The worst month is over, the shortest is to come

Mon 24 – Sun 30 Jan 2021

We are at one of my favourite points in one of my least favourite times of the year. January is (almost) over. A dreary month. This year marked by being unusually dry in London – climate change. 🙁 And February is about to start. Weather is similar to January but at least the new month is slightly shorter.

And once we get to March well there may still be bad weather. But the days will be noticeably longer – it doesn’t feel like they are longer at the moment. And we can look forward to the holiday of Easter. And then warmer, brighter days leading to summer. 🙂

Be happy and grateful about nice things

I know you shouldn’t wish your life away. Rather you should enjoy every moment as if it is the last one. And every month gone at my age is a month closer to inevitable decline. So I live life day by day, week by week, month by month and try to enjoy myself as much as possible. Meanwhile as a colleague in Australia said to me this week, aren’t you guys going to have a war?

Gran Can cancelled

Gran Can hotel lit up

A big thing in my previous blog here was about the possibility of cancelling my annual winter break in Gran Canaria. And so it came to pass that me and Dave decided to do just that. TBH, it didn’t work for either of us regarding our work commitments. No point in spending holidays doing work or simply worrying about it. Indeed, we both feel much more relaxed now. Next year I happily look forward to a fortnight, month, or even two in Gran Can at the start of 2023.

Health and Efficiency

Gym and weight

One of the best things about last month is that I started back at the gym. Two sessions again last week on beautifully quiet weekday mid-mornings. Had the place to myself. And 5 gym sessions so far means, based on the annual fee I paid, £100 per session. Only drawback is that both times last week, the jacuzzi was closed for cleaning. The problem with off-peak times is that they do off-peak stuff like cleaning because it is quiet.

I can definitely feel the benefits of returning to the gym. That lovely feeling of your body having been worked in the hours and days afterwards. But there is no good impact on my weight so far. I am definitely stuck at a weight comfortably above 13 and a half stone. Losing weight would need significant action that particularly with the busyness of work ain’t realistic at the moment. But I’m not giving up and letting myself go just yet.

World's Strongest Man

Books and Reading

‘A Capitol Death’ by Lindsey Davis

One of two books I finished last week. Davis writes about the adventures of a Roman private investigator family. Initially Marcus Didius Falco who was latter joined by this wife. Now retired, the books are focused on his daughter carrying on the job, Flavia Albia. I have read Davis’ whole series. This is a fun (though slightly unrealistic) story. I would definitely recommend her books but read them in order. More details on Davis and her writing here.

‘Dr Who: Short Trips. A Christmas Treasury’

Doctor Who's Tardis

The other book finished last week. Volume 11 of Big Finish’s short story collection and edited by established Dr Who writer Paul Cornell. These anthologies are easy reads and ideal for bed before entering the oblivion of sleep. This was totally the wrong month to read this book with its Yuletide stories and whimsical things such as sketches and poems you might find in an old-fashioned Christmas anthology. Not great Dr Who but always fun though ultimately forgettable.

My current reading

Sticking with just two books on the go as we enter the new month. Still reading ‘Memorial’ by Bryan Washington, an upcoming black gay author. It’s on my kindle and I’m mainly reading it as I’m walking. And it’s very good. Not a million miles away from another book I recently read, ‘Real Life’ by Brandon Taylor. Very contemporary reflections on the lives of young American black gay men as they deal with issues related to race and sexuality as well as more general stuff around family and relationships.

Meanwhile, I have gone back to the future for my other reading book. Picked up ‘The Kraken Wakes’ by John Wyndham for £1 in a charity shop. I have meant to read it forever. Surprisingly short and set firmly in the 1950s when it was written. But it is brilliant. Beautifully constructed and brimming over with ideas that reek of the paranoia of that period but also encapsulate sci-fi thinking that doesn’t feel nearly 70 years old.

Family and Friends

Dave’s mum

Big news last week was that Dave’s mum finally had the operation she’s had put off twice already. It’s always worrying when parents have to go into hospital especially when they are in their 70s, 80s, or 90s. She went in on Wed and her op was on Thurs. Dave went up and stayed over from Fri. Because of Covid, he wasn’t able to visit but did pick her up on Sat. We had hoped she would be out on Fri but she had a ‘turn’ and had to be kept in one more night. Pleased to say that she seems to be making a great recovery.

when only bed and rest can help

Meanwhile my mum is fine. I spent plenty of time with her. Though so often when I do I am working and spending most of the day on zoom in my bedroom.

Tech For Good

Busy, busy, busy at work. Features of last week:

  • Meetings and check-ins to make sure we are on course to successfully conclude our big delivery project
  • Regular catch-ups with my colleagues in the demand team looking at how we can better engage with clients to meet their requirements
  • Zoom liaisons with colleagues in London, Brighton, Newcastle, India, and Australia
  • Preparation for upcoming conferences including the Third Sector Tech Summit next Thurs; I am attending and Thoughtworks is one of the sponsors. Free to attend so why not sign up?
  • Several zoom events on the days I don’t work (Tues & Thurs). Many are recorded but it’s finding the time to watch them.

“If life were predictable it would cease to be life, and be without flavor.” 

Eleanor Roosevelt

Personal Development

Duolingo and No Code

Ongoing success with both areas of my PD. Indeed, January has been a good month for progress. Did miss out one day on my Duo Spanish learning but, overall, steps forward especially revising verbs in the past participle. Meanwhile, I’m not doing the No Code exercises but I am storing up the daily 100 Day Challenge emails plus recording everything via Airtable – see my table here. My intention is to catch up on all this some time in the future.

Sustainability

Plodding onwards with my attempt to live a more sustainable lifestyle. Fascinating to have a climate catch-up climate chat with one of my work colleagues last week – why not arrange these at your workplace? We swapped updates on what we are trying to do to tackle climate change. I went through my anxiety around taking too many flights. Could I live with just one return flight per year? Two might be more realistic. From now onwards, I won’t be doing weekend city breaks or other short-term visits that involve flying.

Plane flying

Art and Culture

No big visits to museums or galleries last week. I just always seem to be too busy with work, spending time with mum, and now the gym. Apart from reading, most of my culture comes via the TV these days. Old fashioned in itself as most young people would probably access their culture online. Enjoyed my soaps as usual – an art form in themselves. My guilty pleasure is Sunday night on Channel 5 watching ‘Bargain Loving Brits in the Sun’ and ‘Hotel Benidorm – Sun, Sea and Sangria’. It’s the life I would love to live.

1984

Sunday in my favourite charity shop, I came across a DVD of the original ‘1984’ film made in 1956 – details on it here. I had never seen this and had an ‘enjoyable’ afternoon watching it. The story is well-known but it is fascinating how close we are to 1984 in so many ways. Totalitarian states, party orthodoxies, revisions of history, and your actions being constantly monitored. Also, what a weird coincidence with this film and the Wyndham book that I had a weekend immersed in 1950s sci-fi.

The Week Ahead

  • A busy week at work. My co-colleague goes on sabbatical for about 3 & a half months from Fri. so lots of handover stuff.
  • Also looking forward to a social event with our delivery project team on Wed evening and a client qualification workshop on Fri morning
  • Dave’s back on Mon but I will be spending a lot of time with my mum as usual
  • Back for my regular INR (blood clotting) test on Tues. Due to Tech Summit on Thurs looks like I’m only going to make the gym one day next week. 🙁
  • My mate Rob from Brighton was supposed to be coming up at the weekend but we have had to call it off. This is because of the dreaded annual weekend engineering works on the line which made the train journey a long-winded nightmare.
  • Good news though that I have a catch up with my old Comic Relief colleague Sue on Fri 🙂
  • Velvet Page Book Club (in-person!) on Thurs, might make it if I’m not too tired after the Tech Summit

And Finally…

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