Election results and more rain

Yesterday’s election has resulted in a change of government here in Australia. The conservative Liberal Party government has been replaced by a progressive Labor Party government. It’s not fully clear yet if they’ll have a majority of seats in Parliament or will need to rely on support from the crossbench, but it’s pretty much settled that Labor will form either a majority or minority government and Anthony Albanese will be the incoming Prime Minister.

The result in my own electorate of North Sydney is very interesting, and reflects a sea change of voter opinion across many inner city electorates across the country. North Sydney has been a very safe Liberal seat, but the sitting member was ousted by an independent candidate. This is a pattern repeated in several other electorates in Sydney and other cities – female independents running on a platform of addressing climate change, unseating sitting members of a government that has been lagging badly behind the rest of the world on climate change policies. We will have a record number of independents in the new Parliament, with at least five newly elected ones joining the six who were previously there. Labor plans to address climate change, but if they need the support of these new independents to pass legislation, then they will be able to hold out for stronger action.

This is a significant change in the direction Australia has been heading. We’ve been a global laggard for the past decade due to the entrenched conservative government. Hopefully this turns a corner and we’ll start to see more responsible climate policies in the near future.

Speaking of climate, today was again miserably wet. The rainfall is forecast to last all week, in yet another bout of depressing wet weather. You can see the effects of this prolonged rainy weather in various minor news stories that keep popping up. There are so many stories about people battling mould in their homes, simply unable to to get the humidity low enough to prevent it. And today on the evening news there was a story about sports clubs facing pressure to change their membership fee rules, because of so many repeated cancellations of sporting events due to bad weather. Normally you pay a fee and there’s no refund if an event is cancelled due to weather. But many players and parents are getting increasingly annoyed at having paid fees while getting no sport at all for weeks and weeks on end.

The Bureau of Meteorology issued another mid-range forecast today, stating that we can expect higher than average rainfall to continue throughout winter (i.e. the next three months). Everyone you talk to here is is just sick of the rain and will tell you repeatedly how awful it is. There are ridiculous numbers of slugs crawling all over everything – you need to pay careful attention whenever you go out for a walk, to avoid stepping on the slugs that litter all of the footpaths.

Today I spent time doing another academic paper proofreading job. I wanted to try and finish it today, because I have lots of other work to go on with this week. Fortunately it was a conference paper and not a journal paper, so it was shorter than the previous ones I’ve done, and I managed to complete it today. I had time to take Scully for a walk, and to cook a miso-glazed baked cauliflower for dinner – one of our favourite recipes, though it takes a bit of effort.

New content today:

Gaming and Voting

Friday was wet and cold and miserable, weather-wise. After enjoying a huge 4 days without rain, we’re now in for a solid week of forecast rain. I’m pretty sure we’ve now reached the point where there’s been more rainfall in 2022 (so far!) than in any (full) year since 1996. And we’re still less than 5 months into the year. I know I keep going on about it, but it’s truly a ridiculous amount of rain we’ve had in the past few months.

And it was also freezing cold all day. The temperature never reached as high as 15°C, making it the coldest day of the year so far. Definitely an early taste of winter.

Friday evening I went to a friend’s place for board games night. My wife took Scully and the car to go visit her mother for the evening, so I took a train over.

We played a case from MicroMacro: Crime City while waiting for the sixth person to arrive. This is a very cool game that plays like a Where’s Wally? crime investigation. There’s a huge poster with an isometric drawing of dozens of city blocks, populated with thousands of tiny people. You take a set of clue cards and have to spot various things in the drawing to advance the investigation, eventually building up a sequence of events that explains a crime, implicates a suspect, and provides motive and means. It took us about 20 minutes working together peering across the map, and was a lot of fun.

After this we played a six-player round of Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest. Then we split into two groups of three, to play Dune Imperium and Azul: Queen’s Garden (the one I played). This is somewhat like its three predecessor games in the Azul series, but more different than any of the previous iterations, and considerably more complex. It’s the game I tried to buy last week. Now I’ve played it, I definitely want to get a copy. Following this, our subgroup of three played a game of Draftosaurus while the others finished Dune. To finish up we played a six-player game of Skull.

One of the guys gave me a lift home, so that was good – I didn’t have to catch a train around 11pm.

Today was election day, with Australia voting for the next federal government. We got up early and went to the nearest polling station, arriving soon after it opened at 8am. There was hardly any queue, maybe ten people ahead of us when we arrived.

As we waited, a guy in the queue right in front of us was hassling the staff about masks. They were handing out masks and asking everyone to wear one, but not forcing them to. And this guy was putting on a rant about how if it wasn’t compulsory he wasn’t going to do it, how he was here to “exercise his democratic right” and if the democratically elected government didn’t have a law requiring him to wear a mask then he wouldn’t.

He asked the polling booth volunteer if he had to and she started saying, “I’ve been told…” and he interrupted her with, “So you just do whatever someone tells you? Is that what you think democracy is?” I got so annoyed that I actually told him to shut up and stop hassling the staff. There should have been a security bouncer there to back her up, but this poor woman was all alone. And it probably didn’t help that she looked Indian/Sri Lankan. I bet the guy wouldn’t have been so vocal if it was a white male.

Voting done, we returned home to huddle inside out of the cold and rain all day. We only ventured out again at dinner time to go get some French galettes and crepes for dinner from a French restaurant. It’s a good place to go in cold and rainy weather, because their “outdoor” tables where we can sit with Scully are actually inside an arcade, so very well sheltered.

And now it’s time to settle in for the vote counting and watch the unfolding of how we’ll be governed fr the next three years…

New content today:

Online grocery shopping shenanigans

This morning I was determined to do my online grocery shopping order for pickup on Friday, because for the past two weeks Ive been too busy and forgot to do it in time, and ended up having to go and do all of the shopping manually, walking around the entire supermarket to grab stuff, which takes significantly longer.

I normally like to pick up between 7-8am on Friday, but when I went to select a pick-up time, I saw that slot wasn’t available, and in fact they had nothing before 2pm. So I shrugged and selected 2-3pm.

Then at 2pm today I got a text message on my phone saying my order was ready to pick up! I’d accidentally selected today instead of Friday. I couldn’t go get it today, as I had things to do, and I was looking after Scully as well, so I couldn’t go into the supermarket with her. So I had to phone the supermarket and say I’d accidentally selected the wrong day, and could I please pick up my groceries tomorrow instead. They were very understanding and helpful and said that would be fine (I guess they get this problem a lot). The woman asked me what time tomorrow I’d like. I should have said 7am… but wanting to cause as little fuss as possible I just said “the same time, 2pm will be fine”.

Then on the way home from university this evening I suddenly realised I can’t pick it up at 2pm tomorrow either! I have an online ethics class at 2pm! Ugh. So now tomorrow morning I’m going to have to call them up again and change the pick-up time again.

Tonight was the last teaching night of the Data Engineering course at university, so from next week I’ll have my Thursday evenings free again. That should make my current time pressure a bit easier.

For lunch today I took Scully for a walk to the fish & chips place and we had a nice lunch overlooking the harbour, on what looks like being the final sunny day for a while. The weather forecast for the next week is back to rain every day. But the brief dry spell was glorious while it lasted. All… (checks Bureau of Meteorology website)… Good lord. We’ve had just three days without rain, and it feels like it’s been sunny forever.

For dinner tonight before the university class, I went to Chinatown, which is just a couple of blocks from the university. I found a place with outdoor tables and a bunch of noodle restaurants, where I got a cheap and huge bowl of fried hand-made noodles with chicken and vegetables.

Knife-cut noodles, Chinatown

Delicious and very filling!

The other issue that arose today was the database for Irregular Webcomic! got updated to a new MySQL version the other day. It seemed to be working fine, but people pointed out issues with UTF-8 encoded characters not rendering properly. It seems something in the upgrade changed the encoding of characters in the database fields. I need to have a close look and figure out what’s wrong and how to fix it, which is not something else I needed to add to my over-full to-do list. So it’ll have to wait a bit.

New content today:

More busy, but stuff achieved

I think this is just generally a busy week. I’m squeezing in some of my usual activities, and today managed to bake bread, go for a 2.5k run, make some comics, cook vegetable soup for dinner, do some planning for my upcoming trip to Europe, walk Scully a bit, run three online ethics classes, and do my face-to-face Primary Ethics class at the local school.

The face-to-face class this morning was the final one in the topic on Challenging Authority, and it concentrated on the story of Rosa Parks, which some of the children were familiar with. (I should point out that American history is not really taught in Australian schools – they get Australian history instead, naturally. So I didn’t really expect any of the kids to have heard of Rosa Parks.) It was a very interesting discussion, and most of the kids were clearly very engaged with the topic. I continue to be impressed (and amazed) at how well behaved my class is this year. In my 6 years of teaching this, I’d say this is probably the best behaved class I’ve ever had.

The apple pie I made the other is mostly eaten, and is very nice both cold, and also reheated.

Oh, if you weren’t aware, there’s a federal election coming up here in Australia on Saturday. We’re being bombarded with campaign advertising and it’s starting to get annoying, but it’ll all be over soon.

New content today:

Super incredibly busy day

So busy I don’t really have time to post much. I spent a lot of time looking for hotels and train trips and making bookings, for our trip to Europe at the end of June. That meant a squeeze on my time for everything else I wanted to get done today, which also included writing my new ethics class for this week, and teaching the first three classes. We’re doing “Buying & Selling part 2” this week – a follow-up to a class I did last year, which had so much material that a second class could be done with all new material. I in fact wrote close to two lesson’s worth of new stuff, so I’ve split some out into a part 3 which I can do later in a few weeks time.

And there was a bunch of necessary housecleaning and dog walking and stuff. And I’m tired and need to relax this evening…

New content today:

Making an apple pie from scratch

Okay, not quite from scratch:

But tonight I tried my hand at sweet shortcrust pastry for the first time, and tried making an apple pie. I think I added a bit too much milk to the pastry, because it was very sticky when I tried to roll it out, and I had to mix in a bit more flour before I could manage to roll it. it’s in the oven now for the final bake, so let’s see how it turns out.

There’s been a bit of cooking tonight, as my wife made pizza dough and topped it with things for dinner. So the oven’s been going for some time.

Okay, half an hour later… the apple pie turned out… rustic.

Apple pie from scratch

New content today:

Pancakes and mud

I made sourdough buckwheat pancakes for breakfast this morning. This is pretty unusual – I don’t normally cook breakfast because my wife and I usually eat muesli pretty much every day. I know some people do cooked breakfasts, but it’s very rare for us. But I’d bought buckwheat flour recently to try some in a sourdough loaf of bread, and we have maple syrup that a friend sent from the USA, so it seemed like a perfect confluence.

My wife and I took Scully on a big walk today for exercise and some ball chasing at a small park out on the headland in the harbour. We took a bushwalk route along the harbour foreshore, behind the houses sitting on the hill above. It’s a nice walk near the water and you can almost imagine you’re far from civilisation. But the path gets muddy in wet weather and, of course, we’ve been having a lot of that lately. So we had to negotiate several muddy patches along the way. And then the park at the end was a bit soggy too, so Scully got pretty muddy.

So when we got home, we gave Scully a bath straight away. You should have seen the dirt that washed off her in the bathtub!

I cleaned the bathroom and shower today, being careful not to strain my back like I did two weeks ago. It’s much better now, but I did it soon after a morning of housework, and I didn’t want a repeat today. I’ve also started running again after my back has settled down. After a 2-week break it’s a bit difficult and my leg muscles are a bit tired and stiff, but if I keep it up it’ll get better.

New content today:

Games and Indian dinner

Friday night was online board games night with the guys. I ate dinner at home so I could join in early this week. We played Dice Forge, Can’t Stop Express, 7 Wonders, Azul, Scattergories, Codenames, and Sketchful. And possibly something else that I’ve forgotten.

Most of the day yesterday and today I spent working on my current secret project. There’s a bit of a deadline on this, so it’s occupying a lot of my time at the moment, and there’s nothing I can really say about it.

Oh, Thursday night I had that ISO planning meeting. We were deciding if enough people were prepared to travel to Cologne to have a face-to-face meeting, or if we should convert it to a fully online meeting. I was hoping the agenda would be finalised as a three-day face-to-face meeting, so I could travel to Germany, attend the meeting, and then have several days free at the end to explore some of the Netherlands. On the other hand, if we cancelled the face-to-face and did a virtual meeting, I would reschedule our flights and we’d have a pure vacation trip a few weeks later.

Unfortunately we kind of ended up with the worst of both worlds. Enough people are planning to travel to make it worthwhile doing it face to face, but virtually all of the Japanese contingent are not travelling—probably restricted by their companies in ongoing COVID precautions. So to please them it was decided to have a hybrid meeting, and instead of 3 days of 9-5 meetings, it’s going to be spread out as 5 days of meetings from 12:00-17:00. This is bad for me, because now I have to spend 5 full days in Cologne, while my wife entertains herself while I’m in the meetings, and then we only have a few days left at the end for sightseeing before heading home. SO it’s less than ideal, but I guess we just have to make the most of it.

Tonight for dinner we decided to go to an Indian restaurant that is a bit over half an hour’s walk from our place. We took Scully there in her doggie backpack, and she walked all the way home. I tried a new dish that I’ve never seen before: pistachio chicken, which was very nice.

New content yesterday:

New content today:

Rain and assignment marking

It continues to rain. The Sydney reddit group is just full of people complaining about the rain, being sick of the rain, dealing with rain-related problems like mould, asking when it’s finally going to stop raining, and so on.

I spent much of today huddled inside marking assignments for the data engineering course. This is the project plan for their final project, so it lays out what they propose to do, where they’re going to get their data from, what analysis techniques they will use, and the motivation for the topic they chose.

The topics are diverse, including: predicting favoured movie genres from demographic data; predicting favoured cuisine type from survey data on more general food-related behaviours; modelling performance of wind and solar power generation dependent on weather conditions; analysing traffic accident statistics in conjunction with weather data to search for correlations; modelling relationships between house prices, inflation, and interest rates over time. It’ll be interesting to see what the students come up with as conclusions for all of these projects!

New content today:

Heavy rain and heavy lunch

Aldi advertised a special item available today – a dog bed. We’ve got two of the dog beds from there and Scully loves them, but she’s also chewed them a bit so they have some holes, so we wanted to get another. I drove over to the nearest Aldi store to pick one up this morning, but they didn’t have any.

For lunch, I caught a train to Newtown, where I met my brother. We had lunch together at The Pie Tin. He’d never been there before, so I recommended some of the best pies for him to try – he chose the barbecue brisket and a sausage roll. I had a Nepali curry lamb and a Mexican chicken. We were both really full, but it’s worth it since the pies there are so good.

ON the way home, I stopped off at Town hall to check out the game shop and see if they had a copy of Azul: Queen’s Garden. They didn’t. I then stopped again at North Sydney to pop into the Aldi there and see if they had the dog bed. They didn’t.

Oh, and it’s been raining almost all day. Heavy rain. We had a lot of rain overnight. There was a break in the early afternoon, but it’s now raining heavily again this evening. Everyone in Sydney is so sick of this endless rain.

The rain on the train

New content today: