2015 Bradisms

Yeah, 2015 held some shit times. Far too many. Particularly at the arse of the year, where it joins to the hamstring tendon of the year.

I want to arrest the sense of jade I'm feeling about the past orbit by highlighting some positive things that occurred. Some of them were special, I don't want them getting lost in the noise.

Here they are in chronological order:

March 14 - I like this date because it just squeezes in before my one year anniversary at my new job. It's also the date of the go live of the project I spent six months on. Technical details follow. A full middleware stack, totally rebuilt by Brad-curated automation on better hardware, more efficiently licensed VMs. Dev through to prod. I delivered what I'd teased at in my job interview. I said, put me in charge. Let me take over the technical environment, disconnect your expensive vendor, save you money, improve the delivery cycle. I'd done that kind of thing before, but never without someone more experienced by my side to fall back on. I'd proven I wasn't being arrogant in the interview. I was competent. I was an IT profesional.

Honestly, I would have promised a lot more if they'd asked. Jobs like mine in this city aren't plentiful.
Also, I still had lots of help from other people. It was nice how that worked out too.

June 15 - Cairns, QLD. It had been raining that morning. Vanessa and I ate our fill of the free buffet breakfast and then went by boat to a place called Fitzroy Island. The sun came out. We spent the day hiking around the island. Rainforest, beaches, an abandoned lighthouse, and to the top of the volcanic ridge that had brought the land out of the water.

image 1550 from bradism.com

After a shower we walked along a coral beach and watched a beautiful sunset, followed by dinner and champagne. The food was superb, the air warm, the sound of the ocean peaceful. It was close to the perfect day. Good food, plenty of exercise, pretty sights, amazing companionship, free breakfast, snorkelling. Air conditioning on demand.

A lot of shit goes down on this planet. A lot of unfortunate people don't have the chance to even try to have a day like this. If the karmic dice of the universe have gifted you the resources to plan this kind of day I strongly recommend you do it. These kind of memories will help you through the bad times like the coming fresh water wars, month long periods of 40 degrees and dealing with FTTP drop outs in the 2050's.

(The next day was also pretty good. Before leaving the island we went snorkelling and met a sea turtle. And there was another free breakfast. It was totally worth missing the last game of the NBA Finals.)

October 24 - A whole team of friends worked together to plan Chow's Bucks Weekend. I spent a bit of time stressing about it. We had set ourselves lofty goals. Watching it come off (roughly) as planned, with that team of friends, was pretty special.

image 1551 from bradism.com

Laughter is good, and the planned and unplanned events of that weekend led to some side-aching laughs the kind you can only share when you're caught up on everyone's backstory. Ideally I'd like one of my friends to get married late-Spring every year.

December 19 - I completed my New Year's Resolution to finish writing a novel. Actually, my resolution was to avoid getting distracted by dogs while I was driving after nearly having an accident on January first. But admitting to being a slightly inattentive driver doesn't gel with my principles as a blunt conversationalist, so novel writing it was, and so I did it too.

It took my almost six months. The feeling upon scribbling out those final words was a strange one. It didn't feel like accomplishment. It was fear. Up until then, whenever I'd heard that gnawing internal voice telling me I was writing a horrible story that no one would ever enjoy reading I could always comfort myself that it wasn't finished yet. When the nagging ratched up I could drown it out by writing more. Now, in a plane halfway between Brisbane and Adelaide, I was trapped and it was finished and those doubt floodgates opened.

My hamstring hurt. Living was hurting. Working on that novel each day was an injection of hope that beat any shot of ineffective cortisone. Finishing it was like signalling to my brain that we were leaving grandmas. The trip to the dog park was over. The lights on the bar had flashed three times before dimming again. Shit.

Of course, reaching the end of writing a novel isn't technically the same as completing one. Even after two weeks of going through it, filling in the gaps, and highlighting plot holes I still wouldn't say it's complete, or völlig komplett. But if I died today someone could theoretically pull it out of a drawer, edit it and self-publish it on Amazon. That's a big deal! Anyway, my resolution for 2016 is to finish editing a novel.

(Obviously that's not my real resolution, which is find more comfortable trousers and rotate my sponges in the kitchen more regularly. I should also print off a draft of my novel, buy a drawer and put it in there, just in case I die from shit hamstring disease.)

If you like Bradism, you'll probably enjoy my stories. It's my dream to be a famous author, and you can help support me by previewing one of my books from Amazon below, and purchasing it if you like it.

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.

Today's Bradisms

Drank a banana and strawberry smoothie for breakfast while listening to Boston. I feel like since I turned 31 I have developed an insatiable appetite for classic rock. Could just be Spring doing it.

In the evening I spilled rice all over the floor and then I felt like I was in a vacuum cleaner commercial.

Later I listened to Enya to make me feel like a child again.

10 Years (2)

It was on this date exactly ten years ago that I made my first official post on Bradism.com. Prior to that all my entries had been made manually by editing HTML in notepad and uploading it via FTP.

Yes, I know this jubilee seems kind of reminiscent of my 10 years of journaling in 2011 - when I first created that html file in notepad - but it's kind of different too. Like how the AFL celebrated its centenary in 1996 and then celebrated 150 years of AFL in 2008.

The second most frequent question I receive about Bradism is "When is the book coming out?" Well, for the first time I have an answer, 2016! Obviously I was aiming for today... but things have been busy lately. Surely my continuing ascent into my thirties will offer me more time to trawl through the Bradism archives for best-of content than my late twenties did, right?

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1501 Entries!

How nice it was to receive some feedback from readers after my 1500th entry yesterday. I enjoyed the theories about why the frequency of entries has trended down over time.

"Did you ever think that, when you first started Bradism. you had a backlog of things to say? Maybe that's why the first 500 entries appeared so much faster."

Unlikely. Particularly given that the first 100 entries were actually ported from my old journals and many of the rest were about contemporary issues like the weather, petrol prices and cricket results.

"Did you ever think that maybe your entries decreased because you stopped being funny?"


"Your 500th entry was in 2006, shortly after you bought a new camera. The 1000th entry came in 2009 right before you bought a DSLR. There's an expression 'a picture says a thousand words', have you extrapolated your image posts out and compared the total created content between the three periods after taking that into account?"

It is true that it took me until late 2006 to start posting entries with pictures in them, and until 2010 when I started posting multiple photo entries with any regularity. But that probably has more to do with me being too lazy to write image uploading code and an image album feature than anything else.

"Post more Lego photo stories about boring office stories, please."

Okay, now I know these are fake.

1500 Entries!

Sometimes I think about replacing bradism.com with a new online journal system. One that is more stable, looks better on multiple devices, is probably way less hackable, easier to update, integrates instagram and facebook, and has cooler features than this home cooked and completely unique web content management system.

I don't think I ever will. I've pretty much learned all the shortcuts, the idiosyncrasies and the manual workarounds to make it do what I need. Plus I'm too lazy to change. That does sound exactly like me. Given that I make up 99% of my own readership I can't see any kind of revolt occurring unless some technological breakthrough occurs that renders PHP generated HTML obsolete. Even now, almost ten years after I made it, this website manages to look good on mobile browsers. Although that may say more about the talents of today's mobile application developers than it does about my pre and post-nightfill battering of the keyboard in the summer of 2004.

The frequency of my updates has definitely decreased over the years. My first 500 entries are spread over 836 days. The next 500 came over 1176 days, exactly 168 weeks. The most recent 500 took 1974 days or 282 weeks. That's over five years! (For some reason all of my quincentennial entries have fallen on Fridays.)

I guess these statistics could seem confusing. I mean, the past five years of my life has almost undoubtedly been the most significant of my post-journal creating existence. There's been marriage, puppies, moving, travelling, national and international work, multiple new jobs and experiences. But then, I never journal about anything important, so really the numbers make sense.

Last year was clearly my worst year for writing things that aren't important (or at least posting them online), and I intend to rectify that this year. This will occur probably not with extra introspection, more likely I'll just cross post my instagram uploads and Facebook status updates. Plus who knows what else. I'll evaluate it in another 500 entries.

Shouts out to all my regular readers, I do this for you.

Magic Beard

Over the Christmas break I may have attempted to grow a beard. It didn't start of intentionally, just a series of serendipitous circumstances lead to me starting my break with a few days growth already. Given my lack of office meetings, general summer day apathy and the knowledge that my 30s would probably offer few if any opportunities to walk around with pubescent bumfluff on my face. I lasted about twelve days before admitting defeat and removing it from my face before 2015 started.

None of this is important. I mention it though because of what happened next. Doubtlessly you will recall in vivid detail my entry on June 21, 2011 where I described in detail my new shaver. The ES8249s is still going strong today, although sometime early last year it did develop a fault with it's LCD screen. All of the sprites in the LCD display would turn on when running and it meant that the time and battery level readouts were both incomprehensible. Seeing as neither piece of information is required for shortening the hair on my face I decided I'd just live with the risk of running out of battery mid-shave, and never knowing when I set a PB.

That's how I lived for months, then I grew a beard. Then I shaved that beard, and like magic the moment it was down the drain my shaver's LCD display works again! I assume it was a magic beard.

Deploying Spring

On the first day of spring I went for a walk at sunrise. It was a chilly morning, but bright, and the air was filled with birdsong and pollen. Of all the sounds, the loudest was the energetic squawking of a hooded plover. It was whooping around the park in quick, wide circles, so excited that it was spring. Like they'd been giving away red cordial on the last day of school.

Those events marked the end of a long winter. Definitely not a cold one; had I not taken a weekend off to visit Melbourne in late June I might have lost my perspective on the season completely. It was "long" because of the fixed, looming shadow of what's to come. The course isn't totally clear, but I can confidently describe what's to come as being a bunch of short, life-shaping events in a row. That's all I can really say. The future is always so much clearer after it becomes the past.

Anyway, later on during these first days of spring I was in Auckland. Auckland is a city where my winter would have had no problems disguising itself as a summer. It was much cooler there. During another of my sunrise walks I heard only a single bird call. This solitary chirp was a much shorter, pessimistic trill by some unseen sparrow. Almost immediately upon its conclusion the rain started.
"Significant," I thought to myself.

You may actually be interested in what I was doing in Auckland. My life is more than eating cereal and making observations about the weather and cities. When I filled out my International Passenger Arrival Card and selected the purpose of my visit I checked "Business", not "Experience trivial reflections about the weather." In a tribute to the bradism.com of last decade I will actually talk about something meaningful in a literal manner.

Lately I have been visiting Auckland to be the technical resource responsible for the local implementation of an integrated e-commerce platform, coded in Germany and deployed in New Zealand. That is, more succinctly, I download a zip file, upload it to a bunch of servers and install its contents on each one. Then I fix everything that was wrong with it. Within my line of work, there is usually a lot that needs a specialist to fix.

I have been paid a lot of money lately to do this and I'm pretty good at it. When I'm not fixing issues I write scripts to do all the things I just installed and fixed automatically. I'm getting good at that as well. I mainly use python. I used python so much this last winter that when I saw a news headline "python kills two Canadian boys in their sleep" I thought to myself, "My code would have raised and handled an exception well before things went that far." This latest project has had its challenging moments already, and I'm becoming better at handling those kind of issues too. By its very nature my role is to essentially make myself redundant and move onto something novel, then repeat. This is my third major project of just this year alone, each using different technologies, platforms and strategies. I'm a specialist in handling new things, basically. And what is spring other than a time for new things?

Here they just call it Natural Ice Cream

I've never understood why some Australians tend to belittle New Zealanders and make references to sheep when discussing them. That said, when I was filling in my incoming traveller registration to hand to customs in Auckland and I realised that the mound of breakfast cereal in my suitcase triggered not one, but two of their bio-hazard red flags, I was prepared to level some abuse. Fortunately for myself and the sleepy customs agent and trans-Tasman relations in general there was no destruction of my cereal except by me eating it. In the taxi from the airport I even saw a few roadside advertisements for Weet Bix, leading me to comment, "Oh good, you guys have Weet Bix here too." The cabbie, from India and studying IT at the Auckland University of Technology, gave me a curious look. At first I figured he must be trying to work out why Australians were so enamoured by Weet Bix. Then I remembered that horrifying YouTube video I saw once and that was the first moment it began to dawn on me that New Zealand is not exactly a foreign country as much as it is a BIZZARO AUSTRALIA. Its near similarity is actually more amazing than countries which are actually exotic. Scientifically, you might even say it's an Australia like in a parallel world from Sliders - if you were a scientist who loved watching Sliders growing up as much as I did.

New Zealand - or at least the half-a-dozen streets of Auckland that I have visited - is Australia. Most people don't even have a kiwi accent. The only time I really notice I'm not in Sydney is when I say, "G'day" to people unironically and then realise what I've said. What is different though, is the little things. Like at Subway, they don't have shredded carrot. All the apples have different names and the tubs of yoghurt look the same but have different flavours like Citrus and Mixed Berry (same name, but slightly different freaking berries). It's like some butterfly effect where a slightly different person was randomly chosen for a focus group a few years ago. The two dollar coins are bigger than the one dollar coins... which I guess actually makes sense in some ways. Unlike calling a supermarket chain "Countdown".

Oh God... what if there's a New Zealand bizarro Brad and I meet him tomorrow? I just checked bradism.co.nz with my fingernails in my mouth in case there was. No almost-identical journal with subtle differences was rendered, thinkfully.