Winter in Summer

Forced myself to wake up at 6AM today in the hopes of dodging both UV and other humans on the Winter Track near Waterfall Gully. I didn't quite wake up, but we got there and I was pleased to discover that my legs were still capable of hiking up steep hills. We did four kilometres of incline and the same four down, both at a similar pace. It was nice.

image 1840 from bradism.com

This was motivated by reaching the six month mark in the countdown to our trip to the mountains of the Pacific Northwest, where we will be doing summer in winter.
I hope all the bears and moose are as apathetic about my visit as those kangaroos.


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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.


Bradism Nightly News

Performance art? I was on the afternoon train today, prime transit time, when a self-centered teen decided to listen to music through the loud speakers of his phone. The song he chose to disturb the commute of everyone else in the quiet carriage? The Sound of Silence.

I have noticed a trend of my journal entries containing less of my life lessons than they did a dozen years ago. Maybe this is because I am wiser now, though I doubt it. What I suspect is that I avoid more mistakes (which could have lead to amusing anecdotes) thanks to the magic search engine in my pocket at almost all times. But, today, I finally learnt something new through experience - because I didn't search "Will simmering a spicy, oniony curry for an hour on the stove make it harder to run?"
The answer was, yes: while cooking, the oily condensation will settle in your hair and on your forehead, and when you get up to speed in the summer evening sun the sweat will carry the chili and syn-propanethial-s-oxide down your brow and directly onto your eyeballs and you will cry not just from hamstring pain but also from self-inflicted crowd-control. (Yes, google taught me about syn-propanethial-s-oxide).

I have a new keyboard for the office now, after well meaning desk cleaners last year coated my old, wireless keyboard with cleaning liquid and wiped it down with a wet rag. I ordered a mid-range, LED back-lit mechanical gaming keyboard, which I convinced financial approvers was necessary for my work. It wasn't actually a lie. It's hard to find a full-size keyboard with a wrist support and media controls these days and the cherry-brown keys do increase my typing speed a little bit.
I turned off the back-lighting, even though I predict it will actually save my work money after about twelve months of my increased typing efficiency. It's unfortunate that they the manufacturer needed to mention gaming in the product name at all. I will not be gaming on this keyboard, unless blasting stuck java virtual machines with force restart commands, or navigating vying political agendas in multiple-recipient emails counts as gaming. It kind of does, if you don't take it seriously, but there's never a high score.

(After a couple of minutes and a few excellently filled out rows of a spreadsheet I turned the LED back-lights back on.)

image 1842 from bradism.com

Summer Playlist 2018

For everybody hanging out for my Summer 2018 playlist, the wait is over.

Tunes for driving home from the beach in your Skooda, trying out new gyms, watching cricket with the sound off, the third hour of role-playing board-games, walking before 7:30 am and the UV comes out to get you, eating overripe stone fruit.


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I Maintain

I try to keep my mind out of the toilet, but with the fill valve hissing intermittently I felt compelled to use precious weekend free time in there to remove, disassemble and clean the inner components of my cistern. I felt like I should tackle it before it whistled and burbled all the way to Friday evening, and the toilet bowl risked the same fate as my smoke alarm.

image 1844 from bradism.com

Alas, I did not fix my fill valve, or my dripping shower, or my unlatching front door, or grease the chain in my garage. I even failed to replace the battery in my key remote, after buying the wrong size. Being an adult is a pain in the arse. Every weekend it feels like a struggle just to maintain the status quo. Backs get sorer, maintenance issues build up, and the handicap the following weekend is even harder. You sit there, covered in toilet water, wondering if this is supposed to get easier.

The answer is, probably. Five years is the longest I’ve spent living in/being responsible for the same house. If you ever pull apart or unscrew the back off of anything in this world you’ll most likely find an intricate collection of components with a maximum lifespan somewhere between two to ten years. In the same way that I can maintain my words, my computer, my diet after ten, twenty, thirty years of experience I bet that by the time I reach forty everything in my house will have worn, cracked, shifted or torn and I’ll have watched enough YouTube tutorials to find the solution (and then paid a professional to fix my attempt at it). And then the next time it happens I’ll know what to do. It won’t be so hard. I’ll be able to say, oh there’s probably dog hair in that, or, yup, there’s definitely dog hair up there.

Problem solved.

Exchange Rates

Ibises in the bush.

Due to 2019's increasing uncertainty, a bird in the hand is now worth three in the bush.

Homeowner

Groupon had a coupon for $20 worth of credit at the arcade available for $10, and I used a discount code to further reduce the cost to $9, and used cashback tracking to ensure I receive a further $1.23 cashback after the sixty day waiting period passes. So that's 61.15% off the sticker price for air hockey, basketball toss, and gator spank. This kind of financial ingenuity is exactly why I've paid off my mortgage in just under five years.

Not having kids may also have helped.

And I didn't even include the value of potential ticket prizes in the above calculations!

Why Be A Writer When You Could Be A Plumber?

In March last year I started the draft of A Fish Out Of Water, a short story about a cynical, children-hating superhero being forced to babysit her nephew whilst trying to save the world. It ended up being around 8,800 words and came out of my brain over the course of a couple of weeks. Maybe an hour of plotting, twelve hours of handwriting, another twelve hours of typing and editing, a few more hours of proofreading. Over the course of four visits to Writer’s Group in March/April I read the story, incorporated feedback. I submitted it to two Sci Fi magazines in the US in April, May 2018 and received swift rejections. On May 30 I submitted it to its eventual home, Andromeda Spaceways magazine, where it stayed on a slush pile (with several progress updates) until finally in November, it was confirmed they would like to publish it. I was extremely grateful! They even paid me $88 Australian for something I totally just made up (a little bit was inspired by Captain Planet). Three weeks later, it was available for purchase and my name was on the cover.

In March last year I noticed my shower was dripping a lot more and my strategy of changing the washer every few weeks and turning it off really tight was not working. In December I asked for plumber recommendations and in the second week of January a plumber arrived, re-faced my tap seats and “serviced” the hot and cold tap. This took him about fifteen minutes, and he charged me $104 Australian.

I know, there’s more to a plumber’s work than the fifteen minutes he spent in my house. He needs to pay for that drill, his van, his ice-coffees, his insurance for when he accidentally ruptures a valve and floods someone’s basement with sewage. I had a lot of fun writing A Fish Out of Water. Probably way more fun than he does fixing toilets, replacing pipes or using the drain snake robot. Actually the drain snake robots are pretty cool...

You might think there’s a moral to this story, which is to be a plumber and not a writer. Twist - actually, there’s not a twist. If you want to make money you should be a plumber. Surprise Twist - imagine if you made $104 for fifteen minutes of work, you could do an hour or two a day and that would leave you with a lot of spare time for... Writing! I think it’s a winning strategy. $408 an hour for plumbing, and $2.90 an hour for writing prose averages out to $210 an hour if you balance them. Once you get enough writing credits and a three book deal with a big four publisher maybe then you can stop sticking your hands down people’s toilets.
You don’t have to be a plumber, I guess. Any kind of occupation to keep your hands busy should ideally support and provide a way to engage your creative side. And nothing helps procrastination like knowing your creative time is limited to your work breaks. It works for me, at least. Aldous Huxley once said, “Perhaps it's good for one to suffer. Can an artist do anything if he's happy?” Perhaps it’s true, but can an artist do anything if their shower or toilet is broken and they can’t afford to fix it? I'm not sure.

The Hottest Day Since January 2019

Before lunchtime today I was in the bathrooms at work applying SPF 50 sunscreen to my face and neck.
“Going for a walk?” Someone asked.
“If we're going to set a new heat record today,” I said. “I want to say I was there. I'm going out to see what it's like.”
For those who stumble upon this entry in the future, or if I add a feature to sort entries by maximum temperature, this is what it was like: It was hot.

In 2004, during a brutal but not the most brutal heatwave Adelaide has ever seen, there was talk on the news about breaking the 1939 record. To which my step-grandfather scoffed. He'd said they'd got through the ‘39 heatwave fine, with no air-conditioning, living in a tin shed. As he said this I realised that he actually lived through the 1930s and remembered the heatwave. I was impressed. At the time I could barely remember what the weather had been like the previous weekend. This was before I added the weather feature to my journal, and at a time where I did too much binge drinking.
On that day I said to myself, I want to live through the hottest day on record. I want to regale young people about the experience and force them to pay attention to me.

I did it.

image 1848 from bradism.com

Now in 65 years I can tell people (or robots) that the streets were nearly empty. The gym was empty. The free cold water being handed out at the train station was lukewarm. I came home to Vanessa making hot chips in the oven. The seaweed along the length of the beach was cooking in the sun.

Who am I kidding, the way the planet is going we'll beat this record again a lot sooner than we'd like to. I give it less than a decade. I have a wedding coming up in February where I need to wear a three piece suit on the beach. It'll probably be broken then.

Those Left Behind

My short story "Those Left Behind" is featured in a new anthology of stories about abandoned buildings and empty places. It's one I wrote a while ago, but it's good to find a home for it - even if that home might be deserted...