Archive for April, 2010

Fattening Cake

Sunday, April 25th, 2010

It had to happen.  I had been so good only making low-calorie food in the oven.  But then one of my friends had something to celebrate and Black Forest Gateau is his favourite cake.  The chocolate sponge isn’t so bad but the cake is covered in a mountain of fresh cream.

Black Forest Gateau

Black Forest Gateau

Sunday Cake

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

Today I made another low-calorie cake. I wasn’t expecting it to taste so lemony but it’s still really good.

Italian Almond and Carrot Cake

Italian Almond and Carrot Cake

New Version of Perl 5 Released

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

I’ve spent a couple of hours reading about the Perl 5.12.0 release.  My favourite article was posted on the ActiveState blog and it includes a nice summary of the history of Perl 5 development.

I can’t help but be impressed at the things that can be achieved by volunteers.  Jesse wrote:

Perl 5.12.0 represents approximately two years of development since version 5.10.0 and contains over 750,000 lines of changes across over 3,000 files from over 200 authors and committers.

The Perl development team rocks.

Planet of the Monkeys

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010
Monkey 1 - Machine 0

Monkey 1 - Machine 0

Snow Monkeys

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Yesterday we set out to spend the morning at Jigokudani Monkey Park.  We had arrived in Saku the night before and had arranged to meet our friends at 10am.  I was looking forward to our road trip as we are rarely in a car anymore. The day was damp and overcast, so we didn’t get a very good view of the mountains, but the journey was still enjoyable.

Once we parked the car we had a 30 minute hike through the forest.  I would love to see the monkeys when it’s snowing but I don’t know if I really want to go hiking in the middle of winter.  Even yesterday, without any ice or snow, it was a difficult walk.  The ground was muddy and in parts it was very steep and slippy.  But it was worth getting a bit dirty.

The monkeys are Japanese Macaques and they are beautiful.  I wasn’t expecting to see quite so many of them or for them to be so unconcerned about us being there.  A couple of them even pushed me out of the way when they didn’t like where I was standing.

Alpha Male Japanese Macaque

Alpha Male Japanese Macaque

One of the things the monkeys are famous for is bathing in a hot spring.  They do this to keep warm during the snowy months and I wasn’t sure if any would be bathing yesterday.  But when we got to the spring there were quite a few monkeys lazing around.  Others were grooming each other in the water.

Monkey in Onsen

Monkey in Onsen

One of the park keepers pointed out the alpha male of the troop. I believe that he said that the monkey was 26 years old. (He was speaking in Japanese so it’s possible that I am mistaken.)  He was calmly sitting watching all the humans and as long as we didn’t stare at him it was possible to get quite close.

Marty Tries to become Alpha Male

Marty tries to become Alpha Male

Japanese Hotel Room

Sunday, April 11th, 2010

Last night we stayed at the Plaza 21 hotel in Sakudaira.  It was the smallest Japanese hotel room I have ever stayed in.

Hotel Room

Hotel Room

Hotel Room - Looking Towards the Window

Hotel Room - Looking Towards the Window

I found it really hard to take a picture of the room because I couldn’t find anywhere sensible to stand.  The pictures don’t really show how small it was.  If I lay on the bed and stretched out I could touch the walls on either side of the room with the tips of my fingers and the points of my toes.  And I’m not exactly tall.

Weekend Trip

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

This weekend we are going to Saku to visit a friend and to go and see the snow monkeys.  I love travelling on the shinkansen and can’t wait to leave but Marty is still fast asleep.  Obviously the thought of a train with a maximum operating speed of 300 km/h isn’t as exciting to him as it is to me.


Friday, April 9th, 2010

I have often heard people ask conference organisers if they’ve started to have nightmares about the event yet.  I organised a conference and I didn’t have nightmares.  But last night I had my first nightmare about being president of TPF.  The dream involved mutant rats, freaky flying creatures, and black goo.  Thankfully I woke up at the point where the rat people were trying to turn me into a man…

(I imagine when mst is encouraging people to blog about Perl that this isn’t the sort of post he is expecting.  But the dream has been on my mind all day.)

Spring Day

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

This spring has been surprisingly cold and damp.  But today the sun came out and a I finally got a chance to see the cherry blossoms.

Street Lined with Cherry Blossoms

Street Lined with Cherry Blossoms

Baking a Cake

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

“Bake a cake”, he said,  “It’ll be fun”.  It’s been years since I tried to bake a cake and I’d forgotten how much time it can take.  I used to make chocolate cakes, but I really don’t want all those extra calories in the house, so I decided to make something less fattening.

But before you can make a cake you need to shop for the ingredients.  It’s difficult to find the correct ingredients here.  I have been told that they don’t sell self raising flour in Japan.  This can be made from plain flour and baking soda but it adds an extra mixing and sieving phase when trying to get the baking soda evenly mixed through the flour.  I think I found the right type of sugar, but if nothing else it was the right colour.  Good fruit though is easy to buy, if a bit expensive.

After sieving and mixing the salt, flour, baking soda, and cinnamon I had to prepare the fruit.  I don’t appear to be very good at grating things.  The carrot was too hard and seemed to take forever, the apple was too mushy and I nearly put my hand through the grater.  The orange peel was the only thing that seemed to grate in the way I was expecting. The raisins were no problem at all as all I needed to do was weigh them.  The sugar needed mixed with oil and orange juice, which should have been easy, but I managed to squirt orange juice all over myself and the floor.

The cake didn’t look great before I put it in the oven, probably something to do with the carrots and raisins, but it did smell amazing.  Now that it’s out of the oven it looks fine.

Carrot, Apple, and Raisin Cake

Carrot, Apple, and Raisin Cake

Actually it tastes fine too.  Not sure I would describe the process as fun but I would make this again.