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[13:30] My cold isn't too bad today, but I was coughing for a long time in bed last night before I was able to stop and get to sleep. As soon as I woke in the morning I started coughing again. As a result I'm going home shortly to try and get a bit more rest. I got up slowly this morning so I could cycle to work via my new surgery, where I had to fill out about half a dozen forms with the same information, as well as calling my old surgery to get my NHS number. All that done I now have an initial health check appointment on Friday the 13th (auspicious). At work, luckily, nothing much new has happened, so I've been able to cough and sneeze in my own time, rather than fitting it around other things. As it is so quiet I think I'm fairly safe in going home and forgetting about work until Monday.

Over the weekend I'm going to be doing a short interval run on the Saturday, and then running a marathon distance around the boundary of the city on Sunday with Rachel. Hopefully that'll give me a bit more confidence in my ability to run the distance. Not that we'll be going all that fast relatively speaking. Plenty of relaxation outside of those activities though, with Rachel arriving in the early evening of Saturday after hockey and other things in Croydon. Hopefully today she's in the midst of, or has finished, having her boiler fixed so she has heating as well as hot water (which didn't stop working).

[17:10] I managed to get to sleep last night despite my back/shoulder still being quite uncomfortable. I hadn't planned my evening meal properly (still frozen) so I had to go with a backup meal. Everything was OK, but I'm going to need to restock emergency rations again some time soon. Having a call with Rachel from bed just before I went to sleep probably went some way towards relaxing me a little, too.

When I woke (before my alarm, disappointingly) my back still hurt somewhat, but a little less than yesterday. I got up and out just after the snow started, which made the cycle in a little grim. Happily there wasn't much wind, so it wasn't too bad, although very cold and wet as the flakes were large and partially melted. The morning's patching went fairly well, but was a bit haphazard unfortunately. Still, it all ended up going according to plan, and there was a DBA on hand to check that everything was running as intended afterwards. This morning actually concluded the patching for this quarter, which is great. I'm not looking forward to doing it all again in a month or so's time, though. After recovering from the early start I watched the snow out of the window from the corner of my eye as I carried on with things, thinking about whether my cold, my tiredness, and the weather would preclude me from doing my lunchtime track intervals run. In the end I forced myself out and found that the weather wasn't too bad (a bit windy now and then), and I managed about five of the eight 800m reps in the times I was supposed to do them in. The last two or three were a little slower than I would have liked, but I think allowances can be made. I spent a little too long in the nice hot shower afterwards, but I think I earned it. And then it was this afternoon, when I've mainly been amazed to find I had time to do some technical reading for the first time in months, and even open a new savings account, which'll be taking all of the money (and a bit more so) that accounts for my pay rise.

I should really have left early to go and register with my new surgery, but I think I'll do it before work tomorrow instead. Now though I'm going to go home 'early' and relax for the evening. Sadly, no Rachel tonight or working from home tomorrow as she's got stuff happening elsewhere. Still, it does mean I can get the house cleaned up a bit before she does arrive on Saturday. I miss her, though.

[17:15] When I left work last night I found that my rear tyre had a puncture. I called Cormac but got no reply, but eventually got through to Chris (my team leader) who agreed to give me and my bike a lift home. Sadly, his wife had had a bit of a bad day, so giving me a lift would have caused a lot of marital strife for a variety of time-related reasons, so I let him off the hook. Someone reminded me there were some bike tools in the building, so I brought the bike inside to work on repairing the puncture. There wasn't much in the way of good-quality patches and vulcanising solution left, so I did my best. After I'd washed my hands I came out of the workshop to find water pouring from the ceiling. After calling security I found a few containers to go under the downpour and cycled gingerly home. The repair lasted until I was about a mile from home, so I had to push the bike the rest of the way, going via Tesco for some food I forgot to buy the day before. Once I was home I replaced the inner tube with a previously-repaired spare, had some dinner and then tried to keep warm on the sofa (despite the heating being on). I think it's my cold that caused me not to feel warm.

When I woke up this morning I found I'd somehow pulled a muscle in my upper spine/right shoulder blade area. It has been extremely uncomfortable and downright painful for most of the day, even now. I took two ibuprofen this morning, but they've obviously worn off by now. I can only imagine I slept badly last night as I don't remember doing anything herculean with the bike. And it certainly didn't hurt when I went to bed. We'll have to see how this evening and tonight goes in that regard.

Tomorrow morning we've got a weather warning for snow, and I need to be in work early for patching, so that could be interesting. Chances are there won't be all that much and it'll simply manifest as wet roads, which I can deal with. If we get a real dump I have a mountain bike with knobbly tyres which'll do the job of getting me to work, but my track session at lunch time is going to be a bit grim. We'll see. For now though, I'm off home. Tomorrow I may register with a new doctor on the way home as (unless I already mentioned it) I've been told by my current practice that I live too far away from it to remain registered. This is annoying.

[17:55] Well, here I am, back again. I'm almost pleased to be back at work... because for the first time in over seven years (probably a many more) I've comeb back to find that I've had a pay rise! My team leader - bless his heart - has been working hard to secure me a bit more money, and it has finally arrived (or will, when this month's pay lands on the 29th (which is odd, because I thought we got paid on the 26th (or the closest weekday before if that's a weekend day)))). Anyway, money, which is helpful for all kinds of things. But on the down side of today, I had to get in early to do patching, straight off the back of being on holiday and traveling back from the continent yesterday. Still, it all seemed to go off without a hitch, which was deeply helpful.

So, the holiday! It started closer to home, when Rachel and I met up in Doncaster after traveling there separately on a Thursday afternoon. We got a bus to Rachel's parents' house where we stayed for the night, with Rachel working from home on the Friday morning while I bummed around and relaxed (as well as going for a run). In the evening we took trains to Glasgow and walked to our AirBnB place, which was just up the road (literally, up a hill) from Glasgow Queen Street. We'd planned on getting up early on the Saturday morning to go for a run on the West Highland Way, but the weather was awful, so we didn't. In the aftenoon we did go to watch some indoor athletics, which was great. We even got to see a world record being set, and another almost being broken. On the Sunday morning we did go for a run, but simply on some cycle paths heading out, and then back in to, Glasgow. I was in trail shoes, which meant my body wasn't entirely happy with the hard going underfoot, but never mind. After getting back from the run we dashed around getting packed and then headed home on the trains to our own domiciles. Monday I spent at home packing, running, and relaxing. Tuesday was travel day! We met up at St. Pancras and got a succession of trains through France, Belgium, France again, Germany, and finally Austria. We arrived in Jenbach, where we were collected by someone from our hotel, after about fifteen hours of travel. The hotel was amazing, and even left us some cold buffet to have as we'd arrived after dinner was over. For the next three days we cross-country skiied, wandered around Pertisau, and sampled the hotel's food, drink, and spa facilities. The cross-country days were a mix of me falling down a lot on the same square patch of bottom, naked terror as I flew down a steep bit of track and wondered if my skis were going to come out of the grooves, and excellent exercise with amazing views as we treked around the valleys of the Tyrol. Definitely repeateable! On the last day we went up in the cable car, did some walking in the snow, tobogganed down a 4.5km run(!), and even went running in shorts and running vests given how warm the weather had become. It snowed once while we were there, and then was either totally overcast or was clear blue skies. We had a really good time, and I managed not to be down for almost all of it, which was great. On the way back we broke our journey in Paris for the night, and then were back in London around midday yesterday. Rachel (amazingly) went into work, and I went home to collapse and unpack. All was well at home, although I've had a letter from my doctor's surgery telling me I have to move to another practice as I've moved out of their 'catchment area'. This is disappointing. Anyway, I went to Tesco, put away most things, and then settled in for the night. I hadn't changed the time back on my phone so ended up going to bed an hour earlier than expected. That was no bad thing though as I was tired, and I needed to be up early this morning for work. I didn't sleep especially well, probably due to suffering from a light cold, as well as not having Rachel there for the first time in over a week.

And then it was this morning. I was up and around fairly rapidly, despite lying awake/dozing badly from about 05:00. At work everything went as I said, and then I was able to catch up with email, and get on with fixing all the things that'd broken whilest I was away. Not all that much, as it turned out, but some. I ran at lunch time and could tell that my cold, tiredness, or lack of specific running training was affecting me as I was shattered afterwards. It doesn't bode well for the marathon in just a month and a bit from now. We'll just have to see how it goes. Tomorrow's going to be interesting as I've got four new PCs to prepare for the DBAs, a meeting with the new team member who I'm going to be 'mentoring' to some degree, and all the other stuff that usually crops up unexpectedly here.

[17:00] Another useful day, without doing anything too rash the day before a holiday. I got in at a sensible time, then forced myself to go straight over to the remote server room and - amazingly quickly - got four physical servers' operating systems installed. I came back, did the NIC teaming, and got the iSCSI stuff set up all well before lunch time. That left me quite a while to get some other useful things done. Despite being peppered with annoying phone calls from users I still managed to get even more useful stuff done, patched and rebooted the Satellite server (potentially a bad idea), and even handed over a server I'd just installed to one of the other sysadmins to check to see if his SAN scripts work under iSCSI as well as fibre channel. The afternoon has mainly been about tidying small things where I can, without messing anything up as much as possible. I'm determined to get out of here at 17:01.

I'm now off home, from where tomorrow I'll head to Rachel's parents after a run in the morning, then over the weekend we'll be in Glasgow watching some indoor athletics, running in what could be horrendous weather on the West Highland Way (a simple out-and-back for three hours from Milngavie), and then be home again on Sunday evening. Monday's a speed session on the path by the river, then Tuesday Rachel and I meet at St. Pancras International to get various trains to Austria for a few days of cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, saunas, food, and relaxation. Then home via various other trains, a night in Paris, and the Eurostar again on the Monday 24th. Tuesday 25th I'm back in the office for an early start and patching, again. Nearly done though.

First though, a much-needed holiday.

[17:50] For such a poor start (I had a terrible night's sleep), I've had a fairly amazing day in terms of achievement. I got to work nice and early and every single one of the servers (physical, virtual) patched and installed their firmwares without issue (other than a known issue that I was ready for). Then all the services on them came back up without a hitch (as far as I know given that two sets of servers were running live/production services, so I left them to the people running them so as to ensure everything went as it should), then I got on with a load of other useful stuff until I was sure everything was going well, then I learned more about iSCSI than I thought possible, and even solved a problem with my particular setup which wasn't mentioned in the (very helpful!) documentation I found, and was able to replicate it to two more servers (and will hopefully replicate it to four more tomorrow), then I wrote a document about everything I'd done with iSCSI so I remember it when I come back from vacation (and everyone else knows about it too), then I had a productive meeting with my team leader, then I went for a track session run at lunch time and even with high winds managed to do fairly OK at keeping to my times (hint: I didn't hit them, but I'd have to have been Superman to do so), then I had an afternoon of building VMs, replying to email, and printing out important things for Rachel and my trip to Glasgow this weekend. Frankly, there's not much more I could have done with today.

So I'm going home. Tomorrow I'll be out of the office for at least the whole morning getting four servers installed. Then I'll come back and do the iSCSI and other stuff configuration from the comfort of my desk. And then I'll go home and won't be back in the office until the 25th. I definitely need this break.

[18:05] Busy weekend, and a busy day, and it's not even Tuesday, which is going to be really busy. So, the weekend... Rachel was around for much of it, when she wasn't back in Croydon playing hockey. There was running both days, although the Sunday run was adjusted as the storm winds meant that I couldn't do quite what I wanted to in terms of intervals. We'll have to see how things go tomorrow on the track if the weather's still bad. Otherwise we had plenty of time together, Rachel did a wonderful amount of cooking and baking, and we watched a bit of television, too.

This morning she headed back on the train again to London and I got on with getting into work and then heading over to one of the server rooms to get four servers installed with operating systems. I nearly had a showstopping issue with network cards before I vaguely remembered something about an issue I'd had previously. The solution was to simply unplug all of the DAC cables that I wasn't using for the install. I'm very glad I remembered! One server though refused to install because its network interfaces were configured differently. It's a low-to-no priority server though, so I'll get around to it another time. Once the other three were installed and I'd cycled back in the rain to my desk (I picked the one time to go over to the server room without my waterproof, so got a bit damp on the way back) I got on with configuring them for use. These are my first dual-connected, multipath-via-iSCSI servers, so I'm feeling my way somewhat. However, I have some documentation which is sort of applicable, so I'm hoping to make more progress before the end of tomorrow.

For now though it's late, I'm going home, and I'll see you very early tomorrow morning for lots of patching of various servers.

[14:10] Rachel arrived last night, earlier than usual, so there was a modicum more rejoicing than usual. We both got a bit peeved by a few things, but settled down again fairly quickly, and enjoyed a slightly longer evening together than we usually get during the week, which was great. What wasn't great was another poor night's sleep for me. Not as terrible as the last few nights, but still not great. I had an aching jaw when I got up in the night, and then for good this morning.

Happily though the cycle to work and the morning's patching went perfectly. That meant I was able to head over to a server room to configure a few more servers' lights out management stuff. That, and the fact that Networks have configured all the ports I need now, means that next week, if I have time, I can start installing operating systems on some of the 8-9 servers I have waiting for me. I'm not sure I'll have time to do them all before I go on holiday, but maybe I can get a few done. Otherwise, I've not done too much else today as I've been trying to ensure I get to go home early after all the extended working days I've done this week. I appear to have succeeded, other than attending a rather frustrating meeting which thankfully ended after an hour. I've had my lunch, had a quick shower as I didn't have time for one at home this morning, and now I'm going home to read on the sofa while Rachel works.

This weekend there'll be two runs, food shopping while Rachel's back in London playing hockey and... whatever else we decide to do.

[17:05] A proper early morning again today. Luckily the last one this week as I had a rotten night's sleep after 04:00. I alternated between being awake and being half-dozed in a way which didn't really leave me feeling any more rested. Still, I managed to get out of bed at 06:30, strip the bedding, get dressed, breakfast, make lunch, and be out of the house by 06:50. That meant I was in work in good time and had a pretty much flawless patching cycle. Which was nice. That left me with a morning to catch up on other things rather than concerning myself with cleaning up after anything which might have otherwise gone wrong.

I ran at lunch time. It was supposed to be a track session, but when I got there there were some people in track suits which said EA Sports on the back, and they were using the full width of the finish straight, so I had to go to the tarmac foot path next to the track and run my 800m sprintervals there instead. I don't know if I got the distance exactly right, but it's possible I was running further than that. That's what I'm choosing to believe in the hopes that'll mean my intervals which were slower than 2:58 were in fact not slower than 2:58 after all. Back in the office a whole slew of actual proper work came in, so I ate lunch around doing some of that. Just as I was about to leave early, something came in which I had to at least make a start on, so I've ended up still being here gone 17:00. I'll make it up to myself tomorrow by leaving soon after lunch, I think. That has the added advantage of my getting to spend more time with Rachel, who's arriving tonight and working from home tomorrow. I will have to not bother her while she works, but I think I can manage that. Although I will be on drink-making duty for her, I hope.

So, one more semi-early morning tomorrow to patch some more servers, and then a morning of building VMs, I think. Then home just after lunch time. Unless I go to a server room and set up some lights out management cards for some servers which just got racked up this afternoon. I might do that. But anyway, home now to get the house ready for Rachel, and a relaxing evening together, if her train journey is unproblematic.

[17:35] In semi-early this morning, necessitating a semi-early rise. Everything went off as it was supposed to, thankfully. Over the course of the morning I then had to deal with some of the software restart fallout from that. I did managed to schedule a few more patch/reboot dates for some more servers, and even got a few more done over lunchtime and this afternoon today. While I was able to ascertain that a pair of servers weren't doing anywhere near as much as they used to, and could therefore be rebooted during the day, the one which I'd converted to a VM, and which therefore should have rebooted the quickest out of the two turned out to want to fsck its rather large filesystem, and consequently still hasn't come back even though I started its reboot about three hours ago. I've decided to stay in the office until it's done. Hopefully within the next half an hour or so.

I'm in properly early again tomorrow morning. Hopefully the servers being dealt with will all behave nicely and I'll be able to have a relaxing morning so as to be able to give a bit more to my track session at lunch time, not to mention going home early so that I can go to Tesco for dinner and then get the house in order for Rachel's arrival in the evening.

[18:00] Early start this morning. The first of four (although only this morning and Thursday morning are truly early). The patching went pretty smoothly, if I'm honest. Everything happened as it was supposed to, apart from a few things due to DBA ineptitude which I had to fix. After that though, although I didn't realise for a few hours, something was epically broken and it wasn't until I'd done a lot of troubleshooting and been down a few blind alleys that the DBA responsible for the issue worked out what was wrong and fixed things on his end. We have a much more resilient solution in place now, but it's still a bit poor that we didn't check out what he'd done sooner to see if it was a working change he'd made. After that I had about a third of the morning left to do lots and lots of other things, which meant that I didn't get out for my run until around 13:00. A fifty minute run meant that I had to go straight from a rapid shower into a 14:00 meeting (which I was a few minutes late for) without having my lunch. This made the next hour a bit frustrating as I really wanted to eat (and not be in the meeting). Once I escaped, it was an afternoon of trying to get fiddly things to work, and preparing for tomorrow morning's patching, which I hope will go at least as well as this morning. It's all one service, and none of it is proper live stuff, but I won't tempt fate by saying it'll be fine. For now though I'm off home to eat a sensible dinner and then try not to pig out on unsensible things like Christmas cake.

[17:30] I spent the weekend at Rachel's where a good time was had by all, I think. Saturday morning I ran to, around (in the mud) and back from parkrun, Rachel marshaled and then went to play hockey. In the afternoon there was relaxation. Sunday morning we went our separate ways to do long runs. Mine was around Croydon, Rachel's went into central London where she then took a train home again so she could collect her bike from the train station. In the afternoon we did a bit of logistics for our holiday, and did more relaxing. It's very important, this relaxing. When you're running as much as we are, you have to take downtime seriously. Both of us are still suffering from the tail ends of our colds so I don't think either of us were at our best. I certainly didn't feel like I was.

Rachel packed me off with a mega-lunch this morning. My train home was fine, as was the cycle into work from the station. At work, the most important things I did today were to go across to one of the server rooms and get four servers wired up for Network, ILOM, and iSCSI connectivity, as well as configure their BIOSes. Now I have to wait for Networks to put all the ports on the right VLANs for me. That could take a few days. I may have to nudge someone. The other useful thing I did was to get a load more servers scheduled for patching and rebooting. The downside of that is that I'm now in early or very early every remaining day this week. Although it does mean I can leave early every day because of that. I might even get to go home in daylight.

I'm running tomorrow lunch time, so I very much hope tomorrow's patching goes without any major issues. For now though I'm off home to do grocery shopping for the week and have a relaxing evening, hopefully.