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December's Journal
February's Journal

[16:50] Kris and I have worked out that she'll need to head back to the US on or very close to 12 February. This is, of course, majorly poo but something we've been expecting to be the case since she reentered the country back in October. Bothersome, yes. So, this means we have approximately two weeks to get things we want to do together in person done, get her as packed as we can for what she'll be allowed/able to take back and to say our goodbyes for the time being. Obviously I'll be going over there at least once while she's busy doing her job interview(s), getting her Ph.D finished, defended and awarded and going through all her stuff in NC in preparation for wherever she ends up after that. Right now it's almost certain to be either be here with me or somewhere on the eastern side of the US. I don't think there's anything else we're interested in.

With luck we'll be able to get two things about the house fixed next week by Kris being home during the day. The cistern leak (by our most unfavourite fitter bathroom and not-plumber) and the rear wall crack (external) and damp-proof course clearing (by our slightly more favoured builder). I just hope nothing goes wrong once Kris has gone as her no-nonsense American attitude is awesome for dealing with tradesmen.

I should head off to be honest as it's well past going home time. I ran at lunch time today and tried to do that whole striking with the front of the foot rather than the heel and ended up pulling something in my right calf muscle which is a bit annoying considering Kris and I are doing a 5km run through a local park tomorrow morning seeing as I'm not rowing again until after the next race my boat (which I'm not in) is doing. This means that we'll actually get to sleep in on Sunday!

Work was pretty dull today but I spiced it up by learning all about linux kernel schedulers. Wow, how cool is that? Yeah, I know, totally. The more you know the better you are and all that. I just wonder what other knowledge I had was forgotten to make room for those totally essential and vitally important bits of information. You know how they say that the brain can only hold a finite amount of information? Well, there goes my childhood memories of winning first prize in the egg-and-spoon race.

[17:10] Another quiet day. It's also my one day of the week when I don't actually do any exercise per se. Of course that doesn't stop me cycling to and from work nor stopped me from cycling into town at lunch time to a) close a bank account which isn't worth having open any more, paying in the cheque from it and, b) enquiring as to whether I'd be charged if I moved my ISA to another provider (one that actually gives a better (any) rate of interest. The move has been requested and now I guess I wait for the paperwork and fill in what I need to. I know very little about ISAs and tax and Money Stuff generally so hopefully this and all my other money matters (insurance, life insurance, life assurance, mortgage, etc.) all continue to be as straight forward as I believe they are at the moment.

I think I'll go home now. I have papaya spears in my bag and I need to give some to Kris and Cat (who were keeping each other company this afternoon) so I don't munch them all myself. Standard Thursday although there might be a kick in the tail of it, if I'm lucky.

[17:15] The climbing last night was pretty awesome. Obviously I wasn't very good after so long away from The Wall, but a lot of fun was still had by all. I'm sure I pulled a muscle or two in my left shoulder and both forearms went completely solid musclewise but it was great, even if it was absolutely freezing (after about seven holds your fingers would go numb). We got home at a reasonable time considering how far we'd had to drive, had some food and fell into bed. I don't think I slept terribly well but still managed to drag myself out of bed, shower and walk to work in time (bike having been left last night when getting picked up from work to go climb).

The morning was spent, aside from working, trying to get in contact with the coordinator for bathroom fitting at the company I had it done with. It turns out that whenever you flush the toilet now the join between cistern and pan leaks a noticable amount of water. This obviously needs fixing soon. Last night we were too tired to be able to tell if it was leaking all the time or when flushed so we emptied the cistern by turning off the water to it and flushing. It's just this morning that we're a bit more certain it's not a permanent drip/leak.

There's some big machines coming down the pipeline to me in the next few weeks I think. Fully loaded X4140 and X4240 servers which I'm going to be loading up with something like eight Xen guests each. I should really review my notes on how all that stuff works...

Tonight, rather than erging (I did run 8km at lunch time, and did the route in reverse too which is probably harder) Kris and I are going to have a date. It will be a 'home date', but a date nevertheless. We've got food, drink and entertainment planned so hey, I'm off home!

[16:30] I let myself be convinced by Kris to not go and erg last night. I didn't say anything (that was part of my agreement with myself) and just waited to see if she suggested it. As she did I acquiesced to her request and installed myself on the sofa while she went to yoga. When she came back we had pork burritos which were very tasty. I have to admit, I think I was very tired. Even though we went to bed early I went out like a light and still felt very logey when we got up early again this morning. Happily I'm getting into the spirit of things now and was up and out (with help from Kris on the lunch-making front) in time to be patching the last two machines before 07:00.

As per usual for the last machines in a long sequence of tasks they were annoying and recalcitrant and required shoving to do what I wanted them to do. Still, I managed it and was across town and into work proper before 08:00. The rest of the morning and the first half of the afternoon passed in a bit of a blur due in small part to a rather fun and very simple Flash game called Civilization Wars. I don't recommend playing it if you have something to do. I had to tear myself away after ten minutes to get on with the things I get paid for.

I'll shortly be heading off to meet Kris outside of work so we can wander down to where Cormac works. We're going climbing again for the first time in what seems like years (and probably is). Just a few of us, just to see what it's like. Kris is packing snacks and things to make sure our blood sugar doesn't dip into the "snappy zone" given how late we're going to be getting home this evening. I'm really looking forward to using my arms and legs for something other than running and rowing again.

[16:35] Man, I really do seem to be much tireder than I thought I would be today. Getting up to be in work for just before 07:00 wasn't too difficult, nor was the firmware patch and reboot of the server anything other than routine (seeing as the stop and start scripts for the services on it work, for the first time ever) flawlessly. I'm doing two more machines tomorrow morning and then hopefully that's pretty much every machine in the X4x40 class we have patched for SP/BIOS/RAID. That'll be pretty awesome and save me a whole lot of trouble in the future when one of them isn't cold cycled for a few months or more.

Anyway, no, I think it was yesterday's total of 18km running at high speed along the tow path next to the boat I wasn't down to be rowing in (I wish someone'd told me that before I got up at 07:00 on a Sunday) which tired me out. 3km interval training isn't something I'm used to, even if I felt fairly OK at the end of it as I jogged back to the boat house. The Saturday morning (aside from an even earlier morning start) was great as we were out in two smaller boats and did some OK rowing. Pretty much everyone thought the crew mix would be the same the next day but it turns out that I hadn't been selected for the racing crew going to Peterborough on 6 February so the people who had been selected who hadn't been with us the day before turned up and it was assumed by all that they should go in the boat. I was very close to just packing up and going home but as I hadn't run on Friday due to popping home at lunch time to see Kris I thought maybe a run would be just the thing. It was. It was just a bit more of the thing than I thought.

Both Saturday and Sunday afternoons were very much about the relaxation, the downloaded TV and some truly scrumptious food. That's something I'm really going to miss when Kris heads back to the US for her job interview come the early to middle part of next month. I reckon I can do most of the things she's/we've concocted during her time here, but certainly not all with the same style, flair and amazing skill that she has. We've eaten so well since she became more fully part of my life. And so much healthier too. The interview is for a rather cool place in the US that I think she could do brilliant things for, at, whatever. I want her to get the job, them to offer her relocation funds and to help me get some kind of job commensurate to my skills close by so that moving there isn't a problem for me... at the same time as I want to help her work on an INF4 form and to come back to me here in the UK once she's finished her Ph.D and had it awarded. I want them both to happen, they just don't reconcile.

Obviously, when I know more you will. Right now we're still in the usual place of not being able to Plan for Stuff until we things pan out. Oh how I wish they would pan out. I mean, right now I'm all calm and OK about everything and I really do reckon that once things are set (whether that be knowing Kris is coming home to me again or that I've got to pack up a box or two, rent out the house, move to the US and start a new phase of my life) in stone for a few years I'll be able to just accept how things are and move forwards calmly, cooly and with a fair amount of excitement about what will happen next.

For right now I'm shortly going to go home, kiss my fiancee, pack for the AT erg session this evening (it's going to hurt), go to it, come home, have pork burritos and totally flake out with zero energy remaining. It's not like I slept terribly well last night or skimped on my 6km run at lunch time today. I also need to be up and out at stupid o'clock tomorrow too, remember.

[16:30] After a fairly OK evening yesterday Kris and I decided it was just easier to have an early night. This developed into a slightly late morning when we both woke up in the early hours. Neither of us are quite sure why but we're hopeful it doesn't happen again tomorrow, especially as I have an earlier rowing outing than previously thought due to there being races on the river at the time we'd normally be out. Still, that should mean that unless I go for the 90 minute cycle ride afterwards Kris and I will have even more of the day together to do Stuff and Things. Among those things are me cleaning the extractor fan in the bathroom in the hope that'll up its extraction rate, painting the bathroom walls (nope, I've still not done that), mounting the replacement toilet roll holder (nope, that neither) and painting the bathroom ceiling with some new anti-moisture paint.

Sunday should be back to normal with regard to rowing (i.e. still no sleeping in) and then we'll do something if the weather's good or stay home and do chores and things if it's like it is right now (raining and generally miserable).

The rain and general miserableness of the day (let's face it, the last few days) didn't stop me from going home at lunch time to see Kris rather than sitting in the office and eating my delicious home-made egg mayonnaise sandwich on my own. No! Instead I went home... and then ended up eating my sandwich back at my desk again anyway. Still, not a terrible problem. I do like living this close to work.

In a few minutes I'm going to be leaving to meet Kris in the cold, wet weather to head to Tesco for what is going to be a large and heavy and quite probably annoying shop. Not because of anything other than the fact that we need a whole lot of bulky and heavy things this time around. Ah well, I should go and battle through the weather so I can meet my girl and do things with her (no, shopping and stuff this time).

[17:00] A quiet day as days go. Useful considering that last night was mostly about doing good things for Kris and going rowing in the dark. It was a reasonable outing with nothing much to report other than me catching a crab about a minute before we got back to the boat house. No problem really, I didn't even remember it again until I was writing the previous sentence. So yes, looking after Kris and rowing. Cue me coming home after the latter extremely hungry. Luckily Kris was on hand to join me in making some quick and tasty dinner.

Back to today and it was one of those rare mornings when I didn't need to be work early. So Kris and I took our time over getting up (by which I mean we were up and about by 07:30). Other than that all I've really done today is learn some more about Solaris 10, read a lot about upgrades to some of the software we have here, discover the amount of gas and electricity my house consumed over the last four months and get a rather tasty burrito for lunch. I think that for today that's not too bad now I think about the last few days of stuff that's gone on.

There's a Thursday tonight, but before that I'm going to head home and take care of some important things, hopefully have a visit from an electrician to offer some advice on replacing the extractor fan in the bathroom with something a little more beefy and do the washing up.

Domesticity. You've got to love it.

Oh, Kris had an interview with another American college/university thingy today (telephone). Seemed to go moderately OK. I guess we'll see what happens there. Wedding planning still seems to be causing us some mental logjams. Hopefully as other parts of our life fall into place a bit more we'll be able to get more ideas firmed up into plans. Right now though it looks like the initial idea of something overseas probably isn't as feasible as we first thought.

[15:05] Quick entry today as I've decided to use some of my accrued time off to go home early for once. I was ina gain for 07:00 this morning patching a machine. That (and the shutdown and startup scripts) went almost flawlessly. It's just a shame the machine hadn't been rebooted in over 413 days as the fsck of the filesystems took almost fifty minutes.

Went for a run at lunchtime and combined it with my collection of some money I was owed for being on standby for an fMRI experiment. Other than that Kris and I totally blitzed most of the house yesterday (tidied) as it was getting really bad. Much better now.

Now I'm off home to look after Kris for a few hours before I go rowing in the cold and the dark. See you tomorrow.

[16:35] Hurrah for early mornings! Not really. Still, I was in before 07:00 this morning and patching another box successfully. After that it was just a case of arranging how the last few machines would go.

The rest of the morning was spent trying unsuccessfully to set up tomcat5 (RHEL-stylee) on a few of the newer web team boxes. Unfortunately this didn't go terribly well and I was laughed at (again) by my team leader who as well as being highly intelligent and knowledgable can be a wee bit annoying when it comes to showing me where my mistakes are, repeatedly. Still, sometimes I do manage to impress him.

Much of the afternoon (after I'd turned over the tomcat configuration stuff to my team leader) was spent learning how to use Dia and creating a diagram of some of the application/database infrastructure we have here. I think I've managed to make a reasonable fist of it. I've sent a copy to my line manager and am waiting for his feedback.

Last night's ergo session was really quite good to be honest. 20 x 1 minute on, 1 minute off at 80% or better of my standard 2K test wattage. I managed to do much better than 80%, then shower, then get out to have dinner with Kate all in good time. The food was nice and I managed to get home before I fell over being as I was quite shattered.

Tonight, rather than go climbing as we'd like Kris and I will be doing a whole lot of tidying and cleaning and stuff. Not totally exciting but it really, really needs doing. Then it's early bed again for the last early morning of the week when I patch one of the last database servers.

[16:30] So this weekend Kris and I were away from the house for 35 hours and traveling for at least 14 of them. Getting up at 04:00 was a seriously unpleasant thing to do but we managed it. All of the trains both to and from Manchester were perfectly on time, uncrowded and generally fine. I had plenty to read and Kris had plenty to do (with her work). The drives across the Pennines went equally well and basically all was well. Other things went well were the visit to my grandmother itself where Kris was obviously accepted as the best thing since sliced bread, Kris (with a smidgen of help from me) cooking an evening meal for my parents and ourselves once we got back to Manchester in the evening and Kris agreeing that when we got back into town that we'd walk home and spend slightly too much on take away Chinese.

We're both pretty shattered right now even after a good night's sleep. Part of that for me was because I got up at 06:00 this morning so I could get into town to do a server firmware patch on a machine I set to have its connections drained last night. That went perfectly and was over so quickly that I was able to get into work itself and after failing to solve the reason why someone's X session was crashing every time they logged into another server and ran an installer, went for a run. Happily, on the run I was able to work out what'd changed to cause the issue and solve it when I returned. 1 - 0 to me (even if it reverses the solution I came up with for stopping Firefox 3.5.x from crashing on certain pages).

The run itself was pretty tiring, probably due to me being quite tired anyway and also doing the route backwards for the first time in I don't know how long. It was lucky that I went and did it then because I then ended up spending over two hours trying to get a Dell Optiplex 745 to display 1920x1080 to a Dell 2310H monitor. I did manage it a few times but not with any kind of stability or repeatability. I've asked if the box can be replaced with a 760 which doesn't seem to have the same issues. I don't really care if it's not, but part of me thinks a piece of kit should be used to its full potential.

The rest of today I've been working out why a certain path (/var/lib/php/session/ in fact) had its ownership changed when updated RPMs were installed. I intend to leave right on time today (even though I could leave early), go home and get ready for rowing (erging) and then go out for dinner with a friend. After that all I have to do is come home, go to bed and get up for another 07:00 server update tomorrow. Hurrah!

I think that's everything.

[16:30] Quiet day which started well with some conversation with Kris before we even left the bed. Always a good thing. What was also good was the fact that as it was raining I decided to go and have lunch with people instead of going running. Admittedly I had lunch before we went to the pub as I hadn't been expecting to go, but it was still nice to see the old networks guy and shoot the breeze for a while.

I've managed to arrange for the original person who fitted the extractor fan in the bathroom to come around on Monday (which is turning out to be a very busy day for both Kris and I) to see about an upgrade which will suck more, more quickly. Awesome.

Speaking of awesome, last night's Thursday was. We all got sucked into an episode of House (autistic kid with the PSP and worms in his eyeballs) before actually not chatting through most of Gosford Park which most of us hadn't seen before and found it was really rather good.

Kris and I are off to see my grandparent (last remaining) this weekend. This means getting up at 04:00 tomorrow morning and after about five hours of train we'll then be getting in a car for a further 2 or so hours of drive to get to where my grandmother is. After we've been and visited and said hi and stuff we're then going to drive all the way back to Manchester again and stay the night. However it goes it's going to be a Long Day. We'll be heading home on the Sunday and collapsing pretty heavily once we're home. I need to remember to set one of our load balanced nodes to drain once I'm home so that I can get to work for 07:00 on Monday morning and do another one of those firmware upgrade things.

For now I'm going to go home and do a wodge of washing up before packing, eating dinner and relaxing before a very early night. Have a good weekend.

Oh, yes, before I go, I've been overdosing on Wil Wheaton's collected podcasts for Memories of the Futurecast and Radio Free Burrito these past few weeks. I have to say I feel some kind of weird kinship with his geektastic, science fiction genre-knowledgable same-age-as-me good self. Picture me shrugging one-shoulderedly now. If you're into funny, in-joking stuff about random things and Star Trek: TNG then go have a look for him.

[17:00] So I headed down to the boathouse last night with the thought that I might get to be in a boat in the freezing cold (which would have been fun, oh yes). Instead, as I'm not in the boat for the race at Wallingford this weekend I was told/got to stay at the boat house and instead do a 30 minute ergo. Apparently it was supposed to be a UT2 session. I have to admit I didn't find it too hard but it was probably harder than it should have been. That'll change as I get more into the swing of things again. At least, I hope so.

Coming home it was awesome to find that Kris was all ready to make dinner with me as I was really very, very hungry. That plus some recorded divx TV made for a nice, relaxing evening.

Today the weather's been mostly cold and wet. Wet enough that I didn't bother going out for lunch and instead stayed and tried to get some new monitors working with RHEL5. I'd ask you to take a guess which of the Dell Optiplex 620, 745 and 760 desktops I haven't been able to get working with the Dell 2310H widescreen monitors but you already know that it's the 745 with the stupid 965Q chipset which refuses to work with the 'intel' driver when it's supposed to and instead only works with the 'i810' driver, which it isn't. I have some firmware updates and a DVI breakout card which may help me to circumvent the VGA connection issue which I think is the problem.

Anyway, I should head off and do an awful lot of washing up before the standard Thursday evening socialising commences.

[17:00] Hurrah! Today I got to sleep in. Or lie in at the very least on account of waking up early after a very odd dream or two. I've been feeling a little odd emotionally these last few days. I'm hopeful/pretty sure it's just the weather and the few minor stressors I have in my life at the moment rather than anything with any substance behind it so I continue to continue and keep taking my Omega 3 capsules every morning. Kris, obviously, is wonderful and is helping keep me on something of a more even keel. Part of how she does this is with some awesome meals. I swear that woman was designed to make me look back on the batchelor life and not regret at all the leaving of it behind. Especially when it comes to companionship, food and Stuff.

Anyway, enough about that. Today has been a tidy up day from yesterday's bits and bobs. Nothing much to report other than me taking yesterday's kickstarted server into town by taxi, getting it set up, having a quick midmorning snack with Kris who was working on her dissertation in Starbucks 30 seconds away from where I was before walking back to work, and a run a lunchtime in some very, very light snow. After Monday's ergo session I really do feel like I've lost a whole lot of cardio fitness and most definitely strength. I know I'm a lot older than many of the guys I row with but I really do feel like I could be pushing a lot harder than the limit I find myself at these days. Definitely something to work on this year. When Kris goes back to the States (hopefully temporarily, but you know, I'd be OK if it wasn't (in that I'd be OK moving out there)) I may rejoin the gym I went to for three or so years to up my strength again because - damnit - I like being fit.

Speaking of which I should head home, see how Kris' massage (part of a Christmas present from me to her) went and then get ready for either a UT2 erg session or a row out in the snow and dark. Back tomorrow!

[16:55] Another early morning and another complication which nearly had me tearing my hair out. I discovered that moving an X4x40 server from SP/BIOS to something in the 3.x.x/65 series will cause the machine to brick itself after a successful SP upgrade by not upgrading the BIOS (which has to match the SP firmware). Both serial and KVM/real keyboard & monitor get no output and for all intents and purposes you have a box which will not boot and won't tell you why either. You have to ipmitool a CMOS reset from another server over the network before it'll boot the new BIOS (the old BIOS not being able to boot because of SP/BIOS version mismatch given the SP_did_update). The reason I've been doing all these updates is that the SP version I'm installing fixes a nasty bug in the SP which manifests after a few months of uptime as being unable to contact it. At that point a cold recycle of the chassis is the only solution. If you software reset the SP regularly it's fine.

Anyway, that little snafu on the one box I was doing away from the main site meant I took an extra hour over something which should have taken about 15 minutes and nearly had me calling for a failover to the standby box (which would not have been pleasant). Still, fixed it in the end and proactively used the command I'd found (ipmitool -U root -P password -H sp-IP chassis bootdev disk clear-cmos=yes) to save me a ton of issues on the two other boxes on that particular SP/BIOS firmware.

After that I still had another box to do but that one went perfectly well. Which was a relief. Since then I've been working all day on putting together a document and preparing some other machines for work later on. Last but not least I've deracked the newly built box and racked up the other one (the one that'll stay) and begun building that. The other one'll be moved to the other machine room in a day or so (by me).

Erging last night was pretty hard. I can't believe how much fitness and strength I've lost in the last few weeks. I really do need to start doing more than just running if I'm going to try to keep up with other people of my skill and power level.

[16:50] I was up and about at work in town for before 07:00 this morning. Six machines over two different sites Service Processor, BIOS and RAID firmware updated without any issues other than the DHCP server refusing to give out IP addresses to the service processors after they were power cycled. Giving them static IPs allowed me to get the work done but it was a bit annoying for a few minutes.

After doing the two in town I headed back here and got the other four done only twenty minutes over the end of my downtime window. This was because there was a box which had some kind of RAID issue over the weekend and as it was one of those annoying new DB boxes I had to spend some time getting it up and running again before returning to the other servers. It was a nice dry run for doing the same thing tomorrow morning too. Other than that I've been doing bugchasing with regard to yum and the old forcedeth issue I mentioned a while back.

The weekend was pretty fun rowing-wise. Saturday morning it was so cold that there was ice on the water (which we crunched through) and on the shafts of the blades by the time we finished. Having worn about five layers pretty much all of me was warm except my toes and fingers. Sunday was different as I didn't manage to arrive in time to get a place in the boat so I ended up being the bank party for my boat. Not too bad really, although I got pretty cold.

Kris and I spent the rest of the weekend in doors, keeping warm and generally tidying the house and cleaning up a bit. I wish I'd managed to get more reading done though. I'm off to erg this evening, having run at lunch time I'm still feeling pretty hungry, which is probably a very good thing. I do seem to be snacking a lot more these last few weeks. I really hope getting my exercise back up again will offset whatever poundage I may be putting back on by doing that. I know it's winter but still...

[17:30] Amazingly I've had all kinds of work to do. First off this morning was replacing two disks and relearning again the sequence of meta* commands required to break and clear meta devices before inserting new disks, copying over disk layouts and reattaching the new halves of mirrored slices and the like. All good stuff.

Having managed to cycle to work safely again (no mean feat having seen at least one person have their bike slide from under them this morning in the way in) I felt a little worried about going for my lunchtime run but after strapping on my most awesome (even if they give me blisters with the wrong socks) running shoes wot I bought for AR I had no problems whatsoever and even felt good enough to run the full 8km route (especially given the amount of chocolate I ate last night after dinner, a dinner I may add which I cooked pretty much all myself and was (according to semi-independent reports) "awesome"). The sky was perfectly clear and the sun almost warm, which was rather lovely really.

This afternoon I've failed to find why the service processor on a brand new X4140 is seemingly unable to get a DHCP lease (and is purportedly not even making any requests even when I can see it saying it is and it works with a static IP) and getting it set up to try the test kernel a guy at RedHat rolled for me to see if we can get to the bottom of the mysterious unhandled reversed MAC addresses on the nForce NICs... Only with the newest kernel from RHN it seems to be fixed already. I'll wait for comment from him over the weekend before going any further. I do love my automated build process though, it's really very neat and quick and does all the fiddly jobs you'd hate to have to do over and over again.

I should head off for the week now and make my slow and careful way home. There's rowing this weekend (both mornings) so I should be sure to dress as sensibly as possible (Christmas present usage alert!) and make sure I don't end up gettin frostbite.

Oh, before I go I should mention how proud I am of my parents for getting dressed up in boots and balaclavas and with rucksacks on back and Lecki sticks in had walked the two or three miles to Tesco and back in very much sub-zero temperatures to do their shopping rather than a) take the car and die, or b) order online (something Kris and I did instead of going by bike!).

I'm supposed to be in work (i.e. in front of computers and already doing stuff) at 07:00 on Monday (and the same on Tuesday morning too). This means somehow I need to remember this fact when I go to bed on Sunday evening. Here's hoping! Plus it's a series of SP/BIOS and RAID firmware updates and they always go perfectly...

[16:45] Today I had fire safety training. This was pretty dull and basically covered everything that you'd consider common sense. Still, it got me out of the office and into another room and another chair for about forty-five minutes which was nice. Unfortunately the weather was bad enough that we weren't allowed to go outside and try the extinguishers. Boo.

Last night Kris and I got to show off her newly-resized ring at Ellie's 30th birthday party at the arts cinema bar. That was pretty cool. We got there and back safely, rowing was cancelled (making sure that the evening was a bit less complicated than it would have been) and we got to have sweet and savoury crepes.

Work's been pretty dull which has been helpful as Kris and I needed to get some shopping done (online) and more importantly figure out whether we were going to be going north again to see my grandmother. To cut a long story short we're going back to Manchester next weekend to drive across the Pennines and see her. Phew.

Its been snowing on and off all day. I imagine the roads are going to be all kinds of nasty tonight so it's good that Thursday evening has been cancelled so people don't end up in bits trying to get to and from us. Speaking of which, I think I'll head home now.

[17:05] It snowed today, finally. A reasonable amount but nothing unmanagable apart from the fact that it's going to be compressed into something slippery, slidesome and generally hazardous to my health when cycling. Annoyingly I seem to have arranged to go rowing this evening at the same time as Kris and I are supposed to be at a birthday party thing. We may skip the birthday thing if the roads are really dangerous, otherwise after rowing (if it happens) we'll go into town and meet people then. I would definitely like to do the social seeing people thing, especially as Kris has her (now-resized) ring back and we want to show it off. Also: crepes.

I went running today at lunch time. Stupidly I wasn't wearing a hat or gloves (having forgotten my running ones) but even as the snow got quite thick I was still able to do the full 6km without any kind of discomfort other than one side of my face getting very cold.

OK, between starting this entry and getting to here the rowing outing has been cancelled which makes this evening a whole lot less complicated. Hurrah.

I've patched three machines today and somehow managed to tickle the same Sun X4140/4240(/X4440 only we don't have any of those) SP bug on all of them such that the SPs don't respond to network connections any more. As a result I've managed to get some scheduled downtime to upgrade the BIOS/SP to an apparently less sucky version (and I'll upgrade the RAID firmware at the same time, because that's just how I roll). That's next Tuesday morning, starting early. I'll have done a wet run (because dry means not actually doing it) on about six other machines the morning before so hopefully the law of averages won't come into effect and mean that of the total of nine machines a proportion of them don't brick themselves during the process. Here's hoping.

I should wend my careful way home now and see if I can make it in one piece.

[17:15] My grandmother fell ill today. I'm hopefully she'll feel better soon and be around long enough to see me get married later in the year. I should have been to see her a long time ago but life's been pretty complicated and not owing a car etc. has been a bit of a hurdle. Still, not really any kinds of excuses.

Work today has been dull. Not much is going on in preparation for some moderately major stuff I'll be doing first thing tomorrow morning. Nothing much more than button-pushing, but it's on some important machines and well past when they should have been attended to.

The rowing meeting last night was interesting. Hopefully I haven't branded myself as someone who's willing to be pushed down to the M3 boat and that I'm very willing to get involved in any of the training going on and the upcoming races that seem to be being planned. I'm going to leave off training tonight and allow my knee another day of opportunity to heal some more before I subject it to excessive amounts of tension and compression in a boat. If the weather does hold tomorrow night'll be the first opportunity to wear my new North Face gillet as a body warming layer in the boat. I'm not sure how keen everyone'll be on going out in the snow and potentially using the boat as an icebreaker.

Anyway, it's time to go and face the roads again this evening. I remain worried that I'm just a few inches away from the bike slipping out from under me again, but I'm taking all the precautions I can so don't worry. I'll be in bright (I hope, snow would be bothersome) and early tomorrow, so see you then.

[16:35] Belated happy New Year to everyone. Lots happened at our house; there was food, fun, family (via Skype) and a goose, cooked close to perfection by the team of two that is us. New Year and Christmas were similarly quiet and personal although we did get out and about to the shops a few times and do a bit of housework/spring cleaning here and there. Kris had to return her ring to have it resized (on account of them not resizing it in the first place when I bought it) and we bought some new crockery as an engagement present from my parents (having also two very nice crystal champagne flutes waiting for us from Kris' parents in the States). Of course I managed to come off my bike for a second time as we were going to buy the crockery on account of the roads being extremely treacherous in places. I impacted in exactly the same places on right knee and forearm so am feeling a little stiff and fragile and have opted not to run today or erg tonight. The latter's the most annoying as I haven't done anything rowing-related in weeks now. Hopefully the meeting tonight (which I'm a little worried about getting to and from in one piece, never mind home from work given the slippery road surfaces) will set my mind at ease with regard to training, racing and opportunity to win a seat in a boat here and there.

Workwise pretty much everything seemed to have survived intact. A few disks needed replacing (completed) and a few machines needed patching (in progress) but other than that the low level monitoring my team did seems to have staved off anything particularly irksome.

I guess that's it for the moment. Life continues to continue with Kris and I still not sure what the next nine to twelve months is going to bring, except maybe a wedding. Of course, as soon as we know where we're going to be living for the forseeable future, what we'll be doing for income, accommodation and things like that I'll be sure and let you know. It's all very exciting.