Big events are back – good or bad?

Mon 25 April – Sun 1 May 2022

May = probably the best month of the year: improving weather and 2 bank holidays. And this year, with the big event of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, we get an extra bank holiday! Technically the two days are 2 + 3 June but in the week commencing Monday 30 May. Also, on a personal level, my colleague will be back from sabbatical so work should be a bit less frenetic.

My previous blog here reflected on the week after Easter which was a bit less busy than normal. However, last week was a more intense one with a couple of big events:

  • I attended and spoke at the AWS London Summit. Perhaps more a gigantic event raising issues about being with lots of people inside again and sustainability concerns.
  • Me, Dave, and my mum journeyed up north to spend time with Dave’s mum and check out how mobile she was after her fall.

Tech For Good / Work Life Balance

Speaking at the big AWS London Summit

AWS is the cloud service provided by Amazon and I spent all Wednesday at their big London Summit. This took place at the massive conference venue Excel in east London. Site of one of the big unused Nightingale Hospitals during the pandemic; there just for PR purposes whilst the govt dumped covid-infected hospital patients on care homes so killing their residents.

Definitely fair to talk of the AWS London Summit as a big event. Indeed, someone told me that there were 12,000 registrations. Perhaps not too surprising as it was free but I would definitely recommend it if you have an interest in technology. Certainly several thousands there on Wednesday.

It felt so different to the zoom events we have become used to. It was just like the pre-pandemic days with people milling around in close proximity and very few masks. Did feel strange but also like what we are supposed to do as humans – interacting and socialising.

Though I do wonder about how much damage these sort of big events do to our increasingly fragile environment. These are the sort of issues we are going to have to deal with going back to in-person big events.

Death anxiety and climate change

How it went

My stint on the panel session about Sustainability and Social Enterprise went well though it’s always hard to tell for sure. A fascinating panel with two people from AWS, someone from Comic Relief (ironic!), a charity CEO, and a Head Engineer from a social housing organisation. Probably about 150 people in the audience and we got a clap at the end which must be a good sign.

I was nervous, not because I don’t like public speaking but because it had been so long since it had happened in a real life setting. And I think me treating this like a big event was shared by the rest of the panel who also seemed nervous. Bit surprised afterwards that I wasn’t approached by more people about doing pro-bono and low bono work for them.

However, I did make contacts with a couple of charities and I am really hopeful we can work with them. The fact they had stands at such a techie big event suggests they are the sort of tech-proficient charities we would love to support. Follow ups on LinkedIn and calls (meets?) to be set up for May.

‘No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.’

Heraclitus

Family and Friends

Visiting Dave’s mum

Surprised that I didn’t sleep that well after completing my big event at the AWS London Summit. Perhaps just the adrenalin still flowing through my system and not being used to being around so many people.

So awake early on Thurs morning as we had to get up to Dave’s mum’s place. He picked up the car and we drove over to pick up my mum. Then up to the North. Decent enough journey and hotel check-in.

Not clear what to expect

Definitely a big event to go and see Dave’s mum. For Dave, it was an opportunity to see how limited her mobility had become after her fall. And my mum was keen to see Dave’s mum though she must have her own worries about the future and her own mobility becoming limited. I’m actually delighted that we were all pleased with how Dave’s mum was able to get about.

Waiting for answers

Dealing with limited mobility

We hired a wheelchair but had to use it only once – when we took Dave’s mum around a large garden centre. Thankfully she was able to get in and out of the hire car. And was able to do short distances either leaning on a trolley / frame or using her walking stick. There was only one night she called Dave at the hotel to say she had fallen getting out of bed and couldn’t get up such that he had to go and help her back into bed.

Another successful big event

Overall, it was a good few days away though a bit indulgent but then what’s wrong with that? After all, it was a big event for all of us after the difficult year Dave’s mum has had with her health problems. And Dave is trying to work out how best to support her at distance. Plus for my mum, she hadn’t seen Dave’s mum for about 3 years.

Irene

Another big event was catching up with my former colleague Irene. Big in that it’s lovely to meet with such a nice person. But also big in that she has reached a key phase in her life where she is seriously thinking of relocating to Spain or central America. I took her to the Union Jack Club on Tuesday and we had a nice drink + lunch in the bar. The plan for next time is to travel down to Woolwich to meet up.

Books and Reading

‘The Lamplighters’ by Emma Stonex

Just one novel completed last week. A contemporary one and a good read. It’s the fictional story of three lighthouse keepers who disappear in the early 70s. The lighthouse is discovered with the door locked from the inside and the three men missing. Shifting between the 70s and the 90s, this is the story of what happened and how the women left behind dealt with it. Secrets are revealed and an explanation given – though is it really what happened?

Rows and rows of beautiful books

Current reading

  • Picked up the latest winner of the Booker Prize at the library – ‘The Promise’ by Damon Galgut. One of those authors I have meant to read and never got round to. Also on a theme (modern families) that ain’t really my thing. But it is very good – more details next week.
  • Still enjoying on my kindle ‘Ariadne’ by Jennifer Saint. Taking longer to finish than expected because I read it as I’m walking and last week didn’t have as much solo walking as other weeks.
  • Still by my bedside for intermittent reading is ‘The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying’ by Sogyal Rinpoche. All about how to deal with the big event in our lives that is the point at which we die. Really do need to dip into it more if I am ever going to get to the end.

“The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.”

Oscar Wilde

Sustainability

When cars are a necessary evil

I have to admit that me and Dave hired a car to get from London to his mum’s place in Lincolnshire. We have taken the train before but this time we had my mum in tow. Plus Dave’s mum is now far less mobile. Indeed, we weren’t even sure till we got there if she could get in and out of the car.

I felt guilty but the idea that cars are intrinsically evil is too simplistic. I hate cars – they bring out the worst in people. But the reality is that for many they are a necessity. For instance, if you have a disability, have to move kids around, or simply live in an area with crap public transport.

Plants and charity shops

This was very much a feature of our big event in going up to see Dave’s mum. Me and my mum love the charity shops in the area. Plus me and Dave love checking out the plants available at the garden centres and big supermarkets.

Our day at the local charity shops was Saturday morning though one of our favourite ones had closed – mum got on very well with a volunteer there last time. And I missed out on the Salvation Army shop that shut at 1pm. We didn’t go silly but we bought some nice bits (clothes and books primarily) and supported local charities.

The big spend was plants – me and Dave stored them in the shower so they got watered each time we had a wash. We only buy low cost and reduced ones. There is definitely something nice about saving a plant that appears on its last legs.

Several Heuchera plants from Morrison’s on offer for £1 per pot. Plus lots of ivy. Dave got some Alpine plants and I got another indoor one as well as a lovely smelling applemint plant for my window ledge.

Beautiful tulips

Health and Efficiency

Gym

Due to our big event up north, only one session last week on Tues morning. Me on my own again at my little gym and the opportunity to focus on my legs as well as my upper body. Saw a report during the week that said the recommendation for osteoarthritis now is exercise + ibuprofen gel if necessary and definitely not addictive opioids. 25 sessions since the start of the year = £20 per session.

Weight

I didn’t bother weigh myself as I’m pretty sure it would be a disaster with the indulgence of time at Dave’s mum. Fish and chips on Thurs night which was lovely but too much. Then the garden centre and cake on Friday. Saturday finale was an evening meal at a very busy local Beefeater. Interesting that the calorie counts on each meal did make me think twice about what to order and I went for a lower calorie meal than intended.

Pig face

Personal Development

Generally this went well. I continue to try to get a Duolingo lesson done each day as a minimum. Main days I missed were Thursday and Friday. That was all about being distracted by our big event up north. But that was a good distraction. Also worth noting though that even when I did manage to do a Duolingo session, it was frequently just Spanish rather than German as well as I aim to do in each lesson.

“People respond well to those that are sure of what they want.”

Anna Wintour

Art and Culture

So with gearing up and doing the AWS London Summit session then going for our big event in the north visiting Dave’s mum, there was no time to do cultural visits. But I continued with watching quality TV. ‘Life After Life’ on Tuesday evenings really is beautiful and thought-provoking though neither Dave or mum are into it. Only managed to catch part of ‘Art That Made Us’ on Thursday. It was about ‘The puritan revolution’ and I must catch up with the full episode on i-player. Finally, watched the (all female) semi-final of ‘The Drop’.

The Week Ahead

  • Another bank holiday (hooray) – another less busy week? Hopefully as I have also booked Friday as a day’s leave.
  • So just one day of work on Wednesday but it’s already looking frenetic
  • Should get to the gym twice which I am really looking forward to
  • Will definitely finish ‘Ariadne’ and ‘The Promise’ then the excitement of starting new reading books
  • Aiming to get to a gallery or museum. If not, then will just make do with ‘Art That Made Us’, ‘Life After Life’, and the final of ‘The Drop’
  • Focus on a daily Duolingo Spanish and German lesson

And Finally…

Not gay as in happy but queer as in fuck you

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