in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #116 — Tomato soup

A cold, wet week. In our garden, the giant beech tree has suddenly burst into green and everything is growing as if someone has pressed the fast forward button.

Once again I barely left the house. With infection rates so low (relatively, at least, for the UK — we’re not quite as fortunate as somewhere like Australia) there has been more discussion about returning to the office. I hope that whatever happens, I am still able to spend most of my working life at home. I’ve never seen my family so much as over the past year, nor had the opportunity to exercise for five or six days a week on a consistent basis. Of course it is important to get together in person, and even more important for new joiners, people at the start of their careers etc. to be around others in the firm. But I am hopeful that the pattern of going to the office five days a week just to spend most of my time on Teams calls is behind me.

I spent some time this week trying to get on top of my work and personal email backlogs, but as ever it feels like a losing battle. I wish I was as good at email as Michael Lopp, but I’m not and it irks me:

Email: I’ll respond in a timely fashion. I have two inboxes: work and personal. Both of these are empty at the end of each working day.

I seem to have to pick my battles with what I can keep up with. This week I’ve been on top of the very busy WB-40 podcast Signal group messages, but have not been as involved in the community as I would have liked. There’s just not enough time to do it all.

This was a week in which I:

  • Had to take one of my boys for a planned hospital visit at Monday lunchtime. This meant I needed the car, which meant I had to do the morning and afternoon school runs also. Somehow I found myself standing behind the protective shield in the x-ray control room, marvelling at the images as they were created.
  • Attended our bi-monthly Information Risk Steering Group.
  • Finished the first draft of my slides showing our IT infrastructure journey and future planned project for our Beijing office. Presented this to the team and got some useful feedback.
  • Saw the team close out on a couple of long-outstanding projects, including getting our small IT team up and running in Beijing and removing our final on-premises user-facing shared drive.
  • Attended a couple of architecture presentations on key technical work taking place in the organisation.
  • Pulled together a draft summary of all communication channels, both inside and outside of the organisation, along with relevant references for how they are governed.
  • Attended a presentation by Theo Watson, commercial lawyer for Microsoft Africa, on the topic of Responsible AI. It got me thinking again about Bill Joy’s essay from over two decades ago and the Moral Machine.
  • Prepared for and chaired the school Finance, Premises and Personnel Committee meeting. I really do prefer the online sessions as we seem to keep to time much more easily than before.
  • Saw our London office increase its capacity as the COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease. I’m still nervous about being inside with other people, and would much prefer not to be. But if I’m being honest I’ve also enjoyed becoming a bit of a hermit. Life feels so much better now that some of my time is my own, and not just dominated by everything I need to do for work, school and family.
  • Enjoyed a lovely random coffee meetup with a colleague who has recently moved from Johannesburg to Brisbane, as well as a coaching chat with a colleague in London.
  • Ran the line again for my youngest son’s football match, his last league game of the season. The pandemic meant that the season was over before it really got started, but we both really enjoyed the games that we did have.
  • Enjoyed a Friday night Album Club, with more Talking Heads.
  • Resolved to fix the guttering at the back of the house, if it ever stops raining for long enough to do so.

  • Delighted in the things my teenage son has been cooking as part of his Duke of Edinburgh scheme. Tomato soup, homemade bread and a pad thai have all been excellent this week.
  • Finished season 5 of Spiral. My wife and I have agreed that we need a break from police dramas for a bit.
  • Signed up to do the Hemel Hillbuster with my eldest son in July.
  • Agreed to meet up with some friends in a pub (well, outside it) in June.

Next week: More of the same at work. Another school run, a school Full Governing Board meeting, and a 50th wedding anniversary celebration.

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