[17:10] Today has been a rather useful day. After last night it really needed
to be. I got back from Tesco and tried the washer. It seemed to be working OK
until it just suddenly decided to trip half the electrical circuits in the
house, with a load of (sacrificial) washing inside sodden with water and
detergent. I managed to get the washing out, scoop out enough water to reset
the breakers, and drain the drum. I then had a go at getting the washer to
spin the wet washing a bit. After a few minutes of spinning (making a fair
racket) things got really, really loud, so I turned it off at the wall and
eventually managed to get the washing out. It was cold in places, and so hot it
was steaming in others. This didn't feel right, given the washer shouldn't have
been heating anything at this point. So, given the drum is hard to turn by
hand, keeps tripping the breakers, and makes a worrying sound when spinning, I
decided it was time to get a new one. That was what I tried to do for the first
half of this morning at work. After having met the bathroom fitter again before
work and talked about adding a wall-mounted heater and a shaver socket (mostly
to charge my electric toothbrush) I headed into work to double check reviews of
various washers, paying attention (I hope enough!) to the various programmes
they have. I found someone with a Which? online account and checked the
reviews of the ones I was interested in. Got to my desk and make sure the one
I'd settled on was available from the place I wanted to get it from. Went to
the discount site for my workplace and ordered a top-up for the 'giftcard' I
used to pay for my television. The washer is £369.99, plus £20 for
removal of the old washer. I found an online voucher code for £20 off
(making the removal free, hurrah!). Pay £40.40 to the discount site for
£370.00 (round numbers only when adding value to cards), then realise
that the giftcard won't have the balance on it until Thursday morning as it was
after 11:00 when the transaction went through. Discover on the store's site
that the sale on the washer and the £20 voucher both expire tonight.
Contact the store via the online chat and am told there's nothing to be done
about that. Contact the discount site via their online chat and be told
there's no way to expedite the giftcard balance top up... but that I can get a
refund on that and go with "instant vouchers" which are what they say on the
tin. Get refund for giftcard top up (will take three days), and attempt to get
vouchers, to find they only come in minimum amounts of £25 (£25,
£50, £100, £200, £1000). Order £375 of instant
vouchers for £345 (still 8% discount), head over to the store's web site
and order the washer.
On top of that, negotiating £1012 of the cost of my external wall
insulation was a nice thing to do this afternoon. In the meantime I managed to
get the initial build of two VMs done, go for a recovery run at lunch time, and
even get a UPS configured and monitored by our Observium setup. I've got lots
more to do tomorrow, but for the moment I'm off home so that Cormac can come by
and collect the camp bed I slept on over Christmas, as well as his skiing
goggles and gloves which he let me borrow last week.
[17:00] Well, I'm back from skiing and I'm not dead. Although I do have a few
bruises. I was only cross country skiing (not knowing how to downhill/alpine
ski), but after two days of too much snow (and the piste-bashers not clearing
any langlauf routes) I was able to start getting out and racking up the
kilometers/distance. Rachel, lovely person that she is, split her time between
downhill skiing and cross country with me. We had a lovely chalet, shared with
Andy (Andrew) and Andy (Andrea) as well as two older gentlemen (with whom we got
on quite well), a host who cooked us some delicious breakfasts, afternoon teas,
and dinners), and the scenery was incredible. Other than the valley getting
snowed in for a day or so, my inability to stay on my feet when going around
langlauf route downhill corners, and a feeling of missing out when the other
three were up on the downhill routes, it was a fantastically wonderful holiday,
and I might even want to go again... possibly having learned a bit of downhill
skiing in a snowdome or similar beforehand.
The main reason why I might not be doing that any time soon (by which I mean the
next year or three) is that this morning was the start of my shower room
refurbishment, and I'm in the final stages of agreeing a start date for a
company to come and apply external wall insulation to my house, at a
considerable expense. Until my finances have recovered from those rather major
hits I'm not sure I'm going to be doing more than some long weekends away in
this country, and making my own entertainment with paper cups, sticky-back
plastic and drinking straws.
Anyway, it's time to go home, go to Tesco, then test the washing machine with a
sacrificial load (which I might not get back without a fight) as it may be on
the way to being completely broken in a terminal way.
[15:40] Short entry as I'm away off home very shortly. Thence to the train
station, to Croydon, and off cross country skiing for all of next week. But
anyway, today was mildly useful in that I got three servers built, one of them
twice due to 'issues', did a pretty hard interval session at lunch time which I
decided to do on the track to ensure I didn't get bothered by pedestrians, and
worried and stressed about my Red Hat Satellite install, which I upgraded
yesterday and have since had a number of issues with. Hopefully it'll be OK for
the next week and I can deal with anything that might ahve gonr wrong with it
when I get back. Hopefully nothing will have.
Last night I went home via Keith's house and helped Sarah (housemate) rescue
large chunks of his shed roof and then tie down the rest of the roof with boat
ties so that hopefully nothing else flies off before he gets back.
I'm actually quite tired now that I think about it. I think this is the first
week in a long time when I've run every day. The last time was probably when I
did that 10K for ten days thing, and then started on the 15K for fifteen days
(which I stopped when I started getting nose bleeds or something like that).
Anyway, that's it for the moment. I'm off, as I said. When I get back, the
Monday I come back into work is the first day the bathroom fitter starts on my
shower/wet room and converts it into something a little better in terms of
fittings and fixtures, flooring and heating. Here's hoping. I'll give you
something of a running commentary, as well as a debrief on next week as and when
I have time. There might even be photos. Don't think I've forgotten about
putting up photos of Kenya/Tanzania/Zanzibar. I just need a bit of time. See
[17:20] It was so windy last night and this morning that the side gate to my
house managed to slip its deadbolt twice (04:30 and 05:00). I'm going to have
to properly secure it while I'm away next week or it'll probably bang itself off
its hinges by the time I get home. In any event, that and the wind itself
contributed to me not having a great second half of the night's sleep. The wind
played a factor in how tired I was after I got up at 06:00 and ran for an hour
and a half around a ten-and-a-bit mile circular-ish course, too. Starting in
the dark, windy morning with a headtorch on to help me see fallen branches at
least made me feel worthy, if not a little bit fitter by the time I'd finished.
Or maybe just tired. This is a hard week of running every week day, and every
day since last Saturday, because of my taking 'time off' (read: cross country
skiing almost every day for a few hours) next week. Hopefully I have the
measure of it.
Other things that happened today is that I got the train times I need for
tomorrow evening to get to Rachel's place while meeting a friend at St. Pancras
station, getting a printable voucher for a preferential rate on the money I want
to exchance at the airport, printing everyone's boarding passes, and getting
three new VMs ready for Ansiblisation tomorrow so that they're usable the week
I'm away, rather than only coming into being after I get back.
Now I'm heading off to help someone rescue the roof of a shed which partially
blew off last night. Then I'll head home and pack, and relax with whatever
remains of the evening.
[18:00] Today started very early with my next door neighbours having an argument
at 04:00, which carried on until about 05:30. So that was good. Then I had an
hour of people looking at my house and generating an EWI quote that's the most
expensive one yet. I'm unlikely to go with them. After all of that I cycled
into work, had a morning of fighting with Ansible as a whole slew of edgecases
came up when I tried applying what I thought was good Ansible roles, tasks, and
playbooks, to my actual servers (rather than the test VM server I got them all
'working' on). Then it was lunchtime and a track session at which I think I
performed reasonably. My coach was there coaching myself and others, so it was
good to get some feedback. Once I was back in the office and showered and stuff
I got the rest of my Ansible stuff done and dusted, did a few things manually
which also got shunted into various locations so they won't be an issue next
time, and even had time to eat my lunch before 15:00.
I've had an afternoon of working through emails, and figuring out what else I
need to do before the end of the week. Now it's time to go home, have a good
long rest, and think about whether I do my morning run before work or cheekily
extend my lunch break tomorrow (it'll be the former, I imagine).
[17:40] Today mostly consisted of fiddling with Ansible and getting old roles to
do new things, then prodding people repeatedly until they gave me the
information I needed (mostly to do with users, groups, UIDs, and GIDs). I
honestly think I might, finally, have everything I need to run Ansible over the
five new physical servers I kickstarted last week. I'm going to take another
look at everything in the cold light of tomorrow morning and then unleash the
playbooks and see what happens.
Before that, tomorrow, I have another company coming round to look at the house
with a view to giving me a quote for external wall insulation. That's at 08:00,
so the chances are I won't get into work much before 09:00. That's OK though as
it was only this morning when I was needed in a bit earlier than usual in case
something went wrong during some planned maintenance.
Recovery run at lunch time, which was a great way to break up the day. The sun
even came out. Tomorrow is track day, which should be a bit of a
[18:20] I'm trying to remember what happened over the weekend. After Friday
night with Rachel (which was wonderful, and also involved curry), we woke up
horribly early so she could get to somewhere south of London to play hockey.
All the trains in the direction she wanted to go were cancelled, so she ended
up having to get a train somewhere else, then a coach, then the Tube. It all
worked out in the end, but it wasn't the smoothest of journeys. Meanwhile I
went and did parkrun, reasonably, and then got on with a weekend of tidying,
washing clothes, and going to Tesco. The washing machine gave me a bucket load
of grief, making rather worrying sounds during the spin cycle, and then when I
tried to use it empty to see what was happening, giving a good impression of
breaking utterly, when in fact it was tripping a circuit breaker in the house
distribution box instead. Basically, I'm going to try it again with a proper
load when I get back from skiing and not overload it and hope very hard that it
finishes its cycle and gives me back my clothes not covered in bits of
mechanical innards, unused washing liquid, or more water than would be the case
if the spin cycle had finished successfully. Let's just say I called my parents
a lot, and worried about more financial outlay on top of the shower room
refurbishment and the EWI quotes I've only got a few weeks to commit to one of
before they expire.
I also spent a lot of Friday evening and Saturday using the FLIR camera from my
council to look at my house and others on the same road. It confirmed my
understanding that my house leaks a lot of heat because it's single skin, and
the houses with EWI are doing a better job of keeping their heat inside, even
when they're hotter inside than mine. I definitely want to get EWI installed...
it's just a case of whether and when I can afford it. On Sunday I did my long
run for the week, then popped around to a friend's house to let him look at his
house extension-in-progress to see where the heat leaks were. That was quite
interesting. I'm afraid all other parts of the weekend were spent relaxing on
the sofa and either reading or watching large amounts of The Good Place.
This morning I was incredibly tired for no sensible reason I could think of.
Given I had a cheque to pay in I stayed in bed a little later, then headed out
in time to get to the bank for 09:00 to do so. After that I got into work where
I've spent the entire day translating a set of build instructions for servers
being tasked with running Oracle into a set of Ansible tasks. Other than some
rather complex bits I needed help with from better minds than mine (and still
they needed to look a few things up, which made me feel better) everything went
off reasonbly smoothly and I'm ready to run everything against the real servers
tomorrow, I think. At one point my brain got so clathered that I needed to get
out of the building and go for a run, which was good as that's what my training
plan said I had to do, too. It's going to be a tough week running wise as my
coach is compressing seven days into five as I won't be able to train on
Saturday (travel) or Sunday (probably doing other things/unable to run on snow).
For now though I'm going to head home and do very little for the remainder of
the day. Tomorrow will see a bit more Ansible configuration (mainly user
creation, I think) then I'll try running my playbook against the five servers
and see what happens.
[17:05] I managed to rescue a fairly unproductive day with a rapid amount of
work in the last few hours before it was time to write this and go home. Over
lunch I also got a lift out to collect the FLIR (forward looking infra-red)
camera from my district council so I can look at my house (and other people's
houses, and Rachel, and random objects) tonight and this weekend. So yes, today
was dull, then useful.
Rachel arrived last night and there was much rejoicing. I certainly didn't want
to come to work this morning and was in fact slightly late in the end. Not that
it mattered. I left Rachel at home doing important things (in fact she got up
well before me this morning to have a Skype call) and I'm just about to leave
and stop her doing important (work) things and do important (not work) things
with me instead.
Over the weekend we'll be apart as Rachel has to go and play hockey back in
London and then see friends and things. I'll be running variously,
contemplating my EWI quotes, and reading a lot, I hope. Also Tesco, of course.
[17:40] With working Kickstart configurations from yesterday it was pretty
simple to go over to the other server room this morning and get the remaining
two servers up and running after I'd configured their BIOSes and DRACs. Of
course, nothing's 100% simple, so I had to track down someone in Networks to get
the network connectivity sorted out before everything could go ahead, but that
didn't take long. Over lunch I had a nice 35 minute recovery run, which wasn't
quite as relaxing as had been hoping, but at least it wasn't raining.
I still need to work out what new Ansible roles to apply to the - now five - new
servers I've just built, but that's a project for tomorrow, I think. I also
built a new VM for someone too, but all I did there was run up something from
the template, increase the disk size, and then hand it over.
Rachel's soon to be on her way here, if she doesn't miss her train, and then we
should have a lovely evening together, she'll work from home tomorrow (which
will mean I'll be leaving work as soon as humanly possible tomorrow afternoon)
and then we'll have Friday evening together, too. She can't stay for the
weekend (when I have the fun of the thermal camera to play with) as she has
hockey and then a friend to see, so I'm lucky to get her for two nights in the
week instead. I should have been going to Croydon again, but the
camera only being available over the weekend has put paid to that. I'll be
there next weekend (at least for some of it) before we go skiing, so that'll be
some small payback.
[18:00] A long and hard, but ultimately rewarding day all told. Most of it was
spent fighting with two different configurations of Dell server such that I
could get RHEL7 installed on them via Kickstart. To cut a long story short, the
problems were firewall related, and BIOS/UEFI related. I've solved both of
them, as well as some niggly other issues which I think were just down to
finger fumbles. In between all of that I went and did my lunchtime hill sprints
with lots of company, with even my coach getting in on the running action, too.
It turns out he got divorced over the last few days/weeks, after only 8 weeks of
marriage. We had a good mutual commiseration thing going on on the warm up and
warm down runs.
Anyway, I'm off home now to relax after today's trials and tribulations, and to
look forward to a nice simple recovery run tomorrow lunch time. In other news
Rachel's on her way to be reunited with a bike we thought had been stolen from
East Croydon train station, even though it was pretty much impossible anyone
could have wanted it. The British Transport Police had spotted that it hadn't
been locked and simple took it away. Rachel had had the foresight to register
it so they (eventually!) got in touch, which was good. She's coming here
tomorrow, too (against my wishes (sort of) as I'd promised her she wouldn't have
to until March, as a break from traveling quite so much) which will be
[18:25] I tried installing my first RHEL7 servers on physical hardware this
morning. Networking has been the bane of my life as a result. Don't get me
started on dracut and its blind, silent, DHCP requesting to try and continue the
install process. Suffice it to say I've had to bite the bullet and get straight
into Kickstart for RHEL7 a little earlier than I thought I would. It may save
me tons of time in the long run, but it does feel like I've wasted most of the
day otherwise. Still, I did get a good run session in at lunchtime (track,
intervals), and there's every chance that I may make good progress with at least
two of the servers tomorrow morning because of my staying late this evening.
Anyway, I'm here far too late and I really should go home and forget about the
day a bit.
[17:15] I'm getting better. Slowly but surely I'm coughing and blowing my nose
just a little less, and feeling a smidgen stronger when I run. On Friday
evening when I head to Croydon I wasn't feeling all that brilliant, but by the
end of the day today I have to say I'm not feeling totally terrible. Between
times Rachel and I have had a nice time together, and been reduced to watching
Netflix on her mobile phone as her new laptop just refuses to work reliably on
her home broadband connection. I'll be taking home her old laptop (now
installed with linux) the next time I go in the hopes it'll behave better (and
work better with the monitor I took there a while back, which is now married to
an HDMI->VGA adapter which isn't doing the right thing either). Anyway, we
spent time together keeping warm and quiet, got some logistics done for various
things, ran a few times, got cold, and hot, and a little bit muddy, and then I
came back to work again this morning on a tram, two trains, and a bike. All
seems well, I've got a significant number of ducks lined up that I need to make
a start on knocking down this week (which could see me out of the office quite a
bit and in various server rooms), but for the moment I'm going to head home, go
to Tesco, and then settle in for the night.
In other news, Cormac has lent me some skiing goggles and gloves, which should
make my skiing experience in two weeks from now just a little bit more
enjoyable, I hope.
[15:30] So, I should have been back at work on Tuesday, following a lovely bit
of time off, Christmas with my family at my house, a sub-40 min run at a new
year's eve 10K, and all kinds of fun with Rachel. What happened instead was a
considerable amount of worry on my part about various personal things, a
Christmas with my family that was absolutely lovely other than each one of us in
turn being struck down by the plague that my nephew brought to the house, and
then Rachel arriving and having to look after me as I succumbed to the virus
just before new year's eve and into the new year. Really, it was a lovely
family time, but we all could have done without feeling absolutely rotten for a
part of it. I'm just incredibly glad that Rachel didn't get it from me. We
seem to have parallel immune systems, which means we don't get what the other
does (and can therefore look after the other person when they're ill). Rachel
got to run the new year's eve 10K and come first woman in her age group and
third woman over all, and I got to be very proud of her. I got to spend four or
five days confined to the sofa reading lots and lots of books and being unable
to control my temperature. Christmas was wonderful, when at least a few of us
were capable of enjoying the festivities and the food, but with two in a row now
striking down members of the family we're going to have to seriously think about
what happens in 12 months time.
The plague, or whatever is was, has meant no serious running for me since the
29th of December, and I'm starting to feel a bit antsy (which is probably a sign
that I'm getting well). I'm also quite paranoid that I'll have put myself back
by over a week in terms of cardio and general fitness. I can't see it happening
any time soon, but while I was most ill (and even now) I had the strong feeling
that I really needed to get back into a gym and move some heavy weights around
for a few months. Squeezing that into my life at the moment might prove to be a
little difficult, though.
Anyway, one of the upshots of the festive period was me making proper plans to
head to see Rachel on weekends for a couple of months, to give her a
long-overdue break from traveling (to see me). Although there'll be some breaks
for holidays, or me getting a thermal camera to look at the house one weekend,
or her wanting to see other people, there's a good chance she won't get to come
here until the beginning of March, which I think is pretty cool and well past
time. This means I'm off to see her this evening, cough and all.
And finally, as a result of being off work for the first three days of the year
all of the panics and issues and things seem to have been mostly sorted and I've
just slotted back into the flow of things without much of a ripple. There'll be
some actual physical servers to configure early next week, I'd imagine. But
nothing too problematic to deal with.