Quarternotes: S2 E7

The last entry feels like an actual lifetime ago

Quarternotes: S2 E7
Welcome to BC sign in the mountains

In April, school closed again in Ontario and stayed closed for the remainder of the school year while we ineptly tried to follow the online learning regime between meetings. I felt overwhelmed, unsupported, let down by the politicians in my area. Mostly I felt grief for my daughter, who so needed to be in class with her friends, and didn’t get a chance to say goodbye to that part of her life before we moved across Canada.

Then we moved from Ottawa to Victoria, BC. I drove while my family flew — solo driving across ~4400km (six long driving days) past dense forest, gorgeous lakes, seemingly endless farmland. I listened to a lot of audio books. We moved into a new house which is perfect for us but comes with shocking mortgage payments (fun fact: little Victoria is one of the most expensive cities in Canada after Vancouver and Toronto! My only comfort is that it’s slightly less expensive than London, which is the only other place in the world I can imagine our little family living right now.)

We’re adjusting to our new life well. I miss some things about Ottawa, I still miss everything about London, but this is where we are now so I’m focusing moving forward. We’re slowly exploring the forests and lakes and beaches, meeting new people, setting our house and life up as we like it. Things are feeling slower, more normal again and I’m grateful for that.

Three things I’ve done since my last update

  • I led our team through a roadmapping process in which we let our user community choose our priorities and are focusing all the work we do on user needs. It’s getting quite a bit of exposure and chatter in our dept so that’s promising.
  • I redesigned the landing page and flow of a product our team has developed. It’s been cool to see something I’ve designed come to life in a tangible way (as in, it’s something people use and not just an artefact to inspire change.)
  • I’ve been mostly busy putting together a number of talks, internally and externally. Currently working on a keynote for public sector devops event I’m speaking at.

Three things I’ve struggled with:

  • The world feels dark and heavy right now. Our new province, BC, is burning to the ground. The bodies of over 1,000 indigenous children have been found. Climate change. Afghanistan. Covid. I don’t have anything new or profound to say on any of these but they weigh on my mind constantly.
  • On a less serious (but annoying) note, moving provinces within Canada has been possibly more hassle than moving to Canada from overseas. It’s thrown me into an existential crisis where I’m questioning what the point of having provincial governments even is (and honestly, I’m coming up short there.)
  • Staying focused and motivated and on task, given all of the above.

Three things that have inspired me:

  • I’ve recently started attending oneteamgov again, having not participated since I used to occasionally attend the Westminster breakfasts. It’s been such a breath of fresh air connecting with people again. I do miss the horse guards canteen though.
  • The talks at UX Bristol which are open and free to watch on my own timezone. I am so, so grateful when things like this are made available to those outside of the UK. I found Ben Holliday’s talk on Asking Design Questions especially useful (as always)
  • I’ve been thinking a lot recently about common language across teams so this blog post from the UK gov was very timely and helpful. I also rediscovered this lightening talk from a few years ago which was really powerful in changing how I think about language in government.

Reading, watching, listening

  • I’ve read/listened to quite a number of books in the last few months — My recent favourites have been If I Had Your Face by Frances Cha and The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
  • I’ve fallen a bit behind on my podcast listening but the recent episodes of Revisionist History about laundry and Disney have blown my mind just a bit.
  • Late on this one but I just finished Three Families which was excellent, and the Pursuit of Love was dazzling. Gutted they’re both so short.