Closing the ISO meeting

It was back to work today after the long weekend for my wife. This gave me time to work on catching up on Darths & Droids writing to repopulate the buffer. I want to get several strips in reserve because next week I have surgery to remove my tonsils (mentioned previously), and I’m not sure how productive I’ll be able to be for the few days afterwards. Surgery is never fun and I’m not looking forward to it.

This afternoon I took Scully to the dog park. It was a chilly day, and partly cloudy, and as the afternoon passed it threatened rain. Fortunately the rain didn’t develop while we were out at the park, but the clouds were dramatic and illuminated beautifully when the sun approached the horizon.

Blazing sunset at the dog park

With sunset being around 5pm here at the moment, it’s starting to get dark by the time we head home from the dog park. I always look forward to the winter solstice and knowing that the sunlight hours are starting to get longer again.

New content today:

COVID vaccine effects

Last night was rough. As I said yesterday, I had my first COVID-19 vaccination. I’ve never had any reactions to flu shots before, so I wasn’t expecting much.

As the evening wore on and I prepared for my 23:00 start for the ongoing ISO standards meetings, I began to feel worse. I was very tired, although that could easily have been due to the accumulation of late nights, but I also started feeling a bit feverish. Then a lot feverish. I started shivering during the ISO meeting, quite violently. This was not helped at all by the fact that we’re experiencing unusually cold weather at the moment. I was rugged up with warm clothes, but still felt pretty bad, and I had to struggle through the Zoom meeting in this state.

Finally after the meeting ended at 02:30 I crawled into bed, feeling pretty awful, chilly and shivering. It took me a long time to warm up and fall asleep. Then this morning I had to get up at 07:00 rather than sleeping in, because my wife had a Zoom interview and wanted me to take Scully out so there’d be no interruptions.

I rugged up again and took Scully up the street to a nearby cafe for breakfast. I very rarely go out for breakfast, but when I do I often have eggs benedict, since I’ve never felt like tackling hollandaise sauce at home. So I got that, and it was very good. Although the weather was cold—and more about that in a minute—I felt better and was comfortable with Scully keeping my lap warm as I ate.

I was waiting for my wife to message me that she’d finished her Zoom call and had gone to work, so I could drop Scully at the office with her. But I’d finished eating and was ready to go, and no message. So I decided to see what sweets they had, and the carrot cake looked good. When the waitress came by, I asked, “Can I please have a slice of the carrot (ping!) cake?” The ping was the message from my wife! But now I’d committed to the cake and couldn’t back down. So I sat for another 15 minutes and ate the cake. It was really good, a top notch carrot cake, and I don’t regret it at all.

Today I tried to have a bit of a nap around lunch time, when I had a sudden wave of tiredness. I’m not sure if I really slept, but lying down and closing my eyes for 1.5 hours seemed to help. I also hopped into bed after dinner, at 8pm, to try and sleep a little before tonight’s meeting began at 23:00 again. As I type, the meeting has just begun, and I feel much better than last night. So the COVID vaccine reaction lasted about 24 hours and seems to have subsided fully now.

On to weather. Today was remarkable – it was very cold. The temperature in Sydney rose to only 10.3°C, which was the coldest day for 25 years, and the coldest June day for 122 years. And persistent light rain and wind made it feel even colder. A lot of areas further inland got snow, and there were many images of it as the lead item on the news tonight.

Finally, last night’s photography standards meeting was again interesting, with technical discussion of image noise measurement, camera autofocus performance, and image flare measurement. We also had an update on the issue with China pursuing separate standards via the ITU which I mentioned yesterday. The representative from Apple had had a conversation with Apple’s legal team and reported that standards work is technically open – if interested members of the public want to access meeting records they can, although the process is not necessarily easy. So the US State Department prohibition on US citizens meeting Huawei employees doesn’t apply. Also, there was some other legal advice regarding how ISO can react to other organisations essentially stealing scope. Overall it’s going to be an interesting process to see what happens out of this.

New content today:

Cold and rainy – very cold

It’s winter here in Sydney. Australia operates on the meteorological definition of the seasons, which goes by calendar months, so winter began on 1 June, and lasts until the end of August.

And it was cold today. Really cold. Bands of chilling rain swept across the city all day, and the temperature rose to a maximum of only 13.4°C. This made it the coldest day in Sydney in five years. Standard disclaimers – other places get a lot colder, etc, etc. Sydney has a warm climate, and we’re really not used to temperatures this cold.

My wife brought Scully home from her office at lunchtime and left her here with me for the afternoon, since she didn’t want to deal wth a wet dog in the office. Which meant I had to deal with her… At one point she wanted to go outside. I put on her doggie raincoat, rugged myself up with a jumper and a jacket, grabbed an umbrella, and we headed out. Via the garage as we always do when it’s just a short toilet expedition.

Scully spent half an hour wandering around the garage, eventually getting to the door where we could see the rain outside. She decided not to head out there after all, and eventually we just returned upstairs. 🤷🏻‍♂️

I spent time today—when not freezing and trying to warm up—writing my lesson for tomorrow’s online ethics class. It’s on “getting even”. Both in terms of good deeds and ill. Should make for a fun lesson! I also had some more preliminary work to do for the ISO Photography Standards meeting that begins tomorrow night. I’ll be missing my regular fortnightly board games night with my friends to attend this meeting via Zoom, as the opening session runs from 8pm to 9:30.

Oh, and it looks like the new hard drive I got for backups is working nicely, and regular backups of my computer have resumed properly.

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Cloud photography

Today I mostly worked on comics, but I went out for a walk to pick up Scully from my wife after lunch, and I was amazed by the sky.

Cirrus clouds over Sydney

It was covered from horizon to horizon with these streaky, wispy cirrus clouds.

Cirrus clouds over Sydney

The view was so amazing and beautiful that I just stood gaping in awe, looking up at the sky.

Cirrus clouds over Sydney

I took a bunch of photos of just the sky, to get an abstract feeling with no sense of scale. Then I took some with a bit of foreground for contrast.

Cirrus clouds over Sydney

Cirrus clouds over Sydney

Sometimes it’s good to sit back and just bask in how beautiful our planet is.

Cirrus clouds over Sydney

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Chilly Saturday

Last winter here in Sydney was notably mild. This time as we head towards the end of autumn, it’s already noticeably colder than last year. We just had the coldest week of overnight minimum temperatures for the month of May, in the last 54 years. We had six nights in a row with the temperature dropping below 9°C.

Okay, I know that’s peanuts compared to places that get freezing temperatures and snow and stuff, but it’s pretty darn cold for Sydney. Taking Scully out for her pre-bedtime toilet around 10pm every night I’ve really been feeling the cold. Daytime temps have not been too bad though, with maximums around 20°C, which honestly is fine, especially if you’re out standing or walking in the sunshine. I’m not looking forward to the winter though.

Mostly today I worked on Irregular Webcomic! strips form the recent batch I photographed. Normally I make all the strips in one big effort and write the annotations and upload the files in one go. But I needed to get some uploaded for last week in a hurry, so I only did a few of them. Which means I had to do more today for the coming week.

I also had some cleaning up to do after last night’s games night. And this evening my wife and I went out for a nice dinner at a nearby Indian restaurant. It’s the place where we had dinner on the night before our wedding, yay many years ago, so it always feels kind of special going back there for dinner. I had a lovely Goan fish curry. Mmm…

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A day of prep work

Today I spent doing a lot of preparation, for two different things.

Tomorrow is market day, and I had a few things to do to get ready for travelling over there and setting up my stall. My wife and I will be trying to sell my photography and her doggie bandanas again. We have a new display rack for the bandanas, to get them up closer to people’s eye-lines, rather than just lying flat on the table. So hopefully we’ll sell more of those.

Mostly I worked on writing a new batch of Irregular Webcomic! strips though. The current buffer will run out this week, so I need to get a batch photographed and assembled in the first few days after Sunday. It’s actually going to be tricky squeezing it in, as I have other things to do this week too.

This afternoon we took a break (me from writing comics, my wife from sewing bandanas) to take Scully for a long walk. We went past the bakery a suburb over and down past the water – our usual long route. Although the weather was clear, it was very cold and windy. The first tendrils of winter have really hit in the past couple of days. Today’s maximum was only 16.9°C, which is pretty much a chilly winter day. I rugged up with a jumper (a sweater in US English) and a jacket, and still felt cold.

I know this is almost laughable for those of you who live in colder climates, but this is pretty much midwinter temperatures here, and I’m not used to it. It already feels like this is going to be a colder and longer winter than last year’s remarkably mild one.

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Unethical Wednesday

I don’t know what’s going on with this weather. The Bureau told us it would rain today, but there wasn’t a drop, and it was another fine day, although a bit chilly rather than warm. This seems to be a long term trend with weather forecasts here. Often they forecast rain, and it just never eventuates.

Normally I’d have my face-to-face Ethics class at the school today, but the kids are doing their NAPLAN tests this week, so my class was cancelled. I ended up driving over to the same car park by the school anyway, because my wife wanted one of the Aldi supermarket specials that was released today. They had super cheap dog beds a while back and she bought one, and of course it turned out that Scully loves the cheap Aldi dog bed and ignores the expensive dog bed from the pet store. So she’s been looking out for the specials ever since, and finally it reappeared, so she despatched me to get another one for her office.

Back home it was a comics writing day, interrupted by some more prep work for the ISO Photography meeting next month. Unfortunately for me, this time the meeting is being held in a time zone that works for the USA and Europe… which means it’s going to be the middle of the night for me. The sessions run from 23:00 to 02:30 here in Sydney, Monday to Friday. So it’ll be a week of very late nights.

In COVID related news, the Australian Government released their annual Budget last night. Notably, there was a strong underlying assumption that Australia’s borders will remain closed until at least mid-2022. That means no tourists visiting, and no residents in Australia allowed to leave the country. I’d been imagining we could start travelling again by the end of 2021, but now we’re looking at still more than a year until that’s possible. We’ll probably have to have a COVID vaccination shot, and then the next annual shot after that before we can travel… (I’m assuming this is going to end up as an annual thing like flu shots.)

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And a perfect half day…

After yesterday’s perfect autumn day, the forecast today predicted rain, although not until the afternoon. So I decided to take advantage of what may be the last fine morning of the week to go and play some golf. And I decided to take advantage of the New South Wales Government’s COVID stimulus voucher program by getting them to pay for my round, so it was a free day out.

It really was a nice morning, although cooler and cloudier than yesterday.

Nice day for golf

This is the “pitch and putt” course where every hole is a par 3. My local full-sized course doesn’t (AFAIK) accept the COVID vouchers, so I travelled out here to use one. The course was fairly empty today, and playing by myself I used two balls in parallel, playing each hole twice as I went around the course once. I kept score separately and managed my best ever total for one of the balls, so that was good.

On this hole, 13, I managed to hit both balls from the tee onto the green! I was playing one pink ball and one yellow ball. The pink one should be easy to see – the yellow one is way at the back of the large double green (left of the big light pole on the right)… but that still counts!

Two tee shots on the green

After golf, I drove over to my favourite pie shop for lunch, and ate pies by the beach. There were pelicans hanging out there.

Pelicans and gulls

This afternoon I spent time working on some ISO Photography standards stuff, in preparation for the next meeting we’re having, which is coming up in June. I had to write up some comments on a draft document and submit them, and do some admin stuff with the meeting agenda and so on. Nothing particularly exciting, but it consumed much of the afternoon.

New content today:

The last perfect autumn day?

Carl Sagan said in the TV series (and book) Cosmos:

Some 5 billion years from now, there will be a last perfect day on Earth… then the sun will begin to die, life will be extinguished, the oceans will boil and evaporate away.

Today felt like that last perfect day. It’s late autumn and we’ve already had a couple of cold weeks as we descend into the chilly depths of winter. But the past few days have been nice, and today was the culmination of a short warming trend. It reached 25°C here in Sydney, and the sky was a brilliant shining blue, with a gentle breeze just to keep the air moving so you didn’t feel hot in the sun.

I had occasion to be out and about. After my Monday morning online ethics class (teaching two 10-year-old boys today, same topic as last Friday’s class), I had an appointment in North Sydney for an ultrasound examination, which my doctor had ordered to check out a niggling persistent pain in my abdomen. It’s about half an hour’s walk, and I decided to make the most of the day by walking, rather than catching the train.

And it was gorgeous being outdoors in the late autumn sunshine. My route took me past St Leonards Park and to the Ridge Street Lookout, from where I captured this view looking south towards the city centre:

Ridge St Lookout

The city centre is on the right, and the harbour stretches east (left) towards the ocean. You can see the Harbour Bridge (giant steel arch on the right) and the Opera House (left of the big white “Bayer” building near the Bridge).

For my ultrasound, I had to fast all morning – no food or drink since last night. So by the time it was done at 11:30 I was really hungry. I walked back north to Crows Nest and a local pub where I like their chicken schnitzel lunch special. It’s a bit decadent, so I don’t get it very often, but it’s the best chicken schnitzel I’ve had anywhere.

From there I went straight to pick up Scully from my wife’s office, so I could look after her during the afternoon. Late afternoon I took Scully to the dog park down at Waverton. And from here I got another amazing view of the city, in the late afternoon light just as it was transitioning from the harsh midday sun to a beautiful warmer glow.

Sydney from Waverton Park

Again you can see the Bridge. And yes, you can see the Opera House in this photo – but you need to either know where it is or be really good at spotting it. You can also see a few clouds just starting to creep in. The forecast for tomorrow is a cooler 21°C and afternoon rain, possibly including a storm. And with the rain and cooler weather set to last for several days, I think it’s highly possible that today was indeed the last perfect autumn day for the year.

New content today:

Change of season

We’ve been experiencing a rather cool autumn. After last year when we had an extremely mild winter, it feels unusually chilly for this time of year. I’ve taken to wearing a jacket when going outside about a month earlier than last year.

The leaves on the deciduous trees are changing. Mostly in Sydney that means plane trees turning a dull shade of light brown. There are a few liquidambars scattered around that go a lovely deep red, but they’re not that common, and for the most part of course all the other trees are evergreen. So it’s not spectacular, but it is noticeable.

I took this photo of a path I walk down while collecting Scully from my wife’s office. The plane trees a mix of green and brown. This is basically what autumn looks like in Sydney.

Autumn path

The coolish weather makes it lovely to be outside. And after last month’s ridiculous amounts of rain, April has been extremely dry so far. We haven’t had any rain since the 8th, three weeks ago. And what we had in that first eight days was only about 10% of the April average rainfall. What we have had the past week or so is smoke – the bushfire control authorities are taking this cool weather as a chance to burn a lot of the undergrowth in forests around the edge of the city, and the prevailing wind conditions are wafting it across the city.

I took this photo at the dog park this afternoon while walking Scully. It’s normally a lovely view, but you can see the brown smoke across the lower level of the sky.

View while walking the dog

Tonight for dinner I tried a variant of one of my regular dishes. Pasta with butternut pumpkin, nuts, chilli, and feta. I normally use walnuts, but tonight I tried pistachios, which worked really well. And made it pretty colourful.

Pasta with butternut, pistachios, and feta

Oh, and in good news I have two students signed up for my first online Critical and Ethical Thinking class, tomorrow. Tomorrow’s class is in a time zone suitable for Australia/Asia, but I also have another parallel class on the same topic in a time zone better suited for the Americas (Sunday afternoons in US time zones).

New content today: