I Actually Waited until the End of the Year

Music recommendation is a dangerous business. There aren't many more awkward situations than the one that follows you telling someone to listen to an awesome song, and then standing around for four minutes watching them listen to it - all the while questioning yourself if it really was that good to begin with. And wondering if it would help if you danced around a little.

I find that falling in love with music is never straightforward. A song might exist in the trivia of your periphery the first few times you hear it – at a house party, the last verse and chorus as you skim radio stations while driving, in the blur of The Hype Machine's Popular playlist for a certain day, as the soundtrack to an emphatic TV moment. But then one morning you somehow wake up with it in your head and realise you don't have it in mp3, you download it and play it several times like you're cramming for an exam on it. And all of a sudden you're in love, trying to find out if there's an album or when it's being released, reading the band's Wikipedia page, loving it on Last.fm. Other times a song you just know can become a song that you love when a third party is involved, like hearing it at some balanced moment during terrific times with friends or someone special, or at the peak of a bottle of whiskey.

I'm not sure how other people in the internet feel when someone recommends them a song. When someone tells me about a song they think I'd like, I instinctively want to reject whatever it is without even listening to it. Especially when they say something like:
'Hey Brad, you like The Shins and Big Country, right? I bet you'd dig Frightened Rabbit. Listen to The Modern Leper, you'll love it!'
I want to reply 'No! I'm not that simple! My musical tastes are inimitable, inspired by nothing but serendipity and insight. Don't treat my ears like some Prolog subroutine. I'm a unique snowflake motherfucker! Get out of my brain!'

With that said, I've made a list of songs from 2010 which I think are good. And I've posted them online, arranged from "best" to "best and listened to the most", pretty much. I haven't bothered with streaming links or anything because I figure most people are smart enough to know how to search on Grooveshark and YouTube and The Hype Machine if the vague sentence describing each song piques any curiosity.

I have also uploaded all the songs posted tonight into a zip file that you can download here, in case you feel the urge to immerse yourself in my recommendations for an hour or so.

The list is as follows...Continue Reading Best Songs of 2010...


Life is pointless... Want to receive updates and publishing news in your inbox? Sign up to the bradism mailing list. You'll also receive an ebook, free!


Top 10 Singles of 2010

The final 10 tracks of my best of 2010 list. You know how to Google if you want to listen. A zip containing all ten is here.

image 878 from bradism.com


10. Mark Ronson And The Business Intl feat. Simon Le Bon and Wiley
Record Collection

Mark Ronson proved on his covers album a few years ago that he could reproduce genre melting pop like a pro. In 2010 he kept his address book, but composed his own melodies and proved they could be just as infectious.

image 879 from bradism.com


9. Sia
Stop Trying

Adelaide born Sia, since moving overseas has made contacts with many talented people including Greg Kurstin - producer for Lily Allen and Kylie among others. Together they made Stop Trying, a brief but super catchy indie-pop single, cramming energy and grooves into a compact 160 seconds.

image 880 from bradism.com


8. Sleigh Bells
Infinity Guitars

The first time you hear this song will be one of the best times you hear this song. Just make sure the speakers are turned up loud.

image 881 from bradism.com


7. Rick Ross feat. Gucci Mane
MC Hammer

I was actually happy to find out Rick Ross lied about his criminal past and invented most of the stuff in his raps. It makes it easier to enjoy the testosterone and feather plumping without worrying that I'm advocating criminal activity.

image 882 from bradism.com


6. Skrillex with Bare Noize & Foreign Beggars
Scatta

Scatta is pretty much the perfect blend of dubstep, aurally pleasing MCs and apocalyptical beats. It sounds a little cheesy from a distance, but if you crank it up and close your eyes you can truly believe you're piloting a MechWarrior through hordes of zombies or Zerglings.

image 883 from bradism.com


5. Matt & Kim
Good For Great

Matt & Kim sound like an optimistic punk band with a keyboard instead of guitars - energetic melodies; rapid percussion and simple, bouncy grooves. Lately they've tried to mature into larger, more complex orchestrations (still with only the two instruments). When they pull it off it makes for some of the most catchy, fun songs of the year.

image 884 from bradism.com


4. iSquare
Hey Sexy Lady (Skrillex Remix)

As mentioned above, electro inclined Skrillex doesn't mind dabbling in some dark beats. His work on iSquare's Hey Sexy Lady was something else though, converting a RnB piece of dancefloor fluff into a Jack Torrance-esque moment of psychopathy. The blending of saccharine vocals and the blindsiding, hulking electro beat is phenomenal.


image 885 from bradism.com


3. The Tallest Man On Earth
The Dreamer

The Tallest Man on Earth gets featured twice this year because he put out two outstanding releases in the one year. After several albums of masterful acoustic folk he picks up an electric guitar for the first time ever on The Dreamer, and the result is predictably beautiful.

image 886 from bradism.com


2. Hot Chip
I Feel Better

Hot Chip seem to have no problems coming up with killer singles. The loop of dramatic synth-strings, digitally enhanced vocals and steady percussion at just the right BPM make I Feel Better into an electropop time bomb. Its serious sounding chords and goofy lyrics are disarming enough to keep the listener baited until the final crescendo of synths, steel drum and endorphins.

image 887 from bradism.com


1. Far East Movement feat. Dev and The Cataracs
Like a G6

Pop music has been obsessed with fidelity for the last few years, carving out micro-genres based on how much rhyming cloaks a group's songs. With their bedroom recording roots, Far East Movement have floated along this competition with grace, a threesome of producers skilled at conscripting the sonic demons hiding in the margins of amateur recording. But there's also beauty to be found in the places where unfiltered sunlight finds gaps in the clouds, and the embrace of that contrast gave Far East Movement a valuable new weapon on the haunting Like a G6.

LOLZ, Not Really..

image 888 from bradism.com


1. Yeasayer
Madder Red

Half beautiful and half sad, this single from New York's Yeasayer blends a healthy batch of the digital '80s into their existing indie rock sound. Madder Red has a simple, haunting loop of keys and crooning, coupled with finely performed guitar work and - when you pay attention to it - some very suberb bass guitar. Smoother than smooth, this is a piece of pop bliss.

The Deal

I have learnt much about moving the last few days. Most of all my things are I think somewhere on a train in a shipping container. Movers came on Thursday and we will see them again next Friday. I am working from home tomorrow until our final inspection and then leaving Adelaide for a good while, up Prospect road. This weeks nights will be spent in Freeling, Wagga, Blue Mountains and then Sydney respectively.
I will resume working from Sydney on probably Friday. Vanessa stars work early February. Homer Simpson jokes are kind of funny but meltdown jokes are not funny.

an economic plan to survive this summers environmental crisis.

Buy shares in whatever companies sell kayaks.

Today's weather is from: Hay, NSW.


Like my words? Want to buy one of my books? I think you'll like this one:

If you met yourself from the future, what would you ask your future self?
What if they wont tell you anything?

Chase: A Tomorrow Technologies Novella. Available Now for Less than a dollar!


Unplain Plains

The drive to Sydney was quite eventful. Day 2 was the longest leg, from Freeling, north of Adelaide to Wagga Wagga. A total of 959 kilometres. I'd planned to be on the road at 6am, but a flat tyre discovered just before bed the night before meant we had to wait for the local garage to open and to be safe I decided to replace all four tyres with brand new ones. We were on the road by 9am.

After about an hour I heard a helicopter hovering over the car, and after a quick glimpse upward I realised that I had another deflated tyre and I pulled over to the shoulder of the Sturt Highway. After unloading my swollen boot of possessions I changed the tyre like the burgeoning professional I was becoming, put the limper on and drove at half the speed limit to Waikerie. There we found a tyre shop and a bored mechanic who helped us put the spare back in the boot for good.

About five hours behind schedule, we resumed our trip through the riverland and into NSW - the land of many many clouds. To the North, Brisbane was receiving flood warnings. I had the easier task of driving through brief but exciting downpours. Luckily, I had new tyres.

By dusk we had only just reached the Hay Plain, a sprawling, boring mass of land only made interesting by the 360 degree horizon with its variety of eccentric, contrasting cloud systems. It was quite beautiful, and I wished I could both drive and take photos. In the end I took a few during a break for a crappy pizza that we ate for dinner.

Night and steady rain fell around the same time, with me about 200km West of Wagga Wagga. Much of the rest of the trip was spent on half repaired roads that were washed out in last months floods. Eventually we reached the motel and I was able to take off my pants, open a beer and wash the grease from my fingers. I felt like a man, and after 14 hours of driving smelt even more like a man.

East of Euston

East of Euston



Highway

Highway



Hay Plain

Hay Plain



Wentworth Falls Lake, Blue Mountains

Wentworth Falls Lake, Blue Mountains

Differences between Adelaide and Sydney

I came up with these in Kamikaze Mode on WriteorDie.com, to try and simulate the lack of second thought that these first impressions have had.

It's greener.
Many more spiders.
Channel 10 Weather Guy sounds like the Cunningham's Warehouse guy who yells the temperatures at you at rapid pace.
No Cunningham's Warehouse.
No Monkeys in the morning.
Sydney Harbour Bridge
The rugby player physique seems popular.
Lots more clouds, and breezes.
The two lane highway starts about 400kms from the CBD, instead of one hundred.
There are different birds.
Cicadas, although I have found only one shell so far.
Extreme lack of Woolworths Plus petrol stations!
Didn't see any Coopers on sale at the bottle shop, but wasn't exactly looking for them either.
Whenever something is mentioned as being AEST I don't have to mentally subtract half an hour.
No aeroplanes flying over my house for the first time in three years.
I'm pretty sure everyone is secretly judging me for being from Adelaide, although that could be the schizophrenia slowly developing.
Amount of people carrying DSLRs around in town is quite large.
No Broadband.
Physio's cost more.
I saw a sign saying "Early Bird Parking, in before 9:30am - $35"
Don't feel as guilty when I watch Adelaide 36ers playing at home on One HD.
Way more roundabouts, although that could just be my suburb.
The Princes Highway is very busy, which obviously doesn't exist in Adelaide.
I can catch a train home from town at 1am. But not much later than that.
Nuclear Power.
Much easier to avoid AFL.
The gap in One Day Cricket innings is now filled with News, rather than being filled with Antiques Roadshow and the first 30 minutes of the second innings being replaced with news.
I think I recognise a lot of the News/Current Affair Presenters as up and coming stars of Australian Television who disappeared from Adelaide televisions some time ago.
Also there is some new channel called TVS.
Reception is very bad although that's probably because the aerial is split.
When there's a story about dodgy humans in the news you don't have to guess if it was North or South, you just assume it was in the West.
Everytime you search for directions on Google Maps you then have to re-search with "Avoid Tolls" clicked.

Much Needed Win

This morning I had my first shower for about a week. I'd tried hard to avoid having such a gap; this isn't a PSA about the dangers of working exclusively from home. It's just that seeing our shower only has two temperatures - cold and scalding - most of the bathing I've done since moving here has been standing clear of the shower head, dipping one body part at a time under a cascade of freezing water.
A week is a long time to tolerate such a fault, but it seems a lot of things haven't been working lately and the shower found itself on a long list of things that don't work, next to internet, beds, shoulders, dishwashers, aerials, removalists, tyres and an HDMI cable I ordered from eBay.

Much of my manliness is staked on my ability to maintain a smooth, trouble-free environment, and I've found it quite frustrating to not be able rectify a lot of these problems on my own. After breakfast today I turned to Google to see if there were any plumbing forums that would help identify the cause of plumbing problems in the same way that programming forums help me with programming errors. And there were a lot! And I, The Plumber Detective of Sunday deduced almost by myself that the most common cause of a mixer tap problem was two water sources of different pressures. And even though I had no idea where our hot and cold water come from, and though it was never recommended anywhere on the Internet, I decided to experiment with running the bathroom sink at full blast on hot at the same time as the shower was running to see if that fixed it. And it worked! The shower's water didn't go cold but it's temperature dropped considerably. I was ecstatic. Vanessa was less impressed, as she was in the shower at the time.

After a lovely shower I felt a little bit better about myself and my ability to solve problems, and when we went to the hardware store later to pick up a few things I was able to look the floor staff in the eye without issues. Then this afternoon we had a power outage and our safety switch went up and I traced that down to a faulty stove and fixed that problem pretty quick too. So things are on a roll now!

Customer Service


I went to the post office to collect a parcel, because the courier took it to the downstairs door instead of upstairs, then left the pickup slip in my letterbox.

After waiting in line at the post office I showed them the pickup notice and my Adelaide driver's license - as the slip said to bring Photo ID. The receptionist told me I couldn't receive the package because the address on my license did not match the parcel's delivery address. She said I needed a letter with my address on it.

I told her that even though the address was wrong, a plan to drive all the way to NSW in the hopes someone with my name would receive a package that I could intercept when they weren't home to receive it was farfetched, but she insisted. Luckily, I had received just yesterday a letter from my power company when I cancelled our Adelaide account that they sent to my NSW address. I went home, came back, waited in line again and then showed my SA License plus my NSW Addressed power bill.

The same receptionist looked at it, then wandered in the back and brought me my parcel. Once I had it safely in my arms I said to her "When I only had the slip you assumed I'd broken into the letterbox of my namesake to steal it. How do you know I didn't just go back to his house and take another piece of mail to complete my ID?"

After she spent 20 seconds trying to think of answer, I turned and left.

Ratatat!

I've just been to see Ratatat live. Sometimes right after I buy a ticket to a band - even one I've listened to almost 1,500 times (not including in the car, at the gym, behind work's scrobble-blocking firewall and, now, at Ratatat concerts) - I'm not sure if I'm going for the experience, or because I wouldn't be able to live with myself knowing that while they played only a few kilometres away I'd been sitting at home, browsing the internet, changing lightbulbs and watching the Friday night movie.

Fortunately, Ratatat were awesome and reminded me of why I like them so much. Playing live, their show is guitar heavy with the all the amps maxed out and the guitars taking centre stage, riffing and wailing parts of their songs I didn't even know you could play on guitar. Away from the studio they sounded like freed prisoners, unshackled to be as crunchy and loud as they wanted. Lead guitarist Mike Stroud's instrument takes on the characteristics of a spoilt, only child - drums and synthesizers obey all his demands and he never had an older brother named vocals to tell him to be quiet and keep to himself.

Beyond the actual music the show was a little weird. I had to kill two hours waiting for it to start, and after deleting all the crap that had appeared in my phone's SMS dictionary and ordering a scotch and coke, that started to drag on a little. For the first time since landing in Sydney I actually felt out of fashion; Manning Bar had many hipsters, with their trendy stubble, ironic clothing combinations and retro shoes. I also saw more young people smoking tonight than I have in the whole two weeks I've been here. I didn't see a single rugby player physique either. Then again, perhaps things will seem a little diverse when you come up from the Sutherland Shire - perhaps the whitest place in Australia. When we got here I assumed all the Australian flags on the cars were in readiness for Australia Day but it's almost February and they're still flying. Even the local curry shop is only just barely by foreigners (they're English). The only legitimate multicultural experience I've had here was with my doctor.

image 893 from bradism.com

Cool New Movies

It's hot and humid here in Engadine. Not as terribly tropical as in North Queensland, where every kangaroo that wasn't tied down, sport, probably ended up being hurled into a banana tree by tropical cyclone Yasi. But it's sticky and has been all week in our new home. So we decided to beat the heat and hide at the local mall in the air conditioned cinemas.

We saw The King's Speech which I was quite keen for after reading a few reviews. Unfortunately it seems my brain had a little hiccup and while I enjoyed the first ten minutes of the film I was quite anxious for when Colin Farell was going to appear on the screen and how his accent was going to fit in with all this. Once I realised Colin Firth was a different person I was able to relax and enjoy a well executed and acted film, the value of which really hit home when the first thing I saw leaving the theatre was a large poster for Owen Wilson's new movie.

As we returned to the car I grimaced in anticipation of hot night air. But by then it had cooled nicely, we had beat the heat Boston style.

Petition to rename it Spiderdine

I went for a walk this morning and even though it's still summer there was a mist of dew covering the ground and in the trees.

Then it turned out the dew in the trees was mostly spiderwebs.

More morning sunlight.

More morning sunlight.



Early Summer Morning in Engadine, NSW.

Early Summer Morning in Engadine, NSW.



Normal sized spider included for scale.

Normal sized spider included for scale.

A Preview of the Previewer

For a while now, basically since I started posting photos instead of writing words, I've been aware that the megabyte content of my journal is becoming inappropriate. On a good day, such as right this second, it's almost three megabytes and seeing that the majority of you are probably refreshing constantly that is a major drain on your bandwidth (assuming you've disabled the automatic caching in your browser just in case I make a subtle adjustment to one of the images in an old entry.) It certainly makes it more of a drag to view on your phone anyway, which is what I had to resort to in order to produce some heroicly long entries before my internet got reconnected in NSW.

So for a little bit less than a while now I've been wanting to implement some sort of image previewer plug-in that would load images in an entry individually and provide thumbnails for browsing. And finally I did bother to write this, me telling people that I was a programmer motivating me to actually program. And after some crucial breakthroughs while coding on Saturday night - a time period where so many of this website's awesome features have been developed - and then several hours of bug fixing later, I have created... The Previewer!

Soon this will be showing up in entries showing all new pictures, instead of the random ones I am currently using to test it. Until then I thought I would post about it in case anybody has feedback to offer about its looks and function. And also because I'm so queer with pride that I made something in javascript with Ajax that actually works pretty well.

A Bit

I have been living in NSW for a month and a bit now. I don't feel that different, not that I was expecting I would, but changes are occurring: The Princes Highway, my first impression of it was akin to a wild river; an unrelenting flow of traffic that would keep me pinned in Engadine. That turned out to be a little melodramatic. It's so quickly become my new Shepherds Hill Road.

The first of many replacements. All my hairs have been cut by Sydney scissors. Royal National Park has become my new national park. My Woolworth's experience is essentially identical, as they tend to be uniform across all of Australia except for the one I went into at Miranda briefly which was frozen in time somewhere around 2003. They still had the old style cardboard signs above each aisle indicating the contents. One included "Videotapes".

In this new environment I've successfully increased my creative outputs. I written more prose, read through three novels in the past couple of weeks and the previewer seems to be a feature vacuum that I can't stop feeding. I even sewed a little. I haven't taken many photos but that will change as I become more familiar with my environment. I have taken my camera into the bush a few times but I am just about sick of the colour green.

Nothing will make you appreciate your couch more than not sitting on a couch for eight weeks.

Except maybe not sitting on a couch for sixteen weeks..

Adventures

We made a Sudoku pizza. It was delicious to solve.

We made a Sudoku pizza. It was delicious to solve.



This lizard wasn't very good at being a lizard. I used my telephoto to shoot him hanging by the neighbour's pool in the rain.

This lizard wasn't very good at being a lizard. I used my telephoto to shoot him hanging by the neighbour's pool in the rain.



This is pretty much what our Vegetables Garden looked like this morning, except with lots of skewers in it. The night before it boasted a healthyish crop of lettuces, parsleys, chillies and basil. It turns out possums like to eat all of those things except basil.<br />
I already had put in a few skewers around the chilli, because I busted a Kookaburra getting into the fruits one day. He wasn't laughing much after that. The possum would have been pleased with himself though, he completely destroyed everything.

This is pretty much what our Vegetables Garden looked like this morning, except with lots of skewers in it. The night before it boasted a healthyish crop of lettuces, parsleys, chillies and basil. It turns out possums like to eat all of those things except basil.
I already had put in a few skewers around the chilli, because I busted a Kookaburra getting into the fruits one day. He wasn't laughing much after that. The possum would have been pleased with himself though, he completely destroyed everything.



A menacing shot of the spikes. Before I went with skewers I searched the internet for a few possum repellent ideas in gardening forums. They all recommended spraying combinations of various spices and petrol around the garden and stressed humane methods. This made me hesitant to use spikes, but then I remembered all the plants in the world that have spikes and what does parsley have? Nothing. Welcome to the future, Parsley.

A menacing shot of the spikes. Before I went with skewers I searched the internet for a few possum repellent ideas in gardening forums. They all recommended spraying combinations of various spices and petrol around the garden and stressed humane methods. This made me hesitant to use spikes, but then I remembered all the plants in the world that have spikes and what does parsley have? Nothing. Welcome to the future, Parsley.



I also bought a new office desk last week, and despite gritting my teeth through a relatively simple flat pack shelf unit a week earlier, I was brazen enough to buy a 0 flat pack desk.<br />
It took me about six hours to put together. Me and flatpack furniture go together like Lindsay Lohan and driving - complete confidence right up to actually getting started, and then everything starts to go wrong. Nonetheless I was pretty happy when I'd finished malleting the thing together, a sentiment the lady downstairs probably shared.

I also bought a new office desk last week, and despite gritting my teeth through a relatively simple flat pack shelf unit a week earlier, I was brazen enough to buy a 0 flat pack desk.
It took me about six hours to put together. Me and flatpack furniture go together like Lindsay Lohan and driving - complete confidence right up to actually getting started, and then everything starts to go wrong. Nonetheless I was pretty happy when I'd finished malleting the thing together, a sentiment the lady downstairs probably shared.

A Review of the Preview of the Previewer

A few weeks ago I journalled about The Previewer, a little jquery/ajax plugin I was writing for displaying images on my current and any future websites.

It's safe to say I have gone down the rabbit hole on this one. Every time I think I've almost finished it I discover with glee other possible functionality or enhancements. I keep delving into new and foreign areas of web development that in the past I've only gazed at wistfully out the window of the bus on the information super highway. Earlier this year I worked with varying enthusiasm on a different and entirely new web application that my attention may soon return to. However, there's something about programming when its key functionality is to propagate my ego that really lights my coding fire. Not to mention just how excited I am about other things. Like, I have started writing Ajax services, discovered just how friggin pro it is to use icons instead of links/buttons, started writing dynamic (and secured) CSS and Javascript in PHP and I'm now starting to wield jQuery around like an eight year old with a chainsaw. I even spent the last two days trying to understand the Facebook Javascript API to add a feature I think will probably never even be used! But, if someone asks me later 'can you write something that implements the Facebook SDK?' I can smile and say 'I sure can!' (Have they changed it in the last week?)

So the previewer grows more awesome by the day. Oh, and I also created a development environment and everything for it on my local PC, so it's no longer online. Until it's ready, you'll just have to share in the excitement of me learning lots of new technical skills. Speaking of which, I also learnt today that you can cook bacon in a sandwich press.

I discovered a website called The Daily Shoot which hands out one sentence photo missions every morning. I managed to complete each assignment this week - with varying levels of effort - and I'm glad I did. Even when I only spent two minutes trying to take a shot I learnt a few things and it was great practice.

Make a photograph of something that is glowing today. Use any meaning of the word you like.

Make a photograph of something that is glowing today. Use any meaning of the word you like.



Make a photograph illustrating a sound that catches your ear today.</p>
<p>Did I leave the player blurry to focus on the earphone? Let's say yes!

Make a photograph illustrating a sound that catches your ear today.

Did I leave the player blurry to focus on the earphone? Let's say yes!



Find a repeating pattern today and make a photograph of it.

Find a repeating pattern today and make a photograph of it.



For the next photo I had to unpack my Lego. If Lego was contraband this is the kind of photos the police would put on their website after seizing some smuggles.

For the next photo I had to unpack my Lego. If Lego was contraband this is the kind of photos the police would put on their website after seizing some smuggles.



What kind of other art do you appreciate? Make a photograph that celebrates it today.</p>
<p>I went a little bit meta on this one.

What kind of other art do you appreciate? Make a photograph that celebrates it today.

I went a little bit meta on this one.



Make a photograph that features a shadow as your subject today.</p>
<p>Did I leave the bottle blurry to focus on the shadow? Actually, yes I did!

Make a photograph that features a shadow as your subject today.

Did I leave the bottle blurry to focus on the shadow? Actually, yes I did!



Make a photograph of something that you find amusing today.</p>
<p>After spending half of Saturday sorting through Lego this seemed amusing.

Make a photograph of something that you find amusing today.

After spending half of Saturday sorting through Lego this seemed amusing.



Make a low contrast photo today. Concentrate on other cues - such as line and texture - to create your photograph.</p>
<p>So it turns out when you bend banana trees in half the trunk does the same thing as when you bend a banana in half.

Make a low contrast photo today. Concentrate on other cues - such as line and texture - to create your photograph.

So it turns out when you bend banana trees in half the trunk does the same thing as when you bend a banana in half.



Also here's a cicada shell in case you need proof I'm actually in NSW.

Also here's a cicada shell in case you need proof I'm actually in NSW.

Putting My Plastic in Plastic

Occasionally whilst partaking in the strangely addictive task that is sorting Lego I will look into a storage container and my brain releases some serotonin. Because, everything that is the same shape is in the same hole.
Today after my new lens arrived, plus with the tales of my Lego sorting epic starting to spread across the internet, what else was I to do but take some photos of the process?

In unrelated news, you may have noticed my hosting is becoming increasingly flaky. Do not fear! Everything is now being backed up every 24 hours as I prepare to migrate to a hopefully better server.

Sorting HQ, the couch.

Sorting HQ, the couch.



image 917 from bradism.com


Round pieces.

Round pieces.



image 919 from bradism.com


Aerial view.

Aerial view.



Minifig piles.

Minifig piles.

Reject Shop Hacker

I love my Sennheiser HD515 Headphones. I bought them almost five fricking years ago when I first started working for a certain company (which they've actually gone on to outlast). I needed headphones that would permit me to hear people yelling into my cubicle at me while I cranked Arctic Monkeys, Scratch Perverts or some Phoenix and pounded out dummy UI functions in PowerScript. (As an aside, Power Builder is a skill I have that I deliberately omit from my CV to prevent ever being asked to work in it again.) I bought them for $160 (I bartered the people at Video World on Rundle Street down $10) and immediately plugged them into my iRiver H340. This entry is going down some serious nostalgic tangents.

About 1800 days later my HD515s have arguably been my greatest purchase ever. I am talking technically, on a scale of money paid to hours used. I would conservatively estimate I average 6 hours a day with them on my head. Time added up from eight hour work days, the walk or train commute to and from the office, the hours after work when I'm programming or editing photos or searching the internet for humourous image macros. Not to mention all those plane flights, long walks, dishes washings and DJ sessions.

Here is a photo of me DJing at the now defunct Fad Bar one Summer night in 2006, the oldest photo of my headphones I can find. I'm about to drop a mashup of Britney Spear's Toxic with Mike Jones' Still Tippin'. Completely out of sync. How many things have changed since this day? So many things. But the headphones and the fashion have stayed the same.

Here is a photo of me DJing at the now defunct Fad Bar one Summer night in 2006, the oldest photo of my headphones I can find. I'm about to drop a mashup of Britney Spear's Toxic with Mike Jones' Still Tippin'. Completely out of sync. How many things have changed since this day? So many things. But the headphones and the fashion have stayed the same.



Based on my estimate of 10,800 hours of listen time with these headphones, that equates to a cost of less than two cents per hour of listening time. Compare that to, say our couch, which to this point has cost me approximately $60 per hour of use. Three thousand percent more cash per hour of use.

I have considered these kind of statistics in the past and have thought of writing a whole entry about them. Only effort stopped me. However, I bring it up today because I want to foreshadow the amount of distress I felt earlier this week when I discovered my Sennheiser's were dying. The audio was fine, outputting at its normal high quality and crispness. It was after using them that I discovered the problem, removing them from my head and noticing a tiny explosion of black powder coming from around the speakers. Upon further analysis (whacking it on the table a few times and seeing more powder emerge) I realised what had happened: after 10,000 hours of use the fabric covering the ear padding had started to tear and the crumbs of what had been the inner-padding before five years of daylight, bag rides, ear sweat and low frequencies was now piling up on my desk. It wasn't just a little bit of powder, the entire ring of padding had deteriorated.

I couldn't use my headphones without the unpadded plastic digging into my upper ear lobes and having a rim of black powder on the sides of my head after each listen. (This scenario reminded me of year 10 when the only pair of earphones I'd been able to afford for my Walkman had fluoro yellow earbuds, and I felt so self conscious about the bright colour that I'd painted them black with permanent marker. A choice I regretted while wiping black dye from my ears with a tissue every morning in homegroup for the next two weeks.) So, I set about coming up with my own solution. I figured, I already owned a sewing kit which I have used to sew on one button (quite poorly) already so essentially my options were unlimited. And while browsing the local Reject Shop for some padding or stuffing and finding nothing I was struck by genius. Sponges! I bought a three pack of thick Oates sponges for $2.

With my craft knife (and regular knife once struck by impatience) I immediately set to cutting out new rings of padding. After shaping the sponges I had to then completely cut open the original fabric and scrape/vacuum out the left over crumbs of the old padding. Once empty I fitted the new rings and after putting them on my head - drunk with giddiness - I was amazed that not only had I replaced the padding of my headphones for pocket change and saved myself the 0 I had already mentally assigned to buying new headphones, but they were actually really comfortable.

With my craft knife (and regular knife once struck by impatience) I immediately set to cutting out new rings of padding. After shaping the sponges I had to then completely cut open the original fabric and scrape/vacuum out the left over crumbs of the old padding. Once empty I fitted the new rings and after putting them on my head - drunk with giddiness - I was amazed that not only had I replaced the padding of my headphones for pocket change and saved myself the 0 I had already mentally assigned to buying new headphones, but they were actually really comfortable.



Not just comfortable, but also anti-bacterial! And the best part - apart from having my headphones back - is that I essentially also got a free sponge.

image 924 from bradism.com


Feel free to share stories of your technically greatest purchase ever.

The Weekly Shoot

Photos taken for the Daily Shoot assignments over the last week.

Make a photograph of a smile today.

Make a photograph of a smile today.



Today's theme is red. Red hot? Red paint? Or something else? You decide.</p>
<p>This week I received two awesome photographic toys in the mail. One was the DCR 150 macro filter and the other was my new Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 lens. The latter was the expensive toy, and I celebrated owning it by taking a photo of a) the box it came in, b) some tomatoes.

Today's theme is red. Red hot? Red paint? Or something else? You decide.

This week I received two awesome photographic toys in the mail. One was the DCR 150 macro filter and the other was my new Tamron 17-50mm 2.8 lens. The latter was the expensive toy, and I celebrated owning it by taking a photo of a) the box it came in, b) some tomatoes.



The red theme was also a good prompt to give me the idea to buy red flowers for Vanessa.

The red theme was also a good prompt to give me the idea to buy red flowers for Vanessa.



Make a feeling that conveys a sense of being outdoors today.</p>
<p>It was a good excuse for a walk, which reminded me that almost every kilometre around Engadine looks the same.

Make a feeling that conveys a sense of being outdoors today.

It was a good excuse for a walk, which reminded me that almost every kilometre around Engadine looks the same.



The sky wasn't very accommodating for a landscape on the day of this challenge, so here's a Lego alternative.

The sky wasn't very accommodating for a landscape on the day of this challenge, so here's a Lego alternative.



Make a photograph that features water in one way or another today.</p>
<p>I made this with my new macro filter and my newly sorted Lego after I couldn't think of anything water related that I wanted to take a photo of. I started to fear that all my assignments might start featuring Lego.

Make a photograph that features water in one way or another today.

I made this with my new macro filter and my newly sorted Lego after I couldn't think of anything water related that I wanted to take a photo of. I started to fear that all my assignments might start featuring Lego.



Right after thinking that it started pouring and I could shoot photos of soggy birds instead. Thanks, nature.

Right after thinking that it started pouring and I could shoot photos of soggy birds instead. Thanks, nature.



Make a photograph of a beautiful, simple shape today. Utilize lighting and focus to make it sing.</p>
<p>Slightly weird request, but sure, I'll play along..

Make a photograph of a beautiful, simple shape today. Utilize lighting and focus to make it sing.

Slightly weird request, but sure, I'll play along..



Make a photograph that illustrates randomness in some way today.

Make a photograph that illustrates randomness in some way today.



Make a photograph that illustrates a role of technology in your life.</p>
<p>I racked my brain for an idea for this photo, seeing that the vague definition of technology is so omnipresent.</p>
<p>Before you decide to judge me on my eventual choice of photo I want you to consider the technical expertise required to get the focus and lighting right for this shot, especially considering I had to balance the camera and flash unit well above my head. It's also black and white to make it more authentically artistic.

Make a photograph that illustrates a role of technology in your life.

I racked my brain for an idea for this photo, seeing that the vague definition of technology is so omnipresent.

Before you decide to judge me on my eventual choice of photo I want you to consider the technical expertise required to get the focus and lighting right for this shot, especially considering I had to balance the camera and flash unit well above my head. It's also black and white to make it more authentically artistic.

Another Weekly Shoot

Because writing is hard..

I've been pretty active the last week and neglected my daily shoot challenges a little. I had to take some liberties with the already open assignments (and also chronology). Nevertheless here are some pictures.

Make a photo of two complementary objects arranged in a pleasing composition, one large and one small.</p>
<p>I composed planes, yeah!

Make a photo of two complementary objects arranged in a pleasing composition, one large and one small.

I composed planes, yeah!



Make a photograph today that illustrates the idea of freshness to you.</p>
<p>Baby capsicum.

Make a photograph today that illustrates the idea of freshness to you.

Baby capsicum.



Today's color is green. Make a photograph dominated by green today.</p>
<p>*whistles innocently*

Today's color is green. Make a photograph dominated by green today.

*whistles innocently*



Make a photograph outdoors without an obvious horizon line.

Make a photograph outdoors without an obvious horizon line.



Continue Reading Another Weekly Shoot...

Timeless

I had some time in Sydney yesterday and I decided to visit the Museum of Contemporary Art. I had expectations and I was not disappointed. Basically every cliché there could be was represented.

There were:

  • drawings of squares;
  • a video of a goat standing in a small room. The video looped between footage of the goat facing different ways;
  • Normal looking art with emotive words drawn on the top and penises scribbled on the people in them;
  • A video of very little content that makes the noise that videos make before the footage starts, but the footage never comes!
  • A fire escape diagram.

    You are not allowed to take photos in the gallery. I knew this, but I was carrying my camera bag with me, camera safely inside, because you are allowed to take photos in the streets around it and the like. However, seeing that camera bag makers seem naive to the concept of personal safety and emblazon the brand and make of your camera on your bag it was obvious I was carrying one. And as I stood in front of a loaf of bread that someone had sewn together with half a squirrel a staff member came up to me and said "No photos." "Right", I said. I don't think I could really capture this properly anyway.

    There was also some awesome stuff. Someone had indiscriminately picked some New York paper from the 60s and recreated every page by hand, I couldn't tell the difference between the copy and the real one. Someone else had taken a mould of broken drawing board and then reproduced it in plastic with fake plastic pins sticking out. It also looked real. And someone put slices of wood inside bread bags and the wood looked like bread. I hadn't actually realised it until I reflected upon it here, but I'm thinking contemporary art is just about inefficiently recreating something that already exists. Oh, also the bread guy made a sculpture of a campfire out of wood. The flames were wood chips. That was really good, I thought to myself "If I could afford it I would buy that thing and put it on display in a mansion I owned." I also remember feeling pleased that my Lego model of an art gallery the other week had been pretty accurate.

    There wasn't as much to see as I hoped at the Museum of Contemporary Art. There are only two floors and one floor was taken up with a photography exhibit. I knew it was on, but I didn't go in because it cost $15 and there was a mad line for tickets filled with mainly the elderly. I figured Google could get me to the images if I really wanted to. Also outside the entrance there was a tour group or art class or something receiving a full pep talk about their pending visit to the exhibition and how they should take a moment to premeditate before their artistic orgy, followed by hushed murmurs of agreement. I decided to pass.

    After my visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art I was filled with artistic vigour, and I tried to take some post modern photos of something. It was overcast to the point where even the grass looked grey, and I don't think my photos from that day will ever end up in a gallery. Also, I am starting to feel that certain landmarks in Sydney (*cough*, Harbour Bridge *cough* Opera House *cough*) are like bothersome photo-bombers who just have to be in every photo of Sydney you take:

    "Oh, that looks nice," I think. "I'll take a photo of.. oh fuck off Centrepoint Tower do you have to be in the background of everything?"

    While washing the dishes tonight I thought about if I might ever think of myself as an artist and if I did, what kind of art would I make? I calculated that I might make the MCA cut if I made a working, egocentric blog out of Lego and took photos of it. I have a fear that making a content management system out of Lego might not actually be that inefficient, compared to writing it with traditional web technologies though, and that's how I'll remember that I spent most of today programming.

  • Weeks are Fast

    Have I seriously been doing the Daily Shoot assignments for a month now?

    <b>Make a photograph that incorporates a circle.</b></p>
<p>A circular vignette! And within it the letter O. As in O, I should have cleaned my keyboard before I took a photo of it with a magnifying lens and a speedlight and then posted it on the internet.

    <b>Make a photograph that incorporates a circle.</b>

    A circular vignette! And within it the letter O. As in O, I should have cleaned my keyboard before I took a photo of it with a magnifying lens and a speedlight and then posted it on the internet.



    <b>What reminds you of home? Make a photograph of it today.</b>

    <b>What reminds you of home? Make a photograph of it today.</b>



    <b>Illustrate the rule of thirds in a photograph today.</b></p>
<p>Two days into this week I was happy that I had remembered to take a photo. Then I realised that all the photos so far had been taken at my desk. So here's Circular Quay... DAMMIT this should have been the first photo.

    <b>Illustrate the rule of thirds in a photograph today.</b>

    Two days into this week I was happy that I had remembered to take a photo. Then I realised that all the photos so far had been taken at my desk. So here's Circular Quay... DAMMIT this should have been the first photo.



    <b>Make a photograph today that uses layers as a compositional tool.</b></p>
<p>Petals are like layers.

    <b>Make a photograph today that uses layers as a compositional tool.</b>

    Petals are like layers.



    <b>Make a photograph featuring a path, road, or trail that leads the eye through the photograph.</b>

    <b>Make a photograph featuring a path, road, or trail that leads the eye through the photograph.</b>



    <b>Make a photograph of something in motion. Use blur to help convey the motion you are capturing.</b></p>
<p>This was a lot harder to photograph than you might think, and not for the reasons you're thinking.

    <b>Make a photograph of something in motion. Use blur to help convey the motion you are capturing.</b>

    This was a lot harder to photograph than you might think, and not for the reasons you're thinking.



    <b>Today, let's illustrate the emotion of being happy.</b></p>
<p>I almost lasted a week without sticking Lego in the light box.

    <b>Today, let's illustrate the emotion of being happy.</b>

    I almost lasted a week without sticking Lego in the light box.


    Breadism

    I can't recall what prompted it, but on Friday I was thinking about Baker's Delight's Twisted Delights. This made me search my journal for references to Twisted Delights and led to the discovery that they have been mentioned six times in the past. This ranks them the informal number one of all the Baker's Delight product mentioned in my journal (Choc Mud Scones came second). I can't remember where I was going with this, but I believe this paragraph so far has justified you reading so far. Everything else now can be considered bonus.

    Struck with the desire for a Twisted Delight at 3pm on a slow Friday in the home office I immediately decided to put on my runners and my bike shorts and run the several kilometres of hills between me and the nearest Baker's Delight.
    "This is what the old me would have done!" I thought, suffering from the echoes of reading too much about my own life from early 2005 - a time period where I ate many Twisted Delights apparently and also jogged a lot. I stood up to look for a bum bag to hold my cash while I ran and the sliding into grooves of several of my body's joints reminded me that the new me had jogged once this year and a Twisted Delight wasn't worth dying for. Seeing that on Monday I had to drop my car off for a service in town I would buy one on the walk back to the house, and then burn some of the 1307 calories in it on the return walk to my car after lunch.

    After arriving at the counter and asking for a Twisted Delight - noting with sadness that the six year absence of Jalapeno and Green Tomato Twisted Delight continued - I ordered a Spinach and Feta Twisted Delight. After I ordered the lady noted that I could get a large wholemeal loaf for only $2 extra. I greedily accepted! That was mistake number one. I barely lingered long enough for her to stamp my new loyalty card before I high tailed it out of there with a loaf under each arm.

    You see, not a lot of people know this - even the ones who read all my short stories from 2003 and may have noticed they all involved bread - but I had a problem. I used to be addicted to bread. A Breadaholic. I know that, when you look at me, you don't say:
    'That dude has a bread problem. He looks like he eats way too much bread.'
    And I don't, not anymore. But it's something I have to work hard on every single day. And sometimes it gets the better of me. Like yesterday. My Twisted Delight was for lunch. Why, when I arrived home at 9am, did I decide to bring it to the study with me instead of leave it in the kitchen? Did I just want it to sit next to me to be looked at while I began my days work? This was mistake number two. With great predictability - within hours of breakfast - I was pulling apart the cable tie and inhaling the sweet, freshly baked aroma of my lunch. Well, my morning tea. With no self control I began pulling apart chunks of bread Viking style and funneling them into my mouth. By 11am it was gone.

    After this I felt guilty. And full. Mainly both. For the next few hours I avoided eye contact with myself, I nervously fingered my AA Six Year Medallion which I for some reason bought off eBay for eight dollars a couple of years ago, then threw it into a desk drawer and slammed that shut. I did a little bit of work and replied to a few emails. 3pm came and I was both hungry and bloated. I elected to have a low carb meal and ate a tin of tuna.
    I rinsed it out and put it in the recycling bin.
    Time was spinning.
    I walked from room to room. The walls were closing in.

    The phone rang.

    It was the mechanic, my car was ready to pick up he said. He told me to come in anytime. I tied up my shoes, dug out my earphones and was about to leave.
    "It's a long walk" said the voice.
    'No.' I said. 'You're back. You can't be back.'
    "You need some energy for that walk, Brad." said the voice. "Eat some bread, Brad. Just a little. C'mon Brad. Just a little bit of Bread."
    I walked into the kitchen like there were chains on my feet. I stood in front of the bench. I looked down at mistake number four.
    Hot Cross Buns - Mocha - 8 pack.

    Fingers trembling I peeled open the bagging and tore a hot cross bun free. I microwaved it for 20 seconds. I was already so pathetic that I couldn't wait two minutes for the griller to heat up. The microwave chimed. I pulled out my bread. It was hot, chocolate melted onto my fingers. I ate it, it was good. It was so good. I walked down the hill like I was floating on a gentle breeze. Soon I was parking outside my house and heading straight back to the kitchen.

    I ate three hot cross buns in all that afternoon. I did not care that it was close to dinner time. I only stopped because I had to pick Vanessa up from work. She told me about her day. She told me she had a surprise for me as a reward for collecting her from work.
    She bought me fresh banana bread.
    We got home and she unwrapped it. It smelt so good, but my stomach moaned at the abuse. I had to eat it, I didn't want her to know that while she'd been away I'd been sitting in a dark room eating bread alone. I ate every crumb and the voice was happy, so happy. It was good. I don't remember the rest of the evening.

    I woke up this morning in a pool of sweat with crumbs coming out of every pore. I stumbled into the kitchen and found the pack of mocha hot cross buns and three were left. Summoning all my willpower I dragged the bag to the bathroom and flushed each one down the pipes. As the last one disappeared and a lone chocolate chip floated to the surface of the bowl I sat back, plonking myself on the cool tiles as I cried out with languid anguish. Then I stood up and started work. The worst was behind me, a relapse, but that's all it was. I didn't eat any bread the rest of the day. This evening I realised the chicken breast we had defrosting for dinner was losing its race against time and I went for a quick trip to the supermarket.

    My shopping list:
    - BBQ Chicken
    - Vegetables/Salad
    - NO BREAD

    I was driving back home in the twilight and for the first time today I heard the voice again.
    "Brad, you should have bought some more hot cross buns."
    'No, voice!' I said sternly. 'That will not be happening.'
    "Too late," it said. "It did happen."
    I looked down at the groceries, the mocha hot cross buns were on top, so as not to get squashed.
    'No!' I said. 'I vowed! No more bread! NO MORE BREAD!'
    "Relax." said the voice. "You can have your vows and have your bread."
    'No.' I cried, palms slapping the steering wheel in a fit. 'My vow is useless. "No Bread." I can't even say it any more.'
    "Lie," the voice urged. "Lie to yourself.
    '"No Bread."' I tried to say. 'No... You've made the words useless. Hollow.'
    "A Mochary," he whispered.

    With The Times

    Daylight Savings ended this weekend. For an activity appropriately related to catching up on skipped time I watched Pulp Fiction for the first time ever. Then, in an even more delicious twist I finally got around to playing Portal and I finished the entire thing inside the hour that doesn't exist.


    OK that's not entirely true, I didn't finish it and after the hour was restarted I was stuck in the second to last level and I gave up for the night. Plus it wasn't in the actual official hour that doesn't exist, but I thought it was a cool story.

    I also removed the code that lets me put a picture of Timmy from Passions at the top of an entry.

    I think now we're up to date.

    The Fastest Loading Weekly Shoot Ever

    <b>The horizon can be a strong composition element. Make a photograph that emphasizes the horizon today.</b>

    <b>The horizon can be a strong composition element. Make a photograph that emphasizes the horizon today.</b>



    <b>Make a black and white photograph and go monochrome today.</b></p>
<p>A bit cliché. But, count the crosses. Man I am good at photography when given enough time afterwards to come up with hidden meanings for the snapshot.</p>
<p>(Not pictured - Mocha Hot Cross Bun)

    <b>Make a black and white photograph and go monochrome today.</b>

    A bit cliché. But, count the crosses. Man I am good at photography when given enough time afterwards to come up with hidden meanings for the snapshot.

    (Not pictured - Mocha Hot Cross Bun)



    <b>Make a photograph that illustrates being inside today.</b></p>
<p>I was so happy that I'd avoided taking photos at my desk for the first assignments this week and ventured outside, unlike usual. Then it sprang this on me, but I twisted it. And that's how I learned that we have lightbulbs of different temperatures.

    <b>Make a photograph that illustrates being inside today.</b>

    I was so happy that I'd avoided taking photos at my desk for the first assignments this week and ventured outside, unlike usual. Then it sprang this on me, but I twisted it. And that's how I learned that we have lightbulbs of different temperatures.



    <b>Make a photograph that features metal or a metallic surface today.</b></p>
<p>This photo represents how I feel a lot since moving to NSW. Cars everywhere... all looking at me. Then, today when I discovered it costs 00 to register a bog-standard Commodore for a year I developed a tender fascination for the amount of cars that people can somehow apparently afford.</p>
<p>'Oh, our public transport is so shit' everyone says. They don't know that the Adelaide has one station for the entire city.

    <b>Make a photograph that features metal or a metallic surface today.</b>

    This photo represents how I feel a lot since moving to NSW. Cars everywhere... all looking at me. Then, today when I discovered it costs 00 to register a bog-standard Commodore for a year I developed a tender fascination for the amount of cars that people can somehow apparently afford.

    'Oh, our public transport is so shit' everyone says. They don't know that the Adelaide has one station for the entire city.



    <b>Make a photograph dominated by the color orange today.</b></p>
<p>I did seriously consider buying, photographing and eating an orange for this assignment.

    <b>Make a photograph dominated by the color orange today.</b>

    I did seriously consider buying, photographing and eating an orange for this assignment.



    <b>Illustrate attraction in a photograph today.</b></p>
<p>It took me three Mocha Hot Cross Buns to get this shot right... and another two to copy it off my camera and come up with this caption...

    <b>Illustrate attraction in a photograph today.</b>

    It took me three Mocha Hot Cross Buns to get this shot right... and another two to copy it off my camera and come up with this caption...



    <b>Make a photograph of a symbol today.</b>

    <b>Make a photograph of a symbol today.</b>



    OK so that was not my strongest week of photography. In one of those \"truth is stranger than fiction\" moments I was actually thinking I couldn't be arsed posting photos this week. And then after a quick peek on my camera's memory card I realised I might be able to scrape in if I was liberal with assignment interpretations. </p>
<p>If you found any of those photos lacklustre, have this one to make up for it. If you find this one lacklustre then you should Google the National Geographic article that shows all the baby animals in the womb. They are cute!

    OK so that was not my strongest week of photography. In one of those \"truth is stranger than fiction\" moments I was actually thinking I couldn't be arsed posting photos this week. And then after a quick peek on my camera's memory card I realised I might be able to scrape in if I was liberal with assignment interpretations.

    If you found any of those photos lacklustre, have this one to make up for it. If you find this one lacklustre then you should Google the National Geographic article that shows all the baby animals in the womb. They are cute!



    Binge

    For most of my adult life I've been against binging. If there's something in this world that I like, and that something comes compartmentalised, I will try and drag my enjoyment out of it for as long as possible. Even when I eat sandwiches I cut them into halves and force myself to wait ninety seconds between slices.

    As a kid I exhibited this behaviour a little too. I would occasionally imagine that if I had multiple children in the future I would tell them that they could have another snack or block of chocolate or bottle of drink only after each one of them had finished their first serve. This, I presumed, would mean that they would compete to take as long as possible to finish the last bite or drop of their dessert or drink purely to prevent their siblings from earning seconds early. Because, that was the kind of vindictive food logic I possessed growing up.

    With hindsight I realise that my strategy would fail tremendously and my children would have immediately colluded to gorge madly upon any foodstuffs to merely accelerate what they would believe to be an endless supply of food coming out of my wallet. It was realisation likes this which helped convinced me to not want children actually. Their insatiable want for food and tiny brains teaming up to force me to die of starvation because of my slow moving eating strategies.

    Anyway, the point of this episode entry is that much more recently I have realised life is too short to never binge. I have given in to my desires on occasion to consume and not stop consuming until I overdose and crash on whatever I'm forcing into my body. To be honest it has felt good. Not good as in the way I feel whenever I go to an all you can eat buffet which inevitably has chocolate mousse which I do not stop eating until my stomach throbs with each breath I take. (Mousse has always been an exception to my binging rule, I think because I never see mousse as being compartmentalised at all. When faced with it, it seems like a long, thick pipeline of limitless chocolate, fat and sugar that snakes towards my mouth angrily..) I'm getting side tracked again. This week I have binged and it has been liberating. In less than seven days I have watched enough episodes of Parks and Recreation to get me to season 3. Along with an almost 1:1 correlation between episodes watched and Mocha Hot Cross Buns microwaved and eaten.

    Parks and Recreation is good. When I first saw the pilot I dismissed it as just being an early Office rip off. But later, when I started to run out of TV to watch, I remembered that it was just like an early Office rip off!

    The Weekly Zoot

    After five weeks of daily shoot assignments I grew a little tired of seeing photos of things from around my house always showing up with the same walls as backgrounds. This week I saved up all my assignments and took a day trip to Taronga Zoo to take photos and try and satisfy each assignment's criteria. I wrote down the assignments to force myself to actually try and compose the requested components, rather than going through the photos afterwards hoping to join some dots.

    It was a beautiful Autumn day with no clouds. Not the perfect day for shooting but the perfect day for sightseeing. And if you have any complaints about me already resorting to a gimmick for my photography challenges you should understand I was very close to doing a week of daily shoot assignments featuring Mocha Hot Cross Buns.

    <b>Illustrate symmetry in a photograph today.</b>

    <b>Illustrate symmetry in a photograph today.</b>



    <b>Make a photograph from an unusual point of view.</b>

    <b>Make a photograph from an unusual point of view.</b>



    <b>Make a photograph from an unusual point of view 2.</b></p>
<p>This was more \"Animals who have unusual points of view.

    <b>Make a photograph from an unusual point of view 2.</b>

    This was more \"Animals who have unusual points of view.



    <b>Focus on an edge today and make a photograph.</b>

    <b>Focus on an edge today and make a photograph.</b>



    <b>Focus on an edge today and make a photograph 2.</b></p>
<p>Slightly more exotic.

    <b>Focus on an edge today and make a photograph 2.</b>

    Slightly more exotic.



    <b>Focus on an edge today and make a photograph 3.</b></p>
<p>There are heaps of edges here.

    <b>Focus on an edge today and make a photograph 3.</b>

    There are heaps of edges here.



    <b>Make a photograph of something shiny today.</b></p>
<p>This was inadvertently an illustration of symmetry but advertently a photo of something shiny.

    <b>Make a photograph of something shiny today.</b>

    This was inadvertently an illustration of symmetry but advertently a photo of something shiny.



    <b>Make a low contrast photograph today.</b></p>
<p>Komodo Dragon.

    <b>Make a low contrast photograph today.</b>

    Komodo Dragon.



    <b>Make a photograph that features a grid of some sort today</b></p>
<p>Each day a new assignment was posted and I would read it and think about what I might photograph at the zoo when the time finally came. By the time this assignment was posted I was seriously starting to think the universe wanted a Hot Cross Bun theme week.

    <b>Make a photograph that features a grid of some sort today</b>

    Each day a new assignment was posted and I would read it and think about what I might photograph at the zoo when the time finally came. By the time this assignment was posted I was seriously starting to think the universe wanted a Hot Cross Bun theme week.



    That elephant photo was pretty low in value so here's some baby elephants to make up for it.

    That elephant photo was pretty low in value so here's some baby elephants to make up for it.



    Ubbb

    Ubbb



    <b>Illustrate time in a photograph today.</b>

    <b>Illustrate time in a photograph today.</b>



    That was it for the assignments. Here's a few other photos.</p>
<p>Emo Gibbon.

    That was it for the assignments. Here's a few other photos.

    Emo Gibbon.



    Seal showing off.

    Seal showing off.



    Chirpy Gorilla

    Chirpy Gorilla



    And more baby elephants.

    And more baby elephants.



    The End.

    The End.



    Dream Journal

    This morning I woke from a dream. I was walking the streets of coro valley early in the morning, the first light of the day coming through the trees. I was going from house to house, walking up driveways to leave easter eggs on people's lawns. The eggs said "bradism.com" on them. Kevin Garnett was helping me. I think because he reminds me of dark chocolate almonds. Happy Easter.

    Building



    Buildings.

    Buildings.





    Building

    Building



    Doomsdale

    'Do you like anything about this job?' Dale asked.
    'Hmmmm.' I said. And for fifteen billable minutes I considered his question.

    'My favourite thing about this job is that my salary is based on contingency.'
    'Contingency?' asked Dale.
    'You know as well as I do that almost everything I do requires no specific skill. Sure, it does take some talent to handball the assigned tasks I get emailed to other team members the amount I do, but for the most part my job is to follow the client or the support ticket's precise instructions and give someone a ring when I'm done. A well designed Perl script could probably do what I do. Worse, possibly even a call centre drone in Mumbai!'
    Dale nodded.
    'However, the reason I'm still cashing a weekly pay-check more than what nurses and police officers and the school teachers who educate this country's children do is because there's a risk - however small - that someday, something will go wrong with the system and I will be the only employed person who can fix it. There's an extensive chain of managers starting with our boss that you can trace all the way to corporate headquarters, and not one of them would even know how to log on to the remote server when our client calls to report their application is displaying an error. So, instead of paying me based on some tangible target they pay me to sit around waiting for that error. And when it happens I will fix it and explain in readable English to management on both sides why it occurred and reassure them it probably won't happen again.'
    'That's your favourite thing?' asked Dale.
    'It's the good thing. Before I worked here - when I was studying - I used to work at Subway in the city. Did you know that every employee at Subway has a documented "sandwich rate"? I had a rating of 1.2, meaning that in an hour I could make seventy-two sandwiches. I was paid just over eleven dollars an hour. Do you know what that means?'
    'No.' Dale's chair was undisguisably rotated, his feet pointing into my cubicle.
    'It means every time I spent a dollar I would know I made six and a half sandwiches to earn that dollar; more than that, really, taking into consideration tax, opportunity cost and every other factor, none of which improve the statistic. Whenever I bought a beer I would think that I had constructed forty sandwiches to earn it. When I bought a condom from the vending machine in the toilets I couldn't avoid thinking I'd made thirteen sandwiches in exchange. I had to make five thousand, one-hundred and fifty-five sandwiches to register my self-destructing Ford Focus for twelve months, and another four hundred and twenty-five sandwiches every time I filled it with petrol. Every time I bought a sandwich... well, it was very cheap because back then Subway staff could get any footlong sandwich for the price of a six inch salad sub. Other than that though every dollar I spent would conjure a parade of sandwiches through my mind.'
    'Wow,' said Dale. 'Sounds tough..'
    'It completely depressed me.' I said. 'I quit after four days. I am much happier with this current arrangement.'
    'OK, but, how do they know?' asked Dale. 'What proof is there that you will be able to fix a problem with the system when it goes down?'
    'I do actually have a degree in Computer Science, Dale. You know, a recognised qualification that you gained by demonstrating how to fix problems when systems go down? And I have ten years' experience in this industry. Don't you at least have a degree?'
    'I'm definitely qualified enough to confidently state that I don't really understand the system' said Dale.
    'Ah, well...' I pondered. 'In that case the plan is simple: book a day of leave every week and keep taking time off until the system has a major outage on a day that you're away. After that Attribution Theory will tell every manager and service delivery administrator that your presence equals a running system.'
    'That works?' asked Dale.
    'It should do. It did ten years ago.'

    Programming

    I did a lot of programming today. Who would have thought that slowly reading aloud to myself a 500 page book called PHP Objects, Patterns and Practice written by someone much smarter than me would have helped me finally get a grasp of some of the more intricate conundrums of writing multi-tier web applications. The current project I'm working on for my portfolio has four tiers! FOUR TIERS! To put that in perspective, Bradism has only one tier, if that. It's almost more like a mezzanine; a six year old testament to taking your "Hello World" script and just running with it.

    The main drawback about learning and writing code for a four tier web application is that you can do a lot of programming in a day and have very little on the interface to show for it. Indeed, for most of today I have been adding and changing code and then refreshing localhost hoping not to see it change! And everytime it doesn't I feel a little more excited. It's a giddy rush that fixing some of the outstanding bugs in the new version of this site cannot replicate even if you added a replication package to the data tier of my life.

    OK, so obviously that wasn't very thrilling, so here's a photo I took of a tiger drinking some milk:

    In this photo I am the Tiger and PHP Objects and Patterns is the milk carton and the bored looking zoo keeper is  possibly you.

    In this photo I am the Tiger and PHP Objects and Patterns is the milk carton and the bored looking zoo keeper is possibly you.

    Brad's Wintry Journal 9

    ANZAC Day is long gone and I have now been unwittingly shoved into the third of the year in which I wear socks to bed. To make things worse, this is the first winter I'm ever going to spend in a non-brick house. This year my walls are made of something unrecognisable: plywood perhaps, or possibly the same stuff the walls of the fridge are made of. On top of all that Sydney has been hit by an early cold snap with winds that - according to Weatherzone - are coming straight from Antarctica! That website also reckoned my nearest weather station, Holsworthy, recorded below zero this past Wednesday. A day that shall henceforth be known as 'Antarctica Day'. I tried going for a walk at lunch that morning to buy some food from Woolworths and it basically ended up like 8 Below.

    While I have been handling the cold in traditional ways: heaters, hot drinks, whining about it to whoever will listen - such an extreme jolt of coldness has caught me unprepared and I've been forced to also discover some non-traditional methods of keeping warm. And now I'm now going to post them here with a homage to Men's Health articles with weak puns for sub-headings.

    Non-Traditional Ways to Keep Warm
    The Extremities
    I don't yet have any recommendations for making those pants-down visits to the bathroom more appealing in the chilly months. However, when it comes to washing your hands afterwards modern science now provides a way to prevent the biting cold that infests your fingers when you have wet hands on a winter's day. Instead of drenching your fingers in icy water - or standing around waiting for the inefficient hot water system to warm it up - simply use hand sanitizer and rub in until dry. This method kills germs without making it challenging to use your keyboard for the next ten minutes.

    Keep Moving
    Sometimes the first reflex on a frosty day is to drape as many layers of clothing and covers over your body and limit movement to anything that doesn't require your hands or feet to emerge from the containment of a blanket. This is actually counter-intuitive, as it is moving around that boosts circulation of blood throughout the body. Depending on your level of fitness simply performing a set of bodyweight squats or running up and down a set of steps will provide a burst of warmth. Performing any type of exercise while insulating your feet with slippers will also increase the duration of heat that the exercise provides. And if you go for a really long run you can usually get away with wearing a t-shirt for an hour afterwards.

    Central Heating
    The human body seems to have the subconscious knowledge that eating large, hot meals is a good idea on cold days. Before giving in to this instinct it's important to remember that this is an idea being sold by the mesencephalon, the same portion of the brain that recommends consuming extra calories that can be stored for energy as fat in case of famine. The solution to this dilemma is simple: Dieters sometimes reduce their appetite at meal times by drinking several glasses of water before eating, making themselves feel fuller. This technique can be extended. By drinking one to two litres of hot water you can fill your belly with radiating warmth for no calorie cost. Smaller volumes of water are less effective due to the rule of heat transfer, so I recommend heating a saucepan of water and drinking it shortly after it boils. Soup could work too, I guess.

    Use Your Head
    Science has shown that humans lose almost half their body-heat through the head... assuming they are wearing footwear, pants and a jacket at the time of measurement. Assuming you are wearing footwear, pants and a jacket you can still trap in even more body-heat by listening to music on headphones which cover your ears. Studies have also shown the louder you listen to music the warmer your ears will be. Although, if you want to avoid tinnitus you could just listen to quieter music on headphones that have been stitched into earmuffs.

    Along the same line, growing a beard will also keep you warmer. Even if you can't grow a beard a thin layer of stubble is also ok (it's ok for keeping you warm, and it's ok just in general.) Most snow dwelling civilizations grew beards: the Norse, Scots... It's like a sweater for your face. Facial hair is also helpful to keep you looking manly in case you decide to apply more traditional heating methods that are harder to pass off in suburbs where Utes seem to outnumber people. Peppery stubble helps complement accessories like scarves and the purple men's hoody from a clearance section at DFO that is so warm and comfortable that you can't work out why it was discounted so much. Even if you're old and your hair has gone grey, a sleek, white coat will keep you warm and can also camouflage you against the snow to help protect you from predatory birds like bald eagles and snowy owls.

    Key Point

    I've had quite a few keyrings over my life so far. There's usually been a queue and - during my high school years - there has been a rotation too. So it was a little strange a month ago to notice that I had no keyring. I think the last one to be on there was a Western Bulldogs one but I haven't seen that one since September. My keys now said nothing about my personality except that I drove an Australian car.
    Then Chow went to Europe and made it a competition to guess how many kilos he would gain while he was over there. I won, and yesterday in the mail I found this:

    image 991 from bradism.com

    Thanks Chow. Now the people at airport parking will have an insight into what makes me Brad.

    Autumn Mixtapes

    It must be Autumn because the fruit bowl looks like this.

    image 992 from bradism.com


    The season that it is did not become apparent to me until my trip last weekend to the Adelaide hills. An early morning train ride from Belair to Adelaide, overseen by golden sunlight, revealed to me both vibrantly painted trees and the realisation that there’s perhaps not a single train station on that train-line that didn’t embed some anchor into my youth.

    I did notice that summer was over before landing in Adelaide, but I’d just assumed it was winter.

    Arriving back home and reflecting on this experience reminded me that I hadn’t yet burned my Autumn Mixtape. An annual tradition for me since 2003 – the year Chow lent me one of those "cassette" plugin gizmos that let me play my discman through the tape deck of my VK Commodore – I’d actually compiled a library of songs for 2011’s CD a month or so ago but never got around to burning it. I finalised the tracklist this afternoon, burnt it, and then took two dozen photos of a bowl of apples. And seeing that the list of things I like to bang on about on the internet is essentially topped by "2. My thoughts on music" and "1. Myself" I am going to talk about my newest mixtape now:

    I am a man of many mixtapes which I use to celebrate many occasions, but Autumn has always stood out as the most significant. Perhaps because Autumn is the first full season of the calendar year, and the time of year when my enthusiasm for contemporary music is at its highest. So by April I am usually high on superiority with my knowledge of the year’s early leaks and coming release dates and holding the hand of that year’s musical royalty. It is also that season of the year when summer-fun experiences are fresh, but the gloom of winter prevails. The song choices this leads to are usually stirring and melodramatic.

    My Autumn mixtapes have varied in their quality, the best probably being 2007’s "New Life" mixtape which I posted on DJ Bradism’s MySpace at the time. Or the 2003 effort which had the advantage of being the first and therefore access to my entire mp3 library at the time (as well as being influenced by Woolworths radio). 2011 is probably middle of the road, but it will remind me forever of things like The Dallas Maverick’s Playoff Run, Half Life 2, Seth Rogen, Living in Sydney, buying lots of pedestal fans, watching Pulp Fiction for the first time, and, of course, all the major things in my life that aren’t represented by specific songs but that will flash into my head in vivid panoramic visions when I listen to this CD a year or more from now.

    Did I mention I spent the last week with previous Autumn mixtape CDs in my car stereo?

    The 2011 tracklist is also included here:


    1. The Rural Alberta Advantage - Tornado '87

    2. Tapes 'n Tapes - Freak Out

    3. The Rolling Stones - Mothers Little Helper

    4. Ella Riot - Clubbin

    5. D.I.M. - Is You (Le Castle Vania Remix)

    6. Architecture In Helsinki - Escapee

    7. Cut Copy - Blink And You'll Miss A Revolution

    8. Kanye West - POWER

    9. Lil Wayne feat. Cory Gunz - 6'7"

    10. Chase & Status feat. Tinie Tempah - Hitz

    11. Beastie Boys - Make Some Noise

    12. Javelin - Tryouts (Brenton Duvall Remix feat Childish Gambino)

    13. Zeds Dead feat. Omar LinX - Rude Boy

    14. Buck 65, Sufjan Stevens and Serengeti - Blood, Pt 2

    15. Lykke Li - I Follow Rivers

    16. Arcade Fire - Rebellion (Lies)

    17. The National - Anyone's Ghost

    18. The Boxer Rebellion - No Harm

    19. Iron & Wine - Walking Far From Home

    Not So Daily Shoots

    I don't want to see my jQuery photo previewer fall off the front page despite my lack of photography lately. Especially seeing that the minified javascript library is included regardless at the top of every page. So here's a few random photos from the last half a dozen weeks.

    Muttaburrasaurus, Queensland's Dinosaur. Was quite possibly a bogan.

    Muttaburrasaurus, Queensland's Dinosaur. Was quite possibly a bogan.



    Attempt at something artistic, lookout over Wollongong, NSW

    Attempt at something artistic, lookout over Wollongong, NSW



    Yeah!! What's up, Steve McCurry?

    Yeah!! What's up, Steve McCurry?



    Want to know what could have made this a good photo?</p>
<p>A subject.

    Want to know what could have made this a good photo?

    A subject.



    Getting Fancy

    Getting Fancy



    Note to self: still need to improve skill at finding subjects.

    Note to self: still need to improve skill at finding subjects.



    This will be image id 1000. I hope this doesn't break anything.

    This will be image id 1000. I hope this doesn't break anything.



    My second square crop in as many days!

    My second square crop in as many days!



    Here I am practising both finding a subject for the foreground, as well as the general field of 'Wedding Photography' in case I ever want to charge lots of money to lose my Saturdays. I think I achieved both a foreground subject and a nice, storytelling exposure.</p>
<p>I must have been pleased with it because it was the only good photo I took for the whole day.

    Here I am practising both finding a subject for the foreground, as well as the general field of 'Wedding Photography' in case I ever want to charge lots of money to lose my Saturdays. I think I achieved both a foreground subject and a nice, storytelling exposure.

    I must have been pleased with it because it was the only good photo I took for the whole day.



    Two's Company

    My little brother went to live in the UK for a while. Last weekend we saw each other again for the first time since January. He gave me an unopened Lego Minifig package as a gift, which I opened and assembled on the dance floor.</p>
<p>It was a happy Mexican playing maracas.

    My little brother went to live in the UK for a while. Last weekend we saw each other again for the first time since January. He gave me an unopened Lego Minifig package as a gift, which I opened and assembled on the dance floor.

    It was a happy Mexican playing maracas.



    Unfortunately for my little brother and me, I already had a Mexican with maracas.

    Unfortunately for my little brother and me, I already had a Mexican with maracas.



    Luckily the new Mexican was also pretty handy at shredding on a guitar.</p>
<p>The End.

    Luckily the new Mexican was also pretty handy at shredding on a guitar.

    The End.


    Vanessa has gone away with her girls for the long weekend. What that means, is, this is probably not the last Lego phocumentary you'll be seeing this weekend.

    A Cry For Help

    image 1006 from bradism.com

    Vivid

    Last Thursday night we went to check out Vivid Sydney. I think my tripod talked me into it because it needed to visit its hometown for a census. While making the plans in my head to go there, I was determined that I would try and take photos that showed something different or original compared to the (literally) thousands of people who were plonking their tripods on the boardwalk and pointing them at whatever buildings had lights being shone on them. I succeeded in doing this, mainly because I only brought my gorillapod and I had to basically lay on my stomach to use that thing and still be able to look through the viewfinder.
    The packaging on the gorillapod is very misleading, there is not conveniently placed, shoulder height horizontal poles to wrap your gorillapod around everywhere you go!

    I am basically posting these photos here so that every time I revisit this entry in the future I will be re-enthused to go back into the city and take photos of buildings at night that aren't shit.

    Customs House.

    Customs House.



    image 1008 from bradism.com


    Circular Quay.

    Circular Quay.



    Different angle of Customs House.

    Different angle of Customs House.



    The Opera House. Still an attention whore!

    The Opera House. Still an attention whore!



    Red.

    Red.



    You Were Expecting Lego Photos?

    On Saturday morning I went to inspect a few unit/townhouses in Sutherland. I am considering working in the city some time soon and if we moved there it would double the amount of trains available as well as cut ten minutes off the journey each way. Unfortunately it seems like half a million other people have had the same idea and the demand for nice accomodation in Sutherland has followed traditional economic principles in regards to pricing.

    After a quick look a Google Maps I noticed that the suburb of Woronora Heights, which is adjacent to Sutherland but sheltered by bushland, rivers and cemetaries, might also be an alternative living location. It would be at least a one kilometre walk to the Sutherland station however it's isolation might mean that rental prices were cheaper.

    To investigate this I could have done many things: looked up rental prices in Woronora Heights on the internet, driven there, poked around on Google Earth. Instead of doing any of those things I decided to walk to Sutherland from Engadine via Woronora Heights, and in doing so became one of the many victims of "Google Maps does not show you are about to walk up a gigantic fucking hill."

    Now that I reflect on what the suburb is called I guess I should have know what was coming. Fortunately for you, dear reader, I brought my camera.

    Part of the walk along the ridge of the gorge to Woronora Heights, from Engadine. Steeper than it looks.

    Part of the walk along the ridge of the gorge to Woronora Heights, from Engadine. Steeper than it looks.



    A bulldozer along the way. It was like:  "Brad, take some photos of me here and if you like me maybe we can do some more photos on the Sunshine Coast!"

    A bulldozer along the way. It was like: "Brad, take some photos of me here and if you like me maybe we can do some more photos on the Sunshine Coast!"



    After a couple of kilometres I reached Woronora Heights. Seriously, I can't believe this suburb is actually closer to the CBD than Engadine.

    After a couple of kilometres I reached Woronora Heights. Seriously, I can't believe this suburb is actually closer to the CBD than Engadine.



    An example of a backstreet in Woronora Heights. This explains where all those four wheel drives, utes and boats that drive past my house every day are coming from.

    An example of a backstreet in Woronora Heights. This explains where all those four wheel drives, utes and boats that drive past my house every day are coming from.



    I took this photo because my brain was excited to see something colourful that wasn't green or overcast.

    I took this photo because my brain was excited to see something colourful that wasn't green or overcast.



    Canoes. This was about 1km from Sutherland station, and when I noticed that the trip to the train station was up yet another hill and through thick bushland. I realised we probably wouldn't be living here.</p>
<p>The End.

    Canoes. This was about 1km from Sutherland station, and when I noticed that the trip to the train station was up yet another hill and through thick bushland. I realised we probably wouldn't be living here.

    The End.


    Woronora Heights was very pretty though. A leafy, tranquil suburb - even more than Engadine.
    These were not the greatest photos. Luckily my witty captions were here. I think I might need to do some more Daily Shoot assignments to tighten up my skills.

    Engadine?

    I spent this chilly Sunday evening catching up with Cowan and his lass for dinner at Bondi. Because that's how things go in Sydney.

    After the meal we went to a semi-classy pub for a couple of pints schooners and we were ID'd at the front door. This wasn't a super dressy pub, and the bouncer hadn't baulked when I walked through the doors with a DSLR around my neck and an attached gorillapod dangling beneath it. However, after checking Cowan's South Australian drivers license without batting an eyelid he looked at mine and spat "Engadine!" And then ushered me through the door without a further word.

    We found out on Friday that the landlord wants to move back into this house when the lease expires next month. I am very much looking forward to moving north of Sutherland Shire.

    Blades of Glory

    I had an important event today which required me to be clean shaven. I'm not going to talk about that, though. I'm going to talk about my new shaver.

    My old one has been around for nine years. It was my 18th birthday present from my Dad. We've had some good times. Lately though it hasn't really been cutting it. After looking through many shops at local shopping centres it became very obvious that shavers were stupendously overpriced in Australia and - with the USD exchange rate being so epic at the time - I could own a prestigious, $400 shaver for only $100 USD. And thus began my first, positive experience with Price USA.

    After waiting only a few weeks, I walked out the door this morning to find my new shaver at my doorstep. To this event I swore loudly, mainly because I had been half-heartedly maintaining my stubble since I placed my order while waiting for my new shaver to arrive, and I had literally only just given in and spent twenty minutes shaving with my old shaver for what I now know was the last time.

    So at that point, with nothing left that I was game enough to shave, I instead took photos of my new shaver.

    The box, which lists the shaver's many powerful features, not limited to: being usable in the shower, having a better battery than my Samsung Galaxy S, Sonic Vibration cleaning mode and an LCD display!

    The box, which lists the shaver's many powerful features, not limited to: being usable in the shower, having a better battery than my Samsung Galaxy S, Sonic Vibration cleaning mode and an LCD display!



    It also comes with a handy guard for the foil, and a genuine leather carry case.

    It also comes with a handy guard for the foil, and a genuine leather carry case.



    The Panasonic ES8249S features FOUR blades in an arc that contains nano-technology! By the time you finish shaving you will literally be living further into the future. It also has a fast linear motor drive. What this means is that it vacuums hair off your face like a tiny jet engine.

    The Panasonic ES8249S features FOUR blades in an arc that contains nano-technology! By the time you finish shaving you will literally be living further into the future. It also has a fast linear motor drive. What this means is that it vacuums hair off your face like a tiny jet engine.



    Although all that shaving power is pretty much wasted on me as I will basically use the trimmer accessory to just tidy my stubble 80% of the time.

    Although all that shaving power is pretty much wasted on me as I will basically use the trimmer accessory to just tidy my stubble 80% of the time.



    After you finish shaving you dock it with the automatic self-cleaning charging base where an LCD Screen will tell you how charged and clean it is, along with shaving stats like how many seconds your last shave took and how long they take on average. When it's finished charging the shaver will play a happy tune, and while plugged into the charging base it can display shaving tips and connect to FaceBook to share shaving data with other ES8249S users.</p>
<p>It pretty much is the best shaver ever, and the fact that I imported it for such a ridiculous discount makes it all the sweeter.

    After you finish shaving you dock it with the automatic self-cleaning charging base where an LCD Screen will tell you how charged and clean it is, along with shaving stats like how many seconds your last shave took and how long they take on average. When it's finished charging the shaver will play a happy tune, and while plugged into the charging base it can display shaving tips and connect to FaceBook to share shaving data with other ES8249S users.

    It pretty much is the best shaver ever, and the fact that I imported it for such a ridiculous discount makes it all the sweeter.



    Shit..

    Shit..



    Super Heroes

    Xena, Warrior Princess

    Xena, Warrior Princess

    Dirk Nowitzki, Power Forward

    Dirk Nowitzki, Power Forward

    Work Restarts

    Work has been full of changes lately. None of which have involved reducing the amount of bureaucracy and paperwork I have to do. I raised a Change Request just today for a customer who pays thousands of dollars a year for server support for no reason, apparently, as they know how to do everything themselves.

    The customer wanted to schedule a system reboot for this evening to improve the performance of their Java applications and I agreed to supervise it. I created the record and added the client's justification to the 'justification' field and the work plan 'restart windows, confirm services are running' to the work plan.
    In the 'Backout Plan' field I wrote 'server reboot, impossible to backout'.

    Normally this would be duly accepted by the posse of change approvers, but there is a new Change Manager in town today and they told me that my backout plan was not acceptable and they would not approve until I fixed it. I mentioned that nothing was being moved, deleted or changed and there was nothing we could therefore undo in the event of problems. I was then asked what happens if the server suffers a hardware failure after the restart. I tried to explain that it would be the same thing as if there was a major hardware failure right now or any other time outside the change window.

    This still wasn't good enough; in order to finally gain approval I changed the backout duration from 0 minutes to 30 minutes and changed the record as such:

    Restart Windows Server
    Time: 7pm 29/6/2011
    Work Plan: Reboot Windows. Confirm services are running after boot.
    Backout Plan: In event of errors, un-reboot server.

    Fortunately for me everything went smoothly.

    Follow Up Flag

    It's amazing how much of your life you can find in Microsoft Outlook.

    From a draft email, first saved April 7 2008.
    Words that are Awesome

    Chaos
    Disciple
    Mimisis
    Big Ideas
    Blind
    Hegemony
    Occam's Razor
    saccharine
    niceties
    nicked
    defecated masonry
    intrinsic
    Figurehead
    Kowtow
    Rodentine
    Cerebellum
    Subvert
    Plunder
    Andragogy
    Mollify
    Brutism
    Penumbra (partial/half shadow)
    Trope (using words in non-literal ways/a metaphor)
    archipelago (collection of islands)
    Dystopian (opposite of utopia - pure hell)
    Autoclave (pressure cooker)
    Surfeit (noun or verb, satiate)
    Autonomous (not controlled by others)
    Shibboleth (a characteristic of pronunciation that reveals characteristics of a person)
    restive - restless, but not caused by boredom - caused by repression
    microcosm - a smaller symbolism of an object within an object
    Pathology
    Homophony - sounds the same but is different
    Sartorial - of or relating to a tailor
    (showed) Consternation - paralyzing fear
    Mulligans - a do-over at something you should have been able to do first time, but for some reason didn't.
    archetype - a base model that a chartacter is inspired by.
    Providence - luck from God/divine intervention

    ---

    For even more fun, read through my 2008 entries and Facebook status updates from April onward and try and spot how many times I used one of these words.

    By the way, if anyone knows how to save a whole Outlook mail folder into traversable HTML, please let me know before July 14.

    A Stretch

    We went for a drive in the Blue Mountains today to scope out a potential wedding venue. Afterwards we drove up Mount Tomah to gander and take some photos. The visitor's centre had a lookout so I braved freezing winds to take a panorama.

    image 1029 from bradism.com


    I'm not sure if I did it right.

    Still There?

    I was woken at 0630 this morning by the daily whinging of the rebooted HLT142VMI00A for last time. After two weeks of talking fast into a mobile phone I have almost all my client handover done. All that I really have left to do this week is enter my final timesheet entries, hand in my laptop and write a meaningful farewell email to BCC to everyone I can remember working with or for in the past five and a half years.
    Friday is my official last day, and I have two weeks to rest, reflect and prepare for what should be a glorious and brutal return to office life.

    Working purely from home the past six months has had many pros and cons. I have developed an addiction to preparing thickly stacked sandwiches for lunch each day; monstrous, appetizing structures free from the deforming of a morning spent shrink-wrapped. I think I will miss that the most. Con: the only way I'm getting a goodbye cake is if the postman can squeeze it inside our narrow, unforgiving mailbox. Assuming someone posted me one.

    Pro: I'll have more interactions with other people. Con: I'll have more interactions with other people.

    Lesson's learned from being a teleworker: try and fit a walk in everyday, don't grow a moustache, don't eat cereal for every meal of the day no matter how tempting it is, claim random things on tax, try and do at least two walks on the days you eat five bowls of cereal.

    Reminiscing, Sandwiches

    Yesterday's themes of reflecting on the past, and thinking about sandwiches, reminded me of this. I don't think it needs any further explanation..

    image 1031 from bradism.com


    image 1032 from bradism.com


    image 1033 from bradism.com


    image 1034 from bradism.com


    image 1035 from bradism.com

    It Got Real

    image 1036 from bradism.com

    Recommended Links

    I spent the past few weeks making myself redundant. Now I can enjoy two weeks of time off before my position on the training hierarchy becomes polarised.

    One of the first things I did with my free time was read Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut. It covered several things that I am currently interested in when reading fiction: social commentary, fourth wall breaking and main characters who slowly go insane. I enjoyed it. And because I had no work to get back to after I finished reading it I decided to indulge in some tracing to work out why I actually read it.

    Vonnegut has been recommended for decades. It was only recently I decided to find one of his books, after hearing him referenced on a track by Baltimore rapper E-Dubble. I first discovered E-Dubble's talents after he posted a freestyle over a remixed version of the Parks and Recreation soundtrack, which I only watched after it was posted in a thread about Parks and Recreation on the Something Awful forums. I was reading that thread because I'd just watched two straight seasons of Parks and Recreations in about three weeks. I started watching Parks and Recreations because it appeared on a few people's "TV Shows" list on Facebook, and they also had The Office and Arrested Development alongside it. Arrested Development is close to my favourite TV show. I discovered it when another thread on the Something Awful forums advertised that it was good the day it started on Australian TV in 2004. I originally signed up for the Something Awful forums for the files, not for TV Show recommendations, but that has been a welcome bonus. I found out about Something Awful's files from a member of another forum which was mainly about the computer game Age of Empires II: Age of Kings. This is going back a while now, but I think I first started reading that forum to try and find strategies to help me beat Ballard at Age of Kings when we played against each other back in high school. I first became an Age of Empires player when Josh's family bought a new computer somewhere around 1997 and it came packaged with it. I became friends with Josh after my parents and his parents started spending a lot of time together after we were born.

    That was fun. I think the internet is really working hard on the way it's able to recommend and suggest new forms of entertainment or new directions for life. However, I think once you dig deep enough everything in my life can be traced back to either Josh or high school.

    Effective

    Vicks First Defence Micro-Gel Nasal Sprays are the bomb. You pay $8 and shove it up your nose four times a day and it stops you from catching a cold. I've bought a new spray every week this Winter since May and only caught a cold once. That's an outstanding success rate. What an excellent product! It's definitely something I'd prefer having to money.

    Lifehacker 2

    Yesterday morning I was playing some 2 versus 2 in Starcraft. Halfway through the game my ally dropped out, leaving me outnumbered and outgunned. Unlike every other time this situation has occurred I went on to win the match and felt like the greatest video game strategist in the world. I couldn't wait for Vanessa to arrive home from work so I could tell her about my awesome victory. Then I thought it would perhaps be a little sad that the best thing I achieved on my day off was to win a game of Starcraft. Even if the amount of rain this week has justified spending the whole time inside. So, instead of celebrating with a massive sandwich I jumped in the car and drove to the nearest Bunnings Warehouse so I could complete as many lifehacks as possible to regale her with that night.

    The first thing I did was buy two wooden, decorative corner pieces. They were about the size of a drinks coaster but about four inches thick and each had a gorgeous, carved spiral on the face. I am using them to prop up the fridge where the front wheels bent in.

    I didn't do this one yesterday, but when we first moved into this house the tap fixture for the washing machine was so close to the wall that I couldn't attach the hose because the rubber grips on the end of the hose were being blocked by the wall. Instead of spending $30 on a new hose and connectors I spent $10 on a lifehacksaw and sawed back the grips, giving it a narrow enough diameter to reach the top of the spigot.

    I also bought a door mat for the backdoor which I didn't do anything special with or to, but it only cost $3 so I thought it was worth a mention.

    My favourite piece of minor household maintenance, however, was the addition of the mount for my phone I installed on the side of my bedside chest of draws. This one took a little bit of preparation as I had to buy a car mount with suction pad for my Galaxy, and then remove just the housing. After that I bought some screws at Bunnings, discovered a few things about drilling, and ended up with this:

    image 1037 from bradism.com


    Hello, new alarm clock!

    Hello, new alarm clock!

    A Long Way for Coffee

    North Sydney:

    image 1039 from bradism.com

    Click for Big:

    Lens Distortion, Scooters

    Lens Distortion, Scooters

    Five Clocks

    I was disheartened this morning to read in the Sydney Morning Herald that Sydney was on its way to breaking a record for consecutive days above 20 degrees during Winter. I was slowly being convinced that this is what August weather is like here.

    I had today off work after trading my normal Thursday hours for the graveyard shift and my first application release earlier this morning. It went well enough, and it meant I could sit in the sunlight in a deck chair on my back lawn with a Pepsi Max and a copy of The Great Gatsby for the afternoon. I had to rotate several times as I read through the pages, other than that it was awesome. I walked back inside afterwards in a daze; vitamin D was painted on my fingers and face.

    I have this very strong desire to take photos of birds lately. I wonder what it means.

    Springlings

    I saw two ducks together today, a boy and a girl. The girl was eating some grass while the boy kept watch. It was sunny. I thought, 'that duck is probably pregnant with spring.' The sun agreed. I did not have my camera with me.

    Mondale III

    It was almost midday. Dale crept cautiously into the office, eyes checking every corner. However, this Monday's late arrival time was not to do with laziness and apathy like it might have been. Rather, Dale had felt a positive vibe after lying down in bed on Sunday night following a sunny weekend beyond anything one could expect from winter. He'd procrastinated less during his morning preparations, not fumbled with any part of dressing himself and accidentally arrived at work half an hour early. He was smiling at a cup of coffee at his desk before some of his co-workers even arrived. It was then that something over his shoulder cast a shadow from the fluorescent lights above. Dale turned as his manager cleared his throat, and followed when he was asked if he could come into his office to talk.

    It had only been that morning, but it seemed so long ago that Dale had been handed a cab charge and told that he was going to spend the next three months consulting for the new client, working on site at their office. Dale was taken aback after being told he was going to be representing the company's 'core values and technical expertise'. He could think of only a few things he would be considered expert enough in to educate others about, and they were things that surely the company would prefer he did not share. No matter how many unvoiced objections he had, the morning's momentum had quickly transported Dale to his new office and he was searching for the right suite among the ferns and glass doors while feeling thankful that he'd at least worn a long sleeve shirt this day.

    Eventually Dale found the correctly printed glass door and - with no one with a door pass willing to let him tailgate - stood outside it while he rang the number of the contact he'd been given. Soon Dale's new manager arrived. He was clad purposefully in a pinstriped suit and a thick, silver tie hung from his neck that was only slightly more subtle than a tie with the words "IN CHARGE" written on them with black marker was. Following him was another man, who Dale found relaxingly more casually dressed.
    'Joe,' said the second new character, extending a rolled up sleeve that led to a hand for Dale to shake.

    After introductions, Dale's new manager Karl, walked briskly between cubicles while Dale and Joe trailed behind.
    'You can work from this pod,' said Karl, abandoning Dale at the mouth of a jumble of cubicles facing inwards. 'If you need any help with anything, don't hesitate to ask.'
    He immediately strode away.

    Joe was more helpful; he cleared a space for Dale's laptop and showed where his desk was: next to Dale's.
    'The team is looking forward to meeting you,' Joe said. 'We'll have an introductory meeting after lunch. In the meantime I actually will help you if you have any questions. Oh, and here...'
    Joe produced a plastic card from his desk drawer.
    'This will get you in all the doors.'
    'That is very helpful,' said Dale. 'Thanks.'
    'It's actually my job to help you,' said Joe. 'Well, part of it. Here HR gives every new starter a buddy and, well, you're my buddy!'

    Joe did his best to live up to his name, finding Dale an ethernet cable; showing him to the Kitchenette so he could store his lunch and Pepsi Max; and providing honest answers to Dale's questions like 'So does everyone here actually start at 8:30?' and 'How acceptable is it to install third-party browsers on the computers?'
    Joe showed Dale how to work the electronic whiteboard before the meeting with the other developers, to which Dale replied with a hint of mirth 'Thanks, Buddy!' Dale was surprised how well things were turning out. The introductory meeting went smoothly, most likely due to the post-lunch sleepiness of most of the new team. One developer, Miguel, asked him antagonising questions like a mature agent student in a humanities lecture, but beyond that he had no complaints.

    The sun was still shining through the many glass windows of the office park tower that afternoon when Dale made his return to the kitchenette for a drink. As he walked in he found Miguel waiting for him, leaning against the common table.
    'I did not find your meeting promising, consultant' he said.
    'Oh,' said Dale. His first instinct was to stand quietly and wait for Miguel to leave, but confidence suddenly surged through him and he opted instead for assertiveness.
    'I think we may have got off on the wrong foot,' Dale started. 'You don't have to call me "consultant". You can call me "Dale". If you have any concerns about what I'll be helping you guys with maybe we can sit down and talk through it.'
    Dale extended a hand, which Miguel did not take.
    'My name is Miguel,' Miguel said, standing up straight. 'I am your enemy.'
    'My enemy?'
    'Here HR gives every new starter a nemesis, and I am yours.'
    This seemed strange, but Dale was still feeling just a little confident.
    'We don't have to be enemies,' he said. 'Who cares what the policy says?! I see you're drinking a Pepsi Max. I like Pepsi Max. Perhaps we have more in common than you think?'
    'I like your Pepsi Max' said Miguel, glancing at the fridge.

    Bradism

    Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. Give a man 30,000 fishes and you also feed him for a lifetime, plus you don't have to bother teaching him how to fish.

    Milk, Eating

    Some nights I lie awake longer than I want. Sleep is elusive, an oiled up concept that I can only grasp momentarily before it slips away through my fingers.

    image 1041 from bradism.com


    I just get so excited about breakfast.

    Mondale IV

    Joe stepped out of the elevator and around the corner found Dale standing an uncertain guard of the eighth floor glass security door. Dale gave Joe a furtive glance, followed after a second of processing with a conservative smile of recognition.
    'Still no door pass?' Joe asked him as the two met. In a well-practiced piece of choreography he smacked his pocketed wallet against the sensor and was rewarded with a friendly chime and the clunk of bolts untangling.
    'Not yet,' said Dale.
    'And no one would open the door for you?'
    'You're the first person who's come along. I did see Miguel walk past inside, but I think he pretended not to see me. Then he walked back a minute later dragging my chair behind him.
    'It's a bit of a Wild West up here sometimes,' said Joe as the two navigated between cubicles. 'I hope it hasn't put you off.'
    'I'll be honest,' said Dale. 'You have been a great buddy. But in general the people here seem to be on a secret mission to abuse my graces.'
    'How?' asked Joe.
    'Well, I realise I had it good in town with our fridges. I mean, I kept parmesan cheese in that fridge for weeks between spaghettis. Here I am lucky if a thing of yogurt lasts until my morning tea. I spent twenty minutes trying to make a phone call one morning before I realised someone took the cable while I was away. And last week I set my meal to heat up for five minutes in the microwave, walked back to my desk to check on a build and came back to a sheepish looking Egyptian guy taking my lunch out with three minutes left on the clock.'
    'Oh,' said Joe. 'That's not good at all.'

    Joe looked like he was deep in thought.

    'Did you try writing a passive-aggressive note and printing it off as big as possible to stick on your desk, the fridge and the microwave?' he asked.
    'Funny,' said Dale. 'I called up the Floor Coordinator and that's exactly what she told me to do as well. I just.. I don't think that's the kind of thing I am able to do.'
    'Don't stress,' said Joe. 'You go look for another chair and I am going to call the head of HR and find out if he can help you.'

    Five minutes later Dale returned, wheeling a sad looking office chair behind him.
    'Check your email' said Joe. 'The HR Manager says he will help you.'
    Dale opened his inbox; near the top was an email from the head of HR. It had an attachment, and was titled "Employees Passive-Aggressive Note Template v1.4".

    This Shhh Is

    I woke up five minutes before my alarm this morning and immediately sprang out of bed. The God of Hospitality Etiquette had been kind to me over the weekend; a guest to our house had brought bananas with her over the weekend and obeyed the commandment 'Thou shalt not take home food with you when you visit friends.' I've gained (and lost) many beers and some Paddle Pops to this decree over the years, but this is the first time I'd ever scored something as lavish as bananas. As someone who felt a little nervous carrying a red capsicum through the streets of Hurstville after dark this week, I was truly able to appreciate this serendipity.

    It has been so, so many months since I watched Cyclone Yasi hit the north-east coast and scatter my breakfast plans for the rest of the year kilometres into the air. I ate a banana, Weet Bix and honey smoothie for breakfast almost every day before that storm, and today I was coming back home. Even if it was going to be only five degrees when I drank it I was still excited. Spring was just over the horizon, and perhaps it was bananas that the ducks I saw last week were pregnant with. I was so atwitter that I struggled to recall the recipe for banana smoothie after I made it to the kitchen.

    As usual, when I start feeling excited about tropical fruits in August, the days left of winter were not kind. Despite wearing cuff links to the office the events of today's working rapidly unravelled to the state where I didn't leave until 6pm, with the unfortunate knowledge that all the work I'd done today had led to only the conclusion that I should destroy it all first thing tomorrow and start again. It was not a sunny day, and if I had taken a break I probably would have been rained on by the ubiquitous rain clouds of hump day. Also I believe the new earphones I bought to use on the train were designed by whoever invented the grappling hook.

    I was eventually walking from the train station to my door along the dark, sodden streets. The light pollution from the city's many towers made the clouds glow despite the kilometres between us, and the soft rain that still fell tasted dirty on my lips. At this junction I felt aggrieved, and gypped by those bananas that had promised me a nice day. I thought about duck pairs and photojournalism and ideal train seat selections and more about bananas and felt that at this point the journal words in my head were want for a drink to decode them or at least take them on a more entertaining, unrelated tangent. Then, in the bend that brought it all back, the song 'Banana Split' by Mochipet came on random, and its funstep beat guided me home. And when I realised that this song, which I downloaded at random only yesterday, was about bananas I silently mouthed 'Oh my God' to the empty streets as I realised the extent of the universe's invisible storytelling. To the God of Hospitality Etiquette I believe. From then, the only drink I needed was a banana smoothie.

    South for the Weekend

    There are pros and cons to renting. Pro: I am able to live in a nice house within twenty minutes of Sydney for $500 a week instead of $800,000 over thirty years before interest. Con: I have been connecting to my router wirelessly instead of via ethernet since the day I left the nest.

    My signal strength has ranged from "fair" to "shite" over the four houses I've lived in since then, but I lived with it up until the last week when I bought myself a new router. My old Billion router had been my internet champion for over two years. However, it took a few tumbles in the last couple of months and starting losing line sync and shutting itself down more and more often after that. I knew the time had come to put it in a home and find a new hero. I bought the Billion 7800NL and after a few tweaks I have it syncing at 9000/900kbs and only one drop out in the past seven days.

    The bad news is that while I was able to connect to the old router wirelessly with no issues, connecting to the new one was a painful experience of high latency and unacceptable packet loss.

    I'm an IT professional, but I am not able to understand the voodoo of wireless networking to any great degree. From what I understand my new router transmits on a powerful, new protocol that unfortunately all my neighbours are using too. In the past I had been avoiding their packets, but now their routers have awakened to my presence and I am caught in a digital crossfire.
    After several days of laggy, teasing internet connectivity I did what any sane person would do: I dragged my computer to the edge of my desk, dragged the router to the middle of the living room and managed to stretch a 15 metre ethernet cable down the hall to connect the two. For the first time in three years I was connected by cable and I was giddy with joy. I never wanted that feeling to end, in fact. However I knew I couldn't live with yellow ethernet cabling hovering above my hall floorboards. So, I decided I would crawl under the house to evaluate my chances of running cables underneath the house.

    At this point it's important to mention that I have no idea how install an ethernet socket in the skirting board, nor have I ever been underneath a house before. I was confident someone at a Bunnings Warehouse could teach me to be a licensed electrician in about five minutes, so I just had to conquer the second part.

    Above the floorboards my house is, as mentioned, quite nice.
    Below it is extremely scary.
    I crawled through the trapdoor and discovered that the underneath had rooms that had the same floor plan as above the floor. Unfortunately the entry point was far from both the living room and the study, so I started crawling through the inverse-laundry and into the inverse-kitchen, which contained some rusted out lanterns, old bottles and a large pile of young girls shoes from the turn of the century.
    This disturbed me, but driven by my connection fevour I crept further along the dirt towards the inverse-hall.
    As I dropped to my belly to deal with the decreasing height my torch started to flicker out on me.
    At this point I decided that a yellow cable running down the hall whenever I felt like playing Starcraft 2 was better than this. I slowly reversed out.

    A Dale EPIC

    Passers-by would describe Dale's awkward half-sprint up the stairs into the office as an indication of his keenness to start the work week. This was not the case. Ten minutes earlier Dale had opted out of the chance to use the train station's toilet and it was the potential remorse that spurred him through the glass doors early Monday morning. After, as he washed his hands, he glanced at his reflection and noted the dark-ringed eyes. He regretted his sleep the night before, first the procrastination and then the restlessness; the only true reclamation of energy he felt had come moments before his alarm, and the moments after it. This triggered a chain reaction that had forced him to delay his morning wee until after he arrived at the office.

    'You like tired, Sport!' said Harold as Dale dried his hands.

    Harold had just started zipping up his fly but felt no bother initiating a conversation in the narrow washroom. Harold felt no bother initiating conversations anywhere, anytime. He was a tractor-beam; he would make statements that deserved no response yet not break eye contact at any cost to artificially lengthen the natural life of a conversation.

    'Why the fuck does Harold keep trying to start conversations with me?' Dale wondered.

    'You're probably wondering why I'm so chipper on a Monday morning!' said Harold as the two walked into the office.

    Dale kept silent.

    'I'll tell you my secret,' Harold said, assuming Dale's wary blankness was permission to continue. 'Every Monday morning, and only Monday mornings, I eat cake and ice-cream for breakfast. It's the best breakfast! Gets me all energetic and enthusiastic for the week! ...What's the matter sport?'

    'Didn't sleep well,' Dale loathed admitting, afraid of the fuel he was adding to the discussion.

    'Some nights before work I can't sleep...' said Harold. 'I just get so excited about breakfast!' He yawned, then grinned sheepishly. Dale fought his instinct to yawn back. He forced his lips together tightly, turned himself a full 180 degrees away from Harold to face his desk and willed the dialogue to combust. After a minute he turned to look back and Harold stood there, waiting for the talk to continue. The only sound was the two breathing. Finally Harold turned and walked away towards his cubicle, but with not even a grunt to indicate the conversation was done.

    It wasn't.Continue Reading Mondale V...

    Dear Brain

    Alright brain, some serious questions:

    How come whenever I see cake you try and convince me that food might be in short supply in the coming days and that I should replenish my stocks of fat in case I go hungry? I have a whole bag of almonds on my desk at work, and nine different types of cereal at home. I'm not going to go hungry. Stop lying to me every single time..

    Why did you choose to buy a hand sanitizer that requires no water to clean my hands, and then let me store it next to the sink for months?

    Why approve of certain songs when I load my phone up with MP3s, only to immediately reject them as unlistenable the first time they come up on shuffle? What do you have to gain by doing this?! Why not just put songs that you like on my phone?

    Also if you could turn off all the flashbacks for a while that would be great too.

    Thanks,
    Brad's Body

    Weeds

    On Sydney's rail network a Tangara motor carriage has seats for 112 on the middle six cars, and 98 in each of the driving cars. I counted them one trip. That's 840 seats plus approximately 10-25 people standing around the doors of each carriage during peak hour when every seat is taken. That's a total of ~1100 people per train at 8am on a work day morning. That means that on every rush hour train there's - on average - three people who are having their birthday and feeling like they at least deserve a seat.

    I caught a 6:45am train into Sydney on Friday morning and took one of the last seats that remained by the time the carriages reached Hurstville. The population caught me by surprise; I was expecting it to be a lot less crowded at that early point of the day. Thus, a lot more people than I was planning experienced me eating soggy cereal out of a tupperware container with a tea-spoon on my way to work. I couldn't tell if all the looks were of disgust or jealousy. I think the only common denominator that floated behind their brows was the phrase "South Australian..."

    This weekend I've had to struggle with first world problems like weeds invading my (landlord's) lawn and spam bots posting junk to my personal website.

    Gardening and PHP are pretty unrelated, but the realisation I had while on my bottom ripping apart tangles of Oxalis pes-caprae (with my only goal being to give the grass underneath some light) was this: Wether it's Nigerians or plantlife, all living things are just greedy for resources. Sunlight, seats, money, Vespene gas. My trip to Costco this morning also seemed to back this up.

    On the plus side, I was fortuitous enough to see eels in the wild today. And I bought 14 wholemeal Lebanese pitas for $1.89.

    Mondilbert

    Today I drove to work, facing Sydney's peak hour rush head on (almost). It wasn't actually that bad - probably because I started and finished work with a two and a half hours offset to most people. There is something powerful in the feeling of reaching the end of your trip after navigating Sydney's maze of roads and ramps at rush hour. Well, when you over-dramatise the mundane parts of your life there is. I was a hero twice today.

    The main drawback of driving was that I didn't get to write a Mondale story on the train on my commute home. Fortunately I wrote one two weekends ago in case I ever needed an emergency Dale story. And SO:

    Mondale VI
    'What are you doing?' I queried.
    Dale looked up from his screen, the sound of mouse clicks pausing.
    'What time is it?' he asked in reply.
    '10:30.'
    'Good, I've still got time.'
    'For comics?'
    'Yeah,' said Dale as another set of panels floated by. 'We're still in that grey area between the weekend and work. No one is going to judge me harshly for starting slow on a Monday.'
    'I don't think that grey area extends two hours into the morning.'
    'Oh, no, it's ok.' Dale reassured me. 'I only just got in.'
    There were more clicks, then a chuckle.
    'What was funny?' an agitated voice asked through the cubicle wall. 'Was something funny? Forward it to me if it's something funny. You gotta.'
    'Dilbert..' Dale muttered, only to himself.

    For another ten minutes I watched as Dale drilled through the Dilbert.com archives, searching for some objective that he wouldn't share. He rarely laughed. I figured this was because there'd hardly be a Dilbert he hadn't seen before. It was impossible not to see them all; Dilberts were posted in every print room, in the kitchenette, the break room, even by the fire exits. Everyone had a Dilbert in their cubicle. Well, everyone except Dale.

    'That's it!' he exclaimed. 'This one is the one.'
    I stooped to speed read the strip.
    'That one? It's not even funny.'
    'It doesn't need to be good,' said Dale. 'I mean, seriously, how is reading about someone else's office job even supposed to be entertaining? This is just for identity management.'

    He hit print and explained:

    'You remember Sandra? After they made her the only developer on the SHOW system and she was forced to be on 24 hour support for four months straight? So, she stuck that Dilbert up in her cubicle about how Alice was always on call and was never going to see her family again. Everyone who sees it feels sorry for her. No one remembers that SHOW is only used during business hours - sparingly - and that not only does Sandra see her family every night but she's paid on call rates to do so.
    'And there's Ralf,' he continued. 'Who has that series posted next to his desk about Asok's job being outsourced to Elbonia. Ralf is just a code monkey, so sure, that seems like a reasonable way to chuckle off the fear of losing your work to someone overseas. Remember though, that Ralf was born in Germany and studied in Munich and the company paid his moving costs to bring him here so they could replace Ravi when Ravi wanted that payrise. And Ralf was just as competent as Ravi, but cheaper and younger.'
    'So this Dilbert thing is like some ironic flag that you wave at the ignorant to misdirect them from your flaws?'
    'Yep, and now I have mine! Although I was hoping that reading Dilberts would help me procrastinate all the way 'til lunch.' He said, a little sadly.
    Dale retrieved the comic from the printer, and solemnly pinned the strip above his terminal.
    'Coffee time?' suggested Dale, closing the browser.
    We stood and moved toward the lifts. Over our shoulder's Dale's cubicle walls grew smaller. On one of them now hung three panels, throughout which Dilbert delivered an irritated monologue about being the only one who bothers to arrive at work on time.

    Hypocrite

    Sydney, where a 55 inch TV costs less than one mortgage payment.

    On weekdays, they should only turn the streetlights on after 10pm. Until then you can find your way down any street in the suburbs by the light from the giant TVs pointing out everyone's front windows.

    It took me about a month to read The Great Gatsby. I really didn't help myself by reading it exclusively while sitting in the sun on weekend afternoons. It was a good book. Who is to say it would have been worse off in 3D?

    Mondale - Training

    AT 5:55am every work day the train left its terminal at Beachport and began its first of many commutes to the city. It arrived in the CBD at 6:34am, looped the city circle once and then followed the tracks back to the terminal. It then repeated the process with only a couple of breaks until the end of the day.
    Besides a forgettable period each evening, the train spent its entire life travelling from its home to the city, and then back again.

    ‘My life is a lot like this train’s...’ thought Dale. It was 8:38am and a bulky school bag in front of him was wedging him further into the armpit of a large Italian man, who stood gripping one of the handholds bolted into the roof of the carriage’s standing section. In Dale’s backpack was a Malcom Gladwell compendium that every morning he planned to read before losing the seat lottery. With only tired feet and no personal space as distractions Dale was forced to spend his commute philosophising with only his immediate context as stimulus.
    ‘My youth could be compared to speeding past a crowded platform...’ He mused.
    After the next stop - where a litter of well-dressed children evacuated towards the closest private school – Dale was at least able to turn his head to view the filled rows of seats in the carriage main. He surveyed their capacity enviously. Every occupant sat at ease. Some watched TV shows on their tablets and phones. Several snoozed, their heads propped against headrests or swinging free to the gentle rocking of the train. Among the sea of faces he saw Karen, one of his many managers. Her book floated free on her lap and her dozing head was perched against the window. Dale initially felt jealous, but after the train arrived at the city and Karen still sat motionless while everyone disembarked he felt at least a little mirthful.
    ‘Back to the ocean,’ he muttered. ‘That’s where our bodies seem to instinctively take us.’
    A small girl stood next to her mother, staring at him. Dale turned quickly and headed to the exit.

    The morning lift to Dale’s level was as packed, but shorter in duration than the train ride. The crowd still pushed him into other people’s comfort zones and to his dismay he found himself being pressed closer to the back wall and into the shoulder of his new manager Karl. It took considerable core strength for Dale to keep his cheek from landing against Karl’s thick chest where his bold, red tie loomed like a forbidden pillow.
    ‘Good weekend? Good.’ said Karl once he’d recognised Dale as one of his subordinates. ‘Listen, Dale. I got an email some time last week saying you still haven’t completed this year’s ethics training. You need to do that in your first week. Please do it ASAP. Can you do that for me? Thanks.’
    Karl returned to his blackberry as the lift reached their floor and Dale hustled to follow Karl’s strides towards the cubicles. By matching his pace Dale didn’t have to worry that Karl seemed to intentionally not hold the security door open for him as they entered.

    When Joe arrived at the desk next to Dale he found his HR designated buddy buried deep in the Enterprise Portal website searching for his HR designated training courses.
    ‘Let me help you with that,’ he smiled. ‘Check under this unrelated sub-heading and then right click on this obscured part of that image map.’
    ‘Thanks.’ Begrudged Dale, grateful for the assistance but not the outcome.
    ‘No worries buddy!’
    ‘You seem cheery.’ Dale noted.
    ‘That’s because it’s Monday. I start every week by catching the later train in. It means I get extra sleep, plus there’s always a seat then. Looks like your course has loaded.’
    Dale’s monitor showed a short video, and then presented him slide one of 93.
    ‘Ninety-three pages?’ Dale asked Joe, in case he’d pointed him towards some sadistic variation of the real ethics training.
    ‘That’s how much ethics there is to know, I guess,’ said Joe. ‘Whatever you do don’t fail the test at the end or you have to sit through it all again.’

    Two hours into the morning Dale was a quarter of the way through earning himself a picture of a certificate that he could print with his name imposed on it. Karl appeared over the top of the divider.
    ‘Dale. Have you passed the ethics training yet? I need you to have that done before the planning session this morning.’
    ‘Not yet,’ said Dale. ‘And wasn’t that supposed to start an hour ago?’
    ‘We’re still waiting for Karen to arrive’ admitted Karl.
    ‘Oh, I saw her asleep on the train this morning’ said Joe. ‘She was drooling on herself a little. Maybe she missed the station?’
    Karl shook his head in disgust.
    ‘Alright Dale, I need you in the meeting room in ten minutes to run this session. Can you finish the training by then.’
    ‘I can’t skim this whole thing in ten minutes and pass the exam at the end. It doesn’t let you save.’
    ‘Can you not read it and then cheat to pass the test?’ asked Karl. ‘Joe, wasn’t there some thing where you could view source and it told you the answers.’
    ‘You want me to cheat on the ethics test?' said Dale. 'I don’t... Wait. Karl, is this all part of the ethics test? Are you testing me right now? Is Karen going to walk out from behind a corner?’ Dale looked around for corners. Karl stared at Dale. Joe looked out the window.
    ‘Listen, Dale,’ started Karl. ‘There are leaders and followers in life. Do you want to make the rules, or follow them? If are going to succeed in this world it’s time to start cutting out the bullshit.’
    The speech and the faint whiff of vodka on Karl’s breath convinced Dale that this wasn’t part of any ethics test.

    The rest of the day left only blurry imprints in Dale’s memory. There was a training session, Karl wielded double entendre masterfully to enable himself to yell at someone in the conference room and someone on the phone simultaneously for completely unrelated problems. There was a lunch that might have been last week and a long period without food that sucked the colour from the afternoon. Dale stood on the platform, exhausted and waiting for the train to take him home. It arrived and he turned his body sideways to squeeze into the crowd. When the train reached his stop Dale joined a throng of relieved commuters who spread wide across the platform once free of the carriage, and then just as abruptly formed into a single file queue as the train slowly moving again, blocking their passage from the platform to the exit. Once the train had gone a slow shuffle commenced down the split-level ramps that led to the pedestrian crossing. While he waited for the crowd to gain momentum Dale caught movement from behind him and turned his head to watch two youths jump from the edge of the platform and onto the crossing, risking the three foot drop to bypass the slow moving impasse. Dale watched them walk carelessly across the car park as he shuffled past the tiny fence.
    ‘I should be a winner,’ thought Dale. ‘I should break the rules, jump the fence and beat the queue to leave the car-park.’
    That wasn’t what he did, though. Instead he waited patiently, finally reaching the other side of the car park and then eventually joining the next slow moving line in his car, waiting to turn onto the suburban streets.
    ‘My life is a lot like my life.’ Thought Dale.

    Meanwhile, at another station closer to the sea, a similar blob of slow moving people blocked another platform’s egress. From behind them all Karl took two quick steps and leaped the guard rail to the walkway below. His thick, red tie swung over his shoulder as he flew, and then fell back into place perfectly as he landed and then strode towards the exit.

    Any Requests?

    When I posted my last entry I noted that if I published one entry each day this week I could celebrate my 1250th Entry on Saturday!

    Obviously I need to start using my camera again.

    It's a Friday night, so I decided to bust out a brand new sponge for the dishes this evening. It shone so yellow and clean and firm next to it's dingy looking twin. Totally unaware that the old sponge was its future.

    As usual, when I washed the dishes with a new sponge I used the brush more than usual to try and preserve the newness of the sponge. I realised I always do this. And when I buy a new dish brush I use the sponge on dirty things that I would normally use the brush on to try and keep the brush clean for longer.

    This seems like pretty normal behaviour, so I'm not worried about it.

    September 11 September 11 September 11 September 11

    It seems this weekend half the internet is sitting around an e-campfire and telling their September 11 stories, and I might join them. Because, who knows, maybe in fifty years some kid will ask me "Brad, what was September 11 like?". This way I wont have to fumble around in my (hopefully) indexed brain and instead I can just send them a neural link to whatever browser damn kids are running inside their brains in those days and point it to bradism.com where they can search for September 11 and find out for themselves. And I just hope this entry comes up first and not the one about the cake. That's why it has this title.

    September 11, 2001 was a source of great comedy for me. As a fat, white teenager living in an upper-middle class suburb on the other side of the world I was able to quickly shake off any sense of tragedy so that I could make quips to my peers and increase my social status by being funny. The fact that most of my friends were also of a similar demographic and desensitised by the internet helped me get away with this. I think I was in a rare position where I'd found out about the attacks right before bed, and then woken up eight hours later with most of the fear of more attacks gone. I wasn't conscious for those hours of terror where all the sherrifs across the US were called in to grab their shotguns and stand guard near whatever the town's biggest monument was. Instead by the time I saw other people the edge had gone off.

    On reflection today I realise that in typical Brad fashion I milked September 11 for more comedy than it was worth. I think for a about a month I actually had a weekly email I was sending with my latest jokes about the War on Terror. I also used Septemebr 11 content in a few school assignments in 2001: an English journal piece I wrote about baby terrorists, and a photography assignment to design album art using Photoshop. I used a photo of the burning towers as the front cover. It was called "Build it up, tear it down" and the back half was a picture of the Petronas Towers rising into the sky.
    At the time I probably thought I was making some profound statement. And my teachers probably thought that this was my way of "dealing" with a Western catastrophe. So if I have learned anything from September 11 it's that you will never fully comprehend how ignorant you were as a teenager because as fast as you mature you also forget the things you did.

    A year before all this, in 2000, I did a week of work experience with a little IT department that looked after the computers in a chain of nursing homes in SA. I worked with a guy called Shane doing things like installing drivers in Windows 98 and writing down serial numbers of printers. We had to drive to a few nursing homes around the state and some were long trips. At the nursing home in Mount Barker I was allowed to eat some diabetic-friendly custard. On the Thursday of that week we had to visit a home in Maitland on the Yorke Penisula, about two hours of travel each way.

    I wasn't very talkative on these drives and Shane used to spend most of the time listening to commercial rock on Triple M and singing along. I was too shy to sing too, but on hour three of the four hour road trip to Maitland and back a song came on that I actually knew the lyrics too. I decided I should at least try to sing to show that I was outgoing, however I wasn't up for actually singing. My compromise was to silently mouth the words to Matchbox 20's Push and do it as emphatically as possible to make sure he noticed.

    Halfway into the rather emo lyrics of Rob Thomas' ballad I was completely regretting my decision, but I feared that stopping halfway through would send an even worse message. So I stubbornly persisted until the final "well I will" was done. We didn't say much after that for the rest of the trip.

    In hindsight, this last part doesn't really have anything to do with September 11.

    Mondale VIII

    Both Dale and I watched a young man walk a little too briskly towards the main sliding doors of the technology park's office tower and heard the thunk he created when the slow reacting sensor above the door didn't open the doors for him with enough urgency.
    We had both looked away to try and lessen his embarrassment when he saw me waiting across the foyer for a lift, and up he strode.
    'No coming back from that.' I said. 'If that was me I'd be going home for the day.'
    'Right,' he said. 'What brings you on site?'
    'Some days I split my work between here and the office. I find if I schedule my changeover around the middle of the day, I can get away with having an early lunch in town and then a late lunch here without anyone noticing.'
    Dale looked at me sadly.
    'What's wrong?' I asked. 'Don't tell me you've turned into one of those clock punchers who won't charge a client for time spent taking a dump.'
    'I'm jealous.' Dale admitted. 'Plus, I'm being tormented by Miguel. I...' He trailed off.
    'Want to talk about it?' I sensed my friend needed some sympathy. 'I've just had two lunch breaks, but, we can go get a coffee?'

    The technology park's cafeteria was uncrowded, bathed in the gold by the mid-afternoon sun. Dale clutched his coffee in his hands like a crime scene witness being helped by police.
    'It seems like I'm doing all Miguel's work on top of my own.' He told me. 'That means I'm doing, like, a whole person's work. We have a team meeting twice a week and he manages to dish off all his tasks to me. He's like an evil John Stockton. Yesterday he somehow had all his testing tasks assigned to me. I don't have any testing experience on my CV; I don't know how he talked Karl into approving that.'
    'Weren't you a tester for a while on the POTS project?' I asked. 'Did you learn anything from that?'
    'I learnt it would be best to leave "Testing" off my CV.'
    'Well, if you're desperate to escape testing you can always try the housework escape plan.'
    'What's that?' asked Dale.
    'Just something I learnt from my younger brother growing up. When he was old enough my parents started assigning him chores, but while he would begrudgingly vacuum and tidy he completely resented washing dishes and mopping. Every time our parents asked him to do the jobs he didn't like he would do the shittiest job possible. Moral? They quickly stopped asking him to mop and wash.'
    'But if I'm bad at my job, won't I get fired?' Dale asked.
    'You've been with this company for, what, five years now? You've passed your probation period, everyone knows your name and they're confident you're not a psychopath or a moron. They'll choose to live with it. Like, what were my parents going to do? Have another kid?
    'The trick,' I continued. 'Is to be terrible from your first attempt. If they have nothing to compare it to they'll have to assume you're just incompetent at the one thing you don't like doing. And Miguel will never be able to pass you testing work again.'
    'Wow, you seem to have this all figured out.' Dale said. 'Do you have a strategy to stop my co-workers from following me to the shops at lunch?'
    'I might. Are you sure that happens?'

    Hump Day

    That Sudoku was not fucking around when it said it was extreme.

    Luddite

    This week has been the most convincing so far that I should give up on technology and become a total luddite. The main thing stopping me is the fear that I'll lose a playing card down the toilet.

    Although, being a luddite would make rambling about insignificant problems on my online journal via my smart phone a lot tougher.

    Do luddites get to watch tv? I guess it depends on when you become a luddite really. And also if the tv is connected to the internet.

    Mine is, 90% of the time.

    Mondale IX - Alightenment

    Dale didn't know what time it was. Tiredness leaked like smoke from his eyeballs, their sockets felt wet and hot. A voice in his head spoke to him. It told him it was Monday again.
    'I thought tomorrow is Sunday?' Dale thought. 'How can today be Monday?'
    Dale squeezed his eyes back shut, trying to extinguish the fatigue and turn the unfocussed cloud of business suits, prim skirts and school uniforms into inky blankness.

    Of course it was Monday. Dale was right, tomorrow was Sunday, but Dale lived a life of only Sundays and Mondays. He'd tried to tell Joe about it one Monday in the office, but it had been a conversation of mainly body language and assumptions. The kind of conversation where you realise you spoke incoherently and yet still receive a normal response.
    It was at that point Dale realised the two were not actually talking, just making noises at each other to pass the time.
    'Is anyone listening to me?' Dale asked the carriage curiously. The crowd was not responsive, most faced away. No ear was independent from an ear bud, tethers to smart phones. Absorbed by tiny entertainers and easily absorbed fluffs of internet. No one was listening.
    'Do you ever have that feeling, where you can see through the flesh of the world?' Dale asked a small crowd of standing passengers nearby. 'I do. Only just for a brief second. I see the muscles and the nerves of everything exposed. I get a flash of how it all fits together. And I know.'
    No response.
    'Doors closing.' The speakers chimed.'
    I see it clearly, but I can't grasp it. The motivations, no, the programming of everyone around me is listed like tooltips in the corner of my eye. I see it. I see the streams of money floating invisibly through the air like the blood in this planet's veins. I witness the way everyone behaves around cake, the way it makes parts of their brain throb, triggers the nervous systems to spasm and scream. I know when three storeys became the new two storeys. I see through the walls of those houses and I can see the layout of their foundations, the steel frames and the concrete but also the fear and the lust and manipulation and insecurity found in the blueprints.
    'For every minute you spend in an Ikea showroom I see the hours that marketers and psychologists spent planning for the thoughts you're having right now. I see the trendy meeting rooms where they planned how to affect your feelings. I see the cubicles they sit in; I see the cake their HR department brings in on the first Friday of the month to celebrate everyone who had a birthday since the last cake. How many layers of management do you think you have to go up before you leave the sheep and join the wolves? Do you think it's a gradual thing, or do you just wake up down the rabbit hole? Do you go from bottling Coke to supervising the production line to sitting in the laboratory trying to perfect the recipe? Then you feel the tap on your shoulder and you're suddenly researching how to make everyone that drinks Coke think they are a bee in the world's stickiest, most gigantic flower?'
    'How does it happen?' Dale asked. Silence.
    The train doors opened and a flustered looking businesswoman rushed along the platform, dragging her wheeled luggage behind her like an uncooperative dog. The suitcase clipped a Chinese midget who was trying to bridge the gap between platform's edge and car. He tumbled in, landing in a heap at Dale's feet.
    'That was a little rude,' Dale said to him. 'Do you need a hand?'
    'Are you mocking me?' the dwarf snarled. He waved a stumped forearm dismissively at Dale's kneecap, then propped himself up with the amputated limb. Just as he found balance on his feet the train rocked sharply around a corner and he was sent sprawling again, the roof mounted hand-holds weren't even close enough to be ironic. He twisted himself into a sitting position using his tiny legs and scooted to the wall of the carriage where he sat.
    'Go on.' He said to Dale eventually.
    Dale responded with soundless question marks.
    'Thought I'd offer a bit of perspective,' said the midget.
    'It's different,' admitted Dale. 'I think it's making my neck hurt.'
    'No, that's from the way you've wedged your head against the toilet roll holder.'
    Dale blinked, adjusting to the fluorescent lights of the technology park's men's bathroom. He took a moment to calculate his alpha wave regeneration and to pull up his trousers. As he fastened the belt the midget squeezed his head underneath the stall door to look at him.
    'Get out there, Dale.' He said. 'It's Monday.'

    Johnny

    image 1042 from bradism.com

    Mondale X

    Dale was unprepared for his end-of-probation evaluation, as the very definition of time had abandoned him many afligablaxibules ago.
    I found him at his desk staring at a blank Word document. It had only a heading - "achievements" - that had been styled several different ways while Dale's mind stalled for time.

    'Trying to list all your work accomplishments for your review?' I asked.
    'Yes... Work.'
    'What is this? Six months here consulting? Don't sweat too much; I remember when I was in your position. When I was younger I was recruited as a consultant for Dr. Pepper's Australian expansion. It was at the six month mark that I realised they were selling soda and not medicine. I had actually been calling the CEO "Doctor". They wanted to terminate me, but the only thing I'd done in those six months was overhaul their online access tools and I controlled all the passwords. They actually tried to extend my contract, before they went bankrupt.'

    'No, see, that's my problem!' said Dale. 'You and every consultant I ever meet have these amazing, interesting stories about their time consulting. When I was in a permanent position I felt like nothing ever happened, and if anything did threaten to become interesting I was like a local cop forced to respect the jurisdiction of the FBI Agent Consultants who bustled in to solve everything. I feel fake being a consultant here. The only smart sounding insight I've been able to share with anyone in six months was my secret of using the hand dryer and paper towel at the same time. I want to experience something worth telling a story about.'
    Miguel appeared, apparently having sensed Dale's Monday anguish.
    'I was a contract worker at Apple when they were first developing the iPod.' He grinned at Dale. 'It was crazy; I didn't get home from work before midnight for months. Can I borrow your pen?'
    'You stole my last pen yesterday to mix your coffee.'
    'Listen,' I told Dale. 'Everyone's stories will always sound more exciting. Everything you're told will be exaggerated, the boring parts will be omitted, the details airbrushed. Miguel, weren't you a cleaner at Apple while you were at UCLA? Around the time of the first iPod, I believe.'
    Miguel scowled and left.

    'See?' I said. 'Everything's embellished. Plus you don't have any perspective because who sticks around to listen to the boring ones? You never hear a bad story, unless you end up bogged in small talk at an office party.'
    Harold had sensed a conversation was occurring and saw this chance to join.
    'We had the best office parties back when I was consulting for the CIA.' He said. 'They were splendid. I have so much I can share about them.'
    'I'll save you the trouble' I told him. 'You actually worked on a shared services project for the whole of the US Federal Government. Your primary responsibility was to monitor an inbox for alerts and forward it to the appropriate team. You did this mainly from home.'
    'National Security alerts?' asked Dale.
    'Hardware alerts.' Harold said. 'Some agencies really needed to tune their databases. There are a few funny things about database tuning...'
    'Wrong.' I interrupted. 'There's nothing funny about database tuning. Anything that occurred in relation to it would have been funny only in the context that it occurred. Face it: interesting stories in the IT industry are rare.'
    'I was working IT in New York on September 11,' said Joe.
    The bonfire-esque conversation was proving a beacon to Monday morning procrastinators.
    'I was even supposed to be at a meeting in the World Trade Centre that morning, but there was a client demo in Jersey that my boss insisted I spend the day at.'
    'That one is all true,' I admitted. 'The year was 1997.'
    Joe blushed. I turned to Dale.

    'You understand? None of these people have more exciting lives than you. Consultants don't either; it's just the separation and anonymity they enjoy because of their independence that gives them the freedom to exaggerate that little bit more.'
    Dale nodded, taking the message to heart.
    'Hey..' he asked: 'Does that mean Karl's story about how he worked 24 hour days on his nanotech start-up, and didn't sleep for nine days straight in order to finish a prototype to win venture capitalists before hostile rivals bought out his board, is also bullshit?'
    'Actually,' I lowered my voice. 'Karl might be the exception to this rule. He generally needs to downplay his anecdotes just to make them sound plausible.'

    Across the office Karl sat waiting in one of the smaller meeting rooms, he was reading through Dale's probation review checklist while his left hand absentmindedly moved to rub the scar above the shrapnel buried in his thigh.

    Fruity

    I am constantly inspired by the things I see around me in our world. It was Spring. It was these ubiquitousness' that led to me having an idea for a phocumentary while at the local Coles supermarket. And then I spent an hour taking photos of fruits and vegetables.

    In this phocumentary I wanted to ask questions.

    image 1043 from bradism.com


    What is colour?
    image 1044 from bradism.com


    What is art? Will anyone ever find a photo I took in an apartment in New York and then auction it for 0,000?
    image 1045 from bradism.com



    Is art simply strange pictures that someone made?


    image 1046 from bradism.com

    In my opinion, yes.

    Public Holidale

    Dale.

    Parallel Computing

    I'm starting to worry that I'm developing an obsession with time frugality; I'm becoming a tightarse of time, if you will. I've always been a micro-manager of cents, although I'm not conservative in such a way that I'll never spend money on luxury items. Or Lego. I just can't disable the voice in my head that tries to talk me into blowing my nose with toilet paper instead of tissues to save half a cent. Or ration out the dishwashing liquid to appropriate amounts for the load of dishes.

    Since I recently joined up at Costco and now have a year's supply of toilet paper, sponges and paper towels among other daily necessities my brain has been able to relax on daily skimping and instead focus its attention on saving me time instead of money. For example, when preparing meals I will go to lengths to make sure I'm putting already used things into the fridge when I retrieve the next ingredients. Similarly I find it hard to walk from room to room without having my hands holding something that is going back to its home, or being moved to where it will soon be used. I obsess over Google maps to find the best route anywhere I'm about to go. And for walks I make the trips even shorter by walking across roads at an acute an angle as possible to the curb.
    I recently installed an SSD as my boot disk and tweaked my PC's start up so that it takes less time to start then it takes for me to open the blinds, sit down, and put on my headphones – all of which I obviously do after I press power. I now refuse to listen to music when I end up stuck standing on the train, instead preferring audio books so that I can learn and transport myself at the same time. As my new job has me working on site for my client I inevitably end up using two computers all day and I have quickly trained myself to use both simultaneously. My left hand mouse skills are impressive.

    Since my motor cortex went dual core I've found that it's reached the point where I start feeling anxious and fidgety whenever I'm not doing something while also doing something else. Even this entry I am writing on the train on my way home from work while simultaneously listening to new releases on my phone for tracks to recruit for my next Virtual DJ mini-mix.
    I honestly don't know how much time all this ultra-efficiency actually results in. Depending on what you count as a real time saving (e.g. super-setting chores) versus opportunity time saving (learning while commuting) I would estimate I save 15-30 minutes a day. Dressing and packing my bag while I eat breakfast nets me an extra hour of sleep a week alone by my calculations.
    What do I do with most of this bonus time? Get beaten by children at Starcraft 2.

    Journal Jinxes Revisited

    I can't believe I grew complacement enough to proudly share my operating system upgrades with the internet on Tuesday.
    The Blue Screens of Death began on Wednesday, the formats satarted Thursday and around about lunch time today my computer went to hardware heaven. Or, could be considered reincarnated as a tone-deaf music box.

    I don't need a computer to be happy, but my PC does tend to make itself the cornerstone of most of what I do as a photograper, writer, Lego builder, television watcher and programmer.

    Now I am lost. If I didn't have my work laptop, my smart phone and a TV that can connect to the internet I'm not sure I'd be able to keep it all together.

    Mistake

    There were no station guards on duty to instruct commuters to stay behind the yellow lines. Dale did so regardless, conditioned to obey the paint; spread himself evenly along the platform; and to allow others to disembark before boarding. The rails below began to hum and the front engine of the train came into view as it rounded the not-too-distant bend.
    'Train!' shrilled the voice of a young boy a few metres down the platform. 'Traaaain!'
    Dale wished that just once he could share that enthusiasm for a trip to work.
    Inside the carriage was an overwhelming amount of available seats, an unusual bounty for peak hour on a Monday. Dale gratefully sank into one and his eyelids closed involuntarily. Dale had spent so much of last night lying awake and thinking of the office that at one point in the early hours of the morning he was considering adding several hours of dreams to his timesheets.
    'Choo choo!' the gleeful voice behind him cried as the train rumbled away from the platform.

    The unease that Dale felt in his belly that morning was growing when he walked into the empty foyer of the office tower. Normally at this point in the morning there were crowds around the elevators doors, the mailboxes and the small coffee shop in front of the lobby. Today it was only Dale and the short, Irish lady who ran Brenda's Beans. The sun lit up the glassy lobby and the particles of dust in the empty air suddenly prompted Dale to think:
    'Daylight savings! Did I forget it!?' he thought. 'Did I accidentally arrive to work an hour earlier than necessary? If that's the case I am definitely buying myself a donut for morning tea.'
    Dale called the elevators with the control panel which illuminated momentarily before beeping at him and fading out. He tried a second time with the same result. The double doors did not open and Dale felt the eyes of Brenda watching him.
    'Um,' he said, taking a step towards her counter. 'I think I'm too early?'
    'You need a building pass for the lifts today.' She walked around from behind the bar and swiped an access card dangling from her hip against the controls. The doors opened.
    'Now you can hop in and pick your floor.'
    Dale thanked her and ascended.

    It was the moment the lift doors reopened to reveal an empty office that Dale came to appreciate why the lifts did not work today.
    'Mistake!' he squeaked, and tried to squeeze back into the closing lift door to no avail.
    'Dale?' asked a stern voice. 'What are you doing here?'
    Dale looked into the corner office where Karl sat, his tie slightly loosened but otherwise looking as sharp as he'd been on Friday afternoon.
    'Going for an early start to the week?' Karl inquired. 'Or did you just forget it was a public holiday?'
    'Early start,' Dale chose quickly.
    'Good man! That's what I like to see. It might be a holiday here, but the markets will open in Japan in two hours, and when they close New York will be ready to resume.'
    Under the richly brown desk Dale could see Karl's shoeless feet shift positions on the carpet. Now that he thought about it, the expensively dressed Karl may have been wearing exactly the same suit as Friday.
    'It's fantastic to see you here, Dale.' Karl continued. 'I've had you pegged as bright, so it's encouraging to know you also don't mind putting in the extra hours. As you'd know, if you're not happy putting in the long hours now you're never going to be selected for upper management where long hours are mandatory.'
    'Is it worth it?' asked Dale.
    Karl laughed.
    'I could retire tomorrow, if I wanted to. Now, start your work. I didn't allocate any time today for this much small talk.'
    Dale strode to his cubicle enthusiastically, Karl style. He logged in and opened his email where there was one unread email from Friday afternoon. It was a companywide overview of the week's achievements and Dale read it line by line. At its conclusion he had no items to action. He pondered for a moment, and then read it again. Fifteen minutes later Dale realised that most of the work he did in the field of incident management was reactive and the only way he would get a head start on the week's work was by breaking something himself, or letting sweet unconsciousness recharge his brain.
    It took another two hours, but eventually Dale heard Karl engaged in a phone call and used it as a diversion to escape. He offered a single-movement wave to a mid-sentence Karl and then the merciful lifts allowed him to re-enter so long as he only went to the ground floor. The steel doors closed to embrace him as the office disappeared.

    Once Karl heard the lift doors close he opened a desk drawer and retrieved the half finished vodka glass. He took a thick sip before placing it back down on the oak surface, and then proceeded to type up more sales projections with an unbridled ferocity.

    In the lobby again, Dale decided to order a coffee to help justify the morning's trip. Brenda handed him the takeaway cup and asked him if he needed to be let back into the lift.
    'No, thanks.' said Dale. 'I'm going home. But, tell me, how come my access pass doesn't let me into my office but yours does?'
    'I don't know,' Brenda thought about it. 'Maybe it's based on seniority?'
    'Seniority? I mean, I'm only a contractor sure. But don't you just make coffees?'
    'That's one way to look at it. The way I see it, yes, I make coffees. And I also manage the business where I make the coffees. So I'm a manager. In fact, I own this business and make all the decisions about it. So I guess that makes me the CEO. Maybe, when you're a CEO, you too will have a building pass?'
    'That explains why you're working on a holiday, I guess. Thanks for the coffee. Please cancel the donut.'
    Dale turned to start his walk back to the train station.

    Photos I Didn't Take

    I'm still sadly without my primary computer, forced to write out journal entries on my work laptop or my phone. That means I'm also without my photo processing software which is just one of many factors making it hard to post photos lately (another factor: I take mostly terrible photos). Seeing I can't post photos I thought I would instead share a description of some photos I would have posted, had my computer not taken Spring off. Then I thought that if I'm delving into the hypothetical I might as well describe the photos I would have posted if I had both a working computer as well as photographic talent:

    The first bananas I've bought since last summer, sitting fat like a still life painting in the fruit bowl on our kitchen table.

    A view of Sydney Harbour, looking west through a train window and an out of focus wire screen of safety on the Harbour Bridge's edge. The gold lit waters below are dotted with sailboats floating between the reflections of skyscrapers.

    A wide angle photo of the houses on the decreasingly green Park Rd, Hurstville that shows the growing dominance of contemporary McMansion lots among the late 80s architecture, with construction sites interspersed giving birth to the former.

    A clean, slightly oversaturated and sharpened photo of Lego Minifig Series 5 Godzilla against a stark white background. Except, his regular size legs have been switched for a pair of half-size legs giving the appearance of an adorable mini Godzilla.

    A small tree in my backyard brimming with a flock of rainbow lorikeets who feed on the branches while Sunday afternoon sun lights up the bright orange and reds painted in their feathers.

    A fast shutter speed exposure of Vanessa's legs in yoga pants as she walks across the room in the first hours of a sunlit spring morning. Don't tell her that I hypothetically posted this photo of her on the internet.

    A view down the long, crowded length of one of the underground platforms of Sydney's Town Hall train station. A wall of waiting commuters stretch into the horizon, their raised hands hold up a smaller line of lit up smart phones and tablet devices, which I have focussed on with a large aperture to blur the faces of those holding them into anonymous blobs in suits.

    Penultimate Dale

    The song Dale selected for his alarm on Sunday night was intended to make the following Monday morning more tolerable. He had a reoccurring experience where whatever song he woke up to would stay in his head most of the day. With that in mind Dale programmed Electric Light Orchestra's Mr. Blue Sky to keep his feet moving throughout the morning routine.
    Dale's early rise was motivated by Karl, who he was finding rewarding to impress. Tuesday through Friday last week Dale had birthed a slow epiphany that hard work was sometimes worthwhile, even if it's only benefit was the satisfaction that came from completing a long period of working hard. I was a little disappointed when he told me this. I am an advocate of hard work when it's warranted, but my philosophy was to put the effort towards preventing hard work being required, not doing it unnecessarily.
    'Finding easy ways to pass the day without exertion doesn't give me a reason for getting out of bed when my alarm goes off at 6am Monday morning,' he told me.
    'No, it doesn't.' I replied. 'But it probably means you can sleep in.'
    Dale didn't respond to any of my coffee break requests the rest of the week. He didn't give up caffeine; I saw him buying coffee with Karl instead. They both ordered espressos and finished drinking them in the lift before hurrying back to spreadsheets and shell prompts.

    At the train station Dale stood in line, having not expected the queue for tickets this early in the morning to actually be longer than average. He stole agitated glances at the analogue clock above the station gates, calculating the time until his train left and dividing it by the number of people still in front of him. The early train was his goal; it would transport him to the office with enough time to send out an email to the floor's distribution list before anyone else arrived. The mail's contents were still under construction but its message was obvious.
    The moment Dale finally faced his turn at the ticket machine he was, without warning, shoved backwards a step by a woman wearing an expensive, slate business suit. She did not say a word to him, merely inserted coins into the machine with her back to him and collected a ticket before walking away coldly. Dale also said nothing; she was clearly someone else's Karl.
    After she left he rushed through his ticket purchase, grabbed the ticket and dashed to his platform. The train was already on approach and swarms of more leisurely commuters heading back out to the suburbs were impeding his path. He saw a shortcut - the two foot leap over the hand rail that other commuters and their bikes were forced to detour around. The train's departure was imminent and he realised it was the only way he could make it onboard, but he couldn't do it. Not in the crowded station. He followed the rest of the mass along the designated path and set foot on his platform as the carriages pulled away. Once it was out of sight he found a pole to lean against and stood, unmoving for the twenty minutes before the next train arrived. Mr Blue Sky wouldn't stop looping in his mind the entire wait.

    'Where is Dale?' Joe asked the meeting room. No one had an answer; some checked their phones and came up with blank looks. Miguel looked apathetic. Karl sat at the head of the table looking increasingly perturbed at the time-sink this meeting was becoming. Harold spied a silence that ached for his voice.
    'I will start by going over the action items from Friday afternoon's meeting.' He said. 'Number one...'

    Karl watched Harold speak, staring at his lips that moved purposefully but couldn't produce any sound that was able to penetrate the white noise that buzzed inside his brain. Karl needed coffee and wanted drugs.
    Illegal drugs.
    Harold continued his summary and Karl found himself fascinated by the shape of the man's head, wondering if could be possible to tear out his skull and turn it into a makeshift coffee grinder.
    'It probably wouldn't work,' he thought. 'If I could fashion a stopper out of his spine? Maybe...'
    Harold was watching Karl and looked a little uncomfortable, his mouth hung slightly agape as he waited for his manager to give him some kind of prompt or response. Karl could not stop envisioning using Harold's jaws to grind Arabica beans.'
    'Yes, that could work,' he said, not meaning to mutter it so loudly.
    'It... It could?' Stammered Harold. 'Um, good. I'll start on it this afternoon.'
    'Please, keep me posted,' instructed Karl. In his head he made a note: 'If Harold does something beneficial this afternoon, take all credit. If bad, make coffee grinder.'
    'Where is Dale?' asked Joe again.

    Dale sat at his desk, his email inbox beeped at him. The unread item was work for him to do. A task for him to investigate, from Karl, with clearly defined outcomes requested for him to produce. Dale smiled and inserted his headphones, ready to start pumping out deliverables to a soundtrack. He'd worked only a few minutes when the computer beeped again; loud clangs heralding another email's arrival. More jobs to do. Dale bopped his head as he typed, feeling the rhythm as he started chipping away at his tasks. Minutes later the email chimed again, three heavy rings that sounded too loud and distinct to be appropriate as email notifications. They sounded to Dale like the warning that train doors were closing.
    'No. Don't be dreaming,' said Dale.
    The realisation that he had been listening to his headphones for fifteen minutes without being interrupted once with a question from Miguel shocked him awake. The train he sat on jostled around a bend. The sun outside was high in a cloudless sky. Dale didn't know how many loops of the city circle he'd done so far, but he could see through the window that the skyscrapers were shrinking behind him. The train arrived where he'd originally boarded and he saw no reason at this point to make another trip back into town and he disembarked.
    The station was different when the sun was directly overhead and the crowds had dispersed. He had the platform to himself as he departed and crossed over the tracks and towards the railing he'd chickened out of leaping before.
    Dale looked around, the station wasn't completely empty but its occupants paid him no notice. He turned to face the railing, took a deep breath, and jumped over it. The business shoes he wore thunked onto the pavement below simultaneously and he felt his knees and hips absorb the impact in accordance with their design. He looked around, feeling a giddy rush on the same level as the only time he'd ever handed out his business card. He walked the several metres around, back up to the top of the walkway and then without hesitation jumped back down. A pair of parents were watching him now, keeping their toddlers within arm's reach as they monitored him from the other end of the platform. Dale briefly contemplated unleashing a passionate yell, but instead rounded the walkway and cleared the barrier again. A train rushed by. It was an express service and didn't stop. Dale stood back on the platform while it powered through, but intentionally left his toes over the yellow line. When it had finished passing he jumped the railing another three times and then, satisfied, he strolled out the station gates.
    'What was that about?' the station guard at the exit asked him as he left.
    'Whatever helps you get through a Monday, right?' he said back.
    Dale whistled Mr Blue Sky's melody as he walked back towards his apartment.

    Next week will be the gripping 2011 finale of Mondales. Will Dale find a way through the motivation barrier or will he succumb to the gnawing voice in his head that says there's enough evidence to justify going crazy. Will anyone at Dale's office work out what Dale's job actually is? Will I be able to use the words "cubicle", "train" and "kitchenette" in a single sentence? Tune in next Monday to find out.

    Straight Up Ballin'


    I played social basketball last night for the first time in almost a year. It was the result of a rather unexpected call that came about 4 o'clock in the afternoon.

    I originally posted my ad at the local basketball stadium about three months ago. It said that I was looking for a team and that I was tall (I didn't go through with describing myself as "Dirkesque"). Until yesterday I'd received no interest. Curiously enough I was actually walking around Macquarie University in my lunch break mere hours before that call and I found some outdoor basketball courts that I stared at wistfully. Then I wondered if this was the first time I had consciously stared at something wistfully. Then I thought, wow, there are a ridiculous number of uni students sleeping on this grass in the sun.

    The game itself went alright. We did not win and I gave hope to a young spastic child, but I also did not cause any new injuries so overall I'm counting it as a positive experience. When I was younger I'd envisioned myself as someone who would keep fit and keep playing basketball into my 50s. It has definitely been an unwelcome experience going so long without playing. The time off had no effect on my ability to knock down short corner jumpers however. And the way my body felt after waking up this morning made me realise I'd essentially achieved my goal of playing basketball as a 50 year old.

    Cut

    I was not surprised today when I learnt my philosophy when it comes to mowing the lawn is the same as my philosophy towards haircuts. Both are events that I delay for as long as possible for both economical and social reasons, and I relent only once I start feeling paranoid about the social consequences of letting things grow further.

    My hair and my lawn seem to have another thing in common: the above average speed and thickness with which they grow. Sydney charged me $75 to cut my lawn late August. It's not like I have a huge yard, but this is apparently a competitive rate. Still, when I received a reminder a month ago saying my next mow was due I scoffed and ignored it. A month later I decided that two months per mow was value enough and I organised another appointment. The grass was pretty unruly by this point, so I was looking forward to coming home to a nice yard.

    I received the call this morning from the gardener who told me with this level of regrowth the fee would be $100. This is the kind of thing Sydney does to you regularly, so I went to my usual strategies: act sad and try to barter. I offered him $80 and he said 'forget that, this is a two hour job.'

    Do gardeners really make $50 an hour? I eventually agreed to this rate because - I have to admit - I'm ignorant to the intricacies of lawn mowing. I know that grass is very heavy when you cut it. The rest is mysterious. I thought at first I might be in the wrong industry, and then I realised maybe I wasn't even smart enough to make it in the lawn care business. Then I thought, wait a second, cutting someone's lawn can't be that different to cutting someone's hair. How much are hairdressers paid per hour?

    So, I went to have my haircut. It took about 30 minutes and they charged me $25. So there I was, down $125 but happy at least in the balance of the world.

    End of Dales

    The suburbs were waking and starting their weeks. Dale's head was pressed against a train window, watching the queues of cars idling as they glistened in the sunrise. Pressing Dale against that window was the flabby shoulder of a giant woman in a sundress. She'd eyed off the one remaining gap in the rows of facing bench seats in the carriage, put her index finger to the side of her lips to ponder and then backed herself in over two pairs of knees and filled the rest of the available space like a forkful of reheated curry landing on the middle of a keyboard. With gritted teeth Dale accepted that this was the tipping point that made the extra ten minutes of sleep worth less than the later train and tardiness it resulted in.

    There is a pattern of body language cues that most peak hour commuters learn will help them escape to the exit without the need to speak whenever conditions get intimate. After the announcer declared Dale's stop as next he began the dance, sitting up straight, glancing sideways at the doors and putting his satchel on his lap. The ritual worked, but the cramped conditions slowed his progress and his feet barely arrived on the platform when the doors closed behind him and the train trundled away. Dale's usual perogative was to be the first to disembark to avoid the crowd swell around the turnstiles, today he found himself waiting to exit like everyone else.
    His late arrival compounded, and with the whiff of lunchmeaty perspiration on his arm Dale felt a pang of surliness that his plan to impress Karl this week with his work ethic and professional grooming was already ruined. He wished he'd had a list of other priorities to fall back on.

    At street level Dale engaged his upper-management speed strides to cover the distance remaining to the office with as much disdain for leisure as possible. He was still in second gear when he spotted Harold ahead of him, ambling at a less anxious pace. There were three options: catch Harold and listen to him talk the rest of the way; speed past with fake blindness and deal with the social guilt; or slow his roll and keep the current distance between them the rest of the trip – discarding any last hope of pseudo-punctuality. Dale voted for temporary blindness and put his head down to accelerate past the man. There was no evidence to suggest that Harold had any idea Dale was behind him. Somehow that did not stop him from being mid-sentence the instant Dale drew level.

    'The air smells clean today,' he said. The speed went out of Dale's legs and he cringed as he slapped into the centre of Harold's conversational web.
    'The air smells clean... today.' Dale parroted, clueless to how a statement like that should be answered but feeling his body traitorously locking into step with Harold's slower stride.
    'Eventful weekend this one, for the world,' Harold stated. 'Did you see the news?'
    The office loomed ahead of them but seemed to grow no bigger on the horizon as they walked. Dale felt like an interview subject being tortured by a tabloid reporter who meant to trick him into talking with open ended questions and uncomfortable silences.
    'How was your weekend?' Dale asked. Finally sick of the awkwardness. 'Was there... weather?'
    'Oh yes!' said Harold. 'So much to tell. And so unusual for this time of year.'
    The conversation stopped abruptly as the walk brought the front of the office into view and the orgy of fire trucks and police cars was revealed. The building stood intact, but showed no sign of life or light. The two hurried closer and found the building supervisor standing in the delivery dock addressing the building's employees. Karl was not with them. Dale and Harold approached to listen when a loud bang and some crunching made him spin around. By the front doors a pair of firemen in hazmat suits were lifting two fabric walls of a cubicle assembly into a huge metal skip that was already full with more of the same.

    'There has been a hazardous substance incident,' the supervisor was announcing. 'At this point we have classified the whole building as contaminated.'
    There were worried murmurs from the crowd. A computer monitor and an armful of keyboards were hurled into the skip. Dale's mind turned to the fate of the last tub of yogurt he'd left the fridge over the weekend.

    'What happened?' Joe asked. Dale wondered why that hadn't been his first thought, instead of yogurt.
    'There is an investigation to come. We don't have any conclusive findings as of yet.
    'What do we do now?' Miguel wanted to know.
    'I saw Karl hurrying away with his laptop when I first arrived this morning,' responded Joe. 'Maybe he was going to the other city office?'
    'Unfortunately,' the supervisor interrupted, 'due to our system of hot-desking and real estate utilisation we are already over legal capacity for workers at all our other offices. At this point if you have your laptop you can take it to our Alliance Partner McDonalds and use their free wireless, otherwise you are to return home to work as best you can and wait for further information. Someone will be in touch when we've organised alternative locations.'
    Behind the supervisor Dale watched the firemen lift a cubicle wall with a Dilbert strip he'd seen every day still pinned to its padded surface onto the pile of the almost overflowing skip.
    'That's all for now, please continue to check your emails over the course of the week.'

    Dale left before the end of the sentence. He had lost count of the times he'd fantasized about the 9:30am train home. He did not want to wait for Harold. He knew in his heart that there was a high probablity that he would last less than a week at home before he drove back to the office in the middle of the night, dug his cubicle walls and coffee mug out of the dumpsters and reassembled his workstation in the middle of his living room. Until then he had a train station to make it to. He set off quickly, Karl style.

    Ahem

    Random Rule Number Something of being a successful writer: Have a blog. This is a way of connecting with readers, self-promoting and keeping your writing skills sharp.

    I am not a successful writer but I believe in the "fake it 'til you make it" mantra so I figured I should make sure I keep up my journal with important facts about me so that I can make future and current readers like me by sharing personal things, talk about myself and do write thing well.

    Hello current and future reader, today I was sick with a cold and/or a throat infection thing and did my best not to be over-dramatic about it. I did that pretty well. I did very little complaining and I didn't speak with a rough, grumbly voice on purpose to make other people feel sorry for me. Apart from the five minutes after I coughed in the shower and my throat hurt a little and I screamed "WHY GOD WHY HAVE YOU CURSED ME WITH THIS AILMENT WHY" and I ripped the doors off the medicine cabinet and hurled them into the shower screen, I was able to keep it low key.

    Apart from that I was resting and working and I didn't do any writing.

    Society

    There's an unspoken rule on the train. "Do unto others as you would have done unto you". Except in modern day metropolises that mantra has been flipped to "don't do anything unto anyone as you would prefer everyone to not do to you." Don't talk loudly on the phone, don't produce any noticeable odours, take all your DNA with you upon disembarking, don't eat anything, don't take up extra seats, don't stand too close, don't leave too much space, don't block the doors, don't distract others from their iPads. This rule is followed by about 98% of people, the other two percent tend to moan loudly about imaginary religious friends; swear at their friends or relatives on the phone; lean on your shoulder to sleep; and defecate with reckless abandon on the seats reserved for the elderly or disabled.

    I apologise once again that it seems so much of what I write lately has to do with trains. I currently spend about 10% of my life on them. It's not all bad, I've been reading many books and keeping up to date with many 20-30 minute long television shows.
    I sometimes think about what life was like before portable audio. When steam trains were crammed with passengers, did they talk to each other? Strike up conversations and make each others acquaintanceship to pass the time. Or did they do crosswords with graphite pencils and all stare out the window?

    This morning my commute to work stretched out to over two hours due to a necessary detour to drop Vanessa off at work before I drove back towards the city. I chose to skip breakfast. Part way through the transit a tiny wait for the next train presented an opportunity to finally feed myself with something from the prevalent chain of stores called "Pie Face". I doubt I was the only person standing on the carriage who hadn't eaten breakfast, but I was the only one who was eating a bacon and egg pie from a brown paper bag that crinkled maddeningly loud every time I changed my grip.

    The moment I opened that meal I felt the sideways glances of everyone on the train locked on me. No one said anything, because starting conversations with other commuters violates that primary rule. I could read their thoughts, however. Most were angry, feeling there was no explanation for me to introduce the delicious aroma into the close-packed crowd. A small Japanese school girl looked up from a pole she leant against and said "motherfucker, you serious?" with her eyes. It was, to be honest, a lot of pressure for 8am and I promptly spilled most of the pie down my freshly ironed shirt and onto the floor. "Justice," they all thought in sync.

    The remainder of my breakfast tasted delicious. When I was finished I bent over a scooped the spilt egg from the floor and my shoe into a napkin which then carried for an hour until I saw a bin again. I think this restored some credibility.

    Sundale - A Mondale Retrospective

    Five months ago I was walking home across a vacant sports field in Engadine, listening to music and thinking about story writing. This is a common scenario in my life. I had probably just listened to Rebellion (Lies) by The Arcade Fire because that song makes me think about story telling. I don't think I could ever write a major motion picture based on one of my novels without having that song somewhere on the soundtrack. I'm getting ahead of myself..

    One day I would like to have movies based on my novels. Before I have novels I need to write stories, and to create stories I have to, well, write. To write you need characters and when it comes to characters I don't have many, but I do have Dale.

    I've always liked writing, but I have a personality where I expect a high standard of my creations almost immediately and writing is one of those things where your first draft will almost always be rubbish. It's very easy to become discouraged. I've written a few short stories in my time, and started and left unfinished many more. I've also come up with four novel ideas in the past five years where I've written about a chapter of each before giving up. One of those books featured Dale. Two of the other story lines I figured Dale could participate in. So I thought if I was semi-motivated to write three stories I should be able to completely motivate myself to write three of them into one tale and as Dale was my most established character then it could be him being the star of an opening credit's vignette while Montreal indie rock played over the top.
    And, before I'd arrived home I'd talked myself out of it completely.

    After Winter came and I found myself with the time and energy constraints of a more demanding job and a longer commute it made my want to write skyrocket. Perhaps because I'd rather retire to the background of a dust-jacket photo sooner rather than later, perhaps because I started reading more than before on those long commutes, and also experiecing more inter-personal events than I did as a 100% teleworker. So, I decided to write that story of Dale, and to force me to write it I vowed I would publish one snippet every Mondale no matter how rough it was.

    I'm quite happy with my decision to force myself to write, even though The Tales of Dale did not go in any of the directions that I'd originally planned. Writing to a schedule and with a target of quantity taught me a lot about how to write and what I should have done to develop and advance a plot. I learnt a lot of things I should do by learning what not to do. It was very rewarding. I received a bit of criticism for the stories I wrote, warranted, and the demand to keep producing eeked out some real stinky stuff. It also forced me to improve my writing to overcome those complaints, and by the end when I had ten thousand words of Dale stories I could see as a draft, I saw ways of pacing, foreshadowing, and hiding guns that I'd known about in theory but never been able to put into practice. A lot of the content will go through the metaphysical shredder, but I can edit, rearrange and change some of what I've written into something better.

    Lastly, in this semi-apology for anyone who read through every word of every story I wrote out of love for me rather than any actual interest in the plot, I want to say that building characters is one of the coolest things that the human brain can do. Dale, Karl and to a lesser extent the rest of the gang are as three dimensional as a braille limerick as this point, but the more I wrote them the more they came to life to me. They started to do, and mainly say things that I never expected or planned to say. Sure, those things were mainly "ordering coffee" or "complaining about catching a train", but they did it themselves. It's amazing to write a dozen pages in one prolonged burst, read back afterwards and say "where did that part come from?"

    I hope my readers found something worthwhile in reading Dale. He does share some qualities with me, and for that I thank him because it makes writing so much easier when you can relate to your main character. If this experience did make me a better writer then it will also hopefully mean you can read better things from me for free sometime soon. Essentially, I learnt that it's not the quality of your characters and ideas that help you write, those things help, but the most important thing is fundamentals and scheduling. It's true.

    If you hate Dale, good news, he's gone for the rest of the year and you can read my upcoming thoughts about things like how to introduce polo shirts into a business shirt only office from my own perspective from now on.

    Simple Pleasures

    I will now provide the context surrounding the moment this afternoon when my brain said "this, this is the life."

    I was in a good mood. The ten minutes it had taken me to create two dozen similar symbolic links early in the day was already starting to show its potential increase in effeciency when the type of Unix command I type hundreds of times a week took half of the usual time. Plus, at about this point I was crossing the 40 hours of work for the week mark. This made my clueless brain feel as if the weekend was surely around the corner.

    My attention turned to a perl script I was updating. First, however, I fetched some yogurt from the fridge, partly out of hunger and partly to celebrate my increase in corporate OPM. I returned to coding and put in my headphones. My music was on random and some glitch-hop/dubstep tune by Ill Gates started playing.

    There I was, a man wearing business casual, sitting at a computer and eating yogurt with a dessert spoon straight out of the one kilo tub. Between mouthfuls I put the finishing touches on a ballin' perl subroutine, just as a thick, loud dubstep drop came through my earphones. Despite lacking both elegance and melody, the repetitive, pounding rhythm touched me somewhere primal and suddenly me writing my script and the first human - standing over a slain mammoth corpse - shared the same spiritual space and senses. He seemed confused by what dubstep was, but a lot less than you'd expect. And it made him feel pretty pro about hunting that mammoth to death.

    Eleven

    My Dad bought me my first watch when I was about seven or eight years old. It was a simple, black LCD watch which showed the hours and minutes, and if you held down one button it showed the date, and a different button switched the display to the current minute and second.

    Shortly after I first buckled that watch to my wrist I fell in love with the number eleven. There was something magical about it. It was the only number that would ever fill every slot on the display with the same repeating digit. (It was a 24 hour watch, so technically it also did that at 22:22, however I was seven years old and this time existed only in theory).

    Every day at 11:11 I would spend a whole minute feeling happy. I would tab between the hour : minute display and the minute : second display to make sure I caught the moment when the time was 11:11:11, and this was like some sort of numerical climax to me. I would then go back to playing with Lego or writing crappy stories or whatever things I do did with my time.

    I quickly decided 11 was going to be my favourite number. This, I believed, made me pretty fucking unique compared to my peers. Most of them had 7 as their lucky number. They barely understood the concept of a two digit lucky number, one of them even said to me once "Your lucky number is '1', twice?'" What philistines. No wonder none of them have online journals. If they did I'm sure they would all read exactly the same.

    I remember, the year of the first watch, how I yearned for November to come. Once it had, I counted down the days to November 11 and on that day I gleefully tabbed between the hour : minute, minute : second and day/month screens on my watch. For a wondrous second the time was nothing but rows of repeating "1"s. I didn't know much at the time, but it felt like the greatest thing mankind had achieved was creating the digital watch.

    That November I was too young to have been taught about war and Remembrance Day, so a fuckton of 1s was all that mattered. A few years later when I did find out that November 11 was already a special day for non repeating number reasons I was immediately unimpressed and jealous.

    Later in life bad things started happening to me on the eleventh of the month. In 2002 I broke my leg on July 11, caused a car accident on December 11. I injured my wrist on September 11 2008, and I'm pretty sure I caught a cold or something heinous on some other 11th somewhere in between. I decided 11 was my lucky number no more.

    Now, even more years since then I have completely lost interest in the significance of eleven. So, when today's date was a long string of repeating "1"s I did not care at all. I especially did not have a 500 word long opinion about it. I don't have anything to say to elegantly finish this entry.

    A Photo Entry

    image 1047 from bradism.com

    Bangarang

    The last few weeks I've been reading a lot of the medieval fantasy series A Song of Fire and Ice. I've also been trying to teach myself how to play chess. I'm not sure if the two things originated from the same medieval curiosity, but I found this coincidence of concept amusing. Both have been very good methods of keeping myself entertained on the train. I read the second half of Storm of Swords, the best part of the series so far, in less than a week. I found myself almost looking forward to the long train journeys in some perverse way. They offered over an hour to read a book, and chess on my smart phone to play when I was too sweaty to read.

    There's something awesome when you're in the middle of a good TV series or novel and all you want to do is escape from real life and pick the story back up. I had a thought, triggered by that feeling, that perhaps that could be what I was best at in life. Consuming media. There are many talented writers, musicians, photographers, video game developers and the older I grow the more obvious it becomes to me that I probably won't be joining their ranks. Watching TV, however, and reading, playing computer games, listening to music. I am so awesome at that. Next to convincing myself to have a beer on Sunday evening it's probably the most advanced talent I have.

    At what point in life do you accept that you are average and embrace spending the rest of your life trying to balance making money with spending it on entertainment and experiences with friends and loved ones? If I spent less time trying to write and photograph and be creative, and dedicated that time to finding new and exciting limits of entertainment, how much more satisfied could I be?

    After being thrashed countless times by programmed chess players who never make mistakes I decided I would stop trying to guess my way to chess mastery and I Googled chess opening strategies. After trying to read about them for about five minutes I then started watching YouTube videos on chess opening strategies. At this point it hit me that the way chess masters talk about chess is exactly the same way that Starcraft II pros sound when they talk over epic replays of 1v1 matches. Except instead of a strategy being first made famous by a Korean teenager in April, it's a strategy first made famous by an Italian in 1400. Obviously finding life's purpose by entertaining one's self is not a novel concept.

    Preoccupied

    'I don't understand what they're protesting,' said Kate.
    'Money, basically,' said Susan. 'They're protesting because the system is rigged to support the rich and not the middle class.'
    A waiter arrived with their coffees. Susan lifted her sunglasses and made eye contact with him, a thanks spoken in body-language only. The server winked at her in reply, and Kate saw. A snicker escaped.
    'As I was saying,' Susan said, turning away from the waiter, 'That's why they call themselves the "ninety-nine percent." They're upset because they're the majority but the richest one percent has more than the rest of them combined.'
    'Is that true though? Or just in America. I thought in Australia things are actually pretty good,' said Kate.
    'I think we're better off here than America. I think they're out there protesting to show solidarity,' said Susan 'One world, you know? All connected.'
    'Maybe,' said Kate. The two sipped their drinks, watching the small gathering of people chanting at the other end of the pedestrian mall. A light breeze blew between the city's towers; it cooled their coffee and fluttered the cardboard banners the protesters were waving. There were close to a hundred of them, although it wasn't obvious how many were activists and how many were photographers and gawkers. Under the shade of a close by shopfront two police officers stood, facing each other and holding a casual conversation, but each with an eye on the crowd.
    'House the homeless!' a lanky campaigner with a long beard yelled at two passers-by. They appeared to be tourists, and ignored him.
    'Greedy Bankers is Greedy,' the man yelled as they left.
    'Fuck the police,' a blonde haired girl cried in the general direction of, but not specifically at the two constables.
    'I don't think they know what they're protesting,' said Kate.
    'They're probably all former student politicians who left uni after they got scared by how high their HELP debt was getting,' Susan said.
    Kate nodded, watching with interest as a second pair of constables walked towards the group from the opposite side. They singled out the blonde and approached her. Several of her chivalrous male friends surrounded the three and a swearing competition occurred. The two officers ignored the curses and spoke a stern warning to the girl, words Susan and Kate were too far from to overhear.
    The roar of jet engines overhead drowned out the antagonised crowd, and as the airspace cleared Susan heard a chime from her handbag. She pulled a phone out to check her message. As it loaded Kate's phone beeped too.
    'A picture message,' said Susan. She used an older phone, and squinted at its tiny screen. 'What is that? Sand dunes? Some weird pile of cakes?'
    Kate had a smart phone with a five inch AMOLED display that didn't reflect glare from the spring sun. In high definition she made out the details Susan missed.
    'It's a penis,' said Kate, 'a penis and balls.'
    'Ahhh,' groaned Susan, dropping the phone she'd been intently starting at onto the table, 'who?'
    'Peter,' said Kate.
    Susan chanced another look at her phone to check the sender. 'Yeah, Peter.'
    The two exchanged uneasy glances. Peter had worked with them, until a month ago.
    Both pairs of officers had met with the protesters now and the four policemen stood with their arms by their sides at the head of the crowd.
    'What we should do,' said Susan, 'is steal all their banners and take them down George Street where that crowd of girls is camping out for the new Twilight movie premiere, and hand them out to them.'
    'I would like to see the cops visit them with the water cannon mobile,' Kate agreed.
    Cameras were being clicked rapidly, documenting the idle policemen. Several people sitting on nearby steps were hammering the keys on their laptops, sending updates via 3G modems to Facebook and Twitter.
    'Peter was a bit weird, wasn't he?' said Kate.
    'He was quiet; I never got the creepy vibe from him though.'
    'Until now!' Kate glanced back down at her phone, and then hit the back button.
    The police and protesters had separated, and four more officers had walked down the mall to help keep the peace. The eight of them stood sentry as the group chanted 'We. Are. The 99 Percent.' A young Indian guy walked past the police and to the edge of the demonstration. He unfurled a paper banner that read 'TEAM EDWARD' and held it above his head. His friend quickly ran close brandishing an iPhone and photographed him posing, the real activists filling the background.
    'That's going on the internet,' said Kate as the two men retreated hastily, abandoning the banner at the protesters feet.
    'Why do you think Peter sent us a picture of a penis?' Susan asked.
    'I don't know, and I don't want to look at it to try and find some hidden message either.'
    'Do you think it's his?'
    Kate's phone beeped again.
    'Ugh,' she said, but looked at it anyway. 'It's a message from Emily,' she told Susan after reading it. 'She says "Eww, that guy from your work that you gave my number to. First he never calls me and now he sent me a dick picture. WTF?!"'
    'You gave him Emily's number?' Susan asked.
    'They met at my housewarming. Emily asked about him, and then Peter told me he wasn't going to that work drinks because he wouldn't have a partner. I thought I could set them up.'
    'Do you think he sent his picture to every girl he knows?'
    'I don't know,' said Kate. 'Hey, let's ask Kevin if he got one.'
    Kate tapped Kevin's name and held the phone to her ear. The protesters changed their chant, spelling out the word "occupy" and then explaining what it spelt. Kate used her free hand to block her other ear.
    'Hello?' Kevin's voice answered her call.
    'Hey, it's me. Strange question, did you get any weird messages today?'
    'Weird?' said Kevin. 'Uh, no.'
    'Oh, ok, don't...' said Kate.
    'Unless you count a picture of Peter's rock hard schlong as "weird!"'
    His laughter echoed out the speakers. Kate grimaced.
    'Is it his penis?' she asked.
    'Well, obviously I don't know for sure, but that little willy! It would explain why he always pissed in a cubicle with the door locked.'
    'Ahh, too much info,' Kate warned.
    'Wait,' said Kevin, 'so he sent it to you too? What a creeper!'
    'Yeah, and Susan. Who else did he send it to?'
    'Michael forwarded it to me, but I told him I seen it. Mike said all the dudes got it. Even Tim and Charles. I also got another photo of a penis on my phone, but I think no one's seen it yet. Should I forward it to you?'
    'Bye, Kevin,' Kate said and hung up.
    'Everyone got it,' Kate passed on to Susan, 'all of management, everyone.'
    'Everyone?' said Susan. The protesters were chanting louder and the circle of police around them were standing tall and moving in closer. 'I think maybe I should call him. This doesn't really seem like something he'd do.'
    Susan unlocked her phone and cleared the penis from the screen. She tapped the keys until she was in the address book. Four cyclists cruised down the mall, zooming between cafe and the protestors. They wore baseball caps instead of helmets. One was shirtless. Susan dialled Peter's number as the cyclists darted around activists and police. Several officers waved their hands and yelled irately, but the cyclists were deft and stayed out of reach.
    Susan put the phone down. 'No answer, straight to voicemail.'
    'He's probably on the phone explaining his penis to someone else,' Kate said, 'or his phone was hijacked and whoever sent the picture threw it in the harbour after they ruined half his friendships.'
    One of the cyclists pushed his luck and was plucked from his seat by an officer, who pinned him to the pavement. The wheel on his upturned bicycle spun in the air. The protesters uttered an upset groan and changed their chant from "people over profits" to a chorus of "fuck the pigs". The remaining cyclists sped away. Officers in black uniforms and helmets were starting to assemble at the end of the mall. Photographers seemed to be spawning endlessly, swarming around the riled up crowd and peppering them with flash bursts. Unaffiliated pedestrians in the mall were dwindling, Susan and Kate watched from the end of the mall warily.
    'I know,' said Susan, 'use your fancy phone to check Peter's Facebook. Maybe he posted an apology or some explanation.'
    Kate's fingers tapped and wiped over the surface of her phone.
    'I can't find him,' she said after a minute. 'I think he unfriended me.'
    'Or deleted his profile. Can you check if he's still in my friend's list?'
    'Ok,' said Kate, then 'No. He must have deleted his profile.'
    'This feels wrong. I'm going to call him again.'
    Susan tapped her phone and dialled Peter once more.

    The blonde protester was standing a few feet from the main group, placed less than a foot from the face of a policewoman and chanting. The officer stared her down, saying nothing. In a sudden burst of movement a second blonde activist sprang from the back of the pack of the protesters in a stumbling, ungracious sprint.
    'Still not answering,' said Susan.
    The emerging blonde swung the wooden pole her banner was stapled to at the policewoman's face. She had no time to react and it clipped her cheek, sending her spinning. Blood arced through the air on impact and the first blonde shrieked. There was pandemonium. The riot police sprinted towards the scene while the nearer, uniformed officers tackled the assailant. Two male protesters emerged to scuffle, but they too were restrained, their arms twisted behind their backs as they struggled. The rest of the activists dropped their signs and huddled together in a mass by a wall. Most had their hands up. Police and photographers surrounded the cluster. The "Team Edward" placard was caught against a step close to the violent blonde's foot, and as it flapped in the breeze the blood spatter across it was obvious.
    'Jesus,' said Kate, resting her empty coffee cup on the table. 'Idiots.'
    'Have you seen or spoken to Peter at all, since he quit?' asked Susan.
    'No, have you?'
    'No,' said Susan. 'I can't shake this bad feeling.'
    'What?' said Kate, 'that he's slipped after a shower while holding his phone and accidentally took a photo of his junk and then sent it to his all his contacts before he cracked his head? That he's been kidnapped by a Mexican cartel and that was some weird ransom note? That he's killed himself and sent everyone he knows a photo of his dick as some ultimate, pointless "fuck you" protest?'
    There were sirens now, a harmony of sirens. The sun still shone bright, but Susan started shivering.

    Idea

    Volunteer to work with terminally ill children.
    Win their trust with my sense of humour and fairy tale height.
    Be their friend in their time of need.
    Make them smile and laugh.
    After they die, inherit their Lego.

    It was a dark and stormy night

    For the entire day it rained. I didn't see much of it. The only time I ventured out of the house was for a 9pm basketball game. We did not win. After, on the drive home, I filled up with petrol and then walked through the rain to pay. I was wearing my singlet, Jordan shorts and thongs, and steam was still leaving my shoulders as my heat met the cold air.
    The shop attendant asked me "do you play basketball?"

    "Yes," I said.

    "Ok. What pump?"
    "Four," I said, pointing to the number on my singlet.

    After I was home from this adventure I showered. In my musings this year I have posted about the shaver I can use in the shower, as well as how I feel the need to do as many things as once as possible. I recalled these two things while showering, and what followed was my first attempt at shaving and washing myself with a body puff at the same time. I learnt some lessons, but overall it was a positive experience.

    10 Years



    Dear Diary, or, as you will be known henceforth in an attempt to seem less girly and pansy, Bert the MAN journal.

    November 24, 2001


    It was on this day in 2001 that I first had the urge to write things, date them, and then put them on the internet. It was a sunny day, the first of a long summer following my penultimate year of high school. Like most of my creative endeavours it began with the simplest of whims, a phrase of description that popped into my head that I wanted other people to read:
    "[W]e went to Vivek's after some organisation wrangling and ended up there with Sam and Ryan. We crashed there the night, hey, what am I saying? Crash is too cool for us... we slept over and we put on pajamas (sic) and had pillow fights. Perhaps imagine something in between and you'll be fine."

    Fortunately for that whim I had a whole day, nay, a whole summer free to turn that notion into a reality. I spent the afternoon using notepad and Photoshop, creating a horrible mess of colours and tables and ending up with Brad's Summer Journal.

    That's not a pisstake, this is actually what it looked like for the first year.

    That's not a pisstake, this is actually what it looked like for the first year.


    I had been writing things and putting them on the internet before the journal. In the year prior I had sporadically created a newsletter called Brad's Vital Statistics, which I believe further traces its roots to a gag email series I'd sent out in year 9 called Men's Day. After I started sending out BVSs, imitations from Ryan, Sam and Willy emerged to compete. There was some definite rivalry about who had the "superior" publication, and it was my competitive nature to first turn mine from an email into a weekly HTML page, and the same nature that made me think of publishing a daily journal rather than an irregular newsletter. After school finished for the year the competing publications dried up, and I envisioned the Summer Journal as my coup de grâce, the ultimate competition killer. Ten years later and, Sam, Ryan, Willy: I win, biatches.

    Ten years is a long time to consistently publish your thoughts and ideas on the internet. What kind of benefits do you receive in life from meeting your commitment to such a thing? That's something I have pondered, so to celebrate a decade of journaling I thought I would look deeper into what life is like as a practiced journaller.

    The number one benefit of a long running journal is perspective. I do tend to encode my real feelings into a lot of entries cryptically (not all, some are pure introspective info dumps, like this one.) This means that I can read at random my thoughts from any period in the past ten years and immediately access the feelings and state of mind I had at the time. The more I have done this kind of time travel the more apparent it has become to me how insignificant many of life's stressors really are. There are regular problems, and there are life changing problems and the former is much more common than the latter, despite what our minds try to tell us at the time.



    I seem to have close to 10 epiphanies a week, half of which I disregard completely and a few more in which I realise that an earlier epiphany was quite incorrect.

    April 30, 2005

    The second notable advantage of perspective is learning that time is incredibly slow. I'm not kidding. Anyone who tells you that "the years go by so fast" could only believe that because they don't have a monthly summary of everything they've been doing for the past ten years. When you have access to a full journal of your life, and not just an archives listing, it becomes horrifyingly obvious that life is not fast, and that in general our society probably watches too much TV (and reads too many books.)

    The second benefit of journaling is, for me at least, the requirement to justify your beliefs. It's very easy to think you believe or understand something until you're forced to explain it to someone else. And journaling has the added benefit of forcing you to explain it to yourself. It helps to develop wisdom. When I write something about myself, or the way I think something works, the fact that I've posted it is proof that I've considered it deeply. Or that it's 3am and I've just arrived home from Shenanigans.

    Another benefit of writing relatively large quantities of words is the improvement to my spelling and grammar.



    It's not until after you paste a[n] MSN quote into Microsoft Word that you realise how badly we all spell. It's also not until after you look deeply into many things in life that you work out what things are wrong and what things are simply spelt differently in America.

    March 24, 2002


    When I first started writing journal entries my use of English was akin to a lottery pick playing in the starting line up in his rookie season. Sure, there were some moments of brilliance, but overall it was unflattering and befuddling. Ten years of writing for an audience, no matter how tiny that audience has been, has motivated me to spell correctly and train hard in the off-season. Now I am like an experienced role player. I'll occasionally do something brilliant, but I'm mainly going to be picked for games because my fundamentals are rock solid.


    Another side effect of long term journal writing is the mental effects. There's a narrator living in my head. Not many of the journal entries I think of end up published. In fact, 95% of them aren't even written. Instead their spoken inside my head and judged by the faceless panel that filters my thoughts in terms of prose, entertainment and potential for running jokes. My written "voice" is actually the way I think the majority of the time.



    I often catch myself thinking in narrative. Basically the same style most of my entries have been written over the years, that's how I actually think... The problem is that when I catch myself thinking in narrative, I often chide myself for doing so. I scold my mind: 'Who are you talking to!?'


    And then my brain replies 'Well, I often catch myself thinking in narrative. Basically...'

    February 7, 2007


    I don't actually remember what life was like before my inner monologue was always in first person, past tense. If I'm actively engaged in something that requires my full attention it does tend to fade to the background, but at all other times it's there, sometimes to the point where I don't even think I'm the person doing the things I'm doing, I'm just the one watching them happen and providing context for anyone listening. This I actually believe is a little disconcerting at times.



    I was writing this and someone called "Ronnie" rang. They left a message on the answering machine and I said "Heh Heh, Ronnie, what a shit name" and then my brain said "Brad, your name's Ronnie", and then I had to hide the knives.

    BVS 13 - October, 2001

    Finally, a journal is an epic summary of the voyage of self growth that is life. I realised that pretty early on, reading back over my past entries and realising how my ideals, values and life skills all increased or changed. While my grey matter is still reasonably crisp I can usually read between the lines to recall and deduce the events or advice which guided me in a new direction. If I read for long enough I start seeing long, interweaving strands that start at my current characteristics and wind back through time to the events and forces that weaved them. This is like perspective, in that it helps me appreciate the journey of life as the slow, unstoppable thing that it is. It's also a separate "cool" thing, because it's really fascinating to see how simply and repeatedly we are changed, influenced and reprogrammed over the course of our life.



    [Y]esterday I wrote that I was documenting my progress through life... because I keep discovering things about myself and writing "today I discovered that". Like, today I discovered that I didn't know how to gel my hair properly. Alex showed me. He's 14 and he knows how to gel his hair properly, and I didn't. But now I do. Another step towards self discovery.

    April 15, 2004

    The bradism.com archives only go back to early 2004, this is mainly because I was still refining the filter on what is and is not suitable to publish on a journal that you can find by googling my full name. Of course, in the early days it wasn't hosted on a .com domain and everyone used Dogpile. The other reason is obviously so that I can have a second 10 year anniversary of bradism.com in early 2014. It's humorous to note that it's not only I that have changed and grown in the past decade, but my journal has changed and grown too. That's a journey I will spare you the details of for now. For today, happy birthday journal, you have been a most excellent tool in life so far. I'll see you again tomorrow.

    Man Journal Short Cuts

    I'm not sure what physiological characteristic of pre-historic Bonobos makes me feel like less of a man for having a lawn with long grass, but once it grows past a certain length it's a hard one to ignore. Sydney, with it's warm, wet spring means our lawn grows rapidly and, as mentioned earlier, uneconomically when it comes to having a gardener maintain it.

    Last weekend the lawn had reached that height again, and I decided that this time instead of pulling out my wallet I would pull out my penis and man up instead. I drove to Bunnings, put my penis away again, took out my wallet again, and then I bought my first ever lawn mower.

    image 1050 from bradism.com

    This was not only my first lawn mower, but my first attempt at mowing a lawn. And also the first time I've felt solely responsible for the state of a petrol engine.

    When I was speaking to the staff at Bunnings about what I needed to buy beyond a lawn mower in order to make it run he said I could buy petrol from a petrol station and that I should buy a starter pack with oil. First, however, he mentioned that I should remember to buy the oil removal next time I was in, "because you need to change the oil every year, just like a car." And then he paused and stared at me to make sure the expression on my face indicated I understood this very simple concept. Which I didn't, but I recognised the conversation checkpoint and I faked a nod. Then I considered whether or not I should just take my lawnmower with me to the mechanic when I take my car there each year.

    On Sunday morning the sky was clear and the air was warm. I set about assembling my lawn mower, then I filled it with petrol and then I started it. When the engine kicked into life I felt so manly. Seriously, I thought to myself "I feel so fucking manly right now, I can't wait to write about this in my diary."

    Then, I started mowing and suddenly it became very obvious why the gardener would become upset with me every time I made him wait until the grass was super long before he mowed. It was not the same as having a haircut when your hair is long. You need to empty a grass catcher into a bin. A lot. It took me about two hours. I did not receive $100. I need to mow the lawn at least four more times to make this investment into a lawnmower worth more than the cost of having the gardener in each time. I will probably do it every weekend.

    Once the last blade was shortened and the sound of the engine was quietened for the final time I was sweaty, yet satisfied. At the start of the day my masculinity was questioned and my grass was overgrown. Now it was my pubic hairs who had assumed that description.

    image 1051 from bradism.com

    Later on Sunday evening I built my new PC with the parts I bought to replace my old PC. It was not as manly as mowing but everything worked and for the first time in two months I have a PC again (and there is journal jinx potential here, so I am calling it out now so that it doesn't happen. Good.)

    Doing both manly things and nerdy things on the same day made me feel like a sensitive, new age guy. And I tried to make a joke where instead of "having my swag on" I "had my snag on", but it sounded like I'd messed up eating a sandwich at a BBQ so I edited that out.

    A Manly Poem

    Steel
    Porcelain
    Water
    Oxygen
    Wood
    Dirt
    Leaves
    Bark
    Rubber
    Blood
    Grass
    Ants
    Tiles
    Rocks
    Aluminium
    Cement
    Glass
    Paint
    Leather
    Super-absorbent polymers
    Feet
    Limestone
    Plastic
    The Ocean
    Lint
    Disenfectant
    Concrete
    Mats
    Mud
    Polyvinyl chloride
    Moss
    Hair
    A moth
    Cotton
    Paper
    Flowers
    Canvas
    Bricks
    1,4-Dichlorobenzene
    Corrugated Iron
    Floss
    These
    are
    things
    I
    have
    urinated
    on.

    Light Work

    After basketball last night (we won) I was driving through the back-streets of Hurstville. It was the first hours of darkness following a late evening sunset, the brief gasp of time between darkness falling and children's bed times. I passed a few houses that had been done up with smatterings of Christmas lights and posed decorations, but none could be compared to the epic glory of the last holiday lighted house I passed.
    It was a three story McMansion, with its façade adorned like it had been vomited on by a cat who ate a whole kilogram of skittles. Ropes of lights shot out in every direction; thousands of bulbs strung up in a three-dimensional web. Trapped beneath that netting, the front yard was full of reindeer a snowmen and half a dozen santa clauses, all ablaze in the down-lights, and wrapped in fairy light incandescence. The courtyard looked like the acid had kicked in while you were plummeting to your death from a helicopter above Tokyo. In the eleven months I've lived in Sydney it was the most amazing thing I have seen.

    Not the lights, the fact that something like this was on display and it wasn't surrounded by people taking photos of it with expensive DSLR cameras.


    After I arrived home and showered, Vanessa and I put up our Christmas tree. And then I did take a photo of it with my inexpensive DSLR camera. Then Vanessa put a mirror next to it to make it look like we had more tree.

    image 1052 from bradism.com

    Away From Home

    Recently I've been washing my mouth with Listerine after a giant bottle of it appeared in our bathroom. Last night - as I spat a shot of alcohol, saliva and blue colouring into the sink - I thought to myself "You know I really don't mind the taste of Listerine." This immediately led me to think "You know, I would do alright as a hobo."

    I'm not saying being a hobo is easy, but I've observed enough in my life to realise that, if I was to lose everything, I would do better than average at being one. I've walked around the cities and suburbs of Australia enough to note a few life hacks for the homeless, hobo-hacks if you will:

    First, move to Adelaide where you can return empty containers to depots to make money. Also the cost of living there is lower than any other mainland capital city!
    Camp on the River Torrens, and instead of searching the city of bottles and cans instead hit up the streets of Mile End and Hindmarsh on recycling days to earn the days wage.
    Spend money on Listerine, and use it for intoxication. Do this during the day rather than at night, so that I can wake up early while the other hobos are still asleep and be first to claim the new day's bottles.
    Once a week, barbecue a swan for dinner.

    I'm still working out the best way to combine being a hobo with cooking bulk meals.

    Merry Christmas Everyone!

    Merry Christmas Dwight Howard Playing Cricket During The NBA Lockout Gingerbread Man!

    image 1053 from bradism.com

    P.S. Burge, you still owe me a chopping board.

    Christmas Dale

    It had been a while since Dale was last in the office. He was making a return from a week of holidays and was set to immediate unease upon exiting the lift. There were colourful lights strung up betwixt the cubicles, flashing off and on in chains of random colours. Red, green and blue splashed the walls. The shiny, metal water cooler in the corner of the walls reflected sparkling to the periphery no matter which way Dale looked.

    It had been a while since Dale was last in the office. He was making a return from a week of holidays and was set to immediate unease upon exiting the lift. There were colourful lights strung up betwixt the cubicles, flashing off and on in chains of random colours. Red, green and blue splashed the walls. The shiny, metal water cooler in the corner of the walls reflected sparkling to the periphery no matter which way Dale looked.



    "Merry Christmas!" cried Tina Cratchit, the new receptionist, as Dale passed by her desk on the way into the glittering fray.

    "Merry Christmas!" cried Tina Cratchit, the new receptionist, as Dale passed by her desk on the way into the glittering fray.



    Dale backtracked and turned to her, "What day is it?"<br />
"November the seventh. It's a Mondale," she said.<br />
"Oh. Good," he said. "I was afraid I might have used up a month's worth of leave and not remembered any of it."

    Dale backtracked and turned to her, "What day is it?"
    "November the seventh. It's a Mondale," she said.
    "Oh. Good," he said. "I was afraid I might have used up a month's worth of leave and not remembered any of it."



    Dale walked into his pod and found his cubicle neighbours ornamenting a miniature Christmas tree on his desk.<br />
"Oh, you're back," said Miguel, "do you mind having this here?"<br />
The tree was two feet tall and obscured most of his monitor.<br />
"I would be against this in the last week of December, let alone in November," said Dale.

    Dale walked into his pod and found his cubicle neighbours ornamenting a miniature Christmas tree on his desk.
    "Oh, you're back," said Miguel, "do you mind having this here?"
    The tree was two feet tall and obscured most of his monitor.
    "I would be against this in the last week of December, let alone in November," said Dale.



    "But Dale," said Harold, looking at him with pleading eyes, "Christmas?"

    "But Dale," said Harold, looking at him with pleading eyes, "Christmas?"



    "Humbug," said Dale. He raised a palm to slap the tree down, but hesitated, and then lifted it gently and carried it to the desk next to his.

    "Humbug," said Dale. He raised a palm to slap the tree down, but hesitated, and then lifted it gently and carried it to the desk next to his.



    Dale sat to work while behind him his colleagues continued to drape colourful decorations across every available surface. He had intended to kill time by slowly reading all the emails from the last week in chronological order, but the natter of the others distracted him. Eventually they ran out of things to decorate and moved on. Only Joe stayed behind.

    Dale sat to work while behind him his colleagues continued to drape colourful decorations across every available surface. He had intended to kill time by slowly reading all the emails from the last week in chronological order, but the natter of the others distracted him. Eventually they ran out of things to decorate and moved on. Only Joe stayed behind.



    "Dale, one thing?" he said.<br />
"Yes?"<br />
"What you said before, about the last week before Christmas. I just wanted to check you know. There's a Christmas Shutdown here."<br />
"A Christmas Shutdown? What does that mean?"<br />
"The company requires that we all take annual leave over Christmas and New Years, from December 12 to January 6."

    "Dale, one thing?" he said.
    "Yes?"
    "What you said before, about the last week before Christmas. I just wanted to check you know. There's a Christmas Shutdown here."
    "A Christmas Shutdown? What does that mean?"
    "The company requires that we all take annual leave over Christmas and New Years, from December 12 to January 6."



    "They force us?" said Dale. "I didn't know this, and I just used up all my annual leave!"<br />
"They will make you use more, in advance." Joe said. "Unless you can get an exception to work through."<br />
"Do many people ask for exceptions?"<br />
"Some ask," said Joe, "few succeed."<br />
"Who do I need to ask?"

    "They force us?" said Dale. "I didn't know this, and I just used up all my annual leave!"
    "They will make you use more, in advance." Joe said. "Unless you can get an exception to work through."
    "Do many people ask for exceptions?"
    "Some ask," said Joe, "few succeed."
    "Who do I need to ask?"



    "Karl."

    "Karl."



    Dale knocked on Karl's office door with two fat, dull thuds.<br />
"Come in," said Karl.

    Dale knocked on Karl's office door with two fat, dull thuds.
    "Come in," said Karl.



    Dale swung the door open and found Karl and Tina on opposite sides of an enormous desk.<br />
Karl's office was dark, the lack of light made it seem cavernous and foreboding. Contrarily, there was no Christmas decorations, which made Dale feel more comfortable.

    Dale swung the door open and found Karl and Tina on opposite sides of an enormous desk.
    Karl's office was dark, the lack of light made it seem cavernous and foreboding. Contrarily, there was no Christmas decorations, which made Dale feel more comfortable.



    Tina left as Dale walked in.<br />
"Let me guess," said Karl. "You think the office is too cold as well."

    Tina left as Dale walked in.
    "Let me guess," said Karl. "You think the office is too cold as well."



    "No," said Dale. "I wanted to talk to you about the Christmas shutdown. Can I please be exempted from taking leave? I..."

    "No," said Dale. "I wanted to talk to you about the Christmas shutdown. Can I please be exempted from taking leave? I..."



    "Stop," said Karl. There are no exceptions to the Christmas closure. The company feels it is very important for all employees to spend time with friends and family, relax and recharge for a successful and profitable 2012 financial year."

    "Stop," said Karl. There are no exceptions to the Christmas closure. The company feels it is very important for all employees to spend time with friends and family, relax and recharge for a successful and profitable 2012 financial year."



    "But," said Dale, "I don't have any family. Or any leave, because I just used all my hours up last week, which means I don't need resting or recharging. I can start delivering results and sustaining... sustaining..."<br />
Dale was starting to panic. The Christmas weeks were usually slow, lazy days and the nearer Christmas was, the fewer co-workers he had to deal with. It was like a holiday from work at the end of each year, and the thought that he would have to use his leave and miss it was terrifying.<br />
"Growth," said Karl.<br />
"Growth!" said Dale, finally. "Growth three weeks ahead of schedule."

    "But," said Dale, "I don't have any family. Or any leave, because I just used all my hours up last week, which means I don't need resting or recharging. I can start delivering results and sustaining... sustaining..."
    Dale was starting to panic. The Christmas weeks were usually slow, lazy days and the nearer Christmas was, the fewer co-workers he had to deal with. It was like a holiday from work at the end of each year, and the thought that he would have to use his leave and miss it was terrifying.
    "Growth," said Karl.
    "Growth!" said Dale, finally. "Growth three weeks ahead of schedule."



    Karl carefully placed his papers on his desk and looked at Dale with a serious expression. "You speak of growth, and profits, but what about meeting the quarterly targets in your life? What about Christmas spirit? You can't work over Christmas, Dale. That's like a child not going to sleep on Christmas Eve."<br />
"Christmas spirit?" Dale repeated. The phrase from a man who dedicated an entire drawer of his desk to socks caught him off-guard. In his mind he could feel the weeks of lighter train patronage, more acceptable thresholds of stubble and polo shirts, and shorter queues for the microwave slipping away. "Christmas... spirit..."

    Karl carefully placed his papers on his desk and looked at Dale with a serious expression. "You speak of growth, and profits, but what about meeting the quarterly targets in your life? What about Christmas spirit? You can't work over Christmas, Dale. That's like a child not going to sleep on Christmas Eve."
    "Christmas spirit?" Dale repeated. The phrase from a man who dedicated an entire drawer of his desk to socks caught him off-guard. In his mind he could feel the weeks of lighter train patronage, more acceptable thresholds of stubble and polo shirts, and shorter queues for the microwave slipping away. "Christmas... spirit..."



    "OK, look," Karl's posture relaxed a little. "I can tell you're not buying this bullshit. You're sharp, Dale, so I'm willing to level with you. When we have everyone on leave at the same time the company saves money. A lot of money. We can cancel the cleaners and the milk deliveries, we can stop running the air-conditioners. Payroll can do their December reports when they do November's, and the CFO is given a report that shows our leave liability is down a thousand hours. Your astuteness impresses me Dale, this just reinforces the potential I see in you. Unfortunately you will still need to take those weeks off."<br />
Dale sighed, thanked Karl and slunk back to his desk.

    "OK, look," Karl's posture relaxed a little. "I can tell you're not buying this bullshit. You're sharp, Dale, so I'm willing to level with you. When we have everyone on leave at the same time the company saves money. A lot of money. We can cancel the cleaners and the milk deliveries, we can stop running the air-conditioners. Payroll can do their December reports when they do November's, and the CFO is given a report that shows our leave liability is down a thousand hours. Your astuteness impresses me Dale, this just reinforces the potential I see in you. Unfortunately you will still need to take those weeks off."
    Dale sighed, thanked Karl and slunk back to his desk.



    "Did it work?" asked Joe.<br />
"No."<br />
"I'm sorry to hear that, buddy," he said.

    "Did it work?" asked Joe.
    "No."
    "I'm sorry to hear that, buddy," he said.



    The day passed, then the week, and then the month.<br />
The last day before closure came quickly. The start and finish times of each day crept closer together and the phrase "we'll work on that after the break" was heard more frequently. Those who had not learned the stress-relief strategies of multiple daily coffees and toilet naps started to crack and requested even earlier starts to their leave.

    The day passed, then the week, and then the month.
    The last day before closure came quickly. The start and finish times of each day crept closer together and the phrase "we'll work on that after the break" was heard more frequently. Those who had not learned the stress-relief strategies of multiple daily coffees and toilet naps started to crack and requested even earlier starts to their leave.



    At 3pm the night before Christmas closure Dale left the office along with the few remaining workers still billing their time.<br />
"Merry Christmas, Dale," said Tina. "Sorry you're forced to use up your leave.

    At 3pm the night before Christmas closure Dale left the office along with the few remaining workers still billing their time.
    "Merry Christmas, Dale," said Tina. "Sorry you're forced to use up your leave.



    By 3:30pm the office was empty. Only the fluorescent light behind Karl's office door stayed lit.

    By 3:30pm the office was empty. Only the fluorescent light behind Karl's office door stayed lit.



    On the first day of involuntary leave Dale awoke, frowning. The light through his bedroom window was glowing brighter than it ever should have. He walked to the window to find the reason for the extra brightness and he heard the carols before he even pushed open the shutters.<br />
The streets below were covered with snow. Under a clear sky it reflected the sunlight everywhere.

    On the first day of involuntary leave Dale awoke, frowning. The light through his bedroom window was glowing brighter than it ever should have. He walked to the window to find the reason for the extra brightness and he heard the carols before he even pushed open the shutters.
    The streets below were covered with snow. Under a clear sky it reflected the sunlight everywhere.



    Dale's colleagues had gathered on the snow below. Harold, Marcus and Tina were singing carols as they stood in front of a giant Christmas tree. Dale's eyebrow rose in curiosity.

    Dale's colleagues had gathered on the snow below. Harold, Marcus and Tina were singing carols as they stood in front of a giant Christmas tree. Dale's eyebrow rose in curiosity.



    I was working with Joe and Bry on a snowman. Miguel was behind a small hill, digging in the snow. I waved up at Dale and called him to join us.<br />
Dale hurried downstairs and found himself looking up at the towering tree, confused yet intrigued.

    I was working with Joe and Bry on a snowman. Miguel was behind a small hill, digging in the snow. I waved up at Dale and called him to join us.
    Dale hurried downstairs and found himself looking up at the towering tree, confused yet intrigued.



    Miguel saw Dale arrive and ducked behind a shrub to retrieve his pile of snowballs...

    Miguel saw Dale arrive and ducked behind a shrub to retrieve his pile of snowballs...



    ...However, before he could launch one at Dale a pre-emptive strike flew from Joe and thunked into his flannel shirt.

    ...However, before he could launch one at Dale a pre-emptive strike flew from Joe and thunked into his flannel shirt.



    Everyone laughed, and for the first time that Christmas Closure, Dale smiled.

    Everyone laughed, and for the first time that Christmas Closure, Dale smiled.



    After the snowballs were spent, Santa Claus arrived and called everyone around.

    After the snowballs were spent, Santa Claus arrived and called everyone around.



    "Ho ho ho," he laughed. "Merry Christmas Bonus!" He passed out envelopes from his backpack to each member of the team.<br />
"Thanks, Santa," said Joe.<br />
"Thanks," said Tina.<br />
They all smiled at each other.<br />
"This is the best Christmas closure ever," said Harold. Everyone agreed.

    "Ho ho ho," he laughed. "Merry Christmas Bonus!" He passed out envelopes from his backpack to each member of the team.
    "Thanks, Santa," said Joe.
    "Thanks," said Tina.
    They all smiled at each other.
    "This is the best Christmas closure ever," said Harold. Everyone agreed.



    "Hey, everyone's here except Karl," said Bry. "Is he late?"

    "Hey, everyone's here except Karl," said Bry. "Is he late?"



    "Maybe he's on the naughty list?" laughed Joe, and he looked at Santa for confirmation.

    "Maybe he's on the naughty list?" laughed Joe, and he looked at Santa for confirmation.



    Dale, however, knew exactly where Karl would be: in his office, preparing tenders and writing cost-benefit analyses. All the office lights would be in power saving mode, the bins would be unemptied and in a few more days a thick carpet of stubble would cover his cheeks and be creeping down his neck.

    Dale, however, knew exactly where Karl would be: in his office, preparing tenders and writing cost-benefit analyses. All the office lights would be in power saving mode, the bins would be unemptied and in a few more days a thick carpet of stubble would cover his cheeks and be creeping down his neck.



    Santa tapped Dale on the shoulder, breaking the daydream.<br />
"For you, Dale," he said and handed him an envelope.<br />
Dale looked inside and found his Christmas bonus. He smiled, along with the rest of his colleagues. Perhaps an enforced Christmas closure wasn't so bad after all.

    Santa tapped Dale on the shoulder, breaking the daydream.
    "For you, Dale," he said and handed him an envelope.
    Dale looked inside and found his Christmas bonus. He smiled, along with the rest of his colleagues. Perhaps an enforced Christmas closure wasn't so bad after all.



    "Screw Karl," cried Tina. "Merry Christmas to the rest of us!"<br />
"Merry Christmas!" the office workers said to each other. "Merry Christmas."<br />
Santa walked away while they returned to frolic in the snow.

    "Screw Karl," cried Tina. "Merry Christmas to the rest of us!"
    "Merry Christmas!" the office workers said to each other. "Merry Christmas."
    Santa walked away while they returned to frolic in the snow.



    Around the corner, the red hat and fake beard removed, Karl smiled to himself.

    Around the corner, the red hat and fake beard removed, Karl smiled to himself.

    Note: My jQuery photo viewer thing is home-cooked and a tad buggy. If images fail to load then going back and forward again should fix the issue.

    A non jQuery copy of this story can be found here.

    This story is dedicated to Vanessa who put up with me spending all Christmas Eve playing with Lego.

    Merry Christmas from the bradism.com team!

    image 1090 from bradism.com

    Man Plans

    Last weekend I assembled a BBQ. Like most of our middle class possessions it arrived at our house in a flat-pack with only the briefest assembly instructions. They were, essentially: One, use twelve bolts to attach the rear legs to the front base; Two, do the inverse in parallel to the aft side burner; Three, BBQ! Great...
    Assembling the BBQ took about four hours, and even then it's not truly complete, it just reached a state where I could cook a steak on it. Every beer I drink while it stands incomplete makes me feel guilty. Although cooking steaks helped ease that emasculation somewhat.

    Following these events I mowed the grass with our new lawnmower. I am slightly fond of this chore, which is an attitude that I accept will probably change over time. For now mowing is a rather simple operation that, when compared to the technical challenges I face from the integrated components that make up my primary work environment, relaxes me with its simplicity. I still feel this way even after the mower died on me twice the last time I used it, mainly because of the satisfaction that came from diagnosing and fixing the issues myself (the more complicated of the two was "not enough petrol".)

    I'm a little surprised at how rapidly I've become enamoured with doing these traditionally manly things in life. I never saw myself as a "hands on" man, particularly after I nearly burnt my Commodore to the ground when trying to change my coolant a few years back. The success of shorter grass and succulent meat is obviously a greater motivator than smoke marks on the inside of the carport roof. I like the way these new skills make me feel. Bunnings is also pleased about my DIY (once, but own the tools forever) approach to life. Who knows what I may do in 2012, I may even learn how to fish.

    The Music of 2011

    I'm not the music aficionado I once was. I don't download every new release that comes out these days, nor do I keep track of what's charting on the blogosphere. The music I've listened to in 2011 has primarily served the purpose of distracting me or energising me rather than explore any deeper facets of my soul. I didn't have time for that. I usually just needed a beat to carry my feet to the station before the train left, something ambient and echoey to write scripts to, or some hip hop with ego to help trick me into thinking I'm somehow superior to the other thousand people in my carriage who are also travelling home from work.

    Thus, I won't present any sort of "Best of 2011" list of music to conclude this year. Frankly, I know that past Brad would almost be embarrassed by the charting some of my most listened to tracks this year reached. If I could choose a better song today I could put it on loop enough times between now and Saturday to make it my most played song of the year, but I haven't even picked a candidate. My number one song of 2011 wasn't one of London's Chase & Status' cheesy electro-dubstep-hop tunes, it wasn't the cheesy, Aussie indie-pop of Architecture in Helsinki; nor was it one of Florence's down-tempo pop anthems or The Lonely Island being hilarious. Not even the juxtaposed, jewel-encrusted rap juggernauts of Jay-Z and Kanye West did well enough to upset my number one played track of 2011, which was, a mashup Nelly's "Number 1" and Oh Land's "Sun of a Gun". Seriously, musical taste? That's the song you wanted to listen to the most over the past twelve months? Ah well, I guess it could have been a lot worse.

    Here's a slightly more respectable top 10 albums list that I'll post now to remind me of this year when the bradism.com archives outlast Youtube's.

    10. Gotye - Making Mirrors
    09. M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
    08. Architecture In Helsinki - Moment Bends
    07. Chase & Status - No More Idols
    06. The Throne - Watch the Throne
    05. Florence + the Machine - Ceremonials
    04. The Rural Alberta Advantage - Departing
    03. SBTRKT - SBTRKT
    02. Beastie Boys - Hot Sauce Committee Part Two
    01. Foster The People - Torches

    Casual Friday Breakfast

    Not taking leave during the period between Christmas and New Years isn't the greatest thing, but it does make for slightly more relaxed work than usual. The fact that the last few weeks have been the sunniest for months helps contribute to this feeling.

    Normally on work days I only have the time to gulp down whatever cereal I mix into a bowl. While I adore cereal, I miss having the time to enjoy breakfast.

    Thus, for no more important reason than that, I decided to introduce a new concept into my life which I call "Casual Friday Breakfast". Based on the corporate psychology shovel from which it takes it's name, casual Friday breakfast is about taking a slightly more relaxed attitude towards breakfast on Fridays with more room to express your personality.

    My first casual Friday breakfast was mainly inspired by Jason Chua who recently lost his wisdom teeth. This was an experience I suspect Chow was actually looking forward to as an opportunity to take sick leave and blend as many meals as he could think of with his blender. I also enjoy blending things, and a few weeks ago I realised that adding peanut butter to my banana smoothies wasn't all that far away from making a banana smoothie and throwing in a handful of Reese's Pieces.

    Thus, for my first Casual Friday Breakfast I made a Reese's Pieces Banana Smoothie.

    The ingredients included milk, vanilla yogurt, a banana, a tray of ice and six Reese's Pieces.

    The ingredients included milk, vanilla yogurt, a banana, a tray of ice and six Reese's Pieces.



    After adding the candy the yogurt began to glow as if lit from within by a holy light.

    After adding the candy the yogurt began to glow as if lit from within by a holy light.



    Action Photo

    Action Photo



    Ready for reviewing.

    Ready for reviewing.

    Pros:
    The peanut butter in the candy mixed in as well as normal peanut butter and the overall taste was enjoyable. The chocolate did not blend in as well as I expected, probably because I didn't blend it long enough. As such it wasn't very chocolately although there were many bursts of tiny chocolate chunks which tasted delicious.
    This smoothie was very easy to make.

    Cons:
    The aforementioned quick blending time meant that there was a lot of wasted chocolate at the bottom of a jug. If I had poured the mix into a cup and used a straw instead of drinking directly from the jug this might not have been a problem.
    Reese's Pieces are nice however the peanut butter in them has a chemical after-taste not found in natural peanut butter, it was a tad off putting.

    Improvement in Productivity
    I added a whole tray of ice to this smoothie, which decreased my productivity because I had to wear a jumper while drinking it, then change back into a T-shirt afterwards. Also I had to pee earlier than usual thanks to the rapid absorption of cold water by the lining of my stomach.
    However, the sugar spike of the chocolate made getting started on my work easier and the low GI of the banana kept the energy levels high for most of the morning.

    Casual Friday Rating:
    One compliment in the elevator on your music taste based on the band on your T-shirt out of five.