Taking care of business, part 2

(Oh, haha, I see I’ve already used that as a post title…)

Today was dedicated to steps along the road to getting myself set up with a photography sales business. I set up my website a while ago, and now I’m implementing a bunch of stuff necessary to start selling prints. Today I got a monitor colour calibration tool and properly calibrated my monitor, then I prepared a few selected photos in Photoshop files with all the required colour profile settings, ready to send to the printing lab to have them printed on art quality paper. The next stage is to send them off and have a few test prints made. Then I’ll be ready to start selling and shipping them to people.

The other thing is that the printer I’m using can put my photos on their website, with the handful of art photographers that they work with, and start selling online off their website. I’ll also be adding a shop on my own website, to collect orders through my own advertising.

And another thing I did was to register for an Australian Business Number. This is required for all the dull business/tax things that I need to start keeping track of, and filing with the government.

To calibrate my monitor I needed to pick up the tool from the city, and then I realised I needed a calibration print from the printer, so I walked over there to get one. It was a fair walk, and I passed some interesting things along the way:

Mortuary Station

Regent Street Station, formerly known as Mortuary Station, a now disused railway station that used to be the stop where bodies were loaded to be transported to Rookwood Cemetery, in Sydney’s west.

Codenames Blue Spy

Some cool street art. It reminded me of one of the blue spy cards in Codenames.

Austin of England

“Austin of England” car, circa 1951. Showing the typical mud-spattered look that many Sydney cars now sport, due to the combination of dust storms and rainstorms, and water restrictions that make it more difficult to wash cars.

Ravenswood, 1896

Ravenswood, a Federation style building from 1896.

By the time I got home I was very warm and sweaty, from the humid heat that has settled over Sydney in the past couple of weeks. But it was an exciting day for another reason! Today was Scully’s first day on the job as a Delta Therapy Dog!

Delta Dog

Here she is in uniform, ready to go to work at Royal North Shore Hospital. My wife is her official Delta handler, and they both had to pass training and evaluation to qualify for this role. They’re doing patient visits in the orthopaedics ward at the hospital, to help cheer the patients up and improve their recovery. I’m extremely proud of both of them – when I first heard of this program I didn’t think it was a serious possibility for them to qualify for it. But I’m very happy they did!

New content today:

Long weekend Monday

Today I spent time with my wife again, since it was a holiday. We decided to go out for morning tea to a cafe we like that’s about an hour’s drive away, in the semi-rural outer suburbs of Sydney, called Geranium Cottage. (Yes, the website looks like it was designed in the 1990s.)

We like it there because they do a good plate of scones with strawberry jam and cream. We split one of those, and also a serve of the home made banana and walnut bread. Wife had coffee, but not being a caffeine drinker I stuck with water. The menu here is full of tempting treats, and they also had a chocolate brownie, which the menu annotated with “(very rich)”. So we sat for a while enjoying the rural ambience, and then ordered one of those too. I was so full after this that I didn’t bother having lunch at all, and ate nothing until dinner this evening.

On the way home we stopped at a small park where Scully could run around off lead and get some exercise. We park across the road in the yard of an historic church, St Jude’s Anglican of Dural. The original church building is a small sandstone structure completed in 1848, which now paints a picturesque scene:

St Jude's Anglican, Dural

And the rear:

St Jude's Anglican, Dural

It looks like it can only fit about a dozen people inside. It’s preserved now as a heritage listed building. On the grounds is also a larger, more modern building, which is presumably used for services these days.

We’ve just been watching some TV shows this evening. We’re getting into the second season of Lost in Space on Netflix, and we also watched some comedy shows on broadcast channels. It’s good to sit back and have a laugh every now and then.

New content today:

Long weekend Sunday

Today was Australia Day. There aren’t really any specific traditions associated with the day – it’s just a day off work for people, and they usually hang out with family or friends, have a barbecue, and go for a swim at the beach or something. Although being on a Sunday, most people already have the day off, so we pragmatically have an extra public holiday tomorrow on Monday so we don’t feel ripped off. 😃

I spent the day with my wife and Scully. We went out to get some pies for lunch (which is pretty Australian, so that works!), and then popped into her mum’s place for an afternoon visit. She lives in a place overlooking part of Sydney Harbour, one of the sheltered coves leading up to a river. Normally there are a handful of boats out there, but today the cove was packed with them, full of people having fun, eating, drinking, and jumping in the water to cool off.

Australia Day cove

The weather has turned really humid after the hot, dry December we had. It was only 32°C today, but maybe 70-80% humidity, which made it more oppressive. I took my swimming gear in case I decided I wanted to have a swim, but I couldn’t get enthused enough to bother changing. Instead I took Scully for a short walk along the shoreline, but even she decided to turn around and head for home before long out there.

We got some groceries on the way home, and I made vege fajitas for dinner.

New content today:

Long weekend Saturday

I had a bit of a sleep in this morning, and did some housework… and just relaxed a bit. The only real “work” stuff I did was to write a bunch of rerun commentaries for Irregular Webcomic! strips that will be coming up in the rerun rotation soon. So not much else to report.

It’s a long weekend because tomorrow is Australia Day, and part of being Australian is having the Monday off when a public holiday falls on a weekend, so you don’t miss out.

New content today:

Unexpected golf

When I got up this morning, I opened some windows… and immediately closed them again. Smoke had descended on Sydney again, from the ongoing bushfires. It wasn’t as bad as it has been, but certainly bad enough to avoid opening any windows and avoid going outdoors if possible.

But then I got a message… A guy from Houston who had posted on a forum asking about golf in Sydney a few weeks ago – and I had responded with some info – had just touched down here at 06:30 , and wanted to hook up for a game. This morning.

I told him I needed to be home by 2:30 pm, so we’d have to tee off no later than about 10 am to give me us time to play and me to get home. A few frantic messages later, we had a 09:44 tee off time booked at Moore Park Golf Club… and I had to leave almost right away to get there in time. Fortunately by the time I got there a storm had moved in and some rain had cleared the sky out a bit, so it wasn’t so smoky by the time we started playing. It rained on us a bit during the first few holes, but then cleared to a muggy overcast.

Moore Park is a longer course than I’ve ever played – it has four par 5 holes, and I’d never played a par 5 hole before. Our visitor was much more at home, and played the course a lot more competently than I did. However, I did manage to par the par 3 fifth hole:

Hole 5, Moore Park

And I scored two single bogeys, on par 3 and 4 holes. So I was happy with that, although my score on several other holes really blew out. Here’s the 17th hole, a par 4 on which I scored 8.

Hole 17, Moore Park

We finished the round in good time, and I made it home a bit before 2pm, so that was good. My wife had an appointment at a nearby hospital and I had to look after Scully. The appointment was a positive one – it was her orientation as a Delta therapy dog owner, prior to her first patient visit with Scully, which is on next Tuesday! While my wife was out, I took Scully to the dog park for a run around and a walk along the shore.

And then this evening we all went for dinner at a Thai restaurant that we like, a short drive away. They have outdoor tables, so we can take Scully. I was really hungry after the golf, and not having time for a proper lunch!

New content today:

Late for Thursday

I was so busy working on finishing off a new article for 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe last night that I neglected to update here, so this is another “next morning” post. Not that there’s much to report – working on that article is basically all I did yesterday, apart from the usual daily life stuff like eating and taking Scully for a walk.

I’ve read that writing 1000 words a day is a good pace for a professional writer. I write up to 2000 words in a day for these 100 Proofs articles, plus the research and often creating diagrams as well. So that’s a pretty hectic work pace and doesn’t really leave time for much else.

New content today:

Golf and Ramen

Missed last night’s update, so I’m writing this on Thursday morning.

On Wednesday my friend Andrew suggested we play a short round of golf at my local course (where we’ve played before). We assembled there at 07:30, and teed off at the first hole. We both hit our first drives handsomely down the fairway, drifting a bit to the right near a clump of trees maybe 120-130 metres away. We chatted as we walked off to locate our balls. We found them:

Tee shot balls, hole 1

Over 100 metres from the tee, and the golf balls were within half a metre of each other! I hit first because I was about 5 cm further from the hole.

As our round continued, it became clear that it wasn’t going to be a good day, for either of us. We both struggled to hit later tee shots, with several dribbling just a few metres and necessitating trying to smash the ball 100 metres or more out of thick grass, or worse, leaf litter and sticks in close proximity to trees. I scored my worst score on this course for 9 holes: 66, my previous worst being 64. Oh well, at least we got out and had some exercise!

We returned to my place and played a few games: Fluttering Souls, Claim 2, and Codenames Duet. Then we headed up the street to get some lunch somewhere.

We didn’t have anywhere in mind, and walked past a tiny Japanese place that I’d seen before, but never gone inside. It had a hand-written sign outside advertising $12 ramen for lunch. That’s cheap for Sydney, so we poked our noses under the hanging cotton banners to have a look and the man behind the counter said, “Would you like some ramen?”

We said, “Sure!” and went in to grab a seat at the small bench.

Ramen Shimizu

The menu was simple. The hand-written sign stuck to the array of roughly a thousand different types of Japanese whisky read: “Lunch Menu: Mon-Wed. Tonkotsu Ramen $12 (this is the only option)”. So we had the tonkotsu ramen.

Tonkotsu Ramen

It was thick and rich and absolutely delicious. This is an absolute steal for $12.

Andrew headed off and I returned home. In the afternoon I dealt with some administrative stuff for ISO Photography standards, as well as trawling AirBnB for accommodation for a short Easter road trip that My wife and I are planning. We’re taking Scully with us, so we needed to find places that allow dogs to stay, which cuts down on the options a bit. We couldn’t even find affordable accommodation in Orange, where we’d planned to spend a couple of nights, so had to reconfigure our itinerary and instead decided to visit Singleton, where I found a suitable place to stay.

New content today:

Taking care of business

I had a busy day today. I had a meeting scheduled at 2pm with a guy who runs an art photo printing company. One of my contacts through the Standards Australia committee for photography that I chair was the former owner of the business, and he arranged to meet us there and introduce us.

The site was in the city, not far from where one of my friends works, so I contacted him and asked if he wanted to meet up for lunch beforehand. With a lunch appointment set, I headed into the city on the train a couple of hours early, so I could browse around in some bookshops and then walk from there to lunch. I took some photos along the way:

Sydney Town Hall

This is Sydney Town Hall, the seat of the local city government council. They’re the ones who put on the famous New Year’s Eve fireworks, among other things. This lovely old building also hosts concerts and other events. It has a magnificent pipe organ.

From here I walked south down George Street, the central city’s main thoroughfare, until I reached Broadway, which is really just the continuation of George Street as it gently turns west. Here there are some lovely old Art Deco hotel/pub buildings:

Bar Broadway

This is the Bar Broadway, which used to be Sutherland’s Hotel (hence the old signage above). Behind it you can see the tall tower of the newish Central Park building, with the greenery on the exterior. Closer up it looks like this:

Central Park, Broadway

The dangling thing over the middle is an array of solar reflectors, to reflect sunlight down into parts of the building that are in the shade. This building is mostly student accommodation, because the University of Technology, Sydney, is right across the road. Here’s an exterior walkway along the road just outside one of the university buildings:

UTS tunnel

And out the other side there’s another old Art Deco hotel:

Broadway Crown, formerly Hotel Broadway

This one is the Broadway Crown, formerly known as the Hotel Broadway. This is near where I had lunch with my friend. We discussed various things, including our stalled comic project, Eavesdropper. He said that what we’d been doing was essentially a first draft of the story in his head, and it wasn’t a final polished version in his opinion. What he needs to do is get the whole story down on paper, and then revise it. So illustrating it further as a comic doesn’t really make sense – doubly so because of how much effort I had to put into drawing the artwork. So I think we can officially call the comic project finished, albeit not completed.

We also talked about games we’ve been playing lately and plan to play in the future. I need to knuckle down and write the next instalment of our current D&D adventure that I’m running.

After lunch, I headed to my meeting at the photo printing place. I met the owner and he showed me around the print shop, and we discussed the various printing machines and paper stocks and mounting and framing options he had available. I said I wanted to to start selling mounted and framed prints of my photography, from an online shop on my website, and he said they had art photographers listing photos for sale on the print shop’s website, so the photographers themselves don’t need to run a shop site. Customers can order prints, they print and frame and ship them, and give the mark-up to the photographer, minus a small percentage for hosting the online shop. This sounds perfect! So I’m going to go through the details with him by email and produce some photo files that they can sell as large prints. Initial selections will be some of the photos that you can see on my portfolio site.

I got home late in the afternoon. My wife and I took Scully for a walk and run around the park near our place. Then we made some more pizza with the home-made feta. I’d left a chunk of it sitting in a bowl of milk in the fridge all day, to draw some of the salt out, and that trick worked well. The resulting cheese was milder, and the pizza wasn’t as salty as yesterday.

As I was relaxing into the evening, news broke of a fire in a school in Sydney. It was Lane Cove Public School, which is the school where I teach Primary Ethics! Fortunately the kids are still on summer holidays, but their school hall and canteen are reported to have burnt down. The hall apparently had a lot of musical instruments stored inside, so the students are going to have it tough until they can buy new instruments. Fortunately no classrooms were affected. It’s going to be interesting to see how the recovery is going when I return there in a few weeks to start teaching a new year of kids Ethics.

New content today:

Cheese results

This morning I took the drained feta cheese that my wife and I had made yesterday and put it into the brine solution:

Home made feta

It definitely looks like feta cheese. And it was nice and firm. The recipe said it had to soak in brine for at least five hours, so I tried a tiny bit at lunch…

It was salty. Really salty. Too salty to eat. By itself anyway. So this evening for dinner I tried crumbling some onto a pizza:

Pizza with home made feta

This worked reasonably well, with the salt diluted amongst all the other ingredients, and the result was pretty good. (Also on there: tomato paste, home grown basil leaves, mozzarella/cheddar cheese mix, zucchini flowers, pine nuts, and chilli flakes.)

I looked up online what to do with overly salty feta, and apparently this is a common problem. Several sites suggested soaking it in milk for an hour or two before eating it, which will draw out some of the salt. So tomorrow I’ll try that. And next time we make this, I’m going to reduce the amount of salt from what the recipe said. But salt aside, it looks and crumbles and tastes like feta, so that’s pretty good! I’m happy with my first ever batch of home-made cheese.

It was stormy in Sydney today. A lot of very heavy thunderstorms with large hailstones passed over the city, but they were small and localised, and where I live we barely got any rain. Some of the weather stations in the city suburbs recorded over 20 mm of rain, but the nearest one to me recorded only 2.8 mm (and another suburb only got 0.2 mm).

I kept an eye on the rain radar and it seemed like a clear window during the late afternoon to take Scully to the dog park:

Scully and the storm

This band of cloud came over, but didn’t drop any rain where we were:

Storm over Waverton Park

I was keeping an eye on the radar for incoming storms, in case I had to hurry back home to get the car safe from hailstones. But it stayed dry for a good hour or so, giving us enough time to walk along the harbour shore, where we have a view towards the city:

Storm over Sydney

It was a pretty dramatic day. We got back to the car just before a few fat drops of rain fell, but it petered out as we drove home, and overall didn’t deliver much, apart from some loud thunder rolls.

Scully is good with thunder – she’s not frightened at all by it. Our puppy school dog trainer suggested teaching to the class that we teach our dogs to be calm during storms by getting them used to sudden loud noises – by doing things like dropping pots and pans into the kitchen sink, and them immediately giving them yummy treats, to get them habituated that a sudden loud noise is good, not bad. We did this with Scully from a very early age, and she’s adapted very well. She has no problem at all with thunder, or the loud fireworks that go off here in Sydney on New Year’s Eve (not very far from where we live, so they’re very loud).

Today I also worked on some more Darths & Droids stuff, getting comics prepared in advance and queued up, so we can set them aside and start working on Episode VII.

New content today:

Cheesemaking!

Today I made three more Darths & Droids strips, which builds us up a nice buffer in the run-up to beginning Star Wars: Episode VII. I also discussed some of the aspects with the fellow writers online.

One of my friends decided to start a Google Docs spreadsheet listing all of the games that we have in our group, so we can know what’s available for Friday Night Games, and for borrowing from one another. So I spent some time going through my collection and filling in spreadsheet rows.

And the other thing I did today was make some cheese! I got my wife a cheesemaking kit for Christmas, and we decided to give it a go today. The kit makes a few different types of cheese, and we selected feta as our first attempt. It’s pretty easy, but it takes several hours of waiting around for the milk to curdle and the bacterial culture to start working. At the end of the waiting we had curds that could be scooped into cheese moulds:

Curd scooping

The cheese is now draining for a few more hours before being flipped upside down to drain even more overnight. And then tomorrow it goes into a brine solution, and voilà, we’ll have feta!

Curds in moulds

At least I hope we will. I’ll tell you what it tastes like when we try it…

New content today: