Rain!

It’s raining today! It’s been raining all day! This is exciting because of the horrible drought we’re in – everyone in Sydney is all over social media saying how good it is to have rain.

One result was I stayed in most of the day, only heading out briefly with Scully to the hardware and pet supply stores, which are in neighbouring buildings, mainly so she could get a bit of walking exercise without getting soaked and chilled. She loves the pet store, because she’s allowed to walk around in there and there are so many interesting things to smell. In the hardware store I checked the garden section and bought a small chilli plant. I’m going to try growing chillis on our balcony. I hope there’s enough sun for them; I guess I’ll find out.

Scully in raincoat

At home I wrote up a new article for 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe. As usual, that took several hours of research, writing, and collecting and formatting suitable images. I was very pleased to find an actual published astronomy paper that explicitly compared flat Earth and spherical Earth models for the phenomenon I was researching, and concluding that the flat model wasn’t adequate.

It’s still raining heavily. Yay!

New content today:

Hotel billing drama

In late October I’m travelling to Germany for an ISO Photography Standards meeting. Although I no longer have a job paying me to go to these meetings, I wanted to keep up my work on the standards committee, for several reasons. As the chair of the Australian delegation mirror committee, it’s up to me to do most of the work involved in keeping Australia as an active member of the ISO committee. If I resigned the chair, it’s not clear if Australia would continue to contribute actively or not. Maintaining my presence also keeps me up to date with the technology and various contacts in the industry, which is important for future employment.

Anyway, without an employer to organise my travel, I had to book my own flights and accommodation. Unfortunately, I got an email from Amoma.com the other day, informing me that they were ceasing operation of their online hotel booking business. Some brief searching found new stories indicating that Amoma had filed for bankruptcy on Friday, and anyone who had a hotel booking with them has lost their money, and possibly also their hotel booking.

I contacted my hotel in Cologne to confirm if they would honour my booking, and said that I would pay on arrival, now that Amoma won’t be paying them. The only bit of luck was that the hotel said they’d keep my booking for me. The bad bit is I’ve now lost nearly $500. I’m in the process of trying to claim it back from Visa as a case of services not received, but I’m not sure how likely that is to succeed.

Apart from that, I did some handyman work around the house, finally getting to covering up the undercoat on the walls where the plaster cracking has been repaired. We’ve had these bare white patches on the cream coloured walls for several weeks. Now they’re retouched with the original wall paint colour, and the place is looking a lot better.

I also went for a long walk around lunch time, stopping at a bakery for a pie for lunch. They have a few different types of pie: harissa chicken, Moroccan lamb, beef goulash, and mushroom. Normally when one sees “mushroom pie”, one assumes that it’s beef and mushroom. But I was a bit surprised to discover that it was just mushrooms – no meat at all. I don’t mind that, and it was really delicious, but it was surprising.

And in the afternoon I spent some more time organising things for the Magic: the Gathering event I’ve been working on for my friends. And then processing and posting some more photos from my last ISO meeting trip, to Portugal in May. It’s been a pretty full day.

Douro boat

New content today:

Lazy Sunday

The title pretty much sums it up. Slept in, took Scully for a couple of walks and plays in the park, and otherwise bummed around the house.

What I did was mostly sorting through old Magic: the Gathering cards. Over the years my friends and I have played dozens of booster draft tournaments as new sets were released, and I had dozens of old decks from these tournaments lying around. I decided to sort all the cards and put them into some proper storage. I haven’t completed the task… at the moment the dining table is covered in piles of cards. I’ll try and finish it tomorrow.

New content today:

Day in the city

You know the routine. Saturday is housework day – vacuuming the floor and cleaning the bathroom and other fun stuff like that. After lunch, I went into the city with my wife and Scully. Wife wanted to visit Paddington Markets. Previously we’d just get public transport there, but with Scully it was easier to drive. There’s parking not too far away in Centennial Park, and we walked from there, giving Scully a chance to stretch her legs.

I left the two of them at the markets while I caught a bus into the CBD to pick up some game stuff I ordered online and elected to pick up rather than have delivered. Then I returned to Paddington and found them in the markets. We waked around a bit looking at the stalls and getting a snack, and then left to make our way home. Back in Centennial Park we threw a ball for Scully to chase and get some exercise, and let her explore all the grass and trees and rocks and stuff – it’s the first time she’s been to this park.

Exploring Centennial Park

We went home and prepared to go back into the city for a nice dinner at a fancy restaurant that we had booked a month or two ago. No special occasion, except that we felt like we wanted a nice night out and we really enjoyed this place last time, and we know they allow dogs in the outdoor seating area. The restaurant was Otto in Woolloomooloo. It’s situated on a wharf and has a marvellous view across a small cove towards the city skyline. Parking there is difficult so this time we caught a bus in. Fortunately small dogs are allowed on buses, so that wasn’t a problem.

The dinner was delicious. My dessert was particularly notable: sourdough custard with spiced pineapple and sourdough ice cream. I was going to order something else, but my wife talked me into trying it, and I’m glad I did because it was an amazing combination of flavours – sweet, salty, sour, spicy. Honestly I’m not sure I got “sourdough” out of it, but rather something more like a gingerbread sensation. Which is good because I like gingerbread. Anyway, it was great!

New content today:

Architects of the West Kingdom

Today was spent getting used to my new tooth, and also in doing some comics work. I assembled a new Darths & Droids strip for Sunday’s update, and then wrote a bunch of new Dinosaur Whiteboard comics for the first time in six months. It’s funny how having more spare time means I’ve had less time to spend making those. Anyway, I’m hoping to keep those up 5 days a week for a while again.

I did some admin work involving contacting my mother’s ISP to sort out some account stuff for her. Then went out for lunch and to buy some groceries to lead into the weekend.

Tonight was fortnightly games night with friends. Five of us gathered at Steven’s place, and we kicked off with a Darths & Droids writing session, titling the strip I’d made this morning and then writing new strips. After we did that we got stuck into games.

I played a couple of quick games of Rubik’s Race, which was really only there because Steven has primary school aged children. It’s nowhere near as difficult as a Rubik puzzle, and is essentially a simple sliding tile puzzle that is played as a race between two players.

After pizza we got stuck into a serious game: Architects of the West Kingdom. This is a worker placement game, in which you have 20 meeples and each turn you place one on the board in a location of your choice, and then depending on the location you perform an action per meeple that you have at that location. Some locations simply give you resources, while at others you spend the resources you have to buy artisans, or build buildings. There are also some actions that interact with other players’ meeples, such as capturing them, or ransoming them off to the prison tower for money. You gain virtue for doing virtuous things, such as building the cathedral, giving goods to the king, or paying off debts, while losing virtue for things like raiding the tax store, or visiting the black market to secure a better trade deal.

Here’s the game partway through. I’m playing red, with my supply on the far side of the board in this view:

Architects of the West Kingdom

It’s really engaging because each turn is only a few seconds long and your turn comes around again quickly, so it always feels like you’re doing something, rather than waiting for your turn. You get victory points for buildings, gold, marble, coins, virtue, having built parts of the cathedral, and also any bonus points on cards you may have bought during the game. So there’s a lot of variety in ways to accumulate points, and thus a lot of different strategies that you can use that feel like viable ways to winning. All these are good features, and it’s a fun game. As it turns out, I won with 34 points! The next player had 30.

If you’re looking for a good new game that supports up to five players, I recommend it.

New content today:

Golf

Andrew C. invited me to play golf again this morning, at the same par 3 course we went to 4 weeks ago. We started early, before 9am.

Terrey Hills Par 3 Golf Club.

The weather was fine and warmer than it has been the past couple of weeks, so it was pleasant walking around in short sleeves and shorts. This was only my third time playing golf, and I was hoping to improve on my 92 from last time, but I had a couple of terrible holes, losing a ball, and getting stuck in a sand trap for several strokes. It was the first time I’d really had a serious attempt at extracting a ball from the sand, and it took me a while, but I eventually got the swing right and ejected the ball. I managed par on just one hole, compared to two last time, and my final score was 95, three strokes worse than last time.

However on what was ranked the most difficult hole of the course (I think because the green is very shallow, and overshooting it at all ends up with a ball lost out of bounds), both Andrew and I did very well – both our tee shots landed on the green, and I was actually closer to the hole:

Tee shots

Unfortunately my putting let me down and I ended up with a 4. I kept track of my walking using Strava while we were playing, and the map is fascinating. You can see the route I took through the 18 holes of the course, punctuated by a visit to the clubhouse toilets after the first 9. You can see the amount of back and forth across the greens on some of the holes, where I kept overhitting the ball! And the hole shown above is hole 12 – you can see the hole numbers if you click through to the larger image.

Par 3

After we’d finished, I drove home and picked up some pies for lunch on the way. I took them down to Collaroy Beach to eat while sitting on the grass and looking out over the beach.

Lunch lookout

So it was a very pleasant morning! The afternoon began with me getting home and walking up to the dentist, to have the crown fitted after last week’s preparation. Not so pleasant, but fortunately it seemed to go okay. It didn’t require any anaesthetic, which is good, because I avoided having my mouth numb for the next few hours.

Nevertheless, I’d planned to make soup for dinner tonight just in case. I made a curried potato and lentil soup. Unfortunately, when I went to blend it into a nice smooth puree, my stick blender refused to work. It’s been a bit dodgy for a while and it finally gave up the ghost. So I had to mash the soup by hand and it ended up a bit lumpy, but my wife said it still tasted good.

New content today:

New walking route

Ethics teaching day! We started a new topic today (having finished “stealing” last week): Jumping to conclusions. It’s actually about applying a bit of formal logic to statements to transform them into other statements, and how that changes the truth value. For example, one of the statements we discussed today is “All carrots are vegetables”, which is true. If you reverse the statement, “All vegetables are carrots”, you get a false statement.

Then we moved to trickier examples, like “All Persian cats are fluffy” – which you can’t reverse in the same way as easily: “All fluffy are Persian cats”. You need to add a noun to the second part: “All Persian cats are fluffy animals” → “All fluffy animals are Persian cats”. Again, true becomes false. Then “All birds have wings”, which needs to be modified to “All birds are animals with wings” → “All animals with wings are birds”. Again, true becomes false.

Next week we move on to examples where the truth value doesn’t change when you reverse the sentence. The goal of the topic is really to get the kids thinking about the rules of logic rather than to teach them rote rules, so that they can avoid jumping to incorrect conclusions.

On the way home I walked a new route which I haven’t explored before, through a local bush park. This is a park that straddles a creek, and consists of uncleared eucalyptus forest. I took some photos on the walk:

Lane Cove track

Gore Creek

It’s nice having relatively untouched bushland so close to home. There are several areas like this within walking distance of my home. The full walk to Ethics and home via the bush park was over 9 kilometres, and I climbed 176 metres of elevation. It’s a very hilly area around here.

Speaking of which, I’ve been keeping track of everywhere I walk using the Fog of World app for a few months. Here’s my current map showing everywhere I’ve walked in that time:

Fog of World map

New content today:

One quarter of the way

Today I wrote another one of the 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe, number 25 out of the planned 100. A nice milestone! In fact, I have more than 100 planned… but it’s a quarter of the way to the nominal target.

In the afternoon I did more preparation for the Magic: the Gathering event I’m planning for my friends. I still have several hours worth of work to do, but I should have plenty of time before the date, which is still over 2 weeks away.

That’s kind of all I’ve done today – those two things together took up over 12 hours of work. Well, I also took Scully for a walk and cooked dinner (curried vegetables in pastry parcels) and other normal daily stuff. I’m a bit tired now…

New content today:

Home handyman day

Today I installed the new kitchen cupboard shelves that I bought last week. First I walked to the hardware store in the morning to get a drill bit. When I got home I pulled all the mugs out of the cupboard and removed the existing shelf, then marked up locations for drilling holes for the mounting pegs for the new shelves. A bit later, I had nice new shelves installed!

Here are before and after photos:

Cupboard before and after

After lunch I picked up Scully from my wife’s work and then took her to a dog park for some exercise. It rained a bit, big cold raindrops, but not very intensely or long. And there was a really bright rainbow against the dark grey clouds. We need some rain, it’s been so dry for so long. There are dangerous bushfires burning out of control in both New South Wales and Queensland, and it’s extremely early in the fire season – we’re barely out of winter. I fear this summer is going to be terrible for fires across Australia.

New content today:

Magical Sunday

Most of today I spent doing more preparation for the Magic: the Gathering game night I’m organising for my friends. Not much more I can say about it at this stage, I’m afraid.

Apart from that, my wife and I went out for a late lunch at Balmoral Beach, which is a pleasant harbour beach about 15 minutes drive away. We had a pleasant lunch of beetroot and roast pumpkin salads on the promenade looking across at the beach and the water. The weather was still a little windy, but there were several people enjoying the sunshine and swimming in the water, though most of the people there were on the grass, having picnics, walking dogs, etc. Unfortunately I forgot to take my phone, so I couldn’t capture any photos of the beach to show you.

New content today: