World Cup do or die

As I write this it’s half time in the crucial Group B match between Australia and Canada in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Winner goes through to the knockout stage, loser is eliminated. And after a thrilling first half Australia is ahead 2-0. We’ll see how it turns out…

Today I had the last three ethics classes of the Stealing topic before starting a new topic tomorrow. I started writing that lesson plan today, but need to finish it off. It’s on “What If?” – and exploring the idea of alternate history. What if the Ancient Greeks had discovered electricity? How would the world be different? Would it actually have made much difference? And exploring other things like that.

And this evening I started another round of my 6-week Creative Thinking and Game Design course. I was hoping for more students, but I have one in the class. He’s very smart and keen though, so it should be good overall.

Oh! And while walking Scully at lunch time I passed a tree with another nesting pair of rainbow lorikeets. This one was lower down than the nest I saw the other day, about eye level, so I managed to get up close and take some nice photos of the pair.

Nesting rainbow lorikeets

Nesting rainbow lorikeets

Nesting rainbow lorikeets

New content today:

Hot winter day

The most notable thing today was the weather. It was warm. The temperature reached 25.2°C in central Sydney, and up to 26.4°C in some suburbs. That’s pretty warm for the middle of winter. It could have qualified as a summer day. It was nice, but a bit worrying.

This morning I went to the supermarket to do a manual grocery shopping. I missed the window for my usual order to pick up on Friday morning, and didn’t manage to organise anything yesterday so today I just decided to go in and do the old fashioned thing of walking down the aisles myself to grab stuff. I didn’t get a lot, because I wanted to be quick. Just the few things on the shopping list, some staples like milk, and some fresh fruit. I didn’t get any vegetables because with my wife’s haul fro the community garden yesterday we have plenty to last the week.

I did a 2.5k run, in the balmy warmth. A week ago I was running in 11°C, today it was 22°C. Made a comic, did 3 ethics classes this evening, and that was pretty much a day.

New content today:

Some family revelations

Friday was a very busy day. I had a two-hour Zoom meeting with the Standards Australia committee for photography, which I chair. This was the follow-up for the ISO meeting I attended in Japan last month, for which I wrote the summary report recently. It was a well-attended meeting, and we had a new committee member to welcome, which was good. I went through all of the technical and administrative discussions from Japan, filling everyone in on developments. And then we had some Australian admin stuff to attend to, like updating adoption of international standards that have been revised, and organising preparations for hosting an ISO meeting here in Sydney in October 2024. I also said I was planning to travel to the next meeting in Finland in November this year, for which I can most likely get travel funding.

After that meeting I went out to pick up Scully from my wife’s work, and then return home in time for three ethics classes in a row.

And then after a quick dinner I went over to a friend’s place for board games night. We ended up with five people attending, and played games of Jump Drive, Gin Crafters, Fujiyama, and then four of them set up for Codenames while I went home a bit early, since I needed to be up a little early today.

Because this morning my wife started a new hobby! She left early to go to a local community garden and do some gardening work there. She came home with a bag of vegetables, mostly various leafy greens but also some potatoes, radishes, and Jerusalem artichokes. I had some of the salad greens on my lunch sandwiches.

After lunch we drove up to Gosford to visit my mother. We haven’t seen her for several months, because of various cancellations due to COVID and other illnesses. We took the souvenirs from Japan for her: a box of matcha chocolates, and a jar of spicy Japanese seasoning to use on her cooking.

While we were chatting, conversation turned to travel, about our recent trip to Japan, and then when we went to Germany last year and saw my aunt (my mother’s sister). And my mother said she was so thankful that we arranged a Zoom call with her sister before she died last year. And then she said, “You know we weren’t really sisters, right?”

I said, “What??”

My mother proceeded to explain that her and her older sister had different fathers, and both were different to the father of their three younger siblings (my other two aunts and uncle). Basically, the man who I’d thought was my grandfather for my whole life until today, wasn’t my mother’s biological father. (Nor the father of my mother’s older sister.) She said that her older sister’s father was an American soldier, based in Germany at the end of World War II. And her own father… she had no idea who he was. My “grandfather” had formally adopted my grandmother’s two children when they got married, and then gone on to have three more children together.

I had no idea about any of this before today. So, the gist of it from my point of view is that… I don’t have any idea who my grandfather is. The man who I thought was my grandfather wasn’t. And both he and my grandmother are now dead, so there’s nothing to be learnt there. My mother says that her mother told her this at some point (roughly when she was middle-aged), and her mother had urged her to go find her real father in Germany, but my mother had stated that the man who raised her was her father as far as she was concerned, and she had no desire to seek out anyone else. So I think the window has closed to learning any more.

It’s not a life-shattering revelation, but it does feel a bit odd to learn this so late in my own life. I don’t think it makes any practical difference, but now there’ll always be a bit of wondering about the truth.

On the drive home we stopped off at a suburb on the northern end of Sydney for dinner. We found a place called Burger Hounds and had burgers. I tried the “Honey Badger”, a fried chicken burger with spiced honey and coleslaw. It was a bit sweet, spicy, and really delicious. This was a really good burger place and was doing a cracking business in people eating in and also take-away orders.

A couple of hours later and I’m still full from that burger…

New content yesterday:

New content today:

Sports night

Tonight the Australian women’s soccer team play their second game of the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Following their opening game defeat of Ireland, they take on Nigeria tonight. The game starts soon so I’m going to go watch it.

And at the same time the last Ashes cricket Test match begins at The Oval in London, so I’ll be able to switch over to that once the football is done.

Today was mostly routine, so not much else to talk about.

New content today:

Early nesting lorikeets

According to my iPhone Health app I walked almost 13,000 steps today – the highest daily amount since I got back from Japan 3 weeks ago. It began with a 5k run this morning, when I decided to double my more usual distance. I took it easy so I wouldn’t get too worn out in the second half, and it wasn’t too bad.

Then at lunchtime I took Scully on a longish walk, doing a circuit around through a park, past cafes, down to the harbour shore, then back up through a bushwalk. It’s a circuit we do often, but it’s been made longer in the past few months by some work to upgrade a series of old sandstone steps that lead down from a street into a deep gully. There are steps up the other side leading to the park, but the steps down have been closed for a while due to the construction work.

While the work was in progress we had to take a detour of about 300 metres up the street to another set of steps and then back along the bottom of the gully. But today for the first time the new steps were open!

New stairs

We stopped at a bakery-cafe for lunch. Normally at this place I just buy a pie or a sausage roll. But today I actually looked at the menu and selected the chicken schnitzel burger. It was okay, but not great. I think the pies are better.

While eating, I was sitting at a table outside on the footpath, facing an elderly lady who was also sitting alone at the next table over. Feral pigeons lurk around this place, looking for crumbs, and they’re bold in attempting to steal food. Twice one jumped onto the old lady’s table, surprising her so much that each time she actually screamed in shock. The first time she shooed the birds away and commented to me how much she hated pigeons, even though she was a bird lover. The second time she gave up and moved inside the cafe to finish her meal. I didn’t have that option since I was sitting outside with Scully, so I waved the pigeons off with my hat a few times. I too love birds, but pigeons really don’t fall under the umbrella, and I’d happily see them all eliminated from Australia if it were possible.

After eating we continued to the harbour shore where I threw a ball for Scully to chase a few times. She was a bit distracted by another dog she could see on the grass in the distance though.

On the way home through the bushwalk section, I spotted a rainbow lorikeet sitting on a tree. It didn’t move as I approached, so I began to suspect it might be guarding a nest. And as I got closer, it moved and a second lorikeet emerged from the tree hollow!

Nesting rainbow lorikeets

This is definitely a mated pair, either choosing a nesting site, or perhaps already guarding eggs. I managed to get even closer for another photo.

Nesting rainbow lorikeets

Now this is quite weird, because normally lorikeets don’t start nesting until spring, or perhaps August at the earliest. It really has been a strangely warm winter this year. Many flowers are already appearing: magnolias (which are normally early), camellias, azaleas, lavender, cherry blossoms – I’ve seen all of these the past few weeks. We’re supposed to get 23°C for the next few days (which I noted today was the same maximum temperature as London).

Then this afternoon I went for another walk with my wife and Scully, before my ethics classes for the evening. Phew, I feel like I’ve had plenty of running/walking today!

New content today:

Just writing more lessons

Today I mostly spent writing up new lessons for the coming week of ethics classes. One on “Stealing” for the younger kids, and on “Literature” for the older ones.

In between I took Scully for a long walk over to the Italian bakery a few suburbs away, to have a slice of pizza for lunch. Today they had a special maple/pecan danish, which I had to try as I think this is a great combination of flavours.

The weather was nice and sunny, and we’re in for a warm few days coming up, with temperatures hovering around 23°C. If that sounds warm for midwinter, yes, it’s unseasonally warm and it really has been most of winter. We’re not complaining yet, but who knows what this summer is going to bring?

Last night I started watching Bird Box: Barcelona on Netflix. I liked the first Bird Box, and was curious to see this sequel. There’s something a bit different going on and it’s not clear yet. I watched half the film and will finish it off tonight. I do this a lot with movies nowadays – I just don’t have enough time in the evenings after my classes to watch a full movie, so I always stretch them out over two nights.

All my friends are talking about Barbie and Oppenheimer at the cinemas. I think Oppenheimer would be interesting, especially given my background in physics, though I don’t know if I’ll manage to get to a cinema to see it.

New content today:

Time to get creative again!

I’m again running my Outschool class on “Creative Thinking & Problem Solving” with a practical project on designing a board game, for students aged 11-14 years. It’s a 6-week course starting Monday 31 July, with a 1-hour class at 6pm (Sydney time) each week. If you have or know a kid who likes games or would enjoy a class in creativity, check it out.

And speaking of creativity, I spent most of this afternoon photographing a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips, ready to start new updates again tonight. That, combined with 3 ethics classes in the morning, pretty much used up my whole day. Phew!

I’ve also started thinking about travel to Finland in November, for the next ISO Photography standards meeting, which is in Tampere. There are a few things to organise, such as a dog-sitter for Scully, before we can lock down dates and then start organising flights and hotels. Because Europe is so far away, we’re thinking of combining it again with a week or so somewhere else in Europe. Preferably somewhere not so cold! Perhaps Italy in November will be nice.

New content today:

Le Marché Français

This morning we went to Le Marché, a French market which is held twice a week in a suburb not too far from us. Parking was tricky – we had to park about three blocks away. And when we got there, soon after 9am, it was already pretty crowded.

Le Marché Français

The market has some fresh produce…

Fresh produce

French bread…

French bread


French cheeses

French decorations…

Marché sign

And pastries and sweets!

Parisian flan, chocolate

That’s a chocolate Parisian flan, which I had. It was incredibly rich and delicious. I didn’t feel like any lunch afterwards until I had a small snack around 2pm, which was plenty to last until dinner.

This afternoon I mainly worked on comics, until my three evening ethics classes. It feels like it’s been a very full day.

New content today:

A leisurely seafood lunch

Friday: Picked up groceries from the supermarket, taught four ethics classes, picked up Scully from wife’s work, went for a 2.5k run, cooked lentils and rice for dinner, played online board games night with friends. We played Decrypto, Evergreen, Jump Drive, Marrakech, Just One, 7 Wonders. And possibly something else I may have forgotten.

Today, Saturday, was more leisurely. I’ve started writing a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips, hopefully to photograph in time for new strips to go live by Monday. My wife an I took time out for lunch. Rather than go out for dinner this week in the winter cold (since we sit outdoors with Scully), we decided to have a nice lunch in the midday sun. We went to a local seafood restaurant that we like. I had the grilled salmon with agedashi eggplant on the side, which was really good. And for dessert I tried a new item on the menu, a “dark chocolate fireball”.

It came out on a red plate, a large ball of chocolate perched on a low bed of brownie-like cake. And then the waiter poured over a hot raspberry sauce, which melted the chocolate, revealing an interior with layers of raspberry sorbet and chocolate-raspberry namelaka (which I had to look up after we got home; namelaka turns out to be a type of ganache).

Dark chocolate fireball

It was delicious! And the lunch was very filling, so we’re planning to have a very light dinner tonight.

New content yesterday:

New content today:

Coldest day of the year

Sydney recorded 5.2°C overnight, making it the coldest day of the winter, and the year, so far. It warmed up a bit and the middle of the day wasn’t as cold as yesterday though.

I taught my first class on The Singularity this morning, with some of the older students, and it went well, with plenty of smart discussion by the students.

For lunch I walked Scully up to the shops near my wife’s work and had a Japanese lunch set at one of the restaurants there. They have a lunch special where you get miso soup, rice, salad, and a hot food item, like karaage chicken or pork katsu or teriyaki salmon or whatever. I’ve tried several of the options and was looking to try something new. One of the options was listed on the menu as “jumbo kaki”, and the photo showed what looked like Panko-crumbed croquettes.

I looked up “kaki” on my phone and found it meant “persimmon” in Japanese… but I didn’t think it would be persimmon croquettes. While pondering this, the waitress arrived to take my order, and I asked her what was in this dish. She looked, thought for a second, and declared the croquettes contained “beef and pork”.

Readers who know Japanese at this point: 🤔🤨

Anyway, I ordered the “kaki”. It came with a small bowl with a thick sauce. I tried one, dipping it in the sauce. Sure enough, the sauce tasted a bit like persimmon I thought, so maybe that explained the name in the menu. But the croquette filling definitely wasn’t beef or pork. It was something vaguely animal proteiny, but resembled more like a mushy mass of giblets or something than a cut of meat or a minced meat. It didn’t taste bad, so I just kind of tried to ignore whatever it might be and finished my meal.

When I went to pay, another waitress was at the pay station, and she said, “You had the oysters, right?”

Internally I was thinking, “Oh, that’s what it was!” As well as, “The other waitress really should have known better and not told me it was beef/pork.” Fortunately I don’t mind oysters, although they’re not a food of choice, and honestly if I’d known what the dish was I would have ordered something else. But I just thought now what if I’d had a seafood allergy or something? Anyway, I paid and didn’t say anything. (Also, fortunately I’m not allergic to seafood, although if I was I’d be a lot more careful confirming ingredients in restaurants than I am.)

Looking it up again now, I see that the Japanese “kaki” has several meanings. To quote Wiktionary:

柿: persimmon
垣: fence
牡蠣: oyster (edible)
夏期: summer period
花卉: flowers
火器: firearm
夏季: summer
火気: fire
下記: following
花期: flowering season
花器: vase
和気: harmonious atmosphere

Now I’m pondering a serve of harmonious atmosphere croquettes.

In sports news, the FIFA Women’s World Cup has just begun, with a surprise win by New Zealand against Norway in the opening game in Auckland, and Australia now taking on Ireland here in Sydney. I might go watch the game, and then switch over to the 4th Ashes cricket match in England.

New content today: