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.

New content today:

An overdue walk

I worked on my secret project a bit more today. But more interestingly I went for a nice long walk after lunch. The weather has been really nice lately, with cool and crisp autumn days making for nicer weather to be out and about than the heat of summer. The maximum today was a very pleasant 23°C, under a bright blue sky.

I went for a long stroll to the Italian bakery a couple of suburbs over. I was craving a slice of their baked ricotta cake, which is truly amazing. I deliberately walked a slightly roundabout route rather than the most direct one, because I’m filling in gaps on my Fog of World map. When I reached the bakery I got my slice of cake and sat and enjoyed it, before heading home again.

Again I chose to walk along streets I hadn’t covered in Fog of World, and I found an amazing back lane behind two rows of houses facing the other way, where their garages were. Several garages along this lane had murals painted on them.

Sisters

They included a short story painted on an adjacent wall, explaining the mural, and were all signed by an art collective.

Possums

It’s amazing what you can find within walking distance of your home that you might have been completely unaware of before.

For dinner tonight I made pizza, with hand-made dough from scratch. Last week I found that the supermarket had fresh mozzarella in a little pouch with whey, so I bought one, intending to make a Margherita pizza. So on my walk today I picked up some fresh basil as well, and some cherry tomatoes. When I got home I roasted the tomatoes to intensify the flavour, then set them aside until ready to bake the pizza. Here’s the topped pizza before baking:

Margherita pizza - pre-bake

And here it is ready to serve with the fresh basil placed:

Margherita pizza - serving

It was delicious!

New content today:

Bird photo walk

Today I wanted to get out of the house and get some exercise, but I didn’t just want to walk around the local neighbourhood, because it’s so familiar and I see it all the time. So I decided to hop in the car and drive a few suburbs away to Cremorne Point.

The point is a peninsula jutting south into Sydney Harbour. There is a walking path all the way around the shore of the point, and it has both beautiful scenery and amazing fancy houses. The shore is covered with trees and so there are also many birds in the area. I took both my phone and my dSLR with bird lens.

A rainbow lorikeet:

Rainbow lorikeet

Sulphur-crested cockatoos:

Sulphur-crested cockatoos

Silver gull, with an interesting Sydney background:

Gull and Opera House

A panorama of the lighthouse at the end of the point, and the city:

Cremorne Point walk

The MacCallum Seawater pool. This is a completely free public swimming pool, with an amazing view:

Cremorne Point walk

New content today:

Middle Head walk

The cool wet weather continues. I managed to get out for a decent walk during a break in the rain, driving over to the suburb of Mosman with my wife and Scully at lunch time. We did roughly this walk from Balmoral Beach up to Headland Park and back. There are some excellent views of Sydney Harbour from the top of the hill:

Middle Head panorama

Apart from that I tried to write Irregular Webcomic! scripts, but wasn’t in the groove, so didn’t get many done. More tomorrow!!

(I’m actually writing Friday 1 January’s entry on Saturday morning, because last night was fortnightly games night with my friends. With COVID raging in Sydney again, we did it virtually, playing games on Board Game Arena, followed by the traditional Sketchful.)

New content today: