Spring Cleaning, part 1

Today was a very busy day.

I started with Ethics class. Normally I walk to the school – it’s a good solid walk and takes over half an hour to get there. And then on the way home I usually take a different route for variety, and end up walking a longer distance and so taking a longer time to get home. But today I knew I wanted to get a lot done, so I chose to drive there and back.

The class was… mixed. We were discussing beliefs, and whether people should be entitled to believe what they want, even if it’s harmful, either to themselves or to others. The main story was about some kids discussing smoking, and one of them says they don’t see anything wrong with it, because their grandmother has smoked all her life and is fine, and that she might try it herself when she gets older. We discussed if this girl is entitled to believe this, if her belief should be respected, or tolerated, and if she should be allowed to write an article in the school newsletter promoting her belief. The discussion was interesting, but… it was disrupted a lot by two unruly kids today. These two have been behaving poorly in every class, sometimes better sometimes worse. But today they topped everything.

I don’t mind much if kids are keen to participate and end up talking all at once about the topic. But these two kids today were just downright ignoring the class and deliberately talking when I was talking. I spoke to a teacher afterwards about them, and he said he’d follow up on it. I’ve also sent an email to the school Ethics coordinator to see what the discipline options are. If it were up to me, I’d kick these kids out of the class and then they could explain to their parents why they got kicked out of a class that the parents wanted them to do.

When I got home, I decided to decompress by going for a quick run, just a 1k today. This is only the second timed 1k I’ve done, and I clocked 4:27 today, compared to 4:33 two weeks ago. I’m still getting used to pacing the distance – I took off fast and was almost exhausted halfway through so had to slow down a lot.

I walked home from the oval, and then thought I’d quickly take the rubbish out while I had my shoes on. I went inside, put my keys down, grabbed the rubbish, went outside… and realised I’d locked myself out. So after putting the rubbish in the bin, I had to walk to my wife’s work to get her keys – without a hat or sunglasses, which I normally wear outdoors. So that killed an extra 40 minutes.

After all that, I began spring cleaning the house. Since we’re in September and that marks the beginning of spring here. A full spring clean of the house takes at least a couple of days. I started with cleaning the windows today – something I don’t do very often because we’re in a second floor apartment, so it’s a little tricky to clean the outsides. For each window I:

  1. Remove the sliding pane, and wash it in the bathroom with soapy water and a squeegee.
  2. Do any gross cleaning, such as scrubbing the frame to remove dirt and specks of mould. This bit can take some time.
  3. Clean the inside of the fixed pane with Windex. (Not soapy water, since the water would run down onto the windowsill.)
  4. Remove the fly screen and wash it in the bathroom.
  5. Brush spiderwebs off the exterior of the window and surrounds, by leaning through to the exterior.
  6. Squeegee the exterior of the fixed pane, leaning out through the open window. For some windows this is tricky, as I need to do some climbing and stretching, and being careful not to fall out the window.
  7. Replace the flyscreen and sliding pane.

For six windows, this takes maybe 2-3 hours on a good day. Today was not a good day. The bedroom window had been getting progressively tougher to slide open and closed for the past few months, and the kitchen window was starting to feel the same. I did some Googling and found that a thing to do to loosen tough windows is to spray the window track with silicone lubricant. So yesterday when I went to the hardware store I’d bought a can.

I started on the bedroom window. After taking the sliding pane out and washing it clean, I figured I should first clean out the sliding track before applying the lubricant. It was filthy. First I vacuumed it to remove any loose material, and there was quite a lot of it: sand and dirt and gunk. Then I took to it with a cloth and soapy water, pushing the cloth into all the nooks and crannies and scrubbing hard to remove the dirt. The cloth came out absolutely filthy. After ten minutes or so of this cleaning, the track was looking pretty good. I dried it with paper towel and then sprayed the lubricant on.

Then I decided to turn the sliding pane (waiting in the bathroom after washing) upside down to have a look at the bottom side. And this is when I discovered that it has wheels. And that what had caused the sliding difficulties was that the wheel bearings had seized up with dirt, so the wheels no longer turned. And the friction of sliding the window on non-turning wheels for months had worn down the wheels so much that they were no longer even close to circular. So even if I could loosen the bearings and lubricate them so that they would turn, the wheels were ruined and wouldn’t rotate anyway.

I had a brief moment of thinking the window pane was ruined and I’d have to order another whole pane manufactured to fix this problem. And then I inspected the wheel area carefully. I found a screw that looked like it held in a removable section containing the wheel. So maybe the wheels were replaceable! I searched online and found that this is indeed a thing! Then I searched my local hardware store, and found they had replacement window roller wheels in stock, in various sizes.

Now, I didn’t want to put the window back and then have to remove it later after getting the replacement wheels. So I unscrewed the wheels, knocked them out with a hammer (they were wedged in really hard), and took them to the hardware store to make sure I could get identical replacements. Here’s what the old wheels looked like:

Worn window rollers

You can see the flat areas (arrowed) where the wheels had been worn down by sliding. I did manage to get them to rotate a little bit before taking this photo, which is why the flat part is at an odd angle. Anyway, I found the replacements I needed at the hardware store, and also bought some extra Windex while I was there. I inserted the replacement wheels, in both the bedroom and kitchen windows, and replaced them in their tracks after cleaning. Et voilà! The windows slide beautifully now!

During rest breaks in between cleaning all the other windows, I mentioned my labours to my friends in our Discord chat. One guy was all, “Oh yeah, I replace the roller wheels in my windows every few years.” Well, thanks for telling me that this is a thing you need to do! When I bought this place, nobody gave me an owner’s manual saying that you had to do stuff like replace the window wheels. How many people even know that this is a thing you can do or have to do? What other home maintenance things do some people know about that I’m blithely ignorant of?

Anyway, I’m happy that I’ve solved the problem and done some home handyman stuff that fixed a problem, for just the cost of some spare parts. Now we have nice clean and beautifully sliding windows again.

But now that the windows are clean, I’m counting down the hours until a moth leaves a big ugly print on them again. They inevitably do it within 48 hours of the windows being cleaned. And then oddly no new prints appear for the next several months until I clean them again.

New content today:

Dental day

I had a dentist appointment today, for a routine clean and checkup. My previous appointment was just before COVID really hit Australia, so this was my first time going back under the new circumstances. I was struck by the spartan look in the waiting room, and realised it was because all of the magazines that are usually there had been removed, as well as the water pitcher and glasses, the box of tissues and waste bin, and the display stand of brochures about various dental health issues. All that was left were the chairs and an empty coffee table.

I had to answer a short COVID questionnaire, but other than that it was all pretty normal once things got started. There was a new hygienist there today, and I was happy because the previous one, while very nice to talk to, was rather rough with the cleaning tools and always used to hurt my teeth and gums more than any other. The new woman was a lot gentler and the whole cleaning was much less unpleasant than last time. Then the dentist examined my teeth and I mentioned an annoying thing with food getting stuck between two particular teeth lately. He said yes, he could see a hole there, where a prior filling had chipped and part of it had fallen out. He recommended I get it refilled, so on the way out I made another appointment for the filling, this Thursday.

I walked to the dentist via the hardware store first. I needed to pick up a few things, and it’s in the same direction, so it was a good opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. One thing I got is some silicone lubricant, which I’m going to use on our sliding window tracks later this week, when I do the window washing for spring cleaning. I’m sure that’ll be a highlight of this blog… so stay tuned for that one. 🤣

New content today:

Thinking about Star Wars

It’s Monday, and my wife spent most of the day at work, with Scully in the office for the morning, and then in doggie daycare for the afternoon. The doggie daycare really wears her out because it’s full on playing with other dogs for a few hours, and she comes home and just falls to sleep for the whole night, which is good. (Scully that is, not my wife.)

I used the time to concentrate on writing Darths & Droids, both comic scripts and story planning notes for the future. I had a long chat with co-authors about some plot elements, and added about 800 words of stuff to our accumulated story notes. I haven’t added up how many words of planning notes we have for the entire comic series for a while, but it’s a lot. Hopefully we’ll publish it all in some form some day – once the comic is done, since there are a lot future plot secrets hidden in there.

We had a bit of leftover challah from a loaf I bought last week, and I used it today to make myself some French toast for lunch. Normally I do French toast with salt and pepper, as that’s what I’m used to. I only ever had it as a savoury dish growing up, and in fact had no idea that some people like to have it as a sweet dish until I was maybe in my 20s. And when I found out I was disgusted… it was a bit like finding out that some people put honey on scrambled eggs or something like that. I think in my whole life I’ve only had sweet French toast maybe 2 or 3 times.

Anyway, I made myself French toast using challah, which seems to be a nice type of bread to use for it. I had the first piece with salt and pepper as is my usual habit, but then I decided to be bold and try a piece with honey. (It was the only sweet syrupy thing I had handy – we don’t have maple syrup.) And it was actually okay, I admit, particularly with the slight sweetness of the challah. Still not entirely convinced though, and I definitely preferred it with salt and pepper.

New content today:

Warm winter Sunday

Although it’s still winter for another day, it was very warm in Sydney today. The forecast was 25°C and we achieved a fraction above that, with a couple of degrees higher in the inland suburbs. My wife and I decided to take advantage of the beautiful day to go for a bit of a drive and get some lunch out.

I chose a bakery that I’ve been wanting to try for a while. It keeps showing up in my Google searches for bakeries in Sydney, with an average star rating of 4.9 out of 5. Now normally I’d assume it was an excellent establishment, but the photos of the place made me rather suspicious, as it looked very much like a run-of-the-mill suburban bakery, with nothing special about it.

Golden Bakehouse, South Turramurra

Indeed… it turned out to be fairly average. The food we got was decent, good even, but certainly no better than that. It’s not even a fancy bakery that makes cakes or anything – it just did fresh bread, a very standard range of small sweet treats, tarts, biscuits, slices, etc., and some hot meat pies. I can only conclude that the only people who ever come here are locals, and they think it’s pretty decent. It was fine, but it was no 4.9 stars. It was busy though, with customers arriving every minute or two. It was probably just the best bakery in the suburb. You can read my detailed review in Snot Block & Roll.

Back home, my wife and I played some games in our Codenames Duet campaign. We played the London and Cairo games, and won both of them. London was easy, but Cairo was a real challenge, with the grid of words very tricky for both of us, with several pairs of associated words split between spies and assassins, thus making giving clues difficult. We managed to scrape a victory together with some tricky clues and a couple of lucky guesses. Of course the campaign mode is just going to get more difficult as we play more…

New content today:

Exploring Barangaroo

I did a lot of walking today. This morning I went with my wife and Scully on our regular weekend walk, over to the bakery and back via a circuit route. We stop along the way to buy bread and my wife gets coffee, and then we stop by the water on a grassy area so I can throw a ball and Scully can chase and retrieve it. The route covers about 5.5 km.

After lunch, we dropped Scully off at the dog groomer for her wash and grooming session. With a few hours alone to do stuff, my wife and I decided to head into the city to check out the new(ish) Barangaroo development. Neither of us have been there before – it’s a former industrial site now converted to parkland, office, retail, and dining space. The park and a dining district are finished, but there is still construction work going on at the new casino complex.

To avoid public transport, we drove in. I found a park on the street, with metered parking at $4.40 an hour. We only needed two hours. The user interface of the parking meter started with a maximum four hours, and I had to press the minus button a few times to set the required time to two hours, then I tried to pay by tapping my credit card on the contactless payment pad. The screen informed me that the tap didn’t work, so please insert my card. I inserted my card so it could read the chip… but I hadn’t noticed that in between it had reverted back to the default four hours! So I ended up paying $17.60 instead of $8.80 for two hours parking! Very annoying.

Anyway, after parking we walked around the park area, which was very nice. It’s situated on a point facing north and west into the harbour, away from the city centre. This photo is looking north-east towards the Bridge.

Barangaroo Reserve

And this is looking north across the harbour to North Sydney.

Barangaroo Reserve

I expect on a normal Saturday this place would be packed with people, and many of them tourists. But at the moment there aren’t any tourists and locals aren’t really travelling around much either, so it was sparsely populated, although there were several groups of people out and about enjoying the fresh air and the warm winter afternoon. It definitely felt like spring was in the air, with flowers out and bees buzzing around.

Bee and pigface, Barangaroo Reserve

The park is nice to sit and enjoy the view, but there’s not much else there, so we walked south past the casino construction site to south Barangaroo, where there are lots of shops and restaurants. We tried to find a simple cafe to sit and have a drink, but everything that was open was a fancy bar/restaurant, with people having meals and glasses of wine. A lot of the smaller establishments were closed – I expect for lack of tourist business at the moment. So we just looked around before walking back to the park for a bit more and then back to the car to head home.

It was a nice outing, and I’m glad to finally have had a look at this new public space that hasn’t been open for very long.

New content today:

Golf and games

This morning I got up a little early and headed out to the local golf course. I played two balls again, like I did a couple of weeks ago, keeping separate scores, so essentially two rounds simultaneously – totalling 18 holes since it’s only a 9-hole course.

I started really badly, and thought I was in for a dreadful day, but fortunately my hitting improved as I went on. I ended up recording my second best round with one of the balls, and scored a par for the first time on the par-4 ninth hole. The course was a lot nicer to play today than a fortnight ago, because the mud had mostly dried out after some fine weather.

I was home a bit after 9:30, and then went to the supermarket to get the weekly groceries. And then just kind of puttered around for the middle of the day – doing some photo work, some comic planning notes, some random web browsing, and some Italian practice.

Tonight is fortnightly virtual games night with my friends. I’ve been compiling a huge list of custom words for skribbl.io with contributions from everyone and it’s now about 1.5 times as big as it was last fortnight. Before games I’m going out with my wife and Scully to a local Turkish place for Friday night dinner. I thought I’d write this blog entry before we leave, so it won’t get forgotten during the gaming fun later this evening.

Oh… which means the following links won’t work for a few hours, until the comics get updated.

New content today:

Back into running

After last week’s relative laziness, I returned to doing a 5k run today. I figured after a two week break I wouldn’t be setting a best time today, and I took it fairly easy. But it turned out that I clocked 27:02, my third best time, and only a second behind my second best time. And although I was certainly ready to stop by the end of it, I didn’t really feel like I was pushing myself hard today. I guess my body is getting more used to running that distance!

On the way home I treated myself to a couple of vegetable pies from the pie shop near the sports oval. A “pumpkin, coriander, and cheese” pie which also has a layer of mashed potato inside. The pumpkin is blended smooth and very soft, really like a thick pumpkin soup, and the cheese is a soft creamy sort, a bit like sour cream. It’s a nice pie, but feels a bit insubstantial. The second was a spinach, corn, and cheese, which is more solid and features a feta-like cheese.

This afternoon I worked on some photo processing and updating of some old travel diaries. And took Scully to the dog park. It was a lot warmer out late this afternoon than it had been even at lunch time. I checked the Weather Bureau and the temperature in Sydney was still rising around 4pm – it got up to almost 22°C.

New content today:

Fate and the office

My Ethics class this morning was the second half of the topic on Fate. It’s really getting the kids to think about taking responsibility for their actions, rather than blaming Fate. But one of the boys was adamant in his belief that people’s fates are predetermined and there’s nothing you can do to change them.

One of the stories was about a kid who has a test tomorrow, and reasons that he’s fated to either pass or fail the test, so there’s no point studying and he may as well watch TV rather than study. After reading this story, and asking the kids their thoughts about it, they were all agreed that it’s silly to watch TV and not study for the test – even the boy who thought that our fates definitely are predetermined. I asked him why he would study if his test result is predetermined, and he said because he’s fated to study for the test! Which is kind of okay – if he’s not letting his belief in fate actually make decisions for him and he doesn’t just take the lazy road at every opportunity. But it was a little odd.

I took a long walking route home, ending up covering nearly 10 km by the time I got home just before lunch. The weather was a bit nicer today, though still on the chilly side. I’m looking forward to the warmer weather we’re expected to get over the next few days.

This afternoon I worked on some comics, and I also helped my wife return her office chair to the office. She’d been using it at home while she was working here due to COVID-19, but now she’s returned to the office since the situation is more or less under control around here. The office chair is really heavy – much heavier than it looks. I guess much of it must be made of metal rather than plastic. I’m very glad to have it out of the house, as we had to make room for it at the dining table by moving one of the dining chairs, and it was sort of blocking part of the living room. (We don’t live in a big house.)

New content today:

Veg day

Today was very lazy. After the mental exertions of yesterday, I didn’t feel particularly inspired to do much today, and spent a lot of time just goofing off and browsing websites. It was also very cold again which prompted me not to venture outdoors. I ended up getting very cold just sitting at home and had some mugs of liquorice tea to warm up.

I did write a bit of Darths & Droids with some help from co-authors via online chat. Oh, and the main thing I got done was going through a bunch of emails and documents for ISO photography standards that have built up over the past few weeks. So I had some technical reading to do.

Oh, I got some good news today! An email from a Kickstarter I backed over a year ago for some gaming dice, that estimated delivery of rewards by September 2019. The campaign organiser said that the rewards are now shipping! A year late, but I do have to credit the organiser with providing regular informative updates and assurances that the project had not been dropped. The problem was with their supply chain and not directly themself, so I don’t blame them. And I’m now looking forward to getting my hands on those dice.

New content today:

Huge annotation day

I spent basically all day today working on Irregular Webcomic! annotations. I just finished now, after 9pm. Most of it was one annotation, that I started writing yesterday. I finished it off today, and made a couple of diagrams to illustrate it. It ended up being over 5000 words long. Which is a lot of technical, researched writing to do in a single day, believe me.

I’m exhausted…

New content today: