Scorching hot Australia Day

It’s Australia Day, our national public holiday. But as every year, the debate and controversy over the day intensifies. I feel like it’s reached a point where it’s so uncomfortable for so many people that there’s no way the holiday can be saved. For years we’ve had a significant portion of the population campaigning to change the date away from 26 January. This time there’s now a noticeable shift and people calling for the holiday to be abolished altogether. Perhaps replaced with something else, but no ongoing holiday called “Australia Day”, even if it is moved to a different date.

Honestly, the momentum is so high and growing every year, that I truly think it’s just a matter of time. It’s predominantly older, conservative people who want to keep Australia Day as it is. The growing number of young people who have more progressive views on Australia’s colonial history are going to be the majority before too much longer, and it will be inevitable that the holiday is moved or changed or abolished.

I kind of wish it would happen sooner rather than later because the day has just become an uncomfortable thing that happens every year and people argue about it, or don’t want to talk about it. I think it’s really reached the point where our national day has devolved into almost what would be a parodic joke if it wasn’t for the fact that so many people find it genuinely offensive.

Besides the political heat over the day and what it means, it was physically hot. We reached 38.5°C in Sydney, over 40°C in some suburbs. But the temperature dropped 10 degrees in half an hour in mid-afternoon as a southerly wind came in.

My wife had a day off work for the public holiday, but I did my normal 4 online classes. We’re going to take Scully for a longer walk this evening in the cooler air as the sun goes down, and then maybe play some board games later in the evening.

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Boxing Day relaxing

The day after Christmas is usually pretty easy-going. It’s best to avoid anywhere near shopping centres because of the hordes of people seeking the post-Christmas sales. And nothing much else is open because of the Boxing Day public holiday. My wife suggested taking Scully on a long walk around lunch time to Maggio’s, the Italian bakery, but checking online revealed it was closed for the day. Then I checked Cornucopia, which also turned out to be closed. So we decided to just walk around the loop that goes along the harbour shore.

Part way around I checked the weather radar on my phone, and decided we’d better hustle as a big thunderstorm was approaching. We made it home without seeing any rain, and then it turned out that the storm kind of dissipated and passed around us anyway. We’ve been hearing loud thunder for much of the day, but the storm hasn’t really broken here.

Food today was pretty much just leftovers from Christmas lunch. We both had pieces of the lentil and nut loaf that my wife cooked, sliced and fried up in a pan to make them crispy on the outside. And there was both turkey and ham for me.

I baked a sourdough loaf. But the bread loaf tin I normally use was still holding half the nut loaf, so I just baked a round cob loaf on a flat baking tray. It turned out looking pretty good!

And apart from that I spent much of the day watching the Australia v Pakistan cricket match from Melbourne and the start of the Sydney to Hobart yacht race, while making a couple of new Darths & Droids comics.

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Christmas lunch and storms

Christmas Day and Scully was up early to see what Santa brought her! She liked her new toy from her buddy Luna.

Scully's Christmas gift

I had a job: To make the glazed ham. I prepared the ham and then mixed up some orange marmalade with brown sugar and ground cloves. I spread the glaze mix over the ham, and covered it with thin orange slices, held on by toothpicks.

Marmalade glazed ham

Then baked the lot on a low oven for 45 minutes, basting it a couple of times with the juices.

Marmalade glazed ham

It turned out really nice, and everyone who had some at lunch liked it. There was also the traditional turkey, roast vegetables, and other stuff. Followed by Christmas pudding and ice cream. It was all delicious, and even though it’s dinner time now I don’t really feel like eating anything.

Normally Christmas Day is hot and sunny, but today it was mild and the clouds came over just after lunch. Storms were on the way. Parts of New South Wales west of Sydney reported tennis-ball sized hail as severe thunderstorms rolled eastward towards the coast. We left earlier than we usually do, to try to beat the storms home. I didn’t fancy having our car out on the street with giant hailstones falling from the sky. We made it home as the rain started, but so far the bad storms have passed either north or south of us. We’ll see how the evening pans out.

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Christmas Eve lunch with family

It’s Christmas Eve! Scully was super excited when she woke up, because that means it’s only five more sleeps until Christmas!

(counting her various morning and afternoon naps)

Today we had plans for lunch with my mother, brother, and stepfather. We drove up to Gosford, a bit over an hour north of home. The weather forecast was for thunderstorms, and we got some intermittently while driving up on the freeway, and also later during lunch. We met at a pizza place that my mother likes, and sat outside at a table under shelter, so that was fine. The pizzas were pretty good, and we caught up on a lot of things. I don’t see my mother or brother that often, so we had plenty of stories to tell about our trip to Europe.

When we got home we walked up to the supermarket to get some corn chips to make a simple dinner of nachos after the big lunch.

Tomorrow is Christmas Day of course, and we’re heading to my wife’s family for lunch. I need to make the glazed ham in the morning. This year I’m trying an orange marmalade glaze.

The weather is going to be interesting though. The forecast is for severe thunderstorms, with possible hail. I’m really hoping we don’t get hail, because our car will be parked out on the street all day there. I won’t take my traditional after-lunch swim in the harbour, because the water will be murky with the recent rain, which can be dangerous because of bacteria and also increases the risk of sharks.

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December, summer, Christmas season

It’s the 1st of December, the first day of summer, and Christmas is just around the corner. I took Scully out for her morning toilet and found that overnight this had appeared in the lift:

Christmas decorations

And this in the ground floor lobby:

Christmas decorations

Decorations and trees and things are starting to go up all around the neighbourhood too. There’s one house near me that goes completely overboard every year, decorating their front yard like a complete Santa’s workshop, with tons of coloured lights.

This morning I picked up the first big grocery shop since we got home from Italy last week. Quite a big one, as we’d run out of a few things during the week.

And tonight is online board games night. It’s supposed to be in-person, but one of my friends wanted to do a swap with next week because it’s his birthday then and he wants to host a special night at his place. I just spectacularly lost a game of Heat: Pedal to the Metal.

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Kickstarter loot!

1. When Elon Musk took over Twitter and things started going bananas I initiated migration over to Mastodon ( I posted a few times to Twitter to let followers know, and then signed off, but I didn’t delete my account. I kept the Twitteriffic client open on my desktop and checked it every few days to keep up with any news from people I followed.

I checked it today, and discovered that my feed hadn’t updated in three days. I mentioned this to a friend, and he said that Twitter’s third party API had been turned off, so a lot of clients no longer worked any more. Checking the news myself, I found an announcement from the developers that indeed Twitteriffic could no longer access Twitter’s API, so they were discontinuing the app. So… today I shut it down and deleted Twitteriffic. I also decided I may as well delete Twitter from my phone (I rarely ever used it there – I much prefer desktop). So I’m now completely Twitter-free. Although my account still exists – I just can’t be bothered to delete it. And who knows, perhaps it might come in handy for something at some point.

2. Australia Day is on Thursday this week. I wrote about the ongoing and slowly growing controversy surrounding Australia’s national holiday last year and the year before.

Today there was an article on the ABC News site saying that a growing number of people are seeking to completely ignore the public holiday by going to work, rather than taking the day off. It discusses the complications that arise when people want to work on a public holiday, and mentions that increasing numbers of companies are in fact allowing staff to ignore the public holiday and work if they want. However this is not a standard thing that is allowed for in the holiday legislation, so companies are still allowed to say that the company is taking the day off and employees cannot work on the day, even of they want to.

It seems like quite a weird situation. It’s like imagining an American deciding they don’t agree with the principle of Independence Day and seeking to ignore it by going to work on 4 July. As I said in the past two years, this sort of weirdness is going to continue and escalate until we change the date of our national holiday.

3. I completed the week’s topic on medicine with my main ethics classes. Part of it is discussing the incredibly high cost of insulin in the USA, compared to almost every other country on Earth. Today I had one girl in a class say that if she gets diabetes, she’s going to move to Australia!

4. I received a package in the mail today! It was rewards for a Kickstarter that I backed in 2021, for a fantasy roleplaying adventure from Goodman Games, Crypt of the Devil Lich. Here’s all the loot I got: the hardback adventure book in a hard slipcase, bonus extra level, booklets of pregenerated characters, player handouts, and designer notes, plus a couple of posters and a sheet of stickers.

Crypt of the Devil Lich

I chose to get it in rules compatible with D&D 5th edition – the other option was for Dungeon Crawl Classics, which I also own already, but have not actually used to run any games before. Of course I made the choice before the present kerfuffle with D&D and the Open Gaming Licence that everyone is talking about. I might have chosen to get the DCC version today, although really that’s mostly because after running D&D 5th edition several times I’ve actually grown to not like it as much as I did at first.

I find the 5th edition combat system too tactical. I prefer a fast and loose, more abstract style to combat, rather than having players counting map grid squares and calculating ranges down the foot. Thus my decision to use the old 1981-vintage D&D Basic Set rules for the game I’m planning to run with my friends soon. That’s scheduled for Friday 10 February.

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