Rain and assignment marking

It continues to rain. The Sydney reddit group is just full of people complaining about the rain, being sick of the rain, dealing with rain-related problems like mould, asking when it’s finally going to stop raining, and so on.

I spent much of today huddled inside marking assignments for the data engineering course. This is the project plan for their final project, so it lays out what they propose to do, where they’re going to get their data from, what analysis techniques they will use, and the motivation for the topic they chose.

The topics are diverse, including: predicting favoured movie genres from demographic data; predicting favoured cuisine type from survey data on more general food-related behaviours; modelling performance of wind and solar power generation dependent on weather conditions; analysing traffic accident statistics in conjunction with weather data to search for correlations; modelling relationships between house prices, inflation, and interest rates over time. It’ll be interesting to see what the students come up with as conclusions for all of these projects!

New content today:

Evolutionary Sunday

Today I had another science lesson online with the girl who has been taking those intermittently. Last time we began talking about evolution, and today was the second half of that topic. I prepared some slides showing the Galapagos Islands, Charles Darwin, finch beaks, hybridisation (lions and tigers crossbreeding to produce ligers), induced speciation in fruit flies, evolution of apes, and whales, and horses, and something about the evolution of antibiotic resistance in bacteria. It was a fun class and the student seemed to really enjoy it.

The weather here has turned slightly chilly as we get deep into autumn and start thinking about winter. We’ve had nice sunny days, although with some overnight rain just to keep things damp, but the maximum temperatures have been in the low 20s Celsius, which is noticeably cooler than the past months. And the nights have been getting quite chilly, down around 14°C, which feels like a big change from the overnight lows of 18°C we were getting a few weeks ago. 18°C is comfortable – I was taking Scully out around 10pm for her final toilet in just shorts and a T-shirt, but now I’m having to wear long pants and a jacket to do it.

We took Scully for another walk and ball chasing episode just after lunch, this time down to the nearest ferry wharf and the secluded adjacent park. The park is in a bowl-shaped hollow leading down to the water, so it took some care throwing the tennis ball so that it wouldn’t roll down into the harbour.

Um. I guess it wasn’t an especially interesting day, apart from thinking about evolution a bit.

New content today:

Housecleaning, but not my own

Today I had an unusual chore to do. My mother-in-law’s place needs freshening up and repainting to remove a mould problem caused by all the recent rain and humidity. So we went over today to help her pack fragile things like glassware and crockery out of the furniture so that the painters could move the furniture without breaking anything. We also took down all the paintings and pictures from the walls, and the curtains, and we helped her remove a whole bunch of books for donating to clear out some space.

This evening I had my two usual ethics classes, plus a science class for the girl who is doing those occasionally with me. Today we built on what we did about DNA and heredity last time, and moved on to evolution. As part of this I talked about the fossil record and the dating of fossils, which built on the knowledge she learnt back when we were talking about atoms and radioactivity – she already knows how we determine the ages of rocks and fossils.

So I spent most of the day when we weren’t out preparing that lesson.

Oh, and the weather was warm and sunny! No rain!! Although the Bureau of Meteorology has issued a warning that more rain is developing, and their models indicate we could get another 100-200 mm of rain starting from Wednesday, with some of the most flood-affected areas further north getting another 300-400 mm. Everyone you talk to here in Sydney is sick to death of this endless rain.

New content today:

Data fitting and COVID

I had been planning to go into the university tonight for the weekly Data Engineering lecture which I’m helping to teach. But the lecturer contacted me this morning to say there was a COVID case in his household, so he had to isolate and wouldn’t be going into the university. Instead he converted the lecture to online over Zoom, and notified all of the students. So I could stay home as well and assist students over Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

Apart from that I had my usual ethics classes this morning, and looked after Scully while my wife was at work all day. I went out for a walk with Scully in between heavy rain showers, heading up to the local shops to get some gelato after lunch. It rained while we were up there, under the awnings of the shops, but stopped by the time we headed home, so I managed to avoid having to use an umbrella.

New content today:

More rain, more teaching

We had another 30 mm of rain overnight, and some heavy showers during today. More expected tomorrow, of course.

This morning was face-to-face ethics teaching at the school. Against about 7 or 8 of the kids in my class were absent. Apparently COVID is raging through schools and infecting kids everywhere. Four of my friends have had it run through their families now, all apparently being brought home from school. We started a new topic today, about challenging authority.

Besides my online classes this evening, I worked mostly on Darths & Droids writing and comics today.

New content today:

Rain and the city

Yep, the rain is back. We had a few moderate showers throughout the day, but nothing really heavy. Tomorrow is supposed to be heavier, and then more heavy rain on Sunday.

The city looks nicer in the rain though, with the lights streaking across the wet roads and footpaths. I went in to the university a little later today as I had to look after Scully all day and then drop her at my wife’s work late, before heading in on the train. Rather than have a nice dinner somewhere near the university I grabbed some Vietnamese rice paper rolls from a take-away near the station.

The lecture tonight was the class I put together for data presentation, so mostly my material and exercises. I think it went pretty well! It was raining lightly on the way home, but I got a train quickly, so that wasn’t too bad.

New content today:

Speaking of misbehaviour…

I had my first serious behavioural issue with students in one of my online classes today. After almost a year of teaching online, the students have generally been incredibly well behaved. But today I had three who started goading each other in the Zoom text chat. I told them multiple times to stop it, but it continued, and eventually I had to disable the text chat when they started calling each other stupid.

It was very unpleasant at the time and not having had to deal with anything like this before it made me a bit flustered. After the class I wrote messages to all the parents. Two of them have replied so far, very apologetically, and saying they had had a serious talk with their child. SO hopefully it won’t happen again. But next time if anything seems to be bubbling up, I’ll just close the chat earlier, now that Ive had this experience.

It was rather upsetting, and dealing with it took up much of my morning. I went for my usual run to clear my head and get into a better mood.

This evening was week 4 of the Data Engineering course, and this time we went for about 2.5 hours instead of the 2 hours of the previous three weeks. The class is scheduled from 6-9pm. but the lecturer feels the students get a bit tired after 2 hours, so doesn’t want to fill up the full 3 hours.

But at least tonight the trains were kinder. We caught a train as soon as we arrived at the station near the university, and it went straight through to both our stations ( I assume it continued on to the lecturer’s station as promised). So I got home a lot quicker than last week.

New content today:

Flat out comics day

I had the last two classes on my current ethics topic of inventions this morning – an hour earlier thanks to the USA going off daylight saving time, and most of the students in these classes being in the US. Although one student in Taiwan had to switch to the other class to maintain the same time in his zone.

After that I spent much of today doing comics work. I wrote 5 new strips for Irregular Webcomic! and photographed, assembled, and wrote annotations for them. This is a smaller batch than I usually do and would have liked, but I didn’t have time to do a full batch to last multiple weeks, so next week I’m going to have to do it all again.

I also ended up spending a significant amount of time dealing with administrative overhead on Outschool, answering requests and questions from parents. Again daylight saving time is causing issues, because when Australia goes off it in April it had caused all my classes to be listed an hour later, and a parent noticed. So I had to go through and cancel all the April classes and relist them again an hour earlier (my time), so they’re the same time for everybody overseas.

And now it’s late and bedtime, and I still haven’t really relaxed or unwound from a full busy day.

New content today:

Data presentation done

I ticked off a big task today. I completed the lecture and tutorial material for week 5 of the data engineering course, on data visualisation and presentation. I uploaded all the stuff to the university server so the lecturer could grab it and put it into shape for the lecture in two weeks’ time. This task off my plate means I’ll have more time for other things like making comics in the next week or so.

Straight after completing that, i set off for the university for tonight’s lecture, which was on designing an experiment. The trains were favourable this time, and I had time for a leisurely early dinner. I again went to Spice Alley, and this time tried a Japanese place, getting tonkotsu ramen.

Kyo-to Ramen & Sushi

Unfortunately the ramen wasn’t as spectacular as the decor – the food was quite disappointing. But I made up for it with a spectacular dessert from a place around the corner.

Black Forest dessert

They had a range of amazing looking desserts, but I can never go past anything labelled as Black Forest. It had cherry brownie in the bottom, with cream, crumble, cherry jelly, and fancy decorative flowers. It was delicious.

Then it was across the road to the university for the lecture. The modern glass building is where the lecture is held, up on the 7th floor.


The class went well. I got to stand up and talk to the class about potential projects they could do for their assessment tasks.

After the class I made my way home on the trains. But the train I caught stopped and terminated at North Sydney, a few stations before my stop, and then something was obviously wrong because the announcements said the next train wouldn’t arrive for another 25 minutes. Which is about the time it takes me to walk home from that station… So I ended up walking the rest of the way home.

New content today:

… and presenting data

Today I worked more on the slides and material for Data Engineering, on visualising data. I spent some time making a cool illustration of how not to make a graph:

A bad graph

Hopefully some of your eyes are bleeding just looking at that graph.

Tonight we’re playing online board games, and concentrating on Castles of Burgundy, a new game that one of your group has been urging us to try for some time.

New content today: