Start me up

This morning I decided to kickstart some exercise routines again, and I went out for a jog around the streets. I didn’t want to start with a full 5k run, so I cut a large loop off my normal circuit, and also took the pace a little easier than when I was running regularly earlier this year. I did 2.25 km, and was feeling good at the end, like I could have kept going at least a bit longer. It probably helped that I skipped the hilliest parts of my normal route. Afterwards I did a stretching routine that I haven’t done for ages as well… my flexibility has decayed quite a bit.

I spent most of today working on new Darths & Droids strips. I also took Scully out to the dog park for the first time in weeks, now that the COVID lockdown restrictions have been eased back to allow you to meet with a friend or two in an outdoor setting, so long as everyone is vaccinated.

For dinner tonight, I made a pesto, pumpkin, and pistachio pizza. It also had chunks of fried haloumi on it, which added a nice saltiness.

Pesto, pumpkin, pistachio pizza

A friend pointed out that the haiku I wrote a few days ago had an error, with “frangipani summer” being 6 syllables. I completely missed that at the time! And there isn’t an easy fix either. Oh well. I claim the Japanese principle of wabi-sabi on that one!

But inspired by another prompt: “The Secret Lives of Vegetables”:

Soft dewy morning
Refreshingly crisp and green
Cucumber dreaming

Flowers of passion
Fecund seeds swell in their beds
Conceiving pumpkins

Furtive green hairdos
Possessors shyly hiding
Carrot introverts

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A big lockdown walk – and backups

My wife had her first COVID vaccination this morning, and I went out at the same time to take Scully on a walk while my wife went to the clinic. I decided on a longer walk to get some fresh air and exercise – during this COVID lockdown in which exercise is one of the valid reasons for being out of home.

I walked a couple of suburbs over to the Italian bakery that I like. It’s a bit under 3 km away, according to my Strava tracking. It was close to midday, so I stopped in for a pie for lunch. There was some confusion as I asked if they had the roast chicken pie and the lady said they only had curry chicken left. So I asked for a curry chicken pie and a beef pie, and she said no they only had curry chicken. I could see maybe 30 pies spread over two shelves of the pie warmer, thinking that normally the chicken pies would be on one shelf and the beef pies on another shelf – so I’d naturally assumed they must have had some beef ones in there.

Okay then. I asked for a chicken curry pie and a sausage roll. The lady said they were out off sausage rolls, despite the fact that I could also see three of them right there. I was a little lost for words as I looked blankly between her and the pie warmer. It was only then that she said that most of the pies and all the sausage rolls had been sold, they were just waiting to be picked up by customers.

With comprehension finally dawning, I realised I’d need something else to make up my lunch. I looked at some sweet options, but I hadn’t wanted to get anything sweet. Then the lady suggested the pizza slices! So I went with a curry chicken pie and a slice of potato and rosemary pizza. While bakeries in Australia virtually all sell meat pies, it’s very rare for them to sell pizza. It’s only because this bakery is extremely Italian that they do pizza as well.

Anyway, I enjoyed my lunch, sitting on a nearby bench with Scully. We saw someone walk by with a standard poodle, deep black like her, and about 5 times as tall! The contrast was pretty amusing. Back home I did a bunch of maintenance tasks on my computer and with various bookkeeping stuff that needed to be done. I squeezed in a bit of comic writing as well.

Oh, and I looked into some offsite backup options for keeping my files safe. One possibility I looked into was iCloud. I haven’t been using iCloud to store my Desktop and Documents from my Mac, because I have way too much stuff for the free file storage limit. I noticed that Apple offers 2 TB of iCloud storage for a not-unreasonable monthly cost, which would be enough to copy all of my roughly 1.3 TB of documents, photos, and videos. It should be as simple as subscribing to the monthly payment plan, and checking the box on my machine’s iCloud storage preferences marked “Desktop & Documents Folders”…

But some research indicates that:

  • My current Documents folder (without photos and videos) is 113 GB.
  • The typical upload speed on my broadband access is 19 Mbps.
  • This means it would take at least 13 hours to upload(!).
  • When you check the box to store “Desktop & Documents Folders” on iCloud, it just starts uploading everything, chewing up as much bandwidth as possible, until it’s done. And there’s no way to manage it by splitting it up into smaller sections or scheduling chunks to be uploaded at some slower speed.

Now, I could work around this by manually moving chunks of documents to another location temporarily, to give me some chunking control of the uploads at least. But I don’t know what this will do to my local incremental backups of my entire machine… I don’t want to suddenly have duplicates of 100 GB of files in my backups. Not to mention that if I want to put all my photos into iCloud, that’s another 1.2 terabytes (or 140 hours) of uploading…

So… I think iCloud will need to stay as just a method to share the relatively fewer documents that I really want to access on my iPad or phone, and I’ll have to look at some other solution as an actual offsite backup. To be clear, I have a full local backup system in place. I just want to add the extra protection of an offsite backup. I’ll either have to look into other cloud solutions or, possibly more likely at this point, just buy another 5 TB drive, do a second local backup, and give the drive a place to live away from home somewhere (a friend or relative’s place), where I can retrieve it every week or two to update the backup.

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The New South Wales Government has given all adult residents $100 worth of vouchers as a COVID economic stimulus, to be spent at participating businesses. $50 is for dining, which is easy to spend, and I’ve already used mine. The other $50 is for “discovery”, which is activities such as museums, movies, cultural activities, and outdoor events. I was trying to think what I can use mine for and then I remembered I had the idea a while back to hire a kayak and paddle around Sydney Harbour. I checked, and the nearest kayak hire place to me accepts the vouchers.

So this morning I went over and hired a kayak for a couple of hours!

Kayaking on Middle Harbour

I started here near the Spit Bridge, which spans Middle Harbour, one of the large inlets within Sydney Harbour. This area s a bit more suburban than the city centre and its famous sights, so I didn’t see any of that from the water today. Instead I paddled around marinas full of expensive yachts and cruisers…

Kayaking on Middle Harbour

past fancy water view houses…

Kayaking on Middle Harbour

along bushland foreshore edged with sandstone and oysters…

Kayaking on Middle Harbour

and past some beautiful harbour beaches…

Kayaking on Middle Harbour

The photos are slightly fuzzy because I had my phone in a waterproof baggie, and was taking photos through the clear plastic. I was paddling around for two hours, under a beautiful blue sky (although it was tinged a bit brown around the horizon with smoke from hazard reduction burning in bushland near the edge of the city). The temperature was a pleasant 22°C today and just a very light breeze. It was a gorgeous day to be out and about on the water.

Here’s a map of where I paddled today:

Kayak Map

Afterwards I stopped off on the way home to get lunch at a French patisserie. I had a chicken pie, followed by a slice of their lemon meringue tart:

Lemon meringue

The calories don’t count because of all the paddling!

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Back into running, and dog bandanas

Today I felt like I needed to get back into running, after a long break due to my trip away, followed by a week of heavy rain. My last 5k run was 3 March, so it’s been almost 4 weeks. I decided to take it a bit easy rather than strive for a good time. And I was forced to stop at the half-way mark to remove a painful stone from my shoe, which affected my time anyway. But I managed to keep the time under 30 minutes at 29:28, which I was reasonably happy with.

Apart from that I mostly worked on Darths & Droids writing and making new strips today. I still have to rebuild the buffer a bit more after my week away.

I also baked some sourdough this morning, and I’m glad to say the starter seems to have survived a week of neglect while I was away.

Oh, and I drew up a sizing chart for my wife’s hand-sewn dog bandanas (as in drew by hand) – which you can see on all of the listings on her brand new Etsy shop! If you have a pet and would like a cool bandana, check it out!

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Run, Forrest, Run!

I went running today for the first time since Monday last week (10 days ago). I intended to do a run earlier than this, but circumstances conspired to keep me busy during the cool mornings. It was a warm sunny morning today, and I felt out of practice and like I was going very slowly. I was prepared for a bed time…

But I was surprised when I finished the 5 kilometres and found my time to be 27:58, which is my best time on this particular route. So that was pretty good!

More comic writing work today. I need to get ahead in the buffering because my wife and I have a short road trip holiday planned in a couple of weeks.

New content today:

Running and sliding

It was time for another 5k run this morning. Nice cool weather, after the past few days of late summer heat. I clocked 28:15, over 40 seconds faster than the last two efforts. Strava also told me that I ran the first mile in my best ever time over that distance, a flat 8:00 minutes. I suppose I could probably do a mile faster than that, but I’ve never specifically run that distance and then stopped.

Back home I baked sourdough. I’ve tried increasing the semolina content again, this time to a full third of the total mass of flour. The dough was noticeably softer than usual, but seemed okay. The baked bread tastes fine, with a slight nutty flavour, and there’s a noticeable slight granularity from the semolina, but it’s not bad at all. I’d say it worked just fine.

I spent most of today working on slides and class notes for my Outschool class on Human Vision. I only got a few slides in when I realised I need more diagrams, so I switched to drawing diagrams for a bit. This is the way it goes… I hope to have the slides ready by Friday at the latest.

This evening I helped my wife go through the instructions for using her new sewing machine. She’s done sewing before, but not for a long time, and she needed to get familiar with the machine and remember how to do all the various things. She did some practice runs on scrap cloth, and it all seems to be going well.

New content today:

2 seconds faster

I was determined to do a second 5k run this week, and this morning was the time. It was a warmer morning, and sunny, but I managed to finish in 28:57, just 2 seconds faster than on Monday. Let’s see if I can keep up this enthusiasm for doing two runs a week…

Tomorrow I’m planning to try a new sourdough recipe: sourdough challah. My friend pointed me at a recipe which he says works well, so I’m going to give it a go, sticking as close to the recipe as I can. Today I had to feed the sourdough starter this morning, then tonight I make a levain (a new word I just learnt as I’m trying new things with sourdough), which sits overnight, before being used to make dough tomorrow morning, which then rises all day, before finally being baked tomorrow night. It’s a lot of lead-up time, so I hope it turns out!

New content today:

Drawing vision diagrams

Today I relaxed a bit after yesterday’s manic work at the market. By “relaxed”, I mean I went for a 5k run first thing in the morning. I tried running the loop at the halfway mark in the opposite direction today, which meant uphill sections on either side of a downhill, rather than vice versa. I don’t know if it made much difference overall, but my time today was 20 seconds slower than last week.

After the run, I got stuck into drawing some diagrams for my planned class on human vision and colour perception for Outschool. I need to draw my own diagrams to avoid using copyrighted images. Here’s my take on the layers of the human retina:

Retinal structure

I got most of the diagrams I need done, but still have a couple of tackle tomorrow. But now I can at least make a title image for my class to upload to Outschool, and start signing up students!

New content today:

Getting things done

This morning I thought I wanted to get another 5k run done, because I’ll have limited opportunity for the rest of the week, due to having an ISO Photography Standards meeting. It’s an online meeting, from 8:00 to 11:30 every morning in my time zone. I don’t really have time to do it before, if you include having breakfast and cooling down and probably having a shower to be comfortable for the meeting, and the afternoon is not a great option in our summer, and evenings are usually busy with other stuff. (I don’t think I’ve ever done a run in the evening.)

But this morning I also had to get some blood drawn for a cholesterol test, after fasting, so I couldn’t have breakfast before. So I wanted to get that done as soon as the pathology lab opened, and then go home and have breakfast… and by the time I was ready to go run it was approaching 10 o’clock. But fortunately it’s very cool today, with overcast skies keeping the sun out. So I got ready and went for the run.

I wanted to see if I could break 30 minutes for the 5k on the street route I’ve worked out, which is about as flat as I can find in this area. But it’s still a bit hilly, with an elevation gain of 87 metres over the 5k. I started hard, but when I hit the uphill sections about halfway through I thought maybe I’d gone too hard and would run out of steam before finishing. But I pushed through and managed to complete the 5k in 28:39! Much better than I’d hoped for.

Energised, I got stuck into writing a lesson outline for my planned initial class on Outschool: Human Vision and Colour Perception. I wrote out a list of bullet points of topics to cover. Then I made a list of diagrams and illustrations that I want to have. Many of these I could find on the Internet – however Outschool insists (justifiably) that you have legal rights to use any images you present in your classes. Which rules out most of what you can find – doubly so for scientific diagrams. There are a many good diagrams, but all covered by copyright, or which need to be purchased, or which are at least Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike, which is no good because I can’t easily include correct attribution in class materials and don’t necessarily want to release my material under the same licence.

So I’ve decided I need to draw the diagrams myself. So I have a list of diagrams, and now I need to sit down and draw them all. I did manage to get one done today, after fiddling with a couple of different drawing apps on my iPad. I’ll get stuck into the rest tomorrow.

I also had a combination of thoughts prompted by two things:

1. Earlier today I saw a question on AskReddit:

To those who think to themselves, “I should do this today,” and then end up doing it: is it possible to learn this power?

With several answers along the lines of: “When you think you should do something, just get up and do it, don’t put it off.”

2. I was thinking I really need to watch more of Neon Genesis Evangelion to get through all of the series, but how the heck am I going to find the time to do that…?

This made me realise that watching TV is one of the things that I procrastinate and never manage to get done. I always have too many other things that I want to do, so much so that I often end up thinking “I should watch some TV” and then never get around to it.

So maybe in order for me to achieve this goal, I need to stop putting off watching TV and just sit on my arse and DO IT.

New content today:

Two 5k runs in a week

My last 5k run was last Thursday. I felt like I wanted to do one early this week, but I was stymied by having to take a COVID test on Monday and then isolate at home for 24 hours. But this morning I was free, so I launched into it, running the same street route as last time. I wanted to try to break 30 minutes.

Unfortunately I didn’t quite manage that, but I trimmed 4 seconds off last Thursday’s time, clocking 30:18. And I managed to complete this second 5k run less than 7 days after the previous one! That feels pretty good.

The rest of the morning I spent taking photos of Lego sets for the new batch of Irregular Webcomic! I did it in record time, being pumped up from the run beforehand. And this afternoon I worked on writing and making new Darths & Droids comics.

Not much else to report today really… Took Scully to the park, cooked quiche for dinner… I might watch some more Neon Genesis Evangelion tonight.

Here’s a photo I took yesterday. It’s a metal utility cover panel – I guess underneath it are phone wires or gas mains or something.

Utility cover panel

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