Work and ride

Yesterday was an office day. Big things happening and I had a meeting to attend and present at.

I had planned to be out of the house by 7am, as I like to be early. Unfortunately, the medication I am taking has other ideas as one side effect is making me fall asleep, the alarm must have been snoozed many times before I dragged myself, bleary eyed, out of bed.

Several cups of tea later, I considered using the car, but that seemed a backward step, so I uncovered the bike, removed the chains and cranked her up, letting her warm for a little while as I sorted my boots, bike trousers, jacket and helmet out. One disadvantage of using the bike is the amount of prep time it involves. Unlike the car where you can just jump in and be off, there are a few tasks I perform before setting off on the bike. It has become like a ritual to me. Even to the point of stopping outside the front, adjusting the mirrors, then finally popping the lights on and slipping first my right glove, then my left, before setting off. Clearly the order is of crucial importance.

We are approaching winter, so disadvantage number two, the cold. I don’t mind it so much, at least, I dont mind it while we still have temperatures above freezing. The ride out cleared some cobwebs, my journey is mostly urban dual carriageway with 50 mph limits, though I generally ride a little faster, and lots of roundabouts and traffic lights.

Two thirds of the way, I took a slip road and started using the gears more, through various twisties, roundabouts, and much more fun overtaking. Car drivers are generally curteous and ease over slightly to let you pass. And no articulated lorries with open back doors to contend with. Bonus!

The day was a busy one, we had greeters at every building, goodie bags and various events. It was great catching up with a number of colleagues too. All these things are absent from your day when you work from home. The presentation went well and late afternoon as I was finishing stuff off in preparation for going home, a colleague asked if I could help out and explain a few techie things with some of what seems to be my trademark….diagrams! We found a room, and a few additional colleagues who wanted the same info, and I went through my spiel, coloured pens in hand, with my scribbles on a flipchart.

All sorted, sunset was drawing close, it was later than expected. I packed up and headed out. The return trip was back through the twisties as darkness descended. That had my juices flowing, as I rejoined the dual carriageway the volume of traffic had picked up and I was already in the swift mindset. Each junction and roundabout became a series of rapid downshifts, filtering through the traffic towards the front of the queue, slip into neutral, bike grumbling as I sat at the front slightly forward of where traffic stops and racing starts as lights changed to clear out of the way of the car drivers.

A satisfying way to finish to the working day. It was only as I stripped of my bike gear that I realised how damned cold it was.



Hiatus – A gap or interruption in space, time, or continuity; a break

There has been a short gap in my blogging – assuming you can define three weeks as short. Normal service will now be resumed. Please fasten your seatbelts, place trays in the upright position.

It amazes me that airlines used to also say “Please extinguish cigarettes”. Really? You could smoke on a plane? In an enclosed space, speeding through the atmosphere thousands of feet above the ground.

Not only that, but back in the day, the medical profession actually recommended that people smoked. The Journal of the American Medical Association published its first cigarette advertisement in 1933 only after careful study, claiming that its cigarettes were “Just as pure as the water you drink… and practically untouched by human hands.”

Wow, it is amazing how things have changed. And I hasten to add, I am not really that old, the quote was located with the help of my friend Google.

Spare a thought for a moment for what life was like back in 1933. The first world war had been the “war to end all wars”. The roaring twenties had been a time of great prosperity. And then the great depression had hit, unemployment reached new heights (up to 25% in the US, 20% in the UK). People were struggling to feed themselves across the globe.

Germany was in no position to repay the incredibly high and unrealistic reparations and fascism took hold. But not just fascism. Socialism was in full swing and the working men and women across the world were swayed by the ideals of communism.

It was a tumultuous time.

Can you tell I just finished reading “Winter of the World Part 2” by Ken Follet? I read the first installment last year in hardback. This year, I happened across part 2 at the ripe old price of 20p for the Kindle version on Amazon. I damned good read, though I felt a bit bad for Ken. After all, he writes a very good yarn and no doubt spent a long time crafting the story.

All the above puts my own struggles and strife in perspective. We have never, ever, had it so good materially. We have freedoms and technology unimaginable by our forefathers. And we have a duty to make sure those freedoms are not chipped away, eroded, by increasing attempts from politicians to turn democracies into police states, with every thing we do recorded and monitored. These freedoms were hard won.

Hmmm. That was a bit heavy for a Monday morning! I suggest you go have a smoke or a very strong coffee, laced with caffeine and sugar. You might need it.

The long weekend

The urge is strong this morning. Two, mutually exclusive urges. I feel like smoking. Smokers know what I mean. The sort of thing where you strike up and inhale each time like it was your last. And I feel like firing up the bike and going for a blast. Not a potter around town. The type of ride where you take the bike through the twisties at the limits, the limits of the bike, with pegs scraping, and the limits of your ability. This weekend though, I’m going to be doing neither.

I dont remember the last time taking some time off work. In fact, we are in the second half of the year and I have four weeks of untaken leave. I had been saving them for the transplant operation, but that isnt happening. So last night, I set my out of office notice, shutdown the laptop and started my long weekend.

We are shooting off later today (in the tin can, not on the bike) for a weekend away. We both need and deserve it. My wife is tired, work has been tough on her too these past few months.

First though. I have an appointment with my doc and then a trip to hospital to see the consultant.

Then we are out of here.

I’m H.A.P.P.Y

A lighter post. Or…..And now for something completely different.

For people that know me, I am quite an intent and focussed individual, with a darker, edgier sense of humour. Some people might call it sarcastic. Others may describe it as having a deep sense of irony or dry humour.

Last night, my wife asked me “What was that program…you know…the one where they sing ‘I’m H.A.P.P.Y’ as part of the intro”. I remembered the program from my childhood, James Bolam was in it, but I couldn’t remember the name, so I picked up my tablet and searched for it on youtube, as you do in this day and age. Within seconds, I found this video of the theme tune.

This may be quintessentially a British thing, but I grew up on a healthy diet of these types of TV shows. And dry humour along with double entendres were staple fare. And I love it. I had an English teacher who epitomised it. We got on great.

I do love comedy. Achmed the dead terrorist had me literally crying with laughter the first time I saw it. And Lee Evans is one of my all time favourites, he does remind me of Norman Wisdom alot too. Monty Python is another favourite, much to my wife’s chagrin. Best watched after a few drinks.

So there it is, my sense of humour can be blamed on the TV. If you need a daily dose of humour to start your day, you could do far worse than follow Humorous Dispassionate.

Hiatus…changes….and I slipped

When I started this blog, I intended to blog about the process of donating a kidney to my sister. As time went on, I found myself blogging about different things that life presented me with. I started to record my thoughts and feelings which isn’t something I would normally publicly air, though this medium provides a degree of anonymity. And as part of the living donor process, I blogged about my research on giving up smoking, along with the daily happenings as I gave up after nearly 30 years of smoking every day. This latter part had to happen really. I was up to between 30 and 40 a day and had began to feel short of breath when climbing stairs and other similar activities.

Over the last four or five days, I’ve took a hiatus from blogging. After finding out that I could not donate and sharing the news with my family, I had something of a downward spiral. But life goes on. Chin up as my Dad used to say when we were kids. Her preparation for dialisys will continue and there are a few possible donors.

I had a few cigarettes too. Perhaps this was a little dumb, but I found myself craving a smoke even more that when I initially gave up. That caught me unawares, after nearly five weeks I hadn’t anticipated that. So over the course of a day I smoked three. Less than half of three actually. Part way through each one, I asked myself what was I doing. They werent particularly nice, or foul, and certainly werent making me feel any better. That was a few days ago now, so I am back on the wagon so to speak.

I did some research for my sis. She doesn’t use the internet and had a question about whether someone close to her would be in a position to donate. So I read alot of things about being a living donor. Stuff I had purposefully avoided in the past. Which included the risk and chances of different illnesses happening to the donor. I hadn’t been completely blind to them. At my initial session at the donor clinic the nurse went through all the different risks, some of them were surprisingly high, but it was information overload and frankly, I didnt want to know the percentages. I’d made the decision and had to trust that they new what they were doing, that they wouldn’t be proceeding if the risks became untenable. During my research the night before last, the thing that stood out for me was the chance of a stroke or heart related problem. The NHS page states 1.8%. That seems pretty high. And it makes sense of why they are not willing to proceed with my donation.

This blog will continue. As my sister begins dialysis and searches for another donor, I will record what I can here, along with other thoughts. I do want to thank everyone for their kind wishes, it is been heartwarming and uplifting to receive them.

Chin up.