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Born in Stockholm (Sweden), now live in Sapporo (Japan). Hold a Ph.D. in computer science and work with computers during the days, perform magic in a bar during the nights (and weekends, for kids). Also used to teach historical fencing back in Sweden.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

End of the year-party

Fried chicken cartilage
On Monday I was working hard trying to finish writing a research paper for my professor. He had to submit a 6 page paper by Tuesday, and since he had other things to do and we were working on a paper together since some time back, he told me to write it for him. He sent me 7 pages of text to add to what we already had, though, so he contributed quite a lot too.

He sent me this on Christmas Eve, since why would you not be working on Christmas, right? Well, in Japan Christmas is just a normal day, so that thinking may be reasonable some years, but this year Christmas Eve was a Saturday... Also, it was a little unclear if we really needed 7 new pages to fill out our already long paper when the page limit was 6 pages...

Anyway, at 17:09 I got an e-mail to my cellphone from a girl who is in the lab at my university where I used to work. She said: "I know this is short notice, but our lab has the end-of-year-party (忘年会) today, and many would be happy if you came. It starts at 18:00, near Sapporo station. Can you come?" Yes, short notice indeed. I said I'd try, but would not make it by 18:00.

I managed to finish the paper, or at least my part in the process, by 18:15 and reached the restaurant at 18:35 or so. I got to talk to my old boss, my Bulgarian friend, a Japanese guy I did some experiments and ate insects together with, some Swedish people I know, lots of Polish friends, and much more. I also got to see Miss Sapporo for the first time (she is in my old lab, but I have never managed to appear at a party where she attended, though I have been to several of their parties).

I also got to speak a little to two former students in our lab who are now working at universities in Yokohama and Fukuoka. They were back in Sapporo for New Years (I guess). They said that the most surprising thing about being back in Sapporo was that I was wearing a shirt with longs sleeves. Apparently, every other winter (and summer) party that we had when we were all in the same lab, I attended in a t-shirt... I thought it was only two or three times I went that lightly dressed in the winter, but still.

In my current lab, they keep putting all parties of Fridays, i.e. on days when I work in the magic bar. So I almost never participate. My old lab had the good sense to know that people have other things to do on Fridays than to hang out with their colleagues from work, so I could participate almost every time when I was in their lab (and often participate now too, though they rarely remember to invite me despite me begging them to not forget me...)

The photo shows fried chicken cartilage. This is very popular in Japan (all kinds of ways of preparing cartilage are). In Sweden we do not generally eat the cartilage, so this qualifies as slightly strange food for me. The first or second time I was in Japan, I was travelling with my brother. We went to a restaurant with two of his Japanese friends, and neither of us knew much Japanese back then. My brother decided to try to use what little Japanese he knew and tried to order something himself from the menu without asking the Japanese girls for help. He could read "chicken" and "fried", but ended up ordering fried chicken cartilage and the girls asked if he really meant that, if he knew what he just ordered, etc. He asked if he had ordered something weird, but they said no no, no problem. It was a bit weird for us, when it showed up.

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