Boosted!

It was a cooler, rainy day today. By cooler I mean 24°C. But still over 90% humidity, so it felt a bit stifling. This morning, after my daily run, I wrote the rest of this week’s Irregular Webcomic! annotations.

At lunchtime I had my appointment for my COVID booster third dose. It was at a medical centre I’d never been to before. It was very pleasant and I actually saw the doctor a few minutes early. After waiting the 15 minutes to ensure no reactions, I left and went to a nearby food place for some celebratory fried chicken for lunch. My wife met me with Scully, out on her lunch break walk, and we walked home together.

This afternoon I made a slide presentation for ethics of data engineering, for the university course I’m working on, and uploaded it to the share site for the lecturer. I also played a bit with Mentimeter, which is an app that the university uses for interactive lectures. I made a few slides asking questions about ethics of different data collection examples, which the students can vote on in real time during the lecture, and also post comments for everyone to see, and potentially the lecturer to read out and respond to. It seems to be a neat tool for getting interactive feedback from students during a lecture.

For dinner tonight I cooked some dhal from a kit that my wife got as a Christmas gift. By the time it was ready to eat, I was feeling a little bit nauseated – I think possibly a side effect of the COVID booster. It wasn’t so bad that I couldn’t eat, and the dhal tasted good.

Now I think I’ll relax and take it easy for the rest of the evening.

New content today:

And a crazy busy Monday

I was flat out today. (For anyone who doesn’t know, this is an Australian expression meaning “extremely busy”.)

I got up early, gulped down a breakfast, then went out for my 2.5k run. I wanted to get it done, and recover and cool down before my 10am ethics class. I felt quite good today during the run, despite the humidity being 94% (and the temperature was 23°C), and I was astonished to see that I’d run my second best time, 12:19. So that was a good start to the day.

After stripping off sweat-soaked clothes and having a big cold drink, I cooled down for a bit and checked news and events online. Then I mixed up a sourdough loaf and kneaded it and got it ready for baking later in the day.

By the time I’d done all that, it was time for my ethics classes. The last two lessons on this topic about art took me up to midday, when I had lunch and baked the bread.

Straight after lunch I got stuck into making this new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips that I’d put off for a week. The photography involves clearing off my desk, getting out several boxes of Lego figures and parts, and then spending time building each of the sets, arranging figures, photographing each scene, moving things around, deconstructing sets and then repeating the whole thing with each new theme. While doing the photography, I refer to the dialogue scripts that I’ve written, and often also end up tweaking some of the dialogue as I get new ideas during the process.

Photography was done by late afternoon, and then I had to pack all the Lego away, and start assembling the comics from the photos using Photoshop. I did the new comics for this week, and then started writing annotations and uploading those, ready for updating on the website. I managed to get tonight’s comic done in time – but then I forgot to change the configuration to update to a new comic rather than the reruns that I’d done last week! So for about half an hour the “new” comic was another rerun, until I rewound that update and redid the update with the modified configuration file. Phew!!

I’ve also spent a bunch of in-between time today handling parent requests on Outschool. The extension class for my ethics class (mentioned a few days ago) is now live, which means parents can actually see that I’m offering private extensions for this class – and I got a request from one to set up a time for their kid to do it. So I messaged back and forth a bit, and found a timeslot and set it up, and then I had to modify my art class notes to make some explicit extension.homework questions, and send those off tot the new student.

And… haha… wow. While writing that paragraph, I got another request from a parent to add a new class. Gosh… it’s going bananas! And my calendar is getting very full of classes.

New content today:

A busy writing day

My morning was taken up with chores and doing my run and exercise routine. It filled up things quickly since I didn’t get up until quite late, as I’d had a poor sleep during the night.

This afternoon I worked on finishing off writing that batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips that I’d tried to do last week. I now have the batch of 20 strips written, and I should be able to find time to photograph them tomorrow and put together at least one for Monday night’s update. So the brief hiatus should stay at just one week as new comics come online this week. I also worked on writing some new Darths & Droids strips.

And that was pretty much my day, really. I had another couple of classes tonight on the ethics of art, and I also had a little bit of Outschool admin work to do, dealing with various class changes and requests from parents.

And, um, I made some delicious fried rice for dinner.

New content today:

Houseworky Saturday

After putting it off for a bit too long, I decided the house really needed a clean today. I vacuumed the floors and cleaned the bathroom and shower, and tidied up a few things generally.

My wife went for a walk to the fortnightly local growers’ market and brought home some zucchini flowers. So I planned a dinner to use them while they’re fresh from the grower. I made pasta with a sort of carbonara-inspired sauce, but using the zucchini flowers and no meat. It turned out very nice, but could have used some explosive hits of salt from something like bacon/pancetta. I think next time I’ll try adding some capers.

I worked a bit on Outschool stuff, liaising with parents to schedule new classes and to reschedule existing ones to fit new constraints. I also scheduled two new instances of my course on creative thinking and game design, to start in the week of 6 February. If anyone reading this has kids aged 11-14, check it out!

This afternoon I watched England turn the fifth Ashes Test into yet another debacle in Hobart. Dear oh dear… I hope they can rebuild the team and be a bit more competitive next time.

New content today:

Ticking off tasks

I did a bunch of things today:

Picked up the groceries that I’d ordered online. I had a couple of weird mistake with my order. I’d ordered a tub of ice cream, which was missing. I’d ordered one packet of medium sized garbage bin liners for the kitchen waste bin – these are the right size obviously. But they also included two packets of large size bin liners, for no apparent reason. I have no use for these, but okay.

Prepared class notes for my private science class, to share with the student for Tuesday’s class.

Prepared a new course description on Outschool for an extension class for my ethics class. A parent has requested additional work on each week’s material for her son. I suggested I could send them my class notes with all of the questions, usually including some that I don’t get time to ask during the class, and he could write responses to them, and then we could go through them in a private follow-up class. This sounded suitable to the parent, so I went ahead and wrote and submitted a new class description to Outschool today.

I went through all my backlogged ISO Photography Standards emails. I had to send a bunch of emails and organise some administrative stuff. The next meeting we have is in the last week of February, so it’s coming up relatively soon, and there are some tasks for me to do as the head of the Australian delegation.

Tonight is board games night online with my friends. We’re currently playing King of Tokyo, which I always lose for some reason.

New content today:

Wet, soggy, moist, damp

Today was all about the weather. Since my last blog entry, we’ve had almost 90 mm of rain here in Sydney. It mostly came in two large bursts, about midnight last night, and at lunchtime today. I heard the heavy rain in the night. The midday rain was amazing – it was absolutely torrential for about half an hour, with heavy rumbles of thunder.

I took a photo, but this was after the peak, when the rain had eased off a bit:

A bit of rain

By 2pm or so the rain had eased to a sprinkle, but the weather radar implied that we’d be getting more later, so I went out for my run, and just got wet. I didn’t have time to do it in the morning because I had two ethics classes, at 9am and then 11am. And this evening I have two as well, 6pm and 9pm. The 9am class is a new one, that a parent requested because none of the available time slots were suitable. This is the first time I’ve been doing 4 classes in one day, and it’s a bit exhausting, and doesn’t leave time for much else.

In between the morning classes, I took some time to go down to the garage and clean off some of the mould that I’d found growing down there the other day. Disgusting stuff, but alas inevitable in this sort of tropical humidity we’ve been having for over a month now. I installed the damp removers in the garage cupboards – hopefully that will keep things under control from now on.

This evening my wife found a leech in our living room! A leech! That’s how wet it is! I suspect what happened is that during the walk I took Scully on around 5pm, after all of the rain, she picked up the leech while walking through the wet grass. And then once we got inside it dropped off after getting a taste of her anti-parasite treatment. My wife caught the offending annelid in a tissue and we disposed of it before it could attach to a human.

New content today:

Thinking about art

Today I had a Zoom meeting with the university lecturer I’m working with on this data engineering course, to discuss our progress and plan the next week or two of work. We’re making progress on things and integrating stuff to keep the curriculum flowing from week to week. He also mentioned that a colleague was looking for some proofreading for journal paper submissions, to see if I was interested in a bit more casual work. So after the meeting he contacted her and put me in touch with her. So hopefully this will lead to a bit more paid work for me.

My wife decided it would be a good day to send Scully in for doggie daycare so that she can socialise with other dogs. Scully really enjoys it there. I took her in and she got super excited when she realised where we were going. After dropping her off I went to the hardware store to buy some humidity removing crystals and containers. I found a little mould in our garage storage cupboards yesterday, and given how ridiculously humid the weather has been for the past few weeks, I think it’s necessary to take steps to reduce the humidity in those cupboards.

From the hardware store I drove over to that new bakery at Naremburn that I’ve been enjoying occasionally, to get a pie for lunch. They also had chocolate custard tarts today, so I tried one of those for dessert, and it was really good.

This afternoon I had to work solidly on writing the new ethics class for this week. The topic is art, and it’s really more of a critical thinking topic than an ethics one, although I included a few ethical questions in there. The main thrust of the questions was to get the kids thinking about what art is, how it might be defined, what counts as art and what doesn’t, and why we make art. I just got it finished in time for tonight’s triple classes, which mostly went pretty well. Phew!

New content today:

Ethics of data; and body systems

Today I got in a good chunk of work on the university data engineering course, writing an outline of a presentation on the ethics of data science. I also went over the lecturer’s notes for the lecture on data types and some exercises he’d prepared. We’re having a Zoom meeting tomorrow to discuss progress and plan out the rest of the time between now and the beginning of the course in late February.

The rest of the afternoon I spent assembling slides for tonight’s private Outschool science lesson. Today we’re covering body systems – or at least getting started on it. I suspect I have enough material to last for two weeks.

For dinner tonight I made calzones – spinach and ricotta, with a tomato/onion/garlic sauce to spoon over the top.

New content today:

The dreaded hiatus, and tidying up

After yesterday’s cogitation on the matter, I decided I had to take a brief break from making new Irregular Webcomic! strips, in order to get some higher priority things done. My buffer has run out, and I just didn’t have time today to photograph new comics – and I really want to reserve some time this week to work on other things. So I’ve officially declared a hiatus of at least one week, during which I’ll rerun old comics instead every day.

The work I need to get done, specifically, is to get cracking on the course notes for the university data engineering course that I’m helping my friend to redesign for the upcoming semester. We have a deadline near the end of February, so I need to schedule some time to do the work that the university is paying me for! This means comics have to fall by the wayside for a little bit, but hopefully it shouldn’t be too long. I’ll try and squeeze them in some time next week if I can.

It’s the combination of having to do this, plus restarting my online teaching stuff again this week, plus my wife starting work-from-home again last week due to COVID, that have all added up to a lot of distractions.

And there are of course other things that are usually too trivial to mention here that eat up parts of each day as well. Today I gave myself another COVID haircut, with a bit of help from my wife to tidy and even things up a bit after I’d hacked my own hair enough. And we gave Scully a bath – the first one since her groom just before Christmas.

Oh and we all went on a walk up to a doctor’s office for my wife to get her COVID booster. I’m booked in for mine next week, and I’m just trying desperately not to catch the disease before then. The case numbers are skyrocketing like crazy here in New South Wales at the moment, as omicron is defeating our currently relatively feeble attempts to control the spread.

Our government appears to have just given up trying to slow it down, and rather just hope that the hospital system can withstand the strain. Australia’s infection rate per capita is now above both the UK and the USA, for the first time in the entire pandemic. They said we had to avoid any further lockdowns for the health of “the economy” but apparently they didn’t realise that with so many people off sick the economy was inevitably going to suffer anyway. Supply chains for food have almost ground to a halt, and supermarkets are struggling to keep anything stocked. When I bought groceries last Friday, there were no oranges (which I wanted), and almost no apples, and short supplies of many vegetables. Reports this week, both from my friends who’ve been shopping and the media, say that supermarkets now have virtually no fresh fruit or vegetables left at all, and meat is in short supply. The shortages are expected to last at least another few weeks. We’ll see what’s left when I do the next grocery shop on Friday. Fortunately we still have a COVID lockdown pantry box with non-perishable food that could last us about 3 weeks if we absolutely had to.

New content today:

Plugging away at comics

I’ve been so busy lately that i haven’t been able to get stuck into making a new batc of Irregular Webcomic! strips, and my buffer has run out. I tried to spend today writing a new batch, to take photos on Monday and have the first one at least ready by publication time, but I didn’t manage to complete writing the batch.

I’m still not sure what to do about this. I could make one quick comic for Monday, but then I’m in the same situation for Tuesday. I really need to find the time to complete writing a full batch and get it done together, as it’s a lot more time efficient that way than making a single comic a day. I’m considering declaring a hiatus week to allow me to catch up, but that’s a little unsatisfactory in terms of audience expectation. I’ll see how I go tomorrow and make a decision before publication time.

I was distracted a lot today by the final day of play in the fourth Ashes Test between Australia and England. Australia has already clinched the series 3-0, but England fought hard today and managed to avoid defeat in a nail-biting cliffhanger ending.

It’s also been a little tiring getting back into teaching multiple classes online each day again after the Christmas break. I’ll get used to it quickly, but getting up to speed has been a big change of habits and amount of time to get things done.

New content today: