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November's Journal
January's Journal

[17:00] Today I helped clear someone's desk. They left yesterday. Today we took everything off it and put it in the store room. In a few months time (tomorrow's Visa interview willing) someone may be doing the same thing to my desk. I'd like to think I'll leave my desk a) cleaner and b) tidier. I think we ended up binning the keyboard and having to get some wetwipes for the desk surface. Anyway, it looks all clean and ready for the next person who, I imagine won't arrive before I leave given the hiring freeze I think we have on at the moment. Anyway, it made me tidy my desk up a bit considering this is my last day at work in 2011.

As such I did a last few bits of patching, sorted some users' problems out, went for a run and generally tried not to do anything which wouldn't be finishable. And now I'm done. Have an enjoyable festive break, enjoy doing things which aren't work and I'll see you in the new year, if not perhaps a few days beforehand.

[17:00] Gym last night, coupled with tidying the house a bit, washing up, helping Kris with the washing/washer-which-ate-her-bra and then doing sterling duty as a hot water bottle somehow contrived to make me feel extra tired when I awoke this morning. Despite sleeping pretty heavily I had a really hard time getting out of bed. Of course, Kris being in the bed is always a sign that leaving it is going to be problematic/difficult. Morning exercises helped but they're no substitute for a wonderful wife.

Today I've been mostly working on small things, dealing with alarm engineers over at the other server room, doing some patching and a fair bit of printing out of stuff. I think it's all gone pretty well, considering. I'll have to make with the scissors and pen tonight to make sure everything is identifiable for when I need to refer to it.

Oh, and I've managed to sell the last bit of electrical equipment that I'm not taking to the US: my DD/dts amp, speakers and subwoofer. Quality components I spent a long time thinking about before I bought them. I powered everything up again last night for the first time in a while. Dusted everything off and gave it one last time to shine. It did, so very well. I will miss it and the black sentinels in each corner of the lounge and on top of the television. But I know they're going to a better place, where they'll be used much more and give someone happiness as they gave it to me. And one day I will buy their descendants for approximately the same amount of money relatively speaking commensurate with inflation, etc., etc. And it will be good.

So now I'm off to the library to help Kris get some books out and then home to put the above in its boxes for the last time so it can be collected tomorrow.

[17:00] Whee! So this weekend Kris and I went to Paris. Which was totally wonderful. Although here and there we did end up taking the Metro a few times I'm pretty sure we walked at least 10-15 miles over the course of the weekend. Ostensibly we were there to see a Chinese art exhibition at the Louvre (and I guess one at the Guimet) but that didn't stop us seeing the sights, the Christmas markets and having some truly stunning food while we were there. I would particularly like to recommend La Mosquee de Paris for dinner. Despite not having a reservation we turned up and got a table straight away. My tagine was amazingly, as was the sweet tea and the pastries we chose for dessert. Sure we got a little bit lost a few times walking around but everything was great, the hotel room was everything we needed it to be and nothing more (the very epitome of "compact and bijou") and the transport, other than 40 minutes waiting on a problem in the Chunnel was without issue. We even got a train back from London to home by jogging a little between stations and in the end were probably home round about the time we expected. All in all a wonderful trip. The weather was even great for the majority of the time, too!

Back at work there's still a bit of a lull going on in terms of things to do. I pretty much have everything up to date patch-wise except for three machines (and the six I haven't been allowed to patch at all recently) and even the Big Brother monitoring system has been completely green a few times in the last week. It's really dead here.

I met Kris in town for lunch today so that we could go and get some financial advice on what to do with the money from my house sale while I'm out of the country and for once had a useful meeting with someone. I'd like to think I understood more than one word in five, but we'll have to see what talking everything over with Kris this evening reveals. She's very smart when it comes to money and investments. I... am not so smart.

Finally, Kris tried to get some photos of the wedding printed so that I had something to show the Visa interview person at the US Embassy on Thursday morning. Unfortunately, Boots decided that they were going to defend the copyright of our wedding photographer, despite him having given us the photos outright as a wedding present. So we're looking into other avenues/routes to get something sorted out.

Gym time for me and then home to see the wife, do the washing up and watch the season finale of Homeland. I'm really curious to see if they're going to do a second season, or not.

[12:30] Half day today as it's the work Christmas lunch. I'll be ducking out afterwards to get home to Kris as we're doing something fun this weekend. I will fill you in on that on Monday. Otherwise, it was snowing when I got up this morning. Cycling into work wasn't particularly hard, but it wasn't altogether pleasant either.

That's about it, really. Did a bit of work, did a bit of research, did a bit of printing. Now all I have to do is survive lunch and get home in time in one piece.

[17:00] Kris is here! Kris is here! She arrived early this morning and was already showered and asleep by the time I got home at lunch time. Poor thing was absolutely shattered from the journey. Given I'd only cycled about 3K or so to her 6,751K I let her off barely opening her eyes when I found her in bed wrapped in duvet and blanket.

I'm heading home now as we've Skyped since and she seems fortified with chocolate-infused shortbread and tea. We might even make it to 20:00 before the tension goes from her spring again and needs another wind.

Tomorrow is sort of a half day as it's the work Christmas meal thing. Which is good as I need to skate out early as fun things are planned for Kris and I!

[17:00] Gym last night was good, as was today's lunchtime 6K run. I'd like to think I'm getting back into the swing of things fitness and energy-wise. It's a shame I won't be doing parkrun this weekend as I'd like to think perhaps it would be the event I'd break 19 minutes (i.e. 18:55 or something) for the 5K distance. Ah well, I'll have to wait until the weekend after, at another venue (which sorta doesn't count in my mind), to find out. Not many parkruns left in total actually until I leave the country. I'd like to try and start it up in the US when I get there, but the chances seem slim at the moment. I think once I am settled in I might see what's possible.

Work is quiet again today, which has been fairly frustrating. I did manage to get our monitoring system to go completely green for the first time in months due to the judicious use of some edits to disk capacity checks. Which was nice. Otherwise I've been digging back into documentation for Puppet, etc. Which is really interesting. However now, I'm heading home to relax, watch a film and make sure the house is clean and tidy for Kris arriving tomorrow morning! Of course I'll be at work all day, but you can bet your bottom dollar I'll be out of here as soon as I can tomorrow.

[16:30] It's mildly perturbing that neither Kris nor I know where some little important things are post-shipping of all of our stuff to the States. There's an excellent chance she'll find them this evening (her time) when she goes home, but if she doesn't I'm not entirely sure where they are except that I know that they're not here in England. I'm sure we'll track them down eventually.

Its been a quiet day here otherwise. Not much happening at my end of things so I've been catching up on a tiny bit of patching, reading a lot about RHEL6 updates and answering questions on IRC channels to do with RHEL and bash. Of course in both cases I don't always get the right answer or the right answer the fastest, but it's good practice and keeps my knowledge from getting dusty. I'm a bit behind on my Puppet/Augeas study. Truth be told they've both stalled since I was in early last week doing updates. I should try and get them going again, probably starting tomorrow.

Gym tonight, then shower, food, some TV, and then a Skype with Kris before bed and sleep. Kris leaves for here tomorrow afternoon so this is kind of our last online conversation until she leaves again in January.

[17:35] Sorry, wasn't here on Friday. Very much doctor territory. Still, all is well now. Mostly. It was probably a bad idea to go running (parkrun, usual long run) over the weekend but I still did pretty well, even if it left me on the sofa for the rest of each day. I just couldn't spend a full day inside the house without going mad.

Kris and I figured out what to spend our Christmas present money on from her parents. A GPS for the car we don't own yet. Which is sort of silly, except that this is one of the things we found we could get from an online shop which also will give us a mass of airmiles to ensure that when Kris comes to take me over to America she's got Elite Premier Business Bonus Cowabunga status and we can take more bags. So, two birds with one stone, sort of, I guess. I mean, we probably could have gotten it somewhere else, cheaper, but the airmiles thing is totally worth it.

I've started to bone up on the types of questions I might get asked at the visa interview. I don't know if it's just me (probably) but I don't know the answers to a lot of those questions. Probably because I don't find them important. Kris is who and what is important to me. Not any of that other stuff. Still, needs must.

Ran at lunch today, otherwise did research on stuff. And things. No gym tonight. I'll go Tuesday and possibly Thursday. Although Kris will be home so perhaps not.

[13:25] Came in early this morning feeling pretty terrible. Achy and generally "below par". Still, only doing some upgrades, what could go wrong. What went wrong was a RHEL6.1 box summarily killing its two RHEL6.1 KVM guests when updating to RHEL6.2. Compounding this problem was that both guests were at the time also updating to RHEL6.2. After the update of the host the guests wouldn't boot again either. To cut a long story short this turned out to be because of a) a graphics/video section missing from the .xml files, a now potentially-obsolete set of references to PCI IDs and an incompletely installed new kernel. Once I'd fixed all of that the guests booted and I could breathe again and get on with updating the load balancer software from Zeus Traffic Manager 7.4 to Riverbed Stingray Traffic Manager 8.0. That, thankfully, went off without a hitch, which was nice. A patch and reboot of one of the load balancer servers before the update was just a bonus. At the end of the downtime window everything was back up and running and patched and working and stuff. Which is all that matters to the end users, really.

In retrospect I probably could have done the updates in a more sensible way, but the testing I'd done on a similar setup the day before hadn't highlighted any problems with my method, plus my head feels like it's stuffed with cotton wool today. I've lost track of the number of typos I've had to correct while writing this entry.

Thank heavens for getting in early meaning I can leave early and go home and collapse on the sofa rather than worrying about being ill in charge of root.

[16:50] Preparations for tomorrow's upgrades today. Also helping out with someone's RHEL6 keyring snafu, some prodding at tomcat processes which had decided to eat everything they could find and changing monitoring for some Oracle databases. Other than that and swapping in a new PSU for the one which my team leader made release it's magic light and smoke yesterday, and a 6K run at lunchtime its been pretty quiet today. Which is good as I'm not feeling 100%, really.

Oh, and my coworker's wife gave birth yesterday, so he won't be in for a while either. Which shouldn't really be an issue as things are pretty slow at the moment being this close to Christmas.

See you tomorrow morning, bright and early. Or at least early. I'm off home to talk to Kris on Skype. I miss her.

[17:00] I've begun rolling out a few updates to selected machines today to see if they do anything odd. If not I'll be able to push them out to everything else either tomorrow or Thursday morning. Thursday morning is also the day I am due to roll out RHEL6.1->6.2 updates to my live RHEL6 servers and do the big ZXTM->Stingray change on the load balancers (Riverbed bought Zeus a few months ago and rebranded everything). Quite a busy morning, I expect! I don't think anything big can go wrong though. Well, actually lots could, but it won't; I have belief.

I didn't go to the gym last night. I just didn't have the energy for it. So I'm going tonight instead. I think this week I'll alternate days for running and gym and see if that helps. I wonder if it's the dark mornings and evenings or just that I'm getting old and weak. Probably the latter.

We've had a resolution of the database issues we were having yesterday (high I/O wait and load). Turned out to be queries on LONGTEXT/LONGBLOB fields where the tables containing them were huge. Also we had a PSU go in a server, my team leader replug the power cable for it and blow the fuse on one of the PDUs for the rack. Luckily all the servers were balanced across two PDUs, but the rack switch wasn't, so connectivity was lost until the fuse was reset. At the time I was already logging the failure with Oracle. I don't think I would have tried replugging the power cable, but I'm glad it wasn't me who did. Apparently there was a flash and a bang.

I think that's it for now. Gym time!

[16:35] I didn't feel particularly fit this Saturday morning when I arrived for parkrun and this was reflected in my time. Admittedly it's one I would have been happy with a few weeks ago, but not more recently. Hopefully this week's exercise will get me back in the groove to make an attempt on the nineteen minute barrier before Christmas. I realise now that I only have one or two more parkruns before Christmas itself given the places Kris and I will be on weekends. Anyway, after that was Tesco, blah blah blah.

I've found myself at something of a loose end on weekend afternoons these days with Kris not here and the nights closing in rather rapidly. Still, I figure that having some actual "down time" is probably a good idea given how much else is going on. This is why after parkrun on a Saturday and a good long run (with added jogging up and down the river coaching boats from my old boat club if they're around) on a Sunday I tend to relax on the sofa for the rest of the weekend. Which is why there's not really anything else to tell you.

Other than the fact that I'm really trying to sell my DD/dts amp, speakers, sub, stands and a sizeable amount of speaker cable (and failing utterly) everything else seems to be pretty much OK. I'll head off shortly, go to the gym and then home to relax. In fact, I may just go home as I don't know if I feel like going to the gym today.

[16:15] I think the impassioned argument I just had about getting someone to try another operating system was completely fueled by the three (or four, I lost count) doughnuts and the Galaxy cake bar I've had since lunch. Winding my neck in took about five minutes. I'm glad that's over. I should celebrate with another cake bar before I head off to the gym.

Otherwise today I have been auditioning updated packages for various parts of the RHEL operating systems I administer here, reading and responding to email, going for a 6K run in the cold/perfect running weather and doing the various small bits of sysadmin administravia that I am wont to do of a day in the office.

Gym tonight, as I said, I'm doing parkrun tomorrow morning (not expecting anything out of the ordinary/a personal best given the week and a bit I had off and how much I felt I went backwards when I started running again this week), chatting to Kris at some point on Saturday afternoon, then probably doing a long, gentle run on Sunday if the weather plays nice. Then it's Monday again. Not the best thing to ever happen, but apparently as inexorable as the turning of the tides.

[15:05] Yes I know it's December. Look, I'm not responsible. It wasn't supposed to be the end of the year for at least another six months. I mean... we've only just got into 2011 and I've only just got used to writing 2011 on things.

Anyway, it turns out there's nothing we can do about it so we should just go ahead and embrace it. Which is what I did this morning by getting up while it was still completely dark and coming into work (via the other server room) to patch and reboot two machines. That all seemed to go flawlessly, which was a nice way to start a cold and dark day. I then got to buy an egg and bacon submarine roll for elevenses before heading out for lunch with Caroline in town. That went nicely too, so I'm back in the office for barely any time at all before I head home.

Add in a quick call from Kris when she got up this morning and if I make it home alive it should turn out to be a pretty great day. Although I do have to make some kind of decision about dinner this evening now that pretty much all of the Thanksgiving leftovers (bar some sprouts) have gone. Probably soup.