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

New content today:

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.

New content today:

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!

New content today:

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.

New content today:

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.

New content today:

New Year’s Day 2022

My wife got tired and went to bed early last night. I stayed up a bit later, but still went to bed and finished reading before midnight, although I heard the fireworks going off before I drifted off to sleep.

This morning was a brand new year. It was a moderately warm, but cloudy day. I took Scully out a couple of times, and in between I worked on Darths & Droids comics. I did a bit more random housecleaning stuff, though nothing as major as the last two days. I baked some sourdough. I made enchiladas for dinner.

And we worked with Scully and her Picasso Paws art kit that she got for Christmas!

Scully using Picasso Paws art kit

You place blobs of paint on a small canvas, then seal it inside a ziplock bag which has been smeared with peanut butter on the outside.

Scully using Picasso Paws art kit

The dog then licks the peanut butter, smearing out the paint on the canvas inside the bag.

Scully using Picasso Paws art kit

When done, cut and peel off the bag, revealing the artwork!

Scully using Picasso Paws art kit

It was a lot of fun, especially for Scully, who loves peanut butter. And painting.

New content today:

Brainstorming a new thinking course

I’m operating on very little sleep today. Scully woke up about 2 am, retching, and I heard it and jumped up to get her to a relatively easy to clean spot before she vomited. After cleaning up, I tried to go back to sleep, but Scully had another bout of retching, although this time nothing more came out. Then she wanted to go outside, so I had to get dressed and take her out to the grass. I waited quite a while in the cold winter night while she chewed on some grass. I thought she might toilet, but she didn’t, and eventually I coaxed her to come back inside.

A bit later, before I’d fallen asleep again, she started retching again, bringing up a few blades of grass. She continued being restless and attracting attention, including wanting to go outside again about 5 am. So I got to see a bit of the sunrise, though I never got back to sleep again. Scully refused to eat any breakfast, and spent most of the day refusing to eat and acting lethargic.

Thankfully by this evening she’s perked up again and she ate her dinner with gusto, so whatever had her tummy upset seems to have passed without further incident. Hopefully she’ll sleep through tonight and we can catch up on sleep.

For lunch today I walked over to the fish & chip shop with Scully, then took my meal out to the lookout over the harbour. The lookout spot is usually empty, but this time there were a few other people sitting there. I grabbed spot on the terrace at the stop of the slope, with the others on the seats behind me. There were two ladies there, I estimate around 70-ish. I overheard some of their conversation:

Lady 1: Do you want to go see Spider-Man: No Way Home?
Lady 2: I forget what happened in the last one. Was that the Spider-Verse?
Lady 1: No, that’s a different story. In this one Spider-Man saved the world but revealed his secret identity, and now everyone blames him for what happened. So in this new movie he goes to find Dr Strange to reverse people’s memories.
Lady 2: Oh, sounds good. I liked Idris Elba – he was the one with the eye patch?
Lady 1: No, that was Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.

This afternoon I worked on a course outline for my planned Outschool course on creative thinking. After giving it some thought and hacking around with the structure, I’ve written a full description for all 6 classes in the planned 6-week course. I’ve run it past some friends, and it’s almost ready to go. The last step is to make a graphic, and then I can put the whole thing up on Outschool for approval as a new course. Not sure if I’ll get to that tomorrow, as I still have to write this week’s new ethics class notes.

New content today:

Down at the wharf

Today was fairly routine. I picked up my grocery order form the supermarket, and again stopped to buy three punnets of super cheap strawberries, like last week. I made some comics. I did a couple of ethics classes.

At lunchtime I went for a walk with my wife and Scully, down to a nearby wharf.

Scully at Greenwich Wharf

She’s so photogenic.

Scully at Greenwich Wharf

She’s looking very shaggy at the moment, because it’s been a long time since her last groom. She’s booked in for another on tomorrow.

Tonight is the regular fortnightly games night with my friends. We have a special treat tonight, in that one of the guys has written a trivia quiz for the rest of us to play. We’re going to divide into three teams and fight it out for trivia supremacy.

New content today: