Spring 2023, Summer 2024 Playlist

In the final week of Spring I was putting the finishing touches into the musical playlist that I intended to embed memories of the past months in. Spring 2023 had been pleasant, as best as I can recall it now. The fading glow of Giunio 23 had carried me through Winter. My work/life balance was correcting itself. My body parts were coming together with enough cohesion that I was even able to complete a mini, late-30s equivalent of Bulktember. A more age appropriate approach. Rehab repetitions prioritised over moving weight. Balancing pain signals with progression. I suffered only moderate lower back pain.

By the end of November, despite a recurrence of my dodgy, left shoulder I was moving well, energised by technology and the future. There was bacon in the Barossa, panini on lunch breaks, lamb roasts in the slow cooker, burgers before basketball games. Lots of coffee. Flowers were blooming, the outdoors was calling, and by mid November my index finger had some blood back in it.

Life was not perfect, but I was enjoying it. It felt like, as spring turned to summer around me that in my life too would bloom into sunshine and blue skies and a semblance of control.

Alas, storm clouds approached, as spring will do. Literally, initially, as late November rain pummelled the house and got into the gym literally hours before we were to set off on a cross country road trip.

December from start to finish was problematic. The road trip that was supposed to be a break was plagued by injury, weather, snakes (actually those were cool) and actual plague. Driving long distances in the rain just to isolate in cheap motel rooms was not fun. It was becoming apparent that my wrist injury was not minor, and the Napoleon movie totally lacked historical accuracy and nuance. In fact, I was craving a return to home life and work routine by the end, knowing fate would choose that moment to at least clear out my sinuses. We returned to a mouldy, ruined gym, more rain, a sad puppy and a whole train of minor inconveniences. The final two work weeks of the year did bring some sense of normality back, and then I got covid and missed out on Christmas. By the time it was 2024 I was exhausted. And I'd felt comfortable enough with where my feelings were to share my Spring playlist that just served to remind me of happier times.

Time never stops though. And through all of this, and the continued wrist pain, insurance drama, back pain, life stress, and shoulder pain it did feel like I've done this all before. It did feel that all I had to do was keep getting through work days, keep doing rehab morning, lunchtime and night, keep going to the beach at the end of hot days, keep making phone calls, keep taking the dog for a walk and mowing the lawn after limbering up that things wouldn't necessarily get better, but they might average out. I listened to the Spring playlist a lot, and of course new music and so I added to it already aware that I was now making a Spring/Summer double album playlist. In some ways it made sense, under the influence of the narrative fallacy: Spring was a rise and fall, summer would be a fall and rise. The perfect sine wave. With gym repairs scheduled and two weddings at the end of February to look forward to it seemed appropriate that by the end of summer I'd feel balanced and I'd have a second collection of songs.

Well, it worked to an extent. My wrist still hurts most days but not that much. I have no idea if the next storm will flood some part of my house. Jobs still cause stress. But I have a Spring/Summer playlist. And I know that I will listen to it for years to come sometimes when things are going bad and sometimes when things are going well and sometimes when some things are bad and other things are good. This is life. I am accepting it. Because I can't change it. Seasons will continue to come one by one and I'll relish posting a mixtape for each one for as long as I can.

Memories of:
Driving down South Road in sunshine. Lifting light weights in the gym. Driving to a bonfire. Books about Mars, and Nipples. Taking coffee breaks in the backyard on WFH mornings. Being in the groove in front of VS Studio while looking out over the Adelaide hills. More hours on my back on the rubber mats on the floor. Long stretches of country roads. FLOWERS BLOOMING. Feeling sad. Being in the groove in front of CS Studio with the air conditioner on and the curtains drawn. The same walks around Croydon. Memories of Paris. Passionfruit. Trying to hold a plank.

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If you met yourself from the future, what would you ask your future self?
What if they wont tell you anything?

An Auspicious Date - March 3 2024

Nash enjoyed having humans at home on Saturday night, and she enjoyed her Sunday stroll and traditional sausage roll through North Adelaide as well.

This is why I am completely open and non-judgemental of all cultures and customs. Every Sunday I take my dog to a bakery for a pastry.

I am NOT comparing this to a wedding. Although I do think Nash would enjoy sweet pastry balls.

After the walk there was even some time for a new version of Fireworks Tonight with time based Seasonal Theming, which was necessary because the Lunar New Year theme was still in place. I added some dates to themes and now they apply and disappear automatically, and I even set up the Christmas theme for December so I don't have to make any changes between now and then if I don't want to.

After that there was even time for a workout and some deadlifts, to ideally build some hunger for more food in the evening. Following salad for lunch I dressed in my suit, with vest along with the tartan tie and initial cufflinks that Alex had gifted me.

Tartan Fam

The Hills
It was a nice, sunny afternoon for the drive into the hills, past Mount Barker and along the country roads to Lot 100. Alex had given me a role to coordinate the starting of the music with the readiness of the bridesmaids. While everyone waited at the altar under an extremely long sunset.

Eventually the bridesmaids had their path to the aisle defined and I got the music started. Then I had a seat up the front for what was a beautiful ceremony, with heartfelt vows exchanged in front of a warmly lit backdrop of green hills and trees. Alex's vows were particular heartfelt and well spoken. Then there were kisses, a showering of petals from the crowd, applause and drinks.

The gap between the ceremony and the reception was spent by everyone trying to take a good photo in the evening light. It was quite strong still, but many good family shots were captured along with Mismatch beers.

Steve and I had MC duties, but no microphone, so we sorted that out and after everyone was seated and sampling their Antipasti we stood up and got through the housekeeping, the introduction (with more drums and boogieing) and brotherly speeches by both me and the bride's brother.

The audio situation was a little challenging, with a lot of low end and not great audio. Alex said he enjoyed my speech, which was good. Dad said he couldn't hear it. For future reference it is in the Keep note "Alex Wedding Speech".

Dinner followed, with generous servings of lamb, chicken, and barramundi served out across the long tables. This long stretch of night was very pleasant, talking to family and Alex's friends and enjoying the vibe of love, happiness and supper.

Before dessert there were more speeches from the bridal party. After the bridesmaids, all of Alex's five groomsmen delivered a summary of their favourite Alex memory and it was a privilege to be party to these insights into what a nice young man he has become. From always being there for his friend going through a newborn during covid, to holding his friend by the back of his belt so he could take a leak off the rear of a moving golfcart.

This time the loud music and dancing came after the speeches, and a solid dance floor for a Sunday night took place. Punjabi MC and Gasolina got a reprise. I did get low once, and otherwise had a good time. Shirt now untucked, sleeves rolled up, the boogie went on for a while. Then, around 11:05, we all lined up on either side of a path out the door with long sparklers and created a tunnel to send the married couple on their way for a second time.

After that it was just a long drive home down the freeway, through some tunnel construction work, to arrive just a minute after midnight. Only one more wedding to come.

Brad's AI Tour - Sydney

There's no doubt about it. AI is going to be even huger in 2024 than it was in 2023. At least from a hype perspective. That's judging by the 16 minute wait I faced to collect my badge at the entrance of the Microsoft AI Tour in Sydney this morning. Regular haircut people of the East Coast are going to make a lot of money from this technology. I just think it's neat.

Dear Chat GPT. Please generate me a harbour side house in Rozelle Bay.

Regardless, I felt extremely hyped myself this afternoon during a short break for fresh air between sessions. This was not just from the sugar of the dozen free desserts I consumed at the event and the hotel breakfast buffet beforehand. I crammed new knowledge into my face with just as much avarice as I had for the food and coffee. I get genuinely excited by the potential of this technology the same way I get tingles every time I get a glimpse of humanity's potential and before some reality snaps me out of it. With the right amount of CPU and ingenuity the possibilities are endless. Human services, healthcare, custom entertainment, massive increases in productivity. All of it could be achieved and most of the world** could commence living like spoiled Golden Retrievers for the rest of our lives, carried through the years in the metaphorical, oversized handbag of big tech and their easy to consume, low code solutions.

Humanity will corrupt it, of course. When there's money to make and social hierarchies to preserve the packaging won't end up matching the product. The margins will ruin things.

AI is ground breaking magic. But if you want to use it in Production, you're going to need a few additional services deployed in between the model and your users.

Anyway, after the sugar rush ended and the afternoon sessions peeled back the curtains on the magic box a bit further, my expectations returned to their temperedness. There's still a lot to do. And I still have excitement about contributing to doing it. After hours of walking around Sydney and its harbour in the past twenty-four hours I am reminded that humanity has not nor will not ever be perfect. But it's far from being bad. We will probably end up living like spoiled Golden Retrievers think they live.

**With the exception of physical labourers and AI developers of course. And then just the developers.

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Not the First Time

Today was not the first day of my life that began with sunrise in North Adelaide walking the dog and sunset at the beach walking with my wife. I didn't take any pictures, which is not because there was nothing to see nor great light. I am privileged that despite what happens in my life I can enjoy pleasures such as these with such regularity that I don't even feel the need to document them. I also ate what apparently is Australia's best breakfast of 2023 and I didn't take photos of that either.

What I did document today were these Nash themed oat-flour gingerbread cookies.

Autumn in Canberra

After enjoying Adelaide's unseasonably warm April, we finished the month by flying into Canberra on the uplift of a high pressure cell that was trapping cold, wet air over Australia's capital. This was tolerable for the sake of spending time with family and not working for a Monday.

Saturday began with a trip to the Fyshwick Markets, some rounds of Chameleon, a walk around the ovals with the kids, then a nap. After a Parma (not Parmi, infidels) and a pint (I'll forgive that one) Steve, Jess and I enjoyed a selection of local beers bought from Plonk that morning.

I also got my revenge and beat Steve at Acquire.

Sunday was even more rainy, though we did get a decent walk in along the flank of Mount Pleasant and then back along the lake.

In the afternoon there was an attempt to play Fortnite using a PS5 controller (0 points for both) and then some nachos for dinner and two rounds of Taboo. (The squeaker really makes that game).

Monday was even colder, but at least less rainy. Vanessa and I completed an eleven kilometre loop of our nation's adolescent Arboretum, then ate lunch overlooking it. A quick loop up Black Mountain (more of a hill) managed to get our daily steps for the trip back in line with our daily average. After that and a shower there was enough time for a few rounds of sardines with the kids before our flight back, via the Virgin Lounge for a complementary visit where I drank three beers and ate four pies.

A pretty packed weekend, I regret we couldn't squeeze in the National Rock Garden.

Rounding Up

Much like the sun, I rose this morning shortly before 6am and spent the day traveling west until a bit after 6pm.

It's hard not to draw comparisons on this trip through NSW to times from last decade. Wentworth Point, for instance, has changed dramatically. In 2013 I drove from Sydney to Mildura in a single day. I'm sure a lot of people have. But before today I was only 99.95% confident I could replicate that much driving in my now 38 year old body. Last time I did the drive it was immediately after disembarking a flight from LAX, but at least at 29 I had the advantages of a toll tag and a few more hours of sunlight.

So, I was pleased to roll onto Deakin street shortly before dusk this evening. Maybe this time, with enough REM sleep, I will remember the journey. Coffee at Sutton Forest and Gundagai, lunch in Narrandera, endless clouds for the final five hours. Not long to go now before the sun sets on this road trip.

Today's distance.

Super Effective

After four nights in Queensland we were on the road again today and knocked off a fair chunk of the route home. Starting with frosty farmland in the hinterland, past north coast beaches and the big banana and making it as far south as Forster for the next two days.

All the driving, while not distracted by overtaking caravans, listening to Agatha Christie, and appreciating the views, can be a bit repetitive. One of my favourite games is to play "Pokemon or Australian Town Name?" For instance, does Mooball evolve into Bullabarra? Or are these places in the Tweed Valley and Blue Mountains? Can you teach surf to Kungabung?

This is a much nicer game than my other Pokemon themed pastime, which I call "completing the daily roadkill Pokédex". :(

Today on multiple bridge supports some hundred kilometres apart someone had stenciled a series of statements such as "vote like a girl" and something about not trusting any government. The first one I saw was a quote about living in harmony with nature... I missed the second part because a massive, bloody kangaroo was spreadeagle on the shoulder right next to it.

Road Trip Feelings

Most of my entries so far this holiday have been about what I've seen, but not much about how I've felt.

I've driven for over 24 hours already since Saturday which has actually been mentally fascinating, one of my hidden human senses is an instinct as to how far from home I am. I am very far from home. This sense might be behind my shoulder blades...

I have seen an incredible amount of Australian countryside and it has mostly been immense and beautiful.

I've been able to dedicate time to playing with my new camera, which I hope will reward me with better photos at some point.

I have not been working.

I've been hiking and using my whole arm again.

And I have been less cold. I soaked in more sun on the walking and driving today than all of the last week in Adelaide. I'm not wearing socks while writing this.

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