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[16:40] I sit here now waiting only on Sun to ship me two parts for two different servers before I can fit them and go home. It would have been one but not only did Sun task DHL to send the first part here for pre-10:00 this morning and fail so that it arrived at 20:45 and the delivery guy was lucky enough to be let into the building by cleaning staff so that he could leave what could have been a very expensive bit of kit sitting around, but they also sent the wrong part. This required me to call Sun back again today and ask for the correct part to be sent out. At the same time I opened a new top priority call for another server which'd blow one of its bits and then had to nudge them to make sure the part we need came out today too. There's now a good chance that both parts will arrive "pre-17:10" today. That would be nice as although I don't have anything pressing to do this evening I do need to go to Tesco and then actually relax a bit.

I'm glad I went for a run at lunch time today, even if it was 6km and it didn't seem to be particularly quick. I needed the break from sitting at my desk. I'm actually looking forward to doing this hardware work this evening even if it's against all my Rules and sysadmin Rules in general to even contemplate hardware (or software) maintenance last thing on a Friday (and before a long weekend to boot). I should get ready to receive the parts and do the work so I can get out of here.

Before I go though, this weekend is rowing on Saturday (hopefully not too hard), racing at Wallingford on Sunday and possibly a cycle ride and barbeque on Monday. Then it's nose back to the grindstone on Tuesday. Usually we have at least one bit of hardware failure over a long/bank holiday weekend. I'm hoping that having them the Friday before will mean this isn't the case this time.

[17:05] Mostly today I have been trying to figure out how to get the LSI cards in this here server to be discovered in an order which will return the HDD-hosting card to the head of the list. Thus far I have tried udev rules, turning off the BIOS in the card itself, turning off the scanning of the OPROM for the slot the card is in and screaming silently in my head. Oddly not even the last one worked.

Rowing last night wasn't totally awesome, but all good practice for the weekend. I also called my friendly bathroom person today to organise the replacement fitter to come over and deal with what looks like tile grout failure. Maybe after this the bathroom will really be done. I'm just glad that at the moment there's nothing else wrong with the room.

No Thursday this evening so I'm looking forward to going home this evening and chatting with Kris via Skype for a good long while.

[17:10] Spent the morning installing three machines (a server, a tape robot and a 10TB disk array) into the server room in town. This was the easy part. The hard part has been trying to get the RAID monitoring software to see that the LSI card (SAS1064) with the disks attached is now on scsi1/ioc1 rather than scsi0/ioc0 where it was before. It seems the card the tape robot is hanging off (SAS1068E) has stolen scsi0/ioc0 and is also somehow blocking the RAID software monitoring from working. Apparently I might be able to sort this with some kind of udev rule setup but I honestly don't have the first clue how udev works so I think there's a fairly steep learning curve ahead of me!

Rowing last night was good. While it wasn't actually brilliant the cox we had meant that the person at stroke (who's been reducing the amount of rowing he does recently due to crews changing so much) mentioned that he'd like to come back and do more rowing if we kept in the same configuration. That'd mean me doing stroke side a lot more but if it also means we get a crew which doesn't change every time we go out I'm all for it. I'm rowing again this evening, in a different crew again, naturally. We'll see how that goes.

Kris emailed last night just after I'd gone to bed. She's A-OK and currently flying south again to her parents' place. Good to know.

[17:00] When I arrived home last night I suddenly realised I had no idea where my favourite sunglasses were. After chatting with Kris on Skype (we sorted out all of the documents we think we need for her visa application) I went back to work in the hope they were there rather than at the other server room, at the opticians or in the post office I went to. Luckily there they were on the desk so I was able to go home again (it's nice living that close to work) and fix the slow puncture in the rear wheel of my commuting bike. I am getting very close to buying a new daily use bike, I think. Especially as I appear to be stacking a fair amount away into savings every month now. One month's savings (actually less) is a small price to pay for five or more years of good quality cycling on a daily basis (including any cycle holidays Kris and I take in the future).

Today I've been mainly concerned with small bits and bobs of work and trying to sort out visiting some wedding venues. Thus far I appear to have ruled out at least one and booked two. It might even be three by the end of the day. This is nothing short of amazing considering I never even imagined I would ever be looking at wedding venues for a friend, let alone myself. Still, my parents will be helping me so it's not like I'll be on my own and liable to forget something important. I still can't wait for Kris to come home so we can go and look at (or return to) venues together.

Rowing tonight (and tomorrow night) so I should probably finish up with what I'm doing and get my stuff together at home so I can leave again. I haven't heard a peep from Kris today. I imagine she slept late, got up and is having a last awesome day in Boston before she returns to her parents' house. There is no chance the original documents are going to get to her in time so it's lucky we went with the PDF route yesterday. Stupid volcano.

[17:45] Packed packed packed weekend. Luckily with just enough time to relax too, so that's OK. Saturday morning was rowing. I was in another scratch 4+ as we seem unable to pull together either of the two crews I'll be racing in next Sunday. It seemed to go OK. Not brilliant, but OK. After that I went home and did some painting (the second coat on the bathroom door). It looks brilliant now that it's dried and is really making me want to do the rest of the woodwork which is currently a kind of faded cream. I think something else happened on Saturday but I can't remember. I know Kris and I talked, caught up on what's been happening with her since we last spoke but other than that I think it was a quiet afternoon.

Sunday was more rowing. Equally tough we were racing against each other for two minute pieces. It rained briefly and then stopped again. Back at the boat house I met Kate and Aaron and then, already tired, tried to keep up with Aaron on a 10km run. He pulled away in the final 2km or so but I still managed to put in an exceedingly respectable time for having also been rowing. I went home, had something to eat before I folded in half and then cycled over to Phil's house for Cormac's 'surprise' barbeque. Arriving first I helped set a few things up and then watched the cloud gather and then dissipate entirely until the sky was perfectly blue. Chat was had, drink was drunk and various bits of animal were cooked and eaten. Around 17:00 I began to feel really tired so cycled home with Keith for company and after putting some more washing on collapsed for the rest of the day.

This morning I was up and about in time to get to town for a contact lens checkup and then into work. I spent the first hour or so trying to get all the documents which hadn't made it to Kris in Boston (apparently they're still in Heathrow and aren't due to get to the US for quite some time) scanned and made into PDFs so I could email them to her. She'll put a note in with the whole packet of stuff to say that the volcano was responsible for the delay of the original documents and if they want them at a later date they'll be here soon.

After that I worked, went into town to replace a hard drive came back, had lunch and then spent the rest of the afternoon trying to work out why the new server and tape library wouldn't fit into a rack. It was only after some counting of rack holes that I realised that half of the rack was one third of a U out of alignment (but only on one side at the back). With help we got everything back into alignment and things seem to fit a little better into the gaps they're supposed to. I should head home now. I promised Kris I wouldn't exercise today (lunch or this evening) but I do need to get home in time to Skype with her. We should talk about wedding stuff I guess, as well as how she's doing and the fact that she handed in her Ph.D for the last time (to the bindery) today, which is awesome. The wedding stuff really feels pretty stressful at the moment. I know it doesn't need to be, I just need to work out how to make it so.

[17:10] Best news of the day (despite me still being here at 17:00 on a Friday) is that Kris has been given an extra ticket for her graduation ceremony! This means I can see her being awarded her Ph.D! As a result I've already booked my plane ticket out there. Of course I still don't know where I'm going to stay when I'm there, what we'll do and how her parents are going to treat me at the point where the fact that she's not going to be going into employment and she's coming to the UK are thrown into sharp relief. Yeah, I think that could be interesting. Hopefully I'll be paying my own hotel bills or they're going to think I'm just a freeloading bum who's convinced their very intelligent and extremely beautiful daughter not to keep looking for a job in academia in the US and instead move to the UK to a small, pokey house with cracks in the walls and bits that need painting instead. I'm OK with what the future's going to hold, I just hope they come to terms with it too.

So, honestly, good news.

Otherwise, a disk failed overnight so I've asked Sun to send me a new one. That's the only reason I'm still here at work rather than out at Tesco getting the weekly groceries. Apparently it's going to arrive before 17:30. I really hope that happens because otherwise I'm out of here and there's going to be a disgruntled courier going away with the drive we need.

The envelope which I sent to Kris in Boston still hasn't arrived yet. I called Royal Mail twice this morning. The first person I spoke to said that she knew for a fact that it hadn't escaped UK airspace before it was closed and therefore it'd only just arrived in the US. I then called back and spoke to someone through whose microphone I could hear the woman I'd just spoken to and was told that the envelope had left the UK before the volcano. As a result all I really know is that it's in New York, probably a sorting office in JFK and still not in Boston. I really, really hope it gets there before the 28th or Kris is going to go back to NC without it and we'll have to PDF everything and she'll have to send them instead (we have two weeks from the biometric interview she had). I guess we can put something in the packet which says we tried to get the originals to them but the volcano got in the way and they can follow if they like. So, that'll be that. Kris is in Hanover this weekend decompressing and I'll be rowing and running, as per. Much like I did this lunchtime wherein I did a nice 10km in the rather hot sun.

Have a fun weekend.

[17:20] The machine we did the motherboardectomy on seems to start misbehaving just before 17:00 every day and then begin behaving again just before 09:00 in the morning. It's almost like it misses having people around and throws a strop. We're going to do some more investigation tomorrow. That's what Fridays are for you know. Doing investigation of things. In other news I replicated everything I could see for our snmptrapd implementation onto another machine today. I won't be able to test it works (and therefore be one step closer to turning off another old machine) until some time next week as I need my team leader to do some stuff I don't know how to do first. That's a bit annoying but par for the course. I installed RHEL6 beta this morning, it's very shiny. In some places a little too shiny. I'll have to see what I can do about that in time.

And now for the big news: Kris passed her Ph.D defense! Not only passed but passed without any corrections needing doing! She's got it! I'm so amazingly pleased and proud. She's just totally awesome, supreme and excellent. I'm sure it'll sink in a bit more for us both (much as her coming here is still doing) as time goes on but it's one more (big, huge, massive) thing she/we can tick off in our list of things we need to do before we can start our lives together properly.

So yes, I'm very pleased.

I was hoping to go for a run today but remembered just in time that I had an appointment to get my hair cut and a cheque to pay in, so I did those things instead. I'll definitely run tomorrow. I'm really beginning to miss it. Maybe I'll do a slow 10km rather than push a fast 6km. Yes, that sounds like a great idea. Especially if the weather remains as perfect as it has been for the week to date.

I guess that's it for today. Kris news: check, work: check, other stuff: check. Ah yes, not doing the painting I should have done last night as I was rowing: check. The rowing wasn't totally great (not a patch on Sunday morning) and it turns out I'm going to be racing in a crew which may not get to actually practice together as a complete crew before the event itself. And I'll be rowing on stroke side, which isn't my natural side. I can't see this ending well.

[17:00] As I write this there's a good chance Kris is very close to emerging from her Ph.D defense. Two hours of being grilled over her last seven years worth of work. If they don't give it to her with minor corrections or less I will be exceedingly angry and very surprised. I've been thinking good thoughts for her all day anyway.

I should also have gone for a run at lunch time today. Unfortunately a Sun engineer arrived at 12:30 and we spent the next two and a bit hours changing a motherboard over (30 minutes) and the rest of the time waiting for someone at Sun to give us the right password to set a few text fields on the service processor. This meant no run for me, which was annoying. Luckily I should be rowing this evening in a 4+ again which means there'll be at least some exercise today to bookend my morning exercises (which I really think are doing me some good).

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 came out in beta today too. I've started some downloads of the DVD ISO files but they're going so slowly I won't be able to burn them to disc before tomorrow at this rate seeing as I need to get home and out to the boat house in an hour.

Hopefully I'll hear from Kris in the next few minutes and find out how things have gone.

[16:45] I finished painting all of the woodwork except the back of the bathroom door last night. It actually looks really good and has inspired me to do the door followed by, perhaps, the rest of the woodwork upstairs (meaning all of the skirting boards, doors and door frames). I might even end up doing downstairs too! Obviously this is going to mean a lot of sanding and painting and more than likely I'll spill at least a few drops on a carpet somewhere but I think it'll be worth it. Here's hoping that the little bit of sanding I'm going to try with the sander in the next day or so goes well or a lot of elbow grease is going to be required in the next few weeks.

I had dinner with Kate last night at a little Korean place in town. It wasn't as up-market as I thought it would be but the food was pleasant even if the portions were a little small. As a result we wandered across the road to the closest place that did nice desserts and had something there before heading to our respective homes, fully caught up on gossip, etc.

Today has been another quiet day. I've been able to email a whole slew of people about the machines that're out of warranty that we're still running fairly important stuff on. Of course for the most part it won't help and I'll be ignored for a while longer but at least I can say I tried to put things in motion. There's a few things I can do on machines over which I have control but otherwise it's at the mercy of the people who're responsible for the applications and databases themselves. I also need to learn about snmptrapd.

Kris apparently had her biometric interview today, and it didn't take long at all, which is good. Full speed to her dissertation tomorrow now!

Erging tonight I think.

[17:05] A hard a really good weekend actually, thanks for asking. Last thing on Friday I got a text to say that the rowing outing on Saturday morning had been cancelled due to someone having injured themselves and not being able to find a substitute in time. This meant that when I groggily awoke on Saturday morning it didn't take more than half an hour of feeling dozy before I remembered that I'd promised myself that every Saturday I wasn't rowing I'd go and do a parkrun. So, I pulled on some kit (including my heavier AR shoes, as my trainers were at work) and cycled over to the park. The run turned out to be totally awesome. Even with the Friday 6km which left me feeling pretty shattered right afterwards I was able to latch on to the fastest female and follow her the whole way around after the first 800m or so. To my embarrassment (and yes, I thanked her and apologised afterwards) I was able to sprint past her in the last 20m or so to come in ahead of her. Given how amazing she is at running (and many of the women who take part) I'd like to think that beating the first female across the line is a damned good achievement. As it was trying to keep up with her got me a new PB of 20:16 (which I only know because she got 20:17 on her watch, the official timer apparently had a glitch). The surprise of the morning was looking up from locking my bike to see Jenny standing there in running kit. Turns out she'd decided to come down and give it a go. We chatted a bit, I explained the parkrun logistics to her and then took my place in the pack (centre, four or five people from the front). We met up again afterwards and then completely failed to see each other in Tesco. I guess there's a chance we'll run into each other whenever I can make a parkrun from now on.

Home after Tesco I spent some time relaxing and looking at wedding venues as requested by Kris. I found a couple and emailed the preliminary query regarding dates and guest numbers. Most of the places responded today, which means I have to get on and start planning visits to see them, etc. After lunch I cycled out to the local hardware store to get a nail or two (and came back with two bags of one hundred or so in two different sizes) to secure the new frame around the bathroom door before painting it. Having done the sanding already I laid on the first coat and thanked myself for remembering to masking tape pretty much everywhere I needed to. I did forget a few spots and may have to go over those with the wall paint at a later date. One thing I completely forgot to sand down was the entire back and side of the door. For something so huge I may break out the little hand-sander that's been sitting in my garage for a good few years. Hopefully that'll do the job. I'll also remember to wear a face mask the next time, rather than breathing in who knows what. Anyway, once the first coat was on I took a break to let it dry. A break which has extended all the way to this evening as the paint (satinwood) seems to take an age to dry. I'll do the second (and final) coat of everything but the door this evening as soon as I get home before I go out to dinner. Saturday night was a pleasant party at Cat and Julian's house where I caught up on news and gossip with people I hadn't seen in too long. Unfortunately, with an early start on Sunday (rowing) I had to leave at around 22:30.

Sunday rowing began inauspiciously with three bowsiders and a strokesider who hadn't rowed more than four times in the last six years. I moved to stroke side and the other guy sat in the stroke seat. What we thought would be a terrible outing turned into something really quite brilliant and we all came back about two hours later quite jazzed by the experience. I went home and just before lunch Kris popped up (at a horribly early hour of the morning for her). We chatted and smiled a lot before she contemplated another nap and I went for a cycle. By the time I got home and relaxed it was time for dinner so I made a nice curry, settled down and eventually toddled off to bed.

Today I decided that four days of exercise back to back required one day off so I didn't run at lunch time today. Instead I came across the first two epsisodes of The Bridge, which interested me so much I'll see what the next few are like. I've also been trying to work out why the new Sun X4240 has been dropping random packets and seeing if Sun will send out an engineer with a replacement motherboard.

Dinner tonight with Kate, then home for an early night. Kris is on her way to Boston.

[16:35] The server Sun caused me to brick last night by asking me to downgrade the SP/BIOS firmware on to get rid of a simple warning message appeared to come back to life this morning when I plugged the power back in. Unfortunately the SP's web GUI was misbehaving and seemed to have certain bits either missing, non-functional or just plain broken. After being passed from pillar to post internally at Sun and being told that the box was actually now classed as DOA I went for a run and nearly ran myself into the ground. I don't think I was pushing any harder than when I went away and it wasn't that hot outside so I think it was more a case of still trying to get back the cardio-vascular fitness I lost while I was in the US. I look forward to doing that over the next few weeks. I'm slightly disturbed by how quickly things went downhill for me though.

Anyway, back at my desk I was emailed by Sun with a potential solution to the SP issue in the shape of "socflash". This is a utility which comes on the Tools CD/DVD iso image and basically says "I don't care what you have in your flash memory, have some of this! I tried it with the pre-erase option and it barfed but without that seemed to work perfectly. In fact from what I can tell all is well now. I've emailed Sun to tell them this is the case and also to ask what the hell was going on with the error I saw but it doesn't really matter that much now that everything is working as it should.

I'm about to head off to chat to Kris (who's still in California at the moment) and then relax for the rest of the day before getting up, out and on the water for 07:30 both days this weekend. Surely there's a law against that kind of thing? Perhaps, but maybe it'll mean I can get home in time to do some sanding and maybe even painting of the bathroom bits I still haven't gotten around to doing yet. Now that we know Kris is Coming Home I feel like there's a definite Something I can work towards with regard to the bits of the house that need some work. I like that a lot.

Oh, we all went to see Kick-Ass last night before a fun little meal at a Tex-Mex place. Definitely a lot of fun. Perhaps could have done with a little more dark humour but I think it did well for what it was.

[17:35] Spent the entire morning helping someone configure a network UPS to actually be able to talk to the network and the entire afternoon being stopped from doing an incredibly simple thing by Sun so that instead I had to downgrade and then upgrade the SP/BIOS firmware on a server with a minor warning on it. As a result the server has now been semi-bricked (in that the SP still 'works' after a fact but the chassis won't boot, at all). Wonderful.

There was no rowing last night, did I mention that yesterday? Anyway, no rowing. I'm going to the cinema for the first time in months tonight. Hopefully it'll be worth the massive amounts of cash that requires these days.

I'm going home.

[17:45] I'm probably still suffering a little from jet lag as I lasted all the way until midnight last night without feeling the slightest bit sleepy. I despaired getting to sleep much before 01:00 but somehow, as usual, was asleep before my 30 minute timer on the radio had turned it off. Maybe there's some kind of embedded signal in the programmes at that time of night which make you go to sleep. Anyway, as a result I wasn't totally useless for anything this morning even though the return to morning exercises left me feeling pretty dead even before I was dressed and showered and ready to face the day. I headed into town and posted the Important Documents to Boston and then went to work. Most of the morning was spent catching up on the last of the emails from while I was away, and then preparing to set up a new server for the new backup system. I went for a 6km run broken in the middle with a stop at another post office to send something to someone else. It didn't go well. I seem to have lost a huge amount of my cardio-vascular fitness and I'm probably not doing my reduced fitness self any favours by having to haul around a few more pounds of weight then when I left almost two weeks ago. It's with some relief that I've discovered that this evening's rowing outing is cancelled due to someone getting injured. I should go to the boat house and erg but I think there's a lot to be said for not going straight back into two big bits of exercise a day as well as morning exercises. I'll save that for next week I think. More running this week and rowing on the weekend first, just to ease myself back in to the swing of things.

Right, I think that's it for today. Kris is in California (lucky) attending an academic conference (unlucky) so the time difference is even more wacky than usual. I'll tell her you said hi if we get to Skype at all.

[17:35] Well, I'm back again. America was pretty awesome. Flying there and back with associated coach rides (4 hours each way) and a six hour layover in Atlanta were not quite so awesome, but these are the things you do for love. The food was equally good and bad (totally tasty, totally too much of it) and I'm feeling pretty out of shape as a result. Some of that might be down to me feeling jet-lagged but I feel completely unfit at the moment. Anyway, more on that later.

The trip itself was wonderful. Kris and I got to reconnect again, we did lots of fun things, went shopping, went to the beach (where I got to run next to an Atlantic ocean which looked the colour of the Pacific for the first time in my experience) and spent a serious amount of time working out where we were going to have our wedding. Suffice it to say the final decision we made did not make her parents very happy. That was the only fly in the ointment of an otherwise lovely trip to see my girl. I took some photos here and there, we did a few mini road trips, had picnics and even saw some historical (snigger) sites. There's obviously a lot more to the last week (including the fact that we both celebrated our birthdays) but mostly it boils down to smiling at each other a lot, holding hands, seeing lots of things and planning for the future.

Speaking of the last I spent much of yesterday after I arrived home as well as a chunk of this morning writing letters, pulling together documentation and photocopying things in preparation to package up and securely mail out stuff to Kris that she can pick up when she arrives in Boston next week to defend her Ph.D (which I incidentally read while I was there ostensibly to do error checking but also because it's something I should do). At that point she'll also be going for a biometric "interview" and with her stuff and my stuff in hand (including photos of us looking lovingly at each other) finish her application for her fiancée visa to enter the UK. Then the waiting'll begin. Maybe as few as six weeks, probably more.

Yes, that's right, Kris is coming here. We've heard from all but one of the places she interviewed for and the last one seems very unlikely to result in an offer so we've Decided. Kris is moving to the UK, to here, with me, where I am. I don't think I'm quite ready to throw streamers and dance and celebrate quite yet. Not until the last job thing comes in and there's no confusion either way. On top of that is the worry that the decision we've made about the wedding (and Kris' life just before and then after it) is going to be a problem for her parents. Things like that are taking the edge off my happiness. At the core though I am completely overjoyed (and not a little nervous) about the fact my girl will be coming home to me in a few months (paperwork willing). Of course, this means I have to pull my socks up about getting the house done up/fixed, providing for us both and generally being a proper adult almost all of the time. I happen to think it'll be the making of me though and we're going to be on average pretty much the happiest people in the world. I think another reason I'm not bouncing off the ceiling is that we've had to wait so long to come to this decision/conclusion. The stress, strain and worry I've been under (and Kris moreso) has made us both just a little inured to the realisation that part of the process has happened.

Don't worry though, when the time comes you won't be able to stop me grinning like a... well, like a man who's been reunited with his woman with whom he'll never be forced to be apart from again. Not terribly lyrical, but totally true.

So, that appears to be all the news that's fit to print today. I missed going to the post office at lunch time and also appeared to miss the contact lens check-up appointment I'd scheduled for 09:00 this morning on account of the 08:00 reminder I had set only going off at around 10:54. I'll do the former tomorrow morning with the latter having been rescheduled for the 26th.

[16:20] I have no interest in April Fools jokes, so there isn't one here. What there is is me basically saying very little happened today other than me reading a lot more about RHEL5.5, virtualisation and stuff like that. Pretty much a dead day. Which is good as it's my last day before I head off to see Kris. As a result I'm going home shortly, packing, chilling out and seeing if I need to set two or three alarms to get me up in time to get my coach at zero-dark hundred hours tomorrow morning. I still can't decide if I'm going to try and get some sleep or not. I think it's likely I will as I'm pretty much a lightweight when it comes to pulling all-nighters and tomorrow is going to be a doozy of a day. I estimate I'll be in some kind of motion for at least 18 out of the 24 hours I'll be between here and my destination. The rest of the time I'll be sitting in a chair or standing in a queue. Joy. Still it's all for a very good cause, namely my girl Kris.

So, I guess that's it for now. I'll be back in a bit with probably some photos and perhaps even a few stories. Definitely missing Kris and maybe with a firm decision as to where we're going to be for the next few years. Who knows? Have a happy Easter.