Proof 33/100 – almost a third done!

I finished off the next Proof that the Earth is a Globe, and have just posted it. It’s one of the more basic ones in my list, but it took a long time to write and make the diagrams for. And there’s a surprising corollary at the end of it. I completed it several hours ago, but wanted to wait until after dinner to post it.

My wife and I went out for pizza tonight at our favourite pizza place, a 15 minute walk or so from where we live. It’s a little suburban place run by a guy and his wife from Lipari, in the Aeolian Islands of Italy. He always greets us in Italian as we arrive, and she has a chat with us in between serving tables. They have checked tablecloths, and photos of Italy on the walls, and a giant poster of Sophia Loren eating a bowl of spaghetti on one wall. We’ve been going here for years, and always go back because the food is good and the atmosphere is casual and friendly – it feels like visiting relatives, not a restaurant.

Anyway, when you see the post, you’ll understand why I wanted to wait until after dinner to post it.

New content today:

Arts & Crafts Market

Sunday was cool and a bit rainy in the morning, but fined up during the day. My wife wanted to go check out a new market that we hadn’t been to before, dedicated to arts and crafts, at Gymea, a suburb in the south of Sydney. A friend of mine who used to live in the area told me that the venue used to be an old heritage estate, with a house and large grounds, but fenced off and inaccessible, with a bit of a spooky reputation. But in the 90s they opened it up to the public and turned the house into an arts centre. It has a gallery and studios where they hold classes in painting, pottery, and so on.

The market had stalls both inside the gallery and spilling out all over the lawn, with maybe a hundred or so different stalls. There was also a stage with a band playing live music, and a small cluster of food stalls. Several other people had brought small dogs, so Scully got to meet some of them.

Hazelhurst market

After browsing around all the stalls, we sought some lunch, heading a block over to Gymea’s shopping strip, where we found a place called The Portuguese Bakery. Figuring this was… wait for it… a Portuguese bakery, we grabbed a table and got some savoury pastries for lunch. Of course they had the well known Portuguese egg custard tarts, so I had to try one.

The Portuguese Bakery

But wait, there’s more! When we’d visited Portugal earlier this year, naturally we tried tarts in many places. All the bakeries there make them. But they make them all in the very traditional way – flaky pastry base, filled with custard. They were great, but quite similar to one another. But the great thing about a traditional baker emigrating to Australia is that they start to incorporate the local tastes into their products. They had not only traditional tarts, but also passionfruit, orange, raspberry, and fig custard tarts!

You would never see such sacrilege in Portugal, but here it makes sense. Passionfruit in particular is used a lot in baking and desserts, and marrying it with a custard tart turned out to be a genius level inspiration. Because I had one, and it had a layer of fresh passionfruit pulp under the custard, which added a pleasing fruity tang to complement the sweetness of the custard. The Portuguese may deny it, but I think this creation is even better than the traditional version. It was that good.

We got home in the mid afternoon and relaxed a bit, before taking Scully out for a run around the local park and chasing some tennis balls. And that about filled out the day!

New content today:

Caught in the rain

Housework this morning – cleaning the bathroom, shower cubicle, vacuuming the carpet. Then I spent the rest of the morning making tomorrow’s Darths & Droids strip, after last night’s writing session.

After lunch I took Scully for a walk while my wife went off to an appointment. We went for a longish walk around the neighbourhood, up and down several of the hills, through a park, past a favourite bakery, and then back along the harbour shore to complete a big loop. Unfortunately I hadn’t counted on the weather, as it began raining when we were most of the way outbound, and I hadn’t brought anything for wet weather. We sought shelter under someone’s carport for a while during the heaviest part, and I checked the rain radar on my phone to see how long it might last. But eventually we just had to push through it and walk in the rain, thankfully a bit lighter, but heavy enough to make us moderately wet.

But the good thing about this sort of weather is you can get dramatic photos:

Scully: rain mood

This was one shot of many – it’s hard to get Scully to pose and sit still for more than a few seconds!

Tonight for dinner my wife and I went out to Via Napoli, a pizza place a short drive away, one of only a handful of places in Australia certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana as making true Neapolitan pizzas. They are really good, and they had a special “10 cheeses” pizza tonight, which we had to try. It was amazing. (Unfortunatey we tucked into it before I thought to take a photo…)

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Bird photo walk

This morning I took a drive to Sydney’s northern beach suburbs, specifically to Narrabeen, where there is a large lagoon. There is a walking track all the way around the lagoon, over 8 km long. I didn’t walk the whole thing, but rather only a small section on the southern shore, passing through some bushland. I took my camera and longest lens, prepared to photograph birds.

Near the car park were several ducks. These are Pacific black ducks hybridised with introduced mallards. Mallards are much more aggressive breeders and hybridise readily with the native ducks. This is a concern for local wildlife experts, because it’s diluting the pure Pacific duck genotype, and may lead to the elimination of the Pacific black duck as a species.

Pacific black duck x Mallard

On the water were some black swans. Fortunately these don’t hybridise with the introduced mute swans that can be found in some places.

Black swans

The next bird I spotted was one I haven’t photographed before, a sacred kingfisher. Unfortunately I only saw it in the distance through dense foliage, and my camera refused to focus on it, so I had to fiddle with manual focus. This was the only photo I managed to get. Still, that’s another one added to my list!

Sacred kingfisher

Next is an Australian king parrot, this one a male, distinguished by the red head. The females look similar, but have a green head. These are moderately large parrots – larger than most species apart from the cockatoos. They are usually found in mated pairs, so there was probably a female hanging around somewhere out of sight. They’re very conspicuous. There’s a mated pair living in the park across the street from my home.

Australian king parrot, male

This is an Eastern yellow robin. These are fairly common, but tricky to photograph as they flit about a lot, and don’t sit in one spot very long. I have a few photos of these guys, but this might be the best shot I’ve achieved.

Eastern yellow robin

And finally, back at the water, were some little pied cormorants. These are pretty common and easy to photograph. I often see some around the harbour shore close to my home.

Little pied cormorant

After completing my bird trek, I drove to Broomfields Pies, a place I’d found by searching for pie shops, seeking a new meat pie experience for lunch. The place had a high Google reviews rating, and the menu on the website looked very intriguing. I was hungry after my walk and looking forward to it, but when I got there I found the place was in the middle of an industrial park, and it was just a wholesale bakery without any retail shopfront. The front door was locked, despite it being the middle of the day, and nobody answered the door buzzer. It looks like I have a habit of driving to places in industrial parks that aren’t open.

So instead I hopped back in the car and drove a few suburbs over to another pie place that I’d been to just once before, and wanted to go back to. I had a satay chicken and a Mexican beef pie – they were good!

This afternoon I spent going through my bird photos, processing, uploading, and entering them into my bird photo database, punctuated by taking Scully to the dog park for some exercise.

New content today:

Holiday Monday

Today was Labour Day, a public holiday in New South Wales (the other states of Australia all have different public holidays – it’s weird, I know). So I spent much of the day out with my wife and Scully. We drove to a rural area on the edge of Sydney, to visit a good bakery we know and get some lunch there. And to stop at a couple of parks on the way there and back to exercise Scully.

The bakery had a special pie today: “USA pie”. It was a smoky barbecue beef brisket and mashed potato pie. I tried it, and it was delicious.

This afternoon and evening I’ve been doing more coding work, this time on the mezzacotta Insult Generator, which we’ve now re-themed as a generator for fantasy insults suitable for use in Dungeons & Dragons games when casting the bard spell Vicious Mockery. Andrew C. did much of the CSS work, and Ian B. contributed cool artwork for us:

Bard mocking

It’s now ready to go live, so we proudly present: Mockery Most Vicious!

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Summery Friday

It was hot today: 33.5°C in Sydney. Summer has definitely arrived early. Not only is it unusually warm, but much of south-east Australia is in the worst drought in recorded history. Several towns are in imminent danger of their water supplies running completely dry. Dubbo, a large regional town announced upgrading to Level 4 water restrictions this week, which makes showers longer than 5 minutes illegal and all watering of lawns illegal. Sydney is currently on Level 1 water restrictions but it probably won’t be long before we start climbing the levels too.

Another big fear is bushfires. As the weather heats up towards summer, the dry vegetation all over south-eastern Australia is going to be at great risk. It’s been a couple of decades since the last disastrous level fires with tens of lives lost, but everyone is nervous about this summer.

I stayed in out of the heat today and tended to a stack of odd jobs I had piled up – literally – on my desk. I sorted through the pile of papers and paid some bills, filed some documents, organised things needed for my upcoming trip to Germany, and collated data collected from the laser experiment during my last school science visit. I calculated the wavelengths of the lasers we used from the interference patterns the kids traced and put it into a slideshow to show them on my next visit. It turned out that their sketching skills were not great, with some individual wavelengths being out by almost 100 nanometres, but luckily the averages of three measurements made with different slit configurations turned out to be within 9 nm (or under 2%) in each case. A good result, if honestly more by luck than careful measurement!

For dinner tonight my wife and I went to a French crepe place that we discovered recently. It’s run by four French immigrants who loved everything about Australia, except for the fact that they couldn’t find good crepes anywhere, so they decided to start their own restaurant. Both the savoury galettes and dessert crepes are really good, washed down with imported French cider. And outdoor seating, so Scully is allowed to sit with us.

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:

Spring cleaning

Today was an extra heavy housework day. I hired a carpet cleaning machine from the local hardware store, picking it up first thing this morning. Before using it, I did an extra thorough vacuum cleaning to remove as much dirt as possible. Then it was filling up the machine with hot water and carpet shampoo, and using it to go over the whole house (well, except the kitchen and bathroom and laundry, which don’t have carpet). It leaves the carpet slightly damp, so it was time to throw open all the windows for a cross breeze to help it dry out. But it removes a lot of gunk from the carpet – the retrieved water in the collecting tank was almost black. It’s hard work – I’d like to clean the carpet like this more often, but only do it a few times a year. It took a few hours and I was dripping with sweat by the end of it.

After all that hard work I treated myself to a nice lunch at a local pub. They have a chicken schnitzel that is really good.

In the afternoon I had to clean out the carpet cleaner and then take it back to the hardware store. On that trip I decided to buy some timber shelving so that I could install a few extra shelves in the kitchen cupboard that we use to hold mugs and glassware. The cupboards have two shelves, far enough apart that we can stack mugs and glasses two high on each shelf, with room to spare. I realised it would be better to have extra shelves, then we could spread the mugs and glasses out and not have to stack them on top of each other. I don’t own a saw, so I had the hardware store cut the timber to size, and they did a pretty good job. Now I just need to drill some shelf peg holes. I do have a drill, but I may need to go back and a buy a bit of the right size.

Phew.

For dinner I cooked a Thai green curry with various vegetables: cauliflower, broccolini, pumpkin, red capsicum (red pepper, for non-Australians), onions. I thought it turned out pretty well.

New content today:

First day of spring

It’s officially spring and the weather was very spring-like, with warm sunshine drying up the rain of the past few days. I spent much of the day out with my wife and Scully, enjoying the fresh air. We went to two different parks to let Scully run around and chase tennis balls, and stopped off for lunch at a bakery where we hadn’t been before. It was pretty good! I wrote up a review for my food blog: Snot Block & Roll.

That was about it, really, apart from a bit of housecleaning and a relaxing evening watching episodes of Northern Exposure. Wife and I decided to start rewatching the series form Episode 1 again. Tomorrow I’m planning to photograph the latest batch of comic scripts that I’ve been working on the past few days, so that’s a big day of creative work ahead.

New content today:

Lunch

It was supposed to rain today. The forecast was for 25 mm of rain, which is a lot. As it turned out, there was barely a spot, and much of the day was partly sunny. Even when it’s supposed to rain, it seems the weather is determined to keep Sydney dry.

I spent much of the day out, returning the lasers and diffraction slits I borrowed to the Sydney University Physics Department, and then having lunch with a friend nearby. Here’s the main Quadrangle at Sydney University:

Quad

We ate at The Pie Tin in Newtown, which has delicious meat pies (and vegetarian ones too). After having a savoury, I eyed the sweet pies. They had a cherry ripe pie, with bits of Cherry Ripe bars in it. Cherry Ripe is an Australian chocolate bar, and one of the most enduringly popular bars in the country. It’s made of cherries, coconut, and chocolate. So a cherry ripe pie sounds pretty good.

But next to the cherry ripe pie was a “cherry, chocolate, and coconut pie”. I kid you not. The exact same three ingredients. But it didn’t have bits of Cherry Ripe bar in it – it was just cherry, chocolate, and coconut. To be fair, the two pies looked very different, with the cherry ripe one appearing to have a lot more chocolate, while the other was more of a coconut cream topping. Anyway, I selected the less chocolatey one (as I’m trying not to eat too much chocolate), and it was very good.

Cherry chocolate coconut pie

I stopped off in the city on the way home to do a bit of shopping. Then this afternoon my wife and I took Scully for a walk and exercise at the dog park.

Um, and we watched the last of the first set of 10 episodes of Disenchantment. We were a bit behind on watching this series, but it turns out our timing is good, as the next series of episodes is released in September. So it’s been a bit of a wash as far as creating stuff today, but sometimes you just need a day off!

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