Monday, June 30, 2008

Exploring Tokyo

This weekend was my first free weekend in Japan. I managed to meet up with my friend Gabriel, who has been living in Tokyo for the past year. He knows all the happening spots. Well, all the happening gay spots, but that's a story for another time. Here are some photos.

From Japan - Explo...

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Move In

After a week of orientation, JSPS finally released all the students into the wild. I managed to buy a pass card and navigate the Tokyo Metro system. Compared to the New York City subway, the Tokyo subway is cleaner and has more advertisements with scantily-clad women. Still, the New York City subway runs 24 hours a day. New York 1, Tokyo 0.

I also managed to find my apartment. It's very efficient.
From Japan - Move In

Tomorrow is my first day at IBM. Here's how I'm getting to work. In theory.

View Larger Map

For now I'm relaxing and getting ready for work. I found an excellent 24 hour grocery store right by my apartment that has a wide selection of Japanese beer and pre-made meals. Actually, it's very similar to the 24 hour grocery store next to my apartment in New York, but it has cheaper beer and fresher sushi. New York 1, Tokyo 1.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Home Stay

I just returned to Sokendai after an amazing weekend with my host family. I was very nervous about this weekend, but everything went well. I didn't embarrass myself or my country, I learned about Japanese history and culture, and I ate amazing Japanese food. Here is a picture of me and most host parents at Hachimangu Shrine in Kamakura.

From Japan - Home ...

Friday, June 20, 2008

Poster Session

This afternoon was a poster session that allowed everybody to show off their research. Here is my poster. In hindsight, it was a bit too technical and it could have been organized better. Still, I think it gave people a good taste of my research.

Read this document on Scribd: JSPS Poster

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Flying to Japan

My flight from New York to Tokyo was 13 hours and 40 minutes, but it was surprisingly uneventful and the time passed much quicker than I expected. And apparently I don't even have to feel guilty about my carbon footprint. Unfortunately I was not able to sleep on the plane, but I was able to read three books. I love e-books.

Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior
Sway: The Irresistible Pull of Irrational Behavior by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman

This was a very enjoyable book. Although there wasn't much new content for me; most of the research discussed had already been covered by various economics blogs that I read. Still, I'm a sucker for pop-econ books.

The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives
The Drunkard's Walk: How Randomness Rules Our Lives by Leonard Mlodinow

I really enjoyed the brief historical accounts of the lives of famous mathematicians and statisticians. The essence of their lives was distilled into a few choice adjectives and a couple of formative events. Sometimes I wonder what adjectives and events will describe my life.

Starship Troopers
Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein

I'm currently trying to read all the novels that have won a Hugo or Nebula award. This one won the 1960 Hugo Award. I'm reluctant to say it, but I thought that movie was more entertaining. Detailed descriptions of military chains of command just can't compete with co-ed showering.

Japanese Culture

Part of the orientation program includes a weekend home stay. Tonight I met my host family and we participated in traditional Japanese cultural activities including origami, calligraphy, and a tea ceremony. Here are my attempts at an origami crane and the Japanese character for rain. The small characters on the left are my name.

From Japan - Sokendai

And here is tonight's dinner. The seafood is fresh and delicious, and I really enjoy the modular food concept.

From Japan - Sokendai

I think I'm going to like it here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Greetings From Japan

This summer I am participating in the East Asia and Pacific Summer Institutes for U.S. Graduate Students (EAPSI) sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS). I arrived in Tokyo on June 16th, and I will be here until August 21st. I plan to use this blog to share my thoughts and photos from the trip.

This week I am attending an orientation program at the the Graduate University for Advanced Studies (Sokendai). I'll post my thoughts on the trip so far later, but for now here are some pictures from Sokendai.

From Japan - Sokendai