sheepchase

Delays in replies

Please note that I am on extended sick leave and responses to emails and other contact may be severely delayed. Thank you for your understanding. I am also not accepting students into the lab at this time.

Are you in a musical rut?

For as long as I can remember music has been an essential part of my life. I play music myself (though I haven’t touched the piano all year this year because of my depression…), but mostly I listen to music. If I’m in the house and not sleeping, I’m probably listening to some music on my Apple HomePod. When I walk in the morning I often—though not always— listen to

On being queer, and being bisexual

“What”, I hear you ask, “are you talking about?” Surely you’re one or the other? Typical bisexual eh, can’t sit properly on chairs and can’t make up their mind!* I previously wrote (on coming out) that I sometimes identify as bisexual and sometimes as queer and that I’d write about that in a future post, so here is that explanation—as well as I can give it without becoming too academic.

The somewhat failure of science cafes in Japan

In 2004 I helped, with a group of young Japanese researchers, to introduce Science Cafes into Japan. We weren’t the only people in the country to think about the idea, but we were instrumental in creating buzz and a network, and (in my case at least) advising others in creating their own Science Cafes. You can read an academic article comparing some models of Science Cafes here:https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273904426_Sipping_Science_The_Interpretative_Flexibility_of_Science_Cafes_in_Denmark_and_Japan. Science Cafes were

Depression is not feeling sad

Let me begin by clarifying, mild to moderate depression can very much have a strong element of feeling sad. Severe depression too. But it is so different from what we consider to be ‘feeling sad’ that it’s worth making the distinction. I should also caveat that what I write here is my experience of depression and it may not be the same as yours or those you know. When we

Making Christmas in Japan

It still surprises friends back in the UK that Christmas isn’t a holiday in Japan. I can’t blame them. Christmas is so ingrained in our culture that, unless you’ve traveled the world a bit or have international friends, you’d just assume that Christmas is an important occasion everywhere. But, as you soon find out when you live here, Christmas is very different in Japan. Actually, a lot has changed in

Big in Japan (2): A defense of Starbucks

It’s hip to criticize Starbucks. Starbucks is seen as the epitome of all that’s evil in the world, a huge multinational company that squeezes out the small local establishments, a place that doesn’t serve coffee so much as serves warm milk with a hint of bitter coffee taste. That’s not how I see Starbucks. For me it’s a safe space, and comes close to the ‘third space’ that it promised

Big in Japan: on clothes

Japan is definitely not designed for someone of my size. I am over six feet tall (nearly 2 meters) with pretty broad shoulders. I am not particularly fat—although I’ve put on a lot of weight since my diagnosis of depression, a side-effect of antidepressants, and being inside a lot due to the pandemic—but I am most definitely too large for Japanese spaces. Of course buying clothes has been a challenge

Britain: A nightmare

I don’t know the country I grew up in anymore. Not just because I’ve been in Japan for so long, but because I don’t recognize how Brexit happened. I don’t recognize how the politics I thought I knew turned into the bile I see and hear coming from the mouths of British people. Or perhaps more realistically, I simply failed to notice that what has transpired now was always around

Coming out

It’s a cliché that you don’t come out once, but you come out several times, sometimes to the same person, sometimes even to yourself. It’s also a cliché that as part of the coming out story, you report that you “have known since I was…”, and give an age. In my research career I have conducted a lot of long semi- or unstructured interviews with people about their life histories.

First impressions of the USA (notes from 2004)

Not long after I moved to Japan in late 2003, the research centre that I had joined started planning overseas business trips to exchange information. At the time I didn’t realize just how research budgets work—and fortunately I wasn’t in charge of them—but the Centre paid for several of us researchers to go to the United States in early 2004. The very idea of going to the USA to me