Khaos

Archive for June, 2014

Windy City

Monday, June 9th, 2014

We’ve just spent a long weekend in Chicago.  We stayed on the Magnificent Mile, which is a rather grand name for a shopping street, but it does mean that we were central and could easily explore on foot.  We did more shopping than I expected but I also got to walk round the parks.  We had a small kitchen in our apartment, but we did eat out quite a bit.  I do enjoy the food in America but we are still trying to adjust to American sized food portions.  For breakfast we ate at Wildberry Pancakes and Cafe.  Making the most of our jetlag we were there to queue for it opening at 6:30am.  I managed to eat around half of what I was given, which was probably still too much food.  I have asked why food portions are so big but I get answers like “we pride ourselves in the size of our portions” which doesn’t make much sense to me.  Why not put quality over quantity?

On Saturday night we went to see Eddie Izzard!  It was such an unexpected treat.  We walked by the Chicago Theatre on the way back to our hotel on Saturday afternoon and saw the adverts for the show.  We weren’t expecting to be able to get tickets but there were a few left and we ended up with good seats just a few rows back from the stage.  I was a little worried when giants turned up to sit in front of us but we could still see clearly.  The theatre was huge and wonderfully old fashioned but the seats were small and crushed together.  This didn’t cause me a problem but the people around me were all super-sized.  They must put something in the water here to make them grow.  The men in the row in front of me were all more than a foot taller than me.

Eddie Izzard was amazing on stage.  He looked fanstastic.  His suit was beautiful and I loved the red nail polish he was wearing.  He was tired after flying in from the D-Day 70th anniversary celebrations in France, but he owned the stage.  He has such presence and his rambling speaking style was incredibly amusing and had Marty wiping tears of laughter from his face many times during the two hour performance.

We’ve had a fantastic time I do like the city but I can’t imagine living here.  During the weekend there were 4 people killed in shootings and another 27 people injured.  The streets of the city were also filled with homeless people. I find the contrasts in how different sections of the community live hard to reconcile.

YAPC::NA – Getting Ready to Travel

Sunday, June 1st, 2014

YAPC::NA, the largest American Perl conference, is taking place in Orlando from June 23rd to the 25th. I’m going to be speaking on Working with Volunteers, and since the YAPC::NA schedule is now up I am thrilled to discover that I’ll be speaking on the first day. The schedule is not complete yet.  I’ve been looking at it regularly, waiting for the addition of the keynote that is going to be given by Charlie Stross, which I’m really looking forward to hearing.  It’s not listed yet but I have seen both the conference organizers and @cstross tweet about it, so I’m fairly sure it’s going ahead.

I’m pleased to see that there will be a VIP Reception on the Monday evening.  This event was created to welcome first and second time attendees to the conference and create a way for them to be introduced to other people.  After recently being at a conference where I didn’t really know anyone I know how difficult it can be to meet and speak to other attendees.  And I’m not the only one.  Ricardo, the Perl 5 Pumpking, wrote the following in a recent post about attending a conference where he knew only one person:

The most difficult part of the conference, for me, was socializing. Out of the hundred-odd attendees, I knew one — Mark — who was only there on the second day. I found it difficult to strike up conversations with a bunch of complete strangers, although I did try. In fact, I had a number of nice conversations, but it was difficult and uncomfortable to get started. I’m not sure whether there’s anything to be done about that, but it didn’t help that it seemed like half of the conference attendees knew each other already.

This experience really made me think again about YAPC and other conferences that I attend where I already know half the attendees and, even if I don’t, am in a privileged position by virtue of my position within the community. Remember, fellow conference veterans: go talk to the new people and make them feel welcome. It’s important.

I’m leaving for America soon and I need to decide what I’m taking with me. I’m tempted to bring a board game, for the YAPC::NA Game Night, but I’m not sure that I have room in my suitcase.   I also need to finish my talk as I really should take that with me.  I’ve been working on it today, but haven’t quite gotten to where I feel comfortable with it. I still have time, and thankfully, unlike the last conference I attended, I’m not expected to hand in my slides in advance.