Khaos

Archive for September, 2015

I <3 Garbage Room

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

When I first moved to Japan I found it hard to understand how to sort out garbage.  (I used to call it rubbish, but no-one knew what I was talking about.) There were so many things that need separated.  Burnable waste, non-burnable waste, PET bottles, glass bottles, cans, cartons, cardboard, paper, and white food trays.  There is also a separate garbage collection for items that are bigger than the 45L bags that we are expected to use.

We’ve been renting in Tokyo for a while and lately have been thinking of buying.  When we went to look at new houses I saw a yellow basket sitting outside one of them.  I haven’t had to deal with communal recycling baskets since we moved to this apartment.  I stared at it trying to remember if it was for cans or bottles… and then all the horrors of garbage came back to me.  I have learnt how to separate garbage but I no longer have to worry about when it needs put outside.  In our current apartment we have a garbage room.   It’s an amazing place full of bins for all the different types of garbage.  I no longer have to wait for the two days in a week when I can get rid of smelly food stuff from my apartment, and I don’t need to know which days are the right ones for different types of recycling, and I don’t need to store garbage in my apartment unless I’m too lazy to move it.

If I had a house I would have to learn the garbage cycle again.  Every day I would be putting out a different type of garbage.  I could end up responsible for washing out the baskets in the street, there would be crow nets, wild cats, and cleaning garbage off the street when a mess was made.  I would end up cleaning other people’s garbage off the street as I’m sure just like the last place we lived that they would blame the foreigners every time a crow attacked or some other person put their garbage out too soon.  I don’t actually mind helping out if there is garbage lying in the street as I love living in a clean city, but I disliked being blamed for this.

I did like the giant crows.  They seemed to know the schedule better than me and would sit on the electric cables outside our home just waiting for something tasty to be taken out.

Free Crow Nets

Free Crow Nets

Maybe houses are a better buy, because of the associated land, but I would miss my garbage room.

Silver Week

Monday, September 21st, 2015

It’s Silver Week.  A wonderful week that occurs every six or so years when 2 national holidays turn into 3.  Japanese law stipulates that if there is only one non-holiday in between two public holidays, that day should become an additional holiday, known as a Kokumin no kyūjitsu (Citizens’ Holiday).  Today is “Respect for the Aged Day” and  “Autumnal Equinox Day” is on Wednesday.

Major holidays are not a good time to travel in Japan so we have opted for staying at home.  We had friends over for a lazy weekend of playing games, eating junk food, and watching movies.  (I wasn’t expecting to like Zoolander, but it was O.K.)  We may venture out tomorrow to see a new apartment building but I won’t be surprised if we sleep late and forget all about that.  Marty is crazy about Splatoon, so much so that I’ve started to see squid creatures in my sleep, and if he plays to 4am again we may not get much done at all.  That’s not a problem though as I’m happy to be still for a few days.

It’s just a pity that the next one doesn’t take place until 2020!

Missing Conferences

Friday, September 18th, 2015

I don’t get to attend all the Perl conferences I would like to go to.   I was sad to miss YAPC::EU in Granada, and I’m going to miss the Pittsburgh Perl Workshop, that is taking place in October.  I am actively involved in the Perl community, but not as a programmer.  Conferences are the perfect time for me to meet people and hold meetings.  I love the hallway track as the energy generated by the people attending the conference helps to motivate me.   The community aspect is more important to me than the technical content, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to hear any of the talks.    I’m still not sure what I think about live streaming during these conferences, as I know it’s very expensive, but I am glad when the talk recordings are posted after the event.

I’m watching talks from YAPC::EU.  I’m starting with the keynotes as I enjoy talks with a broader theme and would absolutely have attended these if I had been at the conference.  I’ve already listened to Sawyer’s State of the [Art] Velociraptor‎ and today I’m listening to Ovid’s Turning Point.

I will also miss the London Perl Workshop.  That one is slightly more annoying as I will be flying through London about a week after the conference – so it will be a near miss.  I’m going to try to attend YAPC::EU next year as I would like to meet the members of Cluj.pm.  I love their cute little vampire logo and the combination of getting to meet the European Perl community and reading Dracula in Transylvania appeals greatly.

Cluj.pm Facebook Banner

My Favourite Perl Monger Logo

 

Working on Sweeney Todd

Tuesday, September 15th, 2015

Earlier this year I agreed to take part in a musical theatre class.  I don’t find it easy to meet people in Tokyo and I thought that this would be a fun way of doing that.  I’m not sure that the class is fulfilling those goals but it’s certainly a challenge. It’s been a while since I did any stage work.  It would have been easier to have started in the chorus but I’m working on the role of Mrs. Lovett from Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd.  She is quirky and sings fast paced songs that are very wordy.  The songs aren’t beautiful.  I have very few good melodies to sing, but they are witty.

I was a little concerned about her accent as she is from the East End of London.  But my American musical director doesn’t mind me using my own accent as he can’t easily differentiate between British and Irish accents.  (I know, I sound nothing like a Londoner).  Sweeney has the advantage in that he is from the East End.  I can sing in the accent, but I’m not comfortable speaking in it.  So my songs will have a flavour of the accent, as if someone from Belfast moved to London and picked up some of the glottal stops and vowel sounds from the people around them and maybe lost the letter “h”.

I have spent most of this afternoon practising for tomorrow’s rehearsal.  I’ve been singing to myself and an imaginary Sweeney while I pick imaginary insects off imaginary pies.  I’ve been using a real rolling pin as I actually want to hear the syncopation it provides when I’m singing, though I’m sure that neighbours aren’t keen on me blattering it off the table.  I’m concerned about the lines I have to speak as I don’t know if I can remember them.  I know I used to be able to learn a whole play but it seems harder now.  It’s probably not really though as it’s much easier to look back and remember performances than it is to remember the hours I put into learning the work in the first place.

I will go and practice!

New Vegetables

Friday, September 11th, 2015

I had a house guest recently, who was trying to find cilantro, and they asked me to identify some of the leafy green things in the store.  There were quite a few that I couldn’t identify so I took pictures of their names to translate them at home.  A translation hasn’t helped me much as I didn’t recognize their English names either.  I can buy  Malabar Spinach (つるむらさき), Jew’s Mallow (モロヘイヤ),  Angelica Keiskei (明日葉), and Japanese Honeywort (三つ葉).  My next task it to work out how to cook them.

Learning To Crochet

Thursday, September 10th, 2015

I’ve always wanted to learn to crochet. I’ve tried a couple of times in the past but quickly got confused and frustrated. I had a friend staying in August and she patiently explained the basics to me.  I found it hard to get coordinated but with my friend’s help, instruction books, and youtube videos, I have managed to learn a number of stitches.

Today I finished my first hat.  I’m impressed by how fast crocheting is, as I started the hat yesterday evening.  I’m also surprised at how well it looks.  At lot of my early knitting attempts were rather ugly but this hat is actually wearable and it would be hard to look at it and know that it was hand made.  I only have a tiny picture as I couldn’t quite work out how to take a picture of something I was wearing on my head.

New Hat

New Hat

One of my favourite things about knitting and crochet is that you can do them while watching a movie or a T.V. show. I did need to concentrate on the pattern for part of time so Marty decided he would play Splatoon, which is a bizarre ink shooting game.  He claimed he was learning new skills too and that he would be prepared for the zombie squid apocalypse should it ever arrive. I think my new skills are better since I’m fairly surely that winter will actually arrive.

Bothersome Day

Wednesday, September 9th, 2015

The weather is awful.  The whole city is blanketed in grey and it looks like it will continue to rain through the night.  Since I’m locked inside to avoid being washed away I decided to sort out a few things on my computer.  That turned out to be a tedious waste of time that involved spending far too long reading error messages in Japanese.  Japanese error messages can be more than 2 lines long and turn out to be just be a list of apologies for something going wrong.  It would have been good if they could have explained what the “something” was so that maybe I could fix it.  I’m also waiting on a parcel that has been delayed because of the typhoon.  Normally parcels can be left downstairs but this one contains food that needs to be refrigerated.  I certainly don’t blame the company for being late in this weather but I’m still a big grump.

I’m going to try to improve my mood by eating multi-coloured tomatoes.  I’ve never seen so many different types of tomatoes in the store before and I’m intrigued. I love tomato so I’m hoping this experience will turn me back into a normal human.  That might be wishful thinking.

Tomatoes!

Tomatoes!

Local Travel

Sunday, September 6th, 2015

One of the lovely things about YAPC::Asia being held in Tokyo is that it brings international speakers to the city.  And then I get to play tourist in my home country.

I remember the first time I went to Nikko in 1998.  We were looking forward to seeing the famous bridge but we couldn’t find it.  It was being restored at the time, so was completely covered up.  Thankfully this time it was on display.

Shinkyo Bridge, Nikko

Shinkyo Bridge, Nikko

Travel Highlights

Saturday, September 5th, 2015

I spent 76 days of this summer travelling.  I realise that 80 would have been a better number but I was very glad to get home.  I find it strange how quickly I get back into my home routine and how distant my trip becomes even when I’ve only been back a couple of weeks.  Thankfully there are a few things that still stand out.

I went to Legoland in Windsor with family.  My great-nephews loved everything about the park and the hotel.  Getting them out of the reception area of the hotel with its pit of Lego proved to be difficult.  They kept thinking that the hotel reception was Legoland and couldn’t comprehend that there were so much more to see than a Lego pit.

Marty and the Shark

Marty and the Shark

I do like animals and I got to see quite a few during the summer.  I got to feed sheep in Windsor, and they have the softest muzzles.  Mind you, I didn’t enjoy feeding sheep as much as Marty did, it’s a wonder we ever got him to leave.

My great-nephew feeding sheep

My great-nephew feeding sheep

I also went to look for a mythical creature.  But although we didn’t actually find Nessy I did have an amazing time in the Highlands of Scotland and I really want to go back.

Loch Ness, Scotland

Loch Ness, Scotland

I was in America three times during the summer.  The area surrounding Salt Lake City was much more beautiful than I was expecting.  Actually the trip reminded me just how vast and varied America is as I also got to spend time exploring Pennsylvania.

Like every trip I ended up eating too much food as I don’t really get the opportunity to cook while travelling.  I ate the most amazing lobster at Marc Forgione in Manhattan.  Food featured heavily in my trip to New York as I discovered how easy it was to book restaurants using Open Table.  Now that I’m back home I’ll have to eat less.

I have no plans at the minute to travel again this year but I have a feeling that will change.