Bill's diary page for January 2008
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Friday 29th February 2008
06:54 GMT
 At last, a sunny morning ! It is also cold. Almost, but not quite, cold enough for a frost, although some of the heavy condensation on the cars does look very close to being frost, and maybe earlier in the morning it was. The sunshine is not forecast to continue. By this afternoon it could well be cloudy again, and that might even bring a spot of rain.

 I had a very uneventful day yesterday. Nothing much happened at work, and nothing much happened in the evening. I popped into Tesco on the way home from work and bought the latest edition of New Scientist. Some of yesterday evening was just spent reading that.

 Tonight I may, or may not, be drinking with Kevin. I was supposed to be starting the drinking session with Dee, but she has had to cancel. I am still waiting to hear from Patricia to see if she is around. It's unlikely because it is her last day at work today, and she will probably be too busy with all that entails.
Thursday 28th February 2008
08:15 GMT
 It is overcast, but dry, this morning. It's not too cold either. Although "not too cold" should not be mistaken for it meaning anything like there being any hint of warmth. It is above freezing, but not by more than a few degrees. Some sunny breaks are forecast for this morning, but the complete cloud cover is expected to be back this afternoon - or maybe not. If today is like yesterday we can expect the sunny spells to last into the afternoon.

 I never did write anything yesterday. Which was strange considering I was at home on one days holiday. I was obviously too busy doing other stuff. Amongst that stuff was playing with my old Pentium III computer. After trying a multitude of things I came to the conclusion that it was impossible for the onboard sound card and the ethernet card to play together. In theory they used different IRQ and memory setting, but would still interfere with each other. I decided, rightly or wrongly (quite possibly wrongly) that there was a fault on the motherboard. That motherboard has always been quirky, but running Linux on it has always been mostly successful. It is more likely that Windows NT4 (even with service pack 6) just can't do plug and play properly.

 Having decided that the motherboard was the root of all evil I decided to try an alternative motherboard I had spare. This one worked - sort of ! I successfully installed Windows NT4 but it ran at a snails pace. I am pretty certain this was because the new motherboard does not support the Pentium III processor. I need to flash the BIOS if I can find the correct software, and rom image to do so. Alternately I could fit a Pentium II processor back in the board and see how that fares. Finally I could put the old motherboard back in and just leave the machine quite happily running Mepis Lite Linux on it's own !

 Tonight I really ought to make a positive decision about that old PC. My back room is gradually becoming more cluttered as I pull bits out of the PC and put alternative parts in, and also leave piles of CD roms all over the place. Maybe the best thing would be to dump the whole thing, along with a load more obsolete parts, into the wheelie bin, but that would make me sad !
Tuesday 26th February 2008
06:52 GMT
 More rain has appeared. It is very dull and cloudy outside. This means that it is warmer than yesteday, but it is hard to choose which is best. While it is nice not being frozen on the way to work, it is also rather cheering to travle in bright sunshine. One other feature of the weather for today is the wind. It doesn't seem too bad right now, but strong winds are forecast for today.

 After yesterday's bright start the clouds gradually moved in. It didn't rain, and it didn't get very grey, but going home was far less pleasant than going to work. I met Aleemah after work, and we came back to Catford to spend some time together. We arrived too late to get some dinner in the pie and mash shop. Instead we bought some fish and chips. That was a fairly rare treat for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We only had small portions of fish and I was surprised that the two portions only cost £5 together. I must be out of touch because I was expecting it to cost a few more quids than that.

 Aleemah stayed to about 8 pm and I walked her to the station. By the time I got back it was almost time for bed, but I stayed up a bit before taking a magazine to bed. I read for a little longer than I should. So this morning I am just as tired as yesterday morning. I guess I got just under seven hours sleep, but I do prefer a full eight on the rare occasions when I manage that.

 As far as I know nothing is happening tonight. So maybe I will get to bed, and then to sleep, as early as I probably should. However I want to experiment with some different graphics cards in my experimental PC. If I am not careful I could end up playing far longer than I should, but I'll just have to see what happens.
Monday 25th February 2008
08:24 GMT
 Sometime during the night the clouds that brought the rain during the evening went away. This morning the sky is clear, and the sun is shining. It is also very cold. There was a fair bit of frost when I left home to come to work. That frost is disappearing fast, and if the sun can stay out until the afternoon it should warm up nicely. The forecast is for more cloud this afternoon, but that was the same forecast that said this mornings temperature would be 5° C !

 I didn't think I would have much to write about this morning, but Mike, in Canada, reminded me about a news story I read sometime last week (I think). It concerns some loony attached to our paranoid totalitarian government. He has proposed the ridiculous idea of a smoking licence said to cost between £10 and as high as £200 per year. We smokers are gradually reducing in numbers, but there are still enough of us that one day one of us will crack and make an assassination attempt on this idiot. It would be hard to feel sorry if this purveyor of state sponsored terrorism against innocent smokers was killed. Terrorising a reported 25% of the population (but more likely 10%) is a dream that Muslim, and other loony terrorists can only dream about. You can read the grisly details about the proposal in The Telegraph, The Metro, The Guardian,  Yahoo News, and no doubt many other places too.
Sunday 24th February 2008
18:45 GMT
 The weather has been very variable over the weekend. Saturday was mostly overcast, but it was not too cold. Today started bright and sunny. By 10 am it was warm enough for me to go shopping without putting a coat on. Perhaps saying it was warm is slightly misleading. It might be more accurate to say it was mild enough. I don't know what the highest temperature achieved today was, but it did feel mild enough for me to open a lot of windows and air the place for a few hours. Even now I have left the bathroom window open, but secured with a special lock that holds it open by about five inches. It is only since coming up to the front bedroom PC to write this that I notice that there has been some rain recently. I didn't notice that it was raining, but looking out the window I can see that the ground is all wet.

 The highlight of the last few days was definitely Patricia coming to dinner on Friday night.  My meal turned out exactly as I wanted it to, and Patricia gave it the thumbs up. One surprise is that Patricia turned up with a bottle of cider for us to drink. I can't remember the name of it now, but it was a special cider flavoured with blackberry liqueur. It was a small bottle, maybe only 330 ml, and enough for about half a pint each. The surprise was not the type of cider, but that Patricia decided to bring it at all. It is very rare that I see Patricia drink booze. Her new partner must be corrupting her.

 Patricia stayed a lot later than I had imagined she would, and she left a little while after 9 pm. During her visit we had a good gossip. I heard all the latest news about her parents, and her plans for her extended stay in Argentina looking after them as they both undergo treatment for cancer. One final plan we made before she left was that she would pop around today to leave a box of stuff she wants looking after while she is away. I finally had a text message at about 7 pm saying that she was too busy finishing some paperwork to come round today, but will probably see me later in the week.

 I thought I would be seeing Aleemah yesterday, but during the morning she phoned in sick. So I had to amuse myself for the day. My first thought was to go shopping in Tesco, and buy the latest New Scientist magazine to read, and get the usual supplies of cat stuff and human stuff in. However when I got to Tesco it was just one heaving mass of people. I couldn't face that so I bought my New Scientist from WH Smiths along with a couple of other magazines. I then popped next door to Poundstetcher's and bought some new sheets and a four way mains extension lead to use in my bedroom. I also bough a packet of apple flavour liquorice sticks (or twists). They were intriguing. I found they were bright green. Had the consistency of liquorice, but did indeed taste of apples !

 For the rest of Saturday I wasn't exactly lazy, but at the same time I didn't do that much. Using my new extension lead I tidied up the power cables for my bedroom PC, and I did a load of washing. I also did a little bit of tidying up here in the front bedroom to make way for the stuff that Patricia wants me to look after. In between times I did some reading, and also grabbed a snooze or two.

 Today, with little tidying up to do, and after finally doing my shopping in Tesco, I spent some time, well quite a lot really, playing with my old 450 MHz Pentium III computer. It is the same computer that I was trying all the different Linux distributions on a month or so ago. Since that last bit of intensive playing it had been sitting almost in the middle of the floor in a partial state of dismantlement, and I thought it was time I did something definite with it. I took it downstairs to use a CRT monitor that is a little more forgiving with strange screen resolutions than the LCD monitor I had been using with it, and decided that I would dual boot Windows NT4 and (linux). Compared to all the faffing around trying to install NT4 on my old laptop, the installation onto the desktop PC was as easy as pie. One difficulty that I have yet to resolve is that Windows NT4 does not really know what to make of an graphics card. Special drivers are needed for the motherboard chipset, but I cannot find any that will work with Windows NT4. In consequence my desktop is limited to a 16 colour 640x480 display. Apart from that limitation I have full sound and networking all up and running. I think the way to resolve the graphics problem is to use a graphics card (but at this moment in time I am not sure if there is a spare PCI slot available).

 Having got Windows NT 4 installed, and working as well as I could, I installed Mepis Lite. That was a simple and flawless process, and it was working well without having to resort to any tweaking. Of course I did spend some time tweaking it, and installing all the latest updates. The one single problem I have with it is that Firefox, the web browser, seems to crash a lot. Actually it is not really a crash, but more a sort of random shutdown as if I had clicked the exit button. I am not sure what is going on there, but several workarounds come to mind. The first is to re-install Firefox, and others mostly revolve around not using Firefox. For instance I could use the Konqueror web browser, or install Opera. These are matters for another day though. The more significant thing is that I have made a decision, and tidied things up.

 I think I am going to bed very early tonight. I still have quite a lot of stuff to read, and an hour in bed reading sounds fine to me. I think I am aiming to get to bed by 8 pm, and maybe turn out the light at 9 pm. I doubt that I will write anything tomorrow morning, but if I do it will probably only be a few short lines about the weather, and then in the evening I will be too busy because I am seeing Aleemah.
Friday 22nd February 2008
08:19 GMT
 It is a lot warmer this morning. The temperature could even be close to double figures. It comes at a price though. It is dull and gloomy outside, and the there is far more wind about. Last night there were a few very light showers as I made my way home, but even when I was caught in one it hardly wet me at all. More of these light showers are forecast for today, and the weather is forecast to stay very similar for the whole weekend.

 I managed to get the place looking reasonably last night. All the big and easy cleaning is done, but if I had more time I could have done some of the more fiddly tidying up. I am looking forward to cooking for Patricia tonight. I have decided on my special roast chicken thighs in grilled baby tomato sauce served with pasta and some salad. To accompany that I will do some garlic bread, and there will be Patricia's favourite "Muller Corners"  yoghurt for dessert.

 After doing my cleaning, and having my dinner (liver and bacon with mixed veg) I still had time to play with my laptop and fix the WiFi browsing problem. I took the easy way out by removing Kubuntu and installing PCLinuxOS 2007. That seemed to go well. All the bits of the laptop worked OK. I had sound, network and graphics all working correctly until I installed some programmes, and removed others while also updating all the updatable packages. Then it all went horribly wrong. Half way through loading the KDE desktop I got an error message saying that Kdeinit could not be found (or something similar). By that time I had run out of time and went to bed. Perhaps after Patricia has gone home tonight I may well look at it again, or I may put Kubuntu back. As another alternative I may try two other Linux distributions I have my eye on. One is Linux Mint, and the other is Vixta. I briefly tried the live CD version of Vixta on my work PC yesterday. It sort of looks nice, but I didn't get a chance to explore it thoroughly.
Thursday 21st February 2008
06:42 GMT
 There is no fog or mist this morning. It is slightly damp outside, but not raining. The sky is cloudy, but the clouds are not that thick, and it seems unlikely it will rain in the near future. It is even possible that the sun may break through sometime today. Something it did not manage yesterday. The sky did clear early in the evening last night, but it was too late for any sunshine. The moon looked big and bright though. At 3 am this morning there was a total lunar eclipse. I did wake up at 3 am, but forgot all about the eclipse and didn't bother looking to see what I could see.

 As planned, I was in The Catford Ram at 6 pm last night. There was no WiFi in there, well free Wifi, but there was still Winter Warmer available. So I had one pint of Winter Warmer before going to the Wetherspoon pub where beer is half the price of The Catford Ram. Unfortunately there was no WiFi in there either. We heard that some kid had been climbing up the back of the fruit machine, that houses the WiFi point, and pulled all the wires out ! I did manage to connect to BTopenzone, but that is not free, and was really only a curiosity. During my experimentation in there I managed to completely muck up my network connection manager. It no longer shows all active wireless points. In fact it doesn't show anything ! It was a classic case of the KDE desktop configuration settings fighting with the operating systems configurations - something I have seen before. I think the cure is going to be to delete all the KDE files in my home folder and let KDE rebuild them (although that is a route I will only take if all else fails). Despite no WiFi there was a nice beer available it was a dark lager from the Czech Herold brewery called Dark Chalice. Kevin hated it, but I thought it was rather good. I have to admit that after a few pints I found myself going off it, and finished the evening with a double scotch, but that was more about time than flavour.

 When I got home I had time to watch the end of The Brits award show while I ate my dinner. It wasn't terribly entertaining, but was of academic interest. Rather surprisingly I found that Sharon and Kelly Osbourne seemed to be fairly competent presenters. Albeit with a little horseplay. Ozzy Osbourne was relegated to shouting out a few short introductions in his drug wasted voice. It was the second time I have seen Amy Winehouse perform. She is a sad case. She has all the right moves but her voice, although in tune, is really crap. To sing those soul songs she should have lungs like a great pair of bellows, but even when half swallowing the microphone her voice sounds weak and uninspiring. Sir Paul Mcartney was looking and sounding old. Well at something beyond 60 he is, and I suppose he is actually doing quite well. The first song he performed was some unknown (to me) piece of crap, but he got the audience going with Hey Jude.

 Tonight is going to be a tough night. When I get home I have a lot of clearing up, and hoovering, to do to make the place ready for when Patricia comes to dinner on Friday night. Doing that sort of stuff after a day at work, and then the hard commute home, just doesn't feel right ! But it has to be done. It seems that the living room is really in one big mess at the moment and it will take some time to get that right. Let alone doing all the hoovering.
Wednesday 20th February 2008
08:18 GMT
 The morning fog is back. In some parts it is quite thick, but it is patchy, and in other areas it is just thick mist (although I have still yet to work out how thick mist has to be to be called fog). It may be a degree warmer this morning compared to yesterday morning. I think I read somewhere that the day would start at around 5° C. The fog, mist, and cloud is forecast to hang around for most of the morning, but there could be some sunny intervals this afternoon.

 I obtained something very useful yesterday. We are starting to have a clear out at work in preparation for the move to new premises sometime early next month. Among the rubbish being thrown out was a complete boxed set of Red Hat Linux 8. As a Linux distribution it has little value by itself, but the box contains a complete set of documentation in three thin paperback sized books. They have the potential to be very useful, and may answer some questions I didn't even know to ask.

 I did some more experimental cookery last night. It was another sort of stew, but this one contained a bag of Tesco's carrot batons, a whole red onion, and a smoked gammon steak. Once again I thickened up the gravy with some sage and onion stuffing. With a generous sprinkling of hot pepper sauce when served, it was very, very nice !

 Despite my intention to get to bed extra early last night, I did not go to bed until after 9 pm again. It was probably closer to 10 pm before I fell asleep. Maybe it is because the days are getting longer now, but I don't feel as tired as I thought I might do (although it has taken quite a few hours to feel that way). I am surprised that I don't feel too tired now because of what happened when I woke up at 4 am. I woke up and needed to have a pee, but after getting back in bed it seems I didn't even have time to finish thinking about whether I could get back to sleep for an hour before I was asleep. I woke up to my clock radio alarm at 5 am and at that point desperately wanted to go back to sleep once again, but the cats needed feeding, and I needed to go through the rest of the rituals prior to going to work. So I reluctantly got out of bed again and headed downstairs.

 One reason for wanting extra, or maybe even the right amount of sleep last night is that tonight will probably be boozing night. I haven't heard the plans yet, but I believe we are all meeting for a very early drink. Maybe as early as 5 pm. Well it won't be quite that early for me. I have to pop into Tesco on the way home, and feed the cats, but assuming I get the early train home I should be able to make it to the pub before 6 pm. I think we are starting off in The Ram, and I shall take my laptop along to see if any WiFi signals are available.

 One observation I have wanted to record (if I haven't done so already) is the time it takes to change trains at Waterloo. Walking from near the rear of the train at Waterloo East to half way down the train on platform 18 at Waterloo mainline station seems to take about a minute less than it does to walk from home to Catford Bridge station. As walks go that is not particularly far, but for changing trains it is ludicrous !
Tuesday 19th February 2008
08:21 GMT
 There is no frost this morning, but it is still very chilly. The clear skies have given away to fairly thin clouds that the sun is trying to breakthrough even now. There is also some fine mist this morning. It is not really enough to reduce visibility, but it gave the streetlights a slight extra glowing halo, and you could see it in the beams of a cars headlights. It still looks a little murky outside, but on my way through Wandsworth town, coming into work, I could see the sun burning bright behind the clouds and mist.

 Going home last night was a pleasant experience. I managed to get the bus really quickly, and from then on made all my connections without the need for any excessive rushing about. I travelled on the 16:29 from Waterloo East in bright daylight, occasionally being almost blinded when the setting sun appeared directly in the window adjacent to me.

 When I got home, having picked up a few things in Tesco's on the way there, I cooked up a nice lamb stew for myself. I thickened it with some sage and onion stuffing. It may have look less than gourmet after it was thrown on the plate, but it was delicious. My only regret was that there was far less meat left on the bone than I had imagined. That made for the greater part of the meal just mixed vegetables. You could say it was even healthy !

 One particular point of contention I have with Tesco at the moment is that they seem to have stopped stocking six packs of Whiskers "Supermeat". It is a particular favourite of my cats. The alternative to the six pack is the twelve pack. Now that is damned heavy, and I wasn't sure if t would fit in a single carrier bag, or even if a single carrier bag could support that weight. Fortunately a single carrier bag was OK, but it was still an annoyance to have to lug all those tins home in one go.

 A lot of the time life is fairly humdrum, but occasionally something happens to raise the spirits. Such a thinh happened yesterday afternoon. I finally got an email from Patricia taking me up on my suggestion that I should cook her one last meal before she and her partner move to Argentina. It's been ages since I last cooked a meal for Patricia (12 months ?), and I am looking forward to cooking for her on Friday night. It is possible it will be the very last time I ever see her, but there could be other opportunities. She does not move for a fortnight now, and she does have return tickets valid for twelve months.
Monday 18th February 2008
06:57 GMT
 It's daylight outside ! This is because of clear skies. Another consequence of the cloudless sky is that it is viciously cold outside. There is another thick frost for something like the third day running. Hopefully the sky will remain clear and it will warm up during the day. It seems unlikely we will get the warmth of some of the days we had earlier in the month, but if I am very lucky the temperature will rise to at least double figures (Centigrade).

 The weekend was mostly, if not entirely, uneventful. I felt slightly fragile all day on Saturday, and in consequnce I did not even go out for any shopping. On Sunday I managed to get to Tesco soon after they opened in the morning. Apart from the usual bits and pieces I did manage to find a nice bit of lamb marked down to about half price on the special reduced price shelves. It made for a very nice Sunday dinner.

 One thing I did manage on Saturday was a little more spring cleaning. I did all the hoovering upstairs and sorted out some stuff to throw out downstairs. I threw out a box of old home recorded VHS tapes, and had a phone around to see if any cat charity wanted to take a box of pre-recorded VHS tapes off my hands for some fundraising. So far I have come up with a total blank on that score. Maybe someone reading can suggest a good home for those tapes. (Send a message by clicking on comments over on the left hand side of this page).

 On Sunday I meant to do a load of hoovering downstairs, but somehow never got around to it. Apart from the shopping trip, and doing an extra load of washing, I had a very lazy day.
Saturday 16th February 2008
10:49 GMT
 The weather has turned around again. It is a beautiful sunny morning, and the forecast is for it to stay this way for the entire weekend. Yesterday's clouds eventually melted away during the afternoon, and I came home from work in sunshine. A consequence of last night's clear skies is that it was very cold this morning, and there may be remnants of a frost even now.

 Once again Patricia failed to say if she was available to meet last night, but I did have a good drink with Kevin and Iain last night. Taking the laptop to the pub was less useful, or less exciting, than it was last week, but it still got a fair bit of use, and I expect I will take it with me on further visits. It seems we may be drinking in The Catford Ram next Wednesday. There is no advertised free WiFi in there, but there may be some signal from the club next door which may have free WiFi. I'll be taking the laptop with me and searching for any usable signals !

 Early on in the pub I sent an email complaining that while there was decent beer available, there was nothing particularly exciting. I was wrong ! There was an exciting beer available. It was a Belgium fruit beer, and it was very nice ! It was a definite contribution to me leaving the pub a bit later than I had intended, and was possibly the source of a bit of a fierce hangover this morning. Fortunately any painful remnants of that hangover have now gone, but I still feel a bit undynamic (or something).

 Despite feeling the way I do I will soon be doing some housework, but as to how much, I'll have to find out when I get there. I do have some drunken hazy memories of being told the was an opportunity to go drinking again this afternoon. I am not sure if I want to right now, but I may change my mind later.
Friday 15th February 2008
08:20 GMT
 There was some rain overnight, but it is dry now (apart from some puddles). The clouds have not gone away yet, and it could rain again later on, although the weather forecasters have not predicted any. The cloudy sky means that it is a miserable sort of grey day, and the only cheer is knowing it is Friday and the weekend is nearly upon us.

It feels good that once again I can access my web server from work. It's a strange feeling like either impotence, or withdrawal symptoms when something goes wrong with the network. I guess I am some sort of network addict !

 In a similar way to last Friday, I may be going for a drink with either Patricia or Kevin, or both, tonight. Last Friday I didn't hear from Patricia, but I did have a rather pleasant drink with Kevin. Who knows what will happen tonight.
Thursday 14th February 2008
20:03 GMT

 Today started off grey and overcast, and hardly improved all day long. One small plus point was that there was no frost this morning. In fact it was probably a fair bit warmer than the previous few mornings (still quite chilly though). It seemed to colder through the day. This was because the wind picked up, and was coming from the east (I think). All this was in complete contrast to yesterday, and that was similar to the day before when the sun shone all day long.

 I was late getting to work yesterday. This was unfortunate because I had to leave on time to meet up with Aleemah. We went to another free lecture at the Royal Aeronautical Society. Last nights lecture was about spy satelites. It was not that good a lecture, although parts of it were interesting. I suppose the main problem was that the material covered was stretched out to last a full hour instead of about thirty minutes. It was still worth going, and it was quite pleasant to be in that part of London while the sun was still shining (it would have been nicer if the sun was still shining when we left the place).

 My journey home from the lecture started at Hyde Park Corner tube station. Both Aleemah and I were heading for Green Park tube station, which is one stop from Hyde Park Corner on the Piccadilly line to change to the Jubilee line. It is a long walk underground to change from the Piccadilly line platforms to the Jubilee line platforms, but eventually we arrived - Aleemah for northbound services, and southbound for me. I saw three northbound services depart before my soutbound service arrived. I was heading for London Bridge, and eventually arrived at the surface at 20:00, or the same time as my next Catford bound train would have been departing from the mainline platforms above me. So I had what I thought would be a thirty minute wait for my next train. I was a trifle peeved when my train finally arrived eight minutes late. It was getting very cold waiting all that time on the platform at London Bridge, and by the time I finally got on my train I was feeling cold, tired and very hungry !

 Not only was I hungry when I finally got indoors not long before 9 pm, but the cats were starving. So I fed the cats and sat down and watched some Red Dwarf while eating the two rolls I had bought while waiting at London Bridge. I finally got to bed around 10 pm, and fell asleep very quickly.

 This morning I was on time when I got to work, but was dismayed to find I could not access my server to write anything here. I didn't know if the house had burnt down, or whether my internet connection had failed. It was Steve who came to the partial rescue when he emailed me to say that he could still access my server by direct ip address, but not by my domain name of I had to stay late at work today to make up for my late morning yesterday, and then did some shopping on the way home, so it was geting late before I could look up my passwords to find out what had happened to my domain name. It turned out that it had expired because I had not received the usual email to suggest that I update it a couple of days ago. Fortunately it was very easy to re-instate it, and this website should have gone back on the air at least thirty minutes ago (as I write this).
Tuesday 12th February 2008
08:17 GMT
 Once again it is a foggy start to the day. There is no frost this morning, but everything is dripping with dew. The fog in Catford was not as thick as the fog near the River Thames. On the train between Waterloo and Wandsworth Town stations the visibility dropped to a very low figure for some parts of the journey. It's hard to estimate just how far you could see, but at the worst it must have been as little as twenty five feet. That's almost as low as the glory days of the famous London Peasoupers of years gone by. The weather forecasters have predicted that today will be the last sunny day for some time to come. Tomorrow is forecast to be fairly cloudy with little chance of any sunshine. So although it could be a few hours before the sun manages to "burn off" this fog, I had better try and enjoy the sunshine while it lasts.

 I left work ten minutes late last night. It wasn't much, but it was late enough to mean that I had to get the later train from Waterloo East back to Catford. On a plus note, it did give me time to have a smoke at Waterloo, or should I say outside Waterloo, on my way home. It was still daylight when I got off the train at Catford, but by the time I had done a little shopping in Tesco it was getting gloomy outside. That is still a vast improvement on as little as a week ago when it would definitely have been night (perhaps with some brightness on the western horizon).

 I didn't do much last night, but I did bundle up some old video cassettes and bin them. That gave me a little more room on my bedroom bookshelf to tidy up a small pile of books. Tonight I have more interesting things to do. I am expecting a delivery of computer bits today. The principle item is a carrying case for my laptop. I won't get much play out of that, but I am also expecting a 2.5 inch to 3.5 inch hard disk adaptor to replace one, or even two, that I seem to have mislaid over the years. That will allow me to connect up the laptop hard drive from my ancient laptop to a full size PC of similar age, and have another go at installing Windows NT4 (will this saga never end ?). 
Monday 11th February 2008
06:38 GMT
This morning there is a thick freezing fog outside. After clear sunny skies for almost the whole of yesterday, I guess I should have expected the temperature to plummet, but I didn't anticipate fog this morning. I would like to think that today will end up as another fine sunny day once the fog has lifted, but I haven't seen any weather forecasts to either bolster that hope, or to dash it.

 For the second day running I went out and did some shopping without putting on a coat yesterday. It was not such a pleasant experience as on Saturday, but only because I went out much earlier in the morning. Had I waited until the afternoon I am sure it would have been really nice, but at 10 am it was still a little bit too chilly. During the afternoon the heat from the sun was sufficient to warm the front bedroon up to the point where it was almost feeling hot in there.

 Yesterday was a curious mix of mostly acting like a couch potato, and doing some serious cleaning. The result of the serious cleaning was that yet another bit of my bedroom has been decluttered, and a small corner of my downstairs back room is also a bit cleaner/decluttered. A significant part of the cleaning exercise has resulted in a box of about 35 old prerecorded VHS video cassettes being up for grabs. Initially I have offered them to the EPB Preservation Group in case they can use them for fundraising. If they don't want them then I am open to offers or suggestions to dispose of them. I'd probably prefer them to go to an animal charity before I would consider a human charity. Failing that it will be the wheely bin because I can't be bothered to mess around with the likes of Ebay, and they are too heavy to cart off to some second hand shop (which would probably only offer 50p per tape, if that).

 After my intensive burst of cleaning I settled own to some serious couch poatao work. I managed to watch eleven new episodes of The Simpsons back to back. This did make me a little late getting to bed, but I was in bed and asleep before 10 pm. I slept fairly well once I did get to sleep, and only woke up once in the night at 3.30 am. After that I went back to sleep and didn't wake until my alarm went off at 5.30 am.
Sunday 10th February 2008
08:15 GMT
The sun has risen on what looks to be another bright sunny day. The clear skies let the temperature drop to close to freezing overnight. There may have even been a bit of a frost, but I can't see at the moment. Yesterday it became so mild that I was able to go shopping without putting on a coat. In fact when I opened the front door to go out it felt positively hot ! That heat only lasted a moment, and was because my south facing front door is in a little recess (almost, but not really a porch), and it traps the heat of the sun rather nicely. There is one little problem with the afternoon temperature recently. It's sort of half and half. Being just a few degrees below the comfort level it is easy to overheat the rooms here at home. One moment it feels too cool for comfort, and the next you realise it is too hot. I think I need to fine tune the thermostats. Perhaps that is a bit premature. There is still plenty of time left for ice and snow before spring really happens. If not ice and snow, we still have the March winds and April showers to get through yet !

 After going back to bed yesterday morning I managed far more sleep than I hoped for, and it was almost as much as I wished for. I couldn't get back to sleep initially, but after I did fall asleep properly I did not wake up until 10.45 am. I probably should have woken up all keen and ready for action, but instead I woke up feeling very lazy. My housework was limited to some washing, and emptying Nelly's litter tray. Maybe I will do some hoovering today (or maybe not !). Overall I had a quite lazy day, and I have little to show for it (apart from some shopping from Tesco).

 Today I am contemplating going out for a wander with my camera if the afternoon is as mild as yesterday. A quick spin round the park seems like it could be a good idea. However I may get bogged down playing with the ancient laptop and Windows NT4 (or not). I think I only have two important goals for today. The first is to buy some fruit for my lunch at work. The second is to get to bed nice and early in order to get up fresh and early for work in the morning.

 This morning my stiff shoulder seems to have improved quite a lot. It wasn't all that bad yesterday, but it was a bit sore trying to get to sleep in my favourite position. With the current rate of improvement it may well be cured by tomorrow. Even now I nearly have a full range of pain free movement.
Saturday 9th February 2008
05:10 GMT
 As far as I can tell it is dry and cold outside right now. There could be a touch of frost, and a bit of mist, but from a quick peek from behind the curtains it is difficult to tell. As far as I know the day is still forecast to be bright and sunny like yesterday. I have no idea what the air temperature reached yesterday, maybe only 10° C, but when the air was still the sun felt pleasantly warm.

 I didn't feel as tired as I thought I would yesterday, but I felt tired enough. I think there was only one time when I fell asleep for a few seconds while reading some stuff off the computer monitor. Later in the afternoon it became apparent that I had some sort of new ailment. For seemingly no reason my right shoulder became very sore. It was as if I had crashed into something, and my shoulder had taken the full force of the impact. I don't recall doing anything like that, but I suppose I could have been sleep walking or something. The pain was a bit inconvenient, but the only time it became really painful was when I was reaching behind my back to wipe my bottom !

 Patricia had promised to text or email me to say whether we were meeting after work last night. No text or email came through from her, but I did get a text from Kevin while I was on the train from Clapham Junction to Waterloo. He said he was up for a beer from as early as 6 pm. This seemed like a good idea, and I responded in the affirmative.

 It was a little after 6 pm when I met Kevin in the Catford Wetherspoons pub. After our experiments with the free wireless internet access in there a couple of weeks back, I decided to take my laptop along to the pub. I was unsure how well the batteries would last out in it after doing my little bodge to bypass the faulty charging circuit. Last night was to be the first big test. I was both astonished, and rather pleased that the batteries held out far longer than I would ever have imagined. I switched the laptop on at about 6.15 pm, and there was still an alleged one hours life left in the battery pack when I eventually shut it down at around 9 pm.

 It would be nice to attribute the battery life to the power management capabilities of Linux, but I don't think it is any different to the capabilities of Windows. I am not sure if Kevin was impressed with seeing Kubuntu Linux running for the first time, or whether he found it to be just another way of running Firefox. He did seem impressed with FreeNAS when I connected to my FreeNAS box and showed him the configuration options. (FreeNAS being a free operating system that utilises a cheap old PC as a Network Attached Storage device).

 One of the things we did with the laptop was to download and install Google Earth. Kevin managed to download the installer while I was out having a fag, and without consulting any "readme" I managed to run the installer without too much bother. Once I remembered to make the install script an executable file it was actually plain sailing, and a simple as installing a Windows program. I had never played with Google Earth before, but it seemed good fun, although trying to operate it using the highly dubious touchpad on a laptop was "interesting". Using a proper mouse would have made the experience a little less hit or miss.

 I think I left the pub around 9 pm and came home to have some dinner.From then on time seemed to fly. I have no idea where the time went, but I am sure it was as late as midnight before I got into bed. Despite my shoulder giving me some pain, I slept fine until 4.30 am. Rather than try and fight myself back to sleep I thought I may as well get up and potter around a bit. Soon I will go back to bed where I hope I can sleep for another four hours. I am not seeing Aleemah today so I have no need to rush around doing housework, and could stay in bed until midday if I wanted to. I suppose I would like to do that if I could, but past experience suggests that it is unlikely to happen.

 Later today I may well continue the long running saga of trying to get Windows NT4 installed on my ancient laptop. This saga has probably been going on too long now, and sometime soon I ought to admit defeat and move on to something more productive. However, while there is still some sort of hope, I will continue to waste my time and write more boring stuff about my failures.

 Before all that, I am now off to bed again.
Friday 8th February 2008
08:34 GMT
Clear skies mean it's very cold this morning. So cold that there is a light frost ! As I left the house for the first time this morning, at 6.40 am, the eastern sky was just beginning to light up. Had I continued to the station it would almost have been light by the time I caught my train. Half way to the station I turned back. I think it might have had something to do with the baked beans and lashings of hot pepper sauce I ate last night ! When I left for the station a second time, at 7.15 am, it was just about daylight. By the time I got on the train, at 7.29 am, the sun had appeared and I enjoyed the sunshine all the way to work. The weather forecasters have promised sunshine for most of today (and tomorrow). This should make for a most pleasant day, and with any luck it will begin to feel almost warm by the afternoon.

 I had another go at getting Windows NT4 on my old laptop last night. Once again I never succeeded, although I got very close. My plan to put the hard drive in my modern laptop failed for the simple reason that it was only designed to take a slim drive, and not the thicker old one that I was attempting to use. In desparation I decided to overwrite a hard disk that I had Windows XP installed on. Ideally I wanted to keep that as a spare, but with Kubuntu working so well on the modern laptop it was hardly necessary. I started off the installation process, and it all went well. At the point when the installer has finished copying files, and wants to reboot the computer, I took that drive out and fitted it into the old laptop. Initially it seemed as if it would work. One of the quirks of Windows NT4 is that it always installs onto a FAT32 partition, and then converts that to an NTFS partition on the next boot. I watched that happen OK, but upon rebooting I got an error message saying there was a problem with the hard disk. I am sure the trouble was that the old laptop could not recognise the drive properly because it was too big. So although the new NTFS partition is most probably perfectly intact, it can't be read because the Master Boot Record cannot find the start of the partition. I have seen this problem before, and there is no easy fix for it.  My next attempt at this silly game will probably be to open up the casing of the modern laptop so I can fit in the physically bigger, but smaller capacity hard drive (that the old laptop can recognise correctly) and start again.

 I managed to get into bed by 9 pm last night, but I found I could not get to sleep until about 10 pm. Every time I found a comfortable position I would start to cough and wake myself up again. I eventually fell into a slightly troubled sleep, but woke up coughing again at 3 am. From then on I only managed to catch a few very short naps until at 4 am I decided I might as well get up. By 4.30 am I was writing emails and "surfing the net". Of course I now feel devestatedly tired, and I am looking forward to going home again. The saying that there is no rest for the wicked is probably some sort of truism. There are two possibilities for me to grab a pint or two tonight. I may be meeting Patricia after work, or I may be meeting Kevin for a pint later on. It is not impossible that I may do both. Whatever I do I am sure that I will be looking forward to my bed as early as possible tonight. It is handy that I am not seeing Aleemah tomorrow. That means I can have a lie in without having to worry about getting up early enough to do a pile of housework ( I'll still be doing some, but it won't be to a deadline).
Thursday 7th February 2008
08:14 GMT
 The dry weather continues, and today is forecast to be sunnier than yesterday. The wind is coming from the south (more or less), but the temperature is only forecast to get up to 10° today. That's not bad, but if the sky is clear tonight, the temperature could plummet to low single figures overnight. It was not so warm this morning, but it would have to be a fair bit colder for any frost to develop. There is still plenty of time for more ice and snow, but for the most part it is easy to believe that winter is behind us, and spring is starting.

 I left work, last night, with just about enough time to reach Waterloo East for my 16:29 train. It was a bit of a rush though, and tonight I hope I can leave myself a little more time (i.e. leave a tiny bit earlier still). It was, once again, a pleasure to get home in sunlight - well as far as Catford Bridge station in sunlight. As the days continue to lengthen it will still be a little while yet before the sun is decently above the horizon to actually feel the warmth of the sun for those last few minutes walk from the station to home. It can't be all that long now before I can get the next train from Waterloo East, the 16:55, and be able to get indoors while it is still bright outside. In a similar timescale it will soon be fully light when I leave home to go to work, but the real high point will be when I can wake up to daylight. That will be really good !

 I did two things to excess last night. One was to eat too much, and I am feeling the effects of that this morning (mainly a certain lack of stamina). The other was to make myself late for bed again by trying to get Windows NT4 installed on my ancient laptop computer. (in case I haven't mentioned it recently, I am hoping that Windows NT4 will be better behaved than Windows 98SE when attempting to use a certain wireless network card). To recap, my failure to install Windows NT4 is because the installation proceedure calls for both a floppy drive and CD drive. The laptop has both, but they use the same slot and can't be fitted at the same time. Last night I experimented with making a special bootable CD that had the contents of the floppy disks as well as the installation CD. It worked as far as it was definitely bootable, but failed because the installation procedure STILL wanted to read the data off of a floppy disk. Tonight, if I still have the will to live (!) I will put the hard disk I am using into my modern laptop, and attempt the first part of the installation on that. It may work despite no floppy drive being available because with 512 MB of ram available (instead of a mere 32 MB) I can use some special software that can, in effect, emulate the floppy drive in RAM (and still have plenty of memory left over to run the installation). Assuming that I can get to the first reboot in the installation process I feel there is a good chance that the installation will be able to proceed with the hard disk replaced in the museum piece laptop. I just hope I can manage all that and still get to bed before 9 pm tonight ! 
Wednesday 6th February 2008
08:21 GMT
 Once again it is dry this morning. There are a lot of clouds about, but they are broken, and I think we can expect some sunshine today. One less than favourable indicator is that a lot of this mornings clouds are tinged with red, suggesting bad weather is on it's way.

 I was late leaving work yesterday, and even later arriving home. It sounds unlikely, considering how keen I am to go home on most day, but last night I just got a little carried away with what I was doing. Having missed any chance of catching my early train, I didn't bother to rush to get the next one. I left work at about 4.50 pm, and took it easy getting to Clapham Junction station. I had an unusually long wait there - five minutes instead of usually no longer than two or three minutes. I arrived at Waterloo just a little too late to catch the 17:17 train, and ended up catching the 17:41 train. It was gone 6 pm when I finally arrived home.

 Once I had satisfied my hunger with a couple of Pot Noodles (which were as crappy as you would expect them to be), I had another go at installing Windows NT4 on my old NEC laptop. The method I tried last night was to copy the installation files from the installation CD to a spare, 1.44 GB, hard drive which was connected via an USB adaptor to another computer. The brief result was that did not work either. The installation routine still wants to install directly from a CD. If I have the time, or the patience, or even the inclination, I may try and make a bootable version of the installation CD using the NT4 installation floppy disks as the source of the bootable image, and copy all their files, together with the files from the original CD to it. Maybe it will work, or maybe it will not. The laughable alternative is to try and get the whole installation onto a huge great teetering mound of floppy disks. It is possible that there is a way of doing this available on the original CD, but it may only be just for making the three floppies that are used to start the installation.

I was late getting to bed again last night, but once again it was only just on the wrong side of 9 pm. After two such late nights I am beginning to feel I am losing energy. I am mindful that it is probably all in the mind, but tonight I will have another go at getting to bed the right side of 9 pm. I did feel pretty good yesterday, and did not feel the need for any decongestants or cough remedies. Maybe not taking any was not such a good idea. This morning it feels like some of my sinuses are discharging their accumulated snot just a little too quickly. My nose is not running, and for most of the time clear, but rather too often than I would prefer, from time to time I suddenly find a big sticky bogey flopping about at the back of the nose. Shifting these is a noisy and unpleasant task, and one that is quite embarrassing on a crowded train. After that unpleasantness I will add that my cough has taken a turn for the different. Any dry ticklyness has gone, but this morning I find that periodically I am coughing up muck from deep within my chest. That is possibly good, but once again it is not ideal doing this on a crowded train. Despite this expelling of assorted detritus, and a feeling that an extra thirty minutes sleep might have served me better, I don't feel too bad today, perhaps not quite as good as yesterday, but not bad. In restrospect, yesterday I might have felt better than I really did because I was riding a wave of euphoria  because it was the first day for over a week when I didn't feel totally, and utterly crap !  Perhaps today I just feel sort of average.
Tuesday 5th February 2008
08:19 GMT
 The weather has taken a turn for the worse. It is still quite mild, possibly even milder, but it is now wet. Although it was forecast, it was still a bit of a surprise considering that I travelled home from work under almost clear blues skies last night. When I arrived at Catford Bridge station, not only was it still light, it was light enough for the sky to be a distinct blue. It was still very light when I arrived home after having done some shopping in Tesco. It seemed to be quite a pleasant evening. It was dry and not too cold. The cats took advantage of it by spending a lot of time outdoors. This was not unusual for Smudge, but even Nelly went on some long exploration and made me late getting to bed. Nelly is getting old and in some ways is fairly frail like many an old lady. So I was rather concerned when she was nowhere to be seen for about two hours. Eventually she appeared looking quite pleased with herself, shortly before 9 pm, and I was able to get to bed shortly after. It was an acceptable time to get to bed, but I would have preferred to have got there half an hour earlier.

 Meanwhile Smudge stayed out. I was sleeping quite well after consuming yet more 86% pure cocoa chocolate, but I still woke up at sometime a little before 1 am to have a pee. While I was up I checked to see if Smudge wanted to come in, and a very soggy Smudge did want to come in !!

 After a quite reasonable sleep, helped by medicating myself with Theobromine, I do feel rather good this morning. I still have an intermittent cough, but that is to be expected, and sometimes my nose still feels a little stuffy, but I do not appear to be suffering from any particular aches or pains, or from any unusual fatigue. I reckon I am, more or less, cured !

 One thing I was reminded of this morning, while admiring myself in the bathroom mirror, was that on Sunday evening I attempted something that has always proved foolhardy in the past. I tried, and for the first time ever, succeeded in trimming my own beard ! I didn't attempt anything too drastic, but just trimmed off the worst of the straggly bits. Ideally I would have liked to prune it back to an even 3.2mm length, but the fact that I managed to get it fairly even at all is something of a miracle. All previous attempts have lead to unsightly bald spots, copious amounts of blood and gore, and the need to shave the whole lot off and start again from scratch. I did manage a small nick on my neck that produce a tiny spot of blood, but that was more of a stabbing rather than a cut !

 Tonight I am going to stay late at work. Partly to make up for leaving a bit early last night, and partly to fool the opposition. That last bit may sound slightly cryptic, but I have explained it, maybe in different words, to a few people in the past.

 One thing I will spend a few odd minutes doing from time to time during the day is to look for a new job. I was disappointed to not see any wage rise when I got my pay slip yesterday (for the money that actually went in last Thursday). I am looking for any job that I have a reasonable chance of doing, and that pays a bare minimum of £24K P.A. Ideally it should involve less than an hours travelling time from Catford (less than 30 minutes would be even better). I did find a job yesterday that was electronics based, and 90% of it was well within my capabilities, and I reckon I could wing the other 10%. The starting salary for that was £26.5K, and that gives me an idea of my true worth. Unfortunately the closing date was yesterday and unless I had the time to fill in all the applications bumf (using information that I did not have to hand) and then hand deliver it. I would miss the closing date by at least a day, and probably two. Maybe it could have still been worth trying for, but if nothing else it has given me a baseline from which to work to. So if anybody knows of any jobs going that you think I could do (not necessarily involved in attacking things with a soldering iron), please do get in touch. (click on comments in the top left of this page if you don't know my email address).
Monday 4th February 2008
08:29 GMT
 It's fairly bright this morning, but at the same time it is rather chilly. The forecast seems to be for a day similar to yesterday when it was dry and bright for most of the day. There was some overnight rain last night, but I don't think it was very heavy. At least, not very heavy in Catford, but I did notice that the exposed ends of the platforms at Waterloo seemed to have had a good soaking when I went past them this morning.

 I have made it into work this morning despite feeling very rough. My nose has ceased to run, and even my cough is not too bad, but I still feel very heady, and bits of me ache. The strangest thing is that both my wrists seem to hurt for no apparent reason. The other great area of soreness are the muscles used for coughing in the chest and stomach areas. I didn't think my coughing was that bad. In fact I am sure I can remember times when it was ten times as bad, and yet the evidence from my muscular pain suggests otherwise.

 I managed to go and do some shopping in Tesco yesterday morning. It was really nice to get out into the fresh air, but even nicer to get home again. I got there soon after 10 am when the place had just opened, and it was comparatively quiet in there. That made the shopping experience more pleasant.

 I tried an experiment on my cough yesterday. I treated it with theobromine. To quote from this page :-
"The study showed that an ingredient of chocolate called theobromine was more effective at stopping persistent coughs than the leading cough medicine codeine."
While shopping in Tesco I bought a couple of bars of chocolate. One of them was just a bar of ordinary milk chocolate that was loaded with fat and sugar, and the other was an 86% cocoa version. I do like those dark and bitter chocolates, but I wanted an instant boost to my morale and went for the milk chocolate. The dry greasiness of it caught in my throat a few times, inducing even more coughing, but after that it did really start to work. My cough became lighter, and more infrequent. It stayed that way until the evening when I ate the dark chocolate as a sort of booster (plus I was feeling gluttonous). Despite chocolate overload I did not eat all that much yesterday. It is some sort of indicator as to just how bad I was feeling that on Sunday, and to a lesser extent on Saturday too, I partially lost my appetite. I did have plans for a grand takeaway on Saturday, but when evening came I just roasted some potato segments (or whatever they were called). Yesterday, apart from the chocolate, all I had to eat was a baked potato with cheese and beans (and I only ate half the tin of beans !). This morning I do feel hungry, but don't really fancy eating (although I could be tempted by a bar of chocolate).
Sunday 3rd February 2008
06:16 GMT
 After being outside for a few hours, Smudge came in dry. So I assume it is dry outside, and I know it is damn chilly !  There was lots of glorious sunshine yesterday. It looked nice, but did little to warm the day up. Well I suppose it must have done really, but I didn't go out yesterday, and so I wouldn't have noticed it. It would be nice to think that today will have some sunshine too.

 Maybe my cold is really starting to do something now. Since waking up this morning my nose has been producing copious amounts of snot. I think this is a good sign, although it is pretty unpleasant. At the same time I find my cough seems to have diminished a bit, but my bones feel stiff and creaky. Overall it is hard to tell which bits of me are the worst bits, and what bits are the best bits, but I now know when I felt my best, and when I felt my worst.

 Yesterday afternoon I went to bed after drinking a small tumbler of scotch. It should not have been enough scotch to do any more than slightly relax me. As I lay in bed relaxing I fell asleep several times while listening to several Pink Floyd albums. (Pink Floyd being excellent to chill out to). At that time I felt the best I had for several days. When I woke up for the last time I decided to get up. As I got out of my warm bed into the cold I felt my very worst ! It took as much as fifteen minutes for my brain to reintegrate with reality. Until then I felt like I was profoundly drunk. My head was pounding and I felt distinctly wobbly. It was most unpleasant.

 During sleep, both yesterday afternoon, and during last night, my brain seems to have been particularly creative. This morning I was dreaming about computers. I know there exists at least one computer that has got a small Linux based operating system held on a ROM chip that can be invoked for the simple task of playing media files without booting into the main operating system (Linux or Windows installed conventionally onto a hard disk). During my dream I invented a variant on this idea. I didn't produce the software, or the hardware, but before I woke up I had the privelege of seeing my idea finally work after several failures. On the box I saw there seemed to be options to run either Linux or Windows. I don't know how the Windows variant worked, but I did have some fancy ideas about how the Linux variant worked. The idea was that you would run Linux normally and then select an application that you wanted to use as soon as possible mthe next time you turned on the PC. Some sort of clever script would work out the bare minimum of the operating system that would be needed to run that application, and bring that to the fore when booting up. So for instance if you wanted to run Open Office Write (the word processor) you would not initially need a network connection, nor the full desktop, and you would not need write priveleges to the hard disk. In fact everything not neccesary to running Open Office would be ignored until after Open Office was actually running. Then all the other bits would load in the background. Only when you were ready to save your work would you actually log in to get write priveleges to the hard disk, and have the rest of the operating system available to you. I don't know how this would work under Windows, but I do know that it would only work if Microsoft dictated it would work (and claimed the idea for themselves !). Using Linux, some clever hacker could actually make this idea a reality. So if you ever see such an idea actually working you will know that you read it here first !

 I am not sure if I was being creative yesterday afternoon, while listening to Pink Floyd, or whether I was just thinking of a long felt want. I was enjoying all those early Pink Floyd albums so much that I wished there was more music about like that. Although there other "prog rock" bands around in that era, few ever really managed a fairly consistent product that was as distinct as Pink Floyd despite Pink Floyd themselves experimenting with several styles. Maybe some of the early works by Uriah Heep came closest in part (unless you know different). The obvious answer, though it would horrify many people, would be for someone to dissect early Pink Floyd music, and then make new music in the same style. It would need a real clever bastard to do this, and there are very few of them around. I realise that there are several Pink Floyd tribute groups around, I have even seen "Think Floyd" myself, but they are just copy cats with no creative juices of their own. What is needed is a true artist in the same way that a painter and decorator is not Michealangelo no matter how well he paints your living room doors. One such artist is Neil Innes. His work on producing authentic sounding psuedo Beatles songs for the Rutles "Mockumentary" was an absolute masterpiece, but I don't think he could extend himself to psuedo Pink Floyd songs. Current music is awash with "songs" made by sampling other songs. Some of these are quite clever, but generally are done in a music style that I find offensive. However maybe one of those creative types could suddenly have some sort of brain siezure and come out liking real music. Maybe someone exists who even has a sense of humour. It would cause an outrage, but I would be curious to hear something like Michael Jacksons "Thriller" done in the style of, say, Interstellar Overdrive. Now that would be most curious !! (I have just added the link to Think Floyd. Having read that link it would seem that Think Floyd have indeed recorded some original compositions. I'll have to check them out sometime).

 Today I don't think I am going to be very creative. I ought to start limbering myself up in readiness to go to work tomorrow. One such bit of practice exercise will be to go out and do some shopping. I might even do some tidying up. I am going to try and get to bed very early tonight. If possible I am going to get up extra early tomorrow morning, and perhaps try and get an even earlier train into work. It is my belief that a train around 6.30 am will be less crowded than the 6.54 am train that I would normally get, and where getting a seat is often tricky. If I feel even a quarter as bad as I do now, it would be a bit of a luxury not to be crammed into a crowded train.
Saturday 2nd February 2008
07:57 GMT
 It seems to be a fine start to the day. It is very cold and clear. The sky looks blue, and once the sun has creaked it's way over the horizon it could be be a very nice sunny day.  Yesterday was not bad. There was a lot of sunshine, but the wind, often light, but sometimes strong, made it feel a lot cooler than it really was. As far as I can tell, from inside the house, the air seems fairly still at the moment. If the wind has abated then it could potentially feel almost mild outside later today.

 Even if it was actually hot outside I doubt I would be taking advantage of it. I still feel tired from fighting this cold. I think the problem is that it is not really doing much. If my nose had just gushed one day, and my cough brought up bits of kidney and liver (as well as lung !) then I would know that I had reached the bottom, and the only way from then onwards was up. Instead my nose only got a bit wet and stuffy, and my cough is just slightly worse than a smokers cough. It is all just bad enough to want to make me stay in the warm taking it relatively easy, and not go gallivanting about outside. While I am sitting in a warm room, with a handy drink to stop my throat from drying out, I can sometimes almost forget that I have a cold (or other such deadly disease). It is only when I do things like I am doing at the moment, sitting in a cold room typing, that I am strongly reminded that I do not feel all that wonderful. (I do have a heater on, and the room is slowly warming up, but right now it still feels very chilly in here).

 I did end going out for some fresh air yesterday. It is not that I really wanted to, but as I said to a friends mum who I bumped into, "someone has to but the cat food" ! Before I bought the cat food I went into the building society to pay in a cheque. In a fit of bedevilment I also paid in some cash. For a long time now I have been thinking I ought to start increasing my savings incase I ever need a lot of emergency money. At the moment my savings account is looking quite frugal, but perhaps this could be the year when I start to make regular top ups to it (but then again.........)

 After the building society I went to Tesco. I was surprised at how busy it was for a late Friday afternoon. It seemed to be full of people who had no idea what they wanted, or where they were going. That made my shopping slightly irritating, but the worst was yet to come. Like most supermarkets, and maybe it is required by law, my local Tesco employs a checkout woman who should have retired 137 years ago. I believe her name is Mavis, but I commonly refer to her as Doris. She always has the shortest checkout queue because everyone knows to avoid her. She is slow witted and as blind as a bat. Woe to anyone she serves who has bought anything where the barcode is indistinct and she has to key in the numbers by hand !!!  I selected a queue that I thought would move quite quickly. There were two people in front of me. One was already being served, and the other seemed to be getting her shopping from the trolley, and onto the conveyor, in a fast and competent manner. At that point I was optimistic that I would be out of there reasonably quickly. As the person who was being served finished their transaction the dark clouds of doom began to gather. The checkout woman finished her shift and was replaced by DORIS !!!!!!!!! Several weeks passed before I finally paid my bill and was out of there into the cool fresh air.

 One of the low energy indoor pursuits I did yesterday was to have a play with one of my ancient laptops. It is an NEC 6030 "Versa". Inside it has a 133 MHz Pentium One processor and a mere 40 MB of arm. It runs Windows 98SE. For some time now I have wanted to connect it to my wireless network. Not for any valid reason, but just for completeness. To that end I sought out a fairly old hardware based wireless PCMCIA card. The previous times I had tried it I got nowhere. Changing anything to do with networking on a Windows 98 machine is a nightmare. Everytime you change anything it wants to reboot, and it keeps wanting files from the Windows installation CD that are already installed anyway. It is all rather pathetic. My problem with this wireless card was that it was easy to find the access point, and to connect to it, but I could never get access to the outside world. I tried loads of things, but yesterday I tried something new. I turned off all encryption on my access point and reconnected. This time it worked ! I had full internet access. The only problem was that so would anyone else who happened to connect to my access point. So turning off encryption was not the answer. At least it proved that the wireless card actually worked, but why could I not establish an encrypted connection ? I can only conclude that some dll file for encryption protocols is missing in my windows installation. So this morning I have downloaded the cumulative updates for Windows 98SE, and I will see if installing those makes any difference. I may also try updating Internet Explorer because that incorporates encryption technology that might be shared with other applications. One final option, although it will be very hard to do, is to delete Windows 98 and install Windows NT4 (the Wireless card drivers CD do not actually directly support Windows 98, but they do support Windows NT4 ).

 One thing I didn't do last night was to go to the pub. I assume Kevin was too busy, and maybe he might have even warned me that he was not available when we were drinking the previous Friday. Some beers might have been nice, but I am not too bothered about it. I had some nice food, and stayed warm until it was time for bed.

 I don't know when, and even if, I will get that laptop out again today. I am not seeing Aleemah today so I have plenty of time on my hands, but I think I fancy "vegging out" in front of the TV for some time today. I have a couple of films I would like to see, and maybe today is the day to watch them.
Friday 1st February 2008
14:32 GMT

 Despite the forecast for a really terrible day it is actually rather nice at the moment. The last forecast I saw was for icy winds to be blowing down from the arctic bringing sleet or snow to the north of the country. Right now it is a bit windy, but the sun is shining and it does not feel that cold outside. The weather defied the forecasts yesterday too. The morning was most definitely very wet and very windy, but I was rather surprised when there were a few sunny intervals during the afternoon. 

 Once again I am off work feeling ill. I am not very ill, but I feel bad enough that I am glad I am not at work. Like yesterday, the morning commute on hot stuffy crowded trains would have been very unpleasant, and I doubt my condition would have improved by standing around on cold damp draughty platforms. Last night, despite feeling very tired, I could not seem to get to sleep. Sometime I would feel too hot and uncomfortable under the duvet, and even if I did find the right balance between covered and uncovered, my throat would start to tickle and I would have a coughing fit. I ended up listening to some audio books until almost 1 am. By then I was so tired that I fell asleep almost instantly once I really tried to get to sleep again.

 My cough is not nearly as bad as that which I suffered sometime last November. This time it is more like an irritation that starts at inopportune moments (like when I am just about to fall asleep). I would describe it as a wet tickle at the back of the throat rather than the dry tickle that is just a normal smokers cough, and totally unlike the deep chesty "coughing up lumps of lung" cough that I suffered from last November. It will definitely be nice when Spring has fully sprung and all the winter illnesses go away.

 I spent most of yesterday just relaxing. Some of that relaxation was keeping an eye on my laptop. Since fitting my extra (bodged) charging switch I have been cycling the batteries, and every time I do this I seem to be able to get more charge in. On the last attempt, earlier this morning, I got the charge up to (a reported) 92%. This should be sufficient if it should happen that I go to the pub this evening, and take the laptop with me (which I may well do). Despite being too ill to go to work I do think that several pints of beer tonight would actually be therapeutic Hopefully it will be an early session, and I can get home again. just sufficiently drunk to make sleeping easy, but not so drunk that I wake up several times in the night for a pee, and each time I wake up I find I have a hangover. If I were a doctor I reckon I would prescribe about three pints of medium strength ale !

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1st February 2008
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