|Tuesday 31st August 2004
|Weather - dark now, but mostly sunny afternoon
This will be the final entry for August 2004. It will be really hard work after too many pints in The Herne. The concentration needed to write this is doing my brain in, but it has to be done.
As you will probably guess I have had a pleasant afternoon drinking in The Herne. It was very nice to to see Max. She is looking great after a fortnight in the the sun, but it was also very nice to see Ruth. Ruth had been spending the day at Bexhill-On-Sea, but somehow found the energy to spend a couple of hours in the pub with myself, Iain and Howard.
When Iain dropped me off home I was ravenous having only eaten one Tesco pre-packed sandwich this morning. Tonight I had two cold sausage rolls while cooking my main meal of kidneys with some assorted vegetables. Also in the mixture was a can of minestrone soup labelled best before Jan 2002. I guess I was a little late for that one, but it seemed OK. If I never update this website again you can rest assured that the soup tasted OK even if it kills me later!
I guess that is all I have to say for the moment. I now face the horrendous task of trying to print this lot out so that Max can read it and give her seal of approval to all my words. (Not that Max can do anything now. All these words are now effectively in the public domain since I hit the upload button - which will happen any minute now !).
|Weather - clear and sunny, but rather cold
don't wish to worry you but there could be reports of some kind of
terrorist attack on S.E. London using gas or biological weapons. Have
no fear. It is only me. Not only did I consume rather large amounts of
fruit yesterday morning, but I also consumed two cans of lentil soup
last night. I expect the results this morning to be rather, shall we
say, explosive! I fear I will not be venturing far this morning until I
am convinced that the all clear has sounded.
Well, so much for scatalogical humour, but what am I really going to do today. I think a little bit of job searching would start the day nicely, and then a long hard think about how I am going to design my September diary page. And then to actually design the page, and put in the links, ready for tomorrow. I am happy with the overall layout I have been using these last two months, but I am beginning to go off the harsh white background. Black on white text probably remains the best option, but I am wondering about a background colour around the text boxes, or some sort of twiddly bit down the left hand side. I can see I have some experimenting to do.
There has been a slight break in my writing this page while I went away and knocked up a quick design for September. It is not finished yet as I have used a few existing pictures as a temporary measure until I can find something better. You can click on the links above to take a sneak preview of what tomorrow is likely to look like.
Now where was I? Today, and what I will be doing about it! I think a bit of shopping may be in order. I am running very low on catfood, and I foolisishly bought shampoo without conditioner in it last time, so more shampoo would be another good purchase before my hair feels too dry and unruly. Later on I would like to go for a pint with Ivor, Iain, maybe Howard, and Max and Ruth would be a good idea as well. Today will be Ivor's first day back at work after the holidays so it will be a bit too hectic for him to spend any substantial time in the pub, but the others may spend longer. So I am half tempted to go. I must see about all those lentils first though !!
|Bank Holiday Monday 30th August 2004
|Weather - mostly sunny, but some scattered showers
many ways today has been boring, and yet I have managed to do
somethings I wanted to do, but didn't have the time or inclination to
do before. I think it was the knowledge that I would have to make my
own entertainment today that made it feel boring. Today there was very
little chance of going for a beer, although I suppose I could probably
talked Iain, and/or possibly Howard, into it. Maybe even Ruth was in
The Herne today, but over the years I have come to learn that bank
holidays are just dead.
So I have spent the day mostly listening to radio recordings, and spent a couple of hours in my workshop. It's possible that I may spend another hour in there before heading off to bed tonight. TV seems deadly dull today. the only programmes that have grabbed my attention have been on the documentary channels. I have just watched one which was interesting, but very slow paced, about deceiving German night bombers during the second world war.
There has been one thing that has slightly saddened me these last two evenings. With the nights getting dark so early now, I have been putting on the little table light, and the two lava lamps in the living room. With the curtains drawn, and the main light off it is sort of cosy in there, and yet it is missing something. Or perhaps somebody might be a better way of putting it. For the last few years I have avoided that set of lighting, and used the main light only because it reminds me too much of cosy evenings in with Sarah. I have a definite idea of who should be a replacement for Sarah, but, alas, it is an impossible dream. In point of fact there are several women who it would be nice to have a discrete cuddle with when the lights are down low, but it is, as ever, the one least likely who I would prefer above all. To avoid embarrasment I'll not name names, but I would describe her as encantador.
|Weather - clear blue sky and sunny
hard to believe, that after all the bad summer weather we have had,
that today, a bank holiday, has started out looking like a glorious
summer day. It is pretty cool outside, but the sky is blue and the sun
is shining. Will it last ? Will we have lashing storms by this evening
? Do I care ? No, I'm not going anywhere. I won't be caught on the
overcrowded beachs cowering from hail and thunder. What shall I be
doing ? I don't really know yet, but I am sure it will involve being at
home on my own.
I spent a considerable time yesterday listening to recordings from BBC7. In particular I listened to the follow up series to Paradise Lost In Space called Paradise Lost In Cyberspace. In this story, set a few hundred years into the future, people, on reaching the age of seventy, are killed off by being forced to take the Paradise Pill. Out hero, George Smith (played by the actor who provided the voice of Marvin The Paranoid Android in The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy) is just sixty nine, but a beaurocratic error has mistakenly labelled him as being seventy. Fighting the use of The Paradise Pill are the OAP's (old age paramilitaries). Overall I enjoyed the series of plays, but there were a few parts that seemed slightly boring.
I went to bed at 23.00 last night and quickly fell asleep. When I awoke I felt very refreshed, but wondered why it was so dark outside. Before I thought about it too much I went and had my first-thing-in-the-morning pee. After that I went back to my bedroom to grab some underpants before intending to come down here to start writing, but the darkness still bothered me. So I checked the time and was most surprised to see that it was only 00.55. That explained the darkness then! It still felt as if I was wide awake, but I think I was asleep within minutes of my head hitting the pillow.
|Sunday 29th August 2004
|Weather - grey after a few minutes of sunshine
ten minutes ago the sun was shining onto the tops of the higher trees,
and also some of the neighbours chimney pots, but now everything looks
very grey. It looks as if it might even rain soon. If we are lucky it
might only be a thin covering of cloud that will burn off as the sun
Yesterday could have been quite boring where it not for the discovery that I had recorded a vey funny radio series. It was a six part series called Paradise Lost In Space. I assume, although this is really only a guess, that it follows the same basic plot as Milton's Paradise Lost. Although the underlying message in the radio series has some serious things to say it is actually played as a comedy with Tony Robinson (AKA Baldrick from the Black Adder TV series), and Mark Mcgiven (I am not sure if I have got the name right) (AKA Ford Prefect from The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy) playing the leading rôles. So far I have listened to the first four parts, and it is high on my list of priorities for today to hear the final two parts. I believe that Paradise Lost In Cyberspace was a follow up series, and I have recorded that from BBC7 as well.
I was invited out to a pub last night by Taz. She was meeting up with Scott and several more of their friends. They were not due to meet until 21.30 which I considered a little late. I was half tempted to go out of curiosity, but as I had predicted I was too settled into a comfortable rut by that time of the evening to consider going out. I was also put off slightly by the pub having a dress code that barred trainers, and who knows what. It would have been interesting to see Taz wearing a dress as I have only really seen her in t-shirt and trousers before. I expect she looked quite good. Maybe my own laziness made me miss out on a good time, but I was comfortable numb by then.
So today I will be listening to the final two parts of Paradise Lost In Space, and maybe a few other radio shows as well. Apart from that I do not really know what I will be up to. I may spend a couple of hours pottering about in my workshop, and maybe I wont. Right now though I am tempted to go back to bed for an hour. It was only Nelly who woke me up so early for a Sunday.
|Saturday 28th August 2004
|Weather - clear sky, but sun still too low to shine yet
had a dream full of strange symbolism last night. I think I know what
my brain was on about, but why it should choose such a weird way of
doing it I'll never know. I cannot even begin to remember the entire
dream in any exact way, but I can describe the storyline. I was in The
Rising Sun and there was some sort of competition or challenge. We were
making what could best be described as little towers. They were like
castle chess pieces ( I think). A circular, and tapering, wall of
bricks about 4 feet high and wide enough for two people to stand
inside. I don't recall if there was any official judging, or indeed if
anyone apart from myself judged that the construction that I made with
Patricia was perfect, but I was quite convinced it was perfect and that
we had worked together as the perfect team. It was a strange structure
to appear in a dream, and it is difficult to say just what it was
supposed to represent. It is now quite hard to picture the dream, but I
am convinced we were both inside it at one time so it does not
represent a barrier between us. It could be a barrier between us and
the outside world, but I think of it as more a place of security, or
safety. As I write this down it suddenly seems it was a solid analogue
of what really happened yesterday, and the Friday before. I was sitting
on one of the comfy sofas they have in the pub, next to Patricia, and
it is only with hindsight that I realise that the whole pub was
disappearing from my viewpoint. I was so enjoying being with Patricia
that it was like we were sitting in our own private universe just a few
Well, enough of metaphysical imagery. I have to work out how I will spend the day. I don't think I am going anywhere, or seeing anyone (except perhaps much later tonight) so I only have a few options available to me. I could do some gardening while it is dry (the sun has just appeared over the tops of the houses as I write this), but I think it is more likely that I will spend a fair bit of time listening to some recordings from BBC7. There is at least one complete sci-fi series that needs listening to.
|Friday 27th August 2004
|Weather - dry after a mix of sun and showers
feel reasonably happy tonight. The day has gone tolerably well, and I
am sure I have a new job. That should be good news, but it is not. I
feel sure I will get this job becuase I know exactly where the company
is located, and I know that it will be an almost impossible journey.
The job is test and repair of radar equipment, and the company is
located in Hainault, just up the road from where Nigel used to live. It
is a sod of a journey which would reduce me to a gibbering idiot after
a week. I am only sure I will get the job because it is one that I will
not be able to do. There is a sort of perverse logic to it.
I have actually gone after another two jobs today. One was via an agency who have now put me on their books. The actual job being offered turned out to be a field engineer, although this was not stated on the original job description. So I had to turn it down, but the agency will keep an eye out for anything that might be suitable. The third job was as an I.T. technician working in a school. Their knowledge requirements were within my remit, but with no previous experience of such a job I doubt I will be considered.
As yet I have not started the process to sell a bunch of shares. It still remains high on my list of priorities after the bank holiday next Monday. My chief preoccupation for today was to worry about whether I would see Patricia this evening. To avoid any suspense I'll say now that I did. I was almost late getting to the pub, but was much relieved to see the shutter still up on the staff entrance to the "school". So I started a long wait in the pub for her. After I had finished one pint I became convinced that I had been stood up. My mood blackened and I went outside to investigate. The shutter was still up, and after a few minutes of waiting outside Patricia called down from the second floor window to say she would not be long. After another 10 or 15 minutes she finally joined me. She only stayed for one half pint, about 30 to 40 minutes perhaps, but it was sufficient to make me happy. It is unfortunate that she is most definitely attached to a partner. So thing are not destined to progress any further than these after work drinks, but there was talk of maybe going for a quick bite to eat, maybe a pizza, one of the next times we meet up. It is not exactly a love affair, but it the closest I have come to one in too long. It would be all too easy to fall in love with her because she is such a lovely woman and so easy to talk to and be relaxed with.
To round off the day I have had a very naughty, and very massive Kebab. I should be feeling very happy now, and yet I am thinking there is a whole long boring bank holiday weekend to get through. I have an invitation to meet with Taz and Scott, and some of their mates, on Saturday night, but I am not really looking forward to it. They are meeting at 21.30 which is a little late for me. Unless I have started earlier in the evening 21.30 is about the time I feel like putting my feet up, and possibly heading off to bed soon after. I might still go out of curiosity, but it is liable to be a snap decision nearer the time.
|Weather - grey and drizzly
I don't feel as pissed off this morning as I did last night. Even the
grey skies and light rain/drizzle seems not to have plunged me into the
depths of despair. For all that, don't come away with the impression
that I am actually happy. Maybe later in the day I will feel better or
worse. I am going to do some imternet job searches when I have finished
here. Finding something feasible will help lift my spirits, as will
Patricia if she is happy about another after work drink. I will also be
making the first moves to sell some of my shares today. Unfortunatelt
that will lower my spirits as I hate all the messing around, phone
calls, and other enquiries, needed to do that. So it will be a pretty
lumpy sort of day. If I can find another suitable job to apply for, and
if I can see Patricia, and if I get the wheels in motion to sell the
shares, I will be set up for a happy weekend. Or else I will have a
very unhappy weekend and bank holiday. [endif] (sorry that was a little
computer programming joke - in some computer languages a string of if
statements are ended with endif).
It sounds a pretty full day already, but there will be lots more space in it. I'm not sure how I will fill those spaces, but I have still got a load of off-air recordings to deal with upstairs, and I am accumulating more everyday. I think I have two complete sci-fi series to listen to. So I really ought to make a start on them.
|Thursday 26th August 2004
|Weather - mostly hot sunshine
could say I feel pretty pissed off at the moment. Soon after midday I
learned that I did not get this latest job. This does have some serious
implications to my current finances. The blow was slightly softened by
Taz who invited me round to her place after I enquired about whether my
blind date was on for tonight. It seems my blind date is rather ill at
the moment so dating is off for the while. Taz has quite a nice flat
and we had a nice chat together without me even mentioning my failed
job attempt. A little while later another friend of hers came round,
and the conversation continued, but then the generation gap yawned as
they started to play with Playstation game. It was almost entertaining
to watch as I had not really seen a Playstation being played so avidly
before, but I really could not see the point in it all. The game was
called Techen 3 (or something similar) and just consisted of a pair of
combatants knocking the shit out of each other. After an hour of this I
made my excuses and left. As I waited for a bus to come home I felt
really pissed off even though the bright sunshine felt really good. It
took all my willpower not to go straight in the curry house and blow
all my pocket money on a huge gut busting curry.
Tomorrow morning I will go and break the news to Patricia. I don't know why, but it feels as if it going to be hard to tell her the news. In some ways I feel like I have let her down even though the actual application for the job preceded the Gateway To Work course. I am dearly hoping that she will be willing to come for a drink with me after work. It would cheer me up a lot if she will.
|Weather - greyish but dry
night was a reasonable night in The Ram. I enjoyed it more than last
week when I thought all the beer tasted rather strange. The ordinary
bitter tasted OK last night so I stuck with that for my four pints.
After the pub I felt like watching some TV, but after watching the last
15 minutes of Red Dwarf I decided to go to bed. Once again I had a
couple of vivid dreams that I partly remember.
The first dream was a sort of continuation of something I was thinking about before going to sleep. In fact it is hard to tell where reality left off and the dream started. When I was laying in bed I was thinking about making up a demonstration web site for the band New Cross. Of course New Cross no longer exist as such, but that has never stopped fans of a band before. While I was awake I was thinking seriously about what material was available to put on the site, and also how the site would be laid out. At some point I must have dozed off as my ideas became more outlandish and I was scouring the internet for bits and pieces to nick. It is a project that I do intend to start if I find myself out of work for much longer.
The second dream was about my fears of flying. As far as I know I have no particular fears of hurtling through the air in a tin can, but lots of other things about the process bother me. In this dream all those fears came to the surface. In fact calling some fears is a misuse of the word. Great irriations may be a better way of describing some of the feelings. I have no recollection of why I was flying, or even where I was flying too. The first part I remember was of a lot of hanging around waiting for the flight to be called. I was carrying some sort of bag and also the body of a guitar wrapped in brown paper. It was a long frustrating wait and I was not even sure I would be allowed on the plane carrying the guitar. During this long tedious wait someone, I think it may have been my mate Bob Dunn, announced that he had drunk so much fizzy lemonade that he felt like he would explode. He was immeadiately arrested as a suspect terrorist. He later reappeared on the plane with handcuffs on and in a cage. I was getting terribly frustrated about not being able to smoke, and that was before we even got on the plane. Once on the plane I found that my adjacently numbered ticket was in a totally different part of the plane to the person I was travelling with (Jodie - I think). Once we had taken off things got a little bizzare. Someone who I have not seen in years, Stuart Vaughn, drove alongside in a white transit van and shouted out that I had forgotten my radio. So I opened a window and he threw the radio in. It was inside a plain cardboard box which split open as it hit the floor. The radio also split open and I was warned to be careful of the Nickel Cadmium batteries because if they split open the mercury in them would eat through the aluminium fuselage. I was a lot happier when I realised the windows would open as I could hang out of the window and smoke a fag. This I did even though we were apparently travelling at hundreds of miles an hour. We were definitely high up, but there was no apparent wind or change in air pressure. I think the dream faded out with me happlily smoking a fag.
Yesterday was another frustrating day with no news about my job. I was also expecting to get some advanced warning as to whether my blind date is on for tonight. I have my doubts if it is going to happen tonight, or even ever, but I will still make the necessary preparations in case it happens. I'll send out a text message later to try and see what is happening. I'll wait until the end of the morning tomorrow before I make another enquiry about the job (if I have heard nothing before then). Very soon I will have to make a major change to my finances which I would rather not do if I knew that there was the prospect of a wage packet coming in the next 4 to 6 weeks.
|Wednesday 25th August 2004
|Weather - rather dull, but no rain
morning where I feel uncomfortable. Like yesterday, I will probably
feel fine once I am up, washed and dressed. I have had a good nights
sleep, although it was punctuated by one phone call and several weird
dreams. Both dreams that I partially remember seemed to have been
influenced by my stress over not knowing if I have this latest job.
In the first dream I remember getting up and wondering if the postman had delivered a letter to me. In some bizzare way I was living on the down platform at Catford Bridge station, and my letter box was at the far end of the up platform. I decided the easiest way of checking to see if a letter had come was to jump on a train and watch out the window as it passed the end of the platform. If there was a letter waiting there I would go to the next stop, Lower Sydenham, and catch the next train back to Catford Bridge where I would come in on the right platform to pick up the letter. I couldn't see the letter so I decided to get a bus back from Lower Sydenham. The station at Lower Sydenham seemed huge and all out of proportion to reality. Everywhere I looked there were small tables, and any flat surface with piles of old train tickets on them. Some of the tickets were very old. I asked a porter, who was dressed in a very old railway uniform, what was going on. He said they were sorting out the tickets prior to them being auctioned off to ticket collectors. I then left the station to get my bus home. Outside the station the view was very similar to that near Bank tube station. That was pretty strange, but my bus was stranger still. It was a double decker, but also had a double deck trailer. It was the latter part that I managed to get on by squeezing through the already closing sliding door. I wanted to go upstairs, but the only way up was almost like a ladder going up through a hatchway. Once up top the interior layout was fairly bus like, but I don't think it had many windows. It was also fairly crowded with loud objectional schoolgirls. I can't really recall anything after that.
The second dream revolved around my rapidly dwindling finances. I was in a bank trying to draw some money out so I could buy some fags. The cashiers were behind an arc of curved desks on the convex side, while the customers were somewhat crowded in on the concave side. My cashier was a young woman who had a deformed hand. She said that according to the computer I did not have sufficient funds to draw any money out, and yet she had some paperwork, perhaps supplied by me, that said I had a couple of hundred pounds in the account. She was convinced that the bank had made some mistake and I stood there for ages as she tried to work out what was going on. Several times she called people over to help her, and we even moved desks so she could try another computer terminal. After a while it began to seem as if I was watching this whole show on TV. I could see everything going on, but did not feel part of it. I think I was still waiting for something to happen when I woke up.
Yesterday should have been a good day, but it felt rather unfulfilling. Nothing much happened in the morning and in the afternoon I went over to The Herne for a drink with Iain and Howard. That was OK, but I was hoping Ruth might turn up. It ended up as a very long session drinking the terrible Kronenberg that gets me drunk too easily. By the time Iain dropped me off home I was ravenous. I was really after a huge kebab or curry (or the way I was feeling - both!), but decided that I could not afford to buy takeaways. Before Iain escaped I overloaded his boot with my old Grundig TV and a broken 20 inch computer monitor so he could dump them in a skip at work. He and Howard then left the car outside my place and wandered off to investigate a recently opened Japanese resturant near the end of my road. Meanwhile I shoved 3 Tesco ready meals in the oven. I had bangers and mash and both beef and chicken curries. That may sound a lot but I only had one of the portions of rice and left half the mashed potato. It still left me feeling pretty sick afterwards. So by 21.00 I headed off to my bed. I noticed that Iain's car was still outside so they must have been having a good time somewhere. It was gone his morning. I had only been asleep for less than an hour when I was woken up by a phone call from my friendly fag smuggler. I must see him today.
So today I have to go an squeeze some more money out of the bank. After that I am not sure what I will be doing for most of the day. Tonight, being a Wednesday, I will be off to The Ram for a fw leisurely pints. I hope that the ordinary bitter is back on as I don't want to get sloshed again. The other little thing I will do today is to watch my letterbox like a hawk in case news of my job comes in. If I do get the job I'll know my money troubles are over and I can afford to splash out a bit.
|Tuesday 24th August 2004
|Weather - dull and wet
gloomy wet morning! I believe most days this week will be the same. I
feel exceptionally yucky this morning. I seem to have a thick head,
stiff joints and feel a little bloated. It is a sort of early
morning feel that may well pass once I am up and about. Alternatively I
am going down with the lurgi, but that cannot be as too many important
things are happening this week - or at least I hope they are!
I am still feeling the stress as I wait anxiously for news about my job. It will be disappointing if I have not got it, but not devastatingly, but it is the not knowing that is making planning the future so frustrating.
There has been a slight intermission and I now feel less bloated. Also in that time the sun has actually broken through and the day looks a little better. There is still plenty of cloud around. So I expect the sun will be going in again very soon. Yesterday was mostly frustrating. I was a little bored so I started experimenting with PC's again. I seem to have permanently broken the brief glimpse of connectivity I had between the laptop and the main PC. I am sure I should be able to set up a bidirectional link between the laptop and main PC over a serial cable. I managed to get as far as being able to connect the laptop as a host to the main PC. I even transferred some files that way, but I could not see the laptop from the main PC. In my efforts to get full facilities I have broken even the unidirectional connection. Meanwhile Hyperterminal, with its one-file-at-a-time facilities, continues to work just fine. I decided to give up on conventional networking and just use Hyperterminal for the moment. So I moved on to one of the PC's that Kevin gave me recently. I thought I would try a Linux installation on one and spent hours trying to set it up only to have it fail from a duff hard disk. I knew the hard disk had a few bad sectors to start with, but it seemed to be falling apart in front of my eyes. A subsequent attempt to format it as a Windows FAT 32 partition also failed. Once I had replaced the hard disk I tried again. The Linux distribution Fedora Core 2 failed to install as I had not left enough disk space to hold sufficient programs to make the installation worthwhile. So I tried JAMD (Just Another Multimedia Distribution) and let it decide on how much disk space it wanted to allocate for itself. The installing went fine and completed within 20 minutes. It was only when I rebooted that a fatal flaw was apparent. I cannot even guess a reason why, but the screen contents were taking upwards of 30 seconds to refresh. It made for a very unresponsive computer!!!!! I gave up and installed Windows ME, and that worked fine. I did come very close to trying to load all my favourite applications, but midnight was approaching fast and I managed to drag myself away before I got myself into an all night session.
It had originally been my intention to get to bed early after a few late nights, but it did not happen. That is why I feel rather sleepy this morning. Tonight I must try and get to sleep before 23.00, and preferably earlier still. I think I need some rest and relaxation so there is a strong chance that I will go to The Herne early this afternoon and get drunk.
|Monday 23rd August 2004
|Weather - dull, gloomy and raining
| The story so far..... I was born. I did some stuff. I wrote a few lines yesterday before going back to bed. The story continues.......
I managed about 90 minutes of extra sleep before getting up again. It wasn't quality sleep, but it did help. Once up, washed and dressed, I headed out to Tesco on a mission to get fresh supplies of toilet paper (I had just opened up my last roll that morning), and a few other bits and pieces. Amongst the other bits and pieces was some fresh rolls and a couple of hot, cooked, Cumberland sausages. These, combined together with just some mustard and tomato sauce, made for an excellent, extremely tasty, if not a slightly stodgy, breakfast. After breakfast I intended to come back to this diary and write some more. Somehow that never happened. For soon after my late breakfast (it was almost lunch) I got a phone call from Kieth asking if it was OK for him to pop over. I said yes and decided to quickly do a couple of things to my laptop before he arrived.
I wanted to transfer some ogg-vorbis compressed audio files to the laptop and initially started transferring them one track at a time on floppy disks. That seemed too much like hard work so I reverted to using Hyperterminal. That too was unsatisfactory because I could only transfer one track at a time. I decided to try and set up networking between the laptop and main PC via the serial port. To do that I had to install extra Windows 95 stuff. This meant copying the required files from my Windows 95 CD to floppy disks. I didn't know what files would be needed in advance so I had to let the installation fail on each wanted file to find out the file name required, and then proceed once I had copied the wanted file onto the floppy disk. It was hard work, but I got there in the end. Finally I could see the directory structure of the big PC on the laptop. Even better, I could see my Windows 2000 machine upstairs through the PC here downstairs. The files I wanted were on the PC upstairs and I was able to select all the wanted files in one go and start to copy them to the laptop. It was painfully slow, but it got there in the end. I suspect that the serial port on the laptop is set to something like 2400 baud. That would account for the speed, but I didn't want to stop and investigate once I had finally got the process up and running. I'll look into it sometime today.
Apart from playing silly buggers with the laptop there are a few things to do today. One, which could easily stretch out to several days, is to wait anxiously for news about my new job. I doubt I will hear anything today, but hopefully it will not be too long before I find whether I have the job or not.
It looks as if I have had a stay of execution and will be able to put off a difficult decision about Friday until Friday week. This coming Friday was scheduled for our next old pirates meet at Barming, but it was also the next time I was hoping to take Patricia for an after work drink. In theory I could fit both in, one after the other, but theory and practice rarely meet in the middle. I am still waiting for general approval to change the date for Barming, but two people have given their approval already, and Pam and Kevin should approve as they both would not be able to make it this Friday. I had originally planned the date to avoid Pam being on holiday, but she emailed me yesterday to say she could not make this Friday because of a wedding she had to attend. So I blame her for the probable late change in plans even though it suits my plans as well (and hopefully accomodates Kevin, and maybe Ron as well).
|Sunday 22nd August 2004
|Weather - rather dull
I was reading in bed until 01.30 I appear to be up rather early ! This
is only a temporary state of affairs. I was woken up by a dear sweet
little pussycat who was meowing outside my bedroom door. Now I have fed
Nelly I will be off to bed again very soon.
: Available until Saturday 28th - One 9 inch green screen CGA computer monitor. . Next Saturday it goes in the bin.
|Saturday 21st August 2004
|Weather - bright and sunny, but cool
Jodie's mum's PC turned out to be a labour of love. This morning when I
turned it on it refused to power up. A few diagnostics later and I
confirmed that the power supply itself had failed. It may have been
some earlier symptoms of it failing that crashed the original hard
disk. Replacement could have been tricky, and expensive, as it uses a
micro-atx supply. These are smaller than the bog standard power supply,
and are also a little less standard in their fittings. So I had no
choice but to open up the unit and attempt a repair. Computer power
supplies are notoriously hard to fix as there are no diagrams to help.
A few measurments suggested a simple fault, and ultimately it was, but
I had to go a very long way round to get to the final fix. As my first
measurements suggested it was a single resistor that had gone almost
open circuit. The problem was this single resistor was, at first, only
a concept. It is a standard sort of fault that crops up in all sorts of
power supplies from TV's to mobile phone chargers. The difficulty was
in locating the physical place where the resistor lived. In this
case the resistor was actually made up physically from two resistors in
series. The obvious one tested perfectly OK, and it was only after
patiently tracing out part of the circuit, and following the tracks on
the PCB that I found its partner lurking between, and mostly obscured,
by a transformer and heatsink assembly. One I had replaced it I had a
fully working power supply that was able to succesfully boot the PC.
Having got the PC working again I was able to install a temporary network card so I could connect to the internet behind the safety of my firewall and update AVG antivirus. Once updated it soon found two more nasties lurking on the drive. I have now added a free edition of Mcaffee firewall, and Spybot - Search & Destroy. I also unistalled some very dodgy looking media players and sustituted Winamp and Power DVD. After a little more tidying up I have declared it a fully working PC which should be reasonably safe to let loose on the internet. I estimate that it has taken close on 8 hours work to go from a dead PC to a fully working one. If that had been paid for then it would have been very uneconomic, and so the new base unit that was purchased to replace it may not have been such a bad idea. Now Jodie's mum can have the old PC back fully working as a spare, and with all her old files accessible to be backed up and transferred to the new PC.
|Weather - bright and clear after heavy overnight rain
was a very good day with several triumphs. It started in the morning
(as most days do) when I had a look at Jodie's mum's PC. After a bit of
a struggle I managed to get the hard disk out. I took it upstairs to my
Windows 2000 machine and connected it up via my USB 2 adapter. It took
a lot of violence, the sort you would never inflict on a working drive,
to persuade it to start working, but only that one time. Once it was up
and running I used Winzip to make a zip file containing the entire
contents of the drive. I then unzipped that file onto a spare, blank,
drive which I then installed into Jodie's mum's PC. I tried several
things to try and get it to boot, but had to resort to re-installing
Windows to get it to work. I was very pleasantly surprised, amazed
even, to find that I had managed to resurrect the whole computer
complete with all programs, viruses, trojans, and several other nasties
that were lurking on the hard disk. I have some more work to do on it
today to get it really clean, but basically it is all working. The
original hard disk was 20 GBytes, but the one I am using on it now is
only 4 GBytes. There is still plenty of room on it, but if they want a
bigger disk they'll have to fork out £40 - £60 to get a
brand new one. If that happens I will use the slightly easier method of
"Drive Image" to clone the now working disk onto the new disk.
While working on that PC, at around midday, I had a text message from Taz asking if I wanted to meet up with her and Scott for a drink. After an exchange of text messages we agreed on a time of 13.30. Unfortunately (for Scott) he had not been consulted at this time and couldn't, or didn't, make it until 15.30. So I spent a pleasant 2 hours in the pub with Taz discussing British comedy. It seems we have a lot of common opinion on some of the funniest things to grace our TV screens. Eventually Scott turned up, but was rather pre-occupied with his Color (sic) Gameboy. Much of the conversation about the gameboy, and Pokemon, went totally over my head, but the subject of my blind date evenutually arose. I think we agreed that it would be next Thursday (but it could also be as soon as next Tuesday). I heard a little more information about Jan, who is the object of the date, and she seems a little less attractive for a number of reasons, mainly health ones, but I will not pre-judge anything until I have actually met her for the first time.
Meanwhile the time of my "date" with Patricia moved nearer. By 16.55 my patience ran out and I went next door to see if she was really going to come. Originally I had agreed that I would collect her at 17.30, after she had finished work, but I had not anticipated that the public entrance to the building would be locked up. So it was an amazing stroke of luck that I decided to go early, and at the precise time that someone was coming out of the staff entrance. He let me in and I went up to see her. She was still working, but readily agreed to meet in the pub once she had finished. I had an anxious wait, but she eventually turned up just a little late. After 30 minutes, perhaps a little longer, Taz and Scott left and I had Patricia to myself. I think she stayed for another hour and I had a most pleasant time chatting with her. I learned one disappointing thing - she already seems to have a boyfriend. Despite that I feel we are quite close, and without him we could be closer still. Maybe that is just fantasy, but she makes me feel so good, and so relaxed when talking with her. I couldn't resist telling her how attractive she was. With good looks, a big warm heart, and very intelligent, it is hard not to be attracted to her. Eventually it was time to go and a few hugs were exchanged. She seems quite keen to do it again sometime, but next Friday will be tricky. It is the next old "comrades" meeting in Barming. I hope I'll be able to fit both in, but if it comes down to one or another it will be hard to pass Patricia over. That would be one hell of a decision to make, and one I will not even think about until nearer the time.
I had another surprise while in the pub. I think it was just before Patricia turned up. Out of the blue came a text message from Ruth who was in The Herne. She was wondering where I had got to all week, and maybe even missing me. Something strange is going on. After years in the wilderness I seem, somehow, to have become the centre of attention of several very nice women. I presume that in some mysterious way I have made myself that centre of attention. I am not knocking it, but I wish I could have done whatever I am doing now some 20 (or even 30 !) years ago.
Sadly, I don't think any women will be around to brighten my day, but I have plenty to get on with. I will finish off Jodie's mum's computer, and I have a few more computer bits and pieces to be getting on with. I also have a backlog of audio files recorded from BBC7 to try and get through. So it could be a pretty full day.
|Friday 20th August 2004
|Weather - clear blue sky, sunny, light breeze
seems to be a glorious morning. After yesterdays gales it is almost
calm. There is a bit of breeze, but none of the window rattling gusts
that were rather annoying yesterday. It's nice to see a clear blue sky
as well. I don't know whether this will last, but it's a good start.
It will be a tense day today as I wait for news about my job. If I am very lucky there will be something in the post, and if I am luckier still, the postman will be early. If there is nothing in he post, and I haven't had a phone call by mid afternoon, I will phone up and see what is going on.
I have a project for this morning. Mark dropped off Jodie's mum's PC to me yesterday (see earlier entry). There are are two things I will be doing to it. The first is to try and recover some information from the original hard disk. I will probably use a kill or cure method that may involve great violence, but if I can get it to spin just one more time I will be able to get at their data. If it doesn't work then nothing has changed and they will not be worse off. The second part is to install a new hard disk. I may use a 20 GByte drive that I have lying around the place, although it has some of my data on it that I will have to back up to somewhere else. Alternatively, I have a spare 4 GByte drive that is OK to use, except that it is a bit small by modern standards (some would say tiny), but would be ample for office stuff and general web surfing. As far as I know, Jodie has not gone down the path of collecting huge swathes of multimedia stuff that add so much data to a hard drive.
That little project should keep me occupied for much of the morning. Later in the afternoon, or even very early evening, I have some drinking to do with Patricia and/or Scott and Taz (and possibly later in the evening, maybe my blind date as well). I feel a little impatient for late afternoon to come around.
|Thursday 19th August 2004
|Weather - very windy with sunny intervals during daylight.
feel strangely uneasy, or depressed or something tonight. I can't
really describe in words how I feel. there seems to be no adequate word
to describe it. Perhaps anxious comes closest to the word I want. It is
mostly down to my patience wearing thin as the end of the week draws
near, and I have still not heard any word about the new job. I have
also not heard any news about my blind date. I shall try and console
myself with the fact that I shall be seeing Patricia for a quick drink
tomorrow. I am even worried about that. She seemed to hesitate slightly
when I asked her on Tuesday morning, and I am wondering if I am doing
the right thing. Nevertheless I shall proceed until, and if, she
declines my offer. I have to admit that Patricia has a very addictive
personality, and if tomorrow seems to go well I will want to do it
again - and soon.
Today has felt rather empty even though I have been fairly busy. This morning I earned myself some beer money by doing a favour for Lee. Dinner time I went shopping and I bought myself some really nice food, and this afternoon Jodie came over to get me to sort out the copies of her holiday pictures onto CD ROM's. I find it slightly amazing that Jessops will only put one film on one CD. After Jodie's long weekend in Finland she came back with about 10 rolls of film which were developed and put onto 10 CD's. My job was to help her make 5 compilations of those pictures, one to a CD, which she will be posting off to her friends.
After all the years that Nelly has lived with me, and that must be 6 years now, she has never quite got the hang of her litter tray. She knows that she has to dig a hole in the litter, but not how to use it. She digs the hole with her front paws in the middle of the tray, but never parks her bottom over the hole. It never seems to occur to her that the hole she has dug is the one she is supposed to use. This morning I came down to find a puddle across the kitchen floor where she forgot to put her back leg in the tray (or something). I immeadiately poured cat litter over it to soak it up, and I thought I had been successful. It soaked it all up and I was able to sweep it all up. It still seems smelly though, and tomorrow, when it is light, I will have to wash he floor. Still, at least I know her kidneys are in perfect working order ! (for those who don't know - kidney failure is a very common cause of death in older cats).
|Weather - sunny interval after heavy overnight rain
was a good day. I have already described the morning so I'll carry on
from there. At midday I gave Tony Messenger a ring to see about a brief
meeting. He volunteered to pop in here on his way through Catford. He
turned up sometime around 13.00. It actually worked out very well that
he came here. I was able to show him the edited video of his stage
performance on one undated night, maybe some 20 years ago, at The
Newlands Tavern (although on the video I had said it was The Walmer
Castle). He was totally thrilled with that, and also the audio disk I
had made up from a tape of an officially bootlegged gig at The Apples
And Pears Pub. I have lent him the original audio master tape so he can
do some post production work on it. Maybe there will be an "official"
CD release of New Cross performing live released soon, but probably
only a limited, hand produced, version for the few known fans from 20
years back. We had a really good chat together about the past, present
and future. It went on so long that Tony overstayed his parking ticket
by 20 minutes, or so. Fortunately he was not caught. He left promising
to drop off copies of some of the stuff he has been working on recently.
After the afternoon excitement nothing much happened until the evening when, being a Wednesday night, it was off to the pub to drink with Kevin, Iain and Howard. The session was only marred by one thing. I don't know whether it was just me, but both the ordinary and special bitter tasted horrible. The Special tasted like it had been stored in a rusty tin can. In fact Kevin pronounced it erfectly OK. So I guess it was just me, but I gave up and went onto Stella Artois, and that tasted fine.
Today I will be anxiously waiting to hear some news, good or bad, about my new job. I was supposed to hear by the end of the week and the week is running out fast. I think it was Kevin who suggested that if it was good news I would probably hear it in a letter, and that would, of course, take a little time to get here. If it was bad news it would be by phone, and I may well have heard something by now. I am not convinced by that argument, and I refuse to count my chickens before they are hatched. To the best of my knowledge I have only a 1 in 4 chance of getting the job. They are reasonable odds, but even if I know I am the best man for the job it does not follow that I will be selected.
If anyone had trouble playing the ogg file I linked to on Sunday's entry (this one here), then you can get the ogg codec from here - http://www.vorbis.com/files/1.0.1/windows/vorbis-tools-1.0.1-win32.zip This zip file contains the encoder, decoder and other tools. With it installed, windows media player and several other players should be able to play ogg files. It is a only a 420KByte download.
There are other alternatives at http://www.vorbis.com/download_win_1.0.1.psp. It is also worth browsing the downloads and other sofware sections.
|Wednesday 18th August 2004
|Weather - occasional sunny intervals, but mostly grey
I have now been to the Job Centre, and called in to give Patricia
copies of some of my pictures taken last Friday on the last day of
class. She was most happy to hear that I had posted a couple of
pictures here as she could show her friends around the world some
pictures of her at work. That inspired me to make a special web page
containing all the pictures. I have done special pages for the beer
festival, days out, and my visit to Nunhead Cemetary. So I don't know
why I didn't think of doing one of last fortnights course as well. I
have now and it is.
|Weather - bright and sunny with a few dark clouds
morning has started bright and sunny after some heavy rain last night.
At 01.00 there was a good thunderstorm raging nearby. I was not aware
of it coming too close to here, but some of the peals of thunder seemed
to be very profound as they echoed around the sky. It sounded as if
those underneath the lightening must have almost been shook out of
their beds. After that it was quite a surprise to wake up to sunshine.
There are still some heavy clouds in the sky , with only a few blue
patches. So more rain is very likely.
At 08.50 I shall be off to the Job Centre for an 09.00 start. For reasons that are not clear I have written Friday 18th on my appointment card. So it is possible that my next interview could be on Friday and I have writen the date wrong, but I'll hedge my bets that the date is right and it is the day that is wrong. It is probably better to go there when I am not needed rather than miss when I am needed. If today is not the day I have a cunning plan. I'll ask for some job details for a couple of jobs I have found on the Job Centre website (which hopefully I will never need), and then I will pop (almost) next door and go and see Patricia. I was up very late last night printing off a couple of pictures I took on the last day of class. It sounds as if that should have been a quick process, and it should have in any normal way, but I had some difficulties. The pictures where taken in a mixture of natural light and that from flourescent lamps. That resulted in some odd colour effects that I was trying to even out. Eventually I managed to print a couple of pictures that I am reasonably happy with, and another that is the best I can do given the circumstances in which it was taken. That last one was the class photo that appears further down this page. With so much backlighting from the bright windows it was very hard trying to pull enough detail out of the dark foreground. I could get the detail but at horrendous cost of terrible noise on the picture. So it took many attempts to find a good compromise. In doing that picture, and the others, I have used up my entire stock of photo paper apart from some very thin lightweight stuff. I hope I hear that I have got the job that I had the interview for last Thursday. Without the promise of some decent wages coming in it will be difficult to find the money to replenish my photo paper stocks.
|Tuesday 17th August 2004
|Weather - fine start after cold night
thing I am having to come to terms with is that the days are getting
shorter. Of course I know this from a rational point of view. It has
been happening since midsummers day, but now it is becoming noticable
from a practical point of view. There are two consequences that arise
from this. It is becoming difficult to say anything meaningful about
the weather this early in the morning. The sun is so low in the sky
that I cannot see any direct sunshine apart from that which may be
falling onto the tops of some of the higher trees - a view that is
partially obscured while sitting at this PC. The second consequences is
that I feel tired very early during the night. Once it has become dark
my brain says "sleep time !". A little later in the year, once it
starts getting dark very early, I will switch over to winter mode and
ignore the darkness. It is in these transative months that I want to
get to bed as soon as night falls. Last night I started thinking about
bed as early as 20.30. I eventually went up to bed around 21.30, I
think, and I did some reading until 22.00 or 23.00. The strange thing
is I can't remember which of the two hours it was that I turned out the
light. I do recall that I was asleep very soon after turning out the
light. Equally strange is that I can remember lots of dreaming, but I
cannot recall a single thing from those dreams.
Yesterday I gave a list of plans for the first part of the day. Apart from paying the O2 bill I followed them fairly exactly. I now have a surplus of shampoo and shower gel after visiting Tesco's. I went over to Alison's dad and fixed his PC, and then went over to Jodie but only assessed her mums PC.
The first PC had a very simple fault brought on by an unknown condition. The hard drive was not being recognised. After unplugging the leads to the hard drive, and plugging them back in again, the thing sprung into life. I suspect that one of the connections was making poor contact, and it was cured by the mechanical action of unplugging and plugging in again. As the contacts scraped over each other it would waipe off any corrosion, or dirt. There could be a more sinister reason in that the hard drive had partially siezed and the vibrations caused by fiddling with the leads has freed it up for the moment. I have warned Alison to back up all her data in case that was so. It would be a good idea to do some back ups anyway, as Jodie and her mum have just found out the hard way !
I wish Jodie was able to describe things properly. She said her mums PC was totally dead - which was rubbish ! In fact it is the hard drive that has most definitely failed, and nothing else. They have already had an engineer round to assess the situation and his idea is to change the whole base unit. It sounds like a rip off to me. All it needs is a new hard drive costing around £50. Unfortunately, perhaps by disinformation, there seems some confusion between what is just the disk drive itself and the whole base unit. I have instructed Jodie's mum to query the problem of just fitting a new hard drive and reinstalling all the software, but I think it will ultimately end up as an expensive, and unnecessary upgrade. Their current base unit contains an 866MHz PIII (or celeron) which provides more processing power than they will ever need for office work, the internet, and if Jodie ever pulls her finger out and learns how to do it, basic photo editing and CD burning. Sadly, because neither of them ever made backups of their work, all their files have now gone. I have offered to see if I can resurect their old hard drive for just one more session to copy it. I have managed it before, but it is a very hit and miss affair. A proper forensic lab could do it for certain, but they would charge an arm and a leg for it. As a footnote to this tale I must mention that I was able to demonstrate the the rest of their PC worked by booting up my copy of DamnSmall Linux on a mini CD. It did not seem to be able to recognise the USB ADSL modem, but I was able to show that everything else worked. It is a shame that I did not have a full copy of Knoppix as that has far greater capabilities and I could probably have got them internet acccess, and been able to demonstrate Open Office as a word processor. Apart from being a little slow, and having only floppy disks to store data on, it would have restored full functionality without having to use the hard disk at all.
At the moment I have no plans for today. I did try and get hold of Tony Messenger (of New Cross fame) last night to see if he wanted to meet up this afternoon/evening, but he seemed to be out. So I will meander through the day, making it up as I go along.
|Monday 16th August 2004
|Weather - misty and murky, damp air, no rain
had a rather late night last night. This came about through a
combination of watching Red Dwarf on UK Gold, and searching the
internet looking for examples and information about embedding sounds
into web pages. I never quite found the information I was looking for.
After many distractions, sometimes following links totally unrelated to
what I needed (including finding myself on a porn site or two - very
distracting !!), I came to the conclusion that many types of embedded
sound do not adhere to the W3C HTML specifications, but rely on a non
standard interpretation by Microsoft Internet Explorer. So my research,
fascinating as it was, actually reached a dead end.
So this morning I find myself feeling rather tired, and I also feel a little bloated. I had tried to control my eating yesterday. It started off OK with just some plain kippers (no bread or butter), and for a slightly late lunch I just had some fruit. By 20.30 I was feeling peckish and it was not helped by watching Dave Lister, on Red Dwarf, eating copious amounts of curry. I had a couple of froxen Shepherds Pies in the freezer and cooked them. Individually they are fairly small portions, but two make for a very satisfying meal. I guess it those that have left me feeling slightly bloated this morning.
I think I have some definite plans for this morning. It may go something like this :-
|Sunday 15th August 2004
|Weather - looking rather dull after a few small showers
have been feeling rather listless today. I suppose it has been the
first day where I didn't really have any sort of plan of action (apart
from a possible quick trip to Tesco). I never did go out to get any
shopping, but I have listened to three episodes of Sherlock Holmes. I'm
not really sure where the rest of the day has gone to. After writing
the entry this morning I did go back to bed and snoozed until almost
10.30. Surprisingly, after that extra sleep, I also dozed off while
listening to one of the Sherlock Holmes stories. What I should have
done today is to go out and fix two computers. Jodie's computer has
died and her mum brought someone in to look at it. He says it is a
write off, but I cannot believe that. There are a few disasters than
can cause serious damage to a PC, but I have never heard of one that
makes total replacement neccesary. Even a power supply blow up usually
leaves a few bits still working, maybe not always, but it would be a
rare occasion if that has happened. The second PC belongs to Alison's
dad. That seems to have suffered some sort of corruption with windows
refusing to load. It may have been a virus attack, or the hard disk
starting to fail. I could probably do both PC's on the same day, but I
have not felt like going out. Maybe I'll wake up in the morning full of
Fridays offer of a blind date has set my mind reeling. I am definitely going through with it, but somehow I feel right out of my depth. After thinking about it for so long, and trying to imagine all possibilities and outcomes, I can only really settle on one definite thought - my mind keeps coming back to a song I used to really like back in the early eighties (or was it the late seventies ?). The song is appropriately called Blind Dates. It has never been released as a record, but was performed as a sort of party piece by the relatively little known band called New Cross. They were regular performers at the pub called The Apples And Pears in Rotherhithe, and also at a few other local pubs. The Apples And Pears has now been closed down, or even demolished, but a few gigs live on in the form of official bootleg tapes. These were recorded for transmission on Radio Free London. Fortunately I still own those tapes, and even better still, Tony Mesenger, singer, songwriter, and lead guitar has recently told me that it is OK to use those tapes for certain purposes. So if you have never heard the song Blind Dates you can hear it here. It is only at a low bitrate so the quality is not perfect, and you will need the ogg-vorbis codec on your PC. Many modern media programs (Winamp etc) can play ogg files OK. It might work better to right click the link and save the file, but it might play OK directly.
|Weather - bright with mottled sunshine from a mottled sky
have come to the conclusion that it is hard trying to describe the
weather when it is so changeable. As I sit here near an open window,
only wearing underpants (Yeah I know that does not make for a pretty
image !!!), it feels like a very cool breeze wafting by me. Yet the day
will probably range from mild to hot. The sky is a little misty with a
lot of whispy clouds to be seen. The sun is too low on the horizon to
do more than light up the tops of trees. From that information it is
hard to predict the weather for the day, and to give a good one line
explanation in the header for todays entry. I guess the weather will be
similar to yesterday, but that was rather average and nondescript.
Sometimes the sun would be out and it would feel very warm if you stood
in it, and at other times it was obscured by clouds and it felt a
little cooler. I think we are approaching an ideal sort of average
temperature. It is warm enough to stand around in shirtsleeves, and
cool enough to be able to do a little physical effort without drowning
in your own sweat. It still feels a little hot inside the house
sometimes and so I have not been inspired to do much strenuous
housework, or other physical tasks.
I have done some things that are tantamount to housework. After Iain singing the praises of Tesco toilet cleaner I have attacked my toilet bowl with renewed vigour. It has come up looking good. It needed several doses of Tesco Toilet Cleaner, and a generous overnight application of bleach, but it seems to have cured most of the staining that happened when I experimented with using some old bottles of Coca Cola (well past their sell by date, and fizzless) as a limescale remover. Well, everybody says that coke will dissolve anything, and I did think the phosphoric acid would dissolve the limescale. All it did was to colour the limescale a disgusting dark brown, almost black, colour.
To get the Tesco Toilet cleaner I had to do a shopping trip, and I think that counts as housework. I may go to Tesco again today as I totally forgot to get shower gel, and there are a few more things I probably ought to have bought. The last bit of housework was to do a load of washing. I have done the coloureds, and today I may do the whites. (Next in line must be the bed linen and a blanket).
The rest of yesterday must have been taken up by playing with my new laptop. As my new laptop is, in reality, rather old and could almost be described as primitive, it lacks certain useful things. One major difficulty is that it has no CD drive to install programs that are too big to fit on a floppy disk. It's major input/output portal is the serial connection. So I had to make up a special null-modem lead to connect it to the big PC so I could use Hyperterminal to transfer data to, and from, the laptop. It is rather slow, but it works. It should be possible to transfer data to this PC when it is running Linux, but I have had problems trying to do that. There is a program called minicom that will do the job, but it has no graphical user interface and seems, like many linux programs, to be very complex to use. It has so many options that it is hard to know where you are with it. As an experiment I tried running the windows program Hyperterminal on Linux using WINE. It half works ! It brings up the interface OK and I can even type messages across the link, but it will not do file transfers. I expect that Hyperterminal does not have the correct permissions to access the files, and being Windows based, has no means of telling me about it. I may experiment a little further today.
I've just done the experiment, but had no luck. It is a little strange, but I will consider other options some time. Having spent 30 minutes experimenting I have lost my train of thought. As I collect my thoughts, and consider what it was I was going to write about, I'll mention a few bits of info that come to mind. Firstly there is a slightly spicy, slightly gassy smell coming from the garden that indicates a fox has been out there recently. I am pretty sure that it is the smell of fox pee. Secondly, while experimenting with transferring a copy of my website onto the laptop I became aware of just how many typing errors escape my notice. It is probably every day that I make at least one silly typo. Some subtly change the meaning of a sentence, but more usually a word gets changed that leaves a sentence almost unreadable. Fortunately most are simple spelling mistakes that are easy to interpret. I am trying to proof read what I am typing this morning. So far I have not spoted any major mistakes, but I know if I look back on this in a few days time some ghastly mistake will stare me in the face.
I'm not sure what my plans are for today. I have a load of mp3 files recorded from BBC7 that I ought to tackle, but that could almost take up the whole of the day. I'll probably do a few of them. Sometime soon, if not now, BBC7 will be finishing all the Sherlock Holmes stories. Perhaps my first priority will be to get them up to date. Once they are all top-and-tailed of irrelevant announcements I can archive them to CD (or DVD) and make some more space on my hard disk. I think that will be enough for today.
|Saturday 14th August 2004
|Weather - rather grey. Dry and cool
morning seemed like a good time to have a lie in, but I am up early
because this is the time I woke up. After a fortnight where I had to be
disciplined and get up, and stay up early, I will now indulge in the
luxury of being able to go back to bed once I have finished writing
this. But first I have to finish off yesterdays story, and write a
little about today.
I left the story yesterday with Taz, Scott and myself in the pub threatening to carry Taz, kicking and screaming, to the dentist. Poor old Taz, I hope she does get her tooth sorted out soon. Toothache is one of the worst pains to be endured. After a 15 (20 ?) year holiday from the dentist it was what finally drove me back to the much feared dentist. It was after walking back and forward in my hallway for nearly an hour, with a red mist over my eyes, and my whole universe existing around just one tooth, that I decided there had to be a better way. That was 10, or more, years ago, and I have visited the dentist at the first sign of any trouble ever since (and even submitted to regular check-ups). It took me a long time to realise it, but short periods of extreme discomfort are a great trade for hours of agony.
While in the pub, Taz dropped a bombshell on me. "How would I like a blind date ?". I don't know how, but during the first week at school I must have made left a good impression on Scott. He related this to Taz. So for the first Friday night drink Taz wanted to see what I was all about. For some bizarre reason she came away impressed and has been fed more good stuff about me during this last week by Scott. She (and he) do not realise that I am really a grumpy old sod who has been on a temporary high after spending a week in class with Patricia, and then totally bowled over by Taz's vivaciousness (and had a few drinks on an empty stomach). So she has taken it upon herself to set me up with a blind date for later in the week (maybe next Friday). I find the idea enough to scare the crap out of me, and yet at the same time rather exciting. The bizzare thing is that she revealed who it was to be. My blind date is to be with Scott's mum ! So I can add one more thing to scary and exciting - weird ! It appears that all the plotting and intrigue has been down to Taz. I don't think that Scott had picked me out to be his potential step-dad. In fact I don't think he had even given a thought for the potential implications involved. It was me who first mentioned what could happen if Taz's scheming reached it's ultimate conclusion. For now it is not how it will end up, but how it will start that worries me. All my (few) previous love affairs have started off very slow, and maybe weeks went by before I even dared to consider a date. But here I am, in effect, being handed a woman on a plate, who I may not even like at first (or even ever), and I have no idea what to do. All I can do is what I always do in these situations - stop worrying about it, make it up as I go along, and see how it turns out in the end.
After a fortnight of mostly healthy eating, and possibly losing a few pounds, I finally cracked last night. I didn't consider that 4 pints of Stella was enough for breakfast and I wanted some elevenses (!). So I ordered a huge curry. I had a whole tandoori mixed grill as a starter, and a lamb dansak as the main course. The only thing I can say in my defense was that I did not touch the rice. It was very filling, and very delicious ! In penance I ought to try and just get by with a few bits of fruit today. I doubt I'll manage it, but I'll have a go. With the potential of new work, and new girlfriends on the horizon, I ought to try and shed the excess brought on by being on the dole, which is sitting on the excess that was there before going on the dole.
And finally - a picture taken of most of the class from last week. In getting this picture taken I fell into the trap of not realising that the bright windows would totally ruin the exposure. I have had to pull, push and positively bend the exposure to get Scott's face almost out of the gloom.
In the back row, left to right, Bryan, Carl, Victor, Pauline and Patricia.
In the front, left to right, me, Paul and Scott.
(Missing in action - the two Chantelles and Dominico)
With thanks to Jenny, from the office, for taking the picture for me.
|Friday 13th August 2004
|Weather - sunshine and showers - some heavy
has been a good day, but I will not be writing too much about it yet. I
will possibly write some more later on this evening. But for now I want
to introduce you to the lovely Patricia (on the left) who has done so
much to make the last fortnight a pleasure. In some ways it is sad it
is over, but all is not lost. I will be going back to see here at least
one more time. I have promised that I will let her know the result of
yesterdays job interview, not that I needed much persuading, and I am
sure that there will be future excuses as well.
I wanted her to come for a quick drink after school today, but she was too busy with the last of the paperwork, and has some family commitments straight after work. However I was overjoyed when she said she would be happy to accompany me for a drink after school another night next week.
So for the last few hours I have had the company of Scott and the truly delightful Taz in the local pub. Poor Taz was in so much pain with toothache, but she was being very brave about it. I have threatened her that if she does not get it sorted by a dentist her worst fears will come true and I will take a photograph of her. That seems to have done the trick, and she will be seeing a dentist soon. Scott has my number and if he doesn't tell me that she has seen a dentist next week then the camera comes out ! Alternatively Scott and myself will carry her, kicking and screaming, to a dentist on Monday.
|Weather - cool with a misty grey sky
is Friday the 13th. This could be bad, or good, but probably
indifferent. It is also my last day at school, and it will probably be
the second to last time I will see the lovely Patricia.
Yesterday morning I had a job interview. It is rather hard to judge how it went. The interview was a complete contrast to the type that school was trying to prepare us for, but not so different to what I was expecting. It was for a tiny company who (probably) rarely take on new staff, and where the manager is also the owner, and carries out a multitude of assorted duties including doing interviews. There seemed to be no problem with my technical abilities and they were barely duscussed at all. I think the real purpose of the interview was just to see if my face fitted. I think I could fit in very nicely. The workshop was organised chaos and felt very homely, and I seemed to get on OK with the managing director. He was easy to talk to and had a pleasant attitude. Being and engineer himself, and still doing occasional work in the workshop, did allow us to talk the same language. I think I am in with a chance for this job. There are only three other candidates that have been selected for interviews. Those have presumably been pre-selected on their technical merits like me. I can only hope that they are either too scummy to fit in, or so silver tongued that they appear to be a threat in a place that is too small for big egos. One or more may be put off by the tiny size of the place, and where there are no prospects of promotion (yet) as they will already be working directly under the head of the company. In reality I would not be surprised if the final choice were made by putting our names in a hat, and the lucky one will be the first name pulled from the hat.
After the interview I went back to school for the final session of the morning. At dinner time, as I had pre-warned, I announced that I had some follows to the interview and would not be back until this morning. I am not sure how it has been recorded, but we are allowed one whole day of unauthorised absence so I am safe. Inevitably I ended up in The Herne. Max has already started her holiday with Mick, so I didn't get a hug there. Ruth turned up for a quick drink but had to nip out and pay a bill. She said she would be back, but Sophie was complaining that it was boring in the pub and obviously managed to persuade Ruth not to come back. So I didn't get a hug from Ruth either. So I spent most of the time drinking with Iain until Paul joined us. I can't remember the time we left the pub, but it was fairly late. I do know that by the time I had changed ny clothes and turned on the TV I had just missed The Bill, and that finished at 21.00.
So, today is the last day in school. In a funny way I'll miss it. In between a lot of boredom, some bits have been fun, and I really liked talking with Patricia. I have promised that I will pop back in when I have heard the result of my interview and let her know whether I have got the job, or not. I expect today will be a short day, and we may well finish at dinnertime, but I hope it goes on a little longer because I want to drag Patricia into the pub again for one last drink. Hopefully this time she will be able to stay and finsh her drink. Last Friday she was called away before she had finished.
|Thursday 12th August 2004
|Weather - dull and grey after overnight rain
| I had a dream that it was 7 o'clock, and that I really ought to be getting up. So I got up. Well I now know it was a dream because
I see it was, in reality, 6 o'clock. Fortunately 6 o'clock was the time
I would have preferred to get up. That was a very long winded way of
saying that I got up an hour earlier than I thought it was. So I have
just under three hours to prepare myself before heading off to my job
interview. I wonder how I will spend that time ? I prepared all my
paperwork, and laid out my clothes before going to the pub last night.
Although I have not yet laced up my new shoes.
You may possibly think it a bad idea that I went to the pub last night, and drank 4 pints of beer, when I have a job interview the next morning. But I actually did worse than that. When I got in from the pub I sat down to watch The Bill that I had recorded while I was in the pub. So here I am, in the morning, feeling like I have not had enough sleep, and with the faintest touch of a hangover. These things do not matter. In an almost schitzophrenic way, the person who attends the interview will be a carefully selected alternative personality who is not suffering from any of the maladies that affect me now. I am not really sure how I do it, but it is the same sort of idea that practicers of yoga or zen claim to be able to do. I could come up with a load of old buzz words like focussing the mind, but to me it is more like pulling a switch. It works with going to the dentist as well. Somewhere along the way I learned that you cannot fight reality. So you may as well try and get something positive out of it. Sometimes that is humour, and sometimes it is learning. Today may be both those and a job.
The weather is being quite awkward lately. Some of the humidity over the last week and a half, has left me feeling very sweaty in class when I really would have liked to be cool and sophisticated. I hope that tomorrow will be cool and dry because our final "torture" in class, as we depart, is to give Patricia a hug and a kiss. They are her words, and in all probability it was another of her "breaking the ice" jokes on the first day. I most definitely want to do it, but I will not feel comfortable if I am feeling like a huge mound of dripping sweat.
Last night the weather, in the form of total cloud cover with rain, prevented any sight of the perseids meteor shower. It was predicted to be a good one, and had the sky been open we could have come out of the pub 30 minutes earlier to have a look at the suggested time of 22.30. I know Patricia will have been disappointed as she was hoping to take a look at the meteors too.
Today I hope that the rain has done its worst, and that it will remain dry until I am safely in the interview. I have a fair walk from the station and I am likely to work up a bit of sweat even if the temperature remains low and there is some breeze. If it decided to rain I will not only get soaked by that rain, but I will also have to put on a coat, and that extra insulation will undoubtably cause me to overheat and sweat more profusely than ever. I really would like to go into that interview cool and dry.
With a few interuptions attending to Nelly (cat food etc), and some thinking, I see that nearly an hour has passed since I first started at the computer. I had better go and wash my hair and have a good shower. It may well be much later, perhaps early evening, before I report on the interview. I have promised to go back to class after and report about it there, but I did also say that I might just have to do a practical test, or do some research, or something, in the afternoon. I think it will probably turn out to be the mysterious something and I will not be in class for the afternoon. These plans may be revised if it is pelting down with rain. In which case I may opt for the drier choice which will be in the classroom.
|Wednesday 11th August 2004
|Weather - slightly misty, but some blue in the sky. cool. Sun not fully risen yet
seem to have had a good nights sleep. My painful right arm, that had
caused so much trouble with sleep recently, seems to be almost
fully healed now. I had one minor twinge while getting into a
comfortable sleeping position, but it was no bother beyond that. I was
woken up by the cold this morning. That is a bit of a novelty lately,
although threre have been a couple of mornings recently where I have
woken up feeling rather cool. This morning I actually felt really cold.
The air outside is very fresh and was pouring down from the open window
directly onto my naked legs.
I was thinking about Christmas as I was waking up. It is not a very seasonal thing to do, but recently I was reminded by Iain about a dreadful poem I wrote last xmas day. I was reminded of Iain's reminder by the poem that Patricia showed me yesterday. My poem was about an awful xmas day (it is still readable if you download the pdf file for December 2003 - link on the calendar page), but it got me thinking about xmas, and my childhood memories of it. I actually have very few distinct memories of xmas day as a child. It all seems one happy blur, but I do have one distinct memory about boxing day. It may have been an individual boxing day, or general memory of many boxing days. It is a memory of a feeling that can only be described by a series of words - happy, safe, contented, satisfied. There is no memory of any action, but it consists purely of smell. That smell is a mixture of old cigar smoke, pine tree, oranges and possibly cooking. It is the first two which were most prominent, and the other two as slight undertones. As far as I can remember the only time my dad ever smoked cigars was at xmas. So I would come down early on boxing day and on opening the door to the front room I would be greeted by all these smells from the day before. These were smells that to a modern adult would probably be classified as just stale and polluted air, but to me it was just magical, a feeling that everthing was right and in its proper place. If I catch that smell now, and it has occured a few times, it just invokes a memory of happiness, but is also tinged with sadness of the loss of more innocent, carefree days. It is strange how something like stale cigar smoke has a far greater impact than the modern phenomena of aromatherapy oils.
With a job interview tomorrow, I have just two more effective days at school. Once that is over I can get back to the hedonism of a free life again, unless I really do get the job I am being interviewed for. I do not like to rate my chances in the interview. It might be OK, or maybe it won't. I think my chances are pretty fair. I meet all the qualifications, although as it is a supervisory job, virtually management, my experiences are a little limited. I am increasingly confident about being able to do the job, but I think a little more is needed before I will be accepted. It is a fairly small company and I have a feeling that much of the judging will be down to personalities. Provided the interviewer (who I think will be the owner of the company) is not some pompous idiot, I think I will be able to get on with him OK. It will then just be a case of trying to make him think I am the sort of person he would like to have round the place. Provided he hasn't forgotten that there is more to life than just making money I should be able to make some progress. If, on the other hand, his horizons do not stretch beyond the confines of his office, then it may be the case that I do not want to work for him ! I am not yet so desperate that I have to take the first job available. So I will be interviewing him as much as he will be interviewing me.
|Tuesday 10th August 2004
|Weather - bright and sunny, less humid
ends another day in school. It finished some time ago now, but I have
had to do a few other things before writing this. It was another day
where I learned very little, and anything I did should have little
impact on my job prospects. Some of the day was fun, in a masochistic
sort of way, much was boring, and just a few little bits were actually
enjoyable. As ever it was Patricia who made the day bearable. She did
one strange thing today. She gave me a poem to read and I am not sure
of the significance of it. It may have been intended to show how some
things do not easily translate from Spanish to English, or it may have
had a subtle message in it, but maybe too subtle for me to derive any
meaning beyond pure fantasy. I think I will miss Patricia when this
course is over.
Before going into school I called into the job centre. I was supposed to be getting my New Deal photocard that would give me half price bus and train tickets for the next 3 months. The miserable so and so's rejected my photo ! They said it was slightly too small, and that they didn't like the background. Apparently it should have been plain and not a pub wall ! I think they were just being very picky. My photocard for getting season tickets is far worse than the one I presented today, and yet it has been accepted by some very fierce ticket inspectors in its time.
|Weather - raining
am feeling much happier this morning. After I managed to accidently,
and painfully, untwist my shoulder muscles, or whatever I did, I have
almost full mobility back in my right arm. Some of the muscles still
feel a little weak, but that will pass soon. I'll worry about the
numbness in my little finger, and to a lesser extent the one next to
It is pouring with rain outside. That has lowered the humidity and the temperature. With luck the temperature in the classroom will be far more bearable today. Perhaps I will be able to stay dry while in class today - except that I'll be soaked through from the rain when I get there !
Before I go into school I will be calling into the job centre. Normally I would be signing on today. I am not sure whether I have to while in school, or not, but I want to get hold of my New Deal photocard to get half price travel for the next 3 months.
So, overall, I am feeling far more upbeat today. I managed a full nights sleep, although I did wake up a few times in the night, so I should not feel so tired today. Even the rain seems to be easing off a little. If my luck holds , the rain will have stopped when I leave the house in around 85 minutes time (just before 09.00).
|Monday 9th August 2004
|Weather - drizzle
I just had to make one more entry with what I am hoping is good news.
Nearly two hours ago I had a lay down on my bed hoping for a snooze. My
shoulder felt a little more tolerant, after some aspirin, and I decided
to see if I could lay on my side. I was able to - just, but it was still
a little uncomfortable. When I tried to get upright again my arm
slipped and I felt a searing bolt of pain in my shoulder. Since then my
arm is still sore, but I seem to have gained even more freedom of
movement to my right arm. I sill cannot get it behind my head, it is
just too painful to try, but I am hoping it might be possible in the
morning. It felt horrible going out without washing my hair this
morning, after being so hot and sticky yesterday, and I really want to
wash it soon. On Thursday morning, the morning of my job interview, it
will be essential. So it's fingers crossed that I'll be able to manage
it in the morning. I further hope that it is less humid tomorrow so
that it stays clean, and free from sweat, for the rest of day.
|Weather - hot and steamy with a storm brewing
was the worst day at school ever. The content was fine, but I just felt
so bad. I feel so very tired after all my lack of sleep, and my bad arm
was giving me a lot of intermittent pain. The high humidity did not help
either. There have been some developements with my arm. There is less
pain from the shoulder, but it can still be agonising if I make the
wrong movement. The range of movement, without pain, has increased, but
I keep testing those limits and each time it hurts - a lot ! I am
suffering from secondary pains now. With limited movement from the
shoulder I have been flexing the joints that do work to excess. My
wrist and elbow are now both sore. I wonder how long it will be before
my left handed typing and mouse action will start taking its toll on my
left hand ?
Before I go any further I must say hello to Patricia's friend. I'm sorry but I have no idea what your name is, but if you have taken up Patricia's recommendation you will be reading this. It seems that Patricia has been reading this diary, and that feels a little odd somehow. It is not exactly embarrassing, but something undefinable. Had I said anything bad it would be embarrassing, but then I would not have revealed it's existence to her. I think I feel a little uneasy about heaping praise on "teacher". At heart I am probably just a naughty schoolboy, and the code of the playground is never to say anything nice. However in this case I think I can say, without fear of embarrassment, that Patricia deserves it. I still maintain that she is doing a marvellous job under difficult circumstances. Not only that, but she is also a very nice and pleasant person. If she asks me to marry her again (one of her "breaking the ice" little teacher tricks) I would not dismiss it so quickly ! After all "¡ Usted es una señora encantadora !".
|Weather - dull,grey and raining
wasn't sure if I would be writing anything this morning. My right arm
still has limited functionality, but it seems that with patience I can
still slowly do this usng only my left hand. I did manage to get some
sleep last night. The nature of this odd malady has slightly changed
such that I was able to find just one position where I could sleep
without my arm hurting. It is just a shame that the position was
slightly uncomfortable for the rest of my body. In total I must have
had at least 5 hours sleep last night.
I think it is aspirin that gives the greatest pain relief for this particular malady. That suggests there is some sort of inflammation. I wonder if I have been bitten by something ? There is no obvious sign of a wound, but there is a tender area just just over the brow of my shoulder. I would like to take more aspirin, but I am a little sensitive to it. The last time I took it in any quantity I developed several nosebleeds.
I might consider going along to the hospital after school today, but before that I have several hurdles to overcome. I am not sure if I will be able to take an effective shower this morning, although I managed it yesterday morning. Another painful task will be putting a t-shirt on, although that will be nothing compared to taking it off again, especially if it is soaked with sweat and the material is clinging to my skin.
This was almost the fourth paragraph to start with "I", but I thought that sounded to egotistical. So instead I started with the last, specially contrived, sentence. I was going to describe what my arm is like in slightly greater detail. There is no barrier to movement except for pain. It can be placed in any position manually provided it needs no muscular effort. I conclude from this, rightly or wrongly, that the joints are all OK. In many ways it is like the after effects of a really hard punch to the top to the arm. Except that the effect of that wears off within hours, if not minutes. It is lifting the weight of my own arm that causes all the pain. I am able to carry things like heavy bags of shopping with no discomfort provided they hang straight down. It is incredibly painful to try and raise my hand to mouth level, and yet if I grasp the side of a door and use my fingers to "walk" my hand up the door frame I can easily raise my arm to head height, or higher. I have to do the same thing in reverse to come down. If I were to just let go, the muscular effort to support my arm as I brought it down would be (has been !!!) total agony ! All the pain is centred around just below, but can include, the shoulder. The elbow, and wrist, regions seem to be in perfect working order apart from an occasional mild ache where I am probably using unfamiliar muscles there, to raise my hand, instead of raising the whole arm. (I hope that makes some sort of sense).
Being at school today is probably a good thing. If I should be resting the arm, then leaving it draped across the desk is probably the best I'll be able to manage. On the other hand (sorry for the pun), if I should be exercising it then it may do more harm than good. First of all, before I consider the final details of that, I have to go through the painful process of washing, and dressing. I had better get started !
|Sunday 8th August 2004
|Weather - very hot and sunny
could be the last update for a little while. My arm is giving me a lot
of pain and I think it is being made worse by using the mouse and
typing. I am doing this whole entry using my left hand. It is not that
easy, although I seem to be making good progress.
I have been experimenting with a cold compress (actually a bag of frozen peas straight from the freezer) on the areas where most of the pain is coming from. Sometimes it does seem to help a little, but the effect is very short lived. I do wonder if I will be able to get any sleep tonight. After I finished writing in the early hours of this morning I did a some more work with this computer. It was actually light before I went to bed. Once I was back on my bed the difficulties of finding a comfortable position arose again. I doubt that I added more than another hours sleep to the meagre amount I got before coming back downstairs again. I have tried to get some sleep in during the day, but the heat and the pain defeated me. I do feel very tired at the moment, and I do hope I will get some sleep tonight. If these pains persist tomoorow it is going to make being in class an unpleasant experience. As attendance at school is mandatory I have little choice but to go in. Besides I want to go in so I can tell Patricia off for deserting me in my hour of need ! (See third paragraph, yesterday morning)
|Weather - a warm sticky night
may well be wondering what I am doing up at 2 o'clock in the morning.
It could be that it is feeling rather too sticky to get comfortable in
bed, and that is indeed some of the problem. The main problem is that I
am in pain. I seem to have an affliction that is similar to one that
has affected one or other of my legs in the past. This time the trouble
is in my upper right arm. It feels like severe muscle strain. Whenever
I try to move my arm in certain directions it is very painful, and yet,
at rest, in some positions I feel no pain at all. The unfortunate part
is that there are no comfortable positions when lying down in bed. In
the 2, or 3, times I have had something similar happen to my leg it has
come on out of the blue, stayed a few days, and then just as
mysteriously vanished again. I don't think my leg has been affected for
over 10 years now, and the times it did happen were spread over the
previous 10 years to that. I hope this pain in my arm will disappear
again in the same way that it just appeared for no apparent reason.
That may not be totally true because I have a vague notion that one
night, a few days ago, I was reaching behind my head to adjust my
pillows and I got a bit of a twinge like I had pulled a muscle. I think
it happened in the middle of the night and it is difficult to know
whether it was actually part of a dream. The first indications of this
pain were a couple of days ago when reaching out to use the computer
mouse. Since then it has waxed and waned until today when it has got
particularly bad. Tonight it has peaked and many movements can cause
very severe pain. Principally it is when reaching out for something. It
is not the stretch that causes the pain, but the effort of raising the
weight of my arm. If I support the weight using the other hand the pain
is a lot less. One possibility is that it is repetitive strain injury
from too much keyboard and mouse usage. If it is then I ought to stop
using the PC for a little while, but that would be like asking a crack
head to stop taking drugs. Another possibility is that it is a
condition know as phlebitus. I know little about that except I believe
it is when something interferes with the blood flow to a muscle and
that muscle goes into fatigue.
In other news today I have had a very pleasant drink with some of the ex lads and lasses from Mastercare, as well as two who still work for the old company. The news from the old company is that it is still lurching from crisis to crisis. One fascinating piece of information is that it is now unofficially estimated that moving workshops cost the company £10,000,000. Much of that was in written off stock where it could not be repaired in time, or had been damaged in transportation. Add to that the cost in redundancy wages, the kitting out of a new workshop, and the loss in productivity caused by having to hire new staff who were barely up to the job, and the figure of £10 million begins to make sense. Of course the ridiculous thing is that huge amount of money would have paid the rent on the old workshop for years ahead and the move would have had no justification. I am forgetting the final part of the cost of moving to the new workshop. Just recently it was discovered that the sprinkler systen in the warehouse was not installed correctly. The contractors who were called to correct it managed to do something that allowed half a million pounds worth (or more) of expensive plasma screen TV's to be drenched in water at 4am.They have now had to be written off, but the ultimate cost of moving premises just keeps on rising. In the strange twilight zone world of Mastercare there is a sharp difference in opinion. Up to a certain management rank it is acknowledged that it was a total disaster, and yet higher up it is seen as a triumph. (cue The Twilight Zone theme music........).
Other good news from today is that Alison (ex-Mastercare admin) has finally given me the old laptop that she said she might be able to pass on to me earlier in the year. It is an IBM 365X. This uses a 120MHz Pentium processor, a 722 Mbyte hard drive and 40 Mbytes of RAM. It is rather battered and the casing has broken off around one of the hinges. Apparently it did not work, but seems to work for me. The hard disk does have a few bad sectors, and there may, or may not be a fault in the memory module. Reseating it seems to have cured it, but it was intermittent to start with. It seems that it could have picked up a few nasties from the internet as I found what appeared to be a few rogue diallers on the hard disk. Before I let it loose on the internet I will have to work out a way of getting some anti-virus stuff on it. Unortunately it is only equipped with a floppy disk drive and no CD. This means I will have to make alternative arrangements to get files bigger that 1.4 Mbyte on it. I have a 2 Gbyte hard disk that will physically fit inside, and if it works OK I may try a linux installation on it. Once again installation will be a bit tricky and I may have to do something creative to get it to work.
I think the two Nurofen Plus I took a little while ago are starting to work. So now would probably be a good time to try and get back to sleep while the pain is a little less than it was when I first started writing.
|Saturday 7th August 2004
|Weather - bright and sunny with clear skies
on a Saturday I appear to be up early. I was woken up by several very
loud crows somewhere nearby. I may well go back to bed a little later.
I do feel a little tired this morning. After a week of getting up, and
staying up, early, I had intended to have a lie in this morning, and
tomorrow. As I think I mentioned yesterday, a whole week in school is
very much like a week at work and so the weekend has taken on a
significance that is normally lost while being out of work with each
day being just like any other day.
I did mention it was my intention that Patricia (our course tutor) should join us for a drink after class. She accepted my invitation with no hesitation and joined three of us for a drink in The Rising Sun pub which is literally next door to the school. I was surprised that she seemed to know so little about English pubs and the range of drinks available. I am not sure how long she has been in England, but I am sure it must be a couple of years, at least. I find it odd, and a little sad, that she has not learned the delights of the English pub. Maybe no one has ever asked her to go into one before. It makes me think that her semi-confidential asides about our particular class being special are not just some standard teaching phrase intended to boost morale.
Unfortunately our visit to the pub started a little earlier than the official end of the day and Debbie, the school admin assistant, came looking for Patricia and so Patricia rushed off, leaving half an inch of beer in the bottom of her glass, to find out what was happening. She promised to come back, but never re-appeared. That was a great pity, and on Monday morning I will tell her I felt badly let down by her. I shall tell her I felt let down for a totaly flippant reason. One of the services she has gone on about at great length is to sit in with us if we felt we needed support when on the phone to employers. Well a couple of hours later, when I was getting quite merry, I got a phone call from a potential employer inviting me to an interview next Thursday. For some it would have been a worse case scenario of the type that was the basis of one of the lectures about dealing with employers on the phone without being prepared. It is obviously hard for me to be objective about how I actually handled the situation, but it felt perfectly alright, and it did not bother me in the least. However, I shall tell Patricia that she let me down by not "holding my hand" while taking the phone call.
A little while after Patricia left us, another of our party (Brian) went home leaving just myself, Scott and his girlfriend Taz. Scott is rather younger than me, but also has his roots in rock music. As such we have got on OK from day one. I was totally amazed when I found out that Scott had given me a big build up to Taz. I think it almost possible that she had come along just to meet this so called great guy. Taz is a great girl. She has good looks and an amazing and friendly personality, a real treasure. It was quite early on in the session, long before I started to get drunk, that I warned Scott, and Taz, that I would have to give her a hug when we left. I am rarely so forward, but I seem to be becoming more so these days. It does make me wonder why I had been so reticent earlier. In fact a year or two ago I doubt I would have been so bold as to ask "teacher" out for an after class drink.
We had a great time in the pub, and must have been in there for something like 3 hours, maybe a little longer. Finally it was time to go. As we were leaving I was trying to plan the best time to give Taz the hug I had promised her (and myself). What actually happened was that she beat me to it. She gave me a nice hug and I gave her a quick kiss, which may have been on the lips, but my memory is a little hazy after all the drink. I went home feeling totally elated after a day when so many things went well. The first good thing happened very early on. I found a pound coin in the road on my way to the school. Then I got the thumbs up from Patricia about my new job related web pages (HERE). Next was the success of getting Patricia to the pub. Then spending a great time with the delightful Taz, and finally, the icing on the cake, getting that hug from her. I am glad that I now do this diary to record such happy days.
The highlight for today will, with luck, be a double highlight. This afternoon I will be off the The William IV to meet up with the old Mastercare people. It will be great exchanging news and views with them. Hopefully there will be some news about the decline and fall of the workshop empire. Most meetings have come with news of one disaster or another. Alison has e-mailed me to ask if I still want her old laptop. I replied that I did, and I think she will be bring it along to the pub when we meet today. That will be the second highlight if it happens. I believe the laptop is so old that it is almost clockwork, and that the main spring may have broken. I think there is a fair chance that I will be able to get it going again, although I expect I will have to rebuild the battery pack to get any useful life from it if I want to use it mobile.
If I am in any fit state of mind I may do an update later this evening.
|Friday 6th August 2004
|Weather - brightening up for another hot muggy day
end of today will mark the half way point through the Gateway To Work
course, or as I prefer to call it, school. In a slightly masochistic
way I am enjoying it. It really reminds me of going to the BT training
school at Old Street, and in particular some of the easier courses
attended. Courses where you could put your mind on autopilot for a lot
of the time. Thinking about it a little more, it is actually wrong when
I say I am enjoying it. I am not really, and I still have some
resentment about being forced to go on it, but having started, it is
something that comes so naturally to me. The routine is one that I came
to know so well from those BT training courses. Maybe the idea of
enjoyment in this case comes from the fact that I do not have to do
that blasted journey to Old Street tube station every day of the
I cannot predict what time we will finish today, but I suspect it may be around 15.00. There are plans afoot for at least a couple of us to pop over to the local Weatherspoons pub (conveniently almost opposite the school) for a pint or two. I hope that Patricia will be able to join us, and I would like to buy her a drink in recognition of all the effort she has put into trying to make the course more interesting (against impossible odds), and for all the effort she has put into trying to help some people in the class. There are some teachers who I would describe as just reading a script, but Patricia comes across as one who has a genuine enthusiasm for the job. It may be that she is just a really good actress, and in some ways that must be part of the skill in teaching, but she really does leave an impression that she is very warm hearted and really cares about our success. I know that some of the others in the class agree with this. So she deserves a reward for all her efforts.
After this week I wonder if I'll be able to treat the weekend as a real weekend. While out of work the days do tend to be similar, although I am still aware of others work patterns. One thing I am hoping for is that I'll be able to have a lie in tomorrow. I don't expect to get up until 08.00, or maybe even later. I won't be able to totally put my feet up. Tomorrow is the first Saturday of the month and time to meet up with the ex (and probably one current) Mastercare people. I think I missed last month. So I had better put some effort into going this month.
|Thursday 5th August 2004
|Weather - night has fallen and the air is cooling down after a hot, muggy day|
I have left it a little late to write much now, but you may be
interested to know there is new section added to my homepage. THIS will take you straight there.
|Weather - slightly grey, misty perhaps
I enjoyed last night in the pub. It was not an exceptionally exciting drink, but definitely worth going for. In a fit of total discipline I went straight to bed, via brushing my teeth, as soon as I came in. I was probably asleep sometime before midnight. Unfortunately I woke up at just gone 03.30 and only managed some intermittent sleep for the rest of the night. I rather expect I'll be doing a lot of yawning in class today. It might also affect my intention to go and have an early evening drink with the lads, and more importantly, the lasses at The Herne.
When I woke up at 03.30 I had been dreaming about being in class. I can only remember the last few moments which was Patricia saying that it was one O'clock and time for lunch. She then added that we would resume at two O'clock, but that the first hour would be "creative studies", and that she would see us again at three O'clock. It was a coded way of giving us a 2 hour lunch break. It could be a shame that it has not happened for real, but on the other hand 2 hours could be a little boring unless it was spent in a pub. That would be nice if it were not for the fact that it would make the afternoon very unproductive.
One unexpected, and probably unintended, positive effect has come out of this course so far. Against all the things we were supposed to learn, I have found it to be a useful yardstick to judge myself against the others on the course. Such things are highly subjective, but I think I come out quite well. It does give me confidence in one potential job I am going for. That job is Worshop Supervisor. It hovers periliously close to management, and is something I have only done in small, easy to swallow, doses before. (Although having said that I was in charge of Rushey Green telephone exchange for over 6 months, and that included the upheaval of a major building extension taking place). Since observing others on this course I believe that I am far more focussed on what I want to achieve (by comparison), and have far more to offer than just my talent for electronics. So perhaps being a workshop supervisor is now a little less scary that I once thought. If I get the chance I would like to mention this to Patricia and see what she says about it. Maybe she'll boost my ego a little more.
Since starting this ridiculously intensive work search some feedback has come in. So far nothing positive has come for employment prospects, but I was pleasantly suprised to get a positive comment on this website. So thanks to Chris Price at Enterprise Recruitment for saying you enjoyed my website.
|Wednesday 4th August 2004
|Weather - hot and sunny
that's another school day over. Just another 7 days in the classroom
left. Like previous days it was good in parts, but mostly very boring
with lots of hanging around with little to do. Patricia does her best
to try and keep it interesting where possible, but she has no choice
but to work at the pace of the slowest person in the class. To pass
some of the time I even took to editing some errors in my C.V. This is
not my original C.V. in either of the mark 1, 2, or 3 versions, but one
specially made by the staff at the school. One omission was my own
fault - I could not remember my own mobile number at the time all the
information was collected. There was one typing error, and I wanted to
include just a little more information about my time working at B.T. In
fact I undertook several clerical tasks that would normally be done by
the staff there. Perhaps I am finding a new vocation in life - a
clerical assistant, perhaps even secretary. If only I could type at 50
wpm with no errors I could almost seriously consider doing something
It is just possible that when this page is viewed it will look different again. I was having trouble printing out an e-mail. The text was coming out huge for some reason. I first tried changing the font size in Mozilla preferences, but I suspect that only affects how the text is displayed, but it may also be affecting how this text is being composed. Certainly as I type this it is being shown in quite small letters, but as far as I know the html code being generated just says to display "standard text". I finally managed to print the e-mail correctly by selecting "generic postscript printer" in the printer preferences. Now all this is rather strange because a little while that was the only option available. Now I have the option of Epson Colour Stylus 640, which is correct, but it has a suffix of "@33" on the end. I am thinking that the 33 means increase the size by 3 times because that seems to be the effect I am getting. Unfortunately I do not seem to be able to alter the "@33" to experiment with it. As I have achieved the printout I wanted I think I'll leave the mystery of "@33" for another day.
Tonight is definitely booze night. Iain has e-mailed to say he will be there, and hopefully Kevin will not have any problems and will be able to make it. I have not heard from Howard, but I have a suspicion he may be around.
|Weather - slightly murky, but dry and fresh
is a slightly early time to be up, but it is too late to attempt to get
more sleep. If I went back to sleep there is always the danger that I
would oversleep. I can't remember what time I went to bed, I think it
may have been 22.30, but I do remember it was some time before I fell
asleep. It is going to make for a very long day, today. Tonight I
should be drinking in The Ram with Kevin and Iain, and maybe Howard as
well. I suspect that by 23.00 I shall be feeling pretty knackered. I
know one thing, I shall not be staying up to watch recording of The
Bill, and Railcops, when I come in from the pub as I have done on
previous Wednesday nights.
The past two evenings, after coming in from school, I have felt fairly tired. It has not been the length of the day as the days end early, but it is partly the strain of trying to keep alert when nothing of significance is happening, and partly the effect of baking in the heat of the classroom. It can be extremely hot in there, and there is not even a fan, let alone any air conditioning. Fortunately the fears I expressed on the morning before the first day started, have not been true. I was worried that the room would be full of smelly degenerates, but by and large, most people there are OK. We have even started a small "smoking club" where once in the morning, and once in the afternoon, we are to be found outside having a fag. It is fortunate that the morning and afternoon are fairly short as it is really pushing my endurance going for so long without a fag. That is one of the reasons why I prefer to do any computer work here instead of using the provided facilities. Here I can relax with a fag waiting for searches to complete, or waiting for the printer to finish printing. Plus no one can stop me eating and drinking while using the computer. I always thought it was traditional for a computer keyboard to become clogged with pizza and coffee. Not that I am in the habit of eating pizza, and I certainly don't drink coffee, but it is the principle of the thing !
This morning feels very fresh. It may have been the cold that woke me up so early. I tried opening the bottom half of the window when I first sat down to do this writing, but it felt like an icy blast. So I closed the bottom half and opened the top. It seems to be a good compromise between too much cold air, and exchanging the hot stuffy air in the house. Last night I slept on the bed (not in it) and had the window open all night. My legs, being nearest the window, did feel pretty cool when I woke up. The sky looks to be a light milky colour all over, but I think the sun will soon break through and the temperature will start to rise quite sharply. Maybe that will trigger some more thunderstorms later in the day. I expect Nelly will be more cautious about staying out this afternoon. Unsurprisingly she has not even hinted that she has thought of going out this morning. After yesterdays soaking she probably thinks that the garden is not a good place to be.
I think it is time to get washed and dressed, and then to start my internet searches for potential jobs. I can't really say that I am looking forward to it. I am expecting that all I will do is go over the same ground as yesterday, and see the same old inappropriate jobs that have been appearing for the last few weeks.
|Tuesday 3rd August 2004
|Weather - dry again after torrential rain, thunder and lightning.
! There was a huge storm this afternoon ! The thunder and lightning
crashed all around the "school", and the rain came down like stair
rods. Unfortunately poor old Nelly was out in it and got soaked to the
skin. I had come home during my dinner break and was doing some more
job searching type stuff on the PC here. It was very hot and humid as I
tried to work and I had the window wide open. Nelly jumped out and so I
decided to leave her out for the afternoon. It did occur to me that it
might possibly rain, but I had no idea just how much rain was due to
come down. Anyway it was only to be for two and a half hours. When I
finally got home, three quarters of an hour earlier than I had been
expecting, the rain had finally stopped, but Nelly was just a sodden
mass as she squelched in the back door.
It was not too bad at "school" today. There were periods of boredom, but a few things got sorted. Apart from the pressure to keep applying for more and more jobs, I don't think I will be benefitting that much from it. Like the last time I went on one of these, some twelve years ago, I think about 3 hours out of the 60 (1 hour out of the 30 hours, last time) will have been of some direct use to me. I do regard it as a bit of a game, and as such, I am happy to play along with it. I am actually playing far harder than I need to. My day starts several hours before "lessons" actually begin. I have done most internet searches before I leave home, and today I had a quick session in The Job Centre to collect some more details on a couple of jobs I found on the Job Centre's own web site. At lunchtime I come home and carry on. Today I e-mailed off one job application (yesterday it was two) and printed the envelopes to send off some speculative letters to potential employers. So that was 12 envelopes in all - 6 outgoing and 6 SAE's. Since coming home, and after wringing out Nelly, I have typed out a speculative letter for approval by Patricia (out "teacher"), and I have included in it some information that did not appear in the example that we were shown. That information revolves around the New Deal Government inititiave that can provide up to £75 a week, for 6 months, towards an employer taking me on and paying my wages. I thought it important to provide some information as to where a potential employer could find out about The New Deal scheme.
It was my intention to go over to The Herne after school today ( I think I'll stop putting school in inverted commas), but with the torrential rain I decided against it. In fact it is dry now, and has been since about 16.00, so I could have gone. When I phoned Iain, in the middle of the thunderstorm, to say I was not going, I originally suggested that I would try again tomorrow. A little while ago I suddenly realised that tomorrow is a Wednesday so it will be drinking in The Ram night. I think I'll have another try for The Herne on Thursday night.
So all I have to do now is a little research about my previous salaries for a job application form, and then i can put my feet up for the rest of the evening.
|Weather - clearish sky, bright and sunny
the second time this year the cool night air has brought down some
smelly pollution. Once again it smells like a mixture of vehicle
exhaust and burning plastic. It was most noticable when I woke up,
feeling cold, at around 04.30. Since then the sun has warmed the air
enough that it appears to be returning to a higher level. It could be
my imagination but the thin, misty clouds that I can see seem to have a
slightest brown/yellow colouration.
I have decided that I ought to change the format of this diary page slightly. It means going back to a format that I once used and then stopped for reasons that are lost in the mists of time. The idea is that the latest entry is always at the top of the page. So if I add some more, later today, it will appear above this writing now. The chronology would then be the consistent by hour and by day. It makes my writing more consistent when viewed as a web page, but it does not really help when printed out. I could explore an alternative way of doing things where the page address stays the same every day and it just contains just one days writing. At the end of each day I would rename that page and store it as a dated entry. It would mean some extra work for me, but that is the way most "blogging" sites seem to work - except they have scripts that automate the process. Maybe at the end of the year I will archive all the previous stuff and start afresh with this alternative method.
In just under two hours my second day at "school" starts. I will be starting earlier than required so I can call into the job centre to find out some details about a potential job. Then the tedium starts until 16.00. I hope we get away early again because it is still my intention to go to The Herne afterwards for a couple of pints.
|Monday 2nd August 2004
|Weather - very hot, sunny and sticky.|
my first day on the "Gateway To Work" course is over. Only another 9 to
go. To be truthfull, apart from the loss of liberty, and the steaming
temperature of the classroom it was not toooooo bad. Our lecturer is a
most pleasant, and good looking 40 year old Spanish lady. I say
Spanish, but that may not be totally accurate. Her native tongue is
Spanish, but I think she may have said that she was born in Argentina.
The actual hours we have to attend are from 10.00 to 16.00. It is a big
shame that it could not be 09.00 to 15.00 (or even better 08.00 to
14.00). So far there have not been any great revelations, and in some
ways I am not expecting any. One small area of contention that has
cropped up already is over the format of C.V.'s I don't think anyone
there totally appreciates the industry I want to be in. With so many
interrelated disciplines I feel it is important to condense my skills
into easily managed packets. To attempt to list all possible skills
would make the size of the document unwieldy, and yet too few could
miss out on something important. In my version of the C.V. I am relying
on someone with engineering skills to recognise what I have written.
Unfortunately someone in Personnel, with no engineering background
would be looking for something totally different, or at the very least
would not recognise an alternative description of the same task, or
maybe even realise that one task has to include another. I'll not
really try and explain that here.
|Weather - dry and rather fresh
sky does not look very blue yet, but I think the sun will burst through
and it will be another hot sunny day like yesterday. I just hope that
the classrooms for the stupid back to work course are air conditioned.
I don't fancy being cooped up with a load of smelly degenerates on a
hot sticky day. For that matter I don't fancy being cooped up with
anyone, although there could be some exceptions to this general
principle, but I want to be free, or in the words of The Monkeys, "I
Wanna Be Free". It would be appropriate to quote some lines from that
song, but I cannot remember enough of them to make any sense.
There is little else to add about yesterday after my late night entry, but one little thing did happen after I had saved the entry. It was not a nice thing. In fact it was rather unpleasant. I happened to glance up, and there on the ceiling, just behind where I was sitting, was a huge tarantula. Well maybe not a tarantula. Perhaps it was more like a rhinocerous eating spider. It just sat there, upside down, smirking at me. So I grabbed a can of freezer spray (primarily used for freezing electronic components during fault finding) and gave it several big blasts. After a while the thing was almost frozen, and just hanging by a short bit of web. I turned away for a second to put the freezer spray back on the shelf and when I looked up it had gone. I found it doing the breast stroke in my glass of coke. The coke was in a pint beer glass, the straight type, and there was only an inch left in the bottom of the glass. The spider was so big that it could almost touch both sides of the glass simultaneously. Fortunately it was not too big to flush down the sink. Or did it ? It may still be lurking under the rim of a plate ready to exact its revenge when I do some washing up !
I think that is all for this morning. There is every chance that later on today I will write up a big moan about the silly course I start at 09.30. If you never read any more it is because the course is longer than the fortnight I think it to be and I have thrown myself under a bus !
|Sunday 1st August 2004
|Weather - sun setting after hot dry day
been a very hot day today. Or at least that is how it felt to me. Some
of my discomfort may be down to having an unusually hearty breakfast
after visiting Tesco's this morning. By way of recompense I have mainly
eaten fruit this evening, but I did indulge in one little luxury. It
was something I have not had for countless years. Something that was
delicious - sliced banana in custard. The banana was not fully ripe,
and the custard was cold, but it was wonderful. The custard was
ready-to-eat stuff, and it was low fat, but I suspect that it was
probably laden with sugar even though the carton was adorned with the
"healthy eating" logo that Tesco uses. I should really have checked to
see how many calories it contained before even buying it, but why stop
when you are enjoying yourself.
It has actually been a rather boring day today. One highlight was a phone call I made to someone I have not seen in years. His name was Tony, and he used to be the singer and guitarist in the band New Cross. He also wrote most, if not all, their wonderful songs. I was surprised to learn that he works in a college just a couple of miles up the road from me. It is often difficult to know how well you will be received after not seeing someone for something like 25 years, but it went fine. Once I have got this stupid back-to-work course over we will be arranging to have a drink together.
During the course of writing this Kevin has turned up and I am now using a wonderful 17 inch monitor. I also have four spare PC's and a printer for Iain. I think it is too late now for Iain to pick it up, but I am sure something can be arranged for during the week. Perhaps Tuesday, late afternoon/early evening would be a good time. Afterwards we could possibly pop over to The Herne for just a couple of pints, but just a couple !!
Although I started writing this at 20.00, after a few interuptions, and setting up the new monitor, it is 21.33 and I am off to bed soon.
|Weather - bright and dry|
original plan was to design this months diary page yesterday. Somehow I
never got round to it. Hence I had to get up early and do some heavy
thinking. (Well heavy for a Sunday morning !) After much contemplating
I came to the conclusion that I could not think of anything that was
much different to the July design. The only major change is that I have
decided to try the date, time and weather on separate lines. It does
give me a little extra space to the right of them to put something else
in, although what has not come to me yet.
Yesterday morning I spent hours editing and printing some photographs. They are from the same set that I used last month (here). In the printed versions I have done more cropping and enlarging, and added some other improvements. I am very pleased with a full 10x8 picture of Ruth. One difficulty I had I did not really appreciate until I started printing the pictures. Many of the pictures were taken under a blue umbrella in the beer garden. That added a certain amount of blue cast to the pictures. With small images it is not so noticable, but when thay are blown up it adds all sorts of strange effects. It was handy that Iain was wearing a bright white polo shirt as I could use that as a reference to rebalance the colour. Now most pictures show healthy skin tones instead of a strange pallid colour.
I was anticipating that Kevin would be dropping off the surplus computer junk yesterday. In preparation I spent a good 20 minutes clearing a space in the hall to dump the 4 computer base units. I am still not sure what I will do with them, but I think that I can off load one of them to Lee. Another I might use as a replacement firewll box. My existing firewall box, using Smoothwall, is a bit of a clunky old thing, and I have my suspicions that it may be slowing things down a little while "surfing the net". The latest news is that Kevin will be dropping the stuff off sometime this afternoon. (I'll give you a ring when it's here Iain - in case you can't wait to get you're hands on the printer).
I am not sure what I will be doing today. Obviously I will be having a quick poke around the computers when they come, but beyond that I'll make it up as I go along. In the unlikely event that Lee drops off some money he owes me I could be tempted to go for a quick drink with Iain if he does pick his printer up. Perhaps it would be at The Herne so I could show Max and Ruth the pictures that they want to see. But with only less than a fiver in small change in my back pocket I don't think I'll be going anywhere.