Marking, running, teaching

I had a few things on today. In the morning I went to the school for my volunteer face-to-face ethics class. We were finishing off a short two-week topic on Fatalism. Last week the kids were a bit rowdy, talking over each other a lot and requiring me to intervene to get them to speak one at a time. This week was better. But an amusing thing happened.

In my class there is a group of four girls who always sit together. Let’s call them April, May, June, and Julie (not their real names). April is the joker of the group, and tends to butt in and talk over other people a bit. She gives good answers, but is prone to just blurting out her thoughts rather than raising a hand to speak. May and June are more serious, but also get involved when April starts talking uncontrollably, and the three of them often devolve into discussing the topic amongst themselves, resulting in me having to quiet them down so that one student can speak at a time. Julie is super quiet. She never answers questions. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her speak at all. (This is perfectly fine, by the way. In our training we’re told that there are often students who never volunteer to speak during class, and we are not to call on them unless they express a want to speak. They can listen to the others and absorb the content and still get a lot out of the class.)

So anyway, today I asked a question and there were some answers by kids raising their hands and speaking in turn, and then April called out and started saying something, and May and June joined in, and soon the three of them were talking about the question among themselves. I had to get them to stop chatting so we could get on with the class. I called out their names individually: “April! May! June!” and while I was doing this I saw that Julie was saying something quietly to June, though I couldn’t hear it. So I also said, “Julie!”

The reaction was immediate. April said, accusingly, “What did Julie do?!?!” She clearly knows that Julie is quiet and inoffensive.

I said, “Well, she’s hanging out with you three.”

And April answered, “Oh, guilt by association. Fair enough.”

She genuinely got me laughing. These are actually pretty good kids – none of them are actively mischievous. They just get a bit carried away with the topic and discussion sometimes. Since the start of the year we’ve developed a bit of a rapport, and I think they enjoy the classes I teach, so this exchange was all done in a bit of a joking way. I suppose if I was their regular class teacher, I’d need to keep things a bit more formal, but I feel like since I’m only with them for 40 minutes every week, I’m allowed to be a bit more casual and friendly with them. Especially since the class is always done with us sitting in a small circle, on their classroom chairs, so I’m sitting at their level on the low children’s chairs, so it feels more intimate than a typical classroom setting.

So yeah, it was a fun class this morning.

Back at home I started work on marking the first assignment of the university image processing course. I have reports from 7 groups of students to read and mark. I read through and marked two of them, and will do more tomorrow.

I took a break to go for a run. Today I decided was the day for a longer one, so I ran 5k instead of 2.5. The weather was warmer, and humid, so it was a bit enervating. I took it a bit easier and ran slower than last month’s 5k, so my time was about 30 seconds slower. I’ve decided that I only really start to feel good about running after having a shower afterwards.

New content today:

Ethics of Greed

Tuesday is the start of the next ethics topic for my online classes, and for the first time I’m recycling a class I taught before – the very first one from when I began these classes early in 2021 – Greed. So I had a lesson pan already written, but I updated it and rearranged it a bit, with the experience I’ve gathered from teaching this class for over a year now. I streamlined the material and added some more in-depth questions to get the kids thinking. For instance, in the original lesson I never asked the kids “What is greed? How would you define it?” So I added that in.

The first three classes tonight went pretty well, but I do notice that the sort of questions I wrote back when I began were fairly simple and didn’t lead quite so much into extended answers from the kids. So I’m glad I did that restructuring.

Having a bit more time that I didn’t have to spend writing an entirely new lesson, I assembled some Irregular Webcomic! strips and a new Darths & Droids strip today as well. I took Scully for a long walk at lunch and had a seafood pie before getting her some running around exercise, doing sit and wait, followed by calling her to run to me. And for dinner I made pizza: pumpkin, asparagus, and walnut.

New content today:

Science and Engineering of Photography

This evening I gave my lecture on the Science and Engineering of Photography to the students in the image processing course at the University of Technology Sydney. As I think I mentioned before, this is a special bonus lecture for the students, not part of their coursework, to give them something interesting in their project period during the last 4 weeks of the semester. So I used up most of the first hour of tonight’s three hour time slot with that. There weren’t a lot of students present, but some were listening in on Zoom as well, and several came up to me afterwards to say they liked it.

Earlier today I finished off the last three Outschool classes of the week’s topic on Risk. I assembled a couple of new Irregular Webcomic! strips for this week. And with other random daily stuff like eating lunch and taking Scully for a walk, that ate up the day before I headed into town, where I had some satay chicken and rice for dinner at Spice Alley before the lecture.

The other notable thing about today is that we had over 50 mm of rain, with almost all of it between 6:30 and 9:30 in the morning, so it was really pouring down then. The forecast was 1 to 5 mm! In the next week we’re looking at another 50 mm or so, with thunderstorms indicated almost every day. Yep… after setting a record for wettest year ever, we’re now heading into spring thunderstorm season.

New content today:

European travel diary and photo updating

Today I worked on finishing off that batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips I started writing yesterday. I completed the writing by lunch time and then spent a few hours this afternoon photographing the strips. I still need to assemble the strips and write annotations, but I’ll do that over the next few days.

I also spent some time doing a task I should have done months ago: formatting my travel diary from my trip to Germany and the Netherlands in June and uploading it to my website. Ive added just a few photos to one of the days. I still have to go through all the photos from that trip and process and upload selected ones.

I did find a problem looking through them briefly today: I forgot to change the time on my SLR camera while overseas. So all the photos were timestamped with the incorrect time, saying I took daylight photos in the middle of the night (which it was back in Sydney). Fortunately I have exiftool! This is a neat little command line script that can edit image files, including camera RAW files, and update the EXIF tags which record things like the time the photos was taken. So I went through my folders of photos from the trip and adjusted all the “DateTimeOriginal” fields by the correct number of hours.

Now I just need to format my diary for the trip we took to Orange last month! Oh, and do all that photo processing stuff.

Also this weekend I fit in a couple of 2.5k runs. Oh, and the weather has been warming up the past few days. We broke 25°C on Friday, for the first time since back in May. It’s starting to feel like spring, finally – much later than usual. We know this summer is predicted to be very wet again, with the third La Niña in a row, so it’s likely to be cooler than normal too. Locals are thoroughly sick of it, but also in dread of when it’s over and El Niño returns, bringing scorching hot summers and fire weather.

New content today:

Groceries, banoffee, sausages

I picked up our grocery order this morning, after a bit of a sleep in following last night’s games night. We ended up playing Codenames and Sketchful, and a good time was had by all.

After lunch at home, I went for a walk with my wife and Scully to the Naremburn bakery. I had one of their banoffee tarts as a treat – they’re really good. I’d been craving one the last two times I went, but they rotate their baking selections every day so you can never be guaranteed that anything is there.

One the way home I popped into another supermarket that we walk past to grab some vegetarian sausages to go with our plans for some salad for dinner. I tried a new brand called MEaty, and they were pretty good.

In between, mostly I worked on writing a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips. I’m hoping to photograph them tomorrow, but I’ll need to finish off some writing before I can get to that. We’ll see how we go…

New content today:

Free(?) car care(?)

Today I went to the tyre place where I had new tyres fitted for our car a few months ago. They gave me a complimentary 3-month check-up to check the pressure, wheel balance and alignment, and rotate the tyres. So I booked it in. When I dropped the car off, I told the woman that I’d noticed the key fob battery needs changing – it’s been intermittent the past couple of days, and for the mechanic to just be aware of that and they may need to open the door manually with the key.

The woman said, “Oh, we might have a spare battery lying around. We can change it for you.”

I was like, “Oh okay.” And went off to grab some lunch (with Scully) while they did the stuff. I walked over to a Japanese place I knew nearby and had a teriyaki salmon lunch set, with rice, salad, and miso soup.

When I came back to pick up the car, there was a different guy there. He said, “The service is complimentary, so that’ll just be $10 for the battery.” I was genuinely under the impression that the battery change, if they did it, would be complimentary. I told the guy so, and he said, “Well, we can take it back out and put the old one back in for you.”

I gave him a speechless look, and explained I never asked for the battery to be changed, because I actually have a spare at home and am capable of doing it myself, and I’d assumed the offer was complimentary.

To which he said, “Well, next time you’re in the area you can drop us off the other new battery.” I must have been dumbfounded for a few seconds, because at that point he sighed and said I could have the battery for free.

I don’t begrudge them charging, but the woman never told me it would cost $10, and if she had I would have definitely told them not to change it. Anyway, I ended up with a free battery change. But now I got home and looked at my key fob, and they’ve cracked it prying it open…

Tonight I’m playing online board games with friends. I came second in my first ever game of Point Salad.

New content today:

A new bird photo!

I was doing some stuff at home today and noticed a raucous squawking sound outside. Channel-billed cuckoos are back in town for the summer, having migrated down from Indonesia and New Guinea. While I’ve heard and seen these birds many times, I’ve never had my SLR camera handy to get a photo. But today I looked out the kitchen window, and it was sitting there in the tree. So I rushed to grab my camera and shot it through the window. It was tricky as it was at an awkward angle and partly obscured by leaves a lot of the time. This is the best photo I got:

Channel-billed cuckoo

I’m pleased with it though, because it adds another entry to my list of photographed birds. That brings my list up to 298 species. Just a hair away from 300!

While sharing photos, here’s the focaccia I made yesterday:

Home made focaccia

New content today:

Back to school for term 4

The final school term of the year started this week, so this morning I was back in the classroom for face-to-face ethics teaching. We finally finished the “Drugs in Sport” topic last term, so today we got to start a new one, on Fate and Destiny. I had the full class of 15 students today. They were interested in the topic, but several times started talking about it over the top of each other rather than sticking to one at a time.

I actually arrived a little later than I would have liked, due to a combination of traffic issues and a queue at the school photocopier where I needed to make a couple of copies of some of the material to use as handouts. There’s this pair of intersections I have to drive through, where there are two traffic lights in close succession. They recently changed the road configuration to smooth through-traffic, at the cost of making it a bit harder to turn. Now you can be caught behind the near traffic light, with the far one ahead showing no turn and cars queued back behind the near light. Then the near light goes red while the far turning light goes green, and while you’re still stuck behind the near light, traffic feeds in from the intersection just in front of you and flows through the turning light ahead. Then the turning light goes red, and the near light goes green, but the entire section between the lights has filled with queued cars from the other feeder street, so you still can’t move! This can repeat 2 or 3 times before you eventually creep forward enough to get through the first light.

And then when I got to the school I needed to use the copier to make just 3 copies of material for my class. One copier was broken, and a teacher was using the other to make about 50 copies of stuff for her class. I stood there waiting, and then another teacher came up and asked if she could push in ahead of me, since the bell had just gone and she needed to rush to her class. Well, she’s a real teacher and I’m just there to do the volunteer ethics course, so I said sure, and then of course she made like 50 copies.

Fortunately the kids are pretty slow to get to the classroom that I teach in. I think they assemble first in some area way on the other side of the school, because none of them ever arrive until at least 5 minutes after the bell goes. I guess maybe they get some morning announcements as well.

Anyway, after that class I tried to get some work done at home, but I don’t know where the time went, because I didn’t get much done! I went for a long walk after lunch with my wife (her day off work) and Scully, over to the Italian bakery, where we got some biscotti for dessert tonight. I baked some focaccia bread, since we had run out of bread. And made a vegetable lentil soup for dinner before my three evening online classes.

It felt like I was always busy. Time to relax before bed!

New content today:

Full and busy Monday and Tuesday

I skipped an update yesterday because I was too busy. I had three online ethics classes first up, finishing at 1pm. Then I took Scully for a walk, and came home and started working on my lesson for the new week of ethics beginning on Tuesday. The topic this week is Risk, so I did a bit of research into related topics, such as micromorts, risk itself, and risk compensation.

I didn’t have a lot of time to work on this because around 3pm I had a shower before getting ready to leave for my tutoring job at the university. I had to leave earlier, before 4pm, because my wife has started a new job and I needed to take Scully there to her office and drop her off (the new job is again in a dog-friendly office), before hopping on a train to the city. Taking Scully involved a half hour walk, past two train stations away form the city, so I ended up further away that and had to ride two extra stations compared to just leaving from home.

Once I got in, I grabbed a quick dinner: nasi lemak with beef rendang from a Malaysian street food place near the university. And then went to the lecture room for the tutoring. This week students were working on their first assignment, which is writing up plans and specifications for their image processing project. It’s due on Friday, so a lot of groups had questions and needed assistance, which is what I was there for. The sessions are scheduled from 6-9pm, but when regular lectures were on we usually finished early, so I got home not too late. But this time students hung out right up to 9pm, and I didn’t get home until almost 9:45.

By the time I dealt with evening chores and unwound a bit from the day it was after 11, so I went to bed and left this update to today.

This morning I got up and had to finish the lesson plan for the Risk topic. In between I took Scully out for a couple of walks, and also worked on an online puzzle competition with my friends, the EC Puzzle Hunt. And then tonight I just did the first three classes of the Risk topic with kids. I feel like this is a good one for discussion, and interesting as they learn some sense of gauging comparative risk of different activities.

New content yesterday:

New content today:

A brewery lunch

So we ended up with a bit over 50 mm of rain overnight. Less than the forecast warning, but still quite a bit. It eased of a bit after dawn and the rest of the day was overcast and chilly but dry.

We went for a walk to get some lunch and exercise Scully. We ended up at the Flat Rock Brewery Cafe, which we’ve been thinking we should try for a meal one day. So today we sat down and had some lunch there. I had the chicken parmagiana and one of their New England pale ales. I would have tried another beer, but I had classes to teach in the afternoon, so limited it to one. It was pretty nice there and my wife enjoyed her meal too, so we’ll think about going back again some time.

Besides two ethics classes, I also had a science class with the girl from England. I did one on tectonic plates, earthquakes, and volcanoes, being our first taste of Earth sciences. I think next time I might do weather.

New content today: