Housework and running

Today was a day of housework. I vacuumed everywhere, cleaned the bathroom, washed the shower stall, baked some bread. And I took advantage of the sunny morning (no rain!!) to go for a 2.5k run for the first time since straining my back almost a week ago. It’s still a tiny bit sore, but 95% okay, and the physiotherapist said I should rest up for a few days but once it’s close to normal going for a run will be fine.

We all went for a big walk today, to the Italian bakery. This is the longest regular walk we do, almost 6 km round trip. A few other destinations are close to the 5 km mark. Today the bakery had the banana caramel croissants that I got once as a special item and really liked, so I grabbed another one. They are really really good.

And this evening I had two more ethics classes, and a science class with the girl who has been doing these long-term. Today I went through the immune system with her, explaining how our various blood cells fight diseases and produce immune reactions, and how vaccines work.

New content today:

Back pain

The bad news today is that I threw my back out. I’m limping around the house with a painful lower back strain, and hoping it will heal up over the next couple of days.

The stupidest things can set this sort of thing off. I decided today was a house cleaning day and started with vacuuming all the floors. Then I used to dust attachment to dust off the furniture and bookcases and stuff.

I found some more spots of mould that have been caused by the relentless high humidity here in Sydney, around some of the window frames and on some of the wooden furniture. So I attacked all those with mould killer. I checked out a closed cupboard area where I was storing some Magic: the Gathering cards to check if there was any mould in three. Thankfully it looked clean. But I decided to take a quick trip to the hardware store to buy some damp remover crystals to put in there to keep the humidity low.

I took Scully in the car for some time outside, and drove over to the hardware store. They let you take dogs inside, so it’s a good trip to do with her. Unfortunately, they were completely sold out of all the damp removal stuff – the basic tubs and the refills of the absorbent crystals. It seems everyone is Sydney is having damp/mould problems at the moment and they just can’t keep stock on shelves.

I walked with Scully back to the car park and thought we’d walk over next door to the home centre – a complex that has various furniture stores, bed and bathroom stuff, lighting, whitegoods, and so on. There’s a place there that sells storage containers, and I thought they might have some damp absorbers. But Scully was reluctant to walk that way and wanted to go back to the car, so I bent over to pick her up and carry her… and bam! My back tweaked and I knew I was in trouble.

It got sore so fast that I abandoned plans to go to the home centre and went straight back to the car with Scully. It took some effort to get into the car. I drove home, and tried to climb back out, and by now my back was really painful. I laid down on the floor to take pressure off it, and that helped a lot.

But when I tried to get back up again, I just couldn’t it hurt too much. Every way I tried to bend to get up from a prone position and stand up failed because I couldn’t bear the pain. I ended up lying on the floor for something over an hour while my wife fussed over me and asked if she could help. She got me some pain tablets, and ran to the pharmacy to get some topical gel for muscle strains.

Eventually I just had to grit my teeth and push myself up off the floor as suddenly as I could, to try to get into at least a kneeling position before the pain made me collapse back down again. I managed this, but boy did it hurt. Once kneeling, I managed to stand up and walk around, and that felt better. That was about 6 hours ago now, and I’m managing to stand and sit okay. It hurts, but it’s not excruciating like when I was on the floor.

I’ve had this happen a couple of times before, and seen a physiotherapist to fix it up. I know what stretches I need to do to help it get better, which help when I get milder back pain. It’ll probably stiffen up overnight, so I’ll see how it is tomorrow morning, and will try to get a physio appointment. It tends to stiffen up overnight, and then ease during the day as I move around.

Anyway. That was my day.

New content today:

Kitchen cleaning

Today was a beautiful day – I think the last gasp of summer. We’ve had four days in a row with no rain. That hasn’t happened since mid-February, over two months ago. And the temperature got warmer over those days, reaching 29.2°C today.

However, I say it’s the last gasp, because a storm is closing in tonight and the next seven days are forecast to be cooler and rainy every day. EDIT: I realised with the storm about to hit here any second, today won’t be a rainless day, meaning we’ve only had three days in a row of no rain.

incoming storm radar image

More housework today. I cleaned off all the kitchen counters of all the clutter (breakfast cereal, chopping boards, pasta containers, knife block, toaster, kettle, bottle of wine, hand-held vacuum cleaner, microwave oven, placemats, water filter jug, box of chocolates, dog treat containers, phone chargers, paper recycling bag, etc, etc, etc…) and cleaned it all of crumbs and dust. I scrubbed the cooktop clean, wiped the splashback tiles, cleaned the rangehood, and wiped clean all the vertical surfaces – cupboard doors and the oven. And then cleaned the floor.

I’ve been meaning to do this job for too long, and am glad I finally got it done today.

I took Scully for a couple of walks, including one to the mailbox to post a greeting card to someone who bought one on my Etsy shop. And worked on some comics and some secret project.

New content today:

Wardrobe cleaning

Today I worked on some comics, and also did some housecleaning with my wife. We pulled everything out of the top shelf of the wardrobes in the bedroom and went through it all, dusting things off, checking there was no mould (there wasn’t), and deciding what could be thrown away and what needed to be kept. This freed up some space to put away some other things. So the wardrobe is just as stuffed, but now we’ve put away some of the other stuff that had been cluttering up other areas.

Unfortunately I pulled a muscle in my back, and it’s a bit sore now. Not terrible, and I’ve done some stretching exercises to hopefully alleviate anything bad, but we’ll see how it feels tomorrow after a night of sleep.

New content today:

Proofreading and cleaning

Saturday is traditionally a day of rest for most people, but I was hard at work today, proofreading that academic paper. I wanted to get through it sooner rather than later, and give myself enough time this weekend to do some other things I want to get done. It turned out to be easier than the first paper I edited a while back, because I’m familiar with the subject material now, so it went quicker. Which is good!

I cleaned the bathroom and shower today, and my wife has been running loads of laundry all day to clean towels, and clothes, and Scully’s dog towels. I also took some product photos for my wife of a batch of the bangles she’s been working on for her Etsy shop. And took Scully for a couple of walks.

Tonight we went out to the Thai place that we like. It’s 15 minutes drive away, but it has outdoor seating for us and Scully, and the food was really good. Except now they’ve changed ownership and name, and honestly the food was not as good as it used to be. This is the fourth Thai restaurant near us that that we’ve really liked which has now closed down. There are still several others around, but none of them what we’d really consider excellent quality any more.

New content today:

Houseworky Saturday

After putting it off for a bit too long, I decided the house really needed a clean today. I vacuumed the floors and cleaned the bathroom and shower, and tidied up a few things generally.

My wife went for a walk to the fortnightly local growers’ market and brought home some zucchini flowers. So I planned a dinner to use them while they’re fresh from the grower. I made pasta with a sort of carbonara-inspired sauce, but using the zucchini flowers and no meat. It turned out very nice, but could have used some explosive hits of salt from something like bacon/pancetta. I think next time I’ll try adding some capers.

I worked a bit on Outschool stuff, liaising with parents to schedule new classes and to reschedule existing ones to fit new constraints. I also scheduled two new instances of my course on creative thinking and game design, to start in the week of 6 February. If anyone reading this has kids aged 11-14, check it out!

This afternoon I watched England turn the fifth Ashes Test into yet another debacle in Hobart. Dear oh dear… I hope they can rebuild the team and be a bit more competitive next time.

New content today:

New Year’s Eve – end of 2021

I don’t really do end of year retrospectives, so let’s just cut to the chase and see what I did today.

I got up early and headed straight to the supermarket. I managed to book the earliest available timeslot for grocery pickup, which I took because I figures the earlier in the morning I’m there, the fewer potentially COVID-infected people will be around. I grabbed my order and was out of there within about a minute. I also popped into the bakery and grabbed a loaf of Vienna style bread for a special dinner for tonight.

After getting home, I went for my run, and then after that I finally had breakfast. This is very unusual – I normally have breakfast within a few minutes of getting up, so I’m not used to waiting any length of time before eating in the morning.

Continuing from yesterday’s window cleaning, I did more spring cleaning stuff. First I attended to the balcony door and glass panels. I took the sliding insect screen door off the track and washed it clean, then cleaned all of the glass door panels. After remounting the screen door, I continued washing the balcony, which is really a job I should do more often as it collects blown leaves and dust quite quickly.

Inside, I decided to clean out some wardrobe space which has been dedicated to keeping boxes from products such as our cameras, iPads, phones, and laptops. I kept the boxes in case we ever sold the items, but given that we’ve sold exactly zero in 20-odd years, I figure maybe it was time to just get rid of them and reclaim the storage space for something useful.

I took Scully for a walk over lunch while my wife went to the gym. We went over to the fish and chip shop where I got some fish & chips for lunch. I ate at my favourite local lookout spot, with a view over the city. it was a warm sunny day, with not a cloud in the sky. Fortunately, after some vandal poisoned the shade trees at the lookout spot a few years back, one new tree has grown to provide shade on the bench where I sit again.

Back home, I realised there was something I needed to do by the end of the month! The Outschool Dungeons & Dragons group that I run for kids has a monthly adventure writing challenge, and for December I posted a challenge to write an adventure featuring a spooky lighthouse. I said I’d post my own adventure at the end of the month, so now I had to write one. I knuckled down and typed out 100 words of adventure material in a few hours, which I then formatted with some of my own photos as illustrations and exported to PDF, before posting it to the group. Phew!

For dinner tonight, New Year’s Eve, we have something special. For starters I used the figs I bought the other day to make grilled figs with ricotta and honey:

Grilled figs with ricotta and honey

After that was the main course, baked brie in bread with hazelnuts and honey:

Baked brie in bread with hazelnuts and honey

Just look at that melty cheese!

Baked brie in bread with hazelnuts and honey

That’s the way to put back in all those calories burnt doing exercise and housework today!

It’s now still a few hours before midnight and 2022. I hope you all have a good New Year’s Eve, and that 2022 brings us all some relief from this miserable pandemic thing.

New content today:

New Year’s Eve eve

I spent much of today wrangling Matlab with various datasets, writing code and extracting statistics. I’m working on developing student exercises for the Data Engineering course at the University of Technology, Sydney, for the next semester (as I’ve mentioned a few times before). I ran into some issues with the datasets that I’m using, and need to figure out how to deal with them. Some of the numerical data is aggregated across multiple entries and needs to be divided according to an indexing variable… eh, it’s a bit complicated, and I still haven’t figured out what to do with it.

A couple of nights ago I finished reading Troy by Stephen Fry, his retelling of the Trojan War, and third in his series of Greek mythology. (I’m very much looking forward to the fourth book, which will cover The Odyssey.) He begins with the earliest causes of the war, and of course ends after it concludes and the Greeks begin heading home.

I’ve never read The Iliad, but I know it’s Homer’s epic covering the Trojan War. However I was very surprised that about halfway through the book, and most of the way through the war, Fry mentions in a footnote that “This is where Homer’s Iliad begins”. And then about 3/4 through, before the war is over, and even before the Trojan Horse is mentioned, there’s another footnote: “This is where Homer’s Iliad ends”. I checked and it turns out that The Iliad indeed doesn’t cover the whole war – it only covers a relatively tiny slice of a few weeks towards the end of the ten-year siege of Troy. So that was an interesting discovery.

The next book on my list is William Shakespeare’s The Merry Rise of Skywalker, the 9th in the series of Shakespeare-esque retellings of the Star Wars movies by Ian Doescher. It’s reminding me of a few things from the movie, that have prompted new ideas for Darths & Droids. So I’m reading it with a notebook by my side to write down things to include in the planning for our comics.

I took Scully for a walk around lunch time, and then another with my wife along as well before dinner.

Dinner tonight was “leftover veges fried rice”, to clean out the fridge before new groceries tomorrow. We have special plans for tomorrow’s dinner for New Year’s Eve. We often do a cheese platter and crackers thing, but this year we’re going to try some baked brie and crusty bread as a variation.

Oh! And the other big thing I did today was clean all the windows! (I was sitting here typing and wondering what I did all day, and forgot about it until now!) This is a fairly big job, since we’re two floors up, so to clean the outsides I need to remove the moveable window pane, then remove the insect screen, and then lean out the window with a long-handled squeegee. I wash the moveable pane in the bathroom, and also the insect screen, and then replace them all, and clean the inside of the fixed pane with window cleaner. Then repeat for all the other windows.

The other part of the job was replacing the rollers on the moveable pane for the bedroom window. For some reason the rollers keep seizing up and so after a while the window only opens by sliding, rather than rolling on wheels, which makes it much more difficult to open and close. The rollers come in little plastic cartridges, which slot into the window pane frame. But the fit is very tight. Last time I just hammered them in, but that made them difficult to remove today. So this time I decided to sand them down a bit to make them fit a bit more easily. Fortunately I had some fine sandpaper in the garage.

Anyway, with all this wrangling it took a few hours to clean and repair the windows. But now they’re so shiny clean that it looks like empty holes in the walls. Of course they’ll end up dirty again before too long…. but that’s life.

New content today:

Late spring cleaning

Today I started a belated spring clean of the house. I’d booked a carpet shampooing machine, hired from the local hardware store. I’ve used these machines several times in the past, and it really brings the carpet up nicely. I like to try and do it a couple of times a year, but I think it’s been longer than that.

After breakfast and vacuuming the house thoroughly to remove any loose dust and lint, I picked up the shampooer at 9am. Once at home, I filled the machine with hot water and carpet shampoo, and began the tough work of spraying the carpet and sucking up the water and dirt. If you’ve never done this before, imagine using a vacuum cleaner, but three times as heavy, including the hose and nozzle bits. And you have to scrub it back and forth on the carpet with pressure, and multiple times. It’s serious physical work, hot and exhausting. After an hour or so I was dripping with sweat and ready to quit. Fortunately my place is not large, and that completed the job.

I emptied out and cleaned the shampooing machine for return to the hardware store. The minimum hire is 24 hours, so I could have returned it tomorrow, but didn’t want to have it hanging around, so I took it back to the hardware store at lunch time. The guy there looked at my receipt for the refundable deposit.

He said, “You’re returning it already?”

I said, “Yeah, my place is small. I finished it in a couple of hours.”

He said, “You know you’re supposed to wait until the carpet dries, and then do it again. And then do it a third time, until the water comes off clean, so you know the carpet is clean.”

“Oh. Well, I’ll do that next time.”

He said, “You’re not cleaning a rental before moving out, are you?”

“No, it’s my own place.”

He said, “Oh, well that’s okay then. But next time do it properly.”

Huh. The dozen or so times I’ve hired one of these machines, nobody’s ever told me that before. But honestly, one go over the carpet was exhausting enough. I can barely imagine doing it again in the afternoon, and then again in the evening!

I basically spent the afternoon relaxing my tired muscles. Until heading out for a 2.5k run after my wife got home. And for dinner I made a pasta with broccoli in a tomato sauce.

New content today:

Another busy Saturday

The main thing I did today was work on completing the lesson plan and slides for tomorrow’s third lesson in my Creative Thinking & Problem Solving course on Outschool. There was less prep work needed for this one, but it will be more on-the-fly discussion with the kids about the various game theme and mechanics ideas that we’re working on, mixed with some thinking techniques to help settle on a single theme and then choose a few appropriate mechanics. I hope it goes well in practice!

I also did some housework, cleaning various rooms and finally going through the pile of old paperwork on my desk to sort out what needs filing and what could be thrown away. There’s still a bit of clutter around. I really think at some point I need to declare a week off doing other things and just spend it doing a proper spring clean and getting the whole house in order again. I’ve got three new books that I have no room for on my bookshelves, until I rearrange things and potentially get rid of some old stuff I don’t want any more. The pains of living in a small place.

For dinner I tried the eggplant and haloumi tarts that I tried unsuccessfully a few days ago. I didn’t burn the eggplant this time, but it reduced in volume quite a bit, and I ended up with less filling than I expected. So they ended up with a higher crust/filling ratio, but tasted good. Next time I might try adding some more filling ingredients.

New content today: