Khaos

In Orlando

I’ve been in Orlando for a couple of weeks now.  Given the horrific massacre at the Pulse nightclub, it’s not been an easy time to be on holiday.  Of course, it shouldn’t be easy to forget the events and there are reminders everywhere.  The staff in the hotel are wearing Orlando United t-shirts, everywhere I go there are signs and messages about the tragedy, and this morning I was asked to take a picture of a couple going to one of the funerals.

It’s a time for sorrow.

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June 18th, 2016
. . .

Overheating

After complaining about how cold I am inside in overly air conditioned hotels in America, I’m now struggling with the heat outside.  I don’t think I’ll ever get used to being in warm summer climates.  I have lived in Japan for nearly 10 years and I still find the summer heat there unbearable.  Yesterday I spent most of the day outside wearing long flowing clothes and a large hat to try to protect my skin from the sun.  I still had to wear sunblock and having it melt on my face and neck feels disgusting.  I wonder if my friends would mind if I just wanted to go out once the sun had set?

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June 9th, 2016
. . .

Blogging

Gabor wrote an interesting post on why he blogs.  I blog in a number of different places with a different goal in mind.  This is my personal blog, and the biggest reader is probably myself.  I have been blogging here for nearly 14 years, and I periodically re-read my posts as I want to be reminded of the things that I did in the past.  I have found it to be an excellent way to journal the aspects of my life that I’m willing to make public.  Once I realised that I did post for myself I decided that each post didn’t need to be something that made a meaningful statement.  The thought of having to write meaningful things was stopping me from writing any things as I’m rather critical when it comes to my own writing.  I do write about some of the projects I’m involved with, but since those are tagged, people who are interested in those can ignore my personal posts.

At times I post simply to let my friends and family know that I’m still fine and getting on with my life.  Living so far away from many of the people I know isn’t easy, and it’s difficult to stay in touch.  I know that writing a blog post is a poor substitute for personal communication, but it’s better than no communication.  I wish that more of my friends and acquaintances with blogs posted more frequently.  I am aware that many of them don’t write because they feel they have nothing to say, but I don’t need them to be profound.

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June 3rd, 2016
. . .

Cold in Summer

I have goosebumps on my arms.  I have tried switching off the air conditioning but it’s tenacious and refuses to obey my instructions.  When I arrived at my hotel last night the air conditioner was set at 67 F (19.4 C).  It felt like a fridge in the room after the warm air outside  I had already spent a large part of my day on a plane being really cold and would have liked to be able to sit in my hotel room without getting into the bed for extra warmth.

Recently I spent quite a few evenings rehearsing in community halls in Japan.  It wasn’t easy, as I became so hot dancing, but they only use air conditioners once the temperature in the room gets above 28 C (82.4 F), and that only happened on a couple of occasions.  There is a “Cool Biz” campaign in Japan that runs from May to October to encourage businesses to set their air conditioners at 28 C (82.4 F) to limit the use of electricity.  This means that men have stopped wearing ties to work in the summer and that cooler clothes are used.  But I’m in America where the people around me are sitting in chilled rooms wearing t-shirts and shorts – something the Japanese wouldn’t really consider for work.  The are also carrying cardigans and jackets, because it’s cold inside.  The last time I went to the cinema in America, during the summer, I took a blanket!  It’s ridiculous.

I’m going to be in America for quite a few weeks so I’m going to have to come up with a way to keep warm while indoors.

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June 2nd, 2016
. . .

YAPC::NA 2016, Orlando

I’m on my way to America.  I have planned a few things to do, but my main motivator for going is to attend YAPC::NA.  The conference is running from the 19th to the 24th June in Orlando.  As I’m involved in the organisation of the conference I may not get to hear a lot of the talks.  But I am going to try to hear Ricardo Signes speak on The Ongoing Disaster that is Perl 5. I’m also looking forward to hearing Damian Conway’s keynote and I plan to attend his tutorial on Presentation Aikido.

I really liked that the conference started a New to Perl program this year. This was inspired by the Send-A-Newbie program and offered a number of low-cost ($50) scholarships to the conference covering registration, accommodation, and the Zero to Perl Tutorial.  There is also going to be a beginners’ track again, which was popular last year.

As always I am looking forward to catching up with friends.

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June 2nd, 2016
. . .

Aircraft Food

This morning I was offered a cooked breakfast on my flight from Belfast to London.  I know aircraft food can be terrible but normally I can recognise the food.  I thought I was getting scrambled eggs but I wasn’t sure when I tasted it.  It had a very smooth texture, was a very light yellow in colour, and had no real flavour.  After reading the food label I decided not to eat it because it was only 66% egg!  The rest of it was rapeseed oil, buttermilk power, cornflower, salt, white pepper, and lactic acid.  Thankfully I have been able to buy real food at the airport.

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June 1st, 2016
. . .

Travel Delays

I have rarely been delayed when flying out of Tokyo.  But on Friday the runways of Haneda airport were closed because of an engine fire on a Korean Air flight.  Inside the airport this information was not given out.  At first we weren’t given any reason for the flight delays and then there were announcements about runway closures and air traffic control problems, but nothing specific.  I assume they think that passengers will panic if they hear about a problem on a plane.  Of course, most of the passengers knew anyway, thanks to the wonder that is the Internet.

The delays wasn’t as bad as I feared and at one point I was hopeful that I would make my connection in Frankfurt.  But once we got to Frankfurt the plane couldn’t land as that airport was closed due to a storm.  We ended up being flown to Leipzig where we refueled and waited to fly back to Frankfurt.  Once we got to Frankfurt there was the usual chaos of hundreds of people with missed flights not knowing what they were supposed to do.  The staff at the airport were not that good at giving instructions and I ended up queuing in the wrong place for a while.

I did eventually find the right place and queued for my hotel voucher and for information on when my flight was rescheduled.  It is not pleasant trying to do this after being on a flight for more than 14 hours.  But at least in Europe they sort these things out.  If I had been in America I would have been told that the airline was not responsible for the storm.  They would have rescheduled my flight, but they would not have sent me to a hotel.

By the time I got to the hotel they also had a large queue of people waiting to check-in.  It was midnight, 22 hours after I had left home, when I sat down to eat dinner.  It was a rather strange buffet meal with lots of things I couldn’t identify.  I was a little disappointed, as the airline had told me I had 30 EUR for dinner, to find out I could only use it on this buffet and couldn’t have a la carte items, room service, or even anything to drink.  I was hungry though so I had an odd schnitzel like thing and some rice – hardly anything that should cost 30 EUR.

The hotel room was lovely and I did manage to get five hours sleep before having to get ready to go back to the airport.  It is horrible wearing the clothes that you travelled in for a second day, but my suitcase was in transit. The airline paid for taxis to and from the hotel and I got to experience the speed that people drive in Germany.  I don’t mind that they drive fast, I would just like them not to use one hand to hold a mobile phone while they are doing it.

In many ways the rest of the trip was uneventful, and I was incredibly glad to arrive in Dublin on Saturday afternoon.  Though not overly thrilled that I then had to get to Belfast, but at least the bus ride through the country is beautiful.

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May 30th, 2016
. . .

Packing

I am finally starting my 2 month trip.  The packing took longer than I wanted.  It’s no fun trying to work out what clothes to put in one suitcase when the weather is going to range from 6 C (42F) to 36 C (96F).  I’m at Haneda Airport and I’m already concerned that I’m going to need to buy a coat in Belfast.  It’s 21 C (70F) in Tokyo at the minute and I’m a little cold, probably because it’s also raining and I got wet on the way to the airport.

I don’t have room for bulky clothes for the cold.  Northern Irish summer is not hot, but I decided that being cold was better than dragging a second suitcase around the world.  I may regret that.

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May 27th, 2016
. . .

The Journey Ends

It’s the morning after the last performance of Big River.  I’m in that post performance daze where it seems hard to believe that 6 months of work is over.

There were many new experiences and challenges working on this project, but the stand out thing was the people I worked with.  I was incredibly impressed by the director, stage manager, and the production team.  It made such a difference working with people who had a strong vision for the show and were competent in facilitating that.  I loved how the cast worked together.  We had a story to tell and everyone helped each other tell it.  There was a lot of love and support and a real feeling that we wanted each other to succeed and perform to the best of our ability.  It was also a joy working with the incredibly talented musicians.

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed working with costume and wardrobe.  My sewing skills are basic, but I did manage to make my own costumes and some other pieces.  I discovered that ironing costumes in the theatre before the rest of the cast arrived really helped with the anxiety I feel before performing.  Actually, all the costume work did.  Having cast members come to me because they had lost their hat or their apron gave me something to think about other than the fact that I was going to have to perform in front of an audience.  I don’t do well if I have to sit still.

Acting with an American accent was a challenge.  I have no idea if I was any good at it, but I tried.  One of my friends who came to see the show appeared stunned by my performance saying that they had no idea who that woman was on the stage, but she wasn’t me.  I’m going to take that as a compliment as I’m not an old, American, shrewish spinster.

The Opening Number

Photo of “Do Ya Wanna Go to Heaven”, by Teruaku Ito

It was the first time I was involved in dramaturgy as I wrote a short piece on the historical context of the play for the program.  I didn’t know what the word “dramaturgy” meant when I was first asked to do this, but I was happy to try and I did enjoy researching the history of the 1840s in America.

So for now I will find a place to keep all the lovely notes and mementos I received and I’ll take a break from theatre.  It may be the end of my journey down the river, but it’s much too soon to know which parts of my own journey are only beginning.

. . .

Big River

I have been busy rehearsing as part of the ensemble cast of Big River.  The musical opens on the 19th May, so not long to wait now.  The city is getting warmer and I am finding it hard dancing in layers of clothing in hot rooms.  It will be hot on stage, so I will just have to get used to it.  I am so glad that during the performance each dance only happens once, unlike rehearsal where the point is to keep doing them until they are right.

It’s been fascinating doing theatre work again as technology has changed so many things.  Now rehearsals are organised with web-based project management tools.  Nearly every cast member is carrying a device capable of recording the rehearsal.  Choreography steps are videoed so you can review them at home.  There are apps to help you run lines.  And microphones are everywhere.  I’m not completely thrilled about the microphones, as it changes vocal technique, but I love most of the other changes.  Now if we just had air conditioners that didn’t dry out the throat…

 

. . .