8.1 ..keep the Doctor away

In recent weeks I’ve been struggling a bit with both my anxiety levels spiking and my physical health being pretty rubbish. It has been hard to untangle them. Headaches, insomnia, allergies, stomach pains, weakness. It has been a real buffet of shitiness.

The fact that it all triggered around my birthday is – I think – a coincidence as worrying about my age has never been one of my hang ups.

I feel like I have started to come out the other side of it now and one thing I have decided is to return to some routines that I had let slide and see if that helps keep me on track a bit. So here I am again – series eight of my #weeknotes. An attempt to dump some of the crazy in my head out into the crazy that is the open web.


So whats the haps this week then?

Started the week by pitching for a new project in Westminster – it is a really interesting Discovery/Alpha and I really enjoyed the pitch. Good people asking good – hard – questions. I’ve said it before – and inevitably will say it again – but I am so surprised at how much I enjoy the whole pitching process. Not so much all the broader hoops that you have to jump through in procurement terms (but Mr C deals with most of that for us!) but writing proposals and doing pitch presentations is kind of fun. I mean I really, genuinely love the work we do and the processes we use for it all so it is a bit of treat to get to talk about it without people dozing off.

It was good that it was fun though as elsewhere a couple of projects are really not in great shape for one reason or another and unpicking them and working out the best way to mitigate some of the issues definitely dampened my enthusiasm for my chosen profession (when you find yourself longing for your days at Tesco you know you’ve had a day!).

Had a chat with OC – who lead one of the projects and is generally a smart guy and a trusted colleague – about what some of these mitigations might look like and also what we’d need to do if we won the other work we had pitched for. Was a reassuring conversation – if for no other reason that was useful to talk it through with someone other than the voices in my head!

We also had a good conversation about ‘conversational interfaces’ – chatbots/voice etc. Which I enjoyed – I am one of the people who thinks ‘voice’ is going to be big one way or another – but I may have watched too much Star Trek. Also played ping-pong at WeWork for the first time – I wasn’t as terrible as I expected.

At a different project in the South West (is Best) I’m coming to the end of my time but have a fun little last assignment. Thinking through what a Service Standard Assessment -esque process might look like for them – without signing up to the broader process.

This lead to a blogpost —> https://medium.com/notbinary/trust-but-verify-reimagining-service-assessments-38202affaa48

Which was good because bloggers block has been another side effect of my meh-lancholy recently.

It is an interesting challenge that seemed easier at the outset than it actually is. There are some quite tricky obstacles to cope with to get it right. I’m enjoying it.

I’m also helping the team there arrange a series of talks for staff around a whole bunch of topics – particularly the strength of multi-discipline teams. This is likely to lead to some of you reading this getting DMs 🙂


What else?

Oh I am almost sorted for #jukesiesjaunt – my trip to Canada and the US. I am no longer even pretending it is a holiday.

I’m going to be in Ottawa – Toronto – Victoria – Vancouver – Oakland (I suppose I’ll also be in SF but I’m going to try and just stay in Oakland this trip!).

I am seeing people from

Canadian Digital Service
Ontario Digital Service
Code for Canada
ITAC (I think it is like the BCS for Canada)
Three companies who do digital gov work

I am attending

Ontario Civic Tech meetup
OneTeamGov breakfast (Ottawa)
Pacific Innovation Fair
International Design in Government
Code for America Summit

I am away for 20 days.

I suspect I will need an additional 20 days to recover.

I have new limited edition stickers incoming and a bunch of my popular ones being reprinted so I am feeling organised.


This evening I am attending the little celebration of the 10 year anniversary of the first ‘National Hack the Government’ hackathon – an event that – along with Govcamp – is part of the DNA of all the good digital government work that came after it. I only attended twice I think – but I did get ONS to sponsor one of the events – which was a big win at the time.



Read the new Expanse book – ‘Tiamat’s Wrath’ – was better than the last couple – totally powered through it. Won’t make a lick of sense though if you haven’t read all the others.

Next up is ‘Coders’ by Clive Thompson.

Watched Shazam. It is wonderful. An actual fun, Silver Age style super hero movie. The final act is just brilliant if you know the comics – totally didn’t expect them to go there!


Watched Beyonce’s ‘Homecoming’ on Netflix. Not for the last time I suspect. Amazing!


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