The new house being built nearby

Not too much out of the ordinary to report today: making Darths & Droids comics, a 5k run, and evening ethics classes. So I thought I’d mention some of the construction work going on around the neighbourhood where I live.

I’ve talked about the huge redevelopment where dozens of houses have been demolished recently and work is beginning on clearing the land to eventually build new apartments. But there’s other smaller works going on that I walk past regularly. At the top of the hill near where I begin my runs is a property which was an old 1960s-era apartment block, which has been demolished and is now going to host a modern retirement living complex. That’s approaching completion, with the building exterior done, and work now being done on the landscaping and (I assume) the interior fit-outs.

Down the street a bit from here there is a single house property which had until just a few weeks ago had an old fibro house on it. That was demolished and the land cleared super quickly, and now there’s a two-story house going up rapidly, using timber framing. Both storeys are already up!

Timber-framed houses are a bit unusual here. Most places are built with solid brick, so it kind of stands out as strange, watching it being built. There are two other residential homes not far away that were also redeveloped from old run-down homes in the past couple of years, and both of those were brick construction. Anyway, I’ll be interested to see how fast this new house goes up. My impression so far is that it’s been ridiculously rapid. I don’t have a photo, alas, but maybe I’ll take on this week.

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Games night and plumbing day

Friday I had a bunch of classes, followed by going out to a friend’s place for in-person board games night. We played games of Sequoia, Modern Art, Istanbul, and Coup. Here’s Istanbul:


It’s the longest game we played and I think the one I enjoyed the most. It was very close, with one guy winning it just one turn before myself and another player would have also reached the winning condition (and it would have gone to the tiebreaker condition).


Today I tackled a chore that I’ve been meaning to do for a few weeks. Our shower had begun to be a bit drippy, with it getting harder to turn the water off properly. I really dislike the job of replacing the valves in the taps because its fiddly and messy, and I have to get tools from the garage. So I tend to put it off as long as possible. But I decided I had to bite the bullet today and get it done. And last time I only bothered to replace the cold tap valves, so I thought I better do the hot ones as well this time.

I started at 11:30, thinking I’d be done by soon after midday so I could have lunch. In fact I didn’t finish until after 1pm. When I unscrewed the shower cold water tap I found the reason why it had been dripping lately:

Mangled valve

The old valve was completely mangled and worn out! Once I’d done the replacements and turned the hot and cold water mains back on, everything seemed to be working nicely. So hopefully I won’t need to do that again for a year or more.

This morning I did a 5k run, clocking 27:01 on my new route. I think this will be a faster route, without the steeper hills of the old route, nor the extended uphill slog over the last 2 kilometres or so.

This afternoon we all went on a walk up to the shops. I grabbed a gelato from the local gelato place. As I sat eating it, my wife noticed a sign at the specialist grocer next door advertising Doglato – an ice cream product for dogs. While I waited outside with Scully, she went in to take a look, and emerged with a small tub of peanut butter and honey Doglato. We gave Scully a bit, but it was frozen pretty solid so difficult to scoop out. We ended up taking the tub home and sticking it in the freezer, and will try giving Scully some more over the next few days, which will be easier with access to our kitchen utensils.

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The Stairs of Cirith Ungol

Today after lunch I took Scully on a slightly different walk. I checked a map to find something a bit new to do, since we’ve covered many of the same old walks so many times. I realised there was a place we could go about the same distance but that we haven’t done very much.

Valley near Bob Campbell Oval

This walk goes down a steep street down a valley towards a sports field nestled by a creek at the edge of the harbour. But up the hill a bit is this little fern-lined valley.

Valley near Bob Campbell Oval

That’s the street, which is narrow and doesn’t have much traffic, as it leads to a dead end at the sports field.

To go back uphill, we climbed the Stairs of Cirith Ungol:

Stairs of Cirith Ungol

I don’t know the real name (if any) of these stairs, but that’s what I call them. They’re cut into the sandstone and are pretty steep. Today they were covered with leaf litter as well, which made the footing a bit treacherous. (There’s another mention of them here.)

Stairs of Cirith Ungol

Scully handled it okay though. That’s her at the top, the little black blob. Although this isn’t the actual top of the stairs – there are several more beyond what you can see. Eventually it opens out into a street, and we can walk back home from there.

In other happenings today, I had a bunch more ethics classes on the brain uploading/transhumanism topics. Made a comic. And had enough time left over to finally format my Japan travel diary from June into HTML web pages. I haven’t embedded any photos yet, but if you’re curious you can read the diary here. Actually, I posted most of it to this blog back in June, from Japan. If you read it then, you probably don’t need to do it again now.

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Trying a new sandwich

This morning I worked on finishing off my lesson plans for the new week of ethics classes. I’m doing two related topics for the different age groups: Brain Uploading for the younger kids, and the broader topic of Transhumanism for the older kids.

For lunch I went for a walk with my wife and Scully to Botanica Garden Cafe, which does some really good food. I wrote about the first time I went there back in March. I’ve tried a few things off their menu and today I thought I’d try something I hadn’t had: the poached chicken and brie sandwich.

Chicken and brie sandwich

It was good, and very filling. There’s a lot of chicken stuffed in there. I barely wanted to eat dinner by the time evening rolled around. But did make some fried rice and had a smaller serving than I usually would have.

In the early afternoon I worked on version 2 of the Haunted House game for the game design class. I went for a 2.5k run after that, but still felt so full from lunch that I had to take it pretty easy and didn’t run a very fast time. On the way up the hill for my pre-run warm-up to the starting point, I passed more of the demolition work that is going on near here for redevelopment into loads of new apartments.

Demolition for redevelopment

This is another whole street of houses that have just been torn down, a couple of blocks over from the photo in this entry. It’s a huge area that is being worked on.

Tonight I started with three ethics classes on the “Brain Uploading” topic. In the first class I started with the premise that you could scan your brain and run a copy in a computer, and it would be an exact emulation of you, with your memories and personality. All three kids that it sounded awesome and wanted one. The second class, in contrast, had one kid who was keen on it, one who wasn’t so sure, and one who was totally freaked out by the idea and said it would be the scariest and most horrible thing ever. Should be fun running this over the next week!

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Scully by the water, new Japanese food

At lunch today I took Scully for a walk down to the park by the water. The pigface plants were flowering:

Pigface flower

And here’s Scully by the water:

Scully at Bayview Park

After dropping her off at my wife’s work in the afternoon I went into the university in the city for tonight’s image processing lecture, for which I’m on tutor duty again after delivering last week’s lecture. Today we start three weeks of material on machine learning and its application to image processing, recognition, and classification. But first I had to have dinner!

I’ve decided to try a different restaurant every week for this semester, and not just go to the same old places repeatedly. There are plenty in the area, so I shouldn’t run out, and it’s a good chance to try new places. Tonight I found a Japanese place which Google described as “bustling”. Only when I got there it was completely empty.

Daruma Japanese restaurant

Probably because I had to eat at 5pm, to make sure I could get to the lecture by 6. I had agedashi eggplant and tempura udon.

Agedashi eggplant and tempura udon

It was pretty good! And now I know a good Japanese place near the university.

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Big Lego comics day

After getting three ethics classes out of the way this morning, I worked hard on Irregular Webcomic! today. I had to finish off writing a batch of strips, quickly, so I had time to photograph the whole batch, and then assemble some of the comics for this week, since the buffer was empty. This meant some of the comics didn’t get punchlines as good as I would have liked, but thankfully when I got to assembling the comics I managed to rewrite one of those to my satisfaction. Actually, it’s the one that’s gone up this evening already!

Apart from that, I took Scully for a walk at lunch, and then again with my wife after she got home from work. And I cooked a quiche for dinner. And… about to relax and watch an episode of Question Team with my wife.

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Honey cakes

Today we had my wife’s mother, sister, and brother over for lunch. Just a simple thing with sandwiches. But her brother brought a selection of honey cakes from Christina’s Honeycakes to have after the sandwiches. There were six flavours and we cut the squares in half so people could try a wider selection. I really liked the peanut butter one.

Having guests over meant cleaning the house before they arrived, so that took up part of the day too. I also had a bit of a mess with Outschool admin to deal with – parents asking for class times that were already full and me getting in a tangle offering an extra place (maximum one) to two different parents without realising it, then having to deal with the issues when one signed up and the other couldn’t. Ugh. Its still not settled yet either – I’m going to have to deal with this more tomorrow.

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10k in 24 hours

This morning I got up, had breakfast, and went out for another 5k run. I felt fine after yesterday’s and thought I may as well do two back-to-back. As it turned out, I started an hour earlier and so finished the 5k run less than 24 hours after beginning yesterday’s run. I expect this is probably the first time in my life that I’ve run 10k in under 24 hours.

I also tried a new route. Mostly because I didn’t want to repeat exactly what I did yesterday. Normally I take my 2.5k route and instead of turning around at the halfway mark, I keep going to the end of the peninsula before turning back, which turns out to add almost exactly an extra 2.5k by the time I return to the fork point and complete the second half the 2.5 route.

But today I ran the normal 2.5k route and then continued, running up past the railway station, doing a short loop, and then heading down to the island at the bottom of the hill before heading back up. Here’s yesterday’s route, and here’s today’s route.

I want to try to work up to doing 10k in a single run – something I’ve never done before. I think one day when I feel super psyched up, I’ll head up to the sports oval at the hospital and just run laps. It’ll be boring doing 23 laps, but at least I won’t have to deal with hills!

After the run, I washed the car, which has been long overdue. It was getting quite dusty, so I’m glad that job is done. And I spent time this afternoon writing Irregular Webcomic! strips for a new batch which hopefully I’ll be ready to photograph no later than Monday afternoon, for the new week.

This evening I had lesson 5 in the current Creative Thinking & Game Design class. We’re tweaking our haunted house board game, though the student said he played it a few times and thought it was pretty good already. So maybe there’s not too much to change. And I got a third enrolment for the new instance of this course, starting on 11 September, so that’s great!

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First day of spring and… it’s cold

As one of my friends commented, it’s just like Sydney to have 27°C days in winter, and then the first day of spring arrives and it’s cold. We had a strong cold southerly wind blowing all day; it barely reached 18°C and it felt even colder than it really was. It won’t last though, we have a forecast for 25° days again in the next week.

It was another pretty bog-standard Friday. I picked up groceries in the morning before my first ethics class. Then I had a break in which I did a 5k run. I’m doing these more often now, mixing them up with the 2.5k ones.

My wife actually came home at lunch time to work from home for the afternoon. And then we went for a walk with Scully over to Naremburn, and the Flat Rock Brew Cafe for dinner. It was busy with a lot of people having Friday drinks, and many of them had brought dogs as well, so Scully got a bit excited and barky for a while until she settled down. The food is pretty nice pub food, and now I’m really full after a chicken schnitzel topped with bacon, fried egg, tomato sauce, and cheese.

Tonight is board games night online with my friends. I’ve just joined and am waiting for them to finish a game in progress so I can join in. It’s been a pretty full week, with not too much out of the ordinary to report.

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