Scully’s 5th birthday!

Today was the Big 5 for Scully! (Not the big 5-0, just the big 5 🤣) She got a wrapped gift from our neighbours, which she had fun tearing the paper off, revealing a… llamacorn. Yeah, a rainbow coloured llama-unicorn toy. She got into it and gave it a good chew so that was a hit.

I slept poorly during the night. The COVID has moved up to resemble a bad head cold, with blocked sinuses and dripping nose. I could lie on my back without my nose running, but I’m a side sleeper and don’t feel comfortable lying on my back and can’t fall asleep that way. But whenever I rolled into a comfortable positions on my side, my nose would start running within a few seconds and I had to jump out of bed, grab some tissues, and blow my nose. Rinse, repeat.

The annoying thing is I don’t feel especially sick – under the weather certainly, but not a complete mess – but I just can’t get a restful sleep. I haven’t had a proper night’s sleep since I first noticed symptoms on Wednesday. Today I didn’t have any more feverish spells or hot sweats, so I think things are on the mend. I’m hoping I can really conk out and sleep soundly tonight. My sinuses are still badly clogged, but hopefully not as runny as last night.

I decided to cancel ethics classes tomorrow, and also for Tuesday and Wednesday, because now I’ve cancelled more than half a week, so I figured I should just go ahead and cancel a full week’s worth, and shuffle my topics forward a week so none of the students actually miss out on any of the topics. I’m almost certain I won’t be able to go into the university tomorrow to teach Data Engineering there either.

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COVID day 4

Still feeling pretty miserable, though the symptoms are at least an ever-changing cavalcade of new sensations. Today I woke up with my sinuses and ears blocked. The throat doesn’t feel as gluggy, overtaken by sniffling, nose-blowing, and a general stuffy head. Again the morning was easier, but I developed feverish chills and aching muscles again in the late afternoon. Definitely not a pleasant disease, this.

Today was the New South Wales State election. Fortunately I’d gone up with my wife on Wednesday to a pre-polling station and cast my vote then, so I didn’t have to go do it today. We’ve had a conservative government here for the past 12 years, and looking at the very early results being counted as I type, it looks like a foregone conclusion that they’ll be voted out.

I took Scully for a short walk in the morning while my wife went out to pick up an item she’d ordered. She didn’t tell me about this until she got home with it: It’s a gift for Scully for her 5th birthday, which is tomorrow. It’s a new dog bed sewn out of some of my wife’s old clothes.

Scully and her 5th birthday gift

The idea is that her scent is all over it, so it’ll be familiar and comfortable for Scully to snuggle on.

Tonight we ordered some Indian food for dinner. We almost never order food delivered, but seeing as I can’t go out to a restaurant and didn’t feel too enthused about cooking myself, we decided it would be a good idea tonight.

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Scully’s naughty adventure

Today Scully had a bit of an adventure. I took her for a walk at lunch time, up to the shops so I could get some lunch. When we come home, I usually let her off the lead just before we come into the apartment building. I did this, went to open the door, turned around, and she wasn’t there!

Near the front door is one of the ground floor units with a garden, and it has a gate in the fence. I noticed it was ajar…

Scully had wandered in and explored their garden! I didn’t want to go into their property so I was trying to call her back from the gate. Then the lady who owns the unit came in from the street. I’d actually seen her walking out as we came in – she must have just popped out briefly to do something and left her gate ajar. I said I was sorry but my dog had wandered in the open gate. She went in o find Scully, and looked all around the garden, while I waited at the gate. And then she went inside, because she had also left the patio door open, so Scully had gone inside!

She found Scully and shooed her out, and then I called her over. Fortunately this lady knows Scully and likes her, so she wasn’t upset and said it was all fine. But oh dear.

The other interesting thing today was the third lesson of my six-week Creative Thinking and Game Design course with my current student. Last week she said she liked Werewolf and Mysterium, and we brainstormed some game theme ideas, which ended up including “solving a murder mystery” as one idea.

This week I suggested an alternative twist on the theme: getting away with murder. All the players are murderers and have to try to avoid being found out. She loved the idea, and after some discussion of other potential themes, she decided that’s the one she wants to go with. So we’re now designing a game about getting away with murder! You may remember the previous times I’ve run this course, we ended up designing a game about ruining a wedding, and a game about having a family argument. Kids really like selecting the slightly perverse themes!

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Database problems and an early day

I didn’t write a post yesterday because the databases on my web server were running intermittently and I couldn’t access this blog. It seems better today.

Yesterday Scully had her grooming session at the dog groomer. My wife dropped her off but I picked her up. Though when I got there my wife messaged that they’d sent her a message that Scully wasn’t ready yet and would be another half hour. I read this message after I’d pulled up in front of the groomer, so I had a half hour to kill. Rather than drive home again and then back 10 minutes later, I went to the nearby home centre to browse around the shops for a bit.

We finally got home just after my wife left for a pottery class. She’s been doing a beginner pottery class for the past few weeks, and signed up for another few weeks to try it some more. She still hasn’t brought home any of the results, so I’m very interested to see them!

This morning I got up almost two hours earlier than normal, because my wife left to go to the first gym class of the day before work, and normally Scully just sleeps through until she returns home an hour and a bit later. But today Scully jumped up and was insistent to get up and go outside, so I had to get up and take her out.

I had to fill out a police background check form today for Outschool, for the annual renewal of that as a requirement to teach children. Fortunately I had scans of my passport and driver’s licence already, from when I did it last year, so it was pretty quick and easy.

Oh, and one of my students today in the USA said that there was an ice storm happening outside as we were doing the class. He looked out the window at one point and sad he thought a tree had just fallen onto their swing set! I said if anything happened and he needed to go he could just disconnect and go – no need to explain to me. But it was okay, at least until we completed the class. Pretty freaky stuff.

Yesterday I also took some photos of my bookshelves full of roleplaying game material, since people were posting them on reddit and Mastodon, so I thought I’d post my collection.

D&D books and other RPGS

This first photo is mainly Dungeons & Dragons stuff. The 1981 Tom Moldvay version of Basic/Expert D&D; Advanced D&D (1st edition); D&D 3rd edition; D&D 5th edition; a bunch of Goodman Games’ Original Adventures Reincarnated; Dungeon Crawl Classics and Mutant Crawl Classics; Call of Cthulhu 40th Anniversay Classic Edition; and a bunch of miscellaneous adventures and stuff.

Gaming books

This shelf contains some Kobold Guides; Star Wars Roleplaying (Fantasy Flight Games); Star Trek Adventures (Modiphius); James Bond 007; Goodman Games’ Crypt of the Devil Lich; and some D&D boxed sets.

GURPS collection, part 1

These shelves are almost all GURPS 3rd edition; with some Munchkin d20; and a Cthulhu Mythos Encyclopedia.

GURPS collection, part 2

And these are the rest of the GURPS 3rd edition books; GURPS 4th edition; some miscellaneous books; Toon; Delta Green; Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game (West End Games); Metamorphosis Alpha; Call of Cthulhu 6th edition; Paranoia 2nd edition; Blue Planet.

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Ferry trip for lunch

Today I decided to retry that aborted ferry trip that I attempted with Scully before Christmas. This time the ferries were running, so we managed to get to our destination: the suburb of Woolwich. It’s literally only one stop and two minutes on the ferry, but it’s across the Lane Cove River, so it would take a good 15 minutes or more to drive there.

Scully waiting for the ferry

From the Woolwich wharf we walked ten minutes up the road to the nearest cluster of cafes and the local pub to get some lunch. It’s up a hill with a good view over a large yacht dock towards the city centre.

Woolwich dock

I’d checked for a place to eat with Scully before we left, but the place I selected only had outdoor tables in the sun, and they were also doing some renovations which involved a loud drilling noise emanating from the interior which would have been unbearable if I’d sat there to eat. So we continued on a few doors down to another cafe, which had shady tables and no drilling noises. I had a chicken burger, which came with chips. I regret to say that it wasn’t very good: the burger was small and the chicken dry, and the chips were a bit cardboardy. The waitress asked me how it was as she cleared the table and I mumbled “it was good” as I avoided eye contact.

This prompted me to ask my friends on Discord what they do in the same situation, a poor meal and a query form the waiter. They all agreed they’d just kind of mumble “good/fine” and make a mental note not to go back to the same place, rather than actually tell the staff that the food wasn’t great.

Anyway, after eating, Scully and I walked back to the wharf to catch the ferry home again.

Woolwich wharf

In the above photo you can actually see our destination – the green headland on the left. As I said, two minutes on the ferry, but a significant driving distance.

This evening I had the first three classes of the new week’s ethics topic on medicine. I feel like this might be a trickier topic than I thought and I may have to tweak my lesson plan a little to encourage more discussion from the kids.

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Lunch in the city

Today was cold. Really cold for December in Sydney. The temperature didn’t even reach 20°C – it topped out at 19.9°C. It was also windy, and there were a few drizzly showers, so it felt even colder – the maximum “apparent temperature” was only 14.7°C. Don’t forget it’s summer here. We’re supposed to be having days over 30°C at this time of year. Today actually felt like the middle of winter.

Despite this, we had to venture out to the city for a birthday lunch for my brother-in-law. We took Scully in on the ferry. Here’s a shot I took as the ferry approached Circular Quay:

Rainy December ferry trip

We disembarked and walked south through the streets to lunch. We passed through Martin Place, the central square in Sydney, where the city’s giant Christmas tree is:

Martin Place Christmas Tree

Before heading to lunch we stopped off at Hyde Park so Scully could run on the grass a bit and do a toilet.

Scully in Hyde Park

We also stopped off at a game shop to buy a copy of the second edition of Camel Up, that I’d ordered from them a couple of weeks ago.

While we were in there, a woman and her daughter, about 12 years old, came in and the mother was asking the staff for assistance with buying some Magic: the Gathering cards for the daughter, who wanted to start playing the game with her friends. The staff gave some advice about various decks they could buy. After the staff had finished the mother and daughter browsed around a bit and I approached and said I’d overheard that the girl wanted to start playing Magic, and I said I had an old collection with hundreds of old common cards that weren’t worth my while trying to sell, so I could let her have them for free. The woman was extremely grateful and I gave her my email address so she can contact me to arrange to pick them up some time. I was happy to help, especially for a young girl who wants to get into the game.

We had lunch at a French place, sitting outside because of Scully. Although we were under an awning, the drizzle got us a bit wet, and it was very cold in the wind. The food was good – I had a burger and chips, and then waffles and hot chocolate for dessert, which were both really good.

After lunch we walked back to Circular Quay to catch the ferry home again. Scully had a fun day out, walking through the city and riding the ferry. This evening she’s completely exhausted!

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An attempted ferry trip

Having completed my last online classes for the year yesterday, I had time to do some other activities today. I decided to take Scully out for a trip on a ferry and have a nice lunch in another suburb.

Last time we took Scully on a ferry we used her doggie backpack, and staff said we had to have her in a fully enclosed carry container, so I got out a small pet crate form our storage and we drove down to the wharf at Greenwich Point. We got there ten minutes early and set up with the crate ready for me to put Scully inside as we boarded.

Scully waiting for the ferry

Twenty minutes later we were still waiting, with no sign of the ferry. I checked the Transport NSW web site on my phone and it said the next ferry wasn’t departing for another three hours! This was weird, because I checked the timetable before we left and the ferries are supposed to run at hourly intervals all through the day, with some extra services around peak hour. But evidently no ferry was coming, so we abandoned the wharf and took to the car again.

We drove over to Hunters Hill and got out there to walk around the shops and find somewhere to sit outside and eat lunch. I had pies at a bakery, followed by a small chocolate/caramel tart. Then I took Scully around a few blocks for a walk before we went back home. It wasn’t bad for an outing, but I’d been looking forward to riding on the ferries. When we got back home I checked the Transport NSW web site for any service disruption notices, and indeed there was one there. It turned out that ferry workers were holding a stop-work industrial action meeting today! The one day when I wanted to use the ferries!

This evening… I didn’t have my usual ethics classes. So my wife suggested we go out for dinner, since we didn’t go out last week. We walked up to the local shops and had dinner at the Greek restaurant. This is kind of a comfort food place – nice traditional, old fashioned cooking.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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