A Busy Week, Feeling Sad, and an Opportunity

Mon 31 Jan – Sun 6 Feb 2021

Not one of the greatest weeks despite entering the second half of the dreaded Jan-Feb period; see my previous blog here. But one takes the rough with the smooth. Busy in that I did an extended working week. And I felt sad by missing out on a gym session plus sad generally without any major reason – that’s what depression can be like. The opportunity is a positive way of looking at what could equally be a challenge. My co-colleague’s last week before she goes on sabbatical until late May. So Billy home alone…

“You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.”

Rosalynn Carter

Tech For Good

I knew it would be a difficult week as I needed to cover 4 days rather than just the 3 I am paid for. Worked on Thursday to attend the Third Sector Tech Summit. Thoughtworks was a sponsor. Plus it was also an opportunity to add to my own tech knowledge and pick up the trends in the third sector. Some good sessions and a brilliant number of attendees. Though slightly sad to hear many of the issues and the knowledge shortfall not being a 1,000 miles away from where we were when the Tech for Good movement started a decade ago.

I work in and with the not for profit sector because I want a better world. I want an alternative to uncontrolled capitalism which is now the totally dominant economic ideology with communism and state controls being fundamentally discredited. There is a clear opportunity for not for profit ideas to challenge the capitalism hegemony. But any movement or organisation to be relevant in the future is going to have to be ‘tech@core’. This is why I push the Tech For Good agenda.

Ones and zeroes - Tech For Good

It’s good to work at a company that has to make a profit but also cares about having a positive social impact. Stuff that happened at work last week beyond the Tech for Good Summit:

  • Handover stuff with my colleague before she goes away. It is an opportunity in that I am my own master. But I’m going to miss her experience as a developer and her knowledge having been at the company for a decade. Feels a bit like I’ve done my apprenticeship and now I am on my own.
  • Exploring how we can use staff in-between paid projects to do short sprints of pro-bono work with small not for profits. Great opportunity for everyone but the key issue is supervision.
  • Supporting the team doing our main delivery work (including a very fun online social activity based on using Google Earth to talk about our favourite places). There are staff changes which we need to ensure do not unsettle people too much. Again a situation that can be seen as short-term disruption but may also be a longer term opportunity. In this case, to refresh the team.
  • Inducting new staff to the company about the social change work we do. As well as how we are meeting the climate change challenge and our commitment to responsible tech
  • Working with our Demand / New Business team to look at client qualification from a social change perspective. There are so many new opportunities for work and deciding who we do or don’t want to work with is not always straight forward. Basic learning is that there are no hard and fast rules but rather to consider and discuss if we think anything comes with negative impacts – true for life in general me thinks.

Didn’t realise but one of the main contacts at our big delivery project also has her own website and does blogs + podcasts. Worth checking out – you can view it here.

Health and Efficiency

Mental health

I’ve never shied away from being honest about my mental health problems. Primarily long-term depressions that ebbs and flows; reality for many of us I think. Some real patches of sadness last week. Times when I felt like crying which feels so ‘unmanly’. Not meant in a naff ‘toxic masculine’ way but in the way that it is something pointless to do.

Man feels sad

Based partly on a working week that felt like being full-time when I deliberately choose to work part-time. Perhaps the nervousness (and fear?) that comes from the ‘opportunity’ of flying solo. But also a reaction to the unfairness of the world and the way some people bullshit their way through life (witness the week’s political shenanigans) whilst others struggle constantly particularly young people and families these days. The idea that good always wins over bad is bullshit.

When one feels sad, the only thing you can do is get through it. Totally fine to run with it but not let it overtake you. It won’t last forever and there are things to do to break its hold. Change your environment, do things you enjoy, be with people you want to be with.

“Losing is not my enemy. Fear of losing is my enemy.”

Rafael Nadal

Gym and weight

Only one session last week on Tues morning. But a good one in that it was just me on my own and the jacuzzi was freshly cleaned to use after my work-out. 6 sessions since I rejoined so just over £80 per session. I do have a slight worry that my small independent gay gym/sauna might not survive the upcoming rise in energy prices. That probably added to my sense of sadness but I suppose it’s just wait and see.

Male body art

No movement on the weight front. For some, sadness and depression offers the opportunity to avoid food. But for the vast majority of us, it operates the other way. Using food and drink to give comfort. I don’t find escapism in drugs but I do find alcohol in moderation helps me relax and deal with my demons. Far bigger problem is food. Several blow-outs last week which was how I felt I need to deal with long days.

man weighing himself

New meds

There really ain’t much opportunity that comes from getting old. Indeed, perhaps the only main one is the hope that at some point you won’t be working so much. Though I suppose there is also the opportunity of lessened worrying. Logic says don’t worry so much as your time on Earth lessens. And taking increased medication is inevitable as you get older.

Good and bad news last week. First, problems related to my enlarged prostate are only marginally better since taking a pill for it. So another pill to take in addition to that one – hopefully this will stop me needing to wee so much.

But also a suggestion that there is the opportunity to change my anti-coagulant to a self-regulating one so removing the need to go for INR tests. Mum and brother have been on this for several years and nothing has gone wrong so be great if I can change to it as well. Meanwhile, INR test last week suggests I am back in range (so blood not clotting nor too thin).

My meds for the week ahead. Picture by Billy Dann.

Family and Friends

Time with mum

My family knows I have dodgy patches and they are great at supporting me. By being there when I need them but also giving me the space I need. Spent time with mum during the week but she was OK for me to skip spending the weekend with her. Indeed, my brother picked up some of the slack.

Time with Dave

The weekend was spent with my partner Dave (glad to say his mum is recovering well from her operation) but also having time on my own. This was exactly the opportunity I needed to get over my sadness. A weekend of drinking coffee, watching TV and videos, reading books, pottering around charity shops, and writing my blog.

Also great to go out on Sat night to the UJC for drinks and dinner. Fun to chill together and chat about life over a little drink in the bar both before and after a very nice dinner. 🙂

Wine

Catching up with old friends

Great to have a quick catch up with Sue, my old colleague from Comic Relief. She’s had a hard time with her father being really ill. But nice to talk about the future. For me, if I should take the opportunity of early retirement? Did make me realise I must also catch up with so many of my other old Comic colleagues. Who can ever feel good about being made redundant? But I worked with some fantastic people and I want to keep in contact with them.

Books and Reading

‘The Kraken Wakes’

Finished reading this amazing piece of 1950s sci-fi by the brilliant John Wyndham. Details on it here. I really didn’t realise how brilliant it is. Yes, it’s dated in terms of names and mannerisms. But the element of slowly rising crisis and the general obliviousness is incredibly reminiscent of climate change. Ignorance and denial ultimately leading to a nightmare situation where people just strive to survive. Creepy, scary but totally addictive – a highly recommended book.

Personal Development

Ongoing daily (or as near as damn it) process of doing at least one Spanish language lesson on Duolingo. It’s an opportunity every day to learn new stuff plus get closer to being good at speaking and understanding this language.

The No Code challenge has come to a point where it’s about building purposeful tools. I don’t know what I need to create yet so time to give it a pause and pick it up again in the future.

Sustainability

Still trying to live with less in so many ways. Simple things like checking what’s in the cupboards, fridge and freezer to eat before going food shopping. Had a sort out and took some more stuff to the charity shop. Did think about going to a car boot just because I enjoy pottering around them. But decided not to so to avoid buying just for the sake of it.

Birds

Close up of a blue tit

Dave has a couple of small balconies at his flat. He takes immense pleasure in looking after the plants on them. And we both love watching the birds come to the front room one. Always had loads of blue tits who have started to reappear – often in groups or pairs. Meanwhile there are also thrushes (well, we think they are thrushes) and even a robin. The thrushes occasionally come in pairs but the robins are always solo. There’s also the comparatively giant pigeons but Dave has created the balcony so only the small birds can get to the seed he puts out. It’s all delightful to watch.

The Week Ahead

  • Pleased that next week should be more routine even if that perhaps means less opportunity. 3 days at work and the ability to get to the gym twice.
  • Me and Dave are catching up with our old mates Cedric and Alan for coffee and lunch on Thursday, should be a real laugh. And Phyllis arrives on one of his royal trips to London on Friday.
  • Reaching out to old colleagues Nissa and Gilly from Comic to meet for coffee. Plus see if Pete, who went to the same school as me, is up for dinner.
  • Currently reading three books: Memorial by Bryan Washington, The Kingdoms by Natasha Pulley, and another edition of Dr Who Short Trips from Big Finish
  • Try to catch-up on some free vids to help me with my personal development around tech including no code
  • Need to think about getting more art and culture in my life

And Finally…

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