Casual job application

The top news today is not necessarily the state of my throat following the tonsillectomy, but I’ll provide an update anyway. It’s continuing to be less sore, but I still have significant pain when trying to move my tongue around or—as I discovered today—when trying to suppress a sneeze. I was eating breakfast and had some residual cereal and milk in my mouth that I hadn’t been able to flush clean with dextrous tongue movements between mouthfuls, when I suddenly had to sneeze. I ended up having to clean up splatters of cereal and milk off the carpet.

My wife and I took Scully on a big walk today, getting our lockdown exercise time out of the house. We met a little puppy, just 9 weeks old, whose owners still hadn’t even decided what name to call him, thought they said they were thinking Winchester. Scully and possibly-Winchester had some fun playing a bit. She likes playing with little dogs, especially any smaller than her.

But the main thing I did today was complete the application for that casual teaching position at the University of Technology, Sydney, that I mentioned two days ago. I didn’t complete it then because I got to page 3 of the online form, after filing in simple things like my name and contact details, and found that it asked for a full curriculum vitae, including things like my philosophy of education, evidence of sensitivity when teaching students of diverse cultural backgrounds and identity, and experience teaching in a university context with feedback from students! So I deferred that to today, and spent some time sprucing up a CV and composing answers to the various questions.

I finished that just after lunch and submitted my responses and uploaded my CV, and then discovered that page 4 of the online application form requested a 5 minute video with myself answering questions about what practices are important for teachers to engage students, give a “rich example” of a teaching method I have used, give an example of when I have adapted to student feedback in my teaching strategy, and talk about why I want to teach and what benefits I would bring to the faculty!! Holy cow!

So I spent much of the afternoon writing a script and then recording a video of myself. Hilariously, the first take went perfectly… except that I thought I’d started recording when I actually hadn’t, and when I hit the record button again after I’d finished in order to stop the recording, it actually began recording. So I had to do the whole thing again from scratch.

Eventually I completed the video, uploaded that, and completed the application. Here’s hoping that after all this effort I get the job!

I intended to do some comics work in the afternoon, but I was so mentally worn out, and it was getting late in the afternoon and time to think about what to make for dinner, that I never got into it.

I’m now trying a larger fraction of Seedlip Spice 94 (mentioned yesterday) in an alcohol-free drink with some lemon juice and soda. I’m still not getting it. On a more careful sniff with more of the product in a glass, the aroma of the Seedlip is subtly attractive, with warm spicy notes of cloves and cinnamon, but the flavour is, well… pretty flavourless. It has a hint of citrus on the palate, but the spice doesn’t really come through very much at all. I’m going to persist trying it in various combinations until I empty this bottle I bought, but honestly I can’t see myself ever buying it again. In my opinion, it’s a complete debacle for the $50 a bottle price tag.

New content today:

Getting stuck into big science

This morning I had my face-to-face ethics class, after skipping last week due to the students having tests. It was the second lesson of the Vanity topic, and in this one we had three scenarios and the kids had to discuss how vain the people in the scenarios were, and assign them on a scale of 1 to 10. One of the scenarios introduced the idea that vanity can be about things other than appearance, and posed the questions of whether that was any better or worse. And we discussed the big question: Is there anything wrong with being vain?

Back at home I spent much of the day working on outlines for my planned Big Science series of lessons for my online classes. I’ve completed outlines for atomic theory, evolution, relativity, and am mostly done on quantum mechanics. After I finish that and the next two, I’ll start work on detailed lesson plan and assembling slides to illustrate it. That’s the hard part, because as discussed before I can’t just grab pictures off the Internet. I have to make sure they’re public domain, or make them myself. So that will take a bit longer.

One good thing is that I came up with a common thread to tie all these topics together. Each will demonstrate the process of science, with different aspects covered: thought experiments, physical experiments, construction of models, making predictions, testing theories, assembling evidence, refining models, and so on. Basically the scientific method. So the overall uniting theme will be the development and use of the scientific method as a means of discovering how things work. So I’m pretty pleased with that as a concept!

On a completely different topic, I was just watching a cooking show on TV – while making and then eating dinner. It’s an Australian show, in which one of our celebrity chefs invites two guests to join him, and they all cook a dish while having a chat about food, their careers, their lives, whatever. Tonight’s guests were chefs from America. There’s a theme ingredient each show that they all have to use. Tonight’s ingredient was lemons, so the host chose to make lemon chicken.

Now, everyone knows and loves lemon chicken, right? Well… apparently only everyone in Australia knows and loves lemon chicken, because neither of the American chefs had ever even heard of it! I know certain dishes are regional, but I’m surprised to learn that lemon chicken is not widespread enough to even be known in the US. To chefs, no less.

I suppose I shouldn’t be so surprised at Chinese-derived dishes in particular being a complete disjoint set between Australia and the USA. I’ve been in Chinese restaurants in the US and literally not recognised a single dish on the menu. And I know American friends who’ve visited here and had similar experiences not recognising any dishes on our Chinese menus.

But wow… lemon chicken. You Americans are really missing out!

New content today:

A new course idea

After yesterday’s disappointment with Outschool’s rejection of my idea for a Harry Potter themed ethics class, I started work on a new idea for a class. This time it’ll be science.

The idea is a six-week course, with one session a week about the six biggest ideas in science, one from each of chemistry, biology, geology, astronomy… and physics gets two because it’s impossible to choose. Respectively, the topics are: atomic theory, evolution, plate tectonics, the Big Bang, and the two physics ones are relativity and quantum mechanics. And I’ll do them from a historical perspective, showing the development of the ideas and why they were needed to resolve problems in each of their respective fields.

It’ll take some time to assemble the material. I’ll need to make class notes and slides for each lesson, and probably draw a lot of diagrams from scratch since I can’t use anything downloaded from the net that might be copyright. I’ll let you know when it’s ready.

New content today:

No Harry Potter for you!

Outschool got back to me about the Harry Potter themed ethics classes I submitted for approval. They were not approved.

They said that due to a request from Warner Brothers, they did not allow any classes that mention Harry Potter in either the title or description, other than literary analysis classes. A friend of mine pointed out that Warner Brothers don’t own the copyright on the Harry Potter novels, and I’m not making a movie out of the material, so how is it even any of their business? The answer was actually in Outschool’s email, reading more carefully.

Warner Brothers has a trademark on the name “Harry Potter” and several other terms from the movies. And it looks like they are ruthless in enforcing it. Outschool, quite sensibly, doesn’t want to anger the dragon, so they have a strict policy of not allowing any Harry Potter content at all, other than literature analysis classes.

So… that’s the end of that. I’d hoped that theming an ethics class using Harry Potter would attract a lot of students. My approved, unthemed class has had no enrolments yet. I’m sure a lot of kids would actually enjoy it, but it’s going to be hard for them to notice it and decide to pursue it.

Beyond feeling bad about this, I spent the day writing Darths & Droids comics. And made pizza for dinner, with hand-made dough for the base. I don’t think I’ll go back to store-bought pre-made bases again!

Oh, here’s a photo I took yesterday while out walking Scully. This kookaburra was sitting on a branch about head height, right near the path I was walking on. I approached slowly with my phone held out at arm’s length, and managed to get close enough to take this photo before it flew away. This is not cropped either – it’s the entire image from my phone camera.

Laughing kookaburra

New content today:

A new Outschool course

Today I worked on preparing a new course that I’ll be teaching on Outschool. One on Critical and Ethical Thinking. I have a good idea what material will be involved and how to teach it, and I don’t need to prepare any slides for it. But to put a class on Outschool you need a cover image. And again I couldn’t use anything under any sort of copyright or accreditation license. I either need public domain images or to make my own.

So I spent a fair bit of time firstly thinking about how to represent the topic in an image with no words, and then drawing this:

Critical thinking

I think that should work!

I also made pizza for dinner tonight – and for the first time I made the dough from scratch myself.

Home made pizza

I topped it with tomato paste, mozzarella cheese, pumpkin, walnuts, feta, and chilli flakes.

Home made pizza

And after a quick bake in the oven it looked like this!

Home made pizza


Oh! And the rain finally stopped today! There was no rain for much of the afternoon. Although the clouds were still thick and grey. I haven’t seen blue sky for a week now.

New content today:

Vision and market prep

Today was hectic. I had another class to teach my Human Vision course on Outschool. Then it was time to prepare for tomorrow’s market at Kirribilli.

I’m helping my wife to start selling some of her dog bandanas as well, and we had a checklist of stuff to run through: doing a sign with prices, setting her up to process payments using Square, taking some photos of Scully with sample bandanas so she can post on Instagram – she’s calling her brand Scully xo. Check it out!

Labels for dog bandanas

Scully xo bandana modelling

Scully xo bandana modelling

And I really needed to wash the car. The park where I take Scully every week has nearby parking, but it’s all under fig trees, and the rainbow lorikeets hang out and chew on figs and drop sticky bits of half chewed figs all over the place. So it gets peppered with this sticky residue and needs to be cleaned regularly, but I haven’t done it for a long time.

And… gosh… that actually ate up the whole day. Tonight it’s an early night, so we can get up at 5:30 to haul stuff to the market and set up…

New content today:

Outschool class 2

This morning I taught my second class on Outschool. It was another session of the class on Human Vision. Again I had only one student, but I don’t mind that as it’s good to get comfortable with small numbers of students before having to handle multiple all at the same time. This time it was a boy, and he seemed to to enjoy the class.

I spent much of the rest of the day assembling the batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips that I photographed yesterday. I’ve also been helping my friend with his Bisecting History Twitter project, by finding interesting events for different dates. We’re putting in quite a bit of research for this thing. And I’m incidentally learning the relative timing sequence of various events that you don’t normally think of as related to one another, such as certain books being published in the same year as certain wars or scientific discoveries, and so on.

Not much more to report. I’m pretty much racing to get everything done that I need to before heading out on a road trip holiday with my wife next week.

New content today:

First Outschool class

This morning I had my first class on Outschool! Two students had signed up for the class in Human Vision and Colour Perception, but when I woke up this morning there was a request from one of the parents to move their child to a class next week instead. I transferred the student, which left me with just one attending today’s class.

As it turned out that was actually good, because it was a good chance to practise using Zoom to show the slides I’d made and talk through them, without too many students to keep an eye on as I went. I paused a few times to make sure she was keeping up, and she sounded genuinely interested and engaged. I got through the material pretty much right on time, and the girl seemed very happy with what she’d learnt. So it was definitely a success! And for the class next week I already have the other student already signed up. Hopefully a couple more will join in over the next week.

The rest of the day I concentrated on writing Darths & Droids comics, since we’re a bit behind in our buffer at the moment – because I spent to much time last week working on my class material.

New content today:

Human vision slides

It was another day of working on my diagrams and slides for the Human Vision course I’ll be teaching on Monday. Writing up the actual content of the course made me realise more diagrams I needed, so I had to draw some of those. And I needed photo examples for a few things too, so dug through my own photos for suitable scenes to illustrate some of the concepts.

That was pretty much my day. Last night I watched The End of Evangelion, the movie made as a wrap-up of the 26-episode series of Neon Genesis Evangelion, which I completed watching last week. If you know the show, then you probably have a good idea of my initial reactions. If not, I’m not going to spoil it for you. It was definitely interesting, and I’m glad I finally got around to seeing this series.

New content today:

Running and sliding

It was time for another 5k run this morning. Nice cool weather, after the past few days of late summer heat. I clocked 28:15, over 40 seconds faster than the last two efforts. Strava also told me that I ran the first mile in my best ever time over that distance, a flat 8:00 minutes. I suppose I could probably do a mile faster than that, but I’ve never specifically run that distance and then stopped.

Back home I baked sourdough. I’ve tried increasing the semolina content again, this time to a full third of the total mass of flour. The dough was noticeably softer than usual, but seemed okay. The baked bread tastes fine, with a slight nutty flavour, and there’s a noticeable slight granularity from the semolina, but it’s not bad at all. I’d say it worked just fine.

I spent most of today working on slides and class notes for my Outschool class on Human Vision. I only got a few slides in when I realised I need more diagrams, so I switched to drawing diagrams for a bit. This is the way it goes… I hope to have the slides ready by Friday at the latest.

This evening I helped my wife go through the instructions for using her new sewing machine. She’s done sewing before, but not for a long time, and she needed to get familiar with the machine and remember how to do all the various things. She did some practice runs on scrap cloth, and it all seems to be going well.

New content today: