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Saturday 30th May 2009
 09:17 BST

 Another fine morning ! Once again the sky is blue and the sun is shining, and what's more it is warmer than mild, and getting warmer all the time. Potentially it could be quite a hot day. Yesterday was very similar except that it didn't get particularly hot, or at least it didn't feel that way. There was a fairly fresh breeze that took the edge of the heat, but it was still very, very nice.

 Yesterday morning I had a strange heady feeling that I have had before. It feels as if the potential to come over all light headed is there, but it doesn't quite happen.  It is not particularly pleasant despite also feeling a bit like being slightly stoned. Perhaps the worse aspect is that it was spoiling my concentration at work, and made me less productive that I would like.  I attribute it to my blood pressure dropping as it seems to do while I am at work.

 By lunchtime the feeling had abated, and after eating I went for a stroll around the park. I didn't have time for the full circuit, but did a brisk walk around half the perimeter. It felt wonderful being out in the sunshine, but even that short walk felt a bit like hard work. Since my blood pressure has dropped all forms of exercise seem harder than before, but as I have remarked before, the mild fatigue comes on very early, but never seems to get worse.

 I had another demonstration of this effect on the way home. It was such a beautiful day that I did something I have never done before, although I have contemplated doing it in the past. I got off the train at Ladywell station and walked home through the park. I guess it takes about twice as long to walk home that way - about 10 minutes instead of 5 - but with thetrain taking approximately 2 minutes between Ladywell and Catford Bridge station I guess I only lose about 8 minutes. The disadvantage is that it would involve a fair bit of extra walking if I then wanted to do any shopping on the way home.

 I guess I had only been walking for two minutes before I wished I was at home with my feet up, but the next minute felt no different to the last minute. When I did get home I first fed Smudge, and then I checked my blood glucose level, and my blood pressure. I expected my blood glocose level to be very low, maybe below 40, but was surprised to see it at 4.6. I think my doctor would agree that 46 is actully a very good level. My bigger surprise was my blood pressure. It was the lowest systolic pressure I have ever recorded. If I could keep it at that pressure, 144, then my doctor would definitely stop bothering me. Unfortunately this confirms my worst nightmare - that I am doomed to work for the rest of my life, and endlessly walk like some land bound version of the Flying Dutchman if I am to keep my blood pressure low.

 This morning my blood pressure is once again back to 168, and my blood glucose level is back to 68. The glucose level is of no real concern, although I would have prefered it to be lower for one simple reason. The lower it is the more weight I lose. All my efforts, and careful eating, having been paying off. If I am not very slightly lighter now than my best previous achievements this year, then I have now equalled it. This weekend I doubt if I will lose any significant weight, but I will try not to gain any. Then during the working week I hope I should be able to lose at least 4 pounds. Then if I can manage just another 1 or 2 before I see my doctor in the middle of the following week I should be able to report to her a much improved weight. If my theory is correct she will also see a useful drop in my blood pressure too. (I have to keep writing these predictions in various ways just to convince myself).

 Later this morning I will be seeing Aleemah. This will invariably mean a visit to the cafe. Ideally I should just a diet coke in there, and have nothing to eat, but I don't think I am going to fight the temptation to eat something, and that something is probably going to be double egg and chips. Although that is incompatible with my diet, I will try and compensate for it later on, but my chief aim over the weekend, as I said earlier, is to avoid putting on any weight rather than try hard to lose any.

 Tonight I will be eating some sort of salad. There is plenty of scope there to add ingredients that I should avoid, and I'll try and go easy on them. One ingredient folklore says consumes more energy to consume than it gives. That ingredient is celery. I had one piece for breakfast a short while ago. I am not sure if this theory includes the extra muscular effort of pulling faces while you eat it. I haven't had any celery for a long time, and I only bought some in case Aleemah wanted any in her salad. It is every bit as revolting as I remember it. If all I had to eat was celery I wouldn't just lose weight, I would shrivel away to nothing. I'd rather eat my old socks than eat celery !
Friday 29th May 2009
 07:40 BST

 Unlike yesterday when I thought the day was starting nicely, today has most definitely started nicely. The sky is blue, the sun is shining, and it is even fairly warm. If the sun stays shining we could end up with a very hot afternoon. Yesterday had some sunny spells in the first part of the afternoon, but the clouds started to close over again when I left work at 4 pm. As my train approached Waterloo the clouds were looking quite thick and threatening to the north, but it didn't stay that way. By the time I reached Catford the clouds had got thinner and lighter, but had not broken up enough to let any sunshine through. The predicted temperature of 24 C probably didn't happen. It seemed cool outside work compared to inside, but I later realised that the humidity was quite high. As I rushed around on my way home I soon became warm and sticky, and I wasn't even wearing a coat.

 Last night I was happy to measure the fruits of my more careful eating. My blood glucose level was almost low at 4.2 mmol/L. Although I am now thinking there is no exact correlation between my blood glucose level and my blood pressure (despite still not doing the maths), I was also happy to see my blood pressure was back to the improved readings I  have had recently, although it was the relatively low morning reading  that was more encouraging. Extrapolating this mornings readings to predict what I will be like when I get home suggests that I could be feeling quite bad from low blood glucose levels, and low (for me) blood pressure. Having low readings in these departments is supposed to be good for me, but it will be a bit embarrassing if I collapse because of it. The chances of that happening are quite, quite small, but the possibility does exist.

 You would think that with my blood reasonably under control I would be feeling well, and for the most part I am, but there is one fly in the ointment. I suspect..............well I am pretty sure, that it was the fault of the shoes I wore to work yesterday. They were very comfortable to wear, but not to walk in. I have a pain across the top of my left foot. It was rather painful to walk with it last night, and it was even aching when I went to bed. This morning I am wearing my steel toe cap safety shoes. They are heavier to walk in, but seem to support and flex in all the correct places. Since coming to work in them my foot has actually improved. I hope that when I come to go home again I will not even realise that I had the pain in the foot at all.

 I had one major difficulty when coming to work. I had to call into the shop that has some delicious sandwiches and a good selection of biltong. All I required was a couple of 500 mL bottles of Diet Coke, but I wanted so much more. There was a gigantic battle of wills between the rational and irrational parts of my brain. I am happy to say that the rational won through, although a big packet of biltong (chilli flavoured !) would have been so nice.

 Tonight my main priority is to try and keep my calorie consumption down. I think it will mean more soup. Last night I had two cartons of soup. One was a rather delicious Thai chicken soup that added up to an unfortunate 350 calories. The other soup was spicy lentils and only had 180 calories for the same sized portion. That soup could have been, and ought to have been, very tasty, but it wasn't. It tasted like lentil soup that had had a spoonful of cheap curry powder thrown in it. I think if the makers had just stuck to garlic and chillies it would have been a lot better. It's probably something that I ought to try and cook myself.

 My one indulgence last night was a couple of Thai prawn fishcakes. I ate those between the soups. To finish of my dinner I had a packet  (tray ? punnet ?) of melon and grape assortment. That finished me off nicely. If I can repeat the sort of food intake of the last couple of days I should lose the few pounds I put on after the last diet fizzled out, and finally hit my next self inspired target I thought I was going to reach before, sometime in the middle of next week. There's a lot of "ifs" in that, but I do now have some sort of ulterior motive to inspire me. I have noticed that my blood readings are responding favourably to these last couple of days of dieting. If I can make a big improvement by the time I see my doctor in just under a fortnight I will be able to say "I told you so". I had argued that my diet was higher priority than my blood pressure because my blood pressure would drop as my weight dropped. By distracting me from what was a succesful diet, and even putting it into reverse, by concentrating on my blood pressure my doctor had actually made my blood pressure worse - or so I think. Time will tell whether I am right or wrong.
Thursday 28th May 2009
 07:55 BST

 When I first woke up it seemed like it would be a sunny morning. Since then the clouds have gathered, and although it is very light cloud, there does not seem be a patch of blue anywhere in the sky. The weather forecasters have promised us that the cloud will eventually break, and that this afternoon there will be sunny periods with temperatures as high as 24. That remains to be seen. My forecast for yesterday turned out to be way off the mark. I thought there would be no rain, but soon after I had written that we had light drizzle that lasted much of the morning. The afternoon was dry, but it remained overcast for the rest of the day.

 I am pleased to say that my blood pressure remains at my current average this morning. It was typically a bit higher this morning than it was last night, but none of the excessively high peaks I was experiencing during the hedonism of the long weekend. After ignoring it for some weeks now, I have done a few measurements of my blood glucose level. I expect that had I dared to measure it over the long weekend it could have been quite high, but last night, and this morning it was well within acceptable limits (5.8 mmol/L to be exact). I haven't bothered to work out the ratio, but I am still seeing an apparent correlation between my blood pressure and blood glucose level. I'll have to do the maths, but I think that my blood glucose level was elevated by the same percentage between the readings I took last night and this morning. Maybe it is pure coincidence, but it is something I'll try and keep an eye on, and if I do find some correlation it may prove useful as more information for my doctors diagnoses.

 Last night would have been the third night of an attempt to get restarted on my diet. I have convinced myself, mostly from what I seem to remember as past experience, that if I can consistently diet for three days I then acclimatised enough to continue without it being too much of a battle of willpower. Last night I almost managed to eat in a way appropriate to lose weight, but I had a minor stumble at the last moment. I didn't check the calorie levels of what I ate, but tinned red salmon and drained peas as a snack should have been fairly low. On that bold assumption I reckon I almost scraped in at around 1500 calories yesterday. I believe that the maximum recommended for an average adult male is 2000 calories (and I have far more weight to move, and hence fuel requirement than the average). So at that reckoning I was definitely dieting. However I would have been happier at something closer to 1000 calories. Tonight presents some probable difficulties. I have to get some shopping in from Tesco's, and that is always dangerous !

 At long last - some technical news ! Last night I tried out a beta release of a new, Intel sponsored (or initiated), Linux distribution called Moblin.It is a distribution aimed firmly at small netbooks (or ultra portable computers). It was only a beta release, and it does have quite a few loose ends, but it did work well on my Aspire One 150. It uses a simplified interface that in the same way that the Linpus Linux that was originally installed on the Aspire One, and the later offering from Ubuntu called Easy Peasy. I am not a great fan of the simplified interface, but Moblin's effort seems better than the other two. I think my personal recommendation would still be to install a Linux distribution using the xfce desktop. However that does need a certain amount of configuration to be usable on the letterbox shaped screen that most netbooks have. The principle configuration is to set the font sizes of the various bits of the desktop and applications (such as the title bar) to a lot smaller than would be usual for a standard display. Despite my preference for a real desktop (user interface) I found that Moblin gave me sperfectly proportioned picture, working WiFi connectivity, sound, and the inbuilt webcam worked as well. Not bad for an early beta release !
Wednesday 27th May 2009
 19:11 BST

 After having quite high blood pressure over most of the long bank holiday weekend, and then horrendously high blood pressure when I did a measurement in front of the nurse yesterday morning, I am pleased to say that my blod pressure has come right down tonight. It is still high by conventional terms, but fairly low compared to my current usual. Obviously work  and commuting is good for me. What a terrible fate, to have to work and commute endlessly for the rest of my days. I think I am more keen than usual for my doctor to find a cure for this !

 One aspect of my commuting that is probably good for me (good medicine always tastes bad !) is the amount of walking it involves. Today I tried using the stop watch in my mobile phone to time some of those walks. Unfortunately I didn't think about doing this until I was already on my first train. All my walking was done at a reasonable fast pace, easily keeping up with just about the fastest fellow commuters. The only time missing is the time from home to Catford Bridge, but I know the time in the other direction, and because it means crossing the footbridge to the distant platform I will add an extra 30 seconds. So my timings go like this :-

Home to station5 min 50 secs
Waterloo East to Waterloo5 mins 50 secs
Earlsfield station to work9 mins 25 seconds
Work to Earlsfield station10 mins 38 secs
Waterloo to Waterloo East5 mins 50 seconds
Catford Bridge station to home5 mins 20 seconds
Total42 mins 33 secs
 
 All these timings are door to door. Only one timing may have some degree of innacuracy - I have taken the time for the homeward walk betwen the trains doors as I get off the train at Waterloo mainline station, to the train doors at Waterloo East station, to be the same as the morning journey in the opposite direction. In fact I usually have enough spare time between connections that I can stop for a quick smoke outside the station. I would hazard a guess that the extra walking that involves could easily add up to another minute. 
I think that govermnent (God damn them) guidelines for "eternal health and beauty" recommend that adults should do at least 30 minutes of exercise a day. That being the case, I can comfortably say that I exceed that by a good 13 minutes each day that I go to work. Add to that the amount of time I have to go up and down the stairs at work to go outside for a fag, and you can see why I am so healthy (or what's killing me !).

 For those that know, I have finally brought my blood pressure readings up to date on my secret web page. If you don't know, and feel you would like to, you will have to email me for the web address and a user name and password to see them.

08:22 BST

 This morning it is reasonably mild, but most importantly it is dry ! As I travelled to work I did see hints suggesting that there had been some recent rain, but my journey was done totally in the dry. There is plenty of cloud in the sky. In fact the sky is entirely grey, but it is a far lighter grey then yesterday morning, and there doesn't seem to be any immediate prospect of rain.

 Yesterday, much to my amazement, the weather did a total flip. After ending up like a drowned rat in the morning I was not enthralled about the prospect of going out again in yet more soaking rain when I met up with Patricia. I had arranged to meet her at Lewisham station in time to catch the 12:51 Victoria train as far as Denmark Hill station. When I left the house the sky was just a very light grey, and there were even cracks starting to appear in the cloud cover. Our train was delayed by ten minutes due to trespassers on the line somewhere further down the line, but we still arrived at Denmark Hill station in plenty of time to get to the hospital where Patricia was having a tooth extracted. Upon arrival at the station the clouds had further dispersed, and the sun was shining.

 Like most hospital visits, this one involved a lot of waiting around, but eventually Patricia was called to start her ordeal in the dentists chair. The nurse estimated the treatment would take 40 minutes. That left me plenty of time to go down from the fourth floor, and out to the road where I could have a fag. I am not sure it was the wisest thing to do, but when I came back I ignored the lifts and trudged up to the fourth floor. I managed it ok, and maybe could have managed one more floor before dying of exploded heart (or something). My heart was certainly doing its stuff when I reached the top !

 I think it must have been forty minutes after I returned from having my fag that I was finally called to see Patricia in the recovery room. She had not had a full general anaesthetic, but had been pumped full of valium and local anaesthetic for the operation. When I first saw her she had a large wad of lint hanging out the side of her mouth which was to plug the hole where her tooth used to be, and was hooked up to a machine to monitor her blood oxygen level, and also a blood pressure monitor ( I recognised that model immeadiately - it was the same as the nurse used on me in the morning).

 Patricia was tired looking, but otherwise seemed fine. After a while one of the nurses disconnected all the monitoring stuff and asked Patricia to try and take a couple of steps. The first step was a little shaky, but after that she reported that everything felt fine. Five minutes later we were on our way. The nurse had suggested that we ought to take a cab home, but Patricia would have none of that. So, arm in arm, and with me carrying both our shoulder bags, we started a slow walk back to the station.Patricia did just fine. She said she felt tired, and a little unsteady as if she had had a few drinks, but never faltered as we plodded along at a quite sedate pace, enjoying the warm sunshine as we went.

 Luck was definitely on our side when we reached the station. I had not looked up the train times, and it was most pleasing to find we only had to wait just two minutes for the next train. Once we reached Catford we had another sedate walk back to home, arriving at a little after 3.30 pm. Patricia went straight to bed and tried to read for a while. I left her to quietly relax, and soon she fell asleep for around an hour. At 5 pm she had the option of taking another painkiller that the hospital had provided. She was just beginning to feel a bit of an ache as the local aneasthetic wore off, and decided to take the big pink pill (mega strong Ibroprofen, I believe). She managed to take the pill with no problems, and announced that she would try to eat something a little later.

 I provided some soft rolls and an option of cheese slices, or chicken slices, and she chose to have both the cheese and the chicken together. It sounds strange, but I tried it later, and it did seem to work OK. She managed one roll almost without incident, but in a way that I have experienced myself, got too confident and had to slow down to finish the roll after hitting a sore spot as she chewed. She followed that one cheese and chicken roll with a yoghurt.

 I had expected her to stay the night, but by 8 pm she announced she was fit and well, and would go home. I tried to suggest otherwise, but she said she had to get stuff for work from her flat, and that she was perfectly fine. I must admit, when I walked her to the bus stop there were on outward signs that she had been through any ordeal at all.

 Once I was home again I decided to put the bed linen from Patricia's bed in the washing machine. While asleep she had dribbled some blood and saliva onto the pillow and duvet cover. So I got to bed rather later than I might have desired, but it was nice to be able to look after Patricia again, even if it was for only a few hours. I fell asleep feeling quite happy, and although I only got a little over 6 hours sleep, I slept solidly, and felt unusually refreshed this morning.
Tuesday 26th May 2009
 09:02 BST

 It is a most foul morning. The sky is a most unappealing shade of grey, and the rain has hardly stopped since I first woke up. There could be the merest hint that the sky is getting lighter, but the chances of any sunshine today seem remote. If I am very lucky the rain will dry up around midday so I can escort Patricia to her dental appointment in some modicum of comfort.

 The legacy of my binge on Sunday, and a couple of days of intensive resting, seems to be still with me. My blood pressure still remains high, and was particularly high when it was measured at the surgery this morning. In the space of time it took for me to measure my own blood pressure using my monitor, and the measurement taken by the nurse using her monitor, it did appear to have changed slightly for the better. At that point I should have used my monitor one more time. The point of the exercise was to see if my own measurements reflected those taken by the nurse. In that sense the experiment failed, but it did fail in my favour. If my monitor is in anyway inaccurate it is reading on the high side. This doesn't matter to me because I am more interested in the changes in my blood pressure rather than an absolute reading. Plus it does confer a certain amount of confidence that any reading done by my doctor or nurse should theoretically not contain any surprises to me. I say theoretically, but in reality that is not the case. The stress of seeing the medical profession raises my blood pressure, and possibly by a fair amount. Admittedly a whole hour had passed between taking a reading at home, and the reading done in the surgery. That latter reading was considerably higher. However it also has to be acknowledged that my blood pressure can change a fair bit on that timescale under any circumstances.

 As far as the nurse could tell, the results of my 24 hour urine test showed nothing of any interest, but I will have to wait until the 11th of June, when I see my doctor, to get a more definitive answer. So the result of my visit this morning is just carry on as before. I think I will make one subtle change though, and if I can, one less than subtle change. The first is to try not to get blind drunk a couple of days before seeing the doctor, and the second is to try and lose a bit more weight. Yesterday, as I noted, I did eat fairly sparingly for a day that was mostly boring. Today I doubt I will be eating until I late this afternoon. At that time I should have Patricia with me. She will probably not be eating at all, or at least very little, after her tooth extraction. So I doubt I will be indulging in any big feast myself. Tomorrow I will be back at work, and all I will be eating during the day is fruit. So tomorrow evening I will have almost been dieting for the (theoretical) magical three days. After three days things usually become much easier. It is not a forgone conclusion, but it is possible that I have just started my diet again. Until such time as something pisses me off I will probably be able to stick to it. In many ways it is a very tenuous hope, but just maybe I might be able to surprise my doctor in a fortnights time with a low blood pressure reading.
Monday 25th May 2009
 19:53 BST

 Today has seen typical bank holiday weather. On second thoughts, maybe today's weather has been atypical for an English bank holiday - there has been some sunshine today. The day started fairly grey, and by mid morning there had been some rain. Then for a couple of hours in the early afternoon the clouds parted, and we had some sunny intervals. By late afternoon the clouds regathered, and there were more showers. It is actually raining now as I write this. Fortunately for anyone out in the rain it has mostly been very light showers, and the ground seems to dry again after each shower has passed.

 As I noted yesterday, I had a self fulfilling prophecy about the day. I was pretty certain that I would see no one, and do nothing (or nothing worthwhile or entertaining).  So I acted in accordance with that and got extremely bored. As the evening approached I thought it might be interesting to get drunk, and that is exactly what I did.  I ended up very drunk, and it was sort of interesting. I haven't been that drunk for ages, and yet somehow I still seem to be able to retain some rationality even at the point where I am very unsteady on my feet. For instance, I managed to send a perfectly rational, and even correctly spelled email at the very height of my drunkeness. I do remember it was hard work typing it because my manual dexterity was distinctly dodgy, and my eyesight was getting blurry. It is a curious skill, and one that I am not sure is a curse or a blessing.

 One aspect of being that drunk was that I did sleep rather well last night.  It was hot last night, and rather than getting into bed I just lay on top of the bed. Without being that drunk I may have had difficulty getting to sleep like that. In the heat of last summer it did take some time before I could reliably fall asleep uncovered. I did wake up quite early, maybe a little after 4 am, feeling cold, and at that point I did get under the duvet for some more sleep, but I think it was only for about an hour.

 Of course I had a tremendous hangover this morning, and it was much later this afternoon before I began to feel well enough to do some work. Sometime ago I mentioned that I wanted to move an old filing cabinet out of the front bedroom. Well this afternoon I took the first steps towards that goal. Apart from half a dozen magazines that I still want to keep, I have cleared out one drawer out the four that filing cabinet has. Perhaps next weekend, I will clear out another drawer. It is only lack of space in the wheelie bin that has stopped me doing the second drawer today. While I was up in the front bedroom I also gave it a good hoovering, and did a little more general tidying up. I believe that Patricia will be staying in it tomorrow night after I have escorted her back from hospital where she is having a tooth extracted under heavy sedation. At least I believe that is the plan, but knowing Patricia she will probably do otherwise.

 If Patricia does stay it is likely to be the last time she will have use of the big front bedroom. Next weekend I think I will carry out my plan to use it myself. It will mean swapping the beds around, and bringing in my wardrobe and chest of drawers from my (current) back bedroom. My recollection is that the wardrobe is considerably lighter than it would appear to be, and it should be easy to move. Emptying it out before moving it will actually be the more difficult bit.

 Tomorrow morning I am off to see the nurse for my fortnightly sacrifice to the medical profession. Basically it is just to have my blood pressure checked, but I may also learn something about the results of my 24 hour urine collection. One problem is that my drunken binge last night has, or seems to have, increased my blood pressure quite a lot. Two days of being mostly sedentary have also played their part in raising it too. I think I'll keep quiet about the measurement I took just before writing this. I hope that I will be getting lower readings tomorrow. At least I will be able to provide some evidence that it has been a lot lower during the past week.

 Since sitting here quietly typing away for the last 45 minutes my blood pressure has dropped a bit. If I can avoid any nightmares tonight, and it continues to drop at this rate, I may just be able to swing a reasonable reading tomorrow. There is a small hope that it may really happen, but it is only a small hope. One thing possibly in my favour is that I have eaten reasonably frugally today. All I have eaten is three bagels, three cans of soup, two tins of fish, and had a little nibble of cheese. For reasons that I can't really fathom I have also not had any chilli sauce on anything today. I have a suspicion that it might raise my blood pressure. It's something I might have to test one day.
Sunday 24th May 2009
 20:38 BST

 I have only one thing to add about today : Beware of self  fulfilling prophecies - they are liable to bite you on the arse ! Today has been boring beyond compare.

 13:08 BST


 We are now into the second day of good weather. Yesterday started fine and bright, and although the sun became heavily diffused behind a lot of haze, it stayed bright and warm all day. The temperature dropped a fair bit during the night, but this morning dawned bright and clear, and now, this aftermnoon, the sky is blue, and the sun is shining brightly. I have no idea what the temperature is, but it probably in excess of 20 C, and in direct sunshine it feels very hot indeed.

Aleemah in miniskirt - 23rd May 2009  Yesterday Aleemah visited and had a little task for me. She wanted some photographs taken showing her in her finest.  We had some fun as she tried different outfits and different poses
against various backgrounds. The picture on the left, with her wearing a miniskirt and patterned tights is just one of the pictures I took. It was a bit of a shame we left the photography until after we watched a DVD together. Had we done it before the sky would have been a lot bluer, and the sun much brighter.

 The DVD we watched was Taken. It was a movie with a certain element of truth in it, although not in the way that was intended. The basic story is about an ex American spy whose daughter is kidnapped by sex traffickers while she is visiting Paris. The ex spy then rushes over to France, and by way of a host of killings, some extraordinary renditions to dark basements, a bit of torture, and lots of collateral damage, finally rescues his daughter from the clutches of the evil Arab who has bought his daughter. We lost count of the amount of dead bodies left behind his escapades at about 20. I think his daughter was probably just incidental to the plot, and that it was really just a mockumentary about a typical day in the life of a CIA operative while overseas.

 When Aleemah left it was most pleasant walking to and from the station in the late afternoon warmth. Once I got home I did two things. I made myself a couple of sandwiches, and then set about editing, and enhancing copies of the photographs I had taken. (Aleemah took a copy of the originals on a CD ROM). Most of the outdoor photographs came out to my satisfaction. All they really needed was a little bit of cropping, and a touch of gamma correction  to bring out a bit of detail in the darker areas. The indoor photographs turned out to be disappointing in many respects. I used the flash on the two cameras I used, but even so they still showed a bit of camera shake, and some weird colour casts.

 The colour casts were easily corrected when they were uniform over the entire picture, but some had a sort of shaded colour cast. In at least one instance that gave a sort of arty look to the picture, and on another occasion it is something I would like to experiment with. I think I need a patient model, and somehow I doubt that would be Aleemah when she doesn't have any actual need for any more photographs.

 The camera shake, even when using flash, was very annoying. I thought the lighting indoors was subdued enough that any shake would be too dim against what I thought would be a bright flash to be noticed. Evidently the flash was not that bright, and the lighting inside the room was not that subdued. Next time I will do what I intended to do and use a tripod.  Ideally I would have liked to use a far superior external flash as well as a tripod, but none of my cameras has an external trigger output for a flash gun (and I am not sure how well a flash relay would work with a digital camera).


 Knowing that it was unlikely that I would be seeing anybody, or going anywhere, today I hatched a plan for a medical experiment for today. I was going to record my blood pressure, pulse rate, blood glucose level, and temperature every hour that I was awake. I would enter all these figures into a spreedsheet, and see if I could get it to draw some graphs so it would be easy to see any correlation between the readings. The idea became less likely when I got bored yesterday evening and ended up eating more than I should have. Not only that, but I ate some stuff that I knew would distort any such figures away from what I intended I would get on a normal day.

 A further reason why I didn't start that experiment was because I woke up quite early feeling exceptionally rough. I had already woken up once in the night from a bad dream. I can't recall that dream with any clarity, but it involved my intended experiment, and ended with a struggle. All I can recall was that I was using something that looked like my digital (clinical) thermometer, but had several push buttons, and several displays. Someone, or something, was trying to stop me pressing the buttons on the device, and a fierce struggle ensued as I tried to complete whatever it was I was doing.

 After waking from that dream I soon fell asleep again. I later had some fairly innocent dreams, and one of those was about seeing one, or two, rather novel trains of the slam door variety. The final dream I had before I woke up was another very disturbing dream. I think I had moved into a new house, and some of my friends (and a couple of almost, but not really, enemies) had taken it upon themselves to have a house warming party there. However I was tired and had gone to bed. Unfortunately some strange planning decision had placed the back door to the place in my bedroom, and a stream of people kept coming in to join the party that was going on elswhere in the house. At first I was irritated, then I became annoyed, and then incensed when several people kept insisting that I should join the party. My response started with just grumbling, and in the last bit before I woke up I was uttering stuff at a volume and severity that a Tourettes Syndrome sufferer would be quite ashamed at their own, by comparison,  amateurish performance.

 It probably comes as no surprise that when I did wake up I was feeling dreadful. It took some time to calm down, and I think I would probably have exploded any medical instruments I might have applied to myself upon first waking. After sitting at this PC for a while I had some breakfast. My original intention was to eat very lightly, or even not at all this morning, but in fact I had a strange and excessive breakfast. What should have been part one of just one turned into part one of two. Part one was simple enough. It was some well cooked (in the oven) bacon with mustard in a couple of seeded bagels. While the bacon was slowly cremating in the oven I noticed that some new potatoes I had were beginning to sprout. So I thought I might as well clean them up while I was waiting, and then cook them to eat later (possibly cold with some salad or something). Then I had this bright idea that I would slice them up and cook them in curry sauce. At this point I had no intention of eating them until later, probably as part of my evening meal. That may still happen, but not as much of it as there could have been. Once they were cooked I couldn't resist trying them. I didn't have a big portion, but it was sufficient to call it part two of my breakfast.

 While I ate my breakfast I watched another Sherlock Holmes adventure. After that had finished it was still only a bit after 8 am so I went back to bed to try and catch up on the bad sleep I had had. I did fall asleep fairly quickly, and this time I can't recall any dreams at all, let alone any bad ones. I was awoken by the phone ringing at about 10:15 am. By then the day had warmed up a lot, and I had my bedroom window open so my bedroom was also fairly warm. I had been well tucked up under the duvet and felt slightly cooked as I awoke. A short while later I still felt hot, and it was some relief that the water from my shower was running cool (as it often does when I attempt to shower that late in the morning).

 After showering and dressing I started the task that was the subject of the phone call that woke me up. It was from Aleemah, and she had chosen her favourite photographs, and wanted to be emailed with enhanced, and resized copies of her favourites. Once that was done I had nothing else to do. So I watched another Sherlock Holmes adventure, bought a few things from the corner shop, and now here I am writing this. I have no idea what I am going to do next, but I feel it may involve lying on my bed and shutting my eyes (but I might leave them open and do some reading)..
Friday 22nd May 2009
 08:41 BST

 It's not exactly warm this morning, but then again it is not exactly cold. Somehow even saying it is mild does not really convey what it's like. What is definite is that when I left home to come to work there was not a cloud in the sky (or if there were any they were very small). With the temperature hovering between warm in the sun, and cool when not, and furthermore, ignoring the slight chill of the breeze, I took a chance and left my coat at home. I am not sure if this was a wise decision or not. If the weather at 4 pm today is the same as at 4 pm then it was a very wise choice. It was really pleasant to go home in shirtsleeves, with my coat stuffed out of the way in my bag. However, if it should turn out that it rains this afternoon, then I am in for a most unpleasant journey home.

 After my pleasant journey home I arrived indoors feeling quite knackered. I had given some thought to going home via Tesco's, but I just couldn't be bothered. I also couldn't be bothered to cook, or prepare any dinner. That does not mean I starved last night. Far from it ! I ate all sorts of naughty stuff including cheese and nuts - rather a lot of nuts in fact. Saying it was just a 99p bag of shelled walnuts does not sound so bad, but it was from the 99p shop, and was rather bigger than the average bag you might buy in the average supermarket. Then there was the cheese. It was blue cheese, and very nice with some cheesy biscuits, but obviously laden with fat and other bad and evil things.

 By 8 pm last night I was ready to go to bed, but upon going upstairs to my bedroom I found I had one distraction. I have a mini fridge in my bedroom. Last summer, when I bought it, it was great for keeping chilled water, and other drinks in. Since last summer it has chilled less and less. Last night my bottles of water felt almost warm instead of cold. It was definitely time to investigate. So I took off the back and found that the heatsink that dissipates the heat that the thermoelectric cooler sucks out of the cool enclosure was clogged with human hair, cat fur, and who knows what. Happily my vacuum cleaner was not far away, and I was able to clean all this detritus out of the heatsink before reassembling the fridge. Once powered up again the temperature slowly started to drop. This morning my chilled water was at about 8 C. That is probably about the best the cooler can do, but I am wondering if I can soup it up a bit. One day I might experiment with a more powerful fan bolted to the back of the unit. Something like a 5 inch mains powered papst fan could work quite well (and probably be quieter than the existing fan). It would be great if I could get the temperature down to close to freezing.

 Once the fridge (or cooler may be a better word) was back working I got into bed. It was not that far past 8.30 pm, and like I have done for the last couple of days, I debated reading for a bit, but decided against it. Maybe I should have because I had some trouble getting to sleep. I felt hot, and the bed seemed most uncomfortable. The sheets seemed all skewed, and the pillow was like it was stuffed with rocks. Eventually I did fall asleep, but I had a very rough night. I woke up almost thrashing about from a bad dream at 4.20 am. I felt almost shaky when I got up, and although shaky is actually a very bad description for something I can't adaquately describe, I remained that way until, and maybe slightly after, I had left for work. I half expected my blood pressure to have gone very high again, but when I measured it I found both the systolic pressure, and my pulse rate were about normal. Although my diastolic pressure was a bit higher than usual.

 Now I am at work I don't feel too bad. The thing like, but different to, shakiness has gone, and I don't feel tired - yet ! Principally I am feeling good that it is a Friday, and a long weekend is not far away.
Thursday 21st May 2009
 08:46 BST

 The weather was rather deceptive this morning. Initially it seemed as it would be a nice day, but since first viewing the sky the clouds have got thicker and darker. The forecast is for a mostly bright day with plenty of sunny spells, but I am not so sure that is correct. I think there will be some rain before the sun breaks out again. I can only see a very small patch of sky out of my office window, but the last patch of blue has disappeared behind a building, and the sky overhead looks to be very dark grey. Of course in the time it took to write those last two sentences a quite large blue area has sailed into view. I give up ! I think it might rain this morning, but it might not. There you go, a forecast as accurate as even the BBC's finest forecasters can manage.

 Yesterday evening was delightfully warm and sunny. A short while after arriving home from work I went out again to pick up a repeat prescription from the doctors surgery. One interesting fact about my doctors premises is that it is a similar distance from home as it is to the Wetherspoons pub. So once I had picked up my drugs I went home via the pub (and also the 99p shop). I had hoped that Iain would be in the pub, but he wasn't. Had he been there I would have stayed for two pints, but I was on my own so I just had one pint of a tasty 4.8% ale.

 After leaving the pub curiosity got the better of me, and I called into the 99p shop before going home. I bought a few odds and ends in there including some shower gel. This shower gel looked to be suspiciously similar to one of the Palmolive Aromatherapy range of shower gels. The bottle was identical, but the cap was subtly different. The big difference was the smell. Although claiming to have exactly the same essential oils from the same plants it did smell totally different (but sufficiently different from toilet cleaner for me to use some of it this morning).

 As soon as I got home I measured my blood pressure. It seems a pattern is now emerging. Since being on these new tablets my blood pressure has definitely dropped a fair bit, but it often seems higher in the morning, and lower in the evening. I would have thought the opposite would be the case. Last night, after coming home from the pub, and 99p shop, my blood pressure seemed to be exactly my current average at 166/95. Well, 166 is still a bit high, but a lot lower than the 200 plus I was getting only a short while ago.

 I managed to get into bed by about 8.30 pm last night, and like the night before decided to try for sleep instead of doing a bit of reading. Once again I fell asleep quite quickly, and I only woke once during the night. However I did wake up a lot earlier than I liked at about 4.20 am. I could have called that the second time of waking in the night, and tried to go back to sleep again, but I decided to call it morning and get up.

 Bits of me feel quite good this morning, but not everything. With my blood pressure now evening out after the novelty of the new drug has passed, there is another effect that seems to have taken place also after the novelty of the new drug has passed. For a little while now  I have been mildly constipated. This is an acknowledged side effect of my new wonder drug (so it's obviously not that wonderful !). This morning, that constipation, as mild as it was, has worn off. It made for a slightly uncomfortable journey into work That is something I haven't suffered from in quite a long while, but this morning it was bad enough that I had to do something any sane person would try and avoid at all costs - use the toilets at Clapham Junction station. Apart from the trauma of squeezing into that claustrophobic hell hole, there was the even great trauma of paying 20p just to pass wind !!!!!
Wednesday 20th May 2009
 12:07 BST

 The day started bright and sunny, but it hasn't stayed that way. While travelling to work it got a bit overcast when I got to Waterloo, but I had bright susnshine again as I walked from the station to work. Since then I am not sure whether to say we have had gloomy intervals or sunny intervals. In fact both are right, but I am unsure which emphasises the situation better. Even when the sun is hidden it still seems fairly bright. I think the mixture of sun and no sun is probably about 55% in favour of no sun, but it could be closer to 50%. The other weather bits are that there is a light and intermittent breeze, and the temperature is on the threshhold between mild and warm (whatever that is).

 Yesterday was fairly relaxed and I suffered a sharp drop in my blood pressure. Suffered is not really the right word, but I was very aware that something had happened. For a brief moment, maybe less than a minute, it felt like time had slowed down or something. Some people might have described it as feeling faint or dizzy, but I could not really use those terms for how I felt. It was perhaps more like a moment of mild drunkeness - almost, but not quite, pleasant. Fortunately I had brought my blood pressure monitor with me to work, so I was able to check my blood pressure soon after this happened. Amazingly it had fallen to 140/85, and that is well within the range considered normal and healthy. Of course it didn't stay that way, and when I checked it again, when I got home from work, it was back up to my "a lot lower than it was", but still on the high side.

 I managed to get to bed reasonably early last night. My first idea was to do some reading in bed for a little while, but once I was in bed I thought I would see if I would fall asleep straightaway despite it being very light outside. It seems I could because the next thing I remember was waking up around midnight for no explainable reason. I then woke up again just before 2 am. This time I quickly grabbed my blood pressure monitor and took a reading. My blood pressure was not too bad at 153/94, although that is still slightly on the high side. What did surprise me was my pulse rate. It was the lowest I have ever seen at 65 pulses per minute. Whether that is good, bad, or indifferent is beyond my knowing.

 Shortly before waking up for the last time before getting up at 4.50 am I was having some vivid dreams. I still find it fascinating that even in a dream the brain is still making rational decisions. Well some of the time it is ! In this instance I was at some sort of party with Patricia. She was talking to me from a fair distance away, and I could hear every word she said clearly through the background noise of the party. My sleeping, and yet obviously still rational, brain reckoned that was too far departed from reality, and so injected the idea of telepathy into my dream. Now telepathy may not work in the real world, but the concept is real enough, and that was enough to steer my dream onto a more possible path. Another bizzare thing my brain did not correct because it obviously wishes it were real, was the beer for the party was delivered as a "just add water" freeze dried powder.

 The beer powder was delivered to the party (I am assuming this next "scene" was still associated with the party) in what was not too dissimilar to a builders skip. It may be that I found it stressful that the powder kept blowing away, or I may have been very worried by the antics of a couple of (unknown/unnamed) friends who were trying to retrieve some of the beer powder. These "firiends" were trying to collect the powder where it had lodged on various ledges on the outside of a three storey building. To do this they were not actually defying gravity, but being very liberal with it ! The images are hazy now, but I think that there were several times when I expected one or the other of these friends to plummet to earth, landing in a crumpled heap of broken bones and mangled flesh.

 It's difficult to know if the stressful images from the end of my dream had any physiological effect on me, but I measured my blood pressure within 2 minutes of waking up, and it was a lot higher than I might have hoped for. It was even higher when I had washed dressed, and was ready to leave for work. The good thing (or maybe it's the dangerous thing) about high blood pressure is that it's effects, apart from sudden large changes, are not obvious in any way. When I left for work I felt pretty normal. Although by normal I do mean that I would have preferred to be going back to bed rather than going to the station. As is also normal, I went through a range of feelings as I made my way to work, but perhaps it is the final walk from the station to work that actually defines how I feel. That walk seemed easy and pleasant today. So I guess I feel OK today !
Tuesday 19th May 2009
 08:28 BST

 This morning is similar to yesterday, but the wind is a lot lighter, and the clouds are moving more slowly. This probably means that any sunny intervals will last longer, as will any showers. It would be nice to think that we have already seen all the rain for today. There was a fairly light shower at 5 am this morning (and Smudge got wet). Since then it has been dry, but if today does follow yesterday's pattern there will be more showers later on. If this is the case then I can only hope, that like yesterday, the day, or at least my working day, ends with it being reasonably bright and warm.

 My blood pressure seems to have reached some sort of plateau. It has come down a lot, but now it seems to have got stuck. Perhaps it will shift again, or maybe my doctor will end up changing my dosage, or add to the drugs I am already taking. At least now I can actually see the day to day changes in my blood pressure, and I will be able to see any changes that come about from any change in my drugs regime.

 The early onset of a low level of fatigue seems to be the main problem with my current drugs, although this morning I had a tantalising feeling that it could be improving. The actual change is still lost in the noise, or in other words is so subtle that it is difficult to know if it's just my imagination (or optimism), but it would be nice if indeed it is improving. It was hard to explain in words just exactly what this fatigue feels like, and then how the low level fatigue does not seem to get any worse despite not slowing down, or taking things easier. This morning a suitable analogy came to me. It's like I am a torch (or flashlight) that has one faulty battery in it. Initially it is quite bright, but quickly fades a bit as the faulty battery fails. From then on it continues to shine slightly dimmer, but for it's usual length of time, until real exhaustion is reached.

 One cure for this low level fatigue (and also extend the time to complete exhaustion) is to try and lose more weight (which would also be good for my blood pressure too). Last night I almost started dieting again until I found a couple of packets of crisps in the cupboard, and then had a cheese fixation later on. In defence, I can say that my main meal of boiled new potatoes, pak choi, and skinless chicken would have actually been quite worthy of a diet meal.

 This morning I am trying a dangerous experiment. I have had a substantial breakfast in the hope that I will feel less hungry when I get home tonight. I have my doubts that it will work, and any savings tonight will probably be more than offset by what I have just eaten. Still it was a good excuse to have a couple of delicious sandwiches !

 I am feeling improved this morning, or at least compared to yesterday morning. I managed to get to sleep before 9 pm last night (though not by much), and I did sleep better. I still had to get up three times in the night to take a pee. Alternatively, I had a pee because I woke up three times in the night. I think the latter is more accurate because I didn't seem to be desperate to pee, and just took advantage of being awake to have one. Tonight I am going to aim to be asleep even earlier than 9 pm. It could be worthwhile getting as much sleep as possible tonight because I have a feeling I will be popping in the pub again on Wednesday night.
Monday 18th May 2009
 08:36 BST

 The weather has changed again, although it may be just a temporary glitch. The day has started out pleasantly bright and breezy. The ground seemed quite dry in Catford, when I left home, but I noticed there were many puddles from recent rain in Earlsfield. At ground level the wind is very moderate, but the clouds are moving quite fast. So it must be fairly windy up in the air. It is probably that wind that is keeping the cloud well broken, but from time to time some heavier cloud drifts scuds across the sky.  One of those clouds could possibly bring a shower. Maybe even a heavy shower.

 I don't know how I fell this morning. There are too many conflicting conditions. One problems stems from insufficient sleep. I did attempt to get to bed reasonably early last night, but I got distracted while writing a couple of emails. I was still in bed before 9 pm, but although feeling like I should be tired and sleepy I found I could not relax. Even when I did get to sleep I was thrashing around, and I woke up several times in the night. Eventually, at 04:30, I gave up and got up. One reason, amongst some unknown reasons, for my bad sleep is a bit of a tickly cough I have developed. It is only really of any notice when I lay down and try and relax. This cough is possibly being made worse by one of the drugs I am currently taking, but in one form or another it does predate the start of the drug (smokers cough !).

 Although lack of sleep is one of the negative conditions of how I feel overall, I believe that at the moment any effect is only in the mind. The real effect will probably creep up on me later. The thing I cannot get to grips with is the conflicting signals I am getting from my body now my blood pressure is lower. One time and place illustrates all these conflicts rather well. It is when I change trains at Waterloo. First I have to walk along at least half the entire length of the platform (big enough for a 12 coach train), and then have to tramp up the slope at the start of the link between Waterloo East and Waterloo mainline stations. After the long slope comes a longer, but far milder slope, and that is followed by a walk on the level. At the far end of the link are stairs and escalators leading down to the concourse, and then there is a long walk from there to cross the concourse and walk to 2/3rds of the length of the platform to reach a suitable location in the train (one that is close to the exit at Earlsfield). The whole connection takes at least 5 or 6 minutes to walk, and I do it at the same fast pace as the more energetic commuters.

 Prior to losing weight back in February I usually used to find that long walk quite difficult, and sometimes I was forced to slow down. After losing a lot of weight it seemed like I could almost have run instead of walked, and on a really good day done handstands at the end of it ! Today, I am not sure if I should say it seemed easy but felt difficult, or if seemed difficult but felt easy. That sounds ridiculous, but such are the conflicting things I feel when I do that walk that I am at a loss to describe it in any rational way. Perhaps I should break it down in stages. I started off and felt like it was going to be a big effort to try and push myself to do it fully at a fast speed. As I got going it felt like it was taking more effort than usual, and that I would soon tire out. As I descended the stairs I could feel a slight loss of breath, and a slight amount of fatigue in my legs, but it didn't seem to be enough to slow me down. By the time I got on the train I was still feeling only about as bad as I had been after the first few minutes of walking. I had the impression that if I had attempted to walk twice that distance I would still be feeling as fatigued as after the first half, but no worse. It makes me wonder if some of the fatigue is just in my head rather than reality.

 That is twice I have mentioned "in my head" versus reality. Maybe I am less or more mad than is the norm. Perhaps what I usually perceive as reality is in fact just a computer simulation of life. Well, if that is the case I am glad the software was not written by Microsoft. Life (as I think I know it) seems reliable enough that it is probably Linux based, and a further clue to this is my graphical user interface (despite bloat usually being associated with Microsoft). Sometimes I think it could have been nice if my gui had been designed by Apple, or preferably an open source version of the reality illusion shield said to radiate from Apple products, and that infects their users.
Sunday 17th May 2009
 15:57 BST

 The day started cold, grey, and wet ! Since then there have been a few times when it has been a lot better, but apart from it being warmer, the sky has remained overcast, and rain never seems far away. As I write we seem to be going through one of the brief interludes in all this drearyness. There are a few very small streaks of blue amongst the grey clouds, but unlike a similar 20 minutes this morning, none of those cracks in the clouds has lined up with the sun.

 Despite this doom and gloom, I don't think today has been as bad as the forecasts seemed to suggest, and yesterday was far better than I could possibly have imagined it would be. The worst thing, but also possibly the saviour of yesterday, was strong winds. They seemed to break up the clouds leaving many extended periods of sunshine. Those periods of sunshine seemed to warm thing up, and overall I would give yesterday 7 out of 10 for trying. By comparison today would only rate a poor 4 out of 10 !

 One of the troubles of yesterday was my new lower blood pressure. Without plenty of fresh blood circulating in my veins everything seemed like hard work. As a for instance, walking to the station to meet Aleemah seemed far more tiring than when my whole system was about to blow ! It's hard to believe this is a good thing, but I guess it's just a wake up call to try and lose more weight. That is easier said than done. I am very out of practice with being hungry after these last couple of months of having all the bother of my blood pressure on my mind (and it is the bother about it rather than any bother from it that saps the will). I have bought suitable ingredients (fresh vergetables etc) to render dietery challenged meals, but so far I have yet to put them to use.   This is particularly so today ! Nevermind, perhaps I'll start tomorrow.

 I had a pleasant visit from Aleemah yesterday, but after she left I did feel quite drained. It may be the effect of all the drugs I have been taking, but I don't think I am sleeping all that well lately. I should have gone to bed very early to sleep last night, but I stayed awake reading in bed until almost 10 pm. Then, instead of sleeping until, say, 9 am, I woke several times in the night, and finally got up at around 5 am. After feeding Smudge, and doing a few things on the computer, I did attempt to go back to sleep again. I think I did get a little sleep, but I doubt it amounted to any more than 20 minutes.

 This morning I have done some laundry, and been shopping in Tesco. I have also done the washing up. I have to admit that the washing up had been neglected to the point where I needed to do it just to get a clean plate for some breakfast. It is all, bar just one spoon I recently used, all done now.

 Having has a rather splendid lunch I attempted to have a sleep this afternoon. I started off by doing some reading while lying on my bed. After a while I put the book down and closed my eyes. I did go to sleep, but soon woke up feeling rather warm. Earlier on I did have the heater on in my room because it felt a little cool to be just laying down. I think it was as I started to digest my lunch that I warmed up. After 10, 15, ?? minutes sleep I woke up feeling most uncomfortable and even went as far as opening the window a bit. I assumed that it was actually rather cool outside, but in fact it is a lot milder than than I originally thought...........I've just had a thought. As well as eating my lunch I also had a couple of large whisky and ginger ales ! That probably made the matter worse.

 Tonight I predict I will have a few more large whiskies followed by a very early night. I have a most interesting book to read called "The Warsaw Spies", and I will probably be in bed reading that as early as 7 pm. Hopefully I will have the wit to not get carried away, and try to go to sleep well in advance of 9 pm. If I can do that, and manage to sleep through most of the night, I reckon I will feel suitably refreshed for work in the morning.
Friday 15th May 2009
 08:26 BST

 There is not much improvement in this morning's weather compared to yesterday. It is possible that the sky is one tiny shade of grey brighter than yesterday, and somehow the air seems sweeter and fresher, but against that there has been some rain. As I walked from the station to work I definitely felt 37 small rain drops hit my face. I think the official forecast for today is for some breaks in the cloud later on in the day. On the assumption that the forecast for today is as accurate as it was for yesterday, I can only presume that we are in for some serious stormy weather soon.

 After finishing writing yesterday, I went to bed and read New Scientist magazine until a lot later than I intended. It was not until 9.30 pm that I put the magazine down and tested my blood pressure. After quietly reading in bed I expected some better readings, and I was not disappointed. They are still far from the figures my doctor would ideally like to see, but not that bad.

 I suspect I had a restless night. I remember having many convoluted dreams, and I woke up at 4:50 am feeling stiff and fairly uncomfortable. Stopping only to light up a fag, I quickly hooked myself up to my blood pressure monitor and took a reading. In theory, and if I had slept soundly and peaceably, I would have expected to get some far lower readings. My systolic pressure was not bad at 179, and that seems to be around the current average at the moment, but the diastolic pressure was surprisingly high at 108. I cannot fully interpret these figures myself, I'll leave that for my doctor, but I feel that the high diastolic pressure must have some significance.

 I took two more measurements of my blood pressure this morning. One was shortly before I set off to work, and the other was taken within a few minutes of arriving here at work. It is the latter that was most surprising. I don't have a particularly stressful commute to work, but it does involve a bit of rushhing around. I expected my blood pressure reading to have risen by a fair amount. In fact both the systolic and diastolic readings were actually better than before I left home, and significantly better than when I saw my doctor on Wednesday night. This seems to be a further indication that the drugs I am now taking, but most significantly the new one,  are actually working.

 I expect I will take one or two more blood pressure readings while I am at work, but I don't think I will be lugging my blood pressure monitor to work again except on a few rare occasions. However, over the weekend I'll probably take an assortment of readings (all recorded on a spreadsheet) to bombard my doctor with, and give her something to get her teeth into. I think I will be seeing Aleemah tomorrow, and I will curious to see before and after readings for that occasion.

 I could go to the pub tonight, and I would really like to, but after a few nights of  less sleep than I would really like, I think a very early night is called for. Getting a full 8 hours sleep (and more if I can manage it) would be excellent, and once again I will be curious to see how this might affect my blood pressure too.

 I can see that in the not too distant future my obsession with measuring my blood pressure will soon wane, and that time will come sooner if it does successfully stabilise at a level my doctor is happy with. Once I can get her happy again I am going to do my best to get obsessed with weight loss again. Recently that has not been top priority for me, and it has very much taken the back seat in this peculiar ride of life. I have to confess that in the last couple of days it has given up and got out of the car entirely and is still probably waiting at a bus stop somewhere.
Thursday 14th May 2009
18:56 BST

 It was another very overcast morning, but there was little wind, and that made it feel less cold than on Wednesday. Eventually, and contrary to expectations, the cloud began to break up, and we had some sunny spells during the afternoon. That sunshine seemed to warm things up quite quickly, and while I was coming home from work it felt almost warm.

 After work, last night, I saw my doctor. My blood pressure had not significantly changed since the previous time she measured it, and so I was prescribed yet another type of pill to take (in addition to the two others I have been already taking).  Fortunately I will not have to wait another fortnight, and my next appointment, to find out if these new pills are doing anything. More about that in a minute.

 After I left the doctors I collected my new pills from the pharmacy, and then went straight to the pub ! To my great surprise the pub were selling off the last of their International Beer Festival beers at just 99p a pint. There was one particularly nice beer, "Wild Blue Yonder" from The Oregon Brewery (or someone), and it was so good I had 4 pints of it even though it was fairly strong at 4.8 abv.

 After 4 pints and some good company, I was feeling very good, but also very hungry. In another symbol of defiance against the medical profession I bought some fried chicken and chips on the way home. It was delicious eating, and I continued to enjoy myself while I munched the food and watched another Sherlock Holmes story. I ended up going to bed very late, but before I did that I had one more thing to do - take one of my new pills. The pharmacist was surprised at the high does rate I was starting on, and warned me that I would probably suffer some unpleasant effects for the first half day. Hence he suggested taking it before I went to bed so I would sleep through the worst of it.

 I did wake up a few times in the night, and I did feel a bit weird. Of particular note was something like, but not actually, numbness in my right foot. When I finally got up at 5 am I was feeling distinctly weird. Of course at that point, and for most of the morning, it was hard to attribute what I was feeling to either the pill, or the hangover I had. As I made my way to work I felt like it was unusually hard work, and it did feel like I was straining my heart. Yet when I was pushing my heart a bit I did notice that it was feeling different. Instead of almost knocking against my rib cage it had a more muffled feel. Whether that was good or bad is a bit of a mystery, but it did give me an idea.

 While I was at work I did a few Google searches to see what was available, for what price, to measure my own blood pressure. It turns out that there are many devices available, and some of them are quite reasonably priced. Even better than that was that Boots (The Chemists) were selling all their blood pressure monitors for half price in some sort of promotion. So on my way home I called into Boots, here in Catford, and bought one. It was one of the more expensive models of the same make as the doctor uses, but more modern, and with a few more bells and whistles ( a 99 reading memory for one thing). It cost me 49.83, and although that was about 20 more expensive than the cheaper models, I thought it might stand a better chance of coping with my unusually high blood pressure.

 Some 30 minutes after getting home, having endured the stresses of commuting, buying the monitor in boots, and then doing some shopping in a fairly crowded Tesco, I tried the monitor out. It read 188/106, and that is a fairly good improvement over the 207/104 that the doctor recorded last night. So perhaps these new pills are working. I will be going up to bed to do some reading once I have written this. It will be interesting to see what my blood pressure is after relaxing in bed, and also what it is like when I get up in the morning.

 I do feel better about this whole blood pressure malarkey now I can measure myself, and have some sort of control over what is happening. In future I will be able to see the effect of omitting one, or more of the pills I am currently taking. I won't start that just yet. I'll give my doctor the benefit of seeing the whole of her handiwork first, but after that, and with her forewarned (but not neccessarily approving) I will begin my experiments. I think it is possible that she will approve if only because she will realise that it is one way of reducing my negative attitude to the whole thing. Actually she is quite good humoured about my (mostly) good humoured negative approach to it all.
Wednesday 13th May 2009
 08:36 BST

 Dull, dull, dull, would be a good way of summing up this morning. There has already been a few light showers. Fortunately I managed to avoid them all, but there is an excellent chance of many more. The wind has dropped since yesterday, and that makes it feel a little less cold than it was. It is still on the cool side though, and there seems little prospect of any sunshine to warm things up today.

 Yesterday I felt quite miserable nearly all day. I think it was for a wide variety of reasons, but among them were the change in weather, and feeling a bit rough too. This morning, for reasons that are as hard to pin down as yesterday's reason for feeling bad, I feel sort of OK. When I finally got up I was not sure how I felt. I thought perhaps I might feel miserable again, but I tried that and I couldn't seem to make it last. I also felt a bit tired, and I had a mild headache. The headache is still with me now, and it's probably a symptom of high blood pressure. Soon after I left home to come to work I had what is probably another symptom of high blood pressure (although this one may be unique to me). I felt strangely energetic. I found I had a desire to walk fast, and generally rush around the place. My walk from Earlsfield station to work was unusually effortless, and that was despite the contradiction that my legs were slightly aching from the effort. It  did feel like I could have walked 3 or 4 times that distance, and at the same fast pace, without any more effect than a slight ache in the legs. In fact there was one other effect, but that was not apparent until I sat down here at work. Once out of the fresh air I quickly became lightly sweaty. Now, some 30 minutes later, I still feel rather warm.

 Tonight I see my doctor again. If my theory is correct, I will find my blood pressure has not dropped, and may even have gone up again. This would seem to conform to an emerging pattern that I am starting to notice. The better I feel when I see my doctor, the worse she says I am. Maybe one of the reasons I don't feel miserable like I did yesterday is that I think I am getting close to saying to hell with the medical profession, and get on with trying to actually enjoy life. There is one major flaw in that idea. I do find it interesting to learn about the changes in my body, and seeing the doctor (and taking samples to the hospital) is a sort of entertainment for me. The only answer is to try and view these things from a third party perspective. I just wish I wasn't the guinea pig being experimented on !

 I see the doctor at 5.50 pm. After that I think there is a very good chance I will go straight to the pub. Maybe reality will catch up with me later, but right now I feel like there is a good possibilty that I might get quite drunk (and thoroughly enjoy it !).
Tuesday 12th May 2009
 08:34 BST

 There is a cruel wind blowing this morning. The early morning temperature is already fairly low, and the wind brings with it an extra chill. As I approached work there was still some sunshine to the east, but ahead of me, to the west, there were some horrible looking dark clouds. In the last half hour the clouds seemed to have covered the whole sky, and rain cannot be far away. On the other hand, the clouds could clear again like they did yesterday. From about lunchtime onwards the clouds cleared, and it felt pleasantly warm and sunny as I made my way home. I do wonder if the weather forecasts I see do have any connection to reality. I think my guesswork may be more accurate !

 Last night was almost another boring night. I felt tired when I ot home and I just slumped in front of the TV for an hour or two. First I watched some Sherlock Holmes, and then I watched an episode of The Simpsons. That finished at 7.30 pm, and I would have gone to bed at that point if I had not wanted to reply to an email. Having sat down at the PC it was actually closer to 9 pm when I was finally in bed with the light out.

 Initially I slept rather well last night, but after waking up at 1.30 am (I think) my sleep was not so good. From then on it seemed that I must have woken up quite a few times judging by the amount of dream fragments that I can almost remember now (but they are ading even as I try and think about them). At 4.20 am I gave up trying to sleep and got up. This has left me feeling a bit tired this morning, and the cold wind and threatening weather make me feel even worse. I almost feel like I have a cold coming on. This should be impossible, and a more likely explanation is just a collection of odd ailments made worse by the side effects of one of the drugs I am taking. It could almost be interesting to feel even worse tomorrow. I see my doctor again after work tomorrow and it would feel sort of novel to see a doctor while I feel unwell. Usually I tell the doctor I am fine and she tells me I am ill. Perhaps tomorrow she will tell me I am well.

 Fortunately it is going to be a fairly quiet day here at work. The place is half empty because most of the staff are in Birmingham wandering around a trade show (IFSEC). I could have gone myself, and in fact I could even go tomorrow, but it is in Birmingham, and that is far too far outside the London Travelcard Zone for my liking (and it would mean crossing The River Thames into the uncharted dangers of The North!). So today I'll just plod on with my work in my own time.
Monday 11th May 2009
 08:34 BST

 The morning certainly started off bright and shiny, but since arriving at work I have noticed a bad tendency for the sun to be hidden by clouds. There is a fair bit of wind this morning, and the clouds are scudding along fairly rapidly, so it is not long before the sun re-appears from behind a cloud. The trouble is the converse is also true. Even when the sun comes out it is not out for long, and the cloud would appear to be thickening. Rain is forecast for this evening.

 As I sit here I struggle to remember if I did anything worth writing about yesterday. I think the answer is no, I didn't do anything worthwhile. So it's back to the mundane.

 After I finished writing yesterday, my guts soon settled down and I was able to take my gallon of urine along to the hospital. I did phone them first to check that someone would be there to receive it, and they said yes, but only up to midday. When I arrived at reception the door was locked, and no one answered the bell. Fortunately some hospital worker appeared from elsewhere and suggested I take it up one more flight of stairs to where the actual labs were. Upon ringing the doorbell there I soon had a response, and my sample was taken in.

 It was actually a pleasant walk to and from the hospital, but I did rush it a bit, and decided to take a breather before going out again to do some shopping in Tesco's. My preference is always to get to Tesco very early on a Sunday (or Saturday) because the queues at the checkouts can get a bit long and tedious later in the day. It was midday, or thereabouts, when I got to Tesco, and the place was definitely full of Sunday shoppers. Luckily for me they seemed to spend most of their time dithering about, looking lost, and bumping into one another. As I did my best to whizz around there I found that my preferred pair of checkouts for when it's busy, the ones opposite the end of the pet food aisle, where quite quiet (and this time it wasn't because Mavis, the slowest, oldest, most dithery, checkout assistant was there and everybody was wisely avoiding her).

 It is possible that getting in and out of Tesco in a quick and timely manner was the most exciting thing that happened yesterday. Other rather mundane things were doing some laundry, and changing my sheets and duvet cover. Actually, getting into fresh bed linen is also exciting - for a few minutes at least !
Sunday 10th May 2009
 08:41 BST

 If the day continues like it has started we are in for a most pleasant day. The sky is practically clear apart from a few wispy clouds, and vapour trails high up in the stratosphere. Unfortunately the forecast is that there will be some showers later, and that the top temperature could be disappointingly low at just 16 C.

 I have now finished collecting my urine for 24 hours, as requested by my doctor, for analysis by the pathology labs, and I am now ready to deliver it. The only problem is that I am not sure if anyone will be at the pathology labs reception to recieve it. According to the leaflet that comes with the collection bottles they are only open Monday to Saturday, but they were open last Monday, which was a bank holiday, so I think it worth taking a chance that someone will be there this morning.

 Yesterday I did manage to do my bit of clearing up in order to install my newly built firewall. It was amazing that my old firewall was still functioning. After sitting in the corner of the room continually running for a couple of years (3 ?) every orifice was caked with dust. Having disconected the old firewall I connected up the new firewall and turned it on. It booted up just fine, and I was soon able to connect to it's web server to continue configuring it. Unfortunately I could not get it to connect to NTL's (Virgin Media's) network properly. I have a dim memory that I have to do some configuration to my cable modem to allow it to recognise/register the new MAC address of my firewall's red interface network card. I hope I have some paper work about that somewhere.

 I took a short break to look for any useful papaerwork, and to do a web search for info about my cable modem. I have now found how to get into it's setup menu, and the bit I was looking for was not there. So I'll have to try a few other things when I resume trying to get my new firewall installed.

 One further problem with my food poisoning last Tuesday, is that once it was over it left me in a state that was similar to being constipated. In fact I was just very, very empty. Until yesterday I had hardly passed anything at all, and now this morning normal service has resumed - with an avengance ! At least I hope it is normal service. In some ways it does seem a little excess. I should have left to deliver my urine sample to the hospital ny now, but I am not sure if I have reached stability yet. Once I have done the business at the hospital I also have to go out and get some shopping. Top of my list is toilet paper !

 One curious thing that happened recently is that I found something very strange in my bed. No one knows where it comes from, but apparently it is fairly normal to find strange bits of grit in bed. What I found, down where my feet would be, was a bit of broken glass ! I have two hypothesis as to how it got there. The first involves aliens. The second is that this fragment of glass, possibly from a shattered car windscreen, had got lodged in the tread of my shoes. Then when I took my shoes off in my bedroom it fell off, and then somehow got stuck to one of my feet with it cutting me, or even being noticeable. Then when I got in bed it fell off and remained then until I saw it while straightening up my duvet. Personally, I think my first hypothesis has more going for it.
Saturday 9th May 2009
 16:12 BST

 The weather has been rather bland today. It is neither hot nor cold, and the occasional sunshine has been balanced by a fair amount of cloud. Only one feature is definite, and that is that it hasn't rained so far today.  Sometimes the cloud has been thick and dark enough to make it look like rain might fall, but then it breaks up again.

 I started my second attempt at the 24 hour urine collection pallava this morning. The official start time was 7 am, and it seems I have less than 15 hours to go before I finish it. Now I wonder two things. Will one container be enough this time (I have a second in case not), and will the pathology lab at the hospital be open to take in my sample(s) tomorrow morning ?

 Apart from pissing in a bottle I have done very little of note so far today. I washed a couple of towels, and bought a couple of items from the corner shop. Apart from that I have done some snoozing, some reading, and..................well, nothing really. No, I lie. I have hoovered up all the "confetti" in the front bedroom where I had hung up some clothes to dry that had been washed with a tissue for some unknown reason. You could say it has been a boring sort of day, and in a way you would be right, but it is only now that I stop to think about it that it seems boring to me too. Perhaps I ought to raise the enthusiasm to do the tidying, cleaning, and general clearance of the corner of the back room where my firewall currently resides so I can install my new firewall box. Then again, laying on my bed listening to some late seventies prog rock sounds pretty appealing too !
Friday 8th May 2009
 18:23 BST

 As I left home to go to work I was expecting it to be a nice day. The cloud was well broken, and the sun was trying to shine. All that changed by the time I got to Waterloo station. I didn't really notice anything when I got off the train at Waterloo East, but having traversed the link between Waterloo East and Waterloo mainline stations, and then started walking down the platform, the view ahead looked positively stormy. By the time my train got to Clapham Junction station it was raining fairly hard. Fortunately the rain had eased off by the time I got to Earlsfield. I did get a little damp as I walked to work, but it wasn't that bad.

 Through the course of the day the reasonably strong winds did break up the clouds. As I started for home, after work, the sun had come out, and as I write this the sun is shining and the cloud is well broken.

 I felt considerably better this morning. I still had a few aches from all the muscles involved in my unpleasant food poisoning, and the consequences of that. Since then I have improved even further. I feel pretty good right now, and I am treating myself to a takeaway curry tonight.

 My main business tomorrow is to have another go at my 24 hour urine collection. Hopefully this time it will go smoothly, and the biochemists will be able to extract whatever they need to extract to make some sort of diagnosis. The other thing I predict I will do is to install my new firewall. To do this I will have to disconnect my internet connection. In theory I should only be off the air for a few minutes, but disaster could strike, and if it does it will probably be Virgin Medias fault !
Thursday 7th May 2009
 08:17 BST

 The wind is very gusty this morning, and it is making a cool morning seem even cooler. There is a lot of cloud in the sky, but I am hoping that the wind will break it up and allow the sun to peep through later on. It is quite probable, although by no means certain, that it will remain dry today.

 I am back at work this morning, but I still feel very rough. For the rest of yesterday, after I wrote here in the morning, my guts were perfectly stable. However I ached a lot, and I felt very weak. The one single thing I did that was not laying on my bed, or blurrily looking at my PC, was to do some laundry. In theory that should have been simple. After all the washing machine does most of the work, but I did make one tragic error. Somehow I left a tissue in a pocket, or maybe it had just somehow fallen in amongst the pile of clothes. After the washing machine had done it's stuff I went to hang up the freshly washed clothes and got covered in a cloud of "confetti" ! I managed to pick, or shake off most of the bits from the clothes I was hanging up, but I couldn't find the enthusiasm to pick up all the bits from the floor. That was in the currently unoccupied front bedroom. If I can raise the enthusiasm I will the hoover over the dried bits tonight, or maybe tomorrow, or maybe on Saturday !

 I felt really tired, but still rather restless when I went to bed at 7 pm last night. I assumed that if I just lay on my bed listening to another Sherlock Holmes story, or two, I would soon settle down and be able to sleep. I was wrong ! It felt cool on my bed, but not actually cold. So after one story I got undressed and into bed. I still felt slightly cooler than I would have preferred, but I didn't want to put on any heating. As the second story came to a close I began to feel much warmer, and soon I was almost drenched in sweat. I presume my food poisoning had given me a fever. I had noticed a few ups and downs with my perceived temperature since Tuesday morning, but for almost all of Tuesday, and the beginning of yesterday, I had far more important symptoms to concentrate on.

 This morning I am having doubts about whether I should have come back to work. I assumed that with all the unpleasantness of rapid visits to the toilet over I was almost recovered. That may not be so. It was a real struggle to find and sustain the energy to come to work. At first, my walk to the station in the fresh air seemed like a good idea, but as I continued to make my way to work I became less and less enthusiastic. I caught the 06:44 train from Catford, and I needed to change at London Bridge to a Charing Cross train (for Waterloo East). Initially I started to run up the overbridge to change platforms, but I very soon ran out of energy. I wasn't winded, but it just seemed like my legs couldn't keep up the pace. I took things a bit easier after that.

 I arrived at work drenched with sweat. I did feel a bit warm on the train to Earlsfield, and a quite moderate walk from the station to work was enough to get me dripping. On warmer mornings a very brisk walk can also generate a bit of dampness, but this was much more, and I stayed sweating for a good twenty minutes afterwards. It makes me feel like I am ill ! A couple of times I have even felt slightly nauseus, but I don't think it will get bad enough for me to actually vomit.

 I think as the day progresses I will improve, but I do have one major fear. If I should be so unfortunate to have another recurrance of having to dash to the toilet at 5 minute intervals I can see no way that I will ever get home again ! I can think of many toilets I could visit on the way home, either on railway stations, or in pubs, but most are much further than 5 minutes apart ! Let's hope disaster does not befall me !
Wednesday 6th May 2009
 10:40 BST

 It's another morning where it's neither one thing or the other. There is quite a lot of cloud, but the sun has peeped through the clouds a few times. I believe there has been one light shower earlier this morning, and maybe more will follow.

 Yesterday afternoon I began to feel better. I had stopped going to the toilet every 5 - 10 minutes, and I had taken a chance on eating a reasonably bland sandwich. That went down well, and I began to feel optimistic that I was over the worst of my food poisoning (or whatever). At 6 pm I boldly stepped up my food intake with some rice and chicken breasts (both of which were savoury flavoured). With hindsight that was a bad idea. From something like 7.30 pm right up until 10.30 pm I could barely lie down for ten minutes before I had to rush off to the toilet. Many times it was even less than 10 minutes. For about three hours I was just passing 99% liquid instead of any solids.

 Although I wasn't feeling any particular pain, it was still most uncomfortable, and I was feeling desperately tired and almost wobbly. At 10.30 pm came a breakthrough. While squirting into the toilet bowl from one end I finally emptied myself from the other end into the handbasin. I actually felt far better for that, although cleaning the handbasin was somewhat of an ordeal I would prefer not to do too many times in my life !

 After that I was almost able to get some rest. I think I made one or two more trips to the toilet before I was able to fall asleep. I can't actually recall if I had to get up in the middle of the night, but I think I might have once. I woke up at 5.30 am this morning, and although I didn't feel any desperate need to rush to the toilet I did anyway. It was probably a wise thing to do because there was even more barely tinted liquid to dispose of. I had to make a couple more visits after that, but with Smudge fed, and outside in the garden, I went back to bed and slept solidly for a few more hours. This time when I awoke nothing happened apart from taking a very small pee.

 Since then nothing much has happened. I had a shave, washed my hair, and had a very welcome shower (none of which I did yesterday). That made me feel a bit more alive, but I still feel off colour. Dehydration has left me feeling a bit headachey, and I still feel tired. I may well have another sleep soon. The dehydration I am trying to address with plenty of fluids, but I also feel starving hungry. Today I think I would do well to try and resist those hunger pains for as long as possible. Along with a fair amount of water, I have drunk half a pint of skimmed milk, and I am currently drinking some diet cola. Unfortunately I seem to be able to feel all that liquid working it's way through my system with the odd gurgle here and there. It seems likely that it will be through to the other end before long. Hopefully enough will be absorbed to reduce my dehydration, but I fear the rest will just come out in much the same way as all the other liquid.

 Obviously I am off work again today. I have no idea how I will spend the rest of the day, but I have one almost completed project that I may work on if I feel comfortable. That project is my new firewall. I built it yesterday afternoon - if you can call taking out the sound card from an old PC and installing an additional network card in it's place as building it. I installed the Smoothwall Express software, and made a start at configuring it, but my concentration soon waned and I gave up on it. I'll be writing more about all this in my techno blog sometime. All I really need to do today is to physically install the box in the cramped dusty corner where my current firewall resides, and then to complete the configuration. As I write this I feel I can't be bothered to do it, but if I feel a bit brighter this afternoon then I may well change my mind.
Tuesday 5th May 2009
 09:25 BST

 The dull weather continues. It is not actually raining now, but it looks very close to it. The sky is a uniform grey colour, and it is rather cool outside. According to my Firefox plugin "Forecastfox" today should be "16 C with times of sun and cloud". Somehow that seems a little optimistic, but it could happen.

 When I went to bed last night I did feel a bit rough. Through the day I did feel like my stomach was occasionally grumbling, and the Mexican chilli bean burgers I ate were probably a very bad choice for dinner. In the early hours of the morning I had to visit the toilet a few times because I was feeling uncomfortable. When I finally awoke at 4.30 am I was in severe pain from trapped wind. It was actually quite difficult to get out of bed. Not only were the stomach cramps quite painfull as I moved, but I also realised that I had to get to the toilet within seconds to avoid disaster. Coming up with a compromise between the two was not easy, but I did manage to avoid any disaster.

 It seems that this morning I am suffering from dysentry/salmonella/cholera/delhi belly/Montezumas revenge/bubonic plague and, of course, being as it is the disease of the moment, swine flu ! Since 4.30 I have used approximately half a roll of toilet paper, and my visits to the toilet have been following some sort of mathematical progression. At first it was every 5 minutes. Slowly the time increased to 10 minutes, and now, at 9.45, the interval has stretched to nearer a full hour. It does make you wonder where it all comes from ! Apparently one pint (imperial) of water weighs 1.25 pounds. By my estimate I have lost at least one stone in weight. I might be exaggerating, but that's how much, mostly liquid, it feels like I have passed !

 I prefer not to travel when I am suffering from even mild diarrhea. So today there was no way I was ever going to travel to work. Even if I had managed to make it to every single possible toilet on route to Earlsfield without mishap it would have been an excruciating journey. So I have another day off work. A day off work under other circumstances would have been ideal to do another 24 hour urine collection, but seeing as the vast majority of my fluid output is coming from the wrong orifice it obviously can't be done.

 Today could be quite boring, and ultimately may well be, but there are a couple of things I may do to pass the time. One of those will have to wait until I feel a bit better, and that is to start construction of my new firewall. The latest version of Smoothwall express, that I mentioned yesterday, demands a slightly more powerful PC than the very lowly PC I am currently using for my firewall. I have a box with a 300 MHz Pentium II processor and at least 128 MB of ram in it. That is all the improvement I will need over the 133 MHz Pentium I processor and 40 MB of ram that my current firewall uses.

 The other thing I may do today is to make a new section on this website devoted to the odd rant in a similar way that I now have my "techno blog" for all the technical stuff I occasionally write. The idea for this came to me in a dream last night. If only I could remember all the stuff I had written in the dream I would have the first entry already composed. All I can remember was it was a rant about music. Well, I have a few ideas about that, and maybe I will write about it sometime today. For now though, having just very recently lost another 1.2 lbs (+/- n ounces) of "rusty water" I am going to have another lie down !
Monday 4th May 2009
 17:52 BST

 Like a typical English bank holiday Monday it is dull and overcast. It didn't start out that way. This morning it was quite sunny, but the clouds were there to remind you that it was a bank holiday, and as the day progressed those clouds got thicker and thicker. Fortunately the couple of rain showers we had were fairly light, and reasonably short lived.

 This morning I was up bright and early to finish my 24 hour urine collection. In fact I was awake several times in the night to contribute to it. I think I may have drunk a bit too much liquid in the form of diet cola, various fruit juices, and even plain water, last night. At about 2.30 am I realised that I was probably going to fill my sample bottle before the 24 hours were up. So I very carefully washed out a 750 ml squash bottle to take the excess. Unfortunately when I delivered my two bottles to the hospitals pathology lab at about 9.30 am they rejected them. Apparently, without the acid in the bottle, the sample in the squash bottle was unacceptable.  So they gave me two official collection bottles, and sent me away to start again.

 To do the 24 hour collection, for practical reasons, I have to be home all day (carrying 2.5 litres of old  urine to work would not be wholly practical !). If I wait until next Saturday there is no way the results would be ready when I see the doctor the following Wednesday, and it would be touch and go even if I took, say, Wednesday off work and did it then. It looks like I will have to call the doctors and get my next appointment delayed by a week.

 After a very pleasant stroll in the sunshine to and from the hospital I had to go out again to get some shoppig from Tesco's. That walk was no quite so good. The sunshine was a bit duller, and it was close to raining as I walked there. In fact I am sure a felt a couple of tiny rain drops hit me. Coming back again it was a tiny bit brighter, but only for a short while. The clouds continued to get thicker, and there was one or two light showers. There had been a possibilty of joining Patricia for some kite flying at Blackheath this morning, but because of how the weather was deteriorating I didn't really fancing going out again, and I doubt Patricia would have gone out anyway.

 Instead of going out I ate a rather substantial elevenses, or maybe it would be called a brunch. After that I had a lay down, listened to yet another Sherlock Holmes story, and then fell asleep for anywhere between 30 minutes and a whole hour. When I woke up it had been raining, but had stopped again. It was still extremely dull outside, but I thought I would take a cance and go out one more time. This time it was to Poundstretcher. The last time I had been in there I noticed they had some very cheap reading glasses on sale. I had hoped that by selecting the right pair I could use the side arms of the glasses to repair my "B" pair glasses.  I have two servicable pairs of glasses. One pair, that I have (just) called my "B" glasses have photochromic lenses. The other pair, obviously the "A" pair have just plain lenses. The problem with the "B" pair is that both side arms are heavily corroded after being worn in countless (25 ?) hot sweaty summers. This morning one of those side arms finally broke. I did buy a 1.99 pair of reading glasses, and I think that with a bit of metalwork I can repair my glasses using the reading gasses side arms. Before mutilating the reading glasses I gave them a try, I think they were a fairly weak prescription. They said 1.25 on them , and some others went up to at least 2.5. I have to admit they did work to a ceratain extent. Looking at some print it did seem sharper, but to get it in focus I had to bring it closer to my eye than I really preferred. I suppose they would be useful for reading the fine print next time I sign a contract, but I reckon I would end up singeing my nose with my soldering iron if I were to use them at work.

 Since shopping in Poundstetcher I have done very little of any note. I did download the latest version of Smoothwall Express (version 3 with service pack 1), and I  burned  the iso image to CD and designed a label to print using my lightscribe CD burner. I also identified the PC I am going to install it on - but not today. I don't know when I will build my new firewall, but when I do I will describe it in my computer blog area.

 I think I am going to have an early night tonight. Very soon I will be going up to bed (it's 7 pm as I write these words). Initially I will be doing some reading, but by 8 pm I expect I will turn out the lights and see if I go to sleep. I think I will !
Sunday 3rd May 2009
 14:22 BST

 Today has not been quite as good as yesterday. There has been plenty of sunshine, but also a lot of cloud. The other significant feature has been some mildly strong gusts of wind. The temperature is hovering between mild and warm, but those gusts of wind, even though they are not all that strong, do add a bit of chill when outside. Since midday the cloud has been getting thicker. It is still bright outside, but we seem to have lost the sunshine now, and I fancied I did feel the very lightest, mistiest, touch of rain when I was outside a little while ago.  I feel sure that there will be some rain before sundown, and some moderate to heavy showers would come as no surprise.

 I started my 24 hour urine collection at 05:30 this morning. Since then I have collected every drop every time I have taken a pee. This, of course, is simplicity in itself. What I hadn't been prepared for is the apparent reaction between my pee and the preservative acid that the hospitals pathology department put in the collection bottle. I don't know what that acid is, but it is clear, colourless, and odourless. The apparent reaction between the odourless acid, and (so I believe) fairly odourless fresh pee is to create a really awful stench. In the short period of time I have to take the cap off the container to pour in my urine I have to hold my nose. I pity the poor lab technician who has to analyse that !

 I was more than happy to get a call from Patricia this morning announcing that she was coming to visit. Unfortunately she only stayed for a few hours. After we had gossiped for a bit we went out for a walk in the park. Apart from the occasion cool gust of wind it was very pleasant out there. However it was a shame that it was not a bit warmer and a lot windier. Patricia has, for reasons she cannot explain, recently bought a kite.  I believe she has had some success flying it on Blackheath common, but it was less successful today.
Patricia flying her kite, or attempting to.
 If the wind had been blowing steadily I think it would have worked well, but the wind was typically blowing for a few seconds, and then dropping for a minute or so. It's a shame I didn't manage to capture a picture when she did get the kite in the air properly.

  After some time of attempting to fly the kite we had a sit down in the sunshine for ten or fifteen minutes. Then the sun went behind a cloud and we decided to go an buy some ingredients for lunch.  I was not sure if Tesco's was open today because they usually close on the Sunday before a bank holiday. Instead of possibly wasting the walk to Tesco's I thought it would be worth investigating the Turkish food shop near to Catford Bridge station. That turned out to be a good idea. We bought some really wonderful fresh crusty bread with seeds on it, some salami, some spam like stuff made with chicken, some cheese slices, fresh tomotoes, and some olives. When we got home we attacked that lot in almost picnic like style spread all over the little table in the living room. It was all rather delicious, and there is still more left over for me to eat later.

 After we had our lunch we sat talking for a little while, and then sadly Patricia decided she was going to go home again and have a thouroughly lazy afternoon. I think that's what I am going to do too. In a minute I am going to lay on my bed, listen to a Sherlock Holmes story, and when that's finished I am going to close my eyes and see what happens.
Saturday 2nd May 2009
 16:57 BST

 Most of today has been very fine, and generally fairly warm. I awoke to find the sky mostly clear, and the sun already shining (I also found a cat sitting on me !). Since then the clouds have gathered, but up until very recently the sun has only been shaded by a cloud a few times, and even then only briefly. Now, as we enter early evening, the clouds seem thicker, and the sun is heavily hazed by clouds. I haven't seen a weather forecast, but I would hazard a guess that there could be some rain tonight, or maybe tomorrow.

 Yesterday morning seemed stunning. Sometime after 9 am, perhaps half past, I went to the hospital to get my kit for the 24 hour urine analysis test. (There are pictures of the empty container, and my instructions here). I took the scenic route to the hospital through the park, and then the scenic route through the hospital (i.e. I got lost following contradictory signs) to the pathology labs reception. Getting back out of the hospital was far easier than getting in ! I took the long way home calling in at the 99p shop where I couldn't find any "D" cells on sale, and then on to Poundstretcher where I did find some "D" cells (also on sale for a coincidental 99p). While I was in the 99p shop I did have a good rummage around and bought a couple of belts. In Poundstretcher I also bough a couple of storage boxes.  In all it was quite a long walk, and I estimate I was out and about for a good 90 minutes.

 It was very lovely in the park. Apart from noisy little kids in the sports section it was quiet and peaceful, and all the time the sun was shining down on me. By the time I got home from my little odyessy I felt quite hot and almost sweaty. It was nice to sit down and have some breakfast.  After eating I took the opportunity to lie down and listen to some Sherlock Holmes. I could have stayed listening for some time, but after one story I tried to have a snooze. I never really did drop off to sleep, and after a while I got a bit restless and decided to do some housework. That worked really rather well. I managed to half fill my wheelie bin with some stuff I had been meaning to throw out for ages. After that I gave my bedroom a very good hoovering, and re-arranged things to make even more room up there. If, and it's possible I may tackle it tomorrow, I clean and tidy up my bookshelves, then my bedroom will be the neatest,tidiest and almost normal looking than it has ever looked before !

 If I do get afflicted by the housework bug again tomorrow I may well do even more work to the front bedroom. Although I got it unusually neat and tidy in case Patricia needed to use it again, there is still a lot of stuff up there that could be thrown out. I won't be able to do any throwing out until the wheelie bin is emptied next Thursday, but I could sort some stuff out into bin bags ready to throw out after then. To truly get that front bedroom fully neat and tidy I need to move some stuff, mainly a filing cabinet, downstairs. Before I can do that I will somehow have to make room in the back room where most of my computer stuff is. Sorting that lot out will be a proper nightmare.

 What would be nice tomorrow would be to go out for an extended lunchbreak in the pub. Unfortunately I can't, or at least it would be rather tricky. Whatever I do, I ideally need to stay close to my toilet. Once I start my 24 hour urine collection I have to get every last drip of pee into the sample bottle.  Now it doesn't need to go straight in, and I could transfer it from other containers,  but it would be a trifle embarrasing to take some empty cola bottle with me if I went to the pub, and use them every time I needed to pee. I think it will definitely be a lot better to do all that business here in my own home. Now if I am lucky I will get some company tomorrow. Patricia mentioned she may drop in tomorrow, or maybe bank holiday Monday. It would be even better if she were available both days, but that would be pushing optimism too far. If Patricia visited tomorrow, and the weather was fine, we could take a walk in the park or something, but if she visits on Monday, and once again if the weather was fine, we could possibly go further than just the park. The only definite thing I will be doing on Monday is taking my sample back to the hospitals pathology lab reception in the morning. (They did confirm they would be open on the bank holiday).
Friday 1st May 2009
 08:03 BST

 
To my great surprise, this morning it is bright and sunny.  Looking to the north, there doesn't seem to be a cloud in the sky, and I will assume the same goes for the south, but I can't see that way as I sit here at my PC...............curiosity got the better of me, the southern sky is blue and cloudless too ! It seems optimistic that it will stay this way, but it would be very nice if it did.  It turned out that my predictions for yesterday were all wrong. After the exceptionally grey start to the day there was a bit of drizzle during the morning, but the cloud did break up a bit during the afternoon.  By the time I reached Catford, on my way home from work, the sun managed to find a small gap in the clouds, and I was treated to bright sunshine.

 I came home via Tesco last night. Inside the store I found something that could break the diet of evn the most conscientious, and strong willed dieter - Marmite flavoured dry roasted cashew nuts ! I refused to even consider the implications that eating a packet would have on my (currently) fading attempts at loosing weight. They really were "the nectar of the Gods" ! There was other stuff I ate last night that I feel guilty about eating, but not those Marmite flavoured dry roasted cashew nuts...drooooooooooool !

 At 10 am yesterday I attempted to phone the phlebotomy department at my doctors group practice. The leaflet my doctor gave me said that they were open for enquiries at that time, but it was not until about 10 past 10 that their answerphone was disconnected, and I managed to speak to a human (or vampire). Although my doctor was sure that they could furnish me with the kit to collect my 24 hour urine sample they had other ideas. They practically told me that they thought I was taking the piss when I asked them to take mine, and made it quite clear that all they wanted was blood ! So I phoned reception and told my tale of woe to them. They promised to phone me back with the answer, and within about 30 minutes they did. It seems I have to collect my piss kit from reception at Lewisham hospital's pathology department.

 The pathology department, or at least their reception desk, is only open during normal office hours. That meant I would have to take some time off work. I had a choice of a half day yesterday, or the whole day today (either as holiday rather than sick leave, although the owner of the company would probably have suggested taking the half day as sick leave, but he wasn't in yesterday).  I thought that taking the whole day off today was the best idea as it gives me a nice extra long weekend break. A bit later this morning I will take a stroll round to the hospital and see what they offer to collect my entire urine output for 24 hours. I'll also find out what they want me to do with it once I have it.

 I am not sure what I will be doing for the rest of today, but at some point it might involve some light drinking. One possibility might have been a lunchtime pint with Ivor, who I haven't seen for ages now, but he works from home on Fridays, and doesn't come into London. At some point I may hook up with Iain for a drink, but if that happens it is more likely to be a very early evening drink. It would be sort of nice to get wasted tonight, but with Aleemah coming over tomorrow I ought to be able to get up bright and early tomorrow.

 What I should do today is to get out in the garden and hack a lot of the growth down. Spring is truly here and everything is growing like wildfire. It is amazing just how much growth seems to have happened in the space of a week.  The only trouble is I don't feel much like gardening right now. Well, I suppose I never really feel like gardening, but I feel like it even less than usual.