in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #189 — Guilt trip

The first of a couple of weeks away from home. One of my children developed an illness that was serious enough for a minor operation and a night in hospital, making me feel very guilty for being so far away. He seems to be on the mend now but it was a worrying few days. Two weeks for a business trip usually feels a little too long; by the end of the second week I’m usually missing everyone and can’t wait to get back. This time it feels worse.

New York seems a little less crazy than it did a couple of weeks ago when the UN General Assembly meeting was in full swing. I’m able to stay much closer to my office, but it’s a sad location — lots of restaurants, delis and hotels have shut, presumably due to the pandemic, leaving a couple of rows of vacant real estate. Even the restaurant in the hotel is shut and there is no room service.

I’ve tried to make the most of being in the city, going to shows and gigs that Katie Von Schleicher recommended to me as well as taking a trip to the cinema. I’ve walked for miles in the evenings, choosing to go by foot to get home instead of taking the Subway or a cab. The weekend gave me a chance to catch up with lots of school governor work and home admin, things that I would have struggled to get done in a typical weekend at home.

This was a week in which I:

  • Met with the CEO of our new staffing provider in the US, giving an outline of who we are and what we do and hearing about their setup.
  • Caught up with the sales representative from our main IT vendor.
  • Worked with a colleague to create a snag list of items that need to be addressed in our New York office.
  • Validated a physical network cabling configuration for our Networks team.
  • Clarified the timeline for the closure of one of our regional offices and agreed how we will provide IT services to the few staff that remain.
  • Agreed a raft of next steps relating to our management on unstructured data across our offices.
  • Gave a presentation to the Engineering team on the history of our unstructured data management work and what we intend to do from here.
  • Started a review of responses via our third-party vendor management system for a new tool that I want to bring into the firm.
  • Reviewed alternative offerings for our planned course on clear writing at work.
  • Attended the monthly Teams Fireside Chat for a discussion with lots of experts and practitioners involved in Microsoft Teams.
  • Completed all of the reading and meeting prep ahead of our first school Full Governing Board meeting of the year. As the meeting was in-person, we used a small conference speaker in the room connected via Bluetooth to someone’s mobile. I’m grateful that it allowed me to dial-in to participate, but it was a flashback to a time before desktop videoconferencing. I’m so glad it’s mostly behind us.
  • Took a tour of the United Nations building and was surprised at how emotional the experience was. I was going to put more about this in these weeknotes but I think it deserves a write-up of its own.

  • Managed to complete a few runs around Central Park, including two at the weekend which took me along the whole six mile loop.

  • Had a night out with a couple of colleagues at the Friend of the Show! show in the stunningly beautiful Sultan Room in Brooklyn. I’ve tried to look up the evening’s house band, The Dodies, as they were excellent, but can’t find any details about them anywhere.

  • Went to see Indigo Sparke with support from Katy Pinke at the intimate Public Records Sound Room. I wasn’t really that familiar with either artist before I went. Sparke was celebrating the release of her new album Hysteria. I ended up randomly talking to Pinke’s brother before the show started. Going to gigs alone is a strange thing; sometimes it feels comfortable and other times less so. I think that if I had been more familiar with their work I would have felt more of a part of things than I did.

  • Was grateful that Channel 4 don’t seem to block well-known VPN providers on their website, so I was able to watch their Formula 1 Japanese Grand Prix qualifying and race highlight shows.

Some random observations on New York:

  • People in cinemas/movie theatres talk. A lot. It’s distracting.
  • The guys riding ‘bike taxis’ are inevitably playing Michael Jackson really loudly.
  • I’d love to find and read a history of the architectural infrastructure of the city, answering questions like: what was the tallest building as time went by, how steam gets pumped to the buildings, the impact of air conditioning showing up, a history of elevators etc. Twenty years ago I watched New York: A Documentary Film and I have the series on DVD; maybe I just need to re-watch it.

  • Finding a good local spot to have a delicious bowl of vegan granola and a cup of coffee feels like a big win.

Next week: Putting our staffing plan into place and heading home.

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