Bill's diary page for December 2007


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Sunday 30th December 2007
21:17 GMT
 The temperature has been fairly mild today. It has been this way because of the wind. That wind is coming from somewhere warmer than it would be here, but there is a twist in the tail. The wind itself feels qiite cold when it hits you. Since I last wrote on Friday morning it has remained dry as far as I can recall, and it doesn't feel* like any rain is due for some time yet.
( * This is a sort of general feeling. If I were to rely on the specific feeling in my lower back I would say that rain is a certainty)

 The last two day have actually been quite good in some ways, but behind every silver lining remains a cloud. On Saturday Aleemah visited. I met her at Catford Bridge because I still have not renewed my season ticket for work, and it was not worth buying a ticket just to go to London Bridge and then come straight back again. Our first port of call was, inevitably, the pie and mash shop where Aleemah had her pie and mash, and I had double egg and chips. Then we called into Tesco where I bought a brand new vacuum cleaner.

 My new vacuum cleaner was a Tesco special and cost just 29.99. It is shiny red and consumes 1.6KW of throbbing power. I have yet to try it, but I am fairly confident that it will suck up all the dust I can throw at it. I sometimes wonder why any one would pay 179 (and that is the discounted price according to one TV advert I saw today) for a hideously ugly, big and bulky, Dyson vacuum cleaner.  Maybe a Dyson would last longer, who knows ? I do know that I will never buy an Electrolux vacuum cleaner again. They are so unreliable. My last one, which I still have not done a complete post mortem on, only lasted 24 years, and in that time it needed two new beater bar drive belts. They just don't make them like they used to ! They way I sometimes feel lately does suggest that my shiny new red vacuum cleaner will outlast me.

 While Aleemah was here we watched two films. One was called Pandaemonium, and the other was the 1997 version of Lolita. Both films were sort of good, but then again,  were not really exciting. Aleemah had requested a bit of a fry up, vegetarian style, for her dinner. Unfortunately this meant that  I had to buy in several ingredients that I would have preferred not to have in the house because of their potential for high calories and/or high fat content (not to mention chloresterol). I bought some hash brown, tomatoes, eggs, fish cakes (Allemah's version of vegetarianism only rules out dead land animals, but not dead fish), and I already had some baked beans in the house. She enjoyed her fry up, but it did leave me with surplus eggs and hash browns. The hash browns I could have just left in the back of the freezer, but the eggs would have to be used up fairly quickly. So later on, once I had seen Allemah off on her train back to London, I cooked my own dinner. It was the same as I had cooked Aleemah, but with the addition of some chilli sauce on top. It was very nice, but after double egg and chips for lunch, and some other naughty snacks, I did feel quite dreadful when I went out today.

 Today I went up to the West End to have a drink with Nigel. After all that food yesterday I found myself feeling really knackered just walking to Catford Bridge station. I really don't know how I managed it without having a heart attack, but somehow I did make it. I met Nigel outside The Dominion theatre in Tottenham Court Road, and we headed to a pub called The Intrepid Fox. The Intrepid Fox has a long history as a rock/goth orientated pub, but some time ago it moved to it's current location. I never, as far as I can remember, visited the original, but I had drunk in the new premises some time back in the past. It has probably had a dozen changes of management since I last drunk in it, but still it does not open on a Sunday. So we walked down Denmark Street, crossed Tottenham Court Road, and went into the Royal George pub. The George was an old hang out in the days when we used to have to wait for the Marquee Club, The Borderline, or The Astoria to open their doors when going to gigs at those places.

 It is curious to note, that while researching the links to those three music venues I discovered that The Marquee Club has been reborn yet again. Nothing much seems to be happening there yet, or at least nothing that I recognise, but their new web site is to be found here.

 The George was very quiet when we got there. In fact we were the only customers in there, and by the time we left I did not notice more than a dozen, or so, other customers. One scary thing was the barmaid. She looked so young. If I had come across her, naked, on a porn web site I would be seriously worried about getting arrested for viewing child pornography, and yet there she was serving behind the bar of a pub. Apart from someone working in the kitchen, she seemed to be the only member of staff on the premises ! Before we got to the pub Nigel could not remember it, but once it came into sight the memories came flooding back to him. It amused me to hear that one of his last memories of the place was lying unconcious in the gutter after a particularly heavy drinking session that evidently ended in there. I must admit I can't remember the last time I had a drink in there, but I guess it was at least 5 years ago, and maybe a lot more than that.

 We had just three drinks in there before we headed for home. Once upon a time I would have walked back to Charing Cross station from there. It is all downhill, but not today. I split up with Nigel in the tube station. he went for The Central Line, and I went for The Northern Line platform. It didn't take long to get back to Charing Cross, it is only two stops, but it was just late enough to have missed my next train back to Catford by five minutes. That meant a 25 minute wait for the next train (luckily it was not yet early evening when it would have been a 55 minute wait for a train). I passed the time by going outside for a fag twice, and by visiting the toilets, a food stall selling sandwiches, and finally the hot pasty stand. The three pints of Stella Artois I drank on an empty stomach had both made me feeling starving hungry, and desperate for a pee. I was so hungry that I ate one of the pasties I bought on the train regardless of the fact that I know it stinks out half the train. Maybe I might remember how hungry I felt next time someone pisses me off by stinking out the train with a pasty, or something similar.

 When I got home I sat down in front of the TV and topped myself up with pasty and sandwich as my hangover started to build. It was not a serious, or at least painful hangover, but it took away my will to do anything other than be a couch potato. Eventually I lay down on the settee and fell asleep for an hour, and maybe more. I woke up feeling all bleary eyed, and tried to watch a bit more TV. Being a Sunday afternoon there was very little on to watch, but one of the channels were showing some films. Eventually, at about 7 pm I decided I would get myself some dinner together. It was then that I used up the left over ingrediaent I had bought to make Aleemah's fry up. So it was another very unhealthy meal. In an ideal world I ought to fast tomorrow, but I know I'll never manage that. Even worse, is that it is possible that Jodie may pop over. If she does it will mean two things. First I will have to rush out and buy her some sort of Xmas present, and secondly it will almost certainly mean that I will be opening a bottle of beer or two. That will make me feel hungry again, and the temptation for a big filling dinner may be more than I can fight. In fact there is no "maybe more" about it. I know it will trigger off bad hunger pangs and I will eat more than is good for me.

 So tomorrow I ought to go out and see if I can find Jodie a xmas present, and then I ought to give my new vacuum cleaner it's first test drive. After that I can sit back and relax until Jodie turns up (if she does). Even then I doubt it will involve much more than sitting down relaxing. Still, only a few more days and I an get back to work and get a little more exercise in and consume less food (at least until I get home from work in the evening). Maybe I might even survive this extended holiday and make it through to my goal of staying alive until my next birthday in June (by which time I will definitely have lived longer than my dad's 52 years).
Friday 28th December 2007
11:27 GMT
 The sky is grey and overcast this morning. It looks as if it will be a bit of a gloomy day, but so far it does not appear to have rained. It does look like there could be some rain later though. Yesterday was quite similar. It was grey for virtualy all the day, and towards the end of the day it did get a bit windy. I have not yet been outside so I am not sure if it is windy today. It doesn't seem to be from what I can see outside at the moment.

 I concluded my experiment of installing Mandriva 2006 on what I shall now refer to as my test PC. When I finished with it I had a good installation that would do most of the things I would have hoped for it. It did feel a little slow in operation compared to Kubuntu or PCLinuxOS 2007. A bit of careful pruning, and stopping some redundant, or unwanted, processes did help to speed it up a bit, but I am not sure if that sppeded it up as much as it should have been able to do. At some point in the future I may do some timed tests to see which is the fastest linux distro, but that will only happen if I am suitably bored one day.

 On my last spare 10 GB hard disk I tried to install 10.1. That failed immediately because for some bizzare reason it took my LCD monitor out of range, and all I could see was the message from the monitor telling me the input was out of range on a black background. I am sure if I had a CRT monitor connected it would have worked OK. So abandoning Suse I tried . That too failed, although this time it was because the CD I had burned quite some time back had become partially unreadable. So I moved on to Linspire. Linspire is actually a commercial distribution. Under the terms of the various Linux licences they can't actually sell the software, but you have to subscribe to use their one click software repository. Of course there are ways around that, but as yet I have not bothered. Linspire installed, and worked OK, but I am currently downloading a fresh version of Freespire (which as the name may imply, is a free, community supported, version of Linspire, which in turn was originally called Lindows until Micro$shaft threatened to sue them for using a name that the terminally mentally retarded, when drunk, might possibly be confused with Windows in the same way that the words horse and brick are often confused). At some point today I will probably attempt to install Freespire 2.0.8 and see how that runs.

 One surprising thing happened last night. I got a call from Kevin to see if I was interested in having a drink at about 8.30 pm. Having been almost, but not quite, teetotal for a week (or was it a fortnight ?) I agreed, and we met in The Ram for a couple of pints of Winter Warmer. After that we adjourned to the London and Rye (the Catford Wetherspoons pub) to try some of their winter/seasonal ales.I suspected it was going to turn into a long night, and it did ! We rolled out of there at a little after midnight, and I drunkenly staggered home having thoroughly enjoyed myself. I paid for it this morning when I woke up after having only four or five hours of sleep with a terrible hangover. At one point I did wonder if I was going to lose yesterdays dinner out of the wrong end, but after a while that feeling went away. After feeding the cats, I went back to bed and eventually fell asleep, and didn't wake up until 11 am.

 As I write this it has just gone midday, and to my great surprise we have just had a few minutes of sunshine peeping out from between the dark grey clouds. It is now probably time I got washed and dressed. I have things to do, and some of those things are some preparations for Aleemah's to visit tomorrow. Among them is the question of my blown up vacuum cleaner. Within a few hours I may be able to answer the question of whether it is fixable, or I go out to Tesco, armed with about 40 to buy a new one. I still feel a bit hungover even now, so anything I do do today will not be done in a rush !
Thursday 27th December 2007
08:49 GMT
 It seems very damp with lots of grey clouds in the sky this morning. I think it probably rained overnight judging by the puddles I can see. This is rather different from yesterday which was a rather fine day with blues skies and lots of weak wintry sunshine. Despite the sunshine being weak and watery it did warm the air up a bit, and it felt pleasantly mild outside. I doubt the air temperature got into double figures, but the lack of any wind helped to make it feel warmer than it really was.

 I spent much of yesterday morning playing with one of my spare PCs (specifically the one with the 450 MHz Pentium III processor, and it's collection of different hard disks). The day before I was experimenting with Caldera Open Linux, but in the end, although it worked, and worked well, I was not too happy with it. Being so old it was hard to add any modern software to it (particularly Firefox) without encountering all sorts of problems (). So I moved on to Mandrake Linux 9.2. This installed OK and worked well, but I became a little over enthusiastic in removing unwanted packages (applications, etc.). I am sure I was not helped by some dodgy scripting in the package manager. In attempting to remove a lot of superfluous bits and pieces the package manager decided to remove a lot of , and the package manager itself ! With no package manager it was rather difficult to use the package manager to restore itself. In a desperate attempt to fix the problem I tried upgrading to * 2006 (the new name for Mandrake Linux). The upgrade went well, but it did not cure my problem. So I have just this morning installed Mandriva 2006 from scratch. I will try and be a bit more careful with my pruning this time !

* Note: 2016 - Mandriva may not have a working web page any more. This new link provides some info and further links.

 It wasn't until almost midday that I finally washed and dressed. I then went out on my scavenging hunt. It seemed very pleasant outside, but in the end I did not go far. I walked a large figure of eight around some of the local roads, checking in all the usual places stuff gets dumped. All I saw was a PC monitor in someone's front garden, but I have spare monitors and that one didn't interest me. The last bit of my route took me to the high street. I wasn't expecting to find anything there, but I did fancy calling in at the 99p shop if they were open. They were open and I got some more catfood, and a big jar of rather tasty pickled bell peppers.

 I tried a few of those peppers and that got my mouth watering. I had not eaten anything else up to that point yesterday, and decided it was time for lunch. I have been attempting to reduce the amount I eat lately, and that is a little difficult when I am at home. The answer is to try and make sure what I do eat is not too bad for me. With this in mind I cooked up a virtually fat free chicken and leek curry. I haven't cooked anything like this since I was on a diet some years ago now, and it wasn't bad. It was rather a big meal though, but being virtually fat free (any fat coming from the fried onions that were in the ready made curry sauce), and being sugar free, it should have been sort of healthy. If I had stopped there for the rest of the day, or maybe just nibbled on some fruit, I would be able to claim that I had eaten very healthily, but later on in the evening "the nibbles" overcame me and by the time I went to bed I had also eaten a couple of packets of crisps and some Tesco "value" chocolate chip cookies.  Maybe I'll do better today, although I may well be going shopping in Tesco later on...............
Wednesday 26th December 2007
09:44 GMT
I was surprside to wake up and find the sun was shining this morning.I haven't seen a weather forecast for several days now, but when I spoke to Aleemah yesterday she said that it would be raining again today. There is a fair amount of thin broken cloud in the sky. So maybe that will thicken later on, and it will rain again. Yesterday was pretty miserable. It rained for a lot of the time, and when it wasn't raining the sky was dark grey.

 Yesterday passed without incident. I started off eating very lightly. In fact I had fruit for breakfast, but as the day wore on I gradually consumed more and more food. The positive view of that is that there is now less unhealthy/high calorie food in the house. Many of the goodies that I bought in the run up to xmas have now gone, and today I may well do a little better at avoiding stuff that is too tempting to ignore, and yet is stuff I would prefer not to eat. It is even possible that I will do a little exercise today. That exercise will only be a a short walk around a few of the favourite places where stuff gets dumped. There could be some slightly sodden goodies to acquire, although with all the rain yesterday maybe no one went out to dump anything. I believe that in some circles this is known as "dumpster diving", but there are no dumpsters around here. Instead there are a few quiet corners where stuff is just quietly dumped in the middle of the night.

 There were many things I thought I might do yesterday, and I don't think I did any of them. I passed some time reading some ancient (1959 !) comics. In an obscure corner of the internet I found some scans of a couple of Batman, and a Superman comic. These were from an era when I used to read those comics. Maybe not quite 1959 editions, but probably not that much later. When I was at Primary school (aged between 7 and 11) there used to be a little shop that sold sweets, individual cigarettes (for the slightly older boys), and comics. Most, if not all, the comics were second hand, and maybe they were aquired from American soldiers serving over here. I'll probably never know where they came from, but I do remember that there were stacks of them from all different years. There never was a current edition. You just looked through the piles and took out anything you hadn't seen before. There were all sorts, but it was definitely the Batman and Superman comics I loved to read. So it was a bit of a nostalgia trip to see three of these old comics even if they were reproduced on a computer screen instead of real live paper.

 Another thing that took up a fair time was experimenting with Linux distributions. I have a computer here that uses a crappy motherboard, a 450 MHz Pentium III processor, and has 256 Mb of ram. Mounted in the machine (at the moment) is a 10 GB hard disk with Windows on it. That is currently disconnected, and hanging outside the machine is another 10 GB hard disk. In fact it has had several 10 GB hard disks hanging outside it. On one of these disks is a fully working installation of Kubuntu. On another is 2007. I had previously tried to install that some time ago, but something went wrong. Yesterday afternoon I had another go at installing it, and it worked perfectly. I then spent a fair bit of time customising the installation to perfection. With that done I disconnected that drive and connected up yet another 10 Gb hard disk that I intended to have another go at installing . I had tried Fedora 8 on this PC before, but the installation went totally wrong. For one thing it wanted to install the boot loader onto a removable Syquest drive - which is not bootable ! Having got a nice new version of Fedora 8 on a magazine cover disk I thought I would try that instead of the version I downloaded. Once again it was a total disaster. I was up until almost 3 am this morning trying to get the installation to work. I don't think I like Fedora 8, although it may well be fine on a PC with different "innards".

 This morning I am trying something new. I am installing on the hard disk that I previously tried Fedora 8 on. This is from a magazine cover disk dated June 2000. So my harware is roughly the right age for it. Linux was pretty primitive then, or at least as a desktop system it was, but a quick trial installation proved that everything could work OK. There were a few problems, but now , armed with the fresh knowledge, I am trying it again for real, or I hope for real.

 Very soon I must get washed and dressed. Knowing I would have no visitors yesterday, I did not even bother to wash, and wore the same clothes as I had been wearing on Xmas eve. Today, because I intend to go out for a short walk, and it is possible I might bump into someone, or more likely visit the corner shop, I ought to have a proper shower, and put on some fresh clothes. What I do later today depends on if I find any "garbage" that I might "recycle". Mostly my day will be split between reading, computers and TV - so no change there then.
Tuesday 25th December 2007
06:36 GMT
(which seems to be quite a lot of you - sorry !)

This year we are one step closer to it being a white xmas. The one closer step is that it is precipitating, but instead of being frozen, the water is falling as water. Yes, it's raining ! It doesn't make for much of a sparkling sort of day, but it has good points and bad points. The good point, and there is only one, is that it has meant that it is a little warmer than it otherwise could have been. The bad points are that it is going to be a gloomy day, and also it means that any PC's (or potentially other interesting stuff) that are dumped today will get rather wet. I have this theory that among the presents that will be received in the neighbourhood will be new computers, and that some old computers will be abandoned on the street. I had thought that I might go out scavenging tomorrow morning and see if I can find my first 1 GHz, or over, "free" computer. So far the best I have found on the street was a 500 MHz PC, and from a skip at work, a 700 MHz computer. It was as far back as last summer that I was predicting that I ought to be finding stuff in the 1 GHz range, but so far that has not happened. I was hoping I might get lucky tomorrow.

 Yesterday was mostly overcast, but like I assume today will be, almost mild (although that is mild, almost cold rather than mild, almost warm). I cannot recall the sun shining at any time, although it did get fairly bright during the day.

 I was fairly lazy after my visit to Tesco early yesterday morning. I thought it might be unfair on the neighbours to start hoovering very early in the morning (any excuse !!), and so I just did a bit of tidying up between reading some of the magazines I had bought last Saturday. I finally got around to the hoovering some time after 10 am, and maybe nearer 11 am. Before I used the hoover I checked the bag inside. I thought it might need changing, and I was right. It was worse than that though, the bag I had put in some time ago was not meant for my model, and had a few significant diferences. My previous attempt at using one of these bags had been 100% successful, but that success had obviously made me careless. Most of the fluff and muck had ended up outside the bag. So I cleaned all that out as best I could, and fitted the correct bag from a packet I had bought after I realised that the last lot were wrong. I hoovered the front room and the downstairs hallway, and then I hoovered my bedroom, and started on the upstairs hallway. As I got to the top landing a load of smoke, accompanied by a bad smell, belched out of the hoover. I switched off immediately and concluded that my hoovering was over for the day.

 The smoke that came out of the hoover did not smell like burning motors in my experience. I think that it was caused by fluff and other muck getting into the fan motor. The sound of the motor did not appear to change as the smoke billowed out, and I am wondering if the motor may have survived. I will not be buying a new hoover until I have conducted a post mortem on the old one. I think there is still a chance that it could be repairable, and that is one task I ought to tackle during my days off work.

 It could be argued that it was good timing when my hoover "exploded". Very soon afterwards I got a phone call from Aleemah saying she was at London Bridge and would be in Catford in about 25 minutes (my weekly travelcard ran out on Sunday and we had agreed that I need not buy a ticket to meet her at London Bridge as usual. In fact she had suggested it). That gave me about ten minutes to try and air the hall and staircase to reduce the smell of the exploding hoover before going out to the station to meet her.

 Our first stop would normally be the pie and mash shop where Aleemah likes to get some lunch in, but the pie and mash shop was closed. At first I thought we were just too early. It was only about 11.45, and for some silly reason I thought that they may not open until midday. Considering that a lot of their trade comes from doing breakfasts it was a particularly stupid idea of mine. A closer examination showed a note posted on the window, partially obscured by the shutters, saying they would not be open at all over xmas, although it did not specifically mention xmas eve. So we went to the Centre Cafe in the Catford Centre and Aleemah had lunch there. I just opted for a diet coke because I had already eaten a couple of packets of crisp for breakfast, and eaten far too much the previous night.

 After eating we walked back home passing Tesco's on the way. Once again the place was heaving and people were packed in tighter than on a commuter train. I am very glad we did not have to go in there at that time. Aleemah had brought a DVD of the film "The Thirteenth Floor" with her and we watched that. It was quite enjoyable, but I did guess what the outcome was going to be some time before the end. Later on we watched a documentary about the science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. That was sort of interesting too. All too soon it was time for Aleemah to make her way back to North London. I saw her off on the train at Catford Bridge, and went back home to do something about the increasing hunger pains I was feeling. I hadn't eaten all day, and food was most definitely on my mind. I ended up eating rather more than I had intended. After watching some TV I went to bed to do some reading. I guess I probably turned out the light, and may have been asleep by 10 pm.

 I woke up again at some time after 2.30 am this morning. This time it was not my shoulder that was aching, but my head. The fresh air and the little bit of exercise from walking about yesterday had totally cured my stiff shoulder. I don't think it was the headache that woke me up, but the need for a pee, or maybe something now unknown. So I went downstairs and took a couple of aspirin, and while I waited for them to work I turned on the PC down there and checked my email and did a bit of web surfing. I had one email to reply to. So I wrote, and sent that off, before getting back into bed sometime near 4 am. I then slept until Smudge woke me up saying that it was past breakfast time, and where was her breakfast ! This would have been about 6.30 am. I think I need to go back to sleep soon and try and get in at least a few more hours sleep. It seems unlikely that I will be going for a lunchtime drink today. I was going to meet Kevin in The Ram, but he thinks he will be too busy. So in theory I could sleep until some time this afternoon, but I know I will probably get up again in a few hours time.
Monday 24th December 2007
08:00 GMT
Last night's fog completely lifted overnight, but the sky remained cloudy, and there is no frost this morning. It is not even exceptionally cold. The clouds seem quite patchy this morning, but I am not sure if the sun will come out later.  At the moment the sun is still far too low on the horizon to properly illuminate the sky so it is difficult to tell if the clouds I am seeing are at different levels, or whether blue sky will be visible between the lower clouds.

 I managed to get to Tesco's at 7 am this morning. It was quite easy because I was up stupidly early. I first got up at about 3 am because my left shoulder was very painful. This is a legacy from propping myself up in the corner of the settee to do a lot of reading. My back support was very uneven doing this, and a bit of a cool draught from the nearby window was probably playing on my partially unsupported shoulder. It is also a legacy of a lot of inactivity.  This is just none reason why these eleven days away from work are not such a good idea. With nothing to do, and few places to go, I can expect many more aches and pains before I return to work next year.

 I took a couple of pain killers and played on the computer downstairs with the heater on full blast. After about 90 minutes I went back to bed and slept very uneasily until my alarm woke me at 5.30 am. I had plenty of time to change the sheets on my bed before having a hot shower, and then getting dressed. With the heater on in my bedroom I felt quite hot by the time I was dressed and ready to go out. It was (briefly) fairly nice to go out into the cool air. I reached Tesco's a few minutes before they had even opened the doors. When I got inside I found a lot of the shelves stripped bare by the ravening hordes who had been in there yesterday, but I still managed to buy everything I wanted. I am now fully provisioned until, and maybe beyond, boxing day. I'll still be going there on the day after boxing day to see if there are any bargains to be had. I could probably buy xmas decorations at half price, but I won't. I am more interested in things like special packs of booze, or other stuff packaged specially for xmas that is often available for half price.

 When I got back from Tesco I felt very hot again. Lugging four very heavy carrier bags full of stuff does warm me up a bit, and I was still hot from the bed making, hot shower, and bedroom heater when I got to Tesco. So I have come up to the front bedroom to write this. There is no heating in here at the moment, and at last I am beginning to feel cool. In fact I am beginning to feel cold. So maybe it is time to do some hoovering and empty the cat litter tray before Aleemah comes here in about five hours time. That ought to be long enough for a bit of cleaning, and a sit down too. I might even be able to grab a nap. Fortunately the pain killers, the heat, and that little bit of exercise have reduced the pain in my shoulder down to just a mild annoyance.
Sunday 23rd December 2007
19:05 GMT
 Just one word sums up today's weather - FOG ! Since first light there has been fog (or maybe mist - I never was sure what the dividing line between to two were). Visibility has remained fairly constant all day at around a few hundred metres. I suppose it is warmer than usual, but only by a degree or two, and no wind has helped that, but it is damp out, very damp.

 Yesterday the weather was cold and damp, but there was no significant mist, nor was there any rain. I thought it would be a rather pleasant day after a rather glorious red and gold sunset on Friday night (or was it last night - I can't seem to remember !). Despite it feeling damp the day was fairly bright, although I cannot recall any significant sunshine.

 I had a text message from Aleemah yesterday morning. She apologised that she would not be over because she was feeling unwell. She felt better during the afternoon and we had a long chat together. We arranged that she will visit me tomorrow to exchange Xmas gifts, and to watch a mystery DVD together.

 With no visitors I should have got productive and done something useful, and in a very minor way I did. I went out and did two lots of shopping. The first time out was to the 99p shop, and WH Smith's. The 99p shop was quite quiet by Saturday standards, and uncannily so being so close to xmas. I found out the reason a little while after spending 25 on assorted magazines in WH Smith's. On the way home I passed by Tesco's. The walls were beginning to crack and pure oxygen had to be piped in to support the 25,000,000,000 customers who had managed to get inside. The back of the queues at the checkouts started somewhere in Bulgaria. I didn't fancy doing any shopping in there yesterday ! My second shopping outing was the Kentucky Fried Chicken where I bought an unfeasible amount of chicken and chips that did me for lunch, dinner, and supper. I then spent almost the rest of the day either reading magazines or surfing for porn (human porn, computer porn, electronics porn, railway porn, and any other porn that seemed to take my fancy - porn being apparently all there is on the internet according to some).

 Now it was my intention to get to sleep early so I could get up nice and early, and get ready to be knocking on Tesco's front door when the opened at 10 am this morning. Except it didn't happen like that. I just woke up very early , about 5 am, fed the cats, checked through all my spam e-mail (apparently I really do need viagra !), checked out a few favourite web sites, and then went back to bed again. I woke up again at 9.45 am. It was far too late to get washed and dressed and out to Tesco by 10 am, so I didn't bother. I spent the next few hours just lazing around, mainly reading, and researching some linux stuff on the internet. At 3.30 pm I thought I would take a chance on the crowds having thinned out a bit in Tesco (being as the close at 4 pm on a Sunday). I was mainly wrong. The place was still packed, but the queue at the cigarette counter was surprisingly short. So I stocked up on fags, and stopped off at the local off licence for a couple of bottles of Diet Coke (Tesco diet cola being one of the important things I wanted from Tesco). I also bough a couple of probably crappy DVD's from their "two for 5" box.

Tesco's is opening at 7 am tomorrow morning. So tonight I really do have to try and get to sleep early so I can get there when they open. Although I have an assortment of food in the house, it would be damn handy to stock up on just a few more things, or it will be tinned hot dog sausages for xmas dinner (although I may well stick to tradition and order a gigantic Indian takeaway tomorrow night, and have reheated curry for dinner). It is now a quarter to 8 pm and I do feel tired already. So getting to sleep should be easy. It should be, but maybe it will not. The damp weather, and a lot of sitting around has left me with a few unwanted aches and pains. My left shoulder feels rather stiff at the moment, and all the crap unhealthy food I have eaten recently has left my liver (or something) aching.

 It is curious that the only medication I am being offered at the moment is Viagra. Once upon a time I got very little spam in my inbox. Maybe it is pure coincidence, but it feels like ever since I bought a couple of things from I have been deluged in spam. Every second spam email is offering viagra, and most of the other spam seems to be split between fake Rolex watches, and "pump and dump" share offerings. Sooner or later these spam emails should dry up because I never actually read the messages in the normal way. For the benefit of anyone who does not understand why I do this I shall explain. Many of the messages contain coded links for pictures that are sourced from an external web site.  These codes uniquely identify you as a recipient, and then the spammers know they have sent spam to a valid email address. Using Thunderbird, the email client, you can highlight the message with one mouse click, and then use the edit menu to view the message source (or something similar for Outlook Express users). The message source opens a plain text box that shows all details of the message, including exactly where it came from. No contact is made with external web sites using this method, and the spammers have no idea if the message was ever read. Eventually, although it could take years, the spammers drop your e-mail from their lists - or so the theory goes. People who use web mail services, Hotmail, Yahoo, etc, are not so lucky. They can either let the web mail provider attempt to detect the spam with variable results (including mis-detecting valid email as spam, and automatically deleting it), or they have to delete it themselves if they believe it to be spam. Some webmail providers do block, or have the facility to block, images in emails, and so opening the spam email could be safe, but I prefer my method.

 It has taken nearly an hour to write this. In that time I have noticed that the fog is definitely lifting. If we are left with clear skies it could mean a thick white frost in the morning - just fine for waiting for Tesco's to open in the morning darkness !

Late breaking news.....
LINUX PCs now available from TESCO !!! (here and here)
Friday 21st December 2007
19:39 GMT
 I may not have much time to write anything tomorrow, so I thought I would write something tonight. I want to continue, and expand the rant I started this morning.

Brothels : they will always exist no matter what the government or the "won't somebody think of the children" evangelists try to do. I have never been to a brothel, nor do I think I want to visit one, although I am always curious about what goes on behind closed doors. So maybe I would like to visit one, but not to use their services. I definitely think they should exist, and do so legally. I have been considering some of the reasons that people are against them. I think we can discount the loonies who think that women should not enjoy, or be in control of sex, and are not qualified to judge the use of their own bodies. These people are not worthy of consideration.  Then we are left with the nimbys. People who say "not in my backyard". Why do these people say that ? Some want to protect "innocent" children from the horrors of an in built biological urge. Presumably the idea of a brothel in the neighbourhood would indelibly corrupt these children in the way that other dens of vice (pubs, betting shops, curry houses, gyms, football stadiums etc) don't. Then there are those who think it would bring great disruption to the neighbourhood with queues of rampant men trailing around the corner in the same way that pubs get mile long queues of drinkers waiting for opening time. In fact brothels should be just like pubs, or even better in pubs. All the bars in wild west movies had an upstairs brothel, and that seems to be the ideal place for them.

 What I find truly amazing is that the government have not latched on to the money making possibilities of legal brothels. Somewhere out there on the cold streets of London, or in seedy massage parlours, is a whole army of workers not paying income tax, and they are not going away because the workers need their income, and they have a never ending supply of customers. I suppose the government thinks it would lose votes by doing the sensible thing, buit would it ? This current government, and probably all it's predecessors, have done all sorts of things to enrage the voters, but still they cling to power and every year increase their totalitarian grip on society. Maybe the big problem is that they don't realise that no new legislation is required, just the repeal of a few old bits of legislation. The health and safety militia already has enough powers in the health and safety at work acts to make sure that the workers in the brothels work in a safe environment, and their bosses can be hung drawn and quartered if one of them so much as snags a fingernail. Perhaps the members of parliament have some sort of grievance with prostitutes and they do not want them to work safely. Well I guess they do have some sort of grievance - they don't pay income tax, and hence the MP's cannot draw so much wages, and the prostitutes probably charge them too much with the threat of blackmail if they do not pay up. It would be enough to make any man bitter and twisted, but members of parliament even more so.

 I was forwarded some interesting facts this morning. I have no idea of how truthful this really is, but to me it sounds highly plausible. Stand by for a bit of copy and paste.....

Can you imagine working for a company that has a little more than 600 employees and has the following statistics?

 29 have been accused of spouse abuse

7 have been arrested for fraud

19 have been accused of writing bad cheques

117 have directly or indirectly bankrupted at least 2 businesses

3 have done time for assault

71 cannot get a credit card due to bad credit

4 have been arrested on drug-related charges

8 have been arrested for shoplifting

21 are currently defendants in lawsuits

84 have been arrested for drink driving in the last year

Which organisation is this?

It's the 635 members of the House of Commons
This is the same group that cranks out hundreds of new laws each year designed to keep the rest of us in line!

I am indebted to Iain for supplying these most probable facts.
Friday 21st December 2007
06:56 GMT
 I was expecting another frosty morning, but it must have clouded over last night, and the temperature has stayed above freezing. There were still isolated pockets of yesterday's frost hanging around in the shadows that survived until well into the afternoon, but I think that had all melted by the time I left work to go home. It seems like today it will be grey and cloudy, but I don't think it will rain. This is all in total contrast to what is happening in Canada. I was left the following comment (using the comments link on the left hand side of this page) bu Mike who lives in Canada :-
Bill,well we had a total of 20 inches of snow and to add insult to injury we got another 6 inches last night.the weather is too warm upon the weekend rain for a few days.O by the way I get 2 days off christmas and boxing day.Hey Bill just think what your place could look like with an 11 day cleaning binge....well have a pint for me ...mike

I managed to leave work in time to get the early train home last night. Before getting home I bought my fags from Tesco, and bought some other stuff from the 99p store on the high street. A lot of the stuff in the 99p store is rubbish, but some things are a bargain. Recently they had cigarette lighters with a built in blue LED torch selling for less than the price of a blue LED at any electronic wholesalers I know of, and they do some pretty good cat food. (They also do some really appalling cat food !).

 When I finally got indoors, and after feeding the cats, I cooked myself up a rather tasty liver, onion and peas dinner.  I haven't had any liver for ages, and it was really nice. Once my dinner had settled a bit I put up my Xmas tree. I originally bought that tree back in about 1987, and although there quite a few years when I didn't bother with putting it up, it has served me well since then. Even better, or maybe even more miraculous, is that the Xmas tree lights I bought as early as Xmas 1983 (the first year I moved into this house) have still only needed one replacement lamp in all that time. This year, as most years, they have worked first time out of the box. I have no idea why they should be this robust, but I reckon they were a very good buy. I seem to recall they cost about about 1, and came from Woolworth's in the days when Catford had a Woolworth's on the high street.

 With the Xmas tree up, and decorated, I went to bed. I was in bed by 9 pm, and asleep very soon after that. I slept well until about 1.30 am this morning. Then I had one of those annoying times when your mind suddenly become active, and you can't get back to sleep again. I laid awake thinking about a news story I had read. It seems that a member of our beloved government is continuing the tradition of sticking ones head up ones bottom and pretending the real world does not exist any more. In this particular case it is MP Harriet Harman who wants to outlaw paying for sex. I assume she actually means paying for sex with real money, because most men pay for sex in one way or another - visits to expensive restaurants, holidays, even marriage ! Apparently the idea is that it will stop human trafficking in the sex trade. This is already illegal, and so are brothels. So how is this new law supposed to change anything ! If the government know where all these brothels are that use sex slaves (of the real kind as opposed to the kinky kind) why don't they shut them down using existing laws ? If they don't know where they are, how will new laws help ? When will governments ever learn that the more you drive something underground, the worse it gets for the people who suffer by it, and the harder it is for anyone to do anything about it. There are things that humans have always done, and always will do. Amongst these are sex and drugs. By trying to impose draconian laws on them it just makes it impossible, or at least tricky, for any one who actaully needs some sort of help to get it.  As with drugs, so it should be with brothels - legalise them both and bring them into the open where useful, and intelligent controls can be brought on them. They will always be there no matter how far politicians stick their heads up their own backsides.
Thursday 20th December 2007
08:18 GMT
 Clears skies last night have lead to the temperature dropping as low as -4 C, or that was what I overheard someone on the train say. It certainly is cold this morning. There is a thick white frost outside, and I would not be surprised if some of it, where it is sheltered from any direct sunlight, may stay all day. There is also a mist this morning. It is not at ground level, but floating a few tens of feet up in the air. That is blocking any sunshine, but the sun should break through later this morning (I hope).

 After my late start to work yesterday I made up my time by going home late. I managed to time it to arrive at Waterloo with a few spare minutes to grab a fag, and then catch the 17:41 train (which used to be the 17:39 before the timetable changed on the 9th of this month). I do like this train. It is the one that runs non stop from Waterloo East to Ladywell, and the stop after Ladywell is Catford Bridge - where I get off. It is a bit of a shame that it doesn't quite do what it is advertised to do. According to the platform information, and the information on the front of the train, it is described as fast to Ladywell. Well, for some of the time it does go fast, but it also slows down a fair bit, and can get caught at signals and come to a complete stop. If it could truly run fast it could get me back to Catford in about 10 minutes, or maybe less. It is timed to get to Catford Bridge at 17:59 - a journey time of 18 minutes. The train I prefer to get, the 16:29, takes 20 minutes to get to Catford Bridge, and that stops at both London Bridge, and Lewisham stations.

 When I arrived at Catford Bridge I made a split second decision that I would go home via Tesco. Having got there I totally forgot to buy some fags, and it was to get some fags that made me decide to go to Tesco in the first place. Other stuff could have waited, but it was useful to get in some advanced supplies of stuff that I may well need when the shops are unavailable - either closed or just too jam packed to get into (or out of if you do get in !) So now I have one slightly used bag of cat litter, and one unused. Twelve cans of catfood (but I'll still need more of those) and an assortment of biscuits and nibbles. What I don't appear to have bought much of is proper food. I have a good selection of canned food, and a freezer that it very full, but doesn't seem to have much in it (well there's only so much you can do with large bags of frozen peas and sprouts !). Ideally I should be making some vegetable extravaganzas to use up a load of half used bags of assorted frozen vegetables. Then I could get in some other varieties of stuff like meats and fish.

 The main thing I did when I got home last night was to watch the final two parts of James Burke's "Connections". It was a good series, fascinating in some ways, but with hindsight it was not actually the series I wanted to watch. I am sure James Burke did another series that was, at least in part, studio based. I haven't got a clue what it was called, or whether it is available somewhere, but I will do some research soon. Some simple research shows that there were three series of "Connections", but I wonder if the series I really wanted to see was called "The Day The Universe Changed", although "The Burke Special" is also a strong contender.

 Tonight I should be leaving work on time, and I really must go and buy those fags in Tesco tonight. I am not totally sure what I am doing tonight yet. One thing I will not be doing is going to the old radio pirates drink in Barming (Kent) . It would be nice to see many of my old mates, but at around the time it just gets into full swing I will already be heading for bed. Plus, to a lesser extent, I don't always feel terribly sociable at this time of the year. Big gatherings can often leave me bored at the best of times, but when I am tired (because my body tells me I should only be awake during the hours of daylight), it does get worse.

 Tomorrow is the winter solstice. One thing I am confused about is does this mean it is the shortest day, or the longest night. If it is the longest night, is it tonight, or tomorrow night ? Assuming it is the day with the shortest hours of daylight, does this mean that both tonight, and tomorrow night are equally the longest nights of the year. I am sure a competent astronomer could answer these questions easily, but to me they remain a mystery. Anyway, happy Yuletide.
Wednesday 19th December 2007
09:20 GMT
 I needed to wash my hair this morning, and I had a bit of a stomach ache, so I did not leave to catch my train until 7.45 pm. It was the 07:56 train that I caught. By that time it was light, and that made for a far more pleasant journey, or perhaps a potentially more pleasant journey. In practice I had to stand all the way from Catford Bridge to Waterloo East, and that was not that pleasant due to the return of a slight amount of back ache. There was a hint of a frost when I left home, but now the sun is out. It is still a bit cloudy, but the clouds are well broken, and the forecast is for a fair amount of cold wintry sunshine today.

 I have been reconsidering what "Charles Dickens" said in his comment to me. On thinking about it, and in particular, checking my bank balance this morning I have concluded that maybe it is a blessing that for eleven days I will see very few people, and it is highly unlikely that I will be going out anywhere. My bank balance is still in the black, but I will need to be quite frugal to keep it that way by the end of the month. Before "Charles Dickens", or anyone else suggests it, I do not have a credit card, and have no intention of borrowing money by any other means to fuel false revelry. Just call me Mr Scrooge ! Bah, humbug indeed !!
Tuesday 18th December 2007
08:15 GMT
 This morning there is hardly any wind, and that means the close-to-freezing air temperature does not feeling so bitingly cold as yesterday. It is very cloudy this morning, but it is dry and there is no rain forecast for today. In fact I think some sunny intervals may have been forecast, although at this time it seems highly unlikely in this gloom. Yesterday seemed like a very cold day. the wind, although not very strong, was enough to force the cold air into every nook and cranny. During the afternoon it really did look like it could have snowed. It was certainly cold enough, and the sky took on that strange look, almost tinged with green, that suggests snow. however there was no snow, no sleet, nor even any rain.

 One thing that contributed to a warmer journey into work was that both my trains, and the bus I caught, all had the heating on. In fact the train from Catford Bridge to Waterloo East was possibly a little too warm. Going home last night I found that the bus I caught to Clapham Junction station had no, or very little, heating on, and the train from Clapham Junction was heated, but one window would not shut properly and that left a bit of a cold draught blowing about the place. My train from Waterloo East did have the heating on, and it was pleasantly warm all the way back to Catford.

 This morning my train was actually on time at Catford Bridge, and because it was not so crowded it managed to make normal progress without the driver struggling to close the doors at each station. I think that a lot of people are now starting to go away for Xmas (or maybe are just skiving off work). Even the roads around Wandsworth, traditionally always very busy in the rush hour(s), seemed to be a lot quieter than usual.

 I managed to get my early train from Waterloo East last night. Although it is timed to be two minutes earlier in the new winter timetable there has been one change that makes life a little easier when it comes to catching it. Instead of it departing from platform A, it now departs from platform C. Platform C is a few seconds closer to reach from Waterloo mainline station, and it also has one other great advantage. It is an island platform, and the other half is platform B. Platform B is the platform with the gents toilets on it (the ladies is on platform C). So if I need to have a pee, pass wind, or even worse, on the way home I don't have to do the wearying dash under the subway to get from platform B to platform A. That in itself can save a minute or two, and is enough to save me from a train ride with my legs crossed, or buttocks clenched, on such occasions as the need arises. Last night was one such case. Although not desperate, I stopped for a wee and enjoyed my ride home more than if I had not been able to do that. (If riding in a smelly, almost, but not quite, crowded railway carriage can be called enjoyable).

 So I got home early last night, but took very little advantage of it. On the whole it was couch potato time. I sat in front of the TV watching a DVD, because live TV has very little to offer even with a Freeview box and cable TV, and did little else. That little else was to write a couple of emails. By 8.30 pm I went to bed and finished off a book I had been reading. I did not pay any attention to the time after that, but I am sure I was fast asleep by 9.25 pm (and quite possibly by 9 pm). That means that I managed a full eight hours sleep. I did not wake until 5.25 am, just beating my alarm clock by five minutes. I wonder if I feel better for a full eight hours sleep. It's too early to tell, but if I don't fall asleep while reading some stuff on the internet, like I did yesterday afternoon, then I will be able to say it was good for me.

 It seems I have ruffled a few feathers by suggesting that I could very easily be bored stiff for a lot of the eleven days I have off over Xmas ;-
Name:Charles Dickens
Eleven days off and he is still fucking moaning. Count your blessings not your woes. Give from your heart and you will get it back in abundance.

 Well Mr Charles Dickens, except for the word fucking, sounds a bit like a Christian in his choice of words, but obviously not of the puritan variety. A puritan would applaud my suffering over a boring Xmas holiday. I would consider becoming one myself, but apart from loving boredom and general suffering, they also do that terrible praying and stuff. For now though I will stand up for my rights to be a moaning old git. I am over 50 years of age and I am now licensed to moan ! So I re-iterate. One day off work is great, It is a change and a chance to recover from anything that had gone on previously. Two days off work allows you to do something on day one and recover on day two. Three days off work and I begin to wonder what I am going to do on the third day. Seven days off work... well even God got bored shitless on day seven and put his feet up. As for eleven days.... what the fuck I am going to do with eleven days - eat myself stupid ????

If you would like to comment on this, or anything else I have written, I have revived the comments link that takes to a commenting web page (thanks to the generosity of Iain). It is up in the left hand side of this page. Just click on comments, and I get an e-mail with your comments. Whether I copy and paste it here is purely my decision, and if I get around to it it - so there !
Monday 17th December 2007
08:08 GMT
 The temperature this morning, according to the thing outside the Arndale Centre* in Wandsworth is a mere 2 C. So it looks as if we avoided a frost by a mere two degrees, but that is no excuse for both the trains I travelled to work on having no heating on ! It was dark when  left home, and with the amount of cloud cover, it is almost still dark now. Although to be fair, there is now just about enough daylight to read by.

(* The Arndale Centre is now called "Southside". A name that conjures up the image of some violent gang battleground in New York. Quite appropriate really.)

 The sun did shine for some time yesterday, but as we are now very close to the shortest day of the year, it did not feel like it shone for very long. I think the sunshine did raise the temperature a bit, and it may have just managed double figures. This was rather a contrast to a report from a friend of mine in Canada where he was being deluged in thick snow - at least 10 cm (or was that inches ?) at the last report, and the same amount forecast to fall on top of that.

 I had a quiet sort of day yesterday. After a visit to Tesco at precisely 10 am, when they open on a Sunday, timed to get ahead of the seasonal crush, I did very little. In some ways it was a repeat of Saturday. One difference was that I managed to curtail my appetite - a bit. I couldn't actually say I ate sensibly or healthily, but it was not as bad as Saturday. In theory I should have felt healthier this morning, and in some minor ways I might have done, but the legacy of two days of sitting around meant that I felt very stiff when I first walked out the house. The cold trains did little to help those stiff limbs, but gradually I "thawed out", and things are working better now.

 Just five more days of work, including this one, and I am away from work for eleven days non stop. I think I am only looking forward to every second day of that. It is great being able to get up, potter around, and then go back to bed if I still feel tired. It is also great to be able to go out shopping in daylight, and choose a time when the shops are less crowded, but doing it two days in a row gets boring. It needs the tedium of having to go to work to make a day off seem worthwhile. As usual, I think Xmas is going to be mostly boring.
Sunday 16th December 2007
08:37 GMT
 I think the sky was fairly clear overnight, but surprisingly there does not appear to be any frost. Last night's sunset was very red, and that means we should get good weather for today. The sun is still below my visible horizon as I write, but the sky looks clear, and it should not be long before the sun shines down. Yesterday's gloomy skies seemed to be little more than a very heavy mist high up in the sky. By the afternoon it evaporated and for a little while the sun broke through. It was too late in the day though. It seemed disappointingly too soon that the sun began to set just as there was a chance of the sun beginning to warm the day up. If the sun does appear soon, and the day remains clear, then there is a slight chance that the temperature could rise to double figures - just !

 Nothing of any great significance happened yesterday. I spent some time watching documentaries on the TV, and some time listening to an audio book. The book was very good, but I did find that I had a tendency to doze off as I lay back to listen to it. I may be forced to buy a paper copy of it sometime.

 One thing I may do today is to dismantle my new laptop and see if I can spot any clues as to why the power management system is not working. In an ideal world I will spot a dry joint and be able to repair the problem today, but I fear that a more realistic prognosis is that I may be able to identify the chip that does the controlling and then not be able to find a replacement. Even if I can find a replacement it will be a bastard replacing it because it will be a tiny, fine pitched little device. I would almost ceratinly have to do it at work where I do have a barely sufficient bench magnifying glass to aid me in my squinting.
Saturday 15th December 2007
08:01 GMT
 It is terribly gloomy outside this morning. Maybe when the sun rises some more things will improve, but right now it looks as if it could snow. It won't snow of course, it is not really cold enough, but the sky has that sort of look to it.  I am not exactly sure what the outside temperature is, but I am reasonably sure it is in single figures. So maybe any rain that may well fall today could potentially fall as sleet.

 I haven't written too much here for the last couple of day, or to be more accurate I have not written anything at all ! I have had too many early morning distractions, and couldn't be bothered later in the day.  My plan now is to go to Tesco before it gets insanely crowded, and when I come back I will write some more. Stay tuned !
Saturday 15th December 2007
09:23 GMT
 I am now back from shopping in Tesco's. I managed to get in, and out again before the really insane crowding took place. Xmas has it's pros and cons, and shopping at this time of the year is definitely one of the cons. On the way back I noticed that the roads have been recently salted. It didn't look fresh enough for it to have been done overnight. So I assume that it was done for the couple of really frosty mornings we had recently, and in particular, Thursday when the frost stayed all day. The other, although very less likely, is that snow really is forecast for today. The sun should be well up now, but still the sky hangs heavy and grey.

 Wednesday night was a good night, an exceptionally good night in fact. As is usually the case on a Wednesday night, I met Kevin for a drink. We also had the pleasure of Iain in the pub too. Now normally I would only stay until about 9 pm, but with no work in the morning I was going to stay until around 10 pm. 10 pm approached and I announced that I would finish my last drink ( a Jack Daniels and coke) and make my way home. However I was persuaded to accompany Kevin and Iain over to the Wetherspoons pub for "one" more (not that I really needed that much persuading). I lost track of what I had drank towards the end of the night, but I think that "one" drink was at least one pint of ale, and one, or more, shorts. We stayed in the pub until "throwing out time", which was a little while after midnight. I decided that some dinner would go down well (not really having eaten since the morning), and went into the local kebab shop for a salmonella special (chicken kebab with chilli sauce). I then made my way home thanking several local deities on the way for the dark alley I visited just behind one of the high street shops. Upon arriving home I set about eating the kebab, which was now cooling off and starting to get greasy, and tried to watch a DVD. While I was eating my concentration was OK, but as soon as I finished I lost any sense of concentration and gave up and went to bed.

 I awoke at 5.30 am on Thursday morning with a bit of a thick head. So I fed the cats, tried to drink a fair bit of diet cola, surfed the net for a little while, and then went back to bed where I slept for a few more hours. When I finally got up again I think I spent quite a lot of time trying to work out if I could dual boot Mac OS X and Kubuntu Linux on my new laptop. I had assumed, rather naively, that Kubuntu would see the OS X partition, and add it to it's boot menu. Unfortunately it didn't. By the time I had come to the conclusion that I was wasting my time it was time to go out again. This meant a bus ride into Forest Hill to have a lunchtime drink with Ivor and Iain, and a bit later on, Kevin. We had a pleasant drink in The Railway Telegraph until Ivor announced that he really ought to be going home. I had not intended to get wildly drunk in the afternoon and took advantage of a lift from Ivor. Kevin and Iain stayed in the pub, but did say they too would be leaving after their current drinks. Whether they did or not I have yet to find out.

 Later that afternoon I watched my DVD again. I was quite surprised as to how little of it I remembered from Wednesday night/early Thursday morning. I didn't do anything significant for the rest of the evening. My time being basically used up with watching TV, eating, and fiddling with the laptop.

 Friday was a day of rest - almost. I want shopping about mid morning and was surprsised that Tesco should have been so busy at that time. I bought my New Scientist, and a load of sandwiches/snacks and gorged myself while reading. Although I had thought that I might go out and do some more shopping I found myself so stuffed that it would have been actually painful to walk very far. So I just stayed in and pottered around.

 Today may well be a little like yesterday. I am not seeing Aleemah today so I will be having some breakfast very soon. I will try and stuff myself a little less that yesterday, but I doubt if I will want to go out for the rest of the day. Breakfast really kills me like that. It is possible that I could manage to get out for a beer tonight, but it is highly unlikely to happen, and even then I would need four or five hours notice to stop me eating anything further until the drinking is over. I have several documentaries to watch, and I still have eight or nine unread books that Aleemah gave me. So I reckon today I will be soaking up that old multimedia experience (I don't see why paperware can't be considered multimedia - it's what ever happens in the brain that counts).
Wednesday 12th December 2007
06:56 GMT
 It's bloody cold this morning ! After clear skies overnight, the temperature has dropped to below zero, and there is a thick white frost. Today should be similar to yesterday. There could be some mist about, but when that clears I hope we will see some sunshine. Despite any sunshine, the temperature is forecast to only go up to about 5 C.

 I was cold when I got in last night, and I got in very late. I left work a little late and then arrived at Waterloo East station too late to catch even the 16:55 train (unless I rushed like a mad man - which I couldn't be bothered to do). I caught the 17:17 train, and then came home via Tesco. I finally got indoors close to 6 pm feeling cold and tired. This prompted me to cook a huge hot dinner. I looked around the fridge and decided that it would be a good time to use up a few bits and pieces, and I ended up with a huge fry up. It was very nice, but it has left me feeling a bit horrible this morning. I feel sort of stodgy, and I think I will have to visit the toilet once more before I go to catch the 07:30 train.

 I didn't really do much last night, but tonight there brings the possibility of some boozing. I have the day off work tomorrow so I can stay a bit later in the pub. I doubt I will stay to 11 pm, but maybe 10 pm before I come home, have some dinner, and then go to bed. Tomorrow morning will be glorious. I will be able to get the place warmed up before I wash my hair, which I am desperate to do. It is very yucky at the moment, but I am not going out into the frosty air with wet hair today !
Tuesday 11th December 2007
08:29 GMT
 The forecast of clear skies overnight was correct, and this morning there is a frost. It is not quite as thick as it could have been, but maybe there was not enough moisture in the air to form a really thick coating. As I left home this morning I could see a definite glow in the clear sky of the western horizon. By now I was hoping that glow would turn into sunshine, but it seems to have got misty, and it is still fairly dull outside.

 Once again, my train was late arriving at Catford Bridge station, and was even later arriving at Waterloo East station. The driver of the train confirmed, several times, that the service was now running as an eight car train instead of a ten car train. Towards the front of the train people were crammed in like sardines. In consequence the driver was having real difficulty closing the doors. So at each station we were delayed more and more. The driver was really good with his announcements telling us what was going on, and strongly suggested that we put in official letters of complaint about the overcrowding, and subsequent delays. He even suggested that the short train was not the result of any shortage of rolling stock, and that sufficient complaints would result in the reinstatement of a ten car train. My journey into work was further delayed by the 07:37 train from Waterloo (mainline) station being cancelled. I had only just missed the 07:33, and had to wait until the 07:45 train. It was obviously not a long wait, and in fact it gave me time to have a fag mid journey. So I guess every cloud has a silver lining.

 I was quite amazed that the extra memory I had ordered for my laptop on Sunday afternoon was actually delivered here, at work, yesterday. I fitted the memory into the laptop soon after I got home, and noticed an immediate improvement. It was not just quicker, but it seemed to correct a very minor problem where some warning/advice windows were popping up off centre on the screen. In fact the shutdown dialogue was half off the screen and the shutdown button could not be actuated with the mouse.Fortunately the already highlighted button responded to Enter on the keyboard. All that messing about stopped once I had increased the memory, and I would say now that Apple's OS X is now working just about perfectly on the laptop. There is still one more thing that would make it a little better, and that is if the wireless network card was recognised. I am not sure if I will ever be able to get that working, but for an experiment where I was not sure if anything would work, I am very pleased with the result. I assume, and I may well test it tonight, that the installation of Kubuntu that I have on the other hard disk will also run with extra smoothness now it has over 1 GB of memory to play with. In fact I am expecting it to be really quite fast. The ultimate experiment, and one that I will probably do in the new year when I hope to have enough spare cash to buy a bigger hard drive, will be to see if I can get a triple boot system working where I can select OS X, Kubuntu, or Windows. In theory it might work, but I'll just have to see. Before that it would be useful to try and sort out the power management system that stops the laptop working if the battery is installed. If I can fix that, and get it triple booting, then I will be well and truly happy (for five minutes !) .
Monday 10th December 2007
08:33 GMT
 There was a fair amount or rain overnight judging from the size of the puddles when I left home for work. It was raining fairly lightly shortly before I left, but for most of my commute into work the rain held off. The heavy clouds meant that it was almost still dark when I arrived here in Wandsworth, and now, some 30 minutes later, it is still exceptionally gloomy outside.  The forecast suggests that it will brighten up this afternoon, and that most of tomorrow will be sunny.

 It was the first day of the new winter railway timetable today. My normal train has been retimed from 07:56 to 07:54. However the new timetable got off to a flying start with my train finally arriving at 07:59, some five minutes late. That meant that we had lost our slot, and got further delayed as we made our way towards London. We arrived at Waterloo East at least eight minutes later than normal, and I got to Waterloo mainline station just a little too late for the 07:33 train that I would normally catch. Fortunately the next train is just four minutes later at 07:37, and my journey into work was not delayed by any serious amount. One other factor affecting my journey into work was that the train from Catford Bridge got more crowded than usual. I am not sure if it was a shorter train, but I do know that we picked up more passengers at Lewisham station instead of losing them when they change to the Docklands Light Railway. I think more people got on at New Cross too. That is also a place where a few people used to get off. Maybe this was all due to the train being shorter than usual. people do choose their position on the train to suit where they get off (near certain exits etc.). If the train was the wrong length we may have seen passengers get on who would normally get into a different carriage, and those who would often get off at intermediate stations may have been getting off from different carriages too. You think that a shorter train would affect where everyone got on the train, but you have to remember that at some stations, like Lewisham, all length trains stop at the same point because the main exit is at the front of the train. At other stations, where the main exit is in the middle of the platform, there are designated stopping points along the platform for different length trains. It is all terribly complicated, and just one of the weird things, probably unique to the South Eastern rail network.

 I had a very informative dream last night. It was definite proof of a split personality. I was at Victoria railway station trying to move across the concourse amongst the crowds. The crowds became so thick that I got deflected from where I wanted to go, and virtually pushed onto one of the platforms I didn't want. Now the very weird thing was that I both experienced the pushing and shoving, and witnessed it as well. I watched myself being deflected as well as actually experiencing it. This split personality certainly explains the voices I hear in my head from time to time......"you need a bigger hard drive"..."why not get more RAM" ....."kill all the humans"......."The robots will prevail"........."They ARE out to get you"......
Sunday 9th December 2007
13:35 GMT
 Today is a wet, miserable sort of day. It is very like yesterday when it rained for a great deal of the day, and I can't recall a single ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds. One subtle change today is that I think the sun did break through the clouds for a few seconds, but it was only literally seconds ! I think today maybe be slightly warmer than yesterday, perhaps by half a degree, and the wind seems lighter as well.

 I had a very pleasant day with Aleemah yesterday. We watched the film Blade Runner, which was pretty good. I seem to have got into the bad habit of not seeing her back to London Bridge station when she goes home in the evening. The roots of it go back to when the smoking ban was introduced. This made me less keen on travelling at any time, and rather less keen on occasions like accompanying Aleemah back to London Bridge when it means a lot of hanging around on the station, by myself, doing nothing but waiting for the next train going back to where I had just come from. Then when I was ill it provided the perfect excuse to not go all that way with her. Since the evening have become so dark I am even less inclined to go with her. Last night was no exception. I did offer to go with her if she wanted me to, but she said that she was perfectly happy to travel by herself, and so once again I was "off the hook".

 After Aleemah had gone home I decided to continue my experiments with my new laptop. I decided I couldn't wait to get a new hard drive, and made the decision to wipe out the hard drive with Windows XP on it, and try and see if I really could install Mac OS X on it. It turns out that I could. Everthing installed OK except I could not get the built in wireless network card to be recognised. Then I made a big mistake. I allowed a system update to take place. This overwrote all the special hacks to allow operation on non-Apple hardware and rendered the installation useless.

 Starting this morning I did a fresh installation, and this time I turned off automatic updates. Everything is working fine again now (although I still have not got the wireless card working). I am using it right now to write this, but I have identified one problem. It is the same problem I had with the iMac before I increased the amount of RAM in it - very slow typing. In fact I am going to order some RAM right now !
Saturday 8th December 2007
07:53 GMT
 After fairly clear skies overnight, it is very cold this morning. It doesn't appear to have been cold enough for a frost, but it feels like it was within a few degrees of one. The forecast for today is for heavy rain, so I guess it will cloud over fairly soon.  I have to admit that saying that the sky is clear at the moment may not be strictly accurate. The sun is still below the horizon at the moment, and there is not enough light to tell if the sky is actually clear or whether it is just light grey cloud from one horizon to the other (or as much as I can see of it through this window).

 Yesterdays strong, but warm, winds died down during the morning, and by the afternoon they had changed direction bringing in cold air. As I left work, and headed to the bus stop, there was a bus that I could have caught, but decided that I didn't want to run for it as it would waste the fag I was smoking, and besides which there seemed to be a lot of aggravation with the local schoolkids happening on it. I was still some 20 - 30ft away from the bus and I could see these rowdy schoolkids jumping on and off the bus. As I got a little closer the driver suddenly shut the door and drove off. That did not worry me. There are two bus routes I can take to Clapham Junction station. One is a double decker bus, route 156. The other is a single decker bus, route 39. The single decker bus is usually faster, and it stops at a bus stop that is before the station. The traffic is often slow going past the station, and being able to get off a few hundred yards earlier can save a few critical minutes. Usually the 39 is very frequent, and I expected one along after the 156 within a few minutes, but last night I waited ages for it to arrive. The wait was as much as fifteen minutes, but seemed longer because the wind felt bitingly cold.

 I was due to meet Aleemah at 4.30 pm outside her office some five minutes walk from Victoria station, but I did not arrive at Clapham Junction station unto about 4.20 pm. I then headed for platform 12 where I thought I would just make the next train to Victoria station, but I missed it by seconds. The next train would have been a few minutes later from platform 14. That would have meant a walk down under the subway to change platforms, and I doubt I would have got there in time to catch the next train. So I had to wait until 4.34 pm for the next train from platform 12.

 I ended up meeting Aleemah about twenty minutes late, but I had kept her informed of my progress and she was OK about it. The main reason to meet her was to collect some books that her office was throwing out. Originally she said that there were four books, but upon meeting her I discovered she had eight books for me - two fairly heavy carrier bags full ! I had one more "thrill" in store when we boarded a "bendy bus" to Waterloo station. I had never been on one of these buses before. Some say they are good, but I was not impressed. For a start, once you are deep inside it seems impossible to see out to see where you are going, and secondly it did not catch fire as bendy buses are supposed to !

 Upon our arrival at Waterloo we went into the Hole In The Wall pub. I had pretty much guessed that even relatively early on a Friday night it would be busy, and it was. Initially we could not find a seat until we invetigated the beer garden (although courtyard would be a better description than garden). Out there we found seating space, and they had one of those huge propane heaters to take the chill off the air - and of course you can smoke out there !!! We only had one drink there before heading into Waterloo station so that we could find somehwere for Aleemah to eat (I decided to wait until I got home to eat). Aleemah chose "Bonapartes cafe-bar". Their food was apparently OK, but it is most definitely not the place to go for a drink. Most of the beer dispensers were dry, and I ended up with a bottle of Becks for an outrageous 3.20 for a 330ml bottle (I think you probably pay less than that for a six pack in Tesco). After I finished that I went to investigate the bar for myself (Aleemah went to the bar the first time so she could oversee the ordering of her food). Apparently the tap dispensing Becks "vier" did have beer in it, and so I ordered a 3.20 pint of that. It was pretty horrible, and I left the last half pint when we left, and vowed never to visit Bonapartes again !

 We left that terrible place and Aleemah headed off down to the Jubilee line platforms for her tube home, and I went over the link for my train form Waterloo East station. We had timed our exit to allow a bit of spare time before the next train back to Catford (Aleemah's Jubilee line trains are every few minutes, while mine were at 20 minute intervals). I had time for a desperately needed pee before getting on my train (Bonapartes does not have any toilets - which is possibly illegal in a place selling food, although they are next door to the 20p a go public toilets).

 I arrived home starving hungry (and really needing another pee). I was so hungry that I ordered a "kebab of death" to be delivered. Fortunately my wallet had not been bled totally dry by the extortionate prices in Bonapartes. While I was waiting for that to be delivered I conducted an experiment. I tried an installation disk that I had acquired to install onto standard Intel or AMD powered computers. On all my other PC's it had failed right at the beginning, but on my new laptop It went all the way through to the bit where you set up the partitions on the hard disk. I stopped it at that point because I did not want to overwrite my very succesful Kubuntu installation. One day I will get a spare hard disk and try it for real.

 After stuffing my face with kebab I read one of the books (actually more like a big pamphlet) that Aleemah had given me. It was all about the lesson learned from the failure of the Beagle 2 Mars lander experiment (and is downloadable here). It was a fascinating read, although littered with abbreviations that often needed to be checked in the appendix at the back of the report. The rest of the books will have to wait for a rainy day to be read (although we are getting plenty of those !).

 Today I am meeting Aleemah at London Bridge, and then we are coming back here to watch the film Blade Runner ( and do some eating as well). So I really ought to get myself washed and dressed so I can start on clearing the place up a bit.

 One thing I have been meaning to do here is to show a picture that has been doing the rounds in emails (thanks Bob).
Now 25 million
                        records  With the disks containing the lost government data still not found I guess the picture is still topical.
More info here, and here (essential reading !), and check out the related links at the bottom of each page.
Friday 7th December 2007
08:16 GMT
 The main weather feature this morning is strong winds. The wind was very strong overnight too. When I first left the house there was some fine rain, but the wind was so strong that it just blew it all away. Since arriving in Wandsworth it feels like the wind has dropped a bit, and a lot of the sky is a nice pleasant blue. Later on this afternoon it is forecast to rain again. Yesterday's weather was just plain dull and wet. I don't think it rained all the time, but it was certainly grey all day.

 I never made it in to work yesterday. I had a bit of an upset stomach, and couldn't face commuting in such circumstances. Had I been feeling really keen I could have made it into work very late, but I had another distraction. On Wednesday I received my new laptop computer. It is rather nice, although it does have a fault on it. It is an Acer Travelmate 290 which has a 1.3 GHz mobile Celeron processor, a DVD reader/CD burner, 256 MB ram, and a 40 GB hard drive. The fault may be in the laptop, or it may be a fault with the battery. As yet I cannot ascertain which it is. The symptoms are that it will not power on with the battery inserted. There is a lot of communication between the computer itself and the battery, and either could be signalling some sort of fault condition. My first steps in resolving where the fault lies will be to try and find someone else with an Acer laptop to try my battery in their machine. This particular battery is used in hundreds of different Acer models, so practically anybody who has an Acer laptop could try it for me. One small clue that it may not be the battery is that when I was given the laptop the battery did have some charge in it, and it would work the laptop. I suspect that it may have been charged in another machine. In which case it is the laptop itself that must be faulty, but I want to confirm this before diving into uncharted waters.

 I didn't hear from anybody about drinking on Wednesday night until about 7.40 pm, some ten minutes after we would normally meet up. By that time I had already put some dinner on to cook, and was deep into installing Kubuntu Linux on the laptop. So I didn't go for a beer. Installing Kubuntu with only 256 MB of memory was a very slow process, and it was made even worse by the DVD drive probably having trouble reading the installation disk (possibly another, although minor, fault with the laptop). Things picked up a lot once I had managed to partition a spare 20 GB hard disk, and ger a working swap partition on it. I ended up using the pre-release version of Kubuntu "Gutsy Gibbon" which is a CD. that installed remarkably simply, and worked a treat - even down to the WiFi network connection (although I am only using simple WEP security on my WiFi point). I am very pleased with how well it all works. It is the first time I have used (and possibly even seen) Linux on a laptop, and found that everything just worked "out of the tin", although I have since customised lots of bits of it to suit my personal preferences.

 Tonight I had hoped I might see Patricia, but two things stand in the way of this. Firstly she has lost her mobile phone so I cannot easily arrange a meeting, and secondly Aleemah has some more books for me that she wants me to collect after work. One of the pair of books she gave me last time is a good read, and maybe the other will be too. So there is a good chance that tonights books will be good as well.
Wednesday 5th December 2007
08:05 GMT
 It is a foul morning. It is dark, gloomy and raining. The only positive aspect is that it is unseasonally mild. I paid attention to the weather forecasts on TV last night, and the forecast overnight temperature was up in double figures (just). I suppose if I wanted to be optimistic I could add that the rain is not as heavy as those forecasts suggested it might be. Maybe the really torrential downpours will happen later, although there are supposed to be a few sunny intervals this morning, before the rain falls heavily again at about home time ! It was dry going home last night, although a little windy. It was also very mild. I first noticed how mild it was when I got off the train at Catford Bridge. The wind was both cooling, and yet seemed to be carrying some warmth with it. I guess that was the big contradiction. Without the wind it would be cold, but with the wind it was mild, and yet the wind was just carrying any accumulated heat away. It is, of course, that same wind blowing from the south west, from more equatorial regions of the Atlantic Ocean, that is carrying the heat and the moisture that is now falling on us as rain.

 I was looking forward to getting home last night to consume huge portions of a stew I made from Sunday's left over roast on Monday night. I thought it would be realy excellent because it was beef stew and I added a whole pint of strong beer to it. That should have given it a nice yeasty taste, but sadly the beer was too hoppy and just gave it a bitter taste. I was really disappointed about that, and ended up throwing most of it away. Luckily I had called into Tesco on my way home, and had bought more than just the fags I wanted. So I ate a bit of this and a bit of that, and finished up quite stuffed. One item that I ate was some rye bread. I was sort of persuaded to buy some by my German workmate who often has it, and just the other day was declaring how nice it is. Bread was not traditionally made with rye flour in this country because of the dangers from the spores of the Ergot fungus which cause all sorts of nasties if ingested. However the Germans, who traditionally are good chemists, maybe recognised that the fungus contains a precursor to LSD, and were, in actuality, a bunch of wild hippies in the middle ages. Anyway, the rye bread was actually quite nice in a chewy sort of way. I don't think I'll be adding it to my normal repertoire of shopping, but now and then it will make an interesting change.

 Apart from eating, nothing much happened last night. I was in bed just after 9 pm, and fast asleep very soon after that. I awoke at 4 am this morning, and didn't really manage to get to sleep again. After one visit to the toilet for a pee I realised there was going to be more to it than that, and had to get out of bed again. So I got up, fed the cats, and played with the internet until it was time to shower and go to work. I suspect I  am going to feel a bit tired this afternoon after getting up so early. Hopefully I will find the energy if there is any drinking to be done tonight, but I know I'll be wanting to get home from the pub quite early. A few pints of Winter warmer should give me a good nights sleep, and I am aiming to not wake up until 5 am tomorrow morning.
Tuesday 4th December 2007
06:56 GMT
 It is dry this morning, but apart from saying it is rather cool, I can't add any more to that. The forecast is for a very dull grey day with more rain, and winds. It will be another 30 minutes, at least, before I can see what is happening in the sky. Yesterday did have some sunny intervals, but overall it was a very cloudy day.

 Yesterday afternoon I checked the new timetables for my trains to and from work. The new timetables come into effect on the 9th of December, and first affect me on Monday the 10th of December. I can't say I am happy about the changes, small though they may be. The one big irritating change is that the 16:31 from Waterloo East to Catford Bridge (and ultimately, Hayes) has been retimed to 16:29. I struggle to get the 16:31 so making the train just two minutes earlier could well have a big impact on the time I get home from work. It would not be so bad if the next train had also been brought forward, ideally by at least ten minutes, but it remains at the same time of 16:55. SouthEastern say that one of the reasons for changing the times is to try and get a more regular timetable throughout the day. This is obviously why my preffered morning train has been retimed from 06:56 to 06:54, and the 07:54 has been retimed to 07:56 ! soon after that the trains settle down to xx:00, xx:15, xx:30, and xx:45, and then once the rush hour starts they are all over the place again.

 My "loose brain" gave me very little trouble yesterday, and I don't think it will give much trouble today. I think it is even getting better, but it is still there. The only significant time I had a brief , five second, burst of verigo was after I had gone to bed. I got into bed with no problem, I turned to my left with no problem, then, getting bored with laying on my left I turned over. as soon as my right ear hit the pillow the "bottom of the bed fell away". For a few brief seconds it was like I was almost weightless, spinning in space. I guess you could learn to like it if you wanted to be an astronaut. I don't particularly like it, but I can almost override the effect by just knowing what is going on. I once read in some book, almost certainly some sci-fi novel, about first time astronauts, in the weightlessness of space, feeling bad because it was a sort of inheritance from our less evolved days when it was a danger signal that a monkey was falling out of a tree. I haven't explained that as elegantly as I read it, but what I read was in the form of dialogue between a novice spaceman and an old hand.

 It seems to have taken so long to write that last bit that I now will have to get the 07:54 train, and not the 07:30 train as I intended this morning. Well actually I intended to get the 06:56, but washing my hair seemed to delay me so much that it was pointless trying to rush for that train. It looks like I will have to stay late at work again, but at least it is not a Friday.

 One thing I have just remembered is about toilet rolls. On Monday of last week I mentioned that I urgently wanted to go to Tesco after work because I had just started on my last toilet roll. I also said that I did expect that roll to last a fair time, but I was worried about having an accident with it, like it falling into a wet bath and going all soggy. To complete the story I can reveal that the toilet roll survived unscathed, and finished last Sunday night. So there was little reason to panic in reality, but then again you never know........

 Tonighyts panic is to pop into Tesco on the way home to buy some fags. Now this is a more tangible panic. I am now smoking my last pack, and I have serious doubts as to whether the remains of that pack will last the day. I was going to go to Tesco last night, but being a Monday I just wanted to rush home. I think the reason why I am finding these dark evenings so depressing this year is that I still have not made the transition from BST to GMT. I realised this morning that I am still waking up at 4.30 am most mornings, and that is equivalent to 5.30 am BST - the time I set my alarm to get up to.
Monday 3rd December 2007
08:58 GMT
 This morning has started out fairly bright and sunny. The forecast suggests there will be sunny intervals all day, but rain will return tomorrow. Just after I finished writing yesterday the rain started. Shortly before I was going to go to Tesco the rain became torrential for a few minutes. When I actually left the rain had dwindled down to a light shower. I think it had mostly stopped by the time I had finished shopping and staggered home with five very heavy bags of shopping.

 My experiment with aspirin yesterday, was inconclusive. It didn't make the dizzy spells any better or worse. So I have concluded that it is definitely an inner ear problem. I did make some further observations about the effect though. The very worst effect is when either lying down, or getting up from lying down. If I turn my head to the right, and then lay down quite fast, the dizzy, vertigo, feeling is quite pronounced, but if I keep my head straight the effect is quite minor. If  lay down gently then there is no affect at all provided I keep my head straight. It is similar getting up again. One time when I woke up in the night I forgot what I was doing and sat bolt upright very quickly while swinging my head around to the left to turn on the light and glance at the clock. That produced a very strong wave of dizzyness, but as usual it only lasted five or ten seconds. One possibility is that my brain has come loose in my head, or there is a stray not or bolt in there, but I can't rule out cancer, aneurysms, ebola, gangrene, brainacitus, polonium poisoning, or senile dementia as the cause. It is getting no worse, and possibly even getting better, or I may just be modifying my behaviour to take account of it, so I'll continue to ignore it until such time as something disastrous happens.
Sunday 2nd December 2007
08:21 GMT
 This morning seems to be very gloomy. Maybe it will brighten up a bit later, but I fear not. I wouldn't be surprised if it were to rain later today. Yesterday remained fairly sunny until maybe early afternoon. From then on it clouded over, but I don't think we ever got any more then a light sprinkle of rain at one point. I didn't see the rain, but I did notice that it looked as if there were a few odd splashes of water outside. Yesterday's sunshine, although very nice to see, did not generate any warmth. My front porch usually traps the heat of the sun, but a rather cold wind just blew any heat away.

 I had a rather relaxed day yesterday. The only major breakthrough I made was to wash, and disinfect the floor around Nelly's litter tray (and the litter tray itself). I have to confess that it was the first time in ages that I have done that, and that it has made the house, or at least the back of the house downstairs, smell a bit sweeter. Doing that, and a load of washing, was actually my only major contribution to doing all the housework that I thought I might do. I didn't even go out to do any shopping.

 It's hard to tell where all the time went yesterday. Several hours can probably be accounted for in giving telephone support for computer problems. I did try and watch a film called "The Astro Zombies", but it was a really bad film (but actress Tura Satana was rather interesting !). The film itself was a sort of cross between a slasher movie, and a mad scientist sci-fi film. Maybe with a few beers, and perhaps a couple of mates, it could have been more entertaining, but I realised I was falling asleep as the end of the first hour approached. So I put the film on indefinite pause, and had a nap.

 Another diversion yesterday was reading a book about satellites. It was called Something New Under The Sun by Helen Gavaghan, and was a present from Aleemah. So far I have read the quite long preface, and the first two chapters, and it is an interesting read. One criticism of the book, although without reading further this may not be valid, is that it seems totally US/USSR centric. I have a dark feeling that Britains only 100% British launch vehicle, and satellite, will not get a mention. That satellite was called Prospero X-3 and it was launched by a Black Arrow launch vehicle on the 28th October 1971.

 My feelings of dizzyness continue this morning, but only in very specialised circumstances. It is when I get out of bed that the momentary feeling of vertigo happens, and I think it is worse after I have been sleeping on my right hand side. I still think it is an inner ear problems, but I have been reminded that a blood pressure problem could also cause this. So I have started an experiment. A little while ago I took a coule of aspirins. These should lower my blood pressure. So if the problem is caused by low blood pressure it will get worse, maybe to the point of blacking out, or if it is caused by high blood pressure it should cure the problem to a greater or lesser extent. Nothing seems to have happened so far, but it is probably a little too early for any change in my blood pressure to take effect. My original idea is that I would go back to bed and try and sleep for a bit, but with 10 am, and the opening of Tesco, approaching, I will get washed and dressed soon to take advantage of Tesco being reasonably uncrowded for the first 30 minutes of opening.

 I am not sure what else I am going to do today. I suspect that more reading will take up a fair amount of time, but I may do a little more of the housework that I meant to do yesterday.
Saturday 1st December 2007
09:00 GMT
I am rather stunned to find that this first day of December has started off bright and sunny. From where I am sitting the sky looks to be 100% blue. This is a complete contrast to last night when it was pouring with rain. That rain seemed to continue through the night, and the wind was getting quite strong. I am sure the forecast for today was for continuing rain. Maybe that was wrong, or maybe I'll just have to enjoy the sun while it lasts.

 Yesterday was not a good day. Firstly I did not get my hoped for laptop. It is still very possible that I will get it sometime during the next week, but I was hoping to be able to play with it this weekend. Secondly I heard from Aleemah that she doubted she would be able to see me today. In anticipation of getting the laptop, and for several other reasons, I suggested we make today a definite no, and try and meet up at least once during the week. The worst thing was that having got to work an hour late I stayed an hour late to make up my time. On any other day of the week it is not nice, but on a Friday night it's pretty horrible having to stay late. To make things even worse I just missed a rather good train from Waterloo East station. The train I missed, the 17:39, is fast from Waterloo East to Ladywell station (the station before Catford Bridge). Of course fast actually means it doesn't stop at any stations, and not that it is quick ! It would have been a nice train to catch, but I had to wait nearly an extra 20 minutes for the 18:01 train, and by then the rain was bucketing down. I left the shelter of the station canopy a few moments before the train was due, and then got totally soaked because it was actually a few minutes late. I also topped up the soaking as I walked from Catford Bridge station to home. I arrived home dripping wet, and not too happy !

 It was around 6.30 pm when I got home and of course the first priority was to feed the poor starving cats. I was starving too, but I had the money for the laptop in my pocket, and I couldn't be bothered to cook. So I ordered a Japanese takeaway. Apart from the bento boxes I had not really tried any other Japanese food. So I ordered one of the set meals (for two !). The set meal was meat based rather than fish or vegetables, and I have to say I didn't rate it too highly. It was good in bits, but overall I would only give it a "fair". I didn't really do much for the rest of the evening. I watched a bit of TV, spent some time on the phone giving computer advice, and spent a fair bit of time on my computer. Although it was not much it seemed to keep me up until midnight. That is very late for me, even for a weekend, and I was soon asleep.

 Despite going to sleep so late I still woke up early at around 4.30 am. So I fed the cats, wrote a long and detailed e-mail, and explored the internet before going back to bed almost two hours later. I didn't get any really good sleep then, and I am only awake now because I got bored of waking up every 30 minutes or so, and then having to try and get back to sleep. I expect I may be taking a few naps during the course of the day.

 My "dizzyness" seems to be continuing (I still can't think of a better word than dizzyness even though it does not adequately describe the sensation I feel). Most of the time it is totally ignorable, but while tossing and turning in bed this morning it was quite apparent everytime I turned my head from side to side. I suspect it is a problem with the in just one ear. If it was both I probably would lose my sense of balance, but with just one operating out of sync with the other, my brain is still receiving good data from one ear, and I think the other soon catches up with the same data. Hopefully it will improve sooner or later, but for the time being it is more a mild annoyance than any sort of real problem.

 Today, with no Aleemah here, there are some tasks that I really ought to do, but also some leisure activities that unless I am concientious about the tasks that I should do, will end up getting priority. There are the usual household chores common to a Saturday morning, but I want to go a little further than normal. For instance I want to try and get all the washing up done instead of just sufficient, plus a little spare, for the day. Then I want to see if I can wash some of the kitchen floor. Maybe I'll do a little more intensive hoovering today. For leisure, I think I want to go out and buy a few magazines to catch up on my technical reading.

 I have added a couple of extra web pages to this site. Just to show what a geek I am, I have made a map of my internal computer network you can find it . The pages were made using , and then saved as web pages. They are a little different to most of my web pages.
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1st December 2007

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