Bulk Billed

This morning I took another pleasant ride to the sports hospital and locked my bike up at the now extremely familiar bicycle parking.

After yet another nap inside an MRI yesterday I was to learn what was happening in my shoulder. I was expecting bad news: failure of the labrum anchor from May, another surgery, no explanation for my shitty tissue.

Instead, my surgeon shared his surprise that the labrum repair was intact and unremarkable. My AC Joint, however, was extremely inflamed. Instead of surgery he wanted to try a cortisone injection to confirm the location of the problem, and give me another month of structural integrity limbo.

I suppose this is relatively good news, although a microscopic part of me was disappointed that I couldn't write today's journal entry about the torn labrum omicron variant.

I had been beginning to feel queasy that every year was going to follow a pattern of coronavirus mutation, shoulder injury, significant lifestyle changes.

I'm trying to suppress the memories of the last time I got a cortisone injection into a chronic injury hotspot in the weeks before Christmas.

Then I cycled home.


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Power Blend Smoothie Ice (Auto Pulse)

Today was the last time I used my Breville Professional 800 Blender. This is a product I have used on average daily since October 2010, and which has been squealing and disintegrating way past its retirement date due to my inability to find a replacement blender that also has a two litre jug and is on special.

Finally, after a year on my to-do list, I bought a Vitamix Explorian E320 to replace it. I had to pay for a Costco membership to be able to purchase it, and after visiting Costco and seeing the contents of the average person’s trolley there I understand why it was only at Costco that I could find a blender with a gigantic jug.

The Vitamix, based on how much it cost, better give me a lot of good breakfast smoothies. But that may be an entry for another decade. Today was about saying goodbye to the Breville. That Breville has seen some shit, and I wanted to make sure it knew I appreciated it. I’ve been putting two full trays of ice cubes in it each morning and Vanessa sometimes adds more than that later on the same day. It’s made cherry ripe smoothies at Christmas time, raspberry and orange juice smoothies on tropical Engadine evenings. I perfected the recipe for the homemade smoothycino in it. It’s made smoothies with no milk or yogurt when I was a vegan in 2017. Banana and honey smoothies with Bundy on Australia Day, 2015. Smoothies with no protein during some of my many years of not lifting weights. Smoothies with no ice because for some reason I occasionally made bad smoothies. I made smoothies with Weet Bix in them. Smoothies with Reese's Pieces in them. Chocolate Banana smoothies after basketball games. Once I even blended some spinach and spices together to make a sauce for a chicken saagwala. Smoothies with mango and pineapple and cocoa and watermelon and cinnamon and blueberries and maple syrup and passionfruit and grapes and peanut butter and rockmelon and strawberries and so many flavours of protein powder and sometimes creatine and oats soaked in water and the yoghurts. So many yoghurts.

Which of these, or the many, many other smoothie recipes of the past eleven years befitted the bravura that would put the Breville behind me? Multiple states, multiple jobs, houses, a marriage and a dog all powered by what those blades had made.

All of them, I decided. The ultimate smoothie. Today I was going to make a breakfast that was a combination of all the smoothies that had made me the man I was since 2010.

Today was the blend of an era.

The Catch

There are way more than five senses, and lately I’ve discovered a new one that a sheltered life in Australia has withheld from me up until now. It’s related to the current coronavirus strain which is infecting people everywhere, and I wanted to write about it as part of the running gag I’ve got going about being a modern day British Mass Observation diarist, whose wartime purpose I have already bastardised twice to justify talking about myself in the context of a global pandemic.

Every time I leave the house I have a sense that I might be locked up just for going about my day. Maybe it will be a stop for petrol at the wrong service station, or a pint at the wrong brewery, or a seat on the wrong tram. A QR code, or a credit card transaction, or a partial facial recognition might be all that's needed for a computer to place me at the same location as a specific spike protein and I will receive a text message and either be stuck at home for fourteen days, or worse, imprisoned in a hotel room with no mantel while my cherry tomatoes are left behind to the elements.

There are reasons that can be rationalised for this way of life, which affects everyone, not just those who have a journal. I won’t comment on the logic because I didn’t really like being in charge of a team of six people, let alone making decisions about a state of more than a million during a pandemic, so I don’t judge as much as I experience.

The threat of being forced into isolation at any time creates unpleasant behaviour patterns. Every time I consider going into a shop or restaurant I have to weigh up the risk of that venue later being a hot spot. And if I’m with Vanessa, is it strategically better for only one of us to go inside instead of both? Is checking in an overall net negative or net positive action? Did my dog ever sign the social contract? It’s impossible not to think about these things. It’s only been a couple of weeks like this; always fighting the urge to open the internet to see if new exposure sites have been added. Is staying at home indefinitely to avoid being stuck at home for a fortnight even any better? (Yes, if I’m not required to isolate, I can still walk on the sand at the beach and ride my bike around the place).

For those reading this expect the customary pun or meaningful conclusion, I don’t have one. I just wanted to capture these feelings for what I hope is their uniqueness, and reflect on them one day in the future when it’s easy to make plans and get a coffee without feeling the way I feel now.


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The Longest Day of the Longest Year

I've been rather social since my last update, tripled-down pandemic considered.

Last month was a good time to buy a new mask.

I spent two hours tonight floating in a pool. That was good. If the number of friends I have with pools is an inverse parabola function of age then I hope I am now on the upswing.

I've walked on the sand a lot too.

I discovered an amazing toilet at my latest office.

I ate some ribs.

I wore the shirt from my LinkedIn photo to work for the first time ever.

I haven't exercised for about a month and my body feels as good as it has in years.

I've seen family.

I've eaten some raspberries.

I built some APIs and made some diagrams, and drank some coffee.

I'm using my fingernails to try and keep the days from blurring together.

The sunset tonight was amazing.

Perfect Fits

All through childhood I loved Lego for its combination of construction, imagination and smooth plastic. Every Christmas I hoped and prayed for new sets to build.

image 2292 from bradism.com

When I became an adult I still loved Lego, and now that I had a full time job I could afford lots of sets.

image 2293 from bradism.com

Then I bought my camera and the two hobbies combined and I took photos of Lego scenes and made phocumentaries about all the surgeries I had. I bought even more Lego and sorted it into all the different shapes and colours. It didn't matter how old I got, I knew I would never grow sick of my Lego and I would one day quit my job to be a famous Lego set maker or professional photographer. Or both!

image 2294 from bradism.com

And then I stopped buying sets. And I stopped taking photos. And I stopped making things with Lego. All I did was work in an office with boxes of sorted Lego beside me that I never opened up or took photos of.

I had got too old for Lego.

image 2295 from bradism.com

Then, when I heard my little niece and nephew were coming to Bradelaide for Christmas I suddenly realised that there might be a purpose for this sorted Lego that could make a couple of people very, very happy.

image 2296 from bradism.com

So I made this Christmas Phocumentary for amusement of my present self and my future self, and then I packed away all my Lego again.

Things Which Make Me Hate Myself

Despite having a rudimentary understanding of business strategy and predatory corporate practices, buying tools at Bunnings.

Reading supermarket catalogues while I'm eating.

Trying to use tools that I bought at Bunnings.

Over editing work emails for no return in value.

Realising I forgot to buy something at Bunnings and having to go back there for a second time in the same weekend.

I Quit

It's time to yeet another year and I wanted to reflect on it before my memories become unreliable and I have to query some future voice assistant to learn how I was feeling at times in the last 12 months.

2021 was a year that went both fast and slow, like when you orbit a clock around the Earth at high speed, and then you check it afterwards and it says it's 2022 but everybody around you looks like it's 2020 still. It sounds messed up, but it's a good answer when people ask "where did the time go?"

2021 was in a lot of ways a year of giving up. And I don't feel smug for announcing in January that the pandemic was only going to get worse. Mutate nine tames, shame on you; mutate fifty times, a shame for all of us.

The theme of giving up shouldn't be construed as giving in. Giving up can be a good thing, like giving up chocolate, or social contact... I mean, social media...

I've achieved a lot in 2021, my work life alone is testament to the fact that this year has not flown by, as I only started my consultant role eleven months ago so there's no way I could have been doing it for years (even if full time working from home means you can fit three work days into every 24 hours). But it's true, my first quit at the start of 2021: I left my job of six years. That's two years longer than I owned my VK Commodore.

I gave up Age of Empires II. It was a time consuming folly that I burnt a lot of evenings on trying to recapture my youth. Ultimately I think this was a success, because I wasn't very good at Age of Empires when I was young either. So I'd classify this as "Won and Done".

I gave up on flying. By the end of 2019 I flew so much I took it for granted that I could buy a ticket and go anywhere if I ever wanted to. 2021 was the first year I didn't get on a plane since 2005. At some points during the year even seeing a plane in the sky was a surprising experience. I hope I will fly again. There's not that much I haven't already seen between Port Broughton and Port Elliot.

I gave up Netflix, and BBL, and the idea of watching television and movies in general. Now when I watch television it's probably because my hamstring tendon is inflamed, or because drinking a beer is better when slippery men are bashing into each other in pursuit of a football, or watching NBA socially, or if there's a movie that has a story I want to hear the end of. Other than that I will stare at things on my tiny giant phone thank you very much.

I came real close to giving up Lego. I packed away most of my sets and told my brother I would send the boxes back home with him after Christmas. Then I thought about making a photo series about giving up Lego forever, and after clicking a few pieces together I realised maybe I wasn't ready to surrender this part of my youth. I did reposition my pirate ship so it's not visible in the mirror during Zoom calls though.

I gave up basketball and weightlifting, and I gave up having a bicep tendon that attaches to my labrum. These things are - or were - connected. Health and fitness remains important to me, but I have to concede being strong and hitting corner 3s if I want to stay healthy and fit long term. Who knows what this will look like in 2022. Pilates and riding/hiking probably. At least those can all be done during lockdowns.

All of these things make 2022 seem very exciting, with the long, grey cloud of coronavirus obviously still diffusing the rising sun. As I pass the midpoint of the life expectancy of an 80's born Australian male I will exist with a refined and streamlined lifestyle, set of habits, and functions. I know what I can do with my life, and what I can't do as well. Determined and focused, I should really excel at quitting a whole bunch of additional things in 2022.

Gas Oven Pizza

In 2021 I did not use the woodfired pizza oven once, and I replaced our gas oven in the kitchen with an electric one because I bought the new oven without checking that the old one was electric.

Tonight I made pizzas with a pizza stone on the gas BBQ and they turned out so well I felt I should capture the recipe for future reference.

348g Bread Flour
7g salt
7g yeast
hearty pour of mixed herbs
196ml warmish water
25ml olive oil

No need to activate the yeast, just mix dry ingredients then add the wet stuff. Knead with bread hook for 7m 30s using low knead for first 50% of time and to one higher than low for final 50%.
Lightly coat hands with oil and form dough into a ball, then cover and leave to rise for ~1hr.

Put pizza stone on the Weber and heat with lid down at full power for at least 30min, target 200 degrees C.

Roll out 3 bases and leave covered with towel to rise for ~15m.

Cook on hot pizza stone for ~10 minutes to get crispy base and smoky, well cooked top.

image 2297 from bradism.com

Today I also discovered that one of my neighbours trees is a plum tree, and that the rainbow lorikeets have also discovered this. I'm partly disappointed because I like free plums but also happy because I like free rainbow lorikeets.

image 2298 from bradism.com

Nothing else important happened today, albeit I did not check the news.

Greenway to 2022

There I was, beer in hand, half-submerged in the ocean and watching the last light of sunset paint the sky red. Tired but satisfied.

Halfway through the return ride my back tyre got a puncture. I had to wait at a train station with a slightly crazy stabbing victim who'd just left the emergency department. I wheeled my bike onto the train and put my mask on.

If there is better symbolism to wrap up 2021 than getting a flat when you're halfway home, rising hospital case numbers, and being forced to wear a mask for the rest of the year, I don't know what it is.