Spring is coming

Mon 13 – Sun 19 March 2017

This time of year is great in that you know you’ve got Spring and Summer to come. Some lovely sunny days though still chilly in the mornings. So different to sunny days in October. Then you know things are inevitably going downhill.

Another weird week in politics

Seal of the Dutch ParliamentA great result in the Dutch elections last week. Yes, the neo-fascists gained some seats. However they were not the largest party and didn’t do anywhere as well as expected.

David Davis’ report to the Brexit parliamentary committee was a lesson in being complacent and self-satisfied. Time for liberals to be on the offensive. A great Lib Dem spring conference in York including a fantastic speech by Tim Farron.

And finally Merkel met Trump and tolerated him. Some great photo shots. He really can’t stand dealing with women who aren’t skinny models especially when they are more intelligent than him.

Digital

Crowdfunding

crowdfunding wordmap

Most interesting digital event last week was meeting with colleagues at NESTA to find out more about what they had learnt from running crowdfunding / grants programmes. We are thinking about this; giving out grants but linking them to not-for-profits also obtaining money via crowdfunding. Still just an idea and would have to be run as a pilot initially.

If you are interested in crowdfunding then have a look at NESTA’s report on ‘Crowdfunding Good Causes’ http://www.nesta.org.uk/publications/crowdfunding-good-causes. They have also done this blog on how to find the right crowdfunding platform http://www.nesta.org.uk/blog/how-find-right-crowdfunding-platform-your-good-cause. And they are currently running a programme that enables arts and heritage organisations to access grants if they can also raise money through crowdfunding. More details at http://www.nesta.org.uk/blog/matched-crowdfunding-arts-and-heritage-sectors

Using tech to boost literacy

On Thurs night I attended a reception at the Royal Society for the Arts (RSA). This is in keeping with my plan to do an evening event at least once each week. It was a reception sponsored by the company Pearson to highlight Project Literacy. This is an international initiative to tackle illiteracy. And there was a particular focus on Worldreader. This is a project that enables people in developing countries to easily download books and novels using low bandwidth to electronic devices. Such writings are skewed to local authors in local languages. Also nice to chat to a sport project that wants to do more with digital to deliver their work to young people.

#Africatech

Last week also included ongoing discussions re a potential new tech for good initiative in sub-Saharan Africa. As well as conversation with M-ITI linked to the research there are doing on sub-Saharan African social tech eco-systems i.e. what makes social tech / tech for good happen and grow? These conversations are important in ensuring the learning can be applied to the work we are doing in Africa and, possibly, in other parts of the Global South.

Health and efficiency

Gym

Three times last week. First, on Mon where I did some treadmill and also weights concentrating on upper body. Then on Thurs I focused on the treadmill. I did over 25 mins of varied speed and incline. To be honest, I think I might I have over done it as I had a slight pain in my foot afterwards. So on Fri I rested doing no gym at all. Perhaps I should have tried a swim. I also rested in anticipation of doing my jog-run the next day. The result is below and my failure to do a full 10K may have been linked to over doing it on Thurs. Final gym session of the week was on Sun. Weights only and some cycling, no treadmill to rest my legs.

Jog run

Not a classic. I stopped at 8km simply because my left knee in particular was hurting. I realise it’s important to know when to stop rather than powering on to create a worse injury. Still disappointing. Could be linked to a one pound gain in my weight to 13-10.

Personal development

Life coach

I had a catch-up with my life coach on Mon. Our relationship has evolved maturely and we only see each other about every 6 months. But we have been working together for around 8 years. Lots of talk about the sabbatical I plan to take from work early next year. We particularly worked on what I wanted to get out of it as well as what actually makes me happy. Obvious thing would be to go on a long overseas trip but is that what I really want to do? Yep there are places I want to go but there are loads of these and I ain’t going to be able to see them all before I die.

We also reflected a lot on the upcoming year more generally. I have a feeling that time is passing and I am definitely well over half way in my life. I don’t want to become an old person living in the past or dwelling on ‘what ifs?’. So the challenge is to think what I need to do to make sure I don’t exist in the future with regrets. Plus how can I be happy with what I have and always stay future-focused?

Duolingo and coding

Great result of doing some Duolingo everyday. However on most days last week it was just two languages rather than some of the four languages I am trying to learn every day. And a little bit of coding done on Khan Academy. I was going to sign up to the Coursera course on coding but it costs about £40 per month. Not sure I could guarantee keeping to it.

QPR

QPR old skoolA great result on Sat beating Rotherham 5-1 at Loftus Road. OK they are the bottom team in the Championship. But another home win on the trot, a boost to our pretty awful goal difference, and 15th in the table. Is a late dash for a promotion play-off place possible? No matches for a couple of weeks due to internationals – snore.

Flare – the London LGBT Film Festival at the BFI

The London LGBT Film Festival has started (now known rather stupidly as ‘Flare’). I thought the programme was good this year, especially compared to last. So I bought ten tickets and the first screening I attended was on Fri to see a series of shorts.

Brief Encounters

Four short films (two French, one Danish, one Irish). Generally quite salacious films watched by an audience of men with an average age of about 50. Reminded me of the Scala in Kings Cross in the eighties but more upmarket and less physical action amongst the audience.

The films were perfectly good but nothing amazing and a bit too much flesh merely to titillate me thinks. Interesting how it’s acceptable to show spunk in films now. I’m bored of boy’s first shag films – ‘1992’ (French) and ‘Perpetual’ (Danish). ‘3 Friends’ was a strange one from Ireland. Apparently based on a Colm Toibin story but not one I recognise. Four friends go to a rave after one of their number has attended his mum’s funeral. Nice memories seeing them raving and then two copping off. Best was ‘Herculanum’ (French) where two older men (thirties/forties) hook-up via an app. Subtle and the best script. Though I don’t think any of them had enough substance to be a full-length film.

1:54

This is a Canadian movie about bullying at school. Unfortunately the showing was at 8.45 on Sun night. After the gym, I met Dave and we had a great lunch with this friend Ant who is over from Australia. Too early to go straight to the South Bank so I went back to Dave’s flat. Inevitably I got cosy and didn’t want to go out again especially as I wouldn’t have got home till after 11. As Dave points out, I’m normally in bed reading by 9. So I didn’t go to see this film. Waste of £12 but no point in beating myself up. Shit happens.

Books and reading

‘On Writing’ by Stephen King

Famous authorI have not actually read much Stephen King – I think just four of his voluminous catalogue. Obviously I have seen films such as Carrie, Salem’s Lot, and Misery. I have just not got round to reading that much of his literature. This is a fascinating book that really divides into three sections. The first is an autobiography of his life particularly dealing with how he started off as a writer. The second part is his reflections on how to be a good writer. Some very good tips such as do it because you enjoy it, re-draft, read lots, and make time to write. I love writing my blog and I empathise with his advice. Final part is when Stephen is seriously injured in an RTA and details his convalescence back to health and writing. A surprisingly pleasant and fulfilling read.

Dr Who audio

‘Industrial Evolution’ (sixth Doctor Colin Baker and companions Evelyn + Brewster)

The Doctor drops Victorian street urchin and part-time companion Brewster back in his own period. Though he is now in industrial revolution Lancashire rather than London. To be honest, I found this a messy story. Brewster is working in a factory and the Doctor with Evelyn visit to check he is OK. By coincidence it turns out the factory is being run by an alien. And the technology has got out of control such that tech / flesh monsters are on the prowl. It’s alright but I think there could have been a better story here. Another rush job to satisfy the publisher? And a clumsy ending setting up the possibility of a new mini-series.

‘Robophobia’ (seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy)

Robot of death One of the interesting seventh Doctor stories where it is just him and no companion. A wonderfully claustrophobic story that links up with the Tom Baker classic, The Robots of Death. There are also some novels related to this TV adventure written in the period when Dr Who was off the screens and looked to be dead. Apparently for ‘real’ fans, these books don’t count though neither do the audio adventures. A cast of few characters trapped on a space ship where humans are dying and corrupted robots are on the rampage. But is it really as straight-forward? An impressive story with a twist that leaves us feeling sorry for the robots. They are far more sympathetic than the humans involved.

‘A Thousand Tiny Wings’ (seventh Doctor + Klein)

This adventure took me out of listening to them in their chronological order of being issued. I picked this one up cheap on ebay so dipped backwards to listen to it. A nice adventure where the Doctor catches up with Klein, the time-travelling Nazi who is trying to revert everything to her time-line where the Nazis win WWII. The story takes place in Kenya during the Mau Mau uprising with a group of women trapped in a farmhouse – another claustrophobic one. Then an alien arrives and battle ensues. An interesting alien – a flock of tiny birds that survive by living on a host. Definitely a good story.

Looking ahead

For next week:

  • Easter and Spring are coming!
  • Eight more films to watch at Flare
  • Marc Almond in concert
  • Only two half days in the office (I’m taking leave for the film festival)
  • Three gym sessions or two and a swim. Jog-run at the weekend.
  • DuoLingo daily and some coding practice
  • Finishing reading at least two books and listening to at least a couple of Dr Who audio adventures
  • Red Nose Day on Friday

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