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.


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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?


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.


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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.