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Throughout this whole pandemic I have found it hard not think judgemental thoughts about people who lose their cloth masks whenever I see one on the street. I have judgemental thoughts about people who let single use masks clutter up gutters and nature strips as well, but the loss of a cloth mask seems to hit me differently.

How difficult is it to keep track of a mask that you need to wear every time you leave your house? How come I don't see wallets, smartphones and sets of keys littering the ground with the same frequency? I've had the same cloth mask for the entire pandemic! I should probably wash it... Unfortunately yesterday I was packing my things for the physio and I realised I couldn't find my mask anywhere. I was sure I'd put it in my pocket after visiting the supermarket that morning, but now that the days are warming up I've been wearing gym shorts everywhere lately and unlike jeans the pockets tend to prolapse when taking one thing out of them, the rest of the contents can tend to follow. I lost a dog poo bag just this way earlier in the week when I took my phone out.

Losing my mask hit me hard. Not only because now I was judging myself as careless and unintelligent, but because it's been a familiar part of my life the entirety of 2021. I bought it for my trip to Brisbane last December, did not need it for much of the year after that, but after the Modbury Cluster and the South Australian mask mandate it's been a daily companion. Considering this week was also the week I pushed my Galaxy Note 8 into a post-box after three and a half years of loyal service, and also relegated my primary pair of sneakers since 2019 to gardening duties only, life felt tumultuous. This was not the kind of change that spring was supposed to be about. As if to prove a point, the weather change from Thursday set the temperature dropping and I had to put my jumper on from Thursday morning, in which I found my mask in one of the pockets.


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The woman with the fake tan stepped into my office, sat across from my desk and lit a cigarette.
At least, she would, sometime in the next 20 minutes. Smelling the future has advantages, but precision isn’t one of them.


Pandemovium

Two weeks ago I received my second dose of the Pfizer vaccine against COVID19. Which means unless I'm extremely unlucky I'll have successfully survived the first pandemic of the twenty-first century

Physiologically at least. As for ideologically, economically, socially, psychologically and culturally it remains to be seen.

This assumes there will be no new variants.

Bandits

This month I read more non-fiction: This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends: The Cyberweapons Arms Race by Nicole Perlroth. Throughout the entire tale, from the first critical vulnerability all the way to the offensive cyber strikes by nation states and their impact on my life all I could think about is how would Napoleon have dealt with the Austrian army exploiting a chain of 0-day exploits in order to silently offset the navigation of his calvary in order to prevent a French victory on the battlefield.

Actually, I didn’t think about Napoleon during this book and not just because I think that Napoleon’s password would probably have been motdepasse on every online account he had. Reading about the history of cyber surveillance and their evolution into attacks has grounded me solidly in the present.

Of course, the impact on my life has mainly been having to patch systems over the past fifteen years due to vulnerabilities like Heartbleed, notpetya and all the others that have emerged in the wake of cyber attacks in that time. And yes, even Bradism.com was hacked in the early days and all my witticisms were replaced with anti-American messages of support for Palestine.

I also realised that, as the American intelligence agencies’ lust for data ramped up post September 11, at the same time as system and internet security was terrible, and I was completing my final year of University, that this was the perfect storm that probably lead to Data Mining being an encouraged elective topic in case someone had any bright ideas on how to handle the firehose of scraped and stolen data from hacked servers and jailbroken Nokias.

The main thing I learned from this book is how prevalent is has been over the years for exploits to be kept hidden from vendors and traded on black markets to government organisations where they use them for surveillance or more, sometimes for years, before they get revealed and patched. (Ironically, a lot of the exploits are revealed when the government agency or state themselves gets hacked and their tools exposed.)

Is it really worth worrying about being tracked by QR codes or even social media when multiple governments are probably already in your kernel?

With such sophisticated cyberweapons out there now, can you really trust your firewall or network traffic monitor or “In use in 0 other locations” message?

Along with my recent reading about climate change, and my daily exposure to pandemic coverage, the future is not feeling particularly chipper.

I think we might need to teach children in school how to write their own kernel and build their own smartphones. And also how to grow tomatoes in acidic soil with no electricity, and manufacture their own hand sanitizer.


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The Cycle

There's flirting and there's groping, and if a sunny day in August is spring's way of flirting then today's weather was definitely the latter.

Essentially the difference between sticking your nose into the jasmine flowers popping up on the fences, and smelling them from two streets over.

Spring is not supposed to be a time period that starts and finishes on certain dates. Spring is those feeling, the moments where cold is replaced by warmth in your heart. Your finger shrivels back down to its normal size like some kind of ironic anti-erection.

Maybe I'm also feeling good because I intentionally avoided reading the news for two and a half days.

Olympic Medals Presentation

With hindsight I've realised that using each Olympics as a milestone at which I ignore the success and heartbreak of athletes and instead reflect only about my own life in a long block of prose has been misguided narcissism. Why have I been waffling on about my own achievements randomly, and not instead ranking them and awarding medals to myself?

It's been four years since Rio. I mean, technically five but covid has that effect on things. A lot has changed.

Gold


image 2241 from bradism.com

As with every other Olympics since 1996, Tokyo finds me with a new employer, a new salary and a new set of responsibilities. I strongly believe I am now good at my job (I've only written a single Dale since London). I still only use the phrase "IT Professional" ironically, even though I'm now TOGAF Certified.
In 2020 I nearly got flown to San Francisco to present to a conference about my leadership over the successful agile delivery of an integration uplift project (at the time it wasn't really agile or delivered).
I also was promoted to the point where I managed other people, and that really exposed me to new perspectives that I’ve learned a lot from - primarily that I should focus on technology and I shouldn't manage people. Hence my new job...

I've equalled the world record for love and having a dog for the longest amount of time between Olympics. I went on an amazing four week trip to the Pacific Northwest and hiked through nature that's hopefully still kicking a few Olympics from now. We moved house, switched cars. That's been like shedding a skin - all new extremities, but unchanged at the core.

Silver


image 2242 from bradism.com

I have not traditionally published a novel, but I did write to completion two more of them - Shady Slopes, and Cold Case. However, I did achieve my dream of being published in a professional science fiction market, as well as selling numerous short stories both in Australia and internationally. And was featured in a best works of 2018 thanks to my dumb flash fiction about a witch’s magic mirror which crashes after a windows update.
I spent nearly every work day lunch break writing between 2016 and 2019, and then I gave up. I almost gave up... Let's see what happens by next Olympics.

Bronze


image 2243 from bradism.com

My health and fitness has not reached its potential during an inconsistent performance in my mid-thirties. Chronic hamstring tendinopathy had me down for so much up the past years that at one point in 2019 I would almost have been justified in releasing this Olympic recap in line with the Paralympic Games in September.
I did make a triumphant return to low-grade social basketball, hit a couple of corner 3s and then suffered another soft tissue injury that would cost me a year of pain, surgery and rehab.
Despite that, I was very healthy. I walked 10,000 steps most days. I worked on my mobility, strength and physiology enough to mute my hamstring pain to a mostly ignorable caress. I set a new personal best with a back squat of 103kg, and a deadlift of nowhere near that much. I did not set a bench press PB but I did a push-up again. I was a vegan for a few minutes and I ate a lot of salad. I lost 5kg for the fun of it and had visible abs, and then I drank a lot of craft beers and gained 5kg for the fun of that too.
I have so far successfully avoided covid.

Participation Trophy


image 2244 from bradism.com

(Including a summary of 2016’s Olympic Resolutions.)
There were more weddings (but less weddings).
I rewrote my website with a new framework, but I didn’t build it API first. Maybe next Olympics.
I bought my first shares on the stock market. I haven’t sold any yet.
I rode a bike for the first time this millennium.
I survived the Trump era.
I did make a new friend!
I signed up for not one, but two credit cards with awesome rewards programs. I currently have hundreds of thousands of frequent flyer points with both Qantas and Virgin, and nowhere to fly to.

DNQ


image 2245 from bradism.com

Be more spontaneous.

My goals for next olympics.
There’s less than three years until the Paris Olympics, so I’m not sure how much I can really achieve. But that will also be the month before I turn forty, and knowing my history with procrastination and success I suspect another 750 words will be possible in August 2024.

I’d like to be vaccinated. I want one foot into a retirement plan that covers finances, climate change, and something to keep me occupied for the rest of my life. I’d appreciate both feet on foreign soil again, even better would be to do that as the entourage of a certain wifey athlete. I want a house that isn’t cold in winter. I’d like to go camping.

Is Winter The Best Season?

Why does it take this much foliage to make a single flower?

Why does it take this much foliage to make a single flower?


I'd be lying if I wrote that I hate everything about winter. Pumpkin prices drop dramatically around June and hearty soup makes me jovial. You can go for a walk at lunchtime without sunscreen, sweat and guilt. The football is on. My grass isn't replicating exponentially or vigorously dying or both. Maybe even one day in the future I'll be able to sit around a blazing bonfire again, drinking Bundy and talking and laughing late into the night.

But winter has not just a predictability, but a schedule to it which makes life feel dismal. Even out from under the shadow of pandemics and orthopaedics. The nights get cold in May. Some point early June I realise it's too cold to drink my breakfast smoothie. Mid-June my index finger swells up and dries out. Late June I go at least one day without seeing the sun. Then it's my Dad's birthday, I pick up a lot of soggy leaves, get a sore on the right side of my lips, the rest of my right hand goes tingly. I eat a porridge in half the time it took to make and feel unsatisfied. I sit under a blanket. Then I notice the first purple flowers along the footpaths. There's a moment outside where the wind feels warm. Jasmine scents tingle in the air. Vanessa makes me lots of desserts. It's still cold, but there's hope, and that's a part of winter too even though it's really spring.

When spring officially starts things won't really be that much different, compared to both the winter and the last spring. I'll keep my eyes out for ducklings, dust off the barbecue, at some point peaches will be affordable again and I'll have to stop walking outside in the middle of the day. There'll be a heatwave. I'll get sweaty on my way to the office. I'll be obligated to do my tax return, watch Port fail in the finals, and deal with purple dog footprints all over the tiles.

What I have observed this year/pandemic, and while paying more attention to seasons than necessary for lack of anything more stimulating to write about, is that constraint and predictability makes them drab. There can be no best season when all of them are distinctly yet equally terrible. But what other alternative is there? I can only think of one, and I would choose a whole year of sweaty sheets, expensive salads, draughty houses and three months of Christmas carols over that.

I think the best bet is to make your own seasons.

Oh God. Now I know why humanity has caused climate change.

When Life Gives You The Delta Variant Of Lemons

Last weekend our family tradition of a Sunday morning walk along the river to the North Adelaide Bakery for a cream puff was cancelled due to the latest Coronavirus saga to hit Adelaide. As well as the shit weather, and injuries.

This was depressing, but we didn't cry or break things or punch a horse. We adapted.
On Friday we ordered some cream, eggs, butter, and dark chocolate melts which arrived yesterday.
Last night I attempted my first batch of Choux Pastry (boil the water a touch longer next time, and remove the dough from the saucepan before the butter starts to separate).

image 2238 from bradism.com

This morning, with sun shining, and after a walk into our backyard, we kept our tradition alive another week.
image 2239 from bradism.com

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