Data presentation done

I ticked off a big task today. I completed the lecture and tutorial material for week 5 of the data engineering course, on data visualisation and presentation. I uploaded all the stuff to the university server so the lecturer could grab it and put it into shape for the lecture in two weeks’ time. This task off my plate means I’ll have more time for other things like making comics in the next week or so.

Straight after completing that, i set off for the university for tonight’s lecture, which was on designing an experiment. The trains were favourable this time, and I had time for a leisurely early dinner. I again went to Spice Alley, and this time tried a Japanese place, getting tonkotsu ramen.

Kyo-to Ramen & Sushi

Unfortunately the ramen wasn’t as spectacular as the decor – the food was quite disappointing. But I made up for it with a spectacular dessert from a place around the corner.

Black Forest dessert

They had a range of amazing looking desserts, but I can never go past anything labelled as Black Forest. It had cherry brownie in the bottom, with cream, crumble, cherry jelly, and fancy decorative flowers. It was delicious.

Then it was across the road to the university for the lecture. The modern glass building is where the lecture is held, up on the 7th floor.


The class went well. I got to stand up and talk to the class about potential projects they could do for their assessment tasks.

After the class I made my way home on the trains. But the train I caught stopped and terminated at North Sydney, a few stations before my stop, and then something was obviously wrong because the announcements said the next train wouldn’t arrive for another 25 minutes. Which is about the time it takes me to walk home from that station… So I ended up walking the rest of the way home.

New content today:

We survived the night

The rain stopped in the early hours of the morning, and we only had a light sprinkle today. And the sun came out in the afternoon.

It actually felt really weird, seeing sunlight.

I had my third face-to-face ethics class of the year this morning. There were more kids there, but still about 6 away sick. Slowly adding more kids to the class is helping with my memorisation of their names – I actually managed to run the class today without needing to give them name tags, and I had them all sorted out. And this class is very well behaved compared to some of the classes I’ve had in recent years, so we had a really good discussion on the topic of Fairness in Society, with plenty of good contributions from the kids.

Back at home I worked on some project examples for the data engineering course, and I’m getting very close to finishing the slides for Week 5 (in two weeks).

New content today:

Flooding has hit Sydney

The only thing to talk about in Sydney today was the weather. Specifically the rain, the enormous amounts of rain. Today was the 15th day in a row of rain here, and the heaviest. The Bureau of Meteorology forecast 150 mm of rain, and it looks like we may even exceed that. Added on to the previous two weeks of rain, with saturated soils and dams already full to overflowing, and it was a recipe for disaster.

First off, I’m fine, and my home is fine. I don’t live in a low-lying area, and I didn’t venture out onto the roads today.

But many people across Sydney are not so lucky. All of Sydney’s rivers, the Nepean, Hawkesbury, Parramatta, Georges, and Cooks Rivers are all flooded and spilling out into surrounding low-lying areas. Evacuation orders have been issued for dozens of suburbs, with the warning that people may be stranded in regions without power or water and it may be too dangerous to rescue them. On top of this there is widespread flash flooding all over the city, with roads being inundated and water flowing into properties. Hundreds of people have been stranded in waterlogged cars, and unfortunately two people have been recovered after losing their lives in floodwater. This is on top of the 20 people killed so far in the ongoing flooding across the rest of New South Wales and Queensland. There have also been a few landslides in places in and around Sydney.

The rain is expected to ease tomorrow, and we might even get some sunshine on Thursday, before more rain comes in after that. But tonight we have a gale warning current, for winds up to 110 km/h. Given all the trees across the city completely saturated with water, that’s going to cause a lot of them to blow over. Hopefully I’ll be here tomorrow…

New content today:

Experimental pizza with peanut butter

You heard right, folks.

Broccoli pizza

A few weeks ago I had the satay chicken pizza from the menu at our local pizza place. Tonight when thinking about what to cook, I realised we had no pumpkin, my usual go-to pizza topping. But we had broccoli, and what better to go with broccoli than satay sauce? But I didn’t have any satay sauce… so peanut butter and chilli flakes to the rescue! I added some pistachios and almonds as well for crunch I would have used cashews, but we ran out of those on the weekend and I have to buy some more.

Anyway, it turned out really good! There’s not a lot of peanut butter on there – just enough to give it a peanutty taste. The sauce under the cheese is traditional tomato paste, although I spread it a bit more thinly today.

The weather continues to be rainy. Today marked the 14th day in a row of rain. We can barely remember what it’s like to have a day where it doesn’t rain.

And in what I hope is not a consequence of the war in Ukraine, Outschool did its weekly credit card payment processing of class fees, and informed me by e-mail that a payment for one of my students could not be processed. A student who lives in Russia. Occasionally I’ve received these processing error notifications, but there’s no follow-up and the kid shows up in class as usual, so presumably the parent did something and the payment went through. But this time, a few hours later I received a second e-mail saying that the payment had failed to be processed again. I’ve never received a second message like this before. It makes me wonder if the parent tried to pay again, and was denied again. I’m hoping this is not being caused by the financial sanctions being taken against Russia, and that this student won’t have to miss my classes because of this war.

New content today:

Making more bad graphs

It rained heavily again overnight, and more during the day. The weather seems to be the only thing everyone is talking about around here – the rain has just been so relentless. And more to come, we have another 80 mm forecast for Tuesday, and the Bureau of Meteorology says don’t expect the rainy weather to end any time soon.

Besides my daily run, and teaching ethics classes, I worked today some more on the lecture for the data presentation part of the data engineering course. I followed up my bad graph of a couple of days ago with some more today, and interactive material which will be run during the lecture to quiz students on aspects of visual presentation. I’m nearly done with this task now – maybe another coupe of slides tomorrow and I can move on to other jobs.

New content today:

Farewell Shane Warne

Yesterday, Rod Marsh died. That was a shock. He was the wicket-keeper for the Australian cricket team from 1970 to 1984 – basically I never knew any other wicket-keeper for almost my entire childhood. He was part of the legendary trio with Greg Chappell and Dennis Lillee who cemented my love for the sport from as soon as I watched it. Losing Marsh was a shock.

But I woke up this morning to the news that Shane Warne had also died of a heart attack, late yesterday. Marsh was a legend in the sport of cricket. Shane Warne was an absolute, unrestrained Force of Nature.

Shane Warne came along in the next generation of cricketers after Marsh. Cricket was a sport dominated by batsmen and by fast bowlers. Suddenly, here was this fresh-faced blond kid who seemed to eschew any sort of fitness routine that a professional sports player should maintain. He bowled leg spin – a style of bowling that had gone out of fashion before I was born. I’d never seen it before. It was new and it was weird, and oddly captivating.

In his first game against the Old Enemy, England, Warne awaited his chance to prove himself. The very first ball he bowled was to Mike Gatting. That one delivery changed everything. Warne worked a miracle, spinning the ball off the pitch with such ferocity that Gatting could do nothing but watch it and be amazed when it hit his wicket. It was the Ball of the Century – a single delivery so significant that it has its very own Wikipedia page.

Shane Warne was on his way to a record-breaking 708 Test wickets, revitalising a bowling style that most people considered dead. Soon kids on the streets of London, Sydney, and Mumbai were copying Warne’s style, and a new generation of leg spin bowlers was born. Warne single-handedly revolutionised the game of cricket more than any other player since World War II.

He was astonishing to watch. I feel privileged to have grown up watching cricket in the era that Shane Warne played. He was a flawed personality off the field, not a great role model. But on the field… Every time he came up to bowl in a game, it was electrifying, like lightning about to strike.

Heart attack at age 52. Far too young for a legend.

New content today:

… and presenting data

Today I worked more on the slides and material for Data Engineering, on visualising data. I spent some time making a cool illustration of how not to make a graph:

A bad graph

Hopefully some of your eyes are bleeding just looking at that graph.

Tonight we’re playing online board games, and concentrating on Castles of Burgundy, a new game that one of your group has been urging us to try for some time.

New content today:

Engineering data 2

It seems this intense rain weather system is very unpredictable. We were bracing for very heavy rain today, potentially the worst so far, but it turned out nowhere near as bad as yesterday.

Still, what rain there was, and flash flooding, interrupted train services. I had to travel into the university this evening for lecture 2 of the Data Engineering course. I could leave a bit earlier since there wasn’t the ISO meeting this week, and I did so, planning a leisurely dinner at a nice Asian place in the “Spice Alley” food laneway near the uni. But I ended up waiting 40 minutes at the station for a train – about 6 or 7 trains in a row were cancelled. And of course by the time a train finally showed up, it was full of people – meaning I had to cram on in what seemed like a ridiculously dangerous proximity given COVID.

I got to the university too late for a sit down meal, and wasted time tried to find a sushi place where I could just grab a take-away bento box, but in vain. In the end I ended up in the university food court, where half the places were closed for the evening already, and I chowed down a chicken schnitzel on a tortilla quickly before heading to the lecture room.

The lecture went well, and I had to wander around the room during the tutorial exercises and answer questions form students. It was pretty easy today but will get more complex as the course progresses.

New content today:

A bit less storm than expected, so far

After yesterday’s apocalyptic rainfall predictions, today turned out less wet than expected. Although that seems to be because the low pressure system causing all this rainfall is moving south a bit slower than expected so it’s just taking a bit longer to get here. The morning wasn’t too bad – a few heavy showers, light rain, and even a break or two. The really heavy rain has waited until late this evening, and is now expected to extend well into tomorrow. Some parts of Sydney have had around 150 mm today, and we’re expecting another 150 mm tomorrow, followed by smaller amounts (around 30 mm) every day for the next week.

This morning I had my second face-to-face ethics class of the year at the school. Some of the students away with COVID last week were back, but there were still half a dozen or so kids absent. But I had another 4 kids who said they thought they should be in ethics, but weren’t on the class roll, so I added their names. That brings the class up to about 20 kids, which is near the maximum size of 22. We started the first topic, which is about “a fair society”. And the kids were really good! They got into the discussion, and were giving good, thoughtful answers, and they were all behaving well, raising hands to talk and not interrupting or talking while others were speaking. It’s early days yet, but I think this may be the best behaved class I’ve had in my 6 years of teaching these classes.

Back home, I worked on some comics – I needed to make a Darths & Droids strip, and a few Irregular Webcomic! strips for this week. I didn’t do a full batch of the latter – that will wait until next week.

And this evening I had three online ethics lessons in a row, on the new topic of humour. I posed the question if it’s okay for people in difficult or tragic circumstances to joke about their situation as a coping mechanism. One kid said he’s seeing a lot of that now, since he’s in Romania, near the Ukraine border, and there are a lot of refugees passing through his town. And they’re all making jokes about their situation. I knew this kid was in Romania, but I didn’t know what city he was in, and had no idea he was near the Ukraine border. Last year for a few classes I had a kid who was actually in Ukraine. It was several months ago and I haven’t heard anything from them since, but I hope they’re okay.

New content today:

The calm before the storm

Quite literally. Yesterday, the forecast for Sydney for today and Wednesday was 15 and 30 mm of rain, respectively. When I got up this morning I checked the forecast again and it had been increased to 70 mm for today and 90 mm for tomorrow.

Around midday today they increased tomorrow’s forecast to 200 mm of rain.

This weather system has been causing havoc up the coast, from southern Queensland around the Brisbane area, then moving into northern New South Wales, and tomorrow it’s going to hit Sydney full force. We’ve seen historic record level flooding in several towns, and 8 people are now confirmed dead, with 2 missing, and fears that more bodies will be found once floodwaters recede. In NSW alone, around 40,000 people are now subject to mandatory evacuation orders and another 300,000 are under evacuation warning. Flood warnings have been issued for more towns, including Sydney.

But for now, it’s calm, and not even raining. It was raining very heavily this morning when I took Scully out for her morning toilet. By the time I got back in, I had to change all my clothes because they were wet, despite having a large umbrella. And dry Scully off, despite her wearing a doggy raincoat.

Today I set myself four tasks: Revise the homework for my ethics extension student and send it to him; complete notes for the science student from last night’s class and send those to her; write up rules and design cards for the “Family Argument” board game that I’m working on with my creative design student and send that to him; and write Thursday’s Darths & Droids comic. I managed to get almost all of them done – the first three, and most of a strip written I just need a punchline and that can be done. I guess tomorrow.

New content today: