A well-earned sleep in

After my three days of rising at 4am to attend the ISO Photography meeting, I could finally sleep in this morning and catch up a bit on some of that missed sleep. So that was nice.

In the middle of the day Scully had an evaluation test to requalify as a Delta Dog. She did this back in 2019, just before COVID hit, and my wife took Scully into the local hospital to meet patients as a therapy experience for them. But COVID cut short the visits after just a few months. Now they’re up and running again and my wife wanted to start doing it again, but the dogs have to requalify every two years, so Scully needed to do the evaluation again.

We drove out to the venue, about half an hour away, through rain. When we got there, the place was almost empty. This was in contrast to last time, where there were dozens of dogs and owners there, and my wife and Scully had to wait about half an hour for their turn. This time, they took Scully and began the evaluation right away. Unfortunately this meant that Scully was still looking around for me (I stayed in the car, to avoid distracting her), and she ended up being too distracted to pass the obedience and handling part of the evaluation. So… she failed.

There’s another evaluation in a couple of months, but I’m not sure if my wife will want to try it again.

I mentioned the rain… yes, it’s back. The forecast today was up to 25 mm, but fortunately we didn’t get nearly that amount. Inland New South Wales, however, has been deluged again, with many rivers and catchments already flooded, some of them at all-time record levels just a week or two ago. News reported today that 40,000 square kilometres, or an area larger than Switzerland, was now cut off and inaccessible due to floodwaters.

Some dry weather would be nice.

New content today:

Pancakes and mud

I made sourdough buckwheat pancakes for breakfast this morning. This is pretty unusual – I don’t normally cook breakfast because my wife and I usually eat muesli pretty much every day. I know some people do cooked breakfasts, but it’s very rare for us. But I’d bought buckwheat flour recently to try some in a sourdough loaf of bread, and we have maple syrup that a friend sent from the USA, so it seemed like a perfect confluence.

My wife and I took Scully on a big walk today for exercise and some ball chasing at a small park out on the headland in the harbour. We took a bushwalk route along the harbour foreshore, behind the houses sitting on the hill above. It’s a nice walk near the water and you can almost imagine you’re far from civilisation. But the path gets muddy in wet weather and, of course, we’ve been having a lot of that lately. So we had to negotiate several muddy patches along the way. And then the park at the end was a bit soggy too, so Scully got pretty muddy.

So when we got home, we gave Scully a bath straight away. You should have seen the dirt that washed off her in the bathtub!

I cleaned the bathroom and shower today, being careful not to strain my back like I did two weeks ago. It’s much better now, but I did it soon after a morning of housework, and I didn’t want a repeat today. I’ve also started running again after my back has settled down. After a 2-week break it’s a bit difficult and my leg muscles are a bit tired and stiff, but if I keep it up it’ll get better.

New content today:

Unexpected shower and bath

The morning was fine today. I had my first two online ethics classes this morning after my week-long break. Then I worked on assembling some of the large batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips that I photographed yesterday.

At lunch I took Scully for a long walk, intending to give her some ball chasing time to run around and burn off some energy. It was clouding over a little and I took an umbrella just in case…

By the time we got to the grassy area by the water, it had started sprinkling. Scully chased the ball a few times and the rain got heavier. It was also very windy and the rain was coming in at a steep angle. Scully got very wet, and even with the umbrella I got fairly wet too. Here’s Scully shaking some of the water off:

Poodle on a rainy day

As soon as we got home, I decided to just give her a bath and clean her off, since she was soaked anyway. Now at least she’s nice and clean.

This evening was the next lecture in the data engineering course at university. I dropped Scully off at my wife’s work and caught the train in. I was early enough to grab dinner at a ramen place – a much better one than the one I’d eaten at several weeks ago. It was very nice.

New content today:

Hot cross bun crawl

My wife had today off work as an extra day before the Easter long weekend, and I had no classes on today. We went for a big walk together at lunchtime, in search of hot cross buns. We decided to get some from each of our two favourite bakeries, which involved a loop walk across multiple suburbs, covering over 7 km by the time we got back home.

Here’s Scully along the way, in her Easter bandana.

Scully's Easter bandana

Tonight we went for dinner at our local seafood restaurant. A nice relaxing meal to kick off a double long weekend. On the way home we walked past a group of brushtail possums. A young one was in a tree right near where I was walking, and I got a fairly close photo of it.

Baby brushtail possum

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Bath day for Scully

Scully got a bath today. It was a nice day for it, being mostly sunny, and only a brief sprinkle of rain in the morning. (I counted it up – we’ve only had 18 days without rain since the start of February.)

Before bath time, my wife took Scully down to the Kirribilli Markets to check them out and get some gifts for her sister. And for me – she got me some nice chocolates.

News-wise, the main thing today was the Prime Minister has called the federal election, which will take place on Saturday 21 May. This was pretty much expected, but not confirmed until today. The incumbent Liberal-National Coalition (a conservative alignment) is way behind in the polls, so maybe this time the Labor Party (a more progressive party) can take power, unlike the unexpected come-from-in-front loss they managed three years ago.

Besides two online ethics classes today, I mostly worked on my current secret project, so there’s not too much more I can say. For dinner I made pasta with the bunya nut pesto I made the other day. I also helped my wife by taking photos of a whole bunch of hand-made bangles so that she can put them up on her Etsy shop.

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Scully’s 4th birthday!

Scully is 4 years old today!

Scully's 4th birthday

She got a new chew toy from Luna, the poodle next door. And we gave her some peanut butter as a special treat – it’s probably her favourite thing ever.

For lunch today, I made sourdough bunya nut pancakes, with pineapple and maple syrup. I wanted to do it for breakfast, but I forgot to feed the sourdough starter last night, so I did it first thing in the morning, and it was ready for lunch time.

Sourdough bunya nut pancakes

I mashed some boiled bunya nuts and put them into the batter. I thought they’d mash more easily, but they were a little tough, so they stayed a bit lumpy. But that didn’t matter.

Sourdough bunya nut pancakes

Here are some pancakes being cooked:

Sourdough bunya nut pancakes

And the finished result, with chopped fresh pineapple and bunya nuts on top, and maple syrup:

Sourdough bunya nut pancakes

It was pretty good! I wonder if anyone has ever had a dish with bunya nuts, pineapple, and maple syrup in it before.

New content today:

Scully grooming day

Scully was looking a bit scruffy and shaggy recently, which means it’s time for her haircut/groom at the dog groomer. I picked her up from my wife’s work at lunch time and took her to the groomer, then collected her with her new haircut a few hours later. We can see Scully’s eyes again!

Otherwise it’s been another fairly busy and exhausting day. I had my face-to-face ethics class at the school this morning. After 5 weeks of teaching this, there are still about half a dozen kids on the roll who I haven’t seen yet – maybe sick for the past 5 weeks? I’m not sure. Thankfully the kids who have been showing up are pretty good and the class runs smoothly, mostly. There was an incident today though when a teacher poked her head in and told us to open the windows for ventilation, and a kid ran over and did it… and a fly screen fell out of one of the windows, dropping two floors to the ground below! The kids thought this was hilarious, and several ran over to look out the window and see where the screen had fallen. I sent two of them out to go retrieve the screen and bring it back. I didn’t bother trying to reinstall it – I just told the regular classroom teacher about it when he came back after the class.

Oh, there was something amusing after the class too. The room I have is next door to the Anglican scripture class, and on the far side of that is the Catholic class. The kids all split up to go to their relevant scripture class (or ethics), and return to their regular classrooms afterwards. While I was leaving I overheard some kids talking outside:

Did you know Mary was a virgin??
Yeah, she was a virgin, but God stuffed a baby up there anyway!

On my way home from dropping Scully at the groomer, I stopped at the bakery at Naremburn to grab a sweet treat, since I was driving past. I like popping in and seeing what new items they have – they always seem to have something new in the rotation. Today they had what looked like rocky road tarts, which I confirmed by asking, and a delicious looking individual cakes topped with icing and coconut shavings, which turned out to be mango cakes. I had the rocky road tart to eat while sitting outside at the cafe tables, but then I decided I’d go back in and grab a mango cake for dessert tonight, because who knows how long it will be before they appear there again!

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Scully’s grooming day

Today I dropped Scully off at the dog groomer for her regular clip.She was getting quite shaggy, but now after the grooming she’s trim and velvet-fuzzy again.

In between I did my last couple of ethics classes for the topic of Artificial Intelligence. I did some comics stuff. And now that I’ve finished off the paper proofreading that occupied last week it’s time to start working some more on the data engineering course that I’m helping out with. This week I need to produce some exercises for students to do on summary statistics and data presentation, and also make some graphics for the data visualisation slides for the lectures.

This involves writing some actual code for the first time in ages. Both Matlab, and also some Python to massage some of the raw data downloads I’ve found into better shape for exercises.

Oh, and when I was outside doing stretches in the park across the street after my run, I saw about a dozen ravens circling right above my home. I can only presume this means something ominous. And for reference, I know that our place is built on the site of a former church, which must have been demolished to make way. So… it’s entirely possible that the place I live in is built on a former graveyard…

Maybe I’ve been watching too much horror on Netflix.

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Meeting the new dog neighbour

That noise that had been keeping me awake all night seems to have disappeared. I haven’t noticed it for the past few nights, and have been getting decent sleep again. This does play into my theory that it might be a fan that someone is using on hot nights to help them sleep, because the weather has turned cooler for the past few days. I guess I’ll see if it returns again when the weather warms up again, as it’s forecast to do over the next week.

This morning I had the first lesson in a new session of my course on Creative Thinking and Board Game Design. Only one student, when I was hoping for more, but he’s a slightly older kid at 14, and seems very interested in what we were doing today. So I think this will be a fun and successful instance of this course over the next 5 weeks.

The new downstairs neighbours messaged today to suggest we meet up at 3pm on the grassy courtyard near our building. We got there first, and then they arrived a minute later. Their dog is a female cavoodle named Billie, and when she and Scully saw each other, they immediately wanted to go closer and say hello, with tails up. That’s a little unusual for Scully, who is normally a bit shy with new dogs, so that’s a great sign. The two of them played together on the grass while my wife and I chatted with the new neighbours – mostly about our dogs.

It turns out they know the previous tenants of the apartment they moved into. They’d met up at one of the local dog parks, and our previous neighbours had actually suggested to them to move in here after they’d moved out. Anyway, they seem very nice people, and now that Scully has met their dog Billie, this afternoon she was noticeably calmer when Billie made noise downstairs. It should improve more over time so Scully will be as relaxed as she was with the previous dog downstairs.

New content today:

The dreaded hiatus, and tidying up

After yesterday’s cogitation on the matter, I decided I had to take a brief break from making new Irregular Webcomic! strips, in order to get some higher priority things done. My buffer has run out, and I just didn’t have time today to photograph new comics – and I really want to reserve some time this week to work on other things. So I’ve officially declared a hiatus of at least one week, during which I’ll rerun old comics instead every day.

The work I need to get done, specifically, is to get cracking on the course notes for the university data engineering course that I’m helping my friend to redesign for the upcoming semester. We have a deadline near the end of February, so I need to schedule some time to do the work that the university is paying me for! This means comics have to fall by the wayside for a little bit, but hopefully it shouldn’t be too long. I’ll try and squeeze them in some time next week if I can.

It’s the combination of having to do this, plus restarting my online teaching stuff again this week, plus my wife starting work-from-home again last week due to COVID, that have all added up to a lot of distractions.

And there are of course other things that are usually too trivial to mention here that eat up parts of each day as well. Today I gave myself another COVID haircut, with a bit of help from my wife to tidy and even things up a bit after I’d hacked my own hair enough. And we gave Scully a bath – the first one since her groom just before Christmas.

Oh and we all went on a walk up to a doctor’s office for my wife to get her COVID booster. I’m booked in for mine next week, and I’m just trying desperately not to catch the disease before then. The case numbers are skyrocketing like crazy here in New South Wales at the moment, as omicron is defeating our currently relatively feeble attempts to control the spread.

Our government appears to have just given up trying to slow it down, and rather just hope that the hospital system can withstand the strain. Australia’s infection rate per capita is now above both the UK and the USA, for the first time in the entire pandemic. They said we had to avoid any further lockdowns for the health of “the economy” but apparently they didn’t realise that with so many people off sick the economy was inevitably going to suffer anyway. Supply chains for food have almost ground to a halt, and supermarkets are struggling to keep anything stocked. When I bought groceries last Friday, there were no oranges (which I wanted), and almost no apples, and short supplies of many vegetables. Reports this week, both from my friends who’ve been shopping and the media, say that supermarkets now have virtually no fresh fruit or vegetables left at all, and meat is in short supply. The shortages are expected to last at least another few weeks. We’ll see what’s left when I do the next grocery shop on Friday. Fortunately we still have a COVID lockdown pantry box with non-perishable food that could last us about 3 weeks if we absolutely had to.

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