Seriously knuckling down

I’ve been very busy and productive today! Yay!

I started with some stretching and core strength exercises, to get the blood pumping and work on some of the neglected muscles and things that haven’t been pushed lately, to avoid things like back strains and so on.

Then I got stuck into some ISO standards work. I let the documents and ballots build up for a few weeks and then clear them all out at once. I had to download and read a bunch of documents, and then vote on various proposals, and write up some comments documents for various drafts of proposed photographic standards, collating comments from other members of the Australian expert committee (which I chair). This took all morning and I didn’t finish until after lunch, but it cleared away a big chunk of my to-do list that was slowly getting more urgent.

To wind down from that, I did a bunch of photo uploading and writing a web page for a new Sydney photo walk that I did on Tuesday. This included doing research on places like this:

Pallister House

This is Pallister House, which is a significant heritage building – so much so that it even has its own Wikipedia page. It was fascinating learning the history of this place and writing it up for my photo essay.

I also finished up the database additions for the bird photos I took yesterday. My bird photos database is on this web page, but it’s not fully populated with historical photos taken before last year, so a lot of the birds show no entries. But if you click something like Superb fairywren you can see all the photos I’ve taken of this species since last year. Adding older photos is another task on my to-do list…

Oh, and I updated the news blog on my professional photo site with a news post and some sample photos from my bird expedition yesterday.

Tomorrow night is fortnightly board games night with my friends. To prepare for another virtual gathering (due to COVID restrictions on physical gatherings), we bought Asmodee’s Humble Bundle of board games on Steam, and I spent some time installing those and playing tutorial versions to learn the rules.

And… hmm, I feel like I’ve done even more than that. It’s definitely been a full day.

New content today:

Bird walk

I left home early this morning to go to Warriewood Wetlands, a nature reserve in northern Sydney, and take some photos of birds.

Australian king parrot, male

I started with a king parrot (this is a male one).

Bell miner

Here’s a bell miner. These birds are almost impossible to spot as they tend to hang out in the tops of trees, amongst the leaves. And they’re the same colour as the leaves. Getting a photo like this is a lot of patience and luck.

Superb fairywren, breeding male

This may be the photo of the day though, a superb fairywren male, in breeding plumage.

Back at home I basically processed and posted photos for the afternoon. I still have to enter them into my bird photos database too. A busy day, but fun!

New content today:

Baking Breads

I made bread today. Firstly, I made a loaf of soy-linseed bread. This was using a packet mix from the supermarket – all I needed to add was yeast and water. Then knead and knead and knead, and knead some more. Then let it rise, then knead it some more, then let it rise again, then bake.

Soy linseed bread

It turned out pretty well – I had some of it for lunch.

And then before the oven cooled down, I made a loaf of banana bread. Which is much, much quicker and easier to make.

Banana bread

I substituted some almond meal for some of the flour, which has made it moister, and more delicious.

This afternoon I went for along walk – a couple of hours out and back home. I really felt like I needed the exercise as I haven’t been out much lately. I noticed that my shoulders and upper chest and back muscles felt sore, which I thought was a weird effect from a long walk… until I realised that it was all the bread kneading from earlier in the day that must have done it!

And now I know why I had a sore back last week, after making a couple of loaves then. Interesting. I wonder if I’ll develop breadmaker’s muscles.

New content today:

Chilly Monday

It was a grey and chilly day here, with some mist. I didn’t go out much, except to take Scully out for some brief exercise.

I worked more on some Darths & Droids story plotting, examining some situations later in the trilogy for how they inform what happens soon in the story. And I worked on some web pages, converting my Imgur albums of the Sydney walks I’ve been doing into web pages hosted on my own server. I’ve converted three so far it’s going to take a fair bit of work doing the rest, especially the really long ones.

For dinner tonight I cooked vegetable fajitas, using a basic spice mix recipe I’ve used many times before. It gets a bit pungent cooking up the spices and chilli, and sometimes I have a bit of a coughing fit over the stove. Today it wasn’t so bad, and I didn’t have any issues… but Scully was a bit disturbed and ended up moving by degrees from the lounge room, to the hall, to the front door, and into the bedroom, where we found her cowering between a chest of drawers and the blanket box, basically as far as she could get away from the kitchen.

We had to open all the windows wide (in the cold weather) to air the place out, and take her outside a bit for comfort while we did that. Poor girl. I wonder what made her rect that like this time, and never previously.

New content today:

More mission

Sunday morning walk time with my wife and Scully… we did what has become our routine walk around a loop that leads past a bakery and then down by the water where Scully chases a tennis ball on the grass. I’ve lost a few tennis balls over the years, accidentally throwing them into drains and stuff. Today I lost Scully’s ball by accidentally rolling it down a hill, onto the wharf, and through a tiny gap in the wooden barrier… plop! Into the harbour! So after that Scully was expecting me to throw the ball some more, but I couldn’t.

My wife suggested we always carry a spare ball. But that just means that inevitably one day I’ll lose two balls in one outing.

I wrote some more Darths & Droids stuff today – both background plotting info, and a new comic.

Oh, and I did a quick sketch response to the latest xkcd comic (2307):

continuum or binary

New content today:

Long slog

So yesterday I intended to write at least three Darths & Droids strips, and got zero done. Rinse, repeat. I did however, get some story planning done, and discuss some plot points with fellow writers. So that wasn’t a total loss.

What did I get done today? Hmm. Oh that’s right, I played golf this morning with a friend, at the pitch ‘n’ putt course (all holes par 3). After last time I lost badly with a matchplay/skins handicap of 16, my friend granted me an increase to 17. But today I played a lot better, and ended up winning 12-6. So next time we play there I’ll go back down to a handicap of 16. My total round for 18 holes was 79 strokes, which was 2 better than my previous record of 81. So I was pretty pleased with that!

I didn’t get home until after lunch, so that’s where half my day went. I spent some time dealing with housework stuff – we had to buy a new vacuum cleaner because our old one broke the other day, and I had some unboxing and then discarding of packaging and the old vacuum cleaner to do.

And there was some Scully walking… in the rain, as the weather closed in a bit after lunch. Walking a dog in nice weather is fine, but having to do it in inclement, cold weather is a bit of a chore.

This evening I’m playing some Codenames online with some friends. My team-mate just clued “LINUS 2” and I guessed the words PUMPKIN and VAN (from the grid of 25 words), and got them correct. And both of our opponents were absolutely mystified as to how I managed to guess the correct words!

New content today:

Plumbing emergency

My plan today was to write some Darths & Droids strips – preferably at least three. I ended up writing zero.

I had some shopping to do – first the weekly groceries. Then I also had to go pick up a game for the current redditgifts board games exchange, which I signed up for. Being such a game player, I couldn’t resist signing up for this one. The nearest game store is a few minutes drive away. I got there a bit before 1:30, but there was a sign on the door saying “back at 2pm”! I guess they’re not getting much business with the COVID restrictions, and decided to actually close up shop for the lunch break. Since I was there, I decided to wander around for half an hour, rather than drive all the way home and have to come back again. So that ate up more time than I expected.

The other thing I wanted to do today was attend to a leaky tap on the bathroom sink. The cold water tap there has been annoying me for years. I have to replace the valve far too frequently, because after just a few weeks the tap starts dripping and needs to be turned off ever harder, until it gets to the point where I can’t turn it off hard enough to prevent it dripping.

I recently bought a tap reseating tool to see if grinding the tap seat down a bit would help, but that didn’t seem to make much difference. And again, just a few weeks after the last time I replaced the valve, it’s been dripping incessantly again. So today I pulled it apart and had a good hard look at it after grinding it a bit with the tap reseating tool.

After a bit of manual grinding, the tool makes the tap seat nice and flat with a shiny new brass surface. This should be ideal for a valve to sit on and cut off the water flow when screwed down by the tap handle. But shining a torch into the tap seat well I could see an odd dark mark on the shiny brass. It was hard to make out, and trying to wipe it away didn’t remove it. I ground the seat a bit more, but the mark was still there. Then it clicked and I realised what it must be. I got a blade and ran it around the flat brass seat… and yes, I could feel what was a crack in the seat.

Cracked tap seat

I took this photo with the help of the torch light. You can see the crack pretty clearly near the top of the shiny brass ring. (And also a lot of the glittering brass flakes that I’d ground away.) Well. This was how the water leak was getting out, even when the tap was screwed down tight with a nice new valve. I’d never noticed it before using the reseating tool because the brass surface was old and dark. It took grinding down to shiny new metal to provide enough contrast to see the crack.

I consulted with a friend who is more of a handyman than I am, and he said I could try grinding further to see if I could remove the crack, otherwise I’d probably need to call in a plumber to replace the whole tap seating assembly – in a job which might require removing the entire bathroom sink and vanity unit. That sounded pretty drastic and expensive, so I gave the grinding a bit more of a go…

It took me some time, and several intermediate checks on progress, but I managed to grind away enough of the brass that the crack is basically gone. I hope. I fitted a new valve and reassembled the tap, and it seems to be working nicely now – shutting off the water completely with relatively little effort. Hopefully it will stay that way and require less maintenance, with the crack not reappearing. If it does, I suppose it will have to be a plumber job next time.

New content today:

Puzzle archives

Today I completed the work I began yesterday with those old computer files. It was to put on my website a mirrored archive of the old CiSRA Puzzle Competition that I ran with some friends of mine from 2007 to 2013 at our old employer. After the company shut down last year (and we all lost our jobs), the original website vanished. There’s a copy on, but nowhere else. I decided some time ago to host a mirror myself, but haven’t sat down to do the work to reformat the links and make an index page until now. But now it’s done! Another task I can tick off my long to-do list.

I’ve also been doing some administrative work related to ISO photography standards. I’ve probably mentioned that we have a planned meeting to be hosted in Sydney in February next year, and as the chair of the Australian photography standards committee, it’s my job to keep that on track. But of course with the COVID-19 restrictions on meetings and international travel, ISO is currently running all standards meetings virtually – currently until at least the end of August, but that could easily be extended. So it’s not clear at all if the Sydney meeting will go ahead as a physical meeting, or a virtual meeting, or perhaps a physical meeting with some delegates unable to attend due to travel restrictions in their countries. So today I had a bit of back and forth emailing to the international conveners and Standards Australia, to raise the issues and ensure that there are no problems that may arise that we need to deal with now. (It’d be nice if I got paid for any of this work…!)

Oh, and Scully got a wash and trim at the dog groomer today. She’s looking neat and tidy, but with her fur trimmed short and the nights getting colder here, she definitely needs the pyjamas I showed a few days ago.

New content today:

Weird computer behaviour

This morning I finished writing annotations for the latest batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips. So that batch is out of the way… and I can start thinking about the next batch.

Besides going out for a bit and getting some fresh air and doing some normal household things, I spent a bit of time today wrestling with a weird computer problem.

I have some files on my Mac that I copied across from a Windows machine. They ended up with permissions 555, so I changed them to 644 as is usual. But when I opened a file to edit in my usual GUI editor (BBEdit), it complained that I didn’t have write permission to the file, and asked if I wanted to change the permission. Without thinking too much I clicked yes, edited the file, and saved it.

But then after I uploaded it to my web server, it was still the unedited version. And looking at the file from the command line with vi, it was the unedited version. But… re-opening the file from the fie browser into BBEdit showed the edited version that I’d saved… at the same file path location!

So now there seem to be two different versions of the file at the same file location somehow. I tried editing using vi from the command line, and that does what I expect, saving a new version, but if I open it in BBEdit, it still appears as the version I saved using BBEdit, not with the edits made with vi.

I really don’t understand what’s going on here. The best thing I can guess is that Windows set some sort of non-writeable flag that BBEdit detects, and then it works around it by asking if you want to change the file permissions… and then it secretly writes the new version to a different place in the file system, but maintains a link to the original location, so that if you ever open the original file location again, BBEdit actually fetches the secret copy – all the while telling you that it’s looking at the original file location. Because there are actually now two different versions of the file, apparently in the same file location, but obviously that’s impossible.

I can work around this by editing only in vi, but I’d like to know what the heck is going on, and if there’s any way to get BBEdit to open the original file location, rather than its own secret (modified) copy.

New content today: