in Weeknotes

Weeknotes #198 — Sub-zero

This week had a real ‘end of year’ feel to it. Monday set the tone; in the afternoon we had a ‘town hall’-style event in the office followed by our Christmas party, the first one that I’ve been to in half a decade or so.

Temperatures have dropped across the country with some of my colleagues reporting on Sunday night that they have snow. The cycling club cancelled the weekend ride as it was too dangerous.

We made our annual visit to the local Christmas tree farm and bought a whopper. Decorations have gone up and boxes of chocolates have been broken into.

There seems to be so much illness around at the moment. Everyone in the house either has, or is getting over, something, and people seem to have lots of ailments at work. A scheduled Album Club was cancelled due to the host being unwell, so we’ll be doubling-up in January to keep our unbroken record. Hopefully everyone is collectively getting their illnesses out of the way before getting together at Christmas.

This was a week in which I:

  • Had my annual performance review. Next year I need to get my head up even more out of the detail, take a step into the unknown and let go. It’s difficult when I find everything so interesting, and want to learn more about most subjects that I encounter.
  • Helped colleagues prepare for an important meeting with an internal senior Committee. Our goal was to reflect what we have managed to achieve this year to help our client-facing colleagues through a small cross-functional team, and to get support for working this way in the future. I didn’t attend the session and felt like a nervous relative in a waiting room. Everyone seems very pleased with how it went.
  • Continued work on defining what our Digital Literacy work will look like next year.
  • Met with colleagues to discuss how to safely progress with a new initiative that uses client data.
  • Took part in the concluding retrospective meeting for how my small team works today and what we can do to improve. It’s been a while since we’ve examined the detail so closely and had a good discussion about what we can do differently.
  • Discussed an approach to representing our portfolio of work for 2023.
  • Helped a colleague in another department wrestle with the problem of what work/project management tool to use, starting from the problem that he is trying to solve.
  • Joined the weekly meeting for the shut down of one of our regional offices. Our IT work has completed successfully ahead of schedule.
  • Had a lot of fun hosting our final all-team meeting of the year. I ran a hastily-prepared collaborative quiz via a shared Excel spreadsheet, where the team had to attribute their colleagues to a list of weird or interesting things that they might have done.
  • Responded to a first aid incident and had to ensure a colleague got home safely.
  • Joined the last Teams Fireside Chat of the year. Found out that you can now add animated GIF backgrounds to Teams by putting them in the usual backgrounds folder and renaming the file extension from .gif to .png or .jpg.
  • Visited school for a meeting with our IT provider. Agreed next steps for an equipment/asset survey and a tidy-up/re-stack of our equipment room.
  • Wrote up and circulated the draft minutes from our recent school Pay Committee meeting.
  • Had lunch with my cousin, who works a few minutes walk away from my office in London. We met at All Bar One in Moorgate, which used to be a regular spot for me to meet up with old colleagues. The pandemic has changed things; it felt empty, we had to order our food via an app and the quality of the food wasn’t great. Still, it was lovely to see him.
  • Submitted my son’s application to sixth form. How can he be this old already?
  • Enjoyed an evening of playing F1 2019 on the Xbox with some close friends. We haven’t got together to do this since the depths of the pandemic and it was a lot of fun, despite my audio being intermittent due to dodgy controllers. I can’t bring myself to buy a new one for £55 given how seldom I play.
  • Spent an evening at the Red Bull Formula One team’s headquarters for an evening with Christian Horner, hosted by David Coulthard. The ticket to the event was an early Christmas present from my lovely wife, and the evening was in aid of the Wings for Life spinal cord research foundation. Drinks and canapés amongst a selection of Red Bull F1 cars were followed by an interview, a charity auction and questions from the audience. The place was full of hardcore Red Bull fans with lots of money, bidding extraordinary amounts on the various items in the auction. It was a fun evening, and such a privilege to get to be so close to the cars and people that have been so successful over recent times.

  • Watched England lose to France in the football World Cup. France deserved to win, scoring two excellent goals from open play.
  • Found out that I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts. A lot.

  • Found myself picking up the Toot! app and browsing Mastodon. Signal to noise ratio is very high right now and I’ve been saving tons of articles to Instapaper (despite the fact that history tells me I am unlikely to read most of them).

Next week: A relatively quiet diary for the first time in weeks, which hopefully means I can get some of the more creative work done that I have on my plate. I don’t think I will make it into the office due to the disruption from the planned rail worker strikes.

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