Instant noodles

Today was mostly a chore day. I did the weekly grocery shopping. Most weeks recently I’ve been getting falafels and flatbread from the supermarket to make falafel wraps for lunch, and I put tahini, sliced tomato, and chilli sauce on them. But today I decided I’d try something different for the next week, and make falafel salads, with lettuce and cucumber and other fresh stuff instead of the flatbread. And also in the fruit & veg section I saw pomegranates and thought why not? So maybe I’ll throw some of that in too.

And I found some fresh mozzarella, packaged in whey. I got some to try making a Margherita pizza in a few days.

A bit later I went to a new Asian supermarket that opened nearby recently. It’s really good! It’s mostly Japanese products, but there was also stuff a mix of other things. I found the Singaporean brand of instant noodles that make an absolutely amazing laksa. I’d previously got these from my regular supermarket, but they’ve stopped stocking it. Not only did they have the laksa version, they had a couple of other flavours I hadn’t seen before!

La Mian noodles

Black pepper crab and chilli crab! And they’re labelled “New! Must try!” Wow, I had to try these, so I got one of each.

At home I did a spring clean of the bathroom, emptying out the cabinets and going through all the items, cleaning off dust, throwing out old stuff, cleaning the cabinet interiors, and putting useful stuff back in neatly. I discovered that the toothpaste we get stands upright on the big flat lid! We’ve always stored toothpaste tubes lying on their side, but I tried this to save space, and it works beautifully! Now I’m wondering if everyone else has been doing this for years and I’ve just never thought of it…

New content today:

Special fancy lunch day

The special occasion mentioned yesterday is that today is my wife’s birthday. She took the day off work and we had lunch at a fancy restaurant booked. The restaurant was in Woolloomooloo, which is a walkable distance from the centre of the city, but we needed to get over there first. Since Scully can’t go on trains, we went down to the nearest ferry wharf (since dogs are allowed on ferries).

Scully at Greenwich Pt Wharf

The ferry took us across the harbour towards the city.

Heading into the city

The ferry terminal is in Circular Quay, between the Bridge and the Opera House (around to the right behind the Bridge in this next photo).

Approaching Circular Quay

From the ferry terminal we walked past the State Library of New South Wales.

State Library of NSW

Into The Domain, a large park. Scully ran around on the grass a bit.

Scully in The Domain

We walked past the Art Gallery of New South Wales and across into Woolloomooloo. This was the view form our restaurant table:

View from Otto

The food was amazing. This is my appetiser, pepper crusted hiramasa kingfish with almonds, capers, cavalo nero, and parmesan (I think) tuile.

Hiramasa kingfish

And my main dish, black and white cappellacci pasta filled with spanner crab and mascarpone, in a sweet corn sauce.

Pasta filled with crab and mascarpone

This restaurant is the sort of place where people arrive in large boats, moor on the wharf adjacent, and hop out to have lunch – which is exactly what we saw one group do. It’s a mix of people with a lot of money, and people like us who come here maybe once every 3 or 4 years for a special occasion. Here’s Scully mixing with the rich and influential:

Scully at Otto

They gave us a surprise complimentary dessert for my wife’s birthday – a chocolate mousse filled with stewed apple. And I ordered the regular chocolate mousse from the menu:

Chocolate mousse

Seriously, look at that. It comes with olive oil ice cream, chocolate nut cookie crumble, and that super thin crispy tuile on top. It was absolutely delicious too (as was all the food).

After this extravagant lunch, we walked back to the ferry terminal and caught the ferry home. Scully was worn out from the excitement of the day!

Scully is dead tired

It was a really pleasant way to spend a day. And we’re so full of good food that we’ve just had a light snack for dinner.

New content today:

Comics & Pizza

Today was knuckling down to the business of assembling Irregular Webcomic! strips out of all the photos I took yesterday. I had 24 strips to make, and powered through them starting as soon as my wife left for work in the morning, and finishing a bit after lunch. That’s a really fast pace, as I was pushing myself to complete the task before having to go pick up Scully for the afternoon.

As it turned out, Scully stayed at work for longer because not one, but two of my wife’s workmates also brought their dogs in today, so there were three of them at the office!

Workplace Wellbeing Officers on duty

That’s Scully, Ted, and Leo, from left to right. They played hard in the office all day, and Scully was dead tired by the time I got her home. Which is good!

For dinner tonight I made pizza. This time I tried about 1/4 wholemeal flour in the dough, as requested by my wife. It made the dough tougher to knead, but the final result turned out pretty well.

Tomorrow… is a special day and I have some very cool stuff planned. Which you’ll hear about tomorrow.

New content today:

IWC photography day

This morning was dedicated to shooting photos for the new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips that I finished writing yesterday. Or rather, “finished” writing, as today while looking at the scripts to figure out how to set up the photos for each panel, I revised several of the scripts.

Photos done, I picked up Scully from my wife’s work at lunchtime, and brought her home via a park where she did some ball chasing. At home I sorted through a pile of documents and receipts, scanning various things that needed to be kept and then tossing everything out. I also baked some sourdough bread, which I’d started yesterday. And then took Scully to the regular 4pm dog park for some more exercise.

That feels like not much when I describe it, but it was a pretty busy day.

New content today:

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: