Double golf

I got up early and went to the golf course this morning just after 6:30. The sun is rising earlier as spring meanders onward and even though overcast this morning it was plenty light enough to start that early. I finished 9 holes, playing two different balls per hole, by 8:30, and then had the whole day ahead of me!

Which I spent mostly working on Darths & Droids scripts, although I ticked off a few other tasks as well.

I applied to become a stallholder at the Kirribilli Markets, another suburban market not too far from where I live, and a bit bigger and more popular than the ones I’ve been doing up to now. Hopefully if I get approved, I can get some more productive market days happening, and really make some sales of my photos.

Also, our wedding anniversary is coming up, so my wife asked if I could find somewhere to stay a few hours drive away, for a long weekend (she’s taking a couple of days off work). I called a couple of places near Kangaroo Valley. The first was booked out until the end of the year, and they said I’d be lucky to find anywhere with vacancies, as people are all booking local holidays at the moment since nobody can travel overseas. The next place had two of the three nights we wanted free, so I booked those. We also have the additional constraint of needing a pet-friendly place, so we can take Scully.

And I looked into various types of weed killer, because some of the small parks and areas of grass in the neighbourhood that we take Scully to have patches of bindii in them, and right now in the early spring is when they start growing thorns. Scully dislikes walking on them, for obvious reasons, and starts to avoid those areas, so I want to try and get rid of it. I thought I might be able to buy some weed killer and spray some areas, but a bit of research reveals that the available solutions have two different problems:

  1. There’s selective weed killer that kills bindii and a few other common weeds, but doesn’t harm grasses or other plants. The trouble is, it’s harmful to dogs, and it’s recommended to keep dogs off it for a few days after spraying. Which is no good since I want to spray public places, so obviously I can’t keep all dogs off them.
  2. There’s glycophosphate (often sold under the trademark “Roundup”), which is safer for animals, but it kills any plant it touches, so would need to be applied with a paintbrush otherwise it’d kill all the grass too. It’s also bad if it gets into waterways, and given the main area I want to remove bindii from is right next to a creek… this is a no-go as well.

I concluded that the only way to do this is to buy a garden fork and get down on my knees, and pull the bindii out by hand. Stay tuned for updates…

New content today:

Busy busy Monday

The start of a new working week! I had a lot of chores and tasks I wanted to get done today. First cab off the rank was a 5k run. The weather was a lot cooler than last week, which I think helped, and I felt a bit more at ease through the last few laps than last week, and ran a better time of 27:32, so that’s good. Although I’m beginning to think the 26:32 I ran a few weeks ago might have been a GPS glitch that credited me with more distance in a shorter time somehow, as I haven’t been able to break 27 minutes since.

I had some errands to run, visiting the post office to mail some things that somebody bought from me, and then a tailor to drop off a jacket for alteration. I got a new lightweight cotton jacket on the trip to the city a week or so ago, and it’s good, but the breast pocket is weirdly sideways – it opens on the side rather than the top, and I feel that as soon as I put anything in there it will just fall out unless I button the flap over it, which is just annoying and not normally something I do with pockets. So I put it in to be altered by removing the flap, stitching up the side, and unstitching the top, to turn it into a normal pocket. I don’t quite understand how any clothing designer could thing a pocket that opens on the side and not the top is a good idea. I had to wait about 15 minutes in the tailor’s shop because there was a woman in there ahead of me, having a dress altered, and she was wearing it and making lots of little adjustments and the tailor was putting pins in all over the place, and it honestly took about 15 minutes until they were done and I was served.

I spent the afternoon writing Irregular Webcomic! annotations to fully finish off that batch I started working on last week. And picked up Scully from my wife’s work and took her to a nearby park (not our usual dog park, which is a short drive away) for some ball chasing. There was a woman there with a boy about 6 or 7 years old, and he was keen to throw the ball and have Scully chase it, so I let him do that a bit.

The conversation with my friends about the definition of a game slopped over into today, with someone suggesting the following:

I’m imagining a pastime in which people take turns drawing cards with activities named on each card, such as Monopoly, Settlers of Catan, or Snakes and Ladders [or maybe even soccer, or crossword puzzles], and then attempt to refine an evolving definition of “game” such that there are more cards in front of that person meeting that definition than anyone else. This proceeds until someone draws a card named “This Pastime” at which point the pastime ends, and either the current definition of “game” encompasses the pastime itself, in which case someone may win, or else the definition does not encompass the pastime, in which case the people were not playing a game after all, it was merely a pastime.

New content today:

What is a game?

We had a little bit of a Sunday sleep-in, but not much. My wife and I took Scully for a long walk around the neighbourhood on our favourite route, and she got lots of running and ball chasing in. Later this afternoon we invited Luna, the poodle who lives next door, over for a play date, and she and Scully went bananas for half an hour. This is good, because it means they get tired and sleep well.

Besides doing some comic annotations I spent some time chatting with friends about matters arising from virtual games night on Friday. We played a custom implementation of Scattergories, and one of the categories was “Games played outdoors”, with the starting letter of “S”. Someone answered “Sports”, which caused much discussion over whether it was a valid answer or not.

The player argued that sports are indeed games played outdoors, and thus his answer should be valid. Others of us argued that the category was meant to encompass things like soccer and tennis, not an all-encompassing class of things like “sports”. This led today to a discussion of how to clarify rules of the game so as to define more clearly what sort of answers are acceptable.

In another example, someone had answered “Seven Dwarves” for “Movie characters”. Most of us thought this was perfectly fine, but the guy whose “Sports” was disqualified on a vote argued that this was the same sort of answer and should also be disqualified. This led to us today trying to reason out what about “Seven Dwarves” made it seem like a correct answer while “Sports” seemed like a wrong answer. An analogy was made: If the category was “Birds”, would “avians” be acceptable? Some of us thought yes, some thought no.

We eventually came down to a clarification that the answer should be “An example of the category”. Our feeling was that “(The) Seven Dwarves” is an example of “Movie characters” because the seven dwarves are a specific well-known, named set of characters (“six dwarves” would not be acceptable). “Avians” was not “an example of birds”, but rather a synonym of the entire category of birds. And “Sports” was not “an example of games played outdoors” – it was more like “avians” although not exactly synonymous with the category. (Also, some sports are played indoors, so the answer actually also includes some things not in the category.)

We were more or less happy with this. But then there was a flow-on discussion of what is a valid game anyway, as someone contended that soccer was in fact not a game – in his view sports and games were mutually exclusive; something could be one or the other, but not both. This discussion continued for several hours over the course of the day, and turned to asking questions such as whether a crossword puzzle is a game, or whether a Choose Your Own Adventure book is a game. Mark Rosewater’s definition of a game (which I think is pretty good, but not perfect) was cited and argued over.

This was all good natured, and not an angry argument in any way. It petered out eventually, and I think the basic conclusion was that “game” means different things to different people, and we’d never come up with a definition that everyone agreed with. And if it came up with Scattergories again, we’d just have to argue about it and make a case-by-case call.

New content today:

Finland ISO meeting, day 5

Today was the last day of my virtual standards meeting. So although it was Saturday I had to get up at 6:30 and have breakfast before starting the meeting at 7. It was all closing administrative stuff today, like going over action items and deciding stuff about the next meeting. Since we’ve only been doing these virtual meetings for a short time, the process is still being refined, and we decided to have a short pre-meeting a week before the next meeting to finalise the agenda, so we don’t end up with what happened this time, having an hour gap in the middle of a session due to someone’s presentations being short, and being unable to move the following session up because people were planning to dial in at a specific time for it. Hopefully that will make things easier for everyone next time.

It was really cold today, with a strong cold front system moving through the region, bringing bone-chilling winds. The front arrived yesterday evening, with a bit of rain. The leading edge of it hit while I was at the dog park with Scully, causing this:

Rainbow storm over Sydney

Rather than go for a big walk with Scully today in the wintry conditions, we were lazy and just did a short walk up to a nearby railway station to get some pies for lunch.

When I got home, I was going through the pantry and I found a leftover packet of bread mix, from when I was doing baking a few months ago during the COVID lockdown. So I decided to bake some fresh bread this afternoon.

Lockdown baking

And now that we’re out of mix, I might buy some more, actually. It’s pretty easy to make, and really delicious.

Also this afternoon, I played some Codenames Duet with my wife, and we won the Madrid campaign game. That’s 9 out of 26 missions completed! Oh, and I also completed making that latest batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips that I’ve bene working on for the past week while not doing ISO standards meetings.

New content today:

Finland ISO meeting, day 4

Today was the last day of technical discussions for my virtual ISO meeting. We talked about standards for image stabilisation, depth metrology, and high dynamic range and wide colour gamut image format.

I spent time afterwards making Irregular Webcomic! strips. Then picked up Scully from my wife’s work and took her to the dog park. And this evening I am in the middle of playing games with friends on our fortnightly virtual board games night – so can’t write much more…

New content today:

Finland ISO meeting, day 3

Day 3 of my ISO meeting went well. We had technical discussions on two topics: measurement of visual noise in images, and measurement of camera autofocus reliability and speed. The first is a revision of an existing standard to update the empirical formulation of how the human visual system perceives noise levels in an image. There’s a lot of very interesting experimental work being done on that across several labs all around the world to get this revision done.

The camera autofocus work is new, and is having to deal with a lot of technical difficulties in triggering and timing of autofocus – mainly because cameras are engineered to be useful in real world situations, not in standardised testing labs.

Most of the rest of the day I spent making comics, both Darths & Droids and Irregular Webcomic!. Yesterday, when I was too busy to write much here… well, it was similar, actually.

Oh! Today I got a package in the mail, a reward for a Kickstarter I backed a year or two ago. The project was delayed by various things, but they came through. Behold!

New dice

Gaming dice. Specifically, that’s a d21, a d21 with consonant labelling, a d5 with vowel labelling, and a d36 that doubles as a single die roll to generate 2d6 using the pips.

New content today:

Finland ISO meeting, day 1

Virtual Finland meeting, that is. I got up a bit early this morning, so I could finish breakfast and be ready to start my ISO Photography Standards meeting at 7 o’clock. There were delegates web-conferencing in from all over the USA, Japan, Switzerland, Germany, and me in Australia.

Unfortunately with people scattered across the globe, the time zone is bad for at least somebody. Last meeting, it was bad for me, having to stay awake until 2:30am every day (for five days in a row). This time it’s a decent block of time in the morning, but the people in Europe are suffering with an 11pm to 2:30am shift.

The first sessions are administrative, and we discussed the next meeting in February, which was supposed to be me hosting here in Sydney. Given the current COVID situation and the fact that there’s no end in sight to the Australian Government ban on foreign visitors entering the country, we decided to make the call and convert it to another virtual meeting. Then the question of timing came up. The chair suggested that we revert back to the timing of the last meeting, which is described as “Morning, New York time”, as opposed to this meeting’s “Evening, New York Time”.

“Morning, NYC” (last meeting) corresponds to:

  • Sydney: 11pm – 2:30am
  • Tokyo: 10pm – 1:30am
  • Europe: 3pm – 6:30pm
  • East USA: 9am – midday
  • West USA: 6am – 9am

“Evening, NYC” (this meeting) corresponds to:

  • Sydney: 7am – 10:30am
  • Tokyo: 6am – 9:30am
  • Europe: 11pm – 2:30am
  • East USA: 5pm – 8:30pm
  • West USA: 2pm – 5:30pm

I was dreading having another late night shift. And then someone pointed out that daylight saving will have changed by February… which makes the proposal to switch back to “Morning, NYC” look like this:

“Morning, NYC, DST” (southern hemisphere summer, proposed for next meeting):

  • Sydney: 1am – 4:30am
  • Tokyo: 11pm – 2:30am
  • Europe: 3pm – 6:30pm
  • East USA: 9am – midday
  • West USA: 6am – 9am

USA/Europe move back an hour and Sydney moves forward an hour, making a two hour relative time shift. Japan doesn’t have DST, so moves forward an hour relative to Europe/USA. As you can see, this proposal is not merely bad for me, it’s much worse.

(Now, there’s also the fact that alternating between these two schedules alternately screws Sydney/Tokyo or Europe, but never screws anyone in the USA. But there are so many delegates in the USA that the idea of a schedule where Europe/Sydney/Tokyo get decent times and everyone in the USA has to stay up until 3 in the morning on whatever didn’t seem to be considered as a serious option, alas.)

Anyway, I had a go at proposing an alternative schedule for the southern summer meeting:

“Evening, NYC, DST” (southern hemisphere summer):

  • Sydney: 7am – 10:30am
  • Tokyo: 5am – 8:30am
  • Europe: 9pm – 12:30am
  • East USA: 3pm – 6:30pm
  • West USA: midday – 3:30pm

This keeps things same for me, makes Tokyo have to get up a bit early, but also has the big advantage of pulling Europe into an almost reasonable timeslot. It’s actually not terrible for anybody. The timing will be discussed and finalised later this meeting. I’m hoping some sort of sanity prevails and we can have this schedule for February, and then I’d be happy (or at least resigned) to go back to the “Morning NYC” schedule for the next meeting in the southern winter.

Assuming it’s still virtual that is. The June 2021 meeting is currently scheduled for Okayama in Japan, and I’m hoping we might possibly be able to do it face-to-face by then.

I’ll let you know how it goes as this meeting continues.

New content today:

Warm equinox

It was unseasonally warm again today. Not only was the forecast maximum 30°C, but for much of the day the hourly forecast said it would still be 28°C at midnight! Also, we’re expecting a late evening storm, so the humidity will be very high. As it turned out, we only reached 29°, and the midnight forecast is now down to 20°. That’s still fairly warm for overnight though.

I did my 5k run as early as I could to avoid the heat of the day, but I had to stay home until the annual mandatory fire inspection was done, so didn’t leave until almost 9am, by which time it was getting warm already. I didn’t run a very good time – I’m going to claim because of the heat.

Didn’t do much else, except make some comics and take Scully for a play and walk at the dog park.

New content today:

Virtual Finland

I should be in Finland right now. If not for COVID-19, I would be. My next ISO Photography Standards meeting was scheduled for Tampere in Finland, beginning Monday. But of course it’s been converted to an online meeting, so I’m still at home. I was really looking forward to this one too, because I’ve never visited Finland.

Normally for these meetings I travel to arrive a couple of days early, to give myself time to do some sightseeing. Sightseeing helps with the jetlag, because I stay awake all day despite any tiredness and crash into bed in the evening. I use this method whenever I travel and it works reasonably well for me.

So, today I should have been sightseeing in Tampere. Instead, my wife and I went over to her sister’s new place. She recently moved house, so we went over to have a look at the new place. It was raining moderately heavily this morning, and we got a bit wet, but it was good to visit and see the place.

We got home, had lunch, took Scully for a run in the park, and played some Codenames Duet campaign games – winning Paris, but losing twice at the more difficult Madrid.

This week I have the virtual meeting. After last time, when it was at a time that meant I had to stay up late, they’ve shifted the time zone for this meeting. This time it’s on from 07:00 to 10:30 in my time zone, so it’s much more convenient. But because Australia is so far east, it’s actually on from Tuesday-Saturday in my time zone.

New content today: