A new week of work from home

The morning began with a dash to my wife’s work to retrieve her office chair. After last week working from home, she realised that using a dining table chair wasn’t good for her posture, so we had to go in and get the office chair. The rain complicated things slightly, as did the fact that we couldn’t fit the chair in the car without leaving a passenger out, so she had to walk home with Scully.

Once home, I dedicated the day to writing and making new Darths & Droids comic. And that was about it, really. I made pasta for dinner, wth pumpkin and walnuts… that was good.

New content today:

More walking and baking

For today’s exercise, my wife and I took Scully on a walk down to the local golf course, and then through a bushwalk along Gore Creek.

Scully at Gore Creek

It leads to Bob Campbell Oval, a cricket/soccer field near the water.

Scully at Bob Campbell Oval

From here you have to climb The Stairs of Cirith Ungol to get back to my place.

Scully on the Stairs of Cirith Ungol

At home, we were out of bread. Rather than go shopping, I made some damper! This is beer damper, made with 3 cups of self raising flour, a bottle of beer, a pinch of salt… and that’s it! Mix and bake for 30 minutes at 190°C. It turned out really nice.

Beer Damper

This afternoon I played some games with my wife. We played Azul.

Azul

And then Walking in Burano.

Walking in Burano.

New content today:

Patricia Trail and banana bread

It’s Saturday, so although she’s been working from home all week, today my wife had some spare time during the day. So we took a bit of a trip, choosing something to do that wouldn’t involve encountering any people, to respect the coronavirus distancing rules.

I wanted to find somewhere where we could do a bit of walking through some bushland, with Scully. Unfortunately for this plan, dogs are forbidden from National Parks. However, I found that there are some Regional Parks which allow dogs, and there are a few within Sydney. So we set out for the Berowra Valley Regional Park, and in particular the area accessed from the northern end of the suburb of Cherrybrook. Here there is a walking track through the park where dogs are allowed.

Scully on Patricia Trail

The track led through thickly grown forest and undergrowth, but the path was easy enough to follow. Although it was a bit muddy in places from the recent rain this week, and there was also a bit of grass growing on the path.

Scully on Patricia Trail

After completing the track, we did a loop back to where we’d parked the car, walking along the quiet suburban streets. We only saw a few people out and about – it was a lot quieter than the area where we live.

Back home I decided to bake some banana bread.

Home made banana bread

We don’t do a lot of baking, but with the purchasing of a few weeks of non-perishable foodstuffs we suddenly have plenty of flour in the house, so I figured I’d make use of a couple of old bananas. I used a simple recipe found online.

Home made banana bread

It turned out fairly good. Nice flavour, maybe a little denser than commercially produced banana bread. My wife had a slice with yoghurt and honey on top.

Home made banana bread

New content today:

Virtual walking

Today was the end of the working from home week for my wife. She said the week had gone quickly, being hectic with plenty to do.

This morning I finished off the work on the new 100 Proofs That the Earth is a Globe entry, and posted it. Then I went for another long walk to get out in the fresh air and get some exercise.

Berry Island lookout

I went down to Berry Island, which is a tied island in Sydney Harbour. I took a lot of photos on this walk, and rather than upload everything to Flickr and format them here into this entry, I’m just going to link to this Imgur album, which has plenty of photos with detailed commentary.

Tonight we were supposed to have our fortnightly games night gathering, but with the coronavirus social distancing we’ve converted to a virtual games night, using the Board Game Arena online platform for playing board games. I’m actually in the middle of playing games with my friends as I type, in combination with a Discord voice chat, and it’s working really well. So far we’ve played 6 Nimmt, Perudo, Colt Express, and Niagara.

New content today:

Proof writing

I spent most of today writing the next entry for 100 Proofs That The Earth is a Globe. I’ve almost finished it, but I won’t be able to post it tonight, so it’ll go up tomorrow.

The other big news is that today is Scully’s second birthday!

Scully's 2nd birthday

She got a cool new toy from Luna (the poodle next door) – a combo plush/rubber duck, and she had fun all day chewing it into little pieces…

I also did a big grocery shop today. We’re converting from 3 or 4 shops a week to try and stick to just one, as part of social distancing to avoid spreading/catching coronavirus. The supermarket was not busy, but they were still out of toilet paper and flour. I would like to get some breadmaking flour, to try some bread baking at home, but oh well. Maybe next time. We have plenty of everything else we need.

New content today:

Report writing

I had some boring work and work-like tasks today. Firstly I had to contact the gas company about our latest gas bill, which arrived yesterday. Normally the bills are around $100, but this one was almost $800. I checked previous bills, which listed the meter readings for our gas hot water meter.

  • Third previous bill: start 3874.04, end 3969.92, units used: 95.88
  • Second previous bill: start 3969.92, end 4175.98, units used: 206.06
  • Previous bill: start 170, end 198.22, units used: 28.22
  • This bill: start 171, end 4480.96, units used: 4309.96

🤔

It took me a little while to get through the phone menu system and talk to a person at the gas company. I explained there was an error in the bill, and asked them to look at the hot water meter readings for the past four bills. The woman on the other end put me on hold for a minute, then came back. “Oh yes, I can see what the problem is! We’ll cancel your bill, correct the error, and issue a new bill.” So hopefully the replacement bill will be correct. It may be slightly larger than normal since we were most likely undercharged in the last bill, although not by a huge amount.

The next bureaucracy I had to deal with was registering for the Australian Government’s announced coronavirus financial aid, which I believe covers me because I’ve previously registered as a self-employed person and I’m losing income due to my market stalls being cancelled. There are some eligibility criteria to be worked through, but I think I should be eligible. The main thing was registering an “intent to claim” as soon as possible, so that payments can be backdated once the whole procedure (which could take weeks given the load on Australia’s welfare system) is worked through. I tried to do this yesterday, but the phone line just hung up on me when I rang. Today they released an online registration portal, and I managed to use that okay.

And then I got stuck into some really juicy work – writing my report on the ISO photography standards meeting ostensibly held in Yokohama that I attended by videoconference last month. I have to submit a report to Standards Australia, summarising all the key technical discussions and items of interest to the Australian photographic community. One main one is that we’re planning to host a meeting in February 2021 in Sydney. Assuming we’re back to physical meetings by then…

The next scheduled meeting is in New York City in June, but that’s already been converted to another virtual online meeting. I was planning to travel to New York in June for this meeting, but that’s now not going to happen. Instead I’ll have to stay awake for a 9am-6pm meeting held in New York’s time zone – which equates to 11pm to 8am in Sydney. As someone who is decidedly not a night owl, that is pretty much the absolute worst possible timing for me. Roughly 10:30pm to 6:30am is my normal sleep cycle. So it’ll be pretty rough.

Anyway, I trawled through my meeting notes, the offical minutes, and all of the presentations given during the Yokohama meeting, and assembled my report, which took up most of the rest of the day.

New content today:

Another big walk

I went for a longer walk today, to get out of the house a bit and enjoy the fresh air – and also give my wife time to do her work alone in the house (with Scully). I avoided busy places and took to suburban back streets, heading in roughly the opposite direction to yesterday.

Steps into the gully

These steps lead to the suburb of Waverton. The terrain around where I live is, as I may have said before, very hilly.

Newlands Lane

The steps lead down into this forested gully, with a walking path leading up it. However I climbed another set of steps up the opposite side.

Terraces

In this part of Sydney there are a lot of Victorian era terrace houses, with lovely restored wrought iron railings and decorative filigree in well-maintained versions, such as these.

Near boatbuilders

I walked through Waverton to the adjacent suburb of McMahons Point, and then down to the shore of Sydney Harbour. This is Berrys Bay, a small bay on the harbour. The water is clear and you can see oysters growing on the rocks below. I walked around the shoreline to the left.

Berrys Bay walkway

This cool little walkway joins two small promontories of public land, skirting around a bit of the shore where private property goes right down to the waterline.

Sawmillers panorama

It leads to Sawmillers Reserve, a secluded green space on the water, with a view across the harbour to the city skyline (visible on the left side of this panorama).

MSB hopper barge wreck

Just off the shore is the wreck of a Maritime Services Board hopper barge, which I presume was used to transport lumber from the old historic sawmill that used to occupy this location on the shore (and gave the Reserve its current name).

Blues Point Hotel

From Sawmillers Reserve, I walked uphill to Blues Point Road, and the Art Deco Blues Point Hotel, another the many Art Deco pubs dotted around Sydney.

Sandstone cottage

There’s even older architecture around here too, such as this old sandstone cottage, which is still in use as somebody’s home. About here I turned around to walk back home. In all I was out walking for close to two hours.

At home I spent the afternoon catching up on ISO standards work, downloading bunches of reports and presentations from the last meeting, ostensibly in Yokohama, but held virtually. Tomorrow I plan to write up my report on the meeting for Standards Australia.

New content today:

Working from home

My wife started working from home today, as part of Sydney’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means both her and Scully are home during the working week (since she normally takes Scully to the office with her – Scully is much loved as the office dog), when I’m normally here by myself. It’s a bit of a change, but it wasn’t too bad. We mostly kind of ignored each other as we went about our business, so as not to disturb one another.

At one point I went for a walk to get out and stretch my legs in the sunshine. I walked over to the suburb of Greenwich, where I spotted this cool home-made climbing tree for kids.

Suburban play gear

I walked down to the water, at Bay Street Wharf:

Greenwich wharf

And across to the adjacent Bayview Park, where someone has their seaplane berthed:

Bayview dinghies

And here’s a view of the park, looking down to the water. Pretty nice!

Bayview Park

Apart from the walk, I mostly worked on Darths & Droids comics today – coming up with strip titles and editing HTML code and stuff. In between keeping up to date with all the massive changes around here to deal with COVID-19.

New content today:

Darths & Droids: Episode VII

Today’s the big day! After a considerable delay, the first comic strip of Darths & Droids‘ treatment of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens begins! We’ve been working towards this for literally years now, so it’s good to get it underway.

But that comic strip was produced a couple of weeks ago. Today mostly I did two things: house cleaning, and keeping up with the multiple press conferences by the Australian Prime Minister and New South Wales Premier on updates regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. Firstly, though, I got a nice sleep in as Scully slept through the night without any sneezing waking us us. So that was good – I needed that sleep.

I cleaned the garage a bit, to make room for all of my market stall equipment: stock of greeting cards, large mounted prints, a couple of easels for displaying prints, and various miscellaneous gear such as receipt books, string, display stands, crates, and so on. I figured with no more market stalls for the foreseeable future, there’s no need to keep all this stuff handy, and I could pack it away for a while to clear up some room in the house. I cleared away a bunch of other clutter as well, and also washed down the balcony, allowing me and my wife to eat dinner outside tonight.

In news terms, it’s been a big day here in Australia, with the most drastic measures now being announced for shutting down businesses and movements of people to attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus. Basically all non-essential services are shut down from midday tomorrow, including: pubs, clubs, gyms, cinemas, theatres, church services – and restaurants and cafes are restricted to take-away service only. Schools however remain open, which is attracting growing criticism from pretty much everywhere. It’s going to be a long and interesting week.

New content today:

Up for the sunrise

Scully woke us up early again, this time at 04:00. Normally she just sleeps through the night until we get up, but not the past few nights. She didn’t sneeze, but was a bit congested. I took her outside for a toilet, which took ages, and got in a bit after 04:30. Scully and my wife went back to sleep, but now I was wide awake again.

I decided to make the most of it and do another sunrise photography session.

Poodle rock

This time I went to North Curl Curl, where there is an ocean pool on a rock shelf, just east of the surf life saving club.

North Curl Curl pool, dawn

I got there well before sunrise, and there was a thin crescent moon in the sky, above where the sun would appear. And yes, as the above photo shows, there is a large rock in the middle of the swimming pool.

Division of water

The pool is separated from the ocean by a concrete wall. The tide was approaching high for the day, and at this time occasional waves crash over the wall and into the pool. The above photo is a long exposure, and the dark patch in the pool on the left is a swimmer.

Heron breakfast time

A white-faced heron flew onto the rock shelf next to the pool, and as I watched it fished a small crab out of the water to eat. I wasn’t quick enough to a get a photo of it eating the crab.

Three worlds

A few minutes later the sun appeared on the horizon and climbed up into the sky. It goes from dark to light really quickly in Sydney.

Dawn laps

Just a few minutes later I had the camera off the tripod and was taking hand-held shots of swimmers in the pool.

Morning swim class

And not long after that about 50 kids arrived for some sort of swimming class. They all did a few laps of the pool and then ran off again.

With the sunrise done, I headed home to process the photos. This was interrupted only by taking Scully to the vet to have her congestion looked at. We have some medication to give her to get her feeling 100% again. Hopefully tonight she’ll sleep through… and I can get a decent night’s sleep.

New content today: