More comic writing Sunday

Much of today was dedicated to finishing off writing that new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips I started yesterday. I managed to finish the writing, so the next step is taking photos, which I’ll probably do on Tuesday morning, since I have another school Science Club visit tomorrow.

This morning I did some grocery shopping. My wife wanted a lift to Milsons Point, on the north side of the Harbour Bridge, so she could walk across the Bridge with Scully to The Rocks and check out the markets there, before walking from there all the way home. Rather than drive home and then walk to the nearest supermarket like I usually do, I decided to park near the Aldi at North Sydney and try that. I’ve only bought things from Aldi a few times, and never done a full grocery shopping there before, so it was a bit of a new experience.

Later in the morning I walked to a nearby park to practice hitting a few golf balls with a pitching wedge. Also in the park was a large picnic birthday party for a boy, maybe 9 or 10 years old, and they’d hired a guy to run a Nerf gun battle thingy, complete with a marked combat zone with cloth barriers set up as cover This guy was herding 20 or so rowdy boys in the game, enforcing rules and keeping things running smoothly. At one point he told them that if anyone got out of line he’d get me to whack them with my golf club. I obliged by turning to face them and raised my club menacingly.

New content today:

Comic writing Saturday

I managed a bit of a sleep-in this morning, since my wife didn’t have to get up early to go to work. Then there was Saturday housecleaning, which today included vacuuming and washing the bathroom and kitchen and balcony floors.

But I spent most of the day writing comics, both for Darths & Droids and a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! that I want to get completed in the coming week.

And for dinner we went out to a newish place nearby for fish & chips. We hadn’t been there yet, and they had some outdoor tables where we could bring Scully to sit, but when we got there they had them all inside – possibly because the evening was cool. But we said we wanted to sit and eat with our dog, and they set up a table outdoors for us, so that was good. And the food was pretty good. I think we’ll go back there again.

New content today:

Beating the heat

I spent most of today working on the next 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe, which I posted a while ago. It’s about heat.

It wasn’t actually a very hot day today – today’s post title was really about completing that article. Still, I stayed inside mostly, because there was a hint of smoke in the air still from the bushfires. The weather bureau reckons this will hang around Sydney for weeks.

Early this morning I did make a trek to the supermarket to get some groceries. My wife drinks coffee – I don’t. She had coffee on the shopping list. I know the type she likes is “Medium roast, Strength 5”.
Looking at the shelves, I saw that a jar of that was $9. But right next it was the same brand, “Dark roast, Strength 8”, on sale for $6 for the same sized jar. There was no sale sticker on the Medium roast.

So I thought: if I get the Strength 8 stuff, and water it down an extra 37.5%, that’d be the same as Strength 5, right? And because it’s more watered down, I’d be using 37.5% less of it, so we’d be saving that as well. Which makes the effective price only $3.75 for the same size jar as the $9 medium roast. And if I buy a dozen jars of the Dark roast, we save a whopping $63 !

I’m sure that all the coffee drinkers out there would find this eminently satisfactory, yes?

However, I bought the $9 jar of Medium roast, because I know my wife. I told her the story, and she said she wouldn’t have minded if I got the Dark roast! đŸ™„

New content today:

Science assembly presentation

Today was the presentation by my Science Club kids at their school assembly, in front of the whole school. (I wrote about the preparation for this here.) Since it was at 2 o’clock, I decided to head out and get some lunch somewhere nearby, and then head to the school after that.

I went to a Spanish tapas place at Dee Why, a beach suburb. Here’s the view from my lunch table:

Lunch view

The meal was pretty good! I’ll have to come back some time with my wife and Scully. After eating, I went for a brief walk along the beach:

Dee Why Beach

And then back to the ocean pool at the southern end of the beach:

Dee Why Baths

There were a lot of people out for a Thursday lunchtime, enjoying the warm but not-too-hot late spring day. There’s still a bit of bushfire smoke in the air, which you can see in the photos, but it didn’t smell particularly bad today. Far out to see I saw a giant yacht on the horizon (a racing yacht, not a motor yacht). It must be out there with the crew practising for the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, which begins on Boxing Day.

The extra wide lens on my new phone camera is pretty cool:

November day at Dee Why

I drove over to the school and checked in with the science coordinator. She said that the preparation I’d done, writing a script for the kids to read along with the slides, couldn’t be found because the girl I’d written it with had been away for a week and hadn’t told anyone where she saved the file! So the other kids had had to write their own script from scratch!

At the school hall, there were a couple of rows of seats in the back for parents, although there were only a handful there. A woman came up to me and introduced herself as Belle’s mother, Belle being one of the girls in the Science Club. She thanked me for volunteering my time at the school and helping out with the kids’ science education, and said Belle was really keen on science. I said I enjoyed doing it, and especially showing the kids that if they like science then it’s possible to have a career doing it. We chatted for a bit before the kids filed into the hall.

There was some preliminary with kids getting weekly merit awards, and then the Science Club kids gave their presentation using the slides I’d prepared. Their script was a little bit wrong in places, but I don’t think it mattered much. It was great to see the kids on stage talking about all the experiments we’ve done this year.

Afterwards I chatted some more with Belle’s parents, until the bell rang and classes were dismissed, and Belle arrived. Her mother took a photo of me with Belle! Although I didn’t really do much at the school today, it was good seeing the presentation, and meeting Belle’s parents.

Then I had to drive home… On the drive out there, I’d seen just how much devastation there was from the storm on Tuesday. One road I drove along had trees down every hundred metres or so, in some cases with power lines still down and safety tape around the site. Some of these had power company workers busy clearing the trees and restoring the power lines, but others were completely unattended. Clearly they don’t have enough workers to get to all of the downed lines at once. I heard on the radio news while driving that the job is so large that they expect up to 20,000 homes to remain without power over the weekend. It was incredible seeing so many destroyed trees.

At home I’ve been working on a new 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe post, but it won’t be ready today – hopefully tomorrow.

New content today:

Ethics of eating animals, round-up

This morning was the last lesson of the current Ethics topic on whether it’s okay to kill and eat animals. Since most of the kids missed last week’s lesson when we went through arguments that it was okay, I did a quick recap of those arguments, before launching into today’s lesson on arguments why it’s not okay. It went fairly well, with fewer interruptions and blurting out, and more kids putting their hands up to speak, so we had a good discussion of the topic.

At one point the very quiet girl (who I’ve mentioned before) put her hand up and I noticed it – but I was busy quelling some diverging discussion between a couple of other kids. One had started talking about how vegetarians are hypocrites because plants are living things too and have feelings and feel pain, and then another kid interrupted and said no they don’t, and then the two of them were talking at once and I had to step in and quieten them both down. I said that we weren’t discussing plants, we were discussing animals, and to stick to the topic. Then I turned to the quiet girl and she had her hand down, but I asked her anyway if she had something she wanted to say – because I want to encourage her to speak whenever I can. She said, “No, it was about plants.”

My pleasure at seeing her raise her hand was somewhat deflated. But after the class, she hung around because this was her regular classroom. She always helps me put the furniture back from the circle of chairs to the regular desk layout. As we were doing this, I asked her what she was going to say during the lesson. She said that leaves of plants can die, so they’re definitely alive. Okay, it wasn’t that profound, but I was happy that she’d raised her hand, and that after the class I’d followed up and encouraged her to talk. I only have two more lessons with this group of kids, and this girl is the one I hope the most turns out to have a good life ahead of her. And that in some small way my teaching her helps lead to that. I mean, I hope all the kids do well, but I think this girl will need a bit more luck than most of the others, and I hope she gets it.

I’d walked to the school, and I took a longer route home, via the hardware store again to buy some garden stakes, because after yesterday’s repotting our chilli plant was leaning a bit, and I wanted to stake and tie it to keep it vertical. Along the way I passed a kitchen supply shop and decided to poke my nose in to browse around a bit, since I’d never been in there. It’s way bigger than I expected, and full of all sorts of fascinating gadgets, as well as cookware and tableware, and some other stuff on the extreme fringes of things related to food preparation and service.

As I walked home through the grounds of Royal North Shore Hospital, I saw that a whole tree had been uprooted and blown over, probably by yesterday’s storm.

At home, I spent the afternoon writing some Darths & Droids strips. Oh, and doing a bit more housecleaning – the job that never ends! And tonight played a couple of games of Codenames Duet with my wife. We managed to win both by the skin of our teeth, phew!

New content today:

Fire and Ice

Today I planned to do another 5k run in the morning, but when I got up more bushfire smoke had blown in overnight, and the air was pretty awful to breathe. It was bad enough going outside for a couple of minutes – I didn’t want to be out running around and inhaling deeply, so I abandoned the exercise plan. This smoke is still being blown across Sydney from the large fires burning in bushland north-west of the city.

By lunchtime the day had warmed up a lot. And then the weather turned. It got very dark, and there was a lot of thunder. And then as I was watching through the glass balcony door, there was a sudden huge gust of wind, and a spray of water smashed into the glass, as if someone had thrown a large bucket of water at it. My chilli plant was blown off the table on the balcony and smashed to the floor, scattering soil everywhere. Hailstones clattered on the bricks and tiles.

And then a minute later it all stopped. 15 minutes later and the sun was out again. It was the most incredible blast of storm, lasting only a short time, but in that time it certainly packed a punch. It was part of a line of storms that left a swathe of destruction across Sydney. The highest recorded wind gusts were 96 km/h. In some suburbs, multiple trees were toppled, destroying several houses and cars, and bringing down power lines, leaving over 50,000 houses without power. Fortunately nobody was killed, although it could easily have happened. Here’s a news story about the storm.

The damage at my place was limited to my poor chilli plant. Once the storm had passed, I went out to the hardware store to buy some potting mix, so I could repot the plant. After doing that, I had to clean up all the spilt soil, from all over our outdoor furniture and the balcony floor. Overall, including the time to go to the hardware store, I spent about 4 hours cleaning up the mess caused by the storm.

New content today:

Report writing

Today was a working day. I needed to write a report on my recent trip to Germany for the ISO Photography standards meeting in Cologne. Standards Australia requires a meeting report, and I also need to prepare notes for a follow-up meeting with photography experts here in Australia, to report on what was discussed in Germany. Part of the meeting outcomes was a plan to host a meeting in Sydney in February 2021, which we now need to begin planning.

So I spent most of the day writing that report. Later in the afternoon we had a big thunderstorm crash through Sydney, although we only caught the edge of it and didn’t see a lot of rain, but we certainly got a lot of lightning and thunder. We have more storms forecast for tomorrow. It’s good to get some rain, although it’s not clear if it’ll make much difference to the current drought. Sydney goes onto Level 2 water restrictions in a couple of weeks, because our dams continue to dry up.

New content today:

Christmas market

This morning I did a bunch of house cleaning. This afternoon, my wife wanted to go check out the Sustainable Christmas Artisans’ Market, a new twilight market held at the Coal Loader, a historical industrial site near my place, now converted into a public facility.

We walked over about 4pm – according to my walk tracking app the return walk totalled just over 5 kilometres. Fortunately today was overcast and not too hot, although it was pretty humid. As we approached the market, there were streams of people walking form the nearest railway station, as well as cars choking the streets, seeking elusive parking spots. We realised it was going to be busy.

Coal Loader market

Although there were a lot of people there, the market was spread out in a large area, so it wasn’t too crowded. They had some food vans and a bar set up, with some seating in the middle for people to eat and drink, with the stalls set up around the perimeter of the space. Several people had brought their dogs, so Scully got to say hello to a few, including Norman, another black poodle who we’ve met a few times in a park near our place.

It was the sort of market that has stalls selling giant pepper grinders, hand-turned from native Australian woods:

Grinders

The Coal Loader is in a nice location, on the side of a cliff overlooking the inner harbour:

Christmas market

Well, the water is behind the row of stalls! We bought a Christmas present for Scully – a new lead, with a cool Pac-Man design (although I suspect she’s too young to know Pac-Man). There was also a stall selling syrups and marmalades made from native fruits – I got a couple of bottles of cocktail mixer syrup: native lime, and riberry.

The walk back home was pleasant, in the cooler evening air, although uphill a lot of the way.

New content today:

Delta Dog training

Last night was fortnightly games night with the guys. We played Azul: Summer Pavilion, which I picked up last weekend:

Azul: Summer Pavilion

And Deep Blue, one of the games I got in Essen:

Deep Blue

I didn’t win either game, alas.

But on to today: After Scully passed her Delta therapy dogs exam last weekend, my wife had her training scheduled today. The training is for human handlers only, so I had to look after Scully for the day.

We dropped my wife off at the training place before 9am this morning, and then Scully and I drove back home. She was a bit distracted on the trip, and kept putting her front paws on the armrest console, thus activating various buttons. She does this occasionally when in the car with just a driver. She can turn the radio on and off, change the station, one time she set up a new favourite station. Today she managed to activate the satnav and store a new favourite address!

Back home, she relaxed in her dog bed while I made a new Darths & Droids strip. We went out for a bit of fresh air in the park across the street, and then it was time to go get some lunch. We drove back to a bakery near where my wife was training, and I got some pies for lunch. We walked over to a nearby park where Scully could run around and chase a tennis ball. The park is on a slope running down to Drummoyne Oval, where a grade cricket match was in progress.

Watching cricket at Drummoyne Oval

At one point I tossed the ball, and it rolled down the hill with Scully chasing it… but she’s not a terribly agile dog like some others, and generally has to wait for the ball to roll to a stop before she can pick it up. I could see what was going to happen and ran after her, but by the time we got to the bottom of the hill, the ball had rolled under the fence and into the cricket ground. I could see it, some 10 metres inside the fence. So we had to walk around the outer fence to find a gate that was open, and then go inside the spectator area, and walk around the edge of the playing field while the game was in progress, to retrieve her ball. Fortunately grade cricket matches don’t charge admission for spectators, so we could get in and out without any trouble.

After an hour of playing in the park, we went to pick up my wife. Her training went fine, and she’s selected some hospitals near us that she’d like to visit with Scully as part of the Delta program. They won’t start until early next year, but she’s pretty excited.

New content today:

Golfing

Today’s post is going to be a bit self-indulgent, so I hope that’s okay! I played my postponed round of golf this morning – it was my very first time on a “proper” golf course. All my learning and practice so far has been on the Terry Hills “Pitch and Putt” course that I wrote about a couple of months ago.

This morning I went to Lane Cove Golf Club, which is the nearest golf course to where I live. It’s not a full length course, having only 9 holes with a mix of par 3 and 4. If you play it twice, the 18 holes have a par 64 for the course. But it was still a daunting step up for me, who had never hit a driver before apart from a few times at the driving range last time I played with Andrew.

I started at hole 1, and two other guys appeared behind me, waiting their turn. Under the pressure of them watching, I messed up my tee shot, and so invited them to play ahead of me. They were friendly and agreed to go ahead, and I felt a lot better following them than having someone behind me the whole time.

Here’s the par 3 hole 3, an uphill hole, with my ball waiting to be hit at the bottom:

Hole 3, par 3

I hit my tee shot pretty well! Here’s where it landed:

Hole 3, par 3, tee shot

From here I pitched onto the green, but needed 3 putts to sink it, so I scored a 5. As I approached the green, the guys ahead of me were preparing to tee off on hole 4, adjacent. They asked me how I was going so far, and I said okay. They said, “Wait until you get to this next one!” I looked at it:

Hole 4, par 3

Whoa! Now that probably doesn’t look too hard for an experienced golfer, but to me that wooded gully was very intimidating. I couldn’t get away with a flubbed stroke searing along the grass – I had to hit a nice lofted shot through the air. With the pressure on, I lost two balls into the gully! My third attempt cleared it, thankfully, but rolled back down that hill on the other side, and I had to drop a ball. Oh well – better luck next time.

The 6th hole presented another interesting problem:

Hole 6, par 3

It’s downhill, and pretty short. If you hit too far, you’ll go over the green and into the bush there. So I deliberately tried to hit short. My shot landed on the slope leading down to the green and rolled….

Hole 6, par 3

Right onto the green! Yay!! That was one of my best shots of the day. Unfortunately, it was a very long putt, and I needed 3 putts to sink it, but that got me a bogey, which I’m fairly pleased with. Hole 7, on the other hand, was a disaster:

Hole 7, par 4

My first attempt at teeing off hit the trees on the right. I tried again, and went into the bush on the left. Finally my third shot went down the fairway. But not very far. I ended up taking 12 shots to finish this hole. And here’s the 9th hole:

Hole 9, par 4

I did well on this one. My first shot went down the fairway, and my second shot ended up right next to the green. I pitched once, and putted it in 2, for a total of 5, my second bogey of the day.

I stopped after 9 holes, with a total of 64, exactly twice the par for 9 holes (of 32). I don’t think that’s too bad for my very first go on a “big” course!

Phew! And tonight is fortnightly games night with the guys – I’ll be leaving home soon and queuing this post for automatic posting later tonight.

New content today: