Family lunch

Today was mostly about a family lunch at my wife’s mother’s place. We had six people (and Scully), and we had food delivered by my sister-in-law’s work, which is a catering company, doing home deliveries as a new venture during COVID restrictions that have cut back their usual business. The food they make is really good – mid to high-end restaurant quality, with some of it par-cooked so that you need to finish it off at home so that it’s freshly prepared when you eat it. There was plenty of it and it was delicious. Lamb moussaka, potato gnocchi with tomato, basil, and parmigiano, Greek salad, and for dessert an apple and blackberry crumble.

It was a big lunch, and after coming home we spent the rest of the day lazing about and having only a light snack for dinner.

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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.

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A recovery day

I had a bit of an interrupted sleep last night, and woke up still quite tired. I ended up taking it pretty easy today, mostly working on writing a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! scripts.

I also took Scully out twice, for a morning walk, and then to to the park to meet other dogs and owners in the late afternoon. While there, I popped into the bakery that is a short walk away to get a loaf of sourdough and also some burger buns for dinner. They didn’t have any buns left, but they did have a challah loaf, which looked somewhat similar to the brioche-like buns they have. I don’t think I’ve ever had challah before, but it looked good, and I figured I could cut it into sections the right size for a burger and then split them horizontally.

When I got home, I realised the challah was much denser and heavier than the brioche buns, and trying it it was a little sweet, which I hadn’t expected at all. Nevertheless, I sliced it up and we used it as burger buns (for chick pea and lentil patty burgers, with cheese, tomato, and beetroot). It was actually really delicious. I think the rest of the challah will go quickly. It seems like it would be an ideal bread for French toast, too.

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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

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The storm?

The storm did finally hit overnight and we got a bit of heavy rain, but by the time I got up this morning the rain had stopped. Although it was cold and windy all day, and the rain did return at spotty intervals. But honestly it was nothing like the apocalypse that the weather bureau had warned us to expect. By lunchtime the sun was coming out again in between the odd showers, whereas I’d been prepared for a full day of torrential downpour. They forecast up to 50mm of rain today, but in the end we only got 13mm.

For a morning excursion I took Scully out to the hardware store, driving rather than walking. It’s next door to the home-maker centre which has dozens of furnishing shops as well as the pet shop, so we got to go in there too and Scully had a sniff up and down all the aisles of pet food. We got a bit wet walking between the two buildings, but not too bad. I also dropped off a box of electronic stuff, cables, light bulbs, and used batteries at the local recycling centre which is just around the corner from there too.

Tonight for dinner I recreated last night’s roast potato and pumpkin pizza. We always have two pizzas during what we call “pizza week” because the ready made bases come in packs of two. (I’m too lazy to make my own pizza bases from scratch each time.)

And then for dessert I made myself… a deconstructed rum ball!

Deconstructed rum ball

My wife bought me a madeira cake for a treat, which is what I use as the main ingredient to make rum balls – which I’ve made many times. But this time I thought I’d try something a little avant-garde and create myself a deconstructed dessert. After plating up (and taking photos) I sat down to eat it, mixing the ingredients with a desert fork on the plate… and it was both fun and delicious! 9/10 would do again!

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Recovery day

My sore legs were recovering from yesterday’s 5k run, so I didn’t end up doing very much particularly active today.

I did go out for the weekly grocery shop, but even that was low key, as our shopping list literally had only 4 items on it (crackers, Weet Bix breakfast cereal, arborio rice, and eggs) – although we never list staples that we buy every week, such as milk, bread, yoghurt, fruit, vegetables, and some prepared vegetarian foods. I basically browse the fruit and vegetable section and decide what strikes my fancy to cook/eat during the week and just grab some things. Today I got: kipfler potatoes, a red onion (those two to make potato salad), cherry tomatoes, a cauliflower, half a butternut pumpkin, a bunch of broccolini, several apples, an orange, a pomegranate, and three bananas. I also got some chick pea burger patties, and falafels.

I took Scully out briefly before lunch, but otherwise spent the day goofing off and making a couple of new Darths & Droids comics. Oh, and I processed a bunch of old photos from a trip to Thailand in 2005 that I took on 35mm film and scanned a while ago. This is Wat Phra Singh in Chiang Mai:

Wat Phra Singh

Tonight for dinner, my wife and I went out to one of our favourite restaurants, a local seafood place that does really nice fish dishes. It’s the first time we’ve been there since the restaurants closed for COVID restrictions a few months ago. Being winter, I had my favourite winter warmer dish – the snapper pie. Mmmm…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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