Let’s get physical

Today was a day of physical activity. I wanted to get back into my running, having had a couple of weeks off due to bad weather. I decided to start easy and only do a 1k “sprint” rather than a full 5k run.

That also meant I could finish that, plus a stretching routine, early enough to head out to the pitch and putt golf course for a game. I contacted my friend and he met me there, so we played together. In our initial game he granted me a handicap of 18 for matchplay, and suggested we decrease it by 1 every time I beat him. I’d gotten it down to 14, bouncing around that area. But today I blitzed him and won 14-3 (with the last hole halved). I scored a total of 75 strokes, which is my best ever on that course, beating my previous best of 79 by 4 strokes. And I recalculated what our matchplay scores would have been with different handicaps… all the way down to a handicap of 2, at which point we would have scored 9 holes each today.

So I’m pretty chuffed. But this does suggest my true handicap relative to my friend is probably something closer to 8, rather than 14. I don’t think it’s as good as 2 – today I felt freakishly good compared to normal.

After playing 18 holes, my friend left and I went next door to the driving range to hit a bucket of balls. I’m reasonably happy with short strokes, chipping, putting, and hitting irons up to about the 5 or 6. But I wanted to get some solid practice hitting a 3 iron and a driver. These clubs are my bane – and it’s hard to get practice during an actual round of golf because you hit them so infrequently. I flubbed several hits, but did manage to get some sort of groove with hitting them eventually, so that felt pretty good.

After that I went to my favourite pie shop by the beach for lunch. I planned to get a butter chicken pie, but they had sold out, so I settled for chicken in white wine sauce. It’s actually a sort of cheesy bĂ©chamel, and really delicious. Then I drove home just in time to meet my wife who is currently working mornings in the office and coming home at lunch time to work from home each afternoon.

I went for a walk with Scully up to the post office to mail an Etsy order (from my shop), and do some other shopping. Scully is now pooped and sleeping all evening, and I am tired and have that sort of muscle stiffness that comes after a day of physical exertion. No pains, but just good honest exhaustion.

New content today:


Almost two years ago now a friend mentioned to me that she was using an online teaching platform called Outschool, to arrange home schooling classes for her children. She mentioned it to me because some years ago we’d played a couple of GURPS roleplaying campaigns…

[ Those campaigns were a D&D-esque fantasy game in which she played an elf named Alvissa, and a space-faring science fiction game in which she played a human pilot named Paris. Followers of Irregular Webcomic! may recognise the inspiration for a couple of the characters in that comic. ]

… and so she knew I was into running tabletop RPGs. I’d also mentioned to her that I was volunteering to teach schoolkids science and ethics at a couple of primary schools. She connected the dots and mentioned that on Outschool there were people offering classes that were essentially D&D games for kids, and that maybe I’d be interested in signing up to do the same.

I went home and checked Outschool, and they said they accepted teachers from the US, Canada, and Australia, so I signed up. But then a few days later I got a message saying my application to teach was rejected because they only supported teachers in the US – and the Help pages had been updated to reflect that change. I inquired by email, and they said they’d just changed their rules, but they hoped to reopen for teachers in Australia in the future.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago, when I got reminded of Outschool by a news email from them. It didn’t mention anything about Australian teachers, but I decided to take a quick look at their site again, and lo and behold, the Help pages had been updated to indicate they are now accepting teachers form the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand!

So I decided to complete my application to become a teacher on the site. Two years ago they only required a written application, but now they want a 3-5 minute video introducing yourself and showing a sample of teaching something. I’ve been busy for the past week, but today I sat down to record a video. I recorded a brief piece about the history of astronomy, in particular how the ancients regarded and used stars to track the passage of the seasons, leading up to Angelo Secchi’s 1863 discovery that the stars are similar to our sun – or to put it another way, that the sun is a star. Prior to this, nobody had ever known that.

I finished my application, listing my background and experience in teaching, and uploaded the video. The form said it would take a few days for applications to be processed.

But just a few hours later I’ve received an email from Outschool, saying that my application has been accepted! There’s one more step, which is a background check to ensure that I’m okay to work with children and don’t have a criminal record, but that won’t be a problem since I’m already approved by the NSW Government to teach children. It’ll take a bit of time, but once it’s done I can start offering classes to children all around the world! (Or at least in the US, Canada, Australia, and NZ.) And the time zones work out great, because late morning here is early evening in North America, so I can get students from all the countries in my classes at once.

I’m really excited about this – both because I love teaching kids cool science stuff, and because it will (hopefully) provide a moderate income to supplement what I’ve been making so far from my photography, and thus help me in my goal of not having to find an employer again.

Anyway, that’s been my day, pretty much. I made a 4 minute video, but that took all morning, with several takes, and then editing to add illustrative slides and so on. And then I had to complete the text parts of my application, listing all my experience and qualifications and then writing some sample class outlines. I had a bit of a relax this afternoon, taking Scully to the dog park, and cooking dinner and the usual stuff. But I’m mentally exhausted!

New content today:

A tale of profiteroles

This morning I drove my wife and Scully down to a local market a few suburbs away, so she could browse around and then walk Scully home for some exercise. She bought a box of profiteroles from a bakery stall there…

… which we took to her mother’s place after lunch to share with the family. They were pretty good.

I didn’t do much else today – it was really kind of a relaxing day off.

New content today:

Greenwich Arts Trail

A few days ago my wife mentioned a thing she’d discovered via a local community Instagram account that she started following. A suburb over from us is holding the Greenwich Village Arts Trail this weekend.

This is a group of local artists who live in the suburb, and who have their homes, gardens, and/or studios open for visitors to come and see their work. The organisers published a map showing the locations and a suggested walking route leading past all 22 of the participants.

Since we live walking distance from the area, we sent a few hours today (with Scully) waking from house to house, checking out the art and the talking to the artists. There were a couple of photographers, several painters, a wood sculptor, jewellery and textiles crafters, and a few ceramics sculptors and pottery makers. The whole vibe was very local and friendly, with only up to a dozen or so people at each location at a time, so it was easy to have a chat with the artists. I picked up a bunch of business cards and handed out several of my own with my photography details on them.

I mentioned to some of the artists that I live just in the next suburb – in fact literally across the street from Greenwich – and maybe next year I could get involved and display some of my photography as well. I don’t think they’ll stretch as far as including a non-Greenwich location on the trail, but I may be able to arrange a display space in Greenwich somewhere and participate that way. We’ll see – I’ll contact the organisers and see what they say.

New content today:

Sweet treats are made of this

On our weekend trip last weekend my wife and I found a hidden gem in the town of Berry, a place called The Treat Factory. In the grand tradition of little country towns, this was a place that manufactures all manner of chocolates and lollies, and as well they also do a line in jams, mustards, sauces, and similar things. While there, we browsed the stuff for sale, and I saw… liquorice rocky road. I had to buy some.

Liquorice rocky road

This is part of the chunk I brought home. It’s like rocky road, but it also has liquorice allsorts in it. Wow… what a brilliant idea! I’m halfway through eating it and it’s just as awesome as it sounds.

And while on sweet treats, I have a special dessert I made for myself today to have during fortnightly games night. I started with cream and Arnott’s Choc Ripple biscuits. And some rum:

Choc Ripple cake

I whipped the cream, and then folded in some mascarpone (not shown separately) and added a dash of the rum. Then made alternating layers of cream and biscuits.

Choc Ripple cake

The final result is covered and placed in the fridge for several hours, to allow the cream to soak into and soften the biscuits. Essentially it’s like a poor man’s tiramisu. I heard about this from a friend who was making it himself a few days ago, and he claimed it’s a classic Aussie dessert that everybody knows – although I’d never heard of it before. Other friends of mine said they knew it, but oh well..

Choc Ripple cake

The other main thing I did today was make Darths & Droids strips. Oh, and grocery shopping. Not much to report there really. Except blueberries have gone up from $2 a punnet to $2.50. They’ve been cheap recently and I’ve bought some every week to go on my muesli, but it looks like the price is starting to go up again.

New content today:

Out with the old, in with the new

Today I threw out an old cotton jacket that was getting a bit threadbare. I had to cut off the dinosaur buttons that I’d sewn onto the cuffs to replace a missing button some years ago, as I want to keep the buttons.

I bought a new jacket a few weeks ago, but I don’t like throwing away old clothes, so the old one kept hanging around. But today I decided to bite the bullet and toss it. Farewell, old jacket.

I spent today writing and discussing Darths & Droids with friends via online chat. We expanded a lot on General Hux’s character backstory as part of this. We wrote four strips, which is good work for a day – tomorrow I’ll assemble them.

And I took Scully to doggie daycare and picked her up, as it was a very wet and miserable day, so difficult to let her get exercise outside. Instead she got to play with other dogs indoors, which always wears her out. Oh, and I did some boring financial/tax/accounting stuff.

New content today:

US election fatigue

“Politics” is not a tag I expected to use here, but there it is for the first time. Obviously the biggest news of the day across the globe is the US election, and like many people I’ve been trying to keep up with the results and all of the other stuff that’s going on with it. Enough said.

In between I’ve been working on that Irregular Webcomic! batch. I completed assembling the comics and am now in the middle of writing annotations. I won’t finish that until tomorrow, or possible even later, as I’ve done enough to last for at least the rest of this week already, and I have other priorities for the next couple of days.

This morning I had my Primary Ethics class, and we started a new topic on “Appeal to authority”, which is a bit of a misleading title, as the topic is really more about when, if ever, does it make sense to challenge or break rules or laws. The first story was about a girl in wheelchair who moves to a new school and wants to play basketball like she did at her old school. A teacher says she can’t play basketball because she might get hurt, and rules that she’s not allowed to.

The kids were pretty on side with the idea that the teacher was just making up a rule on the spot, and it was a bad rule – although it was understandable why the teacher did it, probably to avoid potential danger and not get into trouble. They said the rule should be challenged, possibly by finding out how the girl played basketball at her old school and talking to the teachers there about it. We’ll develop this topic over the next couple of weeks, and it should be interesting.

And tonight there’s a football game on. I’m going to relax and decompress while I watch the COVID-delayed State of Origin opening game for this year.

New content today:

Getting stuck into that comics batch

That’s pretty much what I did today: Worked on the next batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips.

I started with the photography first thing in the morning after breakfast. That took me up to close to lunch time, when I took a break to go out for a walk and get a tandoori chicken pie for lunch. After lunch I started work on assembling the comics in Photoshop. I’m about halfway through that task.

I did take another break to take Scully to the park for some exercise and play with other dogs. While there I noticed some construction/drilling work being done at two sites in the dog park. The regulars told me that this was the beginning of exploratory drilling for construction of the new Western Harbour Tunnel road project, which was approved just a few weeks ago.

The new harbour tunnel will pass directly below the dog park, and there’ll be construction sites and stuff interfering with the park for the next six years. We may even lose part of the dog park permanently – that’s not clear yet.

The annoying thing is that Sydney’s road infrastructure is being expanded at a rapid rate in a misguided effort to “reduce congestion” – when adding roads merely induces demand to the point where congestion is just as bad as before. All the city planners and traffic planners know this, but the NSW Government keeps building more roads anyway, because the drivers/voters demand it. Ugh.

New content today:

Back to the comics grind

It’s Monday, the day after my weekend trip, and that means back to work – making comics! I had to compete writing a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! today, in preparation for photographing tomorrow morning.

Apart from that, I did a large grocery shop, since we were out of a lot of things and the shopping list was pretty full.

And I went through some more of the photos from the weekend trip. Here’s that floodwater that stopped us driving further along the road that was cut off:

Gerringong Creek flooded

An artistic shot of the suspension bridge over the creek:

Gerringong Creek suspension bridge

And a pied currawong:

Pied currawong

New content today:

Road trip day 3

I’m back home tonight, after a day on the road with my wife and Scully. We left our accommodation Kangaroo Valley this morning, and drove to Bowral in steady rain. We had a nice lunch there, then headed back home, arriving around 5pm. Overall, since leaving home on Friday morning we’ve driven 438 km.

I’ve had time to process a few photos from the the trip, so here they are. First, Kiama Lighthouse:

Kiama Lighthouse

The ocean pool at Kiama:

Kiama rock pool

What I’m guessing is an unnamed intermittent waterfall (that only appears after heavy rain), spotted on the escarpment of Budderoo National Park, from our drive up Upper Kangaroo Valley:

Budderoo waterfall

The road that was flooded, cutting our progress up Upper Kangaroo Valley – you can see from the flood depth marker that the water is more than a metre deep over the road:

Gerringong Creek flood

A view of some farming country in Upper Kangaroo Valley:

End of Treefern Road

And a view from Cambewarra Lookout, over the Shoalhaven River and the towns of Bomaderry (this side of the river) and Nowra (far side):

Cambewarra Storm

New content today: