Surprisingly easy Friday

After yesterday’s horrible headlong crash into COVID-19 vaccination side effects, I managed to get a decent sleep and woke up this morning feeling a lot better. And also much more refreshed than I had any right to be after going to bed at 02:30. I presume the nap attempts I took yesterday helped. I was actually much more alert during last night’s standards meeting than I have been any previous night, as well. So I’m happy to report that the feverish/lethargic reaction to the vaccine has passed almost as quickly as it came on.

Last night’s standards meeting went through a few more technical sessions, on image stabilisation, depth metrology, and high dynamic range and wide colour gamut image encoding.

After I woke up this morning, I had the weekly grocery shop to do. I spent some time working on Darths & Droids, and then had my online ethics class in the afternoon, today with 5 students, which is a new record number. It does mean each student doesn’t get as much time to answer questions and I have to cycle through them, but hopefully they all enjoyed it and got something valuable out of it. The topic today was advertising, and pondering questions of why we have advertising, whether you can trust it, and whether it should be regulated in various ways.

After that, I drove out to Turramurra (a Sydney suburb) with the car full of stock for my market stall, as I am running the stall there on both days of this weekend. The venue is indoors and was available for setting up this evening to save time tomorrow morning. I was happy to take advantage of this since I won’t want to get up early tomorrow after another 02:30 finish for tonight’s ISO meeting!

Then I drove home again and watched the Twitch stream of a guy who was solving puzzles from the 2016 mezzacotta Puzzle Competition that I’d written. And that ended just before tonight’s ISO meeting session, which I’m now in…

New content today:

COVID vaccine effects

Last night was rough. As I said yesterday, I had my first COVID-19 vaccination. I’ve never had any reactions to flu shots before, so I wasn’t expecting much.

As the evening wore on and I prepared for my 23:00 start for the ongoing ISO standards meetings, I began to feel worse. I was very tired, although that could easily have been due to the accumulation of late nights, but I also started feeling a bit feverish. Then a lot feverish. I started shivering during the ISO meeting, quite violently. This was not helped at all by the fact that we’re experiencing unusually cold weather at the moment. I was rugged up with warm clothes, but still felt pretty bad, and I had to struggle through the Zoom meeting in this state.

Finally after the meeting ended at 02:30 I crawled into bed, feeling pretty awful, chilly and shivering. It took me a long time to warm up and fall asleep. Then this morning I had to get up at 07:00 rather than sleeping in, because my wife had a Zoom interview and wanted me to take Scully out so there’d be no interruptions.

I rugged up again and took Scully up the street to a nearby cafe for breakfast. I very rarely go out for breakfast, but when I do I often have eggs benedict, since I’ve never felt like tackling hollandaise sauce at home. So I got that, and it was very good. Although the weather was cold—and more about that in a minute—I felt better and was comfortable with Scully keeping my lap warm as I ate.

I was waiting for my wife to message me that she’d finished her Zoom call and had gone to work, so I could drop Scully at the office with her. But I’d finished eating and was ready to go, and no message. So I decided to see what sweets they had, and the carrot cake looked good. When the waitress came by, I asked, “Can I please have a slice of the carrot (ping!) cake?” The ping was the message from my wife! But now I’d committed to the cake and couldn’t back down. So I sat for another 15 minutes and ate the cake. It was really good, a top notch carrot cake, and I don’t regret it at all.

Today I tried to have a bit of a nap around lunch time, when I had a sudden wave of tiredness. I’m not sure if I really slept, but lying down and closing my eyes for 1.5 hours seemed to help. I also hopped into bed after dinner, at 8pm, to try and sleep a little before tonight’s meeting began at 23:00 again. As I type, the meeting has just begun, and I feel much better than last night. So the COVID vaccine reaction lasted about 24 hours and seems to have subsided fully now.

On to weather. Today was remarkable – it was very cold. The temperature in Sydney rose to only 10.3°C, which was the coldest day for 25 years, and the coldest June day for 122 years. And persistent light rain and wind made it feel even colder. A lot of areas further inland got snow, and there were many images of it as the lead item on the news tonight.

Finally, last night’s photography standards meeting was again interesting, with technical discussion of image noise measurement, camera autofocus performance, and image flare measurement. We also had an update on the issue with China pursuing separate standards via the ITU which I mentioned yesterday. The representative from Apple had had a conversation with Apple’s legal team and reported that standards work is technically open – if interested members of the public want to access meeting records they can, although the process is not necessarily easy. So the US State Department prohibition on US citizens meeting Huawei employees doesn’t apply. Also, there was some other legal advice regarding how ISO can react to other organisations essentially stealing scope. Overall it’s going to be an interesting process to see what happens out of this.

New content today:

Taking it easy… until 2:30 am

Last night I had the second night of Zoom meetings for ISO Photograph standards. We got stuck into the technical sessions. First up was a presentation by some people from JPEG (by which I mean ISO/IEC Joint Technical Committee 1, Subcommittee 29), mostly about the new JPEG XS streaming image file format they are developing. They explained briefly how it worked and the advantages over other streaming image compression methods. They also gave some updates on other things that JPEG are working on. I’m not particularly knowledgeable about image coding formats so didn’t get a whole lot out of it, but some parts were interesting.

Next was discussion of the revision of ISO 12233, a standard for measuring camera lens resolution. This has been being updated for nearly 3 years now, and we’re still not converging on something agreeable to all the technical experts in all countries. We ended up with the project leader deciding to give it one more go and submit a new draft for balloting, to see if we can get it finalised before the looming project deadline. If we can’t get consensus with that, we may have to cancel the project and restart it afresh.

Then we had updates on the adoption of Adobe’s DNG digital negative format as an ISO standard. That seems to be progressing slowly, as it has for a couple of years now.

And finally we had a new liaison proposal letter from the International Telecommunications Union, suggesting a formal liaison with a new group under that organisation who are proposing to standardise material related to (1) automatic white balance, (2) image metadata related to aesthetic qualities, and (3) metadata related to computational photography. This was interesting, because as the ISO committee on photography, these things very likely fall under our scope, and other organisations trying to standardise them pose a danger of proliferating/incompatible standards. And a further issue was that every single person listed on the liaison technical committee leadership was Chinese. The Chinese are known for pursuing their own standardisation goals, including existing cases where China then adopts a commercial standard that other countries don’t use, but which manufacturers in other countries suddenly need to follow if they want to continue doing business in China. So this is quite a delicate situation. It was further complicated by the US delegates pointing out that they are forbidden by the US State Department from conducting closed meetings (i.e. meetings not open to the public) with representatives of Huawei. The proposed liaison could be construed as such a meeting. So we actually have a very tricky situation to deal with. Most people at the meeting last night suggested that the best thing to do was ignore the liaison request, while others suggested a measured response to probe exactly what their intentions are and to point out that their proposals fall within ISO scope, and hint that they should back off. It’ll be interesting to watch this play out.

After the meeting ended, a few minutes late at about 02:40 this morning, I finally went to bed. I couldn’t sleep in too late this morning, as I had my face-to-face ethics class at the local school. I was extremely tired last night, but my body is still in the same time zone, so during the day today I didn’t feel too bad. Tonight at the meeting is going to be difficult though.

After ethics I had a booking for my first COVID-19 vaccination shot. It was very quick and easy, but I had to drive a few suburbs away to a clinic that was doing them. As it was lunchtime, I found a bakery afterwards to grab some lunch, which I reviewed once more for Snot Block & Roll.

This afternoon I considered taking a nap to catch up on sleep, but I’ve never been able to have naps effectively. I just can’t fall asleep during daylight hours. And I didn’t even feel all that tired, so it would have been pretty impossible. So I just relaxed and did some fun things. Let’s see how I go tonight…

New content today:

An errant tonsil

Most of today I spent working on taking photos for a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips.

But this afternoon I had an appointment with an ear, nose, and throat specialist. A while back I noticed a rounded lump on one tonsil. I’ve been through a sequence of antibiotics prescribed by my GP, which didn’t do anything, so he sent me to the specialist. He had a look and then sent me to a CT scan of the neck region. Today he concluded from the scan that the lump most most likely a benign cyst, but he recommended removal so they could biopsy it and to prevent any future complications.

So I’m now booked in for a tonsillectomy in late June. Surgery is never fun, but I was kind of looking forward to having an excuse to eat nothing but ice cream for a week. But the doctor said I could eat anything after the surgery, except spicy-hot foods. Well, dang. He did also say that it would be painful for about a week and I should take it easy and essentially not do work, what with being doped up on painkillers. So it looks like all the bad bits without the ice cream.

Maybe I’ll just eat a lot of ice cream anyway.

New content today:

Unexpected CT scan

I had an appointment this morning to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist about my swollen tonsil. I had a couple of courses of different antibiotics back in February, but they didn’t help, and it took until today to get an appointment with the specialist.

The doctor took a look, sprayed my throat with anaesthetic, and did some poking. Then he suggested I get a CT scan to check whether the swelling is a simple cyst or something more complicated. So he wrote me a referral to a radiology place. It was just two doors down the street, so rather than phone up I just walked in to make an appointment. The receptionist said, “We could do it now.”

So fifteen minutes later I was lying in a CT machine having a scan of my neck. They injected some iodine contrast solution, which is always a fun experience. (If you’ve never had this, it makes you feel a hot flush throughout your body. In particular around the bladder/groin region – so it feels a bit like you’ve wet yourself, even though you haven’t.)

I have a follow-up appointment with the ENT specialist in 3 weeks to see if he recommends a tonsillectomy. He did imply that that was going to be the most likely course of action.

After all that, I decided to treat myself to lunch from the nearby pie shop. And since it was then after lunch and I was near my wife’s office, I picked up Scully and took her home for the afternoon, so we could go to the dog park later.

I made fajitas for dinner. We have some pomegranate left over from the salads I made last week, so we added a spoonful of pomegranate arils when constructing the fajitas, which added a nice zing. Recommended!

New content today:


I’m feeling really exhausted today. I’m not sure why. Maybe it’s the hectic week away last week finally catching up to me. But I woke up this morning and had to struggle to drag myself out of bed. I needed to get up to have breakfast and get ready to go teach my Ethics class. And as I was sitting in the room at the school waiting for the kids to arrive, I just felt drained of energy.

The class went mostly well. I think I have all the kids’ names more or less memorised and matched to faces. I made a couple of mistakes, but correcting those in my mind gives me a full set of matches now, I think. We’ll see next week if I can get them all right. The replacement teacher last week while I was away finished the voting topic with them, so today we started a new topic: Punishment.

This is a long one, we have four weeks on this. It covers the concepts of understanding what punishment is, and whether it’s needed in a society. Today we started with imagining if you had a magic ring of invisibility, and thinking about what you would do, and what other people might do. The kids were all pretty much into the idea that if they had an invisibility ring they would rob banks, and steal stuff, and play pranks on people. So we moved onto the idea that if you can get away with something bad without being punished, would you do it? Or would you still do the “right” thing? Do you think other people would do the right thing if there was no punishment?

And that was basically lesson one of the discussion. Next week we move on to other aspects of the topic. It was a good and lively discussion, but this meant that there was a certain amount of spontaneous chatter that I had to calm down to get attention and focus back on me. We’ll see how it goes next week.

Today I worked more on my planned Ethics course for Outschool. I’m almost at the point of uploading the info and opening the course. Maybe tomorrow.

New content today:

More vision, and a class listing!

I’ve listed my first class on Outschool! Human Vision and Colour Perception. The first date I’ll be offering this class is Monday 1 March (Sydney time – it corresponds to Sunday 28 Feb afternoon in the US).

I’ve aimed this class at students from 12-14 years old. If you have (or know) kids this age who might be interested in learning about how we see and how colour perception works, please feel free to sign up for the class! It’s available to anyone in the world.

I spent this afternoon drawing some more diagrams for the course. I’m very proud of this eyeball:


And here’s the human visual pathway, showing left and right visual fields:

Visual fields

After making these diagrams, I had enough material to finally put together my class promotion image, which is necessary before you can publicly list the class. This was the last step I needed to complete, and so that’s why I got the class up and running today.

This morning I had to go see my doctor again about my tonsils. The course of antibiotics I’ve just completed hasn’t made the swelling go down. He wants to give some stronger antibiotics a chance, so I’m on those for a couple more weeks, then will have to go back for another appointment if the tonsil is still swollen.

After the appointment I took a roundabout long walk home, stopping off to get a snack on the way, and sit by the water while I ate. It’s nice to spend some time out in the fresh air.

New content today:

Tonsil treatment

This morning I saw my doctor about my tonsils. He’s prescribed me a course of antibiotics, which will hopefully get rid of any infection, and reduce the swelling. So we’ll see how that goes over the next week and a bit.

Apart from that, I spent most of the day writing and making Darths & Droids comics.

In my Italian practice I’ve started working on subjunctives again. I did some of this a year or two ago, but didn’t really get on top of it, and I’ve been putting off for ages, but I finally bit the bullet and have started work on them again. I’m finding it easier this time around, I think. Possibly because I’ve absorbed and internalised more of the other grammar, so I don’t have to spend so much mental space thinking about that, and can devote more of the conscious thought to learning the subjunctive cases. Hopefully this time it will start to stick!

New content today:

COVID negative

Good news up front: My COVID result came through overnight, and I’m negative. So… it’s just tonsillitis. The soonest GP appointment I could get after cancelling yesterday’s is on Thursday. I’m going to see how the tonsils go until Thursday and then decide if it’s getting better naturally, or I should actually go in to see the doctor.

After I got the result, I was able to leave home isolation, and I caught a train into the city to hand in my Working With Children Check paperwork. That was pretty quick, and I hopped back into a train to come home right away. I spent only maybe 15 minutes in the city.

I had some errands to run – sending a package at the post office, and picking up my reading glasses with lenses for a new prescription (after an eye test I did back in December). I took Scully with me, to get her out of the house while my wife was working from home this afternoon. I’d never really thought about it before getting a dog, but post offices are perfectly fine with you bringing your dog in, which is still somewhat amazing to me.

Oh, I baked sourdough this morning too! I tried an experiment this time, substituting 10% semolina for some of the bread flour. It turned out nice, with a subtly different flavour and texture. My wife described it as a little bit “nutty”.

Semolina sourdough loaf

New content today:

COVID testing

So, I had an appointment to see my doctor today about my suspected tonsillitis. When I made the appointment online, there was a message on the website saying that if I have any of {fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, loss of sense of taste or smell} you need to phone beforehand to discuss with the practise. Well, given I have s sore throat, probably from tonsillitis, I phoned up. They told me I can’t come in to see the doctor until after I get a COVID test and have a negative result.

So… I had to cancel my appointment and go get a COVID test. We haven’t had any cases in all of Australia for 15 days, except for that one case detected in Western Australia yesterday. The odds of me having COVID are microscopically small, but I went and got tested – my first test of the whole pandemic, since I’ve never had any symptoms before. It’s amazing how much constantly washing your hands and not seeing people can prevent you from getting coughs and colds and that sort of thing.

I walked up to the nearest hospital and went to the COVID clinic. Testing numbers have really dropped off here in recent weeks because of the low number of actual cases. When I got there, there was no queue at all, and I got tested immediately. The nurse asked me questions about symptoms and I said I had a sore throat, which I actually suspected was tonsillitis, but my GP advised me to get COVID tested first. She did the swab, and while looking in my throat said, “Yep, you definitely have tonsillitis.”

I should get my result back in 24 hours. The other thing I was going to do today was go into a Service NSW office to submit my Working With Children application. But the COVID test nixed that, since I’m supposed to self-isolate at home until I get the result. Assuming it’s negative, I’ll have to go do that tomorrow now.

At home I put together some dough for sourdough baking tomorrow. I’m trying substituting 10% semolina for the flour to see what kind of texture that gives to the bread. I’ll let you know.

New content today: