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?


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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.


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

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


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.