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Tuesday 30th June 2009
 07:58 BST

 This last morning of June has started bright and shiny apart from some probable mist I saw towards the east of London. It's a very subjective thing, but I think this morning was a little fresher than yesterday morning. The day is rapidly warming up now, and this afternoon temperatures are set to exceed 30 C in London - maybe by a couple of degrees. Yesterday afternoon was very hot, but it was also quite cloudy. There were reports of heavy rain over Wimbledon. It must have been very specific to where the tennis championships are being played because at work I am not much more than a mile away, and I saw no rain. I must admit I think I might have smelled some rain as I reached the platform at Earlsfield station (one stop away from Wimbledon), and the sky did look a bit worrying, but I definitely didn't see any rain. When I got home it was bright and sunny again.

 There has been a lot in the papers, and TV news, about the heatwave we are experiencing, and how everybody is suffering. It has been pretty hot, and as a rule I don't like it too hot, but it appears that I am hardly suffering at all - by day. At night, it is another matter. When laying down, 50% of the body is effectively covered and can't dissipate any heat. So these last few nights I have been using a fan to get some air moving over my body while I try and sleep. In the early hours I wake up feeling too cool, and turn the fan off again. It is probably in the last few hours of sleep when I fight with the duvet cover, trying to get under it, and then kicking it off again, and I wake up feeling rough with a damp pillow from where my head has been sweating.

 Sleeping is definitely a problem during this heat, and maybe working would be too if it were not for the new air conditioner in my office. (I really feel it when I leave the office and go out to the production area). However I really enjoy this heat while I am travelling on foot. The overground trains can be a bit hot and stuffy, but not too bad (with the exception of the train I mentioned yesterday). Fortunately I have no need to travel on the deep tube lines. I can quite imagine they are murderous at the moment. When I am walking the flow of air seems just right to keep me tolerably cool (although some crevices still get rather damp). Last night I was even comfortable running up the escalators at Waterloo, but it does come at a price. When I stop I do tend to overheat quite quickly (like some old banger of a car I suppose).

 When I got home from work last night I felt rather good. I was a bit sticky when I got home, but after feeding Smudge I felt I was still cool enough, and still had plenty of energy to go out to the corner shop. Going to the corner shop is far from a major expedition, but there have been plenty of times in the past where I just didn't feel like I could be bothered to go out again. Maybe it would have been better if I hadn't had the energy to go out again because I bought a large tub of ice cream (in addition to the Diet Coke I wanted). The problem was not so much in buying it, but more in the fact that I ate the whole lot. It did cool me down nicely, but only briefly. Later on, the obscene amount of sugar deposited in my blood stream by the ice cream would increase the amount of unpleasant sweating, and that made pillow even soggier this morning !
Monday 29th June 2009
 04:37 BST

 The air is delighfully cool right now, but soon it will be warming up to another hot sticky day like yesterday. At least that is what I believe will happen. There looks to be quite a lot of cloud in the sky, but it is thin, streaky, and quite high in the sky. There is some redness to be seen among that cloud, and by tradition that is supposed to warn of bad weather. I suppose there is no rule that says a hot and sticky day has to be sunny as well, and like on Saturday night, and to a lesser extent last night, the sky could be heavy with thunder clouds and yet the temperature was very high. Last night was not as bad as Saturday night, and there was no thunderstorm, but a few drops of rain did fall in the early evening. Later on it was unpleasantly hot and sticky when I went to bed, and again I spent half the night with the fan running to keep me cooler. Sometime just before 3 am I woke up feeling cold and turned the fan off, and even climbed under the duvet cover. Initially I was almost too warm again, but did fall asleep only to wake up again just after 4 am with the duvet cover half on, and half off me.

 Today I carry out a cross between a dress rehearsal and an experiment leading up to a possible day out on Thursday and/or Friday. I am going to use my new back pack to lug my netbook, and some assorted stuff, including a selection of fruit for my lunches for the next few days, into work. I think it is going to be rather heavy, and it will be interesting to see how I cope with an unfamiliar load on my back.

 One aspect of this experiment is to see if I can do some brief (and probably very boring) updates to today's diary entry while on the move. To this end I will put a days worth of access onto my O2 mobile broadband pay-as-you-go account, and use my netbook to write the entries. These will be short Twitter-like entries. I don't think I have ever seen a Twitter page, but I believe this micro-blogging service is limited to 140 characters per entry that can be, or are, sent by mobile phone text message. I am not limited like that, but to make things simpler I am going to write each entry into a plain text file that is easily edited directly from the command line using Vim. Normally this will appear in a frame below, but if for some reason your browser can't display frames you can read the raw text file here. If you are insane enough to want to check what sort of rubbish I have written hour by hour then don't forget to hit the refresh/reload button on your web browser each time you check.

Sunday 28th June 2009
 10:05 BST

 After last night's storm this morning is shiny and bright. I think that most of the rain had finished by the time I wrote yesterday, and it then stayed dry overnight. It was certainly dry enough for Smudge to want to stay out again all night, and I can't blame her. It was very hot and humid indoors last night. I think we are set for another hot day today. Temperatures will be close to 30 C, but this could brew up another thunderstorm later in the day. Over the next few days the temperature may rise to above 32C in London. I am so glad I have nice chilly air conditioning in my office at work now !

 Last night when I went to bed I had to leave my fan on full power to get any sleep. It was really unpleasantly hot and humid. Even blinking seemed enough to bring about a sweat. I just lay on top of my bed with the fan blowing air on me, and eventually I fell asleep. At some time in the small hours, I can't remember exactly when, but it was after 1 am, and before 3 am, I woke up feeling a bit on the cool side and turned the fan off. I was just cool enough to pull the duvet cover over me, ( I abandonded the duvet itself when I changed the bed linen on Saturday morning).

 I recall brief details of a couple of dreams I had last night. One was part of a series of dreams I have had for quite a few years now, and this series of dreams has, as it's common background, various fantasy versions of the old BT training school in Old St. It is so hard to recall the details, but I think in this case it was a sort of hybrid between the BT training school, my old school, and one of the colleges I went to. It was some sort of of telecoms or computer/IT training, and with an exam looming I felt very confident that it would be ridiculously easy. Some of my colleagues were less sure, and one in particular very unsure, and he moaned that he hadn't been taught properly (or something). I am not sure who my colleagues were, but they all seemed very familiar even if they apparently didn't have names.

 I am not sure where the inspiration for that series of dreams comes from, but I know what inspired the other dream I can almost recall. The fine details, and most of the images from the dream have now evaporated, but the theme is still sharp in my mind. It was about delamination of printed circuit boards. I can't find a decent link to explain this phenomen so I will attempt to explain the actual problem I have discovered at work.

 Our products, like most modern electronic products, use multilayer printed circuit boards. There are copper tracks on both faces of the circuit board, and connections between the two sides are made by what are known as Vias (presumably from the latin Via meaning a street, or in this case, a way through [or something]). These Vias are like tiny copper tubes that by some magical process are apparently made to be a seamless continuation of the copper on the top surface of the board through to the copper on the undersurface of the board. When the circuit board is stressed by heat, such as when the components are soldered on, it is possible that these Vias can rupture and cause an open circuit. Such boards should be weeded out during their first inspection, and the PCB manufacturer should discard them before they are passed on to us as their customer. A worst case scenario is where only a partial fracture takes place, and initially the board is deemed to be working OK until some later heat stress cause the fracture to completely open.

 I have found evidence that a very small percentage of one of our PCBs, probably a lot less than one percent, is suffering that later problem. There are two areas of the circuit board that run hotter than the rest where two power components are soldered on, and it is under these components where I have identified this problem. It was with hindsight that I recall finding rare examples of this failure in the past, but it was really only brought to light when I tackled a box of about 50 boards that had failed in service, and had been accumulating for the past few months. About 5 or 6 of these boards all suffered from this delamination problem. Fortunately we changed manufacturer of these boards some time ago, and these new Welsh made boards seem to be of far superior quality to the earlier Chinese made boards. However there are thousands of the Chinese boards out in the wilds possibly ticking away like timebombs. So last night I dreamed about PCB delamination. Although the imagery was often a bit weird. I have vague misty pictures lingering in the recesses of my mind of PCBs splitting open more like fossils.

 This morning would have been good for a bit of a walk, but I never did go out, and had a bit of a lay in instead. Apart from feeling lazy I also had a bit too much protien last night, and that left me feeling a bit bloated this morning. My guts were a bit edgy, and it is only now, approaching midday (I've had a few distractions since I started to write this) that I am beginning to feel tolerably comfortable. Perhaps, although there is only a minute chance, I may go for a long walk later in the afternoon or early evening. I really must make sure that I really restrict what I eat on Wednesday night, and preferably before that, if I am ever going to go out exploring on Thursday.
Saturday 27th June 2009
 19:08 BST

 The weather today has been highly variable except for the temperature. It has been hot and humid for most of the day, and that has meant that any significant activity has quickly raised a sweat. Most of the morning, and into the afternoon it was quite bright with a fair amount of sunshine. Later in the afternoon it became more overcast, and by 5pm the sky to the north was looking dark and threatening. At 5:10 pm some very large and heavy drops of rain started to fall, and I could hear thinder off in the distance. Twenty minutes later the thunderstorm was practically overhead. One particularly bright flash of lightning was followed almost immeadiately by a very heavy peal of thinder. Strangely enough there was very little rain falling during the thunder and lightning, and there has been very little since. That little bit of rain does seem to have freshened the air a little, but indoors it still feels quite close.

 Aleemah came over today and brought with her the movie "So I Married An Axe Murderer" on DVD. It was made in 1993, and starred Mike Myers, who would later make the Austin Powers movie series - Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery (1977),  Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me (1999), and Austin Powers in Goldmember (2002). To be honest, I didn't think it was that good, and having watched the Austin Powers movies first, I found that many of the same phrases, sayings, and bits of plot, as used in those later films to be a little irritating. It was a bit like time running backwards (although in the right context going back in time is fine by me).

 I think Aleemah probably went home early enough to avoid the storm we had here, although I think the storm started to the north of here, and that was the way she was heading. So maybe she ran straight into it. After I had said goodbye to here at the station I took a wander down to Poundstretcher where I wanted to buy one of those terrorists essentials otherwise known as a back pack. In late winter, or maybe early spring, just at the time when no one but a bomb packing terrorist would want one, Poundstretcher was packed with them, but no now when the could be useful for holidays and days out. It is for a potential day out that I wanted one. Fortunately a nearby market stall had a selection, and I got a suitable one for a mere 15 (it should have been 14.99 but the stall holder could not find a 1p for change).

 I have booked next Thursday and Friday off work with the idea that I might go for a day out on one or other of those days - maybe both. It all depends on the weather and how I feel. Maybe I'll spend one day relaxing on my bed, and one day boozing in the pub, but if one of the days looks set to be dry, and if I feel the enthusiasm rising, I may spend a couple of hours at the seaside. I have in mind to go to Rye. It's not exactly a holiday resort, but that suits me just fine. A couple of hours taking a few pictures, and maybe a paddle in the sea is all that I desire, and I will probably be back on the train home again.

 To make things more complicated I think I am going to take my netbook and 3G dongle with me (hence the need for a back pack to carry the netbook, a small towel, and few small essentials [packet of fags, spare lighter, etc]). What I am going to try and do is some Twitter-like updates to these web pages as the day passes. I reckon the simplest way to do this is to insert an iframe into this blog (on the releveant day) and use that to show a plain text file. I can then log into my server and use Vim to directly edit that plain text file over an ssh link. It won't look very pretty, but it will be quick and simple to do, and that could be important to preserve the relatively short battery life of my netbook ( 2 hours, or less). I might (but might not) do a practice run of this while I am at work on Monday.
Friday 26th June 2009
 08:58 BST

 My fears about the cloudy sky yesterday morning were groundless. Even before lunchtime the clouds had broken up, and for the rest of the day we were bathed in golden sunlight. This morning my fears about the cloudy sky were correct. I was very gently rained on as I walked to the station, and then rained on a bit more when I walked home again because the next train was cancelled. When I went to catch the next train I was rained on again, but still very gently. As I walked from the station to work there was a tiny bit of very light and intermittent rain, but it was so inconseqential that I could probably have counted each individual rain drop that hit me.

 The clouds do appear to be breaking up now, and with luck the sun will soon be out. The next big question is will it stay out ? The rain seemed light enough when I left home and I took a chance and didn't wear a coat. It is very mild outside, almost warm in fact, and I would soon overheat while rushing around in a coat. Perhaps it would have been prudent to take my coat to work in my shoulder bag. The rather vague, and usually inaccurate weather forecast in my morning paper suggests the possibility of thunderstorms today. Perhaps I am going to drown on my way home, but I rather hope not.

 I also hope I don't get drowned if I happen to go to the pub tonight. I think I am inclined to have a couple of beer tonight. It's been some time since I last had a beer, and I worry I am getting out of practice. If I leave it any longer then I may have to consult my doctor about my problem drinking. I wonder what pills she could give me to induce me to drink a decent 5 pints a night (and 8 on Saurtdays) ? Sadly, tonight, if I do go to the pub, I fear I will only be wanting to drink two or three pints, and then go home to dinner and bed. 
Thursday 25th June 2009
 08:14 BST

 The sky is worryingly grey this morning. As I left for work the entire sky was a relentless grey colour, and it was fairly cool too. Now, some 90+ minutes later, the cloud seems to be breaking up. Perhaps there will be some sunshine soon, or perhaps it will rain.

 It was very pleasant yesterday. I went out for a walk around the park during my lunchbreak, and in a fit of pure masochism I got off the train at Ladywell on my way home from work, and walked through the park there. That really was a bit masochistic because my feet felt tired and sore before I started. However, it all did some good. My blood pressure was lower than it has been lately, although not as low as I would like it to have been.

 If it had not been for some ginger biscuits that I had to eat because they are starting to get soft and stale, I would have been able to claim that I had a nice healthy dinner last night. Although to claim that I would have to conveniently forget about the snack I had of cottage cheese and crackers. Despite these minor inconveniences I did do a lot better than I have done of late, but it is still a long way from the starvation I would like to achieve.

 After my night fighting with the duvet the previous night, I didn't bother getting into bed last night. At about 8.45 pm I lay on my bed, and before 9 pm I was fast asleep. I slept well too. I did wake up at 1.50 am feeling a little too cool, but mostly I just wanted a pee. After dealing with that I thought it was a little too cool to attempt to sleep on top of the duvet and got into bed properly. Once again I seemed to sleep quite well, and I didn't wake again until 4.30 am. On reflection I am not sure if I did sleep that well. I judged that on the fact that I didn't wake up at any intermediate time, but I think I may have overheated or something because I did, and to a lesser extent, still do feel a bit groggy now. The word "groggy" is the best word I can think of right now, but it is not the word I am looking for. I want a word that describes being slightly headachey, slightly stiff feeling, and slightly some other undefined feeling. I think what I am actually describing is the feeling I get when taking the anti blood pressure tablet that I have started taking again after stopping taking it for a week because it makes me feel like I feel right now. (I am sure I could fit some punctuation somewhere in that last sentence, but I think it sounds better when read all in one breath !).

 Last Saturday morning I was feeling rather good (in one small respect) because I had put some more money in my savings account. Now I am not so sure that I might have over done it a bit. I withdrew some cash this morning, and my bank balance is rather on the low side. Not desperately low, but low enough that I do need to be quite careful until the end of the month, and my next pay check arrives. (No doubt it is confessions like this that my reader in China will use to formulate his next avalanche of spam to me).
Wednesday 24th June 2009
 08:04 BST

 Today is continuing the sunshine that started in earnest yesterday lunchtime. It is a bright and sunny morning, the sky has only a few small fluffy white clouds in it, and already it is starting to warm up. Clear skies overnight made the night air rather fresh, and it was slightly cool as I walked to the station. In preparation for a hot day I have already turned the new air conditioning on in my office here at work.

 I felt quite creaky yesterday after spending too long in intense relaxation mode the previous two days. I don't know why I let myself do it, but I guess I didn't couldn't think of anything more worthwhile to do. Maybe I should have tackled my back garden. It is currently in full on jungle mode right now, and it is thick enough to find a lost tribe in. However I dislike "gardening", and worse than that is the headache of trying to dispose, or disperse, the several cubic miles of felled vegetation. So my garden remains like a new continent, ripe to be explored for new wealth and minerals.

 I didn't do any gardening last night either. I went home from work via Tesco where I really just wanted to purchase a couple of bottles of Diet Coke (on special offer at 1 a bottle), and some catfood. Inevitably I bought some other stuff, and significant among that other stuff was a very delicious, very wicked, rhubarb pie. Well, that almost certainly raised my blood glucose level, but I didn't bother to measure it. Whether it contributed to a bad night is debatable. I went to bed quite early, but I felt too hot under the duvet. So I tossed and turned quite a bit before I fell asleep. I think I slept quite soundly until 3 am when I awoke feeling lousy. It was the sort of lousyness you might feel after wrestling with a duvet in your sleep, and that is most probably what I had been doing.

 I felt too horrible to try and go back to sleep straight away, so I got up for maybe 40 - 50 minutes. A little before 4 am I got back in bed, and to my amazement I fell asleep again. I only know this becuase I woke up after a dream. Otherwise it didn't really feel like I had managed to fall asleep. I was awoken by my alarm clock (radio), and that is a very rare event indeed. I normally wake long before it goes off (except perhaps in mid winter when it stays dark for far too long in the morning).

 Apart from some lingering back ache, and few other mostly mild intermittent pains, I feel reasonably OK now. I expect by late this afternoon I will be feeling tired, and keen to get home to put my feet up (and within a few hours, go to bed). Then the cycle begins again. Tonight I will attempt (as I so often do) to try and eat something not too evil, and there is a chance that tonight I will succede. I have been reasonably careful not to stock my larder with too much stuff that I would prefer not to eat (which is why I demolished the rhubarb pie last night so it wouldn't have to go in the larder !). If I do manage to eat what I should eat I may feel a bit more comfortable in bed, and not have to fight the duvet for half the night. Of course it will never happen as well as it could. The chances of me using some hot chilli sauce are remarkably high, and that will make me feel hot when I get into bed (probably).

 All this talk of bed makes me wish for one thing, and it's not bed, or initially it is not. It's bright and sunny outside, and I fancy sitting in a beer garden, drinking beer, and smoking fags, and I fancy doing it not right now, but maybe at midday. After a suitable quantity of beer, say 4 or 5 pints, I could go home, eat a nice greasy dinner, and then go to bed.It's a pity I am stuck at work !
Tuesday 23rd June 2009
 08:03 BST

 One of the strange things about this morning is that there is quite a lot of blue sky visible, but no sunshine. Either the sun has gone out, or a particularly nasty and vicious cloud is making a point of obscuring the sun. Other than that it is reasonably mild and dry. Maybe there will be some sunshine later, or maybe we will get a shower. I think today is just pot luck.

 Yesterday stayed dry. This was rather amazing because many time the sky looked exceedingly threatening. The only sunshine I can recall was at about 5.30 pm, or maybe it was later - I wasn't really paying too much attention to the time. It is possible that what I saw was just a very powerful light because as I was sitting at my downstairs, back room, PC I was suddenly aware that part of the west facing fence was lit up brilliantly. It was lit from the correct direction from where the sun would be shining, but it must have been coming through a tiny crack in the clouds because nothing else seemed particularly bright.

 That brief show of sunshine, if indeed it was sunshine, was the brightest part of yesterday (if you'll excuse the pun). I didn't go to work, and I stayed at home feeling bored. One amusement was reading Douglas Adams' "The Long Dark Teatime Of The Soul". I think the first time I read the book (and I had bought a hard back version of it) I didn't really understand what it was all about. I am not sure I did this time, but I now know that this is perfectly normal, and mostly enjoyed it anyway.

 As you might have gathered, yesterday was my birthday. It was a day that was spectacularly normal in every way except much to my annoyance I did receive one "e-card". Now I do sort of appreciate that someone wanted to send me something, but I hate those bloody spam magnets. I try to avoid giving my email address to any company unless it is essential for the transaction I am engaged in, but for someone to give my email address to a company, especially one that, as far as I know, offers free stuff, is very irritating. If the ecard company offers stuff for free then how do they make their money ? The answer is very simple - they sell collections of email addresses to dubious people, and these dubious people are the ones, not the only ones of course, that fill your inbox with total crap. The email I recieved telling me I had an ecard waiting for me went straight into my spam folder without being opened, and then was deleted. Sorry Dave.

 All in all it was a pretty standard birthday for me - boring and irritating.
Monday 22nd June 2009
07:39 BST

 Today should have started sunny and bright, but instead it is rather grey and dull. Perhaps things will perk up later, but I seem to recall hearing part of a weather forecast suggesting that tomorrow would be the start of better weather. Over the weekend the weather was not bad in as much as it stayed dry and mild, but Saturday morning brought some heavy threatening clouds, and Sunday was mostly dull.

 On Saturday Aleemah visited and we wathched a film called Kaleidoscope. It had it's moments, but overall it was not terribly exciting. After Aleemah went home I spent quite a lot of the rest of the day just reading. It was a new (to me and Tesco's) Jeremy Clarkson book, full of his rants and raves, and called "For Crying Out Loud". Like the last book of his I bought, this one is also a collection of the columns he writes for the Sunday ?????? (Mail, Telegraph, Guardian, or something like that). Much of it was amusing, some of it very funny, and some just interesting. The only thing I disliked was when he took a swipe at the traditional pub. He seems to be under the impression that traditional pubs are full of dart boards and dart players, and argues they should all be turned into gastropubs. This is, of course, total rubbish, and I reckon he was having an off day. The image he portrays 99% of the time seems to me to be the sort of bloke who appreciates a quiet natter with his mates in a traditional pub, but maybe not.

 Yesterday was a fairly typical boring Sunday. I had planned to take another long walk on Sunday morning, but it seemed too grey outside to want to go out. Besides that I was feeling off colour. I am not sure exactly why I felt off colour, but it was probably tiredness for some reason. After getting up early, as I am prone to do, I decided to go back to bed at around 8 am. It seems like some extra sleep was a good idea. I didn't sleep for more than an hour at any time, but it was almost 11 am when I decided to actually get up and get dressed.

 The first thing I did was to go and get some shopping, mainly fruit and veg, and then I came home and started eating. I ate quite a lot yesterday, but much of what I ate was stuff like fruit and salad. My dinner was actually just salad with no meat, fish, eggs, or cheese, but I did put on a fair bit of ultralight mayonaisse. I was also eating stuff like rice cakes with marmite on it. This all sounds remarkably healthy, but there was more that wasn't. For instance, while in Tesco's I noticed that a bag of hot spicy chicken thighs had obviously been mis-priced at just 42p, and I just had to buy them. The trouble was that I only noticed them while succumbing to the temptation of buying some hot southern fried chicken. So I ate quite a lot of greasy pre-ccoked chicken, and to make things worse I ate a hanful of ginger biscuits in the evening.

 Meanwhile Smudge was thinking about eating extra as well. She spent a few hours in the afternoon torturing what was probably a vole, but could have been a small rat. Well she might originally been thinking about eating it, but in the end it was just a plaything. An hour after she got bored with it I saw it still moving, and ultimately it was able to slink away to recover from it's wounds. There seemed to be something wrong with one of it's back legs, but otherwise looked intact. Maybe it has, or is, dying from internal injuries. I guess I will never know, and I don't really think I want to know. As far as I know Smudge does not make a habit of this. It's the first time I have seen her with any "prey", but maybe she usually does it more discretely than right outside the back door. I assumed that because Smudge was feral when she first adopted me she would quickly despatch the rodent and eat it, but no it was just a play thing. I think that had I known she would be torturing the thing for so long I would have intervened.

 Well it seems, much to my surprise, I seem to have survived another year. I have now lived an extra two years, and an unknown amount of days, more than my dad did. This is obviously due to the power of modern medicines like aspirin ! Was it worth it ? Well I guess so. If I were not alive today you would have not spent the last 30 seconds reading this, and I would not have been able to provide this public service of distracting you from more important things.So it's obviously worthwhile being alive.
Friday 19th June 2009
 08:41 BST

 This morning is very similar to yesterday morning, but it might be a bit cooler. Being cooler is a little strange when I think about it. Yesterday morning was a bit breezy, and usually that makes it feel fresher, but the air seems fairly still this morning, and yet it feel quite cool. If the blue sky, and bright sunshine continue for the rest of the day it should get quite warm, but at least one forecast, admittedly from an unreliable sourse, sugests that there will be more cloud later, and the possibility of a shower or two.

 I am hoping for a really hot afternoon. Yesterday, after a long wait, I have finally had a new air conditioning unit installed in my office. I can't wait for the luxury of turning the room into an ice box while all outside are melting. What I find surprising is that it is a brand new air conditioner rather than the existing one. The original idea was for the old one to be repaired. As far as I know the only problem is that the previous tennants, or the landlord after they left, removed the main power to the outside unit. When some airconditioning (so called) experts/engineers came in to check the old unit the first declared that it was not worth repairing because he refrigerant gas used would be illegal at the end of the year. In fact it would only be illegal to recharge it with that gas. If the existing gas was intact there would be no problem of using it for as long as it lasts (as far as I know). I suggested the system could be purged and refilled with a permitted gas, and they confessed that they could do that, but then went on to say that the unit was obsolete, and parts were unobtainable for it. I presume this is the same unobtainable as the parts for my Vaillant gas water heater that I fixed with brand new unobtainable parts recently !

 My experiment with omitting two of my blood pressure tablets seems to have shown that my blood pressure is rising without them. So this morning I have resumed taking one of those tablets. I am not sure if my results are that accurate because there are so many uncontrolled variables. The biggest of these is diet. Two nights of big portions of pasta apparently added a couple of pounds of weight, and this would increase my blood pressure. Last night I ate a lot of protein rather than carbohydrates, and this morning my blood pressure was a little higher still. Curiously though, despite eating quite a lot last night, I seemed to have lost the couple of pounds I appeared to have put on. This is of course all nonsense, and I am making assumptions on individual figures instead of more reliable long term trends. Perhaps next week I might be able to develop a strategy to reduce some of the variables, although reducing my weight should be my prime directive.

 Today is Patricia's birthday, and I would hope that we would meet up tonight for a mini celebration, but I can't see it happening. Maybe I'll pop in the pub for a couple of pints, or maybe I'll try and get an early night (which would be useful considering I seemed to wake up at 4 am this morning).
Thursday 18th June 2009
 08:56 BST

 A perfect morning ! It's warm, the sun is shining, and the sky is 95% blue with just little white fluffy clouds here and there. If it can stay like this all day it is going to be very pleasant. There is a good breeze at the moment, and if that continues too it will make the hot sunshine even more pleasant.

 Yesterday I took a chance on the weather and nearly came to grief ! Just before I left work there was a bit of a shower, and it tried to rain again as I walked to the station. I had great fears that I was about to be soaked, but somehow the worst the rain could do was to dollop a big rain drop on my glasses. A few drops did hit my body, but it was warm and breezy, and they dried out almost before they could feel wet. While I was on the trains there I passed through a few heavier showers, but it was dry when I walked from the station to home.

 My experiment with not taking two out of the three drugs I am prescribed for high blood pressure still seems to be working out OK. My blood pressure has not really changed from my average, but the side effects of those drugs seemed to have almost disappeared now. It is still too early to be totally conclusive about this, and the only sure way to tell if this was a good idea is to start taking those drugs again and see if the side effects return, or if my blood pressure goes down even further. I certainly feel a lot better now. Since I started taking those drugs there were days when it really did feel like I was on the verge of going down with 'flu, but now all those niggardly intermittent aches and pains seem to have abated. Now if only I can try not to eat too much pasta for the next 3 or 4 days, and actually lose some weight instead of putting it on, I may be able to set a new, lower, average for my blood pressure.
Wednesday 17th June 2009
 08:35 BST

 The weather this morning is a bit of a mixed bag. It is warm, and there have been some sunny intervals, but there is also a lot of cloud in the sky. I have taken a chance that there will not be any serious rain showers today, and come to work with no coat. I think it is possible that there could be a shower, or two, today, but I am chancing my luck that it will be dry and sunny when I go home again this afternoon.

 I had a bit of fun yesterday installing Linux Mint 6 as a virtual machine on my work PC that runs Windows XP. Of all the operating systems I have tried using VirtualBox, Linux Mint 6 had the most painless install. Everything just worked, and it took little more than 30 minutes before it was installed, I had added Audacious, the Winamp 2 like audio player, and was listening to Radio Caroline. Even better than that was I was able to zip up the virtual hardrive file, and take a copy home with me where I was able to run it using my Linux version of VirtualBox. Today I have more operating systems to try, either at work, or at home, using Virtual box. Of course all this is pointless, but for me it is entertaining and fun just to try these things out.

 Away from computers, I am now running an experiment on my own body. Since yesterday morning I have ommited to take two of the drugs prescribed for my high blood pressure. They were the first I was prescribed, and seemed to have little effect on my blood pressure, but did seem to cause some various discomforts. I am still taking the third drug prescribed to me, and that one does seem to be having a useful effect. The first results of my experiment are encouraging. Last night, when I got home from work, my blood pressure was as low as the best lows I tend to get at that time of day (and after work). This morning I do feel better in several not too easy to explain ways. Basically I feel more limber, and feel like I have more energy. I haven't actually got any more energy, but the prospect of a long walk, for instance, doesn't seem so daunting before I start. I hope my blood pressure tonight will be within the normal averages I have accumulated over the last several weeks.

 There is an alternative explanation to how I feel, and one that may distort my hoped for low blood pressure reading tonight. Last night I ate more than I intended, and it was high carbohydrate food. I decided that I fancied some pasta. By itself, and in reasonable quantities is not that bad, but as usual I cooked up too much of it (and, of course, ate it all !). It would have been better if I had not thrown a load of diced ham into the pot. That ham was actually sliced ham of the cheap and tasteless variety, and contributed absolutely nothing to the meal except extra calories. Tonight I will try and do better (but it's pot luck if I succede).

 Why is it that a piece of grit, just two atoms of gritonium in size, and barely percepable to the naked eye, should feel like a boulder of sharp angled glass when you try and lie on it in bed ? I was trying to read in bed last night, and every time I moved my buttocks I could feel this gigantic boulder scratching it's way across my skin. When I looked for it I could barely see it, and found it more by touch than anything else. With it removed I was able to lie down comfortably, and later on I seemed to get a good nights sleep.

 One curious thing : I seem to have just made up the element "Gritonium". It may be useful to terrorists to help build their atom bombs, but more interestingly a search in Google draws a blank. Give it a week and maybe, just maybe, a search on Google for "Gritonium" may just show one single page - this one ! Fame at last !!!
Tuesday 16th June 2009
 08:32 BST

 The weather this morning is a lot better than last night. This morning it is bright and shiny. The sky is blue, and the sun is shining. Last night it rained. Actually that is an understatement. Between about 7:30 and 8:30 pm it absolutely poured down, and not too far away the thunder and lightning crashed around the sky. The rain had started off a bit earlier than that, but it was intermittent, and not too heavy.

 At 4 pm, when I left work to go home it was bright and sunny, as it had been since mid morning. As I travelled north towards Waterloo the sky got quite dark and threatening, but once I was travelling south again, towards Catford, the skies lightened up again. I was considering walking home through the park, but there seemed to be a dark threatening cloud approaching, and I thought better of it.

 When I got home it was still sunny, and Smudge went out into the garden for a while. Half an hour later we had the first light rain. It lasted for a minute or two, but it was enough for Smudge to come back in. From then onwards the rain fell more frequently, and the showers got heavier and heavier until at 7.30 pm (or thereabouts) the heavens just opened. Soon I could hear thunder and see the occasional flash of lightning. The centre of the storm, where all the thunder and lightning crashed about, stayed perhaps a mile to the north of me, but the rain was still torrential.

 I am not sure exactly when the rain stopped, but the thuinder and lightning seemed to pass from my horizon by about 8.30 pm. There could have been more, but despite the hot, sweaty, stuffiness of my bedroom, I fell asleep very soon after 8.30 pm. This morning the power of the rain was obvious as I walked to work. I expected everything to be clean and shiny after it's good wash, but the pavements were spotted with bits of moss that had been gouged out of the gaps between the paving stones by the force of the downpouring water.

 Today should stay dry, although apparently there is a chance of a light shower at some time. It is also going to be pretty warm with temperatures around 22 - 23 C, although it might get warmer than that in central London. I certainly raised a bit of sweat as I walked from the station to work.

 I seem to be in one of those indeterminate states again. Bits of me feel good, and bits of me don't. Some of my leg muscles are aching more today than they did yesterday, but somehow they seem to be moving quite well. My shoulder blades (or whatever the top of the back should be called) seem to be sore this morning, and my stomach muscles (but not the gut itself) seem to be sore two. I think I may have slept a bit oddly last night. This does not surprise me. With the rain lashing against my bedroom window pane I did not want to open the window when I went to bed. Consequently the room was hot and stuffy. I had to thrash around quite a lot to try and get comfy as I lay in my hot bed. I probably went to sleep in an awkward position, and then just made things worse by fighting with the duvet.

 Some of these aches and pains, I believe, are made worse, or even caused by one or other of two of the drugs I am taking. So this morning, as an experiment for a couple of days, I have stopped taking them. I am still taking the one drug that does seem to be effective in lowering my blood pressure, and of course I will be monitoring my blood pressure to see what happens. Hopefully there will be no rise in my blood pressure, and some of my aches will evaporate. I estimate that it will take nearly a week to be sure of any changes.

 When you get older you sometimes think that you should know the answers to life's many questions, but then something comes along to make you realise you are just ignorant. I don't know how it got into my mind, but the phrase "big girl's blouse" sneaked it's way into my conciousness. I know that it is used as a term of abuse, but I can't fathom out why. When I try to analyse it all I can think of is that a big girl's blouse has reasonably intimate contact with the big girl's breasts, and surely, for any male, who is the normal subject of the phrase, as in "you're just a big girls blouse", would actually like to have intimate contact with a big girl's breasts. So how is this an insult ?  I doubt there is a real answer to this question, and it will remain just one of life's little mysteries.
Monday 15th June 2009
 08:10 BST

 The sun has made a couple of attempts to shine this morning, but it can't seem to break through all the cloud and mistiness that is giving the sky an unappealing grey colour. One of two things may happen later, although there is the possibilty that both could happen. One possibility is that the cloud will break up, and we will get some sunny spells. The other possibility is that the cloud might thicken, and we will get some rain. It could go either way, and any forecast at this point would either be pure pessimism, or pure optimism. Neither my morning paper, or the Firefox plugin "Forecastfox" gives any help to predict today's weather. The former is extremely vague, and the latter, by saying it is aleady pouring with rain, is blatantly wrong. Well, fingers crossed that it will be dry when I come to make my way home after work.

 The after effects of my extra long walk, yesterday morning, were not bad, and could have even been good. After a bit of a rest my legs recovered reasonably well, and this morning they worked well enough on my way to work. There is a tiny bit of residual stiffness this morning, but it is hardly worth worrying about. The good effect is mainly apparent when I consider what I ate yesterday. I did eat quite a lot, but in my own defence I will say that a considerable portion of that was salad and fruit. When I weighed myself this morning I was about the same as on last Friday morning. Not gaining weight over the weekend is unusual, and makes for an excellent start to the week. Of course if I hadn't eaten the pot of frozen yoghurt yesterday morning I might have actually lost a little weight, and if I hadn't munched on the block of marmite flavoured cheese last night I would have lost even more. Fortunately the effort of walking practically non stop for 45 minutes ending up outside Tesco's, and then walking around Tesco's, and then walking home from Tesco's with 4 heavy carrier bags, seems to have offset eating naughty stuff.

 When I look back, the idea of walking for 45 minutes does not seem that great. Once upon a time, back in 1974 (or 1975) I used to walk for almost a solid hour to get to work, and the same coming home. It is tempting to say that I was younger and fitter then, but initially I certainly wasn't fitter. I can almost remember the first time I did that walk into work, and as I recall it almost killed me ! After a time it became easier and easier, but never truly easy. As I became fitter I found the worst thing was that the walk became tediously dull. I tried a few variations on the route, but that only provided temporary novelty value, and I think I tried some sort of portable music source. I doubt I had a "walkman" then, and I am not even sure they were invented then, but I definitely had a Philips EL3302 cassette recorder, but it's more likely I just used a transistor radio. Even that didn't help because I like to be aware of what is around me, and listen to birdsong as I walk. So basically, walking was very boring then, and still is. By next Sunday, assuming it is not pouring with rain, I hope to have some sort of idea for an even longer walk. At the moment I am thinking of the nature reserve at Sydenham Hill. It's good for birdsong, but I am not sure if I could (or ever could have) walk all the way there. So it may not be such a good idea.

 To amuse myself last night I had a play with VirtualBox. I don't know why I always want to try these things on a Sunday night and end up getting to bed late, but that does seem to be the way these things work. VirtualBox is another implementation of software to run a virtual computer on a real computer. In my case the real PC was running Open Suse Linux, and the guest operating system I tried was Windows ME. Windows ME may not have been the best choice. It was a bit flaky, but it did work. I was able to browse the internet using Internet Explorer 5, and do a few other things. As a test installation it was interesting, but pretty useless. The more useful thing will be for trying out other operating systems, and in particular new (or maybe old) Linux distributions.
Windows ME running in VirtualBox
Windows ME running in VirtualBox
Sunday 14th June 2009
 12:07 BST

 Today started beautifully. It was warm and sunny. Since then there seems to be more cloud, and once or twice I did wonder if it might rain. That seems unlikely now, but later on a light shower might be possible. After a warm sunny afternoon there is always the possibility of a thunderstorm brewing up, but I can't recall anything in any forecast to suggest that might happen today. Last nigh could have been a possibilty though. After a fairly warm day, with a fair amount of sunshine, it did seem to be quite close in the evening. There were a couple of fairly brief light showers around 8 pm, but as far as I know they just fizzled out soon after I went to be.

 I didn't seem to sleep that well last night. I felt hot and sticky when I went to bed, and probably did not fall asleep until gone 9 pm. Once I was asleep I think I only woke up once in the night, or at least I only got out of bed once, but I may well have woken another couple of times and gone back to sleep again after re-arranging my pillows, or duvet. When I did finally wake up at around 4.30 am I was suffering from what is almost probably one of the side effects of the blood pressure pills I am taking. Both my hands were almost numb. One being number than the the other. It is subtly unlike the pins and needles effect of when you accidently sleep on your hand (or whatever), and the numbness wears off a lot quicker than that too. I am sure I never used to get this, or at least not to any significant extent, before I started taking my drug cocktail of anti-hypertension drugs.

 After I had been up for about 90 minutes I thought I would go back to bed and see if I could sleep some more. It seems I did, but I have no idea just how much sleep I did get, and once again, when I woke up, it took a few seconds before I could pick up a cigarette in my right hand. This time I decided to get up properly and went to enjoy the simple pleasure of a hot shave and a cool shower (the novelty of having hot water again still feels good).

 After washing, and dressing, it was still early enough that Tesco, where I needed to do some shopping, would not be open for almost an hour. I was initially at a loss to think of something to do to pass the time, but it looked so nice that I thought I would go out for a quick walk. That quick walk turned out to be quite a long one. I ended up walking through Ladywell fields, and on, and up, to Blythe Hill fields. Half that walk was uphill, and in a few places quite steeply uphill. My body seemed to cope with all this remarkably well, and although the view at the top was not quite as good as I remembered it, it wasn't that bad.
View from Blythe Hill fields
This is the view looking approximately north with the towers of Canary Wharf towards the right hand side of the horizon.

Looking south from Blythe Hill fields towards Kent
This is the view from the south side looking out towards Kent or Surrey.

 My walk ended up lasting about 45 minutes, but that wasn't the real end of it. It was 45 minutes almost non stop walking not from home to home, but from home to Tesco. I had noticed that it was fast approaching 10 am as I made my way past Catford Bridge station on the return leg of my walk. So instead of going home I went to Tesco, dripped my way around Tesco (I was pretty hot after all that walking), and then added an extra five minute walk laden down by four heavy carrier bags full of shopping.

 The total walk was not that much more than the total sum of all the walking I do every work day as I commute to work, but doing it all in one go has left my legs feeling a bit tired. However, as I explained to my doctor, after taking her magic pills I start feeling fatigue within a few minutes of starting to walk, but it doesn't seem to get much worse as I continue to walk. So today's walk was an interesting experiment. After 45 minutes of practically continous walking, stopping only to take a few photographs along the way, and having to tackle some quite steep hills, my fatigue levels were starting to rise again, but I estimate I could have carried on for maybe another 45 minutes before I would either sit down or fall down. Perhaps one day, maybe even next weekend if it's fine, I might even try it, but I think I'll try and stick to more level ground. I may be stupid but I am not a masochist (except when I am trying to mix inappropriate computer hardware with mismatched software). Right now I think I deserve to lay on my bed and do some reading.
Saturday 13th June 2009
 07:30 BST

 Today is forecast to be warm, but cloudy. So far that forecast seems to be about right. It is reasonably mild outside, and it is cloudy. Earlier on this morning the cloud seemed more fragmented, but now the sky seems to be in varying shades of grey all over. Fortunately none of the greys are particularly dark, and the lighter greys may evaporate as the sun climbs higher in the sky. If that is the case then there could be some very welcome sunny intervals.

 After the mild stress of seeing my doctor, and the extreme stress of fixing my water heater on Thursday evening, I did feel a little peculiar yesterday. That was probably as my body chemistry (and stuff) was returning back to normal. Last night I checked my blood glucose level, and my blood pressure soon after getting home from work, and doing some shopping in Tesco on the way. My blood glucose level had fallen to a very satisfactory level, and my blood pressure had also fallen right down. It was not as low as after a really good day, but not far from it. Some of that can be attributed to eating a fairly light dinner on Thursday night. Last night I was not so careful, or at least I don't think I was. I managed to avoid any snacks, or other topping up material, but my main dinner did involve a lot of chicken, and some cheese. However this morning my blood pressure is rather impressively low !

 I must admit I am at a loss to explain why my blood pressure is so low this morning. When I say low I don't mean dangerously low, and in fact it is still a little bit higher than my doctor is aiming for, but it is still rather good for me (actually 148/96). Maybe the stress of changing my bed linen, with all the struggle of replacing the duvet cover, is good for me. Maybe it was the luxury of doing several days worth of washing up in lovely hot water that has done the trick, or maybe it is the anticipation of having a good hot shower that has relaxed me. Who knows ? Maybe it is just pure chance !

 After yesterday's cooler than desired, but still acceptable, shower I think I have tuned the water heater to perfection for this mornings shower. It was certainly just right when I did the washing up, and once the water gets upstairs to the bath it should be just a tiny bit cooler. However there is a chance that it will be too hot. Not so hot that it is uncomfortable, but hot enough that on this reasonably mild morning it will leave me feeling a bit hot and sweaty until I cool off a bit. That's a chance I will take. and because I don't have to rush off to work this morning I can wander around topless cooling off if needed.

 Today I have a visit from Aleemah. I wonder what film she will bring with her for us to watch today ? I fancy something a bit SciFi, but something sexy would be equally acceptable. It is after Aleemah has gone home that things become dangerous for my diet. By tradition I will already have had double egg and chips with Aleemah in the cafe, but after she goes I will be feeling hungry again, and it's often difficult to fight that hunger. So I will have to find some worthwhile things to do to occupy my mind  for the three of four hours before I go to bed.

 One possibility for this evening is to continue my experiments with "Linux on a stick". This, as I wrote about last Thursday, involves installing Linux on a pen drive (USB memory stick, or whatever your favourite name is for them). Without doubt the most impressive distribution I have tried so far is Slax. I originally tried that on an old 256 MB pen drive, and it worked fantastically well, but on such a small drive there was little room left to experiment. Yesterday I took delivery of what should have been 8 very cheap 2 GB pen drives. In fact the rip off company that I bought them from charged a horrendous amount of postage, and although I think the price was still competative it was only so by a very small margin. Yesterday I installed Slax on one of these drives and had plenty of room to add a few of my favourite applications (notably Firefox, Audacious, and VLC player). I still find it amazing that you can get such a good system in so small a space, and it is entirely portable between any PC (or laptop) that is able to boot from an external USB drive. Not only does it have all the applications to do 90% of anything you might want to do on a PC, but it is also very quick and responsive.

 So tonight I think I will make up a couple more Slax drives to give away to any doubters, and also experiment with some alternative Linux distributions. I might even attempt to put Windows XP on a pen drive. I have read that it is possible with a bit of mucking around. If I still have time, although I suspect this experimenting will continue tomorrow, I have at least one barmy idea to try, and that is running a virtual machine within Slax (or another Linux distribution) and see if I can do something loony like running OS/2 on it. Try as I might I can think of no useful reason to do this, but it might still be fun to try (or more likely it will end in total frustration !).
Friday 12th June 2009
 07:50 BST

 It's a rather fine morning. It is not too cool, the air is fairly still, and the sun is shining. From time to time some thin clouds appear, and there are a lot of very high white fluffy clouds. Sometimes the low clouds, the ones that could bring rain, do seem to be gathering, but for the moment they appear to dissipate again. Today is definitely one day where rain would be unfortunate. It seemed so nice when I left the house that I didn't bother to put a coat on. In theory it will be bright and sunny when I leave work to go home, but this is England.............

 I left work at midday yesterday for my appointment with my doctor, and my gas fitter. No sooner had my train left Earlsfield station then the gas fitter phoned to say he would not be able to make it yesterday. He offered two choices. The first was that he could try and call after 5 pm today, and the other was that  have a go at fixing the water heater myself. Both options were not quite to my liking. Going without hot water for yet another morning was something I didn't fancy, and I was wary of working on the heater by myself. The gas fitter did say that if I got into difficulties he could still try and be there tonight to mop up the mess, and also added that it was only the water fixing I would be working on so there were no fears about gas safety.

 I didn't give too much consideration to these options initially because my next priority was to see my doctor. I checked my blood pressure as soon as I got home, and then twice more as the time approached to go to the surgery. First thing in the morning it was high, and about the same when I first arrived home. The next two readings got higher and higher, and then while I was in the surgery I managed to hit mega high ! I had taken my own blood pressure monitor along, and from it's 99 memories my doctor could see how it had gone up as the time progressed. I am now officially recorded as suffering from "white coat syndrome".

 In theory I should not suffer from white coat syndrome in as much as I almost enjoy going to see my doctor. She is a very pleasant person to talk to, and usually it is an enjoyable educational experience. However some other factors come into play, and yesterday was a classic example. I knew that all the anxiety about my water heater - both the bother of only having cold water to wash in, and the the potential for huge expenditure - were making me eat far to much. That was having a detrimental effect on my blood pressure, and my own readings of my blood pressure triggered a self fulfilling prophecy. The anxiety of not being able to show off what could have been a lower blood presssure made my blood pressure go up, and that, in a positive feedback loop, made it go even higher. Well the end result of all this is that my doctor realises that if left alone my blood pressure does go down, and on rare occasions goes almost as low as she would like. So I am not going to see her for 6 week now instead of the usual fortnightly visits. In the meantime I am going to try and do a bit more dieting - until the next crisis comes along !

 Having got back from the doctor, with my blood pressure up in the clouds, I turned my attention to the water heater. I just had to have a go myself. I was close to shaking with nerves as I turned off the water and started to dismantle the diaphragm housing. It was easy to do, and made easier by the fact that it had only recently been dismantled by the gas fitter.
Picture of a Vaillant MAG-sine diaphragmEverything pointed to a faulty diaphragm. This is a large rubber disk (a new one pictured on the left) that responds to the pressure change when water is drawn off the heater. When the gas fitter examined it last week there was no obvious hole or tear in it, but without a replacement he was reluctant to examine it properly for fear of causing damage to it. Once I was able to completely removed it, and give it a bit of a stretch is became obvious that there was a small rip right on the outer edge.

 Pulling everything apart was one thing, but with a brand new diaphragm fitted I had to re-assemble the housing, and re-attach the pipe work. My biggest fear was that I would not be able to get it all back without anything leaking. I have no idea how high my blood pressure went up during that, and maybe it is best that nobody knows. I had one little difficulty lining up the main water inlet gland, but after stopping for a fag even that went on OK. Then it was time to turn the water back on. At this point my hands were genuinely shaking, and I suspect that to measure my blood pressure at that point would have needed equipment usually associated with oil wells !  Much to my great relief everything worked, and nothing dripped. Nothing that is except the heat regulator, but that has intermittently dripped for the last 5 - 10 years (I hear it is a common problem).

 This morning I would like to say I had a nice hot shower, but I didn't. I had left the water temperature set on the low side, and I washed me, and my hair, under water that was about two degrees cooler than perfection. Had it been a warmer morning the water would have been perfect, and on a really hot morning it would have been too hot. So I guess I am happy again, and because it all worked out so cheaply I guess I am now rich again (although finding a 1 coin on the pavement this morning was a major contribution to how rich I feel at the moment). Very soon I will be poor again. It is that time of year when I have to pay my TV licence. I am not sure how much it is because I have yet to dare open the reminder letter, but later today I shall do just that, and gritting my teeth I will pay up. I think I may need a drink tonight !!!
Thursday 11th June 2009
 08:50 BST

 It seems as if Earlsfield is sitting under a divide of the weather. As I approached work the northern sky was dull grey and miserable, while the southern sky was bright blue and sunny. There was probably a light shower sometime prior to 6 am this morning, but it has been dry since then, and I made my way to work in the dry. There were even a few brief sunny spells on the way. As far as I can see out of my widow here, the clouds have now covered a lot of the sky, but they are very pale, and not really gloomy at all.

 I spent a lot of my evening last night playing about with Linux installed on USB memory sticks (pen drives). It seems ironic that the easiest way to "make" these is by sing Windows. One rather impressive bit of software engineering puts a complete(ish) Linux operating system, with the KDE desktop, on a mere 256 MB memory stick. I tried it, and was very impressed. The instructions are here alongside instructions for several other Linux distributions (I strongly recommend Linux Mint 7).

 Today is a day of reckoning. Originally I thought there were going to be just two things to test my resilience, but there turned out to be a third. As I walked up the ramp to leave the platform at Waterloo East station I suddenly realised that I had forgotten to renew my Travelcard. With a just expired Travelcard in hand there is usually no problem explining the error to the revenue protection staff, and getting a new ticket issued by them, but it is still embarrassing. Fortunately the revenue protection staff had arrived late this morning, and were still setting up when I passed them unchallenged. A minute later and I had a shiny brand new ticket from the machine around the corner.

 The other two parts of this day of reckoning are :- First, seeing my doctor at 3.40 pm today. I have not exactly been working towerds this, and my blood pressure won't be as low as I could have got it. Secondly, at about 4.30 pm I have the gas fitter calling to fit the new parts to my water heater. If it works I will be very happy, but if not it will be time to set the wheels in motion to spend a huge amount of money on a new water heater. I am not looking forward to that, and to make things worse it will probably mean going without hot water for at least another week, and maybe longer.
Wednesday 10th June 2009
 09:12 BST

 The weather is very mixed this morning. Prior to leaving home for work there was a brief light shower. It then stayed dry as I made my way to work. When I arrived at Earlsfield the sky was mostly a milky white colour. As I walked the last couple of hundred yards the sun tried to break through, and it almost made it. It got bright enough to give me a faint shodow. Since then the clouds have thickened, and there is some light rain. Most weather forecasts seem to be changing hour by hour. So I have no idea what will happen next.

 Last night I went home via Tesco and bought more stuff I should not be eating. I ate it anyway, and this morning I felt quite rough as I made my way to work. One positive thing is that last night, soon after arriving home from work, my blood glucose level was a very satisfactory 4.9 mmol/L. My blood pressure was higher than I had hoped for, but maybe not unexpectedly. I didn't bother to check either this morning, but if the way I felt was any indicator then my blood pressure was quite high.

 I did feel tired last night, and spent little time on my PC. I did do a bit more work towards my new section called essays (which mostly will not be essays). If I find the energy, or enthusiasm tonight I may do enough to allow the first glimpse of some of my old archived documents. Don't get excited though, most of it will be very boring, and I really have no idea why I am even bothering to put some of those old bits of writing on the web site at all - probably because I can, I guess.

 I gave up on the PC quite early, and went to bed to do some reading by about 8 pm. By 8.45 pm I think I was fast asleep, and I slept solidly (as far as I can remember) until a certain pussy cat seemed to go berserk at 4.20 am. Maybe she started before then, but that was what my clock said when I first opened my eyes. I have no idea what she was up to, but she was rushing about the place like a thing possessed. Perhaps it was a fly she was chasing. All I know is every time she ran into the bathroom she would make a huge racket as she galloped over the loose floorboard, and then when running back to my bedroom she would come to a skidding halt. She did this several times, and there was no way I could get back to sleep while she was doing that. So I got up a lot earlier than I would have chosen to do so. I guess this means another early night tonight !
Tuesday 9th June 2009
 08:37 BST

 My words yesterday morning were "the rain is finally over - until next time", and this morning is "the next time" ! It is a miserable cold grey morning, and to add insult to injury, I was rained on as I made my way to the station, and as I walked from the station to work. Fortunately the rain, while I was out in it, was very light, and I didn't get wet to any significant extent. The rain will probably continue all day, and I can look forward to many soggy fag breaks. I think it might be a micro-degree warmer today comapared with yesterday at the same time. Effectively that means it is still annoyingly cool. One suggestion is that the temperature today will be around 17 C. In mid winter that would be luxury, but in mid June it seems bloody chilly !

 Yesterday the thinner patches of cloud did break up as I hoped they might, and from late morning, to mid afternoon, we were treated to some bright sunshine. Unfortunately the clouds regrouped and hid the sun as I made my way home from work, but at least it did stay dry. I am not that optimistic that I will be so lucky tonight.

 Last night I did two things besides eating. I watched a film that I must have confused with one with a similar title. The film was called Whoops Apocalypse, and for some reason I thought it was something to do with the Vietnam war. Evidently I was confusing it with Apocalypse Now, which indeed was some American Vietanm war flick. The film I watched was definitely British, and very good too.  It concerned a fictional South American Country, a mad Prime Minister, and in a slight departure from reality, nuclear weapons. I am sure the plot line couldn't have been influenced by anything that might have happened involving The Falklands and Margret Thatcher :-) Peter Cook played the Prime Minister, and I am not sure he really played the character as mad enough. It came out as so close to reality that it was sometimes hard to find it funny. I guess we have just got too used to psycho bonkers politicians in this day and age.

 After watching the film I made a start on my new website section that is (often incorrectly) called essays. There is hardly anything to see, so I won't be posting a link to it yet, but I have done a lot of the groundwork, and investigated some old archive disks to find a few interesting bits of text to use. Some of the stuff dates back to 1993, and includes some stuff I wrote about job searches when I had my first period of unemployment, and some letters of complaint to Videotron, the best forgotten old cable TV company.

 I have also thought up some new stuff to write, and one piece was inspired by a half remembered fragment of dream last night. It will be about public nudity, naked women, and stuff like that. Then if my bile is still boiling I will write yet another rant about anti-smoking nazis. There was a couple of column inches in The Metro this morning that seemed to be complaining about smokers still costing the National Health Service 5 billion pounds a year. What I can't work out was why the researchers who came up with this figure seemed so indignant about it. In the next sentence they said that the government (who pay for the National Health Service) made 8 billion Pounds from tobacco taxes. That leaves a surplus of 3 billion Pounds that could be used to treat other addicts, maybe people who are addicted to breathing oxygen perhaps. Us smokers ought to be hailed as national heroes for our selfless acts of helping the sick and needy !
Monday 8th June 2009
 08:45 BST

 The rain is finally over - until next time. This morning it is cold, damp, and grey, but at least it is not raining. There have been hints that we could see some sunshine today. Outside Waterloo station, on my way into work, the sky did get bright enough to cast a shadow. With a bit more effort the sun could have shined. The sky is a sort of mid grey at the moment. It's too dark to be just mist that will be burned off by the morning sun, but light enough that it doesn't look threatening. I am hoping that we could see some sunshine today, and in particular when I am going home from work.

 I started this morning feeling quite ill. I was stiff and aching all over, but it worse around my torso. I am not sure exactly why this should be. I do know what has caused most of it, and that was too much eating and laying around over the weekend, but I am not sure if that was why I woke up at 3 am feeling very hot and sweating - but it could have been. On top of the general pain and discomfort I was also feeling quite low. The boredom of the weekend, and the negative feelings I got when reading The Salmon Of Doubt last night, account for anything not covered by the depression of the miserable weather.

 Being back at work, and having a very interesting challenge have lightened my mood considerably. All the stiff achey bits of body freeing up after my morning exercise (aka commuting) make me feel better too. There is one other thing that is an interesting sort of thing to do, and although it's a project for the future, maybe the very near future, it will be adding an extra section to my website.

 Ever since I got my hands on some rudimentary word processing software, and a printer, I have, in various degrees, enjoyed writing. I never did get the hang of using a pen or pencil for more than a few words, and at school I really didn't like writing. New technology has changed all that, and now I actually enjoy writing such things as this blog. Adding what I call my techno blog (so called because I can't think of a better name for it) is a usefull way of spouting off a load of techno-babble, but sometime I have other things to say. I think I wrote that I had been considering the idea of a special section for the occasional irrational rant, bt I think I have a  more encompassing idea.

 At some time in the future (which could be as early as tonight, but is unlikely to be) I am going to add a section to this website entitled "Essays". As much as I would like to write some pure fiction, I am deficient in certain skills for that type of writing, and I doubt you will read any of that. Some of my occasional rants might seem like the stuff of fiction, or fantasy to you, but I'll know what I am writing about. Some other stuff I intend to put in that section is some older stuff from my archives. One item in particular comes to mind. It was a letter written to The Job Centre while I was unemployed. I am quite proud of it (at least I was at the time) because I think I managed, in the most diplomatic way possible, to heavily insult them and get away with it. I hope I still have it on some back up disk somewhere because it is not on my PC hard drive where I thought it was.

 This new project may take some time to come into being, but once I have something that seems like it might be worth reading, I will, of course, announce it here, and also place a link on my site map page.
Sunday 7th June 2009
 18:51 BST

 Today started with a bang. At 5.30 am, or thereabouts, there was a bright flash of lightning followed by a peal of thunder. Another followed a few minutes later. I didn't try and time the interval between the flash and the thunder to calculate how far away it was, but at a rough guess I would say both were a few miles to the north of here. At the time of the first flas the rain was only moderate, but in the few minutes until the next flash the rain turned into a torrent. Then, just as quickly, it died away again. A few hours later we had bright sunshine. Although the bright sunshine was intermittent, and mainly confined to the morning and very early afternoon, it remained reasonably bright until late into the afternoon. Since then the clouds have thickened again, and although it is dry at the moment, the sky is very grey, and it might rain at any time now.

 I took advantage of the bright sunshine to do some shopping in Aldi this morning. When I left the house I found my neighbour preparing his motorbike for a days ride out to (most likely) Brands Hatch. he told me there was some thunder and lightning last night, and one clap of thunder came from very close by. I must have been very soundly asleep because I can recall nothing of that.

 There was only one good thing I bought from Aldi. It was a scart lead adapter set. I don't actually need one right now, but it was exactly the sort of thing I have struggled to obtain a few times in the past. Now I have one I probably won't ever need it, but that's life ! The other stuff I bought in Aldi included a fair amount of stuff I really desperately want to avoid. I had some crazy notion that I could lose a lot of weight before seeing my doctor next Thursday, but all I seem to have done this weekend is to eat large amounts of inappropriate stuff. The only thing I am proud of is that I managed to stop eating some peanuts half way through the packet. That is a rare achievement for such an addictive food. Maybe there is hope after all, but not this weekend !

 Today has been a sort of depressing day. Being slightly bored, and having a mild stomach ache from eating too much crap doesn't help, but one thing in particular has made me even more depressed. This afternoon I have been reading "The Salmon Of Doubt" It is, in effect, the last book Douglas Adams wrote, though to be more accurate it is a posthumous collection of his writings. Various bits of it give me negative feelings, but overall it is the fact that such an inventive, entertaining writer should die so early when he could have written so much more that depresses me the most. The other depressing things were nothing substantial, but just little bits and pieces, odd sentences, and subliminal hints of a type of life I never seemed to manage to experience. Looking out the window at the dark glowering sky does little to enhance my mood right now.

 In an effort to be positive I am trying to think of the good things this weekend. Undoubtably the highlight was when my water heater briefly worked yesterday morning, and I was able to wash my hair, and have a good shower in hot water. Getting my mobile broadband dongle, and my digital TV dongle working with my fresh installation of Linux Mint 7 was pleasing, although it lacked the excitement of when I first had them working on a Linux PC.

 The only other good thing this weekend that comes to mind right now was the mushrooms I had with my dinner tonight. They were very large mushrooms that I cooked in the oven under some pork sausages. They had the most delicious mushroomy taste that I have tasted in ages. The smaller ones that I usually buy from Tesco are quite bland by comparison, or maybe it was just the way I cooked them that made the difference. Letting them soak up the fat from the sausages was not the healthiest option, but if that was the reason for their tastyness then it was well worth the extra 99 years I have just taken off my life !
Saturday 6th June 2009
 09:56 BST

 The weather has finally done it's big turnaround. This morning is cold and damp. So far as I know there has been no heavy rain, but plenty of drizzle. There is the merest hint that there are some thin patches in the otherwise completely grey sky. Maybe one of those will get thin enough to let in some weak, watery sunshine, but it seems unlikely. Meanwhile, it is cool enough that I have had to resort to putting on the heater while sitting down to quietly read.

 Last night I had a good time. Ignoring a brief light shower, I went out to the pub after work to meet Iain for a beer. Iain was a little late getting to the pub, and by the time he arrived I had already drunk three quarters of a rather delicious ale. It was Hambletons Bitter, and I went on to drink another three pints of it before I left the pub. One curious thing is that the pump handle label said that it was a beer brewed with honey and elderflower, or at least that is what I thought it said, but I could find no mention of this on the Hambletons web site. Two possibilities spring to mind. Either I have remembered the name incorrectly, or the pump handle label was just giving tasting notes implying that it tasted as if it has honey and elderflower in it. One other possibility is that the label was just wrong, and this is a good possibility because I could not detect any honey or elderflower in the rather good taste of the beer. Then again, many (alleged) booze experts come up with all sorts of weird and wonderful ideas about how booze tastes (with wine tasters being definitely the most weirdly imaginative).

 I left the pub feeling very good, and without a shred of will power. In fact my will power was seriously diminished by the second pint and I was already hatching ideas for some tasty dinner when I got home. After four pints there were only a few serious possibilities - kebab, curry, Chinese, or fried chicken and chips. There is a kebab shop next door to the pub, but chicken shish kebab is slow to prepare, and I didn't fancy hanging around. By not crossing the main road at the first crossing on my way home I have to go past a fried chicken shop to get to the next crossing, and it was there that I bought a heap of fried chicken and chips. I took the food home and sat down in front of the TV just in time to see a programme that I had seen listed earlier, and that looked interesting. It was a documentary about the history of the Island record label. It was well worth watching, and featured clips of many great bands who appeared on that label.

 I went to bed very late last night, but still woke up very early - and with a hangover ! I am not exactly sure where the hangover finished and where a sort of yucky feeling from the excess of greasy food started, but together they made me feel quite ill. After an hour or so , and a few glasses of water, I went back to bed and managed to sleep for a few more hours. I awoke feeling a lot better, but still a bit crap. The prospect of washing in cold water again did not appeal to me much in that state, but I did it anyway.

 A little later a miracle happened. I had just put the washing machine on, and when it has finished filling with (cold) water it always shuts the water supply off with a bit of a bonk. It is highly likely that that bonk travelled up the pipe to the water heater and did something, because when I turned the hot tap on to wash some strawberries I heard a familiar noise. It was the sound of the burners in the heater igniting. I quickly put the strawberries to the side, adjusted the water temperature, rushed upstairs and turned the bath tap on, rushed back down to turn the kitchen sink tap off, and then pausing only to make sure the heater was running stably I went back upstairs and enjoyed the luxury of washing my hair, and taking a shower in glorious hot water ! Of course the next time I turned the hot tap on nothing happened, but it was excellent while it lasted. One other thing about it was that it adds to, or confirms, the evidence to pinpoint the exact area where the water heater is failing. This further boosts my optimism that once the parts I have ordered come through, and the gas fitter can do a proper service to that area, I will once again have hot water at a turn of the tap.
Friday 5th June 2009
 08:30 BST

 The forecast bad weather is slowly creeping towards reality. There was a lot of broken cloud when I left home to catch the early train. That train was cancelled, and as I walked back home again the sun peeped out from among the clouds, and gave some warmth to an otherwise cool morning. There was no more sunshine when I walked back to the station for my usual train, and the clouds have thickened a lot more since then. The sky is now looking very grey, and rain can't be far away.

 For yet another morning I washed in cold water, but I have some cautious optimism that I will get my hot water back without having to pay a huge amount of money for a brand new water heater. I did some research yesterday and found that the alleged impossible to get spares for my existing water heater are in fact available. The most significant item is the diaphragm that is part of the water flow detection system. I have ordered one of those (or possibly a pack of five) for about 12. When the gas fitter checked the diaphragm last Tuesday it did look intact, but it may have had a hole that was only apparent when the rubber was stretched. At that time there seemed no prospect of replacing it, and so he did not to muck about with it too much to avoid causing new damage. Plus there were a few bits underneath it that could only be serviced by completely removing the diaphragm - again avoided to prevent any new damage. Now, with a diaphragm, or five, available he can do a far better service. Hopefully this will be a total cure to all my problems. If not, then I will have thrown good money after bad, and will end up having to shell out for a brand new heater.

 I felt very tired again when I got home last night, but for the second night I actually went to bed late instead of early. The reason for this is that I decided to do a new clean install of Linux Mint 7 on my Aspire 1 netbook. I did mean to time the process, but I didn't. However a rough estimate can be made by the fact that I started just before the 6 pm news came on TV, and I had a fully working, with updates, system installed before the local news programme had finished at 7 pm. I then spent nearly two hours installing some extra software, and checking things out like my O2 mobile broadband modem dongle. My final conclusion, with just one caveat, is that Linux Mint 7 is pretty close to perfect, and is easier to install and use than Windows. That one caveat is that one thing did not work. The Aspire 1 has an inbuilt SD/MMC memory card reader, and without some special fiddling (equivalent to tracking down some obscure Windows drivers) they do not work. It is something I intend to look into at some point, but for me it is a very low priority thing.

 Having finally turned off the netbook I checked my desktop computer before heading to bed. Several emails had come through, and one I decided to reply to. It was close on 9.30 pm when I turned off the computer and went to bed. It was one of those nights where you jump into bed and think that you are not going to go to sleep, but the next thing you know is that you are waking up many hours later. I think I slept well apart from waking up briefly at 3 am, but I doubt I would be feeling tired now if I had managed a few more hours sleep. Well, the weekend is almost upon us, and I hope I will be able to get plenty of sleep then.
Thursday 4th June 2009
 08:25 BST

 It is cooler this morning than it has been of late. The air is close to chilly, but the sun still feels delightfully warm. When I left home this morning the sky was mostly blue, but since then a lot more cloud has appeared. It should stay dry today (or it better had because I have no coat with me), but there will, apparently, be much more cloud, and it will be far cooler than yesterday. Rain is still forecast for tomorrow, but it may well be lighter, and more intermittent, than earlier forecasts suggested. Yesterday was cloudier than expected. At lunchtime it was almost dull outside, but it stayed dry, and brightened up from time to time.

 I felt very tired when I got home last night. I had slept badly the previous night, and ended up effectively getting up before 4 am. It was my intention that I would be in bed very early last night, but it didn't happen. I went home via Tesco, and although I tried to be careful about what I bought I was feeling so tired that my will power was very low. I ended up buying a small hot roast chicken, and I devoured that with some potatoe salad and tomatoes when I got home. I compounded my gluttony by having a liver sausage sandwich later in the evening.

 Perhaps it was because I was feeling happily full, maybe it was to distract me from the woes of my water heater, or even maybe, and in truth more likely, I was just overcome by curiosity about The latest version of Linux Mint that I had downloaded a day or two earlier. Previous versions of Linux Mint have always seemed rather good to me. The latest version, version 7, code name Gloria, is no exception. As in previous versions it is essentially Ubuntu Linux, but Mint get rid of the awful sludgy brown, feacal, colour scheme that Ubuntu seems to have fetish for, and then adds a few enhancement to the desktop, and they also provide a more comprehensive and saner application repository (although the Ubuntu repositories can still be used). The whole Linux Mint experience seems far slicker, and certainly easier on the eye than Ubuntu.

 Like many modern Linux distributions, Linux Mint runs initially as a live CD. When running live it is slow and sluggish because accessing a CD drive is far slower than a hard drive. However, once running in live mode there is the opportunity to install to hard disk. This is simplicity itself, and unless, like me, you need to juggle hard disk partitions because you have a fiendish triple boot computer, it is far easier to install than any version of Windows. For instance, Linux is usually intelligent enough to know that if you selected a United Kingdom keyboard there is a good probability that you are located in the United Kingdom and not in some south Pacific Island ! Quite why Microsoft thinks that if you chose a UK keyboard layout that your location should be in California, and your timezone be EST (or something perverted enough to not be GMT/BST). I think that maybe Windows Vista does not make you choose your location three different times when installing Windows, but I am damn sure that all earlier versions of Windows did.

 Anyway......last night I tried Linux Mint on my Acer Aspire One netbook. In live mode it seemed to work rather well. So I installed it in place with of the hybrid Ubuntu/Xubuntu/Easy Peasy linux that was one of the three different opearting systems I can boot into on that machine (the others being Linpus Lite Linux, and Windows XP). As I have remarked, installation was very simple, as was installing updates and also some new software. There was one little problem though, and one I have yet to resolve. By default I believe I should have been running the Xfce4 desktop, but upon booting I get an error message saying there is a problem with xfce4. This is irritating, but such is the superiority of the system that instead of getting a blue screen of death, such as Windows may offer, Linux Mint falls back on a default Gnome desktop. This is not just a basic emergency screen, but a fully functional desktop with full acccess to all software. The only thing it lacks is some customisation, and that is simple to do. My default desktop now has a nice background picture, some useful icons, and just about everything else to make it perfect.

 I think from first booting with the live CD to finishing with a fully configured desktop took, and all updates and extra software installed, took 2 hours or less. I think that was pretty good going, and I went to bed feeling rather pleased. I slept well too, and although I was up before my alarm went off, it was only by about 15 minutes rather than the nearly two hours early of the previous night.

 This morning I had to wash in cold water ! My water heater is still very cranky, and it has got to go. My research on water heater prices did leave out a few extra expenses. For instance I will probably need a new flue, and that will take the price up closer to 400, and then there is postage and handling that will add a fair bit. I could order the heater and flue myself, and just get the plumber to fit it. that would certainly be the cheaper option, and would give me more control of the final cost, but it would mean that I would have to take days off work waiting for it to be delivered. In the long run it's probably worth paying some extra to let the plumber worry about that. So I guess I will be looking at a total cost nearer to 700. There is no way I can pay that from one months salary even if I did dip heavily into my savings. So this morning I have applied for a credit card, and I will then be able to spread the cost over two, or if neccessary three months. I am not anticipating any troubles getting a credit card, but it will take time. I think I will be having cold showers for the next couple of weeks !
Wednesday 3rd June 2009
 08:30 BST

 It's happened again - another bright sunny morning. Weather forecasts suggest this could be the last morning like this for some time. It should stay dry and sunny today, then just dry tomorrow, and by Friday it will be raining. We'll see, but although today is not forecast to be as hot as yesterday, I will enjoy the sun while it shines.

 The plumber turned up to fix my water heater about 15 - 20 minutes late yesterday afternoon. This was no problem, and he was probably closer to be on time than I expected. The good news is that he did manage to coax some life out of the old beast, but the appliance is effectively obsolete, and a replacement is going to be the only answer. The charge for his 1.25 hours of service came to 129.38, but he did admit that he was working as a subcontractor, and in future I could approach him directly at half the rate charged by the company who hired him.

 When he left I was able to get hot water, but it was very touchy. This morning I managed to get the burners to light up while drawing hot water downstairs, but the water was far too hot to use directly. When I turned the regulator down the flames soon sputtered out again. Eventually I managed to get them to light again with the regulator full on, and the water scalding hot. So I turned down the gas inlet valve until the water reached a reasonable temperature before rushing upstairs to turn the bath tap on. Leaving that tap running, or actually just about dribbling, I went back downstairs and turned off the tap over the kitchen sink. The burner continued to burn, and I was able to wash my hair and have a good shower. No, not a good shower, nor was washing my hair totally satisfactory. With the temperature regulator turned up so high the water pressure drops a lot, and I had to wash under little more than a trickle of water. As a compromise it worked, but it was far from satisfactory.

 I now face having to get a new water heater fitted. The official quote for this was 1200, but the plumber issued his own unofficial estimate of around 850. That unofficial estimate was based on the cost of a new water heater, after some sort of undisclosed discount, costing around 500. An internet search turned up a suitable replacement for between 320 and 350, and with the higher price companies promising to price match any cheaper price. The water heater I selected appears to be identical in size to the old one, and although I have yet to download and check the data sheet, it seems very possible that it uses the same sort of flue fixing. If the inlet pipes are in a similar place it could be a very easy job to install the new heater. In which case I would hope I can knock down the entire price to something closer to 600 - 650. I would have to live like a pauper, but I could just about afford to pay that this month with a little aid from my savings account.

 Digging into my saving account would be unfortunate, but it looks like it may have to be done just at a time when I was beginning to actually start to build my savings up after flattening the account while I was long term unemployed a few years back. I suppose this is what my saving account is all about - saving for these unforeseen expenses, but once I have dipped into it I will then have to worry about not having enough in it for the next emergency. Oh well, such is life !
Tuesday 2nd June 2009
 07:56 BST

 I don't know how long the weather can keep it up, but this morning is another fine morning. Once again the sky is blue, and the sun is shining. It is still a little on the cool side right now, but should soon warm up. Yesterday warmed up to apparently the hottest day of the year so far. I think the temperature was reported to be 28 C in London. The afternoon did get a bit sticky, and the heat brewed up a bunch of clouds, and a heavy localised downpour. I expected a bit of thunder and lightning, but that didn't happen, and the rain soon stopped again.

 I spent some of yesterday morning at work looking for a plumber to fix my broken water heater. Eventually I found one who I hope is competent and doesn't overcharge. I have a great mistrust of plumbers, but the law of averages (or something) says that some must be OK. He is coming at 3 pm today, and will be charging 90 (plus vat) per hour. Their website suggests that might include parts, and perhaps does include small parts for a "standard service", but I doubt that will be the case for my old heater. My biggest fear is that my heater is so old that any parts will be unobtainable, and the only answer will be to get a new one. That will be painfully expensive. So I still pin my hopes on a good clean and adjustment will provide a working cure even if it doesn't bring the device up to factory specifications.

 While yesterday morning had been delightfully bright and sunny, the growing clouds were increasingly blocking the sun when my lunchtime came around. It didn't seem likely to rain at that point, and so I went out for a 10 - 15 minute stroll around the park. It was quite warm so I didn't walk as fast as usual, and I didn't take the longest possible route. Nevertheless, I still arrived back at work feeling quite sticky, and although it may not have been as theraputic as some previous efforts, it still contributed to pleasing blood glucose and blood pressure reading when I arrived home after work.

 In the next hour the clouds thickened, and the air grew quite humid. It seemed a thunderstorm was brewing up, but it still took my by surprise when the heavy rain started to fall. I suppose it was also a surprise that there was no thunder and lighning. It had started to rain at 3.30 pm - just half an hour before I was due to leave work wearing only a short sleeve shirt. So the third surprise is that the rain stopped as quickly as it started just five minutes before I was due to leave. The rain had actually been a blessing. The air felt wonderfully fresh as I walked towards the station, or at least it did until I was about two thirds of the way there. When I got as far as the shops that line the street a few hundred yards from the station, the sun was "boiling off" the wetness, and the air became quite humid again. Worst than that, the smell had changed from that fresh rain smell to something more akin to stale urine. I don't think the Earlsfield inhabitants are renowned for pissing in the street, well not most of them, so it was probably a combination of dog urine and stale fast food droppings.

 It seems that the rain didn't hit everywhere at the same time, and I later had reports that Croydon didn't have any rain at all. The rain must have hit Catford sometime around 4.30 pm by my estimate. The first indication that catford had been heavily rained on was when my train home called at Ladywell station. As the doors opened I could see fresh puddles, and there was a very heavy "woodland smell" coming from all the folliage in the adjacent park. The particular cloud that had deposited all the rain must have been moving from north because at Catford, just over a mile to the south the puddles were already beginning to dry up.

 I didn't go straight home from the station, but instead walked the opposite direction to Wickes, the builders/DIY store to buy a couple of taps, and a wrench. I thought it time to do a little DIY plumbing before the professional arrives today. The cold tap on my kitchen sink had become very worn over the last 25 years, and although water tight when off, it was stiff, and would dribble water out from around the tap handle when on. Also the cold tap handle of the bathroom hand basin, made of acrylic plastic, had become loose and useless a year or two ago. For the previous two mornings I had been using the slightly warmer, but still very chilly, water from the cold tank in the loft to wash with. With a useless tap handle on the tap I had to resort to using a pair of pliers to turn the tap on and off. Last night I succesfully replaced both tap mechanisms, and now have lashings of cold water whenever I should want it (which I would prefer not have to want).

 This morning, once I have got myself in the right mood, I have a lot of cleaning to do. I made a start last night clearing up the kitchen to give the plumber room to work, but there is still much I have to do. I only got as far as throwing some junk out, and moving some stuff around last night. Today I have to do some actual cleaning using no more than icy water ! It's not going to be fun, but the work is well over due, and the results will be quite pleasing (I hope). The one thing I won't even attempt to touch with cold water will be my gas cooker. Without the facility to boil it in concentrated caustic soda for a few hours it will take many weeks of constant attacks with hot water and strong cleaner to get that looking anything like clean. It is actually probably a lost cause, and the only real solution is replacement. However it is still very functional, and my inner miser is loathe to spend money to replace a working appliance. Maybe one though, maybe one day.............
Monday 1st June 2009
 08:07 BST

 June has started off with a fine morning. There is some streaky cloud high in the sky, but the sky is mostly blue, and the sun is shining. I believe the sun should be out all day, and the temperature this afternoon should be above 25 C. This is all very much the same as yesterday. There was some breeze yesterday (and some this morning) that helped to make the day feel more fresh and vibrant. I would say that yesterday was a perfect sort of day, and I hope today will be the same. There was one thing last night that may have made the day a little less than perfect for some. It did get quite cool as the sun went down. It didn't bother me because I was in bed by then, but some may have suffered.

 Yesterday had it's moments beside the good weather. At 1 pm I (rather unusually) went out for a few beers. I spent a couple of pleasant hours out in the sunshine in the company of Dee. Ideally Patricia would have joined us (in fact it was Patricia that Dee really wanted to see). Sadly Patricia seems to be having some ongoing dental problems. I am not sure if she has an infection in the site of her tooth extraction, or if another tooth that needs root canal treatment is the cause of her difficulty. She reported that she was in some sort of pain, and had started a course of antibiotics. Under such circumstances she declined to join us for a drink.

 I came back from the pub feeling very hungry, and although I tried to limit what, and how much I had to eat, I did not make a very good job of it. So over the weekend my intention not to attempt to lose any weight definitely happened. It would be truer to say that I possibly gained a little weight, but nothing to worry about. Monday to Friday is my best productive period for losing weight, and even if I spend today losing what I have put on over the weekend, it still leaves four clear days to lose a few more pounds. No mater how my weight may have changed, both my blood glucose level, and my blood pressure were better than I predicted them to be when I measured them soon after waking up.

 I have a little problem at the moment. My gas water heater has packed up. For a long time now it has been temperamental. There is a device in it that regulates the gas according to the water flow to maintain a near constant water temperature (it's not actually a thermostat, but functions as one). Over the years that has gradually deteriorated, and I have had to turn the thermostat up higher and higher while throttling back the external gas valve in order to keep the temperature down. On Friday morning I had to fiddle around a lot with the regulator/thermostat before the gas to the burners was let through to give me hot water. On Saturday morning I had to resort to hitting the thermostat with a big screwdriver handle before the thing burst into life, and on Sunday, and this morning, I had to wash in cold water !

 I theory repairing my water heater is simple. The water flow device needs stripping down and cleaning, and it is possible that a diaphragm may need changing. Apart from obtaining a new diaphragm, and some special water repellant grease, it is the sort of job I ought to be able to do myself, but I fear I am going to have to get someone in to do the job. Quite when that will be is anyones guess, but while the hot weather continues I can stand a cold wet flannel around various bits of my body. Washing my hair is going to be the difficult, or agonising thing, but I'll get around that somehow when the need arises.