Dentist redux, and giant kangaroos

I had my return visit with the dentist first thing this morning. He fixed up the chipped filling that he’d noticed on Tuesday. The past few times I’ve had work done, the anaesthetic took a long time to work and he ended up putting a second needle in, but today thankfully it worked pretty quickly and I didn’t need a second needle. Which meant it wore off after only about 4 hours, compared to last time where my mouth was still numb for something like 6 or 7 hours afterwards.

In conversation, I mentioned to my dentist that I was selling photographic prints, and I could get one made for his waiting room if he wanted. He said he was actually thinking of renovating the waiting room, and looked at my photography website on the computer screen, and said he liked Australian landscapes. So if I don’t hear from him soon I’ll follow up and see if I can get one of my prints in his waiting room, with some of my business cards on the desk.

In other photography news, a few days ago the producer of PBS Eons contacted me to ask for permission to use one of my photos in their latest episode. Since these episodes get 0.5 to 2 million views on YouTube, I gave them permission, and the episode came out today. You can watch it on YouTube here, or with the embedded version below:

My photo is the one used to show the drawing of the giant kangaroo Procoptodon goliah, from about 4:42 onwards.

And while on videos, in other news a friend of mine is working on designing original games that will be included in the new VR board game platform Hands on Deck, currently under development. His original game Neapolitan is planned for inclusion in the first release, and can be seen in this video (the first game shown).

New content today:

Dental day

I had a dentist appointment today, for a routine clean and checkup. My previous appointment was just before COVID really hit Australia, so this was my first time going back under the new circumstances. I was struck by the spartan look in the waiting room, and realised it was because all of the magazines that are usually there had been removed, as well as the water pitcher and glasses, the box of tissues and waste bin, and the display stand of brochures about various dental health issues. All that was left were the chairs and an empty coffee table.

I had to answer a short COVID questionnaire, but other than that it was all pretty normal once things got started. There was a new hygienist there today, and I was happy because the previous one, while very nice to talk to, was rather rough with the cleaning tools and always used to hurt my teeth and gums more than any other. The new woman was a lot gentler and the whole cleaning was much less unpleasant than last time. Then the dentist examined my teeth and I mentioned an annoying thing with food getting stuck between two particular teeth lately. He said yes, he could see a hole there, where a prior filling had chipped and part of it had fallen out. He recommended I get it refilled, so on the way out I made another appointment for the filling, this Thursday.

I walked to the dentist via the hardware store first. I needed to pick up a few things, and it’s in the same direction, so it was a good opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. One thing I got is some silicone lubricant, which I’m going to use on our sliding window tracks later this week, when I do the window washing for spring cleaning. I’m sure that’ll be a highlight of this blog… so stay tuned for that one. 🤣

New content today:

Side strain, taking it easy

I think on Sunday when I played golf I slightly pulled a muscle in the left side of my torso. It didn’t bother me much on Monday, but during the night last night I woke up and went to the toilet, then when I came back and had to move Scully from my spot on the bed, I bent over and the muscle really twinged badly. I slept poorly after that, and today got up with a real strain there, very sore and restricting my twisting and bending movement.

I think sleeping on it made it worse, as it got better during the day. I would have gone for a 5k run today, but decided to take it a bit easy. Although I didn’t want to just sit around the house all day, so I did walk up to the oval and then ran just 1 kilometre, to see if I could record a better time than the 1k split on my 5k runs. My best 1k split was 4:59, but today I ran 4:33. It felt like a lot faster pace and I was worn out after the 1k – I definitely wouldn’t have been able to keep that pace up much longer. I might try and mix up between 1k and 5k to improve both my sprinting and my endurance.

And something unusual I found out about today: Moonlight towers. These are urban lighting done by erecting tall towers with bright lights that cast light over large areas – up to several blocks in size. (Rather than multiple dimmer lights on shorter poles, which is now almost universal.)

New content today:

A day in hospital

Admission into hospital for my colonoscopy was scheduled for 7am this morning, so I had to get up at 6, so my wife could drive me there. After she had breakfast, and I took Scully out, since I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink anything. It was very cold out there this morning.

I was checked into the hospital on time at 7:00. I had to prepare and wait around until about 8:30 when they wheeled me in for the procedure and the anaesthetist put a cannula into my arm…. and next thing I knew I was waking up in recovery and the time was 9:15. The doctor told me it went fine, but he’s sent a bit of tissue off for biopsy just to make sure it’s not a problem. My wife picked me up and I was home in time to celebrate being able to eat again by walking up the street to get some pies!

This afternoon I worked on some Darths & Droids scripts.

And had a conversation (online) with friends that basically went like this:

Friend 1: I’m excited about the game show Only Connect coming to SBS Viceland. [It’s a British show that hasn’t been televised in Australia before.]
Friend 2: Why is a game show on a channel called “Viceland”? I assumed it was all crime dramas and stuff like that.
Me: There are other game shows on it. I always assumed the “Vice” referred to TV shows that are “guilty pleasures”.

I turned and asked my wife, “What do you think the Vice in SBS Viceland refers to?” I was thinking she’d support one or other of the aforementioned theories, and then we could do some statistics.

She said, “It’s the second SBS channel. So Vice… second… you know, like Vice-President.”

🤔

So I turned to the trusty Internet and tried to find out what the “Vice” in SBS Viceland means. It turns out it’s none of those theories. Viceland used to be named SBS 2, but was rebranded to Viceland in partnership with the Canadian media company named Vice Media, which originally began in 1994 as a magazine named Voice of Montreal, which aimed at an alternative punk youth audience. The magazine changed owners in 1996, and the new owners renamed it which changed its name to Vice. Although Wikipedia doesn’t say why, I’m guessing because the word is similar to “voice”, but just sounds more edgy.

So, ultimately, SBS Viceland is named that for no good reason whatsoever. It’s almost a shame to learn that.

New content today:

Clear fluids and human rights

Today I’m fasting on clear fluids only, in preparation for tomorrow’s colonoscopy. I’ve been drinking lots of water, as well as some vegetable stock in hot water, and eating lime jelly (i.e. gelatine dessert). From midnight it’s not even water, until after the procedure tomorrow. Fortunately I’m booked in first thing in the morning, so should be able to eat by lunch time.

This morning I had my Ethics class. I managed to go around the students and name them all correctly as I marked off the roll, so that was a good achievement for me. Although truthfully a couple I only got by a process of elimination rather than remembering them explicitly.

We talked today about various human rights, and what life would be like if we didn’t have them, such as the right to medical care, or the right to vote. Generally the kids had good things to say, but the class was a bit disruptive today with lots of kids talking over the top of one another (and me). It was more difficult to get them back under control than it has been, and after the class I had a word with the teacher who normally has that room, and he said he’d chat to the offenders who I named. Hopefully next week will be a bit more smooth.

New content today:

Late Games Night post

It’s Saturday morning already and this is a catch-up post for last night, when it was our fortnightly board games night. Again we played virtually, using Board Game Arena to begin with. I played games of Kingdomino, Downforce, 7 Wonders (several games), and 6 Nimmt, before we moved on to skribbl.io, which is essentially an online version of Pictionary. I didn’t win any of the games – which is pretty usual for me as some of my friends are much more competitive and thus motivated to be a lot more careful with their strategy. I did come second in one game of 7 Wonders, which I’m happy with.

On Friday morning I had a Zoom meeting with Standards Australia for the follow-up to the ISO Photography meeting I had back in June. This is to brief the Australian photography experts on what happened during the (virtual) New York meeting, as well as to deal with some local Australian photography standards business (such as officially adopting recent ISO amendments, etc).

After that I took Scully for a walk to the fish & chips shop, to get myself some fish & chips for lunch. Then I spent the afternoon cleaning the car after last weekend’s road trip. Since it rained heavily, and we had Scully in and out of the car, it was pretty dirty, with mud in various places inside the car, as well as on the exterior. For the first time I actually removed the floor mats and washed them with detergent and hosed them off.

And in other news, a COVID alert was issued for my local supermarket, for anyone who shopped there between 10:30 and 11am on Monday. I shopped there on Monday morning, and I was there around 10:30, although I can’t remember if I’d left before 10:30 or was there for a few minutes afterwards. So it’s possible I was there at the same time as someone who has since tested positive. Official advice is that the risk of transmission is low, and to monitor for symptoms, but not to self-isolate and test immediately. Still, it’s too close to home, and a bit scary.

New content today:

Running improvement

Today I mailed off some original artwork from Planet of Hats to a reader who was keen to buy one of the comics. Thanks to that reader!

At lunch time I forced myself to go do another 5k run, having managed it on the last three Thursdays. This time I started at a bit of a faster pace for a couple of laps before settling into a steady rhythm. I’m still really having to push myself to keep going around the halfway mark and the second half is a real struggle, but I managed to finish and recorded a time of 27:01, 51 seconds faster than last week!

5k run times

I plotted my times for the past 4 weeks on a graph and showed my friends. One of them, who has been doing all sorts of curve fitting to local COVID data lately, analysed the trend and told me that in another 8 months I should be able to run 5 kilometres in zero time. I’m really looking forward to after that point, when if I need some extra time to do things I can go for a run and gain some time back.

Hmm… I just learnt now, as I was typing this, that a COVID positive person visited my local supermarket on Monday, between 10:30 and 11am, and an alert has been issued for anyone shopping there during this time to monitor for symptoms. I went shopping there on Monday morning – although I’m pretty sure I’d left by 10:30. Yikes! They’re saying the risk is low – they have not issued a “self-isolate and get tested” order.

New content today:

Un-catching up on sleep

I was hoping for another good night’s sleep last night.

On the weekend I bought a small bottle of chocolate liqueur, to flavour interesting cocktails. I decided to try it last night, duplicating a drink that my wife had a while back at a restaurant, called a “winter negroni”. It’s a standard negroni (equal parts gin, Campari, and red vermouth), with a splash of chocolate liqueur, to give it a chocolate-orange flavour. My wife liked it, and so I thought it would be a good drink to try mixing at home. So last night I had one, and it was indeed delicious.

I went to bed a few hours later. I could not fall asleep. I laid there in bed, unable to switch off my mind, and tossed and turned… all night. Until the sun came up. I did not get a single minute’s sleep. I was trying to figure out why, and went through everything I ate and drank, and there was nothing out of the ordinary… except that chocolate liqueur. And I realised that it probably has some caffeine in it. That would explain it.

I gave up caffeine about 25 years ago. I used to enjoy black tea, and Coca-Cola, but I realised through struggling with disrupted sleep that any caffeine after about 10am would result in me being unable to fall asleep that night. So at one point I decided it wasn’t worth it any more and just quit completely.

Not having had caffeinated drinks for so long, I think I’ve become more sensitive to it. I’ve cut way back on chocolate as well, because some years ago I noticed a strong correlation between eating chocolate in the afternoon and sleeping poorly at night. I love chocolate, but I basically only have it in the mornings now, and much much less than I used to eat.

Over the years, I’ve occasionally accidentally eaten something with caffeine in it, and suffered a restless night. I think that’s what happened last night. I had a yummy chocolate flavoured drink, and lost an entire night’s sleep. So… I guess that’s no more chocolate negronis for me. At least my wife can drink them.

In other news, today I took Scully for a morning play and exercise in the park across the road. At one point she got interested in something in the grass, and I walked over to see what it was. She was sniffing… a huge piece of steak! I gave her the “Leave it!” command and she obediently turned away from it. Thank goodness for training her with that command. I got a poo bag and picked up the meat. It was about the size of a coaster, and a centimetre or two thick – a good cut of meat, like you’d cook for dinner.

Now… A chunk of steak is not the sort of thing that somebody accidentally and innocently drops in a grassy park where dogs hang out. There have been several incidents of people in Sydney laying poisoned baits for dogs over the past few years, with several dogs killed. So I took this suspicious chunk of meat home and called the local council to report it. I asked if they wanted me to bring the meat in for testing. They said as it’s so far an isolated incident, that I should just dispose of the meat, but if I see any more, to report it again and they will launch an investigation.

I contacted my apartment block owners’ corporation and they’re going to notify all residents with dogs. I also posted a warning on a local social media site. And I went back to the park later in the day (without Scully) to look around to see if I could find any more chunks of meat – I didn’t find any.

Anyway, on top of a no-sleep night, that was a pretty crummy day.

New content today:

Improving my handicap

This morning I played golf for the first time since injuring my hand. I met a friend for a round at the “par 3 pitch and putt” course we’ve played several times. Last time we played match play with me having a relative handicap of 17, and I won, so this time we reduced my handicap to 16. It was a tight contest, and my friend could have tied the round and forced us into a play-off hole by winning the 18th, but we halved the hole, and so I ended up on slightly more points, winning again. Next time we’ll reduce my handicap another stroke to 15.

My putting wasn’t great, but I made up for it with some good tee shots. One tee shot landed on the green and rolled gently past the hole, maybe 10 centimetres away, although it didn’t stop until a couple of metres past the hole – but it had been darn close to going in.

And the good news is that my left hand held up well. I was able to play all the strokes with as much strength as I wanted, without any problem or pain.

Tonight I have to stay up until 2am, because I have an online meeting for ISO photography standards. This meeting was scheduled for New York City this week, but obviously with the COVID-19 situation I’m not able to travel there, nor are most of the other delegates. ISO is holding all meetings virtually at the moment, currently until at least the end of September. Which means it affects our next meeting as well, which was scheduled for Tampere in Finland in September. The meeting after that I am actually supposed to be hosting right here in Sydney, in February, but it remains to be seen whether that will go ahead face-to-face or virtually.

Anyway, because this week’s meeting is notionally hosted in New York City, the agenda schedule is on New York time. Normally it would be 9-5, which corresponds to 11pm to 7am for me – just about maximally awful. Especially given I am not in any way a night owl – I work best in the morning and start getting too tired to do much of anything by about 9pm. But fortunately the organiser decided that the meetings could be compressed into 9-12 New York time, meaning 11pm to 2am for me. Which is better (both for me and the numerous Japanese delegates), but it means we have to extend into an extra day, so I have these hours Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday, and Friday night (normally the meeting would go over just three days).

So… honestly I’m not looking forward to having to concentrate on highly technical content in an online meeting lasting until 2am, four nights in a row. But I’m just going to have to knuckle down and power through it, and hopefully catch up on sleep on the weekend.

New content today:

Getting back to normal

Yesterday I tested my hand with driving by taking Scully to the dog park, with my wife in the passenger seat in case I decided I couldn’t continue with my injured hand and she had to take over. But it was okay, just a tiny bit sore.

So today I drove out by myself to the supermarket to do a weekly shopping. My wife’s been doing small grocery shops a few times a week while I’ve been incapacitated, and we figure with COVID still possibly out there it’s good to restrict it back down to one big weekly shop. I managed fine, although I tried not to carry the heaviest bags of stuff in my recovering hand.

Also today I modified the bicycle light that I’d bought to attach to Scully during night time walks. I put about 5 layers of masking tape over it, but the lights still shone through pretty brightly. So I peeled that off and used two layers of grey electrical insulation tape. Even through two layers of that, you could see the lights, but they were suitably dimmed. So we tried it out tonight went we walked up the street for dinner at a local Greek restaurant. It worked really well! You could see Scully nicely, even in the darkest shadows on dark streets.

And I completed the second last conversion of Imgur album to web page for another of my Sydney walking photo essays: The Coal Loader and Balls Head.

New content today: