Top Albums of 2012

1. Alt-J - An Awesome Wave
Just pleasing all around. Nothing really stood out as number one, the top 6 are all about par for me.

2. Japandroids - Celebration Rock
Pleasing in a different, less fancy way.

3. Miike Snow - Happy To You
Two of the best songs of the year, Paddling Out and Bavarian, the rest of the album was solid as well.

4. Hot Chip - In Our Heads
I like the love theme on this one.

5. Sleigh Bells - Reign of Terror
Pretty awesome.

6. Purity Ring - Shrines
Lived up to the hype for me, some mesmerizing songs. Sounded like what female-voxed pop music would have been imagined as twenty years ago by David Bowie.

7. Killer Mike - R.A.P. Music
El-P's mental beats, Killer Mikes angry passion, good guests. A few average tracks but a really solid Hip-Hop album in most ways that you can use the word "solid".

8. The Big Pink - Future This
I reckon this one went a bit overlooked, some glammy, electro-rock tunes. Many were very catchy.

9. Grimes - Visions
Did not blow me away, but I never disliked having it on in the background.

10. fun. - Some Nights
I really liked The Format, and this obviously reminds me of them.

11. El-P - Cancer 4 Cure
I liked Sleep When You're Dead a lot more, but this was good stuff from El-P, but he sounds a bit more jaded now, rather than idealistic.

12. Bloc Party - Four
Was loud and catchy enough to be good.

13. Plug 1 & Plug 2 - First Serve
Two Thirds of De La Soul delivering their high quality, super-fun Hip Hop story.

14. Passion Pit - Gossamer
A little bit too squeaky clean, but fun nonetheless.

15. Grizzly Bear - Shields
Created a nice ambience.

16. Matt & Kim - Lightning
A strong, power-pop punch but aside from the first few tracks this one got old real quick.

17. Django Django - Django Django
Some funky stuff.

18. Ramona Falls - Prophet
This was better than the Menomena album by far.

19. Santigold - Master of My Make-Believe
Santigold tried a few new things, most of it worked. She has a great voice.

20. Beach House - Bloom
More good ambience with some nice shoegazey pedal work.

21. Aesop Rock - Skelethon
Liked the lyrics but most of the beats felt flat.

22. Plaster - Let It All Out
This was fun! And from Montreal. I don't know why this is listed as House/Techno/Trance.

23. Quakers - Quakers
No doubt there is some filler on this 41 track album, but some excellent morsels in between.

24. Yeasayer - Fragrant World
A more introspective, slower follow up to Odd Blood, but had its moments.

25. Mumford & Sons - Babel
Mumford does a really good job of making rocking banjo-folk.

26. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis - The Heist
27. Divine Fits - A Thing Called Divine Fits
28. TNGHT - TNGHT
29. The Tallest Man On Earth - There's No Leaving Now
30. The xx - Coexist
31. DIIV - Oshin


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Sydney Heatwave Live Updates

08:06 Went for a walk
09:51 Looked out the window at weather
11:03 Made a coffee
16:44 Decided it would be good to do a load of washing
19:11 Regretfully ate a third of an old Christmas pudding
20:04 Made another coffee
23:59 Journal Entry

It was 42 degrees in Sydney today. I think this was partly my doing, as last week I'd noticed Adelaide's typical heat wave and I'd reminisced with some nostalgia about my unairconditioned times in that city in those temperatures.

In Sydney, 42 degrees is a big event. Definitely important enough for the Sydney Morning Herald website to have a dynamic, interactive front page article that constantly updates with new stories about how hot it is. I hope that The Advertiser hasn't started doing this since I've been gone.

There's a lot of things being inflated beyond their proportions in the media these days. People who obviously saw the East Coast centric media whinging about the hot weather sent me messages to make sure I was alright. I don't remember anyone checking that I was okay in the middle of Adelaide's five day stretches of forty plus. There was nothing on the web in those heat wave to recommend not making a spicy curry. You just learned these things for yourself.

I enjoyed today's weather. As midnight closed in I sat on my balcony deck enjoying the warm night air, resisting the urge to drink a beer. It felt like Summer had finally arrived.

Vanity

It's a cliché, but I have a good side. Aesthetically. Especially when my hair is short. From my left my most striking features are my square jawline, focussed yet mischievous eyes, a nose that is... vigilant... Spin me around 180 degrees and an explosion of a cowlick combined with a trio of distinctive moles changes my whole demeanour. My right eye swims in a sea of vacant skin, stripping my steely expression of confidence away and leaving a more startled, weary looking gaze. Like a kindergartener's drawing: No straight lines, curious design choices.

I've only really noticed this difference in sides recently. Currently my primary toilet is installed below a large mirror and, if there's one thing I do consistently in life, it is not look down while I'm urinating. What I've learned from having this mirror is that my face looks really good when I'm doing a wee. Especially when I'm looking at my good side. Staring back at me is a man who is confident, unworried by the task at hand. Ready for whatever life may throw at him. He's proud. He's smiling, coolly. He is in total control, but he's relaxed.

This is a slight over-share I guess, but if you could see me, you'd understand why I'm mentioning it. Every time I see this expression on my face I can only wonder: why isn't this my driver's license photo? My passport ID? My LinkedIn profile pic? Before me is the face of a man you'd trust, you'd hire. A man you'd believe in. A man you might die for.

And then I finish. I turn to my left to wash my hands and I'm confronted by my right side. My bad side, and then all that vanity disappears down the drain.

New Years Eve in Pictures

image 1253 from bradism.com


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?

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Back to Work

I flew into a sodden, gloomy Sydney yesterday afternoon as an ex-tropical cyclone lashed the city with ex-tropical holiday weather. Okay, alluding that my trip to Adelaide was a tropical holiday might be a reach - although I did see two different types of palm trees there - but there was nothing subtle about the weather that book-ended my vacation. It started with winds directly from the sun in Melbourne twelve days ago, and ended as described above.

The in-between bits were figuratively kaleidoscopic, featuring many many colours: blue courts, turquoise shorts, yellow shirts, red flags, green shoes, pink feet. So, when I had to choose my outfit for my first day back in the office I forewent subtlety and wore a plain, white business shirt.

Plain white is the most average of business shirt designs. No patterns, no checks, wearing it makes me an interchangeable cog in the white-collar work force. To complement the shirt I chose a pair of charcoal pants from my collection of trousers. I always encode my feelings and emotions about the day in the colour of pants that I wear. Charcoal means I'm feeling optimistic. Silver means I'm confident. Light black is for when I'm feeling expectant, peppercorn is for days I'm jaunty. I wear steel when I'm particularly self-assured, ash when I'm feeling fanciful, and I wear my slate pants when all my other trousers are in the wash.

Work went fine, I didn't get rained on much, I bought two things of yoghurt, and exhibited self-control around the coffee machine. Unfortunately after skimming through 500 emails there wasn't a lot to distract me, and I was in that situation where you can still remember all the things that your time would better be spent doing.

I was walking towards the kitchen at one point and I heard a clattering. Instantly I recognised it as the sound of muesli being spilled into a hard, plastic bowl and after rounding the corner I proved to myself that my harmony with cereal is as sharp as it was before my trip. And then I realised that a white shirt is technically every single colour at once!

Tennis

Before I met Vanessa I thought the primary purpose of tennis balls was to make backyard cricket more accessible and less destructive..

Federer

Federer



Tennising

Tennising



image 1256 from bradism.com


The Stan match.

The Stan match.



Tense moments.

Tense moments.



Light angles.

Light angles.



Djokovic with two balls at once.. cheating!</p>
<p>This was the moment I realised something amazing about tennis balls.</p>
<p>If you put a second tennis ball up your underwear during backyard cricket you can quickly continue the game when the first ball you bowl disappears over the fence.

Djokovic with two balls at once.. cheating!

This was the moment I realised something amazing about tennis balls.

If you put a second tennis ball up your underwear during backyard cricket you can quickly continue the game when the first ball you bowl disappears over the fence.



Apartmentalised

I haven't been living in my fancy apartment long enough to work out which is the half-flush and which is the full, but my first experience of apartment living has been revelatory in other ways. First revelation, it only takes about a week to adjust to soft closing cupboards and drawers. You realise this the first time you close a normally-hinged cupboard or toilet after that first week. It took about two weeks to lose the concept of "bin night". It took about five seconds to forget the importance of lawn maintenance.

I found it interesting that in my fiction writing of the past decade almost all of my characters have lived in apartments, despite me having very little experience with them (in fact, I went to an apartment once last year and I mentally took notes on what apartments were actually like, for future reference.) I think the reason all my characters lived in apartments was because they all worked in cities and by making them live in apartments next to their work I didn't have to write about their commutes, meaning I could sidestep any temptation to make them catch public transport and dwell on the microcosm of society that was crammed behind the automatically closing doors.

And, other than having an apartment that is so well insulated that fruit ripens in less than a day with the doors closed, apartment living is not much different to house living. Although some days I do have déjà vu-esque connections to Balboa Towers lifestyle.

My People

Still, every time I'm at a concert and the lead singer cries out "thank you Sydney!" or "We love you Sydney!" my first thought is, "wait.. Don't you mean Adelaide?"

Seriously

Sometimes I feel like the only trainer in Unova that thought of using six Pokemon and making them all different types.

Well, me and this guy.

Apartmentalised 2

Back to Front

Some of the boxer-briefs I have in regular rotation have no tags. They had their brand and size printed on the inside of the butt, straight on the cotton with whatever that fabric-printing transfer stuff is that rubs off clothes quickly (particularly when you sit on that part of the clothes a lot). Now it's gone.

I have come to terms with the fact that when I put underpants on I will sometimes have to put mental effort into determining which side is front and which side is back. I work that out by comparing the shape of the stitching, trying to recognise either "crotch" or "seat". Rather than be annoyed by this I've convinced myself that this forced processing is a beneficial cognitive exercise for my mind. I have to rotate polygons in my head to determine the shape, it's like brain training. Not quite a Sudoku, but enough to hopefully keep my mind that little bit sharper as it ploughs on towards thirty and beyond. Maybe it won't help with problem solving and memory so much, but as I age I should get really good at putting my underpants on the right way around.
Anyway, this morning I put my underpants on backwards.

Reflections

Sometimes when I look out the window of my apartment my eye is drawn to a distracting, gleam in the distance. Every sunset this massive, random reflector would burn yellow. At one point in the year it was illuminating the entire living room with a jaundiced glow.

Sometimes when I look out the window of my apartment my eye is drawn to a distracting, gleam in the distance. Every sunset this massive, random reflector would burn yellow. At one point in the year it was illuminating the entire living room with a jaundiced glow.


Within its effervescence I had no idea what this structure could be. Was it some strange street sign? a work of art? Some obscure sports equipment or target left as a legacy of the Olympic Games?

Today I decided to go for a walk to find out.

It was a massive, random reflector.

It was a massive, random reflector.

Summer Died

image 1265 from bradism.com

Foot Commutes

I’ve lived in a different house every February for the past 6 years. It’s funny how life goes. You do the same walk to the train station or to work so regularly that you could do it blindfolded, then the instant you move you never need to do it again.
For nostalgia’s sake I decided I wanted a record of all my daily foot commutes in phocumentary form. Preferably before housing developments and science change the way they look too much. Chronologically that would be: Hawthorndene, Mile End, North Adelaide, Engadine, Hurstville, Homebush Bay. I’m not going to post them in that order though, for multiple reasons. Instead, first is going to be North Adelaide, a series of photos I took late in 2012.

Provost Street

My front door in 2009 and 2010.

My front door in 2009 and 2010.



The first thing I would see when leaving the world, or re-entering it.

The first thing I would see when leaving the world, or re-entering it.



This footpath looks pretty, although I was usually walking on the actual road at this point due to it being a no-through road and the footpath being roofed by overhanging branches.

This footpath looks pretty, although I was usually walking on the actual road at this point due to it being a no-through road and the footpath being roofed by overhanging branches.



One of the reasons I photographed North Adelaide first is because it’s one of the nicer daily walks I've been privileged to have.

One of the reasons I photographed North Adelaide first is because it’s one of the nicer daily walks I've been privileged to have.



There were lots of historical buildings to see each day.

There were lots of historical buildings to see each day.



I liked some more than others.

I liked some more than others.



Who says there's no exciting things to see in Adelaide?

Who says there's no exciting things to see in Adelaide?



At the intersection of MacKinnon Parade and Finniss Street I would leave the surface streets and walk the rest of the way through Adelaide’s green belt.

At the intersection of MacKinnon Parade and Finniss Street I would leave the surface streets and walk the rest of the way through Adelaide’s green belt.



I never knew what this large metal protrusion was on the top of this nondescript storage building. It always reminded me of a rocket base.

I never knew what this large metal protrusion was on the top of this nondescript storage building. It always reminded me of a rocket base.



About this point on my walk the Adelaide CBD came into view through gaps in the trees and across the North Adelaide sports fields.

About this point on my walk the Adelaide CBD came into view through gaps in the trees and across the North Adelaide sports fields.



My walk then took me past some of Adelaide’s most distinctive manmade features.

My walk then took me past some of Adelaide’s most distinctive manmade features.



As well as it’s most distinctive natural features.

As well as it’s most distinctive natural features.



Past Adelaide Oval.

Past Adelaide Oval.



And well maintained grasslands. The full-time landscapers definitely recognised me.

And well maintained grasslands. The full-time landscapers definitely recognised me.



For a brief moment I would return to the streets to cross City Bridge and catch a glimpse of the Intercontinental, which was essentially my destination.

For a brief moment I would return to the streets to cross City Bridge and catch a glimpse of the Intercontinental, which was essentially my destination.



After crossing the water it was down the stairs and under the bridge and along the Torrens the rest of the way to North Terrace.

After crossing the water it was down the stairs and under the bridge and along the Torrens the rest of the way to North Terrace.



The view on the way towards City Bridge from the office.

The view on the way towards City Bridge from the office.



Swan poop, one of the common features of my daily commute.

Swan poop, one of the common features of my daily commute.



Almost there, one final stretch through the weird tunnels and riverside architecture that probably won’t survive the oval/footbridge upgrade.

Almost there, one final stretch through the weird tunnels and riverside architecture that probably won’t survive the oval/footbridge upgrade.



Then down the path to North Terrace. For some reason the bradism.com logo has been removed from my office, no idea why.

Then down the path to North Terrace. For some reason the bradism.com logo has been removed from my office, no idea why.



Brick

There's a basketball ring on a half-court that I walk by on the way to and from the train stop each day. I won't describe it in too much detail, because I'm sure there'll be a photo of it someday soon. In the morning it usually stands alone, the rising sun banking off the backboard and shining the dewy grass of the surrounding parklands like thousands of tiny stars. It teases me, like it's saying "Off to work Brad? Why didn't bring a ball? I'm here waiting for you all alone. You could have spent the day shooting hoops in your suit pants."

On my way home in the evenings, when the sun is in transition to the west, the court is usually occupied by Chinese dudes with long shadows. Sometimes they're shooting around, but most of the time seem to be lounging about on or next to their basketballs, chatting idly and catching their breath. It feels like I'm walking in at the arse end of a party when the music is turned down and the only people left are helping clean up.

Once every couple of months, between walks, someone will come along and snap the ring off and steal it. This bums me out because I love basketball and I hate jerks and stealing a public basketball ring is like the polar opposite of playing basketball with people who aren't jerks. It was a pretty goddamn traumatic start to Monday morning for me, seeing it there like that. Ring missing, net nowhere, an opaque cloud drifting across the sun.

Nine hours later and by habit I was looking at the basketball court as I walked through the park towards home. I saw two Chinese dudes with a basketball before the ring came into view. I was filled with optimism. Then I saw that they were shooting around like there was a ring, but there was no ring. This was a conflicting tableau. I wasn't sure whether to feel optimistic about people's ability to persevere with their plans in the face of adversity, or to feel enraged that someone's selfish act had ruined the afternoon of others. Then the two dudes stopped shooting, perhaps because a tall, white dude was staring at them intently as he walked by. They looked at me with sad, desperate expressions. I realised they must think I had some authority over the park. They wanted me to assist them, but I had nothing.

Stylus Dismount

Recorded here for posterity is the nub of the original stylus and the replacement stylus of my Galaxy Note.

image 1286 from bradism.com


I've had this phone for less than a year, so obviously the stylus tip is of poor quality, or I use it way too much. I did write most of a ~5.5K short story with it, which my screen protector didn't like too much. It also did not enjoy Scramble with Friends at all.

Evolution

I was in the shower today, using my new, blue body puff to lather Milk and Shea Butter Body Wash across my soft, pink and sparsely haired body when I thought to myself, "This is not the body puff that I used in Adelaide."

This was definitely accurate. I bought that body puff a few weeks ago at Rhodes in New South Wales. In fact, I've gone through a few body puffs since I left Adelaide. The very idea that I might be using the same body puff to wash filth from the kinks in my squishy torso day after day for two and a half years was a bit gross.

It wasn't just the body puff that was new, though. The more I thought, the more of our possessions I came to realise had not come with me from Adelaide. The shampoo was new, so was the facial wash, and my electric shaver, the TV, the couch, the bed, the webhost, the BBQ. The spray bottle of Shower Sparkle, by some odd scientific loophole, I believe I bought in 2008. I've used it twice a week since then, so I was suddenly curious about that. I think water might be getting into it during each shower, and then I spray that water back out later when I clean.

I guess that the reason these thoughts had some importance to me is because, if I've been slowly replacing every physical aspect of my Adelaide life with Sydney objects, is it possible that at some mental or spiritual level the same thing has been happening? I know that at some point I'm going to return to Adelaide, but it's not going to be as simple as finding a house, walking into the bathroom and hanging my current body puff on a new set of taps. The same way I adjusted to Sydney will happen again, in reverse, but in slightly different context. Just like I became a slightly different person after moving to Sydney, I will once again become a slightly different person back in Adelaide. Not the exact same person I was when I left. Will I discover that while I was in Sydney I superseded Adelaide traits that I now need to recreate? Like, will I be able to adjust to not being able to go to the supermarket at 11pm on Saturday night? Or level crossings? Or other transient attitudes and mind spaces that I might not be totally aware that I've developed.

I don't know the answer, but it was interesting to dwell on.

Oh yeah, we also replaced my car! I knew I was going somewhere with this.

Not Cross Buns

I didn't eat a single hot cross bun this entire Easter period/year.

If you combine my hot cross bun consumption in 2011 with my consumption in 2013... I ate a lot of hot cross buns per day still.

One Year

I can’t believe it’s been a year already.

image 1779 from bradism.com

Vest! Happy anniversary! I bought you for my wedding one year ago. I love you so much. You make my shirts better, more dynamic and happier.

Vanessa! Happy anniversary, my wife, I love you more than a million vests combined.

Easter Beer Hunt 2013

The Easter Beer Hunt is a seven year old tradition. It's a simple game. Under the full moon of a Good Friday evening bottles of beers are hidden within the boundaries of a large, outdoor area. Essentially in the same kind of way that chocolate eggs are hidden on Easter Sunday mornings: under leaves and bark, in nooks and crannies, I in haystacks behind giant spider webs.
The formula for number of beers to be hidden is:

N = x * 9/2
where N is the number of beers and x is the number of hunters.

image 1288 from bradism.com


All the hunters contribute an equal share towards the beers before the hunt begins.

image 1289 from bradism.com


After it's dark all the hunters gather somewhere indoors while the hiders determine the boundaries and hide the beers. When the hiding is complete the hunters are notified and, after any extra rules or important information is conveyed, there is a countdown and the hunt begins.

image 1293 from bradism.com


Hunters are allowed a torch and a basket as tools. In the original Easter Beer Hunt a wicker basket was required, which added a challenging element to the hunt when running at speed with several beers bouncing in an open basket. Since then baskets have been expanded to buckets, protein containers and shopping bags. Torches have also extended to mobile phone lights, lanterns and head torches.

image 1290 from bradism.com


Hunters work independently to find beers in the dark. A cap is set of six beers per hunter. After the hunter finds six beers they are out, but they may continue hunting to locate other beers and discretely switch them with an existing beer if the brand is preferable. They may also assist other hunters who are struggling with hunting or equipment.

image 1291 from bradism.com


They may also choose to open and drink a beer, but that's only if they've finished the beer they opened after their first find.

image 1294 from bradism.com


I've never taken photos of the Easter Beer Hunt because I'm always hunting in it. This year DJ Chow was happy to carry my camera/flash about for the night and take some photos.

image 1292 from bradism.com

Good times.

Times Change

In the kitchen at work today there was an assortment of unopened boxes containing chocolate eggs. Next to them was a sign saying, "Help Yourself."

I raised an eyebrow, then proceeded back to my desk.

Twenty years ago I would have all over that! I can only imagine how eight year old me would have reacted as he walked into the twenty-three stories high kitchen in a North Sydney office tower and spotted free chocolate on his way to transferring his vegetarian curry from his briefcase to the fridge. Not with indifference, that's for sure.

Being an adult seems to be less about being responsible for big things, more about being responsible for endless waves of little things.

Adultism.

Boot Disk Errors

I was wondering the other day how long it had been since I bought and installed my Crucial M4 Solid State Drive. I was debating whether or not I should buy a bigger one (so I could install HOTS without having to uninstall other stuff).

I think I've been using my current SSD for about 5184 hours. I worked this out by having my PC lock up and die every hour and yell "BOOT DISK ERROR" at me all of yesterday. In between crashes I managed to determine that 64GB Crucial M4 SSD's have a bug that makes them stop responding once an hour after they reach 5184 hours of running time. Fortunately it's a simple firmware upgrade to fix it. So I guess I can't use this as an excuse to upgrade to a bigger SSD just yet.

The Bright Sides

My inner tightarse was heartbroken when I walked into the bathroom of our hotel room Sunday night and found these dispensers in the shower:

image 1298 from bradism.com

Before that the trip had been going so well. We'd been upgraded to a one bedroom apartment without even asking. The litre of UHT milk we'd brought was practically swimming in the full size fridge. I hadn't known what freebies I should expect when I opened the bathroom door. I would never have predicted this. Even the free soap was replaced with a third dispenser of hand wash by the basin. The only free things still available was a disposable shower cap and a sanitary bag.

It took me about five minutes to fill the sanitary bag with shampoo, but it should be at least five weeks before I've emptied it again.

Huntingwood

Lately my Sydney life adventure has been taking me to a suburb called Huntingwood.

I'd expected maybe green ferns and grasses inside thickets of oak and birch trees. The elk and rabbits wouldn't be visible, but they'd be around. What I found was a flat plain of light-industrial sites and wide roads nestled in the nook of a motorway and a highway about thirty kilometres west of the Sydney Opera House.

My first guess as to why they named it Huntingwood was obviously wrong.

Yesterday, as I pulled out onto Huntingwood Drive, Huntingwood and set off for home, I had to nudge the steering wheel slightly to avoid driving over a sleeper of treated pine that was lying discarded by the gutter.

...I found it!

Who is Ready to Jump?

At times the last two weeks of April felt like the last metres of a sprint. The finish line was winter, and the echoing footsteps were days that passed without me putting on a cardigan.

I have not worn a sweater since 2012. I feel like this puts me in control of when and how seasons will change. The leaves may turn brown and my jaw might start to hurt after evening runs, but as long as I don't pull on a pullover it's still Summer. Winter lasts from that first hoody being donned until a magpie executes a plan to feed her babies with my eyeballs.

Back in the day I used to measure the beginning of Winter as the first day of the year my Mum used the fireplace, but I got a bit sick of nine month Winters.

I thought last weekend I would finally need to wear a jacket. I went to Canberra, it's already in negative digits overnight there. Through some fluke, or not-sweater-wearing-magic, Canberra's overnight low was 9 degrees, 6 degrees warmer than the May average.

The sun set before I was home from work tonight and yet I'm still sitting here shirtless writing this journal entry. I'm thinking, maybe there will be no Winter this year. As long as I keep my arms exposed I can stay warm until a Spurwing Plover drops a couple of eggs in the middle of a cricket pitch and decides that's the best place to call home.

Foot Commutes 2 - Hurstville

The second in my series documenting my past foot commutes brings us to Hurstville. Photos in this set were taken in November 2012.

For 16 months I started every walk to Hurstville Railway Station from this free-standing brick house that sold for $840,000 a few weeks before we signed our rental contract.

For 16 months I started every walk to Hurstville Railway Station from this free-standing brick house that sold for $840,000 a few weeks before we signed our rental contract.



This is Beronga Avenue. You can tell it's a typical Sydney suburbs street because A) it looks like someone's hosting a party (but in reality everyone just has more cars than driveways) and B) There's a discarded TV by the kerb.

This is Beronga Avenue. You can tell it's a typical Sydney suburbs street because A) it looks like someone's hosting a party (but in reality everyone just has more cars than driveways) and B) There's a discarded TV by the kerb.



If you look back over your shoulder as you walk down to the Hurstville CBD you can see that there is actually city views from here. You'll need to squint, but.

If you look back over your shoulder as you walk down to the Hurstville CBD you can see that there is actually city views from here. You'll need to squint, but.



Hurstville is a gigantic suburb, it encompasses an entire council area. It's also an area undergoing major change both culturally, demographically and architecturally. In this photo I've tried to illustrate the nature of the modern houses replacing the houses of the past.

Hurstville is a gigantic suburb, it encompasses an entire council area. It's also an area undergoing major change both culturally, demographically and architecturally. In this photo I've tried to illustrate the nature of the modern houses replacing the houses of the past.



The trip to Hurstville station is not without risks.

The trip to Hurstville station is not without risks.



This tiny reserve offers a shortcut to those on the sneaker express. Unfortunately the council mowed it much less frequently than the grass grew to ankle height. Most mornings of the year this shortcut meant squishy socks for the rest of the trip.

This tiny reserve offers a shortcut to those on the sneaker express. Unfortunately the council mowed it much less frequently than the grass grew to ankle height. Most mornings of the year this shortcut meant squishy socks for the rest of the trip.



This was a really common sight in Hurstville, trees avoiding powerlines as they grew.

This was a really common sight in Hurstville, trees avoiding powerlines as they grew.



Jacaranda tree and million dollar carports.

Jacaranda tree and million dollar carports.



Ah, The Intersection. This was the only major road I had to cross on the way to the train and the point of the traffic signal cycle I arrived at could make or break making my train. There was no crossing this road at peak hour without assistance from the lights. If the pedestrian crossing rang green as I approached, the rest of the trip was a breeze. Just missing a crossing would mean a three minute delay, and usually sweaty armpits.

Ah, The Intersection. This was the only major road I had to cross on the way to the train and the point of the traffic signal cycle I arrived at could make or break making my train. There was no crossing this road at peak hour without assistance from the lights. If the pedestrian crossing rang green as I approached, the rest of the trip was a breeze. Just missing a crossing would mean a three minute delay, and usually sweaty armpits.



If Hurstville was to design a shield (to hang above their barracks) it would have a road running through the centre with a broken TV on one side and an abandoned shopping trolley on the other.

If Hurstville was to design a shield (to hang above their barracks) it would have a road running through the centre with a broken TV on one side and an abandoned shopping trolley on the other.



At this point I've left the residential and I am walking into the Hurstville CBD. This is part of old Hurstville town and it has some nice flowers and leafy trees.

At this point I've left the residential and I am walking into the Hurstville CBD. This is part of old Hurstville town and it has some nice flowers and leafy trees.



And this is modern day Hurstville.

And this is modern day Hurstville.



The origin of the name Hurstville directly translates to "Forest Village".

The origin of the name Hurstville directly translates to "Forest Village".



A sign of the shift in Hurstville's demographics.

A sign of the shift in Hurstville's demographics.



Apartments on Woodville street next to a construction site where more apartments will grow from.

Apartments on Woodville street next to a construction site where more apartments will grow from.



Signage in Hurstville. "Ring Wedding Photo Studio" used to make me chuckle.

Signage in Hurstville. "Ring Wedding Photo Studio" used to make me chuckle.



Depending on the earlier traffic lights I would have either strolled or steamed through the streets of Hurstville to its main artery: Forest Road.

Depending on the earlier traffic lights I would have either strolled or steamed through the streets of Hurstville to its main artery: Forest Road.



Up the stairs and another of my life's foot commutes comes to an end.

Up the stairs and another of my life's foot commutes comes to an end.



Lake Birds

Something about this world makes walking next to bodies of water an enjoyable thing. Walking along endless plains: boring. Walking through the ocean: drowning. Walking around or next to a lake or the seaside: pleasant. I don't make the rules.

image 1317 from bradism.com


There's a lake near where I live that I like to take walks around to clear my head or loosen my gluteals. If there was no water, or only water, it would be nothing special but the balance makes it an attractive place to visit.

Something else I like seeing on walks as much as bodies of water is birds. My local lake is full of birds. If the time that I am walking around it is close to sunset, or sunrise, there is a gamut of lake birds doing lake-bird things. Seeing them fly around and float and poop relaxes me.

On one of my relaxed buttocks walks my clear head had the idea that I should wake up early one day and come down to the lake and try and take photos of all the birds at the lake. I could try to take a photo of every single kind of bird at my lake and share them with people on the internet.

It would be my challenge for the month.

And now my challenge is complete.

image 1318 from bradism.com

Bronions

While I was making dinner today I was cutting up a couple of onions. The first onion did that annoying onion thing where its skin breaks apart instead of peeling off nicely and your cutting board and the inside of your fingernails end up coated with microscopic onion skin flakes.

Finally victorious, I cut the ends of the second onion off and commenced another peeling. The same thing happened, this onion too clutched onto every millimetre of its skin in the same way I guess a person would clutch onto their skin if they were being peeled.

At this point I wondered if it wasn't a coincidence that both onions had this same characteristic. Perhaps these onions were brothers? Two onion seeds from the same onion plant. Two shoots which had grown in the soil next to each other, been harvested together, dropped and separated in a hessian sack on its way to Coles. There they sat for who knows how long, not sure where their brother was or even if they were still alive, until the moment my hands pulled them both loose from their display and placed them into my basket.

Those poor onion brothers. They must have felt such relief upon being reunited again, only for me to take the oldest and dice him into tiny pieces. Then, worse, the younger brother would have been plonked in the puddle of onion juice his sibling left behind, knowing the whole time he would face the same fate, his final thoughts just a soft, fading memory of his mother's flower as the rest of the world went agonisingly dark.

I started to cry.

Straight to Voicemail

When I got my new phone in April last year I set my ringtone to this tune because it was kind of funky and Hot Sauce Committee was one of my favourite albums of 2011.

What occurred in the nine months that followed was a total separation of that song from its original vibe. It changed to a panic inducing 30 seconds that I heard over and over again at all times of the day and night.

I stopped listening to that album due to the Pavlovian effect the song developed. Now, however, I have a new client who still call me out of hours, but so far less than my old client. And I figured 18 Months by Calvin Harris was an alright album which I could sacrifice if necessary, so I on May 15th 2013 I changed my ringtone to this.

Man and Womanly

Vanessa and I both set some PBs today. I drove closer to the city and on more tolls roads than I've ever done in a single trip. Vanessa ran 10kms along the Manly coast and up into the hills at a cracking pace. Okay, obviously her achievement was a little more impressive.

Sunrise at Manly, before the race.

Sunrise at Manly, before the race.

image 1781 from bradism.com

In the crowd, waiting to go. Obviously the jumper went on sometime between sunrise and the start of the race.

General pre-race milling.

General pre-race milling.

Specific pre-race milling.

Specific pre-race milling.

And she/they are off!

And she/they are off!

Then I went and sat in a cafe with a large coffee and watched the sunrise until she got back.

image 1785 from bradism.com

Rounding the final bend... Hey, that's where I drank my coffee!

Into the light!

Into the light!

image 1787 from bradism.com

And she won (a medal!) And much pinkness. I was extremely proud, and she said I did a good job driving as well.

Cannon

image 1319 from bradism.com

Game 7 of Thrones

Avoiding spoilers is hard. I microwaved my lunch in the office kitchen today like I was James Bond.

Deeper Problems

Like a lot of Australians I occasionally glance down at my feet to see trailing shoelaces. Not often, just regularly enough to make me wonder why - this far out of primary school - my shoes unexpectedly come untied. At all other times I would classify double knotting shoelaces in the same life skill bracket as using cutlery, wiping my arse and pouring milk on my Weet Bix before I start eating it. So what's causing these intermittent shoelace failures?

In the last few weeks that I've been supporting Lotus Connections on Websphere Application Server and I've had to debug a couple of very annoying, minor bugs by analysing trace logs. First I enabled tracing for all the involved components, then I replicated the issue. Afterwards I was able to review the output and logic of every step of the flawed process. The trace showed that one object was setting a property with the wrong value. I documented the root cause and informed IBM, feeling quite proud of myself.

This experience made me think: Why not enable trace logging in my brain to see if I could solve this shoelace problem?

So, I logged into my brain's admin console and turned tracing on at an object level. Then I went about my days. It took a while, but one Thursday evening as I speed-walked through the rain to my train home from work I looked down and there were my shoelaces behind me. I re-tied, made it to the platform in time and then once I was seated I loaded up the logs.

The problem, I found, was in the ordering logic of lace tying when ambient temperatures dropped below certain levels. There was a condition that when feet were cold and both feet were shoeless that the body would put the first shoe on and single knot it, then put on the second shoe, double knot it. Then, with both feet warm(er) in shoes it would return to the first shoe and finish off the first knot with a double tie. This was obviously some heating efficiency tweak. But, there was a bug and the final double-knot call was nested in the wrong If bracket and was being skipped! I submitted a bug report, but I haven't received a response back yet.

Also, when looking into the source code I found an interesting design choice. The code for removing a shoe at the end of the day inherits directly from the "make a sound" class! Not sure if that's a bug or a feature.

Public Holiday Plan

Don't go to work.

And:

Went for a jog, thought about cereal the whole time. Gave up after about four kilometres, went home and ate cereal. Wasn't as good as I'd felt it should be.

Walked down the bare-treed streets of Sydney Olympic Park into Skoda stadium to see the orange-adorned GWS Giants unavoidably fall like so many similarly coloured autumn leaves.

First beef stew of Winter.

Battled to-do lists.

Second beef stew of Winter.

Jogged again, didn't think about cereal.

Keep Digging

The lights of Los Angeles twinkled in the dusk and I wondered if the insignificance that I felt from my vantage on the Hollywood Hills was all mine, or inspired by that landscape's feature in so many poignant movie moments. My eye watered, an unfinished tear that I wished I could wipe away but couldn't while the zip ties locked my bound hands to my belt. I wanted to do something about the blood drying on the back of my neck too. Alas.

Behind a far off cloak of low hanging cloud the sun was descending into the deep end of the Pacific Ocean and I felt a melancholy as I pondered if I would ever see it above me again.
Tyres crunched on gravel from behind and I hopped about-face to see the headlights of Hewey's Prius pointing at me. It stopped at the side of road and the cab light turned on. Hewey looked pissed. Shuk, who was comically squished into the passenger seat of the hatchback, looked as neutral as he always did. He was the biggest Chinese dude I'd ever seen. He didn't show any kind of emotion as he unfolded out the passenger door, reached through the open back seat window and came out with the shotgun. Hewey got out and they approached me.

"Was it worth it?" Hewey said.

"I felt like I had to see it," I said. "Once."

Hewey looked out over the sprawling sea of living lights like an uninterested teenager studying a Matisse, just for a second, then he turned to Shuk and waved his hand in a dismissive signal. The stock of the shotgun cracked into my temple and I vaguely recalled being dragged away. Shuk's thick hands wrapped under my armpits and I think I wondered if a Chinese guy would call it a boot or a trunk. Then there was nauseating darkness as the car drove back up Mulholland Drive towards the I-10 and, eventually, the California border.

Hours later, when the had car stopped and two sets of feet had stepped away there was no other sound. I waited for minutes, hearing no traffic, no air conditioners. I fell asleep. I woke when the trunk lid lifted and the two of them loomed above me. Behind them, lit up by only moon and stars, was a whole lot of desert. Shuk's omnipresent shotgun barrel was pointed at my chest. Hewey used a pocket knife to slice the zip ties around my ankles and then stood back to let me expand out of the car. I flopped onto the freezing sand. I tried to stand, then tried to lie down, having little success at either. My legs hadn't straightened for three and a half hours. The first living creatures to ever leave the ocean would have looked more coordinated than I did.

"Stand up," said Hewey.

I could actually feel the blood trickling back into my feet. I shook my head. Hewey rolled his eyes and Shuk brandished the shotgun.

I managed to lift my torso off the ground and hooked my head around the tail of the Prius using my jaw as a grappling hook. Then I tried to stand up. With the car's support I managed verticality, leaning against the chassis. I glanced at Shuk for sympathy, or at least admiration, but he showed nothing.

"We're in Arizona," Hewey told me. "If you're thinking about yelling, there's no one who'll hear it. If you're thinking of running again you won't find any pretty sights out here."

I disagreed with that assessment. The milky way was visible beside us, along with every single other star on this side of Earth at that point. The blue glow on the hills that lined the horizon was pretty, but I grasped the isolation he was trying to convey.

Hewey opened the back door of the car and retrieved a serious looking shovel and a portable floodlight.

"Walk," he demanded, pointing. Without much confidence I put one foot forward and gingerly staggered along. Fifty metres beyond the car the soil sloped down into an ancient, dead creekbed and my legs handled the descent with returning grace. The ground below me was still cold, but softer than before. Hewey joined me in the depression while Shuk stood sentry above it, the floodlight beside him. The knife reappeared in Hewey's hand and he sliced my wrist restraints away and handed me the shovel, then took two quick steps back to Shuk's side.

"Start digging," Hewey said.

The next moment stretched out. All of us facing each other, waiting to see what would happen next. I could actually hear the grains of sand grinding together in the light breeze. Hewey's face showed slight apprehension. Shuk's shotgun showed steely resolve. The shovel in my hand was cold and their objectives made sense to me then, the pieces clicking together in my soupy concussion. Shit.

"No, no way. No. Not going to happen," I said. "No."

"Dig," said Hewey.

I let the shovel fall to the ground. "Screw you. You can shoot. Then, you can dig."

Shuk pumped the shotgun.

Hewey said, "Shoot you? Shoot your family? Shoot, hmmm..."

For a minute of silence I deliberated. He knew he had me. I picked up the shovel. I extracted the first scoop of sand and flicked it behind me. Then, repeat.

"Glad you see it my way," Hewey said. He clambered up out of the creek-bed and turned the floodlight on, it's LED beam pointed at the growing divot in front of my feet.

When I was two feet deep the opening was wider than my stance and morbid perspiration was clinging to my back. Another foot down and I had to jump into the hole to widen it further. The ground here was firmer and harder to dig. The stars drifted as I threw each shovel load of dirt out of the pit.

At the point when I reached about five feet deep the hole filled with light from above. Hewey had climbed down to the edge of the hole and pointed the floodlight at my feet. The shovel was knifing into clag, pockets of rock-hard clay amongst it.

From his pocket Hewey pulled out a phone and checked the time. "You six feet deep yet?"

"In a rush?"

"Don't be a smart arse."

The shovel handle vibrated as the tip struck a solidified patch of clay.

"I can't dig much deeper," I said.

Hewey left wordlessly for the car. I was shoulder deep in the hole and lost sight of him. Shuk never took his eyes off me. When Hewey reappeared he was carrying a pick. He handed it to me and I chipped into a rock. It was a big stone, watermelon sized. I used the pick to dig it out of the surrounding sand and it rested between my feet. It was too big to throw out of the hole, but the way it curved inwards at the centre like someone's discarded arse made me think I could crack it into liftable halves with a well-pointed swing of the pick.

The clink the stone made when I struck it was different in note to what I'd expected, and the tip of the pick sparked. The stone fractured and through the crumbs that broke away I saw darker flint, the tip of an arrowhead.

"Hewey?" I called out.

More light filled the hole as Hewey leaned over with a head torch on.

"Arrowhead," he said. "Apache?"

"Definitely."

Hewey's light faded and he returned a minute later with a rock hammer from the Prius. He dropped it to me and I chiseled out the arrowhead roughly and passed it up.

Another foot down I found the skeleton. The skull was as one with the stone, the overbite extruded. I used the chisel on the rock hammer to roughly expose ribs and knee-caps.

"Is this one of yours?"

Hewey looked down into the pit. The opening was half a metre over my head.

"I'm not that ancient," he said. "I'll get the winch."

"Can I have a break?"

"Keep digging."

Shuk moved his watch to the edge of the pit, his face black against the backdrop of stars. I sighed. My arms ached as I lifted the pick to dig a berth around the forgotten Indian. I didn't hear the Prius, but when I next looked up I could see its tail lights gleaming off Shuk's shotgun. A rope was lowered down the pit. I fed it through the holes I'd dug beneath the skeleton and criss-crossed a knot around the top of the rock. I tugged the rope three times and I heard the whine of the winch motor. I had to step to the corner of the pit to avoid the shifting soil as the body was lifted slowly. The encasement of rock bashed the dirt walls as it ascended and little avalanches covered me with soil and pebbles.

"Is this far enough?" I called up after the body was extracted.

"Keep digging," Hewey said. I heard the car door open and shut, then he lowered down a jackhammer. A handful of cracked glowsticks followed, lighting up the walls with a green phosphorescence.

I ripped the ignition cord of the jackhammer and it thundered to life. It made quicker work of the compressed Earth beneath my feet. It only took thirty minutes for me to hit the next skeleton, then another hour to chisel out around it's flat, long face. It was a giant peccary. I told Hewey as much. He made me dig it out and then I watched it be winched to the surface.

"Far enough?" I asked him, once it had disappeared from view three metres above my head.

"Keep digging."

I jackhammered for hours until the stars in the sky blurred into lines. I cut the engine and Hewey loomed over again.

"Water," I begged him.

He left, saying nothing. After the next load of limestone had been winched out the net came down with a water sack, a head-torch, fuel for the jackhammer and an energy bar. I stopped the engine again, clutched the soft flask to my chest and dropped onto the freezing earth. I must have been twenty metres deep. I sucked down the water from my foetal position, ignoring the protrusions digging into my side.

"No rest," Hewey told me. "You get to drink, but keep digging."

I rolled onto my back, arms and legs splayed, completely submissive. I could have lied like that until I died, but the ground was so lumpy.

"You listening to me?" Hewey asked.

I sat up, head bowed. Between my legs my head torch was illuminating a two-hundred-million year old rib cage.

"Come on, Hewey, I'm dying. I'm digging my own grave here and I'm coming up with fossils."

"Just keep going, dig that dino up. You can stop when you get past the Triassic."

"Then what?" I had to yell for my voice to be heard at the surface.

"Then you can choose."

"What are my choices?"

"Shuk shoots you, or you keep digging some more."

"If I keep digging I'm going to end up in Qinghai. No offense Shuk."

Shuk did not appear to take offense. He was still brandishing that shotgun.

"Keep digging," said Hewey.

Once I was below the Dilophosaurus the fossils started to get smaller. I could only make out a few stars above when I started digging up the trilobites. The stars flickered in and out of focus at the other end of my hole that was drowning in darkness. The light from my head torch wasn't even reaching to the opening anymore, but I knew Hewey was there. I could feel him, and also the winch never ceased its flushing of my excavations.

I'd started to dig a spiralling ramp around the edges of the pit as I dug deeper. Hewey would send down small charges that I would plant and then detonate from higher up, just enough power to clear the stubborn chalk and limestone that jackhammer chewed out on. The flash of the explosion would light up the walls of the pit and for the briefest of moments I would see the fossils that I missed on display like paintings in a gallery. Imprints of shells and fish, the edge of a thighbone of a mid-sized sauropod, blotches of protichnites that hung like abstract art. Everything that had ever lived showed up as I went down. The deeper I dug, the further the relics of those complicated collections of cells became until I was unearthing nothing but stromatolites on top of stromatolites and my heart sank.

Hewey heard the echo of the jackhammer end and he wasn't happy.

"You dead?" he screamed.

I looked up and I couldn't even see the stars anymore. I switched off my head-torch and there was only blackness. I'd hoped, through the hours of monotonous excavation, that maybe I was buying myself time. Not time to live on, but one more chance to see the sun or at least see its light. After each dead organism I had unburied I had looked up and had mentally urged the sky to turn purple, mandarin, lavender. It had never changed.

Not yet.

"Keep digging," screamed Hewey.

Cold Shirt Front

It was six weeks ago that I mocked my own faith in my ability to control the weather based on day attire. I've worn a jumper once or twice this year, three at most. I was never really serious that there might be some physiological benefit in delaying jumper wearing to assist with dealing with cold temperatures. It was only this morning after boarding my 8:07 group-hug to the city and surveying below me a crowd of people in sweaters, jackets, scarves and beanies that I realised I was the only person wearing just a single layer.

I have developed an immunity to chilly weather. I know that I'm in a well insulated apartment right now, but it’s the middle of the night only four days shy of the Winter solstice and I'm wearing nothing but basketball shorts and underwear. I even bought thermals on the weekend for when I think it might get really cold, and then this morning I heard my jacket scratching against the inside of the closet door like a crying puppy.

The endless summer isn't as warm and barbecue-y as I’d thought it would be, but it’s still been good. Vanessa told me last night that the forecast for today was rain and I replied, “it won’t rain.” And it didn't, I have successfully jinxed the weather!

You know what’s good, and that Summer doesn't really offer? Snuggling and being snug. Also extra pockets. That’s why I've decided to journal jinx my winter jinx now. I'm ready to listen to some rain on the roof.

Hopefully I didn't just earthquake jinx myself.

My Own Goal

The Australia versus Iraq World Cup qualifier was held last night at Stadium Australia. A hundred-thousand people in Sydney made their way to Olympic Park to watch the game live. It was a long experience, with honestly not a lot of action. I felt like things were stuck, stagnant for most of the event, edging forward millimetres at a time and then, it seemed, going nowhere. Backwards. The drizzly conditions weren't helping. Finally, after 82 minutes things changed dramatically and I felt an amazing sense of relief. I reached my apartment's car park and climbed free of the car.

Sweet

I don't really miss having a backyard. A year ago I had a dozen square metres that my landlord owned and I had to maintain. I only used it a few times for anything useful.

Nowadays, all of the Olympic Park parkland and Bicentennial Park make up my backyard. I went for a run through them this afternoon, taking advantage of my flexible work arrangement to go jogging an hour before sunset on the Winter solstice. Now my backyard was full of trees and water features and rivers and mangroves and ducks. It was pretty. At one stage as I ran West towards a setting sun that I knew would be coming back stronger and stronger each day from now. I travelled across a grassy field that stretched up and over the hills. This green field was full of clover, growing everywhere on every patch of grass. I was like, shit, Winter. This isn't my backyard!

Bridging

I've never lived in Melbourne, but it's one of my favourite places to visit. I drove there and back on the weekend. Jeeping. Vanessa and I were like either the opposite of storm chasers, or ducks.

The drive from Sydney to Melbourne is not as good as the drive from Adelaide. It feels like cheating having dual-lane highway almost the entire way. Overtaking doesn't come with the same satisfaction. Also, on the return trip, you end up in Sydney.

Book-ended by a dozen Coles Petrol coffees I attended my second 21st birthday of the year (and I guess third, it was for identical twins). The speeches portion of the night reinforced my feelings on how unintentionally cute and sincere twenty-one year olds are when they try and make serious speeches, and by extension this made me feel old. Then I thought, imagine how old people over thirty feel about this, and I felt older. Then my thoughts turned to the over forties and I had to try and distract myself from the crushing fear of aging by asking random party goers who their favourite twin was. Mostly everyone was diplomatic. Then after a short sleep and a delicious breakfast I drove back here.

Dry July

I seem to hit a journal block every year at the start of July. In the past seven years I've managed multiple entries in its first ten days only once. For some reason at this time of the year my creativity and natural wit is stifled by some unknown force. These are the kind of things you discover when you maintain a journal for the majority of time that's passed in this egocentric century.

I can't work out the cause of this. Could it be the oppressing darkness of business hours sunsets? The cold? The exhilaration of a new financial year? My confusion has led to some strange behaviour over the years as I attempt to re-jig myself until entries fall out. In 2007 I spent a week trying to live like it was the Nineties with some success. Unfortunately I've already spent the last three and a half years living like it's the Naughties, so I can't really follow that up.

This week, for not-journal related reasons, I woke up at 6AM every day for the first time since... Actually, I'd wager this is the very first time I've even been out of bed at 6AM for five days in a row. I spent an hour each morning playing with Python code and watching for the sunrise. Yep... What did I gain from this? The inkling that I often have strange behaviour that seems to occur around this time of the year, and that I should data-mine my journal to confirm...

I jogged across the Harbour Bridge and back today. For funsies, not for journal related reasons. That bridge is high off the ground.

Boys

There's been a lot of sport on this week: AFL matches, Ashes, State of Origin, and EPL clubs playing in Australia. I've watched a lot of it on TV. Mainly because I have a fascination with hoping to see my house on television. During all this watching I've heard a lot of talk in interviews and commentary about The Boys. Doing it for The Boys. The Boys being really disappointed. The Boys knowing they've tried their best. The Boys showing that all the hard work has paid off. The Boys. The Boys.

It has been so warm this Winter I haven't had a single drop of soup.

44 Owls

He wasn't the best person for rescuing those owls. In fact, he might have been the worst qualified. The least appropriate. I guess that's what made it a monomyth.

He headed west on the road of challenges, dueling beasts. It wasn't all bad. When it was calm he wondered, why does she need so many owls? The number had seemed aggrandised when she'd first said it. He dodged an oncoming assault from a rider on horseback, he ducked, weaved and continued onwards. The challenges were left behind. Towards the end, the road smelled like chocolate and marshmallow and baking biscuits.

When he reached west he used a slip knot to tether the Jeep to the hitching post on the street corner and made his way up the hill to the Highway Inn Saloon. It was the dead of two-thirty PM, the porch was vacant. Everyone was inside making coffee on knock-off coffee pod machines. The only sound was his leather shoes tapping along the bitumen as he approached the automatically swinging doors. Forty-four taps of sole, forty-four owls that would die without him. He moved with purpose.

Inside the saloon he gave a nod to the barman who was polishing glasses behind the empty bar.

"Morning," the hero said, despite the sun's position.

The barman waved back, mute. It was their thing. The barman didn't really know it.

The doors to the back room were guarded but he knew the answer to the gatekeeper's riddle. He stepped into a green-lit corridor. It was high ceilinged, and smelled of chlorine. The beginning of a maze of pathways and aqueducts. He whistled, waited, no owls hooted back. He went deeper.

Further into the labyrinth the corridor widened. It opened into a spacious dining hall filled with goblins and cowboys all working or drinking or brawling. In the centre of the commotion, on a tiny table nestled against one of the great stone beams holding off the ceiling, the owls were caged. All of them crammed into a single, metal-mesh box. The owls were all the colours: feathers of white, pink, grey, blue, burgundy. They tilted their heads and hooted sad harmony.

He took a step forward, beyond the threshold, towards the owls. From the opposite side of the room his father took one step towards him.

"No," the hero said. His father, his long-gone parent. He had expected to see him at some juncture, but it was only conceptual expectation. The reality made him feel truly afraid for the first time.

The two men strode towards each other, the younger man strategising, devising, thinking of her. The older man appeared calm, his lips presented a reassuring smile divorced from the rest of his face.

"No. Owls," muttered the hero. "Not jowls."

The two met a metre from the mesh of the birdcage. The crowd of cowboys and goblins transitioned into an audience.

"I'm just here for the owls," the hero said.

The father smiled, nodded and wordlessly removed a folded piece of paper from his breast pocket. The hero felt his heart sink. He remembered writing that letter, before her, before the owls, before he had left him.

"Dear Papa," his father began to read. Voice like cinnamon. One of the owls chirped, inappropriately optimistical.

"I will love you forever," the letter continued. The hero put his hand to his hilt, but he didn't draw. He listened to the letter, then he read along. From memory.

"I will love you forever," he said. His father flinched. He repeated it, "I will love you forever."

"No!" said the father. "You're lying?" He sounded unsure.

The hero meant it, but he meant it for her. Not for him. He didn't say that though. The jowls shrunk as the father stepped back, beyond the pillar, away from the owls. The hero lunged, clutched the cage to his chest and ran for the exit. Excited cheers and curses erupted from the audience and some fled with him, others chased the father, some just ran in circles and jumped on tables.

Free from the labyrinth, back out the saloon doors the hero emerged to a setting sun and a yellow sky. The owls within his embrace squawked and hooted in a mania. He set the cage down and peeled back the gate. All freed, they scampered like a river away from the broken-open cage and into the endless sky. Most went in the same direction, their flightpath ultimately devolving into traffic gridlock, but this was acceptable as there was never going to be a return trip.

John Lennon

image 1320 from bradism.com


image 1321 from bradism.com


image 1322 from bradism.com


Palm Beach

Sydney winter is so tough.

On Saturday, Vanessa and I finally crossed off Palm Beach from the list of Sydney places to visit.

We climbed up the hill.

We climbed up the hill.

At the top there was some views of the ocean.</p>
<p>

At the top there was some views of the ocean.

Also, a light house

Also, a light house

No matter where she is,<br />
Vanessa is my guiding star

No matter where she is,
Vanessa is my guiding star

I’m walking on air

I’m walking on air

Then we went down to the sand.

Then we went down to the sand.

I found some driftwood on the shore that I decided to take an arty, high contrast black & white photo of.

I found some driftwood on the shore that I decided to take an arty, high contrast black & white photo of.

And from the very first moment I saw you.

And from the very first moment I saw you.

I never felt such emotion

I never felt such emotion

We’re closer each day…<br />
Home and away</p>
<p>Then we went home.

We’re closer each day…
Home and away

Then we went home.

Here they just call it Natural Ice Cream

I've never understood why some Australians tend to belittle New Zealanders and make references to sheep when discussing them. That said, when I was filling in my incoming traveller registration to hand to customs in Auckland and I realised that the mound of breakfast cereal in my suitcase triggered not one, but two of their bio-hazard red flags, I was prepared to level some abuse. Fortunately for myself and the sleepy customs agent and trans-Tasman relations in general there was no destruction of my cereal except by me eating it. In the taxi from the airport I even saw a few roadside advertisements for Weet Bix, leading me to comment, "Oh good, you guys have Weet Bix here too." The cabbie, from India and studying IT at the Auckland University of Technology, gave me a curious look. At first I figured he must be trying to work out why Australians were so enamoured by Weet Bix. Then I remembered that horrifying YouTube video I saw once and that was the first moment it began to dawn on me that New Zealand is not exactly a foreign country as much as it is a BIZZARO AUSTRALIA. Its near similarity is actually more amazing than countries which are actually exotic. Scientifically, you might even say it's an Australia like in a parallel world from Sliders - if you were a scientist who loved watching Sliders growing up as much as I did.

New Zealand - or at least the half-a-dozen streets of Auckland that I have visited - is Australia. Most people don't even have a kiwi accent. The only time I really notice I'm not in Sydney is when I say, "G'day" to people unironically and then realise what I've said. What is different though, is the little things. Like at Subway, they don't have shredded carrot. All the apples have different names and the tubs of yoghurt look the same but have different flavours like Citrus and Mixed Berry (same name, but slightly different freaking berries). It's like some butterfly effect where a slightly different person was randomly chosen for a focus group a few years ago. The two dollar coins are bigger than the one dollar coins... which I guess actually makes sense in some ways. Unlike calling a supermarket chain "Countdown".

Oh God... what if there's a New Zealand bizarro Brad and I meet him tomorrow? I just checked bradism.co.nz with my fingernails in my mouth in case there was. No almost-identical journal with subtle differences was rendered, thinkfully.

Psychosomatic

I've slowly become aware of a condition that causes me not to enjoy coffee during sunsets. It's more than not enjoyable, it's downright unpleasant. I don't know why. I have no problem with drinking coffee during sunrises, or while sitting in broad daylight, or drinking one after the sun disappears over the horizon. I also have no problems drinking a coffee at five in the afternoon on 43 degree summer days when the sun is practically still directly above and the weather is so air is so warm that I would remove my shirt and my pants the moment I returned home from work, or drinking coffee in winter at the time the sun sets in summer. Sometimes I can even get away with drinking a coffee during sunset if I bury myself deep enough in an office building that I can't see the golden rays of light from the west.

Coffee and sunset has become like red and purple clothing, I like both, but never at the same time.

Journal Journal Journal

I was tempted to write an entry titled 'Journal' with a body of the word 'JOURNAL' written over and over again. I like the word 'Journal' much more than the word 'Blog'. I realised this when I saw an old entry at random that came at the start of one of Brad's Winter Journal's. Then I read an entry I posted once where I compared my injuries to areas of my last Commodore that had been damaged. That entry reminded me of the time I broke the tail light during a three-point turn, something I'd clean forgot about almost six years later. After reading the entry, the events of the incident flooded back to me with alarming clarity: the weather (sunny, a few clouds), the novel feel of the modern sedan, the events of the day, even the price I paid to have the light's casing replaced ($280).

This kind of thing is what a Journal is supposed to be about, and something a blog can't hope to match. A Journal entry is like a primary key to your past, full of imagery and allusions and innuendo that your brain can use to retrieve those memories. These days - the decade of mature and easy-to-use data-abstraction layers - data access is simplified to such a point that the information you want is at your fingertips without you getting the information you need. (Need, that is, if you're feeling needy for something kinda nostalgic or narcissistic.)

For example, if I didn't write this journal entry, some day in the future I might think about the eighth of August 2013 and wonder what life was like back then. Without a Journal I would have been left to wonder.

I could have checked Endomodo and seen that I did a run around the mangroves and out to Wentworth Point, but that wouldn't tell me I ran at twilight - the lavender hour - and that I ran at twilight and called it the lavender hour because I was in the middle of reading Life after Life that week. Although I guess GoodReads could tell me that. And if I compared the times then WeatherZone premium would mention it was twilight. It would even detail that I was rained on at the furthermost point, briefly, a spell of rain so short that I only had time to ponder if I should run faster, wonder if furthermost was a single word, and then try to hide my phone under my Dri Fit Nike running top for safety before the rain was gone again (or at least lost).

What all the social networking and geo-locating and media-tracking tools on my smartphone will never record for me, though, was the colour, the flavour. The Journal Entry's anatomy. Anything but wouldn't include the blooming wattles (unseasonably early) or the ever-so-slightly pink clouds that made me think of London despite the landscape of bush and mangroves. Nothing but a journal could record that I pushed out that extra kilometre to justify the medley of cereal I'd assembled for afternoon tea from all the close-to-finished boxes of cereal in the pantry. That is unless someone else has pipped me at launching the world's first cereal tracking smartphone app which records and keeps stats on what cereals you eat, when you ate them, what your friends are eating and then provides cereal recommendations based on the datamined knowledge that comes from this collection of facts. Shit. If they have, my VCs will be pissed.

The Most important Thing?

A few weeks ago Vanessa arranged for me the greatest present ever, a Weet Bix bowl. To return the favour I arranged a gift of equal awesomeness for Vanessa, a Weet Bix bowl.

This week the mailman delivered them (I assume?) to our door and we washed the dust of a Chinese forced-labour factory off the bowls with our German made dishwasher overnight. This morning we woke up to His and Hers Weet Bix bowls.

image 1802 from bradism.com

I immediately filled my bowl with homemade muesli, banana, honey, yogurt and of course a handful of Weet Bix.

Vanessa, however, doesn’t eat Weet Bix out of bowls and in fact doesn’t eat anything out of bowls that don’t have a handle.

You might think that fact makes my gift thoughtless and uninspired. But, you’d be wrong.

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Casual Friday Breakfast – Couples Edition.

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Two weeks ago I left some cereal inside a locker in Auckland. Yesterday, I ate it for afternoon tea. It was greatly appreciated, by myself. Is this what is meant by "foreign investments"?

Auckward

One of the different features I've noticed about Auckland is that there are a lot of parking garages in the city with good views, no restrictions on pedestrian access and only occasional sideways glances from security guards warm in their little hatchbacks.

I took some photos with my phone during my morning walks.

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And then I post-processed the shut out of them!

One day I might even be not-lazy enough to carry the DSLR that I've shipped in my suitcase each time around with me.

Time Today for a Word Cloud

Generating a Word Cloud of my most commonly written words over the last nine years shows that, by frequency, I'm pretty boring.

For comparison, a cloud of some of my least frequently used words.

But where on the file system would you rub it in?

I haven't been journally so much lately. Sorry, future self who reads these things. I definitely missed capturing the life moment where the question "Why would I put Deep Heat on both my knees after a run?" became "Why wouldn't I put Deep Heat on both my knees after a run?"

I jogged tonight, a long, squiggly loop in freezing winds. Some kind of Sydney Winter's true colours in moving air pressure form. I often feel compelled to complete a loop when I jog, OCD is a possibility. I don't understand why I care about a circuit, and I usually don't complete one. Tonight I did though, and when I finished my jog I was only back where I'd started. I was left with nothing but the satisfaction of having exercised enough to feel no guilt about the food I ate prior. I have to say, I am a massive fan of this first-world luxury. Satisfaction is satisfying, it feels like warm-from-the-inside knees and tingly fingers.

Tick Tick Tick

This week, like most weeks, the news was full of reminders that life is short and fragile. Time is a precious thing. TV shows, video games, if there's a series you've been putting off watching or a game you keep saying you're going to play through, stop delaying! Start watching or playing today.

The First Mousse Cake

Being married to Vanessa means sometimes I get to eat things like this for Breakfast.

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Which leads to bright, colourful birthday-wifey-sugar highs.

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Bribes Offered

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Going Nowhere

There's a lot of things I hate about running on treadmills. I'm yet to find one that doesn't cramp my gait. I find the unchanging scenery, usually rows of televisions, extremely de-motivating. When someone is running next to me I can't accelerate off into the distance when I jostle loose a fart. In the last cardio room I was last in there was serious risk of hitting my head with every stride. It's also hard not to feel like a tit while wearing my sunglasses.

Deploying Spring

On the first day of spring I went for a walk at sunrise. It was a chilly morning, but bright, and the air was filled with birdsong and pollen. Of all the sounds, the loudest was the energetic squawking of a hooded plover. It was whooping around the park in quick, wide circles, so excited that it was spring. Like they'd been giving away red cordial on the last day of school.

Those events marked the end of a long winter. Definitely not a cold one; had I not taken a weekend off to visit Melbourne in late June I might have lost my perspective on the season completely. It was "long" because of the fixed, looming shadow of what's to come. The course isn't totally clear, but I can confidently describe what's to come as being a bunch of short, life-shaping events in a row. That's all I can really say. The future is always so much clearer after it becomes the past.

Anyway, later on during these first days of spring I was in Auckland. Auckland is a city where my winter would have had no problems disguising itself as a summer. It was much cooler there. During another of my sunrise walks I heard only a single bird call. This solitary chirp was a much shorter, pessimistic trill by some unseen sparrow. Almost immediately upon its conclusion the rain started.
"Significant," I thought to myself.

You may actually be interested in what I was doing in Auckland. My life is more than eating cereal and making observations about the weather and cities. When I filled out my International Passenger Arrival Card and selected the purpose of my visit I checked "Business", not "Experience trivial reflections about the weather." In a tribute to the bradism.com of last decade I will actually talk about something meaningful in a literal manner.

Lately I have been visiting Auckland to be the technical resource responsible for the local implementation of an integrated e-commerce platform, coded in Germany and deployed in New Zealand. That is, more succinctly, I download a zip file, upload it to a bunch of servers and install its contents on each one. Then I fix everything that was wrong with it. Within my line of work, there is usually a lot that needs a specialist to fix.

I have been paid a lot of money lately to do this and I'm pretty good at it. When I'm not fixing issues I write scripts to do all the things I just installed and fixed automatically. I'm getting good at that as well. I mainly use python. I used python so much this last winter that when I saw a news headline "python kills two Canadian boys in their sleep" I thought to myself, "My code would have raised and handled an exception well before things went that far." This latest project has had its challenging moments already, and I'm becoming better at handling those kind of issues too. By its very nature my role is to essentially make myself redundant and move onto something novel, then repeat. This is my third major project of just this year alone, each using different technologies, platforms and strategies. I'm a specialist in handling new things, basically. And what is spring other than a time for new things?

This Thing

image 1333 from bradism.com

I've had a little too much time to ponder the mechanics of hotel rooms lately. I've realised that temporary accommodation has to walk a fine line between providing all modern conveniences, including personal space, while at the same time fitting in as many rooms as possible into a single piece of real estate.

Everything in a hotel room has a purpose and everything has a place, quite often a place interlocked or slid behind or between other things. Design is critical, with hours of thought put into everything from the layering of items in the mini-bar to the placement of this out-of-proportion toiletries shelf inside this gigantic shower.

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I understand the reasoning. Every extra piece of functionality you can cram into a hotel room is another thing you can list in the "features" section on hotel listing aggregators. Every extra inch of space provided increases your rooms' ratings. I understand everything has a purpose... Then there's this thing. I don't understand this thing.

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This thing must have some purpose, but what? It could be anything.

An overflow shelf for toiletries while showering?

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Journal entry inspirer?

Oversized door snake for New Zealand winters?

In-room caber tossing set?

image 1336 from bradism.com

It's definitely not any kind of a pillow

Bright

I usually leave for work shortly after eight. I ride the lift down twenty floors to the basement, put any recycling into the yellow lidded bins and walk for fifteen minutes to the train.

I like to wear cream coloured chinos, a long sleeved blue shirt and brown walking shoes. If it's chilly I wear my sleeves long and insert a cuff link between the buttons to offset my perpetually open neck. If it's sunny, or the breeze is tinged with spring warmth, I roll the sleeves up to my elbows to reveal forearms light with hair and never without a kiss of sun. I never press hard when I shave, leaving the blueprints of all tomorrow's follicles visible in a display of casual softness. I moisturise so that when I smile the wrinkles on my face are shallow and add a hint of contrast.

I am a light, cheerfully coloured, smooth edged human. As I start to walk I pull down the wide black lenses of my polarised sunglasses. I insert two in-ear headphones and I accelerate to a brisk stride. I don't make eye contact with anyone. I catch my train and don't look up from my phone until they announce North Sydney train station. I'm behind glass, even after I'm out onto the platform. When I'm home again I'll take the sunglasses off and the headphones out.

Thanks Sydney

Thanks for breaking down cultural barriers, as best you can.

Thanks to all the drivers who are already into the intersection when the light turns green.

Thanks to the taxi drivers who don't try to make small talk because they're on their phones for the entire forty-five minutes.

Thanks for walking fast and keeping left... slightly more than other places.

Thanks for the footbridges (Auckland...)

Thanks for the geography lessons.

Thanks for the multitude of international artists who visit, and convinced me I don't really like spending heaps of money on live music.

Thanks for having so many sick people that some medical imaging businesses can only compete by offering MRIs at bulk bill prices.

Thanks for making me a better, more alert and assertive driver and teaching me the logic of taking maximum advantage of the available bitumen.

Thanks for teaching me the value of good friends, high paying jobs and easy parking at the beach. Along with mattresses and flat screen TVs.

The Whip Birds were pretty great.

Let's Get Down to Business

The last week and the next week are all about taking care of business. Mainly packing and cancelling things and finishing work tasks.

Today was also about taking care of The Business.

The Business is the novelty-oversized burger from my favourite burger place in Sydney, BenBry Burgers in Manly.

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BenBry Burgers came fourth in the Sydney Morning Herald's ranking of burger venues in the city. That's the kind of ranking I really admire, and kind of aspire to. Fourth best burger in a city of 4.5 million is a good effort, without any of the pressure or attention that First best would attract. An undisputably solid product.

I actually tried to eat the number one ranked burger in Sydney once, and I was turned away at the door because I was underdressed and didn't have a booking. That missed burger also had a price-tag much higher than the $15.50 I paid for 300gms of beef, 2 eggs, bacon, cheese, beetroot, lettuce and tomato on a wholemeal bun this afternoon. And it wasn't by the seaside.

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Normally I show restraint at these kind of places, I order a chicken burger or something in the midrange of calories, but as this was my final visit as a resident I figured I should do some jaw warmups and take on The Business. It was a nice day.

Between the age of 11 and 17 I almost exclusively wore basketball shoes wherever I went: school, church, parties, camping, you name it. This wasn't really that practical or fashionable, but I really miss being able to ball at any unexpected opportunity. On sight.

Like Magic

On day ten of the NSW bushfire crisis I worked my last day in Sydney for the indefinite future. It was a typical Sydney day, pleasantly warm after reaching the 8am threshold, and the entire sky was blue save for one small, streaky fluff of white like a birdshit on a just-washed windscreen. I strolled through green parklands to the train and headed to North Sydney.

Working in Sydney has been a demanding and rewarding experience, given the benefit of hindsight and my upcoming holiday. It was to working what moving out of home was like to being responsible for myself. I learned a lot (sometimes unwillingly), developed a lot, became a whole new worky person and began to form my own identity. I also got to catch trains like this to views like this, and, occasionally, this.

I had a farewell lunch today with some current and former colleagues where people said some nice things about me. That I was a magician, that I was honest. That I could probably fix Obamacare website. It was definitely nice to hear such positive feedback when, knowing that I was leaving the state, the opportunity to hang shit on me was wide open. Which I guess makes me proud of what I managed to do and keen to find a new opportunity not in NSW to do it all again.

After lunch, once I'd set my Out of Office message to expire in 2014 and said my goodbyes, there was nothing left for me to do. I departed, waited on North Sydney platform for maybe the last time and drafted this journal entry in my head as the train took me back to my soon-to-be-not home. The sky had gone gray by this point, as winds changed and brought the smoke from the improving yet still burning Blue Mountains fires to Western Sydney skies. "A Magician," I thought. For my final trick, once the smoke clears, I will have disappeared.

Achievements?

Today I teleported 8.5kg gas almost 1600km in an instant!

I also cleaned the windows of a 19th storey apartment. I know, you're thinking "the inside windows", well, I mean the outside of the outside windows. Smartasses.

New York Entry

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NYC5K

The best place I could have chosen for my first ever fun run was the streets of New York City. Walking 50 blocks to the start line was a good warm up, and needed on a chilly but not freezing Saturday morning. I wore my dri-fit running shorts with the inner compression underwear and I could feel the Atlantic wind passing over the surface of my scrotum. It was at that point I felt I had truly arrived.

The run started from alongside the U.N. building on First Avenue, turned down 42nd and passed Grand Central Station, then followed Sixth Avenue outbound to Central Park. The streets we ran along were closed to traffic and we were offered a unique perspective. For some reason we ran quite fast. Probably because every second person was stopping to take photos and that fuelled my overtaking appetite. It could also have been the bystanders all cheering the same phrase "Go Runners!" from the footpath sidewalk. It made me feel like I was on a professional sports team called the New York Runners.

This blurry photo will attest somewhat to the event.

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Also, my phone was able to find some satellites and track the run for me, while on Aeroplane Mode and thousands of miles from home. I was very impressed by the handheld piece of technology that served as my map, run-tracker and camera for the event. The full path can be seen in the map below.
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I also repped my We Run ADL shirt. At the end we got free pretzels.

I also repped my We Run ADL shirt. At the end we got free pretzels.

New York's Noticeable Differences

In one photo.

image 1349 from bradism.com

Taxis are yellow. (Duh)
Starbucks are everywhere.
Trash in bags instead of bins.
Red hand instead of red man.
Health Inspector results on every food-service's front window (this is also how you can find secret restaurants and bars!)

American Museum of Natural History

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I've wanted to visit this place ever since I read Bill Bryson's A Short History of Nearly Everything.

First, however, was a visit to Levain Bakery and their trip-advisor touted "Best Cookies in New York City." I bought a fresh double-chocolate peanut butter cookie and then took it to Starbucks to eat with my skinny vanilla latte.

West Side Cookie

West Side Cookie

The cookie was amazing, and may have contained a whole block of chocolate within. Was it as amazing as the American Museum of Natural History? No. There were actual parts of dinosaurs there and I got to see them and holy shit there were a lot of them. There was also a planetarium and a thousand other fascinating things.

Me pondering some dinos.

Me pondering some dinos.

I also had my first taste of American Macaroni and Cheese in the museum's cafeteria. That, fortunately, was nothing special and I was grateful that I didn't need to add another thing to my list of high calories treats I must devour as much as possible.

Then we caught the Subway back to our apartment on the Upper East Side.

Bradism in New York

Some readers may be put off by my last few entries. Since when was bradism.com a travel diary? I realise most people come to read about my breakfasts and not my international gallivanting.

Today's breakfast was in the form of muesli from Trader Joes, bananas from a bodega on First Avenue and strawberries from some guy selling fruit on the sidewalk in the Upper East Side. It was pretty good.

Today's breakfast was in the form of muesli from Trader Joes, bananas from a bodega on First Avenue and strawberries from some guy selling fruit on the sidewalk in the Upper East Side. It was pretty good.

Takin' it back to the Whole Foods

Songs That Get Stuck in Your Head in NYC
Alicia Keys - Empire State of Mind
Jay-Z - Empire State of Mind
Matt & Kim - Block after Block
Kanye West - Bound 2 (due to the mention of Forever 21, which I notice regularly)
Beastie Boys - No Sleep 'til Brooklyn
Gonzales - Take Me To Broadway
They Might be Giants - Istanbul (Not Constantinople)
Greg Nice - Set if Off

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Unimpressed by Handheld Technology

It was on day three of the 28 day holiday when my phone died, taking with it my dream of instagramming bad puns across America. And also my sub-dream of playing Scramble with Friends in the toilets with WiFi across America.

Adjusting to life without a phone has been challenging, because it is more than a phone, it's also my watch, calendar, alarm clock, barometer, paperback novel, camera, GPS and Subway map. The only thing I haven't missed is making phone calls... After a few days though I've discovered a new kind of freedom. Freedom from worries about battery life and hot-spots. Freedom from knowledge of which team Nate Robinson was traded to over summer. I have a whole extra pocket of freedom now too. Who needs a smart phone when you can comfortably carry half a pound of almonds in your jeans instead? I do have my access to email and Facebook restored now, just not in a portable way. So if I post Facebook status updates such as "just pooped ten metres away from an actual Tyrannosaurus Rex skull" it will not be as live as implied.

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You don't get many chances to forget where you are in this city. At least in Midtown...
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Veteran's Day

Flurries

I had to post this photo from today as it is the first and possibly only time I can legitimately record "Today's Weather" as "Snow Flurries" since I implemented the weather feature in 2006.

I think it's also my first legitimate use of a minus temperature as well!

I think it's also my first legitimate use of a minus temperature as well!

New York Exit

What could be written or thought of about New York after a fortnight visit which hasn't been written or dwelled on a million times before. Like the photos composed from atop the Empire State Building, anything you come up with will have already been composed, created or pondered a thousand times before. Probably that same day, (if you visit around sunset, and why wouldn't you?).

Two key themes stood out through almost every activity we participated in during our stay that I felt were worth saving. The first was how surprisingly I felt the city was connected to my life. This was notable because I rarely feel connected to places. It was nothing like a homecoming, more like bumping into an old high school friend who had attended the same lessons as me and reminiscing.

I first started to really feel this on the fourth floor of the American Museum of Natural History. Walking through the dinosaur rooms brought me back to the exact contents of the dinosaur encyclopedia I spent hours with as a child, so closely did their content mirror that it really felt like I was not on my first visit. Wall Street - although we did not spend much time there - had a similar ethereal vibe which I couldn't explain other than to theorise that that was where the decisions and fortunes of companies I've given hours of my time to had been forced to prove themselves. 2013 was the year I upgraded to my first paywave credit card in a world where money is becoming more and more immaterial. On Wall Street it felt like somewhere in these high-reaching skyscrapers all that invisible money was stockpiled, and in some dimension wires reached all the way across the ocean to my wallet in Australia.

The NBA arenas in Brooklyn and Midtown, regular features on my TV screen back home, were now also real but once again they already familiar. So many buildings and streets and sights were recognisable from TV and that, it seems, is the major factor in my brain when it comes to how homely a place in the world is.

The second recurring theme or impression I sensed during my time in New York was the size. Downtown and Midtown each would dwarf most other cities on the planet by themselves. Once you then consider the rest of Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and New Jersey the city takes on a scale unfathomable to anyone who has in their lives depended on a single NYC toilet-bowl worth of water for their entire daily water consumption. The more we travelled, by foot, cab, boat, subway, bus and found ourselves in another city while still being in New York, the more I came to appreciate that New York is more than just the sum of its parts.

By that I mean, for most cities in the world, you could suck the entire population out through a large wormhole to a fertile parallel Earth, give them limitless resources and they could create an approximate equivalent city again before they all died of old age. Not New York, given its breadth and density and complexity I can't imagine it could ever be replicated. It's just too organic, in a way, well planned in the beginning with a grid of streets like fertile flower-boxes and then a huge boom of a human ecosystem developing and feeding off each other and all striving to be the best. I think New York's denizens also appreciate this. New York is like a machine, a game that you enter knowing the the general rules but also aware that they're not always enforced. Success in New York, essentially, is up to the player. There's a lot to gain, but unlike Australia there's not a lot of hand holding coming your way. If you are truly determined, like those vendors who spend twelve hours a day inside a tiny caravan with a BBQ in them, you might taste success and live your life in one of the shining examples of what humanity is capable of when they work together in a competitive way. In other words, concrete jungle where dreams are made, oh there's nothing you can't do, now you're in New York. These streets will make you feel brand new, big lights will inspire you, let's hear it for New York.
(Seriously that song gets into your head at least once a day).

Clutch

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Tipping Tips

I have, when necessary, been able to tip competently in America. Reading articles on the internet helped me going into most tipping-required situations, as well as knowing that I could always resort to yelling "I'm an Aussie mate, G'day G'day G'day" if things ever became confrontational.

We only needed to tip a handful of times in New York, as we carefully chose eateries without table service and our apartment was room-serviced weekly rather than daily. We were carrying our own bags, opening our own doors as much as possible and walking dozens of blocks instead of catching taxis. In Boston, however, things changed. We checked into a five star hotel that we'd found a good rate for via a "Secret Deal" on Hotwire. After five hours on Amtrak we dumped our bags on our floor and headed into Boston to find dinner before the Celtics game. When we returned after the game we found that our housekeeper Rosa had visited our room, avoided our hastily discarded luggage and turned down the sheets for us complete with slippers by the bed and chocolate on the pillows. This was a whole new level of service that I hadn't been expecting and I quickly started to calculate how often I might need to tip for room service and if this secret deal was going to turn out to be a bad investment. We tipped Rosa about five dollars for every day we spent in Boston. We decided it was a good exchange for a few chocolates and refills of the coffee bags. The slippers never fit me, which was disappointing, but I guess we got our money's worth by having the linen changed every day.

We never met Rosa, but we left her notes with our tips each time we went out. Actually, I don't know for sure that we never met Rosa. We could have passed her in the hall once or twice. She never wrote back to us. Towards the end I was really close to tipping her a copy of John Grisham's A Painted House which I bought second hand in New York to read after my phone died. I decided not to, not because I thought it would be socially acceptable, but because it was such a terrible book. I found it at The Strand bookstore off Union Square on a rack of books that said "Half-Priced Mysteries" and as I'd never read any Grisham and the price was good I decided to buy it without much diligence. The Strand was such a momentous, lovely bookstore and from that day I regretted not finding a better book. The mystery was, "Who's painting our house?" (Luke, the pre-teen narrator wondered allowed). "I think it's that disabled hillbilly kid who's staying with us while his family harvest our cotton," his mother replies less than a page later. THAT WAS THE MYSTERY!? I put up with two hundred pages of visual depictions of post-war rural America and 1960s baseball for THAT? I forced myself to read it to the end, partly because I don't like giving up on books and partly because I had some constipation around the midpoint of the trip from so many different foods that I needed to eat. I finally finished reading it somewhere in Connecticut and sighed with disgust. Bloody Grisham. So in the end I did not leave it for Rosa and instead abandoned it on a table in Faneuil Hall Marketplace with an attachment "Free Book. One out of five stars."

Harvard

Harvard Square

Harvard Square


Harvard Butts

Harvard Butts

The Bears with Keytars are Coming

I think the aspect of Boston that I like the most is the way that they preserved so many of their historical buildings and locations. Amongst the Macys' and bank skyscrapers of the financial district you can find nestled the meeting places and churches and market halls of pre-revolutionary America. It's very nice, kind of like a past-meets-present thing.

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Mildura

I might be the first person to ever travel continuously from the vibrance and sunshine of Venice Beach, California to the sunny and slightly less vibrant Mildura, Victoria. A trip that began on a Number 3 Bus in Los Angeles concluded with a 1000km drive with Sydney in the rear-view mirror.

Originally the plan had been to start driving from Sydney Airport and not stop until the discarded TVs on the side of the road dried up. This strategy found us in Hay. Hay would have made a logical stopping point, except I hate Hay. I can't actually explain why I have such a vendetta against a tiny town surrounded by nothing but 200km of dusty flats on every side. Three years ago I bought and ate an overpriced and decidedly average pizza there. It's possible I never let that go. We did refuel as we passed through this time, and I met two of the locals who were enthusiastically friendly and that did soften my hatred a little. But for people living in Hay the thrill of meeting a stranger is probably on par with the thrill I feel watching a 3D movie.

I think Hay's isolation contributes to the polarisation of feelings. If you had a bad pizza like I did, you really have nothing to dwell on for 200km afterwards except that. Maybe some day I will get over my prejudices and give Hay another chance. On this day though I was driving tight. Mildura was the next major stop and that had the advantage of not even being in NSW! So on we drove.

Home

It's been over a week. I'm in Adelaide, all the furniture I own is in Adelaide, which means I once again live in Adelaide. As if I couldn't tell, with all the red ribbon on trees, affordable CBD parking, cloudy ice-cubes and closed supermarkets in the evenings.

Honestly, I'm not sure exactly how I feel about my return to the place I grew up. Not to confuse this with uncertainty about why we moved back, the rationality and outcomes of which I'm completely happy with. An adjustment period is going to exist regardless of satisfaction, and rumination about this period will always occur in such situations for people like me.

Returning to Adelaide has not felt like a return "home". It feels nothing like that first bowl of Weet Bix and milk after a month-long overseas trip. This is not Adelaide's fault, or Sydney's fault, or a fault at all really. In my set of circumstances the experience of moving and living and working in another state has redefined the way I think about the word "home". Three years ago Adelaide felt like home because when I was in its geographical area I felt safe, sheltered and competent. Essentially by being in Adelaide the first 60% of the Maslow Needs Hierarchy was taken care of for me by default. I knew that if I was ever sick, wet, cold, lonely, unemployed or hungry I could solve any of those problems with proven steps that I had confidence would work. In the rest of the world, beyond Adelaide, I had no such guarantee. This is deeply significant to people's psychology. I theorised, obviously, that I would be capable of renting a house, buying groceries and finding a hairdresser in other places on the Earth but it was unproven and I think that's why Adelaide felt like "home".

Moving to Sydney, re-registering my car, changing jobs, driving on toll roads and getting same-day CT scans for free - these things shifted my perception. Now there was a new place where I was fortunate enough to make esteem my primary goal in life. Did this make Sydney feel like "home", replacing Adelaide? Absolutely not. Sydney never felt like "home". What this experience did do was train me that I could make anywhere home. I had the mental and physical skills to relocate to any city and survive. "Home" was no longer Adelaide. "Home" was wherever I chose it to be, assuming that the population spoke English and the culture was western and I had some form of internet connection at most times.

I have been asked a few times now what it feels like to be "home." This has caused me to cultivate these thoughts. As I said, moving back to Adelaide doesn't feel like returning home. Moving back to Adelaide has felt like moving from the living room of my house to the dining room of my house. The world had become my home.

Contemporary Classical

I spent a tiny, yet meaningful portion of my weekend learning to play a song on the piano. Where the sheet music would normally have sat I instead had a smartphone. Its touch-screen was streaming an online video telling me which keys to press. The song which invisible network transmissions were teaching me was a Bay Area hip-hop beat. It felt satisfyingly twenty-first century.

Bagels

What did I achieve today? Bagels. The doughy things that look like zeroes. Bagels are one of the greatest discoveries I had while overseas. I understand what they mean about travel giving you a more profound, philosophical view of the world.

Bagels are surprisingly simple to make at home. You only need patience, as there is a lot of waiting. You also need flour, sugar and yeast. The rest of what you put in is up to you but in my opinion it's the seasoning that really makes the difference. What did I learn today about bagels? You get out what you put in. The aftermath of bagels, delicious dinner, or an unsatisfying fullness, comes from what goes on top.

Now the only thing left from New York to I need to recreate in Adelaide is Starbucks, for those times I really need wifi or the toilet.

Location, Location, Location

Bottleshops of Adelaide all follow the convention of posting a sign out the front that advertises the day's price for a carton of Cooper's Pale Ale. The same way that petrol stations advise motorists of the going rate of unleaded petrol.

Of course, you could just go to Dan Murphy's where they have the best price for everything, and extensive range. It just depends if there's a Dan Murphy's close to the BBQ you want to be driving to.

Untitled

Names are very important. Especially for businesses. I noticed that New Zealand has chain of kitchen appliance stores called "Kitchen Things", and no one seems to be objecting. Which I think is great. It lends some weight to my business plan to one day register the business name "Tourist Shit" and sell franchise licenses and consistent branding to places that sell postcards, key-rings and t-shirts at popular cities across the planet.

East

East Avenue is an arterial (or perhaps sub-arterial) street that runs North to South on Adelaide's grid of streets.

East Avenue can be found in the region directly south of Adelaide's Western boundary. If you followed it's citybound trajectory without wavering at the junction of the rejuvenated tramway you'd eventually arrive just west of West Terrace.

If you ever want to visit East Avenue you'll need to head to the centre of the suburb of Clarence Park, which East Avenue splits down the middle.

On the plus side, I think it does meet the etymological requirements of an "avenue".