Blurry days

The last several days are starting to blur together in a melange of restricted left hand mobility, taking Scully for walks, and mostly working on Darths & Droids. We’ve done a lot of story planning in the past week, and I’ve written thousands of words of notes. Today I switched to actually writing scripts for comics and assembling comics, which are needed for the next week or so of publication.

I also spent a bit of time updating one of the old Sydney walks I did with a couple of new photos of an historical building. I only learnt about this building while doing research for the photos that I had taken earlier, and I decided I had to go back and find it and get some photos. It’s an old stable that was part of a 19th century estate – you can read the history and see the photos here (scroll down near the bottom for the “Valetta” stables).

Valetta stables, Artarmon

My hand has been giving me some pain today, and last night while trying to sleep. I keep trying to do little tasks using my left hand, and end up with some sort of muscle twitch that aches for a while. I have to keep reminding myself that I don’t have full movement or strength in it yet.

New content today:

Photographic archaeology

Monday! Today I discovered an old folder full of animal photos from a visit to the zoo back in 2009, and it had a bunch of photos of birds that I hadn’t recorded in my bird photos database. So to scratch the itch of completionism, I ended up spending much of the day processing the bird photos I hadn’t done before, posting them on Flickr, identifying the species, and doing some coding work to make it easier to enter them into my database.

Nicobar pigeon

I also went for another longish walk, and along the way I passed an electronics shop, so I went in to buy some parts to make a small LED light to attach to Scully’s collar when going out for walks at night. Because she’s black, and some of the streets around us a dimly lit, it’s almost impossible to see her in some places where we walk after sunset, which is much more often in winter than in summer. There are commercial dog lights you can buy, but most are too bulky and heavy for Scully. I bought s smaller one last year, but it was so badly constructed that it fell to pieces the first time I tried to turn it on! I returned it for a refund.

Anyway, I figured I could make one myself, so with a bit of assistance at the electronics shop I got a selection of LEDs of different brightness, some resistors, a battery holder for a CR2032 button battery, one of those batteries, and a micro PCB switch. I’ll borrow a soldering iron off one of my friends and make myself a super-light and cheap light to attach to Scully.

New content today:

Star Wars day

More Darths & Droids plotting today. I watched some more of The Force Awakens and came up with a question about one of the scenes in the film that is not particularly well explained. In discussion with co-writers, we wrote over 2000 words of story notes to explain this one scene in the film – maybe 5 seconds or so long.

I also converted another Imgur album of a suburban walking photo essay to a web page hosted on my site. I enhanced it with some additional research into historic buildings that I’d photographed along the way, learning a lot of interesting stuff about them.

New content today:

Seriously knuckling down

I’ve been very busy and productive today! Yay!

I started with some stretching and core strength exercises, to get the blood pumping and work on some of the neglected muscles and things that haven’t been pushed lately, to avoid things like back strains and so on.

Then I got stuck into some ISO standards work. I let the documents and ballots build up for a few weeks and then clear them all out at once. I had to download and read a bunch of documents, and then vote on various proposals, and write up some comments documents for various drafts of proposed photographic standards, collating comments from other members of the Australian expert committee (which I chair). This took all morning and I didn’t finish until after lunch, but it cleared away a big chunk of my to-do list that was slowly getting more urgent.

To wind down from that, I did a bunch of photo uploading and writing a web page for a new Sydney photo walk that I did on Tuesday. This included doing research on places like this:

Pallister House

This is Pallister House, which is a significant heritage building – so much so that it even has its own Wikipedia page. It was fascinating learning the history of this place and writing it up for my photo essay.

I also finished up the database additions for the bird photos I took yesterday. My bird photos database is on this web page, but it’s not fully populated with historical photos taken before last year, so a lot of the birds show no entries. But if you click something like Superb fairywren you can see all the photos I’ve taken of this species since last year. Adding older photos is another task on my to-do list…

Oh, and I updated the news blog on my professional photo site with a news post and some sample photos from my bird expedition yesterday.

Tomorrow night is fortnightly board games night with my friends. To prepare for another virtual gathering (due to COVID restrictions on physical gatherings), we bought Asmodee’s Humble Bundle of board games on Steam, and I spent some time installing those and playing tutorial versions to learn the rules.

And… hmm, I feel like I’ve done even more than that. It’s definitely been a full day.

New content today:

Bird walk

I left home early this morning to go to Warriewood Wetlands, a nature reserve in northern Sydney, and take some photos of birds.

Australian king parrot, male

I started with a king parrot (this is a male one).

Bell miner

Here’s a bell miner. These birds are almost impossible to spot as they tend to hang out in the tops of trees, amongst the leaves. And they’re the same colour as the leaves. Getting a photo like this is a lot of patience and luck.

Superb fairywren, breeding male

This may be the photo of the day though, a superb fairywren male, in breeding plumage.

Back at home I basically processed and posted photos for the afternoon. I still have to enter them into my bird photos database too. A busy day, but fun!

New content today:

Chilly Monday

It was a grey and chilly day here, with some mist. I didn’t go out much, except to take Scully out for some brief exercise.

I worked more on some Darths & Droids story plotting, examining some situations later in the trilogy for how they inform what happens soon in the story. And I worked on some web pages, converting my Imgur albums of the Sydney walks I’ve been doing into web pages hosted on my own server. I’ve converted three so far it’s going to take a fair bit of work doing the rest, especially the really long ones.

For dinner tonight I cooked vegetable fajitas, using a basic spice mix recipe I’ve used many times before. It gets a bit pungent cooking up the spices and chilli, and sometimes I have a bit of a coughing fit over the stove. Today it wasn’t so bad, and I didn’t have any issues… but Scully was a bit disturbed and ended up moving by degrees from the lounge room, to the hall, to the front door, and into the bedroom, where we found her cowering between a chest of drawers and the blanket box, basically as far as she could get away from the kitchen.

We had to open all the windows wide (in the cold weather) to air the place out, and take her outside a bit for comfort while we did that. Poor girl. I wonder what made her rect that like this time, and never previously.

New content today:

Pseudo-Mother’s Day

Today was not Mother’s Day in Australia, tomorrow is. But my wife and I visited her mother today, since under the current COVID restrictions household visits are limited to two people at a time, and her other daughter (my wife’s sister) and her son are visiting tomorrow – so we can’t be there at the same time. Rather than juggle times, we just went over today. We had a morning tea and then went for a walk.

It turned out to be a good day to go out, because it was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, with a few clouds in the bright blue sky. The temperature was 27°C. And I think this may well be the last warm day of autumn, as we are forecast for a cold change tonight, and tomorrow will be a frigid 19°C, leading into a week that barely gets above 20°. Winter is definitely just around the corner.

Clontarf panorama view

I took some photos on the walk, including a few panoramas to capture the views.

Clontarf Beach

We walked down to the nearby small beach on the harbour. This is very sheltered beach, with wide shallow water over sandflats, so ideal for families with young kids.

Sandy Bay walk

There were a few people out enjoying the last fine weather of the summer, but no huge crowds. A few joggers, and people out walking their dogs. (Like us!)

Sandy Bay dog park

And this wide exposed sandflat is one of the very few places in Sydney where it’s legal to take your dog onto the beach (there’s only one other place I know of). So of course it’s insanely popular with people and their dogs.

Back home, I wrote some Darths & Droids scripts, did some housecleaning and some cooking, and watched some TV. I was going to watch a DVD, but the remote control failed to work, and I didn’t have the right batteries handy to replace them, and I couldn’t access the navigation menus from the player console, so I had to give up and watch Netflix instead…

New content today:

Goldfish updates

This morning I took Scully for a walk and along the way passed a banksia tree which had a couple of rainbow lorikeets feeding on the flowers. I was pretty close, and wondered if I could get close enough to take a decent photo with my phone (which like all phones doesn’t have much telephoto capability). I was within a step or two of the tree and aiming the phone, but I scared the birds away. But I was reasonably quick on the shutter button, and managed to get this.

Taking flight

Not too bad for an opportunistic shot.

I spent some time updating the Magic: the Gathering Goldfish Draft website that I maintain, adding/updating results from tournaments and adding a bunch of the card lists we used. You can now see the evolution of the card list as we gained experience with various combinations and the potential for ludicrous scores. The recent tournament we did (mentioned here when I was actively playing it out) now has the scores in.

My score was 10148.9 points, or 7.775×10148 in standard scientific notation. You might think this is a pretty high score, but that only managed to place me sixth out of eight players. The winning score was about 10↑↑↑4 (using Knuth’s up-arrow notation for large numbers). Suffice to say this number is so large that it’s impossible to write it down in the form 10101010… because the number of 10s you’d need to add to that continued exponentiation itself is too large to write down.

Yeah, this is pretty nerdy stuff.

New content today:

Industrial grunge walk

I needed to buy a couple of things from the hardware store today, so I took a walk over there, and then proceeded to walk home via a roundabout route, so I could document another Sydney walk with photos. The previous walk was very touristy and beautiful, so I thought I’d explore a grungier side of the city today. It’s not the grungiest, because I’m limited to suburbs within walking distance, but hopefully there’s a bit there!

Photos and commentary are in this Imgur album.

I also worked some more on Darths & Droids today – made another comic, wrote some annotations.

New content today:

Virtual Sydney walk

Today was Anzac Day, Australia’s (and New Zealand’s) most solemn day of remembrance. Normally it’s marked by massed gatherings of people at ceremonies held in pre-dawn light in all cities and towns. But it couldn’t happen this year, because of COVID-19 restrictions. Instead there was a movement for people to play The Last Post on any instrument they had, in their driveways, on balconies, out windows, wherever they were at home.

It was also kind of weird and surreal because normally Anzac Day has a big and obvious build up, but this year news was dominated by COVID stuff instead, so Anzac Day kind of crept up until suddenly yesterday we found ourselves thinking, “Wait a second, tomorrow is Anzac Day! Where did that come from??” All in all, it was a very strange version of the day.

Today I went through all the photos I took yesterday and write them up as a virtual walk through Sydney. I put it into an Imgur album here.

I also made some Darths & Droids comics. Now that we’re back up to publishing three strips a week, it means I have to make three strips a week, so it’s a never-ending task.

And there was housework and the usual sort of Saturday stuff. Nothing especially interesting.

New content today: