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:

A day without water

At 5 pm this evening, one of my neighbours knocked on my front door. She’s on the owner’s corporation executive committee and was here in an official capacity, to tell me that Sydney Water was doing some work in the street and that all water would be turned off for our building from 6pm to midnight.

My thoughts rapidly progressed from “okay, that’s not long, no problem” through “wait, how am I going to cook dinner?” to “oh crap! Wife and I both need to have showers, and I need to get a sourdough loaf-in-progress made and kneaded and then clean up the mess before 6pm!!”

I spent the next hour running around like crazy, having a shower, filling a bunch of water jugs and containers, making sourdough, washing up mixing bowls and utensils, cleaning the kitchen generally, and then filling the sink with hot water so after we ate dinner I could at least put the dirty dishes and utensils in there so they don’t dry out and go all crusty. Fortunately we had just enough warning, and I got everything done in time.

It’s actually been a wet day, with light to medium rain in the morning and afternoon. There was a break of a couple of hours around midday, which we timed well for a long walk with Scully. Apart from that I’ve been looking at material for tomorrow’s image processing course lecture and the accompanying tutorial for which I’ll be teaching. The first real work looks straightforward enough, about image compression formats and simple preprocessing operations such as contras adjustment and histogram equalisation. Tomorrow I’ll play with the MatLab code and make sure I can manage it all.

In COVID news, NSW recorded 262 new cases, which is lower than yesterday’s 319. The numbers are still bouncing up and down, although with an overall upwards trend, so it’s not clear if this is actual good news yet.

A friend pointed out to me today that the USA has again recorded over 100,000 new cases in one day, which just sounds absolutely crazy. I’m here giving daily horrified reports of how we’re dealing with a couple of hundred cases where I live, and other parts of the world are in much worse situations. I’m thankful that we’ve really had it relatively easy in Australia compared to many countries, while at the same time concerned about the cases we do have. It’s an odd sort of disconnect. I guess I just can’t really imagine what it must be like to live in a place with roughly a hundred times as many cases per capita. I think I’d be too scared to leave the house at all.

New content today:

Home alone

My wife was out for much of today, for a yoga class in the morning, and to go see a movie with her mother in the afternoon. She took Scully to yoga as normal, but I had time with Scully all afternoon.

I worked on Darths & Droids comics, writing and assembling. And I also did some prepwork for the upcoming ISO Photography Standards meeting – downloading and reading documents, and writing up comments on drafts.

In a piece of home maintenance, I swapped out all the batteries from all the remote controls and put in new ones. I’ve decided to do this once a year, whether the batteries need changing or not, to avoid leakage ruining the remotes, after I found some batteries in one of them had started leaking and corroding the terminals. Fortunately it wasn’t far gone and I cleaned it up, but I don’t want to risk this again, and would rather just get new batteries annually to prevent the mess and inconvenience of losing a remote to corrosion.

New content today:

Saturday breakfast out

This morning my wife had an appointment up the street, and suggested I walk with her and Scully, so I could look after Scully outside while she went in. So we did, leaving early, before we’d had any breakfast.

Afterwards, she suggested that rather than go home, we continue walking to North Sydney and have breakfast at a cafe near the library. Normally on a Saturday I have a very simple breakfast of Weet-Bix with milk. But when I go out I like to order eggs benedict, because I can’t be bothered making it at home, so it serves as the “fancy breakfast” that I get on the very rare occasions when I buy breakfast. Eggs benedict traditionally comes on a muffin, but it seems people like doing all sorts of weird variations these days – sourdough bread seems to be popular. But this one came on a brioche bun, which is kind of the opposite direction, being softer than a muffin, rather than harder and chewier like sourdough bread. It was a little odd, but okay.

We didn’t get back home until after 11 o’clock. Then I wanted to go into my Saturday housework, cleaning the shower and bathroom, vacuuming the carpets and floors, changing the damp absorbers in the closets. I also cleaned up the balcony and washed the floor out there, so it’s nice and clean. Which was good because tonight we ate dinner out on the balcony, in the cool evening air – something we don’t do often enough.

Oh, here’s one of the drawings from last night’s game of Sketchful, by one of my friends – you need to identify the thing being drawn. I completely failed to guess the answer, but all the other players managed to get it. It’s two words, (4, 3) letters.



New content today:

Cleaning the carpet

Today was dominated by cleaning. I vacuumed the house to get all the loose dust collected, and then I attacked the carpet with a carpet shampooing machine that I’d hired from the local hardware store. I do this about every 6 months to rejuvenate and deep clean the carpet. It comes up nice and fresh, but it’s a few hours of hard work. Although the day was cold again, I was bathed in sweat by the time I’d finished the cleaning.

After returning the carpet cleaner to the hardware store, I treated myself to lunch at a Japanese place near there. And then I took it easy for the afternoon since I was kind of worn out.

New content today:

Cleaning and writing

I’m just trying to think what I did today. It was pretty much all taken up by cleaning the shower, writing comics, and taking Scully out to the dog park.

I scrubbed the shower tiles with baking soda to remove the built up soap scum. This is hard work, and took some time and elbow grease.

Mostly I wrote and produced some new Darths & Droids strips.

Oh! I also went out to check on the jacaranda trees and the flowering progress. Within the next week or two they’ll be blooming profusely and hopefully I’ll get some photos worthy of printing.

New content today:

Errands and chores

I had a busy day. First off the rank was sending an Etsy order out at the post office. Then when I returned home I cleaned up, vacuuming the carpets and floors. Then I washed the kitchen floor (and also the balcony floor later in the afternoon). Changed out the damp absorbers in the wardrobes. Took out a bunch of rubbish.

In the middle of the day I caught a train into the city. I needed to go in to pick up a book I’d ordered from a game store in there: Original Adventures Reincarnated #4: The Lost City by Goodman Games. While in the city I grabbed some lunch. There aren’t a lot of particularly good places to grab a quick lunch in that part of the city, but a friend suggested the food hall at David Jones, an upmarket department store. The basement level food hall sells all sorts of gourmet ingredients, and they also have hot food bars and tables. I got a seat at the Asian bar and had a massaman curry with rice, which was fairly good.

Once back home, I grabbed my camera and went out to Kirribilli again to get another photo of the slowly emerging jacaranda flowers. Today they looked like this (compare to last week):

McDougall Street jacarandas: 19 Oct

While there, I noticed the rose beds in the adjacent park were also in flower and got a few photos of the roses:

Roses in Milson Park

Roses in Milson Park

And then by the time I got home, it was almost time to take Scully to the dog park, and buy some bread form the bakery on the way. A pretty full day right up to dinner time.

New content today:

Little tasks and writing

I did a lot of little housekeeping tasks today – some literally housework, some just some things I needed to get done for other reasons.

And I did a 1k run, setting a time of 4:25, exactly the same as last week.

And then I spent most of the day working on Darths & Droids comic scripts.

New content today: