Masks

I've believed since the outset of this pandemic that wearing a mask on your face can protect you and others from infection.

This has been very easy to believe because up until last week I lived in a place where there'd been seven months without any community transmission, and we were all living life like that community behind the walls in The Walking Dead - untouchable.

Of course then there was community transmission and I had to put my money where my mouth was. Not literally. I put a mask there instead.

Like most of my novel purchasing decisions in adult life I turned to OzBargain to work out how to buy face masks without feeling like I was enabling shady organizations from profiteering off a pandemic (or feeling like I was paying too much).

I went to the supermarket today and I wore a mask. It was fine. Based on some of the terrible facial hair I have represented as a grown man, there was no way I could pretend wearing a mask was below me. I forgot I was wearing it after about five minutes. A child did point at me and gasp in the cereal aisle, but that was because I was tall.

When I consider my life statistics and compare historical supermarket visits to my hand sanitizer usage, I'm honestly surprised I hadn't considered doing this before.


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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.


Panic Frying

About 2.5 million minutes ago I was sitting on a coach in Salzburg waiting to commence the Sound of Music bus tour that would eventually take me to the small, tourist town of Mondsee on the banks of a lake by the same name.
It was a sunny day, and we wandered along cobbles from the Church of St Michael to the shore of the lake where a small kiosk was selling ice-creams, and I remember we didn’t buy one.
This was definitely the right decision. Not just because you could have poured about a litre of premium Bavarian beer for the price of a single ice cream, but because if there’s a prevailing memory of that day it wasn’t the food I ate, it was the sight of that sparkling lake under those magnificent mountains.

image 2142 from bradism.com

We did snack on something in Mondsee, in the shade outside the monastery in front of something that was a fountain or a roundabout. What we ate was probably apples and nuts, but the fact that I don’t remember only helps to add weight to my theory that when you’re on holiday it’s not about what you ate, it’s about what you saw.

I mean, that said, I remember the ice cream I ate in a back alley in Munich's Old Town because I ordered it (badly) in German. I also recall the currywurst in a bun I ate for dinner that evening because I have tried multiple times to recreate that experience using Aldi sausages and Keen’s Curry Powder since (never successfully). That sausage sticks in my mind probably because it was the first thing I ate after about eight hours of touching down, making it through customs, taking the Zug to the city and checking into the hotel. And I remember the pork knuckle I ate up on the hill at Kloster Andechs. I also remember cooking some orange capsicums and kidney beans and German taco seasoning in the kitchenette of our hotel room overlooking the Alter Botanischer Garten. I even remember the ice creams we ate under the shade of the Französischer Dom on a super-hot 35 degree afternoon in Berlin.

But, the common theme connecting the European food and lakes I find easy to remember is not what I ate, but just that I took a photo or somehow commemorated the experience at around the same time. Really, this makes the panic buying of many of my fellow South Australian’s so much less justifiable. If I can only recall a handful of the things I put in my mouth during a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Bavaria then what does my diet during any period of life really matter? These significant moments of our existence will not be remembered by what we ate, but by what we experienced while eating. So what better time than a six day lockdown to improvise with the forgotten, unwanted or panic-bought-in-March items in the back of the pantry than now?

Be wary of pizzerias.

Be wary of pizzerias.


Tonight, with my favourite Afghan takeaway closed, I dug out a mix of herbs and spices I’d assembled months ago and marinated and skewered a chicken breast fillet I bought on Monday night when Vanessa had fortunately needed an ice-cream run. I barbecued it and we ate it with some old potatoes and half an onion I’d been saving just in case. It tasted great. I washed it down with some hard ginger beer cans that have been sitting in the fridge n-1 for as long as I can remember. A year from now I would have had no recollection of any of this, had I not written this journal entry and taken this photo:

I forgot the garlic.

I forgot the garlic.

What will tomorrow bring? In 2020, who knows? Hopefully my Coles delivery. If not, I’ll probably be making more lasting memories with a pasta cooked in the Italian sauce our real estate gave us when we bought the house, some tins of tuna, and the last third of a bottle of Shiraz that’s been sitting on our bench for two weeks now. After that it could get really interesting, culinarily and otherwise.

The Things November 18th Would Bring

image 2140 from bradism.com

As seen on the Official Bradism Raised Cutting Board for Tall People


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2020

When I submit this entry it will be the 2020th one I’ve posted on bradism.com. Unless I am hit by a (let’s face it, extremely debilitating) case of writer’s block for the next two months it will also likely be the only time in my life the entry number and year are a snap.

In olden times I liked to use milestone entries to reflect on where I was a mile earlier, but given that the universe is treating 2020 as a chance to mix it up I figured I would use my 2020th entry as a snapshot of life in 2020 for me, Brad.

It’ll be something we can all look back on in the coming years and decades to remember what my specific life was like.

Starting with the most important thing...

image 2128 from bradism.com

This is my Fridge in 2020. I’ve had this fridge for about five years after I got taken by a commercial saying it used different coloured LEDs to keep fruit and vegetables fresher, longer. (Note - actually seems to work). Here it is in our kitchen. Featured magnets are mainly of Nash and calendars from the vet which Vanessa wants to keep for some reason.

There’s also a photo of me, my brother and my Dad on the day we carried this fridge up two flights of stairs in my old house. I got that photo turned into a magnet for all of us. A “fridge fridge magnet” if you will. I could turn this photo into a magnet and that would be a “fridge fridge magnet fridge magnet.” Well, that’s Christmas sorted.

image 2129 from bradism.com

I’ve only taken a couple of photos of the inside of my fridge over the years, and in hindsight it’s something I wish I’d done more because it’s fascinating to reminisce and reflect on how your diet changes over time.

Well, if you’re the kind of person with 6% of 2019 entries that are tagged “Breakfast” you will find this fascinating.

The 2020 fridge census is extremely Vanessa & Bradism. Bulk meals, including one pre-bagged for transportation to work to minimise backpack leaks. Low fat, low sugar yogurt (for breakfasts). A kilogram of hummus. A shitload of protein bars. And some very fresh looking fruits and vegetables.

Okay, this was really the most important thing...

image 2130 from bradism.com

My 2020 couch. It has motorised recliners and headrests. And that's Nash, looking particularly unstressed by the events of this year.

Fun fact: this photo completely confused Lightroom's new auto-geometry feature.

image 2131 from bradism.com

This is Vanessa in 2020, with a giant coffee. Yes, that is a protein bar she’s eating.

image 2132 from bradism.com

This is my house in 2020. The roses are in bloom right now. I don't want to add anything else incase I dox myself.

image 2133 from bradism.com

This is my car in 2020. It’s a comfortable drive, with nice quality of life features, and it was relatively affordable.

It’s a very Brad car: bigger than average, but does its best to blend in. Here it is at the lookout above the Barossa Sculpture Park on a crisp winter morning in 2020.

image 2134 from bradism.com

This is the backyard in spring 2020. The mulberry tree is fruiting and somewhere in there the slugs are eating the strawberries before Nash can get to them.

I recently paid for the water feature to get fixed and that bubbles all day which is very pleasant.

image 2135 from bradism.com

My bike and my backpack, 2020. These are ranked number 1 and 2 on the list of “my things most likely to topple over after I put them down”. This picture illustrates the only way to guarantee they'll both stay upright - lean them into each other, like when you tape a buttered piece of toast to the back of a cat.

image 2136 from bradism.com

My office view, 2020. Also featuring my office view from 2014. On my desk is my coffee cup from 2019, and my coffee cup from 2006.

If you take a step back from where this picture was taken you’ll crunch a very, very mouldy almond.

image 2137 from bradism.com

My home office view, which I spent an unexpected amount of time at in 2020. It’s kind of crazy how I sit in the same seat during the day making “important business decisions” involving people's time and an organisation's money, and then at night get beaten by teenagers at Age of Empires II or write journal entries like this one.

Lots of classic callbacks here on the 2020 desk, including my HD 515s, Uniball 207s and my 2019 coffee cup from above photo.

Finally

In the early weeks of 2020 - when the first Covid cases were being detected in Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth, and the mask shortages were reported, and the scientists said not to have any expectations on a vaccine or a cure - Australia faced a new and uncertain realty.

Australia is a big country, with a relativity small and dispersed population. The challenge posed by a global pandemic seemed too large for us to conquer. But in the face of this adversity we did not surrender meekly, nor panic (much), or bury our heads in the sand. The smartest people got together to make plans. We gave up on things we took for granted. We sacrificed. We distanced, isolated, persevered through a long autumn and even longer winter. Slowly yet surely we took steps to hold back the virus, to keep each other safe, to bring back normalities we thought we'd never be able to take for granted again.

And you know what? Ultimately we succeeded. We managed to run a records-book acceptable version of an AFL season concluding today with a grand final barbecue and table tennis.

image 2125 from bradism.com

Well done Australia. Let history remember that when tidings of great significance came calling we stood up and achieved what was important.

Table tennis doubles being played in a dark driveway.

That said, table tennis at night was less than ideal.

Breakfast Fast

Almost every morning I crack two trays of ice into a smoothie jug, lovingly cascade creamy milk over the crystalised cubes, scoop some protein powder on top, along with extra flavour like cinnamon, cocoa or desiccated coconut, then add a banana and something from the repertoire of mango, strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, blackberries or grapes. I put some tunes on. I pour another 200g of low fat, vanilla yogurt on top of everything and then blend for thirty seconds on “crush” followed by another little while on “pulse” and finally three to five minutes on “blend” - with a break at some point to pour excess fluid into the first of three large cups, as the two litre jug is not tall enough to handle the total volume of a blended Brad breakfast. I then proceed to drink this concoction through the thinnest of straws available, occasionally choosing to scoop it with the tiny spoon on the end of the straw while I read the news, or watch TV.

The whole process, particularly in winter, can take from twenty, up to over forty minutes. COVID19 related working from home arrangements have not helped with this. That’s a considerable portion of my waking hours, all things considered. A very enjoyable portion, for sure.

I’ve been listening off and on to an audiobook that is essentially a short summary of tricks and tools that a bunch of rich and successful people attribute to their wealth and prosperity. It has provided some fascinating insights into what life could involve if I was loaded enough. Fasting, ice baths, psychedelic trips, holding your breath, fancy teas, hanging upside down, meditation and underwater deadlifts to name just a few of the “tools” that these powerhouses of technology, business and recreation believe gives them an edge in life. I’m not rich enough myself to dedicate fully to any of these approaches, but among them one consistent theme which comes up throughout this very long book is that many successful interviewees have a very quick breakfast, or skip it entirely.

As a man with fifteen pages of journal entries tagged “breakfast” I found this concept particularly confronting. But what is 2020 other than a chance for everybody to subvert their own tropes? So I decided to set myself a goal of one work week where I consumed a balanced breakfast as absolutely fucking quick as possible, to see how my life would change.

To justify this experiment I knew I’d need to approach it scientifically and part of that was recording before I started what I would do with the forty minutes I gained each day. I elected to split it: twenty minutes would go towards extra sleep, and twenty minutes would go towards dedicated personal development time.

According to my sleep tracker my average nightly shut-eye is six hours and forty-three minutes, and I figured this was a chance to see if a round seven would have any benefits to my health.

The personal development time would be spent on things I wanted to understand at a higher level for my career, like octagonal microservice architecture patterns, and OpenAPI modelling best practices.

After a long bike ride and big lunch on a sunny day last Sunday, I was able to have a reasonably early night and set my alarm for 6:40am - seven hours of sleep later.

On Monday morning I woke, dressed for work, and walked downstairs. Initially I’d wanted to replace my breakfast with a single protein/health bar that I could ideally eat on that walk downstairs. Something with 35 grams of protein, some carbs, no added sugar and a little bit of fat. Unfortunately I hadn’t been able to find anything suitable in the discount chemists or supermarkets of Adelaide. Perhaps I wasn’t rich enough yet to find the vegan protein breakfast bars that met these conditions and that had been mentioned in the book. So instead I ate a decent-sized banana, and a big scoop of protein powder in a shaker full of skim milk. I got through it all in less than three minutes. I didn’t even sit down. It was a little daunting to realise just how quickly you can insert 450 calories into your body, almost without even noticing.

And then an energy crept into me. I was done. I was ready for work and it was barely 7am. So Monday was a bit of a misfire, as I spent another ten minutes working out if I should ride my bike to the office straight away. (I wanted to save the personal development portion of the day for a time separate from breakfast). In the end I took the dog for a walk, then took off down the greenway. I arrived in town slightly before 8am and spent more time maneuvering my bike into the bike cage and getting the lock through the various bits than I did eating my breakfast.

I repeated this recipe for the remainder of the week, and I have to say, I have a newfound appreciation for the benefits of a quick breakfast. The energy I mentioned only grew and I can only assume it is due to going almost immediately from slumber to my daily tasks and goals. I don’t believe this energy is related to the extra sleep. In fact, I found that aspect to be the most challenging of the whole experiment. Because I am used to 6 hours and 40 minutes of sleep, each night I found it harder and harder to fall asleep, and thus my sleep time and eventual waking time crept forward each day. There are potentially health benefits to the extra sleep I was getting, but at the rate our planet twirls on its access they risk pushing me into my own sleep orbit which - despite COVID’s new work schedules flexibility - I don’t think I want to try.

Personal development wise I did learn things and it was nice to feel like I had twenty “bonus” minutes each day to focus purely on education and learning. Sure, I could dedicate twenty minutes a day to that anyway, but there was a vibe knowing I’d earned that twenty minutes by smashing a banana down my throat earlier that morning which made it easier to learn, and also I guess helped me commit to focusing, otherwise what was the sacrifice of a relaxed and delicious breakfast experience for?

I think I’ll keep doing this on work days until my brain adjusts and the energy dissipates. Who knows, maybe I’ll become rich and successful following this in just a few short weeks. Maybe then I’ll be interviewed, and you’ll find me inside the big book of tools.

Normal Annual Service

The car was due for its annual service, it's first in the COVID19 world.

The mechanic sent me messages before and after I booked it in assuring me that they had "implemented numerous steps to continuously provide a safe and healthy environment ... such as express servicing and cabin sanitisation." I even got that same message while they were servicing it.

There had been free hand sanitizer in the office when I dropped it off, but other than that everything seemed like the old normal. When I collected the keys in the afternoon one of the service staff walked me to the car while again reassuring me that everything had been cleaned, wiped and decontaminated. He wasn't wearing gloves or a mask. Then, in a final gesture of customer service, he offered to pull the car out of the parking bay for me and before I could stop him his hands had touched the gearstick, the steering wheel and both inside and the outside door handle.
I felt very reassured. I guess only the workshop mechanics were the ones I needed protecting from. I also didn't have the heart to tell him that I'd needed to catch the bus to get back there anyway, so the dice were already rolled for the 18th of August.

image 2091 from bradism.com

Earlier in the morning instead of the bus I'd been given a ride into town and I spontaneously asked the guy driving me to drop me off near my old house in North Adelaide. (His peak hour driving skills may have contributed to this spontaneity). I decided I would take this opportunity to retrace my old daily commute to work from previous strolls to the office in 2009. This was a very normal thing for a person to do, I thought.

Along the way I listened on shuffle to a playlist of songs which reminded me of 2009 I happened to already have prepared. That's a normal thing too I'm pretty sure.

After the soundtracked walk was over I reflected about it on this web journal I've been maintaining for the past twenty years, which may be on the line between normal and narcissistic.

In 2031 if I repeat the same walk while listening to a mashup of songs from 2009 and 2020, featuring a spoken word acapella of this journal entry, I'll know for sure if that boundary has been crossed.

The Inevitable Return of the Great Striped Polo

What the fuck is this?

image 2086 from bradism.com

What the heck is this?

image 2087 from bradism.com

What the...

Insert picture of iron and ironing board, KeepCup, a pair of pants that don't have a drawstring, a building access card...

Hmm, looks like this journal entry is about as anti-climatic as my first day in the office in the best worst part of a year.

My regular coffee guy forgot my name. I guess it has been four months of 5G waves dissolving his mind...

Coffee was better than Nespresso Pods though.

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