Chore Monday

My weekly grocery shopping seems to have migrated to Monday. I did an expedition this morning, and fir the first time I wore a facemask, after the supermarket issued a notice saying that they encouraged customers to wear masks while shopping. The COVID situation here in Sydney is not too bad at the moment, and masks have not really been common up to now, but with infections rampant in Melbourne and a stubborn few cases in Sydney, people have just been starting to take up wearing them in the last week or so.

After bringing the shopping home, I needed to get a package ready and then go up to the post office to mail it.

Then this afternoon I took Scully to the dog park. I believe I’ve mentioned before that other people who bring their dogs to the local park include Trent Zimmerman, federal MP for North Sydney, and former NSW Supreme Court Justice James Wood. Today I learnt that one of the women who frequently attends is the previous North Sydney Mayor (1995-2012) Genia McCaffery. Oh, and I don’t think I mentioned it, but another person who attends is TV journalist Ray Martin. I wonder if all dog parks attract so many people who are in the public eye.

New content today:

Solo Sunday

Solo Sunday in more ways than one. My wife took Scully and went to visit her mum today, and I used the time to sit down and rewatch Solo (a Star Wars story), in preparation for starting planning on converting it into a Darths & Droids story. Yes, we’re planning ahead that far now. I think it’s only my third time watching it through, and there were several plot points I’d forgotten about, so I’m glad I did it.

This evening I had a cooking emergency, precipitated by my habitual lack of mise en place (as mentioned in the last new Irregular Webcomic!). I started boiling up some pasta, intending to just throw some pesto from a jar onto it. The pasta was boiling away, when I went to the fridge to grab the pesto… and there was none. And no spare jar in the pantry (where there is usually a spare).

So suddenly I had 10 minutes to make a pasta sauce/topping. And working with the constraints that I’m currently on a restricted diet in preparation for a colonoscopy in a few days – no seeds, and nothing coloured red. So no tomatoes.

I quickly went into a cooking frenzy, chopping broccoli into tiny florets, frying it up in olive oil, adding pine nuts, fresh garlic, chili, and then shaving some parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top once it was done. I also added a squirt of lemon juice once it was all prepared and served. It turned out pretty well! Phew. Another triumph for No-mise-en-place-man!

In other news, I got an email from the organisers of the market where I have my stall, selling photography print. They have cancelled the markets for August and September (which would have been three markets), due to caution over COVID cases in Sydney. So that’s another two months without any face-to-face selling income or handing out business cards.

New content today:

Into August

This fine Saturday morning my wife and I took Scully on a long walk, dong a 5 kilometre loop from our place, past our favourite bakery where we got some sourdough bread. Scully got to meet a lot of dogs today, and we did some ball throwing and chasing down by the marina. A lot of people were out walking this morning, enjoying the sunshine.

It’s the first day of August and flowers are appearing all over the place. The magnolias started a few weeks ago, but now azaleas are coming out, and I expect cherry blossoms will be along soon. It really feels like the worst of winter is over and things are warming up for spring.

Back home, it was housework day, with vacuuming and cleaning the bathroom and shower to be done. I also checked on the car floor mats that I washed yesterday. They’ve been drying for over 24 hours now and they’re still noticeably wet. I’m hoping they’ll finally dry out overnight so we can put them back in the car tomorrow before my wife needs to use it.

This evening we watched another episode of the new Doctor Who‘s 9th season.It’s been so long that I only have vague memories of the episodes and can’t remember how the story unfolded, so it’s almost as good as watching it unspoiled.

New content today:

Late Games Night post

It’s Saturday morning already and this is a catch-up post for last night, when it was our fortnightly board games night. Again we played virtually, using Board Game Arena to begin with. I played games of Kingdomino, Downforce, 7 Wonders (several games), and 6 Nimmt, before we moved on to skribbl.io, which is essentially an online version of Pictionary. I didn’t win any of the games – which is pretty usual for me as some of my friends are much more competitive and thus motivated to be a lot more careful with their strategy. I did come second in one game of 7 Wonders, which I’m happy with.

On Friday morning I had a Zoom meeting with Standards Australia for the follow-up to the ISO Photography meeting I had back in June. This is to brief the Australian photography experts on what happened during the (virtual) New York meeting, as well as to deal with some local Australian photography standards business (such as officially adopting recent ISO amendments, etc).

After that I took Scully for a walk to the fish & chips shop, to get myself some fish & chips for lunch. Then I spent the afternoon cleaning the car after last weekend’s road trip. Since it rained heavily, and we had Scully in and out of the car, it was pretty dirty, with mud in various places inside the car, as well as on the exterior. For the first time I actually removed the floor mats and washed them with detergent and hosed them off.

And in other news, a COVID alert was issued for my local supermarket, for anyone who shopped there between 10:30 and 11am on Monday. I shopped there on Monday morning, and I was there around 10:30, although I can’t remember if I’d left before 10:30 or was there for a few minutes afterwards. So it’s possible I was there at the same time as someone who has since tested positive. Official advice is that the risk of transmission is low, and to monitor for symptoms, but not to self-isolate and test immediately. Still, it’s too close to home, and a bit scary.

New content today:

Running improvement

Today I mailed off some original artwork from Planet of Hats to a reader who was keen to buy one of the comics. Thanks to that reader!

At lunch time I forced myself to go do another 5k run, having managed it on the last three Thursdays. This time I started at a bit of a faster pace for a couple of laps before settling into a steady rhythm. I’m still really having to push myself to keep going around the halfway mark and the second half is a real struggle, but I managed to finish and recorded a time of 27:01, 51 seconds faster than last week!

5k run times

I plotted my times for the past 4 weeks on a graph and showed my friends. One of them, who has been doing all sorts of curve fitting to local COVID data lately, analysed the trend and told me that in another 8 months I should be able to run 5 kilometres in zero time. I’m really looking forward to after that point, when if I need some extra time to do things I can go for a run and gain some time back.

Hmm… I just learnt now, as I was typing this, that a COVID positive person visited my local supermarket on Monday, between 10:30 and 11am, and an alert has been issued for anyone shopping there during this time to monitor for symptoms. I went shopping there on Monday morning – although I’m pretty sure I’d left by 10:30. Yikes! They’re saying the risk is low – they have not issued a “self-isolate and get tested” order.

New content today:

Human rights in ethics

This morning I had my second Ethics class since resuming last week. I was planning to use name tags for the kids again, since I haven’t quite learnt all their names yet, but I discovered that I didn’t have enough left for all the class. Rather than give some of them tags and some not, I decided to just not use them and see how I went. I went around the class and marked the roll, managing to name most of the kids correctly, and I paid attention to the ones I couldn’t to try and remember them for next week.

When I arrived before the class, there were a few teachers sitting in my classroom. Normally they have a staff meeting on Wednesday morning, in the staffroom. But today they were doing it in a socially distanced manner, with a few teachers spread out in some classrooms, talking via Zoom or some such conferencing system. While this is good, it meant I couldn’t get into the room to set up the chairs for my class until the bell rang and the teachers left. So it was a bit of a rush getting set up and started.

We continued talking about animal rights from last week, although today the focus was on human rights, as a comparison. We discussed whether people should have rights to food and shelter, being able to go out without fear of being attacked, education, to socialise with friends, and other things. We brought it back to animals with the question of whether people have a right to be able to swim in the ocean safely, versus whether sharks have a right to live without being killed by people. This sets up the conflict between human and animals rights that we’ll be discussing next week. The kids were better behaved today and we had a good discussion, so that was really good.

This afternoon I dedicated to writing a new Proof the Earth is a Globe. I’m almost finished, but it will take a bit more work tomorrow to polish it off and post it.

New content today:

Some photos from my weekend trip

This morning I processed several of the photos I took on my weekend trip to Mudgee. Most of them are of birds.

Here’s a face-off between an Australian raven and a magpie-lark:

Australian raven vs Magpie-lark

A black swan:

Black swan

A red-browed finch:

Red-browed finch

And I think the shot of the trip, a crested pigeon:

Crested pigeon

This afternoon I worked on some Darths & Droids comics, both writing and assembling. I also took Scully out to the park to play with other dogs for a bit. Thankfully the rain eased off this morning – we got a lot of rain over the past three days, making this the wettest July in Sydney for the past eight years, according to tonight’s news.

New content today:

Back to work after the weekend away…

Scully was so exhausted after our weekend trip that she basically slept all evening and solidly all through the night – which was good because that meant my wife and I got a good night’s sleep too.

Monday dawned cold and wet. It’s been raining heavily here in Sydney, and there are several flooding incidents around the city and the surrounding region. The rain hasn’t let up all day, and we’re in for more overnight and tomorrow.

After doing some grocery shopping in the morning, I spent most of the day assembling Irregular Webcomic! strips and then writing annotations for them, to complete this latest batch of comics. After doing that I had a bit of time to go through photos I took on the weekend trip. I’ve identified all the birds I took photos of, and am quite amazed that I got photos of three new species I hadn’t photographed before, so that’s pretty good!

New content today:

Weekend away, day 3

Scully slept better last night in our motel room. I think the rain helped, as the sound drowned out a lot of the minor noises that kept distracting throughout her the previous night.

The rain held off for the evening, and my wife and I went out to a nice restaurant on one of the nearby winery estates. We’ve been here once before and really enjoyed both the food and the atmosphere, so made sure to rebook it for this trip. They said over the phone that us bringing Scully would be fine, but I wasn’t sure if we’d need to sit outdoors – I think they mentioned something about a private room. When we got there, it was sprinkling very lightly. I said we had a booking and had informed them we’d be bringing our dog. They showed us straight into the main dining room and gave us a table in the corner!

Now, I’m pretty sure that restaurants here aren’t allowed to have animals (other than assistance dogs) in indoor food serving areas, but we weren’t about to point that out, and nobody seemed to mind at all. The diners at the tables nearest us were delighted and waved at Scully and scratched her when she wandered over (on leash, but she had enough room to move around a little). So we were nice and warm inside, and enjoyed a most wonderful meal. This place does a five course fixed menu, which changes daily, using a lot of ingredients they grow on their own property, and sourcing other ingredients from local farms.

This morning we got up and went to a cafe for breakfast, before packing the car and checking out of the motel. It had rained very heavily overnight, but stopped while we were having breakfast. It started up again by the time we were packing the car, and then got heavier as we drove off, heading home.

We took a different route for the first part of the trip, through a couple of small towns along a longer road that we hadn’t driven along before. It was nice to see the towns, but it was raining fairly heavily when we were there, and it was also very cold, so we couldn’t fully appreciate the scenery and historic buildings. We stopped for lunch in Lithgow, just the western side of the Blue Mountains, and then drove straight through form there to home, through heavy rain.

It was a good trip, and the rain wasn’t nearly as bad as forecast for Saturday, but it did hamper us a bit today. Scully’s glad to be home, however. After two days of being on the road in unfamiliar places and being on edge, she’s crashed and been sleeping most of the afternoon and evening since we got home.

New content today:

Weekend away, day 2

As it turned out, the weather wasn’t nearly as bad as forecast. The morning was clear and dry today. It only started raining about 1pm, and then it was only light and intermittent, although as we approach evening now it’s starting to set in a little heavier. But nothing like the torrential rain all day I was expecting.

We had a nice breakfast at the place where we would normally stay in town, but can’t this time because of having Scully with us. Then went to the Mudgee Honey Haven to buy some local honey, then to Baker Williams distillery to get some of their delicious butterscotch schnapps (I always pick up a bottle when we visit town), and to de Lusso winery to buy some wines, which they make from a range of rarer Italian grapes that are not commonly grown in Australia.

After that we went back into town to have lunch, at the Mudgee Brewing Company. We sat outside and it started to rain, but we had a large umbrella over the table and so were fine. After eating we walked around the centre of town, checking some shops, letting Scully run in the park a bit, and then going to a ceramics gallery where a local potter makes various things: bowls, plates, vases, cups, mugs, etc. We bought a couple of really beautifully glazed noodled bowls.

Scully had fun exploring Mudgee with us. Here she is at the Catholic church and the historic clock tower in the centre of town.

And checking out a roll of hay at Baker Williams Distillery.

Tonight we have our fancy dinner of the trip, at a restaurant out of town at one of the wineries. I think they said that they have a private room inside where we can bring Scully, which I’m hoping is right because it’ll be pretty cold sitting outside tonight!

New content today: When the update happens there’ll be new Irregular Webcomic! rerun annotation, Square Root of Minus Garfield, iToons, and Comments on a Postcard.