Archive for October, 2009

Perl in February

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

Gabor has been asking for volunteers to help out at a Perl stand at FOSDEM next year.  I attended FOSDEM in 2006 and I can’t remember hearing Perl mentioned at the conference.  This surprised me and I think it’s great that Gabor wants to change this.

Unfortunately I won’t be able to attend.  I’m going to be in America in January for Perl Oasis and I plan to stay until Frozen Perl, which happens to be the same weekend as FOSDEM.

Disney Hallowe’en

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

Marty and I spent a day at Disney Land so that we could watch the Hallowe’en parades.  He loves the silly songs and dances that the audience are taught.  I was impressed with the food.  We had a beautifully presented meal at the Blue Bayou restaurant.  My starter had a spider’s web drawn on the plate.  I don’t know what it was drawn with as it was so pretty I didn’t want to make a mess of it by eating it.

Scallop Starter

Scallop Starter

My dessert was shaped like a dragon. I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it but the sweet potato cream was lovely, though I still think that food shouldn’t be purple.

Dragon Dessert

Dragon Dessert

Another Day

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

After spending yesterday studying I was pleased that it’s still beautiful outside today. I was worried that it would be wet and grey and that I would get stuck inside. Instead I got to go out and cycle along the river. My joints are aching and I feel tired but I still enjoyed it. I love that there are flowers blooming. The air smells sweet and it would pass for spring except for the changing colours of the leaves.

The ride wasn’t completely peaceful.  Being foreign seems to attract strange people or maybe it’s the clothes I wear cycling…  I don’t know what it is, I just wish it would stop happening.  I don’t mind if people stare or if they are friendly and say “Hello”.  I do mind if they get really close to me when I’ve stopped at the traffic lights, leer, and then start asking questions.  I have no idea what the man was trying to say but he made me feel uncomfortable.  I kept saying that I couldn’t understand and wished that the lights would hurry up and change so I could cycle away.  He may have been saying something completely normal but I would have understood had he been trying to chat about the weather or ask me where I was from, which are the most likely things to be said to me by strangers when I’m out cycling.

This odd encounter made me wary of the other men moving towards me when I stopped to rest.  One did get close enough to say “Hello” but I just said “Hello” back and cycled away before he could attempt to engage me in conversation.  Don’t get me wrong.  I like that this area is friendly and that people smile and say “Hello” when I’m out.  It’s just sometimes people can be a bit creepy or invade my personal space.    Today was one of those days when I noticed.  I saw the group of young men who stopped to point and stare at me when I cycled past.  I noticed the man who followed me around the supermarket when I was getting my groceries, probably because I turned and nearly walked into him at one point.

Tokyo is such a packed city that at times you can’t avoid being crushed together with other people.  Today, when I was out along the river, I just wanted to be left alone to enjoy the fact that there are only a handful of people around.

Tuesday Morning

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

It was really beautiful today. I love the clear skies that follow storms. Just wish I could have gone out cycling instead of having to stay indoors and study Japanese. Hopefully it’s just as beautiful tomorrow.

View towards Mt. Fuji

View towards Mt. Fuji


Monday, October 26th, 2009

I’m fed up today.  I spent the morning at the hospital.  I thought I would feel better when my concerns about my thyroid function were confirmed.  But I don’t.  I now have proof that the tiredness, joint pains, weight gain, and brain fogginess are getting worse because my thyroid function is declining. What I don’t have is a cure.

It’s nearly a year  since I started taking medication for low thyroid function.  At the beginning I was told that it should be an easy thing to correct.  I would just need to take a tablet a day for the rest of my life.  It hasn’t been easy.  The disease appears to be progressing faster than the medication adjustments.

Today’s appointment left me feeling angry.  I was told that although my levels aren’t normal, and are still declining, that they want to wait another four months before changing my medication.  I tried to explain how tired I felt but the Doctor brushed my comments aside.  She had already written the prescription before I entered the room and wasn’t interested at all in my changing condition or symptoms.

I’m going to have to go and see my GP.  He won’t be happy with my current hormone levels.  I don’t know if he can override the hospitals decision but he can maybe do something about the joint pain and other symptoms.

Conversation Error

Monday, October 19th, 2009

I survived three hours of Japanese conversation classes on Saturday.  I wasn’t particularly good at this but I wasn’t completely terrible either.  My favourite mistake was:

Teacher: Have you ever had the experience of being on a diet?

Me: Yes, I have.

Teacher: Why did you do this?

Me: Because I wanted to get shorter.

Which explains why the only people shorter than me in my family are under the age of 10.


Friday, October 16th, 2009

A week or so ago I watched a local news article about deflation in Japan.  It claimed that prices had dropped by around 10% on all goods except food and that further price cuts were expected. It also said things like “terrible depression”, and “failing economy”.

I hadn’t noticed any price reductions but last week the local bakery put up a sign to say it was cutting all prices by 10%.  Today, when I went to buy sushi, each packet was 280 Yen when two days ago it was 350 Yen – a 20% discount.

So if inflation is bad, and now I’m being told that deflation is bad, what exactly is supposed to happen and what is it called?

Level Check

Thursday, October 15th, 2009

I have been trying to find ways to improve my Japanese.  I have lessons twice a week but these are mainly to teach me reading, writing, and grammar.  My conversation skills are terrible and I know I need to find more people to talk to.  I don’t think that private lessons will be that useful for gaining conversation skills so I’ve joined a language school and I start group lessons on Saturday morning.

Before I could sign up for  a class the language school wanted me to take a level check.  I’ve never had a level check before.  As I’m starting a conversation class I imagined it would involve a conversation.  The teacher came into the room, told me her name, looked at a piece of paper, and started to ask questions.  She asked, “Can you eat natto?”.  I looked at her strangely and she asked the question again.  This is not how I expected the conversation to start.  But I answered, “No, I don’t think it tastes good”.  And the teacher sat and looked at me.  I had no idea what she was expecting.  I said in English, “You said, can you eat natto”.  She said in Japanese, “yes, can eat”.  It was then I realised that she wanted me to respond with either “Yes, I can eat natto”, or “No, I can’t eat natto”.

I wasn’t there for a conversation, I was there for a grammar check.  By the time I worked out how I was supposed to be answering questions the check was nearly over.  It didn’t go well.  Not only did I misunderstand about the grammar but I didn’t even have answers to some of the questions in English.  I don’t know what I want for Christmas, I don’t have a favourite type of food, and I can’t explain what I like about Belfast in three simple statements.  I thought it was a conversation.  In a conversation you try to answer truthfully.  In a grammar check you make things up and make sure that you use the correct grammar.  She didn’t want to know what I want for Christmas.  She doesn’t want to be told, “I don’t know” or “I haven’t thought about it yet”.  She just wanted to see if I could say something like, “I want a necklace for Christmas”.  The fact that I really wouldn’t like a necklace isn’t important.  Next time I am having a level check I should really ask which level.

Not Only Perl

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

I worry that I live in a Perl Monger bubble.  That the only things I hear about Perl come from a small group of people that I often refer to as the Perl Community.  To try to change this I have started to attend conferences that cover other topics along with Perl.

In November I will be attending OSDC Australia.  I am giving a modified version of the talk I presented at YAPC::EU.  I had always planned to change some of the words but today I realised that I also need to change some of the pictures.  The talk is about volunteers.  It’s a topic that’s relevant to most Open Source projects.  But the images I use are more suited to the Perl community than they would be to any other.  When I attend a Perl conference I expect nearly everyone in the room to recognise a picture of Larry Wall.  I can put up pictures of Jesse, Ingy, and Matt, and people understand my point.  That’s not going to happen at a general Open Source conference.

I’m certainly not planning on cutting out all references to Perl but I need to spend some time thinking about the audience.

New Studies

Tuesday, October 13th, 2009

I am finally registered for an MA in Applied Linguistics.  I started this process back in February or March and it was getting to the stage where I thought I’d never get through the administration process.  I did miss the course start date but passed all the hurdles on the last possible day for registration.  I was worried that my enthusiasm had been sucked dry but now that I’ve seen the required book list I’m starting to get interested again.