Building a different kind of extension

For the past year I’ve been rather distracted, with little time to devote to Open Source projects. I’ve been working on a different kind of project, adding an extension to our home. It’s been quite a journey.

After much planning (the plumbing Statement of Works, for example, covers four pages), and our fair share of trials and tribulations, the builders broke ground two weeks ago. Now, after days of digging and rock-breaking, the foundations trenches are all dug out and the concrete will be poured tomorrow morning. Finally, we’ll be “out of the ground”.

Digging foundations

Naturally I want to be around to handle issues as they arise, so this year I won’t be going to OSCON or YAPC::EU. If all goes well we should be completed in time for me to attend the London Perl Workshop in November.

Meanwhile I hope to find a little time for catching up on outstanding issues with DBI and NYTProf and perhaps a little more blogging.

The Voyage

We saw Johnny Duhan in a very small, intimate, concert in Ennis last year. Last weekend we saw Christy Moore in concert in Limerick. This song, written by Johnny Duhan and sung by Christy Moore, has always struck a cord with me.

I am a sailor, you’re my first mate
We signed on together, we coupled our fate
Hauled up our anchor, determined not to fail
For the hearts treasure, together we set sail

With no maps to guide us we steered our own course
Rode out the storms when the winds were gale force
Sat out the doldrums in patience and hope
Working together we learned how to cope

Chorus:
Life is an ocean and love is a boat
In troubled water that keeps us afloat
When we started the voyage, there was just me and you
Now gathered round us, we have our own crew

Together we’re in this relationship
We built it with care to last the whole trip
Our true destination’s not marked on any charts
We’re navigating to the shores of the heart

Chorus 2x

– Johnny Duhan

Here’s a video of Christy Moore and Johnny Duhan talking about the song and singing it together.

Perl Myths and Mongers in Dublin

Last weekend I went up to Dublin to speak at OSSBarcamp. I took the train from Limerick on Friday so I’d already be in Dublin the following morning, without having to get up at the crack of dawn.

Dublin.pm

Aidan Kehoe and I had a very small but interesting Dublin.pm meeting that night. Their first since 2004! Our wide-ranging discussions that night included me trying to understand what led Dublin.pm to flounder instead of flourish. I think a key factor was the (implicit?) expectation that members should make technical presentations.

Living in the west of Ireland there aren’t enough local Perl users (that I’ve found so far) to have a viable Perl Mongers group. So I setup the Limerick Open Source meetup instead.

Here’s what worked for us: We sit around in a quiet comfy hotel bar and chat. Naturally the chat tends towards the technical, and laptops are produced and turned around to illustrate a point or show results of a search, a chunk of video etc. There’s no set agenda, no declared topics, and no presentations. And yet, I think it’s fair to say, that everyone who’s come along has learnt interesting (albeit random) stuff.

I’d like to hear from perl mongers, in groups of all sizes, what kinds of balance between the social and technical aspects of Perl Mongers meetings works (or doesn’t work) for you.

OSSBarcamp

At OSSBarcamp I gave a ~15 minute ‘lightning talk’ on Devel::NYTProf in the morning, and a ~50 minute talk on Perl Myths in the afternoon.

The Perl Myths talk was a major update to my previous version, now over 18 months old, incorporating lots of updated graphs and other fresh information.

There is so much happy vibrant productive life in the Perl community that updating the presentation has been lovely experience. I keep having to revise the numbers on the slides upwards. There are lots of great graphs and they’re all going upwards too! (Many thanks to Barbie for the great new graphs of CPAN stats.)

I’ve put a PDF of the slides, with notes, on slideshare. Best viewed full-screen or downloaded.

I made a screencast but I think I’ll hang on to that until after I give the same talk, updated again, at the Italian Perl Workshop (IPW09) in Pisa in October — I’m really looking forward to that! I’ll make another screencast there and decide then which to upload.

After OSSBarcamp last week, and before IPW09 in late October, I’ll be flying to Moscow, visa permitting, to give a talk at the HighLoad++ (translated) conference. I’ve never been to Russia before so that’s going to be an amazing experience!

Retreat

I usually get a cold around January. Nothing major, gone in a week or so. This year I excelled myself by succumbing to the ’flu and following it up with assorted complications. January was mostly a write-off, February was better but still a struggle (what with jet lag and unexpected surprises). Fortunately my Functional Biochemistry practitioner has pinpointed the underlying cause for the slow recovery and I’m fast returning to my usual good health.

My wife suggested I take some time-out for myself. After the rough few weeks I needed a boost, so I did…

I’m just back from a wonderful two day retreat organized by Timothy and Eva from the Kalyana Centre for Mindfulness in Co. Kerry.

The retreat was held in silence, practising Kum Nye, a Tibetan Buddhist movement practice. It was lead by Matthias Steurich — a rare opportunity to practice with him in Ireland. It was wonderful. Just what I needed.

The location was beautiful. A large house overlooking Inch Strand in County Kerry in the West of Ireland. I took this photo on my iPhone on one of my walks along the beach:

IMG_0303.JPG

An “Indian Summer” day of domesticity

Today was a great day.

An ordinary domestic weekend kind of a day, but blessed with great weather and no engagements for any of us.

house last afternoon.jpg

A chance for me to catch up on many of the long neglected house and garden chores, and for our family to enjoy some chilled-out time around the house.

We’ve been burning more wood on the fire recently and the chimney was overdue a sweep. So I blocked up the fireplace with a bin bag and some foam, then climbed on the roof and swept down from the chimney pot. It was my first time sweeping a chimney and this method made it very simple. I just left the fireplace sealed up for a few hours for the dust to settle before opening it up and shovelling out the shoot along with the old ash.

fireplace sealed.jpg  soot in fireplace.jpg

My wife had seen a recipe for “Hedgerow Jelly” by Elisabeth Luard in a magazine, so she, and our two daughters, walked out down the local lanes to find the ingredients: 1kg crab apples or Bramleys; 250g blackberries, 250g sloes or bullaces or damsons, 250g rowan berries or elderberries, 125g hawthorn berries (haws), 125g rosehips (wild or cultivated), plus about 2 litres of water and about 2kg of granulated sugar.

chopped fruit in caserole.jpg

(Our eldest daughter decided to take photographs of the process, which ultimately led to this blog post — I normally rarely post about home life.)

fruit into muslin.jpg fruit in muslin.jpg hanging muslin.jpg
ladling fruit juice.jpg sieves in sink.jpg hedgerow jelly jars.jpg

Meanwhile, after clearing gutters and sweeping the drive, I was working down by the lake front thinning out some trees. A few months ago we had a group of big old trees one corner of our garden cut down. Mostly pine with some silver birch and hazel. (You can see in the photo the large pile of wood I still need to chop, chop, chop.) That gave us a view of the lake again. Something we’d lost over the years since we moved in as the trees have grown up and bushed out.

Having got that narrow view of the lake I wanted to extend it through the trees to the right by thinning out their lower branches.

view to lake.jpg

The summer weather in Ireland has been pretty poor the last few years. We seem to get a few lovely weeks in spring, then summer is a mostly washout with grey skies and regular showers. Then, just after the kids go back to school, we get a few bright weeks again—the Irish “Indian Summer”—around September/October. Fabulous days like today.

There’s a reason Ireland is so green. It rains. A lot. Especially in the west were we are. Despite the bright sunshine today the grass was squelching under my feet. The logs need to be stored or they’ll rot over the winter. I shifted a few wheelbarrow loads today and started clearing a space off the grass to store them.

A friend and I wielded axes a few weeks ago so we’ve a reasonable stockpile of split logs now, which I finished stacking today. I’ve been told the wood gets harder to split the longer its left, and I don’t fancy trying to split logs on dark wet winter nights, so I guess I need to keep at it.

log pile.jpg

Back indoors the domesticity continued with our eldest daughter making the topping for an Apple Crumble.

making crumble.jpg

Our eating apple tree is still recovering from the pruning I gave it last winter (it’s first for many years) but our cooking apple tree seems very happy this year.

cooking apple tree.jpg

Yum!


That was the glossy edited version of the day. The uncut version includes me falling off the ladder into the lake, our youngest daughter having a tantrum and throwing handfuls of apple crumble onto the floor, and me pouring scalding hot Hedgerow Jelly over my hand. Ahh, domestic bliss!

Leonard Cohen Live

If you enjoy his music and can possibly get a ticket for one of his world tour dates, do. Now. Stop reading and go buy them now.

I crossed the country to see the concert in Dublin on Friday night. I’m struggling against the urge to write a stream of superlatives. Others can do that better than I.

Got your tickets yet?