Open Thinkering


Weeknote 05/2023

I’m starting to writing this by the light of the fish tank, no-one else is up. I try to go to bed and wake up at the same time every day, as it seems to negate the needs for stimulants like caffeine (which can be a migraine trigger for me).

Talking of migraines, I had three in five days over the past week. Thankfully, I’ve got my meds to stave off the worst of them, and the flexibility to work around them. The trouble is that I’ve now had the maximum number of tablets I can have this month so… I’m either going to have to slightly overdose or just not take one (😱) if I get another.

Tuesday afternoon/evening was enough to provoke a migraine in anyone this week. I took our daughter out of school early for a County football match in Consett. This is not a part of the world I’ve ever had the misfortune to visit before, having previously believed that standing on the side of the pitches at Hirst Welfare was the coldest place in the North East. Not so.

The short version of this story is that the manager insisted on taking the full squad of 22 girls (19 turned up) to the game, with the intention of essentially playing one ‘team’ per half. They warmed up for an hour before kick-off while I and the other parents did the opposite.

The match kicked off at 16:30 and the first half saw the Northumberland team go 3-0 down versus Durham (although it could have been a lot more). We assumed that the floodlights would go on at half-time, but… no-one could find the caretaker. Eventually, after much hand-wringing and both players and parents alike sheltering from the biting wind in the changing rooms, the match was abandoned. A few of us took our kids to the local McDonald’s.

All of this was disappointing enough, except that our daughter had also turned down the chance to be a ball girl at the Newcastle United match that night in the semi-final of the League Cup at St. James Park. It was a bit galling to come back home, turn on the TV and see some of her peers from Newcastle’s Emerging Talent Centre (ETC) parade round the pitch.

Life has a way of evening things out, however, so at her ETC training session on Friday night, it was heartening to find out she’d won tickets for the Newcastle vs West Ham Premier League match the next day.

Well now, after writing so much about our daughter’s exploits my son (or his friends, who may or may still be reading this far down a fairly text-heavy page) will be expecting me to redress the balance. So I’ll start by saying that while the above was happening on Tuesday, he and my wife were attending a virtual meeting with his school talking about post-16 options. He’s currently planning on studying Geography, Maths, and Physics at ‘A’ Level at the Sixth Form of the school he attends.

There’s always drama with junior sports, and so this week in my son’s world has been his basketball team. It all sounds like handbags at five paces, but some of the older, more talented players seem to have taken their ball home (if you’ll pardon the pun) because of the way they’ve been treated by their coach. I don’t go to his training sessions, as he can walk down by himself, but from what I’ve heard second-hand, there’s potentially blame on both sides.

The problem, of course, is that these days you find out about kids activities via WhatsApp groups. Or rather my wife does, and sends me screenshots, as I don’t use any Facebook Meta products. (A few better ways than this have popped up recently, such as Spond, which one of our daughter’s team uses.)

As a ‘Code of Conduct’ for such a WhatsApp chat would perhaps seem a little ‘heavy-handed’ when the group is set up, there’s no agreed way of dealing with drama. So what happens, and I’ve seen this happen a few times, is that in the heat of the moment, some things are said about perceived unfairness, or about commitment, or similar. Things escalate, and then there is inevitably some heavy-handed deleting of messages by whoever is the admin. This breeds resentment. People leave.

It’s no different at work, to be honest, even among those who should know better. This week, for example, someone had an almost visceral reaction to the suggestion that it might be good to encourage those other than the usual suspects (in this case cis/white/male) to step forward for a thing. I managed to have a private chat with this person who, it turned out was ‘amped-up’ (their words) from something else. They deleted their posts.

There are increasing numbers of strikes in the UK at the moment, something of which I am entirely in favour. If your pay is not rising with inflation, then you are getting a de facto pay cut. It’s as simple as that. So when on Wednesday our kids’ schools tried to keep open despite striking colleagues, I sent an email to our daughter’s headteacher explaining why we’d be ‘educating her offsite’ about things including why it’s important not to cross picket lines.

Our son, who’s a few months away from his GCSE exams is, at 16 years of age, old enough to make his own decisions. He went in, but (it would appear) spent a good couple of hours in the hall shuffling post-it notes around a desk in the main hall.

I may be several hundred words into this weeknote, but it would be neglectful of me not to talk about the work I’ve been doing this week. Last time, I mentioned that I’d met with a few people from CoTech who were interested in setting up a ‘digital candle’ service for those considering setting up co-ops. Well, I stood up the world’s most MVP-ish site using GitHub Pages and got it CNAME’d to

You’ll notice that it’s literally using my Google Calendar for the ‘booking system’; the seven of us who have volunteered to field the calls have got a spreadsheet and a chat channel to co-ordinate. We’ve had eight bookings so far, but for one reason or another the first four bookings all cancelled or were no-shows on Friday afternoon. I think some of that is to do with process (i.e. me handing over to others without making that clear to the person who booked), some is to do with people not turning up for ‘free’ things, and some to do with it being Friday afternoon. A couple have rebooked, so ¯\_ (ツ)_/¯

Alright, it’s going to have to be bullet-point time because I want to get to the gym. Here goes in terms of the rest of the stuff I’ve been doing this week:

  • Chatting with a sister co-op about IR35 rules (🙄) and whether they apply to our situation. I don’t think they do, so long as each member invoices a client other than the co-op for work within each financial year.
  • Becoming admin of two forums — the CoTech one and the new one. The former was so that I could set up the chat channel mentioned above, whereas the latter was because they were having issues configuring the logo, etc.
  • Commenting on the ICA guidance notes with Laura in preparation for the next season of our podcast which we’re dedicating to co-operation.
  • Creating a mockup of what a community forum could/should look like for passbolt.
  • Invoicing clients (and invoicing WAO from Dynamic Skillset)
  • Working on a follow-up to a blog post Laura published last week about Open Recognition in the workplace.
  • Planning some preventative measures and mitigating actions into a project at the request of a client.
  • Coaching members of an organisation who are heading for an offsite meetup and who need some help with planning workshops and getting their presentations right.
  • Collaborating with John on a project where the client needs to send us more things before we can move forward. Always a little frustrating, but understandable given we move quite quickly!
  • Discovering that I won’t be flying to Tenerife during half-term to facilitate an offsite for a company. Ah well.

Next week, we’re collaborating with Bryan for the first time since he resigned as a member/director of the co-op and became a cooperator. We’ve also got some things to work through and get planned as Laura is heading off to Costa Rica for three weeks at the end of the month. Speaking of which, I should probably start doing some more preparation for walking (some of) The Pennine Way with Aaron in April.

Photo of some very nice tapas dishes Hannah and I had with a bottle of wine on Friday night at The Auction House.

3 thoughts on “Weeknote 05/2023

  1. Hi Doug – (tough about the migraines) Just wanted to comment to say GOOD about supporting the strikes (especially teachers) and educating your daughter about picket lines. My teacher daughter (and her teacher partner )were on them down in that London this week.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *