The feel of autumn

I really noticed today that autumn is in the air. The weather has turned crisp and cool – the maximum temperature today was only 24.6°C, although it was cooler this morning when I was out and about. After my Ethics class I drove out to the Pitch-and-Putt golf course where I met a friend and we played 18 holes. The trees around the city are looking autumny – at least the ones that actually change colour. Liquidambars are going red, and the plane trees are going that dull brown colour and starting to drop their leaves.

It was the last Ethics class of the school term, with the students getting two weeks of holidays for the Easter break, so I have two weeks off now before the second term begins in mid-April. Today we talked about what constitutes punishment: is it punishment if it’s accidental, or unintended, or if the recipient enjoys it, or if it’s imposed by someone with no authority. (The last one was illustrated with the example of a boy who teases his younger sister, and she gets back at him by hiding his cricket bat. Is losing his cricket bat punishment, or is it only punishment if one of his parents takes it away?)

We had a good discussion. At the end of the class, one of the boys said he would be moving to a new school, so he wouldn’t be in the class next term. This reduces my class size down to 12 students. Which is much more manageable than the 21 I had last year.

At golf, I did poorly for the first 9 holes, but got my eye in and scored really well on the last 9.

Back home this afternoon I worked on photos and writing up my trip from a couple of weeks ago as a full travel diary – expanding the entries I posted here to add more details and photos.

Oh, I should mention that Comments on a Postcard is running low on submissions. This is the easiest webcomic in the world to submit material for! If you’re reading this, you probably have what it takes to submit some stuff – so please take a look.

New content today:

Back into running, and dog bandanas

Today I felt like I needed to get back into running, after a long break due to my trip away, followed by a week of heavy rain. My last 5k run was 3 March, so it’s been almost 4 weeks. I decided to take it a bit easy rather than strive for a good time. And I was forced to stop at the half-way mark to remove a painful stone from my shoe, which affected my time anyway. But I managed to keep the time under 30 minutes at 29:28, which I was reasonably happy with.

Apart from that I mostly worked on Darths & Droids writing and making new strips today. I still have to rebuild the buffer a bit more after my week away.

I also baked some sourdough this morning, and I’m glad to say the starter seems to have survived a week of neglect while I was away.

Oh, and I drew up a sizing chart for my wife’s hand-sewn dog bandanas (as in drew by hand) – which you can see on all of the listings on her brand new Etsy shop! If you have a pet and would like a cool bandana, check it out!

New content today:

Improving home lighting

For a long time I’ve been searching for another Philips SceneSwitch light bulb, the sort with three different brightness and colour temperature settings that you can control simply by flicking the normal light switch. We have them in the living room, dining area, and hallway, and they’re incredibly good. I wanted another for the bedroom, but have been unable to find one in stock anywhere. It turns out they’ve stopped making them.

I finally got fed up enough to decide to get a Philips Hue bulb, for it’s brightness and colour changing properties. It’s more expensive than the SceneSwitch, but also more configurable. So today I walked up to the hardware store and bought one. I’ve put it into the living room, where we’re most likely to desire different coloured lighting, and moved a SceneSwitch to the bedroom. I’ve been playing with it using the Bluetooth app on my phone, and it’s really cool.

And now all my friends have been asking about it and my opinions on it. One mentioned he was interested in setting up some bias lighting and maybe a Hue bulb would be useful. I did a bit of searching and discovered that Philips also makes light strips as part fo the Hue range! So now my friend is seriously considering getting one of those. I also told my wife, and she was instantly keen on getting one, saying she loves coloured lights and it’d feel like Christmas all year round!

I wonder what I’ve got myself in for now…

New content today:

More birthday events

Today we had a Sunday lunch with my wife’s family – a larger event than the usual family gathering as it was for her grandmother’s 98th birthday, and various uncles and cousins who we don’t see very often were there too. It was at a restaurant in a park by one of the beaches on Sydney Harbour, and it was a lovely autumn day, warm without being too hot. Lots of people were having picnics on the grass, and kids were running around playing and dogs were having fun and the sun was sparkling off the water and the yachts in the nearby marina were basking in the light.

And the food was really nice too. It was one of those extended lazy lunches – the sort of thing that happens when a large group goes to a restaurant, and everyone chats and nobody actually gets around to ordering food for nearly an hour. I was glad my wife suggested we have a snack before before leaving home to drive over there.

That really ate up most of the day. I did some housecleaning work in the morning, and that was about it.

New content today:

Scully’s birthday!

More things held over from yesterday:

It was Scully’s 3rd birthday!

Scully's 3rd birthday

I spent some time with her running around on the grass and through bushwalking tracks on Georges Head, which overlooks Sydney Harbour.

Scully's 3rd birthday

She also had an evening play date with her poodle friend Luna next door (while I was at games night). And she got a new lizard soft toy to play with.

Oh, my wife made the bandana! She’s been getting into sewing dog bandanas, as I mentioned earlier to sell on my market stall, and has now just opened up an Etsy store. If you have a know a dog, check it out!

Changing topics, I remember an amusing moment from our game of Legacy of Dragonholt last night. At one point our adventuring party went into the bakery in the village of Dragonholt. The baker was described as a very muscular dwarf. One guy said, “How does a baker get muscles?” Both me and the other guy who got me into sourdough baking answered, “Kneading bread!!”

Today I didn’t do much other than writing new Darths & Droids comics. Oh, I fixed the door handle of our front door, which had become a bit loose. It just needed the cover plates taken off and some screws tightened. And, we went to dinner at a local place that specialises in salmon dishes, which was very nice.

New content today:

Parks and Recreation

A late daily update, because last night was fortnightly games night. We’re well and truly back to in-person board games with COVID restrictions pretty much entirely lifted here now due to the zero level of transmission.

We played Devil Bunny Needs a Ham as a light starter while waiting for everyone to arrive. Then we moved into a game of Parks, a new game which the owner was very keen to play. This was followed by the next chapter of Legacy of Dragonholt, the choose-your-own-adventure-ish roleplaying style game we started a fortnight ago. And after that we ended with a few rounds of No Thanks.

Parks was really interesting and fun. The theme is visiting the various National Parks of the USA, and each one is represented by a card with absolutely gorgeous artwork. I am seriously tempted to buy this game just because of the art. As the owner explained the rules to the rest of us:

We each have two hikers. They move along this randomly configured track – each turn you can move one of them as many spaces as you like, but they have to land on an unoccupied space. Unless you use your campfire, in which case you can land on an occupied space, but your campfire goes out and can’t be used again. Each space gives you one or more resources of various types: suns, water, forests, mountains, or animals (he shows us the little wooden tokens representing the resources). Notice the animals tokens are all different animals (he shows us: there’s a moose, a bison, a mountain lion, a bear, etc. The tokens are very nice). The animals are wild. On some of the spaces you get the opportunity to spend your resources to buy equipment, which provides various benefits, and on other spaces you can spend your resources to buy one of the displayed National Park cards, which are worth points. And at the ending space of the movement track you can choose to either buy equipment, a park, or to go first in the next round. We play four rounds and add up our points.

Parks board game

There are a few other details and ways to score points which I’ve omitted for brevity, but they’re not important to understanding the flavour of the game. The important thing is that although you can move your hikers as far as you want, you actually want to move as slowly as possible in order to pick up as many resources as you can, balanced with desiring certain types of resources and wanting to get to that space before anyone else, so you don’t need to spend your one and only campfire. This mechanic is very similar to the movement mechanic used in Tokaido, which is a glorious game.

Parks board game

Anyway, we started playing, and collecting various resources, and buying the National Parks. Three parks are displayed for purchase and replenished as people buy them. We noticed they required various amounts of sunshine, water, forests, or mountains to buy, but after a few more parks were revealed, I said, “Hmm, none of the parks so far require animals.”

The owner said, “No, the animals are wild.”

I said, “Yeah, we know they’re wild, you told us… but why aren’t there any on the parks cards?”

He said, “They’re wild. You can use them as any resource.”

And everybody else around the table simultaneously went, “Oohhhhhh!!! You meant they’re wild!!”

Followed by a hubbub of hilarity in which we all said things like, “Yeah, we remember you told us they were wild and we just thought sure, they’re wild animals, obviously, duh…”

After we’d all stopped laughing for five minutes we resumed playing. It was great.

New content today:

Standards meeting and ethics course

Today I chaired a Standards Australia meeting on photography, following up on the ISO Photography standards meeting held a few weeks ago. This is where I report back to the Australian expert committee on events and discussions from that ISO meeting. We also discuss the standards currently up for ballots and decide what Australia’s vote will be. COVID is still keeping our local meetings virtual, so it was all via Zoom. We had a good attendance today, so that was good.

The other main thing I did today was complete work on my Critical Thinking and Ethics course for Outschool. I’ve submitted the completed course description, but they need to go over it and approve it before it becomes public, which can take a day or two. When it’s ready for students, I’ll let you know.

New content today:


I’m feeling really exhausted today. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the hectic week away last week finally catching up to me. But I woke up this morning and had to struggle to drag myself out of bed. I needed to get up to have breakfast and get ready to go teach my Ethics class. And as I was sitting in the room at the school waiting for the kids to arrive, I just felt drained of energy.

The class went mostly well. I think I have all the kids’ names more or less memorised and matched to faces. I made a couple of mistakes, but correcting those in my mind gives me a full set of matches now, I think. We’ll see next week if I can get them all right. The replacement teacher last week while I was away finished the voting topic with them, so today we started a new topic: Punishment.

This is a long one, we have four weeks on this. It covers the concepts of understanding what punishment is, and whether it’s needed in a society. Today we started with imagining if you had a magic ring of invisibility, and thinking about what you would do, and what other people might do. The kids were all pretty much into the idea that if they had an invisibility ring they would rob banks, and steal stuff, and play pranks on people. So we moved onto the idea that if you can get away with something bad without being punished, would you do it? Or would you still do the “right” thing? Do you think other people would do the right thing if there was no punishment?

And that was basically lesson one of the discussion. Next week we move on to other aspects of the topic. It was a good and lively discussion, but this meant that there was a certain amount of spontaneous chatter that I had to calm down to get attention and focus back on me. We’ll see how it goes next week.

Today I worked more on my planned Ethics course for Outschool. I’m almost at the point of uploading the info and opening the course. Maybe tomorrow.

New content today:

A new Outschool course

Today I worked on preparing a new course that I’ll be teaching on Outschool. One on Critical and Ethical Thinking. I have a good idea what material will be involved and how to teach it, and I don’t need to prepare any slides for it. But to put a class on Outschool you need a cover image. And again I couldn’t use anything under any sort of copyright or accreditation license. I either need public domain images or to make my own.

So I spent a fair bit of time firstly thinking about how to represent the topic in an image with no words, and then drawing this:

Critical thinking

I think that should work!

I also made pizza for dinner tonight – and for the first time I made the dough from scratch myself.

Home made pizza

I topped it with tomato paste, mozzarella cheese, pumpkin, walnuts, feta, and chilli flakes.

Home made pizza

And after a quick bake in the oven it looked like this!

Home made pizza


Oh! And the rain finally stopped today! There was no rain for much of the afternoon. Although the clouds were still thick and grey. I haven’t seen blue sky for a week now.

New content today:

Catching up on things

My wife set an alarm for 6:30 this morning, intending to start getting up early again this week in preparation for returning to work next week. I heard the alarm go off and assumed she got up. I woke up properly around 7:30, and she was still asleep! So, catching up on sleep, after our road trip and a fairly hectic weekend after we got back home.

After breakfast I went to buy some groceries so we’d have fresh milk and dinners this week. Catching up on food stocks.

I spent some time writing annotations for that batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips that I made in the week before we went away. So catching up on that.

And then I sorted through my bird photos from the holiday and entered them into my bird photo database. I photographed 5 species for the first time on last week’s trip, taking my total to 295 species. (There are 296 entries in the database, as I have one for “Unidentified”.) The new ones are: bar-tailed godwit, Far Eastern curlew, Pacific golden plover, scaly-breasted lorikeet, and little egret.

(I should probably point out that the list of photos in the database is incomplete – I have yet to go back through my older photos and add links to them all. The number of species is correct, I just haven’t indexed all of the photos into it yet.)

I’m pretty excited about the Far Eastern curlew, as this is an endangered species. Wikipedia says it’s estimated to number 38,000 individuals as of 2006, but I found another site that with a more recent estimate from 2015 which is even lower, at 32,000 individuals. Here’s the photo I got:

Far Eastern curlew

Unfortunately it was across the mudflats and I couldn’t get any closer. So, anyway, catching up on bird photo cataloguing.

And a bunch of houseworky stuff – catching up on folding laundry.

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