Sliced

Well. I was planning to write about yet another day spent trawling through footage from The Force Awakens and writing Darths & Droids story planning notes. But around 5pm I started preparing dinner. For the dish I was planning, I needed to cut the core stem out of a whole cauliflower. I used one of my brand new super-sharp kitchen knives…

My hand slipped and the knife sunk deep into my left hand, into the fleshy area between the thumb and forefinger. It immediately started bleeding profusely, and I knew I’d need to get stitches as I could see the size of the wound. My wife had gone outside a while ago to walk Scully, so I was home alone. With one good hand, I rinsed the wound, but it kept bleeding copiously, so I grabbed a tea towel and wrapped it tight to try to stop the bleeding, then went next door to our neighbours and knocked on the door, said I needed to get to the hospital and asked them to contact my wife. One of them drove me to the hospital right away, while his wife phoned my wife to let her know what was happening.

I was triaged in emergency right away and the triage nurse applied a quick bandage to stop the ongoing bleeding. I was taken to the treatment area, where after a bit of a wait a doctor examined my hand. She said the wound was deep enough that she wanted to consult with a hand specialist. She used a lot of saline and antiseptic to rinse it out – very quickly, because it was still oozing copious blood – then she bandaged it up again.

After another wait she said they were scheduling surgery for me, so a surgeon could check the wound and see if there were any severed tendons or nerves or blood vessels that might require microsurgery, and clean it out properly before stitching it up. Then after some more waiting she came back and told me that the surgery is scheduled for 7:30am tomorrow, so in the meantime she would pack the wound and bandage it up to try to stop the bleeding, and then put my forearm and hand in a cast to keep it still overnight, and then I could go home, to return in the morning. She also gave me an IV of antibiotics.

Meanwhile my wife had arrived during all this, and just after 9pm we left and she drove me home. So, I’m now here, left arm in plaster, typing one-handed, trying to chill out enough to go to sleep soon after the adrenaline of the evening. And I have surgery to look forward to in the morning.

New content today:

Working from home means less work

My wife had a hard morning, with her work-from-home setup having technical issues for several hours, resulting in a lot of frustration and lost time, which spilled over to me not being able to concentrate on much. I worked on some more Darths & Droids comics, but didn’t get as much done as I would have hoped.

I took Scully for a walk. While letting her run up and down the grassy area across the street, one of our neighbours walked past, and we had a semi-shouted conversation from several metres apart. He said he’d gone down to the golf course this morning, only to find a big “closed” sign there. All golf courses across Australia have been closed from midnight last night, as part of the country’s coronavirus suppression strategy.

The restrictions put in place here are pretty limiting. It’s basically nobody is allowed to leave their home except for (1) buying essential supplies, (2) medical or safety reasons, (3) to go to work if unable to work from home, and (4) for exercise. And a few other sensible things like children visiting separated parents which don’t apply to me. And there are severe penalties for violators – fines up to $11,000 and up to 6 months in prison. Police have been patrolling areas such as beaches and have been handing out (lesser level) fines to several people today. So this is not an order to be messed with for frivolous reasons.

So I’ve been getting out for walks around the neighbourhood for exercise, both for me and Scully. But apart from that it’s been confinement, and will continue to be for the foreseeable future.

New content today:

Working from home

My wife started working from home today, as part of Sydney’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means both her and Scully are home during the working week (since she normally takes Scully to the office with her – Scully is much loved as the office dog), when I’m normally here by myself. It’s a bit of a change, but it wasn’t too bad. We mostly kind of ignored each other as we went about our business, so as not to disturb one another.

At one point I went for a walk to get out and stretch my legs in the sunshine. I walked over to the suburb of Greenwich, where I spotted this cool home-made climbing tree for kids.

Suburban play gear

I walked down to the water, at Bay Street Wharf:

Greenwich wharf

And across to the adjacent Bayview Park, where someone has their seaplane berthed:

Bayview dinghies

And here’s a view of the park, looking down to the water. Pretty nice!

Bayview Park

Apart from the walk, I mostly worked on Darths & Droids comics today – coming up with strip titles and editing HTML code and stuff. In between keeping up to date with all the massive changes around here to deal with COVID-19.

New content today:

Darths & Droids: Episode VII

Today’s the big day! After a considerable delay, the first comic strip of Darths & Droids‘ treatment of Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens begins! We’ve been working towards this for literally years now, so it’s good to get it underway.

But that comic strip was produced a couple of weeks ago. Today mostly I did two things: house cleaning, and keeping up with the multiple press conferences by the Australian Prime Minister and New South Wales Premier on updates regarding the COVID-19 outbreak. Firstly, though, I got a nice sleep in as Scully slept through the night without any sneezing waking us us. So that was good – I needed that sleep.

I cleaned the garage a bit, to make room for all of my market stall equipment: stock of greeting cards, large mounted prints, a couple of easels for displaying prints, and various miscellaneous gear such as receipt books, string, display stands, crates, and so on. I figured with no more market stalls for the foreseeable future, there’s no need to keep all this stuff handy, and I could pack it away for a while to clear up some room in the house. I cleared away a bunch of other clutter as well, and also washed down the balcony, allowing me and my wife to eat dinner outside tonight.

In news terms, it’s been a big day here in Australia, with the most drastic measures now being announced for shutting down businesses and movements of people to attempt to limit the spread of coronavirus. Basically all non-essential services are shut down from midday tomorrow, including: pubs, clubs, gyms, cinemas, theatres, church services – and restaurants and cafes are restricted to take-away service only. Schools however remain open, which is attracting growing criticism from pretty much everywhere. It’s going to be a long and interesting week.

New content today:

COVID cancellations

A while ago I’d booked a trip away over Easter, planning to do a road trip with my wife and Scully. We found a motel with a pet-friendly room at Mudgee, one of our favourite country town destinations, and a suitable AirBnB in another town making a nice loop from Sydney, with a couple of nights in each place. I also booked a couple of our favourite restaurants in Mudgee. We’ve been looking forward to this trip for a while.

But with the coronavirus situation in Australia getting progressively more serious by the day, and the very real possibility of travel restrictions being imposed, as well as the thought of possibly spreading the disease even if travel is not restricted, we’re reconsidering our plans. We decided to cancel the AirBnB today, but leave the Mudgee accommodation for the time being. Realistically I think it’s unlikely we’ll be able to go, so at some point that will probably have to be cancelled too, as well as the restaurant reservations.

It’s a shame because besides having a trip ourselves, I really wanted to help the rural communities by visiting and spending some money there. The good news is that AirBnB announced just today that they’d be refunding all prepaid bookings, including the normally non-refundable fees, and they’d also not be charging the hosts for cancelled bookings (which normally they’d do, apparently). So at least both we and our cancelled host haven’t lost anything because of this cancellation.

Other than that, today I took a longish walk to a nearby suburb in search of some prebaked pizza bases, which we use to make pizzas for dinner at home. I tried to buy some the other day in my local supermarket, but they’d sold out, so I decided to try elsewhere today, and get a bit of extra exercise while at it. I found them, and enjoyed the time out in the warm autumn day.

At home today I mostly worked on writing some more Darths & Droids comics.

New content today:

Ethical dilemma

Primary Ethics has decided that ethics classes will cease from next week due to coronavirus concerns. They’ve left this week’s classes up to each individual school ethics coordinator. Mine has said that classes will run tomorrow.

However, I’ve decided that I won’t be going into the school to take my class tomorrow. I think the risks are low at this time, but still, I really don’t want to get sick a day later and realise that I may have exposed a classroom full of kids to the virus. I’ll miss the class, because even after just three weeks I’m keen to see the kids again and lead them through more of the ethics curriculum. But it’s because of that that I can’t bear to put any of them at greater risk.

Today I tended to a few odd tasks, finishing off writing annotations for the last batch of Irregular Webcomic, and queueing up a bunch of iToons submissions. And I picked up Scully from my wife’s work at lunchtime and looked after her all afternoon, including taking her to the dog park. The regulars there are still showing up each day, but noticeably keeping more distant than normal, and discussing virus-related stuff. It’s good to be out in the fresh air though.

New content today:

COVID effects

Australia reached 200 confirmed cases of COVID-19 today, and the precautions and responses have begun to affect me. Firstly, this morning I received email from the organisers of That Great Market, where I was to have me second stall tomorrow, selling my photography prints. They have decided to cancel the market, citing both the virus precautions and also forecast bad weather, with wind and rain that would make the outdoors stalls tricky.

A knock-on effect of this is that I had booked a car hire to transport my goods to the stall (since my own car isn’t large enough). So I had to cancel the car hire, less than 24 hours before pick-up. According to the hire terms, that means zero refund – I still pay the full rental amount. So rather than making some money at the market stall to cover costs and make some profit, I’ve now had an expense with no chance to recover the outlay. The market stall booking fee is being rolled over to a later market, although honestly I can’t see next month’s one going ahead either at this point.

Next, I decided I should cancel Monday’s visit to Brookvale school. I should have gone to talk to kids about science, and run the Science Club, but for the safety of both myself and all the kids in the school I decided it’s probably better not to go ahead.

That meant I didn’t need to spend today preparing for the visit, and I used to time to finish off making the last batch of Irregular Webcomic strips that I photographed on Monday. I still need to write all the annotations, which I’ll do over the next couple of days.

For dinner tonight my wife and I went (with Scully) to a new pizza place we hadn’t tried before, 10 minutes drive from home. It’s a small place in a tiny cluster of shops surrounded by houses, and it was bustling with local business. It was good, and inexpensive, and the owner came out to have a chat with us as we ate. Our sort of place! We’ll definitely go back again.

New content today:

Ethics and rain

Rain came in overnight, and it was still heavy this morning. We’re still at a point where when the weather person on the nightly news says it’ll rain, the main newsreader replies, “Good news!” SO although it was pretty heavy, it was most welcome.

It meant I had to drive to my Ethics class though, instead of walking like I usually do. I mean, I could have walked, but I would have been pretty wet by the time I got there and that wouldn’t have been fun.

Because of last week’s Year 6 camp, this was only the second week of lessons I’ve had with this class, and I was still busy learning the names of the kids. I think after today I have about half of them memorised and matched to faces. I remember the distinctive individuals first, and end up struggling with the last few who look somewhat similar.

The syllabus repeats every two years, so I’m now teaching the same material I did in 2018 (to kids who haven’t done it yet). Years 5 and 6 get the same material, so Year 5 classes are also learning the same stuff this year, and both years get the odd-year syllabus next year. I think this class might be a little more challenging behaviour-wise than last year’s students. There are a few boys who are chatty when they should be listening.

One of the girls looked rather sick, with what looked like a pretty severe cold. I asked her a couple of times if she was okay, and she insisted she was. But honestly if I was a parent and my kid looked like that before school, there’s no way I’d send them in. After class I informed the front office and asked them to notify her regular class teacher and keep an eye on her for the rest of the day.

Before heading home I popped into the supermarket near the school to get milk and bread. I was amazed to see that several items had sold out or were close to – a result of the near-panic levels of buying that people here in Sydney are doing to stockpile supplies in case the COVID-19 coronavirus gets to a point where people need to start staying home for weeks at a time.

Panic buy: toilet paper

Toilet paper seems to be the number one item that people want, for some reason I can’t quite fathom. Paper towels and tissues were also completely sold out.

Panic buy: rice

Rice makes more sense at least – at least it’s edible.

Panic buy: long life milk

Long-life milk. There was a little bit of skim milk and goat’s milk left.

Panic buy: canned vegetables

Canned vegetables.

Panic buy: flour

Flour. There’s mostly just a bit of bread-making flour left. I guess most people don’t bake bread at home. Although maybe they should consider it.

Panic buy: bottled water

Bottled water I don’t understand. There isn’t going to be a disruption to the water supply. Some people seem to be preparing for nuclear war or something.

Panic buy: eggs

Most puzzling: eggs. Who’s coming in and buying 8 cartons of eggs today, thinking they’ll last for two or three months???

It’s interesting because there aren’t any actual shortages of any of these items. All these shelves will be restocked overnight, and will keep being restocked for the foreseeable future. At some point people will realise they have a spare room full of toilet paper and rice, and there’s still plenty of both on the supermarket shelves. They don’t need to hoard tons of the stuff – they just need enough supplies to last a couple of weeks of self-isolation if they get the virus.

Interesting times…

New content today:

Coronavirus spooking

Not much to report today. I worked on some comics. And I did some shopping.

The ongoing coronavirus outbreaks around the world seem to have spooked the Australian public. Since the weekend there have been increasing reports of people panic buying various items to stockpile. Health authorities here have been suggesting that it would be prudent to add a couple of cans of vegetables and a maybe an extra bag of flour or pasta or something to the weekly grocery shopping, but not to go overboard.

Today some of my friends reported that at their local supermarkets, there were no supplies at all of toilet paper, long-life milk, rice, hand sanitising gel, and a few other products. In Sydney face masks have been in very low supply for a couple of months already, because so many people bought supplies of those during the bushfire emergency when the smoke pollution was out of hand – so there’s none of those to be had anywhere.

I figured a little prudent stocking up would be sensible and went to my local supermarket today. The only signs I saw were that roughly half the toilet paper and half the rice shelves were empty, but I still easily managed to get a bit of each. But things are distributed unevenly across the city.

I also heard from a neighbour that in another suburb he’d seen people standing by the side of the road selling rolls of toilet paper at inflated prices. So someone’s trying to profiteer from this. It’s crazy that this sort of thing is happening in a first world country like Australia.

What also staggers me is the fact that of all things toilet paper seems to be the thing that everyone wants to buy enormous quantities of. I would have thought, you know, food would be more important in a survival situation.

New content today: