I'm riding out Gustav as far away as possible - meaning I'm in Japan. Ok, so that is not funny - another hurricane about to devastate New Orleans - it's almost too painful to think about. I just happen to be in Japan for 2 week giving a few training sessions on AutoCAD P&ID 2009. I get very little news from the US, but Gustav has made headlines even here on the other side of the world. All I can do is hope my former home and hometown weathers the storm intact.
I was a bit apprehensive over this trip - I've been working on 3D for the past year, and was not that involved in the P&ID 2009 release. Plus, having never been to Japan, I was a bit stressed about dealing in this foreign culture. It's not like I haven't been to places before where I don't speak the language, but usually I can at least read the writing. And now I'm stressed worrying about my former city. Maybe it's just in my nature to stay a bit stressed.
Before I left, I had a few weeks to brush up on AutoCAD P&ID's new features, plus a 12 hour plane ride with little else to do. So the classes have gone pretty well so far. Clients here ask all the tough questions - like how to deploy standards across a wide-area network, how to link to an external database system, or how best to synchronize parallel projects. These are the typical consulting type questions that don't have quick answers. These question always require time and a deeper understanding of what exactly is trying to be accomplished before I can make a recommendation (even more challenging to do across a language barrier). It must be interesting to learn software where everything is said twice - once by me and once by a translator. One of my Japanese colleagues, Mino Barada has been tasked with giving the translation. It's tough to say who is more exhausted at the end of the day, him or me. Or the clients.
On the non-work side of things, I've had fun discovering Japan. I did my best to get lost on my first evening in Tokyo. It was not smart to go walking without a map or cell phone or address of my hotel. On the plus side, I stumbled across the odd yet awesome fashion mascots Hangry & Angry -- and here I was afraid that all pop culture would be in the saccharine Hello Kitty style.
My coworkers have been taking me to eat an interesting variety of foods. Soba, sushi, Japanese "pancake" which is cabbage based, even Chinese food. (This last featured a menu in two writing systems I can't read. Sigh.) Fortunately I'm not a fussy eater and pretty much enjoy what shows up. Shark fin & squid salad was tastier than one would expect. Here in the photo we are eating something I know not what. Dinner conversation tends to go like this:
"Here try this - it is tasty!", says one of my coworkers.
"Ok," I answer, taking a bite, "What is it?"
"You don't want to know," he says in ominous tones.
"Hmmmm, good. Chewy," I say, followed quickly by, "I'm going to need another beer!"