How to survive a busy and intense week

Mon 16 – Sun 22 Jan 2017

Why busy? Why intense?

Donald TrumpA week that was busy with getting my Tech for Good assessments done. But also busy in a non-work way, good busy with exercise and reading / listening to books. Intense because busy makes things intense. Intense also because we saw the end of the Obama presidency and the start of Trump’s. I very much doubt anything else could raise such intense emotions and fears. Reinforced by his rants around the numbers (or not) that attended his inauguration plus his ‘interesting’ speech to the CIA. Meanwhile May gets ready to beg for a trade deal so she can pretend Brexit is a good thing. ‘Buy American, Hire American’. Yep don’t think we’re going to screwed at all.

My message for Jan and Feb is to enjoy the best in each day moment by moment and get through this time to the warmth of Spring and Summer. On a much bigger level, we need to enjoy the good things in the next four years and remember that time passes. Look back to other periods of your life when it was just about survival and remember how you survived those horrible times. Betrayal, cruelty, isolation and bad thoughts – all are transient. At times, simply survival is victory. We live to fight again and these are battles to be fought to have a happy and good life.

Digital

Tech for Good assessments

Last week I did three assessments on Tues and three more on Wed. In all of them I was accompanied by colleagues interested in finding out more about what we are looking for in a ‘good’ TfG project. All done on Skype or via a conference call. Pleasantly, Skype worked OK on all the planned sessions bar one where we had to revert to the phone. Though sometimes the quality of some of the images left a lot to be desired. Still I am pretty sure that we have all the info we need to make a call on whether to fund or not. And I am not persuaded that meeting people face to face would have added anything. But we saved a lot of time and money by not doing such face to face assessments.

Wavemaker, Nominet Trust, and Microsoft

Microsoft logoThurs afternoon I met up with my colleagues from Nominet Trust for our monitoring meeting with Stoke Wavemaker. We fund this jointly. We actually met at Paddington using connections with Microsoft to be able to meet at their wonderfully modern nearby office. The NT HQ is in Oxford so the NT people travelled by train and arrived in Paddington. Really good to catch up and Wavemaker continues to make progress. As I have said before, it is going through the classic learning of all social enterprises: how to make money leading to sustainability but also how to balance simultaneously doing social good with making money.

Emma but am I losing it?

Then on Fri I caught up with my friend Emma who used to be the CEO at YouthNet (now The Mix) and is also currently a director at CAST. We share a passion about how to get the not-for-profit / charity sector feeling more comfortable in experimenting with digital. It was also good to catch up on her year of travels when she went to Ireland, Russia, South Korea, Japan, India and Iran. Pretty amazing journeys and she enjoyed everywhere she went to. We also share a love of cafe culture and books so dwelt on both of those for a bit. It was funny though that I completely forgot we were meeting and so we ended up meeting an hour and a half later than planned. Hope it was just a slip-up and not a sign of my pre-senile dementia coming!

Books and reading

‘The Narrow Road to the Deep North’ by Richard Flanagan

The narrow road to the deep northThis won the Man Booker Prize in 2014. I picked it up in a charity shop paying £1.99, significantly more than my normal 50p. However I am always intrigued by major prize winners. I want to see what I am missing and it often takes me outside my normal type of book. This is a very good book and worth reading. It’s basically the story of a life and a passion that never died. It is very easy to see it as the story of the prisoners of war who the Japanese forced to build a railway across Thailand and Burma. Those poor men suffered horrendous abuses. My friend James who died, his father was one and he forever hated the Japanese for things they did like operating on people whilst they were conscious to see what happened.

The ‘hero’ is a man with the wonderful name of Dorrigo. He becomes a brilliant leader though is left permanently damaged affecting the rest of his life. He has one infatuation who he thinks has gone until one day he sees her again but they ignore each other. We have all been there, when we have someone with so many of our hopes invested in them that it is easier not to put things to the test. Short reflective Japanese poems feature in this book as do the Japanese as characters in themselves. And this book does feel like a big poem that is a complete, epic, circular life in its own right.

On a far more prosaic level, on Wed night I left the book in a coffee shop. I didn’t realise this had happened until I settled down in bed before going to sleep to do some reading. Thoughts were in my head of whether to just write it off and buy another one on the internet. But I went the next morning and it was still there. Thankfully it had been handed in to the staff. Perhaps there is a message here about not writing things off and doing the right thing even if if upsets plans and routines?

Dr Who audio adventures

‘The Destroyer of Delights’ (fifth Doctor Peter Davidson + companion Amy)

The second part of the trilogy around the Doctor’s second search for the segments of the key to time. He and Amy finds themselves both in ninth century Sudan though separated from each other. This is actually a really clever story bringing together not widely known history alongside a nice alien involvement. Though it is based on a real legend of a local aristocrat who tried to avoid paying the ruler the tax he was due. Great that both Guardians (black and white) turn up and get into an old people’s squabble. All good fun.

‘The Chaos Pool’ (fifth Doctor + Amy)

The final part of the trilogy. And perhaps the weakest story. We have the return of Romana, Princess Astra (though now President) as well as the two Guardians. There is also a fun but ugly new species (Troythodians?), the Voice, the Grace, and Amy’s evil sister Zara. As one can see, all a bit of a mish mash and wonderfully overblown ‘essence of the universe’ sort of thing that Dr Who throws up every so often. It all ends well of course, the universe is saved, and (nearly) everyone lives happily ever after.

Health and efficiency

Gym

barbell with weightsAchieved three times during busy last week: Mon, Thurs, Sat. On each day I tried to keep to my now short routine doing only about 30-40 mins. Each session included ten minutes on the bike then a range of different exercises dealing with legs, core, and parts of the upper body. In less time though it is not always possible to cover all upper body parts. Also intermittent stretching and exercises prescribed by previous physios to strengthen my calf muscles and achilles tendon. No rowing machine which I find aggravates my knees. But on Sat I did do a kilometre on the treadmill to test out last week’s pulled muscle. All seemed to go well.

Swim

I went on Fri. But in comparison to previously, I only did 30 lengths which took about 30 mins. This was a change of tactic with my previous aim to be to do as many lengths as possible. But the main thing last week was to do an even amount of lengths using back stroke, breast stroke and front crawl. This was hard work though I basically did ten with each stroke. My default would be to fall back on slow, lazy back stroke. I did even make some progress with my breathing as I did the front crawl not needing to rush to get air as often as before.

Jog-run

I was hesitant about this after my pulled muscle last week. Should I risk it or not? I decided to go for it. The worst that could happen would be a recurrent injury. But I did make some changes to normal. In particular I wore a cap and gloves to ward off the cold. This made things more comfortable and I shed both to cool down at the halfway point. I also listened to my i-pod whilst I ran. Something I don’t normally do and it didn’t add anything to the run though nor did it distract me, rather it just made it a different run.

Personal development

DuoLingo

Very pleased to say that I managed to do some DuoLingo everyday bar Wed which simply got overtaken by two days of assessments. And after work the Victoria line was down so I had to walk to Victoria to get the tube to mum’s. All that disruption partly explains why I left my reading book in the coffee shop.

My Last Round

I did manage to watch another foreign language DVD last week. ‘My Last Round’ is a Chilean film about two young guys from a small town who get it off and move to the big city. Complications arise and one goes back to boxing against previous medical advice. The story is not a classic and it’s all a bit predictably grim. However good to see how gay issues are dealt with elsewhere. The language learning benefit didn’t really kick in as the Spanish spoken was fast and localised, basically in a dialect I couldn’t follow.

Sapphire and Steel

video coverFri was a day off and I just fancied watching something different. So I stuck on the very first ‘Sapphire and Steel‘ adventure. I remember this as a kid. It was on ITV and was weird. Watching it now confirms it is a strange programme. I am pretty sure it went out early evening and would not go out on one of the five terrestrial channels at that time now. It really doesn’t make much sense (is it sci-fi, horror, paranormal or what?) and some of the acting is bad. It also acted as a vehicle to showcase special effects but some of them are not very good. Overall, reassuringly different and a bit of escapist fun.

Looking ahead

Well last week went pretty much as planned with all the highlights I had hoped for. It was nice to have time on my own whilst Dave went on a weekend break to Berlin. Too cold for me. But I really missed him although it is good our relationship is about trusting each other and not about living in each other’s pockets. Whilst he was away, I did pop over to see mum on Sun along with my brother and his children. We all went for a curry which was good fun and very enjoyable. They are great kids.

And good news that I did three rather than just two gym sessions as planned. No weight recorded yet. I keep forgetting though I wonder if that is my mind conveniently failing to fulfil its memory duty unconsciously on purpose? Plus still no real coding practice or learning done, simply lack of time and being too busy with other stuff.

Things to look forward to this coming week

  • Catch up with M-ITI and Nominet Trust on the research into social tech eco-systems in sub-Saharan Africa
  • Additional to this, attendance at the Tech for Good meet-up on International Tech for Good. This takes place Wed evening but will I be too tired after my team away-day?
  • Another assessment done and all the ones done so far written up
  • Catching up with James and Dan about the support we will be giving to the funded TfG projects
  • Three gym sessions, one swim, and a jog-run
  • A long weekend, Friday to Monday – perhaps time for a massage?
  • DuoLingo everyday and my ever eternal hope 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 still be nice)
  • Either going to the cinema or watching a DVD
  • Reading a couple of books (as opposed to just one) and listening to a couple of audio books
  • Catching up with my mate who moved to Taiwan but is visiting the UK

Mocked up Tintin book cover

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