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March's Journal
May's Journal

[16:55] Last night's rowing was done in pretty much a torrential downpour. Oddly I didn't mind at all as (for me) it wasn't particularly cold. We had one girl subbing in for a missing man and ended up using the whole session for some much-needed technical work including our first rollups, which in retrospect is a surprise in that it's taken so long for us to start doing them. Damn, fire alarm. I'll finish this tomorrow...

OK, it's tomorrow now. Where was I? Ah yes, Tuesday evening. So yeah, a damned good technical outing where I really didn't care that it rained an awful lot. Came home and ate lots of food and went to bed. Most of 'today' (yeahyeah) was spent trying to wrest information from the web developers as to what they want on their new virtual hosts in terms of Perl modules and other software. Blood/stone metaphors come to mind. I also did my lunchtime row and got a reasonable distance before coming back and finding it a little hard to concentrate on stuff. Turns out all I had planned really was firing off some Nessus scans for this month. Happily the fire alarm cut the day a tiny bit shorter and I went home to prepare for Cormac coming over to take us climbing.

[17:10] Today has been an uber-achieveful day. From the very beginning I was doing something useful in finally swapping the LCD panel that's been sitting in my spare room for the 15" CRT that I use daily on my home NAT box/router/file server. This not only gives me a lower power usage (I think) but a higher resolution for the extremely occasional web browsing I do from that terminal in the early morning, evening or when I don't have time to turn on another computer and just need some information quickly.

At work I've been balls-to-the-wall busy since minute one. As soon as I got in and even before I'd made all my connections to IRC, MSN, Skype and the like I'd set an install going, configured six servers and prepared my post install scripts (not that they worked straight off, lots of bug-squashing was still required). After about an hour the networks guy and I took a taxi into town to install a switch, and then another switch and two servers in another of our machine rooms. This took a little longer than expected but was ultimately successful except that it required a few servers to be reconfigured at this end to match it. I powered through five server install and configuration jags before realising that I'd written two things the wrong way around and had to backtrack and redo six setups as they should have been done. That was about the only irritating part of the day... and it was ameliorated completely by watching something deeply exciting happen right in front of me on my computer as I did it.

Last night, having not gone to the gym at lunch time to do my ergs I went straight to the boathouse and started on a 30min pull. I don't know if it was the machine or Sunday's races or just being rested and strong but I upped my distance to 7830m. As more people arrived while I was doing it I stayed around and did a second 30min session, just to keep them company, putting in a reasonable 7714m that time. After that, still feeling pretty sparky I went home and ate All The Pasta, with some pancetta and a nice sauce I can't name but looked like it would go well.

There's an outing this evening for which I'll be at 5 seat. That should be fun as I think the bad weather for the day has blown away for now. There'll be wind, but it'll hopefully be a technique session rather than a power one.

[16:05] The rowing on the weekend was extremely cool. After gym on Friday and an outing on Saturday (where I arrived early and had to go to the local hardware store to get some screws and a screwdriver to actually fix our boat first) I turned up on Sunday morning and after getting the boat checked over rowed down river in the blazing sun for our first proper race. It was, happily, a rolling start which meant we covered the marked mile at full speed the whole way. This was very cool and a wonderful introduction to racing. The second race, about two hours later, was rowed to in torrential rain which stopped pretty much as we prepared to tap our way to the starting area. All things considered things could have been a lot worse. Overall I think we were in the top third or so of the two divisions (not skill levels but rather race timings) we were in, which isn't half bad for a crew who've only been rowing properly for four months and only as a complete crew for two! I think we were beaten by at least one women's crew, but they'll have been with a University and probably rowing together for three years or so. For reference our times were 6:25 and 6:27. Our arms hurt quite a lot from gripping so much (bad form) but other than that I think we were pretty relaxed and happy. Technique definitely suffered and we really need to work on that an awful lot more. We have all the power we'll ever need, it's just a case of putting it down in a neater and more efficient manner when the time comes. That and not catching crabs.

After the racing I hung around for a bit and socialised and chatted with the squad before dashing home and cycling to Tesco and back to get some food in the house for the coming week. Only after I'd done that could I relax and welcome Sam over for an hour and a half or so's chat and catch up. Following that I spent some time online chatting and eating dinner before a very early bed.

Saturday, after the outing, was Cormac's birthday celebrations. I was out on the river again in the blazing sun which required me, for the first time in I don't know how long, to cover up in the UK. I blame being out for three hours straight in the morning without sun cream on (who knew it was going to be such a lovely day?) and then being in the sun for the rest of the day too. Either way a long sleeved top and a borrowed hat stopped me from going too lobster-like. After we'd exhausted ourselves pushing a boat around in the wind I popped home for an hour or so's relaxation before heading over to Keith's for the party. Having told everyone about the races the following day it was rather pleasing to note that no-one cared that I wasn't drinking and that Keith actually told me to go home at 22:30 rather than hanging around and being sleepy the following morning. Really quite nice.

Today I've been mainly setting up Xen virtual machine templates and pinning down one of the application developers/maintainers as to what he wants from my post install script. I even missed erging at lunch time (I'll go after work in a few hours) because I had so much to do. Right now I'm trying to work out why my extra xenbr interfaces won't come up. But that's not important right now. What's important right now is articulation, philosophy and trying things three times.

[17:00] Have been setting up the machines I racked up for most of the day. Lots more cabling to sort out, the machine room to tidy and some kickstarting issues. Happily even though one of the machines turned out to have a very old RAID BIOS version I remembered I had the most recent version on CD and within five minutes had it up to date with all the others. Right now I've all but one of the Dom0 installs done and will swap the last server with one in a rack on Monday and get that built too. Then we'll either distribute the boxes to their final resting places around the three server rooms or get them set up further.

Popped out for lunch with everyone and met up with Shaun who's taking some time off at the moment. Coming back I solved a few more issues with post install scripts as well as getting a Google Document all ready for me to add 'useful' comments to now and then. I'm off to the gym now and then to have a lovely steak dinner (although lunch was rather huge) and watch some television for the first time in a while again. There's a rowing outing on Saturday and then I'm doing those two races on Sunday (I must have mentioned thosse, yes?). Oh, and it's Cormac's birthday celebration on Saturday too. Must get a card, etc. Have a good weeekend!

[17:30] Another busy day at t' mill, lad. Seriously, I've actually had a full day's productive work. Aside from a few minutes this morning to do my usual morning chat/catchup thingy. Since then I've been discussing the post-install configurations of the new servers (all six of them plus their attendant twenty-one virtual instances), cycling across town for a psychology experiment and back (it rained one way), paying in a cheque, accepting a delivery, trying to pack lots into a box which is amusingly too small now (actually a good thing in some ways) and racking up four of the six servers with their compliment of five cables per machine (three network, one service processor (network), one service processor (serial)). I haven't even got to plugging the power in yet. That's actually a bit of a worry as all four servers will be going on Phase 1 and 2 of our machine room's three-phase supply and those are the two most loaded phases anyway. We'll see how it goes. Maybe I can shift some other machines around afterwards to try and balance things out a little...

Otherwise today I've tried not to make a hash of an email I needed to send to sort some issues out (I think I may have but I'm getting close to not caring so much any more now), have an invitation to a restaurant opening this evening and may just try and take some important things home with me in the next few minutes without damaging them. Not sure how that's going to go to be honest.

[17:30] The gym last night was tiring even though I didn't do any leg work in an effort to give my knee a rest. This was a good idea as it's now feeling much better, thank you very much. Unfortunately after a nice evening I got a less than brilliant email just before bed which I decided not to respond to until this morning. As a result I woke early feeling a bit stressed and headed into work for about 07:30. I'm not sure how well my response will go down but I find that honesty is usually the best policy in situations like this. Of course I haven't been completely forthcoming with all the facts, but that's a different matter entirely. What probably also caused me sleeplessness was - as I was finishing some chores in town - getting a text from a good friend asking if we could meet for a chat. On meeting her it turned out she'd had a bit of a bad evening the day before and needed someone to talk to about everything that'd gone on. I'm pretty sure I provided a good ear to talk to and some even more useful advice. As it was I only got home a little later than I'd expected, which was nice considering the things I still wanted to do. I'll admit that I got some much better/happier news initially (before the the email arrived as I was going to bed) which increases my general hopeful quotient. What would be really nice about now is for a few more things to fade away/click into place and I really think I may be able to get on with having some kind of moderately pleasant life. It won't be that simple and I know there'll be a good few more bumps, potholes and accidents along the road before then, but a boy can hope, can't he?

Climbing tonight after a tiring ergo at lunch today should be interesting. I should head home and get ready.

[16:55] I didn't end up going ergo training last night. Instead, after trying for a while with some other people to repair our boat for Sunday's race I found that all the ergos were going to be occupied for the duration. Preparing to go home and slob about for the evening I was saved by the arrival of another of the squad who accepted my idea of a nice quick 10km run. So that's two 10km runs two days in a row. I'd go this evening but this on the way in this morning my chain slipped over a couple of teeth and my left knee clanged into my handlebars. The soft tissue on the right of the kneecap now hurts not a little. I'll leave it alone at the gym tonight and do more upper body work again, I think.

Work today has been mainly showing my coworkers how I fiddle about with and set up Xen DomU instances and the little gotchas I discovered painstakingly a few months ago (if you can remember my wailing and gnashing of teeth back then at all). One of them's done most of it before, the other is new to it so he's going to go away and re-retask the Sun V20z I used to learn on to do the same thing. Just so long as the Networks guy who's using at the moment isn't actually using it at the moment.

Other than that I think today has been a pretty good day! I've booked some things into my diary, had a delivery or two (among other things the extra RAM for the three other servers I have to prepare) and only stressed a little about sizes of things. A few emails today have been interesting... but in the main have left me feeling pretty much right where I need to be. I don't think I fluffed them too badly. I should go gym so I can get on with my evening.

[11:45] Busy busy buy busy weekend! All manner of stuff going on and me in the middle of it feeling very tired and not so rested here on Monday morning. Friday evening started off with a gym session. I went in feeling a little drained anyway from the lunch time ergo session so I missed out all the leg exercises and just concentrated on upper body, an area I haven't really done for a few weeks. That blew me away some more so I went home and crashed out.

Saturday morning I was down at the boathouse before 08:00 for the first of two outings. We were in our usual boat (with me at 5 seat for once). The boat seemed to be almost always tilting over to bow side the whole time which was irritating. And it wasn't just me who noticed it this time. I got a second blister going (which is amusing as everyone else is well into their fourth or so by now, thanks climbing!) and got to work on my 'fast hands' stuff. That and keeping my hands down as they move away from me. The second outing was in the first boat's boat, as it were. Something broke in ours (a wooden strut) and we stole theirs. It's bow-rigged (which means that the stroke seat is on the bow side and everything else ripples down so that the bow seat is on stroke side) so I got to sit in 6 seat amusingly. That outing was much better although we're told a) we can't blame the boat for that and, b) we can't use the boat again and if we tell anyone there'll be shouting as we weren't supposed to be in it. Ah well! After those outings I went home and had some lunch before coming back to start setting up for the Captain's Barbeque. Normally this is a proper catered meal but for various reasons that couldn't be done this year so a group of us bought food and organised things. I ended up cooking for the evening with two other guys and smoking out the boat bays completely. Lots of fun and plenty of food to 'test' before sending it upstairs. Compliments on the cooking all round, a few free drinks and lots of chat. I went home at about 22:30 and crawled into bed.

Sunday I was up and about at 05:45 for some reason I can't fathom so got down to the boat house in plenty of time to do a little of the remaining clearing up and get the ergos out for our squad row. Only two other people turned up and one of them was stolen by the women's squad to be a bowsider. If I'd been nearer the door it might have been me. He'll be grinning for days I think. As it was myself and the other person did two 30 minute back to back pulls before I headed out for a quick 10km run to the nearest lock on the river and back. A rapid cycle home, shower and snatched lunch and I was back on my bike to the train station for a train to London. Getting the Underground to South Kensington I met up with a friend to wander around the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition. That was utterly fantastic with some truly beautiful and amazing shots captured. Feeling a little drained I needed to have a snack beforehand and a damned good meal afterwards. I know my calorie requirements are higher at the moment but I keep forgetting and finding my mood is lower than it should be. By the time I got home late last night and had some time to myself and to chat I was feeling quite drained, tired and generally flat. Possibly not the best time to think about matters of import but I think I did get some clarity on various things which had been going around in my head. It wasn't long before I had to crash out for the night.

This morning I don't actually feel half bad it has to be said. There's this vague feeling that perhaps I'm not running at peak efficiency but I think I'm well on the way to doing so. I'm not rowing at lunch on account of needing to pop out to do some errands but I think I'll do so this evening before I head out for a meal with my usual dinner companion. Right now I'm installing the last of the web team's Dom0 installations so I can just plug them in again later and dump on five template DomU Xen VMs each and make them unique without having to worry about the host OS.

[16:45] OK, final Dom0 installed (bit of a hitch somewhere but it seems to be fine now, must watch that...) and patched. I'll use this one for creating a 64 bit DomU which we can copy fourteen times. This should be an incredible save on time, effort and resources once I've got a working Xen guest post-install script worked out. Of course I also need to work out how I'm going to cram four mid-sizes HDD images and one large size one into not-enough-space on each of the three servers I'm preparing. Here's hoping the web guys don't mind me shaving a bit off the four smaller ones. In other news I nearly got to go rowing in the women's boat this evening but then their outing was cancelled. A shame as I hear they keep the boat very level. I got both request and notification while I was out at lunchtime doing some shopping, all now complete. As it is I'll be off down to the boat house after work to help get our boat fixed (although I have no idea how) so we can use it on Saturday and Sunday (and perhaps before then) and do my day's ergo work.

[16:40] I dozed off in the divisional meeting we just had here. It's something I do tend to do when the meeting is boring enough and I'm not actually taking part but this felt like a deeper kind of tired than normal. I'm looking forward to getting an earlyish night tonight to tell the truth. Especially as I'm up at the crack of dawn tomorrow for two outings. The first being at 08:00 on the water. After that I have to do some grocery shopping, cut the grass for the first time this year and then get back to the boathouse for 17:00 to start being a barbeque chef for the evening. I may need a drink.

Today I've forcefully dismantled a hard drive for giggles, had a good look at some interesting stuff online and verified my solution to installing these new servers by taking a completely bare one and going through all the steps to a working OS ready to start taking Xen DomU images. Two down, one to go. Of course then there's the configuring of the OSes on the images themselves but that's a different matter and a task I'll tackle in conjunction with the Web Team for whom the boxes are intended. Naturally three more boxes arrived yesterday which also need the whole Xen circus act performing on and naturally they actually need to be live first. I don't even know what they're going to be called.

Damn, I should have gone.

[17:20] Achievement! I've worked out why the server was doing what it was doing. Not to say I understand why it's the case but at least I have a reason why I was seeing the behaviour I was. It seems that if you create the RAID1 arrays in reverse order (i.e. the array with disks 2 and 3 first, and only then create the array with disks 0 and 1) then everything works perfectly. The OS installs, both presented logical disks get formatted and partitioned, both get assigned correctly to SCSI IDs which remain static and correct and the machine boots reliably every time! I'm probably more surprised than you. Seriously. Anyway, that behind me (and suitably dire documentation written to warn those who would follow me as to where the dragons be) I can get on with getting a template web server set up and installed such that I can roll out five per Dom0 host as soon as I set them up. I do love the portability of servers-inna-can (flat file on the filesystem of the Dom0). All I need now is to get VLANs sorted out and some extra cables plumbed in and we're golden.

In other news I not only rowed 7.8km yesterday but went to the boathouse and rowed a personal best distance (and therefore PB time for said distance) of 20km in 79 minutes and 14 seconds in sync. but not power/stroke with a few others from my squad. Not only that but I didn't feel like death at the end of it. Of course I crashed utterly, despite eating like a horse and going to bed early, and was really down when I got to work this morning. A little snacking (yes, I had breakfast too) got me back on form within an hour or so. Otherwise there's no body-ache, no pains in hands or other parts (80 minutes of rocking back and forth on a hard rubber seat isn't a great idea for the posterior anatomy) so things look good.

Speaking of which it looks like my first order of team-branded kit (a techtop) has arrived at the boathouse (or will have by the time I get there this evening pre-Thursday session, I hope). This is good as I need it for a week on Sunday for my squad's first race... which leads me on to my last point of note today: I'm in the 5 seat for Saturday's two outings! This is surprising for a number of reasons I won't go into, but means for all intents and purposes I'm getting a go as the boat's 'engine room', which is interesting. It's a surprise mostly as we've someone (a bow sider) in the boat who doesn't have a complete grasp of English and anything to get him nearer the cox would only be a good thing. Still, it's not for me to reason why, just to row (and die). Good job today's my no-exercise day or I'd be useless for tomorrow's ergo session at lunch and evening gym... not to mention the Saturday outings.

Anyway, must go; things to do!

[17:15] After another whole day of fiddling, stressing and (in true Bridget Jone style of keeping a record) getting 7811m for my lunchtime ergo I think I may have cracked the problem of the non-booting servers. Following a lot of time spent working on an email to the RedHat 5 mailing list (which required me to make sure that I had all my facts straight by doing a lot of reinstalls and checking my facts to make sure I didn't look like an idiot) I am now of the opinion that I may have a possible solution to everything. Well, it's one of two things anyway. I'll note them down here (not that you care) just so I have a record of them somewhere safe (not that I don't write copious documentation anyway, honest). So, it's either the fact that it works when I create the RAID1 arrays in reverse order (so mirroring disks 2 and 3 first, then mirroring disks 0 and 1) which does something to the SCSI IDs they're assigned, or the fact that I modified the Kickstart "bootloader" directive to read "--driveorder=sda,sdb" rather than just "sda" which might also do something useful, somewhere. Or it could be both.

I'm doing another install right now and then if that works (or doesn't) I'll head off and join some of my squad for a rather punishing 20km ergo session at 18:00. This might kill me.

[17:10] I don't see how, workwise, today could have been much worse from a productivity standpoint. As I prepare to leave for the day to go and row (and do I ever need to get some frustration out of my system) I have made precisely zero progress in getting these x4200 M2 servers with four disks (two RAID1 sets) set up in a sane manner with RHEL5.1. I will spare you the details (as I know you so don't care) of sda and sdb swapping around, the braindead way in which anaconda seems to want to choose the wrong logical disk to drop GRUB into the MBR of and the truly mindboggling way in which the BIOS, the RAID hardware and the OS conspire to relabel the logical disks to make the newest logical (with higher physical disk ids) disk sda and the OS-hosting disk sdb after an installation when there was no sdb! No, I really don't get how things can be this messed up. I think I may have a semi-solution, but it is the very definition of a kludge (of which I am not keen). Either way I intend to leave in roughly ten of your Earth minutes and head home to fill myself with slow-release sugars and hope that it doesn't rain for tonight's VIII outing.

In other news... no, sorry, my life appears to be entirely concentrated on stupid computers and rowing at present. 6/10, Must Try Harder. I suppose telling you that I did a 60min row and a 30min row last night and caused some real ache in certain posterior segments of my body doesn't count for much, does it? I did eat an imperial buttload (no pun intended) of kedgeree when I got home and still felt hungry enough for a rather bread-orientated breakfast this morning (and have felt the desire to snack all day too, despite a large burrito for lunch). Still not captivated? Not feeling enthralled? Sorry, I'm all out. Try again tomorrow.

[16:35] Aside from coming down with something ill-making on Thursday such that I took Friday off and spent most of the weekend in bed or on my sofa, the last few days have been kinda cool. The Thursday curry with everyone was nice and low-key, which is how I like it. My brother's present of a rowing cushion arrived at work (did I mention that already?) and I got some money from my parents and a relative or two. Quiet really. The money's helpful as it'll go towards whichever lens I decide to buy when I next go away. Despite being ill I still made it to rowing on Saturday and Sunday, both outings being damned useful for technical training as well as it being nice to have someone watching from the bank. Nowhere near as distracting as I thought it might be and something I could definitely get used to in the future. I managed to get at least one blister which I subsequently popped and appears to be becoming a perfect callous, which is damned useful as I'm out on the water in a 4 with at least one very good rower from the higher squad on Wednesday (and perhaps Thursday) which could do me no end of good as well as causing a lot of blisters if my hands aren't ready/taped. I like it when my body adapts to new things and makes itself more capable of dealing with the stresses and strains placed upon it. A case in point being the amount of things I did this weekend which left me extremely tired but very very pleased with the results. Also there's the fact that my legs are looking a bit stronger these days too which is nice as I've always felt they looked a little out of proportion to the rest of me.

That which was keeping me hot and bothered since Friday vanished like spring mist this morning so by lunch time I felt ready to face work again. I'm still trying to work out why this x4200 M2 with two RAID1 volumes (two disks each) still won't boot after installation. I know more now; it appeared initially that /boot was going on to sdb. After I'd fixed that it seems that the installer is choosing to put the mbr on sdb too. Which is nuts. One wonders if the only other x4200 M2 box with four disks in RAID1/RAID1 (a RHEL4 box) also has this strange setup and it's only BIOS shennanigans which is making sure it boots from the mbr on sdb...

Anyway, I'm contemplating knocking this on the head in half an hour or so and going home via the gym (light UT2 row, just 20km). What awaits me at home is a mass of washing up from the rather delicious food I had over the weekend. That'll teach me to shop when hungry and a bit distracted. I'll do it tonight and then settle in with some kedgeree and the most recent stuff I've downloaded before getting an early night.

[16:45] Happy birthday to me. Another year older? Obviously. Another year wiser? Who knows? I certainly don't feel any different at this point. Well, other than feeling a bit under the weather. Maybe it's something I ate. The important thing is that I'm still alive, still moderately fit and healthy and for the most part happy with me and my life. There's a few things I could be doing better, a few things I should be thinking about less and a few things I could stand to change, alter or otherwise fix to make my remaining time on the planet a bit more enjoyable for others, and just as importantly, me!

Today that has involved staying up last night until well past midnight to see my birthday in (a tradition I follow every year) and spending much of the day working hard on showing my colleagues how to install a Xen-enabled RHEL5 server (although the installation I've done refuses to give me a GRUB boot menu after reboot, which is annoying). I've also followed up on some important preparations for the weekend (always good) and been gratified to learn that Sunday's rowing outing will see me in the 7 seat again for the first time in many many weeks. Of course the day before I'm in the Bow seat but you can't have everything!

Tonight I'm being taken out for a curry with all of my best friends who can be around and with luck I and my stomach will survive until the morning (it does feel a little wobbly at the moment). Between now and then there's the end of the working day to achieve, washing to do at home and a house to tidy a little for visitors foreign and domestic.

I should go take a look at this server with a proper monitor and keyboard and see what the issue is that's causing GRUB to mess up. After that I'll be off. Another quiet birthday over with this year a few high points electronically sent my way. Oh, and my first two birthday presents: some money from my grandmother towards my next camera lens and a rowing seat pad from my brother. He's so good.

[17:05] Last night I was bank party for a single scull. It was pretty good if a little cold out on the water but I still managed what could be described as an interval 10km run. Back at the boat house on the spur of the moment I chose to do my still-outstanding 2K Test. The 2K Test is the chance to show off your short-to-mid-range strength and stamina in an all-out time trial. Just how quickly can you cover 2,000m on a rowing machine? If you don't have trouble standing once you've completed the distance then you haven't tried hard enough. The best time in the club is approximately 6:30. Last night, with some expert coaching from two of the senior squad I got 6:56. Under the 7:00 marker I'd set but ten seconds slower than the fastest person in my squad. Not only that but when I posted my personal best 30min score (7779m) to the training spreadsheet it turned out that the same person had beaten it solidly the day before with a phenomenal 8061m. After all my efforts it looks like I need to step things up another gear in moderately short order if I'm going to be sure of a permanent place in the boat. This is good actually, as I like a challenge. Up until now my times and distances have been the ones to watch, now I'm not at the top I just feel spurred on to try harder both on the water with my technique and in the gym.

Work today has been a little stymied by people I needed to be around not being around. The weather's been nice though and I've been for my ergo session. I had hoped to try and make an attempt at an 8km 30min pull but actually ended up doing a little worse than Monday. I couldn't say whether it was yesterday's exercise that did for me or that I'm currently just at the limits of my strength. We'll see. Tonight I'm off climbing and then coming back to think about whether I cook kedgeree or not before going to bed. I think I can be bothered - indeed I should be because it won't get cooked tomorrow - but it could wait until Friday, now I think about it. Actually, that could work out quite well. This means I don't have to do a time-consuming meal tonight when all I'll want it something substantial, easy and filling.

Much like myself, ho ho.

[17:20] I learned that one of my friends is pregnant last night. Basically one of the last people I expected to be up the duff now is. It's a very weird bit of knowledge to be carrying around inside my head because I didn't expect it and it makes me think a tiny bit about my own situation. Not that I want a child of my own, but still. She's only at seven weeks at the moment therefore definitely not at the Tell Everyone stage so I was fairly honoured to be granted the knowledge. In some ways that information was trumped by some other news I got which has left me rather excited. But more on that some other time. Suffice it to say rowing is going to be a bit more interesting this weekend if nothing else. I think things are going to need a bit of juggling but overall it's going to be brilliant.

I've been slotting RAM and hard drives into machines today and trying not to get caught up in getting my new monitor for my secondary machine to display the right resolution. Unfortunately I've failed to do that thus far, and have only just managed to get it to 1024x768. If anyone out there knows how to get the i810 driver to drive a Dell 1908WFP monitor at 1440x900 I'd be very grateful and even mention you (first name only) here for all the world to see and admire. Honest.

I'm bank partying (no, not having a party in a bank) this evening for a single sculler. I'll cycle down to the boat house and then run alongside in an effort to get some decent exercise to replace the gym session I'm missing to do this thing. It's not just because I'm a kind soul; this person coxed for us while we were in Seville and we need to return the favour. Hopefully she's fast enough to give me a decent run for my money. Literally.

I need to do some more food shopping (even though I went last night), organise myself a little and generally get my head in the game for the next few days. I know for a fact that this week is going to end with a bang one way or the other.

[16:55] Well, I'm back. Back from the land of perfect water conditions, lovely weather and generally some excellent improvements to my squad's rowing ability. Despite us flying on Ryanscare (not good when some of your club's members are pushing up to 6'11" in height) we arrived safely with both transfers being flawless. The hotel was on the river with the boat hangers literally next to it. The bedrooms were plain but servicable with a good shower. We didn't spend more than five hours a night in them anyway seeing as most nights we were out until 02:00. In fact one night my two room mates didn't get back in until 06:00. Given most mornings we were down to breakfast for 07:30 and on the water at 08:30 this was quite painful for them after the first night. Still, they kept doing it and managed to stay awake and absorb training instruction from our coach (a very experienced rower from the club rather than our usual senior squad rower-turned-coach). The weather was brilliant until the last afternoon when we were doing the actual intra-club races where two double sculls and two VIIIs lined up and did four 500m drags. The water was extremely choppy and the wind picked up quite substantially. Good to know we can do reasonably well in those conditions anyway. I imagine the first time we're on a tideway it'll be similarly bad, or worse! My boat was basically racing the senior Women's VIII with two of the seats occupied by two men from the senior Men's VIII. We won two out of four beasts which wasn't bad considering at least two of our boat weren't giving anywhere near 100% due to being very wary of catching crabs. Personally, although I learned absolutely masses, I really hated being placed in the Bow seat for the whole time we were out there. Don't ask me why but it just didn't sit well with me and I felt my stroke suffering because of it. I prefer the 3 seat over Bow and in a perfect world I'd be at 7 (or even Stroke). However, with ten of us in the Development Squad and only eight seats in the boat any seat is worth fighting for. Given my size, handedness and weight I can't imagine I'll ever be in anything but Bow, 3 or 7. So if you're given apples make cider (to bastardise the saying a little to take the bitterness out of the first part somewhat).

Anyway, it was a damned good training camp and I came away with all kinds of appreciation of what I'm doing wrong (video is good for that) and a chance to drive the launch as well! I really must get back in a scull again at some point; I'd really like that skill not to atrophy. We came back this morning at about 02:00 and I was in work for 08:00 this morning so am consequently feeling a little tired. There's also very little food in the house so I should really take a trip to Tesco this evening when I get home (when I'd really rather relax). I made a point of going to do my Monday ergo at lunch today so as not to let it slide and was pleased to improve my personal best for 30 minutes to 7779m, which was nice. I'll gym tomorrow and then see if I can get it above 7800m on Wednesday before climbing in the evening. Amusingly someone on the trip I'd never met before when I told them my name remarked "Oh you're the one with the good erg scores." which threw me for a moment. I had no idea how I compared to other people.

Now I'm back I intend to push my technique and power work a bit more so I'm in better shape to hopefully get a seat for the first proper race/time trial at the end of the month. I wonder if I'll be further back in the boat. On a completely separate note I had a lovely chat this morning while back at work which reminded me that there's more to life than rowing and exercising. That was nice and set me up for the rest of the day. Right now I'm about to finish up for the day and head on home and hope it doesn't rain or otherwise precipiate before I'm back from Tesco. I may even have another few Burdick chocolates this evening.

[17:00] Aside from going to the gym last night where I had a reasonable stab at my usual workout despite having missed three sessions last night was fairly quiet. I did a load of washing for Seville, neglected to wash up and still managed to go to bed a little later than I should have done. I'm moderately worried about my elbow which is why I didn't row at lunch today. Instead, seeing as no-one else is climbing this evening, I'm going to go for a nice long, relaxing run (possibly even the 18.9km version of it) this evening to stretch out and leave my arms alone a bit. The wind is fairly calm, it's not too cold or too hot, I think it might be quite nice. My erstwhile running partner has chickened out (again) so I've thrown the invitation open to my squad with a start time and a "be there or be square"ism. I couldn't give a rat's ass if I go on my own though.

This morning, from about 08:00 until 13:00 I worked solidly getting the APC UPS client software uninstalled and installed (upgraded version) on 48 machines. This was initially annoying and finicky until I figured out some shortcuts and dealt with the special cases last. Parallelising the operations shaved about an hour of the task too. Lunch was rushed at my desk while I got on with doing some documentation which has been hanging over me for the last few weeks.

This afternoon I've disposed of a metric buttload of cardboard and tagged and debagged three new servers which I'll get on with installing next week. In fact I'm going to install at least one of them with my team leader and another coworker watching in an attempt to "knowledge share" somewhat. This connects with the documentation I was doing too.

I had a bit of a wobble, mental-wise, yesterday and needed a little bit of time to get myself back on the level again. Not much fun while it was going on and I'm damned sure it was down to low blood-sugar and being slightly too tired, however the take-home message for this little episode is that I came out the other side feeling exactly as I should (and wanted to), and had beforehand. So basically your 'perfect' wobble.

I'm heading off momentarily to go for my run and spend the evening in happy contemplation before I pack tomorrow morning and vanish to warmer climbs until Sunday. Have a fabulous week and if you have a fabulous Friday why not tell me about it when I get back. You know, if anything special happens. It's a Friday, you never know.

[17:40] Busy busy busy busy busy. So very very busy. It's wonderful. I've tons to do at the moment and none of it is especially difficult, just a little time-consuming and moderately interesting. Admittedly all I'm doing is working out how to install new UPS software on all of our servers in as automated a manner as possible, but it's fun stuff and it keeps my brain ticking over. Especially when the documentation needs an extra brain cell or two employed to make sense of it all.

I didn't go for a run in the end last night on account of my running partner not actually turning up. Instead I did a 40min pull on the ergos (seeing as we were due to meet at the boat house) with some of the senior squad. Not the best time from my development squad, but I figure I'm still getting back up to speed again after a whole week off. I'm a little concenrned about my left elbow which could be about to develop a mild case of tennis elbow. We'll see how that goes while I'm in Seville.

Cormac and Steph wandered over last night as I was coming back from my row and we ended up overloading pizzas with meat and cheese and watching something suitably amusing on DVD until it was time for them to go home. I went to bed quite late (stupidly) so was a little tired when I got up this morning. Luckily today is Burrito Tuesday so I didn't need to flail about making a packed lunch for myself, which helped. I've been chatting on and off today, keeping things going and generally settling back into some kind of rhythm which should be maintainable for the forseeable future. Right here and now life seems pretty stable for the next few months and I really think I can get my head around some scheduled training, exercise, work and play. Of course, something'll come along to disrupt everything (injury, illness, plague of frogs, etc.) but right now things seem pretty much tolerable. Having another short week (last day of work tomorrow until Monday) probably helps somewhat too.

Gym time now. Then home.