Triumphant games night!

On Friday I did 4 ethics classes online, and then went over to a friend’s place for board game night. I grabbed some Thai food on the way for dinner from my favourite place near where we used to work.

There were only three of us as a few of the other guys had things on. We played a game of Tapestry. This is a longish game where you control a civilisation striving to build technologies, explore lands, and outpace those of the other players. I’ve played it once before but didn’t remember anything so I needed a full rules refresher. The other two guys had played several times and knew it all.


But, astonishingly enough, I won the game! I got some good combos with the technology advancement and managed to pull together more points. So that was very satisfying.

Then we played Azul, and I had just about the worst start you could possibly imagine. After the first round I was on 1 point while the others were on 6. The second round I had the potential to do even worse, and was only saved by the fact that one of my opponents decided to spare me from a huge set of penalty tiles. If he’d chosen to inflict those on me, I would have ended round two on -5 points! (Although I think the rules specify that you can’t actually go negative, so I would been on 0.) Miraculously, I improved a lot in the final three rounds, and ended up coming second, rather than dead last.

Today was another warm day, very humid. I did a 2.5k run at 9am, and the conditions were 25°C and 92% humidity. I had a shower and cleaned the bathroom, and then spent some time working on a lesson plan for the next advanced ethics class, on the topic of “Sport and Politics”. I wrote questions about the Qatar World Cup, the 1980 Moscow Olympics boycott, and the sporting bans against South Africa’s Apartheid regime.

This afternoon I spent some time hacking together tables for my planned Dungeons & Dragons game in a fortnight. I’m using the Basic/Expert rules from 1981, but with a few house rules to make things a little smoother. In particular, I’m changing to an increasing armour class with better armour, instead of the traditional decreasing numbers. This way I don’t need to mess around with THAC0 or hit tables, and can just give every character a hit bonus a bit like 5th edition. I’m also smoothing the level progression so it doesn’t sit on a single number for multiple levels and then jump by 2 or 3. Not that it’ll make any difference for the first session, when the characters will all be first level.

Tonight my wife and I are getting into our rerun watch of Stranger Things season 4, after we completed rewatching all the previous seasons recently. It’s been good, because there was such a gap between season 3 and 4 that we’d forgotten a lot of the setup to the events that open season 4. Watching it a second time it all fits together a lot more.

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Kickstarter loot!

1. When Elon Musk took over Twitter and things started going bananas I initiated migration over to Mastodon ( I posted a few times to Twitter to let followers know, and then signed off, but I didn’t delete my account. I kept the Twitteriffic client open on my desktop and checked it every few days to keep up with any news from people I followed.

I checked it today, and discovered that my feed hadn’t updated in three days. I mentioned this to a friend, and he said that Twitter’s third party API had been turned off, so a lot of clients no longer worked any more. Checking the news myself, I found an announcement from the developers that indeed Twitteriffic could no longer access Twitter’s API, so they were discontinuing the app. So… today I shut it down and deleted Twitteriffic. I also decided I may as well delete Twitter from my phone (I rarely ever used it there – I much prefer desktop). So I’m now completely Twitter-free. Although my account still exists – I just can’t be bothered to delete it. And who knows, perhaps it might come in handy for something at some point.

2. Australia Day is on Thursday this week. I wrote about the ongoing and slowly growing controversy surrounding Australia’s national holiday last year and the year before.

Today there was an article on the ABC News site saying that a growing number of people are seeking to completely ignore the public holiday by going to work, rather than taking the day off. It discusses the complications that arise when people want to work on a public holiday, and mentions that increasing numbers of companies are in fact allowing staff to ignore the public holiday and work if they want. However this is not a standard thing that is allowed for in the holiday legislation, so companies are still allowed to say that the company is taking the day off and employees cannot work on the day, even of they want to.

It seems like quite a weird situation. It’s like imagining an American deciding they don’t agree with the principle of Independence Day and seeking to ignore it by going to work on 4 July. As I said in the past two years, this sort of weirdness is going to continue and escalate until we change the date of our national holiday.

3. I completed the week’s topic on medicine with my main ethics classes. Part of it is discussing the incredibly high cost of insulin in the USA, compared to almost every other country on Earth. Today I had one girl in a class say that if she gets diabetes, she’s going to move to Australia!

4. I received a package in the mail today! It was rewards for a Kickstarter that I backed in 2021, for a fantasy roleplaying adventure from Goodman Games, Crypt of the Devil Lich. Here’s all the loot I got: the hardback adventure book in a hard slipcase, bonus extra level, booklets of pregenerated characters, player handouts, and designer notes, plus a couple of posters and a sheet of stickers.

Crypt of the Devil Lich

I chose to get it in rules compatible with D&D 5th edition – the other option was for Dungeon Crawl Classics, which I also own already, but have not actually used to run any games before. Of course I made the choice before the present kerfuffle with D&D and the Open Gaming Licence that everyone is talking about. I might have chosen to get the DCC version today, although really that’s mostly because after running D&D 5th edition several times I’ve actually grown to not like it as much as I did at first.

I find the 5th edition combat system too tactical. I prefer a fast and loose, more abstract style to combat, rather than having players counting map grid squares and calculating ranges down the foot. Thus my decision to use the old 1981-vintage D&D Basic Set rules for the game I’m planning to run with my friends soon. That’s scheduled for Friday 10 February.

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Bad trivia

On games night last Friday, when I arrived the other guys were playing a cheap mass-market trivia game that one of them had received as a gift. This one had the gimmick that everyone had a number of life points, and when you answer questions right you can received either bullets, bulletproof vests, or can choose other players to lose life, and if you get it wrong you might suffer a wound. And some of the cards simply have “Shoot!” instead of a question on them, and when they are turned up everyone simultaneously points a rubber gun at another player, and whoever has a bullet to spend causes a wound. You get the idea. Anyway, some of the questions were… a bit weird.

Trivia game question

I was the one who drew this card and asked the question. To his credit, the askee gave a fairly detailed and correct answer. But when I revealed what was written on the card, everyone else hilariously insisted that he be marked wrong for it, since he didn’t give the answer written on the card. It was petty, but fun.

Today I was busy with four classes throughout the day. Just enough time in between to take Scully for a couple of walks and pick up some salad leaves to make dinner with. Weather was warm, but still not really hot. And that’s about it.

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Games night and steamy Saturday morning

Friday night was board games night at a friend’s place. I went straight after teaching my ethics classes, three in a row in the afternoon. We played Lords of Waterdeep and Camel Up, and then some rounds of a word game we invented using Bananagrams tiles.

Earlier on Friday I did the grocery shopping, had another ethics class, and then went to pick up Scully from my wife’s work. We went for a short drive to another suburb to grab a quick lunch and give Scully a walk.

This morning (Saturday) was rainy. It eased off about 10am, but was still overcast, so I took the opportunity to go for a run before it got too hot. I decided to do 5k instead of 2.5. About halfway through the sun came out and started heating up the wet roads. I could see clouds of water vapour rising off the roads as I ran through them. It was incredibly humid! And then by the time I finished the run it started raining again, so I arrived home soaking wet.

Once home I cleaned the bathroom and had a shower to cool off, then spent the afternoon making Irregular Webcomic! strips from the photos I shot on Tuesday. And this evening we all went out for dinner, walking up to the local shops and a Vietnamese restaurant there. It was nice sitting outside in the street ambience with dozens of other diners enjoying the warm evening air and summer twilight.

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First day of 2023

It felt like a fairly lazy day. I worked on writing lesson plans for my online ethics classes, which resume on Tuesday, and I made a new Darths & Droids comic. But I felt like I didn’t get a lot done and it ended up being late this evening while I still had things I wanted to get done today.

Of course, being New Year’s Day, we got up later than normal, after staying up late last night. And I went for a 2.5k run, the first of the new year.

I spent some time playing Azul: Queen’s Garden with my wife – our first learning game. As is traditional with Azul games, she beat me handily.

We also took Scully for a long walk in the early afternoon. The weather was warm but a bit cloudy, so it wasn’t too hot.

Oh! And we finally had showers again today, after a week of using the bathtub. I let the silicone sealant cure for 72 hours, and we should have been able to use the shower yesterday, but my wife suggested we leave it an extra day just to be sure. Besides using the shower, I also cleaned the stall with disinfectant and cleaned up the glass screen so now the whole thing is sparkly new.

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Shower repair, day 3

The ongoing battle with the shower continues. Today I applied another coat of the grout sealer first thing in the morning. Then I looked at the silicone sealant to check the instructions. It said to use mineral turpentine to clean the surfaces before application, and also for cleanup after application. Fortunately I have some turpentine stowed away in the garage, so I went down to get it.

The bottle was ancient. I must have bought it over 20 years ago. The price label (from back when everything had individual price labels) said $2.50. The same amount of turpentine from the hardware store website today costs $5.95. The bottle was a little over half full – I would have used the rest of it years ago for cleaning up painting work.

I wiped down the surfaces with turps (common Aussie abbreviation for “turpentine”). And I remembered just how powerful turps smells, and how much I can’t stand that smell. It pervaded the whole house. The rag I used to wipe the surfaces I put outside on the balcony to avoid having it in the house and emitting more smell.

I wiped the surfaces clean with a dry cloth and then applied masking tape to make sure the silicone sealant had nice clean edges. And then late in the afternoon I tackled the hardest part, the actual silicone sealant. I needed to bring in the turps-soaked cloth for wiping up excess. I made some plastic spatulas by cutting a thick plastic yoghurt lid into round-ended shapes, and I used those to smooth the silicone into the grooves. It got a bit messy and I got silicone all over my rubber gloves, so I ended up just using a gloved finger to do a lot of the smoothing.

As soon as all the crevices were sealed, I peeled off the masking tape. Hopefully I got it off fast enough, before the sealant skinned over. Now to let the silicone cure for… the instructions said 72 hours!! SO if we wait that ling until we can use the shower again, it will be Saturday evening (it’s Wednesday today). By then we’ll have been nearly six days without a shower. Lucky we have a bathtub!

I forgot to mention yesterday that the family of the boy who I was sorting out Magic: the Gathering cards for came by to pick them up. They were headed off for the day and driving past so dropped in yesterday morning. I met them out the front of my place and handed over the heavy shoebox full of cards. The mother and the boy got out to greet me (leaving a father and a slightly older girl in the car). The kid was super excited, and he gave me a hand drawn thank you card, on which he’d drawn a cool picture of a dragon:

MtG Dragon art

He’d written a thank you message inside. The mother gave me a paper bag which turned out to contain a bottle of port and a small Christmas cake. They were both very grateful, and I was happy to see the boy so excited to get the cards.

The other main thing I did today was go through photos from my first day in Amsterdam back in June. I edited selected photos and tried to figure out where exactly I’d taken them all. A lot were of random canals and bridges and I had no idea what they were when I took them. But I retraced our steps roughly on Google Maps, using identifiable landmarks to establish waypoints, and used Streetview to identify the intermediate locations. But doing this, I managed to locate the site of every photo. This was satisfying, as sometimes I’ve returned home from trips and have no way of figuring out exactly where some of the photos were taken.

Frans Hendriksz Oetgensbrug

I posted the photos to my Flickr album for the trip and incorporated several into my travel diary for that day, which I also updated with some of the now-identified locations.

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Made my bed, now I have to lie in it

Today we went shopping for a new mattress. Our old one is showing age with some depressions forming in it, so it’s time to upgrade. Scully came along too and charmed the sales staff at the bedroom furniture place. My wife and I tried various mattresses and we joked that Scully should try them too to make sure she’ll be comfortable on the new one.

We selected a mattress and arranged delivery, which will take 2-4 weeks. They’ll also take away the old mattress, which is good, because otherwise we’d have no way to get rid of it.

In other news, the woman I met at the game shop yesterday with her daughter who wanted to start playing Magic: the Gathering e-mailed me. She said yesterday I met her and her son

Okay, wow, I could have sworn she was there yesterday with a girl not a boy. Honestly, the kid had a hoodie on and I didn’t get a good look at him – I just saw some long hair sticking out. So I guess I misidentified. Oh well, fortunately I didn’t actually say “daughter” to the woman at any point. And though I was excited to help a girl get started in the game, helping a boy isn’t bad either. So I’m still going to give them some cards.

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A new game company

I picked up groceries this morning instead of my usual Friday, because tomorrow I need to drop the car in for annual servicing, and then walk back home in time for an ISO Photography Standards ad-hoc group meeting on depth camera experiments. (Held online via MS Teams.)

I grabbed more mangoes, which are even cheaper this week. We’ll be taking advantage of his mango glut for as long as it lasts. The past two weeks we’ve had R2E2 mangoes, but today I grabbed Calypso mangoes, which are probably my favourite – they’re smaller than R2E2, but sweeter and with a stronger “mango” flavour.

I spent much of the day writing new Irregular Webcomic! strips. I want to photograph a batch tomorrow, after my meeting. I’ve got all but one written, which I’ll polish off quickly tomorrow before I start photographing.

At lunchtime I walked over to my wife’s work to pick up Scully, who she took to work today. I stopped to get some sushi at a place near her work where I hadn’t been before. They made it fresh and it was really good – I’ll have to go back there again. I took Scully home a longer way, via the bakery at Naremburn, where I stopped for a custard tart.

This afternoon on our group chat, I posted this logo which I found on the university staff admin website:

Logo that looks like: workfgrce software

I was commenting on (a) how it looked like “workfgrce SOFTWARE”, (b) the fantastic kerning, and (c) the beautiful grey on graduated grey background colour scheme. A friend of mine said:

If I ever start a company, I’m going to call it something dumb like workfgrce or disnep (but not those since they’ve been done). But then make a logo that makes it look like a normal word with some stupid font. But the dumb thing it looks like is the real name of the company.

Anyone else want to work for a place called GreafGgmes? OMFG that would absolutely never get old. It’s almost enough to motivate me to get off my arse and start a business just to do that.

Another friend replied:

Greafgmes. The two ‘G’s should be one big G.

And so I made this logo for our new company:

logo that looks like: Greaf gmes

We’ll be publishing our new gmes soon!

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Standards meeting and gaming

This morning I had a meeting at Standards Australia, the follow-up to the recent ISO international standards meeting on Photography that I attended in early November. But first I had to drop Scully off at doggie daycare, and then head into town on the train.

The meeting was routine and not especially notable, except that we had a new project manager from Standards Australia taking care of the administrative stuff. This is the third manager we’ve had in the past three meetings – the previous one only lasted one meeting. I assume because she got moved onto some other committees, not because there’s anything particularly nasty about ours. In fact I think our committee is an easy one for new staff to get used to the drill, as we are fairly consensus-based and non-contentious. There are other Australian standards committees who are much more tricky to handle, as they have representatives from competing companies.

After the meeting, I headed to the game store in town to pick up a couple of board games I’d ordered: the new edition of Camel Up, and Camel Up: Off Season. The guy looked for the games in the area set aside for customer orders to be picked up, but didn’t find them. After some rummaging around out the back he returned with a copy of Off Season, but no Camel Up. He said there’d obviously been a mix-up and a copy hadn’t been set aside for me. So I’ll have to go back another time to get it.

Immediately back home I went to pick up Scully from the daycare. She really loves spending time there, and she is super tired after spending a few hours playing with other dogs.

Tonight is online board games night with my friends. We’ve played some games of Jaipur, Jump Drive, and Just One, and will continue with some others as the night progresses.

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The man who held our apartments together

Today I received a message from a neighbour. She informed me that there had been a death in the apartment complex. Not just any resident, but one who has lived here since we moved in when the place was newly built, 25 years ago. This man, R.N., had served as the chair of the owners’ corporation executive committee for many years, and continued in other important roles up until his sudden passing yesterday. He was still the person that everyone went to when they had an issue with the building and needed help.

Just a couple of weeks ago I had contacted R.N. myself for an issue with our front door, and he had organised a handyman to come around and fix it. I saw him around often, always saying hello as we passed in the grounds, the garage, a corridor, or wherever. And I think I saw him yesterday morning. I don’t know the circumstances of his death, but my neighbour’s message said it was sudden. I had no knowledge of any health issues that he may have had, so this has come as a big shock. He leaves his wife, who must be devastated. I presume there will be some sort of memorial organised by the residents. It’s a small and fairly closely knit group in these apartments – many of us know each other and socialise together. R.N.’s loss will be sorely felt by many people here. Someone will take over his role as the main curator of the building, and I hope they do as good a job.

In other news, yesterday I had games night at a friend’s place, and I took Scully with me. We played games of Apples to Apples, Libertalia: Winds of Galecrest, and Ingenious. One of the host’s young daughters, about 10 years old, joined in for Apples to Apples. She’d never played before and as we were explaining the rules to her, she said, “Oh, it’s like Cards Against Humanity!” (Which, if you’re not aware, is basically exactly the same game in a truly obscene, R-rated, adult version.) Someone said, “Wait, how do you know about Cards Against Humanity?” and her father had to explain that there’s a new “family version” that she’s played.

Today I was a bit tired from the late night and didn’t do too much. I edited some more photos from that Europe trip in June. Here are some ladies from a bakery stall at a small farmers’ market that we checked out in Cologne early one morning. We had a big chat with the older lady and she gave us lots of free samples of various types of bread, which was all delicious.

Market bakers

For dinner, my wife and I walked a couple of suburbs over (about 3 km away) to a new Mexican restaurant that we wanted to try. It was good – a lot more authentic than most Mexican restaurants in Australia (which tend to be much more Tex-Mex), but also rather expensive. We’d go back there again, but maybe not too quickly.

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