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February's Journal
April's Journal


31/03/2010
[17:25] Last day of the month! Again with the time flying. Anyway, this is good as it means only one more sleep before I head over to see Kris. Why one? Because I'm getting the 03:00 coach out of town on Friday morning and it's almost certainly going to be a bad idea for me to go to bed on Thursday night as I'll want to be leaving the house at around 02:30 at the very, very latest. I'll get in some quality television/DVDs and power through from my normal bed time (around 23:00) until I'm on the coach and then sleep through until I get to the airport. By sleep through I obviously mean "doze fitfully". Once I'm on the plane I expect the same dubious quality of slumber across the Atlantic followed by grogginess and uncomfortable seats as I wait for my second plane. It's going to be a long day made infinitely better only by Kris waiting for me at the far end.

Other than that set of thoughts I've been updating all of our RHEL5 workstations to RHEL5.5 (we don't care about them so they're good test boxes for some of the packages we'll be upgrading), reading the release notes, tech notes and virtualisation notes to see if there's anything I particularly need to care about and going for what turned out to be a rather hard 6km run. I don't know if it was the head wind, being out of shape for not having run since Monday last week or still being tired from the weekend but afterwards I felt wiped for a good five minutes or so. Nice to put some effort into something energetic though.

I should probably go via Tesco on the way home today or tomorrow to get some snacks for the plane/transfer window in America. Or I could splurge and get something on my card. Yeah, maybe I'll do that. It is a holiday after all. Possibly one of only two I'll have this year depending on how things pan out.

Anyway, no rowing tonight after last night's rowing meeting for the Men's Squad. So no rowing again until mid April! This means relaxation and packing preparation tonight.

30/03/2010
[17:10] I'm still feeling pretty tired today. The morning exercises have started again and I honestly do think I'm beginning to feel a little stronger now. Which is nice. I was at the boathouse last night sanding down blades and filling cracks with two-part epoxy stuff. Tonight we should be gluing and clamping some of the more badly damaged areas and putting the first coats of paint on those blades which don't need more repairs. At this rate it's going to take a few months to do all of the blades, but they should look wonderful once we're done. Amusingly it turns out that many of the blades' stripes weren't actually paint, but were (electrical?) tape. I mean, that's a nice neat edge but it does smack a little of cheating. Not that we aren't too proud not to do it ourselves. It might even mean we do the green stripe as well if it's going to be that easy.

Lots of network issues here today. Nothing to do with me or anything I can affect so I've been working on trying to organise the update of servers to RHEL5.5 which came out today. That and going home at lunch time to have the friendly plumber come over and (hopefully, finally) fix the toilet again so it doesn't leak every time it's flushed. With that and my tax code being dealt with there's only one thing rattling around in my head these days. Which is great. It almost feels empty up there. You know, emptier than normal anyway.

So, yes, other than the epoxying and gluing and clamping and painting tonight there's also a meeting of the Men's Squad to discuss What Happens Next with regard to the regatta season, crews, boats and all that stuff. I just hope I stay in the M2 boat and don't get shoved down a level.

Right, time to go.

29/03/2010
[16:55] Full weekend! Mundane things out of the way first: I went to Tesco on Friday. All things considered it was an extremely smart idea that I did. That I then stayed up quite late wasn't the best idea, but I was still in bed well before 23:00.

Saturday morning rolled around and I was up and about in plenty of time to get down to the train station to meet the rest of the crew. What we hadn't planned on was a fire near the station meaning that we weren't able to get a train down to London. Instead we all met up at the boat house where various people from the M1 and M2 crews were dispatched in various cars and with the boat trailer in the back of a Land Rover. I and a few other people headed down in a car and hoped not to get too lost. To cut a long story short we didn't, really, despite the people we tried to follow for some of the way having sat. nav. but not being experienced enough at driving (in London) to be comfortable with the kinds of junctions/roundabouts they'd have to deal with and therefore going off down the wrong route a few times. Once we left them to their own devices we were fine. They eventually made it too, but the cox was a little flustered for a while. The race itself wasn't brilliant. I think the fact that six of the eight rowers hadn't ever been on a/the tideway before meant that we never really settled into something that would allow us to create a platform to get some power down. The upshot of which was that we didn't get inside the top 200 (of 400-odd boats). A shame, but a great learning experience. We didn't hang around long afterwards as the traffic was slated to be awful. It was. I don't think I got back home (after helping a tiny bit with preparing the trailer for the next day) until around 19:00. A pasta salad and plenty to drink and I meant to go straight to bed. Only I didn't because I felt too tired to sleep. I can't really describe it better than that. Either way, the day was OK, even the sitting around for about 40 minutes on the side of the Thames hanging onto a tree's branches as we waited for our division to go.

Sunday morning I was up at 05:40 BST (04:40 GMT) and down at the boat house at an obnoxious 06:30 to be picked up by the person with the boat trailer. Riding with the cox and two of the rowers (one driving) we headed back to almost the same place, rigged up the boat and met the rest of the mixed crew for the Vets HoRR. The weather was colder for the most part but didn't rain as it had on the Saturday. We rowed up to the start line and managed to almost tear the bottom out of the hull and the fin off the back by grounding out a little. The serrated fin we saw when putting the boat back on the trailer and the scrapes along the length of the hull are testament to how close we came to sinking. Putting that behind us we sat around tapping against the changing flow of the Thames until it was our time to go. From the off, even though I knew we were only doing 2/3rds of the course from Saturday I knew it was going to be a good race. Despite not having rowed together much we created a brilliant platform to allow each of us to put down our maximum power. As a result we got an extremely favourable result. Definitely something to be proud of I think. Derigging and getting everything back on the trailer we then went for a pub meal together and after waiting just 5 minutes short of "far too long" we had our food delivered, drank lots of drink and then separated to head home. Traffic again was awful due to a rugby match at Wembley but we still made it home in time to empty the trailer and get me on my bike to be collapsing on the sofa by about 18:00. I remember changing the bedding, putting on a wash and eating some sausage rolls, taking the wash out and making some notes for myself and that's about it for the day.

The weekend was brilliant, I don't think it could have been much better without I and everyone else in both crews killing ourselves. We'll do better next year though, no doubt about it.

I was up and about at the usual time this morning but gave myself the morning off from morning exercises. They'll start again tomorrow. While I didn't feel hugely tired body-wise my head and mental state was definitely... dulled. I didn't run at lunch today either but did make an appointment to have Tony the plumber come back tomorrow morning to fix the toilet, again. So, positive movement there. I've had a day dealing with the old server we're rebuilding to be a backup server in the new regime and coming up against the problems associated with creating multiple RAID1 arrays on the same controller and what RHEL does when it comes to installing GRUB on the MBR of the correct one. In a few minutes I'm going to go home and chat to Kris for the first time in almost a week and then head out to learn how to paint (rowing) blades before coming back, watching some television, eating something quick and crashing out. Monday wasn't really a normal start to the week considering the weekend. Tomorrow will be more normal, I hope.

26/03/2010
[16:30] Last night was fun. A good turn out, two good films and not very much for me to tidy up afterwards (although I do have a lot of washing up to do when I get home this evening). Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs was good, as was The Men Who Stare At Goats (although less so than I expected). We had Chinese, which was very tasty.

Resting up this week for the weekend has been a strange experience. Only running on Monday means I've been bouncing around come the evenings with an excess of energy. This is obviously a good thing for the weekend, but it's not helping me settle before bed. Speaking of the weekend it turns out that the Sunday race isn't actually as far as the Saturday one, which is good. It hopefully will mean that I'm not as utterly shattered as I thought I might be by the end of the weekend. I had some twinges in my lower back (left side) again this morning. They went away though by the time I got to work and I'm going to make sure I have some ibuprofen for tomorrow and Sunday so I don't think it's going to be a problem. One thing's for certain though, I absolutely will not be doing anything to make it worse.

Also went to the dentist this morning. Three months before my yearly checkup was due but I figured it was worth going before I headed over to the land where healthcare costs a lot more. All was pretty much well, but I still need to make sure I'm not brushing my teeth too hard.

Righty, I think that's it for this week. It's going to be a hard couple of days for me with early mornings (Sunday's being especially early with the clocks going forward an hour), strenuous middle of the days and long afternoons before I get to get home and relax. Still, this time next week I'll only be a hour or so and a few hundred miles away from Kris. Rather than the 3000 or so miles and the 12-16 hours away we are from each other right now. I miss her.

25/03/2010
[16:50] Kris got her first refusal from this recent round of interviews. It was a pretty poor email from the place we really didn't want to get an offer from anyway. "Phew" in one way, however I don't know precisely how Kris feels but I know she was the best interviewee they had so I'm disappointed in another. It probably went to the internal candidate they were grooming for the position. Still, one down, three to go. Kris is off to Philadelphia as I write this. Yes, she's on the move again. Luckily this time it's just a conference.

For my own part I'll be staying firmly at home, or at least at work or at home until the weekend. Last night we had our final outing before this weekend's HoRR down in London. It turns out that the Vets HoRR the next day isn't the full course, so I might not be quite so tired afterwards. Which is nice. It might also be a chance to catch up with Andy (who I haven't seen in too long) afterwards if things work out.

Workwise today I dipped into the realm of the DBA/developer and refreshed my knowledge of B-trees and Red-Black trees. I wish I hadn't really. It reminded me of just how poor a programmer I am and how hard I find it remembering the stuff that makes a programmer great. Don't get me wrong, I can write code/little scripts that gets the job done, and while it might be pretty basic and potentially not the best way of doing it (TMTOWTDI) I guarantee it'll be a) readable and, b) maintainable by anyone. I'm sure that with time and effort and a reason to learn and use a programming language I could quickly become pretty proficient (like I was at University in a good few languages), it's just that I don't care about programming for the fun of it like many people I know. Outside of work I barely want to sit down at a computer, let alone dig in for the evening and program for fun. I'd much rather be outside, interacting with my environment and my girl/friends and doing something active. Does this make me less employable by a tech company or somewhere that needs a sysadmin? Not in my book. Not in any way, shape or form. So I find myself half content and half discontent that I'm not the world's most awesome programmer. But if I had to make a choice I'd say that the fact that I'm a halfway decent sysadmin with a reasonable grasp of scripting who can interact with people and is fit, healthy and sociable (not to say that anyone who programs isn't!) is the right way to be. At least for me.

Speaking of which, after today's trials and tribulations (one of our terminal consoles stopped responding) I'm off home to prepare the house for this evening's Thursday. We have lots to choose from in terms of things to watch so it should be a fun evening.

24/03/2010
[15:50] Mostly today I have been trying to relax and save energy for this evening's row and the weekend to come. I had a massive amount of pasta and sauce and grilled chorizo last night and I imagine there's a goodly amount more I'm going to be consuming before the end of the week.

I've been nursing my strange-cold thing some more, occasionally blowing my nose and wondering if it's going to go away before Saturday. I honestly don't know what it actually is, but it might be related to me pushing too hard over the weekend and then on Monday lunch time and just leaving myself open to something which I've now managed to start fighting. Whatever, it isn't that debilitating so I should be OK.

Work was quiet up until about two minutes ago when we lost what looks like a core switch. I'm not sure quite what's going on, but I should probably get on and help the Networks guy figure it out.

23/03/2010
[16:55] We discovered today that the reason the failed over live instance of one of our main services was down to a "start of day routine." Now this isn't actually a routine which starts at the beginning of the day, but the metaphorical day which is when a controller inside the array resets/reboots itself. When you only have one controller connected this means you lose contact with the array momentarily (and the filesystem and journal get in a real tizzy). Apparently it only happens every 800 days of uptime or so (so very similar to the SAN issue we had over the weekend where it managed to reset and therefore lose some of its fabric switches after 994 days of uptime). We are probably going to be looking into either getting another FC HBA for multipathing or (much more cheaply) arranging reboots more frequently. This will have the advantage of ensuring that some boxes get updated to more recent kernels a bit more often.

I'd intended to go and erg last night and then go Hashing but what happened instead is that I ended up doing work until quite late and then sneezing and sniffling my way home. I had hoped it would have gone when I woke up this morning but it doesn't seem to have done. Hopefully it'll vanish before the weekend. Something else I hope will have gone by the weekend is the return of the leak in my cistern/toilet pan interface. Yup, it's leaking again. At least I know what the issue is and that I have a plumber who's willing to come out and take a look. I've called the right people (involved going home at lunch time to get the right telephone number having only brought the plumber's number) and hopefully will get a call back some time soon.

I also called the Tax Man again this morning to find out what's happening with my tax code. After getting the moderately helpful person I got through to this time to talk to their supervisor (twice) it turns out I'm not overdue for a call back from someone who has the power to change things until Monday 29 March at the latest. It doesn't matter that I had my tax appointment with someone face to face all the way back in February as there's a total disconnect between the tax offices and the helpline. Awesome.

Still, at least now I have an official deadline after which I am perfectly justified in getting more than pushy with people in getting this sorted. With luck I'll still be able to get this sorted before I go to see Kris, or at least before the end of April when my next payslip after this one comes through. If this one has been affected by all these messups I'm going to be Most Displeased.

Otherwise today has been mainly about resetting/syncing Sun StorageTek 2540 clocks, learning about clever uses for the dynamic linker and generally sneezing and blowing my nose a moderate amount. I've also been told not to do any more major exercise this week other than the outing on Wednesday so that I'm all rested for the weekend. That's going to be difficult. Also advised: eat lots of pasta to carb-load. I'm going to feel like a blimp by Friday evening.

Kris is (as I write this) on her way back from Edmonton to the east coast of America. Her interview seemed to go pretty OK all things considered. From what she told me - and she was pretty shattered at the time - it was a long, hard day, the people were nice enough and the place seemed fairly together. I guess we'll know more in a few weeks. Right now you know as much as I do. I hope she gets back safely and has a bit of time to relax and recouperate from her final interview before we make A Decision. She still has papers to write and conferences to attend but no more job interviews. Now we wait.

22/03/2010
[16:40] I seem to have been hit by another cold. I hope it's just another one of those weird 12 hour things that evaporate as quickly as they come. Maybe it's my body retaliating against the amount of pizza I stuffed into it after a rather fast 6km I ran at lunch time today. Order pizzas with coworkers, pull on running togs, dash around the loop, have shower and sit down at desk as they arrive. Awesome. I've put my actual lunch in the fridge tomorrow, although I did eat my carrot, cherry tomatoes and banana.

Today has been mostly about cleaning up some of the mess that happened over the weekend. It seems pretty much every kind of storage device we have here went wrong over the weekend. The SAN crashed because it was so stable (don't ask, basically it was an uptime counter bug we think), a FC HBA dropped its port for a minute or two and screwed over a production system's ext3/journal so that no processes could alter the file system of the external disk array they were hosted on and an internal RAID5 array blew a disk (and then mysteriously claimed it was OK again 12 hours later). We wouldn't have noticed any of this until Monday except that I check my email over the weekend and saw the slew of messages at around 21:45 on Saturday night. Luckily I was not one of the people who went in between 22:00 and 02:00 on the Sunday morning to get things going again but I kind of wish I had been so I could have been involved and seen what was going on.

It was actually better that I wasn't asked as I'd done a monster rowing session on the Saturday morning and was due to (and did) two different crew outings on the Sunday. The second one, with the vets, didn't push off until over an hour later due to us needing to re-rig the boat we want to take to Tideway next weekend. Still, other than me getting told off for not squaring my blade early enough (I swear the cox only noticed the three times I actually wasn't squaring early) it was a pretty good outing. I have no idea how tired everyone is going to be in either crew after ~18 minutes of Thames rowing, but I think I'm going to be pretty wiped.

Given the way Sunday way eaten up with rowing and the requirement to rest on the Saturday so that I was in reasonable shape for Sunday not much else happened this weekend. I got to chat to Kris briefly though from Canada, which was nice. She used Sunday to see something of Edmonton and as I write this is in the thick of her interview/talk/showing around day over there on the North American continent. I hope she does just as well as she wants to.

I'm debating whether or not to go and erg this evening (and Hash). This cold thing seems to have taken over something chronic at the moment and I'm really feeling pretty low on energy. I should head down to the boathouse at least and listen to the coach discuss the Tideway course, but I think I need to save my energy for Wednesday's outing and the weekend.

19/03/2010
[16:35] Argh! I don't know what it is about my case but the Tax Man seems unable to wrap his head around my situation. Not only has no-one called me back with a resolution yet but I called again today and it turns out that two days ago my tax code was reviewed and instead of them removing the ~£40 (in actuality only ~£23odd which they've said they don't care about) which I apparently owe they seem to think I now owe over £1045! Seriously? When I called the guy on the other end of the phone took one look at my case and call history and said "Dude, WTF?" (only in polite, official language). Of course, all he could offer was that someone would get in contact with me soon (he hoped) and that I wasn't to go nuts when I saw the new coding notice which was winging its way to me in the post. I'm getting pretty fed up with this right about now. I mean, I guess it'll all eventually get sorted out and stuff but until then there's going to be more confusion and unless things sort themselves out in the next week or two a requirement for me to try and get tax relief to make up for the extra they're going to extract from my paycheque. It is to sigh.

Still, there's nothing like keeping tight control over invective to help you stay awake when you were up late the night before watching Law Abiding Citizen and Smokin' Aces with a curry and some friends.

Today's 10km run was another pacing session for my friend running the London Marathon so it was a very relaxed 52 minutes. I don't think I was even breathing heavily when we finished.

Finally, this weekend is going to have a lot of rowing in it. Once on Saturday and twice on Sunday. I guess it's good preparation for seeing how well I'll cope with the following weekend when I'll be racing both days. Just like next week I think going to Tesco tonight straight from work is a smarter idea than going over the weekend itself when I'll just want to chill out a bit.

Right, I think I've done all the damage I can here for this week. See you Monday.

18/03/2010
[16:50] Things which happened today in no particular order: My copy of Shogun (James Clavell) for my journey to America arrived from Amazon, I upgraded our ZXTM cluster (successfully), I continued to do my morning exercises (and am sure the benefits are beginning to show around my waistline), I had lunch, I installed the latest version of Skype for linux and finally got a good quality image (no green/black stripes) when talking to Kris (with the fixed mic capture and everything), I achieved new films for watching tonight with whoever decides to turn up and I reluctantly had to power cycle a server which was OOMing on a PeopleSoft application stack. All in all the day should have felt fuller than it actually did.

I don't know if I mentioned that the Vets boat I... did I mention this already? Anyway, the Vets boat I was in has been scratched, but I'm the new man in the one remaining Vets boat that we're sending to the Vets HoRR (Head of the River Race) the day after I'm racing the exact same course with our M2 (men's second) boat. That means two races, two times 4.6km, in the roughest water I'll have rowed in yet (the Thames University Boat Race course). I think somehow I'm going to be pretty tired come next Sunday evening. But that's a week and a bit away yet.

17/03/2010
[17:10] Today has been a day when I've actually felt useful. Rare for this time of year when there's not very much happening due to code freezes and no new projects coming online for the next few months. I started off by talking with the web guys about how we're going to decommission some more of their boxes and finished with (after a bit of research into the pain of getting a RHEL3u9 paravirtualised Xen DomU up and running) running up a fresh RHEL5.4 DomU for them to see if we can port across a particularly troublesome Java web application which is keeping at least one and possibly two boxes from being shut down. In fact I did so much this morning I ended up not going for my run much before 14:00. This has meant that this afternoon's work (on tiding the fresh install up and doing some documentation on it). I'm quite tired again today so the fact that there's no rowing this evening again gives me a perfect opportunity to go home and collapse before I see if I have the energy to go out again for some St Patrick's Day festivities. Considering how tired I was after my run at lunch I think the chances are low. At this point I'm not even sure what I'm going to make for dinner. After last night's epic home-made Chinese takeaway effort I think I'd be perfectly justified in just going with frozen pizza. Oh, I also sent my CV off to one of my references yesterday in the hope they can point out the sheer awfulness of it before Friday. I should do some painting this evening... but I'm finding it hard to work out where to start right now. I get the feeling that once I know what's happening in Kris and my life in a few weeks what will need to be done will be thrown into sharp relief and it'll be a case of necessity being the mother of action.

16/03/2010
[17:30] Happy birthday to my brother. Briefly four years older than me today. Here's hoping that the polytunnel he wants to build on his land will be allowed without him having to pay for planning permission.

I had a Sun engineer out this morning to replace a CPU fan. That's about as exciting as it got here today. Nothing much else is happening at the moment other than helping a few web developers with Samba configurations, DNS confusions and firewall/load balancer usage.

I wandered out at lunch time to see Cormac and watch him eat a burrito while I saved money and had packed lunch and then fell into some weird kind of ultra low energy state where I barely had the ability to raise my arms above shoulder level and while my mood wasn't down it was exceedingly surpressed. I think I'll put it down to post-lunch digestion. I did call and make a dentist appointment to check up on a tooth which seems to be aching on and off and another call to the Tax Man to find out whether or not my tax code has been sorted out yet. It hasn't.

No rowing tonight after all as my Vets boat has been scratched for the Vets HoRR on the 28th. This is both good and bad as I was looking forward to rowing in a crew that highly skilled (myself excluded) but not rowing tonight and not doing two races on back to back days is probably a good thing.

15/03/2010
[17:00] Another weekend without Kris which would have been made magnificent by her being here. Still, I did get to talk to her twice over the weekend (if you count Friday night). I rowed stroke side on Saturday morning as we were two people down and the replacements we got could only row on bow side. I now have a set of minor blisters on the hand I don't usually get blistered because of this. Still, the coach on the bank said that there wasn't really any difference between what I did on one side versus the other. Which means I'm equally bad on both sides! I think that's a good thing. I'm sure I did something else on Saturday to differentiate it from the fuzz but the only thing that stands out is an emotional conversation I had with Kris which just highlighted just how much we miss each other. I thought I'd be going out to watch the rugby with some friends, but it never happened unfortunately. Still, I did get to make a rather stunning grilled chorizo, mature cheddar and three egg omlette which I flipped perfectly. Oh, and I went to Tesco too, which is always useful.

Sunday I wasn't rowing in the morning as we only had six people. I gallantly offered to sit out and instead we sent out a 4+ and a single who I ran alongside with all the way to the lock and back. It was more like a jog to be honest, but it was still 10km, which was better than nothing at all. At home I read emails from Kris and had some more wonderful lunch (weekend lunches seem to have turned into soup-and-cheese-fests these days) before going out for an afternoon row with the Vets. As well as entering the HoRR down in London at the end of the month I'll also be going down the next day to row the exact same race in a Vets crew. This means almost double the amount of outings between now and the last weekend of March, but I'm game. It's sort of lucky Kris isn't here right now as she wouldn't see much of me in the evenings. I know that if she does come back here I'm going to want to cut back on things like that to spend more time with her. At least for a little while.

Sleep has been a little better these last few nights. I'm not sure why, but it may have something do do with me closing the curtains and changing the things I eat and what time I eat them in the evenings. I even stayed up late (for me) on Saturday night (if you can't do it then, when can you?) and still felt pretty OK on Sunday morning.

Today the very first thing I did was report a hardware failure to Sun. Since then I've been coordinating getting the part replaced, cleaning up a whole lot of very confusing and outdated cruft on the load balancers and... updating my CV. Well, it's always a good idea to remind yourself what you've been doing for the past few years, isn't it? I'm chatting to Kris this evening and then going out Hashing this evening for the first time in months having not run at lunch time. Hopefully I'll survive not eating dinner until late.

12/03/2010
[16:30] Failed disk in the SAN today. I dealt with it. Nothing major but Sun get back one karma point for having a new disk out to us before the end of the day. We like it when things work properly. Unlike the power which chose today to stumble on us at least once. Amusingly we had a generator delivered yesterday and plumbed in for just that eventuality given the fact that all of our live services are being run out of here while we wait for EDF to get their work done in town. We refuse to move any of them back until they can categorically tell us that both supplies are stable again.

My sleep last night was ruddy awful. I'm inclinded to put it down to a) leaving the curtains open and, b) having a large amount of takeaway Chinese food just before bed for the first time in weeks (I've been home cooking since Kris left and we'd not eaten out much before then either). Whatever, I just didn't feel comfortable lying in the bed when I got in and felt just as... odd when I got up this morning. But tired on top of that. Which didn't help at all. I did my morning exercises, which seemed to do good things for my energy levels but I chose not to run at lunch today because it's possible that my sleep is being affected by over training. I also had to be around in case Sun Dispatch rang to arrange delivery of the replacement disk.

Last night was good otherwise with a few of my favourite people coming over to watch some terrible films. This weekend will consist of rowing, shopping and some more painting, probably. Either that or a massive amount of housework including washing the kitchen floor. I think I'll head home and chat to Kris before eating sausages, chips and kale and watching television.

11/03/2010
[17:20] Well I thought last night's outing went pretty well considering. Everyone else wasn't as pleased. I don't care. By the time I got home all I wanted to do was eat and crash out for a little while before going to bed. I actually think I slept the whole night through. Or maybe I didn't. Or I did but rather than waking at stupid o'clock I just woke very early and listened to the radio instead. Morning exercises and a shower followed. I'm quite pleased that I'm managing to get them done every week day morning at the moment. It certainly seems to be having some effect. And in the places I want it to, too. Which is nice.

Also nice was getting to type to/see Kris while she talked to me when she got up this morning five hours behind GMT. She's very tired from being on East Coast time and will therefore be chillaxing for a day or so before getting back into writing papers and preparing for her final job interview in a week or so.

For myself I've been reading up on securing BIND, pondering why certain SSL certificate trust chains appear to be incomplete for our Oracle and pushing Central to get our other SSL certificates processed. I now intend to go home, do a smidgen of washing up and then put my feet up and have (what turns out to be) a boys' night in. There may even be Chinese or Indian food.

Oh, and Kris told me not to think so much about job locations and stuff. Maybe me relaxing about things a bit is what allowed me to sleep a little better last night. She's a smart one, that girl.

10/03/2010
[16:45] Kris had the second day of her interview on the West Coast yesterday. It apparently went far far better than we expected and she liked them just as much as they liked her, I think. Despite all the previous acknowledged negatives it sounds an awful lot like there are a lot of positives to the position too. As a result, if they offer her something it's not a done deal any more that she'd just turn it down out of hand. Especially as they've told her it would be expected that she really negotiate for what she wanted. Very hard.

Which gives me pause because the idea of moving there is a little out of left field.

Still, being part of the team that is Us is good as it means nothing will happen without there being complete agreement. Given time frames involved it is almost certain that we'll have made a decision in 30 days from today. That's good as it might mean I get better nights of sleep. I think that's all there is to say about that for now. Next (and last) up is something north of the border (USA style).

I ran another quick 6km today. Only something like twenty seconds off my apparent best ever time. That's not bad, I think. Otherwise I've been reading more about DNS and BIND and delving into the associated Cookbook. There's almost certainly an outing this evening and according to the web site I did say I was available. While this means free exercise rather than paying money to see something at the cinema (and it'll be more than a regular ticket because it's 3D too) I was looking forward to seeing people. Still, every pound saved could be very helpful in the next few months.

09/03/2010
[17:20] Kris and I really are missing each other. I'm going to blame that for the fact that both of us aren't sleeping well during our respective night times. It's nothing to do with the fact that I leave the curtains open or that the room next door to Kris in the 'Best' Western she's in had the television on all night and various banging noises emanating from within at irregular intervals. Honest.

Kris tells me that the faculty staff at her current interview place are lovely, but the working environment isn't particularly good (neither is the pay to judge from the casual comments that people have been slinging around in her earshot). The place seems more than a little run down and low on resources you'd expect to be available considering where it is. On top of that she's not having a terribly good time with the environment, her head, feet and the palm trees (don't ask). On the plus side there's no pressure on her today when she's in all the meetings, interview and stuff. After yesterday's presentation/talk (which I'm sure she had fun with despite the people who asked her to come having to get students who didn't really want to be there to attend) it might be nice to just sit back and let people talk at you for the day without any real worries about whether or not you're going to get/want the job.

Today we've been tidying up the remainder of the mess from yesterday's power outage. I got up this morning to discover that we'd had another power cut overnight, but that it hadn't gone on more than five minutes so nothing had shut down. We've watched it closely today but everything seems to have been OK. Sun Support on the other hand have been pretty stupid with regard to the clearly broken controller in the one piece of hardware which wasn't happy with the power cut. They refuse to ship out a new part despite the overwhelming evidence we've presented in clear technical form.

After not getting to go for a run yesterday I did a nice quick 6km today at lunch in the hopes of getting back to meet a few people for lunch, only none of them materialised so I ended up eating free pizza at my desk that my team leader brought in as a bit of recompense for yesterday's madness. Pizza on top of my regular lunch was probably a bit much... but it was lovely pizza.

As I was replying to Kris' emails as she got up this morning (PST) I got a very unfortunate text from a friend. There's nothing I can do about it except to say that I'm really sad about it but know that something positive will happen soon to make up for it. Promise.

I should go home, I've spent too long here this week already.

08/03/2010
[18:15] I should have been at home for almost an hour by now. But I'm not because we had a monster power cut at the building in town at around 10:00 today and I've been there until about an hour ago watching the electricity company responsible fail to realise the mistake they made, then fail to fix it in time to stop us getting a portable generator down and fail to make it work reliably and then have the mains reappear semi-reliably underneath it. Then there was the one machine out of the forty or so there which threw a RAID controller which meant that I had to spend a bit more time there diagnosing it and stuff. So, no run, someone had to bring my lunch down to me at 15:00 or so and I had to walk back after I'd eventually got everything up and running again. After all that (even without the run) I'm just going to go home and make myself a lamb wrap or two rather than bother with going erging or any of that kind of thing. I could go and hash, I suppose, but by the time I get home I don't think I'll want to bother going out again.

Kris is in San Jose/Silicon Valley at the moment for a job interview. I don't think either of us are particularly interested in being there for various reasons I won't bother to go into so it's not like she's under any pressure, except that she always wants to do her best, she's had to take two flights there and will be taking two back again, she's staying in a Best Western and she didn't sleep well. So there's pressure of a different kind I guess.

The weekend consisted of some beautifully clear skies and exceedingly (for the UK) subzero temperatures out on the water for rowing. With the Reading Head cancelled we were out on Saturday morning and then again even earlier on Sunday morning getting ice on the riggers and doing 1km pieces against the M1 boat. That was a lot of fun, even if I got heavily splashed and therefore cocooned in ice by the end of it all. Luckily my patented keep-feet-dry device (a carrier bag) kept my feet from falling off and for the most part I kept my fingers warm in my armpits (when not rowing).

DIY things of note I did this weekend gone mainly consisted of going to a hardware shop for wall plugs and then using the ones which came with the thing I was going to put up (the toilet roll holder). On the plus side I didn't stay in the house all day after getting home from rowing and I also have three new useful drill bits. I'll do that second coat of paint this week to see if it properly covers the damp runs this time.

I think that's it for now. More tomorrow, including the fallout from today's power debacle.

05/03/2010
[16:25] Not sure what happened last night. It might have been the slightly over-greasy pizza I cooked or the temperature in the house but I woke in the night and had about ten minutes of not getting back to sleep. I think part of it could still be the back-of-my-mind thoughts/wonderings about what the next year is going to bring. If it's that then either way I imagine I'll be sleeping a lot more soundly in a month or so when most of everything should be decided.

In the meantime I come to work, I do my work, I go on (backup) tape runs, I run a rather pleasant 10K with my iPod in (a gift from the lovely Kris) and I do organsing and stuff.

This weekend as there is no racing I will be rowing both mornings, Tescoing as per and then getting busy with the paintbrush again. I might even pull out the drill and (after perhaps popping out for a drill bit) finally get the new toilet roll holder mounted. Wouldn't that be a turn up for the books?

Finally, I'm doing my first every roast lamb this evening. Half a leg, with probably some potatoes and other vegetables to round the meal out. Happily Kris will be on hand Skypularly to give helpful comments and suggestions as well as telling me about how her day is going. All I need to do is make it home and there's an evening of fun and relaxation ahead. Not as much as if Kris were home, but an adequate amount.

04/03/2010
[17:05] Mostly today has been about doing upgrades and getting stuff ready for the big downtime planned for the finance system over the next few days. This is good as I didn't sleep perfectly last night and I was looking for a day without much stress in it. Renewing half a dozen SSL certificates, following the whole Portal debate/discovery thing and generally cursing climate change for causing this weekend's Reading Head rowing race for being cancelled due to river conditions.

On the plus side the latter does mean that my weekend isn't going to deviate from the normal row, Tesco, housework routine. Speaking of house work I did some painting last night to make up for the fact the rowing outing was cancelled and I didn't feel like going to do an erg. It turns out the people who did turn up derigged the boat in my absence, which must have been a bit galling for them now given the cancellation.

Standard Thursday this evening although I don't know if anyone is going to turn up or not. If they don't that's cool as I have food to eat and stuff to do all over the place. For a start I apparently need to put a second coat of paint on the wall in the main bedroom where the gutters leaked a few months ago. The coat I put on yesterday doesn't seem to have covered the water marks which got left behind. Then there's attempting to drill some 6mm holes for the replacement toilet roll holder without destroying the entire new bathroom and the list goes on.

I should also really do some dusting and vacuuming. Not having Kris here means the place stays exactly as tidy as I leave it (not necessarily a good thing, I'd prefer she was here being creative and expressive) but it doesn't make it any cleaner. This weekend could be rather busy if I manage to avoid the sofa when returning from rowing.

03/03/2010
[16:55] We seem to have returned for the moment to a lull in work. I've found myself casting about for things to do but all my servers are fully patched (such as they're allowed to be given the patches I've tested Vs those still pending for rollout), all my documentation (apart from the stuff I really don't want to do) is up to date and there's really nothing else broken that needs fixing (that I have responsibility for). I've tried suggesting some new software we might want to use but there doesn't seem to be a call for it. I guess it's time to hit the books again.

It turns out the height and stream (flow speed) of the river coupled with limited availability of many of my crew means no outing this evening. This means we won't be rowing again until the race on Saturday afternoon. I should probably go and do the 40 minute erg this evening instead so that I fill up my evening between getting home and having dinner with Kate at around 20:10. On the other hand given that I did quite a fast 6km at lunch time maybe I should stay home and do some painting (just a smidgen) which I've been putting off.

A big lump of missing Kris arrived a little while ago and I've been making a manful effort to swallow it down. Unfortunately going back to a house which doesn't have her in it makes it feel like much less of a home. Still, I can be patient and wait for everything to pan out. As she says "it's just going to take a while."

02/03/2010
[16:05] The only things to report today are that I went out for lunch but didn't have a burrito (although I did meet Abigail for the first time in what must be months), collected two machines single-handedly from town and learned about how poor the interview Kris was at went. Not that she wasn't performing at her best but more that the place, the people and what she experienced really didn't work out too well. I think she's somewhere over Middle America at the moment heading back to North Carolina. Once she's recovered (and prepared for her next trip away) I'm sure I'll get to learn more.

I'm going to attempt to go via home to one of the council offices nearby when I leave work a little earlier today. I'm going to aim to pick up one of the free kitchen caddies for putting compostable waste into (apparently you can get packs of 50 paper bags for it too for a few pounds but I might just use newspaper). Hopefully I'll get there before they close at 17:00.

01/03/2010
[18:15] Time flies when you're Nessus scanning machines with a new version of Nessus which has dispensed with the old client/server model and now has a built in web server that serves everything as Flash. Seriously, things can take a lot longer now (at the same time as happening more quickly). I wish I had packed my lights but I really didn't think I'd be staying this late this evening. Still, it's a good job I ran 10K at lunch because I'm not going to be going erging this evening.

So yes, a new version of Nessus and with it a complete change in how things work. Or not a complete change because some of the old bugs appear to have made it over to the completely-rewritten-from-scratch-in-a-new-language version. And there's actually less functionality in places. Like the inability to save scans (you have to create/import the machines you want to scan every time rather than targetting a preselected group). Still, it means I've had something new to learn today, which is great.

The weekend's rowing wasn't too bad given the weather. Saturday we headed out in light rain but still benefited from the slight increase in temperatures over previous winter outings. Unfortunately someone's seat broke after about forty minutes at the furthest point from the boat house so six of us had to row us the whole way back. Still it did give us a chance to work out some problems with our technigues. Or at least some of us. It absolutely pelted down with rain and hail during the afternoon. I'm partially embarrassed to say that I spent most of that time on the sofa. I mean, I made lunch, put on a wash, tidied a little and stuff but I didn't do any actual painting or anything, and I should have.

I was hopeful that the storms would lash us overnight and Sunday's outing would be cancelled but the weather was actually tolerable. Plus I kept my feet completely dry by finding a pair of wellies at the boat house to walk the boat into the water seeing as the river had flooded quite a lot. As they were just a little too small I opted to just take off my socks when we finished and wade in bare feet. That water was cold. The outing itself was mostly about pushing us out of our comfort zone in preparation for the race at Reading next weekend (Saturday). I think we did reasonably well but it's doubtful we'll actually win anything. I don't really mind, I'm only in it (rowing) for the fitness and the skill. Again, after rowing I came home and got dry, fed and watered and did very little else, again. Really, I don't think I should have had to have done anything else.

Today as I said has been mainly about getting to grips with the new Nessus installation and running the scans. I think I've got a handle on all the bugs and foibles now and as all the scans have finished and I've parsed the reports into something the management will be able to read in less than a week it's time for me to go home.

Kris is interviewing in Smalltown, Ohio today. Unless something truly extraordinary happens I seriously doubt she'd take the job if it were offered to her. From what she told me this morning in email it's very much a case of "this town ain't big enough for the both of us" and actually not even for one of us. Still, it's somewhere new to visit and gets her out of her parents' house for a few days.

And speaking of houses, I think I'll go and occupy mine.