Enlightened Perl Organisation

I have just renewed my membership of the Enlightened Perl Organisation (EPO). The ordinary membership fee is £100.  The EPO is responsible for community initiatives such as Send a Newbie and has provided financial support to a number of projects including CPAN Testers and the QA Hackathon.  As a member I don’t have to do anything other than vote occasionally on how money should be spent.  It’s a lot less work than my involvement with other Perl organisations, and I do believe that all the projects it supports are worthwhile.


Spring has Sprung

Trees are blooming all over the city.  The cherry blossom viewing season is a short one and I really do want to go out and take pictures before the flowers fall.  I had plans to do this yesterday, but it was raining.  I don’t have the equipment to take pictures in the rain so I stayed indoors hoping that the weather would improve.  Today it looks much improved and I set out this morning with great plans to walk to the Sky Tree.  But I made a mistake.  I only checked the weather on one weather site.  This has happened to me a couple of times this year.  I check the weather, dress accordingly, only to find the the place I checked has managed to be out by about 10 C.  Today I dressed for weather of 14 C only to walk into cold winds and weather around 7 C.  Cherry blossoms are beautiful but it was hard to think past the cold.  I should have come home and got changed right away, but I optimistically thought that I would warm up.  I did take some pictures, and I will try again later on in the week.

The city is also full of pollen.  I feel like I have a mild cold when I go outside, and I have had a few problems with coughing.  I have not yet felt the need to wear masks like so many people in the city.  I have also not used the pollen removing room at the entrance to this building.  It’s a small room with pipes that blow air at you in order to remove the pollen from your hair and clothes.  I really should go in at least once, just to try it out, but it seems so odd to me.

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms


End of Term

I’ve finished my intensive Japanese course, passed all my exams, and I’m now getting ready to go on holiday.  I have quite a few things that I will be working on this week, but I’ll be away for two weeks around my wedding anniversary and I won’t really have a reliable internet connection then.

Today was a beautiful day for walking so we walked for hours braving the busy temples and shrines to see the cherry blossoms.  I’m hoping to get time to go and take some more pictures in the upcoming week with my camera and not just my iPhone.

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms in a Park near the Sumida River

2 Responses to “End of Term”

  1. Alan in Belfast Says:

    Congrats on passing *all* your exams. That’s brilliant news.

  2. karen Says:

    Thanks! I feel odd being back at school. I still get stressed about exams.

Spring Equinox Day Breakfast

Breakfast on a holiday should be more exciting than my usual yoghurt and fruit and I wanted to come up with a something to tempt Marty out of bed.  In the past I would have gone out and bought fresh croissants, but I can no longer eat these or anything that they sell in our local bakery.  It’s not easy to make a traditional Northern Irish breakfast here but I decided that I could at least make potato farls.

When I was last back in Northern Ireland I was disappointed that I couldn’t buy gluten-free potato farls.  I thought it would be very easy to do as these are mostly made of potato, with salt, butter, and some flour to bind it together.  Well, at least that’s what they used to be.  Some commercial potato farls are now made with only about 20% potato.   I can’t see any reason why the flour needs to have gluten in it and this morning I made them using Dove Farm’s gluten-free mix of plain flour.  The texture is different than the commercial ones, as mine are mostly made of potato, but they were yummy.

Homemade Potato Farls

Homemade Potato Farls


Exam Time

I’m nearing the end of my six month long intensive Japanese course.  I have four days left and they mostly consist of exams and preparation for the 5 minute talk I’m expected to give next Friday.  I have been asked by a few people if I think my Japanese is improving.  I find it hard to tell.  I have weekly tests and homeworks, which I get good marks in, but I still feel clueless on most days.

I think part of the problem comes from living in Japan and being constantly shown how much I don’t understand.  When I was learning other subjects I didn’t have any idea of the scope of the problem.  I thought I was good at science when I was 11 years old.  And I was, I was good for an 11 year old who only knew about the things my teacher had taught me.  I didn’t spend my days being shown science journals I couldn’t read or having to listen to people speak about advanced scientific concepts.  I had no idea how vast the subject of science was but I felt good about science and thought it was something that I would be able to continue to study.  I wonder if I would have decided to study science in university if I had been constantly bombarded by things I couldn’t understand?

In Japan every day I hear conversations I don’t understand and see media that I can’t read.  This doesn’t mean that I will give up but I do feel like there is a giant mountain in front of me that I will never be able to climb.



Afternoon Test Walk

Today Marty and I decided that we would walk along one of the emergency evacuation routes out of the city.  We planned to walk for around 12 kilometers as it was supposed to be a beautiful spring day with temperatures around 24º C (75º F).   The walk started well though the route wasn’t overly exciting.  Normally we avoid main roads when walking around the city but during a disaster it seems that walking along large main roads is advisable.  It’s also the place where most of the support stations can be found.  I have never looked for these before but restaurants and convenience stores that are going to serve as support stations during a disaster have a sign on their door:

Support Station Symbol

After we had been walking for about forty minutes the weather started to change.  We could see odd looking clouds in the distance and the wind picked up.  We ended up walking into a yellow dust storm.  I had never seen one before and I don’t want to see another one.   The temperature dropped by about 10º C and we spent the next hour or so eating dust and trying to prevent our eyes from streaming.  Our pleasant spring stroll became a battle against the elements and we did not manage to walk the 12km. We gave up at about 8km and decided to get the train back home.

Once we got off the train it started to rain.  We were both filthy when we got home.  Sunscreen and dust don’t seem to be a good combination and I had black streaks running down  my face.  I think we are going to spend the evening hiding inside the apartment.