A long walk and a lie in the grass

This morning I took the opportunity to go for a run. I haven’t done any for a while, so I started easy and went at a slower pace. I started thinking I’d do 2.5 km, but I decided to extend it a bit further, and ended up doing 3.2 km. It felt okay but I was starting to wane near the end. I want to build back up to 5k again if I can.

I did some comics stuff in the morning, then went for a long walk over to the new bakery I discovered yesterday, to try it out for lunch. On the way I took a photo of St Leonard’s Catholic Church, which is a landmark visible across much of the surrounding area with its tall copper spire.

St Leonard's Church, Naremburn

When I got there and went inside, it was very weird – they had several of exactly the same things as the Grumpy Baker over at Waverton. The pie selection was identical, and they had Nutella babka – the only place I’ve ever seen that before is at Grumpy Baker. If I didn’t know better, I’d believe that they were going over to Grumpy Baker first thing in the morning and buying a bunch of stuff to resell under the guise of a different bakery. Anyway, I tried a pie and a sausage roll. And they did have some things that Grumpy Baker doesn’t make, including vanilla slices, so I had one of those too. I’ll add the review to Snot Block & Roll in a day or two when I get time.

On the way home I picked up Scully from my wife’s work, and took her home via the slopey park where she does ball chasing and fetching. We had a bit of a play with the ball before she got tired and decided to have a rest. I joined her for a lie down in the grass too, and we both just laid there for a while. Nice and peaceful.

Scully with ball

But on the way there we passed the brand new pedestrian island in the middle of the road. It’s not a main road, but it does get a lot of traffic. The council recently widened the pedestrian refuge in the middle and installed safety barriers. But today…

Someone didn't

Someone had ploughed right through the “Keep Left” sign, the first pedestrian safety barrier, and half-removed the second barrier on the far side. I really hope nobody was standing there when it happened, or they would have been severely injured, if not killed. I think it might have happened while I was out getting lunch too, because I didn’t see it messed up like this when I passed it on my way out, and neither did my wife on her way to work this morning, though she did see it on the way home.

New content today:

Yesterday’s walk, and more walking

I have photos from yesterday’s walk, which was along a creek known as Tannery Creek, in a suburb out towards our 5 km COVID restriction limit. I’m guessing the creek was named for historical tanneries that used to be in the area, though if so they are long gone.

Tannery Creek Walk

This walk started in a park by the harbour shore, where there was a boat ramp, and thus lots of cars with boat trailers taking up all the parking spots. We had to park out on the street and up a bit from where we panned to start walking. Being a public holiday, there were a lot of people out for picnics and boating outings. Hopefully in COVID-compliant groups of five or less.

Tannery Creek Walk

The walk started as a broad flat path of firm packed leaves, but quickly narrowed to a dirt and rock track through close trees and bushes.

Tannery Creek Walk

We chose a branching loop that took us up the hill away from the creek for a while, into drier terrain. This looped back around on another path before rejoining the path that ran along near the creek bed.

Tannery Creek Walk

Down by the creek it was a lot wetter and cooler and shadier, with large ferns and mossy sandstone rocks.

Tannery Creek Walk

We walked upstream, having realised from doing several of these walks lately that it’s nicer to walk upstream in the bush, and then downhill back to the car, rather than going down the creek and having to slog uphill back to the car along hot streets.

Tannery Creek Walk

It was another very nice walk, and we spotted plenty of birds, including a white-faced heron towards the top end of the creek. I didn’t expect to see one in dense forest – they usually stick to coastal areas or open grass in my experience.

Today I did a couple of walks with Scully while my wife worked at home, and later went out for a practice walk to her dance fitness class venue, which is starting up again next week when our COVID restrictions ease and they can start running the classes again. At lunch time I took Scully past the bakery and picked up a pie for lunch, while this evening I did a loop around some of the local shops.

And most of the rest of the day I worked on the next ethics lesson plan, about buying and selling, and the science lesson that I just had this evening with the girl whose mother wanted her to do some one-on-one classes.

Dinner tonight was a bit more of a success than last night’s. I made pizza dough and topped it with pesto, ricotta, cheese, potato, and fresh rosemary. That turned out pretty good.

New content today:

Wreck Bay Track

This morning I did another exploratory bushwalk with my wife and Scully. Scouting within the 5 km radius of home to find somewhere new, I found the Wreck Bay walking track.

Wreck Bay bushwalk

This is a bush track that skirts around the edge of Northbridge Golf Club, between the lower stretches of the golf course and the waters of Middle Harbour below.

Wreck Bay bushwalk

It’s a lush forest environment, with plenty of ferns and moss. We passed a few tiny creeks and small waterfalls.

Wreck Bay bushwalk

You emerge at various points to views of Middle Harbour.

Nesting rainbow lorikeet

I found a pair of rainbow lorikeets nesting in this tree hollow. There were eggs or babies inside, but I couldn’t get high enough to see or photograph them. But the parents were hanging around to protect them and not flying away, as I got within a metre or so to take this photo.

Wreck Bay bushwalk

This (above) is the small inlet known as Wreck Bay, named for the large shipwreck you can see in the water just above the centre of the image. The dark shadows to the left are the front of the hull, and parts of the rear of the hull can be seen projecting above the water to the right.

Wreck Bay bushwalk

Scully enjoyed the walk too.

Wreck Bay bushwalk

The bushwalk part was at low elevation, close to the water, but towards the end we had to climb uphill. We emerged onto streets and did a loop up the hill, around Northbridge Golf Club, and the downhill on the other side of the golf course back to the car.

Wreck Bay bushwalk

Here’s a view from the top of the golf course. You can see how high up we are now compared to the steep valley. The golf course is on a steep slope, and there’s a lot of downhill and uphill walking when playing it.

Wreck Bay bushwalk

Finally a view over Flat Rock Creek Gully as we walked back down the hill. The walk we did last week was along the course of Flat Rock Creek ending in the park down below (before we walked back home).

After getting home and having some lunch, I spent all afternoon working on slides for the first lesson of my Creative Thinking course, which begins tomorrow. I have them nearly done – just need to think of some good homework tasks for the kids to do before the second lesson.

New content today:

An even longer walk

After yesterday’s short drive to try a new walk, today I led my wife and Scully on a walk starting from home, along a route I discovered last year, along Flat Rock Creek. We walked through familiar streets to the point where we entered the walking/cycle path running along the Warringah Freeway. Here the path splits and a branch heads under the freeway and along the creek route, first as a cycle path, and then it turns into a bushwalk track with steep sections, steps, and stepping stones crossing the creek back and forth. My wife had never walked this way before, and really enjoyed it, with the cool forested creek leading out eventually to the green expanse of Tunks Park, where people were out exercising their dogs.

From there, which is almost at sea level, it was a big walk up the hill to Cammeray and Crows Nest, which is at elevation a bit over 100 metres. By the time we got home, Strava had recorded that we’d walked 9.8 km. It took us 2 hours 45 minutes, including a stop at Cammeray to grab and eat some lunch from the Italian bakery there. When we got back home, Scully, who had walked almost all the way, collapsed and slept for most of the rest of the day!

At home I finished writing a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! scripts. And then I started work on slides for the Creative Thinking course I’m starting soon. At least hopefully starting soon. I got one kid enrolled for the one that was scheduled to start today, but I decided it’s going to be much better with at least two students, so I messaged the parent and said I was rescheduling to start next week, to give more time for other students to enrol. So maybe that will start next week.

And tonight I had two sessions of this weeks ethics class on apologising. One of the interesting questions this week has been asking the kids: If a dog gets in someone’s way and they trip and the person yells at the dog, and the dog looks sad and whimpers, is the dog apologising? A small majority of the kids said no, a dog doesn’t know it’s done anything wrong and can’t apologise, while a bit under half of them said that yes a dog can apologise, and what’s more they definitely know when they’ve done something wrong. Which was a very interesting split of opinions that I wasn’t expecting.

Most of the other questions the kids are more generally in agreement on, except for this one: What would the world be like if nobody ever apologised for anything? Most of the kids said it would be terrible, because people would all be angry at each other all the time and nobody would get along. But 3 or 4 of the kids said that it wouldn’t make any difference, because if nobody ever apologised, everyone would be used to people not apologising, and it wouldn’t bother anyone. I asked them what about things like when you accidentally step on someone’s foot on the bus – if you don’t apologise, would they know that it was an accident, that you didn’t do it intentionally? This made most of them rethink their answers, but one kid doubled down and said that obviously that’d be unintentional, so there’s no need to say anything to let them know you didn’t mean it. 🤔

New content today:

A walk at Riverview

Mostly today I worked on writing Irregular Webcomic! strips. But in the middle of the day I went out with my wife and Scully for another walk within our 5 km radius. We drove over to the suburb of Riverview, which is naturally by the Lane Cove River. Here we did another walk along Tambourine Creek, the same creek we discovered two weeks ago. That time we walked upstream along the eastern bank, in the suburb of Longueville. But there’s a parallel track on the other side of the creek, in Riverview, and today we walked downstream towards the harbour.

Tambourine Bay Track

The creek itself looked similar to the photos I posted two weeks ago. But on this side the track went all the way down to the water, where there was a mangrove swamp where the creek emptied into the harbour. The tide was low, so the mangrove mudflats were exposed.

Tambourine Bay Track

From here the track curved around the shore of the river, passing by this imposing sandstone wall. We spotted a kookaburra in one of the trees:

Kookaburra on Tambourine Bay Track

There were lots of birds calling, and I spotted several of them, recording 11 species on eBird. The track emerged on the shore of Tambourine Bay, an inlet of the river.

Tambourine Bay Track

Here there was a grassy picnic area and park, with a few people enjoying socially distanced picnics. We returned back to our car via the streets.

Oh, the other thing I did this afternoon was tried to figure out if I could somehow set up my desktop computer and iPad so that I could draw on my iPad with my Apple Pencil and have it appear in a window that I could share live on Zoom. For my upcoming science classes, I want to be able to draw diagrams while the students watch what I’m doing, and it’d be much easier to draw with a Pencil on iPad than using a mouse on the desktop. I thought I might have to buy some apps or something to enable this.

But after searching briefly, I discovered Apple Sidecar. This is a feature that Apple added to MacOS and iOS two years ago, which lets you connect the two to set up an iPad as an extra screen for your desktop. It’s built right into the operating system. All I had to do was enable it in the desktop preferences, and bingo, suddenly my iPad was an extra screen! I could drag windows across from desktop straight onto the iPad, and work with them there. And, importantly, I could drag a Photoshop window over to the iPad and draw directly into it with my Apple Pencil.

It just worked. More than that, it has cool integration features so that you can access all the critical Photoshop menus and control right on the iPad, without having to select them on the desktop UI.

Within a minute of Googling how to do it, I was drawing on my iPad right into a Photoshop window. And I tested that I could share that window with Zoom – yep, it all just worked! Wow. After many experiences trying to get computer stuff to work, this was a real breath of fresh air. Good job, Apple.

New content today:

A big walk along the harbour shore

With Sydney entering week 12 of COVID lockdown, I’ve now been restricted from travelling more than 5 km from home for getting up towards three months. As last weekend, I scanned the 5 km radius circle centred at my home to see what we could do today. I chose to take my wife and Scully out for a short drive over to Harold Reid Reserve, which is just within the edge of the circle.

Harold Reid Reserve bushwalk

We went early, around 10 am, to avoid the heat of the early afternoon. Like yesterday, today was expected to be very warm, and it ended up reaching 30.1°C, a little hotter than yesterday. Fortunately, much of the walk was shaded by the thick forest. We parked on a street and walked downhill towards the water of Middle Harbour, which is a large inlet off Sydney Harbour. The terrain here is mostly steep slopes down to the water from elevated ridge lines, making it unsuitable for building. Houses cluster on the ridge, but the slopes are mostly left as bushland, threaded with walking tracks.

Harold Reid Reserve bushwalk

Down at the water the views were beautiful. The sky was clear and cloudless, and the sun burnt down. Scully enjoyed the walk too!

Harold Reid Reserve bushwalk

In one spot we passed a slope that had been burnt recently – in a controlled burn to clear the undergrowth and ward off uncontrolled fires during the summer.

Harold Reid Reserve bushwalk

We passed quite a few people also out walking along this track, many with dogs too. Several family groups were out enjoying the unseasonally warm early spring weather. At a few places the track had small branches leading right down to the water, where people could splash in the shallows on a rock shelf, or go for a swim in deeper water.

Harold Reid Reserve bushwalk

Towards the end we began climbing back up the hill to the streets on the ridge above. This gave us longer views across the harbour to the opposite ridges.

Harold Reid Reserve bushwalk

Near the exit from the reserve back to the street, we passed a family with two kids going the other way, and the mother slipped and fell down some rough sandstone steps. She hurt her ankle badly enough that she couldn’t put any weight on it. Her husband and I carried her out through about 50 metres of bush track to the street, where we put her down sitting on a low stone wall while he and their kids went to retrieve their car. I stayed with the woman while she waited, and talked with her to keep her mind off the pain – it was clearly extremely painful as she was almost constantly wincing and groaning. The man returned with the car and I helped him lift his wife into the passenger seat. He said they’d go straight to the nearest hospital.

Her ankle had swollen up quite badly. Hopefully she’ll be okay, and hasn’t broken any bones, although it looked pretty serious. I made it back home with my wife and Scully without further incident.

In other news, today I deleted my Facebook pages for Irregular Webcomic!, Darths & Droids, and Square Root of Minus Garfield. I created them some years ago, but neglected to update them with anything after a few months, and have basically just been ignoring them since. But this past week the Australian High Court made a ruling that made me delete them.

Briefly, someone brought a defamation case against big media companies, who had created Facebook pages and then allowed people to post defamatory comments on them, without moderation. The media companies argued that they were not responsible for comments posted by third parties, on a third party website (i.e. Facebook). This argument went to the High Court, who on Wednesday this week ruled that media companies are publishers of content, even if that content is hosted on a third party site, and they have a responsibility to moderate it. The upshot of this for the defamation case is that the plaintiff can sue the media companies for defamation (that case is now pending, on whether the comments in question were actually defamatory).

But as pointed out in an article today, this ruling means that anyone who creates a Facebook page may be liable for defamatory comments posted on that page by third parties.

Now, if I were actively moderating those pages that I created years ago, I wouldn’t be worried about this, because I’d just delete anything that might be defamatory (as I do with my comic forums). But since I’m not actively moderating them… they have to go.

I’m not sad about this. I actually support the High Court decision. The big media companies had been using their Facebook pages as a shield against taking responsibility for publishing defamatory content on their own websites. It was an easy way out for them. Rather than host their own websites and allow comments and moderate them for defamation, they created Facebook groups, posted news articles there, and let commenters have free rein, trying to dodge any responsibility to moderate defamatory comments. This decision will force them to take that responsibility back, as they should.

In fact, I’m kind of glad that I had a solid prompt to delete those Facebook pages I’d created. They were relics of what seemed like a good idea years ago, but which had long outlived their usefulness. And frankly, any excuse to use Facebook less is fine by me.

New content today:

Discovering a new creek

Inspired by yesterday’s walk around new neighbourhoods, I went for another short drive with my wife and Scully today, so we could try walking around somewhere new again. We found Tambourine Creek, which runs through a bushland park names Warraroon Reserve.

Tambourine Creek

We entered the Reserve towards the downstream end, from a path leading from nearby streets where we parked the car. We walked upstream, along the bank of the creek, passing a lot of mossy sandstone rocks, ferns, and small palms, forming undergrowth below a canopy of gum trees and others.

Tambourine Creek

The water was trickling along nicely, probably helped by the rain we had for much of yesterday and overnight (although the weather had cleared by lunchtime when we went for this walk). It was also surprisingly clear for an urban creek. I wouldn’t drink it, but it looked pretty clean, with no obvious pollutants or rubbish anywhere. It was also very easy to forget that there were houses quite nearby, as the bush growth was thick enough that you couldn’t see very far. If you were dropped here and just looked around without exploring too far, you might believe you were in complete wilderness.

Tambourine Creek

We walked about 750 metres along the creek, before emerging back into the streets of the adjacent suburb, then walking back along the streets to where we’d parked the car. Scully enjoyed the walk – she really likes walking in new places that she hasn’t seen before.

Tambourine Creek

This afternoon I went over the lecture notes and tutorial exercises for tomorrow’s image processing lecture, so I can help the students during the tutorial part. It was a lot more about probability distributions and fitting to them using logistic regression classifiers and Bayesian classifiers, and using training data to produce likelihood functions for maximisation.

For dinner I experimented again with leftover sourdough starter, making savoury pancakes, served with fried mushrooms. This is based on a dish I had at a restaurant once – I’d never considered pancakes as a savoury meal before, but it works really well with the right toppings.

New content today:

Walking around Woolwich Dock

This morning was warm, although overcast. I decided to make the most of it before the rain set in after lunch, by taking my wife and Scully out for a short drive to another nearby suburb (within our allowed 5 km COVID restriction limit) and then walking around there for exercise, rather than just doing the same old routes around our home.

Scully at Woolwich

We went to Woolwich, which is a very wealthy old suburb, sitting on a narrow peninsula in the harbour. There are a lot of very old and fancy houses there, built of sandstone. It’s amazing just to walk along the streets and gawk at the enormous houses and properties. And being surrounded by water, there are a lot of good views as well.

Woolwich Dock

At the end of Woolwich is Woolwich Dock, which is a deep cleft cut into the sandstone shoreline, constructed form 1898 to 1901. It used to be used as a drydock – ships would enter, then they would close lock doors across the entrance and pump the water out, so the ship hull could be worked on. The doors are gone, but the dock is still used as a working dock for repairing somewhat smaller vessels.

Woolwich Dock

There is a public walking path that goes down the hill from the top of the ridge, enters oe side of the dock near water level, goes around the entire inside of the dock, and then out to a park on the other side. Along with walking around the streets of Woolwich to see the houses, we did this walk as well.

Woolwich Dock

Once we’d done the walk, we found an Italian restaurant that was set up for selling pastries and porchetta panini from their front window (since nobody can actually eat out at restaurants at the moment). They looked really good, and my wife got a cannoli for me – ricotta with chocolate chips. It was really good.

We headed back home for lunch, and made it in time before the rain set in. It’s been light, but steady since, and should continue into tomorrow. This afternoon I’ve been working on Irregular Webcomic! strips.

COVID update: New South Wales is now over 1500 new cases a day. The Government is telling us their modelling suggests the case numbers will peak in October, before the vaccination rate is high enough to start bringing it down. The good news is vaccination rates remain very high, and we should get to around 80% vaccinated some time in October.

New content today:

Everyone’s out walking, and Sunday ethics

It’s Sunday, and spring is definitely arriving in Sydney. New green shoots and leaves are sprouting on trees, and flowers are bursting out everywhere. The weather is warming up, though we’ve had a couple of chillier days just now, but later this week it’s going to be beautiful and warm.

We went for a longish walk with Scully today around lunchtime. There were so many people out walking around, it was notably unusual. Dozens of people hanging out in the park area where we toss balls for Scully to chase, when it’s been much emptier recently. I guess the warmer weather is starting to bring people out a bit more. Nearly everyone is wearing masks now, because of the COVID lockdown rules about wearing masks outdoors. (Speaking of which, 1218 new cases today – yet another record high for Australia.)

This evening I had my first ethics class on a Sunday. I’ve been resisting putting them on the weekend to keep some days free, but at the moment school is starting up in many countries and the parents are all eagerly asking me to move their kids to classes at other times and dates to accomodate. I had several requests for weekend classes, so I finally gave in, and today I had a full class of four kids in my very first Sunday class. I may end up putting another Sunday class on too.

New content today:

The big Sunday walk

For today’s lunchtime walk, I chose a longer route, down to the harbour shore at Lavender Bay and then around the shoreline past Luna Park, under the Bridge, and over to Kirribilli. By the time we got home Strava had recorded that we’d walked 9.51 km.

The day was gorgeous – sunny and 22°C. It really feels like spring has arrived. I don’t know if we’ll even get a late cold burst as winter fades away, or if we’re really into the sustained warmer weather now. Here’s a panorama I took from Lavender Bay:

Lavender Bay panorama

This was where we first hit the shoreline, and we walked all the way around the shore on the left of the photo until we went under the Bridge. After walking all this way, and then back home again, we were pretty wiped out, and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.

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