Standard sort of Sunday

I did the same walk as yesterday with Scully, but today my wife came along as well. She didn’t recall ever having done the new route which Scully chose yesterday, and Scully picked it again today, so that was good. I stopped at the bakery along the way for a piece of chocolate babka, which is really delicious, and a good Sunday morning tea treat.

At the Oyster Cove marina, I spotted this white-faced heron, which I managed ot get close enough to to take a half-decent photo with my phone.

White-faced heron

At home, I worked on more Darths & Droids strips, getting the buffer back into something resembling good health after running it down to the bone recently.

During the afternoon I got into a chat with some friends on Discord, and we talked about TV shows we’ve been watching. It was interesting because every time anyone said anything about a show they’d watched, they put it in spoiler tags to avoid spoiling anyone else who was interested in watching but wasn’t up to that bit yet. I’ve been watching The Irregulars, and am up to episode 6 of 8. Two of my friends are also watching it and are up to different episodes. So although we’re all watching the same TV show, we can’t really have a proper conversation about it without being super careful.

Remember back in the days before streaming, when TV shows aired on television at a specific time, and everyone you knew would be watching the same episode at the same time? So you could all talk about the latest episode and speculate what would happen next week? I miss those days. I watched The X-Files in its initial run, and one of my friends and I would get together every week and compare our impressions of the last episode and theorise wildly about what was going to happen in the next mythology episode. This is a joy that young people these days will never know.

New content today:

Change of season

We’ve been experiencing a rather cool autumn. After last year when we had an extremely mild winter, it feels unusually chilly for this time of year. I’ve taken to wearing a jacket when going outside about a month earlier than last year.

The leaves on the deciduous trees are changing. Mostly in Sydney that means plane trees turning a dull shade of light brown. There are a few liquidambars scattered around that go a lovely deep red, but they’re not that common, and for the most part of course all the other trees are evergreen. So it’s not spectacular, but it is noticeable.

I took this photo of a path I walk down while collecting Scully from my wife’s office. The plane trees a mix of green and brown. This is basically what autumn looks like in Sydney.

Autumn path

The coolish weather makes it lovely to be outside. And after last month’s ridiculous amounts of rain, April has been extremely dry so far. We haven’t had any rain since the 8th, three weeks ago. And what we had in that first eight days was only about 10% of the April average rainfall. What we have had the past week or so is smoke – the bushfire control authorities are taking this cool weather as a chance to burn a lot of the undergrowth in forests around the edge of the city, and the prevailing wind conditions are wafting it across the city.

I took this photo at the dog park this afternoon while walking Scully. It’s normally a lovely view, but you can see the brown smoke across the lower level of the sky.

View while walking the dog

Tonight for dinner I tried a variant of one of my regular dishes. Pasta with butternut pumpkin, nuts, chilli, and feta. I normally use walnuts, but tonight I tried pistachios, which worked really well. And made it pretty colourful.

Pasta with butternut, pistachios, and feta

Oh, and in good news I have two students signed up for my first online Critical and Ethical Thinking class, tomorrow. Tomorrow’s class is in a time zone suitable for Australia/Asia, but I also have another parallel class on the same topic in a time zone better suited for the Americas (Sunday afternoons in US time zones).

New content today:

More experimental cooking

This morning was the first Ethics class for the new school term. When I got to the school and picked up my class roll, I noticed that one of the students I had last term had been removed. And when the students arrived and I asked if a couple of other kids who hadn’t shown up yet were late or away, they responded that one of those had left the school. So my class is down two students compared to last term’s 15, making it a class of 13.

We continued the topic of punishment, which we got halfway through before the school holidays. Today was a discussion of the reason for punishment. Most of it was in the context of football, all three of soccer, Australian rules, and rugby. The questions basically led them through why penalties exist in these sports, whether penalties are a type of punishment, whether the penalties are needed, whether the penalties are fair, and why some penalties (e.g. for deliberate dangerous contact with another player) are more severe than others.

It was only towards the end that we switched back to punishment for crimes and why they might be needed in society. The connections were pretty straightforward, and there was no real disagreement from any of the class that punishment of some sort is needed. They said that if there were no punishments, people would just go around robbing banks all the time!

For dinner tonight I tried something new. I had some Brussels sprouts which I bought last time I got groceries, and wanted to use them up. Normally I’d fry them with garlic and chilli and miso, and serve on the side of some vegetarian burgers or sausages. But this time I thought I’d try roasting them. And since we have some butternut pumpkin to use too, I added that in. And also the leftover cherry tomatoes from last night’s pizza. I did add some garlic and a bit of chilli, and roasted in the oven for about 50 minutes. The mixture of the three different vegetables turned out very nice!

New content today:

An overdue walk

I worked on my secret project a bit more today. But more interestingly I went for a nice long walk after lunch. The weather has been really nice lately, with cool and crisp autumn days making for nicer weather to be out and about than the heat of summer. The maximum today was a very pleasant 23°C, under a bright blue sky.

I went for a long stroll to the Italian bakery a couple of suburbs over. I was craving a slice of their baked ricotta cake, which is truly amazing. I deliberately walked a slightly roundabout route rather than the most direct one, because I’m filling in gaps on my Fog of World map. When I reached the bakery I got my slice of cake and sat and enjoyed it, before heading home again.

Again I chose to walk along streets I hadn’t covered in Fog of World, and I found an amazing back lane behind two rows of houses facing the other way, where their garages were. Several garages along this lane had murals painted on them.


They included a short story painted on an adjacent wall, explaining the mural, and were all signed by an art collective.


It’s amazing what you can find within walking distance of your home that you might have been completely unaware of before.

For dinner tonight I made pizza, with hand-made dough from scratch. Last week I found that the supermarket had fresh mozzarella in a little pouch with whey, so I bought one, intending to make a Margherita pizza. So on my walk today I picked up some fresh basil as well, and some cherry tomatoes. When I got home I roasted the tomatoes to intensify the flavour, then set them aside until ready to bake the pizza. Here’s the topped pizza before baking:

Margherita pizza - pre-bake

And here it is ready to serve with the fresh basil placed:

Margherita pizza - serving

It was delicious!

New content today:

Instant noodles

Today was mostly a chore day. I did the weekly grocery shopping. Most weeks recently I’ve been getting falafels and flatbread from the supermarket to make falafel wraps for lunch, and I put tahini, sliced tomato, and chilli sauce on them. But today I decided I’d try something different for the next week, and make falafel salads, with lettuce and cucumber and other fresh stuff instead of the flatbread. And also in the fruit & veg section I saw pomegranates and thought why not? So maybe I’ll throw some of that in too.

And I found some fresh mozzarella, packaged in whey. I got some to try making a Margherita pizza in a few days.

A bit later I went to a new Asian supermarket that opened nearby recently. It’s really good! It’s mostly Japanese products, but there was also stuff a mix of other things. I found the Singaporean brand of instant noodles that make an absolutely amazing laksa. I’d previously got these from my regular supermarket, but they’ve stopped stocking it. Not only did they have the laksa version, they had a couple of other flavours I hadn’t seen before!

La Mian noodles

Black pepper crab and chilli crab! And they’re labelled “New! Must try!” Wow, I had to try these, so I got one of each.

At home I did a spring clean of the bathroom, emptying out the cabinets and going through all the items, cleaning off dust, throwing out old stuff, cleaning the cabinet interiors, and putting useful stuff back in neatly. I discovered that the toothpaste we get stands upright on the big flat lid! We’ve always stored toothpaste tubes lying on their side, but I tried this to save space, and it works beautifully! Now I’m wondering if everyone else has been doing this for years and I’ve just never thought of it…

New content today:

Special fancy lunch day

The special occasion mentioned yesterday is that today is my wife’s birthday. She took the day off work and we had lunch at a fancy restaurant booked. The restaurant was in Woolloomooloo, which is a walkable distance from the centre of the city, but we needed to get over there first. Since Scully can’t go on trains, we went down to the nearest ferry wharf (since dogs are allowed on ferries).

Scully at Greenwich Pt Wharf

The ferry took us across the harbour towards the city.

Heading into the city

The ferry terminal is in Circular Quay, between the Bridge and the Opera House (around to the right behind the Bridge in this next photo).

Approaching Circular Quay

From the ferry terminal we walked past the State Library of New South Wales.

State Library of NSW

Into The Domain, a large park. Scully ran around on the grass a bit.

Scully in The Domain

We walked past the Art Gallery of New South Wales and across into Woolloomooloo. This was the view form our restaurant table:

View from Otto

The food was amazing. This is my appetiser, pepper crusted hiramasa kingfish with almonds, capers, cavalo nero, and parmesan (I think) tuile.

Hiramasa kingfish

And my main dish, black and white cappellacci pasta filled with spanner crab and mascarpone, in a sweet corn sauce.

Pasta filled with crab and mascarpone

This restaurant is the sort of place where people arrive in large boats, moor on the wharf adjacent, and hop out to have lunch – which is exactly what we saw one group do. It’s a mix of people with a lot of money, and people like us who come here maybe once every 3 or 4 years for a special occasion. Here’s Scully mixing with the rich and influential:

Scully at Otto

They gave us a surprise complimentary dessert for my wife’s birthday – a chocolate mousse filled with stewed apple. And I ordered the regular chocolate mousse from the menu:

Chocolate mousse

Seriously, look at that. It comes with olive oil ice cream, chocolate nut cookie crumble, and that super thin crispy tuile on top. It was absolutely delicious too (as was all the food).

After this extravagant lunch, we walked back to the ferry terminal and caught the ferry home. Scully was worn out from the excitement of the day!

Scully is dead tired

It was a really pleasant way to spend a day. And we’re so full of good food that we’ve just had a light snack for dinner.

New content today:

Comics & Pizza

Today was knuckling down to the business of assembling Irregular Webcomic! strips out of all the photos I took yesterday. I had 24 strips to make, and powered through them starting as soon as my wife left for work in the morning, and finishing a bit after lunch. That’s a really fast pace, as I was pushing myself to complete the task before having to go pick up Scully for the afternoon.

As it turned out, Scully stayed at work for longer because not one, but two of my wife’s workmates also brought their dogs in today, so there were three of them at the office!

Workplace Wellbeing Officers on duty

That’s Scully, Ted, and Leo, from left to right. They played hard in the office all day, and Scully was dead tired by the time I got her home. Which is good!

For dinner tonight I made pizza. This time I tried about 1/4 wholemeal flour in the dough, as requested by my wife. It made the dough tougher to knead, but the final result turned out pretty well.

Tomorrow… is a special day and I have some very cool stuff planned. Which you’ll hear about tomorrow.

New content today:

Writing and fish and chips

After yesterday’s busy and long day, I felt a bit worn out today. I worked on Irregular Webcomic! scripts, hoping to complete the batch in time for photographing tomorrow morning. I made it just after lunch, then took a break to build a new Lego set I’ve been working on for a bit.

I picked up Scully from my wife’s work, and my wife suggested we go out for some fish & chips for dinner. The local place is a short walk away and pretty good, so this is a nice easy dinner. We sat outside in the evening twilight at a table and benches on the side of the road, watching the stars come out.

New content today:

Reclaiming shelf space

Today was chore day. I did the weekly grocery shopping, on a Thursday instead of the usual Friday since tomorrow is Good Friday and thus a public holiday (and the supermarket will likely be more crowded with everyone off work and shopping for the Easter weekend).

And I decided to clear up some space by reducing our DVD collection by putting the discs into a compact wallet and throwing away all the plastic cases and paper liners and inserts. This sounds easy, but it was a lot of grunt work. First I had to order the wallet online and then go collect it from the store (since I didn’t want to wait for a delivery). I got a large one that holds 288 discs. I didn’t really have a good idea of how much of our collection that would account for. As it turned out, and with many of the movies having bonus discs of special features (most never watched!), it ended up – after about two hours of sorting, moving discs, pulling paper sleeves out, and piling up empty plastic cases for recycling – housing close to half of the DVDs we have. So I might buy another wallet and go through the whole process again.

But the good news is that it’s cleared a significant amount of shelf space, which can now be used for storing other things. And then I had to cart all the discarded stuff down to the garbage room, which took three trips! I never understood why when DVDs started being produced, they didn’t come up with a more space efficient way of storing them. Even CD jewel cases would have been vastly preferable to what they ended up with.

We went for dinner tonight at our favourite Italian place. And we’ve just received our NSW Dine & Discover vouchers – these are $100 of vouchers usable for dining and entertainment in participating retailers, supplied by the NSW State Government to all adults as a stimulus to get people out and spending money post-COVID to support local businesses. They’re split into 4 vouchers of $25, two usable on meals, and two on entertainment (such as cinemas, arts, museums, live music, sports, etc.). And they’re very sensibly restricted to not being usable for alcohol, tobacco, or gambling. Anyway, we had pizza tonight, mostly paid for by the government. Thanks!

New content today:

A new Outschool course

Today I worked on preparing a new course that I’ll be teaching on Outschool. One on Critical and Ethical Thinking. I have a good idea what material will be involved and how to teach it, and I don’t need to prepare any slides for it. But to put a class on Outschool you need a cover image. And again I couldn’t use anything under any sort of copyright or accreditation license. I either need public domain images or to make my own.

So I spent a fair bit of time firstly thinking about how to represent the topic in an image with no words, and then drawing this:

Critical thinking

I think that should work!

I also made pizza for dinner tonight – and for the first time I made the dough from scratch myself.

Home made pizza

I topped it with tomato paste, mozzarella cheese, pumpkin, walnuts, feta, and chilli flakes.

Home made pizza

And after a quick bake in the oven it looked like this!

Home made pizza


Oh! And the rain finally stopped today! There was no rain for much of the afternoon. Although the clouds were still thick and grey. I haven’t seen blue sky for a week now.

New content today: