Day full of Zoom meetings

I had outschool ethics classes at 8am and 9am, followed immediately by a Zoom meeting from 10-12 for planning the agenda for the ISO Photography standards meeting in Japan in two weeks.

Then at 1pm I had another Zoom meeting, this time with the professor of the university courses I’m tutoring. We’re gearing up for running the Image Processing and Pattern Recognition course again in semester two (beginning in August), and he wanted to go over some suggestions that I ad at the end of last year’s course for improving the course material and presentation. I’d written a list of things, and we went over those so he understood everything. I would be happy to help produce some of the extra diagrams I suggested, but I’m very busy the next few weeks preparing and then travelling to Japan, and also he didn’t want me working on course material without getting paid and he doesn’t have budget for that.

Tonight I have another ISO Zoom meeting, scheduled for 11pm-midnight my time. This is an ad-hoc group meeting for the depth camera performance topic. I missed the last one two weeks ago because I was sick. I may skip this one too, because honestly I don’t contribute much to the discussion, as it’s the others who are doing experiments with the equipment in their labs.

In between I took Scully for a couple of walks, avoiding the large band of rain that crossed Sydney in mid-afternoon. For dinner I made spätzle with split pea soup. My mother used to make spätzle a lot when I was growing up, and I made it a bit too when I first moved out, but haven’t done it much for many years now. I should do it more often.

New content today:

Crossing the harbour for lunch

A dream I had last night: Someone gave me as a gift a guided climb to the top of Mt Everest. So I went, and eventually found myself at the summit with a bunch of mountain climbers and Sherpas. They’re all sitting there at the top enjoying the view, while I’m saying, “Whoa, no, this is way too high… I can feel the mountain swaying… I want to get down…”

Today my wife and I dropped Scully off at the dog groomer, and then we indulged ourselves by heading down to the ferry wharf:

Little pied cormorant at Greenwich Point

A little pied cormorant was sitting there, but this was as close as I could get before it flew off. We caught a ferry:

Ferry to Balmain

Across the harbour to Balmain, just two stops away:

Balmain wharf

We walked up the hill to the shopping strip and The Cottage restaurant:

The Cottage

Where we sat inside and had a lovely lunch. I had chicken schnitzel, with mash, fennel, and radicchio:

Cottage Schnitzel

And a sticky date pudding with pistachios and rose water for afters:

Sticky Date

After lunch we walked down streets full of historic houses:

Birchgrove houses

To Birchgrove Wharf, where we caught a ferry back home:

Birchgrove Wharf

Just in time to pick up Scully from the groomer!

New content today:

Ethics of documentaries

The new topic this week for my 10-12 year old classes is Documentary Films. I spent the morning writing up my lesson plan, with questions about the ethics of staging scenes for documentaries, dramatising re-enactments, and whether it’s okay and/or educational to film and present scenes of wild animals hunting and killing each other.

After eating lunch, I took Scully for a longish walk, stopping at a bakery to sit and refresh with a glass of water and an orange-almond cake. The sky was a weird mix of patchy blue on the eastern half, and very dark grey cumulus clouds on the west. It looked like it might storm, but it held off.

And tonight I had the first three classes with the Documentary topic. I think it’s an interesting one. We discuss Nanook of the North, which provides an example of the first really successful documentary film, but also examples of staging scenes. I considered talking about White Wilderness too, with its famously faked scene of lemmings leaping off a cliff, but decided I had enough examples to talk about.

For dinner I made pumpkin soup, with a touch of Thai red curry and coconut cream. It turned out delicious, and we had it with freshly baked sourdough, still hot from the oven. Mmmm…

New content today:

Chicken burger day

Today was fairly routine I had three ethics classes this morning to wrap up the Curiosity topic. After that I took Scully for a walk up to the shops and grabbed a barbecue chicken burger for lunch at a fried chicken place. I normally like this place, and I had a hankering for it today, but today something was lacklustre about both the burger and the side of sweet potato chips that I ordered with it. Or maybe the dregs of this mystery virus are slightly affecting my sense of taste. I don’t really notice any significant loss of taste, but it could be slightly affected I suppose, like when you have a cold.

I worked on making comics this afternoon, trying to get my buffers for both Irregular Webcomic! and Darths & Droids up before my trip to Japan. I took Scully for another walk around 5pm. And that was about it.

So here are some photos! This was the foggy morning on Saturday:

Foggy morning

And here’s a shot this evening while I was out walking Scully.

Towers and construction zone

This area near where I live is undergoing a big wave of urban renewal at the moment. All of those apartment towers you see in this photo, except for the one at far left half obscured by the tree, were built in the last 3 years. The tallest one in the middle was only competed and opened for residents a few weeks ago. And the dirt area in the foreground with the excavator on it is land that just a few weeks ago was occupied by 19 fully detached houses, now all demolished to make way for more apartment towers. It’s certainly going to be an interesting time as all these new apartments come online.

New content today:

End of the game design class, finally

After cancelling the past two Sunday’s in a row, I finally did the final lesson (of 6) in my current Creative Thinking and Game Design course. Unfortunately, only two of the three students could make it, which means I’ll have to do a make-up lesson with the remaining student so he can finish of the course later. Anyway, the lesson went well, we discussed more tweaks to the Ninja Grandma game, and I went over the thinking techniques they’d learnt and left them with a bunch of references and reading material for further information.

It was mostly a lazy Sunday. My wife and I wanted to just rest at home to help get over our illnesses. We’re both starting to feel better day by day. I think my fears of a recurring bacterial throat infection were unfounded. I’m just hoping at this stage we’re both well by the 17th when we fly out to Japan.

Speaking of Japan, I bought Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s new album, Hana, which was released a day or two ago. My wife and I both really like her music, and Sophie wrote this album during COVID travel restrictions, when she was supposed to travel to Japan, but had to postpone her trip. She’d never been there before, and basically wrote a whole album of songs inspired by her thoughts of what Japan would be like when she finally got there. So we’ve been listening to it this weekend to inspire our own preparation for visiting Japan.

New content today:

An old possum

There’s an old brushtail possum near our place, which must be near the end of its life. There are plenty of these marsupials around where we live, but we don’t see them very much. They are nocturnal, and hide during the day. Occasionally we see one crawling along a fence or in the branches of a tree at night when walking home from dinner out or something. And you can hear them at night when they fight over territory or mates.

But there’s an old one that for the past week or so has been visible every day, in daylight, sitting on a fence. It’s pretty battle scarred around the face, and looks like it might have lost an eye. I assume it must be too old and injured to behave normally and seek out a hiding place in the daytime.

Old brushtail

It’s just been sitting there lethargically for over a week, and I fear walking past one day soon and seeing it lying dead on the ground. Wild animals die all the time, of course, but it’s still a bit disturbing to see the process happening.

There’s another injured animal which has been a fixture for around here for well over a year now. A magpie with an obviously broken wing that has somehow managed to heal enough to let it fly a bit, though it stick out at a funny angle. This bird has been instantly recognisable every time I see it, and I’ve named it “Wings Malone”.

This morning I had to go up to the supermarket and buy some milk. The online pick-up order I made yesterday was missing the milk! Thankfully the supermarket has a quick resolution system for missing items in orders, so now I have a credit for the value of two cartons of milk. But it was still a pain to have to walk up there just to get replacements.

I took Scully for a long walk with my wife just after lunch. It was a beautiful winter day, 22°C and sunny after a morning which was thick with fog. When I walked to the supermarket at 9am the visibility was at most 200-300 metres. There were apartment towers just a block or two away from where I walked, and I couldn’t see them at all. We get fog a few times a year in winter, and it’s always interesting.

Today I mostly worked on writing Darths & Droids comics, trying to build up that buffer before I head to Japan in two weeks. Healthwise I think I feel a bit better today. I felt well enough to go on the first 2.5k run for two weeks. I decided to try a completely new route, and took it a bit easy. That and the hills on this new route meant my time was pretty slow, over 13 minutes, which it hasn’t been for a long time.

New content today:

Two weeks of illness

It’s two weeks since I first felt sick, and I’m still not back to normal. Most of the symptoms are gone, but there’s this horrible cough. And my mucus cleared up with the antibiotics, but I’m wondering if it’s starting to show signs of re-infection again. I was a bit surprised that the course of antibiotics lasted only 5 days. I hope it didn’t leave some bacteria behind which have begun multiplying again.

Today I had 4 ethics classes. After the 9am class, I spent the next couple of hours photographing a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips, which I wanted to do today because the buffer had run dry and I needed a new comic for tonight. I was writing new strips over the past couple of days, and had a few left to finish quickly this morning before taking the photos.

And that’s about it. Tonight I was supposed to be hosting the next Dungeons & Dragons session with my friends, but I had to cancel because of me and my wife still feeling sick. Some of the guys are having a replacement face-to-face board games night, but of course I stayed home.

New content today:

And a reasonable first day of winter

It was supposed to be warm today, 23°C forecast, but the temperature barely reached 19°C, and it was overcast until the late afternoon. It didn’t feel too bad though.

Today marks 5 years since Scully joined our household!

Scully, Gotcha Day 5

Here she is this afternoon. I remember the day we picked her up from the breeder. It was a really really cold day, out in the countryside. We stopped on the way back to eat at a cafe, having to sit outside because of Scully, and wrapping ourselves in blankets to avoid freezing. I think it was like 4°C or something.

For dinner tonight I made a fancy meal: roast pumpkin with home-made labne, a sage and burnt butter sauce with home-grown lime, pomegranate, and toasted pepitas.

Baked pumpkin with labne and sage butter sauce

I’ve been wanting to try making labne for ages. I bought some cheesecloth a while back, but this is the first time I’ve tried using it. I put a large tub (900 g) of plain yoghurt, mixed with about a quarter teaspoon of salt, into the cheesecloth yesterday, in a large sieve, and let it drain over a bowl in the fridge overnight.

Today I ended up with almost 300 mL of whey drained off the yoghurt (leavig I assume about 600 g of labne), which I used instead of water to make a loaf of sourdough (which is still rising, and I’ll bake soon). So I’ll be interested to see how that turns out too.

New content today: