Retrospective – learning from the past?

Mon 15 – Sun 21 Nov 2021

A sad week in that me and Dave found out that there was no hope for our dear friend Stephen. I mentioned this in last week’s blog that can be read here. Turns out he is too ill to recover. Devastating news as he was only mid-60s and we can both him remember him in humorous conversation not long ago. This has put me in a very retrospective mood, assessing where I have been and perhaps where I am going.

Being retro, where was I this time in the past?

The past is confusing and it is easy for our memories to play tricks on us. Luckily, I have been writing a weekly blog for about 7 years which gives me the opportunity to be retrospective whenever I want and to do it accurately.

2020

One year ago (read it here), we were in the first week of the second lockdown. Which I suppose shows how far we have come. But how much further we could still go if every fuckwit would get the vaccine and wear a mask!

Meanwhile, I wasn’t working after being made redundant but I was doing my jog-runs plus there were INR problems – see below, some things never change. Phyllis was thinking of moving to Torremolinos and Trump was still president; so there has been progress.

2014-2019 (before Covid and Johnson as PM)

Same time in 2019 I was actually in Torremolinos but it was chilly – I remember that. Indeed, mid-November seems to be my normal time for a trip there to get some winter sunshine (though 2015 I was in Gran Canaria). Turns out first time I ever went to Torremolinos was in mid-November 2017. But in 2018 was when me and mum moved into the new flat on on our estate.

It’s apparent from my blogs that I was doing a weekly 10K jog-runs, going to the gym, and even swimming regularly. God I miss all this though I don’t think my knees would take doing a 10K now and my time would be sooo slow.

Also my old chaps in Brighton (Bob and Brian) were still alive and I was visiting them. Wonderful to think in Nov 2014 that I had a catch-up with my much loved and missed friend James who died of cancer.

‘If corruption is a disease, transparency is a central part of its treatment.’

Kofi Annan

Health and Efficiency

Health and efficiency magazine cover

Weight – never give up giving up

As I said in my blog last week (read it here), with my weight it is all about never giving up giving up. Very pertinent in that I stayed the same at 13 stone 9.5 pounds. Primarily because I had some food binges and didn’t do enough exercise. Long walks but it’s hard to feel motivated with the cold and dark weather.

As I am in a retrospective mood, it’s useful to be able to look at how my weight has varied since I started keeping a record in 2015. You can see the details here. The interesting thing is that it has varied from near to 13 stone right up to about 14 and a half stones.

So where I am now is not awful, it has been far worse. Plus I feel a bit inspired in how I have reduced it from much higher levels. Going retro is not always bad, sometimes it gives inspiration related to what you have achieved previously.

INR – the saga never ends

My retrospective review of previous blogs shows that my INR has always been problematic. Keeping it in the right space between ensuring my blood is not clotting and I am not at risk of internal bleeding has been a constant struggle. Test last week suggests we’re back into the risk of clots. So changed dosage of warfarin and back for testing again next week.

‘Walking is man’s best medicine’

Hippocrates

Friends and Family

Nissa

So nice to have a face-to-face catch-up last week with my old job share and good friend Nissa; we did the Tech for Good stuff at Comic Relief. Retrospectively, I loved that time. We did so much to nurture the wider Tech for Good movement and make sure funders provided it with resources to grow and develop.

We met up at the Science Gallery Cafe near Guy’s Hospital. Lovely to just chill and talk about working life plus our families especially Nissa’s lovely son Freddie who I last saw about 3 or 4 years ago. He’s started school now.

Online: Amy, Jo, Barry

Plus some good online catch-ups last week with colleagues I have known for years. With Amy who now works at Nominet helping to oversee their excellent Tech for Good commitment. We first met when she was working at Oxfam.

And with Jo who works at the brilliant anti-poverty charity Turn2Us. Again, I have known Jo for years and we first met when she was working on a breast cancer app. Great to talk tech with both of them.

Also a catch-up with someone new – Barry at HappyPorch particularly to discuss the circular economy.

This all reinforces my belief in the power of the online world (the metaverse?) to reinforce existing and create new friendships. Yep, I love meeting face to face but it’s also useful in terms of time to be able to have these types of video conversations. The pandemic made them more ubiquitous and normal so I suppose that is one of the good things that has come out of it.

Family – Dave and mum

Alternative pic of older person

One of those weeks where I didn’t see too much of Dave. I left him to his own devices as he had loads of prep to do before his big event on Thurs night. Plus he spent a lot of time at the hospital visiting Stephen and supporting his partner. Really feels like I hardly spent time with Dave last week. Thankfully we did manage to get to the Union Jack Club on Sun for a drink and dinner. So nice to have some chill time together occasionally getting a bit retrospective.

But if I didn’t see much of Dave then it was the opposite with mum. Spent a good amount of time with her. Indeed, may have spent too long as on one of the days we had some harsh words with each other. All OK now but, let’s be honest, parents are never easy.

Art and Culture

Hogarth at Tate Britain

Finally, put some art and culture into my life last week. Went to the retrospective of Hogarth at Tate Britain – ‘Hogarth and Europe. Uncovering City Life’. TBH, I found it a bit disappointing. I know Hogarth is a fantastic social commentator. But that’s the point. We know that and we’ve been told that an infinite number of times. Indeed, his work is so well know to us. And I don’t think this exhibition added anything.

Indeed, I wasn’t sure what it was trying to tell me. That there were artists in the mid-eighteenth century working in the great European cities? Of course there were. And so what? Interesting that it was one of the worst attended exhibitions I have been to in a long time. I found it disappointing but it’s on for a bloody long time (why?) so I might revisit to check if I missed something.

Hogarth and Europe. Tate Britain

Books and Reading

Willa Cather – one of my favourite classic authors

She really is one of my favourite authors of all time. Indeed, her book ‘Death Comes for the Archbishop’ is one of my all time favourites. The book I read last week was ‘The Professor’s House’. Written in 1925 it is a multi-layered treat. A reflection on the white middle class of inter-war America that shifts into a boy’s own adventure and archaeological story before coming back to a man who finds some sort of ease with himself.

But there is a huge queer theme to this book. There is an ongoing debate about if Willa Cather was a lesbian. For me this book has two gay sub-plots. First, there is the central character of the older American academic reflecting on his obsession with a dead young male student. Then there is the Brokeback Mountain story of two young cow ranchers discovering an abandoned Indian city. We are left with an older man who accepts his life is probably not what he would have wanted but it is what it is.

What I am currently reading

Couple of books on the go at the moment:

  • My ‘normal’ reading book is ‘Embers’ by Sandor Marai. A beautiful Hungarian novel originally written in 1942 about two old men meeting after many years apart.
  • On the kindle, it’s ‘Broken Stars’ – a collection of Chinese sci-fi short stories edited by the brilliant Ken Liu. Some better than others as with all these types of anthologies. But did read a very good one by the excellent Cixin Liu reflecting on how going back in time to make things better may actually make them worse.

Tech for Good

One delivery and two discovery projects

Three very busy work days last week. We’ve still got our big delivery project going on. Meanwhile, there is the current discovery project which finishes next week. Discovery projects are generally messy. What was often intended as the primary outcomes change as the intense work progresses. And there is that whole creative process to manage. Meanwhile, me and Jeantine are getting the team in place for our final discovery. That has been changing as people have become available and unavailable.

Personal Development

My retrospective review of previous blogs at this same time of year shows that I’ve been doing the same personal development for years. Is that a bad thing, does it suggest I have failed? I don’t think so as the nature of personal development is that you need to keep on at it.

Languages and coding

Though, TBH, not good last week. Did manage some Duolingo language learning but not everyday unfortunately. And no real coding practice. Why was this? Not sure, perhaps last week was simply busier than I thought.

Knee exercises

And really struggling to do my knee exercises every day. Seeing the physio next week but I’ve been doing these same exercises for weeks. And, basically, I’m bored of them as they don’t progress in any way. Do they make my knee better? I honestly don’t know. My knee’s not worse but I also can’t say it’s any better.

“Why fit in when you were born to stand out?”

Dr Seuss

The Week Ahead

  • 3 more intense work days as we finish one discovery (showcase on Wed), do prep for the one starting the following week, and continue to ensure our delivery project delivers.
  • Looking forward to a video catch-up with my old colleague Chris at Nominet. And a face to face with my old Comic Relief colleague Irene.
  • Finally got my physio appointment on Tues for my knee. TBH my expectations of what will come out of it are low. At least I can’t be disappointed.
  • INR again on Tues. The joys of living with chronic conditions.
  • Carry on with reading as well as try to get my personal development on a more even keel. Perhaps some more Art and Culture. Plus hopefully progress on my weight and contributions around sustainability.
  • Going to throw myself into the trash fest that is ‘I’m A Celebrity’. One of my guilty pleasures. With some top totty in the shape of Matty Lee and Danny Miller.

And Finally…

Kyle Rittenhouse

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