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Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

Posted April 13 by John Birmingham

Big surprise, but I’ve been eating out in cafes and restaurants a lot of less recently. Well, okay, not at all. But I’ve been spending a lot more money at one of my local haunts than I ever did before the plague.

There’s a place down the hill from us which used to be a French Twist franchise but the owners struck out on their own and now it’s called Fiddeleaf. (I think that’s some kind of tree reference).

We used to stop in on Saturday mornings while walking the dog. I’d grab a coffee and something light to eat. Very light, because I had jujitsu a couple of hours later. I’m now dropping way more money there every week because they’ve set the kitchen to producing take-away-friendly boxed meals. Pies, lasagne, moussaka and so on. We suggested they try some gnocchi bakes and spanakopita - which they did, along with enchiladas and stuff that can be easily carried way and reheated at leisure.

Apparently it’s going well for them.

I was thinking this morning as I walked the dog and grabbed my coffee, that the smaller, simpler food places in the burbs are the ones best suited to adaptation. Their business was never about plating up beautifully realised objet d’art. They just fed people.

The sort of restaurants I loved to eat, the fussy, obsessive providers of food as drama, have a bigger gear change to negotiate. They have to pivot from creating these delicate, intricate works of culinary magic, to boxing up a couple of kilograms worth of carbs and protein in a fridge-friendly manner.

I hope they can do it, because I love those places and I want them to be there when this is all over.

But it’s a hard ask.

It makes me wonder how many other changes are working their through the world, unseen. Will anyone who’s had the experience of exercising at home but with real focus, be all that willing to stump up for gym membership in a couple of months? I’m keen to get back to my trainer, but my membership at Goodlife? Meh, not so much.

Maybe home fitness becomes a much bigger thing. Maybe home cooking too.

Maybe not.

I think telepresence is here to stay. Not just videoconferencing for work, but for catching up with friends at a distance. Interstate, internationally, whatever. Perhaps that in turn has effects on the broadband internet market. And on laptop cameras, which are all garbage because the cult of thinness doesn’t allow for big chunky lenses.

Does Face ID fade away in a world where everyone has to wear a mask for two years? What happens to OPEC when the west stops driving to work?

In my own dodge, do people buy more ebooks, or audio, or simply hook Netflix up to their cortex. I’d guess the latter, but all of the steamers will run out of new content within a couple of months… and nobody is currently making anymore.

On a personal note I got a call today saying all Nine/Fairfax contributors were being cut, at least for now, so there’s no more Blunty to write. No idea whether it will ever come back, but I assume not. I reckon that will be my last news column for anyone.

But obviously not the last thing I write for money.

So I’d better get back to it.

32 Responses to ‘Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes’

Abe Frellman would have you know...

Posted April 13
I’m taking much joy in preparing food for the family, planning what meals I can build and then rework from leftovers, what ingredients I can get delivered, and what will require an early morning lighting raid on one of the Big Two before work. I’ve found a local deli that is expanding its grocery and veg lines so I’ve been supporting that, even though it sometimes sees me pay overs. (What is it about broccoli at the moment?)

I’ve also found that I’m spending my readies on mail order a little more deliberately - buying beer and other stuff from my favourite craft breweries and distilleries. It’s not like there won’t be someone home to take delivery 24/7.

I’ve also taken to buying gift vouchers from the local businesses I want to see though this. It’s my way of saying I am happy to stand next to you (well 1.5 metres away) knowing that I’ll be an unsecured creditor if the worst happens.

I find that helping others and providing for my family are things I can tap into on the hardest days at work...and there have been more of those this time around than in the depths of the GFC.

Maybe I’m just less oblivious this time around. Or maybe it’s because I see us buying more toxic stuff this time around. It’s pretty fucked. The Federal Reserve seems to be hell bent on buying everything that isn’t screwed down so I’m not sure how this plays out. If Bernie Sanders hadn’t have capitulated recently I would have guessed he’d be a chance to get in and try out Modern Monetary Theory (helicopter money funded by Treasury bonds that get bought by the Fed and then cancelled/forgiven).

Didn’t work in the Weimar Republic but who knows.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted April 13
Yeah, been meaning to do some vouchers , but with no more column money coming in, I’ll probably be economising until i can spin up some new ebook income.

Halwes asserts...

Posted April 14
Maybe revive the subscription thing but just make it once a week.? This would save you having to come up with something to a deadline. I got some of the best laughs and clarity on issues ever out of those articles. Maybe include limited access to some of your other content as a sweetener?

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 14
It's an idea I've been toying with, but those columns were very time intensive. Still, I may yet have to go back there.

she_jedi asserts...

Posted April 14
I'd happily pay for a Blunty level of column each week if that helps? :)

Abe Frellman asserts...

Posted April 18
JB: “...but those columns were very time intensive.”

Time to get an apprentice or two, JB. Pay them 50 cents a word, edit their copy yourself and then churn out a Sideboob article every day... then increase the sub from $50 per annum to $5/week.

Sell cameo roles to narcissistic despicable Republicans like Boylan and maybe do the odd product placement for Ansell condoms or Judo Bank loans.

Surely your time in the Nine Deathstar rubbed off a little?

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted April 19
These are all excellent ideas, would you like a million dollar consultancy fee?

Abe Frellman mumbles...

Posted April 19
To be honest I’d love one. But I’d settle for a top-up for whatever Alan Jones convinces the Government I no longer deserve to be paid.

Actually I’d do it for the opportunity to write a column or two (gratis) when the time is right.

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insomniac would have you know...

Posted April 13
We're going down the route of supporting local small businesses as much as possible, so butchers mainly for now but we mean to expand that to restaurants too, although we are eating much more at home, and healthier too, so the kilos are beginning to drop off. I might need a weight sustaining pizza from time to time if this trend continues.

The big two are going to survive this no matter what, so I want the best of what we have around here to be there too once this is closer to normal again.

In the IP field the US had a big rise in abandoned patent applications, curiously in late 2019 to early Feb, well before the world turned to custard, and many more than were experienced during the GFC, so I need to keep an eye out for something similar here. It's not apparent yet, but if it does happen it means less cash picked up at later stages in a patent's lifecycle, so belts will have to tighten and peeps will lose their jobs, probably well after the peak of this pandemic.

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Halwes mutters...

Posted April 13
I've been wondering how many people will go back to poker machines. I suppose that some people went straight on line to punt however it is much easier to lose money online because the venue never shuts down. A mate said that they would be back as soon as the pubs reopen but I think a lot of them would have gone broke online long before that and may not have the finances to return to pub punting.
I'm also wondering what effect this will have on babies. Babies wont be cuddled by as many relatives and people who just love babies as much. The parents will still cuddle them for sure but I wonder what the cuddle / contact deficit will do to their development.

she_jedi swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 13
Gosh your question about babies is really thought provoking.

I'm sure I read somewhere that online gambling has skyrocketed since the pandemic hit. Afterwards, if they still have money to gamble will they find the hit of gambling in a pub or a casino as thrilling as the hit they've been getting online? Or will they stick with the convenience and endorphin rush of gambling online instead?

John Birmingham mumbles...

Posted April 13
I’ve been wondering how the junkies will score.

Halwes asserts...

Posted April 14
Your time on the streets in Sydney, some of the most intelligent journalism I've ever read on the subject by the way, would tell you that they'll still do OK. I wonder how the sex workers will ply their trade since the two are inextricably linked.

Halwes has opinions thus...

Posted April 14
Good article on drug supply in the SMH this morning. I would pay to get access to some of the penthouse articles that you wrote way back then. Maybe some re releases of some of the old stuff. I would certainly pay for access to that. Some people may not have read Leviathan because it's huge but within those pages for example were some of the most interesting Australian history facts imaginable. The terrific research that you did must have been punishing so re releasing some of it in a pay format may be cost and time effective. An exploration of your extensive back catalogue delivered to a new generation of readers would have the same impact that it had on me. It's all still quality, unbiased and fearless Australian writing that loses nothing with age.

she_jedi would have you know...

Posted April 14
Leviathan was a staggering piece of history, I've never looked at Sydney the same way ever again

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Barnesm ducks in to say...

Posted April 14
yeah, certainly working from home for a 1/3 of the workforce is here to stay after the ...have we decided what we are going to collectively call this after it's over?

Halwes has opinions thus...

Posted April 14
The Glen 20 20"s?

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Barnesm asserts...

Posted April 14
Or after this, does the world change like in the prime world in J.K Simmons series Counterpart?

she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted April 14
Oh yeah! That concept is quite chilling now in hindsight

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Brother PorkChop is gonna tell you...

Posted April 14
Said it last week I think but I am so frickin' over this WFH shite. I am tired of nonsense calls and conference calls, and well sick and tired of having to cook every night. In saying that I made the most delightful beef koftas and flatbreads Saturday night - new family favourite.
I have supported local businesses a bit more like the local craft mob and coffee roasters. I always buy meat from a butcher anyways and I have been making more bread, from scratch.
After this is over I am looking forward to getting on the train and going to the office. Maybe a visit to the gym. Lunch out somewhere. The gummint must be shitting themselves with the lack of revenue from gambling and the like but overall it's a good thing. And who'd a thunk that petrol would be 97 cents a litre but nowhere to go using it. I wish I could pre-pay at today's prices for future fills.
Back to work FFS. Sprint reviews this time. At least they're only every fortnight.

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FormerlyKnownAsSimon would have you know...

Posted April 14
I've mentioned we live rural before - so I always did a lot of home cooking - takeaway gets messy in the car. Kids after school activities which required one or both of us to stay in town after school/work meant we'd do takeaway like burgers or grilled fish maybe once a week/fortnight - so that has stopped. I got a text message from our favourite chinese restaurant saying they were closing down. We tried to get in there more often than usual to show support when the derps stopped going to Chinese restaurants because they might catch the "chinese virus". I miss our salt and pepper pork from there. Not exactly a chinese dish, but that stuff was like crack. Think popcorn chicken but pork, cooked in a nice salty/chilli seasoning. Oh god. Drooling now.
I always did a bit of work from home as well - staring at the same walls is getting to me a bit. I can get outside but winter will kick in soon - that means cold wind/rain and possible snow. I'm getting a few extra chores done in the normal commute time. Got more loganberry shoots stuck in some pots this morning so that will be good. Eating more from the veg patch but i miss the local markets. They'll be there when this gets going again - all the "mom&pop" producers will be back. We are probably putting on weight more than losing it. Kids do less because of devices and we've had to put in some rules like 30-60mins outside and one doco on tv before putting a device in front of your head.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon would have you know...

Posted April 14
As an aside - i probably get more books done now than ever. Still read the physical form but i can listen to an audio book while doing chores. I was able to get the tripod out and sit for an hour or so to get a few bird shots on the weekend. Stuck a book in one ear to listen to a story, while the other ear was tuned into my surroundings listening for possible bird opportunities.

Halwes puts forth...

Posted April 15
Sounds peaceful. What are you reading/ listening to? There was a question in Think Tank about early political parties in Aus that I knew. The only place I'd ever heard the answer was in Leviathan so I'm thumbing through it to try and find the page. I've finished Fascism by Madeline Allbright ( outstanding ! ) and am 50 pages from finishing Life Ascending by The ten great inventions of evolution Nick Lane. It's way above my intellect but the bits that I can understand are mind boggling. Still working because we're in an essential industry and bloody grateful as so many of my fellow Australians are unemployed. Still have the same lockdowns as everyone else when not working though. Trying hard to spread some cash to local businesses, buying music on line through grass roots distributors and supporting refugee organisations. I'd hate to be stuck on Manaus or Nauru or anywhere in PNG for that matter.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon mumbles...

Posted April 15
Nothing too taxing. For some reason i'm in a fantasy rut. I'm physically reading the third book in the Mistborn series but really struggling with the whole series and still considering dropping it. Sandersons Stormlight ones were much better. And listening is three books at once! Which is crazy - i've always been a sequential book reader. The second book of the Witcher i can only listen to when the wife is around (due to the adult concepts - kids aren't into it). Can only listen to the second book of Monster Blood Tattoo by D M Cornish when the whole family is around (which i thoroughly recommend to adults and kids alike. Those books are great. Excellent world building and character development). And i'm on the second book of Robin Hobbs Assassin series because no-one wants to listen to that except me.

she_jedi ducks in to say...

Posted April 15
How old are the kids? My BFF's kids are devouring books at the moment and Monster Blood Tattoo sounds like a winner. The BFF kids are 12 and 15 :)

FormerlyKnownAsSimon is gonna tell you...

Posted April 16
Pretty close to what mine are, 11 and 14. The Blood Tattoo ones get very graphic in the fight scenes with monsters but there is a reason for it. Those ages are totally fine though. Australian author too. They devour all the Rick Riordan stuff of course. Its a bit of fluff like old westerns churned out at a rate of knots, but okay.

she_jedi reckons...

Posted April 16
Oh nice, I know Mr15 has devoured all the Percy Jackson stuff, and Harry Potter of course, so this sounds like a good alternative. I'll run it past their mum and see what their response is!

FormerlyKnownAsSimon ducks in to say...

Posted April 17
when i say fluff - i meant the Percy Jackson et al ones not the Blood Tattoos.

she_jedi mumbles...

Posted April 17
Yes that's how i read it :) I've run it past my BFF and she's delighted to have a new series to investigate. The kids are working through their Christmas and birthday book stashes at the moment, but she'll definitely investigate Blood Tattoo. I'm putting it on my reading list as well!

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Murphy_of_Missouri ducks in to say...

Posted April 15
I can't swim in my tub. So yes, I plan on spending for a membership. And I like my bench press as well, something I don't currently have here in the home gym.

I find I do not care much for the current state of affairs. I don't like being stuck at home for long periods of time, the house I live in was very much a de facto prison when I was a kid growing up in it. I loathe online learning (an oxymoron if there ever was one) with a deep, wide, abiding passion.

As for places to eat, we try to support our favorites, some of which will survive without our help, some of which might not. There are too few decent places here in the Kansas City Northland to eat as it is. Some will go under.

So, I don't much care for the current state of things, even if six graduate hours in The Black Death inform me of the wisdom of them.

Still, it could be worse. At least I'm still getting paid, and most everything is paid off.

John Birmingham mutters...

Posted April 17
Yeah, that's a good place to be, Murph, compared to a lot of people.

Murphy_of_Missouri swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted April 18
Hopefully this shit will abate in six months, because my situation will be very different by then.

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