Countdown to Rome…

On Thursday morning I’ll be leaving the Pacific and heading back to the Old World - perhaps the oldest of the old, Rome.

As usual the flights from the Western section of the New Empire eastward are really quite painful, but such is the cost of living where the sun melts into the sea (over and above cursable rents).

The question may be asked as to why I am headed out so far. Well, as those of you who have actually looked at the right column of this blog may have noticed, I have an interest in Mac OSX programming. I’ve tried for the last two years to really try to get some time (or discipline, I prefer to blame it on the former) to master the idiom and be able to make Great Software that would make my life (at the very least) and the lives of others ever so slightly better.

The trouble is that I don’t work in the idiom on a daily basis at work (like I do with, say, Perl) and between being lazy, tired, on-call, distracted, moving, needing to go to the gym, etc. I haven’t focused on the matter with regularity, slowly pouring mental water on a large stone until i slowly erode the mystery. Instead I work on 20 pages on a weekend, and don’t look at it during the week, and soon I find I have to backtrack instead of being able to actually know.

Well, I decided that I was going to sear the concepts in my gray matter with a week of intensive study with the teachers of Big Nerd Ranch. The teacher of this class, Aaron Hillegass, is one of the most knowledgeable people in the world on the material and his book, Cocoa Programming for Mac OS X is the best book on the material. BNR gives you the chance to work hard, learn a lot, and have a guru there to answer your tiniest questions. In other words, heaven.

Aaron’s company runs training out of their “Big Nerd Ranch” in Atlanta, GA regularly. Their first class for the new year (I noted in early December when I started to think about really giving this a go) was during Valentine’s Day week in February. Now normally this wouldn’t have mattered, but in the last year things have changed and I am very much focused on spending my first Valentine’s day with my sweetie in some special way.

That said, my next opportunity is in May. So there I sat, thinking here I am in month 12 and the chance to learn that which I want to learn occurs in month 5, almost a half-year away. It was simply too long. I then noticed a class taking place in Rome in January.

“Rome? That’s awful far…. That’s awful expensive…”

Well the difference between Rome and Atlanta from SFO was just a few hundred dollars … and for the ability to catch the fire to convert on my resolution…. well, that, as they say, was priceless. So I went through the gyrations of sending money abroad (much thanks to Stefanie, the coordinator who made all that less painful) and booked the flight. I’m departing on Thursday so that I can arrive in Rome on Friday. That will give me Saturday and Sunday to get the edge off the jet-lag so that I can be somewhat attentive during a class.

People who know me know that I do not like to stay up really late, really, it’s like systems just shut down. Therefore it’s very important to get my schedule in sync a wee bit before.

It’s nice to know how your body reacts to international travel before you go, really. You can prepare a bit.

Anyway, I’ll be staying near Grottaferrata at Villa Fiorio. I can’t say that that looks like a bad place to spend ones time. A lot of Mac Cocoa, Italian food, new friends, and the scenery of the tiber. It sounds great to me.

I also love making friends around the world! I’ve been making international friends since I met my friend, Wooden Spoon, in Food Science and Nutrition in 1995, it’s just great to talk and meet with intelligent people from around the world and hear what’s new in their world. That was confirmed by my study abroad year and my subsequent visits back to the UK, the Continent, and Australia. People in faraway places are interesting and generally better educated on my Empire than my co-citizens. The nice part is that many of the people in this class are going to come out this-a-way for the Worldwide Developers Conference and it will be a chance to catch back up again. I’ve always skipped WWDC because i thought I was too Cocoa Ignorant – no more!

So, I’ve started the pile of things to take: Outlet converters, camera, hiking boots, Rome guidebook, power converter…

I’ll keep this site updated with events as they happen over there as I have opportunity.