[17:10] I resigned today. This morning to be exact. I am now officially in
my 3 months notice period. This would be because my visa interview date has
come through (actually it did a few weeks ago, but don't worry about that).
Yes, I'm aware that I shouldn't make life changing decisions before I actually
have the visa in my passport, but work have very kindly said that if for some
strange reason I don't get my visa they'll be happy to tear up my letter of
resignation until I do get it.
Wait. Did I not mention that I was going to be moving to America? I'm pretty
sure I did. It might have been a while ago and we all just forgot. Anyway,
yes I'm moving to America as we weren't able to find a job for my good lady
wife in this country. We've shipped pretty much all of our worldly belongings
already, I've sold the house (to my ex-girlfriend's ex-landlady who's very
happy for me to rent it from her until the day I leave, so that's good) and am
selling all the furniture and electrical items which won't work on America's
stupid voltage to her when I go (only I haven't sold my amplifier and speakers
yet, which is a little concerning) and I'm living in a pretty
sparsely-decorated house right now and feeling... well, rather OK about it.
Minimalism is something I could get used to I think. So yes, the visa
interview is just before Christmas down in London at the US Embassy (actually
the day we were supposed to go North to my parents' for Christmas so we're
actually traveling separately now (given we'd already bought train tickets...
I had to buy another one up from London instead), there's a medical thingy
too, but that shouldn't be any kind of problem.
I think that's the big news of the day. Yesterday's return to exercise (6K
run and gym in the evening) left me feeling a little light headed at the end
of the gym session and a tad achey today. The latter can only be a good
thing. The former I'll work on by staying a bit more hydrated I think. I was
tempted to go to a running club this evening, but I honestly think that this
week more than most I need to have days where I don't do proper exercise in
between the ones when I do. Maybe I'll go next week instead. I'm running and
gymming tomorrow, so it'll be fine.
Other than that... that seems to be all the news I can remember from today.
Really quiet for work in my team at the moment. Or it's not but my team
leader is hiding everything from me and/or doing it all himself. That'd be
mildly frustrating if so. I think I will go home and have some Thanksgiving
leftovers for dinner.
[16:50] Wotcha. I'm back. Kris has been dispatched back to the States again
to do her thing while I do mine here. We've had a wonderful time for the last
ten day or so. After she spent the day in London at a conference on Saturday
last we've spent five days in Polesworth in an abbey gatehouse which had been
superbly renovated into a perfect hideaway for two people, been to the
Christmas Markets in Birmingham, walked around the countryside close to the
Abbey, visited Stratford-uopn-Avon (Americans love Shakespeare) and, after
returning home on our one year wedding anniversary hosted a Thanksgiving
dinner for seventeen people (sixteen plus small children) which has left me
with enough delicious leftovers to see me fed until Kris returns for Christmas
on the 15th. It was really, truly fabulous to have Kris back again. I can't
wait until it's a permanent state of affairs again (us being together). More
on that in the next few days.
Kris was on the 03:00 coach to Heathrow this morning. As usual, waking up at
02:00 was unpleasant and put a bit of a downer on the day. It also involving
Kris leaving didn't help. Morning exercises did restore some zip to the day
though, which was goodish. Ten or so days without them was definitely
beginning to be noticable. Another noticable effect of ten days without hard
exercise was that the lunchtime run was much less pleasant than its usual
slight unpleasantness. With luck a few days of getting back in the groove
will see me right. It's good that there's a mass of food (although not as
much as you might expect) left over from Thanksgiving. It means I don't have
to think about meals besides reheating and adding a few things for the next
few days. That'll be good tonight when I get back from my first gym session
in ten days, too.
Hopefully Kris will make it back to the apartment safely some time in the next
four or five hours and I'll get a text, phone or Skype call from her saying
so. I'd rather not go to bed until I know she's back and safe. As for me,
the daily grind restarted today, although with a brief period of learning
about this here place's "values" and how we can work
smarter/harder/whatever-er to embrace them. Or something like that. It all
felt a bit pointless to be perfectly frank. I engaged in the discussions more
to stay awake than because I thought it would do any good. Apparently our
comments (those written down at any rate) will be passed up to director level
unvarnished and unedited. I can't see it causing any massive changes.
[16:35] A slighty less poor, but still not awesome night's sleep. Of course,
there was a highlight in that Kris was there, but being tired and generally
half-asleep wasn't great in the early morning. Hopefully as I get used to her
being back with me things will settle down and start working correctly. That
would be nice.
Work was again quiet today. Just a few general systems administration tasks
to do like creating SVN repositories, setting up users for Redmine to interact
with SVN, cleaning up Cacti warnings and generally keeping things ticking
Went out at lunch time with Kris to see another bank person about money.
While he was practically useless in every way he did highlight some
interesting issues we'll need to address.
Anyway, enough about that. I'm off for the weekend to compete in a (rowing)
race with old guys on Saturday while Kris is in London giving a talk, spent
all of next week in an abbey gatehouse with Kris celebrating our first year of
being married and then hold a Thanksgiving meal for 18 people (17 + three
small children). It's going to be brilliant.
However, for tonight: gym and dinner! Have a good weekend, week, weekend
again and I'll see you bright and early on the 28th, having just said goodbye
to Kris at 03:00, again.
[14:50] Patched ten machines this morning, one of them a DB box, all of them
the live "flagship" service for here. And, aside from having to wait an age
for updatedb to complete on them, everything went perfectly. What wasn't
perfect was having to leave Kris at home at 06:30 so I could get it done in
good time. Still, she was shattered from the travel and we both slept
terribly last night so it was good for her to sleep in. Given she usually
gets up at 05:00 where ever she is, sleeping in until 10:00 definitely meant
she needed it.
We went out for a curry last night as a celebration for her being back. The
local (excellent) place opened at 17:30 so we went there and had the place to
ourselves, which was nice. Having walked to the house from town it we had big
appetites, which were excellently dealt with by starters and main courses.
We met up at lunch time today to see a bank person about money things and I'm
about to head back into town to meet her again (early arrival means early
departure from work) to sit in a bookshop cafe and read and have nice things
while she finishes her talk that she'll be giving on Saturday in London while
I'm rowing. We'll head to the pub this evening to see people for a little
while and then go home and collapse a bit more. Thank goodness it's Friday
[14:15] This morning would have gone a whole lot more smoothly if I'd actually
followed the instructions I'd painstakingly written over the last few years of
doing the exact same patching routine I did this morning. Forgetting to
comment out mount points, not rebooting in single user mode, not them
unmounting semi-failed mount points before attempting RDAC driver and initrd
installation. These are all schoolboy errors I could have avoided if I'd just
read my own instructions. Still, it all finished properly and I had the
machines and service back up right on the dot of 08:00, an hour before it was
supposed to be. So that was OK.
In contrast to that, last night's two hour driving refresher lesson went
really quite well. For the first eighty minutes or so I drove around town and
didn't stall once. There were a few reminders to check mirrors at obvious
junctures (and junctions) and some advice about changing gear more in
anticipation of the road conditions ahead, but otherwise it was pretty good.
I did get a few stalls in later on due to clutch control issues, and my
parallel parking needs to be a whole lot slower, but I think on the whole I'm
safe to be in the car with (or in a car on the same road as). Which is nice.
Of course this doesn't mean I'll be any good in a car where people drive on
the other side of the road, or in an automatic. But knowing how to drive a
manual should mean that driving an automatic just means fewer things to think
about at important moments, right?
Speaking of important moments, Kris is even now approaching town in a coach
from Heathrow. I'm due to get out of here at 15:00 which is pretty much when
her coach arrives, so I'm going to go and meet her at the coach stop and we'll
walk home in the bright, clear, cold day. Given I arrived at work in darkness
and recently have been leaving work in darkness this should be a nice change.
A web developer seems to have dropped a (sort of) live database from the live
web database server. He did this trying to install some new software and
believing that the database on there was... well, I don't really know what
caused him to delete it, but he did. He also installed a new version of the
softare as he couldn't configure the version I'd installed as part of the
build process for the servers I'd created (not my fault). So all morning
we've been trying to work out what database has gone missing considering the
one we restored (from verified-as-working backup and hotbackup scripts)
doesn't seem to a) have any data in it and, b) hasn't been altered since
August. It's all a bit confusing given the person who installed it all in the
first place doesn't seem to understand what's going on either and is part of
the reason why we normally do the application installation so we know what the
hell is going on. I'll be glad to get out of here in just under forty-five
minutes and make it someone else's problem. At least for the rest of today.
Tomorrow morning I'm taking down all of the live instance of our flagship
service (web, app and DB layers) for RHEL patching. All being well all should
be well but a) I'm having to leave Kris earlier than I would like and, b) it's
a live service so I'm sure something will go wrong. I think we have enough
servers that if one of the tiers goes tits-up we should be OK, but I'm
reasonably sure it won't.
[16:50] Tonight I am having my driving refresher lessons. 17:30-19:30. It
will be interesting given I haven't driven since I had my test (which
I passed) in 2002. I imagine I will have next to no clutch control and could
even find myself failing to look at my mirrors enough, signaling too late and
potentially hitting curbs. I may need more than one two hour lesson. Still,
it's about time I dusted off my skills so that Kris can have a break from
driving sometimes. Especially from the middle of 2012 onwards.
Went for a run at lunch time today. After last night's just-under-8K erg
doing a flat-out 6K run was a bit painful, but I think I did pretty well. It
is a wonderful feeling to know that the discomfort I feel in the first
kilometre or so dies away and I'm left simply feeling like it's hard work
rather than painful.
Work has consisted of preparing for tomorrow's patching at the other server
room (FC detachment necessary during one of the two reboots I'll be doing),
doing lots of package downloads, and learning a bit more about configuration
file parsing with Augeas. I've even discovered a bug in it, which is nice.
As I write this Kris is doing her last class and then heading to the apartment
and thence to the Metro and the airport. In approximately 22 hours she'll be
here again! Woohoo! It's going to be wonderful! I should do the washing,
and the washing up, and probably shave. I'm glad tomorrow morning is an early
start as I doubt I'd be able to sleep in, and I get to leave early too!
Right, time to go home and find both bits of my driving license.
[16:25] Had a pretty good weekend. Broke my 5K PB substantially (19:07!)
which means I have a new target for the end of the year (oh dear). Dashed
home to shower and then out to the train station to get to a friend's birthday
meal in London. Walked from the station to Camden, which was fun, had food,
felt pretty ropey and have put it down to the effort I put into the run in the
morning. Came home at the end of the day after a pub visit and didn't really
eat anything much for dinner. Slept terribly but got up feeling OK for rowing
with some very good rowers in a 4+. Came back from that and was at Tesco
before it opened (must remember it doesn't open before 11:00 on a Sunday). As
well as chatting to Kris and setting the world to rights, spent the rest of
the day cleaning the house and generally trying to get some relaxation in in
the midst of two loads of washing. The weather this weekend was so mild I had
all the windows and doors open and the washing out in the garden.
Today has been quiet, which is always nice for a Monday. I've fixed a service
check I had pending which was giving sort-of-not-quite false positives and now
gives real positives. I've also been looking into another service check which
may prove to be extremely difficult/impossible to automate with curl and
artfully constructed data arguments. Silly Oracle for not using the same
authentication scheme across all of their application stacks. If anyone knows
how to provide the password to an Oracle Discoverer viewer login page, do get
I was going to be having a driving refresher lesson this evening, but that's
now tomorrow evening instead, so I'm off to the gym for a 30 minute erg and a
little of bit of weights instead with Tom.
[16:20] Big news today! Well, last night, but I only found out this morning
so it's more today than yesterday. Anyway, I can't tell you quite what it is
yet, except that it's big and it marks the final phase of something which has
been taking place for the last few months. As soon as I can tell you what it
is I will. I doubt you'll be surprised, but for various reasons it makes
sense not to tell you, yet. Anyway, thinking about that, doing logistics and
spending a bit of money all happened this morning. Making telephone calls and
putting dates in the calendar happened this afternoon. I think it's all going
to work out.
No exercise at lunchtime today after yesterday's rather hard run. That meant
I was able to get some good stuff done on setting up a web server for someone
and answer questions about modules, Redmine, Phusion Passenger and things like
that. Not much else has been happening at the moment. I do have one bit of
work I've been putting off (a service check for our Oracle Discoverer service
which I set up the servers and load balancing infrastructure for a few weeks
ago). I'll get that done on Monday, I imagine.
This weekend I'm running (parkrun), heading to London for a friend's birthday
lunch, spending some time in London afterwards, rowing on the Sunday morning
(probably) and then going to Tesco. Oh, and I should probably dash around the
house and do a clean (and tidy, although there's not that much to tidy these
[16:30] Phew! With the help of my team leader I've managed to save the Cacti
installation I just accidentally upgraded. Stupid cacti-plugin-architecture
and updates to /cacti/include/config.php.
The run today was my attempt to do a flat out 6K. I think I did pretty well.
Without a watch I can't say it was better than my 'personal best' of 24:35
(unofficial) but it certainly felt quick. I'm seriously looking forward to
ordering a pizza for dinner. I know I shouldn't as I've already eaten out
once this week (Vietnamese with Kate) but dammit, I'm an adult with some
disposable income and I deserve it. Plus I forgot to get anything out to
defrost this morning.
The most exciting part of today (other than the run) has been a discussion
(online) about the merits of postfix vs sendmail, RHEL6 and puppet. I really
do think IRC has become a great tool for me in learning more about Solaris
and linux. Plus sometimes I actually know what someone's asking about and can
even provide answers. Which is nice.
[15:30 - 10/11/2011] Ooops, completely forgot to do this on the day. So, let
me think back on what happened...
Almost nothing at all. Work happened, things were done, I ended up leaving
work past 17:30 due to just trying a few things out. I did go to the gym
after work and after seriously considering not going at all, did a monster
workout and even a bit of an erg on top of that. I think I came quite close
to doing too much as I felt quite lightheaded at one point. Luckily I appear
to know my limits and kept things together. I definitely think I might be
owed a pizza because of the effort I put in.
[15:00] The last of the consecutive early mornings, this morning. And it all
went pretty much flawlessly. Which was nice. There were some temporary
worries about Debian guests rebooting and a minor problem here and there with
incorrect interpreters and typos in startup and shutdown scripts, but
otherwise it was great. This was nice as after two 30 minute ergs last night
(I was supposed to do 40 minutes with Tom, but he didn't turn up until I'd
just done 30 minutes and stopped, so I did another 30 minutes with him) which
tired me out fairly comprehensively. I was actually tired this morning and
slept all the way through to my alarm at 06:00.
The lunchtime run was good. 8K, but pretty slow. I combatted this somewhat
by running loops on the 'hills' to let Hazel and her running friend catch up.
I'm off now to do a psychology experiment for two hours and get some money for
it... which should pay my half of tonight's bill at the Vietnamese restaurant
Kate and I will be visiting.
[16:00] Another Monday, another 06:40-in-work-for-patching start to it. This
time things went well again (aside from an Oracle database not wanting to shut
down properly and an NFS mount hanging on machines being rebooted) but I'm
more concerned about tomorrow when I'm doing another early morning but
patching an entire service all in one go. This time it's not just a series of
Xen hosts and MySQL servers, but the Xen guests are Debian. Not that I'm
patching the Debian boxes, but I know very little about how they hang together
and how the services come up, so if they don't I'm going to have to start
calling people fairly rapidly. After that I'm not due to have another early
morning until the 16th.
Over the weekend I failed to get a PB at parkrun (only a second off my current
one though), went to a pretty good Guy Fawkes Night fireworks display which I
viewed from the boathouse with friends, went for a curry and had a "Nurpuri"
which turned out to be extremely tasty and probably the hottest curry I'd go
for and still enjoy utterly, failed to sleep in on Sunday morning, went for a
22K run (although with some stops to coach a crew from my boat club and rig
another boat at the boathouse), chatted to Kris, went to Tesco, and watched a
whole lot of television I'd fallen behind on. That's about it really.
As I said, this morning's patching went OK. Since then I've done some work on
the logistics for a get-together we're planning, called some people, reverted
someone from x11vnc to VNCserver again (stupid crashy X servers), booked some
refresher driving lessons for next Monday evening and spoken to Kris on Skype
(I really think I should buy shares). I didn't run today as I figured a day
off from that might be a plan, although I am about to go and do a 40 minute
erg with Tom at the gym in about half an hour.
[15:45] Well, that's now a complete working week of getting in before 06:45
and performing operating system updates without anything going even moderately
wrong. I find this gratifying. Unfortunately the rest of the days have been
remarkably empty relatively speaking. There've been the usual bits of
troubleshooting for users and bits of things to read about and learn but for
the most part it hasn't been the busiest of weeks. Being a good
"self-starter" is helpful, but at the end of the day it would be really nice
to be handed a pile of work and told to make my way through it either as
quickly as possible (we like deadlines) or in whatever order I deem to
prioritise the work. Maybe next week.
I ran out of bread this morning too (forgot to defrost some last night) so
ended up with a sandwich from one of the vans. Despite it having bacon in it
I really don't think it was as nice as the ones (with salad in) I make.
Still, it was good to have a change. Exciting reading, huh?
Right! I've definitely run out of things to say about this week so I'll do
the usual weekend in prospect thing (gym tonight, parkrun, Tesco, chatting
with Kris on Saturday (plus Guy Fawkes Night at the boathouse), and probably a
run on Sunday plus a psychology experiment for a bit of spending money over
the lunch time bit when I'd normally already be embedded in the sofa for the
afternoon) and sign off.
[16:00] Patching went well. Although I did forget one step and had to go back
and reboot the box a third time to make things 'stick'. It didn't really
matter as I was still well within my downtime window. Most of today I've been
preparing the eighteen servers I'll be patching tomorrow. Reconciling patch
lists, getting all of the servers to the same level and fixing issues thrown
up by the developers having asked me for software three years ago and then
never using it (the self-same software now being responsible for blocking
other updates from now happening).
Gym last night with Tom went pretty well. Having to wait between sets meant
more recovery time so I opted to put the weights up a notch or two. This
resulted in me feeling pretty pumped afterwards and quite leaden on my run
this lunch time. I'm glad I'm not doing anything else other than cycling home
and washing up today.
Said hello to Kris just after lunch too. Like me she's really beginning to
feel the being-apartedness. I really do think that 40-50 days is the maximum
we can be apart without it getting unbearable. I'm so pleased that she was
able to find the space in her schedule to make it over at the half way point
40-odd days ago. She's wonderful.
And in other news, I may be entering some duathlons, triathlons
(non-traditional) and quadathlons over the next few months. It'll be nice to
do something other than parkrun on a weekend.
[16:00] This morning's patching also went well. Betterer than yesterday in
fact as the machines being patched really weren't doing anything that was
impacted by anything other than the glibc, kernel and multipath drivers. In
fact we think we might have solved some problems by moving up about three
revisions and two new versions of the multipath stuff. Two more machines
patched this afternoon (part of the backup suite of machines) resulted in a
bit of a problem with one of the attached tape drives, but we're used to that
happening every time we reboot that box. I think it's all fixed now, anyway.
Tomorrow morning is just one machine, but it requires me to stand over it and
disconnect and reconnect FC cables between reboots while I get RDAC drivers
compiled into the newly installed kernel. Mildly annoying, but worth it for
the reduced boot times (touching /fastboot also considered helpful) and
getting this particular machine (one of four, the others also having been
scheduled for the near future) out of the way for another six to eight months
Naturally, having been in early again I'm off early to head to the gym and
meet up with Tom. We'll see how that goes. Otherwise... I think that's it
[15:00] Another day, another early morning start. This time I was firmware
upgrading two servers and patching three more (two of which were Xen guests on
a third). The firmware updates went almost without a hitch other than the
fact that one of the servers didn't boot its BIOS after being updated and it
took two CMOS resets and a cold power cycle or two before it decided that life
was worth living. The software patching seemed to go perfectly except that
the two Xen guests didn't boot due to the Xen host not remounting its NFS
share and the blacklisting on its SAN stuff being wrong (despite it having
worked when we put it in place). Anyway, everything got sorted, including a
piece of badly-written software having to be restarted a few times before it
would accept logins. So yes, everything was working by around 09:30, which
isn't too bad, really.
The rest of today has been spent checking on all the little updates which may
have sneaked in under the radar during the major patching that took place,
reading up on some SSH and KVM stuff, learning more about multipath, going for
a 6K run and making an appointment to get my hair cut. I think the run felt a
little harder than normal due to the fact that I did my first 30 minute erg in
a few months last night with Tom (an AR friend). I'm glad I'm not going to
the gym this evening. Chatting to Kris is much more restful.
Tomorrow is another early morning start. Only five machines and two of them
are in the afternoon.