Semi-retirement begins and the pain of getting trolled

Mon 6 – Sun 12 June 2022

A very interesting week just gone for two main reasons. First, my semi-retirement really started with me going down to a 2 day working week on a contract due to finish in Dec. And I suffered first hand the the horrible experience of being trolled for no good reason.

The party is over

Although last week also felt very much like life after the party was over. The Jubilee long bank holiday weekend was a party. We relaxed, had fun, forgot about normal life for a bit. You can read my previous blog about it here. But after every party, the clear up happens, normality returns, and we think about life in terms of the fun we had.

Walked across St James Park and saw all the stuff being taken down and transported away. Back to earth with the no confidence vote in the Prime Minister. History suggests once a Prime Minister is put up for a no confidence vote, then they are in terminal decline. Meanwhile, red meat: refugees shipped to Africa to appease racists.

Work Life Balance

Semi-retirement begins

Moving down from 3 to 2 days per week represents me doing the least paid work I have ever done. I haven’t fully stopped work, don’t think I ever will. But I can’t see myself working full-time again in the future. Plus I have given up on the traditional career progression.

I will still be working hard to do the job I am paid to do albeit for less days than before. But I still find myself checking work emails on my day off. In a lot of ways, that’s OK if it means keeping on top of things. Though I do need to remember that sometimes when I am working I am not being paid.

“Time moves slowly, but passes quickly.”

Alice Walker

Sustainability / Tech For Good

The pain of getting trolled

Funny that in my first week of semi-retirement, I had to adjust the official days I work (Wed and Fri) to accommodate the talk by Gerry McGovern. We did this on Thursday lunchtime. Gerry is a digital waster campaigner. And this was the event that got trolled.

Basically we started the event by showing a video and during that a very organised attack happened. Key features were the troll(s) putting out abuse but impersonating legitimate participants whilst distracting the host with a concerted number of direct messages. After a few minutes we had to just shut the chat down and mute everyone which inevitably and sadly constricted the event.

So bloody pointless

This was purely about disruption without any reason. I could understand if it was political but it was about pure and simple disruption. You do have to wonder if it is foreign hackers simply causing trouble from some totalitarian state like Russia or China? Don’t want to be dramatic but if I had to compare it to anything then it’s like someone coming up to you in the street and for no reason shouting abuse in your face and pushing you over then just running off.

Learning points

  • Don’t blame yourself, trolls are bastards and they just love causing pain for no rational reason
  • Keep calm and move quickly to shut them down. Anticipate that they will know this is what you are trying to do.
  • Absolutely key to keep carrying on otherwise they win
  • It’s more restrictive but the Zoom webinar format stops trolls better than the more open normal Zoom meeting format
  • I now have the perfect answer to the interview question: ‘Tell us about a difficult situation you faced and how you handled it?’ Though semi-retirement hopefully means I won’t have too many job interviews to do again.

Gerry McGovern’s inspirational talk: ‘Dealing with the Data Crisis’

What was so fucking annoying is that Gerry did a great talk on an important issue and some genuine participants got expelled because we couldn’t tell the trolls and genuine people apart.

Gerry spoke about ‘Dealing with the data crisis’. Basically the fact that we are generating too much data which increases the demand for raw materials and energy which fuels the climate crisis.

There are challenges to be made on his argument. But he genuinely made me think about how, in this era of semi-retirement, I can create less data and use less energy. Fundamentally dealing with the climate crisis cannot just be about using the same current amount of energy but hoping non-polluting forms of energy creation will appear. And, as Gerry says, mining can never be sustainable.

Please do look at Gerry’s site and sign up to his regular e-bulletin

recycling symbol

Getting rid of stuff and being nomadic

A key part of my semi-retirement is that I am increasingly convinced I want to lead a more nomadic life. Indeed, I have expressed this in previous blogs. Semi-retirement will give me opportunities to do more travel in an environmentally friendly way. That means not just jumping on a plane and going for weekend breaks.

But a nomadic lifestyle means travelling light and not weighing yourself down with stuff generally. So I continue to get rid of things I own and avoid acquiring new stuff which is key for all of us to tackle the climate crisis.

“Well done is better than well said.”

Benjamin Franklin

Baby blue tits

One of the best experiences is simply sitting in Dave’s flat watching the little birds on his balcony. Last week, there was the treat of the arrival of several newly hatched blue tits. You can tell they are babies because they are smaller, noisy, and energetic. Plus beautiful to see the parents (who are often only slightly bigger than their offspring) taking food from the fat balls and putting them into the mouths of the chicks.

Close up of a blue tit

Health and Efficiency


Semi-retirement means more time to do what I want and I need to use that time constructively. I managed to get to the gym twice last week. But it was a bit uneven in that I did two consecutive days: Monday and Tuesday mornings. Nice workouts on both days. Deliberately not too intense and shorter than my usual sessions – 40 mins instead of 60. Would have loved to have gone on my other non-work day (Thursday) but I had to be around for Gerry’s brilliant talk (and the bastard trolls).

35 gym sessions since the start of 2022 = just over £14 per session.


Semi-retirement means I can really start trying to deal with my weight. I have actually started to keep a record of my weight again which can be seen here. I feel I have the time to put the effort into losing weight and, hopefully, I am carrying less stress. Simply I must not just fill my precious new time with eating and drinking alcohol. But I am realising it is hard. As my HIV consultant said, it is much easier to not put it on in the first place than to have to take it off.

man weighing himself

Books and Reading

  • Completed reading Volume 15 of Doctor Who Big Finish Short Trips book – ‘The History of Christmas’. Short stories some very short but very imaginative. A really fun and thoughtful book. Loved the story about the Doctor meeting a saint.
  • Started to read ‘The House on the Cerulean Sea’ by TJ Klune. Was one read at a recent Velvet Book Club (I must get to more of these in semi-retirement) and much lauded.
  • Still going on with the short book on literary theory (heavy). And on my kindle reading Elizabeth Knox’s ‘The Absolute Book’ which I continue to be in two minds about. It’s good but drags.

Family and Friends

  • A key aspect of my semi-retirement will be the opportunity to spend more time with family and friends. That started last week with a celebration coffee on Monday afternoon with Dave.
  • Spent time with mum as usual. I wish I could get her to go out more, she’s become a bit housebound as an after-effect of the pandemic.
  • A phone catch-up with Phyllis who has had his stitches removed from his head injury and is getting back to being his old self.
  • A zoom check-in with Chris who has just left his job to return to doing research. We have so much in common in terms of age and the feeling that time is ticking by so we should do the things that really motivate us.

Art and Culture

Manchester Art Gallery

Semi-retirement means I should take more opportunities to experience and participate in art and culture. In particular, visits to museums, galleries, and the cinema. One of the things I would love to do is to start making art again. Had this aspiration at the start of the pandemic but it didn’t progress. Slightly inspired by the return of art programme ‘Drawers Off’ though I think it’s not as good as before with the use of professional models for life drawing rather than artists themselves taking it in turn.

The Lion King

So lucky for me and Dave to get a couple of free tickets to see this theatrical treat on Thurs night. TBH, I haven’t seen the animated film in full but I know the story and the stage play is honest to that. Indeed, it’s an impressive presentation especially in terms of the puppetry. And it has more famous songs than I remembered. However, it is very much a ‘made for children’ musical (it is Disney) with loads of kids in the audience. Indeed, loads of school trips and I felt sorry for the teachers.

Love Island

My secret pleasure has restarted. I love the trashiness of it all and the machinations of those involved. Clearly Michael Owen’s daughter Gemma is using it to launch her career and she isn’t coming across well. I would love my semi-retirement to be a bit like being in Love Island. Chilling, flirting, enjoying life but doing it all without hurting the planet or other people.

Surprise on the phone

Personal Development

Semi-retirement is going to have a strong emphasis on this. Not least to try and stave off dementia LOL. Absolutely delighted that last week I managed to get Duolingo language lessons done everyday in Spanish and German. To make progress on personal development, I need to start also watching more foreign language films and begin exploring how I can develop my tech skills. I think YouTube may have a big role here.

The Week Ahead

  • Second week of semi-retirement and just two days of work before I go off with Dave for our trip to Berlin, first time me being there in about 3 years.
  • Work is very much about identifying projects for our staff to support not-for-profit orgs in their tech journeys. Also me and my colleague Jeantine are exploring the opportunities that No Code / Low Code could offer.
  • Aim is for 3 gym sessions next week: Mon, Tues, Thurs
  • Carry on with the long, hard, slow work of trying to lose weight
  • Must finish reading ‘The Absolute Book’ so I can work out if it is good or not
  • Me and Dave are treating my mum to lunch next week
  • Would really love to get to a gallery or museum
  • Continue language learning in particular

And Finally…

Priti Patel is evil

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