Snowy New York

Yesterday morning I went for a walk through the snow in Manhattan.  It really was postcard perfect, especially along the river front.

Hudson River Bank

Hudson River Bank

2 Responses to “Snowy New York”

  1. Norwin Says:

    I note that there are no other people in the picture. That surprises me for New York. Did it take a long time to set up that picture, or was it just quiet?

  2. karen Says:

    It was just quiet. It was taken around 9am when a lot of people would already be at work and school. And it was really cold outside, so people were probably inside watching the snow from a distance.

$foo Interview

The new edition of $foo magazine has been released and it contains an interview on the current state of The Perl Foundation.

“Nach 2008, 2009 gibt es jetzt zum dritten Mal ein Interview zum Thema “State of TPF”. Für diese Ausgabe stand neben Richard Dice auch Karen Pauley für das Gespräch zur Verfügung.”

An English version of the original interview has been published on the $foo site.

This was the first time I have ever been interviewed and I found it difficult. I worry if answers are too short or too long, too glib or too detailed, or just too boring.   I probably worry too much.

6 Responses to “$foo Interview”

  1. Andrew Wilson Says:

    You worry too much, that was an interesting article.

  2. karen Says:

    Glad you thought so 🙂

  3. Alan in Belfast Says:

    > I look forward to the progress of Strawberry Perl, and eventually Chocolate Perl too.

    Can I add Pooh Bear Perl to Richard Dice’s wish list?

  4. karen Says:

    I love the idea – not sure though that people outside of Northern Ireland would get that 🙂

  5. Andrew Wilson Says:

    Ask him about adding Phish Food Perl or Chunky Monkey Perl — he’ll get that — probably.

  6. karen Says:

    Think we’ll avoid registered trademarks – but yes I think he’d get the point 🙂 And of course I don’t really see Perl getting confused for icecream…

Shopping in Manhattan

This afternoon I decided to brave the Century 21 department store.  I had a pleasant morning and an enjoyable lunch with Marty and Nozaki-san, so today was a good day to try it.  I would love shopping to be a pleasant experience, but with a slogan of “fashion worth fighting for”, Century 21 is not the place to go if you are looking for calm.

The horror started as soon as I entered the store. I tried to find some new socks for Marty but got fed up really quickly of getting pushed out of the way by the men shopping there.  Maybe they didn’t see me, but it seems that good manners are left outside the shop.

I moved to the handbag section and tried to find a new bag.  There were some lovely things and they were certainly inexpensive but I didn’t see anything I liked enough to fight my way through the crowds.  I did overhear an argument between a member of staff and a customer.  The customer was asking the sales assistant to please not kick the baskets at her. The sales assistant was standing with her hands on her hips saying “I didn’t kick anything”, sounding horrifying like a defiant child.  I moved quickly away from that fight and went to look at ladies clothes.

It was chaotic and disorganised and I was disgusted by how much damage had been done to some of the dresses.  Beautiful dresses made from high quality fabric with plucks and tears.  I did manage to find some clothes and went to try them on.  Well, wasn’t that an experience.  Someone took the clothes from me to make sure that I wasn’t hiding items.  They don’t trust the customers to be truthful about the number of items they have.  They also take everything from you when you leave so they can count the clothes again, and then hand back the items you wish to purchase.  But the strangest thing for me was hearing the sales assistants talk about the customers stealing things, and the big signs up about shop lifters.  There are ways of checking clothes that don’t make your customers feel like suspected criminals.

My final stop was at the shoe department.  I haven’t quite worked out how you are supposed to try on shoes that are joined together with cable tags and I yelped the first time I didn’t notice the security tag at the back of one shoe I tried on.  I only managed to put shoes on my right foot, but even if I had managed to put on both it’s not like there was room to walk around.

When I went to buy the shoes the sales assistant didn’t actually speak to me or even look at me.  She continued a conversation with two other assistants about one of the customers in the store.  The words old and fat were used.  Truly delightful.

And why did I put up with this?  I’m now the proud owner of a beautiful Calvin Klein suit that cost me about 25% of the original price and a pair of Stuart Weitzman evening shoes that cost $21 instead of the retail price of $340.

Food, Glorious Food

Eating in America often seems to be about quantity.  I have been told that people expect large portions but if there is too much food on my plate I lose my appetite.  I think part of the problem comes from my childhood where I was told that I needed to eat everything that was put on my plate.  Knowing before I start eating that I’m never going to finish makes me reluctant to start.

Last night we went to the Palm Restaurant in TriBeCa.  The quality of the food was really good and I did order the smallest steak – though at 9oz it was still a bit big for me.  But it was the size of the dessert that horrified me.  Thankfully they brought it on a separate plate with a large knife making it look as if they didn’t really expect me to eat it all.  It tasted amazing but I brought most of it back to the hotel with me in a box.

I still have at least half of the cake.  I did eat some of it after lunch but I probably won’t be able to finish it all.  I hate the waste and I have wasted so much food in the past week.  I left half of my lunch today and we are now trying to work out what to do with the remains of the our carry-out dinner.  We got one meal between the two of us but Marty ordered soup as a starter and ended up with about a litre of it.   We don’t have a fridge in our room so most of it will end up down the sink.  And the phrase “waste not, want not” keeps running through my head.

4 Responses to “Food, Glorious Food”

  1. Jessica Marie Says:

    I’ve been told I’m a ‘cheap date’ because I always order the smallest portions available. It can get pretty bad. Hans, however, sees the large portions as a challenge…

  2. karen Says:

    I have been looking for the smallest things on the menu or at eating starters as a main course. Today we decided to eat breakfast and dinner and skip lunch as that made it easier to eat dinner.

  3. christine bailie Says:

    Yes,I to remember as a child being told to finish everything that was on my plate and now for some reason I think it is highly bad mannered if I don’t.
    I can never understand why people order food and not finish it. I would only ever take what I know I can eat. which is usually quite alot.

  4. karen Says:

    Well, the problem in America is that you order something like the “steak special” and it ends up being 24oz(one and half pounds), which is enough steak to easily feed a whole family.

    I even managed to order too much food here at chains that I have eaten at the U.K. simply because a medium sized American pizza is much bigger than a medium sized U.K pizza. For example I was out for lunch with friends yesterday and pizza that was on the menu for children turned out to be 10 inches! I would have had difficulty finishing that for lunch and the 3 year old hadn’t a hope of eating it.

Perl Oasis++

There are times I wish that the world was a smaller place or that I lived closer to the conferences I want to attend.  Getting to Orlando took a long time.  I was flying from Tokyo via Seoul and New York.  The detour to Seoul added about 5 hours to the trip but it did mean that I was able to fly in business class.  I am willing to trade the extra time for the ability to sleep on the plane.   It was a bit horrifying though to fly over Tokyo 10 hours after I had left my apartment that morning.

I also wish that travelling was more pleasant.   To travel you have to be willing to queue for hours and to allow people to go through your luggage.  You have to be prepared to remove your shoes and belts and to let a stranger run their hands over your body.  You have to be pleasant while someone asks you questions about your intentions and takes your picture and finger prints.  And you have to be prepared to put up with whatever silly security precaution the airports are going to run with next.

The new procedures for flying into America seemed pointless to me.  All my hand luggage had been x-rayed so I don’t know what they expected to find by opening up my handbag and having a quick glance inside.

Thankfully, Perl Oasis was an excellent conference and worth the time spent travelling.

I attend a lot of conferences and I’m always on the look out for the things that improve the attendees experience.  At this conference I loved the basket of travel accessories that was at the registration desk.  The organisers had put together the sorts of things that people forget to bring with them and were giving them away for free.  It’s a lovely idea and I took a packet of anti-histamine tablets as I keep forgetting the air conditioners in hotels drive my sinuses mad.

Essential Items

Essential Items

One Response to “Perl Oasis++”

  1. Khaos » Blog Archive » Waiting for Summer Says:

    […] that I probably wasn’t well enough to attempt the journey.  I have been once before and I really enjoyed the workshop.  Actually, I’ve enjoyed all of the Perl workshops that I have attended.  They […]

Time to Travel

After being home for just over two weeks it’s time to travel again.  Perl Oasis takes place this weekend in Orlando.  It’s smaller than most of the other conferences I attend and I’m glad.  It’s much easier to get to know people in a small group.  I’m looking forward to hearing Miyagawa talk on Plack, and Matt talking on trolls and mountains

Marty is also talking but I am never sure how I feel about that.  He may be amazing or he may decide he wants to insult every member of the audience, who knows?  But I suppose if nothing else he won’t be boring.

And the thing that amuses me most about the conference?  At the minute the Perl Mongers group with the most confirmed attendees is the Japanese group

L is for Left

Every time I knit something for myself I pick a pattern that contains either a new stitch or a new technique.  I want to improve and to eventually get to the stage where I’m an expert.  But I have a problem, I’m left-handed and I knit left-handed.  Knitting patterns are written for right-handed knitting.  If I want to follow a pattern, and I want my finished piece to match it, I need to be able to read things in reverse.   If I don’t, I will end up with something that is a mirror image of the original pattern.

I’ve been knitting lace and I have been trying to work out why people think that left-handed knitters should always reverse lace charts.  The patterns I’m knitting are symmetrical.  I haven’t reversed the current pattern I’m working on and it’s incredibly difficult to see that there is a difference in my finished product than the pictures of the design.  I also don’t know why following every pattern to the letter is so important.  Who cares if my beautiful piece of lace was created using left-slanting decreases instead of right-slanting decreases?

The problems come when I’m trying to match a diagram and I suddenly realise that my added on piece is on the wrong side.  I’ve been working on knitted on boarders and all the instructions are for right-handed knitters.  I need to try to reverse these pictures in my head and I am not good at doing that.  Even something simple like “my new piece will actually be on the left and not the right” isn’t an easy thing for me to understand.  I know what all those words mean in English but something about the words “left” and “right” makes my brain freeze and begin to panic.  If I try to read the written instructions it might use the words “left” and “right” 10 times in one paragraph. At that point I turn into a robot out of a bad sci-fi movie who just wants to say “does not compute” over and over again.  Thankfully I live with someone who can understand and reverse diagrams, even if he doesn’t knit.

I have been trying to get more information on left-handed knitting but often the only advice is that you shouldn’t do this.  I have tried to knit right-handed. Knitting was taught in the primary school I attended, when I was about 7 years old.  I was the only child in my class who couldn’t knit.  I can still remember how frustrating it was to not be able to produce squares like the rest of the class.  My teacher realised that my problem was that I was left-handed and taught me how to knit the basic left-handed stitches.  In no time at all, at least it appears that way in my cloudy memory, I was the best knitter in my class.

Recently I tried this again thinking that maybe my right hand will work better now.  It doesn’t.  I can’t even make the needle go through a stitch.  It would be comical if it didn’t confuse me so much.  I also can’t use a pen in my right hand.  I thought it would speed up my knitting if I used my right hand to record rows for me.  All I had to do was write tally marks or the number one on a sheet of paper.  I find it hard to hold a pen correctly in my right hand.  I also can’t draw anything that looks like a straight line and since it takes me about three attempts to write the number one it’s much quicker to set the knitting down and use my left hand.

I’m glad that I didn’t grow up in a generation forced to use their right hand for writing.  If I can still remember how frustrated I was with not being able to knit I dread to think how badly it would have affected my academic progress if I had felt the same way about writing.

4 Responses to “L is for Left”

  1. Marcus Ramberg Says:

    Without having thought this through properly, I would imagine it would be possible to write some code to take knitting instructions and reverse them? 🙂 I guess the hard part is digitizing them in the first place.

  2. karen Says:

    It is possible to do that, I have done it for some things. Don’t know if many knitters use vi for reversing instructions 🙂

    But yes, getting the instructions in digitized form isn’t always easy. I also don’t have a complete list of the stitches and what they are called when reversed – but I imagine that eventually I will have this.

  3. Andrew Noble Says:

    Well you know that left handed people are in their right mind…

  4. karen Says:

    So I’ve heard – but then who really knows what going on inside our brains?

Conferences in 2010

I used to think of conferences as something that happened in the summer, and a northern hemisphere summer at that.  Now I know that there are conferences that I could attend in every month of the year, if I had the time, money, or inclination.

The first conference I’ll be attending in 2010 is Perl Oasis and it’s taking place in Florida next weekend.  I won’t be speaking.  It will probably take me until April to have new talks written for 2010.  I had also wanted to go to Frozen Perl, but I’ve decided that it’s a bit expensive.  Not the actual conference, it’s low-cost at $100 (US), but the flights and hotel would cost me more than $1000.  As well as the cost there is the cold.  It is being held in Minneapolis, which is expecting a low of -23°C today.  In the past this has appealed to me but I’ve already had enough travel hassle in the past month due to cold weather to make me want to avoid this where I can.

This year I’m not going to attend  I enjoyed the conference last year but the four days I spent in hospital with food poisoning after the conference has put me off, even though I know it wasn’t the conference that caused the illness.  I do want to attend some non-Perl conferences again this year but I’m not sure which ones yet.  Gabor has been organising an events team on behalf of TPF to attend FOSDEM and CeBIT but I’m going to be in America during FOSDEM and won’t be able to travel to Germany at the start of March for CeBIT.

The main Perl conferences of the year take place between June and September.  So far, there is no information on YAPC::NA apart from the fact that it will be held in Columbus, Ohio.  I’m hoping that it takes place some time in June as this year family commitments will prevent me from attending conferences in July and early August.  This means I won’t be going to OSCON and I won’t be able to attend YAPC::EU.  I’m disappointed that I will miss YAPC::EU as I’ve been to the past 9.

As for the rest of the year I haven’t decided yet.  There’s been noises made about a Vancouver Perl Workshop and I really enjoyed OSDC in Australia this year.  But I think I’ll wait until I finish my next trip before I make any more decisions.

5 Responses to “Conferences in 2010”

  1. chromatic Says:

    Open Source Bridge will likely occur in June this year; I prefer it to OSCON anyhow.

  2. karen Says:

    I heard good things about that conference last year. I’ll keep an eye out for announcements (or I’ll let my computer do that for me 🙂 )

  3. leonard miller Says:

    With the current weather in the US, perl oasis might be colder than all of the previous frozen perl’s…

    I cannot fault you for avoiding Minneapolis international airport in the winter.

  4. karen Says:

    Orlando does seem to be going through a cold spell, and I imagine that their airport isn’t exactly used to dealing with frozen planes and runways – so hopefully it gets warmer.

    The recent travel chaos in Amsterdam and London caused by snow has put my off winter travel. I’ll still be going to New York and Pittsburgh, but that was all booked before my European trip.

  5. Dean Wilson Says:

    My Europe picks are Devops (if you have a sysadmin side), EuroPython in Birmingham and FroSCON. I’m going to give FOSDEM another chance and if the talks haven’t improved I’ll skip next years. YAPC::EU never gives me the speaker list far enough in advance so I’ve missed the last few and the Nordic Perl Workshop is always a laugh.

    I’d love to do SCALE or Velocity but the costs are insane compared to any three Europe conferences. And

Sleeping Habits

I wish I was one of those people who can sleep on command.  The first train has gone by the apartment and I’m still awake.  I haven’t managed to adjust time zones.  I could try forcing myself to stay awake all through the night and day, but since I change time zones again in just over a week, I don’t think I’ll be able to drum up enough will power.

I also can’t work out why I think I should be sleeping at 4:30am.  Why does it matter to me?  I’m not doing anything tomorrow that’s tied to a particular time.  I was going to start the day by answering some TPF email, but I can just as easily do that now.  But I still feel that being awake all night and sleeping all day is a waste of the day.  Maybe it’s some silly thing I was taught as a child to try to make me get out of bed in the mornings. I need to lose this feeling though.  Feeling bad about being awake makes me go to bed where I end up gazing at the ceiling for hours, driving myself mad. And that is a complete and utter waste of time.

Easy Living

I’m cooking Irish Stew for dinner tonight.  Marty loves this though he has annoyed me before by suggesting that it’s an easy option for dinner.  The problem lies with the word “easy”.  It’s true that there are no advanced cooking techniques required but it just took me an hour and half to get it to the stage where everything is in the stew pot.  In about another hour and a half it will be ready to eat.  That’s not my idea of an easy dinner.

Yesterday evening I got out one of my new knitting books, Victorian Lace Today, as I was keen to try out some of the beautiful patterns it contains.  I decided to start with something marked as an “intermediate” pattern.  After about two hours I decided that it was too difficult and I would start with something marked “easy”.  I have knit expert patterns before and I have also knit lace before so I was surprised that I was having such difficultly.  But then the word easy doesn’t really tell me very much.

The lace I’m knitting, just like the food, doesn’t contain advanced techniques.  It does, however, involve concentration and precision.  If every stitch needs to be perfect is the pattern really easy?  And when I say it doesn’t contain advanced techniques I suppose that depends on who you ask.  I know quite a few knitters who wouldn’t have a clue how to knit the lace as it involves stitches that are not taught to beginners and you have to know how to read a lace chart.

There is a cliche that says that says, “it’s easy when you know how”, but I’m not convinced.  Even a task that is easy can become difficult if you have to repeat many times.  As for the stew maybe it is an easy option for Marty.  All he needs to do is eat it once it’s finished and given how good it smells at the minute that shouldn’t be too difficult.

2 Responses to “Easy Living”

  1. Andrew Noble Says:

    Your stew only takes an hour and a half to cook? I cook mine 3 times before I eat it – need to allow the stew to thicken and flavours to infuse. Then again, maybe I have too much time on my hands!

  2. karen Says:

    I will admit that I cheat a bit with the stew. I use lean steak inside of the sort of meat that needs to be cooked for hours. Also it’s the sort of stew you eat with a fork and I can’t allow the potatoes to cook into mush.

    It would taste better the next day, if any of it actually manages to stay in the pot that long.

    I could cook the meat for much longer before adding the potatoes, but I tend to do that with other stews, the sort that use red wine, and not with an Irish Stew.

Christmas Gifts

As always I got some lovely gifts for Christmas.  But this year I also received a gift that really made me laugh.  As part of her Christmas present my sister bought me some novelty wool and a knitting pattern to go with it.   Can you imagine how funny I would look wearing one of these?

Knitting Pattern

Knitting Pattern

Of course, it may be a hint to knit one for someone else…

12 Responses to “Christmas Gifts”

  1. Jessica Marie Says:

    Sometimes I wonder how models manage to keep straight faces.

  2. karen Says:

    I have no idea how they manage that either so it may be a rather hard job. And do they actually pay people to come up with these patterns?

  3. geoff! Says:

    I think such a great fuzzy needs to have googley eyes stuck on it! 🙂

  4. karen Says:

    That could be quite alarming – depending on the placement of the eyes…

  5. Ampersandrew Says:

    Now I’m wonderin’ what’s wrong with it …

    Looks ok to me.

  6. karen Says:

    Andrew, are you serious? Oh my. You’ve made me laugh. And I’m not going to knit one and wear just so you can see why that would look so funny on me.

  7. Norwin Says:

    If Andrew likes it so much, you could knit one for him!

  8. karen Says:

    What a horrifying thought!

  9. christine Hunter Says:

    Well I think it is rather fetching, I would certainly wear this top in the summer especially in green.hehe

  10. karen Says:

    Really, because I certainly have enough green wool to knit you one 🙂 And just think what a lovely picture that would make for my blog…

  11. christine bailie Says:

    My darling friend Janine would like one,so can we put in orders?..

  12. karen Says:

    I do have enough wool to make two of them 🙂 And I’m sure she would look fab…

New 101 List

I’m not really into New Year’s resolutions but I do like to have goals.  Last year I started a list of 101 things to do in 1001 days.  I really like the concept but there were quite a few months during the year when I didn’t even look at the list.  And since some of my tasks were weekly this has left the list in a bit of a mess.

So, today I’m going to create a new list.  When I mentioned this to Marty he said, “So you are going to cheat.”  But no, I don’t consider what I’m doing cheating.  The list is there to help me focus on some things I’d like to do.  The new list will contain most of the tasks I didn’t complete on the old one and it will contain an additional 8 tasks to replace the ones I did complete.  8 tasks out of 101 doesn’t sound like a lot but then my list doesn’t contain that many one-off tasks.  It’s mainly made up of things I want to do weekly, monthly, or quarterly.

There are also some things I will not put on the new list because I don’t need them there any more.  I wanted to increase the amount of fruit and fish I eat in a week and I now do that without needing a list to remind me.  This change to my diet alone is encouraging me to create a new list.

2 Responses to “New 101 List”

  1. Jessica Marie Says:

    I did the same thing with my 101 list in 2008. It’s not cheating, you’ve just learned from your first year with the list and now you know how to execute one.

  2. karen Says:

    Indeed! And I am excited by my new improved list.