Preparation – the theme of the moment

Mon 27 Sept – Sun 3 Oct 2021

Sometimes a week has a theme and last week was about preparation. At work, we are getting ready for the start of delivering two pro-bono tech consultancy projects and there is a helluva lot of prep work being done. Meanwhile, I seek to prepare myself for the coming of winter that autumn heralds.

Heath and weight

Mental health – the dreariness of autumn

I always find this time of year gets me down. It’s all about preparation for shorter days, increased gloom, dampness, and colder weather. I loath this – all I can see is dreariness until Easter. Indeed, I find it hard to get up in the darkness before sunrise and I could quite happily hibernate for the next 6 months. How wonderful to sleep and use up my fat stores to awaken in sunshine. Of course, there is Christmas and my February holiday in Gran Can to look forward to. But I can’t disguise how I dread for this time of year whereas in Easter it is elation with summer to look forward to.

Sad man

Weight – preparation for summer?

My weight is staying the same as you can see here. Primarily due to moderated eating including some periods on non-work days of semi-starvation. Reinforced by long purposeful walks.

Every year around this time I think, ‘I lost the chance to be thinner for summer gone but now is the time to take action to be ready for next summer’. Wishful thinking? Possibly, but if you kick a door often and hard enough then it will give way. No reason I can’t start losing a little bit each week so I am thinner with a body I feel more happy with for summer 2022.

I can hear!

Mentioned in last week’s blog (read it here) that I was going for my six-monthly suctioning of wax from my ears. I knew it was due as I was having problems hearing. All went well and I can hear clearly again – hooray! Very nice audiologist who informed me that he has some people who have it done every month. Thank goodness I don’t have to do that.

Did the full beauty treatment last week by also having my monthly haircut LOL.

Tech for Good – projects coming

“Don’t worry about failure; you only have to be right once.”

Drew Houston (an American Internet entrepreneur, and the co-founder and CEO of Dropbox)

As said, last week at work has been very much about preparation to start delivery of 2 of our 4 pro-bono tech consultancy projects – one to be delivered by the end of Oct and the other by Christmas. It is easy to criticise consultants for various reasons but one of the things I did not realise is how much preparation good consultants do before the ‘billing’ period starts. This meant us doing loads of meetings and stand-ups for the week just gone.

And great to work with such enthusiastic and excited colleagues. Yep lots of forming and storming still going on in our teams. But you can see the shape of things coming and the level of expertise plus deep thinking happening. Meanwhile, we also continue preparation for the other two pro-bono projects to start in Nov and Dec by working to get the staff in place.

Other good work stuff that happened last week:

  • Liaison meetings with internal colleagues including my ‘cultivator’ (mentor)
  • Talking through a new idea to get volunteers with tech and project experience matched to projects that need them for short periods of time
  • Post-work drinks on Fri evening. A great chance to unwind and meet new people.

Books – 2 excellent books completed

As hoped in last week’s blog, I managed to finish both of the books I had been reading and thoroughly enjoying.

‘The Mirror and the Light’ by Hilary Mantel

Got through the nearly 900 pages of this excellent book. TBH, it didn’t feel like a chore. Rather it was a complete pleasure to read. I looked forward to catching up with the court intrigues and didn’t really want it to end. Not sure I felt much sympathy for Thomas Cromwell – if you live by the sword then you die by it. Constantly pushing his luck until it ran out. But if you are working for a monster like Henry VIII then there is no way to win.

“The truth is rarely pure and never simple.”

Oscar Wilde

‘Exhalation’ by Ted Chiang

A collection of short stories all very deep and thoughtful. Though ultimately, as with many short stories, quite easy to forget. But I remember they made me feel wonder at how imaginative Chiang is. If you like contemporary writing that deals with near future issues then this is for you. And particularly fun that at the end point of this book, Chiang explained how each story came about. This could be useful for all short story collections.

I did especially enjoy two longer stories. One about online created lifeforms. And the other linked to quantum theory. I don’t totally understand the latter but I take some comfort from the possibility that there are a limitless amount of alternatives realities. So somewhere I have a washboard stomach!

I keep a record of all the books I have read here. Often this is for my own benefit to remind me what I have already read. Like another collection of short stories by Chiang called ‘Stories of your life’. Though for the life of me I can’t remember anything about that book.


I suppose my actions around this theme are about preparation for retirement, old age, and death. I aim to offload crap in my life and live with less baggage. Plus I hope I can make a contribution to tackling the climate emergency.

‘Why did I buy all this shit in the first place?’

Billy Dann

Exchange and charity shops

I wasn’t put off by my recent disappointment in taking a load of DVDs to the Notting Hill Exchange and getting just £5 worth of vouchers for them. Tuesday, I took a load of books up and these generally had a better reception. But again only vouchers, no cash. And they didn’t want some which ended up at the local Oxfam. The latter has a very good online secondhand shopping service, view it here.

And on Sunday it was fun to take some stuff to the charity shop from the rubbish area at Dave’s flats. A kid’s bike, foldaway chairs, and a stool all too good to just go to landfill.

How hoarding feels

Holland Park

Walked back from the Exchange via Holland Park. Definitely one of my favourite natural spaces in London. Woodland and fascinating to imagine what Holland House would have been like before it was bombed to pieces in the war. I also love the classy outdoor gym by the tennis courts.

My plants

I am still looking after my indoor plants and my window ledges. Apparently we should always create external natural spaces no matter how small as, inevitably, they will benefit wildlife. This might just be insects but still important to encourage them.

Family and Friends

Mum’s loud TV

Time with mum who remains OK. Though, as with many older people, I notice that she often has the TV very loud. ‘Do you need to check your hearing?’ I suggest. ‘No!’, she replies. And with the weather getting colder I can see her preparation in the desire to put the heating on and make the flat stifling hot.

Dave is ill

Big news last week was my partner Dave being ill. Nothing major, a cold. Though he is a typical man and acts like he is dying. Indeed, too ill to come out with me for dinner at our favourite local cafe on Thurs (he must be ill to turn down a free meal).

Major worry on anything like this is ‘Could it be Covid?’ Two tests done and both negative so you have to assume it isn’t. Interesting that a colleague at work had also had a bad cold as did all his family. And none tested positive for Covid. So suppose there must just be colds going around.

Meeting old friends

No great connecting up with friends last week. But I’m feeling I should be making contact with old friends and so I am doing the preparation for that. In particular, contacted my friend Pete who was in the year above me at school. Basically the only person I am in contact with from school but our later lives have so many similarities. Hopefully we will catch up in the next few weeks.

Meanwhile, had my weekly phone catch-up with Philip on Tues. Indeed, stopped and talked while I was having my wander around Holland Park. All is fine with him. Can’t wait for my holiday in Torremolinos at the end of the month. And I have started the preparation for that particularly around having proof of my double vaccine jabs.

Art and Culture

Not a great week for this. Main highlight was finding out that Big Finish had a load of Dr Who Short Trips audio-stories on special offer. So spent a wee bit and downloaded about 20 stories to listen to as I’m on the move.

Doctor Who's Tardis

Good news – personal development and QPR

With preparation for winter, it’s so easy to be downhearted. But there is some more good news beyond my brilliant new projects starting. Two particular things. First, I carry on with daily language learning in German and Spanish. Plus getting my head around Python and understanding a bit more about coding. Second, QPR are back to winning ways with two victories last week. Up to 6th in the table which means play-offs. Preparation for the Premiership?

The Week Ahead

  • So one of our pro-bono projects starts this week and another the week after. Thus lots of action and preparation. A coming week of kick-offs, stand-ups, and showcases.
  • Also meeting with some voluntary sector orgs and planning for activity next year
  • Moved onto two new books. One about how crap at school can ruin your later life (‘Now and Then’ by William Corlett). The other is another volume of Big Finish’s Dr Who Short Trips all about unforeseen consequences (‘Repercussions’ edited by Gary Russell).
  • Velvet Page book club on Thursday. Be nice to attend in person though I’m not sure what book we are talking about.
  • Might try to get a GP’s appointment to discuss my knee which is still causing me problems. And I need to do a big renewal of all my non-HIV meds.

And Finally…

Race war in America

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