Thursday, July 19, 2007

July 19, 2007 Uneventful days at work

Gooooooooood mooooooooorning, Vietnaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaam!
I just woke up after 10 hours of intense sleeping! How wonderful! "Bed" is definitely one of my favorite spots in the world *smirk*

But although I woke up at 6 am, it was about 28 degrees outside! By now, the clouds are all gone and we are having blazing sunshine - so I am trying hard not to burn. It's still a little bit humid, but for the most part just nice to be outside. Can't wait until the hanabi-season starts, then every little village will have their own firework party at the local river! (hanabi = fire flower)

Speaking of language - today I learned a new word! Well, that in itself isn't all that big news, I constantly pick up new words and generally impress everyone when I write one kanji... but I still CANNOT speak! Not even teeny tiny phrases... well, ok, teeny tiny phrases I can say. So nevermind.

But today I learned that there is a Japanese word (yappari!) that literally means "I thought about it for a while and came to the conclusion that..." - how cool is that?!

July 18, 2007 Chef talk

This morning I came to the office early again to do some private stuff and was promptly summoned by Amling-san to come to his office. It turned out that today would be the last day of seeing him, tomorrow he will fly to Leverkusen, Germany, to do some projects for about 4 weeks and won't be back until I'm gone.

He asked me for a general feedback on what I've been doing so far, impressions, criticism - we had quite an interesting conversation. He gave me the advice to focus on my communicational skills (well, I guess I didn't make too much of an impression on him with not knowing where I will want to work in the future).

And he also offered that, should I ever consider to work for Bayer, I should contact him and he would see what he can do for me!! Brilliant :o)
I'm very impressed by all the Bayer managers I have met so far - almost all of them were very easy-going, easy to talk to, humorous people - a bunch that I wouldn't mind working together with, I guess ;o)

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

July 16, 2007 Strange days come unexpected

Funny how days can turn out when they start somewhat awkward!

I threw overboard my plans to go to Kyoto when my train stopped in Amagasaki and just wouldn't move any further. Neither did any of the other trains. Only later did I find out that there had been a heavy earthquake in the North of Japan. and looking back, I think I even noticed it, only that I thought that people were stepping onto the train rather violently...

So here I am, for two hours stuck in Amagasaki, where I spend every day of the week anyways... But at least I found out that there is a movie theatre in the area! Although it's probably a lot easier to just go to Osaka or Kobe. Which I then did :o)

There'd be loads of things to tell that happened in between, from crowded malls, more and more shopping horrors (it seems that shopping in Osaka really isn't my thing...), from losing the orientation yet again, from toilets that have a loudspeaker system installed that will play the sound of flowing water (I guess to keep people from flushing just to be able to pee.........), from All-in-One wash basins that have one sensor for shooting out foam, one for water, and another one for blow-drying your hands! I could tell from in-door shopping arcades in Shinsaibashi and Namba (both parts of Osaka) that, in spite of having a roof, seem to let the rain inside because of the high ventilation they have there (da hat so ein Durchzug geherrscht, dass man auch gute 20 Meter vom Eingang entfernt noch gut Regen mitbekommen hat!). Or I could tell from eating in a small shop where you pay an automat to give you a ticket, where everything seems automated, but where, with a single word and a smile, you can make the lady there very happy :o)

But I won't tell you any of that because there are way more important things to tell - for example how to go to the movies in Japan!
First, you take the highspeed elevator that takes you non-stop to the 8th floor. You enter the newly-built complex, smell the air of something familiar that is not popcorn - and find out that it's churros!! (For those who haven't been to Spain, churros are longish dough-sausages that are usually dipped into chocolate or sprinkled with sugar - as can be seen here:)

After passing the theatre's souvenir shop, you focus on the wild mix of people, mostly small tiny women in high heels with very pearly clothes, the rest of the younger generation usually made up of guys with hats or wildly styled hair, and cowboy boots. A nice example for being different crossed my way, a young woman in sneakers, rocky clothes, wild hair, and churros and a beer. She was making a point of being cool. I had to smile a tiny bit when she was entering the same cinema as I was, showing Harry Potter IV :o)

Before starting the movie, a comic came on to teach the visitors how to use the movie theatre - emergency exits to your left and your right, toilets outside and straight ahead, movie night on Tuesdays (hilariously, movie nights (= cheaper tickets) are only cheaper for women! Men only have one night a month where they can see a cheaper movie - that's what I call modern discrimination ;o)). So far, the whole thing seemed to be like boarding a flight, I was actually waiting for flight attendants to come on stage... Then it got even more bizarre when a comic character appeared on screen that looked a lot like Bruno Ganz in "Der Untergang" (portraying Hitler), and telling another visitor the usual stuff like "no filming, no shouting, no phones", but curiously they made a strong point of "no kicking" as well... Would be interesting to see what regular Japanese people behave like in a movie theatre...

This is Bruno Ganz, by the way:

And finally, the MOVIE!! That was exactly what I needed, a great movie, at the perfect distance from the screen, with just the right level of volume and all the emotional range a good movie needs :o) Wonderful! Even better that during one of the action scenes with dramatic wand-whirling and bass-thundering the whole cinema (remember, we are on 8th floor!) started shaking - because of a second earthquake :o) I think, today I was more than compensated for the rather flaky typhoon *grin*

To end another wonderful day, Simon called and invited me to go to sing karaoke!!! REAL karaoke!! Just the two of us, in a small room (2x2meters at best), with two microphones, a giant song book and unlimited volume to crank it up :o) The two of us had a very hard time speaking on leaving the bar - after screaming at the top of our lungs to "Un-break my heart", "The heart will go on", "Rock me Amadeus", "I need a Hero" :o) Loads and loads and LOADS of fun, I tell ya!

If I can get this video to work, take a look :o)
VIDEO (coming soon, I hope...)
So absolutely no reason to complain about having missed the festival in Kyoto - I doubt that it could have been more fun than this!

July 15, 2007 After the Typhoon

Hm, this whole big news coverage about the typhoon got me all excited that we would actually get a real storm! Watching the images on television gave me an impression of Armageddon - and all we got was a little rain and a slight breeze... Ok, I shouldn't be wishing for a real typhoon experience, but some of the "regular" storms around here have been more dramatic than this...

This is what I woke up to the day after!

Other than that, I went shopping and found the third 100-Yen shop in three days! 100-Yen (about 60 cent) shops are like dollar-stores or euro-shops, only WAY more sophisticated - you can buy ANYTHING in there, from swiss army knives to flower deco to foot spray to nose-hair-removers! And I thought things would just be cheap, but they actually only cost 100 Yen! I was quite amazed!

Oh, and I did find this goodie - Jeans in Boyfriend-style!

Then I also found out more about ways to contact me - which of course is an invitation to all of you to call or text me :o)
Thanks to my mom, I have everything tested now and ready for use:

To actually reach me on my mobile from outside of Japan, call: 0081-80-344-28719 (remember that I am 7-8 hours (Europe) and 12 hours (Michigan) ahead of you!
This is just for calls - in Japan, cell phones work differently - every phone has a number and an email address. The number is for calling, the email for receiving messages. So in order to send me an SMS, you'll have to send me an email to "erikku_1976(at)", and when I respond, it will be an email.
To call me on the phone in my room, call 0081-5075348769 - but don't expect too hard to reach me, I'm not at home all that often.

Ok, that's all :o)

Saturday, July 14, 2007

July 14, 2007 I'm back!!

Hey there, folks!

Sorry for my extended absence from the web, but the past week has been filled with new departments, new people to meet who wanted to share their lunch breaks, with projects that needed finishing, and two days of "business tripping" to the production plant of SBU in Ehime, on Shikoku Island (about 3 hours away from Amagasaki). So enjoy the reading from the past days, and I hope you didn't worry too much about my sudden entire disappearance from the internet :o)

July 13, 2007 Not even close to Friday 13th ^_^

*wahahahahaha* Matsuki-san is soooooooo funny!
This morning I had my second day at BPI, Business Process Improvement, and today I met Matsuki-san - he's a small guy with very little chin and a funny way of talking, which in itself is hilarious - but then he also has an incredible way of speaking English, looking up many words in the dictionary and then picking one with a slightly different meaning than what he intends to say! You can understand what he's saying, but if you have ever tried to read a page translated by Google Translator, you will know what I am talking about (*^_^*)

We had a lot of fun, and it was mutual - he had put many gimmicks into his presentation, e.g. a walking envelope that he was very proud of :o)

By now, I feel quite at home here in the company... I spent the afternoon on 3rd Floor, where Customer Service, Import/Export, Logistics, Procurement, BPI and some more people are all sitting in one big room - and there are very little people left that I haven't met yet. Many of the ladies have gone either to dinner with me or went dancing, and with almost everyone I have a story to share which makes us smile a lot! Toki-san and Naoko-san have put up pictures of our dance night in their cubicles, and today I wrote the kanji for candy (お菓子, okashi) on a small piece of paper and gave it to Kageyama-san who had taught me that kanji the day before - his face lit up, he smiled at me very broadly - and put the piece of paper into a folder where he had already put in my CV! I think people actually like me around here...

Naoko-san (the crazy dancer) later asked me whether I wanted to join the next dinner with everyone from Customer Service. "Sure, when will it be?" "We are doing it on July 27th." "Oh, I don't know if I will be in Osaka, that's my birthday and I was thinking about going to Tokyo to see a big firework festival." "WHAAAAT??? That's your birthday?!! Then you have to come!!! I will ask Ueda-san (the CS manager) if he will pay for you!" :o)

So now, I am officially invited to a dinner with everyone to celebrate my birthday :o) With loads of people I know and like. I am happy *^_^*

July 12, 2007 Change of Weather

My life at work gets busier and busier, yet the world outside seems to calm down a lot. The weather has changed quite a bit - instead of cloud-muffled sunshine and incredible humidity, things have calmed down to constant rain, but of the nice sort - it's still warm rain, the air feels a lot clearer, it's not as hard to be outside anymore and there's a constant breeze going - and yesterday I learned why that is the case:

We have a typhoon approaching! I'm not quite sure yet what that means for me. I don't think I have to worry that the house is going to fly off to Kansas (yeah, you heard right, typhoons can sometimes do that as well!), but it probably means lots of rain and wind, and I was told that I shouldn't leave the house if it's not necessary - oh, and the trains might stop, which is probably what could affect me the most.

Although I would very much like to see what a typhoon is like, the timing is not exactly perfect - for Saturday, there's a 24-hour marathon planned in Osaka, and a team from SBU will take part in it. Some of my friends are joining as well (I'm of course too lazy, or well, don't have sport shoes *g*), so it would be a shame if they had to cancel it...

P.S.: I miss dark bread...