Weeknotes #89 — Dizzy spells

A week where I seemed very busy but ended up without any big achievements at the end of it. The three days that I took off the week before only served to give me a taste of pottering around the house reading, playing board games and generally not doing too much. I wasn’t quite ready to get back to the keyboard on Monday.

Our eldest boy, who had been diagnosed with COVID-19, finished his 10-day isolation period and went back to school on Tuesday, but my wife and younger son were at home all week while we continued to isolate. On Wednesday I started to feel light-headed, spaced-out and tired, and this gradually got worse through Friday afternoon, where I found it incredibly difficult to concentrate as the week came to an end. I went up to bed straight after dinner and got myself a solid night’s rest. This helped, but I still felt weird on Saturday. Another early night followed, and by Sunday I was starting to feel myself again. Of course, I was concerned that it was COVID-19, particularly as I have had no exposure to anyone and it is the only confirmed illness that we have had in the house. But I had none of the symptoms that are prerequisites to getting a test — no temperature, no coughing, no loss of taste or smell. Hopefully whatever it was is behind me now and I can get back to feeling normal again.

We’re out of our own personal lockdown and find ourselves emerging into the broader second lockdown for England. I suspect that this will be far less effective than the first as there is still so much activity going on with children attending school etc., as well as less of an acceptance by people to stay at home.

A week in which I:

  • Felt pleased at how the team had managed without me in my few days off. I had been tempted to jump into Teams chat threads a few times but held back, and I’m glad I did.
  • Marvelled at reports of how ‘normal’ life is for my colleagues in Beijing, particularly outside of the office.
  • Decided on a plan of action to improve the Wi-Fi in two of our locations, to be followed up quickly next week.
  • Was grateful for a colleague stepping in to cover early morning while we work on a more permanent support solution for our Asia time zone.
  • Seemed to quickly move from sleep credit to sleep deficit. Sunday night we had 50mph wind gusts keeping us awake, Monday night I had one my very occasional ‘oh my, what has happened to the world’ moments and Tuesday night I had a bizarre nightmare where I was climbing up a very tall aluminium ladder for no good reason and suddenly realised how high I was. It still makes my heart beat faster just thinking about it.
  • Attended a small internal seminar on mental wellbeing with Colinda Linde. The session had a specific slant on looking out for your team as a manager. It’s definitely a lot more difficult to do this when you aren’t seeing them on a regular basis, and need to be deliberate about scheduling face-to-face time.
  • Went to a short internal training course with Stuart Mann for a refresher on programme-level agile. He’s an excellent instructor and an even better writer. I need to try and spend some time with him to help focus on our specific concept, as our team is a weird shape and doesn’t quite fit the mould.
  • Gave a short demo of LeanKit to some internal staff, who are now interested in looking at it for their own purposes.
  • Had a lovely random coffee with a colleague from our Dubai office. I can’t believe it has been over a year since we were there putting the new IT infrastructure in place.
  • Was sad to see grassroots football cancelled with the second lockdown. Given how close everyone is to each other at the matches — the spectators to each other, the children playing the game, the managers and the linesmen — it felt inevitable.
  • Was pinned to CNN and Twitter during the aftermath of the US Election, seemingly like everyone else. The result is fascinating — just enough of a narrative for Trump to capitalise on, and nowhere near the complete rejection of the right-wing narcissistic fascism that he represents. Sadly people aren’t savvy enough, or interested enough, to understand how the vote changed as the postal ballots were counted. Perhaps it would be better not to report the totals in real-time at all?
  • Continued my journey through Steinbeck’s works by starting on Sea of Cortez. I read the ‘log’ portion as a teenager and found it a little boring, but coming back to it now as an adult it feels much more relatable. Stories of setting off on a quest, of the relation of tide pools to the universe, and of the boat crew to each other as they journey around Baja California is just the thing for a person who hasn’t left the house in weeks.
  • Treated myself to a few books written by people whose work I follow and enjoy on the Internet. Ian Dunt, Nina Schick and Katherine May. Kindle where it makes sense, and physical copies from Bookshop.org I want to pass them on.
  • Settled in and watched another paid gig from the comfort of my lounge, this time the Smoke Fairies live from De La Warr Pavilion. The gig wasn’t truly live, having been recorded a few weeks before in an empty venue. But it felt like a good compromise to avoid all of the potential Internet connection and quality problems that being truly live might bring. The sound and vision were superb. The band joined everyone watching in the YouTube comments as we watched along, which was a lovely touch. They really are a special band.

  • Stumbled across Hope Griffin playing a live set at a vineyard. After the election was called for Joe Biden on Saturday evening, I browsed around Periscope to find some unfiltered ‘on the ground’ reaction. An acoustic gig was much more relaxing than what I had been seeking. I’ve found a few live musicians on the platform, and it’s magical when you stumble across someone that’s really good.
  • Had a scheduled ‘active recovery’ week on the turbo trainer, filled with low-intensity workouts. I’m doing a ramp test for the first time in quite a while on Tuesday and am interested in where Trainerroad thinks I’m at.

Next week: Hoping to have my energy back to attack the long list of things I need to get done. Many, many meetings at work and some important school governor duties to fulfil. Watching Marika Hackman live on Friday evening will be a great way to start the weekend.

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