Archive for March, 2010

Busy Day

Tuesday, March 30th, 2010

It’s been one of those days when time just seems to get eaten up.  It’s nearly 7pm and my todo list is growing instead of getting smaller.

I’ve spent a few hours today contacting people about TPF’s participation in this year’s Google Summer of Code.  The deadlines for this project are so tight.  Students only have from March 29th to April 9th to apply.  Now if this was something that was worked on full-time it might not feel like such a rush but it’s a lot of work for the volunteers involved.  I’m really impressed with the dedication given to this project by Jonathan and his team.

I’ve been trying to get my email under control.  It’s hard to believe that only two weeks ago I managed to get my inbox to zero.  I have gotten much better at managing this but I still haven’t found a good way to deal with the emails that contain difficult or time consuming issues.

I’ve also wasted quite a bit of time waiting on my laptop to catch up with my brain and fingers.  I think the time has come to buy something faster.  It’s not just the time spent waiting on it that causes me problems, it also makes me feel agitated. This change in my mood makes me less productive and more likely to sound irritated when I am responding to something.  When it comes to machines patience is a virtue I lack.

Ada Lovelace Day: Jacinta Richardson

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to celebrate the achievements of women in technology and science.  Since I am involved with the Perl community it seemed natural for me to begin there when trying to decide who to write about.  I found it quite difficult to pick one woman.  At times we bemoan the small number of women in the community but every one that I have met has been impressive in some way.

Last year I met Jacinta Richardson at YAPC::EU.  I had heard of Jacinta’s work.  I knew that she had been awarded a White Camel award, I knew that she was a successful Perl trainer, and I knew that she wrote Perl Tips.  Last year I got to see that she is also a great conference speaker, and to see first hand why she was given a White Camel.  Not only is she technically brilliant but she also has a desire to bring out the potential in other people.  She really wants to see improvement in the Perl community and is willing to work hard to see that happen.

Even though I have only known her for a short time Jacinta’s impact on the Perl community has affected me.  Without Jacinta’s support and encouragement I would never have been a keynote speaker at OSDC Australia last year.  Being given that opportunity is making it easier for me to prepare for this year’s conference season.  Thank you, Jacinta.  I look forward to seeing your future achievements.

Beef Bulgogi

Friday, March 19th, 2010

I wasn’t able to find the right leaves to wrap the beef bulgogi in. I ended up buying a large salad cabbage. It seemed to work well though I think Marty got a bit carried away…

Beef Bulgogi Marty Style

Beef Bulgogi Marty Style

Lost in Translation

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

I try to read some Japanese everyday.  Today I was reading Daisuke’s post about his todo list for the Japan Perl Association.  While reading about volunteers and administration I came across a word that I couldn’t understand. It was in katakana so I could sound out the word – buresuto  (ブレスト).  And since it was in katakana it’s probably a word borrowed from a language like English.  The only word I could come up with was “breast” and why on earth would he be talking about that?  So, I asked my friend, what is ブレスト?  And she said, “oh that would be breast”.

I told her that really it couldn’t be because it made no sense.  She came and read the whole sentence and still looked completely confused.  She asked me if it could be a technical term related to Perl, but nothing that sounds like that came to mind.  I looked it up in my dictionary and it told me that the word was “breast”.

I went and got a better dictionary.  The word means “brain storming”.  There are times when the Japanese create words from English words by taking the start of each word and joining them together.  So, for example, “pasucon” is a shortened form of “personal computer”.   And it seems that “buresuto” joins the start of brain and storm.

White Day

Sunday, March 14th, 2010

Today is White Day, the day when men in Japan buy gifts for women. This is to balance out Valentine’s Day, when women buy gifts for men.  Although Marty doesn’t like these commercial holidays he still bought me some beautiful white roses.

White Roses

White Roses

Creative Frenzy

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

I got email this morning reminding me that Script Frenzy starts in April.  The challenge is to write a 100 page script in a month.  This doesn’t interest me as much as the novel writing challenge NaNoWriMo did.  I’ve no idea what I would do with a script if I wrote one.  Mind you that’s not a particularly good reason not to try; after all it’s not like I let anyone read the novel I wrote in November.  I then thought that it might not interest me because I’ve never written a script before.  But the more I thought about it the more scripts I remembered writing.

I wrote my first script for a play when I was 10 years old.  I have no idea what it was about but I can remember the rehearsals with the members of my primary school class.  After that I wrote sketches for the drama team I was part of, and I can remember quite a few of those.  I continued to do this until around my third year as an undergraduate.   I realise now that I stopped doing quite a few creative things at that point.  I stopped sewing clothes, knitting, playing the clarinet, and writing.  I suppose I had to focus on my science degree and getting qualifications so that I could find a job.  Or maybe I just changed the focus of my creative energy, as it was at that time I started to learn to program.  I did continue to compose music until my mid-twenties but at some point I stopped doing that as well.

In the past year my desire to be creative has led me to knit, sew, write, sing, and play.   The odd thing has been the reactions of other people.  When I told one friend that I liked to knit in the evenings they started to talk about how I could maybe sell the things I make.  When I said I wanted to write I was asked if I wanted to get a book published.  When I sing I’m asked if I want to get a job singing somewhere, or heaven forfend, if I want to audition for something like the X-factor. And last week when I was altering clothes I was asked if I was considering becoming a clothes designer!

Is there only value if there is money involved?  Why can’t I write for the sheer pleasure of seeing words form on the page.  Or knit so I can admire the material and the patterns I can make?

Finger Licking Good

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

I made a faux pas last night.  I was eating roast chicken in an American Brasserie near Roppongi Hills.  Normally in a Japanese restaurant you are given a towel to wash your hands before eating.  But since this was an American style restaurant they didn’t do this.  After I had finished eating my dinner I picked at the chicken with my fingers while chatting.  I was interrupted by a waitress who rushed over with a towel.  At first I thought she was giving this to me so I could wipe my hands once I had finished eating the chicken. But she took the towel out of its wrapper and wanted me to wipe my fingers before I continued eating.  I like eating with my fingers, and I forget that in certain circumstances it will horrify the people around me.

Pin Cushion

Saturday, March 6th, 2010

My fingers are sore.  I kept stabbing them with the sewing needle I was using earlier.  It must be years since I tried to alter a garment by hand.  The alteration looks good but it took me longer to do than it should have and I kept missing the fabric.  I imagine that I’ll get better with practice.  Earlier this evening I was able to keep knitting whilst watching T.V. in the dark, but my knitting needles aren’t quite as pointy as that sewing needle was.

Tissue Paper Man

Friday, March 5th, 2010

A while ago I joined the Perl Iron Man Challenge to motivate me to write more regularly about Perl.  I’m not sure how successful that has been.  I was reading Leonard’s post about how he finds it hard to come up with a topic every week, but he has managed to do this for eight months.  I think the longest consecutive run for me was eight weeks.

I should have things to write about as I am working on a variety of community projects.  But lots of what I do isn’t overly exciting and I find it hard to be inspired to write about it.  Even when I am really pleased about something, like Dave Mitchell’s grant being accepted, I can’t think of anything much to say.  Maybe someday I’ll get better at this.

Food Substitutions

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Living in Japan can make it difficult for me to buy certain ingredients.  I try to find suitable substitutions, I use natural yoghurt instead of crème fraiche, milk soured with lemon instead of buttermilk.  But sometimes I can’t find what I need.  While I was chopping soup vegetables this morning I was thinking about how great it would be to be able to buy parsnip.  I have never seen a parsnip in Japan.  There are some other tuber like things in the supermarket but I have never bought them.

I’m not the only member of my family to make food substitutions.  My great-uncle used to make dinner for his mother, my great-grandmother, and he didn’t always have what he needed.  Apparently, if he didn’t have enough salad vegetables he would go out into the garden and pull up some weeds and substitute grass for spring onions.  I’m not planning on doing that with my soup but it didn’t seem to cause my family any harm.  So maybe I should just try cooking with some of the strange looking tubers in the supermarket and not worry so much about having the exact vegetable.