Long slog

So yesterday I intended to write at least three Darths & Droids strips, and got zero done. Rinse, repeat. I did however, get some story planning done, and discuss some plot points with fellow writers. So that wasn’t a total loss.

What did I get done today? Hmm. Oh that’s right, I played golf this morning with a friend, at the pitch ‘n’ putt course (all holes par 3). After last time I lost badly with a matchplay/skins handicap of 16, my friend granted me an increase to 17. But today I played a lot better, and ended up winning 12-6. So next time we play there I’ll go back down to a handicap of 16. My total round for 18 holes was 79 strokes, which was 2 better than my previous record of 81. So I was pretty pleased with that!

I didn’t get home until after lunch, so that’s where half my day went. I spent some time dealing with housework stuff – we had to buy a new vacuum cleaner because our old one broke the other day, and I had some unboxing and then discarding of packaging and the old vacuum cleaner to do.

And there was some Scully walking… in the rain, as the weather closed in a bit after lunch. Walking a dog in nice weather is fine, but having to do it in inclement, cold weather is a bit of a chore.

This evening I’m playing some Codenames online with some friends. My team-mate just clued “LINUS 2” and I guessed the words PUMPKIN and VAN (from the grid of 25 words), and got them correct. And both of our opponents were absolutely mystified as to how I managed to guess the correct words!

New content today:

Fortnightly games night

It’s the Friday of our fortnightly board games night, and I am currently in the middle of a game of Bärenpark as I type this up, via Tabletop Simulator as we hold it virtually during COVID lockdown.

This morning I did a weekly grocery shop. I’ve scaled down the shopping list after realising that I was buying too much food for us to eat in a week, so it was a smaller shop than it has been the last few weeks. After that I spent the rest of the morning photographing the new batch of Irregular Webcomic! comics that I finished writing last night, which took up until lunch time.

This afternoon I went out with my wife and Scully to check out the new premises of her doggy daycare and grooming place, which is moving this weekend. It’s near a kitchen supply shop, and I went in to buy a new kitchen knife. Turned out they had a huge sale on knife sets, so I ended up getting a set of 6 knives and matching knife block. I’m quite excited, as we’ve only ever had cheap knives before, and now I feel like a proper chef with a fancy set of knives.

New content today:

Goldfish updates

This morning I took Scully for a walk and along the way passed a banksia tree which had a couple of rainbow lorikeets feeding on the flowers. I was pretty close, and wondered if I could get close enough to take a decent photo with my phone (which like all phones doesn’t have much telephoto capability). I was within a step or two of the tree and aiming the phone, but I scared the birds away. But I was reasonably quick on the shutter button, and managed to get this.

Taking flight

Not too bad for an opportunistic shot.

I spent some time updating the Magic: the Gathering Goldfish Draft website that I maintain, adding/updating results from tournaments and adding a bunch of the card lists we used. You can now see the evolution of the card list as we gained experience with various combinations and the potential for ludicrous scores. The recent tournament we did (mentioned here when I was actively playing it out) now has the scores in.

My score was 10148.9 points, or 7.775×10148 in standard scientific notation. You might think this is a pretty high score, but that only managed to place me sixth out of eight players. The winning score was about 10↑↑↑4 (using Knuth’s up-arrow notation for large numbers). Suffice to say this number is so large that it’s impossible to write it down in the form 10101010… because the number of 10s you’d need to add to that continued exponentiation itself is too large to write down.

Yeah, this is pretty nerdy stuff.

New content today:

Late Monday

I got stuck into a few cut-throat games of Codenames last night with friends via online chat, and before I knew it the evening was over and I hadn’t written my Monday blog post. So here we are doing it over breakfast the next morning.

On Monday I went for a bit of a walk in the morning, around the local shops. I noticed some places newly closed and the premises up for lease. I hope the COVID restrictions don’t cause more shops/cafes/restaurants to go out of business. There were also some places renovating and fitting out for new openings, including our vet, which is moving premises in a week or so. Their old building is being demolished to be redeveloped – almost certainly into new apartments. The building never ceases in Sydney, as more housing is needed for the ever-growing population.

I took a photo of what may be the most hipster barber shop ever:

Most hipster barber ever?

Last time I did grocery shopping, I noticed that the supermarket was still selling hot cross buns. (I actually think they sell them year round now, because they’re so popular, rather than just around Easter.) I bought some, because they’re so good. In the past I only ever had them warmed up with butter melting on them. But inspired by Japanese melon-pan ice cream, I’ve taken to heating them up and then putting on a scoop of ice cream, which works amazingly well.

But in the first post-Easter COVID-lockdown-approved visit my wife made to her mother’s place, she came home with some chocolate Easter eggs. So I’ve been trying heating the buns with a chocolate egg inside, which melts and makes a delicious filling. And then I recently bought some bananas…

Hot Cross Banana Split

Behold the Hot Cross Banana Split! I heated the bun with the chocolate egg in it – so it’s all melty. Then added sliced banana and a scoop of ice cream.

Hot Cross Banana Split

Close the lid and squash it all together…

Hot Cross Banana Split

Oh my…. Highly recommended!

New content today:

Banana bread

I was just trying to remember what I did today, and nothing came to mind… It was one of those days. Goofed around a lot. Well, I cleaned the bathroom window flyscreen and sill. Exciting.

I baked a loaf of banana bread, to use up some old spotty bananas. My wife suggested adding some yoghurt, so I Googled up a recipe that included yoghurt in it. It turned out nice – better than the last time I made banana bread.

I’ve been playing the game Wavelength with some friends via Discord. One guy coded it up as a Discord bot, and it works really well. He’s also coded Codenames into the same bot, so we have a couple of things to play when a few of us are hanging out in chat. It’s a good way to keep social during this virus distancing stuff.

New content today:

Goldfishing

I’ve been busy today participating in a Goldfish Draft Magic: the Gathering tournament with my friends. This is a tournament format invented by one of my friends, in which we draft cards (a bit like a normal Magic draft), then build a deck and calculate our score based on how much damage we can do to an unresponsive opponent in 7 turns. That is each player’s score – we don’t actually play any games of Magic against one another.

We’ve done this style of tournament several times in the past and it’s always a blast. But it’s truly mind-bending. My score in the last game was 3.75×1040, and I’m pretty sure that was a losing score.

Yes… in fact after checking with my friends, we have records that the winning score in that tournament was approximately 10↑↑↑7, where the arrows are Knuth’s up-arrow notation. Calculating one’s score usually involves a spreadsheet. Yes, we do this for fun. Yes, we’re nerds.

I also wrote some new comic scripts for Darths & Droids. And did various cooking and housework stuff.

New content today:

More Pirates!

Firstly, Scully is feeling much better today. Her appetite is definitely back, thanks to the barbecue chicken the vet suggested we try giving to her. She seems to like it a lot better than the plain boiled chicken we’d been trying. She’s also active and behaving like normal too. So hopefully she’s well on the road to recovery.

We went for a bit of a walk this morning, a big loop that we commonly do, up and down some hills, through a big park, and then back along the waterfront. Here’s Scully at the marina.

Scully at the marina

She has several interesting bandanas. I think she has a bigger wardrobe than I do!

This afternoon my wife and I played Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates! again. This time she’d got the hang of it and the game was much closer. We both ended up on 37 points, and I had to check the rulebook for the tie-breaker condition. And using that… she won!

The other main thing I did today was cooking. I made another loaf of bread using the “sourdough light rye” bread mix packet, and it turned out great again. Scully’s vet had also suggested we try white fish if the barbecue chicken didn’t work, so I’d bought a fillet of barramundi yesterday. Given she liked the chicken, I now had a piece of fish to spare. I don’t normally cook with meat or fish since my wife is vegetarian, but now I had to think of something. I decided to make myself a Thai green curry with fish pieces, broccoli, and green peas, with some jasmine rice. And oh my goodness it turned out delicious. (I also made my wife a vegetable omelette for her dinner.)

New content today:

Pirates!

My wife surprised me with a new board game today! Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates! This is a game we saw being demoed at the Spiel game fair in Essen last October, and at the time we thought it looked cool and interesting.

We played it this afternoon, and it worked pretty well with 2 players, although I expect it’ll have a bit more strategic depth with more players.

Extraordinary Adventures: Pirates!

This is the board at the end of the game. I also took some photos mid-game which had more interesting board states, but the shafts of sunlight made the photos way too contrasty.

I also spent more time trying t compile the code I was struggling with yesterday. I seem to have made some progress, managing to compile versions of the required libraries and run a test program, but I still haven’t integrated them into the program I want to compile.

This afternoon my wife and I also had a FaceTime chat with her nephew, who is currently working in Paris, and of course dealing with the COVID lockdown restrictions there – which began just a couple of weeks after he started his new job there! He seems to be going okay though, having lots of Zoom meetings with his new co-workers.

New content today:

Virtual games Friday

I’m trying to go grocery shopping less often, so we’ve run out of bread at home… the perfect opportunity to bake some home made bread! General flour has been sold out at the supermarket the past few times I’ve gone (and I’ve heard from my friends that yeast is impossible to find too), but last time they had a boxed kit for making sourdough light rye, with all the ingredients included, including yeast. So I bought that. And today was the day to try it out!

Baking bread: kneading

Kneading bread dough is hard work! All I had to do was open a pre-mixed flour sachet and add a couple of spoons of yeast from another sachet, add water, and start mixing. Then you have to knead the dough for “at least 10 minutes”. The pack says the more you knead it the better the bread will be. So I did it for a little longer, but honestly I was tired of kneading so I stopped and let the dough rise.

Baking bread: first rising

It said to put the dough in a “warm place”. The weather was cool and I was wondering how to do this, so I searched online and found lots of advice, such as “on top of the fridge” (impossible as there’s only a few centimetres of clearance above mine). But one that worked was “in the oven”. It turns out my oven thermostat goes as low as 30°C, so I put it on for a minute to warm up and then turned it off and put the dough in, with a cup of hot water to provide moisture. It rose nicely.

Baking bread: second rising

After rising once for 40 minutes, you knead the dough again, shape it into your loaf, and then it rise again. This is after the second rising, and the dough has increased massively in size. It’s now ready to go into the oven for baking.

Baking bread: out of the oven

The baking time is surprisingly short (at least it was to me). 25 minutes and it looks like this. I was a bit concerned if it was baked all the way through.

Baking bread: slicing

But yep! It slices nicely and tastes delicious! And the first slice while it was still warm out of the oven, with melted butter… mmmm…

Well, it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought to make fresh bread! I think I’ll be doing this a bit from now on.

Besides making bread, I worked a bit on writing new Darths & Droids comics. And in the evening was fortnightly board games night, held virtually for the second time due to COVID restrictions. Last time we used Board Game Arena, but this time we had planned to do a Magic: the Gathering draft tournament, as mentioned the past couple of days. We drafted our decks asynchronously using a tool my friend wrote, and then built decks in Tabletop Simulator, which is an amazing virtual gaming tool that I only recently learnt about.

Dominaria draft deck

This is a screenshot from Tabletop Simulator showing my deck laid out. I actually drafted really badly. I played 5 games of the tournament during the virtual games night, and lost every single game. I’m pretty sure I’ll be coming dead last in this tournament. Ah well, at least it’s fun!

New content today:

Long walk in non-rain

I wanted to see if could play a round of golf this morning as part of my social distancing exercise, but the weather forecast was for up to 30mm of rain, with heavy falls at times. So I decided not to go to the golf course, and instead set out on a longish walk, with an umbrella.

As it turned out, it didn’t rain at all today… so I could have easily played a round of golf without weather problems. Oh well. I did put together this virtual photo tour of the parts of Sydney that I walked through today.

Also, here’s a photo of Scully helping me the other day to get my Lego photos done for Irregular Webcomic.

Scully helping with Lego

This afternoon I worked on finishing off writing annotations for the batch of comics.

Also, me and my gaming friends organised a Magic: the Gathering draft tournament, which we drafted today using a custom online web tool built by one of my friends. We’ll be building our decks and playing games remotely using Tabletop Simulator, as a replacement for face-to-face gaming. We drafted the Dominaria set from 2018, which we never managed to do at the time in cardboard format. I think I drafted a terrible deck, but I’m looking forward to playing it!

New content today: