Diary of a geek

September 2014
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Andrew Pollock

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Monday, 01 September 2014

Day 215: Kindergarten, tinkering, massage and some shopping

Zoe was yelling out for me at 1:30am because her polar bear had fallen out of bed. She then proceeded to have a massive sleep in until 7:30am, so the morning was a little bit rushed.

That said, she took it upon herself to make breakfast while I was in the shower, which was pretty impressive.

Being the first day of Spring and a nice day at that, I wanted to get back into the habit of biking to Kindergarten, so despite it being a bit late, even though we did a very good job of getting ready in a hurry, we biked to Kindergarten. Zoe was singing all the way there, it was very cute.

I got home and spent the day getting Puppet to manage my BeagleBone Black, since I'd had to reinstall it as it had semi-died over the weekend.

I'd moved my massage from Wednesday to today, since there's a Father's Day thing on at Kindergarten on Wednesday, so I had a massage, and then went directly to pick up Zoe.

We went out to Westfield Carindale after pick up, to try and get some digital cameras donated to the Kindergarten to replace the ones they've got, which have died. I wasn't successful on the spot. Then we dropped past the pet shop to get some more kitty litter for Smudge, and then got home.

We'd barely gotten home and then Sarah arrived to pick Zoe up.

[00:17] [life] [permalink]

Day 212: A trip to the pool

This is what I get for not blogging on the day of, I can't clearly remember what we did on Friday now...

I had the plumber out in the morning, and then some cleaners to give a quote. I can't remember what we did after that.

After lunch we biked to Colmslie Pool and swam for a bit, I remember that much, and then I had some friends join Anshu and us for dinner, but the rest is coming up blank.

[00:05] [life] [permalink]

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Day 211: A trip to the museum with Megan and a swim assessment

Today was a nice full day. It was go go go from the moment my feet hit the floor, though

I had a magnificent 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep courtesy of a sleeping pill, some pseudoephedrine and a decongestant spray.

I started off with a great yoga class, and then headed over to Sarah's to pick up Zoe. The traffic was phenomenally bad on the way there, and I got there quite late, so I offered to drop Sarah at work on the way back to my place, since I had no particular schedule.

After I'd dropped Sarah off, I was pondering what to do today, as the weather looked a bit dubious. I asked Zoe if she wanted to go to the museum. She was keen for that, and asked if Megan could come too, so I called up Jason on the way home to see she wanted to come with us, and directly picked her up on the way home.

We briefly stopped at home to grab my Dad Bag and some snacks, and headed to the bus stop. We managed to walk (well, make a run for) straight onto the bus and headed into the museum.

The Museum and the Sciencecentre are synonymous to Zoe, despite the latter requiring admission (we've got an annual membership). In trying to use my membership to get a discounted Sciencecentre ticket for Megan, I managed to score a free family pass instead, which I was pretty happy about.

We got into the Sciencecentre, which was pretty busy with a school excursion, and girls started checking it out. The problem was they both wanted to call the shots on what they did and didn't like not getting their way. Once I instituted some turn-taking, everything went much more smoothly, and they had a great time.

We had some lunch in the cafe and then spent some more time in the museum itself before heading for the bus. We narrowly missed the bus 30 minutes earlier than I was aiming for, so I asked the girls if they wanted to take the CityCat instead. Megan was very keen for that, so we walked over to Southbank and caught the CityCat instead.

I was half expecting Zoe to want to be carried back from the CityCat stop, but she was good with walking back. Again, some turn taking as to who was the "leader" walking back helped keep the peace.

I had to get over to Chandler for Zoe's new potential swim school to assess her for level placement, so I dropped Megan off on the way, and we got to the pool just in time.

Zoe did me very proud and did a fantastic job of swimming, and was placed in the second-highest level of their learn to swim program. We also ran into her friend from Kindergarten, Vaeda, who was killing time while her brother had a swim class. So Zoe and Vaeda ended up splashing around in the splash pool for a while after her assessment.

Once I'd managed to extract Zoe from the splash pool, and got her changed, we headed straight back to Sarah's place to drop her off. So we pretty much spent the entire day out of the house. Zoe and Megan had a good day together, and I managed to figure out pretty quickly how to keep the peace.

[04:06] [life] [permalink]

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Day 210: Running and a picnic, with a play date and some rain

I had a rotten night's sleep last night. Zoe woke up briefly around midnight wanting a cuddle, and then I woke up again at around 3am and couldn't get back to sleep. I surprised I'm not more trashed, really.

It was a nice day today, so I made a picnic lunch, and we headed out to Minnippi Parklands to do a run with Zoe in the jogging stroller. It was around 10am by the time we arrived, and I had grand plans of running 10 km. I ran out of steam after about 3.5 km, conveniently at the "Rocket Park" at Carindale, which Zoe's been to a few times before.

So we stopped there for a bit of a breather, and then I ran back again for another 3 km or so, in a slightly different route, before I again ran out of puff, and walked the rest of the way back.

We then proceeded to have our picnic lunch and a bit of a play, before I dropped her off at Megan's house for a play while I chaired the PAG meeting at Kindergarten.

After that, and extracting Zoe, which is never a quick task, we headed home to get ready for swim class. It started to rain and look a bit thundery, and as we arrived at swim class we were informed that lessons were canceled, so we turned around and headed back home.

Zoe watched a bit of TV and then Sarah arrived to pick her up. I'm going to knock myself out with a variety of drugs tonight and hope I get a good night's sleep with minimum of cold symptoms.

[00:50] [life] [permalink]

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Day 209: Startup stuff, Kindergarten, tennis and a play date

Last night was not a good night for sleep. I woke up around 12:30am for some reason, and then Zoe woke up around 2:30am (why is it always 2:30am?), but I managed to get her to go back to bed in her own bed. I was not feeling very chipper this morning.

Today was photo day at Kindergarten, so I spent some extra time braiding Zoe's hair (at her request) before we headed to Kindergarten.

When I got home, I got stuck into my real estate license assessment and made a lot of progress on the current unit today. I also mixed in some research on another idea I'm running with at the moment, which I'm very excited about.

I biked to Kindergarten to pick Zoe up, and managed to get her all sorted out in time for her tennis class, and she did the full class without any interruptions.

After tennis, we went to Megan's house for a bit. As we were leaving, her neighbour asked if we could help video one of her daughters doing the ALS ice bucket challenge thing, so we got a bit waylaid doing that, before we got home.

I managed to get Zoe down to bed a bit early tonight. My cold is really kicking my butt today. I hope we both sleep well tonight.

[03:29] [life] [permalink]

Monday, 25 August 2014

Day 208: Kindergarten, running, insurance assessments, home improvements, BJJ and a babyccino

Today was a pretty busy day. I started off with a run, and managed to do 6 km this morning. I feel like I'm coming down with yet another cold, so I'm happy that I managed to get out and run at all, let alone last 6 km.

Next up, I had to get the car assessed after a minor rear-end collision it suffered on Saturday night (nobody was hurt, I wasn't at fault). I was really impressed with NRMA Insurance's claim processing, it was all very smooth. I've since learned that they even have a smartphone app for ensuring that one gets all the pertinent information after an accident.

I dropped into Bunnings on the way home to pick up a sliding rubbish bin. I've been wanting one of these ever since I moved into my place, and finally got around to doing it. I also grabbed some LED bulbs from Beacon.

After I got home, I spent the morning installing and reinstalling the rubbish bin (I suck at getting these things right first go) and swapping light bulbs around. Overall, it was a very satisfying morning scratching a few itches around the house that had been bugging me for a while.

I biked over to Kindergarten for pick up again, and we biked back home and didn't have a lot of time before we had to head out for Zoe's second freebie Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class. This class was excellent, there were 8 kids in total, and 2 other girls. Zoe got to do some "rolling" with a partner. It was so cute to watch. They just had to try and block each other from touching their knees, and if they failed, they had to drop to the floor and hop back up again. For each of Zoe's partners they were very civilized and took turns at failing to block.

Zoe was pretty tired after the class. It was definitely the most strenuous class she's had to date, and she briefly fell asleep in the car on the way home. We had to make a stop at the Garage to grab some mushrooms for the mushroom soup we were making for dinner.

Zoe helped me make the mushroom soup, and after dinner to popped out for a babyccino. It's been a while since we've had a post-dinner one, and it was nice to do it again. We also managed to get through the entire afternoon without and TV, which I thought was excellent.

[03:49] [life] [permalink]

Friday, 22 August 2014

Day 205: Rainy day play, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu refresher

I had grand plans of doing a 10 km run in the Minnippi Parklands, pushing Zoe in the stroller, followed by some bike riding practise for Zoe and a picnic lunch. Instead, it rained. We had a really nice day, nevertheless.

Zoe slept well again, and I woke up pretty early and was already well and truly awake when she got out of bed, so as a result we were ready to hit the road reasonably early. Since it was raining, I thought a visit to Lollipops Play Cafe would be a fun treat.

We got there about 10 minutes before the play cafe opened, so after some puddle stomping, we popped into Bunnings to get a few things, and then went to Lollipops.

Unfortunately Jason was tied up, so Megan couldn't join us. I did run into Mel, a mother from Kindergarten, who was there with her son, Matthew, and daughter. So instead of practising my knots or doing my real estate license assessment, I ended up having a chat with her , which was nice. She mentioned that she had some stuff to try and do in the afternoon, so I asked if Matthew wanted to come over for a play date for a couple of hours. He was keen for that.

So we went home, and I made some lunch for us, and then Mel dropped Matthew off at around 1pm, and they had a great time playing. I think first up they played a game of hide and seek, and then my practise rope got used for quite a bit of tug-o-war, and then we did some craft. After that I busted out the kinetic sand, and that kept them occupied for ages. They also just had a bit of a play with all the boxes on the balcony. It was a really nice play session. I like it when boys come over for a play date, as the dynamic is totally different, and Zoe and Matthew played really well together.

I dropped Matthew back home on the way to Zoe's Brazilian Jiu Jitsu class. Infinity Martial Arts was running a "please come back" promotion, where you could have two free lessons and a new uniform, so I figured, why not? I'd like to give Zoe the choice of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu again or gymnastics for Term 4, and this seemed like a good way of refreshing her memory as to what Brazilian Jiu Jitsu was. I'm hoping that Tumbletastics will do a free lesson in the school holidays as well, so Zoe will be able to make a reasonably informed choice.

Zoe's now in the "4 to 7" age group for BJJ classes, and there was just one other boy in the class today. She did really well, and the new black Gi looks really good on her. She also had the same teacher, Patrick, who she's really fond of, so it was a good afternoon all round. We stayed and watched a little bit of the 7 to 11 age group class that followed before heading back home.

We'd barely gotten home and Sarah arrived to pick up Zoe, so the day went quite quickly really, without being too hectic.

[02:45] [life] [permalink]

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Day 204: Workshops Rail Museum

Zoe had a fabulous night's sleep and so did I. Despite that, I felt a bit tired today. Might have been all the unusual exercise yesterday.

After a leisurely start, we headed off in the direction of the Workshops Rail Museum for the day. We dropped past OfficeWorks on the way to return something I got months ago and didn't like, and I used the opportunity to grab a couple of cute little A5-sized clipboards. I'm going to keep one in the car and one in my Dad bag, so Zoe can doodle when we're on the go. I also discovered that one can buy reams of A5 paper.

We arrived at the Workshops, which were pretty quiet, except for a school excursion. Apparently they're also filming a movie there somewhere at the moment too (not in the museum part).

Despite Zoe's uninterrupted night's sleep, she fell asleep in the car on the way there, which was highly unusual. I let her sleep for a while in the car once we got there, before I woke her up. She woke up a bit grumpy, but once she realised where we were, she was very excited.

We had a good time doing the usual things, and then had a late lunch, and a brief return to the museum before heading over to Kim's place before she had to leave to pick up Sarah from school. Zoe and I looked after Tom and played with his massive pile of glitter play dough until Kim got back with Sarah.

Zoe and Sarah had their usual fabulous time together for about an hour before we had to head home. I'd had dinner going in the slow cooker, so it was nice and easy to get dinner on the table once we got home.

Despite her nap, Zoe went to bed easily. Now I have to try and convince Linux to properly print two-up on A4 paper. The expected methods aren't working for me.

[03:46] [life] [permalink]

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Day 203: Kindergarten, a run and cleaning

I started the day off with a run. It was just a very crappy 5 km run, but it was nice to be feeling well enough to go for a run, and have the weather cooperate as well. I look forward to getting back to 10 km in my near future.

I had my chiropractic adjustment and then got stuck into cleaning the house.

Due to some sort of scheduling SNAFU, I didn't have a massage today. I'm still not quite sure what happened there, but I biked over and everything. The upside was it gave me some more time to clean.

It also worked out well, because I'd booked a doctor's appointment pretty close after my massage, so it was going to be tight to get from one place to the other.

With my rediscovered enthusiasm for exercise, and cooperative weather, I decided to bike to Kindergarten for pick up. Zoe was very excited. I'd also forgotten that Zoe had a swim class this afternoon, so we only had about 30 minutes at home before we had to head out again (again by bike) to go to swim class. I used the time to finish cleaning, and Zoe helped mop her bathroom.

Zoe wanted to hang around and watch Megan do her swim class, so we didn't get away straight away, which made for a slightly late dinner.

Zoe was pretty tired by bath time. Hopefully she'll have a good sleep tonight.

[04:18] [life] [permalink]

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Day 202: Kindergarten, a lot of administrative running around, tennis

Yesterday was a pretty busy day. I hardly stopped, and on top of a poor night's sleep, I was pretty exhausted by the end of the day.

I started the day with a yoga class, because a few extraordinary things had popped up on my schedule, meaning this was the only time I could get to a class this week. It was a beginner's class, but it was nice to have a slower pace for a change, and an excellent way to start the day off.

I drove to Sarah's place to pick up Zoe and take her to Kindergarten, and made a bad choice for the route, and the traffic was particularly bad, and we got to Kindergarten a bit later than normal.

After I dropped Zoe off, I headed straight to the post office to get some passport photos for the application for my certificate of registration. I also noticed that they now had some post office boxes available (I was a bit miffed because I'd been actively discouraged from putting my name down for one earlier in the year because of the purported length of the wait list). I discovered that one does not simply open a PO box in the name of a business, one needs letters of authority and print outs of ABNs and whatnot, so after I got my passport photos and made a few other impulse purchases (USB speakers for $1.99?!) I headed back home to gather the other documentation I needed.

By the time I'd done that and a few other bits and pieces at home, it was time to pop back to get my yoga teacher to certify my photos. Then I headed into the city to lodge the application in person. I should get the piece of paper in 6 weeks or so.

Then I swung past the post office to complete my PO box application (successfully this time) and grab some lunch, and update my mailing address with the bank. By the time I'd done all that, I had enough time to swing past home to grab Zoe's tennis racquet and a snack for her and head to Kindergarten to pick her up.

Today's tennis class went much better. Giving her a snack before the class started was definitely the way to go. She'd also eaten a good lunch, which would have helped. I just need to remember to get her to go to the toilet, then she should be all good for an interruption-free class.

I dropped Zoe directly back to Sarah after tennis class today, and then swung by OfficeWorks to pick up some stationery on the way home.

[18:26] [life] [permalink]

Monday, 18 August 2014

Day 201: Kindergarten, some startup stuff, car wash and a trip to the vet ophthalmologist

Zoe woke up at some point in the night and ended up in bed with me. I don't even remember when it was.

We got going reasonably quickly this morning, and Zoe wanted porridge for breakfast, so I made a batch of that in the Thermomix.

She was a little bit clingy at Kindergarten for drop off. She didn't feel like practising writing her name in her sign-in book. Fortunately Miss Sarah was back from having done her prac elsewhere, and Zoe had been talking about missing her on the way to Kindergarten, so that was a good distraction, and she was happy to hang out with her while I left.

I used the morning to do some knot practice for the rock climbing course I've signed up for next month. It was actually really satisfying doing some knots that previously I'd found to be mysterious.

I had a lunch meeting over at the Royal Brisbane Women's Hospital to bounce a startup idea off a couple of people, so I headed over there for a very useful lunch discussion and then briefly stopped off at home before picking up Zoe from Kindergarten.

Zoe had just woken up from a nap before I arrived, and was a bit out of sorts. She perked up a bit when we went to the car wash and had a babyccino while the car got cleaned. Sarah was available early, so I dropped Zoe around to her straight after that.

I'd booked Smudge in for a consult with a vet ophthalmologist to get her eyes looked at, so I got back home again, and crated her and drove to Underwood to see the vet. He said that she had the most impressive case of eyelid agenesis he'd ever seen. She also had persistent pupillary membranes in each eye. He said that the eyelid agenesis is a pretty common birth defect in what he called "dumpster cats", which for all we know, is exactly what Smudge (or more importantly, her mother) were. He also said that other eye defects, like the membranes she had, were common in cases where there was eyelid agenesis.

The surgical fix was going to come in at something in the order of $2,000 an eye, be a pretty long surgery, and involve some crazy transplanting of lip tissue. Cost aside, it didn't sound like a lot of fun for Smudge, and given her age and that she's been surviving the way she is, I can't see myself wanting to spend the money to put her through it. The significantly cheaper option is to just religiously use some lubricating eye gel.

After that, I got home with enough time to eat some dinner and then head out to crash my Thermomix Group Leader's monthly team meeting to see what it was like. I got a good vibe from that, so I'm happy to continue with my consultant application.

[04:41] [life] [permalink]

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Solar follow up

Now that I've had my solar generation system for a little while, I thought I'd write a follow up post on how it's all going.

Energex came out a week ago last Saturday and swapped my electricity meter over for a new digital one that measures grid consumption and excess energy exported. Prior to that point, it was quite fun to watch the old analog meter going backwards. I took a few readings after the system was installed, through to when the analog meter was disconnected, and the meter had a value 26 kWh lower than when I started.

I've really liked how the excess energy generated during the day has effectively masked any relatively small overnight power consumption.

Now that I have the new digital meter things are less exciting. It has a meter measuring how much power I'm buying from the grid, and how much excess power I'm exporting back to the grid. So far, I've bought 32 kWh and exported 53 kWh excess energy. Ideally I want to minimise the excess because what I get paid for it is about a third of what I have to pay to buy it from the grid. The trick is to try and shift around my consumption as much as possible to the daylight hours so that I'm using it rather than exporting it.

On a good day, it seems I'm generating about 10 kWh of energy.

I'm still impatiently waiting for PowerOne to release their WiFi data logger card. Then I'm hoping I can set up something automated to submit my daily production to PVOutput for added geekery.

[17:31] [tech] [permalink]

Day 198: Dentist, play date and some Science Friday

First up on Friday morning was Zoe's dentist appointment. When Sarah dropped her off, we jumped in the car straight away and headed out. It's a long way to go for a 10 minute appointment, but it's worth it for the "Yay! I can't wait!" reaction I got when I told her she was going a few days prior.

Having a positive view of dental care is something that's very important to me, as teeth are too permanent to muck around with. The dentist was very happy with her teeth, and sealed her back molars. Apparently it's all the rage now, as these are the ones that hang around until she's 12.

Despite this being her third appointment with this dentist, Zoe was feeling a bit shy this time, so she spent the whole time reclining on me in the chair. She otherwise handled the appointment like a trooper.

After we got home, I had a bit of a clean up before Zoe's friend from Kindergarten, Vaeda and her Mum came over for lunch. The girls had a good time playing together really nicely for a couple of hours afterwards.

I was flicking through 365 Science Experiments, looking for something physics-related for a change, when I happened on the perfect thing. The girls were already playing with a bunch of balloons that I'd blown up for them, so I just charged one up with static electricity and made their hair stand on end, and also picked up some torn up paper. Easy.

After Vaeda left, we did the weekend grocery shop early, since we were going away for the bulk of the weekend.

It was getting close to time to start preparing dinner after that. Anshu came over for dinner and we all had a nice dinner together.

[04:05] [life] [permalink]

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Day 197: Ekka outing

I started the day with a yoga class. It was good to be back. I missed last week's class because I was under the weather, and was really missing yoga. It was just me and one other student this morning, so it was nice.

I picked up Zoe from Sarah's place this morning. She was a bit wrecked from an outing to the Ekka yesterday with Sarah, but adamant that she wasn't tired, and still wanted to go to the Ekka with me today.

I decided that given she was up for it, and tomorrow's schedule didn't really permit going, it had to be today or bust, so I figured we'd just go and take it gently, and go home at the first sign of trouble.

The day worked out perfectly fine. We caught the train in, and stopped at the animal nursery first. Zoe got to hand feed some lambs, goats and calves, as well as hold a baby chicken.

The main goal for the day was the rides, so we headed over there, after I'd gotten propositioned by the Surf Life Savers for a raffle ticket, and located some fairy floss for Zoe. Suitably sugared up, we hit the kids rides area.

I'd prepurchased a $40 ride card, at a $5 discount, and tried to impress upon Zoe that once it was exhausted, we were done with the rides. She seemed to get that. I did less well with convincing her to check out everything on offer before we started blowing money on rides.

The first thing she wanted to go on was the Magic Circus, which they mercifully only charged us entry for one on. It was a pretty cool multi-level physical sensory sort of thing. It was fun to go with her.

After that we waited in line for an eternity for bungy trampoline. This was where I wished we'd scouted around a bit first, because we waited in line for ages for a single trampoline, where there were another four standing idle a bit further down. I used the wait to grab a bit of food and share it with Zoe.

Next, we went on the dodgem cars. That was heaps of fun. Zoe couldn't reach the pedal, but she could steer (with a little bit of help occasionally). She seems to really enjoy rides where she gets thrown around. She's going to be a total adrenaline junkie when she's bigger I think.

What I thought was going to be her last ride was the Big Bubble Bump, those big air-inflated balls on a wading pool. She was very keen for that one, and the line was short. She had lots of fun tumbling all over the place.

With a little bit of extra assistance, we managed to squeeze one more go on the Magic Circus out of the ride card, which made her very happy.

After the obligatory strawberry sundae, she was pretty much done, and we'd managed to avoid the rain, so we headed home. I thought she was going to fall asleep on the train on the way home, but she didn't, and perked up by the time we got home. I tried to convince her to nap in my bed while I read a book, but she ended up just playing with Smudge while I read for a bit.

After the quiet time, we went for a scooter ride around the block, via the Hawthorne Garage, to collect some produce for making a fresh batch of vegetable stock concentrate, and then Sarah arrived to pick Zoe up.

It was a really good day, and Zoe went really well. I bet she crashes tonight.

[03:32] [life] [permalink]

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Day 195: Kindergarten, tennis, play date

Today should have have been more focused on my real estate licence training than it was, but live intruded.

Zoe had a good sleep, almost bang on 11 hours. She was happy but very congested when she woke up. Today was pajama day at Kindergarten, and she was very excited. As I result, I got her to Kindergarten quite quickly.

After I got home, I gave Zoe's bunk bed drawers another coat of sealant and by the time I was done with that, I pretty much had to jump on a bus to the city for a lunch meeting. I got a tiny bit of work done on my next course assessment on the bus.

After my lunch meeting I jumped in a taxi back home to meet with my Thermomix Group Leader to give her my application to become a consultant and then it was time to pick up Zoe from Kindergarten.

I almost got to Kindergarten before I realised that in my haste, I hadn't grabbed a change of clothes for Zoe to do tennis in. Fortunately I'd repacked her spare clothes for Kindergarten that morning, so after some brief dithering, I decided to run with that set of clothes. It worked out okay.

I think with tennis, it's a battle between being hungry after Kindergarten and tired after Kindergarten. Zoe did a better job of being focused, but still was ready to pack it in a little bit before the end of class. Still fighting off a cold can't have helped either. Next week I'll try and remember to bring a quick snack for her to eat between Kindergarten and tennis.

Zoe was desperate for Megan to come over for a play date after tennis. Jason had some stuff to do first, so we came home, and Zoe watched a bit of TV, and then Jason dropped Megan off and dashed off to Bunnings for a bit.

I ended up having dinner ready by the time he was due back, so I suggested they all stay for dinner, which they did, and then they went home afterwards.

Zoe was pretty tired, so I got her to bed a bit early.

[03:20] [life] [permalink]

Monday, 11 August 2014

Day 194: Kindergarten, random household stuff

I had grand plans of going for a run this morning before I got stuck into my day. The fact that I don't even remember my alarm going off, or turning it off and then waking up an hour later shows that I'm still not quite over my cold. I did feel better for the sleep in though.

After I got started, I applied the last coat of sealant to the drawers under Zoe's bed (that's a story for another time) and then decided to get stuck into cleaning the front balcony, which looks a bit like a craft shop exploded on it.

I stopped for lunch and then did some more mopping before it was time to pick up Zoe from Kindergarten.

After I picked her up, we popped over to Bunnings to grab some more sealant and a drop cloth, and also dropped past Overflow. I found the sort of cat water thing that I've been wanting for Smudge, and Zoe got all excited about a number 4 sparkler.

I'm also trying to track down a plush soccer ball-sized ball for kicking around the garage downstairs, without luck. We dropped into K Mart and couldn't find one, but Zoe wanted every doll in sight. We bumped into one of Zoe's Kindergarten teachers on the way out of the shopping centre. Zoe's very excited about pajama day tomorrow.

By the time we got home, it was pretty much time to start dinner. I finished off mopping the balcony first, while Zoe watched some TV.

Zoe had a really good dinner tonight. She tends to do pretty well with my Meatless Monday dinners. The zucchini fritters are always popular, and go well in her lunch box the next day too.

She's still a bit congested, but her cough is definitely improving.

[02:40] [life] [permalink]

Friday, 08 August 2014

Day 191: A quiet day at home, Science Friday returns

Zoe woke up at 2:30am because she'd lost Cowie, and then woke up at 6am for the day. It took some effort to get out of bed this morning.

Getting out of the shower, I received a call from a trainer at the REIQ this morning saying I'd officially passed the registration block of my real estate license training. I'll get a Certificate of Registration, which is the bare minimum to work in the Real Estate industry soon. I took a moment to reflect on the fact that I've only been working on this for about 3 months, so it's a nice milestone and achievement. I've got plenty more units to do to get my full licence though.

Zoe was a bit more sniffly today, so I thought a quiet day at home was in order. I haven't done Science Friday since we got back from our US trip, mostly due to lack of planning. I wasn't that much more prepared today, but I did think of it earlier in the day, so we did a couple of things.

First up, we tried a twist on the old "vinegar and sodium bicarbonate" one that we've done in the past. This time, we filled a balloon with the sodium bicarbonate, and put some vinegar in the bottom of an empty 2 litre soft drink bottle. We put the balloon on the neck of the bottle and allowed the sodium bicarbonate to fall into the bottle. We got enough gas from the reaction to inflate the balloon, although some leaked out around the thread on the neck. Zoe was impressed.

I've also had two jars of polyvinyl alcohol solution sitting in the fridge since we last tried making slime, so it was a pretty easy one to just make another batch of slime. This time Zoe chose yellow.

Zoe wanted to work on the cardboard box robot she's been on and off wanting to make, but after a trip to the compost bin, it was time for lunch. After a fairly sizeable meltdown, we had some lunch.

I couldn't find my Leatherman after lunch, so we couldn't work on the robot anyway, so we read some books instead. Zoe wanted to read her Grug books, so I decided it was a good day to surprise her with the plush Grug that I'd purchased on impulse last year and squirreled away.

After some reading, I thought I'd try and get her to take a nap, so I told her that she could sleep in my bed and I'd read for a bit. She liked that idea and was in my bed faster than you could say "Jack Robinson". After reading some e-books, she fell asleep pretty quickly, and I used the couple of hours to catch up on some reading.

She woke up a little bit grumpy, but perked up after some TV and afternoon tea and then Sarah arrived to pick her up. It was nice to have a quiet day at home. The only time we left the house was to visit the compost bin.

[04:46] [life] [permalink]

Thursday, 07 August 2014

Day 190: Hand casting, rock climbing and a play date

We had a pretty busy day today, even though we didn't do that much. Between some strange lower back pain and my cold, I felt pretty wiped out by mid-afternoon.

Zoe slept pretty well. She woke up around 6am, but given I put her to bed a bit early, that wasn't entirely unexpected.

I capitalised on having some extra adult help, and after breakfast, we had another attempt at taking a mold of Zoe's hand. With some more accurate scales and a little more care mixing it up, we were much more successful this time. We poured some plaster of Paris into the mold and left it to set while we went rock climbing.

It was good to go to Rocksports with another adult. It meant I could squeeze in a couple of climbs myself, and there was someone else to take photos while Zoe climbed. Zoe did pretty well again, going progressively higher every time she attempted a climb, but wanting to come down before making it to the top.

After a late lunch at home, we took the cast of Zoe's hand out of the mold. It turned out pretty well for our first full attempt. I had to have her curl her fingers slightly when it was being made so it would fit in the alginate, and unfortunately the plaster didn't properly file into all the fingers properly, so there's some air bubbles in the tips of a couple of her fingers, but failing that, the detail isn't too bad at all. Zoe was pretty impressed with the result. I think there should be enough alginate left for one more attempt.

After that, we headed around to Megan's house for a play date and to check on the progress of the house extensions.

Anshu headed home from there, and not longer afterwards, Zoe and I headed back so I could start dinner.

Zoe was pretty tired from her big morning of climbing, so I put her to bed early again.

[04:26] [life] [permalink]

Wednesday, 06 August 2014

Day 189: Kindergarten, a bit more cleaning, a little bit of startup stuff, swimming

I felt a bit better today after a good night's sleep, but still not great. I had a lazy start to the day, blogging in bed about my recent geeky endeavours (of which I am very proud), until I remembered I had my chiropractor appointment.

Then I finished off the cleaning I didn't finish yesterday. I should have done some of my real estate licence study, but first I got side-tracked making my Chromecast work with Netflix (successfully, which also pleased me immensely), and then I did about an hour's worth of work on assessment for my real estate training, before it was time to get a massage.

I've been a little bit sore ever since my trampolining last week, so I've been particularly looking forward to today's massage.

After that I caught up with Anshu for lunch, and then we picked up Zoe from Kindergarten.

She seemed to be doing better today, and said she was up for her swim class, so after a brief play at home, we all headed out to the pool. After we got back, Anshu had to head out to babysit for a friend, and I started on dinner.

Zoe was pretty tired, so I got her to bed a bit early without any fuss. Hopefully she sleeps well tonight.

[03:25] [life] [permalink]

Tuesday, 05 August 2014

Lifehacking with NFC, Tasker and HabitRPG

Oh man, I'm such a geek...

Being a single parent has required a considerable amount of self-discipline on my behalf. I find I do best in an environment with routine to make sure stuff gets done. One of the things I did to try and make sure stuff got done was to form positive habits. To help and make this a bit more "fun", I started using HabitRPG, an online role-playing game based on habits.

I've only ever used it in a half-arsed manner, and as a result, I die a lot. Often I'll do my dailies, but then forget to mark them off. Sometimes I just fall off the habit wagon altogether. And die.

One of my dailies is to scoop my cat's litterboxes. For whatever reason, I find this a tad onerous, and had found myself falling out of the habit of doing it on a daily basis. My cat deserves better than this, so I wanted to get back on the habit wagon, but make it a bit more "fun" as well.

I love NFC, I've been a big NFC weenie for a long time. It's a solution looking for a problem. I have a huge collection of NFC tags, and I've finally found a problem I could use them with. I wanted to make it more frictionless to mark a task as completed in HabitRPG. I didn't want to have to take out my phone, unlock it, open the HabitRPG app and check off the daily task. I just wanted to wave my phone at an NFC tag. Here's how I did it.

The inimitable Paul Fenwick, who first inspired me to use HabitRPG, has a way more complicated set up to achieve something similar. The Site Reliability Engineer in me wanted the least number of moving parts and third-parties to have to get from my phone to HabitRPG.

After some hunting around, I found this wiki page on integrating Tasker with HabitRPG's API, so based on that breadcrumb, I got hacking.

I'd not used Tasker before. I was already using AutomateIt to do some other, reasonably dumb automation on my phone, though. Tasker is a little bit obtuse, and it took me a couple of days of casual fiddling with it to wrap my head around it's usage model. The fact that it can run arbitrary JavaScript, and that NFC Tools integrates with it is where the real awesome lies.

So based off the wiki, I crafted a couple of bits of JavaScript, one to mark daily tasks as complete on HabitRPG, and one to query HabitRPG to see if they have been marked as complete.

For the former, it was trivial, using NFC Tools, to write an NFC tag that then runs the Tasker task to call the HabitRPG API to mark a daily task as complete. That goal was now complete.

The equally satisfying part was also having Tasker do a time-based conditional nag based on the state of the daily task in HabitRPG. So now if it gets to 4:45pm and I haven't scooped the litterboxes, my phone literally tells me I'd better go do it.

I've also done the same thing with putting the dishwasher on. I've stuck an NFC tag on the dishwashing powder bottle lid, and I get a conditional reminder before bed time. It used to be an unconditional reminder with AutomateIt, and it was dumb, because I rarely forget to put the dishwasher on. Now, I can use HabitRPG to keep state on it instead.

The hunk of JavaScript to update HabitRPG is very simple:

function mark_completed() { 
  var http = new XMLHttpRequest();
  http.open("POST", http_post_url, false);
  http.setRequestHeader("x-api-user", global('HabitrpgUserid'));
  http.setRequestHeader("x-api-key", global('HabitrpgApiToken'));
  http.send();
  return(http.responseText); 
}

try { 
  var result = mark_completed(); 
} catch(e) { 
  var error = e.message; 
}

All of the interesting stuff is defined in variables preceding the JavaScript in the task definition. Here's a screenshot of the Task in Tasker that tells a thousand words:

Screenshot of Tasker task that uses HabitRPG API to mark a
task complete

Similarly, to query HabitRPG, I'm using:

function query_task() { 
  var http = new XMLHttpRequest();
  http.open("GET",http_get_url,false);
  http.setRequestHeader("x-api-user", global('HabitrpgUserid'));
  http.setRequestHeader("x-api-key", global('HabitrpgApiToken'));
  http.send();
  var p = JSON.parse(http.responseText);
  return p['completed'];
}

try { 
  var task_completed = query_task(); 
} catch(e) { 
  var error = e.message; 
}

It's only slightly trickier because you have to parse the JSON blob that comes back.

Again, a screenshot.

Screenshot of Tasker task that
uses HabitRPG API to query task state

Now maybe I'll stop dying so much in HabitRPG, my cat will have the clean toilet she deserves, and I'll stop getting reminded about putting the dishwasher on when I already have. Better living through automation, that's my motto.

[14:39] [geek] [permalink]

Day 188: Sickness, Thermomix consultancy, some tennis

Today derailed a bit. Sarah sent me a message saying that she thought Zoe was too sick to go to Kindergarten, so I picked her up and brought her home.

I had a 9am coffee lined up with the Thermomix Group Leader for my area to talk about becoming a Thermomix consultant, so Anshu offered to stay and keep an eye on Zoe for me, which made going to that still a possibility.

The chat ended up going a lot longer than I expected, so Anshu hung around for lunch with us after I got back, and then left. I decided to just do the house cleaning today instead of tomorrow, and Zoe mostly just followed me around and helped and generally entertained herself.

She indicated to me that she'd still like to go to her tennis class, so we were getting ready for that when I got a text message from Megan's Mum about picking up Megan. We'd miscommunicated, and I hadn't realised I was picking her up, so it worked out well that we were still going to go for tennis.

So we drove to Kindergarten, collected Megan, and both girls went to tennis class. I used the time to give my accountant a call, and about half way through the class Zoe seemed to have had enough and sat it out.

After Megan finished, we drove home again and the girls played dress ups and generally entertained themselves, which was good, because I think I've contracted whatever illness Zoe currently has and am not feeling particularly perky.

Jason arrived to pick up Megan, and Sarah arrived shortly after, and I pretty much collapsed on the couch. I've decided that as much as I'd like to go to yoga class tonight, I'm going to give it a miss and go to bed early instead.

[02:33] [life] [permalink]

Monday, 04 August 2014

Day 187: Kindergarten, tinkering, a spot of break and entry and some baking

Today was busy. I didn't end up getting a chance to do any Debian work, but I did do some satisfying hacking, which I'll write about separately once I've got it slightly less... hackish.

Zoe slept solidly for about 12 hours. I was a bit slow getting going this morning, and that made us a bit late getting to Kindergarten. Drop off was nice and quick and easy though.

I was supposed to have a coffee with my downstairs neighbour, Michelle, who was in the process of moving out. She had asked if she could borrow an Allen key to dismantle her bed, so I popped down with that when I got home. She'd also managed to misplace her wallet, and thought it might be at her boyfriend's house. Long story short, we ended up over there with a ladder to get into his house and (fortunately) retrieve her wallet before we ended up having our coffee.

After that, I did some hacking on my phone to try and integrate NFC with HabitRPG, which ended up being successful, but not ideally so. I managed to get that going before just before Anshu arrived to come with me to Kindergarten to pick up Zoe and Megan.

I'd asked the girls if they wanted to help bake some carrot and kale muffins when we got home, but they quickly got distracted doing some craft, so they did that while Anshu and I started on the muffins. Part way through, they decided they wanted to help after all, so they took turns throwing ingredients into the Thermomix. They then proceeded to lick the bowl clean while watching them rise in the oven.

Zoe wanted to watch an episode of Spiderman on her tablet, and so did Megan, so I put it on the TV with the Chromecast and they happily watched it while the muffins finished baking.

After that, Zoe and Megan went for a scooter around the block with us while I put a letter in the mail and picked up some mushrooms from the Hawthorne Garage. By that stage Sarah was on her way to pick up Zoe, so we got home and got Zoe organised to get picked up.

Sarah picked up Zoe, but Jason was held up in traffic, so Megan came back upstairs and watched some more TV until Jason arrived.

It was a nice, busy afternoon, which went quite quickly.

[01:57] [life] [permalink]

Friday, 01 August 2014

Day 184: Random fun, trampolining, Hawthorne Markets

Today I had planned to take Zoe up to Sunshine Castle, which is apparently bigger than it was when I went as a kid, but she wasn't interested in going, so I decided not to push it.

So after watching a bit of TV, and us having some random play (pillow fights!), I hunted around for an indoor trampoline place, and got very lucky in discovering BOUNCEinc had just opened a location in Tingalpa.

Zoe watched a video on their website with me, and was up for it without any argument.

We got out there for the 11am session. It's a massive facility. I'm not sure if it was purpose built, or if it's just a repurposed industrial shed, but it's all new and shiny, only having opened in May. Zoe, being under 110cm, was limited to using the "big bag" and a smaller, netted off section of the "free jumping" area, but that was plenty for us. Today was an unseasonably warm winter's day, and it got pretty hot. I can see the place being a veritable sauna in summer unless they do something about actively cooling it, which given the size will be quite an undertaking.

We had a really good time, and an hour was definitely enough. Zoe's favourite area was definitely the big bag, and I liked it too. Zoe was a hot, tired, hungry and grumpy little girl by midday. She wanted quesadillas for lunch, so we stopped by the Garage on the way home to grab what we needed and had a late lunch at home.

As we were going to go to the Hawthorne Markets that evening, I managed to convince Zoe to take a nap. Her cough seems to have returned with a vengeance though, and she coughed in her sleep all the way through her nap.

Zoe woke up with enough time to have some afternoon tea and get ready to walk down for the start of the markets. She was dying for Megan to come out as well, but Jason had forgotten about it, and said they weren't coming out, which disappointed Zoe immensely. Much to our pleasant surprise, the whole family did end up coming out, and Zoe was very happy to hang out with Megan.

We walked back home and I managed to get Zoe to bed reasonably close to normal time. I hope her cough doesn't give her too much grief overnight.

[03:22] [life] [permalink]

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Day 183: Scootering, home tennis lesson, laksa

Today was a really nice day, another one that wasn't too jam packed, but was continuously busy.

After a lovely yoga class this morning, I drove to Sarah's place to pick up Zoe.

I needed to pick up some more fruit from the Hawthorne Garage, so after we got back home, I walked and Zoe scootered there. She wanted to keep scootering afterwards, so we went the long way home, going around the block.

There was some sort of excavation going on at a house around the corner from the Garage, and they'd broken the water pipe, which was making for a bit of a spectacular geyser. That made for something interesting to look at on the way home.

Zoe wanted to stop off at Crackerjack Toys on the way back. We managed to escape without buying anything, but that wasn't without trying.

After that, we had a "tennis lesson" in the garage. It was fun. We alternated between role playing teacher and student, and rehashed a few things from the previous real tennis class.

I thought it'd be a good idea to show her what "real" tennis looked like, so after we'd finished downstairs, we came back upstairs and watched some random Wimbledon and Australian Open footage on YouTube. She seemed to enjoy it. I'm really enjoying explaining new sports to her.

After that, Zoe wanted to watch an episode of the Muppets on YouTube, so we watched that, and then it was about time to start heading into the Valley for lunch.

I've managed to make it onto the invite list for an irregular laksa lunch of a bunch of current and former employees of WebCentral (because one of my ex-co-workers was from WebCentral), and there was a lunch today. I've taken Zoe before and she enjoyed herself, so I thought I'd try it again today.

We walked to the CityCat, and managed to make it just in time to walk onto a ferry as it arrived, and then took the CityGlider bus to Chinatown. We had a bit of time to kill, which Zoe solved by making a toilet stop, and then we went to Super Bowl.

Zoe had her wonton noodle soup again, and also tried the salt and pepper squid. She was really well behaved again while the rest of us talked about stuff of no interest to her. She's such a good kid.

After lunch, we browsed the dollar stores, and Zoe saw a bubble tea place and wanted to try a bubble tea again, so we shared a bubble tea.

We ended up taking the cross-river ferry to Bulimba instead of the CityCat, because it came first. There was a lady with a 3 year old in a stroller that Zoe struck up a conversation with. It turned out they'd just moved up to Teneriffe from Sydney three weeks previously. The little girl also went to Hampton Swim School for swim lessons, and they were on their way to Morningside State School for a class that afternoon. I got talking with her mother, and we ended up exchanging details for a future play date.

By the time we got home, we had half an hour to kill until TV time, which Zoe spent jumping on my bed and getting tickled, and then we watched some TV. For some reason the TV wasn't on ABC2, but on the Commonwealth Games coverage, so we watched some women's javelin, and some women's 200M heats. It was good to be able to explain some more sports to Zoe, and also for her to see some women's events. She was happy watching the Games coverage for almost half an hour before asking for some kid's stuff.

After that, Anshu arrived, and then Sarah arrived not much later to pick up Zoe.

[05:08] [life] [permalink]

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Day 182: Errands, movie, bike ride and swim class

Zoe woke up at around midnight and ended up in bed with me. I think I'll be spending the weekend doing some retraining.

I had noticed that Tinkerbell and the Pirate Fairy was still showing at the Hawthorne Cineplex, so I thought I'd take Zoe today. She ended up doing a poor job listening this morning when we were trying to get going, so I told her we'd go see it tomorrow as a consequence.

We headed out to exchange her tennis racquet for a larger one, and picked up a few other bits and pieces while we were out. I got a witches hat from Bunnings, and now she's very excited about having a tennis lesson at home.

We dropped by the movie theatre to see what time the movie would be showing tomorrow, because they haven't published the times for the next week yet, and the time didn't really work for what I wanted to do tomorrow, so we ended up watching the movie today anyway.

The movie was pretty good. It's nice to see Disney allowing John Lasseter to have creative input into non-Pixar films. I noticed his name in the trailers for Frozen as well.

After that, we dropped into Ooniverse next door, and ended up having lunch there. I struck up a conversation with Nicky Noo. I can see an opportunity to potentially keep my recently acquired barista skills vaguely sharp by doing some freebie barista work there in my copious amounts of spare time.

We walked home after that, and to kill some time, we were going to do a bike tour of the local parks until it was time for Zoe's swim class. After pumping up the tyres and getting to Bulimba Memorial Park, that was about as far as we got before it was time to leave for swim class.

We biked over to the swim class, and I had a great time watching Zoe learning to roll and breathe. It's the last piece she needs to pick up before she can properly swim, and then it's just refinement. She didn't do too badly.

Megan arrived for her class, which was after Zoe's, so the girls got to briefly hang out, and Zoe wanted to stay for a bit to watch Megan swim.

After that, we biked home, and Sarah arrived a bit earlier than usual to pick up Zoe.

[03:32] [life] [permalink]

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Day 181: Kindergarten, startup stuff, tennis and haircuts

Zoe had a massive sleep last night. I had her in bed by 7:20pm. She woke up a little before 6am because she'd lost Cowie, and went back to sleep until 7:30am. I had planned to try biking to Kindergarten for the first time in ages, but we got to Kindergarten late enough as it was driving.

I pretty much spent the day studying for my real estate license. I selected finalists for the design contest I'm running on 99designs. If you'd like to vote, I'm running a poll.

I picked up Zoe from Kindergarten and walked her next door to her tennis lesson. She really didn't want to do it this afternoon, and it took some firm encouragement to get her to participate. I'm never sure where to draw the line, but based on the grinning and running around within seconds of her finally joining in, I think I made the right decision. I think the problem was she was too hot. It was quite a warm day today.

The plan after that had been to go back to Megan's house for a play date, but her little sister had come home from day care early, showing signs of conjunctivitis, so we instead went to the local coffee shop for a babyccino with Megan and her Dad. While we were there, I managed to snag an appointment for a haircut for me, and a fringe trim for Zoe, so we headed over there afterwards.

After our haircuts, it was pretty much time to start making dinner, so Zoe watched some TV, and I prepared dinner.

I managed to get Zoe to bed early. It'll be interesting to see if she has another massive sleep again.

[04:47] [life] [permalink]

Monday, 28 July 2014

Day 180: Kindergarten, recovery and an afternoon play date

I was away all weekend with Anshu, so I had to play weekend catch up when I got home this morning. After I'd unpacked the car and sorted out some lunch, I did the grocery shopping, and by the time I'd unpacked from that it was pretty much time to pick up Zoe and Megan from Kindergarten.

On the way home from Kindergarten, Zoe asked if they could go to the playground. I'd been intended to offer them the playground or a ferry ride, so this worked out nicely.

Zoe wanted to ride her scooter to the park, and Megan seemed happy to run alongside her, so this seemed like a win-win situation. There were a few other kids from Kindergarten at the playground as well.

The small world factor struck this afternoon. There was a mother at the playground that I'd seen at pick up time at Kindergarten, who I didn't recognise, so I struck up a conversation with her. It turns out she's the mother of a boy who was in Zoe's swim class last year. I'd previously spoken with her husband at swim school. They were from Melbourne, had had a stint up in Brisbane, returned to Melbourne, decided they liked Brisbane better, and just relocated back again. Their son, Miller, had gone to Zoe's Kindergarten last year as well, and his Dad had had good things to say about it Sarah at Zoe's swim class.

After the stint in the park, we came back home, and Zoe and Megan watched a bit of TV while I prepared dinner, and then Jason came to pick up Megan.

We had a nice dinner, and I got Zoe to bed a little bit early.

[03:27] [life] [permalink]

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Day 177: Bike riding practice, picnic

Friday was another loosely planned day. Zoe indicated that she'd like to practice riding her bike, and it was a nice day, so we made a picnic lunch of it.

We went to Minnippi again, and Zoe did pretty well. I used the gentle downhill part of the path this time to give Zoe a bit more momentum, and there were a few brief periods where I let go of the bike completely and she stayed upright. I definitely think she's getting better, and her confidence is improving. Hopefully a few more practices will have her riding on her own.

After she got tired of riding her bike, we checked out the aviation-themed play area. We had some fun alternating between being the "pilot" and the "control tower". We had our picnic lunch up in that part of the park.

Shortly after lunch, another little girl, Lilian, arrived with her mother, and Zoe befriended her, although she didn't want to play with her all that much. I struck up a bit of a conversation with her mother, and when they migrated over to the duck pond, we went as well, as we had some crusts to feed to the ducks.

There was a guy over there with a big loaf of bread, which he was feeding to the ducks unsuccessfully. When Zoe and Lilian arrived, he donated the remainder of the bread to them to feed to the ducks.

After that, we all went to the other play structure for a while.

When Lilian left, we headed back to Cannon Hill to get some more kitty litter and a tennis racquet. We also dropped into Bunnings for a coffee and babyccino. Bunnings has a bit of an indoor play area, so Zoe checked that out too.

It was getting on in the afternoon by this stage, so we headed home and pottered around for a little bit. Zoe watched some TV, Anshu arrived, and then Sarah arrived to pick up Zoe. It was a nice day.

[20:50] [life] [permalink]

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Day 176: Museum and swimming

Today was a pretty chill day, after yesterday's crazy busy one.

Zoe jumped into bed with at 5:40am, but snoozed again until about 6:30am. It was exciting to get up and watch the inverter showing an ever-increasing power production as the sun rose.

I let Zoe choose what she wanted to do, which is code for "I had nothing in particular planned". She chose the museum by bus this morning, so we were out the door by 9am and on a bus not long after.

The museum had never mailed out my new membership cards from a month ago, so I stopped by the tickets desk first to try and sort that out. They were very apologetic, and gave me two free tickets to Deep Oceans show. They're valid until October, so we'll go back and check that out another day.

Zoe mostly just wanted to go to the Science Centre, so after some morning tea, we headed over there. The place was almost totally empty, so we had free run, which was pretty cool. That took us through until lunch time.

I was trying to make the 12:34pm bus home, but we managed to miss it by maybe 20 metres, which was a bit of a bummer. The lady who did the indoor air quality testing was going to come back at some point after 1pm. Fortunately she didn't end up coming until closer to 2pm, so we were fine getting the 1:04pm bus instead.

After she'd been, we briefly dropped in on one of our neighbours on the way out to grab a few things for dinner from the Hawthorne Garage.

Zoe wanted to go to the pool, which was going to be a bit tight, but we made it out to Colmslie for a brief splash around in the pool before I had to get home to put dinner on.

I wanted to get out to a seminar about company boards at 5:30pm, and Sarah was coming around to babysit Zoe for me, so I wanted to get dinner on the table at 5 before I had to leave. That didn't work out quite to plan, so I had to leave with dinner about 15 minutes from being ready.

I managed to order a taxi and get it almost immediately, and it got me into the city within 15 minutes, which was pretty good. On the way home afterwards, I managed to hail a taxi within minutes of leaving the building, so overall, the transport piece worked really well.

The seminar itself was vaguely interesting. I'm curious about getting on a company board, as I think it could be a good use of my experience, and also a non-9-to-5 way of making some income. I'm not quite sure how to get that first board seat though, and exactly what to expect from a time commitment.

[05:18] [life] [permalink]

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Going solar

With electricity prices in Australia seeming to be only going up, and solar being surprisingly cheap, I decided it was a no-brainer to invest in a solar installation to reduce my ongoing electricity bills. It also paves the way for getting an electric car in the future. I'm also a greenie, so having some renewable energy happening gives me the warm and fuzzies.

So today I got solar installed. I've gone for a 2 kWh system, consisting of 8 250 watt Seraphim panels (I'm not entirely sure which model) and an Aurora UNO-2.0-I-OUTD inverter.

It was totally a case of decision fatigue when it came to shopping around. Everyone claims the particular panels they want to sell at the best. It's pretty much impossible to make a decent assessment of their claims. In the end, I went with the Seraphim panels because they scored well on the PHOTON tests. That said, I've had other solar companies tell me the PHOTON tests aren't indicative of Australian conditions. It's hard to know who to believe. In the end, I chose Seraphim because of the PHOTON test results, and they're also apparently one of the few panels that pass the Thresher test, which tests for durability.

The harder choice was the inverter. I'm told that yield varies wildly by inverter, and narrowed it down to Aurora or SunnyBoy. Jason's got a SunnyBoy, and the appeal with it was that it supported Bluetooth for data gathering, although I don't much care for the aesthetics of it. Then I learned that there was a WiFi card coming out soon for the Aurora inverter, and that struck me as better than Bluetooth, so I went with the Aurora inverter. I discovered at the eleventh hour that the model of Aurora inverter that was going to be supplied wasn't supported by the WiFi card, but was able to switch models to the one that was. I'm glad I did, because the newer model looks really nice on the wall.

The whole system was up at running just in time to catch the setting sun, so I'm looking forward to seeing it in action tomorrow.

Apparently the next step is Energex has to come out to replace my analog power meter with a digital one.

I'm grateful that I was able to get Body Corporate approval to use some of the roof. Being on the top floor helped make the installation more feasible too, I think.

[05:36] [tech] [permalink]

Day 175: Kindergarten, cleaning, swim class and a lot of general madness

Today was ridiculously busy.

I woke up pretty early, but ended up not getting out of bed until about 7:30am. While I was in the shower, the guy from Origin buzzed to get let in because he wanted to replace the building's hot water meters. Then I raced next door for my chiropractic adjustment.

I got back home, had breakfast, and started cleaning the house, which I mostly finished by 11am, then I biked over for my massage. While I was getting my massage, the solar installer tried calling me because they'd arrived. Fortunately they didn't have to wait too long.

I did a bit more cleaning for 45 minutes, raced out to Grill'D to grab some lunch and then over to Kindergarten to chair the PAG meeting.

After the meeting, I picked up Zoe and Megan, and we went home to see how the solar installers were going.

They were making a spectacular mess, and we didn't have a lot of time before we had to head out again for Zoe's swim class. We drove over to the pool, and discovered a few other kids from Zoe's Kindergarten were in the preceding classes. Zoe's swim school is running a 2 for 1 thing this term because of the cold weather, to try and keep kids enrolled. I figured twice as many swim classes could only help, so jumped at the chance.

Megan was happy to play around while we waited for Zoe to have her class, and then we went home again. The solar installers were just finishing up.

No sooner had they walked out the door and the woman I'd organised to do indoor air quality testing arrived. I'm wanting to rule out living on a busy road having any contribution to Zoe's suspected asthma.

I was making a new Thermomix recipe for dinner, and Laura was coming over for dinner after she picked up Megan's little sister from day care. Dinner turned out really well, but with all of the preceding madness, I didn't get it started until a bit later than I had hoped, and so it was on the table later than I'd have liked.

Once Laura left with her kids, I chucked Zoe in the shower and got her down to bed only about 20 minutes later than normal. She slept through the night last night for Sarah, so I'm hoping she'll sleep through the night again tonight.

[05:04] [life] [permalink]

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Day 174: Kindergarten, startup stuff, tennis

I picked up Zoe from Sarah this morning and dropped her at Kindergarten. Traffic seemed particularly bad this morning, or I'm just out of practice.

I spent the day powering through the last two parts of the registration block of my real estate licence training. I've got one more piece of assessment to do, and then it should be done. The rest is all dead-tree written stuff that I have to mail off to get marked.

Zoe's doing tennis this term as her extra-curricular activity, and it's on a Tuesday afternoon after Kindergarten at the tennis court next door.

I'm not sure what proportion of the class is continuing on from previous terms, and so how far behind the eight ball Zoe will be, but she seemed to do okay today, and she seemed to enjoy it. Megan's in the class too, and that didn't seem to result in too much cross-distraction.

After that, we came home and just pottered around for a bit and then Zoe watched some TV until Sarah came to pick her up.

[01:23] [debian] [permalink]

Monday, 21 July 2014

Day 173: Investigation for bug #749410 and fixing my VMs

I have a couple of virt-manager virtual machines for doing DHCP-related work. I have one for the DHCP server and one for the DHCP client, and I have a private network between the two so I can simulate DHCP requests without messing up anything else. It works nicely.

I got a bit carried away, and I use LVM to snapshots for the work I do, so that when I'm done I can throw away the virtual machine's disks and work with a new snapshot next time I want to do something.

I have a cron job, that on a good day, fires up the virtual machines using the master logical volumes and does a dist-upgrade on a weekly basis. It seems to have varying degrees of success though.

So I fired up my VMs to do some investigation of the problem for #749410 and discovered that they weren't booting, because the initramfs couldn't find the root filesystem.

Upon investigation, the problem seemed to be that the logical volumes weren't getting activated. I didn't get to the bottom of why, but a manual activation of the logical volumes allowed the instances to continue booting successfully, and after doing manual dist-upgrades and kernel upgrades, they booted cleanly again. I'm not sure if I got hit by a passing bug in unstable, or what the problem was. I did burn about 2.5 hours just fixing everything up though.

Then I realised that there'd been more activity on the bug since I'd last read it while I was on vacation, and half the investigation I needed to do wasn't necessary any more. Lesson learned.

I haven't got to the bottom of the bug yet, but I had a fun day anyway.

[20:25] [debian] [permalink]

Day 173: Kindergarten and some Debian work

Zoe is still waking up on the early side, thanks to the jet lag. I think she woke up around 5am and jumped into bed with me. At least it's nice and dark.

The drop off at Kindergarten went well. Zoe was happy to see Megan again, and wasn't particularly clingy or anything. I was able to get away relatively quickly.

I spent the day getting stuck into some Debian work, and it was good to be able to use the day for its intended purpose for a change.

Megan's Dad, Jason, has a job this week that makes picking her up from Kindergarten impossible, and her parents asked me if I could pick her up on Monday and Wednesday. Zoe was very excited to have Megan come back for a play date, so I picked up both girls and brought them back home.

It was a pretty easy afternoon really. I let the girls just self-direct themselves, and they did a good job of playing on their own with minimal supervision from me. Megan had made a "portable zoo" at Kindergarten for her stuffed panda. It basically involved a shoe box and a couple of pieces of foam for bars. Her and Zoe spent a chunk of time blinging it up with Zoe's craft supplies.

Megan's Mum, Laura, picked up Megan not too long before Sarah did to pick up Zoe. Anshu arrived in the middle as well.

The jet lag is still seriously kicking my butt in the evenings. I'm hoping it will pass by tomorrow.

[20:16] [life] [permalink]

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Day 170: The flight back

I have no idea if I'm getting my day numbers right any more with all the crossings of the international date line, but we'll call Friday day 170 and be done with it.

The flight back went pretty well. Zoe had a good time watching some movies, and also slept for a reasonable chunk of the flight. Zoe's cold had progressed into her typical runny nose/nasty cough combination, but neither was particularly bad. She did cough a bit in her sleep, but it didn't seem to stop her sleeping, and she was pretty happy for the duration of the flight. She was definitely impatient to land, because she knew she'd be seeing her mother.

We must have been the first flight into Brisbane on Friday morning, so we breezed through passport control quickly, and the car seat helpfully came out on the same carousel as the suitcases, so we were able to collect everything and exit quarantine relatively quickly.

Sarah met us outside, and dropped me home, and took the day off to spend with Zoe. I used the day to unpack and run a few errands.

I was super impressed with how well Zoe traveled overall. She's such a good little traveler. She's the perfect age/height for her Trunki now, and that made traversing airports at close to normal walking pace very doable. I'm also happy with how I handled solo-parent international travel. I've done a flight to Townsville with Zoe before, and a flight to Melbourne with Zoe and Anshu, but long-haul international for nearly 3 weeks is a totally different ball game, and aside from me needing to learn to pack a bit better when leaving a location (checklists, checklists, checklists!) everything went really well. The only thing I forgot to pack was my own swimwear, and that was easily fixed.

[20:54] [life] [permalink]

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Day 168: Homeward bound

It's all a bit hazy now, but I think Zoe slept all night and woke up a bit early and came down to my room. Graydon appeared not long after. I made us all breakfast and then got stuck into packing.

After we were all packed up, and Zoe and Graydon had played a bit, Neal took us to REI and Best Buy to do a spot of shopping, and then dropped us at Hertz to pick up the rental car.

After lunch, we packed up the car and headed on our way to Dallas.

The drive went really well. I'd rented some sort of Chevy SUV, and it had a nice interior, and the car radio supported Pandora and had a big display. I stuck Zoe's car seat in the middle, and she was happy being able to see out the front and also see the cover art for what Pandora was dishing up. As I hoped, she napped for a couple of hours on the way up.

The drive took about three and a half hours, and I'd wanted to stop for a break along the way, but missed the exit for the only decent looking rest stop, so pressed on.

We made it to the airport with a comfortable margin of time, and had enough time for dinner. The highlight of the evening was hearing Kim Kardashian get paged twice. Everyone looked at each other and wondered if it was that Kim Kardashian and considered going to the gate she was paged to to find out.

Our flight ended up leaving a little bit late, due to needing to unload some of the cargo to make the distance and also to ensure we didn't arrive before the 5am curfew in Brisbane airport.

[04:06] [life] [permalink]

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Day 167: Hamilton Pool and Reimers Ranch Park

Zoe slept all night, but woke up with signs of coming down with a cold. She was also mighty grumpy. The plan had been to go swimming at Hamilton Pool today, and I was initially thinking we should skip it, but Eva pointed out it was like 100°F and it wouldn't really change much, so we stuck with the original plan.

Hamilton Pool allows a limited number of vehicles in at a time, and so Neal was aiming to be there at 9am when the park opened to guarantee we'd get in. We arrived right at the crack of 9am, and there were a few cars in front of us already, but we made it in successfully.

Zoe did really well walking down from the car park to the pool, and we swam around for a bit. It was out of my comfort zone for swimming (rocky floor, poor visibility, over my head water depth), but I swam across it anyway. It was a very beautiful pool carved out of the limestone by Hamilton Creek. There were a couple of points where the creek trickled over the edge overhead and made little showers.

After a couple of hours there, we returned to the car (Zoe again did really well hiking up) and drove to neighbouring Reimers Ranch, where we had our picnic lunch under cover while a rain shower passed over. We then walked down to the Pedernales River and had a swim around in there.

Zoe wore a life jacket at both swimming locations, and really enjoyed the independence of being able to float around in the deep water.

We had to be back home by 3pm, which we were, so it was a shorter day than yesterday, but a good one nevertheless. The inclement weather also seemed to drop the temperature by about 5 degrees Celsius, so it was a good day overall. Aside from the morning grumpies, Zoe was in a fabulous mood all day.

[18:23] [life] [permalink]

Day 166: The Neal Tanner tour of Austin

Alas, Zoe woke up at about 1am very sad. I'm not sure if she woke up and was so sad because of the lack of Cowie or disorientation due to the new house, but I managed to calm her down in my room downstairs and get her to go back to bed in Graydon's room, and she slept until about 7:30am. Miraculously, she didn't seem to wake up Graydon or Wiley.

Neal had some time off, and with the au pair looking after Wiley, he was able to give Zoe and I a tour of Austin with Graydon tagging along.

First stop was the Capitol building in Austin. It was a beautiful building, bigger than the Capitol building in Washington D.C. (everything's bigger in Texas). We tacked ourselves onto the end of a tour, and broke away a couple of times to check things out at our own pace.

Unfortunately the Senate wing was closed for remodeling, and the House of Representatives was being used for a mock government thing (I learned that Texas only has a part time legislature), so we weren't able to see these wings thoroughly, but we were able to go into the public gallery of the House of Representatives while the mock government thing was happening.

Zoe and Graydon had lots of fun chasing each other around the rotunda under the dome, and no one seemed to care.

After that, we drove over to Zilker Park for a picnic lunch.

After lunch, we went into Barton Springs Pool, an underground spring-fed natural pool, for a swim. The water was a very refreshing 20°C. The bottom was a bit slippery, but manageable. Once Zoe adjusted to the breathtaking cold temperature, she was fine. It was a good day to cool off, because it got up to 37°C.

After the swim, Graydon rode his bike, and Zoe borrowed his balance bike, and we made our way along the trail that ran along the edge of Town Lake, and took in a spectacular view of downtown Austin.

It was seriously hot by this stage, and Zoe was struggling a bit, so we slowly made our way back to the car. I'd spotted a frozen custard place in our travels, so we sampled some of that on the way back home.

For dinner, Neal and I popped out to Rudy's for some more tasty BBQ take out for dinner. It was quite the experience just ordering.

[13:54] [life] [permalink]

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Day 165: Switching homes, World Cup

We had a leisurely start to the day today. Zoe actually woke up and went downstairs without coming into my room. Apparently she tried waking up Vincent, but failed, and went downstairs and played on her own. I got to have a lie in until 8am, when I figured she must be sleeping in and got up to check on her to discover I was the last one up.

I packed up our suitcases and then we had one last swim in the pool. At the conclusion of the time in the pool, Henner discovered a baby snake in the pool filter, so we rescued it, and after Zoe and Vincent had a look at it and a hold, we walked it down the end of the street to return it to the wild. Hopefully it survived Vincent flinging it into the unknown.

After lunch, we packed up the cars and went around to Neal and Eva's place to watch the World Cup. Eva's half-German, and takes her German heritage seriously, so Zoe and I became honorary Germans for the afternoon. I was given a German team soccer jersey to wear, and we both put on German flag face paint. I'm no soccer fan, but it was fun anyway.

Zoe and Graydon don't seem to really remember each other from when they were next door to each other, but I think they must on a subconscious level, because they've gotten on spectacularly well. After a dinner of grilled chicken fajitas, the Schliebs' bid us farewell, and I threw all the kids in the bath. After Neal read Zoe and Graydon a story, they went to bed. I went upstairs to check on them about 20 minutes after lights out and they were still giggling away to each other. It was very cute. I think Zoe's going to have a lot of fun for the next couple of days.

I discovered when I was unpacking that Cowie was missing. After checking with Susanne, and her scouring the house, Cowie was discovered tucked into bed in Greta's princess tent, where I wouldn't have had a hope of finding her, so we'll have to do a retrieval run tomorrow at some point. I've managed to convince Zoe to go to bed with some substitute stuffed toys without much push back, but I don't know if it'll cut the mustard for the full night. We shall see.

[20:31] [life] [permalink]

Day 164: San Antonio Zoo

A big day yesterday on top of a big day the day before (and a late night).

We drove down to San Antonio to go to the San Antonio Zoo. The drive took about an hour and a half, but Zoe was happy watching a movie in the back with Vincent.

We rendezvoused with Eva and Neal and Graydon and Wiley there, and worked our way around the Zoo.

One of the things I love about America is the zoos are so much more affordable. I'll have to do a separate post about the price differences between US zoos and Australian zoos some time.

My favourite exhibit was the hippopotamus one. The hippos were submerged in an exhibit with a glass wall, so you could see above and below the waterline, and you could watch them coming up for air, and the fish nibbling away at their skin while they sat on the bottom. It held Zoe's attention for a while too.

We had a good time, and had at least superficially covered everything by early afternoon. The boys went on the train, which was a massive 20 minute ride, while Zoe and I had an ice cream.

Zoe did pretty well, but the combination of the late night the night before, the heat, and being a bit hungry before lunch made her a bit irritable. I probably carried her on my shoulders for 75% or more of the excursion. It certainly was hot.

We all stopped off for Tex Mex at Chuy's on the way home for dinner.

Zoe went to bed nice and early and slept solidly for 12 hours.

[06:22] [life] [permalink]