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31/05/2006
[14:30] 100 Back at work briefly, and am being told to leave as I should be on holiday. I'll head off and prepare for climbing this evening, even though I don't think it's going to be the best thing for me right now given things that are happening at the moment. Still, can't let that get in the way of the activities that I enjoy. Part of me is pleased - or at least relieved - I guess, the rest of me isn't. But then this is The Way Of Things and I shouldn't have expected anything else. Countdown's begun though. I have a tangible target to aim for and something to concentrate on.

30/05/2006
[31/05/2006 14:20] Father's birthday today. In Leeds. Always a little odd to go home, especially when it's being packed up for removal to another city. The journey is bittersweet at the moment given the last time I made it. But then lots of things feel like that at the moment. The day was lovely though and the meal nice too.

29/05/2006
[23:55] Nothing happened the way I wanted over the weekend. The person I'd been hoping to meet fell down a set of slippery escalators in London and really didn't feel like doing any of the activies we'd had planned. I ended up doing other things instead. They're OK, just a bit bruised.

Today, rather than go mad thinking about things out of my control I picked up, went out and walked eighteen miles from my city to the one north as the river flows. This turned out to be a rather exciting trip as I went from bright sunshine to torrential hail and thunder and lightning storms. I was lucky enough to be about 500m away from a strike (i.e. no closer and no further away) but didn't get my camera on it in time (obviously). For about six hours I had only my company and that of some rather poignant music on my iPod which I was able to sing along to at any volume I wished.

I made a rather impressive roast pork dinner this evening with roast spring onions with fennel, cumin and paprika, roast potatoes and parsnips and some other fun stuff. I think now is bed time.

26/05/2006
[15:00] Darn, darn, darn and blast. While ensuring I didn't have any of my reheated Chinese from last night for lunch today trapped anywhere in my teeth I appear to have discovered that at least one of my lower wisdom teeth is now above the gumline. This is by way of being a Bad Thing. Not because there's any pain but because now I have to be very very careful in case it, or the other one, suffer any problems caused by missed brushing. Especially bad as I was informed a good few years ago by an orthodontist that should the blighters put in an appearance it would probably require chunks of jaw removed for them to be extracted owing to their orientation. Small chunks, but chunks nontheless. I like all my chunks; they're integral to me in a very real and physical way. Darn and botheration.

Otherwise, it's Friday. Beerfest soon (with bonus associated Andy and Andrea attendance), then Saturday and London for active things. Sunday will be a day of rest, relaxation and trying to clean the house a bit. Or maybe Monday as no-one wants to do anything with me (they all have other plans). Monday's a bank holiday (that peculiarly British thing) so no journal entry until Tuesday unless I'm really, really bored. Life is fluid at the moment, anything could happen. I certainly hope it does.

Bah, teeth!

25/05/2006
[23:55] Honest, I did write this before midnight. Today's finasl day of the project management course was tough. I used the advice I'd been given by a previous participant to ensure I didn't do too badly but was unable to communicate my reasoning to the other members of my team. It didn't really matter as we still learned lessons from what we ended up doing.

During the morning coffee break I learned that an old work colleague had died of cancer the previous day. This knocked me for six a bit for the remainder of the day, but I think I've managed to get a handle on it now.

The course finished early so I was able to get home and then out to a local bit of green by around 15:30 to get in three hours of serious poi and staff action in the sun. I've got the hang of hip reels now and am part way to some various odd shoulder reel combinations now. This is where it really starts to get interesting...

I came home via James' house where he presented me with a LONAP T-shirt. I should maybe advertise it a bit more given the quality of the merchandise. Anyway, while we're on the subject of blatant advertising, there's also The Collie Eye for people to go and take a look at. OK, it's not everyone's idea of an interesting topic, but you should set your horizons a bit further people! Damnit, learn something new! So, yes, I came home to find the house already full of people (damn that lodger). We settled in for a Thursday: session and had to put up with the food arriving two hours late and cold. Still, the films were great and I got to see some of my favourite friends and give them something to smile about which always makes me feel good. I should head to bed. Tomorrow's going to be a long day.

24/05/2006
[23:50] Spent the morning in the shortlisting meeting after running through all the CVs twice last night to make sure I hadn't missed anything with regards to who looked good and who didn't. Grading was 1 to 4 where 1 was "definitely interview", 2 was "probably interview", 3 was "probably not interview" and 4 was "burn the CV and wash ashes down the drain". I'm pleased to say only two made pile 4. At the meeting I declared my interest in those applicants who I knew and then pretty much drove the meeting from there. I listed my 1 and 2 pile people and accepted input from those who had a less technical viewpoint as well. All but one of the people I wanted to interview were accepted and I had a damned good go at getting them on the list too, but this is why there's more than one person on a shortlisting/interviewing panel.

After the meeting I took out my old assistant for a coffee nearby where I let her decompress about how things have been there since I left. I think she was very appreciative of the opportunity. As a final task before I headed into town to return to the project management course I relieved the building of two of the fairly decent but barely used speakers they'd been storing for the past two years without doing anything with them. I'd taken them down a few months before I'd left to allow an A/V fitting company to replace them. Since then and after I'd left they'd just been gathering dust. Once packed into a box I was able to (just about) cycle around town with them to where the course was being held and then home with them afterwards.

The course was again very interesting but again I was very close to falling asleep as the afternoon progressed. I really don't know why. Once it'd finished for the day I cycled home (carefully balanced) and then went climbing with friends, dropping the speakers off where I hope they'll be useful before carrying on to the wall.

I'm dead tired now so it's off to bed for me.

23/05/2006
[23:25] I've just finished going through all the CVs for my old job (the one they wouldn't let me interview for when I was leaving it so the person they got wasn't good enough). My brain aches now. Today was day two of the course and I think I must have fallen asleep twice. Not due to the content, or being particularly tired, just... for some other reason. I have no idea why. Went to a beer festival this evening. Good fun, going again on Friday too.

Oh, the weekend! Saturday was all about chilling and chatting to friends and then the Eurovision party at James' house preceded by the amusement of watching "Fathers 4 Justice" invade the National Lottery studio. Eurovision was fun but after drinking on every key change and watching Finland win I went home as I needed to be up early on Sunday. Sunday was pretty fun actually. Met a friend, went for a walk, got wet, eventually came home.

22/05/2006
[23:55] Day one of the project management course. Arrived as people were having coffee and asked people why they were there. Mentioned I was there under orders (but that I was still going to get into it) rather than by choice or any desire. Turns out one of the people having coffee was the course leader. Ooops. This evening I spent some time doing the initial meta-shortlisting for the job I'm doing interviews for before going climbing, coming back and doing some more while chatting online. I should go to bed soon.

21/05/2006
[23:35] I suddenly feel incredibly lonely tonight. Maybe that's the way of things for now.

19/05/2006
[09:50] Hello from rainy Manchester! I'm sitting in The Cube on Portland Street in a downstairs room, testing wifi in preparation for UKNOF4. There are more network administrators in here than I've ever seen together in one place so the chances that this network's going to be both bomb-proof and able to do the VPN stuff we need is probably quite high, even given the draconian port blocking that appears to be in effect. As it is I've had to tunnel all of my IRC sessions over SSH just to get them out of the room.

After leaving work yesterday I dashed home, got some stuff packed (including a sleeping bag and rollmat before James arrived and we sped off onto the motorway and up to Manchester. Traveling the M6 Toll was amusing. Just us, some expensive cars and a very, very clean road.

Once we'd established where we needed to be and deposited the equipment in a store room James went to relax in his hotel room and I took a rather shocked tour of Manchester and environs. Everything has changed. Yet it's still the same in places. Kind of. Suffice it to say "it's the same room but everything's different." I ended up visiting my old secondary school which just happened to be having an open evening. After wandering the corridors in a kind of dream I ran into one of my old teachers who recognised me. What is it with teachers and remembering people from fourteen years ago? Weird.

So anyway, once I'd caught up on everything I walked the entire length of Oxford Road to Hardy's Well where I met the people who were being kind enough to offer me a bed for the night. After a quick pint we adjourned to a curry house for a rather spiffing meal. By this time, after having been up dead early that morning I was ready to crash so we headed back and unconsiousness descended. Turns out I didn't need the sleeping bag and rollmat making my laptop bag bulge after all. Still, be prepared.

This morning has been mainly about getting into town on the bus, grabbing some food and then helping set up the wireless network here. As I look around now I can see about twenty people, all heads down in their laptops, associating with the access point and making sure their respective networks are surviving without them there for the day. Things are about to start so I better head off for the moment.

[14:35] Lunch was pretty good. Apparently ordered for 100 people we're only about 30 at most so there was tons left over. Not quite sure about the pork pie segments (Mmmm, pie) but the chocolate cake and fresh melon was rather spectacular. Hmmm, there are some people looking at the exhibition connected to the magazine Found who're earwigging through the open partition to see what we're doing in here. I think the impenetrable network talk and everyone working on laptops probably looks quite scary. Or at least terribly geeky. To be honest it's a really interesting day and I'm learning a lot. Also I'm sitting next to someone with a Canon 10D and noticing just how satisfying the shutter sound is, even compared to the 350D's.

[16:45] OK, meeting's over. Time for some beers and then a long drive home. Empty house awaits. Wonder if anyone'll be free to chill out with for the evening or tomorrow.

18/05/2006
[11:40] Staying late last night meant that there was far less to do this morning. Which was nice. What it also meant is that I didn't get to the gym until about 19:20. I decided I'd do some running instead and started up a treadmill and watched the pre-match buildup for the UEFA Cup. Before I knew it the first half was on and I became engrossed in the game. A little while before half time I looked down at the treadmill and I'd run just over ten kilometres. So I stopped and went home, quite tired. Cat arrived just as I was getting out of the shower so we settled down to have some flapjack and stuff and watched a couple of episodes of NCIS before heading to our respective beds.

I went out like a light but was awake around 05:40 so listened to the radio for a bit before getting up and coming into work to start powering down and deracking kit. The networks guy arrived soon after me and we got things shifted around, being caught only twice by a rack kit (for a V120) not being big enough to fit the replacement rack and by the shelves from the old rack not fitting either. I solved both these issues by firstly resting the V120 on top of its D1000 and by using an empty D1000 rack kit as a shelf at the bottom of the rack to put things on. Not the neatest solution but the rack in place now has proper power distribution and management, network cable routing and screw holes rather than square ones which is perfect for all the Sun kit we'll be putting in it shortly.

I've been dashing about like a blue-arsed fly since we finished powering everything up to make sure things are set for me to leave at 12:00. I'm off up north to UKNOF4 this afternoon to help set up the networking tonight and then attend the actual thing tomorrow. With connectivity I might even do some journal updates from the thing if there's time. For now though I've got a few dozen more things to do and then I'm off.

Also, I'm on a project management course for a few days next week so journal updates will probably happen in the evening. Everyone have a lovely Friday and weekend. Probably see you tomorrow.

17/05/2006
[13:00] I'm freakishly tired this afternoon. Oddly the day seems to be progressing at a fine old pace so unless there are any local minima in the passing of time this afternoon the day will soon be over. I think a lot of the problem comes from the rather stonking climbs I did last night. Not only did I nearly do the roof (stupid climb, no real way to end it. James verified from the other direction) and cracked the rear wall arete on features only, twice, but also soloed a rather dubious full-height bouldering problem that was stumping some of the locals. That probably wasn't the smartest thing I've done but it was a pleasure to see how much I'm improving after what seems like something of a hiatus in my progression. So, yes, yay!

Coming home at gone 22:00 via Tesco and only then starting dinner, followed by watching most of Flatliners also probably had something to do with the state my brain this morning. Desipte that I've been able to run some fibre from one of the new machines to the SAN (plastic piping, floor pulled up, some stupid right angle bends), do some analysis of where the hell we're going to get 11U of rack space from and started thinking about adding some stuff to the upgraded TWiki. I think I'm happy about the upgrade; everything seems to be working as I think it should.

Unless the weather perks up tremendously I won't be going to do poi in the park this evening but instead will be going to the gym again as I can't go on Friday. In a small but important piece of late-breaking news, an envelope just handed to me contains two very kindly crocheted covers for the wicks of my fire staff. My grateful thanks to Kylie for her sterling work. Now I just need to wait for my injuries to heal and an opportunity to spin and I'll be sorted. The covers are especially useful when you're as useless as me at spinning a staff and drop it often.

Otherwise today is as normal as things ever get around here. I'm getting on with life, realising that however odd things might be for me, there's always someone who has it odder. I encountered a case in point recently. It made me remember that I should continue to help everyone around me not just because I gain tremendous enjoyment from doing things for other people, but because everyone could do with a little bit of support sometimes. Even if I'm not the person to whom the central issues can be related to, I can still take some of the load off elsewhere, if only for a while.

[19:00] Drat, how did it get so late? I thought I'd have to skip the gym but it's open until 23:00. Damned useful. Most of the afternoon has been spent preparing to swap two racks over tomorrow morning. I've had the opportunity to be an honest to goodness cable monkey for the first time in a long time. Sometimes I really think I'm in the wrong line of work; I love cabling and VLAN setup and disconnecting live services for a few seconds and seeing if anyone complains (one of these is untrue). Anyway, in early tomorrow morning to do what needs to be done, so time to go and gym for a bit and then relax for the evening.

16/05/2006
[10:00] Got knocked off my bike last night on the way to the gym by a silly woman on a bike talking on her mobile phone and wandering from side to side as she rolled. I ache quite a lot in places today. In good news, my new eye protection works wonderfully (this morning) and aside from some nose rests which need a bit of adjustment they keep everything away from my eyes. I like my eyes, my mother gave them to me and I've seen a lot of beautiful things with them, especially in the last few years. I also plan on seeing a lot more. So, yes, DArcs are good, woot.

Poo, I'm going to miss a festival in September. I was really hoping to go to that but I didn't know the date until recently. Ah well. Otherwise today is currently getting better as it goes along. Fiddling with printers (boo!), using non-GUI interfaces on a computer (yay!).

[13:45] The package containing the details of all the people applying for my old job has arrived. This is where it starts to get complicated. I'm going to have to start going through these details with a fine-toothed comb. There's all kinds of criteria I need to consider (and many are different to the ones the others in the interview panel think they're looking for) and it's going to take some real thought to make sure the people I consider capable of doing the job get to interview. Couple of evenings' work, I think.

Bloody hell. Our team leader has brought in doughnuts. Not content with causing the rapid onset of diabetes through the forced consumption of various kinds of M&S Minibites on a daily basis he's now moved on to bread-based products capable of pushing a large Shire horse into a sugar-induced coma. Ah well at least I type faster for a while. Lunch, then poi, then doughnuts, then crazed laughter, then work.

15/05/2006
[09:40] A weekend of highs and lows. Friday evening was most excellent as I met up with Guy and a friend of his for some poi practice on the grass. A number of extremely attractive young ladies made our acquaintances and requested poi lessons throughout the evening. That made the already enjoyable sunny evening even more pleasant. Alas, the meetings were brief and we resorted to our individual iPods (swapping for the duration to get a taste of the other's musical poi-spinning leanings) eventually, until the sun went down.

Saturday was a bit of a wash out if I'm honest. I went into London early to climb/boulder for the day and had one of my worst sessions ever. I never really got into the frame of mind to do my best and with no-one else there to climb with and bounce conversation off I eventually left around 13:00. I'd arranged to meet someone in what I'd mistakenly remembered as Hyde Park (which is where I went) but in fact should have been St James' Park. This lead to hours being wasted, especially when one person's mobile phone began to die. As luck would have it we actually did meet, but it was so late that the poi and staff spinning we'd planned to do was mostly curtailed. We had some food and I came home. On the plus side I did manage to master hip reels, although they do need a lot more work. Hurrah!

Sunday was my only real opportunity to sleep in. I managed to, just. I was up by 09:40 and doing washing, etc. In an effort to chill for the day I put on a ton of NCIS episodes and settled down on my lovely sofa to laugh at what is a really excellent show. Most of the day passed in a relaxing manner thusly, broken in the nicest possible way by a friend coming over for beer and Top Gear and wedding discussions (I'm going to be one of the photographers!) at about the same time as Cat came home. After that I think I just puttered around for a bit and then went to bed.

This morning I was still tired (probably something to do with going to bed at midnight). However I was able to be up and about in time to be in work and dealing with the minor issues that crop up over every weekend. I'm hoping that this week is going to be good for me. I'm certainly going to be giving it my all. I'm fairly certain something's happened which is going to make my life a bit less complex. Or at least a bit more straightforward. If it hasn't, it probably will soon anyway. What I want more than anything at the moment is some more balmy evenings, some grass and some fellow poi and staff proponents to learn from and now and again teach.

[16:05] Time has been remarkably flexible today. At points it has sped past in huge compressed bursts (as I've worked on getting our ancient TWiki software to a point where we can do an actual update to the latest version) and at others it has appeared to elongate and each minute has taken longer than a minute to pass. I'm not going to get into a semantic argument about the fact that time may or may not be immutable and whether, if time is able to be manipulated, then a second takes as long as a second takes given your effect on it and your frame of reference. Or whether for an external observer in their own time frame of reference those within the effect's range... no, I said I'm not to get into that.

Anyway, the day has been odd.

Today's good thing is that I have had my new M:Vision DArcs delivered, which is great. No more bugs in my eyes or wind curling around the edges of my shades and making me want to blink my suddenly dry contact lenses out while cycling. No climbing this evening, so gym instead.

12/05/2006
[11:00] OK, Friday evening thing postponed. Feeling less certain about the Sunday thing too. Not sure. Anyway, the Saturday of climbing and meeting people for poi and staff stuff should at least go ahead without a hitch. Hurrah.

Not sure what to do today at work. Probably some more racking for a start, followed by some documentation and prodding people for power failure scripts. May end up going to the gym after all too as I'm not doing the other thing. Would be nice to do something sociable this evening but I'm not sure who's free.

[13:35] Whee! One of the 3510 storage arrays is completely futzed. Both of the mounting brackets are completely bent to buggery, some bits have actually sheared off them completely and the entire chassis is out of true. I have no idea what kind of shocks it's been subjected to but there's no way in hell I'm racking the thing (if such a thing were possible) and I'd never be happy with the disks. D.O.A. Completely. Of course, the container wasn't damaged at all, so this has happened before boxing for shipping. Who'd box something so obviously borked?

[16:10] It's a lovely evening so I'm going to go out with a well-charged iPod and do some poi and staff work somewhere green and pleasant. Happy Friday.

11/05/2006
[12:45] Went to one of the grassy areas of town after work (and mowing the lawn at home) with a blanket, my poi, my staff and some drink. Spent some time doing some basic moves before two people turned up who asked to join me. Turns out they'd just met via a spinning web site and were looking for somewhere to practice. We were soon joined by a further friend of one of them and soon James and then Elaine turning up too. Soon we were all spinning and I was learning some new poi moves and having some proper staff tuition for the first time. Frankly it was a rather excellent evening and I was sad when it had to end due to darkness and low temperature. Cormac arrived shortly before we left so James, Elaine, Cormac and I decamped to a nearby chinese for a nice meal before we all departed for our respective homes. I ended up on my laptop in bed for most of the night talking to people before switching off and going to sleep.

This morning I was up bright and early and in work to take stock of some of the many web servers we have scattered about the network and to try and consolidate some of the monitoring of them for Big Brother. I think that went fairly well. At 11:00 (when I was going to put up the lion's share of this entry the entire Unix Support team and the Ops Manager went into an office and had a long meeting about what exactly we all are doing for the next three months in terms of server builds, shifting of kit and telling people to sod off as we're too damned busy. Just got out about five minutes ago.

[17:00] So it turns out that racking a Sun V890 is, like, a whole lot of faff. No, seriously. Despite being excellent bits of kit I'm not sure I can be bothered to rack up another, ever. Not that we have any others at the moment, just some V490 and V240 ones still to go. I'm quite tired now, especially after having done poi all lunch time in the sun. Thursday gathering thingy tonight. Not expecting everyone to come.

I think I have some place to be on Friday night, Saturday night and, if it seems like a good idea, Sunday night. This is a highly-prized rarity and should be cherished. It's going to be a tiring weekend though.

10/05/2006
[10:20] My legs ache. So do a few other muscles. Looks like going to the gym, running about eight miles and doing poi for forty minutes is enough to really tire me out of an evening. It also filled up the end of the day rather well and left me with only an omlette to cook and a choice between Alien: Director's Cut and Mission: Impossible II to watch. I slept rather well I think. But not before giving some hopefully reasonable advice to someone on their CV tuning.

Got in this morning to find that one of the machines we'd been talking about yesterday peripherally in the meeting had gone down with an AACRAID/SCSI/kernel panic thingy. It's not the first time for this box. But it is the first in a long, long time. I'll be popping in to town around lunch to get a watch strap changed and to reboot the box. Should be fairly relaxing to be honest. Time to chill out a bit.

The rack kit for one of our new V490 servers began to collapse last night. We've swapped it for one from another (boxed) machine and a Sun guy is coming in to look at the failure mode and give us another one (eventually). The 3510 boxes have arrived too, so I think the order is complete. Work continues.

[13:35] Stupid. When will I learn that breaking my own rules just makes me feel bad? Do the right thing and eventually it'll become easier. Do the wrong thing and time and again I'll end up just feeling worse. So here's a plan; don't do it any more.

On the plus side I was able to reboot the panicked box remotely. But then exim had some kind of major strop which took a while to settle down. Then the RAID battery announced it was feeling kind of low, which is fairly critical as far as OMSA is concerned. I've asked for a replacement. Going into town soon anyway to get out of the office.

[16:20] Watch strap replaced with old one from previous watch. Wrist now feels 'right' again for the first time in years. The last watch didn't survive a particularly torrential downpour and I never got around to finding one to replace it until now. While I was in town I was called by work to ask if I could go into the server room there and investigate some odd noises. Finding nothing out of the ordinary when I arrived there I got to chat to the extremely lovely women in our press office (and incidently give them my number) so they could call me if the noise came back again. It just did, and it sounds like an air-conditioning unit being unhappy so I've called a maintenance person to track it down.

09/05/2006
[07:45] One set of Zeus load balancers upgraded. I was in work for 07:00 this morning and boy was that fun. Luckily the upgrade process was pretty flawless and really took no time at all but the tar'ing up of the old version (for safety and rollback options) took forever on the active box due to there being over 11GB of logs to deal with. We really should look at that. Anyway, everything else went swimmingly.

Climbing last night was fairly good. Nothing spectacular although I did do the rear wall arete on features-only which is something that's been bugging me since the last time I went there. Oh and the smallest member of our regular Monday climbing group is now so excited to be climbing high that she's begun banging her head on the ceiling in an effort to go higher. We'll see what happens when she next goes to the other climbing wall with us.

I've got a meeting today which may end up providing me with some new work (in addition to all the other stuff I'm doing at the moment). This could be the rebuilding of the of the web guys' RHEL 3 boxen as RHEL 4. I don't think they need it as they're basically after better/newer versions of MySQL than come with 3. I can give them that from (non-RedHat) RPMs if they really can't get on with the version they have. My new team leader is something of a MySQL expert so he should be able to tell them they're talking out of their hats. The Ops Manager is coming to the meeting and is determined that the web guys don't get me to do anything particularly time-consuming as the project which is actually paying my salary for the moment is about to kick into high gear (apparently). Much of the work will revolve around the new V490 and V890 boxen which arrived in a massive multi-ton delivery yesterday. Along with a new rack for it and the imperial butt-load of V240 machines which arrived last week.

Hopefully one of my new toys will arrive today.

[14:05] Yay! It arrived. Happy lunchtime happenings. Now I have two skinned knuckles.

[16:55] Argh. That was A Meeting. Now my brain hurts and I want to go home and forget about MySQL and RHEL and replication and web development and things that have been allowed to grow 'organically' which are now a medusa-like mess of push and pull copying and dumping and restoring and synchronising and stuff that not even the web developers know one hundred percent.

I just want to sweep it all off the table, take a spare server, set up a database layer to the whole thing and provide some kind or resiliant multimaster thing with automatic two-way failover via the load balancers. Is that too much to ask. Oh, and not to have to move to an unsupported version of MySQL. But you can't have everything.

08/05/2006
[12:00] "Those who do not learn from their mistakes are doomed to repeat them." That would be me then. I've repeated one of my worst ones. As a result I've made changes which I hope will stop any further problems. I can only hope that I've not caused too much damage to one of the most precious things it's ever been my fortune to be given.

The weekend was fairly full. Most of the day I spent in town on some of the grassy parts practicing poi in front of the general public to get over any residual fear of performing in public. It really isn't that hard because I seem to go into some kind of meditative state/trance when I'm really in the groove. I've got the five-beat weave down now, also the alternative butterfly and a mexican wave variation. The number of people who came up to me to tell me they either did poi or some other circus art or knew of a group that I could join was amazing. Poi're like colourful spinning people-magnets.

There was a wedding ceilidh on the Saturday evening which allowed me to find out I was actually a pretty good dancer when it came to going up and down rows of people and linking arms. A rather attractive lady actually asked me to dance (via some old woman, how quaint), which was something of a shock. She wasn't really my type and headed off long before the evening was over too. Of course I messed up at the end of the night but what is a life without making some honking huge mistake every once in a while?

Sunday there was a barbeque at Keith's house. I got the fire started while hiding under an umbrella from the rain before managing to teach not one but two people the three beat weave from almost a standing start. If nothing else I know I'm a good teacher whether it be climbing, IT skills or poi. Turns out the circus arts group I'd been told about was already known about by one of my 'students' for the afternoon. I'll not go for a bit. I want to hone my skills and get some more tricks under my belt before I show other proponents and make a total fool of myself. Maybe pick up some other toys too. Perhaps when they start having sessions outdoors.

I've got two small new toys on order. I wouldn't normally have spent any money but a cheque arrived this morning as settlement for some money back insurance I took out on my television back in 2001. The company providing the insurance went under in 2004 and all hope was lost until recently. I've spent a little of the money on something to keep me smiling, busy and concentrated. The rest is getting ploughed back into savings as quickly as possible. Hopefully one of them should arrive before the end of the week so I can take it with me when I go to visit a friend.

Note to self: must create a playlist for spinning poi consisting mainly of Prodigy, Propellorheads and assorted other tracks from the more beat-laden side of my MP3 collection.

[15:15] Turns out my grandmother has had another stroke today and is going into a nursing home for the first time in her life. She's a strong and independent woman who I greatly respect, especially considering the huge amount of new skills she's continued to pick up in her later years. I have no idea how losing her independence is going to affect her but my thoughts are with her.

[16:45] Before heading off for climbing this evening I've been invited around to someone's house very near mine to observe (and later come back and get shots of) a pair of nesting sparrowhawks. They'll be my first birds of prey I'll have shots of (I hope), which'll be cool.

05/05/2006
[08:50] Woke early this morning. Odd things in my head. I find when I'm not operating happily I either get in very early or slightly 'late' (not that I can really be late) for work. Today was a early day. I was so early I was up before Cat (lodger) and out of the house before she was out of her room. The weather is lovely here at the moment and I want to share the fun of the forthcoming summer with people. Maybe...

[12:20] I just ran out of steam basically. Couldn't think of anything else to say. Probably just comedown from yesterday. Brain's all of a mess at the moment; not really sure what's happening anywhere with anything. I've got questions and no way to ask them and already some answers I'm not sure I want. Also some of the web team want me to reinstall a ton of their boxen with RHEL 4, but that's by the by. I think I need to go to lunch.

[14:50] Turns out I'm probably not going to London tomorrow after all. I think I'll stay home for the day, do some washing, mow the lawn (unless someone else wants to do it) and maybe have a think about the T-shirt design I'm doing. There's a ceilidh in the evening I've been planning on going to and frankly I've not had a weekend at home in a while. There's climbing to consider though, so I'm a bit stuck.

04/05/2006
[05/05/2006 - 07:45] Took the coach to Geoff and Shelly's last night with Keith after work. That was fun. We spent a lot of the time talking about green issues and generally discussing the wider implications of some of the things that might help the world. This was brought to a halt at the driver changeover stop where we ended up talking to a twenty year old woman with an amusing line in sexual ethics. Keith, of course, was in his element.

We went out for a sit-down Chinese meal once everyone staying over for the night had arrived at the station and been picked up by Geoff before watching Flash Gordon ("Gordon's alive!") and being thoroughly mystified by the last fifteen minutes of a film called 'Big Trouble'. Some of the mystification was possibly due to the shot or so of Absinth we had before commencing the film viewing.

Getting up in the morning wasn't terribly hard considering the night before and after some car shuffles we were on the way to Alton Towers. Given the start time of 07:30 we arrived at the place for just after 09:30 and were looking for rides to go on by around 10:00. The place was nearly empty so there were lots to choose from. At this point I should mention that before today I'd never been on a rollercoaster before in my life and was not inconsiderally worried how my head and stomach might react. Knowing this it was decided we'd go on Spinball Whizzer first. An apparently tame ride near the entrance. Well to me it was really quite an experience and both better and worse than I'd been expecting. I spent most of the time staring down and clenching as many muscles as I could. This is what probably started my head aching gently. In the end I survived the experience so taking this as encouragement the rest of the group dragged me onwards. To cut a long story short we progressed from Spinball Whizzer to Air (amazing ride once you just relax and pretend you're in Top Gun) to Nemesis (oddly easy once you stop fighting (in a sense) what's happening) twice, then Rita Queen of Speed (nuts, and tons of fun) and, after a bit of food and some other less headlining rides, Oblivion (lots of anticipation, some shock, overall enjoyment). Of course then we did everything in reverse with the notable events of the second go on Rita causing my sunglasses to come off on a negative G corner and someone five rows back snagged them out of the air and giving them back to me when we finished and going on Air multiple times in a row owing to pretty much every ride in the park being either a ten minute queue or less all day. All in all a pretty bloody excellent day all round and I appear to have overcome my fear of rollercoasters somewhat comprehensively.

We drove home again with my close to sleeping from adrenalin withdrawal and I was dropped off at the station to get my coach home. I'd been expecting to wait for the 20:40 arrival so was going for a short walk when, twenty minutes late, the 19:20 arrived with a driver determined to make up the time. This was excellent as it got me back to town an hour before I'd been expecting to and hence I was able to pop in to James' house to pick up Keith's back (left there last weekend) for him to collect from me at some point. I didn't stay long at James' (just time enough to be offered some duck and see a new hair cut) before heading home and passing out on my bed.

One excellent day out with some great friends and some wonderful new experiences all of my very own.

03/05/2006
[16:20] Whee, our load balancers are semi-futzed. There's some kind of problem such that the new traffic IP and associated stuff we brought up last night is causing some kind of problem which is making one of the other load balanced services die on its arse at random intervals. I've lodged a support issue with Zeus and things are in progress. The current betting here is that a software upgrade is on the cards for the load balancers and things are going to be a little strange for a while afterwards while we sort out the traffic script stuff which'll have been superceded by additional functionality in the new release.

We had some new kit turn up this morning so have been unpacking boxen all morning and the temporary contractor has been moving disks and RAM around for most of the day and looks rather knackered. The big iron isn't even here yet.

It's been a quiet day otherwise. I've been feeling a bit more settled in my head for the most part but now and again there's been that old feeling of missing something. I read through some various old, old Livejournal entries (2004 vintage, not just mine) and realised just how much things have changed... and how some aspects have just stayed the same. Both sides of that equation keep me hopeful in the future and confident that things will eventually improve for myself and those I care about. Or if not improve, change once again in a way that creates the spontaneous smiles again that I used to have when my mind drifted.

As mentioned previously, I won't be around tomorrow. But then again, who actually reads this thing every day anyway?

02/05/2006
[11:40] Our new team leader started this morning. I made a real effort to get in early and make sure everything was OK. It was anyway. Apparently the new shelf for the NetApp arrived last week (I had no idea). While the Ops Manger was showing the new guy around (who may or may not be reading this, hi there) Chris and I racked up the thing. I assume we'll turn it on some time this afternoon or in the next day or so. In the meantime I'm getting back up to speed on things (amazing how a three day weekend can throw you), preparing to move all remaining externally facing web sites to a load-balanced environment (although it's failover, not balancing) and working what to tell the new team leader when we all go to the pub at lunch time. I really should talk to the Ops Manager about getting a third license for the third Sun V20z we're running Zeus on.

[16:30] I've finally managed to install a Solaris 10 patch that's been balking for the last few days. Bloody 118844-30 kernel patch for x86_64 and its buggy prepatch script. Still, installed now. No joy on whether we'll get another Zeus license or not as they're uberexpensive. Still, plenty to be getting on with otherwise. Off to climbing this evening as I can't go tomorrow owing to heading to Milton Keynes for birthday celebrations and so forth. I'll be back late on Thursday night, I hope.

01/05/2006
[02/05/2006 - 11:20] Another one of those ultra-filled weekends of fun that I have every so often. Having today off was a much-needed bonus. Friday ended very, very well with a rather good meal of my own creation and about ten episodes of Scrubs back to back interspersed with the ocassional Family Guy to change the timbre of the laughter. The company was excellent too, which always helps. Ended up going to bed very late but extremely happy. Waking up on the Saturday morning was a gradual affair and also very pleasant. Breakfast didn't happen till well gone eleven o'clock and there was then more Scrubs to watch and laughter had. This meant that the trip to the beach to go powerkiting was missed, but instead I got to go and help Cat set up for her birthday party at James' house.

By the time I'd dragged myself over there there were a few other people already doing things. I ended up doing some indoor poi demonstrations before other people arrived and we all chilled and drank the bright orange (and extremely alcoholic) punch. The party was good. I don't remember much except staying up until about five in the morning watching DVDs and then sleeping the morning away until around nine and not feeling too bad when I woke. This was probably helped by the bacon sarnie and tea I was handed. As people headed home and the remaining people tided the flat up again a plan was hatched to go flying for the afternoon with James.

James headed off to get recertified and I went home to clean up and put some washing on, etc. after being picked up to go to the local airport we found that James was only just getting wheels up so those of us who were taking the flight got to sit in the sun for a while. The flight itself was a whole ton of fun. I got to sit in the front on the way to our destination (Skegness, don't ask) and do some fairly basic manoeuvres as well as take a heap of photographs with the new 4GB CompactFlash card all the friends who came on the Spain trip had bought me. Thanks guys!

Landing in Skegness was fun as it's a grass runway with some humps and bumps. We walked to the beach, had a look around and then walked back to the plane and flew home again. Flawless flights both ways and my first trip in a light aircraft ever. Must do it again some time.

Sunday evening is a bit of a blur. I think we just slobbed around for a bit. I don't even remember what I had for dinner, if I had anything at all. I think I ended up chatting to someone for most of the evening online and then went to bed. Oh no, I remember, a few people came back to my place and we chatted for a while and watched Domino (odd film) as we munched through left-over party food. I went to bed and left my new lodger talking until the others left and she went to bed for the first time in her new room.

In the morning she headed out to meet Keith in town and do stuff and I finally got around to tidying her room, getting the chest of drawers emptied and cleaned, the futon moved around, the floor vacuumed, a bedside table in place (with lamp) and the wardrobe from the garage emptied and ready to be carried upstairs. That had to wait until Keith came back with Cat and we could manhandle it through the house and into her room. My food for the day consisted of eight rashers of very nice bacon in two sandwiches. Much of the time I just chilled on the sofa and talked to someone online (not yesterday, I got mixed up). Keith and I introduced Cat to the film Grosse Pointe Blank in the evening as she'd not seen it for some odd reason.