In the office, earlier this afternoon, I was reading a whitepaper about deadlocks when an application uses a clustered database, and how to architect against them. It was interesting. I decided to get my lunch and read the rest.
I walked into the kitchen and another guy was heading for the fridge at the same time as me. He stopped and I stopped, and we both waited politely for the other person to make the first move.
This went on for 300 seconds.
In January I mentioned that I'd achieved my dream of writing a full length novel. I followed some great advice at that point, and I put that novel away in a metaphorical drawer and forgot about it. This is supposed to help you come back to a work with fresh eyes and quickly find all the things still wrong with it.
During this period of leaving it in a drawer I distracted myself by commencing work on my second novel. The more I wrote of it, the more I preferred it over my first one. The characters were stronger, the tension was more tangible, the gags were funnier.
For eight months I ignored my first work to focus on the new story. Every time I completed a writing session of frantic scribbling I walked away with increasing confidence that this story was an improvement of the first.
Last week I reached the end. The first draft - all handwritten - was complete. Since then I've changed gears, moving into second draft, type and edit mode. Untangling all my messy jottings and trying to arrange them in the right order in Scrivener.
It's been sobering. Now I'm in a place of self-doubt. I can't tell if the second book I wrote is actually any better, or if I just liked the novelty.
It was just a coincidence that Adelaide endured a spring storm with its strongest gusts during the morning of my neighbourhood's bin day. I woke up yesterday to a road of toppled wheelie bins. Many loose items for recycling were flapping, skidding and cartwheeling down the streets.
I've walked the dog four times since then, and even this afternoon some of the bins were still lying down, lids open, spreading their insides to the world. Block after block the gutters are littered with plastics and metals. Paper and cardboard has been pulped by the rain and passing cars.
What have I learnt from it all? After walking a square kilometre I now know that all my neighbours are much more similar to me than I ever realised. On the surface we're different demographics, races, cultures. Yet we all shop at the same supermarkets, we all get the same catalogues. We all throw our dockets and envelopes in the recycling even though they contain vaguely identifying information on them. Strawberries are definitely in season. We eat the same cereals and crackers and canned vegetables... Either that or the wind carried my recycling a lot further than I thought possible.
There are a couple of outliers, like the ramshackle house two streets over with a recycling bin filled to the brim with nothing but cask wine boxes. And one of my neighbours had an LPG gas cylinder in their recycling bin. Better there than in the potentially-compacted trash I suppose...
Fresh Material 2
The Future of my Wallet
This week I've been trying an experiment to replace my wallet with my phone. By this I don't mean I've saved all my cards into Android Pay, or that I'm uploading all my barcode featuring loyalty cards into Beep'nGo. I don't mean I'm only shopping at retailers that accept my 5.5% discounted Woolworths E-Gift Cards whose balance I track in Google Keep.
I simply mean that I'm putting my phone in my right pocket of my pants, and my wallet in my left pocket. The inverse of which I've done on the regular almost every day since 2004. The results so far? It's hard to undo over a decade of below-conscious programming. I've ended up with my wallet and phone in the same pocket several times, a feeling of dread like I've lost my wallet a few times more. More often than that, I've found my wallet in my right hand pocket and my phone in the left. Not even the tap-tap-walk check picks it up.
I will persevere though. It's an important challenge for me. The cable for my headphones comes out of the left hand side, and by having my phone in the right hand pocket of my pants it reduces the slack in the cord by about an inch, which is the precise amount of slack that gets caught on my thumb, door handles and draws. So yeah, if I can re-write these neurons as I want to then I'll be dealing less frequently with headphone hooking! Plus, what else am I supposed to do for excitement on office days?
I recall sitting on a hill at Flinders University about two hours from sunset one workday afternoon in Spring, 2006. I was groaning internally about how much I was hating 2006, and I was wishing it had been like 2005, which I was quite fond of.
This was strange, because in hindsight 2006 was close to the most formative of my life. I have a million crazy, vivid memories. The thing is, you can't remember back paint the same way you remember adventure.
Sometimes, in 2016, I get a nagging sense of regret that I'm wasting my life. Things feel like they've slowed down, become too routine and are ruled by metrics like calories and dollars and minutes. I feel like being spontaneous takes weeks of planning, and all my adventures have big countdown clocks looming over them the whole time.
I've reasoned with myself that when I think back to all the fun things I got up to with friends during University days it's not fair to compare them to the past winter of relative dullness (although I did spend four weeks in Europe. Christ.) After all, when I think back to the events of 2006 I'm ignoring the days, weeks, months where nothing happened except for work and back exercises and TV. My nostalgic memories only seem crammed together because they were so long ago they blended into one collage.
How foolish I felt, then, after stumbling across some old chatlogs from 2006 and discovered exactly how packed those days actually had been. Weekends and weeknights were bars, parties, beach trips and social sports all squeezed between a houseboat trip, camping and music festivals. I barely had time for one sudoku a day.
Fascinated and slightly disturbed by how apparently extroverted I'd managed to be back then, I read on. The more I reviewed of my old, late night (sometimes tipsy) rambling, the more of a personality I really don't remember having come to prominence. Events I thought I remembered clearly turned out to have happened slightly differently. I was living in a totally different reality.
A journal entry usually gets at least one or two read overs before posting. Unwritten memories get eroded and shaped by the mind every time they're accessed. Chatlogs are pretty raw. They showed me out as a young person, with all the failings I consider today's young people to have. I didn't take important things seriously. I was intentionally vapid, naive, I flat out just lacked empathy. It wasn't malicious, it just wasn't mentally developed. I think that at that age it's actually impossible for most humans to be proper adults. There's something different in the brain. Is that the cause of different realities? Is this how old people become grumpy, and disconnected from their youth?
We all live in our own realities. We're really freaking blind to it. Even your own realities from the past aren't how you remember them. I thought that was a bit scary, but I don't know how real that feeling really is.
Tuesday 27th September
6:50 I wake up when I hear the front door open and Vanessa returns home from her walk. I aim to get out of bed before the puppy runs upstairs and jumps on bed.
6:52 The puppy jumps on bed, waking me up again. I pat the puppy. I pat Vanessa.
7:15 I prepare breakfast. I cut up a bunch of strawberries. Strawberries are cheap and I eat a whole punnet. I eat them with cereal and milk. The Vanilla Yogurt shortage of 2016 has entered its third day.
7:30 I carry breakfast to the study, hoping to work on some writing for 30 minutes before work. I can't decide if I should work on Shady Slopes or Law & Odour. Windows Update has other ideas, and I watch for 20 minutes as it installs patches.
8:00 I decide to wear pants today, and not jeans. Perhaps because my shirt has blue colours in it, and it looks like a non-jumper day. I change. I put my jumper in my bag instead of wearing it.
8:15 I walk the two kilometres to the train station. I listen to the end of the new Grouplove, album, then I switch to Northeast Party House. It's Sunny, but chilly. At first I'm cold. After a few hundred metres I warm up. I feel vindicated about not wearing a jumper. A bird tries to swoop me.
8:38 I board the train. I read more of Dead Wake, which is fascinating.
8:55 I arrive at the office. I check my emails. I stretch my hamstring and my forearm.
9:30 I go outside and meet Jason for coffee. We only get coffee when we have a two-for-one shopadocket. I wonder if the coffee shop owner likes or hates us for only buying coffees with a voucher.
10:00 Back in the office I perform two code deployments.
10:30 I stretch my hamstring again. I drink some water. I listen to Krafty Kuts on PyroRadio.
11:00 I stretch my forearm. I eat an apple and nuts. I perform another code release.
12:15 During my lunchbreak I walk along the Torrens. At one point I see nine Cormorants all on the same log, floating in the river. They all have their wings spread. I leave the path to take a photo, but the birds hear me coming and they fly away.
12:45 I go to Coles on the way back to the office. The yogurt drought is over! I buy 2 tubs. There's a new two-for-one coffee voucher on my docket!
13:00 Another deployment is performed. I do some forearm stretching.
13:15 I put my lunch in the microwave for twelve minutes on medium.I do a hamstring stretch.
13:30 I eat lunch and try and find a nice bushwalk that you can bring dogs to.
14:00 Another code release.
14:30 I have a teleconference with the account manager of a DevOps Tool vendor. The call is regarding our upcoming licensing renewal. I know he mainly calls me because he knows we have thousands of servers. But I only manage thirty. I request a quote for thirty servers.
15:30 I drink another coffee. I do more forearm stretches. The afternoon stretches on without much excitement. At some point I eat a tin of tuna.
17:02 I leave the office and catch the train to the gym. I ride an exercise bike for fifteen minutes. I super-set hamstring rehab exercises with forearm rehab exercises, then hip rehab exercises with shoulder rehab exercises.
18:25 Walk home from the gym. The nights is calm. I listen to the new album by GRiZ.
19:00 Chop up a whole bunch of vegetables and a chicken breast and make some noodles in the wok. Vanessa leaves for the gym. Watch The Night Of. The dog watches too, but from the ground as her butt is wet.
21:00 Write up a log of the day's events for the journal. Try and think of a good ending for it.
23:45 Hamstring, hip and forearm stretches, then bed.