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June's Journal
August's Journal

SETI@home units: 867 requested, 848 returned
Seem to be doing a regular ten units per day now.

Went home last night and watched Enemy of the State on the DVD player. After some initial problems with the widescreen setup I manayed to get glorious widescreen on my 21" trinitron and settled down to Dolby Digital. There were a few times in the first thirty minutes when there was screen noise, flickers and such and now and then the sound was out of sync. with the picture. I'm not sure if this was an artifact of the DVD, the player, the decoder card or what? If anyone knows, it'd be a help.

I also bought a phone case for the girlfriend's phone because I'm taking it away with me this weekend camping and I don't want it to get covered in mud or damaged/scratched.

The new site seems to be getting mixed approval. The main beef seems to be style over content. Well, I'm doing a parody so if I want to remain true, I've got to do what she does. I do have some extras though; I have the ltq (Jenni seems to have dropped her FAQ as far as I can make out) and I also have the cube (not good over a modem, as I found out last night). I've also added some Lynx-friendly tags to the main and menu pages.

A quick trawl through Dogpile and Altavista (no link, you should know that) shows me showing up on a few more sites now. Spread the word.

I'm off at 13:00 today to cycle about thirty-five miles to the Clarecraft Discworld Event. This is a chance to camp outdoors, drink, relax, have some fun and geek with likeminded people. If you're going, see you there. Elsewise I'll see you on Monday on a noew Journal page.

SETI@home units: 848 requested, 836 returned
There's strange things afoot at the Circle-K. No actually there's a goings on here at BOFHCentral. The site is getting an overhaul to keep up with the Jennies. It's not as if I want to copy her exactly, but it's not much use being a parody site if you're not parodying the right thing. As such there are, as I said, changes afoot. Keep watching today to see what happens. You might want to switch on your javascript if you're one of those people who likes to browse minimalistically.

Yes, I'm taking a short break from one form of HTML, to concentrate on another. And it's fun, damnit. Something I haven't had during work hours for a long time.

Friends came round yesterday evening (you might have seen them) to help me get the speakers home. Once they were in the house I had them connected and running as soon as possible. Compared to a conventional sound system (hi-fi, home cinema etc.) the sound isn't that impressive, but it's streets ahead of anything that claims to give PC multimedia. I'm hopefully buying a DVD today so I can check out the Dolby DIgital.

Remember, come back again today, you might get a suprise. Oh yeah, and come in via the front entrance. No sneaking in straight to this page.

[12:20] Woohoo! Site update complete. I have a tarball of the old site just in case things go horribly wrong. But otherwise welcome to bofhcam v2.0. Be sure and check out all the places you don't go any more. And look for the cube. Suggestions and emailed images will be treated with distain. But it's still worth sending them. Notification of broken things would be useful too.

SETI@home units: 836 requested, 823 returned
[12:40] Speakers have arrived! Unfortunately they come in a box far too large for even the large rucksack I brought with me today. This probably means I'll have to balance the box on my bike and walk home. This means I'll have to leave early. Shame.

Yesterday afternoon one of the admin people came in to ask if the new computers would arrive in time for the move. New computers? Seems I should have ordered four computers. Well, I got on the phone and contacted the salesdrone at Dell and bought £4488.50 worth of computers there and then. Money is power.

The office and job swapping is going to be hell because none of the people upstairs actually store their documents on their network space, rather on their own single-partitioned machines. This means that I and the PFY are going to have to move documents all over the place when people begin switching jobs. The fact that some existing people will be getting new machines and keeping their old files also complicates matters.

When I get the new servers people are going to be forced to save all their stuff to a nicely mapped U: drive. As it should be. As it is I also have to contend with people's Eudora stuff.

And don't get me started on the phones.

Other than that I've been approving the plans for the rewiring of my room and the other room with not enough data/power points to cope with the room. I've written my first project schedule document and been working on a new overall style for the public web pages. It's neat, simplistic and has lots of room for tarting up, should I feel the need/inclination later on.

All I need now is some up-to-date content.

SETI@home units: 826 requested, 811 returned
Damnit, looks like my speakers aren't going to be arriving today after all. The salesdrone on the other end of the line was probably on automatic pilot when he said so.

Oh, didn't I tell you about the speakers? Well, I've been after some Desktop Theater 5.1 speakers (AC-3, Dolby Digital) and was going to wait until my next paycheque cleared this Thursday, but they were on special yesterday, so I ordered them there and then. I probably saved five pounds, which isn't much, all things considered, but every little helps.

I'm not doing much at the moment. I really don't want to start on the DoD redesign just yet, so other than that there's the building rewiring (under control), and the internal and external web pages. Oh yes, I've got a letter to write as well, telling them we've approved the purchase of a new computer, but if he wants to convert all his WordStar files to something readable, well, he's going to have to pay for that himself.

Maybe I'll work on a template style for the web pages.

SETI@home units: 813 requested, 796 returned
Gods, time's flying at the moment. This is a good thing in my opinion as it means the girlfriend gets back from Canada quicker. At the moment she's in Toronto.

I got the last of the Exel thingy tidied up this morning and then spent a large amount of time taking the designated luser through how exactly to enter the data. Bit of a nightmare.

I don't normally like sites which are overly shockwave dependant but Pico is quite impressive (for as long as it's there.) and is very un-PC.

More wiring diagrams arrived today for the new office, the library and the other 4th floor cabling chaos that is going to erupt fairly soon. I get paid this week so I can afford to purchase my Dolby Digital decoder/speakers (which'll be nice).

Today I get to write a document specifiying what exactly I think are the roles of other computery-type people in the Institution to enable the AO to decide what we can foist off from my job onto them. She's nice.

SETI@home units: 766 requested, 752 returned
Friday again. Note to self, even CD-RWs must be formatted before use. I'm off to London for the day tomorrow, nice picnic in a park somewhere and a Mongolian Barbeque in the evening.

I've got roughly one hundred html documents to scrape the crud out of before I can even get to the new content and the internal web pages. AS it's Friday I'm not sure if I should do anything. I know the adminstrative staff upstarirs do sod all on Friday afternoons. So why should I?

[17:56] Gah! No sooner am I ready to go than the AO brings in a bastard piece of Excel for me to do. Not difficult just fecking time consuming. I think I've done it all so I'm going home.

SETI@home units: 752 requested, 737 returned
I'm dropping further and further down the table as more and more people decide to jump on the SETI bandwagon. Still it's not really where you are in the table, so much as what you're doing for the scientific community, I suppose.

I've just writtne my first project/priorities document. As a Computer Manager it's my responsibility to take control of my time and my resources and proactively leverage my skillset into creating positive effects in the Institution's IT domainspace. Or something.

What ever happens I'll be getting some new kit one way or the other, as well as a whole hell of a lot of thigs to do between now and Christmas.

The girlfriend moves from the west coast of the USA up to Canada today. Saturday sees her flying over to the east coast of Canada, lucky bugger. No more net connection for her. She was fairly near Redmond yesterday and remarked that she'd never been so motivated to work for them, because of the countryside.

Luckily she comes home in under eleven days.

SETI@home units: 738 requested, 723 returned
There was a bit of a 'thing' yesterday afternoon. One of the people in the Institution had been getting annoyed about the size of the room they occupied and that, coupled with the oppresive heat and humidity yesterday seems to have driven them over the edge. There I was, sitting in the smallest room in the building when this angry/hysterical screaming starts from one floor up.

I crossed another job off the weekly goal list. All I have now is the 'priorities' document which I need to write and lots and lots and lots of HTML.

[18:15] I've not done lots and lots of html, and I'm still not more than a tiny part of the way through. I'm going home anyway.

SETI@home units: 726 requested, 711 returned
[11:30] Had the guy running the image databases in this morning. Everything went suprisingly smoothly. We found that the really, really corrupt images were in fact fuckups by the previous incumbent in this job. So that's one less task to do. The missing 17 or 18 images (along with unreturned media from which they were digitised) is something I'm going to have to apply booted foot to rear over.

Rewiring is slowly getting sorted. My first (nicely drawn) plan was rejected due to the admininstration wanting their desks by the windows. I'm saying nothing.

Other than that, it's a fairly quiet day thus far. The girlfriend went whale watching the day before yesterday, which makes me jealous, and saw orcas at play. Hopefully she's got pictures. I may put the best of them in the gallery.

SETI@home units: 711 requested, 696 returned
Morning all. Fecking lods of things afoot today. I've decided to take home the public web pages and work on them (but I haven't got a Zip disk). I have to organise the rewiring of the floor above me (including the library, which is still to be done, and my new room) for the major office reshuffle in August (when I won't be here). I have to sort a priority schedule for the new servers and try to explain to people how distributed filesharing works (again). I have to make sure the new images for the Filemaker Pro databases are received by this office and then forwarded to the reprographics company who missed them out last time (but their web page is down). I need to completely redesign the internal web pages and get them onto the server (but I don't have the time or the information required).

And then it's 'lunchtime'. As Douglas Adams writ important; "Time is an illusion, lunchtime doubly so." I'm not expecting to actually do that much today. But it's nice to know people need me.

I spend most of Saturday wandering round all the little pokey shops in town looking for a single SPDIF cable for my DVD. The second to last one of all the shops had one. Hanging folornly from a peg. After all the searching it looked like two jumpers with some zip wire in between. I was most pissed off but also managed to get the sales drone to lewt me take a look at the Sound Blaster Live! Value manual. I would have used the PDF from Creative's web pages, but it's corrupted in some fashion.

Yes, I've emailed Creative.

No, as you might have expected, I haven't got a reply. Like I said though, all I need now are the speakers (and my own keyboard and a Logitech Mouseman) and some DVDs, of course.

SETI@home units: 672 requested, 657 returned
Well, I've got some more information on how to connect up the Sound Blaster Live! Value, DXr3 and DVD that I've got. All I need now is the speaker system and some cables. Hopefully then I can watch some DVDs with full Dolby Digital.

I installed Wipeout 2097 last night. For some reason there was no 3dfx/GLide stuff and it was far, far, far to fast to be played sensibly. Luckily I have it on the Playstation.

Yesterday didn't turn into the horrific debacle I thought it might with the reports being printed. Luckily today is Friday so it's doubtful I'll do much today either, and I get the weekend to fiddle with the new computer. I mustn't do too much modeming (which reminds me, must get 56.6 working properly).

SETI@home units: 654 requested, 643 returned
Well, I got the case, got the parts, built the computer, installed Win98 (for want of something better) and chucked in the Sound Blaster Live! Value, a DXr3 Encore DVD decoder and a DVD-/CD-ROM. The only thing is, I dunno how to connect them all up so that when I get my 'Desktop Theatre 5.1' speaker system (Dolby Digital decoder onboard) I can pipe it DD from the DVD and from games. I've been on the phone twice with Creative and gotten different answers each time. The second one promised to fax me the pages from "the manual" which dealt with this.

I'm printing everything of value on their web site including what looks like the PDF installation manuals.

[14:00] Things go from bad to worse very quickly here. Not only is today the deadline day for lots and lots of people's reports (hence the reason the printer's done over 50,000 pages in the last few weeks) and I've been daling with MS Word problems, but someone's come to ask me why the DoD are in such a shite format for statistical analysis. Well Mr. Demanding I'll tell you fucking forwhy, because I didn't write the damned things. The last person in the post wrote them, fucked them up and nearly caused himself a mental breakdown because he was such a retarded Access-programming pissant. I don't know much about Access, I don't care about your 'in-depth' statistical analyses and I surely don't think it's my job to push numbers around for you.

On a lighter note, I got a fax from Creative regarding the wiring setup for my sounds stuff. Grainy and unreadable, but it's given me some clues. Thanks also go to Mike for suggesting contact with someone he know who has close to the same setup.

SETI@home units: 643 requested, 632 returned
Now I'm just pissed off. I went to buy my new computer case last night. Left work early (16:50) and cycled across town (twice) looking in the few shops I deemed to be useful in a case-providing capacity. Given one closed at 17:30 and the other at 19:00 I was hoping to get to the earlier one first. This I did and found what looked like the right kind of case: three external 5.25", two external 3.5" and two internal 3.5" bays. One of those cases that undoes with one screw and allows you to pull the motherboard and the expansion slots right out of the case.

Hedging my bets I cycled across town to look in the other shop. Their best case was a joke, so I cycled back to the other place and told them I was going to go home and pick up a car so I could get the damned thing home. Home I go, pick up a car (driven by the girlfriend of the unix support guy, thanks Helen!) and phoning them to ask them to stay open till I got there, off we went.

Arriving, I paid by cheque (under £100 by a long way) and was asked for a cheque guarantee card and to put my address and phone number on the back. Now I'd put one, or the other, but not both. But he was insistant that both it had to be. Back he came after an interminable age and presented me with a cardboard box much larger than I thought the case required.

We picked up unix support bloke and went home to look at the case. It was the wrong one. One screw opening, but four external 5.25" bays and no removable motherboard apparatus. They'd even given me a european/american (not sure which) power cord and the PSU only had four power connectors on it. For a case that had space for seven devices, this was a bit crap.

I rang them, now an hour after they should have closed and was told tersely to come back tomorrow after they tried to tell me this was the one I'd asked for.

Argh! Fuckwitted numbnuts.

I go back today at lunchtime to get things straight. What's the betting they don't have the one I really want in stock?

Today there's a meeting to discuss the new ethernet points in the library. What the librarian wants is sensible, if a little ambitious. All I have to do now is make sure things go in the right places.

[15:30] Just come back from the case place. They claimed I'd asked for and received the right one. I corrected their error with a few short sharp phrases. They took me into the back room and I selected the case I'd specified, they boxed it... then unboxed it when I asked to see the power cable. Just as I thought; another european plug. They gave me a proper UK one and away I went.

SETI@home units: 635 requested, 624 returned
Sorry if your vision's obscured at the moment, my new 21" Iiyama just arrived and I'm checking it.

[12:30] I've packed the monitor away now, it was far too distracting. There's lots to do of an admin nature this afternoon. The librarian wants new dataports putting in the library when we had already dedided to leave them out. As a result I'e got to have 'a talk' with her this afternoon and make her see the errors of her ways.

Feet of Death may be involved.

A mouse and keyboard can be scammed in the meantime while I'm looking for the right ones but what I'm after is the case. I need a case. A good case. One that has the right number of bays internal and external, looks the business and is easily accessible. If you know of one in the UK and it's cheapish (sub £40), let me know.

Oh yeah, the temperature sensor has gone to prove to someone that having the windows open rather than closed means they stay cooler. It will be back.

[15:30] Neato keen site of the day goes to Icepick, showing that if you're going to use webcams, use them properly. Makes me feel quite inadequate. Smashing site, anyway.

SETI@home units: 626 requested, 615 returned
Well, there was a little more to the monitor thing on Friday afternoon. I sent the below transcription to a few of my favourite newsgroups for people to think about. Turns out Prime were innundated with calls demanding cheap monitors. I rang back after lunch and asked to speak to the Managing Director, who wasn't in. The bloke on the other end of the phone proceeded to get extremely angry when I asked if the price in the magazine was an error or not. He claimed it was an offer which was now over. This contradicts another reply someone else got which stated that it was a typo and should have been the price for a 19" monitor (which is damned expensive).

Anyway, on a final note, a fellow BOFH of much more advanced years than myself in another part of the Institution rang up to see if he could buy a monitor for me and then sell it on. The conversation went something like this: "Hello, I'd like to buy a monitor." "I'm sorry sit! We got the price and the size wrong in the advert!" [click]

So there you go.

Later that afternoon I ordered the same monitor from Scan International at £595.00 +VAT +delivery. It should arrive today at some point. A friend should come round by car sometime this evening and help me take the thing home.

Today (and for the rest of eternity, if someone has anything to do with it) the PFY and myself are embarking on the quest for FileMaker Pro knowledge. This dodgy bit of software is designed to have all the bad features of Access with the web accessability of IIS2.

I hate this sometimes.

[12:10] Oh yes, incase you haven't noticed, I had my hair cut on Saturday. It's been so hot here I thought it was time to get the thing shorn a little.

[17:10] Just had a phonecall from the girlfriend in Vancouver. Seems they had to make an emergency stop in Reykjavik because there was oil leaking from the engine. This after they'd had an abortive take-off after the wing was dripping fuel. Well, there were no free hotels in Iceland near the airport so they stayed in the departure lounge while a new plane was flown from Toronto. So, after being due to arrive in Vancouver at 01:40 Sunday (my time) they have instead arrived at around 16:30 Monday (my time). She's already written eight pages of LART to send off to Royal Canadian Airlines.

SETI@home units: 597 requested, 586 returned
Spent last night round at a friend's house sorting out what computer components I'm getting for my new home system. I know people like us are supposed to get away from technology when we go home, especially computers, but I've been fed up with the 486DX2-66 I've had since my early student days and decided it was time to splash out.

The old machine is a 66Mhz, 340Mb HDD (doubled to 680Mb by something called ExtraDrive), came with 4Mb RAM (now has 8 1Mb SIMMS) and a 14" monitor that'll only do 640 by 480, this is either because of the monitor or the 512Kb graphics card.

The new machine is planned to have a PIII-450, ABit BX M/b (4 DIMM slots), 9.1Gb 7200rpm HDD, Zip internal, VoodooIII 3000 AGP, SoundBlaster Live! 256, SoundBLaster Desktop Theatre 5.1 speakers, DVD(CD-ROM), 128Mb RAM. And probably other stuff, as I can afford it again.

THe two biggest problems were decideing on E-IDE vs SCSI for the M/b and peripherals and buying the monitor. I've decided to go with the Iiyama 21" 102GT (Trinitron), and found it for £569.87 (ex. VAT) in a magazine. Unfortunately, when I rang them up they sounded very confused and asked for my number while they checked their prices. Not good.

On another note entirely. I've been worried to find that the backup for the main data server didn't work last night. Seems the NT event log was filled with errors noting that the pile-of-shit SCSI DDS-2 the thing had when I arrived in April was 'offline'. I couldn't eject it and the backup had failed (like I said). A reboot didn't fix it, a power cycled seemed to. I ran the tape cleaner through it twice, but I'm still worrying. Some of my peers in the Institution reckon the life of a DDS-2 is 3 years. I think we're pretty close to that right now.

I'l get back to you on the monitor (I may even tell you who they are if you're in the UK and you want a cheap price on an Iiyama 21" trinitron) and probably on the DAT drive.

[14:00] Monitor woes. I've been after a monitor. A nice monitor. I wanted an Iiyama 21" Diamontron monitor.

These are expensive boxes. They retail for something around 660 pounds (ex. VAT). Trawling through magazines and on-line pricelists I seem to have knocked this down to 610 pounds. Not bad, you might think. Being the through chap I am I buy a computer magazine (Computer Shopper) to make sure I'm not missing a trick.

In the August edition I find an advert for Prime Component Distribution of Preston, Lancashire. Wow! 569.25 ex. VAT, bargain! So I ring them up.

Me: "Hello, I'd like to buy an Iiyama A102GT please."
Him1: "Certainly sir. If you order it today, as we deal with Iiyama directly we can get that sent off today."
M: "Can I double check the price please?"
H1: "What do you have there?"
M: "I have a copy of the most recent Computer Shopper advert which lists it as 569.25."
H1: "Hang on one moment please sir..."
H1: "Can we call you back in about ten minutes please?"

One hour passes. I ring back.

Him2: "Hello, PCD."
Me: "Hi I ran about an hour ago to see if I could order a monitor..."
H2: "Yes, we're still checking."
(off phone I can hear H1 mumbling)
H2: "The person you spoke to will be 10 min."

One hour ten minutes pass. I ring back.

Him1/2: "Hello, PCD."
Me: "Hi I rang about the Iiyama monitor..."
H1/2: "Yes, sorry, Iiyama don't have any in stock."

I ring Iiyama UK Sales.

Lisa: "Hello, Iiyama Sales."
Me: "Hi there, I have a problem. {Stuff about PCD saying Iiyama have no 21" monitors in stock}."
L: "Erm, I'm sorry, we have all of our monitors in stock at the moment, I don't know what to suggest."
M: "I think maybe they didn't want to sell to me at that price."
L: "I think you might be right."
(More discussion. Turns out PCD's price is way lower than anything else in the UK)

I ring PCD with news that horray! Iiyama do have my monitor in stock.

Him1: "Hello PCD."
Me: Hi, I'd like to speak to the Sales Manager please?"
H1: "I guess that would be me."
M: "Ah, I rang a while ago to ask about..."
H1: "Yes, I remember."
M: "It seems Iiyama do have the monitor in stock."
H1: "They may do, but we don't deal with Iiyama directly, OUR stockist doesn't have any."
M: "Oh? Oh, O.K. than..."

I ring Iiyama.

Lisa: "Hello Iiyama."
Me: "Hi, it's me again. It seems PCD now say they don't deal with you directly, but through a stockist, can you tell me who that is please?"
L: "I don't know if I can do that, there are hundr... Oh, PCD have an account with us."
M: "Do they?"
L: "Yes."
M: "Ah."
L: "Ah, yes."
M: "Well, thanks for your time."

Now, do I ring PCD back and ask them why they can't order direct from Iiyama like they normally seem to?

If anyone else wants to take advantage of this _really_low_price_ you can ring Prime Components Distribution on 01772 768832. Don't forget to quote the price 569.25 (ex. VAT) from Computer Shopper, August edition.

You may also want to mention that you know that they have an account with Iiyama that is currently settled.

Gods, I'm angry.

SETI@home units: 588 requested, 577 returned
[12:10] Well it's been a full morning this morning. Said goodbye to the girlfriend this morning. She's off home to Wiltshire by now and leaving the country for America by Saturday. Hopefully, all being well she'll be back by August 1st.

As a consequence of saying goodbye I was 'late' for work (08:40) and tried to get Eudora to work with this sodding POP connection. 20 minutes of work failed to yield results. I replied to the people on USENET who'd been thinking about it and poked some more people more local.

The problem is that the pop server requires something of the form:
+OK Ready
user [email protected]
+OK Please sent PASS command
pass xxxxxxxxxx
+OK Maildrop locked and ready
Now, Eudora's most important field is the POP Account: field which requires something of the form:
[email protected]
With a username of [email protected] this line then ends up as
[email protected]
Which makes Eudora throw a wobbly. Just as I was about to give up hope, someone called Jonathan came up with the solution of the %paths. All I needed to do was replace the first @ with a % and Bob was your father's brother.

SETI@home units: 577 requested, 566 returned
Quiet day today, thank gods. Last night I was attempting ot set up the girlfriend's modem to access UK Gateway. Suprisingly enough, the internal modem went in without a murmer, the Plug-and-Play plugged and played and after a little reading of the instructions, we were web browsing. Unfortunately, as a 'free ISP' there's very little information on system configuration. Instead you have to ring the £1.00 a minute line and listen to some tech drone read back the stuff you've already read.

They tell you how to set up Netscape and Outlook Express, both of which are terrible pieces of software for the job required. As she's on a slow Windows 95 box I've gone with Eudora Light. They don't tell you how to set this up. Now I know my way around Eudora for TCP/IP connections, but the amount of different usernames and POP accounts names you have to configure has be just a little confused.

Emails I've sent are bounced with a message telling me to ring the support line. I think I'll spend tonight with a pad and pen trying every combination I can think of until I get it right.

Today I 'ave bin morstly doing some statistics on the DoD, getting the PFY to start learning about FileMaker Pro (for an upcoming image database) and reading the report detailing the data errors with the DoD.

SETI@home units: 568 requested, 557 returned
[10:40] Not much happening today. There was a big lightning storm last night which I hoped would cause some power outages. This would give me an opportunity to renew my appeal for some decent UPS systems for the admin servers.

NT installations and a 'to scale' drawing of my new office (did I tell you about that? If I didn't more nearer the time) with all new data ports and power points being done this morning.

SETI@home units: 558 requested, 547 returned
And now it's Monday. First day back. The weekend was spent travelling to Leeds to visit my parents, going out for a meal and travelling back here on Sunday. I've just arrived, read all my post and the notes left to me by the PFY and I have these things to do: Fix the phones, call the Inland Revenue and get them to sort themselves the fuck out, revamp the internal and external web pages for the Institution and find out why someone's machine si 'going slow'. I'm assuming I'll have to start work on rewriting the DoD soon, too.

More later.

[13:40] Forgot to mention. I now have a portable air-con unit in the room. Chill city.

02/07/1999 (What-I-did-on-my-holiday Edition)
Friday was better. It was only spitting. I did have the most irritating itch in the world though. It was insane how itchy this point on my back was.

The itch didn't start until the girlfriend and I had cycled to the Centre for Alternative Technology, a fair ride, but worth it. When we arrived it was still closed (having set off insanely early again) but the itch had started. No matter how I ignored it or sctatched it (actually scratching made it worse) it was incessant. In the end I resigned myself to working my shoulderblade into one of the roughcut logs used to make the pay booth at the entrance.

The C.A.T. is a self-sufficient organisation which produces all of its own consumables; water, electricity, food, and is open to the public to show how people migh wish to take some pressure off the earth by recycling, energy efficiency, and generally turfing your roof with grass.

We pottered around the place, went up in the water-driven mountain railcar and phoned someone on a solar-powered payphone. Upon leaving we cycled to Machynlleth (pronounced Ma-cunt-leth) and did some more professional pottering before having a sauna.

Having suffered from chronic sunburn and probably being a little dehydrated generally, you might think a sauna would be a bad idea. You'd be right, but we endured it because, hey, we like 'em. After a suitable amount of par-boiling we cycled slowly and tiredly home.

Only to find that we were going out again for the evening to a Mardi Gras of some description. Seems one of the old welsh mining towns goes mad once a year and people get dressed up, drink a lot and walk through the streets singing anything they like while music pumps from the windows above. We came, we saw, we sampled, we saw the most amazing lightning show which turned the sky (or my retinas) purple for a good half an hour, and then we went home. Both on the way there and on the way back were were listening to Tony Hawkes' audio book, entitled Around Ireland with a Fridge. The story of a bet which spawned a hitch hiking legend.

When we got back it wasn't finished so I listened to it on the house stereo until 01:25. Then I went to bed.

01/07/1999 (What-I-did-on-my-holiday Edition)
Thursday was the day it rained. All day. All sodding day! We woke up, it was raining. We pottered around the house, it rained. The rain came down in waves as the wind pushed it, it was beautiful (if not frustrating) to watch. The sheep didn't seem to mine. We read, considered going out anyway on bike and getting pissed on, and then decide not to.

By the evening I was going stir-crazy and in the end we cycled over hill and down valley to get to a pub, where a nice double measure of a single malt called my cabin-fever.

And that's about it for that day.