Mark Boulton

Weeknote 25

  • Well, that was a bit of a ridiculous couple of weeks. I was in Germany the week before last for my last week working at EMBL. Whilst I was there, the COVID crisis deepened daily. My boss, the head of Comms, was in daily briefings and by Friday, he sent me back to the UK 'before they shut the borders'. As it happens, they did shut them on Monday just gone and I got one of a few flights back.
  • Then, this week, the schools shut. Cue lots of reading about deschooling and how we might split our time to help with the children. Luckily, they aren't really young, but still we need to figure out how to adjust to our new normal.
  • You know, as a self-confessed introvert (or, well, someone who prefers to be that way), and as someone who has worked remotely for ages, this week has been anything but normal. I can't focus on anything. My mind is like a bag of wasps. For those new to remote working, please don't think this is normal and blame that circumstance on why things are hard.
  • So, I've been trying to distract myself. I repotted some bonsai. Although, we're due for a few days cold weather so that was a bit dumb. After writing this, I'll be heading out to wrap the pots in bubble wrap.
  • I've got some big bonsai jobs on the near horizon with a couple of the big pines I have. At this time of year, they need to be needle plucked to balance the growth in the coming growing season. Thing is, that's probably at least 4 hours per tree. And I have seven large trees to do. Might have to pay the children.
  • This weekend will be about tidying the garden ready for spring. We have a bed at the back of the garden that gets a ton of sun, so maybe it's time to plant some vegetables and do what we can to ease the load on the supermarkets.
  • Speaking of which, my in-laws are in their 80's and are self-isolating. I went to Costco the other day to get some thing I usually get – toilet roll (yes, that's right, I normally do anyway), kitchen roll, that sort of thing. I was absolutely not stockpiling. I got there at 9:30 thinking there might be a bit of a queue before they opened at 10. It was ok, I was only 3rd in the queue stood the recommended 2 metres apart. By 10am, there were at least 200 people queuing behind me. When the doors opened it was ridiculous. People running to the where the toilet roll was kept, people buying catering size tinned tomatoes. Massive tins of beans. I could feel myself getting caught up in the hysteria. I almost raced a man down an aisle to buy some Dettol before taking a firm grip of my stupid lizard brain.
  • Now I'm in between jobs, I've been spending some time learning some new stuff. I've been trying to get my head around Notion (and failing), Figma (and succeeding), and Javascript (sort of succeeding thanks to Wes Bos' Beginner video course, which is excellent btw).
  • Emma and I started watching The Good Place. It's funny, but like eating a Creme Egg; a momentary hit of sugar that makes you feel good but then it's gone much too quickly. I prefer my TV like a good ramen; filling, nutritious, complex yet simple. Maybe it's just about a balance between the two.
  • Now I've been back on the cycling training after a few colds and whatnot since the new year, I haven't been building as such, but maintaining my fitness. The annoying thing is the postural hypotension is back (nearly passing out when you stand up too fast). I know when I'm in shape because mine gets to the point where getting out of bed, or off the couch, is a two-step process. I mean, it's fine – I'm healthy – as I checked with my Cardiologist last year. But it's bloody annoying.
  • I did see a few nice things around the web, though, if you feel like being distracted:
  • Andy relaunched Piccalilli
  • Monalisa Dev is nice:
  • Greg had tons of great advice on leading remote teams. Lots of head-nodding from me.
  • Years ago, after seeing Jon's, I bought a Midori Traveller's Notebook and haven't looked back. However, for day to day note taking and sketching, I find the size and format a bit restrictive. So, after seeing Brendan's newsletter about Midori's MD grid refills. They look beautifully made. Stitched to fold flat, and when coupled with the amazing leather covers, they seem like a more sustainable approach than Moleskines. I must go through about one every couple of weeks.