Index November 2006 Calendar
October December

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Thursday 30th November 2006
08:18 GMT

 Another clear morning ! Once again it was daylight by the time I got to Waterloo East. It was nearly daylight when I left Catford Bridge, or at least it could have been if I had had to run back home, use the toilet and get the later train. This was very nearly the case. This morning I do seem to be slightly flatulent (and worse !). I can't really blame it on last nights beer because it actually started yesterday afternoon while still at work. It made for a slightly uncomfortable journey into work. At Waterloo East I imagine that everybody on the platform heard the explosive release of gas from "trap 1" in the gentlemens toilet.  Maybe a few unfortunate people on the 07:33 service from Waterloo smelled a minor release somewhere between Vauxhall and Clapham Junction.

 Last night I consumed three pints of Winter Warmer in the pub with Kevin, Howard and Iain. It was a pleasant drink, and the booze seems to have calmed down many of the muscular and joint pains that have plagued me recently.

 Tonight I think Patricia is staying out late for an after work drink to celebrate a colleague moving on to another job. So I am not sure what to do about dinner. Last night I grabbed a couple of sandwichs from Tesco so I could eat early before going out to the pub, and left Patricia to fend for herself.  Maybe tonight I'll cook something up that can be reheated if Patricia wants to eat when she comes in. It's a shame really because it is really only at meal times that we spend any time talking to each other.

 Going back to last night, or more precisely to the end of my sleep this morning, I was having a dream that seemed to revolve around users, groups, and permission for Linux. I can't really recall how the dream went, but somehow I feel I have a better understanding of how it all works this morning. I must write an e-mail to Steve, my Linux guru, to explain my ideas and see if they are correct. Then perhaps I'll attempt to explain them here in my own unique sort of way.
Wednesday 29th November 2006
08:29 GMT

 Today has started with clear skies. Usually this would mean an early morning frost, but it is still almost, but maybe not quite, mild outside. The best thing is that there was the start of daylight by the time my train arrived at Waterloo East. By the time I reached Wandsworth Town station there was evidence of the sun almost creeping over the horizon (or at least there would be if there was any viewpoint that could actually see the horizon). Right now the sun has yet to rise over the Arndale shopping centre (now called Southside for some unexplained reason), and my rather limited view of outside shows it to be daylight, but there is no direct sunshine to be seen.

 Last night I resisted the temptation to vent my spleen over my journey home from work. Had I done so it would have been littered with colloquial references to the sex act and numerous inclusions of the slang name of the female genitalia. It all started when I was slightly delayed in leaving work. The delay was probably as little as 90 seconds, but the chain of events left me fuming !

 The result of that 90 second delay was that I missed a number 39 bus to Clapham Junction by about 60 seconds (maybe less). By the time I had got the next bus I was too late to get my favoured 16:13 train from Clapham Junction to Waterloo, and missed the second best train at 16:16. This latter train I got close enough to touch as it moved out of the station without me. The next train, the 16:21, while only five minutes later, did not get me to Waterloo in time to catch the 16:31 Waterloo East to home. I did not even get there in time for the 16:34  Barnhurst train which I could have travelled on to London Bridge, and then done a leisurely change for a train out of Cannon Street to home. At this point I could have caught the 16:44 Gravesend train to London Bridge and done the mad dash across the footbridge to catch the 16:50 train (which also comes out of Cannon Street station). Instead I opted to not dash about and get the 16:55 semi fast train from Waterloo East. This train, although getting me home 25 minutes later, is usually slightly more pleasant than the 16:31 because it does not stop at Lewisham. Except that last night it was cancelled ! So I had to get the following train, the 16:58 Barnhurst service to London Bridge, and change to the 17:10 Hayes service (that had originated from Cannon Street). This was a slow service, calling at every station (except St Johns), and was packed. I eventually got home about 40 minutes late feeling very peeved. To add to my annoyance there were two incidents that riled me intensely (on top of the usual idiots who are all elbows, smelly, or just generally obnoxious). At London Bridge there was a totally complete idiot (or substitute slang name for female genitalia) who insisted on standing on the bottom step of the footbridge blocking everyone's way as two trains unloaded hundreds of passengers trying to get up the stairs, and a whole horde of people trying to get down the stairs rushing to get on those same trains. To top it all, just when I was feeling really pissed off anyway, some complete braindead idiot had decided to close one of the double doors leading out of the ticket office at Catford Bridge while 30 billion passengers attempted to leave the station !!!!!!

 I have written of the various aches and pains I have had recently. Today is no different apart from the aches and pains being in different parts of my body. Today it is mainly the upper part of my body - chest, shoulders etc. Yesterday it was my right ankle, and knees. I think every bit of me has ached at one time or another recently. No I lie, my toes, and toe joints have never ached, and apart from my right index finger, neither have my hands. I have been thinking about what has caused all this pain and come up with some ideas. In no particular order :-
  • A legacy of the 'flu like symptoms I had 3 or 4 weeks ago. Viral infections can take an age to go away completely.
  • Old age and damp and cold weather.
  • High blood pressure and imminent cardiac arrest.
  • Cancer creeping all over my body.
  • Aids
  • Psychosomatic - from recent stress (like last night) and some recent (well, one really) disappointments in my life.
  • Alien attack, or government mind control/poisoning/Polonium 210 etc !
  • Poisoning from being forced to use lead free solder at work. Who knows what's in it, and how dangerous it is compared to good old safe lead solder.
 Several of these are highly unlikely, but alien attack remains a strong possibility.

 Tonight it looks as if I can drink my pains away with several pints of Winter Warmer at the pub with Kevin, Howard, and Iain.
Tuesday 28th November 2006
08:17 GMT

 It's a very soggy morning. It was raining when I left home, and it was still raining when I arrived at work. In fact it is still raining now. Apart from getting very wet, the other major consequence of the rain, or perhaps more accurately, the heavy clouds, is that it is still night outside. It is slowly getting brighter, but it was very gloomy while I waited for the bus outside Wandsworth Town station.

 This morning I feel completely different to, say, yesterday morning. I don't feel very miserable (despite the gloom and rain), and different bits of me ache. Somewhat unusually it is my ankles that seem stiff and slightly painful this morning. One amazing thing was that I realised that I have not ballooned as much as I thought I had. As I left home I thought I would try and do my coat up. Maybe the material has stretched since I first bought it, but I can still do it up (which is more than I could do when I bought it). It was a little tight, but not uncomfortably so. Maybe tonight I will try and curb my appetite a bit. It will be hard, but miracles sometime happen (as does shit - so the saying goes). I have already decided what tonight's dinner will be based upon what is in the cupboard. On the menu tonight will be pork sausages (thanks to a Tesco "bogof" - Buy One Get One Free), and they will be served with garlicky pasta and sun dried tomato pesto.

 Notable events for the future include this coming Friday which is payday, and December 21st*, the winter solstice when the days start getting longer again. I can't wait for both to come around.
* Or should that be the 22nd ?
 Xmas is not that far off now, but apart from the works Xmas dinner on the 8th December, it is nothing to get excited about. If you have ever read my accounts of the previous years Xmas's you will know that it is a total non-event for me. In fact with over a week away from work, and not much to do, it is really quite a tedious time.
Monday 27th November 2006
18:44 GMT

Home at last ! (well, to tell the truth I have been home for about 90 minutes or more). I was too sidetracked to sit down and write much this morning. Unusually I was called on to do some urgent work. So I'll write something now.

 Sunday was a bit boring, but up until I had my major triumph of getting full sound, video and network on the ancient Packard Bell PC with it's slow, slow, slow 60MHz Pentium processor running Damn Small Linux, things were OK. After that things went rapidly downhill. I could not find much of anything that I fancied doing. So I vegetated in front of the TV, or did some reading while listening to several Pink Floyd albums. By early evening even that seemed boring. Patricia finally came home sometime after 18:00, but had a lot of work to catch up on. By 19:30 I was feeling very bored and pissed off. So I went to bed. I laid in bed for sometime thinking I would never drop off to sleep, but eventually I did, and I am sure it could have been as early as 20:30, but maybe more like the 21:00 I suggested this morning. I slept until a little before midnight when I got up to have a pee. It wasn't long before I was asleep again, and slept right through until about 05:10.

 In theory, with all that sleep, I should have felt fine this morning, and to a certain extent I did, but a couple of months of unhealthy eating, and lack of exercise, has left me feeling generally unwell. Such is the legacy of no longer seeing Aleemah.

 During the course of today, in bits and pieces here and there, and a more sustained effort after getting in from work, I have been playing with remote desktops. I am currently writing this on a remote desktop showing on my Windows 2000 machine connected via a secure link and local x server to my main web page server. I set it up by trial and error, and downloaded the software from here and there, but there seems to be a pretty good explanation here. Hopefully I will be able to do the same thing from my PC at work - not that it is very useful, but it's nice to know I can do it if I want.
08:29 GMT

 I seem to have left it too late to write much this morning. I'll just say that this morning it is rather drizzly, and that after my triumph yesterday I found the rest of Sunday to be very boring. So boring that I went to bed at 20:00, and managed to get to sleep before 21:00.
Sunday 26th November 2006
12:40 GMT

 This is going to be a very brief update to say I have done it !!!! I changed the sound card in the ancient Packard Bell PC to an old (ancient !!) ISA PnP AD1815 based card. Damn Small Iinux recognised this and correctly configured the AD1816 driver into the kernel.

 So now I have a fully working "multimedia" PC using only a 60MHz Pentium 1 processor and a mere 40MB of ram. Maybe you are not impressed, but I am !  To celebrate this fact I am updating this blog entry using a Virtual Network Connection (VNC) to a remote desktop from the main server. I'll admit it is a little slow, and I can't see the whole window without scrolling up/down, left/right, but it works, and that is the main thing.
06:06 GMT

 The day has started off dry, but it is too dark outside to see if the sky is cloudy, or not. I think S.E. London was on the very edge of yesterday's stormy weather. I never noticed the high winds and gales that were forecast, but it was often very wet. There were two nearby claps of thunder. One in the late morning, and another in the late afternoon. Between those times the sun was often out and shining. I wonder how Patricia fared in Hastings yesterday ?

 My housework, yesterday, consisted of little more than doing a pile of laundry and some washing up. I never even went out to go shopping unless you count a quick trip to the corner shop for a bottle of Diet Coke, and some snacks, as shopping. I spent much of the morning just listening to some music and reading. It was not until later in the afternoon that I pulled out an ancient PC for some experimentation.

 The first machine was an old Compaq with a 486 proccessor in it. After playing with it for a short while I gained the strong impression that the motherboard back-up battery had died. I didn't have a spare (but did buy a couple of spares later in the afternoon when visiting the corner shop) so I put the machine back and pulled out another. It was an old Packard Bell "Executive Multi Media" machine using a 60MHz Pentium processor. Initially I found that it too was displaying some strange faults, but in this instance the problem appeared to be a faulty memory stick. Taking a pair of 4MB out, and leaving the others in stopped the intermittent problems and I was able to proceed with installing DeLi Linux. The installation went well and I soon had a working system. There is a screenshot of Dillo in action here. It is displaying this page from yesterday. Despite it working I was not that happy with DeLi Linux as it has no built in sound support. If I was truly dedicated I would have probed for the sound card, and then installed xmms, and the supporting library files for mp3 playback. Instead I opted to do a new installation using Damn Small Linux. This has sound support built in, but unfortunately did not recognise the ancient ISA sound card in the machine. I now have three future options. I could enter into battle with trying to get the sound card recognised, configured, and working.  Or I could try an alternative sound card, or re-install Windows 95 on the machine. I don't have the patience for the first option, and I will only spend a very short time on the second option. The most likely scenario is that I will revert that machine back to using Windows 95. I my make the final decision later today.

 Today I do have to go out to do some shopping in Tesco. I am very short of fags and cat litter. Both are essential to the smooth running of life. With luck I will be ready to go out as soon as Tesco's opens at 10:00. After that I will just make things up as I go along. There is a vanishingly slim chance that I may get to meet up with Dee for a drink, but I will be working on the assumption that I won't be meeting her. So it seems that I have plenty of time on my hands to continue playing with old computers.
Saturday 25th November 2006
06:25 GMT

 The forecast storm is finally here. I don't know when it actually started. I was awake until midnight and it seemed calm then, but right now it is raining cats and dogs (or pissing like a cow as the French like to say-  pleuvoir comme vache qui pisse - it's funny how certain bits of French are remembered from ancient school French lessons). One aspect of the forecast storm that does not appear to have happened - yet - is the high winds. It is windy, but it doesn't sound like the 50 -70 mph gusts that were suggested. I wonder how Patricia is fairing in Hastings ?

 Last night I had a quiet night. I popped into WH Smiths on the way home and bought three magazines to read - New Scientist, Linux Format, and Micro Mart. These, and a bit of TV kept me amused all evening, and there is still plenty left to read to amuse me during today. I had considered ordering a large takeaway curry, or maybe a gut busting mega kebab, until I fortunately remembered  that I had half a chicken in the oven leftover from Thursday night. So I had that with some Tesco mini-rostis and Heinz "Mexico flavoured" baked beans. It was pretty nice,but maybe not as exhilerating as the previous ideas.

 Before proceeding further I must say good morning to Jason. He is one of my my old workmates, and left a comment in my guestbook. "Excelent Bill. Lovely to read. I always think of Mastercare in Beckenham being the best days. cheers" And cheers to you Jason. I agree. Despite the interference of distant upper levels of management, who didn't have a clue what engineers actually did, or how they worked, we had a great time and still produced miracles of repairs and productivity by knowing what we were doing !

 I have no specific plans for today beyond the usual Saturday morning housework. I had hoped to visit Greenwich again this Saturday, but the weather, lack of Patricia, or Dee, have conspired against it. I think I may well spend some time playing with one of my old PC's. Reading Linux Format last night has provided some inspiration for a few experiments with low end computers. If I had the time, patience, and maybe skill,  I would dearly love to see if I could start off with a basic command line Linux installation and build everything from scratch on top of that. Sadly I suspect I am lacking in all three requirements, but if I could do it, it would be an excellent learning experience. Instead I will have another go at getting Deli Linux installed on one of my ancient computers. If I do get some success I will probably end up spending hours and hours playing with it.
Friday 24th November 2006
08:15 GMT

 Friday's here at last, and only 7 days to go until pay day ! The day has started with fairly clear skies. There is a some high mist, and a few bits of cloud, but not enough to stop the early morning daylight when I got to Waterloo East station on my way into work. By contrast, it was still "night" when I got there yesterday due to the thick wet clouds overhead. There does not seem to be any sunshine right now, but some is forecast for this afternoon. After that the weather deteriorates badly according to the weather forecast. A storm is brewing out in the Atlantic and will probably drench and flatten the north of the country, but could also affect as far south as London. The weather forecasters could not predict the exact path of the storm when I heard the forecast yesterday. So there is always a chance that it will pass a lot further south and drown us all !

 Last night I opted for vegetating in front of the TV instead of playing with computers. All I watched was one episode of The Simpsons on Sky 1, and one episode of The Avengers on BBC4. After that I chatted with Patricia for a short while before retiring to bed to listen to another sci fi story.

 Tonight, and for an unknown amount of the weekend, Patricia is off to Hastings for some Spanish/latin cultural stuff (some sort of gig with the boyfriend of one of her ex-workmates playing in it). So I will probably be alone again this weekend. Tonight I will probably revel in some booze and curry, or maybe not, and on Saturday anything could happen.

 One thing I find strange about this blog is the amount of readers from around the world.
Top 19 of 19 Total Countries
# Hits Files KBytes Country
1 1040 36.40% 625 42.40% 32786 58.68% US Commercial
2 702 24.57% 208 14.11% 7469 13.37% United Kingdom
3 694 24.29% 480 32.56% 9652 17.27% Unresolved/Unknown
4 188 6.58% 128 8.68% 3485 6.24% Network
5 127 4.45% 30 2.04% 1396 2.50% Canada
6 56 1.96% 0 0.00% 55 0.10% Italy
7 13 0.46% 13 0.88% 76 0.14% Romania
8 5 0.18% 4 0.27% 24 0.04% Czech Republic
9 5 0.18% 5 0.34% 29 0.05% France
10 5 0.18% 4 0.27% 240 0.43% India
11 4 0.14% 0 0.00% 4 0.01% Brazil
12 4 0.14% 0 0.00% 4 0.01% Switzerland
13 4 0.14% 4 0.27% 398 0.71% Ireland
14 3 0.11% 3 0.20% 17 0.03% Austria
15 3 0.11% 3 0.20% 17 0.03% Hungary
16 1 0.04% 0 0.00% 1 0.00% Non-Profit Organization
17 1 0.04% 1 0.07% 107 0.19% Israel
18 1 0.04% 1 0.07% 109 0.20% Japan
19 1 0.04% 1 0.07% 6 0.01% Moldova
 I guess you know who you are, but I wonder why you bother to read what must be a fairly boring blog ? (Apart from the rare rants I have.)
Thursday 23rd November 2006
08:13 GMT

 This morning is very mild, and right now is dry with a fair amount of blue in the sky. It did rain a little earlier - while I was changing trains at Waterloo - and it looks as if there could be some short showers later. The main component that makes the weather so variable today, and probably for the next few days, is the wind. It constantly changes from calm to gusty. The long range forecast, as shown on BBC1 tv this morning is that it is going to be a very wet and windy weekend. There is still time for the weather to change though, and I hope it does because I am hoping to go out for a few hours on Saturday (maybe to Greenwich like last Saturday).

 I feel a lot happier this morning compared to yesterday. For some reason I felt pretty miserable yesterday. Nothing has really changed since yesterday. So I don't know why I should have felt that way. Perhaps it was related to whatever gave me my stomach upset the day before. (I am sure there is some rule in English that says you can't finish three consecutive sentences with the word "yesterday", but I have no idea what that rule is. It just looks very weird.)

 Last night I put the finishing touches to the old PC that I was installing Windows NT4 on. I added myself as a user, installed Office 97, and Winamp. It is now capable of being used for three of the most common tasks that computers are used for - web browsing, office work, and playing music. Anything else, such as photo, or audio, editing is probably a little beyond it's capabilities, but that still makes it a very usable machine - except that I have no use for it right now, but if all my other machines blow up I know I have something to fall back on.

 Tonight I will probably put that machine back in the cupboard and pull out another. I am determined to get a full working installation of Deli Linux on at least one ancient PC. On the other hand I may just veg out in front of the TV.
Wednesday 22nd November 2006
08:17 GMT

 Clear skies overnight gave a very cold morning, although still some way away from frost. It seems to be getting cloudier now, and maybe there will be some rain later.

 This morning my guts have been behaving themselves. For a day at home alone I managed to curb my appetite, and although I did not eat healthily as such, I managed to avoid anything too inflammatory, and ate fairly lightly. I even kept to just two pints when I went to the pub in the evening. Although there was an alternate reason for that.

 For the first part of yesterday I did a lot of relaxing, but soon even relaxation became boring. So eventually I had a play with one of my old PCs. I chose an old Dell PC that I had rescued from being dumped a few hundred yards from my house back in the summer (I think). It has a Pentium I, 133MHz processor, 32MB of ram, and a 1GB hard disk. I thought it an excellent choice to experiment with some low level Linux. Originally I had installed Windows 98 on it, and it worked reasonably well. For Linux I tried four different distributions, and each failed in some way. First I tried Gentoo Linux. As I understood it, Gentoo, a Debian distribution, installs from source files, and I thought, mistakenly, that it would cope with such a lowly PC specification. Next I tried Deli Linux. This distribution is specifically made for low end PCs, and I did have a lot of success with it. I managed to get a full graphical interface up and running with all the useful graphical applications working quite well. What let it down was that the network connection would not work at all. Deli Linux, along with Knoppix and Damn Small Linux (which uses bits of Knoppix) all kept finding two network cards with slightly different mac addresses, and neither would work. This was a little bit strange because the one thing Linux usualy excels at is networking. The (on board) NIC uses a (presumably) standard 3C509 chip, and should be easily configured. The problem was that it seemed to have a conflict with the on board sound blaster compatible sound card. Both appeared to want to use port #220. Had I done a quick internet search I would have seen a possible solution. Maybe I'll drop another hard disk in that machine and try again sometime. After trying those different Linux distributions I gave up and installed Windows NT4. That picked up the network interface correctly. I have not got the drivers installed for the sound card, but the rest of the machine seems to run really well using NT4. It feels fairly fast on such a lightweight system that is probably contemporary for a machine of that age.

 The last thing I installed was Firefox. It installed, and worked OK, but it installed a lot slower than I expected. So I was a little late getting to the pub. Patricia was out last night and asked me to record CSI New York, Miami for her. I didn't get a chance to set up the timer on the DVD recorder before going to the pub, so I had to rush back from the pub before 21:00 - which I did. Unfortunately when I checked the recorder this morning it seemed to have locked up. A reboot, and reload of last nights blank disk, suggests it is still blank, although I think it is full of unreadable data. I somehow doubt I will be able to recover that data, and so Patricia will have missed her favourite TV programme. I expect tonight she will tell me she watched it anyway at her friends house in Ladywell.
Tuesday 21st November 2006
10:13 GMT

 It's a nice bright dry morning. Which is more than can be said for my guts. Last night I felt fine, but upon getting up this morning my guts felt distinctly odd. I came down, fed the cats, checked my e-mail, then had to rush upstairs into the toilet, and made it with 13 nanoseconds to spare ! Several rushes later, and a failed attempt to walk to the station convinced me that it would not be wise to attempt to travel while in this state. So it's back to the pro-biotic yoghurts for me !!

 It is possible that staying at home today will bore me shitless, but then again that is the whole point of the exercise ! Over the last three hours my stomach has stopped churning and I do feel better, but not best. I have had some breakfast and that has tamed the convolutions going on down below, and fortunately does not seem to have provoked any rebellion from higher up the digestive tract (which hadn't been a problem anyway). In all probability I will be OK for the rest of the day now, but there does still remain a slight amount of discomfort from the stomach region.

 I am not sure how I will pass the time today. I certainly will not be going out any time this morning until I am sure that I will not have to do any more panic dashes to the toilet. Maybe I'll take a wander around the shops later this afternoon. I would like to visit PC World or Maplins, but I doubt that I will. Instead I think I am going to take a snooze, and then later on play with one, or more, of my old PCs.

 Tonight I think I am drinking a few pints with Kevin. This is an alternative to Wednesday night when Kevin will not be available.
Monday 20th November 2006
08:11 GMT

 This morning it is very grey. Up to a few minutes before I left the house it was raining fairly heavily, but it had stopped raining when I did leave the house, and the rain held off for the entire journey into work. I would guess that there will be more rain during the course of the day. One advantage of the grey cloudy skies is that this morning it is almost mild outside. I couldn't guess at the temperature, but it is certainly not freezing (figuratively, or actually).

 I think I am going to feel a little tired today. I was up very early yesterday, and got to sleep very late for a Sunday night. As usual I woke up at 05:30 yesterday morning, and eventually got up to feed the cats. It was my intention to go back to bed once they were happy, but I got sidetracked. As I waited for them, Smudge in particular, to finish eating so I could send Smudge out to do his "business", I decided to check the cat pages on this website (that link was done from memory so may not work, but the link on the index page, and site map, works OK). I was disappointed to see that it was one of the areas on this web site that had got totally mucked up when I transferred the files onto my server. For some reason, probably something to do with Windows, some file names gained, or lost, capital letters at the beginning of the file names. Those original web pages were some of the earliest I had written, and were due to be updated sometime. So I deleted everything and started again from scratch. An hour or two later I had consolidated all the relevant information into just one web page. Some of the humorous stuff got junked and now it is just a record, with pictures, of the cats in my life.

 After that bit of early morning creativity it did not seem worthwhile going back to bed. My brain was fully awake and I doubt I would have been able to get back to sleep anyway. A little later I went shopping in Tesco, having omitted to do that on Saturday. The original plan was for Patricia to come too, but she left to go out for the day before Tesco was even open. With no Patricia around I had a combined breakfast, lunch, and elevenses at around 11:30. It was lamb chops, and roast potatoes, that had been  left over when I cooked an excessive amount on Friday night (I didn't have enough room in the freezer for the other lambs chops so I cooked the whole bag of them). I ate that with some pickled red cabbage that went surprisingly well with it. That was followed by a few yoghurts and afterwards I lay back on the settee to listen to some recordings of the radio version of Red Dwarf. That pretty much set the tone for the rest of the day. I ended up listening to six 40 minute episodes of Red Dwarf while snacking on food that is very bad for you.

 It was around 21:00 when Patricia phoned to say she would be home late. In fact it was gone 22:00 when she came in and I had gone to bed, although I was not asleep. I wished her good night and turned the light out. I was just on the verge of sleep when she tapped on my door and asked if I was still awake. She was trying to e-mail some translation work she had done and was having trouble sending it. So once again I got out of bed and went downstairs to turn off my other PC that was soaking up a lot of bandwidth downloading some files. As I turned the light on in the back room the light bulb immediately blew and I had to proceed in darkness while trying not to trip over, or step on the cats (who thought I might have gone down to give them their 88th meal of the day ! ). Finally, a long time after I should have been asleep on a Sunday night, I did finally get to sleep. So today I am pining for about 3 hours of lost sleep.
Saturday 18th November 2006
20:46 GMT

 Today, unusually for a Saturday recently, has been a good day. The weather has been OK as well. For much of the day the sun has been shining, but although nice and bright, it did little to warm the November air.

 I first woke up at around 06:00 and fed the cats. Soon after I went back to bed and slept for another 90 minutes, or so. After finally getting getting washed and dressed I did some housework - laundry, a bit of hoovering, and I emptied Nelly's stinky old litter tray. The next few hours were a little dull, but early in the afternoon I accompanied Patricia to Greenwich. We got there by train from Catford Bridge to Lewisham, and then took the Docklands Light Railway to Cutty Sark station.

 Our first visit was to the Shiva Head Shop. It was a fascinating sort of place, superficially similar to many shops in Camden Town, but somehow less tacky. We bought a couple of items, and among them Patricia bought a "mood sensitive" ring. After that shop we walked around Greenwich Market. It was very crowded, maybe a little too crowded for my personal tastes, but interesting anyway.

 After a little more window shopping we walked to just outside the town centre to visit the Buenos Aires café.
Buenos Aires Cafe
 This is, as the shop sign says, a café and delicatessen that specialises in Argentinian cuisine. Patricia had a coffee, and I had a bottle of Quilmes beer (English).
Patricia eating an empanada
Patricia eating her empanada
We both had an empanada each, and very delicious they were too - almost as good as the ones we made here recently.

 After eating we went back down to the town centre and had a look around a cheap bookshop that sells remaindered books for just £2 each. Then we went down to the riverside to watch the River Thames go by for a little while. Had it been a little warmer it would have been very,very, pleasant, but in the cold it was just plain pleasant. It was just about dark when we got there, and Patricia remarked how beautiful the skyscrapers around Canary Wharf looked twinkling in the dark. Greenwich is just far enough away from central London for the sky to be dark enough to contrast against the bright lights of the city. It makes for some rather good views. I did attempt to capture a few shots on my mobile phone camera, but the quality of the camera in it just can not do justice to the real view.

 After about 20 minutes, maybe a little less, we turned around and headed back to home. Since then we have had a rather nice chinese takeaway, and now Patricia has retired to her room to do a little work and comunicate with her family around the world. I will soon be in bed, maybe listening to some more sci fi stories, but looking forward to some sleep.
Friday 17th November 2006
08:29 GMT

 Following a "Windows Blue Screen Of Death" just now, and having just lost  the 4 paragraphs I wrote, I will have to rewrite the whole thing again tonight. (Download your own BSOD here).

21:52 GMT

 It was really, really, really annoying to lose all my writing this morning. It is a great shame that my PC at work does not use a more reliable operating system. Maybe I will take in a copy of Knoppix on Monday and use that while I am doing important stuff like writing this diary.

 This morning dawned bright and clear. As I left the house for work I was greeted by a dazzling bright crescent moon. By the time I reached Wandsworth the sun was over the horizon and much of the sky was blue. Very soon after arriving at work the clouds started to build up, and as afternoon approached the first of a few light showers developed. These became heavier and heavier until the time when I reached Catford Bridge station on my way home and I was drenched in a really heavy downpour. I walked from the station to Tesco's and was soaked through before I had covered a quarter of the distance.

 So far this evening I have done little except listen to assorted Genesis albums and read the 50th anniversary edition of New Scientist. I have also done some shopping, cooked some food and eaten it. Now I am writing this.

 Last night I had another very early night. I went to bed at 20:30 and listened to another Isaac Asimov short story before turning off the light a little after 21:00. I fell asleep almost instantly, but awoke again at 02:30 (or thereabouts). At that point my brain became overactive and I had to get up and write an e-mail. With my brain now purged of some things I had to say I managed to get back to sleep again at about 03:30. I then slept soundly until a little after 05:00.

 I think it was in that latter stage of sleep that I was dreaming quite heavily. This morning I managed to remember more of my dream than I can now. Unfortunately what I remembered and wrote disappeared into the electronic wastelands when Windows XP crashed !!!!! I can remember being in the back room of my childhood home with my mum, my sister and my friend Kevin. Both my mum and sister had apparently driven there in separate cars. My sister having only made the journey to check that my mum had arrived safely. She then disappeared again. Kevin wanted to check out his laptop on my WiFi point. (something he actually wants to do in real life one day). We wandered off to my workshop to play with the equipment. Just then my oldest brother arrived with some (fictional) young nieces and nephews. One of the young nephews became annoying asking for a power adaptor for his games console. So Kevin and I decided to retire to the pub. I think I stayed behind for a few minutes because I remember walking to the pub by myself. Curiously the pub seemed to be across Ladywell railway bridge and on the site of the old swimming baths. I found Kevin already in the pub with his laptop, and I had brought a laptop with me. Although we were at least a quarter of a mile from where my WiFi point was I seemed to think we ought to be able to pick up the signal on my laptop. Unfortunately as I opened my laptop it fell apart. The dream continued for a little while with my entire concentration being on putting the laptop back together again. I woke up before I had succeeded.

This months diary had been curiously lacking in pictures. So here's a few taken recently.........
Wee and Poo
 Following a bad leak from the urinals in one of the toilets at work they were removed. I guess the management company who run the building considered that six stalls should be sufficient for all the men who work on our floor. Some bright spark, maybe officially, but probably not, decided to put paper labels on the doors of the stalls. Three were labelled "Wee" and three were labelled "Poo" !

 Earlier this week my morning train from Waterloo was a little out of the was the Legoland Express !!
Legoland Express
(Both pictures taken on my O² "Ice" mobile phone with a bit of post production using Paint Shop Pro)
Thursday 16th November 2006
08:14 GMT

 When I left home it was dark and damp. There was an occasional sprinkle of rain...........but when I got to Wandsworth it was pouring down with fairly heavy rain. This is not the first time this has happened, and I am sure I have seen the same effect going home. I now consider that Wandsworth has more rainfall than Catford. At this time yesterday it was light, but still not bright. Right now it is still almost like night outside. I fear that the whole day will be very dull, grey, gloomy, and depressing.

 Last night was more cheerful. Once again my recent decision to catch a bus to Clapham Junction after work paid dividends. I arrived there a little too late to catch my favourite "express" train, a "Wessex Electric", but still managed to catch a train that only stopped at Vauxhall and got me to Waterloo in time for my early train from Waterloo East. Since I have been taking the bus to Clapham Junction I think I now manage to get that early train about three times a week instead of once a fortnight by taking the bus to Wandsworth Town station. I still come to work via Wandsworth town station though.

 So having got home nice and early I had an early dinner. That was very convenient because I got a phone call from Iain saying he was already in Catford and would be getting to the pub by 19:00, or maybe even earlier. I arrived at the Catford Ram soon after 19:00 to find both Iain and Howard already drinking (as they apparently had been for much of the afternoon). Kevin joined us at about 20:00. After three pints of the delicious Youngs Winter Warmer I headed home again. Surprisingly I was home just a few minutes before 21:00 and was in bed soon after. I listened to another short science fiction storry, Isaac Asimov's "Marooned Off Vesta". I was fast asleep before 22:00, but woke at exactly midnight for some totally unknown reason. I woke up thinking it was time to get up, and was amazed to see my clock saying it was 00:00. After a quick pee I fell asleep again very quickly, but woke up again at 02:00 and had to pee again. Once again I got back to sleep very quickly, and then slept solidly until my alarm woke me at 05:30. Despite the couple of interruptions to my sleep I feel more awake now than over the previous few days. If I can catch up with a little more sleep tonight I may even feel vibrant and zesty for the weekend (not that I am sure what feeling vibrant and zesty actually means, but it sounds good anyway !).
Wednesday 15th November 2006
08:07 GMT

 Today has started bright and fine. With little cloud cover there was even the first light of dawn dimly visible as I left the house at 06:45. Surprisingly the clear skies did not bring any frost. According to last nights weather forecast there is a warm wind blowing in from the south west. Later on in the week it will bring in some very chilly air, but for now it is very mild.

 I felt slightly better when I came into work this morning. Last night I got into bed very early, soon after 20:30 I think, and I listened to a 35 minute science fiction story, Isaac Asimov's "Billiard Ball", before falling asleep very soon after I turned the light out and the PC shut down. I awoke again at 03:45, but was soon asleep again, albeit not very well, until just gone 05:00. At some point in the night I was having one of those dreams that mix up different parts of buildings and places. First I was in a classroom that was also a little like a workshop, and then I wanted to go to the schools playground for a smoke. As I passed through the assembly hall/canteen area I saw lots of people smoking there, and many had proper ashtrays at their tables, but I knew I had to go outside to smoke.  That first bit of dream resembled my primary school (except we didn't have double beam storage scopes in the classrooms there), but outside it was more similar to my old secondary school. Once outside I found I couldn't get to the right playground because the paths were being dug up and relaid. So I went to go to the other playground. To get there I went down a path remarkably similar to the closest exit to my home from Ladywell Recreation ground. As I approached the exit I wondered if I should pop home for a little while, but decided against it. I turned around and headed back to the school/workplace but the path was very crowded and now featured either stairs or an escalator (I am not sure now). As I ascended there were many women with very long hair whose hair kept blowing in my face. It didn't annoy me, and in fact I sort of liked it. The building I now approached was similar to my old secondary school, but inside the main entrance, and up a very short flight of steps, were three lifts. I had to get to the fifth floor, but the lifts were very busy and I could not get in one. So I decided to take the stairs. As I found the staircase I noticed I was already on the fifth floor and I started to walk towards my room. Instead of walking back through the assembly hall/canteen area I found myself walking through a subway similar to many pedestrian road underpasses. At the far end I came out by a road junction and had to cross it to get to the room I was going to. I can't remember any more than that. Maybe it was at that point I woke up. One odd thing I do remember, but can't remember in what part of the dream it was in, was thinking that since I could see many of my old classmates, or workmates, and put names to them, I ought to record their names in this diary for posterity. So at some point I was aware that I was dreaming during the dream(s). Now, in mornings light, I can only remember two names from the dreams. One is John Street, and the other was Cleghorn (christian name forgotten).

 Tonight, being another Wednesday night, I am looking forward to the possibility of a few jars of Winter Warmer in the The Catford Ram. I don't know if anyone is available tonight, but I'll keep my fingers crossed.
Tuesday 14th November 2006
10:53 GMT

 It's a dull morning, but dry. It was even duller earlier this morning when I came into work and found the internet connection down again. As usual it was the router that needed a swift kick up it's lower port.

 For much of yesterday I had a migraine, or at least some sort of headache. It was only once I was at home, and had eaten something, that it seemed to dissipate. Today I have the very mildest of headaches, but I am also very tired. I did get to sleep reasonably early last night, but I woke up at soon after 3am. I am not sure why I woke up at that particular time. It may have been one of the cats who woke me. I do know that once they realised I was awake they pestered me for their breakfast. I went out to have a pee, and when I got back in my room I closed the door fully (I usually leave it ajar so Nelly can wander in and out). Nelly decided she was most definitely going to see what I was doing and persistently scratched at the door until I let her in. Soon after, and as I was just about drifting off to sleep again, Smudge decided she wanted to see what was going on in my room. She didn't scratch the door much, but did add some meowing to the mix. Eventually I either fell asleep or she gave up, but I did manage to get some more very poor sleep until I woke up at 5am. At that point I gave up trying to sleep and got up.

 I have a theory as to why the cats were playing up last night. I reckon it was because there had been a mouse in the kitchen earlier in the evening. I think it was one that Smudge had chased in from the garden, but that does not really explain why the first time I saw it, it was climbing down a pipe head first from the kitchen ceiling. Evidently it had managed to get in the space between the bathroom floor and the kitchen ceiling. How, I'll never know. As it saw me watching it, it froze, but I only took my eyes off it for a moment and I heard what sounded like it fall the 4ft to the work surface adjacent to the water heater. I didn't see it again after that. Maybe it is still behind some cans of cat food dead or stunned, or maybe it managed to flee somewhere else. All I know is that Smudge has proved herself an expert at catching rats and mice, and the mouse will not last long if it spends too much time at ground level ! And if Smudge doesn't get it there also a fair chance that Nelly will remember her instincts and do the job herself. Who needs mouse traps with two cats in the house ! (Hopefully not me).
Monday 13th November 2006
08:05 GMT

It's overcast, grey, and raining, this morning, but it is also very mild out. The rain was not a problem until I got to Wandsworth Town station, and even then not significant until I got off the bus round the corner from work. During the short walk from the bus stop to work the rain did get rather wet. There were no heavy rain drops, just the fine spray like rain that seems almost unobtrusive, yet soaks you right through to the skin. So I sit here with the front of my shirt, and my trousers, unpleasantly wet. Fortunately it is very warm in here and I shall soon dry out.

 I never got around to writing anything yesterday. That was not to say that there was nothing to write about, but I have to admit there was very little to write about. Like the last few weekends, this one, just gone, was very unexciting. I can't really remember much about Saturday at all. I know I read New Scientist from cover to cover, and listened to some book readings in bed, but apart from one other thing, not counting the usual shopping and laundry, I don't think I did anything at all. That one other thing was to take the cover of the computer power supply that died on me during last week.  I cleaned out all the dust, took a good look inside, and the cause of the fault was obvious. A capacitor, possibly on the +12V supply had split it's top open. That was all I did. It would have been a simple repair (probably), but I just could not find the inspiration to go and sit in my cold and cramped workshop to fix it. One bit of inspiration it did provide was an idea of what could be wrong with the power supply out of an old Compaq computer that I was given a month or two ago. That computer was in reality an empty shell except for the power supply. I have since fitted an old Pentium Pro motherboard, but the power supply would shut down within seconds of starting up. I did play with the primary side of the power supply without fixing the problem, but I now believe that the fault is likely to be on the secondary side. One day I'll get around to trying to fix it again. It would be nice to fix it because it is very slightly non standard and a generic power supply does not fit the cut-outs provided on the Compaq case.

 Yesterday I had even less inspiration to do anything. I did force myself to go out to visit the Aldi supermarket at the end of my road, but I was very low on diet cola and needed to visit some sort of shop anyway. Sometimes Aldi have some exciting shiny things, and yesterday was no exception, but thye shop was too crowded to examine everything. I did notice some 1GB "USB memory stick" type mp3 players on sale for £34, and I admit I was tempted. The price seemed fairly reasonable, and there are times when a 1GB USB memory stick would be very handy.

 For about 90% of the time yesterday I immersed myself in a paperback. It was Robert Heinlein's "Glory Road". I have read it before, but it was still a good escape from reality. In fact, now I think about it, it was a good enough escape that I ended up eating far less than I would likely have otherwise done if I had remained very bored. That is not to say I ate healthily. After coming back from Aldi I snacked on a large packet of delicious mixed vegetable crisps followed by a hazelnut chocolate bar. An hour after that, sometime around 3pm I think, I cooked a packet of bratwurst sausages and ate them with some leftover chargrilled mediteranean vegetable, and a snackpot mash potato with cheese and chives. (Quite a pan-European meal !). I don't recall eating anything at all after that despite the fact that I had crisps, peanuts and smoked cheese on hand  - all very tempting snacks !!

 Patricia came home at around 7pm after her usual weekend away with the boyfriend. We chatted for a while. She had a light supper, but I still did  not appear to be tempted to eat anything else. I was in bed sometime around 9pm, but I still had a few more chapters of my book to read. I am not sure what time it was when I turned out the light, but I am sure it was late. So I have no idea how much sleep I had last night. I woke up at 04:35 - still my body clock will not synchronise to GMT - and, after a wee,  managed some poor sleep until my alarm woke me at 05:30. I feel a little tired this morning, but I do not appear to have and stiff legs like a lot of last week. My right arm did feel a bit stiff, but I think that was just from sleeping awkwardly after my short troubled sleep just prior to getting up. I don't know when the arm stopped feeling stiff, but checking it now, it feels fine.
Saturday 11th November 2006
06:39 GMT

 It seems like a wet Saturday morning. There has certainly been some overnight rain, but it is too dark to tell what it is doing right now.

 I am not sure how I feel this morning. Yesterday afternoon at work felt very tiring and it was a relief when 4pm came around and I could make my way home. I managed to get to Clapham Junction in time for my favoured 16:13 train. This is the semi luxurious 5WES (class 422) train that gets me to Waterloo in plenty of time to catch the 16:31 semi fast Hayes train back to Catford Bridge from Waterloo East. So I arrived home nice and early, but feeling really quite rough. Once indoors I turned the heater up full blast in the living room and just relaxed with some food. I started eating early because I thought Patricia would be very late in (or maybe not come home at all), but in fact she was here much earlier than I would have guessed. Knowing that I had already eaten, and not feeling too hungry herself, she declined my offer of getting in a Chinese takeaway. So yet another Friday passes with no special Chinese or Indian takeaway treat !

 I stayed watching TV for most of the evening, but went to bed at 21:30 after "Have I Got News For You" finished on BBC1. I was practically asleep when I got a bloody phonecall from Lee at 21:50. He seemed amazed that I should go to bed so early on a Friday night. If there had been something better to do, and more importantly for how I was feeling last night, I may well have stayed up later, but I felt very tired, and there was nothing, or nobody, to give me any inspiration to stay up.

 This morning I don't have any particular aches, and after being awake for about 30 minutes now, my nose, that on waking felt a bit stuffy, seems OK now. There is the possibilty of going swimming this morning, but I think I am going back to bed and may not wake up again in time for an early morning swim. It would probably be quite beneficial for me to go swimming, but among other reasons I just don't fancy a cold, and damp, walk through the park right now. From the way I felt yesterday It is possible that I am on the verge of getting a cold. So walking back from the pool with wet hair is probably unwise as well.

 So later on this morning I will do some laundry and go shopping. After that, if the sun comes out and Patricia is around and up for it, I may go into Greenwich for a bit of sightseeing and to visit a certain shop. The alternative is to spend some time reading this weeks New Scientist and then being generally lazy for the rest of the day. I am fairly certain that Patricia is out tonight so I may try and curb my appetitie until this evening and then indulge in a huge takeaway just for myself !

 07:05 : I have let Smudge back in and opened the curtains. It is getting light now and it looks as if the clouds that brought the overnight rain are breaking up. The sky is still too dim to be sure, but maybe we will see some sunshine today.
Friday 10th November 2006
08:08 GMT

 Once again Friday comes around and it's time to look forward to the weekend. This morning it is very cold - just 2° C according to the weather forecast. Today is supposed to remain dry with a fair bit of sun. It is certainly dry, and the sky is about 50% clear, but as the sun came up there were some vivid reds in the sky suggesting that cloudy, and even maybe wet, weather is on it's way.

 The saga of my stiff legs continues, but maybe not for much longer. My right legs remains OK, and the stiffness in my left leg has almost gone. It felt slightly stiff when I left the house, but by the time I got off the train at Waterloo East it seemed to be more or less free from any stiffness. Any remaining aches seem to have travelled to my gut. Right now my guts feel quite strange. There is no specific pain, no feeling of bloat, but just an odd sensation that is not very nice. This came on while I was on the train from Waterloo to Wandsworth Town. At first I thought that I needed to go to the toilet, but as yet I still have not had to rush to a toilet. I also came across feeling very tired. Now I have been sitting in the warm, here at work, I feel a lot better.

 Last night Patricia came in a lot later than I expected so dinner was very delayed. I had cooked some mince to put into some empanades (cornish pastie type pockets of pastry - see one of my earlier entries last month), but I needed Patricia to do the filling and folding of the dough. Eventually I got too hungry waiting for to come home so I had some alternative food. Once Patricia finally turned up at about 8pm I set her to work finishing off my cooking and we had dinner about 8.30pm. Tonight I think she is out living up with her workmates again so I will not even wait for her to come home and start my own dinner straight away. She will just have to fend for herself.

 It's looking like I will be on my own again this weekend. Ideally I would like some new shiny computer stuff to play with, but I am being very careful with my budget after last months near disaster. So I think I will dig out another old machine and experiment with that. Of course there is always the possibility that inspiration will elude me and I will continue doing what I will probably start tonight and carry on for the whole weekend. And that is being a 100% couch potato (once I have done my laundry and shopping) ! It is probably the short cold days, and the long dark nights, but I am feeling very bored and uninspired lately.
Thursday 9th November 2006
09:10 GMT

 Once again it seems that my internet connection is going up and down like a yo-yo ! For my first hour in work I could not access my server at all, but since 09:00 it seems I can - albeit slowly.

 This morning it is bright and sunny. When I first got to work here in Wandsworth there was evidence that there had been some recent rain, but Catford seemed to escape from any rain. Contrary to the forecasts, and my prediction, yesterday did produce a little rain. At some point in the afternoon there was the finest of showers. That gentle sprinkle of fine rain probably lasted for a few mere minutes, but it was enough to contradict the predictions.

 Last night I managed to force my firewall to use an alternative DNS server as a secondary choice to my ISP's own DNS server. That made me internet connection seem much faster. In fact it was only the name resolution that was faster, but it felt like everything had speeded up. Unfortunately the firewall has reverted to the old DNS server address as provided by NTL's DCHP servers. I am having a little trouble turning off the automatic setting and using a manual setting, but I'll get there in the end.

After my bit pretending to be a system administrator I had some food before  going out to the pub for three delicious pints of Young's Winter Warmer (or) with Kevin and Iain. Sometimes beer goes straight through me, and at other times it does not. Last night it didn't and I had to get up twice in the night for a pee. I also felt uncomfortable walking home as the beer seemed to be sloshing around in my distended stomach. This morning I feel unexpectedly fine with no detectable hangover. Maybe it was the rather overcooked pizza that I ate 30 minutes before going to the pub that clogged my stomach up and stopped the alcohol from surging into my bloodstream. My only malady this morning is more of the stiff leg problem that has caused my some discomfort on my way into work.This morning there was an improvement in that only one leg is not causing any discomfort.
Wednesday 8th November 2006
08:07 GMT

 First my apologies if loading these pages has been difficult lately. NTL have been carrying out "load balancing" recently (and maybe today as well), and this has brought my internet connection down several times.

 This morning it is grey, but it is not just mist and fog like yesterday, but real cloud. No sign of rain, nor is any expected today, but the cloud has kept the air temperature up a bit.

 Last night I cooked something akin to chilli con carné, but in deference to Patricia I left out the chillies. It did have rather a lot of onion in it, and maybe it was that onion that left me feeling a little bloated this morning. It was almost like a re-occurrence of my irritable bowel syndrome that made my commutes into work a difficult experience earlier in the year.

 Apart from cooking I also repaired one of my faulty fan heaters last night. It was simply a broken wire. on the neutral connection to the heating elements the PVC insulation on the wire had been cooked by the heat leaking through the mica insulation. When PVC overheats it gives off a corrosive vapour that slowly eats through the copper wire. It is an effect I used to see on rare occasions while repairing TV's for a living. For my fan heater repair I used some high temperature silicone insulated wire taken from an old soldering iron lead. It is not really thick enough for the job, but even if it runs hot the silicone will not give off any fumes (as far as I know) that will corrode the wire. Until I am happy with it, after observing it for some time at full heat, I will only run the heater with one element energised (for which the wire is easily suitably rated).

 The replacement power supply in my other computer is still running OK despite the warnings that the fan was intermittent. I might look at that tonight, or as it is Wednesday I may well be enjoying the delights of Youngs Winter Warmer in The Catford Ram.
Tuesday 7th November 2006
08:16 GMT

 It's not a very nice morning. It is not raining, and it is not very cold, but there is a lot of high mist obscuring the sun and making it a very gloomy morning. In time the mist will dissipate and we should get some sunshine, but right now the animal part of my brain says I should still be tucked up in my nest waiting for things to improve.

 Despite it not raining, it is rather damp outside. Whether it is the damp, or whether it is an ongoing legacy of the recent 'flu I had, I don't know, but I do know that these last few morning my legs have been very stiff. Later in the day I know it will wear off, and in fact it has already started to happen. The stiffness is almost all between my knees and hips, with the calf muscles probably complaining most of all. My ankles are slightly stiff too, but not nearly as bad as the upper parts of my legs.

 Last night I suffered a minor computer disaster. My main internet machine had only been on for 10 minutes when it suddenly shut down on me leaving just the power light flashing. I tried letting it cool off for a few minutes before rebooting, but it died again instantly. I was pretty sure it was the power supply that had died. Fortunately I did have a spare that although less than 100% perfect still retained enough functionality for the fairly low demand that the PC requires ( I believe the fault on it was marked as intermittent fan). It was enough to prove that the old power supply has finally come to the end of it's life, and it continued to run the PC all night, and for a few hours this morning. It is possible the old power supply is repairable, and sometime I may have a go at it, but probably my first priority will be to check out the fan problem on the replacement power supply.

 This morning I suffered a slightly more important disaster. The fan heater in my living room appears to have died. I left it running while I showered and washed my hair. When I returned to the room later it was stone dead, but the room was warm proving it had been working. Fortunately I have at least one spare from the back room, and one other that needs a very simple repair (I think).

Out of all the dreams I had last night only one stands out as being very novel. As usual the details are becoming blurrier by the minute now I am awake. In this dream I was helping my boss, Anna, launch a satellite that from a distance looked a little like a flying saucer. The whole thing was about 5ft (say, 2 metres) across, and made up of a cluster of modules. On closer inspection the main fuel tank looked remarkably similar to an aluminium beer barrel ! She first launched it from the end of my road, but it got stuck in trees adjacent to the railway line. Although it would not go up, she was able to brink it down again and land it in the road by the entrance to Ladywell Fields park (just up the road from home). All the hovering about in trees had used so much fuel that we decided to refuel and try again the next day.
Monday 6th November 2006
08:10 GMT

 It is not as cold as it has been this morning. This is a little strange considering that the sky was mostly clear last night. I was expecting a thick frost this morning, but I guess the temperature has stayed a few degrees above freezing. Right now there is some high cloud, but also plenty of blue patches in the sky. At some point the sun will burst through one of the blue patches and the day will look rather good.

 Yesterday I managed to force myself into doing some stuff instead of sitting around and eating all day. My main diversion was to play with yet another of my old PC's. This particular one is my physically smallest PC built into a case that once housed a really ancient 286 processor based PC. I never owned the original motherboard, but I once fitted a super socket 7 motherboard in it that has been home to several different processors, and has onboard sound and graphics. Currently it is fitted with a Pentium 233MMX processor, and did have Windows NT (4.0) installed on the 800MB hard drive. I wanted to get it connected to my network but faced several problems. The case is a very low desktop case and any additional expansion cards have to be fitted into a right angled adapter. I do have an adapter somewhere (I think), but there it clashes with other components in the case, besides which I do not have a spare network card. So the next option was to use my USB network adapter so graciously supplied by NTL for my broadband connection. Unfortunately Windows NT4 does not natively support USB connectivity, but there is some software available from Dell's technical support pages that does provide some limited support for certain USB devices. Unfortunately there is no support for USB network adapters, and after trying to force in the Windows 2000, and Windows 98 drivers using all forms of subterfuge that I could think of I reluctantly gave up and decided to pursue other options. One option was to install Damn Small Linux. That did in fact work, but although Damn Small Linux is a very good emergency utility when run from just a CD, it does not make for a very good general user environment. Another option was DeLi Linux. I did try installing it, and managed to get up a working graphical desktop, but I forgot to configure the mouse and keyboard. I may well experiment with DeLi Linux again sometime because it does have some interesting potential. My final installation was Windows ME. It was a bit slow when only using a 233MHz processor, and Windows 95 (with USB enhancements) may have been more appropriate, but it did install and everything works fine on it.

 Patricia came home earlier than I would have guessed at shortly after 7pm. She seemed fairly happy after spending time with what was supposed to be her ex-boyfriend. With no warning as to when she would be coming home I didn't bother to cook any dinner for us. A little earlier I had eaten a couple of snack pots, and Patricia had to make do with a sandwich. I'll be cooking the chicken legs and roast winter vegetables, we should have had yesterday, tonight. She seems to think that she won't be out next weekend. So maybe next Saturday I can, once again,  look forward to getting the takeaway we should have had last Saturday (but I'll probably end up being disappointed once again).
Sunday 5th November 2006
05:13 GMT

 It's cold and dark, but dry - as would be expected (maybe not the dry) early on a November morning.

 Today's the day we in England celebrate Guy Fawkes not blowing up the houses of parliament back in the middle ages. Who knows, or really cares, what the political problems were then, but now such an anarchist might deserve to be applauded. As modern government slowly subjugates personal freedom and liberty, and government as the tool of the health nazis, increasingly outlaws, and makes second class citizen of smokers, maybe blowing  up parliament should  be on someones agenda again. Of course the problem with that is it might replace one lot of evil bastards who do things stealthy enough to fool many of the people much of the time with even more evil bastards who will enslave us over night. I pity the young of today who will never know the pleasure of eating what they like when they like, who will never be able to enjoy the pleasure of a pint and a fag in a pub, and will never know the freedom to travel as they wish without an oyster card tracking their every movement. How long will it be before we all wear bar codes on our foreheads and have to apply to the police to travel out of our own town ? All these things are done in the names of health and anti-terrorism. In the not too distant future we will all live longer, healthier, lives as we are wrapped in cotton wool and forbidden to do anything that might shorten the extra couple of years of unending boredom that we are being so graciously offered. Meanwhile the anti-terrorist police will be shooting more and more people for as little as thinking treasonable thoughts. It won't just be a few loonies who have been upset by the actions of the government and plan to blow themselves up, taking out a microscopic fraction of the population of London, who will be the targets of the security services, but soon it will be anyone who complains. On the plus side it might be the only exit from a monotonous, controlled, existence by doing something really subversive like smoking within 10 miles of a primary school. In July 1957 the current Prime Minister, Harold Macmillan, is quoted as saying that the people of Britain had never had it so good. He obviously had access to a time machine and knew the future a mere 50 years after he included that in a speech. Ah well, at least I still have the freedom to say these things before my server is riddled with machine gun bullets and I am taken away for "psychiatric assessment" (never to be seen again).

 Yesterday was very boring, and I ended up being fairly annoyed (might account for the above rant). I couldn't get in the mood to do anything creative, but one thing I was looking forward to was a nice takeaway in the evening. The excuse for that was that Patricia  suggested that she would be in last night. At 7pm I received a text message to say that she was staying out all night with her earlier ex-boyfriend. So I stayed in all night (with no takeaway) desperately channel surfing trying to find something on TV to entertain my moribund mind. The very best I could find was the film Sixth Day. It was pretty crap,and I almost fell asleep before the end, but it did help fill in some worthless time.

  I fear today will be a re-run of yesterday unless I can come up with some creative thoughts and actually do something worthwhile.
Saturday 4th November 2006
05:41 GMT

 It's another predictably cold and frosty morning. The forecast is for another sunny day, but like yesterday it will remain cold all day. Right now it is still dark outside, but it looks to be foggy as well.

 It seems I still have not adjusted my body clock to GMT yet. I woke up just after 05:00 and it felt late as if I had overslept. In fact I have under slept and I'll soon be back in bed to try for another hour, or two, of sleep. Last night was not a happy night and I was up later than I wanted to be comforting Patricia who was the one who was not very happy at all.

 Yesterday work was more relaxed than earlier in the week. The very important order that the company was due to ship went out on Thursday while I was at the dentist. So the pressure was off to for me to repair/modify the printed circuit boards I was working on. I carried on doing pretty much the same thing yesterday, but it was not such a panic job, and in fact I have now made some useful progress to offset what may well turn into another panic as November draws to a close.

 I am not sure what will be happening today. After my recent bout of 'flu I don't fancy going swimming if that is an option this morning. Instead I am going to do a few household chores (laundry, shopping etc), but mostly probably stay in the warm and try and do something creative (if playing with computers can be called creative). I think Patricia is likely to be in tonight so we may stay in and watch a movie and I'll probably treat her to a chinese or other takeaway meal.
Friday 3rd November 2006
08:11 GMT

 It's cold, very cold, this morning. So cold that there was a good frost on the cars and grass. Apart from that the sky is blue, and the sun is bright. This means it will warm up during the day - to a staggering 10º C according to the weather forecasts.

 I think I feel OK this morning. My nose feels a little stuffy, but for the moment I am just going to blame that on the icy cold air. One bit of me that is sore is the left hand side of my upper lip. I had a little accident yesterday as the result of letting my hunger pains override my common sense. Soon after I finished writing yesterday about how much I was looking forward to regaining sensation in my anaesthetised face so I could eat my sandwiches  I gave in and attempted to eat one. It mostly worked, and I enjoyed the sandwich. what I didn't enjoy was biting my own lip without realising just how hard I had bitten it. I was sort of aware that I had nipped it a little, but it came as a surprise when it swelled up and I realised that I had bitten it enough to draw blood. By the time the anaesthetic had worn off the swelling had mostly gone down, but even this morning there is some remnant of that swelling, and it is most definitely still sore if I aggravate it. Not only am I suffering from that, but I have some mild toothache from where the dentist was poking around and cleaning my teeth. The cleaning and poking was not severe, as I mentioned yesterday, but this morning it seems that it was bad enough to trigger a few sore spots.

 I ended up being very lazy yesterday. I spent many hours just reading. There was other stuff I could have done, but somehow the enthusiasm was not there. Unless some major inspiration comes my way I can see that this winter will be like many that have gone before, and I will be spending my time being lazy indoors. I did do some minor playing about with the computers yesterday, but not much, and not as much as I would perhaps have liked to have done. Mainly I tested a couple of hard drives. There was one whose history I am not sure about. I had marked it as a 40GB drive, but on testing it was only a 30GB drive. It may have been the one that was prone to running very slowly. It seemed OK yesterday though. I connected it via my USB adapter and managed to format it with NTFS with no apparent problems. The other hard disk was an 80GB drive that had been in the PC that had the power supply blow up a few months ago. It seemed to give trouble when I first repaired that PC so I removed it, and left it on the side for later investigation. Connecting it indirectly, via the USB adapter, proved that it could still work OK. All the files on it were still intact and it never hiccuped once while it was connected like that. At some point I will have to transfer those files to elsewhere (maybe to blank DVD's, or maybe some of them to my server, and then I can try it in another of my PC's. Maybe it will form the core of an experiment I want to do sometime. That will be a Linux PC/server with no graphical interface, and everything configured on the command line. I think I could almost manage that now, but I still lack the courage to try it. Maybe it will form the basis of some amusement during the long winter months, or maybe not...........

 Tonight is a bit of an unknown. I know that Patricia is having an after work drink, but she will apparently be coming home afterwards. So I will be cooking for two, and if she is early enough I think we will watch a DVD together or something. She is probably going to stay with her boyfriend on Saturday night only instead of the more usual Friday and Saturday nights.
Thursday 2nd November 2006
10:46 GMT

 I'm back from the dentist now with my wallet £42 lighter. It went quite well. The buccal filling that had fallen out did so probably becuase there was some decay under it. That has now been attended to, and one more tiny buccal filling done. My teeth were given a quick scrape, but apparently I keep them clean enough that any serious gouging and scraping was not required. The dentist was very pleased with my teeth, but as per usual I will be called back for a check up sometime around next Easter.

 For the filling I had one squirt of aneasthetic and now the left hand side of my face from the upper lip, around the nose, and virtually up to the eyeball is totally numb. It is even hard to blow my nose when one nostril has no feeling whatsever. If I ever wanted a piercing through my nose, or top lip, now would be the time to do it. Fortunately I want neither of these things, but I do want to eat the (hopefully) yummy sandwiches I have just bought from Boots - and I can't - yet !!!

 What is really strange is how localised the aneasthetic is in my mouth. I can feel along the gum almost everywhere except for perhaps one tooth either side of the one that was drilled. Had there been some way to keep the anaesthetic from affecting the outside of my face I would have been fine, but I guess these things just don't happen. Of course the other legacy of the dentist poking around inside my mouth is that I now have mild toothache where I had previously none ! It will pass soon enough, and I ought to be prepared for it, but it is never pleasant.

 All I can do now is to sit down, read some of the magazines I bought, and slowly dribble while I wait for enough sensation to return to my face to eat my sandwiches.
05:22 GMT

 It's very cold this morning, possibly cold enough for a frost, but it is too dark outside to see if there is any frost.

 I am up and writing this at a riduculous hour, but I'll soon be back in bed once the cats have had their breakfast. I'm having a day off work today so that I can go to the dentist. My appointment is not until 09:30 so I can look forward to at least another hour of sleep, and maybe more. That sleep will be very useful considering that I have a mild hangover right now.  Last night I met Kevin in The Catford Ram where we indulged our first taste of this seasons Youngs Winter Warmer Ale. And very delicious it was too !! With no work this morning, I decided to stay out a little later than is usual for a mid-week drink, and didn't leave the pub until just gone 22:00, and not before drinking three pints and a scotch and coke to finish the night off. Whether it is a good idea to undergo dentistry while suffering from a hangover remains to be seen !

My treatment at the dentist today is primarily to replace a buccal filling that fell out last Thursday, and the second reason is just a check up. I wouldn't be surprised if other problems are found, and I am bound to have to undergo that barbaric treatment of tooth cleaning ! (Within the text HERE are descriptions of what a buccal filling is, plus many other horrors !) Apart from the pain and discomfort, the other thing about todays appoinment is that I will have to pay for it. My last treatment was free while I was still officially on the dole. Luckily my dentist, Sandra - a genuine tall (beautiful) Swedish blonde, tried to do as much as was possible for me while treatment was free. So in theory there should be few problems found today just 11 months since I was last in the dentists chair, but......
More horror stories when I am back from the dentist.
Wednesday 1st November 2006
08:25 GMT

 November starts with a bright, but cold, sunny morning, and I am feeling almost well again. I had no serious aches or pains coming into work this morning, and I almost felt like my energy levels had gone up to about 75% of normal (whatever that is !). I did, and still do, feel a little tired, but that may be due to waking up at 4:30 GMT this morning, or what would be 5:30 BST - my normal waking time before the clocks changed at the weekend. I tried to go back to sleep again, but was only partially successful.

 It was certainly a boost to my happiness this morning to be able to withdraw some cash from a cash machine after a week of being mislead into believing that I was ultra poor ! Oddly enough, the cash machine I used this morning only printed a balance that would suggest my overdraft was either not recognised, or that I have had  a couple of forgotten direct debits paid out today. I must check on this later, but the "amount you may withdraw" printed on the receipt seemed not to include my overdraft facility. Maybe some software bug is not reporting the amount available properly, and that is why my card payment for my mobile phone bill was rejected last week. Even though I have started the month with far more money than I thought I am still going to try and curb my spending this month and try and save a bit of money for Xmas.  This year Patricia will almost be spending Xmas with me - except she won't. She is away on the 23rd of December and returns on the 1st January (or the 2nd ?). So she will be here for the run up to Xmas, and for the last week of Xmas. So this year, for the first time in (maybe) five years, |I will be dusting down the Xmas decorations again - although Xmas is still nearly two whole months away, and anything could happen in that time. Maybe even Aleemah will be back in my life - although it doesn't seem likely right now, but our friendship has not actually ended as such. It is just on indefinite hold - probably !

 I wonder how the rest of the day will go today. Work is still pretty busy. So that is no mystery, but I wonder what is happening this evening. Maybe I'll have a drink, or maybe I won't (but at least I can afford one tonight).