A quick late night post

This morning I finished writing a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips, and then got stuck into photographing them. I had to do this today as my current batch ran out tonight. SO I also had to assemble some new comics to queue up for the remainder of the week.

I finished photographing by lunchtime, when I went out to drive over to my wife’s work and pick up Scully, who she’d taken in to work this morning (it’s nice to have a dog-friendly office!). I took Scully a couple of suburbs away to a French patisserie to get some lunch, before coming home.

This afternoon I assembled some comics and started working on some new Darths & Droids stuff as well. I took Scully for a walk and popped into the supermarket to grab some salad leave and falafels for a quick and easy dinner, before my three ethics classes tonight. These were on the new topic of generalisation, which is actually a retread of the second topic I did, a couple of years ago when I began running these classes. None of the same students are still doing the class, so it’s a good chance to reuse some material.

New content today:

European travel diary and photo updating

Today I worked on finishing off that batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips I started writing yesterday. I completed the writing by lunch time and then spent a few hours this afternoon photographing the strips. I still need to assemble the strips and write annotations, but I’ll do that over the next few days.

I also spent some time doing a task I should have done months ago: formatting my travel diary from my trip to Germany and the Netherlands in June and uploading it to my website. Ive added just a few photos to one of the days. I still have to go through all the photos from that trip and process and upload selected ones.

I did find a problem looking through them briefly today: I forgot to change the time on my SLR camera while overseas. So all the photos were timestamped with the incorrect time, saying I took daylight photos in the middle of the night (which it was back in Sydney). Fortunately I have exiftool! This is a neat little command line script that can edit image files, including camera RAW files, and update the EXIF tags which record things like the time the photos was taken. So I went through my folders of photos from the trip and adjusted all the “DateTimeOriginal” fields by the correct number of hours.

Now I just need to format my diary for the trip we took to Orange last month! Oh, and do all that photo processing stuff.

Also this weekend I fit in a couple of 2.5k runs. Oh, and the weather has been warming up the past few days. We broke 25°C on Friday, for the first time since back in May. It’s starting to feel like spring, finally – much later than usual. We know this summer is predicted to be very wet again, with the third La Niña in a row, so it’s likely to be cooler than normal too. Locals are thoroughly sick of it, but also in dread of when it’s over and El Niño returns, bringing scorching hot summers and fire weather.

New content today:

Rainfall record broken!

It’s been raining heavily here all day, and as of 1:10pm, Sydney officially broke therecord for wettest year in recorded history. The previous record was 2194 mm, set in 1950. The 1:10pm reading sent 2022’s total to 2199.8 mm (so the previous reading, at 1pm, would have been at least 5.8 mm less).

Here’s Scully after a 5 minute jaunt outside to do her toileting on the grass.

Scully after a walk in the rain

In other news, I did my income tax return today. (Australia files on fiscal years, so this is the for the July 2021-June 2022 year, and tax returns are due by the end of October.) My return was a bit complicated this year, because of income from various non-traditional-employment sources including Outschool teaching, selling print copies of my Irregular Webcomic! books, and selling photo art prints and greeting cards at market stalls and by Etsy, combined with all the various deductions for those things.

Overall it took me about 20 minutes to enter all the info and lodge the form online. It used to take quite a bit longer, but Australia streamlined its tax return system a few years ago. Now if you just have a regular job with a registered employer, you can basically be done in under 5 minutes.

One thing doing this reminded me about is setting up a sale on those Irregular Webcomic! books. After the Kickstarters, I had a couple of hundred extra copies printed, because they’re much cheaper in bulk, so I could sell them online. But after a couple of years the printing and distribution company (which is based in the USA) started charging me storage fees for the unsold books, so that’s been eating into my profits every year since. So I figured I should reduce the price and move them on sale. If this doesn’t reduce the stock enough, I’m going to have get them to just discard the remainder, as I don’t want to be paying fees in perpetuity for books I can’t sell (and shipping them all to me in Australia to store myself would be stupidly expensive). So… buy some books! They’ll make great gifts. 🙂

I also finished off my slides for the photography science presentation I’ll be doing for the university students. The lecturer decided it would be better if I do it on 17 October instead of 10, since the student’s first assignment is due this coming week, and they’ll probably have lots of questions and pay less attention to the lecture, whereas the week after they should be more attentive.

New content today:

A day of assembling comics

Today I spent time making comics out of the photos I took yesterday. I only made five, and wrote annotations for them, as I had some other things to do. So there’s still a whole lot more to assemble, but that five will last for the coming week.

Last night at board games night, we played three games of Werewords, then a new game called Fantastic Factories.

This is a tableau building game where you roll dice, collect resources (energy and ingots), and use them to build various factories and industrial things that allow you to cascade into producing more resources and other stuff, and also collect points. In the building phase, everyone rolls their handful of dice simultaneously, and decides how to spend them – each die can be used to draw an extra card, or rolls form 1-3 can be used to gain energy, while rolls from 4-6 can be used to gain ingots. The thing is that you gain energy equal to the die roll (so 1-3 for each die), but for ingots you gain just 1, no matter what number is showing on the die.

Two of us got this wrong (since it was our first game). One friend of mine was taking 4-6 ingots for each die, and so gaining a huge advantage. My mistake was the exact opposite: taking only 1 energy for each die showing 1-3, rather than 1-3 energy. So I was handicapping myself. (It was possible to do this because everyone plays their dice rolls at the same time, so nobody is really watching what anyone else is doing to check on them.) Another player made a different rules error. In the end we joked that the winner would be the only person who didn’t realise they’d been playing illegally the whole time. But you kind of expect this thing on a first learning game. It was fun, and will be worth another play, now that we all know the rules!

After that we played an old favourite: Ra. We played this a lot back in the day, when we all used to work at the same company. Unfortunately, I had an utterly shambolic game. It’s an auction game played over 3 rounds, scoring points for collecting sets of various tiles that you win in the auctions. You start with 10 points (since it’s possible, though unlikely, to score negative points in a round), and then normally you’d expect to score around 5-15 additional points per round. In the first round I scored 2. In the second round I scored -2. That’s right: minus two. In the last round I scored 9 points, but I finished squarely in last place with a total of 19, behind people with total scores ranging from the 30s to 50s. I don’t think I’ve ever had such a bad game of that! Lucky I play for the social interaction!

New content today:

A day of photographing comics

This morning, after picking up groceries form the supermarket, I spent time photographing the batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips that I’d written yesterday. That took me past lunch time.

Then this afternoon I had another two classes of the Art topic. At the beginning of one, when I said today’s topic was art, a kid asked if we were going to talk about comics. I had to say no, but I’d put it on my topic planning list and see if I can come up with a lesson about comics. I’m not sure off the top of my head if I can fill a lesson with that, but maybe…

Tonight is face-to-face board games night. I have time to write this before I go because we’re starting an hour later than usual at the request of tonight’s host. So I don’t have any reports on what games we played yet. I’m planning on going to the Thai place near where I used to work to pick up some dinner on the way, since it’s only a couple of blocks away from the host’s house. I’ll be taking Scully tonight too, so everyone can see her.

New content today:

A day of writing comics

My break from producing new Irregular Webcomic! strips is almost over… so I got stuck into writing a new batch of comics today. I just finished, in the middle of the evening – phew! That’s actually faster than a lot of other times, when it can take two or three days to write a batch of scripts. Tomorrow I’ll try to photograph them all and then have the weekend to assemble them.

Apart from that I didn’t do much else. I took Scully for a walk at lunch time and got some fish & chips to eat. We went down to the ferry wharf to enjoy the waterfront a bit while I ate.

Oh, I’m finally organising a date to play the 1980s “kids with bikes” roleplaying game adventure that I’ve written. I’ve recruited several of my friends, and we’ve decided to do it twice, in two separate sessions with different players. One group will play face-to-face at a games night which I’ll be hosting at my place, and then a week later the other group will play online using Zoom. After both groups have played the adventure, they can compare notes and see how they fared compared to each other. I’ve been sitting on this adventure for a long time, so I’m very keen to finally run it.

New content today:

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.

New content today:

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: