I am writing this commentary on last week just after news of the massacre in Paris and the change in the weather to wet, cold and grey. I am convinced more than ever that we are right to fight and bomb Islamic State. I despair of religion these days – religion of all types just seems to be about hate rather than love. I have my own religious and spiritual beliefs though I also believe in freedom and that no faith should be imposed on others. There are so many religious extremists, and I count Christians and Hindus as well as Muslims, that I think when we talk about the justifiable war on terrorism then in many ways that really should be a war against any form of religious extermism. Someon said, and perhaps it is true, that it’s humanity versus insanity. Indeed, secularism may be the best way forward where individual religious preferences are respected but faith has no place in the way society is run.
And on top of Paris and the Sinai airplane bombing, news that Russia was doping its athletes on an industrial scale. The amusing thing to take from the latter is the fact that despite all that they only came fourth in the medals table at London 2012 – suggests they didn’t do the doping very well. But joking apart, what I am left with is that religion and sport are corrupted as we well know are also business and politics. What can we believe in for modern living?
Health and efficiency
One of the big things for last week was seeing my life coach on Monday afternoon. We made contact after I was diagnosed with HIV – referral to him for 12 sessions was part of the service to help me cope. All part of new thinking about enabling people with long-term chronic health problems to take control of their situation. We decided to keep in touch and we’re now at a stage where we meet three monthly. Monday’s session was weird because I went there not really sure what to talk about. Basically life is pretty OK at the moment (not perfect but then I don’t expect it to be) and I’m not sure what I realistically want to do differently i.e. winning the lottery can’t be planned. Fundamentally I think what came out of Monday is that I should enjoy where I am but do small unexpected things that take me out of my comfort zone to avoid feeling in a rut.
Gym last week three times, on the previous Sunday and Saturday just gone as normal but also Thursday afternoon. On the Sunday, just weights no cardio though this did aggravate my old knee injury such that it kept me awake most of Sunday night / Monday morning. Saturday back to my normal cardio + weights which didn’t seem to aggravate anything though my achilles and calves still feel tight and achey especially first thing in the morning. I never normally go to the gym in the afternoon because it is so much quieter in the morning. Thursday I worked in the morning and then decided to do gym in afternoon as one of things to stop me getting in a rut. Not too busy but busier than mornings and I didn’t feel as fresh or strong as usual. However, did see masseur and decided to have massage which not done for months. Not too expensive (£39) and definitely something that made me feel good.
INR clinic last Monday and the reading was 2.1 which is just enough to ensure I don’t have to go for again for a few weeks – hooray, freedom. I’ve also booked a GP appointment to renew all my meds early Dec (and perhaps I will get the flu jab done?) thus I also had to renew my annual pre-paid prescription certificate on line – a tax (£104) on having a long-term chronic illness.
Busy, busy, busy – trying to get the decks cleared workwise before I go away. One of the main things is organising another upcoming development day part of which included visiting the venue on Friday. I also had discussions with the internal comms team about how to get various messages across to other members of staff including regarding our Tech for Good projects as well as the abstinence-based recovery work. And on Friday I presented at one of our staff meetings a new internal competition for people to suggest ways how to promote our brilliant projects through digital means to encourage more donations. How to give people something to believe in and get them engaged going back to the start of this blog with so many things to feel disillusioned by? And I’ve also been trying to get main fund assessments written and signed off before I go away. Indeed on my non-work days I was still working remotely to ensure the assessments got done.
Tuesday was a good day because I spent it at Future Decoded at Excel. This is basically a Microsoft event plus companies they work with such as Dell. Excel is an interesting venue though a pain for me to get to as it is on the other side of London. Key note sessions in the morning were good though it was a long time to be sitting down in a warm space. Particularly good talks from Richard Reed of Innocent Drinks and Craig Kreeger the new CEO of Virgin Airlines but especially from Satya Nadella CEO of Microsoft. The latter laid out a good overview of MS’s thoughtful strategy which was reinforced at afternoon sessions I attended. MS is having to battle to keep its position against more trendy digital companies such as Apple, Facebook, Amazon, and Google. But as I understand its aim is to become a platform that runs a range of inter-connected products and services so that it is relevant to every aspect of someone’s life and so minimises the need to seek out other providers. And with particular targeting of businesses to get them hooked into this and, thus, their employees. Perhaps partly explained the big emphasis at Future Decoded on security, connection, and data. There was also an explanation of the new BBC micro:bit going out to all schools which was really exciting – wish I had something like that as a kid www.microbit.co.uk
On Thursday I was supposed to attend a meeting with colleagues from other organisations – intrapreneurs (people trying to be entrepreneurial inside big organisations) but I was just too busy getting stuff done before going on holiday. Hard decisions to be made so I don’t feel overwhelmed – also had to say no on Thursday night for a meet-up group going through the Code Academy structure to learn coding. I must make sure I create time to learn things myself via the internet, again this links into the life coach advice about not getting stuck in rut by doing things differently to keep refreshed.
Though on Thursday morning I did attend at work a meeting of a new internal body – the Digital Steering Group. Its intention is to bring digital enthusiasts across the organisation together and so break down silo-working plus encourage horizontal co-operation across vertical structures (I keep getting that one mixed up probably due to the same reasons I still hesitate around left and right). Every organisation (and certainly charities) needs a group like this. Indeed it is really disappointing to me the tiny number of organisations and especially charities that have anything even like an organisational digital strategy.
Digital problem did arise last week in that I became aware my phone (note only old people say ‘mobile phone’) battery is dying. This has happened before on other phones and pooters – basically energy drains out of it very fast so it constantly needs recharging. I solved the problem via using the wonderful flexibility of Amazon to buy a new battery though it won’t arrive before I go on my holidays. However also raises the issue of me needing to make a decision on a new phone and/or contract at some point.
Dave, mum and friends
So previous Sunday I met Dave at the BFI and we went to see that great British film ‘Brief Encounter’ with Trevor Howard and Celia Johnson. Of course, I have seen it several times before but what a beautiful film it is – far more multi-layered than we realise. The scenes in the train station coffee shop are great fun on their own. And not suffering the curse of being too long that applies to many modern films. Me and Dave had our usual Wednesday evening catch-up meal using my vouchers to get a discount. Funny the way some people laugh at my discount vouchers but never refuse to benefit from them – hmmm. Friday night Dave went out with an old colleague to the Royal Variety performance including the dinner and dance afterwards. I could have gone but it’s really not my thing, to be honest I really don’t enjoy wearing suits or black tie. I had Friday night alone. Did some work then went out to try an Indian restaurant I had not been to before. Truly awful: slow service, expensive, mediocre food, and some comedy moments like running out of the dishes and glasses. And I couldn’t help but notice the open sore on one of the waiter’s hands. Dave got home about 2am and tried to be quiet but failed dismally. He had recovered enough by Saturday for us to meet for lunch before I pottered round my favourite charity shops then did some work.
Over to see mum and do the laundry last Monday morning. With her last week on Monday and Tuesday evenings for our usual diet of soaps. She’s OK though still having big problems with her knee. Good news is that she lost another pound last week whereas I put one on.
I did have a panic last week when I couldn’t get hold of one of my old chaps in Brighton. Eventually got hold of Brian (he had his phone switched off) and good that I could contact the warden at his sheltered housing unit. I was supposed to go to Brighton on Thursday and stay over so I could see them on Friday morning but had to cancel because I was due to make pitch to a tech company on Friday for a great new project to get more girls into coding and tech careers. Unfortunately then the pitch got moved to whilst I am away. Really frustrating because I think it is a great project and there would be so much mutual benefit for the charity and company in working together. Oh well, hopeful my brilliant colleagues can persuade them. Have re-arranged to see Brian and Bob in Brighton before Christmas.
Books and reading
As I was around that way on Monday, I popped into the ever wonderful bookshop ‘Gays The Word’ to get some secondhand books although I did limit myself to not spending more than £20, I actually bought six books for £19. Dave will be semi-pleased.
Because it was so busy last week I only really got round to reading one book though I did start another one. The book I read was Peter Ackroyd’s ‘The English Ghost’. I do like a good ghost story though I think it is all a load of balls. This book was OK but it did feel a bit lazy ultimately just being a series of ‘real life’ ghost stories taken from various books written between the seventeenth century and modern times. And ultimately pushed together all the stories blurred into one and so lost their individual impact.
And finally…failed to do much on languages last wekk not even doing many DuoLingo sessions which is very disappointing.