A hit of winter!

Showers were forecast today, but I wasn’t prepared for what actually happened. A strong cold front hit early in the afternoon, bringing rain and cold winds. The temperature dropped to around 13°C, which is like a very cold winter day for Sydney. It’s definitely the coldest weather we’ve had all year, since last winter. Tomorrow is supposed to be cool and windy, but thankfully Thursday will start to warm up a bit more again, as that’s the day I have slated for the trip into the mountains with the American visitor.

I had an easy morning, spending time stretching out my back to aid recovery. It really stiffens up overnight, but loosens up again during the day. Overall it’s better than yesterday, so that’s good. I worked on some Darths & Droids comics, and made some sourdough. Actually, it was unusual because the dough turned out a lot softer and stickier than usual. In hindsight, I may have measured out 100 grams less of flour than usual, but I’m not sure. The bread turned out nice though.

Tonight I had three ethics classes, migrated from Thursday for this week only. Fewer students than normal showed up, as expected, so I had to refund a few of them. The new topic is School. Talking to school-aged kids about school, and what’s good and bad about it and stuff like that is very interesting!

New content today:

A big walk to exercise my back

Today I had three ethics classes in the morning, finishing just before midday. After that I met up with my American friend and we went for a walk around my neighbourhood and the northern shore of Sydney Harbour.

We met at Wollstonecraft Station just after midday. I’d planned to take him down Berrys Creek to the harbour, but with the recent heavy rain that track would have been very muddy, so I suggested we take a higher street route to my favourite lunch lookout spot, and then go down into the creek valley from there. We walked around Berry Island and saw the Aboriginal rock carvings there, and then over to the Coal Loader, where we walked through one of the train loading tunnels.

Coal Loader tunnel

From there to Balls Head, with its great lookout views of the city.

View from Balls Head

View from Balls Head

Then down to Sawmillers Reserve, with more views and a historical shipwreck.

View from Sawmillers Reserve

MSB barge wreck

From here we walked across to Lavender Bay and checked out Wendy’s Secret Garden, before continuing past Luna Park and down to Milsons Point and then Kirribilli. We parted at Milsons Point Station about 3:30 pm, which gave me and Scully time to walk up to my wife’s work by her finishing time of 4 o’clock. And then we all walked home together. It was a long walk – I did over 20,000 steps, but I didn’t track the kilometres. Scully and I were exhausted by the time we got home!

But all this exercise was good for my sore back. It was nasty in the morning when I got up, but this evening is feeling much better. Maybe 70% or so. Hopefully it won’t deteriorate much during the night again.

And then tonight after all that I have not one, but two more classes. I’ve added an extra at 9pm, the latest I do them, to cater to a loyal student who needed a later one. I wouldn’t do this during summer because daylight saving would push it to 10pm start and 11pm finish. But since we just went off DST, I’m okay to this timeslot for the next 6 months, and then I’ll have to re-evaluate it.

New content today:

Annoying back pain

The past few days I’ve had a bit of a shoulder strain. It hurts, but I’d been thinking at least it’s not lower back pain, I should feel lucky.

Then today, for no reason at all, as I bent over to put something in the kitchen tidy bin, my back muscles spasmed and I ended up collapsed on the floor in pain. Argh!

From experience, this takes 2-3 days to get over. I’ve been icing it with an ice pack intermittently all day, putting it back in the freezer to chill down again in between. And doing some of the careful stretching exercises my physiotherapist taught me to manage and reduce the strain.

Apart from dealing with that, I did some comics stuff and had three ethics classes tonight. I’ll stop there since I want to get away from the desk and relax now.

New content today:

Jigsaw puzzle done!

After neglecting it during the week. we put in a concerted effort today and finished off the 1000-piece Renoir jigsaw puzzle.

Jigsaw complete!

We woke up to a sunny morning, after a night of very heavy rain. The rain gauge at Sydney’s main weather station broke overnight, so we don’t have a reading for the 24 hour period, but nearby gauges registered 145 mm at Sydney Airport and 160 mm at the suburb of Canterbury. I heard the rain hammering down in the middle of the night, but it had stopped by the time I got up and the sun had come out. But there was evidence in the garage basement where much of the floor was still wet, and there were water-transported trails of sand everywhere. Part of it must have flooded like it has on other heavy rain occasions (though I don’t think as bad as those ones).

Heading out for a 5k run after breakfast, I passed a couple of small toppled trees and fallen branches. The streets looked the worse for wear, with lots of twigs and leaf litter, and torrents of water still rushing in all the gutters.

Another consequence of the weather was to completely change my plans for the week ahead. I mentioned yesterday that I was planning to take my American visitor friend up to the Blue Mountains on Tuesday. The plan was to do the Grand Canyon Track walk near Blackheath, and then go see some of the other sights depending how much time we had. But because of the weather, the National Parks and Wildlife Service has closed all of the Blue Mountains valley walking tracks until Thursday morning. They need time to check them for landslides, rockfalls, tree falls, and general safety.

This means we can’t do that walk on Tuesday. I was really looking forward to it, and my visitor is a keen hiker, and this may be his only chance in a lifetime to do these Blue Mountains walking tracks. So I shuffled my ethics classes from Thursday, moving some to Tuesday and some to Wednesday, and so I can have Thursday free to take him up to the mountains then instead of Tuesday. The other good thing about this is that the weather forecast for Thursday is dry, whereas Tuesday may have a few showers, so it should be a better day for it anyway. Now we just have to hope they don’t find anything dangerous that causes the track to be closed for longer.

For dinner tonight I made vegetable fajitas. Onions, garlic, carrot, zucchini, broccolini, cauliflower. And I tried a new ingredient, frying up strips of haloumi to add to the fajitas. The added salty crunch was good!

New content today:

The Kickstarter that keeps on giving

Back in 2015 I backed a Kickstarter for a copy of the roleplaying game Delta Green. I got the book many years ago, but they keep on issuing new digital rewards for backers. I got another one yesterday – this is about the 20th or 30th PDF adventure/expansion that I’ve received for this project. And the announcement email said they’re still working on four more titles that I should receive in the future! This is not stuff that was promised and they’re late in delivering – it’s all bonus rewards that I never expected to get in the first place. Definitely a publisher that looks after its customers.

Oh, the other main news is all about the weather. We had 111 mm of rain overnight, and today’s forecast was upgraded from another 100 mm to 200 mm! The morning was steady rain, a little heavy at times, but nothing too bad. It increased in the afternoon and is expected to get very heavy overnight, until late tomorrow morning.

Board games night is at a friend’s place, but I decided not to go tonight. A combination of the traffic and heavy rain, and wanting to get some things done at home. I needed to complete next week’s ethics class topic plan early, because on Tuesday I’m planning to have a day out in the mountains with an Internet acquaintance who is visiting Sydney from the USA. He actually arrived late yesterday, just in time for this glorious stormy welcome.

New content today:

Sydney putting on the weather for a visitor

I have an online acquaintance who is currently visiting Australia for the first time. He began his trip in Melbourne last week, and spent the last four days driving along the scenic coastal route to Sydney, taking his time to enjoy the sights. He hauled into Sydney this afternoon… just in time for the start of one of our epic weather events.

The forecast is for almost 200mm of rain over the next 48 hours, with some thunderstorms and high winds thrown in for good measure. The Nepean/Hawkesbury River system that marks the western and northern boundaries of Sydney has had a “minor to major” flood warning issued. The ran started at lunch time today and was light during the afternoon, but it’s getting pretty heavy now in the evening.

This morning I had two ethics classes, and thenI tried to beat the incoming rain and send another package off at the post office. I managed to get as far as halfway home via the pie shop, where I grabbed some lunch. I took shelter on some covered seating at a nearby park to eat with Scully while we watched the rain come down. It lightened up a bit and we didn’t get too wet on the way home.

In the afternoon I did some comics stuff and prepped for this evening’s three further ethics classes. Oh, I also added a new class time on Monday nights to cater to a couple of students who needed to move from existing classes for scheduling reasons. I’m getting a bit saturated with classes, but felt I could handle one more for two long-time students.

New content today:

Back to the ethical grind

I had a busy day today. In the morning I was taking care of negotiating/finalising some sales of some old Magic: the Gathering cards. Then I had to take Scully to my wife’s work and head into the city for today’s Data Engineering lecture at the university. Today was all about machine learning and deep learning to discover patterns in data.

I had some sushi for lunch before the lecture. During pauses in the lecturing, I talked with some of the student groups about their projects. One is keen on the idea of analysing traffic accident data to determine causative factors, such as day of the week, time of day, speed limit zones, weather conditions, and so on.

After the lecture I headed home, picking up Scully again on the way, Then I had about 20 minutes to pack Magic cards and head up to the post office before it closed. I didn’t get home until about 5:30, and then I had three ethics classes in a row from 6 to 9pm. So it’s been non-stop all day… and now I can finally relax a bit. After I make myself some dinner….

New content today:

Weather forecast got it wrong

Yep, the Bureau of Meteorology got today’s forecast very wrong. It was supposed to be hot and sunny, 29°C. It briefly reached 25°C and hovered closer to 20°C for most of the day, under grey skies and some heavy rain.

I took Scully for a bit of a drive at lunch time, and we got caught out by the rain. I had to find a seat under shelter to eat after getting a couple of pies from the Allambie Pies shop. Scully’s not keen on rain, so she didn’t want to run around in it at the park there.

No progress on the jigsaw puzzle today, as I said I wouldn’t work on it while my wife was out at work. And then when she got home, I went for a 5k run, and then when I got home from that she went out to a Zumba aerobics class. And she brought home a copy of The Barbie Movie from the library to watch, so she’s watching that this evening.

I worked on my ethics class for this week, on the topic of Persuasion. I point out that persuading people is attempting to change their minds about something, and explore the ethics of when that’s okay, and when it’s not okay. And how people persuade others, what methods do they use, and are some methods more effective, or more ethical, than others.

And I spent some time tidying up a bunch of loose ends and tasks that needed to get done. Nothing particularly interesting or noteworthy – just mundane chores.

New content today:

Deep carpet cleaning

Today was dominated by cleaning the carpets. I hired a carpet cleaning machine from Bunnings (a hardware store) and picked it up this morning. Then after moving as much as possible off the floors, I spent a couple of hours thoroughly cleaning the carpets. The machine sprays hot water with a detergent onto the carpet and sucks it back up via a nozzle. I did two complete runs across all the carpet. The water that I emptied out of the machine at the end was black with the dirt and dust it had picked up.

The carpet was left a bit damp, but it was a good day to do this as it was warm and dry. We had all the windows open so the carpet could dry out properly. This carpet cleaning is exhausting work though, hot and hard on the muscles. I’m looking forward to a nice relax tonight.

We also made good progress on the jigsaw puzzle today:

Jigsaw, day 4

My wife wanted to finish it over the Easter weekend, but it looks like we made it about 70% of the way. Should be done before next weekend, hopefully.

New content today:

Easter lunch and more puzzling

Jigsaw puzzle update:

Jigsaw progress

I don’t think we’ll get this finished by the end of the long weekend on Monday night!

Today being Easter Sunday, we had a lunch with my wife’s family. Just six of us, since one nephew and girlfriend had gone down the coast for the long weekend, while the other nephew and girlfriend were actually departing Norway today for their move to New Zealand.

Lunch is a traditional roast: lamb, vegetables, with gravy. I’m not a big fan of gravy though, and my wife’s mother has learnt to bring out things like mustard and pickles for me, which I much prefer. Afterwards of course there was plenty of chocolate, plus a delicious cannoli cake that my brother-in-law had made.

Easter dessert

The cake was so good that I asked where the recipe was from, and he said it was from the Smitten Kitchen website. I’m going to try making this some time to share with my friends on a games night. (And I just noticed you can see Scully in the background, top left corner of that photo.)

Now it’s well after dinner time and I haven’t eaten anything because I’m still full from the lunch…

New content today: