Bad trivia

On games night last Friday, when I arrived the other guys were playing a cheap mass-market trivia game that one of them had received as a gift. This one had the gimmick that everyone had a number of life points, and when you answer questions right you can received either bullets, bulletproof vests, or can choose other players to lose life, and if you get it wrong you might suffer a wound. And some of the cards simply have “Shoot!” instead of a question on them, and when they are turned up everyone simultaneously points a rubber gun at another player, and whoever has a bullet to spend causes a wound. You get the idea. Anyway, some of the questions were… a bit weird.

Trivia game question

I was the one who drew this card and asked the question. To his credit, the askee gave a fairly detailed and correct answer. But when I revealed what was written on the card, everyone else hilariously insisted that he be marked wrong for it, since he didn’t give the answer written on the card. It was petty, but fun.

Today I was busy with four classes throughout the day. Just enough time in between to take Scully for a couple of walks and pick up some salad leaves to make dinner with. Weather was warm, but still not really hot. And that’s about it.

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Creative game design request

Today I had a new enrolment in my ongoing Critical & Ethical Thinking class, and the mother also contacted me to request that I schedule my 6-week Creative Thinking & Problem Solving class so that her daughter could do that one too. Cool! I’ve written back to ask what time zone they are in and what their preferences are for a lesson time. I’ve got a reply saying they’re in the US Pacific time zone, which works reasonably well for me, because their preferred early evening hours are late morning for me. So I’ll decide some possible days when I can do it and get back to them, and then schedule the course probably starting around the beginning of February. Hopefully I can get someone else enrolling, because it’s better with more than one student.

Today I worked on lesson plans for two weeks hence: on the topics of “Lying” for ages 10-12, and “The Meaning of Life” for ages 13-15. I managed to complete both of them, helped by the fact that Lying is a refresh of one of the first topics I did back in 2021, which none of my current students have done.

At lunch we all went on a walk to Cammeray and the Italian bakery, where I grabbed a pizza slice for lunch, and a Napoli biscuit for dessert tonight. It was warm and sunny, but not too hot. We still haven’t had a day reach 30°C in Sydney this summer, so the unusually cool summer continues.

Oh, I also spent some time explaining to my wife the current kerfuffle with Wizards of the Coast, Dungeons & Dragons, and the Open Gaming Licence. Since she was asking me what I was spending so much time chatting with my friends about. (Actually, this might have been yesterday… my weekend kind of got mashed together a bit…)

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Games night and steamy Saturday morning

Friday night was board games night at a friend’s place. I went straight after teaching my ethics classes, three in a row in the afternoon. We played Lords of Waterdeep and Camel Up, and then some rounds of a word game we invented using Bananagrams tiles.

Earlier on Friday I did the grocery shopping, had another ethics class, and then went to pick up Scully from my wife’s work. We went for a short drive to another suburb to grab a quick lunch and give Scully a walk.

This morning (Saturday) was rainy. It eased off about 10am, but was still overcast, so I took the opportunity to go for a run before it got too hot. I decided to do 5k instead of 2.5. About halfway through the sun came out and started heating up the wet roads. I could see clouds of water vapour rising off the roads as I ran through them. It was incredibly humid! And then by the time I finished the run it started raining again, so I arrived home soaking wet.

Once home I cleaned the bathroom and had a shower to cool off, then spent the afternoon making Irregular Webcomic! strips from the photos I shot on Tuesday. And this evening we all went out for dinner, walking up to the local shops and a Vietnamese restaurant there. It was nice sitting outside in the street ambience with dozens of other diners enjoying the warm evening air and summer twilight.

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First lesson on free will

This morning I did my first ethics class for the older students on this week’s topic of Free Will and Determinism. I had the one student from last week, plus another kid who graduated up from the younger class. They’re both very articulate and we had a really good discussion of the topic. I think they appreciated the difficulties of the questions and the nuances between simply declaring “of course we have free will” versus the idea that our decisions are determined by our circumstances.

I spent time today working on the next topic, which is How to Rig an Election. I’m going through ideas like gerrymandering, voter suppression, and other stuff.

On a lunch walk with Scully we went by the harbour, and I saw a couple of little black cormorants fishing for food. I could see the small school of tiny fish that they were herding into a ball and picking off as they dived repeatedly. It was very cool. I took a short video with my phone:

The sound you can hear in the video is cicadas, in the nearby trees. And there’s a silver gull swimming on the surface near the cormorants, presumably looking for some sort of hanger-on free feed.

And I did a bit of baking today. A loaf of sourdough (a mild mix of rye and wholemeal), and I made pastry to use for quiche for dinner.

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Almost made a minor running goal

Today was overcast and not too warm. I went for a 2.5k run in the morning, and I decided to go fast early, in an effort to set a good time. I’ve noticed that it’s much easier to set a good time if I go fast right out of the gate, even though I will tend to slow down later as I get exhausted, rather than to start at a moderate pace in an effort to keep more stamina and try to speed up near the end.

Anyway, I started hard and tried to maintain as fast a pace as I could without feeling like I would exhaust myself before I finished. And I succeeded in clocking my best time since June last year. I’ve been trying to get below 12 minutes again – something I did a few times early last year, but haven’t managed since. Well, I’d like to report that I cracked 12 minutes today, but my time was 12:02.

I wrote and produced two new Darths & Droids strips today, with input from some of my co-authors. And at lunch we all went on a walk—me, my wife (who has Wednesdays off work), and Scully—to one of our usual bakeries. We came back a different way, because my wife had a hairdresser appointment, so we went via that, and I came home by myself after leaving them there – the hairdresser allows dogs in the salon!

Tonight I had three online classes in a row, which is always a bit of a slog, but I survived and it’s good to have the Tuesday and Wednesday classes done. I find them to be the toughest days, and it eases up for the rest of the week through to the end of the topic on Monday.

Time to unwind and relax for the rest of the evening!

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Big lunch trip

This morning I photographed my latest batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips. I was very efficient and done by 11:30, so I decided to reward myself by taking Scully on a drive out to the beach, so I could get some nice pies at my favourite pie shop, and then take Scully for a bit of a walk by the beach.

Scully at Fisherman's Beach

I bought a Thai vegetable pie, a satay chicken pie, and a vanilla slice (the Aussie version of the classic French mille-feuille) for dessert. We sat and ate in a shady spot on the grass right by the beach, looking out at the Pacific Ocean. But as we walked out there from the pie shop, we passed a new gelato shop that has sprung since the last time I was here. I like gelato, so I wanted to try some. So, on the way back after letting Scully run around a bit on a nearby playing field, we popped into the gelato shop.

It was being operated by two girls, about 12 years old, with no adults in sight. It was a small place and there was no door to a back area where anyone else might have been lurking, so I can only assume the girls had been left to run the place completely alone. I don’t know about other countries, but this is not entirely unusual here—to go into some sort of shop and be served by a child—especially given the fact that we’re currently in summer school holidays.

Phoenix gelato

I’d like to report that the gelato was excellent, but in fact it was decidedly average. Not bad, but not great. At least I tried it, and gave the girls some business. Oh, they were very generous with the serving size, I must say – I got way more than I expected.

Back home tonight I started the new week of ethics classes with a new topic: Buying and Selling part 3. This one is mostly about supermarket tactics to get shoppers to buy more stuff, and opportunistic pricing. I had a couple of new students in the three classes tonight, and they seem good. I hope they enjoyed the class and return next week.

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Electric power to houses

A thing I forgot to mention yesterday: At the start of one of my online ethics classes, I was expecting two prior students, plus one new enrolment, who I’ll call Barb (not her real name). One of the prior students arrived, and then a minute or so later Barb connected to Zoom. I could only see the thumbnail video until she spoke, and it looked very dark. I waved and said “Hello Barb, welcome to the class”.

The video went from thumbnail to the main window and I could see an adult woman in a dark room. She looked sleepily at the camera and said, “What’s happening? I got a message on my phone saying there was a Zoom on now…”

I said, “You’re Barb’s mother?”

And she said, “There must be some mistake. It’s 1 am here. She’s asleep.”

I said, “Oh… there must have been some time zone mix-up!” I told her to check, in the morning, the time on the class and I’d contact her through Outschool to help work it out. I deduce from the time she said it was that she must have been in the US Eastern time zone. Outschool is supposed to show users all times in their own time zone, so I can only guess that she must have had her time zone set incorrectly in her user profile. So that was pretty strange. I just hope she got back to sleep okay!

Today I finished off the week of classes on the current topics, with four of the age 10-12 classes. In between I started work on writing a new class for this group, for the week after the next one. I’m trying to stay a full week ahead in my prep (as I think I mentioned before). I had a one hour break from 12 to 1, and took Scully for a walk to the fish & chip chop, intending to get some fish & chips for lunch to eat on the way back. But the shop was closed for summer holidays! Some businesses do this here, close for a few weeks in December/January so the staff can have some vacation time over the summer. So I had to walk Scully back home quickly and make myself a quick lunch at home to be done and ready for my class at 1pm.

I took her for another walk again around 5. While I was walking, I did a bird count using eBird, so I was looking around at things, and I noticed an interesting thing with some of the houses I was walking past, and their connections to the overhead electricity wires. The area around here has a lot of older houses, and they generally have the wires supplying electricity strung from the street poles directly to a terminal on the top of the house. Like this:

Wires to house

There are also several properties where the old house has been demolished and a more modern house has been built. And in almost all of these, the wires are not strung to the house itself, but rather to a pole erected just inside the property boundary. Like this:

Wires to pole

Presumably the wires go down the pole and then into the house underground. I’m wondering why this is such a popular choice for new houses. Do the owners make this choice to route the wires this way via a pole on their property, or is it some sort of new requirement by the council? I have no idea. And why string the wires to a pole??

In another interesting piece of trivia, I got talking with some of my friends in our Discord about how many different animals we’ve eaten. We did a survey by emojis, and I thought I’d copy the results here. The number indicates how many of us have eaten meat from the animal in question. This number includes me, except where indicated.

🐂 – 7
🐖 – 7
🐑 – 7
🐓 – 7
🦃 – 7
🐟 – 7 (generic “fish”)
🦘 – 6
🦀 – 6
🦞 – 6
🦑 – 6
👠 – 6 (’eel)
🐐 – 5
🦆 – 5
💪 – 5 (“mussel”)
🦪 – 5
🦌 – 4
🐗 – 4
🐊 – 4
🦈 – 4
🐙 – 4
🦐 – 4
⭐️ – 4 (sea urchin)
🐇 – 3
🐪 – 3
🦢 – 3 (goose)
🐥 – 3 (quail)
🐎 – 2
🦬 – 2
🐌 – 2 not including me
🦙 – 1
🐕 – 1 not including me
🦤 – 1 (pigeon)
🦩 – 1 (emu)
🐢 – 1 not including me
🐸 – 1 not including me
🦗 – 1
🐜 – 1
🐛 – 1 not including me (witchetty grub)

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Market without being at market

As mentioned yesterday, today I helped my wife organise her market stall to sell dog bandanas. We got up early and drove over to the market with all the stuff we needed. It’s a bit hectic setting up there, as there is very restricted car access near the market, so you have to queue up for a bit and wait for a car/van to leave before being ushered into the tiny parking area to unload your stuff and get out again as quickly as possible.

We did this and I drove back home with Scully, leaving my wife to handle the stall by herself until the market closed at 3pm, when we did the whole thing in reverse to pack up and head home.

So I had much of the day to myself (and Scully). I spent it writing the rest of that batch of Irregular Webcomic! that I began yesterday. It’s now complete and I can do the photography probably on Tuesday morning when I don’t have any ethics classes.

Speaking of which, I had three more tonight: two of the 10-12 age group, and one class of the new 13-15 group, which had three of the most mature students from the previous class who transferred into it for this year. I think my favourite classes are actually on Sunday evenings, as these classes all have great groups of kids in them.

My wife sold some bandanas and was happy with what she achieved, so that was good. She has a different market booked in a few weeks to see how it goes in a different suburb as well.

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Market preparation

My wife has decided to hold a few market stalls to sell her dog bandanas and bangles. She’s booked a stall at Kirribilli Markets tomorrow – one of the markets where I tried to get established selling prints of my photography a while back. So we have some experience in setting up and running a stall there. We’l be up early tomorrow morning to drive down and get set up. But rather than me manning the stall all day, it’ll be my wife’s project. So today we got organised and sorted out all the things to take, making sure she can use our Square payment device on her phone, setting up a cash float, and so on.

The rain eased off today about lunchtime. We went on a long walk to the bakery for a bit of afternoon tea. Back home we gave Scully a bath. I went out for a run – this time doing 5 km, double my normal distance. I’m trying to do at least one run of this distance each month.

Not much else to report today, really. I spent some time writing new Irregular Webcomic! strips. I’m planning to photograph a new batch some time during the coming week.

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Rainy rainy day

Today was very rainy and even colder than yesterday – max 20.4°C. I even had to wear a jacket when taking Scully out for a walk.

This morning I picked up my grocery order. Unfortunately there was a missing item when I got home. This has happened to me a few times since I started ordering groceries online. The supermarket has a nice website interface for reporting a missing item, and they simply refund you the price without needing any further verification. Which is nice, but I’ve now had to do it enough times that I’m starting to get worried that the supermarket will think I’m taking advantage of it and blackball me from claiming missing item refunds. Hopefully it’s something that happens enough to many people that they know my instances are within statistical likelihood bounds.

I had more ethics classes today, and tonight is online games night.

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