Back to golf

I’ve been holding off from strenuous exercise—and also golf, haha—for a few weeks due to a strained muscle in my abdomen, but it’s been feeling better recently to I decided today was a good day to try it out on the golf course.

I invited my golfing buddy to play at the short “par 3 pitch & putt” course we go to often. It was a bit busy today, with several groups going around the course. I hit my ball into the way of people playing other holes a couple of times, and had to signal them to make sure it was safe for me to play my stroke before they continued. One tee shot I hit actually landed on the tee mat for another hole! I had to take a free drop from there.

Anyway, I played pretty poorly, dismally in fact, scoring 10 more strokes than last time I played there. I did however sink a birdie putt, which was the highlight of the morning.

I did my usual thing on the way home, going via a favourite pie shop by the beach at Collaroy for lunch. I bought a beef and burgundy pie and a butter chicken pie, and walked to the beach to sit and eat while watching the waves and the sea birds, and the odd surfer. It’s such a nice thing to eat lunch outside somewhere with a nice view.

Back home I met my wife and Scully for a late lunchtime break and play in the park, after which my wife took Scully back to the office for the afternoon, until I picked her up about 4pm and we walked home. It’s a big day in Scully’s life, as today is the third anniversary of the day we brought her home for the first time as a puppy.

Scully 3 years ago and now

The first photo is 1 July 2018. The second is, well, not today but a week or two ago.

New content today:

And a perfect half day…

After yesterday’s perfect autumn day, the forecast today predicted rain, although not until the afternoon. So I decided to take advantage of what may be the last fine morning of the week to go and play some golf. And I decided to take advantage of the New South Wales Government’s COVID stimulus voucher program by getting them to pay for my round, so it was a free day out.

It really was a nice morning, although cooler and cloudier than yesterday.

Nice day for golf

This is the “pitch and putt” course where every hole is a par 3. My local full-sized course doesn’t (AFAIK) accept the COVID vouchers, so I travelled out here to use one. The course was fairly empty today, and playing by myself I used two balls in parallel, playing each hole twice as I went around the course once. I kept score separately and managed my best ever total for one of the balls, so that was good.

On this hole, 13, I managed to hit both balls from the tee onto the green! I was playing one pink ball and one yellow ball. The pink one should be easy to see – the yellow one is way at the back of the large double green (left of the big light pole on the right)… but that still counts!

Two tee shots on the green

After golf, I drove over to my favourite pie shop for lunch, and ate pies by the beach. There were pelicans hanging out there.

Pelicans and gulls

This afternoon I spent time working on some ISO Photography standards stuff, in preparation for the next meeting we’re having, which is coming up in June. I had to write up some comments on a draft document and submit them, and do some admin stuff with the meeting agenda and so on. Nothing particularly exciting, but it consumed much of the afternoon.

New content today:

Aching after golfing

This morning I played a round of 9 holes at Cammeray Golf Course, the second closest course to where I live, and where I like to go for some variety. It has some nice holes, with the 6th in particular having a lake that you have to hit over from the tee.

Cammeray: Hole 6 tee

Normally I can hit over the water without a problem, but unfortunately today I hit two balls into the water.

I did better on Hole 3 though. Here’s the view from the tee:

Cammeray: Hole 3 tee

That’s after I hit my ball… and that white spot on the green, right of the flag, is the ball! Here’s a closer look:

Cammeray: Hole 3 green

If I’d sunk this putt it would have been a birdie. But alas I needed two putts, for a par. Birdies for me a very rare and worthy of a huge celebration. A par is good, but I really wanted that birdie. Ah well.

When I got home, I spent much of the rest of the day making Darths & Droids comics. And feeling the muscle aches in my legs and arms. I don’t normally feel this worn out after a round of golf. I suspect maybe it’s on top of the really hard work of the kayaking I did last week – maybe my muscles hadn’t fully recovered from that yet.

New content today:

The feel of autumn

I really noticed today that autumn is in the air. The weather has turned crisp and cool – the maximum temperature today was only 24.6°C, although it was cooler this morning when I was out and about. After my Ethics class I drove out to the Pitch-and-Putt golf course where I met a friend and we played 18 holes. The trees around the city are looking autumny – at least the ones that actually change colour. Liquidambars are going red, and the plane trees are going that dull brown colour and starting to drop their leaves.

It was the last Ethics class of the school term, with the students getting two weeks of holidays for the Easter break, so I have two weeks off now before the second term begins in mid-April. Today we talked about what constitutes punishment: is it punishment if it’s accidental, or unintended, or if the recipient enjoys it, or if it’s imposed by someone with no authority. (The last one was illustrated with the example of a boy who teases his younger sister, and she gets back at him by hiding his cricket bat. Is losing his cricket bat punishment, or is it only punishment if one of his parents takes it away?)

We had a good discussion. At the end of the class, one of the boys said he would be moving to a new school, so he wouldn’t be in the class next term. This reduces my class size down to 12 students. Which is much more manageable than the 21 I had last year.

At golf, I did poorly for the first 9 holes, but got my eye in and scored really well on the last 9.

Back home this afternoon I worked on photos and writing up my trip from a couple of weeks ago as a full travel diary – expanding the entries I posted here to add more details and photos.

Oh, I should mention that Comments on a Postcard is running low on submissions. This is the easiest webcomic in the world to submit material for! If you’re reading this, you probably have what it takes to submit some stuff – so please take a look.

New content today:

Hitting the golf course again

I haven’t played golf on a full sized course for several weeks, but today was the morning. I got out soon after sunrise, with the morning dew still on the grass. The season is changing as we move into autumn, with sunrise coming later, and the mornings (and days) getting cooler.

My driving today was pretty good – I’m very pleased with the improvement in consistency since I had that lesson before Christmas. But putting let me down. On one hole I landed a tee shot on the green, but then proceeded to take 4 putts to sink it, scoring a 5 on the par 3 hole.

Here’s hole 4, with ball tracks through the dew showing my putts. The tracks coming from the bottom are both short chips onto the green, so the left ball needed just one putt, but I needed two putts for the right ball. The tee for this hole is visible in the background across the creek gully.

Hole 4 Lane Cove

Back home I worked on new Darths & Droids strips, setting up a buffer to last through next week when I’ll be away on that short holiday.

Not much else to report.

New content today:

Virtual Sydney meeting day 1

Today was the first day of the latest ISO Photography Standards meeting. I was scheduled to host this meeting here in Sydney, with 30+ delegates form around the world travelling here to meet and discuss digital photography standards in progress. Of course, with COVID being what it is, travel to Australia is impossible, so we’re having the meeting entirely online.

With delegates in Australia, Japan, three European time zones, and all four US time zones, it’s impossible to organise a time when everyone would normally be awake. So instead of meeting full time for 3 days, we’re doing 5 days of 3.5 hours – so the people awake in the middle of the night don’t have to stay awake for too long. Fortunately for me this meeting starts at 8 am and ends at 11:30 am, and the Europeans have the worst of it.

We always start with administrative stuff, which took most of today’s time. There was a lot of discussion of planning for future meetings. Normally we plan up to two years ahead, setting venues for each of the three meetings a year. The next meeting after this one was scheduled for Okayama in Japan in June, but that’s been converted to virtual because of COVID. The one after, around October, is scheduled for Apple HQ in Cupertino, California. I don’t know if that will go ahead in Cupertino or be converted to virtual – but either way I won’t be going because I’m pretty sure travel out of and back into Australia will be either still impossible or difficult. I really don’t want to travel to a country where COVID may still be rampant, and then have to go into quarantine for 2 weeks when I get back home.

We’ve put off talking about 2022 in the last couple of meetings, but we have to think about it now. The February meeting is normally in Yokohama, to coincide with the CP+ camera show. It wasn’t this year, because it was Japan’s turn to host the ISO Photography plenary meeting – the Okayama meeting – which involves all of the various photography committees getting together in one place. (I’m on the digital committee, there are also committees for image permanence/archiving, and imaging material dimensions. Standards for chemical photography processes are maintained by these existing committees – there is no longer a separate committee on chemical photography.) Anyway, the plan is to go back to Yokohama in February 2022. But given the virtualisation of the Okoyama plenary, there is some discussion of having Japan host a face-to-face plenary in 2022, which would be mid-year again to align with the other committees. So the proposal is for Japan to host in Yokohama in Feb 2022, and again in a place to be determined (perhaps Okayama) in mid-2022. The Japanese sponsoring bodies need to decide if they want to host twice in one year or not, and report back. Finally, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has offered to host in New York City for the October 2022 meeting. All assuming physical meetings can go ahead in 2022, of course.

They asked me if I wanted to host in Sydney in 2022, given I was supposed to be hosting the current meeting. But I said I couldn’t be sure travel to Australia would even be allowed even in 2022, so I didn’t want to start organising a meeting here.

Following the admin, there was the first technical session of the meeting, which happened to be the one about which I know the least, and have the most trouble following the technical discussion. So I didn’t really participate in that. We finished for the day a bit early, just after 11:00.

I’d organised to play golf with my friend at the short pitch-and-putt course, meeting after lunch at 1 pm. I drove via my favourite pie shop and got lunch there. I had a really good game today, and after 15 holes my experienced friend and I were exactly even on total strokes. Previously I’d been playing against him with relative handicaps in the teens, but now here I was holding my own without a handicap. I even got a birdie on one hole! Unfortunately, I had a huge blow out on hole 16, needing 7 strokes. That ruined my chance of beating my friend, alas. But next time… maybe I can do a bit better again.

Back home, I was pondering an idea I’d had in discussion with another friend, about making a database of Magic: the Gathering cards, to use to automatically construct cubes of cards for use with our Goldfish Draft format. I was thinking how much work it was going to be, creating and populating a database with our lists of cards suitable for Goldfish Draft… and then I wondered if anyone had downloadable data files of Magic cards.

A quick search later and I found MTGJSON, a maintained database of every Magic card ever printed, downloadable in JSON format. Not only that, they also have an SQL export! So I grabbed the SQL file, created a new database, imported it…. and voilà! I had a fully populated database of Magic cards within about half an hour. It’s pretty cool when you think a task will take a long time, and you find a way to get it done much more quickly.

I still need to add fields for Goldfish-relevant data for each card, and then populate those, but it will be a much easier task with the core database already done. So: feeling very accomplished today!

New content today:

New golf club test

This morning I played golf with my golfing friend at my local course, and I tried using the full set of clubs gifted to me by my neighbour (mentioned previously here). It turns out they’re a very nice set of clubs, newer and with more modern design than mine. They’re not the latest and greatest, but definitely a lot better than the clubs I was using.

Unfortunately, I failed to make the best use of them today. I messed up the first few holes and very quickly assured that I wouldn’t be producing any personal best total score today. However my luck changed on the par-4 7th hole, when I sank a chip from off the green, for a par. That was good – the first time I’ve ever scored par on that hole. I bogeyed the next two holes, which was good because I’m still at the stage where a bogey is a good personal score. So overall it wasn’t great but at least I ended the round of 9 on a high note.

I also baked a sourdough loaf today. But I forgot to put any salt in the dough, and it turned out… different. Definitely a different taste to normal and what you expect from bread. It was strange, but not actually bad. Although next time I’ll definitely try to remember the salt.

Most of the rest of the day I spent writing Darths & Droids strips. It’s amazing how you churn through them publishing three per week.

New content today:

Learning to drive

I didn’t mention yesterday when talking about my neighbour’s offer to give me some of her late husband’s golf gear, that she told me to take whatever I wanted to test it out first. I took the driver (the biggest, long distance club, for use in teeing off) on a test run today, playing a round at my local course.

The first hit I tried flew an impressively long way, but sliced badly, ending up in some trees. I corrected my grip for the next hole, and was blown away by how far and how straight the ball flew off the tee. I had a couple more marginal drives, but by the time I reached the 7th hole I was hitting the ball much cleaner and further than I’d ever managed with my own driver. I hit the tee shot on the 7th and it was without a doubt the best distance shot I’ve yet played. The hole curves slightly to the left around heavy forest, and my drive skimmed the inside of the curve within spitting distance of the trees, flying straight and true. I made a map of today’s drive compared to where I’d previously managed to hit the tee shot on this hole:

Hole 7

And then for good measure on the next hole I hit an even sweeter drive:

Hole 8

Wow. I’m just blown away by the difference this new, modern driver makes. The lesson I had a while ago also helped a lot, as I now have the basic knowledge of how to use this club effectively. So I’ll be happy to accept this gift from my neighbour. I started making dough today for a batch of sourdough which I’ll bake tomorrow, and take a loaf down for her.

I played early in the morning, and was home by 9:30. I had a shower, since it was already hot. The weather has turned from the cool and rainy of the last month to hot and sunny more typical of summer in the past few days. I thought my excursions were done for the day and planned to relax at home in the cool of the air conditioning.

Until my wife called at lunchtime and reminded me that I had agreed yesterday to go to her office and pick up Scully… So I had to venture out for a hot and sweaty walk to bring Scully home. And then I figured I may as well take her to the dog park later in the afternoon. The walk that the regulars do there along the waterfront has a final section which we call “The Gobi Desert”, because it so exposed and hot in hot weather. Normally we brave the heat of the Gobi Desert, but today everyone stopped short and turned back early.

So yeah, I’ve had another shower tonight.

New content today:

Understanding sections

This morning I did the required online training modules to learn about how to use Outschool as a teacher (as I mentioned yesterday). One module was about child protection and safety, and what to do if I see/hear anything questionable while conducting the Zoom classes with students. I’m familiar with this sort of stuff through my training to teach Primary Ethics. Obviously, if I notice anything untoward or suspicious, I have to inform Outschool as soon as possible, so they can investigate and deal with it through their protocols. But interestingly, even though Outschool is based in the US, the training module said that teachers based in Australia or Canada have local legal requirements to report suspected child abuse to local authorities, and they linked to an Australian Government website (and presumably a Canadian one, but I didn’t look at that) with more info. So it looks like if I’m doing a Zoom class, and I notice signs of what I suspect is child abuse, I am legally required to report it directly to Australian child protection services, even if the child is not in Australia.

The second interesting point was trying to figure out the meaning of the word “section” in the module about how to create, schedule, and run classes. There was material on things like “how to schedule a section”, and “how to transfer learners to a different section of the same class”. I couldn’t really follow the explanations because I had no idea what the word “section” meant in this context. I’ve occasionally heard Americans mention “sections” in the context of university courses, but I didn’t know what they meant and never bothered trying to find out. But suddenly I kind of had to figure it out.

Google was astonishingly little help. The word “section” has so many different meanings that no search string I tried came up with any helpful hits. I tried “section academic jargon”, and I got a list of pages from Australian universities that happened to have the word “section” in some unrelated context (because of course Google knows I’m in Australia). I tried “section american english” – but that was equally useless. I tried “section academic american english”, but again it was all pages about unrelated stuff.

Eventually I turned to reddit and posted the question in a smallish group that I know has some Americans. The first couple who responded said they didn’t know – which was not very encouraging! I got suggestions that it might refer to a section/part of the coursework, or of the syllabus, or textbook. But eventually someone answered:

Say a university is offering a course. It’s being offered on Mondays and Wednesdays at 9:30, taught by Professor A.

It’s also offered on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 10 AM, by Professor B.

Or you could take it at night time on Wednesdays for 2 hours, once a week, with Professor C.

Each of those is a section. Same course, same material, different instructors and meeting times. You choose to register for a specific section that’s available and meets your schedule.

Aha!!! This is what I’d call streams. All of a sudden it all fell into place. I’m really unclear why American English chooses to use the word “section” for this concept of parallel class streams. Whatever the reason is, it’s extremely confusing for Australian English (and I expect UK English) users, because of the many potential meanings of the word “section” – none of which seem to make sense. I don’t think I’d ever have been able to work out that meaning without having an American explain it in detail.

Anyway, that linguistic detail aside, I’m now ready to start thinking about class topics and structure, and put together lesson plans for offering on Outschool. It’ll take me a few weeks probably to get ready for the first class, but I’ll let you know when it’s available.

Between doing the modules, I made another loaf of sourdough bread today. I think I’m really getting the hang of it, as it turned out pretty well.

The other thing of note today was I ran into my downstairs neighbour whose husband Col died on Christmas Day (mentioned on 29 Dec when I learnt the news). I mentioned that Col and I talked about golf after he learnt I’d started playing. His wife now told me that he had asked her to see if I wanted any of his golf gear (he’d known his time was limited due to cancer). I said that was very generous and I’d have a look, and she let me into her garage to do so. Most of his clubs are pretty old – older even than my second hand set – but he had a nice new driver, exactly the sort of thing I was looking at buying for myself soon.

So next time I see her I’ll suggest that I’d be honoured to accept the driver, and maybe I could take the rest of the clubs to a pro shop and see if I can get a bit of cash for them to give back to her. I also mentioned to here that I’ve started baking sourdough, and she said she loves sourdough, so next time I bake I’ll do an extra loaf and take it downstairs for her.

New content today:

Not being bored

On reddit today I came across a very interesting explanation of why we get bored (versus why lizards can sit there all day doing nothing, apparently without getting bored):

Most organisms are in a constant struggle for energy. Obtaining energy is dangerous, you have to leave your safe burrow or go risk injury in a hunt. That’s why many organisms develop strategies for minimising the risks they need to take. And one of the most popular strategies is simply having simple, low demand physiologies, slow metabolisms and generally low energy needs.

Warm blooded animals are fairly unique. We’re like a car with the engine constantly running. That means we’re ready to go from zero to 100 right away but we’re also guzzling gas constantly, even if we’re standing still. That’s why warm blooded animals need to constantly eat.

[Boredom is] really just another evolutionary adaption. There’s no advantage to boredom if your survival strategy relies on doing nothing. Boredom is essentially the inability to articulate what is a meaningful activity for you right now. It motivates you to change whatever it is you’re doing and find something meaningful or productive to do.

That lizard isn’t questioning what it should be doing. It’s surviving by doing nothing and not wasting energy. Humans on the other hand have so many needs that doing nothing is nearly always the wrong thing to do, so you get bored.

(My emphasis.) Anyway, I thought that was pretty cool.

I got up early this morning and went to the nearest golf course at 6:30, playing my now usual two simultaneous balls on each hole. I scored a par on the very first hole, and thought it might be a good day, but things went a bit downhill after that. My totals were 50 and 58 – the 50 is good, but 58 is not as good as I’ve been scoring lately.

When I got home, before 9 am, I was so hot and sweaty that I had to have a cold shower. The weather has been warm this week, but mostly ridiculously humid. It’s not actually too hot – but once you do anything you start sweating and it just doesn’t evaporate. I guess the “cooler, wetter” La Niña conditions for the summer are here.

I continued today working on Darths & Droids writing. I’ve been doing a lot of story planning this week, and it’s starting to pay off with the next few strips I’m having to write, because I know exactly what plot elements they need to touch on.

New content today: