Combining – what life is about but it’s not always easy

Mon 11 – Sun 17 Oct 2021

It’s interesting the amazing revelations you can have whilst just sitting drinking a cup of coffee. I realised how my life, and everybody’s life, is so much about combining. And sometimes this is successful but often isn’t with contrary things clashing with each other.

Last week I was trying to combine being ill with keeping going. Plus I am seeing in so many aspects where we are all combining living our normal lives with trying to deal with the climate crisis. And combining how we can live in a liberal democracy but deal with people internally and externally who want to destroy it. Also combining a love of food with the need to lose weight, combining getting old with living in a society dominated by youthful beauty, etc. You get where I’m coming from?


My prostate scare

Life is all about combining good health with bad health and trying to postpone the thing that will eventually finish you off. As Stalin apparently said, ‘You can kill everybody apart from the person who succeeds you.’ I wrote in my previous blog (read it here) about the big worry around my prostate. Second blood test suggested things were less serious than the first one indicated. But to the GP for the infamous finger up the bum examination. No wonder men ignore symptoms of prostate problems.

Turns out I have a prostate that is getting bigger due to me getting older. But it’s not cancerous – hooray! Thus, another permanent tablet to add to my daily cocktail which should shrink my prostate over the period of a few months. Instructive to have this health scare as it has made me think about the future. How do I combine doing the daily everyday stuff but also living life to the full and not ending up with regrets?

Pic of my meds case

Knee problems

Some good news on my chronic knee problem. Well I think so but it could be the equivalent of going down a rabbit-hole. Spoke to my local borough physio service based on my GP’s referral. Got an appointment for the end of Nov which is a long way off. But in the meantime I have an app providing me with daily exercises to do. They are simple but actually quite taxing. Interesting on the initial telephone referral that the assessor recommended taking up swimming. Haven’t really got the time but food for thought.

Caught a cold

On a less dramatic front, got my first cold of autumn / winter. I have written how Dave had one and I suspect this is what I picked up. Really came on at the start of last week. Tested for Covid and that came back negative. The fascinating thing about a cold is how it comes and goes in waves. Wed I was combining working with feeling really ill – not a good strategy but that’s my crazy sense of duty. Felt better on Thurs but then felt really ill again on Fri night. I’m at the stage now of on and off hot flushes and coughing up rough green phlegm.

spreading disease


I admit I have a love of food and alcohol. So I’m combining this with my awareness of the better health that I could have by being lighter. Plus there’s a total vanity element. No great weight achievement last week even though I had a cold which theoretically should mean eating less. Yep sometimes I felt too ill to eat and other times I needed nice food to deal with my sense of being ill. Perhaps a half pound loss but unplanned and I have no knowledge if it could be the start of a trend.


As I get older, my life becomes increasingly about combining normal life with constant medical appointments. INR test last week to check on my blood clotting propensity as I take a blood thinner. Annoyingly it was too high which means I could be at risk of internal bleeding. Thus change in the level of medication and a return to weekly checks for the near future.

Bleeding finger

Holidays are coming – yippee!

I am combining the need to work to earn money with the acknowledgement that I am probably dead in 20 years time so I should enjoy myself. Big thing on this is looking forward to holidays, something that the pandemic really impacted on. Off to Torremolinos at the end of October. Should be some sun though not guaranteed to be boiling at this time of year. Still can’t wait, basically 5 working days to go then I’m off. TBH I’m on countdown. It’s that thing about pacing yourself to be able to cope with everything that gets thrown at you by life.

Sun with glasses

Tech for Good

A week spent working completely remotely as I didn’t want to go into the office and infect anyone with my cold.


Our big delivery project started last week and our first discovery project is intensely simmering with completion next week. The former has started the whole forming and storming process that is necessary to get to a successful conclusion. That wonderful confusion at the beginning as people explore, discover, test, and combine. The latter discovery project (lasting just 3 weeks) has gone through this phase and rapidly moved on to norming, conforming, and performing.


I am half way through my current one year contract at Thoughtworks. And I have learnt so much. Not least the issues nearly every business and organisation is facing regarding combining trying to not damage the climate and further social justice whilst also remaining profitable. The latter is true even for not-for-profits who cease to exist if they don’t make enough money to cover their operational costs and be able to set aside some in reserves for a rainy day.

I have also learnt about so many issues in managing innovatory tech projects in resource limited settings. How not-for-profits can’t pretend they don’t need to use tech and that face to face is not the peak of the pyramid whether in service delivery or fundraising.

Saw a great webinar on Wed by Fareed Zakaria who basically said that success depends on riding crises (for both democracies and dictatorships), organisations that don’t really change will become less successful (strange how you can say this a million times and people still don’t listen), and that the future is about endorsing tech more rather than less.

“Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.”

Oscar Wilde


‘The City in the Middle of the Night’ by Charlie Jane Anders

Just one book completed last week – I am still reading ‘Black Spartacus’ by Sudhir Hazareesingh. But Anders’ book is very much about combining: two fantasy cities that need to combine to survive and the begin of two different species physically combining. A good escapist fantasy / sci-fi novel. What is also interesting is that all the main characters are female (including in the alien species). Men are relegated to bit parts and there are no developed male characters.

Personal Development

  • Duolingo – Carrying on with trying to do daily exercises in German and Spanish. I feel like I am creating a good foundation in both.
  • Mimo – Also continuing with my daily exercise on this app to understand more about Python
  • Salesforce – Did a work-based daily training everyday last week in using this which is the basis of our CRM system. Very useful as Salesforce is so prevalent in modern organisations.

Interesting that I should have attended some AWS training during the week but this was crowded out by everyday work. It’s a problem we all face – combining doing work-based personal development with finding the time away from normal duties to do it.

“Control your own destiny or someone else will.”

Jack Welch

Art and Culture

Squid Game

Me and Dave succumbed to the cult of Squid Game. This Korean programme is brilliant. We’ve been watching an episode or two every time I visit his flat and finished the series last week. Very well presented though not a totally original idea nor plot and I predicted the outcome. The dubbing was also a bit annoying initially but you got used to it. It is fascinating how the Korean influence on modern ‘western’ culture has grown. Witness how popular K-pop is.


So I continue combining living a comfortable life with trying to damage the Earth as little as possible. Keeping consumption to a minimum and being with nature. I’m still offloading stuff – suspect this will take years but it took years to accumulate. Did take a big bag of stuff to the charity shop at the weekend.

My upcoming holiday

I have a slight bit of guilt about my upcoming Spanish holiday. I am flying as the train would take too long to get there and I only have a short amount of time-off from work. I offset my occasional flying with the fact I don’t have a car nor do I have kids. I also try not to do short breaks, indeed I will be in Spain for 11 wonderful nights. Doubt I will want to come back LOL.

Plane flying

Family and Friends


Spent time with mum last week but tried to keep my distance from her due to my cold. I really don’t want her to get unwell. Good news that she has had the details of where and when to go to get her Covid booster. It’s whilst I’m away but she should be OK getting there herself.


I am having a real struggle combining the busyness of everyday daily life with keeping in touch with my friends. I do have my weekly chat with Philip in Spain and it will be good to see him when I go on holiday. However, I have been trying to set up some meets via the internet with friends. Will be for when I have returned from holiday now as the free time I have left before then is quite limited.

progress being made

The Week Ahead

  • Dave is going up to spend some time with his mum in advance of her going into hospital for what is, hopefully, a relatively simple operation
  • Fingers crossed for less emphasis on health though have to keep up my daily physio exercises and back for another INR test on Tuesday
  • Emphasis at work is on combining managing the current projects with preparing for the next ones and generally clearing the decks before I go away for my well earned R&R
  • Looking forward to a work social event on Wed afternoon, going out for a vegan tea
  • Will carry on with the kindle book about black hero Toussaint L’Ouverture. Have also started ‘Liza of Lambeth’ by W Somerset Maugham. His first book which is very good. Also quite short so I should finish it next week.
  • Excited about seeing old school mate Pete for dinner on Tues evening
  • Might treat myself to a museum or gallery visit next week as Dave is away and my time is my own (theoretically)

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