A Fresh Start

Journal club dealt with “epidermal differentiation”, I had received the paper ahead of time, but couldn’t force myself to read it the night before. After the meeting, Kiyoe brought a box to me that had been received by overnight delivery from Tokyo. In it was another batch of the H4-containing plasmid and, perhaps more importantly, the exact strain of bacterial cells in which to express it. After a somewhat unusual lunch of spaghetti with a side of sushi (I was a bit tired of the hot lunch selections again), I transformed two different sets of cells with the new plasmid (one to make more plasmid and one in which to express the protein) and streaked them onto Petri plates of agar. I attended Kanji Table to hear about Russian holidays from a Russian man (the subject of holidays had been big lately in that class), and learned that I could detect different accents when listening to Japanese- a Chinese accent the previous week and now a strong Russian accent. I probably spoke Japanese with an American accent but would not be likely to recognize one if I heard it. I then read Japanese and wrote kanji, but had to leave early to get to my next class.

Every year, people who used the animal lab needed to take a 2-hour refresher course to maintain their access privileges. There were so many researchers at Osaka University that different people went on different days; this particular day was the day that Kiyoe and I had been assigned. The class ended up just being an extension of the same material that was covered in my initial, one hour course and proved just as impossible to understand. I followed Kiyoe’s lead and pulled out some scientific papers to read shortly after it began. I found that I could concentrate on the papers, despite the fact that different speakers were droning on and on in Japanese for the next two hours, something I could never do if someone had been speaking English in my vicinity. In fact, I finished all of the papers that I wanted to read in order to write my article on “chromosomes and cancer” which was due in just over two weeks. Once again, I took a test that I couldn’t read at the end of the session and was approved to use the facilities for the rest of my stay, although it was still unclear at that time whether I would ever be required to do so. As the session ended, the moderator mentioned that they were going to develop a training session in English, since they realized that a number of researchers did not understand Japanese well. I hoped not- I had already paid my dues for the year and knew I wouldn’t be able to read through an English session.

I walked to Kita Senri and took the train to Mikuni in order to meet Justin for church. Trudy had a bad headache and Brennan had decided to stay with her- so it would just be the two of us this particular evening. Justin was proud to have taken the train from home all by himself for the first time. In Japan, it was not unusual to see kids taking the train by themselves. We had seen children as young as 6 or 7 taking the train alone, something that would be unimaginable in America! We decided to go to Gyoza no Osho for dinner. Sitting at the counter to eat, I ordered mabo dofu (which was actually a bit spicy for a change) with a side of gyoza, of course, and Justin got a gyoza dinner set complete with soup, rice, appetizers, and pickled vegetables. We then walked to church together.

Midweek service continued the series of videos that they had been showing of the minister from Tokyo talking about the Holy Spirit. Fiona was back to translate for us- since she and Nori both worked as teachers, they had decided to take their honeymoon in September, during a break. After the message, we took a 9:30 train home- arriving there an hour later. Trudy was in bed, still not feeling well. The rest of us headed for bed as well.

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