New best time

I worked on some secret projects today, so don’t have too much to report.

I did go for another 5k run, now that the rain has finally stopped. And set a new best time.

5k run times

Previous best was 27:01, so I was keen to get under 27 minutes. And I managed 26:32 today, so that was a lot of time taken off! I’m definitely feeling that it’s a bit easier to maintain a slightly higher pace, now that I’m getting more used to it. Although when running laps of the oval there are often other people running around and overtaking me – there were maybe 5 or 6 of them today.

Oh, I got a Kickstarter package in the mail today – an old one that I backed some time ago, for some fantasy adventures for the Dungeon Crawl Classics roleplaying game. I still have a handful of Kickstarters that I backed as long ago as 2015 that are yet to deliver their rewards. I haven’t backed any recently, since I’m watching my expenditure a bit more carefully these days.

New content today:

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:

Running improvement

Today I mailed off some original artwork from Planet of Hats to a reader who was keen to buy one of the comics. Thanks to that reader!

At lunch time I forced myself to go do another 5k run, having managed it on the last three Thursdays. This time I started at a bit of a faster pace for a couple of laps before settling into a steady rhythm. I’m still really having to push myself to keep going around the halfway mark and the second half is a real struggle, but I managed to finish and recorded a time of 27:01, 51 seconds faster than last week!

5k run times

I plotted my times for the past 4 weeks on a graph and showed my friends. One of them, who has been doing all sorts of curve fitting to local COVID data lately, analysed the trend and told me that in another 8 months I should be able to run 5 kilometres in zero time. I’m really looking forward to after that point, when if I need some extra time to do things I can go for a run and gain some time back.

Hmm… I just learnt now, as I was typing this, that a COVID positive person visited my local supermarket on Monday, between 10:30 and 11am, and an alert has been issued for anyone shopping there during this time to monitor for symptoms. I went shopping there on Monday morning – although I’m pretty sure I’d left by 10:30. Yikes! They’re saying the risk is low – they have not issued a “self-isolate and get tested” order.

New content today:

Fitness day!

Today I met my friend to play golf at the Par 3 Pitch and Putt course. My relative handicap was reduced down to 15 after I won last time with 16. (We play match play with jackpotting of halved holes.) But today I was really on fire, and my friend was struggling a bit, and I ended up trouncing him 14 points to 4. Without the handicap, my total score for 18 holes was only 3 strokes higher than his. So next time we play, my handicap will go down again.

I also managed the only birdie of the day, with a monster putt – it was in the range 15-20 metres long, and curved a good metre and a half to the right as it rolled along the green. So I’m pretty happy with that.

On the way home I stopped off at my favourite pie shops for lunch, having a pepper steak pie and a chicken/asparagus/corn one. Normally I go for more exotic flavours – they do a really nice butter chicken and a good Thai curry chicken pie – but I decided to try things I wouldn’t normally get today, and they were good.

I rested a bit at home, and then took off for this week’s 5k run! My goal was to beat last week’s 28:05, and today I managed 27:52. Let me tell you, it’s a real struggle in those middle laps to keep going. Fortunately I didn’t miscount laps like last week, so didn’t have to pick up and run another lap when I thought I’d finished!

Back at home I made potato salad for dinner, to go with some vegetarian sausages. I do love a good potato salad.

New content today:

Nerdsniped

Today I started working on a new one of my “100 Proofs that the Earth is a Globe“. It’s the first one I’ve started for some time, because I’ve been distracted at home a lot with my wife working from home and haven’t been able to sit down knowing that I could work uninterrupted for several hours at a time. But today I just knuckled down and got started despite that. Normally I’d finish an article the same day I start, but I’m only about half way through, so hopefully I’ll be able to finish and post it tomorrow.

I took a break at lunch time to go do another 5k run. My fastest time for the 5k last year was 29:06, and last week I managed 29:16, so today my goal was to break 29 minutes. Unfortunately I miscounted laps and after sprinting the last couple of hundred metres and bending over exhausted to catch my breath while I checked my time on my phone, I discovered that I’d only covered 4.6 km! I still had a lap to go! I had to put the disappointment aside immediately and get the legs working again and set off on another lap…

But I managed it! My time for the full 5k today was 28:05. While running the last few laps I felt pretty exhausted and again really had to push through it mentally to avoid stopping, but now a few hours later my legs definitely don’t feel nearly as tired as last week.

I boasted to my friends on our online chat. One asked me if I was running laps of a street route, but I said no, the streets here are much too hilly for me to run, so I do laps of the nearby sports oval. And then this conversation happened:

Friend: Actually your run is consistent with orbiting a very dense object at the centre of the oval. #100ProofsGoreHillOvalIsABlackHole

Me: hmm…. I could calculate the mass, given the radius and speed… Damn, now I have to do it.

And I did. Approximating the oval as a circle and using the equation for a circular orbit: v = √(GM/r) gives the mass M of an object needed to cause me to orbit it at speed v and radius r. My speed was 5000/(28×60+5) = 2.97 m/s. I ran 11 full laps, totalling 5.14 km, so the radius of the oval is approximately (5140 m)/(11 laps)/(2π) = 74.4 m. Plugging the numbers in gives M = 9.81×1012 kg. Which is basically 1013 kg to any sensible degree of accuracy.

According to Wikipedia, 1013 kg is almost exactly the mass of comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko. Which is a little large to fit inside the oval. But never fear, for it’s also roughly the mass of two teaspoonfuls of degenerate neutron matter, which one could easily fit into the middle of a sports oval. If that much degenerate neutron matter had been in the middle of the oval, I could have stayed in orbit about it by running in a straight line. Although I suspect my orbit would decay rapidly after 5 km of running…

Friend: I’m so happy I nerdsniped you into doing this.

And just to include a photo: for dinner tonight I made a vegetable quiche, stuffed with potato, cauliflower, pumpkin, broccolini, onion, cherry tomatoes, eggs, and cheese:

Vegetable quiche

New content today:

Back into 5k

Scully seemed perfectly fine today, following yesterday’s nasty incident. So that’s good.

Also good today, I got back into my exercise “routine”. I said I’d start doing 5k runs again, at least once a week, and today I did one for this week. Previously I timed myself going up the street to the oval as part of the run, and then I completed 9 laps, which brought the total distance to 5 kilometres. But the walk/jog from my place to the oval is uphill, and in fact climbs about 70 metres in 900 metres horizontally, so that part slowed me down and puffed me out early in the run.

Instead, today I walked casually up to the oval, and only began recording my run when I started doing laps on the flat playing field. I figured I needed to about 12 laps rather than 9. I set out at a slow jog, hoping to be able to keep that pace up for the whole distance without slowing down to a walk. I was struggling by 8 laps and really had to push myself to not drop to a walk, but I managed to get to 11 laps when I decided I’d take a look at the distance to see how far I had to go, and if it was just 100-200 metres I’d sprint it out. But when I checked at 11 laps, my tracker had recorded 5.1 km, so I’d finished!

My split time for the 5k was 29:16, which Strava tells me is my second best effort (best is 29:06, back in November). So I’m pretty happy with effort after a break of so many months. My legs are pretty sore though, even after a full suite of stretches and warm down – they definitely need to get used to this again.

To celebrate – and to overcompensate for all the kilojoules burnt! – I spoilt myself with pies for lunch on the way home. I did decide to be good and only get vegetarian ones, planning to get the delicious Thai curry vegetable, and a pumpkin and lentil. But when I got to the pie shop, they’d sold out of both of those, and in fact all of the vegetarian options, except for the roast vegetable and the spinach, corn, and cheese, which is definitely the least healthy of the vegetarian pies they make, stuffed with cheese as it is (although it’s delicious). So I got one of each of those, and really enjoyed them.

New content today:

Seriously knuckling down

I’ve been very busy and productive today! Yay!

I started with some stretching and core strength exercises, to get the blood pumping and work on some of the neglected muscles and things that haven’t been pushed lately, to avoid things like back strains and so on.

Then I got stuck into some ISO standards work. I let the documents and ballots build up for a few weeks and then clear them all out at once. I had to download and read a bunch of documents, and then vote on various proposals, and write up some comments documents for various drafts of proposed photographic standards, collating comments from other members of the Australian expert committee (which I chair). This took all morning and I didn’t finish until after lunch, but it cleared away a big chunk of my to-do list that was slowly getting more urgent.

To wind down from that, I did a bunch of photo uploading and writing a web page for a new Sydney photo walk that I did on Tuesday. This included doing research on places like this:

Pallister House

This is Pallister House, which is a significant heritage building – so much so that it even has its own Wikipedia page. It was fascinating learning the history of this place and writing it up for my photo essay.

I also finished up the database additions for the bird photos I took yesterday. My bird photos database is on this web page, but it’s not fully populated with historical photos taken before last year, so a lot of the birds show no entries. But if you click something like Superb fairywren you can see all the photos I’ve taken of this species since last year. Adding older photos is another task on my to-do list…

Oh, and I updated the news blog on my professional photo site with a news post and some sample photos from my bird expedition yesterday.

Tomorrow night is fortnightly board games night with my friends. To prepare for another virtual gathering (due to COVID restrictions on physical gatherings), we bought Asmodee’s Humble Bundle of board games on Steam, and I spent some time installing those and playing tutorial versions to learn the rules.

And… hmm, I feel like I’ve done even more than that. It’s definitely been a full day.

New content today:

Working from home

My wife started working from home today, as part of Sydney’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means both her and Scully are home during the working week (since she normally takes Scully to the office with her – Scully is much loved as the office dog), when I’m normally here by myself. It’s a bit of a change, but it wasn’t too bad. We mostly kind of ignored each other as we went about our business, so as not to disturb one another.

At one point I went for a walk to get out and stretch my legs in the sunshine. I walked over to the suburb of Greenwich, where I spotted this cool home-made climbing tree for kids.

Suburban play gear

I walked down to the water, at Bay Street Wharf:

Greenwich wharf

And across to the adjacent Bayview Park, where someone has their seaplane berthed:

Bayview dinghies

And here’s a view of the park, looking down to the water. Pretty nice!

Bayview Park

Apart from the walk, I mostly worked on Darths & Droids comics today – coming up with strip titles and editing HTML code and stuff. In between keeping up to date with all the massive changes around here to deal with COVID-19.

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:

Rain!

This morning I took a long walk to the shopping centre at Chatswood, a few suburbs away. I had to go to a specific shop to get a replacement filter for our vacuum cleaner. According to Strava, the walk was 6.15 km. It felt good, because I haven’t been doing enough getting out and exercising in the past couple of weeks. The day was cool and cloudy, so it was a nice time to be out.

And then this afternoon when I took Scully out to the dog park there was some thunder, and it actually rained for a couple of minutes! Sydney had 1.6 mm of rain back on Christmas Day, and the previous time it rained was 2.4 mm on 27 November. The last heavy rain we had was in mid-September. This is very weird for Sydney, which normally gets around 100 mm of rain every month throughout the year. All the grass around here is dying and turning a crunchy brown. Hopefully today’s few drops will refresh it a bit.

Work-wise, today I finished off making the new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips, and started writing annotations for them.

New content today: