All Tomorrow's Parties

If you need audio to go with this post, listen to the track at the bottom of this post on NPR Music. Not that I feel it particularly fits my content, but hey.
 

The last week flew. With the help of text messages, photo dates, and facebook statuses I should be able to reconstruct whatever it was that happened. Off the top of my head though, I can do a quick summary that looks like this:

Tuesday the 13th: Research Wednesday the 14th: Party Thursday the 15th: Party Friday the 16th: Party Saturday the 17th: Party Sunday the 18th: Backcountry (Best party, but not in this post)

火 - Fire Day!

Work work work

Tuesday was nose-to-the-grindstone day, because I knew the rest of the week would be more or less devoid of work. I made some big progress on the research, but stayed up 'til 3AM to make it happen. I implemented a system described in another paper (Mohamed et al 2011) so that we can do comparisons of our method and theirs later on.

This was my first gogo-programming day in a long time. It was a nice reminder of why I do what I do; I like it.

水 - Water Day!

Wednesday was the start of four consecutive days of bou-nen-kai (忘年会 literally "forget the year party"). Well, to be a bit more truthful, I should say four consecutive days of parties - two birthday, two bounenkai. Wednesday was a party with the gentlemen in my dorm, who have been showcased previously here. We enjoyed some sukiyaki, which is just random vegetables, tofu, and meat thrown together into a stewish thing, then dipped in raw eggs (if you so desire) before being right and properly nommed down upon. I didn't have the presence of mind to take any pictures that night, but I can share with you photos of the same sort of thing from my time living with the 岩井(i-wai) family in Kyoto.

The best sukiyaki you'll ever see, from this summer. (Give the picture a click to see a new feature on my blog)

Note the bowl of egg on the left side of that picture. Mm-mm! Looking forward to eating more ridiculously-delicious food in a few weeks when I go back to Kyoto to spend the New-Years with my Japanese family.

木 - Tree Day!

I justified sleeping in late on Thursday by telling myself I was just waiting for the bicycle shop to open. They'd be holding on to my bike since the wreck quite a ways back, as the shop-owner was enjoying himself in America when I went to the shop. I finally got a call from their shop Monday night at 7 letting me know that it was all fixed up. The funny thing here is, they close at 7, and Tuesday and Wednesday are their "weekend". So, after passing right around two weeks bicycle-less, I finally got it back Thursday morning.

Taken from wikicommons: http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E3%83%95%E3%82%A1%E3%82%A4%E3%83%AB:Lower_portion_of_AER_viewed_from_a_pedway_in_front_of_Sendai_station_west_exit.JPG
AER Sendai

I rode it over to a Starbucks near the station and met up with Eric, my research... advisor? Research fella? Guy? Senpai? Anyways, he points me in the right direction for my research, if not just telling me outright what to do. Funny story of how I knew Eric before I ever knew Eric, but we can save that for another time. I just noticed I should point out that research-Eric is a separate person from roommate-Eric. This paragraph has gotten completely away from me, reboot in one, two, thr-

I took my bike to a Starbucks downtime and had a meeting with the Eric from my lab (only other white guy in the photo). I have to say, I like working in a coffee shop much more than out of a lab.

Since I was conveniently already downtown, when Eric and I adjourned our review of the week's work I scooted over to B'nuts and climbed for an hour or so before going to the second party of the week, a birthday for my Japanese-American friend Ken-chan. The party was mostly Japanese with a few Americans, and in the way of most parties in Japan, it evolved into a second and then third party.

A waitress at our first stop made my heart stop when I first saw her - she was terrifying. She was rocking a fashion I had hoped had died out in Japan, but which apparently is still alive in the dark-places of the bar-district. Behold, the horror of the ganguro.

You thought Godzilla was scary

Anyways, the second party (at my insistence) was at the beloved 一二三油そば (hi-fu-mi abura soba), and the third one wrapped up at Simon's Bar, a foreign beer importer where I got a lovely copper-cup mule. You can see more about hifumi and Simon's in this post.

金 - Gold Day!

I spent Friday running errands in preparation for the backcountry trip on Sunday, with some climbing and another bounenkai (a curry party, nice) with the lab. It would seem as though I do not have a lot to say about Friday.

土 - Earth Day!

Saturday, Saturday, what happened Saturday?

Well, a week past I had noticed a fracture in one of the bindings for my splitty (exhibit A). The good people at Voile have sent off a replacement, but these things take time. To hold me over for the weekend they suggested a 2-part epoxy solution, and Saturday I went hunting for both that and a place to (finally) get my camera repaired. Luckily, there was an area out West of me where it looked like I could get both done at the same time.

Snap crackle pop

Now I need to step out of Saturday's story for a moment and go back to the very start of my time in Sendai, if only briefly. I spent my first night CouchSurfing at the house of a lovely couple. In the morning I took a walk with Christina and the dogs, and she took me to a spot with quite the view of Sendai, from which I took this picture:

My first view of Sendai, taken from somewhere on Yagiyama

If you've got a large monitor, have a click on that picture. Even if you haven't, you should be able to see a bright-white spec pretty much dead-on in the middle of the picture, just above the trees and backgrounded by some small mountains. That is an enormous statue of the Buddhist diety Kanon. What's this have to do with what I did Saturday? Well...

The road to the mall I was heading to wasn't long, but google maps never bothers to inform you about elevation - the whole way was a pretty fierce and fun uphill ride. And, as a surprise to me, the parking lot of that mall was shadowed by that monster of a statue.

Shadowing the parking lot...

And here's another view, to give you some scope. Count the stories on that building off to the right...

One, two, three... Tall!

Since the entire way up to the mall was an uphill climb, I also had a great view of Sendai in general. Looking forward to picking up my good camera from there - hopefully the sun will be a little friendlier on that day for a nice photo-shoot chance.

That large shop in the middle is the DIY store I got my epoxy from

After returning back to the dorms and gluing my binding together (and wrapping it like a mummy in tape) I went off to climb for an hour or two before I hopped on the train for my last party of the week.

My friend Kanji (my date from back when) was at the gym, and he pushed me to stop doing the same routes over and over and get back on the track to progression. Happy to say, got my first redpoint on a 5.11a that night. At the same time, sticking around to finish that 11a made me late for the party, but I ran into a bunch of other folks on the way there regardless, including a handsome British man.

The birthday party was for Maura, one of the folks I met at the thanksgiving party and subsequently climbed with later, and it was riotously good fun. Despite my need to wake up at 5am, I was at the party long enough that I missed the last train home and ended up taking a taxi to my bike, then biking home, then making breakfast for the next day while still feeling the lovely warmth of some Glenfiddich.

Let's finish with a picture of the goods - yogurt, granola, and bananas, all mixed up and ready to go. I share the photo because I find it quite ugly. Also in the photo: the epoxy.

Yogurt, granola, and bananas. Three or four years ago I only would've eaten the granola