Sat 24 – Sun 30 April 2016
Being positive, a nice week all round especially as I recovered from my chest infection. Two big visits, nice digital stuff, a good jog-run, some interesting reading/listening, and one particular day was lovely.
Health and Efficiency
Previous Sunday was my first day of feeling better since my chest infection had kicked in on the Thursday before. No gym on that day and later off to Brighton to keep my promise to visit my two old chaps. Back to the gym on Thursday and Friday mornings, both good intense workouts though not too demanding. Did have a couple of long purposeful walks during the week as I recovered, such as on Wednesday when I walked from Victoria to Euston. Weight came in at 13-9 so a pound on from last week – pretty much ‘the usual’.
But my main fitness achievement was a very decent jog-run on Saturday morning. Near perfect weather – bright & sunny but cool breeze blowing and I achieved a decent result though with my left achilles aching a bit afterwards.
Oops forgot to post my jog-run details for yesterday: 27mins 50 secs, 4.5km, 6.11pace, 333cals – not bad with recovering injuries #jogrun
— Billy Dann (@BillyDann1) May 1, 2016
Down to Brighton previous Sunday lunchtime. Checked into a hotel I had never used before and in Hove where I don’t usually stay; normally it’s always in Brighton itself. Met up with my mate Rob in the evening and we went for a Lebanese meal followed by a visit to an ice cream parlour even though the weather was cold with some sleet in the air. Rob is doing well and I am looking forward to going with him to stay in his new holiday home in Spain. Back to the hotel room where I put the heating on.
The non-typical weather continued on Monday. Up and breakfasted then off to see Bob. He has moved rooms within his nursing home and the new one is smaller. All linked to his own money for paying for his care (based on selling his flat) having run out and the council having to take on paying for his care. Despite the weather he wanted to go out so hat on, blanket, umbrella up and out. Sat outside the cafe under cover drinking coffee and he nearly choked to death on his bacon sandwich. ‘Any news?’, I said. ‘No, no-one has died’, he replied. Getting old can be very grim.
Checked out one of my favourite charity shops limiting myself to just £5 worth of secondhand books. That pleased Dave who seems to think I just buy the same book over and over again – he has not the appreciation of my love of them. Then met up with Brian. He is fine though spending lots on his dog again – a very pampered pooch. Separately, a person we both know had come to stay with Brian. This person has a problem with drink – I don’t really like him and wish he wasn’t in contact. Ended up with the police being called and this person being evicted from Brian’s accommodation, ho hum.
Visit to Stoke on Wednesday to see how the great Stoke Wavemaker project is getting on. An entertaining train journey due to the two people opposite me talking about all the different drugs they had taken and experiences they had – amazingly dull. I am realising that drugs are actually quite boring and there are so much more interesting things to do than trying to rival how wasted you have been and the different ways to make bongs. They were both very new age talking about avatars and being on different planes – all complete bollocks. The guy was also interesting because he was so gay but then started to talk about his female partner and their kids.
Met up with Ben from Wavemaker and Kathy from joint-funder Nominet Trust The project itself is doing OK. Talked about agreeing when the first year of operation ends for reporting – still getting stuff sorted out for what I keep forgeting is a new outfit that about a year ago was still just getting started. Full staff team in place now and doing some good work with various groups including disadvantaged young people. Everywhere should have such open places like Wavemaker so people can take part in digital creating. Otherwise we all just become digital consumers using the internet (or being used by it) and not utilising the opportunities it offers to mould a brave new world.
Technology and Justice
Monday evening went to a meet-up of the Tech for Good group The theme was Technology and Justice. A series of short presentations and then community notices. Some very interesting products/services presented including CrowdJustice (raising money for legal interventions) and CourtNav (assisting people to represent themselves in court). Also met up with people from the very interesting domestic violence organisation Chayn that operates both in the UK and internationally. Working with them currently to look at how digital can be better used to tackle domestic violence and abuse.
Should have gone to another meet-up on Thursday night, WordPress London. But I was just too knacked after work and actually didn’t end up leaving the office till 6.30. I would have loved to attend though it is far more techy than the beloved but now defunct WordPress User Group Longon. Also I did WordCamp recently so it’s not like I’m totally ignoring developing my WP skills.
My new digital team at work
Lots of changes culminating at work including goodbyes to some fantastic colleagues like Vic, Tara and Sharron this week with more to come plus new staff to arrive and be assimilated. And the first meeting of the new team I am in where my role is about developing and nurturing our Tech for Good work. Not sure about my new desk though I know I will get used to it. I’ve moved from being right in the centre with everything going on around me to being on the periphery albeit with a great overview of the office. The big move took place on Friday which provided an excellent opportunity for everyone to get rid of shit and move closer to the goal of being a paperless office wich really should be a central part of every modern organisation’s agenda.
AI (Artificial Intelligence)
There’s no point in using digital to solve problems that don’t exist. But when digital works well then I become aware of how brilliant it is. A great personal example of useful Artificial Intelligence (AI) in action this week. I received an automated call from my bank triggered by unusual activity on my credit card. I then had to confirm over phone whether I knew the individual transactions or not. Some I didn’t which leads to human contact. Turned out my card had been hacked. Immediate action was taken to cancel it. Interesting that I check my financial details every day in case of such things but this AI intervention happened so fast and the problem was picked up so quickly by the bank that my role in checking was negated.
Books and Reading
Two traditional paper books read this week. First, Swimming Home by Deborah Levy. Written in 2011 and it attracted me by apparently being about depression and having been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Overall very middle class (a family at their holiday home in France) and dramatic without being that convincing (they let someone stay they had never met before). Also very literary and a bit of a stereotype of a novel that one would expect to be listed for the Man Booker. Not one I would recommend.
Followed by Man in the Empty Suit by Sean Ferrell. Fantasy/sci-fi and almost dream-like at times. An interesting premise – man meets with other versions of himself from his life, one is murdered, and he has to find out what has happened. Quite hard work and it did remind me of the film ‘Memento’ which I loved and Dave hated. ‘An exceptional read for any sci-fi fan who enjoys a challenge’ said one reviewer, I wouldn’t be so positive. I like to look for meaning in books (why else would they be written unless just to pass time?). I think the author here is saying that though our lives may seem inevitable that is not true and we can change things though taking the risk that we can’t predict the way they will turnout nor that we can guarantee happiness. That combined with an element of stoicism and self-discipline to make sure we enjoy life whatever hand we are dealt.
And some Dr Who audio books listened to as I went about my business. The Crown and the Church is a wonderfully modern old-fashioned Dr Who adventure set in the France of King Louis XIII, Cardinal Richelieu, and the Duke of Buckingham. Also that glorious old toffee of a Dr Who story when part of the Doctor’s group is a looky-likey of a key person in the drama. Perfectly decent though not in the same class as the Crusader historical adventure, see below.
Jubilee A crazy romp featuring the 6th Doctor (Colin Baker) & companion Evelyn Smythe (old and posh – like my partner!). The doctor defeats a Dalek invasion of England in 1903 but in doing so creates new history where the world is ruled by a fascistic English Empire (sort of place Boris Johnson would be very at home in). An interesting story with the Daleks being forced to ask questions about their own raison d’etre; similar to some more recent TV episodes. Also surprisingly blood-thirsty for Dr Who with various limbs being chopped off including those of the Doctor himself.
Also went back for a bit more of Doctor Who and the Crusaders This really is a rich and detailed 1960s history romp that deserves to be consumed in small chunks. Nobody would do such a rich historic and dramatic story now. Witness the comparison to ‘The Crown and The Church’ in which great historical characters and settings are raced through. In ‘The Crusaders’ we have intricate personal portraits of both Richard the Lionheart and Saladin.
And finally…. Had to make special mention of the wonderful Saturday gone, just a brilliant day full of things I love doing. Up early and out for coffee + reading before back and out to jog-run in lovely weather. Shower and shave then with Dave for breakfast. Onwards to potter around my favourite charity shops and bought a bundle of cheap books and DVDs as well as a present for Dave (a china cockerel). Favourite barber was free, having a fag outside his shop, so got my hair cut as well. Back to Dave’s flat to spend the rest of the day watching DVDs, reading books, and playing on the internet. My perfect day.