Making ice cream while hung over

Osaka Travel Blog

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Random Observation/Comment #102: When the “schedule” is set, you’re not allowed to make any impromptu changes. Even if you drink until 4AM the night before, you still must wake up at 8AM to attend a frozen-yogurt-making activity. Almost everyone I know would have slept in (which would be convincing enough to follow guilt-free), but every single drunken mess I saw the night before was outside on the benches (almost) ready to start the morning. That’s dedication.
It was a beautiful morning, but I wasn’t in the beautiful-morning-mood. I could have used more than 4 hours of sleep, but I didn’t want to offend anyone or show Japanese people how lazy Americans really are. I guess by waking up on time with a smile, I was poorly representing my background as a 21-year-old New Yorker on vacation.
What I should have done was wake up at 2PM and raided the fridge for Tostitos and salsa while wearing argil business socks and CK boxers (that might just be me at Jake’s house on a Saturday morning). You could imagine my enthusiasm for making ice cream. They were lucky that I was conscious, let alone functional and social.
I thought ice-cream-making was for elementary school kids, but apparently graduate students getting their PhDs in artificial intelligence subjects can also have a good time mixing ingredients and tossing around a huge canister. The process is pretty simple, but the competition between college groups added some motivation. I wasn’t sure of the exact amounts, but we mixed sugar, sour cream, and egg whites together into a bowl.
Then, we beat it to give the whole thing some body. You really want a thick, yet fluffy consistency. After you have this goop, you put it into a metal container inside of a larger plastic canister and fill it with ice and salt.
Then the fun part: Close the plastic lid and roll it around to rapidly decrease the temperature against the metal. The rolling action should keep the frozen yogurt at the edges of the container and the ice should freeze it after about 15 minutes of movement. Different teams tried different methods of rolling the container. My team basically found a hill and threw it down a couple of times (like 50). I was doubtful of this success because if you graph the rolling speed against time, you will see some shaking for the climb up the hill, and then an accelerated roll down the hill.
Although the average speed may match that of a conventional method of kicking the thing around, the inconsistency of motion and body heat added during the physically transport of the device was inefficient. In fact, after 15 minutes of this unnecessary work, the frozen yogurt looked more like frozen pudding – Failure. Oh well, take two. … Take three.
Well, we eventually got it. I also gave up half-way and went to a vending machine to spend 100 yen on real ice cream. I guess the one I ate wasn’t made with love and teamwork. I tried some of their frozen yogurt and it tasted pretty good. I was never a big fan of the sourness that came with frozen yogurt – I always thought frozen yogurt was like rejected ice cream. The toppings are decent, but I rather have some cookie dough or mint chocolate chip. If they come out with double chocolate chunk frozen yogurt, I’ll be, as they say, “all up on that shit.”
~See Lemons Make Frozen Yogurt

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Random Observation/Comment #101: As the alcohol content in these little Japanese people’s blood stream increases, so does the frequency of slurred Jap-English phrases. I had no idea what they were saying, but it was fun trying to figure it out. Even if I did understand, I waited for them to draw a picture or make funny gestures for my own entertainment. Although this was a little mean, I actually remembered the words they taught me much better when they explained it in different ways. How could I forget the creativity of their charade clues? Good times.
After the paragliding adventures, we had a few hours to play some soccer and baseball. These two sports seem to be the staple of Japanese culture. Not only does everyone want to be a baseball player, but they practice tirelessly enough to succeed.
From our conversations, I couldn’t tell if it was a love for the sport or a motivation to become a superstar and travel overseas to make money as a professional. I guess I didn’t expect a group of engineering students to make irrational decisions, like dropping all their work to pursue a career that has little chance of success (cough). I know happiness is important, but I guess it doesn’t buy security (::Shakes fist at Angus::).
I never really played baseball, but I consider myself a well-rounded athletic person. I think basic hand-eye coordination skills and some motor functions are all you need to play quick pick up games with students that build robots. It may sound cliché, but I remember the little league kids teasing to come closer whenever I went up to bat.
I felt a surge of confidence when the Japanese people all moved back when they saw I was next. I wish I could play little league now (Mitch Hedberg reference).
The BBQ feast we had was epic. We cooked the amount of beef equivalent to a full cow. The sizzling moo kept me stuffing my face until I truly could not move. The food coma struck me swiftly and skillfully like a trained ninja. Fortunately, the promises of sake and soju kept me from pitching a tent and calling it a night. My eyelids were heavy and my breathing slowed while I struggled to maintain a Japanese conversation. I knew it was a bad sign when I couldn’t think of anything but jumping cows and fluffy sheep.
The token Irishman (hopefully not as offensive as my “little Chinaman” nickname) did not disappoint the typical stereotypes of alcoholism and drunken rage.
His bottles of jager and rum proved useful for the night to follow. The Japanese students didn’t really need a drinking game. Most of them nursed two beers and showed their Asian glow. By the third, they were laughing for no reason and started bursting out into song. “Ponyo ponyo ponyo ponyo pon!” echoed in my ears and haunted all those that tried to escape its addictive tune. By the four, half of the group huddled in a corner, while the heavier drinkers started our drinking games. I’ve never been so drunk by 10PM (maybe zombiecon trumps it with 2PM). My memory of the night is a little patchy, but I distinctly remember wearing pink slippers outside and getting into a fight with a vending machine… He started it.
~See Lemons a Little Tipsy

Random Observation/Comment #98: I miss field trips. They made me so happy because I could be legally absent for a day. I was one of those losers who had perfect attendance throughout elementary, middle, and high school. My mom always said I wasn’t sick enough to stay home, and I never met bad enough friends to convince me to skip classes. Things were easy back then – I played with blocks, waited for naptime, ate some lunch, and talked to random people who became friends. As I grew up, the blocks had changed to books and computers, but then rest sort of stayed the same. Now, there’s much less time in the day, and everything feels so rushed. I’m blitzing through life when all I want to do is stop running. Can I ever take five for a breather? Oh yeah, field trips are cool.

R: “Clemens, are you free next Tuesday and Wednesday, and do you have 20,000 yen?”
Me: “Well I have the money, but I was thinking of exploring Osaka a little mo--“
R: “No no no. You’re coming on the field trip. Shimada-san, can you add Clemens to the list?”
Me: “Well, wait… Where are we going, and what are we doing?”
R: “Oh, I have no idea, but there will be a lot of alcohol involved. Plus, you speak English and I need someone to bother. Bother bother bother.”
Me: “Uhhh… I don’t have a say in this?”
R: “Not at all.”
Me: “Okay. Sounds good to me.”
And so it began. I had already spent countless days traveling alone, so I took the opportunity to be social. I had no idea where I was going, but it didn’t matter – I had learned that life is not always about your location or situation, but rather sharing that moment with those you care about most.
No matter how well I can write, nothing will substitute another person’s perspective. I can’t write their experience in their own eyes. I can’t capture their thoughts and bring them to life. If all the people I wanted to share this experience with were next to me, I wouldn’t have to.
We cramped into a bus and drove for hours to some random location in the middle of nowhere. The fog that day gave it an eerie Hollywood horror film feel to it. It felt like there was a murder mystery brewing behind the scenes. Three rooms would be shared by 16 people, and one of them was reserved for the only two girls that joined us. Seven guys sleeping on the floor of a normal sized single sounded terrible at first, but we had the perfect solution to make it not matter – alcohol. I had called “no homo,” but I think Richie and I were the only ones who understood. Before the eventual drinking night, we went paragliding and ate some of the best barbeque I’ve had in my life. College field trips accompanied by alcohol are just simply amazing. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to make me happy.
~See Lemons Happily Dragged Along

photo by: yasuyo