February is passing oddly. I’ve injured my shoulder causing the days to crawl along when I want to cook, clean, knit, answer email, or do anything that causes me pain. At other times it seems to be zooming by as I’ve been so unproductive and can’t easily work out what I’ve been doing with my time. I have read 9 books, but since only one of them was non-fiction it doesn’t feel like an overly productive way to have spent my time. I’m taking a musical theatre class so I’ve been working on “The Worst Pies in London” and “A Little Priest”. It’s been a while since I tried to sing anything this difficult, but it’s fun. I get to meet Mr. Todd at a rehearsal on Valentine’s Day so hopefully by then I’ll have learnt to sing “popping pussies into pies” with a straight face.
My shoulder is improving though or I wouldn’t be wasting typing time on this blog post.. . .
According to the Economist’s The Safe Cities Index 2015 Tokyo is the safest city in the world:
Tokyo (1) comes top in the overall Safe Cities Index 2015. The Japanese capital performs most strongly when it comes to the security of its technology assets: it tops the list in the digital security category, three points clear of Singapore in second—the widest gap at the top of any of the four categories. Tokyo also ranks in the top five for personal safety and infrastructure safety, despite suffering regular earthquakes and being home to the world’s largest urban population (38m, according to the UN).
It is a great city to live in, if a little big.. . .
I knit in the winter. It seems to start towards the end of December and by the middle of January I knit every day. Now that February has arrived I have decided to learn a new knitting technique. I used to watch my grandmother knit Aran cardigans but I had never really tried cable knitting apart from a few small samplers. As well as thinking it would be complicated, buying the wool in Japan is expensive and I didn’t want to waste money on a failed project. But I found some cheap yarn made of acrylic fibre and I practised some of the basic patterns. I’ve now started something more complicated and I love how the cables look, though I wasn’t able to take a picture that shows just how lovely the pattern is.
I bought a great book full of beautiful patterns and I’m going to see if I can work my way up to the more advanced ones. I always enjoy knitting but these patterns also come with nostalgia and the closest thing to longing for Ireland that I’ve experienced in quite some time.. . .
David Golden recently wrote about the Perl Iron Man Challenge and his goal to regularly blog about Perl. He plans to blog at least once every 10 days and, much as I would like to manage that, I’m not sure that I can. So I’m going to set myself a goal of writing about Perl, on this site, at least once a month.
So what have I being doing in the Perl world this January?
The New Year always brings a flood of email. I am guilty of contributing to this. I wake up, realise it’s January, and become horrified by all the projects I didn’t get finished last year. I tell myself that this year I will do better and start sending email to find out that status of everything I’m interested in. I also have aspirations of getting my inbox to zero, but I can’t find a way to make that work other than filing email to deal with it later. And I don’t see much point in doing that just so I can pretend to myself that I don’t have email in my inbox.
At the minute I have 72 Perl related emails that need a response. My waiting_on box was cleared out at the start of the year so I’m only waiting on 21 responses. Even writing about the email makes me think that I shouldn’t be blogging, I should be responding to those. It’s a priority problem. There is part of me that thinks that blogging is important but is it really more important than email? I find it hard to blog about Perl things because I’m so busy doing those things. Now that I’ve started though I should write about those things.
I’ve been working with the YAPC::NA organizing team on the conference that will be taking place in Salt Lake City, 8-10th June. There’s a lot being organised but I’ve been focusing on the beginner’s track, master classes, and speakers. I’ve also been working on a Perl 6 Hackathon that I’m hoping will take place during the conference. There are tasks that I work on every month – Perl 5 Core grants, trademark requests, and admin. It’s the mid-way point of the Outreach Program for Women and I’ve been following that, though at this stage in the program it’s the mentors and interns that are doing all the heavy lifting. I’ll have to spend more time on this in February if we are going to take part in the next round of the program. I’m sure that there are other things I’m working on but for now I’m going to go and try to make a dent in my email and I’ll leave you with the highlights of last year’s YAPC::NA.. . .
There is something about the winter that makes me want to knit. So far I have knit a scarf, fingerless gloves, and two neck warmers. I’ve also learnt a new cast-on method and practised knitting in the round.. . .
I forgot that it’s New Year this week and that it’s a huge holiday in Japan. Attempting to grocery shop today quickly reminded me of my folly. It’s nasty out there. There are extra staff at the shopping centre to deal with the cars, the grocery store has brought in extra tables to give more room for packing groceries, and the queues for the tills stretch right down the store. It’s horribly like shopping for food in Northern Ireland before Christmas. But here I don’t have a car and the stores don’t open in the middle of the night so I can’t sneak out and do my shopping when people are sleeping.
I was not ready for any of this when I wandered out of my apartment building. I grocery shop nearly every day and my grocery shopping is limited by what I can carry. Today I planned to buy food for one meal. It’s midweek so I expected to do this in about 15 minutes. And then I saw the crowds, the New Year decorations and signs, and I realised that the shops would probably close over the holiday and that I needed to buy food for multiple days.
I was not dressed for crowds. I have a cold, like so many people do at this time of year, and I was feeling dazed and sluggish when I got dressed this morning. I put on old clothes and was too lazy to change my trousers when I realised they were too big, as I was going to run quickly to the store. I stuck on my biggest coat, to cover up my awful clothes, and shuffled out. As soon as I stepped into the sunlight I started to sneeze, my nose started to drip, and the weight of my coat was causing my trousers to slid uncomfortably down. I ended up in the bathroom at the store trying to fix these problems while staring at my pasty white face. I looked awful and this was before I had braved the store.
I managed to buy food for two days and instead of writing this blog post I need to make myself go back to the store. I know that it will be open again tomorrow but the crowds aren’t going to get any smaller, if anything it will get worse as more people get off work for the holiday.. . .
This year I don’t have to dream about a white Christmas. It’s so beautiful in Niseko, cold, but a great way to spend the holiday.. . .
And the bad puns keep coming for a fast food Japanese Christmas…. . .
For the first time in years Marty isn’t working over Christmas so we thought we would go away. I do love snow at Christmas time so we are spending a few days in Niseko village. We plan to ski, snowboard, go snow shoeing, ride a snow mobile, and hopefully take a sleigh ride with a reindeer.. . .
This will be my 8th Christmas in Japan and it still feels bizarre. Holiday traditions were a much bigger part of my life in Northern Ireland than I realised. I know that things can’t be the same here in Japan but there are still things I miss.
I miss singing carols and Christmas songs. I always went to church over the Christmas holidays and as a child I used to go carol singing. I loved how it felt to be outside singing in the cold and dark on Christmas Eve. Here I still listen to Christmas music but to sing it I go to karaoke. We did that during the week and it would have been more fun if we hadn’t got stressed out by Japanese questions that we couldn’t understand. I still don’t know what the question was but the man behind us in the queue said in English that they wanted to check that I was over 20… I got carded at karaoke!
Food is a really big part of any holiday and I happen to love Christmas food. Japanese food is great but not christmassy at all. I do cook and I can make nearly every Christmas thing I like to eat if only I had the ingredients. None of my recipe books on how to make the perfect Christmas dinner deal with ingredient substitution or problems like baking in a small electric oven. In Japan turkey is an expensive frozen food that you can get from themeatguy or foreign supermarkets. Christmas cake is a white sponge and covered in cream and fresh strawberries and doesn’t contain dried fruit, marzipan, and icing. I did want to bake some cakes that don’t have fruit but there is a butter shortage in Tokyo. It’s not all bad, one of my friends sent me some Dutch Christmas food and I’ve been enjoying eating that in the evenings.
I miss my Christmas Eve party and having friends over to wrap presents. Now most of my Christmas shopping is done online and Amazon wraps my presents for me. I did still wrap quite a few things this year and I brought jumbo rolls back from Northern Ireland to do it. Japanese wrapping paper is beautiful but it tends to be more suited to wrapping books or DVDs than it does bulky PJs or toys in large boxes. I do still have parties at Christmas but they have to take place on the weekends around the holiday and don’t always involve Christmas food.
Some of the changes have nothing to do with living in Japan, just the changing times. In December I saw a copy of the Christmas Radio Times and I was overcome with nostalgia. As a child I loved to read that and the T.V. Times as it told me what films we could watch at Christmas time. Now I am spending time on iTunes downloading the T.V. series that we want to catch up on over the holidays (Dr Who Season 8) and have bought movies on Blu-Ray to watch. Watching T.V. wasn’t even a consideration. I suppose T.V. being in Japanese doesn’t help but browsing T.V. channels is not something I really do.
Even though things are different I still love the holiday season and I’m going to enjoy the Christmas week. And this year, thanks to Marty’s Christmas present, I won’t have to dream of a white Christmas.. . .