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24/05/2010
[16:05] A fun filled and certainly fun packed weekend! Mostly it was all about the rowing. Saturday morning I had an outing with the senior men (whom I thought I wasn't a part of any more since the seat racing at Peterborough) which went pretty well all things considered. We had two outings, the first of which was all about three minute pieces, the second a technical row. I wasn't particularly inclined to hang around at the boat house after the outing considering the Sunday's events to come so I headed home, did some housework, went to get some fly spray for the roses and had an honest-to-goodness sunbathe/read in the garden.

Sunday was all about the rowing. I was at the boat house for before 08:00 and was either on the water or in the boat house until around 16:00. Two outings in the morning (one with the senior men, one with the novices), then lunch, then a race with the veterans and then immediately after that a race with the novice men. I'm very pleased to report that I made only four bad strokes over the four outings and almost certainly got some good technical habits embedded into muscle memory. After that amount of exercise over the course of two days of strong sunlight (wonderful weather this weekend just gone) I felt perfectly entitled to come home and slob out on the sofa for the rest of the day. I did go to bed fairly late but still woke with the sun (so around 04:50) this morning again.

That won't be such a bad thing tomorrow morning when I need to be up and about at exactly that time anyway as I'm off to see Kris tomorrow! That's right, I will be risking the volcanic ash cloud (now seemingly gone for the moment with the volcano having reduced itself to simply putting out steam) to head off to see Kris graduate from Harvard (lots of photos) and spend some time with her before we have at least another six weeks of being apart with only email and Skype to satisfy us. Still, we keep reminding each other that it's better than days gone by when all you had was the written word and steam ships across the Atlantic. We're blessed, really, considering what we've undertaken.

Anyway, we'll be together in about 28 hours from now for a few days and it should be awesome. Doubly awesome as we'll both be making new memories of Boston, a place I haven't been since November 2007. I honestly can't wait and even the prospect of having to sit with Kris' parents while she's somewhere else isn't diminishing my enthusiasm. So, yeah, that's about it for the moment. I'll be back later.

21/05/2010
[16:30] It looks like, right now, there won't be any ash when I'm flying. But that's not to say the weather won't change between now and then. It turned out that almost no-one wanted to come over last night, so it didn't happen. This was probably as good thing as I got to do some useful things I wouldn't have been able to do otherwise. I'm holding fire on a few of them until I get back from seeing Kris, but theoretically I should be able to do at least one or two more before I go, even with a weekend as packed full of rowing as this one is going to be.

Not much happened at work today so I did some much-needed tidying of the office but stopped short of doing my team leader's desk as he seems to revel in the chaos which lives there.

I'm rowing this evening, rowing tomorrow morning and rowing pretty much most of all of Sunday, along with the run I did in the really rather hot and wonderful weather this lunch time it looks like the end of the week is going to be pretty energetic. Good job I've got this evening to totally flake out and relax. I'll be back on Monday looking forward to whatever happens then... and hoping the ash stays away.

20/05/2010
[17:05] Blah blah blah, erging, dinner, TV. Today similarly dull. Honestly nothing going on here. Went to see Cormac at lunch. Spent some time looking at a few other wedding venues. Worried about next week's flight and the volcano a little bit. Heading home now to prepare for the standard evening Thursday social thingy. Hopefully I'll have something more interesting to say tomorrow.
19/05/2010
[17:05] Went to the boat house last night and did a good solid 8km erg. It felt good to be back on the machine again (even if going on the water is more fun). I should try to make sure I do it a bit more often, like maybe tonight. Anyway, after that I did a bit of weights work and came home. As a result this morning I had some aches in my muscles which tells me that I hadn't done weight training in too long. I should fix that too.

Today not very much has happened. There was a minor issue with an LDAP perl script which I thought could be fixed one way but my team leader ended up fixing another way. I'm certain my way would have worked too (and a side effect of it would actually be more sensible in the long run) but his was also correct. Still, I learned something new, which was useful.

Today's 6km run was done in pretty hot and humid weather so I'm not too sure how fast it was, but it was good to feel like there's only a thin film of rust over my full-on fitness level. Fitness breeds fitness, or at least a desire for another blip of endorphins. And who am I to deny myself feeling good. Be assured that there's still plenty of lazy in me to stop me getting addicted and burning myself out. Also I like eating tasty food too much to under-eat or go on one of those calorie/fat/protein counting food plans.

So, erging, a spot of weights (or floor work) and home to eat and chat to Kris before TV. Sounds like a good evening to me.

18/05/2010
[16:40] I sent Kris an extremely strongly-worded email last night. It was a lovely email but it expressed my frustrations with the wedding fettling that we're having to go through. It's wonderful to know we're both thinking exactly the same things, at pretty much the same times. In my opinion it bodes well for the future. I'm so happy that I've somehow been lucky enough to find someone who so neatly matches me and fills in the gaps in my personality as I do hers. I know there's a bucket-load (or four) more stress to go before this thing happens at some time, somewhere. I also know that two people enduring the stress together (especially when we manage to get her home again with a valid visa) is far easier that them doing it in isolation.

I went home last night to do a small job I shouldn't have had to do if I'd been thinking a bit more clearly, but that's done now. After that I decided it was high time I had an evening at home doing very little at all. Of course this did involve a long chat with my girl and making "Chinese takeaway" for dinner, but otherwise it was a wonderful relaxing evening. Better in company, nice on one's own.

I was supposed to be in work for 07:00 this morning patching six machines but was told around 18:00 last night that there was an issue and, while it probably wasn't to do with RHEL, it was going to be put off a few days until the DBAs and apps team were sure. It was indeed nothing to do with RHEL and there's a good chance that once people have calmed down a little I should be able to do the updates on Thursday morning.

I'm going to go and erg this evening and then settle down to watch the last of the TV I have pending from last week (and a few bits from this week). Damn, and do the washing up too.

17/05/2010
[16:15] This weekend my parents came to stay so that we could go and look at some potential wedding venues with more than just me asking questions and getting things wrong or an incomplete idea of what a place could offer. They turned up on Friday in time to meet me from work and take me to Tesco for the weekly shop which was wonderful. Not having to cart everything back on the bike just once was a great way to end the week.

Saturday we got up rowing outing early and were out of the door only ten minutes late. This mean, because of eventual traffic on the M25 that we were about fifteen minutes late for our first appointment. This didn't seem to matter though and we saw the place, talked to the wedding coordinator and took lots of photos in plenty of time. The place was on which Kris had found for us to look at only on Friday morning so we were lucky that we were able to get an appointment at such short notice. It was... mostly "meh" with hints that it could be fairly OK.

After writing up our notes we headed off to get to the next place. Traffic was even worse at this point and a badly (no, really, terribly almost falsely) signposted landmark meant that we had to add about twenty minutes to our journey going up a dual carriageway and back down the almost stationary jam on the other side to find the junction we wanted. To compound the mistake the venue turned out to be mostly no good with just a few hints of wonderful. But at the end of the day just not enough to sell it to us. This was a shame as it'd been our main hope for the day and somewhere we'd have booked there and then because of the helpfulness of the wedding coordinator both previously and during the meeting we had. We bought some badly-made, overpriced sandwiches for lunch and wrote up our notes in the car park.

We arrived at our final venue for the day more than an hour early. This allowed us to wander around the grounds in a leisurely manner and admire the place. Unfortunately after waiting until five minutes past when the wedding coordinator was due to find us we discovered that she was in fact off sick and had left messages with everyone who was supposed to have an appointment today. I didn't get one. In the end we got a young duty manager who wasn't quite sure of himself or what the place could offer but who nevertheless was very helpful and really tried his best to be accommodating and give us the information we needed. There were a few issues with the place which hopefully Kris will be able to iron out over the phone with the wedding coordinator once she's back (tomorrow apparently). Suffice it to say it appears to be the best of an OK to bad bunch. We drove home (happily there were no traffic problems) and I made a curry from almost scratch before an early bed for all. I'm very grateful to my father for the amount of driving he did this weekend. We sat around and thought about all of the places we'd seen and reread the stuff for the place we were going to see on Sunday while I put the photos I'd taken up on a photo site for Kris to see. In the end we realised the place we would be seeing on the Sunday wasn't going to work for us so I emailed Kris just before lights out.

As a result Sunday was a much more relaxed affair. After sleeping in a bit (not that I can do that these days) we chatted with Kris for two and a bit hours about Saturday, came to some decisions and then had lunch. Afterwards we popped out to Homebase and Tesco for a few things and then almost went for a walk in a local park before realising we'd much rather go home and read. I mowed the grass and my father and I did a bit of external DIY too. By the time we were done it was pretty much evening so dinner, a spot of TV and then bed.

My parents left this morning as I was leaving for work. They were off to see a relative nearby and I was off to prepare for patching and rebooting six machines tomorrow morning. Other than go for a rather exhausting 6km run in quite hot weather I've not done much other than that, tidy the server room and do a few dozen configuration things for some of the services we run. I'm off to chat to Kris this evening about more obstacles and hurdles that're being (what feels like) maliciously being placed in our way before relaxing and catching up with some television for the first time since Thursday. Tomorrow is going to be a very early start.

14/05/2010
[16:30] Nice turnout of people last night. Just a few but still enough to have a good evening of two films, pizza and chat. I didn't sleep well but I think I can blame going from being famished to overeating just slightly.

Today has been pretty dead work-wise. I had plenty of time to pop to the doctor for a bit of a checkup, discover the boat house was locked so that I couldn't use my new swipe card to erg at lunch time and then rush around on the phone making another appointment to see a place in Windsor for viewing as a potential wedding venue. This has meant cancelling coffee with Dunk but he was busy anyway so that's probably a good thing. Once we know which place we are going to book we can meet him and Andy there one weekend a few months from now.

Anyway, I should go. My parents are already at my house (reading the paper in the garden) so I should head off so we can go to Tesco (in a car, luxury!) and do some final research on the places we're seeing this weekend. It's a shame it's the cup final tomorrow. I hope that doesn't mean the M25 is going to be jammed solid.

13/05/2010
[17:00] Last night's rowing outing wasn't too bad. I was with three other experienced rowers but we just couldn't pull it together consistently. It didn't really matter as I got to put some good strokes in myself. I also got to chat to Kris when relaxing on the sofa afterwards, which was a nice bonus.

I would have gone to do some erging at lunch time today but I ended up becoming deeply embroiled in an installation of RT (Request Tracker) for the web team which went a little wrong to begin with when dependencies were pulled in from RPMforge rather than EPEL (where the RT package was coming from). Cue me spending lunch time working on uninstalling all of the perl packages that'd been sucked in, vanilla-ising RHEL5's perl base and then getting the right packages from EPEL's repository. Things went a lot more smoothly after that. 'All' we have to do now is work out how to get RT to send and receive emails and we're golden. I might even use it myself.

I post the form to the Post Office today which says "Oi, where's my letter wot I sent to the US a month ago?" I don't think it'll do any good, or get me any compensation, but it's worth a shot and might just cause someone to find the letter and send it on to its destination. Perhaps in time for Kris and I to get it when we're there for her graduation in two weeks. But I doubt it.

It's a Thursday again tonight. I don't know if anyone else is going to bother coming but I'm going to be watching at least one tolerably good film (maybe two) and eating pizza.

That's just how I roll.

12/05/2010
[12:30] So this morning my team leader discovered that the file on four of the Very Important Servers which tells them where to find all their disks and things had been overwritten with one (valid) line. Everything else was missing. We immediately blamed the DBAs as we're always sure we're one command away from them messing something up with their access to the root account. My team leader even went into a meeting to chew the lead DBA out and tell him and his team to be more careful in the future. It was only after he'd been gone about three minutes that I realised that I was the person who'd made the mistake. Towards the tail end of last week I'd been asked to add another NFS mount to the servers we were making live. Rather than use the append command (>>) I accidently only used (let's call it) the overwrite command (>) and so added the new mount while erasing all of the old ones. I headed into the meeting and admitted my culpability as soon as I could and then came back and spent the five minutes required to rebuild the files on each of the servers. I then went about checking all twenty other machines to make sure I hadn't made the same mistake elsewhere. I had, on two other machines. I fixed them too. This problem wouldn't have been discovered until we'd tried to reboot any of them. At that point things would almost certainly (but not definitely) have become 'very interesting' very quickly. I'm just glad my team leader was doing something which required modification of the file so someone noticed. Obviously I feel pretty dumb right about now but basically it was just one missing character. Copied to five other machines without me noticing, but still just one character. I don't really have any excuse.

In other news, I went to the boat house last night and did my 2K test. I didn't do as well as I would have liked so I rested a bit and did another 2K and then another little bit after that. I also got myself a swipe card so I can actually start letting myself into the place when there's no-one there. I was going to go at lunch time today but I figured as I'm rowing this evening and I did stuff last night I deserve a lunch time off.

Kris and chatted on Skype for the first time since last Thursday. We had a lot to talk about... more than I thought and still more than keep thinking we need to consider. I think the best way to get through everything is to take a leaf from her book and go with "micromovements". Rather than looking at the big long list and going "that's a lot!" I'm going to try and break things down into much more easy to manage bits. First up is learning more about what things I need to arrange and pay for to get this wedding legal and stuff. Then there's learning to drive (again).

11/05/2010
[16:25] So I went to the boat house last night and sanded blades for most of the evening. Aside from the noise and the vibration and getting covered in fine blue paint dust it was a nice way to spend the evening. Admittedly I did need to take a shower to guarantee all of the paint had come off me before I went home but definitely a constructive contribution.

Today started off slowly as all I was really doing was waiting for someone to tell me that I was authorised to rebuild the six servers I had scheduled. The word didn't come down until around 10:20 so as soon as it did I had them rebooted and installing as quickly as I could. You never know when there might actually be a rush job on something like that. Once they were done I had lunch and went into town to start the others off. They too seem to have installed without any problems so I've already handed them back to the DBAs and asked them to say if there are any issues.

I'm straight off to the boat house after work in the hopes it'll be open when I get there. Otherwise I'll have to wait until someone with a key turns up. I'm attempting my 2K test again this evening. Once that's over for good or for ill I'll go home, have some food and chat to Kris on Skype for the first time since the tail end of last week. Lots to talk about!

Oh, also bought my coach ticket for the trip to see Kris' graduation. Like you care.

10/05/2010
[16:45] It's surprising how untired I feel considering what the weekend consisted of to be honest. Saturday, in the rain we drove to Peterborough and I and most of the active rowers in my club went out on the Nene (in the rain) to get a fair amount of mileage in in crew configurations we'd not tried before. People got cold, and wet. And more wet. And basically drenched. It was almost the most miserable I've been in a boat yet. Luckily we finished at around 14:30 and we were able to have hot showers and go home. Although by the time we got home again it was mostly too late to do anything other than hang my kit out in the hopes it would dry and make some dinner.

Sunday we drove back to Peterborough again and spent the day interleaving 1km races with the novice men, women and senior men on the boating/racing lake there. Out of the four 1K races I'm pleased to say I won at least one with the crew I was in at the time. I have no idea how this'll affect my placing in various crews, but I hope that it doesn't mean I end up in the boat I find deeply uncomfortable to sit in. That one bites your calves something fierce. Anyway, once the racing was done and the boats were back on the trailer we all went home again and I spent the afternoon having a damned good relax on the sofa. Somehow I managed to stay awake until the end of the day but was very, very happy to get my head down and sleep.

This morning I've done what preparation I can for the six server rebuild I should be doing tomorrow (but still have no idea if this is the case). It might be Wednesday, or Thursday, at this rate. Still, a chance to do some wedding fettling and ensure everything I can think of is ready for these server rebuilds is helpful. Especially as I feel a little tired (but not as much as I thought I would) even with a nice little 6km run at lunch.

I'll be down at the boat house this evening doing a bit of blade sanding and painting I think. Not too much though, I want to do some heavy-duty relaxation tonight too. That or consider painting the bathroom ceiling.

07/05/2010
[16:30] Shaun, Fran and Annushka came over last night. No-one else made it which meant I didn't feel overwhelmed with people. Annushka was quiet for the most part and I had plenty of time to chat to Shaun and Fran about how things were going as well as watching Inglorious Basterds with them over Chinese food.

I came in this morning ready to do stuff today but nothing's really come up, I guess it's all waiting until next week. There've been a few meetings but they're above my pay grade so instead I've been looking at monitoring scripts, going for a 10K run (I tried to keep the pace down but probably didn't manage, but at least I kept going) and compiling a Tesco shopping list for this evening. I plan to buy food, go home (not go to the boat house to help rack boats on the trailer) and watch all the recorded television I have waiting for me.

This weekend I'll be rowing both days on Peterborough rowing lake with my club doing training and stuff. I expect to get very wet, tired and hungry. I should make sure I have at least two meals I can prepare quickly for Saturday and Sunday evenings. Other than that I think that's it. Kris is in Florida over the weekend with most of her still-alive female relatives doing something Mothers Day (US) related. Next week is going to have at least one day (currently Tuesday) when I'll be doing lots of server installations and almost certainly one or two days when I won't be allowed to make any changes whatsoever.

06/05/2010
[17:15] I completely failed to do my 2K test last night. I just kind of gave up about 1200m in. I'm disappointed in myself. I'll have another go next Tuesday after this weekend's training camp at Peterborough rowing lake. I'm still quite tired and generally feeling like I'm quite honestly far less cardio-vascularly fit than I could be right now. Disappointing generally. I will attempt to remedy this gradually over the next few weeks by actually doing something about it in a reasonable manner rather than going from nought to sixty and see if I can't generally feel a bit better about myself physically.

Work today consisted mainly of long conversations with colleagues and my line manager about the perils, pitfalls and (complete lack of) problems with moving from RHEL5.4 to RHEL5.5. That's about it, really.

I'm having Shaun, Fran and Annushka (and Rachel and Charles) over this evening which means small children and probably some loud screaming at some point or other. Still, I haven't met Annushka yet and it'll be nice to see people and catch up.

05/05/2010
[16:35] Last night's trek to a Homebase which had the bits of crockery I wanted was more than a trek. It was more than a trek and a half. It was fully two and a half treks worth of trek. Getting there was pretty OK, although the train stopped at every blade of grass getting to where I needed it to go. I then had to get more rail transport a not inconsiderable distance further. Then a mile or so of walking. Buying the actual stuff was easy... except that I decided that now was the time to actually get more of the other bits we would want to have eight of everything. Cue an extremely heavy pannier to lug back to the train station. Still, everything survived intact. Getting home was the real killer though. After making excellent time on the first rail journey I pulled into the station and made my way to the other platform just in time to see the train I wanted to get pulling away. If I'd been just a few seconds faster I'd have been on it and away. Instead I had to wait half an hour for another train. Once on it it went one stop (every blade of grass again) before stopping for over twenty minutes because the train ahead of it was broken. Eventually we got underway but stopped about fifteen miles from home as the rest of the journey was cancelled because the train was so behind schedule (eh?). We were advised that the train on the other platform would take us the rest of the way. It did, at a snail's pace. Once back at the station I still had to cycle home. I don't think I sat down to dinner before about 22:10.

Eating late doesn't seem to agree with me 100% to judge from how groggy I felt this morning. Still, the morning exercises cleared the cobwebs as usual. At work I was handed two machines to rebuild as 64-bit and did one before and one after lunch (one here, one in town) after frobbing about with my post-install configuration stuff. It's nice to know that I can cycle in to town, arrive at 14:00 and have the machine booting after reinstallation at exactly 14:30. It means when I do six machines in one day next week it won't be too much hassle for me that not all of them are in the server room here.

I'm heading to the boat house this evening to do my 2K erg test tonight. I have to say that I'm really not looking forward to it at all. Still, them's the breaks. I have Kris to chat to, some nice dinner to make (it'll be about time) and then some television to watch afterwards.

04/05/2010
[15:30] A busy few days of rain, effort, and tiredness. Saturday was pretty cool as the rowing in the morning wasn't too hard so as to leave us with plenty of energy for racing the next day. For the first time we managed to get out with the crew we were going to be competing as. It wasn't an awesome outing, but neither was it terrible. I would have preferred another cox but there was nothing to be done on that score. I toddled off to Tesco and Homebase after chatting with Kris to buy some energy food for the competition and also some more crockery to expand the set we bought with money provided as our engagement present. Unfortunately I could get everything except four small bowls. I spent a large chunk of the afternoon in store and much of the evening tracking down which Homebases still had what was apparently a discontinued stock item. To cut a long story short I'm getting on a train this evening to buy some.

Oh, I forgot to mention that the parts I was waiting for on Friday hadn't turned up by 18:00. When I called Logistics they said I should have been informed well before then that they weren't due until 21:00. Peeved, I asked for delivery on Tuesday, pre-10:00. One part arrived on time this morning and has been fitted and all is funky with the server it fixed. The other part is still AWOL.

Sunday was a very long day. Up and down at the boat house for 06:30 we drove to Dorney Lake for the Wallingford Regatta. It's impressive to see just over 2km of distance so clearly delineated. It's less impressive to lose both of your races (coming last both times). Still, we weren't there to win but to experience competition against a very high quality field. The weater was extremely terrible for the first half of the day with high winds and torrential rain. Needless to say we got pretty soaked. Even with dry clothes to wear on the way home I felt pretty bedraggled by the time we got home at around 19:30. The takeaway I ordered took over an hour to arrive but that was OK as I had to let a lot of the sugar I'd eaten during the day make its way out of my system. Still, it could have been a bit tastier.

Bank holiday Monday was going to be spent relaxing, then going on a long cycle ride, then watching the hail and staying in doors. What it turned out to be was a 30 mile cycle ride (15 of which done at speed following some very fast people on racing bikes) and then going to the cinema to see Iron Man 2.

Today I've fitted the one part (after remembering to move the RAID battery across to the new card only after closing up the box (thus having to open it all back up again)) and just had the other one arrive on my desk, finally. I shall go and fit that as soon as I've done this entry. My team also just had it announced to us that in a week or so I'm going to have to reprep and roll out at least four servers, if not six in a day. This is eminently doable. We just wish someone had flagged it up a little sooner.

I've also solved the LSI RAID card monitoring issue I had last week by dropping the use of mpt-status and switching to lsiutil. This little binary is nicely scriptable and might even replace mpt-status on the servers where the BIOS PCI scan order isn't an issue.

So, like I said, I'll head off and do this "rear fan blower" unit replacement and then in an hour or so head off to find a Homebase far away which has the crockery I need. I should be going to the boat house this evening as this week is test week (7 stroke, 1 minute, 2km and 5km tests) but real life does come first.