Winter in Summer

Forced myself to wake up at 6AM today in the hopes of dodging both UV and other humans on the Winter Track near Waterfall Gully. I didn't quite wake up, but we got there and I was pleased to discover that my legs were still capable of hiking up steep hills. We did four kilometres of incline and the same four down, both at a similar pace. It was nice.

image 1840 from bradism.com

This was motivated by reaching the six month mark in the countdown to our trip to the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, where we will be doing summer in winter.
I hope all the bears and moose are as apathetic about my visit as those kangaroos.


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The woman with the fake tan stepped into my office, sat across from my desk and lit a cigarette.
At least, she would, sometime in the next 20 minutes. Smelling the future has advantages, but precision isn’t one of them.


Bradism Nightly News

Performance art? I was on the afternoon train today, prime transit time, when a self-centered teen decided to listen to music through the loud speakers of his phone. The song he chose to disturb the commute of everyone else in the quiet carriage? The Sound of Silence.

I have noticed a trend of my journal entries containing less of my life lessons than they did a dozen years ago. Maybe this is because I am wiser now, though I doubt it. What I suspect is that I avoid more mistakes (which could have lead to amusing anecdotes) thanks to the magic search engine in my pocket at almost all times. But, today, I finally learnt something new through experience - because I didn't search "Will simmering a spicy, oniony curry for an hour on the stove make it harder to run?"
The answer was, yes: while cooking, the oily condensation will settle in your hair and on your forehead, and when you get up to speed in the summer evening sun the sweat will carry the chili and syn-propanethial-s-oxide down your brow and directly onto your eyeballs and you will cry not just from hamstring pain but also from self-inflicted crowd-control. (Yes, google taught me about syn-propanethial-s-oxide).

I have a new keyboard for the office now, after well meaning desk cleaners last year coated my old, wireless keyboard with cleaning liquid and wiped it down with a wet rag. I ordered a mid-range, LED back-lit mechanical gaming keyboard, which I convinced financial approvers was necessary for my work. It wasn't actually a lie. It's hard to find a full-size keyboard with a wrist support and media controls these days and the cherry-brown keys do increase my typing speed a little bit.
I turned off the back-lighting, even though I predict it will actually save my work money after about twelve months of my increased typing efficiency. It's unfortunate that they the manufacturer needed to mention gaming in the product name at all. I will not be gaming on this keyboard, unless blasting stuck java virtual machines with force restart commands, or navigating vying political agendas in multiple-recipient emails counts as gaming. It kind of does, if you don't take it seriously, but there's never a high score.

(After a couple of minutes and a few excellently filled out rows of a spreadsheet I turned the LED back-lights back on.)

image 1842 from bradism.com

Summer Playlist 2018

For everybody hanging out for my Summer 2018 playlist, the wait is over.

Tunes for driving home from the beach in your Skooda, trying out new gyms, watching cricket with the sound off, the third hour of role-playing board-games, walking before 7:30 am and the UV comes out to get you, eating overripe stone fruit.


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I Maintain

I try to keep my mind out of the toilet, but with the fill valve hissing intermittently I felt compelled to use precious weekend free time in there to remove, disassemble and clean the inner components of my cistern. I felt like I should tackle it before it whistled and burbled all the way to Friday evening, and the toilet bowl risked the same fate as my smoke alarm.

image 1844 from bradism.com

Alas, I did not fix my fill valve, or my dripping shower, or my unlatching front door, or grease the chain in my garage. I even failed to replace the battery in my key remote, after buying the wrong size. Being an adult is a pain in the arse. Every weekend it feels like a struggle just to maintain the status quo. Backs get sorer, maintenance issues build up, and the handicap the following weekend is even harder. You sit there, covered in toilet water, wondering if this is supposed to get easier.

The answer is, probably. Five years is the longest I’ve spent living in/being responsible for the same house. If you ever pull apart or unscrew the back off of anything in this world you’ll most likely find an intricate collection of components with a maximum lifespan somewhere between two to ten years. In the same way that I can maintain my words, my computer, my diet after ten, twenty, thirty years of experience I bet that by the time I reach forty everything in my house will have worn, cracked, shifted or torn and I’ll have watched enough YouTube tutorials to find the solution (and then paid a professional to fix my attempt at it). And then the next time it happens I’ll know what to do. It won’t be so hard. I’ll be able to say, oh there’s probably dog hair in that, or, yup, there’s definitely dog hair up there.

Problem solved.

Exchange Rates

Ibises in the bush.

Due to 2019's increasing uncertainty, a bird in the hand is now worth three in the bush.

Homeowner

Groupon had a coupon for $20 worth of credit at the arcade available for $10, and I used a discount code to further reduce the cost to $9, and used cashback tracking to ensure I receive a further $1.23 cashback after the sixty day waiting period passes. So that's 61.15% off the sticker price for air hockey, basketball toss, and gator spank. This kind of financial ingenuity is exactly why I've paid off my mortgage in just under five years.

Not having kids may also have helped.

And I didn't even include the value of potential ticket prizes in the above calculations!

Why Be A Writer When You Could Be A Plumber?

In March last year I started the draft of A Fish Out Of Water, a short story about a cynical, children-hating superhero being forced to babysit her nephew whilst trying to save the world. It ended up being around 8,800 words and came out of my brain over the course of a couple of weeks. Maybe an hour of plotting, twelve hours of handwriting, another twelve hours of typing and editing, a few more hours of proofreading. Over the course of four visits to Writer’s Group in March/April I read the story, incorporated feedback. I submitted it to two Sci Fi magazines in the US in April, May 2018 and received swift rejections. On May 30 I submitted it to its eventual home, Andromeda Spaceways magazine, where it stayed on a slush pile (with several progress updates) until finally in November, it was confirmed they would like to publish it. I was extremely grateful! They even paid me $88 Australian for something I totally just made up (a little bit was inspired by Captain Planet). Three weeks later, it was available for purchase and my name was on the cover.

In March last year I noticed my shower was dripping a lot more and my strategy of changing the washer every few weeks and turning it off really tight was not working. In December I asked for plumber recommendations and in the second week of January a plumber arrived, re-faced my tap seats and “serviced” the hot and cold tap. This took him about fifteen minutes, and he charged me $104 Australian.

I know, there’s more to a plumber’s work than the fifteen minutes he spent in my house. He needs to pay for that drill, his van, his ice-coffees, his insurance for when he accidentally ruptures a valve and floods someone’s basement with sewage. I had a lot of fun writing A Fish Out of Water. Probably way more fun than he does fixing toilets, replacing pipes or using the drain snake robot. Actually the drain snake robots are pretty cool...

You might think there’s a moral to this story, which is to be a plumber and not a writer. Twist - actually, there’s not a twist. If you want to make money you should be a plumber. Surprise Twist - imagine if you made $104 for fifteen minutes of work, you could do an hour or two a day and that would leave you with a lot of spare time for... Writing! I think it’s a winning strategy. $408 an hour for plumbing, and $2.90 an hour for writing prose averages out to $210 an hour if you balance them. Once you get enough writing credits and a three book deal with a big four publisher maybe then you can stop sticking your hands down people’s toilets.
You don’t have to be a plumber, I guess. Any kind of occupation to keep your hands busy should ideally support and provide a way to engage your creative side. And nothing helps procrastination like knowing your creative time is limited to your work breaks. It works for me, at least. Aldous Huxley once said, “Perhaps it's good for one to suffer. Can an artist do anything if he's happy?” Perhaps it’s true, but can an artist do anything if their shower or toilet is broken and they can’t afford to fix it? I'm not sure.

The Hottest Day Since January 2019

Before lunchtime today I was in the bathrooms at work applying SPF 50 sunscreen to my face and neck.
“Going for a walk?” Someone asked.
“If we're going to set a new heat record today,” I said. “I want to say I was there. I'm going out to see what it's like.”
For those who stumble upon this entry in the future, or if I add a feature to sort entries by maximum temperature, this is what it was like: It was hot.

In 2004, during a brutal but not the most brutal heatwave Adelaide has ever seen, there was talk on the news about breaking the 1939 record. To which my step-grandfather scoffed. He'd said they'd got through the ‘39 heatwave fine, with no air-conditioning, living in a tin shed. As he said this I realised that he actually lived through the 1930s and remembered the heatwave. I was impressed. At the time I could barely remember what the weather had been like the previous weekend. This was before I added the weather feature to my journal, and at a time where I did too much binge drinking.
On that day I said to myself, I want to live through the hottest day on record. I want to regale young people about the experience and force them to pay attention to me.

I did it.

image 1848 from bradism.com

Now in 65 years I can tell people (or robots) that the streets were nearly empty. The gym was empty. The free cold water being handed out at the train station was lukewarm. I came home to Vanessa making hot chips in the oven. The seaweed along the length of the beach was cooking in the sun.

Who am I kidding, the way the planet is going we'll beat this record again a lot sooner than we'd like to. I give it less than a decade. I have a wedding coming up in February where I need to wear a three piece suit on the beach. It'll probably be broken then.

Those Left Behind

My short story "Those Left Behind" is featured in a new anthology of stories about abandoned buildings and empty places. It's one I wrote a while ago, but it's good to find a home for it - even if that home might be deserted...


Back to School

It’s probably wrong to feel envious of the kids going back to high school this week, but I did. Maybe it's because last weekend Double J replayed the Hottest 100 countdown which had first aired in January 1999, the day before I started year 9. Maybe it's because I'm jealous of their supple, un-inflamed bodies and joints. That's probably part of it too. But mainly I'm jealous of the potential they have lying before them. Given to them, really - climate change and suspended nuclear arms treaties aside. I just think that if I knew twenty years ago what I know now, if I could combine that experience with raw youth and pure time they possess, imagine the possibilities.

Okay, that's not true. For every injury and decision I regret in life there are dozens of choices, happenstances, and moments of sheer luck between 14 year old me and 34 year old me that I believe another thousand cracks at it would be unlikely to produce a better outcome. I'm happy with my life, my family, friends, experiences. I think what I'm really jealous over is those kids' time and energy to hang out, talk shit, and play Pokemon cards. And I can still do all that today (well, I could if my brother hadn't lost half my best cards).

Instead of going back twenty years, today I stood in direct 35.8°C sunlight to watch Sam get married for the future. And it was worth the heat to have a front row seat to another class of 1999 friend come good. Or better. It was a wonderful night, and just served to prove that the friendships, the potential, the opportunity for adventure is alive as long as we keep it that way.

Congrats on becoming a man, Sam.

Congrats on becoming a man, Sam.

Happy Wedding Sam and Kate.

Happy Birthday Nash

image 1852 from bradism.com

It was my dog's birthday yesterday, and she celebrated it today with some other dogs and a “cake” made of meat products because some things on offer in this world are worth more than money.

image 1853 from bradism.com

Nash is now five, which is 35 in human years, and which explains why she didn't like this year's Hottest 100 as much as the ones from her twenties.

Actually, that said, I listened through the 2019 Hottest 100 on Spotify this week and I can't see what the fuss from non-millennials is about. The countdown has always been a popularity contest, and always featured songs whose appeal faded completely between voting opening and the BBQ lighting up. I did not particularly enjoy the rap tracks which made it in, as I despair (white-ly and quietly) about the state of hip hop in general these days. BROCKHAMPTON's eclectic energy is great, Post Malone can write a pop song, A$AP Rocky and Childish Gambino can rap excellent verses when they're not crooning. But overall I find the genre struggling with listless and unexciting songs. Which probably means I'm not the target audience. (I probably wasn't the target audience during the boom-bap era either...) Still, the fact that Sicko Mode finished so highly partly because of its “multiple styles in one song” just tells me that even fans are getting bored listening to these same, flat beats and mumbles for the length of an entire song.

I've become distracted from my original point, which is if I can enjoy pictures of my dog wearing a party hat and eating a cake and not be judged, then millennials should be allowed to vote for Ocean Alley songs - which are essentially the same thing in music form.

image 1854 from bradism.com

Uprooted

You’ll definitely have noticed by now the decline in breakfast related entries on my journal over the past twelve months. The root cause of this has been the crack in my tooth which ran all the way to the nerve. Like most of my injuries, this appeared from the ether like the misdirected spell and neither filling nor crown were able to relieve the symptoms of pain whenever I bit down on something small and firmer than peach flesh. This excluded all the good breakfast cereals.

First thing this morning I munched down on berries, yogurt, and a bowl full of crushed up Weet Bix, rolled oats, and muesli complete with flaxseed clusters and pepitas. And I had no pain. Later, I sucked down mouthfuls of Bhuja nut mix with sultanas with no regard to which side of my mouth the nuts and grains should be masticated. This was amazing. For the first time in over a year I was able to chomp without lightning bolts of agony racing down my jaw. A shroud was lifted. I felt like I might not be a completely broken down human being existing on this planet out of habit.

And the secret to this turnaround? It was simply to pay an endodontist thousands of dollars to drill a small hole in me and extract out the pulp of nerves and blood vessels in my tooth that were connected to the pain centre in my brain. That was it! I can’t believe how easy it was. What else can I get root canaled? My hamstring tendon? My lumbar spine? My iliotibial band? My Western Bulldogs fandom 2007-2010? And after all that, my wallet?

Spoiler Alert

If I have spoken to you in the past two months, I've probably mentioned that I'm on a mission to finish the second draft of my novel by the NBA All Star Break.

All writers will have different processes, but for me the first draft is written in hurried scribbles across multiple notebooks. The second draft is all typed up, moved into Scrivener, has all placeholders corrected, and what was once scribble is now written, pithy, and without plot hole.

This novel has been particularly challenging because I did not feel like the ending was strong enough, and in bolstering it I have had to rewrite the last 10-15% of the story. It's a much better tale for it, I think. And a lot more for me to type up, fill in placeholders, correct plot holes and add pith.

NBA All Star Break is this weekend.

image 1856 from bradism.com

Hard to Swallow

This weekend, Chow asked me by way of greeting if I was "germ free". Now, I do use copious amounts of hand sanitizer on the daily, but what I recall of high school biology is that my body is covered inside and out by bacteria, so I replied I probably wasn't.

A quick web search later confirmed that there are trillions of germs, bacteria, and micro-organisms in and on the human body. In fact, estimates are that between 1-3% of our mass is comprised of other microscopic hangers on. I've been trying to gain some weight this year, and yesterday Vanessa made me a delicious batch of cake-cookies, so by my calculations I'm probably walking around with enough germs to fill a two-litre milk carton. Or a six pack of craft beers, depending what part of the weekend you're up to.

image 1857 from bradism.com

I hope that answered the question.

Weekend Sprints Retrospective

My publicly declared deadline to finish my second draft has come and gone. That, along with high temperatures and DNA destroying UV from 9 to 5 has seen me spend much of another weekend in front of the computer writing and editing.

I like writing, and most days of the year I'd be thrilled to have such long blocks of time dedicated to stories, but this book has taken a long time, and at this point I'm more keen to get to THE END than I am to savour the experience. This will necessitate plenty of effort on the third draft to turn it into 80,000 words of consistent pith and joy.

Anyway, despite the thousands of words that were typed or tweaked on Friday night and Saturday, I found myself feeling a bit unfulfilled and discouraged by the process, and not truly looking forward to Sunday's wordsmithing, nor certain what I could do differently.

I've mentioned before that I use a mini Kanban board at home to replicate the one in my office. On it I track home maintenance, holiday planning, and story writing. Last night I added a few house tasks I'd been putting off. Gardening, cleaning and plumbing.

The board at the end of the weekend.

The board at the end of the weekend.

Today I supersetted writing with small victories, and despite getting a smaller (yet still significant) amount of prose fashioned, I feel more satisfied today with my accomplishments. I think my words benefited from it too.

That's my writing tip for today.

Varying Levels of Excitement for 6 Quick Dick Tricks - A Dirk Darrow Investigation

image 1863 from bradism.com

2019 So Far

Feels like my fingernails are growing way quicker than they used to.

House of Vanessas

It took me until the last week of the Fringe to convince Vanessa to join me in the mirror maze.

image 1864 from bradism.com

In the end I got about twelve Vanessas in there.

It's All Connected

image 1865 from bradism.com

I sat on the top deck of the airport bus, looking down upon the congested lanes of the freeway. We must have passed a thousand drivers. Each car was different. Blue paint; red paint. Roof down; baby seats. Leaning over steering wheel at 10 and 2; leaning back and orientated via a pinky. Mobile phone in left hand, by thigh; mobile in right hand, held to ear.
If this was a simulation then surely two of those cars would overlap. The randomiser would hit the same pattern twice. I’d see it.
Every car was unique. Each driver an original.

The gym, lunchtimes on workdays. There are pegs to hang your trousers and polo shirts on. You’ll pass them on your trips to the water fountain. You’ll see a striped shirt hanging loose above long, white chinos and before your right brain can process it your left brain says: Hey! That’s me!
The right brain can’t be convinced fully either way.

My physio has told me I’m not walking correctly. My legs are pulling my body. My posture should be less reclined, like my core is driving my legs. Is this why the UberEats coupon distributors by the railway station never attempt to get my attention? They don’t even try.
I’m doing it wrong.

Brad's Autumn Journal 2019

I have now been journaling my thoughts on the internet for over half my life.

To celebrate, here is half an

Sentences I Would Never Have Written Ten Autumns Ago

What better way to kick off Autumn than with this excellent, gigantic and vegan salad at a women's football match?

image 1868 from bradism.com

Not pictured: Donuts.

And then it rained.

A Routine is as Good as a Holiday

The daily grind cops a lot of hate, but I spent three days in Melbourne two weeks ago and my poop schedule is still all over the place.

image 1869 from bradism.com

In my twenties I lived for adventure. I traveled around the country going to music festivals. I asked around on Fridays to find out where the weekend’s house parties were. I went to bars and even clubs, and sporting events and I socialised with strangers and it made me feel good. I liked being able to reflect back over the past year and define myself by the experiences I’d had.

In my thirties I find experiences stressful. Am I having enough fun? Should I be taking photos? If I don’t share at least a snippet of this on my phone to other people, did it even happen? And the opportunity costs! If I go to this cafe, what if I miss out on a highly rated other restaurant that I’ll never have a chance to visit again? What if I don’t see all the sights? What if my favourite song actually doesn’t feel as moving live as it does on the sound-engineered record?

These days I live for routine. Planning ahead, making sure every part of my day will be like an array of aligned dominos just waiting for me to knock them over and surf the dulcet clack-clack-clack all the way to the next day. I always have a delicious fruit smoothie for breakfast. I know when my coffee and gym will fit between work meetings. Incidental exercise always happens at the right times of the day. I never need to iron a shirt at the last minute, or work out what to eat for lunch, or find myself bored.

This routine isn’t clockwork. On the contrary, every week I find ways to rearrange and tweak it, defrosting fruit before bed, adding new recurring meetings to my work calendar, switching fabric softeners. That’s what truly makes me so excited by my routine, not the fact that I enjoy all the mundane parts of my life, but that I am able to schedule them so seamlessly to make more time for more routine.

Melbourne seems a bit weird.

Melbourne seems a bit weird.


Maybe my dependence on routine for my self-fulfilment is the reason I didn’t find my most recent vacation particularly enjoyable. I tried to plan my days there too, where I would buy yogurt and cereal for the AirBnB, when I would get my steps in, how to keep my carry-on luggage below the 7 kilogram limit. It didn’t help both my flights were delayed considerably. No holiday plan survives first contact with a budget airline.

On my final day in one of the world’s most livable cities I found myself unexpectedly needing to buy lunch and falling apart trying to decide what to eat, how many calories I should allow, how much I should spend. I ended up consuming an over-cooked and underwhelming chickpea burger for $20 on the corner of two dead downtown streets, then arrived at the airport over an hour too early for my flight home.

The best thing about a routine is that if you fail to appreciate your breakfast, your walk, your coffee, your conversation, you know that the next chance to savour it is only a day away.

Seven Years Toll

Seven years ago today Vanessa and I got married.

If I was to think about everything that decision has cost me...

I would say it adds up to about $7 in greeting cards. Although this year I did splurge on the $2 one with glitter on it.

image 1871 from bradism.com

Daylight Sandings

Tonight Vanessa and I took what was probably our last barefoot, work-night sunset stroll at the beach this side of the Spring Equinox. Daylight Savings ends this weekend. The coast will cool. The rain will come. Dinners will soon be eaten in the dark under blankets.

image 1872 from bradism.com

When we got back I cleaned the sand off my feet with the brush head of our vacuum cleaner.

image 1873 from bradism.com

It worked pretty well. And it's cordless, you could bring it to the beach!

Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

It was haircut-expert Tim who taught me this year that you should time your haircuts two weeks before major life events. My haircuts last me about seven weeks each, and I've found myself now measuring 2019 in haircuts, despite not having many major events to coordinate with.
I visited my barber this week, which means it's only one more haircut between now and my holiday. How exciting!

Yeah, I do worry that I'm now dividing my life up into non-standard intervals such as haircuts and Olympics, like some amiable Tudor. I do avoid using the same hairdresser more than three times in one life. It takes me like a year to get through a single bottle of shampoo. I put my rubbish and recycling in a dumbwaiter. But according to my shampoo I'm still

image 1874 from bradism.com

Super Super Sets

I'm not sure what possessed me to do a Sudoku today. I haven't trained my brain with those little number-boxes on my phone for many years, yet somehow I found myself in the middle of one and delaying my gym schedule. So I paused it, drove to the gym, and finished it off between sets. I trained my brain at the gym.

Tonight I changed the bradism.com colours to orange for Autumn.

Slow Down

Sunday evening. Another week has raced by. Ten curries are stacked in the refrigerator. The kitchen window is open to let this unseasonable Autumn warmth in. And with it, cutting the tranquility, is the sound of a roaring engine as the local hoons roll by. And I instinctively wish they'd just slow down.

image 1875 from bradism.com

It doesn't feel like that long ago I was cruising up a familiar hill in my slate-grey VK Commodore, not exceeding the speed limit, but going faster than I needed to. An old man at a crossing gave me the evil eye, and within our brief intersection he gestured graphically with his hands, just slow down.

I laughed at him, in the moment, nearly two decades ago. And now the world has turned and turned. Today I am the irate senior, and I think - if he has not yet died of old age - we'd agree, it'd be nice if time could just slow down.

A Good Friday

It was wonderful observing Adelaide today and the way people would live if none of us had jobs.

We got in 17,700 steps this morning, before I spend the rest of the weekend eating.

image 1876 from bradism.com

I respect the traditions and ceremonies of all faiths and religions.
If there's a dessert involved, even better.

image 1877 from bradism.com

The Ten Day Long Weekend

Since joining the white-collared workforce 13 years ago I've dreamed of having a beard. And now, at 34, I've finally grown something I can wear with confidence down the corridors between cubicles. Who would have thought that, after trying year after year, it wasn't a fuller beard that I grew so thick, but society's standards for fashionable dishevelment that would fall so far.

The Dog

It's true, golden retriever hair is not actually attached to their bodies. It teleports from a parallel dimension and sits on the dog in a weave (loosely).

image 1878 from bradism.com

A Freight of Nothing

image 1880 from bradism.com

I was already running late on my drive through the hills when the boom gate lights began to flash and I was forced to pull up to my front row seat for the freight train that was lumbering through. Exasperation was so tempting, the urge to feel frustrated, hard done by. But a part of me overcame the negative feelings. I breathed, and reasoned that it had been years since the last time I'd idled at a level crossing. Maybe this was a chance to meditate; a silver lining. Perhaps, even, an opportunity! Could there be something to a freight train's long stream of carriages that I might learn from? Some message from the universe concealed in the dieselly-smelling procession of steel and goods. A hidden lesson to be learnt in a moment of reflection?

The answer was, no, there is nothing good about five minutes of watching a train go by. I share these findings so you don't need to learn it too.

Something is Wrong With My Dog

Or maybe this is a normal way to poop?

Or maybe this is a normal way to poop?

Bottle Episode

It's a challenge to write a new journal entry lately. Not because I have nothing to write about, but because of what I can't write about, or don't want to write about. So as is tradition in times of no new material during a long running series, here's a clip show:

There are pros and cons of the gym I've been going to so far in 2019. Pros: price, location, low number of other gym members at the times I visit. Con: No soap dispenser in the showers. When I'm paying almost $15 a week for gym access I am most definitely factoring in a couple cents worth of all you can pump generic, industrial strength soap into the cost.

The bradism.com Body Wash

The bradism.com Body Wash


So I'm now responsible for bringing my own soap to the gym. For this I created my own bradism.com body wash, and I think the recipe represents me quite accurately as a person. It started as regular body wash, but I worried that there might not be enough hospital-grade antibacterial ethanol in that, so I mixed some through too. And I store it in this body lotion bottle I took from a hotel in New Zealand.

Markus

More money, more problems, is what Grammy nominated mathematician Kelly Price once sang on a Biggie hook.
If her theorem is accurate, and behaves according to accepted algebraic principles, that means problems minus money equals less problems.
And that is why I will spend all my money on chairs until I find one I can sit on, or I go bankrupt (also known as tendinopathy of the savings account).

Kept My Chin Up

image 1883 from bradism.com

A month ago my physio told me that I should remove pressing, pushing and lifting exercises from my gym routine, in addition to his previous ban on riding the stationary bike. This was on top of the bans on running and leg exercises that my hamstring doctor had already enforced.

During most of my previous gym comeback tours this probably would have been enough for me to suspend my direct-debit indefinitely and never return, but in 2019 I decided to stay strong and continue exercising anyway. I divided my workouts into pulling/upper-back exercises, core, and rehab. Instead of giving up, I decided I was going to focus on pulling up.

The last time I performed a pull up was in 2008, when I was 23 and had never had surgery. Since then I believed I would never pull up again. But in the last six months I have watched Vanessa's progress from someone who watches fitness documentaries on the couch, to someone who competes in novice CrossFit competitions. While parts of my body have betrayed me, that's nothing compared to the rigour and violence Vanessa has suffered through chronic endometriosis, a shattered shoulder, and countless other undeserved afflictions.

Vanessa was the one who inspired me on my own journey the last few months, and when I pulled my chin up over the bar on Saturday for the second time it was her I immediately messaged to share the news. (Because you haven't done something until you've done it twice.)

It takes strength to pull yourself over a bar from a dead hang, or snatch an olympic bar over your head, or get out of bed and go to work when your insides are in chaos and your head and body ache. Vanessa has that kind of strength, I see it everyday, and she gives it to me, and I try to give it to her. We give each-other power. Together, we are strong.

My Mind

Three major projects, on top of normal work, and family, and a dog, and eating healthy and keeping fit, and injury rehab, holiday planning and home maintenance, and I decided to write a trilogy.

Bare Branches

It crossed my mind, this morning as I crossed a bridge, and a southerly wind whipped at my face, that Autumn is the most dramatic of seasons. Less than three months ago it was forty degrees, I could literally walk outside in shorts at any point of the day, and now I'm contemplating driving the long way home just to keep the heater pointing at my feet. I'll have to remember this for next Autumn's video...

image 1887 from bradism.com

Yesterday I had a craving for pasta, and all I really had to cook was a whole butternut pumpkin and a whole bunch of leftover pulled-pork. Well, it turned out pretty well after I turned it into a soup and dished it up on wholemeal spaghetti.

This morning marked the one week mark of having my new mouth-guard. It did turn out I opened my mouth too soon when I journal-jinxed my first major dental and not long after the temperatures dropped below the high-thirties the pain in my tooth returned. My endodontist's current theory is that nocturnal grinding is stopping the inflammation in the nerve from settling. Honestly, I don't believe that, but so strong is my desire to eat Weet Bix and berries with tiny seeds again that I was willing to pay $200 for a night-guard made custom for my mouth.
My dentist warned me that the first week would be challenging and that I might wake up to find the mouth-guard out of my mouth, under a pillow, or have trouble sleeping. I've had none of these problems, from the first night onward I've put it in, fallen asleep, and woken up with it in my mouth six and bit hours later. This is only reinforcing my theory that I am not a restless sleeper. I think it's also character revealing. I'm well trained at ignoring people and things that interfere with my personal space even if I don't want them there. One morning on the train a woman had the point of her high heel stuck into the toe of my shoe and I went twenty minutes without even clearing my throat.

In the USA they don't call it Autumn, they call it Fall. As in, I wonder how much further the Australian Dollar will fall before I start buying cereal and yogurt over there. At least it won't actually be Autumn in a couple of weeks, in both hemispheres, and at least I don't have to pay for major dental in US Dollars.

The Precipice

image 1888 from bradism.com

We've been balancing a fine line the past months between living in the present, and planning our hiking holiday. Fortunately I don't need to learn any new languages to order beers this time.

Part of that balance involves the occasional practice hike to ensure equipment and processes are all good for the real thing. We've been up and down the Adelaide ranges testing shoes and learning lessons.

Lesson one: when taking a pre-walk selfie, find a background nicer than the toilet block.

Lesson one: when taking a pre-walk selfie, find a background nicer than the toilet block.

This weekend we did Lofty the long way, an 18km walk starting in Chamber's Gully. I don't think there will be many cafes with hot, fresh coffee on the summits of the mountains we're going to, but when we reach the top you can always rely on a view to make all the hard work worth it.

image 1890 from bradism.com

Tipped

image 1891 from bradism.com

There are a lot of things to worry about when traveling to America. Did I pack everything? What will the exchange rate fall to? Can my body survive a whole day of economy class? Will TSA find any bad jokes on my social media accounts and send me off home on arrival? But my worst fear was tipping...

Tipping is a nightmare. You walk a fine line constantly between a social faux pas, or worse! Paying more than full price for something. But in my first twenty-four hours in the USA - despite the jetlag - I seemed to be getting tipping right. I tipped with credit card at a restaurant. I carried my own bag to my room. I tipped a friendly bartender. I didn't tip housekeeping because I left a Do Not Disturb sign up for a whole day. I didn't have to work out if I should tip the barber because I got my hair cut short before we left Australia.

At a quarter to eleven on my first night, when my body had just reached REM state for the first time in two days, I was jerked from sleep by a sound that my brain took a while to process: the fire alarm. Rushing to dress, we joined the rest of the hotel on the fire escape and gathered on the sidewalk (footpath) to wait for rescue. Fire trucks soon arrived and, thankfully, it was a false alarm. Though it was good for one thing. A succinct reminder of how close to danger we always are, and how trivial such concerns can be in the face of a real threat. One second you're warm and dreaming, the next firemen are running through the lobby with axes looking for smoke, and you're counting yourself lucky just to have your loved ones safe and the shirt on your back.

image 1892 from bradism.com

As the alarm finally silenced and the firemen filed out and back to their truck my fear finally receded. Until I realised, wait... I have no idea how much I'm supposed to tip them.

The Great American Journal Entry

It was the west of times; it was the north of times.

After driving 100 miles from Seattle I found a beautiful place on a spectacular lake which has convinced me that, on a spectrum, pizza most definitely is a vegetable.

image 1893 from bradism.com

Where else in the world does it cost on average $9.90 for a six-pack of IPA craft beers, and $2.50 for a cucumber?

Americans (who are on vacation and/or working in the service industry) are incredibly cheery. We passed one man on the Enchanted Valley trail, past Fire Creek, who asked us how our morning was. "Good," we told him. When we asked how he was, in the brief seconds that our paths were crossing, he said "not bad" and instantly I was concerned.

image 1894 from bradism.com

There is a distinct preference to avoid internalizing thought in this state. I was in the cereal aisle at Safeway trying to pick a breakfast/concede a daily sugar injection while a woman stocked the shelf beside me.
"Here we go," she said, opening the first of her cartons with a packet knife.
"Whole lot of boxes today," she added. We were the only two in the aisle.
"Just what I love," she said, pushing the first box of apple-cinnamon granola onto the shelf. "Stacking a whole lotta groceries."
How I was supposed to respond to this I had no inkling.
I don't think any of these people would enjoy my novels.

Worth It

image 1896 from bradism.com

After flying to the other side of the planet, then driving to Forks, Washington, we woke at 5am which was more pre-dawn gloom than twilight.

image 1897 from bradism.com

After another 54 miles of driving on the wrong side of the road, followed by 4 miles of hiking through temperate rainforest, we came to a washed up tree on a misty beach we had nearly all to ourselves.

image 1898 from bradism.com

It was breakfast time. Fruit, yogurt and cereal. Because some things you never need a holiday from.

Vanessa and Brad Meal

Many decades ago I was famous for a delicacy known as "Brad Meal". It was a dinner I'd discovered while camping as a preteen, requiring the rehydration of peas and corn in boiling water, adding instant noodles to the same water, then mixing in Deb dehydrated mashed potato until the entire pot congealed into a single entity of stodgy, starchy, salty mush that tasted brilliant with a bit of BBQ sauce thrown in. On a school camp in 1997 I even made this dish for an entire cabin as part of an assignment, where it was received better than Phillipe's mum's fried rice.

It's been a long time since life necessitated I make that meal again. But this week in Forks, after a week without any form of cooking appliance, Vanessa and I were in command of a microwave and within walking distance of a supermarket. In the land of the free (refills of steak fries with any burger purchase) we had options!

The following is the recipe for VanessaAndBrad Meal:

image 1904 from bradism.com

1x Jolly Green Giant frozen riced broccoli and cauliflower
1x Jolly Green Giant frozen riced sweet potato and cauliflower
1x Uncle Ben's microwaveable long grain brown rice sachet
2x Thrifty Mart essentials tinned Chili Beans
1x Air New Zealand salt and pepper from cutlery bag

The concept is identical. Heat the vegetables in their bags and let stand for a few minutes while microwaving the rice and the beans in the Tupperware you brought from home. Mix everything together and salt/pepper liberally. Eat. Open and close the motel room door vigorously a few times so the Forks mist can dilute the aroma of microwaved chilli beans.

Castaway

image 1899 from bradism.com

How I looked after four days without internet...
And another week of holidays with internet.

image 1901 from bradism.com

We stayed in Sol Duc Valley - world wide web dead-zone - the past three nights and, surprisingly, I did not miss the internet all that much. It's not like I prepared with much offline content. I just did lots of hiking, listened to an audiobook, sat in hot-springs and drank $1.49 cans of craft beer from the resort store to get through.

By my second day offline, woodland creatures were literally visiting me.

image 1900 from bradism.com

This morning I ate breakfast at a waterfall. Eventually we emerged from the valley to free motel WiFi and a bunch of notifications that were almost all completely dismissable. What is the value of the internet, really?

Posting pictures of breakfasts at waterfalls I guess.

image 1902 from bradism.com

American Sausage

Today's holiday breakfast was a 1100 calorie sausage holding in some eggs and tomato. There were some slices of toast, a beetroot pattie, and some onion in there too. I did pat that sausage down with some paper towel...

image 1905 from bradism.com

Luckily I followed this up immediately with about 9 kilometres of alpine hiking where I burnt around 1100 calories. Hiking at altitude is great because you get in less oxygen and (some science later) burn off more breakfast.

image 1906 from bradism.com

The air temperature up Mount Hood was around 4°C but the inclines kept me warm. The sky was crisp and the mountain air pure, but every time I exhaled I smelt only sausage. (It tasted great)

Spicy Brown Mustard

image 1907 from bradism.com

This was Spicy Brown Mustard. It added flavour, salt and moisture to dozens of tuna, chicken and turkey sandwiches across Washington and Oregon these past weeks, all while never needing refrigeration on hikes or highways. You deserved better than to be tossed, half full, into a garbage can 50 miles out from Portland. But that's how you went out, because I need that free space in my suitcase for three boxes of cereal and longnecks of IPA.

My Entry About Being Killed By A Bear

Plaster casts of bear prints from near the vending machines at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor's Center.

Plaster casts of bear prints from near the vending machines at the Hurricane Ridge Visitor's Center.

A few months back I was shopping for the upcoming trip to the Pacific Northwest. I stood in the camping store's dressing room, checking the fit of a merino shirt and the realisation suddenly hit me: This was the shirt I would be wearing when I was killed by a bear.

It wasn't the first premonition like this that I'd had. My new hiking boots were also the ones I'd be wearing when I was killed by a bear. My new hiking pants would be the ones I would soil when the bear's claws ended my life. Funnily, the previous marino shirt I had been wearing in the change room was also the shirt I would be wearing when I was killed by a bear. (Seriously, merino shirts are amazing for hiking.)

It may seem a little ironic to worry about bear attacks when I come from Australia and go into the ocean regularly. There shark attacks happen regularly. In Washington State you can count the number of bear attacks in the past fifty years on two hands (assuming you haven't survived a shark attack in Australia).

Why is it our nature to assume the worst? Does it help us prepare for the unlikely? I did learn the rhyming mnemonic for how to react to a bear's aggression. And I whistled occasionally as we walked, letting my boots crunch and thud a little louder than they needed to.
Or, are these kinds of fears a reflection of our ingrained narcissism? Why would a bear want to kill me? How would surviving a bear attack affect my character arc? Would hiking in the Washington wilderness have been less fun if there hadn't been at the edge of my perception the constant threat of bear attack?

When my nineteen days out of the city over, and presuming nothing would go horribly wrong in the Portland Zoo, or the San Francisco international departures terminal, I was a little disappointed to not even have seen a bear. On the plus side I hadn't been gored and eaten, but on the minus, there was no good journal entry in that.

Too busy napping to even try and kill me.

Too busy napping to even try and kill me.

I wasn't killed by a bear, although I did get stung by a wasp when closing a hot tub cover. My instincts had proven to be wildly inaccurate. I'd lived on the edge and enjoyed it; death gives me no hints to its schedule.

The White Suburban

I can post this now the car has been returned in one piece.

image 1910 from bradism.com

In January I made a reservation for a "mid-sized SUV" for three weeks of driving between the towns and the trail-heads of the Pacific Northwest. I'd expected a Ford Explorer, like the last time I'd hired a car in the US. Or maybe an ironic reunion with a Jeep Patriot after ditching my right-hand drive version a year earlier.

"We'll upgrade you to something more comfortable," the car-wrangler told me at the SEATAC rental car garage. This was the first sign something was wrong. Unless there are tips involved, when a service person says they're doing something for you it almost always means that they're doing something for themselves.
He handed me a key and said "Take the white Suburban."

I'd never heard of a Suburban before, but if you have you would know where this is leading. I was already nervous about interstates and national park navigation and driving on the wrong side of the road. What I didn't need was the biggest American car ever built. (An incorrect assumption, but that's how it felt at the time). 6 metres long, over two metres wide and nearly as high, the Suburban would have been big and wide enough to fit the old Jeep in the backseats. (Almost)

The Suburban in its natural habitat.

The Suburban in its natural habitat.

I requested an alternative vehicle from the car-wrangler, I.E., the midsize SUV I'd originally requested. The manager got involved. This was apparently not possible. I'd come at the point in the day when all they had left was Suburbans. It was true. There they were, dotted, unwanted, among the empty car parks.

I had to make a decision. I mean, it was just a car, I rationalised. Thousands of Americans drove chonking units like it daily. My anxiety had to be getting the best of me. So I agreed to take it. We loaded our suitcases into the trunk and I slowly, gently got it down the ramps of the parking garage and, sooner than I'd have liked, onto the highway.
It was there, at 65 miles per hour, I quickly realised I was out of my depth. The slow lane constantly turned into an exit lane, and I was forced to merge, maneuver and keep straight this titanic on wheels. A Jeep Patriot passed me, and it looked so small, like a red handcart spied out the window of an aeroplane. Nobody honked at me, but I felt closer to death than ever before. I reached over to squeeze Vanessa's hand but the car was so wide I could only reach as far as the second column of cup-holders between us.
The steering was sensitive, the V8 engine roared, but the Suburban weighs three tonnes. The hour of driving it took to get out from Seattle's web of freeways passed mostly in silence, some swearing, country music on the radio.

By the time we reached the outskirts of Aberdeen, and my first American freeway parking lot, I was beginning to feel more comfortable with the Suburban. For starters, there were helpful safety features, like lane assistance guidance to vibrate the seat when you drifted into other lanes, and extra mirrors to provide visibility of all the parts of the road you couldn't see because of the girth of the ginormous chassis. Features that, you could argue, wouldn't be necessary if the Suburban had been built to normal proportions. But they helped, and driving almost became... Enjoyable.
Then I had to park it. There are more fun things to do than park a Suburban. Vanessa was very helpful.

Once I had the hang of the dimensions, the cruise control and the fuel consumption, the Suburban was, I guess, "comfortable." And as it accompanied us on drives through temperate rainforests, up mountains, along rivers and to misty beaches I realised that maybe the car was also out of its comfort zone of city streets and fast-food chain drive-thrus. Without the Suburban I would never have made it to the top of Hurricane Ridge, or the snowy vistas of Paradise, nor the canyons of Mt Hood and the trails of the Olympics.

image 1912 from bradism.com

image 1913 from bradism.com

image 1914 from bradism.com

And it hit me, as I reached the summit of the final ridge of our last hike - my unconditioned ankles tender from the climbs, my office-worker skin scratched and weathered, the remnants of a hundred spiderweb strands clinging to my hat - that I was a big chonker out in the world too. I was oversized, but getting it done in the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest.

image 1915 from bradism.com

I was also a white Suburban.

The Bradism Top Ten Things about the Pacific Northwest

As I travel through time on my flights from Portland back to Adelaide I reflected on my top ten highlights of the Pacific Northwest.

Elk Meadow, Mount Hood

image 1917 from bradism.com

There are many great day hikes in the Pacific Northwest, and Elk Meadows on the southern slope of Mt Hood is where we'll start. The moderate trail first offers a river crossing under the looming gaze of the Hood summit, before switchbacks take you deeper and higher into the forest.

Elk Meadows wildflowers.

Elk Meadows wildflowers.

The trail loops around the meadow, which opens up from the trees to a wide expanse of (depending on the season) grass, a carpet of wildflowers, or a plain of snow). If you are very lucky you may also see Elk.

Mt Walker Summit

Steeper than it looks.

Steeper than it looks.

Somewhere on the drive between Olympic National Park and Seattle is Mt Walker, an hour south-east of Port Angeles. Walker is short, relatively, compared to some other Olympic peaks but the walk to the top is one of the most challenging. Over 625 metres of elevation is achieved over just three kilometres of switchbacks through towering Douglas firs and flowering ferns.

image 1933 from bradism.com

The reward at the top is panoramic views of the Olympic mountain ranges on one side, and ever more panoramic views of Puget Sound to the east, as well as the satisfaction of conquering the brutal incline. Just be careful stepping off the track to pee while descending, because you do not want to slip on a wet log and take the shortcut down.

Voodoo Doughnuts

Two quote/unquote gourmet donuts on some gourmet paper.

Blue Star Donuts' attempt.

If you're ever researching things to do in Portland you will uncover online debates about whether Blue Star Donuts is better than the longer established Voodoo Doughnuts. I figured I'd be willing to eat both to decide for myself
In my opinion it's not even close. Yes, Blue Star's gourmet donuts can be described with words like "hints" and "dashes", but while that's all very grown up Voodoo Doughnuts is plain fun. I understand why the line up goes around the block any time of the day.

image 1921 from bradism.com

The pink store, and its giant menu, produce huge, delicious doughnuts with toppings ranging from sprinkles and chocolate, to Captain Crunch, Graham Crackers, Oreos and Peanut Butter (together). The dough, icing and custard cream has all been perfected. The apple fritter, cinnamony and crispy and packed with flavour, was exceptional.

Second Beach, La Push in the Mist

image 1922 from bradism.com

The Pacific beaches on the west shores of Olympic National Park have an edge of the Earth feeling to them. Shrouded in mist, protected by dense, towering trees, before ultimately crossing a field of driftwood logs each the size of a whale, by the time you reach the sand you have left the world behind.
Second Beach at La Push is one such beach. A short descent through coastal forest leads to the ocean, swirling around the archipelago of tiny, teeth-like islands crowned with more firs that somehow survive the salty winds. Visit at low tide, so you can stroll further into isolation, and at sunset, if you're lucky enough for the fog to lift enough to notice.

Flatstick Pub, Pioneer Square

image 1923 from bradism.com

If you love historic districts, mini golf and craft beer, Flatstick Pub in Seattle's Pioneer Square will bring you joy. Not far from Pike Place Market and the waterfront, the Pioneer Square neighborhood streets are lined with late 19th and early 20th century buildings including Smith Tower, one of the oldest skyscrapers in the USA.
Flatstick Pub hosts a huge, rotating collection of local craft beers on tap, and a challenging 9 hole course of mini golf to enjoy with your drinks. There's also board games, mini-basketball and other mini games to try.
There's also a Flatstick Pub south of Lake Union, close by to some of Seattle's big tech offices. The course there is different, and good, but the location has more of a corporate team building vibe there.

Deer Lake and Sol Duc Falls

image 1924 from bradism.com

In the temperate rainforest and old growth forest around Sol Duc hot springs is a day hike with nearly everything. Starting with a temperate rainforest stroll to the beautiful Sol Duc River falls and canyon, the trail turns up the mountain through more spruce and ferns and increasing elevation.

image 1925 from bradism.com

All kinds of flora is on display as you climb, crossing streams, fallen forest giants and rocky inclines. Then, inexplicably, a lake appears through the trees. Already over 1000 metres up the mountain, the still lake is surrounded by meadows climbing up a ring of even taller peaks, with a little glimpse of snow, and maybe in the blue sky a bald eagle circling. A short trail loops around the lake, passing camping and lunch spots, plus a long drop latrine. The way down is easier, and the ferny, dappled rainforest corridor known as lover's lane follows the Sol Duc back to the hot springs resort. There, if you don't mind other people's skin cells, you can sink into the mineral pools and watch the sunset play across the tree covered slopes all around.

Portland Bookstores

image 1926 from bradism.com

There's a famous bookstore in Portland named Powell's which you may have heard of. I visited it, and it was fantastic, and I even got $2.75 credit for my copy of a JG Ballard paperback at their buying counter. It also made me happy to see so many people in downtown Portland carrying books from Powell's.
That said, Powell's felt a little sanitized, particularly by Portland standards. It sold a lot of classics and stickers and quirky greeting cards. There was a Wholefoods a couple of blocks down.
Half a neighbourhood away, in a tiny store with fading signs was the best bookstore I've ever visited. Cameron's Books & Magazines is an eclectic collection of books and stacks of magazines consuming almost all available space. The prices are cheap, the range unbelievable. I bought a bunch of old Asimov's magazines ranging from 1975 to 2016. If you love words, check out both.

Paradise in June

image 1927 from bradism.com

There's something magical about snow. Well, there's something magical about snow when it's summer and the sky is blue and you can go hiking around on it wearing shorts. (I myself did not wear shorts, but I saw more seasoned locals who did.)
There was plenty of snow near the peaks of Mt Rainier and Mount Hood. The Timberline Lodge was abuzz with skiers and snowboarders in the first week of July. But it was Paradise, on the southern slope of Mt Rainier that won me over. At the heart of a dozen trails, the Paradise visitors centre is spectacular in its own right. You don't need to hike far to find snow beneath your boots.

Replace with DSLR photo later.

Replace with DSLR photo later.

The white trails lead to stunning vistas, glacial waterfalls, and lookout points worth the high altitude exertion. The snow is slippery, but safe to cross if you follow the rule of sticking to others' footprints. After watching your feet and fighting the slope, you can then turn around and see why they named the place Paradise.

Craft Beer

image 1929 from bradism.com

I don't think it's an exaggeration to say every small town in the Pacific Northwest has at least one craft beer microbrewery. And the ratio of one variety of IPA per thousand people in the country continues in the built up metropolises of Seattle and especially Portland. Everywhere you turn is a brewery or pub serving up seasonals and the Pacific Northwest specialty: the IPA. Beer is everywhere. You can even buy six packs of craft beers at supermarkets, pharmacies and gas stations.

The beer in this photo has a street value in Adelaide of half a million.

The beer in this photo has a street value in Adelaide of half a million.

The craft beer market is saturated, but I did my best to dry it out. A full review will come shortly. Stand out places to sample include Fremont brewery, Deschutes, and Ten Barrel Brewing.

Hurricane Ridge at Dusk

image 1931 from bradism.com

There's a webcam feed which shows the visitors centre, perched 1600 metres high, at the top of Hurricane Ridge. You can use it to check if the skies are clear, and if there's space to park your massive car. If those conditions are true, take advantage of America's willingness to pave roads to the tops of mountains and visit right before the sun sets.

image 1932 from bradism.com

As the golden hour begins, take in spectacular, 360 degree views of the Olympic mountain ranges, watching elk crossing the alpine meadows, breathe the thin, crisp air and marvel at one of the most beautiful places in the world.

Olive Brown

image 1934 from bradism.com

I, somehow, left for work this morning wearing olive-brown trousers and an unintentionally matching olive-brown jacket. I'm not sure how it happened. I recall thinking that I'd wear the navy blue chinos today, and a cream jumper. At some point I had substituted both of them and become a two metre tall blob of matching brown. I didn't even realise until the elevator arrived to take me to my floor and I saw my reflections in the cube of mirrors.

I don't like being a block of colour. I felt very self-conscious. I took the jacket off, and my only other option was to feel very cold.

Why did I care, I wondered. What was the worst that could come of this? A bird might land on me? Somebody could snap my picture, upload it to the internet and I'd become some meme? The olive-brown giant? No fashion sense guy? It could go viral, and define my legacy. For the rest of my life people would know me as the olive-brown giant before they even met me.
Then I thought, did I really care about what people thought of my dress sense? My colleagues? My superiors? Did it matter? People in Washington, and Portland, where I recently vacationed, would they even have an innate, subconscious sense that I'd existed in the same location as them. If they did, would they care what I was wearing now that I'd left? What about people in Slovenia and Senegal and other places I'd only ever heard about. They wouldn't care. For the hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians who'd been murdered in the Nanjing International Safety Zone in 1937 surely my comically matching pants and top would barely rate a mention. What about the victims of Assyrian Empire genocides 2500 years ago? Would they even know what olive-brown trousers were? Would they try to find out, while they were persecuted and fought for their lives? What miniscule percentage of humanity could truly give a fuck about my olive-brown meme-ness?

The bell dinged and I emerged onto my floor. It had been a mentally intense elevator ride.

Autumn/Winter 2019 Playlist

image 1935 from bradism.com

Yesterday a new Fitz and the Tantrums track came out that was perfect for a Spring playlist and I remembered I hadn't posted the tracklisting for my Autumn/Winter mixtape yet. Figured I should get that out now before too many more 21 and sunny days come along. It's hard keeping track of seasons and their associated moods these days, what with Spotify algorithms, month long trips to the northern hemisphere, and the general side effects of global warming. Nonetheless the attached hour of music was curated mainly under the influence of dark morning showers, dripping noses, wet dog feet and perpetual grey sky days where you wish you could spot a couple of ducks fucking simply to spark some optimism that BBQs, blue skies and families of ducklings frolicking by the river aren't as far away as they feel.
If you listen to other people's Spotify playlists, enjoy.

The official Bradism Raised Cutting Board for Tall People

At some point, after finding yourself regularly on your back in the kitchen with half a mixing bowl full of bulk meal vegetables chopped, and your hip flexors on fire, you need to admit that your bench height isn't sustainable.

To solve this problem I bought a thick, bamboo chopping board from Ikea and attached some 240mm legs to it. Well, I came up with the design and put it together with a lot of help from Dadism.com.

image 1936 from bradism.com

Overall it was a pretty simple project, requiring a $20 board, 4x Leggz round legs at $5 each, and 2 packets of 2x leg attachment plates for $2.20 each. Grand total of $44.40 which is less than I pay for a single physio visit.

Now I only need to work out where to store it. Somewhere up high I guess.

Bradism 2019 Fashion Census

Adidas, Gazman, Rodd & Gunn, H&M, Kathmandu, SmartWool, Bonds, North Face, Ben Sherman

Recording for posterity after starting to notice patterns every time I hang out the washing.

Next Bradism Fashion Census scheduled for July 22, 2029. Stay tuned for analysis and stats.

Salad

If you're wondering what you can chop on an official Bradism Raised Cutting Board for Tall People, let me share the recipe for my staple salad. I make this meal for lunch usually a few times a week in summer and semi-regularly outside it.

Capturing here for future reference.

image 1938 from bradism.com

Ingredients

  • Tomato
  • 150g mixed-leaf lettuce
  • Half a cucumber
  • Half a capsicum/bell-pepper
  • Drained tin of 4 bean mix
  • Half a tin of drained corn kernels
  • Hommus/Hummus/Humus/Houmus/Delicious chickpea shit

image 1939 from bradism.com

Chop everything but the lettuce into corn kernel sized pieces and mix together. Consistency is vital. Salt and pepper to taste.

image 1940 from bradism.com

Chop the lettuce into small pieces and layer on top of rest of salad. Scoop out ~100g of hummus. Mix through.
Pro-tip: if you're at the bottom of the hummus container, keep a few bigger leaves of lettuce and use those to scrape up the last bits.

image 1941 from bradism.com

Mix thoroughly. Yes, this is a salad bowl.

Drinking Problems

My name is Brad and today marks a month since my last beer. When people hear this I get smiles and words of encouragement but NO GODDAMN SYMPATHY.

Two more days of antibiotics and then if I can get through a day with all snot honks being below the maximum capacity of your average Kleenex I am going to revisit the Pacific Northwest by cracking the biggest IPA I can lay my hands on. (Yes, by those calculations it will be Tuesday morning.)

Big Data

It feels like my phone has more and more data on me than ever before. Maybe this is a bad thing, but as Tyrion Lannister once said, "Never forget what you are, the rest of the world will not. Wear it like armour and it can never be used to hurt you."

So, everyone can have my health data. Here's a comparison of my average sleep time and step counts between summer month, winter month, holiday month, and when I have a man flu.

image 1942 from bradism.com

Maybe next month I will get a trial MyFitnessPal premium account so I can share how many calories from yogurt I've consumed across the various locations Google Maps has recorded me at.

The End

When I hear about people dying in freak accidents like car crashes, or under fallen branches, I can't help wondering if that person had been secretly writing a novel.

It made me sad, thinking about of all those labours of love which would never be finished. An adventure that would never call; a relationship which would fail to ignite; a twisty mystery which would forever remain unsolved, frozen in the dusty notebooks and locked out hard drives of the dead.

But then I thought, perhaps it was a good thing. Maybe those secret worlds they created would be what they thought of as they left. Maybe they live on there now. Perhaps the nothingness that our imagination comes from is the same nothingness we return to when we go.

The Last Drop

It was finally time to drink my souvenir IPA from Oregon before the hops went bad. (Yes, this is a legitimate peril related to IPAs.)

It was good. I think this IPA was made for me. The Citra hops are amazing. It made me happy and sad at the same time. Farewell Pacific Northwest craft beer nirvana.

Breakside IPA on the Official Bradism Raised Cutting Board for Tall People

Breakside IPA on the Official Bradism Raised Cutting Board for Tall People

A Sense of Purpose

Every Monday morning millions of humans wake to alarms, wash, and then head to their offices where they mix together their perfume and cologne, coffee steam and carpet cleaner vapours.
The scent of a new work week cycles through the air conditioning.

Blue

The sun was out today. In Adelaide, of all places. And I'd been looking for some hope, and signs of Spring. I found a rare, spare hour in my calendar to visited the Adelaide Botanic Gardens, and it was nice.

image 1947 from bradism.com

image 1948 from bradism.com

image 1949 from bradism.com

Dusted and Done

I'd been contemplating buying a new PC. I wanted something powerful enough to render high resolution panoramas in Photoshop from RAW images. And with enough grunt to export short videos of the season movies in HD.

Before replacing my PC - which at some point in the past had not filled all levels of the townhouse with it's shrill High CPU Temperature warning when performing the above tasks - I thought I should try cleaning out the dust out of it. I couldn't remember the last time I gave it a good compressed-air blast to the heat-sink. I suspected it was before I got a golden retriever cross who sheds her winter coat for a summer coat every night in July that we put the heater on. I bought a can of compressed air from Office Works and with daylight as an ally on a Saturday morning I took my computer apart on the balcony and got to blasting.

I'm not sure what tolerance my CPU fan designers had for dog hair particles, but safe to say I'd exceeded them. While Nash watched from the comfort of the couch I got into every nook and cranny, sending puffs of dust and lint into the cool, August air. I was ruthless. I figured, if anything got dislodged or disrupted it would be a good excuse for upgrading to the new PC anyway.

Happily for Frugal Brad, the re-assembled PC ran fine, maybe a little quieter. And a test export of 89 high-resolution images from Lightroom did not breach any CPU monitoring metrics and in fact Chrome and Spotify ran along at the same time as well. My $3,000 PC budget was used to buy a $10 can of cleaning spray.

The Richest Man In The World

I've survived on this planet for 35 years now. My reward from Vanessa was a month of desserts, culminating in a jumbo mousse cake, totalling over 8,000 calories. It tasted as good as it looks. (As seen here on the Official Bradism Raised Cutting Board for Tall People.)

image 1950 from bradism.com

A Filament of my Imagination

Another one of the great things about the internet having more personal information about me than my own brain can hold is that I can look up what my most played song was on the week of my birthday for the past 15 years. I mean, it's not going to be completely accurate because I didn't have scrobbling on my phone before 2012, or my Samsung Pebble that year I played basketball in the rain in North Adelaide for hours, or that night at Shenanigans in 2006 when SexyBack must have been spun at least a dozen times. But it did well enough to make me a playlist for a sunny walk down memory lane and to the train station yesterday morning.

image 1953 from bradism.com

On my way home from the train station yesterday evening, when it definitely was not sunny, I did pass my favourite inedible plant in the world on this one house's fence, and noticed the first flower of spring had bloomed.

image 1952 from bradism.com

I love this jasmine plant, and the fragrance it gives the footpath for 0.00833% of my morning commute during Spring. I left for work thirty seconds earlier today so I could stop by again and appreciate it.

In Oregon a couple of months ago I drank a longneck of the Elysian Avatar Jasmine IPA and it reminded me of walking on that footpath. And this morning I was reminded of drinking that beer. And now that personal information is recorded on the internet.

A Level Up

At midnight yesterday I was warned by a chirp that another smoke alarm backup battery was going flat. Unlike last time, I was able to remove the cover, extract the battery and restore peace with only five to ten minutes of suppressed rage and a single, vitriolic paragraph of pure expletives. I did not need to use any hand tools to break my way in like a castaway with walnuts and no nutcracker.

A smoke alarm mount in a roof.

Success!

I guess my recent birthday actually helped me develop as a person.

Nash did not provide any assistance.

image 1955 from bradism.com

Casually Blinded

I received my fourth submission rejection from a certain dream professional science fiction market today, but this time it ended with "I look forward to your next submission."

I'm not sure if this is a pinprick of light in the dark, hopelessness that is this writing game. Or if they've just recently updated their form rejection letter.

The First of September 2019

image 1956 from bradism.com

image 1957 from bradism.com

image 1958 from bradism.com

It might be a nice Spring.

(I uninstalled Instagram a few weeks ago).

The Click, Click, Click of Sand

I’ve been working long hours lately. Attending a lot of meetings, juggling many projects. It can be taxing, but also rewarding. There’s something satisfying to look back at the end of a day and see the progress made, emails sent, the calorie breakdown, the steps, the word count, the ticks in the habit tracker app, the work delivered, and of course the numbers on the payslip.

But it’s not big challenges that bother me. It’s the little things, like smoke alarm chirps, dripping taps, and an inability to eat grains and firm vegetables on my right hand side for like two years that really stress me out. These are the sensory torturers which await me when I return home. The drip, drip, drip in the sink. The beep, beep, beep from my tooth. I try to be a good handyman, but if September 2008 didn’t prove that wasn’t for me, five years of not having a property manager has confirmed it.

So now that I am thirty-five, and my precious time on this forsaken planet continues to filter through the hourglass, I have concluded that perhaps working hard and earning money should lead to me spending that money on other professionals who may be juggling many projects, attending lots of meetings, are stressed, etc. And it just so happened that two appointments I made - with the plumber and the endodontist - happened to fall on this day in September 2019. This morning the plumber came to crack the code of how to remove the tap without breaking it, took the electric drill out, delivered, and then took a whole bunch of my money. And then this afternoon the endodontist tried to crack the code of my pressure sensitivity by removing (part of) the tooth without breaking it, took the electric drill out, delivered, and then took a whole bunch of my money.

It’s too early to say if my tooth is fixed yet. The anesthetic wore off after dinner. But the taps are now silent, which I hope is a good omen. Maybe this system of earning money and spending it works. Perhaps this is the free market, the way of things. I can accept all this. The only part which bugs me is that the plumber charges more per hour than the dentist.

Not A Duck Entry

image 1963 from bradism.com

I took some photos while walking along the Torrens this September morning. Vanessa asked me if I was planning a duck entry. I said no...

image 1962 from bradism.com

... I'm planning a duckling entry!!

We saw no ducklings and were rained on several times.

Viewpoints

It was sunny when I left to find a place for breakfast today. Receiving my flat white in a laneway cafe at the exact moment the hail started outside felt like peak Melbourne.

Here is an example of an implementation of an architecture:

image 1961 from bradism.com

Bridging

image 1964 from bradism.com

I'm privileged to currently be in Melbourne for a week of training for work. It's been good so far, but it is unfortunate that I have to miss five days of peak Jasmine flowering and aroma season in Adelaide.

Now, you might think that surely I should be missing my family, or my bed and chair, my gyms, and my blender and yoghurt more than some smelly flowers. But I'd miss those things at any time of year. I wait nearly twelve months for these weeks with their little burst of sweet fragrance on my way to work.

Fortunately I found some Jasmine growing in a laneway in Southbank. So it's okay, I can just go there every morning before training for a sniff.

image 1965 from bradism.com

Stainless

I keep the kitchen clean with this scourer-sponge.

image 1966 from bradism.com

It's forbidden to use the scouring pad on the stainless steel cooktop. Occasionally it comes close when I'm cleaning the bench adjacent. Sometimes I'll let the scourer brush the edge of the metal. Nothing forceful, barely touching the surface. It gives me a little rush.

Maybe - not often - I lay the scourer against the cooktop. Not pressing down, no movement. Just contact, knowing that at any moment I could grind that rough pad against the shiny, smooth surface. I could scrape along the length of the steel, back and forth. I hold it until I lose count of the seconds. Then I lift it up until it's almost but not quite touching. I slide it away, leaving no mark, until the cooktop ends.

That's how I keep the kitchen clean.

Nightlife

How good is Melbourne nightlife, you can buy a crepe at 10pm on a weekday from a street cart. But not at 10:30 that's too late.

image 1968 from bradism.com

The Evolution of Spring

image 1969 from bradism.com

Equisocks

image 1971 from bradism.com

I love my Merino socks. Not only are they warm and soft - perfect for winter - but they also repel moisture, and they don't retain odour, which makes them almost self-cleaning.
However, seeing as I wear them literally every day of winter, you do need to wash them sometimes. I have a rhyme which helps me remember: It's time to wash the woolen socks, when it's the Spring Equinox.

Caravanning

image 1972 from bradism.com

A mint condition set of Pokemon Series One TCG from 1999 sold at auction this week for $107,000.

$107K is a lot of money. But you know what? All the good times I had during the sleepovers and shindigs with my high school friends, shuffling and battling and turning my full set of series one Pokemon cards into something far from mint condition was worth even more to me than that.

Oh wait, that's US dollars!

Shit...

Certified Fresh

A couple of years back I made a critical mistake. I was put onto a RHEL Certified Linux Administration course by work, who also paid for my exam on the final day. If I passed I would be able to put "RHEL 7 Certified" on my CV… Which wouldn't have had any measurable impact on my life, I expect, but it would have been cool.

Alas, I failed the exam. It was hard, closed book and all practical with a high pass mark. I did study, and paid attention during the course. I missed out by 2%. Nevertheless I was shook. I'd never failed an exam before. Never failed at any form of formal education, in fact, and typically without much effort or obeisance. I learned a statistic in University that 75% of people consider themselves above average intelligence. I knew for sure I was in that 75%.

My worldview shattered, I did not undertake any significant further training or exams. Partly from fear, and partly due to my organisation's shrinking training budget. Last year, when negotiating terms of my new position, I included work adding TOGAF training and certification into my personal development plan. Certification in The Open Group Architecture Framework for Enterprise Architecture would be a useful step towards my desired career direction of IT Architect. Architecture roles can have a similar level of working on solution requirements and technical design, without the distractors of resourcing, chasing timesheets, and approving the neverending requests for new monitor dongles. Architecture is a much more sustainable IT career for an introvert. Yes you need to talk to stakeholders, perhaps even more than as a lead, but they're structured conversations and in fact TOGAF offers a whole reference library for having them.

I did not fail my exam this morning, and I am officially TOGAF 9.2 Certified. My brain is now releasing endorphins after 10 days of heavy studying concludes. It was also warm today, and on my way home from the exam I stopped off to buy lettuce and found Deschutes Freshly Squeezed IPA directly imported from Oregon. What a good day. To top it off, I already have an architecture job. I've decided to promote myself to Bradism.com Lead Enterprise Architect.

A big can of PNW on a windowsill overlooking buildings.

A. Implementations of architectures.
B. Business Requirements
C. A View
D. All of the Above

Sunrise, Sunsets

image 1974 from bradism.com

The past week or two I've found myself tired and sleepy around 11pm, much earlier than I usually fall asleep. Perhaps it is these early nights, or maybe it's the post-equinox, 6am sunlight that has been waking me up prematurely too. I don't like these changes to my routine. Even my coffee - which I usually first take around 9 or 10 - I found myself preparing and drinking before morning stand ups.

Why was this happening to me, I pondered. Were these signs of getting old? Then I saw the calendar, and what was coming this weekend, and I realised it! My body was actually preparing me for a daylight savings entry.

Sorted

I sort my trash for recycling into plastic bottles, aluminium cans, brown glass, green glass, clear glass, soft plastics, coffee pods, mixed recycling, lids and bread ties, batteries, organic waste, and - if anything is left - it goes into garbage.
So I should be safe from climate change.

Tendinopathyapathy

I've had the same injuries for so many years now that I think I'm beyond rehabilitation. My physios all have had good intentions, but I've realised my appointments are really just physiological psychotherapy: A chance to talk in private about how my muscles and joints are feeling, and leave with just enough optimism to get me through until the next fortnight's appointment.

Snapped

I timed it, and it takes sixteen minutes to get through all my morning stretches. That doesn't seem like much, but it's a decent chunk of seconds when I'm trying to wake up, shower, drink two litres of icy smoothie, walk a dog and still be out the door by 7:42. Unfortunately, if I don't stretch, getting through the day becomes immesuarably more painful.

I also stretch and rehab every night, which only makes it more annoying; It takes sixteen minutes of morning stretches just to recover from sleeping in a bed.

Unseasonal

Spring used to be my favourite season. Blooming flowers were the tonic for grey, winter skies, and some mornings in the sunshine my endocrine system would leave me feeling no more sophisticated a creature than the bees that buzzed about the swollen stamens around me.

image 1975 from bradism.com

I've been around the sun enough times now to recognise spring for what it really is: A blind, reckless orgy. And it sickens me. On a dry continent, in an era where we must be frugal with resources, this exhibition is mostly a brief and wasteful burst of Instagram-esque vibrance which doesn't represent reality. Literally days later the seeds are swaying in the breeze, the petals are rotted and falling, and the desiccated creepers are flopped and curled across the footpath in perfect postures of post-climatic clarity. Fuck Spring. Those weeks of blossom and sweet fragrances weren't worth the coming summer of prickles in socks, the withered, brown vines, or the extreme fire danger. Spring is nothing but a microcosm of life, a brief vignette of hormones followed quickly by decay. I don't need to see that every October.

Yes my favourite jasmine plant is dying, and no I'm not happy about it.

My First Baby Shower

I didn't know what to expect at the first baby shower I've ever attended, but it wasn't spending fifteen minutes trying to get a football down from a tree.

image 1976 from bradism.com

Eventually it popped out.

Rolling

Tonight was the first truly warm night of the season. I celebrated the occasion by increasing the bass by one notch on the car stereo equaliser now that I can drive with the window down where it doesn't rattle. I've been feeling old lately, but cruising through the suburbs in my Czech Station Wagon, music pumping as I stick to the 40km speed limit made me feel alive and cool, especially with my new office gaming chair in the back, and the tax invoice in my wallet.

The Doorbell

I took my cat Trick or Treating.

image 1978 from bradism.com

Calm Under Pressure

I’ve never considered myself good at handling chaos. Calm under pressure, sure, absolutely. That’s a feature of my highly analytical, introspective nature. I’m acutely aware it may not pay off for me one day. I’ve had cars run red lights and barely miss me, violent and crazy people attempt to instigate fights, fire alarms go off mid-REM cycle. I didn’t disarm these situations gracefully. I was fortunate enough that most passed me by, or I was helped along, while the extent of my reaction - if any - has been to smile and nod. I’m not good with confrontations or excitement. I once spent an all stops train trip from Eden Hills to Adelaide with a tall woman’s heel on the top of my toes and I didn’t even say anything. Like I mentioned, calm under pressure.

I was speculating earlier this week about a hypothetical emergency and how I might be a hero in that situation. It was a short daydream, in which I pulled out my phone to search the internet for answers shortly after the gore erupted, and I found myself a bystander even in my own fantasy.

It was that very same night - walking Nash after twilight - when I came across a lost budgerigar. Well, Nash came across it, and I saved it from Nash through my foresight of having my dog on a short lead. As no one else was around, I decided I should save the budgie. I presumed it was someone’s pet, and that it had flown out an open window on what was a very warm October night.

I didn’t know how to catch a bird, and so of course my first and only plan was to Google it... In incognito mode... So I didn’t get ads later about how to catch budgies.
I tried the “perch” trick, and I called its name (“budgie”) but it did not come close. I checked lost pets of Adelaide web pages and no one had listed any budgies recently, and so I concluded that no one must really care about the budgie, and given that I live in a medium-density residential area where it was 26 degrees celsius at 9pm, I figured a real hero would probably come along at some point anyway.

So I left it there. I left it there to die and I didn’t even think about it for another three days. I walked by the same spot today and checked around to see if it was still alive and in need of rescuing, if perhaps my highly analytical, introspective and slow build up rescuing style might have actually been what it needed. I didn’t see it anywhere. Nor a corpse, so I can only presume everything worked out for the best.

Other than finding and eating a bulk meal curry in my freezer from September, this was the most exciting thing that happened to me in the final week of October, 2019.

Hobbled

I used to be a man of many hobbies. Writing. Photography. Programming. DJ Bradism. Jogging. Basketball games. Video games. Bench pressing in a smith machine. Making phocumentaries with Lego. Unfortunately most of these hobbies involve a lot of sitting, standing, moving or lying down and seeing that I can’t do any of those without pain I’ve been a little stifled in my creative outputs lately.

I’ve never been good with my hands, and so never considered anything particular hands-on or mechanical for a pastime, but last month necessity - rather than desire - motivated me to order new headphone pads for my Bose QC25s. The stitching had gone on the left earcup and an introductory acoustics engineering lesson taught me that with a hole in the cushioning my noise-cancelling headphones cancelled a lot less mechanical keyboard clacks and buskers in the mall. Through whatever coincidence - perhaps the same luck as me - my QC25’s cable was also starting to deteriorate and crackle thanks I suspect to the snag on the kitchen cabinets and brief swear that I have once or twice a week. So I ordered a replacement cable too, and coincidentally this week I also needed a new AAA battery as well. After pulling bits out and adding the new versions in I realised I’d gone and restored myself a pair of 2017 QC25 headphones.

image 1979 from bradism.com

And I thought, is this a hobby? I do have form.

2019

Walking out of the train station this morning, tried to sidestep someone's massive vape cloud and stumbled over a pile of knocked over e-scooters. Then thought I was getting a friendly hand up from a stranger, but actually had an Uber Eats coupon thrust in my face.

Cheese

Every night when I clean my teeth before bed my reflection gives me a thumbs up for making it through another day. In the morning when I brush my teeth after breakfast, mirror me flips the middle finger so I don't start to feel too cocky.

Chemist Warehouse Published My Floss Review

image 1980 from bradism.com

InstagramIsm

Smoothie jug and a cup full of smoothie, and a cutting board raised on wooden legs.

My Morning Smoothie #fitspo #fitfood #Iblendforlike4minutestomakeitallfluffy #OfficialBradismRaisedCuttingBoardforTallPeople

A tram with a mustache stickered on the front passed by me in the city this morning. This reminded me it was Movember, and a sweeping glance across the crowd waiting with me for the pedestrian light to turn green revealed very few - perhaps zero - mustaches.
This surprised me a tad, as I expect a reasonable percentage of the young, male population of Adelaide would be using this as their annual excuse to grow shit facial hair. They have in the past.

A coffee cup on a desk next to some post its.

But first, coffee. (After walking to the train station, drinking a litre of water and answering a bunch of emails). #FreeOfficeMilk #HardToMakeLatteArtWithAPodMachine

I wondered if this was a Generation Z thing. And I wondered if the ubiquity of mobile phone cameras, and the fakeness of Instagram, was influencing them not to look less than perfect for a whole month. Then I thought about how I had deleted Instagram a few months ago and how much better my life was since then. I still catch glimpses of Instagram now and then, and I see a lot of the same content which says nothing, but which I guess the subjects are using to remember the events of their life for later nostalgia. Unlike me, who uses an online Journal for that.

A golden retriever stretched out and looking like a jerk.

Nash #Dog #Dogs #JerkDogs #Golden #DogsOfBradism

And then I remembered I hadn't added any of my real life to my journal for a few weeks.

A shower at the gym

Sneaky Post Gym Shower Pic

So I decided that I would take a little Instagram #inspiration for my life events for a day. But instead of staging tableaus, filtering them and putting them on Social Media I would just crop them and leave them on Bradism in all their averageness, for my later nostalgia for November 20, 2019.

Post-Sunset light in a car park

Sunset #Sunset #Nature #Beautiful #Blessed #MissedActualSunsetTryingToGet70BucksSpendAtColesForFlyBuyPoints

The First Signs Of Summer

It's that festive, summer time of year. I went for a night walk in a T-shirt, because I ate too much at the annual Friendsgiving feast. I almost didn't eat too much, but there was a little bit of my braided, garlic bread twists left inside after the main course and I found myself tearing it apart with my hands and dipping it into leftover roast turkey juices. After that I figured the threshold had been crossed and I had two servings of dessert.

But it wasn't warm on my night walk simply because I was swollen with Thanksgiving themed dishes. I was warm because the air was warm, which felt uplifting. I was also warmed, minutely, by the Christmas lights displays I passed by, which many in my neighbourhood must have spent this weekend putting up and plugging in. I'm pretty neutral on the scale between Ebenezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim, but I like pretty shinies as much as the next primate and all the Yuletide sparkling simply reinforced the upcoming holiday days and more warm, relaxing nights that they'll bring.

Returning home, Nash was waiting by the front door as she always disapproves of me leaving the house in the dark. I followed her to the back room where she started sniffing and snuffling in the vicinity of the treadmill. I was curious what had her attention, and after a bit of snuffling myself I lifted the treadmill to reveal the first Christmas Beetle of the summer. Another sign! The season was truly upon us. Nash ate the insect quickly, then left to drink copious slurps of water.

Flaws

Is it weird that I nap through root canals, teeth cleanings and other dental procedures? You lie down on a chair and you don't have to talk for up to an hour, why wouldn't you drift off to sleep?

The only problem this morning was I had a wedge to keep my teeth apart, and a dental dam over that, so I kept waking myself up with muffled snores. I felt a little self-conscious about this, but the endodontist - leaning over me - had a poop in there somewhere and his rumbling bowels once or twice chimed back in something almost like a harmony.

And I thought, as I drifted back to sleep again, how utterly human that was. Two self-aware bags of meat and gas doing something as complicated as radiography and replacing the tiny nerve pulp inside a goddamn tooth's canals with a chemical adhesive solution, snoring and digesting all the while.

A Nice Ice Cream

There’s a lot of bad things in life. An ice cream by the seaside is not supposed to be one of them. But sometimes it can feel unsatisfying, like you’re going through the motions of something fun without actually enjoying it. You have to park at the beach, deal with the crowds on the sand, the line for the ice-cream, the smell from the warm dumpsters drifting over the queue, the challenge of choosing your flavours. The cost, the guilt of the calories, finding somewhere to sit and eat it before it all melts. It can be a chore.

I had a really great ice cream by the beach on Sunday night. It was the first hot Sunday of summer. The beach was more packed than I’d ever seen it. After having my choice of parks all autumn, winter and spring I had to park two streets back from the esplanade. We wandered back down to the sand, greeted by almost-still water and an instant five degree drop in temperature. The sun was closing in on the horizon. We walked along the shallows to Semaphore square, ordered a few scoops and then carried dessert back to the sand and found a dune to watch the sunset.

image 1986 from bradism.com

We talked about life, milestones just completed, new things to come. The ice creams were almost $15. All afternoon my hamstring tendon had been on the cusp of agony. There were uncertainties in our near future. There was work tomorrow. The ice cream was sweet, and still cold.

As the sun sunk and twilight commenced, I finished the last lapping of double chocolate and the conclusive crunch of waffle cone. We walked back to the car and blasted Christmas songs all the way home. There was still chocolate on my lips, and my belly was content. It was a beautiful night.

You can be in pain and still be happy.

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