One evening after a lively Happy Hour, a good friend of mine, Casey West, and I got a ride to a small get together of friends. As we arrived, he mentioned having been invited to speak at YAPC::Asia Tokyo and said the CFPs were still open. And so I whimsically thought, “why not?” and wrote up a draft of a proposal.
I had been contemplating an idea for a talk/workshop for about a year. I finished my training to become a yoga instructor in 2013, and had been working full-time at a local studio. It had recently closed, which got me thinking about what to do next. YAPC::Asia presented a wonderful opportunity to really flesh out a talk about something very important to me: the posture issues we face as software developers.
Thankfully, Japan cares about posture. 🙂 Or at least Japan’s Perl community. I was honored to have been chosen, and yet I had no idea quite how transformative an overseas trip can be. This was my first time using my passport. I didn’t speak nor understand Japanese. I was not prepared to navigate the city, nor was I adequately prepared with proper cell phone coverage to help me. But I did have friends. And friends are the best. So I learned in one day how to use the subway system by following around a very willing and patient and brand new acquaintance, Rick Signes. Traversing a new city with no wifi helps you become friends fairly quickly. 🙂
Tokyo proved to be one adventure after another. I could write a blog post about each one. For now I’ll stick to the conference. I was honored to meet Larry Wall, the original author of Perl. I also met the wonderful Karen Pauley, the president of the Perl Foundation. I made friends with several other beautiful humans. As someone who doesn’t actually work in Perl, and doesn’t know the language very well, Larry’s keynote was actually a great intro, to some degree. It was also a great history, analogizing with something I hold near and dear to my heart: Peter Jackson’s Hobbit & LoTR movies. Rick’s talk about the differences between the two latest versions of Perl was also a great help in understanding the language more. I also got to have my picture taken with a bunch of toy camels, because reasons.
My talk was called Posture for Engineers. It talks about a few of the major things we encounter from sitting in a chair all day, and highlights a handful of yoga or yoga-related asanas or exercises that can alleviate those issues. I also learned a rather crucial difference in Japanese culture that could help expand the accessibility of the talk: the fact that most Japanese people are able to do a basic squat position with ease. This is not the case in America. So it leads to other potential posture issues, and alleviates some others that are seen more in Western cultures. I’ll leave the details to another post, and maybe if I ever present this in Asia again, I’ll be able to cater the talk a little better. I’m always so excited to learn more both about other people and cultures, as well as about my hobby. This provided a great opportunity to learn!
And that’s true about the whole conference, and in fact my whole trip. ^_^ I found both Tokyo and the Perl community to be wonderful and welcoming place.s Thank you, YAPC::Asia for helping me grow as a person. I hope I helped you in return.