Mark Boulton

Weeknotes 6

I missed writing a week note last week, and it’s a little late in the week for this note to be this week’s note. This is a fortnight note, then. Clear? Good.

The last two weeks has been punctuated by a rather lovely couple of days holiday in Snowdonia, North Wales. The UK was fortunate over the last week that there was a slight shift in the jet stream which resulted in five days of unseasonably warm and dry weather. The unfortunate side effect of this is that it accelerated flowering of several tree species culminating in a perfect storm of tree pollen. It was so bad I couldn’t really work out if I had a cold, or it was an allergic reaction. Grass pollen is my thing, you see.

The place we stayed in Snowdonia was nestled in a valley on the south side of Snowdon just north of a village called Beddgelert. The English translation of this is ‘Gelet’s Grave’ named after the resting place of Prince Llywelyn’s faithful hound. Go and read the story. It made my daughter cry when we saw the grave. The statue made Charlie bark. Silly dog.

Work continued either side of Easter. I’d like to say we’re working on some cool stuff. I mean, we are, but the real, valuable work is often not cool. It’s hard, grinding work on fundamentals. So much of what I do these days is foundational work. Stuff that, when you tell people, they look at you like you’ve just told them humans can’t breathe water. Just a look of ‘duh’.

I’m a big fan of the idea of marginal gains widely popularised by Sir Dave. This is a good blog post explaining it, but to summarise it goes like this: take a look at where you are now, where you need to be, break down all the parts of a system that will get you there and make a ton of tiny little improvements. The marginal gains aggregate to a big difference and it works. But, these days, I seem to be more focussed on the opposite: marginal degradation. How can you possibly improve a system if it’s being constantly eroded? Death by a thousand cuts. First you have to stop the rot and then work on the gains. In my experience that first bit is hard because the only measurement of success is if something is less bad than before. Nobody gets out of bed for ‘less bad’.

Still. I keep plugging away.

Here are some things I’ve been enjoying over the past couple of weeks.

Brian Cox on the Joe Rogen Experience is fabulous. Several times I caught myself either smiling in a stupid sort of way or not blinking. Utterly engaging and thought-provoking.

LFT Etica is a rather lovely looking Mono from TypeTogether.

I took the girls to watch Tom Gates (written by Liz Pichon) on stage yesterday. It was a brilliant, funny, clever little show. If you're in the UK and get the chance, you should go. Here's a review that sums it up well.

Elsewhere