New Mexican food

Today was the hottest September day on record in Sydney, 34.6°C. Tomorrow is forecast to be even hotter. That’s not really a terrible temperature for the middle of summer, but in September it’s obviously weird. We also had a total fire ban today, the first one declared in three years, and no doubt the first of many for this coming summer.

The Bureau of Meteorology also officially declared an El Niño today. The Australian Bureau was the last major meteorological department in the world to declare that this El Niño had begun. Most others declared it several weeks ago, but the Aus Bureau has stricter criteria and were holding off until the surface trade winds showed consistent reversal lasting at least 7 days, which finally happened today.

Rather than walk Scully to my wife’s work before hopping on the train to the university for tonight’s image processing lecture, my wife left a bit early and I picked her up in the car and brought her home, before I walked the much shorter distance to the nearest station. I would have been very hot and sweaty if I’d walked all the way like usual.

Continuing my mission to try a new place for dinner every week this semester, I found a Latin American place. I tried the jalapeño peppers stuffed with goat cheese, and a couple of tacos, one with shredded chicken and one with pulled pork.

Cartel Mexican

They were pretty good, but this was a bit more expensive a place than the numerous Asian eateries around this area of town.

The lecture tonight was the last of the actual lectures, on deep learning. Next week is the introduction to the student project. Many of the students have already been talking with me about their plans for project topics, which is good!

New content today:

Trying a new pizza place

Yesterday I ordered our weekly groceries for pickup from the supermarket this morning as usual. But when I got up I found a message from the supermarket saying they’d had a “major network outage” and could not fulfil any pickup orders today. And I had to phone their customer support line to organise a refund or reschedule the pickup to another day. So I had to spend time on their support line, which was busy of course because all the other customers were doing the same thing. I rescheduled the pickup for tomorrow.

So instead of getting groceries after my morning ethics class, I used the extra time to go for a 5k run. I’m getting used to this distance now, so hopefully that means I’m getting fitter!

For dinner I spoiled the gains of the run by going out to a new pizza place with my wife. It opened near us recently, but has a few other places around Sydney: Farina Pizzeria. It’s a very authentic Neapolitan style wood-fired pizza place and has won awards at the International Pizza Competition. And indeed the pizzas were excellent.

And tonight is online board games night. I’ve already run away with a huge victory in one game of Jump Drive, and then immediately lost the next one appallingly. We played a new game, Space Base, which I won comfortably. And we’re moving on to Ticket to Ride.

New content today:

5k run + brisket burger

I had a mixed bag in the health stakes today. I did a 5k run, and then I blew it all by having a barbecue beef brisket burger for lunch. This was at the Naremburn shops, where I usually get something from the bakery, but today I tried something from the fish & chip shop, though I eschewed the fish & chips and looked at their burger menu, and was attracted by the brisket burger. It was very good and I have no regrets.

While walking home, a bird pooped on my hat. Now, this probably wouldn’t have stood out enough for me to report it here, except for something which I also didn’t bother to mention yesterday: a gull pooped square on the top of my (hatless) head yesterday too! It was after I’d picked up the games from the game shop and was walking towards the university for the evening lecture. I went via Darling Harbour, which is populated by numerous gulls, and one too a dump right above me as I was walking and… yeah… it was very unpleasant. Fortunately I was very close to a public toilet and it had copious soap and paper towels, so I managed to wash my hair in the sink and dry it off adequately before eventually heading to my pad Thai dinner and the university. Today I just washed my hat when I got home.

Tonight I started the topic of “Music” with my ethics classes. I think this is a good lighter topic after last week talking about brain uploading, which weirded a few of the kids out. Everyone tonight felt excited and happy to talk about music, which was good!

This afternoon I had a bit of spare time to start looking at my photos from Amsterdam in June last year. I still haven’t fully gone through and processed the photos that I want to put into an album for this trip, and I kind of want to get that done and start work on this year’s Japan trip before my next trip to Europe in November!

Here’s the Singelgracht canal:

Singelgracht canal view across to Weteringsplantsoen

And the Rijksmuseum:


New content today:

Trying a new sandwich

This morning I worked on finishing off my lesson plans for the new week of ethics classes. I’m doing two related topics for the different age groups: Brain Uploading for the younger kids, and the broader topic of Transhumanism for the older kids.

For lunch I went for a walk with my wife and Scully to Botanica Garden Cafe, which does some really good food. I wrote about the first time I went there back in March. I’ve tried a few things off their menu and today I thought I’d try something I hadn’t had: the poached chicken and brie sandwich.

Chicken and brie sandwich

It was good, and very filling. There’s a lot of chicken stuffed in there. I barely wanted to eat dinner by the time evening rolled around. But did make some fried rice and had a smaller serving than I usually would have.

In the early afternoon I worked on version 2 of the Haunted House game for the game design class. I went for a 2.5k run after that, but still felt so full from lunch that I had to take it pretty easy and didn’t run a very fast time. On the way up the hill for my pre-run warm-up to the starting point, I passed more of the demolition work that is going on near here for redevelopment into loads of new apartments.

Demolition for redevelopment

This is another whole street of houses that have just been torn down, a couple of blocks over from the photo in this entry. It’s a huge area that is being worked on.

Tonight I started with three ethics classes on the “Brain Uploading” topic. In the first class I started with the premise that you could scan your brain and run a copy in a computer, and it would be an exact emulation of you, with your memories and personality. All three kids that it sounded awesome and wanted one. The second class, in contrast, had one kid who was keen on it, one who wasn’t so sure, and one who was totally freaked out by the idea and said it would be the scariest and most horrible thing ever. Should be fun running this over the next week!

New content today:

Scully by the water, new Japanese food

At lunch today I took Scully for a walk down to the park by the water. The pigface plants were flowering:

Pigface flower

And here’s Scully by the water:

Scully at Bayview Park

After dropping her off at my wife’s work in the afternoon I went into the university in the city for tonight’s image processing lecture, for which I’m on tutor duty again after delivering last week’s lecture. Today we start three weeks of material on machine learning and its application to image processing, recognition, and classification. But first I had to have dinner!

I’ve decided to try a different restaurant every week for this semester, and not just go to the same old places repeatedly. There are plenty in the area, so I shouldn’t run out, and it’s a good chance to try new places. Tonight I found a Japanese place which Google described as “bustling”. Only when I got there it was completely empty.

Daruma Japanese restaurant

Probably because I had to eat at 5pm, to make sure I could get to the lecture by 6. I had agedashi eggplant and tempura udon.

Agedashi eggplant and tempura udon

It was pretty good! And now I know a good Japanese place near the university.

New content today:

Honey cakes

Today we had my wife’s mother, sister, and brother over for lunch. Just a simple thing with sandwiches. But her brother brought a selection of honey cakes from Christina’s Honeycakes to have after the sandwiches. There were six flavours and we cut the squares in half so people could try a wider selection. I really liked the peanut butter one.

Having guests over meant cleaning the house before they arrived, so that took up part of the day too. I also had a bit of a mess with Outschool admin to deal with – parents asking for class times that were already full and me getting in a tangle offering an extra place (maximum one) to two different parents without realising it, then having to deal with the issues when one signed up and the other couldn’t. Ugh. Its still not settled yet either – I’m going to have to deal with this more tomorrow.

New content today:

Fancy lunch with free dessert

During my three classes this morning, my wife messaged and asked if I wanted to meet her at a local restaurant for lunch, during her work break. So I took Scully up and we sat at a table outside. The weather was nice. And the restaurant turned out to be having a “23rd birthday” special for the month of August, offering either a free glass of wine or dessert with any lunch menu item. They’re actually open for breakfast and lunch, but not dinner. They used to be open for dinner years ago, and we enjoyed going there a few times, but since they decided not to open for dinner any more we’ve rarely been back, so it was nice to try it again.

I chose a barbecue pulled pork burger, and the dessert, which was a sticky date pudding. The burger was good, and the dessert was too, although not very big. I wonder if it was a special smaller serving for the free offer.

This afternoon I assembled another few Irregular Webcomic! strips from the last batch of photos I took, which will last for this week. For next week it’s time to write new strips and take more photos again.

In weather news, I ran across this mid-range outlook forecast by the Bureau of Meteorology, showing October-December this year.

2023 Oct-Dec forecast map

Yeah, it’s gonna be a hot summer.

New content today:

A new French bakery!

The only real event of note today was that we went for a short drive across the harbour to Surry Hills, where there is a bakery that my wife wanted to visit. It turns out it’s the bakery that had the stall at the French market a few weeks ago, where I got the chocolate Parisian flan. It’s called Tonton Bread.

We parked a few blocks away, because parking in that area of the city is horrendous, and walked over with Scully. It’s a small hole-in-the-wall type of establishment, with two tiny cafe tabes outside on the footpath, one of which was miraculously free when we arrived. So we sat and enjoyed an almond and apricot croissant, and a pain aux raisins. The croissant was truly amazing, one of the best pastries I’ve ever had. The apricot was in the form of blobs of a thick jam-like substance, but not as sweet as jam, which was good because the rest of the croissant was. It was really more like mashed fresh apricots. So good. As we left I also got a cinnamon twist to take home for dessert tonight.

Otherwise, I did some comics stuff, and three ethics classes this evening. The weather has turned a bit greyer and colder and will apparently be this way for a few days.

New content today:

Kondoing the bookshelves

This morning I had the first older student ethics lesson on Probability. Unfortunately only one student turned up, and that’s always a bit challenging because we end up going through all the questions a lot faster, especially if the student isn’t very talkative. I ran out about 5 minutes before the end and had to wing it by making up some more questions on the fly.

At lunch today I took Scully on a walk around to one of the local cafes where I had lunch. Last time I had the “Ultimate Sandwich” and chose the pulled pork option. But they also have a grilled chicken option, which I tried today.

Ultimate sandwich, grilled chicken edition

Yeah, that’s pretty ultimate. I did actually manage to fold the bread roll and encase most of the filling and eat it with my hands like a sandwich, but there were a few chunks of chicken and salad that fell out. It was good, but I think I slightly prefer the pulled pork version.

After lunch I dedicated a couple of hours to cleaning up the bookcases. They’ve been needing a proper dusting for a while, which is a chore I always put off because we have a lot of random little knickknacks and stuff on most of the shelves in front of the books, so it’s tedious. But I also had a pile of new roleplaying game books sitting on my desk that needed to be shelved, and I had to rearrange some things to fit them in. So I bit the bullet and tackled the job.

I went through everything on the shelves and tossed out some old stuff that I’ve never really used and couldn’t foresee a use for. Also some random things like the polystyrene spheres I used for this Proof that the Earth is a Globe. I also had about 20 card boxes full of plastic card sleeves just taking up space, which I moved to a large storage box to reduce the clutter. I moved some loose art supplies into the art supply box. And so on.

I found a large, folded-up sheet of paper. When I unfolded it, this is what I found:

Wave Echo Cave

It’s an artefact from when I ran The Lost Mine of Phandelver adventure for my Dungeons & Dragons group, back in 2017. We drew a large map of Wave Echo Cave as we played. I decided to throw it out, but I took this photo first to have a memory of it.

Tonight for dinner I bought a bunch of fresh basil from the corner store while taking Scully for her evening walk. I made pesto with that, a garlic clove, toasted pine nuts, grated pecorino (I know, but I’d run out of Parmigiano Reggiano), and extra-virgin olive oil, seasoned with salt and pepper. We had it on penne pasta and it was really good.

New content today:

Another big software upgrade

Today I tackled another big task on my to-do list: Upgrading phpBB for my Irregular Webcomic! (and other comic) forums. The forums have been acting up in minor ways lately, and I think it’s more symptoms of the server upgrade from PHP version 7 to 8. So I thought it was time to upgrade phpBB again to make sure it was up to date and fully compatible with PHP 8.

I downloaded the file package, unzipped it, backed up my database and previous installation files, and then copied the new files into the installation directory. Or at least that’s what I thought I was doing. When it came time to run the database upgrade script, it failed spectacularly, both from the PHP web page, and from the command line, with ridiculously arcane error messages that I had no hope of deciphering.

After despairing for a few minutes that I might have utterly broken the forums with no hope of recovery, I realised that I’d installed the new files into a temporary directory where I’d placed files the last time I upgraded phpBB, and not into the actual installation directory. Redoing all of the file copying steps into the actual directory, I held my breath as I attempted to run the database update…. and it worked! Phew.

As a friend of mine put it when I mentioned what I’d done:

That feeling where you realise “oh I did something stupid” is a massive relief because the alternative is that you did everything right but it doesn’t work… Is that unique to working with technology? I can’t see why it should be but it feels much more common than anywhere else.

Another friend thought of something:

I think there’s a similar thing where you get a medical test and you’re relieved that it’s positive because the alternative is that you don’t know what the hell is wrong with you.

Anyway, the job is done. I’m not sure if it’s fixed those intermittent bugs with the forum or not, but hopefully we’ll find that they no longer occur.

In other tasks done, I finally transferred all the photos that I took in Japan on my phone onto my computer, so I can go through them. And I burnt a big audiobook onto CDs for my mother.

I took Scully for a long walk at lunchtime, to one of the bakeries. I felt like the richest chocolatiest treat they had, so got a slab of chocolate brownie to eat after my lunch. It was good, but I felt a bit off for an hour or two afterwards – probably because it was full of coconut oil or something, as it was a gluten-free version, and they tend to have a lot more oil in them. Honestly I vastly prefer my sweet treats to have regular gluten-rich flour in them, because, if I’m being brutally honest, they taste much better and are less queasiness inducing. But it’s so hard to actually find a regular gluten-containing brownie around here these days.

New content today: