Triple baking

This morning I had my Monday Outschool ethics class – same subject as last Friday with different students. It was interesting because another part of the discussion was about the difference between trusting doctors versus people advocating traditional/herbal medicines. Last Friday, the students all said definitely trust the doctors more. Today they both said definitely give the herbal medicine a go first. Obviously these opinions come from their upbringing, and it’s interesting to see how that can vary across a range of children.

I took care of some odds and ends today. I had to finish writing comments on a photography standards document draft and send it off. The ISO meeting begins on Friday, with a plenary session from 8:00-9:30 pm in my time zone. That’s not so bad, but the technical sessions during the following week are all going to be 11:00 pm-02:30 am each night, for five nights in a row. That’s going to be a very tough week.

Last time we had a plenary meeting, it was in Lisbon in 2019, and I flew there with my wife. I had a week of meetings while she did sightseeing, and then we spent another week doing more sightseeing around Portugal together, so it was very pleasant. This meeting should have been in Okayama in Japan, which would have been lovely too. But COVID made sure that didn’t happen as planned.

I also made two batches of dough today – one sourdough for a loaf of bread, and one pizza dough for dinner. We just had dinner, and I baked the sourdough straight after while the oven was still hot.

The title above is “triple baking” – the other one refers to last night. My wife decided she felt like an apple for dessert, but didn’t want to just eat a raw apple because of how cold the weather was. She commented casually that I could make some apple crumble…

So I did! Peeled a couple of apples, made some oat crumble topping, and baked the result. We had it hot out of the oven, and it was delicious! Although normally I like to cook with Granny Smith apples, which are nice and tart, but all we had were my wife’s apples, which are pink ladies. I thought they’d soften more quickly than Grannies, but they really didn’t and were still a bit too firm when we ate it. Oh well. Maybe next time I’ll buy a lot of Grannies.

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Relax Sunday

I had a bit of a sleep in this morning – I think I must have needed a bit of a catch up. I didn’t feel particularly active so didn’t do very much today, except for a long walk with my wife and Scully.

The quarterly Coal Loader Artisans Markets were on, and it’s a bit of a hike but within walking distance from us.

Coal Loader Market

As we arrived, there was an oil tanker being guided into port by tugboats, which was kind of interesting.

Coal Loader Market

As you can see it was a grey day, and it sprinkled lightly for a bit, but not so much that we really got wet. It was also very cold. My wife had gone out earlier with Scully and told me it was warm and sunny and I wouldn’t need a jumper. So I went to the market with just a jacket over my shirt, but the clouds rolled in and a cold wind as well, and I felt chilly the whole time.

This afternoon I relaxed and spent some time compiling historical dates for a project of a friend of mine: Bisecting History. For example, this one from earlier this month:

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Home alone

My wife was out for much of today, for a yoga class in the morning, and to go see a movie with her mother in the afternoon. She took Scully to yoga as normal, but I had time with Scully all afternoon.

I worked on Darths & Droids comics, writing and assembling. And I also did some prepwork for the upcoming ISO Photography Standards meeting – downloading and reading documents, and writing up comments on drafts.

In a piece of home maintenance, I swapped out all the batteries from all the remote controls and put in new ones. I’ve decided to do this once a year, whether the batteries need changing or not, to avoid leakage ruining the remotes, after I found some batteries in one of them had started leaking and corroding the terminals. Fortunately it wasn’t far gone and I cleaned it up, but I don’t want to risk this again, and would rather just get new batteries annually to prevent the mess and inconvenience of losing a remote to corrosion.

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The day passed too quickly…

Somehow today just got away from me. I woke up early, before my wife had to get up to get ready for work, and was up earlier than usual. But I think I didn’t sleep well because I felt a bit lethargic. I did the grocery shopping a bit later than usual, after realising I was wasting time doing nothing.

And then I’m not really sure what happened. The day just went and next thing I knew I was picking up Scully from my wife’s work. When I got home, I had my online ethics class.

As mentioned yesterday it was about “Trusting experts”. I started with a story about three kids discussing a movie with aliens in it. One wondered if aliens had actually visited Earth, one was sure they had because thousands of people say they’ve seen them, while the third said that scientists say there’s no evidence of aliens visiting Earth. Then we had a discussion over who people should believe – and why. We had a few other stories of people having to decide whether to trust experts or not, and raised more questions about the topic. It was a good discussion with the students, and they both said they enjoyed it at the end of the lesson.

This evening I went out for Thai food with my wife and Scully. I had some chilli basil crispy fried barramundi, which was very nice.

And tonight is virtual board games night. We’re playing online right now as I type. We just finished a couple of games of 7 Wonders, and are now starting Welcome To….

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Mushroom pie experiment

This morning I spent putting together my lesson for tomorrow’s online ethics class. The topic is “Trusting experts”, and raises various questions about why we trust experts and whether we should. It should be an interesting lesson tomorrow!

This evening my wife went out to an aerobic dance class, for the first time in ages – I think since we got Scully almost 3 years ago. So I was looking after Scully alone, while also cooking dinner. I had to turn off the stove in the middle of sautéing some mushrooms to take her outside for a toilet, but apart from that it was fine.

I was making a mushroom pie, the first time I’ve tried one of those. I was inspired by a mushroom and feta pie that my wife had had for lunch last week when she’d taken the week off work. I found a couple of recipes just to check what sort of seasonings or other stuff to put into it, and decided on onions and black pepper, but apart form that I just improvised the while thing myself. I used pre-made pastry that we had in the freezer, blind baked a base, filled it with sautéd mushrooms and onion, topped it with crumbled feta, and then a pastry lid.

It turned out pretty good, although the feta I got was the hard sort and didn’t melt at all as I’d hoped. Next time I’ll try some soft creamy feta and perhaps even mix it through the mushrooms to make a creamy sauce before putting it into the pie base. I didn’t take a photo to show you – we ate it so quickly since we were hungry due to eating late after my wife’s dance class.

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Lunar eclipse night!

This morning was my weekly Ethics class at school. The kids were a bit boisterous last week, so at the start of today’s lesson I laid down the law a bit for them, and their behaviour today was a lot better. We finished off the topic on vanity, with the final question for discussion being (paraphrased): Should people think about how vain they are, and what the consequences of that might be? There were some good answers to this, so that was good!

Today… let’s see. I made sourdough bread, and finished off making that latest batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips. And looked after Scully for a bit.

Tonight is the total lunar eclipse, which is visible in prime time here in Sydney. I’m about to head outside in a few minutes to take some photos…

… And the weather was perfect.

Lunar eclipse 2021-05-26

Lunar eclipse 2021-05-26

Lunar eclipse 2021-05-26

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Cloud photography

Today I mostly worked on comics, but I went out for a walk to pick up Scully from my wife after lunch, and I was amazed by the sky.

Cirrus clouds over Sydney

It was covered from horizon to horizon with these streaky, wispy cirrus clouds.

Cirrus clouds over Sydney

The view was so amazing and beautiful that I just stood gaping in awe, looking up at the sky.

Cirrus clouds over Sydney

I took a bunch of photos of just the sky, to get an abstract feeling with no sense of scale. Then I took some with a bit of foreground for contrast.

Cirrus clouds over Sydney

Cirrus clouds over Sydney

Sometimes it’s good to sit back and just bask in how beautiful our planet is.

Cirrus clouds over Sydney

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Lying, shopping, and planning

I had a terrible sleep last night. I woke up in the middle of the night, which is not unusual, but for some reason I just could’t fall asleep again. Normally I drift off again easily enough, but this time was really weird. I ended up kind of half-asleep, and lying in later than normal because I was too tired to get up at the usual time.

But get up I had to, as I had an online ethics class today. Having missed last week, this was the second class on the topic of Lying, which I’d run with other students on Friday two weeks ago. That one had gone very well. Today went a little quickly as the students had a bit more trouble expanding on their answers to questions, giving reasons for what they were saying, and so on. But it was fine in the end, because I ran out of material right when the class ended – phew!

I planned to make vegetable soup tonight, but realised I’d used all the potatoes in last night’s dinner. So I went up the street to get some more potatoes, and grabbed a few other items form the supermarket too. I went to the slightly more distant supermarket, because it’s across the street from an Asian market where I get some other things – particular desirable brands of instant noodles, and puffy tofu, which aren’t in the supermarket.

After the shopping was done, I sat down to write an outline for the online ethics lesson in 4 weeks time. I want to follow Outschool’s guidelines and have outlines in the class description four weeks in advance, so parents can see what topics will be covered in the next few lessons. I wrote an outline for anew lesson about natural resources, how we should make use of them, and the various ethical issues that arise from sharing—or not sharing—resources, and using up non-renewable resources.

So for dinner I was planning a vegetable soup, the leftovers of which would get recycled into minestrone tomorrow. But my wife mentioned that she thought she’d enjoy the soup tonight more if it had a bit of chilli and tomato in it. So I added those, making a sort of spicy tomato vegetable soup. It’s kind of halfway to minestrone already, but that’s okay!

A couple of photos: Autumn leaves while walking up to my wife’s office to pick up Scully:

Late autumn path

The city from the dog park this afternoon. It was a partly rainy day, with dramatic clouds drifting across the sky much of the day:

Clouds over Sydney

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Roasting potatoes

It’s Sunday, and I spent some time making new Darths & Droids strip. I’m up over 2000 strips now, which is pretty amazing.

My wife took Scully for a walk to North Sydney today because there was a special “Bark Park” event on. This is an annual event in a large park, specially for dogs and dog owners. There are pet-relevant market stalls, entertainment, and other stuff. And then this afternoon we both took her on another walk down to the waterfront for some ball chasing.

This evening I tried roasting vegetables. I’ve done this a few times but never figured out how to get the potatoes nice and crispy, so today I looked up some recipes and tips on doing that. They all agreed that you have to par-boil the potatoes first. The recipe I found then suggested to toss them in a colander to rough up the surface before putting them into a roasting pan pre-heated so it the oil is already hot. Well, I did all that – except I forgot the tossing them in a colander bit.

They turned out okay—in fact better than previous times when I’ve tried to roast potatoes—but not very crispy. I also added some pumpkin and Brussels sprouts halfway through the roast, since they take less time to cook. Overall it was pretty good!

Roast veges

A friend of mine suggested adding baking soda to the water when boiling the potatoes, which also acts to rough up the surface. I looked this up and found many tips online suggesting the same thing. So I’ll try that next time. It sounds easier than roughing them up in a colander.

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Chilly Saturday

Last winter here in Sydney was notably mild. This time as we head towards the end of autumn, it’s already noticeably colder than last year. We just had the coldest week of overnight minimum temperatures for the month of May, in the last 54 years. We had six nights in a row with the temperature dropping below 9°C.

Okay, I know that’s peanuts compared to places that get freezing temperatures and snow and stuff, but it’s pretty darn cold for Sydney. Taking Scully out for her pre-bedtime toilet around 10pm every night I’ve really been feeling the cold. Daytime temps have not been too bad though, with maximums around 20°C, which honestly is fine, especially if you’re out standing or walking in the sunshine. I’m not looking forward to the winter though.

Mostly today I worked on Irregular Webcomic! strips form the recent batch I photographed. Normally I make all the strips in one big effort and write the annotations and upload the files in one go. But I needed to get some uploaded for last week in a hurry, so I only did a few of them. Which means I had to do more today for the coming week.

I also had some cleaning up to do after last night’s games night. And this evening my wife and I went out for a nice dinner at a nearby Indian restaurant. It’s the place where we had dinner on the night before our wedding, yay many years ago, so it always feels kind of special going back there for dinner. I had a lovely Goan fish curry. Mmm…

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