Fitness day!

Today I met my friend to play golf at the Par 3 Pitch and Putt course. My relative handicap was reduced down to 15 after I won last time with 16. (We play match play with jackpotting of halved holes.) But today I was really on fire, and my friend was struggling a bit, and I ended up trouncing him 14 points to 4. Without the handicap, my total score for 18 holes was only 3 strokes higher than his. So next time we play, my handicap will go down again.

I also managed the only birdie of the day, with a monster putt – it was in the range 15-20 metres long, and curved a good metre and a half to the right as it rolled along the green. So I’m pretty happy with that.

On the way home I stopped off at my favourite pie shops for lunch, having a pepper steak pie and a chicken/asparagus/corn one. Normally I go for more exotic flavours – they do a really nice butter chicken and a good Thai curry chicken pie – but I decided to try things I wouldn’t normally get today, and they were good.

I rested a bit at home, and then took off for this week’s 5k run! My goal was to beat last week’s 28:05, and today I managed 27:52. Let me tell you, it’s a real struggle in those middle laps to keep going. Fortunately I didn’t miscount laps like last week, so didn’t have to pick up and run another lap when I thought I’d finished!

Back at home I made potato salad for dinner, to go with some vegetarian sausages. I do love a good potato salad.

New content today:

Back to Ethics

The new school term started this week here in New South Wales, and schools are pretty much open for business as usual. Ethics classes also begin this week, for the first time since they stopped for COVID-19 back in March, and my first class was today. There was no screening of any sort at the school gate – it was wide open and I just walked in. But I walked past another primary school on the way, and they had staff at the gate meeting kids with hand sanitiser and making them use it before coming in, and not letting parents in. I guess each school is doing things differently.

I only had these kids for 3 weeks at the start of the year, and I’d just about learnt all their names, but with the intervening months, I’ve forgotten most of them again, so I had to resort to name tags again. The discussion today was about animal rights. We began with a story about a chimpanzee who was taken from his parents as a baby and raised in a succession of human families, trying to teach him sign language. This chimp became violent and ended up in a cage in a research lab, and died at 20 (about half the age of chimps in the wild).

So we talked about whether chimps and other great apes deserve to have rights to freedom like humans, and experiments on them being banned. The kids were generally in favour of that. Then I asked about rats and mice that were used to test drugs that save human lives. That split the responses a bit. One boy said they shouldn’t test things like that on animals at all anyway, they should test on humans(!). Eventually we converged a bit and the kids were generally agreeing that animals deserved to have the right to live wild and free. Then I asked about dogs and cats – should they all be free, and having them as pets banned? And wow… that got interesting responses. One girl said, “Now you’re asking really hard questions!” And I answered, “Yes, that’s the point of Ethics class.”

So it was a good robust discussion, with plenty of the kids interested and contributing good comments. The behaviour could still improve, with things breaking out into spontaneous chatter more often than ideal, but it might have been a little better than the first classes in March.

I walked home a longer way, and then when I got home my wife was out with Scully and asked me to take her for a walk so she could go back in to work, so I extended it an extra couple of kilometres. I ended up walking over 11 km – before 11am!

We’re also planning our weekend away. We leave on Friday afternoon to drive out to Mudgee, a country town about 3.5 hours drive away (non-stop – we’ll have a rest break along the way). We arrive Friday evening, and have dinner and accommodation booked, at a place where Scully can stay with us. We spend all day Saturday there, and have a really nice dinner booked for Saturday, at a lovely place we’ve been to before. I think they said they have a private room where we can dine with Scully, rather than having to sit outside in the cold. And then we drive back on Sunday.

Speaking of the cold, the forecast for the weekend isn’t great, alas. Mudgee on Saturday is forecast to be -1°C overnight, to a maximum of just 14°C, and around 15mm of rain with possible thunderstorms! So it’s going to be wet and very cold. We’ll just have to make do and enjoy as best we can – we’ve been looking forward to this trip since we had to cancel it back in April.

New content today:

Irregular photography

I finished writing the last few Irregular Webcomics in a batch and then spent this afternoon photographing the scenes. I’ll assemble them over the next few days.

Not much else to report. I’m just holding my breath with the COVID news here in Sydney every day, wondering if they’re going to announce new travel restrictions or not. Given we are planning to leave on Friday for a weekend away in the countryside, it’ll be disappointing if cases rise enough to disrupt that.

New content today:

A recovery day

I had a bit of an interrupted sleep last night, and woke up still quite tired. I ended up taking it pretty easy today, mostly working on writing a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! scripts.

I also took Scully out twice, for a morning walk, and then to to the park to meet other dogs and owners in the late afternoon. While there, I popped into the bakery that is a short walk away to get a loaf of sourdough and also some burger buns for dinner. They didn’t have any buns left, but they did have a challah loaf, which looked somewhat similar to the brioche-like buns they have. I don’t think I’ve ever had challah before, but it looked good, and I figured I could cut it into sections the right size for a burger and then split them horizontally.

When I got home, I realised the challah was much denser and heavier than the brioche buns, and trying it it was a little sweet, which I hadn’t expected at all. Nevertheless, I sliced it up and we used it as burger buns (for chick pea and lentil patty burgers, with cheese, tomato, and beetroot). It was actually really delicious. I think the rest of the challah will go quickly. It seems like it would be an ideal bread for French toast, too.

New content today:

Market results

I had my market stall today, selling my photography prints (as described yesterday).

It was really quiet today. I’ve pretty much never seen a market so dead. We had a social distancing limit of 40 people maximum inside the community hall where my stall was (there were also open air stalls outside, but I need to book an indoor one for rain protection for my products), and it never even got close to that many people at once – and that’s including ten stallholders.

In the end I made $7 short of the stall hiring fee, so it was a loss for the day. I did however hand out a lot of business cards. I had two or three people sounding genuinely interested in checking my website and possibly ordering a custom large sized print for their walls – although I’m not counting those unhatched chickens.

I think it was a combination of people starting to get nervous again about COVID, with infections in the past few days looking like they might ramp up here in Sydney again, plus the fact that it’s the last day of a two-week school break, and probably a lot of people might still be returning from vacation driving trips.

There are two more markets next month, and hopefully (1) COVID won’t cancel them, (2) people will be more able and willing to come out and shop.

New content today:

Organising for market

Tomorrow is the market day – my first one since March. I did some preparation today – checked my box of gear and added a few items, and charged up my Square reader so I can process payments. A friend is arriving early tomorrow to pick up me and all my stock and gear and take us to the market to set up by 9am.

I also started work on a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips. I’ll need to get a batch completed in the coming week, so I hope to have them written by Monday and take photos Tuesday.

Next weekend I have a weekend trip to the country planned with my wife and Scully. We had to cancel a similar trip planned for April, and we rebooked it for next weekend when New South Wales COVID restrictions eased off… but now there are more cases popping up and I’m hoping it won’t get bad within the next week and end up with restrictions being imposed again. We’ll have to wait and see.

New content today:

Games and Proof

Tonight is fortnightly games night. I’ve just finished my first game of the evening, a 6-player game of 7 Wonders. Normally I don’t do very well in games against my friends, but I won this one, so that’s a good start to the evening!

Today I finished writing the new Proof that the Earth is a Globe that I started yesterday, and posted it. So that was a good job completed.

New content today:

Nerdsniped

Today I started working on a new one of my “100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe“. It’s the first one I’ve started for some time, because I’ve been distracted at home a lot with my wife working from home and haven’t been able to sit down knowing that I could work uninterrupted for several hours at a time. But today I just knuckled down and got started despite that. Normally I’d finish an article the same day I start, but I’m only about half way through, so hopefully I’ll be able to finish and post it tomorrow.

I took a break at lunch time to go do another 5k run. My fastest time for the 5k last year was 29:06, and last week I managed 29:16, so today my goal was to break 29 minutes. Unfortunately I miscounted laps and after sprinting the last couple of hundred metres and bending over exhausted to catch my breath while I checked my time on my phone, I discovered that I’d only covered 4.6 km! I still had a lap to go! I had to put the disappointment aside immediately and get the legs working again and set off on another lap…

But I managed it! My time for the full 5k today was 28:05. While running the last few laps I felt pretty exhausted and again really had to push through it mentally to avoid stopping, but now a few hours later my legs definitely don’t feel nearly as tired as last week.

I boasted to my friends on our online chat. One asked me if I was running laps of a street route, but I said no, the streets here are much too hilly for me to run, so I do laps of the nearby sports oval. And then this conversation happened:

Friend: Actually your run is consistent with orbiting a very dense object at the centre of the oval. #100ProofsGoreHillOvalIsABlackHole

Me: hmm…. I could calculate the mass, given the radius and speed… Damn, now I have to do it.

And I did. Approximating the oval as a circle and using the equation for a circular orbit: v = √(GM/r) gives the mass M of an object needed to cause me to orbit it at speed v and radius r. My speed was 5000/(28×60+5) = 2.97 m/s. I ran 11 full laps, totalling 5.14 km, so the radius of the oval is approximately (5140 m)/(11 laps)/(2π) = 74.4 m. Plugging the numbers in gives M = 9.81×1012 kg. Which is basically 1013 kg to any sensible degree of accuracy.

According to Wikipedia, 1013 kg is almost exactly the mass of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Which is a little large to fit inside the oval. But never fear, for it’s also roughly the mass of two teaspoonfuls of degenerate neutron matter, which one could easily fit into the middle of a sports oval. If that much degenerate neutron matter had been in the middle of the oval, I could have stayed in orbit about it by running in a straight line. Although I suspect my orbit would decay rapidly after 5 km of running…

Friend: I’m so happy I nerdsniped you into doing this.

And just to include a photo: for dinner tonight I made a vegetable quiche, stuffed with potato, cauliflower, pumpkin, broccolini, onion, cherry tomatoes, eggs, and cheese:

Vegetable quiche

New content today:

Standards reporting

Today was a day to work on writing my report for the recent ISO Photography standards meeting – the one that I attended virtually and had to stay up to 2am each night for four nights a few weeks ago. Part of my role in this is to prepare a report for Standards Australia on all of the things discussed at the meeting. So I basically worked on that for much of the day. Got it finished a bit after dinner.

I’m going well with reading the Diary of a Wimpy Kid book 6 in Italian. I’m up to page 72, and there are 216 pages, so that’s exactly a third of the way through. I’m definitely noticing that as I work my way through these books I’m having to look up fewer words, and I can work out the meanings of more unfamiliar words by context without needing to look them up.

New content today:

The storm?

The storm did finally hit overnight and we got a bit of heavy rain, but by the time I got up this morning the rain had stopped. Although it was cold and windy all day, and the rain did return at spotty intervals. But honestly it was nothing like the apocalypse that the weather bureau had warned us to expect. By lunchtime the sun was coming out again in between the odd showers, whereas I’d been prepared for a full day of torrential downpour. They forecast up to 50mm of rain today, but in the end we only got 13mm.

For a morning excursion I took Scully out to the hardware store, driving rather than walking. It’s next door to the home-maker centre which has dozens of furnishing shops as well as the pet shop, so we got to go in there too and Scully had a sniff up and down all the aisles of pet food. We got a bit wet walking between the two buildings, but not too bad. I also dropped off a box of electronic stuff, cables, light bulbs, and used batteries at the local recycling centre which is just around the corner from there too.

Tonight for dinner I recreated last night’s roast potato and pumpkin pizza. We always have two pizzas during what we call “pizza week” because the ready made bases come in packs of two. (I’m too lazy to make my own pizza bases from scratch each time.)

And then for dessert I made myself… a deconstructed rum ball!

Deconstructed rum ball

My wife bought me a madeira cake for a treat, which is what I use as the main ingredient to make rum balls – which I’ve made many times. But this time I thought I’d try something a little avant-garde and create myself a deconstructed dessert. After plating up (and taking photos) I sat down to eat it, mixing the ingredients with a desert fork on the plate… and it was both fun and delicious! 9/10 would do again!

New content today: