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Daily Life & Shaking Earth

May 11, 2008

Today’s entry consists of just some random facts & thoughts about recent life here.

Let me start with a bit of babbling about the weather forecast:
The first amazing thing is that you can get weather information up to a 3-hour-discretization, telling you the weather condition of 3-hour-intervals throughout the day (see Yahoo Weather for an example). So, much more specific than in Germany. And, according to my trite, surely non-representative observations so far, it’s also quite accurate: Some days ago, the forecast predicted clouds, but no rain. And in fact, most of the day the sky was cloudy & pretty dark (see pic below), and I carried an umbrella with me all the time, to be prepared for the rain – which of course didn’t come. Likewise, for yesterday the prediction was “12:00 – rain”, “15:00 – sunny”, and indeed it stopped raining well within this interval. I’ll start counting on the forecast, more than on my own estimation of the weather. Try the same in Germany, and you’ll definitely lose. Yes, yes, I know, it’s still jut a forecast, a rough a-priori-estimation by definition. But nevertheless just seems to be better than back home.

Just as I got the knack out of cooking rice on a stove (in Germany, I have a Japanese rice cooker), I purchased such a “cook food device” (so the literal translation of the Japanese term 炊飯器) that was being sold by another researcher in the dorm who just left the country. So now, the luxury level of my apartment probably reached its peak for my time here – I’m feeling pretty well equipped.

Last but not least, there’s this thing called language barrier. It’s a nice feeling when sometimes a Japanese expression enters my mind, without having to think about it; or I manage a short conversation. But then again, it’s quite difficult to hold any normal, fluent conversation once we are past the obligational

Nice to meet you.
Nice to meet you.
Are you American?
No, from Germany.
Ahh, Germany. Guten Tag. Ich liebe dich.
Hmmm, yes, OK.

🙂 (with the English part being spoken in Japanese, of course.) I’m sure I’ll improve over the time, remember many things learned in the past, learn new stuff, so it’ll get better. However, despite having been in Japan quite often already, I’m astonished by the significant lack of English speaking people even at university, in a scientific environment, where international cooperation and reading/writing of English publications should definitely be the norm, not some freaky exception. I can’t understand how such a modern, future-oriented country can get away with such an attitude (or assumes that it could). And I’m not ranting about individuals here, it’s an intrinsic problem of Japan’s school system, IMHO.

Oh, I nearly forgot: This night (May 8 – I’ll post this on a later date) there was an earthquake. Actually, people at university later told me that it was rather strong for this area here, reaching level 4 at the Japanese earthquake scale (which doesn’t seem to be compatible with the Richter scale), with 7 being the maximum. Since it was in the middle of the night, I just woke up, felt that everything was shaking, thought – slightly annoyed: “Hey, I want to sleep!”, and felt asleep again. The same happened two more times, during the aftershocks. People in my lab said that they actually got out of bed and tried to stop books from falling out of the shelves. Hmmm, maybe they live on higher floors.

(Today’s pictures: Mostly interesting food stuff…)

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