Data fitting and COVID

I had been planning to go into the university tonight for the weekly Data Engineering lecture which I’m helping to teach. But the lecturer contacted me this morning to say there was a COVID case in his household, so he had to isolate and wouldn’t be going into the university. Instead he converted the lecture to online over Zoom, and notified all of the students. So I could stay home as well and assist students over Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

Apart from that I had my usual ethics classes this morning, and looked after Scully while my wife was at work all day. I went out for a walk with Scully in between heavy rain showers, heading up to the local shops to get some gelato after lunch. It rained while we were up there, under the awnings of the shops, but stopped by the time we headed home, so I managed to avoid having to use an umbrella.

New content today:

More rain, more teaching

We had another 30 mm of rain overnight, and some heavy showers during today. More expected tomorrow, of course.

This morning was face-to-face ethics teaching at the school. Against about 7 or 8 of the kids in my class were absent. Apparently COVID is raging through schools and infecting kids everywhere. Four of my friends have had it run through their families now, all apparently being brought home from school. We started a new topic today, about challenging authority.

Besides my online classes this evening, I worked mostly on Darths & Droids writing and comics today.

New content today:

Double writing day

It was a very busy day today. I had to write the ethics lesson for this week, on trial by media. Then I had to write a report on the ISO Photography standards meeting I attended back in February, to send to Standards Australia in time for our follow-up national meeting on this Friday. I should have done it a bit earlier, but I’ve been so busy that I put it off to this week. Those two tasks took a good chunk of the day. And then tonight I had three classes to teach, the last ending at 10pm! Thankfully from next week all the classes will be an hour earlier, since we go off daylight saving this weekend. (And I’m leaving the classes unchanged for most of the students who live outside Australia, so they’ll be an hour earlier by my clock.)

I also took Scully out for a drive at lunch time, because it was raining and I didn’t fancy a long walk in the rain. We went to the Italian bakery and I got some treats for me and my wife for dessert tonight, as well as lunch.

We had close to 60 mm of rain overnight, but it eased off during the day, being light for most of the day. Although this evening as I type it’s pouring down again. I added up the rainfall so far since the beginning of the year, and we’re not over the average annual rainfall for Sydney yet, but we’re getting very close.

New content today:

Calzones with bunya nuts

For dinner tonight I made spinach, ricotta, and bunya nut calzones.

Spinach, ricotta, and bunya nut calzones

What else? I had two ethics classes, I took Scully to the dog park, and I worked on a small batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips for this week. I’m still doing just a week at a time – I haven’t managed to get the time to do a larger batch like I’d like to do.

Oh, and now it’s pouring rain… Tomorrow we’re supposed to get around 40 mm…

New content today:

Are we in for more rain? Yes, we are

Yesterday was not only Scully’s birthday, but my sister-in-law’s, so today we went out for a Sunday brunch with my wife’s family to celebrate.

We had a bit of trepidation, because it was at a cafe by the beach, and looking at Google Streetview it looked like the outdoor tables were protected only by flimsy sun umbrellas, whereas the weather forecast was for storms. We assumed we must have had the outdoor area booked, because we’d be bringing Scully. Checking the weather radar before leaving, it looked like we might be lucky, with a storm line moving through but clear air behind it. Indeed, it poured on us while we drove over there, but stopped by the time we got there. But we needn’t have worried, because they gave us a table well under cover – they allowed dogs into a large area under the cover of a patio awning.

Looking at the menu, I decided on eggs benedict (my usual go-to when eating out for breakfast). But then I saw a woman at an adjacent table being served a delicious looking plate of something, with a visible poached egg and a pile of chopped tomato. I checked the menu and concluded it must be the “halloumi bruschetta”, so I ordered that instead. And then when my dish arrived it was nothing like what that woman had received! I’d obviously made a mistake in assuming what it was, and so I ended up with neither my first choice meal nor the dish that looked amazingly good. Fortunately what I had was also perfectly fine, so no real complaints, just an amusing story.

After the brunch the rain held off, so I went for a walk with my wife and Scully along the beach to the centre of the suburb. There was a Sunday market on to look at, and I tried some gelato from a new place that looks like a high class Italian gelateria. They had some very interesting flavours to choose from. I tried the Black Forest (I can never go past Black Forest), and the pavlova with berries. After carefully shaping each scoop into the paper cup, another staff member wiped the freezer display case clean of any stray drips or blobs of gelato, to keep the entire thing looking immaculate and pristine. I’ve never seen that at a gelateria before! It was very good. I’ll have to go back again and try more of the flavours.

Back home, I managed to get my run in before the rain settled in for the remainder of the afternoon and evening. We’re supposed to get another 100 mm or more of rain over the next week. And it’s worse news for the flood-hit regions further north, which are expected to get much more rain than that. The TV news tonight said the worst-hit regions were now expecting another 80–160 mm in the next 6 hours, to be followed by more in the next days. The Bureau of Meteorology says that another east coast low pressure system seems to be developing – the same type of system that caused the ridiculous amounts of rainfall and flooding a few weeks ago. And this is with the land already now saturated. I guess we’ll see how it develops.

New content today:

Scully’s 4th birthday!

Scully is 4 years old today!

Scully's 4th birthday

She got a new chew toy from Luna, the poodle next door. And we gave her some peanut butter as a special treat – it’s probably her favourite thing ever.

For lunch today, I made sourdough bunya nut pancakes, with pineapple and maple syrup. I wanted to do it for breakfast, but I forgot to feed the sourdough starter last night, so I did it first thing in the morning, and it was ready for lunch time.

Sourdough bunya nut pancakes

I mashed some boiled bunya nuts and put them into the batter. I thought they’d mash more easily, but they were a little tough, so they stayed a bit lumpy. But that didn’t matter.

Sourdough bunya nut pancakes

Here are some pancakes being cooked:

Sourdough bunya nut pancakes

And the finished result, with chopped fresh pineapple and bunya nuts on top, and maple syrup:

Sourdough bunya nut pancakes

It was pretty good! I wonder if anyone has ever had a dish with bunya nuts, pineapple, and maple syrup in it before.

New content today:

Codenames night

It’s Friday games night and we’re playing Codenames tonight.

Earlier this evening I went out for dinner with my wife and Scully. We went to an Indian restaurant that we used to go to a lot years ago, but haven’t been there since we got Scully, because they don’t have any outdoor seating. It hasn’t been super urgent for us to try to go there, because there are other Indian places near us. But it was good to go back.

Mostly today I worked on the secret project a bit more, so I don’t have a while lot more to say about today.

New content today:

Rain and the city

Yep, the rain is back. We had a few moderate showers throughout the day, but nothing really heavy. Tomorrow is supposed to be heavier, and then more heavy rain on Sunday.

The city looks nicer in the rain though, with the lights streaking across the wet roads and footpaths. I went in to the university a little later today as I had to look after Scully all day and then drop her at my wife’s work late, before heading in on the train. Rather than have a nice dinner somewhere near the university I grabbed some Vietnamese rice paper rolls from a take-away near the station.

The lecture tonight was the class I put together for data presentation, so mostly my material and exercises. I think it went pretty well! It was raining lightly on the way home, but I got a train quickly, so that wasn’t too bad.

New content today:

Scully grooming day

Scully was looking a bit scruffy and shaggy recently, which means it’s time for her haircut/groom at the dog groomer. I picked her up from my wife’s work at lunch time and took her to the groomer, then collected her with her new haircut a few hours later. We can see Scully’s eyes again!

Otherwise it’s been another fairly busy and exhausting day. I had my face-to-face ethics class at the school this morning. After 5 weeks of teaching this, there are still about half a dozen kids on the roll who I haven’t seen yet – maybe sick for the past 5 weeks? I’m not sure. Thankfully the kids who have been showing up are pretty good and the class runs smoothly, mostly. There was an incident today though when a teacher poked her head in and told us to open the windows for ventilation, and a kid ran over and did it… and a fly screen fell out of one of the windows, dropping two floors to the ground below! The kids thought this was hilarious, and several ran over to look out the window and see where the screen had fallen. I sent two of them out to go retrieve the screen and bring it back. I didn’t bother trying to reinstall it – I just told the regular classroom teacher about it when he came back after the class.

Oh, there was something amusing after the class too. The room I have is next door to the Anglican scripture class, and on the far side of that is the Catholic class. The kids all split up to go to their relevant scripture class (or ethics), and return to their regular classrooms afterwards. While I was leaving I overheard some kids talking outside:

Did you know Mary was a virgin??
Yeah, she was a virgin, but God stuffed a baby up there anyway!

On my way home from dropping Scully at the groomer, I stopped at the bakery at Naremburn to grab a sweet treat, since I was driving past. I like popping in and seeing what new items they have – they always seem to have something new in the rotation. Today they had what looked like rocky road tarts, which I confirmed by asking, and a delicious looking individual cakes topped with icing and coconut shavings, which turned out to be mango cakes. I had the rocky road tart to eat while sitting outside at the cafe tables, but then I decided I’d go back in and grab a mango cake for dessert tonight, because who knows how long it will be before they appear there again!

New content today:

The ethics of magic

Today I wrote the material for the next week of online ethics classes, on the topic of magic! I’m using several examples of things from the Harry Potter stories, and posing questions like:

  • Would it really be okay for children to use hexes to affect other kids, even if no serious harm was done?
  • Harry uses one of the Unforgivable Curses in his fight against Voldemort and his followers. Is that okay or should he be punished for it?
  • Is the Killing curse (Avada Kedavra) any worse than shooting someone with a gun, or is it similar?
  • Why would a small group of people who could do magic want to hide from everyone else?
  • What could happen if the rest of the world found out about wizards and magic?
  • Can you think of any legitimate, ethical uses for Polyjuice potion?

I’ve just run the class with three groups of kids this evening, and so far every student has been familiar with Harry Potter, so that’s good. I have enough explanation that if any student isn’t familiar with Harry Potter, they’ll still be able to get enough context to answer the questions.

That’s about half the class. The other half discusses how real world historical societies who believed in magic made laws regarding the use of magic, and if those laws would make sense in a world where magic is real.

In other news, Sydney had two consecutive days with no rain, yesterday and today! This is the first time this has happened in over a month. But it won’t last… we’re predicted to have another 100mm or more of rain over the next four days.

And today I decided to extend my usual 2.5k run to 5k. I haven’t done a 5k since just before Christmas. It felt tough, but I did my second best time over that distance, despite doing it on the street route with hills, rather than around a flat oval. So yeah, maybe my fitness level is still improving, which is nice.

New content today: