Markets and shops

Today was double market day! There was a local arts and crafts market at The Coal Loader, a historical industrial site on Sydney Harbour’s northern shore, converted into a community centre. My wife and I walked down there with Scully and checked it out. Besides looking at the things for sale, I had a good look at how the various stalls were set up and kitted out, to get ideas for how to set up my own. I noticed that many of the stalls had custom fitted tablecloths on their tables, although some were more free-form or rustic. One stall had a bedsheet as a tablecloth!

On the way home we stopped for lunch, before completing what is a rather long walk from our home and back. Scully was exhausted by the time we got home, and we weren’t far behind.

In the afternoon, I matted more prints, and then this evening I did some final work to complete my web shop. I added shipping costs and tested payments by making an order. Everything seems to be working, and it’s now in a state where I can start taking orders! The last step is to link the shop from my photography website, and to set up some information pages explaining stuff like how the photos are printed and mounted, and how long it takes to ship and stuff like that, but it’s late now and I’ll do that tomorrow.

But if you’re curious to have a look, or maybe even buy a print, you can go to the shop directly using this link. (If you live outside Australia, I can only ship unmounted prints – please don’t order a mounted print – I might need to figure out a way to restrict that option for overseas addresses.) I have eight photos set up as products now, and will be adding more over time.

New content today:

Setting up shop

Today I mostly worked on setting up my photo shop site. It’s still a little away form going public, but I got a lot of the gruntwork done today, setting up sizes and framing and finishing options, and crunching numbers to calculate prices. Oh, and figuring out costs for smallish (A4 or so) matted prints that I can sell face to face at the market. I’ve been doing a lot of spreadsheets lately.

In the background I ripped the DVDs of Star Wars Episodes VII and VIII, in preparation for starting work on them for Darths & Droids. And while doing that had some ideas for plot points which I jotted down.

Apart from that, it was mostly a day of cleaning up the house, scanning a pile of documents that I needed to get through and throw out, taking Scully for a walk, and cooking dinner.

Oh! I almost forgot. While at the dog park, I spotted a greater crested tern! You don’t see these in the city a lot.

One good tern deserves another

New content today:

Setting up web shop

Today was a heavy day of working on the nascent web shop for my photography site, and ordering prints of photos for sale stock for the market stall I mentioned yesterday. I formatted four photos for printing in a large size, and placed an order with the printer, choosing some different paper types to test out how they look when printed large. They should take about a week to be ready for me to pick them up, and then I’ll order some more to have enough stock for the market stall in March.

And the other thing I spent a lot of time on today was installing WooCommerce, which is a web shop package, with catalogue, inventory, shopping cart, credit card and PayPal payment handling, and a bunch of other features that are useful for running an online shop. There’s a lot of configuration needed and I’m still figuring out how it all works, but hopefully soon I’ll have some catalogue pages ready for people to browse and buy prints.

Phew!

New content today:

Losing my sunglasses

Scully woke up early this morning, around 5:30, and wanted to go outside, so I had to take her downstairs. I got to see the pre-dawn light suffuse the sky. It’s amazing seeing actual clouds and sky – we’ve been under a smoky haze for so long that it really felt unusual.

Being up so early, I decided to head out early for some golf at the local course. I started well today, but dropped off in the last few holes, scoring 58, one shot worse than my best so far for the 9 hole course. My first tee shot was awesome though – so much so that I took a photo of where my ball landed:

Tee shot landing position, hole 1

When I got back to the car, I realised I’d lost my sunglasses somewhere along the course. I phoned up later and the clubhouse said they had my glasses, so I’ll have to go back and pick them up tomorrow.

At home, I spent some time researching e-commerce solutions for my new photography website. I’m planning to sell framed prints, canvas prints, and other things with some of my photos on them. So having an online shop seems like a good move! I’m thinking of going with WooCommerce, since it’s open source and free to use, as opposed to something like Shopify, which charges a monthly fee plus a percentage of your sales. I don’t expect my volume to be very big, so I want to avoid monthly fees if I can!

This afternoon I got a message from my wife that Scully had been sick at work, vomiting a couple of times, the first being a weird red-brown colour, and had been lethargic all day. We were concerned enough that we booked a visit to the vet this evening. By then Scully had perked up considerably, and the vet was happy with the examination, deciding it most likely wasn’t anything serious, and Scully just had a reaction to something and would recover naturally. She does seem a lot more back to her normal self now, so that’s good.

New content today:

Back to running

Wanting to get back into a regular exercise routine, this morning I took off for a 5k run. I jogged up to the local sports oval and then did the 9 laps that total to 5 km. Previously I’ve run partial laps and walked the remainder, but this time I jogged through the first 6 laps without dropping back to a walk. That was about all I could manage and I took some walking breaks during the next 3 laps. My time was about the same as previously – I think because the first 6 laps were at a slower jog than I would run partial laps, and it all evened out in the end.

Back home I finished off writing the annotations for the latest batch of Irregular Webcomic! While doing that I found a bug in the database updating code I use to add the comics and annotations, so I had to spend some time debugging that and checking that it works okay, which chewed up a bit of time.

I wanted to start writing a new Proof the Earth is a Globe, but ran out of time, so I’ll get onto that tomorrow.

New content today:

Dental

I had a dental appointment today, for a clean. The hygienist reported everything looks good, so that’s always good news. My appointment was shortly before lunch, not far from my wife’s office, and she finished early today, so we met up to have lunch at a place nearby that does dim sum, and had a nice meal together, before heading home.

The other thing I’ve done today is put the finishing touches on my new photography website, which I’ve set up as part of my effort to generate some income through my photography. I’m planning to sell framed prints of some of my photos, and am currently doing some research into suitable printing and framing companies where I can get them made. I also have a new Instagram account dedicated to the sort of high quality photos that I’ll be selling – please follow it if you’re interested! (I also have a more general Instagram account, with more casual day-to-day photos on it.)

Oh, I also did some Standards work, follow-up tasks from the meeting I had a week and a bit ago. I’m in the process of organising to host an international photography standards meeting in Sydney in early 2021. There are people to contact and things to book and agreements to get signed.

And gosh, it’s only Tuesday! It’s going to be a full week by the time it’s over.

New content today:

Hard Coding

It’s Saturday, normally a day of relaxation, but today I spent most of the day in a partner debugging session with Andrew, my collaborator on the mezzacotta Generators project. Gory details follow (feel free to skip if you’re not interested in boring computer programming stuff):

We started by updating our code to use Python version 3, rather than the old Version 2.7 that it had been running on. This required some code changes, which then had to be tested. And there was a strange bug that caused some of the generators, but not all of them, to intermittently fail when run by loading them from a web browser, but they all worked fine without failing when the same code was run from the web server command line.

After several hours of testing, we determined that the bug was being caused by a stray non-ASCII character in an input file. But it was only causing a problem when run by the web server, because it was operating in a different environment, and the default I/O encoding environment variable was set to ASCII on the web server, but UTF-8 on the command line. Setting that variable to UTF-8 in the wrapping PHP fixed it!

Anyway, we can now show off the Band Name Generator. If you have a garage band you need a name for (or even if you don’t), give it a try!

New content today:

Dog party!

Somehow I got stuck with the job of baking a ham for Christmas lunch with my wife’s family. So this morning I ventured out to acquire a ham. When I got to the supermarket, I found a section with Christmas hams… they were about $20 a kilogram, and all huge slabs of meat weighing 4, 5, 6+ kilos each. Christmas lunch will be for about 8 people… I really don’t think we could get through $100 worth of ham. So I wandered off to get some other groceries, wondering what to do. But then I ran across another section of the store where they had baby hams, closer to 1 kilo. Perfect!

Ham acquired, I bought some other stuff and went home. On the way, I popped into my dentist, as I was walking past and it reminded me that I’m overdue for a teeth clean. The receptionist wasn’t at the desk, so I had to wait a couple of minutes to make my appointment, and I looked over at the coffee table covered in magazines for waiting patients to read. And I spotted something interesting:

Mechanical Dentistry by Charles Hunter

Mechanical Dentistry by Charles Hunter

Well it’s good to see that my dentist is up on all of the latest techniques and practices! There was even a chapter on how to alloy gold for use in a filling or for a false tooth!

The rest of the morning I spent cataloguing all the bird photos I took yesterday, extracting photo metadata (date, time, GPS coordinates, etc), matching it to species IDs, and then importing the lot into my bird photo database. (You can browse this database, but it’s still under construction – I have to go back and import all my historical bird photos. At the moment it only has photos I took this year, so many of the birds click through to an empty page. For one with several photos, try the New Holland honeyeater.)

This afternoon, we had another Christmas party that Scully was invited to – this time at her dog park that we go to a couple of times a week. It was just organised by the group of regulars there, who invited everyone and their dogs to show up with a plate of food. We arrived early, to go for the usual walk along the shore with the group of dogs that Scully has become familiar with. By the time we got back from the walk there were maybe 20-30 dogs plus their owners there, enjoying plenty of food and drink.

Dog park party

As you can see, Scully was wearing her festive kiwifruit bandana. We stayed for a couple of hours, until about 6pm, when we left to go in search of dinner (the food we ate there was really more of an appetiser than a meal). We ended up at an Italian place, walking a large circuit from our place via the dog park. In total it was almost 8 km we walked this evening. Scully should sleep well tonight, as hopefully will I!

New content today:

Final Ethics of the year

This morning was my last Ethics class of the school year. I walked to the school (3.1 km away) because the weather was cool and winds had blown yesterday’s smoke away, thankfully.

In this class we didn’t discuss ethical questions, but instead reflected on the year gone past and what the students learnt. I asked them what topics they enjoyed most, which ones made them think when other students expressed different opinions, and which, if any, changed their minds. We had a really good discussion, and the kids’ behaviour was excellent. Towards the end of the lesson I handed out completion certificates to each child. I told them I wished them well as they begin high school next year, and said I would miss them, as this would probably be the last time we ever see each other.

I genuinely will miss (most of) them, and it makes me a bit sad to think that I really won’t ever see any of them again. However when the bell went, they basically just got up, waved bye, and filed out the door. I think at their age it doesn’t really hit them when they have to say goodbye to someone forever. Come February I’ll have a brand new class with new names to learn, and no doubt I’ll grow fond of the new kids as well.

I decided to walk home through the Lane Cove Bushland Park, which is more or less an alternate “shortest” route home. The track passes through some dense bush, and it would be very difficult to go cross-country off the established walking track. I should have emerged back into a street near my place, but when I was almost there I found a fence blocking the track, with signs indicating that it was undergoing repairs and was closed for safety due to heavy equipment being used. The idea of jumping a safety fence and incurring the wrath of construction workers didn’t appeal, so I had to backtrack through much of the park and emerge an extra kilometre of so away from home, adding maybe 2 km to my journey.

On the way though, I went down some streets I’ve never walked down before, and found a lovely old estate house on a big block of land:

Fancy house

Back home, I didn’t have much time before picking up my wife and Scully to take them to their very first job as a Delta Dogs therapy dog team! This was an event held at Macquarie University for international students who won’t be travelling home to see family over Christmas, with the dogs there to give them some good cheer. They had a team of seven dogs there today, with Scully among them. Normally she’ll be working solely with my wife on hospital visits, but occasionally they have other sorts of events like this as well. Here’s Scully in her Delta uniform:

Delta Dog

While I waited to pick them up I had lunch at a nearby friend’s place, and we played a game of Wingspan (the same game I played last Friday games night), which I won handily. Then I picked up Scully and my wife to head home.

I spent this afternoon and evening doing some coding work on the mezzacotta generators, adding some stuff to a new band name generator which we’ve been collaborating on.

Oh, and last night I made a batch of eggnog, using Jamie Oliver’s recipe. It had to refrigerate overnight, so I didn’t taste it until tonight. Actually, I had some commercially produced eggnog at my friend’s place at lunch today, to compare it against. It was the first time in my life I’ve ever had eggnog. The commercial stuff tasted okay, but honestly not something I’d buy.

But then I had my own home-made eggnog tonight… and it was delicious! A much nicer drink than what I’d had at lunchtime.

Home made eggnog

Yummo! I’ll definitely be making more of this some time.

New content today:

More comic writing Sunday

Much of today was dedicated to finishing off writing that new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips I started yesterday. I managed to finish the writing, so the next step is taking photos, which I’ll probably do on Tuesday morning, since I have another school Science Club visit tomorrow.

This morning I did some grocery shopping. My wife wanted a lift to Milsons Point, on the north side of the Harbour Bridge, so she could walk across the Bridge with Scully to The Rocks and check out the markets there, before walking from there all the way home. Rather than drive home and then walk to the nearest supermarket like I usually do, I decided to park near the Aldi at North Sydney and try that. I’ve only bought things from Aldi a few times, and never done a full grocery shopping there before, so it was a bit of a new experience.

Later in the morning I walked to a nearby park to practice hitting a few golf balls with a pitching wedge. Also in the park was a large picnic birthday party for a boy, maybe 9 or 10 years old, and they’d hired a guy to run a Nerf gun battle thingy, complete with a marked combat zone with cloth barriers set up as cover This guy was herding 20 or so rowdy boys in the game, enforcing rules and keeping things running smoothly. At one point he told them that if anyone got out of line he’d get me to whack them with my golf club. I obliged by turning to face them and raised my club menacingly.

New content today: