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November's Journal
January's Journal

[15:05] Happy birthday to my mother today. I won't tell you how old she is. Mostly because I don't remember. It's dim and grey and dull here. I went to the gym in an effort to raise my mood a bit and while I was there I was indeed happier. Now I've come home I'm back down in the doldrums again. I may actually have to resort to turning on the television after my shower to see if there's something that'll distract me. I've been doing quite well recently, I just think it's coming home which has knocked me down a few rungs from where I was. I have to admit, despite everything I know inside I'm feeling a little sad about this and that.

Not to worry though; there a cure in the shape of my brother's Christmas cake which appears to have survived the trip home completely intact. That and some leftover mince pies and everything'll be good again in short order. All hail the sugar rush! Of course, first comes the protein and carbohydrates and vitamins, minerals and roughage. Obviously. Only then, following five portions of fruit and vegetables and plenty of hydrating water, comes the sugar. Promise.

I should go. There's probably things I should be doing. Like wrapping a present or two. Just hope I get the opportunity to give them in person as postage'd be criminally high.

[09:00] I find myself at work on a Saturday morning. Not only that but during the holiday season to boot. This is because we desperately need to get some machine prepped for the new year. Yesterday I traveled back from Manchester next to the world's most smellingest man by coach again. Happily, even though the M1 was filled with traffic our driver appeared to know all the back routes and despite warnings of up to an hour and a half's delay we were only fifteen minutes late. This meant I was able to get across London to Kings Cross in plenty of time to get the train I'd booked home. This in turn meant that Teresa (my wonderful seamstress) could collect me and my overly-heavy-for-its-size rucksack and drive me home where we spent about an hour fitting my new stair curtain (I'll take some pictures soon). Unfortunately it has to be tied back in its pleats for 24 hours so tonight is the first time I get to draw it properly. Also Teresa had a terrible cold which I may be starting to come down with. Still, it's all good as fairly soon after Teresa'd gone Sam came to collect me for a trip to the cinema with a few others to see I Am Legend. I'm not sure but I think they took a few liberties with the original novel. I will have to reread it.

Annoyingly the code I was sure the right one for the building alarm didn't work this morning... again. A smidgen embarrassing, but the security guard I called out was all for the season of good will. Now I just need to get on with things and find out what the code really is. Again. Otherwise I have remortgage things to do (and sign) and some birthday shopping to do. As it is I've already order some things online which should make January a bit more exciting.

[15:35] Boxing Day is mostly all about reading and the final digestation of yesterday's excessive eating. Not here. No, yesterday was spent at my brother's house in Bradford helping him (well all four members of the family took part in some way) cook what could have been a five course meal spread out over the entire afternoon and evening. The only reason it wasn't is that we're not as pig-like as we thought we were. After attending church with my parents (the only time of year I do, and it's for them) we drove over the foggy Pennines (beautiful even in the fog) and spent the day making food and eating it. My brother's a very healthy and planet-friendly person. I don't think any of our vegetables were from a shop (all home-grown) and the turkey was ethically and organically reared. It tasted fantastic anyway. I'll admit that my mind was a little clouded with issues that I'm working on putting away for who-knows-when but I still had a wonderful time with my nearest and dearest. Of course, it was also the day that my body realised it wasn't being required to do work, or exercise so took the opportunity to shut down at about 20:00. After an hour's sleep I was able to wake up enough to have pudding and join the family in some more chatting before bed.

Today we had the now-mandatory Christmas photo before my parents and I drove back across the winter sun-lit Pennines (still beautiful, rugged, barren. Like part of the Rievers Route I did this summer gone) and started to heat up the house in Manchester again. I'll be doing some more reading today, thinking about things to buy and planning what to do with January after the new year celebrations are over. There's a distinct possibility that if everything I'd like to happen actually happens it could be a very busy month...

However, for the next little while I'll be getting a handle on this and that as more of those paths/choices/decisions I've been talking about become unavailable (if perhaps only for the time being). I've a lot to be getting on with, to concentrate on and to think about between now and whenever life takes another turn in a good direction.

[17:30] There's nothing quite like walking for the entire day in the rain and wet of Manchester to give you a bit of your perspective back. Staring up at the unabashed art deco-ness of Kendal's, experiencing first-hand the truculent intransigence of the winged rats (pigeons) outside the town hall and the... solidity of personality displayed by the plebian masses going about their Christmas Eve shopperisation grounded me in a way I've not felt for some time. And I needed it. London has nothing on the crowd mentality exuded by the denizens of Manchester. Especially not when it's cold and wet. It was what I needed, despite my aversion to crowds and cities in general. I mean, I'd much rather have been in the countryside, perhaps going for a walk amongst the beech trees of a Forestry Commission wood or similar than tramping along streets packed with people searching for that last Wii in town or whatever book by that chef - you know, whichever one is in vogue this year - is the one to have to tell you how many pinches of nutmeg to add to your stuffing tomorrow.

Still, in Manchester I was and so I enjoyed myself; emplaced myself in a book shop eventually to read a book from cover to cover whilest munching on overly-expensive food and drinking (heaven help me) Diet Coke (don't ask). Tomorrow we journey to my brother's house in Bradford (a quick jaunt across the Pennines) for Christmas Day and the opening of presents and so forth. Although this year most are virtual or ephemeral or plain old delayed until they come into season in the case of the fruit tree my brother wants from me. This means far fewer things for me to take home, which is useful considering I have to negotiate the Coach of Doom again, and to be frank the pleasure of Christmas has diminished somewhat in recent years for various reasons so I don't mind much anyway if there's not a lot if mileage to the whole present receiving aspect. I always got the most pleasure from thinking up presents for someone special than opening my own.

Anyway, that seems to be it for today. I should head off to do some more reading, keep myself occupied and distracted and ensure I give my family value for money... relatively speaking. Relatively speaking... Get it?

I'm wasted on you lot, I really am. Merry Christmas!

[19:15] Two bits of news really. Well, more than that but I'm not caring about counting at the moment. First off was the trip North by coach from London. An absolute nightmare. Victoria Coach Station was a complete riot-zone and I was lucky to escape with my life, let alone get the right coach and a seat on it with my luggage in the hold. I'd tell you more but that's about the gist of it. That and the drunks fighting, the police with megaphones and the few people nearly run over by departing coaches. I'm here now, with my parents, soon to be journeying to Bradford for my brother to cook us Christmas dinner.

As for the news. Well, on the positive side I managed to explain what a NATting router/firewall is to my mother and why it's fairly good at stopping the majority nasty things happening to tender Windows boxen on the big bad internet. Not only that but she understood. On the negative side, well, something which was fairly obviously going to occur sooner or later, now I think about it in retrospect (and to be honest I'd known it couldn't not happen and was kidding myself that it wouldn't, obviously I couldn't be that lucky), happened. Life Goes On. Again. Feeling slightly foolish right now despite everything. Not for the first time. Still, merry closer Christmas!

[11:05] Final day at work before Christmas (but probably not the last time I will be in the office this year. The x4600 M2 is still playing up. After a flawless overnight soak test it again screwed itself when I did a reinstall of RHEL5. After some fiddling with CPU boards I'm now trying an install of RHEL4 in an effort to see if it's something in the OS itself that's triggering some kind of hardware response. Chances are... actually I have zero idea whether it's going to work or not at this point. What I really want is a new machine so I don't have to go through any more of this anti-static strap wearing arsery. That's right, I said arsery. It is. Completely. I was looking forward to this machine and it's partner arriving and now I'm just fed up of it and its inability to be any good.

Anyway, last night was fantastic at least. A house full of some of my closest friends, a bit of wine, plenty of food and nobody complaining that it was too cold. I think it's going to be extra fabulous when the curtain arrives after Christmas, but right now I can really feel that cold air coming from whichever invisible place it seems to spring from. I'm definitely doing some more loft insulation as soon as there's time and someone is generous with their car for a few hours. So yeah, we watched The Stone Tape which was a film from about 1972. I wasn't expecting much and had that delivered in spades. Still, it was amusing enough for a group and when seen back-to-back with Die Hard 4.0 (why they couldn't have stuck with the American title of Live Free or Die Hard I don't know) as we could all do the MST3K thing while shoveling chocolate and cheese on crackers into our mouths. Everyone left around half past midnight aside from Cormac and Steph who stayed over. A damned good way to end the year in terms of friends coming over.

I'm going to be fighting with this server until around 11:30 and then throwing in the towel until I'm back here some time around about the 29th or so. After that, on new year's eve, I'll be at a party with friends somewhere in town in fancy togs and before that I'll be seeing my family and trying to relax a bit.

OK, the install of a different version of the OS has failed. I'm back on with Sun and we're going to pick it up again after the new year. How... vexing. I'll see how its partner does under the same circumstances in a week or so.

I imagine I'll do some entries over Christmas but they'll be short and sweet so, until then have a brilliant Christmas and potentially a happy new year too and I'll see you soon. Some of you sooner than others, which I'm very much looking forward to.

[16:45] OK, so I'm back from Christmas lunch (which was nice). I've managed to get the other x4600 M2 booting with 16 cores in place and 64GB of RAM. So, that's exactly how it was supposed to be! Means the other one is definitely broken in some way. I'll be back at work next Saturday to take a look at that and to mount the working box here with its storage and fiber channel cards, etc. Feels earlier than the time it actually is. Probably something to do with the extended lunch. Anyway, I'm off to gym and stuff and then do the Christmas thing. Have a good one. Wark.

[10:35] News! All the news that's fit to print. And probably some that's really not worth the effort but I'll tell you about anyway. Shaun came over last night (rather than me climbing) and we put up my curtain rail. Its been a long time since I did some DIY and it was a pleasure to get out the Stanley Knife and drill and do some actual stuff. Of course Shaun did a lot of the work as he's a bit more experienced than me but it was nice to get something done. The worry set in when we didn't seem to be able to find any wooden backing/support to the plasterboard around the edge of the stairwell initially which was a tad problematic. Happily a few more exploratory drillings found some within a usable distance and after some fun cutting away sections of coving (need to find some expanding foam, fine polyfiller and red paint) we had the rail up and looking - if I say so myself - rather good. To my eye I think the shorter side is perhaps not parallel to the edge it's close to, but then that'd be hard as the edge isn't actually straight! I then rang my seamstress (no laughing at the back) and arranged to have the actual curtain delivered and hung on the 28th as I wasn't going to get it for tonight. The more time she has the better it'll be. In the meantime I'll survive, as per.

Today I arrived in the blisteringly cold - but fabulously beautiful - weather to find that the replacement RAM for the x4600 M2 had already arrived. Hopefully we'll get an engineer before the end of the day to fit it and proclaim it fit for purpose. For the moment I have to install CD/DVD writing software on a few people's linux workstations.

[17:10] Gah! Gah and double gah! Stupid x4600 M2 server. We got an engineer out who tried all the new RAM in the box. Same issues as before. Machine rebooting spontaneously every time it tried to bring the NIC up during boot. Following that there'd be less RAM reported by the BIOS and mantenance warning lights on two of the CPU boards. Allegedly these would be to indicate bad RAM pairs. Swapping the RAM out didn't help. Moving the 'bad' boards to different slots meant that the warning lights moved with them. Obviously we had two bad CPU boards... except that when we reduced the box to two 'good' boards rather than four the machine booted cleanly. Adding the right amount of RAM back onto those boards? The box booted cleanly. Adding in the two 'bad' boards with the right amount of RAM on them again? The box booted cleanly. As I said: Gah! The engineer's gone off as confused as we are and my confidence in this box is never going to be one hundred percent. I'm going to leave it doing Solaris-based boot diagnostics overnight and then try a fresh install of RHEL5 in the morning. It has to be in the morning because we have the Divisional Christmas party over lunch tomorrow and the chances of me getting back into the office in a fit state to be in charge of root aren't terribly high.

I should head off and make sure the house is in a fit state for tonight's Christmas Thursday. Hopefully there'll be enough mulled wine and mince pies to do a large army serious alcohol and sugar poisoning... as well as some other nibbles. I do wish I'd had the curtain in place for tonight though as I think some people might find it a little chilly. Still, the more people turn up the warmer it'll be!

I'm informed that other places in the world had a lot more snow today. Wish we had had (is that right?). Then again if wishes were horses I'd be riding in the middle of a joyous stampede across a trackless prarie with fabulous company and the sun setting in the west.

[12:00] This new x4600 M2 is giving us no end of issues. I was going to tell you all about the RAM errors and the rebooting and all the other bits to do with BIOS tweaking but I really don't think you'd be bothered about it. Also you probably don't care except that it caused me to go home in a state of high dudgen last night. Luckily I had a lovely evening and also ate close to an imperial buttload of kedgeree again (I'm getting damned good at white sauce now, even if I do use a latte frother). I got to bed early too, even if I didn't go straight to sleep. I don't know if it was yesterday's exertions but I was fairly bleary-eyed when I woke (a little too early) this morning but some positive action got me in the swing of things, enough so that I was in work earlier than most other people. Broken some new ground here and there, which is novel given current status.

I didn't make it to the gym last night, so I'm going to push the run just a little today (especially as I may not make it on Friday due to the work Christmas meal). No climbing tonight either as Shaun's coming over to help me get my curtain rail up. Oddly I haven't heard from the person making the actual curtain in a few weeks now. I hope it's (nearly) done. As for the broken machine, after dealing with people in Reading, Madrid and Krakow I think we've got to the bottom of the problem and Sun should be sending out a field engineer with/at the same time as some replacement parts and hopefully that'll be the end of it. Not that it's the server we wanted delivered first, but you take what you can get.

[17:15] OK, we're having a Sun guy come over tomorrow afternoon to replace some DIMMs, a CPU board and generally frobble about with some things. Here's hoping that does the job. In the meantime we're going to leave the box running Memtest x86 overnight to see what happens. My eyes have been tired all day and I really couldn't say why. The run was beautiful (slight fog, very cold) but I just didn't feel the urge to really go for it. A shame as it was probably my last lunchtime run of the year. Still, perhaps tomorrow will be filled with more excitement. Currently Christmas isn't filling me with much excitement at the moment (other than the chance to be with family). I'm more looking forward to the new year and things that may bring. I better go, Shaun's waiting to come home with me and do the DIY thing in getting my new curtain rail up. Not that I have the curtain yet.

[16:40] Good news/bad news kinda day today. Good: one of the servers we ordered finally arrived. This is good, even if it's not the development server we wanted. Still, it means I can get RHEL5 kickstarting working so that when the other machines arrive it won't take too long to get them up and running too. Bad news: while it installed OK (kinda) it refuses to bring up the network card and reboots the box. On top of that it refuses to see the last half gig of RAM either. And sometimes even more than that. Currently it only seems to recognise 27.5GB instead of 32GB. This is fairly annoying. I have to admit that the yellow warning light was on the last time I went in the server room but that went out (or at least I think it's still out, must go and check) when I reseated all the 2GB DIMMs. This is so not what I needed today. Other bad: the entire division meeting I'd managed to miss before now came around again today and I couldn't miss it. So I had to sit in it for about forty minutes really wishing I was elsewhere actually getting on with some work. Being in the Support group I knew pretty much all of the content anyway. So, yeah, not a terribly productive day today, all told.

I think I'm going to go home shortly and have very relaxing evening doing something fun. I'll pick this up again tomorrow morning, possibly a bit later than usual, depending on what time I get up. I've been getting in earlier than usual for a while now. I think tomorrow should definitely be a later one.

[11:05] Last working week of the year! At least, last full week. I expect to be here between Christmas and New Year for a few days seeing as these new machines still haven't arrived yet and hopefully they will this week. I'm not going to have time to set and prep. them all in the time remaining so if they arrive before Friday I'll do what I can and do the rest some time in the 29/30/31 period. That just about covers all the real work I have to do at the moment. I'm still working on the free server I have (it takes a long time to format 1TB of RAID 5 storage and then install an OS, especially when you leave it for a day at the "waiting to begin install" prompt rather than the "I've finished installing" prompt as you assumed. Too many kickstarted installs for me, I'd forgotten the sequence of manual steps. Not a problem anyway.

Sunday was a good day, all things considered. I couldn't stay in bed past about 08:00 so got up and pulled on some running togs. The weather was bitterly cold so I grabbed my new baselayer thingy and a T-shirt with some shorts and was pretty much the perfect temperature all the way down to the river, along to the lock, back into town to the other lock and home again. Turns out to have been about 12km, which is good as my knee didn't hurt once!

Speaking of runs I should go and do mine today before we head off for the first Christmas dinner of the year!

[11:55] Run done in double-quick time (even if I did do the shorter course, I have an excuse in that I did 12km yesterday OK?). Oh, I forgot to mention I stayed up far, far too late talking with a friend last night too. I'm paying for a it a bit today, but then the exertions I put myself through earlier in the day were fairly fun and tiring enough on their own anyway to make me feel a bit tired today... Off to the first Christmas dinner of the year in a few minutes. Nice to have a two hour lunch break if nothing else.

[16:15] So I've just been reading about "Active SETI". I'm not sure why I haven't heard of it before. Certain information leads me to believe it's either an inherently bad idea, a damned good idea or a waste of time for either of two reasons. We're either going to get an Independence Day situation, one in which the aliens arrive with milk and cookies (and cures for Cancer, AIDS, MRSA, Foot and Mouth and Bird Flu), there aren't in fact any aliens (in or out of contact range) or they know about us and are steering clear. In this last scenario I see shades of Rimmer's response to Lister from an early season of Red Dwarf:

RIMMER: I just don't know why I bother. I'd get more sense out of a squashed hedgehog. Lister, don't you ever stop and wonder: why are we here? What's the grand purpose?
LISTER: Why does it have to be such a big deal? Why can't it be like, like, human beings are a planetary disease? Like the Earth's got German measles or facial herpes, right? And that's why all of the other planets give us such a wide berth. It's like, "Oh, don't go near Earth! It's got human beings on it, they're contagious!"
RIMMER So you're saying, Lister, you're an intergalactic, pus-filled cold sore! At last, Lister, we agree on something.

I think Grant & Naylor might have been on to something.

[19:55] I don't normally do weekend entries but as I'm home, warm and comfortable I thought I'd take the opportunity. It's freezing here again, but completely clear. I just wish it had been yesterday; I didn't manage to see any of the Geminids as they went over. Instead I went to the gym and threw myself into the session. What with there being no rowing today I felt less need to hold back from completely blowing myself away for the duration. I can't say I managed to achieve exhaustion but it was a bloody good workout. I came home and had the remainder of my stirfry from Thursday night and thus far haven't seemed to suffer any 'ill' effects. While I was looking forward to being In For The Night, by about 22:00 I was fed up and fairly bored and went to bed to read.

Today, as a result of getting an early night I was up with the larks and out for a run which woke the rest of me up rather well. Coming back for a shower and breakfast I settled in to keep warm again before leaving for the rowing club Christmas Party thingy this afternoon. Unfortunately it was rather under-attended and by about 18:00, after a few drinks and a few games of pool and having talked to pretty much everyone there (good way to meet other members of the club, but not many!) I've come home to chill out and think about what to do with the remainder of my Saturday and the whole Sunday. There may be more running, reading and relaxing. Other stuff could happen but I'd like to think that it's not all decided and something could come along to shake things up.

[14:20] Oh no, shoot me now. I've just been asked by one of our DBAs how to write an HTML email in Outlook with coloured and flashing text... and I told him! In my defence I stressed highly, with arm movements and everything, how much of a bad idea it was, but because I'm supposed to be an enabler I did. I don't know quite how much penance will be enough. Hopefully by the time I die at 109 in bed with a woman in flagrante delicto I'll have paid my dues for this abhorent crime. I dearly hope you can forgive me, dear reader for this terrible breach of etiquette.

In my defence I've done a goodly amount of work on getting my free server up and running, helping a coworker with some C programming and generally making sure that there'll be all the resources I need in terms of networking and so forth before the networks guy goes away for Christmas from the end of play today.

I did my last run this week at lunch time. Brilliantly cold again. It didn't rain again either. Hurrah for every run this year having been rain free (thus far)! It's nasty and overcast here, but not snowing, like in some places I could mention. If I could divert some of that precipitation here to take the load off there I would. Of course the UK would come to a complete standstill as soon as the first flakes hit the ground but I think it'd be worth it. I would still be able to get to work, so that'd be fine. Also I haven't been for a proper walk in the snow for years.

This afternoon I'm actually watching a quite interesting BBC1 Question Time and feeling quite peeved about some of the politicians who control the purse strings of the country. Otherwise I fully intend to get some more work done, go to the gym and relax before a lateish bed. There's now rowing tomorrow see, so I can stay up late for once with a clear conscience. There is, however, a Christmas party at the boat house, so that should be kind of cool. Don't quite know what else I'll be doing with the weekend though. Hopefully get to chat to a friend or two.

[17:00] Nothing happened today. Nothing bad, nothing good. Well, I responded to an email or two, but other than that nothing. I guess I didn't manage to get my free server booting from USB and there appears to be something screwy going on with the built-in video (may need some BIOS frotting), but nothing else. Except that I went to the pub at lunch and even after having had food first still got a little dizzy on beer. But nothing else. Aside from doing some minor sudo work for the web team, and realising I could have just had them write the script they're going to write anyway to wrap up the permission I gave them to run something and sudoed that instead. Absolutely nothing else.

Nothing happened last night either. Except that I went climbing and kind of had an OK time. Nothing special, and I really could do with going somewhere new as the same old routes each week are beginning to get Really Old. However aside from that, nothing actually happened. Which was a shame. Although I did inhale a whole pizza as soon as I'd got home and had a shower. I'd been hoping to chat to someone online but they turned up and then vanished within about thirty seconds, so that didn't happen either.

Descending into boredom again here at work. If nothing else I was hoping the servers we were due at the end of last week, never mind this one, might have arrived. We're cutting things really fine here now. If they don't turn up until the tail end of next week I'm going to have to come in after Christmas to see if I can get them up and running. More time off in lieu if nothing else. Not that I'm sure what I'm going to use it all for now I think about it. Nothing is happening. Everyone else has some pet project which is keeping them occupied, I kind of need to keep my plate a bit clearer to be ready for the new machines we keep hoping will arrive. Otherwise, I'm fine, if a little "meh" about stuff.

[17:10] Did I mention something about choices being removed until only one path remains? Something like that, I'm sure. Maybe a few days or a week or so ago? Anyway, its happened again. Such is life. It was something I'd been hoping to do, but now I won't. So I'll get on with doing other things as per usual. Those things include ordering more presents for my grandmother after mistakenly ordering the wrong one of two things I decided to order only one of. I.e. if I'd ordered both that would have been fine. If I was only ordering one, I should have ordered the other one to the one I did. So I've had to order the other, as well. Still, I needed to get another 'nother present anyway, so I qualified for free delivery after that. All sorted. I think the only other present I need to get is something for my brother and a shareware download for my parents which we'll do with great ceremony on Christmas Day. There'll probably be some kind of ceremonious handing over of the mouse to click "Install" or something. I love my parents, they want the easiest things. My brother wants a bush. That's always good for a laugh.

Today's run was incredible. Brittle and cold, astonishingly clear sky, no wind. We didn't push hard as I was in company. Being out away from the buildings and the traffic noise and the whathaveyou it was a lovely reminder of other quiet places I've been walking and a perfect opportunity to chill out, mentally and physically, kinda. Oh, and another present I'd ordered arrived yesterday too, but I won't get to give that until the new year now.

I guess that's about it really. Have rearranged my mortgage using the financial advisor Dunk recommended to me a few years ago so that should go through at the end of January. I still don't feel like a proper grown up when it comes to money and with the interest rates as they are at the moment I'm a little unhappy about what my repayments will be now. Although they're still easily doable it's just not as comfortable as before. Still, if it comes to it I can always sell up and move somewhere else where it's cheaper. It's something I think about now and then.

Climbing happening this evening. Then scrummy delicious pizza and some relaxation before bed. As for work, well, mainly still trying to get certain large corporations to accept that they've made mistakes with their programming.

[12:35] You know sometimes it would be really nice if the people who wrote the code we use in production environments actually got out of their tiny little cubicles and appreciated that there's a huge wide world out there that uses their stuff in places they would know about if they only thought to check. Or even ask.

We've figured out what the problem was following yesterday's snafu. Happily it's barely my fault at all! It seems that some time in the last two months or so we installed a patch for Solaris 10 x86 which contained DAD - Duplicate Address Detection - code. In a nutshell DAD is responsible for disabling IP addresses allocated to network interfaces (real or virtual) if they're found to already be active on the network (through the use of ARP packets), i.e. on another machine. It's kinda similar to stuff that already existed, only not. You really don't want me to go into the details - I barely understand them myself. Suffice it to say it really caused a problem when thrown into the mix with the load balancing solution we have here and the firewalls we're behind. What really gets our goat though is that the person who wrote this stuff absolutely refused to document it, or how to disable it as he couldn't envisage a situation where it would be an issue to have it in anything other than its default configuration (other than with certain obscure load balancers, load balancers that Sun is now selling itself). He likened doing that to descending into the "horror show" that is the linux configuration "mess". Personally I like the absolute tweakability of linux.

Thanks to the work of my line manager and the networks guy we now have a horrible-but-working kludge in place which seems to do the job in getting around DAD should our load balancers do their failover thing, but even with a good few hours of searching I'm still not sure when this new 'functionality' was introduced. And that pisses me off.

In other news it's amazingly fresh and brilliant here today. Ice, frost and brilliant blue skies. It's lovely, perfect for taking someone walking.

[15:45] As I don't have anyone to take walking at the moment I've decided I'm going to go into town in a little while to derack two servers in preparation for us giving then to the other Unix team within the institution. Once I've done that I'm going to go to the gym rather than come back. Otherwise I've been setting up the free server I have. I made the mistake of running a check consistency on the 1TB container I created (x3 500GB RAID 5) which looks like it could take more than 24 hours to run. Not that I care, there's nothing else to be done at the moment with the space in the rack. I should probably head into town and get that stuff done. Hope those people whose days are not as far through as mine are having good ones.

[00:25] Beginning of another week. The very beginning in fact. I know I don't normally do entries from home but I figure I should give people something to read if they're making the effort to come and look.

Friday evening was the usual enjoyment of the gym with it being one of those evenings where I end up prolonging the session with more and more exercises and a go on the treadmill, and then the rowing machine and more and more. Of course once I was home and showered I needed to eat something approximiating my own body weight in food. But that, with some relaxation was perfect to keep me from feeling like I was going to die. I went to bed at a semi-sensible time given the early morning in prospect.

Awake at 06:00, and in work for some time between 06:20 and 06:40 (the time's a little hazy due to forgetting to look at my watch seeing as I arrived and jumped straight into getting things started for the Networks guy). He and I worked solidly on stripping out old switches, doing lots of repatching of cables and generally doing some useful stuff which took down most of the services we support until around about 10:00. I cycled into town while he drove and we started at the second location. Around 11:20 I left in the cold, driving rain to go rowing. For the first time ever I was out in the tub (a semi-slimline standard-looking rowing boat, set up for sweep (one oar each) rowing. Aside from the driving rain, phenomenal cold and high wind it was probably the most fun I've had in a boat ever. It's just a shame this was the last session this side of the new year. Once that was over I pedalled back into town to meet to do the last server room. Work was finished around 15:00 I think. At that point I came home and entered hibernation mode. Hot shower, food (late lunch) and no plans to leave the warm for the rest of the day. This meant I managed to convince Sam to come over and watch "Balls of Fury" with me and also deliver Chinese food for me. The food was better than the film, but we still got to have a good natter about life anyway.

Sunday I slept in! Until 08:00! By that time it was all I could do to stay in bed so I gave in, pulled on some running togs and went for a light jog... which turned into a good five or so miles around the city. I was hoping there'd be some other runners out but it seems no-one else was braving the cold so it was just me. I came home, had a shower and then tried not to think about the fact I'd have to leave again to go to Tesco. The rain came down heavily and I despaired about getting my food for the week. In the end I just bit the bullet, covered myself in waterproofs and ventured out. It wasn't as bad as I thought it'd be and by the time I was on my way home the weather was almost pleasant. The last of the weekend was spent at home, having fun and watching humourous animation and rewarding myself for the efforts I'd put in. Oh, and Jenny came online briefly so we chatted about this and that for a while, caught up and just generally kept in touch, which was a great way to end the day. I should be in bed now but I figured I'd write something before I headed off.

[13:00] Running time! Especially given we broke everything this morning. I need a break to clear my head and get a handle on the things which seem to have broken this morning.

[15:20] OK, we haven't 'fixed' anything, per se. It's just that we've taken the broken bits out of the loop, as it were. Suffice it to say there's probably some fallout from the network work I was involved with over the weekend. Not that we did anything wrong, but we have some ongoing issues with the load balancers and their interaction with the firewall solution we have and... well it's all just a little complicated and confusing. Which you'd have thought I'd be OK with given other parts of my life, but no. Ah well, life goes on. I'm off now to pick up a free rack mount server, collect the old networking kit we removed from the server rooms on Saturday and then go home to relax and read for the evening. Probably while being online to watch for more network problems.

[17:10] OK, so I came back to work. The server's pretty brilliant actually. It's got a desktop-class motherboard in it but seems to provide some moderate RAID functionality, has three 500GB SATA drives, 2GB of RAM and a P4 processor so it's really not bad for zero pounds and zero pence. I'll have a little fiddle with it tomorrow when there's a break in proceedings. Which, aside from carry-over from this morning's excitement, could be any time really.

[10:55] Doing better this morning. Last night's beer, pizza and Red Dwarf went well although because of copious amounts of humourous chat (and someone who shall remain nameless putting the wrong DVD in to start with, although someone else should have noticed sooner we were half way through the series without any kind of explanation) we didn't managed to finish and we're going to have to watch the remainder next week. Despite my best efforts I only managed to get my head down at just past midnight. Possibly looking through photos (the first physical ones I've ordered in nigh on twelve years I think!) and filing them in my one and only album should have been done at another time but they're such lovely/great shots that I couldn't resist the chance to see them and the already mounted ones again.

Today I will be out of the office a bit (hurrah!) helping the Networks guy prepare for tomorrow's work by distributing the kit we need to all three of the machine rooms we're going to be working in. I'll be doing stuff from 07:00 until probably around 21:00 tomorrow with only a two hour break to cycle to rowing and back just before lunch time. My only real diversion will be my mobile phone. This could mean I don't get to go running today, which would be a minor woe, but I'll see how things pan out. If I don't I'll add a bit of a cardio wossname to tonight's gym session. Hurrah for the ice clearing so that running happened for other people in far away places.

[14:50] After a morning of driving all over the place to collect cable management things, deliver switches and cables and fibers and things like that. And followed by a rather gentle run in the pretty cold outdoors (still hasn't rained on a run yet!) I'm actually happy to sit down for some of this afternoon and chill out for a bit. We're pretty much set for tomorrow's marathon work session and as far as I can tell it should net us both a full day's time off back. I'm looking forward to it, especially as there'll be two people holding the equipment in place while it's screwed in, rather than one.

Not entirely sure how to fill the next hour and a half, but I'm sure I'll think of something. Then gym, then a delicious stir-fry filled with masses and masses of vegetables.

[00:45] Can't seem to sleep at the moment. Not entirely sure why. It may be something to do with being frustrated over this evening's climbing. I think I might have pulled something in my right arm and therefore not been able to climb very well at the wall. That shouldn't lead to this kind of sleeplessness though. Oh well, I have Radio 4 to keep me company so I may just head on to bed and see what happens. Would be nice to have a sleepy chat with someone but times are weird. See you in a few hours!

[11:30] And now I'm at work and very tired. I didn't get to sleep until 03:00 and woke up at 07:00. Admittedly a little bit of the reason for this was chatting with and congratulating Jenny on some good news. Must not get too excited. I had hoped there'd be something more to do today (to keep me awake) but we still have no machines delivered and are starting to consider me coming in between Christmas and New Year (i.e. around the 29th-31st) to get them up and running. Frankly this sounds like a great idea as I'll get time off in lieu which I'd really like as I'm hoping to do some extraordinary holidaying in 2008. We'll see. That starts with this Saturday's day or work/rowing/work which should net me at least an extra day, if not two.

Climbing was... OK, I guess. I think I pulled something in my right upper arm at some point yesterday (maybe just after my run) so I didn't do as well as I usually do. Either that or I've just tried too hard this last week at bouldering and the gym. As a result I'm considering giving the gym a miss on Friday. This might tie in neatly with giving blood today (so as not to cause a bruise by exercising before the hole in my arm has healed much) except that I don't know that giving blood and then having pizza and beer while watching Red Dwarf this evening will be entirely sensible given how tired I feel. I might just fall asleep in the corner and everyone'll cover me in objects from my house like some live action game of Buckaroo. It's all fluid at the moment (like much of my life, now I think about it) and can decided nearer the time. I'm especially pleased for Jenny given her current and potential future good fortune. Maybe the future is as exciting as I hope!

[12:55] Damn. Just noticed this on my blood donation form: "If you have visited, or are planning to visit, any part of Canada or the United States, we are asking you please to wait 28 days after you return before giving blood. This is because of the possible risk of West Nile Virus over the coming months." Still, this simplifies things somewhat for tonight and tomorrow. Sometimes if you wait a little bit life nulls and voids your choices until only the most obvious remains.

[14:15] Oh look, it's just happened again. You wait ages for some changes in your circumstances and then two happen in quick succession. All I need is for someone to step on my dreams and I'll have the makings of a perfectly poo day. As an aside we've also had a disk fail in the SAN, no machines have been delivered still and I'm feeling just a little bit like a fifth wheel in all kinds of ways.

[17:00] "... Spin spin sugar." If only. That fifth wheel sure does sit idle sometimes. I'm going to go home and have a beer and a pizza with friends while watching terrible television and remember that I'm actually quite a nice boy really and that life is fundamentally uncaring and not vindictive which means it's not out to get me. At least no more than normal.

[16:50] Today I ran a personal best time for my 6km. With the networks guy on my bike (he didn't have his running kit with him) and me pushing myself pretty close to my limit I managed a time of 25:13 for the route. It's a long, long time since my body's had to work quite so hard. I think the last time I did anything quite so strenuous was back in September and definitely something I'd like the opportunity to do again. Anyway, after being handed some water by my 'coach' I managed to wander around the outside of the building to get my breath back so that by the time I was at my desk again I felt pretty much normal again. Of course, the shower was even more broken than last time and was venting most of its water out through a hole in the hose rather than out of the showerhead so I got clean as best I could under the circumstances. I hope it's fixed soon or running isn't going to be quite as enjoyable as it has been to date. Amazingly, since I started running again regularly (maybe three months now) it hasn't rained once when I've been out. This has made the experiences a lot more fun than they could have been. Of course, the wind has been in full effect which also isn't fun. I'm hoping to get to run in the snow this year as I missed out last time.

In other news I've done a tiny bit of present shopping online. Given where it's coming from and other still undetermined factors I have no idea when I'll get to give though. Still, I've also ordered a load of prints of the wonderful, fantastic, relaxing, happy holiday with Jenny in Boston and Cape Cod, so they can go in my special album of brilliant things. Oh yes, and I'm off climbing this evening, although I've no idea how well I'm going to do given how much I pushed myself this lunchtime. I guess I'm lucky that we didn't get an new kit delivered today or I'd have killed myself getting it racked and then exhausted my brain getting it set up and rolled out to the projects.

I should go and have something to eat before climbing or I may just not last the night.

[10:30] Sometimes, after a late night and an early morning (with disturbed sleep and slight uncomfortableness), the only remedy is getting to work early and popping out for a bacon and sausage baguette at midmorning. Life can seem altogether much more attractive and positively orientated when you've got a bit of good hot sausage inside of you...

So I'm told.

[14:05] Sometimes it feels strange not to go for a run at lunch time. I find myself going for long walks in the corridors and in the grounds just so that I can get the feeling that I'm not just vegetating in my chair for the whole day. I've been fiddling with this and that and trying to get my teeth into something substantial. Anything. The last few weeks have been bitty and annoying and there's been nothing... wholesome and large to deal with project or service-wise. I don't deal well with makework, not when there's a good few things coming up, which just aren't here yet. I think I might go slightly nuts if I don't come across something I can plunge myself into soon. Of course, knowing me that'll happen tomorrow, or even this afternoon....

I said "Or even this afternoon"!


To make a sighing sound.

[16:05] OK, well that's a bit better. Having a chat always makes things feel nicer. Especially when they're with a favourite person. Nothing much else has actually happened since I last said something but at least I'm closer to going home time now. Or at least gym time. Also I have a salmon steak and vegetables to cook, which is going to be nice. So long as the fish hasn't gone off given I bought it on Saturday.
[10:35] This year really has vanished at a horribly accelerated rate it seems. There's all kinds of things I wish had taken a lot longer to happen than they did. To be honest I'd love to repeat this year, maybe over the course of a lot longer than 12 months. At least the first three quarters or so anyway. Still, we find ourselves in December - the tail of the year - and not only looking back with fondness, but perhaps also forwards with some mild anticipation of new year.

Well I am anyway.

Enough of that stuff. I know you're really only reading to find out what amazing and spectacular things I got up to on the weekend. Well, let me tell you gentle reader, lest your near fall off your chair with unbridled excitement and uncontrollable curiosity. On Saturday I awoke to a bright, fine day, although extremely windy. Rowing was fantabulous again with too many people for the coxed quad so people were rotated... except me who was left at bow for the whole time. Some may say it's because I had the narrowest arse of everyone there (which probably wasn't true, but I don't go looking at men's bottoms), that's not for me to say. What I can say is that it feels terribly unnatural to row without feathering my blades (especially axes, which I used for the first time), even though I know it's supposed to make you a better rower. Also, I've begun to suffer two of the stigmata of scullers; the scratches to my knuckles (something I haven't had since I was at the height of my Karate training) and the permanent bruised spots on the outside of each of my calves from the seat rails. But it's brilliant! Even in the really high winds we had and with the person at position two being pretty poor. I think it'd be nice to be back at stroke again just so I could stop the whole crew from speeding up the pace every time. Being at bow I've just got to follow or risk getting out of time. Still, with a novice cox on board it was nice to be in a position to steer the boat a bit when he didn't manage to quite so much.

Popped along to Tesco afterwards and filled up on supplies before retreating to my warm house/bunker for the afternoon and evening to watch the rain come down. No snow here (yet, boo), but it seems like it's plenty cold enough to have it happen soon. Towards evening I was convinced to come out again to see Beowulf at the cinema with Keith, Kat and Cormac. Aside from it being slightly overlong and definitely not a PG there were masses of children with their parents in the audience. For what it's worth I found it tremendously enjoyable in places as the four of us spotted or created almost continuous innuendo or unintentional humour. I think we broke Keith at one point.

Sunday I got up early enough to catch the first route to London which wasn't part bus-replacement service. Once at The Castle I climbed (bouldered) solidly for about five hours, even if I should have stopped for a bit longer after having eaten lunch. I nearly pinged some tendons in my right hand (just across the palm) and garnered a few more grazes, knocks and a bit of a sprain to my right ankle from landing badly. All in all though a pretty achieveful day's climbing. It would have been nicer to have someone to do some rope work with but I've nearly given up on that happening for the moment.

I spent some more time in London meeting up with a friend for a spot of food and fun (including a wander around London in the dark, which is probably nicer than in the daylight) before finding out every train out of Kings Cross was completely buggered. Luckily I hadn't been there since 20:00 so getting the Circle Line to Liverpool Street (something I'd done barely a week before) wasn't too much of a hassle. The train from there though stopped at every blade of grass and I didn't get home until around midnight. That wasn't particularly a problem as the four women who were sitting near me and I were entertained by a very American American who held forth on a number of topics about which we were unable to remain quiet. It was rather fun actually, and much more interesting than my book. Which isn't particularly engaging at the moment. Still, I got home and to bed in time enough to feel pretty good this morning.

All I need to do now is get through the day, go for a light run at lunch time and enjoy the evening in prospect. Think I might watch a film and have some pasta with pancetta. I'm already feeling anticipation about it. I don't think it's because I didn't have breakfast this morning.

[17:10] The weather here remains brilliantly cold and clear. However running straight into a gale didn't help the pace particularly but seeing as I was alone I managed to push a pretty respectable pace and get back in time to collapse and chill off quite rapidly. I haven't really achieved anything today, which is a bit annoying. I'm hoping I can do something productive/fun with tonight and that maybe tomorrow the new server will arrive and I can get stuck into getting that set up and Nessus scans properly working.

I'm feeling a little strange and off-balance at the moment. There's theoretically no reason why this should be so but still, a mild nagging sensation that I'm not quite on the right track somewhere pervades. I'll put it down to a very busy weekend and getting home late last night such that I've achieved nothing today and can't really feel pleased with myself at the moment. Things should settle down shortly and then I can get on with getting on. As it were.