COVID haircut

I was overdue for a haircut, having had my last one before all this COVID-19 stuff became serious. So I went to my usual barber today. asked how long he’d had to shut down for, and he said that they were open the whole time – barbers and hairdressers were considered essential services here in Australia and never had to shut down – however he had almost no customers come in in April or May.

At lunchtime I took Scully out for a walk to the fish and chip shop and got my lunch there. I often get a “lunch box” combo, which is pieces of fish, calamari rings, a crab stick, and chips, but this time I asked if they could do a variation and replace the chips with potato scallops. They did for no extra cost, and that was good, because they make really really good potato scallops there, and I like them better than the chips.

And then this afternoon I took Scully to the dog park for a run around and play with some other dogs. Another small dog kept grabbing her small-sized tennis ball – Scully is not very fast when it comes to chasing a ball. She will fetch and return a ball, but she doesn’t tear after it like some dogs do, and always loses the race if another dog decides to chase the ball I’ve thrown. This one today wouldn’t let it go either, and its owner had to chase after it and get it to drop Scully’s ball. Three or four times! Ah, the fun never ends…!

I also wrote a few comics and made vege burgers for dinner. And with my wife we completed our retrospective run of watching every Roger Moore James Bond film that we started a couple of weeks ago. We didn’t watch them in order, starting with The Spy Who Loved Me and finishing tonight with The Man With the Golden Gun. Some bad ones in there, but some fun ones as well.

New content today:

Scully blech

I didn’t sleep well last night, due to Scully getting up at 2am and being sick. Fortunately I grabbed her in time and took her to a wooden floor so she didn’t vomit on the carpet. She hadn’t eaten any dinner either, so it was all just stomach fluid. Something must have upset her tummy yesterday, putting her off her food, and then causing the vomiting.

I didn’t really get back to sleep properly after that. But fortunately by morning she had her appetite back and seemed bright and cheerful all day today. Hopefully she’s got it out of her system. My wife and I took her for a nice long walk, doing our usual Sunday morning loop, which we’ve skipped for a few weeks because it’s been raining a fair bit lately. Today was dry, but overcast and very cold, quite possibly the coldest day of the year so far.

I just looked it up… close. Sydney recorded a maximum of 15.4°C today, but we had a maximum of just 15.1°C on 2 June. Today was actually the second coldest day of the year so far.

New content today:

Un-catching up on sleep

I was hoping for another good night’s sleep last night.

On the weekend I bought a small bottle of chocolate liqueur, to flavour interesting cocktails. I decided to try it last night, duplicating a drink that my wife had a while back at a restaurant, called a “winter negroni”. It’s a standard negroni (equal parts gin, Campari, and red vermouth), with a splash of chocolate liqueur, to give it a chocolate-orange flavour. My wife liked it, and so I thought it would be a good drink to try mixing at home. So last night I had one, and it was indeed delicious.

I went to bed a few hours later. I could not fall asleep. I laid there in bed, unable to switch off my mind, and tossed and turned… all night. Until the sun came up. I did not get a single minute’s sleep. I was trying to figure out why, and went through everything I ate and drank, and there was nothing out of the ordinary… except that chocolate liqueur. And I realised that it probably has some caffeine in it. That would explain it.

I gave up caffeine about 25 years ago. I used to enjoy black tea, and Coca-Cola, but I realised through struggling with disrupted sleep that any caffeine after about 10am would result in me being unable to fall asleep that night. So at one point I decided it wasn’t worth it any more and just quit completely.

Not having had caffeinated drinks for so long, I think I’ve become more sensitive to it. I’ve cut way back on chocolate as well, because some years ago I noticed a strong correlation between eating chocolate in the afternoon and sleeping poorly at night. I love chocolate, but I basically only have it in the mornings now, and much much less than I used to eat.

Over the years, I’ve occasionally accidentally eaten something with caffeine in it, and suffered a restless night. I think that’s what happened last night. I had a yummy chocolate flavoured drink, and lost an entire night’s sleep. So… I guess that’s no more chocolate negronis for me. At least my wife can drink them.

In other news, today I took Scully for a morning play and exercise in the park across the road. At one point she got interested in something in the grass, and I walked over to see what it was. She was sniffing… a huge piece of steak! I gave her the “Leave it!” command and she obediently turned away from it. Thank goodness for training her with that command. I got a poo bag and picked up the meat. It was about the size of a coaster, and a centimetre or two thick – a good cut of meat, like you’d cook for dinner.

Now… A chunk of steak is not the sort of thing that somebody accidentally and innocently drops in a grassy park where dogs hang out. There have been several incidents of people in Sydney laying poisoned baits for dogs over the past few years, with several dogs killed. So I took this suspicious chunk of meat home and called the local council to report it. I asked if they wanted me to bring the meat in for testing. They said as it’s so far an isolated incident, that I should just dispose of the meat, but if I see any more, to report it again and they will launch an investigation.

I contacted my apartment block owners’ corporation and they’re going to notify all residents with dogs. I also posted a warning on a local social media site. And I went back to the park later in the day (without Scully) to look around to see if I could find any more chunks of meat – I didn’t find any.

Anyway, on top of a no-sleep night, that was a pretty crummy day.

New content today:

Getting back up to speed

I was up to 2am last night, with my ISO Photography Standards meeting, as explained yesterday. The meeting chair kept things moving and was meticulous with keeping discussion to time, so we didn’t go late, and the meeting ended as scheduled at 2am Sydney time (midday in New York City). By the time I brushed my teeth and otherwise prepared for bed it was about 20 minute past – an incredibly late night for me.

I woke this morning around 7am, since one late night isn’t enough to trigger a change of morning rising habit, so I didn’t get a normal night’s sleep. So now as late evening approaches, I’m pretty tired already…. but have to stay up again and participate in technical discussion until 2am all over again. I just have to keep the finish line of Friday night in mind.

Today I worked on a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips – the first new ones I’ve been able to make since I injured my hand. I didn’t have time to write a normal full batch of 20 strips (4 weeks worth), only managing to write 10 before I decided I had to go ahead and start photographing and assembling, because I need new strips ready for tomorrow night’s update when the guest strips sent by Chris Burke run out.

Normally I take the photos when my wife and Scully are out of the house, because it involves a big mess all over the living room floor as I lay out all my Lego boxes. However with my wife working from home at the moment due to COVID-19, it’s difficult to find such times. Fortunately today was Scully’s 6-weekly grooming appointment at the dog groomer. So I dropped her off and then rushed through taking the Lego photos while she at least was out of the house.

The dog groomer moved premises recently, and this was the first time we’d been to the new premises. It’s really nice, in a more modern building (the move was because the previous building is going to be demolished for redevelopment), with more space for the all the dogs in daycare. Scully was a bit nervous at first because she didn’t know what this new place was about, but as soon as she recognised the groomer she was happy.

Now, to kill another hour or so and then try to stay alert through three hours of technical standards work…

New content today:

Getting back to normal

Yesterday I tested my hand with driving by taking Scully to the dog park, with my wife in the passenger seat in case I decided I couldn’t continue with my injured hand and she had to take over. But it was okay, just a tiny bit sore.

So today I drove out by myself to the supermarket to do a weekly shopping. My wife’s been doing small grocery shops a few times a week while I’ve been incapacitated, and we figure with COVID still possibly out there it’s good to restrict it back down to one big weekly shop. I managed fine, although I tried not to carry the heaviest bags of stuff in my recovering hand.

Also today I modified the bicycle light that I’d bought to attach to Scully during night time walks. I put about 5 layers of masking tape over it, but the lights still shone through pretty brightly. So I peeled that off and used two layers of grey electrical insulation tape. Even through two layers of that, you could see the lights, but they were suitably dimmed. So we tried it out tonight went we walked up the street for dinner at a local Greek restaurant. It worked really well! You could see Scully nicely, even in the darkest shadows on dark streets.

And I completed the second last conversion of Imgur album to web page for another of my Sydney walking photo essays: The Coal Loader and Balls Head.

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:

Evil plots

Sunday morning saw another sleep in. I slept with my bandaged hand tucked under the quilt for the first time – it felt a bit weird but was okay. Better than resting my arm on top where it was cold all night the last few nights. The fingers are getting more flexible and stronger, and I can now type with two hands, although only using one finger on my left hand.

My wife and I went for another big walk with Scully this morning, though not as long as yesterday.

Scully on Berrys Bay

Well, that photo is actually from yesterday, but it’s nice so I thought I’d share it today.

This afternoon I spent dedicated to brainstorming and plotting more Darths & Droids story material, with some of my co-writers. We wrote almost 2000 more words of story notes, and now have a significantly better plan for how the story progresses through Episodes 7 and 8.

My wife cooked dinner again tonight. Pea soup, with fried halloumi as a vegetarian substitute for ham/bacon. It was delicious… and I’m not just saying that because I didn’t have to do any of the work. 🙂

New content today:

A very windy day

The weather continues to be wintry here, with cold, overcast, and very strong winds today. I took Scully for a walk and it was a bit blowy. We recorded wind gusts up to 46 km/h today.

Blowin' in the wind

I spent a lot fo time today uploading photos and writing web pages for some of my Sydney walks, as part of the process of transferring from Imgur albums to pages hosted on my own site. I also expanded the commentary a lot, doing some research into various buildings that I’d taken photos of. In particular, this walk through Greenwich (the Sydney suburb) ended up having a lot of new historical details added.

Tonight for dinner I made a vegetable quiche. I make quiches a lot, but generally just with one vegetable, like chunks of pumpkin, or chopped spinach. A friend made some quiches recently with a variety of roasted vegetables, so I thought I’d fancy it up a bit. Here’s what I did:

  1. Chopped potato, butternut pumpkin (squash for the Americans), onion, broccolini. Spread on baking tray, drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with rosemary. Baked 210°C for about 25 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile got some pre-made shortcrust pastry and put it in a pie dish. Placed it in the same oven after about 10 minutes, to blind bake for about 15 minutes.
  3. Placed vegetables in pastry shell, added chunks of feta, light sprinkle of salt, then poured over 3 eggs beaten with a bit of milk.
  4. Reduced oven to 190°C and bake 25 minutes.
  5. Yum!

Vege quiche 2

New content today:

More mission

Sunday morning walk time with my wife and Scully… we did what has become our routine walk around a loop that leads past a bakery and then down by the water where Scully chases a tennis ball on the grass. I’ve lost a few tennis balls over the years, accidentally throwing them into drains and stuff. Today I lost Scully’s ball by accidentally rolling it down a hill, onto the wharf, and through a tiny gap in the wooden barrier… plop! Into the harbour! So after that Scully was expecting me to throw the ball some more, but I couldn’t.

My wife suggested we always carry a spare ball. But that just means that inevitably one day I’ll lose two balls in one outing.

I wrote some more Darths & Droids stuff today – both background plotting info, and a new comic.

Oh, and I did a quick sketch response to the latest xkcd comic (2307):

continuum or binary

New content today:

Bad parring

We have a good method of making cheap chew toys for Scully. I buy a bunch of 100% cotton rope from the hardware store, cut it into lengths, and tie knots to stop it fraying. Scully loves playing tug-o-war with these ropes, and chewing them.

Scully's old play rope

A couple of days ago when I went past the hardware store I bought a new batch of rope. When I got it home I took the wrapper off… and oops!

Scully's new play rope

We couldn’t get it off her for a while! And just for fun here’s another photo fo Scully, from yesterday.

Scully with flowers

This morning I went to play golf with my friend, at the “pitch and putt” course where I first learnt to play. We did a rematch of the golf “skins” game we did a couple of weeks ago. Since I won that one with a handicap of 18, he suggested reducing my handicap to 16 for today. This meant that for the hardest 16 holes I only had to equal his score to win the hole, but for the two easiest hole I actually had to beat his score to win the hole. I thought he was still being generous after last time, but today I played poorly, and he won easily, 12 points to 6.

Here’s my best tee shot of the day.

My tee shot

Unfortunately I took two putts to sink it from there. Contrast my friend’s best tee shot of the day:

Andrew's tee shot

That’s my ball at the bottom. His ball is less than a forearm’s length from the hole. But that wasn’t the best shot we saw today. Another guy playing a hole near us scored a hole in one! I saw part of this shot, and the ball rolling on the green, but didn’t see it fall in the hole. However there was no mistaking it when people nearby exclaimed loudly and the man himself celebrated, and took a photo of the ball in the hole. So that was pretty cool.

New content today: