Mon 22 – Sun 28 May 2017
Another strange week. On a personal level just the sheer busy-ness. Meaning that things I would regularly be doing (such as the gym) are crowded out and I’m needing to evaluate what is important. On a world level it was the dreadful Manchester bombing and the murder of those poor people. This awful general election was ‘put on hold’ which did not stop Theresa May and Amber Rudd popping up on TV as much as possible to assure us that their strong and stable (weak and wobbly) government was making us safe. Most parts of the media backed them up including The Sun, The Daily Mail, The Daily Express plus TV and radio news generally. Someone once said ‘always ask why is this bastard lying to me?’ and I think that is so often good advice.
Health and Efficiency
Impact of changing HIV meds
Health stuff is centre stage in my life at the moment. The change in my HIV meds seems to have had no side-effects I can detect. Although we changed it to see if we could reduce the soaring cholesterol. The results of that come in the blood tests. Being chronically ill is weird in that so often you can feel great but the damage is unseen and only revealed by blood tests. That fascinating disconnect that sometimes exists between mental and physical health. I have to check-in with HIV nurse practitioner at the hospital next week so possibly blood tests to see if the cholesterol is impacted though it may be too soon to show.
Dealing with a chronic condition
GP last Mon to get all my meds (bar the Anti-Retrovirals) renewed. A 7am appointment which sort of suited me to get it done but an early start. Then on Fri the anti-coagulation clinic to check my INR (blood clotting level). That was up to a healthy 2.6 which suggests the impact of stopping one of my old HIV meds has passed. I’m supposed to go for weekly checks for several more weeks, I wonder if I can slip back in a fortnight instead? With a chronic illness there is nothing more draining than constantly having to go for monitoring checks ‘just in case’.
Gym and jog-run
Health stuff and work (plus the election to a lesser extent) crowded out my gym attendance last week. Gym only achieved on Sun with jog-run on Sat. This went OK but nothing great though I did manage to do three-quarters of a 10K. Slightly depressing that a Facebook memory from a year ago showed that I was doing a 5K in under 30 mins. Shit, I’m going backwards (like this country).
Strange Jog-run today. Started really well then the times for 4th & 5th km went totally crap. Shows impact of not getting to gym. 🙁 pic.twitter.com/vlWgr8tg3p
— Billy Dann (@BillyDann1) May 27, 2017
Worth noting that I’ve stopped recording my weight. It’s about 14 stone. I know I need to lose weight but I’m not sure recording and measuring it is making any difference at all.
Yoga (for fat people)
I did start the yoga classes at work on Thurs. I have signed up for 8 weeks though missed the first one due to being in Birmingham. It is only 45 mins (8.30-9.15) and a bit of a sprint. Definitely helped that I had done yoga in the past. The teacher was nice enough though the archetypal yoga teacher and my complete opposite – female, young, thin, flexible. Strange how fat people never do yoga. However I felt the benefits and I intend to carry on as well as looking for other yoga opportunities. Suppleness is something I really need to work on particularly with my dodgy knees and tight hamstrings.
Over-ambitious plans and a tired boyfriend
In the ‘Looking Ahead’ bit on my previous blog, I was definitely too ambitious. A factor has actually been the weather with the heat making me feel exhausted by the time I reach the evening. And a natural desire to just be out in the sun chilling rather than doing. So my plan to get to the cinema one day to see a nice foreign language film and also attend the WordPress London meeting both came to nothing. There was also the fact that Dave finally got back from China on Tues night and promptly went to bed because he was knackered. Then he had to go off for work overnight again so that our first time properly together was Thurs evening when the WP London meeting was due to happen.
Progress on the language front
However I have been really pushing ahead with trying to do DuoLingo everyday because I really do find languages fascinating and I wish I could speak several well. Pushing forward on Spanish, Portuguese, French and German. And I am also using the new DuoLingo service Tinycards which is the digitalisation of cards with words and phrases on. It’s an interesting alternative to the normal DuoLingo service. I have also done some coding practice on CodeAcademy going over CSS – the bit that styles a website.
Planning my sabbatical
Had a chat at work with HR about my sabbatical. Looks like that will be going ahead in Jan barring any major overhauls at work such as being made redundant. So I’m probably going to have about 4 months off and my thoughts are on how to use this wisely. I would love to push the boundaries around my love of tech and languages. So many things in the mix but also need to think about Dave and my family as it would not be fair just for me to bugger off and forget my responsibilities there.
The election was put on hold because of the dreadful events in Manchester. So no guilt about not going off to one of the Lib Dem target seats to help out. I did carry on doing data-inputing from home. And at the weekend I helped stuff envelopes for mailings in Vauxhall. Fingers crossed that we can get rid of the dreadful Kate Hoey. Apparently Labour are pulling volunteers out of there to focus on trying to stop the Tories taking Tooting. Also checked in with our wonderful ward by-election candidate Irina to get her letter to voters printed. I still think the Tories will win big on June 8th but we might get some fun results.
Tech for Good
Work is so busy at the moment. Lot’s going on and working part-time I have to cram so much into limited space. It is good I have support from my colleague Martha who is in place whilst my job-share Nissa is on maternity leave. Various good fun stuff happened:
- A discussion with M-ITI on how the Sub-Saharan African Social Tech Eco-systems research is progressing. Lots of fascinating findings some possibly controversial. 90% finished version is due next week and hopefully the finished product by end of July.
- A visit to Toynbee Hall last Tues afternoon to see their Digital Money Mentors e-learning platform that I’ve been funding. It looks good, now a year of pushing it out and letting people use it. Will it ensure fewer people get into financial difficulties?
- Some great catch-ups including with a Big Lottery Fund colleague, our new Monitoring & Evaluation team member, and digital social entrepreneur Josh Russell.
- Internal discussions on how we best provide design and tech support for both our Tech Vs Abuse and UK Tech + HIV projects.
- Met up with Camille who runs We Think Code in South Africa. A great venture using a French methodology that puts people through a free two year training with them ending up being fully trained in coding plus a guaranteed job.
- Ongoing preparation for our upcoming workshops for projects around crowdfunding and using video.
- Finally, on Fri I joined the ‘show and tell’ online by some of projects with a Tech for Good grant. Very interesting and we used the platform bluejeans.com for the video-conferencing which worked well. I would recommend people try it out.
Art and Culture
Me and Dave went off on Fri night to see this modern musical. Our first proper night out since he came back from China. We went partly because this was cheap (£15 each) and close to Dave’s. Very mixed reviews and I was torn on it. I am really not sure guitars in musicals work and when it started off it was all a bit Eurovision on a bad night. It was concise which was good in that I think some musicals can drag on for too long. And the story itself was a wonderfully claustrophobic ghost story set in a lighthouse in America at the start of WW2. But I am left not being able to remember the songs apart from the badly titled ‘Better off dead’.
Books and Reading
‘Close to the knives. A memoir of disintegration’ by David Wojnarowicz
My main book read last week and a recommendation from someone at the Velvet Page book club. It is very powerful being the writings of someone dying from AIDS in the early nineties. I remember that time well, it was horrible. Heavily political with open fascism and prejudice against gay people rampant. But we all fought back often with people themselves dying leading the fight. Wojnarowicz was an artist and suffered an abusive childhood that lead to prostitution and infection. It’s all quite reminiscent of Derek Jarman but that is not a bad thing and his diaries are so worth reading. Brave men who fought in crazy times. You can read about David on Wikipedia here.
‘La Place de l’Etoile’ by Patrick Modiano
I am trying to broaden my literary horizons by reading more non-English language fiction. This author is French and has won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2014. But this book sort of reinforces my suspicion about people who win awards like that, it’s very literary and hard to read. Three key things that influence it:
- It was written in 1968 so at the height of the LSD-influenced kaleidoscope culture of the late sixties.
- The author himself is Jewish and born just after the war. His family survived the Nazi occupation by subterfuge. This book is very much about surviving by doing whatever is necessary (it certainly isn’t always sympathetic to Jewish people) and the sheer nastiness of the collaboration.
- It’s very French being based firmly on French geography and culture. For instance with numerous references to Marcel Proust.
A very strange book indeed.
Dr Who audio adventures
The Emerald Tiger (fifth Doctor Peter Davidson + companions Turlough, Tegan & Nyssa)
A strange Dr Who adventure which finds the Doctor and companions in British India. It’s very ‘boys own’ with a tiger that talks, a lost temple, runaway trains, mad English officers, dynamite, and haughty English ladies. It didn’t really gel for me and I listened but without engaging. A wasted opportunity as there were some big acting names involved. There are lots of references to Rudyard Kipling as well.
The Jupiter Conjunction (fifth Doctor + Turlough, Tegan & Nyssa)
The Doctor and co find themselves involved in a battle between the human govt, renegade humans and Jovians. The latter being gaseous type creatures that were native to the planet Jupiter. I don’t know if I’m not concentrating enough when I listen to these books or whether I’ve hit a ‘bad batch’. But this was another one that failed to really engage me with the story feeling wandering and weak. Perhaps I need to listen to this and Emerald Tiger again.
‘Return of the Daleks’ (seventh Doctor Sylvester McCoy, no companion)
A short little story that finds the Doctor back on a planet he visited in a TV adventure. It has been disguised and we only find out later where it is. The Daleks take it over with their old servants the Ogrons. They enslave and use the local population forcing the govt leaders to assist them. The Doctor does not dominate the story. Indeed he only appears occasionally. But it is one of those stories that takes place over years and these are much more meaty and satisfying than the ‘wham, bam, thank you maam’ story lines.
- Nissa is coming into the office on Tues and bringing little Freddie with her
- Aiming for the gym two times next week, a jog-run, and a yoga session
- Taking a couple of days off work to help the Lib Dem election effort in my ward and in at least one target seat
- Hopefully getting to the ICT4D meet up on Tues night. All about data with some very good speakers.
- Continuing to keep on top of emails (there was a stat this week that, on average, people have 367 unread emails at any one time! So my norm of 100 not read is not too bad.)
- Hospital and nurse practitioner on Thurs to check all OK with the new HIV meds and get another month’s supply
- Duolingo/language learning every day and some coding practice
- Another couple of books to be read and the Velvet Page book club on Thurs night
- Listening to at least a couple of Dr Who audio adventures