Archive | March, 2021

Spring is here!

20 Mar

Work won’t love you back

10 Mar

Abstract of what is on my mind: work is transactional by nature, excellent connections with coworkers are precious (I am fortunate to have many). Now, the companies that consider their work force “family” puzzle me. This is not exactly the case where I work (or is it?), BUT we are in a setting that is pretty conducive to it, AND after 27 years, this is going to change –in less than a year. SO I really wonder what that change will do to the current equilibrium (I’m pretty sure it’s going to put it to the test).


This stemmed from my browsing The Twitters yesterday. I read Kevin‘s tweet (screenshot and link underneath). He wrote “work won’t love you back.” And as much as I’ve loved the people I’ve worked with, it’s always turned to be correct.

He was quoting another Twitter thread (screenshot and link underneath) where I read “it’s so emotionally damaging when companies self-style their workers as “family”. you can have deep emotional connections with your coworkers, if you’re lucky, but don’t forget that work relationships are fundamentally transactional. i hope your family is not.

Tweet by Kevin pointing out that work won’t love you back
The tweets that Kevin quoted, referring to work as family but also as being a transaction

I don’t consider my workplace to be like family and we aren’t self-styled as such either. But, work is very central in my life: every other week I spend most of my waking time at work (the other week, I am solo parent of a teenager).

Firstly, I am fortunate to have very deep emotional connections with many of my coworkers, a few of which I even regard as father figures, many of which are true models for me, most of which I respect tremendously. Secondly, we have very little turnover. I’ve worked there for over 22 years and many current colleagues were already in the team when I joined. And we welcome newcomers, not as siblings, but with similar care and attention to their success. As though we have a stake in it –and we do, yes. Thirdly, we get together (we used to, pre-COVID at least) every now and then and those occasions are always enjoyable and looked forward to by most. Yes, like any other workplaces, there are difficult people who get along with fewer people or are not interested in making any connections at all. That’s my description of our unusual work environment. In fact, I remember how I described it to my mum a few years into it: like summer camp where you make new great friends and do exciting stuff, but all year-round.

Now, our administrative setup allows us to do our work without a whole lot of competition, without too many frustrations, because we are employed by four different institutions that legally “host” our consortium, and in most of our cases, the people who employ us are not those we take work orders from. I think that makes a world of a difference.


Change is coming. The Hosts arrangement, in place from the start in 1994, has enough drawbacks that for a few years now we have been exploring how to become our own legal entity. This is set to happen on January 1, 2022. When it does, the consortium will have its own bank account, legal and fiduciary obligations, and traditional management powers that we currently do not fully have.

The dynamics are bound to change. While today I (and many others in the team) are moved by the sheer impact our work has on society (HTML –heard of it? CSS, Web accessibility, Internationalization, etc. We are the little known consortium that makes the Web work, for everyone) and the Hosts that employ us provide the best abstraction to shield us from the reality of the transactional nature of work, this is going to hit us in the face like the train crashing Dr. Woodward’s truck in the movie Super 8!

There is a lot on our plates and most of us overwork because it’s really worth it! I remind myself on occasion that work won’t love me back but once we are truly as valuable as our ability to make the company money, I wonder how the care will fare.

Exercising: one-year anniversary

8 Mar

A year ago, my Apple Watch suggested that it wasn’t too late if I wanted to earn the 2020 International Women’s Day challenge: all it took was a 20-minute walk!

How it started

My dog in tow, I went for a walk. I earned my first “activity” badge. And this marked the start of my exercising daily.

International Women’s Day challenge award

The mammoth total!

In the past 365 days, I covered 1,172.78 kilometers (728.7 miles) in logged walks, or runs.

To put this into some perspective:

  • That’s about an eighth or a ninth of what I drive yearly.
  • That’s an average of almost 100 kilometers per month.
  • I will note that about half of it was achieved during the first five months (because that’s when I ran.)

As someone who abhorred even the idea of exercising and had stopped any practice of sport for a couple of decades, I find all of this both impressive and very gratifying.

Graphs

Daily average of exercise in the last year: 70 minutes
Daily average of active energy in the last year: 547kcal
Daily average steps in the last year: 7872
Daily average running and walking distance in the last year: 6,4 km
Activity graphs in the last year: move, exercise, stand

Notes on the graphs, key stats

Except the “stand” graph which so far has been steadily increasing (spoiler: it is about to plateau at 19 times per day, or decrease. I don’t sleep so well but I’m hopeful this can improve), all of the bars of the other graphs are consistent (that’s reassuring!)

March and April last year were the slow but steady start, then in May I really upped my game. In June I probably was like, “chill if you want to sustain this.” But July, golly! July was too much. So much that a huge dip followed and it took me all of August, September and October to recover and make really small progress. I didn’t resume running though. November, December and January 2021 were tough too, with another dip and a general but consistent sluggishness. I was back at it in February. And a week into March suggests it’s going to be a pretty good month.

Notable rounded numbers include:

  • May 2020: walked 110 km
  • Jul 2020: ran 100 km (over 12 hours), covered a total walking + running distance of 175 km
  • Aug 2020: 15 hours of core training and yoga
  • Sep 2020: 42 workouts out of 60 were yoga and core training, for a total of 33 hours
  • Dec 2020: daily yoga practices of 40 minutes
  • Jan 2021: only month in the past year where I didn’t exercise every day (only 25 workouts)
  • Feb 2021: 1:40:00 of average walk time (13 walks, over 21 hours, over 106 km)

How it’s going

My primary motivation (beyond the Apple Watch successful nagging of exactly a year ago) was to lose the extra weight that I had put on due to some medication I took for a month or so, and to get back in shape.

In that regard it has been a complete success. Although it took eight long months to complete the former! I am back in shape: no more knee and hip pains, stronger legs and arms, slower heart rate.

Weight graph over the last year: 62.09 kg

But what keeps me going is this: exercising is now a key part of my life. I swear I never thought I would think that! I still can’t wrap my head around it :) but it’s true. This is the only thing I do for myself. This is the only thing I do that is not working, or caring for my child or relatives (both of which, with a little sleep, a little Netflix, or a little art making or reading, fill the rest of my life.)

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