Explaining the weather

It rained heavily overnight, but had cleared by morning. It was a warm, sunny day, but there was a chilly breeze coming in off the harbour, which we noticed during a lunch time walk with Scully around the Greenwich peninsula, which involved walking along the water in many places.

At home I upgraded my Mac to MacOS Ventura. I’d been putting this off because I didn’t want to do it on a day where I had Zoom classes, lest something go wrong. Some past upgrades have taken a couple of hours or so, so I set it up to begin before we went for our lunch walk. But it was pretty quick, and done in about 20 minutes with no dramas, and the computer was ready even before we left for the walk.

Much of the day I spent working on my lesson on weather for tomorrow’s science class. I found a really cool diagram showing different cloud types on Wikimedia Commons, which I felt compelled to share here:

Cloud Atlas of cloud types

It’s available there in much higher resolutions, so click through if you want to see it in detail.

In cooktop news: I made roast vegetables for dinner tonight. I prepared the potatoes (regular and sweet) by parboiling them first with a pinch of baking soda, to roughen up the surface so they absorb the oil and bake nice and crispy. After ten minutes, I wondered why the water wasn’t boiling, only to discover that the gas had been one the whole time without being lit.

This is a very rare occurrence – I can probably count on the fingers of one hand how often I’ve done this in over 20 years of living here, but it was annoying and a bit worrying. One problem is that I can’t smell gas leaks. The ethyl mercaptan that they put in the gas specifically so that people can smell leaks happens to be a chemical that some significant fraction of people are genetically incapable of smelling, and I happen to be one of them. Anyway, the kitchen window was wide open, and I turned on the rangehood as soon as I realised what had happened, and no harm done. But, add another reason on the side of converting to induction cooking.

Oh, another thing I completed today was converting my travel diary from our road trip to Orange back in September into HTML format and uploading it to my website. I added a map of the route and the distances driven (recorded from the car odometer), and you can see the result here. I still need to insert photos to illustrate it… which I’ll get to at some point.

New content today:

Final marking of projects

More image processing marking today…

I powered through the second half of the student report sand videos and assigned marks for them all. Then I had to spend a half hour or so pasting all my comments and entering the marks into the university’s grading system. Although the students work in teams and I only had 7 teams to mark, I have to paste all the comments individually into each student from each team, so it’s a huge amount of copy-pasting. Then I mailed the professor to say I’d done, and to pass on some comments for specific students that he may want to investigate further to adjust marks if he deems it necessary.

I finished all this… about 9:30pm, following my two usual Sunday evening ethics classes. So it’s been an exhausting day.

Oh, it was also very windy today. Gusts reached 85 km/h in Sydney. I had the windows open for fresh air, but closed them halfway through the day because it was so tiring listening to the wind. I went out for a 2.5k run at 6pm, and I saw this:

Fallen branch in high wind

The wind had broken a branch off a huge liquidambar tree, and the branch had fallen onto the power lines. The leafy end of the branch is tangled in the power lines as you can see, while the bottom end is on the ground. I kept my distance and reported it to the electrical grid authority, who dispatched an emergency response crew right away to deal with it.

New content today:

Marking final projects

Today was dedicated to getting stuck into marking of the final reports for the university image processing course. I have a bunch of 40-odd page reports to read through, and 20-minute video presentations to watch, and then decided how to allocate marks in a bunch of scoring categories, and also write up comments for the students.

I got through about half of the reports and videos today, and hopefully I can finish the other half tomorrow.

I took some time out at lunch to get some fresh air on a walk with my wife and Scully. And we went out to get some pizza for dinner at our favourite local Italian place.

And that was about it for Saturday!

New content today:

Final image processing tutorial

Two teaching endings today:

It was the last on-site tutorial for the university image processing course. I went into the city for an early dinner at a Thai place near the uni and had some pad Thai, before showing up for the tutorial at 6pm. There were only a dozen or so students on site at the university – the rest of the 200 or so in the class electing to work from home and collaborate with their teams online. I answered a few questions from some teams on MS Teams, but there wasn’t much to do, so the lecturer and other tutors had a bit of a chat while waiting for the on-site students. They had a few questions, but eventually departed, adn we could head home a bit early.

This is the last official tutorial for the course. The students submit their final report on Friday, and then a video presentation early next week, and I have to mark them. Then that’s it until next year, when I’ll likely be doing the data engineering course again in semester 1 and image processing again in semester 2.

The other ending was the last three Outschool classes on Monsters. I completed the survey of the kids on that crucial question: Is a mummy a type of zombie or a different thing? The results:

A type of zombie: 17
A different thing: 17
A zombie is a type of mummy: 1

An exactly even split between the two answers I was hoping to disambiguate! And one kid went for the original answer of reversing the relationship.

I also have this screencap to share of how I appeared in Zoom while teaching this week’s lesson on monsters:

Halloween Zoom

Some kids, when they arrived in the Zoom session, flinched back when they saw me! But nobody was too scared, and some of the kids thought it was hilarious. I didn’t actually keep the mask on for the whole lesson, as it was hot and a bit difficult to talk through the mask. In one case when I took it off, a couple of the kids said I was scarier without it! šŸ¤£

The other thing of course is that today is Halloween. This never used to be a thing here in Australia. When I was a kid, Halloween was just “a thing Americans did” that had no impact whatsoever here. It started slowly taking off in Australia maybe around 2000, and now it’s fairly common for people to decorate their houses to indicate that they are willing to accept trick-or-treating kids. It hasn’t reached full penetration – around where I live, maybe only one in ten houses are decorated. But heading to the station to catch my train into town I saw a couple of kids dressed up, including a girl in a bright red witch outfit. And there were a handful of people I saw in the city dressed up in costumes.

New content today:

More marking…

Most of today I spent hunkered down, reading through student assignments and assigning marks for them. I had seven teams’ reports to read, on various image processing project proposals. They have to describe the problem area they’ve chosen to look at, describe suitable datasets they’ve found or collected, describe suitable image processing methods and techniques that they plan to implement, and describe what performance evaluation metrics they will use and why they are appropriate.

There was an interesting range of proposed projects, but I won’t mention them here (as it’s possible some students may find this blog). I completed the marking after a full day of work, just before dinner. Phew! It’s good to have that job completed.

That didn’t leave much time for anything else, other than my one ethics class this morning, and taking Scully out for a couple of walks.

New content today:

Marking, running, teaching

I had a few things on today. In the morning I went to the school for my volunteer face-to-face ethics class. We were finishing off a short two-week topic on Fatalism. Last week the kids were a bit rowdy, talking over each other a lot and requiring me to intervene to get them to speak one at a time. This week was better. But an amusing thing happened.

In my class there is a group of four girls who always sit together. Let’s call them April, May, June, and Julie (not their real names). April is the joker of the group, and tends to butt in and talk over other people a bit. She gives good answers, but is prone to just blurting out her thoughts rather than raising a hand to speak. May and June are more serious, but also get involved when April starts talking uncontrollably, and the three of them often devolve into discussing the topic amongst themselves, resulting in me having to quiet them down so that one student can speak at a time. Julie is super quiet. She never answers questions. I don’t think I’ve ever heard her speak at all. (This is perfectly fine, by the way. In our training we’re told that there are often students who never volunteer to speak during class, and we are not to call on them unless they express a want to speak. They can listen to the others and absorb the content and still get a lot out of the class.)

So anyway, today I asked a question and there were some answers by kids raising their hands and speaking in turn, and then April called out and started saying something, and May and June joined in, and soon the three of them were talking about the question among themselves. I had to get them to stop chatting so we could get on with the class. I called out their names individually: “April! May! June!” and while I was doing this I saw that Julie was saying something quietly to June, though I couldn’t hear it. So I also said, “Julie!”

The reaction was immediate. April said, accusingly, “What did Julie do?!?!” She clearly knows that Julie is quiet and inoffensive.

I said, “Well, she’s hanging out with you three.”

And April answered, “Oh, guilt by association. Fair enough.”

She genuinely got me laughing. These are actually pretty good kids – none of them are actively mischievous. They just get a bit carried away with the topic and discussion sometimes. Since the start of the year we’ve developed a bit of a rapport, and I think they enjoy the classes I teach, so this exchange was all done in a bit of a joking way. I suppose if I was their regular class teacher, I’d need to keep things a bit more formal, but I feel like since I’m only with them for 40 minutes every week, I’m allowed to be a bit more casual and friendly with them. Especially since the class is always done with us sitting in a small circle, on their classroom chairs, so I’m sitting at their level on the low children’s chairs, so it feels more intimate than a typical classroom setting.

So yeah, it was a fun class this morning.

Back at home I started work on marking the first assignment of the university image processing course. I have reports from 7 groups of students to read and mark. I read through and marked two of them, and will do more tomorrow.

I took a break to go for a run. Today I decided was the day for a longer one, so I ran 5k instead of 2.5. The weather was warmer, and humid, so it was a bit enervating. I took it a bit easier and ran slower than last month’s 5k, so my time was about 30 seconds slower. I’ve decided that I only really start to feel good about running after having a shower afterwards.

New content today:

Full and busy Monday and Tuesday

I skipped an update yesterday because I was too busy. I had three online ethics classes first up, finishing at 1pm. Then I took Scully for a walk, and came home and started working on my lesson for the new week of ethics beginning on Tuesday. The topic this week is Risk, so I did a bit of research into related topics, such as micromorts, risk itself, and risk compensation.

I didn’t have a lot of time to work on this because around 3pm I had a shower before getting ready to leave for my tutoring job at the university. I had to leave earlier, before 4pm, because my wife has started a new job and I needed to take Scully there to her office and drop her off (the new job is again in a dog-friendly office), before hopping on a train to the city. Taking Scully involved a half hour walk, past two train stations away form the city, so I ended up further away that and had to ride two extra stations compared to just leaving from home.

Once I got in, I grabbed a quick dinner: nasi lemak with beef rendang from a Malaysian street food place near the university. And then went to the lecture room for the tutoring. This week students were working on their first assignment, which is writing up plans and specifications for their image processing project. It’s due on Friday, so a lot of groups had questions and needed assistance, which is what I was there for. The sessions are scheduled from 6-9pm, but when regular lectures were on we usually finished early, so I got home not too late. But this time students hung out right up to 9pm, and I didn’t get home until almost 9:45.

By the time I dealt with evening chores and unwound a bit from the day it was after 11, so I went to bed and left this update to today.

This morning I got up and had to finish the lesson plan for the Risk topic. In between I took Scully out for a couple of walks, and also worked on an online puzzle competition with my friends, the EC Puzzle Hunt. And then tonight I just did the first three classes of the Risk topic with kids. I feel like this is a good one for discussion, and interesting as they learn some sense of gauging comparative risk of different activities.

New content yesterday:

New content today:

Start of daylight saving

I’ll be quick today, because it’s already an hour later than it was at this time last week. Daylight saving started here this weekend, and my 7pm class moved to 8pm because I run it at the same time for students in Asia. So over the summer I finish quite late on Sundays now.

I worked mostly on more slides for my photography engineering presentation. I’m getting there… nearly done. Hopefully I can finish tomorrow. Then I’ll need to send it to the lecturer to make sure it works on a Windows machine. Especially the equations, which I know from experience in the past tend to get munged doing that moving from MacOS.

New content today:

Scully’s first puppuccino

We decided to go out today and try to find a god place to have some scones or lunch or whatever. The forecast was again gloomy, so I nixed my wife’s idea to walk into the city across the Harbour Bridge, as that’s over an hour’s walk each way and I didn’t feel like doing that in the rain.

I did some searching and found a place at a plant nursery further north, in more outer suburbs. It had a cafe which advertised as dog-friendly, and even had a doggie menu, with things like sausages, scrambled eggs, bacon, and puppuccinos. So we booked a table for an early lunch and drove out there.

We arrived early, so spent some time looking around at the plants and garden accessories, and the homewares stuff that was inside the building. We got a nice sheltered table. It was pretty much indoors, but the roof had open ventilation and the floor was exterior paving tiles, so I guess they could legally claim it was an outdoor space so they could have dogs present. There were a few other people with dogs there too, finishing up late Saturday breakfasts as we arrived at the turnover to lunch service.

I got a spicy burger with jalapeƱos and mustard, which was pretty decent, and a chocolate milkshake. Scully got a puppuccino – her first one ever! I guess she’s a grown-up dog now. It was basically some sort of frothed lactose-free milk, with some coloured sprinkles on top.

Scully's first puppuccino

She really liked it! But being a little dog she could only finish about half of it.

This afternoon I spent more time working on slides for my photography engineering presentation. I had to wrestle with Matlab to produce a whole bunch of diagrams, which took some time to code and debug, but I’m pleased with the results. I think I’m more than halfway done now – at least I hope so, since I’ll have too many slides otherwise!

New content today:

Back to work Monday!

Today was another day off from my online ethics classes, since I wanted to skip a full week to keep the various classes on different days in synch. I’ll be back into that tomorrow with a new topic (which I’ll talk about tomorrow).

Instead, this morning I scheduled a one-off science lesson on human vision and colour perception, and one of my regular ethics students signed up for it. So I did that class in the morning. And this evening I am back at the university for the next lecture in the image processing course. Today we get the students started on their assessment projects, in which they choose their own image processing task and attempt to do it, then report on what they discover.

During the day I had some work to do on comics to get back up to date with new strips to be published this week (after my time off last week). I also baked some sourdough rye bread, and started work on the lesson notes for tomorrow’s new ethics topic.

And that was about it, before I got ready to head into the city for the image processing lecture. I had some cheap Malaysian food from a stall in Spice Alley. And then it was off to help students figure out what sort of project they want to do!

New content today: