Last meal…

Today was a pretty routine day. I took Scully for a walk, lost a tennis ball in the Harbour… on my very first throw as well. There’s a park I take her to next to the water, and the grass just runs up to an edge and then drops off into the water. I try to avoid having the ball roll off but I must have lost half a dozen balls in that water. And once it’s in, there’s no way to get it back (without a fishing net on a pole or getting very wet). So rather than have her chase the ball, I just had to run around and have her chase me to get some exercise.

I spent much of the rest of the day writing Darths & Droids comics, chatting with co-authors on our Discord server.

And I had my last meal… until Thursday. I’m into the final day of fasting before a colonoscopy on Thursday. I can’t eat anything on Wednesday, though I need to have lots of water and stuff with sugars and salts in it to stay hydrated.

So tonight for a last meal I made something a bit special for dinner. Pancakes with mushrooms. It sounds weird, I know, but I got the idea from a vegetarian restaurant we went to some time back. They had a dish that was a small stack of savoury pancakes, topped with a medley of fried mushrooms in a delicious sauce. It was delicious, and I’ve copied it and made a similar dish at home a few times. It fit within my pre-colonoscopy-week dietary restrictions and I decided it would be a nice treat.

New content today:

Solo Sunday

Solo Sunday in more ways than one. My wife took Scully and went to visit her mum today, and I used the time to sit down and rewatch Solo (a Star Wars story), in preparation for starting planning on converting it into a Darths & Droids story. Yes, we’re planning ahead that far now. I think it’s only my third time watching it through, and there were several plot points I’d forgotten about, so I’m glad I did it.

This evening I had a cooking emergency, precipitated by my habitual lack of mise en place (as mentioned in the last new Irregular Webcomic!). I started boiling up some pasta, intending to just throw some pesto from a jar onto it. The pasta was boiling away, when I went to the fridge to grab the pesto… and there was none. And no spare jar in the pantry (where there is usually a spare).

So suddenly I had 10 minutes to make a pasta sauce/topping. And working with the constraints that I’m currently on a restricted diet in preparation for a colonoscopy in a few days – no seeds, and nothing coloured red. So no tomatoes.

I quickly went into a cooking frenzy, chopping broccoli into tiny florets, frying it up in olive oil, adding pine nuts, fresh garlic, chili, and then shaving some parmesan cheese to sprinkle on top once it was done. I also added a squirt of lemon juice once it was all prepared and served. It turned out pretty well! Phew. Another triumph for No-mise-en-place-man!

In other news, I got an email from the organisers of the market where I have my stall, selling photography print. They have cancelled the markets for August and September (which would have been three markets), due to caution over COVID cases in Sydney. So that’s another two months without any face-to-face selling income or handing out business cards.

New content today:

Star Wars day

I was pretty much immersed in Star Wars today. In the context of thinking about Darths & Droids story and writing, and then assembling a set of new comics. I wrote a lot of background material and story planning notes. Which I can’t share at this time.

The other main thing I did was bake some bread, which is a bit time consuming, with all the kneading and letting it rise and so on. I haven’t done it for a while because of my hand injury, which would have made it tricky to knead the dough as required. The current mix I’m using is soy and linseed, which I’m not as happy with as the sourdough mix that I bought previously. The resulting bread is a bit crumbly, almost slightly cakey in texture, rather than pliable and breadlike. I guess the flour doesn’t have quite as much gluten in it as it could.

New content today:

Magic: the Gathering and the axiom of choice

After yesterday’s exertions on the golf course, I took it a bit easier today. Mostly I worked on Darths & Droids story planning, but I took a lunch break to walk up to the local shops and get a chicken burger for lunch.

I also had some interesting discussions with friends in our online chat. Some of it was Darths & Droids story planning, so I won’t go into that further. But somehow we segued into a discussion of the phasing rules in Magic: the Gathering – I think prompted by Mark Rosewater’s latest design article, in which he says:

We’re experimenting with making phasing deciduous.

Okay, this probably makes no sense if you don’t know the early history of Magic: the Gathering, but bear with me. Phasing is a rule that first appeared in the game in 1996, but which was considered too confusing and cumbersome to use again. But now they’re playing with bringing it back, at least in a limited way. (“Deciduous” in the above quote means a rule mechanic that they always consider available to include in new card sets if it makes sense for that set.)

Phasing, in essence, is an effect that makes cards in play behave as though they are not in play – they “phase out” for a turn and then reappear. While phased out, nothing can affect them, nor can the phased out card affect anything else. It’s as if they are briefly shunted to another reality.

In the ensuing discussion, I said they shouldn’t merely have one “alternate reality” – things should be able to phase into specific other realities, of which there could be several… or even infinitely many. Then if you have two infinite sets of alternate realities orthogonal to one another, and you reference them by real numbers (i.e. all the integers, rationals, algebraic irrationals, and transcendental numbers), you could phase all of your creatures in such a way that you could duplicate them using the Banach-Tarski theorem. (For a reminder on why that premise leads to that conclusion, refer to my Irregular Webcomic! annotation on the Banach-Tarski theorem.)

Someone of course immediately pointed out that you can only use the Banach-Tarski theorem if you assume the axiom of choice to be true. (For a simple primer on the axiom of choice, see my annotation on that.)

Then someone else said that rule 722.2a of the Comprehensive Rules of Magic: the Gathering (June 1, 2020 edition) might actually imply the axiom of choice. Rules 722.2a says:

722.2a At any point in the game, the player with priority may suggest a shortcut by describing a sequence of game choices, for all players, that may be legally taken based on the current game state and the predictable results of the sequence of choices. This sequence may be a non-repetitive series of choices, a loop that repeats a specified number of times, multiple loops, or nested loops, and may even cross multiple turns. It can’t include conditional actions, where the outcome of a game event determines the next action a player takes. The ending point of this sequence must be a place where a player has priority, though it need not be the player proposing the shortcut.

Example: A player controls a creature enchanted by Presence of Gond, which grants the creature the ability “{T}: Create a 1/1 green Elf Warrior creature token,” and another player controls Intruder Alarm, which reads, in part, “Whenever a creature enters the battlefield, untap all creatures.” When the player has priority, they may suggest “I’ll create a million tokens,” indicating the sequence of activating the creature’s ability, all players passing priority, letting the creature’s ability resolve and create a token (which causes Intruder Alarm’s ability to trigger), Intruder Alarm’s controller putting that triggered ability on the stack, all players passing priority, Intruder Alarm’s triggered ability resolving, all players passing priority until the player proposing the shortcut has priority, and repeating that sequence 999,999 more times, ending just after the last token-creating ability resolves.

The argument is that it is not only possible within the rules of MtG to produce a loop of actions, but nested loops of actions, and at each loop this rule says you can specify how many times the loop is executed. If the nest of loops is infinitely deep, this means that you are effectively choosing an element from each of an infinite number of sets, where each set contains an infinite number of elements. The rules of the game say you can do this. Therefore the rules of the game say that you can apply the axiom of choice.

This is, in mathematical terms, a rather simplistic case and doesn’t (I believe) in fact rely on the axiom of choice to be doable in an actual game (although I may be wrong), but that didn’t stop us having a fun discussion about it. It was topped off by the original proposer of the example of rule 722.2a saying:

I’m not sure what it says about us that I can say “the Magic: the Gathering comprehensive rules imply the axiom of choice” as a throwaway joke, and the responses are “your rule numbering is out of date”, “no they don’t” and “actually maybe they do” (and not, for example, “ha”, “what the fuck”, or “you nerd”).

This is nowhere near the nerdiest argument we’ve ever had, by the way…

New content today:

Blurry days

The last several days are starting to blur together in a melange of restricted left hand mobility, taking Scully for walks, and mostly working on Darths & Droids. We’ve done a lot of story planning in the past week, and I’ve written thousands of words of notes. Today I switched to actually writing scripts for comics and assembling comics, which are needed for the next week or so of publication.

I also spent a bit of time updating one of the old Sydney walks I did with a couple of new photos of an historical building. I only learnt about this building while doing research for the photos that I had taken earlier, and I decided I had to go back and find it and get some photos. It’s an old stable that was part of a 19th century estate – you can read the history and see the photos here (scroll down near the bottom for the “Valetta” stables).

Valetta stables, Artarmon

My hand has been giving me some pain today, and last night while trying to sleep. I keep trying to do little tasks using my left hand, and end up with some sort of muscle twitch that aches for a while. I have to keep reminding myself that I don’t have full movement or strength in it yet.

New content today:

Evil plots

Sunday morning saw another sleep in. I slept with my bandaged hand tucked under the quilt for the first time – it felt a bit weird but was okay. Better than resting my arm on top where it was cold all night the last few nights. The fingers are getting more flexible and stronger, and I can now type with two hands, although only using one finger on my left hand.

My wife and I went for another big walk with Scully this morning, though not as long as yesterday.

Scully on Berrys Bay

Well, that photo is actually from yesterday, but it’s nice so I thought I’d share it today.

This afternoon I spent dedicated to brainstorming and plotting more Darths & Droids story material, with some of my co-writers. We wrote almost 2000 more words of story notes, and now have a significantly better plan for how the story progresses through Episodes 7 and 8.

My wife cooked dinner again tonight. Pea soup, with fried halloumi as a vegetarian substitute for ham/bacon. It was delicious… and I’m not just saying that because I didn’t have to do any of the work. 🙂

New content today:

Star Wars day

More Darths & Droids plotting today. I watched some more of The Force Awakens and came up with a question about one of the scenes in the film that is not particularly well explained. In discussion with co-writers, we wrote over 2000 words of story notes to explain this one scene in the film – maybe 5 seconds or so long.

I also converted another Imgur album of a suburban walking photo essay to a web page hosted on my site. I enhanced it with some additional research into historic buildings that I’d photographed along the way, learning a lot of interesting stuff about them.

New content today:

A very rainy day

Yesterday was very windy, today was very rainy. It’s been raining more or less all day, and has become steady and heavy during the afternoon and into the evening. It was light this morning, and I took the chance to take Scully for a walk up the street to the shops and back.

Last night when I took her out for pre-bedtime toilet, I was fortunate enough to see a meteor! I was only outside with her for a few minutes, but I habitually look up to observe the stars while outside and waiting for Scully to toilet. At the moment Scorpius is high in the sky around 10pm when I go out, and I’ve been observing it slowly climbing higher each night for several weeks as the stars wheel about the sky slightly faster than the sun. It’s one of my favourite constellations, with the instantly recognisable claws and spiralling tail, with the red heart of Antares at the centre. It’s beautiful, and it makes having to go out into the cold autumn/winter nights a bit more bearable.

Anyway, last night I looked up, as usual, to take in Scorpius above, and as I was looking, there was a brief flash and streak of white light, running across Scorpius from roughly north-east to south-west. I’ve seen meteors before and know what they look like (and I have a degree in astrophysics), and this was definitely one. So, cool!

Today I spent a lot of time going through Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens, not quite frame by frame, but at least shot by shot, transcribing a list of scenes and shots for reference during story planning for Darths & Droids. I didn’t get through the whole film… I got through a bit less than an hour of it. But I noted several things relevant to our story, and had a big discussion with my co-writers via online chat, which led to some significant ideas and plotting notes. It was a day very well spent on the creative front. Now I just need to repeat that much productivity again, to complete a full scene by scene breakdown of the whole film. (I’d previously done the first 20 minutes or so prior to starting work on writing for the film.)

New content today:

Long slog

So yesterday I intended to write at least three Darths & Droids strips, and got zero done. Rinse, repeat. I did however, get some story planning done, and discuss some plot points with fellow writers. So that wasn’t a total loss.

What did I get done today? Hmm. Oh that’s right, I played golf this morning with a friend, at the pitch ‘n’ putt course (all holes par 3). After last time I lost badly with a matchplay/skins handicap of 16, my friend granted me an increase to 17. But today I played a lot better, and ended up winning 12-6. So next time we play there I’ll go back down to a handicap of 16. My total round for 18 holes was 79 strokes, which was 2 better than my previous record of 81. So I was pretty pleased with that!

I didn’t get home until after lunch, so that’s where half my day went. I spent some time dealing with housework stuff – we had to buy a new vacuum cleaner because our old one broke the other day, and I had some unboxing and then discarding of packaging and the old vacuum cleaner to do.

And there was some Scully walking… in the rain, as the weather closed in a bit after lunch. Walking a dog in nice weather is fine, but having to do it in inclement, cold weather is a bit of a chore.

This evening I’m playing some Codenames online with some friends. My team-mate just clued “LINUS 2” and I guessed the words PUMPKIN and VAN (from the grid of 25 words), and got them correct. And both of our opponents were absolutely mystified as to how I managed to guess the correct words!

New content today: