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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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.

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.


Like my words? Want to buy one of my books? I think you'll like this one:

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

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


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.

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