1980s roleplaying night redux, and a wet Saturday

Friday night I ran my 1980s kids adventure roleplaying adventure again, for my second subgroup of friends. It was the same adventure, but it proceeded very differently! Here’s a summary, courtesy of one of my friends who described what the second group (made of five players) did, for the benefit of those in the first group (to compare notes):

The B team went to gawk at whatever was happening at the lighthouse. We saw the dead body of the lighthouse keeper, who appeared to have been drowned for some time and then partially eaten. Mutterings in the crowd talked about this being similar to events 25 years ago. The lighthouse keeper’s dog came and befriended one of us.

We went to the back of the lighthouse, observing that it appeared to have been struck by lightning. We opened a window and took a look around inside. We didn’t see much at that time, but later when the police had left and closed the door we re-entered through the window and looked around the house itself. We read the logbooks and discovered that bad things happened to the lighthouse keepers every 25 years after a storm on June 1.

Back in town, we found out (I forget how, might have been from the fortune teller) that there was a shipwreck 100 years ago. We held a seance with the fortune teller and found out that the captain of that ship blamed the lighthouse keeper for the wreck and deaths of everyone, and somehow this translated into killing the lighthouse keeper every 25 years.

We were then transported to the past (one possible explanation, anyway), and managed to keep the light lit and avert the shipwreck. We were returned back to the present and found that the lighthouse keeper was alive and well after all. We returned his dog to him and got ice cream.

After he posted this on our group chat I mentioned that the first team’s adventure started the same way, but diverged at the word “opened”. Instead, the first group smashed the window with a slingshot(!), and then proceeded to climb through the broken window.

Both groups found a wet patch on the floor of the lighthouse tower (presumably where the lighthouse keeper’s body was found), but no clues as to how he died or who did it. The A team left and decided to check out the library to find out what happened 25 years ago. They found news stories from 1957 (25 years before the current date in 1982) saying the lighthouse keeper then was found dead under mysterious circumstances after a storm on the same date – and that 2 days later his dog was found dead. They continued looking back every 25 years, finding similar occurrences in 1932 and 1907. But in 1882, on the same date, was a storm that resulted in the wreck of the Warona, a cargo clipper. All hands were lost, except the cabin boy, one James Winchester. They used a phone book to look up any Winchesters in town, and discovered only one, living in the local nursing home.

The A team went to visit Mr Thomas Winchester, and discovered that he was the son of James Winchester. He told them the story of the wreck of the Warona, and that his father had told him how the lighthouse light had gone out as the ship was trying to reach safe harbour during the storm. They expected it to be relit, but it wasn’t, and without guidance the ship was wrecked on the headland. James suspected the lighthouse keeper was cowardly and didn’t bother to relight the lamp, thus causing the wreck.

The A team decided the logical thing to do was to go to Shipwreck Cove and try diving to take a look at the wreck. There they encountered a creepy ghost/kelp/thing that scared them. As they fled the scene, a storm whipped up and in a flash of lightning they were transported to the lighthouse in 1882.

From here the stories converged again. Both teams found the light out – and also that the lighthouse keeper had fallen down the stairs and was lying with a broken leg, unable to climb up to relight the lamp. (So it wasn’t his fault after all!) They relit the light and saved the ship.

The A team concluded their version of the adventure by going back to the nursing home to tell Thomas Winchester what happened, only to find that they had no records of a Winchester ever having lived there.

So, it was very interesting running this adventure twice with two different groups, and seeing the different choices they took through it!

Today, Saturday, the weather closed in. We have rain forecast every day for the next week again. Not too much here in Sydney, but further north parts of the state are getting hammered with hundreds of millimetres of rain again. These are the regions that have already suffered three major flooding events this year, and the ground there is still saturated, so even moderate rainfall is likely to trigger flooding again.

My wife and I took Scully for a lunchtime walk during a break in the rain, but it started up again halfway home and we got pretty wet, even with umbrellas. Scully was soaking, so we gave her a bath straight away.

We’ve also been planning a short trip. We’re going to take a drive out to Orange to stay for a few days in a couple of weeks. We found a hotel that has dog-friendly rooms so we can take Scully. We’re really looking forward to it! But today I spent some time going through all my Outschool classes and notifying parents and students that I’ll be taking a week off from teaching the classes.

New content today:

Drugs in sport Wednesday

This morning was Primary Ethics at the school. I started a new topic this week: Drugs in Sport. This is one of my favourite topics, because it really gets the kids thinking. They all start with the simple idea that performance-enhancing drugs in sport are bad, but then we very carefully pick that apart and examine where that opinion comes from, and why, and how well supported it is by rational thought in the context of all the other things that athletes do and the technology they use to gain advantages. By the end of it (the topic is 4 weeks long!), the kids have a much better appreciation for the nuances around the whole area of fair play and cheating in sport.

I dragged myself out for some sport myself, doing a 2.5k run after lunch. It was tough because it was very cold today. The storm and cold front that hit yesterday brought a real Antarctic blast from the south. We had snow on the Blue Mountains just west of Sydney. Even a dusting is a rare event, but this was heavy enough to close both of the roads across the mountains.

Here in Sydney the temperature sank to 7°C and stayed there until a couple of hours after sunrise, with the wind chill bringing the apparent temperature as low as -0.3°C.

Tonight I made soup for dinner: pumpkin, potato, and bunya nut.

Pumpkin, potato, bunya nut soup

Nice and warming! (Served with a blob of sour cream.)

New content today:

A late storm

The weather forecast for today was ominous: heavy rain beginning from around 8 am, totalling 10-25 mm. But it didn’t turn out that way. There was not a cloud in the sky when I took Scully out for a morning walk. And it remained bright and sunny all morning.

I took her out again for a walk and to get some lunch at midday, and it was still very sunny, and warm. Although it’s still winter, we got up to 22°C. But as we walked home, I could see dark clouds building up on the horizon. The cold front came through after 1 pm, and the temperature dropped rapidly to 12°C. But the rain was localised, and it didn’t start where I am until a couple of hours later, while other parts of the city were getting hammered. Now it’s raining steadily, and the temperature has dropped further to just 7°C, which is really cold for Sydney.

Besides watching the weather, today I worked on material for Friday’s roleplaying game. I used DALL-E to make an invitation image to advertise the game to my friends.

Agate Beach banner

I shared this with them. I also made a map of Agate Beach, the tiny west coast US town where the adventure is set. It’s a real town in Oregon, and I’m basing the game map on the real map, but with some modifications. I’ve also got some new ideas for how the adventure will flow.

And this evening I began the first three classes on this week’s new ethics topic: Friendship. One question I ask: Is it important that friends be of a similar age to each other? It’s interesting hearing kids discuss this. They’re 10-12 years old, and they can’t even imagine having a friend as old as 14 or 15!

New content today:

This darn winter

It’s cold and it’s wet.

Now, you may be thinking it can’t possibly get all that cold in Sydney. You’re right. A cold winter’s day in Sydney is a maximum of 12-14°C, and even at night it never gets colder than about 4°C where I am near the coast. But the thing about Sydney is that our homes are not designed for this weather. Insulation is poor to non-existent. I have never seen a double-glazed window in Sydney.

This means when it’s 14°C outside… it’s 14°C inside. This morning after getting out of bed I was sitting here, with three layers of clothing on, drinking hot cups of herbal tea, and shivering. The design of Sydney homes actually violates the World Health Organisation’s guidelines on safe winter indoor living temperatures, as pointed out by this article from today’s news. It’s a very common observation by visitors from northern Europe or North America, where they get regular snow during winter, to say that they’ve never in their lives felt as cold as spending a winter in Sydney.

And then this year there’s also the rain. I’ve been telling you about the record rainfalls all year. Has it let up in July?

14 days into July, Sydney has already set a new record for the highest ever rainfall recorded for the whole month of July. We still have more than half the month to go! And we’re now only about 200 mm short of beating the wettest year on record – a record that will almost certainly be surpassed. And now the weather bureau is saying there’s a greater than 50% chance of the coming summer being another La Nińa, meaning more rainfall.

I took a look at the latest minutes form the monthly meeting of my apartment complex’s managing committee. 9 out of the 18 items on the agenda were about building leaks or other rainfall-related problems such as damp and rotting woodwork, collapse of garden retaining walls, or inadequate drainage leading to puddling of water.

In non-weather news, I see the news sites are all hyping the latest “super double wolf blood moon” for the current full moon. Have people forgotten that full moons happen every month, so that they get excited about it every single time it happens and have to hype it up into something “amazing” each time? Anyway, I was inspired to write a quick mezzacotta random supermooon generator.

New content today:

A Short Cut to Mushrooms

There are a lot of mushrooms sprouting all over the place around where I live. From all of the rain. I’ve been finding weird shapes and species I’ve never seen before. A friend of mine forages for wild mushrooms, but I wouldn’t do anything like that without knowing for sure if they’re safe, so I don’t touch them.

And yes, it rained a lot again today. There were sunny breaks, but the showers in between were heavy and windy and cold.

We took advantage of a long break in the middle of the day to take Scully on a walk to a bakery. I had a passionfruit tart, which was really good. Very tart, in the sense of not too sweet. We got home just as another shower broke, dashing in the last few metres to the door and getting a few drops on us. A minute later, once inside, it was pouring down, so we were very lucky not to have been a couple of minutes longer.

New content today:

Not so fast! More rain

So we only had 10 mm of rain yesterday. Today we’re up to 24 mm, and only halfway through the 24-hour recording period, and it’s currently raining heavily outside.

Sorry to go on about it, but this damn rain is pretty much the only thing that anyone in Sydney is talking about.

Related to that I spent a bit of time today applying mould remover to various walls, window sills, window blinds, and furniture throughout my home. Damn stuff is insidious and relentless in this weather.

And…. I stayed in all day and didn’t go anywhere. Because of the rain, you know.

New content today:

Not so rainy day

The rain eased off a bit today and we had intermittent showers, although it rained heavily overnight. Sydney is well on track to record its wettest year since rainfall records began. We’ve recorded 1768.6 mm since the start of 2022, and the wettest year ever recorded was 2194 mm in 1950. We’re barely halfway through the year, so if the second half is similar to the first we could potentially end up with over 3000 mm.

A new week of ethics classes started today. I wrote up the new topic: Fighting. I’m asking the kids questions such as:

  • Is getting into a fight ever justified?
  • If two people agree to have a fight, should it be allowed? With fists? With weapons?
  • Is it okay to carry a dangerous weapon, for the sole reason of self defence?
  • Are combat sports like boxing or mixed martial arts, where the goal is to actually hurt your opponent, okay or not?

I think this is a good topic, as it’s generated some interesting and diverse answers in the first three classes tonight!

New content today:

Very rainy day number 3

Another 150 mm of rain recorded in parts of Sydney since yesterday. Although again mostly in the southern suburbs, not directly where I am – we only got a bit over 40 mm here. In fact, the rain stopped falling for a brief period around lunchtime today, and I took the opportunity to take Scully for a walk and get some sushi for lunch. Our garage didn’t even flood!

In terms of more widespread flooding, today was worse than yesterday, as rivers were still rising. About 30,000 people have been evacuated under evacuation orders in place across 70 localities. And sadly a handful of people have died in the floodwaters. Thousands more have needed rescuing. There’s a cargo ship stranded off the coast in heavy seas with a broken engine, and it’s been impossible for rescue helicopters to get the crew off due to the rough sea. There was danger the ship might drift ashore and run aground, but tugboats are now pushing it further out to sea.

We’re still expecting more heavy falls overnight and into tomorrow, but it should ease up during the day. Hopefully.

Looking on the funny side, Australia’s two main satirical “news” websites (like The Onion), have the following headlines today:

New content today:

Very rainy day number 2

The predicted rain didn’t seem quite so heavy here during today. Most of the storm system hit a bit further south. Toens just south of Sydney recorded over 300 mm of rain in 24 hours, and some southern suburbs of Sydney recorded over 250 mm, but near me we only got 94 mm in the 24-hour reporting period. Tomorrow is forecast to be worse, though, as the system slowly moves north over the city proper.

Already parts of the outer suburbs are flooding, and evacuation orders are in place along some of the rivers. Warragamba Dam, Sydney’s main reservoir, began spilling around midnight last night, dumping more water into the downstream river system. Last time (back in April) it took days of rain to fill the dam before it began spilling. This time it was already still so full that just a day of rain did it. A few years ago, that downstream river had a new bridge built over it, one the Government said would be “flood-proof” and would never have to close, unlike the old bridge. Well, that new bridge has flooded twice back in April, and is about to go under again.

In April we had two separate “once in 100 years” level flood events within a few weeks. Now we have another one, and this one is on track to be the worst of the three.

I’m safe where I am – I don’t live in a low-lying area. Although I’m half expecting our building’s basement garage to flood again.

In other news, I worked on Darths & Droids a bit today, did some housecleaning, and just stayed inside out of the rain and tried to stay warm. Oh, and my sourdough starter is looking fully revitalised after three days of feeding, and I baked a new loaf of bread today for the first time since returning from overseas. I added sesame, sunflower, and pumpkin seeds to this one; the first time I’ve tried a seeded loaf.

Oh, and I used the very first lime off our dwarf lime tree that we bought a few yers ago! It fruited for the first time this year, and we have three small limes. I added some fresh juice to a Thai red curry that I cooked for dinner. Growing your own ingredients is very satisfying.

New content today:

Claiming travel compensation

Today I worked some more on my previously mentioned secret project, which is approaching completion.

I also filed a request for compensation with Lufthansa over our flight that was delayed by 23 hours in Singapore. Because it was operated by a European Union airline with a destination within the EU, the EU Flight Compensation Regulation EC No 261/2004 applies, and my wife and I are entitled to compensation of 600€ each, plus reimbursement of additional expenses incurred due to the delay. So I wrote up a request for this compensation plus expenses, including details of the hotel accommodation (in the Changi Airport transit hotel), train tickets, and COVID tests that we had to pay for because our plans were disrupted. I submitted this with all of the receipts via Lufthansa’s online claim form, and have received an acknowledgement email. Let’s see how long it takes for them to process and pay out.

The main news today here in Sydney is the weather, once again. After a fairly and blissfully dry June, we have another major rain system hitting us. The rain began late last night, and today we were forecast to get up to 90 mm of rain, with another 150 mm tomorrow, and 80 mm on Monday, followed by up to 20 mm each day until Thursday. Severe weather and flood warnings have been issued. It has been raining non-stop all day, light on occasion, but often heavy. Sydney has recorded 70 mm of rain in the last 24 hours, and some suburbs are up to over 150 mm. Tomorrow is going to be much worse, with strong winds also predicted.

New content today: