Sun 10 – Sat 16 April 2016
Definitely a major event of last week was my partner receiving an award from the Queen. Happened on Wednesday at Windsor Castle. I did not attend the actual ceremony as I had been to one before for his previous award. Plus it enabled him to take some of his friends who had never been to such an event including one who flew over from Boston. But I did meet them for a celebration lunch afterwards where other people joined us including David Emanuel who regaled us with witty stories of his time on I’m a Celebrity and his upcoming British version of the annoyingly popular American reality TV show Say Yes to the Dress (basically women deciding which wedding dress to buy). A really nice day and I am left feeling very proud of my other half.
Health and Efficiency
Regular readers know that I have had ongoing problems with both my right knee and my left achilles. Probably due to a number of reasons including past exercise such as football and getting old (it’s true, things really don’t heal well the older you get). I have given up on seeing the physio as I know the exercises to do and the muscle aches have reduced by changing my statin. I am trying to get back to a once per week routine of a decent jog-run around Green Park and St James Park. Did the jog-run on Saturday morning and got my watch to work so it could link with the GPS. Result was pleasing as can be seen by my posting on Twitter. Left achilles is aching but hopefully it will pass. Details of my jog-runs and my yo-yo weight can be found here
Getting back in swing of weekly jog-run: 25.49 mins, 4.28 km, 6.02 pace, 316 cals. Achilles and knee aching a bit but not too bad.
— Billy Dann (@BillyDann1) April 16, 2016
Apart from the good jog-run, exercise was a bit thin on the ground last week primarily due to work commitments as per usual (don’t forget that theoretically I work part-time). Only managed to get to the gym last Monday morning. Did manage some useful long walks like on Thursday when I walked from Victoria to my meeting in Euston. Also forgot to weigh myself last week but that may be a good thing – I must not be enslaved to the weekly weigh-in or just judge myself (and my worth) on how much I weigh.
Digital: Word Camp
Last Sunday was the second day of Word Camp London and as useful and interesting as the day before outlined in my previous blog I attended the following sessions:
- ‘What I would do differently if I freelanced again’ – useful stuff about calculating your value and not burning out
- ‘User Experience, It’s for Everyone’ – a nice session about the ongoing value of constructing sites and considering processes from the pespective of the user (UX)
- ‘Turbo speed your WordPress website’ – how to speed up loading of your web pages, sadly one of the key determinants in the popularity of a site
Amusingly I also went totally unplanned to a session on Debugging. This is very techie (working out what is wrong with code and correcting it) and I had been trying to work out whether to go to the session on child themes or a series of lightning presentations – completely unknown what you will get on the latter. Can’t remember which one I decided to go to but ended up in the wrong room for the Debugging session. Too late to leave once it started. Oh well, it will teach me to pay more attention in the future. Most of it went over my head but it did influence me to do a session on Code Academy during the lunch break to try to address my ignorance.
Digital: Work-Related Stuff
Using digital to tackle Domestic Violence and Abuse
On Monday my job-share (Nissa) ran a workshop on using digital around Domestic Violence and Abuse. It went well and will feed into research being done that will hopefully lead to funding for projects. I was supposed to attend but we decided it would be better in terms of my other commitments for the rest of the week if I didn’t. Job-shares work when you both trust each other to do stuff, they don’t work when both people feel they need to double-up on everything. And later in the week me and Nissa had a session to plan our workload for the coming months and decide which of us would be leading on what. Also on Monday, my meeting with Joe from Mind of my Own was moved to the next week so I actually gained a whole day I didn’t expect to have which I spent with mum and my beloved books.
Albert Kennedy Trust’s e-mentoring project
I had a meeting with the Albert Kennedy Trust on Wednesday to go over their project we are funding to develop an e-mentoring scheme for young LGBT people at risk of homelessness, hopefully stopping the situation arising where they have to leave home or get kicked out. There is so little accommodation out there these days that not getting to the stage of being on the streets is the best option in many ways even if home life isn’t great. Really exciting and important to see if a non-technology organisation can develop at low cost a new digital service for young users who are ‘digital natives’.
A possible new partnership and better digital story-telling
Met with a colleague from the Wellcome Trust on Thursday simply to exchange news on what we are up to. The Wellcome Trust is ‘an independent global charitable foundation dedicated to improving health through science, research and engagement with society’ (the Wellcome Collection by Euston is free and always well worth a visit). I hope we can work together in future. I am great believer in partnership working – creates more resources to put into projects, brings together different experiences and skills, and shares risk including the simple ‘risk’ of doing things outside of an organisation’s comfort zone.
Followed by a constructive meeting back at the office with our digital team and other colleagues on how we can better do digital story-telling; we looked at issues around content and methodology as well as what we are trying to achieve. And in the afternoon a discussion on the possibility of making a short video to go on YouTube and/or Vimeo simply to explain the success of the funding that has been given to abstinence-based recovery projects.
Tackling mental health stigma especially around male suicide
Not all my work is linked to digital, though that will increasingly be the case in the future. On Tuesday me and my colleague Hajra met up with Jonny Benjamin, the campaigner around mental health and particularly male suicide. He himself had been on point of committing suicide and was rescued by a stranger. This has been documented in the film ‘The Stranger on the Bridge’. We explored possible ways to work together in the future including tackling mental health stigma in an international context especially in poorer nations.
I once had a period of seriously considering suicide after I was betrayed by my long-term partner and had bought a home in somewhere where I realised I no longer wanted to be. Thankfully friends and family persuaded me to move on and I cut my losses to move back to London. Suicide figures across the world are shocking – we live in a society where too many adults are seen as expendable. Interestingly one of the key people who helped me back to health was one of my best friends James who died from cancer recently. I saw him in a dream last week – he was happy and healthy. Probably doesn’t mean anything but did make me feel good.
Can charities win back public trust?
Friday I attended a really interesting event organised by New Philanthropy Capital on this theme. The storify version of it can be found here Some very good speakers and the Twitter follow worked brilliantly, #charitytrust The evidence is of a fair bit of complacency by charities assuming public goodwill and failing to defend their actions i.e. around pay and fundraising. The low level of trust in UK charity CEOs compared on an international level was quite shocking. Also clear that many judge all charities on the basis of a group of large charities and many people forget about their small-scale and local inter-actions with charities such as using their shops. Funny that I got followed on Twitter as a result of this by both people sitting either side of me in the auditorium – I was able to thank them personally.
Books and Reading
The Adult by Joe Stretch
I picked this up in a library book sale and was attracted by the awards and positive reviews it had received. Basically it’s a (straight) coming of age novel set in the 90s and 00s. OK but nothing special. I think it’s appeal is to a new generation coming of age and feeling nostalgic for the recent past being described as well as empathy with the mundane lifestyle of the grown-up central character and his dashed youthful optimistic hopes.
Blood Music by Greg Bear
After the (to be frank) inanity of The Adult, I needed to dip back into some meaty and dark sci-fi. This is classed as a classic sci-fi novel (written in 1985) and it lives up to the hype. Not always the easiest book to read but clearly influential on culture since it was published. Various themes some of which are well-worn like Gaia (the living earth), a rogue genius and dodgy private companies, and the apocalyptic world after a disaster. But also some themes ahead of their time including the effects of genetic engineering. Ultimately super-intelligent cells are created who in turn create a whole new world. The connectedness of everything being a forerunner of ideas such as the Borg in Star Trek and the Matrix films.
Big Finish Dr Who audio-book: The Roof of the World
An adventure featuring Peter Davidson (5th Doctor), Peri and Erimem visiting Mount Everest at the time of the British Raj and find a long dead Egyptian God who is, of course, an alien – silly but fun. Not a great story/script and not always easy to follow which I suppose is the danger when audio-books are churned out to meet demand.
Big Finish Dr Who audio-book: Maltese Penguin
If I tell you the sequence number for this audio-book is ’33 & a third’ then I think you get the message that it is very tongue-in-cheek. Short but fun and I presume a play on The Maltese Falcon, a film I have neither seen nor a book I have read.