Housecleaning Saturday

You can guess from the title that today wasn’t that exciting. I cleaned the bathroom and the shower stall, and washed the kitchen waste bin, and cleaned up the kitchen. Also cleaned out Scully’s ears with a veterinary ear cleaning solution, and the gave her a bath.

Apart from that, my wife and I went to visit her family this afternoon, just to have a chat and an afternoon tea.

I squeezed in some work constructing new Darths & Droids strips, but that was about it really. Not much more to mention today.

New content today:

Last of the Sydney walk conversions

Saturday… the day I normally clean the house, except I skipped a couple of weeks with my hand out of action. But today I got back into it. The bathroom is now sparkling again.

Went for a walk with Scully, and finished the last outstanding conversion of Imgur album to web page for my Sydney photo walks: Crows Nest shops.

My wife and I have been working through the Roger Moore James Bond films over the past week, and tonight we had to bite the bullet and start watching Moonraker. Oh dear.

New content today:

Plumbing emergency

My plan today was to write some Darths & Droids strips – preferably at least three. I ended up writing zero.

I had some shopping to do – first the weekly groceries. Then I also had to go pick up a game for the current redditgifts board games exchange, which I signed up for. Being such a game player, I couldn’t resist signing up for this one. The nearest game store is a few minutes drive away. I got there a bit before 1:30, but there was a sign on the door saying “back at 2pm”! I guess they’re not getting much business with the COVID restrictions, and decided to actually close up shop for the lunch break. Since I was there, I decided to wander around for half an hour, rather than drive all the way home and have to come back again. So that ate up more time than I expected.

The other thing I wanted to do today was attend to a leaky tap on the bathroom sink. The cold water tap there has been annoying me for years. I have to replace the valve far too frequently, because after just a few weeks the tap starts dripping and needs to be turned off ever harder, until it gets to the point where I can’t turn it off hard enough to prevent it dripping.

I recently bought a tap reseating tool to see if grinding the tap seat down a bit would help, but that didn’t seem to make much difference. And again, just a few weeks after the last time I replaced the valve, it’s been dripping incessantly again. So today I pulled it apart and had a good hard look at it after grinding it a bit with the tap reseating tool.

After a bit of manual grinding, the tool makes the tap seat nice and flat with a shiny new brass surface. This should be ideal for a valve to sit on and cut off the water flow when screwed down by the tap handle. But shining a torch into the tap seat well I could see an odd dark mark on the shiny brass. It was hard to make out, and trying to wipe it away didn’t remove it. I ground the seat a bit more, but the mark was still there. Then it clicked and I realised what it must be. I got a blade and ran it around the flat brass seat… and yes, I could feel what was a crack in the seat.

Cracked tap seat

I took this photo with the help of the torch light. You can see the crack pretty clearly near the top of the shiny brass ring. (And also a lot of the glittering brass flakes that I’d ground away.) Well. This was how the water leak was getting out, even when the tap was screwed down tight with a nice new valve. I’d never noticed it before using the reseating tool because the brass surface was old and dark. It took grinding down to shiny new metal to provide enough contrast to see the crack.

I consulted with a friend who is more of a handyman than I am, and he said I could try grinding further to see if I could remove the crack, otherwise I’d probably need to call in a plumber to replace the whole tap seating assembly – in a job which might require removing the entire bathroom sink and vanity unit. That sounded pretty drastic and expensive, so I gave the grinding a bit more of a go…

It took me some time, and several intermediate checks on progress, but I managed to grind away enough of the brass that the crack is basically gone. I hope. I fitted a new valve and reassembled the tap, and it seems to be working nicely now – shutting off the water completely with relatively little effort. Hopefully it will stay that way and require less maintenance, with the crack not reappearing. If it does, I suppose it will have to be a plumber job next time.

New content today:

The days are blending together

It’s Sunday. My wife says she’s been losing track of the days because she’s been working from home, but I somehow manage to keep the days straight – except today I felt a bit lost and had to think about it.

We didn’t do much, except take Scully on a long walk this morning. Oh that’s right… there was a bit os housecleaning and stuff – cleaning the bathroom, refilling the wardrobe damp absorbers, washing up, etc, etc.

Oh, and I made chilli sauce out of the chillies I picked and chopped three weeks ago! I’d left them to ferment in brine with garlic, but I think I put too much salt in and the lactobacillus never got going, since there were no bubbles like my friend told me to expect. But anyway, I added some vinegar and blended the result, and it turned out looking like a slightly chunky Tabasco sauce, so I guess that’s good. I’ll try it later in the week.

Home made chilli sauce

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:

Clean clean clean

There’s nothing like a shower after a hard day of physical labour.

It began at 03:00 this morning, when Scully awoke with a bout of reverse sneezing. For those who don’t know, this is a thing dogs do sometimes when their nasal passages are irritated. Rather than expel air out like humans do when sneezing, they sometimes go into spasmodic rapid inhalations to clear their passages. She’s been doing this the past three nights.

I realised today that she had a bout of this last year… around this time… and I checked our vet records and discovered it was also in March. At that time we were less experienced dog owners and took her to the vet, who suggested it might be seasonal allergy, and prescribed an anti-inflammatory, and a half tablet of regular human antihistamine tablets daily (they’re fine for dogs!). She settled down after a while, but by then I was awake, and I have trouble falling asleep again once fully awake. So while my wife and Scully went back to sleep, I was pretty much up for the morning.

When they went off to work, I began cleaning the house thoroughly, to get rid of any aggravating dust. I dusted the entire bedroom – including places that hadn’t been dusted for way too long. Then I vacuumed the bedroom plus the whole rest of the house – a thorough and meticulous vacuuming, not the regular quick weekly once-over. By 11:00 I was ready for the next phase: shampooing the carpet.

I went to the hardware store and hired a carpet shampooer, which I’ve done before, so I knew how to use it. I did a full wet clean of the entire house, finishing around 14:00, with a short break to grab a quick lunch. After returning the hired cleaner, I stripped the quilt cover and put the inner quilt out in the sun to air and get some ultraviolet light. It was a hot day today, which helped dry the carpet with the windows open. Hopefully this level of clean will help Scully’s poor nose and she’ll get a better night’s sleep tonight – with the help of half a tablet of Telfast.

At 17:00 I went to pick up my wife and Scully from work, because she had to bring home the entire switchboard(😳) to prepare for working from home next week, due to coronavirus precautions. Her work has been tough this week with staff preparing for this big change, so we were both pretty worn out. We decided to go out to dinner to our favourite local pizza place, to support their business in these trying times. The restaurant was emptier than usual, but not by much – rather than every table occupied it was about two-thirds full.

One thing I realised today was that for most of the world this whole coronavirus thing has been disruptive and scary for a few weeks. But here in Australia we had those horrendous fires over the summer, which really took off in November and just went on and on and on, followed by the terrible flooding which eventually put the fires out. We here in this country have been dealing with non-stop existential economic and societal stress for five months now. We were already worn down in January.

We need a break.

Tonight my wife and I needed to go out and have a nice dinner. People in other parts of the world might not be able to or want to do that at this time. But tonight we needed it.

New content today:

Housework Saturday

Yeah, not that much exciting today. I cleaned the bathroom and vacuumed the house, changed the bedsheets, all that sort of boring but necessary stuff.

I also spent the afternoon writing and making new Darths & Droids strips, for the start of Episode VII. Which I can’t show you because that’d be giving stuff away early.

Tomorrow morning I’m planning to get up early and head out to the beach to do some sunrise photography. I’ve packed my gear into the car already. I’ll get up at 5:30, grab a quick breakfast, and head out. I haven’t done a sunrise session for a while, and have been itching to go do one. This is a good time of year because it’s still warm, and the sunrise is getting later as autumn progresses, but daylight saving hasn’t ended yet, pushing sunrise back an extra hour. So sunrise tomorrow is a relatively late 6:49. With no traffic, I should be at the beach soon after 6 am, in plenty of time.

The only wildcard is the weather. Tomorrow is forecast to be “partly cloudy”, which is the ideal weather for sunrises, but of course it could be overcast, or rainy, or clear at that time, none of which is good. And there’s no way to tell at 5:30 when it’s still pitch black. You just have to go and hope for the best.

New content today:

Busywork

I did a bunch of small odd jobs around the house today. One was drilling some holes to mount a kitchen gadget on the wall of the kitchen. I’ve been putting this off for a while because I hate drilling into brick – it’s really hard without a hammer drill, and I don’t want to buy a hammer drill for a couple of holes. I took my time, letting the drill bit cool down between roughly 30-second drilling sessions. It eventually made holes deep enough and I screwed the gadget to the wall, clearing off some benchtop space that’s been occupied for several weeks.

I did some ISO Standards work on a photography standard that requires reading and commenting on. I did a bunch of configuration for my photography web shop. I did some prep work for my school science visit on Monday.

I went for a walk and saw some more storm damaged trees. Over by the creek not far away from my place, two enormous trees, about 30-40 metres tall, had fallen over.

Storm damaged trees

These were huge trees, but fortunately they fell in the middle of a park, away from any houses or power lines.

Oh, a snippet of chat conversation I had with friends today:

SI: Can they get any genes from the bones or is that just Jurassic Park nonsense?

Me: No, DNA doesn’t survive that long.

SI: Oh even in the movie it was inside a mosquito in amber or something I think?

Me: Yeah. It’d still decay in there. Google says DNA base pair bonds have a half life of 520 years. So after 1000 years you only have a quarter of the genome left. After roughly a million years you only have a handful of intact bonds left – not enough to work with.

DMc: What if the DNA has been travelling at relativistic speeds though?

Me: Well yes, samples extracted from dinosaurs who travelled at 0.9999c to a distant star and back should be fine.

DMc: Cool, my startup idea is still feasible.

New content today:

Long weekend Saturday

I had a bit of a sleep in this morning, and did some housework… and just relaxed a bit. The only real “work” stuff I did was to write a bunch of rerun commentaries for Irregular Webcomic! strips that will be coming up in the rerun rotation soon. So not much else to report.

It’s a long weekend because tomorrow is Australia Day, and part of being Australian is having the Monday off when a public holiday falls on a weekend, so you don’t miss out.

New content today:

Comics and kitchen gadgets

Today was a designated comic writing day, as I started work on the next batch of Irregular Webcomic! Besides that, I jotted down some notes for ideas I had for D&D adventures, and did some ISO photography standards work.

My wife and I went out on an expedition to the hardware store to get a tap reseating tool, which I hope will fix some annoying dripping tap behaviour at home next time I change the washers. I also got some generic brand humidity absorbing crystals (calcium chloride) to keep the moisture absorbers in the closets topped up, especially as our summer turns from hot and dry to hot and humid.

Near the hardware store is a council recycling centre, which accepts waste such as batteries, cables, light bulbs, appliances, and so on. I have a small box which I fill with stuff and take there every so often. I decided to take it along today, knowing that the centre is open on Mondays. But when we got there it was closed, with a tiny piece of paper stuck to the door saying they’re closed over the Christmas/New Year period and won’t open again until 3 January. That was slightly annoying.

And near both is a kitchen supplies shop. I only went into this place recently, and was amazed at all the gadgets and stuff in there, so this time I took my wife and showed her how cool it was. We bought a jar opening thing for unscrewing stubborn jar lids, and some new chopping boards.

Tonight for dinner I made vege fajitas, with onions, carrot, zucchini, cauliflower, mushrooms, and some of our home grown chilli. Turned out well!

New content today: