Friday, 3 July 2020

Having no fear of missing out

Powering down and resetting goals

I get distracted, something like losing a sense of direction or some focus, it is unsettling and upsetting, but I know it is momentary, it would pass. I have learnt not to try and force things because it only yields frustration, the kind that dogs you with the feeling that certain things you could have done did not get done, all in the wake of procrastination.
Yet, in these times where there is no social activity apart from that which you create in another form of distraction to give your mind that time to rest and recalibrate to matters better absorbing, you might also get some sleep. Like I have written before, this s no time to be driven or set inordinately ambitious goals because of the availability of time, it is a better time for a complete power down and reset.
The world is going nowhere
I think like this because the world is also at a standstill, even in Formula 1 racing, if you took a pitstop, somewhere behind the leader, you probably do not expect to come out ahead, only better equipped to catch up. There is no fear of missing out [FOMO], the world is not running away.
I am learning new things, both for my career and in self-development, all at an easy pace, using the leverage of my curiosity to get beyond the immediate and exploring further to obtain enlightenment.
It goes without saying that the greatest distraction that affects me the most is the desire to somewhere with someone, in the eagerness and expectations, we harbour, we know it would be soon. I can live with that because hope is a good thing, it keeps you looking forward and looking up, who I care for will soon be in my embrace, it is a comforting and peaceful thought.

Bashful Reticent Introverted Amusing Naughty - III

Patient in impatience

The morning could not come soon enough, I must have dreamt some of the most beautiful dreams in a long time. What I could not forget was the embrace we had, it was like my body was more prescient than my head. The feeling was calming like my blood pressure had come down a good few points. Not something I could remember I felt but from 15 years before.
I was eager for the day to get on, yet I had to curb my enthusiasm. Mid-morning was the limit of my restraint when I sent a message inquiring if he slept well and was up for the lunch date. When he responded in the affirmative, I sent a cab for him as I prepared for our meeting. I had a good mind of where we should go.
Soul with a soulmate
At the hotel, we made for Melrose Arch and found a restaurant for a healthy lunch. I probably spent more of the time talking. He was reserved, he later said he was nervous all through. I was too mesmerised to notice. After lunch, we called a cab for Sandton City during which I discovered his quick wit and nothing could conceal his smile that took over his whole face.
After ice-cream at Häagen-Dazs, we returned to my hotel to relax, taking pictures before he left for his friend’s place and then for Bulawayo. I think by then, I had decided there was going to be more to our encounter, I was already planning my return to South Africa. His overnight bus trip back to Zimbabwe might have been totally inconvenience by my messages. I think I have found a soulmate.

Thursday, 2 July 2020

Thought Picnic: Be a fool, quietly

Abuse is free like air

Now, I have been at the receiving end of all kinds of abuse that it is a waste of mental energy to begin to find categories or classifications for those different types of abuse. What has mattered is how I dealt with abuse, the ones I could to run from, the ones that caused harm, the ones for which I was equipped to withstand, or the ones for which maintaining my counsel was the higher moral ground. Abuse, in the end, will not define me.
However, on reading a story and commenting on it on Twitter, I thought giving my views a bit of flesh on a blog can be useful. Some might say, having seen some of my blogs that I have opinions and many of them. I probably have many more than I have dared express and I hope that is the beginning of wisdom.
Be at home with your thinking
A football player based in Canada decided to go on a homophobic rant on Twitter, reinforcing his views with more deeply held opinions, and don’t we all have the urge to say just what is on our minds without let or hindrance? It is a free world. [Queerty: Football player goes on antigay rant, says he doesn’t care about getting fired, gets fired]
I would have felt that his being on a football team meant that he understood the rules of football and he was a good player. Also, as a Canadian resident, and I do not care to check if he is native or immigrant, this is a matter of knowing where you live. He could not have been unaware of the societal needs to accommodate diversity, no matter how diverse from his worldview.
Know when you’re mouthing away
I was a bit surprised that as a football player, he appeared not to know the difference between playing home and playing away. I would even aver that, in Canada, when expressing homophobia, you're quite dangerously playing away and not at home where your supporters would cheer you on to score a goal.
Basically, as I continued my Twitter thread, I stated, there are certain antics you never get up to when playing away, the consequences of which might be dire and grave for your team and the little troop of supporters that showed up for the away game. Therein is my lesson in football etiquette.
The unerring winds of social backlash
We live in times of the instant consequence for the slightest infractions, not to talk of the gravest sins of commission that would land in the docket of the unforgivable. By all means, you are free to have any opinion, it takes another force of providence, insight, intuition, or just reticence to realise you just need the discipline not to express every opinion you have.
I concluded, speaking more to myself than to others, in terms of expressing views that are discriminatory, exclusionary, or hateful, know the law of the land, the sway of moral outrage, and anticipate the unerring winds of social backlash that can dispossess you of your livelihood and make you a pariah. Be a fool quietly. Be not intrigued, I write first to adjure myself, whether it relates to others can only be an unfortunate coincidence.

Beginning Reaction Indication Affinity Notable - II

The chance for change

Strangely, I was not looking for anything, I was just on holiday in the sun during Christmas, a pleasure I last enjoyed on the beautiful environs of Taj Mahal some 7 years before. However, I could not excuse myself from this handsome man who initiated the conversation when I thought I had no prospect of a passing glance.
When we got to the bar and ordered drinks, we began to chat to each other, the topics veering from the serious to the trivial, punctuated with laughter and increasing affinity. I was a bit crestfallen when he said he was returning to Zimbabwe the next day, but it was significant to know that his journey would be late at night.
The lurch for lunch
Maybe, it was an opportunity or an opening, I seized it and invited him for lunch the next day, having exchanged numbers and making to leave. As we were leaving at the same time, his friend offered to give me a lift back to my hotel, which I gladly took. The further engagement on the trip to my hotel consolidated the prospect.
In a few hours, I have developed a liking for him. When he introduced himself, I asked if his name was ‘Brian with an I’, it could have been Bryan. Before I went to bed, I send a long message of appreciation and thanks for meeting him. I did not forget to remind him; we were going out for lunch the next day. Could it be I was falling in love?

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

Belief Review Interest Anticipation New - I

Then came a plan

I think about the time I helplessly fell in love at the end of December 2018. The trip I made to South Africa was one that had been on my mind for months, but it was difficult to plan for. As the year closed, I was put on a new regimen of pills that simply messed up everything normal about me and then I underwent a procedure that required a two-week rest, especially from air travel.
Immediately, after the rest, I was in Germany for work and it was there that I decided, if I did not take that holiday, I risked regretting it. I jetted out on Christmas Eve and arrived in Johannesburg on Christmas Day. Meanwhile, I was back on my old pills and feeling good in myself.
Mona Lisa is mine
Three days later, I saw this amazing person, not that I dared approach because he just looked like he would have eyes for something else. I resigned myself to the equanimity of a museum visitor. You can view Mona Lisa, but you cannot take it off the wall and walk home with it.
Reticent and shy as he suggests he is, he was the one who made the first move, saying Hello and that was the beginning of history. I just had a crazy thought that for the days until his birthday, which is the 7th of July, I might just write something about falling in love.

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

My dialogue as blogs

A slog of blogs

I never planned it this way, I was surprised that I was able to tap out more blogs than there were days in March even though I did not blog for every day in that month. In April, I found that for the first time since I started blogging, I blogged for every day in that calendar month, I just pressed on through ease and pain, the surfeit and the dearth of ideas of what to write about, then smashing through Writer’s Block to pen inanities.
In May, I repeated the April feat and in June, it was at least a blog a day for one hundred days. Imagine, the blog I am writing today gives me three straight months of blogging every day.
The log in blogs
You then wonder whether this self-congratulatory tripe is worth writing a blog about. I never said you will get to read fantastic material on this blog. It probably tends more to the trivial than the crucial. Maybe I am just celebrating a determined effort of discipline, proving to myself that it is possible to blog daily and I may just relent and relapse to the lazier type.
There is no saying what might happen, I would take a month at a time, or ambitiously, a day at a time, keeping doing it for as long as I can find myself able, inspired and determined to do it. The blogs might get serious or be a commendation of extant idiocy. It won’t be for the want of trying.
To flog some blogs
As we come to the end of the first half of 2020, I am not of the mind that the Coronavirus pandemic has ruined the year. Some plans have been postponed, we are sat at home working, living and for me, in retreat, making the best of things. This year is one of reset, we will rethink, redo, re-evaluate, relive, re-assess, and realise that there are opportunities ahead of us, to seize.
It would probably mean amazing inspiration for blogs, things I never thought possible becoming commonplace, dreams becoming moments to cherish for which incomparable words would materialise with descriptive abandon, and if we cannot live for the miracles of the joy of living, we can with faith find the substance for our hopes and share it in the bosom of love from the deepest part of our hearts to one first and then to others. Nothing is lost, rather beyond this is great gain and beauty unmatched.

Monday, 29 June 2020

I see the sun that shines out of that amazing smile

Our next date seems to be taking a while,
Yet, each morning I long to see your smile,
Does help me get through the long hard mile,
Always gleams in my mind, like it’s on file,
Your face lights up without any guile,
It has a deep beauty and great style,
Gosh! I dream of you and I on an isle.
You have the most perfect and alluring profile,
I run my fingers over softness so tactile,
Every moment with you really worthwhile,
And also the times we find the oenophile,
Our love almost looks so fresh and juvenile,
Let us both elope to live together in exile,
For with you, life is exciting and versatile.

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Neighbours and wine

Everybody needs good neighbours

This afternoon, I was ready to go out for a walk having had a soaking bath, I expected the weather to have improved. When I stepped out, it was wet and drizzling, not wishing to run the gauntlet of inclement weather, I returned indoors to watch old episodes for Columbo.
In aid of good neighbourliness and social interaction, I have met with my neighbours in the village complex courtyard for drinks, for about 6 weekends. Wine and port, biscuits and cheese, a lot of conversation, some banter, and laughs.
Today, we met indoors, a table set up in our shared corridor and two glasses of port or rather the South African variant, Cape Ruby, later, I was not tipsy, but I had enough to make me feel a bit sleepy in the head.
Sometimes, you wonder what you need to do in a day to make it eventful and worthwhile, then you realise, it does not really matter if you make the best of the moments and cherish the company you have. For that alone, we are grateful, and we can chalk it down as a fulfilling weekend.

Saturday, 27 June 2020

Just another walkabout

Just by the way of

I begin to write with no idea of what I am writing about, I begin, nonetheless. The thoughts in my mind percolating like coffee being made for a morning pick-me-up.
Maybe I should write about the chance encounter made possible by my taking a detour to take a look at the statue of Abraham Lincoln. Unfortunately, it is in the midst of a construction site and boarded up out of view. I suspect it might have temporarily been moved elsewhere. [Manchester History: Abraham Lincoln]
Then I came upon a bigger restoration site of our city town hall, a Grade I listed building completed in 1877 by the architect Alfred Waterhouse renowned for over 600 architectural works around the UK, including Strangeways Prison in Manchester and the Natural History Museum in London. The town hall is undergoing a 7-year restoration until 2024. [Wikipedia: Manchester Town Hall]
Policing our curiosity
As I read the notices on the hoardings around the site, two policemen walking towards me were sharing information about what changes were being implemented. I was reading a list of the rulers, the rich, the famous and accomplished that had visited the town hall when I suggested to them to have their names on the list.
That began a conversation about the names on the list, the history of the town hall, my discoveries during my walk around Manchester, the joy of travel and so on. We concluded travel broadens the mind out of sheer curiosity and curiosity inspires the need to travel. In something like 20 or so minutes, we had such a meeting of minds that at another time, we would have shaken hands, we didn’t.

Friday, 26 June 2020

All scams are a variation of the same con

The comic I tore

I was walking down to school when I was a student at the Yaba College of Technology in 1983 when a man approached me asking for directions. Our little engagement was what he needed because there was very little I remembered of our encounter apart from the fact that I never got to school, I made my way back home and the money that was in my wallet had somehow become an old comic book.
I had met with a confidence trickster probably with the ability to mesmerise, I can only say that it was providence that guided my having my money in more than one place or I would have had a 7 kilometre walk ahead of me.
Red mercury trickster
Six years on, I was working at IT Systems, a computer services firm when I was called out to fix a problem at a supposed client’s office. Unbeknownst to me, I walked into a meeting where a man was making a business proposal to clear goods at the airport that comprised of suitcases of presumably unprocessed currency that needed to be cleaned up with red mercury. [BBC News: 'Red mercury': Why does this strange myth persist?]
He needed 40,000 Naira to collect his cargo and obtain enough red mercury to process the currency amounting to about 10,000,000 Naira. He was going to cut me in on the deal, but it felt too good to be true. It was a Friday and there followed two sleepless nights in which I agonised about getting the police involved. In the end, I let it go because it would have been trouble, I did not need. Providence was looking on me.
Printing money instead
This was around the time that a classmate of mine who ran a printing press decided the better option was to cut to the chase and print money instead. We all found out when they were paraded on television, I do wonder what happened to him after that.
Many years after that, I met with another old classmate, wily and cunning, he was from when we first met, we were supposed to be friends, but he was trouble, big trouble. Having arrived in England, he applied his wiles to credit card fraud and at a traffic stop, he was cornered by the police who on searching his vehicle found a treasure trove of evidence that sent him to prison.
In prison, he came to and sorted himself out with the outcome of studying law. He, however, was refused leave to practice in the UK that in the end it returned to Nigeria to establish himself and dabble in politics.
None is harmless fun
None of what these people did was harmless, they inveigled their way into confidences and trust, beguiled, suborned and deceived people, some of us gullible and even stupid, through their tricks people have lost savings and fortunes, none of these crimes are victimless.
I only have to look in my spam folder to find someone selling something or offering a cut of some phantom sums of money that have come into their possession by illicit means, they are usually soliciting help to launder the funds if they exist, but once they have reeled you into their enterprise, you will probably be sending them money instead, and by the time you know what is going on, they are gone, gone, gone, with your money, and playing the same tricks on another hapless customer.
Much as I have been a bit unsympathetic to those who have fallen to scams, I guess my early experience taught me to be wary of snake oil salesmen. There is no easy money to be made, except in a bequest or the luck of a lottery, but don’t be fooled because there are people out there who can make fools of us and when they do, sadly, a fool and his money are quite soon parted.
My blogs about scams

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Africa: Slowly moving from the Unthinkable to Policy

Organisations for inclusivity
Four years ago, today, I met up with my colleagues in a bar in London, we were preparing for a march that our company was the headline sponsor of. We were going to be in the front of the parade with a decorated double-decker bus in tow. Barclays Bank has been the headline sponsor of the London Pride since 2014. [Barclays]
Today in my Barclays T-shirt
Now, Barclays did have a progressive diversity and inclusion policy with forums for the exchange of ideas and much else. The new CEO of the bank had a backstory, his younger brother revealed to him in the mid-80s that he was first gay and was also HIV positive.
A bombshell of information and realisation that forged compassion, empathy, and love, first between brothers and then for causes. The causes that have helped the research for and availability of antiretroviral drugs for the treatment of HIV/AIDS. [Wikipedia: Peter Staley]
Governments for equality
This morning, I read that lawmakers in Gabon had voted to decriminalise homosexuality. 48 voted for, 24 voted against and 25 abstained. One of those who voted against decriminalisation said, “Forty-eight lawmakers have shaken an entire nation and its customs and traditions.” [Reuters: Gabon lawmakers vote to decriminalise homosexuality]
Whilst I understand the sentiment, for all the customs and traditions we hold dear, a sense of fairness and justice must prevail to the point that we are persuaded of the better of our humanity, accepting that people might be different without morally impugning them for who they are. The record shows that 48 were persuaded of the argument for decriminalisation, 24 were implacable and 25 sat on the fence.
What was also endearing was that it was the government that proposed the initiative. The Overton Window of policy and persuasion had moved the thinking about homosexuality to the right traversing the Unthinkable to the Radical to the Acceptable to the Sensible to the Popular and now to Policy. A lot of work must have gone into this initiative and I know we are still a long way from same-sex marriage, but this is a good start.
The Overton Window
Individuals for justice
Just over a year ago, it was the Botswana High Court that decriminalised same-sex relations, unanimously. It was Letsweletse Motshidiemang, a student at the University of Botswana that filed the suit and won through. Governments, organisations, individuals, and supporters are working on systems, structures, laws, and institutions to address the criminalisation of homosexuality in Africa. It is a human rights issue above all else. [France24: LGBT activists in ‘disbelief’ after Botswana strikes down laws criminalising homosexuality]
South Africa constitutionally affirms sexual orientation rights with same-sex marriage. A feature we hope to avail ourselves of at the earliest opportunity. As human beings, we are spiritual and emotional beings, we seek to live our lives free of persecution and prosecution, loving the people we choose to love without judgement or shame. There is no agenda at play, but freedom and justice without criminalisation on moral grounds is the battle on our hands, one at a time, change will come, and freedom will reign.

Wednesday, 24 June 2020

Ease yourself out of false propaganda of safety

What a hot day

We had a sizzling sweltering day today, the heat entering every nook and corner around the house without as much as a breeze outside. Yet, there was no better way than to shave with cold water from scalp to facial hair and then go a long walk in the shade.
Out towards Castlefield again I went, another route to see something else, sit by the wharf festooned with narrowboats, people out on the grass like a good summer’s day, maybe a picnic but not barbecues, it was like nothing was on their minds that has been on our minds for about 4 months.
Can’t trust this government
The government gives us an upbeat message about easing the lockdown and that things should open up and we can go back to the way things were. The truth is the government has no idea of what the virus is doing because they are not testing enough, there is no effective track and trace, the scientists are not singing from that hymn sheet and we had better be hearing the right tune.
We must exercise the abundance of caution, be wise and instinctive, what does not need to be done does not have to be done. Whilst we should not be paranoid, we must keep informed seeking out the smarter heads a long way away from the propaganda machinery of Downing Street.
You face a Coronavirus pandemic as this, not with the hubris, bluster and bombast of Boris Johnson, the braggadocio and swagger with which his government handled this virus has left 43,000 people dead. Individuals with names, families, friends, colleagues and connections to our world of significance beyond the statistics. Keep that in mind and keep safe.

Tuesday, 23 June 2020

Living on the force of hope

For a touch so human

The last time I had any human touch was over two months ago when I was in the hospital for my biannual check-up that would have involved phlebotomy and that touch was gloved the nurse in protective clothing and the needle went seeking veins in both arms without success that another nurse had to have a go too.
The other human contact I have had has socially distanced with friends in a park and with my neighbours on our weekly Sunday soirees for wine or port and a bit of banter.
Being alone at home as I have for months has been an exercise of mindfulness, the perspective formed of being in a retreat rather than in a lockdown situation. Thoughts of being restricted or limited are put in the background and away, as each day brings the promise of interesting things and my curiosity leads me to new discoveries that gladden and intrigue.
Phonetics from childhood
Even a chance encounter I forgot as I was out for a walk on Sunday, a father pushing his daughter in a stroller was on the phone as he was able to cross the road. What he was saying sounded familiar, he was speaking in Hausa. Obviously, I had a little chat to him, in Hausa, telling him my knowledge of Hausa was from over 40 years ago, before I bid him farewell, probing not further.
If my memory serves me right, I last saw someone speaking Hausa in Manchester probably 5 years ago in Argos, two ladies and their kids. We did not say much either, we just exchanged pleasantries.
On my mind, always
Another thing occupies my mind apart from work which is still not in as full as flow as one would like it to be. Brian, on my mind, in my head, and in my heart. Just how I wish I were counting down the days to something amazing. I miss travelling, I miss the company, I miss the companionship, I miss the embrace, the kisses, the love.
I look forward to a different time ahead, a wonderful time together, the fulfilment of a wish we both have and the promise we have made to each other, it is more than a consolation, it is a destination of good, wonderful and amazing things, I can hold on, he can hold on, we can hold on.

Monday, 22 June 2020

Coronavirus streets in Manchester - XI

Almost sleepwalking

With the drudgery of sleep in my legs, my mind was elsewhere, the supermarket visit I missed yesterday along with a somewhat purposeful walk in the cool of the evening. From my bed, I charted the shortest route to the Regent Retail Park, then set out to go shopping.
The trek was to take 32 minutes and it took me through Castlefield, the path that formed part of my return journey just over a week ago on Sunday. The queue was about 30 deep and I was soon in the shop, having laden my basket with goods, I was nigh on exhausted at the checkout till.
Packing the heavier bits into my rucksack, I had the rest in a shopping bag and made for home via a slightly different route and through the canal ways of Castlefield that I learnt was the birthplace of Manchester.
Castlefield as the birthplace of Manchester.
Coal and canals were the business.
Where inland waterways began
The Bridgewater name I have been seeing prominently around Manchester belonged to the Francis Egerton, the 3rd Duke of Bridgewater who happened to be a pioneer of canal building, this took navigation off rivers create courses of water for transport to strategic locations, first with Bridgewater Canal and then improving navigation between Manchester and Liverpool. He consequently made his larger fortune through his canal waterways and coal.
As I have written a bit about the River Medlock, I now have it on good authority that it was not always a malevolent force of nature. It was before the advent of steam-powered machinery used in the 18th Century on the wharves at the end of the Bridgewater Canal in Castlefield to drive cranes and hoisting machinery powered by waterwheels on the river itself.
River Medlock is not all notorious.
Overlooking Castlefield wharves.
On entry to Castlefield, but I was leaving.
Soon to come alive again
The social places, bars, restaurants, beer gardens are all deserted because of the Coronavirus pandemic, it is amazing how thriving all these venues would have been at a different time. The streets remain sparse, though I could not help but notice that down the road at Bridgewater House, people seem to be back to work and closing late.
For me, there is much more to discover about Manchester, even after over 6 years of living here. Until my next outing, we hope for the best and we look to a better future.
Castlefield on Google Maps.

Sunday, 21 June 2020

Coronavirus streets in Manchester - X

Towering over Manchester

The decision to get out for a walk is sometimes a fraught process. Like I could have with the good weather gone for a stroll, but I did not. My view of the weather forecast today from yesterday and it appeared it was going to rain, though I did not fully discount the possibility that the weather might be better than predicted.
When I eventually stepped out, it was already late and my intention of going by the large supermarket was thwarted by the fact that it was already closed.
The streets looked a bit deserted as I made towards Hulme crossing the Mancunian Way on a pedestrian bridge that allowed me to frame the tallest occupied (Beetham Tower. 2nd left) and tallest unoccupied (South Tower, right) buildings in Manchester in one shot, the former ceding the title to the latter.
The towers of Manchester.
A river runs around it
Down towards Regent Road, past the Regent Retail Park that I visited last week, I took the turn to the right unto Oldfield Road until I got to Chapel Street, turning left and viewing the ox bow course of River Irwell to my right.
Panoramic view of the ox-bow course of River Irwell.
Further on, you realise that Manchester is, in fact, a city of three universities, two in the city centre and the third in the City of Salford, the University of Salford. This backs unto the first public park in England, Peel Park founded by public subscription in 1846 and bordering the River Irwell.
Panoramic view of Peel Park.
In the park we find the statue of Joseph Brotherton who was the first Member of Parliament for Salford and holding the office for 24 years. More intriguingly, is the obelisk with a water level marking for the height of the Great Flood of Manchester in November 1866, reaching 8 feet 6 inches or 2.59 metres. That was just mind-boggling when I saw the expanse of land that would have been covered by water.
Obelisk with flood water mark.
A park to play
Apart from being the main public venue of the 1851 royal visit of Queen Victoria to Manchester, the park allowed for various leisure and sporting activities absenting people from poor living conditions and pollution of industrial Manchester along with being a popular spot for first dates.
After sitting by the river for a while, my journey back home was over River Irwell on the pedestrian bridge onto the finger of land created by the meandering river about 150 metres wide to the next crossing over River Irwell, from where a cataract can be viewed to the right. Linking up eventually to Chapel Street much closer to Trinity Way, I walk by Salford Central Station over River Irwell again and into the City Centre.
The course of River Irwell in Salford
The plaques of John Dalton who presaged the advent of modern chemistry, Edward Schunck who became the first recipient of the Dalton Medal and Frederick Crace Calvert who setup the first commercial manufacture of disinfectant soaps show that Manchester was indeed and still continues to be a city of scientific innovation.
I sometimes forget, there are gems of history, architecture, science, nature, and the arts in my city. It only takes a walk and some curiosity to find them. I got back just in time for another Sunday soiree with my neighbours in our courtyard.
Snapshots of what I saw.
Manchester II - Jun 2020

The father in me on Father's Day

I could have been a father, I’m not,
For that, I have no regrets,
Not that I can do anything about it now,
Good old chemotherapy coursing through my veins,
Carried the sentence I probably knew it would,
You cannot by yourself create new life,
It was not something to cry about,
For it is my story to tell.
I do have a father, he’s a man of 80,
For that, I am utterly grateful,
Not that we do not have many disagreements,
Good old desires that a son turns out differently,
Carried through life objecting to your control,
You wonder if he indeed is your son,
It is something in which you agonise,
For it is your story to tell.
I know I am like my father, I do,
For that, I’m ambivalent,
Not that we know enough about each other,
Good his integrity and community spirit shine through,
Carried by his sense of great responsibility,
You ponder on if things could be better,
It dwells on the matter of father and son,
For it is our story to tell.
I could be a grandfather, for my age,
For that, there are no answers,
Not that it matters than much even to me,
Good that situation did not complicate another life,
Carried away from the required sense of tradition,
You think of the message of Father’s Day,
It is one of love and appreciation,
For it is a story to tell.
I wish I had a child, I don’t,
For that, it is not an issue,
Not that the child would have suffered neglect,
Good that I would have eyes, ears, and heart to care,
Carried on the wings of great possibility,
You know it would have amazing relationships,
It calls for a different fatherhood,
For a new story to tell.
Blog - Father's Day on my mind to be continued, at some time.

Father's Day on my mind

Some reflections on fatherhood
On this Father’s Day, it has been difficult to get hold of my dad on the phone. My reflection on it is deep and strange, for within my heart I have much love and much hurt, both have shaped many elements of my outlook to life, to relationships and to the world.
In many ways I see some traits of my parents in the things I do, and in others, we can be so different because of the generational differences and the radical influences of time, manner, and place.
A journey to travel
I am walking towards a better reconciliation and understanding, I appreciate that when my dad learnt clearly of my sexuality, even in his deepest misgivings and regret, he did not reject me, for that I am very grateful. Thinking of this, I wrote a poem of my intimate views of fatherhood from many perspectives, if I tried hard enough, all these paragraphs would be in the poem. Maybe, it is a task for another time.
The job of fathering is never fully done, so, the work on this is one that is in progress. After I left my home for boarding school at the age of 10, everything after that was one of recognition rather than disposition, we have drifted far apart and come close many times, it never mattered to me anymore whether I made anyone proud, I lived my life and tried to do my duty.
I cherish my aged dad; he is a fine gentleman of a certain persuasion. If I had nothing more to say, I still can wish him a happy Father’s Day.

Saturday, 20 June 2020

No one is forcefully installing COVID-19 apps on your phone

All these conspiracy theories

I have been seeing shared notices and things on my Social Media timeline about Google and Apple automatically installed a COVID-19 Tracking app on our phones. At first, I ignored the notices, but they were getting pervasive and it will not be long before one of my friends or acquaintances contacts me to confirm whether this was true or not.
It meant one should just put paid to the issue, no one is automatically installing an app on your phone, any app installation would always require your consent along with the express granting of permissions to access features on your phone.
On my Android phone
Now, I do not have an Apple device, but I can check my Google Android device to explain exactly what you can view on your phones. On your Android phone, choose Settings, then choose Google. There, you will see the option COVID-19 exposure notifications. This was a feature pushed to Android phones in the last couple of months as part of an update process. [Forbes: Have Apple And Google Suddenly Uploaded A COVID-19 Tracking App To Your Phone? The Facts Behind The Furore]
Select Google after you have chosen Settings on your Android phone.

The COVID-19 exposure notifications feature that contains elements you setup and control.

Choosing the COVID-19 exposure notifications, you are presented with a number of options for your phone to be fully engaged in a mobile phone tracking and contact tracing activity. You need to turn on Bluetooth first. Then you need to install and setup a participating tracking app. The original ‘Track and Trace’ app that was piloted in the Isle of Wight for the UK has been shelved, it would not be rolled out in the UK. [GOV.UK: Next phase of NHS coronavirus (COVID-19) app announced]
The COVID-19 exposure notification features you control.
There are plans to develop a new app that takes advantage of the joint Google and Apple COVID-19 exposure notifications feature. Using a road and vehicle analogy, it is basically, a road with traffic stops and markings, open for use by anyone with a vehicle. The vehicle is the app, you need to put it on the road yourself to drive it, else, the road is just there, and you are going nowhere.
[Rant Alert] The app had nothing to do with the NHS, the NHS tag was applied to give the app some legitimacy, the NHS did not commission, tender, build or deploy the app, this was a created by a private company and managed by a committee instigated by the government and headed by someone who once headed a company with major data breaches and who has no expertise in public health or epidemiology. [End of Rant.] [The BMJ] [The Guardian]
You control everything
Furthermore, you have the means to control, delete or turn off the features along with deleting the participating app. Then your phone generates random IDs, these are anonymised identities of your phone that you can share which would link up with other proximity phones participating fully in the COVID-19 exposure notification programme, after the other person has enabled Bluetooth and installed the participating app.
Those random IDs will be deleted after 14 days, you can also manually delete those random IDs at your leisure. Fundamentally, you have to act to be involved, no one is commandeering your phone into a programme you have not actively and willingly subscribed to.
Let your fears be allayed.

Friday, 19 June 2020

Essential Snobbery 101: To serve and be served reveals a mindset of wealth

A fictional pandemic life
The different perspectives journaled of lives during this Coronavirus pandemic have given some insight into the way we deal with situations somehow out of our control. The organ grinder of our government’s spouse created a veritable work of fiction about the Coronavirus experience of their family situated in London when in reality, they had driven up to stay in Durham.
All on the premise of the need for childcare, which left us reeling from realising some people were above the law. Lest we forget, Make Wakefield’s family does own a castle, they are too establishment to follow the rules. [iNews: Mary Wakefield Spectator article: How Dominic Cummings’ wife’s coronavirus story differs from his statement]
A wealth pandemic life
A few days ago, we were brought to luxurious Kensington, a large house with enough space to invite order occupants to sequester as part of the enforced quarantine process. What followed was a life lesson in the power of wealth to insulate you from the common that the exclusive almost begins to grate.
Now, I have no issues with the piece Shruti Advani wrote for the Financial Times, it was a window into the cares, concerns and priorities of those who do not have to bother about the means to get anything done. Self-absorbed and lacking in self-awareness as it might seem, you begin to realise that you have to find ways to create your own bubbles in a turbulent world. If wealth gives you that opportunity, then, so be it. [FT Wealth: The awkward lessons of my luxury lockdown in Kensington]
Accommodations of orderliness
What places her in this exclusive situation is borne of many things, she inherited wealth, used to edit a magazine about private wealth, and her husband is a venture capitalist. She retained a sense of order around the house tripling the delivery of flowers and when she found that kiddie arithmetic was a bit out of her league, she hired a private tutor for her son whose educational challenges appear to be between schoolwork and chess, forestalling the future need for a psychiatrist.
There is a method to the whole narrative. Engaging in some conversation on Facebook, someone noted that she was namedropping. The names dropped were those of helpers rather than of friends or colleagues. It exudes in my view a sense of confidence without a hint of social climbing, the designer or brand names simply mirroring her comfort zone. Obviously, she has a personal shopper.
Reality is at the door
Yet, her world is not devoid of reality, the pandemic bears weighty risks, death being present and threatening with the recognition that wealth offers some protection, but it is not a talisman. The pandemic through being spread around the world more by the rich has inordinately affected the poor and ethnic minorities more.
The undercurrent of the writing still points to the many pressed into service to make our lives bearable, the nanny, the florist, the delivery men, the private tutor, the house help that cooks, the personal shopper, the police, and the ambulance crew. Eliminate those you cannot afford.
I came away with two thoughts if I were ever to be affected by it at all, that wealth is a mindset and something you need to be conditioned for and that it is a nice life if you can afford and live it with any sense of guilt or apology. We are not called to carry the world on our shoulders, there is usually enough on our plates.

Thursday, 18 June 2020

Azure: A blessing of the bright blue in colour like a cloudless sky

Share the useful things

Just a short note to acknowledge even the small blessings. Last night I happened upon some course material that had been lingering in the background. Microsoft offered a free hour’s webinar that I attended after work two days ago and in that hour, I learnt some things I never knew were possible quite surprisingly.
The technological landscape is changing, just as the workplace is. We are in the constant self-improvement quest to remain relevant and retain prominence. Everything is moving to the cloud. I had the course on playback on my television this morning and it just occurred to me to share it with some friends and on Twitter and Facebook.
See the unlikely rewards
I was gratified to know some of my friends were already exploring the option, others found it could be useful, but most notably, a friend with whom I have had a working relationship as far back as 2004, who had given me some insight in career development many times before, contacted me to offer some additional material and tips from his study programme, very helpful stuff.
Besides finding that it helped link me up with other friends. I liked the feeling that a simply act of dissemination in the hope that someone might gain some benefit has redounded more than could be expected.
I am even more thankful because illustrates the point I am swift to make; an open hand is that is ready to receive. That is how the blessing gets around.
The stuff to play with
If you are interested in gaining a cloud technologies certification in Microsoft Azure, you can start with Exam AZ-900: Microsoft Azure Fundamentals, follow the 3:10 hours YouTube course Microsoft Azure Fundamentals Certification Course (AZ-900) below (There are quite a few training outfits offering the course and some bundle it with a free exam voucher.) then extend your knowledge of Azure with the free Learn Azure in a Month of Lunches book that you can read as a webpage and download as a PDF.
If you do find any of this useful and go on to do the exam, please return to leave a note of your experience. Thank you.

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

An obituary to a tablet in its prime

Distended innards

For the past few days, I noticed that the cover case of my Huawei MediaPad M3 Lite 8 was not closing properly. I put it down to the fitting and paid no further attention to it. Eventually, I decided to have a closer look, the screen on the folding side of the case was bulging out for reasons I could not say.
Trying to push the screen back into place simply led to the bulge coming back with a vengeance. That is when I learnt of one of the drawbacks of Lithium-Ion batteries. They have a tendency to bulge out, explode and catch fire.
Apparently, sometimes the chemical reaction within the battery cells which produces gas is not recycled within the electrolytic process leading to the expansion of the fuel cell and affecting the integrity and safety of the battery. [DfR Solutions: Why Do Lithium-Ion Batteries Swell?]
This is put under more stress when the battery is being charged. Sadly, after just 26 months of usage, this is the end-of-life of the device as there are no user-serviceable parts, for the battery is built-in and it is well outside warranty, I need to check that.
Unintended upgrade
Whilst it has been a constant bedside companion especially for radio play during the night amongst other things. It has been a gadget worthy of a Swiss Army Knife accolade, just because of the versatility of apps and functionality I have gotten out of it. It would be consigned now to the graveyard of tablets gone out of service because of all sorts of reasons. The third in 8 years.
In retrospect, it probably was ready for a replacement as Huawei were not offering upgrades to the operating system and user interfaces. It was stuck on Android 7.0 Nougat when many new products are now on Android 10, with Android 11 being released only in February. [Wikipedia: Android version history]
Whilst I await a more current replacement, I have backed up the tablet, tried to extract enough configurations from it and left it to fully discharge. It’s a shame that rather than then CPU, the battery is really the life-giving force of most electronic devices, take out the battery and that’s the end. It is like the human version of cardiovascular disease with the risk of a heart attack more likely than not. C’est la vie!
The side of the screen being pushed out by a swollen battery.

My trust tablet lying in state.