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A sunny day in Wandsworth

Monday 30th April 2007
08:23 BST
 So far this morning it is bright and sunny. The sky is blue, and the temperature is bordering somewhere between mild and chilly. So I have not brought a coat into work today. Later on I will find out if this was taking a chance too far. Various weather forecasts have indicated three possibilities for this afternoon's weather. The worst case scenario is for a thunderstorm. The best case is for clouds with sunny intervals. All forecasts suggest this afternoon will be quite warm with temperatures estimated to be between 18° to 23° C.

 I remained fairly lazy yesterday with little to show at the end of the day. I did modify the power supply to fit into the Compaq made case that my Network Attached Storage machine is built into. I couldn't do the circuit board transplant that I was hoping for. Instead I had to cut a new hole in the power supply case to refit the mains input socket into the correct place. It was not a very elegant piece of engineering. In fact it looks a real amateurish bodge, but it is now fitted and working, and that is the most important bit. One thing I discovered, while I had the power supply case open, was that the inside edges of the metalwork were as sharp as razors. I found this out the hard way when I nearly cut my finger down to the bone !

 I spent quite a bit of yesterday listening to some audio books, or more accurately, several chapters of the same audio book. It was Larry Niven's "Draco Tavern". Unfortunately, although I was greatly enjoying listening to the stories, I kept falling asleep. Now this is sort of strange. I had quite a reasonable sleep on Saturday night, and in theory I should not have been sleepy during the day. even weirder is that I had a good nights sleep last night, and yet I feel like even more sleep this morning.

 Perhaps some of the tiredness can be explained by eating rather well yesterday. I didn't eat an excessive amount, and in fact it could be called almost modest compared to the excess's of some boring Sunday's.For breakfast I had a couple of beef burgers with a can of potato and bacon sauté.  That did seem to keep me going until late in the afternoon, almost early evening, when I had a couple of Uruguayan steaks with green vegetables. The Uruguayan beef was not a patch on the Argentinian beef I had a couple of Sunday's ago, but it was still rather pleasant. So I ate an unusual amount of meat, and maybe that put me into carnivore mode. Eat the kill, and then sleep until it is time to catch the next kill. Well the cats do it all the time, although their "kill" comes out of a tin !
Sunday 29th April 2007
11:46 BST
 It feels cool this morning. The sky is cloudy, but occasionally the sun breaks through. Yesterday it seemed warmer, and there was definitely more sunshine.

 Friday did not work out quite as planned. The first cock-up was forgetting to buy the toilet paper in Tesco's. I bought everything else I wanted, and more, but the most important reason to go to Tesco escaped my befuddled brain. Fortunately I was still a day or two away from running out, and even this morning I have not had to open the new pack that I eventually bought yesterday.

 The second bit of planning that went awry was meeting up with Ivor and Iain. They were on a very tight schedule, and in the end I believe they only had a 45 minute lunch break (though they may have had a drink later in the day). I set out to meet them, but missed my train. With trains only every thirty minutes on the Catford Loop Line it seemed pointless meeting up for just fifteen minutes. So I abandoned the idea of drinking and resorted to just being lazy at home. I didn't even bother going out to buy some computer stuff from Maplin's.

 Yesterday I was up fairly early and went back to Tesco to buy the toilet paper, and some other stuff. I should have gone out again to see if I could buy a drive belt for the beater bar in my vacuum cleaner, but couldn't be bothered. It is something I'll need to do sometime soon. Without the beater bar running the effectiveness of the vacuum cleaner is much reduced. I hadn't actually done any vacuuming at all recently, but I did run the machine over some of the more important areas, and used the hose extension to vacuum up some sinister looking cobwebs.

 At midday I went out to meet Allemah at London Bridge. I met her at 12:30 and we got on the next train back to Catford (Bridge). Like on her previous visit, she wanted to have pie and mash in the pie and mash shop. This time I thought I would join her. I can't say I really liked the pie and mash I had. There was nothing unpleasant about it, but it was just not as satisfying as I had hoped.

 After eating we came back home and watched a DVD before fooling around a bit. Then, after watching Dr Who, it was time for Aleemah to go home again. Unfortunately Aleemah seems far too used to using the tube network with it's very frequent trains, rather than SouthEastern Trains where the frequency s down to two trains per hour in the evening. We left home far too early, and had to wait for twenty five minutes on the station where the wind grew increasingly chilly. This was despite checking the train times beforehand.

 Having seen Aleemah off at London Bridge I came home feeling like it had been a good, but exhausting day. I was feeling very hungry when I got home and had a few sandwiches to fill the empty feeling in my stomach (the pie and only one third of the served mash being virtually all I had eaten all day). While eating I put the TV on and was surprised, and rather pleased, to see a programme celebrating the comedy series "Allo, Allo". I watched that to the end, but felt too tired to stay up and watch all off the complete episode shown after the documentary portion.

 Today I have no idea what I will be doing. I feel quite lazy at the moment, but that could be because I recently ate a rather substantial breakfast. I did get up quite early to feed the cats, and I spent some time surfing the internet, but I was back in bed after that for another hours sleep (I was not watching the time, so it may have been far longer).

 There is one thing that I really must do today. That is to modify, and fit, the power supply into my NAS box (home made Network Attached Storage device based on an old PC and the free software FreeNas, if you are new to this story). The box is up and running nicely at the moment, and this means that the fitting of the power supply is really only for cosmetic reasons, and, strictly speaking, there is no actual need for the work to really be done. This is, of course, "wrong thinking", and probably means another day will pass without me getting round to doing it. Such is life !

 Another computer problem to sort out is my downstairs, back room, windows machine. This is the one that is mainly for video work, but it does get used for other stuff now and then. For the second time the first partition on the hard disk has become badly corrupted. I still cannot be sure if the problem lies with the disk drive itself, the motherboard, or some virus or other nasty hiding somewhere. This time I connected the hard disk to the upstairs, front room, Windows XP computer. Windows detected the hard drive had become corrupt and did it's best to repair all the damage. It did recover most files, but not enough to make the drive bootable again. My plan today is to fit another hard drive, unfortunately a lot smaller than the original, to the PC and try that. Had I made it to Maplin's on Friday I would have bought a large new drive to try out. The original drive I can reconnect later as secondary storage, although I may do better using a less fragile disk format such a Linux one on a different (Linux) machine. (Ideally it should be binned, but if I can squeeze a bit more life out of it I will be happier).
Friday 27th April 2007
11:07 BST
 The day has started rather dull and damp, and although I have yet to venture outdoors yet to really check, it also seems to be fairly cool outside. Much of yesterday was also cool and damp, but the few rain showers that did happen were very light and of little concern.

 It turned out that I did stay late enough to go for a drink after work last night. In fact I was a little surprised that we started so early. I was thinking that it would not be until gone 6pm, but in fact we were in the pub by about a quarter to six. I am not sure what time I left the pub, but I know it was after 10pm when I caught my train from Waterloo East station, but I cant remember if it was the 22:15 or the 22:45 train (both approximate times). I do know that I was starving hungry when I got back to Catford. I had only eaten one roll and some fruit during the entire day. So, as so often happens after a large booze intake, I came home via the fried chicken shop with a large takeaway. I bought sufficient that I still have enough for a second meal today.

 Today is still very unplanned. I have taken the day off work to enable me to have a drink with Ivor and Iain at lunchtime. As yet I don't know where that drink will be taking place. I am hoping it will be at The Railway Telegraph in Forest Hill. There are several advantages to drinking there. Firstly, it is opposite the Maplin's store where there are one or two bits I'd like to buy. Secondly, it is easy to get home from and I'll probably be able to get away early from there, and might not give in to temptation to spend the whole afternoon getting totally pissed.

 If I manage to avoid temptation, and remain fairly sober, I could meet up with Aleemah at Victoria for another drink, or maybe even for a meal. That is certainly appealing, but I think I am likely to give that a miss anyway. There are tasks I'd like to do here that I'd like to make a start on, and I will be seeing Aleemah tomorrow anyway.

 Right now, my first task is to go and do some shopping. I am half way through my last roll of toilet paper, and if nothing else is a priority, getting more toilet paper certainly is !
Thursday 26th April 2007
08:52 BST
 Once again I am late for work, but I am at work now, and once again it is a wet and grey morning. the reason I was late for work this morning is that there is a lineside fire near to London Bridge station, and all trains are either cancelled or diverted. The train I got was nearly half an hour after the time I would normally get my train, and was diverted to Victoria station. That was a very rare route for train from Catford Bridge, and it was almost worth it for the novelty value. From Victoria I caught a train to Clapham Junction, and changed there for the single stop to Wandsworth Town station. I have a theory that if I could take that route every day, it could potentially be even quicker than the route I normally use once I had familiarised myself with the connections. Sadly it is unlikely that there will be any regular direct train to Victoria from Catford Bridge any time in the foreseeable future.

 Last night was quite good. I had a couple of pints with Aleemah at Victoria, and then a couple of pints with Kevin and Iain in Catford. It did leave me feeling rather knackered, and I left the pub in Catford by about 8:45pm. I was also starving hungry. Prior to leaving to meet Kevin and Iain I managed to scoff one sandwich bought from Tesco on the way back from the station, but other than that I had only eaten 5 bits of healthy fruit all day (two small satsumas, two small conference pears, and a Pink Lady apple). Once I was finally home I had the rack of barbecued ribs, and another sandwich that I had also bought from Tesco.

 Tonight I have some lost time to make up at work. So I'll be staying late. I am not sure how late I will stay, but if I get my "second wind" I may stay late enough to go for a drink with a few people here. Earlier on I was sure I would be feeling shattered by late afternoon, but now I am not so sure. So I guess it is about 50:50 if I end up drinking in Wandsworth tonight.
Wednesday 25th April 2007
06:52 BST
 This morning would definitely be a good morning to wear a coat to work. There has already been one semi-heavy downpour since I woke up, and I expect there could be others. This all pre-supposes I go to work this morning. I seem to have gut ache right now, and have already missed my first train. If I don't feel comfortable in the next twenty minutes I will be calling in sick.

 Despite my fears of rain last night, the weather remained dry as I made my way home from work. It was also fairly warm and I carried my coat on my arm. I did feel very weary on the way home from work, and it was a relief to get home again. I think the weariness was part hunger, and part just sheer lack of sleep. I seem to be waking up at, or sometimes even before, 05:00 most morning now. That is despite often getting to sleep after 22:00, but I guess seven hours sleep ought to be enough now the longer days are here again.

 My gut ache this morning could be related to the rather tasty paella I cooked last night. It had many of the proper ingredients - chicken, prawns, mussels, and calamari - and used the "Preperado Paella" that Patricia brought me from Spain. It was very tasty, but also rather rich. In theory it should have been OK, but I can't think of anything else that would make me feel this way. Although I have this feeling of impending doom in my lower bowel, nothing much has really happened yet. Maybe it is all in the mind, but regardless of that I would rather be safe than sorry. I have never turned up at work with anything but clean underwear, and I would like to keep it that way.

 The good news is that I seem to have fixed my NAS box. It seems it was the power supply causing the problems. Right now it is sitting there, still working nearly 12 hours after I fixed it, with the power supply dangling out the side of the case. What I have to do next is work out how I will fit the new power supply in the case. As I have explained previously, the computer case is made by Compaq, and they have customised what should be a standard fitting. The mains input connector for the power supply needs to go where the mains output connector would go if the power supply had one (as some older ones did). I hope that what I will be able to do is to replace the printed circuit board in the old, faulty, power supply with the printed circuit board from the good one. If the fixing holes are in the same place this could be relatively simple, and there is a chance it will be. The faulty power supply is one I previously modified to fit the Compaq case, and was otherwise a standard part. So there is a chance that a transplant will be straightforward.

 Tonight could get complicated. I am meeting Aleemah at Victoria for a quick drink, and then I hope to meet Kevin and Iain for more drinking in Catford. Don't know how I am going to manage that, but I am going to try for both.
Tuesday 24th April 2007
08:11 BST
 The rain has finally come, although there is not much of it. There was a tiny little splash or rain yesterday morning, but that was not enough to even wet the ground. This morning there has been enough to make the ground look slightly damp, but no more. There could be more rain later, but I doubt we'll get anything like a downpour. It actually feels very refreshing outside. The air temperature is still very mild, and the gentle fine, almost mistyness, of the rain made for quite a pleasant walk from the bus stop to work. Inside it does feel less refreshing. It is not exactly hot, but a degree, or two, cooler, and slightly less humidity would feel better.

 I managed to get home without any discomfort yesterday, despite not wearing a coat. it was cool(ish), but it stayed dry for me. Once indoors I got the most important things out of the way - feeding the cats, then putting my dinner in the oven -  before taking a look at my broken NAS box. It was behaving in a most peculiar way, and this morning I am beginning to suspect the power supply. Last night I tried changed the hard disk to motherboard ribbon cable. That did not help, and then I tried a new graphics card because sometimes the graphics were not appearing. That should have been a big clue, but I chose to ignore it last night. The new graphics card made sure that the screen came up every time I tried to boot, but did nothing for the hard disk problem.

 The next thing I tried was to put the main hard disk in another machine. I tried a couple of my old machines, but the only one that seemed suitable was an old heap of unknown origin. ( I was originally given it as a rather large and clunky mp3 player for use during my pirate radio days). It had a 133MHz "6x86" processor, and about 40MB of ram. It was really insufficient for what I needed, but I gave it a go anyway. It was a complete failure ! Well maybe not a complete failure. I did at least ascertain that the main hard disk was still bootable - up to a point. The boot sequence failed half way through, as it also did when I tried to boot from the installation CD. This was probably a memory issue, but it may have been something else.

 Having now realised that it may be the power supply that was the trouble with the original configuration, I may try an alternative power supply tonight. I have a brand new one, but there is a problem. The case the machine is in was made by Compaq, who for some bizzare reason decided to make it almost, but not quite the same fitting as a standard AT/ATX  power supply fitting. (As I wrote a little while ago, the mains input socket is where the mains output socket would be on an old AT standard power supply). For testing purposes I will just hang the new power supply out the side of the case. If that cures the problem, and I think it might, I will have to do some butchery to fit the new supply (or repair the old power supply - again !).

 I was going to write about some of my recent dreams, but now have little time to do it. Some recent dreams have included a three dimensional lift (up - down  - sideways - and rotate !). There was one that seemed to merge my current house with my old house, and last night a dream where I made a radiation detector from an ancient UHF TV modulator from an ancient games machine. The presence of radiation was indicated by increased noise on the TV screen. But now I have to do some work.
Monday 23rd April 2007
08:25 BST
 It's quite hard to say what the weather is like this morning. Sometimes it is sunny, with mostly blue skies, and at other times, like right now as I write this, it looks quite dull outside. Coming to work without a coat was a little cool, but not too bad, and I hope it will be more pleasant when I leave work to go home this afternoon.

 Saturday was not much fun without Aleemah being around, and I failed to take advantage of the extra free time to really do any significant spring cleaning. I did go out and buy some new bedding, and almost got ripped off. I bought a new bottom sheet, two new pillow cases, and a new duvet that came with two matching pillow cases. The duvet is rather kinky in that one side of it is satin I haven't tried it yet, but I reckon it will feel very sensual against my skin. It has been pointed out that it may also feel a lot hotter and more uncomfortable than cotton on hot nights. Well, maybe, but I like to experiment.

 Experimenting was one thing I meant to do on Saturday. I still have not tried the Ubuntu server edition distribution I downloaded some time ago now. I didn't even try it on Sunday. Instead I spent quite a lot of time either watching old episodes of Star Trek, or reading Douglas Adams' The Restaurant At The End Of The Universe (part two of the Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy books). One discovery I did make was that I had been overcharged for the bedding I had been bought. The duvet had been scanned twice, and the pillowcases omitted. That left me £12.50 out of pocket.

 On Sunday morning I went back to Poundstretcher, where I had bought the bedding, armed with all the evidence.The girl at the checkout admitted it was beyond her, and very quickly called the manager over. In a very short time, and without having  to argue, he had grasped what had happened and refunded me my £12.50. So that was a happy start to the day.

 After Poundstretcher I went directly to Tesco where I bought several heavy items - 4 litres of Diet Cola, tins of cat food, and a large bag of cat litter - and also some other bits and pieces. After staggering home with that lot I was sweating and decided to have a sit down. That really set the tone for the rest of the day. I was thoroughly lazy and did little that was constructive.

 One thing I should have done was to investigate a problem that I first noticed late in the afternoon on my FreeNAS, network attached storage box. For some reason it keeps "losing" the partition on the first hard drive that contains all my data. The back up disk was working fine, but I risked the file backup software synchronising the data on the main partition with the back up disk. Since the data on the main partition was blank it could have blanked out the back up as well. So I turned it off to investigate another time. There are three main possibilities of why this is happening. The first is a faulty disk drive, the second is a faulty motherboard, and the third is a faulty ribbon cable between the disk drive and the motherboard. There could be other more exotic reasons, but for now I will investigate the three most likely. The fault is possibly heat related, and that tends to make me think that it could be a motherboard problem. It is a very old motherboard, and lived for a long time unprotected in a dusty heap in the corner. It was slightly amazing that it worked at all. Perhaps I'll do some investigations tonight, or maybe I won't.
Saturday 21st April 2007
12:53 BST
 Today has started out sunnier than yesterday. It is still rather cool outside, but even now, past midday, it is still warming up nicely. Yesterday remained fairly dreary all day, but there were some sunny spells. It didn't seem too cold though, or at least not until I was finally on my way home.

 After work I went to meet Aleemah at Victoria. We had a nice drink together, but I didn't catch the significance of her feeling cold while we were in the pub drinking. It was cool outside, but not in the pub. I had gone to work without a coat, and most of the time I was comfortable in just my shirt sleeves. That changed as I was going home. I missed the one really good train from Victoria. This was the 18:19 to Ashford. It calls at Peckham Rye where there is just a five minute wait for the next train which calls at Catford station. It takes about twenty minutes for the entire journey (plus maybe ten minutes walk from the station to home). Having missed that train I decided to get to London Bridge and catch a train to Catford Bridge station there. There are other trains from Victoria to Peckham Rye, but as far as I know they have very bad connections with the Sevenoaks trains which call at Catford station. To get from Victoria to London Bridge means catching the District Line tube service to Westminister, and then changing to the Jubilee Line. The District line tube train came after a five minute wait, and was fairly packed. At Westminster I had a six minute wait for a Jubilee Line train. That one was so packed that I could not even contemplate trying to wedge myself inside. The next train was just over a minute away, and that one was still very full, but I managed to squeeze my way onto it. Upon arrival at London Bridge I found that I had a twenty minute wait for the next train. During that wait, standing on a draughty platform in just my shirtsleeves, I began to feel really chilled. Eventually my train arrived. It was a minute late, and fifty seven minutes after I should have been on the train at Victoria.

 I got home feeling very cold, tired and hungry, and quite possibly after Aleemah would have arrived home after her fairly long journey home. Cold, tired and hungry (and very slightly pissed !) are a lethal combination for anyone trying to eat a little healthier. I first made some fried bread. The bread was a little stale, and frying it took away any notion of staleness. Now fried bread is a very bad thing, but I can claim that mine was fried on olive oil. I ate that with a couple of little tins of mackerel in spicy tomato sauce. While I was eating that I cooked a double pepperoni pizza, and had that next. I went to bed, still feeling cold, but fell asleep very quickly feeling cozy and warm under my duvet.

 This morning I had a text message from Aleemah saying she was feeling unwell. That was obviously the significance of her shivering in the pub last night. I spoke to her soon after she sent the text message, and she complained of feeling nauseous and very wobbly on her feet. It sounds as if it is something worse than just a chill, but hopefully that is all it is, and I will be able to see her during the week.

 Obviously I am not seeing her today, and I am having to make my own entertainment for today (and tomorrow). I did have notions of doing some spring cleaning, but so far I have done very little except re-installing more software on the Windows 2000 PC downstairs in the back room. This was the one that completely corrupted it's C:/ drive last weekend (see entry for 17th).

Philip Morris cigarettes from Argentina
Some other things I may do today are :
  • Some washing
  • Some shopping
  • Some reading
  • Play with Ubuntu server
  • Eat
  • Sleep
  • Absolutely nothing !

I thought I would leave my writing today with a picture of the Philip Morris cigarette packs that Patricia brought me from Argentina. (In fact it is a scan of the empty packaging of one pack rather than an actual photo - that was the easiest way of doing it).
Friday 20th April 2007
08:22 BST
 Apart from one brief sunny spell it is a grey morning. It is also fairly cool outside. I am wondering if today was a good day to leave my coat at home. The forecast says it will brighten up later on, and I am counting on it being nice and sunny when I leave work.

 Last night I saw Patricia, but she did not want feeding. She said that she would not be staying long, but in fact she stayed long enough for a three course meal, with brandy and cigars after (not that she drinks brandy or smokes cigars). It was very nice seeing her and catching up with her gossip. Apparently she now has a new boyfriend, and one who seems more likely to be long term than some of the men she has met over the internet. The cigarettes she brought me from Argentina were branded as Philip Morris and are in softpacks. Apparently they cost about £7 (equiv) for 200 over there. They seem to smoke alright, and surprisingly are like British fags rather than the toasty flavour you get from typical American fags.

 Seeing as Patricia declined her dinner, I had to eat both tuna steaks myself after she left. Combined with rocket, spinach, and watercress salad leaves, three small vine ripened tomatoes, and lashings of mayonnaise, they were rather good. They would have been even better if they were hot straight from the oven. Leaving them in a hot, but cooling, oven did make them dry out a bit, but sill not too bad. It was almost a very healthy meal that was spoilt only by the excess mayonnaise. In mitigation I will say that it was mayonnaise made with olive oil rather than some less healthy oil varieties.

 A week spent trying to eat a bit more healthily (and almost succeeding) seems to be paying off. My energy levels are beginning to return to more acceptable levels. Last night I even ran for the bus ! This morning I was able to cross the link between Waterloo East and Waterloo main line stations at a reasonable speed without suffering near collapse before I reached my train. If I can keep this up for another week, maybe two, I think I ought to try and get back into doing some swimming on Saturday mornings (maybe even an evening too). There are two difficulties with this. Firstly, going swimming on a Saturday morning would greatly affect my Saturday afternoons with Aleemah by reducing the time I have available to do stuff like housework, and it would be a lot of rushing around. Secondly, with Patricia now seeing another man she is unlikely to be available to accompany me to swimming sessions, and I hate the idea of going alone.

 Tonight I will be rushing from work to meet Aleemah at Victoria where we will be having a quick drink together. If I am seeing her tonight it might mean I will not be seeing her tomorrow. That would be a shame, but looked at positively it would give me a chance to catch up on all sorts of stuff that I would like to do (or alternatively allow me to have a thoroughly lazy day !).
Thursday 19th April 2007
08:08 BST
 It is not very warm outside, but it is bright and sunny. Sooner or later it will warm up, and I look forward to a nice sunny commute home. This morning, the same as the last few morning, I have come to work without a coat on. It was perhaps just a little too cool for that to be comfortable, but I am sure the slight discomfort suffered this morning will be nullified by the comfort of not being encumbered with a hot coat on tonight.

 After my later start at work yesterday I stayed a bit later before I left for home again. It was most pleasant outside, and I almost enjoyed my journey home. Even though I left twenty five minutes later than normal, I was still able to get the same train that I have to fall back on if I do not get to Waterloo East in time. Initially I didn't think I would make that train. I arrived at Clapham Junction late enough to catch the delayed 16:37 train from platform 7. This was a class 159 diesel electric train, and that provided some novelty value to the ride to Waterloo (main line) station. I was so sure that I would miss the 16:55 from Waterloo East that I did not bother to rush over the link between the two stations. It was only when I realised that I was so close to catching that train that I (semi)rushed the last fifty feet.

 I can't remember what time it was, but Iain informed me that he would definitely be going for a drink last night. So I decided to only have a very light dinner to avoid spoiling the beer. I just had a little cold roast beef and some salad. Within fifteen minutes of eating that I decided that it was not sufficient. I could have had a little more beef and salad but instead made the unusual decision to have a bowl of "fruit and fibre" breakfast cereal. That did the trick, and I suppose it was not so different to a pudding after the main meal.

 I enjoyed three pints of Stella Artois with both Kevin and Iain before getting back home again at about ten past nine. I was feeling peckish after the beer, and had already sort of planned to have more of the cold beef with more salad - which I did. While eating it I switched on the TV and watched the remains of an episode of "The Young Ones" on UK TV Gold. That was followed by an episode of "Filthy, Rich & Catflap". I was very tempted to watch that too, but considered it was getting too late, and went to bed.

 Tonight I should be entertaining Patricia for the first time in about six weeks. So I want to call in at Tesco's on the way home to get in some fresh stuff for dinner. I am quite looking forward to seeing Patricia after all this time (and looking forward to the "duty free" fags she brought back from Argentina for me). Of course I have to earn the fags. Patricia is having trouble with her laptop after letting her son loose on it. It is probably as simple as he has added himself as a user, and now Patricia is no longer the sole user, she has to login before she can use it.
Wednesday 18th April 2007
08:40 BST
 The weather seems to have shifted once again. This morning is a lovely bright morning. It is a little cool, but still mild enough to be fairly comfortable without a coat on (provided you don't stand around in a draughty place for too long). Later on it should warm up nicely. There wasn't any rain at all yesterday despite the official forecast suggesting there could be a couple of isolated light showers. My commute home was done in very pleasant sunshine, and without my coat it was most pleasant.

 After a couple of days of resuming my nothing but fruit diet until after work, I felt like I had some reserves of energy when I got home last night. It didn't last that long, but it was sufficient to see me through re-installing Windows 2000 on my downstairs, back room, second PC. I even got as far as installing a couple of programs on it as well.

 Despite all my healthy intentions I did have a bit of a naughty, but nice, dinner last night. It sounds a bit weird, but was actually rather nice. I had a haggis (found rather cheap on Tesco's "reduced price" counter on Sunday) with salad and hot pepper sauce. I never really checked, but I imagine that the ingredients of a haggis, and I did eat the entire thing myself, are fairly high in calories. Tonight I will be having warm beef and salad. The beef was another remarkable find on the Tesco reduced price counter. It was looking a bit sad compared to the bright shiny blood reds of the fresh beef, but that look is a bit unnatural anyway. Maybe the slightly dull brown look was the reason why it was marked down from £3.14 to a mere 95p. I cooked it last night while I was cooking the haggis. A quick taste (and I was very, very, tempted to take a bigger one) proved it to be delicious. It is fairly lean meat, which while not the best option for flavour and texture, should result in something like a healthy, or at least low calorie, meal tonight. I am feeling hungry just thinking about it.

 One problem with looking forward to a nice meal tonight is that I may well be going to The Ram for a drink with Kevin and/or Iain. I never enjoy a good drink if I have had a large meal beforehand, so I will have to go for a very small meal unless I hear before then that no one is going to the pub tonight. Of course in this day and age, a good drink means about three pints. Any more would, of course, be binge drinking by current standards. Twenty years ago three pints would just be a lunchtime thirst quencher. How times have changed !   
Tuesday 17th April 2007
08:19 BST
 It's a grey start to the day, but it is still very mild outside. The weather forecast suggests that the clouds will break up by the afternoon, and we will, once again, be bathed in golden sunlight. This is similar to yesterday, except that it never really did get very cloudy in the morning. With sunshine from mid morning onwards, it was a very hot day yesterday. This morning I have bravely, or maybe that should be foolishly, decided to leave my coat at home. I was certainly very comfortable commuting into work with no coat on this morning, and provided any possible rain showers avoid the time when I am going home, I am sure I will be more comfortable without a coat than with one for that journey home.

 Last night I downloaded Ubuntu server edition Linux. I think this will be the basis for a new server project I am dreaming up. Unlike the almost bloated, does everything, SuSE Linux I am currently using, this is a stripped down distribution that has one single purpose in life - to be just a server, and not a desk top computer. I don't know when I will be brave enough to try it, and whether I will be brave enough to replace the SuSE installation on the currently live server. I may have a practice run on some lesser hardware first. Maybe I'll just do a very basic, disposable, installation just to get the feel of it. One thing I do know is that I won't be doing it tonight. If I do anything computer related tonight it will be to repair my PC that is mainly used for video work. Last night it managed to corrupt the operating system as I shut it down. I didn't have much time to examine it last night, but it does seem that the beginning of the C: drive, with the Windows 2K operating system on it, has become heavily corrupted for some reason. Maybe it is the hard disk itself, or maybe it was some sort of nasty. One other possibility is that the motherboard, and specifically the hard disk controller, is dying. That computer has suffered several tragic failures over the last year. The most dramatic was caused by the power supply going haywire. That blew up a hard disk drive, and damaged the graphics card. Everything else was obviously stressed, and now maybe I am seeing the fall out from that incident. Could it be time to move on to a brand new motherboard and faster processor ???? Watch this space !
Monday 16th April 2007
08:10 BST
 The weather is on the turn. This morning started bright and somewhere between mild and warm, but there are some clouds gathering right now. Rain is forecast for today, and I was sure I could smell it when I left my house. Any rain will probably be fairly light, and hopefully fairly intermittent. One curious aspect of the weather is the forecast for tomorrow afternoon in today's edition of The Metro. That forecast is that the temperature will reach 55° C !!!!! I sincerely hope that is a misprint !

 Yesterday was very warm, in fact it was hot. The sun shone for most of the day, and yet I stayed in resting (or being very lazy). Indoors it did get almost unpleasantly hot, but I later discovered one extra reason for that. My blood sugar level has been rather high recently due to excess consumption of stuff containing sugar. What I did not realise until yesterday afternoon was that some of the fruit juices I have been drinking contain unbelievable amounts of sugar in them It makes Diet Coke look very healthy by comparison. I have been buying these fruit juices principaly for Aleemah to drink while visiting me, but there is never enough time for her to drink the whole carton. They are all sold with the implication that they are healthy, but in fact they are not, at least they are not to anyone who wants to reduce their sugar intake. I do wonder why that white grape juice (naturally sweet) with pear and apple juice (also quite sweet by themselves) needs to have added sugar - and quite a lot of it. I will be far warier of cartons of fruit juice in future, and will check the ingredients before buying.

 This morning my cough and blocked nose is very much improved thanks to snorting the Beconase I bought on Saturday. However, this does not mean I feel that wonderful. After spending too much time lying on my back reading and snoozing yesterday, my back feels very stiff this morning. I also seem to have a pain down in the pelvic region. All these pains seem to be dissipating now that I have been moving around more.
Sunday 15th April 2007
12:07 BST
 Today, like yesterday, the sun is shining, and it is quite warm outside. Apparently some colder weather is on it's way, but the worst won't arrive until towards the end of the week. I believe the temperature in London is expected to hit, or maybe even exceed, 24° C later this afternoon.

 I came home from on Friday feeling very tired and did not achieve hardly any of my chores. On Saturday morning I woke up feeling like my cold was back. My nose seemed to be getting blocked very frequently, and I felt generally crappy. Things did not look good for my visit from Aleemah during the afternoon. By about 10am I had summoned enough strength to go and do some shopping in Tesco. The fresh air seemed to help the way I felt, but lugging back a load of stuff seemed to drain even more energy from me. I had little time to recover before I had to get the train to London Bridge to meet Aleemah.

 During the fifteen minutes, or so, that I was on the train I began to wonder if some of my stuffed, or runny, nose may be an allergic reaction. I do have a slight sensitivity to tree pollen in the spring, and I think that this year, perhaps because of the coincidence of the cold I had last week, it is apparently worse.

 My journey to London Bridge to a few minutes longer than scheduled, and that was just long enough to arrive late for the next train going back to Catford. It is a very tight connection, but with Aleemah meeting me on the platform it should have been possible (we managed it last week). As it happened, the train back to Catford was running late, and there was no need to rush at all. That train, coming from Cannon Street, was so late, that it proved quicker to get what should have been, and in actuality was,  the next train. The train we had planned to get was so late that it left London Bridge barely one minute before the train we actually got. That train was fast to Ladywell station (the station before Catford Bridge), and we passed the earlier train while it was sitting in St Johns station. I guess that we arrived back in Catford at least 6 or 7 minutes earlier than the "early" train did.

 While explaining to Aleemah my theories about my possible allergy she suggested I try some Beconase nasal spray. After we had stopped off at the Catford Broadway Pie and Mash shop, to feed Aleemah, we called in to Boots to buy some Beconase. Once we got home I gave a squirt up each nostril. It took about half an hour before there was any change, but change there was. I can't say it was a total cure, but it did seem to help in a big way.

 For the rest of the afternoon, and into early evening, my nose was very well behaved. It still got a bit blocked now and then, but by comparison to the morning, I was almost cured. We had a very pleasant afternoon together, but come the evening, when it was time to escort Aleemah back to London Bridge, I was feeling exhausted again. The journey to London Bridge was uneventful, but when it came to getting my train home again I had a most difficult time (as did many other passengers). As we waited on Platform 5 the platform Customer Information Display Screens showed that the Hayes train was due in on time. At the due time no train entered the platform, but one did on platform 4. At that point the display screen suddenly flicked to showing a Margate train was the next one expected, and I noticed that the display on platform 4 was now saying Hayes. So, like everyone else, I had to rush over the footbridge to platform 4. I did it in double quick time. A surge of adrenaline must have kicked in energy reserves I never knew I had. Unfortunately it left me totally winded and almost gasping for breath. It was a good couple of minutes before I felt I had got my breathing under control.

 I arrived home feeling sort of good for my little burst of energy, and happy after seeing Aleemah, but also extremely tired. I wanted a bit to eat before going to bed. I did have a couple of small sandwiches for breakfast, and a very small portion of tinned salmon salad with Aleemah, and was feeling like something more eat to eat. I settled on some more salad, but this time with some chicken. After eating that, and watching some TV for a while, I decided it was most definitely time to turn in. Sleep came quite easily, and although I did wake once during the night, I slept pretty solidly until 6am this morning.

 After feeding the cats I played about on the internet for a while before going back to bed. This time I did not sleep well, but I managed some sleep before getting up and showering at about 9am. Since then I have paid another visit to Tesco, and done very little else.

 Improving my allergic rhinitis  with Beconase is also having a beneficial effect on my ongoing cough. With no nasty mucus trickling down into my lungs from my nose, my airways seem to be drying out. So the deep chesty cough, as I try an expel lumps of lung, is giving way to a dry tickly cough. In time that will dissipate, and I will feel as healthy as I have ever been (not very, but enough to live !). Of course none of this explains why my shoulders feel so stiff and painful........
Friday 13th April 2007
08:12 BST
 Today, Friday the thirteenth, has started fairly bright. Overnight cloud kept the warmth in, so it has also started a little milder than yesterday morning. Today was possibly the first day of the year when I could have left my coat at home. I decided not to attempt it this morning, but I can see it will not be long before I will be coming to work in just my shirtsleeves.

 Last night I met Aleemah for a drink at Victoria. I did feel tired, and rather odd, when I arrived there, and even a couple of pints of Stella Artois failed to perk me up. It was nice being with Aleemah, but nice to get home again. The first part of the journey home, from Victoria to Peckham Rye was in a hot and crowded train. It only lasted about ten minutes, but I couldn't wait to get off again into the fresh air. The next bit, the train from Peckham Rye to Catford, also took about ten minutes, but the train was far less crowded, and seemingly more airy. On both occasions I had to stand up for the journey, but it was only on that first train where I was packed in uncomfortably.

 I arrived home feeling very drained. I had some dinner, watched a bit of TV, and was in bed well before 9pm. I fell asleep very quickly, and slept soundly until around 1.30am when I woke up and couldn't get back to sleep again. After trying for sleep for fifteen or twenty minutes, I decided to get up and "surf the net". Mainly I read some articles from The Register, but also looked here and there. I think it was sometime around 3am when I went back to bed. At first sleep would still not come. My mattress seemed full of lumps, and the sheets seemed extra creased, and the pillows were all lumpy too. The next thing I knew was that my clock radio was sounding for me to get up.

 I do feel sort of odd this morning. I feel a little tired, but also something else. I can't explain that something else. It is not pain, or discomfort, in any usual sense, but I just feel sort of odd. In some ways I am recovering from my recent cold quite well (for a heavy smoker). My cough is less frequent, and less vicious, but can still grab me and cause an embarrassing coughing fit on a crowded train. I think it only happened once this morning, and that compares to every five minutes a couple of days ago.

 Tonight I am not sure what I will do. Ideally I should do some shopping, tidying up, and other general household chores in preparation for a visit from Aleemah on Saturday, but I fear I will be too knackered to do more than 10% of what I would like to do. That means a potential rush on Saturday morning that could wear me out before I go out to collect Aleemah at London Bridge. So I guess I'll do what I can, and sweep the rest under the rug !
Thursday 12th April 2007
08:15 BST
 The day has started fairly bright. Unfortunately it is still just a little too cold to come to work without a jacket, but that time is getting close. It has certainly been too warm to wear a jacket on the journey home recently. I have no doubt that tonight will be the same. that will be a little unfortunate because I am meeting Aleemah for a drink after work, and I do now want to turn up all hot and sweaty.

 My cold still rattles on, but every day brings an improvement. Last night I left work fifteen minute later than the previous night, and got to Catford nearly thirty minutes later as a consequence. In addition to that I did some shopping in Tesco on my way home. I arrived home feeling shattered, but only as shattered as I was at the time I left work the previous day (and still had to get home at that point). So things are obviously improving. I woke up very early this morning, and could not seem to really get back to sleep because I felt uncomfortable. I felt sort of crappy until I got to Wandsworth. Since then I don't feel too bad. I have noticed that over the last year, perhaps since I have been commuting to Wandsworth every day, that I no longer wake up feeling like I could conquer the world. I seem to have caught that disease where most people take an age to wake up properly. Once upon a time I could never really appreciate that not everyone could jump out of bed raring to go. At least I have no sunk to the level where I need five cups of extra strong coffee before I can even open my eyes. And this is a good thing because I don't drink coffee !

 My computer experiments seem to have reached fruition for now. With the final finishing touch put in by Steve (thanks Steve), my network attached storage box is now running well, and I can administer it over the network (i.e. from work) with ease now. The ftp server bit is working OK, except that my attempt to connect to it from work, just now, failed when it came to listing the file contents. It complained that a port was not open. Whether it was a port blocked at home, or a port blocked here at work, I have yet to ascertain, but it is a step in the right direction.
Wednesday 11th April 2007
08:42 BST
In a similar way to yesterday, the day started rather grey, but the sun is shining now, and it promises to be even hotter than yesterday. I have just stolen someone's fan to cool me down. It is like an oven in this workshop.

 It felt very unpleasantly hot when I left work yesterday, although the actual air temperature was not that great. It was partly due to being cooked all day in this hot workshop, and the rest was due to the residual illness that is still bothering me. There could be some good news about my illness. I woke up at 3am, this morning, soaked in sweat. That is usually a good sign, and in some ways I do feel better than  yesterday. Once the chest congestion (and coughing) clear, I ought to feel as good as new.

I've left it too late to write more.
Tuesday 10th April 2007
08:11 BST
 Back at work, it's gloomy outside, and feels very hot inside. The sky is very cloudy at the moment. It is not the sort of cloud that threatens rain, but it is intercepting all the sunshine. Despite that it is fairly mild outside. Not exactly warm, but not exactly cold either. The forecast is for some sun to break through, and that will send the temperature up to at least 18° C. That may not be as high as yesterday, or maybe the day before, but it is very reasonable. Meanwhile, this office feels like an oven and I am dripping sweat on my workbench.

 Yesterday ended up as a lazy day until the evening. While shopping in Tesco I found the latest edition of New Scientist, and of course that had to be read before anything else could be done. So I had some brunch, did some reading, and did some snoozing. Nothing much more exciting happened until about 5pm. It was then that I decided to have a go and doing some preparatory work for my experimental NASbox (Network Attached Storage).

 First of all I needed to fit a power supply into an old Compaq computer case that I had already fitted my old Pentium Pro motherboard in. Compaq, being Compaq, like to try and do things their own way. The mounting for the power supply is standard, but the case cut-out for the mains input socket is where the switch (or mains output to monitor socket) would normally be. Fortunately I had a spare power supply that needed a simple repair, but had both mains input and output sockets on it. I did the repair, replacing one blown (and oozing) capacitor, and reassembled the unit with the input socket fitted where the output socket was. The old output socket I discarded. It now fitted in the case, and better than that - it worked OK.

 I had thought I would do little more than checked the motherboard still started up, and could see the CD drive, but it was like a Sunday evening last night, and Sunday evenings, when I really should get an early night, seem to be one time when I can get carried away with doing something time consuming on a computer. So before I went to bed, somewhat later than I desired, or was good for me, I had the software installed, and the box partially working.

 I must say that is a rather good operating system. The installation is a doddle, and the management tools, via a web interface, are exceptionally easy to use (and for the most part simple to understand). There are several facilities available that will need some experimentation, and that could be something I do tonight. So pretty soon I will have yet another old computer given a new life as a useful add on to my network.

My health continues to improve - I think. Mainly I am left with the legacy of a smokers cough. Last night was a bit bad. My coughing did help keep me awake when I really wanted to get to sleep as soon as possible. It would probably have been easier if I had not also been buzzing about my initial success with the FreeNAS box. Thinking about the possibilities of that kept me awake leading to more time to cough, and the cough would keep me awake leading to more time to think about the FreeNAS box. A vicious circle, and one that took a lot of breaking.
Monday 9th April 2007
07:26 BST
 It's not so bright this morning. I think it clouded over last night, and that did keep the warmth in. When I let Smudge out the back door a little while ago, I did not get the same icy blast on my legs as  yesterday. I think the lack of brightness is just due to a high mist that should soon disperse. As far as I can see there are no actual clouds in the sky. The sky seems to be a uniform shade of slightly grubby blue. The high for today is forecast to be 21° C and I see no reason why it should not reach that. Yesterday was most pleasantly warm.

 I never did achieve anything of great importance yesterday. My energy levels still felt low, but I did summon up the energy to lug a 12Kg bag of cat litter, and two 2 litre bottles of Diet Coke, back from the corner shop. That lot was quite heavy, and I was more than happy to reach home and put the stuff down.

 My day went very much as I had predicted. I lazed around occasionally dozing off, doing some reading, but I didn't really play with any computer hardware. I did play with the computers though. Of most significance was testing my recently upgraded upstairs, front bedroom, PC. I gave it a 700MB avi file to transcode to DVD files. It was with some amazement that it seemed to transcode the video faster than my (theoretically) faster PC downstairs, but the most satisfying thing was that, even though it was working hard, the CPU temperature never exceeded about 52° C. Using the old CPU on the same machine would have sent to temperature soaring, and I would probably have had to call in some outside cooling fan to stop the thing blowing it's top. To be able to work the machine hard, without having to leave the side of the case off, is a most definite achievement. It was a fairly cheap upgrade too. I think the new CPU cost around £22, and the uprated power supply was around £38. I am actually tempted to get another of those CPU's to fit into my downstairs, back room, Linux, PC. That doesn't suffer from overheating, but going from a 1.3GHz CPU to a 1.8GHz CPU should give a noticeable improvement in speed. Although both are Durons, by name, I think that the 1.8GHz version uses a different, and inherently faster, core. So the improvement in speed may be more than just the increase of frequency may imply. The fallacy in this argument is that machine is never asked to do any hard work, and the speed of operation is mostly irrelevant provided, as is the actual case, that it is fast enough not to cause any irritating delays in opening programs.

 It's back to work tomorrow after today's bank holiday. So I just have today to do all the things that I really wanted to do in my spare time. Rushing about a bit would be good practice to get me prepared for work, but I still don't really feel like it. I guess I am just going to freewheel through the day again, and do whatever I feel like. I think I definitely want to go out shopping today, but I may just get the essentials from Tesco. I would really like to play with some computer hardware, and I think I will probably have raised the enthusiasm for that later in the day. I really should do some tidying up, particularly of the living room, but I doubt I would be far out in guessing that the day will pass without that happening.

 I've put off mentioning my current health to last because I am not really sure how I feel. I woke up feeling quite awful, but that passed fairly quickly. My nose feels stuffier than yesterday, but that is also part of the early morning "ritual". I am expecting that to mostly pass once I am showered and dressed (and maybe out in the fresh air). My cough is forever changing its characteristics. Last night it was a bit dry and tickly, and so far this morning it is a little more chesty. Fortunately the bubbly, drowning, sensation seems to have abated. On past experience I think that the cough will be just a dry tickly throat later on this morning.  I have no significant aches or pains, so I suppose I could argue that I am more or less back to normal - except that I have a day off work, and no one to see, so I will carry on as if I am sick, or at the very least, convalescing.
Sunday 8th April 2007
07:17 BST
 The sun is lurking just a little too close to the eastern horizon for it to show directly, but the sky is blue, and the forecast is, or was, for quite a warm day (maybe as high as 17° C). It all depends on the timing of the clouds. Yesterday started like today, but just in the middle of it the clouds rolled in and blotted out the warm sunshine. Later on, towards, early evening, the clouds faded away again leaving clear skies. After a night of clear skies the air outside is very cold. When I opened the back door for the cats, earlier this morning, I got quite an icy feeling blast of cold air on my legs. Needless to say, it was only Smudge who went out, and was soon back indoors again.

 I finished writing yesterday hoping that my energy levels would increase during the day. To some extent they did, but the crash afterwards was pretty bad.

 I met Aleemah at London Bridge, as planned, and we came back here via a walk around the shops. Just being with Aleemah seemed to boost my energy levels quite a lot. Once we were home I left Aleemah reading while I cooked our lunch. We had salmon, potato croquettes, and peas. It should have been wonderful, but it was frozen salmon that seemed rather dry and chewy. Maybe I overcooked it, but I think that unlikely. Despite the fish not being that wonderful it was still a pleasant meal that Aleemah seemed to enjoy.

 With lunch over we watched a couple of DVDs before indulging in some cuddling. After that I made Aleemah some supper of stuffed vine leaves with some tinned mackerel. Soon it was time to watch Dr Who on BBC1 (which fortunately Aleemah was aware of while I had forgotten about it). It was quite a good episode set in 1599 with William Shakespeare himself playing a major role as an actor (or an actor playing William Shakespeare who had a leading role in the story, if you want to be pedantic). While watching Dr Who my energy levels seemed to drain away very fast, and worse than that, I started to cough very badly. It was the usual way I suffer at the end of a cold. There is no direct irritation to the airways, but lots of phlegm bubbling away just below the throat. It is a sensation more akin to drowning than irritation. Fortunately it was time to take Aleemah back to London Bridge. I summoned up all my energy reserves and was took a slow stroll to the station. On the train I felt really tired, and when we got to London Bridge I asked Aleemah if it would be all right to only see her as far as the escalators leading down to the Jubilee Line station. She was happy with that, and so I trudged back up the ramp to platform four to await my train home.

 I only had about a ten minute wait for my train, and was soon on my way. Sitting quietly on the train I managed to rest a little while, and did not feel too bad when I alighted at Catford Bridge station. It is only a 5 to 10 minute walk home from there, but I felt totally knackered when I got home. My cough had restarted with an avengence, and I was feeling very low. I was also feeling hungry, or thought I was. There was still one piece of salmon left in the oven, three potato croquettes, some stuffed vine leaves, and plenty of peas leftover in the saucepan. I thought I would start with the salmon and peas, and see how I fancied the other stuff later. After rewarming, the salmon was no worse that when I had first served it earlier in the day. That suggests to me that overcooking was not the reason as to why it seemed to tough and chewy. Having chomped my way through that I realised that I didn't want any more to eat, and in act it seemed to be a struggle to finish it.

 This illness does seem to be affecting my appetite in rare ways. Yesterday the amount I ate in total cold easily have been encompassed in just one meal. The day before that my food intake was probably only around 50% of normal. If I can make a habit of this I will soon lose weight.

 I didn't fancy going to bed straight away despite feeling exhausted. So I watched another episode of the original Star Trek, and the went to bed. I expected major trouble trying to get to sleep with phlegm bubbling around inside me, but to my surprise it did not take long to fall fast asleep. I slept solidly from, I'd guess, 10pm right through to 5am. Ideally I would have like more sleep, but seven hours will do for now. I expect to have many short naps during the day, and there is still one more day of holiday after today,  before I go back to work on Tuesday.

 My chest does seem improved this morning, although it is far from perfect. My appetite still seems a bit skewed. I rather fancied a couple of large beefburgers for breakfast. I cooked a pair, and ate them with the last of the stuffed vine leaves. Halfway through eating my breakfast I realised that I had cooked too much for how I really felt. On some other day I might have regarded what I had as a large snack, but this morning it was a struggle to eat it all.

 With breakfast now inside me, I think the next thing I'll do today is to catch up on a bit more sleep. If sleep does not come I will do some reading (in fact I'll probably do both). Later on I may have a play with  one, or other, of my computer projects. Other than that I will just relax in the luxury of a day off work, and just freewheel through the rest of the day.
Saturday 7th April 2007
08:24 BST
 Another days dawns bright and sunny. There appears to be some very light misty haze in an otherwise totally blue sky. It may well get fairly warm this afternoon. Yesterday was warm, but my cold makes any accurate appreciation of the temperature unreliable. It certainly felt warm enough for me to lock open the bathroom windows, and leave like that for maybe the next 6 months or more.

 I am definitely on the mend from my cold. I can often go for periods of as much as an hour without having to blow my nose now. It is still a little stuffy, but the uncontrollable dripping has long ceased. It is also looking like I may have escaped the worst of any chest infection too. I am occasionally coughing up large lumps of lung, but the general irritation of the airways seem to be absent - so far.

 I am still feeling weak and lethargic this morning, but I am hoping that will improve later today. It is a shame it doesn't improve a lot quicker than that. With a visit from Aleemah this afternoon I would like to do a lot of preparatory work prior to her arriving. Chief among these tasks are to give the place a good hoovering, and change the throws on the settee and chairs. As I write these words that all seems too much like hard work, but I will try and achieve something before I leave here at about 11:15 to meet Aleemah at London Bridge.

 I don't know if we will come straight back here, or do some sightseeing first. It all rather depends on how we both feel when we meet. I know that seeing Aleemah will give me more strength, but as to whether it is enough for sightseeing......well we'll just have to see. Wherever we end up I know one thing is for sure. We won't be doing any kissing. Even if Aleemah took a chance on my germs, I doubt she would want to get too close to my crust nose and split lip. I'll just have to make do with a bit of hugging.

 Yesterday was, in some ways, a difficult day. I was sure that if I got some fresh air, and amused myself in other ways, I would probably feel a lot better. The first attempt at fresh air was my shopping trip to Tesco. I took it very easy, and although the fresh air did seem to feel good, it was also a totally knackering experience. After that I was very lazy for many hours. At one point I almost started doing some computer experiments, but could not find the get-up-and-go to actually start. Later on in the afternoon I attempted to take out the rubbish and clean up Nelly's litter tray. I achieved both OK, but once again it left me feeling very drained.

 Despite having several snoozes during the day, I went to bed very early again. I am not sure of the exact time, but I think I was in bed soon after 8pm, and I was asleep only a short while later. As on the previous night, my sleep was punctuated by waking up about every two hours. I am not sure why I kept waking up. It is true that on most of these occasions I took advantage of going to the toilet, but it was with no sense of desperation. Maybe I had been overcompensating for the fluid lost through my nose by drinking too much in the evening.

 One peculiarity of the cold has been the affect it has had on my appetite. For the last two days, and maybe it will happen today as well, I have had the most peculiar feeling. I have been unable to decide if I was hungry, but didn't feel like eating, or if I wasn't hungry, but did feel like eating. There were times when I thought I should eat, but couldn't be bothered, and times when I really wanted something nice to eat, but didn't feel hungry.  It was most perplexing, and I am sure it ended up with me eating far less than I could have done otherwise. This morning I actually had some proper breakfast, a bowl of muesli, but I suspect that will be the last I eat until much later in the day. I will be cooking dinner for Aleemah, and I will eat a little with her, but I may not eat anything significant until I am home again after seeing her onto the Jubilee Line at London Bridge. Even then it is possible that unless something really takes my fancy I will not eat at all.

 I see that I first started writing this over thirty minutes ago. In that time I have survived, more than adequately, on just one small "lady sized" tissue. That is a most definite and significant improvement over the previous two days.
Friday 6th April 2007
07:08 BST
 Today is a bank holiday, or public holiday, if you like. Specifically it is Good Friday, but the important thing is that I don't have to go to work today. This is good because I am still not well.

 This morning I am writing this on my upstairs, front bedroom, PC. More about that later. From this vantage point I can see that the sky is a delicious blue for the entire 180°  panorama that I can see. It is still a little too early for any direct sunshine, but I can see the glare getting brighter, and brighter above the tops of the houses to the East of me.

 My state of health is still quite low. I went to bed as early as 19:30 last night, and was soon asleep. It was surprisingly easy to sleep, but I did wake up many times in the night. The first was at 21:30 (about the time I would more usually be falling asleep). I woke up feeling quite good in some ways. I felt refreshed and my nose seemed surprisingly dry. Until I checked the time I was convinced I had slept through the whole night. Getting back to sleep seemed easy enough, and I did these wake sleep cycles roughly every two hours until I got bored with it and got up about at my usual time of 05:30.

 Since then I have had a few deep phlegm laden coughs, but nothing too bad. My nose is another matter though. Although initially fairly dry, it was not long before it started to run again. Even more irritatingly, in the last ten minutes, I have had another nose bleed. This one was from a seemingly mild nose blow. The previous two were the result of some quite vigorous blowing (number two was actually a combined cough, sneeze, and an attempt to blow my nose simultaneously). I do get the impression that these nose bleeds are coming from quite near the front of the nose, and maybe are the result of the typical soreness (and crustiness) that comes about after very frequent usage of assorted tissues and hankies. I do feel a little less optimistic that I will be well enough for Aleemah to visit tomorrow, although that will be her decision. I'd still like to see her regardless.

 Yesterday I felt so crap at work that I gave up and left at around midday. It was beautiful out, but I just wanted to get home rather than savour it. I suspect it was also almost warm, but my appreciation of temperature was all mucked up by this blasted cold. The first thing I did, when I got home, was to open up a couple of cans of soup. These I had with two bagels. With some warm soup inside me I lay down to sleep. I was just about asleep when a text message from Aleemah, enquiring how I was feeling, woke me up again. With the moment gone, I resigned myself to doing some reading.

 I did manage to doze off again, maybe once or twice, while reading, but eventually curiosity got the better of me. Before leaving work I had taken delivery of my new computer bits. I was still feeling rough, but rested enough to just try out the new power supply on the computer I am writing this on right now. In a short while I had the new power supply installed, and was relieved to see that the wobble on the monitor had disappeared (so my diagnostics, although based on a hunch, had been right). With the power supply installed it would only take a couple of minutes to install the new ram. So I did that too. By now, feeling someone elated at the success so far, I decided that I just had to try the new CPU(even though I was beginning to feel a little tired again). I did have a bit of a fight unclipping the heatsink from the motherboard, but I managed it safely, and soon had the new CPU installed and working. The BIOS recognised the new CPU and conveniently set all the parameters for it by itself.

 With all the new bits fitted, and with both sides of the case back on, I should have ideally given the computer some hard work to do (transcoding some video files maybe), but all I could manage was to play some mp3's while lying down and getting back to my reading. After an hour I noted that the CPU was, as I hoped, running much cooler. After being on for an hour in a warm room this morning, it is now sitting at 52° C. This is a little warmer than you might expect, but I have a strong suspicion that whatever measures the temperature has some sort of bug in it. It is possible to read the temperature from the BIOS screen within seconds of switching on. There is always a 10° C difference in temperature between the CPU and the case temperature even after this very short time. It is my belief that the CPU temperature over-reads by a constant 10° due to this bug. Subtracting 10° from 52° leaves a more satisfactory 42° C for the CPU.

 I am not sure what I will be doing today, or even what I will be capable of. A visit to Tesco will be unpleasant, but will have to be done. If I survive that I may do a little more light shopping. Right now I feel like another lie down, and either doze off or do some reading. Of course curiosity will be a big motivation today. I have a spare CPU, spare memory, and a spare power supply sitting here baiting me. You could say I have two spare power supplies. One is a very cheap one bought along with the nice one now installed in this PC, and the other is the old one from this PC. That will need some sort of repair, but because it is still just about working, a repair should be feasible.

 I have, just this moment, looked inside the old power supply. To my surprise, and maybe to my dismay, I can see no bulging, leaking, capacitors. There are two small electrolytic capacitors that are uncomfortably near the hot heatsink, and I may well replace them as a matter of course, but I am now thinking along the lines that it was just a case of the power supply being finally overloaded after adding a wireless card and DVD burner. It was only a 300W power supply, and all the experts do say that is woefully inadequate for the old power hungry Athlon processor.  Maybe that power supply is destined to be another emergency/testing power supply.
Thursday 5th April 2007
08:21 BST
 Since last night I have been on a one man mission to raise the share price of Kleenex tissues. My illness seems to have finally resolved itself as a common head cold. This morning I feel pretty terrible. Snot is flying in all directions, and my head is pounding. If I can somehow avoid this cold going to my chest I might even survive, and maybe even recover in another day or two.

 It is cold outside, or at least that is how it feels to me in my current state. There is a good chance it will warm up though. The sun is shining and there are more aircraft contrails in the sky than clouds. My morning paper suggests that the temperature will continue to rise to as high as 21° C on Sunday. I just hope I am well enough, soon enough, to enjoy some of this forecast fine weather. Even more than that, I hope I am well enough to enjoy Aleemah's company on Saturday.

 In the last ten minutes I have taken some paracetamol to help me make it through the morning. Depending on how I feel I may well leave work early today, but not before my package of computer bits arrive. They were the only real reason I did not go sick from work today. Maybe later on I will feel genuinely better, but right now I am just going to whinge and moan about it to anyone who will listen.
Wednesday 3rd April 2007
08:54 BST
All the stuff I had originally written for today, and there was a lot of it, has disappeared after my work computer crashed. I have no time to write any more now.
20:15 BST
 This mornings disaster pissed me off rather a lot. I had written about four fairly long paragraphs before the computer froze, and I ended up with the dreaded Windows blue screen of death !  With that, all my hard work vanished into cyberspace, never to be seen again.

 The day has been fairly cool despite there often being some very pleasant sunshine. It was a welcome change to yesterday when it remained overcast all day with a couple of short lived spells of very light drizzle.

 I have been feeling a bit rough today. It is quite possible I am in the early stages of a cold. My throat has been almost, but not quite, painful. It is a little difficult to describe it exactly. While there is no pain, or even anything more than the mildest discomfort, it definitely feels sort of odd. In a similar manner, my nose has been feeling bunged up, yet has not actually been stuffed up at all. Nor has it been running. The most concrete thing is that I do feel very tired, and it has been getting worse since the afternoon. I am very much looking forward to my bed once I have finished writing this.

 It is quite possible that when I wake up tomorrow I will not feel like going to work., but I have to. This is not simply a case of devotion to duty, but something more important. I have ordered some stuff to upgrade one, or more, of my computers, and for convenience it is being delivered to my work address tomorrow (or should be). These bits are my "toys" to keep me amused over the long bank holiday weekend, and should I still be ill over that weekend then they are even more important than just my impatient desire to get them now. If I am forced into almost inactivity due to illness then gently playing with computers may be the only thing that will keep me amused.

 The bits I have ordered are two power supply units. One is an ultra cheap, low spec one, just for emergencies. While the other is a cheap(ish), but hopefully decent, one that I will be trying in my upstairs front bedroom computer. Since fitting a new DVD burner in that machine the graphics have gone a bit wobbly. There is a fair chance that the fault lies within the monitor, but the PC's power supply is the second suspect, and since that is far easier to replace than repairing the monitor, I will be fitting the new power supply first and keep my fingers crossed.

 I have also ordered 1GB of memory for that machine. At the moment it is doing fairly well on half that, but more memory is never to be sneezed at. The final bit of the order is a new processor. Currently fitted is a CPU. This is an early generation processor, and they were notorious for running very hot.  I have ordered a CPU to replace it. In theory there should be a small increase in the speed of the computer, although Duron processors are lower spec than Athlon processors. On the other hand the Duron is a slightly more modern device and may possibly show some improvements unrelated to the actual speed in GHz. The most important advance is that it should run cooler than the Athlon. At the moment I have to leave the side panel off the PC if it it worked hard for any length of time, and during the hottest summer months I have to use an external cooling fan to keep the temperature down.

 With that PC upgraded I will be left with a few useful bits on hand. I may well use these to build up another semi powerful PC. I have a spare socket A motherboard lying around that really just needs a processor, and memory,  to make it run. It does have one unfortunate fault though. Every time the floppy disk is accessed it corrupts the hard drive. Someone once suggested I turn off the floppy disk controller in the BIOS and make a "legacy free" computer. I don't think I would want to go that far. I'd prefer to keep the P/S2 ports for the mouse and keyboard, but I can live without a floppy disk drive.

 Trying out that old motherboard will be interesting, but I may well go for an even older motherboard. I have a motherboard with a 200MHz processor on it that I would like to use for something. That something may well be the experimental Network Attached Storage box that I want to play with soon.

 My most recent computer experiments have been a failure. The Umax "Apus 2000" Mac clone seems a total waste of space. Last night I had a go at getting it to boot from a Linux CD, or to be more precise, three different Linux distributions aimed at  Power PC based computers. None of the CD's would boot. Not even - one of the premier Linux distributions for using on Apple Mac hardware. One very slight possibility, a long shot really, is that the Amiga operating system may work on it, although I am sure it was originally sold as a Mac operating system computer. Of course one problem is that I do not have any Amiga software, but anything is possible.
Tuesday 3rd April 2007
08:14 BST
 This morning is greyer, and chillier, than it ought to be. The cloud cover is, or appears to be, very patchy, and it could well break up, but there is also some high mist that is contributing to the greyness. I did have hopes that it would be bright and sunny for my journey into work. Maybe that sunshine will come later this morning. Yesterday the sun broke through on my way into work, and it turned into a bright sunny day that was quite pleasantly warm. In fact, on the way home from work I did feel almost hot as I rushed around.

 Last night I spent quite a lot of time playing with the Apus 2000 Mac clone. Describing it as a clone is really a misnomer. It is not a clone in as much that it uses some SCSI interface chipset that Apple have probably never used. At least this is what I have come to believe. Try as I might I could not get the CD to be recognised by the operating system. My research suggests that Umax used top provide a special driver for the SCSI interface, but it is no longer available. I am beginning to think along the lines that I ought to dump that computer. It is of no real use to me, and I have only been playing with it for the novelty value. I did have one breakthrough with it last night. I hooked up the old hard disk and copied the ethernet driver onto a floppy. With the new hard disk back in place, and the ethernet driver copied onto it, I did have full network access. So if I could just get the CD drive to work, and find some ram to give the machine room to breathe, it could be usable, but really and truly I am wasting my time on it. If anyone wants a partially working Umax Apus 2000 then get in touch soon. bill*kelsey+ntlworld*com Hurry though, it might not survive beyond the weekend.

 I managed to get to bed at a more reasonable time last night - just a little after 9pm. I did feel very tired, but I could not seem to get comfortable. Every little ruck, or bump, in the mattress or sheet, felt like a rock, and my pillow felt like a bit of tree trunk. In addition, my duvet felt heavy, hot and clingy. It came as a bit of a surprise that even feeling uncomfortable like that I seemed to fall asleep very quickly. One moment I was thinking I would never get to sleep, and the next I was waking up in the small hours, and needing a pee. I should add, that my discomfort was also increased by another earful of ear drops. They are finally doing their job - I think. I started yesterday deaf in one ear, but walking to the station I gradually began to hear the birdsong in stereo, and by mid morning my hearing had seemingly returned to normal. This morning the wax has swelled up again after adding more ear drops last night, and once again my hearing is about 10dB low in my right ear. I believe that it will probably improve as the morning progresses (there is some improvement already). 
Monday 2nd April 2007
07:04 BST
 Once again I am late going to work. This time I made it almost all the way to the station before remembering that I had forgotten to take something with me. So I turned around and have come back home again. All I forgot was a CD, but any excuse.....

 This morning the sky is hazy in the way suggests the sun will soon break through leaving a warm and sunny day. It actually feels quite chilly out at the moment, but I am confident it will soon warm up. Indeed, the forecast for today is for sun and a temperature of 17° C, but forecasts have been known to be wrong, but it does seem to tally with my initial observations.

 Yesterday I decided to play with the Mac clone, the "Apus 2000" made by Umax. I fitted a new hard disk (an old 4GB drive) and proceeded to install Mac OS 8.5. It all installed OK, and the machine felt more responsive than when using the previous hard disk. This could be because that hard disk was failing, or maybe it is just the effect you always get with a fresh installation before it gets all cluttered up with installed junk. I'd guess that the chances are slightly in favour of the second possibility, but only slightly. There are two problems to solve on that machine now. The first is networking. The network card needs a drive (or "extension" in Mac parlance). I have one on a CD, but there in lies the second problem. For reasons I cannot comprehend the CD drive is not being recognised.

 Maybe I'll write more later, but it's time to get my train now.
Sunday 1st April 2007
12:57 BST
 Today. like yesterday, it is bright and sunny after a bit of a dull start. With temperatures soaring to a wholesome 13° C it almost feels quite pleasant. It is only the wind that makes it feel less than perfect.

 Yesterday started with good intentions. I did all the washing up, emptied the rubbish bin in the kitchen, emptied Nelly's litter tray, cleaned all the work surfaces in the kitchen, and even swept the kitchen floor (although if truth be told it really needs washing rather than sweeping). I also did a load of washing, but after that my enthusiasm waned, and my housework came to a grinding halt. I spent much of the rest of the day either reading or surfing the internet, but towards the evening I did do some advanced cookery. I made up two dozen empenadas. Most were filled with my own recipe beef mince filling, but the last were filled with tinned chicken chilli. The latter were sort of nice, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say they were OK, but it is not something I'll be trying again. I ate several during the course of the evening, and had a few more cold for breakfast. The last dozen are in the fridge and may end up as my dinner on Monday night.

 Today I have not really resumed my housework. I did do some shopping in Tesco, and have done another load of washing, but so far my bedroom and living room remain largely untouched. I was going to have more empenadas for dinner today, but I seem to have been tempted by some beef I bought in Tesco, which as I write this, has just gone in the oven.

 I am not sure how I will spend the rest of today. I have several episode of Star Trek (The Original Series) to watch, and that is most tempting, but there are one or two (even three) computer based projects that I may also have a play with. First of all, but maybe least likely, is to have another attempt at getting the blogging software () working. Second is to have a play with , a specialist based distribution for . Earlier this morning I downloaded the latest FreeNAS release, and I have burnt it to a bootable CD. It should be simple enough to get it running on one of my old PC's, and I do have a spare large hard disk to use for it. The third possibility, and this one is almost likely, is to dust down my Apus 2000 power Mac clone PC, fit an alternative hard drive in it, do a fresh installation of Mac OS 8.5, and see if it runs any better than the painfully slow system on it now. That machine has been sitting gathering dust for well over a year now, and it is probably time I blew the cobwebs off it.

 My right ear, that I made mention of a few days ago, continues to give me trouble. The wax in it has expanded to the point that I am mostly deaf in my right ear. I did consider going along to Lewisham Hospital this afternoon and see if I can persuade someone from the A&E department to syringe it out, but I doubt I will. Eventually the ear drops will clear the wax, and that may happens sooner than being seen in the casualty department. It is probably a wake up call for me to get around to sorting out a new GP since my last one retired six or seven years ago.

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