A good and bad day

For me it was a good day, but tempered by some bad news from my friends. With the current wave of tech sector layoffs sweeping the world, I was saddened to hear today that two of my friends have lost their jobs. Fortunately we’re in Australia so they would have got reasonable redundancy payouts, but it means they’ll be looking for jobs in a shrinking market.

My own day started with a trip to the golf course. I haven’t played in over six months, due to a combination of the extremely wet weather we’ve had, and having limited opportunities due to ramping up my online teaching work. But it’s been drier lately and today I had a free morning, so I decided to trek out to the pitch and putt “par 3” course, to get my eye back in on a short course, and then go next door to the driving range to practice with my longer clubs a bit before attempting a full sized course.

Back 9

The course was not busy and I played two ball simultaneously, scoring 75 and 71 respectively. The round of 71 matched my previous best on this course, so that was pretty good! I got a birdie on hole 17 – tee shot onto the green, and a slightly longish putt to sink in 2. Achieving a birdie on this course is always something exciting.

I went next door to the driving range, most specifically to have some practice with my driver. But when I got in there were big signs everywhere saying “NO DRIVERS”. The net they have to catch the golf balls has apparently developed some problem, and people were hitting balls over it into the parkland beyond, so they had a temporary ban on drivers until they repaired it. I didn’t want to spend half an hour hitting a 5 iron (the only other club I grabbed from the car), so I skipped it and went to get some lunch.

I drove over to Collaroy for pies from the pie shop there. I walked down to the beach to sit on the grass in the shade and eat. There were two piles of towels and stuff nearby, and halfway through eating two woman emerged from the ocean to come and grab their things, followed by two medium-sized dogs, dripping with sea water. One of the dogs came right up to me – I thought it was going to go for the pie I was eating – but it stopped right next to me, touching distance away, and did the doggy shake to fling all the water off! The women were mortified and one yelled out, “Sorry!!” I said it was okay, I had a dog and I understand. We had a bit of a laugh and they wished me a good day as they walked off with the dogs.

While eating I was watching the various birds hanging out on the beach: mostly silver gulls, some pelicans, welcome swallows, little black cormorants, and… I saw what at first I assumed to be a cormorant dive into the surf, and then realised it had a very long neck for a cormorant. I thought it might be an Australasian darter, but I’ve never seen one in salt water before. I thought they usually lived inland on fresh waterways. After finishing my lunch I walked over to see if I could get a closer look and it was drying its wings off on a concrete boat ramp that leads down the beach to the water.

Australasian darter

At first I thought maybe I’d been mistaken and it was a pied cormorant, but when it stretched its neck out I knew it must really be a darter. I recorded it in eBird, and then tried to sneak closer to get some photos. I managed to creep to within about 2 metres and got a decent photo.

Australasian darter

Well, this was pretty exciting! I’ve seen darters before, but only inland, so this was a new experience seeing one in the surf.

I got home in time to teach the first lesson in my current Creative Thinking and Game Design class. There’s only one student, a girl, and I think she enjoyed the lesson. She certainly got some of the thinking techniques that I went through, and did the exercises well. So I’m looking forward to the rest of the classes with her.

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