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November's Journal
January's Journal

[13:00] Christmas Christmas Christmas! Smoothie in bed for breakfast (and the something a bit more filling before work) and a morning of doing nothing but watching Quicktime film trailers and playing Raiden in Flash format. I'm off home to see what kind of triumph Kris has created with the Christmas tree (although she's already sent me photos of it, ah the wonders of the digital age) and then go to Tesco for precisely four things (maybe five). After that it's time to kick back and relax (aside from the hard work of making Christmas food).

I may or may not make some entries over the festive period, we'll have to see. Otherwise I'll see you in the new year. Have a good one.

[16:30] I'm feeling a lot brighter and more cheerful today. Which is pretty brilliant. Probably something to do with that is the fantastic meal I had at Loch Fyne with to very pretty girls (one of them being Kris) last night. That and putting the tree up finally (although the decorations still need to go on) with all of the lights still working after about four years sitting in the loft. Oh yes, and Kris continues to be awesome, cooking some rather lovely cookies and banbury tarts (both of which, we've agreed, taste better for a night in a Tupperware box). Oh, and Kris cycled over to have a burrito (or in her case a salad) with me at lunch time before going for her gym induction (at my gym, hurrah) which also went pretty well too.

Oh, I went to the shops to buy one last present for Kris last night. I should remember to wrap it so it can go under the tree with everything else once I'm back from the gym this evening and we've eaten and decorated the tree and had a drink and other good things.

Right now life is rather good, other than the ache in my hip from the 6km I tried to run a little more gently than normal yesterday. I think I'm going to have to lay off the running for significantly longer than I thought. Oh well, back tomorrow, but not for too long...

[16:25] Whee! Kris is here! She arrived late on Friday night and I met her at the coach stop with real live mistletoe. She was quite appreciative. Since then we've done the last of the Christmas shopping (aside from a few perishables), already made some lovely meals and begun to get sleeping patterns sorted. I can envisage myself really starting to get up earlier in the next few weeks and not by accident due to jetlag too.

With a lot of people on holiday today, tomorrow and Wednesday there's every chance I won't be doing anything particularly interesting this week at work, but it means Kris can do stuff at home and I save vacation days for days with more sunlight in the warmer part of the year.

I'm taking Kris and Kate to dinner this evening (their first meeting) which should be excellent fun, and then (or before that) Kris and I will be putting the tree up, decorating it and putting the presents beneath!

[12:25] Kris arrives in eight hours! I can't wait! Although I have to, obviously.

I cycled into town this morning to get a new battery for my watch. It would been free but I couldn't find my warranty information. Stupid. Anyway, while hanging around waiting for the battery to be put in I happened to notice that La Senza and the Apple Store were right next to each other. That was a heady combination and if I hadn't already bought lots of things for Kris my debit card might have melted slightly in the forty minutes I had to wait. As it was I escaped with only a mild graze for the battery and cycled to work via Cormac's workplace to pick up an installation DVD for Kate (who's coming over to have dinner with Kris and I on Monday evening).

All these shenannigans have meant that my working day has run from 10:10 to 12:30. I'm now off to the pub for the work Christmas lunch and then home to prepare the house and do lots and lots of present wrapping before Kris arrives (hopefully) on the 21:15 coach from the airport!

Then Christmas can really start!

[12:10] Kris is coming home one day (24 hours) early! She's coming home tomorrow! That's brilliant! It hasn't really sunk in yet as I've been gearing myself up to it always always being the 20th of December when I'd be going to meet her. I'm sure with a few more hours to get used to the idea I'll get it through my head and be even more thrilled than I already am. The only 'down' side is that if I want everything wrapped before she arrives I only have tonight (a Thursday, the Christmas Thursday in fact) and some of tomorrow night before she's here.

Not that I think it's a terribly bad swap; Kris here early for having to rush about and get the house ready and things I'd planned to do on Saturday done tomorrow instead.

[16:45] More things achieved today. Every single one of my RHEL servers is fully updated now... although many of them could do with a reboot into the most recent kernel. I've replied to a lot of emails, firmware updated three more servers, tried to organise this evening and bounced about a bit because of Kris arriving (in 28 hours). I don't care that this Christmas Thursday is going to have a low attendance and half the people are going to leave part way through (but then come back), no I don't care at all because I have free mince pies and will be getting a bottle or two of pre-mulled wine on the way home and not caring if no-one turns up at all. I'm that happy. I doubt much work will go on tomorrow now I think about it given that we're only in for the morning and then the Christmas lunch is 2 minutes walk from my house and no-one is expected to go back to work afterwards. It means I can really make a dent on my present wrapping and housework.

[17:00] Three days until Kris comes home. I'm starting to allow myself to be a little bit more excited about it now. We spoke today and it was hard not to bounce around in my chair a little as I felt some of the distance between us fade away somewhat in the knowledge that I'd get to learn who she was and how she behaves in person again very soon. Each time we've been apart there's the feeling that every new meeting will be a chance to rediscover each other from almost the start again. Yet with the sure knowledge and closeness of having known and experienced each other before. I just have to hold on to that wonderful feeling for a few more days (or 76 hours if you prefer) and it'll be so.

Anyway, in the meantime there have been machines to update with OS and firmware fixes (which have gone swimmingly), a buffet to be invited to vacuum up leftover food from (of which there was masses) and an unfortunate lack of climbing to be peeved about seeing as today was the first Wednesday in a while I was free to go. I'd even bought a new chalk ball and T-shirt especially. I have decided to go to the boathouse instead and do a 45 minute ergo session so that I don't feel too bad about the amount of exercise I've done this week. After that I can go home, have some food, wrap some Christmas presents in front of (downloaded) television programmes and chill out for the evening. I slept quite well last night... I think, which is good. Roll on the same tonight.

[16:10] I've been away for a long weekend with my family in the Lake District. Before I get onto the good stuff I should mention that wandering around Keswick brought back some very mixed emotions for me considering the last time I was there was when I cycled across the country on the Rievers Route. Cue being a little down and stuff.

Anyway, what happened was that it was the weekend of my parents' ruby wedding anniversary so my brother and I booked a nice little house/cottage in Thornthwaite just outside of Keswick and after I'd taken the train up to Manchester we all drove the hour and three quarters up there (with my dad as a passenger, rather than the driver). For the whole weekend the most my parents did in the house was pour the tea or wine/sherry. All the cooking, washing up and houseworky kinds of thing were my brother and my domain. Obviously it rained for much of the time we were there but we had plenty of time to chat, catch up, think about what'd happened over the last forty years and do some walking in some of the fabulous countryside the Lakes have to offer. It even didn't rain the whole time we were out walking near Derwent Water, which was something of a minor miracle.

Of course, my brother did most of the cooking (he's brilliant) and I did most of the washing up (I'm pretty damned good at that) but there were also plenty of photographs, I still got to do my morning exercises and still had some really bad night's sleep. The journeys to and from the house were speedy and without any traffic (apart from a tiny bit at the beginning on the way there) and the train journeys on practically empty trains except when it came to the shorter legs where as per usual it was standing room only. A rather significant bit of failure was when the doors opened at the last station before terminus. People began to get off. While there were still people making their way off the train the doors beeped and then closed, stopping those people who still wanted to from getting off. They had to ride all the way to the last/my stop. There must have been twelve people in my carriage alone who were Most Pissed Off.

I've sent all the photos I took over the weekend to my brother. He'll do something nice with them and potentially get it to the parents for Christmas (which they're spending with him). That should be lovely.

Getting home last night was annoying as once I was back at the station I had to wait about an hour before my bus came (even though about eight other buses for different routes went by, an number being for the same route). Still, at home I was able to put a wash on, make the bed, have some dinner, watch some television, catch up on my email and make a dinner date. All before bed. Oh, and I got to hide all the presents I brought home from the North so Kris can't find them when she gets home.

I was in work for 07:00 this morning to patch and firmware upgrade a few Xen and physical boxes before leaving to go to the dentist for 09:30. Back at work I've been doing Rails updates (learning the difference between a gem and a plugin for a start), eating burrito and chatting with a lovely Kris. I think for the last hour of the day or so I will chill.

[17:05] Nine days until Kris comes back. Last night I went to Tesco and got a whole lot more Christmas food. Specifically freezer food, including The Duck. It looks like it may be a wonderful bit of food, once it's cooked. There's a good chance that it may be brilliant.

I had the worst night's sleep in a long time last night. Which probably contributed to my general feeling of Down today. Luckily Kris was on hand - twice - to make me feel happier about things, bless her little cotton socks. I put it down to eating at strange times, weird dietary mixes and probably just being a bit too stressed about this and that. It's a good thing I'm sure it'll all sort itself out eventually.

Had a bit of a weird experience with one of the many Sun x4200 M2 servers I've been doing SP/BIOS upgrades on. In the new web GUI there's a tab missing. I mean, you can get to that tab directly by typing in the URL but not through the normal method. The rest of the box seems fine so I've just decided to ignore it. A good few of the boxes I've still to do I'll be doing when I come back on Tuesday of next week (both before and after my dental appointment). At the same time I'll be doing some long-overdue RHEL updates to four boxes (two of them the remaining Xen DomU servers left after the sad culling that happened a few weeks ago).

Other than that... I think that's about it. Have a lovely Friday, weekend and Monday. I'll be doing lots of hiking and seeing my parents and brother and things of that nature. This evening is pizza and Death Race 2000 and the recent remake simply called Death Race!

[17:30] Ten days until Kris arrives home. I'm trying not to get too excited because there's still a fair while to go yet and I don't want to start getting any more frustrated about the speed at which time passes yet. Luckily between now and then I've got the expected-to-be-brilliant visit to see my parents and brother to come. That serves the triple duty of seeing my family, doing the Christmas present (Santa) run and celebrating my parents' 40th wedding anniversary all in one fell swoop. It's all going to be fantastic.

Kris was an awful lot happier today too, which has perked me up no end. I was feeling pretty low last night after the gym. I put the reason firmly in the low blood sugar camp. Luckily a bout of washing up and then some pasta and pancetta helped to keep me from sinking into a blue funk. Well, that and absolutely refusing to give in to it and downloaded television. I'm pretty sure it was the food to be honest, but I'd like to believe I had some conscious hand in getting my head right again.

Today has been all about nothing much, then a tough erg session then a rapid amount of SP/BIOS firmware updates for x4100M2 and x4200M2 servers. The Nessus box and the Web Team's boxes are now down. All that remains is one finance box and the ten or so major project boxes we have left. Happily this will also give me the chance to do the major RHEL update that's been pending for three of them for the past three months or so.

For now though, home. And if it's not raining... Tesco for more Christmas food.

[16:30] I woke up full of beans this morning. Even with yesterday's lunchtime erg I was feeling pretty chipper. Morning exercises done and no packed lunch to make (burrito day) meant I could cycle carefully into work. I swear the roads haven't been this icy in years. Pretty much everyone I know who cycles regularly has come off their bike recently (some more than once). I'm dreading it happening to me, I have to say. Of course, here's hoping it doesn't!

Work today has been quite dull. Replying to Kris' emails was the highlight to be honest. Those and making her smile at the end of a long tough day for her, too.

Last night's meal was some rather nice home-made beef burgers which I intend to improve on in the future with help from Kris, an onion and some herbs and spices. They were perfectly lovely though. Hopefully tonight I can go home and rejoice in the defrosted freezer I bit the bullet on and did last night. Not that there's anything in it but a tub of ice cream and 250g of mince. Pasta stuff tonight, I think. And shopping tomorrow so the thing is cooling more than just air. I can start thinking about freezable Christmas food now, finally. Duck being at the top of the list to ensure we get one. With usual thoroughness and thoughtfulness and general wonderfulness Kris has spreadsheeted the Christmas meals and once she's here and we've compared it against what's in the house we can go out and do the final shop together. Which will be rather cool. At the rate I'm getting some things in (with help from Cormac and his car) we may not need to borrow Keith's trike, which is almost a shame.

Gym tonight, better start to wind down the day. I feel the need for some energy-burning and then some television watching.

[17:40] Nothing exciting to report from this weekend I'm afraid. Lots of wrapping of presents for Kris (the stocking stuff, so lots of small, oddly-shaped things), a good Saturday erg, a freezing cycle and scull in a pair on Sunday morning and two shopping trips for a short week's amount of food and the first of the Christmas perishables. The second trip costing three times as much for a third the amount of things. Can we guess what was purchased? I think we can.

I'm starting to get even more excited about Christmas now. It's the first one I'll have had in a good few years (2004 being the last one) celebrated with a girlfriend. That makes it really rather special and as a result I'm going to try and make it as special as possible, because Kris is very special. Not to mention that this'll be her first British Christmas and there's certain things like Christmas pudding, brandy butter/cream - and other things I can't mention here because they're going to be a surprise for her - which go towards making things just a little different to what she might be used to over there in Americaland.

Highlights of my day include: getting all the Windows servers listed as scannable by Nessus (and scanning a few to make sure the credentials work correctly), doing a damned hard 7885m erg and having either the last or penultimate present for Kris arrive in the post well before Christmas (when I was worried it might not arrive in time, or at all). Tonight I get to make beef burgers and defrost the freezer! How exciting is that?

The weather is being a bit odd at the moment. Temperatures keep dropping and then rising rapidly. This is leading to some very slippery roads. I've yet to come off my bike (which I do every five or six years) but thus far I have had two heart-stopping front wheel slips. Cycling around takes a little longer at the moment.

[16:05] A few of us went to see Zack and Miri Make a Porno last night. I have to say I wasn't expecting much, nor did I know in advance of the end credits that it was a Kevin Smith film. I guess the appearance of Jason Mewes should have given it away. I did initially assume that someone just decided to give him a shot at another role but no, Smith again. Anyway, by no more than ten minutes in I was laughing away with everyone else. It's a wonderful film with all the profanity and toilet-based humour you might expect from the creator of Jay and Silent Bob. I found it very amusing. Definitely not everyone's beverage in a drinking recepticle of choice, but I liked it. We headed over to Sam's afterwards for food and Burnout 3 before driving home.

I made the decision not to erg at lunch time today because, well, I didn't want to and the only reason I was going was because I thought I should. I'm going to the gym this evening and I'm erging on Saturday and Sunday mornings (now that I'm not in any boats between now and Christmas unless someone needs a sub). I have to admit I'm a little annoyed in principle that I've not been picked by the vets or the first boat (of the S4 level guys anyway) to sub more often. Another guy (who's only doing at most as much training as I am) always seems to be picked more, as well as a few others. Still, it doesn't really matter as I get a lot more time to do my own thing outside of rowing.

Speaking of doing, and my own thing, Kris was online today (as usual, smashingly) and we had a good chat about this and that, kept our wonderful wordplay banter going and generally shot the breeze for a while like happy couples are wont to do. That was nice.

This evening I will be going to the gym (with some form of cardio exercise in there somewhere as well as weights work). There there will be more food from the shrinking-too-slowly remaining food in the freezer and then chill out time before bed. With luck I might get to defrost the thing this weekend.

The weekend currently looks like containing exercise in the mornings, a Tesco trip, housework and quite possibly either a cycle or something else moderately long to make me feel a bit fitter and not have me slobbed out in front of the television both weekend day afternoons. Thinking about it, I'm away next weekend and the Saturday evening the weekend after Kris arrives! Hurrah!

[16:40] Day's a good'n! After some successful setup work I've been able to scan all our linux and Solaris hosts, have begun to scan our Windows hosts and possibly solved the issue where scanning our finance system application tier servers caused them to go crazy. This means I'm very, very close to having only three Nessus scans to run (linux, Solaris and Window) whenever it comes time to do it.

Couple that with having a lovely chat with Kris which cleared up all of the woes I'd been having about this and that over the last few weeks and getting my hair cut and shaving my beard off and I feel pretty good right about now. Going to the gym and then having dinner with Cormac, Steph and Phil last night when all I really wanted to do was stay at home after exercising and sulk all evening was probably one of the better decisions I've made this month. The others have been to do with finishing my 'beard experiment' (although I reserve the right to have a bit of stubble now and then; I'm told it's a good look for me) and buying some smashing Christmas presents for Kris. I have a feeling Christmas Day (and the surrounding days, starting on the evening of the 20th) are going to be rather good.

Tonight, for my sins, I'm off to see "Zack and Miri Make A Porno". Don't ask me why. It might be to do with the food afterwards. And the company.

Otherwise I'm definitely giving my hip some time off from running (and climbing, hence going to the gym instead last night) by erging instead. I don't have any rowing scheduled for this weekend (more ergs then, I guess) and had a meeting this morning which may or may not have actually achieved anything. I do know that nothing was required of me so that's OK. I've offered help to the person who was faced with a mountain of tasks to do so something may come of that. Right now though I think it's time to get out of here for the day!

[17:15] Grrr. My hip is giving me gyp again. Not much, not a lot, just some. Just a little too much for me to consider climbing again yet. What I am going to do is stop running and go back to doing ergs again at lunchtimes. I think the lack of impact is what I need to help it sort itself out while at the same time not stopping exercise (gym is still a viable choice). The run at lunch time today was good, but again this afternoon things have just begun to ache a little.

I think there's some circularity to my slowing down a little exercise-wise in that I'm feeling more lethargic and less inclined to do exercise because I'm not doing as much. If you see what I mean. Well, it makes sense to me anyway.

Nothing much has happened today. I've meetings and Nessus scans to deal with tomorrow so I've been preparing for them today. Other than that there was my usual nice chat with Kris and a slight run-in with a car driver this morning (just a case of impatient driving on his part).

[15:50] OK, that was eventful. After doing a mammoth erg session last night at which I beat my previous 40min distance by 19m (10320m) I came home and made a very late dinner. Consequently I didn't get to bed much before 23:30. When my alarm went off at 06:00 I threw myself out of bed before I had the chance to lie there and consider dozing for two minutes. Getting into work by 06:30 meant I had the machine I was going to be working on shutting down its Oracle databases by 07:00. I popped down to the server room once the box was powered down and yanked the power, then let the SP power back up again so that it didn't have any kind of hangover from being powered on for so long. While I was in there I moved a stepladder to the other side of the room so I could get to the back of the rack and also put a raised floor tile back over the hole it'd come out of to stop some of the pumped air-con coming out of one of the many holes in the floor that're there at the moment because of the building work we're having done at the moment. Ostensibly this was to make more air come out of the vents at the front of each rack and thus keep the servers cool. I went back upstairs and came down with the firmware CD for the RAID BIOS. I was just about to power on the server with a monitor and keyboard attached when the principal secretary haired into the room and told me that the fire alarm was going off due to a fire in the server room. Which was odd as I couldn't see/hear/smell one. As I had to leave I did what I've been conditioned to do and locked the server room door. What this does is move the fire suppression system (Halon 1301) from manual to automatic. The upshot being that 1.5 seconds after I turned the key the system activated and dumped a significant amount of halon into the room I'd just vacated with a sound not dissimilar to the sound a carbon dioxide extinguisher makes, turned up to eleven and for about fifteen to twenty seconds.

That was a surprise.

No-one, not even the alarm/suppression system guys know what triggered it. It's certainly not my fault. The current theory I'm going on is that by covering up one hole in the raised floor I raised the pressure of air being pushed out of the other holes in the floor, forcing some of the dust from the building work up into the air and setting off the smoke/ionising alarms sensors and thus activating the system... which couldn't go off until I closed the door again and automated the system. The good thing is that we were due to bin this system anyway once the building work was complete and the server room extension was in place. We'll need something bigger at that point and it's illegal to refill a halon suppression system these days. So in effect all I really did was make sure we got our money's worth from something that would have been more difficult to remove if it'd been full/primed/active anyway!

Since then the rest of the day's felt a bit anticlimactic. I've also been very tired for a lot of it, which is why I'm going home shortly. I'm being a bank party tonight for another crew and then going home to collapse and watch some television.

[16:20] Hmm. It's December. That was quick. Not, like, uber-fast. But pretty speedy nonetheless. A lot has happened this year. Perhaps not as much as other years but actually probably more if I were to actually sit down and think about it. I'm not going to. Except for the really good bits, with Kris.

My weekend was a rather solitary affair when I think about that though. With no outings on Saturday or Sunday I opted to go into the boat house and do a 30 minute erg on both mornings instead. I'd been expecting some company on at least one of the days but it turns out some people had last minute outings and someone else just couldn't be bothered to turn up. As a result I could put on whatever music I wanted and have it as loud as I liked... leading to what were probably close to personal best distances on both days. The lack of other people was doubly good as it means there's plenty of scope for me just not turning up some weekends when I've something much more interesting or better to be spending my time concerned with. Like when Kris makes her way home (about 19 days to go now). Given how I was always adamant that rowing would not take over my life (I wasn't ever going to become a "boatie") I'm really looking forward to the point at which I have proper, quality company on a weekend as opposed to just needing something to fill up some of the day. I expect to be spending many more weekends being unavailable for outings by arrangement with Kris. Of course now and again we'll both want to do our own things, if only for a morning... but equally as much we're going to want to use our free time for day- or weekend-long activities which aren't to do with rowing (but probably will involve some kind of physical activity).

Speaking of physical activity, I'd assumed that I wouldn't be doing a coached erg session this evening so went out for my usual 6km lunchtime run. It was only when I checked my email on returning that I found I probably had a 40min session on the dreaded machine this evening. I don't intend to go too hard given I put in a personal best for that time this time last week. Tuesday will have no exercise at all unless I feel like it as I'm going to be in work for 07:00 doing firmware upgrades and being bank party for a crew in the evening. I could go to the gym... but you know what. I don't think I will. I'm pretty sure my membership's probably expired by now anyway.