Bread and Codenames

Saturday – more housework! After cleaning various things this morning I got stuck into writing some new Irregular Webcomic! scripts. I want to get another batch made next week if I can, and then complete another batch before I leave for my trip to Germany at the end of October. I wrote about half the batch today – hopefully I’ll have time to finish it off tomorrow.

It was approaching lunch time and I was getting hungry, so I checked the kitchen. We had 2/3 of a loaf of bread bought from the supermarket on Thursday, so I planned to make myself some sandwiches. I grabbed the bread… and noticed that the plastic bag had a large hole in it at the bottom end. Ragged, like it had been torn open. And a big chunk of the bread inside the hole had been… eaten away. It looked like mouse or rat damage.

Now I’m pretty sure we don’t have mice in the house, and we store the bread under a plastic cake cover so there’s no way anything could get in. So this must have occurred at the supermarket, and we just didn’t notice it until now. My immediate problem was that this left me with nothing straightforward to eat for lunch. (I wasn’t going to eat slices of a loaf that’s had mice/rats chewing on it.) So I took the rodent-gnawed loaf and went for a walk up to the supermarket to exchange it, and to buy some lunch on the way. I got sushi. The supermarket exchanged the bread for a new loaf with no issues, and the woman I spoke to said she’d show the damaged loaf to the manager.

This afternoon: more comic writing, distracted a bit by wondering if I have a Lego Boushh or not, and how much it would cost to acquire one (about $35 it turns out – too much for one comic). Then I watched Australia’s first game in the Rugby World Cup in Japan, as they played against Fiji in Sapporo. Fiji got off to a good start and led the scoring until the 62nd minute, when the Aussies finally pulled ahead – and from there the Fijians were visibly fatiguing while the Aussies stormed all over them, scoring multiple more times to win comfortably in the end. Our next game is against Wales next weekend.

After the game my wife and I took Scully to the park for some exercise. We’re trying a new training treat: tinned salmon, which she gets a morsel of for successfully responding to our call to “come here”. She obeys that one reasonably well, but not if she gets distracted by something, so we’re working on strengthening it. The good news is she likes the salmon, and was very keen to “come here” to get some.

This evening I played some games of Codenames Duet with my wife. We lost the first game when I guessed an assassin card. Here’s the layout midway through the second game, where we’re going better:

Codenames Duet

At this stage I had to clue to my wife MARATHON, ST PATRICK, WEREWOLF, and MONKEY. I considered “hairy” for WEREWOLF and MONKEY, but was stymied by the presence of BEARD. I plumped for “person” to clue ST PATRICK and WEREWOLF, which thankfully worked, and after that it was all downhill to the finish, as we won it handily. So 1 loss, 1 win.

New content today:

Cleaning and painting

I achieved a lot today – most of it housework and home handyman stuff. I gave the kitchen a thorough clean, removing everything from the benchtops and dusting, removing crumbs, etc., then polishing the stone. I emptied the crumbs out of the toaster, scrubbed everything clean to get spots off: toaster, kettle, cooktop, rangehood, splashbacks, pasta jars, food processor, microwave. I moved the microwave and cleaned underneath it. I scoured the sink with steel wool. Cleaned the cupboard doors. Even cleaned the window sill. It’s a big chunk of work, but it’s nice having a sparkling, spotless kitchen.

Then I did another round of painting, both white on the ceilings, and the off-white of the walls, over the various repairs we had done a while ago. This should be the final coat, so I tidied up the paint tins that have been sitting around for weeks and threw away the paint-spattered dropsheet. There was also laundry folding, loading and unloading the dishwasher, and some vacuuming.

In between all this I went for a walk to get some lunch. I got fish and chips, and instead of walking to my usual eating spot on the cliff overlooking the harbour, where I was pestered by magpies last time, I walked to another location, a steep climb down the hill to the water’s edge on the other side of the peninsula.

Jago Street view

It was really nice here! I thought there was a path connecting it to the next park around the shore, and I tried to go there to walk back via that way, but I couldn’t find a path through the bush on the steep bank. I suspect there might be private property in between going all the way down to the waterline, making it impossible to walk from one park to the other along the shore, which is annoying. So I had to backtrack the way I came.

New content today:

Some cooking

This morning I finished off that new article for 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe that I mentioned yesterday. I’m very pleased with this one, as it’s so surprising how the shape of the Earth becomes important to a topic where it initially seems completely irrelevant.

Around lunch time I went for a walk, since the rain finally decided to stop late this morning. We had almost twice the average September rainfall in three days, but nobody’s complaining because it’s the only significant rainfall we’ve had since May and we really need it. The one thing it did was really increase the humidity, and although it wasn’t hot it was a bit sticky after walking a few kilometres.

Besides taking Scully out to enjoy the weather and get some exercise too, I spent much of the afternoon cooking. I boiled up some chick peas I had soaking since the morning, and then fried them up with some chopped potato, carrot, broccoli, onion, garlic, and a bit of tikka masala paste. This became a stuffing to go into some puff pastry, which I then baked in the oven for dinner. I also made some sweet treats for dessert. Mashed up a carrot cake loaf (bought from the supermarket), mixed with cocoa powder, apricot jam, and rum, then rolled it into balls and coated them in chocolate sprinkles – et voila! Home made rum balls. Last time I made them I used a banana cake and they turned out really nice, so I thought I’d try carrot cake as the base this time. Recipes I’ve seen all say to use a plain vanilla butter cake, but I like the extra flavour.

Another small thing I did today was that I found an interesting photo while trawling through my old photo folders looking for photos to illustrate my Globe proof. It’s not a great photo, but it is a photo of some very interesting birds:

Little penguins

These are little penguins, which I photographed back in 2006 while on a trip along the south coast of Australia. They are the only penguin species to nest on mainland Australia – in fact there’s a colony in Sydney Harbour, not far from where I live. The reason I was excited to find this old photo, despite the long distance and somewhat blurred image, was that I hadn’t counted this species among my list of bird species that I’ve photographed. I keep a list, and try to add to it whenever I get the chance, and I’m now up to 276 species.

I maintain a manual list here, and a while ago I started work on a version with a database of all my photos behind it. The new version isn’t fully populated yet, so most of the links lead to empty pages, and the page design needs to be made a bit more fancy, but you can see where it’s going if you click on some of these species: Bell miner, Crimson rosella, Little wattlebird, New Holland honeyeater, Pied oystercatcher. It’s going to be a bit of work adding in all of my photos…

New content today:

Ethics morning tea

It rained all day again today, which was good in terms of the climate, but bad in terms of getting stuff done. Normally I walk to my Wednesday Ethics class, but this morning I drove, since it’s a solid half hour walk and would have been very unpleasant in heavy rain.

The topic was more on inverting sentences, like last week, only this time we considered negative sentences like “No lions are eagles”, which inverts to “No eagles are lions”. The inverted sentences last week changed from true to false, but these ones stay true when inverted. So we now had a second rule. Then we discussed how useful this is, realising that many sentences can be converted to an “All * are *” or “No * are *” form. I thought this topic was a bit abstract when I read the teacher’s notes, but the kids seemed to follow it okay.

After the class there was a morning tea meeting for the ethics teachers at the school. We don’t really meet much, so this is a good chance to catch up and share stories about our classes, and get news from our coordinator about the progress of classes at the school, and plans for recruiting new volunteers and so on. I stayed for a couple of hours before realising if I stayed any longer I’d have to pay for parking, so I dashed off home.

This afternoon I mostly wrote up another post for 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe, but I haven’t quite finished it tonight, so I’ll do that and post it tomorrow.

New content today:

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: