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.


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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 fa├žade 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.


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!


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.