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29/02/2008
[16:15] Happy leap day. I'd go back and look at what I was doing the last time but I'm pretty sure it wasn't anything fun. In fact now I think about it it was a Sunday, so there's no record of it anyway in my Journal per se. Other leap days weren't particularly good, now I think about it.

Thursday last night was a rowdy, crowded affair and for the life of me I just couldn't settle. Maybe it was the huge amounts of stain-inducing curry being waved around my lounge and sofa or simply that I've been a little out of sorts with this broken and overheaded sleep recently. Either way, while it was brilliant as always to have people over (why else would I keep doing it?) it was both a surprise and mildly useful that everyone headed off fairly early on pretty much after we'd watched one film. Of course that didn't stop me being a bad host at the end. I don't know what it is, maybe I'm just not cut out for the kind of life I've been leading for a good long while. I certainly feel like maybe I've made a few too many mistakes, or just not been clear enough. Or something. Definitely not keeping myself in check at any rate.

After hopefully sorting my life out a little at both ends of the spectrum this morning it was necessary for me to go and row my little socks off for thirty minutes to get my head back into some kind of order. It's something of a relief to know that there are some things/activities which, when done, keep me from going completely crazy with feelings of loss, sadness, confusion and general upset in that life isn't going completely how I might best prefer it. For a little while it's just me and my body, doing what we seem to be good at.

I'm disappointed to say I didn't break 7700m this time around though. I made 7698m. Still, it means there's a possibility there and I'm faster than at the beginning of the week for the same strokes/min. Just a shame we won't be out on the water after all tomorrow, looks like the river'll be chock full of students so it's back on the ergos indoors. If the weather stays like this that might not be a particularly bad thing though. We'll be out on Sunday though, which eats into running time, but probably not for the afternoon. Turns out I could do with some distraction right about now. It'd be really nice if I was in the kind of work which took me out of the county to places like China and America. Far away places with new people to meet and exciting things to do. Maybe I'll do something nuts over the summer like buy a new lens for my camera, go to New York for a long weekend and fill my memory card full of black and white photos of the buildings and people like I did once before, only with a bit more skill and experience this time. And a much better camera. Then I can sell them, make a coffee table book and retire on the profits. Instant win. It's not like it's never been done before. If you have a suggestion for the lens I need, do let me know. I have a Canon 350D.

As it is I'm going to finish today off, maybe without making any more mistakes, causing any more confusion or generally adding any more stress to my life. After that is gym - no more rowing until tomorrow - and then a large amount of garlic bread with my pasta. Oh and some steamed vegetables. The weekend is going to be... full.

28/02/2008
[29/02/2008 - 09:00] Sorry this is a day late. Things got away from me yesterday. Let's pretend I'm writing this on Thursday, yes? OK, if you're sitting comfortably I'll begin...

Headed off climbing last night to London with Keith and Chef (real name Duncan). Oh, and Cline. That was pretty fantastic. It was brilliant to climb all new routes, all night. The grading system there is the French one I think so I was climbing 6b+ routes all evening. Bit odd when I find myself only just managing to stay on easy 6a routes at The Castle. Anyway, following that I was subjected to a trip to a vegetarian restaurant (Eat and 2 Veg) which I've been taken to once before. It was actually tolerable food, although I couldn't shake the disquiet that my burger was made purely of soya. A trip to London means a very late arrival home, and therefore another late night.

The late arrival home left me fairly tired this morning but I soldiered into work and set about doing all the mini-tasks I had to do today. Happily this wasn't an exercise day (my one day off in the week) so that wasn't hanging over me come lunch time. Instead I was taken out to lunch by some fellow IT people to pump me for knowledge on my experiences with Symantec Ghost and AI Builder. Turns out I don't think I was much help but potentially gave them some useful pointers and directions to take their investigations. It's been so long since I did any Windows administration I was mildly worried I'd not know what the hell they were going on about. Thankfully there doesn't seem to have been that many changes in the Windows world since I left it. There was good conversation during the day again, even if it was a little one-sided in some regards.

I left pretty much on time to head home for Thursday's house-filling appointment.

27/02/2008
[15:40] Gym was good last night. I didn't think it was going to be, but as usual once I was in the groove everything came right and I ended up feeling pretty great. So great in fact that I did another 30 minute row once I'd done my weights and stuff. Obviously not quite as good as the previous day's distance but a good pull nonetheless. As the stats keeper for my squad it looks like I'm still doing well compared to those other people who're providing information. I think Simon (the coach) is going to put a rocket under a few people this weekend (if not by email before) to get them to start doing a bit more exercise and submitting times/distances to me. I know for a fact that there's a few people in the boat who could really do with getting in a little better shape for this.

Had a long conversation last night. It was an interesting and ultimately sad conversation, but at least the conclusion was clear. Life's like that sometimes and all you can do is accept the situations (and changes) which are and see what happens in the future. Either way I figure there's always something positive you can draw from the experience. What with one thing and another I didn't get to bed before midnight again, which is silly. Oddly I don't think I was woken by the earthquake, although I did wake up in the night and deliberately not look at the clock (I figure if I don't realise it's 02:00 or something I'll not feel as tired in the morning). Even more oddly I felt wide awake when I did get up to deal with a few things. I think my overheating sleeps may be wearing off, but I can't be certain. I do know it's extremely annoying and leaves me worrying that there's still something niggling my body which shouldn't be. We'll see how I feel by Friday night. As it was I woke on the dot of 07:00 and for some reason just wanted to get out of bed. As a result I was in work some time just before 08:00 and raring to go. Don't ask me why. Although now I think about it the only times I really spend any appreciable length of time in bed past daybreak is when there's someone else in it too. Heh, Once I spent a full working week in bed over a weekend. Impressed? I was!

An email's just come in from the rowing coach. It looks like we might be getting two outings this weekend which is brilliant! I've been hoping we'd step up the on-water training. I've been put at 3 for at least one of the rows though, which is a little odd. Still, we'll see how that goes.

I've a little more work to do today, but as I was in earlyish this morning I can get out of here some time after 16:00 and head down to the Westway and get some good climbing in this evening. It does mean it's going to be a very late night again, but it's not like I need to be back for anyone. I've done an install for my team leader whose linux workstation corrupted its disk partition information and was then found to have popped some of its capacitors. Some new users created, some stuff tidied up, machines categorised and in one case found to have been forgotten by the team who'd requested it. Le sigh.

Which reminds me... Actually no, never mind. You don't care.

26/02/2008
[16:15] I went out for dinner last night. I'm pretty sure this was a bad idea. I got home late and slept very badly (return of the being too hot in bed feelings). I'm beginning to think that perhaps it's something to do with red wine. If I don't feel great tonight again it's highly likely that that's the cause. Still, otherwise it was nice to be out and about and enjoying company, even if it's purely platonic.

Today I've been doing things with VMPSd and working out how to send VLAN tagging information across the switches such that we don't need to run SNMPd any more. This should stop the rather beefy server we have being brought to its knees by masses of traps every second it has to handle. All in all a good thing I'm sure you'll agree.

I really am quite tired today, I don't seem to be able to concentrate fully on the things I need to be doing. This now includes being the keeper of the ergo/exercise statistics for my novice squad. Happily OpenOffice can save stuff in an Excel-alike format so I can provide it to our coach in a format he'll be able to read with a Windows PC. At this point I really think I need to go to the gym and get my blood flowing a bit more, that and get a handle on my housework. I've been putting off vacuuming and cleaning the kitchen again. If I do it tonight it does mean that I need to think hard about what to make for dinner this evening as I know I'm going to be extremely knackered post-gym. In a perfect world I'd shower, do the washing up, put on a load of washing, clean the kitchen, vacuum the lounge and then have dinner. I wonder how much I will manage to do in reality...

25/02/2008
[11:55] A completely crammed weekend. Crammed. Completely. Starting with the gym session on Friday which was very, very good. Possibly something to do with the rowing session at lunch time. Anyway, after relaxing on Friday evening I was up and about in time to get to the boat house on Saturday morning in tons of time. I did a moderately fast two minute test before everyone turned up, at which point I did another one to actually have my distance recorded. Amusingly I still managed to come second, less than 30m behind the 6'5" guy with the truly huge legs. All this extra ergo work seems to be paying off. Simon (a senior) seems to want to coach us. This is good as he's a rather great guy with a hell of a lot of experience. Even better is that he has organised us into some kind of VIII boat. The only problem is that a good few of the 'squad' a) haven't had anywhere near as much time in boats as the rest of us and, b) just don't seem to Get things like setting the boat (keeping it stable with the blades and core muscle control). There's a c) in that one of the guys really isn't terribly good at understanding English which means that sometimes he just switches off completely and has been known to step on the bottom of the boat getting in and out. When you shout at him to tell him that that's £20,000 of fibreglass he's stressing with his size 11 feet he looks at you with a furrowed brow and complete incomprehension. I wish he'd laugh less and understand more.

So anyway, we went out as a squad VIII for the first time with Leanne as our cox. I've been put at 7 (the one behind Stroke, first bowsider). This probably makes sense as I'm left handed. It also means that the stern pair are me and Aaron, who seems to know what he's doing as much as I do. The bow pair... not quite so much. The middle four... well, they're all big, strong guys but their coordination and stamina just isn't there yet. I really do hope we improve as a boat because otherwise we're going to get creamed the first time we go out, even against another novice VIII. I know that Leanne certainly came back exhausted from coxing. That can't be right, surely. Anyway, Simon's given us a training schedule to get into. It's not quite as strenuous as that which I'm already doing but I need to think about participating in squad training rather than doing it on my own. I'm considering emailing everyone and asking if they want to start coming running with me on a Sunday (or even a Saturday after rowing). I'm not sure some of them'll manage the full 13.7km (nor want to come to my house) so we'll start with something shorter like running from the boathouse to the lock and back first. See how that goes...

Unfortunately the rowing went on so long (only unfortunate in that I needed to be elsewhere) on Saturday that I had to cycle home at speed, rotisserie myself in the shower for ten seconds and then cycle madly to the station to get the train after the one that'd been planned for with Keith. We were going to get to London, cycle across it to Waterloo and then take two more trains to Earley (the easiest station to cycle from to Dunk's house). Given the fact I was late we got a later first train but somehow managed to get the right train from Reading. So it all worked out perfectly. Spending the afternoon and evening with Dunk and friends at his house and the pub was a lovely way to relax. Unfortunately there were some issues which made things slightly less fun than expected, but with help and calm voices I think everything was kept under control for the most part. We'll see how things pan out in the future. I didn't get much sleep on Saturday night owing to one thing and another and consequently wasn't feeling too bright on Sunday morning. Still, after a good bacon breakfast Keith and I made the return trip through London again, with me nursing what I thought might be a slow puncture to my rear tyre. I'd planned to go to Tesco on the way back from the train station but with the tyre looking suspect Sam, who was driving past on her way home offered to take me so I went that route instead. Sam's great.

After shopping, and in the spitting rain I went for my delayed Sunday run. Aware that last weekend I had (slightly) over done it with the running I was very gentle on my right calf which still seemed to be aching oddly. Happily though after about ten kilometres the pain went away (as did the rain) and I completed the run possibly in under 56 minutes (a new best). Hot shower and very, very delayed lunch followed. I then spent some time creating a good me-shaped dent in the sofa and chatting pleasantly with friends old and new online until it was well past my bed time. I feel sad, and happy at the same time. This is not new. I disassembled my tyre last night but couldn't find a puncture so I left the inner tube pressurised all night and came back to find it exactly the same pressure this morning. Must have just been lazy in keeping the pressure up and it was a cold day. Still, nice to have some more puncture practice.

Today will be divided into this morning, which is nearly over and has consisted mainly of checking logs for weekend mishaps, writing emails and talking very pleasantly. This afternoon will be more actively work-shaped and ends some time after 17:00 when I'm done. In the middle? It's obviously ergo work!

22/02/2008
[16:15] Today I've had over 440 spams. Fully a third were advertising holidays in a single location. You wouldn't believe where. I'd have to have been a US or Canadian citizen to take advantage of the "offer" though. Oh well! Still, to stifle my disappointment I came in early and reinstalled that server which arrived yesterday with the correct bittedness operating system. Turns out that the DBA hadn't thought that they could install a 64-bit version of Oracle (or just hadn't researched completely) so I installed a 32-bit version of linux. By close of play yesterday they'd come to see me as I was about to hand the machine over to them to ask if they should download the 32 or 64-bit version of Oracle to go on it. The upshot of the discussion was that installing a 64-bit versino of the OS would mean things might be a little better in terms of performance. I started on it last night while people were around watching DVDs and things and then came in to get it finished before 10:30. It was only once I'd handed it over that I discovered that perhaps the application part of the stack which was going on this test box might only work on 32-bit linux. Still, this is what having a test box is all about, to see what works and what doesn't.

Getting finished before 10:30 meant I won a little bet with myself so I felt perfectly justified in doing what I wanted for the remainder of the morning. I went out to do some rowing at lunch (ergo, not on the river) but still didn't manage to break 23 minutes for 6km. I'm averaging about 1:56.8 for 500m now but it's not enough. I know I could do it if I really pushed, but I don't want to leave myself dead for the afternoon. I think if it came to a race or squad selection or something like that I could pull the extra twelve seconds or so to get me under the minute-marker out of the bag. It's there, I know it is. Happily, my technique seems to be surviving in the face of a long row so I think I have that mostly locked in now. I just need to keep 'bum shove' to a minimum and keep my back straight at frontstops just before the push.

This afternoon I've been... well, catching up on correspondence and generally trying to keep a level head about me. Work continues to continue and I've got things to do. Which is good. Tonight I'm off to the gym (no running, I need to save myself for tomorrow's rowing session with some of the senior squad in the VIII with us). After tomorrow morning's rowing I'm straight onto a train with Keith (and Cat, perhaps) down to Reading for Dunk's birthday shennanigans and overnight partying thing. Back on Sunday I hope to be squeezing in a run, a Tesco trip, some housework and even a telephone call! Busy, which is definitely what I need at the moment. Have a good one.

21/02/2008
[17:40] It's a damned good thing I've been kept extremely busy today or it could have been a quite unpleasant period of time. I thought I was at a low ebb yesterday, but it still seems like I'm heading down (albeit at a less accelerated pace than before). I'm doing all the right things mentally and physically to ameliorate my downedness and work on getting back on an even keel but they're not having any effect at the moment really. I know they will and I'll be back up and my usual smashing self again soon. Just not right now, OK? I've found that part of the trick is to tell the people you care about not upsetting (who ask) that everything's OK and then try not to make yourself a liar. That tends to be a way of snapping myself out of this kind of situation. I don't like lying so it gives me a reason to improve my mood. Cunning, no? Perhaps as cunning as a weasel that's just sneaked a bottle of cunning pills from the highly secure laboratory of Dr Devious. Or something.

Another stupid chunk of text that barely makes any sense. I sometimes wonder why you bother reading.

Anyway, enough of that self-absorbed nonsense. Look at me talking when there's Journaling to be done! The reason I've been so busy today is that the network bod and I have been setting up some high power Cisco wireless stuff and getting deeply involved in IOS commands for the first time in I don't know how long. This has been exciting, interesting and frankly extremely time-consuming. Brilliant stuff; I've basically had a complete day of learning new things. I can't remember the last time that happened. While all that's been going on I've also racked up the server from Sun which arrived. While it has all the cores we wanted it is slower than we paid for and has less RAM, as I said. They really better send us the rest of that soon or so help me we're going to start reconsidering Dell for our needs. And you know how much I hate the idea of that... Or maybe you don't. Well, I guess you do now.

Had another conversation interminged with all of the work that's going on. That was basically the nicest part of the day, well that and lunch, and realising that the day is well over and I can go home, wash up and prepare for people coming over. Truth be told I'm feeling a little bereft of... something at the moment. Maybe I'll figure it out in time.

20/02/2008
[16:30] I don't know if it was last night's gym session or that plus Monday's cranking at the wall but my forearms are really aching today. I should try to loosen them up a bit. Maybe some rowing will help. I ended up popping out for dinner with a friend for a good long natter after the gym last night and drinking wine, which means that this morning I was slightly more dehydrated than I would have liked. I've been drinking for most of the morning in an effort to get back up to snuff.

I'll admit to feeling a bit adrift at the moment. I know why, but there's no solution at present. Instead I'm going to concentrate on the positive aspects of my life that I do have control over and enjoy those to the maximum permissible amount as mandated by the Surgeon General. For example, I had a nice chat this morning actually. It went on a bit longer than I expected and I missed out on rowing at lunch time. That's OK though as I'll go after work this evening before the talk at the rowing club which I'm going to in preference to climbing.

It turns out that we've browbeaten Sun into shipping us an x4200 M2 after all. It won't have the speed of CPUs or the all RAM we ordered but at least we'll have a box in the building. Apparently it'll turn up tomorrow. I'll believe that when I see it.

Turns out my package arrived after all, too. It only took sixteen days.

19/02/2008
[11:00] I saw a fox last night. An urban fox. I think this was my first up close and personal encounter with one. I was just coming out of a gym at a local college where I'd been doing campus board work all evening (I'd just like to say "ow" and express a desire to be 5-10kg lighter please) and was wheeling my bike out and onto the road when I saw something that looked like a cat and a dog at the same time. Through the gathering mist and rendered oddly coloured by the lights of the passageway it came until it encountered the beam of my bike light. We both froze and it and I spent about a minute looking curiously at each other until a car drove by behind it. With a jump it ran towards me (being the quietest and less in motion of the two threats), dived between me and my bike and disappeared into the college. I don't think I'd have been able to get a shot with my 50mm, let alone my camera phone. It cheered me oddly though to know that nature can exist even in an urban environment. I know they can be vermin, cause damage and disease in both urban and rural environments but they're wildlife, and I like that. I know some of you have probably seen lots of foxes, maybe you live in the country somewhere, but there you go.

Amusingly I then ran into the person I have dinner with every so often just down the road as I was cycling away from the scene. Given the weather and so forth I was grateful of a cup of tea and a chat. Unfortunately her friend arrived in a strange mood and proceeded to be a little more obstreperous than was polite for a first meeting. Given they were going out I decided it was time to leave and came home. I was online for a while chatting to those who were around but in the end just felt too tired and decided that bed would be the best idea rather than being foolish and staying up to talk more.

This morning is following the same pattern of being very cold and there being a rather deep and hard frost. I've pretty much given up on the parcel I sent turning up now, oh well. There's a good chance the cloud will burn off by lunchtime or midafternoon at which point it'll be perfect for being outside, rather than indoors where I will actually be. Still, tonight is gym where I'm going to beginning adding in some new exercises specifically to address forearm and finger strength. Not quite sure what to do, but I'm an imaginative guy, I'll work something that works out. Today is Mexican lunchtime and from 11:00 (now!) until 12:00 there's the departmental meeting (which is oh so enjoyable, yes it is). Other than that I'm going to be vulnerability scanning my first live Windows servers today. With luck this won't cause Dell's OMSA to barf all over itself and grind the machine into the ground like last time.

[12:20] Mmmm, that's good burrito.

[16:10] Hurrah, we seem to have a spot of bother with one of our applications. I've fixed it but none of us seem to know the how or why of it. All a bit confusing. Still, in good news I have a dinner date after the gym this evening.

[16:45] Drat it. I knew that was coming. Sometimes I really should learn not to expect without reason. Still, the eight Windows boxes I've Nessus scanned today don't appear to have fallen over when prodded. So perhaps either Dell's OMSA software is a little more resilient these days or something's changed within Nessus since I moved it to another machine. I'm inclined to think both to be honest, especially given that I've changed all kinds of scan settings...

Bah, this day just turned to poo. Time for the gym.

18/02/2008
[10:15] What a weekend! It started on Friday with a missed gym session and instead a pleasant evening doing other things. Happily I had a great night's sleep and woke refreshed and so forth ready to face the day on Saturday with only a niggles niggling me. I got to the boathouse earlier on account of it being spring-cleaning day and helped out for an hour and a half until the session started. Pretty much from the off we were out in a coxed 4. Unfotunately our cox was a very young boy who hasn't quite got the feel of steering yet or the calls required to keep a crew informed as to what to do. Luckily the bank coach kept us from hitting too many things (the bank, other boats, etc.). I think everyone in the boat improved somewhat over the course of the session. At the debrief I was embarrassed to be the only one who wasn't actually given something to work on. In the end the only thing I was asked to do was stop giving the cox so much grief from my position at Stroke. Still if I hadn't we'd have been rammed up the ass by an 8 which was really motoring past the boathouses who assumed we'd be staying in a straight line as we moved. I love rowing, even more so now that I feel like I'm 'getting' the stroke a lot more now and especially when I'm at Stroke and keeping us from speeding up when we shouldn't be! After the debrief a couple of the other people in the 4 jumped on the ergos to try and put into action some of the things they'd been told and one of them asked me to make sure his back was straight. Half an hour later I've been coaching them both on style and technique and the senior squad member who'd taken the turn to coach us this week wanders back in to say that that they're both looking a lot better. So, hurrah for them for improving and yay for me. I really do love teaching/coaching. It's the same with climbing, and Karate and... well, all the physical activities that I love doing; it's wonderful to be able to pass on the little bits that I've learned/am learning to other people. It also reinforces things for me too.

The weather was so brilliant on Saturday that the cycle home didn't seem like enough extra exercise for the day. As a result I (you know what's coming, don't you?) pulled on my running stuff and headed off to do my Sunday run a day early. By the time I got to my usual turning point I was still feeling great so I pushed on downstream for another few miles until I got to a pub called The Bridge (unsurprisingly next to a bridge) where I'd taken someone a long time ago for a rather lovely time (although I'd been nervous as hell, and so very unsure of things then). That was where I turned around and headed back. For about an hour I saw no-one whatsoever and felt more of that same feeling I mentioned last week. It was kind of a shame to find myself back in civilization as it were and even more so to arrive home. With the air temperature being close to zero I wasn't feeling hot at all but the extra distance (it turned out to be about 19km, my furthest ever!) had made my (fx: reached for his anatomy book) rectus femoris, sartorius and possibly even my tensor fasciae latae ache at the point where they attach to my hips. I stretched dilligently and then settled down to watch some television for the first time in days. Recorded stuff from the Internet, naturally.

Sunday was another shiny, bright day so I couldn't help it; I went running again. Aware that this amount of exercise is probably not a terribly good idea I warmed up and jogged gently down to the boathouse kind of by accident rather than design. After letting myself in I decided that erging would be a less impactful way to loosen up some tight muscles so settled in for a nice long pull. What I didn't realise was that there was a coach there of some thirty-eight years experience keeping an eye on me as I did it. Consequently when I stopped he (and I'm extremely grateful for him doing so) proceeded to give me about fifteen minutes of coaching on what I could do better. Suitably improved (at least temporarily, I'm heading to the gym this lunch time to get it all reinforced in my head and muscle memory) I dedided that I was now loose enough to go for a run. So I did. However with my legs aching I only went as far as the lock I normally go to before turning around and making it back to the beginning of tow path. I walked the rest of the way home rather than push too hard. I'm silly, but I'm not an idiot. At least, not when it comes to running.

After the walk home and a lovely hot shower I did, honestly, seriously consider doing some housework. Really! Instead I spent some time eating and then read a book until Sam turned up to go to the cinema with me. We saw Jumper, which was everything I expected, and less. Still, it was a fun use of a bitterly cold evening. Takeout and chat followed back at my house before I threw Sam out and went to bed with a book.

For the hard of thinking: yes, I really, really love rowing. I'm so glad I was introduced to it. There's some fun stuff coming up in that regard soon, but not for a month or so. More on that nearer the time.

Today's weather is sub-zero with freezing fog and a thick frost. It's really nice. Perfect cycling hard weather (so long as you mind the ice). I'll be doing some work this morning, rowing at lunch and then helping one of the DBAs with their workstation this afternoon. I'm not sure what's happening this evening. It'd be nice to go out, but I may just end up going to do some exercise with some other climbers who have a couple of campus boards set up in a gym instead. We'll see.

15/02/2008
[15:05] Someone has written a response to the Times article I mentioned on 07/02/2008. Again I'm not entirely sure I agree wholeheartedly with the article, but there's some gold in the pan, as it were, if you search had enough.

Last night was the anti-Valentines Day DVD evening. A good turn out all things considered, even if we did have a married couple, a long term couple and two halves of two other married couples (even if one isn't really happening any more). That basically left two single people (or maybe one, me, I'm not sure). Anyway, we ended up watching 51st State which only has minimal romance in it. I'd have prefered the final Bourne film, but it turns out it would send one of the group to sleep. Not with boredom, she just seems to suffer narcolepsy whenever one of those films are on the screen. So, it was a good night all told (including me not waking up (I think) to take my temperature. This in itself is a good thing. I'm going to go back to normal sleeping arrangements this evening and just write off last week as me getting over some kind of semi-neutered 'flu. Well, semi-normal sleeping arrangements. We'll see what the evening brings in that regard. I'm not entirely sure I'll make it to the gym (although I did get to do my rowing at lunch time (1:47.2/500m for the last 500m, 23:12 for 6km)) given something else which has popped up unexpectedly, but there's still tomorrow on the river and maybe a gym session after that. Also I see if my foot really is happy again on Sunday with the river run again. With luck everything'll be back to normal and I can start running regularly from Monday for the standard 6km distance. I'll then think about how I'm going to fit ergo and running in regularly during a working week. Maybe ergo after work on those days...? No, that won't work for Wednesdays with climbing. How about Monday, Thursday and Friday? I guess that might work if I'm home in time for people to come over on Thursday. So long as I leave work on time that gives me about an hour and a half. Yes, that might work. Although it does mean I don't have a day when I do no organised exercise (other than cycling to and from work) any more. I don't think that matters. Right, good, it's settled. OK, that was a constructive use of a minute of my time. I wish I had more of them! Oh hang on... I'm already at the gym on Friday so perhaps that's not going to work as the third day. Hmmmm, maybe a trip on Sunday on the way back from my run (as I'm passing the gym anyway) might fit. Yes, I think that'll do. Sometimes an extra day in the week would be really helpful.

Whatever the day of the week it's nice to have something to concetrate on at the moment which is positive. I had considered heading to the US to see a Shuttle launch in March but all kinds of things have come up as reasons not to do it. I will go one day. I remember exactly the moment I decided I was going to and that desire is still strong. Even after the last Shuttle reentry accident stopped all launches for a while I still went to the US and had a wonderful visit with Andy and Meri instead. Off the back of that trip I got to increase my travel anecdotes store and got together with Elaine. While that didn't work out, that period of time was one of the more wonderful parts of my life to date. Hmm, I seem to have gone off on a bit of a tangent there. Them's the breaks of connecting your brain directly to your fingers and pressing Play and Record at the same time. Back to the day in hand...

The x4200 M2 now won't be turning up until some time in the week of the 10th of March. Which is poor. Actually it's more than poor it's unacceptable. Sun are to blame apparently, rather than our supplier, which means we're not going totally psycho on them about this. Still, it gives me time to do some more Nessus scanning. Especially of the Windows servers.

Time for some more work now, have a good weekend, I intend to use it constructively and hopefully enjoyably.

14/02/2008
[14:10] Again it's a few days after the event that I realise that the BOFHcam site has turned another year older. This time it's nine whole years since I started on this thing. Including the occasional weekend entry and the few days I've missed out for holidays that comes to somewhere around about 3,300 entries. And I still don't seem to have run out of things to say. Join me now in wondering why I actually started, and why I still seem to be doing it. Think back over the many high times and low times, happinesses and sadnesses and the sheer mind-numbing tedium of the majority of what I've committed to 'paper'...

OK, enough of that. Yesterday afternoon was my last trip to be part of the medical experiment I've been doing. This week I was pretty sure I'd be getting placebo for both pill and infusion. I was correct. However what I was unprepared for was finding out that I'd been incorrect as to which week I had been given meth without Amisulpride and which had been meth and placebo. This seems to have confused everyone and is going to give the researchers something to think about. I was also in the fMRI scanner this time around and, true to form, I nearly fell asleep doing the tasks. The nurse who inserted my cannula was about as high up the food chain as you get and did a sterling job of a) placing it well and, b) making me scream and nearly attach myself to the ceiling with pain. Still, there seems to be zero bruising so far so all to the good.

The disk array I was expecting turned up at the precise moment I left work yesterday so I racked that up this morning. There's still no sign of the server I've been waiting for which is annoying. It means I'm at a bit of a loose end (read: able to write documentation). My mind keeps drifting to things I should be putting to the back of it so I really need something new to focus on. Unfortunately life doesn't present things like that on demand.

There's a slew of people coming over this evening to watch DVDs and things as always. I'm not entirely sure what it is we're going to watch but given it's an anti-Valentines Day thing it should be something fun. With explosions and possibly shouting. Amusingly something I sent through the post seems not to have arrived at its destination. I may chase it up at some later date. Or send it again if it seems like a good idea. Right now there's a Sun engineer due to come and swap a disk out for us at the central server room location. I really wish I could just go and do it myself but apparently I can't. Oh and I got a puncture last night as I was leaving the hospital. Cue waiting in the cold for an hour before a very helpful office-mate came and drove me and my bike home. I cycled all the way across the country and didn't get a single flat tyre. This year I've had three cycling around town.

13/02/2008
[10:25] I completely forgot that I'm out all afternoon at the final phase of the medical thing I'm doing. This means I'll be away from around 11:40 onwards. Thus far neither the disk array nor the x4200 M2 have turned up. I kind of hope they won't arrive until tomorrow now so I still get to work on racking them up.

I had another good night's sleep and my throat doesn't really have a lump in it any more. Perhaps I really am getting over some kind of neutered 'flu or something. I'm still thinking that the thermometer needs some calibration though as I seem to be averaging about 35.8degC which doesn't seem right, for me. I'm happy that I don't seem to be overheating at the moment whatever the reason. Being healthy would be nice as it'd mean one less thing on my mind at the moment. I get the feeling I might be on the edge of something, but I'm not sure. Once I figure it out I'll let you know.

12/02/2008
[16:45] Popped out for a drink last night rather than staying in and doing nothing all evening. Very definitely a good idea. And I still managed to get to bed in good time. Fully prepared for an interrupted night's sleep I actually went through the magic 02:15 barrier and instead woke at 04:45 instead and not overheated either. We'll see how tonight goes. Either my new thermometer is a bit out of whack or I'm seriously cooler than I should be after my visit to the doctor when I was over hot. All a bit confusing as I'm starting to worry what the broken sleep could mean. I confirmed to my own satisfaction that I didn't have some of the symptoms yet anyway, though.

Today I've not really been able to concentrate and stuff happening this afternoon has kind of just knocked me off balance a bit. I mean I knew it was likely, but it's always a bit poo when it happens. Makes me feel a bit silly about the effort I've put in. Still, it's all part of life's rich tapestry, is it not? We were expecting another server to arrive today. It hasn't. This means it may arrive tomorrow at the same time as the 2540 disc array. This could mean a nice full morning of racking things up (which is always fun) and then rowing over lunch, setting up things in the afternoon and the climbing in the evening! Definitely lots of things to keep my mind active and engaged. I think I need some of that.

I guess that's about it. Gym tonight, then some cooking. Then I get to do the other thing I'm good at, which is listening to someone and helping them with their problems... something I don't do enough of these days so it's nice to be able to do so again. That too keeps my mind occupied.

11/02/2008
[16:00] I wonder if anyone else has ever seen The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. Viewed by accident on television once, a lifetime ago, it's a film which has had an extraordinary and noticable effect on me. In some ways it was instrumental is my initial decision to start running. Not that I was a 'troubled teen' with a penchant for theft, baked goods or bucking the System. Rather that the running aspect resonated with me. For a long time in early secondary school I would come home and run to and from my house in Salford to Kersal High School and use the time to think about Stuff. And Things. It helped in ways that I still find useful today, more than seventeen years later. The quiet, the focus/lack of focus/control over oneself, the feeling that the body has energy in reserve, and the push to increase the pace to a faster natural rhythm as fitness increases. All of these are what makes me want to get out whenever I can and add another few kilometres to my tally. But it's not just that. What I'm trying to get at is similar to the way climbing quietens the rush of thoughts in my mind. The moment to moment physicality of the situation overriding all other conscious thoughts and reducing me to a more instinctive being alive only for the Now and aware only of the requirement for this hand to be there and the friction of the rock beneath my hands and feet. In a world where everyone is now inundated with information, interaction and mental stimulus, taking time to let all of that pass you by is one of the few pleasures I could not do without.

Thus I found myself running yesterday in the blazing sunshine of an unseasonably warm February afternoon. As the distance unfolded I had that feeling again (no, not in my left foot). Nothing was on my mind other than keeping the pace, feeling the surface beneath my feet, following my route almost by instinct. I think I could have run all day if there hadn't been other things planned. It was my first proper run in a week. Although I'd really considered waiting another seven days before going out again it felt criminal not to be doing something active given the previous twenty four hours of relaxation.

After Friday's gym session I'd headed home for a healthy meal of pizza, apples and a cereal bar before bed. Again I was woken in the night by being extraordinarily hot (something I'm getting a little worried about) but was feeling fairly rested come the morning. Rowing was noteworthy in that it was my very first time in an 8. Sitting at Bow (front of the boat) I had the opportunity to watch the mixed (in both sex and ability) crew as we pootled along the river. It now seems obvious that there are two levels of novice in the group and both sets would benefit from being separated into different boats to improve at their own pace. Still, when everyone was watching Stroke and not wobbling too much we actually had all eight people sweeping at the same time and not looking like a complete shower. Again I felt the 'click' of knowing I was using proper technique and feeling it in all coming together correctly in my movements.

Off the river I cycled home and showered and changed in record time to meet Keith and Cat who were taking the train with me to Cheshunt to see Elaine for her birthday thing. As with the rowing everything came off on time perfectly and we arrived there exactly when we were supposed to. We didn't get lost on the 2.5 mile cycle to the house and only had to wait five minutes for Elaine and friends to return with food and drink.

The party was great. It was nice to see Elaine and see how she was doing (I think she liked her present too), but while I don't believe that Going Back is impossible (everyone is in constant flux so I live more by the theory that "you can't cross the same river twice" because the water is different, but also there's nothing to stop you seeing something new on a second visit) it felt obvious that we'd both moved in different directions. Still, you can never have too many good friends. I'd hoped we would have time to chat and catch up, let each other know what'd we'd been up to for the last few years and generally have some time to chill... but there didn't seem to be a good opportunity. And then I was simply unable to keep my eyes open any longer and had to go to bed. Unfortunately I didn't actually get more than an hour's useful sleep (thank goodness I wasn't too hot in my borrowed bedding) but it was better than sitting up and being there but not part of the party proper. Sunday morning we all pitched in to tidy the house and have bacon as is right and proper for the morning after a party before before Keith, Cat and I cycled back to the station and caught the train home again, again pefectly timed. Elaine looked happy and good (as she always does) and it was lovely to be there for her birthday. Hopefully there'll be an opportunity to see her again before this time next year.

It was the point at which I got home that I felt the burning need to go for a good long run to settle my head. So I did. I'm pleased to say that although I hadn't been in a week the sessions on the ergometer seemed to have kept my cardiovascular system in good form as well as my legs. Not only that but I experienced no discomfort in my left foot whatsoever! For the first time in over a month I was able to move freely and easily for the entire route and had no twinges even after the run when Sam generously took me to Tesco to allow me to pick up some of the more bulky purchases I need to make once in a while. As I said I will give myself another week of ergo rather than running and then think about how I am going to juggle both for the remainder of Spring and the upcoming Summer. Barring accident or injury (here's hoping (you know, not to have any of either)) I think this is the year I could really get myself into shape.

Having had a perfectly-timed arrival home to meet Sam and similarly precise Tesco trip Sam and I met Cat who we'd intended to take to the cinema to meet an ever-growing amount of people for an evening of films and and eating. Unfortunately she'd witnessed someone tearing the numberplate from an almost certainly stolen motorcycle and had to spend an hour and a half giving a statement to the police. Happily she was then given a lift to the cinema complex to meet us all afterwards. Everyone else (including Andy and Ritu who'd driven up for the evening) met to see Cloverfield and... another film which I forget. Following that we ate, laughed and caught up on each other's activites before going our separate ways.

I have to say the weekend in retrospect has to be one of the most satisfyingly punctual and organised (without being overplanned) sequence of events I can remember. All things considered there are very many less enjoyable ways to spend a few dozen hours. Of course I woke last night in all kinds of unkemptness again so took a trip to see the doctor this morning who advocated buying a thermometer to look into whether I simply have a fever caused by some kind of latent 'flu, which my overly enthusiastic exercise regime is keeping most of the symptoms of at bay, or something more interesting. Following that I spent some time helping someone with a weird Xen networking issue under SuSE 10.2 (run the Xen network-bridge script and lose networking to the Dom0, stop it and network connectivity returns) and then popped into the gym for the Monday ergo session (1:57.2/500m split average, 23:20 for 6km) before heading to work to start the week. Usefully nothing much has happened yet. It's nice to have a quiet start. There's new servers and disk packs arriving at some point this week. I can't wait to get my teeth into some more real work!

08/02/2008
[16:40] I should have left ten minutes ago but I was watching a film. It has been that kind of day really. It wasn't a whole film, just the last little bit I'd missed. Anyway, last night was Cormac's Chinese New Year meal at a local Chinese place we know. Cormac goes there so regularly that he gets free food on occasion and knows the proprietor so well that they're on first name terms. Twenty of us turned up and emptied the place of sake. I think the total bill was in excess of £521, with more than half of it being drink. One of the better nights I've been out, I must say. Happily I had a lift home and didn't wake in the middle of the night in the same state as I had the previous two. I did wake (at exactly the same time) but without the same ancillary effects. I'm currently putting it down to not having had a carbohydrate load and/or chocolate just before getting my head down as I did the other times. We'll see what happens this evening when I have a pizza rather than pasta when I get back from the gym.

The email I sent which I mentioned yesterday or the day before had exactly the right reception, which was brilliant. Maybe that was another reason I slept better, who knows. Now I just need to wait a week or more and see if things pan out in a helpful way.

I had my appraisal this morning. No payrise for me this year it seems. Boo to that. Still, given the amount of work that I've just done and the amount that's going to be available in the next 12-18 months I think if I pull my finger out just a little there's every chance that next time around it'll be easy to get things in motion.

Speaking of getting things in motion I should get my ass in such and get to the gym. This is the first time I'll have gone twice in a day. I'm rather looking forward to it actually. Having done a damned good ergo at lunch time (23:30 for 6km, averaging 1:57.09/500m mostly) I'm still feeling pretty energetic and so forth. I'm actually glad I won't be running for another week as I'll have the opportunity to do another few sessions. Only not Wednesday as that's the final trip to the hospital to do that trial thing. That one'll be in an fMRI while I do the tests.

Tomorrow is rowing, then a quick cycle back, shower and then down to London for a birthday party of an ex. I think it's going to be a smidgen odd, but not so much as I'm probably expecting. It'll be lovely to see her anyway, after so long. A lot has happened to us both since we last met. I wonder how much of it we'll actually relate to each other.

07/02/2008
[11:20] So someone just pointed out an article in the Times. I offer it for you to read without comment.

I intend to be busy today showing a visitor from another department how the basics of our Xen stuff slots together, in fact he's just this second phoned to say he's on his way. If I get caught up in it I may not be around for the rest of the day.

Tonight is Cormac's Chinese New Year meal thingy so everyone'll be heading there this evening. I'm hoping whatever's in the food is different to what I've eaten before bed for the last two nights. Interrupted sleep of the kind I've had isn't favourite. At least I hope it's the food. It might be something to do with the mixture of exercise and stuff that's been on my mind lately. We'll see what tonight brings.

[17:10] The Xen discussion went fairly well, and I've been trying to keep myself hydrated all afternoon in an effort to see if it affects how I sleep tonight. As a result of how I've been feeling I don't think I'm going to have any sake this evening, which is a real shame as I think that'd be nice. Maybe I'll have some and make sure it's well before I go to bed. Yeah. I don't think I'll be overeating at any rate. What I also really want is my lips to stop being so chapped, and a decent night's sleep. More on this tomorrow, when I also have my appraisal. I should knock something together with regards to the things I've done and the things I want to do. It's not really something I've ever put much store in, but it'd be nice to show the things I've done in the past year and see if it merits a payrise, which would be nice considering the jump in mortgage payments (even taking into account the interest rate drop today).

Anyway I should go home via the hole in the wall and prepare the house for my chauffer to the meal/house guest for the evening.

06/02/2008
[17:00] Let's see, what's happened recently? Well I went to the gym last night and had a damned good session. I think I'm definitely not addicted to exercise at the moment. While I was glad that I'd gone it was tough to get myself there and a pleasure to leave. Dinner was a glorious mishmash of pasta, pancetta and baked beans. Tasty and so full of carbohydrates it's a surprise to me why I haven't turned into some kind of carb monster by now. I wonder if my laziness in getting to Tesco is something to do with my body making sure I only eat pasta for dinner to help me recover from all the exercise I'm doing in a kind of unconscious display of control. Anyway, that and a few chocolate biscuits (which seem to survive for weeks in my house) saw me through until bed time. I'd like to think I had less sugar, fat, etc. in the amount of biscuits I ate than in the amount of pancakes I'd have eaten if there'd been someone to have them with. I just this second remembered last year's completely excellent blowout and am now wondering what'll happen this time next year. I like these little milestones in the year, it gives me a chance to look through old entries (something I rarely to never do otherwise) and see what happened in the past. We're coming up on nine years of Journal now and the amount of experiences I've recounted here (albeit sometimes a little hyperbolically and cryptically) is astonishing, even to me. I'm sure I'll wax a little more lyrically on it another time, but even looking over the last twelve months there's been an awful lot happen to me. And almost all of it good!

My, that was a big paragraph. All this one contains is that sentence and my decision to go climbing this evening... Actually no, there's also me telling you that I made it to the gym for ergo work again this lunch time (only four minutes late back this time), lots of documentation writeup (sometimes you really do get in the zone for that) and the fact that I had some chat with one of the Windows admins about running Nessus scans on the Windows servers at some point (hopefully not making them lock up totally this time around). Oh, and I sent a difficult email this morning. We'll have to see what the fallout from that is tomorrow. I think that's it now, my brain is empty (as per usual I hear some of you saying) of relatable information, especially after a rare and smileworthy conversation with those overseas.

05/02/2008
[16:15] Eeek, stayed up just a little bit too late last night. Funnily I don't seem to be suffering for it at all. The first half of the evening was a fab dinner eating large chunks of meat and rice. A good bit of meat is required every so often, I find. Part of me really wishes I'd gone to bed earlier, it'd make today much easier to deal with. Or maybe it wouldn't, I get the feeling I need to sit down and have a good think about things for the next short while to get all kinds of issues sorted out.

Popped out for a Mexican with Cormac at lunch time. This is what happens when someone recommends that I have breakfast, I end up famished by the time it's 12:00. This afternoon I actually had no idea what I was supposed to be doing. In fact I feel a bit adrift in many senses of the word. Hopefully in the next few days I can work out what's happening and make some decisions which'll get me on a more even keel here and there. You know, as and when, as required, where necessary, for this and that.

I saw Million Dollar Baby last night and now really wish I'd seen it on the big screen when I'd had the chance. Definitely one of the better films I've been able to watch in recent memory. It brought home to me in a way I've not felt in a long time some of the "there but for the grace of..." feelings I get when I see people doing the same activites with an element of risk that I do and coming a cropper. Often in unfixable ways. It doesn't stop me doing those activities, but it reminds me to be as careful and safety-consious as possible. A good reminder and an excellent film. Brought home even more so by Swank's character being the same age as me.

In a complete lack of change to the schedule I will be going to the gym this evening and then going home to have a similar lack of pancakes. I'd actually forgotten it was Shrove Tuesday today. Only a phone call on the weekend from Linda and Shaun reminded me. Unfortunately I was busy last night when they'd offered to have me over.

I guess that's about it for today. This entry has been sitting in my editor since 11:20 this morning and I've only just got it into a state I'm happy about posting. I feel I should be a lot happier than I am right now, all things considered. I guess life is just a bit more complicated than that.

04/02/2008
[12:45] Saturday was pretty brilliant. Following Friday's good gym session I was very much in the mood for rowing. Happily it wasn't too cold out on the water and all the people with skill levels similar to me turned up so we got to go out in a Four for the very first time. A lot of our usual coaches were at the Nene Head so we had two guys we'd not met before. This turned out to be excellent and the first session where I've really felt all the components of a complete and proper sweep stroke come together for me. We had a whale of a time and no-one noticed the cold or the time. I think we would have carried on all afternoon if we'd been allowed.

As it was I went home, got changed and headed out to a running shoes shop on the edge of town where, for the first time ever, I had my gait analysed. OK, so it was a by a spotty oik half my age but he seemed to know what he was doing and brought out a succession of shoes which seemed to provide me with the right support such that repeated analyses showed my pronation decreasing and my foot positioning generally looking better. I left the shop with a pair of new shoes and hopes for Sunday. Sunday morning came and I pulled on the shoes and went for my long run (not noticing until I returned that this is exactly what you're not supposed to do first time out in new footwear). I'd say for at least 80% of the route my feet were perfectly fine and I felt so pleased that I'd solved the foot issue. Then my left foot started aching again in the same place. I made it home without it feeling too bad at all but in the hours following it cranked up to its usual just-about-noticable discomfort. Following advice from a sensible and lovely person I've decided to take a two week (rather than one) break from running and concentrate on doing ergo stuff instead. This has the twofold benefit of a) keeping my cardiovascular exercise up and, b) being something I really need to do some more of if I'm going to get better at rowing, stamina-wise. Today is the first day I try going at lunch time.

So, back from running I lazed about the house for a while, had breakfast and then popped out to a local museum to see a friend. Surprisingly it's the first time I've been to the place in the eight or so years since I've lived here. I should have gone sooner. I'll definitely go back. As it was starting to get dark and I had no lights I cycled home in a rush and decided that I needed to at least attempt some housework this weekend. What the attempt turned into was a complete spring clean of the kitchen except for the cooker (which I intend to do shortly). Ceiling corner cobwebs, declutter the work surfaces, wash all surfaces and cupboard doors, all the metalwork on the sink and the floor. The place doesn't look much different but it feels cleaner. I'll finish it off next Sunday I think, when I'm back from London.

This morning I've been reinstalling someone else's workstation with a newer version of RHEL, remounting our old but workhorse-like V280R (I thought we were going to get rid of it personally) in preparation for it being matched with a shiny new StorageTek 2540 and generally catching up on emails. Right now though I'm going to see if I can get to the gym, erg, shower and be back inside of an hour.

[16:15] Well, that seems to work fairly well, so long as I keep with almost military-like precision to my timings. I did exactly 25 minutes on the ergo (clocking up about 6.2km) had a shower and was back at work only seven minutes over the hour mark. I think if I'm careful this might work. At least for the next two weeks until I feel ready to get my feet pounding again. In the mean time here's to improving my rowing stamina! I'm fairly certain I retained good form for 90% of the time I was rowing today and I could tell when I was and how much less strain I put on my body as a result. Rowing is brilliant! I'm so glad I was introduced and encouraged into it.

This afternoon I've sorted someone's new installation, including getting SMB/CIFS mounts working under RHEL5 when things have changed since earlier revisions of RHEL. I've got things happening this evening, so I should probably get on.

01/02/2008
[16:40] OK, quite entry as I'm a bit rushed for time. Those who came over last night watched The Island with me. Pretty formula-ridden but the amount decent stars in it should have lifted above the ordinary somewhat. They didn't. The food was nice though. Not in the film, from the delivery place.

I've been doing tiny but numerous jobs all day today and educating someone in things I thought were obvious over thirty years ago. Now I'm going to go to the gym and then home to eat vegetables and thing about the weekend. A weekend which currently seems bereft of everything except rowing and trainer shopping. I really hope I can go for a run on Sunday. It's annoying to feel that doing so is going to do me more harm than good.