Late Friday post on Saturday morning

Friday was busy and I neglected to make my daily post, so I’m dong it on Saturday morning.

I began Friday with writing a last few Irregular Webcomic! scripts over breakfast. Then it was off to the supermarket for the weekly grocery shopping. It was a smaller load this week, with not much running out since last week. I got some fresh fruit and vegetables and a few bits and pieces like a bag of lentils and a block of cheese – and some toothpaste since it was on sale for $2 off. There are some products I only ever buy when they are on sale, and just keep enough of a stockpile so that I can wait until next time they are on sale. Ice cream I never buy at full price either, although it often runs out before the next sale and I have to make do with no ice cream for a week or two!

Back home I got stuck into photographing Lego and miniatures sets for the batch of comics that I’d just finished writing. I started at 10:00, after unpacking the groceries, and finished after midday, just in time for lunch.

In the afternoon I took a bit of a break from comicking and processed and posted some old photos from a trip to Thailand back in 2005. Then I got stuck into assembling the comics from the photos taken in the morning, and finished off half a dozen or so before my wife came home from work with Scully. We all went out for dinner, to a nice French creperie. Since it was very cold and we had to sit outside with Scully, I had some mulled cider to wash down my galettes and crepes. Mmmm.

Back home, my friends began an impromptu games night, interstitial to our scheduled fortnightly games nights. We’ve been working on a custom word list for (an online implementation of a Pictionary-like drawing game), since the default word list skews very American. We got everyone to submit a few hundred words and came up with a list of over 1300 custom words to draw. We have things like “lamington”, “echidna”, “Mister Squiggle”, “Circular Quay”, and so on, as well as more generic things. It was loads of fun, and actually a bit more challenging as some of the words we listed were quite difficult to draw.

New content today:

Be very very quiet…

I spent most of today writing – or trying to write – new Irregular Webcomic! scripts. So there’s not very much to say about that.

In the past week I’ve watched a couple of interesting movies on Netflix with a common theme: they’re both horror films in which people need to stay silent in order to avoid attracting monsters that are blind and hunt by sound. The films are A Quiet Place (2018) and The Silence (2019). I recommend them both. They have a lot in common, but a few interesting differences. The following discussion will have some minor details on the premise and set-up of each film, but nothing I would consider a plot spoiler. (But if you’re very sensitive to spoilers and think you might want to watch these films, then you may want to skip the rest of today’s post.)

It’s interesting that both films feature a stable nuclear family with mum, dad, a boy, and a girl, and that in both films the girl is older and more mature, and also deaf, thus justifying the family learning sign language – which is used extensively in both films so that the characters can communicate without speaking (and thus without making potentially fatal noise). Also coincidentally, both films have a running time of exactly 90 minutes.

But it’s what’s different that makes comparing the films fun. The monster designs are very different, apart form the commonality of being blind but with excellent hearing. One film has large, scary, ground-based alien things that basically kill you as soon as they touch you, while the other has small flying creatures that you have some (small) chance of beating off or distracting, thus leaving injured people.

One film is claustrophobic and tense, while the other is more open and a bit lighter. Reviews indicate the tenser film received praise, while the lighter one was criticised – but honestly I enjoyed the lighter one more. I’m not sure I can say why exactly. Maybe I was just trying to relax and looking for something easy to watch. I did enjoy both of them though.

New content today:

Tempting the Fates

I slept poorly last night, with the muscle strain in my side bothering my whenever I lay on either side, so I had to sleep on my back. My normal sleeping position is lying on my side, so it was a bit uncomfortable and interrupted. However during the day today the strain has eased off again. It seems better than yesterday, so hopefully tonight will be easier and it’s well on the way to healing.

This morning was Ethics class at Lane Cove school again. The NSW government has introduced further restrictions on school activities to control COVID-19, but I received an email from my school’s Ethics coordinator to advise us that we were continuing with classes for now, since we can operate within the guidelines. I started a new topic today: Fate. The lesson was mostly telling a story about the Oracle at Delphi and asking the kids what they thought of fate, predestination, and predicting the future. It as a good discussion, and they mostly had fairly sensible points to make and mature views about it. So that was pretty good.

Oh, I found on my phone a photo of the queue at the pie shop that I went to before golf on Sunday:

Pie queue

It was a pretty long queue. The camera compresses the perspective a bit – people were socially distancing 1.5 metres apart in the queue. This is a very popular pie shop, as you can see!

This afternoon I started work on a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips. I got a bunch of strips written, but need to write some more before I can move on to the photography. That will be the goal for the next few days. If I write fast hopefully I can take photos on Friday, otherwise it’ll be Monday.

New content today:

Side strain, taking it easy

I think on Sunday when I played golf I slightly pulled a muscle in the left side of my torso. It didn’t bother me much on Monday, but during the night last night I woke up and went to the toilet, then when I came back and had to move Scully from my spot on the bed, I bent over and the muscle really twinged badly. I slept poorly after that, and today got up with a real strain there, very sore and restricting my twisting and bending movement.

I think sleeping on it made it worse, as it got better during the day. I would have gone for a 5k run today, but decided to take it a bit easy. Although I didn’t want to just sit around the house all day, so I did walk up to the oval and then ran just 1 kilometre, to see if I could record a better time than the 1k split on my 5k runs. My best 1k split was 4:59, but today I ran 4:33. It felt like a lot faster pace and I was worn out after the 1k – I definitely wouldn’t have been able to keep that pace up much longer. I might try and mix up between 1k and 5k to improve both my sprinting and my endurance.

And something unusual I found out about today: Moonlight towers. These are urban lighting done by erecting tall towers with bright lights that cast light over large areas – up to several blocks in size. (Rather than multiple dimmer lights on shorter poles, which is now almost universal.)

New content today:

Back to the office

Back to the office for my wife, that is. Her work is transitioning back from work-from-home to having staff in the office again, not that COVID cases here in New South Wales have flattened down to single digits per day. She was keen to go back into the office, because it’s been tricky and distracting for both of us with her working from home. And her work is walking distance away, so she doesn’t need to brave public transport with COVID out there.

Which means I had the whole morning at home by myself for the first time in months. I actually used the time to do some housecleaning and some other chores, including gluing a loose sole back onto one of my shoes.

Then I got stuck into some Darths & Droids writing, bashing out three comic scripts, with the help of my co-writers over online chat. With a week’s worth of new strips written, I then moved to assembling the comics, and completed two before this evening.

Oh, and this afternoon I took Scully to the dog park. It was a lovely late winter day outside, with warm sunshine, and a definite hint of spring in the air. Although the forecast for later this week is a bit more rain and cold.

New content today:

Pies and golf

My golfing friend let me know that he was planning to play at the Pitch & Putt par 3 course today, with another friend of ours, and asked if I wanted to join in. I didn’t have any other plans for the day so I decided to accept.

The plan was to meet at 1:30, so I decided to go via my favourite pie shop and get lunch on the way. I left with plenty of time, fully expecting to have lunch and get to the golf course early so I could practice some putting before we started. But as I approached the pie shop, the traffic got really heavy and I heard on the radio that there was a serious accident a few suburbs ahead, which had backed traffic up all the way to where I was.

I stopped and got pies: a Singapore curry beef pie and a chicken, avocado, and brie pie. The first I got really because I decided to try something that I normally wouldn’t get. I don’t know if I’d had the Singapore curry before, but I probably won’t get it again (unless I forget some time in the future and decide I want to try something I don’t normally get again). The chicken pie was just what I wanted though, so that was fine.

Back on the road, the traffic continued to be slow, and I arrived at the golf course ten minutes late. But that was okay, and we started playing straight away. Our friend, the new player, claimed not to have played golf much and to be very bad. Indeed, his hitting off the tee was not very skilful, usually hitting the ball low along the grass instead of properly flighted into the air… but somehow he managed to whack the ball hard enough to reach close to the green most of the time. And his putting was pretty good (he said he’s played a lot of mini golf). He ended up beating my total by 4 strokes, scoring 2 better than even my best score on this course! It was clearly a hustle of some sort, spoiled only by the fact that we didn’t agree to play for money beforehand.

Before golf this morning, my wife and I took Scully on a long walk. We passed our favourite bakery and I got a loaf of potato and rosemary bread, and a challah.

Challah is very rare here in Sydney – we don’t have much of a Jewish population. I’ve never seen it for sale anywhere else that I can recall. I also had no idea how to pronounce it, again because we have virtually zero exposure to Hebrew speakers in Sydney. I guessed it might have a similar guttural “ch” sound like “chutzpah” but wasn’t really sure. So I looked it up, and yes, it looks like it does. The problem is I don’t know if the bakery staff know how to pronounce it either! It’s weird asking for something when you’re not sure if either yourself or the person you’re asking knows how to pronounce it!

New content today:

Filming a video for Science Week

It was mostly a lazy Saturday today. The main thing I accomplished was filming a short video for the school where I do my volunteer science visits. I haven’t been able to visit the school to talk to the kids in person since March or so due to COVID. I wrote to my teacher contact and said I’d be happy to do something remotely, like a Q&A session via Zoom or something. She suggested that with Science Week coming up next week maybe I could record a short video to introduce the week to the students.

The theme of Science Week this year is “Deep Blue” – basically looking at the science of the oceans and how to use them sustainably rather than damaging them. So today I drove out to the coast, specifically to the rock shelf at Freshwater, where I could set up a tripod and camera with the ocean as a backdrop.

My wife came to help me do the recording, and she did a great job of directing as well. My first take was very flat and lifeless, and she got me to add more movement and gestures and voice inflection, which really helped in the later takes. I ended up with just over 4 minutes of video, and although not super professional I thought it turned out pretty good. After getting home I checked the result and it was good to go with no editing. So I sent it to the teacher and hopefully it’ll be a hit with the kids on Monday.

New content today:

Sports and games

This morning dawned bright and clear and I took the opportunity to go play a round of golf at my local course. It’s only 9 holes, but since I was by myself I hit two separate balls on each hole and kept the scores independently. It was interesting how often the two balls ended up near each other. Hole 4 is a par 3, in which the tee off is over a creek gully dense with trees. It’s the most intimidating hole on the course for a beginner, but I’ve managed to reach a level where I can hit confidently over the creek and land near the green. Here’s where my two tee shots landed today (highlighted with arrows, because the balls are a little tricky to see, with Apple’s image processing rendering them very un-ball-like):

Hole 3 tee shots

I managed to get one ball in with just two more strokes for a par, but the other took 5. The next hole, number 5, is a par 4, and one tee shot was good, but the other skewed badly into the rough among some trees. By the time I recovered, I’d hit one ball twice and the other 4 times, and they ended up almost on top of one another:

Hole 5 twin balls

Each ball had some good holes and some bad ones. They ended up with totals of 64 and 59, both within my best-worst range of 66-55. By the end of it, my shoes and socks were thoroughly soaked, since the course was very muddy after the recent rain, and I’ve learnt from experience that it’s not a good draining course by any measure.

After golf, I had to go do the weekly grocery shopping, and it was a big one this week, with a lot of things having run out during the week that needed to be replaced. And then after shopping I had to go up to the post office. By this time most of the day had gone. For dinner my wife and I went out to our favourite local pizza place, which was really nice – I felt like some of their pizza tonight.

And tonight is virtual fortnightly games night with my friends. I’ve already played some 7 Wonders, and 6 Nimmt, and now we’re into, which is always hilarious.

New content today:

Trip into the city

I needed to go into the city today to buy some hard acrylic storage boxes for Magic: the Gathering cards. Not for storing cards, but for packing them up for shipping by post. I’m selling off part of my collection of cards, dating back to 1995, both to raise a bit of money while I’m unable to sell my photography prints at markets due to COVID closures, and to free up some storage space at home.

It was the first time I’ve taken the train into the city centre for months – probably since March or February – although I did walk across the Harbour Bridge into the city on one occasion for a brief bit of exercise and to take some photos. The trains were eerily empty for a weekday, and the city was too. There were a few people around, but maybe around 10% of the normal number I’d expect. I went to the game shop to buy the boxes, and I saw they also had copies of Mythic Odysseys of Theros, the new D&D sourcebook. The alternative cover is amazingly beautiful, so I got that version. I’m looking forward to reading this one.

For lunch I stopped in a Japanese restaurant in the city and had a tempura prawn don bowl. It’s so nice being able to do something relatively normal like have lunch out in the city.

Back home I worked on some Darths & Droids writing and comic assembly, as well as packing those cards for posting tomorrow. Dinner was a fridge/pantry clean-up, eating the last of the fresh food and vegetables, before a big grocery shop tomorrow. Vegetarian sausages and baked potatoes.

New content today:

Train to Busan

Last night my wife went to read in bed early and left me with the TV, so I picked a movie from Netflix. I’d heard good things about Train to Busan. It’s a Korean horror movie, in which a guy and his young daughter are riding a train to escape… well, I won’t say any more. But yeah, I really enjoyed it, and recommend it. There’s one scene in particular which is just amazing and freaky. If you enjoy horror films, then you should like this one.

This morning I had my weekly Ethics class. We were finishing up the topic on animal rights, after four weeks. That’s too long for a topic, in my opinion… talking with the kids about the same topic for that long gets a bit repetitive. I wish all the topics were a maximum of three weeks long. The kids were a lot better behaved than last week – I guess the teacher had a chat with the worst offenders after my report last week. Most of the class went pretty well, although it descended into a bit of chatter towards the end, but still it was much better than last week.

On the way home I walked past the hardware store and picked up a big pack of microfibre cloths for cleaning various things, as well as some strong spring clamps, which I’m going to use to clamp one of my shoes when I glue the sole that is starting to lift on one side.

Back home, my friend who organises our fortnightly games nights posted an invitation to this Friday’s virtual online event. Actually, to set it up, I should show you the image he posted two weeks ago:

Games night invitation 1

It was an invitation in a very 1980s style. Well, today he went a little bit further back into the past:

Games night invitation 2

He said now he was going to look for more historical periods to use for future invitations, which prompted me to make this:

Aztec gaming meme

Looking forward to the games on Friday night! 😄

New content today: