Joint Friday/Saturday update

I missed Friday’s post because I got home late after the first face-to-face board games night with my friends since before the Sydney COVID lockdown began in June. I headed over after teaching my Friday evening ethics classes, and arrived in the middle of a game of Jump Drive. The host ducked out to cook sausages and onions on the barbecue while I joined in for another game. I was doing reasonably well, but ended up coming second (of three players) after another player surged ahead in the last couple of turns.

After eating dinner, we played Nidavellir, with the Thingvellir expansion set, with 5 players. We’ve played Nidavellir on Board Game Arena a lot this past year and it’s a bit of a favourite right now, but this was the first time any of us had played it with the physical board game components. One guy had bought it just before lockdown and had been itching to play it. It’s the first time we’ve played with the expansion. It added some additional options and complexity, but seemed straightforward enough. It didn’t really affect the game much, I thought. I did okay, but one guy completely ran away with the game with a ridiculous number of green dwarves.

Next we played It’s a Wonderful World, which I hadn’t played before. It was easy to learn and quickish to play – under an hour including teaching time. You could play a game in about 40 minutes once players are familiar I think. It was intriguing and fun, with lots of interactions as you build up your resources and empire.

Other things done on Friday: Weekly grocery shopping, in person, rather than just picking up and online order. I’d forgotten how time consuming it is to walk down all the aisles of the supermarket. 2.5k run. And looking after Scully all day because my wife had a training thing at work and didn’t take her in to the office.

Saturday: 2.5k run. Worked on Darths & Droids writing. Unfortunately our buffer is still non-existent. I need to write and construct at least a week’s worth of strips in the next day, and then do it again a few days later, to build it up.

This evening we all went out for dinner to a French crêpe place. We had savoury galettes, and then sweet dessert crêpes. It’s a nice and slightly exotic dinner, to make us feel a bit like we’re on a holiday somewhere.

New content yesterday and today:

More frogmouth

Today was much less busy than the past few days. However I still had a few things to do. A morning run, another 2.5k. An ethics lesson at 11am. I went out to get lunch from the fish & chips shop, which I haven’t done for a few weeks now, and eat it sitting at the lookout spot over the harbour.

The day was warm and sunny, and rather than walk home along the streets, I decided to take the bushwalk route down to the waterline and then up the creek, which is much shadier, being deep below the forest canopy. It’s a pleasant walk when dry, but gets muddy for several after days rain. With no rain for the past week or so, it was a good time to do it.

This afternoon I worked on some Darths & Droids story issues, which needed to be resolved before writing the next few strips. I hoped to get at least one new comic completed today, but I didn’t get that far.

I took Scully out for a short walk late in the afternoon, over to the bridge where I saw the tawny frogmouths yesterday, because the chick was still there today.

Tawny frogmouth chick

There was a small crowd of a few people there watching the chick and taking photos. One woman pointed out that the parents were on a branch high above. So they were definitely hanging around.

New content today:

Double busy double day update

I completely missed writing a post yesterday due to my day being full of work, and wanting to get to bed not too late. Today was also very busy, but I thought I should not miss two days in a row!

I spent a lot of time yesterday (Tuesday) and today (Wednesday) marking and finalising my comments on the UTS image processing course student assignments. I really wanted to get them done today, so I can move on to other tasks tomorrow.

Yesterday I also did a 5k run. I’m trying to fit in a 5k distance once a week and figured it was a good day to do it. Last time I did my street route, with hills, and it was exhausting, so this time I went back to running laps on the oval.

After completing the run, I walked home via the Gore Hill Cemetery, where spring wildflowers are blooming. This is an old cemetery—no burials have taken place here for many decades—and it has been allowed to become overgrown with plants. And this time of year it’s incredibly beautiful with all of the flowers.

Gore Hill Cemetery in spring

Gore Hill Cemetery in spring

Because I spent the rest of the day working on marking, I didn’t have time to prepare new slides and material for my one-on-one science lesson on Outschool. So I repurposed an old presentation I made years ago for a primary school talk on stars and stellar evolution, and used that.

Today, this morning I did another 2.5k run. I write my lesson plan for the next week of ethics classes, this time on the topic of cancel culture. Then I got stuck back into marking to finish off that task. I managed to complete it, and posted all of my marks and comments for the lecturer to collate.

I made vegetable soup for dinner, because I needed something I could eat early before my ethics classes began at 6pm, and that my wife could heat up easily later when she got home from gym to eat. I gobbled down some soup quickly and then got stuck into three classes in a row, ending at 9pm…. when I had an ISO Photography standards meeting! This is an “in between” ad-hoc technical group meeting for the topic of visual imaging noise, one of the technical topics in which I have more of an interest. It was scheduled to go until 10:30, but ended up running late and not finishing until 11pm. So now it’s getting close to midnight while I type this up.

Oh, I almost forgot! On my run this morning, towards the end, I cross a footbridge over a creek. While running across, I saw two tawny frogmouths sitting on a branch, at eye level and only about 4-5 metres away from the bridge. I completed my run and went home, and came back out with my camera, hoping they’d still be there. It was a good bet, as frogmouths are nocturnal and tend to find a roost for the day and then not move during daylight hours. And indeed, they were still there when I got back:

Tawny frogmouth with chick

It’s a chick and a parent, nestling together. A really great opportunity to get some close up photos, even if they were fast asleep.

Tawny frogmouth with chick

And with that… time for bed…

New content, yesterday and today:

Marking, walking, and fancy dinner

Today I spent time going through more student image processing reports and videos. I’m reading all the reports and watching all the videos and making notes on them as I go, before thinking about assigning marks. It’s mentally taxing work! I have one more to go, so hopefully I can complete the whole lot tomorrow.

I did another 2.5k run this morning, then went out to pick up Scully at lunch time. And then because my wife wanted to go to the gym after work and then get stuck into some sewing tonight, she asked me to take Scully for a big walk late in the afternoon before she got home. I took Scully for a walk out along Greenwich peninsula all the way to the point and back, which is a bit over 5 km.

For dinner tonight I ended up making quite a complex meal. I started with the idea of using pomegranate arils which we had left over from using a pomegranate on the weekend for the miso cauliflower bomb. What could I do with pomegranate? Make a salad, I figured, with pumpkin, spinach, walnuts, and feta.

So then I thought we can’t just have a salad – we need something to go with it. Normally it’d be some form of protein, but we don’t cook meat, so… I realised I had some felafels in the fridge. I could heat those up. But felafels need hummus! So this morning I soaked some chick peas, and this afternoon boiled them up a bit. And then after returning home with Scully I processed them with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and spices to make hummus.

And then…. I was thinking you can’t just have felafels without bread! So just before serving everything up, I made some quick flatbread using self-raising flour and yoghurt, mixed into a quick dough and fried in a pan. So, salad, felafels, hummus, and flatbread. It was quite a spread, and my wife thought it was wonderful.

New content today:

Getting stuck into assignment marking

I spent most of Sunday (today) going through the end of course assignments for the university image processing course that I need to mark. I’ve read through four of the reports and watched three of the videos, making notes on them so I can compare then and assign marks uniformly across all the groups. I’m a bit burnt out on image processing and machine learning, but I’ll try to finish them off tomorrow, if I have enough time.

This evening I had two more ethics classes on the topic of extraterrestrial intelligence. Over the week of teaching this topic I’ve added some material about how far away stars are and how it would take any aliens thousands of years to travel to Earth, if they could even do it at all. Because nearly all of the kids’ answers to the various questions are coloured by their intense belief that if aliens knew we were here, they’d immediately come over and destroy us. I mention that it’s kind of illogical to do that, and many people say that advanced civilisations will probably be friendly, and repeat that it’d take them thousands of years to get here… but most of the kids basically respond with, “Yeah… but no, it’s still a terrible idea to let them know we’re here.”

They’re also strongly of the opinion that if/when news of receiving an alien radio signal is made public, the overwhelming reaction of humanity will be panic. I’m guessing their thoughts on this topic are strongly affected by exposure to TV and movies, and that they haven’t matured enough in this area to form more thoughtful opinions yet, because it’s not a topic that’s as commonly discussed in serious conversation as a lot of the other topics we cover.

New content today:

A very windy Saturday

The rain has gone, replaced by strong, chilly winds. It was annoyingly windy all day, but at least it dried things out and the humidity was back down to around 50%.

Saturday morning is sleep-in day, but Scully was keen to get up by 8am, so that means everyone’s up! I went for a run, clocking up another 2.5 km. I feel like I can do that distance regularly without too much effort. The cooler, drier weather helped a lot too.

After lunch we all went on a walk to the Italian bakery a couple of suburbs over, to buy some biscuits for my wife to take with her on a planned visit to her mother’s place tomorrow. It’s a bit of a hike, taking an hour and a half at a brisk pace.

The jacaranda trees are just a little past their prime now, especially with the rain the past few days knocking a lot of the flowers off, but it’s making a nice purple carpet around the trees.

Jacaranda carpet

I made a fancy dinner tonight – the baked miso cauliflower bomb that I’ve done a few times before. It’s an intricate meal, with lots of ingredients, and it’s about an hour of solid cooking effort in the kitchen, but worth it.

New content today:

Buffering day and games night

Friday was another busy one. We had no buffer of Darths & Droids strips, so I had to put in some time writing and making new comics. In between that I kept up my new exercise routine with another 2.5k run and stretching exercises. It’s really starting to feel like I can do this every day. It was rainy in the morning though, so it was very humid. I’m keeping a record of my runs and the weather, and for the past week every run has been done in humidity over 85%.

Saturday morning (I’m writing Friday’s update late) has dawned cool, clear, and windy however, so the humidity has finally dropped. It’s 50% right now.

I had to go out a few times on Friday -to get the weekly groceries, to pick up Scully from my wife’s work, and then we went out for dinner at a local Turkish place. We had a selection of vegetarian meze, all very good.

And then it was online games night with my friends. I joined in a bit late after our dinner, but played a couple fo games of 7 Wonders, of which I surprisingly won the first one. Then we did 6 Nimmt, Gartic Phone, and finished up with a few rounds of Scattergories.

New content today:

More rain, more work

We’re having one of those weeks that we get every now and then in Sydney. Where it’s so rainy and humid that your bath towel is still wet 24 hours after your previous shower… ick.

I did manage to go for a 2.5k run this morning during a break, and then went up the street for some lunch and to buy some things I needed. Scully stayed at my wife’s work nearly all day, because one of the other staff brought their dog in and he (the dog, not the staff member) and Scully played all day, tiring each other out.

I have a bunch of tasks to do at the moment: marking university assignments, course planning for next semester’s data processing course, dealing with ISO photography standards stuff, teaching my online ethics classes and handling the admin work of enrolling and moving students around and dealing with parent messages. And I’m still way behind on making comic strips – both Irregular Webcomic! and Darths & Droids are now operating on almost zero buffer, so I have to keep making time to do a little bit of work on them every day as well, rather than rely on buffer. I really need to find time to get on top of all this stuff. It’ll definitely be easier once the marking work is done.

New content today:

Raining, running, and ruminating

It’s been raining most of the day, and heavily at times, with thunder and lightning. But there was a break in the morning, perfectly timed for me to go out on a run. I decided it was time to do another 5k effort, and I also decided that the oval track is so boring that I preferred to do my street route, even though it is quite hilly. I managed to complete the distance just a few seconds slower than last week’s 5k on the oval, so that was pleasing, if exhausting. And I just got home as it started to rain again, so the timing was ideal.

For lunch I drove over to a friend’s place, where he made us some food, and we played a couple of board games: 7 Wonders Duel, and Wingspan. I managed to win both games, which was pleasing. I really wasn’t sure about Wingspan until the final points tally.

At home I wrote the class plan for this week’s new ethics topic, on extraterrestrial intelligence. It’s basically exploring the questions arising out of the prospect of receiving a radio message from an alien civilisation. There’s plenty in just that to last for a full class. I’ll probably do another class later on about different scenarios such as physical contact. I ran the first three classes tonight, and it was very interesting because I got a very wide range of responses from the students. That’s always a lot more fun that everyone agreeing.

New content today:

A class for kids on playing & running tabletop RPGs

My new group class has been approved and is now public on Outschool:

Tabletop Roleplaying Games – Playing, Game Mastering & Writing Adventures

You can read all about it by following the link – but in brief it’s a forum-like community moderated by me, where kids aged 12-16 can discuss roleplaying games, ask me questions, and I will be posting tips and challenge activities for the kids to do. The kids enrol for access on a monthly basis, and it’s only US$5 a month. Also, since you’re reading my blog, if you sign a child up you use the code MORGANMAR5 at checkout to get the first month free.

I began this morning with another run, extending to 3.3 km this time. I’m trying to stretch to eventually being able to do 5 km regularly.

After getting home and cooling down, I checked out the assignments submitted by students in the university image processing course. I was enjoying not having to teach the tutorial on Monday night, but now I have six 50-page-ish reports and six 20-minute video presentations to mark! I’ll get stuck into that later this week.

I took Scully to the dog park for some exercise this afternoon. Last night she was a bit stir crazy, having just slept all afternoon, so today I made sure to get her running around, chasing a ball, and doing a walk down by the water to tire her out. It seems to have worked, as she’s now lying in her dog bed, fast asleep.

New content today: