MAY 2005

Catford Beer Festival 2005


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Tuesday 31st May 2005

05.50 BST

Weather - slightly hazy, but dry and bright

 Yesterday's rain slowly fizzled out, and by 09.00 had dried up totally. The rest of the day stayed bright and dry, but there was little actual sunshine.

 I did finally go back to bed after I had written yesterday's diary entry. I slept through to aabout 09.00. After I got up again I was a bit aimless. I didn't really know what I wanted to do. After conemplating thinbgs for an hour os so I decided to investigate whether an ancient PC I have could be useful as a fileserver. A simple test revealed that it would be useless. It's BIOS would not even recognise a 4GB hard disk. A 4GB disk would be uselessly small for a fileserver, but it was what I decided to experiment with. While I had the box open I got the urge to experiment a bit further. The BIOS was quite happy to recognise a slightly decrepit 1.6GB hard disk, and I decided to try a couple of Linux distributions on it to see how it fared. The PC itself uses a lowly 75MHz Pentium processor which is couple with just 42Mb of RAM. It runs Windows 95 fairly competently, and will play mp3 files with a tiny bit of capacity left for doing other things (In fact it will play internet radio stations OK). The first thing I noticed was that the old CD drive was having some trouble with bootable Linux disks on CDR. So as well as having a hard disk hanging out the side I now added an alternative CD drive precariously perched on top. The BIOS does not know how to boot from a CD so I had to use a floppy based boot manager.

 First of all I tried Storm Linux. It seemed very unhappy and the installation ground to a halt. So then I tried Turbo Linux. That seemed far happier with the hardware. Even better it had the option of using cfdisk to partition the hard disk. The base Linux tool for partitioning uses the same name as it's Windows equivalent - fdisk - but is far trickier to use. I was making good progress when the doorbell rung......

 My initial thought upon opening the door was that I was being called on by a pair of Jehova's Witnesses. Then I did a double take and realised that it was Mike and his Wife Debbie. I knew that they were coming over from Canada, but didn't realise that they had
already arrived. They did try and warn me they were coming to see me, but had had difficulty with my phone number when dialled from London (Mike knows the number when dialled as an international number from Canada, but had forgotten the 8 after the 020).  So there I was wearing my most comfortable, but heavily stained and worn out ragged trousers, a t-shirt with half my breakfast smeared down the front, and the place was in a total mess (given enough advanced warning I can get the living room from exceptional mess to light mess without too much trouble). It was 18 years ago since I last saw Mike, and it was good to see him again. He brought me a couple of "luxury" items as a present. There was a 1 Litre bottle of Glenlivet single malt scotch whisky, and a carton of fags. The scotch was very nice, but the fags were a Godsend. My rolling tobacco seemed very dry and crumbly, and I was getting a little fed up with it (I will still finish it off because I can't afford to waste it, but at least I know that I can have an alternative from time to time).

 My Linux experimentation was put on hold and we had a good chat while sampling some of the scotch. By 18.30 Debbie was keen to go an eat and Mike offered to buy me some food. As I had stuffed myself shortly before he arrived I declined his offer. Debbie wanted an Indian so I directed them to The Himalaya Tandoori and arranged to meet them in the Weatherspoons pub (The London And Rye) after they had finished their meal. While they were out I tried to quickly finish installing Linux, but made a gross cock-up in the video configuration and had to abandon it for another time. In the meantime I tried to get hold of Iain, Howard and Kevin to see if they wanted to join us in the pub. I left a message on Kevin's voicemail. Howards phone just rang and rang, but I did manage to talk to Iain, Iain, who has never met Mike, but knows of him, said he would definitely be up for a drink (no change there then), and subsequently Kevin called me back to say he would be along later. I had lent a spare mobile phone to Mike so he could let me know when he had finished the meal and was heading for the pub. When the call came Iain (who had decided to leave his car outside here) and myself wandered up the road to the pub. Kevin turned up in the pub about 45 minutes after we had started drinking. It turned out to be an excellent evenings drinking. We left the pub sometime before closing time, around 22.30 I think, and I came home. I was buzzing too much to go to bed so I turned on the TV and watched the last half of the film Total Recall.

 This morning I though I had an interview with my New Deal Advisor at the Job Centre, but it turns out that I only have to sign on. The interview is in a fortnights time. The difference is negligable, but the full interview would take some 30 - 40 minutes instead of just (hopefully) 5 minutes. I am not sure what I am doing today. It is possible that Mike will be visiting Greenwich today, and if so, I may tag along for a little while and show him a good record shop. I don't know if I will pursue that Linux installation today, or whether I'll just reconnect the old drives and shove the PC back in the cupboard for another time. At some time I will probably use the PC for listening to internet radio in my bedroom using a really dim and clapped out Philips monitor attached to it, but first I'll have to try and make up about a 4 metre RJ45 patch lead to connect it into my network.

 Here is some advanced warning for people like Bob and Roger. There is a good chance that Mike will be joining us for our Wednesday night drink. The Ram is closed for redecoration this week so we will probably meet in The Copperfield (old Railway Tavern). I have a fear that it will be a dreadfull experience drinking in there so we may move on to The London and Rye (opposite Boots in the high street). Ring me for final details nearer the time.
Monday 30th May 2005 (bank holiday)

05.00 BST

Weather - raining

It's a bank holiday - It's raining ! There is order in the world after all ! Most of yesterday afternoon, and into the evening it was fairly overcast, but it was dry.

 It was a strange day yesterday. After writing about my dream I decided to go out for an early morning stroll in the park. I left the house at 06.45 and was out for about 45 minutes. During that time it was mostly sunny, and warm enough to be comfortable in just a t-shirt. Once again I took my camera, but I took few pictures. None were exceptional, and I haven't prepared any for posting here (I might do so later).

 When I came home again I decided that I would get some more sleep. I did not bother getting into bed, but just slept on top of the bed. I guess I slept for something like two hours before waking up feeling rather peckish. I didn't have any breakfasty type food in the house so I went out to Tesco's. Despite buying stuff like bacon I ended up having a packet of chilli rice snacks (or whatever they are called) for my first food of the day. I munched through those in my studio as I selected some tracks to make up a 60 minute compilation on the subject of flying. I decided that I would mix the whole thing together using Cool Edit Pro rather than the more conventional approach of using the studio and mixer. In the end it turned out to take longer using that method, although the results were a little more accurate, and the mixes a little more interesting.

 Time seemed to be like an anstract concept yesterday. It is hard to account for all the time that passed during the afternoon. I do know that the next major timemark that passed was watching The Simpsons at 18.00. That finished at 19.00 and I decided that there was nothing on TV to amuse me so I turned the set off. I then uploaded my mixing effort to an ftp server (where I was surprised to see one of my earlier efforts still in existence). It took just over an hour to upload. During that time I did some reading. By 20.30 I thought I may as well go to bed and continue my reading there. By 23.00 (or maybe a little earlier) my eye lids were drooping, but I had come to the end of the book. I turned out the light and would have been asleep instantly if Nelly had not decided to come and sit on my bed to purr me to sleep.

 This morning I had contemplated another early morning stroll in the park, but I will not be doing it in the rain. Instead I think I'll go back to bed for a few hours. After that I may put in a few hours in my workshop and/or do some PC related stuff.
Sunday 29th May 2005

00.26 BST

Weather - very cool, but dry and calm

 I've recently got back from the party I attended. As parties go it was a success, but I did not really enjoy it much more than an ordinary night at the pub. One thing I did enjoy was the food.There was lots of it, and as I write this there is a good chance that Howard is still tucking into it. Strangely enough I drank less at the party than I would at the pub. The total for the night was just three scotches, but I did drink a fair number of diet cokes. I spent all the time in the garden as it was slightly warm inside. Outside it was very fresh, but for me it was just comfortable in a T-shirt, although other people were feeling the cold a bit. The other factor was that it was a bit claustrophobic inside with so many strangers there.
Roger, Andy, Pam and IainI was considering taking my camera, or even my camcorder, but in the end just used the crap camera in my phone to take this one picture of Roger, Andy, Pam and Iain (and a bit of Howard's chest !).

 After a brisk walk home I soon warmed up, and it now feels very close indoors and I feel quite sweaty. I can't quite work out if I am ready for bed, or not, yet. I do feel sort of tired, but my brain is restless. I doubt there is anything on TV, and even if there is I will probably suddenly feel tired and have to turn off in the middle of a programme. I think I will probably do some reading in bed instead. Ideally I should get to sleep very soon as I fancy getting up very early and taking another walk around the park while it is quiet. That assumes that the morning turns out to be bright and sunny.

So I'll finish for now with happy birthday to Kathy and Kevin, and good morning to all the revellers.

05.55 BST - minor update
 I have
just woken up from an unusually erotic dream. It started with being in a pub with Bob, Roger and Kevin. At least  think they were all there, and there may have been others. The pub was in Southend (I think), and we were there so Bob could get his home made wine either filtered or distilled using some elaborate apparatus owned by a Frenchmen. For some reason we also had a load of electronic stuff with us that was in partial states of dismantlement so that memory cards, and other stuff, could be easily swapped between them. As the day progressed more and more of this stuff was stolen. I kept wandering off to try and find the stuff. I was getting fairly angry at not finding it and must have been looking very fierce when I discovered that the pub had a public bar that I had not previously noticed. When I looked in there, over what looked like a bar (that is bar as found in a pub) I saw all our stuff piled up. One young joker immeadiately confessed that they had done it for a laugh and would have soon brought it all back to us. I remarked that it was lucky that he didn't get his legs broken for a laugh. To make amends he offered me a drink and suggested that I should stay and have a chat with his friends - who were all girls ! Very soon after he made a strategic exit and left me with these girls. I was not very interested in any of them as they all seemed a little young, but one took an interest in me. She had slightly Indian features, and was dressed in t-shirt and jeans.  She started kissing me. Just little pecks at first, and then followed by an unusual, but very sensual, technique of just gently rubbing  her lips over mine. Things were looking up until the bar staff changed shifts and she announced she had to go, and disappeared behind the bar. A few seconds later she reappeared and thrust a £5 note in my hand saying that she had not forgotten that she owed me a drink, and then she went again. It was not the sort of climax I might hope for, but it was a very good second best. As in real life I was broke and a fiver is a fiver !!
Saturday 28th May 2005

13.30 BST

Weather - bright and sunny, but very windy

 Just for a change I have added an afternoon update. This morning I went out to the park with my camera. It was very pleasant out there, but an hour or so was enough in that bright sunshine. Any more and there is a chance I could have started to burn, although that was not my prime consideration. The park was looking nice and green, but there seemed to be far fewer photo opportunities than last time in April (or read about it here). Last time I made seperate web page for those photos, but this time I'll show them here.
Duck on The River Ravensbourne
Strange looking tree
Woodpecker activity
Duck on The R.Ravensbourne
Strange looking tree
Woodpecker activity
View to the west of the park - May
West view from park - April
Click on any image
to see a bigger view
(You will need to your
browsers "back" button
to come back here)
View looking west - May
View looking west - April

 I have included the last picture as an example of the difference just 6 or 7 weeks makes to the amount of foliage on the trees. Although the angle is slightly different they are of the same path as it makes it's way to the western boundary of the park.

The stray catFinally, one more picture. This is the stray cat that I have been befriending.(once again you can click on the picture for a larger image). I must remember to buy some tuna fish when I am shopping next. It is an excellent lure, and last time I offered some (a few days ago) I got within 6 inches of the cat before it skittered away.
05.45 BST

Weather - dry and cool, slightly cloudy

 Yesterday was hot, very hot !  Apparently in central London the temperature hit 32° C. This morning it is surprisingly chilly. I am sure it must have been a very clear night that let all the heat escape into space. Yet it is cloudy this morning, and the interior of the house is still very warm.

 Although the temptation of an afternoon in a beer garden was very strong, and would have been irresistable had I realised how hot and sunny the day would turn out, I decided that I could not afford to go out. There were two parts to that equation. First the lack of ready cash, and then the opportunity to correct that problem in the future. So I elected to stay in. It was very hot and uncomfortable in my workshop, but I managed to make some headway, but progress was slow. By 13.00 I gave up for what was initially just a lunch break, but actually for the rest of the day.

 Until then I had not opened any windows in the house (apart from the bathroom window). When I had finished in my workshop I decided to go out and buy New Scientist, some fags and some tobacco. I opened my front door and was greeted by an almost furnace like blast of hot air. My porch, although not enclosed, can trap the heat of the sun even on cool days, but this was no trapped heat. All the air outside was baking hot. It did feel good to be out in it for just the 15 minutes it takes to walk to Tesco and back again. There was just enough air movement to keep sweat to a minimum, although some of the air movement was just from walking.

 It was probably a mistake to open several windows around the house when I got in. The air outside was a lot hotter than indoors, Yet I did open some windows, and soon the temperature of my upstairs front room was as hot as outside. Prior to opening the window is was almost comfortable up there, but afterwards put paid to any idea I might have had of spending any time in my studio. In the end I spent most of the afternoon, and part of the early evening flitting between reading, the PC and TV.

 When I finally went to bed, soon after Have I Got News For You, say, 21.40, there was still a lot of light left in the sky. I read for perhaps 30 minutes, and it was only just dark outside when I fell asleep. It was too hot to actually get into bed. So I just fell asleep on top of the duvet. It was 04.30 before I woke up feeling too cool and decided to cover myself up. By 05.30, when Nelly first called for her breakfast, I was feeling uncomfortably hot under the duvet, and that is why I am up at this very early hour for a Saturday morning.

 My plans for today are to get back into my workshop for at least a couple of hours (although I will probably go back to bed for an hour or two once I have finished here). After time in my workshop I have a blank space in my day until Dr Who at 18.00 (or 18.30 - must check !). A little while after that I have a social appointment.

 I am not really looking forward to the social engagement. It will be "OK", but these things promise so much and deliver so little. It is true that you get out of them what you put into them. I guess I just don't have the knack of enjoying these things properly. Maybe I just don't like crowds (I don't), but there is always the fantasy optimism that this one will turn out differently. The most attractive thing about this one is that it is close enough to home to duck out anytime I get too bored.
Friday 27th May 2005

07.00 BST

Weather - bright, sunny and almost warm

 It feels strange on two counts this morning. Firstly it is starnge that I am up so early considering how late it was I went to bed this morning. Secondly it feels sort of strange that I no longer have to go into Greenwich three times a week. I may as well add one more strange thing. It is strange to be able to sit here quite comfortably while the the window is open. The draught coming in is fresh, but not the icy blast that would have happened in recent times. I can't actually remember when it was last warm enough in the morning to do this.

 At the end of my session at Greenwich I asked what my score had been on the literacy test we all took on the first day there. Presumably this was done to find out who couldn't get jobs because they could not read 'n' rite proper. I was most gratified to learn that I had scored 10 out of 10. (I wonder what happened to the other 10 questions I answered). In reality it is not much to boast about. The test was barely above 11-plus standard as measured when I was that tender age. By today's schooling standards it was probably equivalent to an "A" level !

 During the afternoon I made a deliberate attempt to be very lazy. I spent much of the time watching TV, reading, sleeping and eating far more cheap ice cream than is good for me (or probably good for anyone)(but it was very nice !).

 By 20.30 it was time to head down to the pub. Unusually I was the first one there. It felt very warm when I got into the pub. I presume the air conditioning had failed again as the front door was left wedged open. After a pint of cold Stella Artois I cooled off a bit. I think the beer could have been a little colder than it was, but it was still delicious. We had a good chat and about 4 or 5 pints before last orders when I went home again. I then watched The Bill while eating some revolting low fat roast potatoes. I don't think they liked the very long low teperature roast I subjected them to. The "Aunt Bessies" one I did the wek before were perfect cooked like that, but these Tesco's ones were hard, dry and pretty nasty ! When I subsequently went to bed I was not sure how tired I was so I tried a little reading. At first I was feeling fine, but after 4 or 5 pages it quickly became apparent that I was knackered. Within minutes of putting the book down, and turning off the light, I was fast asleep. I seem to recall that was at 01.40 so maybe I read a little more than 5 pages (perhaps it was 00.40).

 This morning I feel fairly alert, but I may go back to bed for an extra hours snooze. After that I have several options. One option is most likely - Tesco's for tobacco and a copy of New Scientist. After that things become more complicated. I could spend a long time reading New Scientist, or I could start on a little project that should bring in some drinking vouchers. One complication is that I would like to go for a long beer in the beer garden of The Herne. It should be a beautiful day. Just the sort of day that beer gardens are made for. The problem is that I have spent my beer budget for the week (and future weeks until I obtain some more money). Next week I should be selling a spare computer so I could ask for a sub from Ivor, but I don't like to borrow money unless I know for 100% definite that I can pay it back (i.e. hardly ever).  Iain says to just come anyway, money or not, but it is a delicate situation and one that challenges my morals. Is it better to upset people by sponging beer from them, or better to upset people by ignoring them ? Either way seems a losing option. I could certainly get to the pub. The fares are prepaid by the weekly bus pass used fo getting to the Greenwich Programme Centre (and paid for by them). I could also afford just one pint from the loose change in my pocket, but I dare not get money from my bank account. For the last two months it has been in the black, but my account is finely balanced to pay my monthly bills and leave a little left over for emergencies like food or tobacco. The simple answer is that I should knuckle down and do the neccesary to gain drinking vouchers, but that sunshine does look very enticing............
Thursday 26th May 2005

06.45 BST

Weather - hazy sky with weak sunshine, mild

First off, apologies to Bob who went to the pub last night. Kevin warned us in advance that he could not make the pub last night so we recheduled for tonight.

 Yesterday was my second to last session at The Programme Centre in Greenwich. (Today will be my last one there.) It was not a very exciting morning, and the afternoon was none too thrilling either. With nothing on TV in the evening at 21.00 I decided to go to bed and do some reading. I was half way through the first short story by Isaac Asimov when Bob phoned to see if anyone was going to the pub. I might possibly have joined him if I wasn't already in bed.

 I finally turned the light out shortly before 23.00 and was asleep very soon after. I woke again at 01.30 with heartburn. That served me right for eating a big bag of peanuts late in the evening. After a drink of water (and a quick pee) I was able to get back to sleep again. I was woken up again by Nelly at 05.00 demanding her breakfast. She woke me from a dream that was both strange and not strange. The strange part was that I was in India. The not strange part was that it was like real life. i.e. no flying, no fast running, no not being able to run - in other words nothing fantastical. I think I was on holiday, but I don't know if I was part of a group or acting individually. I was investigating a railway station to see whaat the train service was like, and what time the trains were due to run. The station was quite basic and rather shabby. I was just leaving there when a train pulled in. To my amazement it was an old British Southern Region slam door train. I knew I just had to get on it. So I went straight back to the hotel to get my stuff (for some reason I expected it to stay in the station for about an hour). To get back to the hotel I had cross a road or two. The traffic was very light. In fact I can only recall about 4 cars. At least one of these was a Morris Minor traveller, and the others were other late 1950's - early 1960's type cars. They were all in excellent condition but driven most erratically with little regard to driving on any particular side of the road. I got back to the hotel safely and announced that I had found the perfect train to continue our journeys. Unfortunately someone was having a tantrum and had locked themselves into the room where all our baggage was. It was as we were milling around waiting to get into this room that Nelly howled at me to get her breakfast. So I never did get a chance to travel on that old train.

 I fed Nelly and went straight back to bed and was soon asleep again. I'm sure I dreamed again, and I think it was about telephones, or telephone exchanges, but I cannot recall anything of it. I awoke again at about 06.30. One thing I can recollect now was that for some reason I woke up at around 04.00, or maybe just a bit earlier. Whenever it was, I did note that the eastern sky was beginning to lighten. This reminded me that it is less than a month away to midsummers day, and yet it is still often rather chilly.

 As I said at the beginning I am doing my last session at the Programme Centre today. This afternoon I have no idea what I will be doing, but tonight is pub night. I even have a spare tenner to spend there !
Wednesday 25th May 2005

06.30 BST

Weather - dull and grey, but dry

 Yesterday started off very dull and grey, like this morning, but unlike this morning there were a few light sprinkles of rain. Towards the evening the skies cleared and the last few hours of daylight were bright and clear with only a few fluffy clouds in the sky. It would be nice if the same happened today - but earlier.

 After my 4 hour session in Greenwich I came home via Tesco's. From then on I had a mostly lazy afternoon. I did spend some indeterminate time in my workshop, but I cannot remember how long for. It was almost certainly over 30 minutes, but I doubt it was more than an hour. By 18.00 it was time to set-up the PC upstairs to record the latest installment of The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy from BBC Radio 4. It should have been a good episode because it had Marvin (The Paranoid Android) in it, but somehow I was not over enthralled by it.

 With The HHGTTG safely recorded, edited, and saved, the next major entertainment was Enterprise on Sky One. It was a very enjoyable episode, but a two part story. So I'll have to wait a week to see how it ends. Just before it started I got a call from Iain who has found a definite buyer for one of my spare PC's.. The spare I was going to sell is on loan to Lee who had a major crash on his own PC after a virus recently. I won't be able to get that PC back in time, but I do have another spare. So after Entrerprise I fired it up and it all seemed to work OK. It had a dial up modem in it that I replaced with a network card as the new user is on (or will be on) broadband. In all likelyhood the broadband modem will be connected by USB, but a network card could still be useful. It was certainly useful here as I was able to connect the machine to my network and download the latest anti-virus and spyware tools on it. I have now pronounced it fit and able to go. I don't know when it will be picked up, but I hope it will be in time to provide beer money for next week.

 While I was installing the safety applications I had a friend pop in. It was handy that his memory was better than mine. He owed me £15 and I now have some beer money for this week (although not a lot of it).

 The stray cat continuesto gain confidence. I got my hand within a few inches of it recently. Now it is eating regularly it seems to be less starving - even to the point that it occasionally leaves some food. Although there could be another reason for that.  Yesterday it left some food and at approximately 23.00 I heard a noise in the garden. Using a torch I looked out the window to see a nice looking fox calmly tucking into the food. It seemed unperturbed that I was looking at it from not much mre than 10ft away. Perhaps it could not actually see me against the glare of the torch. It did occur to me that the stray cat may not like eating from the same area that a fox has slobbered all over. Perhaps I'll put all its food on plates in future.

 Today I am going to Greenwich for the second to last time. After that I am not sure what I will do. I think I'll make the afternoon up as it happens.
Tuesday 24th May 2005
06.45 BST
Weather - grey skies, light showers
 I'm annoyed again this morning. I thought I had found a reason why I cannot change the font colour in Nvu, but it didn't work. So I have to save up to this point........and carry on using Mozilla. The only reason I upgraded Nvu was becaause I had heard that the latest version was a little faster. The latest version seems no faster at all. Maybe it is actually slower. Perhaps it serves me right because the "latest" version for Mandrake Linux is a pre-release version of 1.0. I hope that the full release candidate will work a little better. If not I will uninstall it and re-install version 0.8.

 There was a major change in plan yesterday. By the time my hair was sufficiently dry (after washing it), and by the time my guts had settled down (after eating too much of the wrong stuff on Sunday), I decided that it was getting a little late to go to Greenwich. Besides, I was itching to get my Windows 2000 PC upstairs working again. So I changed back into my comfy trousers and proceeded to re-install Windows 2000 as a fresh installation. This time it worked perfectly. I then spent a few more hours re-installing some software and customising Windows to the way I like it.

 The next step was to see if it made any differene to my DVD burner. Sadly it didn't. So out it came and I swapped it with the drive from this Linux box. That drive is a fairly old Toshiba CD burner/DVD reader. It worked OK as I expected it would, although it only writes at x4. I then installed the DVD burner into my Linux box. Initially all was doom and gloom until I realised that I had not pressed the connector home on the IDE lead on the motherboard. (It needs the skills of a limbo dancer's fingers to get to). K3b, a Linux CD/DVD burning program, recognised it and I tried to write a DVD on it. Just like on Windows it failed almost as soon as it started. I have to conclude that it now a mere CD Writer/DVD reader combo drive. It also failed when trying to write a CD at x16, but the error message blamed the media (cheap and cheerful 5 Star disk). They worked OK at x8 speed writing. The "5 Star" disks claim to be "multispeed", but I think they may be limited to a lower speed. It does seem that K3b  tries to stay to the writing speed selected, whereas something like Nero Burning ROM will say that it is burning at some huge speed, but only after it finishes does it say (in small print) "actually written at xxxx".

 I spent some time in the afternoon evaluating the audio recording/editing program Cool Edit Pro 2. Compared with version 1.2 the interface has changed very slightly, but the big difference is that it seems to keep undo data on the fly. That does speed things up a bit. The mp3 encoder also seems to be a smidgeon faster, although I was only working on very short bits of audio so it is hard to judge.

 Today I am definitely going to Greenwich for a 4 hour session. After that I think I need to spend an hour in my workshop. After that...who knows?
Monday 23rd May 2005
07.00 BST
Weather - light cloud with some sunshine
 I am slightly annoyed this morning. Yesterday I upgraded Nvu (the html editor used to compose this page) to the most up-to-date version I could find after Iain suggested the version I was using was a little outdated. Now I find I can't change the colour of the text, and I can't turn on fully justified text placement. Admittedly the version I downloaded was a pre-release candidate, but it seems more buggy than a piece of Microsoft software. So I have had to resort to using the Mozilla html editor to write this mornings entry.

 It seems a lot of things broke yesterday. For a lot of yesterday not a lot happened that was worth recording, but in the evening things got a tiny bit interesting. It started with me pondering why my DVD writer on the Windows 2000 machine upstairs can no longer write to DVD's without generating an "internal target error" failure message. Previously I had installed new burning software to see if that had anything to do with it. It didn't, so last night I decided to flash the internal firmware of the drive. I found some software that changed the drive from a Teac (who made the badge on the front) to a Pioneer (who actually built the drive). That worked in as much the drive is now reported as a Pioneer, but it would still not burn a DVD even in simulation mode. My next bright idea was that maybe something had become corrupted in Windows. So I put in a CD with what I beleive is s slightly later release of Windows 2000 and selected "upgrade". It seemed to install OK, but after the usual couple of reboots it announced that a driver loader module was missing and gave me the BSOD - blue screen of death. (assuming you can read blue screen of death - I had to do that effect in Nvu which has a text highlighter - and it actually works !!!).  So it seems I have terminally broken my Windows 2000 PC in the studio. Today I will have to find time to re-install windows instead of just upgrading it. If the DVD writer still will not write to DVD's (it's still OK with CD's) I will put plan B into operation - I'll swap it with the CD writer/DVD reader in this Linux box and see what K3b (a linux CD/DVD burning application) can make of it.

 This morning I am at the Programme Centre in Greenwich. I am now in week 13, and that is the final week. So just another 12 hours to go and then I'll be free again. Free to do what ?

 If you have been following the saga of the stray cat in my garden there is some news. I have now managed to get up very close to it. Even to the extent that it has almost sniffed my hand. It is still very jumpy and will not come for food until I have stood well back out of the way. It is a voracious eater for such a small cat, and once it starts eating I can then slowly creep up on it. We have to play a little game where I pretend not to be interested in it, but day by day I get a little closer. If it had been just a little warmer this morning, and I had more patience, I might have got close enough to stroke it. It will happen in a few more days, and then my troubles will start, or perhaps it would be more true to say that Nelly's troubles start. Within a few weeks it may be brave enough to venture into the house. Nelly will be disgruntled, and I'll have to start worrying about fleas and the like.

 Time now to shower and get dressed. This morning I have the luxury of new socks to put on. I finally remembered to see if Tesco had any in stock, and judged that my finances were good enough to pay for them. I can now pension off several pairs that are holier than the pope.
Sunday 22nd May 2005

07.00 BST

Weather - clear and bright

 I spent most of yesterday morning sorting out, downloading, and burning to CD, software for Lee. His PC was so devastated by a viral infection that I suggested he reformat and re-install. In some ways this would be the cowards way out, but in his case there was little to lose by doing it. He had only installed Windows 2000 a few days previously and had caught the infection either from downloading a load of Windows patches, or more likely when downloading a copy of Winzip from some dodgy source. To provide some protection I have downloaded fresh files for AVG antivirus, Spybot Search And Destroy, and Adaware (and of course a safe copy of Winzip). He is under strict orders to install these first before even going anywhere near the internet ! For even greater safety I have persuaded him to try and use Linux for all his online usage. So with the aid of some (!) telephone support he has successfully installed a copy of Xandros Linux. By sheer good luck his internal modem is an old ISA model that appears as a com (tty) port. Xandros detected it at Com 6 (presumably /dev/tty5), and he has successfully connected to the internet with it. Initially it looked as if the boot menu had disappeared, and therefore he had lost access to his Windows 2000 partition, but apparently it was just that his "wonderful" LCD monitor made the writing of the menu so indistinct that he had failed to notice it. When he looked closer it was there, and he did have access to both operating systems.

 Lee was very impressed by the way that Xandros identified all his hardware, including the make and model of the LCD monitor. When I last spoke to him I think he was beginning to be impressed with all the applications that had also been installed during the installation process. If he was impressed with that he would have been amazed at what could have been installed if he had to install Mandrake. I wasn't sure if Xandros would go on his PC so I copied  my DVD of Linux Mandrake for him as a fall back option. Given sufficient disk space he could have had umpteen different web browsers, loads of e-mail clients, 3 office suits, huge quantities of media players, and umpteen assorted other applications. I think Xandros's limited selection of applications is actually a better idea for a Linux newbie. Having said that, their selection does match my preferred selection of applications. When I installed Xandros on a spare PC the only extra I downloaded from their website was Nvu - the application I am using right now to write this blog.

 After Lee had picked up the disk I had burnt ( 5 cd's and 1 DVD) he slipped me some money for my efforts. That allowed me to buy a copy of Micro Mart (and fags and diet coke) so I spent some of the afternoon reading Micro Mart. That was followed by a rather good episode of Dr Who on TV. Soon after that I got a call from Patrick. He had bought and downloaded a music track from Tesco's online record store. Unfortunately it was in Windows wma format, and these will not play on his Apple Mac computer. There is an application that he has that can convert wma files to mp3 format, but it would not work with this file. The reason was Digital Rights Management (or DRM). Before the file can be decrypted to play it has to access an online database (www.247licence.com) to check if it legal to play it. So poor old Patrick has wasted his money on a file he cannot play, and even if he could he would have to be online to authorise it. And record companies wonder why music swapping by mp3 is still so popular ! Patrick e-mailed the file to me (a 30+ minute download on my slow dial up connection) to see if I could do anything with it. After a lot of faffing around the only thing I managed to do was to find out was the internet address that was supposed to authorise the playing of it -
I had to report back to Patrick that he had bought a dud. He was not impressed with Tesco's online music sales !!

 After all that I decided to just vegetate in front of the TV for the rest of the evening. There was nothing very exciting on, but I can say that I managed to avoid any Eurovision Song Contest stuff. In fact I am proud to say that so far this morning I have no idea who won (or even took part). Maybe something decent won, but that seems so unlikely that it is not even worth contemplating.

 Today I have no particular plans. I might take a wander to Tesco's (yes I can hear the shouts of HATE ! HATE ! from Patrick). I might take a look at an old PC I have in my cupboard. The PC that I did have a buyer for (and still might have) is on loan to Lee in case his new instalation went belly up, so it would be handy to have another spare working in case the buyer for the loan PC announces he now wants to buy it.
Saturday 21st May 2005

07.00 BST

Weather - overcast, but mild

 Yesterday felt so much like a Saturday that I woke up all confused about what day it was today. It is dedinitely a Saturday today ! The weather forecast is for a rainy day, and yet the sun is trying to break through the murk at this time.

 I had a very lazy day yesterday. I did go back to bed for a lay in after writing my diary up. It was almost 11.00 before I had got up again, showered, washed my hair, and finally got dressed. Most of the day seemed to pass by very quickly, and yet I can hardly say I was fully occupied. I spent a fair amount of time sorting, and burning to disks, some old audio files for John. I don't think he realises the size of my archive of old tape recordings. Archiving, or perhaps more accurately digitising, my old tape collection of radio programmes is a job that I am really only half way through, but so far I have around 40 - 50 GBytes of mp3 format data. I really ought to do some more some day.

 I went to bed soon after midnight, but had a very unpleasant experience while in bed. It is something that I have experienced before, but last night it was perhaps a little worse than any previous time. I think what happened was that I woke up again within a few seconds of falling alseep. My brain had sent all it's signals to tell my body to go into sleep mode, but my brain had suddenly become concious again. There was a short time lag before my body got the message that it was supposed to be awake. In that short time, possibly less than a second, it felt like my breathing and heart had stopped, and I was semi paralysed. There was also a sort of disorientated feeling - almost, but not quite like a sensation of falling. All those sensations were over in no time at all, but I was now fully awake trying to make sense of what had just happened. It all felt rather unpleasant so I was slightly reluctant to go back to sleep again. The next thing I knew was that it was morning !

 Today I have no specific plans beyond doing a few essentials like the laundry. I may have to sort out a loan PC for Lee who seems to have suffered a terrible virus infection on his own PC. If he takes my advice he'll bring his PC here and I'll reformat the hard disk and make it dual boot Windows and Linux. He can then use Linux while on the internet, or boot to Windows to do other stuff. Meanwhile he can try and wreck my spare PC.
Friday 20th May 2005

06.15 BST

Weather - dull, grey and raining

 It's a lousy overcast rainy morning, but I feel OK apart from another mild hangover, and a definite lack of sleep. I can sum up most of yesterday until 17.00 with :- Programme Centre, Tesco, eating, reading, and sleeping.

 It was when I was picked up to go to the pub that things got more interesting. It was a wet murky drive to Barming where I was drinking with the old "comrades". I am not sure what time it was that Iain got me to the pub, but it was at least 90 minutes before the first person turned up. That was Kevin, and he was followed in turn by Bob and Roger, John, Patrick, and finally last of all, Pam. Actually, I am not so sure about the correct order apart from Kevin being definitely first and Pam last. There is not a lot worth recording about the evening apart from it was a nice drink and get-together, and that Pam was looking exceptionally good (and wearing a very sexy top). I wish I had taken a camera to take a few pictures !

 I got home again at around midnight and watched some TV. I had recorded a couple of programmes, but I was too tired to watch both of them. One was still recording when I got home so I watched quite a lot of a fascinating programme about geology while waiting for the recorder to finish. I think it was 01.45 before I turned out the light and fell instantly into sleep.

 This morning I might still have been sleeping now if Nelly had not demanded her breakfast in the loudest way she could manage. I'll probably go back to bed for an hour once I have finished writing here. Later on I will do what I should have done yesterday - visit the internet cafe. I intend it to be a short visit. Apart from that I have some backing-up to do on a couple of PC's, and I may investigate getting hold of some ink for my printers. Who knows how I might fill in the rest of day ?
Thursday 19th May 2005

07.00 BST

Weather - dull, damp and grey

 Not a lot happened of any note yesterday. I came home from the Programme Centre and had some lunch while watching an old black and white film called "Watch Your Stern". It starred Kenneth Connor, Leslie Philips, and many others more often associated with the "Carry On" films. When that finished I went upstairs and had a snooze for at least an hour, but it could have been longer.

 When I woke up I had a quick play with the computer I had installed Xandros on, but I felt quite cold and shivery after the snooze. So I fairly quickly gave up on upstairs and came downstairs and put some heating on. A bit more TV watching and e-mail checking, and it was time for the pub. I decided to stick with drinking Stella Artois instead of Youngs bitter. It was crazily expensive, but much more pleasant than the bitter.

 I think I must have had the exact right amount to drink because I came home feeling rather happy for no apparent reason. I had left some potatoes roasting in the oven while I was out. They were rather delicious while I sat down and watched a recording of The Bill. I managed to get into bed by 00.15 which is a fair bit earlier than I would normally manage after a session in the pub.

 During the night I had a dream that was an interesting twist on reality. It was a Sunday and I was on some sort of work placement. The work placement had something to do with railways, but I cannot rememeber what it was. What I do remember was that I met up with someone in the goods sidings (now long gone) at Catford Bridge station. He had a large, bright yellow, Land Rover type vehicle that could run on the rails as well as the road. Although initially parked on the rails we drove out onto the road and through Ladywell Park toward Ladywell Station. In this dream the railway actually went under the park in a tunnel. At Ladywell we saw a strange sight. There was a double decker old fashioned tram in the station. It was then that I remembered that there was a tram gala taking place on the line and that there was an all day ticket available for £2. So for the rest of the day (dream) we abandoned whatever we were supposed to do and rode the wide variety of trams between Ladywell and West Wickham. I am sure there was far more detail in the dream, but that seems to be lost forever now.

 Today, despite a very mild hangover, and a very lethargic feeling, I am going to do my last session for the week in the Programme Centre in Greenwich. When I have finished there I will be calling in at the Internet Cafe. The boss called me yesterday and suggested I call in. I expect he wants another favour from me, but I am not really interested, and yet it could be the only way I will get some pocket money for next week.  Hopefully I will be selling a PC soon, and that will earn enough to buy some fags and booze for the week. I then no longer have to act as slave labour at the internet cafe. Of course it would be even better if I could start one of the many jobs I have applied for.

 I am not planning to spend more than half an hour, or so, at the internet cafe because I have some stuff to do here. High on the agenda is some shopping. I need more catfood, and I need more human food. Then I need to eat before getting myself ready for another night of boozing in deepest Kent. Tonight will finally exhaust my boozing budget (£10) for the foreseeable future unless I succomb to spending hateful time looking after the internet cafe, or something better comes along. Maybe I'll go temporary teetotal rather than going to the internet cafe !
Wednesday 18th May 2005

06.45 BST

Weather - sunny with some high cloud

Yesterday was quite a productive day. Perhaps productive is not quite the right word, but close enough. It was certainly an enjoyable day. It started with my visit to the job centre. This in itself was not enjoyable, but it was a nice enough morning to go out without a coat on (just !). My appointment was thankfully brief and stress free.

 When I got home again I decided to tackle my computer projects again. First off was the slimline PC built into the ancient 486 case that I mentioned the day before. The motherboard in it does have a socket to connect an external P/S2 mouse socket, but I could not find the lead for it anywhere. So I decided to abandon trying to install Xandros on it. Instead I put in an old 800MB hard disk and installed Windows NT4 on it. NT4 is broadly equivalent to Windows 95 in terms of the desktop and mouse action. It scores one better than Windows 95 in that the installation CD is bootable (there is no floppy disk drive in that PC). The installation went smoothly as did several other programs.  It now has Open Office on it plus Winamp and several other useful programs. One final thing I did was to remove a stick of RAM and replace the AMD K6-2/500 processor with a Pentium (1) MMX 200MHz. It does struggle to play video files, but plays mp3 music files with capacity to spare. It can now go back into the cupboard until I play with it again.

 After my success there I tackled Xandros again. I used a machine that I had briefly tried it on before with no success. It is a machine using a Pentium III 450MHz processor. The problem was that the machine would go into a permanent state equivalent to standby during the installation process. I solved that (after loads of wasted time) by replacing the graphics card. The next problem was that it would loose the CD drive. I don't know what was going on, but it was the fourth CD drive I tried that actually worked. The one mounted in the machine is a DVD drive and is a bit lumpy when reading some disks. The next drive I tried is almost brand new and will read a beer mat, but it gave the biggest trouble. Then I tried a spare CD writer. That almost worked. Lastly I tried an old beaten up DVD drive that came out of a set-top DVD player. It had been replaced in the original player because of skipping. In fact it works perfectly (it's just a shame that it is not designed for a mounting in a standard 5 inch bay). Finally Xandros installed perfectly. Once Xandros was running OK I shut down and put the original graphics card back in and reconnected the CD drive. Xandros still worked perfectly apart from it would not detect the old ISA ethernet adapter card.  Reluctantly I replaced it with my only spare PCI ethernet card and it was instantly detected and made available.

 In use Xandros is pretty neat. It was designed to lure Windows users away from Windows and does it pretty well. From the perspective of a previous Linux user it does have a few good and bad points. The bad points are that it is a little too easy to use. The names of the applications are hidden to "simplify" things. For instance clicking on "mp3 player" brings up XMMS, but until it runs you have no idea what you will get. One good thing is that compared to Mandrake Linux it does seem to be able to edit its own config files. I get the impression that Mandrake (or Mandriva as they are now called) often just appends stuff onto config files. This can cause a load of confusion. One excellent idea that works well is the Xandros Networks option. This brings up a page full of applications that can be uploaded and installed with just a couple of mouse clicks. The downside is that only Xandros approved applications are available. It's a pretty good selection, but does lack a few potentially useful applications like Audacity and Mplayer. Mplayer is perhaps not so neccesary as Xine is an excellent video player, but there is no audio editing application available. Xandros is a Debian distribution, the first I have tried, so presumably other Debian versions of applications could be instaled with little trouble. Despite the trouble I had installing it I would now recommend it to a first time Linux user instead of Mandrake Linux.

 As well as being very satisfied with my computer antics, I also had the joy of another episode of The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy, and a new Episode of Enterprise. I went to bed very satisfied at around 22.30. At 01.30 I woke up for some unknown reason. I got back to sleep very quickly for one good reason. I had remembered the dream I had the previous morning. I also remembered who the long haired blonde in the long red t-shirt like top reminded me of. It was an old Dr Who assistant Romana - except my girl did not have such a horsey face. Sadly I did not pick up on the dream where I left it the previous morning. Well I don't think I did. I cannot really remember anything of my dreams last night. I did dream, but the details seem to have been lost now.

 Today I am off to Greenwich for four hours. In the afternoon I will potter around, perhaps playing a bit more with Xandros. Being a Wednesday it will be pub night tonight. Once again I have managed to save enough to buy a small round. Tonight I will probably have some change left over as Kevin will not be coming.
Tuesday 17th May 2005

06.40 BST

Weather - sunny

 At first time seemed to pass quite slowly while I was at the Greenwich Programme Centre, but then, at some uncertain point, time seemed to speed up again. Amazingly I did find another job to apply for. At least i think I might be brave and try for it, but I do not hold out much hope that I will be judged as suitable material for the job. The job itself is a Computer Forensic Engineer. They say they are looking for someone with a keen interest in computers and who is willing to learn and develop new skills. I suppose that could be me. They seem to be based in Greenhithe, Kent. It's a long way to go, but maybe not an impossible journey. The quickest route would be by train from Hither Green, but Lewisham is the next quickest at between 32 and 43 minutes (and Lewisham is easier to get to by bus).

 Once I was home from Greenwich I did not get up to much at first. I watched some TV and had a bite to eat. Soon I got the itch to do something interesting. I don't know why but I pulled out an old PC I had originally put together as an mp3 player. It is built into an ancient low profile case originally made to hold a very basic 486 computer. It is a tight squeeze, but I have shoehorned in a mini-AT socket 7 motherboard. Fortunately the motherboard has onboard graphics and sound as I do not have the adapter to mount ISA/PCI boards in it (the adapter re-orientates the boards to lie parallel to the motherboard). I was a little amazed to find I had a very useful 25GB hard drive installed as well as an AMD K6-2/500 processor. I thought there was a beaten up old 1.6GB hard drive and a very crappy Cyrix MII CPU in there. I took out the 25GB hard drive and installed a 4GB drive to do some experiments with. First of all I installed Xandros 3.06 linux on it. The last time I tried Xandros it did not get very far into the installation before it all went horribly wrong. On this machine, with its horrible VIA VT8051 chipset, it seemed to go very smoothly. Even the sound worked first time. The was one really big problem though. I could not set Xandros to use a serial mouse instead of a PS/2 mouse !  It is very hard to navigate around a graphical desktop without a mouse. I managed a few things, but could not even get into a terminal screen to manually configure things to use a serial mouse (even if I knew how to - I sort of know in the vaguest possible terms, but it would be very much poke and hope).

 My next attempt was to see how far I could get with installing Slackware Linux. It seemed to go OK, but failed on the first reboot. I am sure that there are a few bad sectors on the disk, and one of these was probably in the area where LILO the linux boot manager was installed. At boot time instead of seeing LILO appearing on the screen all I saw was "L 99 99 99 99" with the pairs of 9's spread over about three lines. It seemed a good time to give up, but I persisted and moved on to Windows 2000. That was working OK on the hard disk I had taken out, but it died on the new hard disk during installation. I think I should have turned of AGP in the BIOS until Windows had been installed correctly. Either that or that hard disk is in a worse state than I had previously thought. After that I did give up as it was getting late.

 I woke up this morning just as a dream was getting interesting. I seemed to be lost at sea in what was more like a house than a boat. I did have one companion. She had long blonde hair and was wearing a very long red silky t-shirt over a pair of jeans. I have no idea what her name was, but she talked with a fairly exotic, possibly scandinavian, accent. We were talking about what we wore in bed when I woke up. I have a feeling I would have liked that dream to have continued just a bit longer................

 Today, at 09.00, I am due for an interview with my New Deal Adviser at the Job Centre. After that I am not sure what I want to do. If it is only a short interview I could go along to Greenwich and do another 4 hour session at the Programme Centre, but if it turns out to be a long and tedious interview I may well just come home again. If I do I will probably start playing with the PC I was mucking around with last night. Maybe I'll do that anyway even if it is much later in the afternoon after a session at Greenwich, although I could be tempted to have a snooze later in the afternoon. I do have a dream to try and re-capture !
Monday 16th May 2005

06.40 BST

Weather - mild with high clouds

 Yesterday was sort of OK. I spent quite a lot of time in my studio either ripping, recording or editing stuff. I also tried playing with some hard drives and with the settings/connections to my DVD burner. Sadly it seems that my DVD burner has died ! It will still read DVD's, and reads/burns CD's, but when I try and burn a DVD I get ann error message up saying "internal target error".  There is still one thing I have not tried yet and that is to try the drive in another machine. I think I may be swapping it with the drive in this Linux PC that I use for all internet related stuff.  If it works in it then that will be damn useful as I do have some very big back-ups  ought to be doing. I have accumulated many GigaBytes of data on here that it would be a shame to lose. (at least 50% is backed up on CDR though).

 While not in my studio I did watch some TV yesterday. I saw a new Simpsons episode - average, and the new episode of Enterprise that I missed last Tuesday - quite good. I don't know how I spent the rest of the time, but it seemed to pass quite quickly.

 Today, or more specifically this morning, I start week 12 out of 13 at the Greenwich Programme Centre. As  much as I resent being forced to go there I do like to sit down and read all the newspapers. In theory I should be well informed about current affairs, but for reasons that I cannot explain there are many things I read that just go in one eye and out the other. This is particularly so when it comes to politics !

 Later in the afternoon I am thinking that I ought to spend more time in my studio. I think there are certain musical collections that need freshening up, but maybe I will be wasting my time. Maybe I'll spend the time doing some more tests with my apparently failed DVD burner. Maybe I'll fall asleep in front of the TV.
Sunday 15th May 2005

08.20 BST

Weather - bright and sunny

 Yesterday was quite boring and I ate too much. I did spend some time in my studio, but I didn't really do anything creative. I trimmed some audio files, and ripped a few CD's, but that is all I managed. A lot of yesterday was spent in front of the TV.

 Of particular note yesterday was another episode of the new Dr Who. I thought it was a very bad episode that paid some sort of homage to the Dr Who legacy, but seemed to get it all wrong. One strange thing that I could not get my head around was that they went back in time to when Rose, the Doctors assistant, was still a baby. Why did it seem to me that Rose's mum looked older in the past compared to the present ? Obviously the make up department had to change her appearance in some way, but in my opinion they cocked it up !

 That seems to have summed up yesterday. Today I may make use of some of the prepatory work I did in the studio yesterday. In some ways my options for today are limitless, but in practice there are very few options available to keep me amused. One of those options is to eat too much like yesterday. That is one option I want to try and avoid if at all possible.
Saturday 14th May 2005

07.40 BST

Weather - grey, cold and windy

 For a brief period of time I had a new job yesterday. Unfortunately I was "sacked" before I even got to start the job ! After my four hour session I went along to the interview for this new job. Everything seemed to go well and when I left we had discussed a start date.There was some dissnt there as I was wanted on Monday, but I said the earliest would be Tuesday afternoon as I had the formalities of signing off etc. to do first. An hour later the agency, who I would effectively be working for, phoned to ask how the interview had gone. I said it had gone well and a start date had been discussed. The man from the agency then said he would arrange the details and get back to me.  Twenty minutes later he was back on the phone saying that the company had changed their mind about needing a new worker, and besides which they thought I may be more suited to a bench job (true !). The man from the agency sounded pretty pissed off, not with me, but with the company involved. He has said he will try and find some other job for me. In some respects this has been a disappointement to me, and yet it is not so bad. I doubt I would have lasted in that job for more than a few weeks. It looked a terrible place to work and the work looked pretty terrible as well. I just hope that the contract with Alcatel in Greenwich will come to fruition soon.

 Last night I still had the minor celebration that I had planned. Originally it was planned for getting a new ob, but it turned into a celebration of not getting hooked into a terrible job. The celebration consisted of trying out some food from what appears to be a new Thai Restaurant in Catford. With no prospect of any wages coming in the near future I was rather less ambitious in my ordering, but I still enjoyed some very nice food.

 I didn't fancy doing much else last night so I thought I would vegetate in front of the goggle box. Unfortunately the best thing I could find to watch was the Bond film on ITV 1. After an hour of that I got bored with it and went to bed with a copy of Micro Mart to read. By 23.00 I was fast asleep.

 Today I have the usual priorities, but nothing much else that I have to do. There is the laundry and some shopping to do (including the catfood that I was going to get yesterday), and then there is Nelly's litter tray to empty and freshen. After that I think I may play with a computer or two, or maybe spend some time in my studio, or maybe....???
Friday 13th May 2005

06.30 BST

Weather - grey and overcast, cold

 Yesterday was a very lazy day. There were one or two things I was contemplating doing, but I only achieved one. That was to send off an e-mail applying for yet another job. That set of a chain of events that contributed to my not doing much for the day. Within 5 minutes of sending that e-mail I had a phone call from the agency who had placed the original job advert.  I was asked if I would be available for an interview that same day, but it was also suggested this would be unlikely as the worker who I could be replacing was being sacked today, and they weren't sure if the employer would want his potential replacement  to be  shown around until he had been told he would be sacked.  With the promise that I would be called back later I decided to stay in and not start listening to music on headphones.  By early afternoon I had the call asking if I could attend an interview today at 14.00.  This all sounds rather hopeful as it seems that I am the only candidate being put up for the job.  It was suggested that if I was successful at the interview I would be starting work as soon as next week. I have had so many disappointments before that I will not get my hopes up until I am actually given a start date.  The job itself would not be my first choice as it is basically skilled factory work, but it does have one important attribute - it pays money !

 So this morning I had better not spend too much time writing. I have to wash my hair as well as shower before going out to the Greenwich Programme Centre. A good shave would probably be beneficial as well. If I can time it right I want to bump into Patricia before getting my bus ( I received an e-mail from her  yesterday). My session at Greenwich is from 09.30 to 13.30. That gives me 30 minutes to get to the interview. There should be no problem with that as I have the choice of two buses, although I don't know precisely where the factory is. I do know that it is on, or just off, the road that winds its way round the back of the Lewisham branch of Tesco's. I am pretty certain I have seen the place while on the train as it comes out of Lewisham on its way towards London, but somehow I cannot picture it in my minds eye.

 After the interview I must buy some more catfood. The stray cat in my garden is getting through more sachets of food than Nelly does, although she supplements her diet with "crunchies". This morning it was waiting for its breakfast just 10ft from my back door. It apparently knows when it is on to a good thing. Despite that it still runs off a little way down the garden when I open the back door. It is getting braver bit by bit. I did manage to get within 6ft of it yesterday. Soon it will let me stroke it.

 There are potentially two other good things that may happen today. I have asked Patricia if I can pop in and see her before she finishes work, It would be great if she says it is OK. The other thing depends on the result of the interview. If it looks like I will soon have a good source of income I intend to celebrate by trying out a huge meal delivered from a newly opened Thai resturant/takeaway that has opened in Catford.
Thursday 12th May 2005

07.00 BST

Weather - bright sun with some clouds

 As I predicted, my body was seriously flagging by yesterday afternoon. I came home from Greenwich and had a quick bite to eat. Soon after I was asleep on the settee for nearly two hours ! It wasn't a deep sleep as I did briefly wake up a few times during that 2 hours, but I think it did me some good.

 The remains of the afternoon, and into the early evening, were not very productive, but I did burn two DVD's and I transferred my TDK CD label printer over to the video editing machine. There seems to be no support to run that printer from Linux so I had to reboot to windows everytime I wanted to use it. The video editing machine runs Windows so it is better left there.

 In the evening it was off to the pub to meet up with Iain and Howard. I had one pint of bitter and three pints of Stella Artois - as far as I can remember. Howard seemed quite impressed with my DVD artwork. Within the severely restricted limits of my imagination I think I am getting quite good at designing stuff like that using Paint Shop Pro. There was some discussion about what the latest version of Paint Shop Pro was. I suggested that it was version 9, and that they had skipped over version 8 when the company was bought out. I couldn't remember who had bought the company. For some strange reason I thought it could have been Adobe, but as Iain pointed out that would be senseless as they already have Photoshop. The company name I was desperately searching for was actually Corel. They have now brought out an alleged complete office package that contains Wordperfect, Wordperfect mail, and Paint Shop Pro.

 I came out of the pub feeling slightly wobbly, but otherwise good. As I walked home I noticed that the sky was very clear, and the stars were very sharp. I had no recording of The Bill to watch, but I thought I would put on the telly anyway. I had noticed a curious film listed to start at 23.40. It starred, amongst others, Michael Caine, and was a comedy based around the idea that Sherlock Holmes was actually an actor hired by Dr Watson to front his stories, while it was Dr Watson who did the actual sleuthing. It was quite funny, although not hilarious. Maybe if I was sober I might have thought it boring. By 00.30 I could not keep my eyes open and had to abandon watching the film and go to bed.

 This morning I was expecting it to be very cold after seeing the clear night, last night. I was a little surprised to find it felt quite warm when I got up. Once I had come downstairs the reason was obvious. I was so tired last night that I had forgotten to turn the heater off before I went to bed.

 Today I have no concrete plans, but I will work the day around Jodie who is using the studio this afternoon. I may spend some time up there myself this morning, or I may do something completely different !
Wednesday 11th May 2005

06.30 BST

Weather - bright and sunny, but a lot of cloud

 Yesterday was a very mixed up day weatherwise. It started nice and sunny, but then a load of cloud bubbled up. During the morning I was in the Greenwich programme centre. When I went in it was brilliant sunshine. An hour later, when I had a smoke break, it was very dull and grey. Another hour later and I went outside to find there had been a torrential downpour. The rain had all but stopped then and most of the sky was blue and the sun was shining again. I guess it alternated between blue sky with sunshine, and heavy clouds with rain all day long.

 When I had finished at Greenwich I jumped onto a 177 bus towards Peckham. As it was after 13.30 I assumed that I would not be able to catch Ivor at lunch and was heading for his work to meet him after lunch. Luckily I phoned to ask the best way of getting there by bus. I found that they had started lunch late and would still be in the pub for another hour. After considering my options I jumped off the bus at New Cross Gate and caught a train to Forest Hill.

 The train I caught was one of the refurbished class 455 units run by Southern Trains. It was the first time I had travelled in one.  The interior looked a lot better for the refurbishment, but still the seats do not line up with the windows. I think that some may be a bit better aligned, but there is still a good chance that your only view is of a pillar between windows. Despite the interior improvement they still seem to be slow clanky units infinitely worse than older slam door trains, and even worse than Southeastern Networkers (class 465).

 From Forest Hill station it is short(ish) walk to The Railway Telegraph pub. You would think from its name it was be very close to the railway, but I'd guess it is some 300 - 500 yards from it. Fortunately the side entrance of the station was open which reduced the walk by 100 yards or more. The main entrance is over a huge footbridge and is on the far side of the railway to the pub. While still some 200 feet from the pub I phoned Ivor and he had a pint waiting for me when I arrived.

 After two pints (or was it three ?) we headed back to the school. Ivor was very busy with some design work, but I managed to print out my DVD cover artwork on the laser printer. I was very pleased with the result, but subsequently I discovered that the spine of the print was slightly offset from centre. I should have persevered using my own printer to make a rough print (and it would have been very rough given the state of the inktanks in it) to make sure that everything was in the right place before committing the design to CDR. With careful trimming of the paper the facing side of the artwork looks OK and the spine runs down the middle, but there is a small gap on the back page. Meanwhile Ivor was tearing his hair out trying to do something similar getting his design to line up to the paper. I think he ran off quite a few copies before he was satisfied that he had got it right.

 By about 16.00 we went for another drink in The Herne Tavern. I met Ruth there and was disappointed that I had dragged my feet for to long in selling a spare PC to one of her friends. They had gone to a computer fair and bought a basic PC for £200. I was going to sell my PC, with a B/W printer thrown in, for £60. It was suggested that I should charge more for it if they found another buyer for me. Meanwhile Iain thinks he may have a buyer for it. After one or two Pints Ivor left to go home. Iain and myself stayed for one more before walking up the hill to The Forest Hill Tavern to see if Max was around.  She was, and I was treated to a hug and a kiss. Later we were treated to bar food (roast potatoes, cheese, silverskin onions, and little savoury biscuits), although these were not specifically just for us. I was starving as I had not had anything to eat all day up till then. So I made sure I had my fair share to eat.

 I think it was around 21.00 before I got home home. I was pretty drunk, and still hungry. While cooking some food I had a couple of sandwiches. An hour later I was feeling very much worse for wear, and very bloated, so I went to bed. I fell asleep almost instantly, but was awake again at 02.40 and felt very uncomfortable. It may have been better if I had thrown up, but I didn't. From then on I managed to sleep in 30 minute segments, with the waking times being used to drink water, before finally getting up at 06.10. Funnily enough I don't feel too bad at the moment, but I suspect that I will feel rather drowsy this afternoon.

 I am due for another 4 hour session at Greenwich this morning. After that I may well come home and have a snooze for an hour or so. Then tonight it is more boozing in the pub with Iain and Howard, but maybe not Kevin.
Tuesday 10th May 2005

06.30 BST

Weather - sunny, but very chilly

 It's a bright sunny morning, but the temperature dropped quite sharply last night. The weather forecasters have suggested that it will stay sunny for most of today, and tomorrow as well. I hope it will warm up a bit during the course of today.

 Yesterday I decided that it had become too late to go to Greenwich. I could have gone in at any time, but I very much prefer to get in as early as possible (09.30) so I can get out again as early as possible, and have the rest of the afternoon to myself. The ultimate decider was when the postman dropped an envelope through my letter box. Inside was my free DVD from New Scientist about the Hubble space telescope. It lasted about an hour, or so, and was interesting to watch. Unfortunately it did not come in a proper DVD case with cover artwork. It was just literally the disk in a plastic sleeve delivered in an ordinary small paper envelope. I'm sort of surprised that it survived it's journey through the postal system.

 I decided that the DVD was worth keeping in a proper DVD case, and so I needed to design some artwork for it. I spent quite a long time on the Hubble website downloading some fantastic images. Most of the downloadable images from there are fantastic resolution with files sizes exceeding 10MB in some cases. There are also a selection of video files available there. They range from small Quicktime movies through to HUGE broadcast quality files via some intermediate mpeg files. The largest file I saw was 225MB. Next time I am at the internet cafe, and have some time on my hands I may well download some of these videos.

 It took a long time, but I think I have designed some good looking artwork to adorn the DVD case.
Hubble DVD artwork
It looks quite simple, but there is far more to it than meets the eye. For instance I had to cut out and overlay the picture of the spacecraft over the background picture of the nebula. I fear that in the full size printout out some imperfections of that cutting/overlay process will be noticable. Unfortunately my printer has run out of yellow ink, and the other inks are a little streaky, so I have not been able to see the finished product. I have e-mailed a copy to Ivor & Iain and asked if they can print it out on their colour laser printer. It should take seconds to do there instead of the 10 minutes my printer would take at maximum resolution. Maybe tomorrow night I will see the results of my hard work.

 Besides slaving over a hot computer (and Paint Shop Pro) I spent a few hours in my studio. I don't think I did anything else for the rest of the day, but it seemed to be a fairly usy day.

 Today I will definietly get to Greenwich for 09.30 (or very soon after if the traffic is heavy). After that I may go and see Ivor and Iain at work prior to going for a quick drink with them. I'll decide on that later depending on how I feel and what else happens during the morning. I may opt to come straight home and have a nap. I think I had a terribe night last night. I slept through most of the night, but I am sure I was tossing and turning all night. It feels like I was dreaming for most of the night instead of getting deep sleep. The dreams were all mixed up and did not follow any sequence. I can't really remember enough to describe what was going on. There were odd things like going through an access door in some toilets somewhere and finding a stone (or concrete) spiral staircase going up into something like a very large tower block lift room. The staircase was covered in unused (thankfully) toilet paper, and toilet rolls, and it was difficult climbing the stairs because of it.  I woke up for some unknown reason at 05.00, but fell sleep soon after. I then slept for another 90 minutes approximately. I don't recall dreaming for that 90 minutes so maybe that was my deep sleep for the night. Given the choice I would probably go back to bed again right now, but there is no time for that. Maybe I'll feel better after a good hot shower and a shave.
Monday 9th May 2005

07.45 BST

Weather - bright and sunny

 On reflection yesterday was quite a good day. I don't know why, but it didn't seem so at the time. I did achieve all I set out to do, and more. Despite the threat of rain (I did feel a few light drops) I went out without a coat to get some cat litter from the Aldi supermarket. I think Aldi is just a few tens of yards further away than Tesco, but I have never tried their cat litter. I think it is a tiny bit cheaper. Whatever the relative distances are between the two supermarkets I do know that both are a f*#!ing long way away when carrying a 10Kg bag of cat litter plus a few more bags of assorted shoping !

 Once I was back home I tucked into too many of the goodies I bought, but soon after I managed some self discipline and got myself into my workshop. After several more hours of work I finally fitted the last of 645 components and my latest project was finished. Perhaps next time I am in my workshop it will be to do some experimentation for a new original design rather than following someone else's design.

 Having finished in my workshop I sat down to vegetate in front of the TV. That soon became boring so I decided to play on the PC.  For once the internet seemed to be a little boring so I decided to try and get a few more programs working on my Linux installation.  The first was Adobe Acrobat Reader 5. Before I did a re-install after an unsatisfacory installation of Fedora Core 3, I used to have Acrobat working OK. The icon was still on my desktop, but the program would not run
(during the installation/re-installation of Linux I kept my /home directory which has the desktop stored in it). After scratching my head for a few minutes I realised it had not been re-installed. The installation of Acrobat needs to be done from the command line which sometimes stretches my knowledge a bit, but it installed OK without any problems. My next attempt was to Install Corel Photopaint 9 which I have on a couple of magazine cover disks. Despite all my best efforts that did not seem to want to install. However while exploring the installations files I did see lots of files to do with Wine. This has nothing to do with booze, but it is a set of programs to simulate a Windows type environment to allow Windows applications to run under Linux. Wine stands for Wine Is Not an Emulator.  (Read more about Wine) I already had some very limited success using Wine for some simple Windows programs, but I thought I woukl install all the other Wine files from the CD. Success ! I can now run Microsoft Word correctly (so what ?), and more usefully I can now run Paint Shop Pro without having to reboot to Windows. I think that I prefer to run Paint Shop Pro under native Windows, but it is good to know that I have an alternative. I played with several more Windows programs with mixed results. There is one program that I may attempt to get to run sometime that would be useful. That program is the interface for my scanner. Unfortunately it is too esoteric for Linux to have ever heard of it. It was a cheap grey import from that was never widely known. It would be handy to be able to use it while using Linux, although I always use it in conjuction with Paint Shop Pro, and that I will usually be using while running Windows.

 After several hours of playing with the PC I went back to watching the goggle box. On Channel Four there was a programme about the best 100 singles ever. I started watching at about number 50. There was both good and bad stuff in that top 100. Surprisngly the good stuff outweighed the bad stuff. The real surprises came in the top 10. There was one record I have never heard of in it, and quite frankly hearing it once was one times too many ! The number one singke was John Lennon and "Imagine". It was an excellent choice, but one that surprised me. I never knew there were so many old hippies around ! Great Stuff ! It was midnight before I went to bed.

 This morning I should be at the Greenwich Programme Centre in 30 minutes time. After my late night last night I stayed in bed a little longer than is desirable. And now after all this writing I don't think I will be getting to Greenwich in time. Maybe I will go tomorrow instead of today ( I have to do 12 hours a week, and no more than 4 hours a day, but beyond that I can choose my own times).

 Just before I finish here and get under the shower I'll note the latest stray cat news. I didn't see the stray cat for a few days, but it is back this morning. It came right up the garden path and looked for any food I might have put down. When I took it some food it was slightly less scared and watched from only half way down the garden. I still cannot say for certain that it is stray or just an opportunist. It can certainly be very hungry !
Sunday 8th May 2005

06.30 BST

Weather - sunny, but rather fresh

 Sunday morning, and it is sunny, but very fresh outside. Of course "fresh" is just another way of saying that when I opened the back door to let Nelly out (and back in again) I was assaulted by an almost icy blast of air. It is debatable as to whether it really is a sunny morning as there are still a lot of clouds ready to obscure the sun at any moment.

 Yesterday the weather was very variable. It ranged from quite hot sunshine to brief showers. The heat of the sun was spoilt by a fairly strong wind. That wind did have a good side as well as it was responsible for keeping the clouds moving so any rain showers were quickly moved on. I think I was lucky in that wherever I went the sporadic bits of rain were very light. I often saw some really heavy, black clouds, and even heard some distant rumbling of thunder, and yet the only rain I personally experienced was exceedingly light.

 My day started yesterday with a shopping trip to Tesco's. I think I remembered to get everything I really needed - Shower gel, cooking foil, and Tabasco sauce - as well as a selection of foods. What I didn't get, but need, was cat litter. I did not forget to get it, but it was too heavy to carry along with all the other stuff I bought (notably a 4 pack of 2l diet coke). I will have to get the cat litter today.

 By midday I set out to visit Jodie at home. Her mum had a new video machine that she wanted installed. It was a quick job as it mostly installed itself (auto tuning with correct order of channels, and auto clock setting from teletext).  The tip I received for that was sufficient to sponsor a visit to the pub to see my old workmates. Conveniently the pub was just around the corner from Elmers End station where I had to change from train to bus to get to, and from, Jodie's house.

 It was good to see a few of my old workmates. I have missed out on the last two "first Saturday of the month" meets.  There were not that many there apart from the diehards who turn up most months. One surprise was Jackie (whose name I had to reminded of). She left Mastercare to have a baby a few years before everyone else left when the workshop moved. It was the first time she had been to one of the meetings. Apparently she was told about it while attending Croydon court where one of the office girls (whose name is on the tip of my tongue) from Mastercare now works as an usher.

 Originally I was only going to stay for one pint, but Jodie offered me another. Those went down so well, and two more people had arrived, and so I gave into temptation and had a third pint. I think it was the 16.22 train that we caught to go home. Jodie wanted to use my studio, and I had originally intended to do some stuff in my workshop. Jodie used the studio OK, but I felt too drunk to do any work. To say I was drunk was a bit of an exageration. It would be more accurate to say I was in a hyper relaxed mood, but however you define it, I did not feel like doing any work.

 Today I have just two goals. First I need to buy cat litter, and then I need to get into my workshop and work twice as hard to make up for being lazy yesterday.
Saturday 7th May 2005

08.00 BST

Weather - bright and very windy

 When I first woke up this morning, or more accurately when Nelly woke me up, at 05.45 it was was pouring with rain. Now the sun is shining, and apart from the wind, it looks to be a fine day. I wonder how long it will last for ?

 Yesterday was not very productive. After I came home from Greenwich I sat down and had some food. Prior to eating it I decided to put on an old VHS tape rather than hear about more post election crap. The tape I chose had a science fiction film on it called "It Came From Outer Space". This was an old, probably 1950's, black and white film. It was set in a desert area of the U.S. near to a *fictional) place called Sand Rock (anywhere near Roswell ?). Apart from an initially gung-ho sheriff the main plot was of sympathy to the aliens. That made for an unusual film.At the end the aliens leave on good terms with the local inhabitants, and everyone lives happily ever after.

 One unfortunate thing about watching that film was that the VHS tape had two more films on it. Both were Sci-Fi and I was reluctant to stop watching it. The next film was called "Invasion", and was a low budget British film. Despite the name it was not an invasion film at all. Instead the story revolves around one alien prisoner and his two female prison escorts. The male has managed to escape and is being tracked down by the escorts. Curiously all three aliens are wearing "kinky" latex flight suits. As this was a British film, the inevitable contribution from the army is to mostly sit around drinking tea instead of rushing around trying to shoot, or blow up, anything that moves - as typified by the American army in most cold war paranoia sci-fi films from the USA.

 When the second film had finished there was a third film on the tape. It was called "Q Planes". It was a British film about top secret research planes being stolen by a foreign power. I am not sure who these foreigners were supposed to be exactly, but they seemed to be a strange amalgam of German, Italian, or Russian. I think it depended on what sort of accent the actors could manage, and what mannerisms they thought these "dirty foreigners" should have. There seemed to be no attempt by the producers to try and get any coordinated acting ability among those playing the villains. Whoever the villains were they had a secret ray gun on a ship that when aimed at the planes it would stop anything electrical working by blowing it up (at least radio equipment seemed to explode). The first plane we see was testing a new top secret supercharger, but logically many of the research planes would be testing new electronic stuff, navigation equipment etc. Perhaps it was not evident to the films writers that the secret ray would blow up much of the research electronics as well, thus making it almost pointless try to steal it. Despite the flaws in the film it was a good, and very British, sci fi film.

 Watching ancient films seemed to take up most of my time yesterday so I must find some more time to get into my workshop over this weekend. It will be tricky today. This morning, unless there is a thunderstorm (it has gone very grey and cloudy again at the moment), I am due to go over to Jodie's place to connect up their new video recorder. That will earn me  just enough money to spend an hour in the pub with some of my old workmates (it being the first Saturday of the month). Jodie will accompany me there, and afterwards she is coming here to use the studio. I may be able to do some stuff in my workshop while she is in the studio, but somehow I doubt it will happen.

 So far I have been reluctant to mention we had a general election on Thursday. It seems the party that won the election is the same one that has the chancelor whose intellect is so high, and in tune with the real world, that he thinks the way to stop cigarette smuggling is to raise the price on the non-smuggled cigarettes. I shouldn't complain. In this great democracy of ours we do at least get to choose between the incompetent, incontinent, and indefensible, or the undesirable, unwanted, and unknown, or even the insane, criminally insane and mentally insane. And those are only the major parties ! Among the minor parties we have the loonies, the idiots, and those whose mind is from some other world or dimension. I sometimes wonder if we, or any other democracy, actually elect the man we want, or just choose the one least likely to make the inevitable total cock-up of the running of the country.
Friday 6th May 2005

06.30 BST

Weather - chilly with 50% cloud

 I have described a lot of yesterday in an extra to yesterdays entry. Scroll down the page or click here.

 This morning I spend another four hours at the Greenwich Programme Centre (school for wayward job seekers !). After that I am not sure what I will do. Some possibilities are to do some shopping in Tesco and to spend another couple of hours in my workshop. It would be sensible to do the latter as I am getting close to finishing my project in there. Once that is out of the way I still have an idea for some original design work to experiment with.
Thursday 5th May 2005

09.20 BST

Weather - dry, but overcast

Yesterday was quite pleasant. I received a very mild ticking off for not attending my scheduled review at the Greenwich programme centre on Tuesday. That has now been rescheduled for next Wednesday at 09.30. On my way home I called into the Aldi supermarket where I did buy some serious supplies, but these were probably outnumbered by the amount of junk food I bought. It was one of those occasions when I wish I had far more disposable cash available. In the store they had one (maybe more) DVD recorder going for £109. I regard that as fairly cheap, and it is just the sort of toy I would have snapped up if I had the cash for it.

 It's OK doing a bit of unavoidable time shift recording on a VHS machine, but the quality is so crap compared to what is possible in this day and age. The days are long gone when I would archive loads of TV programmes on VHS cassettes. 10 (?) years ago I recorded, and still have, many of the Sylvester McCoy Dr Who episodes. If I had a DVD recorder I would probably do the same with the new Dr Who series. Although I have to confess I am not sure that recordable DVD's will still be playable in 10 or 20 years time (assuming the equipment to play them on is even available).

 I spent yesterday afternoon mainly being lazy. I ate my dinner fairly early so that I would be ready for beer in the evening. I was still "rich" so I was able to afford a round in the pub, and a packet of fags to smoke while I was there (it's back to roll-ups again now). It was a fairly pleasant evening in the pub, but I was dismayed to hear that there was still some personal grief over my grumpiness after a drink in Kent a fortnight ago. I hope that an emergency late night e-mail sent early this morning will finally dispell any myth that it was anything personal. I was just bloody tired and exhausted.

 Today I have a day off ! Actually it would be more true to say that today I control my own destiny. You may think this is undesirable after my moaning about being bored over the bank holiday weekend, but that was a bank holiday weekend when traditionally the world does not exist outside these four walls. I may have been out of work a long time, but I still consider a day off in the week as something special. For instance it meant that I did not attempt to get to sleep as soon as practical last night, but luxuriated in taking a book to bed even after watching a recording of The Bill. I must admit I did carry that to a riduculous extreme. As the end of the book approached I became more and more determined not to put the book down and turn off the light. Even so I was a little shocked to realise it was 02.50 when I finally finished the book. I never really meant to stay reading for that long. I thought that maybe 01.00 would be a reasonable time to go to sleep.

 So here I am am at 10.00 still in my underwear. I must get washed and dressed soon. I think that today I will probably spend some time in my workshop, and some time in my studio. Maybe the day will turn out differently, but at least I have a couple of goals set for the day.
18.50 BST

Weather - mostly bright and sunny

 Here is an early evening update on the day. It has been a little noisy around these parts recently. The reason is the demolition of Catford Greyhound Stadium.
Catford Stadium - West stand
Catford Stadium - Breaking up the running track
 All the worst noise has been caused by this piece of machinery (hopefully pictured on the left of this writing) as it breaks up the running track. The vibrations come right up the foundations of the house. This is sort of surprising as it is working at least 200 yards away from my house. Between me and it are half a dozen houses, a road, a two track railway formation, and the east side stand at the stadium. The item behind the machine is the old scoreboard. Even though the stadium has been closed since xmas (or possibly even before that) it has still been lit up at night. In fact many lights have been alight during the night in and around the stadium. Maybe this has been to deter vandals, although as the place is being demolished it can hardly have been worth it.

 Apart from the sporadic vibrations from the machine it has been a pleasant sort of day. I have still not done anything in my studio, but I have been fairly productive in my workshop.

 After my late night (early morning !) last night I intend to try and get to bed soon after The Bill finishes on ITV 1. I do anticipate some trouble getting to sleep so I'll be doing some reading, but I will not get carried away again like in the early hours of this morning. Provided I can get seven or eight hours of sleep in, and still wake up at 06.00 - 07.00 I will be happy.
Wednesday 4th May 2005

06.30 BST

Weather - cool and overcast

 It seems cold this morning, and yet it felt hot in bed last night. I can hardly guess how the weather will turn out today. It seems rather overcast this morning, but maybe later in the day the sun may break through.

 I feel I slept a little better last night, or at least I do not feel as rough as I did yesterday morning. I think it was still a rough night though. I seemed to have been tossing and turning a lot, and I am aware that I was dreaming a lot. Those dreams seemed to be about schools and telephone exchanges, or sometimes a strange amalgam of both.

 Yesterday got off to a weird start after I had finished writing and gone upstairs to wash. While shaving I cut myself. Nothing unusual there you may think, but this was with an electric razor ! I am not sure exactly how I did it. Somehow I managed to get an almost circular nick that bled and bled and bled. The hole was tiny, but the amount of blood that came out was ridiculous. It was dripping down my chin and onto my chest. When I got under the shower it was like a scene from "Psycho" as the water washed the blood from my chin and chest and it swirled down the plug hole ! Fortunately the bleeding stopped by the time I had finished my shower (or maybe just a little while after). Once the bleeding had stopped it was quite difficult to see where it came from. I haven't looked closely this morning, but I don't think there is anything to see at all.

 After signing on I headed off to the internet cafe. It was a rather boring day, although it did get quite busy in the early afternoon. By 16.00 it had quietened down again, and I was able to close very early at 17.00, or soon after, and get home in time to set things up to record the new episode of The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy. It seems that this latest series of HHGTTG is part one of eight, and that they are going to compress the last two books into just one series. This seems at odds with what I had originally read on the BBC website. I wonder what, if anything, they have decided to leave out. Anyway, that first episode seemed enjoyable. There was further enjoyment a little later when I watched a brand new Episode of "Enterprise" on Sky One at 20.00.

 After "Enterprise" I flicked around the TV channels for a bit, and had a did a bit of research for a possible new job. There is a job available at Longfield in Kent. It was one I had applied for without knowning anything about the location of it apart from it was in Kent. I had a phone call from the agency who are dealing with the vacancy and was rather disappointed when I heard it was in Longfield. I wondered if I had been a bit hasty in turning it down so I thought a little more research was called for. A check on the railway journey planner website suggested I could get to Longfield from Catford Station in as little as 39 minutes,for some services, and 47 minutes on other services. This did not seem too bad, but when I checked how far the place was from the station I found it would need a walk of around 2 miles in open countryside. Perhaps I had not been so hasty in turning it down after all !

 Today I will be going into Greenwich to do the four hour session I should have done yesterday at the Programme Centre. I was supposed to have a progress interview yesterday. I wonder if I can be fitted in today ? Probably not, and they are only a nuisance anyway with no practical benefit at all. Once I have finished in Greenwich I will be coming home via a supermarket - probably the Aldi at the end of my road. I'll not be going out again for the rest of the afternoon so I'll be able to get in a decent lunch, and have plenty of time to let it settle down before heading off to the pub. I even have enough to buy a round tonight !

 I seem to have another stray cat situation again. ( The first was Schiba). A cat has been sleeping rough at the bottom of my garden for the last couple of days. It is dark grey and white with a hint of tabbiness in the grey areas.  Most of the grey areas are part of the head, part of the back, and most of the tail. I put out Nelly's left over breakfast for it, and it wolfed it down. The pate was so clean and shiny that I put out another sachet of food for it. That too seems to have gone. Hopefully it will find its way home soon as I don't want to upset Nelly by bringing in another stray, but if it hangs around I guess I will be adopting it like I did with Schiba. It is very shy at the moment, but if it gets bolder I'll try and get a picture of it.
Tuesday 3rd May 2005

06.30 BST

Weather - damp after overnight rain, now sunny

 I feel horrible this morning ! I slept very badly, and now I feel stiff and ache in various places. I first woke up at 04.30 for no apparent reason, although I was having a mildly disturbing dream. I was out with my mum to buy a general purpose suit (weddings, funerals, job interviews, or court appearances). That was not too disturbing, but there was talk of cutting my hair - and that was very scary ! At some time in the night I had another dream that I can partly recall now. It was something to do with traffic calming, but what the build up to it was, or what the ultimate purpose was, is now a mystery after the details have evaporated from my memory. I was standing at a T junction, looking down the road that joined at right angles, and a vehicle drove towards me and turned to my left. It looked similar to a Mini, but was obviously not one. As it drove away from me it began to unfold until it haad turned into a giant mirror. It then stopped a few hundred feet down the road from me. Apparently the idea was that cars approaching the mirror after dark would see their own headlights reflected and they would slow right down to pass the mirror. To enhance the effect, in a way that seemed logical at the time (but is a mystery now), there were a couple of gas jets that had salt around the nozzles to give the flame a bright orange flame.

 The weather seems to be totally unpredictable lately. Yesterday started out with drizzle, but much of the rest of the day was dry with a fair amount of sunshine. This morning I seem to recall that it was raining when I woke up at 04.30. This morning the ground is still wet, and it is being kept that way with intermittent drizzle. Despite that there are a lot of blue patches in the sky. I suppose today will be another day of sun and showers. So it will be too warm to wear a coat, and too wet not to wear a coat.

 Yesterday I managed to spend as much as 5 or 6 hours in my workshop. I wasn't really tracking the time, and those hours were made up from several sessions. It was the highlight of the day, and I did sort of enjoy it, or at least it was better than being bored. Although what I was doing was pretty routine stuff it did fire my brain sufficiently to consider the idea of doing some original design work. Perhaps some day I will feel sufficiently motivated to try out some of the ideas I considered yesterday (and even did some "back of an envelope" calculations for).

 Today, after signing on at the Job Centre at 09.00, I will be doing something I did not want to do - spending another day at the internet cafe. I should be at the Greenwich programme centre, but I was somehow talked into going to the internet cafe. It may cause some difficulty, but I am determined to leave there early. Tonight, at 18.00, is the first episode of the fourth series of The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy on BBC radio 4. There is no way I am going to miss it !!!
Monday 2nd May 2005 (Bank Holiday)

07.45 BST

Weather - drizzle

 What happened to the good weather forecast for the bank holiday weekend ? Yesterday it did get very warm, but that just triggered off some really heavy rain between brighter intervals. Although not local, there was some thunder and lightning around.

 I have to admit that I felt very bored yesterday. There were things I could have done, but I did not feel inspired to do any of them with any enthusiasm. It is strange that there are some things I did do yesterday, but I cannot rememeber what order I did them in. I think one of the first things I did was to spend some time in my studio to record a Pink Floyd compilation. At some point I had a fairly substantial breakfast, or maybe it was lunch. Whenever it was it made me feel sleepy. I laid down to read a book and promptly fell asleep for an hour or so. I have been feeling tired for quite some time now. Whether this is caused by some underlying disease, or just ennui is open to conjecture.

 One rather sad highlight of the day was a new episode of The Simpsons on Sky One. That finished at 19.00 and there was nothing else on TV to inspire me so I decided to do something completely different. I started writing about myself. It was not exactly autobiographical, but more an exploration of where I came from and how I came to be me at this time. So far I have written 1690 words (according to the word count in Open Office Writer), or about 2.5 sides of A4 paper. If I ever finish it I will probably have to write 10 times that amount. I expect it will be "published" posthumously, but will only be of interest to brain mechanics.

 That brings us to today and the question of what am I going to do today. Maybe I'll do what I should have been doing all weekend - spending time in my workshop. Maybe I'll continue writing. I will try and make some decisions when I am washed and dressed.
Sunday 1st May 2005

06.30 BST

Weather - dry after overnight rain

 Welcome in to the May 2005 edition of my diaries. The day starts with the ground wet after overnight rain, but with a few breaks in the clouds and blue sky showing through. The weather yesterday started with an overall blanket of thin high cloud, or mist. Daylight finished with some slightly hazy sunshine. I was not aware that it rained aat all, but the wet ground this morning suggests that there was some overnight rain.

 My day yesterday was very uneventful. I was pretty lazy for most of the day, but I did manage a few things. In between eating, reading, and taking several phone calls, I did manage to attempt a repair on a 20GB hard disk (failed) and spend a few hours in my studio (succeeded). Many of the phone calls were inconveniently timed, and all were from just 4 different people (Lee x 4, Nigel x 3, Kieth x 2, and Mike x 1). To make this list even more boring, I'll add that the eating was all sorts of junk, the reading was Micro Mart, and the hard disk was one that was once in Jodie's PC. I had suspicions that the fault may have been a dry joint on the circuit board. A lot of squinting through a jewelers eyepiece ( I think the proper word is a jewelers loupe), and a few blobs of solder failed to have any useful effect so I threw it in the bin. Oh, and the studio time was all vinyl !

 A little bit of the lazy day involved watching the latest Dr Who story. This one brought The Doctor up against his old foe - the Daleks. Or in this case a Dalek (singular). It was quite a good story, and it wasn't until sometime later that I got to thinking that the previous doctors used to do battle with hordes of Daleks and win. This latest Doctor only had one Dalek to tackle and was running around like a headless chicken !

 This brings us to today. The start of a new month, and a usually boring Sunday. I am up so early to transfer 10,800,402 bytes of information to an ftp server while things are quiet (there is a clue in there Iain). Once that is done (73% complete, and another 15 minutes to go), and I have uploaded these words I will probably go back to bed for another hour (or more if I get into a deep sleep). After that I am not sure what I will do. Potentially it could be a nice day with forecasted temperatures of up to 25° C in London. It does feel sort of mild outside even now, and it is warm indoors. However unless I go out to the park to do some photography I doubt I will be leaving the house today. In consequence, like yesterday, I will not be seeing anyone. I think I want to spend some time in my workshop, but I'll have to see how much enthusiasm I can raise for it. I guess today, like most days, will be whatever I can make of it. Sometimes leisure time can be such hard work !