The Calm Before the Storm?

Sun 28 June – Sat 4 July 2020

In a normal year

July and August would be their usual non-event. Those two months when the sun is out and people go on holidays. The main problem being covering for colleagues and keeping cool as temperatures rise. But this year’s summer months are so different. It’s one we are not going to forget and time is going to come in stages from now on.

God only knows what the near future holds

We got through the initial phase of the pandemic. Now we try to move back to the famed ‘new normal’. But we know there could well be another outbreak of the disease. And the rest of the world churns: China takes over Hong Kong, Putin is president for life, Trump prepares to steal the election, No Deal Brexit chaos looms, and social tensions continue based on racial prejudice and general frustration.

Yep it really does feel like the calm before an upcoming storm – possibly a very bad one. We don’t know what is next but it definitely ain’t gonna be the sunlit uplands promised by the Brexiteers in the referendum.

Calm before the storm

Books and Reading

I managed to get a bit more focused reading done last week. Indeed, what better way to enjoy any calm before the storm than immersing yourself in a good book? But also how nice it would be to have a storm of reading. 🙂

‘The House of Impossible Beauties’ by Joseph Cassara at the Velvet Page book club

Velvet page book club

Cassara’s book was the one we read for the Velvet Page book club on Thurs evening conducted, of course, on Zoom rather than at Waterstones on Piccadilly. God knows when we will ever get back there. I really liked this book. Very gay themed and set in the time of voguing, balls, and houses – mid-80s New York.

It feels as though it is very much based on the film ‘Paris is Burning‘ which you must watch if you have never seen it. And the whole topic has been made trendy through the recent TV series ‘Pose’.

I don’t think the book is perfect. It’s pretty much in the genre of gay tragedy (everyone is dying of AIDS), it is centred on the Latino community whereas there should have been more inclusion of the Black community to be authentic, and the ending for me felt unsatisfying – like falling off a cliff. But, overall, good.

However, nearly everybody else in the group didn’t like it. 🙁 They found problems in its general authenticity, that it was too dreary and grim, plus it was simply too long and rambling. Some people didn’t even bother to finish reading it – this never crossed my mind! Always funny how books can result in such different reactions. 🙂

The Forward Collection

various cybermen

The other thing I’ve been reading has been this collection of short stories. Produced for Amazon, there are 6 short fictions each by a leading contemporary author and centred on the theme of the future. 3 read so far:

  • ‘Ark’ by Veronica Roth A touching apocalyptic story about how the world could end and how little things in life always matter.
  • ‘Summer Frost’ by Blake Crouch Bringing together concerns around video-gaming, artificial intelligence, and the singularity – that point where computers become more intelligent than humans.
  • ‘Emergency Skin’ by N.K.Jemisin Aliens visit the Earth but who really are the aliens and who are the humans?

Health and Efficiency

Jog-run and walking

A nice 5K jog-run on the previous Sunday – the new normal for my big weekly exercise. 3rd week in a row for an improved time which is nice. Details can be found here. Meanwhile I continue to try to have a decent walk every day and attempt to hit my daily 10,000 steps target. This is reinforced by the big weekly walk to and from seeing mum.

Weight

man weighing himself

Pleasantly surprising that my weight seems to have stabilised around 13 stone, 6 and a half pounds. Probably about 2 or 3 pounds heavier than when lockdown started. But that ain’t bad considering the crap I’ve been eating and no gym.

Calms can be bad and storms good

One thing I have been very aware of in writing this blog is that generally when we talk about ‘the calm before the storm’, it’s primarily envisaged as a negative event coming. But in terms of my weight and other personal stuff, it could be a good storm. Could I initiate a storm of extra exercise and diet control that could push me forward to a better body and a more healthy lifestyle? Food for thought.

INR

warfarin tablets

Back to get my blood clotting levels checked on Thurs. Not over range (so prone to internal bleeding) as before but just at the bottom of the range (so prone to blood clots). Therefore adjustment in medication and back to recheck again in a fortnight. 🙁

Personal Development

Similarly to my thoughts in ‘Health and Efficiency’, this is where the calm before the storm could be a negative and unfulfilled calm to be relieved by a fierce and beneficial storm where I focus on achieving the development areas I keep on talking about. 🙂

Powering ahead with languages and deleting emails

I did manage to keep up with my language learning last week but then I always wish I could do more. No tech learning – that could well be part of my personal great storm to come. 🙂

But I did keep up with my personal and work emails. This included starting to go through lots of old read ones and deleting them. At the end of the day, it’s all just baggage with no point in being retained; felt quite liberating!

Family and Friends

Pleasant time with mum

No catch-ups with friends (apart from work colleagues) and no family bingo as it moved to Thurs evening and clashed with the Velvet Page. But I did my regular weekly visit to check up on mum. I always take a present and this time I went over with a cake.

Time for a new TV

Mum was fine and we had no craziness as detailed in my previous blog (read it here) where I had to charge about to sort out we had phone contact with her after I left. However, I did have to take delivery on her new TV and set it up – actually relatively easy and quite intuitive. The sound had gone on the old one. Mum loves watching the television, although she hasn’t got over the disappointment from Jeremy Kyle being taken off. 🙁

Thinking ahead

I think from next week we are at the stage where I can start moving back in and stay with mum for extended periods to properly keep an eye on her. If we have a lockdown again then I’m going to have to think about if we isolate her alone again. Though hopefully a localised lockdown would only be for a much shorter period of time.

Art and Culture

Mine and society’s skewed priorities

Difficult times ahead - calm before the storm

This really is another empty calm I hope will become a crazy, creative storm. Nothing major to report in this area primarily because other ‘important’ stuff crowds things out. I finished watching old Glastonbury highlights last Sunday and I did my reading but that really was about it.

TBH I still can’t understand why bars and shops can be open but theatres, museums, galleries, and swimming pools can’t. 🙁 I suppose that tells us what kind of sad society we are but that’s what we have chosen…

Work Life Balance

Still hard to get the balance right

I was determined to put this last in my blog. Over the last few weeks I have not done well in keeping a good work life balance. And it was as busy last week and I still struggled to keep to the part-time hours I have chosen to work. I must keep reminding myself that life is not determined just by the work you do.

Highlights and disappointments

But perhaps putting this as the first item in my blog, as has been happening, gives it prominence in my mind and my life that this should not have. Thus, this week it comes last of all but it was still busy. Good and bad bits:

  • Listening to the CAST webinar on the projects and learning that came out of the last Tech For Good programme
  • Doing shortlisting (reading and scoring applications) for the new Tech For Good programme
  • Failed to listen into the Clinks conference or a session by AbilityNet on technology to combat loneliness – simply other stuff needing to be done
  • Catch-ups with the wonderful people who make up my great team – a really decent bunch of people 🙂
  • Giving feedback to an organisation that didn’t get a large and important grant – never easy and it’s always that they didn’t do anything wrong but rather that the successful bid was just a bit stronger in some key areas
  • The usual onslaught of Zoom meetings 🙁

The Week Ahead

  • Lots of work meetings planned this week, it’s going to be another interesting week of trying to not ensure boundaries between my own and work time.
  • Going to read the other 3 short stories that make up the Forward Collection and start a new ‘proper’ reading book
  • Will do my regular Sun morning 5K and try to incorporate as much walking as possible into my life
  • On Wed, it should be my 6 monthly blood tests at hospital and collection of 6 months’ worth of new meds. Changed to a video catch-up which may (but probably won’t) lead to blood tests and then (hopefully) get my meds posted to me.
  • Planning to get my feet seen to at the chiropodist, I didn’t realise they’ve been open all through the lockdown – doh!
  • Will be seeing mum next week which is always ‘fun’ 🙂
  • Focus on getting some Art and Culture into my life as well as continuing my language learning

And Finally…

Second wave of Covid is coming? Are we in a calm before the next storm?

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