Scully games

It’s been a bit of a write-off of a week, with my wife working from home and Scully being home too, which means a lot of distractions throughout the day.

Scully has this game that she and I play every evening before we retire for the night. She’s a small poodle, and although we initially vowed she wouldn’t sleep on the bed with us, nowadays she does. She’s good, staying at the foot of the bed, and honestly it’s better than our previous arrangement where she slept in a crate next to the bed, and would scratch to get out at first light, waking us up before we were ready. Now she sleeps as long as we do.

Anyway, normal procedure is that Scully gets tired in the evening, and around 9pm or so she actually gets up and wanders into the bedroom and sits to wait to be lifted into the bed. (We don’t let her jump on or off anything – she’s trained to sit to ask permission to be lifted up.) So we pop her on the bed and she snoozes for a bit until we’re ready to go to bed.

Now, on the bed we have a plush toy puppy that she likes – it’s been one of her favourite toys since she was a puppy herself. But when she falls asleep, it’s usually a little bit away from the puppy. When I come in, before going to bed myself, I take her downstairs to the grass for a final toilet. Scully can hear me getting her lead and my keys ready, and when I go into the bedroom and move to put the lead on her, she will often make a sudden lunge for her puppy and clamp it in her jaws, so that when I lift her up to take her out, she has the puppy firmly gripped in her mouth.

Every evening I try to circumvent this by stealth, surprise, or quick action, and she tries to get past me and get the puppy. She wins most of the time, but sometimes I manage to get her up into my arms before she can reach the puppy. And every evening my wife watches this battle of wits and laughs every time Scully beats me.

Anyway, today I did a large grocery shop – the first shopping I’ve done in 8 days. I bought a lot of food… honestly I think the amount of food I bought could probably last me and my wife for well over a week. I guess we’ll see.

Later this afternoon I took a walk for some exercise. Passing through a nearby park, I saw that the children’s play equipment had all been taped off.

Playground closed due to COVID-19

A sign said that the playground equipment was closed until further notice due to COVD-19.

Playground closed due to COVID-19

Times they are a-changin’.

New content today:

Video walk experiment

Today I thought I’d try making a video of part of the walk I did for exercise, in this time of social distancing when we’re not supposed to leave home for anything but essential activities (of which exercise is counted as one).

I took the video using my phone, mounted on a small handheld steadicam gadget that I got from a Kickstarter a few years ago. It helps smooth out the shakiness of walking while holding the phone, but it’s not perfect. I didn’t speak while walking, but added some comments using a microphone once I got home.

And here’s the walk route, marked on a map of Wollstonecraft, Sydney:

Hopefully this will be a nice virtual walk for some of you who might not have had much chance to get out and about recently.

New content today:

Baking damper: attempt 2

We were out of bread today after eating all the damper I made three days ago. Restricting our grocery shopping outings to once a week, I didn’t want to buy bread today, so I made another damper. This time I used soda water instead of beer, and the recipe I looked up pointed out that you don’t want to knead the dough, because that drives the air out of it. Last time the beer damper recipe said to knead the dough lightly.

So today I mixed the dough roughly and didn’t knead it at all. And sprinkled a bit of flour on top before baking. And here’s the result!

Damper, version 2

It turned out well – better than the last one. Really delicious, in fact. My wife actually said she didn’t want us to buy bread ever again. Of course that relies on me making bread whenever she wants it…

I did have to go out today though, to take my wife’s 4G box that her office gave her to use for connectivity and get it repaired, after the trouble she had yesterday. The guy at the mobile shop poked a tray through the door and told me to put the box on it, then locked the door behind him, with me waiting on the outside while he checked it out. Ten minutes later he came back and told me through the glass that it was working, and had me check by connecting to the WiFi with my phone. Then he unlocked the door and handed it back to me, from the tray. Getting it home, it did work again, so that’s good.

I really don’t know what happened with the rest of the day!

New content today:

Working from home means less work

My wife had a hard morning, with her work-from-home setup having technical issues for several hours, resulting in a lot of frustration and lost time, which spilled over to me not being able to concentrate on much. I worked on some more Darths & Droids comics, but didn’t get as much done as I would have hoped.

I took Scully for a walk. While letting her run up and down the grassy area across the street, one of our neighbours walked past, and we had a semi-shouted conversation from several metres apart. He said he’d gone down to the golf course this morning, only to find a big “closed” sign there. All golf courses across Australia have been closed from midnight last night, as part of the country’s coronavirus suppression strategy.

The restrictions put in place here are pretty limiting. It’s basically nobody is allowed to leave their home except for (1) buying essential supplies, (2) medical or safety reasons, (3) to go to work if unable to work from home, and (4) for exercise. And a few other sensible things like children visiting separated parents which don’t apply to me. And there are severe penalties for violators – fines up to $11,000 and up to 6 months in prison. Police have been patrolling areas such as beaches and have been handing out (lesser level) fines to several people today. So this is not an order to be messed with for frivolous reasons.

So I’ve been getting out for walks around the neighbourhood for exercise, both for me and Scully. But apart from that it’s been confinement, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

New content today:

A new week of work from home

The morning began with a dash to my wife’s work to retrieve her office chair. After last week working from home, she realised that using a dining table chair wasn’t good for her posture, so we had to go in and get the office chair. The rain complicated things slightly, as did the fact that we couldn’t fit the chair in the car without leaving a passenger out, so she had to walk home with Scully.

Once home, I dedicated the day to writing and making new Darths & Droids comic. And that was about it, really. I made pasta for dinner, wth pumpkin and walnuts… that was good.

New content today:

More walking and baking

For today’s exercise, my wife and I took Scully on a walk down to the local golf course, and then through a bushwalk along Gore Creek.

Scully at Gore Creek

It leads to Bob Campbell Oval, a cricket/soccer field near the water.

Scully at Bob Campbell Oval

From here you have to climb The Stairs of Cirith Ungol to get back to my place.

Scully on the Stairs of Cirith Ungol

At home, we were out of bread. Rather than go shopping, I made some damper! This is beer damper, made with 3 cups of self raising flour, a bottle of beer, a pinch of salt… and that’s it! Mix and bake for 30 minutes at 190°C. It turned out really nice.

Beer Damper

This afternoon I played some games with my wife. We played Azul.

Azul

And then Walking in Burano.

Walking in Burano.

New content today:

Patricia Trail and banana bread

It’s Saturday, so although she’s been working from home all week, today my wife had some spare time during the day. So we took a bit of a trip, choosing something to do that wouldn’t involve encountering any people, to respect the coronavirus distancing rules.

I wanted to find somewhere where we could do a bit of walking through some bushland, with Scully. Unfortunately for this plan, dogs are forbidden from National Parks. However, I found that there are some Regional Parks which allow dogs, and there are a few within Sydney. So we set out for the Berowra Valley Regional Park, and in particular the area accessed from the northern end of the suburb of Cherrybrook. Here there is a walking track through the park where dogs are allowed.

Scully on Patricia Trail

The track led through thickly grown forest and undergrowth, but the path was easy enough to follow. Although it was a bit muddy in places from the recent rain this week, and there was also a bit of grass growing on the path.

Scully on Patricia Trail

After completing the track, we did a loop back to where we’d parked the car, walking along the quiet suburban streets. We only saw a few people out and about – it was a lot quieter than the area where we live.

Back home I decided to bake some banana bread.

Home made banana bread

We don’t do a lot of baking, but with the purchasing of a few weeks of non-perishable foodstuffs we suddenly have plenty of flour in the house, so I figured I’d make use of a couple of old bananas. I used a simple recipe found online.

Home made banana bread

It turned out fairly good. Nice flavour, maybe a little denser than commercially produced banana bread. My wife had a slice with yoghurt and honey on top.

Home made banana bread

New content today:

Virtual walking

Today was the end of the working from home week for my wife. She said the week had gone quickly, being hectic with plenty to do.

This morning I finished off the work on the new 100 Proofs That the Earth is a Globe entry, and posted it. Then I went for another long walk to get out in the fresh air and get some exercise.

Berry Island lookout

I went down to Berry Island, which is a tied island in Sydney Harbour. I took a lot of photos on this walk, and rather than upload everything to Flickr and format them here into this entry, I’m just going to link to this Imgur album, which has plenty of photos with detailed commentary.

Tonight we were supposed to have our fortnightly games night gathering, but with the coronavirus social distancing we’ve converted to a virtual games night, using the Board Game Arena online platform for playing board games. I’m actually in the middle of playing games with my friends as I type, in combination with a Discord voice chat, and it’s working really well. So far we’ve played 6 Nimmt, Perudo, Colt Express, and Niagara.

New content today:

Proof writing

I spent most of today writing the next entry for 100 Proofs That The Earth is a Globe. I’ve almost finished it, but I won’t be able to post it tonight, so it’ll go up tomorrow.

The other big news is that today is Scully’s second birthday!

Scully's 2nd birthday

She got a cool new toy from Luna (the poodle next door) – a combo plush/rubber duck, and she had fun all day chewing it into little pieces…

I also did a big grocery shop today. We’re converting from 3 or 4 shops a week to try and stick to just one, as part of social distancing to avoid spreading/catching coronavirus. The supermarket was not busy, but they were still out of toilet paper and flour. I would like to get some breadmaking flour, to try some bread baking at home, but oh well. Maybe next time. We have plenty of everything else we need.

New content today:

Report writing

I had some boring work and work-like tasks today. Firstly I had to contact the gas company about our latest gas bill, which arrived yesterday. Normally the bills are around $100, but this one was almost $800. I checked previous bills, which listed the meter readings for our gas hot water meter.

  • Third previous bill: start 3874.04, end 3969.92, units used: 95.88
  • Second previous bill: start 3969.92, end 4175.98, units used: 206.06
  • Previous bill: start 170, end 198.22, units used: 28.22
  • This bill: start 171, end 4480.96, units used: 4309.96

🤔

It took me a little while to get through the phone menu system and talk to a person at the gas company. I explained there was an error in the bill, and asked them to look at the hot water meter readings for the past four bills. The woman on the other end put me on hold for a minute, then came back. “Oh yes, I can see what the problem is! We’ll cancel your bill, correct the error, and issue a new bill.” So hopefully the replacement bill will be correct. It may be slightly larger than normal since we were most likely undercharged in the last bill, although not by a huge amount.

The next bureaucracy I had to deal with was registering for the Australian Government’s announced coronavirus financial aid, which I believe covers me because I’ve previously registered as a self-employed person and I’m losing income due to my market stalls being cancelled. There are some eligibility criteria to be worked through, but I think I should be eligible. The main thing was registering an “intent to claim” as soon as possible, so that payments can be backdated once the whole procedure (which could take weeks given the load on Australia’s welfare system) is worked through. I tried to do this yesterday, but the phone line just hung up on me when I rang. Today they released an online registration portal, and I managed to use that okay.

And then I got stuck into some really juicy work – writing my report on the ISO photography standards meeting ostensibly held in Yokohama that I attended by videoconference last month. I have to submit a report to Standards Australia, summarising all the key technical discussions and items of interest to the Australian photographic community. One main one is that we’re planning to host a meeting in February 2021 in Sydney. Assuming we’re back to physical meetings by then…

The next scheduled meeting is in New York City in June, but that’s already been converted to another virtual online meeting. I was planning to travel to New York in June for this meeting, but that’s now not going to happen. Instead I’ll have to stay awake for a 9am-6pm meeting held in New York’s time zone – which equates to 11pm to 8am in Sydney. As someone who is decidedly not a night owl, that is pretty much the absolute worst possible timing for me. Roughly 10:30pm to 6:30am is my normal sleep cycle. So it’ll be pretty rough.

Anyway, I trawled through my meeting notes, the offical minutes, and all of the presentations given during the Yokohama meeting, and assembled my report, which took up most of the rest of the day.

New content today: