Games and Indian dinner

Friday night was online board games night with the guys. I ate dinner at home so I could join in early this week. We played Dice Forge, Can’t Stop Express, 7 Wonders, Azul, Scattergories, Codenames, and Sketchful. And possibly something else that I’ve forgotten.

Most of the day yesterday and today I spent working on my current secret project. There’s a bit of a deadline on this, so it’s occupying a lot of my time at the moment, and there’s nothing I can really say about it.

Oh, Thursday night I had that ISO planning meeting. We were deciding if enough people were prepared to travel to Cologne to have a face-to-face meeting, or if we should convert it to a fully online meeting. I was hoping the agenda would be finalised as a three-day face-to-face meeting, so I could travel to Germany, attend the meeting, and then have several days free at the end to explore some of the Netherlands. On the other hand, if we cancelled the face-to-face and did a virtual meeting, I would reschedule our flights and we’d have a pure vacation trip a few weeks later.

Unfortunately we kind of ended up with the worst of both worlds. Enough people are planning to travel to make it worthwhile doing it face to face, but virtually all of the Japanese contingent are not travelling—probably restricted by their companies in ongoing COVID precautions. So to please them it was decided to have a hybrid meeting, and instead of 3 days of 9-5 meetings, it’s going to be spread out as 5 days of meetings from 12:00-17:00. This is bad for me, because now I have to spend 5 full days in Cologne, while my wife entertains herself while I’m in the meetings, and then we only have a few days left at the end for sightseeing before heading home. SO it’s less than ideal, but I guess we just have to make the most of it.

Tonight for dinner we decided to go to an Indian restaurant that is a bit over half an hour’s walk from our place. We took Scully there in her doggie backpack, and she walked all the way home. I tried a new dish that I’ve never seen before: pistachio chicken, which was very nice.

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Here comes the rain again

It’s cold and it’s rainy. We had a good run of 7 days in a row without rain, but it’s back, and the forecast is rain for at least the next 7 days in a row.

It stopped late in the afternoon and I took Scully to the dog park to say hi to everyone, since we haven’t been there for a few weeks. But when time came to do the traditional walk at 4pm, drops began falling, and there was heavy rain incoming on the radar – and I’d neglected to bring an umbrella – so we beat a hasty retreat back to the car to head home.

I finished off the ethics of farming topic today. And I worked on some secret project stuff.

Tonight I have a Zoom meeting to discuss the agenda and dates of the upcoming ISO Photography standards meeting in Cologne. That begins at 11pm, so I need to stay up late. This will finalise the dates for the Cologne meeting, so I can then book hotels in Cologne and onward into the Netherlands following the meeting. It’s also to decide if we will actually have a face-to-face meeting or will convert it into an online virtual meeting, but I expect we’ll stay with the face-to-face.

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Double writing day

It was a very busy day today. I had to write the ethics lesson for this week, on trial by media. Then I had to write a report on the ISO Photography standards meeting I attended back in February, to send to Standards Australia in time for our follow-up national meeting on this Friday. I should have done it a bit earlier, but I’ve been so busy that I put it off to this week. Those two tasks took a good chunk of the day. And then tonight I had three classes to teach, the last ending at 10pm! Thankfully from next week all the classes will be an hour earlier, since we go off daylight saving this weekend. (And I’m leaving the classes unchanged for most of the students who live outside Australia, so they’ll be an hour earlier by my clock.)

I also took Scully out for a drive at lunch time, because it was raining and I didn’t fancy a long walk in the rain. We went to the Italian bakery and I got some treats for me and my wife for dessert tonight, as well as lunch.

We had close to 60 mm of rain overnight, but it eased off during the day, being light for most of the day. Although this evening as I type it’s pouring down again. I added up the rainfall so far since the beginning of the year, and we’re not over the average annual rainfall for Sydney yet, but we’re getting very close.

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Super busy week: Wednesday

First cab off the rank today was travelling to the public school for my first face-to-face ethics class of the year. I got to the school and checked in, using the QR code and New South Wales Government app. This is similar to how we’ve been checking in to public places like shops for the past year and a bit, but I was surprised to find that checking in here opened a new page I hadn’t seen before, specific to schools. I had to answer additional questions about if I was feeling well, and if I was wearing a mask, and what the purpose of my visit was, and so on.

I got my class roll, and found I had been assigned 17 students. I ran into one of the other ethics teachers, and she told me that a lot of the Year 6 kids were away… following the Year 6 camp last week, apparently several have tested positive for COVID and were isolating at home. When I got to my assigned classroom, I found the teacher was away as well, replaced by a casual substitute.

I ended up with only 7 kids turning up – and 3 of those weren’t even on the roll! They said their parents wanted them to do ethics, but they got their forms in late. So 13 kids were away sick. It was actually a bit scary realising that so many of the kids in the school were sick, and here I was teaching a class of the ones who had come in today. I had to wear a face mask, but the kids didn’t. Honestly, I’m feeling a bit in two minds about continuing to volunteer to do this, while COVID is still circulating in the child population.

The other thing was I forgot to print out the lesson plan! So I had to run the introductory lesson from memory.

Back home, I squeezed in my daily run and stretching exercises, making a new loaf of sourdough, eating lunch, and having a shower before the ISO standards meeting began at 2pm. It was a full technical session day, discussing standards related to autofocus, depth sensing, and image file formats. That led almost right up to my first online ethics class at 6pm, but I had some time before that began to start making quiche for dinner. My wife had to finish that off while I was doing my class, and then I quickly ate a slice between classes 1 and 2, and then a second slice between classes 2 and 3. I finished at 9pm… and could finally wind down and relax a bit before bed.

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Super busy week: Tuesday

This morning I got up and took Scully out, then had breakfast, and then went for my run. I tried to get it in early before the rain closed in, because the forecast was for a lot of rain today. I managed to get that done. The sky was dark and thundery for several hours before the rain finally arrived around lunch time.

Then the rain pounded down most of the afternoon, very heavy at times with loud rumbles of thunder, interspersed with medium rain. It’s still quite heavy now, late in the evening.

From 2pm I had the ISO Photography standards meeting, held online. One of the first agenda items was to move the first technical session from late today to early Thursday, so we ended up doing only administrative things today.

Before the ISO meeting started, I had to complete work on the new ethics class for this week, since I’ve now moved classed from Thursday evenings to Tuesdays, to give me time to attend the university for the Data Engineering course on Thursdays. But this means I have a day less in between to write up the new topic (I was often doing it on Wednesday mornings). And since the first ethics class was hard up against the end of the ISO meeting, I had to get it completed before 2pm. (Although as it turned out I had a spare hour because of the agenda change, but I didn’t know that in advance.)

For dinner I made pizza, and topped it with pumpkin and some of the bunya nuts that we’re working our way through.

Bunya nut and pumpkin pizza

They’re not crunchy like walnuts, which is what I usually use, but added a nice subtle flavour and a different texture.

And finally, in about 10 minutes, I have the second ethics class of the evening. The topic is genetic engineering, which I think will be a good one. The first class went well, and I think the kids enjoyed it a bit more than the patriotism topic.

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Too busy for comics again

I have a very busy couple of weeks coming up, and unfortunately I’ve run out of buffered strips for Irregular Webcomic! Rather than try to squeeze in production of a new batch, I’ve declared this week another hiatus week, and am doing reruns instead. I hope to be able to make more comics in time for next week, but I’m not convinced that will happen, so we’ll have to see.

This week I have to concentrate on getting some more work done on the Data Engineering course for the University of Technology. The course starts next week on 24 February. The lecturer and I have weeks 1-4 mostly sorted, and I need to work on slides and exercises for week 5, while he works on week 6. I’m planning to work solidly on that tomorrow.

Today I finished off the ethics topic on Tourism with two more classes, plus an extension class for one student. I’ll also need to write the new topic on Patriotism for classes starting on Wednesday. And the other thing I had to do was sort out my schedule, because of clashes with the upcoming Data Engineering course.

Unlike last year when I did the tutoring work entirely from home, the university is opening up to face-to-face teaching again, and I’ll need to travel in to do the tutoring work. The class runs from 6-9pm every Thursday. The university is a 20 minute train ride and about 10 minutes walk away, so I’ll need to factor an hour to take care of contingencies and arrive on time, and I won’t get home until close to 10pm. So it clashes with my current two ethics classes on Thursday evening, which I’ve decided to move to Tuesday at the same times (currently my “day off”). So I had to write a note to inform the parents of all the students about the shift, and ask them to either confirm that their kids can continue on the new day, or look to transfer them to some other class time.

The other thing that will occupy much of next week is the next ISO Photography Standards meeting. It should have been in Yokohama, but we are still doing virtual meetings due to COVID travel restrictions. It’s on from Tuesday 22 to Friday 25 February. The good news is that it’s at a very reasonable time for my time zone this time, with sessions beginning at 2:15 pm and ending at 5:45 pm. And, incredibly fortunately, that only clashes with one Outschool class, which hopefully I can move to a different time. However the Thursday ending clashes with the time I need to leave home to be at the university for the first lecture of Data Engineering, so I’ve told the chairperson that I can’t attend the final technical session on Thursday, and he’s scheduled the session that I am least interested in for that timeslot. So it won’t be too bad. It’s definitely better than doing a Zoom meeting for four days after midnight! (Which will probably happen for the next meeting in June…)

Oh, and as if I didn’t have enough to do, I had an idea for a new class I could teach on Outschool: Philosophy of Science. Although I think I wouldn’t call it that – it needs a snappy name that won’t scare kids away. But the basic idea is a one-off class that teaches them about the scientific method, Occam’s razor, the fact that science builds models to explain observations, etc. Basically a primer on what science really is, and what it isn’t, to correct/forestall many of the popular misconceptions of how science works. I’ve recorded the idea for now… hopefully I’ll get to work on it some time in the not too distant future.

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Planning travel for 2023

I got an email this morning, from the convener of the ISO Photography standards committee, requesting feedback on a planning issue. We have a plenary meeting every two years, in which all of the different working groups get together for one big meeting. (Normally the digital photography and the other groups meet separately a few times a year each.) Anyway, the 2021 plenary was planned for Japan, but never happened because of COVID, and so it was decided to hold a plenary in 2022 in Japan – but now that has also been cancelled due to ongoing COVID travel issues. So now Japan is beginning planning to host a plenary meeting in 2023.

To this end, the email I got today asked me to fill in a form indicating which weeks were more or less convenient for me to attend. There was a list of 9 different weeks, ranging from the end of April to the end of June. And the request was to rate them all from A (most preferred) to E (least preferred). A 5 point scale!

I looked at my calendar for April-June 2023…. and surprisingly enough, it’s completely empty. So honestly it makes no difference whatsoever what week they choose. I even checked when the school holidays are, because it’s less convenient to travel when school is out, due to more families wanting to travel, but the nine weeks they picked line up exactly with the 9 weeks of second term, so there’s not even that to make any difference.

What else…? My wife and I did a long walk with Scully this morning. We started out and it was sunny. I put on sunscreen, and a hat, and sunglasses. But by the time we got home it was raining. It’s been a ridiculous summer, and there’s no sign of the rain and humidity going away.

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Ticking off tasks

I did a bunch of things today:

Picked up the groceries that I’d ordered online. I had a couple of weird mistake with my order. I’d ordered a tub of ice cream, which was missing. I’d ordered one packet of medium sized garbage bin liners for the kitchen waste bin – these are the right size obviously. But they also included two packets of large size bin liners, for no apparent reason. I have no use for these, but okay.

Prepared class notes for my private science class, to share with the student for Tuesday’s class.

Prepared a new course description on Outschool for an extension class for my ethics class. A parent has requested additional work on each week’s material for her son. I suggested I could send them my class notes with all of the questions, usually including some that I don’t get time to ask during the class, and he could write responses to them, and then we could go through them in a private follow-up class. This sounded suitable to the parent, so I went ahead and wrote and submitted a new class description to Outschool today.

I went through all my backlogged ISO Photography Standards emails. I had to send a bunch of emails and organise some administrative stuff. The next meeting we have is in the last week of February, so it’s coming up relatively soon, and there are some tasks for me to do as the head of the Australian delegation.

Tonight is board games night online with my friends. We’re currently playing King of Tokyo, which I always lose for some reason.

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Changes of plan

I had a busy day. I started by going to the supermarket to pick up the grocery shopping. I ordered online, but I’ve moved to only ordering items not including fresh fruit and vegetables, since I haven’t been happy with the selections we’ve been getting. Instead I quickly go through the fruit and vegetable section and grab my own selections, then pick up my pre-ordered groceries. It still saves a significant amount of time, and I get fruit and vegetables that I know I’ll be happy with.

When I got home I did some prep work for a Zoom meeting for the Standards Australia committee on photography, which began at 11am. This is the Australian committee follow-up to the international ISO standards meeting held in October. As the chair, I present a report on what happened at the international meeting for the benefit of the Australian members, and we deal with any other business that comes up regarding Australian standards. We have some ISO standards that have been adopted as Australian standards, which ISO has since updated with new versions, so we need to go through a process to update those. And we need to consider whether new ISO standards recently published would make sense for Australian industry.

After the meeting I grabbed some quick lunch and then picked Scully up from my wife’s work. We did some ball chasing in the park on the way home, and then at home I worked on some Darths & Droids comics for a bit.

Then I had two ethics classes online. My plans were to finish those and then head straight over to a friend’s place for Friday board games night. This plan was not to come to fruition. Instead, due to an alert from the government that affected me I spent the evening going up to the hospital with my wife so we could both get COVID tests. I had to inform my friends that I would not be attending games night, due to risk of spreading COVID. I believe the risk is actually very low that I’ve been exposed, but with the new omicron variant going around and apparently infecting people who are double vaccinated, I don’t want to be taking any risks whatsoever.

So that kind of scotched the evening. We ordered some Indian food in and enjoyed a good meal together at least. I expect by tomorrow morning we’ll have received negative COVID notification and all will be well, but it’s kind of disrupted this evening.

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Super busy week: Saturday

Today was the final day of the ISO Photography standards meeting, so I had to be up and ready to start by 7am again. The last day is easier as it’s administrative stuff and usually not technical discussion. In other business I suggested that we should establish formal liaison relationship with the W3C consortium, since they are doing work on defining a HTML canvas for display of HDR images, which is potentially overlaps with work we are doing on defining a format for HDR and wide colour gamut still images. We don’t want to be duplicating work, or worse, coming up with competing standards.

Once the meeting was over, I had to prepare for the 5th lesson of my course on Creative Thinking and game design. Because of student schedule changes it’s moved form Sunday to Saturday fo the final two weeks. I printed and cut out the Ruin the Wedding game, and played it a couple of times with my wife.

Ruin the Wedding, version 1

We discovered that it was far too easy to ruin the wedding, sending the bride home in disgust both times before most people even made it to the reception. There were also flavour issues with events written on the card that should really only happen at either the ceremony or the reception being playable when people were pretty much anywhere. So we brainstormed ways to fix these issues and the kids came up with some ideas that should work. I’ll make a new version of the game and we’ll do another round of playtesting and refining next week – and that’ll be the course done!

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