Virtual games Friday

I’m trying to go grocery shopping less often, so we’ve run out of bread at home… the perfect opportunity to bake some home made bread! General flour has been sold out at the supermarket the past few times I’ve gone (and I’ve heard from my friends that yeast is impossible to find too), but last time they had a boxed kit for making sourdough light rye, with all the ingredients included, including yeast. So I bought that. And today was the day to try it out!

Baking bread: kneading

Kneading bread dough is hard work! All I had to do was open a pre-mixed flour sachet and add a couple of spoons of yeast from another sachet, add water, and start mixing. Then you have to knead the dough for “at least 10 minutes”. The pack says the more you knead it the better the bread will be. So I did it for a little longer, but honestly I was tired of kneading so I stopped and let the dough rise.

Baking bread: first rising

It said to put the dough in a “warm place”. The weather was cool and I was wondering how to do this, so I searched online and found lots of advice, such as “on top of the fridge” (impossible as there’s only a few centimetres of clearance above mine). But one that worked was “in the oven”. It turns out my oven thermostat goes as low as 30°C, so I put it on for a minute to warm up and then turned it off and put the dough in, with a cup of hot water to provide moisture. It rose nicely.

Baking bread: second rising

After rising once for 40 minutes, you knead the dough again, shape it into your loaf, and then it rise again. This is after the second rising, and the dough has increased massively in size. It’s now ready to go into the oven for baking.

Baking bread: out of the oven

The baking time is surprisingly short (at least it was to me). 25 minutes and it looks like this. I was a bit concerned if it was baked all the way through.

Baking bread: slicing

But yep! It slices nicely and tastes delicious! And the first slice while it was still warm out of the oven, with melted butter… mmmm…

Well, it wasn’t nearly as hard as I thought to make fresh bread! I think I’ll be doing this a bit from now on.

Besides making bread, I worked a bit on writing new Darths & Droids comics. And in the evening was fortnightly board games night, held virtually for the second time due to COVID restrictions. Last time we used Board Game Arena, but this time we had planned to do a Magic: the Gathering draft tournament, as mentioned the past couple of days. We drafted our decks asynchronously using a tool my friend wrote, and then built decks in Tabletop Simulator, which is an amazing virtual gaming tool that I only recently learnt about.

Dominaria draft deck

This is a screenshot from Tabletop Simulator showing my deck laid out. I actually drafted really badly. I played 5 games of the tournament during the virtual games night, and lost every single game. I’m pretty sure I’ll be coming dead last in this tournament. Ah well, at least it’s fun!

New content today:


After missing out on golf yesterday due to being fooled by the Weather Bureau, I decided to ignore their forecast for more rain today and go to the golf course anyway. I went to Cammeray, which I think dries out better than Lane Cove (which was very muddy last time I was there), around 7am for an early start. My round was going fairly mediocre, until I got to the last hole (of 9).

Hole 9 birdie: pre-tee shot

This is the view from the tee, towards the green (and the clubhouse in the background right, behind the car park). It’s a shortish par 3, downhill and across a shallow valley. You can see the green is narrow, between bunkers left and right, and the ground is very undulating, so a ball in the wrong spot can bounce and roll all over the place.

Last time I played this hole I actually landed on the green, but then needed three putts to sink the ball, scoring a bogey. This time I wasn’t quite so accurate, the ball heading a little bit left. I feared it would land in the bunker on the left, but it hit the grass lip just on the green side of the bunker. I saw it bounce and roll, and thought for sure it would roll into the sand…

Hole 9 birdie: post-tee shot

But no, it didn’t! It stayed up on the grassy lip of the bunker, as you can see here.

The grass was too thick to putt from here, so I had to chip it on to the green. And being a right-hander, my normal stance would result in my right foot being impossibly down that sandy slope. I couldn’t stand like that. So I had to stand well forward of the ball and reach my club back at an awkward angle. Fortunately I didn’t need a full swing, as I only needed to chip the ball a few metres.

In this awkward stance, I chipped the ball… and watched as it bounced on the green and rolled straight into the hole! Two strokes! A birdie!

I’ve only been playing golf since August last year, and only tried a “full size” course (as opposed to a “pitch & putt”) for the first time in November. I’ve only made par on a hole a couple of times, and this was my first ever birdie. That set me up on a high for the rest of the day!

On the way home I did some quick grocery shopping, and then at home I wrote some Darths & Droids strips, and then started learning how to use Tabletop Simulator, which we’re going to use to play games of Magic: the Gathering on tomorrow’s virtual board games night. I built my deck from the Dominaria draft I mentioned yesterday, and am ready to play.

New content today:

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:

Easier day, bad start

My day began at 4:30 this morning, when Scully threw up on the bed. Having to get up and turn the lights on to clean up shocked me out of my deep sleep, and I couldn’t really get back to sleep afterwards, so was groggy for most of the morning.

I took Scully out for a play in the park in the morning, and then she went with the doggie daycare for a group walk with some other dogs. And then this afternoon I took her to another park to meet her regular doggie friends and chase a ball a bit more. She should be super tired tonight!

Work-wise, I started work on writing annotations for the latest batch of Irregular Webcomic! I’ve bene doing a lot of other chores today, so didn’t get very far with them.

I did take this video of Scully in the park though, reacting to our emergency recall command word.

I’ll just leave you with that for today. 😀

New content today:

Knuckle down Sunday

I need to get a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! photographed and started assembly before Friday this week, since that’s when my buffer runs out. My plan is to photograph on Monday, to give me time to start assembling comics and writing annotations before Friday. That timetable requires me to have a batch of 20+ comic scripts ready to shoot on Monday morning. Which required me to write 20 comic scripts… today.

Normally I take 2-4 days to write a batch of comics. It’s not easy work – you can’t just sit down and be funny and reel off script after script. It doesn’t work like that. There’s writer’s block, distractions, workshopping various possibilities, writing joke attempts and determining if they’re not funny enough, and even sometimes doing actual research involving web searches, reading Wikipedia pages or other websites. On average, I’m lucky if I can write 6 or 7 strips in one day.

Today I chained myself to the desk, threw on some music, and blasted out some comics. I started before 9am, and now, just after 7pm as I write this, I have written 23 new strips, which is a slightly larger batch than normal. (I was inspired for one theme and write some extra strips.)


And now I’m going to relax and watch some TV.

New content today:

Chilli and potatoes

My chilli plant has been growing really well, and had heaps of chillis on it. Way more than I could use for cooking. So today I decided to pick all the extras and make some home made chilli sauce. A friend of mine got me on to this, since he also has a chilli plant that produces way more than he can use.

Collecting chillis

My wife picked the chillis for me. I was only going to grab the ripe red ones, but my friend showed me a photo of his latest batch and he included a lot of the unripe green ones too, so I did likewise.

Chopping chillis

I chopped them up carefully, trying not to touch them with my fingers.

Chillis with salt and garlic

Put them into a jar with some salt and sliced garlic.

Chillis ready to ferment

And topped it up with water. The jar gets sealed and stored in a dark place at room temperature for two weeks. The idea is that the naturally occurring lactobacillus that is everywhere ferments it, while the salt inhibits any undesirable bacterial/fungal growth. After two weeks, the whole lot gets blended and vinegar added. And that’s pretty much it, as I understand it, although you can add other flavours as well for variety. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Besides this, I spent some time this afternoon making potato salad, to have with dinner. Similar to last time I made it, but this time I remembered to add chopped capers! I completely forgot about those last time.

Work-wise, I intended to start writing a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! today… but ended up so distracted and busy that I didn’t even manage to write a single comic. Yeesh! I better get stuck into it tomorrow.

New content today:

Scully games

It’s been a bit of a write-off of a week, with my wife working from home and Scully being home too, which means a lot of distractions throughout the day.

Scully has this game that she and I play every evening before we retire for the night. She’s a small poodle, and although we initially vowed she wouldn’t sleep on the bed with us, nowadays she does. She’s good, staying at the foot of the bed, and honestly it’s better than our previous arrangement where she slept in a crate next to the bed, and would scratch to get out at first light, waking us up before we were ready. Now she sleeps as long as we do.

Anyway, normal procedure is that Scully gets tired in the evening, and around 9pm or so she actually gets up and wanders into the bedroom and sits to wait to be lifted into the bed. (We don’t let her jump on or off anything – she’s trained to sit to ask permission to be lifted up.) So we pop her on the bed and she snoozes for a bit until we’re ready to go to bed.

Now, on the bed we have a plush toy puppy that she likes – it’s been one of her favourite toys since she was a puppy herself. But when she falls asleep, it’s usually a little bit away from the puppy. When I come in, before going to bed myself, I take her downstairs to the grass for a final toilet. Scully can hear me getting her lead and my keys ready, and when I go into the bedroom and move to put the lead on her, she will often make a sudden lunge for her puppy and clamp it in her jaws, so that when I lift her up to take her out, she has the puppy firmly gripped in her mouth.

Every evening I try to circumvent this by stealth, surprise, or quick action, and she tries to get past me and get the puppy. She wins most of the time, but sometimes I manage to get her up into my arms before she can reach the puppy. And every evening my wife watches this battle of wits and laughs every time Scully beats me.

Anyway, today I did a large grocery shop – the first shopping I’ve done in 8 days. I bought a lot of food… honestly I think the amount of food I bought could probably last me and my wife for well over a week. I guess we’ll see.

Later this afternoon I took a walk for some exercise. Passing through a nearby park, I saw that the children’s play equipment had all been taped off.

Playground closed due to COVID-19

A sign said that the playground equipment was closed until further notice due to COVD-19.

Playground closed due to COVID-19

Times they are a-changin’.

New content today:

Video walk experiment

Today I thought I’d try making a video of part of the walk I did for exercise, in this time of social distancing when we’re not supposed to leave home for anything but essential activities (of which exercise is counted as one).

I took the video using my phone, mounted on a small handheld steadicam gadget that I got from a Kickstarter a few years ago. It helps smooth out the shakiness of walking while holding the phone, but it’s not perfect. I didn’t speak while walking, but added some comments using a microphone once I got home.

And here’s the walk route, marked on a map of Wollstonecraft, Sydney:

Hopefully this will be a nice virtual walk for some of you who might not have had much chance to get out and about recently.

New content today:

Baking damper: attempt 2

We were out of bread today after eating all the damper I made three days ago. Restricting our grocery shopping outings to once a week, I didn’t want to buy bread today, so I made another damper. This time I used soda water instead of beer, and the recipe I looked up pointed out that you don’t want to knead the dough, because that drives the air out of it. Last time the beer damper recipe said to knead the dough lightly.

So today I mixed the dough roughly and didn’t knead it at all. And sprinkled a bit of flour on top before baking. And here’s the result!

Damper, version 2

It turned out well – better than the last one. Really delicious, in fact. My wife actually said she didn’t want us to buy bread ever again. Of course that relies on me making bread whenever she wants it…

I did have to go out today though, to take my wife’s 4G box that her office gave her to use for connectivity and get it repaired, after the trouble she had yesterday. The guy at the mobile shop poked a tray through the door and told me to put the box on it, then locked the door behind him, with me waiting on the outside while he checked it out. Ten minutes later he came back and told me through the glass that it was working, and had me check by connecting to the WiFi with my phone. Then he unlocked the door and handed it back to me, from the tray. Getting it home, it did work again, so that’s good.

I really don’t know what happened with the rest of the day!

New content today: