Serial dog names

I learnt something interesting the other day. Our newish neighbours downstairs have a kelpie, but we haven’t met her (the dog) until just a few days ago. I was bringing Scully in from a walk through the garage and we bumped into one of the neighbours getting out of her car, and the dog was in the back. So we had a chat and let the dogs meet each other for the first time.

The dog’s name is Chilli. Not sure if she’s named after Bluey’s mother or not. But anyway, I suddenly realised today that the previous dog downstairs belonging to the previous neighbours was Billie. I hope the next two dogs that live down there are Fili and Kili. (My friends asked me if the dog before Billie was named Allie or Ali, but alas it was Spike.)

Today was busy with ethics classes on the “Arguments” topic. It’s an interesting topic and I think is getting the kids thinking about stuff they’ve never thought about before. One girl’s mother today sent me a message saying that she’d been sent home from school sick and might miss this evening’s class. But she liked the class and wanted to attend, so might show up after sleeping all afternoon. And indeed she turned up.

I spent some time dealing with household finances, downloading about six months worth of bills for various things and saving them, and updating a tax spreadsheet with stuff. Pretty dull, but necessary.

And I started work on a special feature for Darths & Droids. I’m planning at some point soonish to release a bunch of our behind-the-scenes planning notes and director’s commentaries on individual strips, so interested readers can trawl through them and perhaps find interesting details they didn’t know, and get some insights into the creative process behind it all. it’s going to be a lot of work formatting it into HTML, so it’ll be a background task for several months probably.

And no rain for the third day in a row!

New content today:

A Monday off, sort of

I had nothing on my calendar for today. I used the time to work on a bunch of new comics for Darths & Droids. I wrote four strips, with help from co-authors, and made two of them. I could make another but it’s getting late.

The main exciting thing about today was the weather. The morning began thickly overcast, warming up with a stifling humidity. I took Scully for a walk at 08:30, and by the time we got home I had to change my shirt because it was soaked through with sweat.

The storm rolled in at midday. Thunder and lightning cracked across the sky. And then the rain pelted down. The gutters here overflowed within minutes, sending great sheets of water down past my windows. It was torrential. It eased off to steady hard rain, but intensified again and varied back and forth for about three hours. We recorded almost 30 mm of rain in those three hours. The storm caused flash flooding across the city.

There was a lot of lightning – the evening news said 75,000 strikes were recorded in the Sydney area. One of my friends’ office building was struck, shorting all the power including the lifts, doors, and fire panels. Nearly 20,000 homes were blacked out. And four people were struck by lighting and are now in serious condition in hospital. There were a couple of cracks of thunder that must have been lightning striking very close to my home.

It eased off later in the afternoon, and I managed to take Scully for a walk about 4:30pm, in just light rain. The creek in the park across the road was roaring with water. Normally it’s nothing more than a trickle. I wondered if our garage would have flooded again, but we’ve had new water pumps installed after the last time, and while there were some small pools in places there was no flooding.

I didn’t have any work for the day, but I did have to deal with a bunch of administrative emails from Outschool parents and kids, asking if there was a class today – they must have missed/forgotten the news that there were no classes this week. I had one ask for a refund for the missing class, unaware that they’d paid a week in advance for next week’s class, and last week they hadn’t been charged for this week’s (missing) one.

For dinner I made pizza with zucchini flowers that my wife had bought at the farmer’s market on Saturday.

New content today:

Catching up on buffering comics

Most of what I have to report today is really just working on Darths & Droids, writing and making comics to increase the strip buffer back to something more respectable than working just one strip ahead. It’s the first chance I’ve had to do this in a while, so I wanted to make the most of it.

The only other slightly unusual thing I can think of today is that I made French toast for breakfast. I don’t do this often – I usually just have home made muesli (weekdays) or Weet-Bix (weekends). But my wife bought a challah loaf yesterday, and I wanted to make the most of it by using that delicious soft bread.

Scully is back on her normal food after Friday’s dental work, and seems to be fully recovered.

I’m reaching for anything interesting here…

New content today:

Summarising Star Wars Episode VIII

Today I used the opportunity provided by having a week off ethics classes due to COVID to catch up on some work that I was behind on for Darths & Droids. Normally for each Star Wars movie I go through the video file scene by scene and write a summary of every scene in the film, to use as a reference for planning our story. But when Episode VIII began not too long ago, I didn’t have time to do this, so we’ve been winging it a little bit, with less than our usual preparation work. But it’s getting to a stage of the story where we need to be more careful in planning ahead, so I bit the bullet today and wrote the summary.

This involved about 3 or 4 hours sitting with the ripped video files and winding them forwards and backwards, pausing every few seconds to type out a quick summary of each scene. It’s much slower than just watching the movie.

This morning right after breakfast my wife wanted to take a walk outside to get some fresh air and hopefully help tail end of COVID feel better. We walked with Scully over to the Naremburn bakery where my wife had a coffee, and I had a really nice lamington. We sat on a bench away fro the cafe tables to avoid being too close to anyone. It rained a bit walking there and back, but not too heavily, and it was nice to be out and get Scully some exercise after yesterday when we mostly sat inside all day.

New content today:

Making cast pages

The weather today was cooler and overcast all day. Apparently we might even get some rain overnight.

I spent too much time today updating cast pages on Darths & Droids. I added a lot of characters to the page for Episode VII, and I created a new page for Episode VIII. You’d think that this wouldn’t take very long, but somehow it occupied pretty much my whole day.

It was broken up by going for a run this morning, then taking Scully out for a walk, and then having lunch, and then going for a longer walk with Scully and my wife, and then cooking pizza for dinner (mushroom tonight, and I added some fried leftover Christmas ham cubes to my slices after cooking).

My wife went out for lunch, meeting an old friend of hers, and Scully got to go and meet her dog Bella. This is the friend who sometimes minds Scully for us when we travel, so Scully and Bella know each other well. She said that she could mind Scully for us in June when we’re planning to go to Japan for the ISO Photography plenary meeting in Okayama. Our plan is for me to attend the meeting while my wife explore Okayama, and then we’ll move on to Kyoto for a week or so, maybe spending a day or two in some smaller town to spread our experience around a bit.

Tomorrow we’re planning to do a day trip, driving out to Berrima and Bowral. We booked a lunch in Berrima, which will hopefully be nice.

New content today:

Comics and critical thinking about holidays

This morning I concentrated on writing and making new Darths & Droids strips. At lunch I took Scully for a longish walk to the good bakery. Near it is a fish & chips shop, not the nearby one that I usually go to, and when I tried it a while back it was very good, so I got some fish & chips from there. Oddly, it didn’t seem as good as the other time.

This evening I had the first three classes of this week’s new ethics topic: Holidays. This is a special topic for the last class of the year, as I’m taking some time off over the Christmas period after this next week. It seems a pretty straightforward topic so far – I don’t think there were any particularly amusing comments form the kids so far.

And of course I’ve been playing with ChatGPT a bit more. Literally:

A ChatGPT conversation where I play rock-paper-scissors


New content today:

Approaching The Last Jedi

The mornings are getting warmer, so I did a 2.5k run first thing, right after breakfast, before the day got too hot. Also, the jacaranda trees are coming into flower. Right on cue, as we slide into November, the peak flowering season for these beautiful trees.

Most of today I spent working on Darths & Droids comics. We’re almost at the end of The Force Awakens, and we’ve started planning ahead into The Last Jedi in the past week. I wrote all of the strips up to the end of the first sequel movie, and made a couple of them. In the coming week I’ll start thinking about how we kick off the next movie. After the usual three-strip intermission, of course.

Instead of going on a big walk for lunch, my wife wanted to work on her sewing until mid-afternoon, so we went out then for afternoon tea, to the nice bakery. I tried a Paris-Brest, which honestly I was not familiar with as a type of pastry. It appears it’s a traditional French pastry, but it must not be very popular/common here in Australia, because I’ve never encountered one before. It was pretty nice, though I think I prefer the banoffee tart. (I’m also reminded of the first time I encountered “banoffee” as a thing – it was in England in 2009. I saw a “banoffee pie” on the dessert menu at a restaurant and had to ask what that meant, as I’d never seen it before. It’s since made it over to Australia and is one of my favourite things.)

This evening I had two more of my Monster topic ethics classes. In the second class, the four kids were very interested in the idea that monster stories are created to reflect fears that people have about the real world, and were having some really deep discussion about the idea.

New content today:

Games night and comicking day

Friday was games night at one of my friends’ place. First up we had a quick game of Draftosaurus. I actually managed to win this one, with a big collection of diverse dinosaurs in one pen that got me a lot of points.

After that we played a new game: Awkward Guests. It’s a bit like Cluedo, only done right, without the superfluous dice rolling and moving around a game board. And there are hundreds of clue cards, which can be combined in multiple ways to construct many different crimes to solve. The piecing together of clues is clever and fun, and it really requires some thought to play effectively and hopefully pin down the murderer correctly and first.

After that we played a game of 7 Wonders, an old favourite online, but with physical cards, which is something we haven’t done for many years. And then we split into two groups of 3 players each and I played Quacks of Quedlinburg – I don’t remember what the other group of 3 played.

I didn’t win any of the other games, but had fun, so that’s all that matters!

Today (Saturday) I did my 2.5k run early, and then spent much of the day writing and making new Darths & Droids comics. I need to get a few queued up before the trip to Orange that I’m taking with my wife and Scully from Tuesday.

I’m also trying to use up all our vegetables before we leave. I was talking with my wife about how to divide them up into dinners, and we decided tonight to make mushroom and zucchini risotto. Tomorrow will be mushroom and spinach pizza, and Monday will be spinach and potato dhal.

New content yesterday:

New content today:

Teacher shortages and secret project unveiling

Those two things in the title are unrelated.

First up, this morning I received a message through Outschool, from someone who said they were a parent, but also affiliated with a private school in Texas. They said they had an emergency situation and were looking for a teacher to take the school’s final year high school class in optics and astronomy. For 8 hours a week, for six weeks. They said face to face was preferable, but they could do it by Zoom if necessary given my location.

They must have checked my Outschool profile, and possibly also my LinkedIn and academic publications, because this is well within my capabilities and experience. And honestly if it had been a school where I live in Sydney, I would have considered it. But Texas school hours are roughly midnight-6am here…. so that would be pretty terrible. (And there’s no way I’m travelling to Texas for this.) So I declined. I’d heard that there’s a shortage of teachers in some parts of the US, but I didn’t expect schools there to approach me!

While on Outschool, besides two ethics classes on Art today, I had another science lesson with the girl who has been doing those with me sporadically for a while. Today we went over the science of cloning, and applications of the technology. I cheated a little and used some of the material and slides I made for the ethics topic on cloning a couple of weeks ago, but I added more scientific explanations.

I did another 2.5k run today, backing up from yesterday. I did a good time yesterday after pushing myself, but today I decided to take it easier, and ran almost a full minute slower.

The other thing that happened today is the secret project I’ve been hinting at over the past several weeks has finally gone live! It’s a Darths & Droids related project, and if you haven’t noticed it already, you can find it linked from today’s new strip. If you look carefully…

There’s been a lot of work put into this, and I’m very excited that it’s now live. I’m waiting for the reader reactions to start rolling in as people discover it and start commenting about it.

Oh, and here’s Scully at the pizza place where we went for dinner last night.

Scully at the pizza place

(No, she didn’t get any of the pizza. We don’t feed her from the table.)

New content today:

Comic crunching

Today I had a few chores to do: grocery shopping, tidying up some laundry.

And I spent some time working on writing Darths & Droids comics, to try to build up enough buffer to last through my upcoming trip to Europe in a couple of weeks. Two weeks from today I’ll be flying out to Germany for my next ISO Photography standards meeting. My wife is coming with me and we’ll be spending a few days sightseeing in the Netherlands afterwards before flying home.

That prior meeting online that I mentioned a few days ago turned out to be at 3 am in my time zone. I have no idea how the invitation managed to know that and convert the time zone. Anyway, the convener apologised for the inconvenient time for me and said it wasn’t essential that I attend, so I’ve sent my apologies.

Tonight is real life games night, but I’ve excused myself because I needed some time to relax and spend with my wife and do a few more tasks rather than spend the entire evening out. We went for pizza at our favourite local place. It was really cold, but nice to go out and have a walk.

New content today: