One of those days

I had a mostly awful day. It started promisingly, with a trip to the golf course, and went as far as the first hole, where my tee shot went sweetly down the fairway and I scored 4 strokes on the par 3 – my best score so far on that particular hole.

But then things went downhill, as I made my worst ever scores on all of the next five holes. I did manage a nice bogey on a par 4, which would have been an amazing par if my chip shot had just rolled another 3 centimetres. It’s the closest I’ve come so far to holing a chip from off the green.

After completing my round (just 9 holes), I dropped the clubs at home and set out to buy a tablecloth for my market stall, and a couple of easels to display large prints, and to pick up a DVD I’d ordered online. I chose pickup because I was planning to drive to a large hardware store a couple of suburbs away to get the easels (not my local one, which didn’t stock them), and to park there while I walked over to the shops to get the DVD and tablecloth.

The first problem occurred when I reached the hardware store. It wasn’t there. Apparently it had moved several years ago, after the last time I’d been there. Right across to the far side of the suburb – too far to walk. So I turned the car around and and started heading over there… then realised I had to get the DVD and tablecloth first, because the easels wouldn’t fit in the car and I’d have to leave the roof down, and I didn’t want to do leave the easels unguarded in the car while I got the other stuff. So I turned around again and headed back… running smack into some roadwork that slowed traffic to a dead stop. I spent 20 minutes driving what should have taken less than 5 minutes.

I went to the DVD shop to pick up my order. I told the guy at the checkout counter that I was there to pick up an online order, and he told me to go to the end of the counter and he’d call someone to assist me. I waited there at least 5 minutes, while three staff members nearby did some stuff on their terminals and completely ignored me. Eventually I said, “Excuse me, I was told to wait here for service, but nobody is serving me.” That got them jumping and one of them got my order right away.

I scouted 7 different homeware, kitchenware, and department stores for tablecloths, but it seems that tablecloths must be out of fashion, because a few of them didn’t even have any, while the others had a very restricted range. I wanted a simple black one. The only black one I found was in the department store… for $120. So I made do with a grey one for $12 from another shop.

Then I went to the art supply shop to get some stiff cardboard to make a greeting card display stand. Up the front was a sale display with cutting mats, which would come in handy, so I grabbed one of those. Then I spent some time at the cardboard sheet racks deciding which sort to get. They had solid black cardboard, marked down from $15.95 to $14.35 a sheet. I grabbed two.

At the checkout there was a new guy, who had trouble entering the prices. He kept saying that he couldn’t get the sale price of the cardboard to come up. We went to the back of the store and he grabbed the actual price display off the shelf and brought it to the front. After some fiddling he managed to do something and got the correct price. Then he scanned the cutting mat, which came up as $15 instead of the $9.50 advertised sale price. I told him it was on sale for $9.50, but he couldn’t get the register to accept that price.

Eventually as customers started piling up behind me, he said he could charge me $15 and give me a gift voucher for $5.50. I didn’t really want to do that, so he said the only thing he could suggest was waiting for his manager to return from her break. So I waited…. must have been ten minutes or more. Eventually the manager returned and took over. She started fresh and entered the cardboard, saying it was $18 or something a sheet. I said no, it was on sale for $14.35. She said, no, it’s not. I said look, there’s the sale tag the other guy got. She looked at it and said no, that’s for a different product.

I took her to the back of the store and showed here where the tag had come from – the same spot I’d gotten the cardboard sheets. She said, “Oh, someone’s put it in the wrong place. Look, it says white core board, not black display board. It should have been down here on this shelf. The white core board is normally $15.95, on sale for $14.35. The black display board is $18, and not on sale.”

I’d had about enough of this and just wanted something cheap that I could use so I said I’d take the white core board then. Okay, so we swapped the black board for white core (which is black on one side, not both sides). She rang it up, $14.35. Good. Then she scanned the cutting mat. $15. I said it’s on sale for $9.50. She said no, it’s not supposed to be on sale. I was getting a bit exasperated now, and showed her the sale sign on the front display, and this time it was marked with the name of the right product. She said okay, she’d give it to me for $9.50, but she made out like she was doing me a big favour.

So finally I had my cardboard. Then I had to drive over to the hardware store. I’d expected to be home well before 11 am, but now it was already midday. So I stopped to have a quick salad for lunch, and then set off. I pulled into a side street and stopped the car partway there to check my navigation, and I saw that the side street I happened to pull into led straight to the new hardware store location. So I continued down that street another few blocks… almost reaching the store, except for the fact that the street dead-ended, with a building in between me and the hardware store that I could see behind it. So I had to go back and around a longer way.

Once there, buying the easels was actually okay, and I headed home, getting in after 1pm, over 2 hours later than I expected when I set out.

After all that I just collapsed and watched TV all afternoon, rather than doing anything productive. And then during dinner I bit my lip painfully. Twice.

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Friday Games Night – Throne of Eldraine

Last night was fortnightly Games Night, so this is Friday’s post a bit late.

My contact from the USA who I played golf with last week suggested we try a different course: Cammeray Golf Club. We arrived at 10:00, and the day was already very warm and sunny, so I made sure to put lots of sunscreen on, and wear a large-brimmed hat, and carry a bottle of water.

The Cammeray course is a shortish 9-hole course, no par 5 holes. There were lots of trees down the edges of the fairways, and I took advantage by “playing in the shade” on some holes – i.e. mis-hitting my ball so that I had to hack my way under the trees instead of along the fairway.

Hole 3, Cammeray Golf Club

Above: a view down to the hole 3 green, but this is from about halfway up the hill that leads to the tee position (another group were teeing off as I took the photo). From the tee this is quite a drop down to the green.

Hole 5, Cammeray Golf Club

Hole 5, a longish par 4. We played the course twice through, for a total of 18 holes. My first time on this hole I hacked my way slowly up the fairway, but my second time around I managed a good solid drive, and followed up with a long second shot that landed tantalisingly close to the green – just a few centimetres off it. Essentially I made the “green in regulation” (i.e. reached the green in 2 shots under par – giving me two putts to make par). Alas the putt was very long and I didn’t hit it well, so ended up with 6 strokes.

Hole 6, Cammeray Golf Club

Hole 6 is the water hole. You have to hit directly over this little lake. The lake is unfortunately low because of the current drought conditions – the water level should be a metres or so higher as you can see from the edges. Nevertheless, on this day it sported a nice variety of birdlife: I spotted a white-faced heron (the prominent upright grey bird on the near shore), little black cormorants and little pied cormorants (on the small rocky island), Australian wood ducks (two near the signpost in the bend on the prominent path at left, anther at the base of the large dark tree behind the lake), and masked lapwings (none that I can spot in this photo).

We finished close to 2 pm, and I rested for a while in the clubhouse air conditioning before heading home for a long, cold shower. It was very hot and humid, but good to get some exercise!

In the evening I headed to Games Night, where we began a Magic: the Gathering draft tournament with 8 players, using the recentish Throne of Eldraine set. This set has a fairy tale theme, and I really wanted to give it a try.

During the draft, I mostly picked green cards, and settled on white as a support colour. I considered grabbing a couple of giant spiders, with their ability to block flying creatures, but I realised I was seeing very few flying creatures go past, so I de-prioritised flying defence in favour of other things. I won my first game fairly easily as my opponent struggled to get much on the board. But in my second game, I saw where all the flying creatures had gone! My opponent played four flyers one after the other, and I had no way to stop them, and lost that game quickly.

We played a few more games before it got too late to continue. We’ll finish off the round-robin games in later Games Nights. But everyone agreed that the set was fun and interesting, so it was a big hit!

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Unexpected golf

When I got up this morning, I opened some windows… and immediately closed them again. Smoke had descended on Sydney again, from the ongoing bushfires. It wasn’t as bad as it has been, but certainly bad enough to avoid opening any windows and avoid going outdoors if possible.

But then I got a message… A guy from Houston who had posted on a forum asking about golf in Sydney a few weeks ago – and I had responded with some info – had just touched down here at 06:30 , and wanted to hook up for a game. This morning.

I told him I needed to be home by 2:30 pm, so we’d have to tee off no later than about 10 am to give me us time to play and me to get home. A few frantic messages later, we had a 09:44 tee off time booked at Moore Park Golf Club… and I had to leave almost right away to get there in time. Fortunately by the time I got there a storm had moved in and some rain had cleared the sky out a bit, so it wasn’t so smoky by the time we started playing. It rained on us a bit during the first few holes, but then cleared to a muggy overcast.

Moore Park is a longer course than I’ve ever played – it has four par 5 holes, and I’d never played a par 5 hole before. Our visitor was much more at home, and played the course a lot more competently than I did. However, I did manage to par the par 3 fifth hole:

Hole 5, Moore Park

And I scored two single bogeys, on par 3 and 4 holes. So I was happy with that, although my score on several other holes really blew out. Here’s the 17th hole, a par 4 on which I scored 8.

Hole 17, Moore Park

We finished the round in good time, and I made it home a bit before 2pm, so that was good. My wife had an appointment at a nearby hospital and I had to look after Scully. The appointment was a positive one – it was her orientation as a Delta therapy dog owner, prior to her first patient visit with Scully, which is on next Tuesday! While my wife was out, I took Scully to the dog park for a run around and a walk along the shore.

And then this evening we all went for dinner at a Thai restaurant that we like, a short drive away. They have outdoor tables, so we can take Scully. I was really hungry after the golf, and not having time for a proper lunch!

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Golf and Ramen

Missed last night’s update, so I’m writing this on Thursday morning.

On Wednesday my friend Andrew suggested we play a short round of golf at my local course (where we’ve played before). We assembled there at 07:30, and teed off at the first hole. We both hit our first drives handsomely down the fairway, drifting a bit to the right near a clump of trees maybe 120-130 metres away. We chatted as we walked off to locate our balls. We found them:

Tee shot balls, hole 1

Over 100 metres from the tee, and the golf balls were within half a metre of each other! I hit first because I was about 5 cm further from the hole.

As our round continued, it became clear that it wasn’t going to be a good day, for either of us. We both struggled to hit later tee shots, with several dribbling just a few metres and necessitating trying to smash the ball 100 metres or more out of thick grass, or worse, leaf litter and sticks in close proximity to trees. I scored my worst score on this course for 9 holes: 66, my previous worst being 64. Oh well, at least we got out and had some exercise!

We returned to my place and played a few games: Fluttering Souls, Claim 2, and Codenames Duet. Then we headed up the street to get some lunch somewhere.

We didn’t have anywhere in mind, and walked past a tiny Japanese place that I’d seen before, but never gone inside. It had a hand-written sign outside advertising $12 ramen for lunch. That’s cheap for Sydney, so we poked our noses under the hanging cotton banners to have a look and the man behind the counter said, “Would you like some ramen?”

We said, “Sure!” and went in to grab a seat at the small bench.

Ramen Shimizu

The menu was simple. The hand-written sign stuck to the array of roughly a thousand different types of Japanese whisky read: “Lunch Menu: Mon-Wed. Tonkotsu Ramen $12 (this is the only option)”. So we had the tonkotsu ramen.

Tonkotsu Ramen

It was thick and rich and absolutely delicious. This is an absolute steal for $12.

Andrew headed off and I returned home. In the afternoon I dealt with some administrative stuff for ISO Photography standards, as well as trawling AirBnB for accommodation for a short Easter road trip that My wife and I are planning. We’re taking Scully with us, so we needed to find places that allow dogs to stay, which cuts down on the options a bit. We couldn’t even find affordable accommodation in Orange, where we’d planned to spend a couple of nights, so had to reconfigure our itinerary and instead decided to visit Singleton, where I found a suitable place to stay.

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Losing my sunglasses

Scully woke up early this morning, around 5:30, and wanted to go outside, so I had to take her downstairs. I got to see the pre-dawn light suffuse the sky. It’s amazing seeing actual clouds and sky – we’ve been under a smoky haze for so long that it really felt unusual.

Being up so early, I decided to head out early for some golf at the local course. I started well today, but dropped off in the last few holes, scoring 58, one shot worse than my best so far for the 9 hole course. My first tee shot was awesome though – so much so that I took a photo of where my ball landed:

Tee shot landing position, hole 1

When I got back to the car, I realised I’d lost my sunglasses somewhere along the course. I phoned up later and the clubhouse said they had my glasses, so I’ll have to go back and pick them up tomorrow.

At home, I spent some time researching e-commerce solutions for my new photography website. I’m planning to sell framed prints, canvas prints, and other things with some of my photos on them. So having an online shop seems like a good move! I’m thinking of going with WooCommerce, since it’s open source and free to use, as opposed to something like Shopify, which charges a monthly fee plus a percentage of your sales. I don’t expect my volume to be very big, so I want to avoid monthly fees if I can!

This afternoon I got a message from my wife that Scully had been sick at work, vomiting a couple of times, the first being a weird red-brown colour, and had been lethargic all day. We were concerned enough that we booked a visit to the vet this evening. By then Scully had perked up considerably, and the vet was happy with the examination, deciding it most likely wasn’t anything serious, and Scully just had a reaction to something and would recover naturally. She does seem a lot more back to her normal self now, so that’s good.

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Unabridged writing

Early this morning I took to the local golf course to hit a ball around and get some exercise. I felt like I was doing poorly today, mis-hitting a lot of strokes, but I ended up scoring 60 (for 9 holes), which is only 3 worse than my best on that course, so I suppose that’s not too bad.

Back home I dedicated the day to doing some writing. I’m working on starting a series of tabletop roleplaying game supplements, which I hope to offer for sale through DriveThruRPG, to try and turn this time away from a job into some sort of income. I started jotting down ideas about bridges as significant structures in an adventure campaign, and I’ve got a few thousand words of stuff. I think I need a few more days of work to polish it up and format it, and then see about setting up a seller account.

So hopefully in the not too distant future you’ll start seeing RPG titles from me available. I have a whole bunch of other ideas for PDF gaming books as well. The ideas are actually the easy part – the hard part is spending the time to write them up as coherent and useful text!

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Golf at Northbridge

This morning my friend Andrew had organised for us to play golf at Northbridge Golf Club, a new course for me. The course is nestled on a steep slope leading down from a ridge to water level, and there’s a lot of down and up walking to get around the course.

And it has what Andrew tells me is the most famous golf hole in Sydney, the par 3 5th hole:

Hole 5, Northbridge

That’s the view from the tee, down to the green. It’s pretty amazing. I hit my ball a little short, but not too badly, and managed to get a bogey with 4 strokes. Andrew scored par.

We started the round of 18 at 7:30, and finished at 11:00, so it took a fair time – longer than I expected. I spent most of the rest of the day just resting – and doing some stretches for my tired muscles. I didn’t realise just how physical a sport golf is!

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Christmas Eve

I got up early this morning and went to play golf with my friend Andrew, the one who got me started playing golf this year. We’d only played together on the short par 3 “pitch and putt” course where I started learning, but today he came along to the local course near me at Lane Cove, and we played 9 holes. I felt like I was dong poorly, because I didn’t do very well on any hole, but neither did I have any blow-outs like a 10 or 12 which I’ve had previously, and I ended up with a total of 57, 2 strokes better than my previous best at this course. So that was pretty good!

Andrew hit the shot of the day, a gorgeous long, straight drive off the 9th tee… until it hit an overhead power line and bounced off straight down into the turf. That easily cost him 50-100 metres of distance on the shot. My skew-whiff tee shot skimming across the grass ended up going virtually the same distance.

After returning home I relaxed a bit, before my wife and I dropped Scully with our neighbour for dogsitting, while we drove about an hour across Sydney to my aunt & uncle’s place where they were hosting my family’s Christmas dinner. We’ve always done a big family gathering on Christmas Eve, being the German tradition, and it’s convenient because all the people then visit the spouse’s family on Christmas Day. Tonight there were several aunts and uncles and cousins and kids of cousins, and a few friends of the family who aren’t related but just came over because why not?

We caught up and chatted over drinks and pretzels, and then dinner was served and people helped themselves to cold plates of ham, chicken, roast pork, a beef salad, a green salad, a pasta salad, roast potatoes, and the spicy lentil balls that we made yesterday.

After dinner was the giving of gifts. A cousin got dressed up as Santa Claus and handed out all the gifts from under the Christmas tree. The children get most of the gifts as usual. The gifts were then opened and everyone showed off what they got. It’s interesting the contrast between Christmas traditions. In my family it’s always been the case that someone dressed as Santa hands out all the gifts, and people collect a small pile of wrapped presents next to them. Then once they’re all handed out, everyone opens them all simultaneously, and there’s shouting and excitement and people yelling “Thank you!” across the patio as everyone is ripping off wrapping paper. But I’ve been at other family Christmas gatherings, where each gift is handed out, and then the recipient opens it while everybody watches, and then the next gift is handed out, and so on.

After gifts, dessert was served. This is always a highlight because the wife of one of my cousins is a great cook and always makes amazing cakes and treats. This year she’d made a super moist date cake and a batch of reindeer cookies. There were also cheesecakes and whipped cream and custard. After this my wife and I said goodbyes and we came home to retrieve Scully from her playdate with the dog next door. She’s exhausted, as are we!

And tomorrow, Christmas Day, we get to do it all again with my wife’s family!

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Golf and chores

I left home early this morning for a round of golf at the Lane Cove course I’ve played before. I think I’m getting a bit better slowly, but I messed up some long putts today and didn’t score much better. I did at least manage to finish with the same ball I started with, rather than losing several balls like last time, so that’s something!

At one point I caught up to a group of 4 players, and they invited me to tee off with them and play through. Under the pressure of them watching me, I flubbed my tee shot badly, ending up in thick brush about 10 metres left of the tee. One of them joked that he was happy to see a shot worse than his. They helped me look for my ball a minute, before heading off to play their own, leaving me lagging behind again. I did find my ball a couple of minutes later, but had to take a drop to make it playable.

After finishing, I went home and then walked up to the supermarket to get some food supplies. And when I got home I turned to some chores that needed doing. I’ve been putting off calling a plumber for a noisy, vibrating bathroom tap for ages. I thought maybe it needed reseating and asked a friend I know who is much more of a handyman then I am how difficult a job this is, and if he thought I could manage it. He suggested that the vibration I described was more likely caused by the type of valve/washer I’d installed last time I replaced the washer, and to try a traditional flat washer instead. So I did that, changing the washer… and lo… the vibration problem vanished! However, my friend suggested I should probably also get a reseating tool and use that on the tap to ensure no leaking. So I’ll do that another day.

I also did some other general housecleaning, and I emptied the damp collecting tubs in the wardrobes and closets and replaced the absorbing crystals. Normally I have to do this every couple of weeks because Sydney is generally a bit humid, but it’s been so dry lately that it’s been a couple of months since I did it last.

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Golfing

Today’s post is going to be a bit self-indulgent, so I hope that’s okay! I played my postponed round of golf this morning – it was my very first time on a “proper” golf course. All my learning and practice so far has been on the Terry Hills “Pitch and Putt” course that I wrote about a couple of months ago.

This morning I went to Lane Cove Golf Club, which is the nearest golf course to where I live. It’s not a full length course, having only 9 holes with a mix of par 3 and 4. If you play it twice, the 18 holes have a par 64 for the course. But it was still a daunting step up for me, who had never hit a driver before apart from a few times at the driving range last time I played with Andrew.

I started at hole 1, and two other guys appeared behind me, waiting their turn. Under the pressure of them watching, I messed up my tee shot, and so invited them to play ahead of me. They were friendly and agreed to go ahead, and I felt a lot better following them than having someone behind me the whole time.

Here’s the par 3 hole 3, an uphill hole, with my ball waiting to be hit at the bottom:

Hole 3, par 3

I hit my tee shot pretty well! Here’s where it landed:

Hole 3, par 3, tee shot

From here I pitched onto the green, but needed 3 putts to sink it, so I scored a 5. As I approached the green, the guys ahead of me were preparing to tee off on hole 4, adjacent. They asked me how I was going so far, and I said okay. They said, “Wait until you get to this next one!” I looked at it:

Hole 4, par 3

Whoa! Now that probably doesn’t look too hard for an experienced golfer, but to me that wooded gully was very intimidating. I couldn’t get away with a flubbed stroke searing along the grass – I had to hit a nice lofted shot through the air. With the pressure on, I lost two balls into the gully! My third attempt cleared it, thankfully, but rolled back down that hill on the other side, and I had to drop a ball. Oh well – better luck next time.

The 6th hole presented another interesting problem:

Hole 6, par 3

It’s downhill, and pretty short. If you hit too far, you’ll go over the green and into the bush there. So I deliberately tried to hit short. My shot landed on the slope leading down to the green and rolled….

Hole 6, par 3

Right onto the green! Yay!! That was one of my best shots of the day. Unfortunately, it was a very long putt, and I needed 3 putts to sink it, but that got me a bogey, which I’m fairly pleased with. Hole 7, on the other hand, was a disaster:

Hole 7, par 4

My first attempt at teeing off hit the trees on the right. I tried again, and went into the bush on the left. Finally my third shot went down the fairway. But not very far. I ended up taking 12 shots to finish this hole. And here’s the 9th hole:

Hole 9, par 4

I did well on this one. My first shot went down the fairway, and my second shot ended up right next to the green. I pitched once, and putted it in 2, for a total of 5, my second bogey of the day.

I stopped after 9 holes, with a total of 64, exactly twice the par for 9 holes (of 32). I don’t think that’s too bad for my very first go on a “big” course!

Phew! And tonight is fortnightly games night with the guys – I’ll be leaving home soon and queuing this post for automatic posting later tonight.

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