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Thursday 30th June 2005

08.00 BST

Weather - intermittent drizzle

 No special plans for today.
 Yesterday deviated from most plans that I had predicted in the morning. Jodie decided that she had more urgent things to do than use my studio. So no visit from Jodie. In the evening I first had a call from Kevin to say he was sick and would not be going to the pub. That was followed a few minutes later by a call from Iain to say he was sick and would not be going to the pub either. So there was no drinking last night. As much as I would have enjoyed a drink there is a positive side to it. I have saved £10 that I can more usefully use to buy tobacco. Thus avoiding one area of potential stress.

 It sounds as if Kevin has a summer cold, but Iain's illness could be more worrying if an unlikely chain of events has happened. It starts with Ivor's daughter who recently had mumps. According to Iain who works with Ivor, Ivor is currently sick, and one of the symptoms is swollen glands in the neck. He thinks he may have contracted mumps, but so far there is no definite diagnosis of this. Iain, whose symptoms have not really been described, is worried that he, in turn, may have caught something, possibly mumps, from Ivor. So staying clear of Ivor and Iain sounds like a prudent thing to do. At least until there is good evidence that they are not contagious ! Meanwhile I remain fit and well. By fit I mean that I can still run to the toilet when the need arises, and by well I mean I still have a pulse.

 I felt like I was quite busy yesterday, and yet apart from the hours I spent in my workshop I cannot seem to account for most of the other hours in the day. I spent a couple of hours in my workshop during the afternoon, but stopped in plenty of time to cool off and eat ready to go the pub a few hours later. When it turned out that there was no drinking going on I was able to watch The Bill instead of recording it (whick I could not have done because I still have not fixed my VCR - I could do that today maybe ? ). After The Bill had finished I had a flick around the channels but could only find something like Miss Marple in the Big Brother House on Love Island watching Wimbledon while solving the crimes of East Enders and cooking a celebrity meal (or something). I was already psched up for a late evening so I went back into my workshop. By 23.00 I had finished what I was doing, and I didn't even need any drinking up time !  I was still alert so I turned on the TV again and watched a repeat of "Missing, Presumed Wiped" which was one of several programmes about the BBC's efforts to recover some of their missing archive material. That was followed by another worthwhile repeat of "A Natural History Of The British Isles". It was an episode that I had not seen before, or at least in its entirety. Fascinating stuff !

 Today I have no special plans. It is possible that Jodie may make another attempt to use the studio today. Probably the best use of my time today would be to attempt an overhaul of my VCR. It is funny how after being out of work for so long I still dislike working on stuff  like TV's and VCR's at home. It's partly that I don't really have the facilities to do this kind of work, and partly that I do not have easy access to many of the spare parts required. One day I will succeed in keeping a large bench area clear so I can work on smaller things like VCR's with far greater ease that I can do so now. Today, if I do take the VCR apart, it will be a major struggle to clear enough bench area to work on it.
Wednesday 29th June 2005

06.00 BST

Weather - cool and damp after heavy overnight rain.

Following a small change in fortune I now have a budget of £10 for drinking tonight. Earlier on, during the afternoon, I expect Jodie will be over to use the studio, and even earlier than that I may well be spending a little time in my workshop.
 Strange as it may seem, I can't seem to remember what I did yesterday morning. I think I may have spent a little time in my workshop, but perhaps a little longer watching the Discovery channel (or something similar). This is one of the problems of having to sign on at 15.30. It dominates the whole of the day until the deed is actually done. I do, sort of, recall that as the morning progressed the grey sky cleared up and there was some sunshine.

 Just after midday I had a visitor who provided me with a little windfall. It wasn't much, but enough to do a little shopping and have a drink tonight. Slowly 15.30 approached and I went to sign on. It was bright and sunny and starting to warm up. Signing on was OK. I managed to circumvent the boring job search by taking along printouts of just what they would find on their own computer - not much, and nothing of interest to me. When  finished there I came home via Tesco. And guess what ? I actually remembered the Tabasco sauce this time !  As well as buying some basic stuff to put in the freezer I noticed that there was a special offer on some Tesco own brand semi luxury ice ceam. I think it was two tubs for £2. It was hot and sunny outside so I yielded to temptation and bought two tubs. I have to say that the cherrylicious flavour was exceptionally nice. As well as a cherry flavour syrup it had real glace cherries in it. I dread to think what it did to my blood sugar level, but it was only a brief departure from the straight and narrow.

 After several hours of sunshine the sky clouded over again, and by 20.00 it was raining. I missed the worst of the rain here, but nearby there was a loud thunderstorm taking place. The thunder and lightning circled around for several hours before things quietened down. It does seem strange that the past few thunderstorms have never actually got to be overhead. I have seen bright lighning in the sky, but the thunderclap has always been at least 10 - 15 seconds later. There are a few high cranes around here and I suspect they are silently discharging the clouds. Last year those cranes were not up and I am sure there were a few occasions when a flash of lighning would be followed a few seconds later by a bone shaking clap of thunder.

 As  have been doing for a little while now, I went to bed soon after 21.00 to read in bed (last night it was very warm so I actually read on my bed). While reading I listened to the radio (Arrow Classic Rock from Holland on 675KHz). The amount of static was stupendous, but by 23.00 it had quietened down a lot. In what seems a contradiction to that, it was about then that there was a really heavy downpour of rain. I braced myself for being rattled out of bed by thunder, but it never came.  At midnight I had finished my book, and the rain had eased off, perhaps even stopped, and I fell asleep. This morning the sky is still very grey, but it is not raining, and the air is fresh and cool.
Tuesday 28th June 2005

06.30 BST

Weather - cool with light grey sky

 I have one important appointment for today. At 15.30 I sign on. It is an awful time to have to sign on, and will interfere with my whole day.
 You could say that yesterday went pretty much to plan. Not that there was much of a plan to start with. I spent most of the morning "photocopying" a 32 page document. This was done using the PC and document scanner. With access to a real photocopier it would have taken 5 minutes, but I used the resources to hand. Using the PC and scanner does have one advantage over an ordinary photocopier. I now have the document backed up as electronic files. It wasn't the scanning that took so much time. It was the printing that took ages. My printer is slow at the best of times, but having to recharge the black ink cartridge halfway through made for snails pace printing. For one thing I had to go back and reprint half the pages, and then there was all the mucking about trying to get the ink to flow smoothly. The recommendation is that the cartridge is allowed to settle for 24 hours before use. This gives time for the ink to soak through and the bubbles to disperse. If I were sensible I would have done just that and done the printing this morning, but I was impatient. It took most of the morning, but it is done now.

 So that was the first part of the plan - doing stuff on the PC. The second part, doing stuff in my workshop also happened, but a bit later in the day. During the afternoon I watched some TV. There was an interesting old black and white film on about Rommel, The Desert Fox. When that had finished I lay down on my bed, did a little reading, and at about the same time I am due to sign on today, I fell asleep. This is the problem with having to sign on at 15.30. If I were at work I would be winding down at that time. Well perhaps not winding down exactly, but I would be reluctant to start anything new so close to home time.  Far better to coast through finishing an existing job, or get the paperwork up to date. So having to drop everything and go and sign on at 15.30 is very irritating.

 After my little snooze I did go into my workshop and start doing some "work". After several hours I thought I had done well, but it didn't work ! I think I may have connected up some tiny surface mount transistors incorrectly. If so, that will be fairly easy to correct today, but if not then it will be out with all the test equipment to find out what has gone wrong.

 I'm not sure when I left my workshop, but I think it was around 19.00. For the rest of the evening I slobbed around. I cooked some dinner and watched TV. I thought I may go to bed to do some reading at around 21.00, but I got distracted by the internet and didn't get onto my bed until 22.00. After 30 - 40 minutes reading I became aware of some noise from the garden. I correctly guessed that it was a fox. In fact it was two foxes finishing off the stray cats leftovers. I sneaked downstairs with a torch for a better look. Upon peeking through the curtains I found that the stray cat was sitting on the windowsill with the two foxes milling around it a couple of feet away. It seemed more perturbed by my face appearing in close up.  It was not exactly trapped where it was. It is young and agile and could have leapt onto the adjacent fence if it needed an escape route.  The new fence is some 6 - 8 inches higher than the old one, but Schiba made that leap look so easy.  Even Nelly almost made it to the old fence. So I have no doubt the stray cat could make it with ease. Once I appeared the foxes made a quick exit, and the stray cat followed a little way to "see them off the premises". It then stood guard while I went back to bed.

 At this point in time it looks increasingly unlikely that I will have any cash for drinking this week. I had been hoping that the little job I finished over the weekend would sponsor a small round for Wednesday, but I think it will be here too late to do anything, besides which I may need that money for tobacco.
Monday 27th June 2005

07.00 BST

Weather - sky slightly hazy, some sun , dry, cool

I'll probably divide my time between PC's and workshop today. To fill in the gaps there is reading, TV and possibly the studio as well.
 Yesterday semed slightly busy. I did my shopping. The cats won't be going hungry, but I forgot the Tabasco sauce again ! After feeding myself, and allowing some time for digestion, I then went into my workshop. I succeded in resurecting the other PCB left over from Saturday. I had to use a method that I don't really like to use for extracting a 16 pin I.C. from a double sided, plated-through hole circuit board. After attempting to suck the solder clear ultimately failed, I resorted to using a sharp blade to slice through the pins next to the body of the I.C. and then unsoldering each pin separately. After that, and a few more component replacements I had the board working, cleaned up and looking like new.

 I was considering spending more time in my workshop, but in the end that did not happen beyond occasional visits for tools. The only slightly technical stuff I did after that was to play with some of my old mobile phones. That was really limited to trying to coax some life out of knackered batteries. I'm not sure why I bothered. I already know that the life expectancy of the battery in my ancient Nokia 2410 is about 5 minutes, and that the battery for my slightly less ancient, but still museum piece, Ericsson PH337 lasts for a few hours off load, and mere minutes on load.

 It can be surprising how quickly the day can go even when you haven't been very productive. Add a couple of hours worth of TV, and up to two hours of reading, to what I have already described and it seems remarkable that I filled in the whole day, and could probably have done with a few more hours in it. Who said unemployment was boring ? Actually it is in some respects, but I do seem to be able to find lots of things to do, and if I was really bored I might even get around to fixing my VCR. I did extract the loop of tape that was hanging out of it for over 24 hours (see last Wednesday or Thursday), but then I tried it again and the same thing happened. Once again it has been sitting there for over 24 hours with a loop of tape hanging out of the loading slot, and the cassette sitting by the side of it gathering dust. Perhaps fixing the VCR is what I should be doing today. I am slightly put off doing it because there is insufficient room on my workbench, and I think it may need some spares that I do not have easy access to (but bodges may be possible).
Sunday 26th June 2005

07.36 BST

Weather - overcast and almost chilly

 Sunday, a day of rest. Not quite. I need to do a little shopping, and I have so stuff to do in my workshop before I can rest.
 Yesterday was really strange. Although it didn't rain it remained very gloomy all day. It was almost like twilight all day. After the stifling heat of the previous days it almost felt chilly as well. Last night I had to sleep under the duvet. This morning it is too cold to sit next to the open window while sitting here. I did try for a few minutes but almost shivered. I now have the top half of the window open a small way for some ventilation, but the bottom half is firmly closed.

 Another strange thing was the amount of extra slep I got yesterday. I went back to bed at 08.00 thinking the noise of the demolition contractors would wake me up again. In fcat they made very little noise and I fell asleep very quickly. I was woken up by my doorbell ringing at 10.20. I quickly pulled on a pair of trousers and the same t-shirt I had worn the previous day, then rushed down stairs to see who it was. It was the stuff I had been expecting - a couple of PCB's in a sorry state that I was to rework/repair.

 In total hippy fashion I wandered around the whole of the day unwashed, barefoot and wearing smelly old clothes. Had I been seeing anyone, or going out anywhere, I would have done something about it, but I thought "what the hell" !

 Getting up so late left my sense of time slightly befuddled, and it was not helped by the gloomy light outside. There were two "Carry On" films on TV during the afternoon, one on ITV 1 and one on Channel 4. I thought I might watch them, but missed both of them.

 I spent a fair bit of the afternoon in my workshop doing those two PCB's. Both of them are now complete and looking passable, but only one works so far. I have a horrible feeling that the non working one is going to need one, or more, integrated circuits changed. That will be time consuming as they are mounted in double side print with plated through holes. That may not mean much to you, but take my word it is a bit of hard, tedious, work. I will be getting something for my troubles, but only enough for some light drinking. Despite that it is enjoyable. There is nothing I like better than resurecting the dead. It never seems to work with biological things, but I have a pretty good track record with electronic things.

 On the basis that this resurection work would pay for my night out next Wednesday I foolishly rushed out to the corner shop (yes in my smelly state) and bought not just the bottle of Diet Coke that I wanted, but some crisps and peanuts, a cheap magazine, and a packet of 10 cheap fags. I was on a high at the time having brought the first unit to life. It was foolish as I used the money I had put aside for Wednesday, and I may not get its replacement until some time later than Wednesday. Maybe even the following week. Having checked the calendar for this month I realise that my money situation is slightly more tricky than I had hoped. My dole should get paid on the 1st of July, and the 1st is when I have a one or two outgoings planned. As the bank always does debits before credits (miserable shysters) I haad better try and be extra careful with whatever might remain in my account, or I will end up with some bad bank charges. Fortunately the race between the calendar month for outgoings, and the lunar month for incomings should soon be back in my favour. It is something that I ought to be more aware of in the future, but it creeps up so slowly that I expect it will always catch me unaware.

 I had intended to get to bed early last night. Traditionally there is no entertainment on TV on a Saturday night, but last night there was an exception. On BBC 4 there was a two part documenatary on Indian Railways in the areas affected by the monsoons. In many ways it was fascinating. After all the years since independance there is still a certain amount of almsot Victorian Britishness about Indian Railways. Most of the infrastructure was built by the British, but much of the "modern" rolling stock in use is possibly Russian or Chinese, or even locally built.  Although it is unfortunately reflected in their safety record, poor, it is still refreshing to see that a "can do" spirit still survives on a railway system. There was a  demonstration of an emnankment that had been washed away during flloding being rebuilt in 4 days with no apparent casualties. Here in the UK such thing would probably take a couple of months even with the latest earth moving machinery.

 When I finally got to bed I did a little reading while on top of the bed, but it was too cold to sleep that way. Under the duvet it was just tolerable, and by this morning most desirable. I was going to go back to bed when I finished writing this, but I think I am looking forward to a good shower and some clean clothes. Maybe I'll take a snooze during the course of the day.
Saturday 25th June 2005

07.00 BST

Weather - overcast and cool

 I have no specific plans for today, but at some point someone may come round to drop some stuff of for me to take a look at it. It should be a lot cooler today so I may be able to face spending some time in my workshop, or even in the studio.
 Yesterday was mostly hot and unpleasant so I did very little. Very early in the afternoon, maybe at midday, and the again around 18.00 there were a couple of heavy showers accompanied by distant, and yet very loud, thunder. It was after the second downfall of rain that the outside air got much cooler and nicer. Unfortunately it was still rather stiffling indoors. By sunset the temperature in my bedroom had started to ease off and I went to bed with a book at 21.00.  It was still far too hot to get into bed, but I was able to lie on the bed and although very warm, it had eased off to the point where I was no longer sweating badly.

 Considering that I did so little yesterday, it was surprising how quickly the day passed. Some of the time was spent watching such things as "Carry On Constable" on TV, and other times were spent surfing the net. By 21.00 I was feeling bored, and very tired,  and so went up to bed. I read for just over an hour, and received a phone call that went on for just under an hour. By 23.00 I could feel a hint of a cool breeze from behind the curtains. I turned off the light and fell asleep almost instantly.

 I woke up this morning after getting nearly seven hours of continuous sleep. That is the first time that has happened in 3, 4 (more ?) days. I should feel good this morning, but I think I would prefer a few more good nights sleep to be positive about it. I may try and get another hour of sleep this morning, but in 12 minutes time the demolition workers will probably start up again. The noise from them has subsided a lot in the last week, but they can still make the occasion crash that is loud enough to spoil any light sleep. My best chance of success for a lay in will be tomorrow morning.  The temperature during today should stay  mild so I should be able to sleep comfortably again tonight.
Friday 24th June 2005

03.45 BST

Weather - dry, but airless and muggy

I've no plans at all for today. I'll just make it up as I go along.
 It was another hot sunny day yesterday. Ideal weather for sitting in a beer garden surrounded by pretty girls. I managed the beer garden, but there was an absence of pretty girls. I joined Ivor and Iain in the beer garden of The Herne at about 13.30 yesterday. Several beers were drunk before Max turned up with a birthday card for me. Then a few more beers were drunk. When Ivor left Iain and myself went up to The Forest Hill Tavern to see the new barmaid who had just started work there a few minutes earlier. She was pretty, but not exciting.

 Just prior to leaving The Herne, while I said goodbye to Ruth, I noticed a woman sitting alone in the corner of the pub. She was reading a book, and had her bare feet up on a chair. There was something about her that I found attractive, but I am not sure what.  After we left the Forest Hill Tavern we went back to The Herne - Iain to carry on drinking, and myself to see if she was still there. Unfortunately she had gone so I decided to go home. The first bus was not too bad, but the 185 from Lordship lane was packed and like a furnace on the top deck.

 Eventually I got home, put some food in the oven, and slumped down exhausted in front of the TV to watch The Bill. By now my hangover was starting to kick in. After some more flicking round on TV I went to bed. I cannot recall what time I went to bed, but I think it was no later than 23.00.  It was hot and stuffy in my bedroom, even with the windows open, but I think I managed to get to sleep fairly quickly. At 00.36 I woke up again convinced that it was time to get up. It was a bit of a shock when I realised what the time was, although the darkness was a bit of a clue. I woke up drenched in sweat, and it felt like I was on fire. The harshness of reality did not seem to have been included in my dreams. The last bit I recall prior to waking up was about using some new "cool" computer software. It was an add-on to the KDE desktop, although it slightly DOS like. I am not sure exactly what it did now. I think bits of it were like a monitoring panel for several downloads going on, and other bits showed other processes going on. I think the dream may have been inspired by me thinking about one of the facilities of Kalarm (There is an example of this two days ago). That facility is to send e-mails at a predetermined time and date. I have not tried this yet, and I wonder how it works.
[Edit at 08.00 : After being woken up by the crashing and other noises of the demolition work on Catford Stadium, it suddenly came to me what the KDE add-on from my earlier dream was doing. It was something that sounds like it would be invented by Google. It was a piece of artificial intelligence that would read through a blog and then search the internet to try and find relevant links to what was said in the blog. These links could then be added to the blog, or the results downloaded for other use.]

 It felt so hot and stuffy in my bedroom that I thought I would never get back to sleep again, Somehow I did, but only for another 90 minutes or so. I woke up again at just gone 03.30. There was the first signs of daylight just starting to appear, but there was no movement in the air. I felt hot, sticky and uncomfortable. I could not face the struggle of trying to get back to sleep so I came down here to sit by the open window and do stuff on this PC. There is some cool air coming in the window, and it has cooled off my legs, but my face still feels hot. I do feel like I could do with some more sleep so I will probably take a cold shower soon, and then go back to bed.

[Edit at 08.00 : To give some idea of how hot it is in the core of the house consider this - Before I went out at 12.30 yesterday I hung out my decrepit, but thoroughly comfortable indoor trousers to dry on the banister rail after giving them a long overdue wash. When I came home at 20.00 they were bone dry and ready to wear. It was like they had been dried in an oven !]
Thursday 23rd June 2005

06.30 BST

Weather - bright and cool outside, hot and muggy inside

 I may attempt a visit to The Herne at lunchtime. This does depend on nothing else cropping up (unlikely), or how knackered I feel.
 I guess yesterday was a good sort of day. I seemed to spend around 4 hours on the internet during the morning. I can't remember why it all took so long, but I do know that after starting at 05.50 it was gone 09.00 before I had a shower and got dressed. Then there was more internet/PC stuff after that.

 In the afternoon Jodie came round. She wanted a couple of disks copied, but before that we had a fight with the crappy software to download another load of pictures from her mobile phone. Since taking most of an afternoon to get it working last time I have had to re-install Windows (over the top of itself after I broke it). So this time the fight started all over again. I have never, ever, seen such hard to install drivers before. In the end it was working and ever so slowly I decanted 415 pictures from the phone onto my hard drive. The transfer speed is absolutely appalling. It takes around 5 minutes to just get a directory listing. The pictures, totalling around 4MB took a good hour, maybe more, to download. The good thing is that since I showed Jodie how to set the camera resolution to high the pictures are at least useable for more than making postage stamps. In fact she had taken a couple that looked quite sharp when shown at full screen size. By comparison, at the default resolution, the pictures when shown full screen are just a bunch of random coloured blobs !

 Some time after 19.00 Jodie was picked up by Mark, and they went to get some food before they went to the pub. I grabbed myself a peanut butter sandwich and tried to set up the videorecorder to tape The Bill. Unfortunately the tape jammed when I tried to rewind it. The machine went into alarm mode and shut down. After several attempts I persuaded it to eject the tape, but the tape is looped around something inside. For the moment I have left the cassette sitting on the floor with a loop of tape still inside the machine. It may be time to pension off that tape and give the tape path inside the machine a good cleanup.

 After a long sweaty day I thought it prudent to have a wash before I went to the pub. So I had a cold shower. It was lovely and refreshing, but as soon as I left the bathroom and went to the centre of the house, upstairs, it felt like I had walked into an oven. With fresh sweat starting to accumulate I got out of the house as soon as I could and went to the pub.

 The Catford Ram does have air conditioning, and when it works well it can feel like a fridge inside. Last night it was not working well, but at least it was working after a fashion. When I got ther Bob and Iain were already waiting for me, and Kevin joined us soon after. Then a little later still Jodie and Mark joined us. It was fortunate that Bob was there, and bought three Skyline DVD's from me. I was able to buy a small round, and I have sufficient money to go to the pub this lunchtime (although I'll only be taking £10 with me). We had a good drink while Bob entertained us with tales from the past. One such tale involved a pub whose name he could not remember. At 01.41 this morning he sent me an e-mail to say it was called The Duke Of Clarence.

 I left the pub feeling remarkably sober. After a cool walk through the streets it was back inside to the accumulated warmth of the day. Downstairs, with my t-shirt off, it was fairly comfortable as I watched the last remaining 40 minutes of The Bill on ITV 3 while munching another couple of peanut butter sandwiches. Once that was over I went straight to bed. Upstairs it was still baking hot and I anticipated I would have trouble sleeping. It was 00.15 when I turned out the light and, surprisingly, I was asleep very soon after.  I can't recall any dreams throyugh the night, but I did wake up with the chorus of Judas Priest's "Breaking The Law" buzzing around inside my head.

 This morning I have no pain, but I do feel a little hungover, although it might just be tiredness from a series of short nights. I am very tempted to go back to bed for another hour or so. I don't know whether I will be able to relax though. The demolition contractors have just started up again as the final bits of the old Catford Greyhound Stadium are scooped into huge scrap lorries. The worst of the vibrations are over, but they are still pretty noisy. Much of that noise is just the squealing of the catterpillar tracks of the JCB type equipment.
Wednesday 22nd June 2005

05.50 BST

Weather - clear sky, sunny, but quite cool

It seems too many people are aware of it for me just to ignore a fact about today. I reluctantly mentioned it yesterday, but today........
It seems I am half a century old
Well, it's a nice round number, but does it mean anything else ? Not really. There are no pay rises attached to it, and nothing new that I can do legally. I can already legally smoke, drink, drive a vehicle, vote, be dragged off kicking and screaming to do jury service, get the key to the fron door, get married without my parents consent, and even interfere with mens bottoms !  The first two are good, but I think I'll waive my right to the last one !  Now, becoming 18 was a good time. It meant a pay rise for turning 18 and in short time getting another pay rise for completing 2 years of my apprenticeship (plus the usual annual pay rise a month or two beforehand). Yesterday, while looking for a data sheet, I came across a pay slip for March 1973.
Pay slip March 1973
 It looks rather fuzzy when shrunk a little, but you can click on it for a bigger image. The significant thing is my total take home pay - £12.68 per week. It's nice to know that 32 years later I am getting 4 times that amount as my dole money. With the price of beer and fags 10 to 20 (maybe more) times what they were then, it's easy to see why I am running on such a tight budget now.

 Today I have little planned, but I will be having a minor celebration tonight in The Ram. It seems there may be a couple more than the usual suspects joining me. During the course of the day I have 3 DVD's to burn, and I will probably be joined by Jodie who will be using the studio if it is not too baking upstairs.
 Yesterday turned into another hot day. It was not as hot as the previous couple of days, but still pretty hot. I did my shopping in the morning, but forgot one of the more important things Tabasco sauce. Later on I did get up to my workshop. I ended up getting distracted from what I thought I would do, and ended up making some modifications to one of my frequency counters.
Radio 2 changes to FM onlyI have four frequency counters, and they all have different sorts of problems. Theoretically the best is a Racal 9912. It performs wonderfully, but has a minor fault. When I originally bought it I got it for almost scrap value. It was incomplete, and two of the displays did not light up. I replaced those displays with some near equivalents, but they needed a small amount of extra circuitry to work. Unfortunately I crossed two wires to one display and that one digit now counts  2 1 3 4 7 9 8 instead of the more conventional 1 2 3 4 5 etc. It is a most minor fault, but to correct it means changing some very delicately jury rigged wiring. For years I ignored it, and it is still like it to this day. In the meantime I have been using a counter that someone gave me. It looks good, but the performance is crap ! A third counter works fine, but is really only designed  for use at VHF frequencies and above.  Originally I bought it from Mike Gaskin in the mid to late 1970's. It worked splendidly, but was limited to about 30MHz. I added a prescalar to get it up to about 120MHz, and it survived in use for many years like that. When I got the Racal it was semi retired until I got my hands on a UHF prescalar from an old satelite TV tuner. That counter now works up to just over 3GHz, but its uses are very limited. The fourth counter I was given by an old workmate after he had a clear out prior to marriage. It should be quite good, but it only works up to around 20MHz. So yesterday I set about installing a divide by 10 prescalar to get it up to 200MHz. The easy bit is now done, but I want to make more modifications to get the decimal point in the right place, and modify an existing switch to switch the prescalar in and out. Further to that I think I will try and remake the front panel by overlaying it with something printed using the PC, and then it will show the correct new button legends.

 It was while I was looking for a data sheet for the I.C. used in that frequency counter that I came across the old payslip above, and the flyer on the left for BBC Radio 2.  It seems an age since BBC Radio 2 left long wave to become VHF/FM only. I suppose at 15 years ago it was an age !

I ended up spending many hours in my workshop playing with that frequency counter. So many in fact that I forgot to listen and record the final episode of The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy. I will now have to try and remember to get it on Thursday nightt, or record it from the internet.

 Relations with the new stray cat are improving. Yesterday I managed to almost stroke it for the first time. It held its ground as my hand got near it, but flinched everytime I touched it. After a couple ot attempts I decided to let it eat its food in peace. It has taken many weeks to get this far. When I first started to put Nelly's leftovers out it would wait at the far end of the garden for me to go back inside before coming to eat. Now it will approach within 3 or 4 feet as I put the food down. I have to turn away and pretend not to look before it will actually come over and start eating, but once it starts I can approach very closely. In a few more days I will try and bribe it with some tuna and hope that it has become sufficiently relaxed to let me stroke it properly.
Tuesday 21st June 2005

05.30 BST

Weather - bright and clear, very fresh

The only special plans for today are to listen to the final episode of The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy on BBC Radio 4, and to watch the new episode of Enterprise on Sky One. Besides that I may do a little shopping this morning, and spend an hour or two in my workshop.  If it does not turn out too hot I may also spend some time in my studio.
 Despite the fresh start to yesterday, and the little shower of rain in the morning, it turned into another hot sticky day. This morning it feels fairly chilly as I sit by an open window, but the sky looks clear so I expecty it will quickly warm up. There is none of the haziness that yesterday started with. That haziness quickly turned into cloud, and for about 15 - 20 minutes we had some rain. Then the cloud broke up, but did not go away until early evening. The day was not too sunny, but it did warm up to hot and sticky proportions by nightfall.

 I took advantage of the cooler morning to do some stuff in my workshop.  By midday, or perhaps a little earlier, I had finished the most important bits. That was fortunate because it was beginning to get rather hot up there. I did stay up there a little longer, but it was mostly playing with bits and pieces.

 For much of the afternoon I lazed around watching a bit of TV, or playing on the PC. I made a phonecall to Ivor to see if he wanted to pick up a CD on his way home from work. I think he will like to hear what is on it. He didn't pick it up last night, but may do so tonight. While on the phone he offered me a little job that would have been worth a lunchtime drinking session,He has a Sony Camcorder that has a broken socket and wondered if I could fix it. Whilst I am not very familiar with the inside of camcorders, I have seen inside a few, and even repaired one myself (with some expert tuition). Without the proper tools it would be close on impossible to do, and from Ivor's description I am pretty sure it would need a new socket, and that would be almost impossible to source as well. It was a little ironic that while I am totally skint I had to reluctantly turn the job down. I suppose I could have taken a look at it, but the best advice I could have given was to buy the cheapest, nastiest, digital camcorder available, and use that to play the tapes back into the PC. (I forgot to mention that it was the DV, iLink, Firewire, or IEE1394 digital video output socket that was broken).

 As well as making a phone call to Ivor I received a phone call from Taz. She was enquiring about, and I hesitate to mention it here, my birthday tomorrow. I only mention my birthday here as a sort of excuse to turn up at the pub tomorrow night with no money at all. I was going to pass the pub over for this week as I have been relying on too much charity this year, but I guess I have an excuse tomorrow night (although given the choice of birthday presents I would have preferred tobacco, or fags instead of beer). Anyway, it seems that Taz and Scott will be joining me for a drink. So I had better be there anyway.

 By mid to late evening (say, 21.00) I was feeling very hot, and there was nothing much to do. So I went to bed with a book. I decided to read what will be tonights episode of The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy. My first 20 - 30 minutes reading were interupted by suddenly getting the galloping runs. It was like I suddenly went down with dysentry. I think I had to make 5 visits to the toilet. The first couple lacked extreme urgency, but the last were mad frantic dashes. That sort of thing can bring on a bit of sweat at any time, but in last nights heat and humidity it was most unwelcome. For the first hour since going to bed I was just sweating and dripping everywhere. By 22.00, or about 30 minutes after my final dash to the toilet, I had cooled off a little and the gushing sweat had turned back to heavy perspiration.

 I finished the book at 23.00, or thereabouts, and although uncomfortable in the heat, went to sleep soon after. I woke up after having a dream about bears at around 03.00. I don't think I have ever dreamt about bears before. This one was loose in the local park. It had all the stature, teeth and claws of a grizzly bear, but had a face a bit like a panda (or maybe Koala). I seem to recall it was called a Falklands Bear. I don't recall ever being in immediate danger during the dream, but I was certainly aware of the dangers of being eaten by the beast.

 After getting back to sleep I had another dream before waking up at around 05.20. It would probably be more accurate to say I had a series of linked dreams rather than one big one. The first bit I remenber is coming out of a supermarket, or perhaps wholesalers, with Bob Dunn. He had been doing some shopping and had enough to fill the back of a small van. Amongst the items were a couple of bottles of diet coke and some bread for me. I knew I had very little money in my pocket and asked how much it cost. He said negligable compared his own bill and that I could owe him it. The next thing we were in his car and he was taking me home. Somehow we got lost and ended up turning into this road with huge traffic signs all along it. Each sign was "educational" in that there was a full explanation of what it meant underneath it. I thought I recognised the road, but could not place where it came out. Then we emerged into Watford. We passed the Thameslink railway station (Watford doesn't have a Thameslink station, and if it did it would not have Piccadilly line tube trains in it !). Then we came to the main station. I saw a puff of smoke and steam from a steam engine and asked if we could stop so I could have a look. Walking up to the station we found Kevin and Roger there who had noticed on the internet that it was the annual Watford steam day.  We watched a couple of steam engines go by before deciding to take a walk around the town. In the next section of dream I am not sure if Kevin and Roger were with me, or not, but I am sure that Bob wasn't. We noticed a cutting next to a road and I was certain that it must be a railway cutting. It turned out to be just grass, but a railway line did tunnel under it at right angles. There was a small gap in the tunnel with a sort of footbridge over the line. From the tunnel could be seen small whisps of smoke and steam so I walked onto the footbridge to look down onto the tracks. At the point a steam engine passed through and I was surrounded by smoke and steam, and momentarily, even some sparks. I thought it had been a great experience, and on that happy note I woke up a few minutes later.
Monday 20th June 2005

05.45 BST

Weather - hazy sky, fairly cool after sultry night

Only one thing on the agenda for today - get into my workshop for a couple of hours before the day gets too hot.
 Yesterday was a very hot day ! I don't know exactly how high the temperature rose, but the weather forecasts had suggested it would peak at over 30° C. This morning the sky is quite hazy and it feels fairly fresh after a very sultry night. (sultry sounds far more exotic than hot and sweaty !). Yesterday I started the day with am almost-but-not-quite cold shower. This morning I think I'll do the same as it is still rather hot indoors.

Tracks covered during demolition work

One of the significant things that happened yesterday was that the railway service between Lewisham and Hayes was not running while further demolition works took place at the remains of Catford Greyhound Stadium. The rear of the eastern stand was the boundary wall to the railway. So instead of it being a nice quiet, peacful Sunday, we were subjected to noise and vibration from 08.00 until 18.00. I am not sure how far they progressed, but by 13.00 there was still a lot to do. The trains are running again this morning so if there is more to be done it will mean the railway will have to be closed again at some point. Maybe if there is only a small amount left to do they will do it overnight, or maybe they will have to close the railway line next Sunday. Either way it will mean noise and disruption when it ought to be quiet and peaceful.

Very powerful jaws          demolition scene
(sorry, I seem to have overcompressed these jpg images)

It was too hot to do too much yesterday, but I did persevere with my ISA sound card experiments. Having tried Mandraaake 9.0 with no success, I tried Mandrake 9.2 and got sound on a Mad 16 Pro ISA sound card. One of the things I noticed about Mandrake 9.2 is that it aalways used to have a hard time remembering its own configuration settings. This time was no exception. Every time I rebooted I had to run sndconfig to redetect the sound card. Every time it said that it had written the results to a file, and made a back up of the old file. It never did ! It kept occuring to me to check that the directory it was stored in was not marked as read only. This can happen in Windows when copying a file from a CD, and I suppose it could happen with Linux as well. Unfortunately I kept forgetting my configuration settings and never did get around to checking it. For now though, I have proved my point and will move onto something else. I will either swap the motherboard over to one with onboard PCI sound (I think I have one), or I will install Windows ME on the PC. (I could then use an ISA network card as well). All that can wait for another day as I have no actual need for that PC - unless someone wants to buy it from me.

 Since I started writing 70 minutes ago, this the skies have darkened considerably and it is starting to rain. ( I took a break of 30 - 40 minutes to download the pictures from my camera, edit them, and then somewhat over compress them. Also I had to go to the toilet). This is both bad and good. It is good in that it will cool things down a lot, but it is bad as I like the sunshine. Where the breeze from the open window is hitting me it feels very cool, but elsewhere in the house it is still hot and stuffy.
Sunday 19th June 2005

08.00 BST

Weather - bright and warm

 It will probably be too hot to do much today. I may spend a short time in my workshop before the heat gets too bad, but after that it may well be a day of rest.
 It was a very hot day yesterday. At last June is living up to its description of "flaming June". I think I achieved everything I set out to do. By 09.30 I had paid my TV licence, and soon after I had emptied Nelly's litter tray and put some washing in the washing machine. I made one possible error with the washing. I had thrown in a cleaning cloth a few days earlier that I had been using with some Jeyes fluid. In case you don't know it, Jeyes fluid is a very pungent liquid with a tarry aroma. It often reminds me of old railway station footbridges for some reason. When the wash cycle had finished I took out my clothes and they all smelled as if I had been working on tarmac all day ! As they dried out the smell became feinter and feinter, but I have a funny feeling that as soon as I start wearing them the smell will increase. It is not really an unpleasant smell, but it will be a little strange. If it is too bad I will have to re-wash those clothes.

 I spent the rest of the morning, and into the afternoon, watching epsodes of To The Manor Born on UK Gold. It is one of those comedy series that I never picked up on when it was first ever shown many years ago. It was not until I stumbled on some repeats, also many years ago, that I came to appreciate how good it was. My time was not entirely wasted watching TV. As I watched I did some preparation work for some stuff I would like to do this morning in my workshop. In fact I got a little carried away and did 5 times what I needed, but it will all come in handy at some time in the future.

Much later in the afternoon I started to experiment with my ISA sound card in my spare Linux PC. There were a few interuptions like stopping to watch Dr Who on BBC 1. It was another good episode, I suppose, but after all 12 (or was it 13) episodes I am still not sure that I am excited about it. Somehow it comes across as plasticky. It is like a modern plastic flower - perfect in all details, but just not the real thing. I still remain unconvinced about the interior of the Tardis. The interior of the Tardis has changed many times, but it has always looked as if it is the control centre of something (I prefer to ignore the one-off year 2000 American story ). Now the interior of the Tardis just looks a ramshackle mess - about as hi-tech, and futuristic, as a junk yard. It now seems obvious that the writers and designers had loads of information about the history of Dr Who, and had accumulated many one-liners, but had never actually experienced Dr Who. It is my conclusion that they have done, in a British way, what Americans do when making a new film/TV series about an old subject.

 My experimentation with the ISA sound card lasted long into the night. I made many discoveries, learned lots of things, but never cracked the problem. I ended up trying some variations - like substituting Xandros with Fedora Core Three and Mandrake 10, and even changing from an AD1815 based sound card to a Yamaha OPL-SA2 sound card. None would work, and that has got me rather suspicious that I may be looking at something other than just a Linux configuration problem. Using isapnptools I did manage to see the card(s), and I think I configured them OK, but I still could not get them to work. I think that Xandros has a specially hacked kernel that may be blind to ISA cards, but both Fedora Core 3, and Mandrake 10 do have specific options for ISA sound cards (but maybe not plug-and-play versions). In fact they both use the same Red Hat application, sndconfig, to configure them. I have a few more things to check, such as a dodgy BIOS setting, before I try again using Mandrake 9.0. It was an earlier version of Mandarke that did automatically set up and use the sound card, and I wonder if it is a problem with the 2.6 kernel that is giving me grief. I may do some more experimentation later today.

 It was getting close to 01.00 before I went to bed this morning. My mind was buzzing, and it was very hot and sticky as well (that is my body was hot and stcky, not my mind !). So I started reading. It was almost 03.00 before I went to sleep. Surprisingly I woke up at 07.45 feeling fairly awake after just slightly less than 5 hours sleep. I expect it will catch up on me later in the day, but for now I feel reasonably OK.
Saturday 18th June 2005

07.30 BST

Weather - dry, bright and mild

 There are a couple of things I must do today. In no particular order - empty Nelly's litter tray, laundry, spend an hour or two in my workshop, and go and pay my TV licence in the Post Office. The weather forecast suggests it will be very hot today, so I ought to try and get most of those things done by midday.  I can then spend the afternoon and evening just dripping (maybe).
Happy birthday Val 
As is often the case, yesterday did not turn out quite like I thought it might. Although I had no particular plans for yesterday, I was not expecting any visitors.

 I spent the morning pottering around. Some of that time was spent in my studio, and I could have been up there for far longer if I had not recieved a phone call. I was to expect a visitor who would be bringing money with him. It seems that all my labours up in my workshop were worthwhile. I now have just enough money to pay for my TV licence.  Not only that but there will be enough change left over for two thirds of a packet of cigarettes, or a couple of bottles of diet coke. So that is one headache out of the way. Now I wonder how I am going to deal with my electricity bill ?

 After my visitor had left I went back to my studio and did some stuff up there. As the afternoon progressed the temperature began to rise, although the sun was often blocked by clouds. At around 18.00 I decided to watch some TV. The news was pretty boring so I flicked around the channels. For a little while I watched some Tom And Jerry. It soon became apparent that there was very little on TV last night. I did more channel hopping but the results were very disappointing so I decided to play back the hour of audio I had recorded earlier in my studio.

 By 20.00 I was back behind this PC. After checking my email, and a few other things, I decided to do a little more research for using ancient ISA sound cards in a Linux PC.One of the more obvious things, that I had not considered before, was to have a look at how the sound was set up on this PC. In this PC I found the drivers for an AD1816 sound card are there ready to use as a sub folder to the main kernel image. At that point I became a little excited. I had discovered something ne and was. perhaps, half way to solving my problem. I was tempted to re-open the box with Xandros on it and swap the sound card back to the old AD1816 based one, and then do some experimenting. However I was feeling pretty hot by then and I did not want to start dripping onto the motherboard, and I did not want to fall into the trap of staying up half the night in a frenzy of experimentation (as is often the case). I decided that I would curb my enthusiasm and try it another day. Instead I closed everything down and went to bed at 21.00. It was definitely too hot to get into bed, so I just lay on top of the bed reading until about 23.00.

 I slept reasonably soundly until just before 05.30 when I woke up feeling a little cool. After a brief visit to the toilet I attempted to get into bed. It was back to that old dilemna of it being too hot in bed and too cool outside it. So the only compromise was to cover some bits of me, and leave other bits uncovered. After some experimentation I managed to get back to sleep again for another hour. It was not a very deep sleep and I seemed to have some anachronistic dreams. The one dream I can remember enough details from to describe was set artly in the past, and partly in the present. I was here in the upstairs front room with someone. I think it may have been Kevin, but I can't be sure. Inside it was the present day, but outside was set back in the 1960's. We were watching the last steam train working going by on the Catford Loop Line (which I can see a couple of hundred yards when the trees drop their leaves). The train went passed and as it reached Catford Station it passed out of view (I can just see the start of the platforms). At that point the view switched seamlessly from "real life" to what can only be described as documentary mode. It was as if I watching it on TV with pictures of the train taken from different viewpoints along the track, or even from a plane or helicopter. I seem to recall two instances where the pictures included scenes including roads. On those roads there were old RT buses. Curiously I paid particular notice of their vehicle registration numbers. They were all four numbers followed by the letters "CC". I am not sure of the significance of this. Even stranger was that I am sure they were in the form of xxxx.CC (xxxx dot CC) as if they were a file name. The mind is a wonderful thing. If only we knew what the hell it was on about !
Friday 17th June 2005

09.00 BST

Weather - hazy sky, but bright and dry

Another day with no particular plans. I may split my time between workshop and studio.
 Yesterday was quite a good day. I didn't achieve much, but it felt OK.

 I did some research on the internet about using ISA sound cards in a Linux box. It is both simple, but complicated. It would be slightly simpler if I could find the original magazine that I used when I had some limited success during early Liux experimentation some years ago. I do prefer to work from the printed page rather than from a screen, and even more so when the writing is done by a writer rather than a technical expert. A proper writer can make any process sound more relaxed and easy. In fact I bottled out of setting up my sound card from the command line. I have a spare, but faulty, PCI sound card that I tried in the new Xandros box. It did produce sound, but has a strange fault that causes the sound to keep stopping and spluttering. I am sure that the way it behaves under Linux is different to the way it behaves under windows. As far as I can recall, the last time I used it in a Windows PC it gave out low level distorted sound, and had a large DC offset on one channel when recording from it. As such it is only a temporary solution and I will have to attempt the command line installation of the ISA card if I want a fully functional PC. The question whether I want, or need, another fully functional PC is irrelevant. I am doing it for fun, albeit a masochistic sort of fun !

 Just before 13.00 I popped out to Tesco's to buy catfood, and a few other odds and sods, and a double miracle happened. I bumped into Patricia as she was just leaving Tesco's. We stood and chatted for something like 20 minutes, and I learned that she was still working for PDC out of economic neccesity. She is due to finish on the 22nd, and flies out to Argentina on the 23rd. In theory she will be back again a month later, but that depends on the state of health of her father. So there is some reason to think that I may see her again in the future, but any hope of a love affair seems to have moved beyond even fantasy. Besides, she is still seeing, and says she loves, Tom. But that is another story.

 The second miracle was that Tesco are now stocking 9 inch filament strip lamps again. I use one as a reading lamp in bed, and three weeks ago the filament blew leaving me in darkness. I rigged some temporary lighting, but it was not the same. I had to get out of bed to turn it on and off ! So last night I had a brand new lamp installed (plus one extra as a spare) and decided to do some bed time reading. Soon after The Bill finished at 21.00 I was on my bed with a small paperback and reading away at an old Robert Heinlien novel. Apart from one interuption from a phone call, I ended up reading the entire novel, aand turned the light out at 01.10 this morning. It was nice to be carried away to fantasy land for 4 hours where the troubles of the outside world did not intrude. No more worrying about how I am going to pay for my TV licence and electricity bill.

 Alas it is back to the real world where my finances are rather delicate at the moment. The problem is an old one where my income is based on the lunar month (actually twice in a lunar month), and my outgoings are based on the calendar month. Every so often the outgoings come before the incomings and my budgeting gets out of order. The TV licence, while not totally unforeseen, did come as a bit of a wild card in an uncertain pack. I think I may have to suspend drinking for a week, or two, while I rebalance the books. At the moment I have just £19.04 in cash and I will need the bulk of that for tobacco over the next week or two. I am OK for food during that time, but I think I will have to revert to Aldi's own version of diet cola (and even that on a tight ration). It is drinkable, but not very enjoyable, but I need my occasional caffiene fix, and I don't drink coffee, nor am I liable to start ( I won't even mention tea - urgh !!).
Thursday 16th June 2005

06.30 BST

Weather - thin high cloud, some sunshine, cool

 Today I have no particular plans after I have been on a catfood buying mission.
 Yesterday started out bright, but by mid morning, or thereabouts, it was raining. A fair bit of rain came down, but it cleared up several hours later, and the evening was once again bright and occasionally sunny.

 Out of all the things I thought I may have done yesterday, like learning PIC chip programming, the one I accidently settled on was playing with Linux (again). I can't even remember why I started that, but whatever it was I thought I would have a go at installing SuSe Linux.
 (Masochists with a fast internet connection can download SuSE Linux here :- ftp://ftp.mirrorservice.org/sites/ftp.suse.com/pub/suse/i386/9.2/iso/SUSE-Linux-9.2-FTP-DVD.iso
 Beware though, it is a 3.6GB download of an ISO image file that needs to be burned to a DVD)

 The latest version is 9.2, and is available for 32 and 64 bit processors, but I was  trying version 8.1 PE. It had its good points and bad points. It starts in a bad way in that I could not get disk 2, the allegedly bootable disk, to boot. So I had to make the 5 install floppies. It turned out that I only needed the first two disks for it to find the CD ROM and continue the installation from there. The installation proceeded OK until it came to the graphics card. It was recognised, but it would only work properly with a screen resolution of 640x480.  Any attempt top force it higher resulted in the screen breaking up and doing weird things.

 My overall impression was that I did not really like SuSE. Bits of it were good, and bits of it were bad. The configuration tools, where provided, were excellent, but there was a noticable lack of networking tools. I have a suspicion that if you want to use it in a Windows network you are assumed to be an expert and are left on your own to manually configure it all. Maybe the full paid for version has more tools, but it appears not to be the case for the Personal Edition.

 So I scrapped that installation and replaced it with Xandros 3.01 OCE. The last time I tried it on another PC it installed perfectly (after overcoming a problem with the CD drive I was using), and Lee managed to install it OK as well. The installation is smooth and sleek, but it has one major downfall. There is no support for ISA cards. In the spare PC I used yesterday ( 300MHz Pentiun II ) I have an ISA sound card.  I know it is one that is supported by Linux as both Mandrake and SuSE found it, and used it OK. Now, if I am feeling masochistic today I may try and manually configure Xandros to use that sound card. I have vague recollections of doing this the first time I ever tried Linux. As I recall I have to tell the correct module (AD1816 in this case) the I/O, and IRQ etc of the sound card, and then insert the module into the Kernel. I am hazy about how to do it, but I have this idea I should be using commands like modprobe and insmod. I hope I can find the write up I used last time as that did seem to work. If I can get the sound working then the next obvious task is to try installing something using .deb files. I have not had any experience of Debian based Linux before so it will be another leap of faith (or another leap into the dark more like).

 I don't really know what I will do today. Yesterdays Linux was a spur of the moment thing. Today I might do some electronics, or something might come up that wil otherwise occupy me, but I am rather curious as to whether I can get that sound card working.
Wednesday 15th June 2005

06.50 BST

Weather - bright with some clouds, cool

 There is only one semi-definite thing planned for today and that is the Wednesday night drink with Iain, Kevin, and possibly Howard, at the newly purple and green Catford Ram.
 This morning I feel far better than yesterday. I still have a worrying pain when I stretch my neck in certain directions, or apply pressure under a certain area. I feel sure that this is a dental problem (Gulp !!). It might be a slight infection from where I may have pushed a small particle of food under the gum through over enthusiastic use of a toothpick. For the moment I will let it be as it is not noticable under normal conditions. Apart from a slight just-woken-up stiffness, all my other aches and pains seem to have faded away. The worst pain, that in my left leg, faded out soon after I got back from the job centre. I had taken a couple of Ibuprofen tablets before going out, and they may have done the trick. The pain and stiffness started to go as soon as I started the walk to the job centre. By 10.30 I hardly realised that I had been in pain.

 I was correct in my assumption that yesterday would be the last time I saw my New Deal Adviser. As from now I am back on normal signing. Well almost normal - the bastards want me to sign on at 15.30 in the afternoon. By then I am looking forward to putting my feet up and taking a breather after a long day doing other things.

 Although I suggested I would go back to bed yesterday morning, it didn't actually happen. I did have a quick snooze on the settee at around (funnily enough) 15.30, but that was all. I spent the rest of the day doing a bit of this and a bit of that. I guess a few hours were taken up tracing out the circuit on a pcb and drawing it up on the PC. Sometimes curiosity drives me to do things that ultimately are really a waste of time.

 I wonder if I ought to let curiosity lead me to wasting many hours today ?  I have an urge to do some real computer programming. In particular to write what will undoubtably be a very small program for a Microchip "PIC" microcontroller. All it has to do is to squirt a serial stream of around 22 bits into another I.C.  I have the software and hardware to do this, but there is a catch. I have never written any software for these chips before. I have programmed them with software downloaded from the internet - so I know that bit works. I do know the rudiments of programming. Indeed I taught Lee enough to get him started in programming these chips, and I did that over the phone, but I have never, ever, actually tried to write anything for myself. I know that once I overcome the very steep initial learning curve that it will, or should, become easy. But do I want to spend the morning, and maybe the afternoon, tearing my hair out when I could be doing something more useful ?  If something else does not attract my attention then maybe I will.
Tuesday 14th June 2005

05.45 BST

Weather - bright, some cloud, cold

 At 09.00 I have an appointment, possibly my last, with my New Deal Adviser. After that I don't know what I will be doing - possibly nothing at all - read on.....
 This morning I feel lousy ! It is possible that I am suffering from some strange malady.

 Yesterday passed without incident. I completed my latest project in my workshop, and managed to make a good start on some PC based documentation. As the day passed I noticed that some of my joints felt a little stiff. As they caused very little trouble I did not really pay much attention as to when and where I felt the stiffness. I think that my back ached a little from time to time, and one shoulder may have ached as well.

 I went to bed at 23.00 and found it very difficult to get comfortable. Once again I was either too hot or too cold, and the bed felt unusually lumpy. I finally got to sleep at some unknown time around midnight. At 01.40 (I think) I woke up again and it felt like I had been kicked in the left leg/hip. As I woke up I realised that I had been asleep with my whole left leg uncovered. My leg felt icy cold and the muscles in the  thigh were almost siezed solid. I needed a pee so I hobbled out to the toilet. By the time I got back I was feeling icy cold and was shivering. Quickly jumping under the duvet again I tried to get comfortable so I could get back to sleep. Unfortunately I could not find a comfortable position. I never have been much good at sleeping on my back so I lay on my side. On one side my leg felt very uncomfortable, and on the other side I suffered from lower back pain. Meanwhile my neck, from under the right ear and half way down my cheek, felt very sore when I twisted it.

 I finally managed to get to sleep, but it was a very light and troubled sleep. I woke up several more times from between about 03.30 and until I finally decided to get up at 05.40.

 This morning I am hobbling around like an OAP in need of a hip replacement (and possibly feeling like one as well). My left leg is the main cause of my discomfort, but other bits are at least stiff, if not actually painful, as well. My back is one area that feels stiff, but is not painful provided I adopt a reasonable posture. A short walk, like to the job centre, will probably loosen that up (I hope). One other area that is causing some mild, but intermittent, discomfort is my right elbow. It was possibly what I was noticing most yesterday. It is the elbow that I dislocated following a fall from  Kevin's car while getting out for a pee in a pitch dark driveway several years ago.  Although a check at the hospital with X-rays never showed a dislocation I was to realise that it had been dislocated several weeks later.  A mild, mainly static, electric shock caused me to throw my arm back out of the way in a very sharp manner. There was a moment of agony in the elbow joint, and after that I regained almost full movement in my elbow. Prior to that my elbow was very stiff and painful to move. To this day I cannot fully straighten out my arm, and during cold weather it sometimes gets a little stiff and achey.

 So to sum up. This morning I am a walking disaster area. Beside the painful bits and pieces I am feeling very tired after getting around 4 hours of bad sleep. I will shortly take some painkillers, and after signing on I will probably take some more and try and get some more sleep in.

 My appointment with my New Deal Adviser (who I will signing on with) will probably be my last. I think I have gone through the entire New Deal 25+ process and still have not found a job. After today I believe I will go back to normal signing on, but there is always the prospect of New Deal 50 looming up ahead. I don't know what that will entail, or even if I will end up on it one day, but if nothing else it would be handy to have a New Deal photocard for reduced price travel on buses, tubes and trains.
Monday 13th June 2005

07.00 BST

Weather - bright but very chilly

 Nothing much planned for today. I've got to get some cat litter at some point, but the rest of the day it will be either/and/or workshop, studio and PC.
  Yesterday morning I did some shopping in Tesco. It was mostly pretty routine stuff, but unusually I did buy some rather nice new potatoes. Ideally I should have had them with mint and butter, but I resorted to the slightly unconventional of white pepper and mayonaise. They were very nice, and I'll be have some more of them today.

 While in Tesco I finally bought the copy of New Scientist that I would usually have bought last Friday. I spent, as predicted, much of the morning reading it. There was nothng wildly exciting in it, but a good read anyway.

 I had hoped that I would finish the stuff I have been doing in my workshop yesterday, but I have made a cock-up. I have accidently fitted 10K resistors instead of 1K resistors in one location. As these are fitted in plated-through double-sided PCB's it is slow work replacing them, or at least it is slow to replace them neatly. I am confident that I will finish the job this morning.

 I went to bed even earlier than I have done lately, aand although I thought I was tired I had a lot of trouble getting to sleep. As I tried to find a comfortable position, and tried to find a compromise betwen too hot under the duvet, or too cold without it, my mind wandered to thinking about Patricia. This will be her last full week in the UK. I'd like to see her at least one more time before she leaves, but I am not sure if she wants to see me. Apart from the odd email she has been ignoring me for the last few months. Now, having finished work, she is not even in email contact. Perhaps I'll toss a coin to see whether to phone her or not.

 I finally dozed off into a trouble sleep at some time after midnight. At 01.40 I woke up again. I don't know whether it was biting my own tongue that woke me up, or whether that happened as I woke up, but it was just bad enough to draw a tiny bit of blood, and certainly enough to be very painful. I can't recall any dream prior to waking up then, but I do have some fleeting impressions of a dream just prior to Nelly waking me up demanding her breakfast. I was visiting a preserved railway, and waiting for a particular train to turn up. I did see one fairly conventional train around. It was a class 101 type vehicle painted the traditional green with yellow "whiskers" on the front.  Another preserved "train" looked very similar to an old bicycle (weird !). Finally the train I was waiting for turned up.  I think I was waiting for a preserved tube train, but what appeared looked like a stretched Hillman Imp car. It was 20 - 30 ft long, and had seats stretching down both inner sides. I didn't find out any more about it because at that point I woke up.

 I have recently made mention of the demolition of Catford Stadium, and how some of the work there causes the whole ground to shake. During the latter part of last week it was unpleasant working away in my workshop while it sometimes felt like the whole house was shaking. Fortunately all the work stopped at the weekend and I had a  peaceful time. It is now approaching 08.00 and I expect it will all start up again. The rear part of one of the grandstand buildings backs on to the railway line. They will almost certainly have to stop the trains before that is demolished. I would hazard a guess that it will take place on some Sunday in the near future.

 You can read more about Catford Greyhound stadium here :-  http://www.trap6.com/stadium/catford.htm
And rather less about it here :- http://www.catfordstadium.co.uk/ 
Sunday 12th June 2005

08.50 BST

Weather - overcast and rather chilly

 Not much planned for today. 20 minutes at the shops perhaps, and then either workshop, studio or PC.
 Yesterday is rather boring to recount, but seemed to pass by fairly quickly. A lot of yesterday I spent behind one PC screen or another.  I never did get into my workshop. So my work there is behind schedule. I'll have to try better today. That really is all there is to say about yesterday.
Saturdaay 11th June 2005

09.40 BST

Weather - bright and sunny

I've nothing much planned for today. I expect I'll be spending a few more hours in my workshop, but beyond that I will probably have a lazy day.
 Yesterday I spent much of the middle of the day in my workshop. I never did go out to buy tobacco in the morning as I had planned. that is something will have to do today. There had been a plan to meet Ivor and Iain in the beefestival during the afternoon, but I didn't get a phone call to say they were going there so I presume that they stayed drinking in The Herne or somewhere.

 During the evening I managed to find a fair amount of entertainment on the TV, but it did need a fair amount of channel hopping to sustain the flow. Occasionally I would pop back to this PC to supervise a long download that I had going on. By 00.30, or maybe a little later, I decided to let it get on with it and went to bed. I got up three times this morning. The first was to check the PC and feed Nelly. Surprisingly she didn't wake me up, and I think I woke up because I had a mild stomach ache. Another 90 minutes later I got up again, did a few things and went back to bed. Finally at just gone 09.00, after not really sleeping, I decided it was time to get up properly.
Friday 10th June 2005

08.50 BST

Weather - hazy sky, but still bright and dry

 This morning I will probably be in my workshop. Around lunchtime I will pop out to Tesco's for tobacco and New Scientist. Mid afternoon it should be back to the beer festival for an hour or two with Iain and, hopefully, Ivor. Tonight I intend to be very lazy and watch TV or something.
 Yesterday started off a little grim with a statement from my bank showing that I have busted the limit again and will be getting some bad bank charges. I must study the statement again because I thought I was still holding just about in control of my outgoings.

 I am still making progress in my workshop, although not as fast as I had hoped. Working away up there during the day is made a little unpleasant by the demolition works for the old Catford Greyhound Stadium. It is producing a lot of vibration. On one particular occasion I heard a large crash, and a second or two later the vibrations hit me. It was like a small earthquake with the whole house shaking.

 At 20.30 I met up with Iain and Kevin at the beer festival. I lost count of how many different beers I tried (all by the half pint), but I'd guess it was something like 10 (making 5 pints in all). As we drank we were entertained by a Jazz band. They were all very proficient musicians, but the music was not really to my taste. Fortunately it was not a type of music that is irritating (or worse), but just one that I do not find enjoyable. When  first got to the festival it was very crowded, but gradually the crowds thinned out as people who had started drinking much earlier in the day started heading for home. I fnally left there at about 23.00. I don't know what time Kevin and Iain left, but Kevin still had almost two halves to finish when I left.

 On the way home I bought some fish and chips to eat while I watched The Bill. They were thorougly enjoyable ! I got into bed and turned the light out at 00.30. It was one of those nights when you think you are not going to get to sleep but the next thing you know you are waking up. In my case that was at 04.30 when Nelly decided she wanted some breakfast. I might have turned over and gone back to sleep, but as soon as I was awake I decided I needed to get to the toilet. After a 5 minute sit down in there I fed Nelly and went back to bed with a throbbing hangover. Once again it felt like sleep would not come, but the next thing I knew it was 08.30 and I thought I had better get up.
Mike and his brother I finally got around to getting the pictures off my camera. I only took a couple of pictures of Mike (from Canada). This was the best one although the camera decided to focus on his brother rather than Mike himself. The other two pictures were marred by a) Leaving the camera set to close up, and b) the flash failing because of weak batteries.

 I should have included what I had hoped was a good shot of a fox eating the stray cats leftovers. Unfortunately for the first shot the camera was again in close up mode and could not focus properly. The second shot was in focus, but I had to be so quick and subtle after the first shot that the picture had bad camera shake. What could have been a third shot would have consisted of a foxes bottom as it made a quick exit having become aware that I was pointing a camera at it !
Thursday 9th June 2005

05.40 BST

Weather - bright and clear

Today should be almost a repeat of yesterday. I want to spend some hours in my workshop during the morning, and part of the afternoon. Today the Catford Beer Festival opens at noon, and admission is free until 17.30 (£2.50 after). I expect I'll pop into the beer festival for a quick pint early in the afternoon, and maybe buy a few exotic takeaways (high strength bottled beers). Then later in the evening I'll be joining Iain and Kevin for our regular Wednesday night drink (on a Thursday !) which will take place in the beer festival.
 Yesterday was pretty good. I managed to spend many hours in my workshop. I am hoping that my current project will be finished by the weekend. Soon after 17.30 Iain came round and we took a walk to the beer festival. I tried 4 halves of beers. One was nasty, one was better than average, and the other two were OK. I also bought a festival t-shirt. Once again they did not have any black t-shirts so I opted for a white one. If I could have spared more money I would have got a red and a bluey/grey t-shirt as well, but I think I would pass over the bright orange t-shirts ! We left the festival at about 19.30 and I came home to watch The Bill and have some supper. By 22.00 I was in bed reading the festival programme booklet. There were only a few pages of that and I was probably fast asleep by 23.00.

 Nelly woke me up with some surprisingly loud meowing at 05.30. She is now fed and will be going back to sleep for another hour. I haven't been fed, but I think I'll grab some more sleep as well. I haven't prepared the couple of photos I was going to include today. I may add them later this morning, or I'll wait until tomorrow when I may add a photo from the beer festival.
Wednesday 8th June 2005

06.30 BST

Weather - bright and sunny

This morning, and into the afternoon, I really ought spend some time in my workshop. Later this afternoon the Catford Beer Festival opens it's door at 17.30. I don't think I want a full session in there, but I want to give it some sort of lookover to se what's happening. Admission is £1.50 for tonights session.
 Yesterday did not turn out like I thought it would. It started as planned. I went to the Aldi supermarket at the end of the road and bought even more catfood, some human food and some junk food. The latter included a bag of liquorice allsorts as well as stuff like crisps and peanuts. Unfortunately I was to eat far too much of the junk food during the day, and none of the "proper" food I have bought recently.

 The day still proceeded normally, with me doing some stuff in my workshop, until about midday when I got a phone call from Canadian Mike.  He was on a day trip into London with his brother and wondered if it would be OK to pop in at around 15.00.  I was very surprised to hear this as I thought that I would not be seeing him again until his next holiday in the UK. Soon after that phone call Iain came round to pick up the PC I was selling. (I should now be rich ! But won't see the money until tonight or tomorrow)

 Mike (and his brother) duly turned up soon after 15.00 and we had a good chat and watched the Skyline DVD. I was also offered a type of smoke that I had not had for over 20 years (if you exclude one other occasion last week) and got very stoned. After Mike left to go back to Havant (where he is staying for the rest of his holiday) I had a bad case of the munchies. As I listened to the latest installment of The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy I consumed over half my bag of liquorice allsorts, and the big bag of crisps as well as the remains of some camenbert cheese and some olives. Later on, as I watched a new Episode of Enterprise on Sky One, I proceeded to munch my way through the rest of the liquorice allsorts.

 Enterprise finished at 21.00 and I decided to go to bed and do some reading. Mike had given me a magazine called 2600 that is all about hacking, phreaking and other fringe stuff. It was a fascinating read. So fascinating that I did not turn off the light until midnight. Even then I could not get to sleep properly. It was probably all the calories and suger I had consumed that made me feel either too hot under the duvet, or too cool without the duvet. Eventually I got to sleep, but I had a rough night tossing and turning and waking up several times during the night. This morning I do feel a little rough.

Either later today, or perhaps tomorrow, I'll put up a couple of pictures taken recently. There will be one of Mike, and one of a fox that was eating the stray cats food this morning.
Tuesday 7th June 2005

06.30 BST

Weather - bright and sunny

 No special plans for today. A bit of shopping early this morning then workshop, studio or PC's again.
 Yesterday was not very productive. In the morning I had a bit of a headache, and later on in the afternoon I had stomach ache. Despite that I did manage to spend a couple of hours in my workshop, and several more hours on the PC.

 Today is the day when Iain should be picking up the PC that he has arranged to sell for me. This means tomorrow I will be rich and be able to afford many beers at the Catford Beer Festival. The fact that I will be able to afford many beers does not really mean that I should buy lots of beer. The entire money raised from the sale of the PC is still not enough to cover the cost of my TV licence renewal. So I had better put some money aside for that. Hopefully I will be able to raise the rest of the money by one means or another before the end of the month.

 Relations with the stray cat continue to improve. Yesterday it finally allowed me to get a hand near enough to be sniffed. It is so skittish that I think it will be quite a few more days before it allows me to stroke it. Meanwhile it continues to have a voracious appetite. I noticed one of its ears seems to be a little bald. It may well be sufering from a bad flea infestation. So as soon as I finally get its trust I will be giving it some flea drops. I expect after that it will take another week to regain that trust.

 Last night I finally managed to get to bed before midnight. I didn't really keep a close eye on the time, but I think I was fast asleep by 23.30. I'm not sure I feel any better for it, but I am up a little earlier this morning. Tonight I'll see if I can get to bed before 23.00. The weather forecast for the next few days is good and it would be nice to be able to get up early enough to greet the dawn if it is bright and sunny.
Monday 6th June 2005

08.10 BST

Weather - very grey looking

 Starting today I have intoduced a new section. This will be a brief summary of what I think I will be doing today. The long and boring stuff will continue below. So...................
Early morning I'll be visiting Tesco. For the rest of the day I will spending time in my workshop, or in my studio, or behind a PC or two.
 Yesterday was spent mainly experimenting on one or other PC. My installation of Limewire succeeded and it works just fine. I found it worked just as well behind my firewall as it does when connected via a seperate modem. So I have installed it on this PC as well. I have already made some use of it, but with only a dial up connection its uses are limited. What I need is a reasonably specified laptop so I can go and borrow someone else's bandwidth :-)

 Nothing else really happened yesterday, but I still managed to get to bed a lot later than I should have. Late in the evening I sat down to chill out in front of the TV and eventually chanced upon a documentary about the "McLibel" court case where two people were fighting a writ alleging libel from McDonalds. I had heard of the case, but was previously unaware of the details. It was interesting viewing, but it did not finish until midnight. I should have gone straight to bed then, but something was bothering me. Earlier in the day one of what turned out to be two little fans in my network hub was sounding very noisy. I had propped it up at a strange angle to stop the noise, but I think that just stopped the fan. It worried me that the fan may have stopped so I felt the case an noticed that it was unusually warm (although far from hot). At that point I should have just turned it off and dealt with it this morning, but I decided I would take just a quick look before going to bed. That quick look turned into forcing the cover up enough to get to the fan and oiling it. It immeadiately speeded up and sounded a lot quieter. I was still a little worried about it so I did turn it all off again and finally went to bed. This morning it sounds fine.

 Out of several vivid dreams that I an partially remember from last night, only part of one is worth recording. In some ways it was horrific, but during the dream it seemed almost inconsequential.I had come home from work and was changing my trousers. As I took the old pair off my lower leg felt itchy. Looking down I could see two bits of thickish wire protuding from the skin. A gentle tug would not move them so I looked at the rear of my leg. One turned out not to be wire at all but a thin bladed screwdriver. The screwdriver, and a piece of 1.5mm tinned copper wire had gone right through my leg. At the time I thought that the screwdriver had even gone through the bone. Pulling them out from the rear of my leg was easy, and amazingly there was little sensation when doing it. Even stranger was that there was no blood, and the wounds closed over leaving barely a mark. All that was left was like a little bit of swarf that felt waxy - as if my leg was made of candle wax. At that point I woke up.
Sunday 5th June 2005

09.50 BST

Weather - overcast but dry

 I went to bed extremely late last night, or more correctly, this morning. It was at least 02.00, possibly slightly later, before I got into bed.  The reason was, as usual, I was playing with computers. So this morning I am up a bit late, but not as late as I wanted to be (thanks for the early phone call Nigel :-{ ). Having also been up at 07.00 to feed Nelly, I am still feeling rather tired.

 Yesterday morning I finished phase one of the stuff I am doing in my workshop. So I rewarded myself with a bit of TV watching before tackling my next project - that of making a special Linux installation on one of my old PC's. There is something about crappy old slot one motherboards, with a mixture of ISA and PCI cards, that Linux does not like. After trying several Linux distros I resorted to Mandrake 9.0. For some reason Mandrake seems very tolerant of everything you throw at it. After wasting lots of time with other distros I finally had a stable installation up and running with all peripherals recognised and working.

 My next task was to set up some filesharing so I could transfer files between the new PC and the rest of my network. It sort of worked, but sort of didn't. No matter what I do I cannot get full read/write access when accessing my shared folder. I even went as far as using the command chmod from the command line to give the folder every permission under the sun, but I still could not transfer files into it from this PC. For the moment I have given up, but I'll need to come back to it sometime.

 After that came a few long downloads. First was Limewire (a filesharing program) that came in a 6.5 MB. For that to run I also needed the latest Java run time environment. That was a 16MB download. Both these files took a fair time to download on a 56K modem ! Finally I needed one library file before I could install Limewire. As far as I could tell it is only available as part of a far bigger package of files. So yet another long download, but one I could not use as it had too many conflicts and dependencies. It was at this point I thought I had better give up and get to bed.

 This morning I have managed to install Limewire by ignoring the dependencies. I think it works - the interface comes up, but before I give it a full test I need to take this PC off line, and connect the modem to the new PC. Before I do that I ought to get washed and dressed. Later on I want to spend just another hour, or two, in my workshop. When that is done I can watch TV, or play with computers for as long as I like. Perhaps there is one more task for today. I have to work out what bank to rob to pay for my TV licence, either that or no more drinking for the next 12 weeks !
Saturday 4th June 2005

08.45 BST

Weather - sun and showers

 I thought that the weather would be dry and sunny this morning, but there has just been a 5 minute splash of rain. The rain has now stopped and the sun is out. Yesterday was very overcast, although there was only one heavy downpour of rain. Many local areas had thunder and lightning, but those missed Catford.

 Yesterday was mostly a mixture of reading and doing stuff in my workshop. For reading matter I had New Scientist and Micro Mart. There was a fascinating, but mind boggling, article in New Scientist about why the stars may not be in the position we think they are in. It is all down to the possibilities of negative refraction. The details are unimportant, but it reinforces my idea that the cosmologists and astrophyicists are getting ever closer to coming up with a complete and consistent recipe for a universe. The trouble is it may not actually be our universe.

 The stuff I am doing in my workshop is proceeding a little faster than I would have thought, although the next phase will be a bit harder. Perhaps my current enthusiasm for it has something to do with not having endless coils to wind, or maybe that what I am doing will increase the viability of beer drinking in the not to distant future (only for a week or two unfortunately).

 I could have been in bed early last night but for one little thing. I received an e-mail with a 4 MB attachment. That took a little while to download, and by itself it would only have delayed me by 30 minutes or so. It was what it lead me to that delayed my bedtime for another hour. I have now downloaded, but not yet installed, Limewire. This is a Linux P2P client that can (allegedly) connect to several, or more, file sharing schemes. I don't think I'll be installing it on this PC as it would probably mean mucking around with my firewall. Instead I think I will set up another PC that will connect to the internet directly. I may well do that later this afternoon, or evening.

 Today it is the first Saturday of the month so I should be going out to Elmers End to meet up with my old work colleagues for a pint or six. With only £7.09 in spare cash I am not sure whether this will be a viable option.. I'll see how the idea grabs me nearer to lunchtime. Before then I intend to do a little more in my workshop.
Friday 3rd June 2005

07.10 BST

Weather - mild with cloudy sky

 I feel a bit tired and knackered this morning. The reason for this will become apparent later.I think it is going to be another morning where I go back to bed for an extra hours sleep.

 When I finally got myself up, washed and dressed, yesterday, I took a walk to Tesco's to buy some catfood, and a little human food. I soon discovered that Tesco's "Value" peanut butter when spread on Tesco's "Finest" multgrain bread is delicious. The peanut butter is almost half the price (60p) of Sun Pat peanut butter and is, in my humble opinion, far nicer. It is extremely crunchy ! The Teco's "Finest" bread sounds like a bit of a luxury, but it was from the pile of reduced price stuff as it was near, or on, it's sell by date. Through the course of the day I ate far too many delicious peanut butter sandwiches. I dread to think how many calories I consumed, but it was a most pleasant experience doing it !

 In between peanut butter sandwiches I spent quite a few hours in my workshop. After a slow and frustrating start I began to have some success, and by the time I finally called it quits for the day I was quite pleased with what I had achieved.

 I would have preferred to have got to bed reasonably early last night, but I had to stay up to record The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy. Inconveniently it was on at 23.00. By the time I had recorded (and listened to) it I was feeling alert again. Unfortunately I was recording THHGTTG on a PC using the Wavefinder DAB receiver. Before I could shut down the PC for the night I found myself surfing the internet. None of it was very exciting, but there was always the idea that the next link would lead to something terribly exciting. By 01.30 I realised the folly of it and finally shut down and headed for bed.

 So this morning I have not had much sleep. I don't remember if Nelly tried to wake me up, but when I woke up it looked as if she had given up and it was my chance to wake her up. She has now consumed half a plate of Salmon and Prawn catfood and gone back to bed. I'll be joining her soon. Later on I'll be going out to buy tobacco and this weeks New Scientist. After a bit of reading it's back to my workshop.
Thursday 2nd June 2005

07.00 BST

Weather - overcast but dry

 Yesterday I forced myself into my workshop despite some other distractions. I don't know how many hours I spent up there, but I did make good progress towards my final goal. The main distraction was that NTL, in a strange fit of generosity, have added some extra channels to my TV service for no apparent increase in price. In my cynical mind this means that another overall price rise is not far away.  The two most significant channels to be added are UK Gold and The Discovery Channel. I used to pay extra to get them, but dropped them in a cost cutting exercise in January.

 As last night was a Wednesday night it was pub night. While The Catford Ram is closed for refurbishment this week we decided to drink in The Copperfield (or Railway Tavern as it used to be known  10, 15, 20, ? years ago). I was quite aprehensive about drinking there. It always seemed to me that the place attracted a lot of low life, but it seems that on a Wednesday night it is not too bad. Within a few minutes of getting in there I was accosted by a drunk who was so pissed I had no idea what he was going on about. There was a small selection of tracksuit and baseball cap type scum, but thankfully none of them were wearing the biggest sin against style - Burrberry !  I suppose that back in the very early 1970's some of the older drinkers used to look down on the group of us who used to take over 50% of the Lounge Bar. Anyway, we had a good drink and natter. Howard did not make it, but we were joined by Bob, and for the final time until his next holiday in the UK, Mike from Canada.

 Time seemed to pass by very quickly in the pub, and it was soon time to go home again. When I got in I watched my recording of The Bill. As I turned off the VCR I saw that there was a good episode of Star Trek The Next Generation showing on Sky One. So I stayed up until 01.00 watching that. In consequence I feel that I have not had enough sleep. So I am off to bed again soon.

 Later today, once I am up and dressed, I need to do some shopping. I hope there is some money in my bank account as my dole is not paid in until tomorrow. Once the shopping is done I'll be back in my workshop for several, or more hours.
Wednesday 1st June 2005                                                                      
08.00 BST
Weather - cool and hazy sky
 Welcome into June. Summer really should be here by now. We have had some brilliant days, but they still seem to be few and far between. The weather seems so variable at the moment, and it is hard to predict how the day will turn out. Some days have started bright and ended up overcast, while others have been the other way round.

 Yesterday was a day that required a lot pf patience. I continued experimenting with Linux on the ancient 66MHz Pentium PC. I never did manage to get Turbo Linux to work properly. It installed, but the X server would not configure. Everytime it started it went into a continuous loop of starting and then crashing. So rather than waste time trying to correct it I moved on to Storm Linux. That failed very early on. Next I tried Slackware. Unfortunately Slackware gives no indication of just how much you are trying to install and I filled my meagre disk space up before the installation had completed. I was a little disappointed that Slackware claims to give you complete control over the installation, and yet appears to default to an excessive amount of applications and other files. So it was reformat the drive and on to Definite Linux. At last I had a reasonable amount of success. It installed correctly, and I had a working KDE 1 desktop, but that had a few strange bugs in it. As root I could configure the desktop any way I liked, but as an ordinary user I could configure everything except for the panel (equivalent to the Windows task bar). The biggest problem was that none of the distros I tried would recognise the existence of the ISA sound and lan cards. The sound card not being recognised did not surprise me, but the Lan card did. Linux is usually pretty hot on anything to do with networking, and the Lan card was nothing that exotic. I even knew that it needed the wd module to work, but my memory of using "insmod" is sketchy to say the least. So basically I gave up.

 When I reconnected the original drives (hard disk and dodgy CD drive) to the box and booted up Windows crashed during the boot process. I had altered the jumpers on the Lan card and Windows panicked. I had to resort to re-installing Windows before it all worked correctly. I think I will put the PC in my bedroom for listening to internet radio. Although the machine is slow and cranky it does connect to the internet OK and plays mp3 streams OK.

 That just about sums up my whole day. I finished with that PC with just 15 minutes to spare before the latest episode of Enterprise showed on Sky One. I had remembered to watch that, but totally forgot about The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy on BBC Radio 4 at 18.30. I'll have to wait until 23.00 tomorrow to hear that.

 I'm not sure what I am doing today. I think that Iain may be round to pick up and deliver the spare PC that I am selling. It would be nice if it happened today as I would hopefully have some money for drinking tonight (and shopping tomorrow morning).