I have decided to add a blog written in Japanese to my aggregator. Mint has been systematically writing up the YAPC::NA conference and I’ve been trying to read his posts. It takes a lot of effort and multiple dictionaries but it makes a change from reading stories about school children climbing mountains or books written for 6 year olds.
I got up early this morning and read my email. That was a mistake. Sometimes my email contains things I would rather not read and I don’t want to start my day feeling angry. So, to take my mind off this I decided to find something to do that would be useful but would also allow me to stop thinking for a while. I ended up mending the hem on Marty’s new trousers. He had tried to do this with a combination of safety pins and some sort of clip like thing that is usually used to hold sheets of paper together. I used a needle and thread.
Some women take toiletries with them from hotel rooms – I take sewing kits. I’m not sure which hotel the kit I used came from but it was really good. Usually these contain one or two needles. This one contained six and all the needles were already threaded. This small improvement really impressed me. I could have threaded the needle myself but sometimes they are awkward and not having to do this saves me time. And if you need to sew in your hotel room you are probably trying to repair a button, zip or hem of something that you had thought you could just put on and wear.
Sewing was one of the things I learnt to do at school. I think in the past I have dismissed some of the things that I learnt at school because I don’t use them directly. It’s easy to think to look back at some seemingly obscure thing that I was taught and wonder what the point was. But the things we learnt in our past become the foundation on which we build new learning.
I have been trying to decide what to study next. As I have recently completed a law degree I was seriously considering a law masters in a computer related area. But that was mainly because it seemed to be a logical step as I was planning on combining two areas of previous knowledge. I think I would be able to do it but I don’t have any passion for the law at the minute. I considered a music degree but really I need to attend a university to do that properly and my limited Japanese prevents me from doing that at this time. I think I’ve decided on philosophy. I asked Marty to print me out the application forms last night. His response was to tell me that it was already hard enough to argue with me and did I really need to learn about logic as well?
Christine and Rachel have headed back home so once again all is quiet in our apartment. Marty took Christine to see the bridge she wanted to see, I took Rachel to see the zoo on a day when it was open and we even managed to go back to karaoke without anyone fighting. And we also took a trip to Tokyo Disneyland.
One Response to “Calm After the Storm”
I don’t think I make a very good tourist guide. I tried to take Rachel to the zoo on Tuesday but it was closed. Tonight my sister wanted to see the Rainbow Bridge. She had seen this in Lost and Translation and wanted to see it lit up in the dark. Well, I did get her to the bridge but you can’t really see it properly when you are standing on it.
5 Responses to “Tourists in Tokyo”
Rachel was concerned about coming to Japan because she had heard about earthquakes, typhoons and tsunami. Yesterday we missed the typhoon and today we missed the earthquake. Marty rang about it because it’s the first time since we moved to Japan that the elevators at his office have been turned off because the building was moving.
Hopefully there won’t be a tsunami.
I have had family call about a typhoon. I hadn’t even realised that there had been a typhoon here but I have since gone and looked up information on Typhoon Man-Yi. We are all fine if a little wet from spending the day walking about in the rain.
2 Responses to “Stormy Weather”
I have been really impressed by how willing my sister is to go and see things by herself in Tokyo and today, armed with a guide book, she managed to go and see the gardens at Rikugien. In fact when we met up this afternoon I thought that she had a completely successful day. I did notice that she was wearing a different outfit but since it’s so humid here I wasn’t that surprised that she had decided to get changed.
She told me that she had bought her new outfit in Shibuya and that she had managed to ask the people in the shop to cut the tags off for her and to let her get changed. Now, that did seem weird. When she left the house this morning she was wearing white shorts and an orange and white top. They are no longer white. When she was walking around the gardens it started to rain really heavily and got very slippy. Unfortunately she slipped on some rocks and slide into the mud on her behind.
Again she managed to find help. She went into a tea house and they gave her oshi-bori (wet towels) to help her wipe the mud off. She wasn’t going to tell me about this as she knew I would write about it in my blog but her adventures are certainly keeping us entertained.
One Response to “Slippery When Wet”
Yesterday morning my sister Christine decided to go for a walk while I was studying Japanese. When she hadn’t returned 5 hours later we did start to get a bit worried.
She went out for breakfast and then spent a couple of hours wandering around the local area. When she noticed the time she decided to get a train back as she thought this would be quicker. And it would have been if she had gone in the right direction. She ended up at Ikebukuro which is in the North West of Tokyo when we live in the South West. She was absolutely horrified when she realised that the train station was almost as big as Belfast city centre and had no idea where to go next.
One of the nice things about being in Japan is that people will help you when you are lost. She tried to get help from the information desk and from various people working in the station. However, she hadn’t taken out any of our phone numbers and couldn’t remember the name of the place where we lived. All she knew was that it started with the letter J! No-one she spoke to had any idea where we could possibly live.
She remembered that Marty worked in the Mori Tower and one very helpful man looked up the phone number, rang the tower from his mobile phone and spoke to the people at the tower for her. Unfortunately, because she couldn’t remember who Marty worked for, they wouldn’t put her through. Eventually she decided that she would just have to get the train back to where she had first got on and then walk back to the apartment.
She arrived back at the apartment seven hours after she had left. She is planning on going out again tomorrow morning but this time she is taking our address and one of Marty’s business cards.
Marty has decided to call our visitors fussy and fussier as we aren’t really sure where we can take them to eat. Chrissy has a wheat allergy and isn’t overly fond of rice and Rachel won’t eat any fish or seafood. I was asked today if I could maybe bake some potatoes tonight but as I don’t have an oven or a microwave this isn’t really an option. I do have a rice cooker and a fish grill…
Tonight we went to karaoke which was really good fun until Chrissy and Rachel started a cat fight. I’m not quite sure what happened. One minute they were singing a Maroon 5 song together and the next they were yelling and slapping each other. Families are such fun.
2 Responses to “The Itchy and Scratchy Show”
My sister Christine and my niece Rachel have arrived in Japan. They are really surprised by how peaceful it is where we live. I’m not quite sure what they were expecting but the only word they have been able to come up with to describe Japan so far is foreign.
I find it much harder to cope with jet-lag when I arrive back in Japan. I only managed to sleep for around four hours last night and was really tired during my Japanese lesson this morning. My teacher started by asking me to read her a story. I find it hard to read Japanese when my eyes aren’t sticking together. I was amused that she said that my reading has improved as it felt painfully slow to me. Of course my teacher is Japanese so it’s not that likely that she would tell me that I sucked.
The mosquitoes are also winning. It doesn’t seem to matter what I do but they manage to sneak into my room and night and leave me with itchy bites.
2 Responses to “The Jetlag is Winning”
Having just come back from YAPC::NA I thought I would write up some of my observations on the difference between this conference and the European ones I’ve attended over the past few years. I haven’t been to an American YAPC since 2001 in Montreal.
1. They had a pre-conference dinner
This surprised me as I thought that the last thing the organisers of the conference wanted to do the night before was to go out and eat Mexican food. I did enjoy this. Well, the only part I didn’t enjoy was the strange singing Mexican who wailed a love song into my ear after dinner – but it was certainly a different experience.
2. They didn’t name the rooms after any of the sponsors
I’m not really sure why they didn’t do this as I know that they did have some really good support from sponsors. Maybe they thought it would make it harder for people to find the various rooms or maybe it just didn’t occur to them that this could be something that the sponsors might like.
3. The conference bag didn’t contain a pen or paper
I suppose I’m still old fashioned as I like to write things down during the conference. If I make notes using my laptop I can become distracted and end up reading my email instead of listening to the talk.
4. They didn’t print conference proceedings
There was a booklet produced that contained location information, the schedule, sponsor information and talk abstracts but this didn’t contain the same level of detail that the European ones do. Having been involved in organising a YAPC I know that getting slides or papers in advance from speakers is very difficult and that it is also quite expensive to have these printed out. I didn’t miss these.
5. The auction was held during the conference dinner
I really liked this. It made the auction much more relaxed and also it didn’t seem to run as long at the European ones. The only disadvantage I could see was that it was easier to just sit and chat and ignore the auction.
6. They held a silent auction
One of the dullest things about the European auction is the selling of multiple copies of books and t-shirts. At the American conference a lot of these items were sold during the dinner via a silent auction. This still seemed to raise quite a bit of money and no-one had to sit through the tedium that usually goes along with this.
7. They held a “Town Hall” at the end of the conference
This was a meeting that allowed attendees to ask questions of the conference organisers and The Perl Foundation. I didn’t really like this as it didn’t end the conference on a positive note. The meeting went on for quite some time and people just started to drift away. I left before the end as I became much too cold in the air conditioned room.
8. They had a job fair
I know that in Birmingham last year that they had an expo / job fair but I haven’t quite gotten used to this idea yet. I did spend some time chatting to the various companies at the job fair as I was curious about their use of Perl even though I wouldn’t really be a suitable job candidate for them.
9. They didn’t announce the venue of the next conference.
At the end of a European YAPC they announce where the next conference is going to be held. This is a really positive way to end a conference and I thought it was a pity that they didn’t do this in America – though I don’t believe that the next venue has been chosen yet.
José gave a lightening talk on the things he had learnt in Houston. This included interesting things like how to adjust the air conditioning in the dorm rooms using a screw driver and the fact that the city seemed to be teeming with cockroaches. I learnt a couple of things too. On the first day I managed to get bites on both my feet. It was pointed out to me that I shouldn’t wear open toed sandals in Houston. I managed to get mosquito bites and something else that I was told was probably a chigger bite. I hadn’t even heard of chiggers.
I was also able to get some advice on coping with heat and humidity. And I did meet one woman at the airport who had lived in Japan and continued carrying a parasol now she was living in Houston again. Though the picture below of Norwin and Marty shows why men shouldn’t carry one of these no matter how hot it is.
When I see one of my friends on their birthday I usually ask them if they feel 1 year older. Today, I feel 1 year older than yesterday. It took me 23 hours from when I left the hotel in Houston on Friday to finally arrive at my apartment at 11pm last night. I’m stiff and sore and wish that I had managed to stay asleep for longer. Marty is fast asleep. I did consider waking him as he’s planned some sort of birthday breakfast but he looked much too peaceful.