Cleaning and creating

Housecleaning day! After dealing with the usual Saturday morning routines, I spent some time organising details for the special Magic: the Gathering games night I’m running for my friends in three weeks. I have still have quite a bit of prep to do, and will be devoting a few days to it in the coming week. No details yet, to avoid spoiling the surprise for my friends! I’m getting more excited about this every day though.

In between I worked on some photos from my trip to Portugal in May, completing another day of the trip, which meant that I could complete my travel diary entry for the day.

View of Porto

I also did some Real Work type work, reading through a proposed ISO standard for photography and writing up comments on the draft. This is work that I started when I had a job at Canon (and got paid for it), and am now continuing in an independent expert (i.e. unemployed) capacity, because I believe in supporting the work and representing Australia’s interests in these international standards. The next face-to-face meeting of the ISO Photography committee is in Cologne, Germany, in the last week of October, and I am going to attend – I’ve booked my flights and hotels already. Standards Australia may provide me with funding, dependent on their budget and how important they think it is for me to attend this meeting – but I’ve already spent the money, so I’m going whether I get funded or not.

While in Germany, coincidentally the huge Spiel board gaming fair is on in Essen just days before my ISO meeting. And since Essen is less than an hour from Cologne, I’m taking the opportunity to visit and attend the fair – probably a once in a lifetime chance for me. So I’m pretty excited about that!

New content today:

The gravity of the situation

Most of today was spent writing a new article for 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe. It’s about the variation in the strength of gravity over the Earth’s surface. It was hard finding a map of the actual value of the acceleration due to gravity across the Earth, rather than maps showing the local anomalies compared to a smoothly varying reference value. There are hundreds of the latter, but I only found one of the former, copied on a few different blogs, and it wasn’t clear where the original came from. I finally tracked it down to the Western Australian Geodesy Group at Curtin University, but the link I found led to a 404 page. So I emailed the professor of the research group there to ask if the diagram was really made by them, and if not, if he knew where it came from. I haven’t heard back yet, but I’ll update the article if and when I do.

For lunch I went on a longish walk over to a bakery called The Grumpy Baker, near the dog park where I take Scully a couple of times a week. With Scully we always drive because it’s a bit far to walk with her, but I did the trip on foot today, almost 5 km there and back. The weather was glorious – it really felt like summer already, even though we’re barely a few days out of winter. I walked there on an inland route, and then walked back by the shore of the harbour to make it a loop. This is Oyster Cove:

Fence and boat

And then this afternoon the temperature got even warmer. Between 4pm and 4:30pm the temperature rose by 6.2 degrees Celsius (11.2 degrees Fahrenheit). Yes, in half an hour! A strong westerly wind was bringing in hot air from central Australia. The wind was really strong too, gusting up to 100 km/hr across Sydney, and causing some significant structural damage and bringing down several trees. A few cars got crushed and people hospitalised, and there were blackouts from power lines being downed. Nothing severe near me, but there were some small tree branches littered about the road. And when my wife and I walked up the street for dinner, the fire brigade was dealing with a damaged tree as we walked past.

And then later it rained, very heavily, while we were eating dinner. That brought a steep drop in temperature, back down 10 degrees Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) between 6 and 7pm. Fortunately the rain stopped before we walked back home, but the walk was uncomfortably cold.

Today I also raided the garage to find tools to install the new kitchen shelves I bought from the hardware store on Tuesday. I found an electric drill, but no bits. I’ll probably have to go buy the bit I need.

New content today:

Taking the crown

First thing this morning I had a dentist appointment. I went a few weeks ago with a tooth that was causing a twinge of pain when I bit down on something. My dentist said it was a cracked molar. Normally he’d fit a crown, but he thought it might be fixable with just a bit of a filling, so that’s what he did. Unfortunately it didn’t work and the tooth was still painful, so I went in again today to have the crown preparation done. This involves having several moulds made of the teeth using a quick setting rubber material, then the offending tooth is drilled and ground down to allow the crown material to be installed on top. The new crown is fabricated offline from the moulds, and I have to go back in a week to have that fitted. In the meantime the dentist has installed a temporary plastic crown, which he told me not to floss or chew with, as it is fixed only weakly and could come off if I’m not careful.

So, yeah. The anaesthetic didn’t wear off until a late lunchtime. Having tried to eat with dental anaesthetic in effect before, I waited it out this time to make sure I didn’t chew up the inside of my cheeks. Anyway, all this ate up the morning and I felt a bit unenthusiastic about doing much for the rest of the day. What I did was wash the car, which was way overdue, looking very dusty thanks to the extended period without rain, followed by the couple of rainy days we had last week to move all the dirt around and make it more obvious.

Oh, and I found this photo that a Reddit user took yesterday of a diamond python at my local railway station, just a few hundred metres from my home. And here’s a video. Pretty cool!

New content today:

Late Wednesday update

I had some strange issues with WordPress last night, so this post is several hours late.

On Wednesday my year 6 Ethics class topic was the Heinz dilemma. I introduced it by reading the text from the syllabus: “Today we’re going to discuss a famous ethical dilemma.” Immediately one girl put her hand up and asked “What, like the trolley problem?” I hadn’t expected anyone in a class of 10 and 11 year olds to be familiar with that, but it was good to hear! I had to say no though, it was a different problem.

I was interested in how this discussion would go because in a previous topic most of the kids expressed the principle that saving a human life was of paramount importance, while previously in the current topic (on stealing) several of the kids had stated that stealing is always morally wrong, because it’s against the law. Often the same kids. So pitting the saving a human life against having to steal to do it led to a lot of interesting back and forth as the kids took their turns to talk. In the end, most fell on the side that stealing to save someone’s life was morally acceptable, but there were a significant number of holdouts who said that because it was against the law, sadly they would have to let the person die. Hopefully the kids will continue to discuss this one after the class.

I spent much of the rest of the day researching and writing annotations for the new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips that I made earlier in the week. I still have a few more to do to complete the batch, and then it’ll be on to writing a new entry for 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe.

New content for Wednesday:

Spring cleaning

Today was an extra heavy housework day. I hired a carpet cleaning machine from the local hardware store, picking it up first thing this morning. Before using it, I did an extra thorough vacuum cleaning to remove as much dirt as possible. Then it was filling up the machine with hot water and carpet shampoo, and using it to go over the whole house (well, except the kitchen and bathroom and laundry, which don’t have carpet). It leaves the carpet slightly damp, so it was time to throw open all the windows for a cross breeze to help it dry out. But it removes a lot of gunk from the carpet – the retrieved water in the collecting tank was almost black. It’s hard work – I’d like to clean the carpet like this more often, but only do it a few times a year. It took a few hours and I was dripping with sweat by the end of it.

After all that hard work I treated myself to a nice lunch at a local pub. They have a chicken schnitzel that is really good.

In the afternoon I had to clean out the carpet cleaner and then take it back to the hardware store. On that trip I decided to buy some timber shelving so that I could install a few extra shelves in the kitchen cupboard that we use to hold mugs and glassware. The cupboards have two shelves, far enough apart that we can stack mugs and glasses two high on each shelf, with room to spare. I realised it would be better to have extra shelves, then we could spread the mugs and glasses out and not have to stack them on top of each other. I don’t own a saw, so I had the hardware store cut the timber to size, and they did a pretty good job. Now I just need to drill some shelf peg holes. I do have a drill, but I may need to go back and a buy a bit of the right size.

Phew.

For dinner I cooked a Thai green curry with various vegetables: cauliflower, broccolini, pumpkin, red capsicum (red pepper, for non-Australians), onions. I thought it turned out pretty well.

New content today:

Comic production

I spent most of today making that batch of comics I’ve been working on writing the past few days. Shooting the photos took all morning, after which I treated myself to a lunch up the street at the local “healthy” supermarket, which has a hot buffet lunch thingy. I got a box of various grilled and curried vegetables.

The afternoon was taken up with assembling the comics from the photos I’d shot in the morning. I finished that around 8pm, giving me time to watch some TV with my wife for the evening. And besides looking after Scully and taking her to the dog park for a while, that was pretty much my whole day.

Here’s a sneak preview of one of the strips I made today…

IWC Stranger Things

New content today:

First day of spring

It’s officially spring and the weather was very spring-like, with warm sunshine drying up the rain of the past few days. I spent much of the day out with my wife and Scully, enjoying the fresh air. We went to two different parks to let Scully run around and chase tennis balls, and stopped off for lunch at a bakery where we hadn’t been before. It was pretty good! I wrote up a review for my food blog: Snot Block & Roll.

That was about it, really, apart from a bit of housecleaning and a relaxing evening watching episodes of Northern Exposure. Wife and I decided to start rewatching the series form Episode 1 again. Tomorrow I’m planning to photograph the latest batch of comic scripts that I’ve been working on the past few days, so that’s a big day of creative work ahead.

New content today:

More comic writing

Saturday is housework day! I vacuumed the carpet and cleaned the bathroom and shower. Then got stuck into finishing off writing the current batch of Irregular Webcomic! I managed to polish that off just after lunch. This batch includes the first strips in a brand new theme – which I’m a bit excited about, since I haven’t introduced a new theme for a long time – the Scientific Revolution theme which began in strip 2154. Over ten years ago!

The afternoon was family time, with an afternoon tea with my wife’s family. We stopped on the way to buy some cannolis from the good Italian bakery near us, but it was nearly their closing time and they only had one left in the display when we got there. So I asked for that and a few other little sweets. Then the owner came out and asked me how I was going, and I said fine, except I’d been hoping for more cannolis. And he said he’d go out the back and pipe some fresh for me! He made some vanilla custard and some ricotta cannolis, but it seemed they were out of chocolate custard, alas.

Scully got to go for a bit of a walk during the afternoon tea.

Last day of winter

Thankfully the rain eased off a lot today, and by sunset the sun had actually come out again.

New content today:

Rainy day writing

It rained more today, heavier than yesterday. I wrote Irregular Webcomic! scripts in the morning while listening to the music of Five Year Mission.

After lunch I collected Scully from my wife’s work, and then had to keep her amused for an hour before taking her to doggy daycare. Wife had booked her in for daycare today because of the weather forecast – as we discovered yesterday it’s difficult to get her some good outdoors exercise when it’s cold and raining heavily. I couldn’t let her run around and get soaked in the rain, so I took her to the pet shop where she likes to roam up and down the aisles sniffing everything. And then we went to the daycare place, which is probably her favourite place in the world (besides home of course!). She gets to play with lots of other dogs and usually comes home exhausted. Here’s a photo the daycare people took of her with a friend:

Friyay at doggy daycare

I wrote more comics in the afternoon. Writing a batch of comics can take up to two days of work. I’ll have to finish this batch off tomorrow. That was basically it for the day. Writing comic scripts is the most time consuming part of making Irregular Webcomic!, because of periods of writer’s block, and other periods of doing research. For one strip I wrote today I spent a couple of hours researching the history of various Greek provinces during the Roman era, which included this tweeted appeal for assistance. (I found the answer.) You can probably guess what theme it was for. It’s amazing the amount of research I put into a simple gag comic strip sometimes.

This evening was a relaxing dinner out with wife and Scully at one of our favourite Indian restaurants. We walked up the street, with the rain thankfully just light, easing off for the night.

Rainy night at Crowie

New content today:

Architects of the West Kingdom

It was a very rainy day today, which is good because Sydney needs a lot of rain to break this drought we’re in.

Andrew C. organised a lunch at his place today, with sausage sandwiches and board games. Steven was supposed to be there, but unfortunately he was sick, so we only had three players: Andrew, Tim, and me. We played Architects of the West Kingdom, which has a lot of possible options every move, but individual moves are very small and quick, so we cycle through turns quickly. You place one of your workers each turn, and perform a simple action depending on where you put them: either collecting resources of various types (wood, ore, bricks, silver, gold), constructing buildings, hiring assistants, or – and this is the interesting one – rounding up opponents’ workers with the aim of ransoming them to the prison for silver. I concentrated on building buildings, while Tim went for completing the cathedral, and Andrew aimed for prestige. I ended up winning by just a couple of points thanks to my stockpiling of gold and marble. It was pretty cool and definitely a game to play again. Thumbs up!

I stopped off on the way home to buy some liquorice tea to refill my empty container at home. It’s my favourite hot drink.

And then in the afternoon my wife and I took Scully out for some exercise, thinking we needed to despite the rain. We got to the dog park and there were only three of the regulars in attendance. We went for a walk under our umbrellas, and with Scully wearing a doggy raincoat. But within a few minutes Scully was soaked and shivering with cold, so we had to scoop her up and carry her back to the car and try to warm her up again. The rain was getting heavier and we all got pretty wet.

Back home we dried her off with the hair drier, which warmed her up again. She’s very good and doesn’t mind the hair drier. But then this evening she was restless and demanded some play time to get out her energy, running around the house and shaking her dog toys around a lot. Thankfully she’s settled down for the night now. Tomorrow will be interesting, as it’s supposed to be even more, heavier rain.

In between all this, I wrote some Irregular Webcomic! scripts for a new batch of comics that I’ll have to make over the next few days.

New content today: