Getting through shit January

Mon 9 – Sun 15 Jan 2017

Keep on buggering on

Winston ChurchillJanuary, with its companion February, really are the two worst months of the year. For me January and February represent real winter and simply a time to put my head down in order to get through it. Indeed I could quite happily hibernate through both of these months and wake up in mid-March looking forward to Spring. But as Churchill said, ‘Keep on buggering on’ and ‘When you are going through Hell, keep on going’.

It’s dark, cold and post-Christmas. Summer is a long, long way off. Indeed Easter this year is a late one – mid-April. Possibly unwisely Dave and I haven’t got a Gran Can break in the midst of this, we took that in early Dec. The weather last week was dark, cold and rainy. Though the snow predicted, when it arrived on Thurs night, was quite disappointing in London. Still the media over-dramatised it.

Taking it day by day

This time of year literally needs to be taken day by day and find good things in little events. Particularly with the current victory of the ugly people – fascist Putin, racist Brexit, and golden showers Trump. Two full days in the office last week on Tues and Wed plus Fri afternoon. I made the very most of my two non-work days. Mon was doing mum’s laundry. It was also the day of the tube strike so I ended up walking over to Dave’s. Watched a not very good French gay DVD called Wild Side in the afternoon whilst playing on the pooter. Thurs was a swim day followed by coffee and reading. Gotta find love and happiness in little things at the moment.

Books and reading

I love reading and through crap months like January, this is one of my main ways of stopping myself from getting too down.

‘Stand on Zanzibar’ by John Brunner

stand on zanzibar by john brunnerThis is a sci-fi classic from 1968 that I have always wanted to read. It is a fair question to ask what has put me off? Apart from there literally being thousand of books that I want to read. So many books, so little time. Two things influenced me on this particular book. First, the sheer size of the bloody thing (650 pages). Second, my worry that it will be awfully dated. I am happy to report that this really is a flawed masterpiece. It goes along at a good pace with an interesting mix of writing from different perspectives. It’s not always the easiest story to understand but just go with the flow – so true of many things.

There is much of it the book’s themes that are based solidly in the world of the late 1960s:

  • Major issues about birth control and an exploding population. The book is set in c.2010 and sees a world of 7 billion leading to disaster. That is roughly right in terms of numbers now but we’ve adapted to it well.
  • The disintegration of the European empires and the rise of post-colonial nations often going through difficult and traumatic birth pains.
  • Cold War tension being fought out in other nations as well as aggressive ‘internationalism’ typified by nations such as Nasser’s Egypt, Gandhi’s India, and Castro’s Cuba. Also strident Maoism coming forth from China.
  • Everyone smokes everywhere

However, there is always a game to be played with sci-fi written in the past of how far it was successful in predicting the world to come. Perhaps this caters to our in-built human desire to be able to foretell the future; note the ongoing popularity of clairvoyants and horoscopes. So what did Brunner sort of get right?

  • Powerful private companies and state security apparatus working together to ensure things go the way they want (far worse now with businessman Trump in charge)
  • Super computers and the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Brunner sort of foresees the internet but it is more of a standalone entity rather than one that enables mass communication and information provision.
  • Racial tension that still dogs American society so much
  • Aggressive and dogmatic religion although his is a version of Catholicism rather than a version of Islam.
  • The ability of humans to undertake genetic manipulation. Though Brunner foresaw a humanity dominated by the search for human perfection and the rise of eugenics to try to achieve that. I think we are concerned less now with human perfection but rather being able to stop the advance of old age as we live longer.

Dr Who audio adventures

‘The Raincloud Man’ (sixth Doctor Colin Baker + companion Charley Pollard)

Casino that looks like a sci-fi settingThis story was largely included by Big Finish due to the popularity of the character of DI Menzies. She is a wonderfully laid back, deadpan, hard as nails, female, Mancunian cop. The story itself is OK involving a floating casino linked to the once upon a time plan to have a super casino in Manchester. In real life the body recommending this was meant to have recommend it be based in Blackpool. Those halcyon Blair government days when our biggest worry was the Millennium Dome. This adventure is fun in that everything ultimately is decided on a game of top trumps.

‘The Judgement of Isskar’ (fifth Doctor Peter Davidson)

The first in three parts of a new Key to Time adventure series. Though this time the Doctor only needs to obtain 3 of the 6 key parts. Time is frozen and so he gains a new companion who is a created being and he gives her the name Amy. Nothing to do with Amy who later becomes companion to the David Tennant Doctor. She has an evil counter (sister?) called Zara who is also trying to find the key segments.

A good adventure with the Doctor travelling to Mars before the rise of the Ice Warriors. Then a catastrophe on Mars and the newly created Ice Warriors pursue the Doctor to an insect planet. The story does go a bit weird at times and some of the acting is quite weak.

Health and efficiency

Gym

Working two full days last week and doing mum’s laundry on Mon meant gym only achieved once. This was on Sun and I did a chilled 40 min session with not too heavy weights and 10 mins on the bike. I was going gently due to my jog-run injury – see below. I had planned to go to the gym on Fri as well. But as my jog-run was due to take place on Sat so I had a rest morning before going into work in the afternoon. Indeed, I did go to the gym but only used the sauna to chill out and getting clean.

Swim

freestyleI did manage to go swimming on Thurs. With a whole non-work day, I am able to get to the swimming pool at its quietest (around 10.45). And then not feel rushed to get finished and get into work. I swam for 50 mins and did 38 lengths. It could have been 40 but I got confused between whether I was at length 12, 14 or 16. This losing count always happens when I go swimming. So I erred on caution in my assumption. Mainly did backstroke but also some breast stroke and front crawl. For the latter I am getting much more comfortable so I can now do quite a nice lazy stroke and not feel panicked into getting from one end to the other before I drown.

Jog-run disaster

I was really looking forward to my jog-run. The original idea was to go for it on Sun. However the weather forecast was heavy rain so I switched to Sat. Nice early night on Fri after a not too heavy dinner with Dave at the Union Jack Club. Up and out early for a warm up coffee. All seemed to be going well though it was cold. About 2 km I felt a muscle go in my left lower calf. Carried on but by 3 km I knew I had to stop otherwise I would have done myself real damage. Walked back to the flat and felt pissed off for the rest of the day. Hopefully recovery will enable me to try again next weekend.

Health

No weight check this week. I am not in the mood until I feel I may have something good to know. I do have a slight concern about  a lump on my stomach. It has been there ages but it suddenly occurred to me that it might be a hernia. I have had one of those before. Will check with the GP when I go for the renewal of my meds.

Digital: Tech for Good assessments

Really not too much to report on digital last week. January is about getting the Tech for Good assessments done. I managed to get three done to add to the two done the week previously. And I managed to significantly write up four of them. Good news as assessments and write ups all must be completed by the end of the month. Out of 22 shortlisted, I was due to assess 17 with Nissa doing 5. However one has dropped out and one ruled ineligible after compliance / due diligence so I now have 15 to get through. Ongoing work as well on sorting the decision-making panel meeting on 7 Feb as well as the support package for the 10 projects that will ultimately receive a grant.

Looking forward to the week ahead

Last week’s blog featured a number of things for me to look forward to in the coming week. These can be read about here. I am happy to say that I pretty much achieved everything I hoped to do. Though I am still awaiting sign off on a video at work so that it can go into the public domain. Hopefully this will happen in the coming week. I was particularly pleased that I managed to do some DuoLingo every day. It is the first time in a while that I have done a full week run. And QPR won their away game at Reading.

So getting through January (and February) means setting milestones. These are the things I have to look forward to next week when Obama says goodbye and Trump is inaugurated as president:

  • Time on my own as Dave is going away for a few days (though I will also miss him)
  • Six more assessments done and some of them written up
  • Cathcing up with a colleague to discuss a new Tech for Good award
  • Hopefully achievement of two gym sessions, one swim, and a jog-run
  • Full days off on Mon and Thurs with a no-commitments chill weekend
  • DuoLingo everyday and perhaps the chance to practice some coding
  • Continuing to stay on top of my personal and work emails
  • Weighing myself and finding a small weight loss (13-12 would be nice)
  • Either going to the cinema or watching a DVD
  • Reading at least one book and listening to a couple of audio books

And if you need a laugh watch this:

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