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31/05/2005
[10:00] Let me tell you about the weekend. After a freakishly early start following the beer festival (somewhere in the region of 06:40) I was on my bike and down into town for 07:30. Once we'd collected everyone both cars set off to Black Rock near Matlock. The journey was fairly uneventful and we arrived before anyone else. Of course one of our passengers actually demanded that we stop on the way for a coffee, which put us behind the other car, but this was the same person we (another group) left behind for a climbing trip to an indoor wall once because he was extremely late.

Anyway, once there I teamed up with a girl called Helen who's about two thirds my height but just as good at climbing. We set to work climbing what's classed as a Severe graded climb. Although Helen managed to get a good few bits of gear in, she was unable to get over the crux of the problem and I did my first proper outdoor lead finishing the climb! I wasn't as peturbed by this is I thought I would have been, at least until afterwards. My first decent lead, a Severe! After that (on a promise to Elaine that I'd come home safely) I decided not to lead on my next turn and instead did some classy seconding to get gear out while Helen top-belayed me up. I did, however, manage a particularly gnarly-starting VDiff (Very Difficult) later on in the day which ruled. By the end of the day I was (and still am) covered in gritstone tattoos (grazes) and had very little in the way of fingerprints left. I have some photos to upload which I may get around to doing early this week. Helen also managed her first E1, 5c bouldering problem on a practically featureless slab.

We drove into Matlock Bath for fish and chips afterwards before driving home. Of course, our fourth member of the group wanted a lift all the way home (rather than being dropped in the same place as everyone else). This added another half an hour to the journey and meant that I didn't get home until gone 23:00. Still, a very good day otherwise.

Sunday was also an excellent day which started off very well (in bed) and remained almost as good while Elaine and I did some good work in the garden (mowing the lawn, weeding, sweeping up). Bacon, eggs and potato cakes just served to round the morning off afterwards. I have to admit that after Saturday's efforts I was very much content to relax for most of Sunday. Even so, at around 16:00 I did pedal over to Tesco on the other side of town to pick up essentials for Elaine to make some cakes with (not that she did, but it was good exercise for the day).

30/05/2005
[31/05/2005 - 10:00] After relaxing on Sunday we got up fairly late today and Elaine put slick tyres on her bike. Although there was a brief shower by the time we set off for Shaun and Linda's the weather was much better. Much of the afternoon was spent sitting in a sun lounger (or in Elaine's case, breaking her first one and having to use a backup), eating delicious food and chatting about whatever came up. Some time in the evening we cycled home again. Not sure what it is about cycling at a nice slow pace, but it actually makes the journey seem shorter. I'm not sure what Elaine felt as she had no suspension on her bike and wickedly high pressure slicks on.

27/05/2005
[11:45] Half day! The weather is lovely too. I'm feeling rather tired and run down at the moment so things are bothering me more than they should. Sometimes I just wish people weren't so picky about the things I say. I don't think what I say is so losely worded that it's worth prodding but apparently that's the case. When the people who do the prodding are either people I respect or to whom I have more than a passing acquaintance it becomes even more annoying. I think I'm just in a bit of a slump at the moment.

On the up side I think I have a second machine built, and the installation of Link Scan looks like it should be fairly easy to automate given the use of HERE documents and the correct information from the developers and we can get that done too.

I'm heading off from here at 14:00, take a small detour on the way home and the wait for Andrea to turn up. I may even have a snooze. Tomorrow I'm up at the crack of dawn to go climbing at the Black Rocks. Sunday will hopefully be relaxing but I'm sure I'll do something to foil that, and Monday (bank holiday) should be a lovely visit to Shaun and Linda's by bike. So, hoping my mood will improve somewhat and I don't end up causing myself a whole load of grief I'm heading off semi-shortly. Have a great weekend yourselves.

26/05/2005
[16:50] In early again this morning. After going to the beer festival last night and although I only had half a perry (7.6% abv) I was completely and utterly shattered this morning. Despite (or perhaps because) of that I pulled on my running togs and ran into work again. The weather was hot and humid by the time I got in and I was very glad for the shower (even if the head is clogged with limescale again and one of the extractor fans has a bad bearing). As a result I emailed the principle secretary and asked to take the shower head home for the weekend. I'll give it a good soak in descaler when I'm not climbing or at Shaun and Linda's barbeque.

Today was meant to be documentation day but I've been fighting with RedHat Networks and their woefully out of date Errata caching which has meant that all of my machines seemed to be up to date when in fact they were out of date. An email thread has started on the Taroon mailing list and we seem to be making progress. Essentially it looks like all the machines are a kernel revision behind and at least six other packages need multiple updates, even after RHEL3 U5's big bag o' updates.

I really can't be bothered to go around all the people who need to be consulted about reboots to ask when it convenient so I'll do the non-rebooty updates and deal with the others next week. If this was Microsoft Windows there'd be a whole lot of rebooting going on and I'd be extremely upset. As it is, RHN and up2date make it fairly easy and I can get a lot of things done very quickly without any service downtime.

For now I think I'm going to go home, have a shower (running home don't you know?) and relax for the evening. Tomorrow is a half day as far as I'm concerned, then it's off for a hair cut, then to the beer festival with Andy, Keith and Co. until we run out of money or get too tired to stay any longer. Of course, leaving to go climbing at 07:30 on Saturday morning won't be fun, but the climbing will be.

25/05/2005
[16:50] Even though I've been getting to work for approximately 08:00 every day this week, getting up and cycling in rather than running this morning was far harder. At work the kernel upgrades and so forth went perfectly well so I was left with plenty of time to look at scripting the last parts of the crossover rsync stuff. Other than the initial SSH acceptance issue which I've just knocked on the head it all seems fine and dandy. I can now build a complete server including all the ancillary installation and configuration in exactly forty two minutes. This is a good thing, but will probably never ever be used. I don't really care as it's meant I haven't had to do any documentation for ages. I think that time is upon me now.

Things are going well at the moment I think. Aside from the usual lack of time and money when it comes to doing anything to the house (and I'm sure there's some kind of leak in the space above one corner of the kitchen) Elaine and I are doing well, feeling pretty happy and getting on with things. All in all right at this moment things are good. There's room for improvement as always, but who can't say that?

A minor fly in the ointment is that I have to stay here past 17:00 today to wait for a new Sun rack to be delivered. I'd really rather go home and climb, especially as I should have gone home at 16:00. I think I'll take Friday afternoon off instead with all my racked up hours.

This afternoon, other than working, I have mostly been looking at shaft-driven bicycles. Technology has come on a bit since I last thought about them.

24/05/2005
[12:40] For those of you hunting for a new keyboard may I present the Deck which looks extremely cool, has a great spare key and has small print which claims that it even covers modified Decks, as long as the modifications weren't excessively amateurish.

I've been on the lookout for a new keyboard but I really would prefer another Natural one as I don't think I'd hold off RSI otherwise. This morning I've been looking at rsync with a view to trying out a few scripts this afternoon.

[16:40] The rsync seems to work fairly well. Unfortunately I'm going to have to think about doing some fiddling with authorized_keys to make the use of SSH tunnels work without passwords. It's not only during the setup phase, but regularly through the working life of the servers concerned. I may have to resign myself to allowing root access between the two machines to be by SSH key. This shouldn't be too hard, I'm just a little wary about it. I think it's another job for one of my fiendishly impressive post-install scripts.

I actually need to be in for 08:00 tomorrow to reboot two live servers. As a result I'm not going to risk running in in case something goes wrong and I'm too tired to be operating at one hundred percent.

23/05/2005
[16:15] A far better day today. The machine hadn't crashed (leading me to believe that either the DIMMs I took are are at fault or that putting the bigger ones in the primary slots has made some difference. As it is I've just reinstalled the machine with the new RHEL3 u5 kickstart area (requiring me to do all new kickstart floppies annoyingly. Luckily all my custom changes are now in netstag2.img so it was just a few dd commands and copying in the kickstart configuration files again.

The machine's sitting there and seems to be fine even after having been stressed with an Oracle client installation, perl modules installation, installing and running a java-based UPS monitoring client and compiling Resin from source. I'm going to leave it going for a few days now, fiddle about a bit with rsyncing stuff from the live service and see if it does anything untoward. If not, it's the live standby server.

I ran in this morning. I was so ill at ease after not hearing The Today Programme on the radio this morning (for those of you who care, I agree with the strike, even if I do make mild jokes about it) that I got up and set out. Of course this meant I arrived at around 07:45. But that's not really the point. On the plus side it does mean I get to go home, well, now.

20/05/2005
[16:35] This has turned into the Friday When Nothing Got Done. I really honestly have tried my best to do something but with RedHat releasing the second tranche of Update 5 RPMs and the machine crashing again I've been unable to get down to anything truly productive. When I got in this morning the box had crashed hard again in exactly the same manner. The vmstat and top that were running at the time reported nothing of interest. I'm wondering what to run next to give me some more information. On the offchance it's something to do with bad RAM I've taken out to of the 256MB sticks and swapped the two 512MB sticks into their place. I'll let it go over the weekend and see what happens. According to the documents I've been able to find that's the way round they're supposed to go anyway. If it all still seems fine on Monday I'll stick the two 256's back in again and do another install to test the new kickstart RPMs I have of U5.

Other than that I've mainly been watching up2date do its stuff a lot, thinking about Elaine and working out what we're going to do this weekend with regard to travel. Tomorrow morning we're off to Milton Keynes to see Geoff, Shelley, Rhys and probably a whole load of other people as we sit down to watch Star Wars Episode III in a highly priced cinema, followed by a meal. We then need to work out if we're going to get the coach home again, or stay the night and go home in the morning. We'll probably go on the Saturday night to allow us to get a decent night's sleep and do something productive with Sunday.

19/05/2005
[16:45] I took the morning off to go to the doctor and same back with some things to help me well, which is good. Popped in to see Elaine on the way to the office as her place was inbetween where I was and where I was headed. There's nothing quite like standing close to the person you're with in their workplace and attempting to gently embarass them by kissing them while people they know wander by.

Back at work I found out that the machine I've most recently installed had crashed again over night. This is not promising. I'm rather thankful it's not a live live server but just the standby one. Even so I'm going to have to run some burn tests on the RAM and disks to see what the problem is. In the mean time RedHat have brought out Update 5 for RHEL3 so I've been spending my time testing it on a few sacrificial boxen to see if it does nasty things to them. Among those boxen is my own workstation which (as there's a new kernel) means recompiling the kernel to create the bttv module required to run the webcam. Not that anyone actually looks at it any more I don't imagine.

I got turned down by Jinx Hackerwear as a US distributor a few days ago becuse my site wasn't in the top 100,000 sites on alexa.com. I hadn't even heard of it until they mentioned it. I think they think I'm some kind of huge company who wants to go into partnership with them. Tres amusant (sic).

18/05/2005
[17:00] I'm feeling a lot better today. This may have been something to do with the good night's sleep I got last night. Either way I was up at 07:00 this morning to get to one of our server rooms for 08:00. After some machine shuffling and RAM insertion (into machines) I was off to work. For the most part I've been preparing the recently arrived machine for brainwashing but after the initial kickstart it appears to be freezing during the Oracle 10g client installation. This is going to need some investigation. For the moment I'm working out which machines aren't going to mind getting a new kernel, updated glibc and assorted other updates that come with what looks like RHEL3 u5.

I'm unsure as to whether I'm well enough to go climbing this evening. I'll have to see how I feel when I get home. Elaine seems to be getting over her illness a bit more now. I think I may look after her a bit this evening.

17/05/2005
[13:35] Ill, filled with flu or a monster cold or something like that. Still, I'm in work because no-one else is (illness or holiday). I've helped at least diagnose some of the harder errors in the payroll application I run the machine for and stuck to my guns in the face of superior technical knowledge (I was right). I've collected the RAM I need for the major machine shuffle happening tomorrow morning (08:00!) and have my access cards and other alarm-related equipment... I think I'm just going to go home before I fall over.

16/05/2005
[17:10] I had a cracking weekend all in all. Saturday was spent looking after Elaine once I got in gear and remembered that she was actually ill and could do with some pampering. I think I made a reasonable attempt by the end of the day but 7/10 "Must try harder" for next time.

Sunday on the other hand was a full-on climbingfest spectacular. At the meeting point for 09:00 in bright sunshine I was picked up and made to feel very welcome as we drove the hour and a half to Harrison's Rocks. Initially I tried some bouldering before walking a bit further to the walls themselves. For most of the day I climbed reasonable 5a/b routes before attempting The Niblick and topping out on the 6b route next to it. This nearly finished me off for the day but I still managed some quality routes for the remainder of the day before being one of the last of the group to leave. After a barbecue at a nearby person's house we drove home, leaving me to cycle back from the pickup point and arrive on the dot of 23:00 covered in grazes and cuts.

This morning I've mainly been letting my injuries heal with plenty of relaxation even though both of my colleagues are on holiday. I've had an engineer out to replace another tape drive in the L25 here that was giving SCSI errors, learnt a whole lot more about NetBackup and Solaris and am pretty sure the old applications server has been completely supplanted by the new one I made live last week. Following the delivery of some RAM tomorrow I'll be able to up the RAM in the new box and get it into the rack in place of the old one on Wednesday morning at 08:00 and then get the old one back here and dusted down. For the moment though I'm going to go home in the rain on the one day I decided to leave my water proof at home and come down with the beginnings of a cold. Marvellous. Still, another good day all in all. All I need to do now is work out whether the new tape drive needs its firmware upgrading or not. Depending on whether my colleagues are in tomorrow I may or may not do a firmware upgrade on the thing to get it in line with the Sun-shipped one.

13/05/2005
[16:30] A much better day all round generally. Despite the fact that our L25 tape drive worked properly last night I'm still suspicious of it and its associated SCSI errors. Either way, the other backups allegedly worked without issue although I was able to confirm my thoughts on just how crap it was when it came to weekends. I've managed to keep things together today including a few emails to Sun with regard to the other backup situation. Of course it worked perfectly last night so it's not really going to look especially urgent to Sun. On the other hand I did manage to cobble together a few scripts to deal with the databases which go zipping around the network early on weekday mornings. With luck that's the last of the cruft off the old server and, pending a successful payroll cheques run on Monday, I'll be able to pop down to the server room it's in on Wednesday morning with someone from Networks, whip it out, stick some new RAM in its replacement and get that put in its place. I can then bring it back here and do cruel and unusual things to its PCI cards and various bits of firmware before making it a productive member of society as the standby server.

I went climbing again last night as I mentioned. Met a whole load of new people who varied in skill between reasonable and hard-core don't-bother-with-harness types. As a result of climbing rather hard my hands hurt for the first time since I began to climb and I'm very tired having only returned home at gone 23:30 last night. On the plus side I have an invite to go climbing this weekend in Kent which I'll be following up on Sunday. For the moment it's Friday, it's 16:30ish and I have a free dinner to look forward to. Happy weekend.

12/05/2005
[16:25] Why is it that some days loads of things go wrong? Not only did we not realise that one set of backups was trying to write to the wrong tape robot, I didn't look to see if the backups had been successful yesterday (I just changed the tapes), let alone today. I think I've fixed that by changing the scripts of the backup job to use the right robot.

Of course, while our resident NetBackup guru is away, the duplication of the backup job that it does has been failing too. We have no idea whether it's a SCSI fault, a tape robot fault, a tape reader fault or a number of specific tape faults. I've logged probably the vaguest and most nebulous fault call that Sun have probably ever received and hope they either ring back in the next ten minutes or don't call until tomorrow morning. The reason being is that I'm off climbing again this evening and need to leave dead on 17:30. I expect I'll mention something more on this tomorrow.

11/05/2005
[17:10] It's been a long, long day. I didn't sleep very much last night. Aside from going to bed quite late I woke around 05:00 this morning and just couldn't get back to sleep. Of course even though I didn't move I managed to wake Elaine up too. When the time came around I bounced up and was into work in time to check that all the DNS updates had taken effect and all the sites were accessible. They were. I'm great me.

I spent a little while then turning off all the services on the old box and hoping that I'd done everything. Andy came by to ask for some help in unracking some servers for transport and after that I spent about an hour tidying the server room and getting a whole pile of cardboard ready to recycle.

I have to wait until next week before I can do anything destructive with the old server as the payroll cheques are due to be dealt with on Monday and that'll be the final (and most important) test of the new installation. At the same time as moving the old server back here for retasking I'm hoping to rack up the new live server in its place and put in enough RAM to double what it already has to prevent even the tiny amount of swapping it's doing now.

I went to a technical seminar on patching Unix-style systems this afternoon. For me it was pretty much content-free, but it was good to get out of the office for a little while. Climbing this evening, and hopefully climbing tomorrow too if I remember my stuff and can make my way to the right place to get my lift.

10/05/2005
[18:00] Amusingly it was a bug that caused me to discover the terrible truth about the system I was to go live with tomorrow morning. One of the developers came down to complain that late last night he'd been testing his application on the machine and the Java had crashed with an out of memory error. This (I believe) is down to poor coding on his part rather than a lack of memory on the server. However it did spark me to quickly run a 'top' to see how the memory was faring. Colour me surprised to find that this machine had exactly half the amount of RAM that the current (soon to be retired) server had. A quick enquiry to Keith and yes, it had been given a RAM upgrade to deal with the pesky Java applications that had been imposed upon it. The server I was intending to go live with (the old development server) was sill languishing with the original amount. Quickly I began asking around to see if anyone in PC Support had some spare RAM of the exact type we needed. No-one did (or was willing to admit they did). This was a bit of an emergency as the DNS changes (over which we had very little control) were already in place and would go live tomorrow morning at around 01:00. I began phoning all the local PC shops in the area but with no luck due to the age and type of the RAM we needed. In desperation I opened up an old server I'd been intending to use as a Kickstart server and was amazed to see exactly the RAM I needed sitting in the slots.

As there was only one live service on the box at the present time I was able to arrange downtime, cycle over there at lunch and in the space of five minutes pop the case, ready the sticks, down the machine, insert, reboot and request a status report on the service coming up again. All systems go, only five minutes of downtime and probably no-one noticing at all. Smashing.

Lunch was particularly sweet, especially as it was paid for by my line manager who was interested enough in proceedings to come along and watch (he was in town for other stuff anyway). I bought a second-hand book from the market on the way back to work in celebration of a job done.

Currently the box is now sitting happily not even eating into swap at all, which is great news for the six apache instances (multiple child processes), five Resin serverlets (with all their child instances) and the one samba process which could all do with not swapping if at all possible thankyouverymuch.

Of course it's not all good news. Three of the applications (two pure Perl/CGI, one Java) are still spouting errors into their respective logs and I, as a neatness freak, would prefer they didn't. I've emailed the people responsible and hopefully they'll be fixed as of tomorrow.

We were going to be going for a meal this evening on that money I counted out from Phil's change sack, but that's been moved back to Friday. I'll be in dead early tomorrow to check that everything's working as it should. Tomorrow may be a long day if we go climbing in the evening. Hopefully we may be bringing along a new person, if they have time time to get things organised.

09/05/2005
[17:45] I intended to leave at 16:30 today but so much has been happening I just haven't had the time. Today I unboxed another server and got it slotted into the rack, which was no mean feat considering how many other servers are in it now. Turns out the backups were supposed to be done by my coworker this week but he's still in Turin and may be for two weeks. This is a bit worrying as one tape drive has developed a nasty fault that means it won't release its tapes and a duplication job to the offsite L25 appears to have thrown a wobbly too.

On top of all of that everyone has decided that today is the day they go ahead and tell me what they want to be done to allow the new applications server to do what they require, we got some new Sun V20z machines delivered with two disks and an unmirrored file system and one of the terminal servers locked up.

I really wanted to give blood today and now I'm going to have to wait until next Tuesday. Maybe it's a sign given how hard I pushed myself on Sunday while climbing in London. I'd probably fall off my bike on the way home afterwards.

Some of the weekend was spent relaxing although on Saturday night we went to Keith's 'P' party where everyone had to come as something beginning with the letter 'P'. Unfortunately no-one got my 'Pregnant pause' idea so I was forced to explain it a good few times. Still, it was a chance to see people I'd not seen in a while again and meet some new people who turned out to be very nice, including the work's most timid dog, Dave.

06/05/2005
[14:40] Well the Lib Dems candidates I voted for at local and national level both got in. The council here remains Conservative in the main though. I managed to stay awake until 02:30 before heading for bed. This meant that I was actually capable of getting up and going to work without killing myself on the roads.

I had an email from one of the developers working on the emailing problem with the application they wrote. While it starts off hopeful, by the end he's just as confused as I am. This does not bode well. It's Friday though, I've worked late most days this week so I'm going home at 15:00. Well, to buy a kingsized duvet and some coach tickets, but then home.

05/05/2005
[17:05] It's General Election day here in the UK (sometimes I imagine I have readers in other countries, sometimes I imagine I have readers at all) and I'm pleased to say that pretty much everyone I know has, or will be voting today. It's important that you do, if you can. Taking part in the democratic process no matter how twisted or in need of reform it is is a right that you shouldn't just fritter away.

Tired again today, probably due to some extremely fun night kiting with Cormac and Steph out on the hill last night. Once the sun went down the light sticks came out and with a little bit of thread we had passable IFOs flitting about the sky. Elaine had some flashing LEDs which were very effective. That went on until late and we were too hungry to wait for food any more. We ended up watching Desperate Housewives until midnight and then tottered to bed.

In work this morning I had to spend about ten minutes explaining a simple DNS change and am only fifty percent certain it's going to have been done correctly when the update takes place tomorrow morning at 01:00. As for the problem with the email that I've been tinkering with for a few days, I managed to run the extremely helpful TCPflow over port 25 last night and, coupled with some new logs which turned up managed to get enough information to the developers that they think they'll have a solution for me tomorrow. I'll let you know.

Other than that I've had another sign off on moving live application instance designations from one server to another so theoretically there's only three more to do! Of course once it's done I'll have to down all the services for a few minutes to move the machine into the rack from its position on the floor of a machine room. For the moment though I'm off home to watch the Election coverage and eat pizza.

04/05/2005
[17:30] All kinds of things happening at the moment. This morning I got around to doing a rebuild on a machine only to find more stuff that'd gone walkabout due to that disk failure. Cue a few hours rebuilding more stuff and ensuring that it was all in more than one place in case the same thing happens again. After another build I proclaimed it ready to use and passed it over to the developer who needed it.

My next order of business was calling MGE again. Obviously the person I needed to talk to was out for the day. I left another message. The remainder of the day was spent getting an MSN Messenger clone up and running on linux using some fiendish ssh tunneling magic. This allows me to talk to Elaine and some other people who don't seem to be ones for MUDs or IRC.

Finally I've been fighting with a Java-based application which refuses to send out email automatically. It has two email functions, one is manually activated and appears to work perfectly. The other is automated and should send out emails every morning at around 04:37. When it was using a Lotus Notes MTA the Notes logs registered an SMTP connection, and then nothing until the connection timed out. When using a Microsoft Exchange server with SMTP logging turned up to "Maximum" there was nothing at all. Our internal firewall is registering and allowing connections between the machine with the application on and the MTA being used, but there's no emails going out. I'm inclined to believe the application is opening the port and then not doing anything and eventually the connection is being torn down. Hopefully the developers will take a look tomorrow or soon after and get a handle on what's going on. They're external so it may take a little longer.

Some good news though; one of the developers has officially signed off on his application moving from the old server to the new one. One down, six to go!

Seeing as Cormac's birthday kiting thing didn't really happen due to rain stopping play, we're doing it tonight while the weather appears good and we have glow sticks to use.

03/05/2005
[16:30] Whew! All those project-related balls I threw at other people have come back to strike me in the face. The email problem I have been deal with required conversations with PC Support after some rejigging of SMTP settings, the application I restarted errored tremendously until managed to kill all the processes running under the wrong user, a server I need to reimage came up as ready to do (although I don't have time right now), a backup slot came up to use but the firewall doesn't have a ruleset to deal with it yet and I had to get my line manager to authorise a second copy of a major application being brought online (with the confusion this may cause to do with emails being sent out twice).

Other than that it's been a pretty normal day. My West Wing Season 5 and Hackers DVDs turned up and I got to use my new iPod with its Contour case. I have this thing about iPod earphones though; I'm going to have to buy another set so I don't have to detach those I have at work.

The weather, uniformly excellent during the day since Friday seems to have taken a turn for the worse and unless I go home on time today I think I'm going to get wet. Either way I'm going to go for a run this evening to try and loosen quadriceps still tightish from Sunday afternoon. Other than that I intend to subject Elaine to Hackers this evening as she's sadly lacking in geeky background. As it is I've already started her on an intensive course of Farscape.

02/05/2005
[03/05/2005 - 16:10] I can't really remember much of what happened over the weekend. I know that I cleaned and tidied most of the house, Elaine mowed the grass and I went for an absolutely monster run on Sunday afternoon which was stupendous in draining me of some of my excess energy. The good day was Monday when, as is always a good idea, we had a very short notice barbecue rather than go climbing. While I think we could have given a bit more notice and maybe rung people, I was under the impression that making the decision at 22:00 on a Sunday would have meant that most people would already have plans for the day. Apologies to those people who would have liked to have come had I actually got my arse in gear and contacted them by conventional means.

Over the weekend we had the most tremendous thunder and lightning. Apparently this didn't wake those people among us who have young children or lots of work.

So anyway, the barbecue was small, fun and tasty. We got to watch Tom (Shaun and Linda's son) energetically throw himself over beanbags, eat some of Elaine's tremendous chocolate fudge cake (her first) and talk about sperm donation laws.