Rewriting the Unwritten

I live my life by a number of unwritten rules. One of them is to never eat or drink while walking or having a phone call. My rationale for this is that it's nearly impossible to enjoy the sensations of taste when your mind and body is preoccupied. Flavour is diminished, satisfaction is lost. You only get a finite number of meals if you want to stay lean and I intend to enjoy each one.

The perpetuity of mobile phones has kind of ruined this for me. There was a time that I didn't instinctively reach for my phone each time I sat down with a meal. This habit is so ingrained that if I don't resist it I find my meal or beverage has disappeared unnoticed and the opportunity to walk somewhere or listen to a conversation on a phone has been lost.

In 2022 I discovered walking with a coffee can actually be good. In fact, unless you walk while using your phone screen, it can actually be a more immersive experience that drinking a coffee sitting down. I was enlightened one sunny, winter morning when I ordered a takeaway coffee from a café on a main road (because it keeps the liquid warmer than a cup) and then felt awkward about drinking the coffee in the takeaway cup at the café. So I walked to find a park. But, given it was winter I had sips of the coffee as I walked the backstreets and I felt the sun on my face and I tasted the creamy, bitter goodness and I realised that this experience was a lot better than sitting outside the café scrolling on my phone.

Now it's summer and actually a bit too hot to be walking around drinking coffees. But I figured the same principles would apply to walking around with a beer, and so I packed one for after-dinner trip to the beach. It was extremely pleasant. So I guess my theme for January 2023 will be determining what other unwritten things I need to deal with.


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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.


Overpass

There's a new overpass that opened near my house and when I drove over it I noticed there were footpaths on both sides.


Tonight I went for a walk around sunset to see if there were any good photos to be taken from the new vantage points.


There are some nice views but most of the sights are obscured by a three metre fence with only tiny holes to see through.


I was going to walk back over the bridge on the other side but I decided that would be a walk I'd save for another sunset.

Hot Reality

Some of the fondest memories of my youth, university days, are long summers and warm nights sitting on a deck drinking with friends. Inane conversations would carry on into the wee hours. Occasionally there'd be a midnight barbecue. I've missed those times a lot. It doesn't seem impossible that those type of nights could still happen as a middle aged adult. It's just that they so rarely do.

Tonight was a chance: a warm night, outdoor seating, beers and friends. Topics of conversation included kid problems and divorce sadness. I didn't get drunk because I needed to drive, as well as keep my immune system in shape due to pandemics. My lower back ached the whole time.

Sadly, I only miss my youth even more now.


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A Cold Icy Pole On A Hot Night

Nothing compares to the pleasure of a cold beer on a hot night. Sadly, in middle age and climate change, there are more hot nights than my aging physiology can tolerate beers during.

One substitute for a beer on a hot night is a Zooper Dooper. It's cold and refreshing, but a Zooper Dooper is not as good as a beer, for sure.

However, dwelling further on it during a couple of Zooper Doopers tonight I started pondering if that was a fair comparison. A beer is 375ml, give or take, whereas a Zooper Dooper thaws out to 70ml. So really I should be asking: is ~5.35 Zooper Doopers on a hot night the equivalent pleasure of a beer?

Still no, I think. But as I sucked down a few more Zooper Doopers and the sky turned lavender on this 36°C day I considered that a craft IPA in a can straight from my fridge is still going to cost me at least three to four bucks, perhaps more. I can get a 24 pack of Zooper Doopers when they're half price for $3.50. Are 24 sugar free Zooper Doopers on a hot night an equivalent substitute to a cold beer on a hot night?

Still no, probably. Although you can have a Zooper Dooper in the shower about as easily as you can have a beer. That's not as satisfying either...

How Paris Became Paris

I'm currently planning a trip to Europe, and while Top 10 Things To Do In Blah videos on YouTube have been useful, I decided that if I was going to spend a week in Paris then I wanted a deeper understanding of one of the world's great cities than monetized content on Google could provide. So I read How Paris Became Paris by Joan DeJean, which could more aptly be titled "How 17th Century Paris became 19th Century Paris". Nonetheless, this was an excellent starting point for my Parisian enlightenment (far better than Süskind's Perfume...) and it avoided overlapping my existing understanding of French History (also known as Andrew Roberts' Napoleon the Great).

How Paris Became Paris was well structured, centring chapters around specific urban features or cultural changes rather than trying to regale the two centuries chronologically. I admit that I did find the chapters about la mode (fashion) and shopping a bit less engaging than the history of the Pont Neuf and the first attempts at the tree lined boulevards in place of the old city walls. Paris was, according to this book, the first European city to have sidewalks, a mail service, lighting at night, and public transport. They also apparently were the first city to lean into "looking at the river and taking a picture", instead of lining their bridges with houses and shops in order to finance the structure.

I detected that the success of Paris comes down to a few key, raw elements that define human progress. War - conveniently starting and ending at the right times. The end of the religious wars - which provided a monarch a chance to spend money on civic developments to build a legacy as opposed to battled, and then the civil war that accelerated progress in printing and communications. Money. Flirting.

The history of Paris comes down to war, communication, money, sex, and being able to stare at a river. I actually think that distils humans down into their fundamental parts quite succinctly.

What this book didn't cover was the years during/after the revolution (Haussmann, Napoleon, the Eiffel Tower) or the years before it (The Bastille, Notre Dame, the palaces). It amazes me that nearly two centuries before my own city was founded there was magazine advertisements for fashion items in Paris. And that centuries before a city with the size and history of New York City there was Paris doing it's thing.

I recommend this book - a physical copy so that old paintings and engravings can be examined. I do wish it could have kept going, but hopefully later this year I will be able to contribute to the history of the city of Paris, or at least write down some of my experiences in it.

In Bocca al Lupo

I have been in a good mood these past two heatwave mornings in January 2023.

Yesterday I walked to the supermarket to buy pitas for pizzas, as well as cheap salad ingredients.

Right after the three gigantic cucumbers I'd selected were bagged at the checkout I felt a sneeze coming on. Even with the sneeze barrier and the checkout girl's facemask I did not feel comfortable sneezing in public in 2023. Every muscle in my face did its part to prevent my diaphragm from propelling. I don't know what expression this suppression left on my melon, but the guarded way she said "have a nice day" after I'd paid made me suspicious that my lips had curled in an mis-interpretable way.

This morning I walked to a different supermarket, a bit further away, to buy beans and corn. On my way I crossed path with a woman walking a pug. The tiny dog was adorned with plastic fairy wings. As I passed I was going to say, "good morning" and perhaps remark, "nice wings" - as I thought that no one would dress their dog like that without hoping for a compliment or comment. But perhaps there was something to my stride because as we drew nearer she stepped off the footpath and onto the road to avoid me. The pug didn't see this coming, nor consent, and the force on its lead sent the tiny creature skywards up and over the gutter - briefly airborne. And I understood then the intention for the wings.

I also may have fortunately prevented a potential cyber security incident this week, so overall a pretty good Friday.

Just Once

Before summer ends I want a person or perhaps a small crowd to notice that I double tapped the unlock button on my central locking and now all my car's windows are rolling down as one before I even open the door, and for them to be like, "Dang, that stupid looking guy must really have his whole life together."

Two Tales of one City

I've read three books relating to Paris so far this year (and a fourth is on the kitchen table), which seems odd considering I've never really been interested in the city. Even while churning through the history of The Revolution and the decades of Napoleon I was more interested in maps of Austerlitz and Waterloo than I was in even working out what a Tuileries was supposed to be.

I've found fascination in many other cities. London, Rome, New York City, Constantinople, even Adelaide. And I certainly respect The City Of Light for it's significance. I think the problem is I am possibly the least French person on the planet.

The Flânuer, which I finished reading yesterday, was an insightful counterpoint to How Paris Became Paris. The former is reflections of the city from the 1990's backward, a clip show of the history that the seventeenth century promised when the city tore down its walls and discovered urban planning.

The latter was a tale of monuments and infrastructure, entrepreneurs and nobles. The former a perspective on writers, painters, musicians, immigrants and non-Europeans, Jews, the LGBT, and royalists.

Consistent between these two Parises was the designation of the same revolutionary sidewalks being a place to put on a show in the streets, regardless of whether Haussmann had or had not set about bulldozing and straightening the avenues.

While I do not intend to be seen in Paris, these books have given me places to see. Additionally, I have gained an appreciation for the fortune a piece of a city must have to survive so much history in a single place. The ironically named Pont Neuf - now the oldest bridge over the Seine - has stood for over four centuries. The Tuileries Palace, whose construction started in 1564, has not made it so long. In 1871 a far left uprising took control of Paris at the end of the Franco-Prussian war. Before they were subdued they torched the place. They were in power for all of 100 days in the period of nearly five centuries. That's all it took.

Considering all the civil wars, religious wars, war wars, occupations, revolutions, counter-revolutions, fires, civil strikes and general wear and tear it is incredible that so much of Paris is left to see. It's a testament to humanity. I now look forward to some fascinating strolling.

You Reap What You Sow

At least I better. Having the car broken into was enough to get me to buy the security cameras, these purple fruit finally ripening was the catalyst for me installing it.

New Chat

There's been a lot of hype about "Chat GPT" recently and while I have been curious about this technological evolution and how it might replace us all I hadn't really found an opportunity to play with it. Then I realised I had on my todo list the task of slowly creating a bunch of blog entries for my FT project I've been building on the weekends and rather than researching a whole bunch of FT-related things and using my shit wrists to type them all up and fact check them I could just ask Chat GPT to generate the content for me and then I could clean it up a little bit.

Well, I honestly was not expecting it to be as useful as it was. I asked it a simple question first up and it came back with a nice paragraph of good quality internet content. Then I decided to cheekily ask it to rephrase the content as a "blog entry designed to rank highly in Google search". A few seconds later it was fluffing it up and turning it into a listicle and already I had saved myself half an hour. I copied it into notepad++ and started to add HTML tags, but then I realised I could say "Can you add HTML tags for formatting to he last response please?" ( I found myself using good manners a lot in case AI does become sentient and decides to kill people who were jerks to it). Another 30 seconds later it was pumping out the same content with all the HTML tags that I could need. I just copied it into the database verbatim and there I had my first blog. All I had to do was think of good ideas for more blog posts and feed them in.

Chat GPT is a machine! Well, literally obviously. I got myself another dozen blogs and saved myself a day. Maybe not quite. It does tend to repeat itself a lot. It generated one listicle where five of the six items were "a unique way to experience F". It doesn't feel unique when they're all unique, does it?

Then I decided to ask the question I'd been denying myself from asking. The test that could determine so much. After another good blog post I asked it to rewrite the last response in the style of the writing on bradism.com.

It took a long time to think about it. I assumed it was busy, parsing my journal, learning everything about me, formulating a model to understand me better than I even knew myself. The response started to generate. Words began to flow. My stomach sank. Was I about to have my identity replaced by a machine?

"Hey there Bradism community! Are you a fan of F? I know I am!" It started, and continued, and I chuckled a nervous guffaw of relief because I knew that it wasn't today that my identity was going to be replaced by a machine.

Phew.

This entry written by Chat GPT

Count Sideways

What am I going to remember about today in twenty years? And if I don't remember it, will it have happened? I walked in the shallows at the beach this morning (barefoot), other than that the shoes I wore were a pair of Adidas Lite Racer 2.0 shoes. The same shoes I wore to multiple offices last week. My work shoes are still there in various drawers and amusingly numbered lockers...

I went to Green Who Shall Not Be Named twice today. I don't want to remember that, but I don't want to have to buy and install another toilet seat either. So that definitely happened.

I didn't listen to much of the Hottest 100 today. Why do I feel like I'll have more of an interest in this countdown when it gets replayed in 2043 on Double J? That's even assuming my biological age at that point won't be 21 thanks to age-reducing drugs.