Rain analysis

I’ve been talking about the rainy weather a lot lately, and I decided to have a look at just how rainy it’s been here lately. Firstly, yes, it rained again today. Not heavily, but for several hours.

Looking back over the records, since 12 December, three weeks ago, Sydney has had only four days with no rain, out of 22 (counting today). Furthermore, the forecast for the next seven days indicates it’s most likely to rain every single day.

Last summer was ridiculously hot, and sparked all those horrible fires all over the place. This summer is not only very wet, but also very cool. Maximum temperatures have been mostly in the low 20s (°C), which is cool enough that it plausibly feels almost like winter.

The other news today is the Sydney COVID outbreak continues to grow, although we had only 7 new cases today. The state government announced increased restrictions today, including for the first time a legal requirement to wear masks in most public places, which will be enforced with fines from Monday. All other states and territories of Australia have re-closed their borders to people coming New South Wales. Sydney is currently partitioned into three zones, two of which we’re not allowed to enter. In the most restrictive zone, people are not allowed to have any visitors in their homes.

With all this, I’m not optimistic about my market stall happening on 10 January. But who knows… wait and see, I guess.

In work stuff, I wrote a good amount of Irregular Webcomic! scripts today. Just a few more to polish off tomorrow, and I can do photography on Monday. I mostly stayed inside today, because of the rain, but I did go out for a brief walk just after lunch, during a break. I saw several kookaburras – it looked like a group of young ones hanging out and learning to hunt for food, under the eyes of parents. I got another photo with my phone – not great, but definitely closer than I would normally expect to get to one of these birds.

Young kookaburra

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Series level

India won the second cricket Test against Australia today, levelling the series at 1-1. The next match is scheduled to begin on 7 January in Sydney, but because of the ongoing COVID outbreak here in Sydney, Cricket Australia is going to decide whether to go ahead or to move the match to Melbourne. They were meeting tonight, but have not yet announced any decision.

The game was a complete turnaround from the first Test, which Australia won easily. In this second game, India came back stronger than ever and absolutely destroyed Australia. So they certainly weren’t shellshocked by their defeat. These are two strong teams, so it’s going to be fascinating when they meet for the third game of the series.

Weather wise, it’s been a very wet day here, and cool. It’s almost not like summer at all. And there’s still no end in sight for the wet weather – the Bureau of Meteorology has basically warned everyone to cancel their New Year’s Eve plans as it’s going to be a soggy night.

Finally, I learnt today that one of my neighbours died on Christmas Day. Col was a retired gentleman who lived downstairs from us with his wife. I chatted with them a lot because we’d often run into each other around the building. But Col’s been sick with cancer and I’d seen him a lot less in recent months, mostly just seeing his wife, or their son, who had come up from Melbourne to be with his parents in this time. Col played golf at Lane Cove, the nearby course where I mostly play, and I used to see him in the park across the road from our place, hitting a few balls around for practice, and we’d stop and have a bit of a chinwag.

I’ll raise a glass for you tonight, Col.

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Boxing Day holiday Monday

Today was a public holiday, in lieu of Boxing Day since that fell on Saturday. Not that we did much anyway. I took Scully for a walk with my wife, but we didn’t make it too long, because there were storms incoming. We had some heavy rain in the early evening, and the forecast is for at least showers every day for the next week. It really is turning into a very wet summer.

I made some dough using the sourdough starter today. It’s rising now, and then I’ll put it in the fridge overnight to see if it turns out in a better state for baking tomorrow. Hopefully it’ll turn out better than the first attempt, a bit lighter and less dense.

In the cricket, India took a commanding lead today and virtually crushed Australia to a loss, although we managed to hold on to the close of play. It’s probably going to be over pretty quickly tomorrow though, with India levelling the series at 1 game apiece.

For dinner tonight I made myself pan-fried potato gnocchi with onions, a touch of chilli, and leftover Christmas ham. It turned out good, but a little dry, so I threw on some caramelised onion relish from a jar, and the result was amazing. I’m having to use either ham or turkey in all my meals to use up the leftovers!

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Cooler weather, and golf at Cammeray

It’s Monday, and the weather is much, much cooler after the weekend’s heatwave conditions. It’s been mid-20s and overcast – the maximum in Sydney today was 27.3°C.

I wanted to practise my new golf swing a bit, so I played Cammeray Golf Course this morning, also 9 holes, but longer than Lane Cove, where I usually play (such as last Friday).

Again, I played solo, hitting two balls in parallel on each hole. I got some really nice drives in – much better than I’d ever done before – but also a few mediocre ones that skewed off into the trees. I also felt like I was struggling to make the distance on the longer holes, taking 2 or 3 shots to hack my way up the fairway when I really should only need one shot if I hit, say, a 3 iron cleanly. And my putting was a bit off as the greens were slowish and I left a lot of putts short. So I felt like I was doing poorly.

However, I got home and entered my scores into my spreadsheet… The best round of 9 I’ve ever done at Cammeray before is 57. And today I scored 54 and 51 with the two balls! So I’ve definitely improved, even though I felt like I was hacking my way around a bit today. If I had a good day I’m sure I could do even better.

Best hole was the par 4 8th hole, which is the longest on the course at 394 metres from the ladies’ tee (casual players must use the front tees at Cammeray), and uphill all the way. I got to within 110 metres after 2 strokes. I hit a 4 iron, and landed on the green, about 3 metres from the hole, and then sank the putt for par! That was pretty cool. My first par on a par 4 on that course, and definitely the longest hole I’ve scored par on.

My muscles are a bit sore after the golf, but in a good, tired sort of way, not strained or anything. Still, I think it’ll be good to relax for a few days. My golfing friend has invited me to play with him at Boomerang Golf Course on Tuesday next week, on a special excursion for his birthday. So that’ll probably be the next time I play.

Oh, the same friend today asked me if I could Photoshop up something like… this:

(That’s what I came up with.)

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Heatwave day 2

It was supposed to be hotter today, but it turned out not to be as bad as yesterday. Although it was just as hot, it was cloudy for much of the day, so the sun wasn’t burning down, and it was very windy, so it felt a bit more bearable with the breeze. Wind gusts got up as high as 80 km/h at times, and there were a lot of tree branches down when we went out to walk Scully.

We got up to 40.5°C in the city. But the main thing was that the night was very warm, not dropping below 25.4°C. Some parts of Sydney didn’t go below 27°, setting records for the warmest November night on record.

The cool change arrived about 5:30 this evening, and cooled things down considerably. Tomorrow should be much cooler.

I didn’t do much today besides stay out of the heat. I baked a loaf of sourdough bread (using a supermarket bread mix), and I wrote some Irregular Webcomic! scripts. It’s time to photograph and produce another batch this coming week.

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First heatwave of … spring

Today was all about the weather. Specifically, the heat. The forecast for Sydney today was 36°C.

Actual top temperature was 40.8°C in the city, up to 43°C in some suburbs. (There is a reading fo 47.2°C in one location, but that seems odd and I’m not sure I believe it’s correct.) A handful of towns in western New South Wales broke their hottest November day records.

Tomorrow is expected to be even hotter, and tonight’s minimum temperature isn’t expected to go below 24°C in the city, and 27°C in some suburbs, which are expected to set their highest November minimum temperatures. And t’s still November, not even summer yet. And it’s been declared a full strength La Niña year – which is supposed to mean cooler and wetter conditions in eastern Australia. I’m not sure what to expect from the next El Niño, when we get hotter and drier climate conditions.

The one saving grace today was that it was low humidity. This heat is caused by a huge hot air mass over the central Australian deserts, being brought to the east coast by westerly winds, so it’s very dry. Parts of central Australia were getting temperatures around 47°C yesterday and today. These temperatures also bring dry lightning, which is a danger for setting bushfires. This time last year those immense bushfires were already going, and Sydney was already choking on thick smoke for several days in a row. We haven’t had any big fires yet this season.

There is a cool change on the way, expected to blow up from the south tomorrow around 5pm. They’re saying at that time temperatures will drop 20 degrees or more in less than an hour, from about 40°C to 20°C. I’ll be looking forward to it.

I spent most of the day holed up inside with the air conditioning on. I had to brave the heat a few times to take Scully out.

About 11 o’clock my wife decided she wanted to walk up to the shops to pick up something from the tailor. A few minutes after she left, Scully indicated she wanted to go out. I grabbed the little pile of stuff we have by the door, consisting of a small pouch with doggie poop bags and some dried chicken treats, a leash, and a small ring with just the minimal two basic keys needed to enter our apartment. I shut the door behind me, went to put the pouch and the keys into my pocket… and I noticed the keys weren’t there. My wife had taken the small set of keys to the shops with her, instead of her normal keys!

I had to take Scully out, into the daytime heat. Then after she toileted we came back and stopped at the front door for a minute. I figured my wife would only be about 20 minutes, so we’d just have to wait. I hadn’t even brought my phone or wallet – I had nothing but the poop bags.

After a few minutes I decided it was too hot and at least I could buzz a neighbour on the intercom to let us into the building. The first one I tried – immediately next door where Scully’s friend Luna lives – they weren’t home. I was going to try another neighbour when some people approached. They were visiting another neighbour on our floor, so when they buzzed to get in, I followed. I sat in the relatively cool foyer with Scully. She was a bit mystified as to why we weren’t going home, and I gave her a few of the chicken treats while we waited.

Fortunately my wife had not decided to stop at a cafe and have a coffee and a slice of cake or whatever, but returned home pretty quickly. She arrived after we’d been waiting in the lobby maybe 10 minutes.

This afternoon we watched the final episode of The Queen’s Gambit. Excellent show, we really enjoyed it, and it was a fitting ending. It’s weird to think of a fictional universe in which Dudley Dursley grows up and sleeps with Beth Harmon. (I didn’t realise the same actor appeared in both roles until a friend mentioned it yesterday.)

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My personal summer

Today I began my usual summer ritual of switching to cold showers. Yesterday I had my last warm shower for the next few months, barring unusual circumstances. I do this every year, usually some time in November, switching to cold showers for the summer. I usually reach the end of March before going back to warm showers; sometimes a week or two into April, depending on the weather as it cools down into autumn.

The weather here has really started to warm up in the past week or so. More than that, it’s gotten humid. Last year it didn’t really get humid until about February – the early summer was very hot and very dry, which of course led to those awful fires we had. But the switch to a La Niña pattern in the Pacific has brought a cooler, moister trend to eastern Australia. So hopefully a lot milder fire season, although the problem this summer may be storms and flooding.

Today was a relaxing Sunday mostly. My wife and I took Scully on a long walk this morning before it got too hot. We stopped at the bakery to buy some bread, getting a white sourdough load, and also a fig and walnut sourdough loaf for a sweet treat. My wife wanted to get some challah, but I remembered when we arrived and didn’t see any that they only bake that late in the morning, so it’s only available after about 11 am. So I chose the fig and walnut loaf instead.

Both loaves were still hot from the oven, and even after walking all the way home (over 2 kilometres), the fig and walnut loaf was still deliciously warm as we cut it open and had some simply spread with melty butter.

My wife and I played a couple of games of Codenames Duet, continuing our campaign after a bit of a break. We successfully completed the Bogota city game, but failed with a first attempt at Dubai.

And finally this afternoon we had Luna from next door over to play with Scully for a while. It’s a bit weird having another dog around. Even though they look somewhat similar, I feel like Scully is very familiar and I know her personality very well, and she’s almost like a little person. Whereas Luna just feels like a dog and is somewhat unpredictable. She’s also very face-licky – you need to be on your guard unless you suddenly want Luna to run up and lick you all over the face. Scully doesn’t do that, thankfully!

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Post-market stocktake

I mostly relaxed today, taking things a bit easy after the hectic day at the market yesterday. I did have to do a stocktake of how many greeting cards and matted prints I have left, so I could update my stock levels on Etsy – to make sure I don’t sell something that I’d need to then order from the printer, thus taking an extra week or two to ship the item. Then I had to pack all the stock and ancillary equipment (easels, folding table and chair, display crates, miscellaneous bits and pieces) in the garage, out of the way until the next market day.

And I went to the post office to mail off an Etsy order to a buyer in the UK. I hope it gets to them in time for Christmas!

What else did I do…? Oh, some housecleaning. Cleaned the bathtub properly, which I haven’t done for ages.

Oh that’s right… I was also a bit lazy because of the weather, which was stiflingly warm and humid all day. The temperature hovered around 30°C most of the day, but a strong westerly wind came in around 3:30 pm, blowing hot air in from the desert, and that pushed temperatures up to 36.5°C on the coast, but as high as 41°C in Sydney’s inland suburbs. This was the hottest November day for five years.

I took Scully out to the dog park at that time, not realising it was going to get even hotter that late in the afternoon. She was very lazy in the heat, and only did a few half-hearted ball chases and then our regular walk down to the waterside and back, before deciding she’d had enough and she took off back to the car to wait for me. She does that when she’s ready to go home. I’m still chatting with the other dog owners, and all the dogs are playing and whatever on the grass, but Scully is sitting up by the road next to the car waiting for me!

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And a soggy Monday too

It rained all night, and much of today too, clearing up a little towards late afternoon. While it rained a lot, I didn’t think it was particularly wild weather. But the evening news tonight had stories about flash flooding, trees blown over, and damage to structures across various parts of Sydney. It must have been localised and we missed the worst of it near my place.

And it was really cold again, the temperature rising to 16.2°C only for a brief period in the morning before dropping back to around 14°C for most of the day. When I took Scully out to the dog park during a lull in the rain this afternoon, I underestimated the cold and didn’t dress warmly enough, and I was pretty frozen by the time we got home.

This is the sort of weather we can expect with the onset of La Niña – colder and wetter conditions for eastern Australia. Already Warragamba Dam – Sydney’s main water supply – is full, and the water authorities have started releasing water to avoid potential large volume releases in the near future that would cause flooding in several outer Sydney suburbs downstream.

You might imagine this rain is good, with us coming out of a long drought. But it’s hit farmers in rural regions at exactly the wrong time. They were just about ready to harvest spring crops, and expecting a bumper crop, when this rain arrived and has ruined many crops and made harvesting impossible because of the sodden land. So we may be in for a grain shortfall in the next few months.

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Soggy Sunday

The rainy weather well and truly set in today. And it was really cold. The forecast maximum was 17°C for Sydney, but it only reached a maximum temperature of 14.7°C… at 08:21 this morning. The temperature has been dropping from there all day, as the rain built up and became a steady heavy pour this afternoon.

We took Scully out for a walk early this morning, in a period where we only had to put up with a light sprinkle. Apart from that, it was really a day to huddle inside. Since we didn’t want to exercise Scully outside in the pouring rain, we invited her poodle friend Luna over from next door, and the two of them had a rough and tumble play inside.

I worked on some comics stuff, making sure I have a buffer to cover a trip away next weekend. And that was about it.

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