The Things November 18th Would Bring

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As seen on the Official Bradism Raised Cutting Board for Tall People


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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.


2020

When I submit this entry it will be the 2020th one I’ve posted on bradism.com. Unless I am hit by a (let’s face it, extremely debilitating) case of writer’s block for the next two months it will also likely be the only time in my life the entry number and year are a snap.

In olden times I liked to use milestone entries to reflect on where I was a mile earlier, but given that the universe is treating 2020 as a chance to mix it up I figured I would use my 2020th entry as a snapshot of life in 2020 for me, Brad.

It’ll be something we can all look back on in the coming years and decades to remember what my specific life was like.

Starting with the most important thing...

image 2128 from bradism.com

This is my Fridge in 2020. I’ve had this fridge for about five years after I got taken by a commercial saying it used different coloured LEDs to keep fruit and vegetables fresher, longer. (Note - actually seems to work). Here it is in our kitchen. Featured magnets are mainly of Nash and calendars from the vet which Vanessa wants to keep for some reason.

There’s also a photo of me, my brother and my Dad on the day we carried this fridge up two flights of stairs in my old house. I got that photo turned into a magnet for all of us. A “fridge fridge magnet” if you will. I could turn this photo into a magnet and that would be a “fridge fridge magnet fridge magnet.” Well, that’s Christmas sorted.

image 2129 from bradism.com

I’ve only taken a couple of photos of the inside of my fridge over the years, and in hindsight it’s something I wish I’d done more because it’s fascinating to reminisce and reflect on how your diet changes over time.

Well, if you’re the kind of person with 6% of 2019 entries that are tagged “Breakfast” you will find this fascinating.

The 2020 fridge census is extremely Vanessa & Bradism. Bulk meals, including one pre-bagged for transportation to work to minimise backpack leaks. Low fat, low sugar yogurt (for breakfasts). A kilogram of hummus. A shitload of protein bars. And some very fresh looking fruits and vegetables.

Okay, this was really the most important thing...

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My 2020 couch. It has motorised recliners and headrests. And that's Nash, looking particularly unstressed by the events of this year.

Fun fact: this photo completely confused Lightroom's new auto-geometry feature.

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This is Vanessa in 2020, with a giant coffee. Yes, that is a protein bar she’s eating.

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This is my house in 2020. The roses are in bloom right now. I don't want to add anything else incase I dox myself.

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This is my car in 2020. It’s a comfortable drive, with nice quality of life features, and it was relatively affordable.

It’s a very Brad car: bigger than average, but does its best to blend in. Here it is at the lookout above the Barossa Sculpture Park on a crisp winter morning in 2020.

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This is the backyard in spring 2020. The mulberry tree is fruiting and somewhere in there the slugs are eating the strawberries before Nash can get to them.

I recently paid for the water feature to get fixed and that bubbles all day which is very pleasant.

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My bike and my backpack, 2020. These are ranked number 1 and 2 on the list of “my things most likely to topple over after I put them down”. This picture illustrates the only way to guarantee they'll both stay upright - lean them into each other, like when you tape a buttered piece of toast to the back of a cat.

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My office view, 2020. Also featuring my office view from 2014. On my desk is my coffee cup from 2019, and my coffee cup from 2006.

If you take a step back from where this picture was taken you’ll crunch a very, very mouldy almond.

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My home office view, which I spent an unexpected amount of time at in 2020. It’s kind of crazy how I sit in the same seat during the day making “important business decisions” involving people's time and an organisation's money, and then at night get beaten by teenagers at Age of Empires II or write journal entries like this one.

Lots of classic callbacks here on the 2020 desk, including my HD 515s, Uniball 207s and my 2019 coffee cup from above photo.

Finally

In the early weeks of 2020 - when the first Covid cases were being detected in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth, and the mask shortages were reported, and the scientists said not to have any expectations on a vaccine or a cure - Australia faced a new and uncertain realty.

Australia is a big country, with a relativity small and dispersed population. The challenge posed by a global pandemic seemed too large for us to conquer. But in the face of this adversity we did not surrender meekly, nor panic (much), or bury our heads in the sand. The smartest people got together to make plans. We gave up on things we took for granted. We sacrificed. We distanced, isolated, persevered through a long autumn and even longer winter. Slowly yet surely we took steps to hold back the virus, to keep each other safe, to bring back normalities we thought we'd never be able to take for granted again.

And you know what? Ultimately we succeeded. We managed to run a records-book acceptable version of an AFL season concluding today with a grand final barbecue and table tennis.

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Well done Australia. Let history remember that when tidings of great significance came calling we stood up and achieved what was important.

Table tennis doubles being played in a dark driveway.

That said, table tennis at night was less than ideal.


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Breakfast Fast

Almost every morning I crack two trays of ice into a smoothie jug, lovingly cascade creamy milk over the crystalised cubes, scoop some protein powder on top, along with extra flavour like cinnamon, cocoa or desiccated coconut, then add a banana and something from the repertoire of mango, strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, blackberries or grapes. I put some tunes on. I pour another 200g of low fat, vanilla yogurt on top of everything and then blend for thirty seconds on “crush” followed by another little while on “pulse” and finally three to five minutes on “blend” - with a break at some point to pour excess fluid into the first of three large cups, as the two litre jug is not tall enough to handle the total volume of a blended Brad breakfast. I then proceed to drink this concoction through the thinnest of straws available, occasionally choosing to scoop it with the tiny spoon on the end of the straw while I read the news, or watch TV.

The whole process, particularly in winter, can take from twenty, up to over forty minutes. COVID19 related working from home arrangements have not helped with this. That’s a considerable portion of my waking hours, all things considered. A very enjoyable portion, for sure.

I’ve been listening off and on to an audiobook that is essentially a short summary of tricks and tools that a bunch of rich and successful people attribute to their wealth and prosperity. It has provided some fascinating insights into what life could involve if I was loaded enough. Fasting, ice baths, psychedelic trips, holding your breath, fancy teas, hanging upside down, meditation and underwater deadlifts to name just a few of the “tools” that these powerhouses of technology, business and recreation believe gives them an edge in life. I’m not rich enough myself to dedicate fully to any of these approaches, but among them one consistent theme which comes up throughout this very long book is that many successful interviewees have a very quick breakfast, or skip it entirely.

As a man with fifteen pages of journal entries tagged “breakfast” I found this concept particularly confronting. But what is 2020 other than a chance for everybody to subvert their own tropes? So I decided to set myself a goal of one work week where I consumed a balanced breakfast as absolutely fucking quick as possible, to see how my life would change.

To justify this experiment I knew I’d need to approach it scientifically and part of that was recording before I started what I would do with the forty minutes I gained each day. I elected to split it: twenty minutes would go towards extra sleep, and twenty minutes would go towards dedicated personal development time.

According to my sleep tracker my average nightly shut-eye is six hours and forty-three minutes, and I figured this was a chance to see if a round seven would have any benefits to my health.

The personal development time would be spent on things I wanted to understand at a higher level for my career, like octagonal microservice architecture patterns, and OpenAPI modelling best practices.

After a long bike ride and big lunch on a sunny day last Sunday, I was able to have a reasonably early night and set my alarm for 6:40am - seven hours of sleep later.

On Monday morning I woke, dressed for work, and walked downstairs. Initially I’d wanted to replace my breakfast with a single protein/health bar that I could ideally eat on that walk downstairs. Something with 35 grams of protein, some carbs, no added sugar and a little bit of fat. Unfortunately I hadn’t been able to find anything suitable in the discount chemists or supermarkets of Adelaide. Perhaps I wasn’t rich enough yet to find the vegan protein breakfast bars that met these conditions and that had been mentioned in the book. So instead I ate a decent-sized banana, and a big scoop of protein powder in a shaker full of skim milk. I got through it all in less than three minutes. I didn’t even sit down. It was a little daunting to realise just how quickly you can insert 450 calories into your body, almost without even noticing.

And then an energy crept into me. I was done. I was ready for work and it was barely 7am. So Monday was a bit of a misfire, as I spent another ten minutes working out if I should ride my bike to the office straight away. (I wanted to save the personal development portion of the day for a time separate from breakfast). In the end I took the dog for a walk, then took off down the greenway. I arrived in town slightly before 8am and spent more time maneuvering my bike into the bike cage and getting the lock through the various bits than I did eating my breakfast.

I repeated this recipe for the remainder of the week, and I have to say, I have a newfound appreciation for the benefits of a quick breakfast. The energy I mentioned only grew and I can only assume it is due to going almost immediately from slumber to my daily tasks and goals. I don’t believe this energy is related to the extra sleep. In fact, I found that aspect to be the most challenging of the whole experiment. Because I am used to 6 hours and 40 minutes of sleep, each night I found it harder and harder to fall asleep, and thus my sleep time and eventual waking time crept forward each day. There are potentially health benefits to the extra sleep I was getting, but at the rate our planet twirls on its access they risk pushing me into my own sleep orbit which - despite COVID’s new work schedules flexibility - I don’t think I want to try.

Personal development wise I did learn things and it was nice to feel like I had twenty “bonus” minutes each day to focus purely on education and learning. Sure, I could dedicate twenty minutes a day to that anyway, but there was a vibe knowing I’d earned that twenty minutes by smashing a banana down my throat earlier that morning which made it easier to learn, and also I guess helped me commit to focusing, otherwise what was the sacrifice of a relaxed and delicious breakfast experience for?

I think I’ll keep doing this on work days until my brain adjusts and the energy dissipates. Who knows, maybe I’ll become rich and successful following this in just a few short weeks. Maybe then I’ll be interviewed, and you’ll find me inside the big book of tools.

Normal Annual Service

The car was due for its annual service, it's first in the COVID19 world.

The mechanic sent me messages before and after I booked it in assuring me that they had "implemented numerous steps to continuously provide a safe and healthy environment ... such as express servicing and cabin sanitisation." I even got that same message while they were servicing it.

There had been free hand sanitizer in the office when I dropped it off, but other than that everything seemed like the old normal. When I collected the keys in the afternoon one of the service staff walked me to the car while again reassuring me that everything had been cleaned, wiped and decontaminated. He wasn't wearing gloves or a mask. Then, in a final gesture of customer service, he offered to pull the car out of the parking bay for me and before I could stop him his hands had touched the gearstick, the steering wheel and both inside and the outside door handle.
I felt very reassured. I guess only the workshop mechanics were the ones I needed protecting from. I also didn't have the heart to tell him that I'd needed to catch the bus to get back there anyway, so the dice were already rolled for the 18th of August.

image 2091 from bradism.com

Earlier in the morning instead of the bus I'd been given a ride into town and I spontaneously asked the guy driving me to drop me off near my old house in North Adelaide. (His peak hour driving skills may have contributed to this spontaneity). I decided I would take this opportunity to retrace my old daily commute to work from previous strolls to the office in 2009. This was a very normal thing for a person to do, I thought.

Along the way I listened on shuffle to a playlist of songs which reminded me of 2009 I happened to already have prepared. That's a normal thing too I'm pretty sure.

After the soundtracked walk was over I reflected about it on this web journal I've been maintaining for the past twenty years, which may be on the line between normal and narcissistic.

In 2031 if I repeat the same walk while listening to a mashup of songs from 2009 and 2020, featuring a spoken word acapella of this journal entry, I'll know for sure if that boundary has been crossed.

The Inevitable Return of the Great Striped Polo

What the fuck is this?

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What the heck is this?

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What the...

Insert picture of iron and ironing board, KeepCup, a pair of pants that don't have a drawstring, a building access card...

Hmm, looks like this journal entry is about as anti-climatic as my first day in the office in the best worst part of a year.

My regular coffee guy forgot my name. I guess it has been four months of 5G waves dissolving his mind...

Coffee was better than Nespresso Pods though.

When Life Gives You Lemons

They sell lemons at the supermarket for about a dollar each, and sometimes three for two dollars.
I bought a house earlier this year which cost a lot more than a dollar, and it came with a lemon tree that has produced a shitload of lemons. And based on my year 10 understandings of botany it will do this every year? Which means...

Sadly, a shitload of lemons are only better than a handful of lemons for the purposes of: being given to your friends; improving your relationship with your neighbours; and leaving in a bag on the kitchen counter in the office with a post-it saying “Help Yourself :)”

A lemon tree overhanging a fence.

And this isn't even my lemon tree, they're the bonus lemons from my neighbour leaning over the fence to introduce themselves.


And there has been a pandemic this whole citrus season. I’ve left lemons on the kitchen counter while working from home several times but rarely have they disappeared or transmogrified into a three-quarter-eaten cake that I exercise my willpower to ignore while eating almonds

And then, back in April, two people in head-to-toe orange hazmat suits told me that there’s also a fruit fly pandemic in my suburb. The government advised I couldn’t even distribute lemons to my friends who lived more than a fruit fly’s flying distance away. Like me, the lemons needed to #JustStayHome.

Life had given me - metaphorically and literally - lemons. And obviously nothing could prepare you for a situation like this. So I asked the internet what to do, and it came up with some - actually, quite a lot of - suggestions which I’ve been roadtesting recently, and will now share for the benefit of all my readers.

An assortment of lemons on the official Bradism Raised Cutting Board for Tall People

An assortment of lemons on the official Bradism Raised Cutting Board for Tall People


It turns out lemons are good for a lot of things beyond eating raw like a juicy, slightly pointy mandarin, or adding to gin. You can turn milk into buttermilk, create fire-starters with rind, write invisible messages. But the main uses of lemons that I’ve ascertained from multiple articles are in the domain of cleaning and insect control. In fact, after reading about all the different chemicals, de-scalers and deodorizers that can be replaced with lemon juice I have had to ask myself, truly, are lemons even safe to eat?

Cleaning the Microwave

The first trick I tried was to “clean my microwave without any scrubbing.” This was, incidentally, the same method I’d been using to clean my microwave since I bought it in 2008. But this time it was intentional.
The method is to slice up a lemon, place the slices into a bowl of water, and microwave the lemon water on high for ten minutes. The diluted juice-steam will cover all the interior surfaces of the microwave, allowing built up stains and oils to easily be wiped away with a cloth or paper towel.
And that’s what I did. And there was indeed sour-smelling condensation on the walls and roof of my microwave. After wiping them off the microwave was clean of all that built up lemon smell and lemon rind.
Sadly I do not have a second microwave to use for a control group, but I’m not convinced I couldn't have achieved the same result by steaming a bowl of plain water for the same amount of time.

Cleaning the Kitchen Sink

I turned my eye to the kitchen sink, where I could experiment at least by cleaning half the stainless steel with a lemon and the other half with just a sponge.
A dirty portion of a kitchen sink.

Before cleaning with lemon.


Obviously I prepared the sink in advance to be dirty so I could test out the efficacy of the lemon.
I cut the lemon in half, used the juicy part like a sponge and the rindy part like a scourer, and cleaned the cleaning rack part of the sink.
Compared to just a sponge, it resulted in shinier metal.
A clean portion of a kitchen sink.

After cleaning with lemon.


This might be a life hack?

Cleaning a Frying Pan

I’ve had this Circulon Frying Pan since 2009, and while I definitely wash it after every use it’s safe to say there is a fair layer of seasoning between what gets cooked these days and what came out of the factory.

I took the same approach on the corrugated surface of the pan as I did with the sink.

A slightly-stained frying pan.

I’m not sure if this is a before or after pic, which should tell you everything you need to know about the results.

Probably for the best, as I’m pretty sure that the echoes of a decade of stir fries, chilis and Moroccan lambs only adds to flavour of the things I cook today.
I’m considering making a lemon chicken tomorrow.

Clean a Cutting Board

I cut myself a fresh lemon on our little cutting board, then decided I would see if the lemon-sponge approach would work here too.
Lemons are apparently good for cleaning a wooden cutting board, but I didn’t have a dirty one of those.
After a bit of elbow-work on one side, I rubbed both sides down with an Oates scourer.
a small cutting board cleaned by a lemon half.
A small cutting board cleaned by a sponge alone. It's slightly less clean than the lemon side.

The lemon side did have the built up stains stripped a bit more effectively.
Ultimately I think you could clean the entire stain off a cutting board with lemons, but you’d need a shitload of them.

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