Welp. 99.9% sure I have tonsillitis. All the right symptoms, including one alarmingly swollen tonsil. I’ll go to my doctor in the morning to confirm, and maybe get some antibiotics if he thinks it’s bacterial. I’ve never had this before, so it’s a learning experience. I’m confident it’s not anything COVID related, since Australia reached 14 days with no new local cases today (there are always a few cases newly arrived from overseas, automatically in quarantine). But unfortunately Western Australia later reported a new case, in a quarantine hotel worker, so almost certainly caught from one of those quarantined people. Hopefully that person won’t cause any further infection spread and we can start counting zero-case days again.

In other news, this morning I cooked sourdough crumpets!

Home made sourdough crumpets

My sourdough-starter-gifting friend has been making these and shared the recipe with me. It’s pretty easy, but they take a long time to cook, because you need to fry them over a really low heat to avoid burning the bottom. You pour the batter into egg rings to make them nice and circular. The first few I didn’t cook long enough and they were doughy in the middle, so I cooked the rest a lot longer, until the bottom and top were golden brown.

Home made sourdough crumpets

I had a couple with butter, and then one with honey, and that was enough for a filling breakfast. Not bad, but a lot more labour intensive than baking a sourdough loaf. I’ll make them again, but not every week.


  • 150 g sourdough starter
  • 300 g water
  • 300 g flour

Leave overnight. In the morning add:

  • 8 g sugar
  • 6 g salt
  • 4 g baking powder

Fry in rings over low heat to avoid burning bottom.

New content today:

Grooming and crepes

Scully went in for a haircut and groom today. She was getting a bit shaggy, as she does in the last week or two before her next grooming appointment. Being a poodle, her hair doesn’t shed, it just grows longer like human hair, so it’s necessary to have it cut every so often. The dog groomer washes her first and gets her nice and clean, then trims her coat. Now she’s all soft and velvety. We just have a basic puppy cut, which is basically the same length all over, not one of those fancy-shmancy French poodle type cuts.

During the day I wrote some comics for the next batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips that I’ll be making next week.

And tonight for dinner I went out with my wife and Scully to a French creperie a couple of suburbs over. It’s run by some guys who emigrated from France and decided they missed good crepes so much that they should start a restaurant. And the crepes are very good indeed, accompanied by imported French cider. Tonight I tried the peri peri chicken galette – which is no doubt not very traditional, but I felt like it. Most of the rest of the menu is probably more traditionally French.

New content today:

Rainy chore Friday

It’s been raining non-stop all day today, and much cooler than average summer temperatures. Which is a nice change from the heatwave we began the week with.

I had a lot of errands to run and little tasks to do today. I started with an ISO Photography Standards meeting at 8am, via Zoom. This was a preliminary scheduling meeting to go over the proposed agenda for the week-long meeting coming up in February. Last time someone suggested doing this to lock the agenda for the week in, and avoid having timetabling changes during the meeting. Some people schedule specific times to dial into the meeting, and discover that the technical discussion they were interested in happened a couple of hours earlier, or is moved to another day. To avoid that, this time the plan is to discuss the agenda a few weeks before, and for people to raise any issues that might cause sessions to move around, so we can move them now, rather than during the main meeting. We ended up cancelling one session and shuffling a couple of others around to improve the knock-off time for people who will be dialling in from Europe late at night.

That meeting took a bit over half an hour. I sent around a few emails to Australian experts to update them on the schedule changes.

Then I went out to do the weekly grocery shopping. And I decided I really needed a haircut, since I’ve been avoiding the barber for several weeks with COVID going around over Christmas. So I went to the barber first and had to wait for a couple of customers before me. After that I did the shopping.

This evening is fortnightly board games night, and we’re doing it in person again since New South Wales has now had no reported cases of COVID for getting close to two weeks now. I wanted to go out to the local craft beer shop and buy a bunch of random unusual beers for people to try. I also wanted to visit the kitchen supply shop next door to get some crumpet rings, for making sourdough crumpets. I drove over, and discovered the beer place didn’t open until midday! But at least I could run across the road into the kitchen place and buy the crumpet rings. Then I drove home, had lunch, and drove back out again afterwards to get the beer.

When I got home, my wife rang me to ask if I’d mind taking Scully to the doggie daycare this afternoon. Scully’s been going a bit stir-crazy in the rainy weather the past two days, and my wife thought she might get uncontrollable this afternoon and constantly want to go outside while she’s trying to work from home. So I met them outside and drove Scully over to the daycare place.

Back home, I needed to fill out some paperwork (online) to renew my Working With Children Check. My current one expires in March, and I need this to continue my volunteer work teaching Ethics and science in schools. It’s basically providing a bunch of ID information, then they give you an application number and you need to take all the ID in to an office to have someone physically check and confirm it’s you, and then they start the process of checking you out for child-related criminal offences or whatever. Speaking of Ethics, I got news that this year’s classes will start on 17 February.

Now I’m going to queue this up to post later tonight when the new comics go live, and get ready for games night!

New content today:

More running – 5k on the streets

After yesterday’s 2.5k run, I felt inspired to go out again today. I was all ready to go after breakfast, but when I got out the front door it was starting to rain. A quick look at the radar told me it was going to get heavier, so I called it off.

But after lunch the rain had stopped and the clouds looked lighter, so I ventured out. This time I tried to find another flattish route different to what I did yesterday. I walked up the nearest steep hill to the top of the ridge, and from there ran along the road that follows the ridge down to the harbour. This way I avoided most of the constant up and down climbing into and out of valleys. Of course heading downhill meant most of the back half was uphill, but thankfully the slopes weren’t too huge today.

By the time I got to the end of the ridge, down near the water, I’d covered 2.25 km. Coming back I went down some side streets instead of the main road, so it was a little longer and I hit 5k just before I got home, so the distance was good. I was pretty worn out by the end of it though. The weather was 22.1°C, 73% humidity. Nice and cool, but that humidity was nasty.

But I was happy to have covered the distance without slowing to a walk.

The other thing I did for most of the day was work on my Outschool class materials. I need to find diagrams to illustrate human vision and colour perception. There are plenty of good ones on the net, but I need them to be public domain, or royalty free, and that restricts things a lot. By the end of the day I’d only really found two half-decent images I could use, both old diagrams out of copyright.

But I’ve now decided that it’ll be easier for me to just draw all my own diagrams. I’ll put together the class notes, and decide what diagrams I want, and then sit down and draw them all in a batch. So that’s the task for the next few days.

New content today:

Cool running

The heatwave broke overnight and today dawned cool, although it was still very humid.

I decided to finally go on that run I’d wanted to do a few days ago. Normally I walk up to the nearest sports oval and run laps around the inside of the fence, because it’s flat. Running along streets around where I live is a recipe for going up and down a lot of hills, some of them pretty steep, and I usually want to avoid that.

But today I felt like taking a more scenic route, and hills be damned. I did a 2.5 km loop which is I think about the flattest possible route I could find in the area, but it still involves going up and down a lot, from a maximum altitude of 67 metres, down to essentially just a metre or two above sea level. I paused a a few places along the way to take photos, and I uploaded them into an album with comments.

The weather when I ran was 22.5°C, but 86% humidity. It didn’t feel too hot while running, but once I stopped and went inside, the sweating started up and just didn’t stop for ages. All I was doing was sitting down, drinking cold water, and occasionally wiping myself with a cold, damp cloth, but it took over an hour to start to feel comfortable again.

I spent today editing together the video I made for Outschool, as a teacher introduction. My teacher profile isn’t publicly viewable yet, because I haven’t made a class, but once it is, I’ll be able to point to it. I also started writing a class description for my first planned class. I’m going to do a class on “Human vision and colour perception” for kids of age 11-13.

Speaking of teaching, school started today after the summer holidays – the start of a brand news school year. My Ethics classes won’t be starting for a few weeks, as the school gets the kids settled in – I’m guessing my first class with the new kids will be late February.

New content today:

Australia Day 2021

It’s the last day of the unofficial four-day weekend, and also the hottest day of the current four-day long heatwave that is clenching south-eastern Australia. We are expected to get some reprieve from the heat tomorrow, but there wont be a sudden cooling down this evening – it’s still going to be quite warm at midnight, and cool gently into a milder day tomorrow.

I got up this morning, had breakfast, and was just about to get a batch of sourdough that I’d made yesterday out of the fridge to shape into a loaf for baking… and the power went out.

A check of the power company website confirmed a blackout across a couple of suburbs, affecting approximately 1700 homes. Interestingly, my property was right on the edge of the affected zone, as shown on the map. Close enough such that the block of townhouses next door to us still had power. Anyway, not knowing when I’d have power to use the oven, I left the dough in the fridge, and hoped that the blackout wouldn’t last long enough for frozen things to start melting.

It’s sobering how little of your normal daily routine you can do with no power. Instead I did a session of stretching exercises. Then I was bored enough to clean the bathroom, thoroughly washing the floor and then polishing the tiles, and start work on cleaning the kitchen. The power came back about 9:30 am, and I immediately turned the air conditioning on, because it was already getting very hot.

Sydney city reached 37°C, and some suburban areas approached 42°C. The city is almost always cooler because it’s close to the coast, and inland suburbs hotter. It was the hottest Australia Day for some large number of years which I forget – something of the order of 50 or 60 years. And, including the day before the heatwave officially began, Sydney recorded its 5th consecutive day of temperatures above 30°C – which is a thing that has happened only 7 times since weather records began in 1858. And all 7 of those 5-day high temperature streaks occurred either this summer or last summer. Sydney had never experienced 5 days that hot in a row before 2019.

Outdoors was oven-like, and also very humid by the way. This was not a “dry heat” by any stretch of the imagination. It was oppressively humid. I had to take Scully out for toilets a couple of times, and although I stood still, in the deep shade of a tree, and in fact there was a bit of a breeze, I was still dripping with sweat after a couple of minutes. So we spent most of the day inside with the air conditioning making things bearable.

Until about 3:20 pm when my wife and I settled down to watch the first episode of series 11 of Doctor Who – the first Jodie Whitaker episode. I had navigated the DVD menu and my thumb was just about to press the button to start playing the episode… and the power went off again. Checking the power company map on my phone, the same area was affected, but with a few additional small areas as well.

Again, it didn’t come back on for a couple of hours, during which the house slowly got warmer. So we had about 4 hours without power in total, over two separate blackouts. I have no idea what the problem was. I can only hope that it doesn’t occur again.

Time for some ice cream… I think.

New content today:

Long weekend by proxy, day 3

It’s the Monday before Australia Day, and my wife has taken the day off work, so it’s kind of a 4-day weekend for us.

A new poll released this morning finds that 48% of Australians think that Australia Day (our official national day) should remain on the 26th of January, while 28% think that the date should be changed (with 24% not committed either way). This is a never-ending public debate, which, frankly, will continue to never end until the date is finally changed. The tide is slowly turning – those numbers in favour of changing the date have been increasing over the years, and they will continue to increase as younger generations of Australians replace older ones.

For anyone not aware, Australia Day is the 26th of January, which is the anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet of English settlers (and convicts) to arrive in Australia, in 1788. Australia’s indigenous population, quite naturally, don’t view this is a particularly good date to be celebrating – seeing it instead as a date when their land was stolen and their culture upended. Older, conservative, white Australians tend to say it’s a day for all Australians to come together and celebrate being a united nation, blind to the fact that this is insulting to the indigenous population. Younger Australians are more sensitive to this sort of issue and are starting to get behind the calls to change the date of Australia’s national day to something less offensive and more actually unifying.

I have no doubt whatsoever that the date of Australia Day will be changed in the future. It’s just a question of how soon. It’ll take the order of a generation, for the older conservative population to die away and the younger population to replace them. Interestingly, Wikipedia’s article on Australia Day has half the entire content just on the campaign to change the date.

Australia has this weird relationship with so many of our national symbols. There’s also a strong movement to change the flag, to remove the Union Jack from the corner, as it’s an old symbol of allegiance to the United Kingdom, which feels inappropriate to growing numbers of Australians. The flag change movement was gaining in strength up until New Zealand had a referendum on changing their flag (for the same reason) in 2016. That failed to pass 57%-43%. If it had passed, the push to change Australia’s flag would have intensified, but the failure of NZ to change their flag (this time) has dampened our own flag change campaign for the past few years.

But again, I have no doubt Australia will change its flag in the future, because the younger generations now replacing the older ones will see it as more of a priority.

Another inevitable change is changing our form of government. We already had one referendum in 1999 on removing the Queen (Elizabeth II) as our head of state and becoming a republic. That quite possibly would have passed if only the government of the time hadn’t deliberately worded the referendum questions to cause maximal disruption to the republic movement and actively campaigned for a no vote. But it will come up again, and it will pass one day.

The fourth symbol is our national anthem – the lyrics of which were actually changed just weeks ago, on 1 January. One word of Advance Australia Fair was changed, from “Australians all let us rejoice, For we are young and free” to “Australians all let us rejoice, For we are one and free”. The original lyric was seen as being insensitive to the indigenous population and their 40,000+ year old culture, implying that Australian culture was “young” – in other words, implying that Australian culture began when Europeans arrived. This change had been proposed for a while but its adoption by the current government came out of the blue with an announcement just before the new year.

As it stands now, the Australian national anthem is the least reviled of our national symbols, but there is a small movement to change it – mostly because some people simply feel it is dirge-like and tedious as a song. I don’t think this change movement has legs, and I don’t believe the anthem will change any time in the foreseeable future.

But the others: Australia Day, the flag, and our system of government, they will all change. Probably within the next 20-30 years, if not sooner.

For Australians, this is the state of our existence, the mixed feelings many of us have for our national symbols, or the outright hostility we have for them and the desire to change them. We live with this constant public debate over each and every one of them. Australia Day does not unite Australians – it serves to remind us that we don’t agree on the basic symbols of our country, and that an ever growing proportion of our population want to change them.

I don’t know if this makes us unique in the world, or at least in first world democracies. Can you imagine 30% of Americans actively wanting to change the national day from the 4th of July to some other date, 40% of Americans wanting to change the American flag, 50% of Americans wanting to fundamentally change the American system of government, and maybe 10% of Americans wanting to change the national anthem from The Star Spangled Banner to something else? Imagine if this were the case – how would Americans feel every time the 4th of July rolled around and all of these things got splashed all over the media again and again and you were subjected to endless TV debate and discussion about how all of these things are offensive to large segments of the population? It’s hard to imagine, but that’s what it’s like to be Australian.

None of this is going to die down and go away, until these things, our national symbols, are changed. It’s only going to get more discussed, and more rehashed, and more protests and more public campaigns until it happens. It’s just so constantly tiring to hear it all again, every year, for as long as I can remember.


Today was as hot as yesterday, and tomorrow is going to be the peak of this current heatwave, with the hottest temperatures yet in the city. A cool change is forecast to hit tomorrow evening, and Wednesday should be cooler, thankfully. I basically spent the day indoors, using the air conditioning to stay cool – except when I had to take Scully out. But after dinner, we went for a walk with my wife up to the local shops to get some gelato for dessert. The breezy evening air after the sun had set was very nice, if still warm and humid. I had a very nice lamington gelato: chocolate gelato with chunks of chocolate, sponge cake, shredded coconut, and raspberry jam ripples. It was a special flavour for Australia Day, and it was delicious.

At least that’s something we can agree on.

New content today:

Long weekend day 2

The heatwave has really hit today. Yesterday was hot, but today was hotter, and also more humid. Fortunately near the coast we had a sea breeze keeping things somewhat cool, and the CBD registered only 34°C, but some outer suburbs reached above 40°C. Over in South Australia Adelaide city reached 43°C and some suburbs got as high as 45°C.

So mostly today we rested indoors, trying to keep Scully from wanting to go outside too much. She has a weird thing she does when she goes outside in very hot weather. As soon as she leaves the shade and enters the sunlight, she lies down on the ground. I’m not sure if she likes sunbaking, or if it’s just suddenly all too much and all she can think to do is collapse. She doesn’t lie in the sun in cooler weather.

My wife and I made three more attempts at Codenames Duet Vatican City in our ongoing campaign. The first two games ended quickly as we picked assassins in early turns. But the third game was a nailbiter, and we got down to sudden death time with only one spy left to guess, and I had a clue, but it was very loose, because she’d had to indicate three words with her final clue. Unfortunately I chose the wrong word, and we lost by the closest margin possible. We shall have to give it another go another day.

We also watched the Doctor Who special “Twice Upon a Time” – the one which ends Peter Capaldi’s tenure as The Doctor and begins Jodie Whitaker’s. Yes, we’re a few seasons behind still – this is the first time we’ve watched up to this point.

And… for dinner I made potato salad. With purple potatoes. The local supermarket recently renovated a bit and now they have fancy potatoes, so I thought I’d try the purples one. They taste… just like potatoes. But they do look cool!

New content today:

Finishing the filming

It’s Saturday, and the first day of what is effectively a four-day weekend, since my wife has taken Monday off work and Tuesday is Australia Day.

I started with some housecleaning, doing the vacuuming. I was planning to go for a run for some exercise, but when my wife got back in after taking Scully out first thing in the morning, she said it was already really hot outside. South-east Australia is experiencing heatwave conditions this weekend, and we could certainly feel it soon after sunrise. So I nixed that idea for another day.

I drove my wife to yoga class, and later in the day I took Scully for a drive to the pet shop, so we could get out of the house and do some walking around, without being out in the sun. Scully likes to sniff and explore all the nooks and crannies in the pet shop, so it’s a good place to go when the weather isn’t good for outdoor walks. And it’s inside a small shopping complex with a lot of furniture and homewares shops, so there’s plenty of other places to walk around too.

This evening, after dinner, we all went down to the harbour to film the remaining shots of my Outschool video, which I began filming on Thursday. I wanted to do the intro and ending by the water, with the city and the Opera House visible behind me. The area there down by the water is often busy, and there were a lot of people down there today having picnic dinners, or just walking along the waterfront. So I had a lot of curious onlookers as my wife filmed me reciting my lines. Hopefully there are some good takes and I can cut the video together in the next few days.

New content today:

New golf club test

This morning I played golf with my golfing friend at my local course, and I tried using the full set of clubs gifted to me by my neighbour (mentioned previously here). It turns out they’re a very nice set of clubs, newer and with more modern design than mine. They’re not the latest and greatest, but definitely a lot better than the clubs I was using.

Unfortunately, I failed to make the best use of them today. I messed up the first few holes and very quickly assured that I wouldn’t be producing any personal best total score today. However my luck changed on the par-4 7th hole, when I sank a chip from off the green, for a par. That was good – the first time I’ve ever scored par on that hole. I bogeyed the next two holes, which was good because I’m still at the stage where a bogey is a good personal score. So overall it wasn’t great but at least I ended the round of 9 on a high note.

I also baked a sourdough loaf today. But I forgot to put any salt in the dough, and it turned out… different. Definitely a different taste to normal and what you expect from bread. It was strange, but not actually bad. Although next time I’ll definitely try to remember the salt.

Most of the rest of the day I spent writing Darths & Droids strips. It’s amazing how you churn through them publishing three per week.

New content today: