Here comes the rain again

It’s cold and it’s rainy. We had a good run of 7 days in a row without rain, but it’s back, and the forecast is rain for at least the next 7 days in a row.

It stopped late in the afternoon and I took Scully to the dog park to say hi to everyone, since we haven’t been there for a few weeks. But when time came to do the traditional walk at 4pm, drops began falling, and there was heavy rain incoming on the radar – and I’d neglected to bring an umbrella – so we beat a hasty retreat back to the car to head home.

I finished off the ethics of farming topic today. And I worked on some secret project stuff.

Tonight I have a Zoom meeting to discuss the agenda and dates of the upcoming ISO Photography standards meeting in Cologne. That begins at 11pm, so I need to stay up late. This will finalise the dates for the Cologne meeting, so I can then book hotels in Cologne and onward into the Netherlands following the meeting. It’s also to decide if we will actually have a face-to-face meeting or will convert it into an online virtual meeting, but I expect we’ll stay with the face-to-face.

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Mother’s Day pizza lunch

Today was Mother’s Day here in Australia…

(Which just reminded me to call my mother! Lucky I got to this before it was too late!)

For lunch we went to my mother-in-law’s place. My sister-in-law bought pizzas for everyone, so nobody had to cook, and we made choc-chip cookies last night to take over for sweets. It was a fairly small gathering, just seven of us, plus Scully.

That took up the afternoon, then I had some ethics classes this evening, so there’s not much more to say about today. It was a nice sunny day, but chilly. We’ve been enjoying the dry weather, but it looks like it’s going to turn rainy for the next week or so again.

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Game night and comics day

Friday was board games night with friends, and we had a face-to-face meet-up for the first time in ages, although only four of us could make it. Not having met for ages, there were brand new recently acquired games to try.

We played Libertalia first, a pirate themed game in which each player has a deck of cards numbered 1-40, each one representing a different crew member. A set of 6 of these are randomly selected and each player draws the same 6 cards in to their hands. Then each player selects a crew member simultaneously and reveals them all at once. The crew are ordered by number, and there is a Reputation track that acts as a tiebreaker – higher Reputation players sort higher.

The cards are the processed in increasing order, and each may have an ability that does something – such as modify the players Reputation, or modify the loot that each player will receive in the next step. The cards are then processed in decreasing order, with each player selecting an item of loot from a predetermined selection. Some cards also have abilities that trigger in this step, such providing a bonus for selecting a particular type of loot. Each player’s card then goes on their Ship (just an area of the table).


There is an in-between phase (“night”) when some cards have other abilities that do stuff. Then you repeat choosing a new crew member from your hand. This is done 4 times, leaving 2 unused crew in your hand.

Then it’s the next round, where more 6 more cards are selected and added to each players’ hand. So at this point each player has 6 of the same cards, plus 2 leftovers from the previous round, which may differ depending what they played. You play this round of 4 cards, and then you play a third round of another 4 cards.

Over the course of the game you accumulate various loot tokens, which are worth different amounts of points, and the most loot points wins!

The second game we played was a longer one: Ark Nova. This was a more complex game, in which each player manages a modern zoo, developing conservation programmes, and links to other zoos and to universities for research and stuff like that. It’s quite involved, with a lot of interlocking actions, resources, and scoring tracks.

Ark Nova

It took us about 3.5 hours to play the game, though being the first game it was slowed down by learning to play. The turns go by pretty quickly and smoothly once you get into it, so there isn’t much down time, and there’s plenty to do and plan out. By the end we were being pretty efficient.

Today I spent most of the day making Darths & Droids comics, and working some on the secret project.

Oh, and it was really cold today. Winter has definitely blown in.

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Old school apple turnover

Today was kind of a food day. For lunch I took Scully for along walk to one of the nice bakeries and I had a spinach and ricotta pastry. Then for lunch-dessert (that’s totally a thing) I had one of their apple turnovers. It was pretty much exactly the sort of thing you’d get in the 1970s as a kid, with piped whipped cream, oozing out of the seam where the folded pastry comes together. It was nostalgic and delicious.

For dinner, I found a Malaysian place near the university (where I was tutoring again tonight). I got a beef rendang with rice. It was okay, but I’ve had better. It was very filling though, so I was a bit stuffed during the tutorial class.

Otherwise today it was mostly the usual sort of stuff, an ethics class, making comics, some work on the ongoing secret project. Nothing too exciting to report.

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Ethics off the rails!

I did an online ethics class today that went completely off the rails. There was a new kid, from England, who was super talkative and kept bringing up extra points to every answer – often stuff that I’d planned to ask everyone later in the lesson. Rather than talk about farming, we ended up in a huge digression about whether we should force everyone to become vegetarians or not. Given the others were also keen to butt in on the topic and offer their own opinions, I just let it meander of its own accord for most of the lesson. It felt totally out of control and my lesson script went out the window, but it was fun, and we were still talking about interesting and ethical questions, so it was good in the end.

My sore back stiffened up again overnight, and it was painful turning over during the night. But again, it’s improved a lot during today. I got a better sleep, but hopefully tonight it won’t be as painful during the night.

I didn’t have my face-to-face ethics class at the school today, because New South Wales teachers held a strike today, seeking better pay and working conditions. They fully deserve it.

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And going to the physio

I had my physiotherapist appointment this morning for my sore back. It stiffened up again overnight, but wasn’t nearly as bad as the night before. I got a much better sleep and managed to get myself out of bed in the morning without too much pain.

The physio worked on my back for about 45 minutes and I felt significantly better after he’d loosened up the muscles and released tensions and whatever it is he actually does. I’ve been to this guy a few times over many years, and found him to be really good. Usually one visit is enough to make the movement freer and less painful, and then it improves rapidly over the next day or two. He also gave me a bunch of exercises to do some years ago, which I now do regularly to maintain my core strength and recover myself from minor strains.

Back home, I wrote my next week’s ethics lesson, on farming this time. I have a series of questions for the kids on the ethics of various types of crop agriculture, then we move on to farming animals, either for meat, or other products such as milk and eggs. In one of the classes there was a wide range of opinions from the kids, including “it’s fine to farm animals, because we need the meat”, “farming animals is cruel and we shouldn’t do it; we should hunt wild animals instead”, and “people should eat less meat so we don’t have to farm so many animals”. I suggested to the second kid we could eat less meat, but he said no, no, keep eating the same amount of meat, just hunt it all rather than farm it. I guess he hadn’t thought through the logistics of having to hunt for the amount of meat that we currently consume.

At lunch I took Scully for a walk up to the local shops and I had some Vietnamese fried rice from a “new” restaurant. I say “new” because I haven’t tried eating there before – it actually opened about 3 years ago, replacing a previous Cuban place that we quite liked.

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Back healing

The night was awful. I hardly slept, and my back was very painful every time I tried to move into a more comfortable position. It took some effort to get up out of bed, but once I was up and walking around things began to improve. By this afternoon I was walking mostly freely and feeling a lot better, able to sit and lie down briefly without problem.

Unfortunately I did some gentle stretches and I think I pulled something again, because it got worse. Not nearly as bad as yesterday, but it now feels like much of the progress during the day has been reversed.

I made an appointment at the physiotherapist, but they had no appointments today, so I’m going in at 9am tomorrow. At lunch I felt fairly good and went for a long walk with Scully and my wife to get some food, and to stretch out on a walk. It was good for my back as I felt pretty good after that.

Other than that, I pushed my way through teaching three online classes. And I guess not much else. A lot of pacing around and gently moving my back.

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Back pain

The bad news today is that I threw my back out. I’m limping around the house with a painful lower back strain, and hoping it will heal up over the next couple of days.

The stupidest things can set this sort of thing off. I decided today was a house cleaning day and started with vacuuming all the floors. Then I used to dust attachment to dust off the furniture and bookcases and stuff.

I found some more spots of mould that have been caused by the relentless high humidity here in Sydney, around some of the window frames and on some of the wooden furniture. So I attacked all those with mould killer. I checked out a closed cupboard area where I was storing some Magic: the Gathering cards to check if there was any mould in three. Thankfully it looked clean. But I decided to take a quick trip to the hardware store to buy some damp remover crystals to put in there to keep the humidity low.

I took Scully in the car for some time outside, and drove over to the hardware store. They let you take dogs inside, so it’s a good trip to do with her. Unfortunately, they were completely sold out of all the damp removal stuff – the basic tubs and the refills of the absorbent crystals. It seems everyone is Sydney is having damp/mould problems at the moment and they just can’t keep stock on shelves.

I walked with Scully back to the car park and thought we’d walk over next door to the home centre – a complex that has various furniture stores, bed and bathroom stuff, lighting, whitegoods, and so on. There’s a place there that sells storage containers, and I thought they might have some damp absorbers. But Scully was reluctant to walk that way and wanted to go back to the car, so I bent over to pick her up and carry her… and bam! My back tweaked and I knew I was in trouble.

It got sore so fast that I abandoned plans to go to the home centre and went straight back to the car with Scully. It took some effort to get into the car. I drove home, and tried to climb back out, and by now my back was really painful. I laid down on the floor to take pressure off it, and that helped a lot.

But when I tried to get back up again, I just couldn’t it hurt too much. Every way I tried to bend to get up from a prone position and stand up failed because I couldn’t bear the pain. I ended up lying on the floor for something over an hour while my wife fussed over me and asked if she could help. She got me some pain tablets, and ran to the pharmacy to get some topical gel for muscle strains.

Eventually I just had to grit my teeth and push myself up off the floor as suddenly as I could, to try to get into at least a kneeling position before the pain made me collapse back down again. I managed this, but boy did it hurt. Once kneeling, I managed to stand up and walk around, and that felt better. That was about 6 hours ago now, and I’m managing to stand and sit okay. It hurts, but it’s not excruciating like when I was on the floor.

I’ve had this happen a couple of times before, and seen a physiotherapist to fix it up. I know what stretches I need to do to help it get better, which help when I get milder back pain. It’ll probably stiffen up overnight, so I’ll see how it is tomorrow morning, and will try to get a physio appointment. It tends to stiffen up overnight, and then ease during the day as I move around.

Anyway. That was my day.

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New pastry

Friday was online games night, so I neglected to write a blog post. There’s not a lot to say anyway – I’ve bene busy working on my secret project and doing online ethics classes.

I’ve also been organising a visit to my aunt, who is in a nursing home in Germany. We have some time before my ISO meetings in Cologne to visit W├╝rzburg, where my aunt lives. I got contact details of the nursing home from my cousin and emailed to see if we could visit. They wrote back saying it would be fine, but there are some COVID safety rules we need to follow, including getting a test before going there. So I’ve been looking at where we can do that, as well as booking a hotel. I also need to work out train trips from the airport and so on.

Tonight for dinner I made quiche. I’ve been making the pastry using plain flour, but a few days ago I happened to see a Jamie Oliver cooking show where he was making pastry, and he said to use strong flour. So today I tried making it with bread flour. The pastry ended up less crumbly and held together better. I think it was a better result for quiche, whereas the plain flour one would be better for a fruit tart or something where you want a crumblier pastry.

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Almost too late for an update

I got home late from my university teaching class tonight, and want to go to bed.

My train home skipped my stop, despite the display board on the platform when I boarded saying it would stop there. So I had to walk back home from the next station, which is a longer walk.

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