The week I did my best ever 10K jog-run time

Mon 6 – Sun 12 March 2017

the future on the horizonOne of the biggest positives for me about last week was simply the weather improving. Thurs and Sat were particularly lovely. Cool and breezy but bright blue sky, some sun and mid-teens temperature. Light and brightness makes all the difference even if it’s not hot.

Health and efficiency

Jog-run

A real personal achievement on Sat morning! This could be related to weighing myself the day before and finding I was a pound lighter (13-9). I must remember that when I was doing under 45 mins, I was about 25 years younger and around 3 stone lighter.

Gym

Everything is a bit in the shade following my jog-run breakthrough. No swimming because I just didn’t fancy it. But I still did the gym three times.

  • Mon: weights and some treadmill though gentle jogging as legs aching from Sat’s jog-run.
  • Fri: weights and stretching especially of achilles / calves. Also gentle jogging to get ready for my jog-run the next day.
  • Sun: weights but gentle ones for my legs. Also some core exercises. Ten mins on the bike but no treadmill because of aching legs after the success of the day before.

Digital – amazing events and possible new programmes

A series of great digital and tech for good events happened last week.

Tech for Good learning group

Tech for Good is the use of digital technology to create a better society not just to make money. Mon night there was a meeting at NESTA of people promoting Tech for Good. People who are leading on pushing Tech for Good and who are enthusiastic about it. A good conversation particularly when we laid out what we are all up to. And the next step is to try to be a bit more co-ordinated about future work. The meeting was quite similar to the Tech for Good funders’ meeting the other week, so there is a need to ensure both meetings are not duplicating each other.

Tech4Good Awards 2017 launched

On Tues the launch of the Tech4Good Awards 2017 happened. This was the big event I talked about in last week’s blog. Organisations and projects can now nominate themselves up to the deadline of 8 May. geographical africaThere are various categories in which any type of org (not just non-profit) can apply to so long as they are registered in the UK although their Tech for Good work can be taking place anywhere in the world. This is apart from the new award category we are sponsoring: Tech4Good for Africa. For this category any type of org can apply registered anywhere in the world but their Tech for Good work must specifically benefit people living in sub-Saharan Africa (combating poverty and social injustice).

The launch took place at the BT Tower. We heard from previous award winners including Wayfindr from last year. They detailed their work in getting adopted as the international standard their means of using beacon-based tech to enable people with visual impairment to move around public spaces. Then me and my colleague Pontso introduced our new award category. Finally, up to the top floor (where there used to be a revolving restaurant) for lunch and conversation. Pontso and I were interviewed and filmed for a short video. All in all a good event. And please feel free to promote the awards to any organisations or projects you think would be interested.

The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women

My first event on International Women’s Day was attending a breakfast meeting at the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women. There was a briefing on the work they do particularly the online mentoring service they run where mentors in the ‘developed’ world give support via the internet to women entrepreneurs in the ‘developing’ world. The presentations included one by a young Mexican woman running a business exporting traditional Mexican art and crafts to the USA. And I met up with some very interesting people also attending the event.

Tech for Good meet-up

Tech for GoodThen on Wed evening I attended the Tech for Good / Girl Geeks meet-up. A special one around women in tech with all the presentations by women and an all women panel. Some interesting topics and some real heroines of mine including Imandeep Kaur who crowdfunded for and established the brilliant Birmingham Impact Hub. A very pleasant surprise that a couple of my work colleagues were attending as well as myself.

Potential new tech grants programmes

We are always planning ahead in terms of launching grants programmes. And a fair amount of time last week was spent planning potential new ones, all with a tech for good element. The first one was related to considering how we might offer funding to help support people living with a specific chronic health condition. I’m having to be a bit cagey as it is not definite yet.

The second was looking at how we might specifically spend some money in sub-Saharan Africa. The idea we are working on is going via one or two innovation hubs to encourage digital activity by civil service organisations and non-governmental organisations. Important to note in developing nations how the Western division of private company and not-for-profit charity do not exist so easily. People need money and doing good is often claimed to be done simply by providing employment or creating wealth.

Personal development

Languages and coding

Great news, I managed to do Duolingo everyday and most days it was all four languages (French, Spanish, German, Portuguese) – get in!  Actually I really enjoy learning languages though I go a bit to pieces when I try to speak it with a native. There’s a cleaner at work who always tries to speak to me in Spanish and I am so inarticulate whereas his English is fine. I also spent some time on Khan Academy learning about coding particularly CSS. I am thinking about doing a free Coursera course via the internet. It’s a basic coding unit covering HTML, CSS and Javascript. Completion leads onto other units. And it’s run by the prestigious University of Hong Kong. Key issue is will I be able to stick to it until the end? This is always the problem with internet courses with their high drop-out rates.

‘The Wrestler’

The actor from The WrestlerEvery week I aim to watch at least one film or DVD. But there never seems to be the time. Plus my favourite art form is the novel; I love to spend time reading. But on Sun I did settle down on the sofa and watched this film. I like dark films – horror, sci-fi, gritty drama, etc. Bit of a problem when my other half loves feel-good musicals. Mickey Rourke is great as the washed-up wrestler trying to find his place in the world. But this film is as much about masculinity as anything else. Randy (the main character) struggles without fame while dealing with drudge work and romance. There is also a great theme about him re-connecting with his estranged daughter. This is similar to the way my father tries to reach out to me sometimes.

Making a weekly evening commitment

One of the things I enjoyed about last week was attending an evening event on Mon and Wed. I always feel knacked after a busy day and love just chillin in the evening. But it was good last week to do something beyond work linked to what I was interested in and not just vegetate. I am seriously thinking about making sure that I have at least one evening meet-up / event each week. It’s important for networking and keeping on top of what is going on. Such meetings are probably as important as the various e-bulletins which I read and then share the info in them via social media.

QPR, happy days

Good news, QPR won 2-1 during the week against Barnsley though they were 2-0 up at one stage. Still it’s the third win at home on the trot. And then on Sat they drew 0-0 with Leeds at Elland Road. Leeds are in line for the play-offs whereas we should avoid relegation. It is all about next season, as is the case for most football fans.

#IamEuropean

Books and reading

‘The Meursault Investigation’ by Kamel Daoud

A very literary novel and clever in an intellectual way. I have never read Albert Camus’ ‘The Outsider’. A man is murdered in it who is never named, he is simply identified as ‘the Arab’. This book represents the family (mother and brother) of the man and what happened to them after the death of their son / brother. It is a clever idea and well represents the torment inflicted on the family and their struggle in coming to terms with what has happened. They try to prove it was their family member and ultimately avenge the murder by killing a semi-stranger who is in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some reflections on the rise of Islamism as well and the shift away from the more liberal situation of post-independence Algeria.

‘Slade House’ by David Mitchell

Slade HouseDavid Mitchell is probably my favourite modern author. Though other ones who also feature are Patrick Gale, Nicola Barker, Rose Tremain, Pat Barker, Lindsey Davies, and C.J. Sansom. This is not Mitchell’s best and is quite short compared to his other voluminous masterpieces. And it strikes me as darker than previous books with evil twins feeding on people’s souls. Apparently it’s related to his previous book ‘The Bone Clocks’ but I can’t remember the connection. It’s always lovely to read a Mitchell book even when he’s not at his best. Indeed I slightly wonder if putting it out was meeting a publisher requirement? And I do love a good bit of horror, either in book or film, every so often and this was a chiller.

Dr Who audio adventures

‘A Death in the Family’ (seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy + companions Ace, Hex & Evelyn)

Another clever story that comes close to being too clever for its own good. Basically the Doctor actually dies. Ace in particular is then caught up in a plan to bring him back to life. Meanwhile Hex goes to live on the planet where the Doctor’s former companion Evelyn Smythe is living out her life. There’s lots of time travelling and shifting between dimensions including places where what might have been exists. The main enemy is the Word Lord, Nobody No-one. His is a clever creation – a being that exists through words with great powers. The story includes how he is beaten which is clever. And ultimately there is a very poignant ending. Overall, good but hard work.

‘Lurkers at Sunlight’s Edge’ (seventh Doctor + Ace & Hex)

A traditional Doctor Who adventure set on Earth battling aliens. The three travellers find themselves in Alaska in 1934. There they come across an expedition to enter a newly discovered citadel. Hex gets forced to enter it. Meanwhile Doctor and Ace find a mental institution (as you do). Ultimately it’s about a mild mannered human in the institute who is also in touch with the aliens who are coming alive in the citadel. All wonderfully far-fetched. But fascinating to note that the central character who writes horror stories and comics is based on the famous horror writer H.P.Lovecraft.

‘The Crimes of Thomas Brewster’ (sixth Doctor Colin Baker + companion Evelyn Smythe)

Someone is impersonating the Doctor but who? The real Doctor and Evelyn find themselves involved in the contemporary London crime scene at the same time as an alien war is overflowing onto Earth. A good story that shifts between Earth and the planet Symbios. And Thomas Brewster returns, the Victorian street urchin who previously tried to steal the Tardis. Also back is the Mancunian hard nut female copper, D.I. Menzies. But the Doctor’s first meeting with her is in his future so she has to pretend she does not know him (as he has to when they next meet).

What to look forward to in the week ahead

  • Some more good weather (hopefully) and longer days
  • The Tech Vs Abuse grants programme closes on Mon and we get down to shortlisting the ones to be assessed for a grant. It is always good to see a grants programme making progress.
  • Starting conversations around possibly running a grants programme bringing together Sport for Change and Tech for Good
  • Another catch-up with M-ITI about the sub-Saharan social tech eco-systems research
  • At least three gym sessions possibly four. And a jog-run (or a swim if that doesn’t happen)
  • Spending a couple of evenings with mum, brother, dog
  • DuoLingo daily and some coding practice
  • A catch-up with my life coach (has it really been six months since we last met?) not least to plan ahead for the year now winter is over
  • The start of the Flare London LGBT Film Festival. Some short films on Fri and then the first full-length movie on Sun
  • Reading at least two books and listening to at least a couple of Dr Who audio adventures

And finally…

Don’t forget it’s Red Nose Day on Friday 24 March. Please get involved and, if you fancy a laugh, watch this vid from Boys Allowed performing ‘Biology’ by Girls Aloud (get it?). It’s hilarious the way some of them fall so easily into the particular person they are pretending to be.

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