Orbital Inclinations

Around about this time last hemisphere, when the summer solstice had just passed and the fireworks were popping, I was doing a lot of hiking, and eating yogurt and cereal for breakfast at waterfalls. I missed that.

With Adelaide's weather forecast for a max in the mid-twenties and zero flames, Vanessa as I decided an Australian PNW hike was the perfect start to the decade. I dug out my hiking boots and first thing this morning we did the Grand Falls loop at Morialta. The greenery was drier, the cars smaller, and the breakfast waterfall had no water in it, but it was a lovely experience that made me intensely nostalgic for the weeks of walking in winter-summer 2019, and a healthy way to kick off the decade.

image 1990 from bradism.com

I finished the day with the Australian version of the IPA.

image 1989 from bradism.com


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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.


What I did on my Summer Holidays

It’s not often I get eight consecutive days without work. That’s like two Easter weekends back to back. At least, that’s how I thought of it during the hot, smoky days between Christmas Eve and New Years Day.

Given this is my journal I thought it might be pertinent to document what I did during these free days before the events were lost to time, office routine and the damaging effects of alcohol on the brain. To be honest, I had to use my photo gallery, step tracker, calorie counter, and Chrome history to compile this summary.

December 24th
After a nice gym session on the last day of work, I caught the train home to make pizza bases. While the dough rose Vanessa and I went food shopping, then cooked the lamb and chicken and made yiros pizzas.

image 1992 from bradism.com

Then, as the late sun set, we took Nash to the dog park where she tried to start shit with a pitbull.

December 25th
Started Christmas with a walk on the sand at Grange, followed by a cherry smoothie for breakfast. Went to Alex’s for lunch where Nash and Wilhelm played with an energy that belied the heat and lack of shade. After the BBQ was done we retreated inside to eat and play Code Names.
Then it was back to the beach for more sand walking and a swim at sunset.

December 26th
Fried some potato and bacon for brunch. Played basketball in the afternoon when the UV levels went down.

image 1993 from bradism.com

Then Vanessa and I took a stroll along the river.
image 1994 from bradism.com

December 27th
Got to the gym again, watched some cricket and then went to J’s where we played Coup, Seven Wonders and ate pizza.

December 28th
Ate waffle bowls for breakfast after a walk along the beach from Grange to Henley. Played the first and last game of Age of Empires 2 vs Sam (I won), then went to Alex’s to dogsit Willy. It was hot. I threw a lot of tennis balls.

image 1995 from bradism.com

December 29th
I finished listening to Empire on Audible. That was a good book. I returned home briefly to make Hawaiian pizza for lunch with Vanessa. Went to the gym, then returned to Willy to throw more tennis balls and watch the Strikers.

December 30th
I can’t even remember. I should have prepared this entry progressively.

December 31st
Figured I should attempt my chores list, tried to do some plumbing then gave up immediately.
Went to Norwood for lunch and consumed a large beef schnitzel.
Went to the gym and tried to convert beef schnitzel energy into weight lifting progress.
Went to a New Year’s Eve games night and ate a lot more. Played Avalon and Kingdom Builders. I enjoyed both. Got home before midnight.

January 1st
Started the day with a hike and breakfast. Made pork in the slow cooker. Deployed the latest Bradism.com release, drank a beer, watched the sun set.

image 1996 from bradism.com

I would call it a win because, in hindsight, I ate a lot of food. Went to the gym. Saw family and friends. Played board games. Watched cricket. Drank nice beer. Went in the ocean twice. And I didn't go to work.

Routed and Unfiltered

I feel like I’m getting better at dealing with the plumbing in my house. Over the Christmas break I had a few jobs I wanted to complete, one was changing over the filter cartridges in my filter tap system. Of course, I delayed doing this until almost the final day of the break.

I opened the cupboard beneath the sink, slid the plastic tool that came with the filter tap system up over the first filter and twisted it. Nothing happened. I tried the other, but it was stuck too.

I Googled the brand and found an instructional video where a skinny blonde lady loosened the cylinder with barely a twitch of her bicep, so I tried again in the same fashion, however, the filters were not budging. A bit of a thump, nor a blast from the hair-dryer, loosened the seal.

In the past I would have then proceeded to search online for hours for ways to resolve the issue, tried different hardware and approaches, driven to Bunnings and spent money on other tools and aids, and generally cracked the shits. I didn’t need to do any of this to fix it. I just left the tap switched off, closed the cupboard and walked away.

I am not a handy man when it comes to the physical. Digital, on the other hand, I’m far more comfortable with. One of my other jobs for the Christmas Break was a couple of bug fixes on bradism.com. Well, one was an enhancement. On an old version of my website I used the path /getimage.php to render images, and while reading through old entries in preparation for the Top 10 Bradism Posts of the Decade I found a number of direct links to images which no longer worked on the new site. I decided to fix this by adding a Router configuration to map to the /images/show/:id path which I wrote to replace this feature. This should have been a simple task, requiring a regular expression to match incoming requests and rewrite it to the new path. So I could test, I ran a search in the database to find entries that had one of these old links in them and found only 18 entries had one.

At this point I had to make a decision, did I want to write code to fix this problem or just update the 18 existing entries. The regular expression would have been the same. I elected to fix in the code, based on it being a simple change, and also the highly-unlikely chances that there were other sites with links to my images out there on the internet that had been broken since 2017 but would still appreciate things working again. Maybe I just wanted to write code.

What I estimated to be a short task turned out to be painfully long. My Router supported rewriting of variables but not when they were passed through as query string arguments and it took me several hours to work this out. Updating the links in the database would have taken about ten minutes. Yet, I persisted, I learnt new things, and unlike my filter tap system, I succeeded.

What did I learn from this? Other than I prioritised bradism.com over filtered drinking water?


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Indentured Servitude

image 1997 from bradism.com

I don't want to write this entry, but I suppose I need to... There were times during my eight day Christmas break I found myself anxious to be back at work.

Worse, there was nothing specifically at the office which I was keen to attend to. In fact, last week during the quiet two days of a two-thirds empty office, faced with an exponentially emptier inbox, I still felt the same anxiety. I realised that what I craved was not a return to labour, but a reunion with routine.

This was bad. I've invested so much into perfecting my way of life over the past few years. I always know when to wake up. I know the macros of what I'm eating days in advance. I never miss the train. I never struggle choosing what to wear. Everything I need is at my fingertips, laid out in the exact order of my fingers. I've filtered novelty out of my life, which has been very effective at giving me a lot of free time, but at the cost of atrophying the parts of my brain that know what to do with it.

I finished 2019 almost the exact same way I started it. Same family, job, house, car, friends, phone, injuries and shoes. Sure, I started a workout program, tracking my calories, and playing basketball on Thursdays. These only consolidated the girth of the rails I've been choofing on.

2020 needs to be different. I need to shake some things up, purely for the sake of it. Not resolutions, nothing planned. I just need to nod my head at opportunities that the squishy parts of my brain would at present probably ignore.

If not, a whole Olympics could come and go without anything to remember it by.

The Redemption Arc

Ever since Disney bought Star Wars Alex invites me to watch the latest film with him. And every time it goes like this:

image 1999 from bradism.com

Brotherhood

My impressions of brotherhood - giving and receiving - have fluxed over the decades. I thought I might take a moment to snapshot how I feel about it right now, in reflection of the 2020 Brisbane Brothers weekend which has just concluded.

I’m close friends with both my brothers, and what I wondered about at times over this weekend was if I would like them as people if they weren’t my brothers. They both have different personalities to each other, and to me. I fit somewhere in the middle of their characters, and I suspect this creates an equally balanced triangle of personality. We like some similar things: board games, coffee, travel, Mum. Steve enjoys fishing, and walking slowly. Alex likes tight shorts and setting the air conditioner to 15 degrees, full fan. I like understanding how many calories are in my food, and walking around in bare feet in hotels.

I think most people would be friends after thirty years of shared experiences, so I need to consider if our friendship extends beyond that. I think what we share is more resilient. There is a level of competition, familiarity, and taking turns to metaphorically piss on the same piece of the dog park that normal, unrelated people wouldn’t tolerate if they didn’t have the same parents who would force them together again.

image 1998 from bradism.com

Our childhood days of bickering and power struggles seem long gone now we’ve reached our thirties (I won). But I like how, while each of us has found different places in life, has different goals, and follows slightly different ethe, my brothers are consultants I can call upon for free, and I am the same for them in return. I am an oldest, by my virtues of wisdom and fatalism. Alex is the youngest, as evident from his more stylised sunglasses and desire to hire scooters using an iPhone app. Steve is a middle child, based on his never-ending source of lofty goals and his nuance at playing everyone off each other.

I would definitely be friends with these people even if we didn’t share the same genes.

What I did on my Second Summer Holidays

It’s not often I get five consecutive days without work. That’s like one long weekend and one regular weekend back to back. Or 125% of an Easter.

Given this is my journal I thought it might be pertinent to document what my brothers and I did during these free days before the events were lost to time, distance, and once again the damaging effects of alcohol on the brain.

January 9th
After my taxi driver tried to kill me, I flew to Brisbane next to a crying baby. I had lunch with Mum in Bulimba, then met Steve in the city. After checking in to our hotel, we picked up Alex and then walked over the Story Bridge to Sealegs.

The first beer and the first board game of many.

The first beer and the first board game of many.

January 10
The sun rises at a quarter to 5 in Brisbane. I slept until after 6, then convinced both brothers we should exercise before breakfast. We followed the Riverside footpath to the Botanic Gardens, then back again. After that we ate fruit, muesli and yogurt.

image 2001 from bradism.com

After that, Alex and I took part in our annual Christmas-time ritual of him watching Star Wars and me napping through Star Wars. Steve picked up Jess, and we then went out to Chinatown for Japanese, and then to Soapbox brewing. After an IPA each we walked on further to Netherworld barcade for some Nintendo 64, Articulate and Codenames.
image 2002 from bradism.com

Then we went to Felons under the bridge to meet Mum and Mark. I drank a mango pale ale. Then we took a ferry to Southbank where I consumed copious amounts of Persian food. After dinner, Alex and I crossed the Victoria Bridge and power-walked back to the hotel. It was a very long day; thank goodness I got some sleep at the movies.

January 11
Neither brother responded to my rousing for another early walk, so I took myself alone along the New Farm Riverwalk to Sydney Street and back.

image 2003 from bradism.com

Much like this lizard, everyone was still asleep on my return, so I woke up Alex and convinced him to try the pool, and he convinced me to try the sauna. After that I was finally hungry again.

Following coffee, we played some Coup, then went to Queen Street Mall for Korean BBQ.

image 2004 from bradism.com

After that, Jess went to the airport, Alex had a nap, and I tried the hotel's odd little gym.
Dinner Saturday was at Mum's house where we ate roast chicken under the back pergola, listening to the rainstorm drum on the roof.
image 2005 from bradism.com

January 12
I walked with Steve over the bridge again, then we went out in the Valley for breakfast and multiple coffees.

image 2006 from bradism.com

After a game of Acquire back at the hotel, we set off to Victoria Park golf course for a round of putt putt.
image 2007 from bradism.com

We returned via Netherworld for burgers and Catan, before returning Alex to the airport. After that, Steve and I visited the original Holey Moley for another 18 holes and sickly sweet gin cocktails. Then it was to Fat Dumpling for dumplings, and Peach Spring Rolls to share. The one and only thing from the Brisbane Deserts Bucket List we tried.
image 2008 from bradism.com

January 13th
I walked myself along the river before breakfast again, then visited Steve's new house to tick off cartons as the removalists extracted them from the truck.
After purchasing my final coffees for the trip, I caught the train to Newstead for pasta and to complete my goal of reading the entirety of the Summer 2019 issue of Asimov's.

image 2009 from bradism.com

I left the old Gasworks and its population of office workers for a Monday afternoon schooner at Green Beacon Brewing. I nearly completed the final novella there, but ended up walking to Newstead Brewing to finish it off, with my last beer of the trip (and possibly month) the Key Lime Double IPA.

I enjoyed a very mellow train trip to the airport after that, and a flight of about the same length and napping as Rise of the Skywalker.

I think I worked out why I've been so tired this week.

How?

People in my office:
Brad, how do you stay so thin?

My supermarket loyalty program end of year points summary email:

image 2010 from bradism.com

Gym Musings

Purchase a 100 pack of these on ebay for $8

image 2012 from bradism.com

BAM, unlimited coat-hangers for the rest of your life.

The Top 10 Bradism Posts of the Decade

Everyone else was posting end of decade top tens back in December and I wanted in. Then I decided the only way no one would ever read it properly is if there was a way to embed cross links to other journal entries that I could add with BCode.

Many hours over many days of debugging PHP code later and here we are.

10. Plus Plus cereal

Breakfast gets mentioned a lot on this blog, but if you're looking for peak cereal insanity this is where you should start.
Casual Friday Breakfast III - Plus Plus Plus

Winter was when I decided I would create the ultimate bowl of Plus. Winter, or me saying to the Woolworth’s catalogue “Oh, Weet Bix Crunch is three dollars this week.” And Vanessa reminding there were seven boxes of Uncle Toby’s Plus in the cupboard which I’d convinced her to buy a few months ago and then never opened.

9. Man Journal Short Cuts

The tale of my first lawn mower.
"He mentioned that I should buy the oil removal next time I was in, because you need to change the oil every year, just like a car. And then he paused and stared at me to make sure the expression on my face indicated I understood this very simple concept. Which I didn't, but I recognised the conversation checkpoint and I faked a nod. Then I considered whether or not I should just take my lawnmower with me to the mechanic when I take my car there."

An insightful chapter on my journey to being the worst home handyman

Man Journal Short Cuts

This was not only my first lawn mower, but my first attempt at mowing a lawn. And also the first time I've felt solely responsible for the state of a petrol engine.

8. Diamonds and Guns

A succinct summary of the disconnect that existed between my soul and the universe in 2018.
Diamonds and Guns

Yeah, I carry a butt-pillow with me most places. I never know how to correctly answer the question, “How's it going?” I wear sunglasses on cloudy days.

7. The White Suburban

Life starts outside your comfort zone. Or in a comfort zone. A story of how I learnt that fitting in is not about how you look, but about following the dreams that were printed on the badge attached to you in the factory.
The White Suburban

"We'll upgrade you to something more comfortable," the car-wrangler told me. This was the first sign something was wrong.

6. Easy Beer Bread Pizza Bases

Another chapter in home ownership, a quality execution of internet recipe observational humour, plus a useful pizza bases recipe I still refer back to regularly.
Easy Beer Bread Pizza Bases

I was searching the internet today for a recipe for apple-cinnamon hot cross buns and I viewed enough cooking blogs to be reminded of the hatred I have for recipe posts that start with a gigantic boring story.

5. Life, Man

I’m quite proud of this solid, three paragraphs double-entendre that I posted to celebrate the addition of Nash to my family slash Journal.
Life, Man

I was caught off guard by just how easy it is to buy a living thing and take it back to your house. No questions asked.

4. Breadism

This is a throwback to a bread story I wrote in 2003, back in the days of Brad’s Summer Journal 2. Maybe that’s why I like it, because it’s tinged with the nostalgia of updating a HTML file in notepad at 4:25am on warm summer nights, my lumbar spine firm and supple. It’s also the prequel to another tale of breadism in 2017. It’s a running joke that’s been going for over fourteen years. That’s longer than some of my wheatstagram followers have been alive.

It’s also a real insight into the mind of someone who has been working from home in a city he knows no one for several consecutive months.

Breadism

I was thinking about Baker's Delight's Twisted Delights. This made me search my journal for references to Twisted Delights and led to... places I want to forget.

3. Reject Shop Hacker

Who would have known in 2011 when I wrote this entry about how much I loved my HD515s that, in 2020, I’d still be using those same headphones. And in 2020 they would still be padded with those same sponges I got in a three pack for $2 from the Reject Shop in Engadine. Those very sponges are on my ears right now as I type this. And the third sponge? Well, I did actually get rid of that one after some amount of dishes.
Reject Shop Hacker

I want to foreshadow the amount of distress I felt earlier this week when I discovered my Sennheiser's were dying.

2. How To Replace a Smoke Alarm Battery

Potentially the dramatic end to the second act of my story of home ownership. The most wilful damage I’ve ever done to a building for the sake of a journal entry.
Learn from my mistakes.
How To Replace a Smoke Alarm Battery

It's very simple to open the smoke alarm and replace the battery.

1. Quiet Achiever

Short and sweet. I reveal my pride in my two year old facade in the office. My decade-long, lifelong, screen of Green Pig smiling politely, keeping my true thoughts in words on the internet.
Based on a true story.

Contractually Obligated

Contracts can be good and bad.

Whenever you make an offer on a house you should make the price end in an odd number.

That is the lesson of the decade so far

Life has not been boring recently.

Australia Day 2020

I poured myself a bowl of low fat, low sugar strawberry yoghurt after the gym today and before eating I decided to hand sanitize. This was on top of washing my hands before leaving the gym, and also when I got home. That's not coronavirus related, just my normal routine.

Anyway, unbeknownst to me, I'd got some low fat, low sugar strawberry yoghurt on my fingers which combined with the hand sanitizer that I spread across my skin. And up until now I'd believed that low fat, low sugar strawberry yoghurt hand sanitizer was something only Google AI would dream up to advertise to me.

I did still manage to consume at least one barbecued sausage in bread today.

Countdown to the Past

There was a public holiday today.

image 2019 from bradism.com

Double J spent most of the day playing back the Hottest 100 of 1999. I listened to it on digital radio as I cleaned my kitchen and drove around to buy packing boxes off gumtree. Listening made me nostalgic. Nostalgic for last year, when I was made to feel nostalgic by the Hottest 100 of 1998 on Double J. The classic tunes themselves also made me nostalgic for 20 years ago (and also yesterday) when I was playing Age of Empires II. How much and how little things change.

As the countdown went longer, and Filter's Take a Picture's opening riffs failed to emerge from my bluetooth speakers I was forced to check the track-listing and realised that it was January 26, 2001 that I spent a post-shinding day alternating between napping on the couch during the cricket, and creating Age of Empires scenarios on my computer which - much like my novels - consumed a lot of time and led to not much.

That's the problem with nostalgia. It feels nice, but it's not too connected to reality. Who knows what I really felt during the final days of the millennium when those songs played and I did my things. Oh well. Only two years to go until I can rely on early bradisms to confirm.

Progress

A few weeks after we returned from the Pacific Northwest last year, fences went up without warning around a large parcel of land near my house that happened to include the path I walked on to get to the train station. That's mainly relevant to reveal the scale of months that the development of this suburban infill has taken. I've watched its progress over the course of many dog walks around the block, and walks home from the train station.

I don't consider myself a handyman, and I most definitely don't consider myself an engineer, but I read the sensational-adelaide forums on my lunch breaks sometimes and I was feeling relatively confident that the urban planners would use this opportunity to underground some powerlines. In particular, a Stobie pole that was planted smack in the middle of my past and ideally future walking path. A few months into the development I was vindicated by the removal of several other Stobie poles, and the introduction of electrical infrastructure. But the one Stobie pole whose removal was clearly a dependency for the surfacing works required to complete the footpath remained stubbornly in place. It got to the point where every day after work as soon as I'd alighted from the train I'd be staring in its direction to see if it had disappeared. It never did. Sometimes due to the perspective I thought it had, but after getting closer I would always find it there waiting for me, immovable.

The last couple of weeks have been pretty hectic. School Holidays are over, and work is busy with strategic projects and urgent issues to distract from them. I'm trying to buy a new house. I think I've sold a story that's been in a queue since April, learn Age of Empires II build orders, fix my sore throat, my hamstring tendon, and get my taps to finally stop dripping. Some days I make progress, other days I feel like progress makes me. Today was one of those days.

When I got off the train this evening the Stobie pole gone, and I think I felt a slight sense of accomplishment.

image 2020 from bradism.com

Poetry Corner Redux

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
Pissed on a tuft of grass at the junction
Because I am a dog.

Happy Birthday Nash

image 2021 from bradism.com

(Apologies Robert Frost.)

Spring Summer 2019 Playlist

image 2022 from bradism.com

The 2019 Spring playlist started earlier than usual, with late winter sunshine and happy tunes from Fitz and the Tantrums, and NVDES inspiring a Spotify collection at the earliest August date on record. What then followed was a drought of new additions, only DILLY DALLY and Waax coming out with songs that reminded me of spring storms and blooming flowers few and far between, the majority of new releases drier than average.

Rainfall during spring was less than average across Adelaide and the Hills, and I listened to songs by Phantogram and Plague Vendor during sunlit walks to Woodville railway station, or on weekend drives to Zap Fitness.

Night-time temperatures for spring were generally close to average across Adelaide and the Hills, and sometimes I drove with my windows down listening to Safia on the way home from nights of board games. For some reason I went to a baseball game and it was cold.

Then suddenly it was Summer. The driest December since 1972. I didn’t add a single new song to my Spring (and now Summer) playlist. I was too busy trying to manage migrating docker images from the development into the production cluster, and find alternatives to pie charts because senior management had decided pie charts were misleading. And occasionally there was a lazy summer day like 0171's 1000 Words.

When the New Release Radars of January finally started to include actual new releases and not remixes and covers I was in Brisbane, walking the New Farm Riverwalk listening to Crystal Fighters and enjoying the midday sun at around 7:30 AM. Both daytime and night-time temperatures were generally cooler than average for January, despite several very hot days. It felt like I was either behind the blinds on my computer, or sitting on the balcony, listening to Metric and Creeper and drinking the small assortment of IPAs I ordered myself during Black Friday's click frenzy back in November. February has seemed like it’s more sunset than anything else, and along with Tycho’s Outer Sunset that felt like a good point to wind up this playlist at an hour so I could focus on the Autumn playlist as soon as the next rainy day came.

Apricots

I've long been on a quest to find the perfect eating routine to prepare my body for basketball. I've ruled out everything from cocoa Weet Bix Crunch and milk, custard, and a bag of red frogs. Today I might have found the correct carboload. Despite the game being decided by a single missed three pointer (I shamed your jersey, Dirk) I finished it as full of energy as I began. My shots were falling, and I didn't feel bloated or tired.

For future reference the secret was 18 grams of almonds three hours before the game, followed by 64 grams of sun dried apricots two and a half hours before the game, and a medium-sized, overripe nectarine fifty-nine minutes before tip-off.

The strong flat white I had a 2:30 may also have helped. Perhaps the entire tin of corn I tipped into my gigantic lunchtime salad which I consumed 6 hours and thirty minutes, until 5 hours and thirty minutes before the game. It's hard to know where to draw the line. I ate even more corn last night, and spilt some of that meal on the very basketball shorts I would (wash and) wear before tonight's game. I watched an episode of The Stranger on Netflix during that meal, 22 hours before someone's six inch shorter, teenage son beat me in a jumpball. (But mainly because I jumped too early.) I took Nash for a brief stroll around the oval before that. Exactly 24 hours before the game started I noticed that council workers had whipper-snippered the passionfruit vine across the road that I'd been pilfering the occasional smoothie enhancer from this summer. Maybe that was the secret?

I think it was because the apricots were sun dried.

Cornices, and how to Negotiate Effectively

A black and white photo of a ceiling with no cornice.

It's about meeting in the middle.


About six years ago a clean-shaven, slightly tired-looking real estate agent was showing me the third storey of what would eventually become my home. “Look,” he said. “There are no cornices.”

“Wow,” I said, while thinking, “What the fuck is a fucking cornice?”

I was a lot more vulgar in my late twenties. And as someone who didn’t like paying double figures for a haircut the concept of half a million dollars of debt hadn’t enthused me to the home buying process.

He pointed up. “Where the wall joins the ceiling, there’s no timber trim. That’s a premium feature.”

A cornice is much like a house penis. One of those pointless architectural things that I’d apparently never noticed in my life despite spending large chunks of the preceding decades with my head dangerously close to the average ceiling.

“What’s good about no cornices?” I asked.

“Well, they can get dusty. You won’t have to keep them clean.”

That was something I thought about from time to time during the six years in which I never cleaned my ceiling.

Now the time has come to sell my home, and before I can sell it I need to paint it because Nash has used most of the lower half of all the walls as a butt rest/scratching post. I thought buying a house was a financially exhausting process, and now I’m learning that selling was no ten dollar haircut either.

I don’t have any objection to spending money, despite what people might think. I mainly struggle with the concept of spending money for something where I could have, in a different way, achieved the same result for less money. I also don’t like it when people see a conversation with me as a potential medium for obtaining riches. So like a good introvert I turned to the internet for advice on finding a painter. I used a website called hipages, and I arranged three quotes. The three quotes varied a lot, which didn’t help with my decision making process. I know that painting the house is an investment into the price I will hopefully sell it for. Picking the cheapest wasn’t necessarily the best option. In the end I decided the best approach was to choose the most expensive option and try and negotiate them down closer to the cheapest rate. I figured the painter with the bamboo business cards and CRM system probably had the most margin built into the quote with which to work in.

I turned back to the internet for advice on how to negotiate. I read some good articles, and I’ll distill this advice here for you and myself for future reference:

Before you even start negotiating you should know what you’re willing to settle for. This should be realistic, otherwise you might make the fake Oakley salesman in a Denpesar street market-stall cry.

When negotiations open, steal any counterpoints from the other party before they can use them against you. I opened my call with, “I’m not trying to go for the cheapest option, but rather find the right fit for the budget.” Now I can’t be accused of being a tightarse.

Finally, you need to understand what the other party wants. Obviously they want all my fucking money. But they probably want other things too. This painter had a nice instagram page with a lot of posts, so they probably wanted their ego stroked. They also had a pre-sales team, so they probably appreciated sealing deals and hitting sales targets in the middle of the month. And they probably wanted streamlined work, which was something I could offer in the form of a house with no furniture to move, and no ceilings to worry about (because the dog’s butt does not reach that high). So not only did I mention the other lower quotes, but I commented that I was impressed by their ‘gram. And that I was willing to put a deposit down today, and that I could be flexible with dates.
And there was one other deal sweetener we hadn’t mentioned in much depth yet...

And that’s how I saved $700 on a quote for painting by having no cornices.

Old Balance

The first of my house-packing archaeological digs worth sharing. The few NB 624s that I haven't thrown in the bin (yet).

image 2024 from bradism.com

Looking at this pile reminds me of daily life, back in the era of 2016-2018. Daily hamstring pain so constant I gave up on fashion, and daily Ozbargain visits to find the next secret discount code + free shipping code + cashback provider to buy new NB 624s for $60 a pair.

I wear N-5923's with my stretch fit chinos these days.

The Top 5 Best Carpets of My Life So Far

image 2025 from bradism.com

About six years ago a clean-shaven, slightly tired-looking young girl was showing me the hairier parts of what would eventually become my dog. “Look,” she said, pointing between the ears and the neck. “You need to brush here regularly.”

She might have said "daily".

That was something I thought about from time to time during the six years in which I constantly pulled up dog hair from my carpet. I'm not sure what the dog-anatomy-equivalent of a cornice is, but Nash has a lot of them. And they get dusty.

There's not a room in my house you can walk into and not find a stain or a spot where my dog has shit, pissed, ralphed or just sullied with her general dog activities. I'm at peace with this. I've been alive for over thirty-five years and there's not a single carpet I've ever looked back fondly at. I don't reminisce about the green, prickly flooring that I built and razed Lego cities on in my childhood. I have no affection for the cream carpet near my bedroom door in Ballara street where I laid on my back and stretched my hamstrings religiously each night before bed, my free hands running themselves across the heavy pile. The almost plastic fibres of the square floor mats I sat cross-legged on during primary school assemblies. That rug I accidentally threw up on in 2004 when we turned Milton-Bradley's Trouble into a drinking game. Carpets mean nothing to me. Dogs are awesome - even if they do make every dark piece of clothing unwearable after a certain amount of minutes. If the price of having a dog in a townhouse for six years is some 100 metres square of moderately priced carpet then so be it.

I had my first carpeting quote today as I don't think a new buyer for my house will see the character in the carpeting that I do. He lumbered up and down the stairs while Nash eyed the extensive tape measure warily as it stretched out and retracted. When he was back at the bottom of the stairs he scribbled some numbers on the top of the floor plan he'd been sketching in rough boxes and told me the price...

The price was high. Carpeting was going to cost almost three times as much as the painting. I'm going to try to negotiate. I don't think having no cornices will help this time.

Cornices, and how to Negotiate Effectively

About six years ago a clean-shaven, slightly tired-looking real estate agent was showing me the third storey of what would eventually become my home. “Look,” he said. “There are no cornices.” “Wow,” I said, while thinking, “What the fuck is a cornice?”

A Simple Chair

The aftermath of A Simple Space

The aftermath of A Simple Space


When I was reading through the 2010's for my Posts of the Decade I was dismayed to realise I used the same joke about physical theatre and the seats at Fringe shows in both 2015 and 2018.

I was instantly reminded of this mistake earlier this evening when - after a tasty dinner-snack of some Sri Lankan Kottu Roti - I aligned parts of my middle back and leg tendons with pieces of the plastic chair in the Octagon Tent. Vanessa and I were there to enjoy A Simple Space and after the first 60 seconds I quickly deleted any thoughts of back pain as we witnessed some extraordinary feats of acrobatics and significant abuse of spines. It was only a few days ago that I had pleased myself by back-squatting 60kg from a seated position, and that was with an evenly weighted barbell close to my centre of gravity. I was particularly awed by one man's ability to back squat another young man who was standing on his shoulders, while a woman hung folded off that man's head using her glutes as his hat. He displayed no evidence of pelvic tilt during this maneuver.

Then there was a part where a man jumped from back to back of two of his prone performers. After each jump the one without a fully grown human being standing on their spine would do a perfect form push up, slide themselves a foot further along the hard, wooden stage, and then lie prone again so they could be landed on by an even longer jump. My vertebrae throbbed sympathetically with each audible thud. One of the guys who had his back jumped on ten times then went on to solve a rubik's cube while balancing upside down on his head.

I would recommend this show.

Looking Back

I hired a three tonne truck today to move my furniture. All you need to hire a truck, apparently, is a driver's licence and enough cash to cover the deposit. I was given they keys and shown to the driver's cabin.
"Have you ever driven a truck before?" She asked me.
"Yes," I said confidently, thinking back to my weeks behind the wheel of the white suburban.

And that's the story of how I reversed a three tonne truck into a tree and gently scratched the side mirror.

Kisses

The timing of my current house changeover hasn't been great. (Note to self, next time start packing and purging more than a week before relocating). But one thing I couldn't have controlled was the outbreak of COVID19 Coronavirus and the subsequent international frenzy to mass purchase toilet paper and tinned food during the same weeks I was trying to deplete my pantry in preparation for moving.
Luckily I've been panic buying hand sanitizer in bulk every few months for the past ten years. But not TP.

That's how, despite visiting the supermarket six times over the past few days, I've found myself in my new house with only a couple of toilet rolls to my name. Now was not a good time to be bulking. Every sit down visit to the toilet bowl takes me a few squares closer to the end.

I had no idea what I was going to do when the day arrived and my hand found only cardboard.
Then I recalled - as I'm routinely reminded over the past six years - I've been living with an expert butthole cleaner this whole time.

image 2043 from bradism.com

For Me

This isn't panic buying. Despite what they thought at the supermarket. This is a normal amount of yoghurt for me.

image 2044 from bradism.com

Thursday Night Hoops

My Dirk Notwizki top is, among other differences, a darker blue than the rest of the singlets worn by the other members of the C grade social basketball team I've been filling in for over the summer. At half time in our last game the senior referee told me that for the rest of the season I wouldn't be able to wear it anymore. In response I Dirk'd a corner 3 during the second half - my first triple of the season - and we went on to lose narrowly.

It turned out that referee was right, and I would not be able to wear my Nowitzki singlet again in the summer of 2020 thanks to a global pandemic. Right when I'd got my eye in.

0 Beans

If there was a silver lining to this Coronavirus thing it was that the rest of society was going to adapt my personal level of hand sanitizer usage.

Unfortunately during my latest visit to the supermarket I learnt that the rest of society was also going to adapt my personal level of tinned 4 Bean Mix usage.

The Fourth Bean

Day 1 of the non-essentials shutdown due to COVID19. Unfortunately I did not panic buy more than a few salads in advance, and I'm already out of 4 Bean Mix. Vanessa did pick up some Woolworths Mexican Style 3 Bean Mix, and in what I'm sure will not be the last of these entries for 2020 I experimented in the kitchen.

Mexican Style 3 Bean Mix is no substitute for 4 Bean Mix. Something is missing, and it's not chickpeas because there was 75g of that in the hummus. Because it was Mexican Style I tried adding some pickled jalapenos in case they could be the fourth bean, but it was not to be.

image 2045 from bradism.com

Later, after a small amount of yard work on the house I'm going to try and sell during this global crisis, I bought a medium chocolate thickshake for the first time in twenty years in case McDonald's close in Australia like they did in the UK.

COVID19G

I came into a very desolate city today to work from the office, as I had two appointments in town along with a number of minor tasks that needed doing before the inevitable lockdown commences. It was also maybe my last chance in 2020 to wear a polo.

Between those minor tasks I decided to visit my favourite coffee place for a final medium flat white before society collapses.

Instead of the usual queue of caffeine addicts with Keep Cups out the door it was just me and the owner in the 8 square metre store and so instead of the brief hello we typically shared we had time to discuss Coronavirus and the impact to traders and the peculiar flavour of 2020 so far. The topic of working from home came up while he was frothing my milk, and he asked if I'd heard about the 5G problem, about which I assumed he meant the lack of federal investment into a reasonable fibre network for Australia would lead to excessive congestion on the wireless networks while everyone was in isolation.

No, he clarified that the 5G problem was that there would soon be antennas on every block on every street and the government was able to use the 5G frequencies to give people cancer and control their minds.

This was devestating to hear. I thought there were enough problems this year, and now I have to add to the list finding a new favourite coffee shop.

Like Riding A Bike

I went for my first bike ride of the millennium today. I felt nervous, but was pretty awesome. Riding a bike has all the advantages of walking, but twice as fast.

Never Been a Better Time to Sell

image 2046 from bradism.com

Sprawling over 3 levels this magnificent townhouse boasts a wonderful standard of living for self isolating through a global pandemic.

The mid level comprises 3 bedrooms, all with the convenience of built in wardrobes for storing extra toilet paper, and the master suite features a designer ensuite and private Juliet balcony that's well over 1.5 metres up from passers by on the street.

image 2047 from bradism.com

Loaded with extras including reverse cycle air-conditioning, security alarm, garage with auto roller door & direct internal access. A gated front courtyard slows the progress of the infected, and with Fibre to the Premise - connected by Ethernet to every room - there's no better place to work remotely or binge Netflix and wait out the collapse of society, while still being in the delivery zone of the cosmopolitan and increasingly popular Woodville Road for all your dining options.

The real wow factor of this home is the spacious family living on the upper floor. This sun drenched area is generous in proportions, perfect for gatherings of up to two people. A stylish kitchen features both intercom and dumbwaiter to receive deliveries and takeout without going downstairs. The open plan living area effortly flows out to the huge entertainers balcony that provides 180 degree views, and a perfect sniping position for targeting looters and attackers (or tipping burning oil in a pinch).

image 2048 from bradism.com

Some of Adelaide's best kept and most pristine beaches are just moments away, so if the burning city is visible through the floor-to-ceiling south-facing windows you can easily escape to the water and surrender your home and your dreams to the frenzied undead as you flee across the waves into another glorious western sunset.

Enquire now to schedule a private appointment, or register for an upcoming open home inspection via Zoom.

Going the Distance

Onkaparinga Gorge from above

It was our eight year wedding anniversary yesterday, another very normal kind of event that has come up during these very abnormal times.

Vanessa and I celebrated (after pancakes) by driving to Onkaparinga National Park for hiking and a picnic. It was an extreme - as well as enjoyable - form of social distancing. We did see on the horizon a few others out enjoying the pleasant autumn weather. I crossed Vanessa's path too, and she crossed mine, which is allowed because we are married. What she and I have and had over the past eight years is the opposite of social distancing. If we’re apart it’s typically a minimum of a sprawled out Golden Retriever, to a maximum of a table tennis table away.

2020 right now is certainly a reminder to appreciate the little things, and that’s what we’ve got, a whole bunch of little things to make this crazy timeline feel okay. If I have to distance myself from society for twelve months there’s no one else I’d want by my side.

The Organic Calendar

Back in mid-March - when days felt like weeks, and the Prime Minister's directive to stay home was echoed down from senior management - I knew I would need a way to track the coming months of isolation.

I decided to grow a beard to measure the progress of time.

I caught a glimpse of it in the mirror today and I can confirm isolation has been going for at least three days.

image 2050 from bradism.com

In my facial hair's defence, I did have to set it back an hour last weekend.

Easter Beer Hunt 2020

On Wednesday night a super moon rose above Adelaide which was supposed to herald the coming of the 2020 Easter Beer hunt. Alas due to the nature of current events I wasn't able to compete for glory on the fields of a reserve or park near someone's house after a BBQ with friends.

Fortunately I have my own backyard now and Vanessa volunteered to hide a few beers for me after dark. This was a new experience for me - single player beer hunt. I'll openly admit my proficiency in past beer hunts has been less due to my clever locating skills and more down to my speed across the ground and enthusiasm. I'm not good below my knees and I have a preference for not getting my hands too dirty.

I allowed Vanessa free reign to hide my two beers as trickily as possible, with the only condition that it was in a drinkable state afterwards. She set about outside and a few minutes later, head torch donned but no need for a basket, I was off and searching through the nooks and crannies of my new property racing only the clock and my desire for a beer.

If I'd done this hunt with Vanessa in my old townhouse's courtyard I think I would have been faster. As it turns out there is a lot of places to hide a beer in even a modest sized backyard. After I started lifting up pavers Vanessa gave me a few clues. In the end it took me over 30 minutes to find all the beers - a refreshing mental distraction from the isolation of COVID 19.

My final haul: 2 beers and a spare sprinkler head for the irrigation!

My final haul: 2 beers and a spare sprinkler head for the irrigation!

Cycles

Two weeks ago I was trying to cut a wooden skewer into pieces to fix a broken cabinet hinge so I could defrost some chicken breast while rescuing some frozen sausages that had fallen behind the freezer drawer, while simultaneously trying to make a giant salad for lunch.

My brain and handyman skills were not up to this task, given the context of so much parallel processing.
I considered myself a bad handyman before that day, and this was not improved whatsoever by the scissor-tip-shaped incision I put into the fleshy part of my left palm.

In the slowed down time between the wound appearing and the blood flowing I had time to reflect on how annoyed I felt with the universe. The COVID19 Pandemic already had me in a holding pattern - waiting patient and useless - as scientists I’ll never meet work to find a vaccine so I can go back to my important life of catching trains, pooping in the office, going to the gym and playing board games in real life. Now I was going to have a secondary period waiting patient and useless, unable to perform bodyweight exercises or ride my bike or wash the dishes until cells under my skin that I’ll never meet stitch together my muscle and flesh whole again. A cycle within a cycle.

It’s most likely you have never cut the fleshy part of your left palm, but if you have you’ll know it’s one of the hardest places on the body to bandage even if you have a wife to help you. By the time the blood clotted and the antiseptic was dry my left claw was more strapping-tape than skin. A cramped talon that, with every flex of my thumb or wrist, seemed to still be exposing the wound somewhere under there to the environment. I grumpily ate my salad. I grumpily stared at the broken cabinet. I watched the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan and empathised with the bodies being shredded at Normandy. I went to bed and slept and waited.

As they say: time heals all global pandemics, and while COVID19 is still affecting thousands in ways far worse than a cut palm at least my hand has healed enough that I can ride a bike and move the view around in Tabletop Simulator. I’m a lot less grumpy now. It took a while to cure that. It wasn’t only waiting that solved my mindset. It was, ironically, more cycles. Counter-spinning cogs. Innovating patterns for my new way of life. Finding a way to shower and feel clean on a regular basis again. Designing new workouts that didn’t need my fingers. Walking, working, washing in a repeatable routine that took the anxiety out of waiting.

I haven’t fixed the cabinet yet.

Traditions

Every year on Anzac Day, Vanessa bakes me a giant cookie to eat while we play Rummy.

This year I made a time-lapse of me eating it.

Settled

It has been cold and rainy this week, and there’s a pandemic, but I’ve been feeling happy.

There’s no major achievement that’s the source of my good cheer. No writing completed or published. Work’s a bit of a drag at present, and there’s no holidays on the horizon. But when I have made it outside for a short walk around the neighbourhood, or driven to the shops for essential supplies, the sight of For Sale signs in front of houses makes me smile. They remind me that - after fifteen weeks - my own personal saga of leaving my old home and moving into a new one has finally come to a close. Perhaps it was only the simple things in life I needed to find contentment: A freestanding house with a little garden, a wife and a dog, FTTC, a slow cooked curry, almost half a million dollars deposited into my bank account.

Dismayed

I could say a lot about May. There's only been six days of it so far and a lot has happened. Nothing that warrants a narrative, but I promised myself that when it got to the point in the evening where I felt like watching pointless videos on YouTube instead of going to bed (Catan strategy breakdowns for low ore boards? Really, that's better than getting a good sleep?) I would write something instead.

Despite the pandemic, our house sold. That good feeling alone has been buoying me throughout the week. We bought a Skierg to celebrate.

Haven't run out of toilet paper; still no bites on my DVD Collection on gumtree.

I picked up a basketball and shot it towards a basketball ring yesterday. It was a warm and breezy late Autumn day and the ball went swish through the net. In fact, my first four shots went swish, and each and every swish I elicited through twenty minutes of sunshine unpicked a miniature scab from my heart, which then stung after the sun set and the cold air got in under my ribs.

The bird of paradise plant in the garden flowered and I was so excited that I googled how to fertilise them, sprinkled some dynamic lifter around their base, watered it in with some pea-straw and then the dog dug it up and ate it. So instead I fertilised the lawn in a roundabout way.

I received the most amount of money I've ever been paid for something a story I wrote ($640!), but I wrote it like three years ago and it was rejected so many times, and the place that bought it hasn't actually committed to publishing it, so I'm kind of not sure if they just bought the rights to get the thing out of circulation while the world suffers through COVID19.

I broke the seal on porridge this year earlier this morning. Instead of mixing in banana I mixed through tinned apricots. It was nice, but missing something - probably banana. I believe today might actually be the first day of the year I didn't eat a banana.

Who knows what the rest of the month has in store.

What's On My Mantle

I’ve been guilty in the past of putting in a token effort performing some home maintenance in order to justify cracking a beer at the end of it. Ironically in these days of Coronavirus isolating I feel like the opposite has been occuring. Vanessa and I exhibited some proper diligence repairing a broken cupboard door today and I didn’t even touch the kristal or the dunkel in the fridge afterwards. This while it seems like most of the people I know are taking the Winston Churchill approach to this current threat to our nation - minus being in charge of anything. And also possibly the amount of bathing.

I was thinking about my lack of drinking recently, as well as the British Mass Observation diarists of the aforementioned era, and this inspired me to do some calculations on what I’ve been saving money on this pandemic. Craft beer, for one. In the twelve months before a state of emergency was declared (which, apparently, does not mean you can use that little hammer thing hanging on the bus windows) I drank quite a few craft beers and while it would not add up to a huge amount of litres it did add up to a significant amount of cash. A fresh pint of craft beer always tastes bad to me unless it costs at least thirteen dollars. So let’s call that $65 a month.

Isolation has also made it harder to procrastinate when responding to unimportant emails by going out and buying a coffee. I can still go downstairs and make a pod coffee (~80c) but at that price I’m still making a profit compared to the $4.50 for the “medium” coffee with keep cup discount I used to fork out two to three times a work week. On the downside, I do need to pay for my own milk now (~30c/coffee). I do not give myself a keep cup discount, although I have taken to using my keep cup at home to preserve the warmth in my autumn coffees all the way up the stairs and through the Zoom meeting I’m probably running late for.

There are other areas where I’m saving on costs. No public transport. No basketball participation or football games/beers. No gym costs. Yes home gym costs. I’m extending the life of my stripy polos an extra six to twelve months, and probably extending the life of my shaver even longer. Nash has gone from five Dentastix a week to about that many a month. I haven’t seen my physio since early March and I haven’t seen the dentist since 2019. Oh and I’ll also be saving at least $10K by not travelling anywhere overseas.

And yet, I’m still not drinking.

Eased

I went out and bought my first coffee in about seven weeks this morning, feeling a little bit shocked when I reached the outdoor dining already happening at 8:30am on a Monday morning. I'm still working from home, a bit too far from a little city cafe, and I had to settle on a little city-fringe cafe instead.

Look, the coffee wasn't amazing. It was on the smaller side, for a "large", and pricey at that, but I didn't complain. It was hot and it tasted like coffee and the sky was blue so I leaned against a fence near an arterial road and sipped it in the sun. And I don't know if it was responsible, but I felt like I was a little more chilled out during the morning stand up later that day. I even changed out of my North Face alpine hoody and into a stripy polo for the rest of my meetings.

Maybe we can control reality. Sometimes when I'm trying to solve a technical problem at work I think really hard about the issue and surrounding context and after a bit of Googling I find the perfect blog post for the situation . Maybe if we all think really hard about the future we want, it can happen too.

The Wave - A Reflection

I’ve written a lot about COVID19 and its impact on Bradism at a micro - down to the legume - level, but I’ve touched less on the macro. I have also been reading The Splendid and the Vile this past week which is a narrative retelling of Churchill and the Battle of Britain, sourced by Erik Larson from a multitude of personal diaries and other secondary sources. I’ve found it fascinating.

South Australia marked the end of all known cases of coronavirus yesterday (for how long, who knows) and I thought it was a good a time as any to reflect on the events of the past few months, and hope that someday perhaps a narrative retelling of Coronavirus might feature some of my words read in the audiobook in a suitably formal Adelaide accent. I wanted to remember what the new normal was before it became the new normal.

Adelaide Oval and the empty footbridge.

No football crowds on this sunny Sunday afternoon.


I flew domestically to Brisbane in early January, not fully appreciating it might be the last opportunity in a long time to stand in a packed queue at an airport; sit shoulder and knee to shoulder and knee in an aeroplane seat. I’m not sure where breastfeeding in the back row of the plane will land in the new normal, but back then I just read my book and watched the outback stretch by without a second thought.
At the hotel I stayed at with my brothers we had a stack of board games. Steve had brought Pandemic, but something we shared in our hearts meant it was the only game we didn’t touch that weekend.

From an Australian point of view, previous attempts by the world to spawn a pandemic during my existence have petered out well before they affected my life beyond something I read on a news website while drinking a smoothie, or eating cereal and yogurt. In February 2020 it became clear to me COVID19 was something different. Maybe it is South Australia, where isolation is almost like elevation, that allows a perspective different to other places in the world. COVID19 was a wave, a zerg creep spreading through the transport hubs of the world towards Australia, Adelaide. In late February in the office I was advising my team to buy sanitiser, and wash their hands. Actually I did that last year too, but in mid-March when the stores were all out and every craft gin distillery was horizontally diversifying I felt a little bit proud to see one litre tubs of sanitiser on each of my staff members' desks. Of course by that time almost all of them were working from home. On my final day in the office - March 25 - it did cross my mind that I could probably harvest a few gallons of sanitiser from the hundreds of empty desks on my level alone, to augment my income throughout the economic apocalypse which was sure to come.

The first wave broke over Adelaide that week of March. Seventeen cases, 31, 38, it seemed inevitable that the virus would run rampant, there’d be exponential growth in infections, everyone would shit blood and die, I’d never eat four bean mix again. I felt relatively safe myself. I already had exceptional hand hygiene, I protect my personal space on public transport and I keep my mouth shut when I’m walking. Back then it wasn’t as evident that surface transmissions were so potent. It was hard not to take a little delight in the available seats on the tram in peak hour, or the quietness of the gym despite knowing these were signs of circumstances that could negatively impact me and my family immensely. (Though the squat rack always seemed to be occupied regardless.)

And then the staying home intensified. For weeks all we did was stay home, other than essential trips once or twice a day to the supermarket, or Big Box Hardware, or some other shop to buy the things we'd need to continue staying home. (Plus extra trips back to the supermarket due to half the shopping list being out of stock that morning. To be fair, at the time I did unfortunately have to deal with two homes). The streets were quieter during my morning walks around the block. South Road as desolate as the toilet paper aisle at the shops. The malls were empty. The parks were empty. It felt not like everyone was staying home, but that everyone had been eradicated. Like most westerners I’m more familiar with zombie movie tropes than I am with epidemiology and while I wanted a more comprehensive understanding of the latter the day to day experience was like the former.

A highway with only a single car.

Peak hour on a Thursday morning in April.


Venturing out to the supermarket in particular felt like being a hunter/gatherer when man first picked up tools. Survival instincts flushed me with adrenaline. Free hand sanitizer flushed me with adrenaline (and sanitizer). You could trust no-one. Everyone was a carrier. Supermarket shopping had already been an all-senses experience before COVID19, satisfying my lizard brain with food and my monkey brain with bargains and pretty colours. Now it took on a new dimension, triggering gambling pleasure centres. Getting discounted steak and not having coronavirus a week later felt like a jackpot.

April turned into May and staying home became less intense, and more normal. New routines emerged. I walked thousands of steps without leaving my neighbourhood. We stopped experimenting in the kitchen and live streaming events we wouldn’t have gone to in normal times anyway. On Zoom even the managers had stopped wearing collared shirts.
Everyone else in Adelaide must have been getting used to staying home too. The new daily cases kept going down. The testing coverage expanded, hunting for the infected and coming back with nearly nothing. Somehow - with respect to the handful who lost their lives and livelihoods - in South Australia the first wave hadn’t even touched the goolies. There’s almost, almost the feeling like we missed out on the adventure. 2020 FOMO. I’m sickened and heartbroken for some of the cities I’ve had the privilege of visiting in the past, and thrilled my state has been relatively unscathed healthwise. I recognise these thoughts are irrational, survivor’s guilt, the implication I’m a bystander in the universe. But honestly I wouldn’t want to be any other place in the world this year. At least so far, it’s only May after all. Who knows what twists the remaining seven months of 2020 have in store? Maybe a second wave, the collapse of society, the rapture - dinosaurs raised from their graves, roaming the earth. That banana fungus taking out Cavendishes. I’m counting nothing out. Maybe 2021 is going to be even worse?

Play equipment covered in warning tape that has come loose.

Playground throwing off the shackles of government restrictions.


What I hope is that there’s a vaccine, we all learn a valuable lesson and all subplots are wrapped up in a satisfying way. I will settle for the world going almost back to normal, but there's more hand sanitiser everywhere and everybody else is as hesitant to shake hands with people as I am.

Whatever happens next, I’ll try to journal it.

The Blind Side

I have strong technical knowledge of multiple programming languages and application server stacks. I can make bagels from scratch. I've driven a small truck. I've gone to foreign countries, ordered food in their native language and used their train systems. I've written three full novels. I've bought and sold property.

One day I will work out how to operate Venetian blinds.

Birthday Month

Couldn't decide between waffles and pancakes for breakfast this morning.

image 2056 from bradism.com

Solution: Waffle Bowls containing mini slightly protein banana and dark chocolate Lindt bunny pancakes, served with Halo salted caramel icecream and a dash of sugar free maple syrup.

Enjoyed outdoors under the patio.

I Know What I Did Last Summer

It’s cold in Adelaide. And Dark. On the weekend Vanessa and I huddled together and watched I Know What You Did Last Summer, which reminded me of last Fourth of July, and the week leading up to it which I spent in Oregon hiking and drinking IPAs. It also reminded me that I never posted the collection of beer reviews I wrote over those final days of my Pacific Northwest experience. I found the old Doc and fixed the spelling mistakes. The rest I leave in its pure form.

I drank quite a bit of beer in Washington, from the breweries of Seattle to the breweries of Packwood. It wasn’t until Oregon that I realised I should try to capture my feelings about the beers I was trying so that I was doing more than tickling my brain with hoppy, mild poison. I used my Safeway club card in Sandy to buy a mixed 6 pack of longneck IPAs that looked delicious and photogenic and started my reviewing journey in our cabin at Government Camp at the bottom of Mt Hood.

Worthy Strata IPA
Bend, Oregon

image 2057 from bradism.com

The colour is appealing straight out of the bottle. Rich, light brown and with aromas of beer. The flavours are deep and moreish; not bitter but not sweet. A refreshing, mid-thick ale that fills the mouth but doesn't overwhelm the senses. Despite saying IPA on the label it's described as an “Australian Style Pale Ale”, and maybe that's why a dash was spectacular for caramelising some onions.
Would drink again: Yes

Portland Brewing Ink & Roses IPA
Portland, Oregon

image 2058 from bradism.com

Slightly bitter IPA, highly alcoholic. Not rich or hoppy without a strong aroma. Beery in colour. Enjoyable, but no hints of anything.
Would visit brewery?: No

Elysian Jasmine IPA
Seattle, Washington

image 2059 from bradism.com

There's a jasmine vine I walk past daily in Adelaide and every springtime it flowers and perfumes a stretch of my foot commute. Jasmine is probably my favourite inedible plant, but that might have to change as these guys have added real jasmine flowers to an IPA. The fragrance is noticeable immediately upon opening the bottle. The flavour is more subtle, adding a slight, sweet and polleny taste to the otherwise effervescent, deep IPA texture. It's not particularly hoppy or wheaty, just a pleasant mouth filling beer with the novel aroma of flowers.
Would drink this beer once a year? Yes, in springtime.

Deschutes Freshly Squeezed IPA and Fresh Haze IPA
Bend, Oregon

image 2060 from bradism.com

I'd already enjoyed the Deschutes Freshly Squeezed IPA before trying the Fresh Haze purely based on the can art. The smaller Squeeze is hoppier, with the mosaic hops in particular dominating a thick, wet beer.
Fresh Haze has hops as well, though the orange-citrus zest overpowers the strength of the hops and I'd classify this closer to hard orange juice than beer. The sweetness isn't strong, nor can it completely mask the 6.5% alcohol content, but expecting something really hoppy I felt a little disappointed. However with the right expectations, and a greasy breakfast, this beer could be the perfect indulgence. Would drink again.
Number of IPAs in this IPA: Just Right

Mt Hood Brewing Co Ice Axe IPA
Mt Hood, Oregon

image 2061 from bradism.com

On a day when the low cloud engulfed Mt Hood, we walked to the town’s obligatory micro-brewery to break up the bottle tastings with some freshly poured.
The Ice Axe IPA was served chilled, like a Government Camp morning. The hops are strong, and take the edge off any bitterness - like a bushy tailed squirrel flitting across your slog up the steep inclines of Zig Zag canyon. There is a crisp, malty aftertaste with each sip that tastes like malt.

Mt Hood Brewing Timberline Tucker Double IPA
Mt Hood, Oregon
The 8% alcohol content of this double IPA (whatever that means) is hidden behind a wall of hops, thick beer, and the alleged aroma of grapefruit.
The Justin Timberlake Timberline is a place of beauty, alpine meadows and snow-covered pines beneath the brutal gaze of Mt Hood's barren, icy slopes. The double IPA is like that, a beautiful, looming mountain of a beer ready for the courageous, and dismissive of the weak… It may have been ambitious to review two full strength pints in the same hour. I may have consumed more IPA than water over the past few days.

10 Barrel Brewing Apocalypse IPA
Bend, Oregon

image 2062 from bradism.com

An IPA which explicitly encourages drinking after physical activity, the Apocalypse IPA was the appropriate end of day beer after the last of 19 consecutive days in the Pacific Northwest's national parks and forests. By which I mean I was so numbed to the various hints and hops of Oregon’s beers that I noticed nothing notable about this beer, other than I would enjoy drinking it again and also doing 19 consecutive days of hiking instead of working again.

At this point on my beer reviewing journey we drove from Mt Hood to Salmon Street in Portland for the final few days of our holiday. Not only was there a Safeway a few blocks away, but the hotel provided a new craft beer selection to guests for free every night. I was put in the difficult position of drinking all my remaining beers before flying out, while also trying to buy more IPAs.

PFriem IPA
Hood River, Oregon

image 2063 from bradism.com

An intense IPA, strong in hops and hints. Aromas of citrus. Aromas of citrus that fill the nose FROM INSIDE THE MOUTH. It has bears on the label.
Particularly refreshing after a long afternoon on the streets of Portland.
Would drink again: Yes.

Deschutes Tasting Paddle
Bend, Oregon

image 2064 from bradism.com

1 - watery beer. 2 - beer. 3 - extra-fruity beer. 4 - IPA-flavoured IPA. 5 - chocolate and coffee in a stout? Groundbreaking! 6 - sours are terrible.

Fort George The Optimist IPA
Astoria, Oregon

image 2065 from bradism.com

The human body is 80% water. My body is now 80% IPA. And thus, this one tasted like pure water. (By which I mean IPA, I wouldn’t want anyone to misinterpret that this was an amazing IPA. I just mean that by this point, and another day of walking the cool-summer streets of Portland I would definitely have tasted like an IPA.)

I probably should stop drinking beer.

10 Barrel Tasting
Bend, Oregon

image 2066 from bradism.com

I drank 10 beers. Highlights: a rocky mountain brown ale, an extra-IPA flavoured IPA (Pearl). A cucumber water infused sour that tasted exactly like a watermelon warhead. Sours are amazing.
Not pictured - the IPA I drank at McMenamins on the way to The Pearl District.

Sunriver Brewing Vicious Mosquito IPA
Sunriver, Oregon

image 2067 from bradism.com

A strong IPA in a little can, like a mosquito [note - I don’t think I finished this review. Not because I was drunk, but because there are only so many synonyms for hoppy].

Several more undocumented beers later

image 2068 from bradism.com

Hair of the Dog Green Dot Triple IPA
Portland, Oregon

image 2069 from bradism.com

IPA is more than water to me now. It is my body, my soul, it is the air that I breathe. I'd seen Double IPAs on brewery menus in the past, but this was the first triple IPA I'd encountered. The strength was intense. Finally, a panacea to the IPA ubiquity that had dulled the cans of the past few days. If IPA was the air that I breathed, the triple IPA was the equivalent of me being a bulldog, in the car on the freeway, my head out the open window and the air-beer blasting into my brain at 77 miles per hour.
After this, I watched the 4th of July fireworks and then went to bed.
This was the right way to end my beer drinking in the IPNWA.

(If you’re wondering where the 6th longneck ended up)

Silver Linings

I visited the Nespresso store today to buy more pods to sustain me through the next few months of working from home. There was a guy standing at the door with a silver bottle of hand sanitizer on a fancy tray. He squirted a generous dollop onto my hands for me before I entered the store.

I know coronavirus is super bad, but I gotta say, that was like a dream come true.

Restrictions Training

image 2070 from bradism.com

After another stage of restrictions were lifted today I returned to the gym for some non-essential weight lifting.

On arrival, I queued outside with the other gym members and we took turns to enter. There was hand sanitizer at the door, and arrows on the floor to follow to navigate. The music on the sound system was upbeat, but I looked on distrustfully at the other gym members, who gave me exaggerated berths with mirrored looks on their faces in return.

The rower I wanted was unavailable so I had to use a weird one with no screen. I'd planned to bench press afterwards but they were out of benches. I later saw a guy with two.

Basically gym in June feels like grocery shopping in March.

My MyFitnessPal Pal

image 2071 from bradism.com

I use an app called MyFitnessPal to track what I eat. For dietary purposes, plus I like numbers and it's helpful for tracking how old some of the curries in my freezer are.

The app has a comprehensive, crowd-sourced database of foods and their nutritional information. For common stuff it's very accurate, but for more obscure brands and foods you're relying on the competency of strangers to have filled in the details.

Thus it was tonight when I scanned the barcode on a packet of imported Italian linguine we received in a gift basket, in the hopes I wouldn't need to type the carbohydrates, protein and fats in myself. The result:

image 2072 from bradism.com

At first I assumed the barcode had matched some common Japanese snack food, but after comparing the macros I realised that 1 three-legged-man-with-hat matched exactly the 100g stats of my pasta packet, and that meant somebody in Japan had at some point scanned and eaten the exact same linguine I was about to. Perhaps they too had bought a house and received it as a settlement gift from their Japanese real estate agent.

Even though I have no idea who this person was, this experience really drove home how similar we humans are despite our differences. And I felt a deep connection across the vast distance that separates us. I know they are a Japanese Brad, with their own Bradisms, they like numbers and they maybe also ate a delicious 59 day old Rogan Josh for lunch today.

Autumn 2020

My Autumn 2020 daily video compilation was almost #CancelledByCovid back in March. The videos I'd been expecting to make - nights out at the Fringe Festival, trips to the pub, the first footy game of the season, the city's transition from shorts and thongs into puffy jackets and scarves - all suddenly seemed very far away.

But as I kept filming I realised what I was recording was snapshots of my life as my society adjusted to a pandemic. The Autumn video was always going to be the season that showed the most dramatic of changes. What I ended up capturing would be a historic record of the transition to a new way of living. Which, in Adelaide, was kind of anti-climatic and the new normal turned out to be a lot of videos of trees.

The Concepts of Time

image 2073 from bradism.com
Live life like there's no tomorrow. If you don't succeed, there is always tomorrow.

Each payday brings me a fortnight closer to death.

On the bright side, there's only twelve more Tuesdays until spring.

Frosty

image 2074 from bradism.com
Seems the local graffiti artist shares my opinion about our fourth consecutive morning of less than 2 degrees temperatures.

No Jokes - Climate Change is Real

Cultural Evolution

Over the millennia, evolution has seen us progress from single celled organisms to highly intelligent creatures who know exactly the right ratio of ice, fruit, yogurt and protein powder to put into a blender for a delicious breakfast.

And yet - in what could almost seem to be an insult to all those fittest who survived - I can never resist licking the leftover yogurt from the lid of the yogurt tub despite cutting my tongue on the sharp plastic edge every single time.

You’d think the lesson I’d learn would be obvious. But what I’ve noticed lately is that, instead of stopping, I’ve adapted to use the exact right speed and force when licking the lid, resulting in all the yogurt and none of the cut tongue.

image 2075 from bradism.com

So, another win in the progress of evolution. Not such a good result for single celled organisms.

A Special Time With My Left Hand

There is no doubt that since 2008 I have had a favourite and a least favourite hand. Left has always been weaker, less outgoing, more annoying than right. I know you're not supposed to love one hand more than the other, but at times I resented left, and I think it knew it too.

Last weekend I went to the weights room at the gym for the first time in nearly three months and I may have overdone it trying to squeeze as much bench press, heavy carry and lat pull downs as possible into my allocated 45 minute window. A nagging pain in my right shoulder came on that night and it has persisted over the past ten days.

Unfortunately, you need to book your gym sessions a week in advance in these interesting times, and so I'd optimistically scheduled another weights visit for today hoping my right shoulder would be over it by then. I knew this morning it would need some more rest.

But! Maybe this was an opportunity instead of a curse. After all, left hand was still working. And it had been weak and shy for so long, perhaps some dedicated one on one time might be good for us. Like in a sitcom where two side characters get thrown into a plot together and find a common bond, perhaps I too could subvert some tropes with my left wrist for an efficient pump session on a cold Tuesday afternoon.

So we did one arm dumbbell bench press together, and single arm lateral raises together, and even planks while right hand could only watch on, hovering in the shadows. By the end of the 45 minutes I felt physically closer to left than I have in years. And right - the good sport - then proceeded to burn itself on the lid of a Creuset pot later in the evening like, yeah, that'll teach me to betray me. I'm sorry, right, but it's 2020. Sometimes men and their hands grow apart. At least until the next episode that is.

My Summer Solstice Winning Streak Comes to an End

image 2076 from bradism.com

I've been feeling rushed recently. Overwhelmed by urgency. There's so much I want to get done, but I can't seem to find the time to do it all. Maybe that's because my work day now starts the second I enable the WiFi on my phone. Or because back-to-back Zoom meetings deprive me of the brief walks and breaks I used to get between meetings. It could also be related to the 45 minute gym session limits, or 16 minute castle times. Or maybe it's because I decided greedily to borrow two library books for the same month and the due date is coming up fast.

Or maybe it's just that the days are really short.

Wintry, 2020

This week has been so cold and miserable that I bought a turnip to eat just to cheer myself up.

Page 1, Col 1, Line 1

Some days I feel like I'm not worthy enough to have impostor syndrome.

The Last One To Leave

image 2077 from bradism.com

In a way, when the last leaf falls it will be a good thing. After that the countdown starts.

Like each extra minute each day post-solstice, every bumble-bee in the grass, bud on a tree, twig in a beak, Port Power loss, the war of attrition with winter can be won.

When Life Gives You Lemons

They sell lemons at the supermarket for about a dollar each, and sometimes three for two dollars.
I bought a house earlier this year which cost a lot more than a dollar, and it came with a lemon tree that has produced a shitload of lemons. And based on my year 10 understandings of botany it will do this every year? Which means...

Sadly, a shitload of lemons are only better than a handful of lemons for the purposes of: being given to your friends; improving your relationship with your neighbours; and leaving in a bag on the kitchen counter in the office with a post-it saying “Help Yourself :)”

A lemon tree overhanging a fence.

And this isn't even my lemon tree, they're the bonus lemons from my neighbour leaning over the fence to introduce themselves.


And there has been a pandemic this whole citrus season. I’ve left lemons on the kitchen counter while working from home several times but rarely have they disappeared or transmogrified into a three-quarter-eaten cake that I exercise my willpower to ignore while eating almonds

And then, back in April, two people in head-to-toe orange hazmat suits told me that there’s also a fruit fly pandemic in my suburb. The government advised I couldn’t even distribute lemons to my friends who lived more than a fruit fly’s flying distance away. Like me, the lemons needed to #JustStayHome.

Life had given me - metaphorically and literally - lemons. And obviously nothing could prepare you for a situation like this. So I asked the internet what to do, and it came up with some - actually, quite a lot of - suggestions which I’ve been roadtesting recently, and will now share for the benefit of all my readers.

An assortment of lemons on the official Bradism Raised Cutting Board for Tall People

An assortment of lemons on the official Bradism Raised Cutting Board for Tall People


It turns out lemons are good for a lot of things beyond eating raw like a juicy, slightly pointy mandarin, or adding to gin. You can turn milk into buttermilk, create fire-starters with rind, write invisible messages. But the main uses of lemons that I’ve ascertained from multiple articles are in the domain of cleaning and insect control. In fact, after reading about all the different chemicals, de-scalers and deodorizers that can be replaced with lemon juice I have had to ask myself, truly, are lemons even safe to eat?

Cleaning the Microwave

The first trick I tried was to “clean my microwave without any scrubbing.” This was, incidentally, the same method I’d been using to clean my microwave since I bought it in 2008. But this time it was intentional.
The method is to slice up a lemon, place the slices into a bowl of water, and microwave the lemon water on high for ten minutes. The diluted juice-steam will cover all the interior surfaces of the microwave, allowing built up stains and oils to easily be wiped away with a cloth or paper towel.
And that’s what I did. And there was indeed sour-smelling condensation on the walls and roof of my microwave. After wiping them off the microwave was clean of all that built up lemon smell and lemon rind.
Sadly I do not have a second microwave to use for a control group, but I’m not convinced I couldn't have achieved the same result by steaming a bowl of plain water for the same amount of time.

Cleaning the Kitchen Sink

I turned my eye to the kitchen sink, where I could experiment at least by cleaning half the stainless steel with a lemon and the other half with just a sponge.
A dirty portion of a kitchen sink.

Before cleaning with lemon.


Obviously I prepared the sink in advance to be dirty so I could test out the efficacy of the lemon.
I cut the lemon in half, used the juicy part like a sponge and the rindy part like a scourer, and cleaned the cleaning rack part of the sink.
Compared to just a sponge, it resulted in shinier metal.
A clean portion of a kitchen sink.

After cleaning with lemon.


This might be a life hack?

Cleaning a Frying Pan

I’ve had this Circulon Frying Pan since 2009, and while I definitely wash it after every use it’s safe to say there is a fair layer of seasoning between what gets cooked these days and what came out of the factory.

I took the same approach on the corrugated surface of the pan as I did with the sink.

A slightly-stained frying pan.

I’m not sure if this is a before or after pic, which should tell you everything you need to know about the results.

Probably for the best, as I’m pretty sure that the echoes of a decade of stir fries, chilis and Moroccan lambs only adds to flavour of the things I cook today.
I’m considering making a lemon chicken tomorrow.

Clean a Cutting Board

I cut myself a fresh lemon on our little cutting board, then decided I would see if the lemon-sponge approach would work here too.
Lemons are apparently good for cleaning a wooden cutting board, but I didn’t have a dirty one of those.
After a bit of elbow-work on one side, I rubbed both sides down with an Oates scourer.
a small cutting board cleaned by a lemon half.
A small cutting board cleaned by a sponge alone. It's slightly less clean than the lemon side.

The lemon side did have the built up stains stripped a bit more effectively.
Ultimately I think you could clean the entire stain off a cutting board with lemons, but you’d need a shitload of them.

Inspire Journal Entries

/journals/journal/2060

The Inevitable Return of the Great Striped Polo

What the fuck is this?

image 2086 from bradism.com

What the heck is this?

image 2087 from bradism.com

What the...

Insert picture of iron and ironing board, KeepCup, a pair of pants that don't have a drawstring, a building access card...

Hmm, looks like this journal entry is about as anti-climatic as my first day in the office in the best worst part of a year.

My regular coffee guy forgot my name. I guess it has been four months of 5G waves dissolving his mind...

Coffee was better than Nespresso Pods though.

The Thing I Missed Most About The Office

Is that feeling you get at the end of the day when you leave the office.

Winter Mixtape 2020

image 2089 from bradism.com

The first hints of blossom have featured among the fog on my morning walks this week, meaning that it's shit or get off the pot time for my Winter 2020 mixtape. I started compiling this in late May when cold nights were becoming cold days, and despite the fact that winter has crept along glacially it's somehow now nearly September, and only seven weeks until daylight savings begins.
2020 has not been a good year for the concept of time...

The tunes in this track-list remind me of the experiences of the past few months, which have been pretty limited in variety but nonetheless they've been heard during some joyful moments. Like through headphones while observing the plants and winter flowers - jonquils, bird of paradise, irises - popping up around the neighborhood. Playing through the Bluetooth speaker in the home gym. On the radio, driving home for date night with the aroma of Afghani takeaway filling the car. Brightening the occasional sunny day that always seemed to fall on a Friday.

1. Bronson feat. Lau.Ra - Heart Attack
2. Mild Mins - SWIM (ford. Remix)
3. Crooked Colours - I C Light
4. Glass Animals - Heat Waves
5. The Polish Ambassador feat Pharroh - All I Need
6. Alfie Templeman - Things I Thought Were Mine
7. Dagny - Somebody
8. Transviolet - Long Shot (Mount Pleasant remix)
9. The Naked and Famous - Sunseeker
10. The Chemical Brothers - We've Got To Try
11. The Smith Street Band - I Still Dream About You
12. Yoste - You Can't Fix Me
13. Bombay Bicycle Club - I Can Hardly Speak
14. Mating Ritual feat Lizzy Land - An Honest Mistake

Normal Annual Service

The car was due for its annual service, it's first in the COVID19 world.

The mechanic sent me messages before and after I booked it in assuring me that they had "implemented numerous steps to continuously provide a safe and healthy environment ... such as express servicing and cabin sanitisation." I even got that same message while they were servicing it.

There had been free hand sanitizer in the office when I dropped it off, but other than that everything seemed like the old normal. When I collected the keys in the afternoon one of the service staff walked me to the car while again reassuring me that everything had been cleaned, wiped and decontaminated. He wasn't wearing gloves or a mask. Then, in a final gesture of customer service, he offered to pull the car out of the parking bay for me and before I could stop him his hands had touched the gearstick, the steering wheel and both inside and the outside door handle.
I felt very reassured. I guess only the workshop mechanics were the ones I needed protecting from. I also didn't have the heart to tell him that I'd needed to catch the bus to get back there anyway, so the dice were already rolled for the 18th of August.

image 2091 from bradism.com

Earlier in the morning instead of the bus I'd been given a ride into town and I spontaneously asked the guy driving me to drop me off near my old house in North Adelaide. (His peak hour driving skills may have contributed to this spontaneity). I decided I would take this opportunity to retrace my old daily commute to work from previous strolls to the office in 2009. This was a very normal thing for a person to do, I thought.

Along the way I listened on shuffle to a playlist of songs which reminded me of 2009 I happened to already have prepared. That's a normal thing too I'm pretty sure.

After the soundtracked walk was over I reflected about it on this web journal I've been maintaining for the past twenty years, which may be on the line between normal and narcissistic.

In 2031 if I repeat the same walk while listening to a mashup of songs from 2009 and 2020, featuring a spoken word acapella of this journal entry, I'll know for sure if that boundary has been crossed.

Maturity

36.

It's the the point in middle age where I stop making Your Mum jokes, due to the risk of silencing the room.

I can barely do three strict pull-ups in a row, but that's better than this time last year.

I've drunk my first tall glass of Metamucil, though that was to balance a long weekend of binging and board games.

I spent my birthday afternoon in the sunshine at a brewery, reading Agatha Christie and drinking an IPA flavoured like a breakfast cereal.

image 2090 from bradism.com

What We did on our Barossa Holiday

After months of not travelling to somewhere warm over winter I decided we really needed to leave the house for a few days, and once Nash had somewhere warm and distant to sleep Vanessa and I went to the Barossa for 48 hours of intense relaxation.

Neither of us are into wine, but one of my two criteria when finding somewhere to visit was that it had a fireplace. And that's what I found in a cottage in Tanunda. Ironically we were lucky that our first day was a perfect spring preview of 25 and sunny, before freezing showers and cloudy skies gave me all the excuse I needed to pile logs onto a roaring fire.

August 29

image 2093 from bradism.com

Our trip started in Kapunda, to kick off our holiday with a visit to a country bakery for a country Cornish pastie, and to watch the locals with their big buckled belts and cowboy hats also enjoy Cornish pasties.

The Kapunda bakery eclair was also generously proportioned.

image 2094 from bradism.com

Next stop was Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park, one of the only places in the Barossa you can go for a decent walk without dealing with the monotony of grapevines and no sidewalks. The paths in the park weren't particularly friendly after a week of rain and little sun. While skimming puddles I did land on my arse, but it was sunny and there were lots of birds, so I didn't mind too much.
image 2095 from bradism.com

We checked into our accommodation, then walked up the Tanunda main street, drank a coffee in the sun and shared a muffin. Dinner was two generous serves of Malaysian food. We watched a Polish movie and went to bed.

August 30

image 2096 from bradism.com

Day two we got out for a walk before the rain started, visiting the Historic Goat Square (a sign we couldn't help but follow, unlike the sign for Historic German Farming Museum) and I ate an egg muffin with a hashbrown inside it. As photographed here by my phone's "Food Mode".
image 2097 from bradism.com

The rain and wind chased us home, so we settled in for one of our favourite cottage pastimes - Rummy King. I had planned to spend some time at a local brewery, but after visiting and considering the proximity of their wood fire versus ours, I bought a six pack for sampling and brought it to the cottage instead. We lit the fire and I finished my book while drinking a stout in the toasty warmth. Holiday feelings accomplished.
image 2098 from bradism.com

image 2099 from bradism.com

Shortly before sunset the rain stopped and I wandered up the Heysen Trail a little way so that I could go for a decent walk adjacent to the monotony of grapevines.
image 2100 from bradism.com

image 2101 from bradism.com

August 31
On our final morning we woke early to visit the Barossa Sculpture Park, mainly for the cloudy view of the surrounding plains from Mengler's Hill. No offense to the sculptors. The eagle head was my favourite.

image 2102 from bradism.com

Although I have a soft sport for Poort.
image 2103 from bradism.com

We drove back into town for our final meal, delicious porridge and pancakes that Vanessa and I both had halves of.
image 2104 from bradism.com

Finally it was time to meet the second criteria for my next holiday - Mini Golf with Dinosaurs at Barossa Bowland. It was a high quality course, well maintained with challenging holes and featuring dinosaurs. My ten year old self would have loved this place, and I would have beaten him easily at mini golf.
image 2105 from bradism.com

Once the mini golf was over we spent our last dollars on the basketball game juniour, where our holiday ended perfectly with equal scores after three rounds.
image 2106 from bradism.com

Cold, Sneezy, Hot

The first day of not-winter started the same way as the first day of winter - mango and banana smoothie.

Later, when riding my bicycle, I saw some ducklings - my first of the year. The duck parents' reaction to me riding towards them was the opposite of how I felt.

White Men Can Hop

I visited Brewboys Brewery this afternoon for a last day of holiday beer. I brought my latest library checkout, which I had to borrow for obvious reasons.

image 2107 from bradism.com

I made it through two pints and about 60 pages. Unfortunately I feel like I'm still waiting for the hook.

Little Things

image 2108 from bradism.com

I shaved today, my first clean chin as a 36 year old, in preparation for what's not coincidentally my first day in the office as a 36 year old tomorrow. This morning I also mowed the lawn for the first time as a 36 year old. Both jobs turned out about as good as each other. The edges need work.

I hit my first three pointer as a 36 year old a couple of weeks ago. Priorities.

Vanessa and I went for a springtime bike ride through the industrial areas of north-west Adelaide today, along with nicer places like the beach, and we inserted a burger on the grass in the middle of twenty-seven kilometres. That was nice.

Speaking of 36, I noticed on the back of our 36 pack of toilet paper that the advertised benefits of this particular brand of coronavirus preventative included the registered trademark "CleanRipple".

image 2109 from bradism.com

I stared at this and I wondered if this was just marketing spin or if Kleenex had actually spent money on R&D to come up with this technology. That would make for one hell of a patent application to read, or - as I'm more likely to be found doing these days - skim through and pay attention only to the diagrams.

Without my stubble and lawn, I don't feel 36.

Transplanted

There are a lot of dark times in your average Adelaide winter, and though 2020 wasn't your average winter, it certainly contained its fair share.

But as tends to happen mid-September it feels like one day you wake up and find yourself in a garden full of flowers. For my tulips, literally.

image 2110 from bradism.com

As the sun rises earlier and earlier in the morning I forced myself out of bed before the end of the golden hour so I could capture a few photos of spring in my garden, as a baseline to tell me how good or bad I got at maintaining this through whatever shit is brought to the world by the next 12 months.

A birch tree branch with early blooms.

The birch waking up slowly.

A bird of paradise flower with a strawberry patch in the background.

A bird of paradise waiting for the strawberries to turn red so it can get trapped under the bird netting.

A hairy dog but on wet grass next to a purple-flowered dutch iris.

Nash inspecting a dutch iris.

Early stage mulberries.

Mulberries to be.

Weeping mulberry tree with the first signs of leaf growth.

A sea of leaves on my lawn, at conception.

And if isn't my old mate peeking through the sprouting canopy.

And, we've reached this point...

image 2116 from bradism.com

Refusal Of The Call

We took Nash to the vet today, which was close to our old house. Due to COVID19 restrictions only one of us was allowed to accompany her, so I spent the appointment time walking around the old streets of Woodville West under equinox-appropriate 18% grey skies.

Along with observing the differences in front gardens between my old suburb and my new one, the walk around the blocks brought back many memories of me trying to be a successful writer. Because, I often walked the same footpaths while listening to podcasts about writing and getting published, and it occurred to me that Woodville West was the physical location where I had a dream of being a writer, and where I had left that dream.

The progress I made from Dale stories and unfinished novel outlines, to three completed manuscripts, multiple short story publications and three figure cheques all happened in Woodville West, and since moving I've barely put pen to paper. There's many reasons which have contributed to my demotivation - my non-writing career, rejection fatigue, Twitter, other things I'd rather not mention - and I realised on my stroll how much I have missed, well, not "writing" so much as having a fun, weird, entertaining story to tell. And how trying too hard to be a successful writer had taken the fun out of my characters and my stories.

So this entry is to stand as either a sign of re-invigoration, or an echo of a vision. I did write an additional 233 words in my story about a robot who solves crimes. I tried to make it weirder and more fun.

Potentially called "Bradism"

I went for a walk along the beach last Sunday with Vanessa and the dog and it's incredible how many bad things have happened since then.

That said, I did decide to watch a Netflix documentary about coaching, featuring Doc Rivers, as it appeared on my TV on the same day Doc was fired from the Clippers.

One of the things Doc mentioned in the episode was his rule of "Don't be a victim."

Many years ago on a walk home from work I was contemplating setting out my own philosophy/ideology - potentially called "Bradism". By the time I got home I decided that the easier approach would be to let other people come up with ideologies and I would simply adopt the one I found the most appropriate.

Since then I've stolen an technique from the Agile Methodology to adapt other people's successful philosophies and ideologies iteratively, in small chunks.

So I'm taking a "Don't be a Victim" approach to the current diagnoses and challenges life has thrown at me lately.

I mean, there are definitely victims, but the trick is to not be one.

Doc Rivers signed a 5 year coaching contract with Philadelphia in this same week that he was fired, so I guess that approach is working for him.

Actually, I've just realised that the philosophy of Bradism is to pick and choose facets of other ideologies as needed.

Sanctity

I've been thinking about death a bit lately. Well, thoughts about life more accurately. I opened with "death" because after two weeks and dozens of midges, my trap finally caught one.

image 2117 from bradism.com

The odds that our reality is a simulation is quite high. Why? Because, consider the amount of possible universes that contain life, and in which that life achieves the ability to create a simulation so realistic that the inhabitants of the simulation aren't able to tell they're in a simulation. Probably not many, relatively.
Then think, if some life did make it far enough into an Agile project to deliver one simulation there's nothing much stopping them from creating infinite other simulations using the same software and hardware. Or even cloud technologies.

And also, sometimes I think things before they happen. Plus 2020.

The compelling thing about living in a simulation is that it brings the afterlife and the concept of cosmic judgement for life's deeds back into the picture. What if, after death, our simulated souls are weighed on the scales of good and evil? It makes me feel bad about all the times I put truss tomatoes through the self-checkouts as gourmet tomatoes.

Then I thought, if that's the thing I feel the most guilty about, I'm probably doing okay.

I hope there's no commandment about the sanctity of midges. Or moths for that matter.

Almonds are Calorie Negative, prove me wrong

image 2120 from bradism.com
When I was a young man, still learning the difference between a magazine article and an advertisement, I discovered that almonds were a "superfood". These hard, brown lumps are rich in monounsaturated fats and contain high amounts of vitamin E and the amino acid arginine. Almonds are also a source of potassium, magnesium and zinc.

Greatly interested in improving my health, I bought a kilogram packet of raw almonds and - given the packaging was about the same as a packet of potato crisps - began consuming them in similarly sized handfuls. What I didn’t realise was that - along with protein, healthy fats and antioxidants - a kilogram of almonds contains nearly 6,000 calories.

In the following years I adjusted my intake of almonds down to a small handful - 30-50g a day. Eating them became a habit, and most weeks since 2006 I would say I've eaten almonds at least five times a week. In that same time period I have maintained low body fat and a healthy physique, which confused me in some ways because I also drank a lot of beer, ate whole family sized pizzas on weekends, considered a bowl of Weet Bix, yogurt and banana as a "snack", and, you know, other lifestyle choices. I always suspected that my consumption of almonds was doing something inside my body to keep me healthy.

There came a point this year where I decided I needed to gain some weight. I calculated my base metabolism, nutritional needs and set a calorie goal that made me nervous. In order to achieve those lofty numbers I made several changes, including incrementing my almond consumption to 50-60g a day. But as the weeks went on I did not see any increase in body mass. And it was at that point I came across an article in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition which essentially said that a large percentage of the energy in almonds (and in fact most nuts) was not absorbed by the body.

Understand: A calorie is "the amount of heat energy needed to raise the temperature of one gram of water by one degree Celsius". Food labeling uses the Atwater system.

The above study, if you decided not to read it, proved that almond energy didn’t get absorbed because when they burned the study’s almond-eating participants' poop there was more fire (I’m a journaller, not a scientist, so don't attribute me on any of this).
The cellular structure of an almond is intense, compared to a slice of apple, a cup of milk, or a puff of donut. The human digestive system has to do so much work to break the almonds down into absorbable molecules that most of them don’t even make it into the body before the nut reaches the end of the ride. Roasting, slivering, or turning them into nut-butter obviously reduces this cellular intensity.

What’s more, the study found that eating raw almonds along with other foods contributed to a reduced caloric intake overall. That is, the more almonds you eat in your diet, the less calories you take in from other foods too.

For participants the discrepancy in almond calories absorbed compared to the Atwater system measure was a reduction by 33% up to 66%! Calories from other foods were reduced by on average 5%.

However, 66% less calories is not the same as calorie negative. That’s true. I can explain further...

The concept of calorie negative foods typically intends to describe foods that are so low in energy that the body uses more energy chewing and digesting the food than it gets in energy from the food. For example: celery. A kilogram of celery contains only 140 calories. It’s high in fibre, and takes a decent amount of munching. Unfortunately for the calorie negative argument, it doesn’t take 140 calories of energy to eat through a kilogram of celery. The body burns different amounts of energy depending on the type of food it’s digesting. For proteins it’s as high as 30% of the total energy content. For fats it’s and carbs it’s closer to none.
Celery is high in water, and mostly carbs, so unlike a raw almond the cells don’t put up much resistance on the way down. The same applies to other "calorie negative" foods like watermelon, strawberries and cucumbers. They’re healthy, but even if you include the effort to pick them up, chop them, lift them to your mouth and carry the bowl back to the dishwasher you’re still not going to burn more energy than you consume.

An almond is not high in water or carbs. It does not break down easily inside your guts. I experienced a stark demonstration of this fact on my return to the office recently after a six month shutdown. It seemed that at some point prior to Coronavirus breaching Australian borders I’d dropped one of my morning almonds behind my desk. Despite the office being "deep cleaned regularly" as part of a "safe return to work program" the almond on the floor had never been vacuumed up and, as you can see, a newly formed city-state of bacteria barely made a dent in it over half a year. Imagine how little your digestive system is going to achieve over just 30 hours.

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A roasted or slivered almond, or a gram of nut butter on the carpet might have resulted in a different picture. And now you know my secret to making almonds a calorie negative treat - swallow them whole.

Breakfast Fast

Almost every morning I crack two trays of ice into a smoothie jug, lovingly cascade creamy milk over the crystalised cubes, scoop some protein powder on top, along with extra flavour like cinnamon, cocoa or desiccated coconut, then add a banana and something from the repertoire of mango, strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, blackberries or grapes. I put some tunes on. I pour another 200g of low fat, vanilla yogurt on top of everything and then blend for thirty seconds on “crush” followed by another little while on “pulse” and finally three to five minutes on “blend” - with a break at some point to pour excess fluid into the first of three large cups, as the two litre jug is not tall enough to handle the total volume of a blended Brad breakfast. I then proceed to drink this concoction through the thinnest of straws available, occasionally choosing to scoop it with the tiny spoon on the end of the straw while I read the news, or watch TV.

The whole process, particularly in winter, can take from twenty, up to over forty minutes. COVID19 related working from home arrangements have not helped with this. That’s a considerable portion of my waking hours, all things considered. A very enjoyable portion, for sure.

I’ve been listening off and on to an audiobook that is essentially a short summary of tricks and tools that a bunch of rich and successful people attribute to their wealth and prosperity. It has provided some fascinating insights into what life could involve if I was loaded enough. Fasting, ice baths, psychedelic trips, holding your breath, fancy teas, hanging upside down, meditation and underwater deadlifts to name just a few of the “tools” that these powerhouses of technology, business and recreation believe gives them an edge in life. I’m not rich enough myself to dedicate fully to any of these approaches, but among them one consistent theme which comes up throughout this very long book is that many successful interviewees have a very quick breakfast, or skip it entirely.

As a man with fifteen pages of journal entries tagged “breakfast” I found this concept particularly confronting. But what is 2020 other than a chance for everybody to subvert their own tropes? So I decided to set myself a goal of one work week where I consumed a balanced breakfast as absolutely fucking quick as possible, to see how my life would change.

To justify this experiment I knew I’d need to approach it scientifically and part of that was recording before I started what I would do with the forty minutes I gained each day. I elected to split it: twenty minutes would go towards extra sleep, and twenty minutes would go towards dedicated personal development time.

According to my sleep tracker my average nightly shut-eye is six hours and forty-three minutes, and I figured this was a chance to see if a round seven would have any benefits to my health.

The personal development time would be spent on things I wanted to understand at a higher level for my career, like octagonal microservice architecture patterns, and OpenAPI modelling best practices.

After a long bike ride and big lunch on a sunny day last Sunday, I was able to have a reasonably early night and set my alarm for 6:40am - seven hours of sleep later.

On Monday morning I woke, dressed for work, and walked downstairs. Initially I’d wanted to replace my breakfast with a single protein/health bar that I could ideally eat on that walk downstairs. Something with 35 grams of protein, some carbs, no added sugar and a little bit of fat. Unfortunately I hadn’t been able to find anything suitable in the discount chemists or supermarkets of Adelaide. Perhaps I wasn’t rich enough yet to find the vegan protein breakfast bars that met these conditions and that had been mentioned in the book. So instead I ate a decent-sized banana, and a big scoop of protein powder in a shaker full of skim milk. I got through it all in less than three minutes. I didn’t even sit down. It was a little daunting to realise just how quickly you can insert 450 calories into your body, almost without even noticing.

And then an energy crept into me. I was done. I was ready for work and it was barely 7am. So Monday was a bit of a misfire, as I spent another ten minutes working out if I should ride my bike to the office straight away. (I wanted to save the personal development portion of the day for a time separate from breakfast). In the end I took the dog for a walk, then took off down the greenway. I arrived in town slightly before 8am and spent more time maneuvering my bike into the bike cage and getting the lock through the various bits than I did eating my breakfast.

I repeated this recipe for the remainder of the week, and I have to say, I have a newfound appreciation for the benefits of a quick breakfast. The energy I mentioned only grew and I can only assume it is due to going almost immediately from slumber to my daily tasks and goals. I don’t believe this energy is related to the extra sleep. In fact, I found that aspect to be the most challenging of the whole experiment. Because I am used to 6 hours and 40 minutes of sleep, each night I found it harder and harder to fall asleep, and thus my sleep time and eventual waking time crept forward each day. There are potentially health benefits to the extra sleep I was getting, but at the rate our planet twirls on its access they risk pushing me into my own sleep orbit which - despite COVID’s new work schedules flexibility - I don’t think I want to try.

Personal development wise I did learn things and it was nice to feel like I had twenty “bonus” minutes each day to focus purely on education and learning. Sure, I could dedicate twenty minutes a day to that anyway, but there was a vibe knowing I’d earned that twenty minutes by smashing a banana down my throat earlier that morning which made it easier to learn, and also I guess helped me commit to focusing, otherwise what was the sacrifice of a relaxed and delicious breakfast experience for?

I think I’ll keep doing this on work days until my brain adjusts and the energy dissipates. Who knows, maybe I’ll become rich and successful following this in just a few short weeks. Maybe then I’ll be interviewed, and you’ll find me inside the big book of tools.

Potash

Cold mornings post Spring equinox. The ugg boots and gym shorts combination has its charm, but tracksuit pants and bare feet disperses its own sweet set of endorphins.

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Both options come with own pros and cons when it comes time to pluck the red strawberries from the garden in your backyard.

23° and sunny. The wind carried on it the aroma of white roses.

...

Time to put the bird puppy netting up.

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Finally

In the early weeks of 2020 - when the first Covid cases were being detected in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth, and the mask shortages were reported, and the scientists said not to have any expectations on a vaccine or a cure - Australia faced a new and uncertain realty.

Australia is a big country, with a relativity small and dispersed population. The challenge posed by a global pandemic seemed too large for us to conquer. But in the face of this adversity we did not surrender meekly, nor panic (much), or bury our heads in the sand. The smartest people got together to make plans. We gave up on things we took for granted. We sacrificed. We distanced, isolated, persevered through a long autumn and even longer winter. Slowly yet surely we took steps to hold back the virus, to keep each other safe, to bring back normalities we thought we'd never be able to take for granted again.

And you know what? Ultimately we succeeded. We managed to run a records-book acceptable version of an AFL season concluding today with a grand final barbecue and table tennis.

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Well done Australia. Let history remember that when tidings of great significance came calling we stood up and achieved what was important.

Table tennis doubles being played in a dark driveway.

That said, table tennis at night was less than ideal.

2020

When I submit this entry it will be the 2020th one I’ve posted on bradism.com. Unless I am hit by a (let’s face it, extremely debilitating) case of writer’s block for the next two months it will also likely be the only time in my life the entry number and year are a snap.

In olden times I liked to use milestone entries to reflect on where I was a mile earlier, but given that the universe is treating 2020 as a chance to mix it up I figured I would use my 2020th entry as a snapshot of life in 2020 for me, Brad.

It’ll be something we can all look back on in the coming years and decades to remember what my specific life was like.

Starting with the most important thing...

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This is my Fridge in 2020. I’ve had this fridge for about five years after I got taken by a commercial saying it used different coloured LEDs to keep fruit and vegetables fresher, longer. (Note - actually seems to work). Here it is in our kitchen. Featured magnets are mainly of Nash and calendars from the vet which Vanessa wants to keep for some reason.

There’s also a photo of me, my brother and my Dad on the day we carried this fridge up two flights of stairs in my old house. I got that photo turned into a magnet for all of us. A “fridge fridge magnet” if you will. I could turn this photo into a magnet and that would be a “fridge fridge magnet fridge magnet.” Well, that’s Christmas sorted.

image 2129 from bradism.com

I’ve only taken a couple of photos of the inside of my fridge over the years, and in hindsight it’s something I wish I’d done more because it’s fascinating to reminisce and reflect on how your diet changes over time.

Well, if you’re the kind of person with 6% of 2019 entries that are tagged “Breakfast” you will find this fascinating.

The 2020 fridge census is extremely Vanessa & Bradism. Bulk meals, including one pre-bagged for transportation to work to minimise backpack leaks. Low fat, low sugar yogurt (for breakfasts). A kilogram of hummus. A shitload of protein bars. And some very fresh looking fruits and vegetables.

Okay, this was really the most important thing...

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My 2020 couch. It has motorised recliners and headrests. And that's Nash, looking particularly unstressed by the events of this year.

Fun fact: this photo completely confused Lightroom's new auto-geometry feature.

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This is Vanessa in 2020, with a giant coffee. Yes, that is a protein bar she’s eating.

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This is my house in 2020. The roses are in bloom right now. I don't want to add anything else incase I dox myself.

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This is my car in 2020. It’s a comfortable drive, with nice quality of life features, and it was relatively affordable.

It’s a very Brad car: bigger than average, but does its best to blend in. Here it is at the lookout above the Barossa Sculpture Park on a crisp winter morning in 2020.

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This is the backyard in spring 2020. The mulberry tree is fruiting and somewhere in there the slugs are eating the strawberries before Nash can get to them.

I recently paid for the water feature to get fixed and that bubbles all day which is very pleasant.

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My bike and my backpack, 2020. These are ranked number 1 and 2 on the list of “my things most likely to topple over after I put them down”. This picture illustrates the only way to guarantee they'll both stay upright - lean them into each other, like when you tape a buttered piece of toast to the back of a cat.

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My office view, 2020. Also featuring my office view from 2014. On my desk is my coffee cup from 2019, and my coffee cup from 2006.

If you take a step back from where this picture was taken you’ll crunch a very, very mouldy almond.

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My home office view, which I spent an unexpected amount of time at in 2020. It’s kind of crazy how I sit in the same seat during the day making “important business decisions” involving people's time and an organisation's money, and then at night get beaten by teenagers at Age of Empires II or write journal entries like this one.

Lots of classic callbacks here on the 2020 desk, including my HD 515s, Uniball 207s and my 2019 coffee cup from above photo.

A Buzz

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It felt good.

It was right before dinner time. Bare feet on the grass, warm air, smelling the scent of jasmine. Under blue skies the mulberry tree towered over us like a giant.

There is definitely a sense of content that comes from existing in a backyard, hunting through the leaves and limbs to find a dark, red treat and slipping it straight into your mouth.

That's how the mosquitos feel too.

My Social Dilemma

I watched The Social Dilemma documentary tonight because I saw a few people on Facebook recommending it.

Actually that's not true. I heard about it in conversations between other people that I eavesdropped on, not Facebook. I'm not sure exactly how Facebook calculates what to recommend me, but I can tell Zuckerberg right now that McDonalds, KFC, and endless photos of my friends' babies are not it, and that's probably the main reason I close the page ten seconds after I open it.

The primary thought I had about the documentary, aside from how goofy the drama and technological explanations were, was that social media is probably bad. Of course, humanity is always doing things that are bad for it, and who am I to tell any one individual that they're wrong for doing anything with our pointless lives if what they're doing doesn't affect me.

I mean, I do have worries about the environment, and supply chains, and also some major concerns about the quality of aged care I will receive from the children of today's current children who are being raised by YouTube and TikTok. But hopefully in an ironic twist of fate it will be artificially intelligent robots giving me my daily sugar-free custard, their algorithms telling them that the longer they keep me from developing dementia and bedsores, the longer I will be able to earn fake coins to cover my extended living micro-transactions.

I think the two secrets to keeping your life pure from the evils of social media is to understand how cookies work, and to exhibit tendencies of the introverted.

I've been using ad-blockers since they were invented, and I use incognito mode to search for everything online from shopping to restaurants, hikes, recipes and whatever symptoms my dog is exhibiting. I use incognito map to get directions, in case Google learns that I want to find a barber within walking distance. If I'm going to a website that's outside of my stable of standard domains, incognito. That's on top of uBlock Origin on all my normal browsing.

This is the same as how I mute the television anytime a commercial is playing. On my phone I turn the notifications off for any app other than those related specifically to instant messaging. The flashing LED annoys me. I don't even get notifications for email. It's a great way to live.

I did use Twitter and Instagram for a while, but some part of me rejected them, I think because I felt a constant, subtle pressure that they wanted me to be part of a community. I like my phone, but usually when I pick it up it's because I want to be left alone.

Unless you count OzBargain as social media, in that case, perhaps I do have an addiction.

And those were my primary thoughts about the shocking revelations regarding the psychological manipulations of social media, and how it could lead to the downfall of our society as portrayed in The Social Dilemma.

My secondary thought was: I wonder how much I have to pay to take advantage of all this to become a famous author with my books.

The Things November 18th Would Bring

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As seen on the Official Bradism Raised Cutting Board for Tall People

Panic Frying

About 2.5 million minutes ago I was sitting on a coach in Salzburg waiting to commence the Sound of Music bus tour that would eventually take me to the small, tourist town of Mondsee on the banks of a lake by the same name.
It was a sunny day, and we wandered along cobbles from the Church of St Michael to the shore of the lake where a small kiosk was selling ice-creams, and I remember we didn’t buy one.
This was definitely the right decision. Not just because you could have poured about a litre of premium Bavarian beer for the price of a single ice cream, but because if there’s a prevailing memory of that day it wasn’t the food I ate, it was the sight of that sparkling lake under those magnificent mountains.

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We did snack on something in Mondsee, in the shade outside the monastery in front of something that was a fountain or a roundabout. What we ate was probably apples and nuts, but the fact that I don’t remember only helps to add weight to my theory that when you’re on holiday it’s not about what you ate, it’s about what you saw.

I mean, that said, I remember the ice cream I ate in a back alley in Munich's Old Town because I ordered it (badly) in German. I also recall the currywurst in a bun I ate for dinner that evening because I have tried multiple times to recreate that experience using Aldi sausages and Keen’s Curry Powder since (never successfully). That sausage sticks in my mind probably because it was the first thing I ate after about eight hours of touching down, making it through customs, taking the Zug to the city and checking into the hotel. And I remember the pork knuckle I ate up on the hill at Kloster Andechs. I also remember cooking some orange capsicums and kidney beans and German taco seasoning in the kitchenette of our hotel room overlooking the Alter Botanischer Garten. I even remember the ice creams we ate under the shade of the Französischer Dom on a super-hot 35 degree afternoon in Berlin.

But, the common theme connecting the European food and lakes I find easy to remember is not what I ate, but just that I took a photo or somehow commemorated the experience at around the same time. Really, this makes the panic buying of many of my fellow South Australian’s so much less justifiable. If I can only recall a handful of the things I put in my mouth during a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Bavaria then what does my diet during any period of life really matter? These significant moments of our existence will not be remembered by what we ate, but by what we experienced while eating. So what better time than a six day lockdown to improvise with the forgotten, unwanted or panic-bought-in-March items in the back of the pantry than now?

Be wary of pizzerias.

Be wary of pizzerias.


Tonight, with my favourite Afghan takeaway closed, I dug out a mix of herbs and spices I’d assembled months ago and marinated and skewered a chicken breast fillet I bought on Monday night when Vanessa had fortunately needed an ice-cream run. I barbecued it and we ate it with some old potatoes and half an onion I’d been saving just in case. It tasted great. I washed it down with some hard ginger beer cans that have been sitting in the fridge n-1 for as long as I can remember. A year from now I would have had no recollection of any of this, had I not written this journal entry and taken this photo:

I forgot the garlic.

I forgot the garlic.

What will tomorrow bring? In 2020, who knows? Hopefully my Coles delivery. If not, I’ll probably be making more lasting memories with a pasta cooked in the Italian sauce our real estate gave us when we bought the house, some tins of tuna, and the last third of a bottle of Shiraz that’s been sitting on our bench for two weeks now. After that it could get really interesting, culinarily and otherwise.

Masks

I've believed since the outset of this pandemic that wearing a mask on your face can protect you and others from infection.

This has been very easy to believe because up until last week I lived in a place where there'd been seven months without any community transmission, and we were all living life like that community behind the walls in The Walking Dead - untouchable.

Of course then there was community transmission and I had to put my money where my mouth was. Not literally. I put a mask there instead.

Like most of my novel purchasing decisions in adult life I turned to OzBargain to work out how to buy face masks without feeling like I was enabling shady organizations from profiteering off a pandemic (or feeling like I was paying too much).

I went to the supermarket today and I wore a mask. It was fine. Based on some of the terrible facial hair I have represented as a grown man, there was no way I could pretend wearing a mask was below me. I forgot I was wearing it after about five minutes. A child did point at me and gasp in the cereal aisle, but that was because I was tall.

When I consider my life statistics and compare historical supermarket visits to my hand sanitizer usage, I'm honestly surprised I hadn't considered doing this before.

Birds of a Feather

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It's no secret that Bird of Paradise's are one of my favourite flowers. I even have the t-shirt.

But I didn't know until this week that they added support for night mode.

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Through The Looking Glass

The first day Summer started the same way as the first day of spring - and the first day of winter - mango and banana smoothie.

Ironically, it was routine that I bemoaned at the start of 2020, where I recklessly vowed I would shirk predictability and venture out of my comfort zone again like days of old.
In my head I figured I would find a new comfort zone, probably in a different suburb and/or a new kitchenette. I would ride a bicycle. I even bought a new PC and monitor.

Covid came along and yet I still found a way to say yes to things that scared me. I even did away with breakfast smoothies for a few days there. Though not for long.

Today was a big day on that journey of change for (hopefully not just for) the sake of a journal entry.

My new monitor arrived. It's curved.

A Day With A Random Red Bow On it

A tip. If you want to go out in public right now, but still socially distance: visit the cinema. We went to see Fat Man tonight - a Christmas movie! - and had the entire theatre to ourselves.

In further yuletide news, we erected our tree last night, and after the movie we returned to the sparkle of a few lights strung up between its synthetic branches. Probably not enough lights to justify the seven feet of height, but the reflection against the glass doors gave off a sense of a cozy, festive glow.

It was at that point I heard a thump against the back window, something I dismissed as my imagination until like a horror movie a second thump came, and a third, louder. Stepping closer to the window I witnessed scarabs the size of fully-grown raspberry in a child's hand crashing into the window, shaking their brown and gold bodies back upright, and flying back into the glass again.

Christmas had arrived.

End Of Year Highlights

I delivered some end of year highlights today, and for a moment it felt like I'd wrapped the year up perfectly and didn't have a whole heap of documentation and handover to somehow cram into the next nine work days.

I also learned that my particular brand of subtle, dry office humour does not translate well to the Zoom Meeting medium, where most attendees are likely browsing something in another tab while listening passively in case their name comes up.

If you're on a Zoom Call right now while reading this: my new monitor is flawed.

High Pressure System

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The wind has been blustery all weekend. It tore the bird netting over my strawberries, brought leaves into my living room, and exfoliated my cheeks on the esplanade. The big branch from my neighbour's tree that started the weekend next to his house has now been relocated mysteriously into the shadows of a building a street over after his party Saturday night.

But the most notable effect of the powerful gusts that blasted through the streets and suburbs of Adelaide is the garbage which has been spread sometimes coming to rest on the roads and footpaths. But more often found literally spiraling in the breeze outside my window or windscreen.

This drifting, airborne garbage has felt symbolic of the state of my brain these same recent days. I'm not saying my thoughts have been rotten, stinky dross. I mean that in my head there is the byproduct that an incredibly complex system like a society or a brain is producing right now, and its struggling to be fully garbage collected. I suppose that's to be expected, with the amount of parallel processing and related objects in my mind.

A few things are good for it. Like bike rides by the river, seeing baby ducks, gigantic coffees with crushed up macadamia in the fluff - the aroma almost strong enough to override the disinfectant lathered on all the surrounding surfaces. That helps me feel like everything is going to be okay, and that those floating bits of garbage will settle down on the ground again soon, out of sight.

Timeline to Publication

I remember, vaguely, the first short story I ever wrote. I was eight years old, and it was the last day of school for the year. The class exercise was to write a tale to read out before we all went home for Christmas. My tale was about a magic tree that shrank a main character (named Brad) who then had to escape from an ants' nest. It was a thrilling couple of pages. Probably a little tropey. And it included a picture I drew.

As home time approached that afternoon the teacher called us one at a time to read our work. Each time my classmates finished I shot my hand up, craving to be the next to share my piece. Over and over this repeated until, finally, the bell rang and story time was over. My little tale was never shared with anyone.

This was the first in a long succession of literary rejections.

I was a voracious reader as a child thanks to my library card and my parent's enforced restriction of screen time. I continued to write for my own amusement throughout my adolescence and eventually when I started journaling my life at seventeen the occasional entry transcended reality completely and became a work of fiction. Inspired mainly by American sitcoms, my stories featured double entendres about bread or beards and publishing them online brought me joy, and the taste of popularity on INTERNET FORUMS.

A sample of the books I read in a two month period of 1997.

A sample of the books I read in a two month period of 1997.


During my IT degree I chose creative writing topics to fill my electives, and after graduation and a few months of office life drudgery I knew that sooner or later I would need to pivot. My strategy at 23 was to make up fictional stories about office life drudgery. In 2007 I decided to submit one for publication.

I received my first professional rejection from Wet Ink for a short story about a paper towel shortage in an office which was supposed to be a metaphor for the French revolution. Honestly, I was a little shocked. I'd kind of had a feeling that I would fall into success as a writer. I'd been encouraged specifically to submit by the editor of the magazine while in the crowd at the Salisbury Writer's Festival, and it was at this same festival I'd scored my side job writing music reviews for Rip It Up just by bothering the editor of that mag while he'd been on his smoke break.

As I continued reading the likes of Patchett, Coupland, Palahniuk and Gladwell the inspirations they gave me took my work in all sorts of directions and by my mid-twenties I'd written a whole portfolio of short stories and novellas. I persisted honing my craft, spending lunch breaks writing stories in the sunshine, joining discussion boards and writing communities online, plotting and editing piece after piece many which are extremely polished and were never published. I put a lot of effort and hours into this writing dream. I even paid money for state writer's memberships, online workshops and beta-swaps. I entered some short story competitions which I did not win.

I spent most of my writing energy between 2012 and 2016 working on novellas and novels. After not falling into success with novel submissions in much the same fashion as my short story career, It was suggested to me that I work on getting short works published in the multitude of magazines, anthologies and blogs that published authors. "Building a resume" was the advice. I took it to heart and from the start of 2017 I dedicated myself to this challenge. I found the lay of the land on ralan.com and after reading some of the listed publications I knew my goal was to be published in a qualified Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) magazine. These were the publication’s on ralan’s “Pro” listings, and the more I read and wrote, the more I wanted to put my name in those pages.

On October 15, 2020, nearly four years later, my story A Purpose for Stars was published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact magazine. This is something thousands of other people have done. It's also the proudest achievement of my writing career. While I feel like I have written better stories by my own standards, imagining, writing and publishing something that found a home in such a historic publication that has featured such prestigious authors is an achievement I will hopefully replicate, but I’ll never forget my first.

Roll over to see what's inside.

Roll over to see what's inside.


I’m writing this out because I thought it would be worth documenting the time it took from the day I first had the dream, to the day I held the print copy of my story in my hands. This is both for the benefit of my own reflection, and as a single example of the journey for any other aspiring authors to provide perspective.

While this summary details my first successful submission to the token, semi-pro and pro markets it should be understood that between January 2017 and June 2019 I was writing and editing stories for about twenty hours every single week. I have lost track of the number of rejections I received. Searching my email inbox for the phrase “unfortunately” is bittersweet.

Time-Stones along the way

  • April 2017 - I write my latest story Bung Fritz at the kitchen table one Saturday night applying everything I’ve learned on the above journey.
  • June 14, 2017 - After revising, reading to Vanessa, my writer’s group and sending to online beta readers I submit Bung Fritz to its first market: Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine.
  • June 20, 2017 - Received my first rejection for Bung Fritz.
  • October 23, 2017 - I start work on my latest story Wormholes and the Woman with the Fake Tan
  • November 20, 2017 - After three rejections, Bung Fritz is accepted by Breach Magazine after 6 days. My first acceptance.
  • December 14, 2017 - The December issue of Breach Magazine is released. I was paid $10 AUD. Time between first draft and publication: 244 days.
  • April 4, 2018 - Submit Wormholes and the Woman with the Fake Tan to Aurealis
  • June 2018 - Write first draft of A Purpose for Stars.
  • June 24, 2018 - Wormholes and the Woman with the Fake Tan is accepted by Aurealis after 82 days. My first acceptance in a “semi-pro” market.
  • July 3, 2018 - Receive my first rejection for A Purpose for Stars
  • July 7, 2018 - Receive my second rejection for A Purpose for Stars
  • August 13, 2018 - Wormholes is published in Aurealis Magazine. I was paid $146 AUD (2 cents/word). Time between first draft and publication: 295 days.
  • August 14, 2018 - Receive my third rejection for A Purpose for Stars
  • December 7, 2018 - A Purpose for Stars receives an honourable mention for an anthology competition - giving me some confidence - but is not published.
  • January 22, 2020 - A Purpose for Stars is accepted by Analog SF&F after 275 days.
  • June 30, 2020 - Receive proof and provide edits.
  • October 15, 2020 - A Purpose for Stars is published in the November/December issue of Analog SF&F. I was paid $428USD/$636AUD. (8 cents USD/word).
  • November 13, 2020 - My print copy of Analog SF&F is delivered and I confirmed that it’s true: I am a SFWA Market/Professional writer. Time between first draft and publication: 854 days.

Your journey my vary. The most important thing to remember: keep writing.

(This advice is also for aspiring writers plus me).

Summer Holiday Mode

After the hectic times leading up to my final office day it was unclear how easily I would be able to switch into vacation mode for the next three weeks before my next major life side-quest begins. On the same afternoon that the sight of the office carpet disappeared behind closing elevator doors I boarded a flight to Queensland to visit my mum, brother and my niece and nephew. Perhaps it was being surrounded by family, perhaps it was the humidity. I found myself regressing easily into the summer holidays of old. Like, really old.

Trampoline
Waterfights
Building a PC in a warm room
Hero Quest
Cricket and nap

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Smash Brothers
Pokémon cards
Going to the supermarket with mum
More naps
Excessive Weet Bix consumption

The Longest Day of 2020

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Merry Christmas Internet 2020

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It was nice to own a full size tree for most of a year.

Interference

The vacation mode that I slipped into so easily last week has not been found post Christmas. All I wanted to do with my extra time over the past days was edit some photos on my NAS, get cheesed in Age of Empires, and generally be able to connect to the internet without disconnects as frequent as a batsmen getting out in the cricket. Alas, after a week of working fine my Netgear A7000 USB Network Adapter that I had to spend $90 on after I decided not to spend $50 on a wifi-enabled motherboard for my new computer stopped connecting to my WIFI.

I dedicated a few hours to this last night, tweaking the 5Ghz channel and signal strength in my router, downgrading drivers, stopping unrelated services, trying the adapter in different USB ports (2.0 and 3.0) and trying it without the dock. I forced myself to go to bed last night frustrated and disconnected.

Waking this morning I decided that Netgear hardware must be the problem and sank another $44 dollars (and another Office Supply Store Amazon 5% price beat - sorry sales lady). The new hardware did give me a moment of joy as it detected and connected immediately to the 5Ghz network, however it too disconnected and suffered the same symptoms as the Netgear. Some gremlin - it seemed - has infected my home WIFI 5ghz network and it seemed all I would be doing with my free time today was solving that problem. I am, after all, an IT Professional and if it was working before then this should be something I could fix.

After hours of debugging, diagnostics, configuration changes and turning things off and on again I had myself a bricked PC (and still no internet). This was not the "easy" setup I'd expected when buying a pre-built PC. At some point (around 7pm) I had to concede that I had completely wasted one of my twenty-four days of summer holidays and had nothing to show for it. Well, nothing except a better understanding of wireless protocols, channels, channel widths and frequencies.
Oh and how to create a wireless networking status report in Windows 10 using netsh wlan show wlanreport
And the model of my motherboard, which I'm sure will be handy later.
Plus how to identify Unknown PCI devices in Device Manager and find the right drivers for them (the hard way and the Radeon automatic way).
And what disabling legacy USB and Legacy USB3 Support in my BIOS does (don't do it).
Then I learned how to find and check boot error codes during computer start up.
And that I do still have a PS/2 to USB adapter in my box of cables
And how to clear a CMOS to restore motherboard settings to factory defaults
And how to remove my graphics card from my new motherboard
And how to remove the battery from my new motherboard
And finally how to set the time in the BIOS of my new computer, and get it to boot to Windows again.

The networking still doesn't work.

So maybe this proves why I am an IT Professional. I can't solve my problem, but I'm good enough at learning lessons from computer things that I can afford whatever it will cost to pay someone to install a 25 metre ethernet cable down the side of my house and into my router.

2020 Feelings

I had a lot of feelings during 2020. Here are some of the more memorable ones:

Humidity

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The satisfaction from reading the end of a novella while savoring a delicious craft beer.

The echo of a wood-framed sofa hitting the pavement after a three-story drop.

The paranoia on public transport.

Finding my balance on a bicycle for the first time in twenty years.

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Pricklings from a COVID beard I didn’t need to grow.

Stretching of my stomach after completing another giant Vanessa dessert.

The smell of freshly manufactured olympic weight plates in an enclosed space.

Age of Empires 2 Ranked queue adrenaline.

That first sip of fresh coffee after weeks of closed cafes.

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The cold, winter air fighting to reach the fingers inside my pockets.

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The tickle at the back of the throat after stupidly eating raw almonds right before walking to the supermarket.

Tikka kebab, breast kebab and bolani.

The tension in the bladder during back to back to back Zoom meetings.

Saltiness of that first mouthful of lettuce, hummus and 4 bean mix after days without it.

One side of my body warmed by the fire.

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The grit from a layer of sweat and basketball court dust covering my palms, and the support around the ankles of the Kyrie sneakers, produced in Team USA colours for an Olympics that wouldn’t come.

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Itches of mosquito bites interrupting outdoor salad eating in the garden.

Hiss of gas and the charring of meat filling the air.

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Cheap hand sanitizer’s aroma and the stinging that it brings to the skin.

The ache in my shoulder as the sweat cooled.

The scent of Jasmine on early spring breezes.

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Shampooed dog fur on the inside of my calves while preparing dinner at the official Bradism Raised Cutting Board for Tall People.

The sweet taste of the mulberry that fell from the branch directly into my mouth.

The tingling of my blood, hoping nobody noticed me putting a face mask over my eyes like it was a sleep-mask on an aeroplane.

The heat of a northerly wind on my back, post-sunset strolls on the beach.

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Pulsations from the Compex as it stimulated my hamstrings

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Never-ending water trickling down the fountain.

Book Review - Dynasty by Tom Holland

In 2020 I managed to read 24 novels, 3 Novellas, 4 Anthologies and 2 Non-Fiction books. I'm happy with that effort in the age of ubiquitous, distracting, pocket-sized glass rectangles.

I thought I should put more effort into capturing my impressions and learnings from what I dedicate hours to reading, particularly non-fiction. Here is my summary of Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of the House of Caesar by Tom Holland (read by Mark Meadows).

Review

I picked up this audiobook hoping for a comprehensive, enlightening overview with regards to Ancient Rome. In hindsight this was an extremely optimistic expectation for a single book. Dynasty is not a history book as much as it is a history ride focusing specifically on Augustus Caesar and his descendants. Holland follows narrative themes rather than chronological ones, translates dialogue into sensational, modern English and rarely makes comments about his sources. Initially, as narrator Mark Meadows smoothly narrated the first few chapters I struggled to absorb the richness of detail and understand the important characters from the less important. This was made doubly difficult because ancient Romans had a habit of giving each other new names based on other's old names.

Eventually I settled into the cadence of the "story" and began to trust Holland to highlight and foreshadow the critical pieces of information, while letting tangents and bit-playing senators not make it into my long term memory. Holland's roots as a fiction writer give him good tools for telling this tale right. If I'd had a better background in ancient history this might have been a more engaging experience, but given the source material - the drama, politics, assassinations and conspiracies - I was happy to be washed over by the wave of information from Julius to Nero, and if I do decide to pursue any further my interest in Roman history this will prove to be a good anchoring point.

What did I learn?

Other than a lot of historical events, the thing that stood out most to me about life during the golden years of the Roman empire was how eerily similar life was then and now. Of course, we are all human beings, but I hadn't expected the level of sophistication and what I'd thought were 2020 issues to have been so prevalent in ancient Rome.

There were small things, like cults of personality, fake news, postponed Olympics, apartments with ground level retail, and plenty of graffitied memes. But there was also the push for trans rights, controversial property developments and literally "Making Rome Great Again."

My favourite modern day reference though, was when, under the weight of yet another political scandal Caesar dismissed the senate's concerns by saying that this would all be forgotten when the next inevitable scandal came up.

Highlight

With their wealth of religions and superstitions, the ancient Romans took symbolism very seriously. When, shortly after Nero had his own mother killed (one of many horrific deeds he spun as pious) a comet appeared. A sign known with much certainty to foretell the death and disaster, Nero's Imperial Advisor Seneca somehow managed to spin it as a sign of positivity, and that on top of his other achievements the Emperor had redeemed comets from their cosmic stigma.