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October's Journal
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[17:05] A fruitful day all told, I think. Morning exercises, a safe cycle in (despite making two road-using faux pas, and lots of other people being idiots as well as myself), a morning of building VMs (only four, but a useful four nevertheless), a lunchtime run of 10K sort of in company rather than doing it on my own again, and then an afternoon of clearing up things on our monitoring system and getting someone else to replace a hard drive for me in a server in one of our remote data centers.

I have this niggling worry that cycling home in this weather is eventually going to result in some kind of accident. Hopefully not because of me, but because in the last two weeks or so it feels like the average intelligence of the road users around me has decreased markedly. I'll be as careful as I can, but there's no accounting for every eventuality.

Happily, Rachel arrives tomorrow evening. Although she'll be bringing a friend from Kenya to stay the night before sightseeing on the Friday, we'll get some time together without anyone else around. Which reminds me, I should clean and tidy and wash up tonight, and probably check the spare room is clear.

[16:10] A bit more productive a day today, thankfully. It started early with a rise and cycle in to work in the freezing cold (although I'm sure it's going to get colder this winter). Then some patching (which went smoothly) and rebooting (which also did, apart from one server which had some disk confusions caused by someone other than me being responsible for extended its LVM setup some time in the past). Since then I've run a nice fun 10km over lunch time, got the DNS and firewall set up for a bunch of new VMs I'll probably build tomorrow, and managed to score 6l of Innocent coconut water (we were shipped 300l, for some reason). Now I'm off early to do some Tesco shopping and then put the heating on so the house is nice and toasty.

[17:25] Well, that was quite a full weekend, in the end. I headed to Rachel's on the Friday straight from work (via home, if you see what I mean), and even though it was the tail end of rush hour didn't have too much of a problem with the trains. Rachel even managed to get on the same train as me, at the same door as me, so we could start spending time together as soon as possible. We had a nice evening in watching things on the computer and being in contact, before ending the day. In the morning I decided not to do the local parkrun so we could have a bit more time together before she had to go to her hockey match (and meet her parents). After a nice quiet morning I got the tram out to meet her and her parents at a local park (which I got to wander around for a good half an hour before Rachel came looking (and phoning) for me. A rather too-large lunch followed, although it was very tasty. We then headed back to the house before going into London for the evening for a concert at St-Martin-in-the-Fields, which was interesting (although I've heard better). We didn't get home until quite late due to distances and travel and stuff, but I still managed to get a reasonable night's sleep. This was helpful as Sunday morning we were up early to get a taxi out to Merstham and then walk a chunk of the North Downs Way to Dorking. The walk itself was rather nice, although somewhat cold when we stopped for lunch (made and carried by the wonderful Rachel). However, we left a little bit too late for the train station and had to walk from one to another and then wait a bit before we could get the trains home we needed. By the time we got back I was just a bit too tired and down to truly appreciate how nice the day had been. After dinner I just wanted to crawl into bed, but managed to stay up and be sociable for at least a little while.

This morning was, of course, an early rise to get to work for 09:00. This I managed, with a few minutes to spare despite train delays and traffic in town. Since then I've been dealing with preparing for tomorrow morning's patching, discussing the merits of vMotion (a VMWare thing), going for a run in the almost perfect weather (I didn't run at all over the weekend), and generally catching up on things. Tomorrow, I hope, is when the real work of the week starts. Tonight I just want to get home alive, make sure the house is OK, have a bit of dinner and forget about needing to go to Tesco until tomorrow evening.

[15:50] Oh, I forgot to mention yesterday that I asked for a new workstation go to with the new SSD I got a little while ago. It's time, I think. This does mean that I've had to bite the bullet and move the BOFHcam camera away from the original Brooktree chipset-based S-Video/Composite camera and to a USB one, but RHEL7 (rather than 5 or 6) seems to have a better driver for USB cameras and it actually gives a more stable image. See what you think anyway, as it's up and running now. All I need now is for my line manager to get things going and get the thing ordered. If it arrives before Christmas I will be very surprised.

I haven't really had much of a useful time of things recently. I'm feeling a bit adrift personally and professionally this week, as well as being unable to shake a mild sense of forboding about the upcoming dental work, and other stuff generally. It's all adding together to make me feel like I'm simply off my game somewhat. I don't quite know how to get back on track again other than to just work through everything one after another as time allows (and dictates by its passing) and just hope I come out of the far side in good enough shape.

Running at lunchtime didn't even help as much as I would have liked (having missed yesterday due to getting my hair cut) as I seem to have gone from no blisters to one very large and raw blister on the inside of my left little toe in less than 40 minutes. This will probably put me off doing parkrun tomorrow morning, and could present some discomfort when I go walking with Rachel and her parents on Sunday. So yes, as soon as I leave here I'm heading home, packing, then getting trains to Croydon for the weekend again. It'll be smashing to have an evening and morning with Rachel alone, and then perfectly pleasant to spend the rest of the weekend with her and her parents going to a concert as well as walking on the North Downs Way a bit. I'll be heading back to work on another early morning set of trains on Monday.

[16:30] An early morning of patching went perfectly, thank goodness. This was followed by a day of doing lots of tiny little tasks, including finding a RHEL7 workstation I hadn't been able to track down for days and getting it patched up to date. It turns out it was in the next office over, but I'd completely forgotten who I'd assigned it to. That's all done now, which is good. I should probably create a text document or spreadsheet that has everyone's workstations/identifiers in it, so I can keep track. There aren't more than about twenty, so it makes sense, really. I just wish the Red Hat management system I'm forced to use (until I get Satellite up and running) had the ability to store this information, like the old one did.

Anyway, over lunch time I had a haircut which Rachel actually requested last night, but I'd had scheduled since Tuesday. Then I came back, did some more work and have just realised that as I got in early this morning I can go home whenever I like now. In fact I probably could have gone home half an hour or so ago.

[17:15] Nothing really happened today either, which is good. The highlight was probably that I was able to get a version of Firefox which did the things I wanted it to. I'm just about to prepare the servers I'm patching tomorrow morning, and then I'm off home to have a nice big dinner and a settle down before an early night. I did run 10K at lunch time fairly quickly, but that's about it, really.

[17:55] Early start for patching and rebooting of servers. Everything went according to plan other than someone not arriving in time to help me patch the underlying VMWare server in one place. Anyway, I managed to snag some other downtime later on in the day and got the work done then, which is great. Honestly, the rest of the day was a mixture of meetings, going for a 10K run, and organising more things to happen later in the week.

Tomorrow morning is my first non-early morning since Friday.

[17:25] Something of a packed weekend, in retrospect. It started on Saturday morning, as weekends normally do, with a parkrun, where I paced a friend to a reasonable 5K time. I was keeping my powder a little dry given the race Rachel and I had planned for Sunday morning. After parkrun was over I headed home, got cleaned, did the Tesco thing, had lunch, and then took the two trains to Croydon that are required. Rachel had just arrived home from Washington, DC and a hockey game, so was quite tired herself. We had a smashing takeaway Indian meal with a spot of West Wing and The Grand Tour, then headed to bed. On Sunday morning, after I'd had a rotten night's sleep, we took the bikes on the train out to Dorking and ran the three legs of the Three Molehills race. We'd initially planned to run all three legs together, not particularly race-like, just more for the fun of it. Unfortunately, as I'd chosen to change my shoes after the first (apparently muddiest) leg up and down Box Hill, I completely missed Rachel waiting for me, assumed she'd run off without me, and spent the next two legs of the race trying to catch her... only to find she'd been waiting for me and I'd run right past her at the transition point. All entirely my fault. However, that, plus the terrible weather the night before, plus us both being tired, plus... oh I don't know, all kinds of small, inconsequential stuff, meant that we were both off for most of the weekend and only really pulled ourselves together after we'd headed home to Croydon again mid-afternoon on Sunday. All that remained of the weekend was for us to get clean, settle in, and relax for a few hours before bed. That part was really lovely.

Another, earlier, morning this morning to get the trains to work, and here I've been, getting my update ducks in a row for tomorrow morning (another early start, again), accompanying a Dell engineer to replace a motherboard and two CPUs, and generally sorting out the 1001 little things that people are wont to ask me to do, day in and day out. I'm heading home now, hopefully to find the house still in one piece, and to get my head around the remainder of the week, and everything I need to fit in to it before it ends.

[17:00] A rest day today, so I spent the lunchtime cloning my workstation's HDD from a spinny to an SSD. There were 768 out of 250,000,000+ write errors, which is a little worrying given the SSD was straight out of its wrappings, but we'll see how it fairs over the next little while. I still have the source HDD, so there's always that to go back to. The OS certainly boots pretty darned quickly now, and I don't even have a fast CPU/RAM in this chassis. It's definitely moving to my new computer, when I eventually get one. I just need to work out what to do about the full-height PCI (old PCI, not PCIe or anything) card I have in it. They don't really make PCs any more that take them.

Work-wise I've been doing a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and generally trying not to get caught up in doing anything that'd be interrupted by the weekend. Monday's going to be all about replacing a motherboard and two CPUs in a database server, so I'm OK about keeping my schedule free for that. Over the weekend I'm heading to Rachel's after I've done parkrun tomorrow and been to Tesco. Sunday (in what I think is going to be terrible weather) we'll be running up three big hills south of London, getting really muddy and cold, and then heading home again on bike and train to get clean, warm, and dry. It might be a two pairs of shoes race, given the variations in terrain. More about how it went (or didn't) on Monday. Rachel's actually still in Washington, DC at the moment, and doesn't arrive home until some time tomorrow morning. Then she's playing hockey, I think. I don't know how she does it. I'll be taking it relatively easy at parkrun. Especially if I can convince Max to come and do it for the first time.

[17:55] I achieved things today. Mainly in the morning when I was able to prepare and ship out three linux workstations to replace older operating systems. Not only that, but another one running an even older OS was retired completely, which is brill. Then it was lunch time, so I went for a quick 8K run to be back in time for a meeting which ended up requiring me to get in contact with Dell and not only request a replacement motherboard, but also two CPUs as well. I don't feel like either is going to solve the problem we've been having with the server in question, but at least it'll definitely rule out hardware as the issue, which means I can pass the buck.

That's about it really, for today. The afternoon was mostly about calling Dell, writing position emails for other people to justify getting rid of software and ageing hardware, and trying to reduce the number of tabs in my multiple browser windows. Tomorrow's a rest day from running - thank goodness - in preparation for potentially doing parkrun on Saturday, and then this 14+ mile trail run on Sunday. I just hope it's dry both days, or just on Sunday, otherwise the going is going to be terrible.

[17:45] A horribly hectic and annoying day today. Mostly because we've got some hardware which is now our responsibility, and its gone wrong. By our responsibility I mean that it has been foisted off on us (probably rightly so, but that still doesn't make it feel any better) and we're now struggling to work out how to deal with it/fix it. This hasn't been helped by my team leader being oddly absent all day (he's probably on a training course, but didn't seem to mention it). On top of that there have been issues with various other servers and services, I've scheduled a bit too much for myself tomorrow (both morning, lunchtime, and afternoon), and I'm not sure if I'm going to be able to get it all done in time. We'll have to see.

I ran a reasonable 10K at lunch time after emailing Rachel a few times as she sat in a departure lounge in Heathrow for her flight to the US. The weather's quite mild here at the moment, but I'm sure that's going to change soon, probably just in time for the race we're doing on Sunday down near Dorking. I'm not sure how much I'm going to enjoy running up and down Box Hill in the dry, let along the chalky/muddy wet, we'll have to see about that.

I'm off home now, hopefully to make a moderately early start on tomorrow. I could do with nothing really going wrong tomorrow, please.

[18:00] Today has been a fairly useful day, even if it has also been quite frustrating. Usefully I've made some progress with setting up our installation of Red Hat Satellite. Frustratingly, it has crashed a few times already (confidence-inspiring), and I've still got all kinds of servers I'd like to patch that people don't seem to know whether they're still in active service or not. This is not helpful.

Otherwise, Rachel headed off back to London today in preparation for going to Washington DC tomorrow, until Saturday morning. I ran a reasonable 10K at lunch time, and I've got lots of lovely home made chocolate things to eat over the next few days until Rachel is back again. She's smashing like that. That's probably about it, I think.

[17:15] Well, I had a pretty good three days off, thanks for asking. Friday was great, seeing as how Rachel arrived on Thursday evening. On Friday morning we slept in, went for a nice run together, then went into town and had lunch at GBK. After that I made Rachel hunt through about five different shops until we found her a pair of jeans that fitted, and were actually nice. Her reward for shopping was that we got to go to Waterstones where I read a whole book and drank hot chocolate whilest she looked up places in the UK for us to go on a running holiday (more on that another time).

On Saturday morning it rained a lot. So obviously we went to parkrun and got utterly covered in mud. Rachel beat me, of course, by a good 30 seconds. She's very good, and even having not trained whilest in Kenya and Uganda, she's still faster than me when the chips are down. She, of course, refuses to acknowledge this. Anyway, once we'd run we came home, put the heating on and put our feet up for a while. After lunch we headed into town and to a hotel I'd booked us for the night so that we could enjoy the weekend Rachel was back in the country between foreign trips just a little bit more. After a nice relax in a truly wonderful room we popped into town on foot to share Chef's birthday meal celebrations before returning to the hotel for a good night's sleep.

That just leaves Sunday, which started with a lovely breakfast at the hotel, then home, Tesco, and a quick turn around after unpacking to do a half marathon and a bit route. Neither of us were particularly happy with how exhausted we felt afterwards, but we've reasoned neither of us have done over 20km since the Ladybower 50. After we got back from the run neither of us wanted to do much, so we set about getting her new Fairphone 2/Android phone set up. I found it quite exciting, although Rachel didn't as she's a dyed in the wool Blackberry user. That and some television (and Rachel doing all my washing up and making fantastic food) basically finished off the day, and the weekend. We headed to bed early, pretty shattered.

This morning I got into work to find that nothing had exploded, but all kinds of annoying things were going on. Most of my day has been taken up either with a database server which is slowing down for no readily apparently reason, or ascertaining why my Red Hat Satellite subscription wasn't available to install on the server I wanted to. I've fixed the latter, and I've got a meeting about the former on Thurday afternoon (alongside some remedial work recommended by Dell which I think I'll be doing tomorrow afternoon). I'm patching tomorrow morning, so I really should head off now and have a nice evening with Rachel... although we are due to go out for circuits this evening, which I might suggest we don't do...

[16:55] Some stuff achieved today. Perhaps not as much as I could have, but that's the way it goes sometimes. I have managed to get my Red Hat Satellite server (OS) installed (that's happening as I type this). I'm also just about to clone my workstation hard drive to one which hopefully doesn't have any bad sectors on it. No running today as Rachel's arriving this evening and staying until Tuesday morning (awesome) and I'm taking tomorrow off to be with her. We'll be going running together, which is great. We'll do parkrun on Saturday, have two birthday meals with the same person, spend a night in a nice boutique hotel around that, enjoy a relaxed and huge breakfast on Sunday morning, and then... I don't know, have an enjoyable remainder of Sunday at home. Rachel'll then be working from (my) home on Monday, we'll probably go and do circuits on Monday evening (more on that on Monday, probably), and then she's back off down to London on Tuesday morning and I'll be in early to do some patching.

So that's that, really! I'm shutting down my workstation to clone it, now. Then I'll be off home once I've got the new drive installed.

[17:35] Having Rachel around this morning only just helped ameliorate the news from the US. Only just. But given she then had to head off to London (and then home to Croydon after that this evening), and that I gave her my waterproof by accident instead of her own (which doesn't fit me, so I had to use my old one), things rapidly went downhill. You know why.

So anyway, at work I've prepared the machines/VMs I'm going to be patching and rebooting tomorrow morning, made a smidgen of headway with the Red Hat Satellite installation I'm going to be building, found a replacement hard drive for my workstation (which I now need to clone to, probably tomorrow). In other news, one of my administrative servers has started to slowly throw its toys out of the pram with regard to its RAID array... again. It's frustrating as I'm going to have to throw away all of the disks and completely rebuild the server from scratch. Luckily I'm backing everything on it up, but it's still going to be frustrating rebuilding everything from scratch to restore the backups to. I'm not sure when I'll get around to doing that. Probably next week seeing as I have Friday off to spend with Rachel.

I ran at lunch time. Again, not before work. And I won't again before work tomorrow as I'm doing the aforementioned patching around 08:00. It was cold, and wet. But not terrible. That's the way it's going to be this winter, I feel.

[17:30] Rachel is back in the country! She landed safely a few hours ago and is even now heading off to an evening event (which she intends to leave a little early) to do more work before coming to see me for the night. It's going to be wonderful to have her back again. That's going to be the highlight of my day, if not my week.

In other news, today was the first day when my usual wet/cold weather cycling gloves were inadequate and my fingertips were burning with cold by the time I got to work. I'll need to break out the winter gloves tomorrow morning, I think. In any evening, I got to work in good time this morning and managed to sort all the morning things that were going on. Went for a nice gentle 10K run at lunch time (apparently the slowest I've ever done it, who knew?), and have spent the afternoon preparing servers for Thursday morning's patching and rebooting. There'll be more prep work to do tomorrow (including staging firmware updates), but for the most part it'll just be a bit of Dell OMSA updating and making sure I can get to the serial consoles of a few servers.

Right, I need to go home, change the bedding, do some washing up, shave (seriously), and maybe even some vacuuming. Then cycle out and meet Rachel at the train station.

[17:30] Just a day or so now until Rachel is back in the country, if only for a week or so. We've managed to get through this time apart reasonably well, I think. Both of us have been pretty horrendously busy in our own ways (she far more honourably than I), which has helped the time pass a little more quickly. For my part this weekend went quite well in terms of running. A parkrun on Saturday morning which could have been even faster if I hadn't been held up a few times by other people, and a ~20km run on the Sunday morning with the local triathlon club which just about kept me warm enough as the wind started to pick up and the temperature remained quite low. Saturday evening was a quick social thing at Max and Stacey's before heading to watch the fireworks, which were pretty good. Sunday afternoon and evening were more just about staying home and keeping warm and cosy. I mowed the lawn for the last time this year on Saturday, went to Tesco, fitted some draft-excluder foam to some doors, and did washing, washing up, and things like that. Generally, this weekend was pretty full and quite well used.

Monday hasn't been too bad either. The person who I was worried about in terms of moving desks actually took the desk we were sure he wouldn't want, and everything else looks like it might drop into place quite well. And nothing has exploded today, and I seem to have fixed a very long standing issue with another server by rebooting it into the BIOS and changing its power profile. Honestly, I think at this point I should just go home and decide whether or not I'm going to go to strength and conditioning/circuits tonight.

[16:45] Today was an OK day. Admittedly I had to get in just after 07:00 this morning to be backup in case anything untoward happened during the firewall work, but nothing did. Then I spent the day building a new VM and using new bits of Ansible that I'd got working, which was nice. Some conversations with people about VMWare/SAN resource allocation, an 8K run at lunch time, some carpet tile relocations, and a chance to text and email Rachel a bit. Mostly that was my day.

I'm now off to celebrate someone actually making some progress on starting to build a garden shed, then home for the night later on. Tomorrow will be parkrun, then a social evening with friends ending up at the boat house to watch some fireworks. Honestly, I haven't had a single thought about what might happen on Sunday. Things are just a bit more boring when Rachel isn't here to help me fill weekends up.

[17:30] Today was basically desk moving day. That meant it was a write-off for pretty much everything else. No running in the morning before work as I was in early for patching, no running at lunch time as I was still getting my desk sorted, and probably no running when I get home this evening... because I just can't be bothered. I'm quite happy with where I've ended up, seating-wise. Everything seems to be working network-wise, and I've managed to throw away a few things, decluttering and tidying. I think I've done all I can to settle in, which means I can be in early tomorrow to support a co-worker who's doing all kinds of network/firewall-related things from 07:00 onwards (I intend to be in by 07:40ish). I might even go for a run at lunch time.

Rachel was in an airport in Nairobi for most of the day, with wifi thankfully. By now she's in a plane heading to Uganda for the second half of her working trip to easten Africa. I wish she was coming back tonight, rather than next week. I'll just have to keep myself occupied and not caring that I'm not putting in the running miles until she is back. Not that the running is connected at all.

[17:10] A fairly normal day today. I'm still not managing/wanting to get up early to run before work on a Wednesday (and probably Thursday) morning. I guess I don't really need to until marathon training starts properly either just this side of or right after Christmas. I did do a nice steady 6K at lunch time though, to keep myself from feeling too bad about things. Given I'm doing a little strength and conditioning exercise at the boat house this evening before a short meeting about starting a running and/or cycling club under the umbrella of the club the rowing club operates under I think I'm getting my physical exercise in for the day by various means.

Workwise I've been a bit stymied by the fact one of our two redundant firewalls is still down (and probably will be until Friday, if not longer). I can't build a new VM I was hoping to knock out with Ansible (including some new stuff for mounting CIFS shares) because various communication needs to cross VLAN boundries and we don't allow that without permission. I've plenty of other things to be getting on with for the time being, though. For example, prodding everyone about their servers and getting them patched. I've lined up a few Tuesday and Thursday morning patching sessions for the next few weeks. Hopefully I can get a few different services stacked up so I can get more done in fewer early mornings.

Right, I better head off so I can get a reasonable session and a shower in before this meeting, then get home for food and television before bed. Rachel is doing fairly well over then in Kenya, heading to Uganda shortly for more of the same kind of awesome charity/microfinance stuff she's so good at. She'll be back in less than a week now, though. Which is great.

[17:10] November. Here we are. Only one month and one week away from my dental surgery. That's what I'm counting towards, other than Rachel's coming back from east Africa. One of them I'm really, really looking forward to. Can you guess which?

Anyway, today was a day of committing things to our Ansible git repository, learning a few new things about Ansible along the way, going on a fast 10K run when I'd planned on it being a nice little gentle run instead (that's what happens when someone offers to accompany you), and fiddling with a few other things here and there, including returning some RAM I'd been specifically told I didn't need to (good job I didn't throw it or the packaging away).

Off home now in the pitch darkness of GMT, to have a nice evening of relaxation, reheated pasta bolognese, and some television before bed. I may or may not get up tomorrow morning to do a long run. I'll have to see how I feel.