A birthday brunch

This morning we dropped Scully with one of our neighbours to mind for a few hours. They also own a dog, named Spike, and the two of them get along pretty well. They haven’t minded Scully before, but we thought they were a good choice from people we knew. They took her and Spike to Centennial Park where they said they had a good time running around.

The reason was because my wife and I were going to a birthday brunch for her mother’s birthday. It was at Long Reef Golf Club, so we couldn’t take Scully. There were seven of us there. They were only serving the breakfast menu before switching to the lunch menu later on, so we had a limited choice of things. I chose the chilli scrambled eggs, which had chorizo and cherry tomatoes as well, on sourdough toast. It was pretty good. We had a nice view of the beach as we ate.

Long Reef Golf Club cafe

We were back home by 13:00. Our neighbours were still out with Scully and Spike, but brought her back over when they returned an hour or so later.

My wife and I played another game of Root this afternoon with the robotic Marquise faction. We upped the difficulty by adding a couple of the optional trait cards to the Marquise, which made it a lot more formidable. It was also lucky, drawing a lot of bird cards in a row, while I, playing the Eyrie, didn’t draw any birds for about the first half of the game, which really cramped my options a lot. I came a dismal last, behind my wife, who just edged out the Marquise.

New content today:

A new vanilla slice

My Snot Block & Roll food review blog has languished a bit since the COVID pandemic, but today I finally managed to find a new vanilla slice from a bakery I haven’t visited before. We felt like going out for a bit of a drive for afternoon tea today, since it was hot and humid and not good weather for taking Scully for a walk. I checked Google Maps and found a bakery not too far away and we headed over.

Biga Artisan Bakery

When we got there, they had vanilla slices and they looked decent, so I decided to get one. It was pretty good, though with one caveat. You can read the full review here.

After we got home, I played another game of Root with my wife. This time we used one of the automated “robot” factions to add a third opponent to the mix. We used the Mechanical Marquise, I played the Eyrie, and my wife played Woodland Alliance for the first time. The robot factions have variable difficulty levels, and we used the default, which is the second highest from (easy, default, difficult, nightmare). It didn’t pose much of a problem for us, though I suspect part of that was caused by some bad luck with the robot Marquise drawing three mouse cards in a row, which really limited its ability to attack and damage us. My wife won in the end, running away with spreading sympathy throughout the robot player’s territory without much opposition.

Root with Mechanical Marquise

I spent much of the morning doing house chores. I vacuumed and then emptied water from all the moisture absorbers in all the closets and storage areas, including the cabinets in the garage, and refilled them with dry calcium chloride crystals. It’s astonishing the amount of water these things have been sucking out of the air in the recent high humidity. Definitely better doing this than getting mould.

New content today:

Last ethics classes for a week

I had my final ethics classes for the next week today. I’m taking a break for a week because next week is the ISO Photography Standards meeting in Tokyo. I’m staying home and attending virtually. It’s going to be a long one, because there’s a lot of technical discussion sessions on high dynamic range format specifications. The sessions begin 08:30 Tokyo time and run to 18:00, which corresponds to 10:30 to 20:00 in my time zone. At least I don’t have to get up early!

For dinner we went to our local pizza place. We chat with the owners and they know us as regular customers, but ever since COVID they’ve been a bit down about their business falling off, and it seems it hasn’t yet returned to prior levels. We noticed last time and confirmed it this time that they’ve shrinkflationed their pizzas. They’re a little bit, but noticeably, smaller than they used to be, for the same price. It’s not actually a big problem for us, because we used to g home stuffed full, but now we’re a little less so. It’s still enough for dinner.

This morning I finished my presentation on Astronomy/Photography/Human Vision and sent it off to Loreto school, so the teacher there can load it up on their presentation system for my talk next week.

And tonight is online board games night with my friends. I just joined in after dinner and we’re playing Just One.

New content today:

Mango weather

Last night was very warm, 25°C minimum temperature, with close to 100% humidity. We slept with the air conditioner on, which we never normally do. It would have been an awful sleepless night otherwise. The day warmed up slowly since it was overcast, but midday was around 34°C and so humid that the “feels like” was almost 40°C. I just stayed indoors as much as possible and only took Scully out for necessary toilet breaks.

I finished off the “Hoaxes” ethics classes today. I’ve started work on the next week’s topic, which is “Why?” – examining the idea of seeking reasons for everything. That one should be interesting.

After my last class we had a mango for dessert – a new variety that we haven’t tried before I keep tasting notes on all the different mango varieties, and this is the tenth one, a new variety here in Australia called Scarlet Delight. My tasting notes: Smallish, red skin. Firm smooth flesh, rich tropical orange-passionfruit flavour. Small seed with not much hair.

Not much else to say. I’m just relaxing now and waiting for this overnight cool change to come through. Tomorrow is supposed to be cooler and rainy.

New content today:

Planning ahead for classes and meetings

Today I did some calendar planning for February. I needed to get a couple of topics ahead on my advance planning for ethics classes. I chose to do brief planning write-ups for topics on “Sleep” and “What is Ethics?” for the younger kids, and “Sleep” (same material but framed for more mature kids) and “Confession” for the older kids. BY Confession I mean mostly just confessing to misdeeds or crimes, but I’ll also touch on the religious rite of Confession as a thing and ask some questions about that.

Planning ahead into late February, I also decided to skip a week or ethics classes to accommodate my next ISO Photography Standards meeting, which is on 19-22 February. It’s in Tokyo, but I’m not travelling to this one, and will participate in the whole meeting by Webex (a remote meeting app kinda like Zoom). It’s only two hours later than my own time zone, which is good for sleep cycles, but it means it clashes with enough ethics class times that it makes sense to cancel a full week of them.

I took Scully on a couple of long walks this morning. At lunch it was warm, but not too hot to go for a long walk, and we went to the bakery down by the harbour for a yummy lunch, then walking back along the shore, which is always nice, with the yachts and the waterbirds. I spotted an unusually high number of kookaburras today, eight of them. One young one was making a horrible noise like a crying baby.

After lunch I did some comic work on Darths & Droids. I’m pretty pleased with what we came up with for the script of this one. I made a new sourdough loaf (currently baking in the oven as I write this), and for dinner lentils with pumpkin and coconut, served over brown rice. I need to make dinners to eat before my three-in-a-row classes start at 6pm, but it has to be something that will last for my wife to eat a bit later. Lentils or vegetable curries with rice work pretty well.

New content today:

Back to work Monday

It’s the Monday after the long summer holiday and the Australia Day long weekend. Which means lots of people returning to the city after being away up or down the coast, and the beginning of the new school year (which starts tomorrow). Not that I have much to do with any of this, but it’s another of those big marker events in the year that tracks the slow change of the seasons. There’s definitely a different feel when kids are back in school compared to the long summer days when kids can be seen all over town enjoying their time off.

I mostly stayed in though. The weather was warm but not oppressive. I had three more classes this morning (and another to come later tonight). I took Scully for three walks – one in the morning before the day heated up; a short one at lunch time; and a longer one up to the grocery store in the late afternoon so I could get some potatoes for dinner. In the middle of the day the street surfaces are too hot for bare feet or dog paws, so I end up having to carry Scully part of the way, and only let her walk on grass or shaded paths.

I wanted potatoes since I bought vegetarian sausages and my wife suggested a good old bangers & mash for dinner. We have a jar of spicy chilli and capsicum jam which went really well with the sausages.

Not much else to report… oh, I also assembled a week’s worth of Irregular Webcomic! strips, to last through this week. I’ll try to finish off the rest of the whole batch later in the week.

New content today:

A ferry trip for dinner

The weather continues to be oppressively humid. I ran a 5k this morning at 8am, but it was so warm and close to 100% humidity that I did over 2 and a half minutes slower than my best time. I worked on some comics during the day, staying indoors as much as possible.

But for dinner we had made a booking at an Italian trattoria over in the suburb of Chiswick, which is across the harbour and down the Parramatta River a bit. To get there we caught a ferry, which involved changing ferries at Cockatoo Island. It’s only two stops there and then three more to Chiswick, so it took about 40 minutes overall, including waiting time on the island.

Here’s the ferry we caught to Cockatoo Island:

Ferry "Margaret Olley"

And the one we caught from there, as it was arriving (it’s a flat “Rivercat” catamaran ferry, because it has to go under a few low bridges):

Rivercat approaching

Here’s Scully getting ready to go on the ferry. She has to travel in a crate due to animal transport regulations, but she doesn’t mind it.

Scully ready to go on the ferry

The dinner was very good. I had penne al granchio (with crab):

Penne al granchio

While my wife had bombolotti with tomato sauce and straciatella:


Then for dessert, the millefoglie:


And the sun went down as we took a leisurely walk back to the wharf to catch the ferry home:

Chiswick sunset

It was a really nice evening out! We’ll have to go back to this restaurant to try their pizzas some time.

New content today:

The one-day weekend

It’s Saturday, my day off, before teaching more online classes tomorrow on Sunday evening. I spent some time working on comics, but also did a 5k run in the morning.

In the late afternoon we all went on a walk to a park near the local library. I’d mentioned to my wife that now I have a shiny new library card, I was keen to go and see if they have any of the new Asterix books that have come out since I last read any, many years ago. So we waked down there and I went in and tried to find them in the children’s section, but to no avail. Then I went to the computers where you used to be able to search the catalogue and find which shelf books were on, but they were all on a screen that demanded your library card number and a password, which I’m not sure if I even have a password.

So I asked for help from a staff member, who explained that those were computers for general use, not the catalogue system, which was now accessed form special white terminals over there. But she escorted me back to the children’s section and said the Asterix books were now in the graphic novels section, not the fiction section I’d been looking in. There were three books there, two of them compilation albums of three stories each, and one of those contained three of the new stories that I haven’t read before. I grabbed them all, because I also enjoy rereading the older ones.

Out in the park, we threw a ball for Scully to chase, and she was very energetic today. There was another small dog who came over to play, and insisted I throw its ball as well!

After exhausting Scully, we went to Ambhi’s Chai for dinner. This is a place that mainly serves African-Punjabi style chai, which is extremely spicy, but for dinner time they also do small plates of food. My wife had the chick pea dish while I had the spicy chicken one, both with roti. I wanted to try a chai, but when I asked which ones were made without caffeine they said they could do decaf, but I said I didn’t actually want any tea, and they said the only option was the turmeric milk, so I had that. It was all good, nice and spicy, though the meal size was a little small. So when we got home I had some cheese and crackers to round it all off.

New content today:

Inter-seasonal treat time

It’s that in-between period after Christmas and before Easter, when both fruit mince tarts and hot cross buns are on sale. So it’s time to make one of my favourite seasonal treats!

Fruit mince tart hot cross bun

Yep, that’s a fruit mince tart, on a hot cross bun, topped with ice cream. I warmed up the tart+bun in the microwave before placing the ice cream scoop on. And then closed the top of the bun on it before eating. It’s delicious, but very filling!

I’ve also taken a couple of flower photos today and yesterday. Some crepe myrtle flowers that had fallen on the ground:

Crepe myrtle colours

And some gum flowers and nuts:

Gum flowers and nuts

During the day I had 4 more ethics classes, rounding off my busy few days. Took Scully for a walk. For dinner I made another new recipe from a TV show: spanakopita toasties. They turned out pretty good, a nice easy dinner for Friday night.

And it’s online board games night now. Last time I won three games of Jump Drive in a row, but tonight I had awful luck with the cards and lost horribly. We’re now deep into a game of Castles of Burgundy.

New content today:

New Year’s Day relaxation

There wasn’t much on today. I slept in again and then just did some comic writing, worked on a lesson plan for my next ethics class for the older kids on the topic of “Learning”, and took Scully for a couple of walks. In the afternoon I played a few more games of Kingdomino with my wife.

For dinner tonight I tried another new recipe: beetroot curry (from this site), and I made home made flatbread to go with it.

Beetroot curry with home made flatbread

It was good, but I think I chopped the beetroot a bit coarsely and it was a little on the firm side. Next time I’ll cut it more finely and hopefully it will cook a bit softer.

New content today: