Bill's diary page for January 2008
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Thursday 31st January 2008
13:27 GMT
 The main features of the weather today are the rain and strong winds. The rain comes and goes. Sometimes very heavy, and sometimes less so. The wind is very gusty. Some gusts might even have reached the 60 mph that the weathermen have forecast. Maybe we are a little more sheltered here, being in a built up area, and so may not get the full force of the wind, but some of those gusts do seem to almost shake the house down to it's foundations. Of course the house doesn't actually shake, but if it could I am sure it would.

 I am at home today having taken the day off sick. Yesterday morning my nose was very itchy, and starting to run a lot. In the afternoon it settled down and I thought I was over whatever was causing it. This morning I woke up feeling very stuffed up, and for a few hours I seemed to get through a fair few tissues. Since then, mainly just sitting around in the warm, my nose seems to have dried up again. My throat still seems to be a little tickly though. Provided I just rest I seem fine, and I wonder why I am not at work, but I feel that all the changes of air temperature and humidity that commuting entails would trigger off an even worse negative reaction. Just thinking about it makes me want to sneeze !

 I left work twenty minutes late last night after trying to complete a repair I had started. It was one of those repairs where you get totally stuck, and as you walk away from it you suddenly find new inspiration. I never did complete that repair. I had hoped that I would get to Waterloo East in time to catch the 16:55 train back to Catford, but I arrived at Waterloo (main line station) with what I thought was insufficient time to to make a mad dash for that train. Sadly I made a big mistake. I went to pass a few minutes outside the station having a fag. With my fag smoked I wandered back to the escalators to go up, and over the link to Waterloo East station. As I passed the customer information displays I saw that the 16:55 train had been delayed, and still had not arrived. Assuming that it would arrive at any second I did not attempt to rush to get it. It seems it was delayed still further because it was only just departing as I reached the slope leading down to the platform. Had I rushed I may still have been able to catch it, and if I had not stopped for a fag I could have caught it without rushing.

 I had it in mind that I would try and get to bed reasonably early again last night, but it didn't happen. After eating my dinner I became inspired to open up my laptop to have another look at the battery charging problem. For one elated moment I thought I had found a dry joint. I resoldered it, but it was obviously OK because it did not affect the fault. In the course of my investigations I did find the device that switches charging power to the battery.  As an emergency cure I added a mechanical switch to bypass it. I now seem to be able to get the battery up to 29% fully charged, but it now sticks there, or at least that is what the computer is saying. From some of the odd behaviour I have noticed while investigating this I am beginning to wonder if it is a hardware fault at all. There is a possibility it could be a software fault caused by a problem in the BIOS. I was told that an attempt had been made to update the BIOS, but that it had failed. So I had a go myself. All attempts to flash the BIOS fail for me too. It is as if the wrong BIOS has been installed, and now there seems to be no way to correct it. If I had a floppy disk drive to attach to the computer I may be able to force through a BIOS update, but I don't have one, and it could be a very foolish thing to attempt anyway. Maybe it is better to leave things alone. 
Wednesday 30th January 2008
08:19 GMT
 There was a fair amount of rain during the night, but it had stopped by the time I left home for work. It looks as if the rain stayed a little longer in Wandsworth, but once again it had stopped by the time I alighted from my train at Wandsworth Town station. The forecast is for some sunny spells today. that will be nice, but it will be colder than yesterday. I thought yesterday was pretty chilly, and so today I put on a sweater before leaving for work. Maybe it was just because I was wearing a sweater, but I don't think it is any colder today. Perhaps it was the wind chill that made yesterday feel cold rather than the actual air temperature. I think it is less windy today. That would be the calm before the storm. Tomorrow is forecast to be very wet and windy !

 Sometimes it seems that reality conspires to depress you. I left work a few minutes earlier than the usual slightly early, and I still missed a bus by a few seconds. The bus I finally caught I could have probably caught if I had left work a few seconds late. It only managed to get me to Clapham Junction in time for the 16:16 train to Waterloo. That train is the last possible train I can get if I am to arrive in time to get the 16:29 train from Waterloo East. Even then the timing is very close. Last night we seemed to arrive at Waterloo about a minute late. I still managed to catch the 16:29 train, but it was a really mad dash, and I only managed to jump on the last carriage with seconds to spare. Ideally I like to be towards the front of the train lined up with the exit at Catford Bridge station. Being at the back of the train means a long walk to get out of the station when it is an eight, or even ten car train.

 When I finally had got home I decided I needed some hot food quickly. For speed, I tried a couple of tins of soup I had recently bought. They were both from the Heinz "soups of the world" range. The first was Mexican chilli beef and bean soup. It was like a thin, mild, chilli con carne, but rather pleasant. The second was a Morrocan lamb soup. That was not so nice, though perfectly acceptable. The thing I didn't like about it was the aroma of cinnamon coming from it. It was too similar to sticky cinnamon buns, and that did not seem quite right for a meat dish.

 Later on I cooked some chicken thighs. They turned out really well. I had bought some spicy sauce containing lots of tomatoes. I think it was described as Tunisian on the jar. I didn't bother to read any of the usage suggestions on the jar, but I guess it was meant to be used in something like a casserolled dish. I decided to just pour it over the chicken and put it in the oven to roast. After 30 - 40 minutes cooking on a high heat the chicken was well done, but still nice and moist. The sauce had added a nice crust to the top of the meat, and the bottom of the meat was swimming in delicious gravy (sadly too fatty to use more than a spoonful over the meat). I am going to try this method of cooking chicken again with some curry sauces. I reckon the results could be delicious.

 It was still a few minutes to 8 pm when I turned everything off downstairs and went up to bed. I did not intend to go to sleep straight away, and took a magazine to read. As 8.30 pm approached I was thinking of turning the light out to go to sleep, but the phone rang. After dealing with that I had to read a little more to get back in the mood for sleep. I eventually turned off the light at 9 pm, and was asleep very soon after that. I did not sleep all that well, and had to get up twice in the night for a pee. Just to rub salt in the wound, the cats became very active just before 5 am, and I ended up getting up to deal with them very soon after.

 Once again I am not sure how I feel this morning. My nose got very stuffy for a while before I left for work, but out in the fresh air it seemed OK. Now I am at work in the warm I think it is beginning to run again. I am not sure how this will pan out, but Jane better get herself on standby in case my brow gets fevered and needs mopping !
Tuesday 29th January 2008
06:47 GMT
It's cold and dark, but there is no fog like yesterday morning. In fact the sky is clear and a half moon is shining brightly. There is even a hint of lightness on the eastern horizon. Maybe today will be a sunny day, although to hope that it will be sunny all day is probably over optimistic.

 I didn't make it up to bed by 8 pm as I intended to do last night, but I was in bed, and fast asleep, by 8.30 pm. I slept well for four hours and then woke up to go to the toilet. I was soon asleep again and then slept for another four hours. I woke up at that inconvenient time when it is not worth going back to sleep again, but is too early to get up. After another visit to the toilet I could have tried to get another thirty, or forty minutes sleep, but by that time I had disturbed the cats and they had started to become active. I did get back in bed, but made no real attempt to get back to sleep, and I got up ten minutes later.

 So how do I feel after getting a full eight hours sleep ? I am not sure really. In a perfect world I think I would have some breakfast and go back to bed again, but work beckons, and in another fifteen minutes, or so, I will be setting out to get the late train to work. I guess I don't feel as tired as I did yesterday morning, but I still feel under par. Maybe I am still on the threshold of a cold that may never come. Alternatively I could find that later in the day my nose starts to run, or something. I was tempted to come home early from work yesterday because of how I felt, but although I felt bad it did not really feel as if I was deteriorating. So I stuck it out, and indeed, I never got any worse. Today will be similar. If I feel I am getting worse I may come home early, but I hope that I will be feeling better and not worse. When I stop and consider how I feel it does not seem to be significantly worse than how I feel on as many as 50% winter mornings prior to going to work. On most of those days I usually feel far better once I am in work and have warmed up.

 Tonight I am planning another early night. Maybe not quite as early as last night, but I feel it would be good to be in bed, and asleep before 9 pm. So that is what I will aim for. If nothing special grabs my attention it is possible that I will be in bed a lot earlier, but it is worthless making predictions now when anything could happen during the course of the day.
Monday 28th January 2008
19:15 GMT
 The main feature of this morning's weather was the fog. In places it was just a thick mist, while in other places, particularly alomgside the River Thames, it was really dense. The air felt really cold and damp, and it was most unpleasant travelling to work. By mid morning most of the fog had lifted, and there were a few times in the early afternoon when it looked as if the sun could break through. It never did, and when I came home the sky was just an unbroken, almost textureless, grey colour. It's difficult to say when it got dark tonight. When I got off the train it was like twilight, and it had not really been much lighter than that when I left work. I came home via Tesco and there was still some grey light left in the sky when I got home. Tomorrow it is forecast to be a bit warmer than today, and there is a chance we will see some sunshine, but probably not that much of it.

 Out of all the things I could have done on Sunday I never planned to do what I eventually started doing in the late afternoon. That was to transfer some old VHS tapes onto DVD. As this can only be done in real time I only did three tapes (and one of those was only a 25 minute recording). Now that we are so used to DVD quality playback it comes as a bit of a shock to remember just how crappy VHS recordings used to look. I have quite a good quality, "up market", Panasonic VHS machine, and I was playing back pre-recorded tapes which, in theory, should contain the highest quality recordings, but compared to DVD they were just so naff. The problem is not so much with the definition, or sharpness, of the playback, but the horrible grain and noisy colours. It is true that DVD pictures are sharper, but it the cleanliness of the picture that really shows through. The new high definition disks, Blu-ray, or the clumsily titled and failing format, HD DVD, may offer even more sharpness, but I do have doubts that the improvement will be so noticable compared to the radical improvement of DVD over VHS video. I would like a Blu-Ray disk writer for a PC, or maybe even a set top player, but only as a gadget. I cannot see any other motivation for getting one until the prices drop to equal similar DVD equipment.

 Before I forget. I must apoligise if you couldn't see the picture that accompanied my writing yesterday. It seems that somehow I managed to set the wrong permissions for the directory it was stored in (although I would swear it was working when I first used it).

 I have been feeling very rough today. This morning I was suffering in a similar way to the effect you get from drinking 12 pints of strong lager followed by a Vindaloo the night before. In fact I did not eat any curry yesterday, and I certainly did not have any booze. I woke up at 4.50 am this morning with a bit of a stomach ache, and a hangover like headache. As the day wore on the two aches would sometimes alternate, and sometimes both would afflict me. There were times when I felt free from pain. On top of that I felt very fatigued. If there had been anywhere warm and comfortable to lie down at Waterloo Station I would definitely have done so on my way to work. Even coming home felt like hard work. I am aimimg to get up to bed by 8 pm this evening, and that is only twenty minutes way now. Maybe if I can get a good nights sleep I will feel more perky tomorrow, but maybe not. I have had some hints that I could be about to go down with a cold. There have been times today when my nose has felt stuffier than usual, and in danger of starting to pour. So far nothing has happened, and with luck nothing will. Of course if I do come down with a cold I am expecting Jane to come and be my nurse. Her comments to me, via my comments page, do suggest that she would like to make my life better, and maybe mopping my fevered brow could be one thing that could help.
Sunday 27th January 2008
05:52 GMT
 It's too dark to say anything much about the weather at this time. It is cold and dry outside, but that is all I can say so far. The temperature over the last week or so has been above average for January, but that still hasn't stoped it feeling really chilly on some days. Yesterday was bright and sunny for much of the day, and yet the wind made it feel quite cold.

 I had a good time with Aleemah yesterday. After I had met her at the station we did a little shopping before we came back here. Aleemah bought some stuff from Superdrug, and I bought some stuff from Argos.. I don't like shopping in Argos because it is always very busy, and Saturday afternoon is possibly the worst time of all. It was made worse by the fact that I ordered a 4 Draw plastic storage unit that was the last one they had in stock. It appears it was hidden right at the back of the warehouse somehwere, and I thought the next ice age would start before they found it for me.

 As I have already mentioned, I did a lot of housework in preparation for Aleemah's visit. This really translates into "a lot of hoovering". The trouble I am finding now is that some bits of the house are now getting so good that it is becoming slightly frustrating noticing the bits I have missed. My new vacuum cleaner works well, but I was more used to the old upright cleaner. This new one has to be physically pushed around and it can get tiring. So having apparently finished vacuuming a large area of carpet only to find you have missed a little splodge of fluff is irritating. However thing are still improving, and one day the whole house will look sort of passable - and spring (when the traditional spring cleaning allegedly takes place) has still not arrived.

 I have had another comment from Jane :-
New guestbook entry from 01/26/2008 at 15:13:18
You seem to view your world in black and white with one or two shades of grey. If only you opened your mind you could see so much more and perhaps be happier and not be so self obsessed.
Dear Jane, you seem to have this all wrong. I most definitely operate on a 4 bit greyscale that gives 16 shades from black to white. It seems perfectly adequate to convey a close to accurate picture of the world around me. Take at look at this picture that is also a 4 bit picture......
4 bit greyscale image of Trafalgar SquareAlthough the foreground is a little dark, it is easy to recognise the fountains in Trafalgar Square, to see texture in the water, detail in the clouds, and to recognise the man in the foreground thinking "why is he pointing that camera at me ?".

 I would suggest that it is opening my mind that is letting all the crap in. I would quite possibly be a lot happier if I could close my mind and live in a world of my own. There is some evidence for this.  While I am immersed in a good book I am able to shut off the outside world and exist in an alternative reality. There is ugliness inside books, but they are written from our heroes point of view. So you know it will all be "happy ever after" at the end.

 The other disadvantage of opening my mind is that I might come to wonder who you are Jane. For now I just blindly assume you are the same Jane that I had a brief fling with last summer, because that is the easiest thing to do despite doubting that she ever knew of the existance of this blog.  In some moments of clarity I do wonder if your alternate nom de plume is a certain Charles Dickens, or ........... Your exact identity does not really matter. I just thank the Lord (Lord Longford probably) that you have not attempted to introduce me to religion. Now that would really make me depressed.

 Sunday, by tradition, is a day of rest, and I think I am going to try and do some resting today. I will need to go to Tesco to buy some stuff, but that is the only essential reason not to fully rest today.  However I may well be tempted to do more housework/tidying up. There is that 4 drawer pastic storage unit I bought yesterday still to be filled with assorted crap, and I have still not found the courage/enthusiasm to take my laptop apart again.  With one definite thing to do, and a few variable, I can add one more definite. I am going back to bed now !
Saturday 26th January 2008
11:07 GMT
 It's looking like a nice day so far. The air is a bit chilly still, but the sun is out and the sky is mostly blue. This is a lot like yesterday. Eventually the clouds began to build up, and the sunset was obscured by clouds.

 I stayed half an hour extra at work to make my time up last night, but I still managed to get to Waterloo East to catch the 17:17 train home. While I was on the train, making it's first stop at London Bridge, I got a text message from Kevin asking about drinking last night. After a few text messages had gone back and forth we decided on an early drink at 7 pm.

 We met in The London & Rye, the Catford Wetherspoons pub, and had a good drink. It was a "four pinter" with an added short for the journey home. Kevin had come straight from work and still had his laptop with him. He had heard that the pub had free WiFi, and had earlier enquired if it was OK to plug his laptop into the mains if he was lucky enough to get one of the few seats near a mains socket. The manager, or someone, had told him he did not know of any official company policy about that, and that he didn't really care. Eventually we managed to get a seat near a mains socket and plugged in, and logged on. It made for an interesting evening sitting in the pub "surfing the net".

 We left the pub sometime around 10 pm, and I made my way home where I had my dinner. I guess I was in bed sometime around 11 pm, and asleep very soon after that. I slept quite well, but woke up at 6.30 am with quite a hangover. Fortunately the hangover has now subsided, and I managed to do all my housework. I am now waiting to hear from Aleemah to say that she is on her way to Catford.
Friday 25th January 2008
08:18 GMT
 Clear skies overnight has meant this morning has started off very chilly. The temperature did not drop low enough for any frost to appear, but their is some mist about that is making the sky very hazy. Apart from the mist the sky is otherwise fairly clear, but it is not as bright as it could be. I hope that as the sun continues to rise the mist will evaporate, and we will get full sunshine before any clouds appear. The day is set to be dry, or so the forecasts predict, and it would be really nice if the sun stayed out until sunset. Yesterday there was quite a lot of sunshine, and the sun is starting to feel warm. As I was having my after lunch fag I noticed that even the brickwork of the building was starting to feel warm where it was soaking up the rays of the sun, and the outside of the door was actually feeling almost hot.

 The skies stayed clear until after I got home. I should have stayed late last night, but I could not miss out on the opportunity to travel home in full daylight. It was a mad rush to get the 16:29 train at Waterloo East, but I made it. The sun had officially set (I think) by the time I got to Catford, but the western horizon was so bright that I found I was casting a very feint shadow as I walked to my front door. Tonight I really ought to stay late and make up my lost time, but if it is still sunny at 4 pm it may be a very had decision to make.

 I had fully intended to be fast asleep in bed by 8 pm last night, but it didn't happen, although it nearly did. While my dinner was cooking, I decided to put the finishing touches to my bedroom PC. The one thing I wanted working was the TV card in it. Linux didn't seem to even detect it, and so I rebooted into Windows. Windows did not detect it either. So I swapped the PCI slot is was plugged into, and this time it was detected OK. I briefly tried it out using Windows just to see how well it performed ( I was only using a bit of dangling wire as an aerial), and then rebooted into Linux. This time it was detected, and although it was not completely straightforward to set it up, I soon had TV pictures on the computer monitor. Although it is unusual to have to restart Linux when installing stuff, I found that a restart was needed for the TV card to work. With a reasonable picture on ITV 1 I had a go at recording some TV on the computer. The options were a bit limited, and I suspect that with the limited power of a mere 700 MHz Pentium III processor anything more sophisticated would probably not work anyway (for instance xvid encoding in real time). After a few attempts at recoding I finally got a good clean avi file that played back almost perfectly. The two main problems were that I had started off with a less than ideal picture because I did not have a decent aerial signal, and after getting no sound on a previous attempt I found that the input control on the mixer panel was set to zero. I turned the input level up to maximum, and found that my recording now had sound, but it was over recorded and distorted. Of course all this is rather academic. I am unlikely to actually use the TV card, let alone make any recordings from it, but it is good to know that I can if I want to.

 With the PC now fully I screwed the case back on and installed it back into my bedroom. As per my intentions, I went up to bed very soon after 8 pm, but I made the mistake of turning on the bedroom PC again. I just thought I would check a couple of things before I turned it off and got into bed - FATAL MISTAKE ! I was playing with it for nearly an hour, but I did manage to get it turned off by about 9 pm. I had already brushed my teeth, and was already half undress ready for bed. Within a few seconds I was in bed, and asleep a few minutes after that.

 I had a good nights sleep (if you don't count getting up for a pee a 3 am), and although I never made up for the previous few late nights, I do seem to feel a bit fresher this morning. Things were definitely happening a lot (subjectively) faster than yesterday morning, and I surprised myself by finding that I had washed and dressed with time to spare before leaving for my proper train. On the way to work I felt a curious mix of feelings like I should not have as much energy and enthusiasm as I apparently had. That is not to say that I was a whole bundle of energy, but I kept finding I was walking faster than I felt I should have been able to do.

 Tonight I have several things to do. I need to go home via Tesco to pick us such essentials as new toilet paper, as well as the usual cat food, and maybe some stuff for when Aleemah visits tomorrow (assuming she does). Then when I get home I want to make a start on doing a bit of housework so I do not have to rush so much in the morning. Finally I hope that I get sufficient advanced warning that there is drinking going on to go out for a few pints.
Thursday 24th January 2008
06:42 GMT
 The birds are singing and it seems to be a dry morning. Hopefully the sun will be out later. The day is forecast to be dry with sunshine, and I am keeping my fingers crossed that it will turn out like the forecast. Yesterday was dry, but it was a fairly grey day, and I can't recall the sun appearing at any time.

 After my late start yesterday I had to stay late at work (no one actually forced me to do so, but it gives a good impression - I think). I didn't fully make up my time because I was determined not to waste time at Waterloo. My connection was almost too tight, but I made the 17:17 train from platform C at Waterloo East with about 30 seconds to spare. That train is one of the semi fast services that miss out Lewisham. It doesn't save that much time, but it makes for a more comfortable journey because you don't get even more people crowding on the train at Lewisham.

 I had hoped that I might see Patricia last night (which would have meant getting a train that did stop at lewisham), but she was busy and I went straight to Catford. I called in at Tesco on the way back from the station, and bought the usual neccessities (catfood etc.). Once home I fed the cats and fed myself - in that order !

 Having fed myself, and allowed a little time for the food to settle down, I tackled my bedroom PC again. I abandoned Mepis Lite Linux and decided to try Kubuntu instead. My attempt at installing that failed because, I think, the DVD installation disk had not burnt properly. Although I could run it in live CD mode it kept getting stuck during the installation process. So I gave up on that and tried PCLinuxOS. That installed perfectly, and the PC seemed fairly nippy when running it. My download of PCLinuxOS is a little old and that meant there were quite a few updates to install.  That took a fair amount of time, and after that was done, checking it would reboot again before I proceeded further, I customised my choice of applications. It was exceedingly late by the time I was satisfied enough to go to bed. In fact it was gone 11 pm, and I was feeling exceptionally tired.

 This morning I feel not just tired, but totally knackered. To make matters worse I seem to be having one of my periodic episodes of a runny bottom. However that did get me out of bed sufficiently early that I should be able to get my second choice train this morning - I hope. That gets me into work only about 30 minutes late, and I should be able to leave again in time to catch the 16:55 train at Waterloo East. That is the train that I often have to catch anyway when I miss the 16:29. I think my major plan for tonight is to get some sleep ! Unless some important distraction arises I may make it into bed by 8 pm, and if I sleep well I hope I will feel rather brighter in the morning than I do this morning.
Wednesday 23rd January 2008
06:53 GMT
It's another cold morning, but once again it is dry outside if you discount some dew.I think more rain is due today and I hope I can avoid it while I am travelling. It would be handy if I could avoid during fag breaks too ! Yesterday turned out far better than I could have hoped for. It was sunny for most of the day. The only slight problem with that, and I shouldn't even call it a problem, was that from inside work it looked to be really nice outside. The reality was that is was still quite cold, and although not too bad when the wind droped, it was often distinctly chilly when moving from the hot workshop into the cold outside air.

 The clear skies continued beyond sunset, and I had a most pleasant journey home from work. I was able to make it all the way home in almost, but not quite, daylight. It was still certainly light enough to read by, and for all the colours to look correctly saturated, for at least a few minutes after I got indoors. In fact I think that had I got the leter train home there would still have been a fair amount of light in the sky when I arrived at the station, and even possibly when I got home. By then some of it would be mooonlight. I am not sure if the moon was full last night, or the night before, but as I got off the train last night the moon was looking very big and full.

 My new hard drive for my bedroom PC arrived at work yesterday, and I remembered to bring it home with me - which is more than I did with my mobile phone. I was so intent on remembering to grab the bag with the hard drive in it when I left work that I seem to have forgotten to pick up my mobile phone, or at least I hope that is what happened. In a little over an hours time I will find out.

 With such a big hard drive to play with, in such an undemanding situation, I decided I would make my bedroom PC dual boot. I thought that maybe Windows 98SE would be more contemporary for the age of the hardware and started to install that first. It wasn't long before I had my first blue screen, althougfh it wasn't the famous Blue Scrteen Of Death, but another error message. From then on things went downhill.and I thought it would be better to install Windows XP instead. At least I knew that worked before the old hard disk failed. Incidently, when I took out the old hard disk I found I had scrawled a note on it - "Fails when hot !". In such an undemanding role I obviously thought I could get away with using it in the bedroom PC. Windows XP seemed to install OK, although I didn't attempt to go beyond just the standard installation.

 For the second operating system I chose Mepis Lite. It was already getting late when I started to install that. I hoped that it would install nice and quickly, but it had some problems right from the beginning. It did not seem to like the onboard, Intel, graphics chip and the installation stalled for 30 seconds while it changed it's strategy. At that point it wasn't truly the installation because like many modern Linux distros it first ran in live CD mode, and only once it was running like that, and you could see what you would get once it was installed, did it give you the opportunity to install to the hard disk.

 Once Mepis was up and running I chose the "Install Me" option and installed to the hard disk. Upon first boot from the hard disk it got stuck for 30 seconds while identifying the graphics card, but booted up OK otherwise. One of the first things I did was to install all the updates. With over 200 files to update it was going to take some time, and I was already well past my bedtime. So I left it updating and went to bed. This morning when I tried it I found that it had corrupted the graphics card files to the extent that I could no longer get a graphical desktop up. I now have two options. The first is to try and repair the graphics (X-Server) configuration, or, second, try another distro. Tonight I will be trying another distro - either Kubuntu of PCLinuxOS.

 Aftert staying up so late last night I feel knackered this morning. Everything seemed to be happening in slow motion so I missed my first train, and subsequently missed my second train. I must get the next one !!! It looks like I will be staying late at work tonight to make up the time, and then I may see if Patricia is available for an after work drink.
Tuesday 22nd January 2008
06:55 GMT
 This morning it is colder than it has been of late. Fortunately it is dry, and according to the weather forecast we should see some sunshine today. I have high hopes that the sunshine may last until sunset, and most of my journey home from work will be in daylight. Yesterday was a very grey day. Only once do I recall the sun almost coming out. That was as I left work to go home. It was a rotten tease because by the time I got to Waterloo station it was pouring with rain. For a short while the rain was exceedingly heavy. While I was under part of the platform canopy which has a steel roof it sounded like copious amounts of gravel being dropped on it ! By the time I reached Catford the rain had stopped, and I was able to complete my walk home in the dry.

 After feeding both myself, and the cats, I decided to have a look at the Apple laptop I blew up on Sunday. I managed to identify a couple of components that have gone short circuit, and I am fairly certain I can find something to replace them. If I am extraordinarily lucky that could be enough to cure the problem, but it does sound wildly optimistic. At some point I will have to lug the mainboard, and maybe the display into work to use the tools there to extract the faulty components, but I don't know when things will get quiet enough to do that. Work has been very busy recently, and there seems no end to it for now.

 One thing I did find time for at work yesterday was to order a new hard dsik for my bedroom computer. It should be delivered today so I will probably spend some time tonight installing the new operating system on that machine. The hard dsik I ordered is very big for such a rarely used machine. Originally I thought of ordering an 80 GB drive, but it was only a few more Pounds for a 160 GB drive. So that is what I got. I am now trying to think if I have a smaller drive in some other machine that could be swapped over.

 Last night I got bitten by a flea. I am pretty certain it was one of Smudges. Nelly rarely leaves the house and it is unlikely she would have picked up any fleas from any wild life. So this morning I have made myself late again by chasing the cats around to treat them both with flea drops. It is surprising how much Nelly hates the idea of a few drops of liquid on the back of her neck. She may be getting old now, and seems to be fairly deaf, but she can still recognise the dispenser for the flea drops. Smudge is slightly more tolerant, and has not learned to spot the flea drops yet. So she did not kick up a fuss about the flead drops in particular, but she thought she was being threatened with being picked up - which she hates ! Well, the deed is now done, and even now the cats have just about forgotten the trauma. Tonight, when I get home, they will be more interested in food, and will have forgotten the nasty man who put cold drops on their necks.
Sunday 20th January 2008
17:58 GMT
 It has been a fine day. If there was any rain it was so short and brief that I did not notice it. The temperature has been up as high as 14 - 15 C. The wind has been light, and there was almost some sunshine. I don't think the sun ever fully came out out, but at a little before midday, while walking back from the shops, there was enough brightness from where the sun could have been shining to cast a weak shadow.

 Most of the weekend has been pretty good. On Saturday I did some more spring cleaning. I could have done more, but the wheelie bin is now full, and there is no room for any more junk until it is emptied on Thursday morning. I gave the stairs another good hoovering and they are beginning to look quite good. The carpet will never completely recover, and some day I will have to replace it, but it could be a lot worse.

 The curtains in my bedroom were getting really bad, and had not been washed in far too long. So I pulled out a spare pair of curtains and gave them a wash yesterday. Like the curtains I recently hung in the living room, they were smelling a bit musty after being stored in the cupboard for many years. After a good wash they now smell sweet again, and today I hung them in my bedroom. To complement the new curtains I went out and bought two new lamp shades for the bedroom.The old ones were very dusty, and were coloured deep blue. The new ones are white, and together with the lighter coloured curtains, the room looks quite bright now. I am not sure if that is a good thing because it is now not quite so cosy as it was, but I always have the option of changing back to the old colours now both the lamp shades, and the curtains have been washed and cleaned.

 One other home improvement I made today was to buy some new bathroon mats. The old ones are now washed, but they will take some time to dry before I can use them. The new mats were just a matter of convenience so I do not have to force dry them whenever I wash them.

 I haven't done that much technical stuff this week, but what I did do was both good and bad. I finally got a working installation of , with the desktop, working on my test machine. I initially had trouble installing because I was trying to use a rapidly failing hard disk. An alternative hard disk did the trick, but still the installation was very slow. It runs pretty slow as well. So some time I will try Linux Mint with the desktop. It uses less resources, and potentially should be more responsive on my old, and slow 450MHz Pentium III test PC.

 I have had some notable, and tragic failures over the weekend. The first failure was when I was trying to install on my bedroom PC. That machine has a 700 MHz Pentium III processor in it, and should not be that slow. It was running Windows XP, but I had the urge to convert it to Linux, and Mepis Lite seemed like a good idea for it. One problem I was hoping to cure was very low sound output. I was not sure that I had the right drivers for the onboard sound chip when running Windows XP, and I was curious to see what would happen when Linux took control. It was no improvement, but I caried on anyway. Unfortunately I got about 47% into the installation when an ominous knocking sound came from the hard disk. It seem another old hard disk has failed on me.

 The real tragedy this weekend concerns an old Apple laptop I was given as much as a year ago, or maybe even before that. Rather than attempt to repair my current new laptop I thought I would take another look at the Apple laptop. The symptoms were very simple - it would not even hint at starting up. With very little information to go on about what was inside the machine I gave it a good looking over, but could not see anything amiss. Today I had another look. This time I think I spotted a really tiny hairline crack in some soldering. I resoldered that and the machine started to work. This was pretty amazing, but I still had the problem of trying to work out how to put it all together again. When I had originally looked at it I left it in "kit form" in a box. Putting it back together became a bit of an experiment. Like an idiot I was trying to work out how a shielding plate was fitted while the machine was still powered up. It seems I short circuited something and the unit is now dead again. There may be some hope for a cure. From the growly ticking noise I can hear from the power circuits I have deduced that there is a short circuit somewhere. Nothing has "exploded" so I may be able to identify the faulty component if I find which one it is. It is a job for another day though. I have a feeling that if I can identify, and repair the fault, I will leave all the screening plates off. I am sure they are not needed for the basic functioning of the unit, but it may radiate a bit of excess radio noise. A little extra noise is something I could live with if the unit works - provided it is not truly excessive and wipes out all radio reception in the neighbourhood !

 Tonight I am going to try for an early night. I am thinking of going to bed around 8 pm and trying a little reading in bed. It will be a good test of my brighter bedroom. Having already descibed most the weekend I will have nothing to write about tomorrow, but I may write about the weather, and perhaps report on any strange dreams I have had.
Saturday 19th January 2008
05:44 GMT
 It seems to be dry outside, although at this time of the morning I have not been outside to see what it's like out there. The forecast is for lots of rain today, but maybe it will not be too bad. There was rain forecast for many days during last week, but there were plenty of days when there was little, or no, rain. The downpour on Wednesday night, while I was safely on the bus, was enough rain for one week !

 I thought I was going to leave work early last night, but it didn't really happen. It has been busy at work, and the general tiredness that overcomes you at the end of the week, plus some easy distractions, meant that I fell behind with some of the stuff I wanted to get done. The distractions were work as well, but were of stuff that was of a lower priority than the stuff I should have been doing, but I can never resist showing off my superior knowledge of analogue electronic techniques to the university educated developement guys (who know lots of digital stuff, but are really rusty with some of the more basic electronic stuff).

 I did have it in mind to try and leave work early enough to catch an even earlier train at Waterloo East station. I think there was one at around 16:09, but I didn't leave work until a few minutes before I would normally leave anyway. That was early enough to get my 16:29 train home from Waterloo East, but it was a close run thing. The traffic through Wandsworth slowed my bus down, and I just missde a train from Clapham Junction station. The next train got me to Waterloo in time for a fairly fast, but not panic fast, walk to Waterloo East station for the 16:29 from platform C. If I had got the train I just missed at Clapham Junction I would have arrived at Waterloo with enough spare time to grab a quick smoke, but, alas, I couldn't spare the time for that.

 It was very cloudy as I waited the few minute for my train, but there was still plenty of slightly grey daylight around. As I travelled towerds Catford the sky got darker and took on a sort of violet tinge. It looked slightly peculiar, although the colour outside was probably more a result of my eyes adjusting to the flourescent lighting in the train. During the ride I heard from Aleemah. I didn't realise that she had been off sick from work for the past few days, and she is still not 100% even now. So unfortunately I won't be having her company today.

 When I got off the train at Catford there was still quite a lot of dusky light around. Even as I approached my front door I am sure that there was enough light coming off the grey sky that I could have easily have navigated my way through the streets if all artificial lighting failed. It wasn't long after I got indoors that the light completely faded. As you can tell, I am totally obsessed with the exciting prospect of the days getting longer. Even if it was snowing, it would still feel like spring once I start getting home in full daylight, and not the dusky light lasting a little while after the sun has set. Spring is good. The sap rises, and it's time for..........well, it's time for a lot of things.

 One of the things I thought I would be doing last night was boozing. It didn't happen, but it could have. Kevin, who I was to be going drinking with, had got stuck on a job in Essex, and was very late getting home. With no news of his impending arrival I could not wait any longer to have some dinner. Had we been in the pub earlier I would have had some dinner after the pub, but at 8 pm my hunger incited me to get some dinner cooking. I was half way through that cooking when I finally heard from Kevin. He had arrived home, and said he could probably meet me in the pub at 8.45 pm if I was still interested. By that time I thought it was too late. I didn't want to rush out on a recently filled stomach, and so I declined the boozing session. Instead I watched some TV and later, read in bed for an hour or so.

 With no Aleemah around today it looks as if I will have to make my own entertainment. Today could be the day when I will dismantle my new laptop to see if I can shed any light on the battery charging problem, or maybe I could clear up some crap to finally install my new laser printer. Maybe I could do something completely different. With no particular imperative to do anything at all I will most probably make it all up as I go along.
Friday 18th January 2008
07:03 GMT
 I can see a few spots of rain on the cars outside, but I am not sure if they are from some earlier rain, or if the rain is just starting. Hopefully it is the former. I do not fancy travelling to work in weather similar to the worst of last night.....

I left work only a little early last night, but in plenty of time to make sure that I caught the 16:29 train from Waterloo East. My timing was very fortuitous. It seemed fairly gloomy as I left work, and as I waited for a bus the sky got increasingly dark. My bus finally arrived and I got on it. We had only gone a few hundred years before the rain started. In a short while the rain became heavier and heavier until at it's peak it was like a major cloudbust complete with a few flashes of lightning. The bus made fairly slow progress, and by the time we arrived at Clapham Junction station the rain had eased off to little more than heavy drizzle. I hardly got wet at all during the short walk from the bus stop to the station itself. I sheltered for a minute or two in the subway before walking in even lighter drizzle to the end of the platform. As my train pulled into the station the sky on the left hand side of train, which was roughly to the north/north west, became bluer and bluer. As we pulled into Waterloo station there could have been sunshine had the sun been a little higher in the sky.

 I had arrived at Waterloo early enough to take a slow, easy, stroll to platform C at Waterloo East station where I awaited in full daylight for the 16:29 train. During the ride the sun slowly got lower and lower in the sky, and by the time we reached Lewisham is was obvious that the sun was some way below the horizon. That still left a fair amount of light in the western sky, and even once I had alighted from the train at Catford there was still some dusky daylight left. I went home via Tesco, and even after that delay the western horizon still had a distant bright glow. By the end of the month going home should be the pleasurable experience that it should be, but from now on, any time the sky is reasonably clear of clouds it will still be fairly pleasant.

 I didn't do much last night, but I did receive a comment on this blog in my email inbox. It was from Jane, who it's good to hear from again. Quoting my blog entry about Wednesday night :-
"I bought a nice greasy kebab on the way home".
She wrote :-
"i hope itclogs up ur arteries you selfish old. man what a sado"

 Have no fear Jane, my arteries are already clogged. That is why, until recently, a rush to the station in the morning brought chest pains and tingling arms. It is more than likely I was close to death a few times, but I have taken a few steps to keep myself going for a little while yet. The greasy kebab, which was my only meal on Wednesday apart from an apple, a pear, and a satsuma at lunchtime, was one such attempt to unclog my arteries. You see calling it a greasy kebab was just using the vernacular. In fact, because I chose a shish kebab, rather than a doner, most of the grease was either burnt away while it was on the grill, or had otherwise dripped away. The final meat was possibly more fat free than other potential meals. I certainly felt fitter yesterday morning than I had at any time in the last couple of months. It is even possible that I have lost a few pounds since xmas, although my improvement in fitness is probably more to do with the legacy of last years 'flu finally leaving me rather than anything else. Of course I still am a sad old man because after shopping in Tesco last night, my dinner was bigger, and less healthy that it could have been. In fact it was all rather naughty, but I shan't reveal the details here for fear of shocking you even more.

 Tonight I am hoping to go for a drink with Kevin, and maybe Iain too. So as well as clogging my arteries I will be pickling my liver too !
Thursday 17th January 2008
06:54 GMT
It seems to be dry outside at the moment. It can't last - more torrential rain is forecast for today. Yesterday stayed dry all day, and there was some rather wonderful sunshine around the middle of the day. The sun, even at midday, is still very low in the sky, but yesterday afternoon the wind dropped and the sun did seem to radiate some pleasant warmth. For one or two of my fag breaks out on the fire escape, it did feel very pleasant.

 I left work late again last night. With yet another crisis on I stayed until 5 pm to help sort things out. So I had no hope of completing some of my journey back home in daylight. With few clouds in the sky I did note that at 4.46 pm there was still light coming through the windows at work. Had I been on my early train I would have been very close to Catford at that time, and may even had been alighting from the train while there was still some dusky daylight left. I am going to try and make sure that I leave work at least a tiny bit early tonight, although I may claim more of the time I am owed by going home as much as an hour early tomorrow. If the weather is as bad as it has been forecast, there seems little hope of seeing any daylight no matter how early I leave work today.

 When I got to Waterloo, last night, I had a thought that maybe Patricia had been working in central London. So I called her and found out my thought was wrong. She had been in London for the morning, but returned to her base in Lewisham in the afternoon. She was still working when I phoned, and planned to go shopping in Lewisham after work. She suggested that maybe we could meet up, and so we did. Getting from Waterloo East to Lewisham between 5.30 and 6 pm is not that easy. I had not really noticed it before, but a lot of trains skip Lewisham between those time, and it seems I had just missed one. I made the decision to get the first train to London Bridge and try from there. That did save me a few minutes, but the train I did get was held at signals just outside Lewisham station for what seemed like ages. Even when I did get off the train at Lewisham I had under estimated the time it takes to rush from the station to the pub. It was almost 6.30 when I finally got in the pub.

 Patricia seemed unfazed by my late arrival, and we had a good chat while I drunk two pints of Stella Artois, and she just had a cranberry juice. I am unsure what time we left the pub, but I was feeling really tired by then, but I was also feeling very happy. Despite feeling so tired I didn't really feel any rush to get home. Which is not to say I deliberately hung around. I did pop back into the pub for another quick scotch after seeing Patricia off on her bus home, but that was only because I needed to use their toilet before getting my own bus home.

 I bought a nice greasy kebab on the way home, although it wasn't actually that greasy. Most of the grease burns off when they put the skewers of meat on the barbecue. There was a lot of salad with it, and so in some strange parallel universe it might have been called a healthy meal. I know it was around 8.20 pm when I got home, and after feeding the cats, who thought I had deserted them, I sat down and watch some TV while I ate my kebab. I was in bed a lot later than I had intended in the morning, but in fact it was only a little after 9 pm.

 Postscript (08:45 GMT)

 I am at work now, and just as I walked the last few feet into work I felt the first few drops of very light rain. Although it was light by the time I got to Waterloo East, it has not really got any lighter, and the grey sky is casting a gloomy light every where.
Wednesday 16th January 2008
08:25 GMT
 At last ! A Dry morning. It's better than that. The clouds are well broken, and there should be some sunshine a bit later. It will not last though. More rain is forecast for later on, and maybe I will get soaked going home like I did last night.

 Going home last night was not that pleasant. I left work early enough that I should have been able to get the early train from Waterloo East. Unfortunately I did not catch that early train. Nor did I catch the one after that. It was not until 17:17 that I caught my train home. I was held up getting to Clapham Junction by a combination of a late arriving bus, a rather slow moving bus, and a fair amount of traffic congestion. My train arrived at Waterloo station from Clapham Junction station at 16:26, and three minutes is not enough time, no matter how fast you go, to get from the platforms at Waterloo to the platform at Waterloo East. So I didn't bother to rush, and went outside to have a fag. With plenty of time to spare I slowly made my way to platform B at Waterloo East where I thought I would waste five minutes sitting on the toilet. My plan was thrown seriously askew when I found the toilets closed because of a blocked drain. I still had over fifteen minutes before my next train, and didn't fancy just hanging around on a wet and windy, NON SMOKING platform. So I made the long, and by long I do mean nearly five minutes of fairly fast walking, walk to have a fag outside the station. I should have had enough time to finish my fag and get back to the platform in time to catch the 16:55 train, but after I had finished my fag I came to the conclusion that my previous idea of visiting the toilet was not such a bad idea at all, and that it would possibly an even better idea to definitely visit the toilet before getting on the train. I was as quick as I could be in the toilet, but not quick enough to get that next train. So I had another fag, and then made a slow stroll to the platform where I finally caught the 17:17 train.

 From about the time I initially arrived at Waterloo it started raining. At some times the rain was really heavy. After several visits to the outside to have a fag, and then some time waiting for my train, I managed to get pretty wet. It was still raining when I reached Catford, and I had to walk through medium heavy rain to finally get home. I was pretty soaked by the time I got in, and really looking forward to my roast beef and roast vegetables. I was so keen that I did not leave it long enough for them to get really hot. That did not matter because it was all pre-cooked, but it would have been even nicer had it been at the proper temperature. It was still extremely nice, and the beef was quite tender.

 I felt tired last night and managed to get myself into bed before 9 pm (but only by a few minutes). I fell asleep very quickly, and seemed to sleep quite well until 4.40 am. That was a very awkward time to wake up. I had intended to get up early to give myself enough time to wash my hair, but 5 am would have been early enough. As is quite usual when I wake up, I wanted a pee, and having got up to have that it didn't seem worthwhile going back to bed for fifteen minutes. So 4.40 am was the time I got up this morning !

 Having got up so early this morning I feel like I will be going to bed early tonight. Fortunately there is no drinking tonight because we are going to try for a Friday night drink instead. So maybe I will be going to bed soon after 8 pm tonight, but if I do I will probably do some reading in bed to relax me into sleep. 
Tuesday 15th January 2008
06:49 GMT
 It's wet outside ! There was a fair amount of overnight rain last night, and it seems that the rain will continue for some time. I just hope that when I leave for work I can find a window in the rain, and maybe get to the station reasonably dry. (Some hope !). High winds were also another feature of the weather forecast, although I have not noticed any as yet.

 The weather yesterday was not too bad. There was a fair amount of sunshine in the afternoon, and I had hoped that a lot of my journey home would have ben in daylight. Unfortunately there was a bit of a panic on at work and I stayed an extra hour. So it was well after sunset when I left. I noticed in the newspaper I was reading on the train that sunset was officially at 4.21 pm last night. I thought it would be a little later than that, but it is still heading in the right direction. I think it will be two minutes later tonight, and by the end of the week, if I manage to catch the 16:29 train from Waterloo East, I will at least start the final leg of my journey home before sunset. I still hope there will be enough light left in the sky for it to be light when I get off the train in Catford, and maybe, if the sky is very clear, to still have some dusky light left when I enter my house.

 I did very little when I got home last night. I cooked and ate some chilli con carne. I was cheating a bit because it was actually a Tesco "healthy eating" ready meal. I say "it", but in fact it was two of them, and they were a couple of days past their sell by date. It was a little difficult to tell if they smelled off or not. The chilli sauce was quite pungent, and they had a few basil leaves that also gave off a bit of a smell (at least I think they were basil leaves). I did wonder if they were OK to eat, and I still have doubts. I did go to bed with a strange feeling in my gut, but it never seemed to come to anything overnight. This morning I have been unusually flatulent, and that, and what usually goes with it, is why I thought I would hang on until the next train after y usual train, just to make sure I am OK.

 Tonight I can look forward to roast beef and roast vegetables. I picked up a fairly nice looking bit of beef on the reduced price counter in Tesco on Sunday. After eating a fairly big breakfast, and later on some snacks, on Sunday I decided not to overstuff myself with the roast beef so I didn't bother to cook it. I started cooking it, and the vegetables, last night, and all I have to do tonight is to reheat it, and give it a little more cooking (say, 20 minutes in a medium oven). I am quite looking forward to it. It is only a very small joint, and I know I will eat a fair bit of it. The leftovers may be big enough to make for another full meal on Wednesday night, or more likely I will cook up a nice beef stew.
Monday 14th January 2008
08:15 GMT
 The weather continues it's trend of being grey and gloomy. By now there could be bright sunshine outside, but instead it is still just plain grey. when I got off the train at Wandsworth Town station I walked under the adjacent bridge to get to the BP petrol station where I bought some drinks, and used their "facilities". All the street lighting appeared to have failed under that bridge, and there was still so little daylight that I could hardly see where I was going. I assume that the street lighting had failed because of all the rain we have had recently. Maybe that also explains why the traffic lights controlling traffic into the Wandsworth one way system from Old York Road (the road leading from the railway station, and used by my buses) seem to have been stuck on permanent red since last Friday. It is slightly peculiar because the traffic lights for all other roads joining the same junction appear to be working normally.

 The weekend seemed to be mostly dry during daylight hours, but there was rain at night, some of it fairly heavy. There was even some sunshine, and on both Saturday, and Sunday, the sky remained fairly clear until just after sun down. I noticed that there was still some reasonable daylight, just about enough to comfortably read by, until about 4.50 pm. By the end of this week, if the weather is kind to me, I have high hopes of just getting home after work in daylight. OK, it won't be bright sunshine, but it would be most pleasant to be able to see the sun set from indoors.

 There were a lot of things I might have done over the weekend, but for the most part I chose to be lazy, and get some extra sleep in. This may have been a good thing because, for a Monday morning, I don't feel too bad. Now, "not bad" is not the same as good, but under the circumstances it seems like an improvement on many mornings last week. One of the things I did on Saturday was to finally clear all the junk off the stairs and give them a reasonable vacuuming. I was quite pleased with the result. The stairs, or rather the carpet on them, looks a bit faded and worn in places, but it's not terrible by my standards, and should last a few more years yet. I was so pleased with the end result that I did something I have been meaning to do since 1983 (!). I popped into Poundstretcher after shopping in Tesco's, and bought a couple of cheap lamp shades. One is now on the lamp at the top of the stairs, and the other is on the lamp in the hallway. I think the effect is quite pleasing, and it is possible, that on first glance, the place looks a little more like a home rather than just the place where I crash out while not playing with computers. In fact, combined with other improvements that have slowly happened over the last 12 months, I am beginning to have hope that it will ultimately be possible to return my house back to it's (cough) former splendour !

 Of course a whole weekend can't have gone by without doing something experimental with my computers. This weekend it was the turn of Mepis Lite Linux to be installed on a spare hard disk connected to my 450 MHz Pentium III computer.  It seems to be another good distribution that works straight out of the tin. The only problem I had was that there were some bad blocks on the hard disk I chose to install it on. This necessitated using fsck, the linux file system checker, for the first time. After a long run it seemed to have marked the bad blocks, and everything proceeded normally. Using the rather good Adept package manager I was able to install and remove a couple of programs with just a couple of mouse clicks, and then do a complete update involving about 220 packages with just a few more mouse clicks. It does seem to work well on that old machine. I now have 5, or is it 6, hard disks with different operating systems installed on them for that PC, and sometime soon there will be yet one more when I try LinuxMint.
Saturday 12th January 2008
05:10 GMT
 This morning seems to be cold, dark, and damp. The weather forecast promises some weak, watery, sunshine today. So that should be something to look forward to.

 Yesterday's weather was a mix of the atrocious, and not too bad. While I was writing yesterday morning it had seemed as if the rain had stopped. How wrong I was ! I got soaked walking to the station, and I was totally saturated by the time I finally got to work. It was a bit of an eventful journey into work yesterday. Having missed my usual train I had to fall back on the next one. That train would get me into work a bit late, but not too late. However there were a few difficulties caused by a failed train at London Bridge, and signal failure in the Waterloo East area. As a result, from Lewisham onwards, we moved at what seemed little more than walking pace between every signal on the way, and stopping at each one for what seemed like ages, but was probably only a minute or two. I suppose it may only have added about fifteen minutes to the journey, but when you are already running late it was irritating. I arrived in work a lot later than I would have desired, and on top of that I was soaked down to the bones. I was not happy !

 Going home was a little better. In fact initially it was quite good. When I left work the clouds had broken up, and there was some weak sunshine from low down on the horizon. Unfortunately, as my train approached Waterloo, the clouds started to thicken again. By the time my train, the 16:29, left Waterloo East the sun, now already on, or beginning to go below the horizon, was obscured by clouds, and the world was, once again, a dark and dirty place. Just to rub in how depressing it all was I could still see tantalising glimpses of fairly light grey sky through the cracks of the almost black clouds for up to half the journey from Waterloo East to Catford. By the time I was approaching home, having detoured via Tesco, it was just starting to rain again.

 My evening was almost as I had predicted in the morning. I had a thoroughly lazy time. I was up a fair bit later than I thought I would be, but I did take a magazine to bed where I read until it was very late. It could have been almost 11.30 pm before I turned out the light and fell asleep very quickly.

 I slept quite well, I think, until about 4 am. At that time I was having a dream. In this dream I was on a train with a companion, who may have been Aleemah, or Jodie, and I think we were heading toward London. At one station a couple got on the train and sat down near us. The woman was very similar to a woman who works somewhere near to me, and is quite tall and attractive, but looks very fierce. Her companion was a small constipated looking man. After they had sat down he asked the person sitting in front of me why he was not wearing a seat belt. He said it in that whiney sort of voice that busybodies use. The person who he addressed said nothing, but did put his seat belt on (quite where the seat belts are on a train is something I hope to never find out in my lifetime). So I asked if I should be wearing my seat belt, and the small, constipated looking man said, in his whining voice, "yes". With that I turned around and asked all the other passengers, whom I seemed to know in some unexplianed way, if they were wearing their seat belt. Almost in unison they replied NO, and in a scene that could have come from a "Carry On" film they burst out laughing and there followed several minutes of cat calls, jeering and other jocularity, and maybe even a few hats thrown in the air. Well things settled down and we approached the final stop. Before getting off the train I wanted to go to the toilet. I didn't want to use the small toilet, and so I went to the one near the first class carriages. Things got even more peculiar here. As I dodged in through the narrow door I set off the hot air hand dryer (in much the same way that it is almost impossible to drop your trousers in the very narrow toilet of the Ctaford pie and mash shop without your elbow, or something else, triggering the hot air hand drier). Once through the doorway of the train toilet the walls became unfinished brick instead of the typical panelling you would see inside a train. The interior was also rather larger than could comfortably be accomodated inside a train carriage. I had no time to wonder about this strange twist in my dream reality. I just wanted to use the toilet. This was my cue that it would probably be better to wake up at that point.

 Upon waking up I realised that I did indeed need to use the toilet, but maybe not quite as desperately as I needed to in the dream. So I slowly hauled myself out of bed and went to the toilet. By which I mean I went to the bathroom where the toilet is, and only then, standing in the proscribed position, actually went to the toilet ! Predictably enough, all this aroused the curiosity of the cats, and they soon made it perfectly clear that while I was up they fancied some breakfast.

 So I got up, fed the cats, checked my email, let Smudge out into the garden, let smudge back in the house, and eventually sat down to write this.Very soon I will be back in bed where it would be nice to get another four hours of sleep. Maybe that will happen, maybe it won't, but that is what I am aiming for.

 Before I go back to bed I must leave you with some news that was very heartening to me. I really wish I could speak German, and fancied working in Berlin. To find out why, read this.
Friday 11th January 2008
06:50 GMT
 It is very wet outside, but I don't think it is actually raining now. Today will most probably be like yesterday. It was mostly gloomy with occasional rain, but hopefully I will not be rained upon as I wait for a train at Clapham Junction station tonight like I was last night. With the heavy clouds above, it was, to all intents and purposes, dark when I left work yesterday, and there is a good chance it will be very similar tonight. It will be rather nice when we get a bright sunny day, as tomorrow is supposed to be, when I am going home from work (which I won't be tomorrow because it is Saturday). On that first day when I leave work under a reasonably cloudless sky I am expecting to see daylight almost all the way home. That will make me feel quite good. Of course it will be even better when there is still some daylight for at least half an hour after getting home, but sadly that is still some weeks away yet.

 I didn't do much last night. I did exchange a couple of text messages with Aleemah though. She tells me that she is going out shopping to the January sales tomorrow, and I will not be seeing her. This is both good and bad. The bad side is obviously that I won't be seeing her. On the good side is that I get to save some money, I won't have to rush around cleaning the place up in the morning, and I could, if the need takes me, have a nice smelly curry tonight. So I can look forward to some extra hours in bed if I need them tomorrow, and I probably will, and the time to strip down my laptop to see if I can shed any further light on it's battery charging problem. The advantages of not seeing Aleemah do not compare with seeing her, but they are not bad !

 Tonight I can do one of two things. I can get to bed early - which is not a bad idea considering how I have felt lately - or I can stay up in the knowledge that I could make up the time in the morning. One problem is that I find it difficult to sleep in the morning, and so the early night, or at least going to bed at my more usual time, may be the better idea. There is a third way, and I feel it is one I will probably follow. I will go to bed with a book or magazine early, and read until it feels like time to sleep. Compromise, it's always best in the long run !
Thursday 10th January 2008
08:22 GMT
 There is a distinct lack of daylight this morning. There are really heavy clouds covering the whole sky, and the sun is hardly lighting them up at all. Fortunately I encountered very little rain on my journey into work. There were one or two drops here and there, but the best is probably waiting until I am on my way home again. there was some sunshine yesterday, but I am sure there will be no sign of it today.

 I went for a drink last night despite not really feeling like it. Two pints of Winter Warmer helped, but did not cure my reluctance to be there. So at 8.30 pm, just one hour after getting there, I received some flack for announcing that I was going home, but that was nothing compared to the disgust that I generated when I revealed that I was not going to attend a funeral.

 The funeral was of someone who could really be described as a friend of a friend. I know the guy, although I think I have only seem him about four times in the last twenty years (and fours times is being slightly generous by counting occasions that I don't clearly remember, but believe he was there), and he was an OK sort of guy. He seemed to like me, or at least I amused him, but we never really mixed in the same social circles. Now as a general rule I don't do weddings, funerals, christenings, or most large social gatherings. I have tried them all, with the exception of a christening, and I just don't like going to them. In the past I may have bowed to social pressure to attend this, that, or the other, but now I increasingly feel like an outcast anyway, I refuse to have a endure situations where I feel uncomfortable just because it is the presumed "right thing to do". Of course it increasingly leaves me more socially isolated, but that is something you learn to live with in the same way you learn to live with the physical aches and pains you gather as you age.

 From the chest and arm pains I got as I rushed to the station yesterday morning, it can't be long before my funeral - except that I don't want one. I want my body given over to medical voodoo (I was going to say science, but most doctors know more about voodoo than science). They can recondition and reuse any useful parts, and the leftovers can go to dissection classes. It is terribly important that doctors-to-be learn what is inside a body, because most of them probably don't have a clue what a body is, and what it's function is (a mobile life support system for a short lived brain). Once they have finished cutting me up they can flush the remains down the toilet. If there is any spare cash in my wallet when they find me dead, I wouldn't begrudge paying for one last round for those who want to gather to gossip about me, but forget going to funerals and all that crap.
Wednesday 9th January 2008
06:50 GMT
 The weather is very variable at the moment. Yesterday it was pouring with rain between about 10 am and 12 am, but after that the sun did break through, and it was sunny for much of the afternoon. As the sun went down it started to get cloudy again. It was just about daylight when I first reached the platform at Waterloo East on my way home from work a few minutes early for the 16:29 train. If it had been less cloudy it might even have been described as full daylight, but the sun was rapidly setting into a very red western sky. As I walked home from the station I am sure I felt a few light drops of rain, and it may well have rained overnight.

 That red sky last night suggests that today should be a good day. I am not totally convinced, and I can't recall what the weather forecast for today is. I am going to assume it will be similar to yesterday. It did seem a little warm wearing a jumper yesterday, and today I think I will take the bold move and leave it off. From then on it will depend on the wind. If it is windy, and it has been recently, I will probably feel cold when outside, but at least I will be more comfortable if the trains are hot inside.

 I feel very tired this morning. Every time I have planned to get to bed early something has happened to stop it happening. Tonight I will very probably be in the pub. I did try and get the drink changed to Friday night, but it seems I have been out voted. Maybe I will have to summon up all my will power and make sure I leave the pub a little before 9 pm at the latest.

 I should have got a reasonable nights rest last night. I was in bed, and may have even got to sleep by 10 pm, but it was a restless night filled with dreams. Some of those dreams I can remember only snatches from, but at least one I can remember in more detail - except nothing really happened in all that detail. It concerned a woman who I have not seen for many years now. She had the most beautiful bum there can be, and her name was Imogen. All we did was to walk and talk before we got back to my place. In this case "my place" was actually my mums house, where I used to live before moving here. "Things" were supposed to happen there, but it seemed far too crowded, and we could not get any privacy. In the end Imogen got bored and went home. She popped up again in another dream. This was set at work, and she had come in to discuss plans for a new unit she wanted made. As she was doing that I was distracted by a workmate who was drilling into the battery pack of another battery powered drill for some unexplained reason. As the drill penetrated the batteries a plume of steam belched out followed by a multi-coloured plume of sparks. As that died down I woke up. 
Tuesday 8th January 2008
08:52 GMT
 This morning it is dry, but rather cloudy. Yesterday's sunshine did happen, and some sun may break through this afternoon, although looking at the state of the sky now it would seem that the weather forecasters are being a little optimistic.

 I got my first hint that the seasons are really moving on last night. I left work a little late, maybe ten minutes, and it was definitely still daylight. I am not sure when the daylight faded out, but every day now it will stay light for two minutes longer (I think). It may only take another two or three weeks and I will be just about getting home while it is still light, and that will be a great boost to my pleasure.

 I tried my new battery in the new laptop last night. It worked ! No, that is not totally correct. the battery came with some charge in it, and it ran the laptop unaided for about five minutes. As the charge dwindled to nothing I plugged in the mains adaptor and carried on working. Unfortunately the new battery was not being charged either when the laptop was in operation, or when it was shut down. Maybe I have spent 40 that was not strictly needed, but the new battery has armed me with another tool to (one day) finally diagnose the problem. If I can diagnose the problem there is still not guarantee that I will be able to fix it, but I'll cross that bridge when I come to it.
Monday 7th January 2008
08:34 GMT
 The day has started off overcast, but at least the sky is a light grey colour instead of a dark gloomy grey. It is possible that the sun will break through later on. The most significant feature this morning is the wind. It is quite strong, and I can't recall seeing the wind generator on the local BP petrol station whizzing round quite as fast as this morning.

 For yet another morning I have had a touch of gut ache. It is not as bad as Friday, but maybe a bit worse than yesterday. yesterday it didn't matter because I was not going anywhere, but on a work day it is worrying with all the travelling I do to get to work. thank goodness that the local BP petrol station, just around the corner from Wandsworth Town railway station, has a toilet. This morning it was definitely needed. I still feel a little off even now, but at least I know that I am no more than a few minutes from a toilet if needed.

 I had a lazy afternoon yesterday. I suggested it would be unlikely that I would do anything yesterday afternoon, and my prediction came true ! To be honest, I am not sure where all the time went to. I didn't even turn the TV on until the evening, and I am sure that the snooze I had, plus the reading I did, could not account for the whole afternoon, but I guess it must have. One thing I did do, although it hardly counts, was to do a complete upgrade of the Kubuntu installation on my laptop. I say it doesn't really count because I only had to intervene for a couple of mouse clicks. all 939 upgraded installation files downloaded themselves, and installed themselves. I just had to let it get on with it.

 Talking of my laptop. My new battery did arrive at work on Friday as I thought it might have. I now have it here at work, and I can't wait to get home tonight to try it out. By tomorrow I should be able to reveal whether I have wasted 40 or not. It is possible that I could have wasted a lot more. I notice that the new battery is made in China. I am now wondering if it is one of the famous exploding laptop batteries that burn houses down. Time will tell !
Sunday 6th January 2008
12:45 GMT
 It's Sunday, and it's sunny. The temperature is fairly mild, although I wouldn't want to stand outside without a coat for too long. this is similar to yesterday, except that by the afternoon the sky did cloud over. It looks as if today the sun may stay out for a bit longer. It would be nice if it stayed shining right up to sundown, but maybe that is a little too much to hope for.

 On Friday, once my bottom felt settled, I tried out my new vacuum cleaner. It seems to work well, but I do not like the way the exhaust air comes out so hot. It doesn't sound like a recipe for the machine to last that long. Another bad thing about it is that it does take a fair amount of effort to push around the nozzle. By comparison, my old upright cleaner would move around easily. On a more positive note, the nozzle at the end work really well at get the tiny deposits of dust of the lumps in the woodchip wallpaper. Those clumps of dust build up so imperceptibly slowly that it almost looks like the wallpaper is just sort of old and grubby. When I applied to nozzle to my bedroom wallpaper, principly just aiming for some cobwebs, I was amazed at how different everything looked.  I subsequently did a few more walls, and there are still more to be done even today.

 A combination of the hard work wielding the vacuum cleaner about the place, and a general feeling of internal emptiness, brought with it a desire for some breakfast. So I made up a couple of large sandwiches. they equaled, or more probably exceeded, the amount I wanted to eat on Friday. So in the evening I intended to just have some fruit. To that end I ate a whole mango, two nectarines, and two kiwi fruit. Most of the fruit was ripe and sweet, but it still left me with a slightly acid feeling stomach, and I ended up topping the fruit off with some fishcakes.

 On Saturday I had already done a lot of the cleaning I intended to do before Aleemah visited. I still did a little more, but I could afford to do little else in preparation. As she did on her last two visits, Aleemah suggested that she call me when she was at London Bridge, and I would meet her at Catford Bridge station. We met at 12:30 and went to the pie and mash shop. I really did not want to eat then, but then again I did not want to sit in there not eating. It was hardly a compromise, let alone a good idea, but I ended up ordering a egg and cheese burger and chips. With my (sort of intended) food ration for the entire weekend inside me, and Aleemah filled with pie and mash, we headed back home to watch the film "The Doors".

 It was a good film, but it had some unexpected effects on me. I felt I understood some of the angst that the film portrayed Jim Morrison as suffering from. One consequence was that I got quite drunk on Scotch. This made the latter entertainment slightly unfullfilling, but still enjoyable. After Aleemah went home I felt starving. This was mainly due to all the Scotch I had drunk, and still being drunk I could stop myself buying some chicken and chips on the way home from the station. It was just some chicken and chips, but quite a lot of them. When I went to bed I felt bloated and uncomfortable. I was also very thirsty. For several hours after going to bed I was in and out of bed, drinking lots of water, and going to the toilet a lot.

 This morning was almost a re-run of Friday morning. My guts were volatile, and by the time I had finished dealing with that I felt starving again. I am not sure if it was fortunate, or unfortunate, that I had a lot of chips left over from last night. So for brunch I had egg and chips. It appears that I bought so many chips last night that even this morning I only wanted to eat half the leftovers, and the rest I have now thrown away. If all goes well, which on past experience is unlikely, I will attempt to eat very lightly for the rest of the day.

 One great achievement today is that I have just about cleared all the clutter of the stairs. Some of the stuff has been thrown away, and other stuff more sensibly stacked elsewhere. There are some items were not on the stair case, but are currently stacked in the hallway that I want to dispose of to make even the hallway free of clutter. They are old VHS tapes. Many have been used only once, and there are probably some that have only ever been half used. It seems a shame just to dump them in the bin. So if anyone wants any used VHS tapes, for free, get in touch. Most will have old TV shows on them, but if you are very lucky there could be some porn there too.

 It seems unlikely, but if somehow I find the energy, or inspiration, or combination of both them, or even some mystery third force, I may get the new vacuum cleaner out and clean the staircase again. I did not do a very wonderful job of it on Friday, and now I have removed the clutter there is more dust and old cat hair fluff balls revealed. I actually picked up the bigger balls of fluff, but it will need some intensive vacuuming to get the stairs looking reasonably nice. It will happen, just maybe not today. Instead of housework I do feel more inclined to be very lazy today. There is some reading I want to catch up on, and perhaps have a few snoozes between articles.  
Friday 4th January 2008
07:34 GMT
 This morning it is cold and dark. The snow which was forecast for yesterday didn't come, and neither did the frosty start to the morning. It is cold this morning, but once again not quite cold enough for frost. Instead of snow yesterday there was a bit of icy drizzle, and maybe it will be the same again today.

 I have felt tired these last few days. I still have not got back into a decent sleep pattern after the excesses of the xmas holiday period. I was late to bed on Wednesday night, and to a lesser extent, last night. During last night, to make matters worse, I had to get up several times for a pee. My food last night did contain a lot of water, and I assume that was one reason for it. Another reason, and maybe the one why I am writing this now instead of on my train to work, is that I have modified my diet a bit.

 I have been trying to cut down on some of the eating excesses of late. It is sort of working, but even on the first day there were mishaps. On Wednesday night I started with two bowls of instant noodles. They were nice and warm after coming in from the cold, and reasonably low in calories, and very low in fat. The trouble was that I came home via Tesco and spotted something while I was in there.
  • A tin of mixed nuts - resistance to temptation = 50%
  • Reduced to half price - resistance to temptation = 25%
  • Rosemary flavoured - novelty idea overload - resistance to temptation collapsed !
So a little while after the noodles I started to munch on those rosemary flavoured nuts, and they were very nice. So much so that I ate the whole lot. The noodles, the nuts, and a couple of pieces of fruit were all I ate on Wednesday, but the nuts were the real killer. It is quite possible that it is the passing of those nuts, this morning, that has caused me to visit the toilet several times and miss my first train. I did get to the station in time to catch the next train, but I felt too uncomfortable to get on it. Since getting home again I now feel perfectly OK, at least while I am sitting down I do. I think I may have to call in sick today if I am to remain comfortable, although I hate calling in sick on Fridays, it seems such a sham, and I don't like to go sick so early in the new year, but it is probably better than having an accident on the train. I might also add that last night I did have a lot of cauliflower and broccoli, and all the roughage from those may well be making the problem worse.

 One other problem with going sick today is that I am expecting my new laptop battery to be delivered to work today. I am obviously keen to find out if my diagnosis is correct, or whether I have just wasted 40. It looks like I will probably have to be patient and wait until Monday to find out if I have boobed. One consolation is that the shipping notification I received said the battery was being delivered by Royal Mail. The chances are that it will not turn up until the middle of next week !
Wednesday 2nd January 2008
08:23 GMT
 We are all doomed ! Here we are, nearly a fortnight after the winter solstice, the days are supposed to be getting longer, and yet it was still dark when I arrived here in Wandsworth. It hardly looks like daytime even now. Obviously the Earth has shifted off it's axis and the end of the world is just round the corner. Maybe  read too much sci-fi, or maybe it is just that it is very cloudy this morning. There were a few times when it was drizzling as I painfully made my way to work. More rain is quite possible today, and the forecast for tomorrow is for sleet or snow ! It certainly is chilly this morning, but not cold enough for any frost or ice. The wind is beginning to blow in direct from Siberia, and it is that wind which will bring tomorrows snow. I doubt London will be affected too much, but the north and Midlands are forecast to get a lot of heavy snow.

 I think that over the preceding 11 days my commuting muscles have atrophied. It is one of the things I feared before that enforced holiday started. Coming to work this morning did feel like a struggle. Various bits of me were aching, and it is only now, after having sat in the warm for a while, that the various kinks and cramps are going away. I did my est to get to sleep early last night, but I was only partially successful. I still feel like I have fed the cats, slouched around a bit, and now it is time to go back to bed again for several hours. Overall I would say I feel precarious !

 The excess holiday was not as bad as I predicted. I did get to see Aleemah twice, and to have two good boozing sessions (or was it three ? ), and one other less boozy booze session. That must be a bit of a record compared to previous years this century, and many years of the last century. I am not sure what the highlight was, but my "secret admirers" text message just after midnight on new years eve still leaves me perplexed, but grateful.

 As we enter into a new year of increasingly totalitarian government, another blow to marginalise the "proles"  has been struck
"People could be expected to lose weight and give up smoking in exchange for rights to healthcare to be enshrined in a new NHS constitution, Gordon Brown will signal today." (taken from an article here). It has been observed that this practice has been going on unnofficially now for some time (though I can't quote any sources), but now it looks as if it has come out into the open and big brother will make it part of "new thought". It is perhaps some satisfaction that despite many hints that all is not well with my body, I have reversed the roles and marginalised the doctors. If I did choose to see a doctor I think I would have to ask for an estimate first because I am sure the guarantee period on this body ran out some time ago.
Tuesday 1st January 2008
09:27 GMT
 So begins a fresh new day in a fresh new year - except that today will not really be that much different to the day before apart from a few minor details. The day has started somewhat misty looking. It feels cold too.  I could imagine the possibility of it raining today, although I have not seen a weather forecast to add any credence to what is just a gut feeling.

 Yesterday was OK. I am not sure how I passed the morning. I certainly didn't go to Tesco, or doing any hoovering as I suggested I might do, but I did put one load of laundry through the washing machine. At about lunchtime I got an email wondering if I was going for a drink. At that time I was not sure, and suggested probably not, but much to my surprise I got a call from Jodie saying she was coming over. To be truthful it was not a total surprise. It was something that we had discussed a few days ago, but I didn't think it would actually happen. I then re-replied to the email, and for safeties sake, backed that up with a text message, saying that we would be going for a drink at about 3 pm.

 It was 3.20 pm when we arrived at the pub, and Iain, the originator of the earlier email, arrived there at the exact same time. Later on we were joined by Kevin. We had a good drink, and Jodie managed to totally bemuse Kevin and Iain as she became more and more sloshed. We all left the pub together at sometime around 7 pm, although I have no idea at all what the actual time was. I was feeling quite happily drunk, and Jody was almost legless. Kevin went off in one direction to walk home. Iain crossed the road the get his bus home, and I walked Jodie up the road to put her on a bus home. After that I succumbed to temptation and went into the Japanese (and Chinese) takeaway that is right by the bus stop. I bought a couple of bento boxes to take home and feast on while watching TV.

 A very quick and sloppy scan of the available TV channels showed there was nothing on that seemed worth watching, so I started watching videos of James Burke's "Connections 2". I don't know how many episodes I watched, but it must have been at least 6, and maybe more. It was all interesting stuff and I finally managed to drag myself away from it, and go to bed, at about 1.30 am this morning.

 I can't really say that the new year celebrations at midnight passed me by unnoticed. There was a hell of a racket going on outside - mostly fireworks - and I did get a couple of text messages. Both were surprising. One was from Roger. So thank you Roger. While the second was certainly beyond surprising, and startling may be closer to the truth. That texter will remain anonymous. The contents of that text message were what elevated it from beyond surprising, and maybe even beyond startling. I was being thought about ! Now I don't know what was being thought about me, but I very much doubt it was the same seedy, and reprehensible thoughts that I would be thinking about the texter, and so I doubt I deserved being thought about in what was undoubtably pure and innocent thoughts ! Nevertheless it did bring a sort of warm inner glow at the time.

 This morning I was awake much too early. I fed the cats at around 6.30 am, and I have been awake ever since. It is now 10 am and I really ought to get washed and dressed. I think Tesco is open today, and I really do need to do some shopping if I can. It won't be a disaster if I don't, but it would be inconvenient. Ideally I should get some more sleep, but if I do that I probably won't get to bed at a sensible time to be able to get up bright and early for work tomorrow. Another thing I ought to do today is to go to the station and see if the miserable bastard in the ticket office will sell me an advance season ticket before the prices go up tomorrow.

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30th December 2007

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