So, when I come back tomorrow, it will be ready to be tested.

We took our drink break. This time I bought the drinks. I carried my camera along and I got someone to take a picture with me and Masao on our drink break. The pic came out very well. I also met some English speaking faculty members. It may seem mundane to you but after speaking English only to Masao for a week, this was a refreshing change when I didn�t have to play dumb when Masao spoke to someone in Japanese. I told him that a few of our students were doing NASA research when he mentioned that one of the professors I talked to taught aerospace science. I also told him that Bhavya was doing aeronautical engg in India. He also told me that he would show me and Ben around Kumamoto Castle on Sunday which is good because it would be nice to have a tour guide.

As I was working, I was also chatting with different people. I talked to Eun Hyung because she is back at South Korea and I hadn�t talked to her since she left for home in May. She didn�t know that I was going to Japan so I stunned her when I told her that I had been in Japan for about a week already. I also chatted with Namee after quite some time. I am excited to see her again early September when she comes to Coe to visit her friends. I chatted with mammi and Doll again for a while. This time Doll had a robotics question involving mechanics and mathematics.

Today, I didn�t want to stay at work accessing the internet because I didn�t see a point to wait for people since they never show up. So, I asked Masao for options to do stuff in the evening instead of just staying in my apartment. He told me that there was a lake about 30 mins by bike which was supposed to be picturesque. I might go there tomorrow. For today, he showed me a bike trail that I was supposed to follow. But it joined back to the bike path on the main road. So, I decided to head back home because I felt like running. I felt like running for the first time since I�ve been here. My bike ride at a higher resistance level seemed easy which was weird. When I got back to my apartment, I met my next door neighbour and she could speak English! I talked to her for a few minutes and told her that I might come knocking looking for some conversation later. I introduced myself and told her what I was doing here. Her name�s Kaye and she�s a student at Kumamoto University. I wish I met her earlier, then the evenings might not have been so mundane.

Anyway, I quickly changed into running gear. I traced out a path on the map and then decided to stay on populated roads. I ran for 32 minutes sprinting the last minute. For some odd reason, I felt like I had a lot of energy to use. Must have been all the drinks during the day.. I ran on the sidewalk adjoining 4 lane traffic with a tram service in the middle. And since, I didn�t want a break in my running; I just cut through all the pedestrian lights watching traffic. Usually, cars stopped for me when they saw that I was running. I don�t know how I ran for so long in 100% humidity. I could have run for about 40 minutes if not for the stickiness and moisture. So, I ended up walking 10 minutes when I began intending to run 40 minutes. Anyway, it�s my first run in about 15 days. So I think the 4 miles is good enough in the non-running conditions. So, I had a lot of physical activity today only differing in my inability to do weights since I haven�t found a gym facility yet that I can use.

When I got back, I realized that the place adjacent to the convenience store was a cake shop. So, I quickly went up and got money because I wanted to try some of the cake. I bought one which has wafers on the side, with custard filling and peach toppings. I got a sandwich and a body electrolyte rejuvenator to replenish me after all the sweating and dehydration. I got back upstairs and took a long cold shower after the run to wash away all the dirt from my skin after a full day�s exposure to the humidity and pollution. Now, while writing this journal, I feel immaculately fresh and clean. For another10 hours anyway.. So, I had a small dinner with my dessert being more expensive that the main thing. The dessert was 340 Y which is about $3.25 and the sandwich and drink cost 320 Y. Its 11.15 now and it�s time to let my body rest. I can�t believe that I just ate most of the calories I burnt while running.. Maybe I didn�t gain all that I lost.. Hope lingers. I am here to enjoy and I can watch calories later. I also need to make a pit stop at the bank to break more USD into Yen. Will do that at noon. I guess that�s all I can remember now. This is Joy signing off for today.

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