Archive for August, 2010

YAPC::Asia Lightening Talk Submitted

Monday, August 30th, 2010

I submitted my 10 Things To Do With A Conference T-shirt talk to YAPC::Asia.  I could give this talk in English, but I’ve been in Japan for over three years now and I think it’s time to attempt a Japanese talk.  There is no way that I am ready to give a full-length talk in Japanese but I should be able to manage 5 minutes.

I have written the talk description in Japanese, which I will include in this post, and today I started translating the talk.  There is no way that I can ad lib in Japanese so this is going to be my most prepared talk I have given since I stopped doing public speaking competitions!



Chocolate Fudge Cake

Saturday, August 28th, 2010

I had friends over for dinner tonight and I decided to make the first chocolate cake I’ve made since moving to Japan.  I have been making fruit cakes that involve a lot of preparation and thankfully the chocolate cake was much quicker to make.  One of my friends was concerned with my obsession for removing fat from cakes but this is one cake that really needs the butter.  It was moist, rich, and incredibly yummy.  It’s not something I would make all the time but it makes a great special occasion cake.

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Chocolate Fudge Cake

Cleaning Out My Closet

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

When I moved to Japan I put a lot of my clothes into vacuum packed bags.  Today I decided to go through the ones that aren’t open yet as I need to find some storage space.  My bedroom is full of clothes that I like, but don’t fit.  And since I managed to put on the wrong jeans today, and they nearly slid off as I was taking a parcel from the postman, I need to sort this out.

I’ve also decided that if I can store something in a plastic bag for nearly four years that maybe I don’t need it, or won’t want to wear it again.

I had three large bags of clothes to go through and it took me a few hours as it’s just too hot.  It’s too hot to carry arm loads of clothes and much too hot to actually try the clothes on.  But in the end I got through them.  I have some things that I will keep that don’t get worn often, like evening dresses, and I also have my wedding dress and some clothes that have sentimental value.  The rest of it appears to be mainly winter clothes that do actually fit, but I’m not sure how many I should keep.  I threw out a whole bag of ugly as really I don’t need to keep ugly clothes in my closet.  I had a suit that appeared to be in RUC green.  It’s a truly horrible muddy green colour and the suit is now in the bin. (For those people who didn’t grow up in Northern Ireland, RUC stands for Royal Ulster Constabulary, and used to be the name for the police force.)

I also had some clothes that I have never worn.  I had two pairs of three quarter length trousers that looked ridiculous.  I think it’s because they are actually too long, and end up looking like trousers that are a bit too short.  They make my legs look huge as they accentuate the large muscle at the back of my calf.  I could alter them but I don’t like short trousers and they would have made ugly wide shorts.    I have no idea what I was thinking when I bought these, but I was probably trying to find something that could be described as summer clothing.

Actually after spending the afternoon in my closet I think I hate clothes.

Cake Baking

Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

I bought a copy of Mary Berry’s Baking Bible at the weekend and today I made the almond and chocolate chip cake.  It was incredibly easy to make, as all the ingredients are put in one bowl and mixed together, and it’s lovely.  Maybe a bit too lovely as I’m craving a second slice.

Learning to make new desserts is one of the objectives on my 101 list, but I can’t make too many cakes as that would be a disaster for my diet.  I also want my cakes to have less fat than the one I just made so the next time I make it I’m going to replace the butter with mashed bananas.

Back To The Gym

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

It’s been a while since I was at the gym.  Maybe longer than I thought as they have managed to remodel the reception area since I was last there.  Marty was with me so we spent most of the time working with weights.  He managed to talk me into doing some bench presses but I really don’t enjoy those.  I feel silly lying on my back and worried that I’ll drop the bar on my chest.  Now I’ve got aches in places that I didn’t know had muscles.

YAPC::Asia 2010

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

The tickets for this year’s YAPC::Asia have just gone on sale.  The conference will held in Tokyo on the 15th and 16th of October with pre-conference events on the 14th.  The theme is “Welcome Perl”, and the guests speakers are Larry Wall, Jesse Vincent, and Miyagawa Tatsuhiko.

Most of the Perl grassroots conferences use the ACT system for running their events, but this year YAPC::Asia has decided not to use it.  I don’t know why they made this decision but I am missing the functionality.  I like seeing who else has registered for a conference and even though I don’t think that the ACT wiki is great, it’s certainly better than no wiki.

One of the reasons I’m writing this post it to let a friend know when the conference is running, as he hadn’t been able to work that out from the web-site.  The information is there but you have to scroll down to find it, when you expect the dates to be somewhere near the top of the page.

For the past couple of years YAPC::Asia has been the most attended YAPC and it could sell out, so I know that it’s important to buy tickets as soon as possible.  The ticket for both days costs only 4,000 円 ($47, £30), but speakers don’t have to pay and I don’t know if I will submit a talk or not.  Last night I began to submit a lightning talk but I had problems with translation and decided to give myself a bit more time to to think about it.  The concept of speaking in Japanese fills me with dread, but I’m not sure it’s anymore dread than I usually feel at the thought of speaking, so I may well give it a go.

Pear Pudding and Flapjacks

Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Now that I’m back home I’ve started baking again.  I wanted to make an apple sponge pudding but this is Japanese pear season and apples are hard to find.  I actually prefer pears to apples but I’m not really sure how to cook them.  I still struggle with the fact that fruit and vegetables in Tokyo are seasonal.  I know that this a good thing and that seasonal fruit has more nutrients but it causes problems when I want to bake.

I used Jamie Oliver’s Apple Sponge Pudding recipe only with pears.  I wasn’t overly pleased with the pudding.  The pears were fine, though they take longer to stew than apples.  But the sponge wasn’t spongy.  It reminded me of a pancake more than a sponge.  So, it was certainly good enough to eat but not what I wanted.  What I really wanted was the sponge that my friend made for me when I was in Holland (so maybe I should have taken down the recipe whilst he was baking.) Looks like I’m going to have to find some other recipes and try this again.

Tonight Marty made flapjacks.  They aren’t bad but they are too sweet.  Japanese desserts are never that sweet and we have become accustomed to eating things with less sugar in them.  The flapjacks do have potential.  I’m going to make them again but I’m going to replace the butter with a fruit puree, and remove nearly all the sugar.  I may add some honey for sweetness, but I’ll know better about that when I can actually taste the mixture.

YAPC::Europe – Day 3

Thursday, August 19th, 2010

By the time I finally got to Pisa the conference was well under way.  At the start of any conference it usually takes me a while to work out where everything is, as I have absolutely no sense of direction, but since I was staying at the conference venue getting around was incredibly easy.  Just as well really as I didn’t want to waste any time getting lost.

I don’t get to see many talks at a YAPC as it’s a great opportunity for me to work on projects with people in person.  I usually manage to see a couple of talks  a day and I was disappointed that I had missed some of the talks on previous days.  These were talks that I had also missed at YAPC::NA with the thought that I would get to see them in Pisa.  I also didn’t get to spend enough time working with other people.  I had a whole list of things I wanted to discuss in my notebook and I maybe touched on half on of them.

I managed to see José Castro’s talk on how he runs jobs interviews.  It was an interesting mix of technical questions and trying to work out how the person being interviewed will react when they are faced with a problem they can’t easily solve.  Mind you I hope he wasn’t hoping to recruit at the conference as he probably scared off any potential employees with the amount of glee he showed at the thought of how difficult the whole process was!

I also got to see most of Matt Trout’s “State of the Velociraptor” talk.  I had seen this before at YAPC::NA and it was an excellent upbeat keynote.  It would have been a great way to end the conference, as the talk was a celebration of the good things in Perl, but in Europe the conference finishes with lightning talks and the auction.

I attended the lightning talks, but since I was speaking I found it hard to focus on the talks that went before mine.  I gave a talk called “10 Things to do with a Conference T-Shirt“, which involved making something new out of 10 t-shirts.  It was a five minute talk that required more than 20 hours of preparation but it was worth it.  I’m going to find it difficult coming up with something equally creative for next year.  (I have been asked to put up the pictures of the modified t-shirts but I’m probably going to give this talk at YAPC::Asia, so I want to wait until after that conference.)

The conference finished with the auction.  It was much too long, which tends to happen every year, but I did like the new format.  Usually we have one auctioneer but this year the auction was carried out by three teams.  It was planned to be much faster than usual, as there were only 12 lots, but as the teams were competing against each other to raise money some of the lots did take a long time.

The teams were from the U.K., U.S.A, and Europe.  I loved how the different cultures were evident in the styles used to sell and also thought that the different accents helped keep it interesting.  All the auctioneers were good but the Daves were my favourite as Dave Cross has one of those accents I could listen to all day and Dave Rolsky really can sell.

I enjoyed the conference and was sorry that I had seen so little of it.  Next year I’m going to have to plan to arrive days before the event to allow enough time to cope with travel delays, as I seem to be plagued by these no matter where I go.


Monday, August 16th, 2010

I felt cold quite often while in Holland last week.  Even when I was outside walking in the sun.  But then it was around 20 degrees C (68 F) which is cooler than I keep my air conditioner at home during the summer.  I’m not exactly used to Japanese weather, but I am better able to cope with hot weather.  Today, in Tokyo, the heat index is 42 C (107 F).  The actual temperature is 35 C (95 F) but the heat index explains why attempting to hang out the laundry makes me feel as if I’ve been exercising for an hour.

I’m not sure what temperature I prefer but I think that somewhere around 25 C (77 F) feels good.

Messy Apartment

Monday, August 16th, 2010

I always feel a bit strange on my first day back home.  But this morning I was more confused than usual.  My days had all been planned out since the middle of June until now.  I still have loads of things I need to do but I have no flights planned, and no conferences and visitors until October.  And flights, conferences, visitors, and travel, have filled my days for months.

I thought about the books I could read, or the cooking I could do until I took a look around the apartment.  It’s a mess.  Just before I left for Europe I had two teenage girls staying with me.  Their room looks like they just rolled out of bed, left all their mess scattered around, and scarily like they are planning on arriving back at any minute.  Why else would I still have some of their clothes, underwear, shoes, and toiletries?  To say nothing of the rubbish they managed to gather over a five week period.

The bathroom looks like someone tried to coat it in either foundation or mascara.  There are fake nails and make-up wipes liberally scattered around the room.  Marty’s laundry basket is overflowing in the corner surrounded by dirty towels.  So far this morning I have counted at least 7 loads of laundry that need done.

The kitchen hasn’t been cleaned since I left and the living area is so messy that it’s hard to walk across the room without tripping on something.  It’s difficult to believe what a couple of weeks of neglect will do to the floors. But even I, who has seen this before when I left Marty here on his own, wasn’t expecting the remains of the dead flowers underfoot.

Marty nicknamed the girls “Weapons of Mess Destruction” whilst they were here as nothing had quite prepared us for the amount of mess that can be made by two teenage girls and a large make-up kit.  They were here for five weeks and I can’t help but wonder if it’s going to take me at least that to get this place looking as I would like.