What I did on my Summer Holidays 2021 Edition

It's semi-often that I get eleven consecutive days without work. That's like an Easter, an Adelaide Cup long weekend, plus Anzac Day, and plain old regular Sunday all wrapped up.

Given this is my journal I thought it might be pertinent to repeat my previous summer break traditions of preserving an essence of those long summer days for posterity, unlike the other 354 days of the year which are abandoned in the mists of time, distance, and as usual the damaging effects of alcohol on the brain.

December 25th
Christmas morning started with a beach walk with Nash on the sands of Grange. Lunch was at Dad's with many extended family members. It was a nice time.

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December 26th
First thing on Boxing Day was a hike up Mount Lofty where for the first time ever I got a car park at Waterfall Gully. After we reached the summit we sat down for some choc-raspberry-oats and yoghurt. I saw black cockatoos and sulphur crested cockatoos.

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After that was a trip to the homemaker centre and big box hardware, and following a salad I set about knocking off half my break's todo list with the things I brought home. Alas, these were all the easy things like attaching sticky hooks to the shelf by the front door, and attaching a new hose head.

Finally, before the sun got too low, I rode to Alex's to meet up with Wilhem and throw a lot of tennis balls.

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December 27th
The ten person household limit kicked in, and I attended a small BBQ with Josh, Claire and Timmy.

In the evening I drank a beer and started reading From Russia With Love.

December 28th
After breakfast I rode my bike to St Clair for an Albanian coffee, some more reading time next to some birds, and then I bought heavily discounted custard and rode home.

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That evening I ate a sticky date pudding and played Borderlands 2 with Josh and Sam.

December 29th
It was very hot, and so we stayed inside in the dark and watched Matrix Resurrections and had a smoothie.

Later in the afternoon we drove to Aldinga for dinner and another walk on the beach. Nash tried to hunt and kill a partially submerged rock, and got bopped on her bottom by an unexpected wave. Much mirth was shared.

December 30th
Another stinking hot day where we tried to get a long walk in before breakfast, again along the Torrens.

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It was around this point that another item on my todo list - Upgrade bradism.com to newer version of PHP and framework - began. I expected it to take me most of the day.

At some point I got sick of holiday software development and drank a beer while making pizzas.

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December 31st
Omicron hysteria was everywhere. We went on another Torrens walk, then after breakfast to Costco to buy bulk strawberries and salad.

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I did more Bradism upgrading.
In the evening I made Afghan chicken kebabs and then we rode to Semaphore, swam in the ocean, drank champagne in the dark and then rode home.

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January 1st
I fixed my flat tyre. The Bradism Upgrade efforts continued. Vanessa made me a mousse cake.

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January 2nd
We went walking on the beach in the morning. I forget which beach.

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Later in the afternoon I strapped a Bluetooth speaker to my handlebars, told Spotify to play radio based on Don't Stop Believin' and Boston's More than a Feeling. I rode to Glenelg for another ocean beer, and watching the sunset at the Unit with Gus and Timmy.

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January 3rd
Invigorated, I slow cooked a pork leg for eight hours and set about trying to finish as much of the second half of my todo list. I ate pulled pork for dinner. The Bradism upgrade continued...

It was a nice break.


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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.


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.

Professional Pedestrian

Breakfast may have declined since the 19th Century.

Breakfast may have declined since the 19th Century.


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Sunrise

Today was always going to be the best day of the year to see a sunrise.

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With daylight savings ending tomorrow night, and a "feels like" temperature of 14°C at 7am, not to mention a public holiday - today was the day I could sleep in the longest and be the warmest while watching the sun mount the horizon and drench the landscape in pretty colours. Yes, in June the sun will again rise well after I'm out of bed, dressed and potentially even on my way to work. But today it was a beautiful, bright autumn day with nothing better to do than find a nice place to watch our nearest star reappear.

Sadly, Adelaide is not the best city in the world to watch a sunrise. You have to drive a long way in order to escape the collar of eastern mountain ranges that shield the city from daylight a few extra minutes each morning. We chose to drive to Lyndoch, and take cereal and yogurt to the trails of the former quarry up Altona road. Also, the best sunrise colours happen before sunrise, so even if you get a bit of a sleep in you ideally need to be up and out about thirty minutes before the scheduled sunrise time. And if being up and about means driving an hour out of town then even on the best day of the year to see a sunrise you'll need to be out of bed before 6AM.

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But imagine what time I'd have needed to get up in January to sit and eat breakfast at dawn at the same place. Or how cold you'd be in June.
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And don't worry if you missed it, tomorrow should be good too. Otherwise there's always next Autumn.

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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...

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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.

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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...

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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 axis 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.

Cold, Sneezy, Hot

The first day of not-winter started the same way as the first day of winter - mango and banana smoothie.

Later, when riding my bicycle, I saw some ducklings - my first of the year. The duck parents' reaction to me riding towards them was the opposite of how I felt.

What We did on our Barossa Holiday

After months of not travelling to somewhere warm over winter I decided we really needed to leave the house for a few days, and once Nash had somewhere warm and distant to sleep Vanessa and I went to the Barossa for 48 hours of intense relaxation.

Neither of us are into wine, but one of my two criteria when finding somewhere to visit was that it had a fireplace. And that's what I found in a cottage in Tanunda. Ironically we were lucky that our first day was a perfect spring preview of 25 and sunny, before freezing showers and cloudy skies gave me all the excuse I needed to pile logs onto a roaring fire.

August 29

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Our trip started in Kapunda, to kick off our holiday with a visit to a country bakery for a country Cornish pastie, and to watch the locals with their big buckled belts and cowboy hats also enjoy Cornish pasties.

The Kapunda bakery eclair was also generously proportioned.

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Next stop was Kaiserstuhl Conservation Park, one of the only places in the Barossa you can go for a decent walk without dealing with the monotony of grapevines and no sidewalks. The paths in the park weren't particularly friendly after a week of rain and little sun. While skimming puddles I did land on my arse, but it was sunny and there were lots of birds, so I didn't mind too much.
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We checked into our accommodation, then walked up the Tanunda main street, drank a coffee in the sun and shared a muffin. Dinner was two generous serves of Malaysian food. We watched a Polish movie and went to bed.

August 30

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Day two we got out for a walk before the rain started, visiting the Historic Goat Square (a sign we couldn't help but follow, unlike the sign for Historic German Farming Museum) and I ate an egg muffin with a hashbrown inside it. As photographed here by my phone's "Food Mode".
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The rain and wind chased us home, so we settled in for one of our favourite cottage pastimes - Rummy King. I had planned to spend some time at a local brewery, but after visiting and considering the proximity of their wood fire versus ours, I bought a six pack for sampling and brought it to the cottage instead. We lit the fire and I finished my book while drinking a stout in the toasty warmth. Holiday feelings accomplished.
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Shortly before sunset the rain stopped and I wandered up the Heysen Trail a little way so that I could go for a decent walk adjacent to the monotony of grapevines.
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August 31
On our final morning we woke early to visit the Barossa Sculpture Park, mainly for the cloudy view of the surrounding plains from Mengler's Hill. No offense to the sculptors. The eagle head was my favourite.

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Although I have a soft sport for Poort.
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We drove back into town for our final meal, delicious porridge and pancakes that Vanessa and I both had halves of.
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Finally it was time to meet the second criteria for my next holiday - Mini Golf with Dinosaurs at Barossa Bowland. It was a high quality course, well maintained with challenging holes and featuring dinosaurs. My ten year old self would have loved this place, and I would have beaten him easily at mini golf.
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Once the mini golf was over we spent our last dollars on the basketball game juniour, where our holiday ended perfectly with equal scores after three rounds.
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