Sunday roast, and discipline

Today we had Sunday lunch with my wife’s family, a total of eight of us (plus Scully). It’s the first time we’ve all gotten together since Christmas, so it was good to catch up and hear what everyone’s been doing during the COVID isolation. We had a traditional roast pork and vegetables lunch, followed by a nice butterscotch pudding and ice cream.

We were a bit full still from the lunch, so I didn’t cook a proper dinner tonight. We just had fried eggs, my wife on toast, while I had mine on a couple of the leftover lunch bread rolls.

I’ve also been thinking about how to restore my photography site web store. Given the issues I’ve had with WooCommerce, I really want to ditch it. I looked into the Square payment processing API a bit this afternoon and I’ve almost decided to give that a go. It means building a whole web store site by myself, then handing payment processing over to Square, and populating my own order information database. It’ll be a bit of work, but at least it’ll be code that I understand and trust not to be unreliable. It’ll take a week or two to do the work – I’m hoping to get at least a catalogue up and running by the time my market stall is on, two weeks from today.

The other thing I did today was to restart my stalled Duolingo Italian lessons. I restarted them a while back, but was interrupted by the knife injury to my hand, which made it hard to type rapidly, and hadn’t restarted again until today. I read a thing somewhere (reddit probably) recently about how to get motivated to do stuff – and was struck by several comments saying that seeking motivation to do something is the wrong approach. You need to have discipline. You need to go and do the thing that you want to do, or know you should do, rather than wait/seek for the motivation to do it. Discipline is the only way to get through a lack of motivation, and often the only way to actually get stuff done.

I want to learn Italian and get better at it, but I was slacking off. So I decided to be disciplined and just start today, and make sure I keep practising every day. No excuses. Just do it. I’m also going to start the other exercise that I’d previously been doing, which is to read the next book in the Wimpy Kid series, in Italian. So far I’ve read the first five books in the series, which are at about the right level for me to read in Italian – not so easy that I am not learning by reading, and not so hard that I have to stop and look up words too often. I can make it through about 5-10 pages in half an hour or so, which is a pace that isn’t too frustrating. I finished the fifth book at the end of 2018, but hadn’t managed to get motivated to start the sixth book. But today I’m applying discipline and putting the book – Si salvi chi può – on my desk, to begin reading tomorrow.

I’ve also decided I’m going to start doing my 5k runs again this week. At least once a week.

I’m going to get busy again.

New content today:

COVID haircut

I was overdue for a haircut, having had my last one before all this COVID-19 stuff became serious. So I went to my usual barber today. asked how long he’d had to shut down for, and he said that they were open the whole time – barbers and hairdressers were considered essential services here in Australia and never had to shut down – however he had almost no customers come in in April or May.

At lunchtime I took Scully out for a walk to the fish and chip shop and got my lunch there. I often get a “lunch box” combo, which is pieces of fish, calamari rings, a crab stick, and chips, but this time I asked if they could do a variation and replace the chips with potato scallops. They did for no extra cost, and that was good, because they make really really good potato scallops there, and I like them better than the chips.

And then this afternoon I took Scully to the dog park for a run around and play with some other dogs. Another small dog kept grabbing her small-sized tennis ball – Scully is not very fast when it comes to chasing a ball. She will fetch and return a ball, but she doesn’t tear after it like some dogs do, and always loses the race if another dog decides to chase the ball I’ve thrown. This one today wouldn’t let it go either, and its owner had to chase after it and get it to drop Scully’s ball. Three or four times! Ah, the fun never ends…!

I also wrote a few comics and made vege burgers for dinner. And with my wife we completed our retrospective run of watching every Roger Moore James Bond film that we started a couple of weeks ago. We didn’t watch them in order, starting with The Spy Who Loved Me and finishing tonight with The Man With the Golden Gun. Some bad ones in there, but some fun ones as well.

New content today:

2 nights down, 2 to go

I was up again until 2am last night, attending the ISO Photography Standards meeting being held virtually with delegates all around the world. I managed okay, staying alert for all of the technical discussions and contributing some comments. Which I hope were coherent and insightful.

So that’s two nights down, and tonight and Friday to go. I woke up this morning when my wife got up, and didn’t really manage to sleep in at all, so it was only about 5 hours sleep. I can manage on that for a few days, but it’ll all catch up with like a ton of bricks at some point. I just hope I can last to the end of the meeting first.

I’ve taken it a bit easy today, at least mentally. I went for a couple of walks to get some sunlight and fresh air, and I’ve spent a bit of time trying to write more comic scripts.

For lunch today I walked to the local fish & chip shop, and looking at their menu I decided to go fully retro and order stuff I haven’t had for years. I got a fish cake and a battered sav, plus some potato scallops. They even had Chiko rolls on the menu, but I didn’t opt for one of those. The potato scallops were excellent, but I understand why I haven’t bothered with fish cakes or battered savs for many years. I enjoyed it in a “this is nostalgic” sort of sense, but not so much in a culinary sense. Ah well.

New content today:

Paul’s Famous Hamburger pilgrimage

Today was more housework, helping my wife with laundry and changing bedsheets and stuff like that. I’ve also started cooking dinners again, after my enforced time off with my hand injury. Speaking of which, the sticky bandage the hospital pout on on Tuesday finally frayed enough around the edges today for me to pull the whole thing off, so the healing wound/scar is now fully exposed. It doesn’t actually look as bad as I thought it might. It’s still fairly bruised and sore though – I expect that will take a few weeks to go away completely.

But the main event of today was a trek, nay a pilgrimage, to get lunch at a legendary food establishment in Sydney’s south. I was inspired by it coming up in conversation with my friends during the week, and then yesterday one of them was actually inspired to travel down there to get one of the famous hamburgers. So today, finally, years after I first learnt of this place, I drove down to the suburb of Sylvania, some 30 km south of home, to sample one of Paul’s Famous Hamburgers.

Paul's Famous Hamburgers of Sylvania

The hamburgers from this place have regularly won awards for the best hamburger in Australia. Although I’ve driven past it a few times on my way somewhere else, I’ve never previously stopped and tried one.

I wrote a full review of today’s experience over in my food blog: Snot Block & Roll. So check that out if you want all the details. For here, suffice to say that yes, it was a deliciously good hamburger although, no, I don’t think it’s the best one I’ve ever had in Australia.

Scully appreciated it too.

Scully testing a Paul's burger

New content today:

Fish & chips!

My wife surprised me today by suggesting that after her morning shift of work-from-home we go out together and get some fish and chips for lunch, from the shop 10 minutes walk away that I go to occasionally. We took Scully and made a family outing of it. We bought some delicious fried food and went out to the lookout overlooking Sydney Harbour where I like to eat, and enjoyed a lunch together under a chill but bright blue winter sky, while Scully ran around on the grass, free of her leash.

It was lovely, and delicious.

I made some comics today, and uploaded a large batch of photos to convert into a web page write up of one of my recent Sydney walks, now visible on this page. I did a lot of research on the various historical buildings I’d photographed, and found a fascinating history for one of them, involving threats of demolition, counter-threats of heritage protection to make demolition illegal, and a lawsuit to settle the usage of the property. It’s amazing how little you know about places that you walk past frequently, until you do some research and learn how amazing it is.

New content today:

Food and food

It was time to stock up with some groceries today, so I made the trek to the supermarket. Things are almost back to normal there, however they are still completely sold out of liquid soap refills, and I’m starting to think we might have to get some bars of soap soon.

I also realised that I’ve been overestimating the amount of food my wife and I can eat in one week, as we still have quite a bit of stuff in the house, and so today I bought less than I’ve been buying in the past few weeks.

Most of the work I did today was making more Darths & Droids comics. We’re building up a nice buffer now, which is good, as we weren’t sure if we could keep up a three-a-week production schedule with the current situation.

And since it’s Friday, end of the working week, we ordered dinner delivered tonight, from a local Indian restaurant. We had a lovely meal of: (take-away containers of lentil dhal, rice, and chunks of lamb, plus foil bags of onion bhajis and naan) in a plastic bag of rogan josh sauce. Despite the mess, it was delicious.

New content today:

A bit of travel

I’ve hardly driven anywhere since the coronavirus lockdown began – mainly just to the supermarket for food. But today I had a work-related reason – I needed to return a monitor colour calibrator I borrowed to the owner, who needed to use it for his own work. I drove out to his place at Baulkham Hills, and my wife suggested I take Scully for a drive, and maybe walk her around out there for change of scenery.

So we did that, and I ended up spending a couple of hours out there. Enough to stop in for lunch at a bakery, and get more samples for my food blog. And while typing that up I found an old one from last year that I hadn’t blogged yet, and typed that up too.

This afternoon I also did some work for photography standards stuff, downloading documents and voting on a whole slew of ballots to reconfirm ISO standards that are up for their 5-yearly systematic review cycle. And… hmmm, some other bookkeeping stuff related to bills and tax deductions and stuff like that. Fascinating blog material, I’m afraid.

New content today:

Shop is launched!

Well today is a big day. I finished configuring my photo site shop and linked it up, so now it’s fully publicly visible.

In other news, I went on another expedition to the hardware store to get a couple of small wooden crates to use as display boxes for the matted photo prints I’ve been working on. They’re a perfect size, and I got some black acrylic paint to make them black to match the colour scheme of the rest of the market stall.

For lunch I had the prettiest bowl of food I’ve eaten for some time:

Açai colour

And the rest of the afternoon I spent preparing for an ISO Photography Standards meeting, which begins tomorrow. It was scheduled for Yokohama, but I wasn’t applying on attending in person, choosing to participate by web conference instead. But with the coronavirus outbreak, the meeting has been converted to a full virtual meeting, with many of the participants attending only virtually. This followed the cancellation of the annual CP+ Camera Show, the largest camera show in Japan, which is what the standards meeting was scheduled around – normally attendees go to the camera show as well. Our next meeting is scheduled for New York City in June, but it may end up being affected by coronavirus as well, depending how the situation develops over the next few months.

So anyway, I’ll be busy with photography standards work for the next three days, and won’t have time for much else.

New content today:

Falling bodies

After a day of science yesterday, I also spent most of today doing science – this time writing up my latest Proof that the Earth is a Globe. That took pretty much the whole working day.

After finishing that off, I starting making dinner while my wife and Scully were out at the hospital doing their Delta therapy dogs visit. I bought kipfler potatoes on the weekend, planning to make potato salad at some point, and I figured I had just about enough time to get it done in time for dinner tonight. I boiled them up, and also made a couple of hard boiled eggs while doing that. I’m glad I’ve found an effective way to make the eggs so they’re easy to peel. I used have trouble peeling eggs until I stumbled across the technique of plunging them in iced water immediately after removing them from the boiling water. It helps a lot.

I also chopped and fried some onion – I normally use raw red onion which is milder, but I only had brown onions so I cooked it a bit to soften the flavour. And chopped some gherkins. Mixed it all together with some mustard and prepared coleslaw dressing. I know they make potato salad dressing, but I find coleslaw dressing to be more to my taste, with a bit more tang and less creaminess to it.

To serve with the potato salad I cooked up some vegetarian sausages – spicy Italian flavour, which had tomatoes and herbs in them – and some asparagus. It all turned out really nice.

Tomorrow morning is my first Ethics class for the year, meeting a new group of students. To prepare I printed out the lesson plan and went over it. It’s a simple introductory lesson, mostly about meeting the students, going through the rules of the class, and giving them a taste of the sort of things we discuss during the rest of the year. My job for this lesson is mostly about learning the names of the kids as quickly as I can! It took me four weeks last year to be able to go without name tags. Let’s see if I can beat it this year.

New content today:

A day at Coogee

Today was mostly a family day. My wife suggested we go to a market to check it out and to see if there was anything that I might realise I need for my own market stall coming up in a couple of weeks. I checked online and found that there was a handicrafts market on today at Coogee, a beach suburb south on the side of Sydney. It was on from midday to 5pm, so we headed out about 11.

We got there before 12 and decided to get some early lunch. I found a fish & chip shop operated by on ex-pat Irish family. Besides the usual Australian fish & chips fare, it also had a very solid line in Irish and British items. They offered large battered sausages, battered black pudding and white pudding, battered haggis, and actual cod, imported from the North Sea, as well as mushy peas on the side, and Irn-Bru in the drinks fridge. The cod and chips came in at an exorbitant $19.90, so I settled for the local fish & chips, for $10. It was pretty good, and I appreciated the fact that they actually added vinegar to the chips – something I grew up with, but which seems to be dying out in modern Aussie fish & chips places.

After eating, we sought out the market. And I say “sought”, because we got to the address and it wasn’t at all obvious where the market was. We asked a couple of people, and they said that sometimes there was a market over on the nearby grass, flanking the beach, but clearly there was no market there today. One man said that because of the storms and nasty things washing up on the beach in the past week or two, a lot of events on the beach have been cancelled, but he didn’t see any reason why a market on the grass should be cancelled.

After looking around a bit more, fruitlessly, we decided that indeed if there was a market scheduled for today, it must have been cancelled. And so we headed home again. Still, it was a pleasant fraction of the day to spend out and about, and we had a good lunch.

New content today: