Listening to Spotify's 'Detox' playlist while drinking a beer at midday. #2017
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Listening to Spotify's 'Detox' playlist while drinking a beer at midday. #2017
Enjoy what you've read? Want to receive updates and publishing news in your inbox? Sign up to the bradism mailing list. You'll also receive an ebook, free!
I don't really write about music anymore. I will say that the Jai Wolf track is like peak M83, and that the Mogwai song is a really satisfying slow build when you're paying attention.
The mix is 81 minutes long, because it's 2017 now. Take that CDs! I outlived your relevance!
As I'm the only one who cares about these mixtapes and hence will read this far, I'll say this: Brad, don't give up on your dreams no matter how hard it seems sometimes. You'll be right, and if not, we all die anyway. I hope you're having a good time in whatever future year it is and the technology that replaces Spotify has all of these songs in its catalogue.
2016 End of Year List
When I posted my first entry of the year I was surprised to see it pop up with the date of 01-01-1995. I went back to the form and realised my dropdown date picker looked like this:
When I'd originally coded the add entry form I'd been clever enough to have it automatically select the current day for me, but for some reason (efficiency maybe?) I hardcoded the end of the loop of years to be 2016 (much more logical than $i <= date("Y"); )
I was even more surprised that the date range started in 1995. I wrote this code in 2004, so what was I expecting? That I would stumble upon some forgotten, handwritten scrawls from primary school and transcribe them into my journal? Did I really have more confidence in my ability as an eleven year old to write new journal material than in my ability to maintain the journal until 2017...
I realise I actually might have done this just to give myself something to write about twelve years later.
Despite reading the news, I'm staying positive about 2017. I've got a feeling that this year I'm going to write the best novel I've ever written.
Because everything I've written so far has been fucking terrible.
Like my words? Want to buy one of my books? I think you'll like this one:
If you met yourself from the future, what would you ask your future self?
What if they wont tell you anything?
Chase: A Tomorrow Technologies Novella. Available Now for Less than a dollar!
Self driving cars are going to improve the quality of our lives in the future to amazing new heights. I'm not talking about improvements to traffic and freight and commute times, although those will be swell. I'm talking about when German supermarkets start rolling that technology into their trolleys and all the other chains copy them. Picture your trolley following you around the aisles, and taking itself back to a trolley return when you've unloaded it. Imagine how livable it will be in suburbs near a giant shopping centre when the trolleys littered in the nearby streets, outside apartment blocks, and in the ditches next to the train stations all have the ability to drive themselves back home.
Also, it was 41 today. For those who've been following this week and are curious, the max temperature select is hard coded up to 50.
Sometimes, when I want to feel nostalgic, I'll play music that I listened to heavily during a past period of my life. Music is second only to smell in that it can transport you to another time with a single twinge of the sense. And it's much more convenient to recreate on demand than odours.
Other times I might read through an old year worth of journal entries to reminisce. It's amazing what kind of extra memories are conjured simply by reading through thoughts I wrote at the time. I feel plugged in to that era.
On days I'm feeling really narcissistic I'll do both. The year's top singles while reading the year's posted experiences. It's like my mind is right there back in 2011 or 2007.
Sometimes I'll listen to the top songs from one year while reading the journal entries from a completely different year. That's an uncanny mental sensation. I can feel parts of my brain distorting in jelly-like ripples as it tries to chronologically orient itself while being thrashed by waves of nostalgia.
Sometimes I like to turn the hairdryer at my armpit and hold it there. There's a point right before the skin burns where the nerves tingle in a way I've never felt anywhere else on my body. I don't know if it's pleasure or pain, but something makes me keep doing it.
It was sunny at lunchtime today. Skin-burning sunny. There was a lot of exposed skin getting around town. Across the back of someone's exposed shoulders the word "Invincible" had been tattooed. That's a courageous tattoo. I wouldn't even journal that word.
Later on I saw a guy with a parasol, which I thought was even braver.
I need some new clothes.
I have a new problem where I feel like I can't go into a clothes shop if I'm currently wearing that shop's brand on the day.
Seeing that I now exclusively wear Rodd & Gunn polos, this is not good.
I was proud of myself today. I had no lunch, and I was faced with either choosing something from one of Adelaide's many vendors, or eating delicious cereal for lunch (hours after eating delicious cereal for breakfast). Normally I do the latter, because of my previously mentioned Analysis Paralysis.
Today I did a lap of a food-court and then gave up. I left, but stopped and reasoned with myself. I worried that I could be feeding a condition where I couldn't make decisions. If it continued to grow I might one day starve to death.
So I marched myself back into the food-court and up to a Thai food stall. I ordered a regular serve of satay chicken with noodles. It was very bad.
Our office has a boiling water dispenser and I do use this to wash out my coffee cup prior to making my next coffee.
Today the person behind me muttered something under her breath when I did this. I thought she was feeling impatient just because I was delaying her cup-of-tea workflow. But she then asked me to think about how wasteful it was to pour boiling water down the drain. Then she used boiling water dispenser to make her tea.
I thought about it. At a universal level I don't see what the difference is.
I've had some great times on the January 26ths of my life. Usually sitting around with friends in backyards, listening to the Hottest 100, cooking and eating animals that someone killed for us, swimming or playing in shorts and bare feet.
That's what Australia Day was to me, and to a lot of people who presently have access to social media and news website comments. I can understand the defensiveness whenever the idea of cancelling Australia Day comes up. Life in Australia has changed over the last two decades. We work longer, commute further, communicate less with the people around us. We have the all the tragedies in the world beamed into our eyeballs by our phones and computers and the televisions in our living rooms, bedrooms, train stations, on petrol pumps and inside elevators. For a while there Australia Day stood out as the one bankable opportunity where we could all forget about the shitty state of the world and our lives, and revel in tipsy, nostalgic ignorance with our friends.
These experiences were already under threat from house prices, social apathy and a decreasing number of friends with access to a hills hoist. Then Invasion Day started trending.
Like a lot of Australia Day-celebrating adults I grew up in whiteland, where other races and cultures were like chocolate sampler boxes - mostly brown, and only one of each. At my school we had the Indian guy, the Japanese girl, the Greek, the Arab. I don't even remember there being a Chinese person or an Indigenous Australian. I'd like to pretend that was because I didn't see skin colour, but I suspect there really were none.
I also don't like acknowledging genocide, or other human atrocities. Who the fuck would? They are evidence that people were uncaring and brutal in the past, and a reminder that we had to go and descend from them.
But reality shouldn't hold us back from changing our views over time. It's going to take another millennium until we've narrowed ourselves down to one culture. Until then we don't have to act like because we were ignorant in the past we have an excuse to be ignorant in the future. We shouldn't pretend that the 26th of January 1788 was just one of many bad days for certain other people, even if we weren't there personally on account of not being born yet.
I doubt that the people who argue in favour of keeping Australia Day on the 26th are really fighting for an annual celebration of the day some British ships docked on NSW shores. They're fighting for those nostalgic feelings of Australia Days past. No one is out there calling it "Happy Genocide Day." They just feel upset when people they don't know want to turn the one day which used to offer a respite from how terrible humanity behaves turns into a day where we all talk about how terrible humanity behaved.
There's an easy fix for all this. Change the date, recognise the hurtfulness of the existing one, keep the rest of the festivities. Finding an appropriate date is going to be impossible. Is there a single day and month combination where zero original land owners were murdered? I doubt it.
So let's make it January 25. The day before the landing. The day before the atrocities started. A summer day where we can still fondly remember better times. And we can all work on being better people, so that on January 26th 3017 humanity hopefully has no recent genocides to think about.
At work someone donated a summer's worth of figs. They were in a bowl in the office kitchen.
I'd never eaten a fig before. I looked up the steps for eating one on WikiHow in a toilet cubicle. I really appreciate that, in some ways, we live in the golden age for introverts. It tasted nice.
At the gym when I was 23, if someone was using the piece of equipment I needed I took it as a hint to try a different variation for that muscle group.
At the gym at 32, if someone is using the piece of equipment I need I take it as a hint that I should skip that body part today altogether, as it's a sign from the universe that it's diverting me from a new, chronic injury.
2011. I had a bread addiction.
When the psychiatrist asked me to think of situations that triggered my behaviour, I answered Woolworths bakery, close to the end of the day.
He showed me an inkblot, symmetrical and jagged, like the crossbones of a roadkill Jolly Roger.
"What do you see?" he said.
"A Mocha Hot Cross Bun."
Flashbacks from six years ago. My last relapse, sucking down a six-pack a day. Buying a dozen with the intent of freezing buns that were never frozen.
I thought it was all behind me, that my penchant for those delicious, sweet bread-sacks of wheat, chocolate and coffee had gone stale. After all, Jesus had risen, Woolworths stopped selling them, and in the years that followed I never even felt the urge to eat them again.
Then, in 2017, I saw the sticker.
Not just that sticker, but the other sticker too.
Later I would discover Woolworths stopped making them after 2011. I guess those piles of packs marked down for clearance were because the bakers shared my lack of impulse control. For whatever reason, six years later, they decided to bring them back.
Mocha Hot Cross Buns - The Resurrection.
I'll just buy a packet and eat them for the sake of a journal entry, my brain lied. It wasn't really my thoughts. It was the voice. The whispering of addiction. Would I be foolish enough to break bread with that monkey on my back? The voice told me it would be okay. The voice told me one wouldn't hurt.
"I don't think so," I told the voice.
We got home from food shopping. The buns were on the top of the bag. Adding them to my trolley, putting the self-service checkout on mute, using a 5.25% discounted Woolwoths E-Gift Card at the register, ignoring the checkout assistant, stealing a pump of her hand sanitiser as I left. I didn't remember any of this. The voice had whispered in my ear the whole time, keeping me complicit.
It was debatably morning tea time. I unwrapped the plastic and pulled one free, placing it in the microwave on a sheet of paper towel. It was almost all muscle memory. The 10sec button once, the 1sec button seven times. Too long and it would burn me. Too short and it would maintain too much structural integrity. Seventeen seconds The perfect amount of microwaving to bring the bun to that ideal penumbra between food and delicious, chocolatey nourishment goo. I slurped it down, deaf to the world and the feelings of guilt and shame and regret. There was only thing I could think of.
"More," said the voice. Mocking me. It was back. "You forgot to take a photo. Eat another one."
I tried to recall the 12 Step Program and I heard the voice say, "Two more six packs."
By lunchtime the packet was down to 2. In a sudden moment of clarity I considered flushing the rest down the toilet, but that joke was only funny when I was renting. I felt anger, confusion and, according to the voice, hunger.
Worse, I hadn't even thought of a single good thought to journal about my relapse.
"Relax," said the voice. "You have until April 16."
I stared at the remaining two buns, slick with doughy-sweat on the inside of the packet. The bread tie all that separated me from another backwards step. And I replied to the voice, "No."
No. I was not the same person I was in 2011. My base metabolic rate was 40 calories per day higher then. Also I have a wife and a dog now.
The voice said something, I couldn't make it out. It's strength was crumbling.
Those two buns sat in the pantry for another seven days, waiting for me to falter. I never faltered.
At the end of the week they were weak, drying. They still looked edible.
"Eat them," the voice begged as I opened the garbage bin. "The flavour, the texture, the fuzzy feeling in the brain. Eat them."
"Who are you talking to right now?" I said. "Who is it you think you see? You clearly don't know who you're talking to, so let me clue you in. You are not the flavour, bread. I am the flavour! A guy opens his door and gets crossed and you think that of me? No...
I am the one who mochs."
A new person attended writer's group tonight with an old, leather-bound tome. Between discussing the character motivations of ghosts, and a debate about if using the phrase "Don't look at gift horse in the mouth" was inspired or clumsy when it involved looking an actual gift horse in the mouth, we heard the ancient book's owner read a passage. The book belonged to his grandfather, and was written between 1895 and 1908. It was a historical account that documented the travels of a Scandinavian tradesperson as they wandered through western Europe in search of the next job. Along with some amusing anecdotes, philosophical musings and weather updates were many drawings by the author of the things he had encountered.
That's when I realised it was the oldest blog I'd ever seen. And it inspired me to write this entry and share a picture too.
What kind of person likes doing jigsaw puzzles, I asked myself, as I attempted to find a place for one of the thousand freaking fragments of Starry Night. My progress on recreating the painting on my kitchen table was slow, and I wasn't gaining any new appreciation of Van Gogh's brush style. (Starry Night is actually the best painting I've ever seen "live", but that didn't help my mood either).
There had to be some cognitive benefit to puzzle work, I hoped more than truly believed, that would justify the weeks I'd spent. Critical Thinking, surely? I decided to Google it.
At first I was excited, many websites listed brain improvements from puzzling. Unfortunately the closer I looked the less scientific backing I found. I needed empirical evidence. Finally I uncovered one study, which identified only a single benefit: relaxation.
Well I wasn't feeling particularly fucking relaxed at that point. I really just wanted the puzzle completed so I could use the table for assembling 10246 Detective's Office (I'm hoping it will inspire another novel). I continued searching, and finally I found another study that listed a benefit of doing puzzles as "increasing skills solving further puzzles."
I read a lot of books, typically I don't review them. I'm more comfortable judging my fellow, unpublished writers than I am those who have sold something that I've then read. I keep thinking I should change that, and so I'll start my first published book review with the novel I completed yesterday, Anonymous Rex by Eric Garcia.
Spoiler Warning, I guess...
Published in 1999, Anonymous Rex is an nearly unbearable by-the-numbers American detective story with a single redeeming twist: dinosaurs never went extinct. They spent the last 65 million years evolving to be smaller and now they live among humans in society in latex/poly-suit suits. All your favourite dinosaur species are accounted for - triceratops, tyrannosaurus, brontosaurus, diplodocus, duck bills, stegosaurus - each now human sized. The subject of how they lived among society before latex was invented does not come up.
...a pinch lances out from my tucked-away tail. I shake my rump, but the pain persists, small and sharp, as if a minnow with shark's teeth has found himself at an all-you-can-eat brunch on my tail and refuses to leave the buffet line. It's my darned G-3 clampâ€”somehow it has shifted to the left, the metal buckle digging into my hide, and there's no way to rectify the situation other than to completely readjust the entire G series. It's a quick process, simple enough, but would necessitate releasing my tail out into the great wide open for a few precious minutes. If any humans were to come in...
Our narrator, and down-on-his-luck detective, is a raptor named Vincent.
The dinosaurs among the populace can easily tell who the other dinosaurs are based on smell, as all dinosaurs scent glands produce strong, unique odours. Vincent has an extremely acute sense of smell, as well as a charming and flirty nature, an ability to open almost any door with a credit card, and the ability to waltz, tango and cha-cha impressively. Beyond the smells it's very easy for dinosaurs to completely change their appearance by wearing a new poly-suit.
The smelling part comes is important later, because later it turns out a human (with no smell) is actually a dinosaur! And then a dinosaur with a smell is actually a human! Those two twists underpin the whole mystery, which Vincent unwraps with a sense of predictability. He encounters the grieving widow, the femme fatale singing jazz at an underground bar, the eccentric scientist. The plot might have been the inspiration for Threat Level Midnight. In fact, when I was a third of the way through I began to ponder if this originally started as a terrible detective novel that never intended to mention dinosaurs until it needed an angle. Jurassic Park was probably at the height of its popularity at the time this book was being written.
Eventually the dinosaurs and their species became important to the story. Different kinds of dinosaurs can't interbreed, which makes certain characters work beyond the laws of nature and the dinosaur council to find a solution. The idea of a dinosaur and a human breeding comes up too, but that is strongly frowned upon by dinosaur society, the same way humans look down on having sex with lizards in real life.
Vincent's investigation takes him to New York, back to L.A., then back to New York again. A lot of his breakthroughs come from people mailing him things they thought he might need, or characters simply spilling way too much information when Vincent talks to them, both methods of reveal that I didn't like. His final breakthrough came accidentally when a human walked in on him with his poly-suit pants off (and tail swishing around). He thought he would have to kill her, but she revealed she was a dinosaur with no scent glands! If only he had found that out before he had that weird, forbidden sex with herâ€¦.
...my engorged member tight against the confines of the poly-suit extension, tight within the confines of my new lover, she moves with me, our energies coalescing into one great wave of movement and heat. With dinos, the sounds are shrieks and moans, howls to the religion of pleasure. With Sarah, there are soft murmurs and syncopated heartbeats, delicate gasps and whispers to the night...
Because this scene happened towards the climax of the novel I figured I'd lost enough to keep on reading until the final scene.
I mean, that was a good twist. It could have been set up better if Vincent had encountered another dinosaur without scent glands earlier in the story, instead of in the preceding chapter, which kind of flagged that it was about to happen. Like how I mentioned the dinosaurs had scent glands at the top of this review. That's how to structure!
I'm not sure if this novel would have been published in present times. I guess that's because I'm cynical and feel like twenty years ago it was easier for books to be published because a brick-and-mortar bookstore was still a valid business model. That said, not only was this book published but there were actually two sequels published as well! Then I guess the author took a look at himself in the mirror, or couldn't mind-map his way out of the plot holes.
Anyway, despite his corny jokes, I truly admired Garcia's commitment to the premise and determination to push through no matter what. The fact that he got this published fills me with optimism about my own writing, and thus I give it five stars.
April Fools, the sun sets at 4pm now.
April Fools also it's really cold.
April Fools, only 2261 of the 2262 pieces are in the box.
In 2004 I conditioned myself like Pavlov's Dog by cracking a beer after nightfill shifts and simultaneously listening to the melody of Bedrock's 1999 trance classic Heaven Scent. Over a decade later and every time I hear those chords (which admittedly is not that often) I am hit with salivating and the thirst for a beer, even first thing in the morning. That was the worst mistake I ever made in the field of messing with my brain's lower-consciousness functions. Until now.
Welcome to this closing-bracket follow up to September 20th's entry The Future of my Wallet. Six months had passed since my little brain experiment began, and I was beyond feeling any dissonance when the times came to put my wallet and my phone in my pockets. My wallet sat on my left hip, my phone now pride of place on my right, and nary a headphone-cable snag I could recollect. My brain pulsed with the muscle that this reprogramming had strengthened. Life was good.
That was until I found the one downside of carrying my phone on my right side. Right was the side that exited the car first. Many times after driving during the previous summers I'd discover my phone missing, and later find it on the driver's seat where it had slipped free of the loose pockets of my dri-fit shorts that I wear as deep into Autumn as possible. Now in my right pocket, fate finally intervened and as I climbed out of the car last Friday my phone jumped with me and cracked onto the cement of my garage, the last thing it would ever do.
Let this tale be a warning to those readers who've waited to hear of the outcome of my mental reprogramming (particularly my Mum, who commented â€˜Keep persevering! :)'). The warning is not to avoid messing with your habits, conditioning and instincts. It's to not keep your phone in your right pocket and wear dri-fit shorts when driving. I've now been downgraded to a five year old phone that I hate (and am eternally grateful to the lenders of, as those hours between phones were not pleasant). At least I can still listen to Spotify on my way to work. I snagged my headphone cable on the fence at the railway crossing first thing on Monday morning.
Obviously I don't like to revisit the past too often, but the events of today have reminded me of a relevant short story I wrote twelve years ago.
Further, if my understanding of the Coles packaging waste recycling system is correct, it means my filthy mustache might soon make it into a primary school playground for small children to sit on.
One of the saddest times of the year.
Sometime between summer's final sunset and winter's ubiquitous, gloomy chill comes a period of time where all of mankind face the same problem. It doesn't matter if you live in Adelaide, or Sydney, or Melbourne, or Pyongyang, or London, or Aleppo, there are going to be days you wake up and think, "Today is too cold for a t-shirt, but too warm for a jumper."
These are the long-sleeve shirt conundrums of Autumn, where you have a section of your wardrobe filled with long-sleeved shirts that you never seem to wear because one day the temperature goes from 22 and sunny to a top of 12 and showers and you have to delay the skivvies another six months.
Today's forecast was for a very consistent daytime starting from 18 and never going higher than 22. I would be away from home for ten hours, so a long sleeved shirt would have to keep me warm enough for the morning commute, but not too warm such that I felt uncomfortable eating my reheated beans and rice straight out of the microwave for lunch. I picked out a cream top with a crew neck and on my walk from the car to the office I was warm and content. From there things took a bad turn. After my coffee I had to roll up my sleeves, and when sitting in the sun during my break I had to undo one of the buttons too. I didn't unroll my sleeves until well after I'd returned home.
However, I wasn't the only one that day in a long sleeved shirt, or even a long-sleeved shirt with the arms rolled up. So while I did feel tepid throughout the afternoon I also felt peace knowing that all over the world other people were dealing with the same struggles I was faced with.
ANZAC Day is an annual reminder of the service provided to Australia and New Zealand by our defense forces. It's also an annual reminder that I should dial back the temperature setting of my freezer for the next six months.
You probably shouldn't make jokes about ANZAC Day.
Yeah, I'm the idiot who waited until late on ANZAC Day Eve to try and buy a loaf of Turkish Bread from the supermarket. That's why I had to settle for Lebanese bread for supper.
These two pots of Calla Lilies are bringing the lesson of 2017. Last year these pots contained strong, vivacious plants. One in full bloom, one full of promise. By the start of Autumn both had failed, leaves wilted, flowers gone.
The obvious moral is, no matter if you focus on multiple goals, or just try and get by, ultimately we're all going to die anyway.
Dale jerked awake. He grabbed the phone from his underwear.
"Big staff morning tea. There's platters! Where are you?"
Dale was fully alert now. Catered meetings equalled a free meal. If he stuffed himself enough he wouldn't need to buy lunch, and that would mean he could go his entire lunch-break without having to speak to another person.
He stood quickly, feeling a tingling sensation in his right leg. The whole limb still slept. He peered out the cubicle, the restroom was empty. He dragged his legs to the sinks and then out the door, heading for the big meeting room. He tried to walk like he wasn't limping. Faking it 'til he made it.
A woman with bright red lipstick was patrolling the empty cubicles. They made eye-contact. He glanced away.
"Hey," she called.
Dale froze. She'd noticed his gait! She couldn't mention it out loud, surely. It felt like it should be corporate policy to keep those kind of observations to yourself.
"I was looking everywhere for you," she said. "Everyone's already in the meeting room. Come on, don't keep Mike waiting."
Dale was primarily relieved she hadn't mention the leg, and found himself falling into stride with her brisk pace all the way to Meeting Room One. She pulled open the door and Dale stepped into the front of the room and most people's worst nightmare. The back of a podium, a crowd of hungry-eyed Compucon employees staring at it, and a long table of pastries and fruit protected by an invisible barrier of an impending public speech.
"Hey there." Mike stood beside him on the makeshift stage, leaning against the back wall. A small, expensive-looking carry on suitcase with its handle up stood next to him. Dale wondered if there were things in it, or if Mike brought it with him to make him look perpetually busy. He pondered if he should buy one for himself.
"Hello," committed Dale.
Dale knew who he was talking to. 'Michael Silvers - Regional Director, APAC' on company press releases. Mike when signing off his quarterly VLogs. Dale had watched them all on mute at his desk when he'd had audiobooks he wanted to listen to.
"Ten years, hey?" Mike chuckled. "I bet you know where all the bodies are buried."
Dale didn't know what it was ten years until, so he remained silent.
The woman, Mike's administrative assistant, stepped up to the podium. She demanded attention using only her body language, throwing sand over the smouldering hum of conversation.
"Thanks for your patience. Please welcome your regional director this morning to say a few words."
Mike took big steps and collected the microphone from her. "Thanks," he said as a flimsy applause petered out. "I won't take up much of your time, I know you've probably all picked out your cupcakes, and we're all busy people."
Dale felt a pang of guilt, which may in fact have been culpability.
"But," Mike continued. "I do think it's important to take a minute every now and again to reflect that it's the people who are ultimately the key to a business. We can sign large contracts, make big profits, deliver exceptional value to our clients, but none of these would happen without great people. Human beings, all of you, are Compucon's most valuable assets."
Dale wondered if this was the preface to another downsizing announcement.
"Today," Mike continued. "We're celebrating a milestone for one of those important assets. A man who needs no introduction to any of you, as today he is celebrating having been here for ten years!"
The crowd applauded. Dale went to slap his hands together too, until he realised the rows of people were looking at him while they clapped. Mike looked straight at him. He felt an uncomfortable notion wash over his entire body, including his half-asleep leg.
Ten years. Him? Was that possible?
At some point Dale had known the exact date of his first day at a global consulting firm destined to shortly be acquired by Compucon. Later on he'd at least been able to recall the month. Now the year seemed a little uncertain. Soon he might not even recall the decade.
While Dale spun his memory he half-listened as Mike spoke phrases about loyalty, pressure under fire, and attention to detail. He mentioned the synergy that emerged when one person remained in one job over ten years. The expertise that developed.
Dale considered if he had any expert knowledge. He knew that thirteen seconds was the required factor of multiplication if you wanted the kitchenette microwave to present your mug handle in the exact place it had started.
"A leader, even without the title," Mike said.
And it was true that at some point over the years, between restructures and promotions and retirements that Dale had gone from working at Compucon with people who'd started before him, to now working at Compucon with people who started after him. A certain level of unspoken respect had been shown to him the past few years. His colleagues seemed to draw the simplest explanation, that Dale had worked there so long because he knew what he was doing. Maybe he'd abused that assumption too much, his seniority by obscurity.
Mike was nodding. "And there are a number of projects that would never have been possible without his level of experience."
The only flicker of recognition he had for the projects Mike rattled off was the names. It was possible he'd been assigned to them, or at least charged his time against their project codes. Had he wasted the best years of his life working on them? Or procrastinating? Drinking coffee and reading articles on the internet?
Maybe he had been involved in those projects. Was the him he thought he was, really the him he had been? Mike spoke with such effortless confidence that Dale felt confused. Maybe Mike knew the real him?
It couldn't be ten years. But maybe it was?
Mike continued to extol Dale's virtues to the crowd. The speech lasted a harrowing seventy seconds. Then he beckoned Dale forward, into the limelight. Dale's guts squirmed. He forced himself off the wall. Mike shook his hand and passed him an envelope. A fifty-dollar coupon for Ultimate Fishing Supplies peeked out.
Fishing? Really? Dale didn't like fishing at all. Or maybe he did. Compucon seemed to know him better than he knew himself.
Mike turned back to the crowd. "Please give a hand to one of Compucon's most treasured people, Christopher Gurkeerat."
Compucon applauded. Dale looked at the front of the envelope, it said Christopher. Was he really Christopher? No, he knew he was Dale. But no one he worked with realised that. Or cared enough to delay morning tea.
After the speech I found Dale with a plate piled high with pastries, his back in a corner.
"Do you want to go get a coffee after that?" I asked.
He nodded, still chewing.
"Christopher was that Indian guy who they made redundant last year. He must still be in the HR system."
Dale swallowed. "I didn't think it could really be my ten year anniversary today."
I laughed. "No, Dale."
He look relieved, like he still had time to work out what the real Dale wanted to be.
"Actually your ten year anniversary was yesterday."
I stepped from the shower this morning and spotted a little, pink dude not normally seen out in the open. It was resting on the counter by the sink in this amazing mid-May sunlight.
Notoriously shy and hard to find, tweezers prefer dark habitats. Somewhere sheltered like beneath mattresses or between couch cushions. They also migrate between dens regularly, to escape detection from predators. They mainly eat body hair.
After drying I came back to the bathroom with my phone to take a picture of them, but the tweezers were gone and I haven't seen them since.
At lunchtime there was dark and dreary weather in the sky and in my lumbar spine. I chose to spend my break performing a gentle walk of the mall.
During this brief stroll I encountered, separately, three different people from my workplace. People who all ask me in passing how I'm going without ever really pausing to hear the answer. As I passed each person I prepared my half-nod of recognition, but each time my colleague ignored me completely and walked on by.
One or two I could understand, but three in a row seemed odd. Was I dead, and Bruce Willising my way down the mall? A chugger then stopped me to ask for a donation to cat rescuing, so I knew I was still living. But it was still weird. Was the pretense of camaraderie we shared in the office so flimsy it faded after only metres. Perhaps I'm just not that recognisable.
Back in the kitchenette I was microwaving my lunch and one of the same people walked by and commented that it looked healthy.
"Good," I said reflexively. "How are you?" But he'd already moved on.
I was walking the dog last week in the NBA Finals Commercial Break length period of daylight that exists between getting home from work and sunset.
“It’s okay,” I told Nash as she trotted carelessly over perpetually moist grass. “It’s only three weeks ‘til solstice, then it will be getting lighter every day.”
My brain crunched the information, cross-referenced my vague understanding of the solar system and reported back that this meant another six weeks until there we were back up to the same amount of daylight as we had today.
Welcome to a period of the year I like to call the, “Why didn’t I book a northern hemisphere holiday damn it?” period. AKA the opposite of daylight savings, Daylight Suckings. In mid January you can sometimes fit so many activities during the evening that it almost feels like you didn’t even go to work since the last time you slept. During Daylight Suckings you get out of bed on a Saturday and realise half the morning is gone and it’s almost lunchtime.
At least the leaves are pretty colours.
This time last year I was flying out of Adelaide on my way to Munich.
There's no international travel this winter, but on this same grey date I did visit a South Australian Aldi for the first time.
Today Snapchat gave some perhaps unintended insight into how global warming features in the minds of the smartphone generations.
Two mornings ago the cold air made my nose bleed for the tenth time this winter, this time right as I boarded an express train to the city. I decided that as soon as I was no longer hiding in the nook of the carriage and I’d reached my desk that I was going to see a doctor about the blood noses.
I visited that doctor today, and instead of cauterising the weak spot he decided to first treat it with some antibacterial ointment. This wasn’t going to help me with descriptions for my upcoming post-apocalyptic climate change and cannibalism story, but I guess it was an easy option to try for a week before returning for the fire.
I took my prescription to the pharmacy where the kind pharmacist retrieved the ointment. Then she demonstrated admirably the exact process of peeling down an eyelid and exposing the creamy sclera, before mock rubbing the inside of the lid, and smooshing the imaginary cream over her eyeballs. She blinked dramatically to conclude the application, then she mentioned not to drive for at least thirty minutes afterwards.
I hadn’t heard about the prescription also functioning as an eye cream, and because I initially had to process why I was being shown eye steps, I didn’t have a chance to interrupt this performance before I’d seen the underside of her eyelid and into her soul. I knew then, there was no way to address the fact that she’d exposed herself for nothing, and that I was only going to be sticking the tube up my nose. I muttered, ‘thanks’, and took the box to the checkout.
Sometimes these things happen in life, someone over-shares based on a false assumption and you have no choice but to carry on with this new, undesired information through to the conclusion. Because to admit that they’ve over shared for no reason would only add to the awkwardness.
Then I wondered, maybe Dogs can understand English...
This afternoon I was heating milk for my coffee in the kitchenette, and that is boring, but I didn’t have my phone with me. So I glanced at the muted TV in the corner for hopefully 55 seconds of entertainment.
The TV was on the SBS cooking channel, and when I looked over it was literally showing a microwave counting down.
I went home shortly after.
My usual Autumn Playlist of new musics is a little late this year. Maybe that’s because winter, too, was late, and only now is it raining daily and my playlist finished. Maybe it’s because I created a separate playlist for rap music this year, so I had to find an extra six tracks to fill up this one.
I’ll share it below, ready for me to revisit over the rest of my life to remind me of the start of 2017. There’s a lot of pop music, which I guess is because the world is so depressing and indiscriminately unjust that happy tunes are needed to get through it. Or maybe it’s because I’m getting older, and my myelinated axons are slowly losing their resilience to commercialism and/or craving the synthetic feelings of youth.
Well, I rebuilt my site in just over a month. And I added SSL, Captchas and mobile friendliness in the process.
That's pretty cool.
Post in the comments which of your favourite old features is now missing.
I’m standing, waiting in a crowd at a ‘Don’t Walk’ sign in the city. On the other side of the road I need to go right, but there’s going to be people crossing beside me who will force me to slow down. That’s when I spot the traffic-light post on the opposite side of the street. It makes eye-contact back and lifts up a fist. The pick is set.
Welcome to the first entry in a series about the mundane things that I do incredibly well.
My journal is a place to celebrate things I’m good at in life, but none of my abilities are what are traditionally thought of as great or noteworthy. I won’t be winning critical awards, recognition for technical expertise within my industry, or athletic gold medals. But, there are little things in life which offer their own opportunities for excellence. Things you probably already practice every day, without realising it’s something you might be capable of being incredibly good at.
Today’s topic, fast walking.... Which I guess actually is an Olympic sport, but anyway...
One of the things people tell me whenever we walk somewhere together for the first time is, “Brad, you walk so fast.” Often they will make reference to my long legs, as if that explains everything. Long legs are helpful for fast walking, but they’re not required. There are other techniques and strategies that even the stubbiest legged person can use. What distinguishes a great fast walker is not their legs, but their head.
Before we talk about how to walk fast, let’s reflect on why we want to. Walking fast has so many benefits in daily life:
I keep an eye on the road’s traffic lights, and when they turn amber I am primed for my own light to change to green. I step off the curb, already angling my shoulders slightly right to cross the road on the hypotenuse.
Beside me a man is also striding briskly, and he’s on my right. Locomotion and reflexes are core facets of fast walking, but they’re not unique, so he and I are evenly matched. If I want to continue minimising the distance travelled to go left once I’m over the road I will have to either cut him off, which would be impolite, or I need to slow down a step to cut behind him.
That would be if I hadn’t already lined myself up with the traffic light pole before I started crossing. When we reach the opposite curb our trajectories are taking my shoulder right past the pole, and the man’s path straight into it. I slide past the screen and into open footpath, alone. A demonstration of good versus great fast walking has just been given to those still ambling halfway across the crossing. I don’t see the man again.
Using inanimate objects as screens isn’t the only benefit a basketball background brings to fast walking. At its essence, a skilled fast walker is not so good at moving fast as they are at moving smoothly. Anyone can hustle uncontrollably towards a destination, just hang out by the train station in the afternoon peak hour and see. There will always be obstacles, both stationary and moving, between your feet and where you want to go. The ability to pivot, move laterally, and euro-step as appropriate will be the difference between getting to your location quickly, and walking up the back of an old woman with a walking frame accidentally. The most important thing is feeling in control of your movement. If you don’t feel confident, you will not hit your top speed, and a truly great fast walker will soon overtake you.
Sometimes, while walking fast in a sea of slow walkers, it’s possible to become self conscious about the gait or bob your pace brings with it. Any hesitation caused by this image management will slow you down. A true fast walker must block out all negative thoughts. A good pair of black sunglasses and/or some noise cancelling headphones playing something upbeat will solve that problem.
I'm a vegan. After a couple of documentaries, Vanessa suggested we try eating vegan diets for a few weeks to see if we notice any improvements in our varying health problems.
I tend to be a bit skeptical towards claims about meat and dairy made in a documentary written, directed, produced, edited and scored by the same vegan. But I think people who say, “the years are just flying by!” are the same people who never try anything new. So why not give it a shot?
So I'm vegan now. It's an interesting feeling. I have this nagging urge to tell everyone that I'm vegan, even if we're talking about something unrelated.
Today, on my first full day of the new diet I undertook the important new-vegan task of eating up all the remaining meat, cheese and yogurt in the fridge.
I landed just before lunchtime and caught the train to Barangaroo. The contrast between Adelaide's CBD and Sydney's latest redevelopment is astounding. I feel like there are more jobs in these new buildings than there are in the entire state of South Australia. All the fast food outlets have classy, monotone logos.
As I explored, a business-woman in a stylish running outfit and a full face of makeup jogged past me, sealing a consultancy deal via Bluetooth headset as she reached five kilometres. I remembered why I left.
Some tips/ideas for networking on your own at a conference:
It's a scary thing to take leave and treat your hobby like a job. That's what I attempted over the past few days, spending hard earned IT industry money on flights and accommodation in Sydney to research and write the chapters of my sequel to Law & Odour, despite no publishers yet showing interest in the original.
Unperturbed by the voice of reason I packed my notebook, pen and phone and set about visiting locations, ordering coffees there and writing chapters. I'm not sure exactly how many words I scribbled, but my thumb, elbow, shoulder and neck are all exceedingly tender now so I believe it was a decent total.
I admit, upon landing I was a little nervous that I would struggle to run with the threads of my prepared plot, which actually could have been a blessing. I would have had concrete proof that I was a terrible artist and I should focus on preventing cloud hosted artificial intelligence from stealing my current job. Instead I have thousands of words needing editing so that they can be compiled into a manuscript, discovered after my death and turned into a mildly successful Netflix series created, edited and starring cloud hosted artificial intelligence.
While visiting, I also attended the NSW Writers Centre's annual Speculative Fiction Festival. There I learnt about the business side of writing, and how to network by standing and staring at successful authors until they felt awkward enough to invite you into their conversations.
And, perhaps the best thing I learnt over the course of my trip was that I shouldn't set my novel in Sydney. San Francisco here I come, either for my next writing blitz, or for my final showdown in Silicon Valley to try and take my job back from cloud hosted artificial intelligence servers.
I’m sorry that your babies are stolen from you and the male ones slaughtered so that you will perpetually produce breast milk for humans to consume until you die a premature death.
But if you think that’s bad, you should try soy milk in your coffee.
In the last days of autumn I read a guide to the optimal flavour temperatures for different types of beers. I didn't pay much attention, because at that time of year the optimal temperature for beer was coincidentally whatever temperature it was in my fridge.
It's been a long, cold winter since. Finally, on a visit to the Prancing Pony Brewery to sample their IPA, I realised that letting certain beers warm up a little can make a big difference to how good they taste. For the back half of winter I've been leaving my wheatier beer out for fifteen minutes before drinking. It's still cold, but the edge is gone and the flavours that had been missing during those gloomy months are brighter and punchier.
I walked to work this morning, noticing the buds on the trees. For the first time in a while I didn’t feel the need to stick my hands in my pockets. The wind was still cool, but it wasn’t freezing. The wind was the temperature of a beer left out of the fridge for fifteen minutes. And the breeze in my face was like the first mouthful of a whole summer of flavour.
I went down to the river at lunchtime, there were no ducklings.
This morning I dropped Nash off for her first ever visit to doggy daycare. The moment we walked through the door even Nash was overwhelmed by the big eyes and excited sounds and blur of limbs. And that was just the staff.
Later that morning “Nash” sent me a “Pawesome” text message/essay… I think I should have made Vanessa the contact number...
Hi Dad, it's me Nash! My Pack Leader asked me to send you a text letting you know how my morning at daycare is going!
I have settled in nicely now that I've sniffed absolutely everything and everyone! I've made a new best friend, his name is Leo and he is a terrier mix, whatever that means, all I know is he is super fun!!
Well Leo is bugging me to get back to our game so I better get going, I can't wait to tell you all about the rest of my day when you pick me up later! Hope you have a PAWESOME day, I know I will!!
Lots of love, Nash
I wonder what kind of text she would send if I never came back to pick her up.
I'm 33, does that mean I can retire now?
If I did, I wonder if I'd be chaired off on my last day. I think we could make it at least as far as the lifts.
Today a particularly potent awkward silence made me say, “Hello acquaintance, how are you today?”
“I'm doing well, Brad. How are you?”
“I'm also not comfortable describing my true emotional state out loud.”
“A cloud passed in front of the sun today, and when I reflexively checked the weather on my phone I noticed that this weekend's forecast is considerably different to today's weather.”
“I also can't leave any buildings without checking the weather online first, and I can confirm your statement is accurate.”
“Thanks for not making this conversation weird.”
“No problems. Once we go our separate ways I might even feel good about the lack of awkward silence. But don't worry, I'll ignore the endorphins my brain generates after successfully socialising by distracting myself with the instant gratification of internet pictures.”
I've been asked to keep a tendon diary. I need to record the pain and stiffness out of ten, every morning for four weeks. And also note what I did the day before. Could I manage that?
I said, I've kept a journal of far less important things for over a decade, I can handle twenty-eight days.
Tendon Journal, Day 1
I've suffered through chronic pain for so long now that I'm forgetting that the people around me aren't feeling the same way I do. I'm talking about pain that gnaws at you the longer the day goes on, that makes it so you can't find a comfortable position to hold your body in, has you hopping from side to side by 3pm to shift the pressure because you can't sit still. Pain that makes it hard to focus on the words on a screen. Pain that makes you speak short, curt answers to everything even though you don't want to be grumpy. Every single day. For years.
I know, I'm not the only one with lingering injuries, or past trauma. I know that others are dealing with terminal illnesses, or dying in floods, or all of the above.
But it's reached the point now where I'm actually scared of couches. I don't sit on them. If they're soft, or low, my lumbar freaks out. It can take less than a minute to happen, and the inflammation can last for weeks. I avoid chairs too, plastic, wooden, office chairs. Anything firm will compress my hamstring tendon. Everything I sit down on is an investment into future pain. Every walk I take has a future cost.
It's gotten really bad lately. Despite years of resting, stretching, strengthening, icing, medicating, standing, inebriation. Despite paying thousands for physiotherapy, radiology, anti-inflammatories, and ergonomic improvements the pain is so ubiquitous that I feel like I'm losing touch with reality. I’m trapped in its cycle. It’s reached a point where I feel like I have to write about my internal burdens so they don't consume me from within.
I just want to live a normal life as an IT professional who wants to be a writer/photographer/web designer. I need a way to be able to sit at a computer! I'm writing this on my back with my phone.
I'd rather be broke than inflamed, so I attended another specialist appointment today where I was told much of the previous specialist advice I'd been given by other expensive specialists was mis-advised. I was told exercises and stretches I'd been suffering through every day were probably making things worse. Then I was given new stretches and exercises. Was I optimistic then? Or did I want to punch something? (I would never punch something, I'd probably hurt myself.)
Another thing I was told about tendons is that it can take up to 12 weeks before seeing any improvements, and not to give up before then. I left my appointment, the sunset gleaming on the glass of the city. A certain, remembered warmness lingered in in the air. Winter was over. Twelve weeks. The first day of Hamspring.
It feels crazy that it was only five years ago that I received the original Samsung Galaxy Note. Finally, a phone fit for my giant hands. Observations like that were so amazing. I could use my phone to avoid social interactions and like an abort switch it could actually stimulate small talk.
I kept that phone for years, and multiple s-pens, taking it to New York and Auckland. I wrote many journal entries on it. Eventually I came to hate it. It didn't get much support, became super slow. I cashed it in when I upgraded to Note 5. I wasn't sad to see it go. The above nostalgia is rose tinted.
Then the next day, ironically, I was given a “new” on call phone for work. It was a refurbished Note 1. This was 2015. I don't think it was the same one I handed in. It might have been… I didn't look too closely. I forwarded it to my personal phone, left it plugged into a charger, then forgot about it until last month. That's when I was told by work the contract was up. I asked where I should return the phone, they said I could recycle it or keep it.
So I sold it for $50 online. The point is, don't get attached to your phone.
Posted from my Note 5.
There’s a controversial documentary that, among other contentious suggestions, remarks that an egg contains the nutrients to sustain a growing baby chicken for twenty-one days. And we “eat four of them for breakfast”.
It was at that point this documentary lost its credibility with me. If I want to eat 126 days worth of chicken-forming nutrients in a sitting then I goddamn will, and I won’t feel guilty or sick about it. I’m two metres tall, big brained, warm blooded, and at the top of the food chain. Also, the only thing more diminutive than my size in contrast to the expanse of the known universe is the minute fraction of its lifetime in which I will exist. I should be allowed to eat half a dozen toad in the holes.
I now feel slightly sick about it, but not guilty.
If you're a new writer trying to break into the traditional publishing market in the US or the UK, chances are you'll want the help of a literary agent. Not just any agent, one who likes your story and believes in it, because they're the ones who will be out there trying to sell it.
Tip #1 - One way to find the right agent is to connect with a whole bunch of them on Twitter and keep an eye on what kind of themes or ideas they're looking to represent.
The problem with connecting with a bunch of literary agents on Twitter is that, once the rejections start coming back, now you no longer have somewhere you can post your Tobias Crying in the Shower gif.
That's okay, the market is more competitive than ever these days. Honestly, I'm thankful for every agent who takes the time to write you back and say thanks for submitting. A rejection is far better than never hearing anything, and slightly worse than having an agent represent a story they don't have a true investment in. Good for everyone. The system works!
Tip #2 - Have a backup form of social media that you're confident no one will ever read, so you can let out your true emotions.
My train line is closed for ten weeks, and because I still can't sit down I decided to take the bus into the city this morning. Standing up on a bus gave me a new insight into the windows of other drivers on the road. Holy Shit, the amount of people on their phones and doing other things while driving is scarier than I thought. I saw one woman with her feet on the pedals of a V6 engine and her head in a novel. And she wasn’t even at the end of the book, she was barely a quarter of the way through. Unless it was a choose your own adventure… Still frightening.
I'm not sure I can ever get behind the wheel and drive in peak hour again, now that I know what's truly happening in the cars around me. This sucks, because the other insight I had today is that standing up on a bus really sucks.
I was looking for some inspiration for new characters and stories to write. I downloaded a bunch of true crime podcasts to hopefully give me some ideas.
Ten seconds into listening to the first, I had that creative click: I should write a character who went missing while researching a true crime for a podcast.
Oh, and there was some football on today. And a BBQ. I wore shorts.
According to my physio, my healing progress is slower than he'd expected. Maybe if I buy a third standing desk it could make the difference?
There was one day my butt didn't feel so bad, and I began thinking about taking my rehab to the next level. How do you rehab sitting, I wonder. Find a bench in a park and sit on it for 30 seconds? Repeat five times. Rest one minute in between. Am I seriously only 33?
This time, a decade ago, I was in the final days of my six week weight-lifting and eating experiment I called BULKTEMBER. The fact that I’m writing this at my standing desk, wearing my sacroiliac belt, and twenty-kilograms below my old goal weight tells me something has gone horribly wrong since then. But, if I’m going to dwell on the events of the past ten years of my life, there’s one thing worth focusing on - breakfast.
On October 3rd, 2007 i documented the preparation of my daily breakfast smoothie. And of all the things the universe has taken from me since that day, fruit smoothies ain’t one of them (you tried, Cyclone Yasi, and Hepatitis A Infected Berry Pickers).
My Bulktember documentation gives me an amazing opportunity to see how I’ve changed as a person over ten years. As least when it comes to my smoothies. Some of the changes are related to my lack of current bulking, many others are the influence of Vanessa, who has bulked my heart since 2008.
I still make berry and peanut butter smoothies regularly, but today I thought I’d share my current version of the tropical smoothie, which has been tasting better and better in these first warm spring days.
|6 Ice Cubes||15 Ice Cubes|
|50g Frozen Fruit (mixed berries)||500g Frozen Fruit (frozen mango, banana, pineapple ring)|
|3.5 Weet Bix||50g Soaked Oats|
|200ml Skim Milk||0ml Skim Milk|
|150g No Fat, Low Sugar Yogurt||300g No Fat, Low Sugar Yogurt|
|30g WPI Protein Supplement||No protein|
|1tsp Natural Peanut Butter||1tbsp desiccated coconut|
First we can see a 250% increase in ice cubes. Ice cubes are calorie negative, and this basically extra breakfast for nothing. Vanessa taught me this one, she has a PHD in Physics.
Next we can see the amount of fruit has gone up… A lot. Like, an incredible amount. Like, having re-read a few of the Bulktember entries, I’m pretty sure I was just guessing some of these measurements, and surely I was using more than 50g of berries. But given how much of a tight-arse I was back then, maybe not. Anyway, fruit is good. Read Men’s Health, I’m sure there’s an advertisement pretending to be an article that talks about it.
Three and a half Weet Bix? I don’t remember this. Obviously I needed to eat more than 50g of berries back then, maybe then I wouldn’t have these memory issues. A bit of reasoning tells me at some point I switched from Weet Bix to ice cubes.
Up until this year I did continue to add a single Bix to my smoothies. That was until I tried being a vegan for a few weeks. Weet Bix are vegan, but wet oats help blending non-dairy smoothies a lot more easily than dry Weet Bix. Will I go back to Weet Bix again? Maybe. Come back in 2027.
Milk. I used to use a bunch of it, now I don’t use any. Why? Because I’m a vegan, who eats yogurt and meat and stuff. Every morning is like a running joke about how amusing I found veganism. Still, I guess there's now 1.4 litres less milk that gets drained from some poor cow between atmosphere-destroying farts, and giving some dairy farmer the false hope that they’re not in an unprofitable, dying industry.
Yogurt. I think I’ve covered this enough before, I really like yogurt. (Note to self, add ‘Yogurt’ as tag to future tags feature).
Protein. I get enough protein from vegetables, legumes, oats. And yogurt. And meat. Plus it’s expensive. Who needs protein powder. Right? Or Up and Go Energise, and Tribulus Terrestris and tight-fitting long-sleeve knits. It’s all just the invisible lead up to vanity above a vanity. Focus on more noble pursuits. I mean, why--
Coconut makes it taste tropical and gives it a bit of texture to help replicate that old Weet Bix taste. If it was a berry smoothie I’d use peanut butter again. I no longer feel the need to substitute skipped peanut butter with extra protein powder.
There’s no secret to mixing this thing, other than to defrost the frozen mango if possible/it’s winter. Also I stand by my 2009 Blender choice. It can, and often does, handle twice the number of ice cubes. It doesn’t have a “liquefy” button, but it has one that says “Smoothie” which does the job.
I no longer slam my breakfast smoothie down out of the jug. Instead I sip it through a straw. I think straws can make things taste different, maybe it delivers smoothie to different parts of the tongue first. Someone at Men’s Health should write an article about it to sell some brand of straw or something.
I also drink my smoothie’s with the help of my happy every day monkey cup holder, another of Vanessa’s influences on my smoothie process.
This concludes an eight-hundred word summary of my breakfast smoothie. What a bulky entry.
As I walked down my hall, I noticed one of the canvases needed its wall adhesives re-applied. This on top of the continuous drip, drip of the dying washer in the en-suite shower.
Fine, I sighed, and I did my tax return.
I think fictional crime has ruined true crime podcasts for me. They all kind of sound the same.
On this date, in the seventies or early eighties, a horrific murder took place. Police immediately arrested Bobby McCriminal, who matched the description of the suspect who had sped away in a stolen car.
McCriminal had a history of drug and robbery crimes, but denied the killing. Police interviewed his friend, Heroin Terry, who confirmed Bobby was the killer in exchange for placement in witness protection. Police found a stolen car in Bobby's driveway, and the bloody weapon on his kitchen bench. They arrested him for murder.
Six months later, right before the trial, Heroin Terry confessed he invented his testimony in order to live in witness protection on taxpayer's money. He wasn't called as a witness.
Bobby went to jail, wrote a book and then fell ill and died shortly after his release. That's the only reason I feel safe recapping his clumsy exploits in this podcast.
I remembered to clean my BBQ after its last use before winter. Today I appreciated my past efforts so much I wasn't sure if it was altruism or egotism.
I was in Sydney for a conference today, and I made the poorly-reasoned decision to attend the networking drinks afterwards. I spoke to no one, drank a beer quickly, then fled downstairs to write by a phone charger.
I still had over an hour to kill before I needed to leave the city. I opened Maps to plot my route to the train station, and that’s when I saw, a few hundred metres away, a pub named The Baxter Inn.
Only a few people would recognise this significant of this. Why Google’s unfeeling brain felt the urge to present me with it, I can guess. It probably has something to do with one of the heavily-used tags in my Keep notes, plus the time of afternoon. I clicked on the details and learned that the venue offered an amazing selection of whiskeys and gins. I wondered if this also included the most exotic of dark, spiced rums.
I was already walking. I was about to find out.
I turned down a narrow alley off Clarence Street, which widened into an old loading dock shrouded in the shadows of skyscrapers. In the corner was a speakeasy, bottles of liquour visible through the windows.
I stepped through the low doorway and approached the bar where a young man with a hipster haircut and a trimmed moustache watched me approach with a friendly smile.
“I’m looking for a dark, spiced rum,” I said. “What do you recommend?”
He glanced over his shoulder at the long shelves of whisky bottles. “We only have one, actually.”
“What is it?”
“Oh,” I said.
I had nowhere else to go, and the itch to write more, so I ordered a dark, spiced Bacardi (which wasn’t actually that bad). I sat in the corner of the bar, working on a short story by candlelight, learning how to sip while negotiating the single, giant ice-cube that floated in my cup. I wrote a couple of pages, felt good about it, noticed on a coaster that the name of the place was not actually The Baxter Inn. I’d gone and bloody stepped into the wrong speakeasy-down-a-laneway-on-Clarence-street and some delicious, spiced rum was in a bottle waiting for me somewhere else. Or maybe The Baxter Inn didn’t exist, or it did but it was in a different universe to the one I was in. That could make sense.
Somehow almost three weeks slipped by without a new entry. I had a few important thoughts during these times:
Hummus has totally ruined mayonnaise for me as a salad dressing. It’s not really a bad thing.
You know what’s worse than rejection? Silence.
I’m still doing that tight-arse thing where I perform a brief SWOT analysis in my head every time I use a piece of paper towel.
Sometimes beautiful sunsets piss me off, because the world looks pretty and it makes me feel like maybe I shouldn’t accept it’s a terrible place ruined by humans and it can’t be changed.
Am I a dual citizen?
Oh no, it's Spring. it was 23 degrees and sunny for a day there between the freezing nights and this week's heatwave. Better share my new music Spring 2017 playlist before the long days of summer heat cripple and curl the greenery.
Featuring, all new songs from 2017 that I've listened to a lot. To remind me of days of hamstring exercises, Cake PHP development, starting to worry about UV again whilst writing, driving to town during lame rail upgrades, cooking huge and agricultural vegetarian curries, hamstring stretches.
(I did a lot of other things during Spring 2017, but most of them whilst not listening to music.)
I need to find the HM to teach Nash cut.
I'm (hopefully) close to the point where I have to decide, as a writer, if I want to use my real name or a pen name. I have conflicting feelings. Part of me is egotistical, and wants nothing more than to see my name on a book cover someday. Another part of me is conservative, and wants to keep my current professional life separate from my writing life.
I'm not sure why I feel the urge to hide my hobby from co-workers. Really, what's the worst that could happen? They search the internet for me, find a moderately successful time travel series on Amazon, decide that the concept is so far-fetched that they'll ignore all my industry experience?
Maybe I'm thinking about this all wrong. Perhaps overlapping my writing and my professional life might actually be an opportunity I'm missing. Maybe a potential future employer might search for me online, find my books, and rush to become a customer!
Since August, after being told a story I'd written was shortlisted for publication in my favorite semi-pro literary magazine, I've had a bottle of champagne in my fridge awaiting the follow up email.
Despite all the dark parts of life, I'm undeniably privileged to post photos of summer sunsets on my journal year after year, without fear of persecution, isolation, pterodactyls, etc.
Yesterday at work I was alone in a chatroom with someone and he accidentally exposed his password to me.
I instantly recognised what it was because, like mine, it had a mix of letters, numbers and special characters. I tried to look away, but I knew I'd seen his password and he knew I'd seen his password too. It felt awkward.
What surprised me was just how normal it looked. This person has a lot of experience in IT, and I would have guessed he'd have a long, highly secure password. In reality, his password was just an average length and it even had a dictionary word in it.
We both lol'd about it, and I told him I'd pretend I'd never seen it, and he said he trusted me, but that he was going to change it anyway. The next time I saw him, it was a little hard to make eye contact.
I think the moral of the story is that everyone has a password, and none of them are that special. You should always keep your password to yourself.
If I were to try really hard to reduce my carbon footprint, finding an alternative source of caffeine would be high on the list. I make almost twenty coffees a week out of single use Nespresso pods. They're perfectly centred in my Venn of price, taste and convenience. I know there are more environmentally friendly options, but part of me feels like I should just enjoy coffee as it is in 2017 so I have something to remember fondly in the 30's when climate change makes ebooks cheaper than a cuppa.
I'm not that environmentally unconscious. Every Nespresso pod gets its grounds extracted by my pliers and a spoon, then spread onto the roots of my baby passionfruit vines. The leftover aluminum pods pile up in my garage all year (inside recycling bags I have to pay for) until I eventually drive to a florist I had no intention of ever visiting to send them back for recycling.
It's not easy to recycle them, but it can be done. Which is why I feel particularly shitty that for the second year in a row, I've received in the mail my pods back, recycled into a notebook I'll never use!
At least it can be recycled...
My dog is living the life while I'm out there, working.
There's a certain satisfaction in fixing something complicated with only the simplest of parts, and your own ingenuity. Over the last few weeks my handheld milk frother looked like it was heading for an early death. The spinning motor still worked fine, but the groove in which the metal frothing wand sat was wearing away, leading to the tragic outcome of the spinny bit sinking into hot, bubbly milk every time.
Putting my brain and thumbs to work, I took a tiny piece of sticky-tape and wrapped it around the top of the wand. This increased the girth just enough for it to stay inserted during rapid spinning. Problem solved for practically nothing, with the most basic possible components.
I'm not going to worry over the semantics of how the roll of tape got into my office, or how sticky-tape was invented.
Today's entry is a short story I wrote about (or at least, was inspired by) a wang of fritz I bought from the supermarket last April.
To read it, check out the latest issue of Breach.
On the twenty-first of December, I drafted a journal entry. Two days later I’ve finished it, and it ends a little different to how I intended.
December twenty-first started as a beautiful day, a thin smattering of clouds between me and the morning sun gave the world a vibrant glow. The drive to work was short. End of year traffic was light and, unlike most mornings, the other drivers seemed equally unhurried. Similarly in town, pedestrians were smiling, and wearing festive outfits. In the office, friendly chatter echoed among the cubicles. There was no pressure in the air. No looming deadlines. No eyes down, fuzzy spreadsheets, jokes about needing coffee that weren’t laughed at. The shutdown was in sight. People were remembering to be happy.
I thought to myself, December twenty-first might actually be better than Christmas. No stress of preparing big meals and coordinating family members, no long drives and high expectations. No pressure to enjoy your fleeting leave before the calendar drags you back. It felt like a calm before a coming storm. A nice, relaxing calm.
That was, assuming you’d bought all your presents…
Later on, in the waiting room of my second Emergency Department for the night, the good vibes from the AM were a distant memory. Sickness sucks, more for Vanessa - suffering it - than for me who only had to watch on. Thankfully she is home now, not dying, just waiting for a new year to come and specialists to return to work. In the meantime, like for thousands of other people, worries spin in heads.
I thought to myself, it would be nice, to only have to worry about present ideas right now. Nice to only be concerned with coordinating holiday logistics, and the too-quick end of the summer vacation.
So, whatever the situation you find yourself in at the end of 2017, perfect or less, be thankful for the good things. And have patience with the bad. Try and carry with you, both now and as long into Autumn as possible, as much December Twenty-One spirit as you can.
I feel like maybe Facebook could have come up with a better highlight.
I took delivery of a new TV today. It's 75 inches, so it's not bigger than me, which I found important for some reason.
I remember 2011, when I set up a new 55 inch TV, and how I marveled at how big the heads of people in my living room were. How quickly did my brain adjust to that screen. Days? Hours?
Is that metal adaptability some benefit of evolution? Or a subconscious signal implanted by the manufacturers of televisions? How long until 75 inches seems small, and the next television stretches longer than I do?
Actually, maybe I'll last another cycle. I've never measured myself diagonally.