Friday, September 30, 2011

Today's Engrish Lesson

We went shopping today at a little mall about a mile from our house.  There is a great kids clothing store there that has great "Engrish" phrases.  Here are some samples:

Karl, is this the college you went to at Cambridge?

this is the back...

... and this is the front.  Surely you've all heard of the Union College Fighting Bees?


Undokai is Sports Day, an all day event on Saturday at Daiyonkinrin School (the Japanese cultural center in West Covina does Undokai every year as well).  The kids practiced for the first three weeks they were in school - there were dances, foot races, relay races, obstacle courses, and other events.  All the kids wore their gym uniforms;  half the kids wore red hats and the other half wore white.  It started with each team cheerleading with taiko drum accompaniment and flag waving and whistle blowing.  The first graders tossed balls into the air, hoping that some of them would land in the basket.
taiko drum

ball toss game

M ran an obstacle course.

Miriam was part of a relay race that pushed a big giant ball around a cone

N at the starting line, then running his race.

Fourth graders danced.

M with instructions for the day.

Fifth graders try to snatch the cap from the opposite team.

and here is a movie of the game:

Sixth graders finished the day with demonstrations of their fitness, strength and flexibility.

Then the skies opened and it poured rain.  Luckily the day was almost over.

It was a long day, but what an experience!  The students were remarkably well prepared and organized, and the races and dances were so fun to watch.  Congratulations!

Here are a few more pictures from the day, showing the eventually winning red team (Shiro Gambatte!!)

Strippers in Kyoto

This evening while walking to the library to return and check out books, we were having a discussion about grammar.  W mentioned the phrases "Let's eat Grandma!" vs. "Let's eat, Grandma!" which the kids thought was hilarious.  Of course, that led directly to the recent Oxford comma internet meme: "We invited the strippers, Kennedy and Stalin, to the party."  

N wanted to know what a stripper was, so W explained that it was a girl who took her clothes off for money.  He thought that was weird, but wanted clarification.  He asked W how much it costs.  I interrupted at this point, and suggested that it could be considered a rude question because it implied that W would know the answer.  N laughed and without pausing, he immediately turned to me and asked me how much it cost.  Never one to turn down an obvious slow pitch over the plate, I reply "20 bucks."  N erupts into absolute fits of laughter at this point, seriously cracking up.

At this moment, we hear "Excuse me…"  We turn to see a young Japanese woman who explains that she lives nearby, heard us speaking English, which she is trying to learn.  Then she reaches into her bag and hands us some religious literature from the Jehova's witnesses.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

today's lunch.

today's lunch:
rice with black sesame seeds on top
seaweed salad with peanuts (cooked)
fried chicken
a suasage/hotdog
something brown with white sesame seeds on it
something pink
a piece of carrot
and a white ball.

the brown turned out to be ginger/beef
the pink was pickled something or other
the white ball is a vegetable of some sort...

adventures in eating

Monday, September 19, 2011


We've been very busy lately.  You can expect a long post soon about Undokai (sports day) with photos and movies.

However, I just wanted to report that it is currently 78 °F in Kyoto, and its the nicest weather we've had so far.  Its downright chilly.  All our windows are open and we are trying to cool off.

Monday, September 12, 2011

first reaction

I ran my first reaction of my sabbatical today.  2 and a half hours of set-up, 2 and a half hours to add the reagent with a syringe pump (while I went to lunch), and an hour and a half of work-up and clean-up.  I did NOT use the expensive reagent that makes the reaction enantioselective (the whole point of the research) and I'm glad, because there is a steep learning curve working in a new lab.  I'm just happy that it looks like I made the correct product!

For those of you playing the home game, I butylated benzaldehyde with a titanium reagent, but none of the chiral ligand:

(Sorry for those of you not accustomed to finding chemical structures in blogs).

Tomorrow (maybe) I will run a column and inject it on the HPLC to confirm that is racemic.

I promise to NOT blog every reaction I run in Kyoto...

Friday, September 9, 2011


Tonight, as a special treat for the kids finishing 2 weeks of school (and celebrating our 3 week anniversary in Kyoto), we had ETHNIC food.  We went to "Die Güte" up on Kitaoji street.  We shared our food, which consisted of gorgonzola/mozzarella pizza (wow, it was good to have CHEESE), a margharita pizza, a sausage pizza (mini hot-dogs/wurst, not italian sausage) and a gratin of sweet potatoes, pasta and cheese.  Afterwards we had vanilla/chocolate twirl soft-serve.  On the way home we bought PEANUT BUTTER ($6.40 for 12 oz) and passed an INDIAN restaurant and a MEXICAN restaurant which has quesidillas.

So, we are set on bribe restaurants for the next couple weeks.

We (W and I) have been really enjoying the actual ethnic food here in Japan, and N is doing his best to try new things at school, but M is having a real hard time adjusting.

W and I met S and her dad at the Kyoto Imperial palace this morning for a tour in English (we forgot the camera, so no pictures.  We'll go back; it was stunning.).  It was really cool to see the 1000 year old structures (actually, most are only about 150 years old due to fires, but they were all rebuilt in the same style and in basically the same place.)  During World War 2, I guess they tore down many of the structures to prevent fires, which is sad.  So much history has been lost to wars.  I'm glad Kyoto was spared as much as it was during the war, because the old parts of the city are so beautiful.

the heat and humidity are back, today was very hot, its 85 °F at 9 at night.

Monday, September 5, 2011

What to do in Kyoto

There are many things to do in Kyoto.

I hope to do this one:

We live near the 37 km mark (in fact we might be running right past the kids school?) and most of my runs in Kyoto so far have been along the river north of the 30 km mark.  KIT is just south of the course at about the 27 km mark.

The word on the street is that this marathon will be significantly oversubscribed, so I hope I have good luck in the lottery!

Sunday, September 4, 2011


I hit a big day over here, and since we don't know anyone, it was a subdued celebration.  We all woke up to the typhoon we were having and walked through the rain to a little corner "french bakery" and had pastries for breakfast.  Then, later in the day, our best friends in the world were here (S is on a teaching semester here in Kyoto at Doshisha University) so we had lunch with them, went over to their apartment, and then had dinner at a nice little Chinese place.  They had meat buns and pot stickers and all the kids had mango pudding for dessert.  W, S and I had plum wine.  Here are some pics:
plum wine and egg soup

happy birthday!

the little kids eating chicken and potstickers

the big kids eating soup and shrimp (with hashi!)
W & S looking normal

W&S with their "Japanese" pose