Beating the heat

I spent most of today working on the next 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe, which I posted a while ago. It’s about heat.

It wasn’t actually a very hot day today – today’s post title was really about completing that article. Still, I stayed inside mostly, because there was a hint of smoke in the air still from the bushfires. The weather bureau reckons this will hang around Sydney for weeks.

Early this morning I did make a trek to the supermarket to get some groceries. My wife drinks coffee – I don’t. She had coffee on the shopping list. I know the type she likes is “Medium roast, Strength 5”.
Looking at the shelves, I saw that a jar of that was $9. But right next it was the same brand, “Dark roast, Strength 8”, on sale for $6 for the same sized jar. There was no sale sticker on the Medium roast.

So I thought: if I get the Strength 8 stuff, and water it down an extra 37.5%, that’d be the same as Strength 5, right? And because it’s more watered down, I’d be using 37.5% less of it, so we’d be saving that as well. Which makes the effective price only $3.75 for the same size jar as the $9 medium roast. And if I buy a dozen jars of the Dark roast, we save a whopping $63 !

I’m sure that all the coffee drinkers out there would find this eminently satisfactory, yes?

However, I bought the $9 jar of Medium roast, because I know my wife. I told her the story, and she said she wouldn’t have minded if I got the Dark roast! đŸ™„

New content today:

Science assembly presentation

Today was the presentation by my Science Club kids at their school assembly, in front of the whole school. (I wrote about the preparation for this here.) Since it was at 2 o’clock, I decided to head out and get some lunch somewhere nearby, and then head to the school after that.

I went to a Spanish tapas place at Dee Why, a beach suburb. Here’s the view from my lunch table:

Lunch view

The meal was pretty good! I’ll have to come back some time with my wife and Scully. After eating, I went for a brief walk along the beach:

Dee Why Beach

And then back to the ocean pool at the southern end of the beach:

Dee Why Baths

There were a lot of people out for a Thursday lunchtime, enjoying the warm but not-too-hot late spring day. There’s still a bit of bushfire smoke in the air, which you can see in the photos, but it didn’t smell particularly bad today. Far out to see I saw a giant yacht on the horizon (a racing yacht, not a motor yacht). It must be out there with the crew practising for the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, which begins on Boxing Day.

The extra wide lens on my new phone camera is pretty cool:

November day at Dee Why

I drove over to the school and checked in with the science coordinator. She said that the preparation I’d done, writing a script for the kids to read along with the slides, couldn’t be found because the girl I’d written it with had been away for a week and hadn’t told anyone where she saved the file! So the other kids had had to write their own script from scratch!

At the school hall, there were a couple of rows of seats in the back for parents, although there were only a handful there. A woman came up to me and introduced herself as Belle’s mother, Belle being one of the girls in the Science Club. She thanked me for volunteering my time at the school and helping out with the kids’ science education, and said Belle was really keen on science. I said I enjoyed doing it, and especially showing the kids that if they like science then it’s possible to have a career doing it. We chatted for a bit before the kids filed into the hall.

There was some preliminary with kids getting weekly merit awards, and then the Science Club kids gave their presentation using the slides I’d prepared. Their script was a little bit wrong in places, but I don’t think it mattered much. It was great to see the kids on stage talking about all the experiments we’ve done this year.

Afterwards I chatted some more with Belle’s parents, until the bell rang and classes were dismissed, and Belle arrived. Her mother took a photo of me with Belle! Although I didn’t really do much at the school today, it was good seeing the presentation, and meeting Belle’s parents.

Then I had to drive home… On the drive out there, I’d seen just how much devastation there was from the storm on Tuesday. One road I drove along had trees down every hundred metres or so, in some cases with power lines still down and safety tape around the site. Some of these had power company workers busy clearing the trees and restoring the power lines, but others were completely unattended. Clearly they don’t have enough workers to get to all of the downed lines at once. I heard on the radio news while driving that the job is so large that they expect up to 20,000 homes to remain without power over the weekend. It was incredible seeing so many destroyed trees.

At home I’ve been working on a new 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe post, but it won’t be ready today – hopefully tomorrow.

New content today:

Proof 33/100 – almost a third done!

I finished off the next Proof that the Earth is a Globe, and have just posted it. It’s one of the more basic ones in my list, but it took a long time to write and make the diagrams for. And there’s a surprising corollary at the end of it. I completed it several hours ago, but wanted to wait until after dinner to post it.

My wife and I went out for pizza tonight at our favourite pizza place, a 15 minute walk or so from where we live. It’s a little suburban place run by a guy and his wife from Lipari, in the Aeolian Islands of Italy. He always greets us in Italian as we arrive, and she has a chat with us in between serving tables. They have checked tablecloths, and photos of Italy on the walls, and a giant poster of Sophia Loren eating a bowl of spaghetti on one wall. We’ve been going here for years, and always go back because the food is good and the atmosphere is casual and friendly – it feels like visiting relatives, not a restaurant.

Anyway, when you see the post, you’ll understand why I wanted to wait until after dinner to post it.

New content today:

Ballet Friday

I’m queuing this post up early for automatic publication because I’ll be out late tonight. For our wedding anniversary I got my wife tickets to the Australian Ballet’s production of Sylvia, which is on at the Sydney Opera House. So that’s where we’re going tonight. This is one of the more obscure and rarely performed ballets, so it should be interesting.

It’s a 12 minute train trip and 15 minute walk away from where I live, which is easier and more convenient than battling traffic by driving. Normally we’d eat dinner out somewhere near the Opera House, but our neighbours are minding Scully and they don’t get home from work until late-ish, so we can’t leave early enough to squeeze in dinner.

Otherwise, today I’ve been working on writing a new proof for 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe. Unfortunately it’s not finished yet, so it’ll have to wait until tomorrow. Oh, and processing some more photos from May’s trip to Portugal.

New content today:

Science Saturday

Besides the usual bathroom cleaning, I dedicated much of today to Science! I finished writing that 100 Proofs article I’ve been mentioning.

And I planned out what I’ll be doing with the school children on my next STEM Professionals in Schools visit on Monday. I wanted to do a Q&A session with all the classes, because it’s minimal preparation for me, but my contact said the kindergarten and Year 1 teachers requested me to do a presentation, because their kids are too young to be able to come up with sensible and meaningful questions. [It’s true – last time they got fixated on asking me “how many X are there?”, for X=(cats, animals, fish, bones, trees, etc).] SO I went through my old slides and found one I did on dinosaurs 5 years ago – so none of the younger kids will have seen that one. I refreshed myself on what was in the slides so I can talk about it on Monday.

And for Science Club I planned a new experiment. We’re going to make pH indicator using red cabbage, and then test various household chemicals. The usual suspects like lemon juice, vinegar, baking soda, etc. Which meant I had to draw up a shopping list. I’ll have to go shopping tomorrow for everything I need.

Oh, and I spent a bunch of time making tomorrow night’s Darths & Droids strip, following the writing session yesterday.

And now, it’s late… time for bed!

New content today:

Running and phoning

This morning I went for another 5k run. I skipped last week due to being overseas, and I’m still getting over a back strain I sustained during the trip. I’m setting this up as an excuse, because I didn’t manage to best my previous time. This time I averaged 6:13 per kilometre, which is my second fastest time. Hopefully next week I can improve again!

After getting back home and cooling off, I set out to a shopping centre a few stops away by train to pick up a new phone. It turns out the latest release of iOS is no longer supported by my old iPhone, with the result that when I upgraded my desktop machine some apps got broken and no longer synch between phone and desktop. This was kind of unsupportable as I use those apps frequently for things like shopping lists and keeping appointments. So I decided to bite the bullet and get a new phone.

One advantage is that the camera technology has improved a lot over my old phone. And for someone like me who takes a lot of photos, and enjoys the technical side of photography, that’s a substantial positive change. I experimented with it a lot this afternoon, and here’s one of the photos, taken while out walking Scully on the path we take by the harbour:

Berrys Bay

For lunch today I had leftover ratatouille that I cooked for dinner last night. There was some drama while cooking it, as I’d added all but one of the ingredients and the dish was basically 90% done, when I discovered we had no tomato paste in the pantry. I had to get my wife to watch the stove while I raced out to the grocery store to buy some. I tracked the walk on my phone, and it was almost 3 kilometres and took over 20 minutes. I wonder if other people do this sort of thing often.

I also started writing another of the 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe today. I’d hoped to finish and post it today, but there was so much other stuff going on that I’m barely half way through. Maybe tomorrow, although I have some other more urgent things I need to do then too.

New content today:

Blending and writing

Our old stick blender threw in the towel a little while ago while I was blending up some pumpkin soup. I had to finish the soup off by hand with a potato masher. It was a bit chunky and not really ideal for pumpkin soup. So I’ve been looking to replace the blender. It was a cheapish model, and didn’t last as long as I would have liked, so I did some research, read some reviews, and decided that a Bamix would be a good replacement. Unfortunately they’re quite expensive… But lo! I found a major retailer who had some on sale, for almost half price. After confirming the colour with my wife, I placed an order yesterday. On this sale item, they didn’t deliver, so I had to go into the store to pick it up.

This involved a train ride a couple of suburbs away to the nearest store. I left in the morning, after leaving my computer upgrade its operating system to MacOS Catalina while I was out. I picked up the new blender, and took advantage of the street stalls to get some Malaysian street food snacks as I headed back to the station. On the way home I realised I should pick up some groceries, so detoured via the supermarket.

I ended up not getting home until just before lunch. The OS upgrade went without incident, and my machine was ready to go. I spent the rest of the day working on an article for 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe, which I just finished and posted now, a bit after 9pm. I cooked dinner in between too – lentil dhal with cauliflower and rice. Phew… time to relax…

New content today:

Sore legs

My legs are so sore today after yesterday’s run. I clearly need to do more to get used to it.

Today was a writing day. I spent about 10 hours writing the next entry for 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe.

That’s about it…

New content today:

Scully’s PB

So, Scully now has her own jar of peanut butter.

Scully's PB

This happened because we accidentally bought the wrong sort of peanut butter – my wife and I prefer the all natural stuff with no added sugar or salt. I have crunchy and she has smooth. But someone accidentally grabbed this jar. So now in a household of two people, we have three different types of peanut butter.

Besides grocery shopping, I spent the day writing another 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe.

New content today:

Late Friday: Magic event

Writing Friday night’s post on Saturday morning, because last night was the huge Magic: the Gathering games night event that I’ve been organising for weeks. So, now that my friends have been surprised, I can finally reveal some details!

I put together a cube draft tournament, selecting 360 Magic cards from various different sets, and randomly distributing them to produce 24 faux boosters, for the booster draft format. I even printed cover pictures for the faux boosters and sealed the cards inside. Here’s a picture of the 24 faux boosters – There’s a theme, which you might be able to recognise. Be quick, I’m going to spoil it in the next paragraph:

The theme is that all these things were released in 1993-1995. Not coincidentally, Magic: the Gathering was released in 1993. The gimmick with this cube draft was that many of the cards I selected were from some of the very early released sets of Magic. Now, some of those cards were very powerful and have never been reprinted, so they are scarce, and thus have become insanely valuable over time. The best known are the so-called “Power Nine” cards, which now change hands for prices of the order of several thousand US dollars each. I started playing Magic after these cards had stopped being printed, so I don’t own any of them. But I have a friend who started playing Magic before me, and he has a full set of all these early sets, including not only the Power Nine, but also dozens of other rare and very valuable cards. (If you know Magic, he has complete sets of Unlimited, Antiquities, Legends, The Dark, and an almost complete set of Arabian Nights.)

He hasn’t played with those cards for some time, and wondered if I would like to use them in games with my Magic playing group. Needless to say I leapt at the opportunity to borrow them! I selected 360 of the most powerful cards I could get my hands on, including some cards from more recent sets from my own collection (I kept track of ownership in a spreadsheet). I double-sleeved the cards to protect them, then created the faux boosters ready for playing.

My friends had no idea what I had prepared; I’d only told them that I was organising a draft tournament and would provide all the cards. To get into the spirit of “old timey” stuff, I suggested we get dressed up in jackets and ties, and I brought several bottles over to make cocktails. While we waited for the last players to arrive, they speculated on what was in store. Someone suggested I had made an entire self-designed Magic set based on a James Bond theme.

Old Timey Magic draft

When everyone had arrived, I handed out the first booster packs. Everyone was intrigued by the cover design but nobody picked up on the theme. Then when they opened the packs and saw the cards within… It was great. Many expressions of shock and disbelief as most of them saw for the first time with their own eyes renowned cards they’d only ever heard about in hushed tones before, and realised they were going to get to play games with them.

We went through the rounds of drafting, with many expressions of incredulity at the cards they were seeing. And then built our decks and played the games, which led to several epic and hilarious plays throughout the evening.

For those savvy with the game, one memorable incident from a game I played: I mana-accelerated into Eureka, thinking my hand stacked with huge creatures would prevail over whatever my opponent had. He put out Nicol Bolas, which bemused me because he didn’t have the necessary lands to pay for the upkeep. But then he put out Tawnos’s Coffin, which I thought would neutralise one of my big creatures, but then he activated it to exile his own Nicol Bolas, and I realised his cunning plan. On his next turn he played the last land he needed to pay Bolas’s upkeep, and unleashed him from the Coffin…. and it was all over red rover for me, as Nicol Bolas proceeded to pound me for huge damage until I was dead.

By the end of the night, much fun had been had by all, and everyone agreed it had been one of our most memorable Magic tournaments ever!

(The other thing I did on Friday before going to games night was finish a new entry for 100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe…)

New content today: