Story of a Magic card

I’ve mentioned that I’m in the process of selling off some of my old Magic: the Gathering cards. I started playing the game in 1994, too late to buy any of the Arabian Nights expansion cards myself. But I traded for some of them early on, in a vain attempt to assemble a complete collection of that expansion set. I never managed this, because already by the time I started playing, some of those Arabian Nights cards were considered valuable (like $20 or so!) and it was difficult to find anyone willing to part with them.

I did manage to trade for a City in a Bottle. Here it is, a photo I took a few days ago of my personal copy of this card:

City in a Bottle

This was one of the difficult rare cards to get, but I was determined to get one because I admired the work of the artist, Drew Tucker. Unlike all the other card artists at the time, he worked in watercolour, and his images were always slightly impressionistic, different to the regular sort of fantasy art of the time. I eventually assembled a complete collection of all of the cards with Tucker’s artwork, as far as the Mirage expansion. But this City in a Bottle was the pride of my collection, as it was so rare.

The reason I took a photo of it the other day is because someone on the Discord where I am selling my cards was in search of a copy to buy. I figured I’m selling my collection, I should let this card go if someone wants it. The current value of this card in good condition, according to recent online sales, is about US$340, or AU$530. I offered a bit of a discount—because the listed selling price is never what you actually get after fees, or the middle-man taking a cut; if you sell direct to a buyer rather than through an online selling site then the accepted practice is to price the card around 15% lower.

The buyer PayPal-ed me some money, and I’ve now sent the card off. I messaged to say it was in the mail, and I hope he treated the card well, because it meant a lot to me because it was the pinnacle of my artist collection of Drew Tucker cards. I didn’t really expect too much of a response, because I know a lot of people don’t really appreciate Tucker’s artwork, preferring more traditional painting media for fantasy art. But the buyer said:

Will do. Drew Tucker is my favorite magic artist by far. I had him do a painting on the back of an artist proof when I was at eternal weekend and it’s one of my favorite cards. This is my first City – very excited to finally get one!

Wow! Now that’s cool. I’m sad to see one of my favourite cards in my collection go, but if it has to go to anyone, I’m glad it’s this guy.

In other news, I’ve scheduled an extra ethics class on Mondays, after requests from parents for more suitable timeslots for their kids. I’m now up to 6 classes on Mondays! I could probably schedule something close to a 40-hour week working on these and get plenty of enrolments, but I still need some time off in between to breathe and get other things done.

I used a bit of spare time today to do stage 4 of the Lego Dungeons & Dragons set. This adds the roof and exterior of the bedroom from stage 3. The roof bits are really nice, with clever angles and construction.

Lego D&D set: stage 4

There’s also more details inside. And this new figure of an orcish fighter. Who appears to have bested the bed-mimic from stage 3, and is now interested in this treasure chest that might be full of loot.

Lego D&D set: stage 4

But oh no! It’s another mimic!!

Lego D&D set: stage 4

This set is so much fun to build.

I also made new IWC comics today, ready for a new update tonight to replace last week’s hiatus of reruns.

New content today:

Selling Blood Bowl miniatures

Besides selling some Magic: the Gathering cards, I’m working on selling a bunch of old Blood Bowl miniatures from Games Workshop. I have a few teams and star players that I bought back in 1994 when I was enthusiastic about the game (3rd edition), and had high hopes of painting and playing with several teams. But these were never taken out of the original packaging and have been sitting in my garage for years. So I thought I’d sell them. They’ve gone up a bit in value, going by eBay sales, but not nearly as much as some of the Magic cards.

I didn’t have any good venue to sell them other than eBay, until I remembered one of my friends is a keen online Blood Bowl player. So I asked him, and he pointed me at a Discord chat for Australian players. I joined up and posted my wares there, and have sold a few things already. So tomorrow I’ll be putting a box in the mail with some of those old gaming miniatures.

It feels good to get rid of old stuff and actually make a bit of cash doing so! My wife and I also cleaned up some of our bookshelves today, and I made space for some of the board games that have been piling up on side tables and things.

And I found time to write some more Irregular Webcomic! strips and take photos, which I’ll assemble for new strips this coming week.

New content today:

Wet Saturday, pizza, Root

It was a cold, wet day today. It’s astonishing how just a week or two ago it was still hot like the end of summer, and now the weather has turned downright chilly. I managed to find a window around 9am to go for a short run, 2.5k. I want to ease back into it a little since my back is still a tiny bit tender after pulling it a week ago. I might try for 5k tomorrow, but we’ll see.

My wife and I played a game of Root this afternoon, this time using all four factions for the first time, with robot versions of the Marquisate and the Eyrie, while she played the Alliance and I played the Vagabond. I’d been introducing new elements of the game to her slowly so she can get used to them, and this is the first time we included the Vagabond. The robot factions did pretty well and controlled a lot of the board until late in the game, but we both overtook them and my wife managed to race to victory.

I also spent some time building the next stage of the D&D Lego set. First, here’s a photo of the enormous box!

Lego D&D set

Inside are a couple of dozen numbered bags full of pieces, which are constructed in order. Here’s the first stage of construction, a tavern, showing the outside with a dwarven adventurer:

Lego D&D set: Stage 1

Stage 2 added more to the upper parts of the walls, the tavern sign, and a wizard character:

Lego D&D set: Stage 2

Today I completed stage 3, which is the upper floor of the tavern, where there’s a comfy looking bed:

Lego D&D set: Stage 3

But oh no! It’s a mimic!!!

Lego D&D set: Stage 3a

I’ll try to do stage 4 tomorrow.

Tonight for dinner I made pizza – our usual with pumpkin and walnuts and chilli. We had some left over sour cream from Mexican meals in the past week, so I added some of that and a bit more chilli oil onto the cut slices after it was cooked. Very nice!

New content today:

Non-games night

It’s Friday board games night at a friend’s place, but I’m staying home this evening.

I had more classes today on the “Dreams” topic. I’ve had some very diverse views in this topic. Some of the kids are very scientific and talk about dreams being products of our brain biology, based on memories, and that’s all they are. Others talk about possibilities that dreams are our brains trying to tell us something important. Or that they might possibly be glimpses into an alternate world or reality. And a few have said they believe dreams can be visions of the future.

I also did another trip to the post office today, to send two more packages of cards. I’ve sold quite a few this week. But still a long way to go to make a dent in my collection!

New content today:

Sending more cards overseas

Besides 5 ethics classes today, I spent some time selling more Magic: the Gathering cards. I made 4 new sales, and sent three packages off in the mail. The other was this evening, so I’ll send it tomorrow.

The only other thing worth comment today was a brief but intense thunderstorm that passed over the city mid-afternoon. There was intense rain and some extremely loud thunder where I am for a few minutes, before it cleared away and became sunny again.

My wife made minestrone for dinner using the left over vegetable soup from last night. We’ve moved from summer dishes to soups again on the nights when I have classes, as the weather cools down towards winter. The quilt has gone back on the bed already, and slippers have come out of storage.

New content today:

Writing an overdue report

This week is mid-semester break at the university, so I didn’t have to go in for a Data Engineering session. I used the extra time to tackle a task that I should have done a few weeks ago: writing up my report for Standards Australia on the ISO Photography Standards meeting that was held in Tokyo in February. They say I should have the report submitted within a month of the meeting, but I’ve been a bit late in the past and they haven’t said anything. So anyway, today I knuckled down and wrote the report and then submitted it.

That took a good few hours. I finished about the time I finished eating my lunch (I got hungry and made it and ate at my desk as I worked). After that I took Scully for a walk. We went to the post office, because I had another batch of Magic: the Gathering cards that I’d sold which I had to mail.

We got back, and my wife got home soon afterwards. She’d taken the afternoon off to take Scully in to the vet to get a vaccination for leptospirosis. We’d wanted to get her vaccinated for this some time ago, but they had a shortage of the vaccine and it only just became available again. So we had flu shots yesterday and Scully got her own shot today. She seems not to have suffered any strange effects from it, acting normally all evening.

And while they were at the vet I sold another Magic card (yes, one – I sold it for over $400) and went for another walk up to the post office to mail it.

This evening I had the first three classes of the new “Dreams” topic this week. It’s an interesting one. A couple of the kids had obviously read up about dreams and knew all about lucid dreaming and the conjectured biological purposes of dreams and so on, while others were just going off their own experiences and trying to think questions through from that perspective.

New content today:

Flu shot time

Today my wife and I were booked in for our annual pre-winter flu shots. We also booked a COVID booster, but when we showed up at the pharmacy after my wife got home from work in the evening, they said we weren’t due for a COVID booster yet. I thought we should have them at 6 month intervals, but they said we weren’t supposed to have them until 12 months after the last one. I guess they changed the recommendations about it recently.

Anyway, we had our flu shots. So far we’re both fine, no negative effects at all, apart from the slight dull pain in the arm.

This morning I wrote a lesson plan for this week’s new critical thinking and ethics topic, on “Dreams”. I think this should be an interesting and fun one. First classes are tomorrow evening. Some sample questions:

  • Do you think dreams are a part of everyday reality, or visions of something else?
  • Why would some people think dreams can predict the future?
  • Have you ever had a dream that inspired a story, artwork, or an idea to solve a problem?
  • Could dreams be part of our creative processes?
  • If you do something bad in a dream does that mean you could be a bad person?
  • Could you be dreaming right now? Why or why not?

New content today:

Another nice lunch

My wife took a day off work today, and after my three morning ethics classes we went for a walk to Botanica Garden Cafe for lunch. I had a chicken schnitzel burger, which also has a fried egg on it among other things. I’ve had it once before and it’s delicious, but very filling. I selected it today because I was very hungry by the time we got there. My wife had a breakfast bowl from the all-day breakfast menu, which was a kind of bircher muesli with tapioca, fresh blackberries, mango, figs, and coconut. I had a bit of that and it was delicious too.

We took Scully home via the harbour shore and had her run around and chase a tennis ball a bit, before we walked home. The day was warm and nice, another beautiful autumn day.

I was hoping to make a new Irregular Webcomic! strip in time for tonight’s update, but I ran out of time and decided to take a week’s hiatus to get some other things done, and hopefully be ready for next week. So this week is going to be reruns with new annotations.

New content today:

A very nice lunch at Yellow

Today’s main activity was going into the city for a nice lunch at Yellow, a vegan fine dining restaurant. They have outside tables so we could take Scully. This was a special lunch for a particular occasion. They have a six course tasting menu, and the food was really excellent.

The weather was great for it too. Blue skies with a few fluffy clouds, a touch warm, but not hot. The weather now at this time of year is really good, between the hot of summer and the cold of winter.

We got home in time for my afternoon ethics classes online, which I’ve now completed this evening. It’s been a busy few days, and I’m keen to relax this evening.

New content today:

3 busy days: Grand Canyon Track; Lego and games; French bakery

I’ve been busy the past few days, so have missed a couple of daily updates. But firstly, there’s horrible news from here in Sydney today: multiple people have been fatally stabbed in a shopping centre stabbing spree. I’m fine and I don’t know anybody who was in the area, in case anyone reading this was wondering.

But to better things. Thursday was very busy because I took my visiting friend from the USA out to the Blue Mountains to get a taste of the national park. I didn’t want to battle peak hour traffic by driving into the city to pick him up from his accommodation, so he graciously agreed to make his way on the trains to my place, arriving at 9am. We drove outwards, against the traffic. It took us just under two hours to reach our first stop: Lincolns Rock Lookout. This is a bare rock ledge on the edge of the cliff, looking west over Jamison Valley, so the sun was behind us, illuminating the view.

Lincolns Rock Lookout

From here we drove over to a nearby pie shop for an early lunch. I wanted to get my friend to try a good Aussie meat pie, but I didn’t know any of the pie shops in the mountains. I did some research and also asked my friends, and converged on Mountain High Pies in Wentworth Falls. We both had the green curry chicken pie, which was pretty good. I tried a sausage roll, while my friend had a chocolate croissant and a cookie.

Next stop was the Grand Canyon Track walk. This had been closed following the heavy rain last week, and only reopened at 8am on Thursday, just a few hours before we got there. It’s a 10km loop walk that descends from the car park on top of the plateau down to the valley floor, then along Greaves Creek, which descends into a deep, narrow sandstone canyon for part of the journey.

Grand Canyon Track panorama

I haven’t done this walk before, and was amazed at how beautiful and spectacular it is. It was very wet with the recent rain, with water dripping off overhead rocks in many places, so we got a little wet, but not soaked. At one point the canyon opens out into an area surrounded by rock, and a waterfall drops into the space from the cliffs above. The walking track actually goes around the back of the waterfall, just like in the movies (at left in this photo).

Grand Canyon Track panorama

In several places the track is cut into the rock and you need to be careful to duck your head to avoid banging it. In one spot the walk goes through a dark tunnel and we had to use the torches on our phones to light the way – although you probably could have managed without light as the tunnel was only about 10-15 metres long. There were a lot of muddy puddles that we had to carefully walk around to avoid getting wet socks. In one place the stepping stones crossing the creek were submerged and people had placed other rocks on top to keep your feet more or less dry, and it was a bit of a balancing act to negotiate safely.

The walk took us about two and a half hours, and was worth every second of it. I definitely want to do it again with my wife one day, but we’ll try after a period of drier weather! After climbing back out of the valley we ended up at Evans Lookout. This has a view of the Grose Valley, which is on the other, northern side of the plateau to Jamison Valley.

Evans Lookout view

We rested here enjoying the view a bit before walking back to the car. Then we drove over to Govetts Leap lookout, which has views of Grose Valley from further north.

Govetts Leap Lookout

Next we headed back from Blackheath to Katoomba, and the famous Echo Point lookout. This is the most famous spot, and the most visited by tourists, so we saw a lot of other people here.

Echo Point, Three Sisters

And our last stop was Submlime Point in Leura. Another fantastic lookout spot, with views in the distance of Lake Burragorang in the river valley.

Sublime Point lookout, Leura

It was close to sunset now and we headed back home. My friend accepted my suggestion to have dinner with me and my wife, so I drove home and after meeting up we walked up to the local shops and had dinner at Turka, a Middle Eastern restaurant. That was really good and a great way to finish up a strenuous day of sightseeing.

On Friday I had a bunch of ethics classes. After the last one I took a trip to Chatswood to meet someone who wanted to buy some of my old Magic: the Gathering cards. he was interested online, and when I learnt he lived in Sydney I suggested we meet up instead of me posting the cards to him. This was good, because he got to see the cards in person before transferring the money to me – it was a significant amount, over a couple of thousand dollars.

After that I got the train back home and enjoyed online board games night with my friends. We played a new game: Word Traveller. It’s a cooperative game where each player encodes a route through a famous city (we used the Paris board) using a hand of word cards to attempt to describe various landmarks on the gridded map. The other players have to determine the route as best they can given the ambiguities, and everyone scores points according to how many point-scoring landmarks they successfully visit. It was fun, but there’s a time limit and the second (and final) round was really tough against that limit.

Today, Saturday, I did some housework, cleaning the bathroom. We also dropped Scully in for a groom and haircut, and then took the time to drive over to Paddington so my wife could visit the markets there. While she did that I walked over to Tonton Bread bakery. I was seeking their delicious apricot/almond croissants. But when I got there I didn’t see any on the counter, so I asked the woman at the counter, “No apricot almond croissants today?”

And she looked really puzzled, and said, “Apricot? We don’t make anything like that.”

I said I’d had them there before, and she said that it must have been a long time ago. But it wasn’t that long ago.. only eight months, in fact. Well. So I got a ham and cheese danish, and a chocolate almond croissant instead (which I shared with my wife). I also got one of their delicious flans for dessert tonight.

We got home, picked up Scully, went for a walk. I went for a run too, but took it easy and only did 2.5 km instead of the usual 5, because I’m still not fully over my sore back – it’s about 95%, but I wanted to not strain it too much. And phew… I think that’s all the highlights of the last three days.

New content Thursday:

New content yesterday:

New content today: