Writing and fish and chips

After yesterday’s busy and long day, I felt a bit worn out today. I worked on Irregular Webcomic! scripts, hoping to complete the batch in time for photographing tomorrow morning. I made it just after lunch, then took a break to build a new Lego set I’ve been working on for a bit.

I picked up Scully from my wife’s work, and my wife suggested we go out for some fish & chips for dinner. The local place is a short walk away and pretty good, so this is a nice easy dinner. We sat outside in the evening twilight at a table and benches on the side of the road, watching the stars come out.

New content today:

Cold market day

Today was the Kirribilli Arts & Crafts Market, and I had my stall there selling my photography prints and greeting cards. My wife had a small part of the stall for her dog bandanas. I went in with optimistic thoughts about the number of customers.

The weather was fine and sunny, but windy. And it was cold – winter cold. The maximum temperature in Sydney was only 19.7°C. I had a jacket on, but after standing at the stall in the morning for a while and not walking around, I was shivering from the cold. My wife had to go buy me a hot chocolate to try to warm up.

There were a lot more customers going through the market than any of the previous days I’ve been at this one. However, the demographic in this area is younger than at Lindfield, the other market that I go to. And it seems that the strongest buyers of my products are older women buying greeting cards, and middle-aged parents with children around the pre-teen years, who buy matted prints for the kids. There were a few of this demographic today, but mostly it was young couples, singles, and groups of teenagers – very very few of whom are particularly interested in greeting cards or fine art photography prints.

The upshot is I didn’t make enough sales to cover the cost of the stall rental, even with a busy market. I’m going to have to rethink whether Kirribilli is a good market for me to be attending. I’m a lot more optimistic about Lindfield Market next week, which is a suburban area with a lot of empty nesters and families with older children.

It was a long and tiring day still. We got up at 05:30, to head to the market by 06:00, and we only got home with all of our stuff after 4:30 pm (the market having closed at 3 pm).

Then it was a simple dinner and relaxing before an early night, because my wife has to get up before 6 again tomorrow for a week of work in the office.

New content today:

Comic writing and market prep

Tomorrow (Sunday) is Kirribilli Markets, where I’m attempting once more to sell prints of my photography. The last few markets have been pretty dismal, for various reasons, but the forecast for tomorrow is good and I’m hoping to actually make a profit above the market stall rental fee. We shall see.

So I had some prep work to get ready for that today, going over my checklist and making sure everything is in order, before the 5:30 start tomorrow morning, to load the car and get down to the market soon after 6am and start setting up.

The other thing I tried to do today was write the next batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips. I got a decent few written, but I’ll have to knuckle down on Monday (after the market Sunday) to finish the batch off ready to photograph, hopefully on Tuesday at the latest.

New content today:

Games Night: Istanbul and Mysterium

Late Friday post because last night was Games Night. I arrived last this time, and everyone else was in the middle of a game of Starbase Jeff. I played this game a lot back when it was newer and really like it – it’s very strategic. But while the others finished their game, I did some Italian lessons on my iPad.

Then we got stuck into a new game (for us, but released in 2015), Istanbul.

Istanbul

In this game you lay out a randomised board made of 16 large tiles, representing the bazaar district of old Istanbul. Your goal is to be the first to purchase 5 gemstones. To do this, you need to move around the market, visiting various tiles. Each tile allows you to do a specific action, ranging from collecting goods (jewellery, fabric, spices, and fruit), collecting small amounts of money, selling goods to get larger amounts of money, using money to buy gemstones. Some tiles do other things to make all of this easier: the Wainwright allows you to buy larger wheelbarrows to carry your goods around in, the two mosques let you pick up small tiles that give you bonus actions to do more things, the Caravansery lets you draw special action cards which give you a one-off bonus action.

Istanbul

The thing that ties it all together and makes it tricky is how you move around the board. You have a large counter representing your agent, and a stack of four smaller counters as your assistants. You start in a stacked group at the Fountain. You can move up to 2 tiles, and the whole stack moves as one. To perform the action on the tile you land one, you have to remove one assistant from the stack and leave them there. So as you travel around the board on your turns, you leave a trail of assistants behind. If you land on a tile that already has one of your assistants on it, you pick them back up into your stack to perform the tile’s action. And you need to do this, because if you run out of assistants, then you don’t get to perform the action on a tile you land on, which is a wasted turn. So you’re constantly having to plan ahead, then backtrack or do little loops around the board to pick up your assistants again.

There are a few other details that add strategy and some more things you can do, but that’s the gist of the game. It was a lot of fun, and ended fairly tightly, with two people achieving the five gems and the game being decided on a tie-breaker.

After that we played Mysterium. We’ve played this several times. One player is a ghost and trying to give the other payers clues about who murdered them, so they can solve the mystery. But the ghost is very restricted, and can only give clues by handing the players cards which contain cryptic images of dream-like scenes. The players have to interpret what the ghost meant by them – and it’s very easy to go astray because each card contains many items on it.

I’ve never played this game as the ghost before, so I was keen to give it a try. It’s very challenging, but in the end I managed to clue the others to the correct conclusion, so we shared a victory.

Mysterium

In this photo, for example, I used the card with deep sea diver and Anubis statues to clue the racing car driver (top left on the screen) – because the wheel with spokes evoked the image of the spoked wheels on the driver’s car.

New content today:

Writer’s block

This morning I did the weekly grocery shop. Normally it’s on Friday, but I moved it up a day because we were out of milk, and decided I may as well buy everything rather than just go to the supermarket for a carton of milk.

Much of the rest of the day I worked on Darths & Droids writing, but it wasn’t as productive as I hoped. I got completely stuck on coming up with a joke for one strip, and stared at it for a couple of hours without any progress. That’s just how it goes sometimes.

My wife is back to working in the office full time, which meant today I had to go in and pick up Scully at lunch time and bring her home for the afternoon. I took her out to the dog park later in the afternoon for a bit of a run around. It’s getting very pleasant in the late afternoon down by the waterside now, as the sun is going down earlier due to the end of daylight saving, and the progression of autumn. The “Gobi Desert” part of the regular walk we do with our dogs isn’t nearly as bad as in the middle of summer.

One productive thing I did was actually while reading reddit, I stumbled across this post about how to reward player creativity in a roleplaying game. The response mentioning Old School Hack (a free RPG game system) struck me as brilliant. Putting it into my own words:

Establish a pool of “Awesome points” (or some other cool name), initially with some number (1.5× the number of players if following Old School Hack’s suggestion). Allow the players to award points to other players for good/creative character roleplaying. Players who have been awarded points may spend them for some game benefit (a reroll or dice bonus, or whatever works in your game system). The GM should add an extra point to the pool whenever they (a) introduce a plot complication, (b) acknowledge that a character has done something disadvantageous due to a character flaw.

This encourages players to roleplay creatively and cleverly, and also to bring their character flaws into play. I’ve made a note of it in my general notes file for RPG game mechanic ideas.

New content today:

A new course idea

After yesterday’s disappointment with Outschool’s rejection of my idea for a Harry Potter themed ethics class, I started work on a new idea for a class. This time it’ll be science.

The idea is a six-week course, with one session a week about the six biggest ideas in science, one from each of chemistry, biology, geology, astronomy… and physics gets two because it’s impossible to choose. Respectively, the topics are: atomic theory, evolution, plate tectonics, the Big Bang, and the two physics ones are relativity and quantum mechanics. And I’ll do them from a historical perspective, showing the development of the ideas and why they were needed to resolve problems in each of their respective fields.

It’ll take some time to assemble the material. I’ll need to make class notes and slides for each lesson, and probably draw a lot of diagrams from scratch since I can’t use anything downloaded from the net that might be copyright. I’ll let you know when it’s ready.

New content today:

No Harry Potter for you!

Outschool got back to me about the Harry Potter themed ethics classes I submitted for approval. They were not approved.

They said that due to a request from Warner Brothers, they did not allow any classes that mention Harry Potter in either the title or description, other than literary analysis classes. A friend of mine pointed out that Warner Brothers don’t own the copyright on the Harry Potter novels, and I’m not making a movie out of the material, so how is it even any of their business? The answer was actually in Outschool’s email, reading more carefully.

Warner Brothers has a trademark on the name “Harry Potter” and several other terms from the movies. And it looks like they are ruthless in enforcing it. Outschool, quite sensibly, doesn’t want to anger the dragon, so they have a strict policy of not allowing any Harry Potter content at all, other than literature analysis classes.

So… that’s the end of that. I’d hoped that theming an ethics class using Harry Potter would attract a lot of students. My approved, unthemed class has had no enrolments yet. I’m sure a lot of kids would actually enjoy it, but it’s going to be hard for them to notice it and decide to pursue it.

Beyond feeling bad about this, I spent the day writing Darths & Droids comics. And made pizza for dinner, with hand-made dough for the base. I don’t think I’ll go back to store-bought pre-made bases again!

Oh, here’s a photo I took yesterday while out walking Scully. This kookaburra was sitting on a branch about head height, right near the path I was walking on. I approached slowly with my phone held out at arm’s length, and managed to get close enough to take this photo before it flew away. This is not cropped either – it’s the entire image from my phone camera.

Laughing kookaburra

New content today:

Another day ticking off tasks

I feel like I achieved a lot today. There were a lot of small tasks I needed to get done, most of which are not particularly interesting or fun. I just sat down and did them one after the other.

The most interesting one was creating a new Outschool course, based on my Ethical and Critical Thinking course that I created a week or two ago. I wanted to make a variant version in which all of the stories I use to set up the ethical questions and dilemmas come from the Harry Potter books. There seems to be a big demand for themed classes on Outschool, and of course lots of Harry Potter ones. So I spent some time going through the first four books and choosing plot points that raise ethical questions, then formulating a brief outline of each of the first four lessons based on these. I also had to draw a new course image – I adapted the “Thinker and Sherlock Holmes” artwork I did for the previous ethics course, replacing Holmes with a sketch I drew of Harry, Ron, and Hermione.

Other stuff I did was less interesting: Spreadsheeting receipts for tax purposes. Filling out some online forms with the tax office. Dusting off an old Lego set I’d had sitting out gathering dust, before putting it away inside a glass-doored cabinet which is now empty because of all the space I’ve freed up by throwing out DVD cases. Some bathroom and kitchen cleaning chores. Baking a sourdough loaf. Setting up my GitHub account access with token authentication instead of password (since they’re deprecating password access in August, and I’ve been putting off switching for months now). Some other stuff I can’t even remember now.

I didn’t get much fun done today, but I feel like I’ve achieved a lot.

New content today:

Easter Sunday lunch

Today was a family day, being Easter Sunday. My wife’s immediate family always has a gathering for lunch. My mother-in-law made roast chicken and vegetables, followed by butterscotch pudding. I brought my sourdough challah (see yesterday) and also made a salad of rocket, pear, walnuts, and blue cheese. My wife’s brother brought chocolate Easter eggs and little bunnies from a fancy chocolate shop near where he lives. We have these every year and they’re really delicious, filled with ganache of various flavours. There’s even a “hot cross bun” chocolate, filled with apple and cinnamon ganache.

Given this big lunch, we’re only having a light and non-complicated dinner back at home tonight. My wife is having leftover lentils from yesterday, while I’m making some grilled cheese sandwiches.

New content today:

A very busy Saturday

I did a lot today… all of it basically household chores, rather than much fun or productive. I went shopping to buy another DVD wallet to store the remainder of our DVDs in, and then spent a few hours sorting through discs, putting them in the wallet, and then making multiple trips to the garbage room to throw the old cases and paper liners into the recycling bins. It’s astonishing the sheer volume of stuff I’m actually throwing out. Hopefully once the job is complete (i’m still in the middle of it), we’ll have reclaimed a significant amount of storage space.

I baked sourdough challah for tomorrow’s family Easter lunch.

Sourdough challah

I decided to make challah for Easter a while ago, thinking it would be a cool thing for us to have at the family lunch, and it was only later that I realised that challah is one of the foods that is definitively not eaten by observant Jews during Passover (which usually includes the Western Easter – although it’s complicated by the schism between different ways of calculating the holy days between the Eastern and Western religions). So apologies to any Jewish readers for the faux pas, but hopefully you can forgive this gentile weirdness.

But anyway, it looks to have turned out okay!

Sourdough challah

In the afternoon I went shopping again with my wife (and Scully), to the home-maker centre where we got some storage boxes and a table lamp. And then we went for a long walk to get Scully some exercise. A park by the water that we go to was very busy with picnicking families, making the most of the long weekend and the warm autumn weather. Then it was back home and more spring cleaning style activity, until I had to cook dinner.

Now it’s late and time to relax a bit…

New content today: