No work Tuesday

Tuesdays are the days when I don’t have any classes on Outschool to teach, so they’re good days for me to go do other things. My golf friend suggested we go play at the pitch and putt course this morning. I got up early (6:30) and went straight out for my run, to get it out of the way before heading off to play golf. It was nice and cool that early, but my muscles obviously hadn’t warmed up after a night asleep and I didn’t do a very good time.

After breakfast, I headed out to the golf course. It was an overcast day, and rained a little as I drove there, but the rain held off for the rest of the day.

Overcast golf day

I scored 75, which was okay, but not as good as my best 71 on this course last time. Afterwards I went to the driving range next door to hit a bucket of balls. I started with a 9 iron and I was hitting the ball to the 100 metre marker, which I’m pretty happy with. I’m still finding my strength with full swings. I don’t think I’ve ever hit a 9 iron that far on an actual course. Then I switched to the driver and practised that for a while. It was a bit more erratic, but more consistent than I’ve been before, and I hit a few into the netting which is at 180 metres, but most didn’t quite reach that far.

After that I drove over to the pie shop at Collaroy for lunch. I sat and ate on a bench looking out over the beach. It’s usually a nice view, but was a bit grey with the overcast, and the surf was a bit brown with all the recent rain.

Later in the afternoon I relaxed a bit at home. For dinner I made pizza with mixed mushrooms. I decided to try hand stretching the dough to make the base instead of rolling it out, to see what difference that would make. And it turned out amazing! The rolled bases are very even, but hand stretching it made it thinner in the middle and puffier around the crust. So the centre cooked thin and crispy, and bubbled up like a proper pizzeria pizza. The difference was amazing, and my wife agreed it was much better than the rolled versions we’ve been having. So I guess from now on I’ll be hand stretching our pizza bases.

New content today:

The Wordle variant bandwagon

Like nearly everyone else, my friends and I have been playing Wordle and comparing notes each day. We were discussing the various variants that have popped up across the net, and someone suggested we should try to make a quantum version of it.

Lo and behold, a few hours later one of my friends had implemented Schrödle. It’s not available on a website – he implemented it as a game on our Discord bot. But here’s a (edited) screencap:

Schrödle game 1

The green/yellow/white marks describe a superposition of two different words. It’s possible for each letter to be white/white (present in neither word), white/yellow (present in one word, but in a different position), white/green (present in one word, in the correct position), yellow/yellow (present in both words, but in a different position for each), yellow/green (present in both words, in the correct position for one but not the other), or green/green (present in both words, in the correct position for both).

Eventually you guess one word correctly, at which point the wavefunction collapses, and the second word vanishes into the ether. And the cool thing is he implemented it with arbitrary word lengths:

Schrödle game 2

So after that quick implementation, we’ve been playing it all afternoon. Before you ask, I don’t think my friend has any plans to make a web implementation.

In other news, I set a new best time for my 2.5k run today: 12:03! I’ve set myself the goal of breaking 12 minutes. I thought it might take most of the year, but who knows… maybe I can get there by the end of January.

I spent some time today putting together the last in my series of private science lessons for a student on Outschool. She’s been homeschooling, but is starting up regular school this week, so her mother said they’d need to concentrate on that for a bit until they figure out if their schedule allows continuing with Outschool. It’s a bit sad because she’s been a great student, but hopefully school will give her more socialising and learning opportunities.

New content today:

Planning travel for 2023

I got an email this morning, from the convener of the ISO Photography standards committee, requesting feedback on a planning issue. We have a plenary meeting every two years, in which all of the different working groups get together for one big meeting. (Normally the digital photography and the other groups meet separately a few times a year each.) Anyway, the 2021 plenary was planned for Japan, but never happened because of COVID, and so it was decided to hold a plenary in 2022 in Japan – but now that has also been cancelled due to ongoing COVID travel issues. So now Japan is beginning planning to host a plenary meeting in 2023.

To this end, the email I got today asked me to fill in a form indicating which weeks were more or less convenient for me to attend. There was a list of 9 different weeks, ranging from the end of April to the end of June. And the request was to rate them all from A (most preferred) to E (least preferred). A 5 point scale!

I looked at my calendar for April-June 2023…. and surprisingly enough, it’s completely empty. So honestly it makes no difference whatsoever what week they choose. I even checked when the school holidays are, because it’s less convenient to travel when school is out, due to more families wanting to travel, but the nine weeks they picked line up exactly with the 9 weeks of second term, so there’s not even that to make any difference.

What else…? My wife and I did a long walk with Scully this morning. We started out and it was sunny. I put on sunscreen, and a hat, and sunglasses. But by the time we got home it was raining. It’s been a ridiculous summer, and there’s no sign of the rain and humidity going away.

New content today:

Nothing important happened today

There’s really not a huge amount to say about today. I slept in a bit after a late night last night playing games online with friends. I had breakfast, went for my run, did stretching exercises, had a shower, then got stuck into writing and making some new Darths & Droids comics. I got stuck with writer’s block for a few hours.

I took Scully for a walk when my wife went to the gym. I cooked baked Brussels sprouts, potatoes, and carrots for dinner, with a chilli garlic miso glaze.

And that was kind of my day. I think I’m a bit tired still from the late night. My plan is to relax a bit this evening and just watch some TV – something I hardly ever do.

New content today:

Proving the Earth is round again

Someone commented to me earlier this week about atmospheric scientists who had posted detection of the shockwave of the Hunga Tonga volcanic eruption in barometric pressure readings from weather stations. They suggested this would be a good opportunity to do a new article for 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe.

At first I thought it would take too much time, a resource I have little of these days with all my teaching commitments and trying to squeeze in making comics. But then I began to see more posts on Facebook and Twitter about the event, and they built up a compelling picture. The best thing was a video that a scientist had made showing the shockwave converging on the opposite side of the world. When I saw that I knew I had to write the article.

So yesterday I started work on it. But I really wanted to use that video, and so I wrote an email to the scientist and asked him for permission. And this morning he’d answered to say yes, so it was all systems go. So, here’s the article.

My wife and I went out for pizza tonight to our favourite pizza place. And tonight is virtual board games night with my friends.

New content today:

Some best times

The biggest news today was that the rain stopped, and… the sun came out! I’m honestly not sure if we’ve had any sunshine for the past week. But we had some today. And the humidity percentage actually dropped down as low as the 50s. So despite having a busy morning with two ethics classes, meaning I couldn’t do my daily run until lunch time, the weather was actually more pleasant than it has been for a while.

And my body seemed to take advantage of it. I ran a new best time for the 2.5k, of 12:12. Strava also told me that I clocked my best 1 km and best 1 mile efforts, at 4:22 and 7:38 respectively. So I felt pretty good about that!

That was really the most interesting thing today. Otherwise it was work on comics, cooking dinner, walking Scully, routine sort of stuff. I did start work on a little something which I want to keep secret for now, but which should hopefully be ready in the next day or two, at which point I’ll definitely let you know.

New content today:

Rain running, and ethics of extinction

Wednesday dawned cool, grey, and… wait for it… rainy. This has really been the “summer that never was”. I went for my 2.5k run in steady rain, because looking at the rain radar I didn’t have any confidence that the weather would be any better later on. I’ve been keeping track of the temperature and humidity when I do my runs. The temperature has mostly been around 25°C, give or take a few degrees, but check the humidity:

Humidity during my runs in January

Yes, it’s been 80% or above every day since 4 January, over two weeks. And into the 90s on several days. It’s not great weather for running!

I spent a few hours today writing the next week’s ethics lesson. The topic this week is extinction. I found a very cool film of the last known thylacine, which has been colourised recently by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. And it’s public domain, so I could use it during my classes.

This was taken in 1933, and the animal shown died in 1936. No living thylacine has been seen ever since.

The class asks questions about whether humans have a moral responsibility to try to save species form extinction. Even if it’s not our fault – say a species is dying off due to disease that has nothing to do with humanity. How can we balance the needs of humans against those of other species? We can’t save all species, so how do we prioritise which species to save? Should we save charismatic large species, or species that almost nobody knows about? Assuming we could do it successfully, should we reintroduce extinct species such as the thylacine by cloning?

Then this evening I had three classes in a row with this new material. Wednesday nights are always the most exhausting, as it’s three lessons without breathing space in between, and I’m having to adapt the class dynamically as I see how the kids react to the new questions.

New content today:


It was a cooler, rainy day today. By cooler I mean 24°C. But still over 90% humidity, so it felt a bit stifling. This morning, after my daily run, I wrote the rest of this week’s Irregular Webcomic! annotations.

At lunchtime I had my appointment for my COVID booster third dose. It was at a medical centre I’d never been to before. It was very pleasant and I actually saw the doctor a few minutes early. After waiting the 15 minutes to ensure no reactions, I left and went to a nearby food place for some celebratory fried chicken for lunch. My wife met me with Scully, out on her lunch break walk, and we walked home together.

This afternoon I made a slide presentation for ethics of data engineering, for the university course I’m working on, and uploaded it to the share site for the lecturer. I also played a bit with Mentimeter, which is an app that the university uses for interactive lectures. I made a few slides asking questions about ethics of different data collection examples, which the students can vote on in real time during the lecture, and also post comments for everyone to see, and potentially the lecturer to read out and respond to. It seems to be a neat tool for getting interactive feedback from students during a lecture.

For dinner tonight I cooked some dhal from a kit that my wife got as a Christmas gift. By the time it was ready to eat, I was feeling a little bit nauseated – I think possibly a side effect of the COVID booster. It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t eat, and the dhal tasted good.

Now I think I’ll relax and take it easy for the rest of the evening.

New content today:

And a crazy busy Monday

I was flat out today. (For anyone who doesn’t know, this is an Australian expression meaning “extremely busy”.)

I got up early, gulped down a breakfast, then went out for my 2.5k run. I wanted to get it done, and recover and cool down before my 10am ethics class. I felt quite good today during the run, despite the humidity being 94% (and the temperature was 23°C), and I was astonished to see that I’d run my second best time, 12:19. So that was a good start to the day.

After stripping off sweat-soaked clothes and having a big cold drink, I cooled down for a bit and checked news and events online. Then I mixed up a sourdough loaf and kneaded it and got it ready for baking later in the day.

By the time I’d done all that, it was time for my ethics classes. The last two lessons on this topic about art took me up to midday, when I had lunch and baked the bread.

Straight after lunch I got stuck into making this new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips that I’d put off for a week. The photography involves clearing off my desk, getting out several boxes of Lego figures and parts, and then spending time building each of the sets, arranging figures, photographing each scene, moving things around, deconstructing sets and then repeating the whole thing with each new theme. While doing the photography, I refer to the dialogue scripts that I’ve written, and often also end up tweaking some of the dialogue as I get new ideas during the process.

Photography was done by late afternoon, and then I had to pack all the Lego away, and start assembling the comics from the photos using Photoshop. I did the new comics for this week, and then started writing annotations and uploading those, ready for updating on the website. I managed to get tonight’s comic done in time – but then I forgot to change the configuration to update to a new comic rather than the reruns that I’d done last week! So for about half an hour the “new” comic was another rerun, until I rewound that update and redid the update with the modified configuration file. Phew!!

I’ve also spent a bunch of in-between time today handling parent requests on Outschool. The extension class for my ethics class (mentioned a few days ago) is now live, which means parents can actually see that I’m offering private extensions for this class – and I got a request from one to set up a time for their kid to do it. So I messaged back and forth a bit, and found a timeslot and set it up, and then I had to modify my art class notes to make some explicit extension.homework questions, and send those off tot the new student.

And… haha… wow. While writing that paragraph, I got another request from a parent to add a new class. Gosh… it’s going bananas! And my calendar is getting very full of classes.

New content today:

A busy writing day

My morning was taken up with chores and doing my run and exercise routine. It filled up things quickly since I didn’t get up until quite late, as I’d had a poor sleep during the night.

This afternoon I worked on finishing off writing that batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips that I’d tried to do last week. I now have the batch of 20 strips written, and I should be able to find time to photograph them tomorrow and put together at least one for Monday night’s update. So the brief hiatus should stay at just one week as new comics come online this week. I also worked on writing some new Darths & Droids strips.

And that was pretty much my day, really. I had another couple of classes tonight on the ethics of art, and I also had a little bit of Outschool admin work to do, dealing with various class changes and requests from parents.

And, um, I made some delicious fried rice for dinner.

New content today: