Morning Adventure

When you are hurtling towards a tree on the beach it’s hard to remember the instructions you were given just 20 minutes earlier.  I needed to stand straight and the machine would stop.  But instead I wanted to pull on the handlebars, effectively making the thing jump backwards.  (No matter what Marty tells you I did not hit that tree.  I stopped right at the tree, just before I hit it.)

Marty managed to talk me into riding a Segway.  I wasn’t convinced that I wanted to try this, but he was really keen.  Before we were allowed on we had to watch a safety video.  Seeing all the different ways that you could fall off and injure yourself wasn’t exactly inspiring but by that stage I was already committed.

Getting on the Segway wasn’t overly difficult, but once I was on it I could feel it trying to get away from me.  Every time I moved it responded.  Just the other night I saw part of one of the early Harry Potter movies.  Harry was learning how to ride a broomstick, and you could see the sticks hopping about eager to fly.  Well, the Segway felt like it was eager to be off on the island tour.  It’s built to respond to your movements but it still felt strange.  And I wasn’t overly happy when it started to move backwards.

It was fun though, and it responded very much like skis do, well apart from the ability to go backwards.  To stop all you have to do is stand up straight.  Sounds incredibly easy and it works as long as your body is relaxed.  When you are in a flap the Segway tends to get confused.

I like to take new things slowly and was perfectly happy riding the Segway along the roads and paths.  I wasn’t so good at the bumpy surface of the grass and I felt completely out of control when I got to the beach.  Turns out that not only don’t I like the feel of sand under my feet, but I’m not fussed on how bumpy it feels under a Segway.

Marty and Karen on Segways

Segway Fun

Happy Birthday!

I love the part of the year when it’s obvious that Marty is older than me.

Marty Birthday

Birthday Cake

7 Responses to “Happy Birthday!”

  1. Tony Says:

    That’s not Marty!

  2. Norwin! Says:

    And according to the cake, whoever that imposter is, they’re only 1 year old.

  3. karen Says:

    Norwin, the cake was small. They would never have managed to get his real age on that in candles 🙂

    And, Tony that so is Marty. The picture looks just like he looked this morning.

  4. Andrew Gallagher Says:

    Beardless Marty is just … wrong.

  5. christine bailie Says:

    Marty looks great! Not a day over 30…

  6. karen Says:

    Andrew, it’s the first time in maybe 15 years that he shaved. I was curious, but I prefer the beard and thankfully it does grow back. I hope that your hair has done the same, because although I understand why you removed your hair, I do like your head with hair on it 🙂

  7. Andrew Gallagher Says:

    Not only has my hair grown back, but so has my beard. I’m now more beardy than Marty, which is a first. But the beard’s coming off again immediately after curtain down on Saturday 12th March…

Here Comes The Rain, Again...

I’m sitting in the dark.  My hotel room doesn’t have windows, the electricity has gone off, and there is a  storm raging outside. The phone lines are back up so I image that the electricity will follow soon.

I didn’t notice that the hotel room had no windows until we turned off all the lights on the first night.  At first I thought that my eyes were not adjusting well to the darkness, but it really was pitch black inside.  We had to find a light to keep on through the night as we were likely to get tangled up in the mosquito net if we tried to get out of bed.

Having no windows can make it sound grim but this room is beautiful.

Hotel Bedroom

We also have our own front porch with a day bed, a balcony, and a private back garden complete with plunge pool.  They don’t let any light in though as they are hidden behind solid wood doors.  I imagine that the lack of windows helps keep the building cool, which is a good thing at the minute as the air conditioner is off.

The rain is amazing.  It’s been raining for hours and it’s still so heavy that it would take only seconds to soak you right through. For now I’m going to continue sitting in the dark.

Stormy Day

Husband Repellent

“What is that horrible smell?”, Marty asked as I was liberally spraying myself in the bathroom. I like things, including myself, to smell nice so he’s used to me wearing perfumes.   But today I reek of insect repellent. Unfortunately, this appears to repel Marty more than the insects.

I have my legs covered up when I venture outside so I assume that I’m being bitten in the bedroom, which is nowhere near as much fun as that statement might sound. The large four-poster bed is covered in a mosquito net and I did feel safe in it until earlier today.  It wasn’t a mosquito that bit me though, but a large ant.  The unexpected sharp nip made me yell, unlike mosquito bites that are painless at the time and then grow into itchy red bumps.

And talking of yelling, I frightened Marty when we got back to our room tonight.  I switched on the light and saw a huge insect scurry down the wall.  I made a girly screeching noise until I realised that the large insect was actually a small lizard.  So now I need to check my clothes and shoes for lizards as well as insects.  Of course Marty is thrilled and wants to adopt the lizard. I wonder if he is still going to want to keep me if I keep spraying myself with nasty smelly oils?

2 Responses to “Husband Repellent”

  1. Norwin! Says:

    You seem to be encountering more wildlife than I did. But then again, my hotel was right in the middle of the city, with no garden. As for the Marty repellent, I’m sure that will turn out to be useful some day 😉

  2. karen Says:

    We’ve moved to the city, and there are fewer insects. We have a view of the huge fountain from our bedroom!

    You probably won’t need any Marty repellent in March, but as you say, it could come in handy 🙂

In Singapore

For some reason my suitcase was freezing when I collected it. When I got outside it quickly became covered in condensation. And it wasn’t long until I was also dripping with water. Singapore is not as hot as I feared but it is very humid.

Welcome Gift

2 Responses to “In Singapore”

  1. Andrew Gallagher Says:

    It’s not that mysterious – spending a few hours in an unheated cargo hold at 33,000 ft is a pretty efficient refrigeration method.

  2. karen Says:

    I realise that but this is the first time I’m ever noticed that my case was so cold. Even the taxi driver commented on it, and made jokes about us bringing our own fridge with us.

    Maybe we just picked the case up faster than usual, so it didn’t have time to warm up.

Postal Delays

In December I ordered a new bikini for the holiday I’m going on tomorrow.  Unfortunately, because of the weather in Europe, the post has been delayed.  I wear an unusual size and wasn’t able to find anywhere in Tokyo to buy something.  I’m not really into beaches but I did spend some time on one during the summer of 2005.  Today I spent an hour or so hunting down the bikini I wore then.  It’s not very nice.  It’s a pale pink colour that doesn’t suit me but it’s better than no bikini.  It also isn’t a good fit, but with a bit of work I should be able to alter the strap.  I had also ordered a couple of new blouses to wear but they have also been delayed.

If I’m lucky when I get back from my holiday my new clothes and bikini will be waiting for me in one of the parcel boxes in the apartment.  But the way things are going I won’t be surprised if they arrive 5 minutes after I leave, need to be signed for, and are shipped back to Europe before I get home.

I’m also trying to find out what happened with some of the Christmas presents I sent.  I’m particularly annoyed at the box that has sat for 20 days with CityLink.  Instead of trying to deliver my parcel they have now decided to send it back to Amazon.  I’m going to try to be less grumpy, but I think I’ve been spoilt by the amazing postal service in Japan.

One Response to “Postal Delays”

  1. Shmuel Fomberg Says:

    I have experienced it too: I sent some documents (using EMS express) from Israel to Japan in December 22, and it arrived at January 5.
    It should have arrived four days after I sent them. crazy.

Holiday Reading

I’m going on holiday on Tuesday.  Last year Marty bought me a Kindle.  I love books but I didn’t want an electronic book reader.  I had looked at these before and thought the page refresh rate was too slow for the speed at which I read fiction.  But the Kindle has improved and I’m in love.  It’s a magic device that can hold up to 3,500 books that fits into my handbag.

The last time I went on holiday I had 12 books in my suitcase and 2 in my handbag.  This time I’m going to put my Kindle in my handbag and a couple of books in the suitcase.  I’ll also have to carry the charger for the Kindle.  I know that the battery life should last but I don’t want to risk running out of books because I’ve run out of power.

I haven’t completely sorted out my book list yet, but I’m planning on reading the following books:

3 Responses to “Holiday Reading”

  1. Mark Fowler Says:

    If you’re planning to read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, you might want also stock up on the two sequels too.

  2. karen Says:

    I’ll maybe do that. I keep getting told that the books are excellent.

  3. Tony Says:

    You may find the New Yorker review of them interesting:

Dental Visit

I was a bit worried about going to the dentist this morning.  I was only going for my six-monthly check-up and clean but I was concerned that they are going to hurt me with a sharp pointy drill thing. The dentist surgery is beautiful and they do their best to make you feel comfortable, going as far as putting a blanket over my legs when I was lying on the chair.  If it wasn’t for the strange cleaning implements it would feel more like a spa than a dental surgery.

The cleaning wasn’t as gentle as promised, as the pointy thing slipped and hit my gum at some point, but it wasn’t terrible.  It all sounds worse than it feels.

2 Responses to “Dental Visit”

  1. Andrew Noble Says:

    Not a fan of dentists myself – although I did take it to extremes – Had my first visit this year for 23+ years.

    visit resulted in 7 fillings and a clean but it wasn’t quite as bad as I remembered – my new dentist wasn’t a sadist like the last one.

    Every time I think of dentists I tend to be reminded of Steve Martin in the 80’s remake of Little shop of horrors!

  2. karen Says:

    Oh my that’s a long time to not have been to a dentist!

    I wore braces as a child and had an operation to remove 4 teeth as my mouth was too small. This meant going to the dentists every two months for nearly 3 years – no fun at all. After that I didn’t go to the dentist for quite some time. But I’m trying to be good now and go every 6 months. I only have one filling and want to keep it that way.

Chocolate Bad, Exercise Good

Yesterday I found a box of revels that I had bought when I was in Belfast.  A yummy box of chocolate goodness that I managed to scoff in under 10 minutes.  This caused me a problem. There were 480 calories in that box, 480 calories that I really didn’t need to eat yesterday.

During the winter my thyroid disease gets worse.  I can tell this by the way I feel, but just in case I am not convinced my last hospital visit provided me with a print-out of my blood tests clearly showing the problem.  A side effect of the condition is weight gain.  I have been told that this can be controlled with a low calorie diet and exercise.  Funny enough a box of revels doesn’t exactly fit into a low calorie diet.

There are times when I let things slip, but that’s usually because I’m on holiday or I am travelling.  Yesterday was a normal day in a normal week.  This morning as penance I fitted in an extra gym visit.   It didn’t start well.  I think I was still half-asleep and maybe sprayed the deodorant on my face instead of under my arms as I started to sneeze violently.  Or maybe I was just allergic to the concept of going to the gym.  Once I got over my sneezing fit I dragged myself out and did manage to use the cross trainer for an hour.  I’m really glad that there are more benefits to exercise than burning calories.  The thought that I have to sweat for an hour just to counteract the effects of a few minutes of eating is fairly horrible.  But maybe not horrible enough to make me give up chocolate.

One Response to “Chocolate Bad, Exercise Good”

  1. Norwin! Says:

    Did you even eat the gross coffee ones? Revels are like Russian Roulette!

New Year, New Exercise

I decided to give push-ups another go.  I tried this last year but I find them nearly impossible to do.  This year I’m going to start by doing push-ups on my knees.  I’ve always felt that these weren’t good enough but I think that doing this has to be better than doing no push-ups at all.  I can do about 20 of these in one set, unlike the 1 I can manage of the proper form push-ups.

Every month or so I buy a new exercise DVD.  This month I bought Pussycat Dolls Workout.  I tried this yesterday for the first time and I’m not sure what I make of it.  I suppose it is fun, but there is a really strange section in the middle the requires the use of a feather boa.  I can’t imagine exercising in underwear, high heels, and a boa.  So instead I wore my gym wear and used a wooly scarf – not quite “pussycat”.  It’s not a fantastic workout but it’s a fun one and there are a couple of dance moves that I wouldn’t mind mastering.

January won’t be a good month for exercise as I’m going to be on holiday for most it.  Sure, I’ll try to swim and go to the gym whilst I’m away, but I won’t be surprised if I give that up for lounging around and reading books.

One Response to “New Year, New Exercise”

  1. Norwin! Says:

    Reading books is exercise for the brain!!


I ate too much chocolate over the holidays and I’m trying to find other sweet things to eat instead.  I just wish that fruit wasn’t so expensive in Tokyo.  I bought seven mandarin oranges and they cost me 630 円, that’s 76 pence (GBP) or $1.18 (USD) per orange.  I also bought strawberries.  They cost me 45 pence (70 cents) per strawberry.  They are expensive but at least they taste amazing.

The cost of the mandarin oranges surprises me as they are seasonal.  Strawberries are always expensive in Japan and the ones I bought were not the most expensive ones in the shop.  They were actually selling strawberries that cost £1.72 ($2.68) per strawberry!  They were perfect looking, but they are meant to be bought as a gift and not just for normal eating.

Japanese Gift Strawberries

2 Responses to “Fruit”

  1. Simon Cozens Says:

    Are you buying from supermarkets or from farmers’ markets? Supermarket fruit is ridiculous in Japan, but you can generally find it at a more reasonable price direct from farmers. I think there’s a market in Ueno somewhere.

  2. karen Says:

    I buy most of my food from supermarkets. Grocery shopping can be annoying enough without having to take a train. I suppose I could always cycle to Ueno and try shopping that way.

    My local supermarket isn’t bad for most things but I have noticed recently that fruit is much too expensive.


I rarely have nightmares but last night I woke screaming twice.  I was trapped, and the dark was consuming me.  And although Marty tried to calm me down I couldn’t tell if I was awake or dreaming.  I feared that I was still trapped in the dream.

I can still remember a nightmare I had when I was a child.  I dreamt that apes, the ones from “Planet of the Apes”,  had taken over Silverstream Road.  As an adult I find the idea quite amusing, but I was terrified during that dream.  The apes themselves didn’t scare me, it was the concept that the nightmare world is the very place you had thought was safe.  Silverstream Road was the place where my granny lived, somewhere I always felt safe.

Last night I watched “Inception”, a movie that blurs the lines between dreams and reality.  I have often wondered how we tell the difference between what is real and what is merely a dream.

Once upon a time, I, Chuang Chou, dreamt I was a butterfly, fluttering hither and thither, to all intents and purposes a butterfly. I was conscious only of my happiness as a butterfly, unaware that I was Chou. Soon I awaked, and there I was, veritably myself again. Now I do not know whether I was then a man dreaming I was a butterfly, or whether I am now a butterfly, dreaming I am a man.


Christmas Again

Lots of my friends and family live in the UK.  The weather there has been terrible this winter and it’s affected the post.  This has extended my Christmas, the gift receiving part of it anyway.  I had three presents arrive in the past week and Christmas cards have continued to arrive.

This morning I got a large box from M & S.  Last week I used some of the money I had been given for Christmas to buy myself some things in the M & S sale.  I love that they now ship to Japan and that I can indulge in January sales without having to leave my living room.  I had forgotten that I had bought a big fluffy dressing gown.  I was so excited when I pulled this out of the box.  It’s much too big for me, but that was a deliberate choice as I wanted something that I could wrap myself up in.  Marty tells me I feel like a build-a-bear and really I probably look like one as well, though maybe not as cute as a real one.  This outfit certainly isn’t flattering but it feels amazing.

Perl 2010

I have been thinking about 2010 and the different things that happened in the Perl community.  I’m not a good writer, nor do I have a lot of time to write, so I’m going to create a list:  a list of the things in the Perl world that I thought were great in 2010.  The following are in the order that they came out of my brain:

1. The release of Perl 5.12

Jesse Vincent and the release managers gave us not only a new stable version of Perl but also a new time-based release cycle for future versions of Perl, so we will have Perl 5.14 to look forward to this year.

2. The release of Rakudo Star

Giving me hope for the future of Perl 6.

3. Dave Mitchell’s Perl 5 Bug Fixing Grant

Dave has been doing amazing work with this grant having spent just over 500 hours in 2010 to close 127 bugs.  I’m delighted that this grant has been extended and that Dave can continue this work into 2011.

4. GSoC and Google Code-In

Jonathan Leto and his team did a great job of getting The Perl Foundation and The Parrot Foundation involved in Google Summer of Code and the new Google Code-In.

5. Matt Trout’s State of the Velicoraptor Talk at YAPC

I really liked hearing Matt give this uplifting talk at YAPC::EU and YAPC::NA.  I enjoyed hearing about all the positive things that were happening in the Perl world and think that all our conferences need a positive keynote like this one.

6. CPAN Testers

I read just the other day that CPAN Testers has just passed 10 million test reports!

7. Events Group

A group of volunteers decided to set-up Perl booths at a number of non-Perl conferences including FOSDEM and CeBIT.

8. Modernisation of Perl Web Sites

This year many of the major Perl sites had a face lift, including,, and

9. Send-A-Newbie program

The Enlightened Perl Organisation took over the send-a-newbie program that provides financial support to first time attendees of YAPC::EU.

10. Miyagawa

I know, it might seem like a strange thing to write, but when I think of Perl I think of people.  And I’m always astounded by the amount of work that Miyagawa does and I’m certainly looking forward to what will come out of his brain in 2011.

2010 was a great year for Perl, let’s hope that 2011 is just as excellent!

One Response to “Perl 2010”

  1. What I would love to see in 2011 for Perl « *n*x Says:

    […] The Modern Perl wave was not a hype and it is still going strong. Everyone seems to really agree on this. Eweek does even put Perl on number 6 on the group of languages like Java, C, […]