The Twilight Report

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take a deep breath; it's July

I took a break from The Twilight Report for a few weeks as I was preparing for the National Perl Nerds conference. I had a talk to give on the open source project I have been focusing on this year, which is called alienfile + Alien::Build. I had named the talk โ€œThriving in an Alien Ecosystemโ€ which is a cutesie name I had come up with months ago and now had to live up to the hype. In an attempt to promote my talk, I tweeted thus:

Which was also cutesie, and so I had to come up with something to live up to the hype. The truth is that I am terrified of public speaking, and my standards are so absurdly low that if at least two people show up and I manage to say my thing in the time allotted I am pretty satisfied.

On the first day, Joel (who originally started the Alien project that I now lead) called me over when I walked into the main hall and introduced me to David, who sometimes hangs out on my #native channel. He is a physics professor, so another scientist. For some reason the tech in Perl that I am interested in is of an interest in a number of scientists as well. (I don't always see the connection, but it seems to be there). I instantly took a liking to David, we had some common interests, but most of all I think he is a good listener and takes an interest in the person with whom is talking. I wish he were around #native a little more often! Apparently he is easily distracted and has to stay away at times in order to get on with his other projects.

The conference was held at the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). Two of the lecture rooms were behind security, and a popular speaker was in one of those rooms for the first session of the day, and as a result of the bottleneck, everyone was late. To the speakers credit, he started giving lighting speeches until everyone arrived, so I got to hear is whole talk. To the organizer's credit, they added extra space between talks after that incident.

John Anderson gave a talk on the Swift programming language, and Matt Trout did one on the ES6 programming language. The thing I like about this conference is that even thought it is supposed to be about Perl, they cover other languages too. And in a Perl context, which is helpful for me since that is a context that I understand well.

I always have an eye out for people with cameras, and so I noticed someone with what I thought was a Hasselblad Xpan film camera, so I asked him about it right before lunch. He introduced himself as Lee Johnson and we had lunch together. So I got to talk film geekery at a Perl Nerd conference. That was a first!

At the end of each day they do a series of short 5 minute talks called โ€œlightning talksโ€. I submitted a talk and gave it, which was a little iffy. I came to realize that for me a five minute talk is much harder than a 20 or even an hour long talk. Also lighting talks are done before the entire conference, so it is a larger audience to be terrified in front of.

I stayed the night at a nearby hotel, even though I was technically a local, so that I could practice my talk, and arrive the next day refreshed for the delivery. Somehow it worked because I delivered the thing without stammering too much and with some questions at the end that showed that people had been listening. So definitely a win. One guy asked me a sort of silly question that he has already asked before when I gave a similar talk. Another person who has expressed some criticisms of the project in the past has some interesting questions, and was excited about the direction that we were now going in. It was pleasing to see him to be enthusiastic in the direction that we were heading.

I had lunch with Brock, leader of the local Perl Nerds group, and one of the main organizers. I have been meaning to invite him and Mike over for enchiladas, but somehow it hasn't happened yet. He was enjoying the work of putting the conference together, but also looking forward to the stress being gone when it would end!

After the second day of lightning talks, we had a little social get together in the PTO museum. The food that they served was actually really good. I talked to a couple of guys who used to work at NASA on our project. Actually one of them works at NASA now again, but in a different part. They are more interested in Perl 6, which I don't really find that interesting. But whatever. Then I ran into David, Joel and Chris and hung out with them for a while. I left early because I wasn't staying the night again, since the company wasn't paying for the hotel.

I decided that missing the first couple of talks for the final day would be acceptable, and so I wouldn't rush to get there, but for whatever reason I managed to get their on time. I ran into David after getting off the train and so we walked together and discussed House of Cards and The West Wing (of all things). For lunch we had a โ€œbirds of a featherโ€ meeting for #native folks. Actually the politics of this requires further discussion, but I will get into it in another entry. For now sufficit to say it was an unexpected great success.

After that we had some more talks and some more lighting talks and it was all over! Only I stayed around for a while and talked to some different people. The gentleman who leads the LA Perl Nerds group invited me to come out and give a talk, which I would totally do, only with kiddo on the way it probably won't happen this year. Talked to some other people who used to attend the monthly DC Perl Nerds meeting but for various reasons they don't come anymore. Then it was really over!

In summary it was a great success because I constantly and consistently struggle with social anxiety. And you know I chatted with people and stuff. In working on Open Source my main challenge has always been more on the social side, not the technical one (though there are technical challenges as well). I am starting to make connections and build a reputation. If only in a small niche of a not so fashionable programming language.


Honestly there was no rest for the weary, because Lena and I were on to interviewing day cars on Thursday and Friday. We went to two different places so far, and will be visiting a third later in July. One was super new and shiny with high tech hand print identification and everything. The second place was older, (but with staff who had been their for a corresponding longer term), and a bit chaotic, but also much warmer. I think we favor the latter, but I want to see the third before we decide. I am also considering taking some unpaid time off to spend with kiddo, so when we start day care isn't entirely set in stone yet.

Lena's parents and grandma came for the following weekend. Lena's father helped me build a chest of drawers for the room formerly known as the library. I joke a little in calling it, it seems increasingly like kiddo's room rather than that place where I used to keep my books. Sunday we went to the farmer's market and got some Aussie meat pies, which were well received by the Russians.


Wednesday the next week after work we flew out to Salt Lake City to celebrate Chicken Noodle Day (CND). (CND, for those that do not know, is this holiday that I invented when I was younger as a way to obfuscate my birthday). As a sort of joke I live tweeted the day with the faux hashtag #๐Ÿ”๐Ÿœ. That is the โ€œChickenโ€ and โ€œSteaming Bowlโ€ emoji if your browser doesn't display it. Anyway, apparently you can't do emoji hashtags, but that didn't stop me! I am embedding these tweets mostly so that you can see the pictures. But don't worry true to long form blogging, I plan on adding extra detail that you don't get on the Twitscape. (Also I have discovered this great website called emojipedia).

Lena had already given me a KEH gift certificate that had been delivered too early and a new backpack as early gifts, but she also gave me a gift certificate to get massage. So that will be interesting. Mum and Don had also already gotten me a Nintendo Switch, but also gave me a book for on the day. So yeah my family is pretty neat.

Mum made blueberry pancakes which was lovely. Definitely a good start to the day.

Then I hooked my Switch up to Don's new 4k TV and played New Zelda on the big screen. Coincidentally I was just about ready to try out the final battle with the game's final boss, Calamity Ganon. So I took him on on the big screen and was victorious! Seriously, he wasn't that hard to be honest. After Don got his hair cut we went to Red Iguana 2 for lunch. Red Iguana is my favorite restaurant in Salt Lake, by far. They have these really great moles and lovely enchiladas. When they had the National Perl Nerds conference in Salt Lake two years ago I proudly took some people I knew there. I prefer New Mexican food; (contrast with the Red Iguana's Mexican style Mexican) but I think there is something to appreciate about different styles of things that you still like. I am not the only one who loves Red Iguana; it is so popular that they built a second restaurant called Red Iguana 2 only a couple of blocks away. It is often less crowded. Because. You know, stuff that people are used to. This was the first time that I'd been to the new restaurant, and actually I have to say I kind of prefer it. You can eat outside. I was so excited that I had two margaritas and I was deliriously happy. We even had dessert, which was fried ice cream, and it was sooooo good.

After a bit of a nap we went out to get some cheese and meats for a picnic dinner to follow that night. On the way I saw some odd arty things around town. And a piano. The only thing that I can play is Frรจre Jacques. But Lena and Mum are musically inclined and they played around a bit. We were reminded of the time when they had a piano down in Woolloomooloo in Sydney. By Harry's the pie place. It is a small world I guess. But why not have out door pianos for the fun of it?

Just as an aside, as mentioned previously we weren't announcing the impending arrival of kiddo to The Facebook or to The Twitscape, but photos were totally fair game and Lena and I discussed the possibility that people might start noticing with some of these pictures, and sure enough. A few people actively noticed. Not sure how many passively noticed, but were too polite to risk asking โ€œare you pregnant?โ€ lol.

The place we went for the cheese and meat allowed us to sample. Stuff was delicious. Armed with several meats and cheese I noticed they also had really pretty chocolates. Mum had other chocolates for the picnic din dins, but was won over and we bought some of the pretty chocolates.

The final entertainment for CND was to go to Saturday's Voyeur. Which is this oddball local political satire set to music. They take well known songs and rework the words to make political jokes. I was a little concerned that it might be a bit too local, but actually it was totally accessible to non-Salt Lakians. We had a table right next to the stage and had our cheese + wine + meats + chocolates. Like I mean right up at the stage.

Then we were on our way back home. As I mentioned I was deliriously happy. And sleepy. And ready for bed.


The day after CND was Friday, but I had already forgotten which day of the week it was. Mum and Don had business with a lawyer in Provo, so we went through there on our way to the Utahraptor museum in Price. In Provo we went to this Navajo / Southwestern fusion restaurant for lunch. We all had the special which was a cross between a chimichanga and a chili relleno. My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Everything about this meal was amazing. The dinosaur museum itself was only okay. I mean, I love dinosaurs, but I have a pretty high standard when it comes to dinosaur museums. After the museum we grabbed dinner and stayed at a hotel. I was interested in a Mexican place, but apparently after Red Iguana and Navajo / Southwestern fusion nobody was interested in Mexican again. Except me. Let me put it this way. I live on the East coast which doesn't have the sort of Mexican food that I like, so when I am out west, (or better yet Southwest) I like to partake of every opportunity. Alas. The next day we went to Nine Mile Canyon, to see the petroglyphs. It was pretty and quiet. And oh yeah HOT. It was an interesting tour of somewhere where I had never been before. We were back in Salt Lake by the end of the day.

Saturday was a rest day, but we did go up to Alta in the mountains for some cooler weather. Lena was especially happy to be some place pretty. I think her notions about Utah have really changed for the better since our first visit. Monday we went up to Mirror Lake which I think was even prettier. Actually Monday we went to Mirror lake by way of the Bank which delayed us somewhat. But we did everything that we wanted to do, including a nice meandering walk around the lake. Two thumbs up.

Tuesday was Independence Day. Don's siblings came over and I took photos of them. They do this every ten years. That reminds me I have to go through the raw pictures and tweak them. Formal portraits are about the only time I ever use flash, so it is a fun excuse to use some of my kid that doesn't otherwise get a good workout. Burgers were for lunch and then we were back at the airport to return home.

Oh I forgot to mention earlier, that we had somehow lucked out on the way out to Salt Lake and got three seats for the two of us. And then, somehow on the way back we also got two seats for the two of us. We watched Star Trek for a bit on my lap top and then I played some more New Zelda. As we were landing in Baltimore we could see lots of fireworks. Including one example, which was either a finale or an explosion in a fire works factory, I am pretty sure.

We didn't get home until quite late. Today I am back at work.

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