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December's Journal
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30/01/2009
[17:20] And so to the end of January, already. I swear as I get old time is speed up. Older and older, faster and faster. At some point I'm going to be an old man and death is going to zoom right past me before I notice it. I'll be 97, hanging from a rock overhang by one hand composing an erotic tmail (thought mail) to my wife and suddenly I'll be dead. No warning whatsoever. Tcha.

Anyway, I've been mostly looking at why RHEL5.3 fails to install on a Dell Optiplex 760. It's the NIC, an Intel 82567LM-3 which doesn't seem to be supported by the initrd.img on the DVD for manual booting or the images/pxeboot for doing kickstarting. This is frustrating. It also appears that the drivers from Intel aren't working either. I intend to try some more things on Monday but for now I'm just going to go to Tesco with my girl and then home to a house where the cost of the building work is going to be less than expected... but the unanticipated next bit of work's cost is going to be really quite high. Anyway, I went for a good run today which at least stopped me from climbing the walls.

29/01/2009
[16:55] I hung around this morning and waited for the builders and the engineer to arrive. They both duly did at 08:30 and 09:00 respectively. The builders got right on with doing more sealing and beading and trimming and stuff on all of the windows. When the engineer arrived Kris and I went up on top of the garage with him to point out the problems with the wall over the window. He had a good look at it as well as all the other cracks in the house (including the big one in in the rear wall, the ones in the kitchen and all the ones inside the window upstairs). His opinion was that while there was definitely a need to install a lintel the rest of the wall could stay as, once the pressure was taken off the window (which isn't happy with the weight and is therefore allowing the brick course to sink) the mortar should be able to be repaired and that should be the end of it. This is, on the face of it, reasonably good news. Now I have to wait for his report and his bill, pay him and the builder and wait for a quote from the builder for either a lintel installation and window resetting (the small one above the main one) or to reset the window, brick up (the lower) half of the main window and get a new uPVC window for the resulting void. Once that comes in there's the sticky task of trying to see if I can get the company who fitted the windows just a little more than ten years ago to stump up the cost and/or a new window to fit the frame once bricked. That, as they say, is the million pound question. Otherwise I'm still sure I'll be looking at the thick end of £5-6,000.

Not great.

Still, work today has been very productive. I've moved over the last of the services I'm responsible for migrating and cleaned up a bit into the bargain (although there's still a huge amount of files to move off the development server at some point in the future). I've started a rebuild of a recently en-beefificated x4600M2 (maxed out on the RAM, a fibre channel card) to RHEL5.3 which has just finished as I write this. As a result I think I may go home now. After last night's 30 minute ergo session (which nearly killed me for some strange reason) and today's short (3.7km) run I think I'm entitled to slope off on time even though I was late in this morning.

Pretty good news on the house though, all things considered, eh?

28/01/2009
[11:30] While at work today (with Kris at home with the builders) I have received even more bad news. The house really is in a bad way and the builder has recommended I call and engineer (which I have, for tomorrow morning). He's going to cost money to do the survey and prepare a report. Already this morning I've called my building insurance people (no joy, but that may change with the engineer's report), my old conveyancer (who gave me some very useful legal advice on court actions and things) and the builder to find out what's happening with what I'll owe him for part-completed work.

On top of that I've got more machines to install and move around town.

Life, eh?

[17:00] At least I hope it's plainly the fault of the window fitters. I certainly could do with someone shouldering the probably hefty rebuild costs I'm going to be required to pay out in the not-to-distance future.

I've moved two x4600M2 servers today, racked three and a 2540 disk array, installed one OS and done a whole lot of system frobbing. I'm tired, I'm trying not to be stressed and I really don't want to go to the gym... but I know it really is the best thing for me to do this evening. I don't know how much the abbreviated building work is going to cost, I have this dread that the house is going to fall down any moment now and I don't know how much the engineer's visit/report is going to cost, let alone what he's going to find which will require costly work to fix. Right now I'm really wishing I hadn't been in such a rush to buy this house and I'm cursing the previous owner if he knew about this stuff when he sold it to me.

I'll be in late tomorrow as I'll be with the engineer, then doing the last of my services from the old servers to the new. This is the troublesome one where the developer has been using the samba driver for all his development work and it now totals 22GB or so. Still, after that there's only the Oracle OCM stuff to do, and that's not my bag, baby.

27/01/2009
[2009/01/28 11:20] So I'm writing this the next day because I was working from home all day yesterday. I spent the entire day finding out more and more that my house (or at least one end of it, and tiny bits of the rest) has become very badly damaged by the structural windows which the house was built with being replaced by uPVC windows. As the external brickwork didn't rest on lintels but in fact rested on those windows the window fitters should have installed a load-bearing lintel when they put in the new windows. They didn't, so the brick course has slowly been crushing the window frames and brickwork has been gaining cracks externally, the plaster's been cracking internally and the frames have been getting slowly pushed out of their frames. This is bad. On the plus side the builders have almost completely stopped the condensation in the house by dint of filling the huge cold air bridges all the way around each of the windows in the house with expanding foam. This again is the fault of the window fitters.

26/01/2009
[18:50] So today Kris is at some networking thing involving jade and museums and things like that, so I get to stay late and work and do all kinds of things that I'd normally do tomorrow except that the builder has given me less than twenty hours notice that he could start work tomorrow if I wanted. As a result I'm going to be working from home tomorrow, which hopefully will be a useful way to get some work done quietly without distraction at the same time as being around in case the builders find anything important (here's hoping they don't). Today has been spent unboxing large amounts of servers and disk array, disposing of the packaging and racking up an example of the new kit to do a kickstart on. That, plus a run, putting back a service move until Friday and some manic organising of where I and Kris should be over the next few days is pretty much what my day has consisted of today. I think on the whole its been rather productive. Oh, except that one of my monitors died this afternoon. Or not so much died as exhibited a permanent fault that many Dell models of this genre have, which is solid or flickering lines of colour down just-to-the-left of the middle of the screen. I've put in an order for a replacement of similar resolution, so we'll have to see how long that takes.

The weekend: Saturday was pretty hectic when we went to Tesco just before midday. We came back feeling quite stressed, even though we'd been for a run together (for the first time in months) beforehand. Still, with a nice tiger baguette to munch on we soon settled down into an afternoon of relaxation. In the evening we went out to our group's favourite Chinese restaurant to celebrate the Chinese New Year. Getting back quite late we dove into bed as soon as we could, mainly so I could get some sleep for Sunday morning's rowing... Which was cancelled at 07:00 when I got a text saying that the cox was ill. That was rather good to be honest as the weather was terrible. Instead Kris and I had a nice pancake breakfast and then I went for a run in the afternoon to shake the kinks (and the massive amounts of fat I'd had at lunch) out of my system. Seeing as it was Burns Night Kris got to eat her first ever haggis in the evening after we'd stopped off at the local butcher when out running the morning before to buy one. I don't think she was 100% taken with it. Me? I had a haggis sandwich for lunch today with the leftovers!

23/01/2009
[17:00] Kate's been having some issues with getting into her new place. Mostly to do with moving things around and people not doing what they said they would, when they said they would. As a result Kris and I did the whole helpful and understanding host thing again last night (as well as eating some rather nice pizza) to help her do what she needed to and be around to be a shoulder to cry on. Getting a pile of washing up done and having a quiet night in was also something Kris and I had been after for a good few days, so we filled that need too.

After yesterday's mammoth day (getting in early) and Kris wanting to start her day at the library (opens at 09:00) we took our time getting up this morning. The fact that it was raining heavily didn't encourage us to leave quickly either. Work for me today has been doing a bit of last minute tweaking to configuration files to make the Apex instances we have (live, development and UAT) migrate across to the new servers with the minimum of fuss (they did, at lunch time). Other than that there's a mass of RHEL5.2 machines to upgrade to RHEL5.3 while I wait for developers to clear down 27GB of online backups to something a little more managable. I've been for a run, will be going to the gym momemtarily and have rowing on Sunday. I can't think of anything else you could possibly be interested in knowing.

Other than the Chinese New Year meal about twenty of us are attending on Saturday and the Burns Night haggis I need to buy for Sunday.

22/01/2009
[09:45] Last night was Kate's last night staying with us. We'd hoped she'd get home some time around 19:45 so had prepared dinner accordingly. Unfortunately various little annoying things happened to her which meant she didn't get back until gone 20:00. Luckily her food was still warm and we were able to sit down together and have a good natter about the day and help her decompress somewhat. She also brought chocolate fudge cake, which was lovely when heated up in the microwave (although perhaps a little too long!). We all went to bed fairly shortly afterwards.

This morning I was up with the larks (or before them, actually) at around 06:30. Well, I say 06:30, by the time I found my way out of the delights of the bed it was closer to 07:00. Still, I was in just before 07:30 and able to help the developer from yesterday get his cron jobs which fire off SCPs to other people working properly with keys, help the networks guy get a new switch into a stack and then spend the rest of the morning tracking down little niggly issues (yes, more of those) with the application we moved across yesterday. This morning has been mainly about getting (Dymo label) printers to print in landscape. I came across a bug in the "lp" command such that the "-o landscape" just wasn't working. Through some googling I found this Bugzilla page which detailed a lot of people suffering the same issue and some discussion as to when it would be fixed. Turns out it was fixed in the slew of updates for RHEL 5.3... which was released yesterday! A quick "yum update paps" and everything works! Amazingly good timing. If we'd migrated this application a few days earlier we wouldn't have been able to fix this issue until today (or yesterday afternoon, or whenever RHN would have allowed us access by working) anyway.

[17:00] Since the last entry I've had to spend most of the day with the label printer (brought over from the external office) trying to get it to print like it did under RHEL3. That is to say in Courier 10pt. It took a while but eventually some fiddling with /etc/cups/mine.convs seemed to do the trick. Phew. It has been A Day. I'm off home!

21/01/2009
[2009-01-22 09:30] I was a little too busy yesterday to do this when I should have so you'll have to pretend that I'm doing it last night and sounding very busy and important at the same time. Kris was feeling pretty ill in the morning but struggled into work with me enduring oil on her trousers, annoying car drivers and getting a bit too hot because we went a tad too fast. Luckily I was able to make her smile with some amusement as soon as she got to work, so that made everyone's morning a bit better.

Around about 10:30 I suddenly realised that I'd left a window open at home. One that would make getting into the house exceedingly easy to do. Rather than cycle to Kris' work place to get keys (Kate has my set at the moment) and then cycle home, close the window, cycle back to Kris to drop off the keys (in case she needed to go home early because of feeling ill) I got a lift from my team leader which shaved about half the time off what it would have taken. Which was nice.

I spent most of the day working on more little niggly bits of transitional service stuff and going for a lunch time run so that at 16:00 (when I would have been writing this entry) the service developer came through and we threw all kinds of switches (did a lot of application shut down stuff and some big SCPs). That went on until some time around 17:10 at which point I tore myself away and went to meet Kris who'd been womanfully waiting outside for me in the cold, having lasted the whole day at work.

20/01/2009
[16:50] After work last night I cycled over to pick Kris up from her workplace and we went into town to see a light show and wander over to the cinema. On the way we stopped off at a Millie's Cookies to get a 2-for-1 deal on a hot chocolate and cookies and just sat and chatted for a while. Just like a real date. The cinema was pretty much full with lots of people who'd got free tickets to see the preview showing of Frost/Nixon. I have to say it opened my eyes to a lot of the Watergate scandal that I hadn't known, as well as some completely new insights into Frost and Nixon as people. I've always known Frost as a serious interviewer but been aware of "The Frost Report". This was something else again. Anyway, pretty good cinema and very good for being free. We popped into a Pizza Express for dinner, both of us completely famished. Kris' sore throat precluded a perfect dinner date but we got by with a simply lovely one.

After registering Kris with the doctor yesterday we took advantage of that fact by getting her an appointment today to see what was wrong with her throat (which woke her up with discomfort a few times in the night). That meant that after a morning's work she went via the surgery to home where I think she is currently sleeping and drinking lots of fluids. Although not at the same time. I'm off to the gym and then home to look after her and make dinner. My finger appears to be beginning to heal... so I'm still not sure if I should do my 5km erg test tonight or wait another day or so.

19/01/2009
[16:45] Another one of those packed weekends of greatness has gone by. First of all there was the usual gym session on Friday evening which went really quite well, then there was the rowing outing on Saturday morning. Sure it was wet, sure it was cold and sure I was sitting at 7 seat and got soaked by the stroke man doing some fearsome early catches but I pulled hard all the way through. Of course, not having rowed for a good few weeks I found my hands were quite blistered afterwards, with one blister coming right off on my right ring finger and coating the blade handle (not our usual blades as we're a novice crew and given it was close to a race relegated to the worst blades in the boathouse) with blood. Happily it didn't hurt at all until I got in the shower at home after the outing. Saturday elsewise was spent doing the usual Tesco shop and generally having a bit of a relaxing time. It was Ian's birthday curry in the evening so we popped out in the windy rain and had a good time there before coming home for me to get an early night for the race the next day.

Winter League race one for us started at 09:30 at the boathouse. Unfotunately we came very close to being disqualified for not making our way to the start point in good time. Then again about half of the entrants for our division were similarly chastised so it didn't really matter. We had a different but good cox for the race and she kept us pushing as hard as we could all the way through. Naturally, not having practiced much recently we didn't do so well and only came in second in the ranking for the novice crews. More practice definitely needed before the second race. I pulled as hard as I could but with blisters on both hands I couldn't give everything on every stroke until close to the end when I gave up on protecting my skin and just went for it. Moderately good strapping seems to have stopped my hands from completely disintegrating!

After getting home and having a really fabulous lunch of steak sandwiches with Kris we settled in to watch some West Wing, read a little and have a bit of a snooze on the sofa. While we were snoozing Kate sent an SMS asking if she could have a room for a few nights while she looked for somewhere more permanent to live. That galvanised us into cleaning and tidying the entire house, clearing out the spare room and putting away quite a lot things that had been hanging around for a number of months/years. Once she'd arrived we all ate the marvellous roast chicken dinner that Kris had prepared (with some help from me, OK) and then after some chat and some on-spec cinnamon twist dessert foodage with tea we all went to bed. With luck Kate'll be able to buy a bed and move into the place she found just after she texted me within a few days.

This morning Kris woke with a sore throat so at lunch time she cycled into town with me running beside her (as my 5km run and also to show her the way) and got registered with a surgery (mine, actually). I then ran back as she cycled back to work again. Since then (and for most of the day) I've been coordinating more migration stuff, tweaking here and there and trying to catch up with some of the reading I let stack up at the tail end of last week.

Tonight, while Kate's at home preparing her dinner in a kitchen not shared with students Kris and I will be going to a free showing of Frost/Nixon and then dining out at a Pizza Express. Date nights are fun!

16/01/2009
[16:30] I've had a pretty productive day today, even though last night's sleep wasn't so good. The film before the interrupted sleep though was Burn Before Reading and my first Cohen brothers film in years. I have to say, it was very good. Also nice was it being a quiet Thursday with only Shaun and Fran turning up and us all eating some delicious asian takeaway. Anyway, this morning I had a really productive meeting with my operations manager and the developer of one of the applications I'm going to be migrating from the old servers to the new and we sorted out when things are going to happen (Monday afternoon) and how we were going to take this opportunity to do some tidying up of samba shares, where certain live and development cron jobs were run from and how access would be segregated and arranged. Fantastic stuff. The first meeting in many weeks where everything said was substantive and I came out of it with a clear idea of what was going to happen, when and who would be doing it.

Oh, I forgot to mention that last thing last night (at work) and first thing this morning (also) at work I broke and then subsequently fixed the libcrypto issue I was having through diligent use of apxs, OpenSSL and just a little bit of thought. Hurrah for me. Additional hurrahs (potentially, depending on the weather) because I'm rowing tomorrow morning and Sunday morning (in fact the latter is a race day). If it's cold and/or wet it really isn't going to be much fun, but then it won't be for anyone else. Still, this is what warm showers and wonderful girlfriends are for.

This evening I'm off to the gym and then home to have something with steak in as today is Friday and Fridays are special. Well this one is. Have a good one, and a lovely weekend.

15/01/2009
[17:00] The gym last night was good. The food afterwards was also good, cooked as it was by Kris and me after we'd made our way home and cleaned up. Sometimes it's very obvious why some people spend an evening here and there just sitting on the sofa and watching television; now and again it's great to relax, unwind and let someone else do the talking and thinking.

Today I've been putting in alternative authorisation schemes for Apex now that its that application's turn to be migrated over. Unfortunately, just before I'm about to go home I've run into a slight snag, which isn't helpful at all. I may leave it for now and have another go tomorrow.

14/01/2009
[16:55] A developer's been using a samba share I set up specifically for one project/service on the development server I'm replacing for all of his development work via his Windows desktop. Result: 27GB of development work from all kinds of projects which I'm going to have to move over to the new server rather than the 4.5MB of just the development files related to the actual project the share was set up for. This means that if he falls under a bus all of the development work he's been doing on multiple projects across the department aren't with their projects on the servers other people are developing and storing stuff on, where a sensible replacement person would look for them but they're all in one place, where you wouldn't at first look because you assumed (sensibly) that that mapped drive on his desktop profile only contained one project's work. And he's firmly entrenched in Windows and doesn't want to learn Unix. Therefore I'd have to be the one who sets up samba shares on all the servers he'd need to move stuff to. It would be time-consuming. I would mind a little less if he hadn't been so blase about it all and made out that it was funny and/or didn't see what the issue was. So now I have to extend the downtime window there's going to be to deal with copying 27GB of stuff rather than the 4.5MB of actual belongs-there data I'd first assumed. There's also the fact that he's going to need to remap his drive anyway to make sure all of the projects (and applications!) he runs out of the samba share still work. Because of how he's set things up there's a good chance that my graceful move of one application is going to take out his productivity for a good half a day or more. He's a very productive and busy developer, he just doesn't understand that things need to be Organised!

In other news: I make great bread (in a bread machine), Kris is lovely, I have a bolt to fix Kris' front mud guard and I need to spend some quality time with a permanent marker and a slightly-blunt hacksaw getting the stays to fit the frame. Time to go to the gym.

13/01/2009
[16:55] Another day of fiddling and diddling. After going for dinner with Kate last night following a fairly annoying bit of mudguard assemblage (stupid slightly off-standard millings on slightly cheaper bikes) I came home and had somewhere between a reasonable and bad night's sleep. Either way it was fairly easy to get up this morning and get in to work to continue where I left off moving over little bits of configuration from the old servers to the new.

I had a meeting with my line manager/team leader this morning which clarified who'd be talking to whom about moving the big chunks of project/service over when the times come. That was helpful but nails down the fact that, well, most of the work's going to be done by me. Not that I have any problem with that (I love work), it just means I have less time to do other things I was working on for the moment.

Burrito, meeting Kris and getting some replacement bolts for attaching her bike's front mud guard were all done over lunch, which was good. All I need to do now is trim the stays for both front and rear and she'll be less likely to end up with greasy, muddy, oily road water on her legs. Gym now, then home for home made lamb rogan josh!

12/01/2009
[17:00] Man alive today's been busy. Kris' mountain bike mudguards arrived, I've been working on getting those new servers to look and behave like the old ones in the face of undocumented changes between the apache, samba and other applications used in RHEL3 and RHEL5 and I've had to organise meetings, try to get an old appliance to boot from USB (failure has resulted so far) and I haven't been able to go to the gym at lunch time to erg. Thus far I seem to be winning overall though. Kris is coming over soonish to let me fit the mudguards, that way she won't get covered in oily, greasy, muddy road liquid when the weather's not so nice.

The weekend was pretty good. I can't really recall what we did on Saturday. I'm pretty sure I didn't do any exercise, which is why I was all antsy for the second half of the day. I do know we went to Tesco, and read. But the rest of the day's a bit of a blank, which is annoying. Sunday was a completely different story. First off I went for a run in the morning. Admittedly it was only 3.23km, but I think that's my maximum distance at the moment while I wait for my hip to stop bugging me on longer runs. Maybe 4km. Anyway, after that we had some delicious brunchy type stuff and then headed into town to wander around, read books in Borders, have some ostrich burgers and cornish pasties and then do a small amount of sales shopping in one of the outdoor shops. The weather was a lot nicer than it had been recently so it was rather pleasant.

All in all this weekend was a whole lot better than things had been for a bit. We've put it down to getting time to do the important things, relax, have some time to get our heads on straight and generally chill out a bit. I think it's all going rather well to be honest with you.

09/01/2009
[16:30] Hurrah for productive and busy days! Not only did we get up nice and early, do morning exercises and get into work in good time, but most of the day has been spent fettling the new servers (including getting one moved to one of the other server rooms in town) and making great progress with the help of my practically bomb-proof install scripts (even if I have been running them by hand). I went for a short (3km) run at lunch time and don't seem to recall any
Right now life is going almost reasonably well. I should get the hell out of work and to the gym before something bad happens! The weekend should be full of exercise, fun, reading and some DVD watching. Can't be too bad, really. Especially as I've also confirmed a quote from a builder to get my window frames sealed a lot better which should help my damp and badly damaged plaster window reveals stay smooth and mold-free from now on. Yay for VAT being down to 15% for meaning it costs less money, too!

08/01/2009
[16:55] Today has been busy. We're talking end-to-end technical gubbins with the new applications servers to replace the ones which I set up as my second major project ever when I started working here. Getting an ancient version of Resin (2.1.16) to configure, make and install was the biggest challenge (not including being useless with sed) followed by generally trying to work out how all the little finicky bits that I'd forgotten all about working on new hardware and software. There's masses still to do and I don't know if I'll get what I need to do done before the end of the day tomorrow. I'll give it a shot though.

I'm off home now to wash the kitchen floor and keep Cormac amused before Thursday begins and we watch Dark Knight and/or Max Payne. Or something else entirely.

07/01/2009
[17:00] Today has been a bit more productive. We've ditched the idea of doing PXE boot on the x4140 servers for the moment and I've done it with the old fashioned USB stick approach. Since then things seem to have gone smoothly and I'm slowly refining the post installation scripts to deal with the new software and hardware and things of that nature.

There's a tiny bit of a thaw here today, which is good. It meant that my lunchtime cycle wasn't too chilly to get to/from. It also means that the date I'm on this evening with Kris should also be similarly less fraught with ice, cold and general unpleasantness.

06/01/2009
[17:25] Stupid Sun. Stupid nVidia. Stupid MCP55 network chips. Stupid DHCP/PXE software.

That is all.

05/01/2009
[16:55] I can't say it's wonderful to be back at work for a proper working week, but it is nice to have a change of scenery during the day rather than being in the house. Not that the company at home was anything to complain about! The weekend was rather pleasant, it has to be said. I mean, the ergo sessions I did on both mornings almost killed me (which is quite embarrassing considering some of the distances one of my crewmates is putting in for 30min) but on Saturday Kris and I went out for lunch with Shaun and Fran and had our food paid for (thanks Shaun!) and then after doing a Tesco shop went over to Cormac and Steph's to have dinner made for us there (and it only cost us a bottle of wine!). Sunday was more about getting up late to really take advantage of the whole holiday thing, then the exercise (Kris does yoga when I go out to erg or row, we've probably decided) then the massive amounts of West Wing watchification and making wonderful food (which I still need to wash up when we get home from the gym this evening).

It snowed this morning, kinda. Enough that the going is a little worrying under wheels and seeing as it hasn't melted by sunset it's going to be icy slush on the way home. Cycling into town with Kris at lunch time to try to open a bank account (an endevour which turned into a wait and then making an appointment for Wednesday lunch time) was bad enough. I really hope neither of us come off our bikes.

Today's work has been mainly about racking up two servers (which required some work with a pair of pliers, moving another server within the rack and some real grunt work despite the wonderful Sun rack rails which we had available), getting them on the network and configuring the PXE server to know how to boot them. I'm leaving them build/verifying their RAID 5 partitions over night and then tomorrow I try building one and seeing what works and what needs tweaking. Kris is probably waiting for me downstairs so I should go.

02/01/2009
[13:40] Christmas is over but the fun is just beginning. Lots has happened so I'll give you a general rundown on the highlights (and lowlights). Starting with the bad, it turns out that I've got a big condensation issue going on at home now. It's probably something to do with having two people in the house now breathing more (no giggling at the back!), lots more cooking in the kitchen and ventilation not being quite what it should be all over the place what with the people who fitted and then came to fix the windows in 2007 doing a very bad job and fracturing the plaster around the 'reveals' and not putting enough sealant on the uPVC beading. Either way, I should have got it fixed sooner and now I have damp plaster and mold. There's a lot more cracks in the house too so I've bitten the bullet and called out two builders to come and give me quotes for some work. I have no idea how much work's going to be required and I really don't know how much it's going to cost. Still, this is why we save and don't buy new laptops or LCD televisions, isn't it?

Enough about lowlights though, Christmas! Christmas was brilliant! Christmas with Kris. Yes, fabulous. Lots and lots of presents (an almost embarrassing amount, actually), all of them wonderful. Excellent food cooked by the both of us, a modicum of exercise and plenty of time to start settling into some kind of routine (although the sleep/wake patterns need some fine tuning still). Kris has joined my gym (I think I mentioned that last year?), I managed a 4km run with only the tiniest of hip twinges (and stopping at that point meant no ache or pain afterwards) and Kris bought a bike (which was equipped with all the presents I got her for Christmas). One of the best parts of Christmas Day was when Kris opened the present I'd been midly trepidatious about and turned out to have done perfectly. That was nice. A trip to London to see the Puppini Sisters, meeting lots of friends (some of whom I haven't seen in months) and watching lots of The West Wing has made this Christmas one of the best ever and that's very much down to having Kris in my life and now, as I said, the real fun starts...

And I don't just mean having the first builder over this evening.