The Ten Day Long Weekend

Since joining the white-collared workforce 13 years ago I've dreamed of having a beard. And now, at 34, I've finally grown something I can wear with confidence down the corridors between cubicles. Who would have thought that, after trying year after year, it wasn't a fuller beard that I grew so thick, but society's standards for fashionable dishevelment that would fall so far.


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Weekend Sprints Retrospective

My publicly declared deadline to finish my second draft has come and gone. That, along with high temperatures and DNA destroying UV from 9 to 5 has seen me spend much of another weekend in front of the computer writing and editing.

I like writing, and most days of the year I'd be thrilled to have such long blocks of time dedicated to stories, but this book has taken a long time, and at this point I'm more keen to get to THE END than I am to savour the experience. This will necessitate plenty of effort on the third draft to turn it into 80,000 words of consistent pith and joy.

Anyway, despite the thousands of words that were typed or tweaked on Friday night and Saturday, I found myself feeling a bit unfulfilled and discouraged by the process, and not truly looking forward to Sunday's wordsmithing, nor certain what I could do differently.

I've mentioned before that I use a mini Kanban board at home to replicate the one in my office. On it I track home maintenance, holiday planning, and story writing. Last night I added a few house tasks I'd been putting off. Gardening, cleaning and plumbing.

The board at the end of the weekend.

The board at the end of the weekend.

Today I supersetted writing with small victories, and despite getting a smaller (yet still significant) amount of prose fashioned, I feel more satisfied today with my accomplishments. I think my words benefited from it too.

That's my writing tip for today.

Bradism Nightly News

Performance art? I was on the afternoon train today, prime transit time, when a self-centered teen decided to listen to music through the loud speakers of his phone. The song he chose to disturb the commute of everyone else in the quiet carriage? The Sound of Silence.

I have noticed a trend of my journal entries containing less of my life lessons than they did a dozen years ago. Maybe this is because I am wiser now, though I doubt it. What I suspect is that I avoid more mistakes (which could have lead to amusing anecdotes) thanks to the magic search engine in my pocket at almost all times. But, today, I finally learnt something new through experience - because I didn't search "Will simmering a spicy, oniony curry for an hour on the stove make it harder to run?"
The answer was, yes: while cooking, the oily condensation will settle in your hair and on your forehead, and when you get up to speed in the summer evening sun the sweat will carry the chili and syn-propanethial-s-oxide down your brow and directly onto your eyeballs and you will cry not just from hamstring pain but also from self-inflicted crowd-control. (Yes, google taught me about syn-propanethial-s-oxide).

I have a new keyboard for the office now, after well meaning desk cleaners last year coated my old, wireless keyboard with cleaning liquid and wiped it down with a wet rag. I ordered a mid-range, LED back-lit mechanical gaming keyboard, which I convinced financial approvers was necessary for my work. It wasn't actually a lie. It's hard to find a full-size keyboard with a wrist support and media controls these days and the cherry-brown keys do increase my typing speed a little bit.
I turned off the back-lighting, even though I predict it will actually save my work money after about twelve months of my increased typing efficiency. It's unfortunate that they the manufacturer needed to mention gaming in the product name at all. I will not be gaming on this keyboard, unless blasting stuck java virtual machines with force restart commands, or navigating vying political agendas in multiple-recipient emails counts as gaming. It kind of does, if you don't take it seriously, but there's never a high score.

(After a couple of minutes and a few excellently filled out rows of a spreadsheet I turned the LED back-lights back on.)

image 1842 from bradism.com

Marco

Someone in the office once referred to me as the “stripy-polo guy”, which I believe is a fair summation of my appearance and personality.

image 1822 from bradism.com

There’s a lot to like about the humble polo shirt. They have a collar, with some buttons, so at the office they look a lot more professional than a t-shirt. But you don’t have to tuck them in, like a dress shirt. You can wear them just as easily with jeans as slacks. They have short sleeves, are non-restrictive and hang comfortably.
The only downside is that their slightly porous material does tend to hold in a few dog hairs, and if you wear a plain polo and you’re two metres tall you tend to become a bit of a billboard. Hence the stripes. For years I have worn them as the perfect balance between business, style and comfort.

A couple of months ago I was at a coffee shop wearing one of my latest striped polos, a blend of white, navy and pastel pink bars. I’d bought my father an identical copy for Father’s Day, and so it still had off-the-rack freshness and not a lot of dog hair.
While ordering my coffee I noted an old man ahead of me wearing the exact same polo! What a coincidence! These things happen sometimes when you live in Adelaide and there’s not that many clothes for sale. I wondered if his son had given him that shirt for Father’s Day too.

A few weeks later it was a Friday and I was wearing one of my brighter, more jovial striped polos to mark the upcoming weekend. I was walking across Hindmarsh Square when I spotted a different old man wearing the same polo as me again! This was more than a coincidence, as I’d owned my version for a few years already and I definitely hadn’t bought one for my dad. This man was so old, even if he had a son he probably would have been as old as my dad. A thought nagged at me, perhaps wearing striped polos wasn’t as stylish as I’d first thought. Perhaps wearing striped polos was, in fact, an old man thing to do…

This morning, donning my red and blue striped polo, I noticed a nash hair poking from the sleeve and I pinched it to pull it out. On closer inspection, it couldn’t have been a Nash hair, because it was too short and it almost looked gray.

It was my hair. My gray hair. The stripy-polo guy had grown up to become a stripy-polo old man.


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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?

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Managing Somehow

I was disappointed this morning when my new norm of back to back meetings meant I didn't have a free half hour to mix cereal, fruit and yogurt together and eat it. Repetition, a sensitive tooth, weather so cold that my yogurt warms up after I take it out of the fridge, have not swayed my affections for this pre-lunch ritual.

This afternoon, after I spotted my yogurt tub in the kitchenette fridge, I went to my calendar to see if there would be time Thursday to fit in second breakfast. To my despair every thirty minute block had been allocated to some need or another. Then I noticed one appointment, at 10:30, simply titled “busy”. It had no location or other attendees, and I remembered that last week when I saw my calendar filling up for the morning that I booked out half an hour just in case I wanted to eat cereal and yogurt.

T-shirt City

Using a phrase on a t-shirt is a really lazy method of characterization when writing. But in real life, sometimes it happens. At lunch today I saw a middle aged woman in mum-jeans wearing a t-shirt that said "I just want to rescue dogs and drink wine." I know you can picture exactly what she looked like.

Today was casual Friday. I mean, I work at a university, every day is causal Friday. But I'm a manager now, so wearing a t-shirt and jeans feels frisky. I thought I'd only have one meeting today, and it should have been okay. Then some consultants asked me to meet and discuss the integration architecture. So there I was, New Balance 624s on my feet, the most elegant, glorious high-level technical overview spilling from my lips like a 2012 Shiraz. I felt, physically, indescribable. I mean, why would you even bother trying?

On my way to my train home, beneath distinctively overcast autumn skies the same shade as my shirt, I was waiting at the crossing. A woman started across the road well ahead of the lights actually changing. She had a wrinkly tan that said she'd never spent an hour in an office during the daylight. Her backpack was on her chest; she puffed from her cigarette as she blocked the lanes. She had a black baseball cap on, emblazoned with the word, "Whatevs."
"Wow," I thought.

Once I was home, I did Tai Chi and drank a 2012 Shiraz.

Ghetto Engineering

There's a certain satisfaction in fixing something complicated with only the simplest of parts, and your own ingenuity. Over the last few weeks my handheld milk frother looked like it was heading for an early death. The spinning motor still worked fine, but the groove in which the metal frothing wand sat was wearing away, leading to the tragic outcome of the spinny bit sinking into hot, bubbly milk every time.

Putting my brain and thumbs to work, I took a tiny piece of sticky-tape and wrapped it around the top of the wand. This increased the girth just enough for it to stay inserted during rapid spinning. Problem solved for practically nothing, with the most basic possible components.

I'm not going to worry over the semantics of how the roll of tape got into my office, or how sticky-tape was invented.

High Entropy

Yesterday at work I was alone in a chatroom with someone and he accidentally exposed his password to me.

I instantly recognised what it was because, like mine, it had a mix of letters, numbers and special characters. I tried to look away, but I knew I'd seen his password and he knew I'd seen his password too. It felt awkward.

What surprised me was just how normal it looked. This person has a lot of experience in IT, and I would have guessed he'd have a long, highly secure password. In reality, his password was just an average length and it even had a dictionary word in it.

We both lol'd about it, and I told him I'd pretend I'd never seen it, and he said he trusted me, but that he was going to change it anyway. The next time I saw him, it was a little hard to make eye contact.

I think the moral of the story is that everyone has a password, and none of them are that special. You should always keep your password to yourself.

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