Unpause and record

After finishing a year-long stint working for the Government Digital Service to deliver support to people during the worst of the pandemic, I took a month off.

A GDS Mission Patch of my very own

This meant that I didn’t turn on a computer for most of that time, and certainly didn’t feel inclined to blog. A month ago I started working at Kaluza (lured in by Ovo’s Plan Zero approach to the climate crisis), and having just about got my head around what I need to do there, I have brain space to write words again.

With three jobs in three years, I’ve come to realise how much harder it is to reflect on my year-on-year personal development without an explicit checkpoint with a consistent third-party. Not only that, but I don’t do what I tell the people I manage to do and keep a weekly log of successes or problems I’ve overcome. This makes it much harder to keep a good perspective over time on how I think I’m doing, and how I develop in a role at a new company.

Making sure I do keep a record of achievements each week is something I’ll have to do pretty much immediately, probably through setting aside some time each Friday morning to ask myself the scrum standup questions at a slightly more abstract level. This should also help keep me honest when prioritising my daily work as well. I’ll probably use the Inkdrop Note Templates plugin to set up a standard way of doing this. Wish me luck 🙂

Week 34: Washi

  • The most important thing that has happened in weeks occurred! I found my cat-themed washi tape! This means the work todo lists in my Hobonichi Techo are now much prettier, and if it’s ever getting too long I can insert some paws or fish to break it up into chunks. Much better; good light-hearted stress relief.
  • Euro 2020 has started in 2021 and England have played their first game. A friend and I did live text-commentary on our Slack during it, of which the review was “like Mel and Sue had too much limoncello”, which is basically life goals.
  • My daughter was more enthused by the game than I was, and when she realised it was on quickly went off to draw some England flags and cheery messages to help urge them on; apart from being totally adorable, it was clear that she put more effort into her art than the footballers did into the game.
  • Last week we signed up for Which? to review mattresses – this week we bought a mattress from Emma. It arrived in a couple of days in a surprisingly small box (even though I’d been warned to be surprised), and it feels harder than I expected after many reviews said it was soft, but I’m no longer getting out of bed screaming in pain so this is an improvement.
  • I went for a walk in the nearby countryside with the kids and as we approached a wall to look at the cows in the next field, one caught sight of us and left the herd to come take a closer look. I’ve never thought of cows as being curious animals, but this one certainly was. It followed us along the whole length of the field and kept trying to peer over the wall at us, like it couldn’t quite believe we were real. I like to think it dreamt about us that night.
  • It’s still sunny, so this is Good.

Week 34: sunshine

  • It has been hot and sunny! Hurrah! At last a break from the rain and cold and a chance to get outside, take a deep breath and relax.
  • My son no longer has time/energy to go to Scouts in the evening but before we quit officially I want to go back through his Beavers, Cubs and Scouts Facebook group and download the photos with him in (the kids aren’t tagged). It seems that the only way to do this is manually. This is going to take a looooong time.
  • We need to buy a new mattress and so subscribed to Which?. It turns out to be not only extremely well written (the language used is clear, simple, authoritative), but there’s way more material on their site than I’d expected. We’ll only subscribe for a month or so as we kit out the house, but I’ll definitely return in the future when we want to make other expensive purchases.
  • I tried to ride my road bike through a field. This was not a good idea, and it became an even worse one when I hit some hidden rocks and came off. Don’t do it kids – just say no!
  • I am very much looking forward to more sunshine, and getting out on my bike – but on safe roads and cycle paths this time.

Week 33: astronomical

  • I ripped the hell out of my back again. Limping, slow walks, stretches and nurofen are in order.
  • The family were all on half term and so I got some time in the house alone when they went off to visit relatives. Just as I was starting to get used to it, they returned.
  • The return of the family meant the return of The Lunchbox Tyranny – the nightly Making of Sandwiches that strikes fear and dread into everyone who thinks they’ve done all their chores and can safely go to bed.

Weeks 31 and 32: boxes

I moved house. That’s it, that’s the update.

The good thing is that I now have a fiber-to-the-premises internet connection, which means it is nice and fast, and wasn’t an option at my last house. It does mean I had to hand back my TiVo box (because we can’t get Virgin Media), so I am PVR-less for the first time in a couple of decades, but with the rise in streaming services maybe I don’t need it any more? Time will tell for sure, but the options on the market all look a bit crap (presumably because those streaming services have eaten their market).

The bad news is being surrounded by cardboard boxes all the time in every room. Seriously. You’d think there’d be a good opportunity to build a box fort, but if it collapses there’s a real danger of being hit in the head by a misfiled frying pan, Tex Avery style.

Hopefully after a bit more unpacking I can get back to hacking on some code again. That would be nice.

Week 30: birds

These are the birds I regularly see in my garden:

  • blackbirds
  • goldfinches
  • pigeons
  • collared doves
  • sparrows
  • robins
  • blue tits
  • great tits

Very very occassionally we get a jay and a greenfinch. This all feels quite varied until you read the RSPB list of common garden birds:

The most likely visitors to your garden are starlings, house sparrows, blackbirds, blue and great tits, robins, greenfinches and collared doves.

Common Garden Birds


Week 29: bees and blood

  • Our apple tree is in full bloom and full of industrious bees, and so when I’ve needed a brief respite from home working I have been able to walk out into the garden, and sit under the tree with blossom falling down around me – absolutely blissful!
  • I learned more than I wanted to this week about the Windows Subsystem for Linux and how it mounts filesystems. A separate post about that I think.
  • My house move might be happening in a few weeks’ time, and so I’m looking around me at the catastrophic amount of STUFF everywhere and trying hard not to panic.
  • I need a new mattress.
  • I have bought a new LaserJet printer. Get into the sea, deskjet ink cartridges priced more per ml than unicorn blood!
  • I am booked in for my first covid jab next week! That is exciting, and I’m genuinely surprised at how quickly it’s come around. Many thanks to the Can I Get Jabbed? Twitter account, which notified me before the NHS did, and thus before all the spaces at my closest centres filled up.
  • I am playing AER Memories of Old on my Switch, because it is relaxing. You should play it too.

Week 26, 27, 28 – Easter et al.

  • You’d think that having missed the previous two weeks of weeknotes, I’d have a lot to add. This is not true – it was Easter half term and so we were taking it easy, and this included dropping the weeknote schedule. 
  • I am reading The Manningtree Witches about the witch hunts and trials of the mid 1600s; the overall tone, and my pace of reading, dropped when I realised it was based on real people and real events. Horrifying. 
  • I hate the Javascript-only nature of Google Groups with the heat of a thousand suns – the routines it uses for unpainting off-screen content are terrible and the fact there doesn’t seem to be a way of viewing any posting but the first in a conversation without using JS is really awful.
  • Trying out Bitwarden has worked out really well for me, and I think I’ll be switching over to that from LastPass – not because of some of the complaints that have been going on, but because I think the product is better.
  • Similarly, I think my Flickr Pro account will be biting the bullet at some point in the relatively near future; I signed up in 2004 (17 years ago!) and have paid for it for most of that time. Flickr was the source of a huge number of excellent people, places and events for me in my 20s, and maybe the SmugMug acquisition has already brought it back to life, but I am just past caring, and past needing to care about old photos stored in yet another place online. I have done my data export, and my Pro will expire in Jan 2022 at which point all but the latest 1,000 photos will get automatically deleted.