Vaccination and Doctor Who

One of the family got vaccinated today. It was time for Scully’s annual vet checkup and booster shots. Her appointment was at 2pm.

The daily COVID press conference by the NSW Premier was at 11am, so we watched that – 111 new cases in the last day, which is not good. They also announced a new set of lockdown restrictions. People living in the three worst affected local government areas (i.e. administrative areas covering roughly 20% of Sydney) are now forbidden from leaving home to go to work, unless they work in health care or emergency services. People with any other job cannot travel to work at all. My brother lives in the affected area, but I’m in a different part of the city.

They also announced that non-essential retail shops are not allowed to open, and released a list of what is considered essential: food, health, maternity, baby, and pet supplies; hardware, agriculture, and office supplies; banks, finance, and post offices. Every other retailer must close to shoppers – though they can offer online ordering. Additionally, all construction projects other than urgent repairs have been shut down, so construction workers will no longer be travelling to work.

These new restrictions last until 30 July, but may be extended if necessary. This is now, finally, slightly more restrictive than the lockdown we had at Christmas last year. Whether it’s enough to halt the spread of the Delta variant, we’ll have to wait another two weeks to see.

After the press conference, we went for a walk with Scully. The weather was sunny, but very cold and windy. The maximum temperature today only reached 14.6°C, and we had wind sustained around 40 km/h with gusts over 70 km/h, so it felt bone-chillingly cold. When we went out I thought we were doing a quick walk and coming back home, so I could have lunch before my wife took Scully to the vet. But it turned out she intended to stay out the whole time, and go to the vet on the way home! We ended up doing a huge walk – I think Strava tracked it something over 8 kilometres.

I left them near the vet just before 2pm and went home and had lunch. The vet is only doing contactless consultations. A nurse comes to the door and takes your dog, and you have to wait outside. It was like this last year too for her previous annual checkup. But the report was good, Scully is in perfect health, and has had her booster vaccinations.

Tonight my wife and I (finally) watched the last episode of the new Series 12 of Doctor Who. This is the most recent series they made, aired in 2020, but we missed it on TV, and have only now caught up on DVD. It took a little to get into Jodie Whittaker as the Doctor, but I really like her now.

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Organising recipes

First the COVID news: 112 new cases in New South Wales in the last 24-hour reporting period. The Government expects the numbers to keep going up for a few more days until the effects of the lockdown start being felt and, hopefully, bring them back down towards zero.

And in personal health news, my throat is feeling a lot better after the tonsillectomy. There’s just a little residual pain when I yawn widely, or move my tongue around to extreme positions in my mouth. But it’s still improving day by day and feels pretty close to back to normal. I think the coughing and phlegminess is reducing each day as well.

I worked on writing Irregular Webcomic! strips today, hoping to have a batch done in time to photograph tomorrow morning, but I don’t think I’m going to make it. It’ll probably have to be photography on Wednesday.

Something else I did was look into recipe organiser apps for my desktop machine. I’ve been collecting recipes using OneNote, which I use as a general note-keeping app for many types of information. It’s been okay so far, but it’s getting to the point where it’s difficult to find recipes, and I’m wishing for features such as search by ingredient and better categorisation using tags. So I’ve looked around and am currently trying the free version of Recipe Keeper.

I’m impressed with it so far. It’s not overly complicated or feature-bloated, but it has just the right set of features for organising recipes. There are three different groups of customisable tag sets. It imports recipes automatically from URLs from many popular recipe sites – and worked flawlessly for one I use a bit, the Australian site SBS Food. And it does automatic unit conversions from American units! No longer will I have to wonder what an “oz.” is. It also has a meal planner and automatic shopping list generator, although at this stage I’m not sure how much I’ll be using those features. I’m going to give it a few days, but I’m already thinking I’ll pay for the “pro” version, which gives you unlimited recipe storage and ability to synch to phones and iPads.

Oh, I was out walking Scully this afternoon when we met Billy, a 14-week-old toy poodle, black like her! He reminded me exactly what Scully looked like when she was a puppy!

Scully and Billy

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Baking and waking in the rain

First, today’s COVID news. NSW recorded 77 new cases in the last 24-hour reporting period, up 27 from yesterday. 33 of those cases were not isolating, so potentially infection in the community. And in very bad news, Australia recorded its first COVID-19 death of 2021. The screws continue to tighten with new restrictions and stern recommendations. It’s now strongly recommended not to go into supermarkets or food stores at all – if you possibly can you should arrange home delivery of groceries. On the current trajectory, officials are expecting over 100 new cases tomorrow, with numbers continuing to rise due to the delay between implementing stronger lockdown measures and reduction in case numbers.

My wife and I took Scully for another big walk today. We also tested out a new accessory, a K9 Sport Sack carrying backpack for Scully. The reason for this is that we’ve been using ferries to travel around the city with Scully, since you could take dogs onto ferries as long as they’re on a lead. Well, it turns out that the law doesn’t actually say that – it says you can take dogs on ferries if they are confined within a carrying container. The ferry crews have long turned a blind eye to this and not enforced the rule. But that changed from 1 July – the State Government has ordered ferry crews to begin enforcing the rule, and not to allow dogs on board if only restrained by a leash. Apparently this change of policy was precipitated by a complaint from a ferry passenger after being bitten by a dog.

M. and Scully

We were a bit concerned if Scully would like getting into the backpack, or if she’d struggle and try to wriggle out. We tempted her with peanut butter (one of her favourite treats) and did things slowly and gently, and she never protested once. And once clipped onto my wife’s back and we went outside, Scully positively seemed to enjoy being up there, looking around as we walked. So I think it was a positive experience for her and we’ll be able to carry her around in this backpack whenever we need to use some transport that demands dogs be confined. (Someone online checked specifically if these sort of backpacks would be acceptable on ferries and was told they are.)

At home I had a bit of a baking afternoon. I’ve been making my own pastry for quiches recently, but previously I’ve been neglecting to chill the pastry in the fridge before rolling it out. So today I made the pastry at lunchtime and stuck it into the fridge until dinner time. I honestly haven’t been very pleased with my home made pastry – it’s turned out to be very friable and sort of powdery/floury when baked. It handles well when rolling not too sticky or too crumbly, so I think the consistency there is good. I was hoping that the refrigeration before rolling and baking would fix the post-bake consistency, but no, it turned out almost the same as before. So I’m not sure what to do to make it hold together better after baking. Google suggests it might need a bit more water when mixing, but I really don’t want to make it any stickier during the rolling phase. I guess I’ll try it next time and see what happens.

I also put together another sourdough loaf, to be let rise overnight for baking in the morning. It’s amazing how much flour you go through when you’re baking stuff all the time! I’ve also been making an apple crumble about every 5 days for a warming fruity dessert for me and my wife. Normally she eats raw apples, but she’s decided that a nice warm crumble is more acceptable for winter night…

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Random task ticking

For my face-to-face ethics class at the school this morning, I’d been informed that the Year 5 students would be away at their school camp this week. My class is a combined Year5 + Year 6 group, with mostly Year 5s. So today I ended up with a class with just 4 students in it.

This was not bad, as such a small number makes it practical to let them off the tether a bit more, and devolve into spontaneous discussion of the topics without needing me to quell the chatter so much. All I needed to do was keep the conversation on the topic. And because I didn’t want the Year 5s to miss out on the conclusion of the moral responsibility topic that we’ve been doing for the past two weeks, I skipped to a different topic and discussed arguments with the kids today. As in the structure of a logical argument, and how the conclusion depends on the premises and on the logical connection between them.

We did get a little sidetracked on one of the examples:

Premise: Downloading music without paying for it is illegal.

Conclusion: Downloading music without paying for it is morally wrong.

Validity of the logic aside, the kids actually got stuck complaining about the first premise, saying that there are plenty of sites now where you can download free music legally. I’m pretty sure the intention of the exercise was that the premise be true, but that times have changed since it was written. I’ll have to submit a note to the curriculum organiser that the example should probably be changed to avoid kids going off on a tangent.

Today I intended to write a bunch of new Irregular Webcomic! strips. But I had a bunch of other little tasks to get done, and I ended up spending much of the day ticking those off. Random boring stuff like banking, and contacting the hospital to make sure they have all my data for the tonsillectomy next week. I’m not looking forward to that!

On a different topic, here’s Scully wearing one of her winter outfits:

Scully's winter outfit

The bandana is one made by my wife, and available on her Etsy shop: Scully xo.

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Back to golf

I’ve been holding off from strenuous exercise—and also golf, haha—for a few weeks due to a strained muscle in my abdomen, but it’s been feeling better recently to I decided today was a good day to try it out on the golf course.

I invited my golfing buddy to play at the short “par 3 pitch & putt” course we go to often. It was a bit busy today, with several groups going around the course. I hit my ball into the way of people playing other holes a couple of times, and had to signal them to make sure it was safe for me to play my stroke before they continued. One tee shot I hit actually landed on the tee mat for another hole! I had to take a free drop from there.

Anyway, I played pretty poorly, dismally in fact, scoring 10 more strokes than last time I played there. I did however sink a birdie putt, which was the highlight of the morning.

I did my usual thing on the way home, going via a favourite pie shop by the beach at Collaroy for lunch. I bought a beef and burgundy pie and a butter chicken pie, and walked to the beach to sit and eat while watching the waves and the sea birds, and the odd surfer. It’s such a nice thing to eat lunch outside somewhere with a nice view.

Back home I met my wife and Scully for a late lunchtime break and play in the park, after which my wife took Scully back to the office for the afternoon, until I picked her up about 4pm and we walked home. It’s a big day in Scully’s life, as today is the third anniversary of the day we brought her home for the first time as a puppy.

Scully 3 years ago and now

The first photo is 1 July 2018. The second is, well, not today but a week or two ago.

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Time with Scully

Today, being Saturday, my wife wanted to work on her sewing projects. Scully (our dog) likes to occasionally come up and request to curl up on people’s laps, but my wife being busy at the sewing machine and moving to cut fabric wasn’t able to offer a stable lap. So Scully settled for second best and came up to me, as I was working on making some new Darths & Droids comics. So she ended up curled up and fell asleep on my lap for an hour or two.

At lunch time my wife had an appointment up the street, so I took Scully for a long walk, doing a big loop that takes us past the good bakery, and down to Oyster Cove on Sydney Harbour.

Oyster Cove Scully

There’s a nice little park here that Scully likes. And it’s good for bird spotting. I recorded twelve species here in eBird today: Australian Brushturkey, Rock Dove (Feral Pigeon), Masked Lapwing, Silver Gull, Little Black Cormorant, White-faced Heron, Australian White Ibis, Rainbow Lorikeet, Noisy Miner, Australian Magpie, Pied Currawong, Welcome Swallow. And there’s a good view.

Oyster Cove Scully

On the way back we walk through a bushland area where there are some walking tracks. Normally we go one way, but Scully always looks interested in going the other way at an intersection, so today I just let her go that way and I followed. It’s a different route with a steep climb at the end, and leads to a street which we walk down a lot, so once there she knew where we were again. It was very interesting watching her following the track, and stopping every so often as if to try to figure out where she was, and then start walking again.

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Comics & Pizza

Today was knuckling down to the business of assembling Irregular Webcomic! strips out of all the photos I took yesterday. I had 24 strips to make, and powered through them starting as soon as my wife left for work in the morning, and finishing a bit after lunch. That’s a really fast pace, as I was pushing myself to complete the task before having to go pick up Scully for the afternoon.

As it turned out, Scully stayed at work for longer because not one, but two of my wife’s workmates also brought their dogs in today, so there were three of them at the office!

Workplace Wellbeing Officers on duty

That’s Scully, Ted, and Leo, from left to right. They played hard in the office all day, and Scully was dead tired by the time I got her home. Which is good!

For dinner tonight I made pizza. This time I tried about 1/4 wholemeal flour in the dough, as requested by my wife. It made the dough tougher to knead, but the final result turned out pretty well.

Tomorrow… is a special day and I have some very cool stuff planned. Which you’ll hear about tomorrow.

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Scully’s birthday!

More things held over from yesterday:

It was Scully’s 3rd birthday!

Scully's 3rd birthday

I spent some time with her running around on the grass and through bushwalking tracks on Georges Head, which overlooks Sydney Harbour.

Scully's 3rd birthday

She also had an evening play date with her poodle friend Luna next door (while I was at games night). And she got a new lizard soft toy to play with.

Oh, my wife made the bandana! She’s been getting into sewing dog bandanas, as I mentioned earlier to sell on my market stall, and has now just opened up an Etsy store. If you have a know a dog, check it out!

Changing topics, I remember an amusing moment from our game of Legacy of Dragonholt last night. At one point our adventuring party went into the bakery in the village of Dragonholt. The baker was described as a very muscular dwarf. One guy said, “How does a baker get muscles?” Both me and the other guy who got me into sourdough baking answered, “Kneading bread!!”

Today I didn’t do much other than writing new Darths & Droids comics. Oh, I fixed the door handle of our front door, which had become a bit loose. It just needed the cover plates taken off and some screws tightened. And, we went to dinner at a local place that specialises in salmon dishes, which was very nice.

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Multitasking Friday

So many things:

  • Took Scully for a long walk this morning to distract her from the fact that my wife was going to work without her. She gets upset if my wife leaves home and leaves her behind – but is okay if I take her out for a walk, and get back home and my wife isn’t here.
  • A bit later I took Scully to doggie daycare, which was the reason why my wife didn’t take her to work like usual.
  • Got home and started working on some comics.
  • Realised I was supposed to do the grocery shopping today! Raced off to the supermarket.
  • Had some sushi for lunch. Since I was out at the shops at lunch time now.
  • Worked some more on comics.
  • Went to pick up Scully from daycare.
  • Went out for dinner to the local pizza place with wife and Scully
  • Now doing inter-calary fortnightly games night online with the guys. We’re playing Draftosaurus.

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