Homeless Ethics

Today was my first Ethics class of the new school term, the last term of the year. Just nine lessons to go until the end of the year and my kids move on to high school, and I get a new batch of Year 6s next year.

We started a new topic today: Homelessness. The first lesson today was really just talking about what homelessness is, and how being homeless might affect people – making them feel unsafe, unhappy, making it harder to eat healthy food, keep clean, etc. In the next two lessons we’ll be talking about what people and society can or should do about homelessness.

The teacher’s materials started with introducing the topic to the children with a short story, and then telling them we’d be discussing homelessness, and to tell them that some people in the class might know someone who has been homeless, and so to be mindful of that during the discussion. The teacher’s eyes only notes contained advice that this topic might upset some children, and to be aware of their behaviour and handle it appropriately (using our training materials). The discussion was going really well, and the children were a bit more engaged than usual – it’s clearly a topic that some of them had pretty strong feelings and ideas about.

Then one girl put her hand up, and when I called on her she said, “My parents told me that before I was adopted I was living on the streets.”

I don’t remember what I said in immediate response. I had to handle this sensitively and keep the class both moving on with the topic and from harassing this girl with inappropriate questions. I must have said something sensible because we managed to move on with the discussion. Fortunately the girl didn’t seem upset in any way – I guess it’s a fact about her past that she’s already internalised and become comfortable with. So that was an interesting revelation – I had no idea this girl was adopted before.

The other good thing about today’s class was another girl who is usually very quiet and says nothing volunteered to answer a question, and gave a very well-considered response. I had this girl in my Year 4 class two years ago and she was similarly quiet. I feel her thought processes are not as rapid as most kids her age, but since then she seems to be gaining in confidence and ability to absorb and discuss a topic. It’s really wonderful to see her develop and become more intellectual in this way.

After my class, I took a long walk home, detouring past the new location of a kitchen supply shop that used to be near us, but recently moved. They had a normal sort of retail store before, but now they’ve moved to an industrial area and are operating out of a warehouse. It was hard to find – I walked past the building twice looking for any signs, but saw none, then finally had to go knock on a door and ask the woman who came to answer it. When I said I was looking for Kitchen Kapers, she directed me to walk around to the back of the building, through the car park, where I found the place with a giant open garage door and no signage whatsoever. I had to confirm with a guy that they were open for retail sales, which they were. Given my recent experiences with shops in industrial areas, this was relatively positive. I didn’t end up buying anything though.

This afternoon I drove across town to pick up some super cheap second hand golf clubs that I won on eBay. Andrew C. has been suggesting I move up from playing a “pitch and putt” course to a full length golf course. I’m keen to try, but needed some clubs suitable for a beginner without a job. The ones I picked up have seen some heavy use, but should do the trick. We’re planning to go play a round of the short course on Friday, followed by some driving practice at the range next door, so I can start to get a feel for hitting with more power.

New content today:

Bread and Codenames

Saturday – more housework! After cleaning various things this morning I got stuck into writing some new Irregular Webcomic! scripts. I want to get another batch made next week if I can, and then complete another batch before I leave for my trip to Germany at the end of October. I wrote about half the batch today – hopefully I’ll have time to finish it off tomorrow.

It was approaching lunch time and I was getting hungry, so I checked the kitchen. We had 2/3 of a loaf of bread bought from the supermarket on Thursday, so I planned to make myself some sandwiches. I grabbed the bread… and noticed that the plastic bag had a large hole in it at the bottom end. Ragged, like it had been torn open. And a big chunk of the bread inside the hole had been… eaten away. It looked like mouse or rat damage.

Now I’m pretty sure we don’t have mice in the house, and we store the bread under a plastic cake cover so there’s no way anything could get in. So this must have occurred at the supermarket, and we just didn’t notice it until now. My immediate problem was that this left me with nothing straightforward to eat for lunch. (I wasn’t going to eat slices of a loaf that’s had mice/rats chewing on it.) So I took the rodent-gnawed loaf and went for a walk up to the supermarket to exchange it, and to buy some lunch on the way. I got sushi. The supermarket exchanged the bread for a new loaf with no issues, and the woman I spoke to said she’d show the damaged loaf to the manager.

This afternoon: more comic writing, distracted a bit by wondering if I have a Lego Boushh or not, and how much it would cost to acquire one (about $35 it turns out – too much for one comic). Then I watched Australia’s first game in the Rugby World Cup in Japan, as they played against Fiji in Sapporo. Fiji got off to a good start and led the scoring until the 62nd minute, when the Aussies finally pulled ahead – and from there the Fijians were visibly fatiguing while the Aussies stormed all over them, scoring multiple more times to win comfortably in the end. Our next game is against Wales next weekend.

After the game my wife and I took Scully to the park for some exercise. We’re trying a new training treat: tinned salmon, which she gets a morsel of for successfully responding to our call to “come here”. She obeys that one reasonably well, but not if she gets distracted by something, so we’re working on strengthening it. The good news is she likes the salmon, and was very keen to “come here” to get some.

This evening I played some games of Codenames Duet with my wife. We lost the first game when I guessed an assassin card. Here’s the layout midway through the second game, where we’re going better:

Codenames Duet

At this stage I had to clue to my wife MARATHON, ST PATRICK, WEREWOLF, and MONKEY. I considered “hairy” for WEREWOLF and MONKEY, but was stymied by the presence of BEARD. I plumped for “person” to clue ST PATRICK and WEREWOLF, which thankfully worked, and after that it was all downhill to the finish, as we won it handily. So 1 loss, 1 win.

New content today:

Golf

Andrew C. invited me to play golf again this morning, at the same par 3 course we went to 4 weeks ago. We started early, before 9am.

Terrey Hills Par 3 Golf Club.

The weather was fine and warmer than it has been the past couple of weeks, so it was pleasant walking around in short sleeves and shorts. This was only my third time playing golf, and I was hoping to improve on my 92 from last time, but I had a couple of terrible holes, losing a ball, and getting stuck in a sand trap for several strokes. It was the first time I’d really had a serious attempt at extracting a ball from the sand, and it took me a while, but I eventually got the swing right and ejected the ball. I managed par on just one hole, compared to two last time, and my final score was 95, three strokes worse than last time.

However on what was ranked the most difficult hole of the course (I think because the green is very shallow, and overshooting it at all ends up with a ball lost out of bounds), both Andrew and I did very well – both our tee shots landed on the green, and I was actually closer to the hole:

Tee shots

Unfortunately my putting let me down and I ended up with a 4. I kept track of my walking using Strava while we were playing, and the map is fascinating. You can see the route I took through the 18 holes of the course, punctuated by a visit to the clubhouse toilets after the first 9. You can see the amount of back and forth across the greens on some of the holes, where I kept overhitting the ball! And the hole shown above is hole 12 – you can see the hole numbers if you click through to the larger image.

Par 3

After we’d finished, I drove home and picked up some pies for lunch on the way. I took them down to Collaroy Beach to eat while sitting on the grass and looking out over the beach.

Lunch lookout

So it was a very pleasant morning! The afternoon began with me getting home and walking up to the dentist, to have the crown fitted after last week’s preparation. Not so pleasant, but fortunately it seemed to go okay. It didn’t require any anaesthetic, which is good, because I avoided having my mouth numb for the next few hours.

Nevertheless, I’d planned to make soup for dinner tonight just in case. I made a curried potato and lentil soup. Unfortunately, when I went to blend it into a nice smooth puree, my stick blender refused to work. It’s been a bit dodgy for a while and it finally gave up the ghost. So I had to mash the soup by hand and it ended up a bit lumpy, but my wife said it still tasted good.

New content today:

Games day

Updating Saturday morning because I was busy Friday night. It was a day dedicated to games!

Andrew C. is an experienced golfer, and a few months ago invited me and another friend to try playing a par 3 “pitch and putt” course. We had no experience hitting a golf ball, and it took us a while to start to get the hang of it, but I managed to hit a few half-decent shots (as well as losing two balls). Yesterday Andrew and I went to try the course again. The 18 holes have par 54. Andrew scored 61, while I managed 92 (better than my first effort). I tied one hole with Andrew, and won two holes. My technique is still terrible, but improving! Here’s a photo of one of my best shots of the day. These are our balls after our tee shots on this hole: mine is nearest the hole, Andrew’s is in the foreground. Unfortunately I didn’t sink the putt for a birdie.

Tee shots

After that we grabbed some lunch at a Japanese place and had a bit of a drive along the beachy coast to head home. All up, a good morning/lunch time. Although it’s still the depths of winter here the day was sunny and warm.

And Friday evening was our fortnightly board games night. We had 5 people, which is a little on the low side, but enough for plenty of games. We started early and had a writing session for Darths & Droids, writing four strips before moving on to the games.

We played a quick game of Ingenious to warm up, then when our host’s daughters arrived home from dance lessons one of them joined us for a game of Junk Art, which was a lot of fun. We liked that one because Steven – who is the most serious game player and strategist and hence who often wins games of strategic skill – needed to use dexterity skills instead, and so most of us beat him!

After the girls went to bed, we started a game of Power Grid, with the Italian map board. I got off to a reasonable start, but by the time we’d estimated the game would finish we were still clearly only about halfway through. It was getting late and I’d promised my wife I’d be home by a certain time, so I had to leave mid-game. The others continued, playing me as a robo-player by making reasonable decisions for me in my absence. And I ended up coming second! So that’s pretty good.

New Friday content: