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.


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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?


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.

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.


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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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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