At work there's this annoying guy who keeps coming to meetings. He spouts the most uninspiring drivel I've ever heard. "We need to improve the integrity of our metric collection so that we can track improvements more reliably over time." "It's vital that we standardise our approach across all services within the organisation to decrease the complexity of maintenance in the future."
It's all so airy and vapid. "Consider the risk profile in comparison to the associated maintenance project budgets for this financial year." This is the interesting stuff that he says. The duller interjections he makes are so boring I doubt he even remembers the details a sentence or two later.
This person is, obviously, me.
When I think about society and the bad things, like corruption, and oppression, and bigotry I feel so frustrated and upset and powerless. So I don't think about them.
Almost everything is back to normal since my return from extra summer to Adelaide winter. All the old routines are running, except for my nightly backups.
See, before I left the house for a month I hid important things in obscure places for extra security. Not the best thing to do in the post-procrastination frenzy that took place in the hours before the airport. I found my car keys inside a Lego truck the day after we got back, and my supermarket rewards cards were with my socks. They were easy. But it was only today, five weeks after returning, that I found where I hid my external hard drive - it was in my office in the city. I guess I'd really been worried about a fire wiping out my MP3s and those sitcom episodes I wrote in high school.
A Tip for Cutting Up Pumpkin
Last weekend I came up with a tip for cutting up a pumpkin. I'll journal about it here, because one of the things I like about this website is reading entries years later and seeing the lessons I learnt.
My advice is, you don't need a whole pumpkin. Not for two people. That's too much pumpkin.
Sure, when it's less than a dollar per kilo, it might not seem like buying half a pumpkin is the smart option. Otherwise you have to open the fridge an extra two times. And you might not make as much puree as you need. Better to have excess puree. Buying a full pumpkin makes the most sense.
No, ignore that thought. Not unless you've got the stamina and concentration needed to dice a whole pumpkin in a single standing. There's a lot of hardy skin to cut through, a lot of time to stand at a kitchen bench with your hand covered in pumpkin residue. Your back and legs will fatigue. Wear gloves, that's another piece of advice. And use hand sanitiser on the wound. Change the dressing every few days to make sure there's no signs of infection. After about a month everything should be back together. I hope. I'm only basing that on a similar tip I gave when cutting through a bagel in 2014.
Opening after Closing Ceremony
I can't believe another Olympics has flown by, and with its passing comes another opportunity to ignore the athletes and instead reflect on the past four years since the last one from my own perspective. This will hopefully go better than last Olympics' census night.
So much has changed in my world, and in the world, since 2012. Unlike the results of the Men's 100 Metres which was again identical.
Since the last Olympics I have (un)moved states, changed jobs, become a dog owner, and become more career focussed - at least from an outside perspective. I have achieved my Olympics resolutions of owning real estate, visiting Europe, and walking my dog. My goal of getting something published in somewhere took a backseat to my career focussed from an outside perspective achievement, however, I am the third-leading contributor (in terms of lines committed) to a popular open source Puppet module on GitHub - that must count for something.
I haven't climbed Mount Kosciuszko, not even a little bit. I think I might have been drunk when I came up with some of those resolutions…
A lot more little things have happened in the past Olympics. I finished a manuscript, over 80,000 words. The only thing left is to build a drawer into my desk so I can print it out, staple it together, and leave it there until I die.
I changed cars again. And phones. I also went to the USA, and to New Zealand about 10 times. I learnt how to make bagels, pretzels, pide, and Spanish omelettes. I saw Federer at the Australian Open and Tim Duncan at Madison Square Garden.
I now have a Spotify and a Netflix membership. I'm on Snapchat and Instagram. I'm connected by network fibre to the world wide web, and I've had my first colonoscopy.
Some things haven't changed since London though, like my marriage to Vanessa which goes on strong. And this website, which hasn't had any new features since before some of China's Rio gymnasts were born. I also play Scramble With Friends with about the same frequency as four years ago. My train trips are now shorter, but my bathroom breaks a little longer.
My resolution for the next Olympics - do whatever I want, really. Try a bit harder to write something people want to read. Maybe make a new friend. Be more spontaneous. Sign up for an expensive credit card with an awesome rewards program.
It was 1997 when Regurgitator's Unit was released. Almost twenty years ago. I liked it then, though I never bought it.
More recently I added it to my offline music in Spotify, and I listened to it on a couple of nighttime walks. I realised something I never could have thought of as a thirteen year old: This album is the most concise summary of the feelings I have about being in your thirties.
I don't think that was intended by the band. Most people probably won't feel that way. But the more I listened to it the more I recognised my feelings and attitudes reflected in the music coming out of my headphones. It started from the opening track. I like your old stuff better than your new stuff. It was an immediate assault on any feelings of nostalgia for the past. Half 80s synths, and half faux-future voice effects - it was a middle finger to complaints about change. Yeah, I probably did come up with better stuff when I was younger, but before anyone can complain about it, fuck you.
Then the punchy riffs of Everyday Formula kick in and again I feel a strong affinity for the message.
"Everyday I shit into the sea. It's strange but it doesn't mean much to me."
The detachment from modern life is masked perfectly by the poppy melody and cheery background hums. Nothing in this song is a complaint, it's an observation. "My whole world's cheap and phony," but, "It's going to be alright."
I mean, at no point in listening to this album do I think, man, this lyrics are poetic and deep. But the delivery just sticks to me.
"I don't go to parties cause people tend to freak me out. Watch their lips to work it out. I can hear the words but I still don't know what it's all about," begins the next track. The meaning of this song is really about dancing in your lounge room. However, I find the introverted perspective relatable, and the accompanying bouncy funk to perfectly present this perspective as okay. Not just okay, struttable. In my twenties I used to feel a little ashamed of how much I disliked being in loud, noisy environments where I was supposed to be having fun. Now I love that I know what I like in a social event. Lower volumes, smaller crowds.
The rest of the album goes from strength to strength covering topics that are still relevant in 2016. Topics such as materialism, over-sexualisation, exploitation, digital dependence and depression are sung about. The attitude is not one of anger or apathy or anything else strong, really. They're just more observations or non-preachy lessons. Suggestions about what maybe could be better about life if we wanted a utopian society, but as someone in their thirties there's a really familiar lack of personal responsibility to change anything. As it says in Mr T: "I take freedom's path and I'll let my life be. Soul dedication to all my realities... It's the way it's meant to be."
I feel like the underlying message of Unit is that, we all know our world could be better if we worked together (I mean, the album's name alone is possibly proof of that), but ultimately, the young can't change anything and the older people (that is, over thirties) are too self-involved to cause any kind of revolution. As it goes in I Piss Alone, "I need a place where I can close and lock the door. There I can stop and let it flow."
It's a great album, which has aged about as well as I have I guess.
Weekend Post Workout Sunshine Tunes
They say every day is a gift, but I'm notoriously tricky to buy for.
I've been making the same style of curry for work lunches basically every second week for years now. I've been refining for a long time, and I've got it down to an art. I'm amazed I haven't posted about it before.
Making it isn't particularly complicated, or require any special ingredients or techniques. There's just a few tips and tricks that turn this curry from sustenance to daily lunchtime happiness.
For my birthday I decided the gift I really wanted was a twenty litre stock pot. I didn't realise how easy they were to find, and this would increase the amount of bulk curry I could make at once. As you'll read, this meal is all about efficiency, and increasing my pot size was only going to improve that further.
For context, here's a photo of my new pot with my old pot inside it.
The old pot made about 12-15 meals, so I expected this one to make around 24-30. The following photos are from the first time I used it. I underestimated how many ingredients I could fit in there.
Now, if you're interested, follow along and learn the way to make your own bulk bradism curry.
There are a few staple ingredients that you'll need:
A jar of curry paste (doesn't matter what brand, so long as it's not a sauce.)
The rest of what goes in is up to you. Whatever meat and vegetables are on special, basically. Depends on the season I'm usually adding some of the following: sweet potato, potato, capsicum, cabbage, celery, green beans, peas, pumpkin, cauliflower. I also add multiple cans of drained lentils, legumes, chick peas. Meat is usually chicken or beef, sometimes turkey mince.
You can chop most things reasonably large, about 1-2cm cubes or pieces. The cooking process is slow and ingredients that are too small will get ruined. You also don't need to prepare all the ingredients before you start cooking. The long cook time means you can prepare the meat and lighter vegetables while the gravy and potatoes is cooking.
First pro-tip: put the chopped up potato and sweet potato into a microwave-proof bowl. Before cooking, add about 20-30mls of water to the bowl, cover with a paper towel and microwave for about 10 minutes on medium-low heat. Stir through occasionally. This will be the difference of the potatoes being fluffy and soft, or hard and chewy.
0:00 - I don't use any extra oil, I just crack open the curry paste and tip the oil from the top of the jar into the pan. Fry the onion and chili on medium heat using that oil. It's better to cook the onion and chili from cold. Don't wait for the oil to heat up. If you do, small bits of onion and chili will jump off the surface when they hit the heat.
5:00 - Once the onion and chili is softening, add the rest of the jar of paste and dump in your microwaved potatoes. Stir vigorously to bash the potato against the surface of the pot, and this helps fry the outsides a little. When the ingredients start to stick add tinned tomatoes to form a gravy. If you have any dried legumes or dried lentils you can add them now too. Tinned ones wait for later.
10:00 - Put the heat on low and leave to simmer with the lid on.
Allow for ten minutes of simmering. Stir occasionally You can chop the next vegetables at this stage. Ingredients like cabbage and celery will be next in, as they take longer to wilt and soften.
20:00 - When the time is up, add the drained beans and the cabbage, celery.
Allow for another ten minutes of simmering and more stirring. The exact amount of stirring, heat comes down to instinct and practice. It can't be too cold, but don't let the pot boil. If it's too dry add more tomatoes, but remember that celery and cabbage will produce a lot of moisture as they cook.
30:00 - After the second phase of simmering you can add the remaining soft vegetables unless they're frozen. Frozen vegetables should wait until the very end.
Stir through the new vegetables and simmer another five-to-ten minutes. You can use this time to cut up the meat.
You can also use this time to start the rice, if cooking it with the absorption method.
35:00 - Start the rice and wait for it to boil, then turn down the heat and crack the lid. This is the point to add the meat and the frozen vegetables. Simmer both the curry and the rice. The curry should be bubbling but not boiling. The meat will seal and cook slowly, just enough for safety, but not so much that it dries out when microwaved.
45:00 - The rice should be done now. The curry too. Taste a potato and some vegetables and make sure they're not too underdone. A little bit of freshness is perfect, because they will finish cooking during reheating. Dish up the curry and rice into containers. If you have done the stirring and simmering correctly you should see no burning at the bottom.
I only got eighteen meals out of this batch. I didn't get close to the top of my pot. I could definitely have fit another two cabbages in there. Next time.
The final secret is, when microwaving this for lunch tomorrow, follow these steps for the best experience:
First, open the curry and splash a small amount of water (10-20ml), then stir the water to the bottom of the mix. The water will add extra steam when cooking and soften the vegetables. Complete the stirring by carving a hole in the middle of the mix, like it's a donut in the container. This allows better heat transfer.
Cover the container with a paper towel, this also helps with steaming and prevents any precious bit from spitting out into the office microwave.
Put the power down to medium-high or medium, depending on the wattage of your microwave. Set it up for ten minutes and let the curry cook. Stir every 3 minutes. If you hear chick peas exploding or anything else popping, that means the power level is too high.
When the microwaving is done there should be slight simmering within the container of the liquid. And it should be hot. At this point your coworkers may comment on how good your lunch smells, and you can tell them it's just paste out of a jar. That's it!