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31/03/2008
[17:15] Certainly a packed few days and no mistake. There's basically been more than I can work out how to retell so I'm going to have to just let you guess and think up something wild and totally out of character for me. Maybe it'll involve inflatable walruses and large bars of chocolate. Who knows? Suffice it to say my illness went away, I did some cycling, some walking, some eating and drinking and even got to see some Malian/Jazz fusion music performed live at the Barbican followed by a classical concert at St Martin in the Fields the following evening. Some museums, some more food, snow, rain, wind and sun. I talked a lot, listened a lot and even ate some kedgeree that was over four days old (with no ill effects, literally). Aside from feeling a bit down on Sunday I managed to buck someone up tremendously using only a muffin (raspberry and white chocolate) and my own incredibly positive outlook on life. Not only that but I did it while still recovering from the sudden vacuum after a week full of fun and time off. Of course, it turns out this morning that I was giving false hope for the person responsible, but it did grant them another day's worth of feeling a bit better about things. I do my best.

Today I very nearly missed a meeting owing to desperately needing to get to my ergo session and the UPS engineer overrunning (hell, I didn't even know he was due today). As it was the standard 30min session nearly killed me after yesterday's 12.7km run and a week of very little regular-style exercise off the back of being ill. I made it back to work about 30 seconds before I was required to be in the meeting. Talk about cutting it fine. Here's hoping that after tonight's little run and the rest of the week's easing (ha, me easing?) back into exercise again I'll be capable of getting the most out of Seville at the weekend. As it is I've an awful lot to think about, keep straight and generally work through in my head. I'm just feeling damned lucky that one important thing I had to do yesterday went off pretty much as well as could be expected. Here's hoping that the rest of my life is as easy to deal with. Somehow, I don't think it will be. But I live in hope.

26/03/2008
[11:10] I lied I'm here (all week, try the veal!) today too. I'm feeling a little better but stymied from exercise by the strong feeling that exerting myself in a bout of extremely stressful physical activity could cause a relapse in my throat status and general energy levels. As it is I'm now just dealing with my throat healing and some residual issues which I hope to purge from my system in short order. I'm still far too hot at night which isn't quite the problem I thought it'd be but definitely isn't pleasant.

The food went over well last night which was a relief, even if my 'never fail' white sauce failed utterly until it was rescued by my dinner guest and the use of my hand mixer. I'm back at work because it turns out that there's far more exciting things in the place they were yesterday and More Time Is Required. I guess this means I can do some stuff with the new APC software and figure out just how much installing is is going to break versions of the Java JRE I have already on the machines. As it is I've passed the information on to the Windows team (with the standard obtuse response) but I still have to deal with a new technique for (uninstallation), installation and 'silent' installation. This may take more than a morning's thought and experimentation.

This afternoon I plan to eat well, cycle around and do some walking. No climbing (unfortunately) but then there's always time for that indoor stuff later. I really won't be back again before Monday this time.

25/03/2008
[15:30] OK, so it has been an interesting couple of days since Friday so I guess I will fill you in on some of the more salient details. For starters my sore throat developed into something truly evil which still hasn't completely cleared up. It got so bad that my temperature reached the (literally) dizzying heights of 39.5 degrees centigrade. Suffice it to say this was not comfortable, especially in bed at night. Happily my house guest who arrived on Saturday morning (and didn't even let me collect them from the station but made there own way to my place) was pretty happy with the limited amount of things I was capable of doing, especially when the snow started coming down and it really was going to be much nicer to stay indoors. I've done a bit of the old tour guide thing, cycled to a pub or two for lunch and spent a goodly amount of time chatting away about this and that. Eventually we might even come to some conclusions about things. There's some museum visiting planned and some general fun to be had in the meantime. Right now they're in town doing research at one of the libraries (reason they came here) and we'll meet up again afterwards. I may even cook kedgeree this evening. I have, however, been told to have something else on standby in case it's just doesn't appeal. I have to say given that its been a long time since I cooked for anyone and the kind of taste my kedgeree comes out with it's a good job I've made this a few times and I can whip something else up quickly. Still, at least the lunch burrito was met with approval.

With being ill and busy being a host I've had no time (and will have no time) to do any regulated exercise this week. Other than Friday it doesn't look like there's been any rowing recently so I should only be missing next weekend's outings and some 2K tests in the meantime. Nothing, I think, I should be too worried about. What I really want to make sure is that my hands are healed and my throat and body are ready for the strain I'm going to put them under in Seville in a week and a bit. Anyway, that's about it for now. Happy birthday to Sam, I've some serious emails to consider writing (I may put them off a little longer) and then the end of the day will be here! No more entries before next Monday I imagine. This is my vacation after all.

21/03/2008
[20:40] I wasn't going to do a journal entry today but then I figured I'd finished all of my housework, been shopping and even had some dinner, so I thought why not. So, my throat hurts, quite a lot. Rowing and cycling across Cambridge in the driving wind and cold weather probably didn't help.

However this morning was probably the best ever rowing session I've had to date. I was up nice and early (blame the sore throat) and down at the boat house to bank party for my squad's coach and three other people in two Doubles while they tooled up and down the river a few times. Then it was I and the squad's turn. In the strong wind (which had nearly blown me into the water off the tow path a few times while cycling with the safety stuff) we set out and were very quickly rowing in pretty steady sixes. After that it seemed obviously that we should try to row as an eight again. Previous attempts hadn't gone well. This time we pretty much nailed it. In addition to that we began feathering again for the first time since we got out of sculls and into a sweep boat. In fact so good did we appear to be (through no active skill) putting everything together that we found not trailing our blades (cleavers for the first time too and in the first team's lightweight boat, talk about lots of new things at the same time) on the water during the recovery to be somehow better for setting the boat. No, I have no idea why, but suffice it to say we went out as eight people in a boat and came back with a solid foundation upon which to base a (half) decent rowing eight. And I was back in 7 seat again. Brilliant!

Other than that... well, shopping, housework, relaxation, stupid sore throat and mild nervousness about this and that. Still, Easter is here and it's time to have some time off fun. I hope you get to have some too.

20/03/2008
[16:00] It's an ugly day outside at the moment. I know this because I've just walked all the way back from town to work again. The reason was because I was running the server diganostics CD on our problematic machine. Sun rang this morning and pretty much stated that they have no idea what's wrong with it. Off the record a few of us on both sides of the phone think that the ECC stuff eventually couldn't deal with the amount of crap coming off the bad RAM and the machine choked on its dummy. So, after having lunch in town with Chris and Ben I headed down the street and rebooted the server with the CD in. This takes about ten minutes owing to the fact that the CD probes every one of the four network interfaces and tries to get a DHCP address on each. Obviously this isn't going to work. Couple that with the fact that one of the tests causes the diagnostics GUI to die (requiring a reboot to get it back again) and the fact that the AMDECC check for 32GB takes a long time and you find me standing around in a server room for a goodly amount of the afternoon. I only had to boot the CD about three times, but that was two times more than I wanted to. Results? Server seems fine, as do the fibre channel cards. Just as I thought. Now we soak test the I/O channels for a while and consider bringing it back into server some time next week or the week after in our next vulnerable period.

Happily there were some soapy wipes in the server room so I was able to get the thick chain grease on my hands off before touching anything. On the way from lunch to the server room I'd seen a rather pretty girl looking at her bike with some consternation. Despite (or because of) the rain I decided to help her (yeah, what?). The chain had come off her highest (smallest) gear and become jammed between the cassette and the rear dropout (the point at which you tighten the wheel to the frame). It took both my hands, her holding the bike and a lot of elbow grease (no pun intended) to get all the links free. She thanked me profusely and I sent her on her way. All I had to do then was get through a few doors and get my hands clean before I left incriminating marks all over the shop.

Walking back to work was a chance to listen to some tracks which've been echoing around my head somewhat these last few days. Nice tunes, they make me smile. Unfortunately, I'm not 100% smiling today because despite good climbing last night and a confirmed rowing outing tomorrow (no work for me tomorrow or Monday) I woke up this morning with a really sore throat. This is usually a confirmation of Phase 1 of my standard three-phase cold symptoms. I so do not need a cold right now. In fact any time but now would be OK. Still, I'll manage.

It's a standard Thursday this evening, although people may want it to last a bit longer because no-one's working tomorrow. I have to be down at the boathouse for around about 08:20 to be bank party for a Double scull our coach is going out in before our outing. I've been put at 4 this time, which should be interesting as I've not done much stroke-side work recently.

Now I think about it this is my last entry before Tuesday. It's going to be an interesting and quite likely fun-packed next four days. I'm looking forward to it immensely. Better get on and do some stuff before I get out of here. Have a good Easter.

19/03/2008
[17:00] Today was a much better day. Not to be too swingy back and forth about this but I think it's probably something to do with my mood and how busy I am. We've had some more contact with Sun and have been assigned another engineer for a day or so while our current one is on holiday. I wish I was, I wish I'd thought to think about the fact I had Friday off sooner too. Ah well, it'll make Saturday all the sweeter I guess. Not only that but now I can go rowing on the actual water on Friday and feel so much less bad about missing two Saturdays and two Sundays in a row (no pun intended).

The Sun engineer has been in semi-regular contact throughout the day but hasn't come up with anything new yet despite asking me for more sosreport information from the server in question. I'm about to head home so I can get climbing half an hour or so earlier than normal so I'm not going to be around if she (the engineer) calls me.

In other news I finished my second story, and I'm damned pleased with it. I also managed 7727m on my lunchtime ergo too. I should go, there's things to be done this evening!

18/03/2008
[17:15] Feeling quite flat today. Still no joy from Sun. Our call has been sidescalated (a new word I just this second made up) to SAN Support too. This means we have Hardware, Software, Storage and SAN Support teams purportedly all working on it now. And still, despite it being a P1 call, we have no joy. I really don't think we're going to get to fail back out of DR this week. Which is a shame as I'm only in work for Tuesday of next week and everyone's off on Friday and Monday because it's Easter. Right now I'm sitting alone at work until 17:30 at which point it will be obvious that the engineer assigned to the case has himself buggered off for the day. At which point I will sigh gently and pedal slowly to the gym in the rain.

Otherwise... I don't know really. Things all seem a bit grey here right now. Not just the weather but almost everything else too. I'd like some excitement back in my life. It's up to me to put it there so I'm making efforts to do so. No-one else can do it for me. There're some brilliant rays of sunshine coming soon I think, but they'll be fleeting. Life basically seems to consist of a series of dis/unconnected opportunities for short term distraction as far as I can work out.

Yes, I know, life's obviously not that bad. Obviously. There's all kinds of brilliant things happening that I can be and am a part of at the moment. I just wish they were happening now, damnit.

17/03/2008
[16:50] Today wasn't crap, despite me expecting it to be. This is probably because I refused to have a Sun engineer come out to fit a part in the server when we don't know what it'll do and whether it's worth it. This meant I got to go rowing at lunch time. Maybe it was yesterday's circuit training and the run but I was way off my best. Saturday started well with the planned two 30 minute pulls at UT2. We dropped the strokes per minute to 19 and ended up with some good distances around about 7200m. I spent the middle of the day relaxing before Joel and Nicky (the owners and operators (among others) of http://www.fotopic.net/) came by with their children and we took a walk around town in an effort to drain some energy from the children before dinner. It didn't seem to work. It so much didn't seem to work that little Ellie bounced around so much she lost her dinner over the back seat of the car. I won't tell you the details. Suffice it to say I washed my hands a lot later on. Still, a lovely meal with lovely people.

Sunday morning saw the remains of the overnight rain storm abating as I got to the boat house. Unfortunately the river was too high (over the banks outside the boathouses) for us to be allowed to launch. This was frustrating considering I won't get on the water again now until Serville in early April. Still, we did out 2.5km warmup and then spent about an hour or so doing circuits at nine stations we set up in the boat bays. I left feeling at least like I'd had a good workout. Staying with the active/productive vibe I had a shower and then cleaned and tidied the entire house except the biggies (kitchen and bathroom). I'll save those for two nights this week. It feels good to be getting the place in some kind of order. Not just because I have a visitor, but because it's nice to have the place feeling clean not just tidy. That ate up much of the rest of the day along with going for my regular Sunday 12.7km run and calling my brother on his birthday along with other communications.

In an effort to get early nights this week I had a fairly early dinner of more steak than I had been expecting and then after a sensible amount of time got my head down. This resulted in me being quite bright eyed and bushy tailed this morning which probably would have meant I'd have been able to deal with the Sun engineer if repeated phone calls to Sun and him hadn't put paid to that. Like I said though, I got to do my Monday ergo work, even if my calves ached and I felt generally quite bodily tired. Maybe I should do some more circuits if they have this kind of effect on me, i.e. they make me ache in a way which means I've worked harder than the usual status quo.

I'm off home shortly to work on some more writing (or leave it for an evening) and perhaps clean some more of the house, then there's Thai food and pleasant company for the evening.

14/03/2008
[16:10] Something of a better day today. Not with regard to the broken box which remains up, ECC error free but still suspect in its fibre channel cardedness, but because the sun is shining and basically the day is going so much better. It's probably something to do with it starting very well right from the off (as in very early in the morning). On top of that my lunch time row was a new personal best, there's a nice dinner planned for Monday and the weekend is going to be full of rowing. I'm not even particularly bothered by the massive amount of housework I really need to get done because I also know my fridge is full of nice food to eat and there's a fair chance I'll make something good of it all.

So yeah, you might have noticed a bit of a change to my outlook versus yesterday. What can I say, life has its ups and downs and I'm not hiding the downs when they occur. Otherwise my move from PINE to ALPINE is now complete and seems to have gone well. On the surface there's nothing different to my usage (except it's a little slower sometimes because the machines I'm on now are much more loaded) but I now have the option of secure webmail if I really want it. That and better role functionality, which I never used to use, but should.

Right now I'm actually installing Check Point's Connectra SW software on our usual sacrificial box (ziggy, a slightly overused Sun V20z) and getting to grips with the slightly slow web GUI. We have high hopes for it replacing Netilla though. Especially as we use CP for our firewall solution and this thing should slot into it quite well.

Last night's Thursday went well. We're still using the £50+ of pizza and get 50% off deals so there was plenty to eat. We watched a hand-made film called The Gamers (don't ask) and The Whole Nine Yards which is good for some cheap laughs. It is! Shush! Anyway, given the kind of week I've had and the weekend in prospect, not to mention the late night I got last night I think I'l going to toddle off to the gym in twenty minutes or so and then head home to eat the remainder of my pizza, garnished with vegetables. Have a good weekend.

13/03/2008
[10:35] Made a silly mistake this morning. Almost the classic definition of a school boy error. You wonder why I'd make it, again. Yet I did. Also had someone from the Council come and tell me that it'd be cheaper for me to get my own loft insulated than get a grant-assisted visit from them. At least I found out, eh?

The web team have managed to lock up one of my servers so I've just been into the server room to power cycle it. It's currently fsck'ing. Hopefully it'll be OK after the next reboot. Being in work until late last night meant that I had to miss out on climbing. This was probably a good idea as the day really had drained me somewhat. Meeting Cormac and Steph at the Chinese for food was pretty much the best thing that could have happened in the circumstances and we ended up having a short meal and conversation watching some television. I went to bed shortly afterwards after having checked my email and found rather nice things in it.

Oh crap. The server needs another fsck and probably another reboot. I wonder what the guys have done to it...

... Ah damnit, I'm all off my rhythm now. And I was doing so well. The server's fixed (I think), I'm just back about three squares on the board from where I thought I was. Stupid snakes and ladders game.

Haircut in two and a half hours or so, then the Sun engineer (if the part arrives in time). Maybe I can get back on the horse again in short order.

[13:45] I got my hair cut. This was a more cathartic experience than I was expecting. How curious. Next up, having had lunch, the Sun engineer and the server of great brokenness.

[17:50] What a bastard of an afternoon. Really, truly ugly. First off I was getting no joy from Sun as to what the hell was going on and why we were having the work done that we were. Is it a hardware problem, software, driver, OS-hardware interaction? What? Then the whole Nessus licensing thing came back to bite me in the ass, then I had to dash out to get my haircut and come back again with no time to eat my lunch at a normal human pace. As soon as I was back I took the time to move my mail over from one system to another seeing as I was running out of quota and it was supposed to be a seamless and nigh on instantly occuring thing (subject to the amount of mail you have) but that broke in interesting ways which I couldn't fix because I was required to drop everything and drive into town with the Sun engineer who'd just arrived to fix the server. Once we got there (car set covered in cigarette ash, cabin smelling like an ashtray, car park full, walk, faff) it turns out he doesn't know which fibre channel card to change, but that's OK because he's not been given the right one anyway. He also doesn't know which RAM slots are which and blames all of this on us running linux, not Solaris. So there we are both spending time on phones talking to different people trying to get something sorted out. He's looking to get some Clue, I'm telling people that the HBA replacement isn't going ahead and it's all gone a bit Pete Tong. Finally we get the RAM changed and spend some more time fiddling about getting the thing booted again (I've only just realised that the RAID 1 was degraded and has only just come back into sync again). He's still on the phone trying to get joy from Sun as to which card to change and why the hell he's even doing it. He doesn't get any. We leave and end up spending about an hour in traffic getting back to the office where I have to spend about another hour unpicking the mostly-my-fault mess I made of moving my mail to where it should have been for the past eight years.

And in the middle of all of this I still have time to think about the wrong things and generally just mess myself around for no good reason. I need... something... in the worst way. Maybe I'll just go home and sort things out later on tonight. I'm going home, before I break something.

12/03/2008
[11:10] It is turning into A Day. Our live database server went down at 00:22 this morning. I noticed it at 07:00 when I got up and did my morning email check. In by 07:40 I was doing some post mortem work when something began to occur to me. This wasn't anything to do with the masses of ECC errors we'd been having on this box which surely shouldn't have brought it down. There was something else in the mix now. In consultation with Sun engineers and my team leader and the Operations Manager we've come to the conclusion that some kind of fibre channel issue is what took the box down and is the reason we've had the Devil's own time getting it back up again. Couple that with linux's puppy dog eager-to-please desire to spot a LUN you've specifically not told it about and try to mount it (see how the dog metaphor still works?) and you can imagine the kind of mess that we're in at the moment. We were trying to rush the RAM arriving before we realised that it wasn't the reason the box died. I have it in my hot hands as I type this (sorry if this creates typos) but given we've now invoked DR (Disaster Recovery) there's no rush for me to go into town (through the massive gale outside) by bike and get it installed. I get the feeling that we're going to get one or possibly two fibre channel cards sent out before the end of the week.

You know what really gets my goat though? Despite blowing myself away at the gym last night, I might miss today's ergo session because of this. Still, there's climbing this evening and I did do a 5km pull last night before I left the gym anyway. In other news I've moved the squad's training spreadsheet to Google Documents for transparency and 'update anywhere' convenience. If it was only my data I'd tell you where but it's not, so I won't.

Back to staring at log files and wondering what the hell is happening to this machine. Oh, also our subscription to the Nessus direct feed ran out at the beginning of the month. This wasn't supposed to happen. I'm on the case though. Or have at least requested a reason for this turn of events from the purchasing person... who just this second came into the room and let me know the state of play. It's not our/her fault. This is one bit of at least neutral news for today. All I need now is something to eat (it'll have to be post row now) and some time to get a handle on everything else going on in my life which isn't so much hectic as... just taking too long right now.

[19:15] Yup another late one. After my row at lunch time (a fabulous, if tiring 7712m) I've had my ear stuck to the phone trying to get some joy from Sun on this server which as ben causing us so much hassle. As far as we can tell it's some kind of fibre channel card issue, but no-one seems to know quite what or how. The upshot is (because I want to go home and have something to eat and you really don't want a blow by blow account) is that there's a Sun engineer coming in tomorrow around about 14:30 to come down with me to the server room where this box is and we're going to see if a new card'll help and take a look at what the issue might be. I can also put in the new RAM while I'm at it. Before that I've got a haircut to get to and back from and first thing in the morning a visit from someone who may be doing me some City Council grant-aided loft insulation. Another packed day considering I've also got a pile of work to do, people to think about, or not and the standard DVD evening of great enjoyment to stay awake and sane for in the evening. I better go before I fall asleep at my desk.

11/03/2008
[14:45] So last night I started writing. It's not something I've done in a long long time and quite frankly I was a little wary of starting again. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since I last pulled on that particular cap and settled down to it. I was both surprised and amused to note that the old 1,000 yard stare came back without any prompting and before I knew it I'd been at it for two hours without a break. I'm not entirely sure that the first draft was worthy of reading. In fact I'm not entirely sure the actual plot actually sits well within the bounds of what I wanted to achieve, yet it is what was/is in my head. As such it's what I'm working with. I think it has potential. All I need ("all" he says) is polish it, add more texture and bring it alive with my enthusiasm and visual aspects (something I'd like to think I have more than anything else). As for criticism it'll only be read by one person and it's that criticism that I'll fear the most because I can't hide from it for all kinds of reasons. Still, writing is definitely something that I've rested on my laurels with regard to for too long.

I offered to take a seat in the veteran VIII boat again this evening and again lost out to someone more experienced. Not a bother, just nice to know that the cox felt I was worth considering. I've replaced a disk this morning, run all kinds of diagnostics on one of our x4600 M2 servers which has been throwing about a bazillion ECC memory errors and published my first document (a spreadsheet) on Google Documents. There's been some discussion on new instances on the load balancers but they've become bogged down in the reguester not having all the information he needed to give us a complete set of things to plug in... and even now that I've done a whole lot of talking to him he still hasn't got it. I'm getting a headache, and I don't get headaches as a rule. Gym tonight, then home for more writing.

10/03/2008
[19:20] Yup, this is a late one. I've been working late on writing something important and once you're on a roll you tend to lose track of time. Yes, I could have done it tonight at home or any one of another days within the next few weeks but sometimes the mood take you and you have to go with it. I'm fairly pleased with the result. Of course, given the fact I completed my task so quickly I may as well carry on with more at a later date.

Anyway, to the weekend in retrospect! Saturday was rowing in high winds. That was exciting. When you've got eight blades acting as sails and not everyone is quite perfect at setting the boat you can tend to lean to one side or the other for a lot of the time. I succeeded in keeping my mouth shut for the whole outing which was a remarkable achievement (possibly aided by not being surrounded by people who weren't also completely perfect at the English language either). It turns out that the coach rows at 3 too, so I don't imagine he's putting me there as punishment (I'm smiling as I write this, just so you know). The wind meant that we had to cut the outing short as, when you're turning an VIII around, slipping about 20m downwind side in is not a good thing. We decided to reconvene on the Sunday (a race day) and so some stamina work instead. I popped to Tesco and was settling down for the evening when Sam sent me a text saying she wasn't able to give me a lift to Ian's old job leaving do. I knew there'd been something stopping me going out of town and it turns out this (planned long ago) was it. Suddenly being reminded caused me to get on my bike and pedal over there in a burst of panic as I'd completely forgotten about it. Of course, arriving five minutes early as is my habit I found I was first there. A good time was had by all anyway, before I came home. It was something of a late night (as seems to be the sitation for me at the moment, not that I mind at all) but I still was up and about and down at the boat house for well before 09:00. Those who turned up put in two 30 minute ergo sessions with a ten minute break in between. Seeing as we're being entered for our very first race in six weeks and there's this Serville thing coming up soon it seemed rather necessary that I be in attendance. As unofficial coach for the session I was pleased to see that everyone got a better time on the second pull. I headed home in a good mood and decided to face an even tougher task of tidying the garage (the first in a whole house clean to make it look a bit more presentable). Half way through that I was texted by Kate, wondering if I was free to come with her and her mum to pick a new laptop to replace the one which she'd destroyed with coffee. Given that the voucher card thing was only valid in PC World I went along to run interference between them and the assistants. In the end there were nineteen interruptions as they worked their way through the models with my help. I'm firmly of the belief that they came away with the best model for what was required. This act of chivalry netted me a free lunch (TANSTAAFL) before I walked home from town in the sunny-but-changable weather. After doing some more housework I decided that I wasn't dead enough yet and went for my usual 12.7km run, completing it in a possible personal best close to 55 minutes. Only then did I shower and relax for the rest of the evening. All in all a rather full and fun weekend. My only regret is not making it out of town to a good friend's get-together. With luck and a following wind something good'll happen soon in that regard.

That was a long paragraph. It'll look even more so when all I do is tell you that today I've dealt with ECC RAM errors in one server, a failed disk in another and been for a row at lunch which nearly killed me. Time for home now!

07/03/2008
[16:45] I broke 7700m for 30 minutes at 20 strokes per minute yesterday! Not only that but I broke it again (better) today! Something of a milestone for me. The next one is a steady set of 7750m+ results and then I move on up. I love the feeling of power when the posture and the style are locked in and I can feel all the energy and strength to spare on each push of my legs.

So yesterday I went straight from work to the gym and did my personal best row and then headed home. A good few of the usual crew turned up and we watched Stardust which was exactly as good as I'd heard (this is a positive) and was very obviously connected with Neil Gaiman. His fingerprints were all over it. I'm ashamed to say I had pizza (some of which is waiting for me in the fridge when I get home) which didn't seem to agree with the oddly upset stomach I had after my rowing stint. Not muscle pain but upsettedness. So, yes, pizza probably not the best idea. Still, it was lovely to have it for the first time in ages.

Sleep wasn't great and I ended up waking early. So really, it wasn't bad but too short. Normally that indicates stress. Oddly I'm quite unstressed at the moment. Lots of things are settling down for me, which is nice. It's also a bit sad. But you know, in that way that isn't quite so bad as you thought it would be. Let's just say I'm banking the fires and settling down mentally for the duration. There may be some sparks now and then, we'll see.

I've been booking things for my weekish (less than, actually) off at the end of the month as well as helping to figure out why one of our new machines was getting a load average close to 70 at 22:00ish every night. That and going through the Wireshark trace of out "only happens on a Tuesday" weirdness with one of our applications and connections to the database being torn down.

Finally, there's more rowing (I'm shocked, really?) this weekend with an outing tomorrow (looks like I'm going to be at 3 for the duration) and two 30 minute rows on Sunday on the ergo with everyone else. That's going to be a killer I think. I'm not sure everyone is going to be able to hack the second row with only a ten minute break between, but I have high hopes for fitness levels having improved since last week. Better get off and to the gym so I can relax for the rest of the evening. Have a lovely weekend whatever your pleasure.

06/03/2008
[17:00] Damn, sorry, busy day. Quick executive summary: Climbing was good, Cormac was there so we got tons done and I felt stretched to improve somewhat. Slept well, and early for once. Good working morning, lunch with Shaun and Linda (must sort out a pancake evening some time), meeting about virtualization of the web teams servers, some fiddling with musical choices and finally a rush on some work (and this) before vanishing for a 30 minute row and DVDs this evening as per. Speaking of which...!

05/03/2008
[15:25] Despite missing out on rowing today (walked to work so Cormac and I can go straight to climbing after work, therefore couldn't get to the gym and back in a lunch hour) it feels like a good day. The gym last night was really, really tough. Coming off the back of my cold, which seems to have pretty much cleared up now, I'm still just a little weaker than normal. Anyway, a big long gym session and then a 30 minute row pretty much blew me away. Not rowing today and instead doing it tomorrow after work (my normal rest day, and I can't do it at lunch time as I'm having it with Shaun and Linda) is probably better for me now I think about it.

I spent most of the evening chatting and arranging a visit from a good friend for the end of the month before heading to bed actually more energised than when I came out of the gym. Probably something to do with the beef in red wine ravioli and malt loaf (separately!) I had for dinner, obviously. I think for the next little while I'm really going to be looking after myself. What with one thing and another (rowing and other fun things) I think I'm going to have to cut back on the pizza (solidarity!) and think about getting myself into shape. Not that I'm not doing so already, but it's nice to have something to work towards.

At work today I have been mostly watching Don't Eat the Pictures and chuckling quietly to myself. There's something about the solidity and antiquity of the exhibits at the Met surrounded by Muppets to really make you appreciate the breadth of human creativity. I still think Mr Snuffleupagus sounds like he's phoning in his part, literally. He scares me a bit too...

Oh, and I've also successfully updated the firmware on the building's UPS (scary pants) and written emails. As I said, all in all it seems to be turning out to be quite a good day. Not that the update seems to have fixed the 'warmstart' messages spewing from the UPS, which is frustrating. The sun's shining too though, somewhat. Its been a while since I felt this relaxed. Maybe it's knowing that a bit of my time has some shape to it, even if it's only until the beginning of April. That and feeling that maybe I've got a handle on a few important and complicated parts of my life. Around about this time last year I was preparing to head off to Ireland for one of the best times of my life. Funny how much can happen in such a short period of time.

04/03/2008
[15:45] I nearly got to row in a veteran's VIII this evening as they needed a bowside substitute for an outing this evening. Unfortunately the person who asked was innundated with offers eventually so politely declined the offer of a novice (me). Gym for me then. No great loss.

My cold seems to be on the way out, which is good. And while I'm between exercise too, which is even better. This morning I've been trying to work out why Tuesday is the day we have lots of 500 errors happening with one of our web application (a bespoke one written in house a few years ago. This didn't used to happen but now seems to every Tuesday morning. A restart of the application seems to fix it. We're beginning to wonder if it's some kind of strange interaction between the firewall state tables and the Resin container or application itself given the number of persistent database connections the thing holds open.

I was up a bit too late last night, especially with having a cold, yet I still feel bright and cheerful today. This can only be classed as a good thing. I'm giving serious consideration to taking off over Easter for a few days (basically the end of this month) and just getting out and about on my bike for a bit and perhaps booking some B&Bs just so I'm out of town for a little while. Sometimes it'd be nice to have a car but I think a bike'll do just fine for the moment. Nothing firm as yet, but I think it might be pretty cool. I may have a friend coming over to stay too, which'll be nice, then again there's a lot of organising of work and life between now and then before that can happen.

03/03/2008
[15:35] I have another one of those monster colds I either seem to be totally impervious to or completely at the mercy of for the duration. Right now I'm most the latter. After Friday's manic gym session I settled down for a nice quiet night in and had some quality television watching for the first time in a long time. I've been dealing with a few issues here and there so it was nice to just unplug for a while and leave it all alone. Saturday morning was rowing as per so down at the boat house we grabbed an ergo each and did our first ever synchronised 10km row. Taking our stroke from Aaron (who seems to be de facto Stroke now) we kept a steady 20 strokes/min and I was pleased to find that I was at least a minute ahead of everyone when 10,000m popped up on my machine. Sunday, after the vigorousness of Saturday, was expected to be equally fun. However, aside from a pleasant lie-in in the morning I felt a bit chastened to have been moved from 7 to 3 in the boat. It turns out that the coach felt I'd been extremely uncomfortable at 7 and was trying me at the front of the boat. Aside from everyone else doing a whole lot better I have to say I really didn't enjoy being at that position for Sunday's outing. If nothing else I could see everyone else's oars and especially that of the guy in front of me who doesn't speak particularly good English or comprehend it very well when it's coming through a cox-box. In the spirit of helpfulness I would sometimes explain what was required of him, but this lead to me almost getting shouted at by the coach to shut up. I don't think I'm going to talk any more in the boat. After the debrief in the boat house I mentioned that I'd like a chance to try the Stroke seat. It turns out that Stroke is for people who don't get flustered.

Flustered. OK.

Well, obviously every seat in the boat is important so I'm just going to buckle down and see if I can't improve myself where I am such that moving me to a seat I'd prefer more makes sense to the coach. If that doesn't happen then at least I'm making the boat go faster. It's just a bit... disheartening when I think I could do the boat more good being backup for Stroke or even at Stroke. The reason I looked uncomfortable last week was because the boat was so not set it wasn't even funny and I was trying my damnedest to counteract a lot of bad positioning by other people. Damned by my own good intentions it seems. I don't know why I care so much. Maybe it's because I feel like I could do the boat more good leading than following. I also don't follow very well, as a rule.

Back from rowing I decided that a run would be a good idea given my calves were feeling quite tight. 12.7km later they were a lot looser. After a shower and a very late lunch I sat down to chill for the rest of the day and was immediately beset by sneezes, a nose running like a tap and popping ear drums. Marvellous, and probably something to do with suddenly stopping being on the go. Sunday, aside from the fact I was exercising for most of it, went down hill substantially from the intial high at the beginning.

So anyway, that was the weekend aside from a bit of fun here and there and an early night and some broken sleep. After a pleasant conversation last night and also hopefully some cooling of certain other issues I came in this morning and have been working on this and that. Nothing really grabbing my attention as yet. I've been for my ergo row (nothing brilliant, although at least my nose stopped running for the duration), had another fun chat and basically tried to keep my head together. It seems to be working.

The ordering for next week's outing has come through and I'm still being placed at 3. Oh well, onward I go.