Back in Pink

Well, I rebuilt my site in just over a month. And I added SSL, Captchas and mobile friendliness in the process.

That's pretty cool.

Post in the comments which of your favourite old features is now missing.


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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?


Bradism Curry

I've been making the same style of curry for work lunches basically every second week for years now. I've been refining for a long time, and I've got it down to an art. I'm amazed I haven't posted about it before.

Making it isn't particularly complicated, or require any special ingredients or techniques. There's just a few tips and tricks that turn this curry from sustenance to daily lunchtime happiness.

For my birthday I decided the gift I really wanted was a twenty litre stock pot. I didn't realise how easy they were to find, and this would increase the amount of bulk curry I could make at once. As you'll read, this meal is all about efficiency, and increasing my pot size was only going to improve that further.

For context, here's a photo of my new pot with my old pot inside it.

image 1586 from bradism.com

The old pot made about 12-15 meals, so I expected this one to make around 24-30. The following photos are from the first time I used it. I underestimated how many ingredients I could fit in there.

Now, if you're interested, follow along and learn the way to make your own bulk bradism curry.

Ingredients
There are a few staple ingredients that you'll need:
Onions
Chili
A jar of curry paste (doesn't matter what brand, so long as it's not a sauce.)
Tinned tomatoes

image 1587 from bradism.com

The rest of what goes in is up to you. Whatever meat and vegetables are on special, basically. Depends on the season I'm usually adding some of the following: sweet potato, potato, capsicum, cabbage, celery, green beans, peas, pumpkin, cauliflower. I also add multiple cans of drained lentils, legumes, chick peas. Meat is usually chicken or beef, sometimes turkey mince.

You can chop most things reasonably large, about 1-2cm cubes or pieces. The cooking process is slow and ingredients that are too small will get ruined. You also don't need to prepare all the ingredients before you start cooking. The long cook time means you can prepare the meat and lighter vegetables while the gravy and potatoes is cooking.

First pro-tip: put the chopped up potato and sweet potato into a microwave-proof bowl. Before cooking, add about 20-30mls of water to the bowl, cover with a paper towel and microwave for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat. Stir through occasionally. This will be the difference of the potatoes being fluffy and soft, or hard and chewy.

Cooking
0:00 - I don't use any extra oil, I just crack open the curry paste and tip the oil from the top of the jar into the pan. Fry the onion and chili on medium heat using that oil. It's better to cook the onion and chili from cold. Don't wait for the oil to heat up. If you do, small bits of onion and chili will jump off the surface when they hit the heat.

image 1588 from bradism.com

5:00 - Once the onion and chili is softening, add the rest of the jar of paste and dump in your microwaved potatoes. Stir vigorously to bash the potato against the surface of the pot, and this helps fry the outsides a little. When the ingredients start to stick add tinned tomatoes to form a gravy. If you have any dried legumes or dried lentils you can add them now too. Tinned ones wait for later.

10:00 - Put the heat on low and leave to simmer with the lid on.

image 1589 from bradism.com

Allow for ten minutes of simmering. Stir occasionally You can chop the next vegetables at this stage. Ingredients like cabbage and celery will be next in, as they take longer to wilt and soften.
20:00 - When the time is up, add the drained beans and the cabbage, celery.
image 1590 from bradism.com

Allow for another ten minutes of simmering and more stirring. The exact amount of stirring, heat comes down to instinct and practice. It can't be too cold, but don't let the pot boil. If it's too dry add more tomatoes, but remember that celery and cabbage will produce a lot of moisture as they cook.

30:00 - After the second phase of simmering you can add the remaining soft vegetables unless they're frozen. Frozen vegetables should wait until the very end.
Stir through the new vegetables and simmer another five-to-ten minutes. You can use this time to cut up the meat.
You can also use this time to start the rice, if cooking it with the absorption method.

image 1591 from bradism.com

35:00 - Start the rice and wait for it to boil, then turn down the heat and crack the lid. This is the point to add the meat and the frozen vegetables. Simmer both the curry and the rice. The curry should be bubbling but not boiling. The meat will seal and cook slowly, just enough for safety, but not so much that it dries out when microwaved.

45:00 - The rice should be done now. The curry too. Taste a potato and some vegetables and make sure they're not too underdone. A little bit of freshness is perfect, because they will finish cooking during reheating. Dish up the curry and rice into containers. If you have done the stirring and simmering correctly you should see no burning at the bottom.

image 1592 from bradism.com

I only got eighteen meals out of this batch. I didn't get close to the top of my pot. I could definitely have fit another two cabbages in there. Next time.
image 1593 from bradism.com

The final secret is, when microwaving this for lunch tomorrow, follow these steps for the best experience:
First, open the curry and splash a small amount of water (10-20ml), then stir the water to the bottom of the mix. The water will add extra steam when cooking and soften the vegetables. Complete the stirring by carving a hole in the middle of the mix, like it's a donut in the container. This allows better heat transfer.
Cover the container with a paper towel, this also helps with steaming and prevents any precious bit from spitting out into the office microwave.
Put the power down to medium-high or medium, depending on the wattage of your microwave. Set it up for ten minutes and let the curry cook. Stir every 3 minutes. If you hear chick peas exploding or anything else popping, that means the power level is too high.

When the microwaving is done there should be slight simmering within the container of the liquid. And it should be hot. At this point your coworkers may comment on how good your lunch smells, and you can tell them it's just paste out of a jar. That's it!

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.)


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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?

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.