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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.


An Ode to 2019

I've been thinking about 2019 a bit lately. Definitely not with rose coloured glasses...

X


God, I wish it was still then. I know it helps nothing to bemoan, but all on the scales it was such an amazing year. My existing injuries were settling down. I'd found a pair of shoes I could walk anywhere in. I saw my friends every week. A few of them got married.

X


I played basketball. I did pull ups. I hiked places with Vanessa.

X


You could go places and other people would be there and it never felt weird.

X


I led a great project with great people at work. I was constantly challenged and felt a sense of accomplishment. Also you could literally get on a plane at a moment's notice and fly anywhere on the planet and I did that many times.

X


It wasn't cold. (It did hit 46 degrees in January). Vegetables were cheap. I paid no attention to the economy.

X


I'm just putting this here to remind me that life can be better than mundane and painful. Hopefully again soon.

Perfect Fits

All through childhood I loved Lego for its combination of construction, imagination and smooth plastic. Every Christmas I hoped and prayed for new sets to build.

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When I became an adult I still loved Lego, and now that I had a full time job I could afford lots of sets.

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Then I bought my camera and the two hobbies combined and I took photos of Lego scenes and made phocumentaries about all the surgeries I had. I bought even more Lego and sorted it into all the different shapes and colours. It didn't matter how old I got, I knew I would never grow sick of my Lego and I would one day quit my job to be a famous Lego set maker or professional photographer. Or both!

image 2294 from bradism.com

And then I stopped buying sets. And I stopped taking photos. And I stopped making things with Lego. All I did was work in an office with boxes of sorted Lego beside me that I never opened up or took photos of.

I had got too old for Lego.

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Then, when I heard my little niece and nephew were coming to Bradelaide for Christmas I suddenly realised that there might be a purpose for this sorted Lego that could make a couple of people very, very happy.

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So I made this Christmas Phocumentary for amusement of my present self and my future self, and then I packed away all my Lego again.


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Nash Visits The Seaside

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When the backyard gets boring there's a whole state to explore assuming you can find nearby accommodation that allows dogs.

This weekend Nash went to the Yorke Peninsula for some adventures. Including:

Walks along the beach

Walks along the beach

Morning walks along the cliff

Morning walks along the cliff

Cooking the BBQ

Cooking the BBQ

Off-Roading along the cliff

Off-Roading along the cliff

Cooling off.

Cooling off.

Walks along the beach at sunset

Walks along the beach at sunset

Ironically, while we were away one of the most exciting things to happen in the garden in months occurred.

image 2284 from bradism.com

September in the Garden

There's a lot that happens in the garden between the last cold and grey day in August and the (admittedly also cold and grey) first day of October. Leaves re-emerge. Flowers blossom. Berries appear. The grass photosynthesizes. I wrote this entry to keep track of the progress of things in my garden for future reference. I didn’t intend to do this at the start of the month, I just realised when looking through my phone’s gallery that most of my photos were taken in my backyard.

The end of August. The irises are already in bloom. The foliage is reinvigorated. Lattice like limbs of the pruned mulberry tree form a makeshift barrier to keep Nash off the tulips.

The end of August. The irises are already in bloom. The foliage is reinvigorated. Lattice like limbs of the pruned mulberry tree form a makeshift barrier to keep Nash off the tulips.


If you look closely the first buds are appearing on the mulberry branches.

If you look closely the first buds are appearing on the mulberry branches.


New sun patches form to be enjoyed. In the background the first shoots of new raspberry canes are appearing.

New sun patches form to be enjoyed. In the background the first shoots of new raspberry canes are appearing.


Around mid-September the darker purple irises start to bloom. The first flowers on the Brunfelsia also start to pop open.

Around mid-September the darker purple irises start to bloom. The first flowers on the Brunfelsia also start to pop open.


After mowing only once or twice over the entire winter, the extra daylight and angle of the sun (along with a few watering cans of Seasol) will reanimate the grass and mowing will be an every second weekend activity in September. This is also a sign that it's time to protect the strawberry patch with shade cloth to protect them from the sun on hot days, and keep them shielded from wind and rain.

After mowing only once or twice over the entire winter, the extra daylight and angle of the sun (along with a few watering cans of Seasol) will reanimate the grass and mowing will be an every second weekend activity in September. This is also a sign that it's time to protect the strawberry patch with shade cloth to protect them from the sun on hot days, and keep them shielded from wind and rain.


Mulberry growth will continue slowly but surely through the month, and the fruits will start to appear in clumps waiting for late spring warmth to ripen.

Mulberry growth will continue slowly but surely through the month, and the fruits will start to appear in clumps waiting for late spring warmth to ripen.


Around this point lunchtime salads will resume.

Around this point lunchtime salads will resume.


Lunchtime salads are a sign it's time to lay the slug and snail bait around the strawberries. Only I may eat plants.

Lunchtime salads are a sign it's time to lay the slug and snail bait around the strawberries. Only I may eat plants.


Actually if there are some spare carrots growing in the planter box then Nash can eat some plants too.

Actually if there are some spare carrots growing in the planter box then Nash can eat some plants too.


Around the third week of September this thing will start to flower. I prune the base of them so that there's no rotting leaves underneath and they seem to like that because they grow prolifically. The shade from their leaves is the second reason my tulips didn't grow this year. (The first reason is that Nash trod all over them.)

Around the third week of September this thing will start to flower. I prune the base of them so that there's no rotting leaves underneath and they seem to like that because they grow prolifically. The shade from their leaves is the second reason my tulips didn't grow this year. (The first reason is that Nash trod all over them.)


A panorama of an October garden. There's exhausted irises, two ripe cherry tomatoes, a fully in bloom brunfelsia, some little fences that might last until next October, and a mulberry in all its glory. You can also clearly see the spot on the grass that Nash likes to roll around on her back while kicking the ground.

A panorama of an October garden. There's exhausted irises, two ripe cherry tomatoes, a fully in bloom brunfelsia, some little fences that might last until next October, and a mulberry in all its glory. You can also clearly see the spot on the grass that Nash likes to roll around on her back while kicking the ground.

And that's what happened in September. An eleven photo summary of how boring my life has become.

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...

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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.

When Life Gives You Lemons II

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.

Inspire Journal Entries

/journals/journal/2060

I Know What I Did Last Summer

It’s cold in Adelaide. And Dark. On the weekend Vanessa and I huddled together and watched I Know What You Did Last Summer, which reminded me of last Fourth of July, and the week leading up to it which I spent in Oregon hiking and drinking IPAs. It also reminded me that I never posted the collection of beer reviews I wrote over those final days of my Pacific Northwest experience. I found the old Doc and fixed the spelling mistakes. The rest I leave in its pure form.

I drank quite a bit of beer in Washington, from the breweries of Seattle to the breweries of Packwood. It wasn’t until Oregon that I realised I should try to capture my feelings about the beers I was trying so that I was doing more than tickling my brain with hoppy, mild poison. I used my Safeway club card in Sandy to buy a mixed 6 pack of longneck IPAs that looked delicious and photogenic and started my reviewing journey in our cabin at Government Camp at the bottom of Mt Hood.

Worthy Strata IPA
Bend, Oregon

image 2057 from bradism.com

The colour is appealing straight out of the bottle. Rich, light brown and with aromas of beer. The flavours are deep and moreish; not bitter but not sweet. A refreshing, mid-thick ale that fills the mouth but doesn't overwhelm the senses. Despite saying IPA on the label it's described as an “Australian Style Pale Ale”, and maybe that's why a dash was spectacular for caramelising some onions.
Would drink again: Yes

Portland Brewing Ink & Roses IPA
Portland, Oregon

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Slightly bitter IPA, highly alcoholic. Not rich or hoppy without a strong aroma. Beery in colour. Enjoyable, but no hints of anything.
Would visit brewery?: No

Elysian Jasmine IPA
Seattle, Washington

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There's a jasmine vine I walk past daily in Adelaide and every springtime it flowers and perfumes a stretch of my foot commute. Jasmine is probably my favourite inedible plant, but that might have to change as these guys have added real jasmine flowers to an IPA. The fragrance is noticeable immediately upon opening the bottle. The flavour is more subtle, adding a slight, sweet and polleny taste to the otherwise effervescent, deep IPA texture. It's not particularly hoppy or wheaty, just a pleasant mouth filling beer with the novel aroma of flowers.
Would drink this beer once a year? Yes, in springtime.

Deschutes Freshly Squeezed IPA and Fresh Haze IPA
Bend, Oregon

image 2060 from bradism.com

I'd already enjoyed the Deschutes Freshly Squeezed IPA before trying the Fresh Haze purely based on the can art. The smaller Squeeze is hoppier, with the mosaic hops in particular dominating a thick, wet beer.
Fresh Haze has hops as well, though the orange-citrus zest overpowers the strength of the hops and I'd classify this closer to hard orange juice than beer. The sweetness isn't strong, nor can it completely mask the 6.5% alcohol content, but expecting something really hoppy I felt a little disappointed. However with the right expectations, and a greasy breakfast, this beer could be the perfect indulgence. Would drink again.
Number of IPAs in this IPA: Just Right

Mt Hood Brewing Co Ice Axe IPA
Mt Hood, Oregon

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On a day when the low cloud engulfed Mt Hood, we walked to the town’s obligatory micro-brewery to break up the bottle tastings with some freshly poured.
The Ice Axe IPA was served chilled, like a Government Camp morning. The hops are strong, and take the edge off any bitterness - like a bushy tailed squirrel flitting across your slog up the steep inclines of Zig Zag canyon. There is a crisp, malty aftertaste with each sip that tastes like malt.

Mt Hood Brewing Timberline Tucker Double IPA
Mt Hood, Oregon
The 8% alcohol content of this double IPA (whatever that means) is hidden behind a wall of hops, thick beer, and the alleged aroma of grapefruit.
The Justin Timberlake Timberline is a place of beauty, alpine meadows and snow-covered pines beneath the brutal gaze of Mt Hood's barren, icy slopes. The double IPA is like that, a beautiful, looming mountain of a beer ready for the courageous, and dismissive of the weak… It may have been ambitious to review two full strength pints in the same hour. I may have consumed more IPA than water over the past few days.

10 Barrel Brewing Apocalypse IPA
Bend, Oregon

image 2062 from bradism.com

An IPA which explicitly encourages drinking after physical activity, the Apocalypse IPA was the appropriate end of day beer after the last of 19 consecutive days in the Pacific Northwest's national parks and forests. By which I mean I was so numbed to the various hints and hops of Oregon’s beers that I noticed nothing notable about this beer, other than I would enjoy drinking it again and also doing 19 consecutive days of hiking instead of working again.

At this point on my beer reviewing journey we drove from Mt Hood to Salmon Street in Portland for the final few days of our holiday. Not only was there a Safeway a few blocks away, but the hotel provided a new craft beer selection to guests for free every night. I was put in the difficult position of drinking all my remaining beers before flying out, while also trying to buy more IPAs.

PFriem IPA
Hood River, Oregon

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An intense IPA, strong in hops and hints. Aromas of citrus. Aromas of citrus that fill the nose FROM INSIDE THE MOUTH. It has bears on the label.
Particularly refreshing after a long afternoon on the streets of Portland.
Would drink again: Yes.

Deschutes Tasting Paddle
Bend, Oregon

image 2064 from bradism.com

1 - watery beer. 2 - beer. 3 - extra-fruity beer. 4 - IPA-flavoured IPA. 5 - chocolate and coffee in a stout? Groundbreaking! 6 - sours are terrible.

Fort George The Optimist IPA
Astoria, Oregon

image 2065 from bradism.com

The human body is 80% water. My body is now 80% IPA. And thus, this one tasted like pure water. (By which I mean IPA, I wouldn’t want anyone to misinterpret that this was an amazing IPA. I just mean that by this point, and another day of walking the cool-summer streets of Portland I would definitely have tasted like an IPA.)

I probably should stop drinking beer.

10 Barrel Tasting
Bend, Oregon

image 2066 from bradism.com

I drank 10 beers. Highlights: a rocky mountain brown ale, an extra-IPA flavoured IPA (Pearl). A cucumber water infused sour that tasted exactly like a watermelon warhead. Sours are amazing.
Not pictured - the IPA I drank at McMenamins on the way to The Pearl District.

Sunriver Brewing Vicious Mosquito IPA
Sunriver, Oregon

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A strong IPA in a little can, like a mosquito [note - I don’t think I finished this review. Not because I was drunk, but because there are only so many synonyms for hoppy].

Several more undocumented beers later

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Hair of the Dog Green Dot Triple IPA
Portland, Oregon

image 2069 from bradism.com

IPA is more than water to me now. It is my body, my soul, it is the air that I breathe. I'd seen Double IPAs on brewery menus in the past, but this was the first triple IPA I'd encountered. The strength was intense. Finally, a panacea to the IPA ubiquity that had dulled the cans of the past few days. If IPA was the air that I breathed, the triple IPA was the equivalent of me being a bulldog, in the car on the freeway, my head out the open window and the air-beer blasting into my brain at 77 miles per hour.
After this, I watched the 4th of July fireworks and then went to bed.
This was the right way to end my beer drinking in the IPNWA.

(If you’re wondering where the 6th longneck ended up)

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