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:

A warm autumn Thursday

Firstly, I forgot to post this photo I took yesterday on my walk home from the shops:

Dream home

This is a house I walk past occasionally. If I had unlimited money, this would be high on my list of houses to buy. Tennis court, lovely old house itself, and look at that view!

It was warm today. Earlier in the week we had some cold weather – the first truly cold weather since before summer, as we now slide into autumn. The maximum temperature on Saturday in Sydney was only 17.9°C, which is really winter-like conditions. It’s slowly been climbing as the week progresses, and today we reached 32.1°C, with 35°C forecast for tomorrow. So summer hasn’t quite released its grip yet, but winter is definitely on the way.

This morning I made use of the fine day to play 9 holes of golf at my nearest local course. I went really well today, equalling my record best score at that course. I was very pleased with my tee shot at the 4th hole:

Tee shot, hole 4

That’s my ball there on the left, right on the green! The tee position is just below the wooden bench in the background, and you have to hit the shot over the wooded creek gully that you can see below. I’ve lost several balls in that gully, but not today! Putting was difficult though, because the course had done what I learnt later is called “aerating the greens” – they punch a grid of small holes in the surface and lay sand over the top. This is part of the course maintenance and my friend tells me it’s done twice a year, and the greens take a week or so to recover. But it meant that today they were very lumpy and inconsistent, so I had trouble putting, although I made up for it with decent long shots. I ended up 3-putting this hole for a bogey 4.

My wife’s work is adjusting to work-from-home conditions due to COVID-19, and her job-share partner has been told to not come in this week (as she has a very long commute on public transport), so my wife is working longer hours than normal this week (as she only has a short walk to the office). She normally takes Scully in to the office (the staff all love her), but Scully gets restless with the extra hours, so I’ve been going in to pick her up around lunch time. On the way home today we stopped to have a bit of a play in the park.

Scully in the park

Apart from all this, the main thing I did today was work on more Darths & Droids strips. I wrote a couple of new strips and assembled a couple that I’d written yesterday. We’re getting a pretty good buffer for the new movie now.

New content today:

No-photo Sunday

I woke up a bit before the 05:30 alarm this morning – I always wake up just before whenever I set an alarm, it’s a weird sense that I have. My plan was to head to the beach before sunrise and take some photos.

But I could hear heavy rain falling outside. I quickly checked the rain radar on my phone, and saw that multiple rain bands were blowing up from the south, and it was likely to be raining for a few more hours. So I decided to abandon photography plans, turned over, and went back to sleep.

We (me, my wife, and Scully) all slept until after 8 o’clock! We haven’t had a good lie-in for ages, and I think we all got good value out of the extra hours of sleep. And it was still raining when we got up, so it looks like abandoning the photo expedition was the right call.

My wife took Scully out for a couple of trips today – to the city to check out The Rocks Market, and then to her mother’s place to visit. This gave me some time to concentrate on writing a new batch of Irregular Webcomic strips. The goal was to write four weeks worth (20+ strips) in one day, but that’s very ambitious given how long it takes to come up with each joke. I didn’t make it in the end, but I got close. Hopefully I can polish off the last few tomorrow morning and then get stuck into photographing them.

New content today:

Rain and more rain

It rained a lot today. I sent much of the day drawing comics at home, heading out at lunch to get some fish & chips. Although it’s only a 10 minute walk and I carried an umbrella, I was pretty wet by the time I got home.

The comic I was drawing is now complete, and I’ll be publishing it tomorrow – but for now it’s a surprise.

This afternoon I took Scully to the dog park, despite the rain. This time I wore a raincoat with hood, rather than use an umbrella. Scully had her doggy raincoat on. She doesn’t like the rain. She ran after the tennis ball a few times, but then decided she was wet enough and simply turned and walked back to the car. I had to coax her over to the park with some treats, but she really wasn’t into it.

Only a couple of the regulars at the dog park showed up in the rain, and they took a short walk before heading off, since the rain was moderately heavy. It was then that I realised that even though I was fairly dry under my raincoat, the coat itself was dripping wet… and I’d have to climb into the car to drive home. I decided to take it off and toss it into the boot before dashing into the car myself without the wet coat on. By which time Scully (in the passenger seat) had shaken the water off her and coated the interior of the car in spray…

New content today:

Ethics and rain

Rain came in overnight, and it was still heavy this morning. We’re still at a point where when the weather person on the nightly news says it’ll rain, the main newsreader replies, “Good news!” SO although it was pretty heavy, it was most welcome.

It meant I had to drive to my Ethics class though, instead of walking like I usually do. I mean, I could have walked, but I would have been pretty wet by the time I got there and that wouldn’t have been fun.

Because of last week’s Year 6 camp, this was only the second week of lessons I’ve had with this class, and I was still busy learning the names of the kids. I think after today I have about half of them memorised and matched to faces. I remember the distinctive individuals first, and end up struggling with the last few who look somewhat similar.

The syllabus repeats every two years, so I’m now teaching the same material I did in 2018 (to kids who haven’t done it yet). Years 5 and 6 get the same material, so Year 5 classes are also learning the same stuff this year, and both years get the odd-year syllabus next year. I think this class might be a little more challenging behaviour-wise than last year’s students. There are a few boys who are chatty when they should be listening.

One of the girls looked rather sick, with what looked like a pretty severe cold. I asked her a couple of times if she was okay, and she insisted she was. But honestly if I was a parent and my kid looked like that before school, there’s no way I’d send them in. After class I informed the front office and asked them to notify her regular class teacher and keep an eye on her for the rest of the day.

Before heading home I popped into the supermarket near the school to get milk and bread. I was amazed to see that several items had sold out or were close to – a result of the near-panic levels of buying that people here in Sydney are doing to stockpile supplies in case the COVID-19 coronavirus gets to a point where people need to start staying home for weeks at a time.

Panic buy: toilet paper

Toilet paper seems to be the number one item that people want, for some reason I can’t quite fathom. Paper towels and tissues were also completely sold out.

Panic buy: rice

Rice makes more sense at least – at least it’s edible.

Panic buy: long life milk

Long-life milk. There was a little bit of skim milk and goat’s milk left.

Panic buy: canned vegetables

Canned vegetables.

Panic buy: flour

Flour. There’s mostly just a bit of bread-making flour left. I guess most people don’t bake bread at home. Although maybe they should consider it.

Panic buy: bottled water

Bottled water I don’t understand. There isn’t going to be a disruption to the water supply. Some people seem to be preparing for nuclear war or something.

Panic buy: eggs

Most puzzling: eggs. Who’s coming in and buying 8 cartons of eggs today, thinking they’ll last for two or three months???

It’s interesting because there aren’t any actual shortages of any of these items. All these shelves will be restocked overnight, and will keep being restocked for the foreseeable future. At some point people will realise they have a spare room full of toilet paper and rice, and there’s still plenty of both on the supermarket shelves. They don’t need to hoard tons of the stuff – they just need enough supplies to last a couple of weeks of self-isolation if they get the virus.

Interesting times…

New content today:

Busywork

I did a bunch of small odd jobs around the house today. One was drilling some holes to mount a kitchen gadget on the wall of the kitchen. I’ve been putting this off for a while because I hate drilling into brick – it’s really hard without a hammer drill, and I don’t want to buy a hammer drill for a couple of holes. I took my time, letting the drill bit cool down between roughly 30-second drilling sessions. It eventually made holes deep enough and I screwed the gadget to the wall, clearing off some benchtop space that’s been occupied for several weeks.

I did some ISO Standards work on a photography standard that requires reading and commenting on. I did a bunch of configuration for my photography web shop. I did some prep work for my school science visit on Monday.

I went for a walk and saw some more storm damaged trees. Over by the creek not far away from my place, two enormous trees, about 30-40 metres tall, had fallen over.

Storm damaged trees

These were huge trees, but fortunately they fell in the middle of a park, away from any houses or power lines.

Oh, a snippet of chat conversation I had with friends today:

SI: Can they get any genes from the bones or is that just Jurassic Park nonsense?

Me: No, DNA doesn’t survive that long.

SI: Oh even in the movie it was inside a mosquito in amber or something I think?

Me: Yeah. It’d still decay in there. Google says DNA base pair bonds have a half life of 520 years. So after 1000 years you only have a quarter of the genome left. After roughly a million years you only have a handful of intact bonds left – not enough to work with.

DMc: What if the DNA has been travelling at relativistic speeds though?

Me: Well yes, samples extracted from dinosaurs who travelled at 0.9999c to a distant star and back should be fine.

DMc: Cool, my startup idea is still feasible.

New content today:

Calmer weather

The storm petered out overnight, and today was a mostly fine day, with a bit of sun. We were supposed to get a little more rain, but it seemed to decide we’d had enough.

When I went out for a walk, it was clear that a lot of damage had been done. There were small branches down all over the places, the streets littered with twigs and leaves and water-swept debris around the drains.

I took Scully to the dog park this afternoon to stretch her legs after being copped up yesterday. And we were confronted by this:

Storm damaged fig tree

This giant Moreton Bay fig tree had dropped a branch. Moreton Bay figs are enormous trees, and this branch was the size of a small tree itself. It landed on that park bench, which is where I sometimes sit while Scully plays in the park. Fortunately nobody was there when it fell.

Storm damaged fig tree

You can see more benches here on the right – the bench in the first photo is under the leaves.

Storm damaged fig tree

Two large branches fell, plus a lot of smaller ones which you can see scattered around the park. In good news though, you can see that the grass is now lush and green after the rain. A couple of weeks ago it was all dead and brown.

Work-wise, today I mostly did more photo processing, to get an order ready for matted prints for the market stall on 1 March. I’ve now submitted that order, plus orders for the matts, and large cellophane bags to slip them into for sale.

Also, the school where I do my Science Club volunteering got in touch with me, with a timetable for my first visit – which is only a week away, on 17 February! I need to decide what experiment to do with the Science Club kids, and what topic to talk about to the kindergarten to Year 2 classes. I’ll be doing Years 3-6 on a later visit in March.

New content today:

Rain rain rain rain rain

Today was all about the weather. The Bureau of Meteorology forecast 150-200 mm of rain in Sydney. Since midnight we’ve had 193 mm, and it’s only 8:30pm, and it’s still pouring in absolute torrents outside. The total for the past 72 hours is 370 mm, and that will go up as the rain actually began less than 72 hours ago.

I spent some time processing more photos for printing for my market stall. But mostly just keeping an eye on the weather, and dealing with Scully wanting to go outside every half hour, only to realise it was pelting down once we get out there and wanting to come straight back in again.

On these expeditions outside, I go through the basement garage of our apartment block. This afternoon the rain turned it into an indoor swimming pool:

Flooded garage

Water was bubbling up out of the drain in the floor. There were streams of water running down the walls and across the floor of the garage. It ran through several car spaces owned by neighbours, but thankfully our car space stayed dry. Other residents were down there moving belongings out of the water, and discussing the weather.

When I got outside to the street, at some point the wind had done this:

Tree down

The water had weakened the soil around the roots and the wind blew this tree through the fence and on to the street. Here’s a view from the other side:

Tree down

The tree was still like this, completely unattended a couple of hours later. Emergency services are stretched today, with hundreds of calls for help across Sydney. A few cars have been crushed by falling trees, trapping occupants, which obviously take a higher priority. And some people have ignored warnings about driving through floodwater and had to be rescued. A lot of trees and power lines are down, and several suburbs are blacked out.

State Emergency Services have also issued flood evacuation orders for resident in four Sydney suburbs. Residents have been ordered to leave their homes and seek safer ground, with the warning that if they stay they will be trapped without water or power and it may be too dangerous to rescue them. Evacuation centres have been set up.

The bushfires that we had just weeks ago affected a lot of people, but nobody in Sydney was affected by anything but the smoke. This rain is welcome, as it’s put out a lot of the fires, and is refilling our severely depleted dams, but it’s also causing direct danger to city residents. Oh, yeah, I also braved the rain to do some grocery shopping today, and the traffic was awful. Better to stay at home on a day like this.

New content today:

Writing and bagging

Saturday, so there was a bit of housework today. And then I got stuck into packaging the greeting cards I’ve had printed, ready for selling at the market stall in March.

Greeting cards

This was the first batch of cards I had printed. The company I used had a website upload form for the images. It said it accepted image files and PDF files, and recommended PDF for anything with text. I used JPEGs for the front photos, and I made a PDF file for the back of the cards, showing my name and website info. But for some reason the back didn’t get printed! So I spent time today hand writing the photo subject, my name, and URL on the back of each card before bagging them with envelopes in sealable cellophane bags. It took a few hours, and I could tell I haven’t done that much handwriting in a long time by the way my wrist hurt by the end of it…

Bagging greeting cards

The other notable thing about today was the weather. We had a forecast of 150-200 mm of rain… but the morning was fine, and the sun even came out. The rain didn’t start until just a few minutes before midday. There were some heavy spurts, but generally it seems to have been less than expected – we’ve only had 26 mm so far (up to 9 pm). It may be heavy in the next few hours. Tomorrow we’re forecast to have another 150-200 mm. Wollongong, 100 km south of Sydney is forecast to have 200-300 mm of rain tomorrow.

I took Scully out for a walk mid-afternoon during a dry spell. The clouds were pretty dramatic.

Storm clouds over Sydney

We went down to Manns Point, which is a short drive from home. There’s a boat ramp here, and a guy was fishing nearby. Then there’s a short walk along the shore to Greenwich Baths. We managed to get a bit of a walk and play in before the rain returned.

Scully and the incoming storm

Unfortunately it returned sooner than I expected, and a lot heavier. We had to race back to the car and climb in, dripping wet, before heading home.

New content today:

Portfoliating

Not much to report today. I basically spent the whole day processing photos from the original camera RAW files into final images at several print resolutions, to build myself a portfolio of image files ready to print. This is in preparation to launch my photo print web shop.

Apart from that, it was very rainy today. Very rainy. It started at 10pm last night, and by 5pm this evening we’d had 140 mm. It’s since stopped, but tomorrow we are forecast to have even more than that.

It’s good, because we’re still technically in a severe drought, and it’s put out several of the bushfires that were still burning around the state. A lot of rain has fallen in Sydney’s dam catchment area too, which should hopefully see our water storage levels go up from around 42% to somewhere near 70%, according to the water authorities.

New content today: