Mon 6 – Sun 12 Feb 2017
This time of year, taking it one day at a time
My never ending cold/flu continues. It’s been about a fortnight now (I have recorded the start date as Mon 30 Jan, the day I began doing boiling hot and freezing cold in bed). The only positive is that I do feel like I’m drying out. Although I have still been having hot and cold patches in bed. Main issue now is a horrible hacking cough that makes me feel ill and is unpleasant for those around me. Especially bad at night when lying flat and my chest gets congested. Poor Dave has had some terrible nights of sleep laying next to me and listening to the sound of me bringing up my lungs.
And the weather is absolutely shit. Message to myself in the future when I read this and it’s a warm nice day. This week’s weather has been awful. It is everything about Feb I hate. Short dark, grey days with no sunshine. And then during the daylight it is cold, rarely getting above 5 degrees. Whilst on some days we are also getting cold rain and sometimes sleet and even snow. Though thankfully it is not laying.
Extra spare days
Severely reduced exercise due to illness has left me with more spare time than usual. Although it doesn’t feel like it’s been productively used because I’ve been too ill to do much. Lots of sleeping and reading. My brother did mum’s washing again last week (thanks bro) so I had last Mon to myself. A day of resting and pottering. I hate wasting time as life feels so finite but when you are ill there is just nothing else you can do.
Thurs was another day off though I did have to pop into work for a one hour team meeting. The rest of the day was more constructive than Mon in that I went over to see mum (+ bro and dog). I haven’t been to mum’s for nearly two weeks simply as an attempt at isolation in order to be assured she didn’t catch anything from me if I was contagious. I got over there in the afternoon and then promptly had a two hour nap because I was exhausted. Spent the rest of the day chatting with mum and co then watching the soaps together in the evening.
Tech for Good panel
Work all day Tues and Wed plus into the office for an hour on Thurs for my team meeting then the afternoon of Fri. Tues was finally the panel meeting to decide the ten Tech for Good projects to be funded. Months of work leading to this key meeting. Actually very exciting because the point of being a funder is to fund things and it is so much better to be doing rather than just planning and preparing. The panel went really well. A great cross-section of people with wide and varied skills and experience. We had 17 fundable projects and 10 grants to allocate. So there was lots of discussion and difficult decisions made. Ultimately being a funder is about making such difficult decisions. And then the job fell to me of telling the successful and unsuccessful projects. The latter is unpleasant but that is my role and someone has to do it.
Catch up with James
Very good to have a catch up after the panel with James our external tech adviser. He’s got the boot-camp arranged. And we are getting things into place with James going to visit projects to be funded to find out more about their projects and areas needing strengthening. This will enable tailoring of the boot-camp agenda and identification of sources of support going onwards. Remember there are only four months for the projects to deliver post 1st April.
Apps for Good
Tues evening I should have been going to the Apps for Good launch of the newly developed apps that won awards last year when at the initial conceptual stage. But the threat of a tube strike that went right up to late Mon afternoon. A decision was taken just before then to cancel the launch primarily because of the issues of ensuring young people from across the UK could get there and back. Moved to Mon 27th in evening instead. Probably better for me as I will hopefully be less ill by then.
Wed was a very busy day:
- Briefing from job-share colleague Nissa around the current TechVsAbuse grants programme – the use of tech to tackle issues around abuse especially domestic abuse. It’s being done as design challenge with grants needing to tackle one of five challenges. Phone calls next week and Nissa needed help in order to be able to cover them all.
- Skype catch up with other commissioners of the Sub-Saharan African Social Tech Eco-Systems research (Nominet Trust & Indigo Trust) as well as the delivery agent M-ITI. Agreed to extend the research deadline to the end of May. Issues on the ground in Africa around people not understanding what is Social Tech / Tech for Good – but do they in the UK? Agreed we need to put some more parameters on this but without creating too conceptual a discussion. Also agreed we will start to agree narrowing down of the research to ensure it is not too sprawling and undefined.
- I attended the International programme team meeting with Mark and Sophie from the Tech4Good Awards. We discussed the practical aspects of us sponsoring a Tech4Good Africa Award in order to raise awareness around this theme. Good support from the team and it’s full steam ahead.
- Finally had a catch-up with my colleagues around running a new Tech for Good Africa funding programme. General agreement we should go for this. Obvious issues to be sorted around where to target funding, time-frames, etc. But good to get this moving. As I have said, nothing more frustrating than being a funder when not funding projects (though noting it’s not just about being a funder that chucks out money without considering its impact).
Northern Ireland and speculative meetings
Fri afternoon was primarily spent catching up on emails. As is true of much of my spare time when I am not in the office. A call with a colleague in Ireland to explore the possibility of a joint digital initiative in Northern Ireland. And a coffee with someone who wanted to meet. Not sure why we were meeting but he’s an interesting and ambitious young chap. I really should make more time to have such speculative meetings simply because you never know how useful they may be.
Health and efficiency
Dramatic weight news
No swim or jog-run last week. I have definitely missed doing exercise though more psychologically than physically. I feel weak in my body and that I can’t push myself. However amazing news that my weight was down to 13-9. Bloody hell, four pounds lost – shows I must have been ill. INR done on Fri as well after a four month gap (I got told off) and was within its 2-3 range so that’s OK.
Heading back to the gym
I was unsure whether to try the gym at the weekend but decided to go for it. Quite last minute, I think I ultimately decided on Sat morning. Fri night was some terrible coughing during the night (poor Dave). But I got up around 7am and out. Repeated the same on Sun morning. There was something lovely about getting back to my normal routine. Out early into the quiet, dark and cold city. Time on my own to have coffee, read and play on the pooter before my gym opened at 10. Brief not too intense workouts on both days lasting no more than 40 mins. Cross section of cardio and resistance weights though nothing too heavy.
Failure on DuoLingo in that I did not do a bit everyday. Even though I had less time, I still felt too busy and pre-occupied sometimes to be able to take out 10-15 mins to do at least one session. Go figure. However I did manage to do a bit of coding practice on Khan Academy so that was good. Khan is definitely worth checking out if you want free online learning resources.
The weekend was nice. Apart from going back to the gym, I also found time on both days to have lunch with Dave. Couple of our favourite restaurants – Pierre Victoire and the UJC. Pretend posh cheap fun. And time to catch up with each other and our busy lives. Sat and Sun afternoon I also spent time watching DVDs whilst pottering on the pooter. I picked up Werner Herzog’s ‘Nosferatu’ at the charity shop and watched that. Wished it was in original German + subtitles rather than being dubbed. Late 70s art-house horror. Fascinating portrayal of vampires as evil but sad creatures. And lots of rats.
Books and reading
Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz
This is a book I saw in the charity shop once and thought it looked interesting not least because of the list of quotations from other writers saying how good it was. Then on holiday I saw one guy reading it and when he left he passed it onto another saying how good it was. I then heard the latter say to someone it was a ‘complete page turner’.
I don’t normally read thrillers because I find them silly. And, unfortunately, this book was just that. It reminded me enormously of the dreadful American Psycho with it fascination in describing everything and giving it value. OK the story moves along at break-neck speed but it’s a load of crap. And you can see the whole thing has been written to be made into a movie. Every stereotype is there including betrayal, good gone bad, poor parenting, overworked single mothers with precocious children, love interest that can’t happen, and baddies getting their dues. Overall, very well written crap but still crap and a timely reminder to me never to double-check that I don’t like modern thrillers.
Dr Who audio adventures
‘Blue Forgotten Planet’ (sixth Doctor Colin Baker + companion Charley Pollard)
This is one messy story. The Doctor and Charley find themselves on Earth but not when expected. They find the human race ravaged by plague and torn apart. The Viyrans are back as is the mysterious companion Nila. The story veers all over the place and crescendos with Charley’s goodbye. Though before they separate she is forced to tell Doctor that they have met before in the future so he accepts being forced to forget. A nice touch on a disappointing story.
‘Plague of the Daleks’ (fifth Doctor Peter Davidson + companion Nyssa)
Now this was much better. A very old-fashioned Dr Who adventure story featuring his old enemy. The Doctor and Nyssa find themselves in a futuristic recreation of one of this regeneration’s favourite places, the English village of Stockbridge. Weird aliens, zombie-inducing rain, robomen, and Lisa Tarbuck. What is there not to like? Silly, traditional Dr Who fun not trying to grandstand or be too clever.
Things to look forward to this coming week
I’ve realised I didn’t even do this section in my last blog. Perhaps that shows how not together I was and that planning ahead just was not on my agenda due to illness. All that mattered was recovering alongside getting my Tech for Good assessments done. So stuff to look forward to this coming week:
- Hitting the mid-way point of Feb. So half-way through this awful month. Next stop March and the promise of longer, warmer, dryer days.
- Catching up with friends now I feel better. Philip on Mon who is temporarily over from Spain. Peter the priest on Tues evening. Jamie for lunchtime coffee on Fri. Then down to Brighton for the first time in about three months on Sun. Meeting Rob (Swing It) on Sun evening.
- At least three gym sessions. I’m gonna leave off swim and jog-run for a bit longer until I am 100% well.
- DuoLingo to be done everyday and some more coding practice.
- Further progress around getting the TfG projects getting ready for lift off and around the M-ITI research.
- Exploration around new TfG work in Northern Ireland, around crowdfunding, and on initiatives in Africa.
- A catch-up on Thurs with some other funders interested in TfG generally.
- Helping Nissa with calls about applying to our new TechVsAbuse grants programme.
- Evenings with Dave and mum. Tues, of course, is Valentine’s Day…
- Watching another DVD or even getting to the cinema.
- Keeping on top of work and personal emails.
- At least one book to be read and ideally a couple of Dr Who audio books listened to.