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December's Journal
February's Journal

[17:10] Today has been a rather useful day. After last night it really needed to be. I got back from Tesco and tried the washer. It seemed to be working OK until it just suddenly decided to trip half the electrical circuits in the house, with a load of (sacrificial) washing inside sodden with water and detergent. I managed to get the washing out, scoop out enough water to reset the breakers, and drain the drum. I then had a go at getting the washer to spin the wet washing a bit. After a few minutes of spinning (making a fair racket) things got really, really loud, so I turned it off at the wall and eventually managed to get the washing out. It was cold in places, and so hot it was steaming in others. This didn't feel right, given the washer shouldn't have been heating anything at this point. So, given the drum is hard to turn by hand, keeps tripping the breakers, and makes a worrying sound when spinning, I decided it was time to get a new one. That was what I tried to do for the first half of this morning at work. After having met the bathroom fitter again before work and talked about adding a wall-mounted heater and a shaver socket (mostly to charge my electric toothbrush) I headed into work to double check reviews of various washers, paying attention (I hope enough!) to the various programmes they have. I found someone with a Which? online account and checked the reviews of the ones I was interested in. Got to my desk and make sure the one I'd settled on was available from the place I wanted to get it from. Went to the discount site for my workplace and ordered a top-up for the 'giftcard' I used to pay for my television. The washer is £369.99, plus £20 for removal of the old washer. I found an online voucher code for £20 off (making the removal free, hurrah!). Pay £40.40 to the discount site for £370.00 (round numbers only when adding value to cards), then realise that the giftcard won't have the balance on it until Thursday morning as it was after 11:00 when the transaction went through. Discover on the store's site that the sale on the washer and the £20 voucher both expire tonight. Contact the store via the online chat and am told there's nothing to be done about that. Contact the discount site via their online chat and be told there's no way to expedite the giftcard balance top up... but that I can get a refund on that and go with "instant vouchers" which are what they say on the tin. Get refund for giftcard top up (will take three days), and attempt to get vouchers, to find they only come in minimum amounts of £25 (£25, £50, £100, £200, £1000). Order £375 of instant vouchers for £345 (still 8% discount), head over to the store's web site and order the washer.

On top of that, negotiating £1012 of the cost of my external wall insulation was a nice thing to do this afternoon. In the meantime I managed to get the initial build of two VMs done, go for a recovery run at lunch time, and even get a UPS configured and monitored by our Observium setup. I've got lots more to do tomorrow, but for the moment I'm off home so that Cormac can come by and collect the camp bed I slept on over Christmas, as well as his skiing goggles and gloves which he let me borrow last week.

[17:00] Well, I'm back from skiing and I'm not dead. Although I do have a few bruises. I was only cross country skiing (not knowing how to downhill/alpine ski), but after two days of too much snow (and the piste-bashers not clearing any langlauf routes) I was able to start getting out and racking up the kilometers/distance. Rachel, lovely person that she is, split her time between downhill skiing and cross country with me. We had a lovely chalet, shared with Andy (Andrew) and Andy (Andrea) as well as two older gentlemen (with whom we got on quite well), a host who cooked us some delicious breakfasts, afternoon teas, and dinners), and the scenery was incredible. Other than the valley getting snowed in for a day or so, my inability to stay on my feet when going around langlauf route downhill corners, and a feeling of missing out when the other three were up on the downhill routes, it was a fantastically wonderful holiday, and I might even want to go again... possibly having learned a bit of downhill skiing in a snowdome or similar beforehand.

The main reason why I might not be doing that any time soon (by which I mean the next year or three) is that this morning was the start of my shower room refurbishment, and I'm in the final stages of agreeing a start date for a company to come and apply external wall insulation to my house, at a considerable expense. Until my finances have recovered from those rather major hits I'm not sure I'm going to be doing more than some long weekends away in this country, and making my own entertainment with paper cups, sticky-back plastic and drinking straws.

Anyway, it's time to go home, go to Tesco, then test the washing machine with a sacrificial load (which I might not get back without a fight) as it may be on the way to being completely broken in a terminal way.

[15:40] Short entry as I'm away off home very shortly. Thence to the train station, to Croydon, and off cross country skiing for all of next week. But anyway, today was mildly useful in that I got three servers built, one of them twice due to 'issues', did a pretty hard interval session at lunch time which I decided to do on the track to ensure I didn't get bothered by pedestrians, and worried and stressed about my Red Hat Satellite install, which I upgraded yesterday and have since had a number of issues with. Hopefully it'll be OK for the next week and I can deal with anything that might ahve gonr wrong with it when I get back. Hopefully nothing will have.

Last night I went home via Keith's house and helped Sarah (housemate) rescue large chunks of his shed roof and then tie down the rest of the roof with boat ties so that hopefully nothing else flies off before he gets back.

I'm actually quite tired now that I think about it. I think this is the first week in a long time when I've run every day. The last time was probably when I did that 10K for ten days thing, and then started on the 15K for fifteen days (which I stopped when I started getting nose bleeds or something like that).

Anyway, that's it for the moment. I'm off, as I said. When I get back, the Monday I come back into work is the first day the bathroom fitter starts on my shower/wet room and converts it into something a little better in terms of fittings and fixtures, flooring and heating. Here's hoping. I'll give you something of a running commentary, as well as a debrief on next week as and when I have time. There might even be photos. Don't think I've forgotten about putting up photos of Kenya/Tanzania/Zanzibar. I just need a bit of time. See you soon.

[17:20] It was so windy last night and this morning that the side gate to my house managed to slip its deadbolt twice (04:30 and 05:00). I'm going to have to properly secure it while I'm away next week or it'll probably bang itself off its hinges by the time I get home. In any event, that and the wind itself contributed to me not having a great second half of the night's sleep. The wind played a factor in how tired I was after I got up at 06:00 and ran for an hour and a half around a ten-and-a-bit mile circular-ish course, too. Starting in the dark, windy morning with a headtorch on to help me see fallen branches at least made me feel worthy, if not a little bit fitter by the time I'd finished. Or maybe just tired. This is a hard week of running every week day, and every day since last Saturday, because of my taking 'time off' (read: cross country skiing almost every day for a few hours) next week. Hopefully I have the measure of it.

Other things that happened today is that I got the train times I need for tomorrow evening to get to Rachel's place while meeting a friend at St. Pancras station, getting a printable voucher for a preferential rate on the money I want to exchance at the airport, printing everyone's boarding passes, and getting three new VMs ready for Ansiblisation tomorrow so that they're usable the week I'm away, rather than only coming into being after I get back.

Now I'm heading off to help someone rescue the roof of a shed which partially blew off last night. Then I'll head home and pack, and relax with whatever remains of the evening.

[18:00] Today started very early with my next door neighbours having an argument at 04:00, which carried on until about 05:30. So that was good. Then I had an hour of people looking at my house and generating an EWI quote that's the most expensive one yet. I'm unlikely to go with them. After all of that I cycled into work, had a morning of fighting with Ansible as a whole slew of edgecases came up when I tried applying what I thought was good Ansible roles, tasks, and playbooks, to my actual servers (rather than the test VM server I got them all 'working' on). Then it was lunchtime and a track session at which I think I performed reasonably. My coach was there coaching myself and others, so it was good to get some feedback. Once I was back in the office and showered and stuff I got the rest of my Ansible stuff done and dusted, did a few things manually which also got shunted into various locations so they won't be an issue next time, and even had time to eat my lunch before 15:00.

I've had an afternoon of working through emails, and figuring out what else I need to do before the end of the week. Now it's time to go home, have a good long rest, and think about whether I do my morning run before work or cheekily extend my lunch break tomorrow (it'll be the former, I imagine).

[17:40] Today mostly consisted of fiddling with Ansible and getting old roles to do new things, then prodding people repeatedly until they gave me the information I needed (mostly to do with users, groups, UIDs, and GIDs). I honestly think I might, finally, have everything I need to run Ansible over the five new physical servers I kickstarted last week. I'm going to take another look at everything in the cold light of tomorrow morning and then unleash the playbooks and see what happens.

Before that, tomorrow, I have another company coming round to look at the house with a view to giving me a quote for external wall insulation. That's at 08:00, so the chances are I won't get into work much before 09:00. That's OK though as it was only this morning when I was needed in a bit earlier than usual in case something went wrong during some planned maintenance.

Recovery run at lunch time, which was a great way to break up the day. The sun even came out. Tomorrow is track day, which should be a bit of a lung-stretcher.

[18:20] I'm trying to remember what happened over the weekend. After Friday night with Rachel (which was wonderful, and also involved curry), we woke up horribly early so she could get to somewhere south of London to play hockey. All the trains in the direction she wanted to go were cancelled, so she ended up having to get a train somewhere else, then a coach, then the Tube. It all worked out in the end, but it wasn't the smoothest of journeys. Meanwhile I went and did parkrun, reasonably, and then got on with a weekend of tidying, washing clothes, and going to Tesco. The washing machine gave me a bucket load of grief, making rather worrying sounds during the spin cycle, and then when I tried to use it empty to see what was happening, giving a good impression of breaking utterly, when in fact it was tripping a circuit breaker in the house distribution box instead. Basically, I'm going to try it again with a proper load when I get back from skiing and not overload it and hope very hard that it finishes its cycle and gives me back my clothes not covered in bits of mechanical innards, unused washing liquid, or more water than would be the case if the spin cycle had finished successfully. Let's just say I called my parents a lot, and worried about more financial outlay on top of the shower room refurbishment and the EWI quotes I've only got a few weeks to commit to one of before they expire.

I also spent a lot of Friday evening and Saturday using the FLIR camera from my council to look at my house and others on the same road. It confirmed my understanding that my house leaks a lot of heat because it's single skin, and the houses with EWI are doing a better job of keeping their heat inside, even when they're hotter inside than mine. I definitely want to get EWI installed... it's just a case of whether and when I can afford it. On Sunday I did my long run for the week, then popped around to a friend's house to let him look at his house extension-in-progress to see where the heat leaks were. That was quite interesting. I'm afraid all other parts of the weekend were spent relaxing on the sofa and either reading or watching large amounts of The Good Place.

This morning I was incredibly tired for no sensible reason I could think of. Given I had a cheque to pay in I stayed in bed a little later, then headed out in time to get to the bank for 09:00 to do so. After that I got into work where I've spent the entire day translating a set of build instructions for servers being tasked with running Oracle into a set of Ansible tasks. Other than some rather complex bits I needed help with from better minds than mine (and still they needed to look a few things up, which made me feel better) everything went off reasonbly smoothly and I'm ready to run everything against the real servers tomorrow, I think. At one point my brain got so clathered that I needed to get out of the building and go for a run, which was good as that's what my training plan said I had to do, too. It's going to be a tough week running wise as my coach is compressing seven days into five as I won't be able to train on Saturday (travel) or Sunday (probably doing other things/unable to run on snow).

For now though I'm going to head home and do very little for the remainder of the day. Tomorrow will see a bit more Ansible configuration (mainly user creation, I think) then I'll try running my playbook against the five servers and see what happens.

[17:05] I managed to rescue a fairly unproductive day with a rapid amount of work in the last few hours before it was time to write this and go home. Over lunch I also got a lift out to collect the FLIR (forward looking infra-red) camera from my district council so I can look at my house (and other people's houses, and Rachel, and random objects) tonight and this weekend. So yes, today was dull, then useful.

Rachel arrived last night and there was much rejoicing. I certainly didn't want to come to work this morning and was in fact slightly late in the end. Not that it mattered. I left Rachel at home doing important things (in fact she got up well before me this morning to have a Skype call) and I'm just about to leave and stop her doing important (work) things and do important (not work) things with me instead.

Over the weekend we'll be apart as Rachel has to go and play hockey back in London and then see friends and things. I'll be running variously, contemplating my EWI quotes, and reading a lot, I hope. Also Tesco, of course.

[17:40] With working Kickstart configurations from yesterday it was pretty simple to go over to the other server room this morning and get the remaining two servers up and running after I'd configured their BIOSes and DRACs. Of course, nothing's 100% simple, so I had to track down someone in Networks to get the network connectivity sorted out before everything could go ahead, but that didn't take long. Over lunch I had a nice 35 minute recovery run, which wasn't quite as relaxing as had been hoping, but at least it wasn't raining. I still need to work out what new Ansible roles to apply to the - now five - new servers I've just built, but that's a project for tomorrow, I think. I also built a new VM for someone too, but all I did there was run up something from the template, increase the disk size, and then hand it over.

Rachel's soon to be on her way here, if she doesn't miss her train, and then we should have a lovely evening together, she'll work from home tomorrow (which will mean I'll be leaving work as soon as humanly possible tomorrow afternoon) and then we'll have Friday evening together, too. She can't stay for the weekend (when I have the fun of the thermal camera to play with) as she has hockey and then a friend to see, so I'm lucky to get her for two nights in the week instead. I should have been going to Croydon again, but the camera only being available over the weekend has put paid to that. I'll be there next weekend (at least for some of it) before we go skiing, so that'll be some small payback.

[18:00] A long and hard, but ultimately rewarding day all told. Most of it was spent fighting with two different configurations of Dell server such that I could get RHEL7 installed on them via Kickstart. To cut a long story short, the problems were firewall related, and BIOS/UEFI related. I've solved both of them, as well as some niggly other issues which I think were just down to finger fumbles. In between all of that I went and did my lunchtime hill sprints with lots of company, with even my coach getting in on the running action, too. It turns out he got divorced over the last few days/weeks, after only 8 weeks of marriage. We had a good mutual commiseration thing going on on the warm up and warm down runs.

Anyway, I'm off home now to relax after today's trials and tribulations, and to look forward to a nice simple recovery run tomorrow lunch time. In other news Rachel's on her way to be reunited with a bike we thought had been stolen from East Croydon train station, even though it was pretty much impossible anyone could have wanted it. The British Transport Police had spotted that it hadn't been locked and simple took it away. Rachel had had the foresight to register it so they (eventually!) got in touch, which was good. She's coming here tomorrow, too (against my wishes (sort of) as I'd promised her she wouldn't have to until March, as a break from traveling quite so much) which will be wonderful.

[18:25] I tried installing my first RHEL7 servers on physical hardware this morning. Networking has been the bane of my life as a result. Don't get me started on dracut and its blind, silent, DHCP requesting to try and continue the install process. Suffice it to say I've had to bite the bullet and get straight into Kickstart for RHEL7 a little earlier than I thought I would. It may save me tons of time in the long run, but it does feel like I've wasted most of the day otherwise. Still, I did get a good run session in at lunchtime (track, intervals), and there's every chance that I may make good progress with at least two of the servers tomorrow morning because of my staying late this evening. We'll see.

Anyway, I'm here far too late and I really should go home and forget about the day a bit.

[17:15] I'm getting better. Slowly but surely I'm coughing and blowing my nose just a little less, and feeling a smidgen stronger when I run. On Friday evening when I head to Croydon I wasn't feeling all that brilliant, but by the end of the day today I have to say I'm not feeling totally terrible. Between times Rachel and I have had a nice time together, and been reduced to watching Netflix on her mobile phone as her new laptop just refuses to work reliably on her home broadband connection. I'll be taking home her old laptop (now installed with linux) the next time I go in the hopes it'll behave better (and work better with the monitor I took there a while back, which is now married to an HDMI->VGA adapter which isn't doing the right thing either). Anyway, we spent time together keeping warm and quiet, got some logistics done for various things, ran a few times, got cold, and hot, and a little bit muddy, and then I came back to work again this morning on a tram, two trains, and a bike. All seems well, I've got a significant number of ducks lined up that I need to make a start on knocking down this week (which could see me out of the office quite a bit and in various server rooms), but for the moment I'm going to head home, go to Tesco, and then settle in for the night.

In other news, Cormac has lent me some skiing goggles and gloves, which should make my skiing experience in two weeks from now just a little bit more enjoyable, I hope.

[15:30] So, I should have been back at work on Tuesday, following a lovely bit of time off, Christmas with my family at my house, a sub-40 min run at a new year's eve 10K, and all kinds of fun with Rachel. What happened instead was a considerable amount of worry on my part about various personal things, a Christmas with my family that was absolutely lovely other than each one of us in turn being struck down by the plague that my nephew brought to the house, and then Rachel arriving and having to look after me as I succumbed to the virus just before new year's eve and into the new year. Really, it was a lovely family time, but we all could have done without feeling absolutely rotten for a part of it. I'm just incredibly glad that Rachel didn't get it from me. We seem to have parallel immune systems, which means we don't get what the other does (and can therefore look after the other person when they're ill). Rachel got to run the new year's eve 10K and come first woman in her age group and third woman over all, and I got to be very proud of her. I got to spend four or five days confined to the sofa reading lots and lots of books and being unable to control my temperature. Christmas was wonderful, when at least a few of us were capable of enjoying the festivities and the food, but with two in a row now striking down members of the family we're going to have to seriously think about what happens in 12 months time.

The plague, or whatever is was, has meant no serious running for me since the 29th of December, and I'm starting to feel a bit antsy (which is probably a sign that I'm getting well). I'm also quite paranoid that I'll have put myself back by over a week in terms of cardio and general fitness. I can't see it happening any time soon, but while I was most ill (and even now) I had the strong feeling that I really needed to get back into a gym and move some heavy weights around for a few months. Squeezing that into my life at the moment might prove to be a little difficult, though.

Anyway, one of the upshots of the festive period was me making proper plans to head to see Rachel on weekends for a couple of months, to give her a long-overdue break from traveling (to see me). Although there'll be some breaks for holidays, or me getting a thermal camera to look at the house one weekend, or her wanting to see other people, there's a good chance she won't get to come here until the beginning of March, which I think is pretty cool and well past time. This means I'm off to see her this evening, cough and all.

And finally, as a result of being off work for the first three days of the year all of the panics and issues and things seem to have been mostly sorted and I've just slotted back into the flow of things without much of a ripple. There'll be some actual physical servers to configure early next week, I'd imagine. But nothing too problematic to deal with.