Saturday, July 10, 2004

Walking the distance

July 9, 2004

About the next day.. I woke up first at 4.30 am when dawn first broke and then at 6.30 am and then finally at 8 am. After I showered and got ready, I started writing about my journey so that I could put it on my blog. I wrote till 9.50 when I packed up to leave and wait for him downstairs in front of the handimart. He came in right on time. I think the Japanese are very punctual or maybe it�s just him. We first had to go to the apartment office because they wanted a photocopy of my passport. From there he asked me if it was ok that we walked to the university today. I said yeah assuming it wasn�t a long walk. While walking I asked him how long a walk it was to the university, he said that it was about an hour. We didn�t head straight there either because we had to make a pit stop at a bank to break some of my dollars into yen. I got 60 dollars worth of yen. And then we took another detour while he showed me where a highly western mall was in case I was interested to come back to it and look around. We went into a few shops and then we head to his university. While at a book store, he started flipping through a soft porn Japanese magazine equivalent of Playboy in the US. He then started doing ooo�s and aah�s and asked me if I wanted him to buy it for me. He thought that kids my age love this kind of stuff. I suppose for the most part, but then there are exceptions. I don�t particularly like porn. It was a surreal experience; I had never expected this from him. But then I have realized that pornography is not a big deal for them. It was absurdly humid out there and I was getting worn out pretty easily with my heavy backpack. I checked later and my shirt underneath my back pack straps was completely wet. Yuck! The air here is so incredibly sticky. He asked me to keep track of the route we were talking so that I would make it back to apartments.

The route that we took was pretty scenic which was cool. We reached Sojo and I noticed it was located on a hill. Masao said that since we had been walking for so long, we would take the elevator up. I was very happy with that suggestion. We took this really cool elevator that moved side and up at about 45 degrees. I can�t recall what Masao called the elevator. We walked by Sojo�s cafeteria and he said that most of the students hated its food. He bought me a drink when we got up to his office. They have these cool vending machines everywhere which is a great business idea with people getting dehydrated due to the weather.

We got to his office and I checked my mail for the first time after I left Chicago. There were a few mails waiting for me. Bhavya sent me a late bon voyage, and I got an email from Andi saying that my call right before I took off made her think about me. I also got an offline message from Doll telling me that she missed me. It�s nice to know that I am important to some people. I guess I like to hear it sometimes. I hooked up Komal�s laptop to the internet and kept it running the rest of the afternoon so that people could message me. I got an email from Ben about his trip down here the second weekend.

After I sent an email to Doc telling him that I got here safe and sound, Masao took me out to eat. He gave me a running commentary about the different departments. We also talked about what I was going at Coe and basically a bit of research related stuff. He also asked me about the places I had been to. He was basically trying to get to know me better. We walked over to a nearby Chinese restaurant. This one actually had the sit on the floor seating which was very cool. Both of us tried the spicy meal which had tofu and pork in it. It was excellent. We had soup and rice with it. I was beyond stuffed!
We got back and started talking research. He was going to present a paper on sodium borates and their anharmonic properties. He printed the paper out and I started reading it trying to understand what anharmonic properties were. He then showed me around his lab and the different methods he employed to determine the physical properties of the glasses he made. He specialized in velocity of sound measurements on painfully homogenous cylinders of glass. He got extremely accurate data; his data was many times better than data we got at Coe. He had an air conditioned room for chemical and physical analysis of the glasses. He used the Archimedes principle to determine density of the glass cylinders he made while we at Coe use Boyle�s law. Using this method was trickier than using a pyc. He also had acoustic stuff to measure the speed of sound. Most of his equipment was custom built at Sojo University. That was interesting to see. It�s different from Coe because most of the things we have is manufactured and not custom built for us except the glove boxes and roller quenchers. I told him how we plate quenched our glasses and he thought that it was better than his plate quenching process. Ours was definitely quicker and cooled the glass more rapidly. The glasses he makes are easy to make and don�t crystallize. So he doesn�t have to worry about quicker cooling processes really because he makes glass in the bulk glass forming range. I have to use quicker quenching methods because I am making glasses outside the bulk glass forming range trying to extend glass formation range. I think I will be making Barium and Calcium borates while I am here because he thinks that will use the short time I have here best. I didn�t know July 20 was a national holiday which means that I don�t work on that day too. Which means that I have an extended weekend when Ben comes over. I am contemplating going to Tokyo to visit some of my friends that weekend too.

Masao wanted to buy me a bicycle so that I didn�t have to walk an hour everyday to get to work. He bought me an all terrain bike which had shimano gears for $100. He thought that was cheap and he didn�t mind buying it for me. I am lucky! We also found a cyber caf� that I can use after work if I want to use the internet. It was in the mall area which was close to my apartment. So I could go over if I felt like it. I could use it if I wanted to chat with anyone at Coe or family elsewhere. I wish I had internet at my apartment but I suppose this also works. Using the caf� is about $4 an hour. After that I rode back to my apartment and went grocery shopping so that I could eat in my room sometimes. I bought some liquids and bread and jelly and yogurt. I also wanted to try some Japanese beer, so I bought a couple of cans of local beer. I smiled when I saw Budweiser in the beer section. So I had bread and jelly and yogurt for dinner that night. While eating, I watched a women volleyball match between Japan and Italy. I wrote for the rest of the night before I went to bed at 10 pm because I was tired and sleepy by then already. I don�t think I have slept this early in a long time. Actually I can�t remember the last time I went to bed that early.

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