A bit of a busy day, more rain

Let’s see. It’s virtually bed time and I’ve been too busy to get to this today. I got up, had breakfast, went for my run. I finally managed to clock another time below 12 minutes today, which was good.

I had two ethics classes, finishing up the topic of genetic engineering. Then I worked on the next topic, which is the ethics of humour. I wanted to get that knocked off today so I wouldn’t have to do it tomorrow to an even harder deadline. Then I worked on making a new lesson for the girl who I’m teaching science, who I haven’t seen for a month. She’s been busy, but had time for a new lesson today. I did one on DNA and genetics. And I also had an extension class going through written homework for one of the ethics students.

For dinner I made potato pancakes, and my wife suggested serving them with a fried egg on top, which sounded good so i did that. It was a really good combo. A quick and easy dinner, because I’d been so busy that I didn’t want to cook anything complicated. Oh, I also made a sourdough loaf today.

I planned to start up new Irregular Webcomic! strips today, but when the new strip didn’t update at the expected time I realised that I hadn’t assembled the strips from the photos yet! So I spent the evening after dinner making new comics and uploading them. I only have two done, and need to photograph new ones in time for Wednesday, but I think I can manage that… maybe…

New content today:

Rain and floods update

The big news in Australia, which was even ahead of the war in Ukraine on the TV news bulletin tonight, is the absolutely massive amount of rainfall and subsequent flooding currently hitting the eastern coast. Six people are confirmed dead from floodwater incidents, and it’s feared another has died but no body has been found yet. Brisbane’s Wivenhoe Dam is now up to 180.6% capacity – from the 120% that I reported yesterday. They are doing controlled releases of water to avoid dam failure, which means it’s washing downstream towards Brisbane. There’s already flooding of central Brisbane streets from the elevated river level, and flood warnings have been issued fore many suburbs. Current estimates are that around 1500 homes will be flooded in the city tonight and tomorrow.

And that’s just the city. There are smaller towns around the region that are experiencing much worse. Some river levels are up to 22 metres above normal, and thousands of people are being evacuated.

The heavy persistent rain is set to continue for another day or so, and the weather system is moving south, into New South Wales, which is already experiencing flooding in many regions. It’s not anywhere near as bad all the way down here in Sydney, but we’ve received 250 mm of rain in the past four days, and the forecast is for another 150 mm or so in the next few days.

Besides watching the weather reports, I had the 4th class of 6 in my current run of the game design course. Today we worked on combining ideas into a playable set of game rules. The main concept the student came up with for the game is “disagreeing with everyone”. I proposed a few possibilities for how to theme it: (1) a simple party game where you propose business ideas and everyone criticises them, (2) a meeting of philosophers, who naturally can’t agree on anything, or (3) a family gathering, where everyone gets into arguments about various topics. The student chose theme 3 – so we’re now working on a game which is set at a family gathering, and the goal is to argue with all the family members.

I’ll make a first draft of the game rules and equipment—probably just a couple of decks of cards—this week and send it off to the student to playtest before our next lesson next Sunday.

New content today:

Post-super busy week: Saturday

Ah, finally, a day off.

The rain continues. It rained heavily all night, and for much of the day. I managed to get my run in during a period if relatively light rain. And I also went out with my wife and Scully in light drizzle to take some product photos of her new range of hand made bangles to match the doggie bandanas she’s been selling on Etsy. She’s planning to launch the bangles on Tuesday.

The rain is much worse further north. Parts of northern New South Wales are in flood emergencies, and southern Queensland is even worse. Wivenhoe Dam, the main water supply storage for Brisbane, went from 55% capacity to 120% in the past 48 hours. The 100% “capacity” level is defined as a safe storage level, above which Queensland Water must release water downriver. It can actually get up to 225% before the dam overflows – but they won’t let it get that high as that would damage and possibly destroy the dam. Last time this happened, in 2011, the released water flooded the streets of central Brisbane. Oh, I just checked news and a flood warning has been issued an hour ago for parts of Brisbane.

I haven’t kept track, but about half a dozen people have died in floodwater so far. Some towns have been evacuated and are preparing for the worst flooding in recorded history.

For dinner tonight I made pesto using bunya nuts, fresh basil, garlic, olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, salt, and pepper. I served it on penne pasta.

Penne with bunya nut pesto

I’ve put most of the bunya nuts into the freezer, because there’s no way we’re going to get through them quickly enough. They’re too rich to eat every day, and I think we have enough for at least a dozen meals, maybe more.

New content today:

Super busy week: Friday

The day kicked off with picking up the groceries from the supermarket. Then I went for my run.

I had a little time before the ISO meeting started at 2pm. But I got a message from the new downstairs neighbour asking if Scully would like to come down and play with their dog Billie, because Billie had been cooped up because of the rain for the past few days and needed some exercise. So I said yes, because Scully also could do with some running around.

The weather, I should mention, has been dreadful the past week or so. We’ve had about 200 mm of rain in the past few days. Parts of Sydney have had more and there have been flash floods in various places. But this is peanuts compared to some places in Queensland, which have had over 300 mm of rain in just 4 hours yesterday. La Niña is walloping the east coast with crazy amounts of rain. And the forecast for Sydney for the next 7 days is heavy rain every day.

Anyway, I waited until there was a break in the rain, and then went down and we let the dogs go berserk in the yard. Which was soaking wet, littered with puddles and mud. After half an hour of playing around, the dogs were filthy. I took Scully back up and immediately gave her a bath. There was no way I could let her stay that dirty.

After bathing Scully it was straight into the ISO meeting. It was the final administrative day, and it led right up to the start of my first ethics lesson.

And after two of those, I went out with my wife and Scully for dinner. We went to the French crêpe place, which is a short drive over a couple of suburbs. The two dinner specials were a beetroot salad galette and a barbecue pulled pork galette, which we ordered. And then for dessert they had a crêpe with chocolate sauce, whipped cream, pretzels, and marshmallows. I had to try that, and it was delicious, with the crunchy pretzels adding a nice texture and hint of salt to the sweetness. A strange combination, but it worked really well.

We walked back to the car, and it was raining. And as we walked it got heavier. And heavier. And heavier. By the time we got back to the car it was pounding down. We got completely soaked climbing into the car and trying to get our umbrellas down. We drove home and had to immediately change clothes and towel off.

Now it’s virtual board games night with my friends. I’m losing as usual…

New content today:

Super busy week: Thursday

Today it was an online ethics class at 9am, then my daily run, then another class at 11am. I had to do my run in between because I wouldn’t have another good chance to do it today. Unfortunately, it was pouring rain at the time. I recorded a rather poor time, but at least I didn’t break my streak.

I took Scully for a short walk while I got some lunch. The rain had stopped by then, but it was incredibly humid, and even though we were just walking I was again dripping with sweat by the time we got home.

There were three technical sessions in the ISO standards meeting today, but I had to skip out on the third one in order to head into town and the University of Technology. Unfortunately the trains in Sydney have been disrupted all week by a contentious combination of industrial action and government petulance, so trains were running to a much reduced schedule. And of course it was pouring rain again.

I managed to get into the city in time, and stopped off to have a quick dish of beef rendang and roti at Spice Alley, a string of Asian eateries near the university. Then it was over to the uni and the lecture. The class was pretty full, without close to 100 students. It was easy going this week though, being just the introductory lecture, with no real tutorial exercise work for the students. They have until next week to get Matlab installed and running, so next week we can start doing exercises during the 3-hour class.

We ended a little early tonight, and then I made my way home on the train again. In the rain again. It was weird being on trains again, with large numbers of people. That’s the most crowded I’ve been with people for close to two years, and honestly it felt really weird. Everyone had masks on, so hopefully there’s not too much risk of getting COVID.

New content today:

Super busy week: Wednesday

First cab off the rank today was travelling to the public school for my first face-to-face ethics class of the year. I got to the school and checked in, using the QR code and New South Wales Government app. This is similar to how we’ve been checking in to public places like shops for the past year and a bit, but I was surprised to find that checking in here opened a new page I hadn’t seen before, specific to schools. I had to answer additional questions about if I was feeling well, and if I was wearing a mask, and what the purpose of my visit was, and so on.

I got my class roll, and found I had been assigned 17 students. I ran into one of the other ethics teachers, and she told me that a lot of the Year 6 kids were away… following the Year 6 camp last week, apparently several have tested positive for COVID and were isolating at home. When I got to my assigned classroom, I found the teacher was away as well, replaced by a casual substitute.

I ended up with only 7 kids turning up – and 3 of those weren’t even on the roll! They said their parents wanted them to do ethics, but they got their forms in late. So 13 kids were away sick. It was actually a bit scary realising that so many of the kids in the school were sick, and here I was teaching a class of the ones who had come in today. I had to wear a face mask, but the kids didn’t. Honestly, I’m feeling a bit in two minds about continuing to volunteer to do this, while COVID is still circulating in the child population.

The other thing was I forgot to print out the lesson plan! So I had to run the introductory lesson from memory.

Back home, I squeezed in my daily run and stretching exercises, making a new loaf of sourdough, eating lunch, and having a shower before the ISO standards meeting began at 2pm. It was a full technical session day, discussing standards related to autofocus, depth sensing, and image file formats. That led almost right up to my first online ethics class at 6pm, but I had some time before that began to start making quiche for dinner. My wife had to finish that off while I was doing my class, and then I quickly ate a slice between classes 1 and 2, and then a second slice between classes 2 and 3. I finished at 9pm… and could finally wind down and relax a bit before bed.

New content today:

Super busy week: Tuesday

This morning I got up and took Scully out, then had breakfast, and then went for my run. I tried to get it in early before the rain closed in, because the forecast was for a lot of rain today. I managed to get that done. The sky was dark and thundery for several hours before the rain finally arrived around lunch time.

Then the rain pounded down most of the afternoon, very heavy at times with loud rumbles of thunder, interspersed with medium rain. It’s still quite heavy now, late in the evening.

From 2pm I had the ISO Photography standards meeting, held online. One of the first agenda items was to move the first technical session from late today to early Thursday, so we ended up doing only administrative things today.

Before the ISO meeting started, I had to complete work on the new ethics class for this week, since I’ve now moved classed from Thursday evenings to Tuesdays, to give me time to attend the university for the Data Engineering course on Thursdays. But this means I have a day less in between to write up the new topic (I was often doing it on Wednesday mornings). And since the first ethics class was hard up against the end of the ISO meeting, I had to get it completed before 2pm. (Although as it turned out I had a spare hour because of the agenda change, but I didn’t know that in advance.)

For dinner I made pizza, and topped it with pumpkin and some of the bunya nuts that we’re working our way through.

Bunya nut and pumpkin pizza

They’re not crunchy like walnuts, which is what I usually use, but added a nice subtle flavour and a different texture.

And finally, in about 10 minutes, I have the second ethics class of the evening. The topic is genetic engineering, which I think will be a good one. The first class went well, and I think the kids enjoyed it a bit more than the patriotism topic.

New content today:

Super busy week: Monday

This is going to be a hectic week. I have the ISO standards meeting starting tomorrow, but today had plenty going too.

I got up, had breakfast, went for my daily run. I had to wipe the sweat off and cool down quickly enough to take my first online ethics class, followed immediately by class number two. Then there was no break before I went out with my wife and Scully. My wife was running errand while I took Scully on a walk and to get myself some lunch. This was the most relaxing part of the day, as I sat and enjoyed a chicken pie, followed by a Nutella slice, from the Naremburn bakery that I’ve grown to really like.

After lunch it was straight into another class, a follow-up extension class on the patriotism topic. This one was moved from its usual timeslot on Wednesday, because of the the ISO meeting falling on top of that slot on Wednesday. And I had a second one of those extension classes at 6pm. In between I worked on writing a new Darths & Droids comic, which is in fact for tomorrow’s publication, because I’m so behind on making those at the moment. And afterwards there was follow-up work marking the kid’s homework and adding suggestions for a few web pages on English grammar for him to read up on.

For dinner I just did a quick dish of pre-made potato gnocchi from the supermarket and pesto. After dinner I made the comic strip and iterated through some comments by my friends. Oh, and did my post-run stretches that I hadn’t had time to do this morning before my first class!

Phew!! And the week is just going to get busier from here.

New content today:

Still full from family Thai lunch

This morning I had the third lesson of six in my current run of the Creative Thinking and Game Design course that I’m running on Outschool. We brainstormed last week, and this week converged on an idea for the game we’re going to design over the remaining three lessons. The theme? “Contradicting everything that anyone says.”

I was a bit surprised when the student picked this over “Wizards having a battle”, which I was already starting to get some ideas for. It’s a bit out if left field, but hey… I can work with anything. So we brainstormed some ideas for game mechanics and, you know, we came up with some workable ideas for how this game might work. It’s looking like a casual party-style game, rather than a “serious” board game.

For lunch today we took a trip to eat at a Thai restaurant with my wife’s family, to celebrate her mother’s birthday. It’s a place we’ve been to a few times before, and it’s very good. They have a massaman duck dish, which is delicious. Combined with all the other dishes we ordered, there was a lot of good food, and … I just realised it’s now after 9pm and I haven’t had dinner and I’m not especially hungry! Although I think I might just have a piece of toast or something in a minute.

This afternoon I worked more on the data visualisation slides that I’m doing for the university data engineering course. And did another couple of ethics classes on the patriotism topic. I think I’m finally getting the hang of this topic, as the classes are running more smoothly now. Just in time for it to end tomorrow and then I’ll have to write a new topic for starting on Tuesday!

New content today:

Bunya nut cooking

I spent today doing more slides and graphics for the university data engineering course, for data visualisation.

Tonight I tried cooking some of the bunya nuts I collected yesterday. First job was to get them out of the tough shells. I boiled some nuts for half an hour, after which the shell was just soft enough to slice in half with a sharp knife.

Bunya nut stir fry

It wasn’t easy though, and I had to be very careful with the knife. Once halved, I could flex the shell and squeeze the nut halves out.

Bunya nut stir fry

Tasting one, it’s very much like a cross between chestnut and pine nut. Firmer and not as sweet as a chestnut, but starchy like one. I stir fried them i a wok with green beans, onion, carrot, garlic, ginger, chilli, and soy sauce.

Bunya nut stir fry

And served over brown rice.

Bunya nut stir fry

It was very good!

New content today: