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Saturday 28th February 2009
 19:24 GMT

 After a very fine sunny day yesterday, today was a bit of a disappointment. It hasn't been that bad today. There was almost no wind, and it was quite mild, but there was very little sunshine compared to yesterday.

 I did a lot of exercise yesterday. Not only did I walk from Earlsfield station to work, I also walked back there after work. To my surprise I found I still had enough energy to run up the bloody stairs at Earlsfield. During my lunchbreak I took a stroll and walked halfway to Southfields tube station. I suppose that if I walked half way there, and then back again, it was the equivalent to walking all the way to that station. So now I know that if I ever desire to get the District line after work I can be sure that I would be happy walking all the way there. When you consider it is only a 15 minute walk it should come as no surprise that I can walk it, but I would not have enjoyed it a month ago.

 After getting back to Catford I did some fairly essential shopping in Tesco's, and then went to the pub to join Iain for a pint. I did almost the same as last week, I had two pints of Ruddles Best, but instead of a large diet cola I had a large diet cola. That may not make much sense. It certainly didn't to me. A week ago my large diet cola was in a pint glass, but last night it was in a half pint glass. Quite why it has shrunk by 50% over the week is anyone's guess. It was Iain who went to the bar and paid for it, Whether the price was half as well is unknown, at least to me it is.

 After the pub I came home and cooked my dinner. Last night it was poached/boiled/steamed ( I must try and invent a word for that one day) tuna with leek and curly kale. I went a bit easy on the spices last night, and in deference to Aleemah visiting today, I left out the garlic. This morning the scales were a bit twitchy, but by holding my breath I managed to get them to settle down on one pound lighter than yesterday. If I had managed a decent poo this morning the scales may have been a bit more positive about that one pound loss.

 When I first got up this morning I expected to be feeling a bit energetic, but after changing the bed clothe, and doing a bit of hoovering I decided that I was not feeling that energetic. So I sat down to watch the fourth Futurama film, "Into The Wild Green Yonder". It was to be the first of three DVDs I have watched today. To be a little more exact it was the first of 2.9 DVDs I have watched today. Aleemah phone to say she was on the train heading this way, and I had to leave to meet her a five minutes before the end of the Futurama film. As yet I have not watched the ending.

 I met Aleemah at the station and we went to the cafe. It took a bit of will power, but I managed to just have a diet coke while watching Aleemah have her jacket potato with tuna and mayonaise filling.

 Aleemah brough a DVD with her as usual. It was "Who Killed Nancy? ", and was an invetigative documentary about the killing of Nancy Spungeon who was allegedly killed by Sid Vicious of The Sex Pistols. The documentary concluded that she was killed by an assailant only known as Michael, and not by Sid Vicious who was probably comatose after the amount of drugs he had taken. It was a semi interesting documentary, but mostly disposable. The second movie we watched was "Venus" made in 2006. It starred Leslie Philips and Peter O'Toole, but of whom were very old and close to death when the movie was made. It was actually a very good film, and I got it purely on the strength of a short trailer I noticed on the TV channel Film 4.

 I have eaten very little today, but what I have eaten has not exactly been good diet material. First of all I had half a pack of smoked salmon that I had bought for Aleemah to make some sandwichs with. That wasn't bad for me at all, but it did awaken a hunger that I have tried to suppress. Next I had a drained tin of processed peas with a tin of tuna, and something that I most definitely should not have had - some cream cheese. That cream cheese has all sorts of nasty fats in that I am trying to avoid. Even that was not enough for me so I fried some white fish in a little olive oil with a tomato. Olive oil is a fairly benign fat, but I am trying to avoid as much fat as possible. The sad thing was that it was not very nice. The white fish was basa. I am not entirely sure what basa is, but it is not very flavourful. It's ok when cooked with a pile of vegetables in stock, but fried in olive oil it is almost tasteless. 

 I have decided what my next luxury, computer related, purchase should be - a new monitor. The monitor I am currently using is a cheap 17" widescreen monitor made by Hanns-G (whoever they are). For text work it is fine, but it really lacks the fidelity that even a very cheap CRT monitor has for photographic work. I am sure I can do better. I have grown accostomed to the space saving that an LCD monitor provides, and I will stcick with one even though I know there is a fantastic 21" CRT monitor going spare at the moment, and I think that if I asked for it I could get back one of the 17" CRT monitors that I gave away a few months ago. I reckon I should be able to get a decent LCD monitor if I up my budget from around 70 to, say, 100. Then again, looking at Ebuyer there is a wealth to chhose from at rather less than that. My current monitor is now listed at just 61.99, and another 20 on top of that gives a bewildering choice to choose from. I expect I'll be wasting a lot of time at work on Monday trying to decide what I should get.
Friday 27th February 2009
 07:55 GMT

 At last ! I was dazzled by the sun rising over the cemetary as my train pulled into Earlsfield station. The sky is 80% blue this morning, and with luck there will be lots of sunshine this morning. If the sun does manage to stay shining the temperature could rise to as high as 14 C, or so the weather forecasters say. The temperature did dip quite low overnight. There was a lot of heavy condensation on the cars as I left the house to go to work. At first I thought it might be frost, but no, it was just condensation. The air now is moderately cool, but the wind breeze still has a lot of bite to it. I now hope for three impossible things. The sun to stay shining up to at least 2 pm. The air temperature to rise to 14 C, and the breeze to drop to practically nothing. If all three happen I look forward to a very enjoyable stroll in the park during my lunch break today.

 Last night I had a (pre-arranged) visit from an interviewer from the Office For National Statistics. I think that normally I would tell them to bugger off, and not to intrude upon my privacy, but not this time. I was hoping that there would be some questions about I.D. cards and other Orwellian state apparatus, and I hope that I would have an opportunity to vent my spleen over such un-English activities. If not that, then vent my spleen about anti-smoking dictats. Sadly none of those sorts of questions arose, and it was mainly about employment and wage statistics.

 Waiting for my interviewer, and spending just over 20 minutes answering his questions, made me late for my dinner. I was particularly starving when I came to finally prepare it, and my hunger may have contributed to making one small slip up (but it could have been a simple accident). I had turkey breast with vegetables in stock last night. The turkey breasts were originally frozen, but I had let them thaw out in the bottom of the fridge. Rather than plucking them out one by one I preferred to keep my hands dry by pouring them out of the bag. I thought I had hold of two of them as I poured them out, but all four, that came in the one bag, slipped out. So my dinner was a bit bigger than planned.

 I expected the extra turkey meat to have a detrimental effect on my diet. So it was a very pleasant surprise when I got on the scales and they said, with no ambiguity, that I had lost a complete stone since starting this caper. That is the first target met, and met earlier than I expected. It is possible that I have lost more than one stone, but my scales get very touchy at their upper limit. This morning the display moved smoothly, and settled with no hesitation. I guess I am back in the realm of the real people again. Now I am wondering how many pounds I can shift before next Tuesday morning when I have my check up. I think that I might be able to manage a good 3 or 4 pounds even with the weekend, and some of the problems that brings, in the way.

 Tonight I am going to celebrate by going for a couple of pints of beer. Like last week it is only going to be a couple of pints, but I may have a diet cola as well before going home to cod and curly kale (or that's what I have in mind for tonights recipe).
Thursday 26th February 2009
 08:19 GMT

Acoording to a weather forecast I heard on the radio this morning, there should be some sunny intervals this morning. Well, the sky is lighter than it was yesterday, but I can't see any gaps in the cloud. Hopefully the sky will clear enough to let a few rays through soon. It feels rather cool at the moment, but I think it is just me and my thinning blood. Even yesterday afternoon seemed chilly to me, and yet I believe the temperature could have been as high as 13 C.

 Feeling chilly is one of the disadvantages of this bloody diet I have set myself. Providing I keep convincing myself that it will pay dividends later in the year, I can keep it up. The hardest part will be after I have had my check-up and (hopefully) been pronounced to have passed sufficient criteria to be officially classified as alive. The pressure will be off after that I do fully intend to have one celebratory meal. Meanwhile, the diet is working well - This morning I was just two pounds away from my first major target, and I still have four days to go. I estimate I'll reach it by Saturday morning.

 Last night I had a short visit from Patricia. I haven't had a chance to have a real chat with her for some time, and last night we did have a most enjoyable natter together. I didn't eat until after Patricia left sometime just after 7 pm, and I was ravenous. I could have eaten a horse, but I settled for boiled/poached/steamed salmon with beans sprouts and pak choi. Tonight will be similar, but I will substitute skinless turkey breast for the salmon. Actually, I think I had also better substitute chicken stock cubes for fish stock cubes too !

 I feel better than I did yesterday morning. Maybe the oily salmon has greased a few joints, or maybe it is the slightly lighter sky, but I definitely feel better. In celebration I broke with tradition and walked from Earlsfield station to work. It was very easy going, but I am not sure I will be walking back when I leave work. It is very, very slightly uphill to the station. The climb is almost imperceptible, but it is definitely harder work going that way. Of course my big excuse is that the cost of the short, two stop, bus ride is already paid for in the price of my weekly Travelcard. It might sound tight, but I regret wasting it (although most weekends I waste it too).

 During my walk I popped into one of the shops to buy a couple of bottles of Diet Coke. Unfortunately the shop only appeared to have one bottle left. So I bought a bottle of Coca Cola Zero as a substitute. I haven't tried it for ages, but after tasting it my opinion is the same as last time - it is CRAP !

 Below is a picture I took yesterday dinnertime using my mobile phone camera. It is the view of the river Wandle at the back of the business estate where I work. It's probably a reasonably pleasant picture, but nothing special to display here. Except that right in the middle of the picture is a sort of pink think. That pink thing is actually a quite large pink, with white spots, padded bra caught up in the flotsam and jetsom of the river bank. Where it came from is anybodies guess, but it does brighten up a rather dull looking winter view.

Pink Bra by river Wandle
Wednesday 25th February 2009
 08:11 GMT

 Another gloomy morning ! At least it is dry out, but from the look of the sky it could rain anytime today. I think I heard mention that if it did rain it would only be brief and light, but I want some sunshine ! There was one flash of sunshine yesterday, but it was so brief that it is hardly worth mentioning. On my way home from work I didn't see (or feel) any rain directly, but I did see what looked like fresh puddles on the platforms of Vauxhall station.

 Last night I was back on the white fish with curly kale and a few other assorted vegetables. I was thinking of having a snack later on in the evening, but I went to bed early instead. I did my best to condition my brain to run episode two of the dream that ended on a bit of a cliffhanger the previous night. The only trouble was, the more I thought about it, the more I began to notice discrepancies to real life. For instance, there were two of us, but I can only remember three legs ! Where was the fourth leg, and whose was it ? Also certain important angles were wrong for what we had actually started to do. I think this confused my brain. It is possible I had a very sexy dream, but I don't remember it. I do have a vague memory of dreaming about frying sausages, but I am sure there is nothing sexual about that. Hmmmmmmm, bangers and mash.....drool !!!!!!

 This morning my scales revealed that I have definitely consolidated the extra pound I thought I was very close to losing yesterday. This is definitely looking good for next Tuesday. I have just three pounds to lose now to reach the first of many targets I have set myself. In celebration (or something) I thought I would take a chance on wearing a pair of brand new black trousers that I had not been able to wear until now. They are still a little tight, but just about comfortable around the waist. One place where they are not comfortable is the pockets. They seem to be extra deep, too far to the front, and with all the junk I carry around, they spoil the feel, and even chafe a bit while walking.

 I have also put on my black lace-up shoes this morning. With my purple shirt, and red tie, it is possible that I look the smartest I have been in countless years, or maybe even ever ! Of course, by other standards I probably look a scruff, but I would feel confident standing before a judge dressed like this. I would definitely get off a littering charge, but probably get done for bank embezzlement by mistake.
Tuesday 24th February 2009
 18:51 GMT
very public windows error message There are a couple of things I forgot to mention when I wrote this morning.

 Firstly, the picture on the left was taken at Waterloo station on my way home from work last night. It is of a coin operated internet machine, and the monitor is showing a nice Windows Error Message. (Close up, but slightly fuzzy picture below).

 The second thing is that I did a little housekeeping on these web pages. There is a whole bunch of stuff I did in 2003 where I was still using Windows applications to make web pages. All these pages were suffixed with .htm instead of .html and this caused many links to malfunction when I made a lot of re-arrangements to the file layout on my web server a year or two back. I have corrected some pages, and I think that a few of these web pages for rail, cats and music now work, if not correctly, then at least, better. One day I will re-check every single page, and every single link, but with over five years worth of writing it is going to be a gigantic job. In the meantime I will dip in and out of some of the more obscure web pages, and see if I can improve things a bit more.

Windows error message
 08:25 GMT

 I liked the idea that when I opened the curtains, after getting dressed this morning, there was sufficient light outside to see my garden (jungle !) in detail. What I don't like is that it has hardly got any lighter since official sunrise time at 07:56 this morning. The sky is grey, and it had the cheel to try and rain on me as I walked the last hundred yards to work. It was only the lightest of light sprinklings of rain, but it added to my gloomy feelings. I want some sunshine back !

 I do feel at a low ebb today. The diet is going well, and my scales suggest that I lost almost another pound yesterday (I needed to blow downwards to just tip the displays least significant down one). This still gives me great confidence that in a weeks time when I see the nurse I will have lost a full stone, and probably a bit more, but even so, I still feel slightly down. I think it is after being spoiled with such glorious sunshine last Saturday. It makes me feel like I have no energy. I did a few tests of fast walking, or running up stairs this morning. I was able to do it, but I couldn't be bothered to pursue it beyond just a test, and besides, it wasn't enjoyable like it was yesterday. It is at times like these when I want beer, curries, kebabs and ice cream, but fortunately I have none of those things here at work.

 There is another reason for feeling low this morning, and that is the cruel discovery upon waking up that what seemed deliciously real was only a dream, and I had some goodies last night ! Three bits of dream stick in my mind, although the details are fading fast except for the last bits of the last dream whose memory I am desperate to keep alive in case I can continue it tonight. These three dreams all featured women. The first was set in a Job Centre. The woman there worked for the Job Centre and could never have existed in real life. Not only was she fairly good looking, but she was also kind and helpful - two characteristics which I think Job Centre staff are forbidden to have.  She was fast tracking me through some process, and everything seemed to be going very smoothly, but I couldn't help make a loud exclamation to the world in general when I was told I would need 38 passport sized photos to go on all my documents.

 Dream two seemed to be in or around work. It wasn't exactly here, and in fact was not really like anywhere I have worked before, although I think some of my dream work colleagues were very similar to some people from real life. I am uncertain as to the exact role of the woman in this dream, but I seemed to be getting along very well with her. There seemed to be the prospect of a more intense close relationship, but I got distracted when I found a skip full of discarded computer equipment. In amongst all this stuff was a whole box full of old memory sticks. They were unlike anything I have encountered in real life, and even in the dream I knew them to be rare, obsolete, but possibly useful to have.

 Dream three may have actually been two dreams that melded together so well that even though there was an obvious cut between scenes they did flow like a cut in a movie. It started with walking through some woods with a foreign (possibly Argentinian !) woman who was unfamilar with English plant life. She asked what some berries were. These berries looked like highly poisonous laburnum seed pods, but were growing upwards from small shrubs rather than hanging from trees. I could not name them, but told her they were poisonous, and she was very grateful for that knowledge. So grateful that she kissed me - first just a peck, and subsequently much more passionately. That scene seemed to fade out to be replaced with the two of us in a bed not wearing many clothes. Well none, to be precise. The rest of the dream proceeded in a very satisfactory way, but ended on a cliffhanger ! I am trying to keep those last few moments etched in my mind in the hope my brain can run episode two tonight !

Footnote : having done a search to find a link to a picture of what I described as a laburnum seed pod, I am no longer sure if what I am describing is from a laburnum tree. The pods I am thinking about are 10 - 15 cm long, and are of a deep red to almost black colour. They are definitely eaten by grey squirrels, and every autumn there was an abundance of them in the carp park of the old location where I worked in Wandsworth.
Monday 23rd February 2009
 08:18 GMT

 Today is the last Monday there will ever be in February 2009 and it is very dull outside. It's worse than dull - there is also some very light, very fine, rain blowing in the wind. More positively, that rain is so fine and light that you only feel it as an occasional dampness on the face. Apparently there could be a sunny spell today, but no one knows when, or for how long it may last. I hope it coincides with one of my fag breaks.

 Yesterday was an odd sort of day - I think (but I am not sure). I did a fair bit, but I did it mostly from the comfort of the settee. After my success in installing, and using Wicd on my big laptop I thought it would be a good idea to install it on my Aspire One netbook. After all, I am far more likely to take the little netbook walkies than I am the big Travelmate. My Aspire One is still triple booted with options to boot Linpus (the original operating system on it), Windows XP, and Ubuntu. Previously I had descibed Ubuntu as Easy Peazy, but that is really just a layer on top of Ubuntu. Linpus and Windows both have reasonably well behaved Wireless network managers (although Linpus could do better), but Ubuntu was always a bit unpredictable. So it was Ubuntu that got the new network manager. Connecting to my WiFi network is now as simple as it is when using Windows.

 I came to the conclusion that Easy Peazy was less than a satisfactory solution to use Linux on my Aspire One. It may be because it was originally cobbled together to go on another netbook - the Asus eeePC 701 (warning : really crappy annoying web page festooned with macromedia flash).  I decided it was time to get rid of Easy Peazy. I could have installed a new operating system from fresh, and maybe that might not have been a bad idea, but I decided I would convert Ubuntu Easy Peazy to Xubuntu. Using the Synaptic package manager this was easy to do, and my new XFCE desktop is working well.

 I ate well yesterday, but this morning I was pleased to note that in the last few weeks I have lost 3.25% of my body weight. It doesn't sound much, but it has made a difference to my energy levels, or maybe it would be more accurate to say, my stamina levels. The oven grilled mediteranean vegetables and mackerel I had for my evening meal were very nice, but may have contained a bit more oil than I would have preferred. The oil I would have preferred not to have was the sunflower oil on the vegetables. It would have been better, and far more authentic if Tesco had just used olive oil. Mackerel is a naturally oily fish, and that oil is supposed to be very good for you, but maybe not in the quantity I consumed. My meal would probably have served two people, or even three if part of a multi course meal. Tonight I will be aiming for a meal with less oil in it. Maybe it will be white fish steamed/poached/boiled with leafy vegetables, or maybe it will be skinless chicken breast with poached/boiled/steamed with vegetables.
 I should explain that steamed/poached/boiled really means that I have thrown the ingredients into boiling stock, and then left them to simmer with the saucepan lid on. Anything above the waterline gets steamed, and anything below sort of poached, sort of boiled. If I was a chef I could decribe this in far more technical terms.
Sunday 22nd February 2009
 12:31 GMT

 Although mild again, today is rather overcast. The sun did briefly peep through the clouds at least once this morning, and may do so again if I am lucky, but overall it is a very dull sort of day. This is in complete contrast to yesterday. Yesterday was magic ! It was bright, sunny, and mild all day. In fact in sheltered spots it felt warm. The forecast for the weeek ahead is that it will stay mild with temperatures of around 11 C. Sadly it seems that most days will not see much sunshine, but it should stay dry.

 I left to meet Aleemah outside Highbury & Islington station at 1 pm. That should have been early enough, but it took me ten minutes longer than I had anticipated. First I got the bus to Lewisham, and then the Docklands Light Railway all the way to Stratford. At Stratford I had to stop to have a fag. Doing so made me miss my train, and lost me 20 minutes. So I guess my estimate was not actually that wrong, and had I rushed for the train I would have been ten minutes early.

 The play we went to see had it's moments, but with just four actors in a very minimal set of two tables and a few chairs, it was a bit like overhearing a very weird conversation on a late night train (including the obligatory psychopath). I was expecting it to last for about 90 minutes, and that there would be an interval about half way. After 40 minutes I was really busting for a pee (having had a pint of Stella Artois for breakfast). There seemed to come a point where an interval might fit in with the flow of the play, and at that point I squeezed past the two people between me and the door and sprinted for the toilet. Having relieved myself I went outside for a fag and expected to see everyone else returning to the bar. After I had finished my fag there was still no sign of anyone, and I was enjoying being outside in the sunshine. So I had another fag and waited in the sun. After 15 to 20 minutes Aleemah appeared and said the play had finished. So I missed the finale, but I didn't care. It was just nice to be out on such a fine day.

 To get home I chose a different route. I accompanied Aleemah on the Victoria line as far as Euston where we changed to the Northern line. Aleemah went north and I went south to London Bridge. At London Bridge I had time for a fag, and then had just a five minute wait for my train back to Catford. I arrived back in Catford as the sun was close to setting, and with a fair amount of light from the sky it didn't feel like the day was over (as it would do if it had been dark).

 I was rather hungry when I got home. As well as the pint of Stella Artois I had in the pub, I also had eaten a small apple earlier in the morning. With such a raging hunger I would most probably have ordered a large takeaway, but I resisted that and cooked myself a very similar meal to the one I had cooked on Friday night. This time I didn't end up having an extra top up later in the evening.

 I guess all  this lack of food is doing me some good. While at leaving the tube station at London Bridge yesterday, I started to walk up the escalator at a fairly fast pace. That didn't last that long. It is a fair old climb from the Northern line platforms to ground level, and I think I did pretty well managing half that distance and a good speed. After a breather (while I had my fag) I did actually run up the far shorter escalator up to the mid level concourse of London Bridge mainline station.

 This morning I did treat myself to a relatively large breakfast. The four kiwi fruit, and half a melon were perfectly OK, and nice, but the barbecue chicken wings were a bit of an unneccessary luxury (but extremely nice). Later on today I am going to have grilled mackerel and roast char-grilled mediteranean mixed vegetables.

 After a lot of frustration that I think has it's roots in the bizzare and crappy BIOS of my ancient NEC laptop, I have suspended my attempts to run Windows 98SE from a compact flash card. I diverted to an alternative project. One that was quick and simple, and also highly useful. On my big Acer Travelmate 290 laptop, which still has the small hard disk with Linux Mint 6 installed on it, I have done away with Network Manager and installed Wicd. This is also a bit of software that handles network connections, and in particular WiFi connections, in a far more user friendly way than network manager. At last it feels like I am in control of my wireless card, and don't have to leave it to chance when I want to connect.
Saturday 21st February 2009
10:38 GMT

 Amazingly enough it is a bright sunny morning. I can only see a very small patch of sky through the window as I sit here typing, but I can't see a single cloud. It doesn't seem too cold either, although I think the temperature still has some way to go before it hits the predicted high of around 11 C for today. Yesterday stayed mostly overcast, but we did have a few sunny spells, and once again it stayed reasonably mild.

 Last night, as I planned/hoped for, I went to the pub for a couple of drinks. I opted for an early drink so I only met Iain in the pub. I don't know what the temperature was in degrees, but it felt most comfortable as I walked to the pub, and it wasn't bad when I went outside the pub with my coat off to have a few fags. Perhaps the very best thing was that the Green King IPA beer, that Wetherspoons have been selling for just 99p, was not available. Instead a far superior beer, Ruddles, was available for just 99p. I saw the Ruddles and selected that for my first pint without realising it was just 99p, and was mostly pleasantly shocked when I received my change. I had two pints of Ruddles followed by a large diet cola before going home again.

  While searching for a link to Ruddles I have just learned that Ruddles is now brewed by Greene King. It still tasted pretty good though.

 While I was outside the pub, having a smoke, I kept being enveloped in the smell of cooking meat - sometimes steak from the Wetherspoons kitchen, or more often from the kebab shop next door to the pub. It really made me feel hungry, but I managed to resist what I would like to have eaten, and stuck with my planned cooking. Eating the small pack of reduced price expensive ham, I noticed while shopping in Tesco on my way home from work, was not a good idea,  but the cod poached in stock with bean sprouts and pak choi was definitely in line with plan N*. This soup/stew (or whatever you might call it) also contained half a leek and a bell pepper as well as some assorted seasonings. I also tried some wasabi (Japanese horseradish) on one of the bowlfuls that I ate. In retrospect I think that the wasabi may have been better than the chilli suace I added to the second bowl.

* Plan N : Nurse anti-hysteria strategy for my forthcoming diabetic check up.

 Had I stuck to eating what I have described so far I would have been justifiably proud with my achievements, but a little later I still felt hungry, and had some "forbidden" food. I have just about finished, or given away, anything that I probably shouldn't be eating, and that left my choices for a snack rather on the thin side. What I did still have left in the cupboard was a jar of Morrocan flavour mayonaise. I added a few spoonfuls of that to a tin of drained tuna in brine. Well, the mayonaise was a bit naughty, but this morning, even after a couple of beers, I seem to be a couple of pounds lighter than I was when I last weighed myself. I assume, though I haven't made any measurements, that my blood sugar level has also dropped some more.

 This morning I tried writing my Windows 98SE hard disk image onto a compact flash card. The process was far,far quicker than making the image from the original hard disk. Unfortunately it didn't work when I put the compact flash card (plus adaptor) into the laptop. It wouldn't even boot. When I tried booting from a floppy disk I could see the directory structure on the C:/ drive, and although I didn't go any deeper than the root of the drive, it looked right to me. I shall have another go sometime later, perhaps doing some disk maintenance on the hard disk before I try and copy it. I think I will also see if I can connect the hard disk directly to the PC without using the USB connection I originally used.

 Playing with hard disk and compact flash cards will now have to wait for another time. My next priority is getting up to Highbury And Islington to meet Aleemah, and go to see this dreaded play that she has bought tickets for. It is at The Hen And Chickens Theatre, and the play is called "The Thingumywhotsit". I just hope it is one of those plays that sound bloody awful, but is actually rather good. I live in hope.......(I think).
Friday 20th February 2009
 08:20 GMT

 It's another grey morning. There was evidence that there had been some earlier rain when I left the house to come to work, but there has been no rain since then. Apparently there is a chance of a few, light, scattered showers this morning, but as the day progresses we could get some sunny intervals during the afternoon. Once again it is fairly mild, and the top temperature could be 11 C.

 My feeling good lasted nearly all of yesterday. I was feeling so good on the way home from that I gratuitiuosly ran part way up the excalator at Waterloo station. This morning some of the sparkle has gone, but I don't feel too bad. Walking to the station was still easier than it was a couple of weeks back, and crossing the link between Waterloo East and Waterloo mainline stations was not the knackering affair I had begun to grow used to. Yet I don't feel like running up any escalators this morning.

 I didn't do much of any significance last night, but I did start the process of making an image of the 2 GB hard drive that has a working installation of Windows 98SE for my ancient NEC Versa 6030X laptop. I used the Linux "dd" command, and after two false starts I had the process running. I was surprised at how slow it was. It is possible that it is supposed to be a slow process, but there could be a couple of other things slowing it down. I had the hard disk connected by a USB interface, and that could have had some bearing on it, and secondly I suspect it would have been better if the disk had not automounted onto the Linux filesystem. I actually went to bed before it completed so I don't really know how long it took, but I am sure it was more than a couple of hours.

 It might happen tonight, or sometime over the weekend, but I will take that hard disk image and copy it onto a Compact Flash card. I hope that I will then be able to use the Compact Flash card as a solid state hard disk in the laptop. Of course there is no real point to this experiment beyond curiosity. The laptop is mostly useless, it's battery is beyond redemption, but I am now using it as a bedside mp3 player. That is enough to satisfy me because I hate throwing working stuff away - Even a 133 MHz Pentium 1 powered laptop with a mere 24 MB of useable ram in it (and totally dead batteries, no inbuilt network connection, nor USB interface).

 One thing I am pretty certain that I will be doing tonight is going out for a few pints. I had suggested to a couple of people that I would have seen the nurse for my diabetic check up by now, and that I could have a bit of an extended binge tonight, but as yet I haven't even made an appointment for my check up. So tonight it will only be a couple of pints.
Thursday 19th February 2009
 08:33 GMT

 The morning has started misty and wet. I did get caught in some very light rain as I made my way to work, but I still remained basically dry. Today was supposed to be cooler than yesterday, but if anything it feels slightly milder than yesterday morning. Some weather forecasts predict the temperature today to be as little as 7, and some as high as 11 C. It feels unusually warm at work so I have opened a window. Now it feels too cool ! Some sunny intervals are forecast for this afternoon, but for now it is just grey and damp.

 I do feel unusually good this morning, and I could say that I feel excellent compared to most Thursday mornings (usually my worst day of the week). I think I feel as good as I did last Saturday morning. This is most encouraging. It seems that I am getting over the worst excesses of the weekend earlier in the week. Despite my efforts to reduce my blood sugar level, and at the same time, reduce my weight, not being as severe as I would ideally like, they do seem to be effective. If I carry on, and can feel as good as this morning on, say,  next Tuesday morning, I think I will feel confident to go for my check-up at the doctors.

 The excesses of the weekend are a most variable thing. I don't know if this weekend will be better or worse than last weekend. What I do know is that I have had dumped on me a visit to a theatre on Saturday afternoon. Given the choice I would have preferred not to go, but Aleemah ordered the tickets without consulting me first. I had hoped that I might have been able to do something with Patricia this weekend.However, it does have one plus point. I will not want to eat before I go out, and if possible I won't eat until I get home again. I will be starving hungry when I get in, but if I can try and eat more modestly than I normally would in these situations, it will be a useful day for dieting.

 Last night I did a few experiments using a Compact Flash card as a hard disk in my old laptop. In fact you could say my experiments started before I left work. I had already expermented with a Compact Flash card on a desktop machine, and the results were encouraging. So a few days ago I ordered an Compact Flash to IDE adaptor for laptops. I already had an experimental installation of Xubuntu on a Flash Memory card, and I had it with me at work yesterday. So I pulled apart one of the companies old laptops, and tried it out with the adaptor that arrived in the post yesterday. That laptop most probably had a different chipset to my desktop machine, but incredibly Xubuntu worked perfectly first time. The only thing that didn't work was the network, but that was because the network connector on the laptop is broken.

 At home I tried the adaptor (and the same Compact Flash card) in my ancient NEC laptop. This laptop boasts a 133MHz Pentium processor and a mere 24 MB of proprietry memory. Xubuntu tried to run, but died before it had even left the starting gate. Damn Small Linux does (just) run on this laptop, and so I tried to install that on the Compact Flash card. It should have worked, but it didn't. It got too late to investigate, but I think it is the dodgy old BIOS on that laptop that was somehow screwing up the bootloader. The next thing I am going to try is to make an image of the existing hard disk and transfer that to the Compact flash card. I'll be doing this using one of my Linux boxes, and it will be an interesting test of a procedure that I described in a sort of theoretical way in a recent email (although Steve, my Linux guru, who saw a copy of that email, didn't make any adverse comments about my "off the top of my head" description of the command line incantation). Maybe I'll be trying it out tonight, or maybe another day.
Wednesday 18th February 2009
 08:12 GMT

 It is most pleasantly mild this morning. I am unsure what the temperature actually is, but I would guess it is at least 7 or 8 C. Yesterday was very mild too, with the temperature around 11 C. There was also a lot of cloud, and that has kept the temperature up overnight. I think that the cloud is starting to disperse now. At least I can see a few tiny patches of blue in amongst the medium grey clouds. Perhaps, if we are lucky, we will see some sunshine today.

 I didn't go to work yesterday. I woke up very early with a really bad pain in my stomach. At one point it was so bad that I almost became convinced I was suffering from appendicitus. Later on I explosively found it was nothing worse than trapped wind followed by several bouts of an unpleasant nature. By the time I was stable it was far too late to go to work, and I still felt a bit off colour and tired as well.

 I am not sure what I did yesterday. Time seemed to pass by fairly quickly, and that was very helpful as I tried to avoid the larder and fridge as much as I could. For a day at home by myself I probably did quite well in not eating too much. During the morning, after I had got a bit of extra sleep in, I watched a DVD I had bought for a couple of quid at the local off-licence. It was called "Code 46", and as I watched it I realised how it came to end up in a bargain bin. Perhaps under different circumstances I would have been able to keep my concentration up while watching, but I kept finding distractions. Now I have a vague idea what it was about, it is possible that it would be more enjoyable if I watched again. It probably didn't help that it is one of those films that features a lot of very dark scenes. Had I been watching it in subdued lighting I may have seen more, and enjoyed it more.

 During the afternoon I lay on my bed and did a little reading followed by a short nap. I then started to do a little bit of audio work on my workstation PC. Those who know where to look will be able to hear the results of my labours. I would have liked to do more, but time seemed against me. The clock seemed to race around until it was time to go to bed. Having got into bed I found it very difficult to get to sleep - probably as a result of the extra sleep I had in the morning and afternoon. It feels like I shouldn't have had enough sleep last night, but in fact I don't feel too bad right now.
Monday 16th February 2009
 08:23 GMT

 There was no bright sun over the cemetary to welcome me to Earlsfield this morning. The sky is quite cloudy, although it is not thick cloud. It is light grey in colour, and you can see lots of detail in it. Apparently there could be some sunny spells today, but the best bit is that the temperature could reach 11 C according to some sources (one source even suggested 12 C). It is almost enough to make you believe that spring will soon be here.

 My eating yesterday was quite constrained compared to an average Sunday, but I still ate too much, and some of it was stuff that I didn't really want to eat. It wasn't exactly a boring day, but I didn't go out anywhere, and I didn't see anyone. That left a few long gaps where my mind turned to food. I plugged some gaps with fruit or crispy white cabbage, which was perfectly OK, but I did use up the remains of a bag of grated cheddar cheese on a tuna, tomato, and bell pepper salad. Then when I cooked an evening meal I decided to thicken up the gravy with some mashed potato powder. Had I left that meal as just skinless chicken breast with mange tout and the last of my white cabbage, it would have been fine, but I added a little too much mashed potato powder. Instead of just thickening up the stock I accidently poured in so much mashed potato that I actually ended up with thick mashed potato. Still, it was very nice !

 I spent more time experimenting/playing with Linux Mint 6 on my big laptop yesterday. I still think it is rather good, although I did forget to mention one bad thing about it when I wrote about it yesterday. After doing the permanent installation on a small 20 GB hard disk (with a root partition of 4 GB) I started to do all the updates. The update process failed saying it had run out of disk room. Fortunately, not being Windows, this did not have any impact on the operating system - crashes, blue screen of death, etc. The first thing I did to make some space was to uninstall Open Office. That made a fair bit of space, but then I found that I had installed help files, dictionaries, and all sorts of stuff to use with just about any language used by more than 10 people anywhere in the world. By removing just about anything that was not to do with UK English (apart from a few esoteric fonts that are sometimes needed for web browsing), and all of Open Office, I managed to recover over 1.5 GB of hard disk space. That was plenty to install all the updates, and to install many other useful programmes too. That included Abiword as a lightweight alternative to Open Office for word processing.

 One curious feature of Linux Mint 6 is that I am not sure what desktop I am using. Superficially it is like KDE (also a bit like windows), but I believe that it is actually a heavily customised hybrid Gnome desktop, and yet some of it is very reminiscent of Xfce. As a curious hybrid it works well apart from one small niggle. As yet I have found no way to have different wallpaper on each of the four desktops. It is not a major problem. In fact it is not any problem at all except..........well, different pictures would be sort of nice.

 Tonight Patricia is coming to stay for a few nights. I think I had better try and enjoy her company as much as possible for those few nights because she has announced that she is very likely to go back to Argentina, permanently, in the not too distant future. That is a bit of a blow, and makes me feel quite depressed that once she leaves I will probably never see her again. It's a bit like death really.
Sunday 15th February 2009
 09:51 GMT

 There is a lot of cloud this morning, but it does have some breaks in it. I think the forecast is for a cloudy day, but at the moment it does look like there could be some brief spells of sunshine at some time. With the clouds comes slightly milder temperatures. I think today we can look forward to 6 C, and tomorrow it could be a degree or two higher. Yesterday was cooler, at maybe 4 C, but it was also very sunny.

 Until just before midday yesterday my diet was going really well. I had avoided everything I should have avoided, and I was feeling rather good physically, and also rather pleased. However........When I met Aleemah we went to the cafe as we usually do. I should have just had a diet coke, but I ended up having egg and chips ! I managed to almost behave myself after that, but I did eat some stuff that I should have avoided during the evening. I am gradually using up, or in the case of those delicious ginger nuts, giving away, all the stuff in the house that I am trying to avoid. It is far easier not to have stuff in the house that I want to avoid, and not buying it in the first place is easy takes very little willpower.

 Aleemah brought a DVD with her for us to watch. It was a little better than last weeks offering. This almost entertaining DVD was the film Chicago. I am not too keen on musicals, and this one was no exception. However the underlying plot was tolerably entertaining.

 Last night I became intrigued by a recent Linux Format cover disk. It had a copy of Linux Mint 6 on it. The last time I tried Linux Mint I thought it was rather good, and I think that version 6 is even better. I tried it as a live CD on my Acer Travelmate 290 laptop first, and it worked well enough that I fitted an old 20 GB hard drive in the laptop and did a permanent install. Unlike many Linux distributions it doesn't pussyfoot around and makes all those "forbidden" multimedia libraries easily available. I am actually using Linux Mint on my laptop to write these very words.

 One thing Linux Mint 6 doesn't have is the XMMS audio player, however I have discovered that it does have Audacious. I had never heard of Audacious before, but it came up in the package lists when looking for music players and I thought I would give it a go. It's good ! It does exactly what XMMS (or Winamp 2.xx) should do - it plays music files with a simple, and neat, user interface. The default interface is not to my taste, but it is skinnable. I  couldn't find any explicit mention of it in the help files (though I didn't look that deeply), but it is happy using classic Winamp skins. The classic skin can be downloaded from Winamps website, and installed in the Audacious skins directory. It is possible that the downloaded zip file may need to be renamed to a .wsz file, but the version I had stored on my server already had the correct file extension. I think I am most happy with Audacious !

 I don't know what I am going to do today. I ought to find lots of things to distract me from food, but I only have one idea at the moment, and I am not sure if I am going to do it. That idea depends on the weather. If the sun does break through the clouds I might go for a walk in the park, but since my earlier optimism it is is looking less likely for the sun to come out now.
Friday 13th February 2009

 The weather is really confusing today. After the dull start the clouds almost totally went away leaving a the middle of theday bright and sunny. As 4pm approached, and time for me to go home, the clouds started to build up. I came home in a mixture of dark clouds and sunshine.

 On  the way home I called into Tesco for some healthy food. So for dinner tonight I had poached white fish in fish stock with mange tout and spinach. I had a very big portion, and it was very nice, but I still felt very peckish afterwards. So far I have resisted the lure of theGinger Nuts, and I have been demolishing a fist sized white cabbage. I've already munched on about a quarter of it so far, and I expect I will have more before the evening is out.

 Before eating tonight I rechecked my blood sugar level. I was very relieved that it had gone down considerably.  It was actually 0.1 less than the reasonable level I measured on Wednesday night.
 08:42 GMT

 The weather has turned around again. This morning it is very overcast, but not actually raining (although it may have done so before I left the house). The clouds have kept the heat in, and although still remarkably chilly out, there is no frost this morning. The chilliest aspect is the wind. There is not a lot of it, but when it does blow it seems to numb the face instantly.

 After yesterday's glorious start we almost had a repeat of Wednesday. During the afternoon the skies clouded over, and it was very gloomy as I made my way home from work. There were a few light splashes of rain, and even a little bit of sleet mixed in with it, but fortunately it had stopped while I walked from the station from home.

 This morning brought a big disappointment. I tried measuring my blood sugar level. It was far higher than I expected, and rather too high to be good for me. I found this a little surprising considering that I have been taking measures to reduce my blood sugar level. After more than 24 hours I feel I can't blame it on the stupidly sugary apricots I ate on Wednesday night. So I am at a bit of a loss to explain the high reading I got. It doesn't really tally with how I actually feel. I seem to have a tad more energy this morning, and a few other indicators of high blood sugar level seem to be lacking too. The extra energy is usually a sign that I have been eating more frugally the day before, although not as frugally as I might desire. As I use up some inappropriate foods I will try and do a little better as I build up to making my appointment to see the nurse at my doctors surgery.

 Once again I had a reasonable nights sleep, and that could partly account for my feeling of extra energy (probably up to a 15W light bulb now !). I was in bed by 8.30 pm, and fast asleep well  before 9 pm. I did get up once in the night, at about 2.30 am, to go to the toilet, but I did get another full 8 hours sleep. I am now back to being able to anticipate my alarm going off, and wake up 10 minutes, or so,  early. I suppose it could be just the extra sleep that is contributing to my feeling of well being, but I am sure it is more than that.

 Tonight I am going to try and survive on something like white fish and broccoli stew. The "something" is a sort of unknown variable, but probably means I will pollute the effectiveness of such an otherwise bland dish with some grated cheese. I have an opened packet of grated cheese, and it would be a shame to let it rot. So I have to use it sooner or later, and sooner seems like a good idea to me. Other additions are likely to be various spices, and the most likely is chilli sauce. Some chilli sauce does contain sugar, but although I like chilli sauce I have yet to degenerate to the point of drinking it by the pint :-)

 I think I will be in bed very early again tonight. With tomorrow being Saturday there is not such a need to get to bed early, but once in bed I will not be tempted to open up the packet of Ginger Nut biscuits I bought last week. Ginger nuts are rather delicious, and I think I am going to have to think up some sort of strategedy to dispose of them before I open the packet. Maybe I'll give them to Aleemah when I (probably) see her tomorrow.
Thursday 12th February 2009
 08:39 GMT

 Thursday is normally a bad day for me, but today is an exception. Clear skies have lead to an even brighter morning than yesterday, and also a cold morning too. The frost was very solid looking on the cars, and all the puddles were frozen like rock, but they all glittered in the early morning light. It was almost light when I got on my train this morning, and by the time my train pulled into Earlsfield I was dazzled by the sun. Yesterday morning the sun was only peeping above a low bank of cloud on the horizon. It was still very bright, but pale by comparison to this morning. I couldn't help but looking straight at the sun, and in consequence I went down the comparatively gloomy staircase with purple patches floating before my eyes.

 My hopes of going home in bright daylight came to nothing last night. During the afternoon the sky really clouded over, and it was very dull on the way home from work. A further insult was that it was actually raining, albeit quite lightly, as I walked from the station to home. I hope today is not a re-run of yesterday.

 Some events last night were quite encouraging. For the first time in well over a year I tested my blood sugar level. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I think I was quite happy when my tester gave a readout of 7.4. That is at least 2 points higher than ideal, but not bad considering I did no special preparation for the test. It should be easy to reduce that value before the time comes to see the nurse, and even now it is low enough that I wouldn't be shouted at ( in a figurative sense) by an angry health worker (who often seem to think they own the body that your consciousness lives in).

 One bad event last night was that I investigated how much sugar was in some types of tinned fruit that claim to be tinned in fruit juice. I was astonished to see just how much sugar there was in a tin of Tesco "Breakfast Apricots In Fruit Juice". I am sure that there is another version that is shown to be in syrup. The "in syrup" version must be like a tin of runny toffee. Unfortunately I had already poured the contents of my can of apricots onto my bowl of dry oats when I read the amount of sugar in the tin. I would not be surprised if my blood sugar level had not gone up if I check it tonight. I think I may try pouring fruit juice over oats in future, or maybe even cider.........hmmm, that sounds nice !

 Another of the good events last night was that I managed to get to bed nice and early. I went to bed sometime not long after 8 pm, and read in bed for maybe half an hour. Even with briefly getting up to go for a pee, I think I managed just about a full 8 hours sleep. I do seem to feel better for it this morning. I recal having several dreams, but I can remember only a small amount of detail from one dream. In this dream I had a neighbour, three doors away, and he paid me 140 for a pirate copy of the Album "Sweet Freedom" by Uriah Heep. What made this dream very peculiar is that I didn't do anything common like sell mp3 copies of the tracks, nor did I burn a CDR, but I sold the fictitious neighbour a 12" LP. I am not sure of the process I used to make this disk, but I think it was pressed (cut ?) into a disk of graphite rather than vinyl. Another mystery is how I produced the full colour cardboard sleeve. Considering what he got it may well have cost 140 to make, and yet in the dream I was stunned to be offered so much.
Wednesday 11th February 2009
 08:36 GMT

 Today would be better if it was Thursday, but apart from that it is not too bad today. There was a very nice sunrise over the cemetary as my train pulled in to Earlsfield station. The main feature when I left home was the sub zero temperature, and the thick frost. The temperature dropped so low because of the clear sky, but in recompense it did mean that much of my journey into work was done in daylight.

 I noticed that sunrise was officially at 7.20 am while watching the weather forecast on TV last night. I am not sure exactly how sunrise is timed. Is it when the first rays of the sun appear on the horizon, or when the suns equator is level with the horizon, or even when the entire disk of the sun is above the horizon ? Perhaps one day I will research it, but it is not important. The actual official time of sunrise is not so important. What is important for me is when it actually becomes light. I noticed that there was light visible in the sky when I first left the house, but I think my train had probably left Lewisham before I could clearly see the passing scenery properly. My train arrived at Waterloo East at about official sunrise time, and by then I guess you could say it was daylight.

 Having been greeted by the rising sun over the cemetary by Earlsfield station, and then serenaded by some very agreeable birdsong as I walked along the road approaching work, I now look forward to going home in daylight again. Yesterday the clouds gradually cleared during the morning, and the afternoon was bright and sunny (but still very chilly). If the sun had been a few degrees higher in the sky I would have got home in sunlight. By the time I got to Catford the sun had sunk below the hills to the west of me, but there was still plenty of daylight even after going home via Tesco.

 I had some good intentions to start some of the body maintenance I wrote about yesterday, but my effort was a bit poor, or even very poor. The trouble was that I noticed Tesco were selling the last few of their hot, ready cooked, chickens off at half price. I couldn't resist buying a barbecue flavoured chicken, and then eating far too much of it when I got home. To make matters worse I added a bit too much extra cheese topping to the Tesco cauliflower cheese ready meal that was my intended main dish for the evening. I'll admit this does add a few (!) extra calories, but the addition of some sliced jalapeno chillies and extra "tex-mex" flavoured cheese does add an awful lot of really good flavour to cauliflower cheese !

 Tonight I may do a bit better. I had enough will power to stop eating last nights barbecue flavour chicken before it had all gone (it was a quite small chicken), and I used the remainder as the basis of a stew that I prepared and 80% cooked last night. Alongside the chicken, the stew contains a heap of carrots, a mound of sliced runner beans, and one chopped up potato with plenty of seasoning and spices (but no salt). I am hoping it will be a very tasty meal when I get in, and there should be enough leftover to use as the basis of another stew for tomorrow.
Tuesday 10th February 2009
 08:29 GMT

This morning's weather is an improvement over yesterday's. It is raining again, but there is a lot less of it, and the sky now has some texture in it. Yesterday the sky was just a uniform dark grey colour, but this morning it is possible to see individual, but overlapping, clouds. One consequence of this is that the day is a little brighter than yesterday too.

 Much earlier on this morning, maybe sometime between 2 and 4 am, the rain was heavier - and it sounded more solid ! I was woken up by what sounded like gravel hitting the window. Not only was the rain heavier, but the wind seemed a lot fiercer too. A few gusts really rattled my window panes. Disturbances like that did make a bit of a mockery of my slightly-earlier-than-usual, but not-really-early-enough, early night. Perhaps tonight I will get my full eight hours beauty sleep.

 In an ideal world I would not only manage to get a full eight hours sleep at least several nights running, but we would alos have some bright sunny, and prefereably mild, if not slightly warm, days. I got a letter from my doctor yesterday. I have been asked to make an appointment with the nurse for a diabetic check up. This could be good, or bad. In some ways it is good, but to avoid a lot of kerfuffle I do need to do some body maintenance before I submit to being poked and prodded by the nurse. Principally I need to lower the level of everything - blood sugar, blood pressure, cholesterol.........the usual sort of things the medical profession is always moaning about ! (Although I draw the line about smoking, and given the chance I would like to drink more).

 There is only one way to do this body maintenance, and that is by diet, or even worse - dieting. I do try and eat healthily when I can, but when it is cold, dark, damp and miserable there is just no choice between a full roast dinner and boiled cabbage.  So life is going to be a bit of a struggle in the near future. There is one small glimmer of hope to ease the burden for a little while. Sometime early next week, and possibly as early as Sunday, Patricia will be coming to stay for a few days while her son entertains a friend from Spain. While Patricia is around I am less tempted to top up my dinner with other stuff, and I may even cook healthier stuff in smaller portions for us. It is a shame that it will only be for a week at most, and maybe as little as just a few days. If it was for a lot longer I could possibly feel well enough to do things like going swimming with Patricia again. As it is, I'll be lucky to do the bare minimum to scrape through this body MOT*.

* MOT - Ministry of Transport roadworthiness and safety test for road vehicles - see

 I had some good luck yesterday. I brought into work a DVB-T USB dongle that had stopped working. It was the one I had given to Patricia some months ago. She used it a lot, but last week it stopped producing any pictures. Using the stereo microscope here at work I was able to see there was one pin of an integrated circuit that was not soldered properly. Without that microscope there would have been no way of even seeing this, yet alone being able to resolder the connection. The "chip" itself was approx 4mm x 4mm in size, and had about 16 connections along each of the four sides. To make matters worse, these connections were not pins sticking out, but just metallic patches set into the side of the chip. My repair worked perfectly, but it must rank as being one of the smallest soldering jobs I have had to do.
Monday 9th February 2009
 08:17 GMT

 The snow that had earlier been threatened for this morning has not materialised. In some ways it might have been preferable. Right now it is dark, gloomy and wet. It wasn't actually raining when I left home, and there was even a hint that the sky was starting to brighten. As my train approached London Bridge I became aware that it was raining, and that sun rise had apparently gone into reverse. It was still raining when I reached Earlsfield, and it looks set to rain for a long time yet.

 The cloudy skies have kept some heat in. I estimate that it is at least 3 C outside, and maybe a little more. With temperatures like that, and after an unexpectedly sunny weekend, it is surprising that some of last Monday's snow still persists. Much of it is where the snow was piled up, and subsequently frozen into a large block of ice during some of the freezing nights last week, but not all the snow I have seen to be still lying around is like that. Walking along the road alongside the railway line this morning, I saw some small patches of snow, nestled in sheltered spots, that were completely untouched by humans, and were still in their natural state. That must be some of the most persistent snow I have ever seen.

 One problem with this current weather is that I have misjudged the temperature indoors a few times. In any other room that does not matter, but I managed to get my bedroom too warm yesterday afternoon while I had a nap on my bed. Even though I had turned off the heat a good few hours before going to bed I felt much too warm in bed. It made it hard for me to get to sleep, and then to stay asleep. At some point in the middle of the night I put my entire left leg out outside of the duvet. If I had put it back under the duvet before falling asleep I would have been fine. Eventually my bedroom did cool down, and in the early hours of the morning I woke up with my left leg feeling like a block of ice !

 Overall, I did not sleep well last night. This means that tonight I will have to, once again, try and force myself into trying to have an early night. This is not always successful. I don't think I have any major distractions that will keep me from my bed tonight, but on the other hand I have still to do some customisations to my Aspire One netbook.........

 Those whacky health professionals are at it again. An article in this morning's Metro says there is a drive to help people spot stroke victims being launched today.  Apparently the warning signs include drooping eyelids, weak arms, and speech problems. So it's a bit like being pissed then ! Well I can't wait for my next stroke because I quite like feeling like that in a reasonably controlled environment (at home, for instance). Alternatively it is also like I get after a long commute into work when I am feeling tired - like I am today. I guess I have a stroke on many mornings then. There can't be much left of my brain now........come to think of it, I don't think there is.....dribble, wibble, wibble..............
Sunday 8th February 2009
17:46 GMT

 Both today and yesterday were quite bright and sunny. Well at least they were. It is now very cloudy, and it has started to rain. If earlier forecasts are to be believed this rain will turn to snow overnight, and tomorrow we will have a re-run of last Monday. Snow will bring London to a complete standstill, and I will have another day off work. Except this time I am not looking forward to a day off work. That is not to say that I look forward to work on Monday, but I have no extra particular desire to stay at home.

 Friday evening seemed quite dark and gloomy well before I would have expected it to be so. Like tonight it was very cloudy, and I think it had started to rain as I arrived home. I did have the option to go for a pint or two on Friday night, but I felt very weary, and the weather seemed to be against it. The funny thing is, I can't actually visualise it raining on Friday night, but I am sure it was. Maybe it's just my imagination or something.

 Instead of drinking on Friday night I finalised the "master plan" for my Acer Aspire One netbook. Like my Thursday night experiment I started with a full recovery of the original operating system. I then shrunk that down to only use about one third of the hard disk space. Having checked it still worked OK I then installed Windows XP on the next third on the disk space. That installed OK, and after installing all the hardware drivers I had a perfectly working Windows XP partition. At this point, as expected, I had no access to the original Linpus installation because Windows is very snobbish about who it shares a hard disk with.

 To gain access to Linpus I would need to re-install a boot loader such as grub.It is not a process I am familiar with because it is usually done automatically when installing Linux. It would have been a useful learning experience to attempt it, but I had another way. It had been my intention to install a second version of Linux from the start, and this is why I had partitioned the hard disk in three, roughly equal, parts. Installing this second Linux, Easy Peazy by name, would, I hoped, install a boot loader with Linpus, Windows, and Easy Peazy on the bootloader menu. There was some element of doubt in this because Easy Peazy is a dedicated version of Linux for netbooks. As such it could have followed the philosophy of Linpus and  have been stripped down to the bare minimum. Luckily my faith was rewarded and I was able to select, and correctly load, all three operating systems after installing Easy Peazy.

 Since doing all that installing I have spent very little time playing with the netbook. What time I have spent concentrated on a light evaluation of Easy Peazy. I have come to the conclusion that I don't really like it. The user interface is pretty horrible, although some customisation does help lift that terribly drab brown Ubuntu legacy, but even with pretty colours I don't care for it much. When I was previously running Ubuntu proper on the netbook I had trouble connecting to my WiFi point, and Eazy Peazy suffers from the same problem. It can connect to my wireless network, but only on the first attempt (sometimes). If it doesn't connect then, it is a major struggle to try and make it connect subsequently. As I type this (on a desktop machine) I am updating the Easy Peazy software on the netbook. I was hoping that one update might be for the network manager, but it appears not. I don't think I will be using Easy Peazt that much.

 I went to bed later than I would have wanted on Friday night, but potentially earlier than if I had gone out drinking. In consequence I had a bit of a lie in yesterday morning. That didn't give me much time in the morning to do some housework before Aleemah came round to visit.

 Aleemah, as usual, brought along a DVD for us to watch. It was the worst film she has ever brought over ! It was called Wonderland, and apart from a brief bit of enjoyable nudity, it was essentially like an extra long episode of Eastenders !!!! I am not exactly a big fan of Eastenders. In fact I reckon you could have a more enjoyable time dangling your genitals in a tank full of pirhana fish than watching a single 30 minute episode of Eastenders. I'll leave it to your own imagination as to what fun it was watching a 100+ minute episode !

 Today, apart from one short interlude, has been rather quiet. The enjoyable interlude was when Patricia dropped by for a coffee, some jaffa cakes, and subsequently a very small glass of cider. Other than that, I have spent a fair amount of time reading. On Saturday morning, while out shopping, I popped into WH Smith's and spent rather too much money on magazines. There was New Scientist, Fortean Times, Linux Format, and one magazine that I haven't seen around for many, many years. It is an electronics magazine called Elektor. I also saw, but didn't buy, a copy of Practical Wireless. Another magazine that I thought had disappeared years ago.
Friday 6th February 2009
08:38 GMT

 When I left home it was raining, and judging from the soggy cat who came in after a quick jaunt around the garden, it had been for some time. It rained, but not too heavily, all the while I walked to the station. Once I was on my late running train I was not too sure what was happening outside, but as we approached London I got the impression the rain was getting ever more solid. At Waterloo I knew that the rain had got very solid (in a light and fluffy way). There was almost a blizzard.  Wherever there was a reasonably dry exposed surface the snow settled, but on the wet pavements it just turned into slippery slush. The snow had stopped falling when my train left Waterloo station, and I didn't notice any more falling during the journey to Earlsfield. The ground here is covered with a thin muddy slush. So I guess there had been some heavy snowfall a bit earlier.

 The forecast for today is for more sleet, snow, or just plain rain. Hopefully if it does snow it will not be too heavy - I don't fancy getting stranded at work if public transport decides to curl up it's toes and die again. There were a few lines in my morning paper saying that the next heavy snowfall in London could well be on Monday morning. So next week could start in chaos again.

 Last night I had intended to get a reasonably early night, or even better, a very early night. It didn't happen ! I got a bit carried away doing stuff to my Aspire One netbook. I came to the conclusion that the originally installed software was really the best option to use on it. I knew the recovery disk would wipe out everything that had gone before, and restore the machine back to factory condition. It was still annoying to see it do it, and very much so when it almost offers the chance to partition the hard disk, but only offers one choice - the whole disk !

 The restore disk is very quick, and I was soon able to start some customising. I used gParted (live CD) to shrink the one big partition down to a mere 8 GB, and then made new partitions for a home directory and a Windows partition. Unfortunately my attempts to convince Linpus (the operating system) to use my new disk partition as /home were not entirely successful. The reason was that the Aspire One customised desktop system did not want to play ball with the operating system. From the command line I could do everything quite normally, but the desktop software threw up all sorts of errors. I thnk that the root of the problem is that it was never designed as a multi user system, and new users can't nomally be added (except from the command line). The upshot is that there is no mechanism to populate the users home directory with all those little files that make the desktop work.

 A second reason for getting to bed over an hour late instead of over an hour early was that I was stupid enough to allow a software update to go ahead. Acer, who make the Aspire One, have some of the slowest servers on the planet ! Each file took an absolute age to download. In the end I gave up and went to bed. This morning I found the thing had gone into hibernation and dropped the network connection. So the upgrade process gave up. This does not matter because sometime soon I will be using the restore disk again, and everything will be reset back to factory defaults. 
Thursday 5th February 2009
08:34 GMT

 The temperature is above freezing this morning - maybe as high as 3 C.  The threatened snow is now falling as rain. So it is depressingly grey outside, and the wet snow and ice is lethal to walk on, and highly ugly. I think the dull grey sky will persist all day, and the remaining snow and ice will be practically gone by the time I leave work to go home.

 Yesterday, by contrast to today was a very good day. The sky was very frequently blue, and the sunshine did feel quite hot when I was able to stand in it. Where the sun was able to reach the ground it did a grand job at melting the snow. You could say the snow almost sublimated leaving dry pavements. This was very obvious when I arrived home. One side of the road had clear, dry pavements, while the other side, in permanent shadow at this time of year, was still covered in thick ice and snow.

 Although it was good to get to work yesterday, it felt even better to go home again. I left work in plenty of time to ensure a trouble free journey home. It was nice to walk from the station to home in a real approximation to daylight. The sun had dropped below the viewable horizon, but there was still plenty of light, and even after feeding Smudge there was still light to get changed by in my bedroom without having to turn the light on.

 I did a little more than I predicted I would do last night. After eating three cans of soup, and a couple of bread rolls, I did do a little audio work on my PCs. This kept me up until 8.30 pm - a little later than I really intended to stay up. Nevertheless I was fast asleep by 9 pm, and if Smudge did anything intending to wake me up, it didn't work. If I hadn't woken up just once to go to the toilet I would have slept solidly until my alarm went off at 5 am.

 Tonight I may do something similar to last night. I don't feel nearly as knackered as I did yesterday, but I think I am going to try to make sure I am asleep by 9 pm again, or even earlier than that if I have no distractions.
Wednesday 4th February 2009
 08:47 GMT 
  Snowman on platform C - Waterloo East 4/2/09

  It seems I have made it into work this morning. It is actually quite a nice morning. The sky is mostly light blue, and the clouds are white and (almost) fluffy. Of course it is still perishing cold, and there is still plenty of snow and ice around. More snow is expected tonight I believe. So I hope the rail companies have learned some lessons after the fiasco yesterday and the day before.

  My train was 6 or 7 minutes late, but that was forgivable considering there were plenty of seats available on it. As we glided into Waterloo East station I noticed someone had got creative while clearing snow from platform C.

 It was around midday that trains started running through Catford Bridge yesterday. Of course by that time it was not worth going into work. Instead, at around 1 pm, I joined Ivor and Iain in the pub. We had a good natter and a wallow in nostalgia.  While having a smoke outside the pub I realised I had a new definition of depression, or maybe, frustration. It is the knowledge that while in work you have the money to do things that you do not have the time for, and while out of work you have the time but not the money. How I wish for an independant income. Mind you, without work to break the time up, and instill a bit of discipline to life, I could quite easily eat and drink myself to death within a year (probably the former, but it would be nice to try for the second).

 Ivor had to leave the pub early, but Iain and myself continued for another couple of drinks. Then Iain came back to my place to pick a few things up, and we had another bootle of booze each. Once Iain left I sorted myself out some dinner. I was pretty drunk by then so it ended up as quite a variety of different foods, and the sum total was a bit gut wrenching. By 7 pm I was feeling quite hungover, and almost nauseus, and I went to bed. At first everything was fine. I felt warm and comforatble and I soon drifted off to sleep. Ten minutes later I was awoken by a phone call. from then on I slept very badly. Either I was too hot or too cold, or Smudge would jump on the bed and ask for affection, or my guts would play up, or I needed a pee. I don't know how many time I woke up in the night, but I know I did not get a very good nights sleep.

 When I get home tonight I think I will do little more than have some dinner (maybe just a few cans of soup), watch the news, and then go to bed. Tonight I will turn the phone off in my bedroom, and somehow I will persuade Smudge that I don't have any great desire to stroke her at one in the morning ! All that will be left to is to get a decent amount of sleep and hope tonight's snow does not kill the transport system in the morning. (I would like another day off, but I think that might be stretching works tolerance a bit).
Tuesday 3rd February 2009
09:23 GMT

 The latest update from Souteasterns website for train service......
 The following routes will have NO TRAIN SERVICE on Tuesday 3 February until further notice
Lewisham to Hayes via Catford Bridge
Grove Park to Bromley North
Strood to Paddock Wood via Maidstone West
Sittingbourne - Sheerness (buses will run in place of trains on this line)
Sevenoaks - Swanely via Otford

Now at this point you might think I could get a bus to Lewisham, and get to London from there, but read on.... 

Closed stations

Cannon Street
Blackfriars (First Capital Connect is running services)

Service update at 0900

08:00 GMT

I've been out to check the railway again. Not a thing had moved at 07:30. All the rails, both London, and country bound are still covered with snow. The only thing that has moved was probably a fox whose tracks you can just see to the left of the railway lines.
 Towards Catford Bridge 07:30 3/2/2009 
While I was out I took this picture of the sunrise. The sun was due to appear over the top of the houses in the distance.
Sunrise just after 07:30 3rd Feb 2009
06:50 GMT

 I have just been out to check the rails. Not a single train has passed through Catford Bridge since the Sunday night.  The latest update on Southeastern's website says :-

" Service update at 0610
 Hayes, Dartford, Bexleyheath, and North Kent routes have icy rail conditions so there's a delay to start of services in these areas. London Buses will accept Southeastern tickets on all reasonable routes." 

I think that it will be many hours before services start again - probably 24 hours ! Once again there could be a possibility of using buses, and if there are no trains tomorrow it is something I might consider, but for now I am thinking that I won't be attempting to get to work today. If miracles do happen, and trains do start running this morning before, say, 9 am, I might venture forth, but that seems so unlikely at the moment.

 One place, or in fact two places, I will be able to get to this morning are Tesco and WH Smith's.  More supplies of Catfood would be handy, and a book to read would be nice too. I do have one ongoing project that I started yesterday, and could continue today. One of the old LCD monitors I was given back in the summer has packed up. I was given it in a faulty condition and bodged one repair. That was enough to get pictures out of it, but the pictures looked like over compressed jpeg images. Last week the whole monitor died. My investigations revealed that the power supply had died. While investigating that I found a dry joint I had overlooked when I did my dodgy repair last time. That has (I think) fixed the picture quality (I briefly tested it using an external power supply, but only as far as seeing the onscreen menu). There now remains the problem of the power supply. I did the usual things to fix it, but it is still faulty. It is going to need some real fault finding, and without a circuit diagram this could be tricky. My biggest fear is that some unmarked diode has gone leaky. If I have indeed repaired the picture quality fault, and the power supply problem is too difficult, I will probably end up using an external power supply on it, but I will go as far as I can with fault finding first
06:03 GMT

 It is certainly cold right now. The clouds have broken up, as forecast, but it is also very gently snowing, which wasn't forecast ! It doesn't look like the snow falling now will come to much, but you never know.

 Transport looks highly precarious. According to the latest update to Southeastern Trains web site ( curiously updated almost 12 hours in the future - 5.45 pm - or so it says) there should be a half hourly train service on the Mid Kent line to Hayes (via Catford Bridge). The first train should have left Hayes some 38 minutes ago, and in normal circumstances would have passed through Catford perhaps 15 minutes ago. I didn't hear it, and I certainly didn't hear any empty trains passing through Catford to actually get to Hayes in the first place.

 I am now going to get washed and dressed, and then I will wander to the end of the road to inspect the tracks, and see if there is any sign that the railway has been used. I will then report back on what I find - either from home, or from work, but I am betting it will be from home !
Monday 2nd February 2009
19:20 GMT

 It has been reasonably pleasant staying in for most of the day. I did go out for a little while this morning. At approximately 7.30 am I went for a little walk. I first went to the station to see how that looked. The door to the ticket office was closed, and the side gate was only slightly ajar. So I opened the side gate and went onto the platform. To my surprise it was not deserted. there was one man who may have been a member of railway staff, or maybe just a commuter reporting to someone by mobile phone that there were no services. I was also surprised that there was a whole pile of almost untouched Metros (free newspaper). I grabbed a copy and continued my walk. I had intended to take some pictures using a proper camera on this walk, but the light was still very low, and my freezing hands were obviously too shaky to hold the camera still. I think all the pictures suffered camera shake - some slight, and some comically severe !

 I walked the long way home via the high street, and I thought it was rather strange that I didn't see a single bus. The main roads, while not perfectly clear, were very passable, and the few cars and lorries I saw seemed to be moving OK. Later on I saw on the news that all buses in London had been cancelled. It would seem to be the first time this has ever happened. I could agree that some routes would be impassable, but surely not all. In times past some routes would be diverted, or curtailed, but for not a single bus to be running in London must surely portend the end of the world is nigh !

 The snow continued to fall, sometimes lightly, and sometimes fairly heavily, throughout the day. The last few flakes I saw fall was at about 6 pm this evening. No more snow is due to fall tonight, and tomorrow could be sunny. There is a catch though. Overnight the cloud will disperse, and the temperature is set to fall to as low as -4 C in central London, and even colder on the outskirts.

 It is also quite a poor show that so much rail transport has ground to a halt. This is particularly poor for the underground network. The solution to the problem of ice and snow has been known about for years, but all that knowlege seemed to be lost when London Underground became privatised, and all the equipment was abandoned. To quote from the Cravens Heritage trains website :-
"The extensions to the existing tube lines planned in the 1935 New Works Programme would significantly increase the open air mileage of the network. The problem of ice and snow on the conductor rail was important. Therefore in 1940 18 'sleet' locomotives were introduced, formed from the driving ends of Central London Railway cars. With the fitting of de-icing equipment to passenger stock the locomotives were no longer required. ESL107 is now preserved by LT Museum at the Depot, Acton"
As the quote says, the de-icing equipment is now (allegedly) fitted to normal passenger trains, but for this to be effective the trains have to continue to run all the time the snow is falling (and perhaps, later drifting). The flexibility to do this disappeared with privatisation too.  Now the tube is run for profit instead of as a public service they lose millions of pounds of profit by having to shut almost all the tube network in inclement weather. Exactly the same is true of mainline trains.

 Southeastern Trains are claiming tonight that here will be some sort of train service tomorrow. I made a plain html copy of their web page announcement for posterity. You can view it here. It will be interesting to see if I am able to comment on it again from work or from home tomorrow. The snow has stopped falling now, and there is even a little bit of thawing going on right now, but the sky is due to clear soon, and the temperatures will plummet. The amount of snow in the morning will be similar to now, but it, and any thawed water, will be frozen solid. I am not convinced that there will be any train service tomorrow. If I am not woken up in the night by de-icing trains then I will know that I will most probably be having another lay in tomorrow morning !
2nd Feb 2009 5am - snow !

05:26 GMT

 The weather forecasts as far back as last Thursday were perfectly true. It has snowed. In fact it has snowed rather well. There is a good five inches of snow outside. There was the brief flurry of snow I reported just after midday yesterday. That didn't settle here, but I did get reports that it had settled in a few places. There was no more snow here until sometime between 6 and 7 pm. When I drew the curtains sometime around 5.30 pm there was no sign of snow. When I took a look outside at around 7 pm there was a good covering of snow even on the road. It had briefly stopped snowing at that time, but it soon started again, and as far as I can tell it snowed steadily all night. It is still snowing now.

 I took this picture from my front door step using my mobile phone camera. After a bit of tweaking using The Gimp I thought it came out reasonably well considering that the only illumination was sodium street lighting. The only tweaking I did to the picture was to reduce the colour saturation, and to resize it. All the noise in the picture, generated by the low light level, gives it a sort of blizzard effect, but at the same time hides the real falling snow which was (and is) falling very freely.

 Now the best bit..........

Trains cancelled this morning 2nd Feb 2009
 This screenshot taken from the Southeastern trains website provides all the information I need to spend the day in the warm. It was lucky that I took that screenshot while I did - the usual has happened - their web server has almost fallen over with the amount of traffic it is getting. When I rechecked the home page to copy and paste the URL it just took nearly a minute to open. I would not be surprised if the whole thing came to a grinding halt (like their trains) in another 20 minutes or so !

 There are other possibilities for me to get to work. There is an excruciatingly tedious series of buses I could get which I would be very reluctant to use on a good day, and would be an absolute nightmare in these conditions. I could get a train from Catford station towards Blackfriars, maybe changing to the underground between Elephant And Castle and Waterloo, but all trains on that line are cancelled too.

 Even if I did manage to get to Waterloo there is no guarantee that there are any trains to Earlsfield (I am currently trying to access the South West Trains website)...........After a few minutes the page loaded, and I have managed to view some information. One part of the website says that the trains are all running on time, but they can't guarantee that the information is correct, and another part of the website say that because of the bad weather conditions, passengers are advised not to travel except in an emergency. For me, getting to work is not an emergency !

 In other news.......well, there isn't much other news. I didn't do anything of any significance yesterday. Most of the time I spent reading or watching DVDs - as predicted. Today I may try and be more productive, but I am not sure what that will entail just yet.
Sunday 1st February 2009
12:10 GMT

When I walked up the road to Aldi the sky was grey, and the icy wind blowing from the east was enough to shred your face. Since then the clouds have broken up a bit. The sun recently started shining, and light snow has started falling. Where's the snow coming from ? The sun ????

08:32 GMT

 It looks like we are in for some bad weather. Yesterday was bright and sunny, but still rather cool. Just after the sun had disappeared below the horizon it felt like it had got a lot colder, although it was probably only a drop of a degree or two. I was surprised there was no frost this morning. Overnight the sky clouded over, and I guess that kept what heat there was in.  According to forecastfox (a firefox web browser plug in) it is just 2 C, and this tallies with what the BBC weather centre is telling me. Another thing they agree on is that we are due for some light snow showers today. This will presumably be the leading edge of the icy blast that is coming straight in from the icy Siberian wastes of Russia. Even now there are a few strong gusts of wind. It looks like the earlier forecast for heavy snow for tomorrow is still a strong possibility.

 It is a shame that we are due to get some snow today. It will remind the rail companies to do their best to keep the trains running on Monday mornng. They should be running trains all night to keep the track clear. Maybe they will, or maybe they won't, and maybe the Hayes line will not be considered important enough compared with the main lines. This is despite Catford Bridge station being on the Hayes line. Not only is Catford Bridge my local station, but is also very heavily used. One some evenings it seems like half the rush hour commuters get off at Catford Bridge, leaving what was once a train packed more like a sardine tin, over half empty. I am still hoping that, at minimum, there are severe delays on the Hayes line. I have already made my intentions clear at work. If there is any disruption I will be phoning in for a days holiday. I will not be standing around on a freezing platform with my back and hips killing me. Nor am I going to muck around on buses. I will be putting the heating on full, and going back to bed where I will comfortably lay down and feel smug thoughts about all the people struggling to get to work.

  Yesterday I managed to get up early enough to do a bit of housework before Aleemah came to visit. After what seemed like a long week at work, and some booze the night before, I was not sure if I would have the energy, or inclination, to get up early, but somehow I managed it. I met Aleemah at the station, as usual, and as usual we went to get some lunch in the cafe. After eating I decided that I wanted to have a look in Poundstratcher. A few weeks back they had some tins of rather delecious lentil and bacon soup on their shelves. Lentil and bacon soup seems rather rare from other places recently, and I wanted to get a few spare tins in if Poundstretcher had any left. Fortunately they did, and I was also delighted to find there was other stuff in the shop that I wanted. I noticed, and bought, some delightfully kinky black sheets and pillow cases. I have long wanted some black sheets. They seem so decadent. To go with this bit of retail therapy I also bough a new quilt cover. On the top surface it is a wonderfully enticing, probably sexy (in my perverted view), deep purple satin. I am now looking for volunteers to test it with me !

 Today I think I will do some shopping in Aldi as a protest against Tesco. I went in Tesco yesterday morning and found out they had run out of their own brand diet cola with 2006 marked on the label. As I discussed sometime last month, the new formula they seem to be using, in bottles marked 2008, has an awful bilious taste. The last time I tried it, which must have been several months ago maybe, Aldi's own brand diet cola was not as nice as Tesco's, but still very acceptable. So I am going to buy a few bottles of it today and shun Tesco's offering. Of course the other good thing about Aldi is that as well as the usual staples they sell, they also stock short lived specials. Sometimes they are foodstuffs, but can range between electronic "toys", clothing, and tools. I have no idea what I will find in there today, so it's going to be a bit exciting.

 After shopping I still have the bulk of New Scientist still to read, and about eight episodes of Yes Prime Minister still to watch. There is some stuff I would like to do on one of my PCs, and there is also an outside chance that I will get a visit from Patricia. In all probability I will just read and watch DVDs while keeping the heating up high and watching the snow falling.