Thursday, February 18, 2010

Tam WAS there, and it WAS a party.

Yesterday I went to Tokyo Big Sight (see photo attached to a previous entry) on Odaiba island to check out the Nanotech Expo 2010.

My boss wanted to go to some cancer diagnostics seminar at 9am entirely in Japanese, so I slept in (a lot) and aimed to be there around noon. The previous night I was at an event put on by NanoQuebec at the Canadian embassy (this night was a whole other story, full of intrigue, suspense, and me failing miserably at French), and I was invited to come to a Canadian Embassy luncheon at Big Sight. So around noon I went to the “Canadian Pavilion” at the exhibition hall. This pavilion was pretty much the smallest booth in the place (Saxony had a bigger booth right beside Canada… where the hell is Saxony?), with about enough room for a WIN poster, a NINT poster, and a big Canadian flag. There was some Japanese woman there that spoke passable French (but no English, how useless is that), and she didn’t know anything about any luncheon, and didn’t seem to appreciate my lighthearted joking about her being excluded from the party.

I ended up wandering around the exhibition hall for a couple hours, had a bunch of people try to sell me everything from a nano-imprint lithography system to 99% purified metallic SWCNTs (I took a free sample of these, never know when they’ll come in handy). I checked up on the Canadian booth every once in a while, but no familiar faces showed up, just the lone Japanese woman who wasn’t exactly up to snuff on nanotech. The Canadian booth was almost as quiet as the massive Nano Iran pavilion, but not nearly as awkward. I went out to grab some curry (Japan has great curry, they love it here and its always the cheapest thing around), came back, and there were my buds from NanoQuebec. They gave me directions to the (nearly finished) luncheon, so I headed over.

The door was locked, so I had to be sneaky and wait for some bald guy to leave, then I jumped in, grabbed a plate of Sushi from the buffet, and walked up behind Professor Tam, while Shirley Tang gave me a strange look.

“Hey”, said I. Tam turned around and I very much enjoyed the look on his face when he realized who I was. “How did you possibly get here?” he asked. “Just snuck in,” I responded, “into the room, not the country”.

So there was a whole retinue there from UW. Tang, Tam, Yeow (Systems dude), Frank Gu (Nanobio mastermind), and the NanoRobotics Group’s faculty advisor (I teased him mercifully little about the NRG). Alain Francq (who at one time had Donkers’ job, now an executive at WIN) and Arthur Carty were there too. We ate sushi and chilled around the Canadian booth for a while, discussing lofty nanotechnology related subjects.

Tam to his credit spent much of the time trying to convince Alain and Carty to invite me out to dinner with them. Eventually I had advocates in the form of all the Professors, and WIN caved into the pressure.

Before we could go to dinner, it was decided that everyone would go to Tokyo station to buy Shinkansen (bullet train) tickets for the next morning, to avoid the rush. I served as the native guide, leading the group through the maze-like Tokyo train/subway system. Of course its rush hour, and we’re trying to get into and through the biggest station in Japan. It didn’t help that apparently Shinkansen tickets for a later date can’t be purchased in the Station, and you have to go to some ticket office outside to get them for the nest day (my Japanese saved the day at this point, good thing I’ve learned all the vocabulary for directions!). We lost Frank Gu for a while in the middle of Tokyo station, but he was eventually recovered with minor injuries.

We eventually made it to the restaurant, just over an hour late. And of course it was a Nomihodai/Tabehodai (that is, all you can drink and all you can eat) place with a 2.5 hour time limit. All the tables were full, and my inclusion had tipped the number of people over the number of pillows (no chairs here, this was a real Japanese restaurant). So I squashed into a table with my NanoQuebec friends from the previous night. They were already fairly intoxicated, and speaking in nothing but French. There was a Scottish guy at the table to for some reason, but as luck would have it he spoke near-fluent French too. I tried to keep up, and eventually the table’s conversation switch to half-French half-English, a combination I’m pretty confortable with.

So I spent the night drinking and eating to excess watching a bunch of scurrilous French nanoscientists discuss the finer points of bukkake.

1 comment:

  1. Oooh... Carty... Cool stuff! But it sounds like you need to keep a closer eye on Frank Gu. If he doesn't make it back to Canada in time to supervise my design project, I'm holding you responsible.