Holiday Monday

Today was Labour Day, a public holiday in New South Wales (the other states of Australia all have different public holidays – it’s weird, I know). So I spent much of the day out with my wife and Scully. We drove to a rural area on the edge of Sydney, to visit a good bakery we know and get some lunch there. And to stop at a couple of parks on the way there and back to exercise Scully.

The bakery had a special pie today: “USA pie”. It was a smoky barbecue beef brisket and mashed potato pie. I tried it, and it was delicious.

This afternoon and evening I’ve been doing more coding work, this time on the mezzacotta Insult Generator, which we’ve now re-themed as a generator for fantasy insults suitable for use in Dungeons & Dragons games when casting the bard spell Vicious Mockery. Andrew C. did much of the CSS work, and Ian B. contributed cool artwork for us:

Bard mocking

It’s now ready to go live, so we proudly present: Mockery Most Vicious!

Other new content today:

Diary and dairy

It was a fairly lazy Sunday. Mostly I worked on processing more photos from May’s trip to Portugal, and then embellishing day 11 of my travel diary with them to post on my other blog.

Douro River panorama

This afternoon I did some coding work on a new maintenance feature for Irregular Webcomic!. It’s not particularly exciting, but will enable me to keep up to date with some archiving tasks with less work, and will update some stuff that has been dormant for too long. I’ll share it when it’s ready to go live.

Oh, and the dairy in today’s title? I did some grocery shopping and bought two litres of milk, a litre of ice cream, and two large tubs of yoghurt (750 mL each? They were on special).

New content today:

Humid Saturday

It was a pretty slack day today. Some house cleaning, and a couple of walks around the neighbourhood – one to get some bread rolls for making burgers for dinner, but after 2 km of walking the bakery didn’t have any rolls! So we got a loaf of bread instead and cut suitable sized chunks to use as burger bases.

This afternoon I processed some more photos from my trip to Portugal back in May. And watched the Australia v. Uruguay game from the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Porto riverfront

And this evening I’ve been watching some of the newly released seasons of Disenchantment and The Good Place with my wife.

New content today:

Summery Friday

It was hot today: 33.5°C in Sydney. Summer has definitely arrived early. Not only is it unusually warm, but much of south-east Australia is in the worst drought in recorded history. Several towns are in imminent danger of their water supplies running completely dry. Dubbo, a large regional town announced upgrading to Level 4 water restrictions this week, which makes showers longer than 5 minutes illegal and all watering of lawns illegal. Sydney is currently on Level 1 water restrictions but it probably won’t be long before we start climbing the levels too.

Another big fear is bushfires. As the weather heats up towards summer, the dry vegetation all over south-eastern Australia is going to be at great risk. It’s been a couple of decades since the last disastrous level fires with tens of lives lost, but everyone is nervous about this summer.

I stayed in out of the heat today and tended to a stack of odd jobs I had piled up – literally – on my desk. I sorted through the pile of papers and paid some bills, filed some documents, organised things needed for my upcoming trip to Germany, and collated data collected from the laser experiment during my last school science visit. I calculated the wavelengths of the lasers we used from the interference patterns the kids traced and put it into a slideshow to show them on my next visit. It turned out that their sketching skills were not great, with some individual wavelengths being out by almost 100 nanometres, but luckily the averages of three measurements made with different slit configurations turned out to be within 9 nm (or under 2%) in each case. A good result, if honestly more by luck than careful measurement!

For dinner tonight my wife and I went to a French crepe place that we discovered recently. It’s run by four French immigrants who loved everything about Australia, except for the fact that they couldn’t find good crepes anywhere, so they decided to start their own restaurant. Both the savoury galettes and dessert crepes are really good, washed down with imported French cider. And outdoor seating, so Scully is allowed to sit with us.

New content today:

Ticking the boxes

This morning I did a half hour or so of stretching routines to ease my tired muscles after yesterday’s long walk. Then went for a walk! To the supermarket to get some essential supplies for lunch and dinner.

When I got home I decided to clean the fridge. I’ve been meaning to do this for ages, and it felt like the right time to get stuck in. I moved everything and pulled out all the shelves and stuff and washed them in soapy water, wiped off the inside of the cabinet, and all of the door compartments. It took two hours to do the whole job, but the fridge is sparkling now. I did a few other small odd jobs and housework tasks.

More productively, I transferred some panorama photos off my phone from yesterday’s walk. Crater Cove (notice the water dragon sitting on the rock at foreground left):

Crater Cove panorama

Reef Beach:

Reef Beach panorama

This evening, my wife and Scully were out at a yoga class (its dog-friendly and Scully enjoys stretching and chilling out too). I turned on the shower to wash off the day’s manual labour, and was just stepping in when I noticed a weird thing on my leg. I tried to brush it off but it didn’t move. I tried to scrape it more vigorously… and saw a bunch of little legs wave around as the tick dug its head deeper into my skin. I’m guessing I picked up the tick during yesterday’s walk, since it was through a lot of bushland. I did take Scully to the park this afternoon, but we were only on grass and concrete, not in any bush.

I’ve never had a tick bite before, so had no experience on what to do. I quickly looked up a few web sites, and consulted with a friend in chat who is a pharmacist. The best course of action would be to freeze the tick with some sort of spray and then pull it out with needle-nose tweezers, neither of which I had. I decided the best course of action was to have a doctor remove it, and raced up to the hospital emergency room – fortunately just 10 minutes walk from my home.

I figured I’d have a bit of a wait, not being a serious emergency, but fortunately there weren’t many people there, and I was in an out within about an hour. A doctor saw me, applied some freezing spray to kill the tick, then extricated it carefully, and I was good to go. Thankfully there seems to be no adverse reaction, no itching or swelling or allergic reaction. (Also, thankfully being in Australia, there was no bill to pay.)

It did ruin the dinner I’d planned to cook, as my wife arrived home from yoga hungry and decided to make herself a sandwich while waiting for me to come home from the hospital. Ah well! 😀

New content today:

Spit to Manly Walk

If you don’t know Sydney, the post title might be a little bit cryptic. “Spit” refers to “The Spit“, a locality in Sydney named after a spit of land in Sydney’s Middle Harbour, while “Manly” is not an adjective, but the name of a beachside suburb (although etymologically it was named by Captain Arthur Phillip for the “manly” demeanour of the native Aboriginal people who inhabited the area). The Spit to Manly Walk is a 10 km walk along the coastline of Sydney Harbour, through a mix of undeveloped bushland, parkland, a short section on urban streets, and ending with a coastal promenade.

Today I did this walk with a couple of friends. We started by crossing The Spit Bridge:

Spit Bridge

And heading east on the north side:

Ellerys Punt Reserve

The first small cove we passed was Fisher Bay:

Fisher Bay looking out

Past the Sandy Bear Cafe:

The Sandy Bear

Then along Clontarf Beach, where we had to squeeze between the high tide waterline and the back fence of some houses:

Clontarf Beach ahead

Past some small beaches of the Duke of Edinburgh Reserve:

Duke of Edinburgh Reserve

Up onto Dobroyd Head, where there are historical Aboriginal rock carvings:

Fish 1

And where there was a view of the city:

The city

Over the hill to a view of Crater Cove and North Head:

Crater Cove and North Head

Where we saw a water dragon:

Water dragon

Then down to Reef Beach (a former nude beach):

Reef Beach view

Out of the bush into more urban surrounds:

Fairlight house

Past the Fairlight Tidal Pool:

Fairlight tidal pool

Along the promenade, where there are warning signs to beware of the fairy penguins who nest around this area:

Penguin warning

Past Manly Cove Beach:

Manly Cove Beach

And into Manly, where we went to the 4 Pines Brewery for lunch!

4 Pines Brewing Company

I got home late in the afternoon and basically relaxed for the rest of the day, exhausted!

New content today:

Scully’s PB

So, Scully now has her own jar of peanut butter.

Scully's PB

This happened because we accidentally bought the wrong sort of peanut butter – my wife and I prefer the all natural stuff with no added sugar or salt. I have crunchy and she has smooth. But someone accidentally grabbed this jar. So now in a household of two people, we have three different types of peanut butter.

Besides grocery shopping, I spent the day writing another 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe.

New content today:

Caught by rain

I went for a long walk today to get some exercise and some lunch. Unfortunately, I hadn’t counted on the weather turning while I was out. I was 3 km from home having a slice of pizza for lunch from an Italian bakery, and it started raining. The sky was dark and it looked like there would be heavy rain, and I had no protection from the elements.

I took shelter in a small shopping centre, and wandered into a supermarket to kill the time. They had some cheap roasted cashews, so I grabbed a bag. Fortunately the rain stopped while I was inside, but the sky looked threatening, so I scurried home.

On the way, I stopped at St Thomas Rest Park, a local historical cemetery, converted into a park, although still with many old gravestones on the site.

St Thomas Rest Park

The most significant is a pyramid-shaped tomb, under which are buried Alexander Berry, his wife, and her brother Edward Wollstonecraft (a cousin of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley), who were pioneers of the settlement of North Sydney, across Sydney Harbour from the main colony of Sydney.

Alexander Berry Pyramid

This is an important historical site in the area, and it’s pretty cool that it’s been preserved and made accessible as a public park.

Back at home, I wrote annotations for the recent batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips, which finishes off the work on that batch. Time to start the next batch!

New content today:

Comic Sunday

This morning my wife and I went for a long walk with Scully, taking her through the bushland near the harbour for the first time in several weeks. A bit over a month ago the local council deployed poison fox baits in the bushland in an effort to control/eradicate the feral fox population. The area was off limits for dogs, because the baits are also lethal to them, so we had to take alternate routes. But the area was posted as clear a week or so ago, so we took advantage today. And after the bush section we walked along the waterfront…

Scully on Sunday

We didn’t get home until close to lunchtime, since we stopped for morning tea at a bakery. They have the most delicious fruit danishes there – I had an apricot one. The pastry is incredibly crisp and flaky and buttery.

Most of the afternoon I spent completing the batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips I’ve been working on for the past week. The comics are now all assembled, but I still have to write all the annotations and enter them into the database where they’re queued up for publication. That’s another half day of work or so.

New content today:

Comic maker, makin’ comics

Besides the usual Saturday morning housework, today was mostly spent making comics. A new strip of Darths & Droids, and assembling strips from the batch of Irregular Webcomic! photos I took during the week.

Um, that’s about it. I went out for dinner with my wife to an Indian restaurant – a new one we hadn’t been to before. It was good.

New content today: