Golf lesson

This morning I had a golf lesson – my first lesson ever, even though I began playing a bit over a year ago. The lesson was great. The pro loosened up my swing a lot, got me to do a bigger backswing and bigger follow through. It felt a bit out of control, but the greater momentum meant the club path was actually more smooth, and I connected more cleanly more often. And hit the ball way further than I’ve ever hit it before.

We started with a 9 iron, which I could hit maybe 80 metres on a good day. Within 10 minutes he had me hitting it 100… 110… 120… metres or so. I was quite literally hitting the ball and just going, “Oh my god… look at it go…”

Then we moved onto the driver, which was the main reason I booked a lesson. I’ve been unable to hit the ball at all with any consistency with the driver. More often than not I was mis-hitting and skewing the ball sideways, or dribbling it about 20 metres along the grass. I could only hit it cleanly maybe one stroke in 4 or 5, and then it would only go maybe 120 metres.

With my newly modified swing, I was hitting it cleanly 9 times out of 10. And it was flying. We were practising on practice tees directly adjacent to the first tee. The hole is 193 metres long. Two of my practice drives landed on the green. (I wanted to run up and putt them for birdies, but had my lesson to finish!) I did slice a few off to the right, but I know how to correct a slice, and usually my next drive was straight.

After such a good lesson, I wanted to practise a bit more and consolidate what I’d learnt, so I paid for a round of 9 holes and started right away, playing by myself and hitting two golf balls (counting strokes for each ball separately, so it’s effectively two simultaneous rounds). My driving was a lot better than it’s ever been, but I still hit a few stray tee shots. Unfortunately my short game was a bit off today, which held my score back a bit. My previous best two scores on this course were 49 and 53. Today I scored 52 and 53 with my two separate balls. Both could easily have been lower than 50 if I hadn’t had a couple of blowout holes with badly missed chip shots and bunker shots. (I did look for the practice drives I hit earlier onto the first green, but other players had removed the yellow practice balls already.)

There was one incident of note. I teed off on the 4th hole, a shortish par 3 hitting over a creek gully. Both my balls landed just off the left edge of the green, about 5-10 metres from the hole, which was placed near the left edge of the green. But by the time I walked over to putt, a greenkeeper had moved the hole about 15 metres further away to the right, and was plugging up the hole I’d aimed at!! I took this photo as soon as I’d walked over and around the back of the green (so it’s looking back towards the tee, where the guy in the white shirt is standing in the background). You can see my two golf balls in the foreground, and where the hole was when I teed off:

Hole 4, Lane Cove

My friend who started me in golf tells me that moving the hole while you’re playing it is outrageous and the greenkeeper should have waited for me to finish putting before starting work on it. But this is a cheap and very casual suburban course, not a fancy expensive one, so I guess the staff are much more relaxed about everything. Oh well. It maybe cost me an extra stroke on each ball having to putt that greater distance, but who knows.

I’m still pleased that my lesson was so productive, and am looking forward to playing again soon!

Tonight (as I write this) is an impromptu online games night, but before that I went out for dinner with my wife and Scully. We went to our favourite seafood restaurant. They had a dessert special…

Orange frangipane tart with cherries and chocolate mousse

It’s an orange frangipane tart with cherries and chocolate mousse, and some almond praline. This is not the fanciest dessert I’ve ever had, but I’m a huge fan of cherries and chocolate together, and this was definitely one of the most delicious desserts I’ve ever had. It was ridiculously good.

New content today:

Lots of vegetables

Because of my scheduled golf lesson tomorrow morning, I moved grocery shopping to from Friday to Thursday and did it this morning. I bought a bunch of different vegetables for the week ahead: cauliflower, zucchini, potatoes, red capsicum (or pepper to non-Australians), green beans, and mushrooms. That should be enough to mix and match for a week’s meals, when combined with pasta, rice, lentils, and other stuff from the pantry.

When I got home I discovered we still have broccoli that I bought last week, as well as the Brussels sprouts that I knew we had. I cooked the sprouts for dinner tonight with garlic and chilli and miso paste, and we had that as a side to some hemp burger patties. Basically, we’re loaded with vegetables.

Last night I started watching a new movie on Netflix, #Alive. I enjoyed Train to Busan, so another Korean zombie movie seemed like a good idea. I stopped halfway through to go to bed at a reasonable time and will watch the rest in a day or so. I’m enjoying it so far. It even seems like it could be set in same time/events as Train to Busan. I wonder if they’re meant to be part of the same continuity.

I’ve also just watched the second last episode of The Queen’s Gambit, which has been enthralling. I’m looking forward to the final episode.

In other news, the Australian Museum had a ceremony today before reopening on Saturday after a long closure for extensive renovations. This has always been my favourite museum in Sydney, and I’m very excited to go visit soon and see what it looks like now. I’ll have to make a trip some day before school ends for the year and it gets overrun with students every day.

New content today:

Gumming up the work

I had my second last Ethics class for the year today. About half the students were missing as they were attending an orientation day at a local high school, where they’ll be starting in Year 7 next year at the end of the summer holidays around the end of January. So it was a more manageable number of kids, but unfortunately the two main disruptors were still there, and I needed to assert control very firmly a few times.

And then near the end of the lesson, I noticed one of them was chewing gum! This was a serious offence when I was in school, and I assumed it’s still so now. I made him wrap it in paper so it wouldn’t stick to anything and then discard it. And I told him I’d be reporting this to his regular classroom teacher, which I did right after the lesson finished. The teacher assured me he’d take action to deal with this infraction.

It’s sad when the end of a school year comes and I know I’ll never see that class of kids again, but honestly this year has contained the worst couple of students I’ve seen in four years of teaching this course, and I won’t miss those ones. I look forward to having a new class next year, and from reports from the Year 5 teachers I think it should be a much better behaved group.

The rest of the day I worked on comics, which is kind of boring to report because I don’t want to reveal anything ahead of publication, and I spend quite a few days doing this.

In the afternoon I took Scully for a walk down to Berry Island, which isn’t really an island any more – it’s joined to the harbour shore by a low isthmus of grass that is a nice park to let dogs run around on. It’s a nice spot, by the water, with views of the city across the harbour, and a short enough but decent walk from home. Walking uphill back home is a good stretch of the legs, both for me and Scully. And the good thing is we don’t need to cross any streets, and the traffic is very light, so I can let Scully walk off-lead almost all the way home.

Looks like the Irregular Webcomic! cron job worked fine tonight, on a Wednesday. Let’s see if it fails again on Tuesday next week.

New content today:

Steeling myself

Remember back in May when I bought myself a new set of kitchen knives? Well, since then I’ve learnt a bit about sharpening and honing knives, which I previously didn’t know. Sharpening is when you grind metal off the knife blade to produce a sharp edge. But honing is a completely different thing.

When a knife is used, the sharp edge tends to bend and fold over sideways, due to pressure on things you’re cutting and on the cutting board. This doesn’t make the edge blunt exactly, but it does make it harder to cut, because the sharp edge is no longer pointing straight down as you cut with downwards force. Honing is the process of straightening the bent edge, so making it easier to cut again. Proper knife care is to hone the edge frequently—every week, or even every time you use the knife—but only sharpen it a few times a year. To hone a knife, you need a honing steel. (And I note that Wikipedia article says that “honing” is a misnomer, borrowed from some other industrial process that does remove material from an edge – yeesh, this terminology is even more pedantic than I thought two minutes ago.)

Hmmm… Further reading of the Wikipedia article tells me that perhaps I’ve wasted my money, as modern kitchen knives tend to be harder and not respond to honing steels, but rather need an abrasive “steel” that actually does grind the edge down a little. Grrr.

I wish the Internet would make up its mind and not provide conflicting/outdated/overly-pedantic-but-incorrect advice.

Anyway, in other news I booked myself a golf lesson today, for Friday morning. I’ve never had a lesson up to now, but I feel like I’m really not making any progress with hitting a driver, and need some help. So we’ll see if a golf pro can straighten out my technique in half an hour enough that I can go practise on my own and see some improvement.

In other other news, for some reason Irregular Webcomic! failed to update automatically again today, after also failing last Tuesday. I have it set up as a cron job and I know when it should run, and it failed two Tuesdays in a row. But it worked every other day of the week—at the expected time (so no daylight saving issue)—and all my other comics updated at the same time as normal. So cron seems to have done its thing correctly. I can’t imagine why cron would fail to run one specific job only on a Tuesday. And in fact I ran the script manually as soon as I realised the automatic cron job had failed, and it ran fine. So the script itself shouldn’t have failed.

Unfortunately I don’t have a way to distinguish the cases [cron failed to run the script] and [cron ran the script but the script failed]. I might have to add some logging calls to the script to see if it runs properly on Tuesday next week. This is very mysterious.

New content today:

New card stock

Monday – this morning I spent some time looking after details of my Etsy store. I had to reorder stock for one of my most popular greeting cards since they sold out at the market I did a week ago. While doing that, I decided to prepare two other photos for printing on greeting cards and order some stock of those as well. The order is at the printer and I should get the cards in a week or so.

I also set up a new photo available as a matted print (within Australia) – the same sea lion photo that I’d had to restock as a greeting card. The animal photos are definitely more popular than the landscapes, and I’m running out of stock of those faster.

I also spent some time today reprocessing a bunch of old photos from scans of film that I took 20 yers ago. And some time writing comics. I basically stayed in most fo the day because it was rainy, although it stopped in the afternoon when I took Scully to the dog park for a bit.

New content today:

My personal summer

Today I began my usual summer ritual of switching to cold showers. Yesterday I had my last warm shower for the next few months, barring unusual circumstances. I do this every year, usually some time in November, switching to cold showers for the summer. I usually reach the end of March before going back to warm showers; sometimes a week or two into April, depending on the weather as it cools down into autumn.

The weather here has really started to warm up in the past week or so. More than that, it’s gotten humid. Last year it didn’t really get humid until about February – the early summer was very hot and very dry, which of course led to those awful fires we had. But the switch to a La Niña pattern in the Pacific has brought a cooler, moister trend to eastern Australia. So hopefully a lot milder fire season, although the problem this summer may be storms and flooding.

Today was a relaxing Sunday mostly. My wife and I took Scully on a long walk this morning before it got too hot. We stopped at the bakery to buy some bread, getting a white sourdough load, and also a fig and walnut sourdough loaf for a sweet treat. My wife wanted to get some challah, but I remembered when we arrived and didn’t see any that they only bake that late in the morning, so it’s only available after about 11 am. So I chose the fig and walnut loaf instead.

Both loaves were still hot from the oven, and even after walking all the way home (over 2 kilometres), the fig and walnut loaf was still deliciously warm as we cut it open and had some simply spread with melty butter.

My wife and I played a couple of games of Codenames Duet, continuing our campaign after a bit of a break. We successfully completed the Bogota city game, but failed with a first attempt at Dubai.

And finally this afternoon we had Luna from next door over to play with Scully for a while. It’s a bit weird having another dog around. Even though they look somewhat similar, I feel like Scully is very familiar and I know her personality very well, and she’s almost like a little person. Whereas Luna just feels like a dog and is somewhat unpredictable. She’s also very face-licky – you need to be on your guard unless you suddenly want Luna to run up and lick you all over the face. Scully doesn’t do that, thankfully!

New content today:

Face to face gaming

At last night’s games night we had an attendance of five, plus the two daughters of the host (ages about 8 and 10). They joined us for a game of Sushi Go Party!, followed by Mysterium.

After they went to bed, we continued with a game of Tournament at Avalon, which is described as a “chaotic trick-taking game” – which is about right. It’s fairly complex and took us a lot longer to play than I’d expected at the beginning.

It was good meeting friends again for the first time in eight months or so, having some pizza, and playing some games while we chatted about what we’ve all been up to.

Today I dedicated to housework and writing a few comics. Not really much to report there.

Oh, I had a weird dream: that shopping centres everywhere were advertising this revolutionary new change to make it easier to navigate large complexes. They said they recognised how difficult it was for new customers to find their way around in shopping centres, and this change would make it incredibly easy. The entire change was: Instead of calling them “levels” or “floors”, they would now be called “stacks”. So instead of needing to go to Level 3 to find a shop, you would now got to Stack 3. All the signs saying “Ground Level” or Level 1″ were changed to read “Ground Stack” or “Stack 1”, and so on.

Yeah, amazing, I know.

New content today:

Cyberpunking

Further to yesterday’s mention of Cyberpunk 2020, I had an idea for a game. Use the world setting as given in Cyberpunk 2020, but have technologies that exist in the real world but which don’t exist in CP2020 appear as newly emerging tech within the game.

For example, CP2020 basically has virtually no concept of wireless networking. To access a network you have to physically plug into a connected system. So imagine some megacorp within the game has just invented WiFi. How will this shake up the world? The PCs might be hired to steal the technology, or prevent it from being monopolised, or something.

Also further on gaming, tonight is the first face-to-face meeting of my fortnightly gaming group since March. We decided that with COVID apparently well under control here in New South Wales, we would start up meeting in person again. (We just reached the milestone of 14 days in a row with zero new cases, apart from residents newly arrived from overseas and already in quarantine.) So I’m writing and scheduling this post early before I head over. Should be fun!

New content today:

Secret project day

I spent most of today working on a secret project, which I won’t be revealing until some time next year. So there’s not much I can go into about that.

Um. I didn’t do much else, except go out for a pie for lunch, and take Scully to the dog park. It was warm today, but not too hot. Tomorrow is forecast to be hot again. I think we’re really past the chilly weather and into a summer pattern now.

Oh! I also grabbed a bunch of roleplaying books off Humble Bundle today – PDFs of the old Cyberpunk 2020 game by R. Talsorian Games. Published in 1990 (second edition of a 1988 game named just Cyberpunk), it was amusing going through the PDFs and seeing what they predicted that life would be like in the year 2020. Here’s a piece of art showing a guy buying some pirated software off a street hustler with a trench coat full of hot CDs:

I sure know I’d be out on the streets doing this if I wasn’t such an upstanding citizen.

New content today:

Super Fun Hyper Golf Day!

I got up at 6:30 this morning, when my wife took Scully out for her morning walk, and I headed to the local golf course. I haven’t played at a full sized course for a couple of months, and I was keen to try out my driving after hitting a bucket of balls at the driving range last week.

Unfortunately, my driving was awful. I played two balls, hitting them one after another and keeping the scores separate. Both my drives off the first tee skewed off short and far to the right. From the second tee they both went straightish, but dribbled along the grass only about 20 metres. And so it went… another two terrible drives on hole 5, hole 7, and hole 8. I did hit one on hole 7 cleanly, but managed to hit a tree about 40 metres away, which stopped it dead. (Holes 3, 4, and 6 are short and I use various irons for those instead of a driver.)

And so I got to hole 9, not having hit a good drive all morning. The first again skewed right and short. But the second connected cleanly and soared off into the distance, straight down the fairway. It was beautiful to see! I really think I need to take some lessons or something to improve my driving.

However.

Everything other than the driver I was hitting nicely and fairly consistently, with only 2 or 3 bad shots. I made a lot of second shots with the 3 iron, smashing them down the fairway from the awful position after a bad drive. Once I got within 100 metres or so of the hole, I was hitting approach shots and pitches nicely.

Here’s where my two approach shots for hole 5 landed:

Lane Cove hole 5 approach shots

The more distant ball I chipped from off the green, about 20 metres away. The closer ball… I hit with an 8 iron from 90 metres away. I was watching it fly through the air, land just before the green, bounce onto the green and roll… towards the hole… I was willing it to go in, but you can see where it stopped. Let’s just have a closer look!

Lane Cove hole 5 approach shots

Wow. Clearly one of the best shots I’ve ever played.

And… my putting was probably the best day I’ve ever had. I was sinking nearly everything from distances up to about 1.5 metres. All in all, this more than made up for the horrendous driving. My previous best score for this 9 hole course was 55 strokes. Today with my two balls I scored 53, and 49. I am stoked with this performance, and if only I can get the driving under control I might actually start getting even lower scores.

I was done by 8:30, and headed home. I mostly worked on comics, but also spent some time exploring music on YouTube and iTunes, finding weird cover versions of songs I like and trying them to see how good they were.

For lunch I walked up to the fish & chip shop. But rather than get fish & chips, today I decided to try something different, and went for the barbecued fish burger. I’d like to say it was good, but I was a bit disappointed, and I don’t think I’ll get that again.

New content today: