It’s hard thinking of a title…

… when I didn’t do anything particularly noteworthy today. Two ethics classes this morning, three tonight, and in between I worked on some comics, and had lunch and took Scully for a walk. And that’s pretty much the whole day.

I didn’t even cook dinner – my wife did that tonight because I was busy teaching my classes. She’s getting used to the new induction cooker as well, and says she really likes it compared to the old gas one. The heat setting 1 is low enough that you can just leave a pot of soup on at that setting for an hour and it stays at a nice edible temperature without simmering. She made minestrone, which I ate after my classes.

Exciting day, yeah?

New content today:

Busy week, Saturday

Well, not as busy as during the work-week, but I still did a few things. After breakfast I did a 5k run. First run in 8 days.

After showering and also cleaning the bathroom, I went on a walk with my wife to a kitchen supplies shop to get a new saucepan and a couple of frying pans to replace old ones that didn’t work with our new induction cooker. I took some time going through the store to choose ones, because they have quite a range. We had a small frying pan, 16cm, diameter, the right size for making just a couple of fried eggs which we used a lot – but it was aluminium. So I wanted one that size that would work on our new cooker. They didn’t have one exactly that size, but there was a slightly smaller one at 14cm, so I got that.

When we got home we tested all the new cookware to make sure it worked… and the small frying pan didn’t, despite the labelling saying that it was suitable for induction cookers. It was quite a walk there and back, so I decided to drive over again to exchange the pan for another one. But that was the only small pan they had – the next size up was 20cm. But I got one of those instead, and it worked fine when I got home. I guess the fried eggs will spread out a bit more, but it should be fine.

This afternoon I finally got to finishing off that Darths & Droids strip that I really wanted to do on Thursday. I’ll need to do another one tomorrow to catch up a bit.

And this evening I went up to the science toy shop where they do Dungeons & Dragons events on Saturday nights, to meet up with the organiser and have a chat about the possibility of me hosting a game there some time. It was a youngish woman and she was setting up a table with a battle map when I arrived. I was a little worried that she would want to run strictly 5th Edition rules, which is not really what I want to do, so I mentioned early on that I preferred to run a more rules-light style of game, with more roleplaying and less dice rolling. She said she agreed that 5e was too rules-heavy, and sounded happy for me to run something a lot lighter. I said if I was running a game for new kids, I’d just hand them a character sheet each, say they’re at the entrance of a cave dungeon, and say, “What do you do?” – and she said that sounded great! So that was cool. She said they basically attracted enough people, mostly kids, to run one table, and it would be good if I could take over once every few weeks to give her a week off.

So it all sounds pretty good! I won’t have time to do it next Saturday, but maybe in two weeks.

Tonight I used the new large saucepan to cook pasta on the induction cooker, and made a tomato mushroom sauce in a smaller pot. It took a bit of juggling with the heat settings, but I found the right ones with a little trial and error, and overall it was pretty fun and easy. So yeah, it’s good so far!

New content today:

Busy week, Thursday

Today I got to play with our new induction cooker. The first thing I wanted to do was test cooking rice, to work out what heat setting to use while leaving the rice to absorb. I knew it had to be fairly low, so I started with setting 1 of the 1-14 power range.

Half an hour later I had… raw rice in tepid water, no hotter than a warm bath. Okay, so setting 1 is not really for cooking as such, but it will be a handy setting for keeping food warm before serving. Next I tried going up a couple of settings to 3. And this turned out to be perfect – the rice was perfectly cooked.

So tonight I made our first meal using the new cooktop.

Induction cooking

This is rice in the right pot, cooking on level 3 as you can see on the LED display. On the left is Thai red curry, made with pumpkin, snow peas, and mushrooms, as well as a bit of celery and spring onions and lemongrass. When it was nearly done I added coconut milk, and it turned out really good.

I’m impressed with the control and the rapid response of the cooker. And the heat range is wider than the old gas cooker, on both ends. The top setting of 14 is significantly hotter and faster to heat up than the gas at maximum flame. And the setting of 1 is something I couldn’t possibly reproduce using the gas flame, even at the lowest possible setting and with a heat diffuser. So overall I’m very happy with it!

My other main thing today was 5 ethics classes, which I’ve just finished at 9pm. And taking Scully for a couple of walks. Phew, what a day!

New content today:

Busy week, Wednesday

Today was the installation of our new induction cooktop, replacing the old gas cooker. The tradesman appeared about 10am and got to work. It was quite a job.

He had to: pull out and disconnect the electric oven; disconnect the gas cooktop; cut the gas pipe close to the wall; cap the gas pipe and test it for leaks; cut the granite benchtop to fit the slightly larger induction cooktop into the hole where the gas one used to be; drill a hole through the wall near the fusebox; thread electrical cable through the hole to a power point in the kitchen wall; disconnect that power point and replace it with a new heavy duty one; thread cable through from that power point to another power point inside the kitchen cabinet next to the stove area (this used to be the power point for the kitchen sink garbage disposal, which was no longer in use after we removed the garbage disposal a while back – it was lucky we did this because it meant the now spare point could be repurposed for the induction cooker); lay new cable from there inside a protective duct to the induction cooktop; remove the entire fusebox; replace all the circuit breakers with new ones to bring the fusebox up to current safety standards; actually install the induction cooktop; wire it in; reconnect and replace the oven; then switch everything back on and test it all works.

Here’s the area in the middle of the job:

Induction cooktop installation

The two ends of yellow cable are the same cable, passing through the wall, and that’s the fusebox visible in the upper cupboard. From that wall socket another cable goes down into the lower cupboard and through the hole visible in the back corner of the cooktop area.

And here’s the new cooktop, fully installed!

Induction cooktop installation

Shiny! I’ve tested it out boiling a little water in some of our pots, and it’s amazingly fast. But although I’m keen to give it a go cooking a meal, tonight was not the night for it. I had ethics classes from 5-8pm, and my wife wanted her dinner about 6:30, so she ended up just making grilled cheese sandwiches in the sandwich press. And after my last class I made myself a falafel roll in the same sandwich press.

Tomorrow I’ll try cooking something on the new cooktop. I need to test out cooking rice – to see what setting to leave it to simmer so that it comes out right. I’m hoping it works first time, but perhaps I’ll need to try a few settings to tune it.

It took the guy until a bit after 2pm to finish the installation, so my day was a bit disrupted, with the noise and having the power turned off. But I managed to write my lesson plans for both ethics age groups: “Psychic Powers” for the younger and “Philosophy of Ethics” for the older. And I spent some time scribbling notes on paper for the haunted house board game that I need to put together by Friday for my game design course.

New content today:

Caramel slice photos

Here are some photos of that caramel slice I made last night.

First, the base has been baked in the left, and I’m making the caramel filling.

Caramel slice: 1

I think the base is meant to be a bit more uniform in colour. I could have mixed the flour, coconut, brown sugar, and butter more thoroughly. But it didn’t affect the texture. Second, here’s the caramel filling after baking:

Caramel slice: 2

And then here are the final cut pieces of the slice, with the chocolate top layer:

Caramel slice: 3

And it tastes delicious! Overall I’m really happy with how it went.

Today I spent much of the day writing up my report on the ISO Photography Standards meeting that I attended in Japan, for Standards Australia. I have a meeting next week to fill in the Australian experts committee on all of the events from that Japan meeting.

And finally today, I know that much of the northern hemisphere is currently in the middle of record-breaking heatwaves. The stories have been shown here about heat in southern Europe, east Asia, and North America. But here in the south it’s winter at the moment, so we’re not especially hot, but we are also experiencing highly unusual warmth for this time of the year. It actually really feels like spring already, and it’s confusing many of the plants, with potentially devastating consequences for our crops. There was a story about it in the news today.

New content today:

Cooking a caramel slice

I decided this afternoon I had a craving for caramel slice, so I decided to get some ingredients and make some. I used this recipe.

I started making it after dinner, about 7:30pm. Now it’s almost 10pm and it’s finally in the fridge for the final 1-hour cool before slicing it. Gah… that took way longer than I expected. I thought I’d be eating it by now.

It rained again this morning, but cleared up by the afternoon. I think tomorrow is supposed to be warm again. The other main thing I did today was write my lesson for the next week’s ethics class starting tomorrow, on the topic of “Fear”.

New content today:

And a reasonable first day of winter

It was supposed to be warm today, 23°C forecast, but the temperature barely reached 19°C, and it was overcast until the late afternoon. It didn’t feel too bad though.

Today marks 5 years since Scully joined our household!

Scully, Gotcha Day 5

Here she is this afternoon. I remember the day we picked her up from the breeder. It was a really really cold day, out in the countryside. We stopped on the way back to eat at a cafe, having to sit outside because of Scully, and wrapping ourselves in blankets to avoid freezing. I think it was like 4°C or something.

For dinner tonight I made a fancy meal: roast pumpkin with home-made labne, a sage and burnt butter sauce with home-grown lime, pomegranate, and toasted pepitas.

Baked pumpkin with labne and sage butter sauce

I’ve been wanting to try making labne for ages. I bought some cheesecloth a while back, but this is the first time I’ve tried using it. I put a large tub (900 g) of plain yoghurt, mixed with about a quarter teaspoon of salt, into the cheesecloth yesterday, in a large sieve, and let it drain over a bowl in the fridge overnight.

Today I ended up with almost 300 mL of whey drained off the yoghurt (leavig I assume about 600 g of labne), which I used instead of water to make a loaf of sourdough (which is still rising, and I’ll bake soon). So I’ll be interested to see how that turns out too.

New content today:

Last day of Data Engineering class

The university Data Engineering course ends this week. The students have until Friday night to submit their final reports and presentation videos, but today was the last tutorial session. I went in after my three morning ethics classes.

When I got into the city, I noticed everything was wet from rain, with puddles everywhere as though it had been very recent, although I hadn’t noticed any rain all morning, and the sky was mostly clear. There were a few dark clouds around the horizon, so they must have blown over and dumped rain on the city quickly.

The class went generally well, except for one annoying thing which I probably shouldn’t go into further here. Suffice to say I needed to call the professor to deal with queries from some of the students.

At home tonight I made satay sauce to go with steamed broccoli, green beans, and rice. And I threw a few cashews in for good measure. I use this recipe for satay sauce, tweaking the amounts slightly to taste – well, I never measure them exactly to start with, so I end up adjusting things a bit after tasting. I’ve found it’s the best of a few that I’ve tried. Oh, I also add a bit of turmeric as well.

Monday has been my busy day since the Data Engineering class started, but now I get a bit of a reprieve, before Image Processing starts on Thursday nights on second semester.

New content today:

Quitting before the end

This morning I had a new student in one of my ethics classes. I was halfway through teaching the class when I got an email notification, and I could see part of my mail client in another window behind the Zoom window, and saw enough of the subject to know that it was a student unenrolling notice from Outschool. Curious to know who it was, I clicked it and saw that it was the new student I was in the middle of talking to, and the reason given for unenrolling was “don’t like the class”. With over 200 students so far going through my classes, I’ve seen reasons mostly like “parent has a schedule conflict” or “student has a schedule conflict” or “taking a break” or whatever – this is the first time I’ve ever seen anyone say they didn’t like the class.

And I still had to teach this kid for another 20 minutes! I thought it had been going well, with the kid answering questions and giving good explanations. I wonder if it was more the subject matter this week (“getting even”), and they would have liked it more in a different week.

We reached the end of the class, still with no sign from the kid that they hadn’t enjoyed it. I decided to just do my regular end of lesson summary for new students, in which I suggest they can discuss the class with their parents and use it to start a family discussion on the topic. And at that point in the Zoom video I saw this kid shake their head quite vigorously, clearly indicating they were not going to do that.

I’m guessing the kid didn’t make the call. Often on first lessons a parent sits next to them out of the Zoom video, to supervise, and I’m thinking the parent decided and made the cancellation. Oh well. I have hundreds of happy kids and parents. I suppose it had to happen eventually that one just didn’t like it!

For lunch I took Scully for a drive to the Allambie Pie Shop. I tried their pumpkin and feta pie today, which was really nice. Im glad I found this place – they make really good pies, and it’s closer than the Collaroy pie shop for a mid-week lunch drive. And there’s a soccer field a short walk away, where I can let Scully run around and chase a ball for a while to get some energy out.

This afternoon I worked on writing more Darths & Droids strips. I was over a week ahead a few weeks back, but the buffer has been burnt away with the fact that I’ve been busy on other stuff recently. I need to build it back up again before our trip to Japan next month.

For dinner tonight I had Brussels sprouts which I’d bought last grocery shop, and I wondered what to make with them. For the evening walk, I took Scully past the nearest supermarket, and popped in quickly to grab a couple of potatoes. I made chilli-miso sprouts, accompanied by garlic mashed potatoes.

New content today:

A survey of data engineering projects

Monday morning, 8am ethics class is the new schedule for winter. So I need to get up a little early and grab breakfast and get ready. We finished off the cloning topic, ready for Tuesday to start a new topic for the next week. Tomorrow morning I’ll need to write that lesson.

After lunch I walked Scully over to my wife’s work where she could mind her while I went in to the university for the first week of project work for the Data Engineering students. They have two weeks to write a project planning report, outlining what they intend to study and how, and then two further weeks to do the project and write a final report on the outcomes, as well as recording presentation videos. (All of which I have to mark…)

Today I walked around all the tables and asked each group what they planned to work on. It was a diverse range of project ideas. Some samples:

  • Looking at food prices in developing countries to see if they are affected/correlated with climate, economy, and other factors.
  • Examining agricultural output versus weather.
  • Checking for any effects on the consumer price index and other economic indicators of the COVID pandemic.
  • Collecting data on person and car movements at various times of the day and week in the vicinity of the university to determine any patterns.
  • Examining and comparing the image quality of difference phone cameras.
  • Studying the extent of glaciers over many years compared to weather records.
  • Determining if electricity consumption is affected by factors such as wind speed, temperatures, and building parameters such as height of building.
  • Characterising the popularity of video games on Steam versus time, looking at factors such as genre.
  • Modelling diabetes risk factor as a function of various demographic and health measurements.
  • Determining if the investment returns of US members of Congress outperforms stock market indices.
  • And the moon phase correlations one I mentioned last week.

So a really interesting range of projects!

For dinner tonight I made pizza. We got a new bag of bread flour in the groceries on Friday. Normally I get one brand, but it was out, so the supermarket replaced it in the online order with a different brand. It feels really different – finer and denser. And I think the pizza dough turned out a bit different, maybe a touch lighter, chewier, and crustier. I’m also making a new sourdough loaf tonight, so tomorrow morning when I bake it we’ll see if that is any different too.

New content today: