One Hundred Years of Solitude

I won my three month battle with Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude today. I sat my lunchbreak out by the Torrens sans jumper reading the last few pages as Spring sun alternated between clouds. Temperatures fluctuated. It's hard to say if I recommend the 1982 Nobel Prize for literature book, it was pretty heavy reading. Admittedly my reading fitness isn't as good as it was a couple of years ago, but it felt like I was reading through sludge at times. Also tricky about this book is it flows like crazy for the first few chapters and thankfully the last. For it, though, is the epic tale of the meaning of life, history and the joy of symbolism.
Also for a book about solitude it sure has a shitload of characters, all with practically the same name. I guess it's not a very good book to read in drabs over three months.


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ONE THOUSAND

I've been trying to think for a couple of days what I should do to commemorate my 1000th entry. Something epic? Do something dramatic in real life and then document it? Run through my favourite moments starting in the Hackey Central Times archives and working my way up to 2009? Embed mp3s that don't mean anything to most people in between paragraphs? Post an image macro or animated gif of balloons and streamers? Nostalgia? Ramble on about the progression of my blog in a bout of thinly veiled narcissism?

I recently sent my brother - currently serving in Afghanistan - a 'People Should Care About My Life' bradism.com t-shirt. He mentioned that people quite liked it, indicating to me that entertainment is in short supply over there. Then it made me self-conscious because many new people might be reading my pithy ramblings. People whose greatest risk on their walk to work would far out-shadow my biggest obstacle of not treading in swan shit on the footpath.

I considered pulling a few stunts or writing some pseudo-essays to justify my URLs existence in a warzone. But in reflection - and with no weight to laziness - I remembered why I came up with that motto. Because this website was supposed to be narcissistic and pointless. I think... it was all so long ago. Whichever way you look at it, 1000 entries of mainly introverted, narcissistic rambling is an effort!

It may have taken over five years, but my commitment to something so egotistical and irrelevant to everyone but me deserves recognition! This is top-level Maslow Hierarchy shit! No matter how much of a head start culture, genes and society can give you being able to stand on top of that pyramid a thousand times can't be easy, there's a lot of hard work behind the scenes. And it all went towards this! 1000 entries. People should care about my life! Only because it's needed to justify a blog. As for reality, I'll come to that in entry 2000.

Also I'm not sure this longish entry has a worthwhile payoff, so here's a funny picture.

image 599 from bradism.com

Finally, thanks to everyone who's ever commented. You give me hope my motto can be achieved.

September

I don't have a religion. I'm not a member of any social clubs, political groups, knitting circles or even sports teams at the moment. I have hobbies and interests whose priorities I interchange everytime procrastination rears. I don't really have an outlet for passion in anything I do. I wouldn't even have a problem giving up working in IT for the rest of my life if an economical alternative presented itself. There's no browser, programming language or operating system I feel the need to be fanatical about. My passion outlet, the one thing I am fanatical about without having any direct control over, is football. I love the Western Bulldogs.

I'm not even sure how I became so enamored with a club from a region that neither I or relative have any connection to. Particularly given they're so unsuccessful and unrewarding to follow. All I know is that I pay hundreds each year to watch them, be a member of their organisation and attend their games.

I am emotionally invested. It's why I get so jittery on week's like this, where they actually play finals and I have to decide whether I should believe that they have a chance. It's like a financial investment, imagine that you put $100 every month into shares of a company that have released two financial reports in the past decade. You'll get antsy.

Nevertheless, they lost today. Despite everything I did to try and not jinx them. I feel disappointed by the Bulldogs, but not let down. Like I was their Dad and they spent every hour talking about the game at home this week. Then when it was time to play they tried but didn't win. I feel like they did their best and didn't win, but we're not going to Pizza Hut on the way home.

Progress

I am hopefully ten weeks away from being able to look at myself in the mirror and give myself the finger.


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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?

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King of the Hill and its intertwinement with my life

Well, I almost teared up this evening watching the series finale of King of the Hill. I’m pretty sure I’ve seen all 255 episodes now, which makes it the longest running, completed television series I’ve ever watched. And with nothing I can find worth writing about at the moment I decided to study the role King of the Hill has played in my life.

I remember in the summer of 1997-98 when series one was broadcast on Channel 7 like a worthy competitor to the Simpsons. This being the prime era of the Simpsons this competition was obviously not going to succeed. I don’t think Mike Judge intended to win the mantle of number 1 animated family either. King of the Hill started as, and has remained, a character driven show. One of the first animated character-driven shows I can recall, really. I mean this was back when Ron Howard was mainly spending his time being nostalgic about Happy Days. King of the Hill was never about comic relief and sight gags as much as it was about building characters and working off them. That said, King of the Hill really could have died about four years ago without losing much.

So, from 1997 I remember one joke with clarity. Peggy Hill, the uptight southerner dealing with teaching a progressive sex-ed class at the local high school while being so repressed that she was unable to speak aloud the terms for genitals. And seeing her psych herself up by staring at herself in the mirror and saying "Happiness... Happy-ness. Happy-nesss. Hap-penis. Ha Penis. Penis. VAAAGINA!"
The word happiness lost meaning for me that day. I was a 13 year old boy, I obviously didn’t have the same appreciation for King of the Hill’s subtleties then that I do now. In fact it took another seven years for King of the Hill to start resonating with me, in 2004 at a time when it started appearing in the most convenient of places in my daily schedule. At 5pm, when I was getting home from uni and having pre-nightfill dinner, at 11pm on Monday’s when I’d get home from Nightfill and reheat tea or a packet of cocktail wieners, and at 5am on Fox at about the time I would figure it was time for bed. I think the last point has something to do with my affection for it; there was a time in my life where King of the Hill was my daily lullaby.

King of the Hill doesn’t just get love for affection, at its peak it always guaranteed a funny moment. My favourite episode was when Hank Hill accidentally became a pimp, an episode I’ve seen only once at 5am as the sun came up and I remember being in hysterics as the closing credits played, remixed into a seventies funk theme after Hank Hill saved his wife from another Pimp who despite being white in the show was actually voiced by Snoop Dogg. There have been other lines, "I'm so white, during the riots I went out and bought a television"; "That’s my purse! I don’t know you!" Pure genius. I’m sure Mike Judge is happy that his legacy won’t be Beavis and Butthead Do America.

In 2006 after I got a real job with normal working hours, and a bigger download limit I reached the point where I was up to new episodes of King of the Hill and for the next three years during its seasons every Monday night after work I would come home to King of the Hill. By that stage its quality had dropped dramatically, but it was still more entertaining than nothing and I always found Monday nights to be the hardest to fall asleep on so my lullaby it became again.

There are some specific and vivid moments I recall that are intertwined with King of the Hill. An evening at Graham’s Castle in Goolwa comes to mind. I watched an episode while drunk with many of my sober friends, who found me annoying. But that was a great day. That night after Nightfill where I ate the whole packet of expired cocktail wieners over a double episode. And the DB1 assignment which I did over more than a day of awakeness and, once it was complete instead of immediately going to sleep I watched the episode that was on first. More recently, I watched episodes I’d downloaded and encoded for my phone. I watched part of season 13 while I spent the night in hospital with my wrist in plaster. And another on the plane flying to Townsville to see Steve march out before Afghanistan. And tonight, after getting home from umpiring basketball finals and watching the final episodes with trepidation while my girlfriend sleeps on the couch in our house. In thirteen years of many changes King of the Hill has been a solid, modest marker of stability. And now, like so many other things from the first quarter-century of my life, it’s gone.

Dialogue

Maydale
Dale and I were victims of the Global Financial Crisis. The GFC, because we always use abbreviations in IT.
'There are two important Business Process concepts I learnt a uni,' I told Dale. It was mid-morning and we were in the kitchenette. Salary freezing had driven our coffee strolls bankrupt and we now lengthened procrastination by getting coffee at the same time, to maximize the amount we would have to wait for each other to get out of the way in the narrow kitchenette.

'The first is the concept of the critical path. That is, start to finish, the core of the project lifecycle. Every task on the critical path has to be completed in order for the next task to start. You add the expected length of all those tasks together and you get your estimated time for a project.'
Dale was pumping the peculator like he was stroking a small dog, trying to coax coffee from the cylinder without it making any aggressive gurgling sounds that would indicate to those in earshot someone might be finishing the batch... And someone might not be making the next lot.

'Like, imagine making the coffee is your project. The critical path is: get the beans out the cupboard, 30 seconds. Put them in the grinder and grind, three minutse. Add water and wait for percolation, five minutes. Fill up cup, 30 seconds. Drink coffee, five minutes.
'But some task like finding a mug, or putting milk in it, that's not critical. You can do it while the beans are grinding. Or while the machine does the filtering. And it only takes twenty seconds, so you're flexible. You can space out watching the red light flash for a minute or two and then get the mug.'
'Wow,' said Dale, surprised to discover I actually knew how to make coffee. 'I thought the passive-aggressive "are you a coffee parasite" poster was targeted at you.'

'The second thing,' I ignored him 'is the concept of slack. In an organisation every person is like a rope. Depending on the size of the object, the more ropes you have tied to it, the less that need to be taut to drag the object towards you.'
We walked between cubicles to our desks, motoring slowly to not spill brimming mugs.
'However, that's all changed now.'
'It has?' Dale asked?
'Stock markets have crashed, consumer confidence is low, and everyone has less money. Now is not the time to not be on the critical path.'
'Or what?'
'Remember the pot-plants?' I said. 'The ones which were next to the pillars on each floor? You know where they are now?'
'Gone' realised Dale.
'Not on the critical path. Do you know who's filtering out CO2 for the reverse cycle airconditioning?'
'No' said Dale.
'You and me. You, me and everyone. Add it to our list of tasks. There's less ropes now, less acceptability for give. You need to be taut.'
'Or else become like the pot plants...'
'Exactly.'
Dale breathed in deeply.

Massive Storage

This morning I received an email from Reception saying I had a package. I went upstairs and found this massive thing.

image 600 from bradism.com


The text on the box reads:

You'll like what's NOT in this carton
You'll like what you don't see: NO plastic peanuts, NO polyfoam. NO loose mess - nothing that isn't concious of our environment.

This carton is made from recycled materials. We recycle our own cardboard and paper to form part of the recycled cardboard used to manufacture cartons.

How noble! Inside, rattling all around in an environmentally friendly way was this:

image 601 from bradism.com


My new toy, a One Terabyte external Hard Drive. One terabyte is so ridiculously much. It wasn't that long ago I pulled a 560 meg HDD out of an old PC to slave to my overflowing 1.2 gig disk. Later that year my Dad bought me a 30 gig and I experienced what I think was the data equivalent of being thrown into the middle of a football-stadium sized room of soft pillows.
Now the sensation is similar, but I'm a little older so I'm now repping all these extra gigabytes like an old guy sitting on a deck chair in the middle of the bush sipping a Merlot and watching a few kangaroos bound around afar at sunset.

Also, not naming any company names, but it's apparently too expensive to have a recycling policy. So I had to fold up the giant cardboard box and squeeze it into a tiny, plastic waste paper bin. Fortunately the guy next to me was away sick today.

Not Pretty Enough

Since Thursday some time I've had two journal entries in my head for tonight, one for if the Bulldogs won and one for if the Bulldogs got thrashed.

I guess I was hoping - and I'm not saying life has been rough lately, but - with all the injury crap and work crap I've put up with the last 12 months I was hoping some of that energy might be channeling into the Bulldogs. Like, SURPRISE! Remember 2009? When you got railroaded into a shitty job and couldn't even lift weights or play basketball to relieve the stress? Remember it good, because that's when the Dogs won the premiership.

As discussed in a previous entry, I know I take following that team far too seriously in lieu of other passions, but it's for the best. My heart-rate was triple what any normal person's would be like watching the TV on a Friday night. I probably burned 1000 calories. At the same moment Vanessa fell asleep.

Still, I'm proud of my team. As someone who's been on basketball teams who finished top only to plummet out in finals, I know that failure and commitment don't correlate. There's always next year. When I wake up it will no longer be Winter.