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Life

Fourteen Days

I have the next two weeks off work. Ten working days. Fourteen days in all. It all seems a bit giddy at the moment, although I’m mindful of a conversation with my brother-in-law earlier today, who has just had two weeks off – “I looked forward to it for ages, and then before you know it, it’s gone, and you realise you have to go back to work in the morning”.

I’m going running first thing tomorrow. I was supposed to go today, and woke up in time – but then fell asleep, and then the bed seemed warm, and comfy, and… well I just didn’t get up. It’s funny – while laying there, gazing at the ceiling, I quietly became annoyed with myself. I could have been up, out, running, doing chores, clearing the decks, and whatever else – instead I daydreamed, and did nothing – for nearly an hour.

Maybe I should give myself a pass from time to time. It’s incredibly rare that I sit and do nothing. I’m starting to realise that this whole slow-down on the blog can mostly be explained by the world slowing down during lockdown. Suddenly there was no reason to be running here, there and everywhere to get this done, that done, and the other done. Slowing down made me realise that I didn’t HAVE to do all the things I had been doing – and that included emptying my head into the blog each day.

Of course I substituted blogging for something else. Something tremendously useless in the grand scheme of things – I learned to fly a Boeing 737, and an Airbus A320 in a study-level simulator. If I’m ever sat near the flight deck of a commercial airliner in the future, and a member of the cabin crew runs down the cabin looking panic stricken, I can put my hand up. “Yes, I can fly a pretend one of these – I’ve logged several tens of hours, and not crashed one yet – but there was that time I nearly froze all the pretend passengers to death after forgetting to route warm air into the cabin…”

I can even re-programme the damn route into the flight computer. Yes, I’m THAT guy.

Anyway.

Tomorrow morning I’m getting up bright and early, and going for a run around town. My eldest daughter has indicated she would like to come too. I’m not banking on it. I told her I will knock on the door in the morning, but if she doesn’t emerge in her running kit by 8am, tough luck. Yes, I’ve become THAT Dad too.

Maybe I should blog my way through the fourteen day staycation. It will give me something to do – to distract me – to occupy my mind.

Categories
Life

Ends and Beginnings

I visited the office yesterday – for the first time in four months. A flying visit to empty my desk, and collect a monitor and an office chair. The company I work for is finally following the example set by the likes of Automattic, and doing away with the office entirely – at least for the moment.

The convergence of ubiquitous fast internet connections, Office 365, Microsoft Teams, and the Corona Virus opened everybody’s eyes to the realisation that we were able to carry on operating very much normally while working from home. I imagine the focus of the management naturally turned to the office, and the question  “why do we have an office?”.

I now have a much better chair in the junk room at home.

I imagine in time the company may end up hiring somewhere more suited to meetings – and we will perhaps gather every few months – mostly to remember what we all look like. While in lockdown I have been the instigator of several “Zoom Quizzes” – open to all staff, and their families. The next quiz happens in a couple of weeks time. After we all emerge from lockdown, I imagine the quizzes might turn into group meals – picking local bars or restaurants to catch up with each other.

It seems strange to think I’m not working in an office any more. I’ve been sitting at a desk most weekdays for the last twenty five years. I suppose I still will – just not in an office. There are already murmurings at home about finally decorating the junk room. If I have to sit here all day every day, it would be nice if it was a little more habitable.

I better turn running and cycling into a much more regular thing too – if I’m not cycling to work and back every day, my backside will develop its own gravity.

In other news, my middle daughter has started studying to become an air traffic controller. It’s surprised all of us. Since discovering the entire damn fool escapade while accompanying me on a virtual flight on the simulator, something switched on in the depths of her brain. She has already enrolled on a training course, and is studying books. Before long, I’ll contact London Centre, and be greeted with my daughter’s bossy voice, instructing me to “maintain flight level two hundred”, and to “put the kettle on Dad”.

Categories
Life

Lunchtime Thoughts

It’s Monday lunchtime, and you find me sitting in the junk room at home. I’ve been here on weekdays since the middle of March. Nearly four months now. The only places I have visited in town during that time have been the grocery store, and the pharmacy. I’ve been on a few long walks (even with a broken toe), which we have dubbed “mental health walks”.

This weekend we visited a national trust property called “Basildon Park”, and wandered around the grounds of the estate for a few hours. We took a picnic, and met my in-laws there. While walking, we viewed any and all strangers with suspicion.

Work has slowed down ever-so-slightly this week. Owing to shortened working hours, and various co-workers being furloughed, I’ve found my days pretty full. Busy is good though. Busy stops you looking at the world around you too much and being horrified at the ignorance, division, and idiocy going on seemingly everywhere.

I’ve quickly learned that it’s best not to have balanced opinions about anything at the moment – there’s a strong sense from the most vocal on social media platforms that if you’re not with them, you are against them – there is no middle ground. Facts, opinions, truth, and lies have been stirred into a toxic stew that is fashioned into whatever narrative people wish to subscribe to or promote. It doesn’t help that “defence of self” is such a strong instinct in the wilfully ignorant.

Anyway.

I’m listening to the “Mellow Morning” playlist on Spotify, complete with adverts every few minutes. Music has been one of the huge benefits of working from home – filling the room with an endless stream of songs and stories. I tent to pick playlists completely at random – and rarely know the names of any of the bands, artists, or tracks. If one of the kids were to walk in and ask after a track (which they will not, because it’s Dad music), I typically wouldn’t be able to tell them.

Time for another coffee perhaps.

p.s. I cut all my hair off again.

Categories
Life

Running and Working

Slowly but surely, I’m losing track of the day of the week. I’m only working three days a week at the moment – Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday – so my weekends have become longer than my working week. After decades working five days a week, it’s a bit of a shock to the system.

I didn’t help that I went to bed at 2am last night. I somehow scraped myself out of bed this morning, and went for a run – I looked in on our youngest daughter, but all I could get from her was a muffled groan about something or other. I asked for a final time if she was running or not – yes or no – and she shook her head into the pillow.

So we lasted three weeks of “Couch to 5K” runs until I found myself as the “last person standing”. Rather than continue on with the programme alone, I decided to just “go for a run” this morning – to remind my body what a longer run feels like. I ran the same route we have been doing recently, but without any walking at all – and of course the weather cooperated by trying to cook me slowly throughout the run. I kind of surprised myself though – and survived, even after so little sleep.

The rest of the day has been filled with conference calls, emails, writing documents, and jumping down development rabbit holes. Pretty standard stuff.

I can’t help wondering if our ways of working and living have changed for the better in some ways – for many companies, the only reason they have an office is convention, and lack of trust in their own staff. I think perhaps the last few months have made many realise that their fears were unfounded – and that the internet, and platforms such as Office 365, GSuite, Teams, Zoom, Slack, and so on have made remote working a viable alternative.

I guess I’m lucky because I have no problem working alone – I don’t really rely on anybody else for anything, whereas I know others do. There’s going to be a huge problem bringing new starts up-to-speed, and perhaps recruitment will look much more towards self sufficiency as a desirable trait.

Here’s the thing though – if I’m going to end up sitting in the junk room for months of the year, perhaps it’s time to declutter, and decorate it.

Categories
Life

On Call

It’s Friday, and you find me holed up in the junk room at home, putting together another quiz. This evening the company I work for are having a “virtual social” on Zoom, and I volunteered myself as quiz-master. Although I have run several quizes recently, I’m putting together an entirely new set of questions, so the rest of my family can take part.

While I work on the quiz, the younger children are heading into town to get some groceries. I can’t really go anywhere today – even though I’m not working – because I have agreed to be “on call” for any support issues at work. I wasn’t planning on going anywhere, so it’s not really a hardship.

While tidying the junk room up yesterday I fished the old iMac out, and powered it up. It’s over 20 years old now, and STILL WORKS. I keep wondering if I should give it away to somebody that might get some use out of it, but can never quite bring myself to part with it. I keep telling myself I’ll use it for writing, but I never quite get around to it.

I bought a game for the kids to play yesterday – a crafting and exploration game on Steam called “Starbound”. After not hearing anything from our eldest for a few hours, I checked in on her, and discovered her still playing it – so it can’t be that bad. If I make some time later, I might have a look at it myself.

Finally, I watched the movie “Midway” last night. I hate to say it, but it’s nowhere near as good as the version made in the 1970s with Charlton Heston. Yes, the new movie has got spectacular special effects (which look very fake), but it has none of the strategic maneouvering that is covered so well in the older movie. The dive bombing scenes were unintentionally hilarious – with the age-old “every time we cut back to see the ground coming, we’re still as far away from it as last time we looked”… I swear – some of the dive bombing runs fell through the same altitudes four or five times.

Anyway.

This post was a bit random, wasn’t it.

Although I’m only posting every other day at the moment, life goes on. We’re still running, and I’m still cycling fairly regularly. Work is down to three days a week at the moment, which strangely means that I’m struggling to figure out which day of the week it is. We’re all well though, so we can’t complain.