Faux Hun Friday; pastie and pizza Saturday

Friday was gaming night at a friend’s place. My lunch was just a falafel wrap that I made with supermarket ingredients. But for dinner I picked up something on the way to my friend’s place. This involves a bit of a story.

When we used to work together at Canon Research, there was a Thai restaurant just around the corner from the office, where we often used to get lunch. It was called Go Hun. And it had some of the best Thai food you could find in Sydney.

When we stopped working there, Go Hun of course remained, but I didn’t have occasion to go out that way very much, except to visit this particular friend who lived nearby for board games night. So sometimes I’d drop in on the way and grab some take-away for my dinner, which was good. But then about a year ago Go Hun closed down! But a new Thai place opened in the same premises. It’s actually named “Charmed Thai“, but we all refer to it as “Faux Hun”.

Anyway, I hadn’t tried anything from Faux Hun yet, so I stopped in on the way and picked up an order of chicken pad kee mao. It was really good!

At the games night there were just four of us. Two of our other regulars both happen to be in Europe at the moment: one on a six-week grand tour with wife and teenaged kid, and the other who popped over to Italy for a week to meet up with his partner who was taking a slightly longer trip there.

We started with Ingenious, which I won. And then played a quick hand of Uno Flip!, which I also won! My friend had found this at a discount store for just $3 and decided to buy it because it was so cheap. It normally retails in regular shops for about $10. Only when he got it home and opened the box, it became clear that it was a Chinese counterfeit version! The box said it contained printed instructions, but it didn’t, and the quality of the cards was awful. They were thin and flimsy, with a weird finish that looked like it’d start peeling off any second, and were already starting to curl. We played a game merely so that he could say he got his money’s worth out of the $3 he’d spent, before he throws it away.

We moved on to the big game for the evening: Architects of the West Kingdom. This is a worker placement game where you choose to place a piece each turn to collect money, collect various building resources, hire workers, build buildings, or round up rival workers in an attempt to (a) restrict them from gaining bonuses and (b) sell them into incarceration for profit. You can also use actions to free your own workers from other players or the prison. The goal is to amass points by building buildings, constructing parts of the cathedral, earning a virtuous reputation, or simply collecting valuables including silver, gold, and marble. The obvious routes to victory involve building a lot of buildings and working on the cathedral. But I got some workers who synergised into a way to collect lots and lots of marble cheaply, and reward me with bonus virtue for marble at the end of the game. So rather than build buildings, I decided to see if I could just collect enough marble to win.

I came last. I think the strategy could have worked if I’d just built another building or two, or found another worker who synergised with the engine and gave me more benefit from the marble that I’d amassed. I didn’t lose by a lot, so I believe the strategy could be viable.

Anyway. We ended the night with a quick game of For Sale. Which I also came dead last in. But I’d won two of the four games for the night, and the other two wins had been split between other players, so I declared myself the grand winner!

Today I cleaned the house up, vacuuming, cleaning the bathroom and shower, and emptying all the damp absorbers and refilling them with absorbing crystals. Our weather is still far too damp and humid and I dread getting mould growing in things. For lunch I took Scully for a walk and popped in at the pie place, which had a special beef and vegetable pasty

And for dinner tonight my wife and I went out to Organica, which we tried for the first time a few weeks ago. This time we tried the pizzas there, and they were very good. Thin crust blistered by a wood fire, with buffalo mozzarella and toppings.

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Fajitas Tuesday

Today I worked on my lesson plan for this week’s new ethics topic: Noise. With questions like:

  1. What should you do if neighbours are being noisy when you need to study or sleep?
  2. Is it okay to have an occasional loud party, as long as you don’t do it too often?
  3. Can even soft sounds be annoying sometimes?
  4. How important do you think it is to get away from noise and have some peace and quiet?
  5. Should there be more quiet places in busy areas?
  6. Should concerts be softer to protect people’s hearing?
  7. Should electric cars make sound so people can hear them coming? Or is it better that we use the new technology to reduce traffic noise?

That done, I took Scully yup to the shops and got some sushi rolls for lunch. It had rained—again—overnight, but was clearing up as we went out and the sun came out in the afternoon. I noticed a lot of the footpaths are green with moss again, like they were a year ago when we were having ridiculous amounts of rain. There are also an awful lot of mushrooms sprouting from the bases of trees and garden mulch areas around the street trees.

This afternoon I spent some time sorting through Magic: the Gathering cards, trying to collect loose cards and the remains of decks into piles of specific sets so that I can offer them for sale on eBay as coherent lots. I discovered a couple of preconstructed Commander 2013 decks, which I barely ever played with. My friends and I preferred booster drafts and didn’t really get into playing Commander. So I confirmed that these decks still had all of the cards present and stuck them on eBay (Power Hungry deck, Eternal Bargain deck). These items join three lots of old sealed booster packs that I listed yesterday (Throne of Eldraine, Core Set 2020, and 6 mixed boosters going back to Ravnica block). In the next week I’ll start listing lots of loose cards from specific expansion sets, starting with the more modern ones.

In other gaming news, I got an email saying that backer surveys are ready for Goodman Games’s Original Adventures Reincarnated #8: Grimtooth’s Old School Traps. When I backed this, I chose the D&D 5E version of the book, but I’ve since re-evaluated and would prefer the Dungeon Crawl Classics version now. So I sent Goodman an email and asked if my pledge could be changed. Hopefully I’ll hear back in the positive.

For dinner tonight I made vegetable fajitas. Fried up some onions, garlic, julienned carrots, sliced broccolini, cauliflower, and mushroom, seasoned with paprika, oregano, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, chilli, salt, and lemon juice. Served with warm tortillas.

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Standards, Lego, games

This morning I had to move an ethics class to make room for a Standards Australia Photography committee meeting. I’ve been serving as the chair of this committee for 9 years come December, and the tenure limit is 9 years, so we had to have a discussion about finding someone else to chair the committee. This shouldn’t be a lot of work, as I confirmed with our committee manager that I can continue to attend the ISO international meetings and compile reports, while someone else chairs the committee. That’s 90% or more of the work involved. So hopefully someone will nominate to serve as the new chair while I continue to do the work that I want to do. if nobody does, then I don’t know if the committee will be forced to fold, leaving me unable to do the work any more.

Here’s stage 22 of the Lego Dungeons & Dragons set build. It fills out the upper floor with a cool looking wizard’s chamber or something, with books and candles and a cool skull.

Lego D&D set, stage 22

Lego D&D set, stage 22

Lego D&D set, stage 22

Tonight is online games night with my friends. My wife is out having dinner with her friends, so I just walked with Scully up to the fish and chips shop to get some dinner there. We’re currently playing the quantum trick-taking game Cat in the Box.

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D&D and a big walk

Friday night was Dungeons & Dragons night! During the day I had my usual ethics classes, and in between I prepared by cleaning up the house. It needed a thorough vacuum, and cleaning the bathroom, so that took a bit of time. I also did some last minute prep work for the game, running through the adventure quickly and printing out some new character sheets for characters who had levelled up since last time.

We had a new player join us, an old friend of mine who I played with many years ago. She was the player of the original Alvissa in the fantasy game that I based Irregular Webcomic! on, and also Paris in the science fiction game that I based that them on. One of my other regular players was Draak and Spanners, and it was the first time the two players had seen each other for a few years, so that was a nice reunion.

Our new player rolled up a character using random rolls, and decided to be a magic-user. Notgandalf the usual magic-user wasn’t present (because his player is on an overseas trip), so extra spellpower was useful. They started a new adventure, investigating an old temple hidden behind a waterfall, dedicated to an old god of swords. They didn’t get very far into it, spending a lot of time dealing with some interesting traps, some serpent people, and a nasty gelatinous cube.

Today my wife got up early because she had a special Open Day event at her work, and had to be there to set up by 8am. I spent the morning working on a report for Standards Australia on the recent ISO Photography meeting that I attended. I need to do one of these for each international meeting, before our follow-up Australian meeting, which is scheduled for this coming Friday.

At lunch timeI walked up to my wife’s work with Scully to meet her there. They had a sausage sizzle going, and I had a sausage sandwich as part of lunch. They also had people baking fresh scones, served with jam and cream, and we got a pair of those to eat as well together after my wife had finished her shift.

Then we walked from there up to Cammeray so she could get a coffee. I grabbed another small snack from Maggio’s Italian bakery to complete a piecemeal lunch. And then from there we walked home. Bu the time we got home, Scully and I had covered 6 km of walking.

After we walked all the way home, I rested for a bit before heading out for a 5k run. It’s the first run I’ve done in 2 weeks, since last weekend was so wet and cold and miserable. I took it a bit easy. But I overtook a man and woman jogging together on one street in the same direction as me. Then when I was doing the loop around the end of the peninsula, I passed them again, going the opposite away around the loop. And then coming back from the peninsula, I overtook them again. They must have taken a shorter route around the loop, because I was definitely running faster than them, but they got ahead of me somehow. And then I turned off the ain street into some backstreets that zig and zag a bit, and when I was further along, they appeared from another side street and I overtook them for a fourth time! By now they were laughing and chatting to me as I went past, and I exchanged a few friendly words, saying that I was nearly finished my 5k for the day.

This evening my wife and I went up to the local shops for dinner at an Indian restaurant. I also dropped off a couple of D&D 5e adventure books that I’m never going to use with some of the D&D players at Professor Plums. I’d organised to sell some at cheap prices to some of the other DMs there.

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Packing eBay sales

All of the Magic: the Gathering and Netrunner sealed packs I listed on eBay last week sold today. So I spent a fair bit of time dealing with buyer queries, sending invoices, recalculating combined postage costs for multiple lots that single buyers won, and then after a few of them paid for their purchases I had to package them up and take them to the post office for mailing. I sent off three packages today, and I have five more to go either tomorrow or whenever the buyer pays for them. Three have already paid, but after my last trip to the post office (I went twice), so they’ll have to be mailed tomorrow. Hopefully the other two buyers will pay overnight too.

On my lunchtime trip I stopped off at Moon Phase to try another one of their baked treats. It was after lunchtime by the time I got there, and they’d sold out of a lot of their selection. I chose a coconut brioche, which was very nice.

In between all the packing and posting, I worked on my new critical thinking/ethics class for tomorrow. The topic is “The Countryside”, as in rural areas. With questions for the kids to think about on topics such as: What different opportunities are there for people in cities versus rural areas? What are the benefits and difficulties of living in rural areas, compared to cities? Why do young rural people tend to move to cities, is this a problem, and can anything be done about it?

Tomorrow morning I also have my next visit to Loreto school for mentoring with my students. Last week’s session was cancelled because of a school event, and this was the earliest we could reschedule it.

Another photo, taken yesterday. There’s a lot of roadworks and construction in the neighbourhood at the moment, and I saw this wonderfully helpful sign for pedestrians to avoid the work in progress.

So which way do I walk?

I can only guess that you’re meant to walk under the sign.

New content today:

Moving cards on eBay

I have a week with no ethics classes, but only because I have the ISO Photography Standards meeting beginning tonight… at 3am.

Without needing to prepare for a new class this week, I spent the morning doing photos and creating listings on eBay to sell lots of Magic: the Gathering and Netrunner cards, all in sealed packs. I bought a bunch of Magic booster boxes some years ago, at the tail end of our regular draft tournaments with my friends, thinking we’d use them to play tournaments. But we haven’t played Magic for ages and I don’t think we’ll ever get to use all these booster packs. So I’ve decided to sell them off. There are sealed boxes from Dominaria through Guilds of Ravnica and Ravnica Allegiance to War of the Spark. Plus boxes of Unstable and Adventures in the Forgotten Realms. And also some loose boosters, dating back to original Ravnica: City of Guilds, and Dissension. I also created listings for sealed starter and booster packs for Wizards of the Coast’s 1996 Netrunner, the original game that later evolved into Android: Netrunner.

If you’re interested at all in any of these, you can see my eBay listings here.

I took Scully for a couple of walks during the day, which was cold and wintery, but dry, thankfully. And did a few comics things to keep up. And then did a little prep work before the ISO meeting tonight. I’m going to try to go to sleep a bit early, although that may be difficult because I’m not tired at all. I have an alarm set for just before 3am so I can get up in time to join the meeting online.

New content today:

A missed classic

I discovered yesterday the greatest missed cover song opportunity ever. In 2003 No Doubt released a greatest hits compilation and wanted a new song to feature on it, and decided to record a cover. They considered hundreds of songs and narrowed it down to “It’s My Life” by Talk Talk and “Don’t Change” by INXS.

They chose “It’s My Life”.

I really like No Doubt’s “It’s My Life”, but hot damn…. I want to hear them do “Don’t Change”.

Friday was games night with my friends. It should have been in-person at someone’s place, but there were a couple of illnesses and we decided to convert it to online so more of us could participate. We played a new game for me, Cat in the Box, which is a quantum trick-taking game. The deck is simply 5 copies of each card, numbered 1 through to 9. Each copy is identical and has no suit.

You play tricks as normal, except that when you play a card, you declare its suit: red, blue, yellow, or green. There’s a board where you mark when you play each card. So if you lead with a 9 and say it’s blue, you put one of your pawns on the blue 9 on the board, to show that that card has been played. Other people have to either (a) follow suit by playing a card and declaring it to be blue—making sure it’s a card that hasn’t already been played by marking an empty space on the board with their pawns—or (b) play a card and declare it to be another suit. If you don’t follow the led suit then you have to mark on your personal player card (for everyone to see) that you have no more cards of the led suit (blue in this case); then in future tricks of the current hand you are not allowed to declare any card to be blue. Red is always trumps, so you can trump another led colour by declaring you have no more of that colour and playing a card and declaring it to be red (if you legally can do so).

Note that there are 5 cards of each number, but only 4 of them can ever be played, because there are only 4 suits. Also, it’s possible for you to get into a situation where you have several cards in your hand, but are unable to play any of them. For example, you have a 3, a 5, and a 6. But you’ve declared yourself out of blue cards, and the only available 3, 5, and 6 on the board are all blue. If this happens, you can’t play a card without causing a quantum paradox, and the round ends, with you scoring zero.

On top of this, after the cards are dealt you can discard any one card (to help avoid having unplayable cards), and then you have to bid a number of tricks that you expect win before the hand begins. You get one point per trick won. If you make your bid exactly, you get bonus points equal to the size of the largest cluster of your pawns on the board, connected vertically or horizontally (not diagonally). So there’s incentive to play cards of adjacent values or suits rather than more freely.

It’s a very different trick-taking game, and requires some very different strategies. I throughly enjoyed it.

Today, Saturday, I went for a 5k run in the morning and then spent the rest of the morning doing some overdue housecleaning – a thorough vacuum cleaning and cleaning the bathroom. And then the rain came in. It’s been raining heavily all afternoon and into the evening, sometimes very heavily. There’s also some heavy thunder and lightning this evening too. We’re just a tick shy of 100 mm of rain in the past 12 hours, and will likely reach that value before the 12 hours are up, with more heavy rain throughout the night and into tomorrow.

This evening our new neighbours across the hall invited us over for pre-dinner drinks and appetisers. We made some small pizza bites to take over – bite sized blobs of pizza dough topped with either tomato paste or pesto, and then a little bit of cheese, either mozzarella or feta. We sat and shared some wine and they also provided cheese, crackers, chips, nuts, dips, carrot sticks, and some dried fruit. We had a nice discussion of various things, getting to know each other better. They’re South African, having moved here from Johannesburg (which we knew), so they had some interesting stories to tell about that and various travels they’ve done. Scully got to play with their dog Sophie.

We came home after a couple of hours, and have eaten so much that just a bit of extra snacking will do us for dinner!

New content today:

Games and art

Friday was online games night with my friends. I had a pretty standard day except for trying to troubleshoot my web sites. I still couldn’t log in to the server via SSH. Support from my webhost was not very helpful and I sent several messages back describing the problem and what I’d tried. A friend helped me and said it sounded like the machine was out of processes, so couldn’t launch a shell process when I tried to log in, nor processes to do various tasks.

Besides that I had my usual ethics classes. After the last one, I went out for dinner with my wife to a local Indian place. The samosas there are always good, and this time I tried a pepper chicken dish which I thought I must have had before, but it was different to what I expected, with a creamier sauce, and very nice.

At games night we played Space Base, then Wavelength, and Just One. I think that’s kind of all we got through – everyone seemed to be tired and wanted to end early.

Today I went for a 5k run. it was only 13°C when I went, which is too cold for me! But I managed a good time, just over 27 minutes. After that I cleaned the bathroom and shower cubicle, then worked on some comics for a bit.

After lunch my wife and I took Scully on a long walk over to the Coal Loader, where the local council was holding a local art exhibition and competition. There were mostly sculptures, with a few paintings and audiovisual installations. Some really interesting ones, and some a bit strange – a good mix for art, really.

In good news, it looks like my web server issues have resolved today!

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Games and next Lego construction

Friday was face-to-face board games night at a friend’s place. I took Scully with me and there were six of us altogether for games. We played No Thanks, then Heat: Pedal to the Metal, and then a new game for me, Dungeon Academy.

In this game there is a dungeon map made of sixteen dice which are dumped at random into a 4×4 square tray, like in Boggle. Each player has a character card with different amounts of health (red) and mana (blue). Each player needs to plot a path through the dungeon grid on their own sheet of paper, at the same time, entering from any side, traversing adjoining squares (maximum once each), and then exiting from any side. Each die in the grid shows either a monster (red or blue, small or large) or a potion (red or blue). A small monster drain one health/mana (matching the colour), large ones drain two. As long as your health/mana don’t go negative you kill the monster and gain 1 gold. Potions add to the corresponding health/mana. Your character also has a special ability (mine was gain 1 extra gold per large blue monster slain).

It’s a race to see who can plot their course fastest, without messing up. If you mess up and drop below 0 health or mana you score zero gold for that round, but heal back to full in both for the next round. When finished, you grab a numbered card from a pile in the middle, first player finished gets 1, last gets the largest number (6 for our six-player game). Then you draw a treasure card for each player and choose in order, from 1 to the last player, excluding anyone who died in that round. So being faster gets you a better choice of treasure. Treasures can do things like give you extra gold, or give you abilities such as a helmet which can be discarded to avoid a monster hitting you, or invisibility cloak which means you can ignore a monster. Some are curses, which are negative, so you don’t want to be picking last!

You play over 4 rounds. In round 2 and 4 one of the regular dice is swapped out for a special die that has different faces that do other things. The last die is the “boss die” which has, for example, a dragon that drains 3 health and 3 mana, but is worth 3 gold.

I scored a final total of 30 gold, which was equalled by one other player, but we lost to someone who managed 31.

During the day I had 4 ethics classes. One of the parents contacted me early on and said that her daughter had been sent home from school with a fever, and might not join the class. But she really liked it and might want to join anyway even though she was feeling sick. It turned out she did indeed show up. Such dedication!

Friday was also warmish, reaching 23.7°C, in fact the warmest day of May so far. But Saturday dawned cold and didn’t heat up much at all. We only reached a maximum of 14.6°C at 10am, and then it just got colder again. A strong cold southerly wind has been blowing drifting showers across the city and it really feels like winter now. But I dragged myself out for a 5k run, and actually did a decent time. Probably because I was cold and wanting to get back inside as quickly as possible!

Today I finally got back into the construction of the Lego Dungeons & Dragons set. Stage 11 adds details to the exterior part of the castle/dungeon. There are spiders and plants and trees. If you look closely you can see a third spider lurking in the shadows behind the top of the left tree:

Lego D&D stage 11

The door has also been covered with a removable rock face, making it a secret door!

Lego D&D stage 11

And there’s a secret cache of gold and a key:

Lego D&D stage 11

And part of the dungeon wall is removable too!

Lego D&D stage 11

Inside this part, seen from the other side, has been added a skeletal torso guardian and a spellbook (behind the shield):

Lego D&D stage 11

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Friday D&D night, Saturday Star Wars night, Sunday… work

I missed updates on Friday and Saturday due to running games both night. Friday was Dungeons & Dragons at my place, the finishing up the adventure of Titardinal’s Tower. I spent much of the day in between ethics classes preparing the adventure for the evening.

I kid of repeated the dose on Saturday, spending all day preparing an adventure for a Star Wars adventure using Scum & Villainy rules, which I ran at Professor Plums, the local geek shop, for a special May the 4th Star Wars night. The adventure outline was:

Greedo gives the PCs a job to retrieve a Kyber crystal from a Jawa sandcrawler. They get the crystal, but as they leave the sandcrawler, Imperial troopers attack the crawler for some reason. They get back to the cantina to meet their onward contacts, only to discover the alien has had his arm sliced off, and Greedo is lying slumped dead in a booth with a blaster wound to the chest… And then things get complicated.

Ponda Baba was their pilot, but now he can’t fly because of the missing arm. He and Dr Evazan were supposed to escort them to Dantooine to sell the crystal to Rebel agents. So they have to find a new pilot. But then Mos Eisley spaceport is locked down because apparently someone blasted their way out of there, so they have to get through that somehow. When they finally get to Dantooine, the place is crawling with Imperials apparently looking for a Rebellion headquarters.

I had six players, mostly around 12-15 years old, plus one 40-ish woman who was the mother of one of the girls. She was clearly into Star Wars and seemed to have the most fun recognising the plot as the adventure unfolded, whereas a couple of the kids didn’t know the original movie, so it was a bit lost on them, But I think everyone had fun playing. Here’s the flyer the shop used to promote the event:

May the 4th Star Wars RPG night

Today I was also very busy, catching up on things that I couldn’t do the past two days because of prepping for the games. I made another week’s worth of Irregular Webcomic! strips, and wrote most of a Darths & Droids strip, but I’ll have to finish that tomorrow.

New content today (I’m not going to list Friday & Saturday’s strips, just click back if you need to):