Another blast of winter

It was definitely one of the coldest feeling days of winter so far today. The actual temperature barely reached 16°C, but the “feels like” temperature maxed out at 8°C due to a stiff wind that was blowing all day.

My morning was spent inside doing ethics classes, but my hands were frozen. At 1pm I was glad yo take Scully for a walk, even in the cold, simply to get my blood circulating and warm up a bit from the physical movement.

We went up to the shops and I got some sushi for lunch, which I ate at the small park there while Scully sniffed around on the grassy area. On the way back I pondered grabbing some gelato (it’s never too cold for gelato). But when I went into the place I took a good look at some of the baked things they also have there. Iv’e never tried any of them before, but I noticed they had a crème brûlée cronut which looked very attractive with a very brûlée-like glaze on top. So on an impulse I got one of those instead. It turned out to be really delicious, with a custard filling inside the pastry. I might have to try some more of their pastries.

This afternoon I did some more work on new Irregular Webcomic! strips. I didn’t finish writing a whole batch, so I only ended up photographing one strip for tonight. I’ll try to get more done tomorrow, at least to last the rest of this week.

New content today:

Carbonara Sunday

Well, I end my week of food-related headings with an interesting story.

I had two ethics classes tonight from 6-8pm, which is inconvenient for dinner. I’d had a late lunch so wasn’t hungry before hand and my wife wanted to eat before 8pm, so she made herself something while I did my classes. After finishing at 8pm, I made myself some spaghetti “carbonara”, with just the egg and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, no meat. I don’t make this much and found a recipe online to follow. It suggested warming the plates before serving to maintain the warmth in the pasta while eating. And it said you can warm plates by putting them in the microwave….

Now I’m pretty sure that won’t work. But my wife had just made a cup of tea, and I had pulled out a shallow bowl to eat from, so I thought I’d warm my bowl by pouring in some boiling water.

I boiled up the spaghetti, mixed it with some molten butter, a beaten egg, the grated cheese, and a lot of black pepper in a frying pan, and made a passable carbonara-esque sauce. Then I dumped the whole lot from the frying pan into my bowl… Which was still full of hot water.

After a moment of panic I managed to salvage most of it by quickly holding back the pasta with a fork and tipping out as much runny hot water as I could into the sink. But half the sauce went with it. Oh well. It still tasted pretty good.

Around lunch I did a 5k run. It was still very cold then. We’re getting another polar blast which should make the next few days very chilly again.

I also worked on writing scripts for a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! I’m approaching concluding strips for a couple of the themes and have figured out the endings for them. Just need to write them up into scripts.

New content today:

Faux Hun Friday; pastie and pizza Saturday

Friday was gaming night at a friend’s place. My lunch was just a falafel wrap that I made with supermarket ingredients. But for dinner I picked up something on the way to my friend’s place. This involves a bit of a story.

When we used to work together at Canon Research, there was a Thai restaurant just around the corner from the office, where we often used to get lunch. It was called Go Hun. And it had some of the best Thai food you could find in Sydney.

When we stopped working there, Go Hun of course remained, but I didn’t have occasion to go out that way very much, except to visit this particular friend who lived nearby for board games night. So sometimes I’d drop in on the way and grab some take-away for my dinner, which was good. But then about a year ago Go Hun closed down! But a new Thai place opened in the same premises. It’s actually named “Charmed Thai“, but we all refer to it as “Faux Hun”.

Anyway, I hadn’t tried anything from Faux Hun yet, so I stopped in on the way and picked up an order of chicken pad kee mao. It was really good!

At the games night there were just four of us. Two of our other regulars both happen to be in Europe at the moment: one on a six-week grand tour with wife and teenaged kid, and the other who popped over to Italy for a week to meet up with his partner who was taking a slightly longer trip there.

We started with Ingenious, which I won. And then played a quick hand of Uno Flip!, which I also won! My friend had found this at a discount store for just $3 and decided to buy it because it was so cheap. It normally retails in regular shops for about $10. Only when he got it home and opened the box, it became clear that it was a Chinese counterfeit version! The box said it contained printed instructions, but it didn’t, and the quality of the cards was awful. They were thin and flimsy, with a weird finish that looked like it’d start peeling off any second, and were already starting to curl. We played a game merely so that he could say he got his money’s worth out of the $3 he’d spent, before he throws it away.

We moved on to the big game for the evening: Architects of the West Kingdom. This is a worker placement game where you choose to place a piece each turn to collect money, collect various building resources, hire workers, build buildings, or round up rival workers in an attempt to (a) restrict them from gaining bonuses and (b) sell them into incarceration for profit. You can also use actions to free your own workers from other players or the prison. The goal is to amass points by building buildings, constructing parts of the cathedral, earning a virtuous reputation, or simply collecting valuables including silver, gold, and marble. The obvious routes to victory involve building a lot of buildings and working on the cathedral. But I got some workers who synergised into a way to collect lots and lots of marble cheaply, and reward me with bonus virtue for marble at the end of the game. So rather than build buildings, I decided to see if I could just collect enough marble to win.

I came last. I think the strategy could have worked if I’d just built another building or two, or found another worker who synergised with the engine and gave me more benefit from the marble that I’d amassed. I didn’t lose by a lot, so I believe the strategy could be viable.

Anyway. We ended the night with a quick game of For Sale. Which I also came dead last in. But I’d won two of the four games for the night, and the other two wins had been split between other players, so I declared myself the grand winner!

Today I cleaned the house up, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom and shower, and emptying all the damp absorbers and refilling them with absorbing crystals. Our weather is still far too damp and humid and I dread getting mould growing in things. For lunch I took Scully for a walk and popped in at the pie place, which had a special beef and vegetable pasty

And for dinner tonight my wife and I went out to Organica, which we tried for the first time a few weeks ago. This time we tried the pizzas there, and they were very good. Thin crust blistered by a wood fire, with buffalo mozzarella and toppings.

New content yesterday:

New content today:

Savoury danish Thursday

Continuing our food theme this week, I went to Moon Phase for a pastry lunch, trying their savoury danishes for the first time. I selected a mushroom and asparagus one, and one with onion, truffle, and cheese.

Mushroom and asparagus danish, Onion, truffle, and cheese danish

They warmed them up for me and I sat outside at the small table with Scully as I ate. They were both really good! Also a lot more filling than I expected, probably because of all the butter in the pastry.

For dinner I made a quick meal of vegetarian “chicken” sausages with microwave “baked” potatoes, and what was left of the broccolini. I only had an hour in between groups of ethics classes, so I had to make something that didn’t take too long to cook.

Speaking of ethics, this evening I asked in one class, “What are some annoying noises?” One student immediately said, “Someone playing the recorder.” I also had two kids today in different classes who said they find the sound of rain annoying. Everyone else said rain is a sound they find relaxing, which was more what I expected. I haven’t heard of anyone thinking the sound of rain is annoying before.

New content today:

Fancy lunch Wednesday

This morning I had a food disaster. I poured out my bowl of muesli, added fresh blueberries and chopped apple and orange chunks. I was about to spoon yoghurt on top when I bumped the bowl and it fell off the kitchen bench, landing on the floor, face down. The entire lot was scattered all over the floor. I had to clean it up and then make a whole new bowl of breakfast.

For lunch I walked with Scully down to my wife’s work. She was having a half day and was free from midday. We walked from there to Rafi, a restaurant in North Sydney. We sat at an outdoor table with comfortable sofa seating and ordered a very nice lunch.

Hummus with crispy chick peas and green chilli (which we had with the home made sourdough pita bread, not pictured):

Hummus with green chilli

Crispy eggplant with spices, honey, and herbs:

Crispy eggplant with spices, honey, and herbs

Jerusalem artichokes with hazelnuts and Grana Padano:

Jerusalem artichokes with hazelnuts and Gran Padano

King prawns with chilli miso butter (non-vegetarian, for me):

Chilli miso king prawns

And after this fantastic meal I wanted to try one of the desserts. Roasted apples with burnt honey and Pedro Ximénez sauce (and crumble and vanilla crême anglaise):

Roasted apple with burnt honey and cognac cream

The whole meal was amazingly good, and very filling. It’s now after 8pm and I still haven’t eaten anything else yet. Although I will make something quick and light for dinner in a minute. I just finished my three ethics classes for the evening, on the new Noise topic.

New content today:

Fajitas Tuesday

Today I worked on my lesson plan for this week’s new ethics topic: Noise. With questions like:

  1. What should you do if neighbours are being noisy when you need to study or sleep?
  2. Is it okay to have an occasional loud party, as long as you don’t do it too often?
  3. Can even soft sounds be annoying sometimes?
  4. How important do you think it is to get away from noise and have some peace and quiet?
  5. Should there be more quiet places in busy areas?
  6. Should concerts be softer to protect people’s hearing?
  7. Should electric cars make sound so people can hear them coming? Or is it better that we use the new technology to reduce traffic noise?

That done, I took Scully yup to the shops and got some sushi rolls for lunch. It had rained—again—overnight, but was clearing up as we went out and the sun came out in the afternoon. I noticed a lot of the footpaths are green with moss again, like they were a year ago when we were having ridiculous amounts of rain. There are also an awful lot of mushrooms sprouting from the bases of trees and garden mulch areas around the street trees.

This afternoon I spent some time sorting through Magic: the Gathering cards, trying to collect loose cards and the remains of decks into piles of specific sets so that I can offer them for sale on eBay as coherent lots. I discovered a couple of preconstructed Commander 2013 decks, which I barely ever played with. My friends and I preferred booster drafts and didn’t really get into playing Commander. So I confirmed that these decks still had all of the cards present and stuck them on eBay (Power Hungry deck, Eternal Bargain deck). These items join three lots of old sealed booster packs that I listed yesterday (Throne of Eldraine, Core Set 2020, and 6 mixed boosters going back to Ravnica block). In the next week I’ll start listing lots of loose cards from specific expansion sets, starting with the more modern ones.

In other gaming news, I got an email saying that backer surveys are ready for Goodman Games’s Original Adventures Reincarnated #8: Grimtooth’s Old School Traps. When I backed this, I chose the D&D 5E version of the book, but I’ve since re-evaluated and would prefer the Dungeon Crawl Classics version now. So I sent Goodman an email and asked if my pledge could be changed. Hopefully I’ll hear back in the positive.

For dinner tonight I made vegetable fajitas. Fried up some onions, garlic, julienned carrots, sliced broccolini, cauliflower, and mushroom, seasoned with paprika, oregano, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, chilli, salt, and lemon juice. Served with warm tortillas.

New content today:

Calzone Monday

Not much to say today – it was a busy day with 6 online classes. In between I went to the post office twice, to get some packaging, and then send it off, another Magic card sale. I also sorted out a whole bunch of cards that I still had partly assembled into decks, putting them into piles based on expansion set, so that I can reintegrate them into my collection before preparing to sell them off.

For dinner I made calzones, stuffed with pumpkin and ricotta, with a tomato sauce to spoon over the top. It’s a nice variation to make with pizza dough.

New content today:

A make-up class, a make-up sale

This morning at 10am I had a make-up ethics class, replacing one that is normally scheduled on Fridays, but which I had to postpone this week due to the clash with the Standards Australia meeting I had then. The class normally had three kids in it, but two of them couldn’t make the shifted time today, so it was just me and one student. Thankfully it’s a good student who gives in-depth answers, so we didn’t run out of material to talk about.

And also this morning I sold an eBay item. This was a sealed booster box of Magic: the Gathering cards that I put up for auction a few weeks ago. It originally went for a final bid of $150, but the winning bidder never paid for it. I offered it to the second highest bidder, but they never replied to my offer. So last weekend I reposted it as a new auction. And this morning it sold for $180! So I ended up making an extra $30 due to the non-payment shenanigans.

The good thing this time was the buyer contacted me straight away and asked to do a local pickup as he also lives in Sydney. When I confirmed that we could meet tonight to hand over the cards, he paid via eBay immediately. And after my last class tonight I walked over to the meeting spot I’d designated, at the nearest train station, and he was waiting there. So the transaction is finalised and overall I’m happy how it turned out.

Before lunch I did another 5k run. I was convinced during the run that I was going faster than yesterday, and I pushed hard to sprint the last 100 metres or so in an attempt to beat yesterday’s time by as much as I could. When I checked my time… it was 1 second slower than yesterday!! I have no idea how that happened. Do people really have no accurate idea how fast they’re running while doing it?

Finally, Stage 23 of the Lego D&D set. This adds walls, windows, and roofy bits around part of the wizard’s workshop.

Lego D&D set, stage 23

Lego D&D set, stage 23

Lego D&D set, stage 23

New content today:

Pub meal, schnitzel and banoffee

This morning my wife went out early for an appointment, and then I took Scully up to meet her at the dog grooming place to drop Scully off there. She got a wash and tidy, but not a cut, as her hair wasn’t really too long. But when we picked her up she was super fluffy from the blow dry and looked really big compared to normal. But the hair will flatten out agian and she should be fine until the next groom. It’s midwinter anyway, so she can use the extra insulation!

On the way home from the groomer we stopped at Moon Phase for croissants. I actually had a black sesame bun, another new item. I keep trying new things and haven’t had the same thing there twice yet. The sesame bun was really nice.

Back home I changed to go for a 5k run. I thought I was still taking it fairly easy, since I’m a little out of practice, but I clocked a time nearly a minute faster than last weekend, at 27:15, which is on the lower end of my usual times, so that was good.

In the afternoon I worked on some comics stuff.

And then for dinner we all walked up early to Naremburn and the Flat Rock Brew Cafe. We grabbed a table outside. Everyone else except other dog owners were sitting inside out of the cold! I got a chicken schnitzel and they had a chocolate milk stout on the beer specials, so I tried that with it. After the meal I pondered idly if they had any desserts, because I hadn’t seen any on the menu. My wife asked a staff member who was walking past, and he said they had a banoffee pie. Well… that’s one of my favourite desserts, and I wasn’t too full already from the meal, so I ordered a piece. It turned out to be obviously hand made, with a really thick biscuit base, slathered with sticky toffee and banana slices. It came with a scoop of ice cream on the side. The base was so thick that it was difficult to cut it with the spoon! It was really delicious and I’m very glad I decided to get it.

After that it was a walk home to walk off some of the food. And we sat down to watch the final episode of Disenchantment, which we have finally got to after a drawn-out process of working our way through the episodes after not realising for a few years that seasons 4 and 5 had been released!

New content today:

Standards, Lego, games

This morning I had to move an ethics class to make room for a Standards Australia Photography committee meeting. I’ve been serving as the chair of this committee for 9 years come December, and the tenure limit is 9 years, so we had to have a discussion about finding someone else to chair the committee. This shouldn’t be a lot of work, as I confirmed with our committee manager that I can continue to attend the ISO international meetings and compile reports, while someone else chairs the committee. That’s 90% or more of the work involved. So hopefully someone will nominate to serve as the new chair while I continue to do the work that I want to do. if nobody does, then I don’t know if the committee will be forced to fold, leaving me unable to do the work any more.

Here’s stage 22 of the Lego Dungeons & Dragons set build. It fills out the upper floor with a cool looking wizard’s chamber or something, with books and candles and a cool skull.

Lego D&D set, stage 22

Lego D&D set, stage 22

Lego D&D set, stage 22

Tonight is online games night with my friends. My wife is out having dinner with her friends, so I just walked with Scully up to the fish and chips shop to get some dinner there. We’re currently playing the quantum trick-taking game Cat in the Box.

New content today: