Fragments of Me

After a hot weekend at the end of last month the skies went grey and Adelaide woke up on the day before Australia Day to nearly twelve inches of rain, as well as the Hottest 100 of 2000 being re-played on Double J. It struck me as quite a coincidence, because I remembered that on the day before Australia Day in 2001, when that Hottest 100 was played the first time, that Adelaide had also been drenched by a considerable downpour after a heatwave. I remember it distinctly because I hosted a “shindig” that night and I recall my school friends coming down the path to my front door while my uphill nextdoor neighbour feverishly attempted to clear a summer worth of Adelaide Hills leaves from his gutters before the storm hit. What I also found coincidental was that I recall that same Australia Day I was listening to Filter’s Take My Picture while lying on the couch, taking a break from the Age of Empires’ II Scenario Editor where it was slowly starting to dawn on me that I did not have the talent or patience to become the world’s greatest Age of Empires scenario designer. And - in the come down from an intense social experience the night before (and what Shindig wasn’t an intense social experience?) - I think subconsciously I was realising that I might not be the world’s greatest anything by the time I was done on this planet. But I repressed that then as I do now.
The coincidence, of course, is that while listening to the same Hottest 100 two decades later I had come back to playing the same video game after the same duration. Life is a series of concentric circles, so I’ve heard a lot recently anyway, and this just seemed to prove it at least at a single loop.

Anyway, of course I searched the internet to find out exactly how many inches of rain had fallen that day, and if the preceding temperature had been slightly cooler and was singular-statistical proof of global warming. And what I found was that January 25, 2001 was a mild 22 degrees and sunny. In fact, the whole week was. There’d been no storm. My neighbour wouldn’t have even bothered with his gutters.

I tried to debug my brain to work out how this misconception had occurred. From what I can determine, there was a heatwave where I hosted a shindig at the same time as a storm broke it. It was definitely a summer, but who knows what year it was. It’s probable that my neighbour was clearing his gutters, but maybe that was at a time that there wasn’t a shindig. He could have been playing the recorder, badly. A habit he picked up after he retired. Or maybe that was his kids that used to play the recorder, and I just made up a joke about him playing it to Alex. Maybe it wasn’t to Alex, but to one of my friends. Maybe it wasn’t that Filter song playing on the stereo when I was lying on the couch watching Brett Lee tear through the West Indies top order. Maybe I wasn’t introspective, maybe I was happy?

It’s an established fact that every time you access a memory in your brain it gets a little spiced up, a little derived (Drivdahl & Hyman, 2013). The brain evolved to remember stories, like “girl who walked off into that part of jungle never came back” and “eating little blue berries made Gog turn blue”. These are just general concepts tied to basic instincts, not self-actualisations, not fragments of our identities, our souls. I mean, you can make videos of everything you ever did, or write about your day and your feelings in a diary, but unless you’re autistic or own a lot of cloud storage space you’re never going to capture everything. You’ll always need to rely on your memories to guess at who you are, and were.

And today, as I listened to people speak about a recently dead man and who he was to them, I realised that if my memories of me are so pliable and fallible and misleading then imagine what other people’s memories of me must be like. Imagine if you asked Vivek, or the old neighbour with the recorder, or Brett Lee about what Brad had been like in January, 2001. They’d probably have some memories they could dig up, fill in the gaps creatively from other memories they owned and maybe even deliver a eulogy. But If I’m of the opinion I’d struggle to accurately eulogise myself then I doubt they would even come close to doing justice to who I really was.

Maybe this is why I started my online journal in (November) 2001, and it’s something I still update occasionally today. At least while I’m alive it gives me something of a reference to who I am and how I feel and at least what the weather was that day. That said, I’ve also re-read my old journals from twenty years ago and I honestly don’t think my sixteen year old musings and MSN Messenger highlights are how I want to live on after death.

This could all be considered quite sad and gloomy, but I think the fact our true past selves die almost nightly, and that post-mortem we live on as misguided reflections of reality in other people’s perspectives, is actually a great thing. The man who was honoured today did not have many friends, and those who did know him wouldn’t have had many nice things to say about him if he was alive. But in death, with no new memories being made, those speeches were like transformation exercises. An almost conscious decision to pick the parts of his life and influence they could agree with, twist them into nice stories for an audience, and then store those memories forever as the archetype for all future memories of him. When you die it will corrupt your memory in every mind you’ve known, but what survives the process will likely be the nice things you did (or didn’t) do, the funny and kind words you said (or didn’t say). That’s some way of living, at least until they remember you again later and edit those memories again...

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

Summer Playlist 2020

Music has always been my go to medium for time travel, but this year I've found another. Having been responsible for a garden all of the seasons of the year I can now read flora like a calendar. Blooming citrus flowers in December remind me of lemons in July. Juicy mulberries in October take me back of scooping buckets of leaves in May. Pulling up withered iris leaves in November brings the taste of hot coffee, reading in the winter sun and watching the first green shoots. Spring growth calls me back to summer dryness.
And this particular thing seems to run all seasons of the year at once, and I kind of think it is a wormhole:

Some weird plant with dead parts and living parts and sprouting parts and flowering parts.

I'd have to dig up the soil to be sure though.

The Summer 2020 playlist is - like the rest of 2020 - a bit slower than past summers. A little more reflective. Half the songs were vying to be the outro. Summer 2020 has been drives to the supermarket and hardware store. Early morning and late evening walks while the UV is low. Bashing out emails during short breaks between video meetings. Bluetooth speaker playing during home gym sessions, trying to balance the line between health and health... Drinking a beer while cooking a BBQ. Songs in my head during bike rides, as I don't listen to music on my bike.

A playlist for passing the summer until it's summer again.

Zooper Duper

It hasn't been the most social of summers.

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I have enjoyed using social media to trigger my friends with poorly cut zooper doopers.

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Hazy Shade of Summer

Thick grey clouds trapping the heat in the bricks close to the ground.
Strong southerly flapping flags and sending mister sprays and smoke from the firepit over my shoulders.
The steam from the ride stuck to my skin.
The threat of petricor in the breeze. The sky rifling through the colours of sunset. The taste of hops on my tongue.
Tonight this was an enjoyable haze.

4 Pun Mix

The problem with pandemics is that my regular tinned legume consumption can look to the average observer like I'm panic buying.

Daytime temperatures are still warm. I like trading an hour to escape into a salad and a book. After a morning of exceptions being thrown by proxy services and hamstring tendons I had been looking forward to disappearing into one of those giant bowls when I realised I'd eaten through all my four bean mix during the past heatwave and my collection of corn cans too. Depressed; I made a toasted ham and cheese sandwich with the leftover 40c banh mì I bought yesterday from the Vietnamese bakery.

Now this bun was tiny. A slice of tomato poked out both sides, but I figured I would roll with it. My strategy was to crush the bread as flat as possible and then ensconce it in aluminium foil before its execution in the sandwich press. This actually worked out incredibly well! At last, after almost a dozen slices of Colby, I satisfied the craving I've been having for proper ham, tomato, and melted cheese in bread.

I guess missing my salad did have a silver lining.


A constantly trickling water feature is one of my favourite relaxing energies in life, but the maintenance of such a simple object is a nightmare and perhaps a microcosm for home ownership itself.

Nature abhors a water feature; man was not supposed to control the elements in such frivolous displays of self indulgence. The consequences: Too much sunlight and the algae grows like crazy. Not enough sunlight and the irises die. Run the bubbler too much and all the water evaporates. Don't run the bubbler enough and mosquitoes propagate like sunlight-infused algae. Whatever you do, the pump filter needs to be opened up and cleaned every few days - an experience that will leave you wet, mosquito-bitten, algae-covered and minutely dehydrated.

I recently bought a new algaecide which directed me to apply 1ml per 38 litres of water. I didn't install this fountain. I had no idea what capacity it had. I considered that I could search the bigbox hardware website for similar water features and hopefully they would specify the volume, but before I even fired up my little pocket computer I realised I'd need to measure my pond first, to be sure I was looking at the same thing. And at that point it occurred to me that if I had the measurements of the pond then I could apply high school geometry and calculate the volume of water within it! I'd need to also calculate the volume of the three small pots submerged inside the water, combine these results, and deduct this from the main initial volume. I'd then need to divide by 1000 to convert from cubic centimetres to litres.

Solve for V

Solve for V

This could, I believe, be the first time I've applied mathematics from high school in my actual life. And so for me to truly be able to calculate the volume of a cylinder I knew I would need two things: my Texas Instruments 2002 Graphing Calculator, and tall can of Woodstock Bourbon and Cola.

While searching for the former I felt the urge to confirm that the correct formula for calculating the volume of a cylinder was indeed pi multiplied by the radius squared, multiplied by height. So I pulled out the calculator that my teachers told me I would never always have in my pocket and Googled it. Yep, I was right, and with a height of 12.86cm and a radius of 3.4cm the volume was indeed 440mls. Sadly, I also found a bevy of online cylinder volume calculators where I just plugged in my pond's dimensions of 85cm diameter and 8cm depth and got the result. So technically I didn't get to use high school mathematics, but I did get to use primary school maths to add together three lots of plant pot volumes (3x 4 litres) and deduct that from the pond's volume (105 litres) giving me a total pond volume of 93L. This means I will need 2.5ml of Algaecide to kill the algae in my pond (and 0.012mls to kill the algae in a can of Woodstock.).

Next time I won't even need to measure the pond I can just search for this entry.


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Tonight I went to a 60th birthday party at the zoo with canapes and birthday cake and I was served four different animals.