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[17:25] Typically, after a productive day I end on a low note with (of all things) a CD drive that ate a disc and needed to be disassembled to get said disc back. I'm going to try mounting the ISO via a virtual CD drive tomorrow even though that means starting up the slow and jerky Java RKVMS thingy.

The achieveful thigns about today are that I managed to reinstall four machines before 10:00 this morning, get a burrito lunch with Kris and Cormac and get into town with two servers and bring two others back, one to be decomisssioned and the other reprepped. This has also meant rewriting some setup configurations and updating some firmware. I'd have done all that stuff over the network only certain functionality I thought would only be accessible with physical media. I'll try and disprove my own theory tomorrow after I'm back from the opticians for a contact lens checkup.

In other news I've been wibbling about things a little and trying to retain hope that good things are coming rather than anything else. It's impossible to say just what the future will hold and I refuse to put finger to keyboard to say either way, no matter what I might think. I don't want to tempt whatever fate may or may not exist.

Gym tonight, then some marvellous pick'n'mix dinner with my girl.

[17:00] Another one of those Mondays when I'll have to tell you about the weekend on Tuesday. It's not like most of the day was busy but I have been involved in the three-monthly Nessus scans which have occupied a fair amount of my time. Not that I've been able to do the Windows server scans as the person who can say if I'm going to get in the way of performance monitoring is off ill so can't tell me if EMC have finished doing what they need to with his machines.

Other than having lunch paid for in town today by the old Networks guy for whom I managed to snag some GBICs I've just been handed an imperial bucket load of work which pretty much all needs to be done tomorrow before the end of the day. Much of it is stuff I'd already done which now needs to be done a different way because of problems with LinuxThreads and NPTL (don't ask). As a result I'm going to be getting in pretty stupidly early tomorrow to make sure this is achievable. I'll also be bringing back a machine from the server room we don't really use any more to reprep that too. Although that's a little less time-contingent.

I'm off hashing this evening (although I'm a smidgen concerned about my knees) and then it's pizza and a semi-early night to get me up and about for tomorrow. I feel a bit rushed at the moment, I have to say. I think it's good for me... or at least useful.

[16:00] Thank goodness it's Friday. It's not like the week has been particularly busy, but it has been stressful. Also extremely tiring. This is obviously, for the most part, my fault. Take last night for example. As soon as I left work I met up with Kris and went home. After a quick snack and some quiet time together I cycled fully the length of town to a Park and Ride on the outskirts. I them, with two people from the Adventure Racing group I'm hoping to become a part of, ran for about an hour up the only really decent hill for miles, through woodland and forest and got thoroughly muddy and wet into the bargain. We must have covered a good few miles at a reasonable pace. I then cycled home, in the dark, at high speed (stopping only to peek in on Kris doing her yoga session) to a house where Kris had (bless her) done the washing up. Before showering I ate: a chocolate Geobar, a Tunnock's Wafer and half of a malt loaf. Once Kris came home we had sausages, chips and blanched spinach (which was truly lovely). I don't think I've been quite so hungry in a long time. It was marvellous. Road running has nothing on that kind of experience when the ground is changing under you with every step. I slept like the dead last night and woke in the morning feeling a tiny bit achesome and quite upbeat. Kris too, which was nice.

Anyway, work today has been dull and empty, giving me time to research some personal stuff and go for a lunchtime run. Even after last night's exertions and some mild ache in my left knee I think I put in a reasonable time. I'm off at 16:10 today to meet Kris and get some things done before the gym, then we're home for the night. This weekend, well, there'll be a Tesco trip for certain, other than that... Shopping for birthday presents for Kris, I hope. Also perhaps a meeting with an Australian friend of hers, perhaps in London. Otherwise I think we'll be doing some housework and keeping ourselves busy in and out of the house.

Unless the weather is horrible.

[16:45] "Thoughtful" is how I'd describe myself at the moment. There's an awful lot of stuff and things going on in my head and in my life at the moment. Contemplative and perhaps even a little reflective and ruminative also. Truth be told things just aren't as shiny as they could be or once were at the moment. The only aspect of it all that keeps me from getting angry with myself is that it's no-one's fault and there's nothing easy that can be done to make things better. All the solutions are hard and aren't just something that would make a difference overnight either. In fact in the longer term they could even make things worse. There are thoughts to be thunk and decisions to be made. Just not yet. Not yet.

In the meantime there's still a lot of good things which can distract, entertain, be enjoyed and employed to make my life and the lives of those closest to and around me much better, if the mental clouds can be pierced by that sunshine then I anticipate smiles for a good little while yet.

Other stuff can come later.

I have been learning a lot about LinuxThreads and NPTL today and how RHEL4 supports both and RHEL5 doesn't (specifically LinuxThreads). It's all down to glibc versions. To cut a long story short it appears to be the reason we have a problem that's affecting our web server platforms when it comes to startup and/or shut down. It's highly annoying and quite possibly down to bad programming. We've bounced the issue as much as we understand it to the company who wrote it, but I'm not holding out much hope that things are going to be fixed. As a result I may have to reprep a good few boxes as RHEL4 rather than RHEL5. As a side note, RHEL4 support ends at the end of February 2012.

I'm going to be running this evening, in the dark (and possibly wet, too) with some adventure racers. I'm pretty sure this is going to take my mind of things for a little while, which should be good. I imagine that cycling home post run will be a bit tiring, especially if the weather's as breezy and changeable (read: wet and cold) as it is now. Still, Kris, a hot shower and sausage and chips will await me.

[17:00] Surprisingly, for having been awake between 02:00 and 04:30 this morning (or something like that), I've felt pretty awake and OK for most of the day. I even managed to get a reasonable 6.2km run in at lunch time (the extra distance being due to not remembering where I was supposed to meet someone at 12:30). Kris and I had a pretty fitful night last night but the end result was that we got out of bed in the morning feeling positive on the whole. I tell you, life really is complicated sometimes. There's all kinds of stuff going on in our lives at the moment and sometimes it just keeps one (or both) of us awake. Happily this is where being two people comes into its own and you get some company to talk your problems out with. There are also hugs to be had. Now that's great.

Otherwise... still no progress on the dual monitor spanning/panning thing, but I'll keep trying until I crack it or someone brings out a fix which fixes what may be a bug in the xorg-drv-i810 (intel) driver. Other than that I've been messing with sysctl, limit and java settings in an attempt to make PeopleSoft web servers start up and shut down more sensibly. Ah, bad programmers (not just PS, but kernel programmers responsible for futex wait state bugs), we love 'em. But it's a tough love.

Tonight is a date night, so I better get going as there's popcorn to make and a cycle to do!

[16:55] Let me tell you about the weekend before I forget, or run out of time. As there was no rowing Kris and I decided to go for a long cycle. This turned out to be both a brilliant and tiring idea. We cycled north out of the city and about 18 miles of dirt tracks and rather muddy rutted tracks later came to the next town. Happily, although we'd had to wash our footwear and bikes in a hydrant at one point due to the extreme muddiness of one or two sections (next time we're going by road or the NCN route), all was well and we arrived unbowed and ready to try something longer next time. Part of the reason it was so great was probably down to a) a smashing picnic half way through and, b) it being a wonderfully sunny day. Sunday we organised a picnic on one of the greens in the centre of town and pretty much everybody we invited came, which was nice. Unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worse in terms of cloud and air temperature and so we all moved to a pub.

Last night, rather than go to the gym or run or anything Kris and I ended up in town where we had a bit of a decompress about things which were bothering us over a nice cup of tea. It's definitely important to have those kinds of conversations, even if the things you talk about aren't the best. It's even better when you come home and made positive decisions off the back of them. We'll see what the future brings with regard to just how much effect our positivity has.

I've made some serious progress on this Dell Optiplex 760 dual monitor problem. Not that I completely understand the how or the why of it but there you go. Right now I appear to have some kind of merged frame buffer (MergedFB) even though I haven't specified it. Along with that I have a desktop which spans both monitors. Unfortunately although both are showing a 1600x1200 image, when you move the mouse to the right hand side of the left hand monitor the image scrolls for another 1600 pixels to show you what's also on the right hand monitor (where the mouse also appears at the same time). Basically the left monitor has a range of 3200x1200 where the second 1600 is also available on the right hand one. I just wish I knew how to limit what the left hand monitor showed.

That's a problem for tomorrow (and probably more days after that). Right now I need to go into town to help Kris pick some birthday present shoes (Gore-Tex cross training) and then go to the gym to make up for not doing any exercise yesterday. There's a chance I may be doing some kind of Adventure Racing training on Wednesday or Thursday evening. You'll know when I do.

[17:10] A smashing weekend which I might tell you about tomorrow. Today has been mostly about smashing my head against the wall while trying to get the new Dell Optiplex 760 to run two monitors in spanning mode under RHEL5. I don't know if you remember the issues I had back in 2007 getting this kind of thing to work on a Dell Optiplex 280? Well this time it seems doubly as hard because all kinds of bits of software are too old or out of date and I just don't seem to be able to get the intel driver for the graphics chipset inside the machine to play well. I mean, it's only the onboard VGA and an add-in PEG DVI card. How hard should it be? Microsoft seem to have got this kind of thing licked. It really makes me frustrated that the linux community can't get the same kind of ease of use. Not that I'm contributing anything, I'm not clever enough... but surely someone is?

I even missed out on going for my lunchtime run trying to get this thing working. Add in the fact that certain commands affecting the X setup seem to bugger up the machine I'm sitting on and things really start to get quite tedious. I'm not sure what I'll be doing this evening at this rate. I'm all kinds of peeved at this so maybe a run would help. I don't know.

[16:30] Today has been a rather pleasant day all things considered. Aside from waking up a little early (which didn't really matter as we don't have a house guest any more) it's all good. We got to work in good time, I've had a day of rewiring a cabinet (which was already neat, so no great hassle), going for a smashing 6km run in the cool sunlight of spring and discovering that there's an outdoor activity which really could be the best thing ever. I have discovered "Adventure Racing" and things may never be the same again. I know that sounds big and momentous but it really could be if I get into it in a major way. I just can't believe I didn't really notice it this much before. I've contacted a local AR group and with luck will be going out with them some time next week to see what's what. Given some of the key skills you seem to need are those of running/trekking, cycling/mountain biking, kayaking, climbing and navigating it does seem a little like a dream come true. We'll see I suppose. I'd love to get back into paddling regularly again and to be part of a team of like-minded people would be really rather great, I think.

Anyway, enough waxing lyrical about that. There's no rowing this weekend as some lucky people are off to the Head of the River at Tideway, so I'm going to be doing some of my own exercise this weekend instead. Also having a smashing bacon and pancake brunch on one day, some gentle cycling on another, perhaps a spot of running and/or erging and maybe even a spot of rugby watching in a pub to round it all off. All in the company of the delectable Kris. Marvellous.

[17:00] Kris' house guest left at 04:20 this morning. We went back to sleep again afterwards. I'm very impressed that Kris was able to get up and be awake and civil at that time in the morning. It'll be an early night tonight I think.

Today I've been mostly in the server room all day building the last of the new machines, creating a pile of machines to take to the other machine room and racking up the new power distribution units (PDUs) with the new double mounting brackets so that there's more than one power phase going to each rack. It looks really rather neat, tidy and spiffy I have to say.

Other than that, not much has been happening, which is rather nice for once. Oh, and I went to see Watchmen last night. First of all I pedaled over to the big multiplex on the south side of the city and stood behind the person who got the last two tickets for the showing I was hoping to go for. As a result I had to pedal back into town and go to the local arts cinema instead. It wasn't any cheaper (especially after I bought a drink to make up for the fact I'd missed out at the other cinema) but the seats were a wee bit nicer, the screen had less of a feeling of a cattle market and I had less distance to cycle home after the mammoth length of the film and the late hour at which I emerged. How was the film? Well, any attempt to film Watchmen was going to fail. But I think this barely failed at all, even if the ending was a bit strange.

There's a regular Thursday tonight. I should go home and do some washing up.

[17:45] Not that I mind having lots to do at work but it and its effects sure does get in the way of the rest of my life. I haven't been climbing in months now and I've just passed up the perfect opportunity to go this evening because I am a little tired and as you may have noticed I'm still at work. I'm also feeling the effects of being on the edge of the storm that is Kris' illness so that's probably contributing too. I've also not been to see Watchmen (or anything else) at the cinema (recently), nor have I been able to get in all the exercise I'd like to be doing for a while either. I don't know what's eating my time at the moment. Maybe that's not it, maybe I'm just feeling too tired such that when I do have free time I just want to sit down and not think about doing stuff (because, let's face it, I spend most of my day sitting down at a computer).

Although not today or in fact most of this week. No, I've been doing lots of running up and downstairs (I also went for my lunchtime 6km run too) racking and kickstarting more of the servers we got last week. As of this entry I've installed all but one of them (which I intend to do tomorrow) and hopefully have found enough rack space in our other server room to rack the ones which aren't staying here. Those which are staying here are neatly racked in the new racks we have and my don't they look shiny?

I had someone come to see the house this morning to give me another quote for the building work I'm going to have done towards the end of the month/beginning of next. Having been up on the garage roof again to see the damage I'm really beginning to think that the quote I've gone with already is probably a good deal considering the damage even a layman like me can see. I have almost officially given up on trying to get the window company to pay for the work. I really do think they're not going to budge and while I can see holes in the argument their solicitor letter puts forward the onus really is on me to deal with the burden of proof. I'd rather not spend any more time, mental energy or effort on it and just get it done and out of my head so I can concentrate on the things in my life which are more important. Not that the house isn't important, but you know what I mean.

I should go home and do some washing up and then try and have some relaxation time to myself. I might go to the cinema this evening but I think I'll get back really rather late if I do...

[17:05] Mostly today has been frustrating. The kickstarts I was doing just stopped working when I started doing two new machines. Coupled with a minor RAM detection issue which may mean there's some bad RAM out there I spent pretty much half a day struggling to work out what I'd done wrong. It turns out that one of my coworkers implemented an Apache authentication module for a service he was working on and chose the base name for the server my kickstart HTTP tree is on. Cue some SIGSEGV errors which I couldn't diagnose via serial console and required me to connect a monitor and keyboard so I could page through the virtual consoles until I saw some requests and redirections to a site I didn't expect to be there. Annoying, to say the least.

Still, I've built three machines today despite that. That includes all the post build setup stuff as well. I'm just past half way through now (at least for the newly-arrived machines, there's still some older ones to rebuild) so aside from these occasional curves I keep getting thrown everything's going nice and smooth/automatedly. Had a nice lunch time burrito-and-a-bit with Kris and Katy. Kris is beginning to look and feel a bit better after her sore throat/cough/tiredness thing. I must have caught some aspect of it as the 30min erg I did last night was really quite tough in places. I'm off to the gym for a bit now, and then home to collapse/relax for the evening (aside from helping cook dinner, of course).

[17:10] Happy birthday to my brother today. Right now I think he's teaching people how to sow seeds (he works in IT). I wish my present to him had arrived in time, but even ordering it two weeks beforehand doesn't seem to have allowed it time to get delivered.

I have been busy as the proverbial bee today. Aside from finding a solution to kickstarting the x4X40 servers which RHEL4 refused to see the USB controllers for (the wonders of mailing lists), I spent most of the morning rewriting a Big Brother monitoring script to deal with newer versions of the application it relies on as well as newer hardware than I had access to (and still don't, but I've made an educated guess) at the time of writing. In fact now I think about it I spent the morning and the first part of the afternoon (when I should have been running, showering and eating lunch) working on that and getting it uploaded to the download server for other people to use.

Once that was done I kickstarted the previously unkickstartable machines (by my usual method) and got on with replying to emails and stuff as well as getting another two machines part-prepared for tomorrow when I'll be doing the same thing again, only much more quickly now that I know how.

I'm sorry I haven't put the Paris photos up yet but the weekend was kind of busy. That started on Friday night when I went to the gym straight after work and from there to Tesco to pick up as much heavy stuff as I could before Kris and Katy came home on Saturday evening. As such I didn't get home until gone 20:00 at which point all I could do was put things away, have a shower, eat and collapse.

Saturday morning was rowing and we managed to get an VIII out on the river. The outing wasn't bad but the mix of people we have in the boat made for a rather unset outing. Not only that but people who should have been there and are now getting regular places in other boats, leaving us literally high and dry sometimes. I wouldn't mind so much except that I'm not getting the opportunity to substitute in the same boats when I feel I'm at least as good as those people who are being given opportunities. But anyway. After rowing I came home and had not enough to eat before cleaning and tidying most of the house, doing the washing and washing up and only at around 16:00 sitting down to watch some recorded television. Kris and Katy arrived a little later into the evening after some train annoyances. We ate, relaxed and went to bed.

On Sunday I was annoyed to find that two people who'd been in the boat on Saturday had drunk too much that night and weren't turning up to the outing on Sunday. Not only that but someone who had said he was going to be unavailable was actually rowing for another club entirely. He's one of the ones who regularly gets to row in better boats than ours in the club (probably because he socialises a lot with other members of the club). I let all that go so that I could concentrate on getting a IV out with the coach we'd managed to snag for the morning. The outing ended up not being too bad, even though I think we were all a little concerned about capsizing (or at least the cox was). Still, by the end even the coach said we'd done pretty respectably for our first go together. After getting home I dragged Kris and Katy out to Tesco for the remainder of the food we needed before having lunch outside on the grass. Much as I'd wanted to go to the cinema to see Watchmen it was just too lovely a day to be indoors so even with Kris feeling more and more ill we cycled into town to show Katy around for a few hours. After getting home feeling like we'd used the day semi-productively we ordered curry (which I went to get) and then watched stuff on the box before bed.

I think Kris has slept for most of today in an effort to recouperate. I hope to get out of here shortly, go home, do a run (or go to the gym and erg) and then have a rather lovely roast lamb dinner. Tomorrow will be more server preparation and stuff with a chance to check refinements I've made to the post-install build scripts based on today's results. I may have to go a little slower though as my co-worker wants to see how I do what I do.

[17:00] Another Friday the 13th and this one has bitten quite hard. First off Kris had to be up at the ass-crack of dawn to get down to London to meet her friend who's visiting from America for just under a week. On top of that it looks like RHEL4 and Sun x4140/x4240 servers don't play well together when it comes to USB kickstarting.

This is frustrating. Especially as I was using these machines as a way to demonstrate how my kickstarting works. Rather than stress about it I have a) spent some of the day working out how best to route and contain the cables in the new racks and, b) been for a lunchtime run. Although in the latter case I think I may have slightly pulled something which is going to mean I don't do any leg exercises at the gym this evening before going to Tesco (if I go tonight rather than tomorrow after rowing and then teaching rowing to the beginners).

After tomorrow morning's activities I'll either be cleaning and tidying the house for Kris and her friend coming home in the evening or ensuring that we have sausages and potatoes in the house to cook the friend the "bangers and mash" she's apparently got her heart set on while she's in the UK. I look forward to meeting her. With luck it'll be as fun for Kris to have one of her original friends here as I hope.

I still haven't decided what to do about the window thing. It needs more thought and more reading over of what I have and what evidence I think I can feasibly collect.

[17:10] So I got a letter from the window company's solicitors last night. Right on the date I'd said was the deadline. First thing I did after reading it was go for a 12.7km run to clear my head a little. It didn't help much but at this point I'm really not getting stressed about it any more. The work's going to get done either way I just need to work out how much time, effort and money I put into trying to get some money back for something which is their fault. I need to think some more and try and come up with a way of proving what I know to be true. With both the solicitor and Trading Standards people saying that my case isn't particularly strong I'm beginning to think that I may not win this thing even though I'm in the right. I'm not done yet, there's still perhaps one more letter in me before paid-for solicitor know-how (which I don't think is worth it for me given the amount of money involved) beats home-grown brains (me and my extremely helpful and smart friend Ian).

Work-wise (remember that?) I was in work for 06:45 this morning to down a live DB server to stick 16GB more RAM into it. That went perfectly well aside from having to wait overlong for processes to end (they didn't owing to bad shell scripting). Back at the office I've been tweaking post-installation scripts for our new generation of boxes running RHEL5 and servicing our flagship application.

Tonight I fully intend to sit back, chill out and watch something cool on television before Friday comes around and I have to show my co-worker how to install boxes using my patented USB Kickstart stick method.

[17:10] Not so great news today about the window stuff. Still, I'm quite resigned to it all now that I know it's going to have to be dealt with and I can actually pay for it (even if it's going to be a big dent in my savings). Still, it's good to know that I'm doing (still one or two things to try) all I can rather than just lying back and accepting the situation. Things continue to be brilliant with Kris and even though I haven't had time to go for a run at lunch time today due to racking new machines in a new rack (must remember that the power distribution unit needs moving to the other side of the rack), been unable to work out why inserting a ZXTM load balancer between an Apex installation and IE caused Flash graphs not to load but continue to load in Firefox and work my way around a lack of terminal server by using an honest-to-goodness VT100 to set up some machines which refused to do DHCP for their service processors before they'd been tickled via serial... I still feel reasonably OK and just hope that there's the chance of a run this evening.

I was hoping to have a quiet night in watching some recorded television but at this rate I'm going to need to go out and either do a Hash or go to the gym. I really need to burn off some energy.

[17:00] Wotcha everyone. I just flew back from Paris and boy my arms are tired. Not that I flew, it was Eurostar both ways. Other than a bit of a pause outside the French end of the tunnel on the way back the transport was flawless at every stage. We even made the right train home on domestic railway too. Kris and I had an absolutely brilliant time. I'll get the fact that it took me a wee bit of time to settle down (all the stress crowding in my head at the moment over the house and stuff), relax and enjoy things out of the way first. Also that we had a few discussions about life, the universe and everything but that they were hugely productive and mark a bit of a change in how things are going to go from now on. I'm very very hopeful on that score.

Now that that's done I can move on to the most excellent time we had walking everywhere (boy, our feet are tired), seeing the Louvre (including the really interesting stuff beneath it), Notre Dame, the crypt and stuff close by, old Roman baths (even if the best bits were closed), lots of the Latin Quarter, the islands in the Seine, having amazing ice cream, buying pink chopsticks, eating lots of phenomenal food including going back to the same crepe place as on the way back from my 30th birthday in Spain and a truly wonderful meal that we would have been even more astonished with if we hadn't been falling asleep in our seats and caught up in an important conversation, going all the way to the top of the Eiffel Tower, looking down the Champes Elysee at night, seeing Montmartre and walking, walking, walking everywhere. It's no wonder we didn't see many fat people in Paris if everyone's walking as much as we did. Then again, the sheer tonnage of cheese, tarts, cakes and pastries we ate must surely have made up for the amount of pavement-pounding we did.

There's a few photos to sort through and we even managed to send postcards to the people we were required to but in the main we walked a lot hand in hand, talk a lot about everything and generally had a lovely, wonderful, thought-provoking and emotional time. The hotel was reasonable too.

Since getting back I've mainly been working on the letter I may or may not be sending to the window company (having had a useful but ultimately depressing meeting with a friend with far more legal knowledge than me), calling surveyors for more bad news with regard to who I might be able to blame for this window problem and unpacking thirteen new servers, two of which I need to build tomorrow. Incidently I got to decommission one of those three old servers today because the Windows server guys needed the power stuff off the back of it as they'd smashed the ones on an identical model removing it from the rack. Oops.

Lunch was a burrito with the fragrant and radiant Kris (and Shaun) which was helpful as we don't have any lunch-making stuff in the house having been away for the long weekend. I've got an appointment with a solicitor this evening which should give me a bit more information to work from and then I have to think about rewording and then sending that letter, or not. Given the conversations Kris and I have had recently about the money I've been saving not just being for the new kitchen but for the house in general. It's no use saving for one big thing and not getting around to the other things.

Anyway, should go and see if I can find some letters I wrote to my surveyors and mortgage company in 2004 to see what I said.

[17:05] I had a nice evening to myself washing up and relaxing while Kris was out running last night. We also had a rather lovely meal of chipolatas when she came home (her first).

Today hasn't been spectacular in terms of work done on account of me discovering that the Shorewall installation I have is 4.2.0 and the version I need to upgrade from (via a tar file of /etc/shorewall/) is version 1.2. This is a major jump and given I'm not too hot on firewall/iptables stuff anyway is something of an uphill struggle for me. My team leader is obviously quite unimpressed with me and will be taking a look at it tomorrow while I'm away. Hopefully he too will discover just how nest-of-snakes it all is and will cut me a bit of slack for my lack of achievement in getting everything working.

Anyway, that's enough for now. I've also been working on the final draft of my letter to the window company in preparation for sending it next week. I fully expect the poo to hit the fan as soon as it's received. I just have to weather the storm and see what happens. I know I'm in the right, I just really dislike confrontation with angry people who may or may not believe they are. Next entry will be on Tuesday.

[17:20] Aside from not actually eating the popcorn I'd procured (nor the shortbread fingers, but I'm sure they'll be started soon, if they haven't already) and me having a bit of a downer at the end of the evening Kris and I had a wonderful 'date night' last night. After coming back from the gym with only a minor ache in my mid-back muscles I made dinner with some very helpful help from Kris and then we settled down to watch a film we'd been saving since Christmas. It was interesting as well as thought-provoking and left me feeling sad at the end. Wonderfully, Kris reminded me of the good things going on in my life and the evening was far from ruined by the time we went to bed.

She really is rather wonderful.

Another example of her wonderfulness was her coming in with me to work this morning (to go on as normal to the library) and then going home again to wait in for the NTL engineer so that our broadband could be fixed. Seeing as the time slot was 08-12 or 12-16 (we opted for the latter) I'd have to have taken half a day off to deal with it.

I ran today. It didn't feel very fast but it was one of my better times (by about 30 seconds anyway). Maybe I'm actually getting fitter. Who knows? We're actually off climbing for the first time in ages tonight. That should be excellent (or embarrassing, depending on how much I've forgotten).

The afternoon has been spent replacing the last two (but one, mine) older Dell Optiplex desktops with newer ones. Pretty by the numbers really. All I need to do now is mine and we're sorted. There's still the new network management server to build and the temporary firewall box to do something with, but there doesn't seem to be much guidance on what's supposed to be happening there.

[16:15] Another day, another draft of my LoC. With some suggestions from my friend with the legal knowledge I'm now going to start work on the next draft and hopefully come up with something a bit more sensible. I've a few more days before I go away and come back to my meetings with solicitors and Trading Standards people so there's still time.

The first half of the day here was pretty quiet with the highlight being lunch with Kris and a spicy pork burrito. This afternoon I've been installing an interrim firewall box for another department and doing an emergency reinstall of a DB box with a 32 (rather than 64) bit OS. This is a bit annoying but luckily I have all the kickstart and post installation scripts to hand. That means I should be able to get out of here at around 17:00 so I can go to the gym and then on my date with Kris.

Last night's Hash was excellent. Not only for me as I got to run a lot, but also for Kris as she got to go at her pace too. We chatted to people, got our Virgin 'down-downs' done (I got an extra one for sending a humorous joining request to the mailing list) and met a load of really nice people (note to self must talk to more/different people next time).

Anyway, must get on. Lots to do before I go to the gym!

[16:55] It really was a lovely weekend. Rowing on both days, no trip to Tesco, lovely food (cooked by Kris, with help from me), a chance to clear my head somewhat and even some bread-making and meal out fun too. Yes, all very good. It's just a shame that my brain is still dwelling on the issues with the house. The cracks I see everywhere, the feeling that as time goes by I'm more and more turning out to be someone who bought a lemon as a place to live. I'm probably not, but it certainly feels like it when I look around the house. The huge amounts of condensation which returned overnight didn't help my mood at all. I mean, I know it was almost certainly because of the hot showers, large amount of cooking and the drop in temperature outside yesterday but it's not like any other houses around seemed to be suffering from the same thing. Although my periods of being really OK with things which bother and stress me out are increasing in numeracy and duration I'm still struck by rather strong bouts of introspection, depression and worry about things now and again. You might have noticed.

This, obviously, does Kris and I no good at all. I'm doing what I can (at least, some of what I'm probably able to anyway) house-wise by keeping up a small amount of DIY whenever time allows (filling holes in the entrance hall and repainting them and damaged paintwork recently, repainting the water damage in the bedroom and probably the boxroom hopefully within the next few days) but I still feel like... I don't know... I could have done better and not been stuck with a domicile where it seems like every wall has a crack in it. I feel like there's a fragility to the place which affects me deeply because it's my home damnit.

It feels like the best things which have happened to me in life (meeting Kris, traveling around the world to sail the South Pacific, things like that) have happened when I've had few to no real cares in the world. Those kinds of things really do give me the desire to change how I react to life and what it throws at me, I just find it harder at some times than others. It's disappointing in a way; I always thought I'd be much better at handling stress and problems and issues. At the moment it doesn't seem like I am, but I'm damned if I'm not going to get better at it. There's no other course of action which makes sense. Parts of why certain unfortunate things have happened in my life have been down to my inability to relax and accept that once I've acknowledged a problem there's no need to keep proding and poking at it like someone picking at a scab. If I could wave a magic wand and fix everything I can think of right now I would, but that's not how life works. I need to keep trying, working at and understand that life isn't easy except for one or two lucky people. For everyone else it's hard graft.

So, today I've been taking a first stab at a draft of my Letter of Claim to the window company. This is when I start laying things out even more legally in the hope that they'll see that I have a valid claim for recompense for the damage his installers caused. While that's been going on I've installed another desktop upgrade (and blown away and failed to recreate the USB kickstart device, stupid RHEL5 and GRUB) and learned a lot more about pre-action protocols for construction and engineering disputes. I'm off to the gym for a little while after work with Kris and then we're going to our first ever Hashing event. That should prove interesting.