Contemplating Daggerheart

One of my friends signed up for the Daggerheart playtest. If you don’t know about this, it’s an upcoming fantasy roleplaying game produced by the people running the popular Critical Role web series – a bunch of professional voice actors who are playing a Dungeons & Dragons campaign and record their play sessions. They want to move away from using the D&D system to a game of their own devising, to avoid intellectual property concerns about using D&D. So this end they are writing their own system.

Anyway, they’re holding a public playtest, which you need to register for, and my friend decided some weeks ago to sign up for it. He has received a confirmation that he’ll be getting the playtest rules, and is planning to run a game for us. I’m interested to see how it runs, although from the public previews so far I honestly don’t have particularly high expectations. It seems they’ve hewed pretty closely to the mindset of the 5th edition rules of D&D, which in my opinion are not the best ruleset they could be emulating. But we’ll see how it works in practice.

In other news, I didn’t have time for much today in between running 5 ethics classes, on this week’s topic of Exercise. Getting some interesting responses from some of the kids, although many of them are fairly predictable.

New content today:

Stabbed in the back

I got stabbed, or rather jabbed, in the back today. I had an appointment at a nearby hospital to have a cortisone injection in my spine. I’ve been having some issues with partial numbness in my left leg, and did some diagnostic scans a couple of months ago that revealed a pinched nerve in the lower spinal region. My neurologist suggested that an injection in the area would relieve pressure on the nerve, give it more room to conduct properly, and hopefully relieve the numbness symptoms.

So I reported to the hospital for a CT-guided injection. They took me into a CT scanner room and had me lie down on the scanning table face down. I was a bit surprised that they didn’t ask me to take anything off, not even my shoes! They just lifted the shirt off my lower back and did everything like that. I went into the scanner and then the doctor gave me a local anaesthetic and buried a long needle into my back on the left side of the spine. They ran the CT scanner while guiding the needle into the correct position, and then injected the cortisone. It didn’t hurt at all, but I could feel the pressure of the needle and the injection.

Once it was done I could get up straight away and they made me rest for 10 minutes, then I was allowed to go home. There’s no lingering discomfort or pain after the anaesthetic wore off. It feels pretty good. But I think it may take several days to see if there’s any effect on the numbness, because my neurologist booked a follow-up appointment for at least a month after the procedure.

In other news, we had some wild weather today. The forecast was for heavy rainstorms, but the morning and through to mid-afternoon was fine and mostly sunny. Fortunately I was back home from my procedure before the storm clouds rolled in late in the afternoon. We had some spectacular lighting and thunder, and torrential rain, although it didn’t last very long. Multiple lines of storms passed over, with breaks in between. We’ve had 34 mm of rain, in brief bursts over the past 4 hours or so. It should ease off overnight.

New content today:

Dental rescheduling

Today I was supposed to go to the dentist for a teeth cleaning and check-up, but they contacted me and said the hygienist was sick, so I had to reschedule the appointment. They had nothing for a couple of weeks, so now it won’t be until mid-December.

This morning I wrote my class for this week’s ethics topic: Exercise. Sample question: Is it ethical to pressure someone to exercise for their own well-being? If they don’t enjoy it?

The forecast rain started hitting late morning. Instead of taking Scully for a walk, I decided to drive over a couple of suburbs to the shops and find somewhere to eat under shelter. I ended up at a Spanish tapas place, which also did bocadillo sandwiches for lunch. The one I chose had fried chicken, bacon, cheese, tomato, and lettuce, and it was pretty good.

I didn’t do much else as I’m still feeling very tired by mid-afternoon due to continuing jet lag. I’ve been unable to sleep as late as I’d like in the morning, waking up around 4 or 5 am every day for several days now. So I haven’t had 8 hours sleep for over a week now.

I’ve been watching the new series Squid Game: The Challenge. I enjoyed the original TV show, and this reality TV game version of it seemed interesting. The first three episodes were okay when they were actually playing games, but I didn’t like the next two episodes os much, which have sort of descended into a Big Brother style reality TV snark-fest between the players. I’m hoping when the next batch of episodes is released tomorrow it’ll pick up again.

New content today:

Fass Bent

I just watched Alien: Covenant for the first time, since it appeared on Netflix while I was away overseas. I generally like the Alien movies – the first two were masterpieces of course, in very different yet consistent ways. The rest I’ve enjoyed in different ways, though I thought Prometheus wasn’t that great, and then I never saw Covenent at the cinemas. Having watched it now, I think it was an improvement over Prometheus, but felt like a straightforward story, with none of the real tension or horror of the first two films..

But I had a rather strange reaction to one aspect Covenant:

Spoilers hidden, click to reveal

I thought the two androids, David and Walter, looked vaguely similar to each other, but I totally did not realise they were both played by Michael Fassbender, and were intended to look identical. Which kind of spoiled the twist ending, when David pretended to be Walter, as I didn’t even realise they were meant to look similar enough for that to happen. Like, I thought David was played by Fassbender, but Walter was being played by some other actor who just happened to look a bit like him.

Today I was busy with more ethics classes. I had 5 classes, having added an extra class on Mondays to cater to a parent who wanted to try something for a bit as a 1-on-1 class for her son, to try to develop his critical thinking skills. He turned out to be very bright and articulate and I’m not really sure why his mother thinks he needs to work on those skills! But we had a great discussion about the American and French Revolutions and revolutions in general, digging deep into motivations and circumstances behind them and the role that human nature and our prejudices and emotions play in such events.

In the hour break I had for lunch in between, I took Scully for a bit of a walk. It was a nice day today, though a touch warm and very humid, though no threat of rain. That’s saving itself up for the next two days.

My jet lag is almost gone, but I’m still waking up a little earlier than I’d like. Another day or two should set things right now.

New content today:

Back into ethics teaching

Today I had my first online ethics classes with kids again, since returning from my trip. I’m still a bit jet lagged – I managed to sleep until just before 06:00 this morning, which was much better than I’ve been doing but I still need to catch up on a lot of sleep. So I was very tired when I began the classes at 17:00 this evening. It was a bit of a chore getting through them, but I managed okay. Today and tomorrow morning I’m finishing off the weekly topics on “Shrinking and Enlarging” and “Revolutions” that I started in the week before I left for the trip. We start new topics on Wednesday.

Early this morning after breakfast I left home to go for a run. I decided I felt okay enough to tackle 5k instead of just 2.5k. But I was almost foiled by something I found on the warm-up walk to my starting point. It was a dog – a little Pomeranian, perhaps not fully grown. It was just standing on the nature strip by the road as I approached, with no owner or other person in sight. It had a harness on it, but no collar or tag with any contact details.

I approached it carefully and it was friendly and didn’t try to move away. So I picked it up and set about trying to find where it had come from. The nearest house had an open gate leading up steps and around the side of the garage, so I thought, “Aha, it’s escaped from that open gate.” I took it in the gate and went up the stairs, turned the corner… and found a closed gate. Okay, so it couldn’t have wandered out through there by itself. I looked for a doorbell or intercom system anywhere, but there was none. I noticed the inner gate had a child lock on it and I opened it and poked my head in, seeing a yard strewn with toys. There door of the house wasn’t insight – I’d have to walk through the yard to find the door if I wanted to knock, and being 07:30 on a Sunday morning I didn’t fancy walking through some stranger’s yard and possibly scaring someone or having them get angry at me.

I put the dog down to see what it would do, and it turned and walked out of the property. Okay, so maybe this isn’t where it belonged. I closed the gate and followed it back to the street, where it turned and walked along the footpath. I followed, accelerating after it as it crept away. I feared it might run off down the street and I wouldn’t be able to catch it again. And then it turned into another yard several doors down, crossed to an open gate leading to the backyard, and went through there. I figured this must be where it lived, and it had escaped through that open gate. So I closed the gate so it couldn’t escape again and left, to go start my run. Hopefully that’s where it lived, and the people there didn’t wake up to find a strange dog locked in their backyard!

My run went a lot better than the efforts earlier in the week. I managed 5k, and a reasonable if not spectacular time. It probably helped that the weather had cleared up a bit and wasn’t rainy with 100% humidity. Although we have a fun “up to 150mm” of rain to look forward to over the next few days. What sort of stupid El Niño is this? We’re supposed to be having hot and dry conditions and fires all over the place.

I spent some time today processing and uploading photos from my first day in Rome on the recent trip. You can see them on the diary page on my website.

New content today:

Tidying up travel writing

Today I knocked off a couple of travel-related chores. Firstly, I wrote up my report on the ISO Photography Standards meeting that I attended in Tampere a couple of weeks ago. I need to summarise the entire meeting and any significant outcomes for Standards Australia, and submit the report to them, within 4 weeks of the meeting.

That took up until lunch time. The weather was a bit rainy and miserable again, so I couldn’t be bothered going for a run today.

In the afternoon I decided to tackle a less urgent travel issue. I still hadn’t finished processing photos and adding them to my travel diary for our trip to Germany and the Netherlands last year! I was partway through the last day in Amsterdam, so there wasn’t a lot to do, but I figured I better get it done, now that I have another whole trip backed up, along with the trip to Japan in June this year. I didn’t want to have three old trips that I hadn’t completed photo diaries for!

For dinner tonight, my wife and I went out for the first time since getting home from Italy. We didn’t want Italian food, so we went to a French crêpe place. Almost every time I go there I don’t have anything off the regular menu, because they always have a couple of specials, and they always look really good. Today was no exception – they had a chilli prawn galette and a butter chicken one! I would have liked to try both, but I decided on the chilli prawn. Normally I’d follow with a sweet crêpe for dessert, but I had that salted caramel tart I bought yesterday still, so I saved my dessert for later.

New content today:

Thai restaurant update and Pantheon photos

One of my old workmates has ventured to try the new Thai restaurant that seems to have replaced the excellent old one near our former workplace. He reports that the staff have indeed changed, and the food is not as good.

Today I started looking at photos from my trip. If you recall on day 9 I wrote about recreating an old photo of my wife at the Pantheon in Rome. Here’s the photo from 2001 again:


and here’s the photo from 2012 again:

Pantheon, 11 years exactly

We went back to the Pantheon twice on this trip, and I took photos using my dSLR:

Pantheon, 22 years later

and using my phone:

Pantheon, 22 years later

You can see that the dSLR shot matches the perspective of the original 2001 photo better. The 2001 photo was shot on 35 mm film, with a 24 mm lens. The 2012 photo was shot on a dSLR, with a 28 mm lens, which makes the angles on the buildings different – you can see it most noticeably on the building in the background on the right. The 2023 dSLR shot used a 24 mm lens, and the perspective matches the 2001 a lot better. Unfortunately I had my wife stand in a slightly wrong spot, so she isn’t lined up as well. The phone photo uses a 26 mm-equivalent focal length (it’s a 4.25 mm focal length lens with a 5.7 mm sensor, which divides out to give the same field of view as a 26 mm lens on a 35 mm camera), so the perspective is between the 2001 and 2012 shots. Unfortunately the phone has a different aspect ratio, and I composed it to miss the right hand side of the background building.

Anyway, this may be a bit technical – I am a camera nerd, after all. In summary, it’s tricky to recreate a photo exactly, and while I feel I could have done better, I’m fairly pleased with the resulting series.

It rained a lot today and was very humid. It began before sunrise and was still raining steadily when I wanted to take Scully out for lunch, so instead of walking I decided to drive over to a deli where they make excellent Reuben sandwiches – and I’ve been craving one for some time. I got about 3 km from home and the roads were dry, like it hadn’t been raining at all!

The sandwich was good. On the way back I stopped at a small patisserie that we know is good, and had a piece of their raspberry cheesecake. I also got a salted caramel tart to take home for either dessert tonight, or maybe tomorrow.

New content today:

Still fighting that jet lag

My wife and I are slowly adjusting to our home time zone after our trip. We went to bed at a normal time, but both woke up around 3am. We tried reading to get tired, but that took quite a long time. I think I eventually put the book down around 5am and managed to doze for another couple of hours.

I formatted my travel diary into HTML and stuck it on my website. It’s basically the same as the daily updates I posted here while travelling. I need to add photos, but I haven’t processed or uploaded any of those yet. That takes a lot longer. I still haven’t quite finished doing the photos from my trip to Germany and the Netherlands last year, and I haven’t started doing the photos for Japan in June.

I also dealt with a few other backed-up chores, making appointments, clearing out emails to action, and so on.

The weather here is pretty ordinary at the moment. It’s warm, but wet, and has been since we got home on Monday, with intermittent showers steaming the place up to a very high humidity. Today the showers were heavier. It’s been around 25-26°C during the day, down to a minimum of 19-20°C overnight, which makes for uncomfortably sticky sleeping conditions. There’s no end in sight either, as this pattern is forecast to continue for at least the next week, with some very heavy rainfall to look forward to early next week. One good thing is that my nasal passages are feeling a lot better than in the dry air of Tampere and Rome.

New content today:

Catching up with an old friend

Today I had a catch up over lunch with an old friend from school named Lisa. I’ve known her since Year 6, so 11 years old. We lost contact after high school but refound each other at a school reunion a few years ago. We’ve kept up on Facebook since, but I haven’t seen her again since then, until today. She travelled to near my place on the train and we met at a local cafe. We had a good long chat, filling each other in on years of back-story that we’d missed. I took Scully too and the two of them got along nicely.

My wife went back to work after our trip today, but I’m still taking it a bit easy a few more days. I loaded all my photos from the trip onto the desktop computer – from my phone and from my dSLR. 1226 photos!

And I worked on some Darths & Droids writing and comics. That’s about it. Oh, I went for another 2.5k run this evening, and went faster than yesterday, but still outside 13 minutes. I need to get back below 12:30!

Oh! And I got some awful news! My friends’ and my favourite Thai restaurant near our old workplace, Go Hun, has been replaced by some new one that is part of a corporate chain of Thai restaurants. We don’t know if the staff are the same, but the menu has changed. We’re all in mourning, and I feel like we should have some sort of Thai food wake.

New content today:

Europe diary, days 16, 17: The journey home

Sunday 19 November

We set alarms to get up at 06:15. We had a quick breakfast and completed packing the last few things such as toiletries. I went out to take out all of the garbage, separated into paper, plastic bottles, food waste, and mixed waste. The apartment instructions said we had to take it out to a public collection point in the nearby piazza by 10:00 for collection there. We’d seen large waste bins there when walking past in previous days, but when I went this time there were none! I thought I might just have to dump the bags on the footpath and hope someone collected them, but then I saw some smaller bins a little way down a side street. The first one I tried was locked, but fortunately the others weren’t and I managed to put the food and bottles in appropriate bins. I didn’t see a paper bin, so ended up putting that in with the mixed waste.

We left the apartment just before 07:00, walking with our luggage along the street to Spagna metro station, where we caught a train to Termini. There we bought tickets for the Leonardo Express to Fiumicino Airport, but saw that the next departure wasn’t until 07:50! So we had about 25 minutes to wait. We decided to go to the platform, where several of the express trains were standing end to end, but then we spotted signs saying that the train wasn’t running today and there was a replacement bus. Following the signs took us outside where a worker in a red uniform vest told us to walk down the street a hundred metres or so to where his colleagues in red vests were loading the buses. We got there and put our large bags in the bus luggage compartment then climbed on board. The bus left about ten minutes earlier than the scheduled train time, so that was okay, and we got to Fiumicino about 08:15, earlier than the train would have arrived.

We checked in, went through security and passport control, and then went to relax a bit in the Plaza Lounge before boarding. This lounge wasn’t as nice as the Singapore SilverKris lounge, but it was okay. M. got a couple of coffees and some small cornetti for her last Italian breakfast, while I ate the last of the apples that we’d bought a few days ago. Eventually we went to the gate and boarded the plane. It was delayed pushing back from the gate by about 15 minutes before departure due to flight congestion. Hopefully that won’t cause us to be too late into Singapore, as our connection time is tight there.

Monday 20 November

Our first flight landed in Singapore just before sunrise. We only had 25 minutes before boarding began for our flight to Sydney, so not much time to do a lot. We both tried to snooze on the flights. We arrived back in Sydney about 17:45. We had a dream run out of the airport, thanks to not having to wait for any checked luggage. There were no other flights arriving and the arrivals areas for immigration control and customs were completely empty. Many people went to wait for luggage while we just waked straight out.

We caught a train and were home before 19:00. Then we had to drive over to our friends’ place to collect Scully!

Tuesday 21 November

I went to bed about 23:00, read until I fell asleep, and slept until about 05:00 before becoming wide awake, so that wasn’t too bad. Mostly I took it easy, because I wasn’t feeling great. I did go for a run, the first since before the trip. I thought I’d do an easy 5k, but by 2.5k I was utterly worn out and stopped there.

I basically just spent time unpacking and cleaning up all the stuff around the house. I revived the sourdough starter and made a loaf of bread. Oh, and I went through maybe 100 emails that I had to deal with in some way. Hopefully I’ll get a good night’s sleep and be back in the correct time zone by tomorrow!