Mr. Wake

Are you understand?

Location: Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan

Saturday, September 15, 2007

New Coffee

Newest coffee product: Vintage

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Worldcon 2007

By popular demand!
Worldcon, the world science fiction convention, was held last week in Yokohama. I was on the convention organizing committee, so for what it's worth I got all areas access. I'll toss up a few anecdotes.

The Mad Scientist Cafe.
Amazing idea. It's a hostess bar for people who are beyond nerd. Like a hostess bar, you pay for companionship. Like a hostess bar, your companion makes sure your glass is never empty and your dish never unsnacked. Unlike a hostess bar, the companionship is not that of a hot (sometimes), stupid (sometimes) babe. The companionship is that of a scientist in a white lab coat. They put a sticker on the back of your hand with the time you walked in written on it, and it costs Y500 for 20 minutes. I went with my friend Spider, and there were three points of interest.

The scientist who joined us was a young woman. The brochure says the scientists are often shy, and it gives some starter questions like "What do you study?" and "What are you fastidious about?" We didn't find out what our scientist was fastidious about, but she studies genetics and can make clones. Humans? No. But she could if she wanted to. Cats and Dogs? Rarely. Mice? All the time. She is up to her little genius kooter in cloned mice.

Our snack was bugs. I've eaten some unusual stuff in Asia, but I've always drawn the line at insects. A pretty girl in a white lab coat placed two petri dishes in front of us, one with bee larva and one with silkworm larva, both boiled. Spider had one of each, and I refused. The pretty girl said that the bee larva was actually not bad. Spider concurred, and recommended against the larger silkworms. Our otherwise delicate scientist popped a bee larva in her mouth to encourage me. Fine. I ate one. I have no recollection of what it tasted like.

We each ordered a drink that came with a big, glossy brochure. I don't even know if there was alcohol in it. Our scientist served us each a glass with some mixer at the bottom and a plastic bottle of water. In turn she unscrewed the caps and poured the water in to each of our glasses. As the water hit the mixer it became solid as if it were instantly turning into gelatin. In our glasses little, translucent, gray termite mounds piled up and then fell over themselves as the water splashed on top. The scientist said it was ice, and indeed it was like a slushy. She screwed the caps back on the bottles and told us to shake them. As we did so the water inside turned from regular, cold water into icy slush. Our scientist insisted that this was regular bottled water, and there was nothing special about the mixer. But she did tell us the secret. The water is already below freezing. But apparently if you bring water to below freezing slowly enough it will remain liquid until agitated. They have a special, science freezer that brings the water down over a period of ten hours.

Then our twenty minutes were up.

Next: Famous People I Met