in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #155 — Echo

Last week I started sleeping poorly, waking up at a random hour of the morning before my alarm went off. This week it seemed to get a little worse. Many years ago during my time at university I had my first, and worst, brush with a poor period of mental health. Occasionally I feel an echo of this. I’ve been feeling very down, but frustratingly can’t work out what the root cause is. There’s probably more than one. Most of the week was tinged with a feeling of melancholy, not enough to be debilitating but enough for me to know that something was up. It feels as though it is passing so I’m hoping for a better week ahead.

Things are ramping up at work and I feel that I am a critical link in the chain for a number of our ‘must do’ projects. We’re still on track for everything that we said we would do, but I need to keep focused so that this remains the case.

This was a week in which I:

  • Had a discussion with our management team about how we can look at plugging a gap in our team’s architecture skills.
  • Discussed an approach for further simplification of our network and IT infrastructure stack and agreed next actions. This has rapidly become one of our highest-priority projects due to the vendor licence and support costs it will help us to avoid later in the year.
  • Reviewed our stance on digital meeting technologies that colleagues want to use based on client preference.
  • Had a catch-up call with our key contact at our main IT vendor, ensuring we are aligned on a number of in-flight projects.
  • Undertook a detailed review of a proposal and quote for significant physical infrastructure changes for one of our offices. It involves re-cabling the floor, implementing modern UPSes, decommissioning unnecessary patch panels and installing environmental monitoring equipment.
  • Took part in a kick-off meeting with an external vendor ahead of our external conference planned for June.
  • Attended a talk from our CIO where he ran through his thinking and aspirations for our team for this year and beyond.
  • Met with colleagues in South Africa who are managing work on a large shared platform to discuss and align on the progress that we have been making.
  • Spoke to a colleague who is responsible for an offshore development team to understand what agreements we have in place as part of the setup.
  • Took part in another discussion on our office-based audio/visual solutions and looked at how we can simplify the setup whilst improving the experience. I have an action to start off a paper-based testing/walkthrough document for how we expect the rooms to work in the future. It’s amazing how much complexity can be increased by each additional variable.
  • Met with our head of Cybersecurity to run through updates to his quarterly roadmap and Kanban board.
  • Heard someone say that our organisation is “the least toxic place I could be working”, and had to agree with them. I feel so fortunate to be part of the company.
  • Had a lovely ‘random coffee’ with one of my close colleagues.
  • Spent time reading about ‘web3’ and started to write a post for our internal Teams channel for our part of the company. It turned into a blog post that I figured I would test in public first. (If I’m wrong about anything, I hope someone will point it out.)
  • Attended our school Full Governing Board meeting, having got all of my preparation work done at the weekend. This time I managed to complete a couple of my actions straight after the session.
  • Joined a meeting where the school’s Improvement Partner reported back on her deep-dive into Maths. These sessions are so valuable; we get to hear from someone external to the school on how things are actually going, where the school is excelling and what we need to focus on.
  • Attended a couple of school webinars, including an Introduction to Procurement sponsored by the Department for Education and a HfL session on Edtech in the Primary Classroom.
  • Enjoyed an evening of music courtesy of an Album Club with some close colleagues. We’re at the end of the first round and the host’s choice didn’t disappoint; we listened to Interpol’s Turn On The Bright Lights which was completely new to me. It seems as though it defined a sound for the next decade or so with many other bands being influenced by it.
  • Had our main bathroom repainted. If anyone can tell me how to get teenage boys to remember to open the bathroom window and take shorter showers, I am all ears.
  • Woke up on Saturday intending to join the cycling club for the weekly ride but was put off by frost on the cars in our street. Having come off of my bike on black ice many years ago I am very risk-averse, and won’t go out if there is even a teeny inkling that there may be ice around. I made do with a session on the indoor trainer, which I’ve come to enjoy nearly as much as getting out.
  • Took my youngest boy to go and watch Watford play Brighton and Hove Albion at Vicarage Road. It was a shame that the home side lost, but it was fun to go and we enjoyed our afternoon out. Our seats weren’t the best as our view was partially blocked by a TV camera but it didn’t matter too much. My ticket was £30 and my son’s was only £5 which seems like good value for a Premiership match.

  • Spent a chunk of my time at the Watford match watching the assistant referee as I knew I would be running the line myself at my eldest son’s match the next day. I was curious to measure how much exercise this is; it turns out that over the course of an 80-minute match, nearly 50 of those are spent moving around. I thought it would be higher.

  • Finished off After Life. It felt like it was probably not a good show to binge watch. There were moments of poignancy and other times where the main character wasn’t believable. I’m not sure if you need to have seen the show first, but the out-takes of seasons 2 and 3 on YouTube nearly had us in tears of laughter.

Next week: The welcome return of Learned League, and heading to a gig for the first time in two years.

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