Marking, walking, and fancy dinner

Today I spent time going through more student image processing reports and videos. I’m reading all the reports and watching all the videos and making notes on them as I go, before thinking about assigning marks. It’s mentally taxing work! I have one more to go, so hopefully I can complete the whole lot tomorrow.

I did another 2.5k run this morning, then went out to pick up Scully at lunch time. And then because my wife wanted to go to the gym after work and then get stuck into some sewing tonight, she asked me to take Scully for a big walk late in the afternoon before she got home. I took Scully for a walk out along Greenwich peninsula all the way to the point and back, which is a bit over 5 km.

For dinner tonight I ended up making quite a complex meal. I started with the idea of using pomegranate arils which we had left over from using a pomegranate on the weekend for the miso cauliflower bomb. What could I do with pomegranate? Make a salad, I figured, with pumpkin, spinach, walnuts, and feta.

So then I thought we can’t just have a salad – we need something to go with it. Normally it’d be some form of protein, but we don’t cook meat, so… I realised I had some felafels in the fridge. I could heat those up. But felafels need hummus! So this morning I soaked some chick peas, and this afternoon boiled them up a bit. And then after returning home with Scully I processed them with tahini, lemon juice, garlic, olive oil, and spices to make hummus.

And then…. I was thinking you can’t just have felafels without bread! So just before serving everything up, I made some quick flatbread using self-raising flour and yoghurt, mixed into a quick dough and fried in a pan. So, salad, felafels, hummus, and flatbread. It was quite a spread, and my wife thought it was wonderful.

New content today:

Getting stuck into assignment marking

I spent most of Sunday (today) going through the end of course assignments for the university image processing course that I need to mark. I’ve read through four of the reports and watched three of the videos, making notes on them so I can compare then and assign marks uniformly across all the groups. I’m a bit burnt out on image processing and machine learning, but I’ll try to finish them off tomorrow, if I have enough time.

This evening I had two more ethics classes on the topic of extraterrestrial intelligence. Over the week of teaching this topic I’ve added some material about how far away stars are and how it would take any aliens thousands of years to travel to Earth, if they could even do it at all. Because nearly all of the kids’ answers to the various questions are coloured by their intense belief that if aliens knew we were here, they’d immediately come over and destroy us. I mention that it’s kind of illogical to do that, and many people say that advanced civilisations will probably be friendly, and repeat that it’d take them thousands of years to get here… but most of the kids basically respond with, “Yeah… but no, it’s still a terrible idea to let them know we’re here.”

They’re also strongly of the opinion that if/when news of receiving an alien radio signal is made public, the overwhelming reaction of humanity will be panic. I’m guessing their thoughts on this topic are strongly affected by exposure to TV and movies, and that they haven’t matured enough in this area to form more thoughtful opinions yet, because it’s not a topic that’s as commonly discussed in serious conversation as a lot of the other topics we cover.

New content today:

A very windy Saturday

The rain has gone, replaced by strong, chilly winds. It was annoyingly windy all day, but at least it dried things out and the humidity was back down to around 50%.

Saturday morning is sleep-in day, but Scully was keen to get up by 8am, so that means everyone’s up! I went for a run, clocking up another 2.5 km. I feel like I can do that distance regularly without too much effort. The cooler, drier weather helped a lot too.

After lunch we all went on a walk to the Italian bakery a couple of suburbs over, to buy some biscuits for my wife to take with her on a planned visit to her mother’s place tomorrow. It’s a bit of a hike, taking an hour and a half at a brisk pace.

The jacaranda trees are just a little past their prime now, especially with the rain the past few days knocking a lot of the flowers off, but it’s making a nice purple carpet around the trees.

Jacaranda carpet

I made a fancy dinner tonight – the baked miso cauliflower bomb that I’ve done a few times before. It’s an intricate meal, with lots of ingredients, and it’s about an hour of solid cooking effort in the kitchen, but worth it.

New content today:

Buffering day and games night

Friday was another busy one. We had no buffer of Darths & Droids strips, so I had to put in some time writing and making new comics. In between that I kept up my new exercise routine with another 2.5k run and stretching exercises. It’s really starting to feel like I can do this every day. It was rainy in the morning though, so it was very humid. I’m keeping a record of my runs and the weather, and for the past week every run has been done in humidity over 85%.

Saturday morning (I’m writing Friday’s update late) has dawned cool, clear, and windy however, so the humidity has finally dropped. It’s 50% right now.

I had to go out a few times on Friday -to get the weekly groceries, to pick up Scully from my wife’s work, and then we went out for dinner at a local Turkish place. We had a selection of vegetarian meze, all very good.

And then it was online games night with my friends. I joined in a bit late after our dinner, but played a couple fo games of 7 Wonders, of which I surprisingly won the first one. Then we did 6 Nimmt, Gartic Phone, and finished up with a few rounds of Scattergories.

New content today:

More rain, more work

We’re having one of those weeks that we get every now and then in Sydney. Where it’s so rainy and humid that your bath towel is still wet 24 hours after your previous shower… ick.

I did manage to go for a 2.5k run this morning during a break, and then went up the street for some lunch and to buy some things I needed. Scully stayed at my wife’s work nearly all day, because one of the other staff brought their dog in and he (the dog, not the staff member) and Scully played all day, tiring each other out.

I have a bunch of tasks to do at the moment: marking university assignments, course planning for next semester’s data processing course, dealing with ISO photography standards stuff, teaching my online ethics classes and handling the admin work of enrolling and moving students around and dealing with parent messages. And I’m still way behind on making comic strips – both Irregular Webcomic! and Darths & Droids are now operating on almost zero buffer, so I have to keep making time to do a little bit of work on them every day as well, rather than rely on buffer. I really need to find time to get on top of all this stuff. It’ll definitely be easier once the marking work is done.

New content today:

Raining, running, and ruminating

It’s been raining most of the day, and heavily at times, with thunder and lightning. But there was a break in the morning, perfectly timed for me to go out on a run. I decided it was time to do another 5k effort, and I also decided that the oval track is so boring that I preferred to do my street route, even though it is quite hilly. I managed to complete the distance just a few seconds slower than last week’s 5k on the oval, so that was pleasing, if exhausting. And I just got home as it started to rain again, so the timing was ideal.

For lunch I drove over to a friend’s place, where he made us some food, and we played a couple of board games: 7 Wonders Duel, and Wingspan. I managed to win both games, which was pleasing. I really wasn’t sure about Wingspan until the final points tally.

At home I wrote the class plan for this week’s new ethics topic, on extraterrestrial intelligence. It’s basically exploring the questions arising out of the prospect of receiving a radio message from an alien civilisation. There’s plenty in just that to last for a full class. I’ll probably do another class later on about different scenarios such as physical contact. I ran the first three classes tonight, and it was very interesting because I got a very wide range of responses from the students. That’s always a lot more fun that everyone agreeing.

New content today:

A class for kids on playing & running tabletop RPGs

My new group class has been approved and is now public on Outschool:

Tabletop Roleplaying Games – Playing, Game Mastering & Writing Adventures

You can read all about it by following the link – but in brief it’s a forum-like community moderated by me, where kids aged 12-16 can discuss roleplaying games, ask me questions, and I will be posting tips and challenge activities for the kids to do. The kids enrol for access on a monthly basis, and it’s only US$5 a month. Also, since you’re reading my blog, if you sign a child up you use the code MORGANMAR5 at checkout to get the first month free.

I began this morning with another run, extending to 3.3 km this time. I’m trying to stretch to eventually being able to do 5 km regularly.

After getting home and cooling down, I checked out the assignments submitted by students in the university image processing course. I was enjoying not having to teach the tutorial on Monday night, but now I have six 50-page-ish reports and six 20-minute video presentations to mark! I’ll get stuck into that later this week.

I took Scully to the dog park for some exercise this afternoon. Last night she was a bit stir crazy, having just slept all afternoon, so today I made sure to get her running around, chasing a ball, and doing a walk down by the water to tire her out. It seems to have worked, as she’s now lying in her dog bed, fast asleep.

New content today:

Busy comic Monday

I spent most of today knuckled down making a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips. I started photographing immediately after breakfast, then had a break of 2 hours while I taught a couple of online ethics classes, then picked it up again. I finished just before 1 pm, when I had to go pick up Scully from my wife’s office.

I took Scully for a walk to the new bakery at Naremburn, where I had a pie for lunch. They also had a very nice looking banoffee tart, which I tried for a dessert.

Banoffee tart

It was really good!

After my wife got home from work I went for a run in the cool of the evening, completing another 2.5 km. I’m definitely finding that doing it nearly every day means I’m less likely to to just be lazy and miss an entire week of exercise!

New content today:

Soggy soggy Sunday

It rained most of the day. I considered going for a run and just getting wet, but in the end decided a day off would be acceptable.

Mostly today I wrote this new batch of Irregular Webcomic! scripts, which I’ve completed quite late in the evening, ready for photographing tomorrow. I need to get the first one completed by update time tomorrow, because the buffer is alarmingly empty.

New content today:

Completely rewritten plans for Saturday

My Saturday was planned to be completely about writing Irregular Webcomic! strips in order to photograph a new batch of comics on Monday. But that all changed when I checked my email in the morning.

There was a newsletter from Outschool for teachers, and it announced a new type of class that we can start teaching: Groups. These are essentially social groups with the teacher as leader and moderator, guiding enrolled students by providing tasks, answers, comments, and feedback to students who are sharing their work. It’s done in a forum style, with no live Zoom sessions. Students enrol on a monthly basis, giving them access to the forum and teacher for that time.

I realised this is the perfect format for a group all about running roleplaying games and writing adventures for them, with learning goals based on social skills, problem solving, and exercising creativity. So in order to get in as early as possible and hopefully get a big share of students interested in this, I spent all day today writing a class outline for the group. And to submit it for listing, I also had to create header and banner images, and three videos – one for parents, one for students, and one as a welcome when students sign up. This was a lot of work, and pretty much took me the whole day up to when we had to depart for dinner.

We had a booking for dinner at a slightly fancy pizza/Italian place about 20 minutes drive away. It’s a nice place that we’ve been to a few times, and we thought it would make a good ending to our wedding anniversary week, since we didn’t manage to have a nice dinner on the actual day.

New content today: