Stranger Things, on TV and in comics

I’m currently partway through watching the new season 4 of Stranger Things on Netflix. And really enjoying it – a lot more than I liked the previous season. I think I need to go back to the start of season 1 and rewatch everything again, and maybe season 3 will feel better this time.

Besides watching the show on TV, today I also got out my Stranger Things Lego characters and photographed a batch of new comics. This is 4 weeks’ worth of new strips, to cover this week, the next two weeks when I’m overseas in Europe, and a week after getting back. Hopefully that will give me time to make a new batch to follow directly on.

So here’s a question I was wondering about today: Here in Australia we use the word “overseas” to refer to any international travel. Do people in countries with land borders use the word “overseas” the same way? Do Americans use “overseas” to describe travel to Canada? Or Brazil? Or only for travel to Europe/Asia/Africa/Australia?

New content today:

Too busy to make comics, again

I had hoped to have time to make new Irregular Webcomic! strips for this week, but I’ve been so busy I just couldn’t squeeze it in. So I’ve declared this a hiatus week and will hopefully get back to making some more for next week.

I had a full raft of ethics classes today, three in the morning plus an individual extension class in the afternoon. That ends the Buying and Selling topic. Tomorrow I need to write the new topic on Language, in time for three classes in a row in the evening. (So tomorrow is going to pretty busy too.) Also today I did outlines for the next three weeks of classes after that. I’m supposed to have outlines ready 4 weeks in advance, but I’ve neglected to keep up to date for three weeks!

In interesting news following Saturday’s election, today Anthony Albanese was sworn in as the new Prime Minister of Australia. This was despite the election results not being finalised and—technically—it not being certain yet that he will actually win. It seems highly likely that he will be able to form government and become Prime Minister, but it is not guaranteed at this point. With vote counting still underway, it’s possible that the Labor Party will not win enough seats to command a majority in Parliament. If so, they will need to negotiate with the minor parties and independent MPs in order to secure enough supportive votes to form government. It’s possible (although as I said unlikely) that they will withhold their votes and that Albanese will not have been elected Prime Minister.

So why was he sworn in today?? I’m glad you asked!

Normally, the new Prime Minister would indeed not be sworn in until the election results are final and, in the case of a minority government, they had succeeded in negotiating support from the minor parties/independents. The previous government goes into “caretaker” mode at the calling of the election, and the previous Prime Minister remains in office as “caretaker PM” until the newly elected one is sworn in—after the election results have been finalised. The caretaker government retains full powers, but by convention doesn’t actually do anything except in cases of emergency*.

However, in this election there was a special case. The Quad Summit is an international leaders’ meeting held between Australia, the USA, Japan, and India, and this year’s meeting was scheduled to begin on 24 May – tomorrow. With election counting still underway and the result not yet finalised, but a defeat of the previous Prime Minister Scott Morrison looking almost inevitable, it would have been very bad for Morrison to actually go to the meeting as a caretaker Prime Minister with potentially only hours left in office. By convention, he would have been unable to commit Australia to any decisions there.

So, on Sunday (yesterday, the day after the election), Morrison officially resigned as Prime Minister. This forced the Governor-General to—according to the Australian Constitution—either appoint a new government or call a new election. Calling a new election while the results of the one held on Saturday are still being counted is obviously ludicrous, so the Governor-General chose to appoint the likely winner, Anthony Albanese, as an interim Prime Minister, until the election result is finalised and it is known if he will actually be able to form government and claim the role of Prime Minister. And so Anthony Albanese is now Prime Minister and flew to Tokyo today to join the Quad Summit tomorrow and negotiate with Joe Biden, Fumio Kishida, and Narendra Modi.

* Such as in 1914, when Britain declared war on Germany in the middle of an Australian election campaign, thus forcing the caretaker government to immediately begin making war plans.

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Comics catch-up Friday/Saturday

Friday night was online games night with my friends, so I didn’t have time to write a blog post. We played a new game: Heckin’ Hounds. It took a bit of grappling with the rules (which were not laid out very well – “a triumph of flavour over substance,” as one of my friends put it) to understand what was going on. It’s a very weird trick-taking card game, which feels like the designer basically took the idea of a trick-taking game and decided to do everything the opposite way for the heck of it (no pun intended). There’s no following suits, there’s a pseudo-trump suit mechanism which doesn’t actually affect the ranking of the suits, there’s a bidding mechanism which accumulates between hands (so if you bid high one one hand, you can make up for it by bidding low on the next hand), and you don’t even get to look at your own hand! Instead you get to see everyone else’s hand of cards, but when it comes time for you to play a card on a trick, you’re basically picking partially at random from your own hand with limited knowledge.

It sounds and is very strange, but somehow it comes together and was fairly playable, although I’m not sure how often we’ll want to return to it. We played a few of our regular games too.

On Friday and also today I worked mostly on getting ahead with comic production, both Irregular Webcomic! and Darths & Droids. I also did some more work on the secret project today. This is a project that will come to fruition some time in the next few months, so you will see it before too long.

My wife and I took Scully on a long walk today – the first one for a while. We walked down to the ferry wharf, via the coastal bushwalk track, which is a nice walk. The day was very pleasant, with fluffy white clouds and blue sky, not too warm, not too cool. This in-between seasons weather is really very nice, when it’s not raining. The track was a bit muddy from the recent rain though.

New content yesterday:

New content today:

Big comics day

Today was all about making Irregular Webcomic! strips. I wanted to get a big batch of comics written and photographed – enough to last a few weeks of updates without me having to scramble to make a few comics every few days, so I can relax a bit, and plan out the next big batch before having to make more. It’s much more efficient to do a big batch every few weeks than to do 5 per week, but I’d been in a cycle of not enough time for the past several weeks, and so ended up doing it inefficiently.

I took some time out to take Scully out while I grabbed some sushi and then some gelato for lunch.

And really, that’s about it for today! Oh, good news is that my sore back is recovering well. It was stiff yesterday, but not too sore, and today is easing up and moving more freely. So it seems to be healing up with no complications or additional muscle strains.

New content today:

Hobbit punday

It was time to make another week of Irregular Webcomic! strips. And today’s new one is another entry into the run of hobbit puns.

The weather was unusual today. It didn’t rain! It’s the first day it hasn’t rained in a week. Although it won’t last – we should get about 10 mm tomorrow.

For dinner I made pizza, with pumpkin and bunya nuts. I’v used a bit more than half the bunya nuts that I collected a while back. Soon I’ll be able to put the remaining ones in the freezer into a smaller container and reclaim some freezer space.

New content today:

Warm and sunny!

The sun came out today! It was warm! It ain’t going to last though… the forecast for Thursday has been raised to up to 100 mm of rain, with 25 on Wednesday and 30 on Friday. But tomorrow should be hopefully warm and dry.

I worked today on another weekly batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips. And… gosh, I’m not sure what else I did. I made some sourdough bread, and made cauliflower rice with fried chilli eggs for dinner.

Sometimes I just don’t know how a whole day flies by so quickly.

Last night I started watching The Exorcist. Despite being a classic, I’ve never seen it before. I’m half way through and might try to finish it tonight. It’s definitely a product of the 1970s, and it’s got a slow burn beginning that takes maybe half an hour just setting up the characters before anything really happens. But it’s getting interesting now and I’m curious to see how it ends.

New content today:

Comic making blur

Today was very busy. I had ethics classes at 9 and 10am, followed by going for my daily run, lunch, and then getting stuck into making another week’s worth of Irregular Webcomic! strips. I wrote 5 strips, photographed them, assembled them, and wrote annotations for them all in just a few hours. By the time I was done I needed a break, because I’d been working solidly the whole time.

This evening I had an ethics extension class, followed by a class of my human vision science lesson. One of the new kids who joined ethics last week found this class and enrolled in it, and he was really keen and enjoyed it a lot. At the end he said he learnt a lot and it was really interesting, so that’s good! And the parent gave me a 5 star review. I should schedule this class more often – it was a lot easier to teach it this time than the previous times, I think because I now have a lot more experience doing this, and felt a lot more relaxed with the material and using Zoom. (I hadn’t taught this class for almost a year, and was only prompted to schedule more classes because Outschool threatened to delist it.)

I cut a pineapple for dessert tonight. We haven’t had a pineapple for some time, and I saw them in the supermarket and just felt like one last time i went shopping. I like to have pieces sprinkled with cinnamon – it really adds something.

Oh, and I updated my desktop machine to MacOS Monterey tonight too. I’ve bene putting this off because previous updates have taken hours to install and I’m never really confident that it’ll work, but this one was relatively painless, and took barely an hour.

New content today:

Flat out comics day

I had the last two classes on my current ethics topic of inventions this morning – an hour earlier thanks to the USA going off daylight saving time, and most of the students in these classes being in the US. Although one student in Taiwan had to switch to the other class to maintain the same time in his zone.

After that I spent much of today doing comics work. I wrote 5 new strips for Irregular Webcomic! and photographed, assembled, and wrote annotations for them. This is a smaller batch than I usually do and would have liked, but I didn’t have time to do a full batch to last multiple weeks, so next week I’m going to have to do it all again.

I also ended up spending a significant amount of time dealing with administrative overhead on Outschool, answering requests and questions from parents. Again daylight saving time is causing issues, because when Australia goes off it in April it had caused all my classes to be listed an hour later, and a parent noticed. So I had to go through and cancel all the April classes and relist them again an hour earlier (my time), so they’re the same time for everybody overseas.

And now it’s late and bedtime, and I still haven’t really relaxed or unwound from a full busy day.

New content today:

Too busy for comics again

I have a very busy couple of weeks coming up, and unfortunately I’ve run out of buffered strips for Irregular Webcomic! Rather than try to squeeze in production of a new batch, I’ve declared this week another hiatus week, and am doing reruns instead. I hope to be able to make more comics in time for next week, but I’m not convinced that will happen, so we’ll have to see.

This week I have to concentrate on getting some more work done on the Data Engineering course for the University of Technology. The course starts next week on 24 February. The lecturer and I have weeks 1-4 mostly sorted, and I need to work on slides and exercises for week 5, while he works on week 6. I’m planning to work solidly on that tomorrow.

Today I finished off the ethics topic on Tourism with two more classes, plus an extension class for one student. I’ll also need to write the new topic on Patriotism for classes starting on Wednesday. And the other thing I had to do was sort out my schedule, because of clashes with the upcoming Data Engineering course.

Unlike last year when I did the tutoring work entirely from home, the university is opening up to face-to-face teaching again, and I’ll need to travel in to do the tutoring work. The class runs from 6-9pm every Thursday. The university is a 20 minute train ride and about 10 minutes walk away, so I’ll need to factor an hour to take care of contingencies and arrive on time, and I won’t get home until close to 10pm. So it clashes with my current two ethics classes on Thursday evening, which I’ve decided to move to Tuesday at the same times (currently my “day off”). So I had to write a note to inform the parents of all the students about the shift, and ask them to either confirm that their kids can continue on the new day, or look to transfer them to some other class time.

The other thing that will occupy much of next week is the next ISO Photography Standards meeting. It should have been in Yokohama, but we are still doing virtual meetings due to COVID travel restrictions. It’s on from Tuesday 22 to Friday 25 February. The good news is that it’s at a very reasonable time for my time zone this time, with sessions beginning at 2:15 pm and ending at 5:45 pm. And, incredibly fortunately, that only clashes with one Outschool class, which hopefully I can move to a different time. However the Thursday ending clashes with the time I need to leave home to be at the university for the first lecture of Data Engineering, so I’ve told the chairperson that I can’t attend the final technical session on Thursday, and he’s scheduled the session that I am least interested in for that timeslot. So it won’t be too bad. It’s definitely better than doing a Zoom meeting for four days after midnight! (Which will probably happen for the next meeting in June…)

Oh, and as if I didn’t have enough to do, I had an idea for a new class I could teach on Outschool: Philosophy of Science. Although I think I wouldn’t call it that – it needs a snappy name that won’t scare kids away. But the basic idea is a one-off class that teaches them about the scientific method, Occam’s razor, the fact that science builds models to explain observations, etc. Basically a primer on what science really is, and what it isn’t, to correct/forestall many of the popular misconceptions of how science works. I’ve recorded the idea for now… hopefully I’ll get to work on it some time in the not too distant future.

New content today:

And a crazy busy Monday

I was flat out today. (For anyone who doesn’t know, this is an Australian expression meaning “extremely busy”.)

I got up early, gulped down a breakfast, then went out for my 2.5k run. I wanted to get it done, and recover and cool down before my 10am ethics class. I felt quite good today during the run, despite the humidity being 94% (and the temperature was 23°C), and I was astonished to see that I’d run my second best time, 12:19. So that was a good start to the day.

After stripping off sweat-soaked clothes and having a big cold drink, I cooled down for a bit and checked news and events online. Then I mixed up a sourdough loaf and kneaded it and got it ready for baking later in the day.

By the time I’d done all that, it was time for my ethics classes. The last two lessons on this topic about art took me up to midday, when I had lunch and baked the bread.

Straight after lunch I got stuck into making this new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips that I’d put off for a week. The photography involves clearing off my desk, getting out several boxes of Lego figures and parts, and then spending time building each of the sets, arranging figures, photographing each scene, moving things around, deconstructing sets and then repeating the whole thing with each new theme. While doing the photography, I refer to the dialogue scripts that I’ve written, and often also end up tweaking some of the dialogue as I get new ideas during the process.

Photography was done by late afternoon, and then I had to pack all the Lego away, and start assembling the comics from the photos using Photoshop. I did the new comics for this week, and then started writing annotations and uploading those, ready for updating on the website. I managed to get tonight’s comic done in time – but then I forgot to change the configuration to update to a new comic rather than the reruns that I’d done last week! So for about half an hour the “new” comic was another rerun, until I rewound that update and redid the update with the modified configuration file. Phew!!

I’ve also spent a bunch of in-between time today handling parent requests on Outschool. The extension class for my ethics class (mentioned a few days ago) is now live, which means parents can actually see that I’m offering private extensions for this class – and I got a request from one to set up a time for their kid to do it. So I messaged back and forth a bit, and found a timeslot and set it up, and then I had to modify my art class notes to make some explicit extension.homework questions, and send those off tot the new student.

And… haha… wow. While writing that paragraph, I got another request from a parent to add a new class. Gosh… it’s going bananas! And my calendar is getting very full of classes.

New content today: