2022 Inflation, A Credit Card Statement in Review

I’m the owner of a credit card with a fifteen thousand dollar limit, and I was a little alarmed last week to notice that I was nearing that threshold for the first time ever. Was this the product of buying multiple coffees in an April filled with public holidays? Or was the quarterly consumer price index jump of 2.1%, making for an annual inflation rate of 5.1%, to blame. As this did not happen in my backyard I was keen to analyse and document on my mantel*/journal. And so I bring you my old and well established gimmick: 2022, A Credit Card Statement in Review (Inflation Edition).

* As reviewing my earlier entries has confirmed, posting prices and thoughts about prices in relation to specific dates will provide immense benefit to future anthropologists, according to my inner narcissist.

24 Apr 2022 $8.29 COLES AUS
Maybe it’s because I’m not obese, but the extreme increase in grocery prices has not caused me to starve yet. In the above transaction I purchased four green apples, a tomato, chicken breast, a kilogram of yogurt, three red chilis, two tins of 4 bean mix, some wholemeal crumpets and a bag of lettuce. I did get a $10 discount thanks to my existing Fly Buy points…

23 Apr 2022 $13.33 AMAZON AU
The price of a 1,000 piece Ravensburger puppy puzzle That is 1.3c per piece, delivered. Is that good value for puzzle pieces? Recording this here for future reference.
I ordered this on a Saturday morning and it was dropped off at my front door on Sunday by some guy in a beaten up Camry. How many pieces worth did that guy get paid I wonder?

23 Apr 2022 $151.00 99 BIKES
The cost of replacing my busted wheel, including a new inner tube and labour, which was performed on a Saturday afternoon with no wait time. This seems like good value, although my whole bike cost less than $400 so I probably should have just bought a second one for parts.

21 Apr 2022 $4.30 CITY OF ADELAIDE
Two hours of parking in the city on a Wednesday afternoon. I borrowed two library books for free while I was there.

18 Apr 2022 $65.16 OTR
The cost of a tank of 95 octane petrol. I used the windscreen cleaner for free, but the toilets were occupied so I held on until I got home. There was no public holiday surcharge.

17 Apr 2022 $29.90 PETSTOCK
The price for ten white cloud fish that I released into the water feature in my backyard. I’ve received multiple mosquitos bites in the weeks since, so I am questioning the value of this one.

17 Apr 2022 $15.00 MYLK BAR NORTH ADELAIDE
Two coffees, public surcharge included. Felt a bit steep, honestly.

14 Apr 2022 $16.00 HARRYS BAR ADELAIDE
An imperial pint of Little Creatures plus a large can of Guinness. Felt pretty cheap, honestly.

13 Apr 2022 $140.00 UPPER LIMB SURGEON
6 Apr 2022 $341.55 RADIOLOGY
30 Mar 2022 $220.00 UPPER LIMB SURGEON
25 Mar 2022 $142.20 HAND THERAPIST
18 Mar 2022 $89.60 RADIOLOGY
15 Mar 2022 $250.00 RADIOLOGY
11 Mar 2022 $42.00 SHOULDER ELBOW HAND THERAPIST

Breaking a bike part is a lot cheaper than breaking a human part.

7 Apr 2022 $42.00 HAIR BOWDEN
This does seem to be pretty excessive when placed on the spectrum of two large coffees and a whole tank of refined petrol. According to the archives a haircut in Sydney in 2011 cost $25 and I can understand why the war in Ukraine might have pushed that price up to where it is today. At least this is for a scissor cut.

3 Apr 2022 $8.00 NSW National Parks & Wildlife Service (Bundanoon)
The price for 24 hours in a NSW National Park is $8 and honestly I would pay more if I had to.

22 Mar 2022 $117.67 Pet Circle
The price of 15kg of dog food in 2022, but due to the amount of chicken and bird shit in Nash's diet it takes her at least six weeks to get through each bag. Just another piece of evidence that I could feed myself for less than $25 a week if I was desperate.

14 Mar 2022 $18.50 Car Wash Robot
A $7.5 jump since 2006, although I did have to pay about six times as much for the car that I put in it.


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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?


The Catch

There are way more than five senses, and lately I’ve discovered a new one that a sheltered life in Australia has withheld from me up until now. It’s related to the current coronavirus strain which is infecting people everywhere, and I wanted to write about it as part of the running gag I’ve got going about being a modern day British Mass Observation diarist, whose wartime purpose I have already bastardised twice to justify talking about myself in the context of a global pandemic.

Every time I leave the house I have a sense that I might be locked up just for going about my day. Maybe it will be a stop for petrol at the wrong service station, or a pint at the wrong brewery, or a seat on the wrong tram. A QR code, or a credit card transaction, or a partial facial recognition might be all that's needed for a computer to place me at the same location as a specific spike protein and I will receive a text message and either be stuck at home for fourteen days, or worse, imprisoned in a hotel room with no mantel while my cherry tomatoes are left behind to the elements.

There are reasons that can be rationalised for this way of life, which affects everyone, not just those who have a journal. I won’t comment on the logic because I didn’t really like being in charge of a team of six people, let alone making decisions about a state of more than a million during a pandemic, so I don’t judge as much as I experience.

The threat of being forced into isolation at any time creates unpleasant behaviour patterns. Every time I consider going into a shop or restaurant I have to weigh up the risk of that venue later being a hot spot. And if I’m with Vanessa, is it strategically better for only one of us to go inside instead of both? Is checking in an overall net negative or net positive action? Did my dog ever sign the social contract? It’s impossible not to think about these things. It’s only been a couple of weeks like this; always fighting the urge to open the internet to see if new exposure sites have been added. Is staying at home indefinitely to avoid being stuck at home for a fortnight even any better? (Yes, if I’m not required to isolate, I can still walk on the sand at the beach and ride my bike around the place).

For those reading this expect the customary pun or meaningful conclusion, I don’t have one. I just wanted to capture these feelings for what I hope is their uniqueness, and reflect on them one day in the future when it’s easy to make plans and get a coffee without feeling the way I feel now.

Bake Love Not War

The timing of our oven's catastrophic failure couldn't have been worse. Since the air fryer arrived last December it has had one job, and that job is to produce a giant cookie for me to eat on Anzac Day. (It also makes pizza but it does that because it likes to).

Traditions are an interesting aspect of human behaviour. The tradition of solemnising the ANZACs of 1915 has evolved a lot since it was first observed in 1942, and commemorated respectfully at war memorials around Australia and New Zealand. By the 60's public opinion was that it wasn't worth the interruption to shopping and sport. During the Vietnam War it was a used by objectors who were protesting the military. Big AFL games may have played a part in it's resurgence in popularity, and by the time everyone was carrying a smartphone to share what they hadn't forgotten on the internet, Anzac Day reached the place it occupies today.

That might sound cynical - which it is - and I'm not saying that Anzac Day can't be observed respectfully if you want to. But the point remains that traditions sometimes change and that's not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, it's just a human thing. I mean, I've had a lot of takes myself on Anzac Day since 2008. I'm not judging.

Even Woolworths have changed their tune. Six years ago the ANZACs were "Fresh In Our Memories", this April they're advertising oats, flour, butter and golden syrup as "Oat Biscuits".

Besides, if I imagine a reality where I was born in 1898 and found myself in the shoes of a digger dying in the sand on the shores of the Dardanelles I don't think I would care about what people or supermarkets would be doing exactly 106 years later. I'd probably just wish I hadn't joined the army and that I was at home playing board games and eating a giant cookie with the person I loved.

So if Anzac Day is important to you, make it a ceremony. Reflect. Drink a beer at 7 in the morning. Play Two-Up and post that on the internet. Tell a service member you're grateful. Go for a hike. It's your life. Be true to yourself.

image 2203 from bradism.com

This Anzac Day was the first in twelve years that Vanessa didn't make me a cookie. We tried to get a new oven installed by the 25th, but universe conspired against us. So today we made cookies in the air fryer. This came with its own forms of adversity. Vanessa's heart nearly broke when the first one came out close to like a caramelized pancake. She didn't give up. A giant cookie on Anzac Day means to love to her, and to me. That's what's important. We tweaked the temperature (160°) and reduced the cooking time (about ten minutes), added a few more oats and bi-carb. Four batches later we'd got it right and we'd done it together. It wasn't a giant cookie, but it was four million calories in my stomach again. Vanessa was happy. I was content. Tradition is important, but it's no match for the present.


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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.

image 2125 from bradism.com

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.

Autumn 2020

My Autumn 2020 daily video compilation was almost #CancelledByCovid back in March. The videos I'd been expecting to make - nights out at the Fringe Festival, trips to the pub, the first footy game of the season, the city's transition from shorts and thongs into puffy jackets and scarves - all suddenly seemed very far away.

But as I kept filming I realised what I was recording was snapshots of my life as my society adjusted to a pandemic. The Autumn video was always going to be the season that showed the most dramatic of changes. What I ended up capturing would be a historic record of the transition to a new way of living. Which, in Adelaide, was kind of anti-climatic and the new normal turned out to be a lot of videos of trees.

The Wave - A Reflection

I’ve written a lot about COVID19 and its impact on Bradism at a micro - down to the legume - level, but I’ve touched less on the macro. I have also been reading The Splendid and the Vile this past week which is a narrative retelling of Churchill and the Battle of Britain, sourced by Erik Larson from a multitude of personal diaries and other secondary sources. I’ve found it fascinating.

South Australia marked the end of all known cases of coronavirus yesterday (for how long, who knows) and I thought it was a good a time as any to reflect on the events of the past few months, and hope that someday perhaps a narrative retelling of Coronavirus might feature some of my words read in the audiobook in a suitably formal Adelaide accent. I wanted to remember what the new normal was before it became the new normal.

Adelaide Oval and the empty footbridge.

No football crowds on this sunny Sunday afternoon.


I flew domestically to Brisbane in early January, not fully appreciating it might be the last opportunity in a long time to stand in a packed queue at an airport; sit shoulder and knee to shoulder and knee in an aeroplane seat. I’m not sure where breastfeeding in the back row of the plane will land in the new normal, but back then I just read my book and watched the outback stretch by without a second thought.
At the hotel I stayed at with my brothers we had a stack of board games. Steve had brought Pandemic, but something we shared in our hearts meant it was the only game we didn’t touch that weekend.

From an Australian point of view, previous attempts by the world to spawn a pandemic during my existence have petered out well before they affected my life beyond something I read on a news website while drinking a smoothie, or eating cereal and yogurt. In February 2020 it became clear to me COVID19 was something different. Maybe it is South Australia, where isolation is almost like elevation, that allows a perspective different to other places in the world. COVID19 was a wave, a zerg creep spreading through the transport hubs of the world towards Australia, Adelaide. In late February in the office I was advising my team to buy sanitiser, and wash their hands. Actually I did that last year too, but in mid-March when the stores were all out and every craft gin distillery was horizontally diversifying I felt a little bit proud to see one litre tubs of sanitiser on each of my staff members' desks. Of course by that time almost all of them were working from home. On my final day in the office - March 25 - it did cross my mind that I could probably harvest a few gallons of sanitiser from the hundreds of empty desks on my level alone, to augment my income throughout the economic apocalypse which was sure to come.

The first wave broke over Adelaide that week of March. Seventeen cases, 31, 38, it seemed inevitable that the virus would run rampant, there’d be exponential growth in infections, everyone would shit blood and die, I’d never eat four bean mix again. I felt relatively safe myself. I already had exceptional hand hygiene, I protect my personal space on public transport and I keep my mouth shut when I’m walking. Back then it wasn’t as evident that surface transmissions were so potent. It was hard not to take a little delight in the available seats on the tram in peak hour, or the quietness of the gym despite knowing these were signs of circumstances that could negatively impact me and my family immensely. (Though the squat rack always seemed to be occupied regardless.)

And then the staying home intensified. For weeks all we did was stay home, other than essential trips once or twice a day to the supermarket, or Big Box Hardware, or some other shop to buy the things we'd need to continue staying home. (Plus extra trips back to the supermarket due to half the shopping list being out of stock that morning. To be fair, at the time I did unfortunately have to deal with two homes). The streets were quieter during my morning walks around the block. South Road as desolate as the toilet paper aisle at the shops. The malls were empty. The parks were empty. It felt not like everyone was staying home, but that everyone had been eradicated. Like most westerners I’m more familiar with zombie movie tropes than I am with epidemiology and while I wanted a more comprehensive understanding of the latter the day to day experience was like the former.

A highway with only a single car.

Peak hour on a Thursday morning in April.


Venturing out to the supermarket in particular felt like being a hunter/gatherer when man first picked up tools. Survival instincts flushed me with adrenaline. Free hand sanitizer flushed me with adrenaline (and sanitizer). You could trust no-one. Everyone was a carrier. Supermarket shopping had already been an all-senses experience before COVID19, satisfying my lizard brain with food and my monkey brain with bargains and pretty colours. Now it took on a new dimension, triggering gambling pleasure centres. Getting discounted steak and not having coronavirus a week later felt like a jackpot.

April turned into May and staying home became less intense, and more normal. New routines emerged. I walked thousands of steps without leaving my neighbourhood. We stopped experimenting in the kitchen and live streaming events we wouldn’t have gone to in normal times anyway. On Zoom even the managers had stopped wearing collared shirts.
Everyone else in Adelaide must have been getting used to staying home too. The new daily cases kept going down. The testing coverage expanded, hunting for the infected and coming back with nearly nothing. Somehow - with respect to the handful who lost their lives and livelihoods - in South Australia the first wave hadn’t even touched the goolies. There’s almost, almost the feeling like we missed out on the adventure. 2020 FOMO. I’m sickened and heartbroken for some of the cities I’ve had the privilege of visiting in the past, and thrilled my state has been relatively unscathed healthwise. I recognise these thoughts are irrational, survivor’s guilt, the implication I’m a bystander in the universe. But honestly I wouldn’t want to be any other place in the world this year. At least so far, it’s only May after all. Who knows what twists the remaining seven months of 2020 have in store? Maybe a second wave, the collapse of society, the rapture - dinosaurs raised from their graves, roaming the earth. That banana fungus taking out Cavendishes. I’m counting nothing out. Maybe 2021 is going to be even worse?

Play equipment covered in warning tape that has come loose.

Playground throwing off the shackles of government restrictions.


What I hope is that there’s a vaccine, we all learn a valuable lesson and all subplots are wrapped up in a satisfying way. I will settle for the world going almost back to normal, but there's more hand sanitiser everywhere and everybody else is as hesitant to shake hands with people as I am.

Whatever happens next, I’ll try to journal it.

Countdown to the Past

There was a public holiday today.

image 2019 from bradism.com

Double J spent most of the day playing back the Hottest 100 of 1999. I listened to it on digital radio as I cleaned my kitchen and drove around to buy packing boxes off gumtree. Listening made me nostalgic. Nostalgic for last year, when I was made to feel nostalgic by the Hottest 100 of 1998 on Double J. The classic tunes themselves also made me nostalgic for 20 years ago (and also yesterday) when I was playing Age of Empires II. How much and how little things change.

As the countdown went longer, and Filter's Take a Picture's opening riffs failed to emerge from my bluetooth speakers I was forced to check the track-listing and realised that it was January 26, 2001 that I spent a post-shinding day alternating between napping on the couch during the cricket, and creating Age of Empires scenarios on my computer which - much like my novels - consumed a lot of time and led to not much.

That's the problem with nostalgia. It feels nice, but it's not too connected to reality. Who knows what I really felt during the final days of the millennium when those songs played and I did my things. Oh well. Only two years to go until I can rely on early bradisms to confirm.

2019

Walking out of the train station this morning, tried to sidestep someone's massive vape cloud and stumbled over a pile of knocked over e-scooters. Then thought I was getting a friendly hand up from a stranger, but actually had an Uber Eats coupon thrust in my face.

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