Ethical behaviour

My morning was taken up with my Primary Ethics class first thing, followed by a morning tea with the Ethics coordinator and other Ethics teachers at the school. The coordinator tries to have one of these every school term, so we can catch up and have a chat and swap war stories about our classes. We have a new volunteer teacher starting next week, and he was there, so we were all giving him lots of advice on how to handle the kids.

My class this morning was a lot better behaved than they have been. I’ve let it be known to the kids that I will send them to the front office – after a couple of warnings – for misbehaviour. This has tempered a lot of the most disruptive behaviour, and they’ve started settling down a lot faster after spontaneous discussion breaks out (as it often does). Last week was better than the week before, and today was better still, and we got a lot of good discussion in.

This afternoon I mostly worked on writing a new batch of Irregular Webcomic!, as I’ll need to photograph a batch early next week to keep the buffer full.

The weather is still cold and rainy here. Fortunately the forecast for Sunday is okay, as we have a special lunch planned… but more about that later.

New content today:

Cleaning the carpet

Today was dominated by cleaning. I vacuumed the house to get all the loose dust collected, and then I attacked the carpet with a carpet shampooing machine that I’d hired from the local hardware store. I do this about every 6 months to rejuvenate and deep clean the carpet. It comes up nice and fresh, but it’s a few hours of hard work. Although the day was cold again, I was bathed in sweat by the time I’d finished the cleaning.

After returning the carpet cleaner to the hardware store, I treated myself to lunch at a Japanese place near there. And then I took it easy for the afternoon since I was kind of worn out.

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And a soggy Monday too

It rained all night, and much of today too, clearing up a little towards late afternoon. While it rained a lot, I didn’t think it was particularly wild weather. But the evening news tonight had stories about flash flooding, trees blown over, and damage to structures across various parts of Sydney. It must have been localised and we missed the worst of it near my place.

And it was really cold again, the temperature rising to 16.2°C only for a brief period in the morning before dropping back to around 14°C for most of the day. When I took Scully out to the dog park during a lull in the rain this afternoon, I underestimated the cold and didn’t dress warmly enough, and I was pretty frozen by the time we got home.

This is the sort of weather we can expect with the onset of La Niña – colder and wetter conditions for eastern Australia. Already Warragamba Dam – Sydney’s main water supply – is full, and the water authorities have started releasing water to avoid potential large volume releases in the near future that would cause flooding in several outer Sydney suburbs downstream.

You might imagine this rain is good, with us coming out of a long drought. But it’s hit farmers in rural regions at exactly the wrong time. They were just about ready to harvest spring crops, and expecting a bumper crop, when this rain arrived and has ruined many crops and made harvesting impossible because of the sodden land. So we may be in for a grain shortfall in the next few months.

New content today:

Soggy Sunday

The rainy weather well and truly set in today. And it was really cold. The forecast maximum was 17°C for Sydney, but it only reached a maximum temperature of 14.7°C… at 08:21 this morning. The temperature has been dropping from there all day, as the rain built up and became a steady heavy pour this afternoon.

We took Scully out for a walk early this morning, in a period where we only had to put up with a light sprinkle. Apart from that, it was really a day to huddle inside. Since we didn’t want to exercise Scully outside in the pouring rain, we invited her poodle friend Luna over from next door, and the two of them had a rough and tumble play inside.

I worked on some comics stuff, making sure I have a buffer to cover a trip away next weekend. And that was about it.

New content today:

Stormy Saturday

Saturday began with a sleep-in, after last night’s games night ended quite late.

It rained during the night – nay stormed. I was woken by thunder around 2am. The rain had cleared by morning though, and the morning was intermittent light showers, but the forecast warned of heavy rain developing throughout the day, culminating in more storms tonight.

I took Scully out at lunch time while my wife had some appointments, but I didn’t want to walk too far in case we got heavy rain while we were out. So I drove over to a nearby suburb and the Italian bakery that we go to sometimes (it’s a longer walk than our other bakery), where I got some lunch. Italians are not known for meat pies, but being a bakery in Australia means you tend to adapt, and these guys have done a great job coming up with a chicken pie. Most places just chop up chicken meat and cook it in a sauce, but I believe this bakery must roast their chicken, before deboning and pulling it to pieces and then making a sauce around the already roasted chicken, with lots of vegetable chunks. It’s like a delicious chicken casserole in a pastry case.

And being an Italian bakery, they do a baked ricotta cheesecake, which is to die for. The ricotta filling is whipped and light and creamy. Truly excellent stuff.

After eating these treats on a bench nearby, Scully and I took to the car again and went over to the home centre where the pet shop is. I needed to buy her some more canine toothpaste. We try to brush her teeth every day, to protect them from decay.

This afternoon, with heavy rain falling outside, my wife and I played another Codenames Duet, finally conquering Baghdad in the campaign. We played a flawless game, and it was most satisfying.

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Games night experiments

It’s fortnightly games night with my friends and we’re playtesting a new game online that a friend of mine has coded up. It’s MasterWord, which is a brand new board game that hasn’t even been released yet, but my friend saw a sneak preview of the rules and implemented a Discord bot version, so we’re playing it right now.

Earlier today I mostly did comics work, creating new Darths & Droids strips. Oh, and the weekly grocery shopping. That’s about it for today.

New content today:

Cleaning and writing

I’m just trying to think what I did today. It was pretty much all taken up by cleaning the shower, writing comics, and taking Scully out to the dog park.

I scrubbed the shower tiles with baking soda to remove the built up soap scum. This is hard work, and took some time and elbow grease.

Mostly I wrote and produced some new Darths & Droids strips.

Oh! I also went out to check on the jacaranda trees and the flowering progress. Within the next week or two they’ll be blooming profusely and hopefully I’ll get some photos worthy of printing.

New content today:

Surprise picnic dinner!

Last Friday I’d planned a secret surprise picnic dinner for me and my wife. I didn’t mention it here because she reads this blog. My plan was to spend all day Friday cooking, while she was at work, and pack a picnic dinner into the car before she got home. And then when she got home from work, say we’re going out for dinner and lead her to the car and drive off, without saying where we’re going.

As it turned out, she felt a bit sick on Friday morning and decided to stay home! So I couldn’t cook without her asking what I was doing. So I decided to postpone the whole surprise. Ideally I’d do it on a Friday, but this week my wife has a dinner out with her old schoolfriends planned. And I had a bunch of ingredients already purchased that I needed to use up. Today was the first day she spent the whole day at the office (some days she comes home to work from home for the afternoon) – so today was the day!

I started with the ingredients I’d bought: baby spinach, French shallots, and button mushrooms.

Raw ingredients

I chopped the shallots:

Chopping shallots

Put them in a saucepan over a low heat to sweat and start caramelising:

Caramelising shallots

Meanwhile I chopped and sautéd the mushrooms:

Sautéing mushrooms

And while all this was going on, I was making spinach quiches in the oven:

Spinach quiches

Once the shallots had well and truly caramelised:

Caramelised shallots

I assembled the shallots and mushrooms into savoury tarts:

Caramelised shallot and mushroom tarts

Once all the cooking was done, and cooled down I packed it into containers in the car with a bottle of rosé wine. When my wife got home from work, I sprung the surprise, said we were going out for dinner, and led her out to the car. We drove to a nearby lookout spot in a park:

Picnic dinner view

And had dinner:

Picnic dinner

While the sun went down over Sydney Harbour:

Picnic dinner sunset

It was really good, and my wife was delighted! The weather was slightly cool, and a little windy, so not perfect. Maybe we can do sunset picnic dinners more as we head into summer.

So that’s pretty much what I did today… I spent over 4 hours cooking!

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Standards and crime

This morning I dedicated to getting some ISO standards work done. I had to write a report on the international meeting I attended (virtually) a few weeks ago, to be submitted to Standards Australia.

That took me right up to a slightly late lunch, for which I made myself some simple cheese and tomato and beetroot sandwiches.

Mid-afternoon I went out to go to the nearby railway station cafe to buy a chocolate hedgehog for a snack to share with my wife, and I took Scully for a walk over there. A bit before the station there was a group of about 8 or 9 people, maybe older teenagers, maybe about 20 years old. All dressed head to toe in black. Sitting on a low wall together. I thought it was a little odd, but not too notable.

A train pulled in, and some of them bolted for the station at top speed – I thought at first they wanted to catch the train. Then I realised a car had just pulled up and three people had got out. Two of them bolted after the fleeing guys. Three girls were left sitting behind, and the other guy from the car ordered them: “Don’t you go anywhere!”

The two chasing the running lot tackled one and cuffed him on the ground. I don’t know where the others went, if they got on the train, or fled up to the street. I heard the cops say to the cuffed guy, “You’re under arrest!” They were in plain clothes, but clearly cops, because they had holstered guns and walkie talkies. One cop laid on the guy to keep him on the ground, since he was really struggling, the other cop (a woman) called for backup.

I walked past nonchalantly and got my hedgehog in the cafe. A minute later a police car arrived with sirens blaring and uniformed officers got out, but I was walking back home and didn’t see what happened after that. I passed the girls and the third officer, who were still waiting in the original spot relatively calmly.

So that was dramatic. I have no idea what it was all about – drugs, or a graffiti gang, or what. I’ve never seen a police chase or arrest in Australia before. I have seen one in the USA – literally while travelling to my hotel from the airport after I’d arrived on a business trip.

So… a day of hours of boredom followed by seconds of excitement.

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Errands and chores

I had a busy day. First off the rank was sending an Etsy order out at the post office. Then when I returned home I cleaned up, vacuuming the carpets and floors. Then I washed the kitchen floor (and also the balcony floor later in the afternoon). Changed out the damp absorbers in the wardrobes. Took out a bunch of rubbish.

In the middle of the day I caught a train into the city. I needed to go in to pick up a book I’d ordered from a game store in there: Original Adventures Reincarnated #4: The Lost City by Goodman Games. While in the city I grabbed some lunch. There aren’t a lot of particularly good places to grab a quick lunch in that part of the city, but a friend suggested the food hall at David Jones, an upmarket department store. The basement level food hall sells all sorts of gourmet ingredients, and they also have hot food bars and tables. I got a seat at the Asian bar and had a massaman curry with rice, which was fairly good.

Once back home, I grabbed my camera and went out to Kirribilli again to get another photo of the slowly emerging jacaranda flowers. Today they looked like this (compare to last week):

McDougall Street jacarandas: 19 Oct

While there, I noticed the rose beds in the adjacent park were also in flower and got a few photos of the roses:

Roses in Milson Park

Roses in Milson Park

And then by the time I got home, it was almost time to take Scully to the dog park, and buy some bread form the bakery on the way. A pretty full day right up to dinner time.

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